Friday, April 28, 2006
The match up didn't look good from the start. The Jays had former Cy Young Award winner Roy Halliday on the mound, while the Yankees trotted out the oft-injured, oft-ineffective Jaret Wright. Some games can just be played on paper. Halliday tossed 5 1-3 shutout innings and Yankee-killer Shea Hillenbrand belted a pair of home runs as the Blue Jays rolled over the Yankees 7-2.
Though a win was improbable, a couple of calls by the umpiring crew made matters worse. After Russ Adams led off the ball game with a walk, Frank Catalanotto appeared to strike out on a 2-2 pitch. Only thing was home plate umpire Larry Poncino didn't see it that way. Overhead replays clearly showed the back-up fastball cross home plate. Catalanotto took advantage by drilling a fastball in to the right field seats for a 2-0 lead.
The Yankees had at least one baserunner on in each of the first five innings, including two more hits for Derek Jeter, but couldn't push a run across against Halliday. Wright settled down after his shaky first inning and the game was still 2-0 when the Jays came to bat in the sixth. Wright was sent to the showers after giving up a lead off walk to Catalanotto and an infield single to Vernon Wells. Joe Torre signaled for the surprisingly effective Scott Proctor. Things started out well for Proctor. After getting Troy Glaus on a deep fly to left, he struck out first baseman Lyle Overbay for the second out of the inning. That brought up Hillenbrand who was already batting .323 with 5 home runs and 31 RBI in 65 games against the Yankees, but came into the game with only 1 home run and 7 RBI on the season. The Yankees are his cure-all though. Hillebrand crushed a Proctor hanger deep into the night and over the wall in left-center for a 5-0 Blue Jays lead.
Halladay missed a start earlier in the month due to a strained forearm and the Blue Jays have kept him on a strict pitch count for his two outings since then. Halliday's 99th and last pitch got Alex Rodriguez to ground out for the first out of the sixth inning. Manager John Gibbons opted for lefty Scott Schoeneweis with 3 of the next 4 hitters batting from the left side. Jason Giambi grounded out, but Hideki Matsui drew a walk, bring switch-hitter Bernie Williams up to the plate from the right side. Williams came into the game hitting only .182 from the left side, but .313 from the other side of the batter's box. Burn "Baby" Bernie belted a 2-run shot to deep center for his first home run of the season, cutting the lead to 5-2.
The Yankees last threat came and went in the eighth with a poor at-bat and an even worse umpiring call. Reliever Justin Speier gave up a lead off single to Rodriguez and a free pass to Giambi, his 23rd walk of the season. Gibbons wasted no more time bringing in his closer B.J. Ryan for a six-out save situation. Matsui flied to deep right for the first out with Rodriguez advancing to third. That brought Williams up again from the right side. This time though, Williams hit a slow grounder to third, that Troy Glaus fielded and started an around the horn double play. Williams beat second baseman Aaron Hill's one hop throw to first, but umpire Bruce Dreckman called him out to end the inning. Joe Torre came out to argue the blown call to no avail.
Tayon Sturtze continued to show in the ninth inning that his days in pinstripes could be numbered. After retiring Overbay to start the inning, Hillebrand belted his second home run of the night into the left field seats. Bengie Molina's single was then followed by a double by Alex Rios. Hill's sacrifice fly brought in the 7th and final run.
The baseball world received terrible news during the game when it was announced that former Yankee Steve Howe had been killed in a car accident in Coachella, California. Howe was traveling back from Arizona when his pickup truck flipped and rolled over. Howe was just 48 years old. He is survived by his wife, Cindy, daughter Chelsi and son Brian.
They brought in a new closer, B.J. Ryan (Orioles), with a 5-year, $47 million deal. They bolstered their starting rotation by giving the Marlins' A.J. Burnett a 5-year, $55 million contract. They solidified their catching needs and added World Series experience by inking Bengie Molina (Angels) to a 1-year deal. Ricciardi was saddled with a myriad of corner infielders, none of which were anything special. He took care of that by sending previous closer Miguel Batista and gold glove second baseman Orlando Hudson, somewhat reluctantly, to the Arizona Diamondbacks for slugging third baseman Troy Glaus. Starting pitcher David Bush, outfielder Gabe Gross and another minor leaguer were sent to the Milwaukee Brewers for slick fielding first baseman Lyle Overbay.
With the first month of the season completed, the results have been mixed. Burnett, who has landed on the DL a number of times already in his career, has already been on it twice with elbow issues. Ace Roy Halliday missed a start with a strained forearm, and Josh Towers has been outright awful. Gustavo Chacin has brought some steadiness to the rotation, winning all four of his starts despite a 5.11 ERA. Ted Lilly is 2-1 despite struggling with shoulder problems. Outside of Ryan and Justin Speier, the bullpen has been shaky at best.
As for the other new additions, Glaus has had a pretty good start, hitting .267-6-16. Molina is batting .294 with 7 RBI in 13 games. Ryan has been outstanding; he hasn't allowed a run in 10 appearances, has saved 3 games, and struck out 8 batters in 10 innings while issuing just one walk. Overbay is hitting just .272, but does have 11 RBI.
The biggest key to the Jays 11-9 start has been the play of Vernon Wells. A notoriously slow starter, Wells is hitting a sizzling .400 with 9 home runs and 23 runs batted in. His OPS is a gawdy 1.216 and he has had at least one hit in 19 of the Jays' 20 games.
Another Blue Jay outfielder that has begun to blossom is Alex Rios. Often compared to Dave Winfield, the 6'5" right fielder had yet to produce any power in the major leagues. Over the past two seasons he managed just 11 home runs in over 900 plate appearances. This season Rios has already hit 6 home runs in 57 official at-bats.
The Blue Jays were willing to give up some defense in order to give the second base job to super hitting prospect Aaron hill, but Hill has struggled, hitting just .191 thus far. He and shortstop Russ Adams, also a second year player, have combined for 5 errors. Frank Catalanotto and Reed Johnson have been platooning in left field, with a comined .397 average. Shea Hillenbrand has been the main designated hitter, batting .318, but has just 1 home run and 7 RBI.
All in all, it looks like the Jays may very well be looking up at the Yankees and Red Sox once again.
Series Pitching Match Ups
Friday (7:05-UPN): Roy Halladay vs Jaret Wright
Saturday (1:05-YES): Josh Towers vs Randy Johnson
Sunday (1:05-YES): Gustavo Chacin vs Mike Mussina
The teams split their first two meetings in Toronto. Randy Johnson got hammered in a loss to Gustavo Chacin, but Mike Mussina came through the next afternoon in defeating Ted Lilly.
The Yankees were 12-6 against the Jays last season, splitting their wins evenly at home and on the road.
Yankees Hitters vs. Blue Jays in 2005:
The Yankees only managed 5 hits against Devil Rays pitching last night, but unlike the night before they came in clutch situations. Hideki Matsui, mired in a 6-41 slump, singled with the bases loaded to score two and give the Yankees the lead for good. That helped back the effective pitching of Shawn Chacon (3-1) who won his second straight start with 6-plus innings of solid work.
