Friday, September 28, 2012

The Sky is Crying

Me and My Girl in happier times

There aren't many things/activities I love more than watching the Yankees, but my family always comes first. And when I say family, I of course include our two Beagles, Virginia and Tinker.  Virginia was my couch partner during many a Yankees game, laying next to me as I petted her and cheered as Derek Jeter got one hit after another.

Our world totally changed this week and that's why I haven't seen much of the Yankees since last week. Yesterday was one of the saddest days of my life as we said goodbye to our Beagle girl Virginia. She was hospitalized with pancreatitis last Friday and was already suffering from kidney disease. She had been pretty stable until then, but she came home Tuesday in a very weakened state.

She didn't really want to eat so we syringe fed her to make sure she was getting enough nutrients and we loved her up as we always did. She could barely walk, but we figured she would regain her strength with some time. She had been standing with no problem as of Saturday night.

Wednesday night, however, my wife noticed something was glistening between the toes of her left foot and then we saw it was on her right foot as well. Thanks to a knowledgeable friend we discovered they were interdigital cysts. They looked nasty and by morning both had burst. We knew we had to get her to our local vet for some antibiotics and to get them cleaned up. We thought she would be coming home with us.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. Both her back feet were swollen with lymphedema and so was one ankle. She always had "dainty" legs and feet as a friend described her.  Now her feet looked like those of a larger breed dog. She was running a fever; her body clearly couldn't take any more. Talking to the vet and each other, we knew we had come to a point we never wanted to reach- decision time.

My wife and I had made a pact with each other and with Virginia that we would never let her suffer just so that she would be here with us.  I remember many years ago saying to someone that I would never want to be in the room when my pet was put to sleep. But I was there yesterday; kissing her, petting her as she compassionately passed from this world to another. My wife and I bawled our eyes out before, during, after, and will continue to do so for some time to come.

Virginia was the most beautiful Beagle we had ever seen. She was a surprise birthday present in 2000 from me to my wife, who had a Beagle growing up and loved the breed.  Virginia was a little over a year old when we got her from a Beagle rescue and we had her for 12-1/2 years.  She was very smart, very impish, and the queen of the castle.  She was an unbelievably fast runner and could jump incredibly high.

Her brother Tinker, whom we adopted four years after Virginia, adored his big sister. She was the straw that stirred the drink. So far we haven't noticed if it has affected him, but when Virginia was hospitalized in March, Tinker was completely depressed the entire time she was gone. He's normally a very active, lively dog and he was just not himself.

This is a pain that will last a lifetime and will take quite a long time to adjust to. Our dogs go everywhere with us, including on vacation. My Dad, brother, and sister consider our duo their dogs as well since they always got to spend vacation time with them on the beach. In fact, my Dad and brother were just recently in for a visit and got to spend time with them.

Virginia was a joy from the day we got her, even when we had to take her out at all different times of the night until she got used to a routine. At first, she was very timid, afraid of other dogs, and would constantly look back behind her as we walked (it was a little unnerving at first).

But we took her for training and socialized her and she blossomed. She learned how to play with dogs in the neighborhood and made up her own games ("nose hockey" with a food cube and "pick up and drop" with a treat filled marrow bone.)

When she was young she chewed the brim off my fitted Yankees hat, making it look like a Yankees yarmulke.  She chewed through two laptop plugs (the thin portions), which made for some awkward work conversations. ("I don't know what happened! This one just split too!")  She also messed up a suit jacket of mine...and you know what, I didn't care in any of these cases. They could all be replaced. Even if they couldn't have been, she could never be replaced.

When we got Tinker in 2004, she was like "who is this?", but she tolerated him. Never complained when he would constantly lick her ears, eyes, and face. They would wrestle a little until Tinker's back injury in 2005 ended that.  And Tinker was totally in love with her. Whatever she did, wherever she was, that's what he wanted to be doing and where he wanted to be. If he bothered her too much, she would do an "air bite" at him to tell him to back off or she would just jump on the couch or futon to get away from him.

Last year, VA, as we called her (among many, many nicknames), showed signs of a liver issue. Her test numbers had elevated year by year. Then in December, tests revealed she was in kidney failure. Unfortunately, with kidney failure, it's not discovered until significant function has been compromised.

After seeing a pet nutritionist, we put her on a special diet, and until March she was very happy eating dark  meat chicken and sweet potatoes. Then suddenly she didn't want to eat. Her numbers had gotten very elevated and we took her back to the specialist. They put her on IV fluids to "re-boot" her kidneys and it worked.

Then came the adventure of trying to figure out what she would eat. You're not used to a Beagle being finicky, they normally eat anything and everything. But then it was: "You don't want this? How about this? But you ate this yesterday." Meals became eclectic; liverwurst, chicken sausage, tripe (disgusting), regular dog food, rotisserie chicken, ground beef, cat food (dry and wet), pineapple, pretzel chips, cantaloupe, "doggie" Ensure. Whatever she wanted, she got.

And she had to get several meds a day, including Aluminum Hydroxide, which had the consistency of snot and probably didn't taste much better. But she was a trouper all the way and always stoic at the vet (though she trembled like crazy until she got into the exam room).

