Well, for the very first Yankee game I've seen in over a week, the Yankees certainly managed to keep it interesting.
It's been so long since the Yankees had won an extra-innings game on the road that when the game went to ten innings, one had to wonder if it was just a matter of time before marking the loss column. Fortunately, despite a couple of very close calls, the Yankees could mark the win column.
Even better: the Yankees are now over the .500 mark--hopefully, for good.
The Yankees' offense seems to finally be showing some signs of cohesion; instead of collapsing when Minnesota staked out to a 2-0 lead, it kept going. Even the Yankee pitching, far from great tonight, never let Minnesota take control of the game.
The win was satisfying because the Yankees had to work that much harder for it, though now it's been five rough starts in a row for Wang.
I'm still battling jet lag, hence why this post is late and undetailed. I'm working on a couple different non-gamers; I'll get them up eventually.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Well, for the very first Yankee game I've seen in over a week, the Yankees certainly managed to keep it interesting.
Friday, May 30, 2008
By Elizabeth Finn, Blogging the Mystique.
This is going to be pretty bare-bones tonight, because I'm exhausted and I have to be up in 7 hours, but I'm awfully glad I could pop in here to post after a win. It makes the exhaustion palatable, at least. Rebecca's back in the States, but out and about tonight, so this will be my last guest blog here. Feel free to email me or check out my blog. (Not-so-subtle hint)
Mike Mussina raised his win total to a team-high eight and the Yankees overcame a rough first inning that had them trailing 4-1 to top the Twins 6-5 on Friday night and raise their record back to the break-even point.
In the first inning, with the Yankees leading 1-0 and after a one-out hit and a walk, Shelley Duncan fielded a potential double play ball. He threw the ball high and wide to Derek Jeter, loading the bases and setting up a four-run inning for the Twins. Mike Mussina, who was responsible for only two of the runs, threw almost 40 pitches to get out of the inning. At one point, there was stirring in the bullpen, and the game looked to be a repeat of the game from a week before, when the Yankees lost 12-2 to the Orioles and Mussina couldn't escape the first inning.
But Mussina settled down. After a double to Alexi Casilla in the second, Moose retired ten in a row, on his way to pitching five scoreless innings on a season-high 109 pitches. Meanwhile, the Yankees chipped away, scoring one run in the third when Alex Rodriguez knocked in Bobby Abreu following the right-fielder's leadoff triple, his first of two in the game, two in the fourth on Melky Cabrera's single to left, and one in the fifth when Abreu came around to score following his second triple of the night.
The Yankees picked up what would be the difference in the game in the 7th when Hideki Matsui's ground ball single up the middle scored Abreu. Abreu, who stole the 300th base of his career in the 1st inning, had four runs scored, tying a career-high, and Cabrera, Rodriguez, and Matsui each knocked in two runs.
The Yankees' bullpen was shaky but effective enough, with their only blip being a solo home run Kyle Farnsworth gave up to Justin Morneau in the bottom of the 8th.
Mariano Rivera came in to close out the game, striking out two and earning his 14th save in as many opportunities.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
By Elizabeth Finn, Blogging the Mystique
If Jason Giambi's career is over, someone should probably let him know, since he doesn't seem to be going down without a fight. For the second night in a row, the hot-hitting Giambi reached Eutaw Street, blasting a 415-foot home run to lift the Yankees, behind a solid Andy Pettitte, past the Orioles for a 4-2 win in Baltimore.
But the story Wednesday night wasn't the renaissance of Giambi, who drove in the first two runs of the game, the second of which was his team-leading 11th home run of the season, raising his average to .244 and his May average to over .320. Nor was it about Andy Pettitte, who pitched his second straight solid start, allowing 7 hits over 6.2 innings with his only blip a two-run home run off the bat of Melvin Mora. He also helped himself out by picking Brian Roberts off second base in the 5th.
The buzz of the game was, instead, Joba Chamberlain, who made a scheduled relief appearance on his journey to becoming a starter.
Chamberlain, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings in relief of Pettitte, and threw 27 pitches, needed to duck back into the bullpen to finish his workload, an estimated 50-55 pitches according the Yankees. He could have crept closer to his goal during the game, but Joe Girardi and the Yankees elected to go with Mariano Rivera in the 9th, who shut the Orioles down for his 13th save of the year in as many opportunities.
The Yankees took the lead in the 5th inning when Derek Jeter hit a sac fly to center to plate Melky Cabrera, who had blooped a double to left field, his second of the night. They added a big insurance run in the 9th on Johnny Damon's RBI single. Damon had three hits in the game.
