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Friday, May 20, 2011
The Week In Yankeemetrics


Before we review the past week, let’s look ahead to a few statistical nuggets and notes for the “Subway Series” this weekend.

Friday’s game will mark the 79th regular season game between the crosstown rivals and the 15th season of the matchup. While the Yankees lead the overall series 45-33, their dominance came mostly during the first seven seasons, winning 24 of 36 games from 1997-2003. Over the last seven seasons, since 2004, the teams are actually tied with 21 wins apiece.

A.J. Burnett will be on the mound Saturday and he brings an impressive resume against the Mets as a Yankee: Burnett made two Interleague starts against them in 2009, pitching seven scoreless innings in each. The only other Yankee to have a back-to-back starts like that against the Mets is Andy Pettitte, and no Yankee has ever had three consecutive starts of at least seven scoreless innings vs. the Mets.

On the other side of the plate, Alex Rodriguez brings an unfortunate streak into the series, having gone hitless (0-for-15) in his last four games against the Mets. Only two Yankee non-pitchers have gone longer without a hit against the Amazin's: Brett Gardner (2009-10) and Ruben Sierra (2004-05) both had hitless streaks of six games.

Now on to the week in review ...

Friday, May 13
The Yankees lost the season’s first matchup with the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, 5-4. This was their eighth loss in the last 10 games decided by one run between the two clubs. It marks their worst 10-game stretch of one-run games against the Red Sox since a similar 2-8 record over 10 one-run games in 1969 and 1970.

Saturday, May 14
This day might be the nadir of the season, as “Posada-gate” dominated the pregame headlines and the Yankees lost 6-0. Posada entered the game with a .165 batting average and was on pace to have arguably the worst offensive season by any Yankee. The lowest batting average by a Yankee who had at least 300 plate appearances in a season was .168, by catcher Red Kleinow in 1908.

The 6-0 loss was the second time in their last three matchups (all this year) that the Yankees had been shut out by the Red Sox. Only three other seasons in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) have the Yankees suffered two shutouts in a three-game span against Boston: 1953, 1974 and 1975.

Sunday, May 15
If Saturday was the low point of the season, this day should be deemed “The Six Feet Under Day”. The Red Sox completed a sweep of the Yankees with a 7-5 victory. This marked just eighth sweep of at least three games by the Red Sox in the Bronx since the original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923. The other sweeps came in 1939, 1953, 1968, 1982, 1986, 1999 and 2004.

Monday, May 16
The Yankees' losing streak continued with a 6-5 loss to the Rays. A.J. Burnett was awful and his final line of 5 2/3 innings, three home runs, two wild pitches and six runs allowed gives us our obscure Yankeemetric of the Week. According to Baseball-Reference.com, only one other Yankee pitcher has allowed at least three homers and thrown two wild pitches in fewer than six innings: Roy Sherid in 1930 against the St. Louis Browns.

Tuesday, May 17
The Yankees ended their longest losing streak since 2007 with a 6-2 win over the Rays, thanks to a multi-homer game from Alex Rodriguez. It was his 26th multi-homer game as a Yankee, placing him fifth on the all-time list behind Babe Ruth (68), Mickey Mantle (46), Lou Gehrig (43) and Joe DiMaggio (35). It was also his 14th that came on the road, tying Dave Winfield for the fifth-most road multi-homer games in franchise history.

Wednesday, May 18
The Yankees' longest game of the season ended just after midnight as they beat the Orioles 4-1 in 15 innings. Most Yankee fans presumed the game would be over more than two hours before, when Mariano Rivera took the mound in the ninth inning with a 1-0 lead. But he blew the save, his third this season. The only other year he’s had three blown saves this early in the season (within the team’s first 41 games) was 1997, his first season as a closer.

How unusual was Joe Girardi's decision to bring Mariano into the game after Colon had pitched eight brilliant innings? My Stats & Info colleague Micah Adams discovered that it was just the second time Rivera had entered a game with the Yankees up 1-0 in the ninth inning after the starter had thrown eight scoreless innings. The only other time came on July 5, 1998, when David Cone threw eight scoreless frames against the Orioles before Rivera came on for the save.

Hector Noesi, making his major-league debut, entered in the 12th inning and saved the day for the Yankees, throwing four scoreless innings for the win. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he is the first Yankee ever to debut with a win, while pitching at least four scoreless innings in relief.

Thursday, May 19
The Yankees made it three straight wins with a 13-2 rout of the Orioles, as CC Sabathia pitched a gem, with eight scoreless innings and nine strikeouts. Since the Orioles moved to Baltimore in 1954, Sabathia is the fourth Yankees pitcher to throw at least eight scoreless innings and strike out nine batters in a road game against the team. Whitey Ford (1961), Al Downing (twice in 1967) and Mike Mussina (2003) are the others to achieve this feat.

Katie Sharp is a researcher with ESPN Stats & Information