Friday, October 22, 2010

Texas 6, Yankees 1 (Rangers win series 4-2)

In lieu of flowers . . . we turn once again to that noted philosopher Don Baylor: "I hurts more to lose than it feels good to win."

In the end, the Yankees hit a ton of rockets and warning-track shots that were either right at Rangers, just foul, our warning-track outs. The Rangers bloops dropped in, their blips died between the pitcher's mound and third for base hits, their excuse me swings sailed just past infielder's gloves or moved runners over and in. When the blasts came, the cushion was just too great.

In thirty-five years of watching, I've never seen a player come so close to having a great playoff series but instead have a mediocre one than Lance Berkman, rushed into full-time duty when Tex went down. No one could fault A-Rod, one at-em ball after another. Cano was superb; Granderson fine; Gardner turned around an entire game by himself. Swisher was erratic but had his moments, as did Jeter. The only problem was stringing together three-four hits at a time--the symbol of the entire series was Berkman, the Yankees' last best hope, stranded on third in the seventh.

The pitching? Pettitte was good enough to beat anyone but Cliff Lee. CC was erratic but started both victories. Hughes and AJ, three starts between them, were maybe a half-dozen assorted pitches away, total, from three solid performances. Instead they went 0-3.

The entire series was like holding a poker hand with twenty "outs," four diamonds plus an open-ended straight draw. Then: nothing on the turn, nothing on the river, and you're sitting there with ashes in your hand watching a pair of sevens rake the pot.

Sleep in November? I think I'll sleep now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Yankees 7, Rangers 2 (Rangers leads series 3-2)

Teams down 3-1 win Game 5s a lot. The trailing team's ace is coming around for another chance, the team needing only one more win is realzing just a bit, and many times, with the 2-3-2. the leading team is going home.

In the Yankees' case, Cliff Lee awaits for any Game 7, as formidable a Game 7 roadblock as Mike Scott was for the Houston Astros in 1986.

With one difference. Houston, down 3-2 in games, had to beat the Mets in Game 6 to get to Scott, and presumably the pennant. (They didn't, losing 7-6 in 16 innings.) The Yankees have to beat the Rangers just for the privilege of meeting Lee. A whole different dynamic.

Plus Sabathia has looked erratic for three consecutive starts. Plus Tex is gone for the year. Pettitte has been fine; against Lee you have to be nearly perfect. Burnett came within one swing of a tolerably successful start. Hughes had two terrific innings (even with the double-steal) and was lost.

The hitting is strange. Counting his bullet (caught) in Game 2, his foul ball in Game 4, and his screaming, bases-loaded line drive in Game 5 he has come within eighteen inches of eight RBI. The Yankees--in what reminds me of that exasperating series against the Angels in 2002--are hitting rockets that fall two feet short at the wall, are caught with Josh Hamilton going Raymond Berry, are rockets right at Ranger fielders, or are upper-deck jobs that slice a few feet, or a few inches, foul. When A-Rod hit his ground-rule double last night, the first words in every Yankee fans' head was, "Swisher doesn't score from third."

It was if--and this is familiar territory here--that ninth inning of Game 7 in Phoenix signaled that all the good luck, all the close calls the Yankees had enjoyed since 1996 were over. In 2002 it was (among others) Robin Venturas missing a three-run homer by three feet, when the ball hit a portion of the center field fence raised there, but not a bit over; in 2003 it was Alex Gonzalez hitting a home run, coversely over a portion of the fence where, and only where, the upraised barrier had been cut out. And so on. Thought 2009 banished all that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10-3 (3-1)

Ohhhh, AJ, you had me going there. And four outs to Mo.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

texas 7, Yankees 2 (Series tied 1-1)

Or, with Lee in waitiing, as Lupica writes, "Texas leads series, 1-1"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Yankees 6, Rangers 5

What do I say? When, at 5-1 Rangers, in the eighth, Brett Gardner beat out an infield hit by half a step, I said, "Hang on, let's see what happens."

What happened was five Yankee runs.

Roger Angell: "You do not open the door a centimetre to the Yankees, for they will kick it down."

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Yankees 6, Twins 1 (Yanks win series 3-0)

Some anxious moments late (has Kerry Woods acquired Farnsworth's disease?) but really, it was over in the fourth with Thames's home run.

Beyond that:

Nice to see Phil Hughes come into his own, and see all that promise he had that night in Texas three years ago come to fruition.

CC gets eight days' rest, setting him up to pitch game 4 against the Rangers or Rays.

With Thames and Berkman, Girardi just might have a little of Earl Weaver's Terry Crowley/John Lowenstein magic.

In the end, about as well as we could have hoped.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Yankees 5, Twins 2

1. Stupid me me for picking a Thursday night class to teach this semester. Heard the Yankees go ahead 4-2 by text. My class seemed uninterested.

2. Year of the pitcher? In losing two games, the Twins have scored six runs. In the other four games, the loser has scored . . . one run. Total. Three games have been shutouts. Two games have been complete-game shutouts, one the first post-season no-hitter in 54 years.

3. Go even further inside the numbers. A pitcher who allows one hit per inning is doing a splendid job. In six games, the the pitchers on the winning teams--starter to closer--have allowed 24 hits in 54 innings, an average of .44 hits per inning, or less than half of excellent (or, if you prefer, doubly excellent).

4. CC Sabathia allowed four runs. The other five winning starters: three runs total, in thirty-eight innings, for an ERA of 1.40.

5. All this happens in the post-season much less often than anyone might think. The starters for the very first playoff game were two Hall-of-Famers at (obviously) the twin peaks of their powers, Phil Neikro and Tom Seaver. Both were bombed; the final score was 9-5. Atlanta's Hall-of-Fame troika of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz won a single World Series, in 1995, then lost the Series to the Yankees in '96. Thereafter, they failed to win a single playoff series against anyone except their designated patsies, the Astros and Mets. (The only time they even reached the World Series again was in 1999, when they drew the Astros in the NLDS and the Mets in the NLCS, and beat both. Then they were swept by the Yankees in the Series.) Randy Johnson was rented in 1998 to bring the 'Stros to the World Series: he went 10-1 for Houston in the regular season and was 0-2 in the NLDS. Roger Clemens, during his best years, was either nothing special (1986, 1988, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007), worn down (1990), or a disaster (1999) in the post-season--every year but 2001. And maybe we have a few ideas about that. Nolan Ryan went 500 starts without surrendering a three-run lead . . . right up to the deciding game of the 1980 NLCS, when the Phils took him over. And speaking of the Phils, Steve Carlton constantly put the Phillies in the playoff hole from the late seventies into the eighties: first the Reds and Dodgers, then the Astros. That's eight Hall-of-Famers, plus Clemens.

And? Kerry Wood looks like the real deal, at least for now (Jay Witasik? Mark Wohlers? Jared Weaver's older brother? Scott Proctor and Flash Gordon were worked into the ground by Torre; they get a pass). Nice to see Puma step up: 2-for-4, double, homer, two runs, two RBI. And if we can dispense with the notion that Tex hates cold weather, what explains his Aprils, which (at this rate) may keep him off the Hall-of-Fame short list?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Well, that was an interesting evening

Back home just in time, apparently. First post-season no-hitter in 54 years was thrown in what was clearly the second-best game of the day.

Tghe later game didn't start that way--not with Francisco Liriano very nearly putting the Minnesota fans to sleep, so routinely did he work through the Yankees.

Certainly things were different, with a lead that was lost, reversed, then lost again with Tex's moonshot.

Ugh, I'm going to bed.

6-4 Yankees, 1-0 in the Series.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jays 8, Yankees 0

Nothing much tonight, except, with Cito Gaston's retirement, it is interesting to note that the two skippers tonight have as many World Series rings as Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and Whitey Herzog combined. Three.

Now, a plane to catch and some down time as I rest myself for the playoffs.

Half-game back.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Yankees 6, Jays 1--clinch playoff spot

So, CC breaks out of the doldrums, Yankees have a week to rest, and no way Girardi puts them through the meatgrinder of attempting to squeeze out a divisional championship. (Such a rush to home-field advantage might have cost Joe Torre a ring: 2002, when they fended off the A's at the end and were gassed--I'm thinking Mussian and Soriano especially--against the Angels.)

SDJ says AJ for Game Four. Mo and Jeter need rest, the 6-7-8 inning bullpen (Wood aside) is reminding me of Proctor/Gordon circa 2004, and the overall funk the team has been in since winning the first two against Tampa needs to turn around.

One time--once--did I see a Yankee team in this sort of funk go all the way: 2000, when the team struggled past Oakland, got hot starting inning seven of game two against Seattle, then raced by a Mets team that, with few exceptions (see Leiter, Al) played all five games at half speed.

The Yankees that year won 87 games. Four managers who won 84, 85, or 86 games that season were fired. Don't count the Yankees out but, time to flip the switch, boys.

Two nights, a tie, and oh, AJ

To admit very quickly: When the Red Sox went ahead in the ninth Sunday night, I turned off the TV and went to bed. Couldn't take it. Had my heart ripped out for sure.

Woke up, a new day. Felt that stabbinjg sound you feel when you've missed something . . . like a blown Papelbon save in the ninth and a walk-off walk in the tenth.

Okay. Tied for Wild Card, at best.

Then . . 7-0 before I arrived home. If AJ wasn't getting all that money, if Vazquez or Novo were lighting it up, if Pettitte hadn't had that one bad start on Friday . . . would Burnett even be on the post-season roster?

1/2 back, magic number 1.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Red Sox 7, Yankees 3

IBID, for details, see previous day's game.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Red Sox 10, Yanks 8

Despite six homers, yes, and without a sharp CC and Pettitte, forget it.