Chamberlain could start on Monday against the Minnesota Twins, taking the rotation spot of the injured Ian Kennedy, who was diagnosed with bursitis and a strained lat muscle and was placed on the 15-day DL following his abbreviated outing on Tuesday night. The Yankees have not announced who the starter will be, and left open the possibility that someone could be called up from AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees have Thursday off before heading to Minnesota to play a 4-game series in the dome. Mike Mussina will face rookie Glen Perkins on Friday.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
From Elizabeth Finn, Blogging the Mystique:
I talked to Rebecca today to fill her in on the happenings in Yankee-land. I was tempted to tell her to stay in Italy, as the Yankees have won every single game since her flight took off. I'm sure she and Italy would love that. Maybe I can broker a deal with the American Embassy there to hold her on a fabricated smuggling charge. I'm kidding, Rebecca. Come home safe and sound.
It's too early to think October, and maybe that's a good thing, but the Yankees of late have been reminiscent of a playoff contender as their awakened offense and transitioning phenom beat the struggling Mariners 12-6 on Saturday for the Yankees' fourth straight victory, their longest streak of the season.
Backing a shaky Mike Mussina, who pitched on short rest after he lasted only 42 pitches against the Orioles on Tuesday, the Yankees jumped on the board first with a four-run second inning. Jason Giambi slugged a home run to left-center for the first three runs of the game and, after Robinson Cano hit his first of three doubles, Melky Cabrera knocked him in with a bloop single.
In the top of the third, however, the Mariners answered back. Mussina struggled with his location at times during the inning, and surrendered the first home run he's given up to a lefty since 2007 as Jose Virdo hit the first of two that inning and the Mariners tied the game.
Suddenly, the momentum had shifted. Could the Yankees, who have been struggling all season to battle back from lost leads, let this one slip away? Or would they pass the test and prove to everyone that their offense was beginning to crawl back from a drought that had seen them score 39 runs over a 12-game span?
Test passed with flying colors. After the Yankees regained the lead in the bottom of the third on a Melky Cabrera single, they never looked back. Mussina settled down, throwing 74 pitches over five for his seventh victory. Joba Chamberlain pitched a successful second transition outing, hurling 40 pitches and relying heavily on his two plus-pitches to keep the Yankees in the game, and everyone sat back and watched the offense put on a show.
And they were dazzled. Robinson Cano, who has raised his average 81 points since April 30th, recorded the 11th 4-hit game of his career, socking three doubles. Jason Giambi, owner of another busted slump, raised his average to .234 and was a long-shot triple away from the cycle. Melky Cabrera added two RBIs and Bobby Abreu had four, including two from his opposite-field home run in the sixth.
Alex Rodriguez contributed only one hit to the 16-hit onslaught, and he struck out twice. But his presence in the lineup has no doubt affected it, and for the better. Bobby Abreu looks more relaxed at the plate, taking more pitches and flailing at fewer. Gone are the strange lineups, with a glut of lefties hitting in slots to which they are unaccustomed, to avoid stacking them. Gone too is the luxury for opposing pitchers of being able to relax against the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez, for them, will be lurking. The old gang is back in town. Cano is hitting 7th again. Cabrera 9th. And the Yankees, who have scored 37 runs in the five games since Rodriguez has been back, couldn't be more relieved.
(Guest post: Brent Nycz from The Bronx Block)
"Just like my love everlasting
And the beat goes on
Still moving strong on and on
Do you ever wonder
That to win, somebody's got to lose
I might as well get over the blues
Just like fishing in the ocean
There'll always be someone new
You did me wrong 'cos I've been through stormy weather..."
I can't help but think that the Whispers accurately described tonight's game 18 years ago. Plus, Michael Kay said it twice in the 5th inning.
Think about it: Jason Giambi has been on fire, and tonight was another example of that. 2-for-3 with 2 walks. The last couple of games, he has been having very productive at-bats characteristic of most of his career. After last night's walk-off single, Robinson Cano went 2-for-4 with 3 RBIs and a walk. Yes, a walk and Cano appeared in the same sentence. Heck, even Shelley Duncan got into the action, providing the first big blast, his 3-run HR in the 2nd inning.
Apparently, Yankees.com had a play on the fact that it's a Friday and the Yankees scored 13, 13 hits and 13 men sent up to the plate in the 8-run 5th inning. If we want to continue this theme, I sat in Section 37, Row D, seat 13 last night while wearing my new t-shirt, #13, Alex Rodriguez. Maybe I had something to do with it? Eh?... Anyway!
The Yankees appear to have gotten some mojo back.
And just for fun, here's a commercial that, if you watch the games on YES, you know all too well.
