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Yankees head for the golf course

Today, I received the ‘Vote Yankees for the 2010 This Year in Baseball Awards’ email from MLB.com. Are they kidding? Sorry if I’m not in the mood to vote for anything for the Yankees right now.

Not after Friday night. I’m still a bit confused why Joe Girardi elected to flip flop Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte in the starting rotation. Sure, Hughes had better road numbers than home numbers in 2010, but I’d think you’d want the better pitcher – this case, Pettitte – to pitch before Hughes. At least that’s how I’d do it.

The Yankees tied the game at 1 in the top of the fourth and Texas immediately answered: Hughes pitched OK through the first four inngs, but when the tough got going (and by tough, I mean the Rangers), Hughes got shipped to the clubhouse for David Robertson, who promptly stunk up the place as bad as Hughes had or worse. After putting up a 4 spot, the game was over, and so was the Yankees season. Everybody knew it. You could smell it, feel it in the air - the air had gone out of the balloon. The Rangers didn’t pop champagne in the top of the sixth, but they may as well have. The Yankees only had 3 damn hits and scored their only run on a wild pitch. Like the rest of the series, the Yankees sucked in game 6. They lost to Cloby Lewis twice, for cryin’ out loud!

But don’t fret: this isn’t the end of BomberBanter.com until next spring, it’s just the last post of the 2010 Season. I still have a ton to do around here:

Not to mention blog the off season – after the World Series ends, the hunt for Cliff Lee begins!

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Yankees win first eliminatin game

Today was kill or be killed – and the Yankees responded.

CC Sabathia didn’t have his best stuff, giving up 11 hits but no walks and 7 Ks in 6 IP.  Kerry Wood did a great job with 2 scoreless innings and 3 Ks and no walks.  Even though the Yankees were holding a 7-2 lead, Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth – again, it’s an elimination game, and the rest of the bullpen has really faltered of late.

Finally, finally, finally the Yankees have responded with runners in scoring position, even if they were 2-11 and left 7 on base.  The Yankees collected 6 walks, which enabled them to score 7 runs on 9 hits, while Texas suffered 2 runs on 13 hits.  Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano hit back to back jacks and Curtis Granderson gave that extra run in the 8th with a solo homer of his own, so that’s getting it down with the power.

Friday’s elimination game 2 is a rematch of Phil Hughes and Colby Lewis.  Hughes can’t possibly pitch as bad as he did last time – right?

Rangers take series lead

Nothing went the Yankees way last night.

Brett Gardner beat Cliff Lee to 1st base and missed the bag during his head first slide by maybe an inch. Derek Jeter’s first inning home run bid fell just short. Cliff Lee was dominant all night long. When Gardner lead off with a single, the Yankees couldn’t get him around. The Yankees bullpen, which was dominant in games 1 and 2, was beat last night – every ground ball found a hole.

There’s not much else to say about game 3 – Cliff Lee had what, 12 Ks last night? That’s dominant. The Yankees just couldn’t hit him, and they worked his pitch count pretty well, too, and he still wouldn’t relent. Besides the first inning, Andy Pettitte pitched well, but it was all for nothing. It’s hard to complain much about the bullpen when the offense gets shut out.

All things considered, the Yankees should be happy they’re down by only one game, considering how the Texas Rangers have outplayed them in all three games. As far as I can tell, the Yankees are still going with AJ Burnett in Game 4, which I think is a mistake of disastrous proportions.

Joe Girardi is open to second guessing for flip-flopping Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes in the rotation – I think he liked the Pettitte vs Lee match up (I did too), but given that Lee pitched exactly how he was expected, and so did Pettitte, it seems like they would have been better off with Pettitte in game 2 and Phil Hughes in game 3. Pettitte isn’t the sort of pitcher who implodes in big games and neither is Lee, so you figure maybe starting Pettitte in game 2 gave you a better chance to win a game you had any chance of winning in the first place.

Also, Game 5 starts Wednesday at 4 PM. Way to go, MLB – I don’t have anything to do on Wednesday, anyway… oh wait, I have to work, like everybody else.

Well, I guess they’re really going to send AJ Burnett to the mound tonight. I still think they’re nuts, or the Yankees think they’re that much better than the Rangers. When they play like it, I’ll believe it.

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!

