Late Rally Propels Yanks, 8-5

Joba again wasn’t very efficient, and the Yanks’ inability to add on early threatened to cost the Yanks against Seattle, who stayed close.  Yet A-Rod ripped his 12th homer this year and the 565th of his career to make it 5-3 and, after Bruney struggled in relief to allow Seattle to tie it, the Yanks poured on three to lead off the eighth.  Mariano clinched it with his 19th save this year and 501st save, 8-5 Yanks.  It wasn’t pretty, but the Yanks showed good grit.

The Yanks scored in the second from two from some good hitting and poor Seattle defense.  Cano and Posada led off with singles, and Woodward mishandled Matsui’s slow chopper, then threw wildly to allow Cano to score, 1-0.  Swisher fanned, but Melky (who had a good game) delivered a sac fly to center, 2-0 Yanks.  Joba allowed a solo homer to Cedeno of all people to lead off the third cut the lead to one but, in spite of some awful nibbling, Joba emerged from the third otherwise unscathed.  He worked around Johjima’s two-out ground-rule double in the fourth, while the Yanks added one in the fourth, when it should have been more.  They loaded the bases with no outs when Cano led off with a single, and Posada and Matsui walked.  Swish popped out in an unproductive at-bat, but Melky grounded into a 1-6 force, 3-1 Yanks.

Yet Joba gave it right back right away in the top of the fifth, when he missed a slow comebacker from Ichiro who, after getting on with the infield hit, stole second and third, and came home on Branyan’s single.  After grounding into a 6-4 force, Lopez stole second, and scored on Gutierrez’s two-out single to tie the game.  The Yanks promptly squandered a bases-loaded opportunity in the bottom half when Matsui grounded out.

Yet Coke and Hughes were terrific in relief, holding Seattle at three.  Coke impressively got Ichiro on an F8, and fanned Branyan with gas to strand Johjima and end the sixth.  Hughes pitched a great 1-2-3 seventh, and really should have gone the eighth since he is stretched out, looked strong, and had a nine-pitch seventh.  The Yanks scored two in the seventh when JD hit a ground-rule double to left, and A-Rod absolutely crushed a 2-2 fastball way deep to left, 5-3 Yanks.

Against Bruney, Gutierrez, and Johjima strung together three singles to start the eighth to cut it to 5-4, and after Cedeno sac bunted the runners over, and the Yanks intentionally walked Ichiro, Branyan hit a sac fly to left to tie the game at five.  But the Yanks jumped on Sean White, which I felt they may right as the announcers touted his previously sub-2.00 ERA.  Matsui led off with a double and Brett the Jet pinch ran for him.  Swish bunted to third for a single, well done. Melky the Clutch then doubled to center, 6-5 Yanks, second and third with no outs, and The Captain blooped a single to center, 8-5 Yanks.  Good defense prevented the Yanks from adding on more, as I wished for four more in a text to Mike.  No matter, for Mariano mowed down the three batters he faced in the top of the ninth, getting Gutierrez on a weak check swing to lock down his 19th save this year and 501st of his incredible career.

Melky the Clutch drove in three (31 this year) with the sac fly and double, hitting .286 and turning over the bottom of the lineup. A-Rod’s 12th homer this year and 565th for his career gave him his 39th RBI thus far, batting .233.  JD was 2-4 with 2 doubles, batting .291.  Cano was 2-4 with 2 runs, batting .300 even.  Jeter was 1-5 with the big two-RBI single in the eighth, batting .307 with 32 RBI.  Matsui’s lead-off double (.248 now, and 13th double this year) started the big eighth-inning rally.  Swish, Teixeira, and Posada each had a hit, and Posada walked twice.  The Yanks were 4 for their last 6 with RISP after starting the game 0-10; in all, the team stranded eight.

