Angels 12 Yankees 6: Acronyms Hit Parade

The Angels got going against Pettite, blasting through for six runs in the third on two three-run, two-run homers and adding on consistently thereafter in a 12-6 blowout. Some gaffes didn’t help the Yanks, both in the field and an extremely poor call at the plate against Pudge, calling him out when he was clearly safe. However, Pettite wasn’t good especially in the third, and Britton ate up innings for the team while taking a beating against a clearly hot team. Garland shut down the Yanks early, allowing the big early lead to hold up. I blogged before the game about the importance of scoring runs early. The Angels got that and how, staking themselves to a lead that was never seriously threatened.

Pettite was in trouble in the first and second, but avoided consecutive two-out walks in the first, and consecutive lead-off singles in the second, to keep the game scoreless as Garland retired the Yanks with ease. Pettite helped his own cause by picking off Anderson in the second inning for the first out. That ended in the third when, after two singles and two outs, Torii Hunter blasted a no-doubt bomb to right center, 3-0. After Anderson and Kendrick singled, ex-Yankee Rivera homered to deep left, 6-0. Ouch.

The Yanks sluggishly attempted to stay in the game, with Abreu homering to right in the fourth. Yet after A-Rod doubled, Giambi and Cano flew out to nip the threat in the proverbial bud. Melky tripled with two outs in the fifth and JD singled him in to close it to 6-2, but the Angels blew it wide and indisputably open in the sixth. Mathis doubled to right-center, Figgins singled him in 7-2 then stole second, Aybar walked, Teixeira popped out, and Vlad blasted a homer to deep left, 10-2. The Yankees briefly threatened to close the gap in the seventh when Nady continued to rise as a Yank, blasting a long homer to left center, 10-3. Pudge and Melky singled with Pudge going to third. JD then grounded to Oliver who whirled and threw to second and, as Pudge broke for home on the throw, Aybar threw home as Pudge slid in safe. But though Pudge’s left hand clearly slid across home as Mathis fielded the ball and before Mathis applied the tag, home plate ump Ed Hickox called Pudge out on one of the worst calls I’ve seen in a looooong time; HORRIBLE!

The Angels added on in the eighth to remove what shred of doubt remained about the game’s outcome. Figgins singled and Aybar tripled to right center, 11-3. Melky was positioned way over in left center, a good fifteen feet on the left field side of second base, and the ball stayed aloft long enough that Abreu really should have noticed where Melky was playing and caught, or at least hustled better to, the ball. Even in a blowout, there’s no way that ball should have landed. Teixeira’s single scored Aybar, 12-3. The Yanks scored three in the ninth, two on force plays, but the Angels won this with ease.

Pettite was bad tonight, mostly in the third but really in lots of trouble throughout, surrendering 11 hits, nine runs earned, walking three, fanning four on 110/62 strikes in 5 1/3. Britton took one for the team tonight, pitching 3 2/3 IP in yeoman’s work to spare the pen. Melky was 3-4 with 2 runs. Nady was 2-3 with his second homer as a Yankee. He’s helping the bottom of the order and has been fairly good in left. Abreu was 1-5 but pasted his 14th homer and continues to lead the team with 73 RBIs. A-Rod had a double, lots of singles were scattered about, but the offense was held in check while the Angels ran wild. Cano was 0-4, and is now 3 for his last 22.

Not a good start to the series. The Superfluous Acronyms stayed hot, belting 18 hits and working 3 walks, putting runners on base every inning except the fifth. One post-break hot team has been stymied by an even hotter one, which is also a better one this year. I’m interested to see what this portends for the Yanks now–if this means the Yanks aren’t quite up to snuff to compete with the Angels, or if they’ve just run into hot pitching and hitting. My gut tells me the former while I’m holding out hope for besting the latter. Either way, the Yanks can’t afford such swoons where they’re blasted and not competitive. Ponson (6-2, 4.59 ERA) faces Ervin Santana (11-5, 3.57 ERA) tomorrow, and already the knot is building in my stomach.

