Tagged: New York Yankees

The 5-1 Win

Tonight’s good news, even more so than the win, at least for me, is that Sheffield has said he will change position to accomodate Abreu. I was worried about that becoming a serious team chemistry problem, but now that the Master Sheff doesn’t mind playing third base, first base, left field, center field or DH, we’ll rest assured that once he’s off the DL that big bat of his will be in the lineup. I love the acquisition of Abreu, but Bobby doesn’t compare to the intimidation factor of Sheffield. We really need both of them.

Wright was as usual. Too many pitches (103) crammed into 5 innings, 5 hits and 1 run. But as long as he’s allowing 1, 2 or 3 runs, the Yanks have a chance to win and you can’t complain. Luckily Villone, Proctor and Farnsworth have been untouchable.  But pretty soon, when the innings begin to stack up, I don’t know if we can expect the bullpen to pitch 4 innings every time Wright starts. Right now we’re getting by, but it might not be so easy in two months.

Wright’s pivotal moment was in the fourth inning when, with 2 outs and runners at the corners and a full count on McDonald, he induced a ground out. That kept Toronto’s lead at one run and set up the Yankees’ big inning. If McDonald reached base, I bet Torre would’ve called to the bullpen because Wright’s pitch count was in the high 80s to low 90s.

Our 4 runs in the bottom half were created by A-Rod, Abreu and Bernie. With Jeter and Giambi already on base, A-Rod doubled in the tieing run and then Abreu walked to reset the table for Bernie who doubled home all three base runners for a 4-1 lead. Then in the seventh inning A-Rod knocked in another run which pushed the score to 5-1 and saved Mo for another day. That run proved very important because if the score remained 4-1, Mo would’ve pitched the ninth and I’m all for saving Mo’s arm a little bit here and there even though I know he has no problem pitching on back to back to back nights.

Chien-Ming Wang needs to pitch a good game tomorrow. 7 or 8 innings would be paradise. Everytime after Wright pitches I feel thirsty and the best quencher for that kind of thirst is an old fashioned complete game. Wang went the distance last time out, so maybe that means he only lasts 6 innings this time. I don’t know, but like always I see a sweep on the horizon and if the bullpen gets some more rest then that could become a reality. One thing I’ve learned from this season is the wonders that a rested bullpen can do. Now I know why the White Sox were so good last year.

Also good news, Utley got #33. I wouldn’t mind seeing a 50 gamer in my lifetime. Got a ways to go though. Keep up the chase.

Chien-Ming’s 2-hit, complete game shutout

Chien-Ming Wang was in control from the start, putting the first 12 batters he faced back in the dugout until Wigginton singled to begin the 5th inning. Overall, 18 of Wang’s 27 outs were on the ground. Before tonight Wang had pitched into the ninth inning twice this season. The first time was last month when he allowed the walk-off home run to Zimmerman and the second time was only three weeks ago when he allowed 6 hits and 1 run to the D’Rays. Wang was very efficient on all three occasions though, needing less than 107 pitches to enter the ninth frame. He leads both Moose and R.J. in innings pitched. Wang has 148 IP, Mussina has 141 1/3, and Johnson has 135. I like Chien-Ming a lot and I think unless we’re getting Liriano or Pujols in return, we need to keep him. We now have two starting pitchers with 12 wins and one with 11 wins. Our top 3 starters combine for 35 wins and 15 losses. Now we only need Wright and Ponson to find some consistency and we’ll have a very solid rotation.

5 of our 6 RBIs came with 2 outs. Damon led off the game with his 24th double of the season and Jeter sacrificed him to third. Then if I remember correctly Giambi struck out or grounded out and A-Rod singled up the middle to score Damon. The Yanks took advantage of 7 walks to plate a few more, and then staged another mini rally a few innings later and Bernie put the icing on the cake when he lined a bullet over the center field wall. A patient offense and efficient pitching made this win a snap.

