Stats & Info: Nick Swisher

Top things to know: Tigers vs Athletics

October, 4, 2013

Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsMax Scherzer has the second lowest road ERA among AL starting pitchers this season.
The Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics begin their ALDS tonight (9:37 ET/ESPN Radio) in Oakland. Here are some storylines to follow.

1. This is the fourth all-time meeting in the postseason (1972 ALCS, 2006 ALCS and 2012 ALDS). The Tigers have won nine of the 14 all-time postseason meetings, including seven of the last nine.

Oakland won the regular season series this year, taking four of the seven games, including three of the last four, in which they outscored the Tigers 34-20.

2. These two teams have not had much success in the postseason lately. Detroit has lost four straight postseason games. They have not lost at least five straight since 1907-08, when they lost six in a row. In addition, the Tigers have lost 11 of their last 16 road postseason games.

Oakland comes into this postseason having lost seven of its last nine playoff games.

The A’s have made the playoffs seven times since 2000 (including this year) and only once have they advanced to the ALCS (2006, lost to Detroit).

3. Max Scherzer is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA in seven postseason appearances (six starts). In his only postseason appearance against the Athletics (Game 4 of the 2012 ALDS), Scherzer went 5⅓ innings, allowing one run while striking out eight in a no-decision.

This season, Scherzer went 9-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 16 road starts. He only allowed more than three earned runs once in his 16 road starts. James Shields is the only AL starter who had a lower ERA away from home (2.07).

4. Bartolo Colon will take the ball for Oakland tonight. He is starting the first game of a postseason series for a third different team (he started twice for Cleveland and once for the Angels).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, five other pitchers made Game 1 starts for three different teams – Roger Clemens (Red Sox, Yankees, Astros), Tommy John (Angels, Dodgers, Yankees), Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks, Astros, Mariners), Jack Morris (Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays) and Curt Schilling (Phillies, Red Sox, Diamondbacks).

The only other 40-year-old to start a postseason game for the Athletics was Jack Quinn (46 years old) in the 1929 World Series.

5. What sort of impact will Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder make? The 2012 Triple Crown winner hit over .350 with 43 home runs over the first five months of the season, but all but disappeared in September.

Fielder is hitting .183 (19-for-104) in 28 career postseason games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, his average is the third lowest among active players with at least 50 postseason at-bats.

Only Alex Avila (.129) and Nick Swisher (.165) have worse averages.

Indians offense struggles in sweep

August, 30, 2013
The Atlanta Braves completed a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, dropping Cleveland to 12-14 for the month of August. This is a quick look inside the sweep, followed by a look at the Indians playoff chances after getting swept.

Indians lost on offense
The Indians managed just three runs over the three-game series against the Braves. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Indians had not scored 3 runs over the course of a three-game series since August 20-22, 2010.

This is indicative of a larger trend for the Indians, who have scored an American League-worst 3.4 runs per game in the month of August. The struggles for the Tribe only begin there, as they also rank last in the AL in batting average and slugging percentage in August.

Nick Swisher epitomized the Indians lineup this series, going 2-12 including 0-4 with three strikeouts on Thursday. Swisher struck out looking on a fastball over the plate in his third at-bat, his 32nd strikeout looking this season. He had 35 strikeouts looking all of last season.

Effect of sweep on playoff chances
The Indians missed out on a chance to gain ground on the Oakland Athletics, who lost Thursday and currently hold the second Wild Card spot in the American League. As a result of the sweep, Cleveland dropped two games in the Wild Card standings and got leapfrogged by the Orioles as well.

The Indians have not made the playoffs since 2007 and will need to finish strong in September in order to make it this season. This may not bode well for them, as they are under .500 in September since they last made the playoffs.

Quality and quantity to Upton's home runs

May, 1, 2013

Daniel Shirey/Getty ImagesJustin Upton left little doubt to each of the 12 home runs he hit in the first month of the season.

The month of April ended in style when it came to home runs. There were 50 home runs hit on Tuesday, the most in a single day since Sept. 11, 2007 when there was also 50 home runs.

No team had more than the Cleveland Indians, who hit seven against the Philadelphia Phillies, including three off Roy Halladay. The 50 home runs measured a combined 19,992 feet, or just under 3.8 miles.

Here’s a look at some of the HR highlights from the first month of the season.

Player of the Month
Justin Upton hit a league-leading 12 home runs in April, two shy of the MLB record for the most in March/April. None of Upton’s home runs were cheap -- each one traveled more than 400 feet. His longest of the month came on Opening Day against Cole Hamels. It went 460 feet, Upton’s 12th home run of at least 450 feet in the past four seasons. That’s tied with Giancarlo Stanton for the most in MLB over that span.