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 11:57 pm  Comments (8)  

Angels @ Yankees: New-Look Lineup; Britton Called Up; FFTD In-Game

For those interested in an in-game chin-wag tonight, be sure to head over to Vanessa’s open thread at Flair For The Dramatic, an excellent blog with a link on the right side. I unfortunately cannot since I’m hosting a friend in from out-of-town.  Below is the Yankees’ lineup for tonight’s game to kick off the big four-game series versus the Superfluous Acronyms.   Note that, not unexpectedly, Pudge is starting and batting eighth.  Note as well how much better the bottom of the lineup looks with him and Nady in it.  While part of me would rather see the lineup have Cano between Nady and Pudge in order to prevent bullpen match-ups for consecutive batters in later innings, this matters considerably less to me than just having the bottom of the lineup hit.  Plus, Pudge has hit lefties (.293) and righties (.295) at about the same clip this year.

Also, according to Lisa Kennelly of The Star-Ledger, the Yanks have designated Chad Moeller for assignment and have called up Chris Britton, who has done well everywhere this year but has been banished under the stairs ala Harry Potter when in The Bronx, and kept in SWB despite very good numbers (3-1, 1.80 ERA, 23 K/25 IP, 1.24 WHIP). Some of this is understandable since Edwar, Veras, Robertson, and Giese have done they job.  They’ve also had the chance to do so.  Maybe Britton will actually get to pitch this stint, presuming he didn’t inflate Girardi’s Aunt Marge.

Damon DH
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
A. Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Cano 2B
Nady LF
I. Rodriguez C
Cabrera CF

Pettite (12-7, 3.76 ERA, 1.288 WHIP) goes tonight against Jon Garland (9-6, 4.30 ERA, 1.455 WHIP, 60 K/44 BB/132 IP).  Lefties are batting .285 against Garland, and righties at an even better clip at .294.  He’s yielded 14 homers this year and historically has been somewhat prone to coughing up the long ball–26 in both 2005 and 2006.  He throws fairly hard but cannot afford to leave his stuff up.  He’s most effective when getting ground balls.

The Yankees would do well to get an early lead.  Why?  In the twelve games since the All-Star break, the Yankees are 9-3, doing quite well.  But I’d contend a good reason for their success isn’t just that they’re scoring lots in wins, but when they score, that matters.  In the 9 wins, the Yankees have scored 60 runs–23 in innings 1-3, 23 in innings 4-6, and 14 from the seventh inning onward.  In their wins, they’ve often held early leads, forcing Minnesota, Oakland, and to a degree Boston to play from behind.  Conversely, in the three losses, the Yankees have scored 12 runs–half in Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to Baltimore.  Worse, they scored all of one run in the first six innings of their two losses to Baltimore, and only three during the first six innings in the three losses combined.  Score often, but score early as well I say.

Published in: on July 31, 2008 at 3:50 pm  Comments (16)  

Yankees 13 Orioles 3: Yankees Salvage a Little Dignity, Gain Lots With Pudge

I’ve been very busy all day, so this is the first chance I’ve had to write in some peace. Big day, starting first with the Yankees managing to at least win one game and finally getting some offense, pounding Baltimore 13-3. Joba had a strong start, going 6 and allowing one earned run. The offense, for all its improvement after the break, has come too much in fits and spasms for my tastes, but at least this was a good, productive fit before the big four-game series against the Superfluous Acronyms. Abreu belted two homers as part of his huge day, continuing to make a case for a deal to stay a Yankee after this year, in my opinion. A-Rod creamed his 541st homer, Nady just might be loosening up with his 2 doubles and 2 RBIs, and several Yanks added singles. Edwar got the boot for tossing one over Millar’s head, presumably in retaliation for Cabrera’s beaning A-Rod. Additionally, the Yankees traded my boy Nuke LaFarnsworth to the Tigers for catcher Pudge Rodriguez, a big and I would say excellent move for various reasons I’ll discuss below. So long, Nuke.