The Devil Rays snapped a scoreless tie in the fifth when Joey Gathright's one-out single scored Damon Hollins who had earlier doubled. Meanwhile Mark Hendrickson (1-1), the tall left-handed starter, baffled the Yankees through the first five innings, but they got a break in the sixth. After a one-out walk to Derek Jeter, Russell Branyan booted Gary Sheffield's potential double play grounder. After Alex Rodgriguez walked to load the bases, Jason Giambi followed with an RBI ground out to first baseman Travis Lee. That brought up the slumping Matsui, who was just 2 for his last 17 with runners in scoring positions. That included an inning ending ground out in the fourth with two men aboard. This time Matsui hit a bouncer back through the box that squeezed past middle infielders Tomas Perez and Ty Wiggington and into center field. Rodriguez and Sheffield scored on the play to put the Yankees ahead, 3-1.
The Rays tried to come back right away in the seventh. With one on and one out, Joe Torre replaced Chacon with lefty Mike Myers. After allowing a single to Gathright, Myers got Perez to ground out and struck out Carl Crawford to end the inning. Myers has pitched beyond all expectations this year. In 10 appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings he has yet to allow a run while allowing just 3 hits and issuing 1 walk. He has also struck out 6.
The red-hot Derek Jeter gave the Yankees some insurance when his two-out double in the bottom of the seventh scored Johnny Damon from first. Jeter was 3-3 on the night, raising his average to .408. Jeter also has 20 hits in his last 37 at-bats (a .541 clip).
After Myers and Kyle Farnsworth combined on a scoreless eighth inning, Torre tried to rest Mariano Rivera by using Tanyon Sturtze in the ninth. Torre had a quick hook, however, immediately signaling for Rivera after a lead off single by the Rays Toby Hall. Rivera, who threw 38 pitches the night before, showed no ill effects and easily retired all three men he faced for his third save.
Yankee pitching leads the AL with a 3.50 ERA; They have had a superb 1.57 ERA over the last 5 games.
Robinson Cano went 0-3 to snap his 13 game hitting streak.
Gary Sheffield nearly homered on consecutive nights, but Rays center-fielder Joey Gathright reached over the wall in left-center to pull Sheffield's drive back.
The AL East race tightened up with the Red Sox losing their second straight game while the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Orioles each won. 1.5 games separates the four teams.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
If you put last night's Yankees-Devil Rays game to music, it would go something like this. You would hear Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" blare from The Stadium's speakers 14 times. That's how many walks the Yankee hitters were issued in 10 innings. Pat Benatar would yell out, "hit me with your best shot, fire away" as the Yankees failed in one clutch situation after another. Jackson Browne's "Running on Empty" would play as Robinson Cano and Bubba Crosby ran the Yankees out of one rally, and Cano would end another threat all by himself. The somewhat depressing strains of Paul Simon's "Slip Sliding Away" accompany the Rays go-ahead rally against Mariano Rivera in the top of the 10th, and things are closed out with Europe's "The Final Countdown" as Gary Sheffield ends the game with a bases loaded ground out to third.
The game was far from melodious from a fan's point of view. No matter which team you were rooting for. The Devil Rays pitching kept giving the Yankees one chance after another, but as has happened so often this season, the Yankees were horrendous in clutch situations. 2-15 with runners in scoring position was last night's final total. That enabled the Devil Rays to rally against Rivera in the 10th as he was working his second inning. Joey Gathright led off with a single, and Nick Green drew a rare walk from Rivera. Carl Crawford then laced an RBI double to left for a 3-2 lead. Two batters later, Ty Wiggington provided some insurance with sacrifice fly.
The Yankees had one last chance in the bottom of the 10th against closer and former Yankee Dan Miceli. Jorge Posada led off with a walk, but Cano and pinch-hitter Bernie Williams, batting for Crosby, both struck out. Johnny Damon worked a walk and Derek Jeter singled through the left side to load the bases. Rays' manager Joe Maddon saw that Sheffield was 6-12 against Miceli and quickly went to the bullpen for Shawn Camp. Sheffield hit a sharp ground which took a bad hop, hitting Wiggington near his left shoulder. But the third baseman kept the ball in front of him and easily threw out Sheffield to end the rally and earn Camp his second save.
About the only bright spot for the Yankees was the effort of starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang who was raked by the Orioles last Friday night. Wang looked shaky again early, allowing a run in each of the first 2 innings before settling down over the next five. For the night he allowed 3 hits, walked 3, and struck out 3 in 7 innings.
Devil Rays starter Seth McClung came into action with a 10.19 ERA, but only allowed Sheffield's 5th inning home run that tied the game. One of the Yankees best chances turned out to be their most embarrassing as well. Robinson Cano led off the sixth with a single against reliever Travis Harper. Bubba Crosby laid down a perfect bunt, so perfect in fact that Harper and first baseman Travis Lee expected each other to pick it up. Johnny Damon followed with a sacrifice bunt of his own, moving both runners into scoring position with just one out. But Derek Jeter hit one right to Wigginton at third and Cano was off with contact. In the meantime Bubba Crosby raced towards third and made it 90 percent of the way there. Then turned around and headed back towards second. At that same moment Cano gave himself up and was tagged out, and Crosby was a sitting duck between second and third. End of rally.
The Yankees tried to break the 2-2 tie again in the eighth. Cano lead off with a walk and moved to second on another good bunt by Crosby. Johnny Damon followed with a bullet back at pitcher Chad Orvella, who snared the comebacker and had Cano dead to rights off of second for the second out of the inning. Damon stole second, his third steal of the night, and Jeter followed with a walk. Sheffield bounced into a force out to end yet another threat.
Robinson Cano's 2 hits extended his hitting streak to 13 games and raised his average to .358
The Yankees stole a season high 5 bases. In addition to Johnny Damon's 3, Bubba Crosby and Alex Rodriguez swiped 1 each.
Carl Crawford returned to the lineup after missing time for his grandmother's funeral. He had the game winning hit, scored a run, walked, and stole a base.
Gary Sheffield's home run was the 434th of his career, tying him with Frank Thomas, who also homered yesterday, on the all-time list.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The prior two seasons have been physically tough ones for Mike Mussina. Elbow pain has restricted his ability to throw all his pitches and caused him to miss his spots. And if Mike Mussina can't follow his game plan, he's lost. That's not been the case this season however. Pitching pain-free, Mussina produced his 5th quality start in as many games. He limited the Rays to 4 hits over 6 plus innings. Mussina didn't walk a batter for the second straight game and struck out 7. For the season Mussina has allowed just 27 hits and 6 walks in 33 innings, while striking out 30 and has a 2.45 earned run average.
