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Joe Girardi: This is how your platoon splits work

I don’t get why Joe Girardi isn’t using his  platoon splits to their fullest advantage.  Sure, he pitch hit Casey McGehee for Eric Chavez last night, and that’s great, but there were so many other moves he could have made that would have given the Yankees a better chance to win yesterday’s game that it’s silly.  In case he left his match up binder in the Bronx, I thought I’d refresh Joe Girardi on the roles of his players as after last night, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know.

Cody Eppley
only faces right handed batters

Boone Logan
only faces left handed batters

Clay Rapada
only faces left handed batters

Raul Ibanez
only faces right handed pitchers

Andruw Jones
only faces left handed pitchers

You got that, Joe?  Stop screwing around and letting Boone Logan face right handed batters or letting Raul Ibanez face left handed pitchers when you’ve got players in your bullpen and on your bench who can help you out.

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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.

Let's not make the same mistakes to Hideki Matsui

The last time Hideki Matsui faced the Yankees, he supplied nearly all of the Oakland Athletics’ offense. He went 7 for 13 with two doubles and a home run in three games – wow. Since the All-Star break, Matsui has been a monster – his triple slash is 372/.424/.543 in 33 games! That’s crazy.

We also need to remind Joe Girardi not to bring in a lefty to face Matsui – sure, Boone Logan may need some reps, but against Godzilla is not the time to get them in. Matsui has always hit lefties well and as far as I can recall, he dominated Logan last time they faced each other.

So lets give Matsui a porno-sized welcome as he returns to The Bronx, but we don’t need to serve up any felafel balls to him.

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.

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.

Yankees vs Rangers ALCS game 2 review & 3 preview

I can’t talk about game 3 until I get game 2 out of my system. The idea that Joe Girardi started Phil Hughes in game 2 of the ALCS becaues he has a 15 1-3 scoreless innings in Arlington streak is ridiculous – he started him there because he decided he’d rather have Andy Pettitte go head to head with Cliff Lee instead of Hughes, and that makes sense – relying on a 15 1-3 scoreless innings streak in an away ballpark that dates back to way back in… uhm what year was that? 2007? – is insane. (Joe Torre was managing the team when Hughes was pitching a perfect game in Texas before he heard a pop in his hamstring that pretty much derailed the rest of his season.) So to all you folks who were pushing that angle as the storyline to this game, you’re idiots. Isn’t a playoff game enough of a storyline for you knuckleheads?

The Yankees lost game 2 because Hughes straight up stunk; he just didn’t give his team a chance to win by virtue of his nonexistent fastball command. And if somebody knows the reason why Jorge Posada would throw through to second base with a runner on third, I’d love to hear it.

Tonight, Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee will square off. I know everybody has written this game in the books already as a Rangers win (including me), but that’s a bit premature. Andy Pettitte is nearly unbeatable after Yankees loses and the game is at home, after all – and the Yankees have hit Cliff Lee before. But, if they do lose this game, I think the whole world expects CC Sabathia to start game 4 on short rest.

In fact, I feel good about this game tonight and I’m going to reverse myself – I say the Yankees take this one!

Oh How Sweep It Is!

That’s a delicious pun, right?  Pretty sure that being the guy that uses ‘Oh How Sweep It Is!’ as his title goes hand and hand with using ‘delicious’ as an adjective…

But to the games…  Thursday night’s ALDS game 2 was relatively stress free for Andy Pettitte and the Yankees against the Twins.  Sure, Pettitte had that one inning that he had the bases loaded, but he got through it while only allowing one run.  I admit, I was pretty concerned with what he’d come back with after that inning, but he was good to go.  The only thing that kept that game from turning into a laugher was the Yankees inability to drive up the score.  Still, a win is a win, and in the playoffs, all that matters is you win the game without any of your best players getting hurt.

Now Saturday night’s game turned into a laugher.  I had the most unusual experience watching the game…  I was on vacation at Disney World, and our hotel TV does not seem to have any of the Turner stations… well, we have CNN, but no TNT, and most unfortunately, TBS.

Fortunately, the 21st Century provides other options, so we fired up ye olde laptop and went to MLB.com and purchased that playoff.tv package that lets you choose from eight different camera angles and watch up to four at once.  I should point out that I have a half dozen years experience as a media services professional before I start complaining that I could barely get this shiz to work.  I tried Internet Explorer, I tried Firefox and that didn’t seem to be an issue.  I wasn’t using wifi, so  even tried a different Ethernet cable to the same shizzy results.  Finally, I reduced the video quality to its lowest level and restarted the machine a few times before I finally got the desired effect – that is, video playback with minimal skipping.

