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Yankeemetrics Week in Review

4/22/2011

Our weekly look at the ups, downs, and everything-in-between from the past week

The Yankees welcomed the defending American League champion Texas Rangers to the Bronx last weekend for a rematch of the 2010 ALCS. The series opener on Friday night was a forgettable game for the boys in pinstripes, as they did something that no other Yankee team had ever done -- hit into six double plays in a single game.

Ivan Nova turned in a disappointing performance on the mound too, allowing five runs in 4⅓ innings, marking the fourth time in the team's first 12 games that a starter gave up at least five runs and failed to finish five innings. The lone glimmer of hope in that pathetic note is that the only other Yankee team with more starts like that this early in the season was the 2009 squad -- and they ended up celebrating a world championship in November.

On a positive note, rookie Lance Pendleton etched his name in the Yankee record books Friday with three perfect innings of relief. Thanks to the sharp mind of my colleague Mark Simon and the magic of Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index tool, we learned that Pendleton is the only Yankee in the last 90 years to make his major-league debut with at least three innings pitched and no hits or walks allowed.

In Saturday’s 5-2 win, Freddy Garcia made his own Yankees debut in dominant fashion, pitching six scoreless innings of two-hit, one-walk ball. The only other Yankees starter in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to win his first game in pinstripes while going at least six innings and allowing no more than three baserunners was Jimmy Key in 1993.

The Yankees took the series against Texas with a dramatic 6-5 victory in Sunday’s rubber game, thanks to a tie-breaking eighth inning single by Eric Chavez. The last Yankee third baseman not-named Alex Rodriguez with a go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later was Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. (Do I have to even write the date and description of that play?)

Mariano Rivera got the final three outs of the Sunday game for his seventh save of the season. This was the earliest into a season that the G.O.A.T. had recorded seven saves, and the first time ever that a Yankee reliever had seven saves in the team’s first 14 games.

Following a day off, the Yankees began their two-game series in Toronto Tuesday with a shocking extra-inning 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays. The Yankees took the field with a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth for what most thought would be a routine final three outs of the game.

Mariano Rivera, This Season

But Mariano showed his human side on this night, throwing a wild pitch and allowing four hits in the inning. Two runs eventually scored and Rivera was tagged with his 68th career blown save. How rare was this pitching line for Rivera? It was just the third time in his career that he allowed at least four hits and had a wild pitch in a blown save. The other two instances both came in 1997, his first season as the full-time closer.

The Yankees rebounded on Wednesday with a 6-2 win as Bartolo Colon nearly matched Freddy Garcia’s performance from Saturday night. He made his pinstriped debut as a starter giving up just two runs and striking out seven batters over 6⅓ innings. Garcia and Colon became just the seventh pair of teammates in the last 90 seasons to begin their Yankee career as a starter in April with a win, while each pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than two runs. The last pair do this was Carl Pavano and Randy Johnson in 2005.

Katie Sharp is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information