June 2009

Division Leader to Also-Ran in 8.2 Seconds…

 

I leave for a few days, and the world falls apart…

 

 

The Yankees are losing to the Washington Nationals tonight, 3-0, in the 8th inning.  If they lose the game, the Nationals will win the series, 2 games to 1.  Aren’t the Nationals supposed to be the baseball’s worst team?  I was worried about the series going in, because I know that this series had disaster spelled all over it.

 

Disaster.JPG

 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there was more news awaiting me…

Jonathan Papelbon told Jody McDonald and Bert Blyleven on Sirius XM Radio that he’d consider joining the Yankees when his contract with the Red Sox is up.  Umm, thanks but no thanks…

 

Papelbon.JPG

 

The Yankees are apparently one of several teams that will be taking a look at pitcher Pedro Martinez.  The Cubs, Rays and Angels will also be watching Pedro pitch in the Dominican Republic tomorrow.  Note to Yankees:  Look but don’t touch!

 

 

GM Brian Cashman indicates that he does not expect the team to any major moves prior to the trading deadline this year.  He likes the team he has assembled, and wants to see what how it does once the injured guys (Jose Molina, Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte) return.  I don’t know what Cash calls it, but I’d call it third place.  Meanwhile, the Rays look to improve and the Red Sox have John Smoltz ready to go on June 25th and of course you know that Theo won’t stand pat.  This might be the part of the marathon where the elite runners begin to make separation from the rest of the pack.  I can only hope that Cash is playing with his poker face…

 

Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

Chien-Ming Wang is going to remain in the rotation.  I guess the Yankees want to be assured of a loss every fifth day…

 

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Alex Rodriguez is 8 for 51 in the month of June.  Even Big Papi is looking much better than A-Rod right now…

 

David Ortiz had to laugh after getting fooled by a pitch in the fourth.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

 

I am not ready to break out the ‘Joe’s gotta go!’ card, but at what point does pitching coach Dave Eiland begin to take some responsibility for the woes of the pitching staff?

 

 

 

Oh well, hopefully, my perspective will improve tomorrow and the Yankees will return to their winning ways…

 

Frank Franklin II/AP 

 

I spent the last couple of days in Denver, and had a great time!   It was strictly a business trip, but Colorado is always a fun place to be.  I lived there a few years ago, so it was great to be back in the Mile High City.  If visiting (and you are a meat eater), you’ve got to try The Fork in the foothills of Morrison, CO.  I had William Bent’s Buffalo Tenderloin Filet Mignon and it was one of the most tender steaks that I’ve had in recent years.  Very flavorful!  I didn’t know about The Fork when I lived in Denver but wish I had.

 

 

–Scott 

A Win and a much needed Loss…

 

Like an old pair of shoes, Jose Veras has been tossed aside…

 

Old Shoes.JPG

 

With the return of Mo’s set up guy, Brian Bruney, the Yankees had to make a roster decision and it meant the end of the line for Jose Veras (who was DFA’d).  Veras could have protected his spot had he shown any flashes of his performance of last year, but it was not meant to be.  I wish him luck wherever he goes, and hopefully he’ll recapture the promise of a year ago in a less pressurized situation.

 

David L. Pokress/Newsday 

 

I wonder if Bruney got a congratulatory card from Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for his return?

 

Congrats.JPG

Umm, probably not…

I am on a business trip to Denver, Colorado, so I am a little removed from the baseball action.  I know, the Rays are at Coors Field, and I can’t go…what’s wrong with that picture?

 


Coors Field.JPG 

 

By the way, I used to live two blocks from Coors Field.  I definitely miss those days! 

Nevertheless, the Yankees did play a game tonight.  The Washington Nationals are in the Bronx for a three-game series with the Yanks.  Everybody is quick to say that it will be a three-game sweep, but I don’t think it will be that easy.  The Yanks always have trouble against the teams they are supposed to beat, so I could see the Nats steal a win or two.  Fortunately, tonight was not the night for the Nats as they fell to the Yankees, 5-3.

 

Bill Kostroun/AP 

 

The Yankees led 2-0 until the 5th inning when Anderson Hernandez unloaded a three-run homer on CC Sabathia.  Of course, that provoked an email from Julia (“You are losing to the Nats????”.  But hey, 15-0 games are boring…or even the 8-2 yawner that the Red Sox put on the Florida Marlins.  With 21 come from behind wins, now 22, the Yanks came roaring back in the 7th inning against old friend Ron Villone.  Johnny Damon singled to open the inning, and he scored on Mark Teixeira’s double.  Following an A-Rod strikeout, Robinson Cano hit a double that scored Tex.  Cano was thrown out attempting to stretch the double into a triple.  Ramiro Pena added an insurance run in the 8th inning with a RBI single. 

Cano was clearly the star of the game as he went 4-for-4, with 2 RBI’s and a run scored.  He also shined defensively.

