Thursday, April 30, 2009

Joba and Yankees Survive Tigers

Here's my recap of last night's win for Baseball Digest

Yankees Laugh Early, Breathe Hard Late

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees
0 0 0 7 1 0 0 0 0
8 9 0
0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 5
6 7 0

WP - Chamberlain (1-0) LP - Porcella (1-3)

It should have been a laugher. On the heels of Tuesday night’s 11-0 win, this should have been an even easier game to win. But the Yankees had to hold on tight Wednesday night in Detroit to beat the Tigers 8-6. The victory gave the Yankees a series win as they took two of three.

The Yankees built an 8-1 lead behind timely hitting and stellar pitching from starter Joba Chamberlain. But Jonathan Albaladejo and Mariano Rivera made things exciting in the ninth as the Tigers scored five times before Rivera retired Placido Polanco for the game’s final out in a non-save situation.

Just like his “brother in arms” Phil Hughes had done on Tuesday night, Chamberlain gave the Yankees a much needed boost with his performance. He threw just 88 pitches as he limited the Tigers to three hits over seven innings. The only trouble he got into was when the Tigers scored their lone run in the third.

Brandon Inge led off the inning with a walk and Josh Anderson followed with a single to center field. After a Ramon Santiago sacrifice bunt, Chamberlain issued his second walk of the inning to Curtis Granderson to load the bases. Polanco’s sacrifice fly brought in the game’s first run and Chamberlain got himself into more trouble when he walked Magglio Ordonez to reload the bases. That set up a matchup with Detroit’s best hitter, Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers’ first baseman entered the game with the best average in baseball (.444), with the bases loaded. He worked the count to 3-2 and looked for a fastball, but Chamberlain snapped off a nasty curve ball to strike out Cabrera swinging to end the threat.

Buoyed by Chamberlain’s effort, the Yankees exploded for seven runs in the top of the fourth inning. Hideki Matsui drew a lead off walk from New Jersey native Rick Porcello and advanced to third on a one-out hit and run single by Jorge Posada. The Yankees’ slow footed catcher has been running even slower due to a bad hamstring, but took advantage of not being held on first base and stole second base uncontested. Hitting from the left side of the plate, Nick Swisher crushed a Porcello fastball over the fence in left field for a 3-run home run to put the Yankees ahead for good.

Singles by Melky Cabrera and Ramiro Pena set the table once again. Derek Jeter bounced into a force play, but Johnny Damon delivered an RBI double that ended Porcello’s night. Left-hander Clay Rapada intentionally walked switch-hitter Mark Teixeira, but the move blew up in manager Jim Leyland’s face when the hot-hitting Hideki Matsui doubled over Anderson’s head in left to clear the bases for a 7-1 Yankees lead. One inning later, Swisher hit his second home run of the game, this time from the right side, and the Yankees seemed to be all set with an 8-1 advantage.

Chamberlain retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings, and escaped a two on, no out jam in the seventh before he turned things over to the bullpen. Phil Coke tossed a scoreless eighth inning, but Albaladejo gave some hope to those Tigers fans who remained in their seats. He committed a cardinal sin right off the bat by walking Cabrera on four pitches to start the inning. A double by Carlos Guillen, a sac fly by Gerald Laird, and an RBI double by Brandon Inge suddenly cut the Yankees’ lead to 8-3. Albaladejo struck out Anderson, but when he allowed a single to Santiago, Joe Girardi quickly went to Mariano Rivera. Maybe too quickly- as it appeared that the Yankees’ closer hadn’t had sufficient time to warm up.

That theory gained more credence when Curtis Granderson turned on a Rivera pitch and belted a 3-run home run to right field, to slice the Yankees lead to 8-6. The Yankees held their collective breath until Robinson Cano put away Polanco’s pop up for the game’s final out.

Game Notes

It was the eighth time in Nick Swisher’s career that he had homered from both sides of the plate. Among active MLB players, only Tony Clark (10) and Jorge Posada (8) have done it at least that many times.

Melky Cabrera
appears to have taken over the center field job for now… although Joe Girardi will not commit to either Brett Gardner or Cabrera full time. But Melky is 10-31 (.323) in his last 10 games, with 3 home runs and 6 RBI. Meanwhile, Gardner is in a 4-25 (.160) slide.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have now scored at least seven runs in an inning in back to back road games for the first time in 80 years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Let it Slide

According to the NY Daily News' Mark Feinsand, Alex Rodriguez let it all slide yesterday. As the next step in his rehab process, A-Rod slid five times to test out his surgically repaired hip. Because of the progress he has made, the Yankees are looking to move up A-Rod's return by a week. He was originally expected to be activated May 15.

A-Rod also took 15 at-bats of live BP against rehabbing pitchers Sergio Mitre and Paul Patterson.

A-Rod's first temporary replacement, Cody Ransom, didn't get such good news. An MRI showed a Grade 2 tear of his quad.

Ian Kennedy has Numbness in Fingers

Just spotted this on Mike Silva's Baseball Digest - Ian Kennedy left his Monday start for Scranton due to numbness in his fingers. Scranton beat writer Chad Jennings reported late last night that there was no concrete medical findings as of yet.

Any Yankees fan over the age of 12 will of course recall David Cone going through this in 1996. That turned out to be an aneurysm. We're in no way saying that's the case here. But clearly there is a circulatory issue. It's not uncommon for pitchers who throw split finger fastballs to experience numbness. Jeff Robinson of the '80s Detroit Tigers comes to mind.

Hopefully this turns out to be nothing. We'll keep you posted.

We Could get Hughes to This

He's heard all the hype. The fans have heard all the hype. But no one had seen anything positive from prospect Phil Hughes since 2007. That all changed last night. Hughes stepped up big time, throwing six scoreless inning to help the Yankees snap a four game losing streak with an 11-0 whitewashing of the Detroit Tigers.

For a while it looked like the offense would let Hughes' effort go to waste. They couldn't push a run across against starter Edwin Jackson through six innings, but then erupted for a 10-run seventh inning.

But Hughes was the story in this one. He gave the starting rotation a huge boost. Instead of Chien-Ming Wang getting hammered and taxing the bullpen, the Yankees watched Hughes allow just two hits over six innings. He walked two, struck out six and threw 99 pitches. He established the tone right from the start with strikeouts of Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco in the first inning.

The only real trouble Hughes got into was in the fourth inning when he hit Miguel Cabrera with one out pitch and gave up a single to Carlos Guillen. A fielder's choice and a walk to Brandon Inge loaded the bases with two outs, but Hughes retired Josh Anderson on an inning ending ground out.

Meanwhile, back in the visitors' dugout....the Yankees continued to fail with runners in scoring position - they own the worst mark in the AL . Johnny Damon flied out with two on and two out in the third. Melky Cabrera struck out with two on and two out in the fourth. Robinson Cano struck out with two outs and a man on third in the sixth. Then came lucky number seven and the offense exorcised its demons, at least for one night.