Virginia always suffered from raging separation anxiety and we had adjusted our lives around it. It got better when we got Tinker, but it was always part of her persona. Months ago when we had gone out, we took a video and laughed to learn that she was standing on the coffee table, barking.

She broke into refrigerators (which once led to a very "barfy" night) to the point where we had to put a child safety latch on our fridge. (Our initial reaction was to block the fridge door by moving the recliner into the kitchen).

She loved to lay on the beach. While Tinker was reactive to other dogs, Virginia would lay down, sometimes on my brother's shoes or bag, and snored within two seconds.

She was great in the car, never got sick once. She would get in her crate and go right to sleep, while Tinker whined and said "are we there yet?"

I could write/talk about her forever. I miss her so much. Our hearts are broken; we'll be sad for some time, but we will always have her love and memories in our hearts and will never, ever forget her.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beer Here, Screwed There

If you have ever had the pleasure, mmm, luxury..mmm..good fortune of sitting in the Legends Seats, you can order up some over-priced food and have it delivered with a 20% service charge.

You're thinking tip money for the waiters/waitresses right? Well you would be wrong. 32 of the wait staff is suing the Yankees for unpaid tips. (perhaps the money is helping to pay A-Rod's contract)

You can get all the details from Yahoo's Jay Busbee by clicking here.

YCN: Pettitte's 5 Biggest Win as a Yankee

Andy Pettitte was solid as ever for the Yankees Monday night, a 6-3 Yankees victory over the Twins. But are the 5 greatest wins by Pettitte in a Yankees uniform?

That's the latest Yahoo piece I wrote up.  Please check it out for free by clicking here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

E-3, Thank You Very Much

Eduardo Nunez, Pinball Wizard

The Yankees-Oakland A's series this weekend has been an exciting (agita) one. Friday night's series opener saw a great pitcher's duel between CC Sabathia and Jarrod Parker that the Yankees won in extras after Rafael Soriano blew the Yankees lead in the 9th.

Saturday went a few steps further; pitching was pretty mediocre, fielding even worse (by the A's), but when it was all over that word "improbable" was being bandied about again. Hey, I even got to use the word "bandied". In the end the Yankees pulled out an "improbable" 10-9 victory in 14 innings.

The Yankees had to go to Freddy Garcia for a 4th inning of relief due to a shortened bullpen (neither Soriano or David Robertson was available). Using Garcia for that length of time is like juggling sticks of dynamite. You know that eventually it's going to go off. Just ask Arzt - "Dude, you've got some Arzt on you".

The 13th inning is when things blew up for the Yankees. Garcia gave up a 2-run home run to Jonny Gomes (who really looks like he should be a professional wrestler) and followed that up by throwing a meatball to Yoenis Cespedes for a solo home run. Back-to-back and belly-to-belly is not so much fun when it's the other team.

Joe Girardi then went to a Red Sox castoff, you notice these guys never pitch well?, Justin Thomas who gave up a solo bomb to Chris Carter for a 9-5 A's lead. With the day game turning into a night game there weren't too many people left watching for an improbable victory. For shame, for what they missed out.

A's skipper Bob Melvin went to his 7th pitcher, Pedro Figueroa, to start the bottom half of the 13th. No relation to Ed Figueroa, as far as I know, the A's reliever surrendered singles to Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano to load the bases with no one out. John Sterling ran another ad for "this call to the bullpen..." and Pat Neshek came on.

The one time highly regarded Minnesota Twins product immediately threw a wild pitch to cut the lead to 9-6. Eduardo Nunez followed with a sac fly that halved the deficit and brought Raul Ibanez to the plate as the tying run. Ibanez had delivered a pinch-hit home run earlier in the game, his first long ball since August 5. It wasn't hist last of the day. The veteran of 17 seasons smashed Neshek's side winder into the right field seats to tie the game at 9 apiece. What was left of the crowd went bananas...or maybe that's because liquor had been cut out six innings earlier.

Corey Wade tossed a perfect 14th to set the stage for a walk off, well more of a stumble off, victory.  Tyson Ross replaced Neshek and gave up a lead off single to Eric Chavez. Derek Jeter sacrificed pinch-runner Melky Mesa (who ever though not one, but two Melky's would play in the Majors.), which led to an intentional walk to Ichiro.

A-Rod ripped a line drive to center that was hit too hard to score Mesa, but the bases were loaded with just one out. That quickly became two outs when Cano weak grounder to the right side was fielded by Ross, who got the force out at home. But the A's, who already had two errors, thrown three wild pitches, balked, and hit a batter, were happy to oblige once more.  Nunez hit a sharp grounder that ricocheted off first baseman Branon Moss for the A's third error of the day and enabled Mesa to score the game winner, the Yankees seventh straight victory.


According to the Elias Sports Bureau, and thank you to's Jeff Bradley, the Yankees came back from a 4-run deficit in extra innings and won for just the second time in franchise history. The firs time was back on September 17, 1980 against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Derek Jeter's 1-7 performance extended his hitting streak to 16 games, but it is now unlike the captain can catch Miguel Cabrera for the batting lead. Jeter dropped to .321 while Cabrera's 1-4 performance left him at .332. Mike Trout is in between at .325.