The Yanks are 10-5 in games that Joba starts, in good part because he pitches out of trouble well.  However, he is also very inefficient in his approach, too often nibbling instead of overpowering batters.  His numbers make it hard to characterize Joba as anything more than decent–5 1/3 IP, 9 hits, 3 runs earned, 3 walks, and 4 K’s on 96 pitches/55 strikes.  12 base runners in just over 5 innings is poor, but Joba managed to wriggle out of his long counts and often laborious innings.  Coke was tremendous, getting the two big outs to mop up Joba’s slop.  In Coke’s last 12 2/3 IP, he has allowed a mere 5 hits, 1 run earned, 3 walks, and 14 K’s, lowering his ERA from 4.79 to 3.24.  Hughes has also been tremendous, and really should have worked the eighth, and I felt that before Bruney collapsed.  After throwing all of nine pitches in the seventh and looking great, another inning with anything short of 30 pitches would have done no harm at all.  Girardi has done well with Hughes out of the pen, but would be wise not to waste the fact that Hughes. having started primarily this year, is more than sufficiently stretched out to work a good two innings.  Maybe Girardi wants him available more often, and short stints best help that.  Yet Hughes would likely have bought Bruney a day off without being hard-pressed.  Bruney’s eighth was bad–3 hits, 2 runs earned, and a walk.  Hughes’s last 8 1/3 are most impressive–3 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and 10 K’s.  The guy is bearing down, attacking hitters, and throwing 96 routinely out of the pen.  He’s provided much-needed depth and stability.  Mariano, well, he’s the man.  This makes six straight and, sitting 12 above .500, the Yanks have hit their high water mark.

This game was huge, for the Red Sox blew a 10-1 lead, with Baltimore scoring 5 in the seventh and five more in the eighth to come back and win, 11-10.  Tremendous benefit for the Yanks, who now trail by 2 1/2, 2 back in the loss column.  The streaking Yanks, who have won six straight, helped themselves by staying 1 1/2 games ahead of TB, who won their seventh straight and nine of their last ten.  Pettite (7-3, 4.38 ERA) faces Jarrod Washburn (4-5, 3.22 ERA) tomorrow night.

Keep stringing them together, guys.

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 11:16 pm  Comments (3)  

Game 76: Mariners @ Yankees, 6/30/09

Below, as per Pete Abraham, are tonight’s lineups.  There is rain in The Bronx right now, so we’ll see if tonight’s game is either delayed or postponed. The Yanks acquired Eric Hinske from the Pirates for two low-level minor-league players, pitcher Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer.  Hinske is not in town yet, but probably after tonight’s game, Ramiro Pena will be optioned to SWB, giving the Yanks some decent pop off the bench.  I love Pena’s glove and ability to pinch run, but his playing every day in SWB until September 1 (if not needed beforehand) will only help him later, and he had hardly played lately.

Yanks must win at least two of three.  Morrow, a former reliever moved into the rotation, was good out of the pen but is getting stretched out now.  With him, Washburn (4-5, 3.22 ERA), and Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.79 ERA), the Yanks won’t have it really easy but are certainly in position to win at least two of three.  A sweep would put lots of pressure on the others in the East and, with TB playing Toronto, the Yanks have a good chance to distance themselves from someone as well as catch up to Boston, who has Smoltz pitching tonight against Baltimore.  Make some hay now, Yanks.

YANKEES (43-32)
Jeter SS
Damon LF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Matsui DH
Swisher RF
Cabrera CF

Pitching: RHP Joba Chamberlain (4-2, 3.81).

MARINERS (39-36)
Ichiro RF
Branyan 1B
Lopez 2B
Griffey LF
Sweeney DH
Gutierrez CF
Woodward 3B
Johjima C
Cedeno SS

Pitching: RHP Brandon Morrow (0-3, 5.64).

TIME/TV: 7:05, YES.

Published in: on June 30, 2009 at 5:24 pm  Comments (1)  

Yanks Earn Crazy Stein; Mariano Earns 500th Save and First RBI; Yanks Gain in AL East

Those are some pretty impressive highlights from a close pitchers duel and not the best played game, either. Yet it became a historic night, with Mariano cinching a four-out save for the 500th in his amazing, one-of-a-kind career.  Mariano also worked a bases-loaded RBI walk on a 3-2 pitching against K-Rod, who was completely worked over for his inaccuracy by, among other players, a pitcher, the greatest relief pitcher in my opinion and one of the greatest pitchers of all time.  There is nothing that the guy cannot do.