Jim Leyland sent for Ryan Perry to start the inning and the Yankees offense went to work. Nick Swisher opened the frame with a single and Melky walked. Jose Molina sacrificed the runners over and set up the turning point of the night. Pinch-hitter Jorge Posada, not starting due to a bad hamstring - not for dogging it as some people speculated, lofted a shallow fly to left that Anderson misplayed into a 2-base error. In all likelihood Swisher would not have scored had Anderson caught it, but instead the Yankees had themselves a 2-0 lead.

A walk to Derek Jeter ended Perry's night, but Nate Robertson would fare no better. Damon singled to center for a 3-0 lead. Robertson retired Mark Teixeira for the second out of the inning, but Hidkei Matsui and Cano delivered back to back RBI singles for a 5-0 lead. Two walks later, Brandon Lyon served up a grand slam to Molina to put the game out of reach.

Hughes got his congratulations and the Joe Girardi turned things over to the pen for three scoreless innings, including one by Mark Melancon. The Yankees can envision a day when Melancon will close out Phil Hughes' victories. For now though, the Yankees are just happy to be back on the winning track.

Game Notes

Nick Swisher may be pulling out of his slump. He was 2-3 with his 5th home run of the season, walked twice, and scored three times.

Hideki Matsui was 2-5 and is 14-32 (.438) in his last eight games.

Phil Hughes' victory was his first regular season win since September 27, 2007 against Tampa Bay. He also beat the Cleveland Indians in that season's Division Series. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, by winning his sixth career game he tied the Yankees record of total wins by a first round pick (Bill Burbach, '65 draft). That's just sad.

Also according to Elias, Robinson Cano's two at-bats of 10 or more pitches last night was the first time he saw double digit pitches since August of last year.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yankees Dropping Ticket Prices!....for Wealthy Fans

It's the old good news, bad news...and in this case, more like if it doesn't affect me, who cares news...The Yankees are dropping ticket prices for those who can still afford to spend several hundreds of dollars or more for seats.
A. The full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 15A, 15B, 24B and 25 will be reduced from $2,500 to $1,250 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.

B. The full season Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 11, 12, 13, 27B, 28 and 29 will be reduced from $1,000 to $650 per regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.

C. All fans who purchased full season $2,500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row, in Sections 16 - 24A, will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the first row in Sections 16 - 24A for each of the remaining regular season games during the 2009 regular season.

D. All fans who purchased full season $1,250 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $1,250 Legends Suite price category for 24 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.

E. All fans who purchased full season $850 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $850 Legends Suite price category for 8 games and in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 4 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.

F. All fans who purchased full season $600 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 10 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.

G. All fans who purchased full season $500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive an equal number of complimentary Legends Suite Seats in the $500 Legends Suite price category for 8 games during the 2009 regular season, as selected by the Yankees.

H. Future 2009 regular season sales of full season $1,250, $850, $600 and $500 Legends Suite and Ticket Licenses, will receive comparable (dependent upon the price of the Legends Suite and Ticket License) benefits during the 2009 regular season, subject to availability.

I. The Delta SKY 360 Suite and Ticket Licenses in the first row in Sections 218A - 222 will be reduced from $750 to $550 for each regular season game. All fans who have purchased such full season Suite and Ticket Licenses will receive, at their choice, a refund or a credit.

Instead of giving ticket holders additional seats for a select number of games, why give them a rebate?

In addition, for 2009, so as to encourage fans to purchase full season ticket plans in the Field Level Sections 115 - 125, the Yankees are also adopting a program affecting a few hundred seats. And, for our fans who have already purchased, on a full season basis such Field Level seating priced at $325 Sections 115 - 125, the following program is being adopted effective immediately:

A. Going forward all fans when purchasing, on a full season basis, three (3) full regular season ticket plans priced at $325 per regular season game in Sections 115 - 125 will receive a fourth full regular season ticket at no additional cost.

B. All fans who have purchased full season plans priced at $325 per regular season game will receive complimentary regular season tickets within Sections 115 - 125 for remaining regular season games during the 2009 regular season as follows:

1. If you purchased two (2) or three (3) full season tickets you will receive two (2) tickets for every other regular season game, commencing with either the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009 or the Friday evening game on May 1, 2009 and alternating for the remainder of the season.

2. If you purchased four (4) or five (5) full season tickets you will receive two (2) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.

3. If you purchased six (6) or seven (7) full season tickets you will receive three (3) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.

4. If you purchased eight (8) full season tickets you will receive four (4) tickets for every regular season game during the balance of the 2009 regular season, commencing with the Thursday evening game on April 30, 2009.

It's still the haves and the have nots. We remember when you could actually buy a box seat.

Clemens to be Lambasted in Book

The NY Daily News' I-team (their 60 Minutes way of saying investigators Teri Thompson, Nathaniel Vinton, Michael O’Keeffe and Christian Red) have put together an expose on Roger Clemens entitled, "American Icon: The Fall of Roger Clemens and the Rise of Steroids in America's Pasttime".

The book is based on thousands of pages of court documents, congressional depositions, police reports, medical files and transcripts of secretly recorded phone calls. They interviewed baseball players and executives, union officials, congressional members and staffers, law enforcement agents, attorneys, agents, steroid suppliers, trainers, doctors and doping experts. The team’s original reporting for the Daily News won The Associated Press Sports Editors award for Best Investigative Reporting in 2008.
Today's edition of the paper has excerpts about the Clemens' SI photo shoot, Brian McNamee injecting Debbie Clemens with HGH, Roger's infidelity, and the anti-defamation suit which brought damaging character flaws to the public's attention.

Do we really need to know all this?

If it's Tuesday this must be Dexter Fowler

You may not know Dexter Fowler yet, but you will soon. He swiped five bases Monday night in the Rockies 12-7 win over the Padres.

Fowler swiped second base three times and stole another two at third base. Pitcher Chris Young and catcher Nick Hundley were the victims each time.

Box Score

Monday, April 27, 2009

Flatter Than a Pancake

Recap of tonight's game for Baseball Digest

Running on Empty in the Motor City

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2 10 0
1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 X
4 6 0

WP - Verlander (1-2) LP - Sabathia (1-2)

There isn’t much going right for the New York Yankees these days. Get good hitting, get poor pitching. Get good pitching, get poor hitting. Unfortunately, poor pitching and poor hitting have occurred on the same night way too often. Sprinkle in poor defense and you’ve got one ugly trifecta. The good pitching, poor hitting scenario was in effect in tonight’s 4-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers. It was the Yankees fourth straight loss and extended the Tigers winning streak to three games.