Joel Sherman wrote: yes, CC lost Game 1 of the World Series to Cliff Lee. Then AJ was the stopper in game two. Bets on that happening again?

Now it doesn't matter, division or Wild Card--one could take the Twins, with no baseball-colored ceiling and no Cy Young-type starter. Win the division and, hello, CC vs. Lee.

Get by Minnesota, get by the Rangers, Tampa will be waiting.

And then?

The Series? The Phillies are coming, hard. I feel it. CC vs. Halladay? Pettitte vs. Oswalt? With Games 1 and 2 at Phillie, in front of 42,000 screaming freaks?

From the time the Yanks went up 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS to the time they acquired CC, AJ, Tex and Swisher, the Yankees' playoff record was 3-12. If they don't figure it out, this year will be the start of a long, bad road. If they bomb in the playoffs, Girardi is off to Wrigley, Mattingly is locked in at Chavez Ravine, and . . . what? Back up the Brink's Truck to coax Sweet Lou out of retirement? Offer sweet millions to Detroit for Jim Leyland?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blue Jays 10, Yankees 3

Face it: that forty-foot swinging, blooping, rolling dinky little whatever-it-was in the sixth was the game right there.

Otherwise: IBID, see details of previous night's game.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yanks take first two

What a night--last night--for my browser to go on the fritz.

I was thinking of Thomas Boswell, who during the majesterial 1986 post-season started one story with "In the greatest game ever played . . . unless you count the one last night . . ."

Tonight: In the most important game of the season, unless you count last night's . . .

How many times have we thought this? Ten times? Twelve?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Orioles 4, Yankees 3 (11)

Okay, I'm actually happier the Yankees lost 4-3 than if they had won 17-15, with Pettitte in street clothes after three innings.

Pettitte had to establish himself as the number two starter. Period. Hughes is number three.

Such a bad loss. But it will happen, even with Mo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Yankees 11, Orioles 3

So again: good ol', fat ol' CC. Not, strictly speaking, ending a losing streak, just a nice, boring game that--tonight anyway--gave us a peek at the Scranton All-Stars in the late innings.

And CC's 20th. Making it 39 wins in two seasons. Plus last year's ALCS MVP. How's that Steinbrenner money looking now?

One of the totally cool things in baseball is how a team, its playoff position already slotted, will send out its starting eight, and gear up its full bullpen, in order to help a pitcher attain a twentieth win or a career landmark late in the season: 200 wins, 250, 300. Such was the case when Jorgie squatted down on aching knees last September to help CC achieve number 20. CC lost, and ended up stuck on 19, but the gesture was not lost.

And now . . . just saw the Rays pull it out in the tenth. One-half game up. This next week should be interesting.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Yankees 4, Orioles 3

"Game of the year?"

Yes.

"Should not have come down to that?"

Yes. Had A-Rod whiffed or been called out on that 1-2 pitch, the Yankees would have scored a single run on eight hits, plus Cano's dash to first on a third strike, plus four walks.

Showalter aside, these are the Orioles. I had no idea Kevin Millwood was, as they say, still in the leaque. I had a vague recollection of Millwood as one of the series of pitchers the Atlanta Braves kept hoping would be the fourth piece in the Cy Young/Hall-of-Fame Maddux-Smoltz-Glavine puzzle, the team always one pitcher away from the five World Series rings Ted Turner paid for. (Come on down, Steve Avery, Kent Mercker, Denny Neagle . . .) Then a few years later Millwood suffered the career death of all mediocre pitchers: a multi-year contract with Texas. (Come on down, Chan Ho Park . . . oh, never mind).

The Orioles start two Houston Astro cast-offs. The Orioles are a team who consider Ty Wigginton (batting .252 at first base) an All-Star. The Orioles are a team who used to sell out, in March, a Tuesday-afternoon August 1 pm game versus the Royals, and now have so many available seats for a Friday night Yankee game that, close your eyes and listen to the cheers, it is sometimes impossible to identify the home team, so numerous are the Yankee fans driving and flying and Amtraking south for the weekend.

The Orioles . . . are a team the Yankees should beat.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rays 4, Yanks 3

Yankees: Time for a MacArthur-like retreat, a retrenchment to Australia, a resting of the bullpen and regulars, as they await their inevitable road trip to Minneapolis or Arlington?

The Rays have the easiest final week of any team in baseball: the last place teams of each American League division. If the Rays were allowed to pick their opponents for the last ten games of the season, they would pick the Mariners, Orioles and Royals.

The Yankees will spend the final weekend of the season in a royally pissed-off Fenway, where one must assume Francona will have Buckholz, Lester and Lackey fit and rested to start, plus Bard and Papelbon in the bullpen. Enjoy, fellows. Five losses in six games, four by one run.

Yankees 8, Rays 7 (10)

Is it possible to be exasperated by such a thrilling victory?

Yes.

The last five days have demonstrated, almost beyond any doubt, that there will be no 28th championship this year unless Andy Pettitte returns to his first-half form by the post-season.

So desperate is the Yankees' 2-4 starter situation that even a hale and hearty Pettitte simply shoves the Yankees' number one problem back a day, to spot number three.

A 6-0 lead that goes poof Extra innings despite outhitting your opponents by a ton. A victory preserved just because Carl Crawford suddenly grew roller skates and contracted brain freeze on the basepaths (don't look for that again), and is thrown out to end the game by a rookie who will be watching the playoffs on his sofa--or, at best, in uniform but inactive.

Does Swisher make that throw? Does Kearns?

What Girardi has done the past three days has been a modified limited hang-out, running his relievers in on alternating days to keep everyone fresh for October. And if the Yankees have to go on the road to Arlington (where they just played so well, ho ho), so be it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rays 1, Yankees 0 (11)

Just crawled out from under the coffee table, thanks.

8 shutout innings from CC torn up and burned.

Another brutalization of the bullpen.

Another walk-off dinger.

My fantasy team did okay, though.

Tonight

Quite simply the biggest non-playoff game of CC's Yankee career. Must win two of three to stay in first--and the Yankee staff, worn down by so many close shaves (so many losing close shaves) need a good seven or eight from the big guy.

Nine would be nice.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rangers 4, Yankees 1

Of course. Rays lose, though. One-half game.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rangers 7, Yankees 6

Rivera, obviously laboring in the ninth. Otherwise, I don't want to talk about it.

Rays in a rout. One-half game.

AUUUUUUGH

Right before Astro-Girl went to be I said, "This is the sort of game I'll blow a whole night watching, and then it'll end with one with in the bottom of the eighteenth."

I was a few innings off--Texas 6, New York 5, 1 1/2 games.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Damn

Of course I missed Swisher's walk-off last night.

2 1/2, and here come the Rays.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Orioles 6, Yankees 2

Ech. Can't go to the CC well every time.

Rays romp in Fenway. Game-and-a-half.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Orioles 4, Yankees 3

I was all set to write about Tex's brains and hustle--thinking seriously about a ball lost in the Sun, then scoring standing to tie the game at three--when AJ was AJ yet again.

On a day the Rays were thumped.

2 1/2 that ought to be 3 1/2--a big lead, on Labor Day--and you guys oughta be ashamed.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Jays 7, Yankees 3

Always a blah game that ends a winning streak. Get well, Andy.

Rays drop to the Orioles. 2 1/2.

Yankees 7, Tampa 5

I have a feeling they'll need Thames before it's over. Two-run homer to win it in the back of the bullpen.

But this seemed from the start a game the Yankees would win, somehow.

Rays lose, back 2 1/2. Red Sox swept in a hurrican doubleheader. Out of it.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Yankees 7, Jays 3

A week or so ago it was, "Crap, the team is stuck in the mud and here come the Rays."

As of tonight: "Crap, seven wins in a row and they can't shake the Rays."

Seven in a row, in the August/September bridge; one up in the all-important loss column; can't lose those bums.

In the 35 years I've watched baseball, a team from the AL East has won the World Series 13 times (including the '84 Tigers, who moved to the new Central Division ten years later). Of those 13, at least six times a reasonable argument could be made that the two best teams in baseball were from that one division: 1977, 1978, 1983, 1984, 1999, 2004. Each year featured, for the eventual World Series champion, its hardest test against an AL East division rival in a pennant race, playoff, or both; or else, in 1984, a runaway year for the Tigers, second place for Toronto by default.

In one year, 1977, the division probably featured the three best teams in baseball: the Yankees (eventual champions), Red Sox and Orioles combined for 294 wins, a number which would have been 295 except for the last day of the season, when a suddenly (as of the previous afternoon) meaningless Boston-Baltimore game was rained out. The Royals did come within three outs of beating the Yankees in the ALCS, but that was primarily because the Yankees' pitching staff, depleted by so many September cliffhangers, was essentially reduced to three effective pitchers (not three effective starters, three effective pitchers, total): Guidry, Torrez, and Lyle. It was not for nothing that Billy Martin called on his putative closer, Lyle, to nail down the final 15 outs of Game 4 in KC, then pull him back in to be the winning pitcher in the clincher (best-of-five) the following night.

Further, two other years, 1987 (Tigers-Blue Jays, regular season division) and 2003 (Yankees-Red Sox, ALCS), came down to a single run in a winner-advances-loser-goes-home game (both games decided by a solo home run, incidentally: first Larry Herndon and then Aaron Boone); after which the winners, their teams exhausted and pitching staffs depleted, went on to lose to a markedly inferior opponent.

So: nearly one-third of the time, an AL East contender's greatest real challenge has come within its own division. Which seems to be the case here.

One bright note: the Red Sox seem gone. Which, realistically means that without a '64 Phillie-type collapse, we can say the playoffs seem certain.

So: Tex and Granderson are rounding into form, Cano seems over his post-All Star mini-hiccup, the subs (Nunez and Kearns) are performing well enough to spell A-Rod and Swisher.