Wang’s complete game bodes well for the rest of the series. It allowed the bullpen another day of rest so they’ll be ready to go tomorrow when The Big Unit takes the hill. Extending this 4 game win streak a few games would be awesome, just like Utley adding #28 to his hit streak. If he multiplies it by 2 he’ll tie DiMaggio. Good luck, Chase. I’d like to see someone break Joltin’ Joe’s record, but I don’t think it will happen.

Now that Atlanta have dealt Wilson Betemit to the Dodgers, I hope the rumors about trading away Scott Proctor disappear. Getting rid of our best set up man is simply and undeniably a bad idea. Unless, of course, if we’re getting both Gordon and Abreu in return. Otherwise, a Proctor-for-Betemit deal is hogwash. I can’t believe that possibility even entered someone’s mind. I really hope Proctor stays on board. Same with Melky. I wouldn’t mind seeing Bubba or Guiel or Phillips go (in that order). And parting with Farnsworth would make sense if we get a more consistent pitcher in return, preferably one with a fully functioning back. I think Farnsworth is valuable on our side though, so I have no problem with keeping him. But right now Proctor is one of the best non-closer relievers in the AL and downgrading the bullpen for an extra bat won’t be beneficial in the long run, so I see no reason why we’d need to trade him. I just don’t understand how that silly rumor was created in the first place.

Haven’t done this in awhile:
Fireman Watch
Todd Jones saved his 28th game. Jenks saved his 27th. B.J. Ryan saved his 25th. Wagner saved his 21st. Dempster saved his 19th. Fuentes saved his 18th. Mike Gonzalez saved his 17th. Guardado saved his 11th.

Also, check out the interview Rivera did for the Hall of Fame website after recording his 400th save. I learned that Mariano would like to be a car mechanic if he wasn’t a pitcher.

The 8-7 Win

So we’re down a run in the top of the ninth and Texas calls in their closer, Akinori Otsuka. The first pitch he throws is lined up the middle by Jeter and then Giambi taters one into the seats. Just like that, BOOM, ball game’s over and thaaaaaaaaaaa Yankeeees WIN! Because we all know who’s pitching the ninth. That’s right, the guy with the fourth most career saves. Mo comes in and the sweep is accomplished. Of course, every win is important, but losing today wouldn’t have been that big a deal. We would’ve won the series and Boston and Chicago lost so we’d lose no ground. But like I said, at this time of year every win is crucial so gaining a game in the standings is helpful. Unfortunatly, it’s just one game and doesn’t mean anything if we don’t build on it. So great game Yankees, but keep it up.

All 8 runs proved necessary to nail down this win, but I want to bring attention to one of those runs. To lead off the 8th inning an A-Bomb landed beyond the walls in dead center field. The guy that supposedly stinks so bad that we need to trade him sparked a 4 run rally and the first run scoring frame for the Yanks since the first. Giambi’s long ball only would’ve tied the game without A-Rod’s solo shot, so you can’t knock him down for only hitting when it doesn’t matter. Also, Happy 31st Birthday A-Rod!

But let’s not forget the miracle that was Shawn Chacon. Inheriting a bases loaded, zero out situation in the 8th inning and keeping the one run deficit intact. Chacon induced a swinging K and a double play, beautifully done to set the stage for Giambi’s game winner. Plus, he bailed out Proctor who’s probably been overworked the past few days.

I liked seeing Fasano in the lineup already. That must be a good feeling. Get traded that morning and your new manager immediatly needs you in the game. Also must’ve been an exciting victory to be apart of with his new team. He’s kinda tubby, looks like slow motion when he labors out to the pitching mound, but I see more enthusiasm from him than I saw from Stinnett. Fasano looks jazzed to be playing and might be the slowest base runner in the major leagues, but he undoubtably has a lively spring in his step. However, they’re both second string catchers so I don’t see much of an improvement. I mean, this isn’t the final piece of the puzzle that wins us the AL East. Fasano hit .243 in 50 games for the Phillies and Stinnett hit .228 in 34 games for us.

