Thursday, September 29, 2011

Girardi Sets His Lineup And His Starter

The great national crisis is over...Joe Girardi has chosen his ALDS Game 3 starter and it is...Freddy Garcia. The 13 year veteran surprised everyone with a 3.62 and 12 wins in 25 starts, 17 of which were quality starts.

The move also confirmed that CC Sabathia would work on three days rest of pitch a Game 4 and Ivan Nova would go in a Game 5 against Justin Verlander if all came down to one game.

Girardi has also set his lineup with four right-handed starters going for Detroit. Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira have been flip-flopped between the three and five spots and Jorge Posada has been given the DH spot.

Friday Night Lights: Sabathia vs. Verlander

A wild night of baseball ended moments ago when Robert Andino doubled off of Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the 9th to give the Orioles a come from behind 4-3 win over Boston. Just minutes later, Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria lined a home run off the Yankees' Scott Proctor in the 12th inning to give the Rays an 8-7 victory and the AL wild card berth. Not only did the Rays come from 9.5 games back to overtake the Red Sox, but they overcame a 7-0 deficit to the Yankees Wednesday night to do it. Dan Johnson homered off Cory Wade in the 9th to tie the game at 7-7.

The Red Sox were one out and one strike away from victory when Papelbon gave up an RBI double to Nolan Reimold to tie the game. Then Andino continued to be the Red Sox nemesis - he had a three run double off Papelbon in Boston and a three run inside-the-park home run the other night - with the game winner.

In the NL, St. Louis jumped all over Houston's Brett Myers in the first inning and went on to an easy 8-0 win. They then captured the NL wild card when Atlanta blew a 3-2 lead in the 9th and lost in 13 innings.

Back to the AL, the Tigers defeated the Indians, but the Rangers did the same to the Angels to capture the #2 seed. Former Angel Mike Napoli hit two home runs against his former teammates for the second straight night.

So Friday night it is CC Sabathia against Justin Verlander at 8:37 EDT. Game 2 follows on Saturday with Ivan Nova facing Doug Fister. Game 3 will be one of the triumverate of Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, and Bartolo Colon going against Max Scherzer, and if a Game 4 is necessary, the Yankees will likely bring back Sabathia on three days rest against Rick Porcello. If the series goes five, Nova will match up with Verlander to decide it all.

Let the games begin.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Shields Shuts Down Yankees To Tie Wild Card

The Boston Red Sox had a nine game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays on September 4. After the Rays beat the Yankees and the Red Sox lost to the Orioles Monday night the two teams were in a perfect tie in the wild card race at 89-71.

James Shields came within one out of a complete game in a 5-2 win over the Yankees. He scattered six hits and a pair of Robinson Cano RBI, including the second baseman's 28th home run of the year. The Rays offense took advantage of inexperienced Hector Noesi, who made just his second big league start. Just like his first start, Noesi didn't make it out of the 3rd inning.

B.J. Upton's 2-run double in the 3rd tied the game at 2-2 and Johnny Damon put Tampa ahead for good with an RBI single. The Rays added tack on runs in the 4th, on a Kelly Shoppach home run off lefty Raul Valdes, and a Damon sac fly in the 7th.

The Yankees had a mild chance in the 9th when Alex Rodriguez reached on an Evan Longoria error, but Jorge Posada bounced into a double play. When Shields walked Eric Chavez, manager Joe Maddon went to closer Kyle Farnsworth, who retired pinch-hitter Jesus Montero on a game ending ground out.

Meanwhile up in Baltimore, the Orioles and Red Sox were tied 2-2 in the 6th as Baltimore's Tommy Hunter kept pace with the much more heralded Josh Beckett. Chris Davis then put Baltimore ahread with an RBI double and set the stage for Robert Andino.

Last week Andino killed the Red Sox when he cleared the loaded bases with a double of Jonathan Papelbon to send Boston to another loss. Andino struck again tonight when he drove a deep fly to center field with two aboard. Jacoby Ellbsury leaped, had the ball, but lost the ball when he crashed into the wall. Both base runners scored easily and Andino raced aroud the bases for an inside-the-park-home-run and a 6-2 Orioles lead.

Boston cut it to 6-3 in the 9th and had the tying run at the plate in the person of Adrian Gonzalez. Closer Jim Johnson got Gonzalez to fly out and then struck out Jed Lowrie swinging to end the game and erase the Red Sox wild card lead.


Russell Martin was ejected from the Yankees game after a pitch from Hector Noesi was called a ball. Martin made a wisecrack to home plate ump Paul Schrieber who tossed him.