Steve Pearce did his best Mark Teixeira imitation yesterday, making a pair of diving stabs to save the game.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Martin's Big Bang Theory Gets Soriano Off The Hook

Russell Martin game winner (courtesy of Yahoo Sports)

CC Sathabia was doing what everyone is accustomed to CC Sabathia doing, mowing down hitters. It had been a while since anyone had seen the big man pitch like he always did prior to this season. One Oakland Athletic went down on strikes after another, 11 in all. Unfortunately, the Yankees couldn't do much against Oakland starter Jarrod Parker, and had just a 1-0 lead when Sabathia exited after 113 pitches and eight innings.

Good news, bad news...Rafael Soriano came on in the 9th inning for the save, but surrendered a mile high home run to Brandon Moss to tie the game at one apiece. Wait, that's actually bad news, good news. Though Sabathia didn't get to enjoy the fruits of his labor, the Yankees won the game in 10 innings when Russell Martin turned on a Sean Dolittle fastball and hit it into the left field seats for a 2-1 game winning, walk off home run. Sean do little, but Russell did lots.

Martin's best month has been September; he's matched his season high for home runs in a month (4), has produced his top RBI total (12), best batting average (.255, still not so hot) and OPS (.896, nice). David Robertson was the recipient of Martin's big hit after he pitched a scoreless 10th inning to improve to 2-7.

Though he didn't figure in the decision, it was encouraging to see Sabathia complete eight full innings for the first time since August 3. I was upset that Joe Girardi didn't let him start the 9th, especially after Soriano served up his gopher ball, but reconsidered after I learned  Sabathia had thrown 113 pitches to that point. In the past I would have thought, 'no big deal', but there was no reason to tax Sabathia's questionable elbow.

The victory kept the Yankees a game ahead of Baltimore, which defeated Boston 4-2.


Ichiro Suzuki had hits his first two times up (he finished 2-3) to give him 11 hits in his last 15 at-bats.

Derek Jeter was 1-4 to extend his hitting streak to 15 games.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ichiro Rolls a 7, Yankees Sweep

All any Yankees fan talked about prior to Tuesday's rained out game with the Toronto Blue Jays and Wednesday's make up, was the return of Andy Pettitte. And though the Texan maneuvered his way through five shutout innings, all anyone talked about after the conclusion of the day-night doubleheader sweep of the Jays was the big day Ichiro Suzuki had.

The 38-yr old outfielder went 7-8, stole four bases, and knocked in the game winner in the night cap as the Yankees defeated Toronto 4-2 and 2-1. The Baltimore Orioles improved to 15-0 in extra innings with a 3-1 win over the Seattle Mariners in 11 innings, so the Yankees lead is back to a half-game over the O's in the AL East.

Suzuki was acquired at the trade deadline after hitting .261 with the Seattle Mariners, well below his career average. The Japanese native's average with the Yankees jumped from .288 to .317 after his big day. In the opener, Suzuki hit lead off, had three hits, and scored a pair of runs.

In the nightcap, hitting out of the eight-hole Suzuki snapped a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning. It completed a 4-4 game and gave him the chance to steal his fourth base of the game, which he did with no problem. He had stolen just six bases in his previous 51 games with New York.

The Yankees didn't know what to expect from Pettitte in the opener, other than the knowledge that he would compete. He had some early struggles, but managed to end the 5th inning on his 75th pitch, which is just where Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild wanted him to be. 46 of those pitches were for strikes and only three outs were recorded via a fly ball. Pettitte finished his day with nine ground outs and three strikeouts to improve to 4-3.

David Robertson got tagged for a pair of runs in the 8th inning that shaved the lead to 3-2, but Suzuki came through again, this time on defense. Rajai Davis ripped a bases loaded line drive to left off of Rafael Soriano, but Suzuki was there to snare it.

Girardi used six relievers in the opener so it was imperative that David Phelps give the Yankees some innings length in the night game. He did just that, with a 6.2 innings performance, and left with the game tied at one apiece. Phelps allowed just three hits, walked three, and struck out six.

Cody Eppley retired the only batter he faced to get his first win as a Yankee (1-2) and Soriano picked up another save, his 42nd of the season.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Yankees Battery Powers Past Tampa Bay

The Yankees best pitcher of the second half picked up his 14th win of the season and his catcher continued his mini-resurgence with his 17th home run of the year in the Yankees 6-4 defeat of the Tampa Bay Rays.  The loss dropped the Rays five games back in the AL East and four games behind Baltimore for the second wild card spot.

Hiroki Kuroda (14-10) was outstanding through the first five innings before he ran into trouble in the 6th inning, and the Yankees bullpen blanked the Rays over the final three innings.  Kuroda faced seven batters in the first two innings and struck out six of them. The only batter to make contact and put a ball in play was Ben Zobrist who doubled with one out in the 1st inning.

Kuroda ended his day with 10 K's, second only to his 11-strikeout performance against the Chicago White Sox on June 30. Kuroda's battery mate, Russell Martin, gave his partner a big boost when the Yankees got on the board with a five-run 3rd inning against Rays starter Matt Moore.

Eduardo Nunez, making another start at shortstop, drew a lead off walk and quickly stole second base. DH Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single to right to snap the scoreless tie. It was Jeter's 199th hit of the season and his only base knock of the day.