Which leaves? Jeter's bat, Pettitte's groin. Pettitte's groin equals the make-up of the entire rotation, save CC.

One Post writer earlier this week summed up the situation: Burnett's problems are holding runners, pitching with men on, and responding to crises--three things Pettitte conspicuously excels at.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Yankees 5, A's 0

Cy Cy Sabathia?

Game and a half.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Yankees 4, A's 3

Lesson 234 on Jeter's value.

Fourth inning, 1-0, two outs, runners first and third. Jeter hits what seems to be a routine one-hopper to first. Yawn: first flips to pitcher or takes it himself, inning over.

It is only because Jeter was sprinting from contact that the throw was hurried, the ball was dropped. Jeter waved his arms wide to signal to Granderson at third; Granderson scored. 2-0.

Then, Swisher walks. Then, Tex, the hottest Yankee hitter, forces a seeing-eye hit in the 5.5 hole almost by sheer will, past third, then short. Two more runs. 4-0, a margin not even Burnett, with his usual thrills and chills, could mess up.

Different position, but Jeter always reminds me of George Brett, the Royal third baseman who killed the Yankees for 15 years to the point of Yankee fan admiration, and who said he didn't want to hit a home run in his last at bat:

"I want to come up in a meaningless game. I want to hit a two-hopper to the shortstop. Then I want to sprint down the line and be thrown out by one step. And I want some father in the stands to turn to his ten year-old son and say, 'You see that? That's how you play the game.'"

Brett's notion would be as corny as Kansas in August, were it not so true for him. And for Jeter. Granderson played his ass off, Tex kept up his smoking pace, Burnett didn't entirely crumble and the bullpen was solid. But you know the difference in the game? Jeter, hustling down the line, forcing the the throw, the error, the three unearned runs.

Just for nothing:

Checked Tex's numbers for Monday and Tuesday:

5 for 6, 4 RBI, 5 runs scored, 2 homers.

Lupica was right: had Texiera even come in at the lowest part of average the first ten weeks of the season, he'd be past 40 homers and up around .300 by now . . . in other words, a typical top-ten MVP-style season.

Yankees 9, A's 3

Very nice--some power stuff to look at but . . . more importantly, as the Rays lose, one up.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yanks 11-5

Out comes the lumber. And here come the Rays. Ties again.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Yankees 2, White Sox 1

A good way to finisha road trip, some ups and some downs:

1. The kid Nova--can we think he may be the real thing, now with two starts that should have been two wins?

2. Nice effort by essentially half the JV on the field. Nova and Nunez were in for injured veterans. Cervelli caught for what I assume was a scheduled Posada rest. Thames was in for Swisher, and Swisher is essentially Behind Tex and Puma) the third-string (read emergency) first baseman.

3. Jeter is officially mired in The Worst Season of His Career, and at contract time no less. That will be one interesting negotiation.

4. What Kat and Singleton said about Joba is true: not only was he partying like it was 2007, he seemed possessed of his old confidence.

Now--right now--I am having to, in every sense of the phrase, remind myself to root for the Red Sox.

5. Oh,was watching The Joe Girardi Show after the game when the manager went down the list of his injured players. Everybody wants to know about Lefty, of course--what would the Yankees post-season rotation look like starting tomorrow? CC, okay. Hughes was just routed, but he'd go second, I guess. Pettitte is hurt. Moseley and Nova are in diapers. Vazquez is up and down. The last time Burnett won, no one had heard of the "Ground Zero Mosque."

CC and Hughes and two days of . . . what rhymes with "Hughes"?

But what was truly hysterical was watching Girardi talk about Berkman, about how Berkman's about to come off the DL August 31st, and they might activate him then or "wait until September first, when the rosters expand." Two years ago, Lance Berkman was on serious Hall-of-Fame watch. In 2003 Jimy Williams bunched Berkman, Jeff Kent and Jeff Bagwell together in the Astros' batting order in what her termed the "MVP Core" of the line-up--the reason being that Bagwell and Kent already had their trophies, and Berkman's was just a matter of time. Now Berkman and some 23 year-old lighting it up in Scranton will serve as September roster additions.

AAAAnnnnnnd . . . the Red Sox lose. Back to tied, though the season is becoming more and more about hosting Minnesota vs. traveling to Arlington.

Yankees 12, White Sox 9

Sloppy, but we'll take it. No choice, what with the immortal Dan Johnson walking off vs. the Red Sox. Dan Johnson? Off Scott Atchison?

Lupica, today:

The Yankees were 13-14 over a month of baseball that ended with Friday night's sparkling performance against the White Sox, and when you play that kind of dreary baseball over this long a period, you get people wondering if you're still the $200 million odds-on favorite to repeat.

Over the last two months, here are the two teams from which our kids have won series:

Mariners. Tigers.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

White Sox 9, Yankees 4

Thank God for the Red Sox, beating the Rays. Still tied.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 3

Another blah loss to the effing Jays. An opportunity missed, as Tampa was blown out.

I was right. It's 1980 again, with only the prospect of the Wild Card to take the edge off the tension.

Tied.

Yankees 11, Blue Jays 5

Five home runs will help. Wish Moseley looked a bit more confident out there with a ten-run lead.

Tied, I assume. Rays were by five in the ninth when I went to bed.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday, Monday

Last night CC and Robbie put themselves on serious, serious Cy Young and MVP watch.

Tonight, another nice start by and up-and-comer ruined by a Blue Jay nibbler.

Rays leading in the ninth.

Back to a tie, if everything holds.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Yankees 9, Mariners 5

We couple a game the Yankees should have lost but didn't . . . with a game the Rays should have lost but didn't.

The real charmer was Tampa. I just looked up the name of the A's losing pitcher; it took me 20 seconds to forget his name, which is just as well, considering the game-losing homer he served up to Craig Suzuki climbed halfway to Al Davis Pavilion, the portion of the football seating that is tarped over to give what used to be called Oakland-Alameda Coliseum the illusion of a crowd.

A few years ago, in response to Deadspin's continuing series "Your Ballpark Sucks!", some A's fans wrote in and complained that the tarping had closed off the best feature of the ballpark: namely, the ability to sit in solitude, surrounded by acres of empty bleachers on a weekday afternoon, and spot an advancing usher from hundreds of yards away, plenty of time to snuff out the joint one's group was sharing.

Two thoughts:

1. When I was in high school, we did the same thing with our beer a few hundred yards up Squaw Peak on a Friday night, as any police car could be spotted from at least a mile away; and

2. If you lived in Oakland, how would you make it through the season?

One game up.

Mariners 6, Yankees 0

Felix Hernandez. No chance to jump out of the way; you just have to stand there and let it hit you.

I was fast asleep by the time the dead, departed A's came up with two in the eighth to edge the Rays. One up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Yankees 11, Tigers 5

Bats are officially alive.

My favorite? Jorgie lacing that line drive to right-center, on a 3-0 fastball, to drive in a run and make it--what seemed definitive at the time--4-2 Yankees.

Then the replay, on some fantastic YES camerawork. If Cervelli sticks, Posada might have another six years ahead of him.

Breaks into the bullpen, and seven more runs.

And, courtesy of late-night MLB.com, some late-inning heroics in Oakland. A's 4, Rays 3.

One game to the good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Yankees 9, Tigers 5

Just a nice, satisfying win. Are the bats waking up?

Moseley has been about as good as expected.

Rays sweep Rangers. Tied another day.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Yankees 6, Tigers 2

Good ol', fat ol' CC. And we needed him; Rays in a rout. Tied.

Tigers 3, Yankees 1

To get beat--okay. To blow a game another team is desperate to hand to you.

Bases loaded, 3-1, one out, ninth inning. Jeter up. Valverde not coming within a foot of the plate.

"Only a double play right here beats us," I said. Out loud.

Bounce, bounce to short.

Rays win. Tied.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Royals 1, Yankees 0

AJ Burnett has become, in miniature, every baseball team's definition of a slump. One day, his team scores 7 runs, he gets knocked out and loses. Yesterday, he allows a single run--in the first inning, no less--and his team is shut out, and he loses.

Saw this one via Minute Maid, where a friend came through with tickets so glorious that Astro-Girl and I were the hole in a donut of scouts seated behind home plate. Saw, in essence, the next five years of the Astros--no-names like Wallace, Keppinger, Sanchez, Johnson, Castro (the infield and the catcher--watch these names)--beat up on the Pirates and our old Yankee friend Karstens.

One comic relief from watching one zero after another flipped over in the NYY score line was the re-emergence of new Pirate Chan Ho Park, who came in in the eighth to mop up.

Park started the inning with a slider.

Chris Johnson deposited it in the Crawford Boxes, 340 feet away.

Thanks for coming, Ho.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Yankees 8, Royals 3

Had 'em all the way.

With A-Rod's three dingers (now up to 97 RBI) and Hughes's 14th win, I'm starting to think of precisely thirty years ago pretty much this week and next, when I was fifteen instead of forty-five and my family spent its two weeks in Seal Beach California in a house without a TV. Too young for bars, too broke for restaurants with TVs, I spent many evenings wandering the inland suburban streets, swinging my portable radio as I waited for some word--any word--of the two-team race the AL East had become. Coming out of the 1979 death of Thurman Munson overshadowing the team's collapse, the Yankees, with George Steinbrenner's seemingly endless pot of money, had re-stocked and then re-re-stocked the team against any and all comers, paying big money for Ruppert Jones in centerfield and Oscar Gamble in left to go with Reggie in right, plus Piniella for corner outfield/DH, plus holdovers Bobby Murcer and Roy White off the bench. In the infield, Bob Watson would shore up first base. Eric Solderholm would spell Nettles at third and provide right-handed pop. Finally, Rick Cerone--whom the Yankees would probably have dickered for anyway, after 1979, to ease into Munson's spot as Munson eased toward retirement--would catch.

