Wednesday, May 31, 2006

MLB News & Notes

Greg Maddux ended a 4 games losing streak last night with a 7-3 win over the Reds. The victory was #324 lifetime, tying Maddux with Nolan Ryan and Don Sutton for 13th place all-time. Barring injury Maddux should finish the season in the #10 spot.

Entering today's action, Albert Pujols is averaging 1 home run for every 7 at-bats, or 14.3%. By comparison, Barry Bonds was at 15.34% when he hit 73 and Mark McGwire came in at 13.75% when he hit 70. Hopefully Pujols is doing without the cheating aids the other two have relied on.

Reigning NL Cy Young Winner Chris Carpenter was placed on the 15-day disabled list with bursitis under his right shoulder blade. The Cardinals right-hander was 4-2, 2.63.

David Wells's stay off the disabled list lasted only 4 1-3 innings. That's when he was struck by a line drive in the right knee by the Devil Rays' Travis Lee on May 26. Wells had off-season surgery on the knee and sprained it in a start in April.

The Houston Astros and Roger Clemens have agreed a 1-year minor league deal that will be worth a total of $22 million. Clemens is expected to make 3 minor league starts before recalled by the Astros.

Giambi Blasts Yankees to Victory 11-6

Super Mariano saves the day with 3 innings

You could tell last night's Yankees-Tigers game was going to be an odd one just from the first inning. Melky Cabrera led off the ball game for the Bombers with a triple and was stranded. The Tigers loaded the bases off Yankees starter Aaron Small with no one out and didn't score. The Yankees defense and bullpen blew a 6-1 lead. Mariano Rivera pitched 3 innings in a regular season game for the first time in 10 years. Finally, Jason Giambi blasted a solo home run to ignite a 5 run 11th inning to give the Yankees an 11-6 victory and a share of first place with the Boston Red Sox.

Giambi's home run, his 13th of the season, off Tigers closer Todd Jones was his first since May 10 and just his 5th RBI in his last 61 at-bats. Alex Rodriguez and Kelly Stinnett followed with singles, before Robinson Cano's force out put runners on the corners with just one down. Bernie Williams who has struggled from the left side all season, hit a frozen rope to right that went off the wrist of a leaping Ordonez. A-Rod scored and Cano raced to 3rd. A walk to Terrence Long loaded the bases and chased Jones from the game. Chris Spurling threw fuel on the fire as he gave up a two run single to Andy Phillips (4 RBI on the night) and Melky Cabrera's 4th hit of the night for the final run of the inning. Rivera (3-3) was sharp, using just 25 pitches to retire 9 of the 10 men he faced in his longest regular season stint since September 6, 1996.

The Yankees looked in the early goings as if the night might be a blowout, but a crucial error by Derek Jeter and some shoddy pitching by Kyle Farnsworth made it a must win game. Leading 6-1 in the fifth, with one on and none out, Jeter misplayed a potential double play grounder by Placido Polanco into an error. The ball rolled up Jeter's arms and ricocheted into short center field. By the time Robinson Cano tracked it down, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position with no one out. Ivan Rodriguez then ripped one up the alley in right-center for a two run triple, and scored one batter later on Magglio Ordonez's single to cut the lead to 6-4. Aaron Small hoping to still pull out a win then retired the next three hitters in a row to escape further trouble, but the Tigers weren't done chipping away.

Curtis Granderson's RBI single in the 6th off Scott Erickson close the gap to 6-5. After Scott Proctor bounced back from recent shaky outings with a 1-2-3 7th, Kyle Farnsworth immediately got into trouble in the 8th by walking Chris Shelton to start the inning. Craig Monroe followed with a single and the previously subdued crowd was back into the game. Farnsworth worked Marcus Thames to a full count before walking him on a pitch well out of the strike zone. With the bases loaded and none out the Yankees played at double play depth.

Brandon Inge gave the Yankees exactly what they needed, a ground ball, but the Yankees could only get the force at second as Inge barely beat the throw to first. Pinch-runner Ramon Santiago scored on the play to tie the game at 6-6 and the Tigers still had a major threat going with runners on the corners and just one out. But Farnsworth responded, striking out Curtis Granderson looking and getting Placido Polanco swinging to escape further trouble.

After stranding Cabrera at third with none out in the first, the Yankees pushed 4 runs across in the second. Singles by Jorge Posada, Cano, and Long loaded the bases and Posada came home on Roman Colon's wild pitch for the first run of the game. A Phillips single and a double by Cabrera brought home two more runs and the final run of the inning came home on a ground out by Jeter.


Gary Sheffield sat out last night's game with pain in his wrist and is most likely headed for the disabled list once again. Johnny Damon was used only as a pinch-runner as his sore foot prevented him from being in the starting lineup. He will most likely sit out again tonight.

Derek Jeter didn't miss any time after jamming his right wrist in Monday's game, but had a rough night going 0-5 with an error and was hit by a pitch. It marked just the 2nd time all season that Jeter went hitless in consecutive games.

Bernie Williams went 3-5 to raise his average to .275. It was his third 3-hit game in the last 7 games played. He also drove in a pair of runs.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Ace For A Day

Johnson on the mark as Yankees blank Tigers 4-0

The Randy Johnson that took the mound for the Yankees over the last 7 weeks was a poor imitation of the real thing. Think Mike Francesa trying to fit into an x-small. For one day at least the real Randy Johnson stepped forward and led the Yankees to a 4-0 victory.

Johnson retired the first 8 Tiger hitters and, with help from Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield, kept them hitless for 5 1-3 innings until a single by Ivan Rodriguez. He threw chin music to Carlos Guillen and backed up his sneer with solid pitching. Johnson left after allowing a lead off double to Guillen to start the 7th. It would the Tigers final hit of the day.

The Yankees offense kicked it into gear in the third to give Johnson some early support. Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera sandwiched singles around a Terrance Long force out to put runners on the corners with one out. Johnny Damon singled back through the box for a 1-0 lead and Derek Jeter picked up an RBI when his potential double play grounder was botched on a bad throw to first by Guillen.

The Yankees added two more against Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman with two out in the fifth. Gary Sheffield singled and Jason Giambi walked to put two aboard. Alex Rodriguez singled to center to score Sheffield and Jorge Posada followed with a run scoring single of his own. Bonderman (5-4) finally retired Cano on a fly out to left to end the inning.

With Johnson out of the game, the Tigers couldn't fare any better against Ron Villone and Kyle Farnsworth. Villone, who has been rarely used in a non-blow out situation by Joe Torre, retired all six men he faced. Farnsworth retired the side in order in the 9th, getting Carlos Guillen to fly out to Cabrera to close it out.


Jorge Posada returned to the lineup after sitting out the last 4 games with a injured tendon. Posada had 2 hits and an RBI in his return.

Derek Jeter left the game after batting in the fifth inning due to a jammed right wrist. Jeter hurt the wrist when he slid into second base in the third inning. He was removed for precautionary reasons and he expects to be in the lineup on Tuesday. Jeter was hitless in 3 at-bats, dropping his season average to .347.

With Shawn Chacon and Mike Maroth on the disabled list, Aaron Small will face Roman Colon in the 2nd game of the series on Tuesday.

Yankees Take Series with 6-5 Cliffhanger

First inning outburst holds up as Royals rally falls short

The Yankees came very close Sunday to making their three game series with Kansas City a complete disaster. After losing on Friday and winning in a blowout on Saturday, Sunday's early innings appeared to indicated a repeat of Saturday was at hand. But the Yankee bats fell silent and the Royals rallied before Mariano Rivera finally closed out a 6-5 victory.

Starter Jaret Wright showed no ill effects of his groin injury, but struggled with his control throughout the day. He had an excellent fastball, but didn't always know where it was going. Luckily for him the Yankee hitters knew exactly where Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez was throwing.

Hernandez listed as 6'1", 250 pounds, but is probably a good 25 pounds more than that, couldn't make it out of the first inning. Johnny Damon led off the ball game with his 6th home run of the season into the old Yankees bullpen in right-center. It was Damon's second lead off HR of the season. Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield followed with singles before Jason Giambi doubled to right to score Jeter and move Sheff to third. Alex Rodriguez then blooped a single into right to drive in two and put the Yankees on top 4-0. Hernandez (1-4) finally got Robinson Cano to bounce into a double play for the first two outs of the inning, but then walked Melky Cabrera. With Cabrera running at the crack of the bat, Terrance Long singled into the right field corner. Seeing the throw from Reggie Sanders head towards second, third base coach Larry Bowa aggressively waived Cabrera home. Cabrera, who never slowed down, slid across home plate just ahead of the relay from Angel Berroa for the 5th run of the inning. It also drove Hernandez from the ball game after just 2/3 of an inning.

Cano's sacrifice fly in the 2nd brought home what proved to be the Yankees last run of the game. The Royals then mounted their comeback, chipping away against Wright (3-3) and the suddenly ineffective Scott Proctor. Matt Stairs, Mark Grudzielanek, and Berroa knocked in single runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings to cut the lead to 6-3 and chase Wright from the game.

After an incredible hot streak, Scott Proctor has gone back to looking like the Proctor of old. After allowing an inherited runner to score in the 6th, Proctor was charged with two of his own. After retiring the first two hitters in the 7th, Proctor gave up back-to-back doubles to Doug Mientkiewicz and Sanders to cut the margin to 6-4. Joe Torre signaled for lefty specialist Mike Myers to face Matt Stairs, but Buddy Bell countered with pinch-hitter Estaban German. Myers walked him to put the tying runs on base, forcing Torre to call for Kyle Farnsworth to face Emil Brown. Farnsworth repeated a pattern we've seen too often this season. He fired upper 90s fastballs past Brown and then hung a 75 mph slider in the strike zone. Brown ripped it through the left side to score Sanders to make it a 1-run ball game. Farnsworth finally put out the fire by retiring Tony Graffanino on a fly out to left.

Farnsworth pitched an uneventful 8th before Mariano Rivera breezed through a 1-2-3 9th for his 11th save of the season.


The Yankees had no hits over the final three innings.

Scott Proctor is headed back to the drawing board after allowing 8 runs in 3 2-3 innings over his last 4 appearances.

Jaret Wright has really bolstered the Yankees rotation over his last 4 starts. Though Joe Torre and Ron Guidry would like to see more innings out of him, Wright is 3-1, 3.32 in those 4 starts.