Yankees comeback against Rangers seals the deal

brett gardner alcs

the beginning of the end

If you read my ALCS picks, you’ll see I had the Yankees winning in 6 games, but I’m probably wrong, and Michael Kay is probably right – Yankees in 5 games.  But after last night’s late inning collapse by the Rangers, it’s almost difficult to expect them to win any games at all. 

I mean, what else do the Rangers need to go right for them to win a ball game?  CC Sabathia was terrible (again), CJ Wilson pitched a great game and they had a 4 run lead to start the eight inning.  Then it all came undone, starting with an infield single by Brett Gardner, during which he slide into first base.  I still have no idea why guys do this – again, to invoke Michael Kay, if sliding was faster, then Olympic sprinters would slide over the finish line, right?  I guess it did make him more difficult for C.J. Wilson to tag, and it turned out to be the start to a great rally for the Yankees.

Following Wilson was a parade of relief pitchers who just couldn’t get anybody out.  This isn’t all that shocking to me – although the Rangers have a zillion relievers that throw 95 MPH, none of them seem to be that great.  Darren Oliver, Darren O’Day, Clay Rapada and Derek Holland all combined to stink up the joint - not that they got clobbered, but the Rangers needed these guys to come in and restore order against the Yankees best hitters, and the blew it in spectacular fashion, with walks and singles for anybody who wanted one. Holland was able to stay on after he gave up a run and he did keep Robinson Cano from scoring, but that’s all the praise one can heep on him.

And speaking of Robinson Cano, I think he gets our ‘keep hope alive’ award for the lazer beam home run off Wilson in the 7th, which was the first home run Wilson has allowed to a left handed batter since June of 2008!  That’s some streak, and a fantastic way to end it.  Derek Jeter doubled Gardner in, then Swisher walked, Alex Rodriguez singled in a pair, then it was Cano time again for another RBI and Marcus Thames singled in the winning run.

But without Joba Chamberlain and especially Dustin Moseley giving the Yankees a chance after Sabathia’s bad start, this never would have happened.  The bone head award of the day goes to Ian Kinsler for getting picked off by Kerry Wood after he walked him on 4 pitches.  He didn’t even move as Wood fired the ball to Mark Teixeira, he didn’t even try to dive back to first, he just conceded to a run down.  Was Wood’s move that good?  It sure was fast, but Kinsler can’t allow himself to be put in that situation.  Suddenly, Wood had things going his way after a tough start.  The Rangers might have thought they had a chance against Mariano Rivera since they got to him in August, but honestly, that was Mo being crappy, not the Rangers being great.  Mo got it done, and there it is – an improbable Yankees win.  But that’s what great teams do – beat inferior teams.

Quick ALCS Picks

yankeesGame 1:  CC Sabathia vs CJ Wilson

Shock of shocks,  I like the Yankees in this one because I believe  the odds are in their favor:

  1. the Yankees are 2-0 on the road so far this post season
  2. the Rangers are 0-2 at home so far this post season
  3. CC Sabathia pitched poorly in his first outing and it’s unlikely he’ll pitch poorly again
  4. C.J. Wilson is good, but he’s not Cliff Lee

yankeesGame 2:  Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Again, I like the Yankees in this one because I believe  the odds are still in their favor:

  1. the Yankees are 2-0 on the road so far this post season
  2. the Rangers are 0-2 at home so far this post season
  3. Phil Hughes pitched well in the ALDS against the Twins, and I don’t think the Rangers offense is that much better than the Twins
  4. Colby Lewis‘ first name is Colby.  Seriously?  I assume he spends a lot of time shopping at the Gap during the off season with Jacoby Ellsbery

rangersGame 3:  Andy Pettitte vs Cliff Lee

Ah, the plot thickens, as the kids like to say.  Given Cliff Lee‘s dominance against the Yankees this season (and against everyone else – ask Tampa Bay), it’s hard to expect the Yankees to suddenly give him a beating.  But Andy Pettitte could toss a gem… and still lose.  It’s a tough one.  I think the Rangers win this one.

rangersGame 4:  AJ Burnett vs the World

OK, maybe it’s not that bad, but I can’t expect the Yankees to play with any confidence behind A.J. Burnett, but AJ could surprise us and not get annihilated, but I’ll believe that when I see it.  The Rangers take this one, too.