For a team that won 103 games, it was a wonder how much of a disaster the season nearly was. By the end, Jones and Gamble were long gone due to season-ending injuries, Solderholm was a wreck under the Boss's harangues (see: Ed Whitson, Steve Trout, Steve Kemp, et al), Murcer and White and Ed Figueroa and Luis Tiant were clearly near the end, and Nettles suffered the only extended injury of his career, from the middle of August nearly to the end of the season. What sustained the Yankees were Reggie (his best season as a Yankee, 41 homers, MVP runner-up); Cerone (7th place for MVP); the steady infield play of Willie Randolph, Bucky Dent and Watson; the pitching of Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Goose Gossage and the notoriously underrated Rudy May; and two afterthoughts in the outfield, Joe LaFevre and Bobby Brown, who filled in admirably for Gamble and Jones right up until the playoffs, when the peaking-at-the-right-moment Royals finally got to them, the fourth time the charm.

But what I remember tonight are the Baltimore Orioles, who entered a weekend-and-weekend home-and-home series with the Yankees thirty years ago 7 1/2 games back. I can't keep all the math straight in my head, but these things I know for sure. The Orioles played the Yankees eight games over two weekends and won six of them. Because of what went on with them and other teams right around this time, the long and the short of it was that, coming out of that series, New York stayed exactly one-half game in front of Baltimore.

For seven days in a row.

And there I was, prowling the streets of Seal Beach, California, listening to my radio, maybe hearing the Oriole score first and hoping to pull ahead or please, please, stay the same . . . or else hearing the Yankee score first and thinking, Please, Baltimore, fall behind or please, please, stay the same.

This is sports.

Two games up, and yes there is such thing as the Wild Card. Anyone here want to visit Dallas in October?

Royals 4, Yankees 3

What, it's over already? Anything to prevent the cash-starved Royals from honoring rain checks.

Rays fall to Bal'mer.

2 games up.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yankees 4, Royals 3

A 3-0 lead on KC? You'd better. 2 full games.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Yankees 7, Rangers 6

More exciting than the actual comeback was Mo's deathstare at this fellow Elvis at third(Want a piece of me, bitch?) following Josh Hamilton's one-out comebacker. Vlad's tough groundout was merely the QED.

A no-out triple dies at third. Vintage Mo, preserving the save. And about ten years from now, five or six wiseasses are going to vote to keep him from a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame induction. I hate everything.

Rays lose. 1 1/2 games up.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

GHRRRRRRRRRRR Rangers 4, Yankees 3 (10)

Always . . . that first single Mo gives up in a tie game.

The game ended right there.

Monday, August 09, 2010

ARRRRRRRRRGH 2-1 Sox

You knew it, right? When Thames's ball hit the point on the stoop and bounced back, suddenly how beautifully the entire inning played into the Red Sox's hands came into vision.

Biggest out of the inning, and hence the game, was the strikeout of Nick Swisher to end the inning. Next batter, next inning, Tex hits ball to Yonkers . . . with the bases empty. And that was it. A little noise eighth and ninth, but Thames did it, in a game when you say: Just please let us play this one over, we'll do better, promise.

Tampa cruises against Detroit. 1 1/2 games up.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Oh and

2 1/2 games to the good. But a damn wraparound (ie the killer of all 2-1 series leads) game tomorrow.

Yankees 7, Red Sox 2

So . . . AJ is hurt, and Dustin Moseley subs, in a performance reminiscent of Linus coming in for poor Charlie Brown and impressing the Little Red-Haired Girl.

Berkman, three hits--two doubles--vs. Beckett. 5 for 25--at the Mendoza line, precisely--then a late-inning strikeout. O well.

Not for nothing, but when Berkman came up in the fifth, the Red Sox put the shift on, moving the third-baseman to the shortstop position. Is Berkman unknown in this league? Neither the Cardinals nor Cubs have played Berkman that way for six years. Play that way against Berkman with a righty pitcher, he'll slice singles and doubles to left and hit .330 lefty. Get a fastball up, goodbye.

Jays 1, Rays 0

. . . in which Toronto's kid righties, Brandon Morrow, comes to within one out of the 17th no-hitter of the season, only to face Evan Longoria . . .

. . . only to give up dibbler between first and second to Longoria, thus moving the tying run (a walk) to third . . .

. . . and bring up a fellow kid, Craig Johnson . . .

. . . who strikes out. One-nil.

Two games up, heading into tonite.

AJ, please.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Yankees 5, Red Sox 2

Stuck with the Rangers on FOX, I drove around all afternoon, alternating between errands, jogging and lunch. Pulled into a lot next to a park with a slice and a beer for innings 8 and 9. Old fashiony.

And the Rays lost. And we go to prime time tomorrow, facing the question: who will distress us more, Joe Morgan or AJ Burnett?

1 1/2 up.

Friday, August 06, 2010

.5, part deaux

Damn that Ortiz. Well, the Rays lose too.

Sawx/Yanks

Now it begins . . . out with the in-laws tonight, and damn yes I'll be excusing myself to see if the bar TV has ESPN cum ticker.

Blackberry, check.

Now Vazquez: you are essentially pitching in Cliff Lee's spot. But don't let that worry you.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

.5

Thank you, Twins--I pump you up all summer and you nearly blow it.

Anyway, what's done is done. 8-6, with the Yankees off. On to the weekend.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 1

Back to a tie, with the Rays' late-inning loss to the Twins--the team I've been looking at since May, scoring too many runs and giving up too few not to make a run at things.

A-Rod--between the inevitability and the steropids, both--reaching what is probably the most boring milestone in history.

Phil Hughes, in the actually exciting story of the night, sailing through Toronto for his 13th win.

Reminds me of Yaz's 3000th in Fenway vs. the Yankees--a dreary little moment following a terrible 0-for-12, a moment in a game strangely overshadowed but a sweet little instance. 1979, two teams going nowhere--the Orioles had run away with the East by early June, no Wild Card in those days--and Catfish Hunter, following up his 1978 Comeback Player of the Year/Winner, Final Game of World Series, was on his way to (as everyone knew) to winding down his career. Early in the game, thumped again on his way to 2-9 for the season, he had departed, and the Fenway fans, seeing this enemy of a half-decade depart for the last time, starting a clapping that grew to a crescendo, then a standing ovation, then finally a curtain call. This was something--in the words of Roger Angell, "A moment instead of a Moment."

Thought about that tonight.

Oh, and after a full week of the most favorable batting situations on the face of the earth, Lance Berkman is batting .133.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Yankees fall to second

Rays win, Yankees . . . get nowhere after two first-inning runs. I come back from vacation to this.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Rays 3, Yankees 0

Hurts less when you've been playing resort-style golf all day, but still:

Biggest series of the year so far. 7 runs in 27 innings will not get it done, boys, and I don't care if Cashman trades for Walter Johnson and Sandy Koufax, both, and in their primes.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Yankees 11, Cleveland 4

. . . with the kid, Hughes, holding down a 2-0 lead in the sixth.

And maybe Berkman on the way.

In Blackjack, this would be a double-down moment.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yankees 8, Indians 0

A walk in the sopping-wet park for AJ, but the Rays come back against the Tigers. Still two games.

Indians 4, Yankees 1

Like getting nibbled to death by a suck. CC gave up a little here, a little there, some pitcher in diapers--how often does this happen?--stifled the boys.

Rays win, and New York goes to 2 up over Tampa, 7 over Boston.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yankees 3, Indians 2

Cleveland, always tough. Nice to see Vazquez picking up the slack; with Lee and Haren now spoken for, whom shall our nation turn its lonely eyes to? Lilly? Ugh.

Oswalt is too pricey and just not the right fit.

Swisher has gone from team mascot to indispensible piece. Tex, still gaining speed. And Lord, what a terrible call in the fourth.

I've always defended major-league umpires, with very few exceptions (come on down, CV Buckner, Angel Hernandez, Joe West, Gary "they've come to watch me throw out superstars" Darling, and let us never forget Eric "Strike Zone As Wide As My Ass" Gregg), are the best in professional sports. Going back to the end of last season, these heirs to Jocko Conlan, Steve Palermo and Doug Harvey have done everything to prove me wrong.

Rays win. Three up.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yankees 12, Royals 6

Okay, no sweep: three out of four. Phil Hughes goes to 12 wins. 3 up on Tampa.

Royals 7, Yankees 4

And we get to spend the next month going, "This is Lefty's spot."

Friday, July 23, 2010

Yankees 7, Royals 1

Sun Devil Joe writes, "They should sweep this." As they should.

Best news of the day? AJ, of course, and I don't care if it was the Royals. As they showed Thursday, whatever they can't do (yielding 17 runs in 16 innings?), the Royals do have some guys who can hit.

Rays lose. 4 full games up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Yankees 10, Royals 4

From a few weeks before: these messy games are the ones the Yankees have to win. However they got there, a two-run lead late, over the Royals, with CC on the mound--yeah, gotta close these ones out.

PLay of the game was neither A-Rod's homer nor Swisher breaking it open, but earlier--with Posada having thrown the ball away down third and inches from hitting the Daily Double, Texeira leapin as high as Tex can leap, to save maybe two runs.

The Royals tie, who knows. But Tex brought the ball down and made the play.

Three games up.

Watch Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Angels 10, Yankees 5

Standing in a room away from the TV, heard Kay shout, "Home run, Matsui!", cheered up, and then went, "Oh."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two starts, two injured lefties

Oh, Andy. Oh, no.

But did I mention that Dave Robertson will have as much time as he needs to warm up?

The Yankees came out of the break facing 23 games against the Red Sox and Rays. Two slots available for the three teams.