'B' Team Pummels KC, 15-4

Stinnett, Cairo, Cabrera hammer Royals Pitching

Less than 24 hours after an embarrassing loss at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, the Yankees pounded the oppositions pitching to the tune of 15 hits in a 15-4 romp. Subs Kelly Stinnett, Miguel Cairo, and Melky Cabrera combined for 9 hits and 10 RBI. Oh, and one of those starters, Alex Rodriguez, hit a pair of bombs as well. Chien-Ming Wang was the beneficiary of all that offense as he pitched 7 effective innings for his 5th win of the season.

The Yankees jumped on starter Jeremy Affeldt in the 2nd inning and didn't let up. With two on and one out, Cairo, Cabrera, and Stinnett stroked consecutive singles for a 3-0 lead. In the third, Rodriguez hit a long two-run homer and Stinnett topped that later in the inning with a 3-run blast for an 8-0 lead.

Wang (5-2) meanwhile was cruising through the Royals lineup, having retired the first 11 hitters in a row before Doug Mientkiewicz's two-out double in the 4th. RBI doubles by Aaron Guiel and Angel Berroa in the 5th got the Royals on the board, but A-Rod answered back with his second home run of the game, a solo shot, in the bottom half of the inning.

KC cut the lead to 9-4 with another pair in a two out rally in the 6th. Matt Stairs doubled in a run and Tony Graffanino followed with an RBI single before Wang retired the side. The Yankees responded with another offensive outburst to drive Affeldt (2-5) from the game.

Stinnett led off the home half of the sixth with a double, his third hit of the game, and came home on Derek Jeter's single. After another run came across on a wild pitch, Cairo, who had 4 hits, doubled in two more and Cabrera followed with a 2-run double in the gap in right-center.

Ron Villone and Scott Erickson were on mop up duty, pitching an inning each to finish out the ball game.


Cairo's 4 hits tied a career high.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Pen Not Mightier Than The Bat, Yanks Lose 7-6

Bullpen failures ruin Jeter's big night

It should have been a night where Derek Jeter could reflect on the 2000th hit of his career. Instead he'll remember how it was a costly loss to Kansas City in the AL divisional race. The Yankees overcame an early 3 run deficit and a two hour rain delay, but couldn't come all the way back from an Angel Berroa 3-run homer as they lost to the Royals. The Yankees rallied in the 9th, cutting a two run deficit to just one, before Jason Giambi grounded in to a game ending double play.

Mike Mussina gave the Yankees another effective start, allowing 3 runs in 6 innings of work. Mussina struggled early with his command and the Royals took advantage by scoring all three runs in the second inning. After a Reggie Sanders lead off home run, Mussina retired the next two hitters, but a single by Tony Graffanino and back-to-back walks to Berroa and Paul Bako loaded the bases. Shane Costa then singled through the right side to score a pair.

The Royals have blown most leads they have had this year, including a 6-0 margin Thursday afternoon to Detroit. Last night's game was no different. Jeter led off the fourth with a little dribbler out in front of the plate. Catcher Paul Bako had to hurry his throw and it sailed into the seats along the first base line. The official scoring was a hit and an error, prompting the fans to rise to their feet to celebrate Jeter's 2000th hit. Jeter waved his helmet to the crowd, which grew louder as the achievement was displayed on the centerfield scoreboard. Two batters later Alex Rodriguez got the Yankees on the board with an RBI single up the middle off of Royals starter Scott Elarton.

In the sixth the Yankees took their only lead of the night. Johnny Damon led off with one of his two hits and Jeter followed with a walk. Jason Giambi then drilled a double in the gap in right-center to drive in both base runners and put the tying run in scoring position. A-Rod came through again, singling through the left side. The ball skipped through left-fielder Emil Brown's legs to allowed A-Rod to gain second, but he was stranded there.

Joe Torre turned the game over to Scott Proctor to start the 7th and Proctor's recent streak of ineffectiveness continued. Graffanino led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. The light-hitting Bako followed with a single to center to tie up the game. Kyle Farnsworth (1-2) started the eighth and did worse than Proctor. With a man on and two out, he walked Graffanino and then served up a 3-run home run to Berroa. Berroa's 4th home run of the year gave the Royals a 7-4 lead.

The Yankees finally drove Elarton (1-5) from the game in the 8th after Giambi singled and A-Rod followed with a double. With one out, Bernie Williams grounded out to Grudzielanek at second to plate Giambi, but Melky Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.

A two hour rain delay ensued following the top of the 9th before pinch-hitter Terrence Long stepped in against reliever Joe Nelson. Long came through with a single to send the tying run to the plate. With one out, Jeter walked and Gary Sheffield lined a single just under the glove of center fielder Estaban German to score Long. Manager Buddy Bell sent for 6'10" left-hander Andrew Sisco to face Giambi and the reliever came through, inducing Giambi into a 4-6-3 double play for the first save of his career.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Got Melky?

I'll tell you right off the bat that I watched the 2 hour season finale of Lost last night and went back and forth to the Yankees-Red Sox on commercials. I did see the game leading up until 9:00. Do to the horrendous pitching of Randy Johnson and even more horrendous pitching of Matt Clement, I didn't see many innings in 2 hours.

To say this was a huge victory would be an understatement. After losing 2 of 3 to the Mets and having no Jorge Posada or Johnny Damon in the starting lineup last night, the odds of winning were not great. Clement throwing for the Sox was of course a bit of an equalizer. You need someone to step up in these games and last night that guy was Melky Cabrera. The Yankees rushed this kids to the majors last season and he was totally overmatched at the plate and in the field. His return this season looked like it was a 2005 redux as he dropped a wind blown pop up against the Sox at The Stadium. A lot has changed since then, however, as Melky has not only played better in the field, but has shown he's got a major league stick. He's also had some huge at-bats such as the 11 pitch walk against Billy Wagner that help rally the Yankees to victory against the Mets last Saturday.

Last night Cabrera came through twice in spots where veterans have failed this season. The Yankees were trailing 2-1 with 2 outs in the 2nd inning when Cabrera came up with the bases loaded. He pulled one past a diving Kevin Youkilis for a 2-run single to right to give the Yankees the lead. Moments later Derek Jeter doubled in Kelly Stinnett to put the Bombers on top 4-2.

Randy Johnson gave that lead right back though. Already having given up a 2-run homer to Manny Ramirez in the first, Johnson served up a fat one to Youkilis with a man aboard to tie the game 4-4. One inning later, Jason Varitek singled in the go-ahead run and the Sox still had two on and none out. Johnson (6-4) then, improbably, struck out Wily Mo Pena, Dustan Mohr, and Alex Gonzalez to end the inning.

The Yankees went after Clement (4-4) again in the fifth as Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Bernie Williams, and Terrence Long stroked consecutive singles to put two on the board and put the Yankees back on top 6-5. With another two-on, two-out situation facing him, Cabrera came through again, delivering another two-run single for an 8-5 lead.

Despite having retired 8 of his last 9, Torre pulled a pleading Randy Johnson to start the 6th. Torre obviously wanted to make sure Johnson finished the game on a high note. Erickson gave Torre just what he needed, a scoreless inning to turn the pen over to the late inning guys. Mike Myers K'ed David Ortiz to start the 7th before giving way to Scott Proctor. For the 2nd straight night Proctor served up a home run ball to Manny Ramirez to cut the lead to 8-6.

Kyle Farnsworth took over in the 7th and immediately got in a jam due to an error by Stinnett. A one-out single and a stolen base by Alex Gonzalez put the tying run in scoring position with the top of the order coming up. Farnsworth blew a 97 mph fastball past Youkilis for the 2nd out of the inning, but then wildly walked Mark Loretta to load the bases. The last pitch was actually a wild pitch, but for some reason Wily Mo Pena didn't break off of third. He would have scored easily. So here was the situation again. David Ortiz in a clutch situation against the Yankees. No one could be blamed for looking away from the screen. Farnsworth came through though, freezing Ortiz with a breaking pitch for a called third strike to end the inning.

Manny Ramirez destroyed the Yankees in the series. Four home runs, 10 RBI, and not one pitch pushing him off the plate in the process. Mariano Rivera finally did that to a degree in the 9th as Ramirez overreacted as if the pitch were closer. Ramirez should just thank his lucky stars the Yankees don't have the balls to throw at anyone. Rivera retired Ramirez, Varitek, and Mike Lowell in order for his 10th save and the Yankees could enjoy their day off on Thursday.


Johnny Damon sat out the game with a sore back. Jorge Posada is scheduled for an MRI today to take a look at his ailing tendon. Rawlings will also be sending a representative to rework the straps on Posada's shin protector.

The Yankees bolstered their minor league infield with the acquisition of Nick Green from Tampa Bay for cash. Green was hitting just .077 when the Rays opted to dump him.

El Duque is back in New York, but in the wrong uniform. The Mets acquired Orlando Hernandez from Arizona yesterday for disappointing relief pitcher Jorge Julio. There's no question that Duque's stock is not what it used to be, but AZ could do no better than Julio?

Octavio Dotel threw a 30-pitch, 3-inning extended Spring Training outing yesterday. A June activation from the DL is still hopeful.

Before the game, the Yankees demoted Kevin Reese and recalled left-hander Matt Smith.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A-Rod Bolsters Resume

3-Run Homer Difference in 7-5 Win

He heard every time there is a regular season series with the Red Sox or Mets. Every time the post-season rolls around. Alex Rodriguez doesn't come through in the clutch, when the spotlight is at its glaringly brightest. He heard it this past weekend as the Yankees lost 2 of 3 to the Mets and the Bombers left 15 men on base Sunday night. But very quietly, A-Rod has had some big hits. Last night was one of them. Leading 4-1 over the Red Sox, A-Rod broke the game open with a 3-run blast off of Tim Wakefield to give the Yankees a 7-1 lead in the 7th. It was the difference maker as the Yankees bullpen hung on for a 7-5 win.

Rodriguez also had a big hit against the Sox earlier this month when he hit a monstrous shot off of Curt Schilling to break up a tie game. Part of the reason he gets so much heat is that A-Rod comes up in so many of these situations, and holding true to baseball form, he fails 7 to 7 1/2 times out of 10. While that may lead to a good batting average, it doesn't say much for you when you are the highest paid player in the game with the highest fan expectations. He'll get a reprieve for one night though.

Jaret Wright has struggled with injuries throughout much of his career, but his health and pitching have been much better of late. Last night he threw a very effective 5 innings and left with a 3-0 lead. Having thrown only 77 pitches he would have gone further, but he tweaked his groin in the 3rd inning and Joe Torre was not taking any chances. Wright will be re-evaluated today. Wright, who wore a bull’s-eye on his back last year for hit balls and broken bats, was nailed in the side by the very first batter he faced, Kevin Youkilis. Wright trapped the ball against his body with his bare hand for the out.