Returning to where we’re staying after my nephew’s graduation party, on a day that started with some light rain but became decent, somewhat warm, and pleasant and fun, I got in for the game in the bottom of the sixth, Yanks ahead 3-2.  I had checked the score via the Internet later in our stint at the bash, when it was 3-0 the last I checked.  Wang was pretty good, had a rough fourth but got defensive help tonight as the bullpen was on the whole quite good, holding it together despite three walks in 2 2/3 IP.  Yet they had to keep things tight against the Mets’ depleted lineup, for the Yanks’ somewhat depleted and flu-ridden lineup had started strong with three in the first, no outs, then got nothing until the top of the ninth despite earning 11 walks.  Jeter led off with a double, went to third on a fielder’s choice when Murphy tried in vain to get Jeter on Swish’s ground ball, and both scored on Teixeira’s RBI double.  A-Rod walked, Cano’s 4-6 force moved Teixeira to third for Posada’s sac fly, 3-0 Yanks.

It stayed that way until the fourth, when the Mets scored two.  Wang pitched in and out of some trouble in the first, then got help from Jeter, who lunged to his left and started a terrific, inning-ending 6-4-3 DP.  In the bottom of the fourth, Sheffield the selfish walked, went to second on Tatis’s soft 5-3, and scored on Martinez’s RBI double.  Martinez eventually scored on Castillo’s single, 3-2.  The Yanks missed a golden opportunity in the sixth, when Hernandez loaded the bases with three walks, one of which was intentional to A-Rod to get to Cano, who doubled into an inning-ending DP as part of a bad night from him.  In the bottom half, the Yanks avoided trouble when Sheffield the selfish singled off Wang, went to second on a sac bunt, Coke entered and fanned Martinez for the second out and, with Santos pinch-hitting, the Yanks countered with Hughes.  He made a wizard out of Girardi by getting Santos on a slider diving outside, which fell harmless into Melky’s glove in right for the third out.

Hughes stayed for the seventh but walked the lead-off man in Castillo.  Reyes pinch-hitting for Hernandez bunted to third to a charging A-Rod, who whirled and threw a hard, one-hop throw to Jeter, who made a terrific snare for the force; excellent on both ends.  After a 4-3, Hughes just froze Cora with a 95-mph fastball at the knees, outside corner for the third out, a great pitch from a guy who looks terrific out of the bullpen so far.

After three more walks in the eighth, the Yanks again failed to score when Cano grounded out on a sharply hit ball, but Castillo made a nice snare to his left to end the threat and end Cano’s 0-4 night. This made the bottom of the eighth a bit tougher to take, when Bruney walked Wright on four pitches, got Sheffield the selfish to pop out chasing a high fastball, but then walked Tatis.  After fanning Martinez on three pitches, Mariano entered and fanned Santos on a 3-2 cutter on the inside corner.  The Yanks took advantage of K-Rod’s erratic pitching, culminating in Mariano’s great at-bat.  He got ahead of the count 2-0, then K-Rod got back to 2 before Mariano took a good swing and fouled off a pitch, then got two up and in to walk in a run, big insurance, 4-2 Yankees. GLG and I were watching the game together in the kitchen, and she said, “Imagine if they walk the pitcher here.” I responded, It would be a tremendous disgrace to give up an insurance run to a pitcher, and it would be great to see that jerk K-Rod cough one up.  When the 3-2 pitch started to sail in, and I realized it wasn’t going to be a bender but a ball, it was a great moment of sheer elation and schadenfreude–seeing K-Rod walk off the mound, it looked like he wanted to keep walking to the dugout, as Mariano calmly and without expression took first base as Melky scored.  How poignant it was that Mariano, who can’t stand K-Rod and is said to have requested not to have his locker at the All-Star game any where near K-Rod’s, patiently worked a walk and showed his grace and poise by trotting to first with his head down, and allowing himself a sheepish smile at first after his battle against his counterpart but also alter ego, the bombastic, histrionic Mets closer.  Were it not for a bad check-swing strike call at third on Teixeira on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt from the rattled K-Rod, it would have been 5-2.  But as it was, K-Rod had to throw 38 pitches, was wild with three walks (one intentional to Jeter to face Mariano), and surrendered what Mike termed in a text a “delicious” moment during Mariano’s historic night.  I’ll bask in that for months.