Friday, May 23, 2008
(Tonight guest-blogger is Elizabeth Finn. You can find her blog--check out the Melky article she won't shut up about--at Blogging The Mystique)
Hello, internets. While Rebecca's eating gelato in the streets of Roma and hopefully buying me a buttery-soft leather purse in Florence, yours truly is slaving away on her old laptop with the cracked hinge to bring you tonight's game recap. I was actually at the Stadium for this one,(which is why it's being posted so late) and I'm lucky this isn't a voice post, because I think I wore my voice out declaring Joe Girardi the 2008 MVP. Anyway, on to the recap:
In a season where Yankee heroes have been hard to find, Thursday's game against the Orioles produced several. Backed by a sharp Ian Kennedy, a near-perfect bullpen, and Robinson Cano's walk-off single, the Yankees rallied around their manager, who was ejected moments before the winning run crossed the plate, to beat the Orioles, 2-1.
Joe Girardi's ejection, his first of the season, came in the ninth inning with the score knotted at 1-1. With one out and Hideki Matsui on first, Jason Giambi came to the plate. On a two-strike count, Giambi appeared to have been brushed back by a Jim Johnson fastball. Instead, home plate umpire Chris Guccione ruled the ball a foul tip--presumably off the knob of the bat-- into catcher Ramon Hernandez's glove for the strikeout. Girardi sprinted from the dugout and began to argue with Guccione. Within seconds, he was ejected, to the delight of the frustrated crowd, whose cheers only grew when Girardi threw his hat, kicked it, and stirred up plenty of home plate dirt before retiring to the clubhouse. The ejection was significant, since Girardi, who has a reputation for being fiery, had faced some criticism for not arguing more calls for his downtrodden team.
Whether or not their manager's emotional display fired up the simmering Yankees can't really be proven, but they seemed to have renewed hope, as Bobby Abreu drew a pinch-hit walk. That brought up Cano, who has quietly been breaking out of his quarter-season-long slump, yet was 0-3 on the night until he lined Jim Johnson's 27th pitch of the night into left field, scoring Matsui and giving his team a much-needed win on a night when they had many reasons to be happy.
One of those was the reason the score was 1-1 going in to the ninth to begin with. Starter Ian Kennedy, who came in to the game with an 8.48 ERA and a propensity thusfar this season for missing with his fastball and falling apart with runners on base, looked calm and collected for his six innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball. His fastball had bite and he spotted it well, striking out four and walking four, yet allowing none of those walks to score. The only run he gave up came on a one-out triple to shortstop Freddie Bynum, scoring Adam Jones. He later loaded the bases yet escaped further damage by striking out Nick Markakis, who would strike out two more times, and inducing a fly out from Aubrey Huff. Kennedy, who had been criticized for allowing the game to overtake him, seemed to slow the game down when he needed a big out, as he escaped another tough spot in the sixth to finish off a solid night.
The Yankees scored their first run off a tough Brian Burres in the fourth inning, when, after a leadoff single, Hideki Matsui came around to score on Shelley Duncan's sac fly.
The Yankees' bullpen was lights-out, and retired 9 out of the 10 batters they faced, with Jose Veras throwing a strong seventh followed by 1-2-3 innings from Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera, who picked up the win.
Johnny Damon was 3-4 and Giambi and Molina added singles to round out a quiet night that got a shot in the arm at exactly the right time.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
This is Brent from The Bronx Block. For the next week, until Rebecca returns from her Italian vacation, Elizabeth from Blogging the Mystique and I will be reporting for Rebecca's blog.
Yes, the Yankees won 8-0. Yes, Darrell Rasner was great. And yes, Alex Rodriguez had a big night and had a home run taken from him, but that's not the biggest news.
Joe Girardi admitting that Joba Chamberlain has started the process to become a starter is the big news.
What can I say on it?
You can't waste Joba's arm in the eighth inning. The simple fact that he was put up with four plus pitches says something: Joba has the stuff of an ace. A potential future ace for the New York Yankees. Think about that: with the ceiling of Phil Hughes and with Chien-Ming Wang pitching the way he has, the Yankees could have a strong 1-2-3 combo in their rotation.
You also don't know if Joba would be a great starter unless you give him that opportunity to start. I just hope Yankee fans don't freak out if Joba doesn't start out extremely great when he starts his first game in the majors, but considering all I've heard about Hughes and Kennedy so far, I'm not overly optimistic about that happening.
Honestly, I would have hoped Joba would stay as the 8th inning guy for the year and stretch him out during Spring Training next year to start next year, but the Yankees feel Joba is most needed as a starter, giving him the ability to affect 6 or more innings once every 5 games. To the Yankees (and to me), the amount of innings a starting pitcher can affect is more valuable than the 50+ innings a reliever can affect.
