About Last Night: Did That Actually Happen?

Vidal Nuno pitching in Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox could have and probably should have been a recipe for disaster especially when you consider his habit of giving up the home run ball when he starts at home but a disaster isn’t what happened last night. Nuno was actually pretty good. And even though he only lasted 5.2 innings because of a high pitch count  — he left the game after throwing 91 pitches — he was actually quite effective during his somewhat limited outing, holding the Red Sox to only two hits. He also struck out five and walked two.

In the picture below, you will notice that the Red Sox, even when they were making contact, were only able to drive the ball a few times with the dots in green and light blue landing for hits.

hit-chart (39)

The ball that traveled the longest distance was Brock Holt‘s double in the third (the green dot in the picture above) which came on an 86 m.p.h. slider over the plate:

atbat-summary (57)

Not only was Nuno pitching well enough to win but the Yankees had a bit of a home run hitting party last night with Kelly Johnson and Brett Gardner going back-to-back in the bottom of the fourth off Boston’s starter Brandon Workman.

Johnson’s was on a 91 m.p.h. fastball over the plate:
atbat-summary (59)

Gardner’s was on a 92 m.p.h. fastball, also over the plate, but a bit lower than Johnson’s:
atbat-summary (58)

In the bottom of the eighth, Brian McCann reached down and hit this Craig Breslow offering into the second deck for a two-run shot to put the Yankees up 6-0:

atbat-summary (60)

Joe Girardi called upon lefty Matt Thornton to pitch the ninth inning. Thornton not only had a clean inning, but he was also, according to the radar gun on YES and according to ESPN’s data, throwing gas.

For the first out of the ninth, he got Mike Napoli to chase pitches that were up in the zone for a strikeout that ended on an elevated 97 m.p.h. fastball:
atbat-summary (61)

Then he induced two ground ball outs from Daniel Nava and A.J. Pierzynski to end the game.

This is Thornton’s heat map from last night. As you can see, he enjoyed offering the Red Sox batters high cheese:
strike-zone (31)

So far this season, the Yankees are 6-2 against the Red Sox and in those eight games, New York has scored 46 runs to Boston’s 24.

Tonight’s matchup will be Jon Lester vs. Masahiro Tanaka and you can watch the game on FOX starting at 7:15.

[Charts and heat maps courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info]

Stacey is co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money, co-host of the It's About The Money, Stupid podcast and is a monthly contributor to ESPN's SweetSpot Blog. She is a former contributor at Aerys Sports and High Heat Stats. She has contributed to group projects at Baseball: Past And Present and the Hall of Stats. Her work has appeared in USA Today's Sports Weekly and most recently, she wrote four pieces for Derek Jeter: Celebrating the Yankees' Captain Clutch, a magazine printed by i5 Publishing.