CC Sabathia pitched better than a 4.50 game ERA would indicate, but his complete game effort was overshadowed by a dominant performance by the Tigers’ Justin Verlander. The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year entered tonight’s contest with a 9.00 ERA, but he easily blew his fastball by the Yankees’ anemic bats. Verlander struck out nine and scattered seven hits over seven scoreless innings for his first win of the year. The Yankees rallied for a pair of runs off closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth inning, but it was too little too late.

The Tigers jumped on the scoreboard in the first inning when Placido Polanco doubled and scored on a Miguel Cabrera single. The Yankees didn’t have a legitimate scoring threat until the fourth when Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui led off the inning with back to back singles. It was all for naught though as Verlander retired Robinson Cano on a fly out to right and blazed pitches past the slumping Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera for a pair of strikeouts.

The Tigers put the game away in the sixth when Curtis Granderson reached on a one out bunt single and came all the way around from first to score on Polanco’s second double of the game. One batter later Magglio Ordonez hit his second home run of the season for a 4-0 lead. The ball ricocheted off the top of the right field wall and went over, out of the reach of a leaping Swisher.

Despite the final score, Sabathia had one of his best outings. In giving the bullpen a night off, he scattered six hits, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out seven. 70 of his 99 pitchers were for strikes. But Verlander was even better. He retired seven hitters in a row at one point before Ramiro Pena, who had two hits off of him, and Derek Jeter opened the seventh inning with singles. That ended the night for Verlander, who left to a huge ovation.

It doesn’t matter who the pitcher is these days, the Yankees don’t get hits with runners in scoring position. Bobby Seay was the reliever this time around, and Johnny Damon, Teixeira, and Matsui were the culprits, stranding both runners.

The Yankees broke up the shut out when Cano lined a double up the gap in left-center to start the ninth against Rodney and scored on Swisher’s RBI single. Cabrera singled to right to put runners on the corners with no one out, but pinch-hitter Jorge Posada bounced into a run scoring, rally killing double play. Rodney then retired Pena on a shallow fly to left for the game’s final out.

Game Notes

Derek Jeter would like to forget his first inning strikeout, but he won't. The at-bat was the 8,103rd of Jeter's career, putting him ahead of Mickey Mantle for first place on the Yankees all-time list.

The Yankees continue to have difficulty scoring without going yard. Tonight they were 1-9 with runners in scoring position.

two strikeouts gave him 15 in 43 at-bats.

With two hits and a spectacular play to take a bunt hit away from Gerald Laird, Pena certainly earned himself another start at third base.

Phil Hughes makes his 2009 debut Tuesday night as he tries to snap the Yankees four game losing streak. He’ll be opposed by Edwin Jackson.

Yankees-Tigers Series Preview

Yankees and Tigers series preview for Baseball Digest

Yankees-Tigers Series Preview

The Detroit Tigers are only three years removed from winning the American League pennant. But you wouldn’t know that if you looked at how they played last season. The drop off actually began two years ago when the Tigers finished with seven less wins than their Wild Card season of ‘06, leaving them eight games behind the first place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. Many pundits had predicted a repeat of the prior year’s success.

At least the Tigers were in the race in ‘07. Manager Jim Leyland and his team would like to completely forget about last season, but they can’t. Leyland’s job is on the line after a miserable 74-88 record and a last place finish in the AL Central in 2008. It shouldn’t have been that way. After all, the team added one of the best hitters in the game in Miguel Cabrera and one of it’s brightest young pitchers, Dontrelle Willis. While Cabrera put up his usual big numbers (37 HR, 127 RBI), not much else went right for the Tigers last season.

Things started badly right off the bat when up and coming star center fielder Curtis Granderson broke his hand during spring training and missed three weeks. The injury continued to bother him all season.

Former Rookie of the Year Justin Verlander seemed to suffer from a junior jinx. He lost miles per hour on his fastball and command of his pitches. After going 35-15 his first two seasons,Verlander slumped to an 11-17 record with an ERA that was more than a point higher (4.84) than his career average.

Jeremy Bonderman seemed to bounce back from his miserable second half in ‘07, but was shut down after his June 1 start, and underwent season ending thoracic surgery.

Dontrelle Willis was, in a word, awful. In eight appearances, seven of which were starts, Willis allowed 25 runs and walked 35 batters in just 24 innings.

The bullpen struggled all year. Joel Zumaya was hurt again, Fernando Rodney was inconsistent and closer Todd Jones was starting to pitch like a 50 year old, which was was a problem since he was only 40. Jones wasn’t the only one showing his age though. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez, outfielder Gary Sheffield, and starter Kenny Rogers were all in decline.

So far, this season has been a mixed bag for the Tigers. After a 3-5 start, Detroit has won 7 of 10 entering Monday night’s game with the Yankees, and are in first place in the AL Central. Verlander is still struggling to return to his 2006-7 form. Willis has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and is working his way back to the majors in the minor leagues. Jones and Rogers have retired. Bonderman is still recovering from his surgery. Zumaya had just returned from another stint on the DL, and Rodney is trying his hand at closer.

But on the up side, Granderson is healthy and off to a great start, starter Armando Galarraga has been a big boost to the rotation, and New Jersey product Rick Porcello has caused a stir with his fast track to the majors. And Jim Leyland? He’s the same very good manager, win or lose.

Pitching Probables for Yankees-Tigers Series

Monday: CC Sabathia (1-1, 4.81) vs. Justin Verlander (0-2, 9.00)
Tuesday: Phil Hughes (0-0, 0.00) vs. Edwin Jackson (1-1, 2.77)
Wednesday: Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 3.94) vs. Rick Porcello (1-2, 4.50)

Hughes makes his return from Scranton to the bigs due to the injury to Chien-Ming Wang. The Yankees top pitching prospect was 3-0, 1.86 with 19 strikeouts in 19.1 innings pitched. Hughes has walked just three batters and limited opponents to a .233 batting average.

Johnny Damon is in Monday’s starting lineup after being relegated to bench duty on Sunday. Damon collided with the Green Monster on Saturday, and like the Yankees, lost.

After a hot start, Nick Swisher is just 7-39 (.179) over his last 10 games. He has just 2 RBI over that period and has struck out 13 times.

Fenway Flashback

April 19, 2007...the Yankees are down 6-2 with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th against the Cleveland Indians. Josh Phelps hits a solo home run to ignite a 6 run rally, climaxed when Alex Rodriguez hits a walk-off 3-run home run off of Joe Borowski to give the Yankees an8-6 win. The victory extends the Yankees winning streak to three games and raises their record to 9-6 as they head to Fenway Park for a 3-game series with the Red Sox.

Final scores in Fenway - 7-6, 7-5, 7-6 - all in favor of the Red Sox, who raise their record to 12-5. Mariano Rivera blows game one.