Johnny Damon gave Wright an instead lead by hitting his 17th career lead off home run in the 1st. It was his 5th home run of the season and his 1st lead off home run as a Yankee. In the third, Damon helped set things up again by following Andy Phillips walk with a double. Derek Jeter bounced one back through the middle for a 2-run single and a 3-0 lead. Wright (2-3) meanwhile kept the Sox hitters at bay, getting out of 1st and 2nd, no one out jams in both the 2nd and 4th innings.

The Yankees tacked one on in the 6th without the aid of a hit. Rodriguez struck out, but Doug Mirabelli couldn't handle Tim Wakefield's (3-6) knuckler and A-Rod reached on the passed ball. Two more passed balls sandwiched around a ground out brought Rodriguez home with the Yankees fourth run.

The Red Sox are dangerous even when behind and they showed it again last night. Trailing 7-1 in the 7th, Scott Proctor, who had replaced Wright to start the 6th, ran into trouble by issuing back-to-back lead off walks to Youkilis and Mark Loretta. Proctor managed to get David Ortiz to line out to center, but Manny Ramirez smoked a Poctor pitch deep into the center field seats for a 3-run homer to cut the lead to 7-4. Manny being Manny, also walked about the first 10 steps out of the batters box, inviting a future fastball in his ear. Unfortunately, the Yankees never have the balls to do that.

Mike Myers replaced Proctor and promptly walked Trot Nixon. Kyle Farnsworth's walk to light hitting Alex Cora brought the tying run to the plate in the person of Doug Mirabelli, but Farnsworth bounced back, K'ing Mirabelli swinging.

In the eighth inning Farnsworth created the same trouble as Proctor - walking Youkilis and Loretta with the Yankee killers, Ortiz and Ramirez, coming up. Joe Torre practically ran to the mound to fetch Mariano Rivera from the bullpen. Mo jammed Ortiz with a cutter to pop him up for the 2nd out of the inning. Rivera left one out over the plate for Ramirez who ripped it to center for an RBI single. And yes, Ramirez strolled out of the box admiring his single.

The Sox had one more shot against Rivera in the 9th. Cora singled with one away to give the Sox a pair of chances with the tying run at the plate, but Rivera popped Varitek up to Phillips at first and struck out Dustan Mohr to end it for this 9th save.


Gary Sheffield returned to the lineup after a 1 game rehab assignment at Double-A Trenton. He went 0-3 with 2 walks, a run scored, and a stolen base. He also confirmed that he has a broken hamate bone in his left hand. To make room on the roster, Colter Bean was designated for assignment

Kevin Reese is expected to be returned to Columbus today, with either Ramiro Mendoza or Matt Smith being recalled.

Last night marked the third time the Yankees faced Tim Wakefield and the first time they were able to score more than 3 runs off of him.

David Wells is expected to be activated this weekend for the Sox and Coco Crisp isn't far behind.

In addition to Wright's groin problem, Jorge Posada is expected to miss tonight's game and is listed as day-to-day with a sore tendon behind his knee. Posada is looking to change the strap on his shin guard to alleviate the pain.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Chowder Again?

In the oddity that is Major League Baseball scheduling the Yankees travel to Boston today to start a three game series with the Red Sox. This is the third series with Boston this month and the Yankees second trip to Fenway. The first series only lasted one game due to rain. In that one game, their nemesis David Ortiz belted a 3-run home run off lefty specialist Mike Myers to send the Yankees on their way with a loss. The Sox took 2 of 3 in New York a week later and Mark Loretta managed to wipe out Hideki Matsui and Shawn Chacon in the same game with some well placed hits.

Pitching Match Ups

Monday: Chien-Ming Wang 4-1, 3.79 vs. Curt Schilling 6-2, 4.17
Tuesday: Jaret Wright 1-3, 4.94 vs. Tim Wakefield 3-5, 4.17
Wednesday: Randy Johnson 5-4, 5.62 vs. Matt Clement 4-3, 5.36

One player that needs to turn things around in this series is Johnny Damon. Damon is just 1-16 against his former teammates this year. Get over it Johnny. You're in NY now, get some damn hits.

Randy Johnson vs. Matt Clement - that has all the makings of a 10-9 game.

It's time to look at the Yankees Hitting w RISP - Runner in Scoring Position or WNTH - When not to Hit.

Player - 2006 - Career
Derek Jeter .362 .301
A-Rod .250 .302
Jason Giambi .333 .309
Gary Sheffield .250 .316
Robinson Cano .302 .234
Jorge Posada .353 .284
Johnny Damon .303 .298
Bernie Williams .310 .307
Melky Cabrera .125 .083 (12 ABs)
Kelly Stinnett .200 .234
Andy Phillips .167 .174
Miguel Cairo .308 .250

Hideki Matsui .258 .311

Now these numbers are misleading. They're probably better this year than you or I expected. The thing is that these numbers are a product of a high scoring offense. When the Yankees go out and score 6-10 runs a game their RISP average will improve, but there are too many times in lower scoring games where they do not come through. Basically you can throw most of these numbers out the window.

Delgado, Wright Blast Yankees 4-3

Yankees Strand 15 in Loss

Carlos Delgado and David Wright belted long home runs off of Aaron Small (0-2) last night as the Mets pitching staff made like Houdini escaping one jam after another in a 4-3 win. The Yankees had runners on in an every inning, but could only manage to push 3 runs across, stranding 15 in the process. Small, filling in for the injured Shawn Chacon, pitched a strong first 3 innings before running into trouble in the 4th. After allowing lead off singles to Paul Lo Duca and Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado smacked a hanger over the fence in left-center to give the Mets a 3-2 lead. One pitch later David Wright hit a tape measure shot to left that may still be traveling. Small was yanked after allowing a pair of base runners in the 5th and the Yankees bullpen shut the Mets out for the rest of the night to give the visitors a chance. One chance after another that went by the boards against Mets starter Tom Glavine (7-2) and the bullpen.

In the first, the Yankees had two and two out, but Robinson Cano grounded to Kaz Matsui to end it. Bernie Williams led off the second with a double, his first of three hits and moved to third on a ground out. But Kelly Stinnett and Melky Cabrera both K'ed. One inning later Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi singled, but Alex Rodriguez flied out and Cano grounded out again.

The Yankees finally broke through in the fourth with some help from David Wright. The Yankees loaded the bases on a double by Williams, a walk to Stinnett, and Damon's hit by pitch. Jeter's hard grounder in the hole on the left side was misplayed by David Wright who pulled up too soon on the ball, resulting in a 2-run single. After a walk to Giambi, A-Rod had another chance, but his line drive was snared by Cliff Floyd in left.

Trailing 4-2 in the sixth, Jeter bounced into an inning ending double play. The Yankees loaded the bases against Aaron Heilman in the 7th, but Stinnett bounced out to strand three more. Giambi's sacrifice fly in the eighth cut the lead to 4-3, but Duaner Sanchez got A-Rod to bounce into another inning ending DP.

The Yankees had one more chance against a shaky Billy Wagner in the 9th. Williams and Cabrera stroked one out singles, but Wagner K'ed Stinnett and got Miguel Cairo to ground to earn his 9th save.


Mike Myers, Colter Bean, Ron Villone, and Scott Erickson combined for 4 2-3 shutout innings, allowing just 2 base runners.

Shawn Chacon was put on the DL after the game and newly signed outfielder Terrence Long was recalled from the minors. Small will continue to take Chacon's turn in the rotation.

Still looking for more offense, the Yankees signed Eurubial Durazo today to a minor league deal. Durazo had off-season Tommy John surgery and signed a minor league deal with Texas prior to the season. He was released by the Rangers on May 17. Durazo had his best season with the A's in 2004, hitting .321-22-88, but the elbow injury limited him to just 41 games last season.

Gary Sheffield is expected to play one rehab game at Double-A Trenton this evening before being activated from the DL for Tuesday's game with Boston.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Phillips Screws Mets 5-4

Yankees rally against fake Sandman

As the Mets fans stretched in the middle of the seventh inning on Saturday, visions of a three game Subway Series sweep danced through their heads. Pedro Martinez had just dominated the Yankees hitters allowing just four hits and striking out eight in a very tidy 102 pitch performance. The fans knew they were just one inning away from seeing Billy Wagner throw 98-99 mph fastballs to close things out. Wagner had struck out the side on Friday to pick up the win in the Mets 7-6 victory. Everything was laid out just as it should be. Only probably was no one told Wagner or the Yankees. Wagner was torched for 4 runs in an improbably 9th inning rally and Andy Phillips singled in the game winner in the 11th as the Yankees prevailed 5-4.

Jason Giambi started the 9th with a single up the middle and Alex Rodriguez followed with a walk. Robinson Cano slapped a single to center to score Giambi and the shut out was broken. Miguel Cairo flied out to center and Wagner quickly got ahead of Melky Cabrera, 0-2. But Cabrera hung tough and worked out an 11 pitch at-bat that culminated in a walk to load the bases. A flustered Wagner then walked catcher Kelly Stinnett on 4 pitches to force in the second run of the inning. When Wagner hit pinch-hitter Bernie Williams in the leg to force in a third run, manager Willie Randolph had seen enough. He signaled for Pedro Feliciano to set up a lefty-lefty match up with Johnny Damon. Randolph got what he wanted as Damon bounced to Jose Reyes at short for the start of a potential game ending double play. Damon busted it down the line though and beat Kaz Matsui's relay to first to tie the game. Randolph came out and briefly argued the call, but replays showed that first base ump Tom Hallion had made the correct call. Chad Bradford then replaced Feliciano and got Derek Jeter to bounce out to keep the game tied.

After Scott Proctor retired the side in order in the 9th, including a pair of strike outs, Jason Giambi led off the 10th with a walk against Jorge Julio. A-Rod quickly ended any thought of a rally by bouncing into a double play. Mariano Rivera gave up a 1-out single to Kaz Matsui in the Mets half of the inning, but struck out Carlos Beltran and got Carlos Delgado to bounce weakly to second.

Any Yankee fan worth his salt knew that if the Yankees didn't score in the top of the 11th the Yankees were toast. Scott Erickson was warming up in the pen and it was obvious Joe Torre might not go back to Rivera if the game was still tied. Thankfully Miguel Cairo and Andy Phillips took care of that. Cairo worked a walk to start the 11th. Julio struck out Cabrera, but Cairo stole 2nd on the play without drawing a throw. After Stinnett k'ed, Cairo stole 3rd as well. Then it was up to Phillips who was batting just .174 at the time. He raised it to .191 with a line single to center to score Cairo and put the Yankees in front for the first time all day. Then it was up to the real Sandman to shut things down. And that's just what Mariano Rivera did.