Let's hope that the Yankees are right in their decision.
In fact, let's be optimistic.
Monday, May 19, 2008
So I had tickets to both Friday's rain out and yesterday's drubbing.
While it was fairly depressing, I did manage to a) meet Pete Abraham and meet with jscape2000, and b) take lots of pictures, and by now I think you all know I like sharing them. So here are some more.
Friday I went with my brother, my dad and my cousin, who got tickets to one of the box seats from his supplier. The view from the seats, when we got there:
The inside of the box. Usually, at game time, there can be 20-40 people in the box. However, given the rain on Friday, it was just the four of us for about an hour before they called the game (eventually 2 others joined us, but only for about 10 minutes). The best part? Free food and private bathroom!
Oh, and they give you nets to catch the foul balls as well. That's my brother.
Sunday, now. This time it was just myself and my brother. Walking to the Stadium I grabbed a picture of the new Stadium. The pictures don't really do it justice--it looks magnificent.
Our seats on Sunday weren't quite as nice--loge level, last row back--but we were covered, and didn't have to wait behind a long line to leave at the end of the game. And yes, that is the new Stadium in the background.
The countdown board.
The broadcast booth. Couldn't really get a great picture because of the angle, but that's okay--not like you wanted hi-def pictures of John Miller and Joe Morgan, anyway.
The New Stadium, taunting you.
The umpires. One of them botched the home run call but I don't know which.
Taking the field.
Wanger. Definitely not his best start of the season, though he tried to save the bullpen by pitching into the 8th inning. Unfortunately, the bullpen basically damned itself.
Right before the second pitch. I would have gotten the first, but there was an asshole standing in the way.
Giambi made a couple of nice plays...and then one really, really, really boneheaded one.
Robbie made a lot more nice plays.
Jeter batting. He didn't have a bad game--hit and walk and scored on Matsui's homer, but alas, it was not enough.
Matsui. This was not his home run at bat, though that would have been kind of funny, timing-wise.
Robinson Cano action shot
More game action. This might have been right before the Matsui home run; I can't remember.
...Yep, right before the Matsui home run.
Right after the Matsui home run. I was screaming a bit, which is why it's blurry. Of course, as you now know, the Yankees are now incapable of scoring more than two runs in a game.
This is a little less blurry.
Robbie on base. (...What? I like Robbie!)
My brother was very amused by the slippery when wet sign.
Molina on third; Abreu and Jeter each had a chance to drive him in. They didn't.
My brother tried the rally cap thing. It didn't work.
Another day, another loss. It seems the Yankees are doing little else right now, and in the Subway Series, against a Mets team with its own large share of problems, it hurts just a little more.
Andy Pettitte was not horrible. In fact, by the standard definition of quality start--three runs or less in six innings pitched--that is exactly what Pettitte did. However, as he seems to have done in each of his last five starts now, Pettitte struggled in the fourth inning, giving up three runs and leaving the bases loaded.
Kyle Farnsworth, who had been excellent thus far, picked a bad day to have a bad outing. Every pitcher will have a bad outing, though one might argue that he, and not Pettitte, should have gotten the loss for the game.
On the offensive side of things, the Yankees had a better game than any of their previous four, but it was still not enough to get the job done. The ninth inning seemed to be a microcosm of the offensive struggles for the season, with the Yankees bringing the tying run to the plate three times in the inning and being unable to score a single run. Billy Wagner is a good pitcher, but the Yankees should have been able to get to him there.
OPTIMIST TAKE: The Yankees had three home runs from Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi. Giambi still has more home runs than singles. Edwar Ramirez had a solid outing. Andy Pettitte seemed to have recovered from the fourth, though he threw too many pitches to remain in after the sixth.
I have tickets for tomorrow evening's game, so if you're going, I'm loge level, section 17, row F. Stop by and say hi!
Friday, May 16, 2008
As you know by now, tonight's game has been rained out.
Rain outs are never fun; those you have tickets to even less so, as the drive from New Jersey to Yankee Stadium might be the worst one ever.
However, the Optimistic take is that a) I've at least been to Yankee Stadium this calendar year, and b) the Yankees didn't lose.
Darrel Rasner will have his start skipped in favor of Andy Pettitte tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Someone ought to offer Hank Steinbrenner a motivational speaking contract.
Every week now, it seems, on the day before a Mike Mussina start, Hank berates the team for a lack of ______ (pitching/offense/effort/spirit/clean and pressed uniforms), and every evening, Mussina surprises the fans with a near gem of a pitching performance, getting just enough run support to pull it off.
Only now that Mike Mussina has won five straight starts, Yankees fans might consider no longer being surprised when he pitches well, but instead start thinking about how lucky they are that it is this year Mussina has chosen to have a comeback player-like performance.