Flast forward - April 22, 2009 - the Yankees complete a three game sweep of the A's with a drawn out 14 inning affair that ends with a Melky Cabrera 2-run walk-off home run. The Yankees head to Fenway with a 9-6 record.

Final scores in Fenway - 5-4, 16-11, 4-1 - all in favor of the Red Sox, who raise their record to 12-6. Mariano Rivera blows game one.

Hopefully, that's where the similarities end since the '07 Red Sox won the World Series.

Last night's 4-1, ho hum loss was much different than the first two games. The Yankees didn't even show up for this one, at least not with their bats. They managed just 7 hits off four pitchers, including two who had basically no major league experience between them.

Just as they had in the first two games of the series, the Yankees struck first. Hideki Matsui singled to start the third inning and later came home on a Brett Gardner sac fly. A pair of Angel Berroa errors lead to the tying run in the bottom of the inning and the Red Sox put the game away in the fifth.

Andy Pettitte walked Jason Varitek and Jacoby Ellsbury, but with two outs and the slumping David Ortiz up, Pettitte still had a chance to get out of the inning. But Ortiz sliced a ball into the left field corner that plated Varitek and moved Ellsbury third.

The Yankees wisely chose to intentionally walk Kevin Youkilis and pitch to the left-handed hitting J.D. Drew. But before Pettitte knew what hit him, Ellsbury took advantage of Pettitte pitching from the wind up and broke for home. He slid in easily ahead of Pettitte's throw to Jorge Posada for a steal of home and a 3-1 lead. Drew then added to the misery with an RBI double.

The Yankees failure to deliver in the clutch has reached epidemic proportions the last few seasons. Last night was no different. With two on and two out in the fourth, Justin Masterson struck out Melky Cabrera to end then inning. The Yankees put two more aboard in the six with just one out, but that household name, Hunter Jones, retired Matsui on a line out and also struck out Cabrera.

With Jonathan Papelbon unavailable, Takashi Saito came on in the ninth inning for the save, allowing just a two out single to Cabrera before retiring pinch-hitter Johnny Damon to end the game.

Game Notes

Mark Melancon made an impressive major league debut last night. He retired Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Ortiz in order in the seventh, and got out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the eighth.

Johnny Damon was banged up from his collision with the Green Monster on Saturday. He's expected to start tonight in Detroit.


NY Yankees 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 2

Boston 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 X 4 7 1

WP: J. Masterson (2-0) S: T. Saito (2)
LP: A. Pettitte (2-1)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We Want a Pitcher not a Belly Itcher

Here's my recap of the latest Yankees' fiasco for Baseball Digest

We Want a Pitcher not a Belly Itcher

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
NY Yankees
2 0 2 2 0 2 2 1 0
11 15 1
0 0 0 5 3 1 3 4 X
16 13 1

The Yankees would be lucky if that’s all their fans yell when they return to the Bronx on Thursday. The Yankees’ pitching was supposed to be the strength of the team this year, but so far it has been a miserable failure. The latest case in point was a blown 6-0 lead on Saturday and then an eventual 16-11 loss to the Boston Red Sox. The victory extended the Red Sox’ winning streak to nine games.

A.J. Burnett has been outstanding this season, but was extremely fallible on Saturday. The bullpen, on the other hand, has been horrible all season and continued their dismal performance yesterday afternoon into the evening.

The Yankees jumped on Red Sox starter Josh Beckett for a pair of runs in the first inning, added two more on a Robinson Cano home run in the third, and another two on a Cano double in the fourth. But after he breezed through the first three innings, things unraveled for Burnett in the home half of the fifth. The Red Sox scored five times, highlighted by a grand slam from their captain Jason Varitek, to cut the lead to 6-5. An inning later, the Red Sox took their first lead of the day, and sent Burnett to the showers, when Jacoby Ellsbury hit a game-tying home run and Jason Bay followed with a 2-run double.

The Red Sox did their best to help the Yankees out. Terry Francona left Beckett in too long and the Yankees sent him packing in the sixth on a game-tying 2-run home run by Johnny Damon, and an inning later Dustin Pedroia committed a 2-run error to put the Yankees back on top 10-8, but New York proved way too hospitable to their hosts.

Mike Lowell, who had been hitless up to that point, took Jonathan Albaladejo deep with two men aboard in the Boston half of the seventh to put the Red Sox back on top 12-10. Cano homered again to cut the lead in half in the top of the eighth. But the Red Sox put the game away, with the help of a blown call by second base ump Brian O’Nora, in their half of the inning.

Ellsbury reached on catcher’s interference to start the inning, and with Pedroia batting, took off for second. Jorge Posada’s throw tailed to the first base side of the bag, but Cano grabbed it and in one motion tagged Ellsbury on the ankles before the Red Sox center fielder could reach second base. Ellsbury was clearly out, but O’Nora called him safe.

Pedroia capitalized on the situation with an RBI single to center that ended Edwar Ramirez’s night. Damaso Marte, who looked pretty good (other than allowing the game-winning home run to Kevin Youkilis) on Friday night, showed more improvement on Saturday. He got David Ortiz to fly out, and after he wisely issued an intentional walk to Youkilis, struck out J.D. Drew. But Girardi decided, unwisely, to mix and match again.

With two right-handers coming up, Girardi sent for David Robertson, recalled earlier in the day from Scranton. Robertson walked Bay to load the bases and then gave up a bases-clearing, back breaking double to Lowell for the 16-11 finale.

Game Notes

Andy Pettitte, a long time stopper for the Yankees, will try to salvage the series finale tonight in another nationally televised game (8:05 ET ESPN). Justin Masterson starts for Boston.

The Elias Sports Bureau has come up with lots of “good” negative stuff on the 2009 Yankees. Only four other teams have ever allowed 15 or more runs on three or more occasions in the their first 20 games. It was also the fourth time in franchise history the Yankees led by as much as six and lost by as much as five. While he didn’t figure in Saturday’s decision, A.J. Burnett nearly ruined his 32-0 mark when handed a lead of at least five runs.

Bullpen ERA’s other than Mariano Rivera and Brian Bruney:

Robertson 3.86
Coke 4.70
Albaladejo 5.23
Veras 6.30
Ramirez 7.36
Marte 15.19
Claggett 43.20

Related posts:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yankees late failures leads to late loss

Prior to last night's New York Yankees - Boston Red Sox game, David Ortiz sent a verbal warning to Joba Chamberlain to not go head hunting. Ortiz was specifically talking about Chamberlain's propensity for throwing at the large noggin of KevinYoukilis. Perhaps the Yankees bullpen should have taken a shot at it. Youkilis singled in the 9th to set up the game tying rally against Mariano Rivera and then hit a game winning home run atop the Green Monster off Damaso Marte in the 11th. The home run gave the Red Sox a 5-4 win in the first of the three game series.