 

 

 

CC Sabathia (6-4) picked up the win, and Mariano Rivera earned his 15th save.  Brian Bruney made his first appearance following his stint on the DL, and came into the game during the 8th inning after CC walked another old friend, Nick Johnson.  That brought the Nats’ best hitter, Ryan Zimmerman, to the plate.  Hey Bruney, no pressure!

 

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Fortunately, Zimmerman grounded out and the inning was over.  Welcome back, Bruney!  We don’t care what K-Rod says about you…you are the star of the 8th inning — exactly where we need you to be!

The Nats should have an excellent chance for victory on Wednesday with Chien-Ming Wang on the mound…

 

 

It’s sure is starting to sound like Brett Favre will be wearing Purple this fall.  He is definitely making much reference to the fact that no one remembers that Vince Lombardi ended his career as Head Coach of the Washington Redskins.  All I can say is that I am glad my childhood idol, Fran Tarkenton, retired with the Vikings.  I don’t know what I would have thought if he had played with the Green Bay Packers during his final year, but I have to believe that it would have changed my perception of Sir Francis…

 

 

Oh, by the way, CONGRATULATIONS to the new NBA Champions, the Los Angeles Lakers! 

   

 

Paul Rodriguez/Orange County Register 

 

Now, if the Yankees can only win the World Series…

 

–Scott

Two Outta Three Ain’t Bad…

 

A “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” kind of weekend…

 

 

On Saturday morning, when I saw the Mets starting pitcher (an unknown, at least to me, by the name of Fernando Nieve), I figured that the Yankees were going to have an offensive field day.  Unfortunately, I forgot that the Yankees just don’t play very well against pitchers they’ve never faced before.  Nieve, a former Astro, got his first win since June 25, 2006 by allowing only 4 hits and 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings. 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte looked pathetic. 

 

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

Former Yankee minor leaguer Omir Santos hit a two-run homer in the second inning to set the tone for the day.

 

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

The Mets pounded out 17 hits enroute to the 6-2 victory.  Every Mets starter had at least one hit, and Gary Sheffield homered against his former team for the second straight day.  It was not a fun game, and it was obvious that the Yanks had mentally checked out of this game.  When you watch the Boston Red Sox, they never give up and battle to the end.  So, it was disappointing to see the Yanks throw in the towel…

 

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On Sunday, after the Yanks disappointing performance the previous day and Johan Santana on the mound for the Mets, it didn’t look promising.  My only hope was for A.J. Burnett to try and keep it close so that perhaps Tex or A-Rod could come up with a key hit in the later stages of the game.  What I saw shocked me, to say the least.  When you analyze the line scores for the two starting pitchers, you’d assume that Burnett must have had a bad day…

Pitcher A

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

PC-ST

3.0

9

9

9

2

3

1

82-48

 

Pitcher B

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

HR

PC-ST

7.0

4

0

0

4

8

0

111-66

 

Fortunately, Pitcher A was the Mets’ Johan Santana, who suffered the worst start of his career.

 

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images 

 

A.J. Burnett pitched a terrific game.  Of course, it helps when your team stakes you to a 13-0 lead after only four innings.  But the Burnett of the last few starts, excluding the debacle in Boston, is the pitcher the Yanks thought they were getting in the off-season when they signed him to the big contract.

 


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As the Mets did the previous day, the Yankees pounded out 17 hits, including three by catcher Francisco Cervelli.  Jose Molina who?…

 

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The Yankees got the scoring started in the second inning with run-scoring singles by Cervelli and Derek Jeter, as well as a two-run single by Johnny Damon.  I guess he is over his “fluttering eye” issue…

 

 

What, no homers?  Don’t worry; they were on the way…

 

 

In the 4th, the Yankees scored 9 runs and ran Santana out of the game.  The weekend birthday boy, Hideki Matsui, hit a two-run homer to start the scoring.  Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon knocked in runs with an infield single and a double, respectively.  Jeter scored when Alex Rodriguez hit into a double-play.  Robinson Cano followed with a two-run homer, scoring A-Rod.  Melky Cabrera capped the scoring with a two-run double, but he ended the inning attempting to stretch out the double to a triple.

 

 

Sipkin/New York Daily News

 

Four innings, a 13 run lead, and Johan Santana in the showers…the game was effectively ended at that point.  The Yanks did pick up a couple more RBI’s by Ramiro Pena and Robinson Cano in the 7th inning, but the Fat Lady had already sung…

 

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Phil Hughes looked like he was going to ruin the shutout in the 9th inning, when he allowed two base runners.  But he settled down, and got the final outs.  So, thanks largely to Friday’s gift from Luis Castillo, the Yankees won the Subway Series, two games to one.

The Red Sox lost to the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizen’s Bank Park, 11-6, so the Yankees closed the gap back to two games. 