Jeter advanced to second base on the play and was sacrificed to third by the slumping Nick Swisher. Alex Rodriguez continued to swing a hot bat with an RBI single of his own for a 2-0 Yankees lead. Robinson Cano then walked and Martin deposited a pitch in the right field seats for a 5-0 advantage. Martin is one home run shy of his total from last season and two behind his career high of 19 that he established as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007.

Zobrist homered off Kuroda in the 4th to get the Rays on the board, but A-Rod quickly got the run back with a sac fly after Nunez reached on an error and stole second and third in the bottom of the inning.  A loss of Kuroda's control and an oblivious Yankees fan nearly cost the Yankees the lead in the 6th.

Kuroda walked Jonathan Lobaton to start the frame and Desmond Jennings followed with a single. Zobrist hit a foul pop on the right side that 1st baseman Steve Pearce had a chance to put away. The ball was about a row deep into the seats, but a leaping Pearce collided with a Yankees fan who was looking for a souvenir and the ball fell free. The fan apologized and Pearce was forgiving (clearly this was not a "Bartman" incident), but Kuroda proceeded to walk Zobrist to load the bases.

Evan Longoria took advantage of the opportunity with a two-run single that cut the Yankees lead in half. The Rays pushed another run across, but the Yankees traded it for the double play Matt Joyce hit into. With the score 6-4, Kuroda k'ed B.J. Upton, who had the Golden Sombrero on the day, to end the inning.

The Rays put two aboard with two out an inning later, but David Phelps struck out Jennings to escape the jam. The last gasp for the Rays came in the 9th when A-Rod made an error that brought the tying run to the plate. But Rafael Soriano picked up his 40th save when Jeff Keppinger bounced into an inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

The 2011 Nova Model Returns in the Nick of Time

It was just one start, but it was an encouraging one. Ivan Nova made his first start since being activated from the disabled list earlier in the week and spurred the Yankees to a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. The win, combined with a Baltimore loss to Oakland, but the Pinstripes back atop the AL East by themselves. The Rays fell four games back in the east and remained three back in the wild card.

The Yankees were counting heavily on Nova this year, especially after Michael Pineda went down before the start of the regular season, based on last season's 16-4 campaign. But Nova was erratic for most of the year before going on the DL August 23 with an inflamed right rotator cuff.

Saturday's game was a reminder of just how good Nova can be when he's healthy and hits his spots. His fastball had good velocity and his pitches darted around the strike zone. It helped that the Yankees gave him an early when Curtis Granderson smacked a 2-run shot off of Rays starter James Shields in the 2nd inning, and Eduardo Nunez followed with his first home run of the season.

Derek Jeter had just one hit on the day, but it produced a run in the 5th as Ichiro Suzuki scored from second base.  Suzuki had singled and put himself in scoring position by swiping second.

The Rays finally got to Nova in the 6th on an Evan Longoria solo home run and Joe Girardi pulled his starter when Jeff Keppinger led off the 7th with a single.(Girardi's move, and he's not alone in doing it, defies logic. If you're going to pull a pitcher if anyone gets on base, why let him start the inning at all? You might as well let the relief pitcher start out of a windup rather than the stretch position.)

The Yankees bullpen decided to make the game close; Boone Logan picked up a force out, but Ryan Roberts double to put two men in scoring position. Joba Chamberlain froze the runners on Sam Fuld's come backer, but pinch-hitter Luke Scott singled to right to cut the Yankees lead to 4-3. Nova's final line showed two earned runs allowed in six innings with two walks and eight strikeout and just 85 pitches throwns (53 strikes. He won his 12th of the season and is 29-13 as a Yankee.

The Yankees got one back in the 8th when Robinson Cano doubled and scored on an Alex Rodriguez single and then it was up to Rafael Soriano to finish off the victory in the 9th. He did just that for his 39th save, but not before creating a little unecessary excitement.

Soriano allowed a one out single to Ben Francisco and walked Stephen Vogt (Vogt entered the game 0-17 on the season) with two down, but blew a high fastball past pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson for the final out.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Yankees Big Man Comes Up Small Again

"Maybe something is wrong with my elbow."

After Phil Hughes' gem in Boston last (I don't care if the Red Sox had fielded a little league team, shutting out the Red Sox in Fenway is a big accomplishment), the Yankees hoped to get a big boost from their big man, CC Sabathia.

But just like each of his previous starts since his return from the DL, Sabathia looked very ordinary. He blanked the Rays through four innings, but his fastball remained in the low 90's (he topped out at 93) and the Rays got to him their thrid time around in the order.

Steve Pearce's RBI single in the 2nd inning had given the Yankees a 1-0 lead, but Chris Gimenez started off the 5th with a double. The .183 career hitter entered the game 5-13 (.385) against the Yankees. Sabathia wild pitched Gimenez to 3rd base and proceeded to walk Carlos Pena.

Elliot Johnson and Desmond Jennings followed with RBI singles to give the Rays the lead for good, 2-1. Tampa Bay tacked on another run in the inning after another wild pitch and walk loaded the bases again. Sabathia got Even Longoria to bounce into a double play, but the Rays increased their lead to 3-1.

