June 2009

Red Sox?…We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Red Sox!…

Ugh, not another Red Sox player!

 

UPI

 

Don’t we already have one of those?  I think one is more than enough…

 

Bench: Mike Greenwell and Johnny Damon The Gator cleaned out his locker and left before the end of the '96 season when told he would be a part-timer in '97. Damon (pictured) was a hero from the 2004 postseason turned Benedict Arnold, signing with the Yankees - after promising he would not - and fired various parting shots at the Sox.

Reuters

 

Unless your name is Jason Bay or Jon Lester, I am not interested in seeing you wear pinstripes.  It was no fun watching David Wells and David Cone in Boston; conversely I do not need any repeat appearances of Mark Bellhorn or Mike Myers in New York.

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

AP

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AP  

Much to my chagrin, the Yankees acquired third baseman Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Hinske was batting .255 in 106 at-bats and had 1 HR and 11 RBI’s (hardly earth-shattering numbers).  To Hinske’s defense, he did hit 20 home runs (with 60 RBI’s) for the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays but he isn’t exactly the “supersub” I was hoping for.   He was also a member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox.

 

Reuters

Well, I guess sometimes having an ex-Red Sox player is not so bad…

 

 

Hinske can play both corner spots, providing relief for both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.  I recognize the need for backup support at first since Nick Swisher is locked in at right field now that Xavier Nady is out for the season.  Hinske can also play right and left field.  The Yankees do not have the roster space to call up Shelley Duncan, who would have been limited to 1B/DH duty.  With Hinske on board, the Yanks should be able to rest A-Rod more often.

 

Eric Hinske #16 of the Pittsburgh Pirates is congratulated after he scored in the 9th inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day on April 6, 2009  at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Eric Hinske

Elsa/Getty Images 

 

To acquire Hinske, the Yankees gave up two minor leaguers, right-hander Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer.  They had acquired Fryer in last year’s trade of pitcher Chase Wright to the Milwaukee Brewers. 

Due to a flight delay from Pittsburgh, a roster decision might not be made until Wednesday, but Ramiro Pena will be optioned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for Hinske.  At this point, the move makes sense.  Pena needs more playing time, and the Yankees needed some pop off the bench with the loss of Nady. 

Hinske must be on one of those AL East circuits like Kevin Millar…don’t stop until you’ve played with every team in the division.  He only needs to play for Baltimore to complete the circuit, whereas Millar just has to spend some time in pinstripes.  Egads!  Please, Brian Cashman, do not let that happen!  We do not need any ‘Cowboy Up’ in the Bronx!

 

 

 

Somewhere in Boston, Julia is probably in hysterics.  We acquire a Red Sox “has been” and Boston will most likely pursue a former beloved Yankee like Nick Johnson.  It’s not fair.  One of the days, the tide has to turn.  The season has been way too easy on the illustrious Ranter from Boston

 

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In a move that should signal the Yanks to be cautious with Alex Rodriguez, the Red Sox placed third baseman Mike Lowell on the Disabled List.  Lowell had fluid drained from his right hip on Monday, and had received an injection designed to relieve inflammation in the area previously operated on.  The Red Sox decided not to take any chances and to give Lowell some added rest so that he’ll be ready for the second half of the season.  Perhaps Lowell’s struggles are another reason that led to Hinske’s acquisition.  I do wish Mike the best, and hope to see him back in the field shortly after the All-Star Break.

 

 

The Yankees also signed another third baseman from the independent leagues.  Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3B Yurendell DeCaster’s contract was purchased by the Yankees, and he was assigned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  DeCaster is 29 and was leading the Northern League with 13 HR’s and 43 RBI’s, while batting .344.  Sounds like Cash is still looking to catch lightening in a bottle…

 

 

Is there anything more temporary than being a good outfielder in Pittsburgh?  The Pirates traded yet another quality outfielder in Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals for OF Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan.  The Nats also picked up left hander Sean Burnett.  Will Milledge finally realize his potential in Pittsburgh?  If so, how long before he is traded?  At this rate, he is a future Yankee…

 

AP

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott 

Enter the Sandman…

 

Exit light, enter night, take my hand, off to never never land…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

When the words of the famed Metallica song, “Enter Sandman”, reverberate throughout Yankee Stadium, it means only one thing.  It’s the entrance of Mariano Rivera for yet another save opportunity.  On Sunday night, against the New York Mets, Mo reached a milestone with his 500th career save.  He became only the second man to reach 500 saves, behind leader Trevor Hoffman.

 

William Perlman/The Star Ledger 

 

Mo also picked up his first career RBI on a bases-loaded walk from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez, bringing home Melky Cabrera for an insurance run in the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Mets.  The Yankees swept the weekend series against the Mets, and won the season series, taking 5 of 6 games.

 

Jason Szenes/The New York Times

 

At the end of the game, there were no fist pumps, no wild displays of emotion.  Mo, in his usual business-like approach, calmly watched Robinson Cano fire Alex Cora’s ground out to Mark Teixeira to end the game.  Tex handed Mo the game ball and gave him a big hug.  The rest of the team came and did the same.  It was a very touching scene, and I have to admit that I got chills watching the moment.  I have said it will be a very difficult day when Mo decides to hang up his glove, but I am very appreciative for moments like this as we move toward the sunset of an absolutely fantastic career.

 

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, left, looks on as second baseman Robinson Cano embraces closer Mariano Rivera after Rivera closed out his 500th career save in the Yankees 4-2 victory over the Mets at Citi Field last night. Kathy Willens/The Associated Press

Kathy Willens/AP

 

As usual, Mo is quicker to credit his teammates than he is to take praise alone. 