Twenty games to go, with the Yankees money ahead.

As for AJ: when you have a temper tantrum, you punch the wall with your glove hand. Though right now, who would know the difference?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yanks 5, Rays 4

Nick Swisher: ties it in the eighth with a homer, wins it it in the ninth with a two-out single.

This is what Reggie used to do, and Munson, and O'Neill and Bernie. Before them, Mickey and Yogi and Joe D, Tommy "Old Reliable" Henrich and "King Kong" Keller, and Johnny Mize and Country Slaughter, the two late-season pick-ups that would serve as the twin protoypes of a couple of dozen moves by The Boss, David Cone and Cory Lidle and all the rest. This is what Ruth and Gehrig did, what Jeter still does.

Remember Swisher was brought in last year to be no more than a fourth outfielder, to hit and run behind Xavier Nady in right and Damon in left.

Now he's not only an All-Star on the reigning World Champions; with Girardi managing like a point guard feeding the hot hand, he's batting third.

One thing that was overlooked by a lot of people in remembering George Steinbrenner--overlooked by most everyone except, significantly, Derek Jeter--was that The Boss was forever foremost a football man. Lose three baseball games in a row, you order a double. Lose three football games in a row, you slash your wrists. Steinbrenner was upset when the Yankees lost exhibition games--remember that?--and a three-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox or Orioles would send him flying into a rage.

Just by way of saying: the greatest compliment Steinbrenner could pay a baseball player was to say, "I'd love to have him on a football field." Rafael Santana comes to mind.

Nick Swisher was a football player, recruited by Notre Dame to play free safety.

Allow me to state, as a USC Trojan For Life, I'm glad Nick Swisher chose baseball.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Boss

Wow. Stunner. And he died with his team as reigning champs, and in first place.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Yankees 8, Marlins 2

Oh, what a lovely game.

Reminded me how often Mussina would seem to pitch on a Sunday afternoon, with the sun so intense you could count the stitching on his cap.

Tex, Jeter, Swish, Cano--all stock up.

Plus with Tex, the ball lost in the sun, and his resultant double, meant more than any resulting scoring.

It meant: run your ass off, bush.

The winners during my lifetime would step on your throat for one inch of an advantage. Bill Russell, Bobby Orr, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Jo Jo White, Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Sparky Lyle, Larry Bird, Dennis Johnson, Magic, Michael Jordan, Lou Piniella, Ron Guidry, David Cone, Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Scottie Brosius, Derek Jeter, Tom Brady, Paul Pierce. Oh, and Mariano Rivera.

Let us have at least this partial honor roll, and add to it Big Tex, who plays hard on every play and runs out every ball. It shouldn't be a big deal, but it is.

Mariners 4, Yankees 1

Oh, my. Oh, Joba.

Backpage headline on nypost.com: "LOST AT SEA"

Never mind the grand slam. The game was over when Joba's wild pitch stopped rolling at the backstop.

Runners advance. Now Joba has to be fine around the plate with Branyard, who had been mystified against Vazquez.

Joba misses his spots, count goes to 3-1. Now he has to walk Branyard. Bases loaded.

And then . . .

The eighth, biggest shame of all, absolutely tore up and burned Vazquez's best start of the season, a no-hitter until Ichiro's comebacker/Vazquez's body-block/rushed throw/infield hit/error--it wasn't anyone thing. Maybe three players I know--Ichiro, Brett Garnder, Michael Bourn--cause Vazquez to rush the throw like that. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred Tex digs out even such an in-between throw. And a scorekeeper in the Bronx scores the play as an error.

Any one of five things goes differently, no hit.

So Vazquez keeps the no-hitter alive. So Girardi has to sent Javy out for the eighth. Where he at least does a better than Joba.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Yanks take 2 from Mariners

All the fun stuff happens when I'm asleep or at the office.

Woke up this morning to--huh?--Cliff-Lee-to-the-Yankees.

Where, for the moment, he would be the number-four starter, behind CC, Pettitte and Hughes. Yeaqh, yeah, for the moment. So now, deep in the shadows of the LeBron debacle, Lee goes to the Rangers.

What is it about the Rangers that always keeps me from taking them seriously? Is it the ten playoff games they played against the Yankees in the nineties, when they succeeded in winning all but nine of them? The slotting of Best Team Plays West Team to a 9-1 record between '96 and '99 drove Ranger owner Tom Hicks to demand that the Wild Card rule of separating division rivals until the Championship Series be junked. Which, of course, would have meant the Yankees and Orioles, or the Yankees and Red Sox, in a first-round best-of-five matchup with only one weekend game. Uh, no.

There is the notion that these Rangers are the New England Patriots, pre-Brady/Belichek, in reverse. For a quarter-century, from the Red Sox's Impossible Dream season of 1967 until the Tuck Bowl in 2002, the Patriots ran a poor fourth in a city where the Red Sox were the religion, the Bruins the passion, and the Celtics the winners. When Doug Flutie was at Boston College in the early eighties, the Pats ran fifth.

Now the Rangers . . . you may have heard about some other sports teams in Dallas. The Cowboys are King, Earl, Duke. The Mavericks are good for passing the time from February to the start of OTAs. The Rangers get the crumbs. Lee? He beat CC twice last October. He would have to do so again for the Rangers to have a chance against New York.

Oh yeah, the Yankees just won their second game in a row; the pitchers they'll have to settle for just held Ichiro and the gang to 2 runs over 18 innings.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Yankees 6, A's 1

Never mind A-Rod, at least for now.

Starting pitching is what gets you championships.

CC, Pettitte, Vazquez stock: up.

Hughes, Burnett: no worse than holding pattern.

I remember standinjg in a restaurant last October, waiting for my take-out order and watching Pettitte pitch against Chone Figgins, with the Yankees up in games 3-2 and one win from the World Series.

First pitch was a slider, outside corner. Strike One.

Second pitch was a cutter, hitting the flea on the flea on the flea on the outside corner. Chone flinched but didn't bite. Strike two.

"Oh MAN," I announced to the bar, "You Angels are in trouble tonight."

And so they were.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Yankees 3, A's 1

Vazquez, Tex--now this was a game.

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 6

One of the great cliches of baseball: Every team (except such as the '62 Mets) will win 54 games in a single season. Every team (except such as the '98 Yankees) will lose 54 games in a single season.

Baseball comes down to those other 54 games.

Slide this one into column number three, boys.

Mariano Rivera blows a save--his era skyrockets to 1.11. And they win.

And Brett Gardner could have busted it out faster, but hey. There are inside-the-park homers. And then there are standing inside-the-park homers. Had Manny Ramirez hit that ball that Wise played into a (let's be fair here) four-base error, Torre and Mattingly would be shoving Manny out of the dugout as the ball rolled to the wall, hoping he reached to first and doesn't erase the single run scoring from second.

Still.

500 at-bats per season. Let's say you strike out a hundred times. You hit, say, 35 atom-balls, line-drives that are caught in the first second or two. Over 25 weeks, that leaves 14.48 times per week you put the ball in play--a little more than twice a day you're asked to run ninety feet. Baseball is making Phil Mushnicks out of all of us.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

About yesterday's 11-3 wake-up

My hope was that Brett Gardner might develop into more than a better-hitting version of Paul Blair, whom the Yankees kept for years despite his Mendoza-like stick because of the various deficiencies of their regular outfielders. As we all remember, Reggie could run but couldn't catch, Pinellia could catch but couldn't run, and Mickey Rivers and Roy White could run and catch, but couldn't throw.

People complain about Johnny Damon's arm. Next to Rivers, Damon was Jim Edmonds.

So Blair, who could run, catch, throw, and bunt--who could, it seemed, do everything on earth except the tiny little skill we know as "hit the ball out of the infield"--made a decent living for a number of years, mostly as late-inning defense. (He did get a game-winning hit in the World Series, thus joining both the illustrious Jose Vizcaino and the immortal Luis Sojo for that laurel.)

Until this year, you looked at Brett Gardner, you thought: white Paul Blair, plus a half-dozen extra hits per month, make it .240 instead of .200.

Now? Is there All-Star talk? It appears.

He won't get there, not with Pettitte, Hughes, Mo, and Cano getting there on merit alone, and A-Rod and Jeter or both on reputation. But what heady times.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Much more like it

From the New York Post:

Yankees third. Gardner singled to right. Jeter walked on a full count, Gardner to second. Swisher singled to left, Gardner to third, Jeter to second. Teixeira doubled to left, Gardner scored, Jeter scored, Swisher to third. A.Rodriguez grounded out, shortstop Ale.Gonzalez to first baseman Overbay, Swisher scored, Teixeira to third. Cano singled to right, Teixeira scored. Posada flied out to center fielder V.Wells. Granderson infield single to second, Cano to second. Huffman was hit by a pitch, Cano to third, Granderson to second. Gardner homered to right on a full count, Cano scored, Granderson scored, Huffman scored. Tallet pitching. Jeter walked on four pitches. Swisher walked on a full count, Jeter to second. On wild pitch by Tallet, Jeter to third, Swisher to second. Teixeira walked. A.Rodriguez doubled to left, Jeter scored, Swisher scored, Teixeira scored. Cano lined out to right fielder J.Bautista

Jays 6, Yankees 1 (11)

Now it can be told: For the past decade, whoever brought in Chan Ho Park for big money at the beginning of that year (Dodgers, Rangers) was, I knew, one team nobody had to worry about.

That was the joke. If Chan Ho was the answer, what was the question? Ugh.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Yankees 4, Mariners 2

Lessons?