The Yankees had taken a 4-2 lead in the 7th inning on an RBI single by Mark Teixeira and a sacrifice fly by Robinson Cano, but it was Cano's failure with the bases loaded and no out in the 9th that fans will be talking about today. With a missed opportunity to break the game open, the Yankees relied on Mariano Rivera to get a four out save. Rivera had entered the game in a unique situation in the eighth inning. With a man aboard, two outs, and an 0-1 count onJacoby Ellsbury, Joe Girardi pulled Jonathan Albaladejo from the game in favor of Rivera. Had Girardi made this move after July 1st it might have made sense, but such a move in April wreaked of panic. Rivera allowed a single to Ellsbury before catching Pedroia looking for a called third third strike.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the 9th when Javier Lopez hit Mark Teixeira and walked Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher to start the frame. But Cano's woes with the bases loaded continued (.244 average). With the infield playing in, Cano hit a grounder right to Pedroia, who started a home to first double play. Lopez got out of the jam when he retired Melky Cabrera on a foul pop.

A slumping Ortiz struck out, the third of four on the night, to open the 9th, but Youkilis buzzed Mariano with a head high line drive to center field for a single. J.D. Drew grounded out, but Jason Bay crushed a pitch to center for a game tying 2-run home run. It was the 12th blown save by Rivera in 90 appearances against the Red Sox and the first this year.

The Yankees had chances to take the lead in extra innings, but Teixeira struck out to end the 10th and Cabrera bounced into a double play in the 11th. Damaso Marte struck out 3 of the first 4 batters he faced before Youkilis launched his game winner with one out in the 11th.

Game Notes

Brian Bruney was unavailable due to a sore elbow and will be placed on the DL today. Mark Melancon is expected to replace him. To make room on the 40 man roster, Humberto Sanchez was designated for assignment.

Brian Cashman stated that Chien-Ming Wang's problems are due to an abductor strain in his hip. How convenient. Phil Hughes will most likely start in Wang's place on Tuesday, but for now the Yankees called up reliever David Robertson.

Cody Ransom injured his quad sliding into second base and left the game after he reached third. He was placed on the 60 day DL and Angel Berroa was recalled to take his place on both the 25 and 40 man rosters.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Don't Try to Kick the Yankees Around

Major League Soccer has never drawn fans like major league baseball has, but that didn't stop MLS commissioner Don Garber from criticizing the Yankees.

Randy Levine responded today.

“Don Garber discussing Yankee attendance must be a joke,” Levine said Friday. “We draw more people in a year than his entire league does in a year. If he ever gets Major League Soccer into the same time zone as the Yankees, we might take him seriously.

“Hey Don, worry about Beckham, not the Yankees. Even he wants out of your league,” he said.

Garber actually didn't say much.

“It’s incomprehensible that you watch a game, and there will be front-row seats empty,” Garber said.

He still clarified his remarks after hearing of Levine's diatribe.

“When I mentioned the New York Yankees yesterday, my comments were part of a larger assertion that all businesses—even the most successful sports entities—are experiencing some impact from the economic downturn,” Garber said through a league spokesman.

“The Yankees are one of the world’s strongest sports brands and the context of my comments about a few empty seats at Yankee Stadium was to illustrate the economic challenges we are all facing,” he said.

Cat fight over.

Dr. Phil Good Making his Pitch

Phil Hughes knows what a disappointment 2008 was. Injuries and poor pitching left him winless, DL'ed and back in the minor leagues. But while some were ready to write off the 22-yr old, the Yankees top pitching prospect still had confidence in his abilities. It's paid off so far this season as he awaits a return to the major leagues.

Hughes out pitched veteran major league Freddy Garcia on Wednesday night in the Scranton Yankees 6-1 win over the Buffalo Bisons (Mets). He allowed 1 run and 6 hits over 7.2 innings, walked 1 and struck out 7. In doing so, Hughes raised his record to 3-0.

In 19.1 innings this season, Hughes has allowed just 4 earned runs (1.86 ERA) and given up less than a hit per inning. He's also struck out 19 opponents while walking only 3.

Hughes will be the go to man if Chien-Ming Wang ends up on the DL.

Chad Jennings had this additional info on Hughes' performance:
Phil Hughes (right) struck out seven batters tonight: Two on fastballs, one on a cutter and four on a curveball that was much improved from his previous two outings. Hughes said he's been focused on the curveball during his side sessions, and felt like he got the feel for it heading into this start. It was sharp, and he was willing to throw it in just about any count, including three-ball counts when he needed to drop it for a strike.

“His curveball was outstanding," pitching coach Scott Aldred said. "Command of it was good. Break was good. He used it in good situations. To me he just pitched a much better game. He didn’t just go after guys with his fastball, then use his secondary. He mixed it up real good. No patterns. That was probably the best that I’ve seen him this year.”

Hughes was upset with himself because of the eighth inning. With two outs, he walked Cory Sullivan, then gave up a single to Andy Green on pitch that Hughes said he simply did not execute. He called it a "lack of concentration." All told, though, he was outstanding. He went through four innings -- the fourth through the seventh -- getting every out either on strikes or in the infield. His re-discovered curveball gave him three outstanding pitches, with his fourth pitch, the changeup, still a work in process.

“Trying to develop it," Aldred said. "He threw a few good ones tonight. Others he got on the side of and pushed. As long as he’s throwing it and working on developing it, that’s all we can ask of him right now. It will come. As soon as he gets a good feel for it and enough reps, it will be there.”

Yankees vs. Red Sox - 4/24

Game time is just over 2 hours away up at Fenway Park. Joba Chamberlain against Jon Lester in the first of three in Boston. Here are tonight's lineups:


SS Jeter
LF Damon
1B Teixeira
DH Posada
RF Swisher
2B Cano
C Molina
LF Cabrera
3B Ransom

Red Sox

CF Ellsbury
2B Pedroia
DH Ortiz
1B Youkilis
RF Drew
LF Bay
3B Lowell
C Varitek
SS Green

Yankees and Red Sox ready to rumble

Here's my preview of this weekend's Yankees-Red Sox series for Baseball Digest.

Yankees and Red Sox Ready for Round 1

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox renew their long-time rivalry this weekend with a three game series/battle in Boston. Both teams are on winning streaks entering tonight’s fray. The Yankees pulled out a 14 inning affair with the A’s on Wednesday to run their string of successes to three straight. Meanwhile, the Red Sox swept the Twins in a Wednesday doubleheader to extend their current streak to 7 wins. Both teams enter the series with a 9-6 record, 2 games behind the first place Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East.

The first salvo has already been fired by David Ortiz at Joba Chamberlain, alluding to the right-hander’s “purpose pitches”:

“None of that, man — just play the game the way it’s supposed to be, and that’s about it,” Ortiz said, referring to Chamberlain.

