Monthly Archives: August 2010

Bats, Vazquez save the day for Yankees

It’s good to have 3 long men in the pen. Last night, it was Javier Vazquez’s turn.

Dustin Moseley made his 7th start of the year for the Yankees against a less than formidable Oakland Athletics offense, and it was not a good one. As ye olde game log reveals, there is just no figuring out Moseley. Last night, he couldn’t get out of the 5th inning as he walked 4 and allowed 5 hits in 4.1 IP. Yet last time out in Toronto against the home run happy Blue Jays, Moseley held them down to 2 ER in 6 IP. He still walked 4 in that appearance, so it doesn’t seem like his control was that much better in Canada, and the Athletics aren’t exactly setting the world on fire with their 528 runs scored on the year. I guess Moseley just didn’t have it last night.

After the As put up a 3 spot in the top of the 1st, the outlook was a bit bleak, but the Yankees don’t play that. No sir. The Yankees responded with 3 runs of their own and Trevor Cahill, the As young ace, looked like he was on his way to getting his butt kicked by the Yankees again, and sure enough, his final line of 4 IP and 8 ER is indeed a foot landed squarely on his backside.

That, and Javier Vazquez’s 4.2 IP, 1 ER outing, was pretty much the game. Vazquez has gone to the pen and found something for the second time this year; whether its rest or not, I can’t say, but it seems like the velocity is up and he’s hitting his spots. What this means for his playoff options on this team, I have no idea.

The big bats were out last night: homers by Teixeira, Cano, and of course, Marcus Thames, of yesterday’s posting fame. Derek Jeter, on the other hand, put up an 0-4 and saw his average dip below .270, but didn’t take his troubles with him out into the field as he made several jump-spin-throw plays that kept the As in check. Its strange to see a guy have such a great night in the field while not getting it done at the plate. Jeter even through up an unsuccessful bunt in an effort to get himself started. Maybe he likes hitting in day games; I hope so, because the Yankees have 5 in a row coming up starting Thursday. Meanwhile, Nick Swisher put up 2 doubles for 3 big RBIs.

The Yankees are still tied with the Rays for 1st place, which is a record of some kind that doesn’t interest me at all. In any case, the Yankees have continued to win without A-Rod and Andy Pettitte – I doubt most teams could solider on the way the Yankees have without their cleanup hitter and number 2 starter, but the Yankees are just that good. Suck on that, Tampa.

Marcus Thames goes deep and other stories from Chicago

Before I say anything about the Yankees series win, I think we should all take a time out to praise the offense of Marcus Thames. Thames hit 3 home runs over the weekend in Chicago and 5 in the last week. Game Log. The second home run hasn’t landed yet. "Anything that travels that far ought to have a stewardess on it." Indeed it should, sir. Thames is doing a great job making up for A-Rod and Teixeira.

Ozzie Guillen set a new record for fastest ejection from a game; he came out to contest a call, walked half way to 1st, threw up his hands in disgust and turned around and started walking back toward the dugout. Guillen was promptly thrown out of the game before he said a word. Not sure why he felt the need to non-verbally show up the umpires, but it got him tossed, which I assume was the desired effect in an effort to pump up his team, down by 1 run at home. As we know, it didn’t work.

How do you solve a problem like AJ Burnett? Despite all of Dave Eiland’s pitching coaching success stories this year, he just can’t get Burnett straightened out. The Yankees will keep running him out there; what else can they do? Burnett makes a fortune. If he still stinks in the playoffs, Girardi will keep him on a short leash. Maybe they can skip him a start when Pettitte returns, see if that helps. They’ve tried just about everything else. I’m remembering a game in the playoffs from a few years ago when the starter got knocked out early and Aaron Small came out of the bullpen and the team suddenly started to play much better… I’m feeling a situation like that coming soon.

CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova righted the ship – OK, CC wasn’t great, but then, he didn’t get hammered as bad as the White Sox staff did. STAFF, as in, everyone who pitched for Chicago that day, as I recall. Nova didn’t get out of the 6th inning, but he only let up one run and got his first MLB win, an achievement for anyone.

