Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Aceves Makes His Pitch

The Yankees have a lot of questions to answer this off-season, and as usual, the starting rotation and bullpen will be among the chief issues. Al Aceves threw his hat in the ring last night to be part of the 2009 pitching staff with a solid, six inning performance, in his first major league start, to lead the Yankees over the Angels, 7-1.

Aceves' stuff is not among the best in baseball, but he's gritty and isn't afraid to throw strikes. Location is key and last night he was masterful in hitting Chad Moeller's mitt. He held the Angels scoreless until the sixth, and even then made effective pitches so LA couldn't open up a big inning. Aceves also had plenty of help on offense where Alex Rodriguez slugged a 3-run home run and Johnny Damon hit a pair of blasts.

The Yankees had a 1-0 lead against Angels starter Ervin Santana when a crucial error helped break things open for the Bombers in the sixth inning. Center fielder Torii Hunter had left the game after fifth inning due to tightness in his left quad and his replacement, Gary Matthews Jr., made an immediate impact.

Derek Jeter hit a lead off drive in the sixth that Matthews ran down on the warning track, but dropped for a three base error (the play was originally ruled a triple). The play changed Santana's demeanor and he immediately walked Bobby Abreu to get into further trouble. A-Rod made Santana feel even more miserable when he crushed a pitch to right-center field for his 33rd home run of the season, and number 551 for his career.

Aceves had allowed just a single through the first three innings when Garret Anderson led off the fourth with a base hit. One out later, Derek Jeter mishandled Vlad Guerrero's potential double play grounder for an error, putting the tying and go ahead runs on base. But Aceves got Hunter to hit a comebacker for an easy 1-4-3 double play.

An Anderson one out single in the sixth was followed by a Mark Teixeira double and the Angels were in business. But Aceves retired Guerrero on an RBI ground out and Matthews on an inning ending grounder to Robinson Cano to escape further trouble.

Damon put the game out of reach with a 2-run home run off of Santana in the seventh and a solo shot against Justin Speier in the ninth.

News and Notes

Al Aceves won his first major league game in front of about 30 friends and family.

Jered Weaver was originally supposed to get the start for the Angels, but was scratched due to a problem with a finger on his pitching hand.

Dave Eiland was feeling better last night after falling in the dugout on Tuesday night. It was apparently caused by a dizzy spell. While he landed hard on his shoulder, Eiland was more embarrassed than anything else.

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