May 2010

Help Wanted: 8th Inning Set Up Guy…

Forget about 3 out of 4…

 

The Yankees may have won the weekend series against the Cleveland Indians, 3 games to 1, but they should have swept the series.  What happened on Saturday?  Four games and all I want to know is what happened to Joba Chamberlain? 

 

With a 10-4 lead in the fifth inning, the Yankees should have been able to skate to the victory.  Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.  CC Sabathia was less than sharp, so he does hold some responsibility for the Tribe’s momentum that ultimately led to the erasure of the six run lead against Sabathia and the New York bullpen.

 

But it’s getting torturous to watch Joba come into the game at times.    

 

The last two games, although close early on, were both heavily tilted toward the Yankees by the end of the games.  There was a sense that the Yankees would score the necessary runs in both games, which they won 7-3 and 11-2 on Sunday and Monday.  However, there was a common denominator in both games.  Neither featured an appearance by Joba Chamberlain.  At this point, we don’t know if he has a short memory or if this two week stretch is a sign of things to come.  Hopefully, he’ll right the ship and catch up with his teammates who appear to have moved past the struggles of late. 

 

Speaking of today’s win, hats off to Andy Pettitte.  It was a terrific outing by the left hander and in winning his 7th game of the season, he tied the Chairman of the Board, Whitey Ford, for 60th place on the all-time wins list at 236.  Of course, you have to wonder what could have been in terms of those three years in Houston.  When Andy left via free agency, I was surprised at the time given where he was on the Yankees career list for wins by a lefty.  So, instead of tying Ford for the most wins in franchise history, he is 37 wins behind at 199 Yankees victories.  This has been a fantastic year for Pettitte (7-1, 2.48 ERA), however, I feel this may be his last given how much more he has been talking about his family this year.  Regardless of what happens, Andy is doing it his way…

 

It is a startling statistic when Mark Teixeira is intentionally walked.  The grand slam by Alex Rodriguez in the seventh inning broke open what had been a tight pitching duel between Pettitte and Indians rookie Mitch Talbot.  When Teixeira is given a free pass, A-Rod is 5-for-5 with 3 home runs and 18 RBI’s.  So, please AL Managers, please continue to walk Mark Teixeira at your leisure!  J

 

Derek Jeter was hit by a Talbot pitch in the second inning and left the game after hitting a single in the 7th inning when the hamstring tightened.  Hopefully, DJ will be fine after a night’s rest. 

 

A special shout out to two brilliant pitching performances over the weekend.  Roy Halladay went a long way toward making Philly fans forget his recent rocky performances and Cliff Lee along the way in throwing a perfect game on Saturday night.  It was the 20th perfect game in Major League history and the second game this season (Dallas Braden of the Oakland A’s threw the other perfect game this season).  Also, Ubaldo Jimenez (10-1) of the Colorado Rockies became the majors’ first 10 game winner with a 4-0 victory over Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco Giants. 

 

The Tampa Bay Rays lost to the Toronto Blue Jays today so the Yankees are just 2.5 games out of first place.  But of course, the Jays and the Boston Red Sox are nipping at their heels.  The Jays are just a game behind the Yankees, and the Red Sox are just 2.5 games back.  So, the AL East lead could be taken by any one of the four teams depending upon who gets hot.  Let’s hope it gets hot for the Yankees…very hot!  

 

–Scott

A Slammin’ Great Time!…

 

It’s good to be home again…

 

 


Home.JPG 

 

 

The Yankees started the latest home stand on the right foot with an 8-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.  Phil Hughes was the winner in a game that was relatively tight until Robinson Cano broke it open in the bottom of the 7th inning with a grand slam. 

 

 

Indians Yankees Baseball

AP

 

 

For Hughes, it was great to see him return to top form after a few subpar performances.  He allowed 5 hits, 2 runs, and just 1 walk in seven innings of work, striking out 8.  Hopefully, the improved pitching will spill over to CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, both of whom have struggled in recent starts.    