David Wright who won Friday's game with a hit over Johnny Damon's head, and had repeated the fete in Saturday's game for an RBI double, was the first to go down swinging. Cliff Floyd who had blasted a solo shot off of starter Mike Mussina was the next victim, flailing at a cutter for the 2nd out. Rivera then blew away Xavier Nady and the Yankees had set up a rubber game for national TV on Sunday night.


The Yankees started the game poorly, as A-Rod was charged with an error on lead off man Jose Reyes's little tapper. A-Rod's throw pulled Giambi off the bag at first. It was a tough play though and surprisingly was not called a hit by the home team official scorer. Reyes promptly stole 2nd and Stinnett threw the ball into center field for a second error with Reyes advancing to third. The teams combined for 7 errors in the game; all 4 Yankee errors were on throws.

The oddity of official scoring rules leads to things like this. Despite the implosion by Billy Wagner he wasn't charged with a blown save. When he left the game it was still 4-3, so Pedro Feliciano gets a blown save despite the fact that he produced a potential game ending double play that Damon's speed foiled. It was clear to everyone who blew this game though.

Jorge Posada sat out the game to rest his back and is hopeful of playing Sunday night though holding him out for this week's Red Sox series would make more sense.

Kyle Farnsworth also sat out Saturday's game, but should be good to go on Sunday. The Yankees may not have Rivera available after 3 innings in two days, so Farnsworth would be needed if the game is close.

It remains to be seen if Billy Wagner will be available for the Mets after throwing 31 pitches on the heels of Friday night's game.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

How Many Losses in a Unit?

Johnson throws another one away, 7-6

Injuries, stranding runners and unreliable pitching performances have beset the Yankees this season and last night's 7-6 loss to the New York Mets was another example of that. The Yankees jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but Randy Johnson quickly gave it all back. Jorge Posada had to leave the game in the 2nd inning with back spasms, Bernie Williams pulled a muscle in his ass legging out a double, and Mariano Rivera lost the game in the 9th. The 2006 Yankee season is quickly unraveling.

Things started out great as the Yankees knocked Mets starter Jeremi Gonzalez around in the first inning. Johnny Damon led off the ball game with a double and scored on Derek Jeter's single to left. After Jeter stole 2nd, Jason Giambi walked to set the table for Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod came through with an RBI single, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double as Giambi reached third. Gonzalez finally retired Posada on a ground out, but Robinson Cano and Williams stroked back-to-back doubles to plate two more. The lack of a DH immediately came into play as Melky Cabrera was intentionally walked to set up a match up with Johnson. The Big Unit went down swinging to end the inning.

Buoyed by a 4-0 lead, Johnson immediately walked the Mets lead off hitter, Jose Reyes. After a walk to Paul Lo Duca, Carlos Beltran blasted his 11th home run of the season over the fence in left to cut the lead to 4-3.

Cano's sacrifice fly in the third stretched the lead to 5-3, but Xavier Nady took Johnson deep to right-center with a man aboard in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. It was Nady's 9th home run of the season. The tie didn't last long as Jeter led off fourth with a double, knocking Gonzalez out of the game in the process. Darren Oliver hit Jason Giambi with a pitch before striking out A-Rod for the first out of the inning. Jorge Posada was warming up Johnson in the 2nd when he had to leave the game with back spasms. His replacement Kelly Stinnett stroked his 2nd hit of the ball game, an RBI single to left to score Jeter and put the Yankees back on top 6-5. Bernie Williams two-out infield single loaded the bases, but Cabrera grounded out to end the inning.

The Mets stranded two runners in the fourth before tying things up off of Johnson again in the 5th. David Wright singled with one man out and advanced to 2nd on Nady's ground out. The much maligned Kaz Matsui came through with a single to right to tie the game up again, 6-6. It would stay that way until the ninth when the slightly younger sandman out did the older one.

Billy Wagner (3-0) struck out Giambi, A-Rod, and Stinnett for a 1-2-3 ninth inning. Mariano Rivera would not come away unscathed. Many wondered why Kyle Farnsworth, who had pitched the eighth, wasn't brought back for the 9th with a tie game on the road. It was revealed later that he too was suffering from a sore back and couldn't continue. Meanwhile Rivera's struggles of late continued. With one out and a 1-2 count on Lo Duca, Rivera left a cutter over the plate and Lo Duca yanked it to left for a double. Rivera came back to strike out Carlos Beltran for the 2nd out and set up a potential face-off with Carlos Delgado. Delgado was 7-18 (.389) lifetime against Rivera (1-3) with no home runs, 1 RBI and 3 strike outs. In an unusual move, the Yankees intentionally walked Delgago to face the less experienced Wright. There was a time an intentional walk never even would have been considered. Delgado is swinging the bat well and Wright is inexperienced, but Rivera has greater success with his cutter against lefties than against righties. Wright proved that point when he hit a pitch deep over the head of Damon in center to win the ball game 7-6.


Rivera has now been scored upon in 3 of his
last 5 outings.

After a visit to Dr. James Andrews, Carl Pavano will be having surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Pavano had bone chips removed in 2000 as well. Andrews will also be performing surgery on Tanyon Sturtze's rotator cuff.

With Bernie Williams joining the banged up outfield list, Kevin Reese is expected to get the start in left field today.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Pulling Into The Station

It's that time again - interleague play is upon us. There have been some interesting match ups over the years, but overall this is one big bore already. Having to play teams from the other league that impact your standings is absurd, but of course this is all about cash money. Like all that money a Marlins-Rays series brings in (roll your eyes now). The Yankees-Mets series was always full of tension, especially as a Yankee fan, because the Yankees were always expected to win. An in-season match up of course could not compare to the 2000 World Series. There is still pressure to win, but it's really more about the competitiveness of Yankee and Met fans. Of course, George Steinbrenner does NOT want to lose.

This is the Mets strongest offense since the interleague play began in 1997. Their pitching even with Pedro and Tom Glavine has been stronger in the past. Probably for the first time they are the favorites in this year six-game battle (there should only be 3 games, but that's a thought for another day).

The pitching match ups would normally indicate 1 for the Yankees, 1 for the Mets, and a toss-up. But because of Randy Johnson's ineffectiveness, tonight's start against Jeremi Gonzalez is a toss up too. Throw in the Yankees already weakened offense even weaker with the pitcher batting and the Yankees could be in trouble. The good news is that the Red Sox have to face a good hitting Phillies team.

Yankees-Mets pitching for the series:

Friday - Randy Johnson vs. Jeremi Gonzalez
Saturday - Mike Mussina vs. Pedro Martinez
Sunday - Aaron Small vs Tom Glavine

Shawn Chacon was originally scheduled to start Sunday night's prime time game, but the hematoma on his leg has made him a scratch for the series.

Bubba Crosby is also gone from the Yankees depth chart. Crosby was placed on the 15 day DL after injuring his hamstring in yesterday's 6-2 loss to the Rangers. Veteran minor leaguer Mitch Jones has been recalled from Columbus to take his spot. The 28-year old, who has never appeared in a major league game, has 150 career minor league home runs.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wang Just What the Manager Ordered (5/17)

Posada sparks offense again in 4-3 win

After Tuesday night's wild 14-13 victory, the Yankees were looking to Wednesday's starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang to be a little more successful than his predecessor, Shawn Chacon. Wang (4-1) gave the Yankees exactly what they needed, going 8 innings for the second consecutive start and picking up the win in a 4-3 victory. Mariano Rivera, one night after giving up the go ahead run in the ninth, was back on the hill tonight in the ninth to pick up his 8th save. Rivera threw 14 pitches to retire the dangerous trio of Phil Nevin, Hank Blalock, and Kevin Mench in order.

Jorge Posada received a huge ovation his first time up after being the hero of Tuesday's scorefest. Posada continued his hot hitting by stroking a two-out single to left to score Derek Jeter from second. With the score tied 1-1 in the fifth Posada was the center piece of another rally. Rangers starter Kameron Loe (2-4) quickly retired Johnny Damon and Jeter to start the inning, but Jason Giambi doubled in the gap in left-center and Alex Rodriguez followed with an infield single to put runners on the corners. Posada rip a line drive up the middle to score Giambi and put the Yankees up for good 2-1. Robinson Cano committed two errors on the night and had left two men in scoring position, but came through in his third at-bat with a line drive single to center for a 3-1 lead. Bernie Williams finished off the Yankees scoring with an RBI single through the right side.

Wang has had trouble this season putting together solid back-to-back start, but after going 8 innings in a victory over Oakland five days earlier, he was on his game again. He got 18 outs via ground outs and allowed only 3 fly ball outs. Gary Matthews Jr. slugged his 3rd home run with a man aboard in the 8th to cut the lead to 4-3 and ensure that Rivera would be used. After allowing the home run, Wang retired Michael Young and Mark Texeira on ground ball outs to end the inning.


Wang struck out 3 hitters after only striking out 2 over his last 2 games combined.

One has to wonder if Johnny Damon is just in a slump or if his sore shoulder is hampering him. Damon went 0-5 Wednesday night lowering his season average to .276 and making him just 14-63 (.222) in May.

Derek Jeter went 2-4 to raise his average to .353. Jeter is 6-9 over the last 2 games and has had multiple hit performances in 15 of 38 games played.

Jason Giambi returned to the lineup after missing 1 game due to a strained neck.

Carl Pavano lasted just 1 innings in his Double-A start at Trenton before having to leave with a sore tricep. He'll be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Send Up the Bat Signal

Despite scoring 14 runs in last night's ball game, it's pretty clear to everyone (except Jim Kaat) that the Yankees are going to have to acquire another proficient bat if they expect to make the playoffs this season, let alone try to win a World Series.

Since Hideki Matsui joined Gary Sheffield on the shelf, every television, radio, newspaper, and internet pundit has tossed around basically the same group of names that the Yankees should, could, or would try to get. Some makes some sense; some make no sense at all.

Here's a quick review:

Alfonso Soriano - After his early season dispute over playing the outfield, Soriano has settled in and is putting up his usual numbers at the plate. Through 39 games he is batting .278 with 12 HRs and 25 RBI. He's stolen just 6 bases thus far, but has an astounding 9 walks. Soriano is batting just .255 at home, but has split his home run total evenly between home and the road. His adjustment to left field has not been easy, though he did lead the NL in outfield assists at one point.

Pros - Soriano has been here before. He's played under the pressure of NYC and George Steinbrenner. Soriano would add power and speed to the lineup. The Nationals won't be resigning Soriano and would like to move him for some youth.