Watching a game from one angle is totally impossible because different camera operators are supposed to cover different things, so a minimum of two angles is required.  This doesn’t seem to help the processing side of things.  In any case, it worked and we were able to watch the game and listen to the TBS broadcasters (unlike that product they sell with game day, you can’t choose different audio options, which is weak), and that wasn’t always so great – they were getting bored as the game went on.

Phil Hughes dominance over 7 innings made life pretty sweet for Yankees fans and seemed to irritated the broadcasters as the Yankees offense ran up the score and Hughes shut out the Twins.  Kerry Wood got into some trouble in the 8th and a run scored, but Boone Logan and David Robertson nailed the 8th down and efforts against Mariano Rivera in the 9th were futile.

Between Phil Hughes and the home run Marcus Thames hit, the game felt over quickly.  That’s all there was to it.  The Twins can’t handle the Yankees and the next round is looming.  Who will it be?  Who would you want it to be?  Tough questions, and maybe tougher answers.  It’s going to be hard for the Rays to come back against the Rangers, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Yankees take game 1 of ALDS against Twins

CC Sabathia was not sharp at the beginning of the game, then he retired a zillion batters, and then in the 6th inning, things came unglued a bit. As the home team with a lead and your ace on the hill, Twins fans must have went to bed taring at their pillows, trying to figure out how Ron Gardenhire let victory slip away.

I think any Yankees fan could readily admit that Sabathia was showing some rust after getting extra rest at the end of the season. He hit a batter and struggled to locate all of his pitches, especially the fastball. Can you remember the last time you saw CC walk a runner with the bases loaded? I was surprised Joe Girardi stayed with him after that. Gardenhire had a similar situation and he let Francisco Liriano stay in as well – and it probably cost the Twins the game. Then again, as good as Liriano is, he’s not Sabathia, but then, few are.

Liriano had kind of a Pedro Martinez inning in the 6th: he was dominant the first five innings and he suddenly tired and gave it up. The first time through the order was about perfect besides that walk to Gardner, but the Yankees did better with each look they got off him, until they went boom for four runs in the 6th.

The Yankees bullpen was stellar. Boone Logan almost got out of the 7th, but that trickler just couldn’t be played. David Robertson played fireman and got out of the big situation after a walk (he seemed to be overthrowing a bit and lighting up the radar gun higher than usual), just like he always does. They ought to call that guy Fire Marshall Bill. Kerry Wood pitched pretty well, but with the hit and the walk on base, Girardi had to go to Mo. Even though all six umps convened in the bottom of the 9th about whether or not Greg Golson made the catch on the fly, they still got it wrong and Rivera had to contend with getting 5 outs instead of 4. Why they can’t put an umpire upstairs who can just call the crew chief on his cell phone and tell him they blew the call, I don’t know. It seems like the fastest solution. But Mo was up to the task, and that’s all for that game, folks.

Bad form by A-Rod for not covering 3rd base when Orlando Hudson advanced after Teixeira had to dive to tag fist base on the trickling hit he fielded. Maybe Hudson still would have been safe, but at least there would have been a play. With Rodriguez twiddling him thumbs, there was no chance at all.

I wore my Curtis Granderson t-shirt to work yesterday (the only thing awesome about my office is that there is no dress code), and I’m glad I did. He just missed a homer, but that triple off the wall was the hit of the game – although Mark Teixeira‘s home run was a close second.

What time did the game finally start, 8:45? By the ninth inning, I was totally exhausted. I know that MLB doesn’t want to compete with college and NFL football, but for cryin’ out loud! If there are going to be three games in one day, they’re going to have to do it on a weekend. I would have watched the Rays vs Rangers game, but I couldn’t – because it started at 130 in the damn afternoon! Who the hell got to watch that game, anyway? Richies, retiries, college kids, the unemployed… It’s also a shame that the only playoff series that’s going to be on broadcast television is the NLCS and the World Series. How did MLB let this happen? Oh well – at least I won’t have to endure game recaps intercut with whatever movie FOX has coming out this winter.