Upton’s average home run distance in April was 423.5 feet, that’s the highest this season among players with at least six home runs. Upton hit eight home runs in April that went at least 420 feet, four more than any other player and three more than he had all of last season. This is resurgence for Upton, who led baseball in 2011 with 18 home runs that traveled at least 420 feet.

Unlikely HR of the Month
On April 13, Nick Swisher hit a 397-foot home run at Progressive Field in Cleveland off Chris Sale. The ball cleared the 19-foot left field fence by about 10 feet.

ESPN Stats & InformationNick Swisher's home run on April 13 was helped significantly by a strong tailwind.

The home run appeared to be a clear no doubter. However, at the time the wind was blowing 23 MPH out to left, which pushed the ball an extra 69 feet. If there was no wind, the ball would have landed about 14 feet shy of the warning track and would not have been a home run in any major-league park. It was the most wind-aided home run since David Wright’s home run was pushed 72 feet by the wind in Citi Field on April 24, 2011.

Since the start of the 2006 season, only eight other home runs have been aided more by the wind than Swisher’s.

Longest of the Month
There was a tie between the Cubs Anthony Rizzo and the Angels Mark Trumbo. On April 18 against Alexi Ogando, Rizzo hit a career-long 475-foot home run to right-center field. It was the longest home run hit at Wrigley Field since 2008.

On April 29, Trumbo matched Rizzo, hitting a career-long 475-foot shot off Dan Straily to left-center field at the Coliseum. It was Trumbo’s third home run longer than 470 feet in the last three seasons, the most in baseball. There are only three other players (Giancarlo Stanton, Prince Fielder, Nelson Cruz) who have hit multiple 470-foot home runs during that time span, and 19 total such home runs. In addition, Trumbo’s home run was the longest hit at Oakland in the past eight seasons.

Top stats to know: New York Yankees

March, 6, 2013

Brad Penner/US PresswireNo one has meant more to the Yankees the past few years than second baseman Robinson Cano.
Power might be at a premium for the New York Yankees, especially at the start of 2013.

In the last two seasons, Curtis Granderson hit a total of 84 home runs (41 in 2011, 43 in 2012), the only player in MLB since the start of 2011 who hit at least 80 home runs. But Granderson -- who is out until the first week of May with a fractured right forearm -- is one of several Yankees power hitters who are hurt or no longer on the team.

Of the five Yankees last season who hit more than 20 home runs, two of them are gone (Russell Martin, Nick Swisher), and two others (Granderson, Mark Teixeira) are currently hurt. (Robinson Cano, who hit 33 HR last season, is healthy.) No team last season relied more on hitting home runs than the Yankees (see chart).

Teixeira, who is out two weeks with a wrist injury, has seen his production decline each season with the Yankees.

In 2008 with the Braves and Angels, Teixeria’s OPS was .962; however, it has decreased each season with the Yankees from .948 in 2009 to a career-low .807 in 2012.

Cano Continues To Get Better
What the Yankees do have is Cano, who demonstrated more plate discipline last season and lost nothing off his contact rate or power. Cano’s OBP, slugging percentage, home runs and walk rate all increased from 2011 to 2012, and his chase percent decreased. (Chase percent is the frequency of swings at pitches outside the strike zone.)

In the three seasons since the Yankees' last World Series title, Cano has taken over the mantle as New York’s most important position player. From 2010-12, Cano’s Wins Above Replacement is 21.2. Granderson is a distant second at 12.1.

As excited as Yankee fans are to see the return of closer Mariano Rivera, Brett Gardner’s return to the everyday lineup is one that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially on defense. Gardner is +59 in Defensive Runs Saved since the start of 2010. That’s the most among outfielders and eight more than Michael Bourn, despite the fact that Gardner has played 1,341 fewer innings than Bourn over that span.

On the bases, Gardner stole a career-high 49 bases in 2011. In 2012, Ichiro Suzuki led the team with just 14.

As for Jeter, he starts the season 10th on the all-time hits list with 3,304 but should move up the list quickly early in the season. He's 10 hits shy of Eddie Collins for ninth and 15 back of Paul Molitor for eighth all time.

What led to Yankees early trip home?

October, 18, 2012

AP Photo/Paul SancyaAlex Rodriguez and his teammates will have an eventful offseason.

There will be much scrutiny of the most famous franchise in sports, whose season ended in ignominious fashion with elimination in the ALCS by the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.

The Yankees never led in the series, only the second time in their history that they’ve been beaten in that fashion (the other was in the 1963 World Series) and had some of their weaknesses exposed in October.

An ugly ending
The Yankees were swept in a postseason series for the first time since the 1980 ALCS (against the Kansas City Royals), and swept in a best-of-7 for the first time since the 1976 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Yankees had played 36 straight postseason series without being swept. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that is the longest such streak in major-league history.

