William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

Author Archives: William Tasker

Yankees sweep Mets on Martin’s walk-off homer

Andy Pettitte started the game for the Yankees and pitched six strong innings. His only rough inning was the second. Scott Hairston led off the inning with a double. Pettitte then struck out Lucas Duda, but Rottino then hit a single to score Hairston. Pettitte walked Omar Quintanilla after Rottino stole second. With Mike Nikeas up, Robinson Cano was playing near second, perhaps also to keep Rottino close the the bag. Nikeas hit the ball just to the shortstop side of second and it was a ball that looked just like a play Cano made earlier in the week. But instead of getting what looked like a double-play ball, Cano booted it and everyone was safe. Jordany Valdespin took advantage and doubled to right to score Rottino and Quintanilla. Pettitte escaped further damage in the inning, but threw 36 pitches and was trailing 3-0.

That was all Pettitte allowed the rest of his outing. But in the sixth inning, Scott Hairston, leading off the inning, hit a smash up the middle.…

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Admiration for Terry Collins

This new-found admiration does not mean that Collins always makes the right moves in the dugout. Last night’s decision to have Jordany Valdespin pinch hit for a much more experienced Scott Hairston in the ninth inning seemed particularly jarring. But otherwise, these New York Mets have played way over their talent level and Collins has to get some of the credit. The team is four games over their Pythagorean win-loss projection based on their run differential.

But it is more than that. It was his emotional response to allowing Johan Santana remain in the game to finish his no-hitter. It was obvious how much Collins cared about his pitcher and that pitcher’s health. The old Terry Collins would not have been of that particular mindset. And when things go wrong, he is the first to take the blame. He blamed his own decision to give that same Santana extra rest for Santana’s recent bad outing against the Yankees. His backing of Ike Davis despite the first baseman’s epic struggles speaks to his understanding of how much his team cares about Davis and his future.…

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Two homers and Phil Hughes lead Yanks over Mets, 4-2

Phil Hughes was not nearly as efficient as he was in his last start. By the time he left with one out in the seventh, he had thrown 108 pitches. But he walked only one batter all night and other than two solo homers by Quintanilla and David Wright, kept the Yankees in the game and allowed them to take back the lead and gain the victory. Hughes struck out six batters. The homers allowed by Hughes and the other Yankee starters has been the subject of much discussion this season, but if those homers lead to only two runs and add up to a quality start and a win, the Yankees will take that all season from Hughes.

The other topic of discussion all season has been the Yankees’ record with men on base, men in scoring position and when the bases are loaded. Tonight’s game was a mixed bag. Derek Jeter snapped a seventeen at-bat skid without a hit in the first inning with a broken bat single.…

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Yankees jump Santana – crush Mets, 9-1

In Santana’s defense, he probably should have escaped the third inning without any runs. With two outs, Alex Rodriguez was in a two-strike hole and Santana appeared to have made a perfect pitch over the inside corner. The umpire did not raise his right arm and as happens countless times in baseball, that lack of a call led to an A-Rod single that set the stage for the barrage that followed.

But it really would not have mattered because this game belonged to Kuroda. His fastball had lots of late life and was humming in there in the 93 MPH range most of his outing. Once he got ahead of hitters, he put them away with his change-up as he struck out seven Mets along the way. The only concern of his outing was his very last pitch that ended the seventh. Daniel Murphy hit a hard smash up the middle that hit Kuroda on a line to the pitcher’s foot.…

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The bloom is off the Cory Wade rose

Wade still has a pretty great pitching line for the season. His 2.84 ERA is backed by a 2.95 FIP and a 2.18 SIERA. He also has struck out 9.95 batters per nine innings to go along with a clean 1.42 walks per nine rate. That is a pretty special 7.0 strikeout to walk ratio. But frankly, his stuff hasn’t been there lately. He has given up runs in three of his last five outings and has not struck out a batter in his last three appearances. What is the most bothersome is his velocity. Consider the following chart via Fangraphs (click on the chart to see it better):

PitchF/X has his four-seam fastball down a full MPH from last year and he is averaging just 87.6 MPH. His two-seam fastball is down a full 2.4 MPH from last season and is only averaging 88.3 MPH. And here is why his strikeout rate does not seem sustainable: His swinging strike rate this season is only 5.0 percent.…

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Rafael Soriano is not disappointing

Everyone has an opinion about the save statistic. And while I fully understand the arguments, one thing I also understand: The save statistic is not important unless you can’t buy one. Just ask the Red Sox who have had trouble in that department and any other team that has trouble finishing games. If you do not like the save stat, how about the WPA statistic? Soriano is sitting with an impressive WPA of 1.07.  His ERA (also a troublesome stat for relief pitchers) sits at 1.80. Fangraphs has his FIP at 2.48, which is also impressive.

His save last night was particularly impressive. Ivan Nova was attempting to get his first complete game after pitching one of the best games of his career. He did not make it. Instead he gave up back to back triples and could not record an out. Enter Rafael Soriano and that runner never moved off of third base. Yeah, that last drive to the warning track by Hideki Matsui was a little scary.…

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How smart are those Rays?

There is nothing bad you can say about the Rays’ pitching. They lead the American League in earned runs allowed. They do an amazing job of finding pitching talent and developing it for the majors. What they have done with Fernando Rodney is nothing short of genius. But they are not nearly as good at finding offensive players. To be fair, their best right-handed hitters like Evan Longoria and Jeff Keppinger are on the disabled list. The outcome last night might have been a little different for Andy Pettitte with them in there. But even so, don’t you have to question a roster that requires three designated hitter types who all bat from the left side to be in the lineup against a left-handed pitcher?

And what of some of these roster decisions? Carlos Pena is back to his usual self. He had a brief flash in early April and yes, the Yankees were victimized by that. But what has he done since?…

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