I bet we keep this streak alive with our top 3 pitchers slated to face the D’Rays (that’s such a bizarre animal to name a team after). And lucky for us we won’t see Kazmir because of shoulder soreness. Although the kid they’re starting on Friday looks decent.

How about them Twins? Pretty remarkable what they’ve done this year. I heard something like they’ve only lost 8 of their last 42 games. At one point they were like 23 and 2 in their last 25 games. I don’t know if they can fend off Chicago once the reigning Champs get rolling again. Last year I believe both Baltimore and Washington entered the All-Star break with division leads and then lost them before the end of July. I doubt that will plague the White Sox. That means the Yankees need to aim for first place in their own division, because Chicago is down but they aren’t out.

And you know, I was just thinking, wouldn’t it be awesome to win a Game 7 of the World Series on an outfielder throwing out a runner trying for the tieing run at home plate? Winning like that might be cooler than winning on a walk off home run. I’m putting in the call: Game 7, Yankee Stadium, top of the ninth and one out, score 6-5 in the Yankees’ favor, Jose Reyes at third base and there’s a fly ball hit to left field and Melky guns him down at the plate. Boy, that would be dramatic.

The 6-2 Win

Sure is good to get that horrible Toronto series out of our system. And because the Twins beat Chicago, we gain a game in the Wild Card. It would be even better if Oakland could muscle up a win over Boston, but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna happen.

Our pitching tonight was excellent. Johnson delivered a great start, lasting 6 strong innings with 7 strike outs and only 2 runs. After Proctor pitched a scoreless seventh, Farnsworth came in for the eighth and immediatly allowed two singles. But he then reared back and touched the high 90s for three straight swinging strike outs. Farnsworth is inconsistent, but when he’s on he’s untouchable. He’s simply been on fire the month of July, posting an ERA of .96. I was surprised to see Rivera pitch the ninth and I wish Torre saved Mo for a save situation. He could’ve tried Villone or Wilson for the final 3 outs. But Torre wanted a quick ninth so Mo jogs in and game’s over.

The offense had a highlight reel night. A-Rod had a good game. After Jeter led off the seventh with a double A-Rod added a double of his own for an RBI and the Yank’s sixth run. Jeter also had a nice night, that double and a triple right after Melky tripled. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen back to back triples (with 2 outs no less!). Speaking of Melky, he was a home run shy of the cycle and also threw out Teixeira trying to turn an RBI single into a double. Speaking of Tex, there’s a guy who hasn’t lived up to the high expectations. He hit 43 and 38 home runs the last two seasons. He also had 144 RBIs last year and a .301 batting average. So far he’s hit the long ball only 14 times and had only 9 at the All-Star break. He’s got an average at .271 and has 61 RBIs. Let’s compare that RBI total to Jeter’s which happens to be 59. Jeter only has 6 home runs and hits from the two spot, but has driven in about the same number of runs as Teixeira, who hits cleanup. I think this says more about how good Jeter is, but it doesn’t make Tex look great either. Basically my point is to provide more evidence that A-Rod is not the only player having an off year. Matter of fact, all of A-Rod’s stats are better than Tex’s. Why doesn’t Tex ever get booed?

So we’ll so how Eaton fares in his season debut tomorrow. He’s got a tough counterpart to match in Mussina. I hope Damon’s back in the lead off spot, but considering how well Melky did today Torre might decide to give Damon another day off.

The 13-5 Loss

Well, all I can say is the Blue Jays came out to play for this series and we didn’t. If the Yankees did anything right, it was few and far between. We’re averaging only 4 runs over the last 7 games. We even got lucky with yesterday’s win, scoring two runs on a balk and a bases loaded walk. It seemed like we had a hard time getting anything done and we just didn’t play with authority. But I don’t think the Blue Jays are this good. I just think we played poorly. We underachieved while the Jays overachieved. Judging by these past 4 games, I have no clue why the Jays aren’t in first place. But they aren’t and I’m sure there’s a reason why.