The Yankees .188 batting average in the 2012 postseason is the lowest in MLB postseason history by any team that played at least seven games.

They scored just 22 runs in nine games, for an average of 2.4 runs per game. That's the fourth-fewest runs per game in a single postseason by any team that played at least seven games.

How ugly was the final game?

The 8-1 loss matched the team’s worst in any postseason elimination game. They lost 9-2 to the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1981 World Series and they lost 10-3 to the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

How did this happen?
The Yankees offense disappeared in the postseason. The combination of Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano went a combined 14-for-125 with one home run.

Rodriguez was 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts and was 0-for-18 against right-handed pitching this postseason. He missed on 20 of the 44 swings he took against righties.

Cano endured a 29 at-bat hitless drought, the worst in major-league history for a player in postseason play.

The Baltimore Orioles and Detroit Tigers threw nearly two-thirds of their pitches to him on the outer-third of the strike zone, or off the outside corner. Of the 37 outs Cano made this postseason, 29 were on pitches to that area.

Granderson was hitless in 11 at-bats in the LCS, the third-worst 0-for by a Yankees player in a postseason series (surpassed by Mark Teixeira’s 0-for-14 in the 2010 ALCS and Joe Gordon’s 0-for-12 in the 1952 World Series). Opponents finished Granderson with offspeed stuff. He made 19 of his 27 outs this postseason on curves, sliders, and changeups.

Swisher was 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position, with the hit coming with the Yankees down by six runs and the four outs coming when the score of games was within two runs.

Swisher is 2-for-36 in his postseason career with runners in scoring position. His .056 batting average in those situations is the worst all-time.

The Yankees scored in only three of 39 innings (7.7 percent) in the ALCS. According to Elias, that is the lowest percentage of innings with a runs scored in a single postseason series since the 1966 Dodgers scored in 2 of 36 innings in their loss to the Orioles.

What’s next?
The historical precedent for the Yankees being swept in a postseason series is that they come back strong the next year.

In 1922, they were swept by the New York Giants (though one game ended tied) and bounced back by winning the World Series the next year.

In 1963, they were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but returned to the World Series in 1964, only to lose in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1976, they got swept by the Reds, but with the help of free-agent signee Reggie Jackson (who hit three home runs 35 years ago Thursday) beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in each of the next two World Series.

In 1980, they were swept in the LCS by the Kansas City Royals. They went a step further the next season, but blew a 2-0 lead and lost to the Dodgers in the World Series.

Offseason priorities
Look for the Yankees to make an attempt to get younger. The average age of the Yankees roster was 32 years old, oldest in the majors.

The Yankees will also face a decision on what to do about Rodriguez, whose OPS has declined in each of the last five seasons.

Rodriguez ranks 35th in position player Wins Above Replacement since the start of the 2009 season.

Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees and extra innings

September, 22, 2012
The Baltimore Orioles won -- again -- in extra innings on Saturday, beating the Boston Red Sox 9-6 in 12 innings.

It was Baltimore's 16th straight extra-inning win. That's the second-longest single-season streak in major league history behind the 1949 Cleveland Indians, who won 17 in a row.

The Orioles are a perfect 11-0 on the road in extra innings -- including 4-0 at Fenway Park. Their 16 extra-inning wins are the most for a team in a single season since 1999 Atlanta Braves won 17.

Almost 19 percent of the Orioles' wins this season (16 of 87) have come after the ninth inning.

Ironically, the Orioles actually lost the first two extra-inning games of the season before their streak started.

The loss dropped the Red Sox to 0-7 at home this season in extra-inning games. Since 1901, only five teams have finished a season 0-7 or worse at home in extra-inning games.

As impressive as that streak is for the Orioles, the New York Yankees outdid the O's on Saturday when it came to playing extra baseball.

The Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 in 14 innings; the win was only the second of its kind in franchise history.

Oakland hit three home runs (Jonny Gomes, Yoenis Cespedes, Chris Carter) in the 13th inning to go up 9-5. Gomes became the first A's player to hit a go-ahead HR in 13th inning or later on the road since Mark McGwire on July 4, 1988, at Cleveland. For Cespedes, it was his 20th home run of the season, the first Oakland rookie with 20 home runs since current Yankee Nick Swisher hit 21 in 2005.

However, in the bottom of the 13th, Raul Ibanez hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Ibanez is first Yankee to hit a game-tying home run in the 13th inning or later since Roy Smalley did it in the 14th inning against the Seattle Mariners in 1984.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was only the third time in the divisional era (since 1969) that teams combined to hit at least four home runs in a single extra inning. It was done in 2004 by the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers -- each team hit two home runs in the 10th inning. In 1969, the Seattle Pilots and Red Sox also combined for four home runs in the 11th inning.