 

Jimmy Rollins´ solo home run gave the Phillies the lead in the seventh inning. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer, Philly.com 

 

The two teams have a much needed break on Monday, before they resume interleague play.  The Red Sox return home to Fenway Park to face owner John Henry’s former team, the Florida Marlins.  Meanwhile, the Yanks will see old friend Nick Johnson when the Washington Nationals travel to Yankee Stadium.  Of course, I wonder who the manager of the Nationals will be…Manny Acta or someone else…

 

Manny Acta

Brian Blanco/AP

 

It’s been a great day…almost perfect, in fact!  The only thing that could be better would be the crowning of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers as the 2009 NBA Champions!

 

Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson

Chris Carlson/AP

 

Go Lakers, but more importantly…

Go Yankees!

–Scott

When A Loss Becomes A Win…

 

A walk-off “Gift”…

 

Gift.JPG

 

With the Yankees trailing the Mets 8-7 in the bottom of the 9th and Francisco Rodriguez on the mound, Brett Gardner started the inning with a pop-out.  Derek Jeter came up next and hit a solid single up the middle.  Johnny Damon worked the count full, but struck out swinging on a splitter from K-Rod.  Mark Teixeira came to the plate and K-Rod was determined to give him nothing to hit.  His first three pitches to Tex missed the strike zone, so manager Charlie Manuel decided not to take any chances and gave Tex a free pass.  Alex Rodriguez was up next…A-Rod versus K-Rod.

 

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The setting was set for a dramatic Yankees comeback.  The YES Network’s Michael Kay indicated that any win by the Yankees would be a walk-off win (statement of the obvious?), and they have had six walk-off wins so far this year.  The stars seemed to be aligned for A-Rod to be the hero.  Like with Tex, K-Rod threw the first three pitches outside of the strike zone and A-Rod didn’t bite.  The fourth pitch came in for a called strike.  With a 3-1 hitter’s count, A-Rod got under the next pitch and lifted a pop fly to short right field.  Second baseman Luis Castillo charged under the ball and it appeared to land in his glove.  A-Rod slammed his bat into the ground, and started to gently run to first base.  The feeling of defeat sunk in, and I was thinking that the Yankees had just lost their fourth consecutive game.  But miraculously, the ball hit Castillo’s glove and bounced out. 

 

Noah K. Murray/New York Daily News 

 

Castillo slid to the ground so he wasn’t able to get up immediately to retrieve the ball.  When he did get up, he threw the ball to the cutoff man, shortstop Alex Cora.  Derek Jeter had already scored the tying run, but third base coach Rob Thomson had sent Teixeira home.  Cora fired the ball to catcher Omir Santos, but it was too late…Tex had already scored the winning run…

 

DON'T MESS WITH TEX: Mark Teixeira celebrates, surrounded by his Yankees teammates, after scoring the winning run after Mets second baseman dropped a potential game-ending pop-up by Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning, giving the Bombers a 9-8 win in Game 1 of the Subway Series at Yankee Stadium.

UPI (Courtesy New York Post)

 

Whoa, talk about high drama!  After the game, A-Rod was being interviewed and Kimberly Jones mentioned that Francisco Rodriguez hadn’t blown a save this season.  A-Rod responded, “He still hasn’t”.  True, but I’ll take it…

Richard Perry/The New York Times

 

The Yankees should have given the pie in the face to Castillo…

 

Pie in Face.JPG

 

The Yankees had started the scoring with a solo home run by Robinson Cano in the bottom of the second inning.  I was a bit frustrated the next inning when Joba Chamberlain loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter.  Carlos Beltran drew a walk to bring home a run.  After David Wright struck out, Ryan Church was hit by a pitch to bring home Alex Cora.  So, with no hits in the 3rd, the Mets had taken a 2-1 lead over the Yanks.

In the bottom of the 3rd, the Yankees regained the lead, 3-2, with a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira.  Joba Chamberlain was pulled after four innings.  Although he only gave up one hit and two runs, he walked 5 and had two hit by pitches.  So, to start the 5th inning, Manager Joe Girardi brought in Brett Tomko.  My first reaction, of course, was “Ugh!”.  Unfortunately, as they say, always trust your first instinct.  Carlos Beltran doubled and subsequently stole third.  David Wright walked.  Ryan Church doubled to score Beltran and Wright.  The Mets had the lead, 4-3.  Former Yankee Gary Sheffield came up and promptly hit a two-run homer, his 505th, to increase the Mets’ lead to 6-3.  Isn’t there a minor league team somewhere (anywhere but Scranton/Wilkes Barre!) that could use Tomko?  He needs to go wherever it is that Julia wants Julio Lugo to go…or where Mets fans want Luis Castillo to go…

 

 

In the bottom of the 5th, Derek Jeter cut the deficit to 6-4 with a solo home run.  In the 6th, with Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada at first and second, thanks to a single and walk, the birthday boy, Hideki Matsui, slammed a three-run homer to allow the Yanks to recapture the lead, 7-6.  Happy 35th Birthday to Godzilla!