The Yankees offense meanwhile jumped on Rays starter Scott Kazmir immediately. Johnny Gomes had staked the Rays to a 1-0 lead with his AL leading 10th home run in the top of the first. Johnny Damon worked a walk off of the former Met, and then Derek Jeter smacked an 0-2 pitch in right to put the Yankees ahead for good.
Already leading 3-1 in the fourth, the Yankees added another on Johnny Damon's sacrifice fly. With one out Andy Phillips walked and Miguel Cairo hit his second double of the game before Damon flew out to deep center.
The Rays posed a threat in the fifth when Ty Wiggington and Toby Hall sandwiched singles around a Russell Branyan strike out. But gold glove winner Mussina speared comebackers by Tomas Perez and Nick Green to end the rally.
The Yankees broke the game open in the sixth against relievers Scott Dunn and Rudy Lugo. After a Cairo walk and a Damon double, Jeter singled through the left side for a 5-1 lead. Gary Sheffield singled in another run off of Lugo before Jason Giambi delivered a 2-out, 2-run double for an 8-1 lead.
Mussina cruised along until he allowed a lead off single to Huff in the 7th. With 101 pitches thrown, Joe Torre opted to shut down Mussina, who left to a standing ovation, for the rest of the night. Tanyon Sturtze, Ron Villone, and Scott Proctor threw one inning each to complete the victory.
Derek Jeter's 3 hits raised his average up to .391, second only to Miguel Tejada.
In addition to his 2-run double, Jason Giambi later added a sacrifice fly, giving him 8 RBI over the last two games.
Miguel Cairo got the start at second base despite Robinson Cano having a red hot bat. Joe Torre wanted to give Cairo some playing time and figured playing against a tough left-hander like Kazmir was the right time.
Mussina's victory was the 227th of his career.
Carl Crawford (grandmother's funeral), Jorge Cantu (sore foot), and Aubrey Huff (15-day disabled list) were all out of the Devil Rays lineup last night. Only Crawford is guaranteed to play this evening.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Chien-Ming Wang started the finale of the four game set, and gave up 5 runs in 6 innings. He also looked indecisive in certain situations. No surprise for a rookie who does not count English as a first language. Robinson Cano appeared in games two through four, going 2-11 with 1 RBI and one very costly error.
The Yankees would lose one more game in Oakland before reeling off 10 straight west coast wins that would turn their season around. Tampa Bay would treat them no differently though.
The Devil Rays returned to The Stadium in June and took another three of four. The only game they lost was a wild affair that saw them blow a 10-2 lead; the Yankees winning 20-11.
One player who drove the Yankees nuts last season was Eduardo Perez. They won't have to deal with him until they play Cleveland this year, but last year he was a nemesis. That included two big home runs to help the Rays take two of three in Tampa in August. Perez had already homered off of Randy Johnson, when he came up against Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning of the second game (Yankees took the first behind Jaret Wright). Perez sent another one into the seats to send the game to extra innings where the Rays won in 11. The finale saw another blown lead as Robinson Cano's nonchalance on a throw to first started an eighth inning winning rally against Alan Embree and Tanyon Sturtze.
The AL East and wild card races were in full bloom as September rolled around and the Rays did damage to the Yankees post-season hopes again, taking two of three in the Bronx again. The first game came down to the 9th inning and Mariano Rivera. This game was tied, but after a single by Aubrey Huff and a stolen base by pinch-runner Joey Gaithright, Cano committed yet another error against the Rays, the go-ahead run scoring on the play. The Yankees won the second game, but the Rays beat Wang again in the rubber game of the series.
One final series took place in Tampa from September 13-15 - the Yankees finally responded. Jason Giambi hit his 30th home run and drove in 5 runs, and Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada had 5 RBI each in a 17-3 romp. The next night, Wang finally beat the Rays as Cano and Derek Jeter drove in 2 each in a 6-5 win. Aaron Small didn't have his best stuff going for the three game sweep, but the Yankees rallied from a 5-1 deficit as Cano hit a grand slam and Alex Rodriguez belted his 42nd. Small would win his 8th game in an unbeaten season. The sweep would be part of a hot stretch where the Bombers took 11 of 12.
Pitching Match ups for the Series
Tuesday - Scott Kazmir vs. Mike Mussina
Wednesday - Seth McClung vs. Chien-Ming Wang
Thursday - Mark Hendrickson vs. Shawn Chacon
Hitters to look out for
Johnny Gomes, who was a rookie of the year candidate in 2005, is rolling in 2006. He's hitting .302 with 9 home runs 20 RBI. Gomes was expected to hit, but not the man occupying third base - Ty Wiggington. Wiggington, the former Met, has smacked 8 home runs and has driven in 20 runs as well.
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The Yankees need to immediately turn around one thing in their season - winning night games. With Sunday's victory the Yankees became the third team to win their first 8 day games. The only problem is that they are 1-7 at night.
"Enough with the "apology for nothing" BS. You know the reasons why Giambi didn't say the word steroids and if you were in his shoes and could lose 80 million dollars you wouldn't have said it either. Get off the high horse before you fall off and hurt yourself."
4/25/2006 8:03 AM
Let me start out by saying I don’t have a vendetta against Jason Giambi – what he did doesn’t directly effect me. That being said, Giambi admitted to a grand jury that he used steroids. However, the extent of his steroid abuse is not known to the public. He wasn’t punished by major league baseball. Bud Selig just wanted to sweep things under his rug. (Had Game of Shadows already been published, he probably would have been.) Bottom line, Giambi is a cheat; he cheated the fans and more importantly he cheated major league baseball. The contract you talk about was earned by fraudulent means. If it weren’t for a ridiculously strong player’s union, the Yankees would have torn up the deal in two seconds flat once it was proven (the Yankees obviously knew he was probably taking them) that Giambi used illegal steroids. Finally, you know very well that if Giambi had hit .210 with 5 home runs and 20 RBI last year, you would have kicked him to the curb.
Monday, April 24, 2006
The difference between Jason Giambi’s previous April and this one is like the difference between the Yankees play during day games and night games. Giambi started last season under the cloud of admitted steroid abuse (well technically to a grand jury not to the public) and a public apology for “nothing”. He pressed in every at-bat, and except for his ability to draw walks, was virtually useless at the plate. What a difference a year makes. While the walks still come in bunches, so have the home runs. Giambi blasted two more Sunday afternoon giving him 7 for the season. By comparison, Giambi didn’t his 7th last season until July.
The home runs help support the bounce-back performance by Randy Johnson as the Yankees rolled over the Baltimore Orioles 7-1. Giambi nearly had a third home run in the seventh when his drive to left hit the base of the wall. He had to settle for a 2-run double that gave him 5 RBI on the day.
Johnson, meanwhile, looked nothing like the pitcher that got hammered by the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. He threw 94 pitches in 8 innings of work, limiting the O’s to 1 run, 3 hits, and 1 walk while striking out 5. The victory was his third of the season and the 266th of his career.
