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Girardi needs a faster trigger finger

Two nights in a row, Joe Girardi stuck with his starting pitcher for too long, and two nights in a row, the Yankees lost. As this afternoon’s contest is the last game of a three game set, the Yankees have now lost the series. This isn’t the end of the world, and the Yankees are bound to lose the occasional series (cough! Red Sox! cough!), but now, the Yankees have lost a series to the Oakland Athletics. The 59-70 Oakland Athletics – that’s just shameful.

This series has been marked by a disproportionate amount of RISP failures, but that’s going to happen. Hitters are going to go through good and bad stretches, and take you take your lumps while you’re not administrating them to the opposition. But the manager needs to do the little things he can do to push the team toward a win when he can, because for an AL manager, those opportunities are few and far between. Sure, having Derek Jeter bunt in the 9th on Tuesday was ridiculous (as he’s one of the hottest hitters in baseball since returning from the DL two months ago), but we all know Girardi is addicted to bunting and that is probably not going to change.

The management of the starting pitching, however, must improve to guarantee the success of the Yankees going forward. If Girardi is going to keep leaving starting pitchers in games late (Bartolo Colon on Tuesday, CC Sabathia on Wednesday) when they’re either clearly tired or in a bad situation, the Yankees’ bullpen, bench and position players are going to continue to feel the pressure from it. Colon was clearly tired in the 6th inning and should not have come out for the 7th. Sabathia, while he did right the ship after a shaky start, had no business facing a batter who hammers lefties such as Scott Sizemore (.341 avg, .437 obp, .511 slg, .948 ops against lefties and already had… two or three hits against Sabathia at that point) in the 8th inning while protecting a 1 run lead. Ace or not, it just doesn’t make sense.

The Yankees RISP problems of late are a slump, not the standard – we could say Girardi’s poor decision making is the product of the same limited sample size. You could also argue with 5 games in four days looming, he’s trying to protect the bullpen.. but those games are against the Baltimore Orioles, who have an even worse record than the Athletics at 50-77, so you would think you don’t need your elite bullpen guys in too many of those games. Anyway, for the sake of my sanity and hairline, let’s hope Girardi gets faster on the trigger when it’s clearly time to pull the starter.

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Yankees stand pat, win home stand

After a 7-3 home stand that ended with the Yankees standing pat at the trade deadline, the Bombers head out on the road to play four games in Chicago with the White Sox and then 3 games in Boston with the Red Sox. When reached for comment, Don Henley remarked, “Hmph… .”

I’d hoped that the Yankees would have managed one sweet during the home stand that features competition including the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and the American League bottom rung in wins Baltimore Orioles and go 8-2, but you can’t have everything. After winning the first game of the road trip against the White Sox, the Yankees were able to gain a game on the Red Sox and are now only one game behind in the division – although at this point, it seems like a foregone conclusion that both teams will make the playoffs.

I can’t remember the last time the Yankees did nothing at the trade deadline, but I guess it just wasn’t in the stars. As Ubaldo Jimenez seemed to be the most likely candidate to be acquired, the YES Network reported during last night’s game that the Colorado Rockies weren’t willing to let the deal be finalized after Jimenez passed a physical. That’s a little suspicious, no? Oh well – it sounds like the Yankees were willing to give up the farm for him, and after reviewing his declining numbers coupled with the no physical clause, I’m OK with passing on this opportunity.

So that’s where the Yankees stand – we’re going to war with the team we have. And hopefully, there are more reinforcements coming from the disabled list in the persons of Alex Rodriguez and Damaso Marte; the latter has been gone so long that I don’t think I could pick him out of a line up.

So can the Yankees win the World Series with the pitching rotation they have? I’m not sure about that. If Bartolo Colon is healthy and throwing well in October, that certainly increases their chances. I’d say that Ivan Nova is on the verge of taking Phil Hughes‘ rotation spot, and if he’s throwing well come late September, Joe Girardi is going to have some tough decisions about who starts, who relieves and who gets left off the roster. Let the competition begin!

Winning and Injuries

The Yankees are 8-2 over their last ten games and 13 games over .500, a 2011 season high, and I’m excited about that – but this team needs help. Don’t get me wrong, the Yankees deserve kudos for the winnings they’ve been doing, but this team has some glaring holes – some I understand, like the bullpen, but then, when they only score 1 run in Chicago against one of the worst pitchers in the game and let him hang around for 8 innings… it’s hard to know what to think. This and other Yankees issues are probably due to age, injury, regression or all three issues.