Courtesy of Dellin Betances - the Yankees rookies took their annual hazing Monday night. That's Andrew Brackman and Betances as Milli Vanilli, George Kontos as one half of WHAM, Hector Noesi as Prince, Austin Romine as Madonna, Jesus Montero as MC Hammer (looks more like the Indian from the Village People), and Brandon Laird as Slash. (Thanks to Marc Carig for filling in some of the blanks)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Burnett Even Baffles Boston

You know things are bad when A.J. Burnett shuts you down and pitches into the 8th inning. It's no dream, it's a nightmare. One that the Boston Red Sox experienced Sunday afternoon. Save for a couple of Jacoby Ellsbury solo home runs, the Sox couldn't muster anything against Burnett and the Yankees won it 6-2.

The loss was the Red Sox 16th in their last 20 games. Combined with Tampa Bay's victory over Toronto, the Boston wild card lead is down to just a half a game (one in the loss column - if the Angels win this afternoon they will be just 1.5 back). The Yankees used their speed and took advantage of the combination of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to grab an early 2-0 lead. Brett Gardner led off the bottom of the 1st with a bunt single and quickly stole second base. Derek Jeter reached on a bunt of his own that advanced Gardner to third. Jeter swiped second and Gardner scored when Saltalamacchia threw the ball away.

Jeter advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the second run of the inning on a wild pitch. In the bottom of the third Yankees fan may have seen Jorge Posada launch a home run for the last time in Yankee Stadium. Following a one out walk to Alex Rodriguez, Posada drilled a Wakefield deliver into the right field seats for his 14th home run of the year and a 4-0 lead. He acknowledged the crowd when they cheered for a curtain call.

Meanwhile, Burnett cruised through the Boston lineup with unusual efficiency. Ellsbury had three of the Red Sox six hits, including a 1st inning single that was erased when Burnett caught him leaning off of first base. Rookie Brandon Laird threw to Jeter to put it in the book as a caugh stealing.

Ellsbury's first home run of the day got Boston on the board in the 4th, but the Yankees got the run back an inning later. Derek Jeter, who had three hits on the day to reach the .300 mark for the season, singled to left and moved to second when left fielder Carl Crawford misplayed the ball. Alex Rodriguez then singled through the right side to plate Jeter ahead of Conor Jackson's throw.


Ellsbury's second home run of the game, in the 6th inning, earned him the honor of being the first Red Sox player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. Quite an accomplishment for a player who missed most of last year and is now a candidate for both MVP and Comeback Player of the Year awards.

Jeter finished the scoring off with an RBI ground rule double in the 7th.

Burnett felt the love from the Stadium crowd, something he hasn't experienced too often the last two years. He left to a huge ovation after picking up the second out in the 8th inning.

Mariano Rivera was honored before the game for breaking the record for career saves. Among the gifts presented to him was a portrait with 602 printed above his head and his baseball cards surrounding him. Jorge Posada commissioned the piece and the gift was from the team.

UPDATE 6:55 PM - The Angels chances are virtually done after they allowed four runs in the 9th inning and lost to Oakland 6-5. They remain 2.5 back of Boston with just three games to play.

NFL Week 3 Picks

After a decent 9-7 start in Week 1, I was a miserable 5-10-1 last week for a total thus far of 14-17-1.

Here's my picks for this week.

Eagles - 8.5 (Can't see my Giants winning this one; would love to be wrong)
Jets -2.5 (Could see the Raiders pulling off an upset)
49ers +2.5
Pats -7
Saints -3.5
Dolphins -1.5
Broncos +7
Lions -3
Panthers -3.5
Chargers -14.5
Ravens -5.5
Falcons +1
Cardinals -3.5
Packers -4.5
Steelers -10.5
Cowboys -3 (Redskins could pull of yet another upset in Big 'D')

The Captain and The Kid Rock The Sox

With their off-season signings, their returning players, and all the hype that surrounded the Boston Red Sox during spring training, it's hard to imagine just how tough things are for the old towne team right now. Jon Lester, one of the most dependable starters in the American League, couldn't make it out of the 3rd inning on Saturday as the Yankees belted Boston 9-1 to shrink the Sox wild card lead to just 1.5 games over Tampa Bay.

Derek Jeter capped a six run 2nd inning with a 3-run home run to the opposite field and Jesus Montero later homered and drove in four runs for the game. Lester allowed eight earned runs in 2.2 innings pitched and has now allowed 18 earned runs in 13.2 innings over his last three starts.

Montero helped his cause for making the post-season roster with an RBI single in the 2nd, a 2-run double in the 3rd, and a frozen rope home run to right in the 6th. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman must decide if Montero's bat justifies him on the squad as the backup catcher as well. Jorge Posada is likely to make the team as well, with Austin Romine left out. Meaning the Yankees hope Russell Martin stays healthy throughout.

