Yankees top A’s 6-3 behind solid outing from Nova

The Yankees began their West Coast trip in Oakland against the Athletics, with Ivan Nova squaring off against Tyson Ross.  Nova has apparently been bothered by a minor hamstring issue of late, but apparently it was not serious enough for him to miss a start.

Ross and Nova traded zeroes for the first two innings, and then the Yankees got on the board in the 3rd.  After a strikeout by Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson singled to left to put a runner on with 1 out.  Alex Rodriguez also went down on strikes, bringing up Robinson Cano.  Cano reached on an error by the usually sure-handed Coco Crisp, scoring Granderson and extending the inning.  Mark Teixeira made the A’s pay for the mistake, swatting a home run to right to bring in Cano, and give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

The A’s got on the board in the bottom of the 4th when former Red Sox outfielder Josh Reddick, who is having a fine season, hit a solo home run to center on an 88 mph fastball (maybe a 2-seamer/sinker?).  … Click here to read the rest

The Farm Report: 5/25/12

Trenton lost to Richmond 4-1:
The game was scoreless through three, but Richmond started the bottom of the fourth with a triple from Daniel mayora.  He scored on Tommy Joseph’s double and Chris Dominguez singled to put runners on the corners.  A ground out led to another run and the Flying Squirrels had a 2-0 lead.  Jose Pirela started the fifth with a double to left.  He scored on Abraham Almonte’s double, giving the Thunder a 2-1 deficit.  Richmond responded int he bottom of the inning.  Ryan Cavan drew a walk and Jose Flores was safe after Kevin Mahoney committed a fielding error.  Gary Brown was hit by a pitch, loading the bases and Nick Liles lined a single to center, scoring two more runs for Richmond who held onto a 4-1 lead for the win.

Pirela had a good first start since coming off the DL, going 2-3 with a run scored and a double.  Almonte, Corban Joseph and Zolio Almonte each had a hit for the rest of the Thunder offense.  … Click here to read the rest

May 25 Game Thread: West Coast games are the worst

The Yankees are out on the West Coast tonight to begin a 3-game series against the Oakland A’s, the start of a long road trip.  Ivan Nova takes the hill for the Bombers tonight, looking to avoid the home run problems that have plagued him this season.  The combination of a pitcher-friendly Oakland Coliseum and a weaker Oakland lineup should hopefully contribute on that front.  He’ll face off against Tyson Ross (2-4 5.73), who is primarily a fastball-slider guy.

Mark Teixeira is back in the #5 spot in the lineup, which according to Girardi is to help break up the left-handed hitters (since the A’s have several lefty relievers).  Eric Chavez is starting at DH, and the Raul Ibanez Experience will be in left field.  Should be a rollicking good time in the expansive confines of the Coliseum.

Lineups are below.  It’s going to be a late night (in case you can’t tell, I don’t like 10:00 starts), but let’s go Yankees (and NY Rangers)!… Click here to read the rest

Tyler Austin shows no signs of slowing down

Tyler Austin has put up impressive offensive numbers at pretty much every stop in his minor league career, and prospect watchers are beginning to take notice.  I certainly include myself among people who have underrated Austin throughout his short career, probably unfairly, because he didn’t have an elite draft pedigree or play a premium position.  As a guy who is likely limited to a corner outfield positions, the Austin’s offensive production needs to be very strong for him to be taken seriously as a legitimate prospect.

Evaluating players in the lower minors solely on the basis of numbers is problematic, since the level of competition is not always strong.  At the lower levels, pitchers likely have inferior command, weak secondary offerings, and lower velocity than more advanced pitchers, which could allow a hitter with significant flaws to put up impressive numbers.  It is still too early to tell whether this is the case with Austin, but with every day of continued success (and every rave from a scout who has seen him in person) it becomes increasingly less likely.… Click here to read the rest

Series preview: Yankees at A’s May 25-27

Where they stand:

Considered by many to be one of the worst teams in all of baseball before the season started, Oakland actually sits at a very surprising second place in the A.L. West right now with a 22-23 record, five games behind the Rangers entering play Friday. Their -20 run differential, on the other hand, is the worst in the division, and the third worst in the American League behind Minnesota and Kansas City. They’ve also been racked by injury, with three of their top starting pitchers- Brandon McCarthy, Dallas Braden, and Brett Anderson, joining big offseason acquisition Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list. In other words, it feels like it’s just about time for the bottom to fall out of this boat.

Offense:

The A’s haven’t been known for their offensive prowess for a while now, and the 2012 version of the club is no exception, ranking last in the American League in on base percentage, slugging percentage, wOBA, wRC+, isolated power, and runs scored.… Click here to read the rest

Athletics The Perfect Matchup For A Struggling Nova

Ivan Nova‘s numbers this year are far from flattering, and we’ve covered some theories behind why he might have a 5.69 ERA this season. A changeup issue appears to be responsible for some of his homeruns, but his slider has improved his strikeout rates. He’s currently looking at a 9.55 K/9, a 1.89 HR/9, and a .393 BABIP. It’s unlikely that Nova’s BABIP could legitimately jump .100 points in one season, and if you’ve watched his starts, bloop hits and groundball singles have become a common occurrence. As his BABIP regresses, I expect him to figure out his homerun issues, but also expect to see hitters figure out his slider. Patience will bring his ERA closer to that 3.47 xFIP he’s currently sporting, and there is no better team or stadium to get it started against tonight.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images North America

Nova’s major fault in 2012 is his absurd 19.2% HR/FB rate. Fortunately, O.co Coliseum ranked 26th overall in home run rates for 2011.… Click here to read the rest

Why is Nova giving up so many homers?

Looking at Nova’s player card at Brooks Baseball, the number that immediately sticks out like a sore thumb is the home run rate Nova is registering with his changeup. Of the 10 home runs Nova has allowed this season, four of them have come on the change, despite the fact that, according to Brooks, he’s thrown the pitch just 43 times in his eight starts. Suffice it to say, that’s not good. So what’s the problem here? Here’s Texas Leaguers’ plot of Nova’s location with the change:

That’s a lot of pitches left up in the zone and, assuming he’s primarily using the pitch against left-handed batters, a lot of pitches left up and over the plate where the pitch can be pulled and elevated. TYA’s Michael Eder recently wondered if Nova is tipping the pitch, which is possible, but that location alone goes a long way towards telling us why Nova is giving up so many big flies when he goes to his off-speed pitch.… Click here to read the rest