“But don’t get me wrong, this is definitely special, being the second guy who does that in the history of baseball; it’s kind of special, but I’m a team player. My team fought hard today to give me that opportunity to be there. I tried to do my job. Really, all the 500 saves belong to my teammates.”

“I’m proud of what I have done with the team. I’m proud of my teammates. I’m proud of everything we have accomplished. Every time I have the chance to wear this uniform, I’m proud.”

Mo, we’re even prouder of you…

 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Congrats on #500…and #1! 


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The game started with a double by Derek Jeter.  Nick Swisher followed with a fielder’s choice to first, but first baseman David Murphy opted to throw to third to stop an advancing Jeter.  But a double pump caused too much of a delay so Murphy’s throw third arrived late, and it allowed Swisher to reach first uncontested.  Mark Teixeira promptly hit a double to score both Jeter and Swisher.  Tex advanced to third on a fielder’s choice hit by Robinson Cano, and scored on a sac fly by Jorge Posada.  Quickly, the Yankees had raced to a 3-0 lead and those were all the runs they would need.

 

Yankees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Post

 

Chien-Ming Wang was unable to match the pitching performances of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the first two games of the series, but it was still enough to pick up his first win of the year, and his first in 379 days.  The Mets did mount a mini-rally in the 4th on a run-scoring double by Fernando Martinez and a RBI single by Luis Castillo.  But pitcher Livan Hernandez grounded out to end the threat. 

For the game, Wang went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four hits and two runs.  He walked three batters and struck out three. His ERA remains in double-digits (10.06), but another quality start will bring it down to single digits after the horrendous start to the season.

 

Keivom/NY Daily News 

 

Phil Hughes continued his successful transition to the bullpen.  In his last five outings, he’s pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings.  That’s a far cry of the early season disasters involving Jose Veras and Damaso Marte.  Hughes has played a huge role in re-shaping the bullpen into a quality unit.  Granted, it still doesn’t match the stellar Red Sox bullpen, but at least it’s improving.

I realize that the Subway Series would have had a different look had Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, Carlos Delgado et al been healthy.  But wins are wins, and I’ll take them.  My friend Julia seems to enjoy “distance” but we are quietly gaining ground on her beloved Red Sox.  Hey Julia, I’ll use one you used on me once upon a time…even if the deficit is 3 ½ games heading into Tuesday’s action…

 

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Other News…

Xavier Nady definitely facing an uphill battle in his attempt to come back from his right elbow injury.  He previously underwent Tommy John surgery in 2001, so another surgery will be the second of its kind.  I read that the success rate for a second surgery is only about 20%.  Nady will miss the rest of 2009 and most likely all of 2010 (typical recovery time is 12-14 months).  However, it is possible that he may never return and that would truly be unfortunate.

 

Kim Klement/US Presswire 

 

Speaking of injuries, I want to put the rivalry with the Red Sox aside and wish Mike Lowell the very best.  He had fluid drained from his ailing right hip and received an injection to relieve inflammation in the joint.  It will take a few days to determine if Lowell will be able to play now or if he’ll need to be placed on the DL for a return later this summer.  I truly hope that the best case scenario works out for Mike, and that he is back on the field sooner rather than later.  I want to beat Boston, but I want to beat Boston with their best on the field.  Mike is a huge part of why the Red Sox have been so successful, and I hope he has a speedy recovery.

 

 

 

Finally, today was the funeral for Iowa high school football coach Ed Thomas (of Aplington-Parkersburg).  A 24-year old former player has been charged with the murder of Thomas, who coached the likes of Aaron Kampman, Brad Meester, Jared DeVries, and Casey Wiegmann during his 37-year coaching career.  Thomas was the NFL’s High School Coach of the Year in 2005, and won two state titles.  I grew up playing Iowa high school football, and it is shocking that something like this could happen in the Hawkeye State.  My high school coach, Pearl Smith, never won a state championship (not for the lack of trying, I can assure you), but he was a winner in my eyes.  It’s been many years since I’ve seen him, but he had a huge impact on my life and the lessons he taught stick with me to this day.  So, I am deeply saddened to see the loss of Ed Thomas and what it means to everyone whose life he touched during his long and very successful coaching career.

–Scott

Red Sox Are Better…

 

I really do not believe the headline, but it’s time to settle the bet so let’s begin the temporary journey back to the Red Sox Nation…

 

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On June 9th through 11th, the Yankees played a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.  Of course, they were once again swept by Boston, who are now 8-0 against the Bombers this season.  The scores of the latest series were 7-0, 6-5, and 4-3, respectively.  According to the rules of the wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants, the loser was to wear a t-shirt belonging to the opposing team.  If I had won the bet, Julia would be wearing a Mark Teixeira t-shirt.  I was originally slated for a Jason Bay t-shirt, but Julia, with my consent, opted for a t-shirt from the Life is Good series.  T-Shirts were included for both me and my Yankee bear, Lou.

My t-shirt simply made the following statement…

 

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Lou’s t-shirt issued the following proclamation…

 

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Lou and I got ready for the photos, but of course, you-know-who had to make an appearance and get in on the act…

 

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Wally thought it would be great if we could take a group pic…

 

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I had to take my punishment alone…

 

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However, Lou had made a new friend…

 

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Nevertheless, Lou could simply take no more, and convinced another Bear to wear his “shame”.  Of course, he lost the girl too…

 

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Meanwhile, Lou needed some time alone to overcome his embarrassment.

 

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So, the trip to the Red Sox Nation is over.  Julia, by my count, that’s 8 photos to match the Red Sox streak.  The debt is paid, and this blog can return to all-Yankees programming…

 

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Courtesy myspace.com/theyankeenation

 

Yankees Win Subway Series…

A.J. Burnett returned from his 5-game suspension on Saturday, and brought his “A” game with him.  He had a no-hitter going until the 6th inning, when Alex Cora opened with a single.  But that’s all the offense the Mets could muster against Burnett, as he finished with a 7-inning one-hitter, and a season high 10 strikeouts. 

