Thursday, June 29, 2006

Around the Horn - 6/29

Pedro Martinez had already received a loud ovation and a video tribute from the Fenway faithful on Tuesday night. Last night he received another loud ovation as he took the mound to face his former team. Pedro returned the favor in kind - he got raked for 8 runs in 3 innings. Pedros' lack of focus was clear in the 1st inning. With two men and none out, David Ortiz hit a comebacker that Martinez fielded cleanly - then froze as he went to throw to 3rd - then froze as he went to second. He finally settled for getting Ortiz at 1st.

It's been well documented that left field in Fenway Park is extremely difficult to play. So why did Mets Manager Willie Randolph put inexperienced rookie Lastings Milledge out there? Milledge misplayed a ball into an extra base hit on Tuesday and dropped a fly ball last night.

Joe Mauer's torrid streak continues. The Twins catcher went 2-3 yesterday, plus a walk, and is 11 for his last 13. He's now hitting .392.

Lou Piniella may not be managing right now, but he still has an influence on some players. Piniella stopped by Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to speak with his former shortstop Alex Rodriguez. Piniella was a father figure to A-Rod in their days in Seattle and they ended up talking until 3 in the morning. A-Rod then proceeded to hit his walk-off game winner yesterday.

The Cincinnati Reds rewarded manager Jerry Narron with a 2 year extension and picked up the option for the 2008 season for GM Wayne Krivsky. The surprising reds are 6 games over .500 and only 1.5 games behind 1st place St. Louis in the NL Central.

A-Rod Walks Off the Hero

12th Inning Home Run Tops Braves 4-3

Alex Rodriguez has been hearing boos for weeks, so when it came time to hear some cheers, Rodriguez didn't acknowledge them. And who could blame them. The Yankees trailed the Atlanta Braves 3-2 in the 12th inning yesterday afternoon when Jason Giambi drew a one-out walk from reliever Jorge Sosa (2-10). That brought the much maligned A-Rod to the plate. Moments later the remainder of the crowd of 54,186 were on their feet cheering wildly as A-Rod crushed a Sosa fastball. The ball cleared the Yankees bullpen in left-center to give the Yankees a come from behind 4-3 victory.

The same fans who had been booing earlier in the game were now on their feet chanting for a curtain call. A-Rod ignored it, bolting for the clubhouse as soon as he was done being mobbed by his teammates. How it affects his relationship with the fans remains to be seen, but no one could blame Rodriguez for not placating the fans. He also realizes it was just one game, just one at-bat. It was his 16th home run of the season and the 445th of his career.

The win made sure that starter Chien-Ming Wang's efforts were not in vein. Wang gave the bullpen much needed rest as he went 8 innings, allowing 2 runs on 7 hits, walked 1 and struck out 2. 19 of the 24 outs he recorded were on the grounder, a stat that leads in the AL. He needed just 91 pitches to complete his day.

The Yankee hitters couldn't muster anything against Braves start John Smoltz who left with a lead for the 6th time this season, only to end up with a no-decision. The Yankees put two on with two out in the 2nd, on a Derek Jeter double and a Giambi walk, but Rodriguez lined hard to center. It was the only real trouble Smoltz got into other than the 6th when he gave up a lead off single to Melky Cabrera, who advanced to third on Giambi's one-out single. A-Rod hit a comebacker off of Smoltz that resulted in an RBI ground out that cut the Braves lead in half at 2-1.

Kenny Ray relieved Smoltz to start the 8th and one batter later allowed Giambi's 23rd home run of the season. The high shot hit the foul pole in right to tie the game at 2-2. Mariano Rivera pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Wang before Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers, and Scott Proctor walked the tight rope into the 12th. That's when Marcus Giles took advantage of a 95-mph fastball that Proctor left up in the zone and smacked it out for his 5th home run of the season. Ron Villone (1-1) picked up the final out in the 12th and ended up earning his first win as a Yankee.

The Braves had scored single runs in the 4th (doubles by Edgar Renteria and Andruw Jones) and the 6th (Brian McCann RBI single). Smoltz made the lead hold up, but nothing could hold A-Rod's hit in the ball park.


Derek Jeter doubled in the 2nd inning to give 220 career interleague hits, tops among all players.

Chien-Ming Wang has become the Yankees #2 man behind Mike Mussina. Wang has gone 7 or more innings in 5 straight starts.

Melky Cabrera has a modest 5 game hitting streak that has seen his average rise from .248 to .261.

Yankees top prospect Phillip Hughes tossed 5 innings of 1-hit, shutout ball against New Hampshire yesterday as the Trenton Thunder picked up the win. It marked the 3rd time in June that Hughes had a no-hitter going into the 5th.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Around the Horn - 6/28

ESPN Analyst and Baseball Hall of Fame member Peter Gammons suffered an aneurysm at his Cape Cod home yesterday. The 61-year old Gammons underwent surgery and is expected to remain in intensive care for 10-12 days. Our prayers go out to him and his family.

Pedro Martinez may have been worried about the reception he would receive upon his return to Boston this week, but his fears were quickly alleviated. At the end of the first inning in last night's game, the Red Sox played a tribute video in honor of Pedro's 7 year career in Boston. The Fenway faithful went crazy and gave Martinez a standing ovation. Just who will the fans be rooting for tonight when Pedro tries to snap the Sox 10 game winning streak.

To say that Joe Mauer has come into his own this season would be an understatement. The only thing missing from his game is power and that is sure to come. He's gone 9-10 in the first two games of his Twins series against the LA Dodgers to raise his average to a Major League best .389. After hitting "just" .319 in April, Mauer has hit .389 in May and .448 so far in June. He has 100 hits in the 68 games he has played.

With just a little over a month to go before the non-waiver trade deadline, rumors are heating up. One rumor that was vehemently denied yesterday by Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos. Angelos said under no circumstances will Miguel Tejada be dealt.

One trade was made yesterday with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Devil Rays swapping pitchers and catchers. The Dodgers sent catcher Dionner Navarro, pitcher Jae Seo, and a player to be named later for catcher Toby Hall and left-handed starter Mark Hendrickson.

Lackluster Yankees Fall to Braves 5-2

No-show bats waste Wright effort

The Atlanta Braves entered last night's game with the Yankees just 4-20 in the month of June. That record was mainly the product of a 10 game losing streak. None of that mattered last night as the Braves beat an undermanned, uninspired Yankees team 5-2. Left-hander Horacio Ramirez scattered 8 hits over 8 innings and allowed just 1 run. The Yankees did their part, going 1-6 with runners in scoring position (the one hit could have been scored an error).

The loss came at the expense of Jaret Wright who had one of his better outings this season. Facing his former team, Wright gave up a run on 5 hits in 6 innings, while walking 2 and striking out 4. Wright through just 90 pitches, but Joe Torre went to his overworked bullpen anyway. The move blew up in his face. Adam Laroche led off the 7th against Ron Villone and promptly belted his 12th home run of the season.

The Yankees halved the lead in the bottom of the 7th when Jorge Posada singled, moved to third on a pair of ground outs and scored on Melky Cabrera's infield single that was misplayed by Chipper Jones at third. The Yankees gave the run right back though in the 8th when Edgar Renteria led off with a single and came around on an RBI single by Jeff Francoeur off of T.J. Beam.

The Braves put the game away in the 9th scoring two more off of the completely ineffective Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth's ERA rose to high 4.98 after pitching 2/3 of an inning. Since May 3 when his ERA stood at 2.53, Farnsworth has pitched 23 2-3 innings, allowing 27 hits, 16 earned runs (6.08 ERA), walked 17, blown 4 saves and lost 4 games. He's managed one win (which came after a blown save) and one save. Clearly he's lost out on the mound right now. Though he downplayed it after the game he also seemed to have issues with Jorge Posada last night as well.

At this rate it's going to be a very long summer in the Bronx.

Melky Cabrera was one of the few bright spots for the Yankees last night. He drove in both runs, including hitting his 2nd Major League home run in the 9th. He also had a chance to pick up another assist, but his throw home on a base hit by Wilson Betemit could not be handled by Posada.

An MRI on the Robinson Cano's left hamstring revealed a small tear and Cano was placed on the DL retroactive to Monday. The training staff is confident that Cano should be able to return when he is eligible.

Jorge Posada had an up and down night. He went 2-4 at the plate, hitting the ball solidly each time up and was robbed of a third hit on a leaping grab by 2nd baseman Pete Orr. Behind the plate Posada had a passed ball and would have had a 2nd one if Adam Laroche had not thought he had fouled a third strike.

Chien-Ming Wang faces John Smoltz in the rubber game of the series this afternoon (1:05 on YES).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Around the Horn

It's been 20 years since the New York beat the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series and Bill Buckner's life was ruined by what seemed like a harmless grounder. Tonight the Mets and Red Sox meet at Fenway Park in interleague action. And tonight the Red Sox faithful will salute the the team that nearly ended the curse and broke their hearts. Unfortunately Bill Buckner won't be there so that the fans can somewhat make it up to him for treating like garbage over the years. Buckner was one of the better offensive and defensive players during his career, but he's only remembered because of that fateful misplay of Mookie Wilson's grounder in game 6. Buckner has a prior commitment with his son and said he would have loved to have been there. You wonder if that's true. As many pundits have pointed out, this salute probably would not have been possible without the Red Sox winning it all in 2004. Winning heals a lot of old wounds.

One of the most amazing things is that the game 6 starter, Rogers Clemens, will be on the mound tonight when the Houston Astros face the Detroit Tigers. Manager John McNamara will also be missing the festivities due to failing health. Rich Gedman and Bob Stanley are both coaches in other organizations and won't be able to attend.