The Yankees are starting their constantly mentioned by YES longest home stand of the year – I’m hoping to go to the day game on Thursday and take some photos to post in this space.

Playing deep center field at Yankee Stadium

I know this isn’t exactly new, but it’s still pretty funny, and given that yesterday was a sorely needed off day for the Yankees after 20 games in a row, let’s all relax and watch some guy make a fool of himself.

The Yankees start a 3 game series with the Chicago White Sox tonight, but all eyes should really be on Tampa Bay as the Rays take on the Boston Red Sox. Nothing short of a sweep will keep the Red Sox 2010 playoff hopes alive… so, uhm… go Rays, I guess? This is a tough one. I don’t like the Red Sox and admire the Rays, and if the Red Sox are out of it, then the Yankees have less meaningful games for the rest of the year – not that the Red Sox ever lay down for the Yankees, although the Bombers have handled the Sux this year. Eh. We’ll know on Monday, one way or the other.

Why can't the Yankees beat Toronto?

I missed most of last night’s game; I watched an inning plus on YES and listened to an inning or so on 880 AM, so I don’t have much information about what went wrong last night. But what I do know is that the Yankees just can’t seem to beat Toronto this year. Gameday.

Was Jose Bautista really safe at 2nd in the bottom of the fourth? That’s the play that knocked Phil Hughes out of the game, but then, Vernon Wells was going to be his last batter anyway – the pitch count was way up. If you judge by the fact that the Blue Jays mascot was wearing an umpires uniform, I guess I’m not the only one who thought the umpires were terrible in this series.

Javier Vazquez line of 4.1 IP and 1 ER is very encouraging, especially considering he escaped a bases loaded game when he entered the game.

I also don’t understand why the Blue Jays are not a contender this year. Their starting pitching, bullpen and offense are all great. I have heard they rely on the home run a bit too much, but not form this Yankee fan’s perspective. I guess the Yankees can’t beat Toronto because they’re pretty awesome.

Roger Clemens bores me

roger clemensAs a Yankee fan, can you think of a subject that interests you less than Roger Clemens?  Nothing springs to mind.  During his stint from 1999 to 2003, he did a lot of good things on the mound for the Yankees (and at least one bad one) and after he fake retired…  I didn’t think much about him after that.  Then during his World Series with appearance with the Astros, I actively routed against him.  When I think back on the whole Roger Clemens experience, it ended (for me) the way it began:  I didn’t want him.  I didn’t care if he was coming from the Blue Jays; he was a Red Sox.  Sock.  Whatever.  For like 12 seasons.  I was wrong about that, because the Yankees won 2 world series with Clemens and went to two others, but I still didn’t want him back in ’99, and I never warmed up to him.  But it was fun to watch him pitch when he was on his game:  Clemens would get ahead in the count and then out would come the splitter, and it felt like it was strike three every time.  He had good numbers in 2003, but if he wanted to go out on top with his body still relatively in tact, that was his business.  When the Yankees needed a starter in 2007, Clemens answered the call and managed to go 6-6 in 99 IP to a 4.18 ERA – not exactly an ace, but more than serviceable.  Maybe not for the obscene amount of money he made, but whatever.

I don’t care about steroids, and I certainly don’t care about Clemens being indited for lying to Congress.  If he did lie to Congress, he’s nuts.  I’d assume someone advised him that there was no proof and if he was indited, he’d get off, so, as Dave Chappelle recommends, stick with your lie.

But I just don’t care.  Does anybody?  I think we’re all pretty burned out on the steroid issue and that dog and pony show Congressional Hearings was an embarrassment to the United States of America, because any governing body that takes time out of their day to work on something like that in the times we live in…  I still can’t believe that really happened.  Think about that.  Roger Clemens testified before Congress.  How bizarre is that?