The Orioles scored first on Huff’s two-out single after Roberts reached via Cano’s error. But the Yanks responded with three in the bottom half. Jeter and Abreu each walked on four pitches, and A-Rod drove them in with a single that Markakis sailed to the backstop, allowing Abreu to score all the way from first, 2-1 Yanks. With Cano up, a passed ball allowed A-Rod to score, 3-1 Yanks. After Markakis’s single scored Fahey to close it to 3-2 in the top of the third, the Yankees again responded right away, always a good sign. JD walked, Jeter K’d for the first of three times today, but Abreu lined one into the foul-pole screen in right to make it 5-2.

Each side went in order in the fourth and fifth before the Yankees exploded in the sixth and seventh.  Abreu led off the sixth with a double and Giambi singled him in after A-Rod lined out to left, 6-2 Yanks.  Cano’s single moved Giambi to third, and Nady’s ground-rule double plated Giambi, 7-2.  Melky was intentionally walked to load the bases to face Molina, who K’d. JD’s walk scored Cano, 8-2, and a wild pitch during Jeter’s at-bat eventually ending in a K scored Nady, 9-2. The Yanks salted it in the seventh when Abreu and A-Rod led off with back-to-back homers, 11-2, Sexson singled, Cano’s 3-1 moved Sexson to second, and Nady’s second double scored him, 12-2.  After Molina was hit by a pitch but Castillo not ejected, Christian’s single scored Nady, 13-2.  Castro homered off Robertson in the eighth to cap the scoring.

Abreu was huge, going 3-4 with 4 runs (64), 3 RBIs (71), 2 homers (13) and a double (29th), batting .288 now and on fire lately.  He’s 11 for his last 21 (.523) with 8 runs, 7 RBI and 7 XBH.  A-Rod has also been on a tear, going 2-4 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs (65 now) with his team-high 23rd homer of the year and 541st of his illustrious career, batting .328.  He’s 16 for his last 35 (.457).  Nady’s 2-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs, and 2 RBIs follows nicely on his HR in Monday’s game, and the Yanks need him to roll over the bottom of the lineup, and Pudge will no doubt help that endeavor.  Christian, Giambi, Sexson, and Cano each had a single, while Jeter was 0-3 with a walk and 3 K’s, yeeesh.  With 11 hits and 6 walks, the Yanks’ offense bounced back well.  Now they need to be consistently good with their production.  The more I thought about last night’s bothersome loss, the more I hoped that the late-inning rally would at least warm up the bats for today.  Maybe that occurred, but they need fewer outbursts and more consistently good games.  Granted, they faced three good pitchers in a row, two of whom have been historically bothersome.  That said, their schedule the rest of the way will show them lots of good pitching, so no excuses.

Joba was again very good–6  IP, 5 hits, 2 runs 1 earned, no walks (only 2 over his last four starts, 25 2/3 IP), and 6 K’s.  The kid is nothing short of vital for the Yanks, really as important as any other starter the Yanks have.  He’s just that good, and has had to be at his young age. Good for Edwar sticking up for A-Rod.  Robertson allowed his second professional homer, and his second in two appearances.  Clearly, his career is over.

Speaking of which, the Yankee phase of Nuke’s career has come to an end with his trade to the Tigers straight-up for Pudge.  Again Cashman, very good trade.  While Nuke was better this year than the previous two, was he 100% trustworthy? No, certainly no Joba nor Scot Shields.  He was more reliable this season and did a heck of a job lately, but was never worth the 3-year, $17 million contract he got to be the set-up guy for Mariano. Again, so long, Nuke, my love-hate whipping boy.