Also according to Elias, it's the first time in franchise history that the A's lost an extra-inning game in which they led by at least four runs.

Conversely, it's only the second time the Yankees won after trailing by at least four runs in extra innings. The first instance happened almost 32 years ago to the day (Sept 17, 1980 vs. Blue Jays). What's more, the Yankees had been 0-5 when they were down by four or more runs in the 13th inning or later.

Finally according to Elias, this is the first time in the Expansion era (1961) the Yankees had a walk-off win in the 14th inning or later that ended on an error.
The story of the season has been Red Sox domination. It's the difference in the AL East race. With the Yankees traveling to Fenway Park to take on the Red Sox, it's time to break down how the season series has gone so far.

Here are some highlights about the head-to-head series:

• The Yankees will be trying to snap a seven-game losing streak in the series. That’s tied for the third-longest losing streak for the Yankees in the rivalry, behind only a nine-game streak from 2008-09 and a 17-game streak from 1911-12.

• The Yankee starters have struggled, with a 8.18 ERA in the nine games. The losers in the eight losses were mostly the pitchers upon whom they usually rely: Bartolo Colon (twice), CC Sabathia (3 times), Freddy Garcia (twice), A.J. Burnett (once).

• Sabathia is 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA vs the Red Sox this year (he’s 15-2 vs everyone else). In 2010, he was 1-0 with a 3.96 ERA, and in 2009, he was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA.

• However, the Red Sox pitchers have held them to a .208 batting average with runners in scoring position. In three of the games, they failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position (0-3 on April 10, 0-10 on May 14, 0-7 on June 9), and in another game they got just one hit (1-7 on May 13).

• The Red Sox shut down the Yankee lefties (and when their switch-hitters hit lefty). Red Sox pitchers held Yankees left-handed batters to a .207 BA.

• Yankees were shut out twice in nine games; they have been shut out just three times otherwise.

Notable Yankees mediocrity:

Nick Swisher .188, 8 K
Brett Gardner .167, double and triple
Mark Teixeira .121 (4-33), 11 K, 0 XBH

Notable Red Sox standouts:

Dustin Pedroia: .500 (15-30), 4 doubles, 8 walks
Jacoby Ellsbury .371, 3 SB, 4 doubles
David Ortiz .324, 3 HR, 4 doubles, 9 RBI

• We should note that Pedroia was the AL Player of the Month for July. He led the Majors with 46 hits, the most hits for a Red Sox player during July of any season since 1939, when 3 future Hall of Famers each collected more: Bobby Doerr (52), Ted Williams (48) and Jimmie Foxx (47) (Elias). Pedroia also led Major Leaguers in total bases (81), tied for first in runs (27) and extra-base hits (18), and posted the second-best AVG in the ML at .411 (112 AB).

Derek Jeter: Return to Form?

• Derek Jeter has picked it up after getting his 3,000th hit on July 9. Jeter has four career five-hit games and two of them have come within the last four weeks. His numbers since July 10 are more in line with his career numbers.

The Setup Men: David Robertson and Daniel Bard

• David Robertson has better numbers vs opposite-handed batters (LHB) than same-handed batters (RHB) this year. His .169 BA vs LHB is fourth-best among AL RHP (min. 75 batters faced), while his 43 K vs LHB are the most among RHP relievers.

• He has yet to allow a run on the road in 20 appearances (21 1/3 IP).

• He has yet to allow a HR in 42 1/3 IP (most IP of any AL reliever who hasn’t allowed a HR yet this season).

• Opponents are 1-12 (.083) with 10 K with the bases loaded.

• Daniel Bard has been more effective vs righties this season. His .117 opponent BA vs RHB is the lowest among AL pitchers (min. 75 batters faced).

• Prior to allowing three runs in his last outing on August 1, Bard had made 25 straight scoreless appearances (since May 27), spanning 26 1/3 IP. During the streak, opponents hit .125 vs him, and RHB were 3-40 (.075).

• It was the most consecutive scoreless outings in Red Sox history. It was the longest streak of scoreless IP in a single season by a Red Sox pitcher since Bob Stanley had a 27-inning streak in 1980.

• Yankees are 1-14 (.071) against him this season.

• His opponent BA w/RISP of .133 is fifth-best in AL (min. 50 batters faced).

• He’s pitched on zero days rest 18 times, tied for the most in the AL.

First half defensive All-Stars

July, 13, 2011

Getty Images/Gregory ShamusAsdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Gomez show off the skills that made them Defensive All-Stars.

With the All-Star break almost over, and as we await the resumption of baseball on Thursday, let’s take a break from the typical chatter of second-half storylines, and shift our focus to the players on the field and the defensive All-Stars of the first half.

Baseball Info Solutions is a company specializing in determining the best (and worst) defensive players in more than 100 different metrics, from barehanded plays to home run robberies.