Mariano nailed down his 18th save in 19 chances this year, and became only the second pitcher in MLB history to notch his 500th career save, by getting Castillo on a 4-3, getting Reed looking on a 2-2 cutter outside, worked around a bloop single to Murphy, and ended it on Cora’s first-pitch 4-3, with Teixeira handing Mariano the game ball and starting a long string of energetic hugs for the greatest closer and, to me, reliever ever.

I’m going to avoid a statistical run-down, for it’s somewhat late and I’m tired.  Great Crazy Stein of the Mets, taking 5 of 6 this season.  Great that Boston and Toronto lost, moving the Yanks to within three of Boston and three ahead of Toronto.  The Rays, having won again (7 of their last 10), stand only two behind the Yanks in third.  The Yanks return to AL action at home Tuesday night against Seattle to start a three-game set before hosting Toronto for four before heading West to Minnesota, then the Angels.  Good to see Wang pitching better, going 5 1/3 and allowing 4 hits, 2 runs earned, 3 walks, and 3 K’s with 11 ground ball outs on 85 pitches/49 strikes to earn his first win of the year.  Slowly but surely, as the starters have improved, the Yanks have again put together a strong rotation, with a deeper bullpen with Hughes, Aceves, Robertson and Coke joining Bruney and the great Mariano for a tougher gauntlet.  I’ll take it.

Nice response after the listless shutout loss, 4-0 in Atlanta, with the Yanks having won 5 straight and getting some of the best starting pitching they’ve had all year.  CC and AJ paired probably the best back-to-back starts in the first two games of the Mets series.  I like Girardi’s use of Mariano for four outs after Bruney walked two, and after Mariano had two games off after going 1 1/3 Wednesday, and 1/3 Thursday.

I’ll end by saying again what a genuine, special, sublime privilege it has been and continues to be to watch Mariano Rivera pitch.  He’s easily one of the very greatest Yankees to don pinstripes, his steady dominance something that has been nothing short of a core component of the Yankees every single year Mariano has played a prominent role.  There has never been, nor will there ever be, another player, another pitcher, another Yankee like the great Mariano, whom I would pit against any batter in the history of the game and on whom I would put my moneyAny player, any era, I’ll take Mariano.

Published in: on June 29, 2009 at 12:22 am  Comments (2)  

Away For a Few

Posting will be sporadic for the next few days, since the family and I will be traveling and visiting with the extended family.  Great to see the Yanks win, and the offense finally awaken, in yesterday’s game.  A tip of the cap to Cervelli for his first major-league home run, to Swish for his 13th homer of the year, and to A-Rod for producing a big two-run single.  He was part of a very productive top four that went 7-17, scoring 6 of the 8 runs and driving in 4.  They need a lot more of that from the offense.

Joba had a strong start, allowing seven hits, no walks, and three runs two earned in 6 1/3 IP, fanning five on 99 pitches/68 strikes.  Coke was good, Bruney struggled quite a bit allowing two hits, two walks and a run, but Mariano entered and nailed down his 16th save of the year and 498th of his amazing career by fanning all four batters he faced.  He then laced a ball for an out with the bases loaded.  The guy is amazing, nothing short.

They need to start winning series and, better yet, string together several wins.  They’re closer to TB and Toronto than to Boston.  Such a streak can start with a strong outing from Pettite, and another strong response from the offense.  Bring home the W tonight, Mike.

I’ll be in touch.  Enjoy the games and the warm weather–92 here today, as it has been for a couple weeks.

Oh, before I forget, so long Veras and Berroa.  I could say you’ll be missed, but that would be lying.

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 3:46 pm  Comments (4)  

Tonight’s HDLR Cancelled

Sorry to do this folks, but my son reminded me that today is the opening day for “Transformers 2,” which I promised I would take him to see.  Since the kids will be gone for about a week, and I’ll miss them tremendously, I’m going to take advantage of the time to spend with them tonight.  I’ll work in an HDLR some time next week.  Maybe the Yankees will be hitting by then…

Published in: on June 24, 2009 at 9:53 am  Comments (2)  

Yanks Whimper to 4-0 Loss

Joke, just a stinking joke how poorly this team is playing lately, especially offensively and defensively.  The pitching has been decent or better, especially the bullpen.  Yet this team so rarely has the lead, so rarely delivers with RISP, and so often gives away bases and opportunities to opponents.  Tonight was no different as the defense did Wang no favors in the third, he exacerbated the issue by allowing a two-out rally to fester, and the offense continuously failed to score as the Yanks dropped a weak, 4-0 effort in Atlanta.  As much as anything, I feel bad for Mike and the Lehigh Valley Yankee Fan Club, who had to sit through that wretch.