Tonight was easily one of Mussina's best performances of the season, and one has to think that if the Yankees had scored more than two runs, Mussina would have been left in a little longer instead of pulled in the bottom of the seventh after the lead off runner reached base. With a performance like tonight, Mussina seems to have fast become the Yankees' stopper, giving the Yankees far more out of the #2 spot than they likely hoped to have gotten.
Also, superb infield defense didn't hurt, either.
On the offensive side of things, tonight was hardly a coming out party for the bats, but they were able to do just enough to eke out the win, scoring as many runs tonight as they have in the past two games combined (which isn't saying much).
OPTIMIST TAKE: Robinson Canò was 4-4, perhaps a sign that he's breaking out of his April slump. Joba was Joba, and Mariano Rivera was vintage after the poor outing last night.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Winning extra innings games on the road is one of the hardest things to do in baseball.
However, there is no statistic for games lost in extra innings, as there is in hockey, and thus when you have a game like the Yankees had tonight, the loss stings even more.
This game was, for the most part, an old-fashioned pitcher's duel, though, at times, it felt more like the product of good pitching and an anemic offense on the part of the Yankees. Chien Ming Wang did everything he was supposed to do and like his last start, it wasn't enough. In fact, in Wang's past two starts, the Yankees have given him literally no run support.
Hideki Matsui's home run in the ninth was a jolt of life, and it certainly gave the Yankees a chance, but when the Yankees failed to score another run in that inning, it greatly lessened their chances of winning because they were on the road.
Mariano Rivera's ERA was not going to remain at 0.00 for the course of the entire season, but the loss always hurts.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Alex Rodriguez may be back next Tuesday. Kyle Farnsworth had another strong outing and Jason Giambi is beginning to look like he belongs in the line up (if not on the field)
Monday, May 12, 2008
I'll be honest. I missed most of tonight's game to catch House, and it seems I made the right choice.
There has to be something worrying about the struggles of Andy Pettitte. Four starts in a row now, and three of four especially, he seems to hit a wall in the fifth inning, and on occasion, even before that.
If it was just one start that it happened, it wouldn't be worthy of note. Even two starts, it might get a passing glance, but little more than that.
Now, however, the Yankees have got to be concerned. Pettitte's coming back to pitch for the Yankees was supposed to be a boon; a way to stabilize the rotation which had two first year pitchers and one veteran nearing the end (and there is a slight irony that Mike Mussina is turning out to be the more reliable of the 2 and 5 tandem). Pettitte has made his mark as being the Yankees' stopper, the one that they can turn to when they need a win the most.
If he can't give the Yankees five or six quality innings, the Yankees have a major issue on their hands.
For incredibly obvious reasons, I can't say if it's fatigue from "old age" or a barking elbow or something unrelated, but whatever is going on has got to be addressed.
The Yankees had contingency plans for Hughes and Kennedy; they can ill afford an ineffective Pettitte.
Even the arguments of a lack of run support can't hold much weight--they help to explain why the Yankees don't win games, but they do not explain Pettitte's recent ineffectiveness.
Yankees fans have got to hope that whatever it is, it will pass quickly.
OPTIMIST TAKE: For such a prolonged outing, the bullpen was fairly effective. Jose Molina had a double; he has been slumping recently.
It doesn't feel any different, but it is fun to say!
Greetings from a University Graduate!
Now that I have my BA in history in hand I can...go unpack. Yeah, that liberal arts degree, so stimulating.
At least n ow I have time to blog. More later.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Brent here again. Becca graduated from Syracuse today, and I moved back home from Fordham (which is why the post is this late).
Now, about the game, I had the "privilege" to watch the game today on FOX, and I have to say, it was one of the most painful viewing experiences of my life. I have no idea who FOX had to announce the game, but watching and listening to them was worse than the homerism of the Chicago White Sox announcers. Yes, it was that bad. From their fumbling of the players' names to not being able to handle the speed of the game, today's game actually made me miss Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.
In fact, Dick Stockton said at one point in the first inning: "You don't want to go out here and have to always outscore the other team". I think that says it all.
The Yankees got on the board early with Derek Jeter's solo shot, which was actually called by the announcers who spent 5 minutes talking about Jeter's home-run-less streak. Though Robinson Cano grounded into a double play (after the bases were loaded and up 2), the Yankees were able to get at Jeremy Bonderman and knock him out of the game by the 5th inning.
Darrell Rasner pitched brilliantly today: 6 innings, 4 hits and 2 earned runs against the supposedly #1 most dangerous line-up in baseball. He is supposed to pitch like a 5th starter, but he's putting up 2nd/3rd starter numbers. Can't ask for anything more.
