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Mariners 6, Yankees 2: Pettitte Returns, Offense Doesn't

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"Guys, I'm fairly certain that my son's Little League team could beat Millwood, why can't you?!"
"Guys, I'm fairly certain that my son's Little League team could beat Millwood, why can't you?!"

I suppose at least Andy Pettitte showed up today. In his long-awaited return to the Bronx, the veteran lefthander pitched well in his first start of the season. He surrendered four runs, but they both came via home runs that weren't exactly bombs. After walking Jesus Montero in the fourth inning, Justin Smoak hit a ball that landed in the first row of seats in left-center field. It probably would have gone out in a decent number of parks and if not, it would have been a hard-hit double, but it's still worth noting that it wasn't as bad as the boxscore might have you believe. The second two-run homer Pettitte surrendered was a Yankee Stadium Special--a shot by Casper Wells down the right field line that dinged off the foul pole. It wasn't the absolute bottom of the foul pole, but it certainly wasn't a towering drive, either. Pettitte made some good pitches when he had to, and he induced double plays to end the first and sixth innings. The double play to end the sixth was especially important, as the bases were loaded in a three-run game, and Mark Teixeira made a good play to escape the jam. Pettitte's day ended after inducing a groundout from Michael Saunders in the seventh, and he left to a nice hand. The final line of four runs on seven hits and three walks in 6.1 innings didn't look great, but he certainly showed fans that he has the potential to help this rotation. Here's Brooks Baseball with a better representation of how Pettitte pitched this afternoon:

Pitch Statistics
Pitch Type Avg Speed Max Speed Avg H-Break Avg V-Break Count Strikes / % Whiffs / % SNIPs / % Linear Weights
FF (FourSeam Fastball) 88.43 90 2.44 12.81 10 8 / 80.00% 1 / 10.00% 4 / 66.67% 0.4660
CH (Changeup) 79.84 80.7 7.82 6.35 5 2 / 40.00% 2 / 40.00% 2 / 40.00% -0.1954
SL (Slider) 81.33 83.3 -3.04 4.60 19 10 / 52.63% 1 / 5.26% 8 / 47.06% 1.2062
CU (Curveball) 74.66 75.1 -7.10 0.40 5 4 / 80.00% 0 / 0.00% 3 / 75.00% -0.3065
FC (Cutter) 87.20 89.9 -0.37 11.46 32 20 / 62.50% 0 / 0.00% 14 / 53.85% 0.7428
FT (TwoSeam Fastball) 88.10 89.7 7.09 10.53 23 16 / 69.57% 4 / 17.39% 8 / 53.33% -1.0668
Pitch classifications provided by the Gameday Algorithm.
SNIPs are "Strikes Not In Play" and do not include any balls in play.

All told, he did a fine job throwing pitches for strikes and he certainly had some movement on his pitches. He only struck out two, but he kept the Yankees in the game and gave the offense a chance to win it. Unfortunately, they did not show up against retread Kevin Millwood, who hadn't pitched a game like today (seven innings, three hits, four walks, one run, and six strikeouts) since his last start of 2011, against the punchless Astros. Follow the jump if you dare look further into the horror that was the Mother's Day edition of the Yankees' offense.

Despite amounting only three hits against Millwood, the Yankees had a plethora of chances to break through for some serious damage. They had runners on first and second with one man out in the third inning, and Derek Jeter, perhaps thinking it was 2010 considering Pettitte was on the mound, hit into a double play to end the inning. An even better opportunity arose in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out, but Eric Chavez struck out on three pitches and after a five-pitch walk to Russell Martin that forced in a run, Jeter again grounded into a double play to end the inning. The Mariners had only put two runs on the board at that point, and even a single would have tied it or given the Yankees the lead. Alas, it was another wasted chance. Alex Rodriguez hit into yet another double play in the sixth inning (albeit only with the leadoff runner at first), and Millwood left the game after a 1-2-3 seventh inning with a three-run lead. Millwood actually had five such innings on the day, which is absolutely embarrassing considering his ERA was hovering near six going into the game.

The Yankees' offensive frustrations did not end with Millwood's departure however. They put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth against reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, and Mariners LOOGY Lucas Luetge struck out Curtis Granderson for the second out of the inning. Two more relievers came into the game and walked A-Rod and Robinson Cano to force another run in, but with the bases still loaded and the tying run on second base, Mark Teixeira struck out on a slider in the dirt to end the threat. Tex really needs to turn his season around soon--in no world is a .222 batting average and .275 on-base percentage acceptable for a guy making $22.5 million. In the ninth inning, Nick Swisher made an egregious baseball error when he was thrown out at third base attempting to stretch a double into a triple. The score was now 6-2 and there was absolutely no need for Swisher to take any chances. The fact that replays later showed he was safe added salt to the wound, but regardless, Swisher should not have been going for third. The less we talk about why the Mariners added two runs in the ninth is probably for the betterment of all Yankees fans. Let's just say that Clay Rapada should definitely not be pitching against a righthanded batter in a two-run game with the bases loaded.

The Yankees still went 4-2 on the homestand and they took two of three in both series against the Rays and Mariners, but boy, those two losses were irritating. Let the WPA chart speak for itself.

Source: FanGraphs


Comment of the Game: CAyankeesfan, with some uplifting words about the Yankees' offensive strategies today.