Yankees 2 A’s 1: Pettite Outstanding As Yankees Sweep

I got to watch some of the game as I participated in the round-table discussion on the pre-recorded show for Yankee Fan Club Radio today. It was a lot of fun and Mike Sommer, Ty, Uncle Joe, Tony, and Alex from Wales had me on with them to discuss the Yankees present and some past. It will be broadcast at 6 p.m. EDT as per usual, but recorded. I hope everyone enjoys it.

The Yanks swept Oakland 2-1 this afternoon, with Andy Pettite’s eight-inning gem fueling the win. The day after the Yanks exhausted most of their pen in a twelve-inning marathon, and on a day when the temperature was about 92 degrees and very humid, Pettite was an absolute monster in out-dueling Oakland’s Justin Duchscherer, who had entered the game with a 1.82 ERA. Lefty went eight strong, allowed only one run earned, four hits, walked no one, and fanned nine on 114 pitches/77 strikes. The Yanks fared little better offensively than Oakland, but got just enough support for Pettite. A-Rod’s sac fly drove in Jeter despite a tremendous, on-the-fly throw home from Sweeney in right that Jeter just beat, and Giambi cranked his 20th homer, a liner to right in the bottom of the fifth, after the A’s tied it in the top half. Mariano earned his 24th save and the 467th of his illustrious career aided by Molina pegging out Davis trying to steal second for the final out.

Unlike yesterday, when the bottom of the lineup went 10-22, the top five Yankee hitters went 7-17, providing what sparse but essential offense the Yanks cobbled together. A-Rod and Giambi now each have 20 homers and 56 RBIs, with Giambi’s 2-2 day upping his average to .257. Cano was 2-4, raising his average to .258. In the three games since the All-Star break, Cano is 8-14 with 3 runs and 3 RBIs. A career .337 hitter the second half, Cano’s living up to that personal history would go a long way to pushing the Yankees upward in the standings. A-Rod (.313) and Abreu (.272) each had a single, and Jeter added a double. Betemit, Melky, Molina, and Gardner combined to go 0-11 after yesterday’s yeoman’s work. Lest I forget, Meacham got A-Rod thrown out at home on another great peg from Sweeney in right, really another bad send when Sweeney has been on a tear in right against the Yanks. Alex made a good point during the run-up to the show, saying that the Yankees ought to hire Willie Randolph to coach third. That would be a great move though it might ruffle Girardi and potentially fuel the ravenous NY media. But everyone knows the third-base coaching would improve.

But today belonged to Pettite, who upped his record to 11-7 and lowered his ERA to 3.86. Sparing the bullpen was a vital contribution from him today as the Yanks face Minnesota, who is ahead of them for the Wild Card (though in my mind it’s the AL East first and foremost), starting tomorrow. After today’s win and Tampa’s 9-4 loss to Toronto, the Yanks are now 4 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East. An interesting factoid–in 30 innings in the sweep of the A’s, Yankee pitchers walked five batters–all during yesterday’s extra-inning game. Friday and Sunday’s game saw no walks from Yankee pitchers, not an accident that the A’s only scored five runs in the three games. The Yanks just didn’t give many runs away.

[Edit: Speaking of which, I forgot to ention this before uploading the post and grabbing my first meal of the day–barbecued pork chops, corn on the cob and pasta salad. While I and others have certainly been exhorting the Yankees to improve the offense and especially hit better in the clutch, one cannot ignore how important pitching is to the Yanks’s success. To wit: the Yanks have the best ERA in the AL in July, 3.38 going into today’s game which only improved that. This is a stark improvement from the 4.56 ERA the Yankees posted in April, which was 11th in the AL. The improved and trustworthy bullpen has had much to do with the team’s success with an ERA of 3.43 entering today’s game (4th in the AL) and, equally crucial, allowing opposing batters to hit only at a .227 clip (2nd in the AL). Yet the stretch of recent success, in which the Yanks are now at their high-water mark thus far eight games above .500, has coincided with Wang’s injury, the Yanks cobbling together a staff with number-five caliber starters in Ponson and Rasner who have been fairly good, the lack of a lefty in the bullpen, and prized youngsters Hughes and Kennedy struggling mightily before injuries shelved them. Despite all those things, the Yanks have improved their record as well as their team ERA. Thank the bullpen (see yesterday’s game wrap on Edwar, Nuke, Robertson and many on the great Mariano), a genuine and deep asset, Pettite, Joba’s continued rise as the best young pitcher in the organization, and probably most of all Mussina. Other facets notwithstanding, it really does come down to pitching with the 2008 Yanks, and thus far that’s not been a bad thing.]

Published in: on July 20, 2008 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

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