Ponson and Wilson got pretty goofy and definitly made a win near impossible. Too bad we couldn’t stage another 11 run comeback! Then Chacon comes in and adds to that ERA before Villone finally ends the embarrasment. I like what Feinsand wrote in his blog yesterday:

"Teams can win five straight and it looks like they’re world beaters. Then they can follow that with three losses and even the most optimistic fan can begin to think, ‘Maybe next year.’ One win, however, can turn that fan right back into the believer that he or she was just days ago."

That’s very appropriate for the situation.

So, good stuff from today’s loss: Posada’s home run was pretty cool (there were 2 outs). We had 13 hits; Green, Cabrera, Posada, Giambi, Damon and Jeter (Jeter’s 6 for his last 10) all had 2 hits. Melky made a great catch at the wall to rob Wells of a double. And maybe we get lucky again and the Mariners beat the Red Sox.

Just remember that on July 4th, about 3 and a half weeks ago, we lost to the Indians 19-1! Then we won the next 9 of 10 games! GO YANKEES!!!

The 7-3 Loss

Bummer. Things didn’t go as planned today. I can’t blame Jaret Wright for the loss. Every pitcher has a bad game. He’s actually strung together a number of very respectable starts in the past few weeks. I’d even venture to say he had a streak of solid outings that we couldn’t complain about. I remember the game when we roughed up Beckett and he’s a pretty good pitcher. So, as awful and unhelpful as 5 runs in less than 3 innings is, it isn’t entirely his fault and I don’t expect it to become a motif in Jaret’s game. By the way, Chacon didn’t inspire confidence either and I assume Joe won’t use him unless we’ve got a 10 run cushion.

The good news from this loss is that Villone was fantastic yet again, which gave Farnsworth, Proctor and Mo a well deserved day of rest. And also, A-Rod, you magnificent dude, future home run king and Hall of Famer. Congrats, man! You’ve reached the big 2-0-0-0 and 4-5-0. We now have 4 players in the 2,000 hit club (Williams, Jeter, A-Rod and Sheffield). That’s pretty amazing, right? I don’t know of any other team who can currently boast that.

Tonight, however, the Yankees offense was tediously low key and unexcited. A number of missed opportunities and a lack of opportunities at the plate created the loss. Except for A-Rod’s home run, our bats were disabled, owned, wire-tapped and sent to prison by Burnett. Tonight A.J. enjoyed an impressive performance and was formidable in the eyes of the Red Sox and Yankees.

I think that one of the keys to recent failures is Giambi’s power outage this month. He’s hitting .183 in the month of July and only has 4 home runs and 14 RBI compared to his June numbers of 11 HRs and 23 RBIs. A-Rod (believe it or not) is having a much better July than Mr. Giambino. His total of 5 home runs ain’t special, neither are his 16 RBI, but he is hitting .323 and has a slugging % of .600, which is drastically higher than Giambi’s SLG of .383. At the beginning of May Giambi had an OBP as high as .545. Now it’s shrunk to .405.  Another curious July statistic is their batting average with runners in scoring position. If I read the stats correctly (I suggest you check for yourself, because I’m very surprised by these numbers), in the month of July A-Rod is hitting .368 with RISP. Giambi’s hitting .227. BIG DIFFERENCE. Maybe the boos should be reserved for the actual slugger who isn’t slugging. If the offense is to recover from its slumber, Giambi must be the catalyst.

I don’t suggest booing Giambi though. I don’t approve booing any player. FYI.

Anyway, it’s crucial the Yankees split the series. Wang will be the author of a perfect game tomorrow and whoever starts after him (Ponson?), will essentially do the same thing.

Mariners 3 – Yankees 2

Bummer. A waste of Randy Johnson’s spectacular game. 8 innings, 3 runs (2 earned), 11 strike outs, 1 walk. That’s a pitching line that deserves a win. Then Farnsworth equaled The Unit’s dominance in the ninth, only tossed 4 pitches. But the Seattle arms had our number too.

The Mariners tried running on Stinnett 4 times. They were caught twice in strike ’em out, throw ’em out double plays. Only Ichiro was fast enough to beat the throw on both attempts. One of his stolen bases gave the Mariners the winning run when Stinnett’s throw bounced into centerfield. Ichiro advanced to third and scored on Ibanez’s sac fly.