If Clemens is found guilty, super – they can lock him up and throw away the key for all I care.  If he’s found innocent, great – he should write a book.  Maybe call it, “No, seriously, I never did steroids,” or “I’d like to tell you,” or “That’s a B12 shot, right?”  I know that reporters, like me, have a job to do and a boss to answer to, but please find something else to write about.  You’re boring me to death.

Bronx Bombers go BOOM

After a dismal loss the night before, the Yankees opened up a can of home run all over the Blue Jays to the tune of 5 bombs, including 3 homers in the 3rd inning by Mark Teixeira, Marcus Thames and Jorge Posada. Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter were at the party later, delivering some homers of their own. So that’s 5 homers for… 8 runs? I lost count. The Yankees left 9 runners on base and plated 11. Coincidentally, the Blue Jays also left 9 men on base. Box Score.

Dustin Mosely kept the home run happy Blue Jays in check to the tune of 6 IP, 2 ER, 5 hits and 4 walks, the latter of which he is lucky didn’t come around to hurt him. Mosely hasn’t been setting the world on fire, but he’s been more than serviceable as a bottom of the rotation starter, and between himself and Ivan Nova, some valid competition has begun in the Yankees rotation. Javier Vazquez will go to his bullpen after a dismal string of recent starts and he’ll have to fight his way out, like he did earlier in the year, if he wants back in the regular rotation, but I don’t see a spot for him on the post season roster right now.

Wrapping things up: the Rays won last night, so the are still tied with the Yankees for first place with a big series this weekend against the Red Sox, who are 6 games back. I still think Johnny Damon will end up with the Tampa Bay Rays, but we’ll have to wait and see. Like the Red Sox staying relevant, time is running out for wavier wire deals.

Shout out to Ivan Nova

Wanted to drop a quick shout out to Ivan Nova, who pitched well against the Toronto Blue Jays, despite the Yankees loss. Nova got lifted early, probably because he seemed a little shook up after the bench clearing yelling match. This was Nova’s first start (3rd appearance) of what very well may be a promising MLB career. I hope Nova gets a few more starts this year. Cheers to the Toronto Blue Jays fans, who continue to support their team despite their dismal record. They have a good team, but they aren’t getting it done in the standings.

Johnny Damon heading back to Red Sox

It sounds like the Red Sox have claimed Johnny Damon off waivers from the Detroit Tigers. I guess the Red Sox don’t agree with me about their fate being sealed. The Red Sox have 6 games left with the Tampa Bay Rays and 3 left with the Yankees, and since they haven’t gained a game in… I don’t know, a month? I don’t see the Red Sox getting their act together and coming back into the race. If they sweep the Rays this weekend, they have a fighting chance. If they lose the series, I don’t see any chance for them.

You have to wonder if this makes Damon regret any recent comments about New York being the best place he ever played… Guess we’ll have to wait to see how that unfolds. In any case, the Red Sox incredible rash of injuries necessitated this move (if you believe they still have a chance, that is – again, I do not), but I don’t think it’s enough to make up for missing huge stars like Kevin Youkilis, former MVP Dustin Pedroia and even Jacoby Ellsbury and team captain Jason Varitek.

Some might argue that October in the 21st Century just isn’t the same without the Red Sox. I, for one, will manage to live through the experience.

UPDATED:  My understanding is that Johnny Damon has to agree to go back to Boston, and I don’t see any reason for him to do so – especially since I’m Tampa Bay would LOVE to have him be a Ray.  It’s the best thing for Damon; pretty sure he has a house there.

Yankees take 2 of 3 from Mariners

Some quick thoughts on the Yankees winning the series against the Mariners and other points:

FRIDAY – AJ Burnett was as awful as the Yankees offense. However, the offense was facing King Felix Hernandez; Burnett wasn’t exactly pitching against an All Star team. Or a playoff team. Or a team with a .500 record.

SATURDAY – Javier Vazquez didn’t have it again, and he all owed a home run into the upper deck, the first homer to be hit up there. Ah, Home Run Javy: if anyone could do it, he could. The bullpen and the offense weren’t taking it lying down and the Yankees recovered after an embarrassing loss the night before, which was good to see. It felt like the Yankees were getting their asses kicked, but it was actually tied at 4 before the Bronx Bombers took the lead for good.