 

 

4 YANKEES FARRELL.JPG

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

 

The game also marked the return of center fielder Curtis Granderson, who went 1-for-3 with a run scored.  The activation of Grandy had an effect on the roster as the Yankees designated outfielder Randy Winn for assignment.  It is a sad end for Winn’s brief Yankee career, but he was ill-suited for the backup role on the team.  I think he can still be a productive player, but he needs to play every day to be the player he was with the San Francisco Giants.  He was not going to get that opportunity with the Yankees, so this move is for the best.  It also allowed young, versatile Kevin Russo to remain on the roster.  Russo has already been instrumental in several Yankee wins this season, and he is a much better fit for the roster than Winn.  I do wish Randy the very best and thank him for his contributions to the team this season.

 

 

AP

 

 

Nick Swisher hit his 9th home run in the game.  I am pleasantly surprised with Swisher’s play this year.  I had been fearful that 2009 was an aberration and that Nick would revert to the player he was with the Chicago White Sox.  So far, he has proven me wrong.  After two months of the season, Nick has a .301 batting average and 27 RBI’s to go with his 9 home runs.  His numbers are definitely superior to former starter and current Chicago Cub Xavier Nady.

 

 

Nick Swisher hits a two-run homer in the second inning against the Indians on Friday night.

Keivom/NY Daily News 

 

 

I saw the question posed if the Yankees should pursue a trade for Andy Pettitte’s pal, Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt.  While it would seem that if the Astros do decide to trade Oswalt, the Texas Rangers would be the obvious choice.  Personally, I do think the Yankees should consider pursuit of him.  Clearly, Javier Vazquez has proven that he can’t handle the pressure of New York and the American League.  But he can still excel in the National League.  Houston’s low-pressure environment would be the right setting.  If the Yankees were to package Vazquez, plus cash to pay a large part of his salary, and the right combination of prospects, it would seem that the team could be successful in acquiring Oswalt.  It would slot very nicely into the rotation, and he’d be a great replacement for Andy Pettitte if/when Pettitte retires after the season.

 

 

81361902, Sports Illustrated/Getty Images /Sports Illustrated

 

 

Tonight was the perfect night in the AL East.  A win by the Yankees, combined with losses by both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays.  The perfect combination!

 

 

Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz

Boston Globe Staff

 

 

Speaking of winners, congratulations to American Idol winner Lee DeWyze.  Lee had become my choice in recent months, and it was great to see his victory on Wednesday over Crystal Bowersox.  Mama Sox would have been a terrific champion too, and I am sure that both will be very successful as they embark on their professional careers. 

 

 

Reuters

 

 

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend!

 

–Scott

 

Not A Good Day, A GREAT Day!…

 

Who knew that all it would take to put me in a good mood is a little rain, a couple of homers and great pitching?…

 

 

Happy Guy.JPG

 

The Yankees picked up two wins today against the Minnesota Twins.   The first game was the continuation of Tuesday’s game which had been suspended after five innings due to rain.  At the time, the game was scoreless, and the game was stopped after the conclusion of the bottom half of the inning.  So, for the game before the game today, it was essentially a short four inning game. 

 

 


Short.JPG 

 

 

In an interesting stat, Derek Jeter’s home run in the 6th inning (or first inning of the continued game today) made a winner of Tuesday’s starter, A.J. Burnett.  It’s not often you can pitch on one day and receive the win on a different day.  Jeter backed up the homer with a great defensive play in the bottom of the 6th to preserve the Yankees’ 1-0 lead which was subsequently the final score.  If this game had been in New York, Derek’s play would have been worth a pie!

 

 

Derek Jeter is congratulated by teammate Brett Gardner after hitting a solo homer for the New York Yankees in their 1-0 win over the Minnesota Twins.

King/AP

 

Mariano Rivera gave fantasy baseball owners a great thrill when he saved both games today.   Andy Pettitte went 8 innings in the regularly scheduled game to pick up his sixth win of the season.  The Twins had taken an early 1-0 lead, but the score was tied at 2 in the top of the 9th inning when Nick Swisher homered to give the Yankees a 3-2 advantage.  Once again, Mo trotted out and retired three batters in order to earn the second save of the day.   While Swisher’s homer was huge, the hitting star was once again rookie Kevin Russo.  He hit a game-tying double in the fourth, and his two-out single in the sixth led to another run.   Despite limited opportunity, Russo’s bat has been more effective than Alex Rodriguez in recent days. 