After tonight's match up of rookies Alay Soler and Jon Lester, the veterans go at it. Pedro Martinez makes his return to Fenway against Josh Beckett tomorrow night. The series ends with a great match up Thursday night with Tom Glavine, who grew up a Red Sox fan, going against Curt Schilling.

A couple of milestones were reached over the weekend. Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 549th career home run to pass Mike Schmidt for 11th place on the all-time list. Considering that he is only 36, one can only imagine how many more Jr. would have had by now if not for injuries. He needs 14 more to catch Reggie Jackson.

Mike Mussina picked up his 2500th career strikeout against Florida to become the 28th pitcher to reach that plateau.

Unit Fires Yankees Past Braves 5-2

Johnson Brings His 'A' Game

Randy Johnson was as intense as he has ever been as a Yankee last night in a dominating performance over the Atlanta Braves. Johnson struck out 9 in a 7 inning performance and Jason Giambi provided all the offense with a pair of home runs as the Yankees beat the Braves 5-2. Johnson was throwing on an extra day's rest after serving a 5 game suspension for throwing at the Indians Eduardo Perez. He limited the Braves to 4 hits and did not walk a batter in throwing 106 pitches. Over his last 6 starts, Johnson is 4-2, 3.10 (his ERA is 2.14 without his 4 inning, 5 run performance versus the A's on June 9).

Jason Giambi gave Johnson an immediate lead when he jumped on a Tim Hudson splitter in the first inning and hit into the right-center field bleachers. With Derek Jeter aboard with a single, it gave the Yankees a 2-0 advantage. One inning later Giambi struck again. The Yankees put two aboard on a Johnny Damon double and walk to Jeter who was celebrating his 32nd birthday. Hudson (6-7) left another pitch up in the zone and Giambi made him pay again, smacking another shot to right-center for a 5-0 Yankee lead. Giambi leads the team with 22 HRs and 61 RBI. It would be all the runs the Yankees would need and it was a good thing since they couldn't muster any offense the rest of the night.

The only real trouble Johnson (9-6) got into was in the 6th, when after striking out Todd Pratt and Marcus Giles, he allowed singles to Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones. But Johnson struck out Andruw Jones to end the inning. Johnson triumphantly pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

As has been the case most of this season the Yankees bullpen made the game interesting. After pitching a scoreless eighth, Scott Proctor gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones with no one out in the 9th. Torre stuck with Proctor as he struck out Andruw Jones, but a single by Jeff Francoeur sent Torre to the mound to call on Mariano Rivera. Rivera struck out Matt Diaz for the 2nd out, but then walked Wilson Betemit to put the tying run at the plate. Rivera bounced back though, striking out Adam LaRoche looking to pick up his 17th save.


The Yankees are holding off on placing Robinson Cano on the disabled list with a pulled hamstring. Cano said it felt a little better and the team will wait a day or two to make a decision. It's most likely that Nick Green would be recalled if Cano is DL'ed.

Aaron Small passed through waivers and accepted an assignment to Columbus. Small could still return this season if he can turn his season around.

In addition to Derek Jeter, Mike Myers also celebrated a birthday yesterday, his 37th.

Randy Johnson's win was the 272nd of his career and his 9 strike outs pushed his career total to 4,457.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Brave New World

Weather permitting, the Yankees will open a three game series with the Atlanta Braves tonight at Yankee Stadium. The average fan won't recognize most of the faces on this Atlanta though. The Braves are a far cry from the pennant winning teams of the late to mid 1990s and are about to have their amazing streak of 14 consecutive NL East division titles snapped. A handful of names remain the same- Andruw and Chipper Jones, John Smoltz, Bobby Cox- but this team is made up of mostly inexperienced youngsters. The the Braves winning the division in 2005 said more about the weakness of their opposition rather than the strength of the Braves. With strong offenses in New York and Philadelphia, and a scrappy team in Florida, the Braves weaknesses have become very exposed.

The Braves recently endured a ten game losing streak and are currently 32-44. They sit in the cellar of the NL East, 15.5 games behind the 1st place Mets. Smoltz is the only holdover from the big 3 that included fellow Cy Young winners Greg Maddux (Cubs) and Tom Glavine (Mets). He's aided in the rotation by All-Star Tim Hudson, but after that it's slim pickings. The bullpen is a disaster area where the roles rotate every week.

The lineup still has some pop in though with center fielder Andruw Jones coming off of a 51 HR, 128 RBI campaign. His home runs are down a bit, but he's on pace to top his RBI mark. Chipper Jones has struggled through injuries the last few years and its taken a toll on his bat speed and power. He managed 21 HR and 72 RBI in 109 games last year, but so far is at just .275-7-35 in 61 games this season. He's also suffering defensively having already made 11 errors.

Edgar Renteria was acquired in the off-season from Boston and is excelling as a replacement for Rafael Furcal (signed with the Dodgers as a free agent). Renteria is back in the league he feels comfortable in and also is playing on an infield that is 1000% better than Fenway Park- of course it wouldn't take much to be better than the infield at Fenway. In addition to a .302 average and and .831 OPS, Renteria has committed just 8 errors in 64 games after committing a career 30 last season. Renteria also had a 23 game hitting streak to start the season (he hit in 10 consecutive games after the streak was stopped).

Renteria's double play partner Marcus Giles had his 2nd best offensive season in 2005, but has struggled mightily this year. He's scored 41 runs, but is hitting just. 239-4-24 and has an awful OPS of .673.

The Braves infusion of youth last season was instrumental in pulling out another division. No addition was bigger than that of Jeff Francoeur who splashed on the scene hitting .300-14-45 in just 257 at-bats. Francoeur got off to a slow start this season, but is hitting .250-15-55. 1st Baseman Adam LaRoche enjoyed a fine second season as well belting 20 homers to go along with 78 RBI. He's on a pace to match both those numbers this season.

2nd year catcher Brian McCann could be headed to the All-Star game with a .352 average. He's already matched his home run total, 5, from last year and is just 1 RBI shy of last year's total as well.

There's no doubt that these Braves have seen the last of the good times for a while, but with GM John Schuerholz and manager Bobby Cox at the helm, Atlanta will be contending again in no time.

Yankee Effort Like Night and Day

Split Doubleheader as Offense is a No Show

You can expect the Yankees or any other team to have trouble scoring runs off of a red-hot Dontrelle Willis, but as usual, the Yankees couldn't solve a soft-tossing rookie as they split yesterday's day-night doubleheader at The Stadium. Mike Mussina out dueled Willis (4-7) in the opener 2-1 as Johnny Damon provided all of the offense. With the game tied 1-1 in the 7th Damon drove a Willis hanger into the upper deck for his 11th home run of the season and a 2-1 lead.

Mussina (9-3) exited after 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits, walked 2 and struck out 6. Included in the strike outs was career strike out number 2,500 - the Marlins Cody Ross was the victim. Mussina became the 28th pitcher to reach the 2,500 plateau and is 2 strike outs behind Christy Mathewson for 27th on the all-time list. It was also career victory number 233.

Before Mussina could pick up the victory Kyle Farnsworth had to perform is usual tightrope act. Singles by Mike Treanor and Hanley Ramirez, plus a stolen base by Ramirez, put the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position with just one out. Farnsworth bounced back, striking out Mike Jacobs for the 2nd out. An intentional walk to Miguel Cabrera loaded the bases, but Farnsworth got Josh Willingham to fly out to Melky Cabrera in deep left to get out of the jam. Mariano Rivera retired the Marlins in order in the 9th for his 16th save.

The nightcap was played before a sparse crowd of just over 6,800 that had to sit through rain and a flat performance by the Yankees. It probably felt like a home game for the attendance challenged Marlins. Yankees starter Shawn Chacon was his mediocre self, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) in 5 innings as the Yankees were shut out for the first time this season, 5-0. Chacon was the starter in Saturday's game that was postponed in the 1st inning. Chacon (4-2) threw 16 pitches, but felt strong enough on Sunday to start again.

The Yankees hitters apparently did not get notified there was another game. They looked sickly against Anibal Sanchez who was making his Major League debut. The 22-year old was part of the trade that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to the Boston Red Sox. He kept the Yankee hitters off-balance with a low 90s fastball mixed with breaking pitches. Sanchez scattered 7 hits over 5 2-3 innings, didn't walk a batter and struck out two.

The Marlins jumped on Chacon in the 1st inning, just as they had in the rainout on Saturday. After Chacon retired the first two hitters, Miguel Cabrera, Willingham, and Jeremy Hermidia stroked consecutive singles for a 1-0 lead. The Yankees had a chance to come right back in the bottom half of the inning when Derek Jeter reached 2nd on a single and an error, but Alex Rodriguez popped out to end the inning.

In the third Cabrera crushed a ball well over 400 feet for his 11th home run of the season and a 2-0 Marlins lead. Again the Yankees had a chance to strike right back in the bottom of the 3rd. Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter stroked 1-out singles, but Jason Giambi struck out looking and Rodriguez grounded out.

The Marlins added another run in the 5th when the Yankees looked like the inexperienced team rather than their opponents. With Reggie Abercrombie on first and one out Alfredo Amezaga hit a bouncer to Giambi at first. Giambi fielded it cleanly, but was afraid of throwing the ball away in attempt to get the force. He should have just eaten the ball - instead he spun and picked up an error as his low throw couldn't be handled by Chacon. The speedy Abercrombie raced to third to put runners on the corners and set up the next sloppy play.

All little league catchers are taught to check the runner at third when there is a threat of a steal or squeeze play. Evidently Yankees catcher Kelly Stinnett forgot that. Amezaga broke for 2nd on the front end of a double steal. Abercrombie started to break for home and then held up- but as soon as Stinnett- who never looked him back to third, fired to 2nd, Abercrombie was off again, easily beating the throw home from Robinson Cano for a 3-0 lead.