Freddy Garcia earned his 12th win and probably a Game 3 start in the ALDS by tossing six shutout innings.

Yankees Recognize Maris' 50th Anniversary

50 years ago this coming Saturday, October 1, Roger Maris stepped to the plate against the Boston Red Sox Tracy Stallard and sent a pitch into the right field seats for his 61st home run of the season. As the ball landed in the seats, the anxiety and stress of chasing the immortal Babe Ruth left Maris' body like an 800 pound gorilla jumping off his back.

Maris lost weight and his hair came out in clumps as he approached the ghost of Babe Ruth's legend. Then commissioner Ford Frick said the record would have an asterisk since Babe Ruth's record 60 home runs came in just a 154 game schedule. Everything had to be done to protect Ruth's legacy. But Maris did break the record and it held for 37 years until the first of two cheaters surpassed his mark.

With this weekend being the final regular season homestand, the Yankees honored Maris' legacy and his family with a ceremony at Yankee Stadium. In 1961 most Yankees fans wanted to see Mickey Mantle break the record. After all he was a lifelong Yankee. But 50 years later the Yankee Stadium crowd gave a huge ovation to Maris' widow Pat and their six children.

Captain Derek Jeter presented Maris' sons, Roger Jr., Kevin, Randy, and Richard with a bat used by their father. The ceremony came on a day when the Yankees were once again playing Boston.

On hand were former Maris teammates Yogi Berra, Bob Cerv, and Whitey Ford. Sal Durante, the then 19-yr old who caught the baseball was in attendance as well as Mickey Mantle's sons David and Danny.

If you ever in Fargo, ND, be sure to check out the Roger Maris Museum.

Red Barber's call of Maris' 61..not quite as effusive as Phil Rizzuto's call.

Oklahama Christian U. Honors Bobby Murcer

He never attended or played for Oklahoma Christian University, but on Friday the school honered Bobby Murcer by naming their indoor facility after him.

Bobby (I just can't refer to him as Murcer) knew many people associated with the school and he and his wife Kay attended church nearby. Kent Allen, a friend of the Murcers and the school's VP for alumni relations had this to say:

“We felt like we needed to give honor to whom honor is due,” Allen said. “In the end, he had developed a keen interest in wanting to bring OC baseball back, even better than before. Here’s a man who drove by the university every day, had seen the importance of bringing baseball back to the university, had developed good relationships with so many people on the campus, had lent his name to a fundraising activity and was one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons. It just made sense to name the facility after him.”

Bobby's widow Kay was in attendance for the ceremony.

“I feel like my roots are here in Oklahoma and I will keep my heels dug in in this area,” she said. “I hope one day, maybe one of our grandkids will attend Oklahoma Christian. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Bobby.”

You can read more about the ceremony and the honor at the OC official website.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

AL Playoff Rotations Forming

The Yankees' Joe Girardi knows he has CC Sabathia to start Game 1 of the ALDS against either the Detroit Tigers or Texas Rangers (or by some miracle the Los Angeles Angels) and Ivan Nova to go in either Game 2 or 3. But the rest is up in the air.

Perhaps Freddy Garcia solidified a spot on Saturday afternoon with six shutout innings in a win against the struggling Boston Red Sox. So who starts Game 4? Bartolo Colon? A.J. Burnett? CC Sabathia on 3 days rest?

Colon has allowed five or more earned runs in four of his last seven starts. He's been particularly bad in his last two starts; he allowed six earned runs in four innings against Tampa Bay (after eight days off) and followed that up with a seven run (five earned) outburst in three innings against Toronto.

Burnett's been miserable the entire second half with a couple of sprinkles of decent thrown in. In a word: non-trustworthy.

So that means CC Sabathia on three days rest for Game 4; something the big guy hasn't had a problem with in the past. There's no question that Sabathia hasn't been as sharp in the second half as was in the first. Some blame coming back from not one, but two rain delays in the same game, while others point to the use of a six man rotation. Whatever the reason, the Yankees will need Sabathia to be on top of his game if they are to make any kind of a run this post-season. Which means he'll likely be the Game 4 starter with Nova, on regular rest, starting the "if necessary" Game 5.

Detroit's Jim Leyland has made it easy. He has steadfastly said that his ace and the sure winner of the AL Cy Young, Justin Verlander, will not be brought back on three days rest. That means Verlander in Games 1 and 5, Doug Fister in Game 2, Max Scherzer in Game 3, and Rick Porcello in Game 4.