Baltimore struck first, when Miguel Tejada blasted a high drive off of the foul screen in left for his fourth home run of the year and a 1-0 Orioles lead. Giambi quickly tied it in the 2nd, with his first home run into the bleachers in right-center. With one out, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, and Andy Phillips delivered consecutive singles for a 2-1 lead. Orioles starter Bruce Chen got out of further trouble by inducing Johnny Damon to ground into an inning ending double play.
Giambi struck again in the third, but not before the Yankees nearly ran themselves out of the inning completely. Derek Jeter singled to center, but was picked off of first by Chen. First baseman Kevin Millar threw to Tejada who tagged out Jeter on the steal attempt. Gary Sheffield then singled, but was also quickly erased when catcher Ramon Hernandez threw him out attempting to steal second. The Yankees then caught a break, when a bad hop off the bat of Alex Rodriguez nearly broke third baseman Melvin Mora’s thumb. The play was ruled and error, and kept the inning alive. Giambi then crushed a Chen pitch into the upper deck for a 4-1 lead.
Giambi had one other RBI opportunity in the fifth after Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly scored Damon and advanced Jeter to third. Giambi’s line drive was snared, doubling Sheffield off of first base though.
Johnson had only lasted 3-plus innings in the loss to Toronto, but after Tejada’s home run, did not allow a runner to reach second base. Actually if not for Tejada, the Yankees may have thrown a no-hitter. Tejada had all four Baltimore hits, including one off of Mariano Rivera who pitched the ninth.
Robinson Cano’s two hits extended his hitting streak to 12 games and raised his average to .349.
Derek Jeter, who was presented with second Gold Glove before the game, had 3 hits, raising his average to .375. Gary Sheffield’s pair raised him up to .357.
Sheffield ran into the right field wall in foul territory chasing a ball of the bat of Jay Gibbons in the ninth. Sheffield bruised his knee, but remained in the game and should be ready to play Tuesday night against the Devil Rays.
By taking 2 of 3 from the Orioles, the Yankees won their first series against a team other than the Kansas City Royals.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Octavio Dotel will make his second extended Spring Training appearance on Friday. Ramiro Mendoza, still building up arm strength, will appear as well.
Aaron Small will make his second extended ST start on Saturday and could rejoin the big club within the next two weeks.
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- New York Yankees minor league manager Oscar Acosta and team official Humberto Trejo were killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic.
Acosta, the manager of the Gulf Coast Yankees of the Rookie League, and Trejo, the Yankees' field coordinator in the Dominican Republic, were killed after their car collided with an SUV on a highway outside of Santo Domingo on Wednesday night, said Carlos Rio, Yankees director of operations in Latin America.
"They were both fine men and great Yankees," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement Thursday.
Acosta, 49, was the pitching coach at Triple-A Columbus from 1996-98, and served in a similar capacity at the major league level with the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. He was in his third year as manager of the Gulf Coast team, which he led to league championships the last two seasons.
Trejo, 38, was in his 16th season working for the Yankees, serving in a number of capacities, including as a manager, coach and coordinator of the team's Latin America player-development program.
"Oscar Acosta and Humberto Trejo touched countless people within our organization," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Their dedication and passion to improving young lives far exceed the boundaries of a baseball field."
The Yankees canceled Thursday's extended spring training game against Toronto following the accident and the flags at the team's minor league complex and Legends Field were at half-staff. New York brought in clergymen to talk with players, many of whom knew both.
Acosta is survived by wife, Kathy, daughters Melissa and Amanda, and son Ryan. Trejo is survived by wife Beatriz Sanchez, and daughters Geralin and Jessica.
The driver of the SUV was treated for his injuries and released from a hospital.
The Yankees will live and die by their pitching this season, counting heavily on the first two starters in the rotation - Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina. The Yankees needed a huge effort yesterday afternoon against the Blue Jays after Johnson got raked over the coals Tuesday night. Mussina gave his team just that – a 7 1/3 inning, 1 run performance in a 3-1 Yankees victory.
Mussina has never liked being associated with the word ace, has been throwing like one so far this year. He’s delivered quality starts in all four of his 2006 starts and is now 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA. Yesterday he scattered 7 hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 7. He might have had a shutout if not for the shoddy play of Gary Sheffield in right. Most importantly, Mussina kept the opponent down on a day when the Yankees struggled to score runs.
Jays’ starter Ted Lilly blanked the Yankees through the first four innings, with Jason Giambi stranding 3 runners in scoring position in threat ending at-bats. The Yankees finally broke through in the fifth when Alex Rodriguez smacked a deep drive to left-center field for his 5th home run of the season. Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and Robinson came through with consecutive 2-out singles to push a second run across later in the inning.
The Jays got one back in the sixth after Sheffield misplayed a ball hit by Frank Catalonotto. Russ Adams had single with one and out and Catalanotto followed with a catchable bloop to right-center. Sheffield was late getting to the ball and it dropped in, setting up the Jays for a big inning. Vernon Wells followed with an RBI single cutting the lead in half. Mussina picked up his teammates though, striking out Troy Glaus and getting Lyle Overbay to hit a harmless grounder to first baseman Andy Phillips.
The Yankees added a big tack-on run in the seventh. After a leadoff walk to Alex Rodriguez, reliever Scott Schoenweis hit Giambi on the right forearm with a pitch. Matsui grounded into a double play, but Posada delivered a 2-out RBI single to score Rodriguez.
Mussina threw 95 pitches through 7 innings, nearing the 100 pitch mark where he tends to falter. After getting Adams to line out, Catalanotto again singled, sending Joe Torre out to the mound and a call to reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Mussina received a big greeting in the dugout from his teammates who truly appreciated his effort.
Mariano Rivera closed things out with an easy ninth inning and the Yankees prepared to head home for a nine game home stand.
In what could become a regular occurrence, Bubba Crosby replaced Sheffield in the ninth inning for defensive purposes. Sheffield misplayed balls in both games of the two game series.
Jason Giambi had a big welt on his right forearm courtesy of a Scott Schoenweis pitch. X-Rays were negative and Giambi is hopeful of playing on Friday night.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Jeter Blast Caps 5 Run Rally
Jeter Blast Caps 5 Run Rally
Opening day ay Yankee Stadium looked a lot like most of the Yankees season opening road trip. An early lead, shaky starting pitching, errors (in this case mental), and poor relief pitching, made you think you were watching a West Coast game again. The difference between this game and those was that the Yankees came out on top. When a clutch play is needed in the Bronx, the Yankees can usually rely on “The Captain”, and today was no different. The Yankees turned a grim opening day into a thrilling one when Derek Jeter drove a hanging slider a half-dozen rows into the left field seats for a 9-4 Yankees victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Things had started out promising on the sun drenched, 70-degree day. Yogi Berra threw out the first pitch and Jason Giambi drove one of Royals’ starter Joe Mays’s first pitches over the 385-foot sign in right center for a 3-0 lead in the first inning. After Mark Teahan delivered an RBI double to get KC on the board in the second, Hideki Matsui sent Mays to an early shower with a bases loaded walk in the third, his eighth RBI of the young season. Reliever Mike Wood escaped further trouble by getting Jorge Posada to ground out to end the inning.
Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang looked pretty good through the first three innings as his heavy sinker did its work. But just as he had unraveled against Oakland last Wednesday, Wang’s location became erratic and the Royals took full advantage. A one-out home run in the fourth by Reggie Sanders cut the lead in half. With two outs, Emil Brown doubled to center and went to third on a wild pitch by Wang. After a walk to Teahan, Angel Berroa and John Buck followed with consecutive RBI singles and the game was tied 4-4. Berroa’s double play ground out in the sixth put the Royals ahead 5-4 and completed Wang’s ugly line score.
The Yankees bridge to Mariano Rivera continued to be a sore spot and showed the need for a healthy Octavio Dotel. Shane Costa greeted Tanyon Sturtze with his second home run leading off the seventh. Three batters later Sanders singled in Mike Sweeney for a 7-4 lead and a call to the bullpen.
Meanwhile the Yankee bats had gone silent. They had rallied once more in the fourth, loading the bases with one out, but Bernie Williams was doubled off of second base on a Gary Sheffield popup to end the threat. Then came the eighth inning rally. The Yankees quickly loaded the bases off of lefty reliever Andrew Sisco. Giambi walked for the third time in the game, and the 10th time this season. Hideki Matsui followed with a single and Posada walked. Robinson Cano hit into a fielder’s choice to cut the lead to 7-5 and Bernie Williams stepped to the plate. Williams is off to his usual slow start, and although he got the loudest and longest ovation in the pre-game introductions, his base running error in the fourth was the only thing that stood out. He was also only 1-6 with runners in scoring position. But Bernie has delivered in big spots many times and on his 15th opening day he did again. Williams, batting right-handed, lined a pitch into left-center field for an RBI single.
Royals’ manager Buddy Bell quickly brought in his closer Ambiorix Burgos to face Johnny Damon. The move was a good one as Damon went down on strikes for the second out of the inning. That brought up Jeter who came into the game with a six game hitting streak, but was 0-3. Burgos, whose fastball is in the mid-to-upper 90s, threw an 85 mph slider that sat in Jeter’s wheelhouse. He turned on it and turned the fans frowns upside down. That left everything in the hands of Mariano Rivera to close it out in the ninth.
Rivera had pitched just once, in the road trip ender in Anaheim and the rust showed. With one out, Mark Grudzielanek singled to center and Rivera hit Mike Sweeney on the hand. Rivera bounced back though; striking out the tough Sanders and getting Doug Mientkiewicz to hit a soft liner right back to him. The weather was ideal, the game was not, but the outcome certainly was.
Mariano Rivera’s save was the 380th of his career, putting him 10 behind Dennis Eckersley for 4th on the all-time list. The Yankees set a club record by winning their 9th consecutive home opener. Jason Giambi is hitting just .210, but his 10 walks have given him a .483 on-base percentage. Perhaps it’s time for Joe Torre to flip-flop him and Gary Sheffield in the order. Scott Proctor’s victory was just the fourth of his career. Derek Jeter is off to a fast start, hitting .333-2-7 with 4 of his 9 hits going for extra bases. He’s also 4-9 with RISP. Mike Sweeney had to leave the game after being hit by a Rivera pitch in the eighth. X-rays were negative and he is listed as day-to-day
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
I've had the good fortune to attend three home openers and had a fourth snowed out twice in 1982. The Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 10-3 on April 9, 1981. Bucky Dent blasted a 3-run homer off of Jon Matlack in the 2nd inning and my man Bobby Murcer put the game away with a pinch-hit grand slam off of Steve Comer in the 7th. I held my breath as the right fielder John Grubb leaped, but couldn't reach it. Tommy John went 8 innings for the win.
The home opener in 1983 was another story all together. Ron Guidry got pasted by the Detroit Tigers en route to a 13-2 loss. The crowd was much smaller than the announcement 55,000 plus. Tom Brookens and Glen Wilson combined for 7 hits and 6 RBI, including a Brookens home run off of Guidry. Ironically, Gator would top the twenty win mark for the second time in his career that season, but he didn't have it on that day. Dale Murray came in and poured fuel on the fire to make matters worse.
The only thing I took away from that game was seeing a young first baseman who merely on the team because of an injury and would be sent down to the minors 3 days later. Don Mattingly would go 1-3 on that day with a strikeout, giving no hint of the greatness to come.
The last opener I went to is when the buzz and traffic returned to the Bronx. After suffering through horrid teams in the late '80s and early '90s, the Yankees started bringing in some players who knew how to play. Paul O'Neill had been acquired over the winter in a deal for Roberto Kelly and was manning left field. Danny Tartabull was in his second season in right field. The left side of the infield was brand new with Wade Boggs (Boston) and Spike Owen (Montreal) having signed as free agents. The starting pitcher, Jim Abbott, had been acquired for J.T. Snow, Russ Springer, and Jerry Nielsen. A 24-year old Bernie Williams stood on the hallowed grounds of center field. Ironically, the Kansas Royals had David Cone out on the mound that day. Cone had signed as a free agent that winter after having played with the Mets and Blue Jays the year before.
O'Neill was on fire that day going 4-4 with 2 single, a double, a triple and 2 RBI. Abbott tossed a complete game in front of a frenzied sell out of over 56,000 as the Yankees won 4-1.
The Yankees opened at home against the Royals again in 1996 when a young Andy Pettitte pitched through the snowflakes in a 7-3 win. Today, the two go at again in much more ideal baseball conditions. It has to be quite an honor for Chien-Ming Wang to get the start for the Yankees and hopefully he will return to his pre-injury form of 2005.
The Red Sox suddenly look stronger as Curt Schilling has thrown 2 gems for victories and Jon Papelbon replaced Keith Foulke as closer, going 3-3 in save situations. The Sox did get a blow though when center fielder Coco Crisp broke a bone at the base of his index finger. He will be re-evaluated after 10 days.
The Royals may be a bad team, but they took two of three from the defending champion White Sox over the weekend, coming from behind late both times.
Chris Shelton of the Tigers and Garrett Atkins of the Rockies were named the first Players of the Week for the 2006 season. Shelton hit .583 and slugged 5 home runs. He finished the week with a 1.458 slugging pct. Atkins hit .462 with 7 RBI, 8 runs scored and 12 hits, half of them for extra bases.
vs A's 1-2
Vs Angels 1-2
1. Starting Pitching
Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina combined for four quality starts in the Yankees six games. But Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon were both less than stellar. Johnson came out firing against the A’s and got plenty of run support in a 15-2 romp. His second start was a complete game loss in which he allowed 3 runs, but the Yankees offense was in sleep mode as the Bombers were anything but that, dropping a 3-2 decision.
