Yankees 6 Mariners 1: Moose Strong; Bats Awaken

Been sleeping so long, now I do believe I hear the sound that’ll wake me from my deep slumber, slumber, slowly-owly open up my eyes. Like a flower from the deep frost of winter, slowly, I do rise.”–“Shine,” FB&C.

Two straight good games give one hope that despite the injuries and struggles, this team has the ability to overcome them and persevere. We’ll see, but today’s game was very encouraging. Mussina pitched six very good innings and the bats gave early-inning support to allow him to pitch with a lead, propelling the Yankees to an impressive 6-1 win against Felix Hernandez. The top of the order–JD, Jeter, Abreu, and Matsui–dominated, and Mussina simply didn’t let the Mariners get going. This, in sum, felt like a Yankees win.

After Mussina hit his eventual pitch-per-inning average of fourteen in the top of the first, the Yanks gave him the lead right away. Damon doubled as part of his huge game, Jeter productively grounded to second to move JD to third, and Abreu’s single made it 1-0. Mussina worked a 1-2-3 second, but the Mariners tied the game in the third. Johjima singled but Balentien grounded into a 4-6-3. Yet Betancourt singled and stole second, then scored on Ichiro the Magnificent’s single, 1-1. However, the Yankees scored right away in the third. With one out, JD and Jeter hit back-to-back doubles, 2-1 Yankees. Abreu’s 5-3 made it two outs, but Matsui singled in Jeter, Giambi walked, and Melky the Clutch singled to center, 4-1 Yankees.

Mussina was dealing, working very well especially with runners on base. In the fourth, Ibanez led off with a single and Clement added a one-out single, but Sexson grounded into a 1-4-3 DP for Mussina to escape. In the fifth, Balentien singled with one out, Jeter’s error messed up a potential DP ball but got Balentien at second, Ichiro the Great singled, but Cairo’s F9 ended the threat. In the sixth, after Beltre’s one-out single, Mussina fanned Clement and Sexson to finish his terrific stint–6 IP scattering seven hits, a run earned, no walks and five K’s on 84 pitches/54 strikes. Excellent work from Mussina coupled together with Wang’s gem last night. The Yankees effectively salted it in the bottom of the sixth when Molina led off with a single to right and JD ripped a homer to deep right off Hernandez into the upper deck, 6-1 Yankees. A sure sign of JD hitting well is when he turns on pitches on the inner half and cranks them deep to right. That’s starting to happen, and it couldn’t come at a better time.

LaTroy worked a one-hit seventh. Edwar allowed two walks and labored through 28 pitches in the eighth to finally retire the side, but Veras cleaned house in his first stint of 2008, throwing only ten pitches and fanning Betancourt to end the game. Though at times laborious (primarily Edwar), the bullpen again did the job, allowing only a hit and two walks while fanning three in the final three. Mussina’s work was what carried the day, throwing only 14 pitches/inning on average and really not allowing the Mariners to get on track.

The offense was every bit as good off Hernandez, with the 1-4 hitters going 10-19 with five runs and five RBIs. JD is coming alive, going 3-5 with two doubles (12 thus far), a homer (his 4th), driving in two (14 on the year) and scoring three (23 on the year) to raise his average to .290, on the whole good work and great work lately. Jeter also went 3-5, scoring once (his 13th) and driving in one (his 15th) with his fourth double to raise his average to .290 as well. Abreu looked much better, going 2-4 with a walk and his 20th RBI to up his average to .292. Matsui continues to scald the ball, hitting 2-5 today with a run and his 15th RBI as well to raise his average to .320. Girardi made a very good move by inserting Matsui–a proven producer–into the clean-up spot in A-Rod’s absence. The guy can flat-out hit. Melky the Clutch was 2-4 with his 15th RBI to now hit .293. I shudder to think where the Yankees would be thus far without Melky the Clutch. Over at Mike Sommer’s terrific The Sommer Frieze blog, regular Nick K. across the pond rightly backed Melky’s not being traded in a potential deal for Santana. It’s a very good point, especially because he’s been excellent this year and does so much to solidify the outfield. Molina added a single and a run. All this occurred with Cano and Giambi going a combined 0-6 with two walks (one apiece) and no runs or RBIs, hitting a measly .150 and .154 respectively, and with Ensberg’s 0-4 (.218). Giambi left three in scoring position. I’d insert Shelley the Marauder immediately tomorrow afternoon which, for readers, is an HDLR game.

Big win today to even the year’s record at .500, 16-16. The Yankees are hanging in there despite key injuries, with Posada out several weeks with rotator cuff tendinitis, with A-Rod’s strained quad, with Hughes’s poor start and injury, with Kennedy’s poor start, and with some poor situational and overall hitting before the past couple games. Importantly, the team got Cool Hand Nuke, Joba, and Mariano a blow today for Kennedy tomorrow, and equally importantly, the Yankees have played with the lead each of the last two games, scoring seven runs in the first three innings of the last two games against Seattle. That makes a big differences for pitchers, for a team’s confidence, and for not having the sense of playing uphill all the time, so to speak. Nice job today, guys. Get the Crazy Stein tomorrow.

Published in: on May 3, 2008 at 4:01 pm  Leave a Comment  

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