The Texas Rangers will use C.J. Wilson to start things off, but then Ron Washington has some decisions to make. It's likely he'll call on left-handers in the first three games with Derek Holland and Matt Harrison pitching Games 2 and 3 (possibly in the reverse order). If Washington doesn't want to go with Wilson on three day's rest, he'll choose from right-handers Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando. Lewis is the likely choice with the way Ogando has struggled in the second half. Washington could also mix things up by starting Lewis in Game 2 since his numbers are much better on the road than at home. Ogando, meanwhile, will move to the pen where he was outstanding in 2010.

If Boston holds on to the wild card, they are two games ahead of Tampa Bay after Saturday's play, Josh Beckett goes in Games 1 and 5, followed by Jon Lester. John Lackey is likely to be the number three starter with Erik Bedard in Game 4. Tim Wakefield will step in if any of the starters have a physical issue.

Terry Francona has to be worried about the normally reliable Lester, who is 0-3 in his last three starts with 18 earned runs allowed in just 13.2 innings pitched. In years past Beckett would have gone on three days rest in Game 4, but with his back issues that is not a scenario Boston can/should use.

The Outsiders

If Tampa Bay does ease Boston out of the final spot, David Price, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson are likely to get the five starts. It all depends, of course, on if the final playoff spot comes down to the final day. If Tampa Bay needs a fourth starter, they'll go to Jeff Niemann. If Niemann's back isn't healthy, than Wade Davis will get the nod.

The easiest thing for any team do is just go out and win three straight and then we don't have to all worry about who is pitching when.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Posada's Pinch Is A Clinch

He's had a miserable season. Benched, pinch-hit for, his position taken away from; publicly humiliated, some of it caused by his own actions. But through it all Jorge Posada never gave up and Wednesday night he was rewarded. Posada snapped a 2-2 tie with a bases loaded single in the bottom of the 8th to give the Yankees a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays that enabled them to clinch the AL East.

Posada wasn't the only one dissed this season. The entire Yankees squad was dissed as it seemed 99% of the media picked the Boston Red Sox to win the division. But as Boston lost Wednesday night for the 14th time in 18 games, the Yankees knocked off the Rays for the third straight game, actually helping Boston out in the process. The Red Sox remained 2.5 games ahead of Tampa Bay in the wild card race, though the LA Angels are also back in the mix, just 2.5 back as well.

CC Sabathia hoped to earn his 20th win tonight and now will likely stay at 19 since his scheduled start on Monday will be a short one with Game 1 of the ALDS scheduled for Friday. Sabathia threw 127 pitches, but was pulled with one out in the top of the 8th after he walked Evan Longoria to load the bases. Sabathia got a no decision when David Robertson came on and induced an inning ending double play ball from Ben Zobrist.

With one out in the bottom of the 8th, pinch-hitter Nick Swisher hustled his way to a double when he dropped a fly in left-center field. Lefty Jake McGee retired Curtis Granderson on a shallow fly for the second out and then Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to mix and match. Right-hander Juan Cruz walked Mark Teixeira though and then after lefty Cesar Ramos couldn't get Robinson Cano to chase a pitch out of the zone, Maddon ordered an intentional walk to Cano to load the bases.

With righty Jesus Montero due up, Maddon went to the pen again for right-hander Brandon Gomes. That's when Girardi opted to pinch-hit Posada for the player who not that long ago seemed like a lock to play ahead of Posada in the post-season. Posada, who later admitted to Kim Jones that he thought it was the 9th inning, hit a rope to right to score pinch-runner Greg Golson and Teixeira to take the lead.

With Mariano Rivera unavailable after pitching in the day porition of the day-night twinbill, Rafael Soriano came on in the 9th for the save. He allowed a two out single to Casey Kotchman, but struck out Matt Joyce to end it.


After watching fellow rookie Ivan Nova toss a gem on Tuesday night, Rays rookie Jeremy Hellickson tossed a great game of his own. He limited the Yankees to just two runs and two hits over seven innings and lowered his ERA to 2.90.

The Yankees held a 2-1 lead on Robinson Cano's 27th home run and an a DP grounder by Jesus Montero that plated a run, but CC Sabathia allowed a solo home run to Sean Rodriguez in the 7th inning to tie the game.

Cano Pulls Up The Sox

It has to be painful for Boston Red Sox fans right now. Not only has their team been in a tremendous slump for weeks, but now they have to root for the Yankees as well. And so far, the Yankees have done right by their rivals to the north. Robinson Cano delivered the game winning 2-run double this afternoon as the Yankees rallied late to top the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 in the first of a day-night doubleheader. The win assured the Yankees of a post-season appearance for the 16th time in 17 years.

