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?"


"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?


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.


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.


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


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.