 

 

New York Yankees outfielder Kevin Russo doubles home a run in the fourth inning in support of Andy Pettitte (b.) who gives the Bombers eight solid innings for his sixth win of the year.

King/AP

 

The wins against the Twins are definitely a great start to putting last week behind us.  The Tampa Bay Rays, who had appeared invincible, have lost three straight games (a sweep) to the Boston Red Sox.  So, while the Yankees haven’t lost ground to the Rays, the Red Sox have been climbing.  Before the season, if you had said Josh Beckett would be on the DL, John Lackey struggling, and Jacoby Ellsbury ailing, I would not have given the Sox a chance.  Instead, they’ve stolen the “invincible” title from the Rays…at least for now.   

 

 

Kevin Youkilis congratulates Adrian Beltre after Beltre's three-run home run

Boston Globe staff

 

 

He’s back!  With two ex-Yankee relievers on the street following their respective releases (Chad Gaudin by the Oakland A’s and Brian Bruney by the Washington Nationals), the Yankees added one to their roster today (Gaudin).  To make room for Gaudin, lefty reliever Boone Logan was optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre and recent minor league free agent pickup Shane Lindsay was released from the 40-man roster.  Hopefully, Gaudin didn’t throw away his razor when he left the A’s…

 

 

AP

 

 

Wanted: Slumpbuster!…

 

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox are winning, and the Yankees, um, not so much…

 

 


Losing.JPG 

 

 

The proverbial “bump in the road” has occurred which derailed the great start to the season.  Of course, the Yankees are just a winning streak away from corrective action.  However, the recent days have not been fun.

 

 

ARod SO.JPG

Jeff Zelevansky/NY Post

 

After defeating the New York Mets on Friday night behind the brilliant, but injury-shortened, effort of Javier Vazquez, the Yankees and Phil Hughes lost on Saturday night, 5-3.  Hughes has mirrored the team play…great start followed by recent lackluster performances. 

 

 

Starting pitcher Phil Hughes

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

 

Tonight, the Yankees trail the Mets 6-0 in the top of the 7th inning.  There is still lots of time for the Yankees to rally.  But this team is definitely missing the “spark” right now.  I am not sure who’ll provide that spark, but perhaps the impending return of centerfielder Curtis Granderson will help.  While I enjoy the energy and excitement that Francisco Cervelli provides, a starting lineup that includes Cervelli, Juan Miranda, and Randy Winn/Marcus Thames/Kevin Russo definitely does not stir memories of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera. 

 

 

Nick Laham/Getty Images

 

 

Starting pitching, once a strength, is now suspect.  There was a time when the only slug in the rotation was Vazquez, and now he’s the only shining star.  CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes have all left pitching lines that they just as soon forget.  How quickly things have changed.  I recognize that this mini-slump is temporary, but so far, the Rays have not showed they are susceptible to these types of slowdowns.  Therefore, it is imperative for the Yankees to break out of this slump soon.  Otherwise, they’ll soon find themselves looking at the backs of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox. 

 

 

Boston Globe Staff

 

 

As much as I hate to do it, I have to give a tip of the cap to the Boston Red Sox.  Not only did they beat the Philadelphia Phillies today with Tim Wakefield, they beat Roy Halladay.  It was an impressive win by Julia‘s guys…

 

 

 

 

 

Hat Tip.JPG

 

Well, the Fat Lady did sing today.  The Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks in the NHL Western Conference Finals.  Another disappointing finish for Joe Thornton and Company.  Good luck to the Blackhawks as they move on to the Stanley Cup Finals to face either the Montreal Canadiens or the Philadelphia Flyers.  I am left to wonder what could have been.  But then again, that’s a frequent feeling when you are a fan of the Sharks and the Minnesota Vikings…  L

 

 

Sad2.JPG

 

 

 

All Better!…

 

It was a dream…

 

 


Dream.JPG 

 

 

Yes, that’s it!  Wednesday and Thursday did not happen.  The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t come into the Bronx and spank for the Yankees for two days.  They didn’t race to their 30th win of the season and show a superior starting rotation , did they? 