The victory came on the heels of last night's excellent performance by Ivan Nova (16-4) in a 5-0 white washing of the Rays and dropped Tampa Bay 2.5 games behind Boston in the AL Wild Card. The Yankees,can thank their bullpen for giving them a chance to win this afternoon.

Starter Phil Hughes was scratched due to back spasms and was replaced by Hector Noesi. The rookie last just two plus innings and allowed a 2-run home run to fellow newbie Desmond Jennings to put the Yankees in a 2-1 hole. But as Rays starter James Shields was putting up goose eggs on the scoreboard, the Yankees pen was matching him. Raul Valdes, George Kontos, Aaron Laffey, Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Luis Ayala (2-2), and Mariano Rivera scattered five hits and one walk over the final 6.1 innings.

Meanwhile Shields dominated a Yankees lineup that had no Curtis Granderson or Mark Teixeira in it. Held to just four hits through seven innings, New York tied it up when Eduardo Nunez led off the 8th with his 5th home run of the season. When Brett Gardner followed with a single and Derek Jeter walked, Rays manager Joe Maddon went to lefty J.P. Howell to face Cano. But Cano, who entered the game hitting .318 against southpaws, smashed a pitch to the base of the wall in center to score both runners. Mariano Rivera then picked up save #603 with a 1-2-3 9th inning.

- - -

Getting back to Nova's game last night. No other Yankees starter, besides CC Sabathia, would have been given the opportunity to escape the 7th inning, bases loaded no out jam in last night's ball game. It showed the tremendous trust that manager Joe Girardi has in his rookie starter. Nova retired Desmond Jennings on a fly to shallow left-center and got B.J. Upton to hit into an inning ending double play.

Nova, who leads all rookies in wins, has won his last 12 decisions. He's the 5th Yankees pitcher to go 12-0 over a 15 game span, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The others are Whitey Ford, Lefty Gomez, Ron Guidry, and Roger Clemens.

The Yankees stranded 18 runners on Tuesday night; the most since they left 20 on base in 1956.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Yankees Rally, Rivera Ties Hoffman

With Bartolo Colon battered by the Toronto Blue Jays' hitters, it didn't appear any monumental records would be tied this afternoon's game between the Yankees and Toronto. But the Yankees slumbering bats woke up to give the team a 7-6 lead entering the bottom of the 9th. That's all Mariano Rivera would need as he retired the side in order to earn his 42nd save of the season and number 601 for his career, tying Trevor Hoffman for the all time record.

Rivera can thank Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson most of all for the opportunity to enter Saturday's game with a lead. Down 6-1 in the 6th inning, the Yankees had already put a second run on the board when A-Rod came to the plate with two men on base. He promptly turned on an inside fastball from rookie Henderson Alvarez and drilled it over the left field fence to cut Toronto's lead to a single run.

After Aaron Laffey (3-2) held Toronto in check in the bottom of the inning, the Yankees went back to work in the 7th. Derek Jeter beat out an infielder grounder to start off the inning and Granderson then did battle with reliever Carlos Villanueva. After fouling off several 2-2 pitches, Granderson hit a pitch low in the zone and sent it over the fence in centerfield for his 40th home run of the season and the Yankees first lead of the day.

The Yankees pen made it stand up; after Scott Proctor and Laffey, Hector Noesi tossed a scoreless 7th and Rafael Soriano came on in the 8th to strike out the side for the second straight game. That left it all up to Rivera who was entering his 60th game for the 14th time in his career. He struck out Colby Rasmus looking, got Brett Lawrie on a ground out, and finished the save off when he retired pinch-hitter Eric Thames on a fly out to Granderson in center.


Alex Rodriguez's home run was the 629th of his career and his first since September 4.

Bartolo Colon's four inning start was his shortest outing since he lasted just 4.2 innings against Boston on August 5.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Burnett Throw Seattle A Curve

Admit it, you do it too. You see A.J. Burnett is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees and you start making alternate plans. Those plans can kick in before the game starts or some time after the first pitch. You're not alone though. Last night my wife and I watched the season premiere of Parenthood on NBC. That's a show that comes on at 10 PM EDT...the same time as the Yankees first pitch for their west coast road game in Seattle.
I checked out what was going on during the commercials and put the game on after the show since it was a still a reasonable game. In fact the Yankees were up 2-1. But Burnett was struggling and then he appeared to be hurting. Flinching, flexing his shoulder until final Joe Girard,i accompanied by trainer Gene Monahan, made a trip to the mound. I fully expected Burnett to be pulled, but the trip was brief. Burnett said he was ok and Girardi and Geno departed.