Great game to win and a great game to watch... except with the announcers. Wilson Betemit apparently pulled something after his double in the 4th inning and is now on the DL, even though Joe Girardi said the injury wasn't that serious.
Andy Pettitte will go against Nate Robertson for the rubber match of the 3-game series.
OPTIMIST TAKE: If Shelley Duncan can't become a star on the Yankees, he showed before the start of the game that he has the potential to become a ring announcer. He had me rolling on the ground with his line-up announcing: remarking on Jeter's dancing skills and giving Rasner a new nick-name: Razz-a-tastic. Kyle Farnsworth got out of a jam... he created with a very strong showing. Joba and Mariano were supreme and Mariano still hasn't given up a run.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Hi everyone, this is Brent Nycz from The Bronx Block, guest posting again in honor of the graduating Becca. She shall be graduating tomorrow, I believe, so these next two posts (tomorrow's as well) are in honor of her achievement (and in honor of going to grad school at my school: Fordham University next year).
What can we say? Who here expected Kei Igawa to blow up and not get out of the fourth inning? Ok, you can put your hand down and I gotta do the same, it's hard to type with one hand.
The bullpen pitched valiantly today, but unfortunately, Jonathan Albaladejo, who pitched 2.1 great innings of work, left with an injured elbow. The offense was quiet for most of the game, except in the 9th inning with a 3-run comeback against Todd Jones. Also unfortunately, the Yankees were down 6-2 in the start of the inning.
What can you say but to get them next time? This team is up and down and up and down. Let's see what tomorrow brings.
Rasner vs. Bonderman.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Jason Giambi hit his 7th home-run tonight. Robinson Cano had his second straight multi-hit game. The bullpen held strong. Simple as that.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
In a lot of respects, this game was eerily similar to the first game of the series--a close game where the Yankees' offense was mostly a product of Jason Giambi and Robinson Canò--but, unlike that game, the Yankees won this one.
Mike Mussina started the game great, giving up a lead-off single to Grady Sizemore and then retiring twelve in a row before hitting a wall in the fifth. It was certainly not Mussina's best start of the season, but it was good enough to give the Yankees a chance, and one cannot ask for much more than that from a (supposedly) back end starter.
Ross Ohlendorf, who has not pitched in a while, had an excellent outing and is making a strong case for the eighth inning when Joba makes the transition to a starter.
Joba Chamberlain rebounded from his poor start--this time striking out David Dellucci, and he did not bother to hide the emotion.
On the offensive side of things, Johnny Damon had two crucial hits, Jason Giambi hit at least two balls to the left side (even if they were outs) and a two run home run, and Robinson Canò had (arguably) the best game of his season. Even Wilson Betemit had his first home run of the season.
Hideki Matsui now has a 17 game hitting streak, getting a hit in his first at bat.
OPTIMIST TAKE: The Yankees' offense was able to pick up Mussina after he hit a wall, and they combined for four home runs. Mariano Rivera had a "poor" outing for himself, but his line is still sick. Although the Yankees finish the home stand at 4-5, one can argue that it should have finished at 5-4, had Joba not had the bad outing.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Most of the time, if your starter goes seven innings giving up three runs or less, your team is in good shape. In fact, such a scenario is called a "quality start".
Most of the time, however, the opposing pitcher does not sport a 0.96 ERA.
Cliff Lee did not just come as advertised tonight, but he made an excellent case for starting the All Star game, as well as even winning the Cy Young.
Chien Mien Wang did not have a strong first inning, and even though he settled down, there was simply no way he could out pitch Lee.
In fact, right now, it doesn't look like anyone can out pitch Lee. The only mystery seems to be when Lee's luck will run out--because it seems too good to hold true for the entire season.
Then again, stranger things have happened.
On the offensive side, the Yankees were able to manage hits--Abreu, Matsui, Duncan, Cabrera and Canò managed hits--but they were not able to put anything substantial together, and each time they had two men on base, there were also two out.
It's hard to fault an A-Rod and Posada-less offense for this loss; Lee was that good.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Even though Wang lost the game, he battled back from his shaky first inning and gave a quality start. Alex Rodriguez may be back in the line up as early as Wednesday. Kyle Farnsworth again looked good. David Cook is in the top three!
These are short because I'm in the middle of packing, but here goes:
Tonight, Chien Ming Wang looks to go to 7-0, but to do so, he'll have to beat Cliff Lee, who currently has an ERA under one. Yes, you read that right--Lee's ERA is 0.96.
Meanwhile, Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui each have their own streaks to keep going--Matsui is looking at a 16 game hitting streak.