As in recent years past, the Yanks are not hitting as a team.  Worse, they’ve giving off the vibe–or better yet stench–that when they fail to score in early innings, they will falter, get behind, and not come back.  This, mind you, is from the same team that exhibited such elan and persistence thus far this year, making this recent funk all the more maddening.  To wit, the Yanks left the bases loaded in the top of the second with Wang’s easy grounder back to the mound.  OK, chalk that up to the flat-earth approach to specialized baseball that is the NL’s continued insistence upon letting pitchers hit.  But in the third, the Yanks really blew it.  Jeter led off with a smoked double that could have been a triple, but he had to hold up as Anderson, who awakens like a vampire when he plays the Yankees, made a strong relay (over-)throw to hold him. That was Jeter’s 425th career double, passing Babe Ruth for fourth on the Yankees’ all-time list.  Swish grounded out on a 1-3, which hurt for Jeter couldn’t advance.  Teixeira walked not unintentionally on four pitches to face the flailing A-Rod, who wanly fanned on three pitches as Jeter and Teixeira stole third and second, respectively.  Then Cano swung at the first pitch, flying out to left, hastily ending the rally that Swish and A-Rod also impaired.  I know that Cano is a .423 first-pitch hitter.  Yet there are times when patience matters, when pressuring the pitcher through patience matters.

In the bottom half, the Yanks got behind and never recovered.  With two outs and the count 0-2, Escobar singled on a ball A-Rod really should have had.  He stole second, and Jorge launched a throw into center field from his knees even though a decent throw would have nailed him, giving Escobar third.  Chipper walked, McCann doubled to left center, 1-0, and Anderson the Yankee killer doubled to right center to make it 3-0. That really was Wang’s lone bad inning, for although he also avoided trouble in the second, thanks to a nice cover at first by Cano on a chopper that Wang and Teixeira both chased, he wasn’t severely tested after that.

The Yanks blew it again in the fourth when Melky doubled with one out, Brett the Jet hit one into the hole and Chipper dropped what would have been a sure out on Melky at third, giving the Yanks runners at the corners with one out.  Wang bunted The Jet to second for the second out, acceptable considering his travails in Houston last June.  Jeter had a good at-bat to walk the bases loaded but, like Cano the inning before, Swish swung at the first pitch and grounded into a force.  Through the first four innings, the Yanks stranded eight.

The Yanks produced more unrequited moments in the sixth when Brett the Jet singled with one out, stole second during Matsui’s pinch-hit at-bat for Wang, Matsui walked for Jeter, who promptly hit into a DP, his eighth of this year.  After Hughes pitched two stellar innings, getting some help from Teixeira who made a sterling play at first to handle a tough hop on McLouth’s hard grounder for a nice 3-1, Robertson surrendered a solo shot to McCann in the bottom of the eighth to put the game fully out of reach. 4-0 Braves.

Posada earned the ignominious golden sombrero for his 4 K “performance.”  I know he’s been much, and unfairly, maligned lately for his game calling lately, and I know he’s far from the only Yankee not hitting.  But Jorge was nothing if not fully emblematic of the Yanks’ struggles of late–futile at the plate, feckless in the field.  The entire Yanks’ offense was, as the great Canadian alternative band The Lowest of the Low sing, “like watching murder through your fingers at the theater.”  Four hits, six walks, and practically everyone stranded–except for those erased by DP, 0-8 with RISP stranding 11.  That’s grotesque.

On the whole, Wang was pretty decent, surrendering three runs earned on six hits, a walk,and 4 K’s in 5 IP on only 62 pitches/42 strikes.  Girardi rightly pinch-hit for him in the top of the sixth because of the team’s offensive paucity, but in an AL game, Wang would have stayed in for more work.  He seemed to get flustered in the third after the defense let him down, but in all wasn’t bad.  Hughes was again terrific in relief, pitching two perfect innings in relief.  It was good to see him hitting 95 and 96 on the gun, with a jump in velocity from some shorter stints, no doubt.  Robertson, who has been very good lately, coughed up the homer to McCann, but did it really matter at that point?  Not really.  The offense has sucked rotten eggs.

