The Tampa Bay Rays had to come back twice, but James Shields -- despite some continued ball in play struggles -- finished 7.0 IP with 5 K, 1 HR and 0 BB (good for a 3.48 FIP). Ivan Nova for the New York Yankees, meanwhile, got seemingly worse with each inning. He finished the night after 6.0 IP and had 5 K, 2 BB, 1 HBP and 1 HR on his account -- good for 3 ER and 6 R.
Today's game begins and ends with Sean Rodriguez -- in a good way. Roddy, who became a topic of lament in today's feature about Elliot Johnson, swapped roles with Alex Rodriguez (0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts) and clobbered the Yankees pitching. He finished the night 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, a single and a stolen base.
R.J. Anderson noticed this dandy: It appears Sean Rodriguez has opened his stance a little. Jason Collette took the time to confirm the change:
Players typically move to an open stance when they are having trouble seeing pitches from the same hand or trouble incorporating the the hips into their swing. And Rodriguez certainly struggles against righties, hitting only a 66 wRC+ against them on his career, and he is basically a poster child for not using his hips enough.
In the post game interview, with a twinkle in his eye, Rodriguez mentioned he had been working on some clandestine changes with hitting coach Derek Shelton. I'm thinking this is the change, so hopefully we have not spoiled the secret...
Is Roddy fixed? Oh brother -- it's like sixteen months too early to even consider that.
Other notes from the game:
- The Yankees appeared pleased to tempt fate. In the top of the first, Robinson Cano singled to right and Curtis Granderson got a crawling jump from second, and despite Ben Zobrist coming up with the ball long before Granderson touched third, the Yankees sent him. Zobrist perhaps suffocating on the New York hubris, took a double take and had to send the ball to second. When the Yankees tried their wiles a second time in the top of sixth, the ball beat the runner by a metric hour and the Jose Molina tagged Cano for out number two:
- The Rays were just cruel to Russell Martin. They gathered a combined 5 steals, including 1 technical steal of home from Desmond Jennings when Martin chucked the ball into center field with runners on the corners. Other thieves include B.J. Upton (2 for 4 with a pair of singles also), Elliot Johnson and the aforementioned Roddy steal.
- The Yankees had a whopping three errors on the night, including two from Russel Martin. They also had a few missed plays that we would shed tears over (such as Elliot's "single") had the Rays defense committed them. All told -- and despite how convenient the defense narrative has been during this deflating season -- our defense is starting to make all the easy plays and out-defend most teams we go up against.
- Another stellar night from the bullpen: Burke Badenhop, Joel Peralta (no pine tar needed) and Fernando Rodney added a perfect two innings.
- Rodney, now at 24 saves, has a 0.96 ERA, by the way.
- Final note: Jennings also went 1 for 3 with a walk (and his 2 steals). Gosh-golly, if'n he could start hitting, well I'd be plumb aroused.