1. It's a long season. CC is now 10-3. It is one of the hallmarks of a team that plays together that the starting nine comes out, and the bullpen is ready, for some kind of landmark game for a treasured teammate. In retrospect, it matters less that CC failed to get to 20 wins last year (Greinke was getting the Cy Young anyway) that, last year, without prompting, with a volunteers' willingness to go over the hill, the Yankees, having secured the division, went out--with the starting eight, with Hughes and Mo and the rest of the front-line bull all set to go, if needed--to try and get CC number twenty. They failed. But the fact they tried meant so much. CC is big, he improves in the heat, he takes the ball on short rest, and he'll knock down two of yours if you mess with one of his. It's taken me all this time to get to a) he's a warrior and b) I love him.

2. Playoff rotation. CC, Hughes, Lefty?

3. I had an A-Rod moment to go with my seoncd-greatest moment on a ballfield. My softball manager decided to play me, a lefty, at second. Man on first. Ball in the hole, I dive in the grass, flip the ball in the general direction of second. Our shortstop plucks it in midair, steps on the bag, fires to first, double play. I jump up, touch gloves with the shortstop, start trimphantly off the field. Uh, Joe. That's still only two outs.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Seatlle, really

7-0. Well, shutouts happen, and Felix can hurl. I always thought if they just nosed against Tampa it was over. Prove me right, boys.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Some inning, ay?

The good news was, while trying to field the most routine of bunts The Yankees reminded me that my four year-old nephew's t-ball game is today.

The bad news is . . . hurricane season. A rain-out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dodgers 9, Yankees 4

I made 27 bucks betting 10 against AJ in Vegas earlier this week.

I'm sorry, but there it is.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Yankees 2, Dodgers 1

What a game to finally come home to.

Strong starting pitching, solid D, timely hitting late, Mo.

CC is so big he often seems to have too many moving parts--certainly, when his pitching is a shade off, when his curveball misses a foot wide and comes in at ankle-high, he does.

Special joy: fifth inning, Michael Kay said, "Hey, there's Vin Scully!" And I said, "Hey, there is Vin Scully and switched to the Dodger broadcast.

No offense to Kay and Flash but . . . damn.

What was funny was James Loney, last batter of the game, looking at Mo's backdoor cutter--simply one of the five best pitches in the history of the sport, then getting rung up, then throwing his helmet, then getting thrown out of a game that was already over.

What do we call such a moment? "You're fired! No, I quit!"

Was CC's hitting Padilla intentional? I didn't think so, now . . . I wonder. One of the raps against the 2002-2008 Yankees was that they were too soft--clearly not the 1998 team that carried a brawl against the O's into the Baltimore dugout, when Straw and Graeme Lloyd were throwing blindiders from back behind their ears, then trading high-fives for the cameras in the clubhouse.

CC brought a lot to the team. Had Pettitte been routed in Game Six of the Series, he was prepared to start for the sixth time that post-season.

But tonight was a reminder: CC, along with Tex and Swisher, helps make the Yankees mean.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yankees 8, Phillies 2

CC v. Cliff Lee 2.0.

Preview of Game One? We should live so long.

Monday, June 14, 2010

After the weekend that was

For three days every second or third or fourth year, Astro-Girl and I are at odds rooting-wise. She loves her Astros (pouring over the draftee list all weekend; she wanted more lumber); I like the Astros a lot. I love the Yankees; she loves Derek Jeter, likes Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posaada a lot, admires Mo, thinks Joba is "the cutest thing," and has more or less accepted A-Rod. So she roots for the Yankees, and I root for the Astros, and all is well and good except for three days every third year when the interleague wheel comes around to AL East/NL Central, and watch our guys square off.

A few fun facts about the Yankees and Astros:

1. Everybody knows Mickey Mantle hit the first home run in the Astrodome, in an exhibition game in 1965. When the 2000 Yankees returned to help the 'Stros open Minute Maid Park (then known as . . . ugh . . . Enron Field), the first home run was hit by . . . Rickey Ledee, in his third year of attempting to crack the Yankees' World Championship outfield that featured Paul O'Neill in right and Bernie in center. (The official totals for the Dyansty Years of 1996-2001 indicate the Yankees tried out precisely 5,204 left fielders to go with Paulie and Bernie. Ruben Rivera, who tried to steal some of Jeter's gear--um, not a sterling career move in the Bronx--was out there. Shane Spencer, the replacement player (err, strikebreaker) who was thought to have a real shot until he tore up his leg in '99 and was never the same. Chuck Knoblach in 2001, when his throws from second to first threatened to kill Rudy Guiliani. Jose Canseco was thought to have a shot; the Yankees traded for him after Spencer went down, then discovered he'd decided on his own to become a full-time DH forevermore--not only did he not have a glove, but when was issued his Yankee uniform (cue trumpets: the hallwed pintripes of the Babe and Lou Iron Horse, of Joe D and the Mick), he specifically asked not to be given a cap, on grounds that he would only need a batting helmet.

2. Incidentally, a former major-leaguer, a Hall-of-Famer, has come forward to announce that he, and not the Commerce Comet, hit the Astrodome's first home run. His logic is, if you're going to count exhibition games, then the scrimmage he played in, as a young Astro, against a local high school team the night before the Mick went yard, ought to count, too. And he wants us to know it. If you're guessing that this fellow was a second baseman who was later traded to the Reds, and who then went on to win two consecutive MVPs, nice guess. His logic, then, begs the question--if you're not going to distinguish between an official Major League Spring Training game (for which official records were kept, and MLB umpires assigned, and customers charged admission) and a game with no fans, no records, no (I'm guessing) umps, why not stop there? Why not award the first home run to whoever hit one first in that scrimmages' batting practice? How about the first Astrodome construction worker who brought a bat and bucket of balls to work, and hit fungoes after 5 pm while standing in short center?

3. The Astros and Yankees took part in one of the strangest games in history in 2003: the Astros employed a record six pitchers in no-hitting the Yankees. This fact can only happen if the starting pithcer is hurt (Roy Oswalt was) and a host of relievers hold up their ends. Brad Lidge, Billy Wagner, and Octavio Dotel were called, at one time or another, "closers." The fellow Sarloos pitched some good games. And I always forget about the sixth guy. I took some mighty crap from my co-workers after that game. But the Yankees' record vs. the Astros' since then? 7-0.

4. I saw all three Astro-Yankee games at Minute Maid two years ago, a birthday present from Astro-Girl. This was a Yankee sweep. The first two games were classic Yankee victories--solid startin pitching, good hitting late, solid bullpen--but in the third game the internal history of the team was altered. Astro owner Drayton McClane had ordered the Minute Maid doors thrown open a half-hour early, to allow those attending to see the Yankee batting practice ample time to find their seats. Thus we were allowed to see the Jeter-Posada-Melky cabal stretch and soft-toss before BP, see the scrubs and rookies take their places in the outfield, gues who was hot. For the Sunday game, Wang was facing Oswalt, and so much was Girardi's obsession for getting ready for Oswalt that he, on Saturday night, had rested Matsui and Posada in order to load up on left-handed bats. Posada came out on Sunday morning and hit line drives to the left-field porch; I said, "He's going to crush the 'Stros today." And so he did, hitting a homer, though turned around to the right side, Oswalt having been long gone. The Yankees won 13-1, but one run ended their season and hastened their pursuit of CC and AJ: Wang rounding third, ripping that tendon at the bottom of his foot, and essentially ending his career.

And this doesn't even bring us up to this year.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

3 of 4 from Birds

Can't they play Baltimore every day?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 3

The only question mark is Joba.

Vazquez looks like the pitcher the Yankees hired . . . Granderson seems healthy.

I remember something Roger Angell once wrote about the old Munson-Nettles-Reggie-Mickey-Chambliss teams of the late-70s: "The Yankees are capable of playing fiuve different types of baseball."

Thought about that today. Eighth inning, one out. A-Rod with the bases loaded--2-1 becomes 4-2, but in none of the ways you'd think. One of the best half-dozen innings of the season.

14 innings . . .

And you knew. You just knew.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Yankees 6, Orioles 3

Partying like it's 1998.

Banged up? Players in a slump? Pitchers in a bad patch?

Or, conversely . . . team playing well? Getting healthy? Finding its stroke?

Either way, it's good news: the Orioles are in town.

Grandy, Robby, and . . . okay, not "Swishy"

In the everyday player department, three things:

1. If Robby Cano isn't the "first-third" MVP . . . he is, right now, at "you always know where he is in the lineup" status. This just occurred to me: Cleveland walked Tex to pitched to A-Rod on Monday, and we all know what happened. In that situation, in a one-run game--especially given the Yankees' exhausted and (at the moment) suspect bullpen, they didn't have to pitch to A-Rod. I mean, you try to get him out, but with Alex freaking Rodriguez you can at least be fine around the plate. Walk him, the game is 3-1. A two-run lead, you're still never more than one pitch away from bringing the tying run to the plate. As Tommy John always said, "You always have an open base, even if it's home plate." Jim Palmer walked home scores of runs during his career, but as we all know . . . not a single grand slam. Thing is, none of that occurred to anyone. And why? Cano was on deck. He's playing that well.

2. Seems like Granderson can hit lefties after all.

3. Nice to see Nick Swisher is much, much more than a mascot. Remember he was brought in to be the fourth outfielder and pinch hitter. It is hard to see Xavier Nady, at his healthiest, giving even close to what Swisher is right now.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Catching up

1. Yanks 9, Birds 1. Hughes, finally, may have arrived. Loved that kid from the start.

2. Pettitte plus Hughes: 12 games over .500. The rest of the Yankee staff: 1 game over .500.

3. That blown call, costing baseball the third perfect game in a month: ouch. Baseball umps remain the most competent officials, as a group, in sports. (This is even including the ghastly incompetents, like CV Buckner and Angel Hernandez.) If anything like Tim Donaghy had happened in baseball, they'd already be filming the movie. (Jake Glynenhall, maybe. Tobey MacGuire.) But something hit last October and keeps recurring.

