Saturday, June 22, 2013

Pitching and Offense Align

Things finally fell into place for the Yankees as they were in the midst of a slide in recent days following a sweep at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. The A's ballpark has not been good to the Yankees going back to last year as they have been swept in their last two visits to the coliseum. The sweep didn't seem to affect the Yankees today as they went on to an easy 6-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees play the Rays well at home but stumble as soon as they visit Tropicana Field. It's strange how that works but for the Yankees a winning formula has always had to do with the short porch in right field. In recent weeks the short porch has not been getting as much action from the Yankee batters but tonight they didn't need the porch en route to their win over the Rays. I have always said that the Yankees needed a spark in their lineup. I think that Zoilo Almonte can be that spark plug for the Bombers. Almonte went 3-4 today, including hitting his first Major League home run. Almonte is a switch-hitting outfielder with power. The Yankees have been lacking a right handed bat all season that could pose as a viable threat to opposing pitchers. Almonte coming up doesn't solve all of their offensive woes but he can make a name for himself if he continues to hit like he did in his first start in the Major Leagues. He notched three of the eleven Yankee hits tonight as he and Lyle Overbay were the only two Yankees with multi-hit days. Jayson Nix was the only player who didn't get a hit tonight but had a sac bunt that moved runners over into scoring position for David Adams.

On the pitching side, David Phelps was not economical with his pitch count as he was lifted with two outs in the sixth inning having already thrown 102 pitches. His control has not been great of late, as he continues to walk batters. The one thing about Phelps that everyone was raving about is his ability to throw strikes. He has gotten away from that formula this year, resulting in more walks. He needs to be able to pitch to any batter and not just that hitters he feels comfortable against. Of all people, Phelps walked Yunel Escobar. Escobar swings at pitches early in the count, so how Phelps manage to hand him a walk is beyond me. Following Phelps' departure from the game the Yankees bullpen did the job as they provided 3.1 innings of scoreless relief. The only base runner allowed by the bullpen was given up by Robertson, who gave up a base hit to Wil Myers.

The Yankees will try to get a leg up in the series tomorrow afternoon against the Rays as they will send CC Sabathia to the mound to face rookie Alex Colome. Colome is making his second career Major League start as he pitched himself to a victory in his first start against the lousy Miami Marlins. Sabathia has had a lot of trouble pitching against Tampa Bay in his career as a Yankee so tomorrow afternoon should serve as a good test to see where Sabathia is mentally against a team that has dominated him.

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