David Price, who improved to 18-4, gave up a run back in the bottom of the inning when Curtis Granderson belted his 38th home run of the year. The Yankees threatened for more when Eduardo Nunez and Derek Jeter, who DH'ed for the second straight night, reached on back to back singles. But Price got Nick Swisher to hit a weak fly ball  for the second out and Johnson made a diving stop in the hole between first and second to rob Alex Rodriguez of  an RBI single and end the inning.

Sabathia allowed another run in the 7th before he gave way to Cody Eppley.  The lefty's final line was 6.2 IP, 6 H 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K and he is 0-3, 4.67 in his last four starts.

B.J. Upton hit a solo home run off of Eppley in the 8th, but the Yankees didn't roll over. A-Rod hit a long 2-run home run off Joel Peralta in the bottom of the 8th. The Yankees continued to rally, but has been the case for most of the season, they came up short. Robinson Cano reached on a walk, which sent Joe Maddon to the bullpen for Fernando Rodney.

The Rays closer is having a career year and struck out Russell Martin on a pitch two feet out of the strike zone for the second out of the inning. Raul Ibanez worked a walk, but Granderson swung at Rodney's first delivery to squelch the comeback attempt.

Joba Chamberlain gave up an unearned run in the top of the 9th after Nunez let a ball go through his wickets (he had made two marvelous plays earlier in the game) and the Yankees went down in order in the 9th.  They went home not knowing if they still have a share of first place in the AL East as Baltimore and Oakland played late on the west coast.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Phelps Gets His Irish Up and Yankees Win

David Phelps didn't get too much notice when he attended the University of Notre Dame. After all, baseball took a backseat to football and both men and women's basketball. But since the start of the 2012 baseball season, plenty of people are paying attention to the former Fighting Irishmen.

Phelps bounced back from a pair of poor starts to limit the Boston Red Sox to one run in 5.2 innings pitched and the Yankees hung on for a 5-4 win at Fenway Park. The win kept the Yankees tied for first place in the AL East with Baltimore, which beat Tampa Bay for the second straight night.

The win didn't come without some rough moments, the most worrisome of which was when Derek Jeter had to leave the game after he lunged in attempt to beat out a play at first base and came up hobbled. After  the game, Jeter repeated that he "was fine" an

d "it's no big deal", and that he would not talk about the injury. The captain also insisted he'll be in the lineup for the series finale on Thursday.

The Yankees went back to their home run ways to take the lead in the 4th. With the game scoreless, Curtis Granderson parked his 36th home run over the wall in right for a 1-0 lead  against Aaron Cook and later in the inning Robinson Cano hit a two-run into the seats atop the Green Monster. The home run was the 30th of the year, a career high for the Yankees second basemen.

Granderson hit a second home run, this time with a man aboard, in the 7th inning to provide the margin of victory.  While Granderson's home run totals measure up to his terrific 2011, the center fielder is well below last year's RBI totals and his two strikeouts last night gave him a career high of 170 (one more than last season). The Yankees will put up with the K's if Granderson can continue to drive in runs as he did last night and on this past Sunday when he had five RBI in a victory against the O's.

Phelps held the Red Sox scoreless until the 4th inning when James Loney singled in Dustin Pedroia, but Phelps avoided further trouble by getting Cody Ross to bounce into an inning ending DP.

Another double play in the 6th proved to be crucial after Phelps allowed a two-out single to Pedroia. It ended the night for the 25-year old, who won his first game since August 13 and evened his record up at 4-4. The Red Sox didn't make it easy for the Yankees pen; they scored a pair of runs off Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, and Joba Chamberlain in the 7th, and Rafael Soriano gave up a solo home run to Jarrod Saltalmacchia in the 9th. Sotiano was nearly in more trouble when Daniel Nava's fly ball to left came within inches of scraping the Green Monster before it landed in Chris Dickerson's glove for the first out of the inning and Soriano went on to record his 37th save.


In a wild sequence in the 8th inning, home plate umpire  Alfonso Marquez tossed Cody Ross, Bobby Valentine and third base coach Jerry Royster from the ball game.  Ross struck out looking and argued the call, which led to the triple ejection sequence. Valentine got his money's worth in the argument that ensued and anyone who can read lips got an eyeful.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Yankees Can't Find Pulse in Boston

You've gotta have heart
All you really need is heart

The two lines above are the opening lines to "You Gotta Have Heart", one of the best known songs from the musical/movie, "Damn Yankees". It's the story of the hapless Washington Senators who are always falling well short of beating the big, bad Yankees.

Only these days it's the Yankees fans saying "Damn Yankees" at a team that seems to be playing with a lack of heart. You could hear and read a variety of cursing last night when the newest Yankee-killer, Pedro Ciriaco, slid across home plate with the winning run in Boston's 4-3 victory in the first of a three game series at Fenway Park.

David Robertson (1-7) had struck out the side in the 8th before Ciriaco pulled a one-out pitch, that was well of the strike zone, into left field for a base hit in the 9th. Mike Aviles then reached on an infield single that Derek Jeter tracked down in the hole between short and third, but had no play.

Jacoby Ellsbury delivered the only well hit ball of the inning, a base hit to right field, that scored the speedy Ciriaco just ahead of a strong throw from Ichiro Suzuki. The loss combined with a Baltimore win over Tampa Bay, put the Yankees back into a first place tie with the team that calls Camden Yards home.