He may help the Tigers, but there’ no question in my mind that Pudge will help the Yankees.  He’s batting .295/.338 with 5 HRs and 32 RBIs, fairly even versus righties (.295) and lefties (.293) this year.  He’s in the option year of his contract at $13 million, so whether or not the Yanks will want him next year will surely depend a good deal on Posada’s shoulder rehabilitation as well the potential cost, which would not likely be the 4-year, $40 million he signed with the Tigers for in 2004 since he will turn 37 this off-season.  Yet he’s a heck of a defensive catcher, throwing out 36% of the base runners trying to steal on him this year.  He’s great at handling pitchers, should do wonders with the kids pitching for the Yanks, and his signing allows Molina to be fresher and the excellent back-up he can be.  Pudge should also add punch to the bottom of the lineup, probably batting eighth in what is becoming a deep lineup again.  No offense to Molina, but Pudge’s bat, while not what it was several years ago, is still a significant upgrade over Molina, hands down.  He steers the ball to right, is a good contact guy, and can hopefully make the lineup more threatening.

Let’s face it, the Yankees needed offense to replace Jorge and Matsui.  Nady and Pudge should do that, if not with power then certainly with XBH ability and good at-bats.  Without Nuke (yet again, so long Nuke), the Yanks can move Veras to the eighth inning spot, can have Marte there, Edwar can certainly pitch the seventh, and Bruney is due back anytime. Perhaps even Melancon gets a shot at some point.  But the bullpen was not a big concern; quite the opposite, it’s been a big plus this year, deep and with lots of options.  Conversely, catcher has lagged from the get-go both offensively and defensively (with Posada and Moeller, that is) because of Posada’s injury.

Cashman has pulled off two excellent trades that shored up major problem areas–left field, lefty bullpen (less a problem area than an upgrade with options), and catcher.  Huge moves for a team that, recent slide notwithstanding, is in the hunt just four games behind Tampa.

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 8:06 pm  Comments (12)  

Orioles 7 Yankees 6: Too Little, Too Late; Multiple Failures

Poor loss last night, with the Yankees dropping a 7-6 game that got belatedly tight. Rasner took the loss but was pretty good on the whole, though left in too long it seems. Marte struggled in relief, allowing the game to be blown open, and again, Mariano allowed a run in a non-save situation that ended up being crucial, for it made the three-run, ninth-inning Yankee rally a run short instead of a tie game. Daniel Cabrera was again tough on the Yankees before getting ejected for beaning A-Rod. After winning eight straight, the Yanks have now lost three straight, showing signs of the same troubles that mired the Yankees in pre-break mediocrity–poor hitting especially in the clutch, struggling against weak teams, and (a rare) lapse in pitching.

Rasner’s line–6+ IP, 8 hits, 4 runs earned, 3 BBs, and a K on 106 pitches/69 strikes–looks worse than what it was, for although allowing a run in the first and fourth, he successfully worked out of trouble and kept the Yanks in what should have been a two-run game. He also surrendered a couple bloop hits, including one to Markakis with two outs in the first that led directly to the first Orioles run. He did his job, and really deserves to get another start instead of Ponson. Even though Rasner was at 96 pitches after six, it was somewhat understandable that Girardi had Rasner pitch the seventh since the bullpen had been fairly taxed the last couple days with Giese going four Sunday night and several relievers used Monday night. Plus, Rasner had only thrown 20 pitches in the two previous innings–including a four-pitch sixth–probably leading Girardi to think he could work-batter-to-batter with Rasner. After a walk to Roberts and hitting Jones, though, that backfired. Marte then surrender another bloop single to Markakis to load the bases with no outs, and Yankee killer Aubrey Huff cleared the bases with a double, 5-1 O’s, and Mora’s double the next at-bat made it 6-1 O’s. Tough inning for Marte, and tough break for Rasner, who again was pretty good.