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images 

 

I knew that A.J. was going to be tough to beat after watching him strike out two of the first three batters he faced in a 3-up, 3-down first inning.  Burnett, 6-4, was removed after the conclusion of the 7th inning despite the fact that he was still cruising.  He had thrown 108 pitches, and was working under a team-imposed pitch limit of 115 pitches.  With a 5-run lead, I thought it was the right thing to do.  It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Cora hadn’t gotten that hit.  But I recognize that a healthy A.J. is better than a complete game performance.  Brian Bruney and David Robertson each pitched an inning of hitless relief to keep the one-hitter intact.  A terrific performance by A.J., with great support from the Pen.  Hopefully, this is a recipe that we’ll see again…soon and often!

 

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The New York Post

 

The Yankees only scored in two innings, the 3rd and 6th innings, but it was enough.  Aside from a RBI single by Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees scored the rest of their runs on homers (by Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada).

 

Tony Kurdzuk/The Star Ledger

 

The Yankees have won this Subway Series by taking the first 2 games of the 3 game series, and have won their first season series against the Mets since 2003.  Yes, I think I kind of like the new Citi Field…

 

 

I had forgotten that the Mets losing pitcher, Tim Redding, had once pitched a game for the Yankees.  On July 15, 2005, he faced the Red Sox at Fenway Park and the results were disastrous.  He started but was only able to record three outs.  During those forgettable first two innings, he faced 11 batters, and allowed 6 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks.  The Red Sox went on to a 17-1 victory that day…

 

Brian Snyder/Reuters

 

Redding was designated for assignment the next day.

 

Other News…

The flu bug has been tearing through the Yankees clubhouse like the Red Sox playing at Yankee Stadium.  It hasn’t been pretty.  Derek Jeter has missed two games, although you could tell that he was frustrated to sit out Saturday’s game.  Girardi’s hand was forced when the medical staff advised him that Jeter should not play.  Also sitting out the game with the flu was Johnny Damon. 

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

Now comes word that Phil Hughes has been bit by the bug.  Perhaps there was some sort of virus on that David Ortiz jersey that they dug out of the Stadium…

 

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Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals!  They outfoxed all other major league clubs, including the Chicago Cubs, to acquire the Cleveland Indians’ super utility man Mark DeRosa.  He’s the guy that I felt would be perfect for the Yankees.  As hard as the Cubs tried to re-acquire him, I am still amazed that they ever traded him to begin with.  Losing him to the Cards must be salt in the wound. 

 

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Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune

 

As the other contenders start to add talent in the coming days leading up to the trading deadline, I am hopeful that GM Brian Cashman is working overtime to convince the Steinbrenners to loosen the purse strings and allow the team to pursue additional depth.  DeRosa is lost, but there is still plenty of talent available for the right price.  Shelley Duncan is having a tremendous season with the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees (21 HR’s, 64 RBI’s, .289 BA), but he unfortunately fills the same role as Nick Swisher so he most likely won’t be getting an opportunity with the big league club anytime soon.

 

 

 

With his next save, the great Mariano Rivera will reach 500 saves for his career.

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

The final game of the Subway Series pits Chien-Ming Wang against Livan Hernandez.  Although Chien-Ming has pitched better lately, he’s still seeking his first win of the season.  Hopefully, he’ll get that out of the way today but I’ll hold my breath anyway…

 

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I know that Julia has a preference for the number “5”, but I am hoping for “3” to be the magic number at the conclusion this day’s games.  Best wishes to the Braves’ Tommy Hanson.  May he show the Red Sox what he showed the Yankees last week…

 

Courtesy www.onlineathens.com

Note:  Tommy Hanson proved me correct as the Atlanta Braves defeated the Red Sox, 2-1.  Hanson, despite the flu, was masterful and pitched six innings of two-hit, shutout ball.   

Go Yankees!

–Scott

 

Clean Sweep by the AL East…

 

Feelin’ way too damn good…

 


 
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It may be the name of a great song by Nickelback, but it also describes the feeling watching last night’s 9-1 rain-delayed win over the New York Mets by the Yankees.

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Any concerns about the tendonitis in CC Sabathia’s biceps were put to rest early.  Perfect through four innings, Sabathia showed why he deserved the ridiculously excessive contract in the off-season.  Outside of the leadoff home run to former Yank Gary Sheffield to open the fifth inning, he shut down the Mets on 3 hits over seven innings with 8 strikeouts.  He was consistently throwing 95 mph, and did not walk any batters.  He even contributed to his own cause with a RBI single in the second inning.  With the win, CC improved to 7-4.  Brett Tomko pitched effectively for the final two innings in relief.

 

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Speaking of the second inning, it was a very ugly one for the Mets.  Three errors allowed the Yankees jump out to a 4-0 lead and with CC dealing, the game was essentially over.

 

Simmons/New York Daily News 

 

Admittedly, I do not follow the Mets and if I had a preference in the NL East, it would probably be the Philadelphia Phillies.  So, I haven’t been keeping up with the Mets this year.  Derek Jeter had a bad cough, and was given the night off (which was also his 35th birthday).  I was a bit concerned with the insertion of Ramiro Pena into the starting lineup, particularly considering that Francisco Cervelli was playing in place of Jorge Posada (worried about the loss of potential offense).  But then I browsed the Mets’ order and was surprised to see names like Alex Cora, Nick Evans (who?), Omir Santos, and Ryan Church playing center field.  I knew that the Mets had been hurt by injuries, but I didn’t realize the decimation was this bad.