SUNDAY – With rain looming, CC Sabathia put together a great start chuck fulla Ks. The offense was also out and about: the Mariners decided that with runners on 2nd and 3rd, they’d walk Mark Teixeira and load the bases. With a lefty on the mound and Robinson Cano coming up, who was 0-2 and 1 out on the board, I still questioned the logic; Cano had been K’d once already, but he’d also seen the pitcher twice before on that day, gotten a good look at his stuff, which was diminishing. Cano immediately rewarded my faith with a first pitch fastball grand slam. If the game wasn’t already out of reach, that killed it for the Mariners and gave the Yankees the series win – and the season series win.

Burnett is, by far, the biggest concern on this Yankee team. It’s clear that the Yankees are going to get into the playoffs one way or another, despite their injuries. I still believe Andy Pettitte is going to come back from his injury and pitch effectively, if not at the insane level he was at before the injury. Phil Hughes is good enough to be the fourth starter, which I believe won’t come into play until the ALCS. Javier Vazquez is hurt or exhausted or finished; I’m not sure which, and it doesn’t really matter, because I can’t see him starting for the Yankees in the playoffs this year. I still think bringing in Vazquez was a worthwhile risk, but it just hasn’t worked out.

Back to Burnett: check out his game log. April was good, May was ok, June was horrible, July was great and August has been bad. You just don’t know what you’re going to get out of this guy. I know I should be more concerned with Pettitte, who isn’t even on the mound right now, but Burnett is so hit and miss that its hard to trust him. In the 2009 playoffs, he lost one of the biggest games of the year – and also won one of the biggest games of the year. I don’t know what to think about Burnett, and that tells me that he can’t be counted on, which scares me in October..

The Yankees finally put A-Rod on the DL. They probably should have done this two weeks ago, but whatever. Cano is a more than capable clean up hitter, and the Yankees will manage for the 15 days. Besides, the Yankees are undefeated in games that A-Rod has missed this year, and he probably wasn’t going to play until around August 27 anyway.

The Yankees are going to Toronto to face the Blue Jays, and Ian Nova will get his first start, which should give the other guys an extra day of rest. No idea if this will help Vazquez and Burnett, but it couldn’t hurt. Nova has appeared out of the bullpen this year for the Yankees, and his starting numbers at AAA are pretty good – a sub 3.00 ERA.

9 spot

The baseball gods giveth, yet they are cruel; why else would they let the Yankees score 9 runs in 1 inning, when no one could see it? Sure, there’s always Yankees Encore, but its just not the same. In any case, feel the power of the 6th inning:

– R. Cano doubled to left center, M. Teixeira scored
– J. Posada singled to shallow right center, R. Cano scored, N. Swisher to third
– A. Kearns doubled to deep center, N. Swisher and J. Posada scored, C. Granderson to third
– B. Gardner walked, C. Granderson scored, A. Kearns to third on passed ball
– D. Jeter tripled to deep center, A. Kearns and B. Gardner scored
– R. Cano homered to deep center, D. Jeter scored

What a woeful day for… well, everyone the Tigers used in that inning. On the other hand, Phil Hughes had a pretty good line in yesterday’s game: 6 Ks, 2 ER (home run to Miguel Cabrera, but what can you do – he’s a machine) and they took him out after the Yankees opened up the can of proverbial whoop-ass in the bottom of the 6th. If Hughes can pitch well like he did at the start of the year, it sure would be a big help as who knows when/if Andy Pettitte is coming back this year.

I tried to watch the encore last night, but I fell asleep several times; the remnants of the flu are plaguing me still. And its kind of annoying to watch a game when you already know what happened. Week Day Day Games should be outlawed.

Oh, and the Rays lost yesterday, so the Yankees are in sole possession of 1st place again. The Red Sox have drifted back to 6.5 games out again, so its time to face facts: Boston just isn’t’ coming back this year. I’ll try to celebrate your demise in a respectful, dignified manner.


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