Frank the Sage is chewing the fat on the horn right now, espousing firing Girardi.  I’m not sure about that yet, but this uninspired ball is a joke, and some of that falls on the manager.  They’re 2-5 the last week against sub-.500 teams that they should be decimating.  They look foolish right now, and more than just at the plate.  The defense has been bad as well.  It goes beyond the fact that they are playing poorly.  They’re looking indifferent to their own fate right now, and that falls on management, bloated payroll or no.  Funny how people clamored for Torre to accept a contract with an incentive-laden salary because Torre allegedly needed to be motivated for the Yanks to make the playoffs.  If so, what is Girardi’s excuse?  Again, this is primarily a failure on the part of the players.  But how is Girardi reversing this precipitous slide?  Toronto won, Boston is trouncing a DC bullpen that somehow baffled the Yanks, and New York will end tonight five behind Boston and tied for second, during the very stretch of the schedule tailor-made for the team to make hay and challenge for first.  Instead, they’ve faltered badly.  It goes beyond needing some advanced scouting to provide the offense and Kevin Long some extra eyes.  This team is on the verge of yet again falling off the pace in the intensely competitive AL East, with all that payroll, all those necessary additions to the rotation and lineup.

I’m not big on firing a manager in June.  This team has 92 games left, and lots of talent to straighten this out.  Yet I can’t be told that Girardi doesn’t have more heat on him after this swoon.  Nor can I be told that it isn’t justified.  It is.

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 9:35 pm  Comments (1)  

Game 70: Yankees @ Braves, 6/23/09

Below, as per Pete Abraham, are tonight’s starting lineups.  I hope they don’t have Wang swinging away.  More importantly, I hope he pitches well and the Yanks improve their recent record against sub-.500 teams.  2-4 against Washington and Florida is a disgrace.  A-Rod, but also Posada and Melky (surely dealing with the ramifications of the sore shoulder from crashing into the wall a month ago), must step it up and get that lineup turned over.  Mike is at the game.  Bring back the W!

YANKEES (38-31)
Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Cano 2B
Posada C
Cabrera LF
Gardner CF
Wang RHP

Pitching: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (0-5, 12.30).

BRAVES (33-36)
McLouth CF
Escobar SS
Jones 3B
McCann C
Anderson LF
Kotchman 1B
Francoeur RF
Johnson 2B
Hanson RHP

Pitching: RHP Tommy Hanson (2-0, 4.08).

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 5:35 pm  Comments (1)  

Heartland Digital Living Room Open Tomorrow Night

The HDLR will make a return for tomorrow night’s game against Atlanta, sandwiched by Mike’s trips to Atlanta for tonight’s and Thursday night’s games. Bring home a couple W’s, Mike.

Hope to see you tomorrow night.

Published in: on June 23, 2009 at 9:17 am  Comments (3)  

Yanks Drop 6-5 Rubber Game to Florida

CC left the game in the second with what the team has characterized as “biceps tightness” that doesn’t appear overly serious, but for which I’d have had an MRI done as a precaution.  Aceves relieved with the score 1-0 Marlins and was tremendous, an “unsung hero this season” as Mike quite rightly texted me during the game, working 2 2/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief.

Yet the dark cloud that is Brett Tomko appeared in the bottom of the fifth with the Yanks ahead 3-1, the result of a good two-out rally in the third.  He promptly allowed two homers, a two-run shot to Hanley Ramirez in the fifth that Tomko left belt-high, tapering to the inner half–a wheel house pitch to tie the game–and a solo homer the next inning to Cody Ross, also belt-high, that Ross creamed to deep left.  Coke and Robertson allowed two more in the seventh, with Robertson allowing a single to Cantu to left that Melky threw wide of home, allowing two to score instead of one.

It would prove costly, for the Yanks’ dormant offense awakened and rallied for two with two outs in the ninth that would have tied it without Melky’s throwing error.  Posada and Melky singled before Brett the Jet laced a triple to the gap in right center, 6-5 Florida.  Yet right after JD walked to put runners at the corners, and with the closer Lindstrom having thrown 20 pitches, Jeter swung at the first pitch to ground out and end the game.

