Phil Hughes wasn’t exactly sharp last night, as he did walk five batters in 6.1 innings. He struck out six, though, so that helped his cause. The other thing that I was happy about–and RAB commenter ZZ pointed this out–was that Hughes stuck with his changeup last night.
We’ve all been harping on Phil to use it this season and last night, a game in which he didn’t have a ton of command, he worked on his most undeveloped secondary offering. He threw it 15 times, getting it called for a strike nine of those times. He also got a swing and miss on one. I guess now, when the season is basically over, is a great time for him to work on the pitch. That he was able to do it relatively effectively against the Rays is just a bonus. Hopefully, we see this moving forward in his next start and in the playoffs. I’m still unsure as to who should start a game three–Hughes or Burnett. Frankly, they’re just about equal at this point. Both are capable of dominating and both are capable of blowing up. I guess it depends on the opponent and the matchups. I should just worry about getting there first…
Speaking of that, the Yankees shaved off one game to make the magic number for the playoffs four and the O’s slapped around the Sox 9-1 to make it three. The playoffs are right there.
I didn’t get to watch most of the game and when I did, I found myself again frustrated by poor analysis from Michael Kay and John Flaherty. The frustration came from their discussions of Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton and how they’ve had bad years. On the surface, yeah, it looks like they’ve had very bad years. They’re both hitting in the low .200s and have struck out a lot. But, if we scratch the surface–which the announcers didn’t do–we can find positives (numbers do not include last night’s game).
Despite a super low batting average and a lot of strikeouts, Carlos Pena still has a .331 OBP, a .332 wOBA (aided by a 15% walk rate and a .216 IsoP), and 27 home runs. While those numbers may not be fantastic, they’re not below replacement level or anything. In fact, they’re just about average–the rate stats, that is.
As for Upton, we know he’s got plenty of steals. He’s also still hitting for good power with a .185 IsoP. He’s still taking his walks with an 11% walk rate. UZR doesn’t like his defense that much this year, but his wOBA is still .337. Again, despite a low average and high strikeout rates, B.J. Upton has been productive in 2010. Memo to Kay and Flaherty: Batting average doesn’t tell the whole story.
Nick Swisher belted his 27th homer last night
, leaving him just two from tying his career high of 29, which was set last year. Swish and is headed for a career year and could reach 30 homers for the first second time in his career.
Jorge Posada clearly attended the Bronx School of Acting with Derek Jeter and it showed last night. It won’t draw nearly as much commentary, but it’s still at least a little amusing. It ended up being a non-factor when Lance Berkman hit an ‘atom ball’ right to Carlos Pena.
Subjectively, the strikezones for both games appeared quite odd, so I ran to BrooksBaseball to check.
For Monday, I count at least 12 pitches in the strikezone called for balls. I count the same number of balls that missed the zone called for strikes.
For Tuesday, I see seven strikes called as balls. I see eight balls called as strikes.
This is not good. You can’t review balls and strikes in any instant replay system, but MLB needs to tell the umpires to come up with a standardized strikezone and enforce it. I sound like a broken record, but this needs to happen. It’s unfair for batters and pitchers to have to guess at what the strikezone is going to be depending on who the plate umpire happens to be.
All in all, it was a successful day for the Yankees. They won, the Red Sox lost, and they gained another game on Tampa Bay. Regardless of how gloomy things seemed in Texas and Tampa, they look great now.