 

Marc Carig/The Star Ledger

 

The Mets tied the score, 7-7, in the 7th on a double play grounder by Fernando Tatis with men on the corners. 

Phil Coke retired the first two Mets in the top of the 8th, but then, in a surprising move, Joe Girardi brought Mariano Rivera into the game to face Carlos Beltran.  In recent years, Mo has pretty much become a one inning relief specialist.  It started in the latter years of the Joe Torre era as a way to keep Mo healthy.  I suppose Joe didn’t want to take any chances with the dangerous Beltran at the plate and preferred to see Mo get four outs as opposed to three.  Unfortunately, the move backfired.  Beltran drew a walk, and the next batter, David Wright doubled to center field, scoring Beltran.  The Mets had taken an 8-7 lead.  It was three up and three down against Mo in the 9th, and the stage was set for the dramatic comeback win…

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees blog had a great story after the game.  Joba’s three-year old son, Karder, was in the clubhouse  and he interrupted the reporters talking to Joba by asking, “Daddy, you didn’t throw strikes!”.  Joba responded, “He knows me.  Pretty scary, huh?”  That’s funny stuff!  Of course, it’s easier to laugh about it when your team escapes with a 9-8 win rather than an 8-7 loss.

 

Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger

 

This game was yet another example for why Mark Teixeira ranks as one of the greatest free agent signings in Yankees history.  It remains to be seen if he has the post-season success of, say, Reggie Jackson, but so far, he’s earned every bit of his huge contract.

 

Mike Stobe/Getty Images

 

The Yankees remain two games behind the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox defeated the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park in extra innings, 5-2.  I had warned Julia about late inning heroics by the Phillies’ Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.  Howard came through with a game-tying 9th inning home run, but the Phillies couldn’t muster any magic in extra innings against the Red Sox bullpen.

 

Sox overcome Phillies in 13

AP 

 

So, the Yankees remain one of baseball’s best teams, so long as they aren’t at Fenway Park or playing the Red Sox…

 

Superman.JPG

DC Comics

 

OTHER “OFF TOPIC” STUFF…

Everyone doubted the Pittsburgh Penguins’ chances and until Game 7, the team with home ice had won every game in the Stanley Cup Finals.  So, with Game 7 in Detroit, it appeared that the odds were stacked in the Red Wings’ favor.  The Pens took a 2-0 lead after two periods, but you knew that the third period would be a ‘free for all’.  The Red Wings played at a kinetic pace.  You could definitely tell that there was a sense of urgency in their game, and they did appear to be the superior team on the ice for that period.  They were able to score a goal to close the gap.  The game hung in the balance down to the final seconds.  Even with 6 seconds or so, you knew that the Red Wings were capable of scoring the tying goal. 

Fortunately, it was not meant to be and the Penguins were the Stanley Cup Champions!  It was a great game, a great series, and a great win by a deserving team.  Granted, it would have been better (at least for me) had the San Jose Sharks won the Stanley Cup, or perhaps even Julia‘s Boston Bruins, but short of that, the Penguins are a worthy champion!

 

Matt Freed/Post-Gazette 

 

Now, hopefully, the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy awaits the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night…

 


O'Brien Trophy.JPG 

 

The Brett Favre “fiasco” continues.  The Vikings apparently have sent a coach and their head trainer to Mississippi to track the health of QB Brett Favre.  No word on which coach made the trip, but offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has prior history with Favre during their time in Green Bay together.  I really think this issue needs closure soon.  Otherwise, it risks becoming a huge distraction for the team.  The 2009 Vikings have a great deal of potential.  I like many of the young guys, and I am excited about what Percy Harvin will mean to the offense if properly utilized.  Guys like center John Sullivan and safety Tyrell Johnson will step up and fill the voids caused by the departures of veterans Matt Birk and Darren Sharper.  Regardless of what Favre decides to do, the Vikings will be in contention this year.  I am not ready to anoint them Super Bowl contenders, but they have the potential for great things.  At this point, I am ready to let Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels fight it out, and let Favre starting counting his days for entry into the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  But, of course, if he does sign with the Vikes, so be it…

 

Favre 09.JPG

 

Have a great weekend!

GO YANKEES!

–Scott

When Your Best Just Isn’t Good Enough…

 

Thoroughly and soundly defeated…

 

Loser.JPG

 

Words are hard to find after the Red Sox rallied to beat the Yankees 4-3 last night to cap a sweep of the three game series and extend their 2009 record against the Yanks to 8-0.  If the Yankees had won only one game, they’d be in a tie for first.  As it is, they stand two games back with the Toronto Blue Jays nipping at their heels.  Of course, you know it is just a matter of time before the Tampa Bay Rays get hot and go on a 10-game win streak.