Marlins first baseman Wes Helms robbed the Yankees of their last real scoring attempt in the bottom of the 6th. Jason Giambi led off with a single before being forced by A-Rod. Derek Jeter then doubled in the gap to put runners in scoring position with just one out. That's when Helms ended the Yankees hopes. Bernie Williams ripping a hanging fastball to the right side, but Helms dove and snared it for the 2nd out instead of a 2-run single. Hard throwing Randy Messenger replaced Sanchez (1-0) and retired Melky Cabrera on a pop-out to 2nd to end the inning.

The Marlins added a couple more unearned runs off of Ron Villone as Giambi committed his 2nd throwing error of the game. Giambi missed the first game with back spasms and probably should have sat out the 2nd too. The Yankees rolled over and played dead in their final 3 at-bats and slunk off into the night.


Robinson Cano pulled up lame after doubling in the nightcap and appeared to have a badly strained left hamstring. He'll be re-evaluated today. The Yankees certainly cannot afford to lose another productive bat. Cano had gotten a hit in 20 of his last 22 games.

Johnny Damon DH'ed the 2nd game to rest his various ailments and extended his hitting streak to 6 games. Over that stretch Damon is hitting .409 (9-22) with 5 walks, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 runs scored, and 3 stolen bases.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Fish Will Rise to the Top

Okay, that's not how the saying really goes, but these are definitely not your Father's Florida Marlins, or your brother's, or anyone else's. The Marlins were completely dismantled in the off-season, leaving Joe Girardi with a team that most outsiders looked on as a bunch of little leaguers. And the season certainly started out that way. But since May 22 the Marlins have gone a league best 19-7 to raise their record to 30-38 and ahead of Washington and Atlanta in the NL East. At the moment the Marlins look like the Braves and the Braves look like the Marlins, having lost 10 in a row.

The Marlins had their 9 game winning streak snapped by Baltimore on Wednesday, but rallied last night in the 9th to tie the game against Chris Ray, who hadn't blown a save all season, and won in extra innings. The team has done it with just 2 stars, Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera, and a plethora of rookies. 19 first year players have donned Marlins uniforms this season.

One of the main reasons the Marlins are winning is their good young pitching. Willis was the runner up in last year's NL Cy Young voting, but got off to a very rocky start this season. Many blamed his appearance in the World Baseball Classic for his problems. Perhaps it was because he was in a funk knowing the team around him was not built to win in the near future. Whatever the reason, the "real" Willis has re-appeared. After three straight horrendous outings to start the month of May, Willis was 1-4 with a 6.22 ERA. In his seven starts since then, he's gone 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA and has gone 7 more innings in all but one start.

The 24-yr old Willis is joined in the rotation by 22-yr old rookies Josh Johnson (6-4, 2.01) and Scott Olsen (6-3, 4.60), 24-yr old rookie Ricky Nolasco (5-4, 3.15), and 10-year veteran Brian Moehler (5-5, 6.29). Veteran Joe Borowski, one of only 4 30+ year old players, is the team's closer. The Marlins also have Sergio Mitre on the 60 day DL with shoulder inflammation. The 25-yr old right hander, acquired from the Cubs, has a tremendous up-side.

Miguel Cabrera is just 23, but is already in his 3rd full season in the majors. Of course Cabrera is no ordinary player. As a 20-yr old rookie Cabrera was a key to the Marlins 2003 World Series championship, hitting .262-12-68 in 87 regular season games. He's average 33 home runs and 114 RBI over the last 2 seasons and has a lifetime .306 average in 474 big league games. The team became very concerned with Cabrera's attitude and work ethic last season, but that may have had more to do with Jack McKeon running the show. Under Girardi, there have no such complaints about Cabrera thus far this season.

Around the Horn

First Baseman Mike Jacobs was acquired from the Mets as part of the Carlos Delgado deal. The 25-yr old splashed onto the New York scene last season with 11 home runs in 100 big league at-bats. After a slow start in 2006, Jacobs is hitting a respectable .269 with 10 HRs and 39 RBI.

25-year old second baseman Dan Uggla was selected by the Marlins in this past Winter's Rule V draft from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The first year player has made the jump from Double-A to the bigs and has excelled. Though he may miss the Yankees series because of a bad hamstring, Uggla is .313-13-43 in 67 games and has an .899 OPS.

Shortstop Hanley Ramirez had been one of the highest touted prospects for some time as he played in the Boston Red Sox organization. For the Marlins he was the key to the deal that sent Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston. The deal probably would have fallen through had Ramirez not been included. The 22-yr old hit better than .300 for the first two months of the season, but has experienced major growing pain in June - with just 9 hits in 72 at-bats thus far. The slump has dropped his average 52 points to .262. The Marlins sparkplug is still tied for 7th in the NL in runs scored and is 4th in stolen bases with 20 in 24 attempts. His slick fielding has been a big reason for the Marlins success as well.

Cabrera rounds out the infield at third - he's played just once in left field this season.

The Outfield

25-yr (is everyone on this team 25?) old rookie center fielder Reggie Abercrombie was picked up on waivers in April, 2005 from Arizona. Abercrombie has some pop and stole 198 bases in 657 minor league games, but is struggling to adapt to big league pitching. He's hitting .223-3-14 in 59 games and has struck out 61 times in just 175 at-bats. He probably will earn a ticket back to the minors before long.

The Marlins have another prized prospect in 22-yr old right fielder Jeremy Hermida. Hermida was one of the players that other team's GMs always ask about and the answer is always no. Hermida earned a big league call up last year after hitting .293-18-63 with 23 steals at Double-A Carolina. He also walked a staggering 111 times (compared to 89 Ks) to compile a gaudy .975 OPS. Hermida missed half of the season with a hip injury, but has still managed an .814 OPS and is hitting .286-2-8 in 105 at-bats (he had a career high 4 hits last night).

Josh Willingham was thought to be the Marlins catcher of the future, but he has played all but 2 of his games in left field. The elderly (he's 27) Willingham has a good mix of power and speed - he hit 43 home runs in his last 557 minor league at-bats and stole 71 bases in 89 minor league career attempts. In 54 games, he's hitting .268-9-35 and has drawn 22 walks.

The Tools of Ignorance

27-yr old catcher Miguel Olivo was once of the prize prospects in the Chicago White Sox organization, but is now with his 5th team in the last 5 years. He's hitting a decent .276-5-22, but has a propensity to strike out and not draw walks. Teams would like to see him on base more because he's got good speed and could be a base stealing threat. Defensively Oliva is very good at throwing out runners, but has struggled in the rest of his game.

Pitching matchups

Tonight - Brian Moehler vs Chien-Ming Wang
Saturday - Shawn Chacon vs Josh Johnson
Sunday - Dontrelle Willis vs Mike Mussina

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Yankee Pitching Has Wright Stuff

5 Hurlers Combine on 5-0 Shutout

Jaret Wright failed to make it to the sixth inning again last night, but you won't hear Joe Torre complaining. Ron Villone, Scott Proctor, Kyle Farnsworth, and Mariano Rivera tossed an inning each as they combined with Wright on a 3-hit, 11-strikeout 5-0 shutout over the Philadelphia Phillies. It enabled the Yankees to take 2 of 3 from the Phillies, salvage a split of the six game road trip, and remain 2 games behind the first place Red Sox in the AL East.

Wright threw 84 pitches in an admittedly "strenuous" outing and struck out the dangerous Ryan Howard twice. Wright also drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly that reached the warning track in left-center. Wright ran into quick trouble in the 2nd when he walked Chase Utley to put runners on first and second with just one out. But Wright struck out Pat Burrell and then through a 96 mph fastball past Howard for another strike out to end the threat.

The Yankees also benefited from fine defense as Melky Cabrera added to his highlight reel with a sliding grab off of a Howard blooper and Jorge Posada threw out two would-be base stealers.

The Phillies started their top pitching prospect, rookie left-hander Cole Hamels. Hamels had struggled of late, but was on his game last night. He allowed 2 runs on 6 hits in 7 innings, while walking 3 and striking out 6. The Yankees added a tack on run in the 7th off of him when Derek Jeter delivered a 2-out RBI single. Jeter is now hitting .414 (12-29) with two out and runners in scoring position.

The Yankees broke the game open in the 8th off of the Phillies bullpen. Alex Rodriguez walked, stole second, and scored on Melky Cabrera's single off of Aaron Fultz, with Cabrera advancing to second on the throw. Miguel Cairo brought home Cabrera with a single of his own off of Geoff Geary to make it a 4-0 game. Consecutive singles by Bubba Crosby and Johnny Damon brought home Cairo with the final run of the game.

Farnsworth and Rivera then retired the final six batters in order to finish off a much needed win.

Johnny Damon reached base safely all 5 times up, going 3-3 with 2 walks. Damon was 6-13 for the 3 game series to raise his average to .299, the highest it has s been since June 9.

Jaret Wright has managed to throw only 56 2-3 innings in his 11 starts. Last night marked the 3rd straight start that he has not gone more than 5 innings.

Octavio Dotel has flown to Alabama to meet with Dr. James Andrews. Andrews performed Tommy John surgery on Dotel in June, 2005. Dotel has been bothered by triceps tendonitis, but is concerned that something more could be going on.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Yankees Overcome One Man Band, 9-7

Win Despite Slugger's 7 RBI

Bernie Williams went 5-5 and the Yankees rallied from three deficits to top Ryan Howard and the Philadelphia Phillies 9-7. The Yankees won the game, but Howard was the talk of the game. The 2nd year slugger belted two home runs and drove in a career high 7 runs - accounting for all the Phillies runs. Mariano Rivera faced Howard in one final showdown with the tying runs on base and two out in the bottom of the 9th. Howard could only manage a weak grounder to Miguel Cairo at 2nd for the final out of the game. The anticipated showdown only took one pitch - a cutter of course.