The Yanks were mostly shut down by Cabrera, no surprise since he only seems to pitch well against the Yankees (and the Rays, according to Waldman). But A-Rod creamed a Cabrera fastball to dead center in the sixth to make it 2-1. They then rallied in the eighth. Abreu led off with a double, and Cabrera was ejected for hitting A-Rod, which might have been in retaliation for Rasner hitting Jones–although that surely wasn’t intentional. Also, A-Rod didn’t exactly preen over his homer. So the ejection was odd, especially with no umpire warning. Giambi then singled to left to load the bases with no outs, and Cano’s single made it 6-3. But the Yanks got nothing more, perfectly emblematic of why they lost this game. Betemit struck out yet again, Melky lined out, and Nady was caught looking for the third out, disgraceful.

Mariano entered, not having worked since Friday night in Boston, and surrendered an upper-deck blast to lead off the ninth to Huff, leaving a cutter up and over the plate, 7-3 Orioles. In his 26 saves, Mariano has allowed all of one run, but 6 runs in his other 15 appearances. Ugh. But again the Yankees rallied, but again fell short because of their inability to drive in runs with RISP, especially with two outs. JD singled, Jeter worked an 8-pitch walk, Abreu’s double to left made it second and third and 7-4 Yanks. A-Rod fanned for the first out, Giambi’s single made it 7-6 and Christian pinch-running immediately stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position. But Cano and Betemit fanned to end the game, 7-6.

Giambi had his best game in quite some time, going 3-5 with 2 RBIs (61 on the year) to raise his average to .255. Abreu was 3-5 with 2 doubles (28 on the year) and his 68th RBI, batting .283. A-Rod was 2-3 with his team-leading 22nd homer, the 540th of his illustrious career, and his 63rd RBI, batting a blistering .326 now. Cano was 1-5 but drove in 2, with 50 RBIs now and is batting a respectable .266. Jeter was 1-3 with 2 walks, batting .286 and stealing his sixth base.

But the Yanks lost with the bats even though they gave up seven runs, and Mariano again struggled in a non-save situation. They stranded 10, 6 in scoring position. They hit 4-15 with RISP and did not have a two-out RBI, and nearly all the RISP hits came in the last two innings when they were well behind and desperate for runs. Marte and Mariano’s (rare) struggles certainly didn’t help, and Girardi left Rasner in too long. But the Yanks were behind and struggling from the get-go, and their failure to score runs early put the pressure on late, minimizing their already thin margin for error. Additionally, the #1-5 hitters were 11-21 with all 6 runs and 4 RBIs, while the #6-9 spots were a dreadful 2-18, with only Cano driving in runs. Betemit was a grotesque 0-5 with 2 K’s, and Melky was 0-4. Nady’s called third strike to end the 8th–as well as Abreu’s called third strike to end the fifth with Jeter on third–were killers. Terrible.

Joba needs to be the stopper and salvage something from this failed, lost series, and hopefully gain some momentum before the reinforced Superfluous Acronyms (with Teixeira now) come to town for a huge four-game series. Again, the Yankees leave me shaking my head, having dropped a game in the standings to Tampa, now four behind in third place in the East. Suck it up, Yanks.

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 11:01 am  Comments (6)  

ESPN: Teixeira to Angels for Kotchman

Sorry to disappoint all those wishing Mark Teixeira would join the Yankees at some point (count me among your ranks hoping for him in next year’s free agent market), but ESPN’s Jayson Stark is reporting that the Angels have traded first baseman Casey Kotchman and minor-league pitcher Steven Marek to the Braves for Teixeira. The involvement of the 25 year-old Kotchman (12 HR, 54 RBI, .287/.327) and reliever Marek (also 25; 2-6, 3.66 ERA, 57 K/46 2/3 IP) leads me to believe that the Angels won’t treat Teixeira as a two-plus month rental, but would be inclined to sign him to a big contract after this year and not allow him to become a free agent. Teixeira (20 HR, 78 RBI, .283/.390) should boost the Angels’ offense, which is 9th in the AL in runs (474) and batting average (.261), and 10th in OBP (.322). Big move by the front-runner in the AL–and right before their upcoming four-game series in The Bronx later this week.