“This is a guy, as good as he is, the next step for him will be to earn respect from everybody in the league. He’s not a bad guy, but when things like that happen, people get the wrong idea.” Source

There’s no question that Chamberlain shouldn’t go head hunting as he has when facing Kevin Youkilis. But Big Papi never seemed to have a problem when Pedro Martinez was sending Alfonso Soriano and Derek Jeter to the hospital for X-Rays, nor when Josh Beckett recently threw over the head of former Yankee Bobby Abreu. Pitching inside is part of the game and it’s time the Yankees did unto others. Translation: Big Papi needs to shut up and play baseball.

But for the most part, the players like and respect each other. Gone are antagonists Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, and Roger Clemens. Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and Jeter bonded during their time playing together for Team USA in February’s World Baseball Classic. The animosity of Yankees and Red Sox fans towards players and towards each other, however, is unparalleled in major league baseball. It has spilled over outside of the ballparks, where name calling, fights and more heinous crimes have taken place as a result of ill feelings between the fans/cities.

The Fenway faithful are sure to be loud and rude this weekend, just as Yankees fans will be when the teams meet at the Stadium on May 4 and 5. They won’t have Alex Rodriguez to boo, but Derek Jeter will be there, and Mark Teixeira will receive his share of hate for not choosing Boston as his free agent home.

Probable Pitchers

Friday (7:05 ET, YES): Joba Chamberlain vs. Jon Lester
Saturday (3:40 ET, FOX): A.J. Burnett vs. Josh Beckett
Sunday (8:00 ET, ESPN): Andy Pettitte vs. Justin Masterson


Boston: The Red Sox lost starting shortstop Julio Lugo to knee surgery during spring training. Replacement Jed Lowrie went down with a wrist injury after just five regular season games and underwent surgery on Tuesday- which will keep him out until the second half of the season. Former Yankee Nick Green has now stepped into the role.

Back up outfielder Rocco Baldelli was placed on the DL after straining a hamstring, and Red Sox’ second ace, Dice-K was put on the DL April 15 with arm fatigue.

Yankees: Other than Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are relatively healthy. Hideki Matsui has his day-to-day knee issues, and the Yankees closely monitor Jorge Posada’s surgically-repaired shoulder.

The Yankees and Red Sox have had many incredible meetings, but here are arguably the 10 most memorable moments in the Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry:

10. 2003 ALCS - Game 3

There was plenty of pre-game hype before the third game of the 2003 ALCS. Fenway Park was ready to rock and roll with a pitching match up of Pedro Martinez vs. Roger Clemens. It was a rematch of Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS, when the Fenway faithful verbally abused Clemens while the Red Sox pounded him into submission by the 3rd inning. The Sox cruised to a 13-1 win. Clemens was more comfortable in his Yankees skin in ‘03, and Martinez was not the ace he had been four years earlier.

The trouble began in the fourth inning. Hideki Matsui had just delivered a go-ahead ground-rule double that scored Jorge Posada and moved Nick Johnson to third base. Leading 3-2, the Yankees looked for more with Karim Garcia at the plate. Garcia had produced an RBI single in the second inning off Martinez. Pedro would have none of it the second time around. He drilled Garcia in the upper back, inciting a near bench clearer between the two teams. Posada and Martinez in particular exchanged unpleasantries. Order was restored, but not for long.

Manny Ramirez took exception to an inside pitch thrown by Clemens in the bottom half of the inning. As the two barked at each other, the benches emptied. There was some pushing and shoving to go along with the trash talking, but not much else. That is… until Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer went after Martinez, who was standing to the side of the fray. Martinez grabbed Zimmer near the ears and tossed him to the ground like a rag doll, further fueling the incident. David Ortiz quickly got his big body between Martinez and the charging Yankees, and order was restored a second time. Zimmer was contrite afterwards and was sent to the hospital for a check up.

When play resumed, Clemens struck out Ramirez and the Yankees went on to a 4-3 victory and a 2-1 advantage in the series.

9. Carlton Fisk Night at the Fights

The 2003 incident was far from being the first time the two teams had mixed it up. Long time rivals Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson were at the center of a fight on August 1, 1973. The two never liked each other and were very competitive as the top two catchers in the American League. Munson was on third base with Gene Michael in the batter’s box and Fisk behind the plate. Manager Ralph Houk put the squeeze sign on and Munson came charging home. Michael missed the bunt, but Munson never stopped and smashed into Fisk, who held on to the baseball for an out.

Fisk shoved Munson back and the Yankees’ captain retaliated with a punch to the face. Soon all players, managers, and coaches were on the field in the middle of a melee. Both catchers were ejected from the game, which the Red Sox won 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning.

There was never any love lost from the Yankees towards Fisk, and on May 20, 1976 the Red Sox catcher was involved in another play-at-the-plate induced fight. Fisk took exception to a hard slide into home by the Yankees’ resident hot head, Lou Piniella. But Red Sox pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee would get the worst of the fight. Tired of his mouthing off, Yankees’ third baseman Graig Nettles picked up Lee and slammed him to the ground. Lee wound up with a separated shoulder and the Red Sox’ division hopes were all but done.

8. Jeter makes like Superman

The Red Sox and Yankees have played a number of highly entertaining games during the regular season and the game played on the night of July 1, 2004 was one of them. Young rookie Brad Halsey had the task of taking on Pedro Martinez in front of 55,000+ at the Stadium. Halsey left in the sixth with a 3-2 lead, but the Yankees pen couldn’t hold it. The game would go on until the 13th inning when, down by a run, the Yankees rallied to win it 5-4 on John Flaherty’s RBI single. But the outcome of the game isn’t what people will remember.

The Red Sox had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs in the 12th inning and Trot Nixon at the plate. Nixon hit a pop up behind third base and Derek Jeter raced over from his position and grabbed it on his back hand. With momentum still carrying him, Jeter dove into the stands, bashing up his face on some seats. He emerged dazed, a bit bloody, and still holding on to the baseball.

7. The House that Ruth Built

The Yankees had played their home games at the Polo Grounds, home of the New York Giants, since 1913. But the Giants’ owners wanted the Yankees out, and the Yankees wanted a place to showcase their star player, Babe Ruth. August 18, 1923 was the day the Yankees finally had a home they could call their own.

60,000 people (originally stated as 74,000), packed the city’s newest architectural phenomenon to see the Bambino face his former team. Yankee Stadium quickly became the “House that Ruth built” when the slugger hit the first home run in the new stadium. The Yankees won 4-1 and went on to win their first World Series in their new home.

6. The Boston Massacre

The summer of 1978 was a miserable one for the Yankees. The season after winning the World Series found the Bombers falling apart as the weather got warmer. A 2-9 stretch in July left the Yankees just five games over .500 and 14.5 games behind the first place Red Sox. A five game winning streak couldn’t help save Billy Martin’s job, and Bob Lemon was soon named the new Yankees skipper. (Dick Howser had a one game interim gig.)