Cons - If you think Soriano is having a tough time in left field now, wait until he tries playing the spacious left field in Yankee Stadium. Then again, Melky Cabrera is an outfielder and is having his own issues. Soriano has been much more productive out of the lead off spot, not something the Yankees need.

Yes/No/Maybe - Strong Maybe leaning towards Yes

Reggie Sanders - Sanders is in the first year of a two-year, $10 million contract. He's struggled so far, partially hampered by bad hamstring that kept him out of action for 8 days. Surrounded by a mediocre lineup, Sanders is hitting just .237-4-14.

Pros - Sanders brings a veteran, playoff-tested presence. He also strengthens the Yankees bench when and if Sheffield and/or Matsui can return.

Cons - Maybe age if finally catching up to Sanders who will be 39 in December. This is Sanders first season in the AL in his career.

Yes/No/Maybe - A definite Yes. Two thumbs way up.

Torii Hunter - Hunter has responded nicely this season after badly injuring his ankle last season. He's hitting .268 (one point above his career average) with 8 HR and 27 RBI. He's stolen only 2 bases thus far after topping the 20 mark four of the last five years.

Pros - Hunter is one of the best defensive players in the game. He's a leader and has playoff experience. Hunter is in the final year of his current deal and the Twins may want to move him, even with the possibility of bringing him back in the off-season. His first name has two "i"'s.

Cons - The Yankees gave Johnny Damon a huge contract in the off-season to play center field. While Damon has been quoted as saying he would move to left if the Twins signed Hunter in the coming off-season (Damon obviously forgot about Matsui), it doesn't make a lot of sense to make that move now. And you certainly are not going to move Hunter to left field. The Yankees really need someone who will hit for a higher average, not just knock in runs. Probably the biggest obstacle in acquiring Hunter will be how much the Twins want in return.

Yes/No/Maybe - No

Shannon Stewart - Stewart is hitting .303-2-17 in his fourth full season in Minnesota.

Pros - Stewart is a lifetime .300 hitter and a sparkplug at the top of the lineup.

Cons - The Yankees don't need another table setter, they need a busboy to clean up. Stewart's arm is as weak, if not weaker, than Johnny Damon and Bernie Williams. Stewart has played more than 100 games only once since 2002 and constantly misses time with hamstring injuries.

Yes/No/Maybe - a big No

Bobby Abreu - has had a slow start to the 2006 season. Despite the Phillies recent success, Abreu is hitting just .257-4-23 and 5 stolen bases. A 4-31 slump dropped his average from .302.

Pros - Abreu is a .302 lifetime hitter who has averaged 24 HRs, 96 RBI, and 30 stolen bases over the last 7 seasons. Abreu is a good right fielder and is still only 32 years old. Abreu is in the 3rd year of an expensive 5-year contract and the Phils may want to unload that money. Abreu stands to make $13 million this season and $15 million in 2007. There's also a $16 million option for 2008 with a $2 million buyout. The Phillies are short on pitching and need that more than they need Abreu in the lineup.

Cons - Abreu has played his whole career in the National League after he was dealt from Tampa Bay (had selected him from Houston in the expansion draft) to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker. Abreu was tearing the ball up prior to last year's All-Star Break, batting .307-18-58 in 89 games. After winning the home run contest, Abreu hit just .260-6-44 over the final 73 games of the season. Throw in this season to date and Abreu has smacked just 10 home runs in his last 109 games. Do the Yankees want to give up chips and cash for a player that may suddenly be on the decline. The biggest obstacle is the Phillies have a real chance to compete this year and removing one of their key cogs could really hurt them.

Yes/No/Maybe - Yes - but only if the Phillies pick up a good chunk of the salary and the Yankees don't have to part with too many prospects.


Vets Rally Yankees, 14-13

The Yankees did the near impossible last night, rallying from a 9 run deficit despite a lineup that no Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, or Gary Sheffield, to eventually win 14-13 on a two-out, 2-run home run by Jorge Posada in the bottom of the 9th. Texas was all over starter Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small in the early going to build 9-0 and 10-1 leads.

Trailing by a run in the 9th and facing Rangers closer Akinori Otsuka, Johnny Damon hit a ball down the first base line that bad hopped gold glover Mark Texeira for a lead off single. With Derek Jeter 4-4 on the night, Joe Torre opted not to have him try to sacrifice. Jeter's tapper in front of the mound had the same effect though as Damon advanced to second. Alex Rodriguez ripped a line drive to deep center, but Gary Matthews Jr. pulled it in for the 2nd out. That left it up to Jorge Posada who had already driven in 3 runs and withstood a home plate collision. Otsuka tried to get Posada to chase inside off-speed pitches, but Posada held his ground and got ahead in the count 3-0. After a call strike, Posada turned on an Otsuka pitch and drove it high into the night and into the bleachers in right-center for the 2nd walk-off home run of his career.

The Yankees began chipping away in the third when Derek Jeter doubled in a run and Jorge Posada singled him home to cut the margin to 10-3. In the fifth, Jeter started things off with a walk and Alex Rodriguez followed with a double. Posada's sacrifice fly scored Jeter and A-Rod came home on Robinson Cano's RBI ground out. After a walk to Bernie Williams, Buck Showalter yanked starter Jon Koranka one out shy of a possible win despite a 10-5 lead.

The game's biggest play came in the top of the sixth when Texas tried to extend their lead. With Mark Texeira on first and two down, Hank Blalock doubled in the left field corner. When Melky Cabrera starting playing kickball with the baseball, Rangers third base coach Steve Smith waved home Texeira. Cabrera threw a relay strike to Jeter who in turn threw a two-hopper to Posada in front of home plate. Posada scooped up Jeter's throw and braced himself as Texaira hit him like a fullback on Super Bowl Sunday. Posada held on to the ball and his senses for the third out of the inning. An already energized Yankees bench was jacked up even further.

Cabrera led off the sixth with a single and Johnny Damon followed with a walk. Derek Jeter then made a possible comeback a reality when he took a Scott Feldman pitch the opposite way, into the right field seats for a 3-run home run. Showalter sent for Joaquin Benoit to try to protect the suddenly slim 10-8 lead. The Yankees weren't done though. Benoit walked A-Rod and Posada before retiring Robinson Cano on a foul out for the first out of the inning. Bernie Williams roped a ball into the right field corner for an RBI double, putting the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position. Andy Phillips struck out looking, but Miguel Cairo hit a soft liner into left field for a two-run single and an 11-10 Yankee lead, and advanced to second on the throw home. The Yankees bench and the remainder of the 40,757 fans went wild. Benoit finally stopped the damage by striking out Cabrera.

The fans were barely over their delirium when an overworked Scott Proctor gave the lead right back. After issuing a lead off walk to Kevin Mench, Proctor left one up in the zone that Brad Wilkerson smacked into the right field seats for his 6th home run of the season and a 12-11 Texas lead. But this game was far from over and Rick Bauer was the new Rangers pitcher being fed to the lions. Mark Texeira committed a rare error on Johnny Damon's lead off grounder to start the 7th. Derek Jeter then laid down a beautiful bunt single near the third base line. Catcher Rod Barajas's throw was wide of Texeira allowing Damon to advance to third. Bauer retired A-Rod on a comebacker, but Posada delivered again, sending a fly ball to left-center field for a game tying sacrifice fly.

Amazingly, neither team scored in the 8th. The Yankees then turned things over in the 9th to Mariano Rivera. Mo's recent struggles continued as he allowed a lead off single to Kevin Mench. After a successful sacrifice bunt by Wilkerson, Rivera issued a walk to light hitting Mark DeRosa. Barajas made Rivera pay with a double into the left corner that put Texas back ahead 14-13 and left runners in scoring position with just one out. With the infield in, Mo escaped further trouble by getting Gary Matthews Jr. to bounce out to Cano for the 2nd out. Michael Young then grounded out as well to finish the threat.

Shawn Chacon's start was a brief last only 1 1-3 innings. Already trailing 2-0 in the 2nd, Chacon got himself in immediate trouble by walking Wilkerson and Matthews, and hitting Barajas in-between. Young singled to left to plate a pair and gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead. Mark Texeira's double in the gap in right-center scored two more and Phil Nevin followed with a single. That was as much as Torre could take and Chacon had his shortest exit of his Yankee career. With the Yankees struggles this season, it was especially disconcerting after Chacon's 4 1-3 inning, 100 pitch effort his last time out. Aaron Small came on in relief, but was no relief at all. As much as 2005 was a dream season for Small, 2006 has been a nightmare. A bad hamstring kept him on the disabled list to start the season and he has struggled since his recall from Florida. Hank Blalock greeted Small rudely by blasting a 3-run home run to right for a 9-0 Texas lead, and put the final ugly stamp on Chacon's pitching line for the night.


Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter and Miguel Cairo combined for 12 RBI. Jeter's 4-5 night raised his average back up to .349.

Shawn Chacon's ERA rose to 5.21 after allowing 7 earned runs in 1.1 innings. Aaron Small's ERA stood at 8.71 after the game and his days in pinstripes could be numbered.

Melky Cabrera went 2-3, but continues to struggle in the field. Though he isn't committing errors, he is having trouble judging fly balls and handling base hits. One problem may be that the Yankees have him positioned to deep in left field.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lifeless Bats Spoil Mussina Effort

Rangers top anemic offense 4-2

Brian Cashman appeared on the various local radio shows last week insisting that the Yankees would not panic in trying to replace Hideki Matsui's offense once Godzilla went down with a badly injured wrist. It still may not be time to panic, but it is certainly time to speed up the process. The Yankees wasted another marvelous outing by Mike Mussina last night in dropping a 4-2 decision to the Texas Rangers.

I literally laughed nearly uncontrollably when Yankee announcer Jim Kaat said that the Yankees still had plenty of offense even without Matsui or Sheffield. Did Kaat happen to notice that Robinson Cano was batting 5th behind Alex Rodriguez? While Cano is proving to be quite adept with the bat, pitchers don't fear him and aren't going to throw A-Rod any good pitches. The last 3 batters in last night's lineup, Bernie Williams, Bubba Crosby, and Melky Cabrera don't have any pitchers quaking in their cleats.

Things started out all right. Kevin Millwood (4-3), who was hammered for 9 runs in 1-Plus innings his last time out was on the hill for the Rangers and had been looking anything like the ace of the staff. Robinson Cano led off the 2nd with a single and raced to third when Mark Texeira robbed Bernie Williams of a base hit at first. Cano kept looking over his shoulder, thinking the ball had gone into right field, and never stopped. Bubba Crosby followed with a 2-out RBI single for a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth, A-Rod led off with a double and came home on Cano's RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead. Cano's single was the Yankees fourth hit of the game. They would manage only 2 more hits the rest of the evening.