The way I approach baseball is that luck finds the team who deserves it. When you win 1-0 in back to back games against the worst team in the AL, you’re doing something right that makes stuff align perfectly for you. Scoring only 2 runs in 16 innings against the team with the highest ERA in the American League is kind of pathetic. It isn’t impressive and it doesn’t deserve two wins. But you have to give credit to those Boston pitchers, stepping up when they needed to. They have an ERA of O.OO in the last 23 innings and an ERA of 2.40 over the last 5 games during which they have 4 wins. Streaks like this happen for every team, so I’m not giving up hope or heaping the praises on Boston. Nevertheless, I am impressed by Boston’s last two games. Winning a 1-0 game twice in a row seems like a challenging thing to do. I’m just down right now because we lost this game with no offense while Boston managed to win two straight games with no offense. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

And over the coming 4 game series against Toronto, the offense will need to show up. The cold weather above the border must freeze the better part of those Blue Jays’ arms (except for Halladay’s and Ryan’s), so putting on a fireworks display might not be a challenge for the Bombers. The Blue Jays have the ninth best ERA in the AL. Only the Royals and Orioles have allowed more home runs in the AL than Toronto. And I’ve read that their bullpen averages about 7 walks per 9 innings. Except for Halladay they don’t have a reliable starting pitcher. Lilly’s been ok, leads the team in strike outs, but walks about 4 or 5 batters a game. Burnett’s only pitched 7 games, has a losing record and an ERA above 4. He averages about 6 innings a start and has 41 strike outs and only 8 walks in 42.1 innings. Their offense leads the AL in batting average. They’re second in home runs and fifth in runs scored. So they’ll pose a threat, but I think the Jays are a bit overrated. I agree that the AL East is a three team race, but the Jays will finish in third because the Sox and Yanks are on a higher playing level. The Jays do have one of my favorite players though, Frank Catalanotto, the Prince of Palermo.

I was looking at the rankings for blown saves in the AL and here’s what I found, from most to least:

Royals…20 blown saves
Rangers…18
Indians…13
A’s…12
Blue Jays…12
Devil Rays…11
Mariners…11
Orioles…11
Red Sox…11
Yankees…11
White Sox…9
Angels…8
Tigers…8
Twins…5

I’m not sure what this means. You hear a lot about how championship teams are made of great pitching and great bullpens, so I suppose one way to read this is that the A’s and Rangers have no chance if the Angels can put together a major league lineup. And maybe we should consider the Twins more of a threat in the Central. I have no clue, but I’m sure it means something.

I’m reading this book called Dynasty: The New York Yankees 1949-1964 by Peter Golenbock and something in it caught me by surprise. It’s just a minor detail, nothing big, but here it is: "With the score 2-1 (Yanks losing) Maris doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a bunt by Mantle". When I read that Mantle was asked to lay down a sac bunt, I was thinking, "why?". Maybe they wanted to spare his arms and legs any more abuse, which I know were killing him. Anyway, I found it interesting and felt like sharing.

I also found it interesting that this author makes it seem like the people who didn’t want Maris to break Ruth’s record were the minority. I’ve heard the story about Maris losing clumps of hair and I thought that happened throughout the whole season. But this author says it happened for the first time just a week before season’s end. I was also told by a Red Sox fan (and college professor) that Yankee management didn’t want Maris to break the record, so they batted him lower in the lineup to decrease his number of at-bats. According to this book, that’s completely false. I was also surprised that Maris recieved a full house standing ovation when he hit home runs 60 and 61. In the past I’ve heard that Yankee fans hated him because they were too much in love with Mantle. I don’t think the author is writing through rose tinted glasses because he does include extensively how much stress and pressure Maris was under. However, from now on I’ll be cautious of all the dramatized stories. The manager batting Maris ninth….bologna. Don’t know why I believed that.

GO YANKEES!!!