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm  Comments (8)  

Numbers and Patience

Some regular readers might remember that earlier in the season, I tried to break down Jeter’s early-season impatience by, among other things, assessing his pitchers per plate appearance. In particular, I paid special attention to how many one and two-pitch at-bats he had to that point and correlated his average to a degree to the number as well as the quality of pitches he saw. It is only fair, then, to assess Cano’s recent tear, which has seen his average rise 21 points in the 10 games since the All-Star break, in similar fashion. Most of the numbers are good while some bear continued watching but, on the whole, Cano has had at-bats and, during his recent tear, has hit well regardless of the count.

Since the All-Star break, Cano has hit 19-43 (.442) with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 6 runs, tearing the cover off the ball. Unfortunately, he has only one walk, somewhat excusable since he’s routinely creaming the ball beforehand. Yet it has resulted in his average rising 21 points at the same time that his OBP has only gone up 18 points. That is, while he’s clearly hitting at a much higher rate, he’s drawing walks at an even slower rate than before, when he drew 16 walks in the first 95 games. This concerns me because, while I’d love for Cano to hit .442 the rest of the way, it just won’t happen. He will need to be a bit more patient. In his 44 plate appearances (43 at-bats with one BB) since the break, he’s seen a total of 157 pitches, or 3.57 pitches per appearance. He’s done a very good job of seeing and hitting the ball, of driving hittable pitches and handling some tough pitches. But 17 of those 44 plate appearances, or 38.6%, have been one or two pitches long. While he hit .471 (8-17) in those brief at-bats, that in all likelihood won’t continue either. Pardon the potential convolution, but Cano will eventually need to adjust to the pitchers’ eventual adjustments to his hot hitting. Patience–working counts to not only see more pitches but get good ones to hit–must be part of the approach, sooner or later.

By comparison, Giambi has gone in the opposite direction from Cano in more ways than one. He has been ice cold of late, hitting .200 (4-20) with 1 HR and 4 RBI since the break. Yet his OBP has risen five points (.386 to .391) as a result of drawing nine walks in the eight games in which he’s played, even though his average has dropped from .253 to .249. It shows that players can contribute in many ways even without hitting, and that hot streaks may come and go, but a high OBP has a high team value since it’s a product of patience and results in increased opportunities to score. I’d certainly rather have Cano’s hot hitting for the short term, but for the long term, Giambi’s higher OBP, from his patient approach, will almost surely generate more opportunities for runs. In 44 plate appearances since the break, Cano has been on base 20 times (.455 OBP). In 29 plate appearances since the break, Giambi has been on base 13 times (.448 OBP). Giambi’s hitting has been off and therefore his other team contributions such as RBIs and homers have stagnated, but his on-base percentage–and therefore his own scoring opportunities generated–have been nearly the equivalent of the much hotter-hitting Cano. I’d argue that his one run scored since the break is more a product of teammates not plating him than it is his failure to hit and, with a deeper lineup with the acquisition of Nady and Cano’s hot bat, Giambi’s runs should increase at that rate.

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 3:14 pm  Comments (9)  

Orioles 13 Yankees 4: Mussina, Robertson Abused; Offense Languid

Yeesh, what a dud. Mussina was hammered and off with his control for the first time in a very long time, surrendering six runs on eight hits, a walk, while fanning four on 95 pitches/63 strikes. He missed Molina’s spot away to Millar, surrendering a three-run homer on a pitch that tailed back over the plate and low–right in Millar’s wheel house, 3-0 in the second. He then grooved a fastball right over the plate to Hernandez, who crushed it to right center, 4-0 with back-to-back homers. It was downhill from there with an offense that Guthrie shut down, and Robertson getting cuffed around for the first time, yielding five runs earned on four hits and two walks in 2/3 IP. It’s wrong to complain about either the pitching or the performances of Mussina and Robertson, both of whom have really been excellent.  As Mike Sommer has pointed out at The Sommer Frieze, in over 148 innings in the minors and majors, this was Robertson’s first homer allowed, his first.  I also liked that Girardi seemed to reassure him when Robertson was taken out, well handled by the skipper there.  But this was a stinker from the get-go, no denying it.