Suddenly it’s tied at 2 games a each.  How’d that happen?

yankees

Game 5:  CC Sabathia vs CJ Wilson

CC pitches his humongous butt off – Yankees win.

colby lewisGame 6:  Phil Hughes vs Colby Lewis

Phil Hughes knocks Colby’s monocle off – the Yankees win.

Yep, Yankees in 6, folks. You heard it here… probably not first.  Also, if the Yankees are trailing in the series after the first 3 games, the entire world expects the Yankees to go to Sabathia on short rest – and I’m sure they’ll keep going that way until they win, which will screw them up in the World Series against the Phillies (yeah, the Phillies are winning the NLCS; seems pretty obvious when their opponent couldn’t a run to save their lives), but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

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.

MLB 2010 Playoff Preview and Predictions

Today, the battle begins! Every game is a must win from here on out. The powerful will emerge victorious, while everyone else will get a seat on the long, shameful plane ride home. Unless you get eliminated at home. In that case, you just clear our your locker and bounce.

YANKEES AT TWINS
Obviously, I’m picking the Yankees to win – in four games. Between the Yankees throwing a three man rotation, two of which will be lefties, I think the Bombers can hold the Twins off the scoreboard. Between that and the absence of a big bat like Morneau, I like the Yankees chances here. I’d also love it if they put a whipping on Carl Pavano in game 2.

RANGERS AT RAYS
I have to go with the Rays in this one – again, in four games. (It’s pretty hard to sweep someone, never mind in a playoff series) I know the Rangers have Cliff Lee and a pen that includes only guys who throw one hundred miles an hour, but the Rangers just haven’t impressed me this year. Even the tight games they played with the Yankees, and the games they won against my boys, didn’t especially impress me. I feel like all those bullpen guys throw pretty straight fastballs, which might be their problem. Or mine.

REDS AT PHILLIES
Phillies in three – I know the Reds have some guy that throws 105 MPH, but the Phillies have a starting rotation that is going to be hard to score on, and the Phillies have serious bats, AL style.

BRAVES AT GIANTS
I think the Braves will steal one, but I have to go with the Giants starting pitching with the home field advantage – this series of the three probably features the biggest home field advantage of any series.

ROUND 2 PREDICTIONS:

YANKEES AT RAYS
I have to pick the Yankees in 6 here – if the Yankees control Evan Longoria, the rest won’t matter as the Rays won’t score – they’re the better team with the better bullpen.

GIANTS AT PHILLIES
Away from their home ballpark, I don’t see the Giants getting it done, and they can’t score runs anywhere. Phillies in five.

WORLD SERIES PREDICTION:

YANKEES AT PHILLIES
That’s right, I’m going repeat, with the same outcome. Yankees in six. Although the Phillies starting pitchers are probably better than the Yankees, the Yankees bullpen is much better than the Phillies, and Joe Girardi isn’t going to let any of his starters get hammered The Yankees have the best lineup in baseball, and their defense is also not to be trifled with.

I think it’s that simple, folks. The Twins are a man down. The Rays can’t score if you control Longoria. The Giants just can’t score. The Rangers are good, but flawed. The Phillies are good, but the Yankees are better.

Battle for 1st in the AL East – Place your bets!

With 3 games to go on consecutive days, our own New York Yankees are battling it out with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East. Too bad they aren’t playing each other.

Both teams have identical records of 94-65. After lackluster Septembers, before which everyone thought both teams could win 100 games, the Yankees and Rays have faltered a bit. The Rays have an ace in the hole; they won the season series with the Yankees, meaning that if they’re still tied after the conclusion of play on Sunday, the Rays will be awarded first place.

I’m not a gambling man, but if I were, my money would be on the Rays.

Yeah, I’m making myself ill, fake betting against the Yankees. However, the facts are simple: the Rays are playing the Kansas City Royals this weekend, while the Yankees get to deal with the Boston Red Sox – not exactly equivalent opponents. However, I do seem to remember the Royals playing the Detroit Tigers in a winner take all series (for the Tigers, not the Royals), and the Tigers blew it. Whether or not this was due to the Royals aptitude for playing spoiler or the Tigers incompetence, I’m not sure, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Both teams will be lining up their rotations for the playoffs, so it’s not like either team will be bringing it’s ace for a start to win the division, and ailing players or guys who need a rest will probably get one given that both teams have clinched a playoff berth already. How it will all turn out in the end is anybody’s guess, but I’d say the smart money is on Tampa Bay winning the AL East.

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.

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