 

 

 

Thrill of Victory.JPG

 

The Yankees weak bench and dreadful bullpen were exposed in this series.  The team’s approach to resolving the issues is to do nothing.  That’s apparently not working…

 

Michael Dwyer/AP

 

Congratulations to Julia and her beloved Red Sox.  They played hard and never gave up.  Like one New York paper wrote, if it is the two teams’ destiny to meet in the ALCS, Boston should go ahead and print World Series tickets…

 

Barry Chin/Boston Globe

 

There’s no rest for the weary as the Yankees return to Yankee Stadium to face the New York Mets for a three game series beginning tonight.  The timing obviously couldn’t be any worse for what is generally a very intense rivalry.  The Mets are coming off two consecutive g extra inning defeats to the Philadelphia Phillies (who took 2 of 3 from the Mets), and are probably looking forward to finding the cure that ails them against the psychologically weakened Yanks.  The Yankees need to put the last three days behind them, and remember how they were playing before the disaster in Boston. 

 

Yankees beat Twins 7-6

John Munson/The Star Ledger 

 

It’s time for Joba Chamberlain, who faces the Mets’ Livan Hernandez tonight, to continue his progression toward pitching like a frontline ace…

 

Joba.JPG

 

Meanwhile, it is my hope that the Phillies continue their late inning magic at Fenway Park this weekend.

 

John Munson/The Star Ledger 

 

Last night wasn’t a complete disaster as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic, 99-91, to go up 3 games to 1 in the NBA Finals.  But this has been a frustrating week to be a sports fan with the Yankees’ ineptitude against Boston and the continued Brett Favre fiasco in Minnesota.  I am looking forward to sunnier days…

 

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Have a great Friday!

–Scott

P.S.  Julia, don’t worry, we’ll be ready to end the streak on August 5th at Yankee Stadium!  Mark your calendar, my friend!

Why Can’t the Yankees Beat Boston?…

 

The Boston Red Sox clearly have the psychological advantage over the New York Yankees…

 

In Ur Head.JPG

 

As Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 95% mental.  The other half is physical”.

 

 

With last night’s 6-5 loss, the Yankees are now 0-7 in the season series with the Red Sox (0-8 if you go back to last season).  Alex Rodriguez can relate, given that he is 0-for-7 in the latest series.

 

Winslow Townson/AP 

 

Chien-Ming Wang looks completely lost.  It is becoming very painful to watch his struggles in meaningful games.  What’s the answer?  Back to the bullpen?  An extended summer vacation in Taiwan with plans to return for spring training in 2010?  I don’t know, but the Yankees simply cannot afford to leave him in the starting rotation.  It’s a very disappointing situation, and remain hopeful that Wang will return to the pitcher that he once was…

 

Simmons/NY Daily News

 

I felt that the Yankees could have won last night’s game.  The back-to-back home runs by Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira against Ramon Ramirez seemed to give the team new life, but they were unable able to capitalize. 

 


2 Little 2 Late.JPG 
  

The game saw both good and bad from Nick Swisher.  Poor base running in the second inning allowed Nick Swisher to be doubled off first base, which possibly prevented the Yankees from adding another run after Jorge Posada’s homer.  He also misplayed a fly ball in the bottom of the inning that appeared he had a great jump on, allowing the Red Sox to score a run.  He did make a spectacular diving catch in the seventh inning to take away a hit from Mike Lowell.

 

New York Yankees' Nick Swisher arrives at first on a bunt single as Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis takes the throw without his foot on th

AP 

 

Congratulations to Julia, of Julia’s Rants, for yet another victory in our lopsided 2009 wagers that seem to be all-Julia.  I am now 0-for-3 on the season.  I guess there’s a Jason Bay in my future after all…unfortunately.

 

Sole men

Bill Simmons/Boston Globe

 

If the Yankees expect to contend for the AL East Championship, they need to figure out how to beat Boston.  A strong pitching performance today by CC Sabathia would be a great start in the right direction.  Feel free to mix in a timely hit or two from Alex Rodriguez…

 

 

In the MLB Draft, the Yankees selected first baseman Luke Murton.  Murton’s brother, Matt, is an outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, but was originally drafted by the Red Sox.  Nothing like bringing the rivalry into the family…

 

 

–Scott

 

What Was That?…

 

Okay, that was really ugly…

 

Covered eyes.JPGIf

 

Saturday’s 9-7 loss to the Rays was ugly, I am not quite sure what you’d call last night’s 7-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox. 

 


Ugly.JPG 

 

Advantage Julia

 

A.J. Burnett was a disappointment, giving up 5 runs, 3 earned, and 5 walks in less than 3 innings of work.  I guess he has to wear a Jays uniform to be effective at Fenway Park because it certainly doesn’t work in a Yankees jersey…

 

Winslow Townson/AP

 

The Yankees and the Red Sox are once again tied at the top of the AL East Standings with records of 34-24.

