Yankees vs. Dickey • 06.24.12
It will be interesting to see how the homer-happy Yankees hit against the knuckleball belonging to the hottest pitcher in baseball. The Mets’ R.A. Dickey comes into the Subway Series finale tonight with his streak of two straight one-hitters. He’s 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
The 37-year-old righty owns a 0.18 ERA over his last six starts, fanning 63 and walking just five across 48 2/3 innings. He hasn’t allowed an earned run the last 42 2/3, just 6 1/3 shy of Dwight Gooden’s franchise record. Dickey has fanned 25 over his last two starts. He’s 6-0 with a 1.20 ERA in seven starts at Citi Field.
So what’s the strategy for the Yankees in their bid to hit that knuckler? Aim for the high ones.
“It has to be up,” Mark Teixeira said. “Whether it dances left or right, it’s going to be down most of the time at the end. So you have to make it up in the zone.
“Maybe take a little bit more of an uppercut swing. Because if you try to take too level of a swing against something that’s going straight down at the end, it’s going to be tough to hit.”
The switch-hitting Teixeira does something different against Dickey than what he did against now-retired Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
“I hit righty almost always against Wakefield,” Teixeira said. “But he was a different pitcher. R.A. throws that knuckleball a lot harder. He can mix in his fastball. And I don’t have Fenway. That’s one of the other reasons I hit right-handed against Wakefield because you hit an average fly ball in Fenway, it’s a double or a home run. But against R.A., I’ve always batted left-handed.”
Teixeira can remember when Dickey wasn’t a knuckleballer. Once upon a time, they were teammates in Texas.
“I’m so happy for R.A.,” Teixeira said. “We were rookies together (in 2003). He was a conventional pitcher, fastball, curveball, slider, change. … I think he was in the middle of, ‘OK, do I need to get better or am I not going to have a spot?’ So … they had him work with Charlie Hough the whole offseason. R.A. was very dedicated to the knuckleball. That’s a big leap of faith. I mean, a guy whose entire life has been as a conventional pitcher, to start throwing a knuckleball, he might have been close to 30 at the time, that’s a tough thing to do. He took his lumps early on. Unfortunately he got designated by the Rangers, and he’s made an unbelievable comeback.”
Yankees pregame: Challenges ahead • 06.23.12
The Yankees will see Chris Young tonight in this second game of the second Subway Series, a guy doesn’t throw particularly hard but stands particularly tall.
“He’s so big that seeing the ball off a guy like that is a bit of a challenge,” Mark Teixeira said about the former Princeton basketball player, ready for his fourth start since coming back from shoulder surgery. “You don’t see 6-10 pitchers that often.”
It will be two challenges in two nights against the Mets because knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will start against them tomorrow night, riding a streak of two one-hitters.
“You don’t see a lot of knuckleballs,” said Teixeira, a former teammate of Dickey as well as Young. “The only guys I’ve really faced are (Tim) Wakefield and Steve Sparks maybe one time early in my career. When it’s on, it’s almost an unhittable pitch. I think R.A. has shown the past couple of years how good he can be. His last two starts, two straight one-hitters is unimaginable in today’s game.”
The Mets will have to try to deal with Ivan Nova tonight, going for an AL-high 10 wins.
“I think he’s pitched inside more effectively,” Joe Girardi said. “I think his fastball has been more consistent. You’re going to run into times when you don’t have your best stuff. But this is the guy we saw last year and who pitched so well for us. And I think he’s even pitching better at times than he did last year.”
Despite all their runners-in-scoring-position trouble, Terry Collins had high praise for the Yankees’ lineup.
“Personnel-wise and name-wise, this is the best lineup I’ve seen from a Yankees team,” Collins said, “… You can’t make mistakes. You have to be able to keep your concentration. … You’re looking at an infield, possibly everyone’s going to the Hall of Fame. Oh man. You show me another team that can do that.”
Reliever Tim Byrdak brought a live chicken into the Mets’ clubhouse yesterday after Frank Francisco called the Yankees “chickens,” which brings us to a story.
“When I was with the Yankees, Jimmy Key took Wade Boggs wild turkey hunting, and they didn’t get any,” Girardi said. “Boggsie was complaining the next day. So the following day, Jimmy Key brought in a frozen turkey and put it in his locker and screamed at him, ‘Here’s your turkey.’
“As far as practical jokes, Ryne Sandberg was a practical joker. He used to light your shoes on fire all the time. He would put things against your door in your hotel room and knock on your door and you’d have whatever, garbage cans spill all over you. But I thought that was pretty clever what Jimmy Key did.”
