Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Someone tell me the bright side. A 5-0 lead squandered? The secondary stopper melting down? Three of the projected eight Opening Day defenders now sidelined? Their All-Star (as of last year) catcher batting .188? Gardner and Mo out for the season? A-Rod, Tex, Pettitte, and Joba suffering varying aches and pains? Cano only now climbing out of the worst slump of his career? Check, check, check, check, check, and check. Assume Cano is back to snuff. Are he, Jeter and Granderson supposed to play three-against-nine? Is what would be, if everyone were healthy, a talented (Nix, Stewart) and experienced (Ibanez, Jones, Chavez, and you can even count Ichiro) bench supposed to produce like frontline players, with no bench to speak of behind them? 5 1/2 games, and the Orioles are the least of the Yankees' worries.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Genuine slump, anyone? Don't wanna hear nothin' bout no one-run games. the '27 and '98 Yankees, maybe the two greatest teams of all time, won a crapload of one-run games. That feat made their teams more impressive, not less. 3-8 since Oakland. The scores of the eight losses: 4-3, 3-2, 2-1, 5-4, 4-2, 8-6, 3-2, 5-4. That's an 0-8 in games they've been outscored only 34-24: 1.25 runs per game. That's eight losses, versus zero wins, in which their pitching and defense have given up a tolerably respectable 4.24 runs per game. Dig deep for the crucial numbers. These Yankees: First in slugging percentage. Third in on-base percentage. Fifth in runs. Batting average? Tenth. 0-35 when trailing after eight. Translation? First, too dependent on the long ball. Granderson and Tex are stuck around .250; Martin, who is apparently the catcher for the long haul, is looking up at the Mendoza line. Second, when top-flight relievers throw strikes, they're cooked. Third, with Pettitte out, when they don't win with CC and Kuroda, they put themselves in a terrible position. So we come back tomorrow. 6.5 is your cushion.
2-0 Red Sox, Bottom 8. When Martin made it 2-1 with a homer in the eighth, then tied it up with that RBI single in the ninth--his most beautiful hit of the season--I was all set to say, "You cannot stop Russell Martin, you can only hope to contain him!" Instead, one tenth inning bloop later, on the heels of a game-winning triple on Saturday, and you can now apply the above to . . . Red Sox' Pedro Ciriaco. Yeah, I know. Who? The skinny kid. Still 7 1/2 games. Push the O's out of sight, all is forgiven, for now.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Against all mathematical odds, the Orioles (despite losing to Okland tonight, in a thriller all the way to near the end that saw four lead changes) remain in second place while the Red Sox remain in fifth. The Red Sox' run differential is, in the aggregate, 85 more than the O's--very nearly one run per game. And yet they lose. People had said Ibanez had slowed down, that Tex had a tired bat . . . and now A-Rod went down just as he was starting to play his best baseball in a year and a half. If CC wins tomorrow . . .
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
A nice comeback, given everything. In the postgame interview, Girardi mentioned that Nix, the day's hero, was essentially a stalking horse for Chavez to go lefty-right. Had Nix done nothing, he would have done his job just by being there. The funny thing is that even after this week, the Yankees are that much closer to the playoffs. Baltimore hangs in against all mathematical probability, Boston has waited four months for Lester and Beckett to get rolling, Tampa is an arm short (and knows it). Still: No Rivera, Pineda or Gardner for the rest of the year. No A-Rod, Pettitte and, maybe, Swisher for right now. In 1980, led by MVP-calibre performances by Reggie Jackson and Rick Cerone, the Yankees found their way to 103 wins with nonentities like Bobby Brown and Joe LeFevre starting in the outfield. Then they ran into a hugely motivated KC team and were swept. This is starting to feel like that year. After the James-Younger gang was smashed to flinders in the Northfield, Minnesota, raid, with the gang shot up and (with the exception of the Jameses) unable to ride, and with the posse closing fast, one of the Younger brothers supposedly looked around in the woods and asked, "Where the hell's Missouri?" After this road trip, can imagine Joe Girardi heading off the field today and asking, "Where the hell's the Bronx?"
Hard to imagine this turning out worse--beginning not with A-Rod but Teixiera, who hit the two hardest balls of the night and wound up with a single RBI. The Yanks' weakest starting pitcher (Garcia) against one of the Mariners' few legitimate stars (Felix) and they still should have one. And then, of course, A-Rod, who is out. Five weeks? Six weeks? Adn he was playing the best ball of the season. What else? Yankee pitchers give up zero walks until the eighth inning, whereupon they give up three, including the insurance run . . . . on an eighty-foot base hit. I didn't stay around for the end.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
A marvelous game, of course. Two statistics: 1. Defense and basebrunning (and maybe batting average) aside, it is hard to make the case that a healthy Brett Gardner could improve on the leftfield Ibanez/Jones platoon, which is making Girardi look like Earl Weaver. Through nearly sixty percent of the season, the two have shade more than sixty percent of a season's worth of at-bats: 365. Together, the two have combined for 24 home runs, 65 RBIs, and took turns the last two nights blasting the game's winning margin. 2. If one considers run differential, the team most likely to fall off a cliff is Baltimore. The two most likely to make a run? Boston (+49) and St. Louis (+66). 3. Pointed out on MLB: every pitcher who won as many games as Sabathia did (185, now 186) by age 32 (his birthday is in a few days) is in the Hall of Fame: Catfish, Marichal, Jenkins, Newhouser, Drysdale, Feller and one other I missed.
Monday, July 16, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Saturday, July 07, 2012
Three home runs, Hughes on the mound--and a loss. Suddenly, being twenty games up going into the break is gone. And, with a brutal, four-hour, crazy-ass ESPN prime time game in the offing, suddenly a split (in Fenway, no less) looms as large as a loss.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
This team is growing on me. Their three best pitchers (CC, Pettitte, Mo) on the rack, and they scratch and gouge out wins like this . . . much like the '78 team, which seemingly had a two-man pitching staff at times (Guidry and Goose) but was able to simply gut it out.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
You do know the difference in the game, don't you? A lot of talk ws in Houston in 2001 about the "Arizona Astros," how the four best D-Backs who beat the Yankees (Schilling, Unit, Gonzo, Finley) had all served time in Houston. Now, with Tampa, the connection is more tangible. Gerry Hunsicker, the GM who gave Houston six playoff teams in nine years (the last was reportedly Tim Purpora, but it was a Hunsicker team) was forcded out in a vanity struggle by Drayton McClane. Since then, of course, he has recast his parsimouniously winning ways in Tampa. One thing he specializes in is picking up Astros he originally scouted, whom the big club has, in his absence, lost faith in. Case in point: Jeff Keppinger. That would be .320 Jeff Keppinger, who tied the game up with a two-out, two-run single in the third. Pretty much the hit that kep the Rays in the game long enough to win it. Tampa Bay Astros.