Mike Mussina pretty much cruised along until the fifth inning. Brad Wilkerson led off the inning with a solo home run, his fifth, and Mark DeRose and Rod Barajas followed with singles. Texas pushed across the tying run on a ground out that moved the runners up and a sacrifice fly by Michael Young.

As a steady rain started to fall, neither team could hit their opponents starting pitching. Mussina gave way to Kyle Farnsworth (1-1) to start the eighth. The heaviest rain of the night began to fall as the Rangers put together their game winning rally. Gary Matthews Jr. led off the inning with a double, advanced to the third on a wild pitch and scored the go ahead run on a single by Mark Texeira. After a walk to Phil Nevin, Hank Blalock lined a single to left bringing home Texeira ahead of Melky Cabrera's throw. Farnsworth finally struck out Kevin Mench to end the inning before the umpire crew chief Deryl Cousins finally had the grounds crew put the tarp on the field. A 22 minute delay ensued, about the only way the Yankees could chase Kevin Millwood from the game. They only managed a Derek Jeter single off of Francisco Cordero in the eighth and went down in order in the ninth to closer Akinori Otsuka, who picked up his 5th save.

Monday, May 15, 2006

The Big Dud

Johnson, Yankees come up short, 6-1

By the time Randy Johnson settled into yesterday's ball game with the Oakland Athletics it was too little, too late. Johnson pitched somewhat effectively after the first inning, but put himself and the Yankees in a hole right from the start, 3-0. With no Hideki Matsui or Gary Sheffield in the lineup, the weakened Yankees lineup didn't have enough firepower to stage a rally. A's starter Danny Haren used his 100th pitch to induce a game ending double play ball hit by Robinson Cano. Haren, who had come in with a 5.03 ERA, threw the 4th complete game of his career and won for the third time in his last four starts.

Control problems have plagued Johnson (5-4) during his stretch of mediocrity, but he only walked one batter on Sunday. Unfortunately it was to the first batter of the game, Mark Ellis. Two batters later, Mark Kotsay drilled his 3rd home run of the season into the right field seats for a 2-0 lead. Singles by Bobby Crosby and Bobby Kielty led to another run as Crosby came across on Jay Payton's fielder choice. Jason Kendall blooped a double to right before Johnson finally retired Marcos Scutaro on a fly to Bernie Williams in right to end the inning.

Jorge Posada belted his 5th home run of the season in the 2nd to cut the margin to 3-1, but the Yankees managed just 5 singles off of Haren the rest of the day. The A's added another run off of Johnson in the 5th when Jay Payton his first home run of the season and his first in 54 games dating back to last season. It also brought with it another chorus of boos from the Mother's Day crowd of 52,587. With no hitting and the supposed ace pitching like anything but that, it's a sound that may be heard all too often this summer in the Bronx.


To commemorate Mother's Day and to assist the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, a number of pink bats were distributed throughout Major League Baseball. Mark Kotsay was among the three A's to use them and homered with his.

Scott Erickson made his first Major League appearance in a Yankee uniform (he wore #46) and pitched to mixed reviews. In an inning and two-thirds he allowed 2 walks and 1 run.

Ramiro Mendoza continues to try to make it back to the big club. Mendoza would have had a better shot elsewhere, but wanting to be a Yankee again, he re-signed with the team this past off-season. After Sunday's 6 scoreless innings as a starter, he has now not been scored upon in 3 appearances covering 11 1-3 innings. He has also struck out 11.

Tanyon Sturtze is scheduled to undergo an MRI to see if there is any physical damage that is causing him pain. While that may not be the case, Yankee fans will be relieved from some of the pain they had watching him.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Yankees Have The Wright Stuff

A-Rod, Jeter go deep in 4-3 win

For the second straight game without Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, the Yankees relied on pitching, defense, and some timely home runs to defeat the Oakland A's by a final score of 4-3. In doing so Jaret Wright won his first game since September, 2005. Alex Rodriguez got the Yankees off to a quick start belting a long 3-run home run off of former teammate Brad Halsey in the first inning. The ball sailed over the wall in left-center, and took one hop up into the bleachers. It was A-Rod's 9th home run of the season and the 3rd in the last 4 games, a streak that couldn't have come at a better time. Derek Jeter turned on a Halsey pitch in the third and sent it into the left field seats for his 4th home run and a 4-0 lead.

Jaret Wright was on the mound for the first time in 10 days, but was fairly sharp. In 5 1-3 innings he allowed 2 runs, 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 5. Wright actually didn't give up a run himself, but left with runners on the corners and one out in the 6th. For some reason, Joe Torre opted for Tanyon Sturtze once again. Sturtze has been nothing short of awful this season, and expect for about a 2 month period last year, has been awful, period. Saturday afternoon was no different. Jason Kendall singled in a run to cut the lead to 4-1. After Marcos Scutaro hit into a fielder's choice Mark Ellis doubled down the left field line to cut the lead to 4-2 and put the tying runs in scoring position. That brought out Torre to bring in the incredibly reliable Scott Proctor. Sturtze left to a chorus of boos, both at Yankee Stadium and front any fans watching or listening to the game at home or on the car radio. Proctor came up big again, striking Nick Swisher to end the threat.

Proctor pitched a scoreless 7th and 8th before turning things over to Kyle Farnsworth to close things out. Mariano Rivera was unavailable after 3 straight appearances. After a lead off to Swisher, Jeter booted Mark Kotsay's potential double play ball.
Farnsworth bounced back getting Eric Chavez to pop out and caught Bobby Crosby looking at strike three. Jay Payton delivered a two-out single through the left side to cut he margin to 4-3 before Dan Johnson grounded out to Robinson Cano at 2nd to end the ball game.


Tanyon Sturtze was placed on the disabled list after the game after it was revealed he had been hiding shoulder pain. This is the second time Sturtze has done this as a Yankee as he pitched the last few months of last season with a worn out shoulder. Despite Joe Torre's contention that Sturtze was doing it for the team, this is a totally selfish move and should lead to Sturtze's release. It probably won't happen though.

Scott Erickson was recalled to take Sturtze's spot on the roster. Hopefully this is a temporary move to relieve a tired bullpen. As a member of the Dodgers last season Erickson had a 6.02 ERA in 19 appearances including 8 starts. At Triple-A Columbus this season was 1-2, 4.24, but had allowed 21 hits and 11 walks in just 17 innings.

Robinson Cano was 1-3 yesterday and has now had a hit in 27 of the 31 games he's played.

A-Rod's home run was the 438th of his career and his 93rd as a Yankee. Derek Jeter's home run was his 173rd.

Scott Proctor's turnaround continues to be a marvel. The right hander, who was throwing between 94 and 97 mph yesterday, had allowed 7 walks in his first 14 innings this season. Since then he has thrown 10 1-3 innings and has allowed just 2 walks while striking out 11. The league is hitting just .186 against him.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Cashman Won't Panic

Amid much speculation by Buster Olney, Mike and the Mad Dog, and others, Brian Cashman isn't going to panic into making a deal to replace the injured Hideki Matsui. Cashman was a guest on M&MD, and as expected didn't give any information away. Cashman wouldn't be admitting if he were working on anything any way, but he stuck to the company line. Melky Cabrera and Bubba Crosby will get the bulk of the playing time until Gary Sheffield comes back. Cashman denied published reports that Sheff's injury was worse than the Yankees were letting on. Cash is hopeful that Sheffield will be ready on or about May 21, the day he's eligible to return from the DL.

Cashman also confirmed that Kevin Reese (Bubba Crosby lite in my book) was recalled from Columbus to take Matsui's spot on the roster. Reese was chosen over Kevin Thompson because of his left handed bat.

Bad Breaks Cost Yankees Double

Lose Game and Hideki Matsui in 5-3 Loss

It would have been bad enough if the Yankees had just lost last night's game to the Red Sox, 5-3, but the Yankees may have lost their starting center fielder for the remainder of the season. With Gary Sheffield already on the disabled list, Hideki Matsui badly broke his wrist in the first inning trying to make a sliding catch on a sinking blooper off the bat of Mark Loretta. Matsui's body slid on the grass, but his glove and wrist stayed put and it was clear that the man who played in 1,768 straight games for the Yomiuri Giants and the Yankees was in pain.

To make matters worse the Yankees squandered a 3-1 lead, and a defensive lap by right fielder Bernie Williams helped cost them the game. When Matsui was injured Bubba Crosby moved over from right field to left and Williams entered the ball game. The defense actually had been stellar leading up to the 7th as both Crosby and Johnny Damon took home runs away with over the wall leaping grabs. Robinson Cano also had a nice running grab on a blooper with the bases loaded to help quash a rally.

After a one-out single by Doug Mirabelli off of Ron Villone, Alex Gonzalez lofted a high fly in the right field corner. Williams raced towards the line expecting to make a leaping attempt into the seats to catch a foul ball. But the wind took the ball back into play and Williams overran it, reaching out in vain as the ball bounced in fair territory and hopped in the seats for a ground-rule double (the original ruling of a two-base error was changed after the game).

Kyle Farnsworth relieved Villone (0-1) as the top of the Red Sox order got ready to hit. Lead off man Kevin Youkilis hit a bullet, but right at Robinson Cano for the 2nd out of the inning. New Yankee nemesis Mark Loretta struck again hitting a ball in the hole between short and third. Derek Jeter made a diving stop and threw from his knees to try to catch the speedy Loretta. Jeter's throw pulled 1st Baseman Miguel Cairo off the bag and Cairo's sweeping tag dislodged the ball from his mitt. Mirabelli scored the tying run and Gonzalez, running all the way with two outs, scored easily from 2nd with the go ahead run as the ball rolled away from Cairo. It was Loretta's second and third RBI of the game. You could immediately feel the air sucked out of Yankee Stadium as the fans sat in stunned silence.

Jeter tried to rally the troops in the bottom half of the 7th against Mike Timlin. Jeter lined a one-out single to right and then stole 2nd base, his third steal of the night. Timlin overpowered Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez with a pair of strike outs to end the threat.

The Yankees failed to get the tying run in again in the 8th after Bernie Williams lead off double. Keith Foulke got Jorge Posada to fly out and Robinson Cano to bounce out to first. With the tying run at 3rd and two out manager Terry Francona opted to go to his closer Jon Papelbon to face Miguel Cairo. Cairo who had a rough night against knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (3-4) struck out to end the inning.

