Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Notes from Yanks/Pirates

Just a few notes on the ballgame, to flesh things out:

Funny how your perspective changes. The Pirates are one of the teams that I've covered regularly for the past seven months on Baseball Prospectus, so watching them get beat was a bittersweet process. I know this team better now than I've known most of the Yanks opponents in the past, so I was emotionally engaged when, for example, Ryan Doumit came to the plate, or watching a bit of intelligent hitting by Rob Mackowiak, or witnessing the jaw-dropping power that Jason Bay showed in the top of the 8th, when he tatooed a Tanyon Sturtze pitch on the line straight to center, and single handedly sent droves of Yankee "fans" headed for the exits.

Not that I ever forgot where my loyalties lie; it's just a dramatic change of pace from the Yanks/Sox or Mets/Yanks hatefests I often go to see.

Watching Kevin Brown pitch is excruciating. If he had a superior defense behind him, he might stand a puncher's chance. This is pure speculation, anyway, since "superior" ain't the word for the Yanks' defense. The Bucs' rally in the 4th was keyed by an error by Alex Rodriguez, which was called a base hit. (From where I was sitting, it looks like they applied the rule of "it can't be an error unless the guy gets some leather on the ball." Errors are a stupid, possibly outdated stat, for this and many other reasons.)

As it happened, I thought that the injury that got Brown off the mound was a fake, to buy time and get the bullpen into the game. Stottlemyre came to the mound in an obvious stalling tactic as Groom and a righty (Sturtze?) started warming desperately in the fifth. Stott then got chased off the mound, and didn't talk to the home plate ump as he went back to the dugout. A couple of (badly thrown) pitches later, Stott (or was it Torre at this point goes to the mound and bring trainer Gene Monihan with him. If Brown was hurting when Stott went to the mound the first time, why didn't Mel tell the ump? Maybe he did, and I just missed it, but the thing smelled of day old fish to me.

Word on Brown is that his back acted up. We are dry-eyed for him. Really, I wish the Yanks would eat all his salary, and find a willing trade partner in some baseball Siberia with no hope of getting into the first division. I don't just want Brown gone at this point, I want him to have to suffer with a bad team, with lousy infield defense.

A different bad team with lousy defense, at least.

Sadly, right now, the Yanks don't have five healthy starters without Brown. Heck, they don't have five healthy starters with Brown. Any way you slice it, they need this guy to take the mound every fifth day.

In the ninth, I have no idea what Alex Rodriguez was thinking, trying to score on the game-tying play. As Rodriguez rounded third, he held up. Whether that was the third base coach's decision or A-Rod's own, I dunno. But as soon as Rodriguez held up, the play was over. Matt Lawton made a great throw to the cutoff man, and the cutoff man (Jose Castillo?) made a nice throw to the plate, nailing Rodriguez by about forty feet.

By the way, judging from Alex's attempt to dislodge the ball from the grip of Pirates catcher Dave Ross, he has some work to do if he wants to cast aside his "Smacky McBlueLips" reputation. Weak attempt.

Some plays just kill a team. The Pirates had played some slick defense for much of the game, particularly the keystone combo of Castillo and Jack Wilson (Hey Jack! I apologize about the Jack the Wack Crack!). But in the bottom of the 10th, the Pirates correctly called a pitchout on a bunt attempt by Tony Womack, with Russ Johnson (pinch-running for Tino) at first. The runner was caught completely off the bag, a dead duck. Still, the Pirates blew the potential run down, and the runner got back to first base. Womack bunted him over, and then Giambi ended the game.

In the 10th, right up until Giambi ripped Jose Mesa to the upper deck, I was depressed about how far Steroid Boy had fallen. Giambi came to the plate and there was no longer any defensive shift, and Mesa pumped fastballs at him with relative impunity. I'm not convinced that the home run was the start of anything--just bad pitch that Mesa hung up where Jason could crush it. But I'm still glad that Giambi got this moment, if only because it's unlikely to be repeated.

1 comment:

Brutal Hugger said...

Giambi's June OPS is .923. This is either a hot streak (which would be pathetic) or Giambi is finally putting it together.

That double he smashed off the wall on Monday was a huge hit. From where I was sitting, I thought it missed going out by less than a foot.