 

 

Tampa's James Shields allows three earned runs in 7-1/3 innings against the New York Yankees.

Antonelli/NY Daily News

 

 

Maybe if I go back to bed, when I get up it will be Wednesday morning, the Yankees can re-do those two forgettable days.  Seriously, the Rays didn’t just beat the Yanks, they stomped them.  The final scores are deceiving (10-6 and 8-6) only because the Yankees made it close in the final inning of each game. 

 

The games told me that the Rays need to do something about their bullpen, but otherwise, they are a complete team.  Given the injury trouble the Yanks have encountered, it’s tough to compete with the Rays when you are playing at about 80% strength.  That’s not an excuse though because the Yankees starting pitching was just, well, bad.

 

 

Rays celebrate Yankees

Kevin R. Wexler/The Record

 

Hopefully, the Yankees can re-group and play more competitive baseball the next time they face the Rays.  This has been a tough stretch but it was bound to happen with the adversity the team has faced (injuries, playing every day, added pressure on schedule caused by rainout in Detroit and subsequent double-header, etc.).

 

In both games, the Yankees did try to launch 9th inning rallies, scoring 4 runs in the first game and 2 runs in the 2nd.  It was not quite enough, but at least the team showed fight until the end. 

 

 

 

Tonight, the Yankees were in Flushing Meadow to face the New York Mets at CitiField.  After facing the Rays and Red Sox, it is probably a welcome relief to see the Mets who have struggled this year. 

 

It was a great night for Javier Vazquez until a hand injury ended his night.  With, by far, his best performance of the season (6 innings of one hit, no run ball and 6 strikeouts), Javy picked up his third win of the season.  He was at home in a National League ballpark.  The argument is that he is a better NL pitcher than AL, and on this night, he proved it.  Hopefully, the hand injury is not serious, and this start catapults Vazquez back to respectability with Yankees fans.  I know that he can pitch so much better than what he has regardless of the stadium location, so if he can right himself mentally, he’ll be okay and will provide the lift the rotation needs. 

 

 

javy_kevinp_coughlin_mct_yanks.JPG

Kevin P. Coughlin/McClatchy

 

 

In addition to Javy, the star of the game was a name not many people know,  Kevin Russo.  The infielder was recently called up from the minors, and his double in the 7th inning scored Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli.

 

 

 

 

 

I was a bit concerned when Joe Girardi called on Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the 7th, but he did his job.  Joba, who I blamed for the losses to the Twins on Sunday and Red Sox on Tuesday, was very effective.  He went 1 2/3 innings and had three timely strike outs.  Now, Mariano Rivera is a different story.  He continues to struggle.  The shut-out was lost when Jason Bay and Ike Davis hit back-to-back doubles.  But he settled down to get David Wright on a ground out to end the game.  The Yankees won, 2-1.

 

The night was further enhanced by Boston and Tampa losses.  The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Red Sox, 5-1, while the Houston Astros defeated the Rays, 2-1. 

 

 

 

Werth.JPG

Steven M. Falk/Philly.com

 

Speaking of the Red Sox, the Yankees have signed minor league utility player Jeff Natale who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005.  The 27-year-old heads for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  It was also interesting to see three former Yankee relievers in the transactions column within the past day.  Chad Gaudin was released by the Oakland A’s, who also outrighted Edwar Ramirez to AAA Sacramento, while the Washington Nationals placed Brian Bruney on waivers (which he has cleared).  From World Series ring to what have you done for me lately…hopefully, the guys will re-surface in the bigs in the not-so-distant future.

 

 

Michael Stobe/US Presswire

 

It’s almost over for my San Jose Sharks.  They lost tonight in overtime to fall down 3 games to none to the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Western Conference Finals.  I think I hear the fat lady warming up her vocal cords…  L

 

Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News

 

 

 

So, Brett Favre has told the Southern Mississippi baseball team that he’ll return to the Minnesota Vikings if they make the College World Series.  Also, it was reported today that Brett had surgery on his left ankle and could be ready to play by training camp.  I’ve suspected all along that he’ll be back.  The team has been too nonchalant and these latest reports are signs that Brett intends to play.  It still remains to be seen, but it is looking like we’ll see an encore performance by #4 in purple and gold.  I am sure Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are thrilled…

 

 

Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

 

 

Hey Javy, nice job!  J

 

Yankee pitcher Javier Vazquez allows just one hit over six innings, while rookie Keven Russo (below) collects his two RBI on his first big-league hit Friday.