Arthur Rhodes came in to start the eighth for the Phillies, which probably brought a smile to the Yankees faces. Any Yankee fan over the age of 4 remembers David Justice's ALCS bomb off of Rhodes in 2000. That's just one of the many successes the Yankees have had against the lefty. Bernie Williams hit one in the hole on the left side that went off of third baseman David Bell's glove. It was originally scored an error, but was later changed to Bernie's 4th hit of the night. Rhodes then proceeded to walk Cairo, who had replaced Robinson Cano in a double-switch, to put the tying runs on base. Melky Cabrera mired in a June swoon at the plate, delivered with an RBI single between Howard and the first base line to shave the lead to 7-6. Rhodes then got ahead of Johnny Damon 1-2, before Damon hit a shot to deep center for a two-run triple and an 8-7 Yankees lead. Charlie Manuel finally gave Rhodes the hook, but Derek Jeter provided an insurance run with an RBI single off of Ryan Franklin. Joe Torre wasn't going to mess with his pen any longer and brought in Rivera for a six-out save.

Mike Mussina quickly found out how much power Howard has in the first inning. With one on and two out, Mussina's 3-1 pitch was clearly a strike to Pat Burrell. But home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom clearly missed it. It led to a quick exchange of words between the two. Howard then crushed a Mussina offering into the upper deck in left-center, some 416 feet away. It was the first ball hit in the upper deck in the brief history of Citizens Bank Park.

The Yankees got one run back in the 2nd on Williams first hit of the night. It scored Robinson Cano who had doubled to break an 0-8 slide. Jason Giambi belted his 20th home run to start the 4th and Kevin Reese later singled in a run to briefly tie the game at 3-3. It was brief because in the bottom of the inning Howard took Mussina deep again. This time a 2-run shot that put him one behind the league leader Albert Pujols with 25.

Jorge Posada hit his 10th home run of the season in the 6th to cut the margin to one and the Yankees tied it up in the 7th when Alex Rodriguez singled through the right side to score Johnny Damon from 2nd.

The lead was short-lived again though as the Phillies took the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning. Once again Howard delivered the big blow. Ron Villone hit Chase Utley with a one-out pitch, but bounced back to strike out Bobby Abreu for the 2nd out. Joe Torre sent for Scott Proctor to face Pat Burell, but Proctor failed to do his job, walking Burrell on 4 pitches. Torre then sent for lefty specialist Mike Myers to face Howard. Howard roped a pitch into the right field corner that results in a two-run triple and a 7-5 lead. Torre quickly exited the dugout and brought in rookie T.J. Beam to face Aaron Rowand. Though it's starting to look like Bernie Williams needs a golf cart to get to balls int the far reaches of the outfield, he made a sliding catching on Rowand's blooper to save another run from scoring.


Derek Jeter was hit just above the left knee by a Corey Lidle pitch and was noticeably hobbling. Of course Jeter said he expects to play tonight.

Jorge Posada's home run gave him 185 for his career. It tied him with Paul O'Neill for 13th on the all time Yankee list.

Bernie Williams's double in the 9th gave him a perfect 5-5 evening. It was the 5th five hit game of his career and his first since 2002.

Mariano Rivera batted for the first time in a regular season game. He had previously come up to hit three times in the post-season. Rivera took strike one from Franklin and then took two weak swing and misses. If Mo had been standing any further away from the plate he would have been sitting in the stands. It provided a good laugh for the whole team though.

Outfielder Kevin Reese was recalled before the game and contributed immediately with an RBI single. Jose Veras was sent back to Columbus after a one game recall in which he did not make an appearance.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Myers, Phils Edge Yankees 4-2

Burrell Loves New York

Pat Burrell showed last night that he likes to feast on all New York pitching not just that of the Mets. Burrell's 2-run double was the key hit in the Phillies 4-2 win over the slumping Yankees. Randy Johnson pitched an effective 7 innings for the visitors, allowing 3 runs and limiting the Phillies to 5 hits. But despite some control problems, Brett Myers (5-3) out performed the Unit, striking out 11 in a 6 innings stint to pick up the victory. Tom Gordon stuck it to his old teammates by retiring the side in order. Gordon punctuated the inning by firing a 95 mph high fastball past Jason Giambi to close it out. The loss was the Yankees third in a row and eighth in the last eleven games played.

The Yankees held the lead briefly when Giambi blasted his 19th home run into the upper deck in right field to lead off the 4th inning. The Yankees had a chance for more when Alex Rodriguez followed with a double and Myers issued one of his six walks to Jorge Posada. But Myers bounced back, striking out Robinson Cano, Bubba Crosby, and Johnson to escape the threat.

Johnson (8-6) faced the minimum 10 hitters (Aaron Rowand reached on a single, but was caught stealing) through the first 3 innings, but the Phillies answered right back at him in the bottom of the 4th. Shane Victorino's one-out bouncer up the middle was thrown wide of first by Cano. The play was generously scored a hit and an error with Victorino reaching second. Chase Utley followed with a walk to bring up Burrell who has made quite a reputation for himself against the Mets (35 career HRs). Burrell came in hitting just .192 (5-26) against the Yankees, but ripped a Johnson pitch into the right field corner. Burrell cruised into 2nd with a stand up double as both runners scored to put the Phillies on top 2-1.

The Yankees tried to get one back in the top of the sixth, but the Phillies middle infield defense began saving the night. 2nd Baseman Abraham Nunez made a diving stop on a ball hit up the middle by Johnson, robbing the Unit of an RBI single. The Phillies took advantage of their sixth inning opportunity. Aaron Rowand built up a reputation last season as a Yankee killer with his glove when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox. Rowand showed that he swings a pretty good bat as well when he doubled in Victorino with two out in the 6th to extend the lead to 3-1.

The Yankees had a chance to pull even in the 7th when they loaded the bases with two down. Johnny Damon led off with a single and Myers issued back-to-back two-out walks to Giambi and A-Rod to earn a trip to the showers. Phillie's manager Charlie Manuel sent for veteran Rheal Cormier to have the switch-hitting Posada turn around to the right side. This time it was shortstop Jimmy Rollins's turn to come up big. Posada hit a hard grounder in the hole between short and third, but a diving Rollins stopped it. Though he had no play on a runner and Damon scored, it prevented the tying run from coming home. Cormier than retired Cano on a ground out to preserve the lead.

The Phillies added an insurance run in the eighth after loading the bases against the erratic Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth struck out David Bell for what would have been the third out, but the ball skipped under Jorge Posada to score Rollins from third and keep the inning going. Tom Gordon (20th Save) came on in the 9th and the game was over in a flash.

Last night marked the first time that Tom Gordon faced the Yankees since September 22, 2003. Gordon was the winning pitcher that day in a 6-3, 10 inning victory by the White Sox. Bartolo Colon was the starter for Chicago with David Wells going for the Yankees. Magglio Ordonez hit a game winning 3-run shot off of Jeff Weaver. Sometimes it's not good to look back.

Whether or not it was a result of off days for his bad back, Kyle Farnsworth appeared to have no clue where his pitches were going. Come to think of it, it's usually that way when his back feels fine.

Jorge Posada had trouble all night getting on the same page with Randy Johnson and it continued with Farnsworth.

Robinson Cano has quickly cooled off, going hitless in his last 8 at-bats.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Major League Monday

Can some explain the Oakland A's to me? Year after year we see the same thing. Mediocre or worse baseball through May and then a June explosion. The term "June Swoon" has often been heard for teams for the Chicago Cubs, but a new phrase has to be coined for the A's. The A's had compiled a very mediocre 24-29 mark through May 31st of this season. Since then they have gone 14-2 and are in the midst of a 10 game winning streak. They are now 38-31 overall and in first place, 1/2 game ahead of the Texas Rangers.

So much for the young pitching studs in baseball. 41-year old Kenny Rogers and 40-year old Tommy Glavine have become the first 10 game winners in the American and National Leagues. Rogers is 10-3 overall with a 3.17 ERA. That's practically miniscule in the hitter heavy AL. The league is hitting just .236 against him as he leads the resurgent Detroit Tigers. Rogers last victory was also the 200th of his career.

Glavine has struggled a bit of late, but has been the most consistent Mets pitcher all year. Glavine's 10-2, 3.48 mark will have him headed towards the All-Star game. The NL is hitting just .247 against him. With 285 career wins he has a good shot at winning his 300th next season.

Several rookies are enjoying outstanding seasons including two hard throwing AL'ers. Francisco Liriano was supposed to spend the season in the bullpen for the Minnesota Twins. The plan was to bring him along slowly as they had done with Johann Santana. But outside of Santana the entire rotation was struggling and the Twins weren't winning. Time to go to Plan 'B'. Liriano joined the rotation on May 19 and has produced staggering numbers as his innings pitched have increased. He's 6-1 in his 7 starts, allowing just 20 hits in 36 innings pitched. He's walked 13, struck out 35, and has allowed just 1 home run while compiling a 1.50 ERA. For the season Liriano 6-1, 2.16 and one save. If the Twins can get some more bats and a solid #3 next season (or Brad Radke turns it around), the AL Central better look out.

Justin Verlander came to the Detroit Tigers this season with high expectations and he has exceeded most expectations. His fastball has read triple digits on the radar gun and he's struck out 53 in 89-plus innings. Verlander has gone at least 5 innings in all but one of his 14 starts and has compiled an 8-4 mark with a 3.21 ERA. Over a three start stretch in May he put 20 consecutive scoreless innings, walked just 2 and struck out 12. He'll have to continue to dominate if Detroit is to be in the Central Division and wild card races in September.