Game 82: Yankees at Mets • 07.03.11
Brett Gardner LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Russell Martin C
Ramiro Pena SS
Freddy Garcia RHP
RHP Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.28)
Garcia vs. Mets
Angel Pagan CF
Justin Turner 2B
Carlos Beltran RF
Daniel Murphy 3B
Jason Bay LF
Lucas Duda 1B
Josh Thole C
Ruben Tejada SS
R.A. Dickey RHP
RHP R.A. Dickey (4-7, 3.77)
Dickey vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:10 p.m., YES Network and TBS
WEATHER: Rainy. We could be here for a while today.
UMPIRES: HP Bob Davidson, 1B Ted Barrett, 2B Jerry Layne, 3B Brian Knight
JETER DID IT TOO: According to Elias, Eduardo Nunez is the fourth Yankees rookie shortstop to have at least three hits in back-to-back games in the expansion era. Frank Bauer did it in 1970, Andy Stankiewicz did it in 1992 and — yes — Derek Jeter did it in 1996… The last Yankees shortstop other than Jeter to have four hits in a game was Luis Sojo in 1998.
THE GM TURNS 44: Today is Brian Cashman’s 44th birthday.
ON THIS DATE: On July 3, 1922, Bob Meusel hit for the cycle for the second time in his career. He remains the only Yankee to hit for the cycle three times in pinstripes.
UPDATE, 2:36 p.m.: Never saw this before, Dickey was ready to throw his first pitch, but Freddy Garcia, Russell Martin and Larry Rothschild had just walked out of the bullpen and were still making their way across the outfield. Everything was suddenly put on hold while the Yankees starter walked to the dugout.
UPDATE, 2:51 p.m.: Two-out double, two-out single, and the Mets are on the board with a 1-0 lead in the first.
UPDATE, 3:13 p.m.: Fear the knuckleball! Yankees are hitless through three innings. Mets still leading 1-0.
UPDATE, 3:16 p.m.: Good pitch to Dickey, but he managed to get just enough bat on it to slap a single up the middle.
UPDATE, 3:35 p.m.: Yankees finally got a base runner in the fourth. Granderson walked and stole second, but he was left stranded and the Yankees were left with this 1-0 hole.
UPDATE, 3:42 p.m.: Garcia gets a double play and is through the fourth inning, still 1-0 Mets.
UPDATE, 3:49 p.m.: Double by Cano. RBI single by Swisher. The Yankees are on the board in the same way the Mets got on the board. It’s 1-1 in the top of the fifth. Still no outs and Swisher at first.
UPDATE, 4:06 p.m.: After taking the lead, the Yankees stranded the bases loaded in the top of the fifth. Garcia responded with a lightning quick bottom of the fifth, and now the Yankees are into the Mets bullpen in the sixth. Dickey is out after five innings and 85 pitches.
UPDATE, 4:31 p.m.: Turns out Dickey came out with an injury after slipping in the fourth inning.
By the way, that Martin play is pretty much the Reyes play all over again. Hard to tell even on replay whether the glove got him.
UPDATE, 4:39 p.m.: Garcia is through seven innings, allowing one run on six hits and no walks. Yankees need some runs.
UPDATE, 4:44 p.m.: Gardner was hitless in his past 13 at-bats before that triple into the right-field corner. I’ve said it before, I really love watching elite speed in the game of baseball. Whether it’s a play in the outfield or a guy running the bases, speedy players are just fun to watch in this game.
UPDATE, 5:17 p.m.: Sac fly gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead, Robertson stranded two runners in a scoreless eighth and now it’s up to Rivera to get the save and finish the sweep.
UPDATE, 5:31 p.m.: Mariano Rivera had converted 26 straight save opportunities against the National League before allowing a two-out, game-tying rally this afternoon. Ramiro Pena nearly cost the Yankees with an error, but Brett Gardner fielded the ball behind him and threw a strike to home plate to get the potential winning run out. Tied at 2 heading into the 10th.
UPDATE, 5:39 p.m.: The Mets are intentionally walking pinch hitter Jorge Posada to face all-star Russell Martin. Cano’s triple has given them a chance to jump back into the lead.
UPDATE, 6:01 p.m.: Impressive job by Boone Logan, but Pena’s second error in the past two innings has loaded the bases with two outs in the 10th. Here’s Noesi to try to get the final out of the inning and keep this thing going.