Simmons/NY Daily News

What Have You Done For Me Lately…

 

The agony of defeat…

 

 

Agony of Defeat.JPG

 

 

It’s amazing how you can go from a very high “high” to a very low “low” in 24 hours.  A night after a walk-off home run by Marcus Thames, he was a goat in last night’s 7-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox.  His drop of Marco Scutaro’s fly ball in the 9th inning was a crucial blow that set the stage for Jeremy Hermida’s two-run double that gave Boston the runs it would need to win.

 

 

thames0519.JPG

Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger

 

 

There were several goats in this loss.  Thames didn’t shoulder the blame alone.  You really have to start with the awful performance by Joba Chamberlain.  On Sunday, he allowed the floodgates to open for the Twins and the momentum crushed Mariano Rivera.  In many ways, it happened again last night.  Chamberlain didn’t allow the runs in the 9th (Rivera did), however, the Red Sox had clearly taken the momentum of the game with the 4 run 8th inning to tie the score.  I could tell after a couple of batters that Joba didn’t have it last night, but manager Joe Girardi stuck with Chamberlain to erase the 5-1 advantage.

 

 

New York Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain (c.) gives up four innings in the eighth inning.

Keivom/NY Daily News 

 

The Yankees had their chance for late inning heroics but this time Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon closed the door.  The Yanks were able to pick up a run on a Robinson Cano double in the bottom of the 9th.  However, with the game-tying and game-winning runs on 2nd and 3rd, Juan Miranda grounded out and Randy Winn struck out to end the game.

 

 

Jonathan Papelbon 

Boston Globe

 

 

The Yankees (25-14) fell another game behind the Tampa Bay Rays with the loss.  The Rays, who are in town for a two-game series before the start of the weekend’s matchup against the Mets, beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-2 and are now 28-11.  Unless Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera can return the bullpen to a strength, the series against the Rays will be very difficult to win.  It’s too bad that a very strong performance by CC Sabathia was wasted last night,  The Yanks could have used it against the Rays.  Let’s hope that A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte are up to the task.

 

 

A.J. Burnett gets six-game ban for throwing at Rangers' Nelson Cruz Tuesday.

Antonelli/NY Daily News

 

On the bright side, I did somehow manage to win the latest wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants.  After the Sox had taken the 7-5 lead, we were tied with total runs (16 runs for both teams).  But Cano’s 9th inning RBI gave the Yankees a total of 17 runs, so I won on that basis despite the split of the two-game series.  So, stay tuned for a post by Julia which will detail the Yankees’ first World Series championship.  She has assured me that she will use as few words as possible!  Of course, I say when is Julia ever at a loss for words!

 

 

 

It was not a particularly good night for me as the San Jose Sharks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, to fall behind 2 games to none in the NHL Western Conference Finals.

 

 

Mercury News 

 

 

At least Lee Dewyze gave a masterful performance on the American Idol stage so the night wasn’t a total loss.  His rendition of Hallelujah clearly set him apart from his competition (Crystal Bowersox and Casey James), and as Randy Jackson says, he’s in it to win it.  Unless American Idol is nothing more than a popularity contest, Casey James should be heading back to Texas tonight for an AI final pitting Bowersox against Dewyze.  It should be a great one!

 

 

It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This…

The thrill of victory…

 

Marcus Thames (right) hit a walkoff home run in the ninth inning to lift the Yankees to an 11-9 victory over the Red Sox Monday at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox trailed much of the game, but rallied to take a 9-7 lead in the eighth. Then the Yankees tied the score in the ninth on Alex Rodriguez's two-run home run, setting up Thames' heroics.