The health of Mussina’s elbow is a great concern for Joe Torre and the team. Mussina blew a couple of leads in his first start against the Athletics, but left with a no-decision after allowing 3 runs in 7 innings. Against the Angels he was even better, allowing 1 run in 6 innings as the Yankees pasted the Angels 10-1. Most importantly, Moose is pitching pain-free.
The Yankees have gold glovers on the left side of the infield, but the right side is weaker and/or inexperienced. The Yankees are weak armed in left and center and immobile in right. Hideki Matsui has trouble going back on the ball and missed a catchable ball as the A’s won the second game of the season in their final at-bat, 5-4. The A’s got back into the game thanks to an error by Derek Jeter on a potential inning ending double play ball. The Angels, who like to run anyway, got an extra boost when weak throwing Kelly Stinnett started Saturday’s game against the Angels.
3. Bernie Williams
Another huge question mark surrounding the Yankees is just how much pop is left in Bernie Williams’s bat. Over the winter we were lead to believe that Bernie would be splitting playing time with Andy Phillips. As it turns out Joe Torre has no intention of playing Phillips other than as a defensive replacement for Jason Giambi. Bernie is a notoriously slow starter, but it is now magnified because of his age and the Yankees early season offensive slump. With Jason Giambi in the DH slot on Sunday and Bernie sitting out a second straight game, Torre chose to start utility man Miguel Cairo at 1st base instead of Phillips. While Cairo has done a very good job in his two stints with the team, there’s no point in not giving Phillips a chance, especially if Bernie continues to struggle. The Yankees need to save their trade chips for starting pitching. It would be a plus to find another bat from within the organization.
Who’s Hot - Pitching
Randy Johnson: 1-1, 2.40 ERA; 2 quality starts; 15 IP 11 Ks No BB
Mike Mussina: 1-0, 2.77 ERA; 2 quality starts.; 13 IP 10 Ks
Mike Myers: 3 scoreless appearances
Chien-Ming Wang: 2.143 ratio; .333 opposition avg
Shawn Chacon: 7.71 ERA .381 opposition avg
Who’s Hot – Hitting
Hideki Matsui: .400 3 HR 7 RBI 1.244 OPS
Derek Jeter: .348 1 HR 4 RBI 1 SB 1.030 OPS 6 game hitting streak
Bernie Williams: 4-18 .222 2 RBI
Jason Giambi: 3-18 .167 1 RBI
Monday, April 10, 2006
The Yankees exploded for 15 runs in their opening night victory over the Oakland Athletics last Monday and basically did nothing the rest of the week. That is until yesterday when they found where the A's and Angels had hidden their hitting shoes. Jorge Posada homered twice and the Yankees had 15 hits as they battered the reigning Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon (0-1) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 10-1.
Posada entered the game just 3-21 with no extra base hits, but highlighted a 5 run second innings with a 3-run blast off of Colon and then took Estaban Yan deep for a solo shot in the fifth. The Yankees also got the pitching they needed from starter Mike Mussina (1-0) who limited the Angels to 1 run on 5 hits in 6 innings of work.
In addition to Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano paced a 15-hit attack with 3 hits each. Rodriguez started off the second innings fireworks with his second home run of the season and his eighth lifetime against Colon. Jason Giambi followed with a single and Hideki Matsui reached on Colon's error. That set the stage for Posada who busted out of his slump with a deep shot to right. Derek Jeter added an RBI double and the Yankees quickly had Colon on the ropes. They delivered the knockout blow one inning later. After a lead off walk to Giambi, Matsui followed with a single through the right side. Posada delivered again, pulling one into the right field corner for an RBI double and sending Colon to the showers. Cano greeted reliever Estaban Yan with a 2-run double to left-center to break the game open.
Chone Figgins RBI single off of Mussina in the fourth would be the only run the Yankees pitching would allow. Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Proctor, and Mariano Rivera followed Mussina with an inning each. It was Rivera's first appearance of the regular season and he showed no ill effects of the layoff.
The Yankees are off today before starting a three game series at home with the Kansas City Royals. Chien-Ming Wang starts the home opener against Darrell May.
Friday, April 7, 2006
Shawn Chacon takes the ball for the Yankees tonight as they open up a three game series with the Los Angeles of Anaheim. Kelvim Escobar will make his first start of the season for the Halos. The last time the Yankees met the Angels, Bubba Crosby and Gary Sheffield were playing smashmouth baseball and the Yankees pitching got knocked around. Though there was no bone jarring collision Wednesday night in Oakland, the Yankees defense and pitching let them down again.
A critical error by Derek Jeter and an out of character meltdown by Chien-Ming Wang led to the Yankees blowing a 4-0 lead. The bullpen and Robinson Cano did no better when the A's scored five times in the bottom of the eighth en route to a 9-4 victory. Jaret Wright breezed through 2 innings of relief before Milton Bradley led off the A's half of the eighth with a triple over the head of a backtracking Johnny Damon in center field. The Yankees brought the infield in and Wright got just what he needed, a ball hit right to an infielder. But Jay Payton's ball skipped under the glove of second baseman Robinson Cano for an error, allowing Bradley to score the go ahead run. Jason Kendall and Marco Scutaro followed with singles for a 6-4 Oakland lead.
Mike Myers did his job, striking out lefty hitting Mark Kotsay, before turning things over to Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth promptly threw a wild pitch and then walked Mark Ellis to load the bases. Eric Chavez popped out, but then Frank Thomas hit a gapper to left-center to clear the bases and ice the ball game.
The Yankees got on the board first when Hideki Matsui hit a long home run over the 400-ft sign in center field in the second. Gary Sheffield lined a 3-run homer over the left field fence in the third to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead and things seemed to be on their way.
With one out and a man on in the fourth, Wang induced Thomas to hit into a would-be inning ending double play, but the ball rolled up Derek Jeter's arm and ricocheted off his head. Wang always seemed cool in tough situations last season, but he immediately walked Dan Johnson to load the bases. Milton Bradley ripped a 2-run single to left to halve the lead and Payton followed with a single to load the bases again. Jason Kendall hit in a fielder's choice to cut the lead to 4-3 before Wang temporarily escaped further trouble.
Mark Kotsay and Eric Chavez sandwiched singles around a Mark Ellis force out to start the fifth. Wang struck out Thomas with a change up, but walked Johnson to load the bases. Wang appeared to have Bradley struck out on a 2-2 backup slider, but much to Joe Torre's dismay, home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom thought otherwise. Wang's next pitch missed by a wide margin, for an RBI walk for Bradley.
Starter Danny Haren and relievers, Justin Duchscherer and Joe Kennedy shutout the Yankees over the final six innings proving that on night's the Yankees offense doesn't explode, the pitching and defense are going to have to step it up. They certainly didn't on Wednesday night.
Carl Pavano played catch for the second straight day as he continues his rehab from shoulder and "rear" problems.