So who’s hurt these days? Its so numerous that it’s getting tough to keep track of. Fortunately, it looks like we’re going to get Jeter, Colon and Hughes back – 2009 Jeter is probably never going to show up again, but, he’s probably the lesser of alternative evils. Colon is a must and Brian Cashman is practically married to Phil Hughes, so if you don’t like Hughes… you’re out of luck.

Derek Jeter
El Calfstrain is just short of his 3000th hit, and while it’s kinda crazy that we get to watch the active hit leader and in the future can say, "I saw that guy play," you have to admit that he’s kinda dragging the team down with his bat and lack of range at short. On the other hand, Eduardo Nunez’s fielding can only be described as frightening, but more on that later.

Bartolo Colon
If you pray, please pray for Colon every night. We need this guy back at 100% – hopefully, right after the All Star break. Without him… I don’t know how realistic our chances are of actually going anywhere in the playoffs. He’s that important!

Phil Hughes

If you haven’t seen the reports, it sounds like his first rehab start went well, the velocity is there and he’s feeling good, so maybe we’re getting the good Phil Hughes back, but this guy is as unpredictable as they get – I know he won a zillion games last year, but I have trouble trusting this guy – he’s either going good, going bad or hurt. Consistency isn’t his strong point.

All Left Handed Relievers Except He Who Shall Hence Be Known As "The Crappy One"

Let’s see… I read somewhere that both Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte are starting to throw off flat ground, but who knows what that means in terms of a return time table. If neither of them can get David Ortiz out, then it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Joba Chamberlain

See you next year, Joba. Anybody got a spare setup man lying around that they’re not using?

Rafael Soriano

Oh right, you were supposed to be the setup man. I forgot. Joba was going to the 7th inning guy… anyway, Soriano is still supposed to be resting and maybe will come back in the middle of July, but I’m not holding my breath.

So we definitely need more pitching, but that’s not a surprise – although I thought it was going to be starting pitching, not bullpen help. So let’s take a look at who stinks.

Eduardo Nunez (fielding)
So, now that you’ve seen Eduardo Nunez for a while at short, what do you think? Obviously, he can’t field worth a damn – every time he picks up the ball, I say a silent prayer and everybody sitting behind 1st base braces for impact. Nunez can hit, but I’m starting to wonder whether or not this guy belongs in the infield.

Boone Logan aka "The Crappy One"
If Boone Logan was a Sioux, his name would be "Only On Team Because He’s Left Handed," or something more clever than that. Since he can’t get anybody out, he decided to try a different strategy against the Reds – just hit the guy, it’s faster. He’s given up 16 hits in 16 innings while walking 8 and striking out 11. That is NOT getting it done.

The Bullpen
We’ve got David Robertson, Mariano Rivera and a collection of stiffs. Seriously… the Yankees are, as of this writing, carrying 12 pitchers on there roster – and I’m sure it would be 13 if they could find another lefty. It’s that bad. I know Hector Noesi has looked good and Corey Wade has looked good so far, but we need more help, and we can’t count on any of the DL relief corps to come back. It’s time to go to the scrap pile (again) or make a trade.

Francisco Cervelli

I don’t expect backup catchers to hit, but this guy has got to field better. In fact, he’s got to field great – because if a backup catcher can’t catch, then what’s the damn point? It’s not like he’s a regular position player who you expect to contribute with the bat – Cervelli is a catcher and the guy just isn’t getting it done behind the plate. Cervelli and Nunez need to do serious work this winter.

Other Stuff

I guess Nick Swisher is finding his swing, but splits are still frightening. Jorge Posada is also looking better at the plate, but… who knows. The Brett Gardner Crisis of April has been officially over as he’s gotten his average almost up to .300 now – too bad he completely forgot how to run or steal bases. Kudos are due to Ivan Nova, who has really done well in his last several starts, especially last night. A-Rod is apparently playing hurt, but it doesn’t seem to be effecting him much; but, if he is truly hurt, the Yankees would be wise to DL him now rather than waiting – Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira can supply the power in the interim.

Now what?
The bench needs help and the Yankees desperately need relief pitching, and they need the two hardest things to get: a lefty and a setup guy. Can these holes be filled? I’m sure we can find guys to fix the bench, but the bullpen is going to be tricky. I hate to tie my hopes to Rafael Soriano coming back to the team healthy and effective, but I’m betting there aren’t many other choices.

