Yankees 12 Twins 4: Offense Hot, Ponson Good, Bullpen Better

Make it four-for-four for the Yankees after the All-Star break, dusting the Twins 12-4 behind a hot-hitting offense, good work from Ponson, and some fine relief work from Edwar, Robertson, and Hawkins. A-Rod got things jump-started with his 539th career homer, a long blast to left center, Cano continues to rake after the break, the Captain flashed some power, Molina was very good at and behind the plate, and Melky and Abreu made valuable contributions to the win. Ponson continued to dance out of trouble, allowing 9 hits in 5 2/3 but avoiding the worst of trouble and keeping the Twins from hitting well in the clutch. Another excellent win.

The Yanks got the scoring started early and often, plating eight in the first three innings to bury the Twins. A-Rod cranked a two-run, two-out homer to deep left-center to stake the Yankees to a 2-0 lead. The Twins tied it in the second but not without some controversy. Ponson got into some trouble, loading the bases with no outs with an HBP of Young and consecutive singles to Buscher and Harris. He then fanned Span, Gomez’s chopper to A-Rod forced A-Rod to dive for third base for the second out to score Young 2-1–the right play. Casilla’s single then scored Harris but Abreu pegged him out by a good ten feet, and Molina laid the tag on Harris’s left hand, clearly moving his fingers aside but home plate ump Mike Everitt called Harris safe, wrongly, much to the chagrin of Molina who was hopping mad and rightly so. Terrible call, 2-2 tie. Words cannot do justice to how good Abreu’s throw was–about 200 feet on the fly and, with Molina just in front and off the plate very slightly to the first-base side, on the fly and just to Molina’s left. PERFECT. Picture a perfect peg from a catcher–say, Molina–down to second, and the shortstop only has to have his glove near the bag just slightly to the other side of second base. That was Abreu’s throw, only on a line from right twice as far away, on the fly. Outstanding would be an understatement.

But the Yanks blew it open in the bottom of the second, scoring four to take command. Melky and Molina singled, Gardner lined a terrific single to left but, with Young rightly playing in, kept Melky at third. JD then reached when second baseman Casilla failed to tag Gardner going to second and his throw home couldn’t get Melky, 3-2 Yanks. Jeter’s single scored Molina 4-2 Yanks. Abreu hustled to beat a DP and his force scored Gardner, 5-2 Yanks. A-Rod them singled through the hole off Buscher at third, 6-2 Yanks. After Ponson pitched a 1-2-3 third, Cano led off the bottom half with a monstrous bomb, ripping a belt-high curve ten rows deep into the upper deck in right, 7-2 Yanks. Look out for Cano, you can hear that train coming. Melky then singled, took second when Boof couldn’t throw a pick-off pitch, moved to third on Molina’s terrific and unselfish 3U, stayed at third with Gardner’s not-too-deep F8 (the right hold for a change from Meacham, in my opinion), and JD’s bloop ground-rule double into Geoff from The BPS‘s Section 24 scored Melky, 8-2.

After the Twins cut it to 8-3 in the fifth, the Yanks erased all doubt about the outcome of the game. Jeter led off by tattooing Boof’s first pitch, a belt-high fastball out to deep right, 9-3. Abreu singled, took second on a balk, A-Rod walked, Abreu took third on a wild pitch and scored on another, 10-3, and Cano’s single scored A-Rod, 11-3. Cano’s DP ball scored Christian in the eighth–no RBI to make it 12-3, and the Twins added a meaningless run in the ninth to make the final 12-4.

A-Rod was 2-3 with his 21st homer of the year to re-take the team lead that was also his 539th career homer, driving in 3 (59 for the year) and batting .316. Cano was 2-5 with his 8th homer and 43rd RBI, upping his average to .260 and hitting 10-19 after the All-Star break. I mention those two first because they’re most key to the Yankees’ offensive success–A-Rod carrying the top half of the order and Cano the bottom half. They’ve started the second half great, especially Cano. Jeter also shows signs of a warm-up, going 2-5 with his 6th homer (and 201st of his illustrious career, just one behind the original great Yankee catcher Bill Dickey on the Yanks’ all-time list), 44 RBIs now after plating two, and batting .284. Molina was 3-4 to up his average to .227, and his only out was a productive one to move Melky to third, terrific night for the ever-more-crucial backstop. Abreu was 2-4 with his still team-leading 61st RBI and 2 runs scored. Melky was 2-5 with 2 runs scored and a terrific diving catch in center, batting .247. Gardner added a single and a run, and JD’s bloop ground-rule double puts his average at a sharp .319.