Roger Clemens will make his 2006 Major League debut on Thursday as the Astros host the Minnesota Twins. He'll be opposed by the aforementioned Liriano.

Former Yankee closer John Wetteland was fired last week as bullpen coach of the Washington Nationals. Manager Frank Robinson had warned Wetteland to cut down the hijinx and concentrate more on pitching. When Wetteland didn't comply he was shown the door.

Twins catcher Joe Mauer hit .386 in May and is hitting a scorching .441 for June. He raised his average from April 30 from .319 to .380. Mauer has also treated pitchers equally, hitting .373 against left-handers and .383 against righties. The Reds Ernie Lombardi ('42) was the last catcher to win a batting title. No AL catcher has ever won it.

Update 5:00

Veterans J.T. Snow and Tony Batista have been designated for assignment by the Red Sox and Twins respectively.

Nationals Walk Off With Series 3-2

Zimmerman Blast Ruins Wang Effort

After Saturday's debacle and burning the bullpen on back-to-back days, the Yankees got exactly what they needed from Chien-Ming Wang yesterday. Joe Torre knew Wang needed to give him innings with a lack of fresh arms to bring in. Wang pitched beautifully until he hung his final pitch of the game to Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. The stand-out rookie drilled it over the left field fence with a man aboard to give the Nats a 3-2 come-from-behind-win. It capped off a madcap weekend in the Nation's capital that saw the Yankees drop back into second place. The Bombers have now dropped 7 of their last 10 games.

Nationals rookie left-hander Mike O'Connor matched Wang's effectiveness for most of the game. O'Connor had two ingredients the Yankees struggle with. A pitcher they've never faced before who's repertoire does not include hard stuff. Derek Jeter helped the Yankees finally touch O'Connor up in the 6th when he led off with a double and advance to third on a wild pitch. Jorge Posada's sacrifice fly brought Jeter in to tie the game at one apiece.

Meanwhile Wang was cruising along, allowing just 3 hits through the first 7 innings. He'd wind up with 17 ground ball outs on the day. The Yankees gave him the lead in the 8th when Melky Cabrera worked a lead off walk against reliever Gary Majewski and came around on Alex Rodriguez's double in the gap in left-center.

Wang started to tire in the 8th as his pitch count rose and the temperature remained scorchingly hot. He issued his first two walks of the day to Brendan Harris and Alfonso Soriano to set up a two on, two out situation for Jose Vidro. Vidro hit a gapper to left-center, but Cabrera made a fine running back-handed grab to preserve the lead. If only Mariano Rivera had been available to protect that lead in the 9th.


Kyle Farnsworth threw a bullpen session on Sunday and felt good afterwards. He hopes to be available for tonight's game with the Phillies.

Octavio Dotel is expected to be recalled within 10 days. The way the pen has been overworked, it may be sooner rather than later.

Shawn Chacon and Jaret Wright are going to be separated in the rotation due to their inability to pitch deep into games. Joe Torre feels this is the only way to rest up his beleagured pen.

Robinson Cano went 0-4 on Sunday, ending his 15 game hitting streak. Cano was 28-62 (.451) during the streak, raising his average from .293 to .332.

The Red Sox took 2 of 3 from the Atlanta Braves to move 1 game ahead of the Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays got swept by the Florida Marlins and fell to 2 games back.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Turn-Back-The-Clock Bernie Topples Nats 7-5

Game Winning HR Caps 4 Hit Night

Bernie Williams knows that his days in a Yankees uniform grow shorter and shorter, but for now he's going to make the most of it. Williams hit the game winning home run Friday night as the Yankees rallied from a 5-3 deficit to top the Washington Nationals 7-5. Playing in RFK Stadium for the first time since September 30, 1971. Ironically, the Washington Senators led that game 7-5 before fans stormed the field, resulting in a forfeit.

This time the Nationals led 5-3 in the 8th when Williams led off with a single off of reliever Gary Majewski. Singles by Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon loaded the bases with one out with the heart of the Yankees order coming up. Melky Cabrera, who earlier in the game was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, came through with a line single to left that cut the margin to 5-4. The ball went past the oustretched dive of shortstop Royce Clayton who had to leave the game with a bruised shoulder.

Derek Jeter then worked a seven pitch walk to force home the tying run. Former Yankee Mike Stanton came on to get Jason Giambi on a pop-up and closer Chad Cordero struck out Alex Rodriguez as the Yankees stranded three.

In the 9th, Bernie Williams continued his hot streak turning on a Cordero (2-2) fastball and driving it over the 380 ft. sign in right-center. Yankees fans filled out a large portion of the 44,000-plus in attendance and serenaded the game with chants of "Bernie, Bernie". Williams has gone 9-15 over the last four games to raise his average from .260 to .286. The hits have included 2 home runs and 4 doubles.

Johnny Damon's sacrifice fly gave the Yankees an insurance run and Mariano Rivera (4-3), who came on with one out in the 8th after Kyle Farnsworth was forced to exit with back spasms, easily retired the side in order in the bottom of the 9th to preserve the win.

Yankees starter Jaret Wright struggled throughout the night and was pulled after walking lead off hitter Nick Johnson in the 6th. Johnson came around to score on rookie Ryan Zimmerman's hit and run double off of Scott Proctor. Proctor retired the next 6 men he faced to keep the Bombers in the game. Wright earlier allowed Alfonso Soriano's 24th home run of the season, a 2-run shot well over the 410-ft sign in center field.

The National started rookie right hander Shawn Hill who appeared to be ready to exit the ball game in the 4th after hitting Cabrera. But Hill bounced back and got Jeter to bounce into an innnig ending double play. Hill was in position to win the game after giving up 3 runs in 6 innings.


Bernie Williams has 4 of his 6 home runs in June. The warm weather and increased playing time seem to agree with him.

Alex Rodriguez struck out twice more in big situations, slamming his bat down in frustration when he left the bases loaded in the 8th. Hitting coach Don Mattingly believes he has found a mechanical flaw in Rodriguez's swing that has caused him to shift his weight forward too quickly. This has resulted in a decrease in bat speed.

Kyle Farnsworth fielded Jose Vidro's eighth inning grounder, threw to first for the out, and immediately doubled over with back spasms. His back completely locked up on him and he's expected to miss the remaining games in the series. In need of an extra arm, the Yankees are expected to recall T.J. Beam from Triple-A Columbus. Beam started the season at Trenton before being promoted. Kevin Thompson will be demoted to make room on the roster.

Octavio Dotel threw 1 1-3 innings at Columbus last night as he continues his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Dotel threw 32 pitches, 21 for strikes, while allowing 2 hits and striking out 3.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Yankees Win Battle of Johnson & Johnson, 6-1

Hard Nosed Effort Pays Off

You could see the difference in Randy Johnson's demeanor right from the start of last night's Yankees-Cleveland Indians game and it paid off in the end. Johnson breezed through 6 plus innings before being ejected for throwing a retaliatory pitch at Eduardo Perez. Johnny Damon and Andy Phillips each homered as the Yankees rolled over the Indians 6-1. Mike Mussina will face off against Cliff Lee this afternoon as the Yankees try to complete a three game sweep.

Johnson displayed some of the form that made him a perennial All-Star before coming to New York. His fastball was often in the 95-97 mph range and he had a hard biting slider to go along with it. He threw 84 pitches, 55 of them for strikes, allowed just 4 hits while walking none and striking out 6. At one point he retired 11 straight hitters. Overall it was a huge improvement from everything we've seen in over a month. Maybe more importantly he stood up for his teammates, something Yankee pitchers under Joe Torre have been reluctant to do.

Tempers started flaring when Jorge Posada took exception to being hit by a Jason Johnson pitch on his right elbow. Posada held onto his bat and slowly made his way to first, barking at Johnson as he did so. Johnson shot back by basically telling Posada to shut up and go to first base. Home Plate umpire Chris Guccione immediately warned both teams.

With one out in the top of the 7th, Randy Johnson decided to even the score as well as send a message to Perez. Perez was 4-8 with 3 home runs off Johnson in 2005 as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Johnson's brush back avoided Perez, but his intent was clear and he was immediately ejected as well as Yankees manager Joe Torre. Both benches emptied as Perez jawed a silent Johnson. The remainder of the game went without incident.

The Yankees jumped in front in the third after Derek Jeter singled and Jason Giambi doubled to start the inning. With the infield playing back to concede the run, Alex Rodriguez picked up an RBI on a ground out to short. A-Rod also reached as 1st Baseman Ben Broussard dropped the high throw. Robinson Cano quickly extended his hitting streak to 12 games with an RBI single to left. Cano went 3-4 to raise his average to .329 and is 23-49 (.469) during the streak.

The Indians scored their only run in the 5th to have the lead, but Johnny Damon immediately got back in the bottom of the inning with his 9th home run of the season. The Yankees put the game out of reach one inning later on an RBI double by Bernie Williams and a 2-run homer by Andy Phillips. It was Phillips's 5th home run of the season.

Phillips also provided the defensive gem of the game when he recorded the final out by diving into the seats to catch a foul pop off the bat of Victor Martinez. Phillips strained his back on the play, but is hoping to play today.

Jorge Posada's elbow stiffened up late in the game and he was replaced by Kelly Stinnett. It's not likely Posada would have caught this afternoon anyway since it is a day game after night game. Many felt that Posada actually precipitated last night's incident by not immediately going to first after being hit. It didn't appear that Jason Johnson was throwing at him.