Meanwhile, here in Syracuse, it looks like the heavens are about to let loose...
More later, if I don't succumb to 'death by packing'.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Nothing about tonight's game felt normal, but until the top of the eighth, the Yankees looked as though they might escape with a win.
They had a one run lead, behind solid pitching from Andy Pettitte, who made one mistake in the early innings to Jhonny Peralta, and Kyle Farnsworth (yes, that Kyle Farnsworth), and they had timely hitting from Jason Giambi (yes, that Jason Giambi) and Robinson Canò.
Of course, Joba Chamberlain was not going to go his entire career without giving up a run or losing a game at Yankee Stadium, and one might say the sooner he has to deal with adversity, the sooner he can overcome it.
Still, the fact is, Joba had very poor command tonight, as he walked two and nearly walked a third. One might argue that Joe Girardi should have gone to Mariano Rivera to pitch to David Dellucci, but if Rivera wasn't ready yet (and given Joba's general success in the eighth, he was probably in no rush), Joba would have had to pitch to Dellucci anyway.
It is a tough, depressing loss to take for the Yankees and their fans, but they happen. One can only hope that Chien Ming Wang is able to out duel the surprising Cliff Lee tomorrow.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Hideki Matsui had a three hit night and is now on a fifteen game hitting streak. Jason Giambi looked possibly the best he's looked all season, even if he only had one hit, he had quality at bats. Pettitte seems to have recovered from his fifth inning implosions in Cleveland and against Detroit.
Well, it's only been one day without Yankees baseball, but it feels like a lot more than that.
Anyway, the Yankees open up the final series of their "welcome home after a three week road trip" home stand tonight, and Andy Pettitte will take the mound against Fausto Carmona of the Cleveland Indians.
The last time these two pitchers met, Pettitte out-pitched Carmona through seven, but ultimately the effort came undone, and if you're any sort of Yankee fan, I need not remind you how.
In his most recent two starts, Pettitte pitched well through the first four and came unglued in the fifth. If it happens again tonight, expect to see some questions as to his durability.
Coming off of a sweep of Seattle, the Yankees bats have been (mostly) hot; whether or not the offense has truly turned a corner has yet to be determined, and the Yankees will know more at the end of this series.
On a personal note: I've now completed all the coursework necessary for my BA, including the defense of my thesis (woo-hoo!)
As you might imagine, with graduation on Saturday (well, Sunday too, only I'm skipping because ceremonies that start at 9 AM on a Sunday totally don't do it for me), my posting will be a bit spotty this weekend. Brent Nycz has agreed to do gamers for Friday and Saturday, so you will get to see some more of his fine work.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
When things go well for the Yankees, they go really well.
Exhibit A: Game against Seattle, 4 May 2008.
Starting for the injured Phil Hughes, Darrel Rasner gave the Yankees exactly what they needed: six sharp innings, with the two runs given up in the first coming on one mistake to Adrian Beltre. Other than that, Rasner was great, certainly earning his next start.
Offensively, the Yankees had their first five-plus run inning all year, batting around and getting back-to-back home runs from Melky Cabrera and the struggling Robinson Canò. Johnny Damon had a good game, and Derek Jeter was 4-5, with two runs and an RBI.
In fact, the entire top of the Yankees line up has been hitting really well; the past three wins are all a result off their production. It's a great sign for the Yankees, who look like they are finally beginning to figure out things offensively--even Jason Giambi just missed a double to the deep left field corner.
The bullpen was again solid, not allowing a run--today's pitchers being Ross Ohlendorf, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera.
Rivera has now pitched thirteen innings and not allowed a run, and only four hits. He only needed eight pitches today. Many players struggle a bit after signing a big contract, but Rivera, if possible, looks better than he ever has.
OPTIMIST TAKE: The Yankees are back over .500 (hopefully this time they'll stay there!). Rasner did everything the Yankees could have asked--the time he's spent in Scranton probably helped. Robinson Canò had a home run, hopefully a sign of things to come. Johnny Damon made an outstanding catch in left in the sixth.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Today was the type of game one hopes the Yankees play more and more often as the year goes forward--excellent starting pitching, good hitting (even with RISP!) and a solid bullpen effort.
Mike Mussina, believe it or not, got his third win in a row, an certainly pitched like he wanted it. Seattle had eight hits (not all off of Mussina), but they only managed one run--which means that when Mussina need to make the big pitches, he was able to.
The crowning moment in his start came when he struck out the side in the sixth; he finished the day at less than 90 pitches so there is a little mystery as to why he did not come out to pitch the seventh.