Lemon was the antithesis of Martin; a calm June day compared to an angry April storm. He was just what the doctor- or in this case George Steinbrenner- ordered. The Yankees fought their way back into the race, leading to a showdown in Fenway Park from September 7 to September 10. Just four games separated the two teams.

The Yankees came out throwing haymakers in round one and crushed the Red Sox 15-3. Starter Catfish Hunter had to leave the game after three innings, but Ken Clay may have thrown the game of his life, going the rest of the way for the win.

The second game of the series looked like a mirror image of the first. Reggie Jackson’s 3-run home run in a six run second inning blew the game open early and the Yankees cruised to a 13-2 win. Jim Beattie came within one out of a complete game shutout.

Red Sox fans must have been relieved when game 3 was scoreless after three innings, but the Yankees hammered Dennis Eckersley for seven runs in the fourth inning. Ron Guidry’s incredible season continued with a 2-hit complete game shutout.

The Red Sox looked to rookie Bobby Sprowl to salvage the final game of the series. The Yankees countered with Ed Figueroa, who was having the best season of his career. Sprowl wouldn’t make it out of the first inning. He walked four batters and was charged with three runs in just two-thirds of an inning. The Yankees banged out 18 hits and swept the series with a 7-4 victory.

The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 42-9, outhit them 67-21, and moved into a tie for first place.

5. Dave Righetti’s No-Hitter

David Righetti was having a fine season for the Yankees in 1983 and was disappointed about not being named to the American League All-Star team. 41,077 fans, as well as the birthday boy George Steinbrenner, sat in sweltering heat as Righetti took the mound against the Red Sox on July 4. Disappointment aside, Righetti would pitch the game of his life.

Leading 4-0 in the ninth inning, Righetti walked the leadoff hitter before retiring two straight batters on ground outs. It set up a showdown between Righetti and future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs. Righetti struck out Boggs swinging to complete the no-hitter and exhaustedly collapsed into catcher Butch Wynegar’s arms. With no All-Star game to attend the next day, Righetti headed to Atlantic City with teammate Graig Nettles for some R & R.

4. Joe D.’s Timely Return

Joe DiMaggio had injured his heel during the 1948 season and it kept him out the following year until the last three games in June. He returned for a three game series with the Red Sox in Fenway Park. The Sox trailed the Yankees by five games for the American League lead. It would be eight games by the time the Yankees left town.

DiMaggio looked like he hadn’t missed any time at all. He hit four home runs and drove in nine runs to lead the Yankees to 5-4, 9-7, and 6-3 victories. The wins were crucial as the Yankees would beat Boston out for the pennant by merely one game.

3. Aaron “Bleepin’” Boone

The Yankees were badly in need of a third baseman midway through the 2003 season. So they traded prospects Brandon Claussen and Charlie Manning plus cash to the Cincinnati Reds for Aaron Boone. The returns were decent. 6 home runs and 31 RBI in 54 regular season games. But Boone fell into a 6-31 slump in the post-season. But all of that would change with one swing of the bat.

The Yankees and Red Sox were in the Bronx for the 7th and final game of the 2003 ALCS. Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens were once again matched up. With so much on the line, there would be no repeat of the game 3 antics. The Sox jumped on Clemens early and knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning. Trailing 4-0, the Yankees chipped away as Mike Mussina held the Red Sox in check.

Jason Giambi hit solo home runs off Martinez in the 5th and 7th innings to cut the lead in half. But in the top of the eighth, new pitcher David
was greeted with a seemingly back breaking solo home run off the bat of David Ortiz. The Yankees were down 5-2 with just six outs to go.

Martinez retired the leadoff hitter to start the bottom of the eighth, but Derek Jeter doubled and scored on Bernie Williams’ single to cut the lead to 5-3. With the Red Sox bullpen ready to go, Hideki Matsui ripped a ground-rule double to right to move Williams to third. Manager Grady Little came out and had a conversation that would later be hotly debated. Despite having Alan Embree and Mike Timlin ready in the pen, Little felt Martinez was still his best pitcher. Jorge Posada’s bloop 2-run double to center tied the game and provided months of talk radio fodder for second guessers. Timlin would eventually get Alfonso Soriano to ground out with the bases loaded and push the game into extra innings.

Mariano Rivera made 2 or 3-inning appearances the norm as a set up man back in 1996, but the Yankees tried not to use their closer for much more than five-out saves in 2003. Rivera would go above and beyond in game 7 though, throwing three scoreless innings. The Yankees knew they couldn’t send Mo out there for a fourth inning. A hero was needed. It would only take one pitch.

Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield delivered to Boone, who went from series afterthought to series hero with one swing. The ball landed in the left field seats as Boone trotted towards first base, his arms extended at his sides. The Curse of the Bambino continued.

2. Reverse the Curse

It was hard to imagine, but the Yankees and Red Sox met in 2004 for the second straight year with a World Series trip on the line. But unlike the prior year, this series seemed to be over before it began. The Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 lead in games, with a 19-8 blowout in game 3 that appeared to crush the Red Sox. But not all fairy tales have a happy ending.

The Yankees had a 4-3 lead in the 9th inning of game 4, but Mariano Rivera walked leadoff hitter Kevin Millar. Pinch-runner Dave Roberts quickly stole second and scored the tying run on a Bill Mueller single. The Red Sox would win in 12 on a walkoff 2-run home run by David Ortiz off of Paul Quantrill.

A bad bounce would help the Red Sox win game 5. The Red Sox rallied against Tom Gordon and Rivera in the eighth to tie the game at 4-4. In the 9th with Ruben Sierra aboard, Tony Clark hit a drive to deep center field that could have changed the course of the game. But, Clark’s ball bounced over the outfield fence for a ground-rule double and Sierra had to stop at third. Keith Foulke retired light hitting Miguel Cairo on a pop-up to end the threat.

With the game in the 14th inning, Estaban Loaiza was in for his third inning of work. It was an up and down inning. He struck out Mark Bellhorn, then walked Johnny Damon. He struck out Orlando Cabrera, but walked Manny Ramirez. Despite having walked two in the inning already, perhaps Loaiza should have walked the next batter, too. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Loaiza pitched to David Ortiz, who delivered a game-winning single to center field. The ALCS lead was suddenly 3 games to 2.

Game 6 was back in Yankee Stadium and was the infamous bloody sock (or ketchup, depending on whom you believe) game. Curt Schilling hobbled his way through seven innings and outpitched Jon Lieber in a 4-2 Red Sox win. The series was all tied up with game 7 in NY, just like in 2003. That’s where the similarity ended.

Kevin Brown told Joe Torre he was ready to go in the series finale, but Brown was lying through his teeth. He got pounded and didn’t make it past the second inning. The Red Sox finished off the humiliation with a 10-3 pasting in front of a stunned crowd. They would sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, ending The Curse of the Bambino forever.