I don’t get what Hughes’s role is on this team.  Granted, he pitched an inning last night and maybe they’re utilizing some “Franchise Rules” for him by not having him work consecutive days.  Since he has not pitched consecutive days while working out of the pen, perhaps this is the case.  However, he’s been great lately.  In his last 8 2/3 IP, Hughes has allowed just 5 hits, two runs earned, a walk, and fanned 12, all the while aggressively attacking the strike zone and keeping batters on the defensive, which he did not do last year.  While presumably Bruney is the setup guy, is Hughes simply some keep-it-close pitcher?  I’d say he’s rather more than that and, considering he is still somewhat stretched out, would have been an ideal choice–not Tomko–to work the fifth and sixth and hold the lead.  Tomko has easily filled Veras’s role as untrustworthy reliever, while Hughes has been terrific.  Was Hughes not available after pitching the night before?

A-Rod had two of the three RBI in the three-run third, breaking his 0-16 slump but was 1-4 today and, despite his fatigue that caused him to finally get a couple days off, was seen cavorting with Kate Hudson until 2:30 in the morning.  Hey, A-Rod, if you’re fatigued, get some sleep.  I really don’t care much about the personal lives of players, honestly, and they’re entitled to a little fun.  But I can’t help but think that, given A-Rod’s various distractions and somewhat flaky temperament when he struggles, that his on-field issues aren’t part of a larger bag of irresponsibility and fallout from everything, from steroids to his divorce to probably some self-imposed pressure given his struggles and weighty contract.  If so, and honestly even if not, so much for his eliminating all those pesky “distractions” as he vowed before the season.  Whatever.

Personally, I’m a bit more concerned with the fact that the Yanks’ offense has tapered off badly in the last couple weeks, just as the pitching has been mostly better and the competition, especially the GNats and Marlins, considerably weaker.  Going 2-4 to these chumps is a disgrace, and the Yanks were a mere .260 (26-100) against the Marlins.  Against the GNats, they hit a lowly .203 (19-93) and, in the last two series, combined to score all of 18 runs against two sub-.500 teams, one of which in the GNats pundits have not inaccurately compared to the 1962 Mets.  The offense has been shut down by lousy pitchers such as Craig Stammen and Chris Volstad.

I’m not trying to lay all the blame on the person whom I’ll briefly discuss, for the problems primarily rest on the field and in the collective swoon the offense is enduring.  A-Rod’s centrality in that has had ripple effects to Teixeira, whom teams are avoiding, yet others such as Melky and Posada have scuffled a bit lately as well.  Yet I am unimpressed by the Yanks’ effort and preparation for these two series.  It’s inexcusable, and why Girardi isn’t getting more flak for his team’s somnambulant efforts, I have no idea.  After all, wasn’t one of his alleged attributes his intensity after the laid-back, hands-off Torre?  I’m of the opinion that the players have ultimately lost the games for myriad reasons, including some shoddy defense after a historic errorless stretch.  I’m also of the opinion that too much intensity isn’t necessarily good for the team.  But there is something to be said about ensuring that the team is ready to play.  They have not been, period, and against lousy teams.  Focusing this team on playing better, more fundamentally sound basbeall and what is at stake is Girardi’s job.  I haven’t seen a lot of focus from the Yanks of late.

They appeared to underestimate both the GNats and Marlins and, with everyone else in the East winning today, it has brought the Yanks back to just seven above .500, and back to the pack in a tightening AL East instead of closer to Boston, whom the Yanks trail by four games.  The players deserve the bulk of the blame.  Girardi, however, deserves some too.  The Yanks haven’t played with much urgency the last week and it’s cost them.  Now they have a day off before three in Atlanta and three more in New York but at the Mets to think about the direction in which they wish to go.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 11:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Happy Father’s Day

To all the fellow Dads out there, a very Happy Father’s Day to you.  As a proud father, there really is no greater honor or repsonsibility than being a parent.  Today also happens to be my anniversary, so I have a double celebration today, being triply blessed with a great, supportive wife and two tremendous children.

Published in: on June 21, 2009 at 10:09 am  Comments (1)