As has been the case for weeks now, the game never should have been close. The Yankees had countless opportunities against Boston starter Jon Lester, who walked seven batters, but wasn't sent to the showers until Jeter's bloop ground-rule double to right gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the 6th inning.

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda put in a decent performance, but immediately gave up the lead when he surrendered Dustin Pedroia's 15th home run of the season in the bottom of the 6th.

The Yankees immediately threatened when Jeter started the game with a walk and Nick Swisher snapped out of his Oh-for-September with a double. But Alex Rodriguez's grounder to Ciriaco at third didn't advance the runners and when the Yankees did score it came as the result of another out- a Robinson Cano ground out.

Lester put himself in more trouble by walking Steve Pearce and Russell Martin to load the bases, but Curtis Granderson, who drove in five runs on Sunday, fouled out to end the threat.

Jayson Nix reached safely with a one out double in the 2nd inning, but was stranded. A-Rod and Cano started the 3rd with walks, but were stranded. Another lead off walk to Andruw Jones in the 4th inning produced nothing and Martin's two-out double an inning later added to the left-on-base total.

The Red Sox had taken a 2-1 lead in the 4th when Ciriaco led off with a double and scored two batters later on one of Ellsbury's four hits. After a stolen base, Pedroia delivered one of his three hits to put Boston ahead.

The Red Sox bullpen only allowed two base runners over the final three-plus innings, and one of those was erased when pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez was thrown out in the 9th on a stolen base attempt.


Joba Chamberlain had one of his best performances when he entered the 7th inning with the bases loaded and one out. He got pinch-hitter to bounce out into a force at home and retired Pedroia on a pop up to Jeter.

Boston closer Andrew Bailey, who missed most of the season, threw a scoreless 9th inning to record his first win of the year.

Ciriaco, who also made a couple of outstanding defensive plays, is now 17-35 (.486) against the Yankees with  an 1.157 OPS. The slim six-footer is hitting .265 (40-151) against the rest of baseball.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Crew Chief Mike Winters to Play Vegas

The NYDN's Mark Feinsand got the quote below from crew chief Mike Winters. It's one of the funniest things I've ever heard...okay, not really, but REALLY?

Aftermath of Blown Call Gets Blown Up

Where was this tonight?

There were a lot of unfortunates tonight down in Baltimore. Unfortunately, the Yankees lost. Unfortunately, CC Sabathia hit Nick Markakis with a pitch and the Orioles outfielder will be out six weeks with a broken thumb. Unfortunately, the Yankees blew offensive opportunities as they've been doing on a consistent basis.

Unfortunately, umpire Jerry Meals made a  terrible call which could heavily impact the Yankees playoff changes and lastly, and most unfortunately for the Yankees, Joe Girardi is being vilified for his actions immediately after said call.

First to the matter of the umpire, whose call will certainly get the call for expanded instant replay up and running again. Meals call was just plain awful and not the first bad call fans have seen him make. To quickly sum it up, Mark Teixeira, bounced into a game ending 4-6-3 DP with the tying and go ahead runs on base. He was clearly safe, his hands grasping first base before Mark Reynolds had ball in glove.

Meals didn't see it that way...clearly he didn't see shit. What we all did see was Teixeira half-slam his helmet on the ground as he rested on his knees in disgust and first base coach Mick Kelleher protest. And everyone saw Girardi not move out of the dugout until he finally flipped his gum and walked to the clubhouse.

That was mistake number one, Girardi should have been out on the field, backing his player and his team. Mistake number two, which was much more grave, came when Girardi got into heated "discussions" with members of the media.

Reportedly, Girardi had to be separated from the NY Post's Joel Sherman, who asked Girardi if he were lying about the health of CC Sabathia's arm.  Girardi's first year with the Yankees in 2008 did see him make mistakes in how he handled player's injuries with the press, but he learned from it and life went on. It was obnoxious for Sherman to ask the question, but Girardi needs to keep his temper in check.

This will all blow up now, because the metro area papers love a good story, especially the two NYC rags. This won't disappear in a day or even a week. Randy Levine, who for some reason thinks people want to know what he thinks, was to hold an impromptu conference call after the game, but weather issues stopped that from happening (at least for the time being).

Perhaps Girardi will pull an Earl Weaver and get tossed before tomorrow's game even starts, but by then it will be too late. Teixeira will likely miss the game due to his calf and could be fined after he ripped the umpires after the game. Russell Martin said he felt the Yankees were "cheated" out of the game. The game itself will be forgotten rather quickly, especially if the Yankees turn things around, but Girardi will have a difficult time with the media the rest of the way.

Poor Play, Worse Umpiring Cost Yankees

Less than 24 hours after we all reveled in Russell Martin's summer slumber break out, the Yankees slept walk their way to a 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

The Yankees wasted opportunities, starter CC Sabathia couldn't hold a 2-0 lead, Mark Reynolds hit another home run, and then to top things off, first base umpire Jerry Meals blew a call that could eventually cost the Yankees a playoff spot.

