Thursday, April 26, 2012

You Can Never Have Too Much Pitching

"Pitching is 75 percent of baseball." -- Connie Mack

"Connie Mack lied." -- Billy Martin

No. He didn't. He may have exaggerated -- it's not three-quarters, but it's more than half -- but he was right.

*

In the first game of their series against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, CC Sabathia (2-0) pitched 8 innings, allowing 7 hits and just 1 walk, allowing 4 runs (which didn't matter because the Yankee bats worked), and Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect 9th (4th save). In other words, a good 1978-style pitching job by the Yankees (even if Sparky Lyle and Goose Gossage frequently went more than 1 full inning of relief).

The Yankee bats did work: Derek Jeter went 4-for-5 with an RBI, Robinson Cano went 2-for-5, Curtis Granderson drove in 2 runs with a hit, and Alex Rodriguez hit his 3rd home run of the season, a 3-run job, off Derek Holland (2-1). Yankees 7, Rangers 4.

The second game, things were different. Hiroki Kuroda (1-3) had good stuff, getting into the 7th having allowed just 2 runs. But the Yankees got none off the Rangers' own Japanese pitcher, the much-heralded Yu Darvish (3-0). Jeter and Cano each got 2 hits, but the rest of the Yankees combined got just 3 (Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Eric Chavez). Rangers 2, Yankees 0.

And then yesterday, it was a bad day for the Yankees all around.

1st reason: It was revealed that Michael Pineda, who was the key to sending the much-hailed Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners (where, so far, he's batting .281 but with a 94 OPS+, 2 homers and 11 RBIs), has a torn labrum and will be out for a year. In other words, not only will he not pitch this season, but he won't even be ready for Opening Day next season. The start of May 2013 is more likely.

2nd reason: The guy we might have been counting on to replace him, Andy Pettitte, did not pitch well for the Trenton Thunder last night, going only 5 innings, allowing 7 hits (but only 1 walk) and 4 runs (3 of them earned), in a game the Thunder went on to lose 10-4 to the Erie Seawolves. (Consolations: Left fielder Ronnier Mustelier and DH Cody Johnson are hitting the tar out of the ball down there.)

3rd reason: Phil Hughes started for the Yankees, and looked even more like he should be relegated to the bullpen. He didn't get out of the 3rd inning, and this time we can't blame the hideous fielding of Eduardo Nunez, who didn't even play.

Aside from a home run (his 3rd) and a double from Raul Ibanez, last night's game was a total waste. David Phelps, the young righthander that a lot of fans want to replace Hughes (or Pineda) in the rotation, also got hit hard, and didn't look like the answer to any question.

There was one more item of interest: Jeter got 2 more hits. He's now batting .420. This is what happens with Batman if his parents live long enough to help him grow up.

But hardly enough to help. Rangers 7, Yankees 3. WP: Robbie Ross (4-0). LP: Hughes (1-3).

A saying becomes a cliche by containing some truth. So do not roll your eyes when I say, "You can never have too much pitching."

*

So the Yankees have a travel day today, and begin a weekend series at The Stadium Mark II against the Detroit Tigers, the team that knocked us out of the Playoffs last season.

Friday night, 7:00: A big pitching matchup, Ivan Nova (our most consistent starting pitcher since last year's All-Star Break) vs. Justin Verlander (last season's American League Most Valuable Player).

Saturday afternoon, 4:00 (on Fox): Freddy Garcia vs. Drew Smyly. Oh, wonderful: A Fox game, a pitcher the Yankees have never seen (the 22-year-old lefty from Arkansas has pitched 3 major league games, with an ERA of 1.13), and Garcia hasn't pitched well so far. This looks like an L.

Sunday afternoon, 1:00: CC vs. Max Scherzer. Probably our best chance for a win in the series.

*

As of the conclusion of last night's games, the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays are tied for first place in the AL Eastern Division. The Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays are each 1 game back. The Boston Red Sox are 3 1/2 back, 3 in the loss column.

A-Rod Tracker: 2,790 hits, 210 for 3,000; 632 home runs, 68 for 700 and 131 for the record 763.

* Last night, the Mets beat the Miami Marlins 5-1 at Citi Field, having taken 2 out of the first 3 in a series that concludes this afternoon. Jose Reyes, who left, went 1-for-8 in the series. David Wright, who stayed, hit a home run to give him 753, making him the all-time franchise leader, surpassing Darryl Strawberry.

Where would those 753 RBIs place the Mets' all-time leader on the Yankees' list?

1. Lou Gehrig 1,995
2. Babe Ruth 1,971
3. Joe DiMaggio 1,537
4. Mickey Mantle 1,509
5. Yogi Berra 1,430
6. Bernie Williams 1,257
7. Derek Jeter 1,209 and counting
8. Bill Dickey 1,209
9. Tony Lazzeri 1,154
10. Don Mattingly 1,099
11. Jorge Posada 1,065
12. Bob Meusel 1,005
13. Alex Rodriguez 910 and counting
14. Paul O'Neill 858
15. Graig Nettles 834
16. Wally Pipp 826 (he really was a great player)
17. Dave Winfield 818
18. Tommy Henrich 795
19. Roy White 758

Think about that: David Wright is the greatest player the Mets have had at his position (3rd base), and the best player the Mets have had over the last 10 years (at the start of which, Mike Piazza was already in decline)... and he hasn't even had more RBIs than Roy White.

Even if you only count those players whose career stats have been solely from the birth of the Mets in 1962 onward, it doesn't help a lot:

1. Bernie Williams 1,257
2. Derek Jeter 1,209 and counting
3. Don Mattingly 1,099
4. Jorge Posada 1,065
5. Alex Rodriguez 910 and counting
6. Paul O'Neill 858
7. Graig Nettles 834
8. Dave Winfield 818
9. Roy White 758

So, even then, Wright would only make the top 10.

The Mets.

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