Yankees 7 Mariners 4: Yankees Appear More Awake; Offense Rebounds; Ponson Continues to Mock Me

Thanks to Vanessa for dropping by during last night’s HDLR, a good time and good game with the Yankees getting lots of power and extra-base hits (six out of their twelve in all) to support Ponson’s personal response to my insistence that he no longer start for the Yankees.  Abreu homered in the first after Jeter’s career-high 22nd GIDP erased JD’s lead-off walk, and Giambi blasted his 29th of the year and 393rd of his career to right-center in the top of the sixth to make it 2-0.  Ponson then made his one bad mistake, leaving one down and on the inner half to Raul Ibanez, a player I’ve always liked probably because he always seems to get big hits against the Yanks, who promptly jacked it out to right with two on, 3-2 Mariners in an instant.

But as has been the Yanks’ wont this year when they’re on (not often enough, alas), they responded right away, exploding for five runs in the top of the seventh.  Pudge got it going with a single, JD forced him and stole second and, as Jeter draw a walk, stole third.  Lefty Justin Thomas entered and hung a 2-1 slider belt-high to Abreu, who ripped it into the right-field corner for a triple to score JD and Jeter, who ran very well to just beat the relay that another of my favorite non-Yankees, Ichiro, started, 4-3 Yankees.  A-Rod was then hit by a pitch, Giambi’s ground-rule double to deep left-center, 5-3 Yankees, Nady’s 5-3 made it 6-3 Yanks, and Matsui’s single to center made it 7-3.  Big rally.

Joba got into some two-out trouble in the eighth when, after getting Valbuena on an F7 and fanning Ichiro with heat, Reed reached on an infield single, Beltre singled to right and that darn Ibanez blooped a Joba slider to center, 7-4, with Ibanez driving in all four Mariners runs.  Mariano then entered for the first time in eight days and who would have known it from watching him?  He got Lopez on a tough 5-3 that A-Rod turned smoothly, part of a very good day in the field for A-Rod, and buzzed through the ninth on 11 pitches, fanning old buddy Miguel Cairo to end the game.

Abreu, Giambi, and Matsui each had three hits to carry the day for the offense. Abreu is back over .300 at .302, and his 3 RBIs give him 87 on the year with 16 homers.  Giambi’s 393rd career homer leaves him three shy of Joe Carter for 47th on the all-time list, though he’s still batting an unacceptable .249 this season.  He makes a somewhat compelling case to keep him as DH next year with good power numbers (29 homers, 89 RBIs) and a good OBP (.373), although he tends to hit better when he’s playing the field–something few actually want although he was good last night, saving Ponson a irst-inning error for example.  I’d rather cut ties with Big G, personally.  It’s about time to get a two-way first baseman who can also hit for average, something Giambi hasn’t done for years in the tenure of his immensely expensive contract.

Matsui had his most productive day since returning from the DL with his three hits and his 45th RBI and seventh run driven in in his last eight games.  I’d rather see Matsui back next year than not as a DH and fourth outfielder, though Matsui has it in his mind, not unlike but far more polite than Mr. “Who’s Playing First Now?” Asshead Sheffield, that he can make the transition to first base if necessary.  I don’t know about Matsui’s infielding skills since he has never played anything but outfield for the Yankees, but I’m very wary of the Yankees making such a move, especially after Sheffield looked woefully inept at first down the stretch and in the 2006 playoffs against Detroit.  I’d rather the Yanks acquire an actual first baseman and, hopefully, keep Matsui to DH and fill in as long as his knees improve–itself an iffy proposition itself with off-season surgery looming.

The Yankees flashed lots of leather last night.  Jeter made a tremendous leaping catch on Valbuena’s one-out rocket in the third, holding Betancourt at third and helping to eventually strand him.  Cano made a couple sharp plays at second, including going to his right and throwing across his body in patented Cano fashion to rob Reed of a first-inning hit.  Giambi and A-Rod were themselves good in the field, all of which helped Ponson have a quality start for the first time since August 16.  His three runs earned came on the mistake to Ibanez, but Ponson was otherwise good and very efficient, working quickly and efficiently.  He only threw a Wang-like 47 pitches through 5 innings, not a misprint, and ended the sixth with 66 pitches/43 strikes, having allowed only five hits and a walk, fanning one.  Bruney was very good in the seventh, and I look forward to his good health continuing to solidify a very good Yankees bullpen. Joba struggled a bit but wasn’t exactly cuffed around, and Mariano was…Mariano yet again, working for the first time since August 29 in a perfect, four-out save for his 33rd save of the year and 476th of his amazing career.  To briefly extol the virtues of Mariano yet again, while his somewhat rough August took him out of the Cy Young running as Cliff Lee has continued to amaze (and Lee should take both the Cy Young and Comeback Player of the year awards), Mariano has allowed all of six walks in 63 innings, as a WHIP of 0.68, has struck out 71 in 63 innings and has a nearly 12 to 1 K/BB ratio, and has blown all of one save this season.  He’s been rock solid–except for tie-game situations, mysteriously–and as of right now has his second-lowest ERA at 1.43, with 1.38 being his best in 2005, the Cy that should have been though Joe from Statistician Magician argues forcefully for Santana that year.

Today the Yankees, down 10 in the East and 7 1/2 to Boston in the Wild Card with 20 games to play, go for the series win and, more importantly at this point in this trying year to me, push for Mussina’s bid for 20 wins.  Mussina (17-7, 3.39 ERA) faces the wholly hittable Carlos Silva (4-14, 6.53 ERA).  Um, Yanks, this should be one game when you blast Silva to Kingdom(e) Come early and make Mussina, as long as he’s sharp, a sure winner.  Get the guy his 20.

There is also a rare mid-game Yankee Fan Club Radio tonight for anyone able to tune in.

Published in: on September 7, 2008 at 9:55 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. No problem for stopping by J.
    It did seem as if Mariano had not lost any work by the looks of his performance. Classic Mo.
    I was surprised by the hitting tonight and that in itself tells you about the Yankees’ season. The fact that the Yanks hitting well is a surprise is sad.
    You know, after speaking of Matsui willing to play first yesterday, the Daily News is reporting that Damon is willing to escape the outfield and play first as well. What is this? No one likes the outfield anymore?

  2. On JD and Matsui, I think it reflects two things–their being good people and teammates, and the possibility of real changes this off-season that will likely see one of the possibly surplus outfielders moved. I say surplus primarily relating to Abreu’s situation, and in the most recent post above, I advocate keeping Abreu as long as it’s for two years or so–NOT long-term because of his age and the possibility of declining soon. I suspect it will be Matsui moved unless the Yankees acquire a center fielder, or Austin Jackson suddenly emerges as the center fielder (a surprise to me, but who knows). I could be wrong, but I don’t see Melky as the guy for center. This year was more than bad for him but revealing for the organization. While the contract to Cano was somewhat of a question since they went long-term and a bit pricey just as Cano–who had a great ST–had a horrible first half and a definite down year overall, the team on the other hand did well by not offering Melky a pricey extension.

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