Ponson wasn’t great, but was again good enough after getting his requisite eight runs, going 5 2/3 and allowing 9 hits, 3 runs earned, walking 2 and fanning 2 on 100 pitches/57 strikes. He didn’t look pleased to exit after 5 2/3 and I respect that, surely because he wanted to finish the sixth as any competitor would, but Edwar’s dazzling change to fan Casilla, who hit Ponson well, was the right call to keep the Yankees ahead five. Robertson was again excellent, going 1-2-3 in the seventh with a fabulous K looking of Mauer (who was batting .324 entering tonight’s game), painting the outside corner with a 92-mph fastball that is more than good enough at this level. Robertson has an ERA of 1.64. Again, keep the kid. Hawkins mopped up the last two innings. I like the guy as a person and teammate from what I hear, but feel more and more, with Robertson superlative and Giese the long man (and good in his own right) that Hawkins will be gone when Bruney returns. It should be so, sadly for Hawkins but, if he had an ERA below 3.50, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

The Yanks have now won all four games after the All-Star break, are at their high-water mark nine games above .500 at 54-45, are playing their best ball of the year offensively, defensively, and with pitching, had every starter except Giambi hit, and continue to impress. This means all the more with Jorge out presumably for a long stretch, with the bottom of the lineup occasionally good but still too hit-and-miss, with some players still due to pick it up (such as Melky, Jeter, Abreu, A-Rod with RISP, Giambi lately), and Gardner (though I’d continue to counsel patience with the kid. This team is coming on, one can just feel it. They’re entering a highly pivotal stretch, with Minnesota, Boston, an eventual West Coast trip, and lots of top-flight competition. Good. Prove you belong by beating others who have been playing well. In baseball, sports, and just plain life, there’s no other way to do it. Lots of fun at The Sommer Frieze, chin-wagging about the mid-to-late 1930s Yanks especially 1939, why the great Joe Gordon isn’t in the Hall of Fame, why some bloggers don’t get more respect, and why Tim the Wizard’s ‘Billie Jean” and “Thriller” routines could help propel me to the title in “Dancing With The Stars” next season. Nights like these make being a Yankees fan a privilege. Keep it up, guys. Let’s Go, Yankees!

Published in: on July 21, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Great game tonight and I hooope the Yanks go 5 for 5 after the All-Star break b/c I’m going to the game tomorrow, but I don’t know… I tend to have bad luck. But, today’s game was awesome. Abreu’s throw was perfect indeed and I was just as fired up as Molina after the safe call by the ump. It isn’t too often that you see Molina animated but tonight, after hearing that Jorge could be done for the season, I was hoping Jose didn’t get too hyped up because he’s essentially the only catcher we have left. And wow, has someone lit a match under Cano’s azz or what? I hear the train and it’s full speed. I wanted to smack him when he hit so horrible in the beginning of the year but I could’ve hugged him tonight. Though, as you said, some players still need to pick it up, the Yanks are looking pretty hot right now. I think things are finally moving in the right direction and I’m sure the Yanks are on the verge of a major hot streak.
    Sorry for not giving the heads up J. I just decided to do the in-gamer last minute. Niice to hear about the great convo you guys had at the Sommer Frieze. Speaking of in-gamers, when is the next HDLR?

  2. Cano has been great, no question Vanessa. The offense can go far to determining this team’s fate, and I’d also say pitching has been quite good, with Ponson surprisingly so. He’s not been phenomenal, but seems to have a knack for avoiding the worst possible outcome thus far. I think the next HDLR will be Friday, and I may have another Sunday. It will be a busy weekend for me, but should have time to open things up for the series with Boston.

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