Using their data, here’s our take on the players in the first half that have been good enough to be called a Defensive All-Star. (Note: ranks are for the player at his position, unless otherwise noted)

Pitcher: Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
Most Barehanded Plays For Outs (5)
Sanchez is averaging more than a strikeout per inning, but he gets on this list because of his defense while on the mound.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
Most Catcher Blocks (401)
Yadier is known for a strong arm, having thrown out over 40 percent of baserunners during his career. This season he also leads everyone in catcher blocks, defined as plays when runners are on base or if the pitch was the third strike.

First Base: Carlos Pena, Cubs
Most Difficult Throws Handled (32)
Pena can likely thank Starlin Castro for this award, as the shortstop already has 18 errors this season. Handling difficult throws applies to throws in the dirt or throws wide of the bag.

Second Base: Brandon Phillips, Reds
Most Double Plays Turned Despite An Aggressive Slide (6)
Brandon Phillips has wowed many fans with his defensive Web gems, he’s also one of the best at turning double plays.

Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
Most Barehanded Plays For Outs (10)
Ramirez has not only been one of the Cubs best offensive players, hitting .298 with 15 home runs and a team leading 51 RBI, but he’s also been a star on the diamond, converting 10 barehanded plays into outs.

Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
Most Web Gems (11) and Web Gems Points in MLB (41)
Asdrubal Cabrera has been a familiar face on Baseball Tonight, as a four-time Web Gem champ. Between two behind the back flips, a bare-hander on a short hop, and a diving stop and throw in a defensive shift, Cabrera has done it all defensively this season.

Left Field: Sam Fuld, Rays
Most Web Gems Either 1st or 2nd in MLB (9)
Despite being second in both Web Gems and Web Gem points, Fuld has more Web Gems rated as first- or second-best than any other player.

Center Field: Carlos Gomez, Brewers
Tied for Most Home Run Robberies in MLB (2)
Taking away a home run might be the most exciting play in baseball, and Gomez has done it twice, once with the bases empty and once with Carlos Beltran on first base, saving three potential runs.

Right Field: Nick Swisher, Yankees

Most Times Holding Players to a Single Among OF (6)
Swisher has recently begun to heat up at the plate, with seven homers and a .986 OPS since June 1, but his strong arm in the outfield has been an asset for the Yankees all season.

For more defensive stars, check out Baseball Tonight’s Web Gems Mid-Year Special (11:30 ET, ESPN2).
Some notes to know on the Sunday Night Baseball (ESPN, 8 ET) game between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox lead the season series, 4-1, but if recent history is any indication, neither team will have an advantage at season’s end.

In EACH season from 2008-10, the teams tied the season series at nine wins apiece.

The Red Sox are 17-10 in their last 27 games after starting the season 2-10. One of Boston’s keys has been its starting pitching. The starters have compiled a 14-6 record since the team’s 2-10 start.

Sunday’s Red Sox starter is Jon Lester, who will be going for a little history on Sunday Night Baseball. Lester held the Yankees scoreless in his last two starts against them, going at least six innings in each. Only two pitchers since 1920 have had longer such streaks – Britt Burns (four straight, 1981-1982) and Schoolboy Rowe (three straight, all shutouts, 1934-1935).

Jon Lester Matchups to Watch
Derek Jeter has 36 at-bats against Lester without an extra-base hit against him. There are only two pitchers against whom he’s had more at-bats without an extra-base hit - Darren Oliver (41) and Chuck Finley (37). Jeter does have 12 hits against Lester - all singles.

Mark Teixeira is 0-for-his-last 10 vs Lester. Nick Swisher is 0-for-his-last 7 against Lester. Jorge Posada is 1-for-his-last 10 against him.

Alex Rodriguez was 1-for-13 against Lester to start his career. He’s 5-for-13 with 3 HR against him since then.

The Yankees enter Sunday having won just three of their last 10 games but one area of the team that can’t be blamed is its power.

The Yankees have hit 58 HR through 37 games (three short of the franchise record for home runs through 37 games: 61 in 2003).

Good thing for those home runs, because the Yankees have not been good with runners in scoring position. For the season, the Yanks are hitting .236 with RISP and lately it’s been worse. Over the last four games, they are 5-39 (.128) with RISP – including 1-17 (.059) in the first two games of the Red Sox series.

Before his eighth-inning single Saturday night, Teixeira was hitless in his last 30 at-bats (with 15 strikeouts) against the Red Sox – dating back to last season.

The Yankees starter Sunday is Freddy Garcia.

Freddy Garcia Matchups to Watch
Carl Crawford was 5-for-10 to start his career against Garcia. He’s 1-for-8 against him since then.