3. When I was in college, during Spring Break in 1986 and '87, my father and brothers and I would head out of Scottsdale Diablo Stadium to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Brewers, Padres, Cubs, whoever in Spring Training. Just about every game, Dick Williams would send the Mariners' prime prospect out to play center field for the last few innings. There was no question this skinny teenager would be returning to the minors both years, but the fans were delighted to see him play, in part because they remembered his famous father, in part because he was a promise of things to come--for Mariner fans and non-fans alike. The big smile you could see from high above home plate all the way to the warning track, and with every fly ball, every at-bat, every first-to-third, it was if the entire park existed only to watch him. The sentiment was palpable: He has to do well. There could be no other outcome. Ken Griffey Junior did okay.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Yanks swipe three of four from Tribe

Joel Sherman pretty much nails yesterday afternoon and the moment when a two-game swing and the fate of a series hung in the balance:

It all made perfect baseball sense. Of course it did.

Indians manager Manny Acta absolutely had every reason in the world to intentionally walk Mark Teixeira to load the bases with one out in the seventh inning yesterday. Well, every reason but one: YOU NEVER INTENTIONALLY WALK MARK TEIXEIRA IN FRONT OF ALEX RODRIGUEZ.

You have a better chance of plugging that BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with Silly String than actually succeeding with that strategy.


You don't split tens in Blackjack. You lay up in the US Open. You never touch the Stanley Cup until you've won it. And you don't walk Tex to get to A-Rod.

Karma ain't just a dancer at the Gold Club

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ro-bin-son

Just-went-yard. Grand slam to make it 8-2.

The sort of slammie that makes you kind of exhale.

That Detroit kid--who appears to be pretty good--just put two pitches on two tees, Grandy and Cano.

Ahhh Twins 8-2

From Blogging the Bombers:

"Trip ends on a dud, but good times are ahead."

Let's see if he--and Sun Devil Joe--are correct.

The Yanks have been upgraded from a slide to the blahs. Sometimes the blahs are underrated. To extend the Blackjack metaphor: you never learn to value a choppy shoe (the blahs) until you lose or push eleven hands in a row (the slide). Your Blackjack hand gets a push thanks to a dealer's down Ace (which precludes the option of even money), your twenty against a dealer's six loses when the dealer goes five, ten for twenty-one.

Translation: half your games you lose 10-8, the other half 1-0.

You know what a mean. What we have here lately is a choppy shoe, which is worse than nothing. But now it's time to pull a few double-downs, win a few splits, get picked up when Third Base (dear God!) is smart enough to stand on fifteen against a five.

Let's explode in euphoric high-fives and call for another round of comped Heinekens.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yankees Take Pair from Twins

You like? Missed both games, damnit. But, hearing what I do, I remember what one Village Voice writer wrote in the 1980s (just like the tabloids, you read the sports back to front--and yes the Voice has a sports section, and in my memory a good one): "You know, if you hit the ball far enough, home plate is scoring position."

Like winning a double-down in Blackjack: these days often foretell better times ahead. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sometimes you win

Sometimes you lose. And sometimes it rains.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mets 6, Yankees 4

Another bad start, another series of blown chances (Brett Gardner doubled off first on a slower roller--that's when I sort of packed it in), another deficit too big for the homeward charge. Anyone noticing a pattern here?

Not even June, and I'm already hearing, "Well, you know the Wild Card is coming out of the East." I'm not thinking like that yet, but come on, guys, do something.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mets 4, Yanks 0, early

But no good feeling about this one. By the way, Morgan, run that by me again. Tex and Bay swing with an uppercut? Something that gives you this thing called topspin?

Well, gee, thank you, Mr. Good Will Hunting. Didn't get it the first seven times.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Yankees 2, Mets 1

But if course, the rub: Vasquez, in perhaps his best start this season, leaves with injury.

A few more wins like this and Jeter will be lining up start times at Bethpage Black come October 3rd.

Story here.

Posada from C to DH to DL

In rapid succession.

Sun-Devil Joe, you had it first: Chad Moeller!

To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy: If ____________, you know you're in trouble.

Still, to get the full import of the Yankees' troubles, read down two grafs:

Right-handed reliever Mark Melancon was optioned to Scranton-Wilkes-Barre and infielder-outfielder Kevin Russo was recalled from the Triple-A team.


To which one must ask: Um, who?

Subway Series Yet Again

You have to wonder if Mike Vaccaro's column about "New York is a Yankee town now" has been set in type for over a week. Yes: the Yankees have been the pre-eminent since 1993, when their resurgence was built around a core of Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, Mike Stanley and an aging and ailing Don Mattingly.

The next season: first place by 6 1/2 at the time of the strike. '95: John Wetteland and Andy Pettitte, then David Cone, pitch the Yankees into the playoffs. Then, in '96, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter come up for good, Stanley departs for Joe Girardi, Jimmy Key comes back from arm surgery, Tino comes over from Seattle. And that was it for the Mets as No. 1 team in the city. Got it.

Cold comfort, right about now. It is one thing to lose. It is another to see your team hold onto a one-run lead halfway through and think, "Not a chance"--or, conversely, see your team down by three halfway through and think, "Not a chance."

Yeah, yeah. New York, New York, it's a helluva town, the Yankees are up and the Metsies are down. Enough already.

For cheering up, there's always Joel Sherman This week's Yankees could be this season's Mets--and if Jeter worries you, at least he's not Reyes.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rays 8, Yankees 6

Pettitte, three home runs. Another missed start in order?

The good news is, they love me in China.

Guys, this is getting ridiculous

Larry Brooks on the Yankee starters.

One weird comeback away from a serious slide. And nowthe Rays worry me. Officially.

Tampa Bay 10, New York 6

Well, the Astros' game was fun.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Red Sox by one

Wow, what a horrible game. CC v. Beckett, and there went my evening.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yankees 11, Red Sox 9

I wanted New York to win this game so badly . . . that I didn't watch it much past 7-6 Yankees. Not because I couldn't bear to watch, but after seeing yesterday's immolation and the lead shrink with the thought of, "How many times can one team go to CC to stop the bleeding?"--I simply challenged the Yanks to win in my absence. If they lost, fine, I didn't have to watch it. If they won, I was willing to pay the price.

How badly? Consider: after mi9ssing two late-inning home runs--A-Rod to tie, Thames for the walk-off (or so I'm told)--I still think I did the right thing.

Nick Johnson out until, let's face it, August 1st. If Cervelli can hit, if Posada can DH from both sides, if Granderson gets healthy, this may all be for the best. I remember in 1979, with Ron Guidry solid number one and Tommy John solid number two in the rotation, Ed Figueroa, Catfish Hunter, Luis Tiant, Jim Beattie and Ken Clay were all jostling for spots 3-5. Sports Illustrated wrote, "Perhaps an injury or two might actually help sort things out." The Yanks got the injury, but to Goose Gossage, the closer who was, with Gator, one of the only two indispensible players on the team. So we'll see.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Wow

THAT was a hard one to endure. Seems Mo delayed his annual April shake-out to May 15

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Yankees 7, Twins 1

Guess I know why an afternoon win is so cool: you carry it with you all day, and all night.

Never mind Tex's monster homer to the really expensive seats, nor Posada's home run off the crossbar next to the restaurant that jumpred up into the seats above the restaurant . . .

Focus on: Andy Pettitte. 5-0. ERA: 1.79.

Five rings. Eight pennants.

He is, as my Irish (mother's side) ancestors would say, right in the gloaming.

What I remember, more than his World Series-winning start, is his start against the Angels to win the pennant last year. His first two pitches, against Chone Figgins, the Angels' lead-off man, left-handed batter.

First pitch, I think a slider, low and at the outside corner. Figgins didn't offer. Strike one.

Second pitch--and this was the entire game. As they say in Boston, wicked cuttah. Figgins flinched his back arm, then watched the ball sail by. He knew: had he hit it, it would have been a soft grounder to Jeter. What was the use?

The ump raise his right arm. Strike two. I was standing in a restaurant bar, waiting for my food, but I knew the pennant was decided right there, two pitches in. I shouted, "Oh, you guys are in trouble tonight."

And so they were. And so we come with Pettitte: in the gloaming, the same hazy netherworld that enveloped Jim Rice and Goose Gossage all those years; the same fog that will envelope Jeff Bagwell and Jeff Kent; the same nip that may grab hold of Craig Biggio.

Just a thought. Of the Yankees of the late-40s and early-50s, there was no thought as to who was their most valuable player. On a team with the aging DiMaggio; the steady Henrich, Keller, and Bauer; the youthful Mantle, McDougald, and Brown; the pitchers Reynolds, Raschi, Lopat, Ford, and Page; and the ubiquitous Berra; the year-by-year MVP was Scooter Rizzuto. For a shortstop, his arm was almost comically weak, but his instincts were otherwordly and his reflexes almost cosmic--maybe, for a left-sided infielder, him and Brooks Robinson and Ozzie Smith, and that's it, all through history. Okay, Honus Wagner.

The word was out from the Yankees: spike Scooter, deal with us. So it was that, after Phil was taken out of a double play, the ailing DiMaggio ran through a clean single just to slash his spikes at the other team's second baseman. Joe D was out, but the point was made.

For all that, it took a half century to get Scooter into the Hall.

I think of this when I think of Lefty.

And

Just saw Gardner steal second . . . . on a pick-off.

Speed, they say, never slumps. Speed plus brains plus guts is beginning to put Garnder in the rarefied Rickey/Ichiro stratosphere.

And Pettitte, if the bullpen holds, is about to go 5-0.

Good grief . . . .

