Yanks Tie Astros 5-5; Wang’s Return Good; Melky Steamed at The Heartland

I’m battling a stomach bug today, so this will be brief.  Before writing up some details of the Yanks 5-5 tie today, a couple items of business.  I apologize to Nick from across the pond for not following through on his terrific idea for a Fantasy League at The Heartland, but I think I’ll have to pass.  I’ve just been too busy and, considering that others already seem to have some fantasy teams underway, it might be best for people to get their fastasy baseball fix elsewhere.  So sorry, Nick, but I thank you for asking.  I wish I had a bit more time and energy to do it.

Depending on circumstances, a good deal of posts during the 2009 season may not be as long, detailed, or for that matter as frequent as before.  Many matters are pressing and will require lots of time, effort, and late nights. I will, however, do my best to be as regular here at The Heartland as I can.

Today the Yanks tied the Astros 5-5.  Chien-Ming Wang went two scoreless innings in his first action since injuring his foot last June, allowing only two hits and walking none as his trademark bowling ball sinker was on.  He got some good defensive help from Nick Swisher, who ran down a shot off Geoff Blum’s bat in right that was marked for extra bases.  This is obviously a huge positive for Wang and the Yanks, who just weren’t the same without their laconic ace last year. As per Pete Abraham, Jose Molina and Wang characterized his sinker and work overall as follows:

Wang’s sinker was effective — “Just like last year before he got hurt,” Jose Molina said. — and he was able to cover first base without any issue.

“I was excited to be pitching,” said Wang, who no longer considers the injury anything to worry about. “My sinker was a little up. … That is normal (for this time of the year).”

Excellent signs all around for Wang.  However, as in other recent games, the bullpen struggled, this time late.  Tomko and Claggett weren’t bad, allowing a run, a hit, and a walk apiece in two innings of work each.  Wilkin De La Rosa pitched a scoreless seventh, but George Kontos imploded, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk to surrender a 5-2 lead.  Steven Jackson allowed three hits in 1 2/3 IP to finish up.

Yet the bats were good and, in what I consider a very good sign, again jumped on the opponent’s starter early.  Damon led off with a single and Melky’s triple gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead.  Swisher then walked–another good sign–Posada singled–another good sign–and Swisher chugged into third, but Ransom’s 4-6-3 DP made it 3-0 without an RBI on the play.  Berroa doubled and Melky drove him in to make it 4-0, and Berroa later homered to add some life to the utility infielder position, as well as make it 5-0.  Kudos to Melky, a regular reader of this blog, for responding with such vigor after I discussed the CF competition thus far being a one-horse race. He sent me several texts during the game–as he usually does when he isn’t busy waving to fans during the roll call.  Let’s just say neither the tone nor the language were polite enough for publishing.  Let’s see what other tough-love techniques I have up my sleeve the rest of Spring Training…

In the six ST games thus far, the Yankees have scored 21 of their 34 runs in the first four innings, including 16 over that stretch in the last four games.  Those are good signs.  The regulars and reserves alike are starting games hot, against opponents’ starters, and some major-league quality ones at that.

Also by way of The Mighty Abe, here is the upcoming slate of starters for the Yanks:

Tuesday: Hughes
Wednesday: Kennedy
Thursday: Chamberlain
Friday: Sabathia
Saturday: Wang
Sunday: Burnett
Next Monday: Pettitte

Keep it rolling tomorrow, Phil.  Let’s see how Little G follows up his good work and Melky’s rejoinder.  We just might have a CF race on our hands after all.

Published in: on March 2, 2009 at 4:37 pm  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. feel better! every time melky gets a hit i die a little.

  2. …and as I recall, waving to fans for the roll call as a ball is hit his way….

  3. from feinsand:

    Of Melky, Girardi said: “I’m sure for him it’s good to contribute and get hits and do some things. But it’s really early to start judging players. It’s important for them to get in shape.” Of course, Brett Gardner has looked pretty darn good in the first week.

  4. Thanks Mike, and both comments about Melky are funny. Melky earning the “it’s early” endorsement from Girardi; translation: there better be a lot more where that came from, son.

    Indeed he did Mike S. Denard Span last July. In fact, when he led off Saturday’s game, I thought, Please don’t hit it to Melky.

  5. I don’t get why everybody is so down on Melky. I like the competition between him and Gardner and think that can only be good. But lets remember here Melky is still a KID!!!! He’s had a good year and a bad year and is only what 24. On this team he could hit 270-280 steal a few bunt well and play kick ass defense and that would be enough. I like him and would love to watch him grow up and into Centerfield.
    Now Gardner is another one who has potential and could be a terror if he ever learns to hit 270 in the bigs.
    Let the competition play out, don’t over analyse it and may the best man win.
    I am sick of hearing the daily updates.

  6. hey swede-

    melky has had three seasons in the bronx. he was decent the first year, worse than average the next and abominable last year. do you see where this graph is headed? down. there is no reason to suppose that he will improve, no matter his age. he is a poor hitter, bunter, and base-runner. he has no speed. he takes poor routes to balls. he does have a cannon for an arm. that’s the only tool in his box. oh–and he loves to party with his pal cano. better for the team if he disappears.

  7. Glad Melky listened to you, Jason. 🙂 But I don’t think he’s out of the woods yet. Gardner’s speed is hard to overlook.

  8. In my own defense Swedski, I don’t think I was over-analyzing the Gardner-Melky competition. It’s been the source of some attention here because Melky faltered badly last year, the Yanks need a CF to step forward and play well, and Gardner has some good attributes (especially blazing speed, as Jane reminds) the Yanks have lacked for some time. Also, there are precious few actual position battles this Spring (RF being one, backup infielder being another with CF), so this deserves some attention. Melky is young but, as Mike said, has significantly regressed. His biggest problem to me has been a lack of maturity and focus in his play and approach. Last year showed that–glaringly. I’d been a fan of the kid–his demeanor, energy, and hustle–in spite his propensity for bone-head moves such as sliding head-first into first base, by any account dumb and dangerous. Just as importantly, he was an absolute dead spot in the lineup last year, a constant rally killer.

    You may not like “the daily updates,” but that’s a product of my giving some form of rundown after the games, which is what I’ve done for a couple years now. Especially when interspersed with some teasing and joking, including at myself, that’s hardly over-analyzing. Melky got some attention in this post because he finally did something this ST. And it isn’t as though I’m watching videotape in slow-motion of all their at-bats this Spring. I too like this competition and competition generally, which is why I’m discussing it.

  9. I think Pete Abraham, whose spot-on comment from a post I included below, would agree with Mike and me on Gardner: “the idea that Melky is a better defensive player is simply incorrect. Melky has a better arm. Gardner takes better routes to the ball and is much faster. You take the better outfielder over the better arm every day. The odds are much higher that a CF will track down a few balls in the gap then to throw somebody out.”

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