The Red Sox added a big insurance run off the suddenly shaky Mariano Rivera in the 9th. Youkilis delivering a two-out single drove in Willie Harris from second with the Sox fifth run of the game. The Yankee had one more shot in the 9th when Jeter drew a two-out walk, but Giambi popped out to Gonzalez at short to end the game.

The Yankees had taken a 2-0 lead in the first after loading the bases on a single by Derek Jeter and walks to A-Rod and Bernie Williams. Jorge Posada delivered a single to plate a pair. David Ortiz's RBI ground out in the 3rd cut the lead in half, but Jeter's RBI single in the 4th made it a 2-run game again.


Derek Jeter had 3 hits and tied a career high with 3 stolen bases. He raised his batting average back up to .349.

Johnny Damon is just 1-16 with 1 RBI against his former teammates. George cannot be happy!

The victory was Tim Wakefield's 9th against the Yankees; his 6th at Yankee Stadium.

Kevin Reese was called up after the game to take Hideki Matsui's spot on the roster.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mussina Pitches Yankees Back To The Top

Home Runs Back the Real Ace's Effort

One night after the Yankees and Randy Johnson were humiliated by the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees sent their true top pitcher to the mound to exact some revenge. Things didn't start out too well for Mike Mussina (6-1), but they turned around for him and the Yankee bats in big time fashion as the Yankees rallied for a 7-3 win.

The Yankees fell behind in the early going thanks in large part once again to David Ortiz. Big Papi was in a 1-20 slump when he came to the Bronx on Tuesday, and has gone 5-8 since. Yesterday's 4-4 performance included a 2-run blast off of Mussina in the first inning for his 12th home run of the season. One inning later, Mike Lowell turned on a pitch that Moose left up in the strike zone and sent it into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead.

Curt Schilling struck out two in the bottom of the first and many Yankee fans were probably thinking, "Here we go again". The Yankees offense quickly turned that around though as Mussina settled in. With one out in the second, Jorge Posada doubled to the gap in right-center and Robinson extended his hitting streak to 9 games with a line single to center. With runners on the corners, Bernie Williams pushed the Yankees first run across with a sacrifice fly to center field. Melky Cabrera continued the rally with a hard earned walk before Manny Ramirez made a nice over the shoulder grab on Johnny Damon's tailing fly to left to end the inning.

The Red Sox threatened against Mussina again in the third loading the bases with 2 outs. Ortiz beat the shift with a single and Manny Ramirez followed with a double to left. After walking Trot Nixon, Mussina escaped trouble by getting Jason Varitek to ground to Alex Rodriguez at third.

The Yankees pounced on Schilling in the bottom half of the third. Derek Jeter lined a single to right and was followed by Jason Giambi who is as locked in as anyone right now. Giambi hit a backdoor cutter high arching high in the night sky and into the right-center field bleachers to tie the game, 3-3.

The game remained tied until the fifth inning. Schilling struck out Jeter and Giambi to start it off, but then A-Rod crushed a pitch off the front of the upper deck in left for a 4-3 lead. Two batters later, Jorge Posada turned on a hanging breaking pitch and launched a 2-run homer to right for a 6-3 lead. Schilling (5-2) would finish the inning, but he was done for the evening, his shortest outing of the season.

The Yankees added some insurance in the 6th off of newly called up reliever Mike Holtz. Bernie Williams switched around to the right side and led off with a double. After Melky Cabrera sacrificed him to third, Damon finally got a big hit against his former mates, singling to center to increase the lead to 7-3.

Mussina cruised into the 7th where he allowed a two single and was lifted from the mound by Joe Torre. Mussina exited to a standing ovation from the 54,000 plus fans and waved his hand in appreciation. The Red Sox put runners on the corners with two out for Manny Ramirez, but the new star of the bullpen, Scott Proctor, blew a fastball by him for an inning ending strike out. Mariano Rivera pitched an easy 1-2-3 ninth inning in a non-save situation to nail down the win.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The Ex-Files - Part I

It's time to take a look at how the ex-Bombers are doing around major league baseball.


In his time as a Yankee Jose Contreras proved that he couldn't handle pressure situations. Turns out he couldn't handle being a New York Yankee. A change of scenery,some TLC from pitching coach Don Cooper, and renewed confidence have turned Contreras into a pitching stud. The only thing that has been stopping Contreras is sciatica. He had to placed on the 15-day DL and is expected to miss 2 starts. Contreras was looking mediocre last August when things turned around for him. Since then he has gone 13-0 in 14 decisions with a 1.80 ERA. This year he's been lights out, going 5-0, 1.41.

Like Contreras, it appeared that Javier Vazquez couldn't handle the craziness of the big city either. Then it turned out he was hiding a shoulder injury that caused him to alter his delivery and give up one home run after another. Vazquez has started this season 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA. I have to take this with a grain of salt considering how Vazquez started his brief tenure with the Yankees and Diamondbacks, and the fact that he's had 3 starts against Kansas City. Vazquez made the all-star team in 2004 after going 10-5, 3.56. Post-break he had a 6.92 ERA. Last season with Arizona Vazquez was outstanding in May, July, and September, and awful in April, June, and August. He also allowed 35 home runs after allowing 33 the prior year. This year he's allowed just 1. Will the real Javier Vazquez please stand up.

Nick Johnson is finally healthy. The Washington Nationals are hoping he can finally stay that way. Through his first 30 games, many of them as the clean up hitter, Johnson is hitting .300 with 8 home runs and 20 RBI. His 21 walks have helped him achieve a .968 OPS. He's also stolen 4 bases.

Strong and Steady

Alfonso Soriano balked at playing the outfield in his contract year. Then he changed his mind, grabbed an outfield glove and before long was leading the National League in assists. It was feared that the Nationals spacious ballpark would hurt Soriano's production, and although his average his 50 points lower at home, his home run and RBI production have been good. Soriano also seems to be adjusting to the National League just fine. He's belted 10 home runs to go along with a .283 average and 20 RBI. He's also stolen 6 bases in 9 attempts. He's slugging .536 and has actually walked 9 times already. Now he just needs to stop thinking about returning to 2nd base next season.

Why Did We Get This Guy?

Jeff Weaver earned his pay as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 27-24, 4.12. A trip 26 miles southeast to Anaheim and a return to the American League has not proven so fruitful. Weaver is 1-5 with a 6.53 ERA, conjuring up not so fond memories for Yankee fans. He's only had 1 quality start in 7 tries and has allowed 8 home runs. The league is hitting .295 against him. Some guys just can't suffer enough.

Unlike Weaver, it is difficult to see El Duque struggling. His first year in the National League (he never pitched when he was dealt to the Expos) has not been kind to Orlando Hernandez. After limiting the Rockies to 1 run and striking out 8 in his 5 innings NL debut, Duque has won just once and has not made it past the 6th inning. Overall he is 2-4, 7.88. The league is hitting .304 against him and he's hurt his own cause by issuing 16 walks in 36.2 innings. Hopefully the ageless wonder will be able to adjust.

This Unit Should Be Condemned

Yankees Lose Ugly, 14-3

Walks, home runs, errors, wild pitches, booing, fans heading for the exits, and television remotes changing the channel. That's what took place last between 7:05 and 10:23 EST at Yankee Stadium. On paper last night's pitching match up between Randy Johnson and Josh Beckett (4-1) looked like a good one. True, both had struggled in recent starts, but it was unlikely for that trend to continue. Beckett upheld his end of the bargain with a solid 7 innings. Randy Johnson (5-3) turned in one of his worst performances as a Yankee, and his 4th bad start in last 5 outings as the Red Sox pummeled the Yankees 14-3.

Things didn't look too bad to start, Johnson did walk 2 in the first inning, but also got a double play, and Jason Giambi belted a 2-run shot off of Beckett in the bottom of the first. After getting three ground ball outs in the third, the wheels started to came off for Johnson and the Yankees in the 3rd. Dustan Mohr's lead off single was followed by a walk to Alex Gonzalez, the third free pass issued by Johnson. Two outs later, the Sox had runners on 2nd and 3rd, and "The Killer" was up (no not Jerry Lee Lewis). With the Yankees playing a modified shift, Johnson got David Ortiz to hit a sharp grounder right to Alex Rodriguez. Right to and right through actually. The ball skipped behind A-Rod, whose hurried throw to first was not in time to catch the hustling Big Papi. Mohr scored on the play to cut the lead in half. With Manny Ramirez in the batter's box, Johnson reared back and fired a hard fastball. Only problem was that it was about 8 feet too high. The ball ticked off of the top of Jorge Posada outstretched glove and went to the backstop for a wild pitch. Gonzalez scored and the game was tied at two. That didn't last long though as Ramirez singled in Ortiz with the go-ahead run. Jason Varitek then drew the fourth walk of the game before Mike Lowell struck out to end the inning.

Things only got uglier in the fourth when Johnson's control and the swirling winds both worsened. With one out, Johnson issued his 5th walk of the game to Mohr. Gonzalez followed with a single and both runners advanced on another wild pitch. With two outs, Johnson fell behind in the count to Mark Loretta, 3-0. Red Sox manager Terry Francona then gambled with Ortiz on deck by giving Loretta the green light to swing. Francona's intuition paid off as Johnson threw a batting practice fastball right down the middle. Loretta turned on it and hit it down the left field line, past a diving A-Rod, for a two-run single. When Ortiz followed with a double, Joe Torre had finally seen enough. Johnson exited to a chorus of well deserved boos.

Aaron Small came on in relief and the next play epitomized the evening. Ramirez popped Small's pitch up into shall center field. Robinson Cano, near second base, quickly started chasing the ball, which was now blowing towards right. New right fielder Melky Cabrera, who had a nightmarish outfield experience last season, woke up to the same nightmare this time. Cabrera overran the ball, reaching back at the last moment, only to have the ball pop out of his glove for an error. Two runs scored on the play and the Yankees were officially done for the evening. Unfortunately for the Yankees and their fans, the Red Sox were far from done.

Small gave a 3-run shot to Alex Gonzalez and solo blast to Ramirez. After Ron Villone managed to toss two shut out innings, Tanyon Sturtze came on to do his usual "throw grease on the fire" act. Three more runs saw Sturtze's ERA balloon to 7.84.


After an outstanding Spring Training Randy Johnson was 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA after 3 games. He did not issue a walk in the 20 innings he pitched in those starts. That third start was his 5 inning outing against Kansas City when his early departure led to many questions. Johnson had first denied anything was wrong, before admitting his arm felt a little tired. Since then, however, his numbers have been horrible. Whether it is physical and/or mental issues that are effecting his performance, this is NOT what the Yankees bargained for when they acquired Johnson prior to the 2005 season.

