Monday, April 27, 2009

Flatter Than a Pancake

Recap of tonight's game for Baseball Digest

Running on Empty in the Motor City

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2 10 0
1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 X
4 6 0

WP - Verlander (1-2) LP - Sabathia (1-2)

There isn’t much going right for the New York Yankees these days. Get good hitting, get poor pitching. Get good pitching, get poor hitting. Unfortunately, poor pitching and poor hitting have occurred on the same night way too often. Sprinkle in poor defense and you’ve got one ugly trifecta. The good pitching, poor hitting scenario was in effect in tonight’s 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers. It was the Yankees fourth straight loss and extended the Tigers winning streak to three games.

CC Sabathia pitched better than a 4.50 game ERA would indicate, but his complete game effort was overshadowed by a dominant performance by the Tigers’ Justin Verlander. The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year entered tonight’s contest with a 9.00 ERA, but he easily blew his fastball by the Yankees’ anemic bats. Verlander struck out nine and scattered seven hits over seven scoreless innings for his first win of the year. The Yankees rallied for a pair of runs off closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning, but it was too little too late.

The Tigers jumped on the scoreboard in the first inning when Placido Polanco doubled and scored on a Miguel Cabrera single. The Yankees didn’t have a legitimate scoring threat until the fourth when Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui led off the inning with back to back singles. It was all for naught though as Verlander retired Robinson Cano on a fly out to right and blazed pitches past the slumping Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera for a pair of strikeouts.

The Tigers put the game away in the sixth when Curtis Granderson reached on a one out bunt single and came all the way around from first to score on Polanco’s second double of the game. One batter later Magglio Ordonez hit his second home run of the season for a 4-0 lead. The ball ricocheted off the top of the right field wall and went over, out of the reach of a leaping Swisher.

Despite the final score, Sabathia had one of his best outings. In giving the bullpen a night off, he scattered six hits, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out seven. 70 of his 99 pitchers were for strikes. But Verlander was even better. He retired seven hitters in a row at one point before Ramiro Pena, who had two hits off of him, and Derek Jeter opened the seventh inning with singles. That ended the night for Verlander, who left to a huge ovation.

It doesn’t matter who the pitcher is these days, the Yankees don’t get hits with runners in scoring position. Bobby Seay was the reliever this time around, and Johnny Damon, Teixeira, and Matsui were the culprits, stranding both runners.

The Yankees broke up the shut out when Cano lined a double up the gap in left-center to start the ninth against Rodney and scored on Swisher’s RBI single. Cabrera singled to right to put runners on the corners with no one out, but pinch-hitter Jorge Posada bounced into a run scoring, rally killing double play. Rodney then retired Pena on a shallow fly to left for the game’s final out.

Game Notes

Derek Jeter would like to forget his first inning strikeout, but he won't. The at-bat was the 8,103rd of Jeter's career, putting him ahead of Mickey Mantle for first place on the Yankees all-time list.

The Yankees continue to have difficulty scoring without going yard. Tonight they were 1-9 with runners in scoring position.

two strikeouts gave him 15 in 43 at-bats.

With two hits and a spectacular play to take a bunt hit away from Gerald Laird, Pena certainly earned himself another start at third base.

Phil Hughes makes his 2009 debut Tuesday night as he tries to snap the Yankees four game losing streak. He’ll be opposed by Edwin Jackson.

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