 

 

The Yankees need to put this one behind them, and come out today with a new and fresh attitude.  They are better than their 0-for-6 record against the Sox indicates, and hopefully, good things are in store for Chien-Ming Wang and the Yankees tonight.

 

 

I won’t lose the faith, and I am certainly not ready to be sized for a Jason Bay t-shirt.

 


Yankees.JPG 

 

The Yankees chose center fielder Slade Heathcott, an 18 year old high school player from Texarkana, Texas.  Slade definitely has a name fit for a Texan, and hopefully a swing fit for Yankee Stadium.  There’s only one serious flaw in Slade’s game…he’s a Red Sox fan…but I think we’ll  be able to cure that ailment.

 

 

With their second pick, the Yankees selected another 18-year old high school player in defensive-minded catcher John Murphy from Bradenton, Florida.

 

 

IMG Baseball Academy

 

Can’t say that I care for the batting helmet…  ;) 

The Vikings have supposedly “temporarily suspended” their pursuit of QB Brett Favre.  The deadline imposed by head coach Brad Childress was a poor idea if the team legitimately wanted Favre, so supposedly the ‘cooling off’ period will allow Favre additional time to decide if his shoulder is up to the challenge of another season.  All things considered, Brett, stay home…

 

 

Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins for their 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals to force Game 7.  The team with home ice has won every game of this series, and unfortunately, Game 7 is in Detroit.  Nevertheless, if there’s anyone who can perform the impossible, it’s Sidney Crosby.  Hopefully, they’ll be hoisting the Stanley Cup in the streets of Pittsburgh.  Good luck to the Pens!

 

Matt Freed/Post-Gazette

 

What?  The Lakers lost?  What’s up with that…

 

Say what.JPG

 

Have a great day!

GO YANKEES!

–Scott 

 

Let the Battle Begin…

 

The new and improved Yankees make their way to Beantown for a three-game series beginning tonight…

 

The New York Yankees celebrate their 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on June 8, 2009.

David Pokress/Newsday

 

Fresh off a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks find themselves a game up on the Red Sox in the AL East Standings.  Of course, anything can happen over the next three days, but the stage is set for a major in-season battle for supremacy.

 

AP 

When they last played, New York was left with a 13-13 record after being swept in a two-game series in early May, Mark Teixeira was batting .198, and Alex Rodriguez was in Tampa in preparation of rejoining the team in Baltimore the following weekend.  Since A-Rod has arrived, the Yankees have been on a tear.  The Yankees record is now 34-23 and Mark Teixeira has improved his batting average to .286, with 18 home runs.

 

Mitsu Yasukawa/The Star Ledger 

 

The team chemistry is better than I’ve seen in a number of years.  A little Swish goes a long way…

 

Nick Swisher of the New York Yankees hits a two-run home run in the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 8, 2009 at Yankee Stadium.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Of course, the usual rhetoric is taking place with the latest Yankees-Red Sox series.  Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe wrote a story called “A missed mark” and went as far as to say the Yankees’ signing of Mark Teixeira at the Red Sox expense “…could loom as a pivotal turning point in baseball’s fiercest division”.    Teixeira is proving to be one of the best free agent signings ever by the Evil Empire.  He has obviously been playing in a higher league for the last month, but taking him away from a bitter rival can never be understated.  With Ortiz on the downslope, how much different would the Red Sox have looked with Tex at first and Kevin Youkilis at third?  Julia will give you all the reasons for why it’s great to have Mike Lowell in the lineup, but clearly they would have been better with Tex and Youk at the corners.  Fortunately, we’ll never know what could have been but rather what was meant to be…

 

New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 8, 2009 at Yankee Stadium.

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

Julia seems pretty confident that I’ll be wearing a Jason Bay t-shirt by the end of the week.  She also thought the Bruins were going to win the Stanley Cup and the Celtics were going to repeat as champions in the NBA.  She also said that the Patriots wouldn’t trade Matt Cassel.  So, when she says that the Red Sox will sweep the Yankees, I smile and wonder what she’ll look like wearing a Mark Teixeira t-shirt…

 

 

Like CC Sabathia said, “We’re pitching better, playing better defense obviously.  Getting A-Rod back makes a huge difference.  We’re a different team.”  Yes, Julia, there is a Santa Claus…

 

Other News…

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for their selection of pitcher Stephen Strasburg as the number one pick in the First Year Player Draft.  Granted, the pick had been anticipated for weeks, but I am hopeful to see Strasburg fulfill his tremendous promise.