Jeter got robbed of a hit in the first by Roberts, who made a great diving stop to his right and threw out Jeter from his knees. Jeter also grounded into his 16th DP of the year, erasing JD’s fourth-inning lead-off single. He’s picked up the average of late but has just not been himself this year. In what little good news the team provided today, Xavier Nady got his first hit and homer as a Yankees, belting one to deep left center. It certainly seemed like Nady was pressing a bit at the plate, so maybe this will get him going. He could also stand to minimize his front leg stride, which is way too high. Hopefully some time with Kevin Long and Robinson Cano’s Dad will help matters. JD hammered his first homer since May 27th, pasting a three-run shot to deep right. Molina and Cano got doubles, and the Yanks ended up with 9 hits but needed at least 19 tonight. Sexson got a nice hit at the end of the night, but the Yankees need more from him. Perhaps it’s that he’s not playing much and needed the regular time in Seattle to hit lefties well–to do anything well at all. But he won’t get that in New York, so he’ll need to be sharp when he does play–it’s the nature of his role and surely he understands that. He just needs to do better in what limited time he’ll get.

Thankfully Boston and Tampa also lost, leaving the Yanks three games back. Given that Nuke also surrendered a two-run homer, the Orioles were just mashing the Yanks tonight, one of those nights it seems. The Yanks have now lost two in a row, and certainly the super-hot pitching could not continue forever. Yet the Yankees need to get back to winning and soon, especially against the cellar-dwelling Orioles. They’re 4-6 against Baltimore and cannot afford to struggle against teams like Baltimore whom they should beat and soundly. That the Yankees went 8-11 versus Tampa in 2005, in addition to the team’s poor start, surely made things tighter than necessary down the stretch that year. For some reason, Baltimore’s pitching seems to give the Yanks fits, and players like Millar and Huff seem to play like Ruth and Gehrig against New York. With Cabrera going tomorrow, who knows what will happen. He could be lights out or flat-out lousy. The Yanks need Rasner to be better tomorrow night than Mussina was tonight, and their similar stuff in back-to-back games worries me, that it could be a prep for Baltimore’s batters. It will make for another loooooooong night if so. Hopefully the Yankees offense will awaken again.

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Posada To Have Surgery, Season Over

I’m going to miss Jorge the person and player, but this is the right decision.  Jorge will have surgery on his seriously damaged right shoulder, giving him a good chance to be ready for the start of the 2009 season.  After the acquisition of Nady, this seemed to make sense all around.  Hopefully he’s able to return as a good two-way catcher.

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 6:40 pm  Comments (3)  

Red Sox 9 Yankees 2: Ponson Reverts to Form

This one didn’t surprise me a bit. Going into the series, I was concerned about this game, hopeful that if (Good) Sidney Ponson showed up, he could continue to avoid the potholes he had often made and avoided in his previous starts. However, if (Bad) Sidney Ponson showed up, as he usually did against Boston, and got into trouble, the Yankees just might struggle with increasingly tough lefty Jon Lester.