Freddy Garcia vs Red Sox
Garcia is 8-2 career against the Red Sox. There are 23 active pitchers with at least 10 decisions against the Red Sox. Garcia’s .800 win percentage ranks best among them.

-- Mark Simon and David Bearman contributed to this report
Bartolo Colon matchups to watch
Magglio Ordonez’s last three hits against Bartolo Colon are home runs, a run that dates all the way back to 2001. But he’s 3-for-his-last 22 against Colon.

Brandon Inge began his career 7-for-16 against Colon, but since is 1-for-his-last-7.

Justin Verlander matchups to watch
Mark Teixeira is 2-for-19 vs Verlander, but hit a three-run homer against him on Opening Day.

Nick Swisher started his career 2-for-3 with two HR against Verlander. But since he’s 6-for-his-last-41 against him.

Also on Verlander
This is the fifth straight season he’s entered May .500 or worse (he was 3-2 in 2006). During his career, Verlander is 9-14 with a 4.75 ERA in March/April, but is 49-21 with a 3.19 ERA from May through July.

Also on Colon
Bartolo Colon is 0-6 with a 7.20 ERA in his last nine starts against the Detroit Tigers. His last win against them was April 13, 2003. Colon enters the day with a sub-.500 record against three AL teams — the Tigers (8-9), the Boston Red Sox (8-10) and the New York Yankees (4-5).

Yankees at Comerica
The Yankees are 21-22 all-time at Comerica Park. They hit .195 in four games there last season, losing three.

Other items of note relating to that:
Derek Jeter

-Derek Jeter’s .245 regular season batting average at Comerica is his worst at any AL park. He was 1-for-17 there last season (.059 BA) and is 3-for-30 at Comerica since the start of 2009.

Derek Jeter vs Tigers
Comerica Park-- .245 BA, 3 HR, 9 extra-base hits in 36 games
Tiger Stadium-- .360 BA, 2 HR, 8 extra-base hits in 22 games
>> .369 BA vs Tigers in home games

Jeter is a .330 career hitter against the Tigers despite the Comerica struggles.

- Mark Teixeira is 4-for-28 at Comerica Park as a Yankee. His .220 batting average at Comerica is surpassed only by Fenway Park (.209) for his worst BA at an AL venue. His .244 career batting average against the Tigers is his worst against any team.

Miggy Pop
Miguel Cabrera has seven HR in his last eight games against the Yankees, six of them coming at Yankee Stadium.

Lou Gehrig
May 2, 1939 is a significant date in Yankees history. It’s the date Lou Gehrig’s streak of 2,130 consecutive games played ended - against the Tigers.

The numbers behind a catch and a just-miss

April, 28, 2011

US Presswire/Getty Images
Nick Swisher came up just a bit short on a game-saving catch attempt, but Brent Lillibridge (right) was able to celebrate after his clutch defensive performance.

You might remember on April 5 when Delmon Young had his game-tying three-run double in the eighth inning of the Minnesota Twins eventual extra-inning win over the New York Yankees. Right fielder Nick Swisher came within a hair of making a game-saving diving catch. Instead, the ball fell just beyond his reach and the Twins tied the game and went on to win the contest a few minutes later.

On Tuesday, in a spot not far from that just-miss, Chicago White Sox right fielder Brent Lillibridge made a diving catch of Robinson Cano’s line drive to end a win over the Yankees. Lillibridge gambled with an all-or-nothing dive and came up successful. Had he missed, as Swisher did, the ball would have likely rolled by him for a walk-off two-run double.

We asked Ben Jedlovec at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) to take a closer look at both of those plays, to help us quantify the difference between an out and a hit. The results were quite intriguing.

BIS charts every play of every game, using television telecasts to evaluate where on the field every play in a game is made. They use a timer to time how long every fly ball and line drive is in the air, allowing them to compute how often balls hit to certain spots on the field go for hits or outs.

Young’s fly ball had a hang time of 4.4 seconds. BIS was able to determine that a ball hit to a spot within a 10 foot by 10 foot zone of that hit location was a base hit approximately 57 percent of the time at that hang time within the last year. So Swisher wasn’t the only player to miss out on a ball hit into that zone.

To show you the impact that the hang time of a fly ball has on a play, check out the chart on the right, provided the day after Young got his game-tying hit. Had that ball been in the air a few tenths of a second longer, it’s almost certainly an out.

On the other end of the spectrum is Lillibridge’s play. Cano’s line drive stayed in the air for just under 2.5 seconds. Within the last year, there were 61 line drives hit to that area, with hang times that rounded to 2.5 seconds. Lillibridge was one of only three players who were able to turn that batted ball into an out.