 

 

In a departure from baseball talk, the Minnesota Vikings have given Brett Favre until the end of the week to decide if he’ll play in 2009.  Favre had arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder last month, and he still doesn’t know if he’ll be ready to resume his playing career.  Meanwhile, the Favre family has blocked out 25 to 30 hotel rooms for the November weekend when the Vikings will be in Green Bay to play the Packers.  Does it mean Favre will come out of retirement?  Who knows.  The family certainly has time to cancel the reservations.  I have mixed feelings.  I am all in favor of anything that would increase the Vikings chances for a 5th Super Bowl appearance.  Is Favre better than Sage Rosenfels or Tavaris Jackson?  If healthy, the answer is yes.  But it was miserable to watch Favre the second half of last season.  Is that the Favre we’d be destined to see?  If so, I’d prefer he just stay in Mississippi and only make a trip to Green Bay to retire his number.  Favre’s presence on the Vikings roster would probably cause the loss of John David Booty who has looked very much improved in this year’s OTA’s.  That price is too high for a one year gamble…

 

 

 

 –Scott

Proper Balance in the AL East…

 

It’s funny what a difference a day makes.  I took another look at that dog for the blog about yesterday’s loss, and miraculously its appearance has changed dramatically…

 


Cute Puppy.JPG

 

I will borrow the words of my friend in Boston; the Yankees are back where we belong!

 

AL East

W

L

Pct.

GB

New York

33

23

.589

Boston

33

24

.579

1/2

Toronto

32

27

.542

2 1/2

Tampa Bay

29

29

.500

5

Baltimore

24

32

.429

9

 

 

Looks good to me!  J  The teams should start Tuesday’s series with the Yankees either up by a game or the two teams in a deadheat since the Red Sox are off on Monday while the Yanks close out their series with the Rays.  Make no mistake, the Yankees-Red Sox series is huge.  The Yankees cannot afford to “no show” like they did earlier in the season.  With the Mets on the heels of the Red Sox, the next week is going to be very challenging and the team needs to show what it is made of.  Plus, the Yankees wouldn’t really want to see me in a Jason Bay t-shirt, would they?  Let’s hope that they put a Mark Teixeira t-shirt on my friend Julia!

 

Okay, I suppose I should say how we got to this point.  Sorry, I got a little ahead of myself…

 

Ahead.JPG

 

The Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays today, 4-3, in a comeback win.  It wasn’t the dramatic 9th inning walk-off variety, but it worked just as well.

Yankees win.JPG

The game was rather tight in the early going.  I was pleased to see Joba Chamberlain breeze through the first inning with three putouts by Mark Teixeira.  B.J. Upton started the scoring with a RBI double in the 3rd, bringing home Reid Brognac.  The Yankees countered in the bottom of the inning when Nick Swisher hit the 100th home run at Yankee Stadium this season, a solo shot.

 

Nick Swisher's solo homer accounted for the Yankees' only run before they scored three runs in the eighth to rally past the Rays.

 

During ESPN’s Baseball Tonight show prior to the game, the sportscasters attempted to predict who would hit the 100th home run.  Names like Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira were thrown out, but in the end, it was Swish!

 

 

The game remained tied at 1 until the 6th inning.  With a two-run single by Gabe Gross, the Rays took a 3-1 lead.  Joba only had 4 strikeouts on the day, but he registered a huge one when he struck out Dioner Navarro with two outs, and runners at second and third, preventing further damage by the Rays.

In the bottom of the 8th, with both starting pitchers long gone, the Yankees played a game of small ball.  After Derek Jeter flied out, Johnny Damon singled.  The next batter, Mark Teixeira, singled to advance Damon to third.

 

Christopher Pasatieri/US Presswire

 

Alex Rodriguez walked to load the bases.  J.P. Howell was brought in to relieve Grant Balfour who had started the top of the inning in relief of Joe Nelson.  He surrendered a walk to Robinson Cano, which scored Damon from third.  3-2 Rays.  Jorge Posada grounded into a fielder’s choice at third, which scored Teixeira.  A-Rod was safe at third, due to an error by third baseman Willy Aybar.  Game tied at 3.  Hideki Matsui came up next, and hit a grounder to second which took out Jorge Posada but Alex Rodriguez scored to put the Yanks up, 4-3.  Melky Cabrera missed a clutch scoring opportunity with a strikeout to end the inning, but the Yankees had their first lead of the game.

Bring on the 9th and Mariano Rivera.  A day earlier, the Rays had victimized Rivera, scoring 4 runs in the 9th to win 9-7.  In a controversial decision by manager Joe Girardi, Rivera had intentionally walked the Rays’ Evan Longoria.  But Sunday was a new day, and Mo, never one to back down, was prepared.  The first two batters were retired easily.  Matt Joyce grounded out to first, and Gabe Gross struck out swinging.  The next batter due up was Dioner Navarro, but he took a seat as Evan Longoria was brought in to pinch hit.  The dramatic stage was set.  Rivera versus Longoria.  The matchup that had never materialized the previous day due to the intentional pass ordered by Girardi.  Would Longoria tie the game or get on base as the potential tying run?  Or would Rivera re-establish his dominance as perhaps the greatest closer of all-time?  Longoria fouled the first two pitches to fall behind in the count, 0-2.  The next pitch was a ball to put the count at 1-2.  On the fourth pitch, Longoria grounded out to second and the ball game was over.  The Rays were no longer undefeated at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees had moved into a tie with the Boston Red Sox for first, and then moved forward by a ½ game later in the day when the Texas Rangers defeated the Red Sox 6-3.  Alfredo Aceves, who has truly morphed into the role once occupied by Ramiro Mendoza, was the winner with two innings of one-hit, shutout ball in relief of Chamberlain.  Rivera picked up his 13th save.