Can I Get A Quality Start

I believe it was Al Leiter who said he was not impressed with the notion of a quality start. At some point, some wahoo made the term ‘quality start’ popular, which was meant to say that if a starting pitcher was able to stay in the game long enough to complete six (6) innings and allow only three (3) earned runs, then this was a starting pitching performance of quality. Mr. Leiter was quick to point out at the advent of his broadcasting career that if a pitcher produced a quality start, he’d have a 4.50 ERA, which is not so good – not to mention the fact that getting three innings out of your bullpen in the modern era of baseball is no simple accomplishment and is going to tax the arms down there as well. I tend to agree, and I do want to quickly mention that Mr. Leiter has quickly become one of my favorite broadcasters of all time.

However, as much as I reject the notion of a quality start as the standard to strive toward, the Yankees sure could use one right about now.

If you flip through your memory (which is hopefully more reliable than mine) and the Yankees 2011 calendar (without delving into the box scores), it looks like the Yankees have produced maybe one (that’s 1) quality start against the Red Sox this year in eight (8) tries. That, my friends, is a damn shame – or perhaps it would be better to say it’s shameful.

We all know the Yankees are short on pitching this year – that’s why it was easy to consider jumping into the Harlem River when the Yankees were not able to sign Cliff Lee. Since the Yankees were able to get Bartolo Colon and he’s pitched so beautifully, it seems as though we can count on both BC and staff ace CC Sabathia to deliver better than quality starts and get out backs in any pie eating contests. After that…

Whoooooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

The drop off in predictability is like going over that first big hill on a roller coaster. If Freddy Garcia doesn’t locate, he’s going to get hit hard by anybody, never mind a team with great hitting like the Red Sox, so nobody was really counting on him anyway – but, that being said, the Yankees would be wise to keep him from facing the Red Sox again this year if possible. AJ Burnett, who I didn’t want the Yankees to sign because of my concerns with his inability to stay healthy, has been healthy through his entire contract but as widely unpredictable as just about any other pitcher I can think of this side of Jose Contreras. Phil Hughes also sorta falls into that category, but is seemingly always hurt and Ivan Nova just doesn’t have enough experience to be thoroughly relied upon for anything. The trade market for starters is thin at best, so I don’t think there is any real help coming that will be a serious upgrade.

Looks like we’re stuck with these guys, but is that any different than 2009? Two good starters and AJ Burnett. It could be worse. (See Yankees 2008 season!)

Yankees May 2011 Wrap Up

 

May was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the Yankees.

The month of May, 2011 began promisingly enough as the Yankees finished off a series win against the Toronto Blue Jays, which finished up the home-stand on a positive note. Then the Yankees went to Detroit and the wheels came off – or maybe I should say the arms came off as they dropped 3 of 4 while we watched Eduardo Nunez through the ball all over the place. But, when the Yankees got to Texas, the bats came out, and we got Derek Jeter‘s mythical 2 home run game, which seems to have quieted the “Derek Jeter is finished,” media machine – at least for now… for some reason, hitting .264 in May is much better than hitting .256 in April – although I must admit, hit at-bats do look a lot better of late.

Then the Yankees came back home and experienced The Home Stand of Tears, dropping 2 of 3 to the Kansas City Royals (current record 24-30) and getting swept by the Boston Red Sox. Wow. Swept by the Boston Red Sox at home. That was a tough one. Yet, despite the rough patch, the Yankees are in first today by one game over the Monsters from Fenway.

Then the Yankees split two games at Tampa Bay (and they really should have won that first game), swept two games from the Baltimore Orioles (two game series are a waste of my time!) and then took two of three from the lowly Mets at home (current record 25-29). The Blue Jays came to Yankees Stadium and this featured another Yankees series win, including a come from behind extra innings win (pie style) that I feel this team desperately needed.

The Yankees flew out to Seattle to face the Mariners and gave up leads to lose the first two games and salvaged the final one before flying to Oakland to take on Hideki Matsui and the A’s, taking the first two games, including a gem by Bartolo Colon, and here we are, at June 1st, waiting for Game 3 to start later today.

So what did we learn this month?