Kathy Willens/AP

 

 

It’s always nice when the Yankees can snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.  After blowing early 5-0 and 6-1 leads, the Yankees found themselves looking up to the Boston Red Sox on the scoreboard at 9-7 in the 9th inning.  On a night when Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson were unavailable, the bullpen was horrific.  Phil Hughes was not good in his worst start of the season, but he left with a lead which the Yankees failed to keep.  Chan Ho Park, forced to go two innings by the depleted pen and fresh off the DL, gave up two home runs to give Boston its 2-run advantage headed into the 9th inning.  With the Red Sox threatening to score in the top of the 9th with two outs, manager Joe Girardi called on Javier Vazquez to secure the final out.  He was up to the task, as he struck out Kevin Youkilis with runners at first and third.

 

Javier Vazquez pitches to one batter to pick up the win against the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

So, the drama was set for the bottom of the 9th.  Brett Gardner doubled to start the inning, and was on third following a fly out when Alex Rodriguez came to the plate.  He jumped on the first pitch and deposited the ball in the left center seats to tie the game. 

 

 

The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez tosses his bat after hitting a game-tying two-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Mike Segar/Reuters

 

The next hitter (Robinson Cano) flied out for the second out, but Francisco Cervelli was hit by a pitch to bring Marcus Thames up for his opportunity.  The man who homered off of Randy Johnson for his first major league home run found this night would be the most magical of his career.  There was no doubt when Thames blasted Jonathan Papelbon’s pitch to left for the game-winning, walk-off two-run home run.  No pies were safe following the game…

 

 

New York Yankees outfielder Marcus Thames is the victim of the season's first cream pie as his Yankee teammates (b.) wait for him to come home after his two-run homer in the ninth inning.

Sipkin/New York Daily News

 

 

It was a great night, and a very much needed win following the meltdown against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday (when Mariano Rivera gave up a bases-loaded walk followed by a grand slam to lose the game).  It was tremendous to see Marcus Thames have his moment at the Stadium and for Javy Vazquez to get the win with just four pitches.

 

 

VICTORIOUS! Marcus Thames (above, center) is congratulated by his teammates at home plate after his walk-off two-run home run during the ninth inning of the Yankees' 11-9 victory over the Red Sox. Thames got the customary cream pie after the game. ,

AP

 

 

Today’s game, the conclusion of the two-game series, pits Josh Beckett against CC Sabathia.  It should be a thrilling game!  But then again, aren’t they all at Yankee Stadium?  J

 

Wager Score:  Scott 1, Julia 0!  And oh yeah Julia, the Los Angeles Lakers won!  

 

Lakers are off to a scorching start in Western Conference finals against Suns

LA Times 

 

 

It’s Just Another Manic Monday…

 

 

  

 

Robert Frost once said he could sum up everything he has learned about life in three words.  “It goes on”…

 

 


Think Happy.JPG 

 

 

It was one of those days for the great Mariano Rivera and the Yankees on Sunday.  The Yankees had controlled the majority of the game after a Randy Winn triple in the bottom of the 2nd inning had given them an early 2-1 lead.

 

Sergio Mitre did everything asked of him as he went 5 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 1 run.  David Robertson, who has been struggling, came on in relief of Mitre and was effective for two innings.

 

 

Sergio Mitre pitched one-run ball through five innings.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

So, the Yankees had the perfect formula for victory (Chamberlain + Rivera), right?  Wrong.  Joba allowed the first batter to reach base during the top of the 8th inning when Denard Span singled.  Following a fielder’s choice which left Orlando Hudson at first, Joe Mauer walked.  Joba struck out the next batter (Justin Morneau), and it looked as though he might escape the inning without any further damage.  Unfortunately, an infield single by Michael Cuddyer loaded the bases and ended Joba’s afternoon.  Manager Joe Girardi called on Mariano Rivera for a four-out save.  Mo quickly fell behind the first batter he faced (Jim Thome) and eventually walked him to bring in a run (closing the Yankees lead to 3-2).  Mo was unable to shut the door as the next hitter, Jason Kubel, smashed a grand slam to right to give the Twins the lead, 6-3.

 

 

Mariano Rivera shows his frustration after giving up an 8th inning game-winning grand slam to the Twins' Jason Kubel.

Antonelli/New York Daily News

 

 

Jason Kubel Twins grand slam Mariano Rivera Yankees

William Perlman/The Star Ledger

 

The Yankees tried to rally in the bottom of the 9th and had the first two men on base.  But Twins closer Jon Rauch struck out Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner and Mark Teixeira to end the game.