 

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Alex Rodriguez homered again to officially signal that the slump is over.  Kate Hudson was even in attendance, but fortunately she wasn’t wearing a pink A-Rod shirt like certain other celebrity girlfriends…

 

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The home run by A-Rod, in the 8th inning, was the 564th of his career, which allowed him to pass Reginald Martinez Jackson.  Reggie was in attendance to watch as he fell to 12th place on the All-Time HR List.  Next up for A-Rod is Rafael Palmeiro in tenth place with 569 HR’s.  I know that A-Rod is an admitted PED user, but it will still be nice to see Palmeiro bounced out of the top 10.  A-Rod should also pass Harmon Killebrew at 573 home runs later this summer.  Mark McGwire’s 583 will be more difficult to reach this year, particularly with A-Rod’s limited mobility.

Team PED All-Stars…

Reuters 

 

Brett Gardner has re-surfaced as a force in center.  He is batting .387 over the past 27 games.  Batting lead-off in place of Jeter, he had 5 hits, with 3 runs scored.  He was a double short of hitting for the cycle, but raised his batting average to .303 with the great performance.  When Gardner is hitting, he’s scary with his speed.  He is making it very difficult for Joe Girardi to keep him out of the lineup. 

 

 

Melky Cabrera will benefit from Xavier Nady’s misfortune (lost for the season), and will continue to platoon with Nick Swisher in right (barring any deadline trades by the Yankees). 

The world looks so much better when the Yankees are winning.  Right, Julia? ;)

 

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Despite the win by the Yanks, there was no change in the AL East standings.  It was a rare night that saw the AL East sweep the NL East, 5 games to none.

Yankees 9, Mets 1

Red Sox 4, Braves 1

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 1

Rays 7, Marlins 3

Orioles 11, Nationals 1

 

Of course, I am wondering why the Rays’ pitching staff was so inept compared to the others.  LOL!  It was definitely a good night for the AL East, which is why I am truly feelin’ so damn good!  And, oh yeah, I am going home to California!  Woohoo!

 

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Other News…

Speaking of Xavier Nady, he’s told friends that he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and will need surgery.  He’s headed to California (like me!) for further medical evaluation, but he’s done for the year.  Given that he is a free agent at the end of the year, his time with the Yankees may be over. Personally, I hope not.  I’d like to see the team work out a new deal.  However, given that there is doubt Nady will be able to play in 2010, the chances of returning to the Yankees are probably not good.  Nady has been a good player and I hope we have not seen the last of him in pinstripes.

 

Chris Faytock/The Star Ledger

 

Per Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog, Mariano Rivera will be on ESPN’s Sunday Conversation.  Mo was asked about performance enhancing drugs, and he replied, “The reason why I’m laughing is because I don’t even drink coffee. And if I don’t drink coffee, I would never put in my mind or think to put that in my body. If the talent that God has given me is not enough, well, I’ll have to quit. When I leave this game I know deep in my mind, deep in my heart that I was clean.”

 

John Munson/The Star Ledger

 

I remember being somewhat disappointed when John Wetteland left, breaking up the deadly late inning combo of Rivera-Wetteland.  Little did I know that it was the dawn of greatness, the creation of a new Yankees legend.  It will be a sad day when #42 is no longer in the bullpen, but it won’t take very long for it to make its way to Monument Park…and Cooperstown.  Mo can stand next to Jackie Robinson and be proud.

 

AP

 

No updates on Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings, but I am taking much abuse from my friends…

 


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–Scott 

Finally, a Series Win! On to Queens!…

 

Derek Lowe versus Andy Pettitte…

 

 

It was a match-up that reminded me of some great Red Sox battles of the past.  Unfortunately, this one was not memorable as neither pitcher was around very long.  The Yankees had built an 8-1 lead by the 4th inning against Lowe.  It should have been an easy win for Andy Pettitte, but he struggled too.  In the bottom of the 4th inning, he gave up 5 runs, thanks in part to an error by center fielder Brett Gardner, and was lifted for Alfredo Aceves.  Aceves was the eventual winner in the 11-7 Yankees victory over the Atlanta Braves.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

I am concerned about Pettitte.  He pitched great during his last start, but otherwise, his starts have been very spotty.  He is definitely no longer the pitcher he once was, or at least I do not recall him being so consistently “hittable”. 

But the one player we do not need to be concerned about is Alex Rodriguez.  After a month long slump that saw his batting average slide to .207, A-Rod was back last night.  He had a key hit on Wednesday, and followed that up with his 563rd home run (tying Mr. October, Reggie Jackson on the all-time list).  He was 3-for-5, with two runs scored, a walk, and 4 RBI’s (pushing his BA to .223).

 

John Bazemore,AP

 

The key hit for this game, in my opinion, was delivered by Johnny Damon.  With the bases loaded in the top of the 3rd inning, Damon came to bat against his former Red Sox teammate and delivered a triple to clear the bases.  The hit increased the Yankees’ lead to 6-1 at the time.  Even though the Braves scratched and clawed to get back in the game, they could never recover from the huge hole created by Damon.

 

Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald 

 

The bullpen did a good job with Aceves, Phil Coke, and the great Mariano Rivera.  The only questionable performance was by David Robertson who gave up a 9th inning home run to Brian McCann, and had runners at the corners, before Mo came in to get the final out.  Robertson did have two strikeouts in the frame.  Hopefully, he was just upset by the Mets’ recent release of his brother Connor, and he’ll perform the next time he is placed in a key situation.