As for the Yankee offense, the saying "As [Johnny] Damon goes, so goes the Yankees" could not have been more true today. Damon went 3-5, with two doubles and a home run (and he scored each time he reached base). Derek Jeter also had a great game, while Melky Cabrera and Bobby Abreu also had RBI.
As for the bullpen, LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Veras had great outings; Edwar Ramirez struggled with his control, but ultimately got the job done.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Damon, Jeter, Abreu and Cabrera are all at .290 or over on the year; Matsui is the only Yankee currently batting over .300. Mussina now has 254 wins for his career and has won three straight games--pitching, believe it or not, as if he is a number two starter.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Apologies for this being late--the end of the Celtics-Hawks game was, shall we say, entertaining.
Tonight, Chien Ming Wang again showed the Yankees and their fans why he is their number one starter, pitching brilliantly through six innings, allowing just one run, which was gotten on a single, two stolen bases and a ground out.
The Yankees did something they haven't done much of this season, taking advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves in the first and second, to take a 3-0 lead. They would not get another hit until the eighth as Erik Bèdard seemed to get better as the game went on, but they eventually won 5-1.
Wang gave fans a scare in the fifth when a cramp in his hand caused Joe Girardi and the team trainer to run out to the mound, but it appears that is all it was.
On the offensive end, Melky Cabrera and Hideki Matsui again came up in clutch situations in the first and second, and Morgan Ensberg and Jose Molina provided for insurance in the eighth.
The bullpen had a strong showing, allowing just one hit over three innings, and Mariano Rivera looks like he is on to having the season of his life.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Yankees scored five runs for the first time in a long time. Wang is now 6-0. The bullpen's effort was stellar, Kyle Farnsworth looked the best he has looked all year--he entered to boos and left with a rousing ovation at the end of the seventh. Believe it or not, Mike Mussina will go for his third win in a row tomorrow.
The Yankees will try to break a three game losing streak tonight, but to o that, they will have to face Erik Bèdard, who many believe would have lead the league in strike outs last year if not for an oblique injury that shut him down.
Fortunately, the Yankees have their own ace of the moment on the hill, as Chien Ming Wang looks to go 6-0 and join the league leaders in wins.
The Yankees will need a more stellar offensive effort, however, if they are to have any chance at wining the series. They still haven't won since they returned home.
The struggling Robinson Canò will get the night off, with Alberto Gonzalez playing second in his place. Johnny Damon will also get the night off, with Jason Giambi DHing and Hideki Matsui playing left.
Say what you want about Joe Girardi, but when it comes to line ups, it seems like he is a firm believer in 'variety is the spice of life'
Check back later for postgame notes.
In the meantime, I'm going to celebrate this grad school thing.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I only caught the bottom of the ninth inning tonight, but it seemed to play out like the rest of the game--it got off to a decent start, and then stagnated, before imploding with a whimper.
OPTIMIST TAKE: Bobby Abreu had a three-run home run in the first. I'm sure there's more to be optimistic about, but like I said, I only caught the bottom of the ninth.
My actual evening, however, was more entertaining. I had tickets to the Syracuse-Pawtucket game; because the weather was awful, cold and raining, there were not many people that made it out to see the game.
I somehow am now in possession of a foul ball. I don't know how I got it, but somehow a ball hit the back of my leg while I was walking, and, well, it's got a nice scuff to it. The ball, not my leg, though my leg will probably have a small bruise tomorrow.
One of the best parts of minor league games that no one goes to is that no one sits out by the bullpen, so in the late innings, you can wander down there, and the security guy might stare at you a little bit (especially if your friend has beer), but he will generally leave you alone.
There were about four of us out by the Syracuse bullpen--Dan and myself, and two other guys we did not know--and, despite the cold, rainy evening, it was fun watching the pitchers warm up, hearing their conversation (though it was too cold for there to be much of a conversation) and even interacting with them.
I guess you can say I am easily amused.
If, at the beginning of the season, you said that the Yankees would be a game under .500 at the end of April, you probably wouldn't have been too happy, but given the Yankees' month-long road trip, you would have probably been okay with it.
However, even thought that's what the Yankees have, the cost of it is looking like it is prohibitively high. The Yankees have lost a large percentage of their offense with the injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, and their young pitching has not only not been there, but is now getting hurt as well.
The Yankees will attempt to avoid a sweep tonight and get their first win since returning home, but they will need a better performance from Ian Kennedy than they have been getting, and much better production from their bats.
To that end, Joe Girardi continues to draw the line up at random; tonight Shelley Duncan will bat fourth, Morgan Ensberg will man third and Chad Moeller will catch. Melky Cabrera will once again bat in the sixth spot.
I have some more minor league tickets tonight so the postgame wrap will be a little late, unless it does like the radar says and rains, and then it might be on time.