 

This was a very disappointing loss.  The Yankees have had great success against the Twins at Yankee Stadium and had won the first two games of this series.  A win today would have put a psychological knife into the Twins or the very least would have given them doubts about their ability to win at the Stadium in October.  For the Twins, it was a huge win and it lifted the monkey off their backs.  Prior to the game, former Twins great Bert Blyleven labeled it as a “must win”

 

 

Star Tribune

 

So, the weekend ends on a down note for the Yankees as they await the arrival of their fiercest rival, the Boston Red Sox, for a two-game series in the Bronx starting on Monday.

 

 

 

 

Of course, Yankees-Red Sox can only mean one thing.  It’s time for another wager between me and my friend Julia of Julia’s Rants.  For the latest wager, the loser must write a blog about the opposing team’s first World Series victory.  If the teams split the series, the winner will be the team with the highest run total.  The Red Sox did lose today to Johnny Damon and the Detroit Tigers so neither the Yanks or Sox carry any momentum into the latest series.

 

 


No Momentum.JPG 

 

 

The Yankees received some bad news when it was announced that DH Nick Johnson may need wrist surgery.  They’ll first try a cortisone shot, but if it doesn’t work, surgery will be the next option which would most likely shelf Johnson until August.  This is exactly what Yankee fans had feared when Johnson signed with the Yanks during the off-season as Johnny Damon’s replacement.  GM Brian Cashman says that Johnson’s injury potential was taken into consideration, however, it doesn’t appear that there is a solid Plan B in place.  I like the lineup with Posada at DH and Francisco Cervelli at catcher, however, that may or may not be a good long term solution.  I’d prefer more of a sure thing (trade for Johnny Damon?), but unfortunately, the trade market will not be open until July (or June at the earliest).

 

 

Tigers designated hitter Johnny Damon steals second as Rangers second baseman Joaquin Arias applies the late tag during the fourth inning of the Tigers' 8-4 win Saturday in Arlington, Texas.

Brandon Wade/AP

 

 

It was a particularly tough sports day for me today as the San Jose Sharks lost 2-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the NHL Western Conference Finals.  I am sure that if I need to hear some positive sports news, Julia will be more than happy to tell me all about the Boston Celtics’ Game 1 win over the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals…  L

 

San Jose Mercury News

 

 

The day did have a great start for me before the games began.  I participated in the 99th Annual Bay to Breakers 12K Run in San Francisco.  The run started near the Bay by Embarcadero and headed west (up the Hayes Street Hill and through Golden Gate Park) to the Pacific Ocean. 

 

 

 


Bay to Breakers Intro.JPGSan Francisco Chronicle 

 

In San Francisco, you have to be prepared to see just about anything…and I did!  Many runners (and walkers) chose to wear costumes while some opted for nothing at all.  I took the more conservative and traditional route myself.  I do not know the total headcount but the run was very slow at the beginning and going up the Hayes Street Hill due to the sheer volume of people. 

 

 

Bay to Breakers 1.JPG

 

 

Hayes Street Hill.JPG

 

 

Bay Breakers 2.JPGSan Francisco Chronicle

 

Personally.  I accomplished my modest goal of running the race inside of an hour.  It was a fun and very enjoyable day…well, at least until the 8th inning at Yankee Stadium!

 

–Scott

 

 

 

Motor City Misery…

 

The string comes unwound…

 

 

Unwound.JPG

 

The Yankees had been successful in every season series this year except for their trip to Anaheim, CA, but the string of success came to a resounding thud in Detroit.  The Tigers were victorious in winning 3 of 4 games against the Yankees.

 

 

Sancya/AP

 

 

The Tigers took a close game on Monday, 5-4, when a late Yankees rally fell short.  Tuesday was rained out, so the team played two the next day.  Despite a strong performance by Javier Vazquez (his best of the season, by far), the Yanks fell 2-0 in the first game.  They rebounded in the nightcap behind a very strong performance by Phil Hughes, which is rapidly becoming “the norm” for #65.  The game was close most of the way until the Yankees scored 6 runs in the 9th to win, 8-0. 