The Yankees can’t bunt. Seriously, enough with the bunting. Nobody on this team is any good at it. The Yankees need to either start working on this in BP or just stop doing it. Last night’s failed suicide squeeze that resulted in Nick Swisher being tagged out in a run down was embarrassing – almost as sad as the fact that Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter can’t bunt; considering they have no power, they both need to add this trait to their game ASAP, or at least stop doing it, but this in between crap needs to stop.

Curtis Granderson is a golden god. Obviously. I was soooooo happy when they traded for him, and although last year was a tough start, my girlfriend very kindly ran out and bought me a Grandy-Man t-shirt in May of 2010, which makes us both look like geniuses now. Unlike Russell Martin, I don’t expect Granderson to slow down.

In praise of Bartolo Colon. Where would we be without this guy and his fastballs? His low pitch counts keep him in games late, giving a bullpen that is teetering on over use a bit of a breather. The Yankees need to protect this guy and give him an extra day’s rest any time they get a chance.

Losing streaks are inevitable. If you saw a lot of the New York papers (cough Post, cough Daily News) insisting that the Yankees blew their chance to bury the Red Sox, I tend to disagree. The Red Sox (not to mention the Rays) struggled early, and the Yankees hadn’t struggled yet. It was bound to happen. It could happen again. It’s a long season and there are many ups and downs.

Derek Jeter isn’t Derek Jeter anymore, but he’s hardly terrible. I don’t have any plans to build a statue to the guy on my front lawn, but I refuse to kill him in print the way so many have done. But then, this is another good example of what happens when you let Randy Levine meddle in negotiations.

Phil Hughes… ugh. Can this guy get through two consecutive seasons without spending major time on the DL? I know he’s still young, but he’s not that young anymore. Is it time to stash Hughes in the bullpen for good? I’m not sure, but given the Yankees appeared shortage of starting pitching, it’s a tough call. If you don’t believe in Freddy Garcia, I can’t blame you, but is Hughes really a better option? I guess we’ll have to wait and see what he has when he comes off the DL.

GOING FORWARD:
Take a look at the Yankees June schedule; it’s a tough one. Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Indians… if they’re still in first on July 1st, it’ll be a miracle.

Yankees End Home Stand With Series Win

Before the Yankees head to the west coast to face every good pitcher the Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and Los Angeles Angels of Midgard have on their roster, it was nice that the Yankees took care of business against the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays.

Game 1: Intentional walk blues
I hate, hate HATE the intentional walk. I understand that it can be an effective strategy, but in my eyes, it’s almost the last act of the desperate. I don’t know what Bartolo Colon‘s ground ball rate is, but he’s a strike out pitcher, right? I don’t feel that his two seamer is the sort of pitch that sinks and generates a lot of ground balls the way other guys can, so I wasn’t a huge fan of the strategy, and low and behold, it lead to a big inning. I guess I’m bound to be right about something every once in a while when I yell at the TV. If you’re going to have Colon issue an intentional walk to set up a double play, you might as well just pull him, because he probably got into the tough spot in the first place because his stuff wasn’t there anymore (and it wasn’t), so why leave an ineffective pitcher in there? I just don’t understand the strategy deployed there.

Game 2: Let there be pie!
Things weren’t going well; the Yankees were down late in the game, but suddenly, the 2009 Yankees showed up and came from behind to win the game! (I’m still pumped about this – wearing my Curtis Granderson t-shirt today.) This gave me a sense of confidence in the 2011 Yankees that I don’t think I’d felt before.

Game 3: Poor Jo-Jo
Day games suck. I understand that teams need a getaway day game, especially when the Yankees have to fly to the west coast, but seriously, who’s around to watch a ball game during the afternoon in the middle of the week? How can this be profitable for the Yankees as a business? But whatever.
You ever drop by Fan Graphs? I love that graph they have on the scoreboard page, showing how the percentage changes as things happen during the game, as both team’s 50/50 chance to win the game modifies with particular events. The graph starts with both teams having a 50% chance to win, but when Jo-Jo Reyes is the game’s starter, shouldn’t the Yankees get at least a 10% bump toward a win? Reyes hasn’t recorded a win since 2008, when he was with the Braves – and he went 3-11 with a 5.81 ERA in 113 innings. This year, his 4.70 ERA over 51.2 IP isn’t terrible, but it’s certainly not good, but when a guy has a cloud like that floating over his head… I don’t know how he overcomes it. Bottom line, the Yankees crushed him, as they should. It’s good to see Andruw Jones showing some power with 2 homers in a game – maybe Joe Girardi needs to consider platooning him with Nick Swisher in right field – Swisher is still hitting around the .200 mark, and I don’t feel like his swing is getting any better. I do think his discipline has been a little better in May than it was in April, but that’s a small consolation.

