Girardi spent his pre-game press conference defending his decision to start Vidal Nuno tonight. Honestly, I agreed with him prior to the game that he can basically play whomever he wants, giving the media requested Tanaka another day to wait for his start (Saturday). And I have to say his decision paid off. So maybe all those critics will stop their own message board managing and focus on their own jobs instead.
Nuno was practically flawless in tonight’s series opener against the Red Sox. 91 pitches over 5.2 innings, allowing just 2 hits, no runs, and 2 walks, striking out 5. Starting to run a little low on steam, Nuno gave up a 2-out walk in the 6th inning, so they opted for Dellin Betances for that last out of the 6th and push through the 7th. Warren and Thornton each took an inning to finish off the game, but the damage was done and tone was set. It was always going to be Nuno’s game to win and the Yankees came through for him.
On the flip side, the Yankees certainly racked up the runs in tonight’s game. In the 1st inning, Jeter and Ellsbury on base with a single and double, respectively, Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly easily scored Jeter for the Yankees’ first run. Then in the 4th, McCann on base and 2 outs, Kelly Johnson hits a 2-run home run just before Brett Gardner backs that up with his own addition — a solo home run. The Yankees are suddenly up 4-0. So just to be sure they have the game, Teixeira is on base with a single in the 8th when Brian McCann hits his own 2-run home run into the 2nd deck in right field to push the Yankees up to a 6-0 lead and eventual victory.
And that was it, folks. Short and sweet. And for a Red Sox-Yankees game, it was also rather short and sweet. Usually this rivalry can push what’s an average of just under 3 hours a game to at least 3 1/2 hours per game. But no, thanks to Nuno’s quick pace set early on, the game sat at 2 hours, 42 minutes, actually less than the average MLB game of 2 hours, 58 minutes. Actually, it’s usually the pace of the starters that affect the pace and overall time of the game. It has much less to do with how the offense is or whether there was any challenges or arguing (though all of that certainly contributes). The majority of the length of the game depends almost entirely on the pacing of the pitchers — how long they take to set-up, communicate and signal with their catcher, play the pick-off-the-runner game, actually deliver the pitch, receive it back, fiddle around in the dirt, and then settle back in again.
It’s something I noticed especially this year in Spring Training. Some games would just seem to linger on forever, while others (or at least part of others) would seem to fly right by. It’s really all about the pitching. People have been complaining for years and there’s been talk that MLB wants to cut down on the game times (I won’t start my opinion and response today), it’s really a simple solution — teach pitchers not to linger between actual pitches. Some pitchers need a breather to refocus between pitches, while others should probably just keep on throwing. And really either way it’s understandable, if not altering per the season or even every game. But it’s really all about the pacing overall.
Every pitcher will develop his own sense of pattern and timing. For which I truly appreciate and understand the desire to personalize one’s career. But for all of our sake, can we stop the lingering/loitering in between pitches? It frustrates a batter wanting to just hit the ball. It frustrates your defense trying to anticipate where a ball could be hit. And it certainly frustrates the fans who want the edge-of-your-seat kind of action or they’ll start heading for their third beers and fourth pretzels or (God forbid) start the wave.