Octavio Dotel threw for the 2nd straight night for Columbus. Dotel faced three batters, striking out two of them.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Wang, 'D' Edge Tribe 1-0

Indians Well Grounded

Chien-Ming Wang pitched a master 7 1-3 innings and Melky Cabrera and Kevin Thompson made key defensive plays as the Yankees topped Cleveland 1-0 to snap their 4 game losing streak. Wang fired a hard sinker all night that resulted in 14 ground ball outs and 3 strike outs. Two of the 5 outs were recorded on a nice defensive plays by the Yankees kid corner outfield. Robinson Cano supplied the only offense with his 4th home run of the season. With the Red Sox loss to the Twins, the Yankees moved back into a share of first place in the AL East.

Melky Cabrera was shaded towards center with heavy hitter Travis Hafner up, but Hafner lofted one towards the left field line. Running full out, Cabrera caught the ball and slammed into the thinly padded wall in foul territory. He was noticeably wincing and grabbing his side after the play, but stayed in the ball game.

The Indians best threat came after Grady Sizemore led off the sixth with a double. Casey Blake then drove one to deep right that Kevin Thompson racing towards the warning track. Glove outstretched, Thompson caught the ball before putting his hands up to brace himself against the right field wall. Sizemore tagged up and went to third on the play. That brought the dangerous Hafner to the plate with one down. After Wang fell behind in the count, 2-0, the Yankees opted to intentionally walk Hafner and take their chances with Victor Martinez. It paid off as Martinez grounded to Robinson Cano for the start of an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.

The Yankee hitters were having no better luck with soft tossing Paul Byrd. Mixing speeds, Byrd kept the Yankee hitters off balance all night, especially Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod normally feasts on pitchers like Byrd, but struck out three times and popped out weakly. As has become the norm of late, the fans showered the 2005 AL MVP with boos. A-Rod wasn't the only Yankee not coming through the clutch though. The Bombers had their lead off man on in each of the first 5 innings, but failed to score. Robinson Cano finally solved Byrd in the 6th, when he hit a hanging breaking pitch into the right field seats to break the scoreless tie.

Cleveland had one final scoring chance in the 8th, but the Yankees pen came through. After Aaron Boone led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Ramon Vazquez, Torre opted to pull Wang after 90 pitches to set up a lefty-lefty match up against Sizemore. Mike Myers did his job by getting Sizemore to fly out to Johnny Damon in center. Kyle Farnsworth then came on to retire Blake on a ground out to Cano.

An Andy Phillips error on Hafner's lead off grounder in the 9th gave the Indians one more base runner, but Mariano Rivera shut the door. Victor Martinez flied to center and then Rivera struck out Eduardo Perez and Ronnie Belliard to record his 13th save.


Derek Jeter returned to shortstop and played a flawless game despite being in obvious pain. The only time it showed is when he was jammed in his final time at-bat and shook his hand in pain.

Jason Giambi sat out again with his bruised finger after he was unable to comfortably hold a bat during batting practice. He hopes to return tonight.

Gary Sheffield underwent successful surgery on his wrist yesterday. He is still expected to miss 12 weeks.

Octavio Dotel began his rehab stint at Triple-A Columbus last night. Dotel allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and struck out 1 in 1 inning of work. He threw 19 pitches, 14 of them for strikes. Sean Henn also came off the DL to start the game for Columbus and was ineffective, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks in 4 innings pitched.

Number one prospect Phil Hughes threw a gem last night as Double-A Trenton shut out New Hampshire 3-0. Hughes allowed just 1 hit over 7 innings while walking 3 and striking out 8. He's now 3-3, 3.80 for the Thunder.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Different Year, Different Tribe

The Yankees will try to put an end to their 4 game skid tonight when they face the Cleveland Indians in the first of a three game set. Derek Jeter is likely to be back at shortstop tonight and the Yankees are hoping Jason Giambi can DH.

This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams this season and the last series before the Yankees take on the NL East.

Pitching Match ups

Tonight - Chien-Ming Wang vs Paul Byrd
Wednesday - Randy Johnson vs Jason Johnson
Thursdsay - Mike Mussina vs Cliff Lee

The Indians narrowly missed making the playoffs last season, winning 9? games. 2006 has not been as kind to the Tribe as they've played mediocre ball all season. They are just 4-6 in June and 30-32 overall. It's left them 10 games behind 1st place Detroit and 8.5 behind the second place White Sox in the wild card race.

Given their off-season moves it came as no surprise that the Indians would take a step back this season. And even though there's a lot of baseball left to play things have to change soon or the Indians will be watching the post-season from their homes once again.

Losing Kevin Millwood to free agency was the biggest blow to the team's make up. C.C. Sabathia is a 5-2, 2.62 in 9 starts and 1 trip to the DL. Jake Westbrook has the next lowest ERA at 4.77. Cliff Lee went 18-5, 3.79 last season, but has struggled for most of this year. He's 4-5, with a beefy 5.12 ERA. The league is also hitting .283 against him and he's allowed 11 home runs. Paul Byrd was brought in as one of the replacements for Millwood, but his ERA is nearly a full point higher than his 4.28 career mark. Another free agent signee was Jason Johnson who has pitched better of late, but still has a 5.70 ERA.

The Indians still know how to score runs. Lead off man Grady Sizemore is blossoming into a star. Travis Hafner is on his way to another 30 HR, 100 RBI season. About the only disappointment offensively is Jhonny Peralta who had a break out 2005 with .292-24-78. This season he's at .225-5-26 and has already struck out 67 times in 240 at-bats.

The bullpen gave the Indians trouble last year and they are still having problems finding arms to get them to closer Bob Wickman. Guillermo Mota was brought in via a deal with Boston, but has been a huge disappointment. His 7.82 ERA is the worst on the staff. The remainder of the pen is pretty much interchangeable with not much success.

With the way the Yankees are playing right now this series is up for grabs.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Pitching a Fit, Fielding for Sh......

Still basking in the glow of Melky Cabrera's catch last Tuesday night, I sat down Wednesday to write about the game and other things. Only blogger had other things in mind. For the next several days it wouldn't save anything I was doing, except for when I inadvertently erased an end font that turned everything green.

So here I am back - and pissed off. After that beautiful 2-1 win, the Yankees got rained out and then proceeded to lose 4 in a row. Really 4 games can be summed up with poor starting pitching, poor relief pitching, and porous defense.

The Yankees looked like they were headed to a three game sweep of the Red Sox on Thursday night. Johnny Damon, Bernie Williams, and Robinson Cano all took Curt Schilling deep to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead after 5. Then Jaret Wright reverted to the Jaret Wright we have witnessed too many times over the past two seasons. With some help from a meek attempt at third by Alex Rodriguez (it was scored an error and later changed to a hit), the Sox went ahead 4-3 in the 6th. Scott Proctor, who has also reverted back to normal, then gave up a 3-run bomb to Jason Varitek to put the game out of reach. Just for the heck though, Scott Erickson gave up two more for a 9-3 final. Thankfully, Erickson got his walking papers yesterday.

Oakland came into town on Friday to start a three game set. Obviously Randy Johnson was not buoyed by his recent starts as he went out and threw like garbage. He yelled at the umpire, he yelled at himself...if only he would yell at his agent to convince him to retire. It's getting to the point where I don't even want to turn the game on when this huge jerk is on the mound. Antonio Perez was still only hitting .056 after the game, but belted a 2-run homer off of him. A 1 1/2 hour rain delay apparently woke up the Yankee hitters as they got the A's bullpen after managing 1 run against Danny Haren. Jason Giambi belted a 3-run homer and Robinson Cano tripled in a run to cut the lead to 6-5 in the 7th, but Cano was stranded. Kiko Calero and Huston Street dominated the Yankees over the final two innings and dominated the rest of the series. Aaron Small was the bright spot with his first effective outing all year - 3 scoreless innings to keep the Yanks in the game.

Mike Mussina looked to put an end to the skids on Saturday, but wasn't at his best and Cano and Giambi made costly errors. The hitters wasted opportunities against Kirk Saarloos and the A's won 5-2. The Yankees went down meekly to Street in the 9th again.

Sunday was no better, especially since my wife and I were there. Giambi sat out with a bruised finger, the result of being hit by a pitch on Saturday. Jeter was still stuck at DH because of his finger problems. And the Yankees played sloppy. Melky Cabrera nearly took Johnny Damon's head off in a collision that turned into a Nick Swisher inside-the-park-home-run. Scott Proctor's poor throw on a potential inning ending double play allowed the tying run to score, and Alex Rodriguez made yet another throwing error. His 11 errors are 1 shy of his entire total last year. A-Rod also stunk at the plate. He was very good at being boo'ed though. If you haven't read it already, read Joel Sherman's piece in the NY Post on A-Rod. Sums him up pretty well, and it's not a pretty picture.

Back to Sunday's game, Shawn Chacon was not very sharp in his 1st start back from the DL. The Yankees need this guy to pitch like he did last year. Him and Wang both, or they will deader than they already look. Kyle Farnsworth spit the bit again as well. I don't give a rat's ass how many times this guy can hit 99 mph on the radar gun. Between the walks and home runs, he's stunk out the joint. Dan Johnson took him the opposite way for the game winner on Sunday. Calero and Street made easy work in the late innings again to close it out.

It's not going to get any easier after today's much needed off-day. The Indians are coming to town and they are a lot hungrier team than this sad bunch.

We need a starting pitcher, bullpen help, and a corner outfielder. It's nice having the kids in the lineup, but their cooling off. Hey, Brian Cashman, get on the phone - NOW!

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Phillips, Giambi Slug Beckett and Sox 13-5

7 Run Outburst Keys Victory

Mike Mussina has picked up his teammates almost every time he's stepped on the mound this season. Last night the Yankees offense decided to give him a break. Andy Phillips and Jason Giambi smacked 3-run home runs in a 7 run second inning and the Yankees rolled over the Red Sox 13-5 to capture the first of the four game series. Red Sox starter Josh Beckett got yanked after 1 1-3 innings, his shortest stint since an arm injury forced him out of a 2003 Marlins game.