Lillibridge’s value as a defensive replacement was accentuated by the Defensive Runs Saved stat, which relies heavily on this type of data (how frequently a fielder turns a batted ball into an out. The player who Lillibridge replaced in the eighth inning, Carlos Quentin, ranked last in the majors among right fielders in Runs Saved last season (an indication that he would have had a tough time turning that ball into an out).

Our second chart shows how frequently a line drive to that approximate spot has been turned into an out over the past season, based on hang time. Had Cano’s ball hung in the air for just a moment less, the Yankees, not the White Sox would have been celebrating.
Today’s Trivia: On Monday, the Los Angeles Angels' Jered Weaver looks to become the first American League pitcher since Zack Greinke in 2009 to win each of his first six starts. Who was the last American League pitcher to lose each of his first six starts in a season?

Jered Weaver
Weaver is off to one of the hottest starts in the American League, but there are several others who are not:

• The New York Yankees' Brett Gardner is hitting .140, which ranks last among 187 qualifying hitters. He’s 0-for-21 with 10 strikeouts on at-bats ending in an off-speed pitch.

• Gardner’s teammate Nick Swisher is 4-for-43 (.093) against right-handed pitches, a year after hitting a career-best .285 with 25 home runs against them.

• As a member of the Washington Nationals last season, Adam Dunn hit .314 with 24 home runs on at-bats ending in a fastball. In his first season in the American League, Dunn’s hitting .067 with two hits in 30 at-bats.

• The Chicago White Sox's Alex Rios is hitless in his last 20 at-bats, and has seen his batting average drop to .160. Last season, on pitches down the middle, Rios hit .392. This season? 1-for-12 (.083).

• The Angels Vernon Wells is 1-for-29 (.034) with two strikes in the count.

• Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury already has struck out looking 11 times this season, tied for the most in the majors.

• The Oakland Athletics' Daric Barton is 0-for-19 this season on pitches located up in the strike zone or above the strike zone. Last season, he hit .315 (34-108) on those pitches.

• With a 29.4 swing percent, Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana has been swinging at fewer pitches than anyone else in the league. (He was at 38.7 last season.) But the bigger discrepancy is his swing percent at pitches in the strike zone. Last season it was 61.9. In 2011, it’s just 47.2, fifth lowest in the majors.

Sunday was Derek Jeter’s first four-hit game before the month of May since April 9, 2001, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Jeter now has 36 four-hit games in his career, tied for third among Yankees in the Live Ball era (since 1920). Lou Gehrig has the most with 53 followed by Earle Combs’ 37.

Staying with the Yankees, A.J. Burnett is 8-0 in the month of April as a member of the Yankees, and 18-24 after April. The Yankees will be facing Phil Humber tonight at Yankee Stadium. Opponents are hitting just .061 (2-33) against Humber’s off-speed pitches this season.

Trivia Answer: In 2007, Jered’s brother Jeff Weaver was 0-6 after six starts for the Seattle Mariners.
The New York Mets and Colorado Rockies got the day started at high noon with a rare single-admission afternoon doubleheader. The Mets struck first in each game, but the Rockies rallied both times to take the double-dip and sweep the four-game series at Citi Field, improving to an MLB-best 10-2.

The Mets have now lost five straight games and have held at least a two-run lead in each of them. Over these five games, the Mets' team ERA is 5.94 and their bullpen ERA is 6.48. It is just the second sweep by the Rockies of the Mets in a series of three-games-or-more in New York in franchise history. The only other time came in 1994.

Troy Tulowitzki went 10-for-16 with four homers and eight RBI in the four-game series with New York. He is the first player to go deep in each game of a series of at least four games against the Mets. The Elias Sports Bureau also tells us that Tulo is the first player to attain each of those stats in one series since Vladimir Guerrero went 12-for-17 with five homers and nine RBI for the Angels in a four-game series against the Rangers in 2004.

Cliff Lee had a forgettable start to the season, allowing nine runs in 10⅓ innings over his first two outings. Lee was back in vintage form on Thursday night, though, tossing a three-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts and just one walk against the Washington Nationals. He is the first Philadelphia Phillies pitcher to throw a shutout with at least 12 strikeouts and three hits or fewer since Curt Schilling in 1996.

This was the second night in a row that a Philadelphia pitcher threw a complete game, following Roy Halladay’s 59th career complete game Wednesday night. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Phillies hadn't gotten consecutive complete games since Paul Byrd and Curt Schilling did it May 11-12, 1999 at St. Louis.

The Tampa Bay Rays got their first home win of the season in dramatic fashion as Johnny Damon hit his sixth career walk-off homer in the 10th inning off Minnesota Twins reliever Matt Capps. Damon has now hit a walk-off home run with the Rays, Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox and Royals. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that Damon is the first player in MLB history to hit a walk-off homer with five different teams.