1. Bucky “F*ckin’” Dent

The Yankees’ remarkable 1978 comeback wasn’t quite enough to get the job done. A 163rd game had to be played between the Yankees and Red Sox to determine the AL East winner. The Yankees sent ace Ron Guidry to the Fenway mound against Mike Torrez, a hero on the 1977 Yankees. Torrez breezed through the first six innings and the Yankees trailed 2-0 entering the 7th.

Chris Chambliss and Roy White opened the 7th with back-to-back singles. Bucky Dent was due up. The Yankees shortstop was hitting just .243 and had been pinch-hit for many times in big situations. But with no infielders left on the bench, manager Bob Lemon had no choice but to stick with him. Dent nearly caused Lemon to changed his mind when he fouled a ball off his foot and was severely hobbled.

During the time out, on-deck hitter Mickey Rivers noticed a crack in Dent’s bat and gave him one of his own. Destiny was then ready to intervene. Back in the box, Dent swung at Torrez’s next delivery, sending it into the netting along the top of the Green Monster. Left fielder Carl Yastrzemski’s knees buckled and his body slumped against the Monster as he saw his dreams begin to fade.

The Yankees would add to add to their lead with an RBI double by Thurman Munson, and a Reggie Jackson home run in the eighth. Leading 5-2, it was up to Goose Gossage to close it out. But as any Yankee fan old enough to remember knows, Gossage made nothing easy in 1978. He allowed two runs in the eighth, and if not for an incredible play by Lou Piniella, he might have put the Yankees back in a hole.

Up 5-4 in the 9th, Gossage issued a one-out walk to Rick Burleson. Second baseman Jerry Remy lined a pitch to right field that Piniella lost in the sun. He extended his arms out in a defensive/”where’s the ball?” posture and found it at the last moment. It dropped in for a single, but Burleson held up thinking Piniella might catch the ball, and could only advance to second base. Had he gone right off the bat, the Red Sox probably would have tied the score when Jim Rice flied to left field for the second out. Instead, Burleson moved to third and set up a showdown between Gossage and Yaz.

The 39-year-old outfielder couldn’t catch up with a Gossage fastball and popped the ball up near third base. Graig Nettles settled under it and put it away with an on-the-shoulder catch to seal the victory. The Yankees would go on to capture their 22nd World Series title.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Melkman Always Homers Twice

My recap of yesterday's game for Baseball Digest.

The Melkman Always Homers Twice

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 R H E
0 3 1 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 9 1
NY Yankees
0 2 2 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
9 17 1

With apologies to James Cain, Melky Cabrera homered twice Wednesday afternoon, including the game winning 2-run shot in the bottom half of the 14th inning to give the Yankees a 9-7 win. The Melkman’s heroics came against former teammate Dan Giese and saved the Yankees from a possible heart breaking loss in the final game of the six-game homestand. Instead, they head to Boston with a 3-game winning streak.

The Yankees pitching, defense, and offense all contributed to blown leads as well as missed opportunities to take control of the game. Starter CC Sabathia had moments of brilliance interspersed with a lack of command, but retired 10 of 11 A’s before allowing a run in the sixth. The Yankees $161 million man ran out of gas in the seventh inning when Joe Girardi stuck with him too long.

A lead off single by Bobby Crosby was followed by a walk to Ryan Sweeney, the fourth free pass issued by Sabathia on the day. A sac bunt by Orlando Cabrera and an RBI ground out by Jason Giambi cut the Yankees lead to 7-6 and put the tieing run 90 feet away.

With Jonathan Albaladejo and Phil Coke up in the pen, Girardi made a trip to the mound, but left his ace in the game. The Yankees skipper had barely returned to the dugout when Matt Holliday ripped a game tieing single to center field.

The Yankees had a chance to go back ahead in the home half of the seventh when they loaded the bases with no one out. But former Yankee Russ Springer struck out Cabrera and Cody Ransom, and retired Derek Jeter on a pop up to get out of the jam.

The game would remain tied until the 14th when Nick Swisher drew a lead off walk, and one batter later Cabrera hammered a Giese offering into the right-center field seats for his fourth home run of the season.

Game Notes

It was record setting day for Derek Jeter, who became the sixth player in Yankees history to play in 2,000 games. (Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Babe Ruth, and Bernie Williams are the others.) He celebrated with his fourth home run and an RBI double. It’s the fastest Jeter has reached four home runs in 10 years. The Yankees captain also passed Jason Giambi for sole possession of 10th place on the franchise home run list with his 210th.

Jose Veras had his best outing of the season, picking up the win after tossing 3.1 hitless innings. The Yankees bullpen did not allow a run and limited the A’s to three hits over 7.1 innings.

A’s top prospect Brett Anderson started for Oakland and was charged with five runs in 5.1 innings.

The Yankees have Thursday off and then begin a three game series with the Boston Red Sox on Friday. Joba Chamberlain will face off against Jon Lester.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nick Swisher will turn the economy around

Okay, maybe not. But the YES Network reported that Nick Swisher will ring the opening bell Thursday morning at the New York Stock Exchange.

Hopefully, he can ring the Red Sox' bells this weekend.

Yankees look to beat the rain and the A's

The Yankees and Oakland A's are about to get underway in the Bronx. It's just starting to drizzle a bit so hopefully the game will be completed.

CC Sabathia makes his second start in front of the home fans. He'll be opposed by A's top pitching prospect Brett Anderson.

Big win for Andy Pettitte last night. The lefty kept the A's at bay through seven innings with the help of some big defensive plays. Brett Gardner made a spectacular running, leaping catch on a deep drive by Jason Giambi. Mark Teixeira turned a 1st and 3rd, no one out situation into a double play when he fielded a grounder, stepped on first and threw home in one motion.

Mariano Rivera saved a Pettitte win for the 57th time, tieing the major league record set by the A's Dennis Eckersley and Bob Welch.

Johnny Damon celebrated his 2,000th career game with a solo home run into the upper deck in right field. Derek Jeter plays his 2,000th game today.

Today's starting lineups:

CF R. Sweeney
SS O. Cabrera
DH Giambi
LF Holliday
RF Cust
C K. Suzuki
2B Ellis
1B Powell
3B Crosby

SS Jeter
LF Damon
1B Teixeira
C Posada
2B Cano
RF Swisher
DH Matsui
CF M. Cabrera
3B Ransom

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

X-Man Avoids the Knife

Wrote this for Baseball Digest.

Jon Heyman of is reporting that Xavier Nady has a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, but will avoid possible season ending surgery.

The Yankees had Nady undergo several MRI and CT scans to determine the exact cause of pain he began to experience during a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on April 14.

Nady will rehab the elbow for the next several weeks and hopes to return to the Yankees in mid- to late May.