The tone of the ball game was set in the first inning. Coco Crisp led off with a double, but Mussina struck out Mark Loretta, David Ortiz, and Manny Ramirez to escape unscathed. The Yankees lineup has had to rely less on power and more on aggressive play, and that's what produced the first run of the game. After reaching on a fielder's choice, Melky Cabrera broke for second when Beckett's pitch eluded catcher Jason Varitek. Varitek's throw to second sailed into center field and Cabrera broke for third. Beckett and Varitek both broke for third base to cover/back up. Third base coach Larry Bowa held up the stop sign, but Cabrera seeing any empty home plate ran through it. He outraced Varitek to the plate as relay man Kevin Youkilis throw eluded the moving target. Cabrera scored, igniting both his teammates and the fans.

Mussina allowed 3 straight singles including an RBI hit to Mike Lowell to tie the game at one in the top of the second. Jason Varitek's double play grounder pushed ahead the go ahead run, but killed any chance of a bigger rally. The Yankees jumped all over Beckett in the bottom of the 2nd and sent him to an early shower. After singles by Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano, Phillips blasted a 3-run shot to left for a 4-2 lead. Singles by Bernie Williams, Miguel Cairo, and Johnny Damon followed for a 5th run before a single out had been recorded. Beckett finally retired Cabrera on a fielder's choice, but Giambi blasted a 3-run shot, his 16th home run of the season, off the facing of the upper deck to break the game open. A walk to Alex Rodriguez finally convinced Terry Francona to pull Beckett from the game.

The Yankees scored 5 more runs of the Sox pen in the 3rd as Cabrera and Cano both delivered 2-run doubles, and Posada was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Mussina labored for the rest of the night allowing 5 runs, 4 earned in 6 innings. But he pitched to the scoreboard and picked up his 8th win in 9 tries.


Mussina picked up his 2,478th strikeout, tying him with Jack Morris for 9th on the all-time list. He came into the game with an AL best 2.48 ERA, but his worst outing of the season pumped it up to 2.67.

Derek Jeter originally thought he'd been in the starting lineup last night after being hit on the hand in Sunday's game, but was unable to grip a ball to throw it and sat out. He's out for tonight's game and could be out longer.

The Yankees set a club record by producing double figures in hits for the 12th straight game. The previous record was held by the 1937 team that included a 22-year old Joe DiMaggio.

Shawn Chacon felt good one day after his rehab stint in Trenton and said he's ready to face the A's on Friday night. That will of course be a decision for Joe Torre. Aaron Small's ineffectiveness will most definitely play a part in the decision making process.

The Yankees have the 21st in today's amateur draft and are expected to take a pitcher.

Monday, June 5, 2006

Here They Come Again

Timing is everything and the time couldn't be worse for the Yankees to be facing the Boston Red Sox in a four game series. Thankfully the meeting is taking place at Yankee Stadium and not up in Fenway. The Yankees took 2 of 3 in Boston in late May without the services of Hideki Matsui and with the services of a less than 100% Gary Sheffield. Now in addition two both Matsui and Sheffield possibly out for the season the lineup may be further shorthanded due to stomach ailments that have beset Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi. Both are hopeful of playing tonight, but only their stomachs know for sure. A-Rod played in Sunday's finale in Baltimore and wished he hadn't.

On top of the bug that A-Rod and Giambi caught, Derek Jeter caught a Rodrigo Lopez fastball on his right thumb yesterday. He left the game immediately and was taken for x-rays which turned out to be negative. Though Joe Torre may feel otherwise, Jeter definitely wants in tonight's lineup.

Timing was also bad for A-Rod's illness. He had been red hot when the shit almost really did hit the fan. Prior to the last two games, he had gone 16-46 (.348) w/4 HR, 14 RBI and 11 runs scored.

"A must win" is probably too strong a phrase for tonight's game, but it's as close to describing the need for winner the first of this four game set. The Yankees need Mike Mussina to do what he has done all season, throw a quality start and give the bullpen some rest. One bit of good news is that Mariano Rivera expects to be ready in case the Yankees need to protect a lead late.

The Yankee killers, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, come into this series having both homered on Sunday. Ortiz has to be ecstatic about facing the Yankees since he is having a less than Ortiz-like season. He's hitting just .261 though he does have 16 HR and 50 RBI. Against the Yankees Ortiz is hitting .333-2-10. Against the rest of the American League Ortiz is batting just .249.

Ramirez destroyed the Yankees during the recent trip to Fenway and showed them up in the process with a very elongated home run trot (more like a walk). Ramirez is hitting .297 with 14 home runs, but has put up a sub par 37 RBI. Considering he had 4 HR and 10 RBI in that series in Fenway, it really shows you just how sub par his production has been. Overall, Manny is hitting .500-5-13 against the Bombers and just .263-9-24 against the rest of the American League.

Josh Beckett gets the nod for the Sox tonight. Beckett worked 7 innings in the Sox 14-3 victory of the Yankees on May 9. He followed that up with another 3 wins in a row, allowing just 7 earned runs in 30 innings. Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays hammered him in his last start. The Jays hit 4 home runs and put 7 runs on Beckett in 4-plus innings. He's now allowed 14 home runs in his last 8 starts.

Pitching Match Ups for the Rest of the Series

Tuesday - Chien-Ming Wang tries to bounce back from his shaky outing against the Tigers. He did come up big by saving Saturday's game in Baltimore. The Red Sox send 22-year old David Pauley to the hill. A pitching shortage forced the Sox to recall Pauley from Double-A to face the Blue Jays last Wednesday. The Sox won 8-6, but Pauley didn't figure in the decision after giving up 6 runs in 4 1-3 innings.

Wednesday - Joe Torre hopes that Jaret Wright can continue to step it up when he takes the mound on Wednesday. In his last 6 starts, Wright has gone 3-1, 3.21. Wright has not pitched past the 6th inning in any of those starts which puts more pressure on Wang to go longer in Tuesday's game in order to save the bullpen.
Everyone's favorite asshole (well it's head-to-head with Barry Bonds) Curt Schilling goes for the Red Sox. The Yankees battered Schilling around in a 7-3 win at home on May 10, but Schilling dominated them over 8 innings in a 9-5 win at Fenway on May 22nd. Schilling was 2-0, 1.61 after his 1st two starts of the season. He's 6-2 since then, but his ERA is 4.41 over that time.

Thursday - Randy Johnson vs Tim Wakefield. This is the one match up that's hard to figure. The Yankees don't know what they are going to get out of Johnson. Will this be one of those times where they batter Wakefield or he dominates them. Johnson was on the wrong end of that 14-3 defeat to Beckett in early May, never making it out of the 4th inning. He was dominant against Boston last year, but was pitching with much more confidence. Basically it's a roll of the dice.

Wakefield has already faced the Yankees three times. He was a win, a loss, and a no-decision to show for it. The win and the no-decision came in his first two times out, both quality starts. Maybe the 3rd time was the charm as the Yankees hammered for 7 runs, 6 earned, in 6-plus innings. Alex Rodriguez punctuated the night with a 3-run homer.

As they have in the series against Detroit and Baltimore, the Yankees are going to need Melky Cabrera, Kevin Thompson, Andy Phillips and whoever else might be in there to step it up big time.

Band-aids Take 2 of 3 From O's

Injury, Illness, Shoddy Bullpen Mark Series

The Yankees were beset by stomach viruses, injuries, poor relief pitching, and poor starting pitching, but still managed to take 2 of 3 from the more hapless Baltimore Orioles this weekend. Probably one of the biggest things helping the Yankees was their hometown crowd. Well, to be more succinct, it was the enormous number of Yankee fans that took over Camden Yards this weekend. Peter Angelos' poor ownership is a story for another day though.

Friday Night

The Yankees learned early on that Alex Rodriguez would not be available for Friday or Saturday's game due to a stomach virus. Joe Torre was tipped off when A-Rod could barely keep from nodding off in the team meetings.

Jaret Wright pitched an effective 6 innings on Friday, leaving with a 3-3 tie. His own error contributed to the tying run scoring. The Yankees went ahead 5-3 in the top of the 7th on an RBI single by Derek Jeter and a wild pitch, and turned things over to the bullpen.

Ron Villone worked a scoreless 7th and struck out Corey Patterson to start the 8th. With right-hander Jeff Conine announced as a pinch-hitter for lefty Nick Markakis, Joe Torre once again overmanaged and pulled Villone. Now it would be one thing to pull Villone in favor of a solid right-hander, but Torre signaled for Scott Erickson. This guy can't be dispatched from the team fast enough. The move really made no sense since righties are only hitting .224 against Villone. Erickson promptly hit Conine with a pitch and gave up an RBI double to Luis Matos. The O's cut the lead to 1 and had the tying and winning runs in scoring position. Erickson intentionally walked Brian Roberts and was pulled in favor of the overworked Kyle Farnsworth.

Farnsworth was making his 8th appearance in the last 11 days and was coming off of Thursday's nightmare in Detroit. Farnsworth got what he wanted, a double play grounder by Melvin Mora, but the hard shot ate up Miguel Cairo, filling for A-Rod at third, and the tying run came across as Cairo forced Roberts at 2nd. Farnsworth intentionally walked Miguel Tejada before getting Ramon Hernandez to fly out for the final out of the inning.

Derek Jeter leads the Yankees in hitting with RISP and came through again in the top of the 9th with a little help from Brian Roberts. Johnny Damon attempted to steal 2nd with 2 outs, but was gunned down by Hernandez - well, he initially was. 2nd Base ump Lance Barksdale signaled out, but Roberts dropped the ball as he brought his glove up to show Barksdale. Damon was called safe as O's manager Sam Perlozzo argued to no avail. Jeter took advantage by singling through the right side to score Damon and give the Yankees the lead back at 6-5. Farnsworth retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning and the Yankees had pulled out the first game of the series.