Another AL East team also walked off with a win Thursday night as the New York Yankees swept their rain-shortened series with the Baltimore Orioles thanks to a game-ending sacrifice fly by Nick Swisher. Swisher is the first Yankee to hit a walk-off sacrifice fly since Ruben Sierra in June 2004 against the Padres. Alex Rodriguez continued his march up all-time RBI list too, moving into sole possession of 11th place with an RBI in the sixth inning.

Twins-Yankees matchups to watch

April, 6, 2011
Tonight is the third game of a four-game set between the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees (7 ET on ESPN2). Since 2002, the Twins are 17-46 against the Yankees, their worst record against any opponent over that span. Did you know? In the last 20 seasons, the Twins have only won a season series from the Yankees only 3 times — 1991, 1992 and 2001.

Carl Pavano
Pavano’s Matchups to Watch
Nick Swisher is 1-for-6 against Carl Pavano in the regular season with 5 strikeouts. Pavano also struck him out twice in two at-bats in the 2009 ALDS (Swisher did go 1-3 against him last year’s ALDS).

Mark Teixeira’s lone HR against Pavano came in his last regular season AB against him - May 31, 2009.

On Carl Pavano’s Yankees tenure (and why wins don’t tell the whole story for a pitcher)
There are a number of pitchers who have been the subject of Yankees fans derision, among them Ed Whitson, Javier Vazquez, Kenny Rogers, Jeff Weaver, and Pavano. Yet those names all share a common thread. All finished with ERA’s of 5 or higher in their Yankees tenure … and they all finished their Yankees career with winning records!!

Freddy Garcia
Garcia’s Matchups to Watch
Joe Mauer’s .419 BA vs Freddy Garcia includes a 6-for-10 in 2010. He homered in his last AB against Garcia on August 10, 2010.

Jason Kubel was 6-for-8 against Garcia last season with 3 BB. He’s reached base in 4 straight PA vs Garcia. One other note on Kubel: He went 7-for-15 with 3 HR against the Yankees in the regular season last year.

Jim Thome has walked 9 times against Garcia in 28 regular season plate appearance, and twice more in six postseason PA. His last 2 AB vs Garcia are a HR and a 2B.

Twins hitters hit .337 against Garcia last season (he made 4 starts vs MIN)

Jeter Watch
Derek Jeter is hitting .167 through the Yankees first 5 games of the season. The only season in which he hit worse within the Yankees first 5 games of a season was in 1998 when he was hitting .150 (3-for-20). Jeter rebounded to hit .324 and the Yankees ended up winning 114 games.

Mark Teixeira
Teixeira Watch
Mark Teixeira is hitting .373 in the regular season against the Twins. But if you just go back to 2007, it’s even more ridiculous. Since 2007, he’s hitting .453 against them in the regular season (39-for-86) and has a walk-off HR against them in the postseason.

Teixeira is glad to have Freddy Garcia on his team. Teixeira is 0-for-16 in his career against Garcia!

Twins righty struggles
The Twins are hitting .174 against right-handed pitching this season. Mauer’s game-winning hit last night made him 1-for-7 against right-handers this season.

Lastly, from the Elias Sports Bureau
The Twins came back from 4 down to beat the Yankees last night, the first time they've rallied from 4+ down to beat the Yankees since May 5, 1997 (the Yankees catcher that day was Joe Girardi), when they beat the Yankees, 9-8 at Yankee Stadium.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Sabathia battled for six innings, but he helped the Yankees force the series back to Texas.

CC Sabathia (six innings, 11 hits, two earned runs, no walks, seven strikeouts) is the first pitcher since Bruce Hurst in 1986 to allow at least 11 hits and two runs or fewer in a postseason start.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Since joining the team in 2009, Sabathia has now won a team-high 16 starts (including two in the postseason) following a Yankees' loss.

Robinson Cano's four home runs in this series is one shy of the most HR in a postseason series by a second baseman. Chase Utley hit five HR in last year's World Series.

Cano and Josh Hamilton each have four HR in this series. The only other postseason series where opposing players each had four HR was the 2004 NLCS: Houston's Carlos Beltran and St. Louis' Albert Pujols.

During the regular season, C.J. Wilson allowed just one home run with no outs in an inning. In Game 5, Nick Swisher and Cano both homered off Wilson with no outs in the third inning. The home runs by Swisher and Cano were the first back-to-back home runs in a postseason game by the Yankees in an LCS since Game 3 of the 2000 ALCS at Seattle (Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez).

Kerry Wood has picked off two Rangers in this series (Ian Kinsler in Game 1, Elvis Andrus in Game 5). He's the first pitcher with two pickoffs in a postseason series since Mark Mulder did it in the 2001 ALDS against the Yankees.

In three wins, the Rangers are hitting .448 (13-for-29) with runners in scoring position, and just .176 (3-for-17) in two losses.