Excluding his one good start since then against Baltimore, Johnson has worked 18 2-3 innings (less than 5 innings per start), allowing 25 runs, 20 earned runs, and has walked 13. Remarkably he has won two of the four games thanks to the Yankees offense. One thing is for certain, if the Yankees don't straighten out Johnson quickly the season will be lost just as quickly.

Bernie Williams showed a rare angry streak last night when he struck out for the second time against Beckett. He argued briefly with home plate umpire Charlie Reliford after being called out on strikes in the fifth. Then after striking out in the 7th, Bernie's frustration boiled over as he headed towards the dugout, flinging his helmet back behind him. The helmet skipped across the home plate area and glanced off of the leg of Reliford who immediate tossed Williams from the ball game. A suspension is likely.

Alex Rodriguez's woes continue when the Yankees play in the spotlight. A-Rod took the collar in 3 at-bats and committed two errors in the field. His average now stands at .259.

Melky Cabrera went 2-3 with an RBI in his first game back with the Yankees, but it's his fielding that everyone will remember from last night. Cabrera was rushed to the majors last season and was clearly overmatched at the plate and in the field. He had a good winter league seasons, a good Spring Trained, and was hitting very well as a center fielder for the Columbus Clippers of the International League when he was recalled. Though he had only played 1 game in right field prior to his recall, even with the wind, Cabrera has to make the plays if he expects to make it in the major leagues. So far he hasn't proven that he's more than a very good minor leaguer.

Tanyon Sturtze continued to campaign to be designated for assignment with a one innings, three run performance. It's time for him to go. Octavio Dotel can't get back to the majors soon enough.

Last year may also have been the best we are going to see out of Aaron Small. He's allowed runs in all three of his appearances to the tune of a 14.40 ERA. The league is hitting .346 against him.

Hey Joe, time to let Ron Villone have some more chances! He couldn't be any uglier than The Big Ugly himself.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

MLB News and Notes

As expected the Yankees have placed Gary Sheffield on the 15-day disabled list with an injured left wrist". Melky Cabrera has been recalled from Triple-A and will get the bulk of the playing time while Sheffield is out. Cabreras has been splitting time for the Columbus Clippers between center field and right field and was hitting .384 with 4 home runs and 22 RBI in 122 at-bats at the time of his call up. He also had a .566 slugging percentage

The Devil Rays top prospect, Delmon Young has been suspended 50 games by the International League for his bat throwing incident last month. Upset at being called out on strikes, Young fired that bat at home plate umpire, striking him in the chest. Young has also been ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. Considering what occurred, Young was lucky to only be suspended for 50 games.

Barry Bonds is expected to be in the lineup tonight when the San Francisco Giants take on the Chicago Cubs. Bonds will eventually pass Babe Ruth. The hope here is that the ball is caught by a Cubs fan who immediately destroys it. Oh, and Andy Nesbitt, of, you can go take a flying leap into McCovey's Cove. Nesbitt feels that "we" should be rooting for Bonds. Yeah, okay.

The Cardinals Sidney Ponson was off to a great start, but had to leave his last outing with a pulled muscle in his elbow. Ponson, 3-0 with a 2.81 ERA, could wind up on the DL. His teammate, Ricardo Rincon is expected to have season ending shoulder surgery this week.

Jose Contreras, considered by many to be the best pitcher in baseball right now, may be headed to the DL as well. Contreras has been lights out since last August, winning 13 of 14 decisions (one no-decision). This year he's been nearly unhittable going 5-0 with a 1.41 ERA. After throwing a side session on Saturday, Contreras woke up in severe pain in his hip and back on Sunday morning. At the very least he will be scratched from his scheduled start on Wednesday.

Torre Joins Yankee Elite

When Yankees first baseman Andy Phillips recorded the final putout on Sunday, Joe Torre went where only 3 previous Yankee managers had gone before. The 1,000 victory mark. Joe McCarthy (1,460), Casey Stengel (1,149), and Miller Huggins (1,060) sit atop the list of all-time Yankees victories with Torre gaining quickly. Torre is in his 11th season as the head man in the Yankees dugout, quite an accomplishment in itself. No Yankees manager has lasted more than 5 years since Ralph Houk ran the ball club from 1967-1973. Not coincidentally that run came to an end when George Steinbrenner purchased the ball club.

Torre had won 894 games combined as manager of the Mets, Braves, and Cardinals. Those were years that contributed to the name "Clueless Joe" that was splashed across the New York newspapers when Torre was hired as Yankees manager prior to the 1996 season. With 4 World Championships in 5 years, Torre suddenly became a genius. Now that the Yankees haven't won a title since 2000 his detractors have started using the word "clueless" again and trying to give all of the victorious credit to the since departed Don Zimmer.

The bottom line is that it takes talent to win. Could Torre have won without Steinbrenner's deep pockets and clever trades (e.g. Roberto Kelly for Paul O'Neill) by the front office? Probably not, but the same can be said for any other successful manager. In today's market, it takes money and a smart front office to win.

Great managers can make players better and help good or very good teams get better. Bad managers can take a great team and run it into the ground. Torre has done the former with the Yankees. A lot of fans, especially those who hate the Yankees, feel that Torre just has to make out the lineup card and the players will take care of the rest. The same was said about Sparky Anderson, admittedly by myself as well, until he went to Detroit and was equally as successful. It's not that unusual either for a manager to have success in one town, but not be able to match it in others.

Times have changed since the Yankees last won in 2000, but so has the formula for the Yankees success. Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Andy Pettitte...the list goes on. Players who are all-stars, but not necessarily Hall of Famers (with the exception of Jeter), made up those teams from 1996-2000. They put up very good numbers, outstanding in some cases, but they weren't big time studs like an Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, or Vlad Guerrero. They understood what it took to win and how to sacrifice for the good of the team. They had players, like Tim Raines, who could have started for other teams, but chose less playing time in New York instead for a chance to win. I have not read Buster Olney's book, "The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty: The Game, the Team, and the Cost of Greatness", but I am sure there is common ground between what he wrote and what I and many other Yankees fans realize. Since the Yankees started going for the cream of the crop players, like A-Rod, the post-season success rate of the team has diminished. The players may have the talent, but don't necessarily have the character when it comes to crunch time.

If the Yankees don't win the World Series again this year, it may very well be time for a change in the manager's office. Sometimes change shakes thing up. More likely than not, however, it will be because of who makes up the 25 man roster that determines whether or not the Yankees win. The roster is filled with question marks, but the manager's chair is not.

Monday, May 8, 2006

Yankees - Red Sox Gear Up For Battle Again (5/8)

Tuesday night the Yankees and Red Sox will begin a three game series, their first meeting of the season at Yankee Stadium. Last Monday the two teams met in Fenway for the first of a two game series. As it turned out only one game was played due to a rainout on Tuesday night. Monday's game saw the Sox win 7-3 as Yankee killer supreme David Ortiz struck again. The Yankees lead 3-1 before Boston and tied it and ultimately broke it open when Ortiz hit a 3-run shot off lefty specialist and former teammate Mike Myers. Aaron Small took his first loss as a Yankee while Mike Timlin picked up the victory.

Each game has a good pitching match up - at least on paper anyway.

Monday - Josh Beckett vs. Randy Johnson
Tuesday - Curt Schilling vs. Mike Mussina
Thursday - Tim Wakefield vs. Shawn Chacon

Randy Johnson beat the Red Sox 5 times in 2005 including the division clinching victory in October. Johnson has struggled in 3 of his last 4 starts and the Yankees certainly cannot afford for that trend to continue.

This is the first time the Yankees will have faced Beckett since the 2003 World Series when the right hander beat them twice. The image of Derek Jeter bouncing out to Beckett to end the series is still engrained in my mind. The Yankees don't have much experience against him in the regular season. Gary Sheffield is 3-13 with 1 home run and 5 RBI, but will miss the game and the series. Miguel Cairo is the only other Yankee to face him in a non-post season situation. Cairo went 0-3 with 1 RBI.

Beckett won his first three starts this year, going 7 innings in each while allowing just 1 run. His last 3 outings have been a different story all together. Though he only has 1 loss and 2 no-decisions, Beckett has allowed 17 earned runs in 16 innings. It has caused his ERA to balloon from 1.29 to 4.86. He's also allowed 6 home runs and 10 walks in those 3 starts.

Mike Mussina has been nothing less than magnificent thus far. He may not be recognized as the official ace of the Yankees, but he has certainly performed that way. He's among leaders with his 5-1 record, 2.35 ERA, 42 strike outs and 0.98 ratio. Moose struggled against the Red Sox last year, going 0-2 in 4 starts, with a 7.20 ERA. Of course Moose pitched most of the season with a painful elbow. Mussina's career record in the regular season versus Boston is 17-14.

Mussina's opponent tomorrow night also struggled with injury last year. Curt Schilling was still suffering from his infamous injured ankle last year and it affected his performance. As did his noticeable weight gain. This year, Schilling is healthy and he has dropped weight. Schilling starts are very comparable to Mussina's. He's 5-1 with a 3.02 ERA, 47 strike outs, and a 0.99 ratio. He was 2-2, 4.15 versus the Yankees in 2005 and is 5-4 lifetime.

Shawn Chacon has won his last 3 starts, allowing just 3 earned runs in 19 2-3 innings. He’s raised his record to 4-1 while lowering his ERA to 3.94. Chacon got hammered in his one start against Boston last year, but showed in last year’s ALDS that he can pitch in pressure games.

Tim Wakefield has been a thorn in the Yankees side since the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry heated up again in 1999. Yes, he is the pitcher who served up Aaron Boone’s ALCS clinching home run, but if not for him there would not have been a game 7. In 2005 the Yankees actually solved Wakefield a bit, beating him 4 times. He’s 8-12 lifetime against the Yankees, 4-7 since 2001. He had a no-decision in last week’s game after producing a quality 7 innings, allowing 3 runs in the process.


Bernie Williams has gone 9-22 (.409) over the last 5 games to raise his average from .217 to .268.

Robinson Cano has a modest 7 game hitting streak (10-30, .333) that has actually dropped his average from .324 to .327.

Scott Proctor continues to emerge as a force out of the bullpen. With Taynon Sturtze’s continued struggles, Joe Torre has gone to Proctor in more situations than he has in the past. Proctor has allowed just 2 of 16 inherited runners to score.

David Ortiz has seen his batting average drop to .256 after picking up only 1 hit in his last 20 at-bats. Ortiz was in a 5-22 skid when he faced the Yankees last week, going 3-4 with a home run and 4 RBI.