 

 

The Yankees now head to Queens for a weekend Subway Series against the Mets.  I am concerned about the health of CC Sabathia, but it appears that he is a ‘go’ and should be fine this evening.  A.J. Burnett will return from his suspension tomorrow so it should be a fun weekend in Flushing Meadow.  With A-Rod coming around, I am sure that the biggest beneficiary will be Mark Teixeira.  The team responded to Brian Cashman’s call to arms, and hopefully that will continue. The Toronto Blue Jays lost last night, so the Yankees once again have sole possession of 2nd place and are now 4 games behind Boston.  Meanwhile, those pesky Rays keep winning…

 

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Chris Urso/Tampa Tribune

 

Happy 35th Birthday to the Captain, Derek Jeter!

 

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Xavier Nady had a major setback during his minor league rehab with Triple A-Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  Brian Cashman is calling it a possible worst case scenario as Nady felt pain while throwing.  Not a good sign.  At some point,  you have to wonder if surgery is the only option.  Best wishes to the X-Man for a “best case” scenario outcome…

 

Charles Krupa/AP

 

Finally, Thursday was a very sad day in the Entertainment World with the loss of two icons… Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett.

 


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Say what you will about MJ in recent years, but he was truly the King of Pop during the early 80’s.  His music was everywhere, and I can still so vividly remember waiting to watch the MTV world premiere of the video for Thriller in late 1983.  Like Elvis, Michael has left us way too soon. 

Farrah’s passing was more expected but no less difficult.  I had the Farrah poster on my wall as a teenager (like every other guy my age). 

Goodbye to both…they will be missed…

Making His Presence Felt in Atlanta…

 

To borrow the words of Johnny Cash, the Man Comes Around…

 

Posted on YouTube by MadSin69

 

The other Cash arrived in Atlanta, and made his presence known.

 

DeCrow/AP 

 

GM Brian Cashman, who apparently was supposed to watch AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre play, opted to travel to Atlanta for the Yankees game against the Braves.  He did not go with axe in hand, but he met with manager Joe Girardi and the players.  Clearly, he, like the rest of the fans and organization, is frustrated with the Yankees recent offensive slump and knows that the team is better than this. 

Cash insists that the team does not need to make any player acquisitions to improve.  As I said yesterday, the team has the talent and ability to succeed so the answer lies within.  I still think the bench could use some upgrade, along with the pen.  But from the top to the bottom of the order, the team is fine so long as they can snap out of the recent slide that has left them tied with the Toronto Blue Jays, 5 games behind the Boston Red Sox. 

Xavier Nady should be back soon, and that will certainly help.  But after watching the continued play of catcher Francisco Cervelli, I have to admit that I really do not want to see Jose Molina come back.  I liked Cervelli’s throws to first, his intensity, the way he was openly communicating with pitcher Joba Chamberlain in the dugout between innings, his energy, his excitement…and of course, his first home run!  So perhaps the Yanks should look to move Molina upon his return from the DL.  As for Damaso Marte, I am hopeful that we’ll see the reliever who was among baseball’s best when he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates upon his return.  There is no reason that he can’t be that player again.  Cash might be right that the answer lies within.  If the team’s response to Cash’s visit, an 8-4 win over the Braves, can be sustained in the coming weeks and months, I like the Yankees’ chances come October. 

As for the game, I do want to send Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami best wishes for a speedy recovery.  I am thankful he was not more seriously hurt when he was struck at the base of the neck by a ball hit by Joba Chamberlain.  At the time, Kawakami had pitched three perfect innings and it looked like he was in the midst of a great game.  He has a contusion, but it sounds like the ball didn’t hit a bone.  Kawakami will be re-evaluated in a couple of days to determine if he’ll be able to make his next start.  Hopefully, he is back in full action shortly.

 

John Bazemore/AP

 

The Braves scored first on a 5th inning home run by Jeff Francoeur.  Considering that Francoeur hasn’t really hit anybody this year, it was disappointing to see him get untracked against the Yankees.  Nevertheless, the Yankees came back at the top of the next inning.  Brett Gardner walked to start the inning, becoming the Yankees first base runner.  After a few pick-off throws, the Braves got lucky when Gardner was called out even though his hand had clearly reached first base before he was tagged out.  The play brought manager Joe Girardi out of the dugout and although his tirade got him tossed, it served as the catalyst the Yankees needed to snap out of their offensive doldrums.  Cervelli followed with his first career home run, and a few batters later, Alex Rodriguez, who had entered the game with a .207 BA, drilled a two-run single.

 

Curtis Compton/MCT

 

Although the Braves kept fighting back, the Yankees never relinquished the lead.  In the 8th inning, with Brian Bruney struggling (two walks, a single and a run scored), Girardi brought Mariano Rivera into the game with two outs. Rivera struck out Kelly Johnson to end the inning.  Rivera, who hadn’t pitched since June 16th, showed no signs of rust.  The Yankees scored a couple more runs at the top of the 9th to pad their lead, but they were unnecessary runs as Rivera struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to end the game.  Vintage Mo, and it was sweet!

 

 

The Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays all won, so there were no changes in the standings.  But the victory was definitely something for the team to build upon.  One game at a time.  The path to the Red Sox is not that far away…

 

Jim Davis/Boston Globe staff

 

As expected, the Yankees designated Angel Berroa for assignment prior to the game to make room for infielder Cody Ransom.  I was surprised to see that the Yankees were actually able to get cash for reliever Jose Veras (from the Cleveland Indians).  I thought the Yankees would have to pay to get someone to take him.  Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog had the best line when he said that the cash involved was “at least three figures”.  Good luck in Cleveland, Jose…you won’t be missed.   Of course, now that you are in Cleveland, you’ll probably start pitching lights out…

 

Denny Medley/US Presswire

 

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Hit a GIDP…

 

The fielders made the trip to Atlanta, but the hitters were a no-show…

 

No Show.JPG

 

The Yankees, looking rather pathetic and tired, kind of like their third baseman, lost to the Atlanta Braves, 4-0.  Another so-so start by Chien Ming-Wang, but on this night, it really wouldn’t have mattered how well he pitched.  A no-hitter couldn’t have pulled out a victory for the Yanks. 