The Yankees claimed catcherKoyie Hill off of waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees expect to lose catcher Wil Nieves, who is out of options, once one of the Yankees disabled pitchers returns. Hill, 27, caught 23 games for the Diamondbacks last season, hitting .224 with six RBI.
Minor League News
The Trenton Thunder opened their Double-A season with a 4-3 loss to the Altoona Curve. Kevin Howard and Gabe Lopez homered for the Thunder. Starter Steven White went five innings, allowing 3 runs, 7 hits, walked 2 and struck out 3. Francisco Butto took the loss when he allowed the go-ahead run to score in the eighth.
The Columbus Clippers pounded the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Phillies 13-1 in Triple-A play. Kevin Thompson paced an 18-hit attack with 4 hits and an RBI. Sean Henn limited Scranton to 1 run, 1 hit and 1 walk in 5 1-3 innings for the win. Russ Johnson hit his first home run of the year.
Jimmy Rollins hitting streak came to an end at 38 games when he went 0-4 against the Cardinals.
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
AL Central - White Sox
AL West - A's
AL Wild Card - Red Sox
NL East - Braves
NL Central - Cardinals
NL West - Giants
AL Wild Card - Mets
Yankees over the A's in 6
White Sox over the Red Sox in 5
Yankees over the White Sox in 7
Cardinals over the Mets in 7
Braves over the Giants in 6
Cardinals over the Braves in 5
Yankees over the Cardinals in 7
AL MVP - A-Rod
NL MVP - Albert Pujols
AL Cy Young - Roy Halladay
NL Cy Young - Carlos Zambrano
AL Rookie of the Year - Kenji Johjima
NL Rookie of the Year - Prince Fielder
AL Manager of the Year - Ken Macha
NL Manager of the Year - Ned Yost
During Spring Training Joe Torre vowed not to overwork his bullpen like he had the past two seasons. Arm problems that beset Paul Quantrill, Tanyon Sturtze, and Tom Gordon over that time period prompted Torre's actions. But has often been the case the last few years, Torre went to the extreme last night and it cost the Yankees the game - Oakland winning it 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Instead of having Kyle Farnsworth pitch a second inning, he fed Scott Proctor to the wolves in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 3-3 game. Proctor, who had missed several days due to emergency heart surgery, was not sharp at all. He walked the lead off batter Jason Kendall, who then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Milton Bradley. After an intentional walk to Nick Swisher, Marcos Scutaro drilled a flat fastball over the head of Hideki Matsui in left scoring Kendall with the winning run.
Though it was only the second game of the season it was reminiscent of past pitching strategy mistakes made by Torre, ala the 2003 World Series when he put Jeff Weaver in an extra game and to know one's surprise lost it. While the ramifications of last night's game are not comparable, the growing trend is disturbing.
Torre never would have found himself in such an untenable situation had the Yankees hitters taken advantage of their opportunities. Johnny Damon led off the ball game with a walk and advanced to third on Derek Jeter's double. A's starter Rich Harden then proceeded to strike out Gary Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez, and Jason Giambi to get out of the jam.
The Yankees broke through in the third when Jeter was issued a two-out walk and scored on Sheffield's double. The Yankees ran themselves out of the inning one batter later when Rodriguez singled to left. Nick Swisher's throw went home as Sheffield took a big turn around third, but stopped. Rodriguez, who had slowed as he approached first, took off for second, but hesitated as Jason Kendall threw down to second baseman Mark Ellis. Rodriguez got in a run, while Sheffield inexplicably held his ground at third. By the time Sheffield finally broke for home Rodriguez had been tagged out.
The A's got right back at Yankees starter Mike Mussina (7 IP 3 ER) in the bottom of the third. Nick Swisher tied the game with his first home run of the season and Mark Kotsay delivered an RBI single to push Oakland ahead 2-1.
Jorge Posada tied the game in the fourth with an RBI ground out and then put the Yankees ahead in the sixth with an RBI single, but Mussina again surrendered the lead immediately. Eric Chavez's first home run of the season tied the game in the bottom of the sixth 3-3.
The Yankees threatened in their half of the ninth when Johnny Damon stroked a 1-out double. Jeter grounded out to short, and after Sheffield drew a 2-out walk, Rodriguez grounded into a force out to end the inning. Joe Torre then made sure no one on the east coast had to stay up any later.
Proctor's infant daughter was doing much better after emergency surgery to repair a heart defect. The baby was initially discovered to have a heart murmur at birth and it was not thought to be any trouble. However, it recurred and surgery was necessitated.
Still no word from back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins concerning Carl Pavano's MRI. Pavano will see no action until Watkins review is complete.
Chien-Ming Wang starts tonight's rubber game of the series against Danny Haren. The 10:05 start will be televised on YES.
Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Bobby Crosby will most likely be missing from the lineup for the A's tonight with a badly cut index finger on his left hand. Robinson tried to steal second base in last night's game and his spike got through an opening in Crosby's glove.
Carl Pavano is doing no activity at all right now as the Yankees await word from his back specialist. An MRI of Pavano's buttocks pain was sent to the doctor to confirm it wasn't related to his back. Pavano is shutdown until further notice.
Kelly Stinnett will most likely catch Randy Johnson's next start since Jorge Posada will need a day off in the Angels series with a Sunday day scheduled after Saturday's night game.
The weather could be a bigger problem today than it was yesterday. At 10:30 am PST it was raining heavily in the bay area. There is supposed to be a window between 8 and 11 pm where the chance of rain is low. It will all depend on how much collects before then.
Alex Rodgriguez wasn't the only one with an opening day grand slam yesterday. Scott Rolen returned to the Phillies lineup in style, belting a slam as well.
Just another day at the office for Albert Pujols who hit two home runs.
Pitching Match up of the Day for Tuesday. Cy Young candidates Johann Santana faces off against Roy Halladay in tonight Minnesota-Toronto opener.
My feelings on Barry Bonds are well documented, but there is absolutely no excuse for what took part yesterday at Petco Park in San Diego. As Bonds was walking off the field, a fan threw a syringe at him. As it turned out the syringe did not contain a needle, but that's beside the point. How big of an idiot do you have to be to do something like that. If the person is ever found, they should be charge to the full extent of the law.
The Oakland Athletic probably wished Mother Nature had cooperated last night and it had poured like it was originally called for. The only thing less reliable than the weather was Barry Zito's curveball. Zito's lack of control contributed mightily to the shortest outing, 1 1-3 innings, of his career as the Yankees belted out 17 hits in a 15-2 blowout.
The Yankees threatened in the first after two out walks to Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez, but Jason Giambi struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch. The bottom of the first wasn't much better for Giambi who was charged with an error after not being able to hold a low throw from Rodriguez, allowing the A's Mark Kotsay to reach second with just one out. Randy Johnson struck out Bobby Crosby and got Eric Chavez to fly out to deep right to end the threat.