Down two in the 9th inning, the Yankees loaded the bases with no one out. Nick Swisher continued his slide (0-24) when he bounced into a  force out, but it did drive in a run to cut the lead to one. With runners on the corners and one down, Mark Teixeira, in the lineup for the first time in 12 days due to a strained a calf, hit a chopper to second base.

Robert Andino quickly threw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who then turned two with a throw to first baseman Reynolds. Only one problem. Teixeira, who according to's Bryan Hoch dove head first because he felt his calf injury act up, clearly beat the throw from Hardy.

Meals (who should be denied some after tonigh)t, however, punched out Teixeira for the game ending twin killing. Teixeira and first base coach Mick Kelleher raged at Meals, but Joe Girardi flipped his gum and headed to the clubhouse.  More on that later.

The Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead against Joe Saunder on a sac fly by Alex Rodriguez in the 1st inning and an RBI double by Ichiro Suzuki in the 2nd. But Sabathia, who has not been his dominant self all year, gave up back-to-back home runs to Reynolds and Lew Ford to tie the game.  Hardy added an RBI double and a solo home run and Ford chipped in with a ribbie single to give the O's a 5-2 lead after six.

A-Rod, who narrowly missed a home run earlier in the game, did connect for one in the 8th inning off of Pedro Strop. The Orioles reliever had been shaky in two previous outings against the Yankees, including a loss in last week's series at Yankee Stadium.  That led to the 9th inning drama and  a call that could haunt the Yankees for the remainder of the season.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Elliot Johnson Finally Pays Off Debt, Yankees Back in 1st

Let's go into the way back machine, back to Spring Training, March 8, 2008. Yankees playing the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa. Elliot Johnson of the Rays races to the plate and barrels over and through Yankees up and coming catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Cervelli's wrist was broken, Joe Girardi was livid, and Joe Maddon and the Rays made a statement that they weren't going to be stepped on any more. The play led to an eventual brawl when Shelley Duncan slid in spikes high on Akinori Iwamura four days later. Cervelli's season was pretty much done- he was limited to just 27 games in the minor leagues in 2008.

It took four years, but Elliot Johnson finally said he was sorry. Well, ok, not really, but his throwing error in the 7th inning gave the Yankees the lead back for good and helped them reclaim sole possession of first place.

Hiroki Kuroda was handed 3-1 and 4-3 leads, but couldn't hold either. But a slumping Andruw Jones singled off Rays' starter Matt Moore to start the top of the 7th. Steve Pearce followed with a single of his own before Jayson Nix sacrificed pinch-runner Ichiro Suzuki and Pearce into scoring position.

Former Yankee Kyle Farnsworth got a ground ball from Derek Jeter, but second baseman Johnson's throw sailed wide of catcher Jose Lobaton. Not only did Suzuki score, but Pearce raced home with a second run.

The Rays put two men aboard against Boone Logan and David Robertson in the 8th, but D-Rob got Matt Joyce to pop out to end the inning. The 9th was Rafael Soriano time and the closer untucked his jersey for the first time in days after he retired the Rays in order for his 36th save.


While the Rays fell back to 2.5 games out, the Orioles dropped back into second place, 1 game out after a 6-4 loss to Toronto. The Yankees and O's begin a four game series in Baltimore on Thursday.

Monday, September 3, 2012

And Then There Was One

Saturday seems so long ago. On Saturday, the Yankees got a gift from the Baltimore Orioles. A victory they never should have had. It was a win that the Yankees and their faithful hoped would kick start them towards better baseball. It wasn't to be.

Sunday's 8-3 loss was like returning a gift for some piece of schlock. A game they could have won had Phil Hughes not given up two mammoth home runs to the Orioles' Mark Reynolds. The second of which he never should have been in the game to give up.  The blast turned a 3-2 Yankees lead into a 5-3 deficit.

Joe Girardi must be in hog heaven right now. With the rosters expanded, the man with the binder can mix and match to his heart's content. But he failed to pull the trigger in time on Saturday and let Hughes face Reynolds. The Orioles first baseman had already hit a ball 9,000 ft earlier in the game (that's not a typo, it really was that far).  And then the bullpen, led by the consistently horrid Joba Chamberlain poured gasoline all over the burning fire. The Yankees lead had shrunk to two games ahead of Baltimore and three and one-half ahead of Tampa Bay.

After the game the Yankees jetted down to west Florida for a big three game series with the Rays before they  head back north for four games in Camden Yards with the Orioles.  Monday's Labor Day match up had CC Sabathia going up against James Shields.

The Yankees generally don't play well in the Warehouse that Ugliness Built, and CC Sabathia had won just three games (five losses, five no-decisions) in his 13 starts at the Trop entering today's contest. Shields entered play just 6-13, 4.58 in 24 career starts against the Yankees. But considering the Yankees have been unable to hit unproven rookies, over the hill veterans, and everything in between, you knew that they would probably would have a tough time with a quality starter like Shields.

The theory proved out as Shields allowed just five hits over eight innings and the Rays scored in the bottom of the 8th for a 4-3 victory to move with in 2.5 of the Yankees. In doing so, they also helped out the Orioles, who are now just one game back of the Yankees for the AL East lead after a win over Toronto.

The once reliable, fairly rested Yankees bullpen is now the overworked and an inconsistent horror show. David Robertson, who has not been quite right since returning from the DL on June 14, took the loss after he gave up three hits in one inning of work.