 

Wilted Flowers.JPG

 

A-Rod is definitely looking like anything but A-Rod as his batting average continues to its freefall to the dreaded Mendoza line.

 

 

After years of clutch hits, Derek Jeter is starting to become the guy to call when you are looking to kill a potential rally.

 

John Bazemore/AP

 

Cody Ransom is due to come off the disabled list today, so a move is expected.  I doubt that the Yankees would designate Ransom for assignment, so that means either Angel Berroa or Ramiro Pena has to go.  My guess is that Berroa has seen his final day in pinstripes.

 

Kathy Willens/AP

 

Regarding Ransom’s return, manager Joe Girardi said, “He could help us a lot”.  I am not a major league manager, but sorry, Joe, I can’t buy that one.  The Yanks need help, but Cody Ransom is not going to be the savior.

 

 

Courtesy Wikipedia

 

In last night’s loss, the Yankees stranded 11 base runners.  There was no shortage of candidates for the Goat of the Game.  It was a disappointing loss, and the team is definitely reeling right now.  At this point, you have to consider the Yankees to be lucky that they are only 5 games behind Boston.  Next week, it could be much worse if things don’t change. 

 

AP 

 

If the Yankees had gone down fighting last night and still lost, I would have felt much better than them simply mailing it in.  The lackadaisical effort is a reflection of the manager and coaching staff.  Girardi said after the game, “This is going to turn and when it does it is going to be a welcome sight”.  I only hope that it is not too late.  5 games are not insurmountable, particularly not in July.  But there is no question that the Boston Red Sox are the superior team right now.  I do not recall a recent Red Sox game where I felt that the “team” had given up.  They battle down to the last at-bat.  That’s the type of effort and attitude that the Yankees need to model. 

 

Sox extend AL East lead

AP 

 

The Yankees are now tied for second with the Toronto Blue Jays.  A loss today and the Yanks are potentially in fourth place with the Tampa Bay Rays tapping on their shoulder.

 

 

AP

 

The Yankees protest of Sunday’s game was denied by Major League Baseball.  I never expected the Yankees to get anywhere with the protest, but admittedly; it was fun to talk about.  However, the Yankees need to win games because of their play, not because of technicalities.

 

The Star Ledger

 

It’s time to start hitting and fielding like May, and resume the charge on Boston.  The talent and ability is there.  Let’s Go Yankees!

–Scott 

 

We Lost…Or Did We?…

 

The Yankees lost…again…

 

Sad.JPG

 

Derek, you had the chance to be the hero, and to show the city of Miami why you are so beloved in New York City.  But, unfortunately, and unlike the shortstop in Boston, you failed to deliver the key hit with that grounder in the 9th inning and two outs against the Florida Marlins.  Alas, the Yankees’ comeback was stalled at 2 runs and the Yanks lost the game, 6-5.  For a moment, I thought that I was going to get a special Father’s Day treat but it was not meant to be.

 

So Close Yet So Far.JPG

 

Somewhere in Boston, I can assure you that there’s a woman who couldn’t be happier…

 

 

Not so quick, Julia!  There is an outside chance that Derek Jeter may get a second chance.  After Alejando de Aza hit for Renyel Pinto in the 7th inning, Marlins manager Freddie Gonzalez did a double-switch and inserted relief pitcher Leo Nunez into left fielder Chris Coghlan’s lead off spot.  In the 8th, Coghlan took the field with Nunez going to the mound.  So, technically, two players listed as first in the batting order were on the field at the same time.  De Aza should have been in left instead of Coghlan.  After Nunez threw one pitch, a strike, to Derek Jeter, manager Joe Girardi protested.  Coghlan left the game, but De Aza couldn’t return because of the no re-entry rule.  Jeremy Hermedia took over left, and was placed 9th in the batting order.  Nunez was allowed to continue pitching.  Girardi felt that Nunez should have been disallowed to continue, but Gonzalez disagreed.  Nevertheless, Girardi filed a protest.  If upheld, the teams would have to resume the 8th inning with the Marlins ahead, 6-3.  I doubt anything comes out of the protest, but, hey, you never know.  Jeter might get the chance to be a hero in Miami after all…

 

Joe Girardi 

Lynne Sladky/AP

 

Right fielder Xavier Nady is getting closer!  He will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre on Wednesday.  Soon…very soon, the X-Man returns!

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger 

 

Despite being pulled after 1 1/3 innings on Sunday for left biceps tendonitis, CC Sabathia believes that he’ll be able to make his next start.  Time will tell, but hopefully he’s right.  Now that Phil Hughes is starting to establish himself as a presence in the bullpen, I’d hate to see him yanked (no pun intended) back and forth between the pen and the starting rotation.

 

Courtesy Yankees Online Magazine 

 

A.J. Burnett’s suspension was decreased by one game to 5 games by Major League Baseball (for throwing near the head of the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz).  He began serving the suspension on Sunday, so he’ll be able to start next Saturday.  With Sabathia’s uncertainty, Burnett’s return is critical.