Coming up:
As aforementioned, the Yankees are going out west to facing good pitching, so the staff needs to respond in kind and toss up zeroes. With A.J. Burnett on the mound tomorrow night, we’ll have to wait and see if the good doctor is there or if the raging Mister Hyde takes the mound and throws the ball into the backstop – or maybe it’ll be one of those starts where both guys show up. Who knows…

Yanks and Chi Sox split 4 game set

When two teams get together and play a four game set, I would bet on a split every time – yet the Yankees should have took three out of four against the inferior Chicago White Sox. Let’s take a look at the series using my The Good, The Bad and the Fug-Ugly style. I heard that Mark Teixeira was sitting for game four just as a precaution to rest his sore shoulder, but I don’t know why The Captain sat for that game, too. Maybe just a scheduled night off for Derek Jeter? Or Joe Girardi is hoping a rest will jump start his bat? No idea. However, I think it is only a coincidence that the Yankees scored a million runs on the night Jeter wasn’t in the line up.

The Good:
The Starting Pitching – sure, you can argue that the Chicago White Sox aren’t the best offense in the league, but they’re far from the MLB leading worst run scoring San Diego Padres, who have only managed to score 70 runs on the young season. In case you’re wondering, the Yankees have 126 and the White Sox have 103 – the Cleveland Indians lead MLB with 129 and the St Louis Cardinals lead MLB with 136.
So yeah, the Yankees starting pitching blew my mind during this season, performing well above my expectations. We got two stellar eight inning performances from AJ Burnett and Bartolo Colon, and CC Sabathia had a fine night while any time Ivan Nova doesn’t get his ass handed to him, I call that a victory. If you’ve already started building a statue to Colon on your front lawn so you can leave offerings at it before each of his starts, I don’t blame you. Finish that shiz! =)

The Bad:
The Offense – For an offense of the Yankees caliber, a shutout is pretty hard to accept despite who is pitching on the opposing side. And yes, I know they got their hits in last night, but it sure did take long enough. But, Nick Swisher finally got the home run column filled, so maybe he’ll start hitting… wait, did he hit it right handed or left handed? Please tell me he hit it left handed, because he’s been so bad against left-handed pitchers so far this year…

The Fug-Ugly:
The Bridge to Mo – They only had one chance to get the ball to Mariano Rivera, and they blew it. I’m not worried about Rafael Soriano going forward, but it’s time to pick it up. Blowing leads against the White Sox at home is not acceptable!

The Yankees have Toronto coming in this weekend – hopefully, the Yanks pitching can keep the Blue Jays homers to a minimum.  Also:  Francisco Cervelli returns to the roster tonight!

North Of The Border

The Yankees two game swing in Toronto wasn’t their finest hour. Here’s a few quick notes on what I saw from the Bronx Bombers while they were North of the Border.

*AJ Burnett’s control seems to range from OK to piss-poor. However, his curve ball seems to have plenty of snap this season, so that’s something.

*Russell Martin is EVERYWHERE! Somebody hit a home run? It was Russell Martin. RBI single? Russell Martin! saving an awful pitch from Burnett that was outside of the batter’s circle? Martin again! Somebody selling Yankee souvenirs at an away game? Who’s doing that, way up in the nosebleed seats? It’s RUSSELL EFFING MARTIN! He’s everywhere, making every play. You have to love how that guy is playing right now.

*Phil Hughes, eat your heart out. Bartolo Colon’s first start of the year was a great one, throwing up Ks and going 6.2 IP – LOVE IT! Between Colon and Freddy Garcia, Brian Cashman is looking pretty smart right now.

*Yeah, Mariano Rivera is human. Just because I worship him like a God doesn’t make him one. It’s amazing how close the Yankees were to a two game sweep against the Blue Jays.

* Home Runs should be called Bautistas. Seriously. That guy is an animal.