Then something funny happened. Burnett beared down and started throwing a nasty hook that fooled one Mariner after another until Burnett had struck out a season high 11 hitters. At the end of the night the Yankees had a 3-2 win and a three game winning streak. The icing on the cake came when Mariano Rivera earned his 600th career save with a scoreless 9th inning. Rivera joins Trevor Hoffman as the only two pitchers to reach the 600 mark and Rivera is now just one save behind Hoffman for the all-time record.

The Yankees gave Burnett an early lead with a pair of runs in the 2nd inning. Robinson Cano got the Yankees on the board with his 26th home run of the season off of Mariners starter Charlie Furbush. Jesus Montero followed with a single and Andruw Jones moved him to third base with a double. One out later Furbush wild pitched Montero home for the 2-0 advantage. The Mariners immediately got one back on a 2-out Brendan Ryan single in the bottom of the 2nd.

Seattle tied the game in Burnett's flinching, troublesome 4th inning after they loaded the bases with a double, walk, a hit batsman. But Burnett held Seattle to just a run on a Miguel Olivo sacrifice fly and then, after a wild pitch moved both base runners into scoring position, struck out Adam Kennedy to keep the game tied.

The Yankees took the lead in the 6th when Nick Swisher doubled and Mark Teixeira singled to put runners on the corners with no one out. Cano then hit a potential double play grounder, but Seattle was only able to get one out as Swisher scored for a 3-2 lead.


It was an up and down night for Jesus Montero; he had two hits, but after a double, was doubled off second base on a line drive hit in front of him. Chalk it up to a rookie mistake, which makes you wonder what Robinson Cano was thinking when he got doubled off first base after forgetting how many outs there were.

A.J. Burnett has a 4.15 ERA in September after posting an ERA over 11 in August.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Yankees Overthrow The King

The Seattle Mariners have a promotion this season for the fans of star pitcher "King" Felix Hernandez. Those who join the King's Court get tickets, t-shirts, and other promotional items. Last night the Court was in full voice in support of their "monarch", but the Yankees dethroned the King in a 9-3 New York victory.

Mark Teixeira belted a solo home run (his 37th) and Chris Dickerson added a 2-run shot as the Yankees scored five runs in the 4th inning to take command of the ball game. Robinson Cano put the game on ice with a 3-run double in the 7th. The run support was more than enough for winning pitcher Phil Hughes to even his record up at 5-5. Hughes allowed one earned run and five hits over six innings as he outpitched last year's AL Cy Young Award winner.

Hernandez had dominated the Yankees in the past, posting a 6-3, 2.82 record in 10 career starts. It looked like it was going to be another long night for the Yankees against Hernandez when the right-hander retired the first six hitters he faced, but Brett Gardner and Chris Dickerson led off the 3rd inning with back to back singles to put runners on the corners. With one down, Dickerson stole second base and Derek Jeter brought Gardner home with a ground out. Seattle used some speed in the bottom of the 3rd to tie things up.

Brendan Ryan reached on a single and swiped second. With two outs and first base open the Yankees elected to pitch to Ichiro Suzuki instead of rookie Kyle Seager, and Suzuki made them pay with an RBI single. The Yankees took control immediately in the 4th when Teixeira went deep to right. Cano followed with a double and moved to third on Nick Swisher's bloop single.

Eric Chavez put the Yankees ahead for good with a sacrifice fly and Gardner followed with a ribbie double. Dickerson then blasted his 1st home run of the season for a 6-1 Yankees lead.

The Mariners tried to come right back by putting two aboard with two outs in the bottom of the inning, but Hughes got Trayvan Robinson to fly out to Gardner in left for the final out of the inning. The situation was repeated in the 6th and final inning for Hughes, with Robinson again flying out to strand two runners.


One day after making his Major League Debut, Austin Romine made his first Major League start, collected his first big league hit, and scored his first run. With Russell Martin probably out at least one more day and Francisco Cervelli suffering from a concussion, the Yankees lineup will include both Jesus Montero and/or Austin Romine for the foreseeable future.

Scott Proctor allowed a 2-run home run to Miguel Olivo in two innings of work and has a 6.75 ERA since rejoining the Yankees.

Alex Rodriguez is expected to sit out until the weekend due to his badly bruised thumb.

Nick Swisher returned to the lineup with his inflammed left elbow, but was used as the first baseman to cut down on throws he had to make. Mark Teixeira DH'ed.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jeff Mathis, Yankee Killer

Jeff Mathis is a professional catcher. Jeff Mathis is not a professional hitter...except when he plays the New York Yankees.

