Last night was a pleasant surprise, I must say. Of all the match-ups this week, the Mussina (track record of inconsistency) vs. Kazmir (young fireballer, which the Yankees are prone to) one scared me the most. And, in all likelihood, this will actually be the easiest it will get for the Yanks this week. Tomorrow it’s Seth McClung, leaving the team open to the “he’s young and we haven’t seen a lot of him” excuse. And Thursday it’s Mark Hendrickson, whom the Yankees made look like a guy with a rack full of Cy Youngs.
But enough about the shakiness I feel about the coming games. Last night exemplified the notion of Win Expectancy: it’s not what you do, it’s when you do it. Case and point: Jason Giambi, whose rip shot double in the sixth put the Yanks up 8-1. But with a 6-1 lead late in the game, Giambi’s two RBI didn’t really help the team as much as his GIDP in the third hurt them. And the sac fly in the eighth was all but meaningless.
[MORE]Another point of note in tonight’s WE table is Posada’s positive contribution. Usually when you go 0 for 3 with a walk, you don’t contribute five percent to the win. That, however, may be my fault. See, Posada reached on an error in the first, allowing Giambi to score. The way the WE tracker is set up, there’s no way to really take the credit away from the hitter on plays like this (but you can charge the fielder instead of the pitcher for the outcome). So, figuring I’d be fair, I came up with a wacky idea: give Jorge the result of the play (reaching first, the equivalent of a single or a walk), and charge him with the third out (thus diminishing his contribution to the play). Then, I would simply reduce the outs back to two after the play, and go from there.
I realized the flaw in my logic after seeing Posada’s net WE: I had given him credit for the run. Looking back, I should have ran a play where Jorge committed the third out, thus lowering his WE as he had grounded out to end the inning. Then, I could have deleted Posada’s name and ran an anonymous play moving the runners up and scoring the run. That way, no single player would have gotten credit for the run scored. But, I wasn’t about to go back and run the whole game through the WE tracker again. Since Phillips was charged -.040 for committing the final out of the inning, and Posada was credited .057 for the should-have-been out, I could simply change Jorge’s WE for the game to -.047 (which isn’t totally accurate, but close enough). If I get enough comments voting for that, I’ll change it. Else, I’m just keeping it the way it is and hoping that someone comes up with a good formula for such errors.
Much like Sunday’s game was all about Randy and Jason, tonight was about Mike and Derek. Mussina continues to impress, and he’d better damn well continue that on Sunday, as I attend my first Yankees game of the year (in the bleachers, the only seats for which I’ll pony up the dough). His one-hit performance, including four 1-2-3 innings, was complemented by Derek Jeter’s two-run shot in the first, which would end up being all the Yanks would need. Thankfully, they’re not satisfied with that, and had to prove their manhood against Kazmir. I like the kid and all, but it was nice to see him get knocked around, not only because I’d like to see the Yanks score as many as possible per game, but because he made the Red Sox look like girly men last week in Fenway. Oh, and Jonny Gomes went deep in that game, too – though the ball he hit off Mussina wouldn’t have ended up on the Mass. Pike.
Another observation from the game: Matsui has recorded his sixth straight game with a negative WE, and that includes Saturday, when he doubled with the bases loaded. How, you ask, did he manage a negative WE in that game? Simple: he sucked otherwise, and his double came when the Yanks were already winning, thus owning a probability of winning over 50 percent. His other plate appearance: GIDP, fielder’s choice with guys on first and second and none out, fly out to center. This isn’t even to mention how lost he’s generally looked at the plate, striking out ten times in 73 plate appearances this year (obviously, once every 7.3 plate appearances). For comparison, in 2005, he struck out once every nine plate appearances. After watching him for three years, however, this looks like the kind of funk to which he’s prone.
On a final note, I’m not jumping on the “I Hate A-Rod” Bandwagon (championed by my father), but has anyone else been generally unimpressed with him this season? His numbers look fine, but it seems like he’s taking weak hacks at shitty pitches. Once again, I’m confident he’ll right the ship. And when he does, holy Lord, the Yankees are only going to be scarier.