The Yankees got their first victory in the new Yankee Stadium, with Derek Jeter providing the winning margin in a 6-5 contest with an 8th inning solo homer. The bullpen gave the Yankees 4.1 innings of shutout work after Joba Chamberlain struggled mightily with his command and allowed 5 runs on 6 hits and 5 walks in 4.2 innings. The Yankees also got solo home runs from Mark Teixiera, Robinson Cano, Johnny Damon, and Melky Cabrera.
What I Liked
1) Mark Teixeira: He played his first game following his cortisone shot and came through with a titanic home run and two walks. While his overall numbers look abysmal, he has been great in the field and he is a notoriously slow starter with the stick anyhow. The Yankees brought him here for days like today, where he reached base three times and drove in a run in a close game.
2) The Bullpen (Brian Bruney In Particular): The pen was dominant today, with Phil Coke, Jon Albaladejo, Brian Bruney, and Mariano Rivera tossing 4.1 innings and allowing just three hits while striking out 5. The fact that Joe continues to go back to Coke suggests that the Yankees have faith in the rookie, and it was good to see him come through in a close game. Albie also asserted himself in his first appearance in a close game, and he may be an option to replace Veras in late game situations should Jose continue to struggle. Mariano allowed two hits but was able to notch the first save in the new Stadium, which is certainly fitting. But the story in the Yankees bullpen continues to be Brian Bruney. Joba’s poor start surely had the B-Jobbers up in arms, but Bruney’s performance should have quieted them. Bruney struck out two of the three batters he faced, and has struck out 7 of his last 8. He looks confident on the mound, and his slider to strike out Choo to end the 8th was as good a pitch I have seen all season.
3) Power from Cano and Jeter: Both players needed bounceback seasons, and both have shown encouraging power. Jeter is driving the ball to the opposite field, and his slugging is about where it needs to be for him to return to his 2007 stats. Cano is off to a great start, but his power thus far is an element that Yankees fans have been waiting for Robbie to develop for three seasons. It is too early to make any judgements as to whether these improvements are here to say, but there seem to be solid signs from both players.
What I Didn’t Like
1) Joba Chamberlain: Joba clearly didn’t have it today, but looked as if he would be able to muddle through 5 or 6 innings. However, he fell apart in the 5th, as he walked 9th hitter Asdrubal Cabrera for the second time and allowed three more hits in the inning, leading to an early exit. He threw more balls than strikes and allowed 5 walks in total. Just as an aside, Joba being 0-0 shows how stupid the win stat is. He left today’s game behind, but got bailed out by the offense. He left his last start ahead, but feel victim to his bullpen. Both games are treated equally by the win stat.
2) Hideki Matsui: Tom will cover this later, but Matsui looked awful in his pinch hit at bat. With Nady injured as well, the depth in the outfield has quickly evaporated.
1) It is too early to say that the new Stadium is a launching pad. There have been an inordinate amount of home runs hit in the Stadium’s four games (including 2 exhibition games), but runs like that happen in even the stingiest ballparks. Remember that right center was a power alley in the old ballpark as well. It may in fact be a park more amenable to offense, but that is a judgement that cannot be made at this point.
2) The Yankees left another 9 runners on base, going 0-9 with RISP. People are treating this as an epidemic, but it simply a normal statistical event. The best teams hit about .280 for a season, so expecting more than that with RISP is silly. Considering that, it is to be expected that teams will fail more than 7 out of 10 times with RISP. The fact that the Yankees have done poorly with RISP over the last few games means nothing in the long term. They are just as likely to go on a ridiculous stretch of coming through in those spots next week.
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