Series Recap: Yankees @ Blue Jays, Aug. 4 - 5.

The Yanks were in town for a quick two game set against the Jays this week. The Jays came into the series undefeated in August (hey, I know it's only 2-for-2, but at this point in the season, any glimmer of success feels damn good). Well, the Bronx Bombers quickly stamped the shit out of any feel-good feelings; late inning shit pitching was the story in both losses.

Game 1:
Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3

I'm really getting sick and tired of this horseshit: Why was Kevin Millar hitting 4th? Why is he even on the team. His slash line going into the game was an absolutely pathetic .227/.302/.386 with 5, yes 5, home runs. And how about that rainbow toss to Halladay on a routine grounder hit his way. That costly error lead to the second Yankee run in the first inning. Can we please rid the Jays of Kevin Millar already? Here is an Open letter to Cito gaston by some (drunk) fans—I couldn't agree more.

Despite the little league infielding of the first inning, Halladay pitched a pretty good game until the 8th inning. Let's take a look at Halladay's pitching.

Halladay Pitch Location
The above plot shows where Halladay's pitches crossed the plate from the catcher's point of view. The standard strike-zone is shown in red. Units are in inches. Pitch types are Change Up (CH), Curve (CU), Cutter (FC), and 4-seam fastball (FF)

First thing I noticed right away was that there were a lot of 4-seamers in the middle and upper half of the plate. Halladay is known for good sink on his fastball. Looks like he had issues keeping it down in the zone. He did, however, have a 52% GB rate; even the fastballs in the upper part of the zone were deceiving batters. Halladay also showed great control of his change up, the majority are down and in on righties. Let's take a look at his pitch movement.

Halladay Pitch Movement
(The above plot shows how each pitch moved compared to if the same ball was thrown without any spin.)

Immediately, this plot struck me as being a little odd: Look at the wide distribution in horizontal movement of his 4-seam fastball. It looks like the pitch f/x system had a hard time defining Roy's fastballs. I find it hard to believe that his 4-seamer could vary in horizontal break between about 12 to 3 inches. I'd infer that some pitches that had more inside-out (in on righties) are probably 2-seam fastballs, while some pitches that had more outside-in (away from righties) are cutters. Maybe this is part of Roy's pitching genius: If the computer has trouble deciphering a 4-seam fastball from a cutter, maybe batters face that same problem? Looks like a 4-seamer until the last second and breaks to the right. Rivera has made a great living with a cutter like that.

I just don't understand why Halladay came out to pitch in the 8th. Although his pitch count wasn't overwhelmingly high at the point, it was obvious that Halladay was starting to run on fumes. Why was he still in the game? Lack of confidence in the pen? Probably had something to do with it. But, let's be honest: Roy Halladay was kept in the game just because he's Roy Halladay. Cito Gaston, grow a pair of balls. Halladay gave up back-to-back jacks against Damon and Teixeira putting New York up 4-1. The Jays made a an attempt at a comeback in the bottom half on hits by Scoots and Hill—always doing the lion's share of the clutch offense along with Lind—who were then doubled in by Wells (with a clutch hit against Rivera! Vdub, you shouldn't have, and at home to boot!).

Game note: Kevin "K-lean up" Millar was 0 for 3, 2 SO and a walk. That's some quality 4 spot hitting.

Game 2:
Yankees 8, Blue Jays 4

Cito's open audition for the cleanup stop brought candidate number 2, Lyle Overbay, to the stage—Kevin Millar, you will NOT be going to Hollywood. The Jays were in this one right until the 7th inning when things got Roenicke ugly. Adam Lind came up with a huge solo blast in the 5th to tie the game up at 2 and it looked like the Jays were picking up momentum. Then came the 7th. Cito decided to let Rzed start the inning, which turned into a disaster: First batter Nick Swisher; home run. Second batter Cano; double. That was it for Rzed. Up until that point, he had pitched a pretty damn good game. In total, he allowed 5 hits on struck out 7 and walked one—walked one. Great news. His ball% is started to come down a little too, he threw 40% of his pitches for balls. This still isn't a great number, but he's showing big league improvement. Control has been an issue in all of this other starts; he's starting to get a handle on the ball:

Rzepczynski Pitch Location

What a thing of beauty; there are practically no pitches in the upper half of the plate. Great control of the slider; he kept to the lower left half of the zone. Great control of the 2-seamer; he kept it on the right side of the plate. A great distribution of 4-seamers; he kept them down in the zone.

Rzepczynski Pitch Movement

You can see that he love to throw his slider and he's got good movement.

Rzed was replaced by newcomer Josh Roenicke who had a less than ideal home debut in Toronto. Roenicke was hit around the park—frankly, Rolen could have had a better showing on the mound—and gave up 3 hits and 2 runs on 8 batters. One bright spot—I'm digging here, but I want some optimism for not-Rolen—was that he recorded two Ks in his one inning of work. Carlson came in in the 8th and was hit around a bit, then a hairless and mustacheless Brian Tallet came in in the 9th and gave up a leadoff homer to Mr. Hollywood, Johnny Damon.

The Jays are now 2-2 in August.

Thumbs up goes to...

Marco Scutaro. Scoots was 4 for 10 with a HR(!), which gave him a wOBA of .465 for the series.

Not much great came out of this series...

I'll give an honourable mention to Lyle Overbay. He only played in the second game, but went 2 for 3 and drew a walk in the 4 hole.

Thumbs down goes to...

Josh Roenicke. When you come over in a deal that sees fan favourite Scott Rolen go the other way, you certainly don't want to start off like Josh did at home.

Kevin Millar. See above. Fuck Kevin Millar.

Cito Gaston. Honestly Cito, what the fuck. The lineup is a mess and you're pitching decisions have been questionable over the past few weeks. Don't you let me know now, Cito. Don't you fucking let me down now.

The next series starts on Friday in Toronto against the Orioles. The pitching match-ups are, Cecil (5-1, 4.36) vs. Berken (1-9, 6.93), Romero (10-4, 3.53) vs. Tillman (0-0, 6-75), and Halladay (11-5, 2.75) vs. Matusz (1-0, 1.80)

That Sunday matching will be the one to watch: old versus new. In Matusz's first start last week, he showed some wicked stuff.

Go Jays Go.