The Rays like to run and usually steal at will when facing New York. Jeff Keppinger led of the home half of the 8th with a single, but pinch-runner Rich Thompson was thrown out trying to steal second base by Russell Martin.  After Roberterson retired Ben Francisco for the second out, Ryan Roberts safely reached first base with a single and promptly stole the Rays' third base in four attempts on the day.

Light-hitting Chris Giminez entered the game with a .203 batting average, but singled home Roberts with the go ahead run. The Yankees had a chance in the 9th when Eric Chavez reached on a one out error and pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez stole second. But Raul Ibanez grounded out and closer Fernando Rodney (41 saves) struck out pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson with the tying run stranded 90 ft. from home plate.


Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup for the first time since he broke his wrist on July 25. He DH'ed and went 1-4 with a bloop single and a run scored.

Giminez had singled in a run earlier in the day against Sabathia, who also allowed a solo home run to B.J. Upton that gave the Rays an early 2-0 lead. The Yankees scored three times in the 4th inning and took the lead when Russell Martin slid head first into first base to beat the throw. It was an up and down day for the Yankees catcher, who was 2-3 with an RBI and stole a base, but was able to just throw out one would-be base stealer (of course much of that was the fault of Sabathia and Robertson).

Saturday, September 1, 2012

O's Give Yankees Christmas in August

It wasn't Phelps' birthday, but he'll take it.
The Yankees were headed to another boring loss Saturday afternoon when, out of the goodness of their hearts, the Baltimore Orioles handed them the baseball game. Hopefully, after the game Joe Girardi sent a thank you note to Buck Showalter. It's the proper thing to do when someone gives such a tasteful gift.

The Yankees trailed 3-1 in the 7th inning after a shaky start from David Phelps (6 free passes, 3 ER in 4.1 IP) and a lack of hitting from a lineup that looked like it belonged in a future Old Timers Day. Then the magic happened, a magic we haven't seen too often in the Bronx this year.

Skipper Buck Showalter left starter Wei-Yin Chen in just a tad too long and the normally reliable bullpen and defense didn't get the job done.

Chen had allowed just two hits to that point- a 4th inning solo home run by Robinson Cano and a harmless single in the 6th inning by Nick Swisher. He retired Andruw Jones (seriously, still batting Jones in the clean up spot? In case you haven't noticed, Joe Girardi, that was last year that Jones killed lefties, not this year.) to start the inning, before Steve Pearce reached on a single.

No worries, Russell Martin flew out and Chen was about to finish up his day and get ready to watch Jim Johnson and company save the ball game. But the left-hander walked Jayson Nix and was kept in to face the right-handed hitting Eduardo Nunez, who had just been recalled from the minors. YES' Michael Kay and Ken Singleton speculated that it could be the biggest at-bat of Nunez's career, given the Yankees current circumstances.  They weren't wrong and Nunez came through with a broken bat bloop that landed softly in the outfield for an RBI single.

Showalter sent for hard throwing right-hander Pedro Strop to face Ichiro Suzuki with the tying and go ahead runs on base. Strop had been dynamite all year, but in his prior two games, the native of San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic had allowed three runs and five hits in 1.1 innings pitched. Hits weren't a problem against the Yankees, but Strop walked Ichiro Suzuki to load the bases and then lost a battle to Derek Jeter, that resulted in another walk and a tie ball game.

With left-hander Brian Matusz warmed up in the pen, Showalter stuck with Strop despite the fact that Swisher has hit righties at a better rate than when he's in the other batters' box. Perhaps Showalter was thinking about Swisher's "Golden Sombrero" in the series opener. Swisher lined a one-hopper that ate up shortstop J.J. Hardy, who compounded matters when he bobbled a second attempt at making a play. The error allowed the Yankees to take the lead for the first time in the series.

Then it came down to the Yankees bullpen and they were perfect. David Robinson retired the side in order in the 8th and Rafael Soriano struck out a pair in the 9th for his 35th save and an untucked shirt for a well done performance.


The victory moved the Yankees back to three games ahead of the O's entering Sunday's series finale. Phil Hughes will be pitted against red-hot Chris Tillman.

Curtis Granderson struck out in the 2nd inning and didn't return to the field due to a tight hamstring. The Yankees certainly don't need any additional injuries to their already weakened lineup and, thankfully, an MRI revealed no structural damage. The Grandy Man will be considered day-to-day for the moment.

The Yankees' pen did a fantastic job; in addition to Robertson and Soriano, Cody Eppley retired the only man he faced in the 5th inning and Boone Logan tossed two scoreless innings for the win. Baltimore only had one hit after the 5th inning.

David Phelps entered the game with a 2.7 walks per 9 innings average. He also averaged 9.4 K's per 9 innings, but picked up just 3 K's.

Limping to the Finish Line

"Is there a doctor in the house?" You may start hearing this soon at Yankee Stadium. While A-Rod is rehabbing, Tex is hoping to play next weekend, and Andy Pettitte threw off a mound for the first time yesterday, Curtis Granderson left Saturday's game with a tight hamstring.

The Grandy Man struck out in the 2nd inning and never re-appeared.  Instead he was headed for x-rays and  certainly the bench on Sunday.