*The Yankees bullpen is awesome, but at some point, the starters need to step up and… you know, not be the worst starters in the league, averaging under 6 IP per start. Colon and Garcia did a nice job the first time, but who knows what we’ll get going forward. Sabathia always warms up with the weather, and Burnett is as unpredictable as it gets. As for Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova… well, I think Nova will probably be heading to Scranton when Hughes comes off the DL.

*Homers, homers, homers! The Yankees keep knocking it out of the park, and you know what they say: Chicks dig the long ball. As for the press, they insist that the Yankees won’t be able to score runs if they don’t pick up their averages, but hitting a ton of home runs is not a bad thing. That being said, Brett Gardner needs to lay down a text book bunt every time or regain that Yankee leading on base percentage.

Up next, Sabathia leads the Yankees into Baltimore to smack the Orioles around. The most important thing to come out of Friday’s game will be 7 strong innings from the big lefty, and if they get that, they’re on the right track to do damage all weekend.

Yankees Take Rained Shortened Series Against Orioles

I read a Yankees blog that jokingly heralded this series as a battle for first place – it was true, but in April, it’s not to be taken seriously. Nevertheless, the Yankees find themselves at the top of the AL East while the Red Sox are 2-9, so for now, life is good. Sure, the Baltimore orioles look like a better team with an improved roster, but they still have problems and their pitching is still suspect – and that’s coming from a Yankee fan. I think the Os will be pesky this year, but nothing more.

There’s lots to smile about so far this season:

  • AJ Burnett looks like he’s finding his way through his 2010 troubles (which I still maintain weren’t that bad – drop a comment if you disagree and we’ll battle it out!) with some decent starts
  • CC Sabathia looks good even when he’s not happy with the way he’s throwing
  • The offense is showing plenty of signs of life, particularly when it comes to power. Jorge Posada has only 7 hits on the early season, but 5 of them are home runs… figure that out!
  • Joba Chamberlain has regained his vintage form, and suddenly, the bullpen is a force to be reckoned with. If a starter can go 6 innings and limit the opposition to to 3 or 4 runs, the Yankees have a decent chance of winning that game.
  • Batolo Colon has pitched great as the Yankees long reliever – without him, last night’s come from behind win would have not happened.

There’s lots to frown about, too.

  • Pedro Feliciano is done for the year and Damaso Marte might be available by September. Maybe. Perhaps once Manny Banuelos has pitched a significant number of innings as a starter in the minors, he can join the major league pen to finish off his 2011 innings limit. Otherwise, Boone Logan will be the go to guy all year long when it comes to lefties out of the pen – not that its a bad thing, Logan can certainly throw, but he makes me nervous sometimes. He’s certainly better than Phil Coke.
  • Phil Hughes is making Burnett’s 2010 season look like Aaron Small‘s 2005 season. If Hughes is truly healthy, I assume he’ll come around at some point; again, I’d take 6 innings of 4 run ball from him and call it a day, but right now, he can’t get out of the fifth inning.
  • It’s pretty wild that we still haven’t seen Freddy Garcia on the mound this season (except that one relief appearance) – If I were a betting man, I’d go all in on Garcia getting shelled his first time out.
  • Brett Gardner has yet to find his swing yet and I’m not liking his at bats at all. I was surprised Girardi didn’t go to the bench and bring in Andruw Jones in the 9th inning
  • I wish I could say I was shocked when Derek Jeter hit a ground ball to short stop last night in the 9th inning, but that’s his new favorite spot to ground out to dating back to last year. Before 2010, I think the negative broadcaster quote everyone loved to say was ‘Passed a diving Jeter!’ in reference to his limited range at short stop, but this year it’s definetly, “Jeter hits a ground ball to short.” You know, like last year.

The Yankees have the Texas Rangers coming in this weekend, minus Josh Hamilton. The Rangers have a ton of young starters this year, and if they aren’t left handed, I’m hoping the Yankees tee off on them… if they are left handed starting pitchers, be prepared for our beloved bombers to take a beating at the plate.

Red Sox Top Yankees For Their First Win Of The Year

The Yankees and Red Sox start their 2011 season rivalry with a bang, but before we get into that, it’s impossible to talk about yesterday’s game without mentioning the fact that the game started at 2 PM.  On a Friday.

