I love day baseball. I’ve said this before, and I will say it again. I love day baseball. And this important considering I hate getting up in the morning, I like staying up late and I’m in New York. Add it all up, and I still love day baseball.
There was no postgame blog last night. My apologies. Here’s the gist of what it would have been about:
1. Felix Hernandez is good.
2. Michael Saunders is nothing like the player we saw last season.
3. Chone Figgins can’t see the ball in the twilight.
4. It might not be a fun day for Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Addressing each of them … Felix was ridiculously good last night. I saw two balls hit hard off of him the whole night – the hard liner to left off the bat of Robinson Cano that Michael Saunders made a tough catch to rob him of a sure double. And Mark Teixeira’s double to right to start the fourth. That’s it. The rest of the night I saw bad swing after bad swing from Yankee players. Think about all the checked swing strikes we saw. Those weren’t a product of Felix fooling hitters, but of his stuff simply overwhelming them.
The Yanks top five hitters – Jeter, Swisher, Teixeira, A-Rod and Cano – combined to go 1-for-15 with seven strikeouts. That’s domination.
From Elias: Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee have had complete game wins on consecutive days at Yankee Stadium. Hernandez and Lee are only the third pair of teammates to toss complete game wins against the Yankees in the Bronx on back-to-back days since 1985. Roger Clemens and Al Nipper did it for the Red Sox in 1987 as did Mark Langston and Jim Abbott for the Angels in 1991.
While we’ve seen outings like this from Felix before, seeing Saunders hit two homers isn’t something we’ve seen … well … ever in his career. Can we expect to see this on a regular basis? Maybe. Right now with his swing and his approach most of Saunders’ power comes from pulling the ball to right. Obviously, opposing teams are going to pick up on this. But what’s more impressive about Saunders is his confidence. Players often talk about the second time they are called up, having a sense of belonging. And Saunders does seem to give off that attitude. Even Russell Branyan has noticed it since he’s returned to the team.
“Yeah, he’s inquiring about pitchers, he’s talking about the game where last year he was just getting his feet wet,” Branyan said. “Last year, he was in the lineup and just playing the game. Now he’s showing his intelligence for the game, trying to learn the pitchers in the league. So far, from what I’ve seen of him, he’s having some good at-bats. He’s not a bad guy to have in that No. 9 hole.”
Obviously Figgins struggled last night with pop ups. The time between sunset and fall on darkness is always tough on pop ups. It’s a day game so he should have no troubles today.
And finally, Mr. Rowland-Smith has an uneviable task today of facing a Yankee linuep that’s somewhat surly after being shutdown for two straight days.
“We need to take some aggression out tomorrow,” Nick Swisher said after last night’s game.
Obviously, it’s conjecture, but in a way it’s true. You simply aren’t going to hold that lineup down for long. Can Rowland-Smith continue it? Logic isn’t on his side.
One thing that Felix said last night, left me thinking …
“I threw a lot of strikes,” he said. “That’s all you need to do against this team. This team is pretty good so you need to throw a lot of strikes.”
Yes, throwing strikes helps, but it’s the quality of strikes that Lee and Felix threw that made the difference. Lee’s command is so pinpoint that he’s never over the plate, while Felix’s stuff and movement are so ridiculous that he can get away with leaving a ball over more of the plate and not get hurt.
Rowland-Smith doesn’t have either. His command hasn’t been great this season, and has never been like Lee’s command. Obviously RRS doesn’t have Felix’s type of stuff. He doesn’t even have Lee’s stuff.
So yes, for Rowland-Smith to beat the Yankees, he needs to throw strikes, but they need to be quality strikes.
UPDATE: Franklin Gutierrez was a late scratch as he’s still suffering from flu-like symptoms. Ryan Langerhans will play left, Saunders will move to center … lineup is updated below.
- Ichiro RF
- Chone Figgins 2B
- Russell Branyan 1B
- Milton Bradley DH
- Jose Lopez 3B
- Josh Wilson SS
- Ryan Langerhans LF
- Josh Bard C
- Michael Saunders LF
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (1-7, 6.18)
- Derek Jeter SS
- Nick Swisher RF
- Mark Teixeira 1B
- Alex Rodriguez DH
- Robinson Cano 2B
- Jorge Posada C
- Curtis Granderson CF
- Brett Gardner LF
- Ramiro Pena 3B
LHP CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.49 ERA)