Games » New York YankeesAug15
Best game of the year. Even better than the Stephen Strasburg game. Games like this are why you keep watching, even when your team is out of it. A guy up from the minors for a spot start holds the Yankees’ lineup to two hits?
Holds Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Lance Berkman, Curtis Granderson, Francisco Cervelli and Jorge Posada hitless?
The stadium was rocking the last two innings, just like old times. Bryan Bullington did the three things pitchers have to do to succeed: He threw strikes, changed speeds and worked quick.
And when a pitcher puts up a game like this, don’t forget the catcher’s contribution. Reporters were surrounding Bully at his locker after the game. Across the room, Brayan Pena was watching with a big grin on his face. I went over and congratulated him, and he told me Bullington deserved all the credit (lots, but not all). No wonder his teammates love Pena.
Pitching A-Rod inside…
Before the game, I asked Sean O’Sullivan, now that he’d had 24 hours to think about it, if he would’ve pitched Alex Rodriguez any differently. Sean struck him out going up and in and then gave up a home run down and in. Sean said the home run pitch was supposed to be in on A-Rod’s belt but missed that spot. He held his hand up and said, “Miss your release point by an inch here and you miss by a foot at the plate.”
Sean agreed that A-Rod needed to be pitched up and in, and Bullington, sitting about three feet away, seemed to be listening. About an hour an a half later, he proved he was.
Some of the system categories are totally subjective (but then, so are balls and strikes), and those are the hardest to judge. For heads-up baserunning, I’m looking for an extra 90 feet being picked up by an alert runner. It happened three times in this game: once for Willie Bloomquist and twice by Gregor Blanco. All three were on overthrows, but Willie and Gregor were in position to take advantage of a mistake (and after a slide, not all baserunners are). They made quick reads (another skill not all baserunners possess), popped up and got the extra base.
If there were a category for outstanding hustle, Mitch Maier would’ve gotten points. Twice he busted it getting down to second in an effort to break up double plays. Both times he narrowly missed getting into the pivot man, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.
I asked John Gibbons about the mental mistake I gave Wilson Betemit in the previous game for not picking up a bunt. Gibby said, “Yeah, that’s the third baseman’s ball. Hell, Lee, you’ve been right about everything you’ve ever brought up.” I then asked if he could come home with me and talk to my wife.
More Mitch and Mike…
I told Mike Aviles he owed me $17 and he asked just how I figured that. I said I tried his trick of changing batting gloves to break a slump and still took an O-fer, “And I know it’s not me.”
Aviles, now laughing: “Clearly not.”
We then discussed the rules for changing batting gloves. According to Mike, they get a “CG” (complete game). If they aren’t producing after that, “They know what their job is and they understand what happens if they don’t produce.” We then discussed changing bats, T-shirts, socks and were deep into the ramifications of pant length when a voice said, “He’s such a ––- (extremely unflattering name).”
It was Maier, commenting on Mike’s obsessions. Aviles immediately countered, “Oh yeah? Tell him about your cleats!” Mitch confessed that if a pair of shoes didn’t produce, they went into “timeout.” How long? “Indefinite. I’m running out. It’s getting so bad I’m going to be out there in turf shoes.”
Maybe that’s what happened to Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Quality time with Frank…
I had a long conversation with Frank White that ranged over a lot of subjects, one being Yuniesky Betancourt. I told him that I was just like everyone else: Coming into the season, I thought he was a bad shortstop, but watching every day had made the picture quite a bit more complex.
He agreed that Yuni could still struggle with the routine play, but thought he’d improved a lot this season. Frank pointed out that if you make up your mind about someone and refuse to reconsider, you’ll miss a player who works hard and gets better…and maybe lose him to another organization that’s paying closer attention. Frank thinks a very athletic shortstop who is hitting almost .270, has 10 home runs and 51 RBIs at the bottom of the order is worth keeping.
Now if they could only get him to make the easy ones.
I asked Frank what he thought of the system now that we’d been using it awhile, and he said he thought the first-half analysis was so good, he carries a copy around with him for reference purposes. Pretty strong endorsement.