Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cold Start

Joe Girardi said entering the season that he believed the Yankees would have a good chance to win every time out because of the quality of the starting rotation. Two games in, we have yet to see anything resembling quality.

CC Sabathia got rocked in 4-1/3 in the opener. Chien-Ming Wang wasn't even that good in Game 2. Wang gave up seven runs on nine hits and three walks in 3-2/3 innings as the Yankees lost 7-5 to the Orioles Wednesday.

The Yankees had been hoping to get off to a fast start, reversing a trend in recent years of starting poorly. The Yankees have plenty of time to get April turned around, but won't be able to do it unless the starting pitching starts living up to expectations.

The Good
After Wang left, the bullpen was brilliant with Edwar Ramirez, Jonathan Albaladejo and Jose Veras combining for 4-1/3 scoreless innings. Had the offense woken up a little earlier, the Yanks might have had chance to comeback in this one. ... The Yankees seem to have an edge in the running game. Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon and Robinson Cano all stole bases, but more importantly, Jorge Posada threw out two attempted base stealers. Posada's ability to throw out base stealers was his biggest defensive concern entering the season, and by throwing two runners Wednesday -- and three in the two games -- Posada is certainly sending a message to the rest of the league that his shoulder is just fine. Girardi just has to make sure to spot Posada enough rest as that shoulder continues to get stronger. ... Mark Teixeira after failing to get a hit in his first eight at-bats on the season finally broke through in the ninth with an RBI double to right. Maybe he can relax now. ... Jeter and Cano are swinging the bat well, with Jeter going 2-for-4 with a two-run homer in the ninth and Cano going 2-for-4 with an RBI double.

The Bad
Bad is the kind way to describe Wang's performance. Awful is more accurate. He allowed four of the first five batters he faced in the first to reach base, with two scoring. One of Posada's caught stealings prevented the damage from being worse. Wang got through the next two innings, though not cleanly. Then he blew up in fourth, his night ending with Nick Markakis' two-run homer. He struck out none and combined with Sabathia's outing Monday, that means the next Yankee starter to record a strike out will be the rotation's first of the season. ... The Yankees have a history of struggling against pitchers they've never faced before and that did not change Wednesday. Koji Uehara pitched five innings allowing one run on five hits and a walk. ... After Uehara left, the Yanks seemed to come to life with Posada and Cano hitting back-to-back double to score a run. A wild pitch moved Cano to third with no outs, but the Yanks failed to capitalize with Xavier Nady lining to short, Cody Ransom popping to out and Brett Gardner grounding out. The offense died after that until the too little, too late rally in the ninth. ... Hideki Matsui went 0-for-5 and is 1-for-10 on the season. He made the final out of the game, popping out to third as the potential tying run.

What We Learned
Wang is a bigger question mark than I wanted to admit during the spring. He became shakier as the spring went on and could not be worse against the Orioles. Is he favoring his right foot? Is he still rusty from that 10-month layoff? Are his mechanics off? He and pitching coach Dave Eiland have to get that figured out fast.

Hey Dave...
Before you and Red Sox Nation start writing off the Yankees, just remember, the last time the Yankees started 0-2 was 1998. In fact, they lost their first three games and four of their first five that year. Joe Torre's job was rumored to be in jeopardy. All the Yankees did was go on to win 125 games, including the playoffs, and win the first of three straight World Series.

Runner On Third, Less Than Two Outs
One situation

Three situations
0-for-3, SF, RBI

Today's Game
A.J. Burnett vs. Alfredo Simon
The Yanks need Burnett to be the stopper and they have the right opponent for Burnett, who is 7-1 lifetime against the Orioles. Of course, the Yankees have never faced Simon before.

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