 

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images 

 

Alex Rodriguez feels better after some rest.  That’s nice…

 

 

A two game losing streak, and the next game will feature Chien-Ming Wang on the mound?  Yikes!  Hopefully, the law of averages will kick in sooner rather than later and allow Wang to record his first win of the year.  Of course, he’ll be facing the Braves pitching phenom Tommy Hanson.  They might be a bit agitated after the walk-off homer by Boston’s Nick Green on Sunday…

 

That's a wrap

Jim Davis/Boston Globe

 

More off-topic stuff…

It is really starting to sound like Brett Favre will be playing for the Minnesota Vikings this year.  One website reported that he had already agreed to a contract, but that was quickly dismissed as a false rumor.  Plus, there are rules that require prompt reporting of player contracts to the league so the Vikings would potentially be in violation of league rules if they failed to disclose a formal contract in a timely manner.  Nevertheless, there is speculation that a post-dated contract for, say, July 3rd, is a possibility.  Much of the media will be off on Friday, July 3rd for the holiday weekend, so the news wouldn’t be as magnified as it would be on a normal work day.  By the following Monday, much of the hoopla would start to die down.  So, the timing seems right.  It would also allow some time of the news to settle before training camp begins at the end of July.  I am hopeful that this doesn’t mean the loss of a roster spot for John David Booty, who has looked so much better this year.  I would prefer to see Tavaris Jackson shipped elsewhere, but he was hand-picked by Head Coach Brad Childress, so it may be tough for Childress to let go of T-Jack.

 

Courtesy The Fan 740 AM

 

I have never heard of today’s winner of the U.S Open in Golf, Lucas Glover, but he’s a Yankees fan, so I’ll say CONGRATS to an absolutely great guy!  ;)

 

Lucas Glover watches his tee shot on hole No. 11. Glover held off Ricky Barnes, David Duvall and Phil Mickelson to win the US Open on Monday.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

 

–Scott

 

A Father’s Day Wish…a Yankees win, that’s all!…

 

The roller coaster continues…

 

Roller Coaster.JPG

 

Meanwhile, the Yankees have fallen 3 games back of the AL East Leaders, Boston Red Sox.  The Yankees fell to the Florida Marlins, 2-1, while the Boston Red Sox, behind Josh Beckett, beat the Atlanta Braves, 3-0.  The Braves’ Derek Lowe, like the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett, pitched well against their respective former teams…just not as good as the other team’s guy.  In the Yankees’ case, it was a solid performance by Josh Johnson that undid the Yankees.  Johnson went seven innings and gave up only 3 hits, the lone Yankee run, and 5 strikeouts. He showed why he has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this year.

 

Joel Auerbach/US Presswire

 

The Yankees had their chances but couldn’t come up with the key hits to pull out a victory.  Derek Jeter killed a potential rally in the 8th inning, failing to advance the runners and hitting into a double play grounder.  Johnny Damon followed Jeter and struck out, leaving Brett Gardner stranded at third with what would have been the tying run.  The Yankees hit into three double plays in total, including a game ending DP on a grounder by Robinson Cano after Mark Teixeira had singled in the 9th.  Jeter had also hit into an inning ending DP earlier during the 3rd inning, after A.J. Burnett had singled.

 


No Thumbs.JPG 

 

In a situation that will likely be remembered at the end of the season when Johnny Damon becomes a free agent, Damon committed a brutal error in the 6th inning that allowed the Marlins to score their 2nd run.  He had his sights on a line drive hit by Jorge Cantu, but his glove missed the ball.  It almost looked like me playing softball!

 

 

 

Gary Dwight Miller/The Patriot News (Note: that’s not me, but it could be!)

 

The positives were great defensive play by catcher Jorge Posada, solid bullpen relief from the “Phil” duo (Coke and Hughes), and, of course, A.J. Burnett’s fine pitching.

 

Lynne Sladky/AP  

 

The crowd, 46,427, was the third largest in stadium history for Land Shark Stadium.  But seriously, I can’t say the name of that stadium without laughing…

 

Land Shark.JPG

 

In Sunday’s game, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia (6-4) faces the Marlins’ Chris Volstad (4-7).  Hopefully, the Yanks will get back on track.  In Boston, the Braves will have Jair Jurrjens (5-5) on the mound versus Tim Wakefield (9-3).  The Yankees need to focus on keeping Boston’s lead to three games and perhaps pick up a game in the unlikely event that Wake loses on his home turf.

 

AP

 

Jonathan Papelbon refuted reports that he’d be willing to sign with the Yankees after his contract with Boston expires in 2011.  I think the quote was “I don’t want to go play for the (expletive) Yankees!”.   Two immediate thoughts…1) What else is he going to say after the earlier comments received so much attention, and 2) There are some Red Sox players that I’d never want on my team and the list is headlined by Papelbon.  But Julia, it doesn’t include Jason Bay!  ;)

 

 

Ron Wurzer/AP

 

In the Battle of the Weavers, former Yankee Jeff Weaver outpitched his little brother, Jered, as the Dodgers defeated the Angels, 6-4.  I was frustrated during Jeff’s time in New York, but he has always been someone that I’d like to see succeed.  He did well in St. Louis a few years back, and has re-surfaced on Joe Torre’s staff.  He’ll never reach the lofty heights that were predicted for him earlier in his career, but he is someone that I won’t root against.

 

Jeff and Jered Weaver

Christine Cotter/Los Angeles Times

 

The Weaver boys’ parents, Gail and Dave, had the right approach in attire while attending the match-up of their two sons…

 

Gail and Dave Weaver

Christine Cotter/Los Angeles Times

 

The Yankees will apparently sign top international catching prospect, 16-year-old Gary Sanchez of the Dominican Republic when he becomes eligible to sign on July 2nd.   One NL scout indicated that he is a big kid (6’2″, 210 pounds) with a big arm.  But the scout also mentioned that he doesn’t hit like Yankees catching prospect Jesus Montero, 19.  Of course, there has been much talk that Montero will be moved to a different position by the time he makes it to the majors because of his physical size.  Regardless, if the signing of Sanchez is true, the Yankees are in good shape when Jorge Posada decides to hang up the cleats.