Though his career OPS against NY is actually lower (.547) than his overall career OPS (.564), Mathis has 16 RBI in 30 games against the Yankees. Three more of them came last night when Mathis broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double and then broke the game open with a 2-run home run in the 7th as the Angels beat the Yankees 6-0.

LA has already taken the series by winning the first two of the three game set and are just 1.5 games behind Texas in the AL West. Meanwhile, the Yankees have dropped four straight, but remain 2.5 in front of Boston, which lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

After managing just three hits and one run against Jeff Weaver and Jordan Walden on Friday night, the Yankees managed just four hits off of Dan Haren, who tossed a complete game for his 15th win. CC Sabathia struggled through six innings, but allowed just one run in seeing his record drop to 19-8.

A Decade Later

It's hard to imagine that a decade has past. 10 years? How is that possible? 2001 was a tumultuous year in my life, in both good and bad ways. My Mom passed away; I got married; other friends and parents lost parents that year too. It was a very emotional time. And then September 11th came along.

My wife and I, and our Beagle Virginia had just come back from vacation in Cape Cod on Saturday the 8th. I was working from home that year, a great fringe benefit the company I worked for provided for those of us with long commutes to work. So I was home on that fateful Tuesday, sitting at my computer working when I received an email from a friend. A plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I repeated what I read to my wife and we put the television on, not having any idea of the scope of what was to take place.

Moments before we put the TV on, the second plane crashed in the north tower. Two planes, two towers, two "no-accidents". It was instantly chilling and terrifying as we watched things unfold. It was clear that something earth shattering was taking place and our world would never be the same. We were sat that there transfixed, not fully grasping what was going on, especially since no one at the news stations knew either. Then the horrible news came that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. My wife had held it together until that point, but that was the final straw. We held each other tight in our joint terror. When United 93 crashed in a Pennsylvania field all we could think of was, "Where next?"

I don't have to play out the rest of the day for you, you all remember what it was like. At one point, after hours of being glued to the TV, we took the dog for a walk. It was a beautiful day out; a cloudless,sunny day with comfortable temperatures. To this day, when the weather is the same as it was that day, I think about 9/11. I try not to, but I can't help it.

This year things will be a little odd on 9/11. We'll be returning home from another trip and will pass the Pentagon. It will be eerie. I'm sure plenty of people will be glued to the TV on the 10th anniversary, watching retrospectives and remembering back, but I don't plan to watch any of it. I remember it. The terror, the tears, the fear, and the death. The devastation on the faces of the people that lost loved ones. The grime covered civilians trying to get out of the area. The rescue workers bravely risking their own lives in attempt to save lives.

There are some that want 9/11 to be a national holiday with all business and government agencies closed, but I disagree. To me it's giant middle finger to terrorists to go about our daily lives on each 9/11. We should take time out toreflect back on what happened that day, and then go about our usual business as if it were any other day.

You hurt us deeply, but you will not stop us.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Does Joe Girardi Want To Win The Division?

I know more than anyone you need to rest your big guns out of the bullpen, but it seems of late that Joe Girardi is going to lesser in pitchers in high leverage situations (yes that was me actually using a metrics term).

It would seem the Red Sox skid of eight losses in 10 games is influencing how Girardi uses his pen. The Yankees lineup is short and got shorter tonight with injuries, so the games are tight and the Yankees have lost three of them in a row. Scott Proctor, Aaron Laffey, and Luis Ayala combined to lose the latter two. Saturday night down 1-0 in the 7th, Girardi went to Hector Noesi, who has really struggled of late. Moments later it was a 3-0 deficit.

Make that 5-0...Jeff Mathis who can't hit anyone, except the Yankees, just hit a 2-run home run off Noesi.

Go for the division Joe, don't try to back into it.

You Can't Predict Baseball, But You Can Predict John Sterling

Seriously...whoever buys the radio rights next year, Sterling needs to go. You can find a minimum 2-3 screw ups per game now (as in Saturday night's game vs. the Angels). It seems most of it is tied to eye sight or bad eye sight.

His shtick is old, his home run calls are beyond corny, and it's just not a fun listen.

On another note - due to injuries to Francisco Cervelli (concussion symptoms) and Russell Martin (which occurred during the game), Jorge Posada caught his first game of the year. The Angels immediately tested him (on the first pitch), but Posada threw out Howie Kendrick attempting to steal second base.

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Last Licks Really Hurt Me

The Yankees are on a roll right now and it's not a good one. Dominated by Jered Weaver, the Yankees managed just three hits against the LA Angels and lost in the bottom of the 9th 2-1. It made the three straight losses for NY, all of them in the opponent's final at-bat.