Goodnight to the Rays and Red Sox!  This day belonged to the Yankees…

 

Goodnight.JPG

 

So, although the weekend started on a depressing note, it rebounded very nicely! 

 


Never 2 late.JPG 

 

Hey Julia, the Yankees will soon be headed for Boston…with a vengeance!  Look out…

 


Turn out the lights.JPG 

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott 

A Very Unenjoyable Day…

 

It was ugly…

 

 

When you have a game where the Yankees give up a total of 9 runs, it is surprising that the pitchers included CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera.  But that’s what happened in a disappointing Saturday game against the Tampa Bay Rays that saw the Yanks fall, 9-7.

 

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

The Yankees had rallied from two runs down to tie the score at 5 in the 8th inning.  CC Sabathia pitched 8 innings, but a homer by Ben Zobrist in the 5th inning and a three-run shot in the 6th by Willy Aybar had allowed the Rays to take a 5-3 lead. 

In the Yankees’ 8th, Mark Teixeira greeted reliever Grant Balfour with a leadoff homer to pull the Yanks within one.  The Yanks added another run when Melky Cabrera hit into a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, scoring Jorge Posada.

The stage was set for a dramatic Yankees comeback and walk-off win, but it was not meant to be.

 

 

The usually reliable Mariano Rivera came out to open the 9th inning.  Ben Zobrist immediately hit a triple.  The next batter, Joe Dillon, singled to left single to score Zobrist with the go-ahead run.  The next two outs, a grounder and a fly out, advanced Dillon to third.  In a move that backfired and one that Rivera openly disagreed with, manager Joe Girardi called for Evan Longoria to be intentionally walked.  With Andy Sonnanstine running for Longoria, B.J. Upton followed with a single to score Dillon and advanced Sonnanstine to second.  In a rare occurrence, Rivera was pulled and Phil Coke was brought in to face Carl Crawford.  Crawford singled to left to score Sonnanstine, and Upton moved to third.  An error by Alex Rodriguez allowed Willy Aybar to reach first base, scoring Upton.  Crawford was thrown out attempting to steal third to finally end the horrific inning.

 

Jeff Zelevansky/AP

 

I do think it was inappropriate for Girardi to call for an intentional walk with Mo on the mound.  When you have your closer on the hill, I feel strongly that it should be an all or nothing proposition.  Mo wanted to pitch to Longoria, and he should have been allowed to.  Who knows, perhaps Longoria would have belted a homer, but we were never given the opportunity to find out.  Mo deserves better, and hopefully, he’ll be back to his usual stellar self before the current series concludes.

 

sportsgrumblings.com

 

The Yankees attempted to rally in the 9th.  Derek Jeter singled, and Johnny Damon doubled to put two runners in scoring position.  Mark Teixeira followed with a two-run double to bring the Yankees within two.  However, Tex was stranded at second as the next three Yankee batters were retired to end the game.  Former Yankee Randy Choate even picked up the save, his third of the season.

Tampa’s pitching phenom, David Price, pitched a good game.  In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up three runs on two hits (only one run was earned), walking 5 and striking out 3.

 

Photo 

AP

Alex Rodriguez hit his 561st career home run, leaving him two shy of Reggie Jackson for 11th place on the all-time list.

The Yankees remain winless at Yankee Stadium against their two key AL East Rivals, the Rays and the Boston Red Sox.  The Rays have won 3 games at the Stadium this year, and have a 4-2 mark overall for the season series.

I know that my friend, Kelly, is probably doing the Happy Dance in Tampa.  Thankfully, I haven’t heard from her yet but I know it’s coming if the games continue like this…

 

 

 

The loss, combined with the Red Sox win, dropped the Yankees out of first place.  They are now a ½ game behind Boston.  Boston beat the Texas Rangers 8-1 behind a tremendous pitching performance by Jon Lester.  I do have to tip my cap to Lester…he was masterful.  He had a perfect game through 6 1/3 innings.  He finished with a complete game, and allowed only 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 11.

 

Coming off his best start of the season, Lester looked even better against the Rangers. Lester fanned 11 on Saturday night, and has 23 strikeouts in his last two starts (he struck out a career-high 12 in his last start).

Globe Staff Photo/Barry Chin 

 

The game also included a David Ortiz home run, so I guess it was a perfect night for Julia

 

Matthew Healey/Boston Herald 

 

It was a tough day, but in the words of the Governor, I’ll be back!

 

 

Go Yankees!

 

–Scott

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