I'm as exhausted as Randy Winn must feel lately--eight years my junior, brought in for (I'm guessing without looking) low seven figures to back up Granderson, Gardner, and Swisher, a little defense, some pinch running . . . and now games are coming on top of games.

Now this. 3-0, bottom sixth.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Switched over to "Desperate Housewives"

How's this for whiplash. Specifically turned on the Rays-A's game to find out what the big deal was with Tampa . . .

27 up, 27 down. The first A's perfecto since Catfish in '68. This is the Rays who have supposedly terrorized the American league through six weeks? Uh?

(Well, yes, when Don Larsen set down the Dodgers' lineup three times over in the '56 World Series, he did have to go through an bunch of punks named Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snider, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Junior Gilliam and Carl Furillo. Plus Dale Mitchell, batting for Sal Maglie in the ninth, who took strike three for the 27th out in 27 batters.)

The great benefit of televised baseball is that you see how close one pitch, one batted ball, one close call might turns an entire game. For AJ Burnett, it was how a ball-three pitch to Youklis missed the outside corner (either Burnett was trying for a perfect pitch or was happy to waste one) and set up a monster inning. That pitch is two inches in, catches the corner, the entire game turns.

Two inches outside. Uh oh, big inning. I haven't cared even secondarily about "Desperate Housewives" since that Spanish chick stopped boffing the yard boy, but I gave in to my wife.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Yankees 14, Red Sox 3

Funny thing is, now is when we're supposed to hear about what fools the Yankees were:



Austin Jackson: batting .370; Johnny Damon, .302, both for the Tigers, and right now I would take the Tigers vs. the field in the AL Central.



Ian Kennedy: odd man out on the Yankee Diaper Dandy pitching trio, just won a 1-0 duel vs. Roy Oswalt in Home Run Field. At least five people witnessed the event.



And the Yankees' new parts? Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson: DL. At least Granderson made you sorry to see him go.



Javier Vasquez? Partying like it's 2004.



So why no worry?



Jeter, ss
Gardner, cf
Texiera, 1b
Rodriguez, 3b
Cano, 2b
Posada, c
Swisher, rf

If all the new Yankee everyday players were to drop dead tomorrow, these would be hitters 1-7.

You would have a dh--if Johnson is a wash, maybe a salary dump (Lance Berkman?, Carlos Lee?, for three kids: a pitcher, a bat, and one from the Yankees' treasure trove of minor-league catchers?)--potentially batting sixth, between Cano and Jorgie.

Starting pitching:
Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Hughes

Bullpen:
Aceves, Robertson, Mitre, Joba, Mo.

Don't wanna hear 'bout no Rays.

Not til the end of the month, anyway.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Yankees 10, Red Sox 3

Phil Hughes may be the key. And Swisher. But what's up with the Rays?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Yankees 7, A's 3

Javy? A-Rod? Bah.

The star of the game was Posada: in the first inning, chugging down first--faster than he knew how, yet slower than Softball Guy after three beers--to beat out what was almost certainly an error (and may yet be scored as much tomorrow), and quite possibly could have been two errors had A-Rod come around from third. Next batter, Nick Swisher, two-run single. 3-0.

Later, after Javy had treated us to what, for now, are his obligatory thrills and chills, Posada again busted down the line to beat out a double play. 7-3, for your final.

Goodbye, "Jorgie." Hello, "Wheels."

Complimenting a baseball player for running out grounders to first seems so insignificant . . . until you watch the Mets for five innings.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bombers Sweep

Three things in life will always come back to humiliate you: baseball, golf, and politics.

Stiil, on the basis of two weeks' work, some clear lines may be appearing:

1. Starting pitching, except for the Braves of 1995-2000, is always a matter of throwing it out there and seeing what works. Nothing is promised, nothing owed. Pitching is the most unnatural act in sports (God, in the end, wants us all to go bowling), and the question is always: whose bad back, whose sore arm, whose elbow will turn today's 20-game winner into tomorrow's student in real estate school? That said, CC, AJ, Pettitte and Hughes seem the real thing. Vasquez? A slight concern, at this point.

2. The baseball gods may well have front-loaded the first twelve games as the year's toughest dozen in a row. Two weeks ago Red Sox, Rays, and Angels seemed the most likely candidates to unseat the Yankees in the American League, and Texas--with Vlad, Hamilton, and Young--can, in theory, hit the ball. Yet New York is one opening-day bullpen meltdown away from standing 10-2 against the bunch of them. As it is, they are 9-3, with the Sox one stiff jab away from going Dempsey through the ropes and onto Grantland Rice's typewriter. (I remember thinking the Sox were deeper than Boston Harbor in talent--if Ortiz doesn't come out of his funk, not so much. Pedroia and Ellsbury can run all around the Back Bay if they want to, but they're harmless if no one drives them in. Lowell is a pinch-hitter, Manny is long gone, Beltre is off the junk . . . are Martinez/Varitek, Youklis, and Drew going to combine for even 350 RBIs? Doubt it. )

3. I'm always cautious about writing, "And (sports team) has done all this without major contributions from players XYZ," because maybe players XYZ are dogs, and maybe they're old, or whatever. Still and all, the Yankees have done this with minimal offensive contributions from Tex and A-Rod. These would be the third and fourth Yankee hitters, the Bronx home office of Ruth and Gehrig, Gehrig and DiMaggio, Maris and Mantle, Munson and Jackson, O'Neill and Bernie. Truly, Jeter, Granderson, Posada, Swisher, and Gardner couldn't currently play better in their dreams, but so minimal have been the contributions of A-Rod and Tex (and again, specify offeniseively; they have been dandies with the leather) that one wonders: against the likes of Kansas City and Seattle, with CC on the mound, how well will this team play once these guys get untracked?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Yankeees Defeat Angels in Series, 2-1

How very subtle: the baseball gods decreed the champions to face, in thier first nine games, their--probably--three most dangerous opponents.

The bottom-line result: three series victories, and a 6-3 record.

Beyond . . . CC, AJ, Pettitte seem about all right or better. Cano, Granderson, Jeter, Posada--essentially, half the starting lineup--broke fine. Swisher simply starts hitting .280, with one home run per week, the first week of April, and pretty much doesn't stop. A-Rod, Tex, Nick, and the three-headed monster in left: they'll be all right.

The six-through-eight inning men seem okay: Aceves, Robertson, Marte, Joba. And Mo is Mo.

Which leaves . . . Vasquez.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yankees 7, Rays 3

Was distracted by Phil Mickelson's homeward gallop, but saw enough. Will Joba in the eighth be an ongoing concern/work in progress? Possibly. Other than that, not much to pick at.

Yankees 10, Rays 0

One of the greatest baseball, and hence greats sports, lines ever:

Earl Weaver: "You take momentum, I'll take Jim Palmer."

Momentoumt in this instance is CC.

On this instance. Mickelson has a perfect score to merit euphoria. And a perfect score to blow it. Giving Lefty a final-day pairing in a a major is like giving whiskey and car keys to a 17 year-old.

Come on, Phil. Do it.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Rays 9, Yankees 3

Well, it took four whole games to have a "just one of those games" games.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Yankees 3, Red Sox 1 (10)

Tonight's important factors (in descending order):

1. Pettitte looking strong.
2. Right about here is where Mo has his annual April one-game meltdown. Didn't happen.
3. By swapping Granderson and Garnder for Melky and Damon, the Yankees, twice over, chose defense over offense (money, for the Yankees, being a non-factor). 159 games to go, seems to be working. So much of "good pitching" actually translates to "great defense" (see: the 1982-87 Cardinals, with an occasional good pitching year from Andujar and one great one from Tudor, but behind them, at various times, stood Ozzie, Coleman, McGee, Herr, Oquendo, Van Slyke, and Keith Hernandez). In the Yankees' case, we shall see.
4. Aceves, Joba, Park, Robertson--could we actually have a non-Mo bullpen in the works?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Yankees 6, Red Sox 4

Well, about time, boys. Burnett will be fine, four scoreless innings from the bullpen, timely hitting late. And, oh yeah, Mo.

Girardi's hands team in the outfield (Gardner, Granderson, Winn) looks good.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Boston 9. Yankees 7

Oh, what a cock-up. Millions for speed and power, not a dime for a reliever who could break from the gate not resembling a carnival freak. And another great season gets underway.

Opening Day

A bit of symmetry. Had the Phillies won the sixth game of last year's World Series, CC was ready to start Game Seven. This was, remember, part of Joe Girardi's gamble, to go with three starters, to stick with CC, AJ and Pettitte and ignore the advice of every retired player and fired manager who claimed Girardi was killing New York's chances by not throwing Mitre or Aceves into the mix. Pettitte closed out Philly, rendering CC's contributions moot . . . so CC's start carried over to tonight. Symmetry.

There was a marvelous rumor over the winter that Joe Morgan was retiring from ESPN. No, too much to ask: there he was tonight, and one could, as an adjunct to the game itself, keep track of his fatuities. Right out of the box: "As soon as A-Rod rejoined the Yankees, they won 90 games and won 44 games." Yes, live TV is what it is, but . . . really, Morgan had six months to plan his preamble. Later, after Posada smacked a homer off Pesky Pole, Morgan seemed not just oblivious but, gosh darn it, downright curious as to who this "Pesky" fellow was.

"How far is that pole?" he asked. "280 feet?" Uh, no, Joe. 302. 302 feet, a figure as familiar to most baseball fans as DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Maybe you forgot your base hit in this park that won the 1975 World Series, being as Miller hasn't mentioned it at all this minute.

Oh yeah, the game. Ahhhhhh, give Morgan this: Girardi stuck with CC precisely because CC had only allowed two runs against a Red Sox lineup as deep as Boston Harbor. Pedroia's walk would have been the hook for all but a dozen major-league pitchers this early, and Morgan was all over it.

5-5 and we go to the seventh.