The wheels completely came off for Zito in the second and the Yankees took full advantage. After inning opening walks to Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 Yankee lead. Jorge Posada beat Eric Chavez to third base on Robinson Cano's sacrifice bunt to load the bases with none out. Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter followed with RBI singles for a 3-0 lead and the bases remained loaded. After Sheffield struck out, Rodriguez waited on a hanging 70 mph curve and slugged it in the left field seats for a grand slam and a 7-0 lead. It also marked the end of the night for Zito who is now 2-8 lifetime against the Yankees with a 5.38 ERA.
That's all the support Johnson would need as he dominated the A's hitters, allowing just 5 hits, walking none, and striking out three in 7 innings of work. Frank Thomas's first at-bat as an Oakland Athletic looked like a lot of his old Chicago White Sox at-bats. Thomas narrowly missed a home run, but 2 pitches later hit a Johnson fastball into the left field seats for career home run number 449.
The Yankees went back to work against Kirk Saarloos in the fourth. Gary Sheffield reached on an error by Bobby Crosby and Alex Rodriguez followed with a single putting runners on first and second with no one out. Jason Giambi followed with an RBI single and then he and Rodriguez scored on Hideki Matsui's 3-run home run.
Rodriguez and Matsui would later add RBI singles and Bernie Williams drove in a second run with a bases loaded walk. The A's added a final run in the ninth off of Ron Villone.
The 15 runs scored by the Yankees were the most for them on opening day since a 19-1 rout of the Washington Senators in 1955. Johnson's 14th opening day start tied him with Walter Johnson, Steve Carlton, and Jack Morris for second all time. Tom Seaver is the career leader with 16 opening day starts. It was Johnson's 264th career win.
Johnny Damon went 3-7 in his Yankee debut with an RBI and two runs scored. Jorge Posada was hit twice by pitches, including getting hit square in the back by former teammate Brad Halsey. Giambi was also hit on the hand. The Yankees did not retaliate, but that could change over the next two games.
Octavio Dotel continued his comeback by throwing 40 pitches off a mound in Tampa, Florida. Aaron Small also threw, but is still experiencing discomfort in his hamstring.
The Yankees celebrate their opening night win (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Monday, April 3, 2006
The Yankees and Oakland A's are ready to start the 2006 season this evening, but Mother Nature may not be. Temperatures should be in the mid-fifties tonight with intermintent rain showers. There does appear to be a window between 9 and 10 pm where there should not be rain.
Randy Johnson will be making the 13th opening day start of his career. Barry Zito will start for Oakland. The starting lineups for tonight should be:
CF Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
RF Gary Sheffield
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Jason Giambi
LF Hideki Matsui
C Jorge Posada
DH Bernie Williams
2B Robinson Cano
2B Mark Ellis
CF Mark Kotsay
SS Bobby Crosby
3B Eric Chavez
DH Frank Thomas
RF Milton Bradley
1B Dan Johnson
C Jason Kendall
LF Nick Swisher
Start: 10:05 PM EST TV: YES RADIO: WCBS-AM
Sunday, April 2, 2006
The Yankees departed Phoenix yesterday evening and headed towards Oakland for Monday's opener. A lot of them had probably already mentally departed earlier in the day. The Yankees finished their exhibition schedule with a 3-3 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks. For the second straight day the Yankees rallied, but this time couldn't hold the lead once they had taken it. Miguel Cairo tied the game at 2-2 with a solo home run off of Claudio Vargas. It was Cairo's second blast of the spring. The Yankees then took the lead when Bubba Crosby laid down a perfect squeeze bunt scoring Felix Escalona from third.
Ron Villone entered the game in the bottom half of the eighth to protect the lead, but it was quickly erased when he served up a gopher ball to Brian Barden. Shawn Chacon had started for New York, going 5 innings and allowing 2 runs, one of them on a solo home run by Jerry Gil. Chacon will start the 4th game of the regular season next Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels.
The Yankees managed just 5 hits off of starter Miguel Batista and five relievers. The Yankees have tried a return to small ball this spring and scored their first run in just that manner. Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Jorge Posada was issued a lead off walk and went to second on Robinson Cano's single. Chacon sacrificed the runners over and Bernie Williams grounded out to second, scoring Posada.
Mariano Rivera got his final sixth inning tune up with a scoreless inning.
As expected, Carl Pavano, Aaron Small and Octavio Dotel were each placed on the 15-day disabled list. Luis Garcia was given his outright release, while Ramiro Mendoza, Felix Escalona, Matt Smith, Matt Childers, Omar Santos, Russ Johnson, Damian Rolls, and Jose Veras were sent to Columbus. Mendoza could quickly be recalled if Scott Proctor needs to spend a significant amount time away from the team. Proctor's newborn daughter is seriously ill with an undisclosed ailment.
The weather forecast is not good for Monday's opener. With a 70% chance of rain, the contingency is to play a day/night doubleheader on Tuesday.
Saturday, April 1, 2006
Kelly Stinnett spent four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000,2005)and his return to Phoenix last night turned out to be a good one. Stinnett's ninth inning home run capped a Yankee rally from a 5-3 deficit and gave them a 6-5 victory. Stinnett had 39 home runs in his time in Arizona, and although it was only an exhibition game, last night's solo shot was pretty satisfying.
Chien-Ming Wang started for the Yankees and had difficulty spotting his pitches. The Diamondbacks took advantage by scoring a run in the first and two more in the third. Chad Tracy and Luis Gonzalez drove in 2 runs each and Orlando Hudson had 3 hits as the Diamondbacks took a 5-3 lead off of Wang and Kyle Farnsworth after 5 innings.
Bubba Crosby's solo home run and an RBI ground by Luis Garcia tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the eighth, leading to Stinnett's heroics in the ninth. Stinnett took former teammate Jose Valverde deep to push the Yankees ahead 6-5. Matt Childers, who has yet to be scored on this spring and eventually could be a mid-season call up, worked a scoreless eighth and ninth to pick up his second victory of the spring.
Carl Pavano will be sidelined for several days with a bruised tailbone. Pavano fell in his first outing on Tuesday and was still showing the effects of it when he made a minor league appearance on Thursday. Pavano's fastball topped out at only 86 mph as he struggled to push off the rubber.
Scott Proctor has left the team to be with his seriously ill newborn daughter. Details were not available. If Proctor isn't ready to go for opening day, Ramiro Mendoza will most likely be added to the roster.
John Flaherty retired this spring shortly after reporting to Boston Red Sox camp. It was then thought that the former Yankee catcher would work for the Mets new cable channel. That is until YES stepped in and apparently hired Flaherty to host their new pre-game batting practice show.
Joe Torre officially announced his starting rotation for the start of the season. Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Chien-Ming Wang will face the Oakland A's while Shawn Chacon will start Friday's game in Anaheim. Jaret Wright will work out of the bullpen for now and will move into the fifth spot in the rotation when needed.