Congrats to Roy Halladay on his no hitter. That guy deserves a big win like that after suffering with the Blue Jays for all those years, even if it was against the Reds. ‘Doctober,’ however, is the worst thing I’ve ever heard – well, maybe ‘Roctober’ is just as bad. The Rays might get away with losing the first game of a short series at home, but against a team as good as the Yankees, the Twins won’t be so lucky.

Projecting Yankees 25 Man Playoff Roster

Now that the Yankees have clinched a playoff berth, I can have some fun and speculate on the Yankees 25 man playoff roster and talk about how I would use them if I were managing the Yankees.

Round 1 – best of 5 against the Minnesota Twins. I don’t feel the Yankees need to use 4 starting pitchers in this series, so I left AJ Burnett off the roster. For the best of 7 rounds, I dropped a backup outfielder (this could also be a relief pitcher in that 25th spot) and put Burnett back on there.

  1. CC Sabathia

    • game 1 starter
  2. Andy Pettitte
    • game 2 starter
  3. Phil Hughes
    • game 3 starter (AJ Burnett isn’t really giving me a choice here)
  4. Mariano Rivera
    • closer.  Mo saves: for he is the power, the kingdom, and the glory, forever and ever…
  5. Kerry Wood
    • primary setup man
  6. Joba Chamberlain
    • RH RP – comes into the game at the beginning of innings (preferably)
  7. David Robertson
    • RH RP – the fireman, comes into tough situations in the middle of innings to deliver us from evil with Ks
  8. Boone Logan
    • LH RP – primary lefty out of the pen to get the big bat out in the biggest match up situation
  9. Royce Ring
    • LH RP – extra match up lefty, used early in the game – especially useful against all those Twins left handed bats; if the Yankees don’t get the Twins at some point, maybe you fill this spot with another backup outfielder
  10. Sergio Mitre
    • emergency long man; Mitre has decent numbers out of the pen this year.  Javier Vazquez’s sample size for relief outings is too small and Chad Gaudin’s numbers stink.
  11. Jorge Posada
    • starting catcher
  12. Mark Teixeira
    • starting 1B
  13. Robinson Cano
    • starting 2B
  14. Derek Jeter
    • starting SS
  15. Alex Rodriguez
    • starting 3B
  16. Brett Gardner
    • starting LF
  17. Curtis Granderson
    • starting CF
  18. Nick Swisher
    • starting RF
  19. Austin Kearns
    • 4th outfielder
  20. Ramiro Pena
    • pinch runner/backup infielder for every position but 1B, unless absolutely necessary; haven’t seen him play there
  21. Francisco Cervelli
    • backup catcher, not an awful option for punch runner, but then we’re out of catchers, so only in a game ending situation
  22. Lance Berkman
    • DH/PH against right RHP, backup 1B
  23. Marcus Thames
    • DH/PH against LHP, emergency outfielder
  24. Eduardo Nunez
    • pinch runner, emergency middle infielder.  I went with Nunez over Juan Miranda because with Berkman and Thames, I feel like the Yankees bench has enough bats, and I don’t have a ton of faith in Miranda’s bat, anyway.  Besides, Nunez can play more than one position and has speed, which I’d like to have off the bench, say in the 8th inning after Posada walks…
  25. ALDC:  Colin Curtis/Greg Golson/Kevin Russo //  ALCS/WS:  A.J. Burnett, 4 starter
    • I haven’t seen enough of these guys to decide who’d be the most valuable as a pinch runner and/or as a backup outfielder; in fact, I considered putting a reliever in this spot, but who?  I like Ivan Nova a lot, but let’s face it, he’s a kid and has hardly an MLB experience
    • I know, I know – nobody wants to see Burnett in the playoffs.  Sorry, folks – you’re going to have to get over that.  If the Yankees make it passed the first round, Burnett is going to start.  Experience counts in the playoffs, and really, when it’s all on the line, who would you rather have out there?  Vazquez?  Gaudin?  Nova?  Mitre?  In your heart of hearts, you know Burnett and his 95 MPH fastball and nasty curve ball are the way to go.  All starters will be on a short leash, anyway, so at the first sign of trouble, Joe Girardi will more than likely go get him anyway – or anyone else

That’s the way I see it. I know some folks want to give Nova a chance, but I think that’s asking too much, too soon of an inexperienced kid. It’d be a bold move, and I don’t see someone as calculating as Girardi doing it. Joe Torre wouldn’t even consider it; he loves his veterans.