The latter scenario occurred, and how, with Sidney the Bad allowing runs in each of the four innings he pitched, getting whacked for seven runs and ten hits and making me (and possibly Cashman) slightly reconsider the trade for Jarrod Washburn. Ponson has gotten by thus far as a Yankees by pitching out of trouble but trouble he had nonetheless gotten into. Boston’s lineup is just too good to let that happen and they jumped all over Ponson. Here are the numbers with the Yankees–4 2-1 W-L but in 26 2/3 IP, 38 hits, 18 ER, 12 BB, 12 K, 6.08 ERA. That won’t cut it, and it’s not hard to envision–with Washburn having started last night as well–that the Yankees trade for Washburn and DFA Ponson. Personally, I’d prefer to see Kennedy or Aceves get a shot but, with the trade deadline looming before that, expect that the Yankees would want someone more experienced. Either way, Ponson probably won’t be long for the Yankees. Granted, Ponson has had one awful start with the Yanks but, as Pete Abraham has shown, Ponson’s last eight starts (going back to his finish with Texas) show an ERA over six. That’s not good and certainly not good enough for a team in contention.

The thing is, the Yankees had chances against Lester who, though he was very good last night, wasn’t unhittable. For the most part, though, Lester avoided the worst of any trouble. The big chance the Yankees had was in the top of the fifth, when they loaded the bases with no outs. Jeter hit a perfect roller down the third base line for an RBI, still bases loaded, and Abreu earned a walk to make it 7-2 with A-Rod coming up. But he hit a hump-back liner for the first out, Nady chased a high fastball, probably a ball, to shallow center that was a bit risky for a sac fly. However, given Ellsbury’s poor arm and poor throw, I would have chanced it. Yet given the shallow hit, it’s hard to blame Meacham for not sending the runner–one of the few times one can say that about his decisions lately. Cano’s out ended what could have been an inning to get the Yankees right back into it. Boston scored two more in the bottom of the sixth against Dan Giese, who was pretty good in relief and certainly better than (Back to Stinking) Ponson, to salt it. But Giese kept it from becoming a worse blowout while also sparing the rest of the pen in yeoman’s work.

In all, the Yanks stranded seven, five in scoring position, and did not drive in a run with two outs. The Yankees had some bad at-bats, but it’s impossible to overlook that Lester is a tough #2 or 3 starter–throwing 94-96 with a sharp slider and good curve. This one looked bad on paper to me and was worse actually on the field, ending the Yankees’ eight-game winning streak and keeping the Yankees three behind Tampa, who lost to KC yesterday afternoon.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by the HDLR last night, including newcomer EJ. It was fun, but would have been much more fun with a sweep. Oh well, no shame in taking 2 of 3 in Boston, and the Yanks still gained ground this weekend. Despite last night’s blowout, there are still positives to take from the series and the team’s play after the All-Star game as a whole. The Yanks take on Baltimore tonight, with Guthrie (6-8, 3.58 ERA) taking on Mussina (13-6, 3.26 ERA) for the first of three before a stern test in a four-game series against the LA Angels of Superfluous Acronyms.

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 7:21 am  Comments (2)  

HDLR 7/27/08: Yankees @ Red Sox

Hi everyone and welcome to the Heartland Digital Living Room, where the hot dogs and chicken wings are always fresh, and beverages are always cold, and the chin-wagging is always fast and furious.  Tonight, the Yankees go for the Crazy Stein against Boston after taking the first two games in radically different fashion–a classic pitchers duel Friday night and an offensive explosion yesterday afternoon.  Tonight, the Yankees send Sidney Ponson (6-1, 4.02 ERA) to the mound to face lefty Jon Lester (8-3, 3.20 ERA).  As per Pete Abraham, the Yankees’ lineup is posted below.  Note that Nady is in and also hitting fifth, and Sexson helps sandwich Cano with righties who hit lefties well, batting seventh.  I’d like to see Nady get going early and often, which would go far to helping replace Matsui’s and Posada’s production–not necessarily the homers, but hitting.  I’ll probably be cooking and grilling for the next couple hours, but arrive early and hang out if you like.  If not beforehand, I’ll be in a bit before game time tonight.  Come on in, grab a digital leather recliner and a cold one, and enjoy the game.  Let’s Go, Yankees!

YANKEES (58-45)
Damon DH
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Nady LF
Cano 2B
Sexson 1B
Cabrera CF
Molina C

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 4:02 pm  Comments (319)