Saturday was more of the same. Joining A-Rod on the sidelines with a stomach bug was Jason Giambi. Rookie Kevin Thompson got his first big league start in right field. Randy Johnson was given a 1-0 lead in the first, but has so often been the case this year, he gave it right back and then some. It looked like it was going to be a long day for the long lefty as the O's touched him up for 3 runs. Ramon Hernandez capped it off with a 2-run homer. But Johnson settled down after the first and pretty much cruised along until the eighth.

Meanwhile the Yankee bats took over. The Yankees told a 4-3 lead in the 5th off rookie starter Adam Loewen on an RBI double by Jeter and a sac fly by Bernie Williams, his 3rd RBI of the day. Red hot Andy Phillips tacked one on in the 7th with his 3rd home run of the season. But then the Yankees had to go to their overworked pen. Mariano Rivera was still out with back spasms and Farnsworth was unavailable (probably couldn't lift his arm).

Johnson issued a one-out walk to Brian Roberts in the 8th. The pitch was his 114th and with the heart of the O's order coming up, Torre called on Mr. Everydayman, Scott Proctor. Proctor has been getting lit up since mid-May and Saturday was no different. After Melvin Mora flied out, Roberts stole 2nd and came home on Miguel Tejada's double. Tejada was 8-14 in the 3 game set. The O's got some help from the umps with Ramon Hernandez up. Hernandez clearly went around trying to check his swing on a 2 strike pitch. But neither home plate ump Mike Winters or Barksdale, now down at 1st, saw it. Hernandez took advantage stroking a game tying RBI double. Hernandez went 7-12 on the weekend.

The teams went to the 10th where Johnny Damon drilled a line drive home run over the center field wall off of O's closer Chris Ray. Damon thought it was the best swing he ever had. It certainly was the best anyone had on that day. With a worn out pen, Torre turned to starter Chien-Ming Wang to close it out. Wang quickly retired the first two hitters, before Tejada and Hernandez bounced singles through the right side. I admittedly held my breath as Javy Lopez hit a deep drive to right and was able to peacefully exhale as Thompson closed his glove around the ball to close out the win.

Sunday was a complete disaster. A-Rod sleep-walked his way through the game as DH. Jeter got nailed on his right thumb by a pitch and had to leave the game. Jorge Posada moved to 1st base for the first time since 2001. Giambi still had his head in the toilet. And Aaron Small got lit up like a Christmas tree.

Small didn't make it out of the 3rd, giving up home runs to Lopez, Kevin Millar, and Bill Fahey. The Yankees were down 7-0 before they barely had time to take their kaopectate. Matt Smith provided some nice relief, throwing 1 1-3 scoreless innings. But then Erickson came out on the mound again. Lopez smacked a second homer with a couple of men aboard and Erickson got torched for another 4 runs. He's got a lovely 13.50 ERA in his last 3 appearances. GET HIM OFF MY TEAM...NOW!

About the only bright spot on the day was the first 3 RBI of Kevin Thompson's career. It came one day after he got his 1st Major League hit. Thompson cleared the loaded bases in the 7th with a double.

All in all 2 out of 3 is good. Good thing it was Baltimore.

Friday, June 2, 2006

No Mo, No Win

Farnsworth blows sweep, Tigers prevail 7-6

Mariano Rivera once again proved to the Yankees just how vital he is to their success. Rivera was out of commission for yesterday's game, and possibly the entire weekend series in Baltimore, after hurting his back while changing his shoes. With Rivera sitting out with back spasms, the task of closing out a 6-5 lead against the Detroit Tigers last night fell on the arm of Kyle Farnsworth. And Farnsworth failed miserably. The Tigers completed a comeback from a 5-0 deficit with a pair of runs off of Farnsworth in the 9th to salvage the final game of the four game series.

As is often the case with Farnsworth (1-3), a walk got him into trouble. This time it was former Yankee Marcus Thames receiving the free pass with one out in the 9th. Ivan Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez followed with singles to tie the game and put the winning run in scoring position on 2nd base. Carlos Guillen then singled thru the right side and Terrence Long's balloon throw home wasn't close or nearly in time.

Hard throwing rookie right-hander Justin Verlander had started the game for the Tigers and had to battle through a blister problem. The Yankees knocked him around to the tune of 6 runs in the first 5 innings. But has often been the case this season, Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang struggled with the lead. Leading 5-0, Wang issued a bases loaded walk to Ordonez and RBI singles to Guillen and Omar Infante to cut the lead to 5-3 after 4.

Jason Giambi got one of those runs back in the 5th with his 14th home run of the season, but Wang couldn't make it out of the bottom of the 5th to earn a win. A walk to Curtis Granderson and consecutive singles by Thames and Rodriguez loaded the bases with none out. Joe Torre had seen enough and brought in rookie right-hander Darrell Rasner who had just been recalled from Columbus. Rasner gave up a two-run single to Ordonez to cut the margin to 1 run before retiring the next 3 hitters.

Without the tenure to tell Torre to get back in the dugout as Mike Mussina did the previous night, Rasner could only walk off the field when Torre pulled him after an inning and two-thirds to set up a lefty-lefty match up between Mike Myers and Curtis Granderson. It typified Torre's tendency to overmanage in these situations. Why use your lefty specialist in the 6th inning? Myers made matters worse by walking Granderson. Scott Proctor came on and was back to his form of early May, striking out four in 2 1-3 scoreless innings.

The Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second when Robinson Cano doubled, his first of four hits, and scored on a double by the hot hitting Andy Phillips. In the third the Yankees blew it open, or so they thought, when Jorge Posada cleared the loaded bases with a double to right and came home on a sacrifice fly by Phillips. Three Tiger relievers blanked the Yankees over the final 4 innings as their hitters chipped away at the lead. Farnsworth then gave up a chunk.


Derek Jeter sat out a second straight game with a sore right wrist, but insisted that it was merely Joe Torre being cautious.

As expected, Gary Sheffield was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Results of an MRI showed a torn tendon in his wrist. Kevin Thompson was recalled from Columbus to take his spot on the roster. He's expected to be used off the bench and to start against tough left-handers.

Shawn Chacon is scheduled to make a rehab start at Double-A Trenton on Sunday.

Thursday, June 1, 2006

Mussina Dominates Tigers 6-1

Ace Demands Complete Game

Mike Mussina has done everything the Yankees have asked of him this season. Last night, they returned the favor. Leading 6-1 with 2 out in the 9th, Mussina barked at Joe Torre to stay in the dugout. Torre had already made one trip to the mound and was ascending the dugout stairs to pull Mussina from the ball game. It appeared that Mussina was on his way to a complete game shutout, but Alex Rodriguez's errant throw on a Placido Polanco grounder kept the inning and game going. Magglio Ordonez singled in Polanco to break up the shutout and prompted Torre to make a pitching change. But Mussina spotted Torre before he could get out of the dugout and demanded, "No! Get back in there!". Torre threw his arms out and said, "Okay, okay", before breaking into laughter. Mussina responded by striking out Carlos Guillen to end the game and give the bullpen a much needed night off.

Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, and Gary Sheffield were all missing from the lineup, but Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi had 3 hits each and combined for 3 RBI. Jeter sat out due to soreness in the right wrist he injured sliding into second base on Monday. Damon sat out with soreness in the broken bone in his foot and Sheffield was back in New York having tests done on his beat up left wrist.

The Yankees gave Mussina a lead to work with right off the bat with a two-out rally against Tigers starter Nate Robertson in the first inning. Consecutive singles by Giambi, A-Rod, and Jorge Posada pushed the first run of the game across home plate.

Both pitchers locked into a good duel before the Yankees added another run in the 5th. With the bases loaded and two out, Rodriguez singled hard threw the left side to score Andy Phillips and the bags remained juiced. Robertson (5-3) escaped further trouble by getting Posada to fly out to center for the final out of the inning.

Giambi led off the eighth with a ground rule double into the left field corner and scored on Rodriguez's third hit of the ball game, a triple over the head of Curtis Granderson . It seems like ever since Giambi hit into a game ending double play last Friday night he has made more of a concerted effort to hit the ball to the opposite field. A-Rod beat Chris Shelton's throw home on Robinson Cano's soft tapper to boost the lead to 4-0.

The Yankees managed another two-out rally in the 9th when Melky Cabrera singled, stole second, and came home on Miguel Cairo's single. Cairo's single finally drove Robertson from the game and set up a lefty-lefty match up between Jamie Walker and Giambi. Giambi won out, driving a double to the gap in right-center that scored Cairo with the Yankees final run.

All that was left was for Mussina to close it out and he was going to make damn sure it was he who did just that. Manager be damned.


Derek Jeter is expected to be back in the lineup for tonight's series finale.

The results of Gary Sheffield's MRI and additional testing should be known today. Another trip to the DL is the most likely scenario.

Joe Torre has not ruled out a stint on the DL for Johnny Damon either. Damon's foot will be an on-going nuisance since rest and anti-inflammatory medication is the only way for the broken bone to heal.

Prior to the game, the Yankees designated third string catcher Koyie Hill for assignment and bolstered the pen with the addition of Darrell Rasner. Rasner was picked up off waivers from the Washington Nationals during Spring Training. The 25-year old right-hander posted an impressive 4-0 record with a 2.56 ERA as a starter for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.

Yankees Top 10 prospect Steve White continued his fine season for Double-A Trenton by pitching a 7-inning complete game shut out. White, who struggled last season, is 4-1, 2.11 in 11 starts.