Wild Card or AL East Division winners, it’s all the same. The Yankees are in the dance, so they’ve got a chance. This is what we wait all year for, and we’ve had the opportunity to watch October baseball for 15 out the last 16 years, and it never gets old. No matter what happens, this has been a great year. Let’s see if they can go all the way and get number 28! I’m predicting a rematch of last year’s World Series and despite Philly looking a little better than last year (although I don’t know who they have in their bullpen), I’m also predicting the same outcome.

LET’S GO YANKEES!

NOTE:
Nice job by David Price for calling out his fan base – it might not have been the best business decision for the Rays organization, but they have a good team and it deserves it’s fan’s support. If they can’t get it, they should move – I’m sure Las Vegas would welcome them with open arms.
An even better job by the Rays for giving away thousands of free tickets in the wake of Price-Gate. Maybe they can win the fans over yet

Check out my post at The Fowl Balls on Mariano Rivera’s tough outings in September.

Yankees magic number down to 1

I took a few days off from blogging and I’ve returned to find things pretty much where I left them. The Yankees are a half game behind the Rays and still haven’t clinched a playoff spot. Still, the Yankees have reduced their magic number down to 1 – that is, 1 Yankees win or 1 Red Sox loss, whichever comes first. While the Yankees will get into the playoffs easily, winning the east is going to be tough: they’re facing the Yankee killing Toronto Blue Jays and then going into the hostile Fenway Park environment for another series with the Red Sox. Combine that with Rays schedule, and I just don’t see the Yankees winning the east. Sure, I don’t expect the Baltimore Orioles to lay down for the Rays, but Tampa has four games left with the Kansas City Royals. Nuff said.

So let’s see, what did I miss? Thursday night, CC Sabathia got a butt kicking from the Rays. Friday night, Andy Pettitte got a butt kicking from the Red Sox. Ivan Nova on the FOX Saturday Baseball Game of Death? Butt kicking by the Red Sox. Detecting a theme here? The starting pitching has been dreadful of late. Hence, Joe Girardi went with Phil Hughes last night rather than Dustin Mosely. Hughes pitched well: 6 IP, 1 ER, 3 hits, 4 ks, 4 BB. Girardi sent him out there for the 7th inning, which I thought was a strange move: I can’t remember the last time Hughes pitched 7 innings (that’s because he hasn’t done it since July) and every time he goes out there in the 7th, he always seems to leave a runner out there.

Enter the bullpen: David Robertson, the man the kids call D-Rob, came out and picked up the pieces in spectacular fashion and finished out the 7th. Kerry Wood got two outs in the 8th, and then Girardi wen to Mariano Rivera to get the last out. Strange; he had Wood walk David Ortiz instead of bringing in Boone Logan. Mo got it done against Adrian Beltre, and I’m sure Mo was feeling strong since he hasn’t pitched since Monday, but it seemed like a risky gambit, especially given the lefty v lefty opportunity that Girardi passed by, which I guess was his way of saying that he doesn’t trust Logan in that situation…

So Mo blows it in the top of the 9th. It’s another ugly one as Mo’s September of Horrors continues. The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the 9th against Jonathan Papelbon but don’t win it, despite having the bases loaded.

The Yankees sent out Joba Chamberlain to keep the tie in tact and wouldn’t you know it, Girardi wen tot Logan to get Ortiz after all, which he did. So it’s fair to say that Girardi puzzled me in this game – but not as much as Terry Francona did in the bottom of the 10th. Francona brings in Hideki Okajima to face the lefties Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner, despite the fact that Granderson already homered off Okajima in the series, but Fancona is managing by the book – fine. Then Okajima fails to retire either batter, and he sticks with him, much to my delight. He’s still got Daniel Bard down there – he said so during his stupid mid game ESPN interview. There is no tomorrow – losing this game pretty much ends the season for the Red Sox because the loss put them in the situation I described at the opening of this piece… what the hell was Francona thinking? I’m sure he had to answer this quesiton after the game, but I didn’t hear what he said – I went to bed. Note to ESPN: starting a game at 8 PM EST is TOO LATE. In the most anti-climatic win ever, Okajima walked in Juan Miranda for the Yankee win. Yep – Okajima saw three more batters after that.

Sorry I didn’t talk about Matsuzaka – he was awesome last night.

So that’s pretty much that. The Yankees can still win the east, but the Red Sox are done – unless the Yankees lose all six of their remaining games and the Red Sox win all six.

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