I point this out because it’s very unusual.  I do understand that this was the Red Sox home opener, and home openers are always during the day, but you’ve got to assume that the Red Sox front office must have been angry that not only did their home opener got schedule against the Yankees, but on a Friday.  From a business perspective, this is totally infuriating for the Red Sox because a home opener is a guaranteed sell out for an awful team – I bet the Kansas City Royals sell out their home opener every year – and Yankees vs Red Sox games are a sell out anyway, so wasting one of these competitions on a home opener really stings, and then to schedule it on a Friday just ads insult to injury, because this is a day when people are more likely to head to the ballpark in the first place, which is why home openers are usually on a Wednesday or other day in the middle of the week – so the team can incise fans to their stadium on a day when they wouldn’t ordinarily go, not to mention the fact that it’s a Yankees vs Red Sox game, the most heated rivalry in the history professional sports, and some of us who are gainfully employed might actually want to watch this game!   What were they thinking?!?  So, to whoever did the schedule for MLB this year, YOU SUCK!

Sorry for the rant-styled run on sentence.  I must have been thinking about Dennis Miller’s old show on HBO or something.

Let’s move on to the game:

Phil Hughes didn’t rebound from his first start – in fact, he was much worse.  There’s not much to say; when you give up 6 runs in 2 IP, your team isn’t going to win the game.  Sometimes, a particular player will be singled out as to why a team lost a game and receive unfair criticism for a loss, but this time, Phil Hughes isn’t a scape goat – he’s the goat.

phil-hughes-new-york-yankees

The Red Sox and their fans know what I’m talking about.  John Lackey was awful again, and if you take a look at their April Schedule, most of their losses have been due to awful pitching.  The Yankees slapped Lackey around like one of those inflatable punching bags you had in your room as a kid – it didn’t get a lot of abuse, but every time you walked passed the thing, you’d give it a punch.  Thankfully, Bartolo Colon came into the game and restored some order by throwing the first scoreless half inning of the game.  Colon got right to work and struck out the first two batters he faced (J.D. Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and then put Jacoby Ellsbury down via contact.  All and all, Colon was pretty good and the Yankees have to be wondering maybe they want to invent an injury for Hughes, let him work out his troubles at Scranton and find out exactly what Colon has right now while it’s still early.

At some point, I’m going to have to write something significant in praise of Brett Gardner.  How does a guy with no power walk so much?  I don’t get why opposing pitchers are so careful with a guy who can’t do much damage – except when he gets on base, which is what you do by walking him, except you’ve wasted pitches.  If it was me, I’d just throw fastballs right down the middle and let the chips fall where they may; why waste the pitches?  What’s the worst that could happen, Gardner singles?  I’m certainly glad opposing managers don’t use this strategy, but I have no idea why they are so careful with him.  In their defense, Gardner did have two extra base hits yesterday, but on the other hand, Lacky stinks right now.

I don’t know why Terry Francona waited so long to go get Lackey; I heard they just brought fresh arms up to add to their bullpen, but finally, in the sixth inning, our old friend Alfredo Aceves made his Boston Red Sox debut and pitched a scoreless inning, and this was the beginning of the end for the Yankees.  Bobby Jenks gave the Yankees an opportunity with some walks in the 7th inning, but he slowly found himself and threw up a zero of his own.  I don’t understand how Jenks gets up every day, looks in the mirror and thinks to himself, “That’s fine,” because he is a ridiculous looking human being.

bobby jenks boston red sox

See what I mean?

 

Daniel Bard also took care of business; meanwhile, Boone Logan let up 2 runs and pitched poorly against lefties, making any come back in possible and giving the Red Sox bullpen, anchored by Jonathon Papelbon and his ridiculous mound expression some breathing room.  It wasn’t pretty, but the Red Sox finally got their fist win of the season.

jonathon papelbon boston red sox

Does he want us to put something in there? Is something going to come out? I don't know...

Now that the Red Sox have a win, it’s hard to say what it will take for them to get another one.  To win a game, they had to run into Phil Hughes, who has had two starts this year that defy explanation as decreased velocity and terrible location have coupled to make him, in a word, ineffective.  What happens when they face a pitcher who is league average or even above average?  Will they scorer?  Will their starters turn it around?  You would think the answer to both of those questions is yes, but who knows…  Maybe the left handed heavy line up is better at producing runs at home.

Today, we get a match up of Ivan Nova and Clay Buchholz.  Who’ll be the victor?  Honestly, with the way the Red Sox have played so far this year, I have no idea.  If the Red Sox are anything in the early goings, it’s unpredictable.  All we can do is sit back and watch.

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