For as well as Pedro Martinez pitched during the World Baseball Classic, teams seem to be stumbling over themselves trying to run away from him after watching him pitch in the Dominican Republic.  Even if he had pitched well, he’s not someone I’d want on my team (see earlier comment about Jonathon Papelbon), but it is starting to sound like Pedro’s career may be over unless some team decides to give him a token offer.  Time to wait for the Hall of Fame to call…

 

 

Per Peter Gammons of ESPN, Takaski Saito has emerged as the Red Sox pitcher most likely to be traded.  Dice-K’s struggles, even with John Smoltz on hand, have made it unlikely that the team will part with Brad Penny.  Gammons mentioned that the Red Sox had discussed a potential swap of Saito to the Texas Rangers for Hank Blalock, but decided that they needed to give David Ortiz more time to turn it around.  I am convinced that the Red Sox will be a stronger team on July 31st than they are today, and they are obviously pretty good right now.

 


Top Dog.JPG 

 

In my opinion, the Yankees cannot simply stand pat and hope that a lift is realized through the respective returns from injury by Xavier Nady, Jose Molina and Damaso Marte.  I still like Cleveland’s Mark DeRosa, and feel he would be an ideal player to fill the infield utility role and allow Alex Rodriguez to take more days off.  The bullpen is starting to come around, but they could still use a quality arm, like Arizona’s Chad Qualls, to take Brett Tomko’s place.

 

U.S. Presswire

 

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers on this great day!  For a Father’s Day gift, I’m easy…I’ll take a Yankees win combined with a Red Sox loss!  I know, I said at the top that a Yankees win would be sufficient.  But c’mon, a Red Sox loss would be a great dessert!  J

 

Happy Fathers Day.JPG

 

Enjoy your day!

 

–Scott

 

Winning Cures All Ailments…

 

No A-Rod in the line-up?  No problem, just call Andy…

 

Hans Deryk/Reuters

 

Andy had a run-scoring double in the 2nd inning to put New York on top of the Florida Marlins, 3-0.  It was a lead that the Yankees never relinquished.  They won the game, 5-1, behind Pettitte’s other skills….a solid pitching performance that saw only three hits in 7 innings, with 7 strikeouts.  He had good control as he did not issue any walks, and became the first Yankees pitcher to reach 7 wins.  He was, of course, quite winded after the long run to second base!  Hahaha! The lone Marlin run was a homer by outfielder Cody Ross.  Pettitte did say after the game that several other fly balls would have been home runs in Yankee Stadium.  Nevertheless, they were in Miami and the Yankees easily won, snapping a two game losing streak.

 

Alex Rodriguez celebrates with Hideki Matsui after the Yankees defeated the Florida Marlins 5-1.

AP

 

The Yankees also got great production from their bullpen with two innings of hitless relief provided by Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko.  I can’t say that I was excited to see Tomko enter the game, but he did his job.

The Yankees only had one home run, a solo shot by Melky Cabrera in the 3rd.

Before the game, it was announced that Alex Rodriguez would sit the first two games of the series in Miami against the Marlins.  Alex has been struggling lately, and his batting average has plummeted to .212.  Kevin Long tracks swings that are considered reaches, and indicated that since early June, A-Rod has extended his arms from his body in his swings nearly 85% of the time.  He wants to work with A-Rod to bring his arms back in for a tighter, more compact swing.  Hopefully, the rest will do A-Rod some good, although I am sure it’s frustrating for him to sit while the team is in his hometown.  Angel Berroa filled in for A-Rod at third, while Jorge Posada batted clean-up.

 

Wilfredo Lee/AP 

 

It was a good game for the Yankees, beginning to end.  I had some concerns that they were facing a pitcher they had never seen before (Sean West), but they easily figured him out and scored all 5 runs against West in his four innings of work.

Derek Jeter was back in the lineup Friday night, but you could tell that the ankle is still bothering him. 

It was a reunion of sorts for manager Joe Girardi, who got his first managerial job with the Marlins in 2006.  He was named NL Manager of the Year, and was subsequently fired by owner Jeffrey Loria.  Girardi and Loria chatted briefly outside of the Yankees clubhouse prior to the game.  Per Girardi, it was a pleasant conversation with Loria and they have a good relationship.  Still, you just know that Girardi took satisfaction in taking the first game of the series with the Marlins…

 

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, right, and Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez share a laugh as they watch Yankees' batting practice.

AP

 

The Yankees picked up a game on both first place Boston and third place Toronto as both of those teams lost on Friday night.  The Yanks are two games behind the Red Sox and two games ahead of the Blue Jays.  I wonder if the Red Sox could start Dice-K again tonight?  I kinda like it when he pitches…  ;)  Seriously, I have faith in the Braves’ Derek Lowe even though he is facing Josh Beckett.  Vindication is always a sweet feeling, and Lowe is a gamer.  Good luck to him as he faces his former teammates!

 

UPI

 

Despite watching Pedro Martinez pitch in the Dominican Republic, the Yankees expressed no interest in signing the 37 year old pitcher.  Whew!

 

Jeff Roberson/AP

 

Brett Gardner is still feeling the effects of the collision with the outfield wall on Thursday, but is improving.

 

Dizzy.JPG

 

It has nothing to do with the game, but Miami always reminds me of one of my favorite singers, the late great Keith Whitley.  This is one of my favorite Whitley songs…

 

Posted on YouTube by Victorcoral

 

Have a great Saturday!

–Scott

 

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