Jesus Montero's third home run of the season provided the Yankees with their only run and Montero was also the only Yankee to reach second base off of Weaver, who struck out 11. The Angels tied the game when a Derek Jeter error led to an unearned run off Bartolo Colon (7 IP), who had his best start of the second half.

But after David Robertson tossed a scoreless 8th inning, Joe Girardi went to the back end/mop up/garbage part of the bullpen. Aaron Laffey allowed a lead off single to Alberto Callaspo and was pulled in favor of Luis Ayala. The veteran right-hander gave up a single to Vernon Wells and then hit Peter Bourjos to load the bases. Maicer Izturis delivered a pinch-hit sac fly to center to score pinch-runner Jeremy Moore with the game winner.

With the Yankees losses to the Orioles on Wednesday and Thursday in extra innings by identical 5-4 scores, the Bombers have a three game losing streak. But the AL East still remains a 2.5 game lead with Boston having also lost three straight and seven of nine (no, not THAT seven of nine).

The Yankees managed just a walk off Weaver in the first two innings before Montero started off the third with his third home run of the season. After going 0-4 in his debut, the Yankees top prospect is 7-16 (.438) with three home runs and six RBI, all of which have come in the last three games. The only other hits the Yankees managed were a Robinson Cano single in the 4th and a Derek Jeter single in the 7th. Alex Rodriguez drew a one out walk in the 9th off closer Jordan Walden, but pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez was thrown out attempting to steal second base.

Colon scattered six hits, walked just one, and struck out five in the no-decision. Bourjos reached against him with out in the 5th with a bunt single and Jeff Mathis reached on Jeter's throwing error. Colon got Erick Aybar on a fielder's choice, but Howie Kendrick singled to tie the game.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What Jesus Did Do

New York Yankees fans have been waiting for Jesus Montero's arrival for some time. He made his Yankee Stadium debut this past Saturday, but this afternoon is when he arrived. Montero hit a go ahead solo home run in the 5th and added a 2-run home run in the 7th that proved to be the difference in an 11-10 Yankees win.

Montero hit his first Major League home run off of Orioles reliever Jim Johnson (5-5) into the seats in right-center and took a curtain call when the Yankee Stadium crowd beckoned. His second home run came with a man aboard wasn't far from the landing spot of his first one. Montero wasn't alone in having a big day though as the two teams used 12 pitchers.

Orioles' starter Brian Matusz lasted only in 1.1 innings and was charged with five runs while Yankees' starter Freddy Garcia didn't fare any better, allowing seven runs in 2.2 innings. Reliever Aaron Laffey picked up his first win with .2 scoreless innings. Mariano Rivera notched his 38th save, but it didn't come easy either. He allowed a run on two hits and hit a batter before he struck out J.J. Hardy with two on and two out to end the game.

The Orioles had 1-0 and 5-2 leads, but Curtis Granderson's 2-run double cut the lead to 5-4 and Robinson Cano capped the 2nd inning with his seventh career grand slam for an 8-5 Yankees lead. But Mark Reynolds smacked a 2-run home run off Garcia and Robert Andino welcomed Scott Proctor back to Yankee Stadium with a game tyng solo home run in the top of the 5th.

But then Jesus Montero rose to the occassion and, Yankees fans hope, a star was born.


Nick Markakis (15) and Mark Teixeira (36) each hit home runs in the 1st inning.

The Yes Network's Jack Curry tweeted this afternoon that the Yankees are considering promoting prospect Dellin Betances to add depth to the pitching staff.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nova Pitches Yankees Into First Place

Ivan Nova
started out Friday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays with a lead off walk followed by a pair of singles. A sacrifice fly later and the Yankees were down 2-0. But Brett Gardner made two fine catches to end the inning and Nova only allowed one hit over the next six innings as the Yankees rallied for a 3-2 win. The victory combined with Boston's loss to Texas moved the Yankees into sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Nova became the first Yankees rookie pitcher to win 15 games since Stan Bahnsen won 17 in his freshman campaign in 1968. (Hopefully the Yankees won't foolishly trade him away as they did Bahnsen for the lowly Rich McKinney.)

Gardner not only made the big plays on defense, but also smacked a 2-run home run off of Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow to tie the game at 2-2 in the 3rd. The Yankees took the lead for good in the fifth after Morrow retired the first two hitters. Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson drew a free pass. Robinson Cano, as he has done all season, delivered in the clutch with an RBI single for the 3-2 lead.

Nova cruised through the 7th on 97 pitches before Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera closed out the win. Rivera picked up his 37th save with a 1-2-3 9th inning.