 

 

New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes collects eight strikeouts over 6-2/3 innings.

Burleson/AP

 

 

In the getaway game, the Yanks were shut out for the second time in three games, 6-0.  The game was highlighted by a disappointing outing by CC Sabathia.

 

 

CC Sabathia surrenders six runs on nine hits as the Tigers blast the Bombers 6-0 and become just the second team to win a series from the Yankees.

Burleson/AP

 

Tonight, the Yankees are back in the Bronx for a weekend series against the Minnesota Twins. 

 

As it stands right now, I am concerned about the team.  Andy Pettitte pitches on Saturday and there is uncertainty regarding his health.  He has missed a start due to elbow stiffness and it would not be realistic to expect his high level of performance in April to continue. 

 

The rainout in Detroit, forcing Javier Vazquez to pitch on Wednesday, has pushed Javy’s next start back a day so Sergio Mitre will start Sunday against the Twins.

 

My biggest concern is the ongoing health challenges the team has faced.  For awhile, it seemed as though every win was accompanied by an injury.  I know the Yankees spare no expense, but at times, I do wonder about the team’s strength and conditioning program.   It is a completely unsubstantiated remark, but the constant little injuries do make you wonder what the cause might be. 

 

Curtis Granderson is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, but he has yet to begin running again.  He is scheduled to do some light running this weekend, and has been vigorously working out.  However, if he hasn’t started running, it does not appear he’ll be back immediately.  Nothing against Marcus Thames, Randy Winn or Greg Golson, but I’d prefer to see those guys coming off the bench…not starting in the outfield.

 

Other Yankees have been dinged up…Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, et al.  Chan Ho Park and Alfredo Aceves are on the DL with Granderson, although Park is expected back soon.

 

A trip to October always includes a bit of luck so hopefully the Yanks will be able to overcome these string of injuries without losing too much ground to the Tampa Bay Rays…or let the dreaded Boston Red Sox catch up.

 

 

 

On the bright side (for me), the San Jose Sharks will soon begin the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup.  I had hoped for a Stanley Cup collision against my friend, Julia, but unfortunately, her Boston Bruins let a 3 games to none lead slip away.  That also included a 3-0 lead in Game 7.  So close Julia, “but so far away”.  Sorry, my friend.  At least we still have hope in the NBA play-offs as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are in their respective conference finals.  So, we’ll have to hope for Lakers-Celtics in the finals, with a Sharks-Bruins match-up just a dream for future years.

 

 

 

And The Winner Is…Me!…

 

Another wager, another victory!…

 

 

I Win.JPG

 

Yet again, my friend, Julia of Julia’s Rants, came up on the short end of our latest wager.  After starting last year 0-8 against Boston, I was starting to wonder if the Yankees would ever beat the Red Sox.  Since then, the Yankees have dominated the series.  Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, the Yankees will have captured another series.  Since the beginning of the season, the Yankees have only lost one series (versus the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim).

 

Saturday, in a nationally televised game, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 14-3.  The game featured three home runs by first baseman Mark Teixeira (although I temper that somewhat by the fact that the last home run was off outfielder Jonathan Van Every who was brought in to save the arms in the pen).

 

 

Mark Teixeira home run congratulations Yankees Red Sox

Matthew Cavanaugh/EPA

 

 

CC Sabathia missed picking up the win by one out.  While facing Victor Martinez, who could have been the third out of the inning, the game was interrupted by a rain delay that ended the night for CC.  When the game resumed, Alfredo Aceves was on the mound and it was he who picked up the win. 

 

 

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia drills Boston's Dustin Pedroia in the backside, sending the Red Sox a message on Saturday.

Sipkin/Daily News

 

The game marked several historic achievements.  Teixeira is the first Yankee since Lou Gehrig in 1927 to hit at least three home runs in one game against the Red Sox.  Also, catcher Francisco Cervelli, filling in for Jorge Posada, had 5 RBI’s, something that hasn’t been done by a Yankees catcher since the days of Yogi Berra.

 

 

 

 

Today, history was made in Oakland when pitcher Dallas Braden threw the first perfect game in A’s history since Jim “Catfish” Hunter did it in 1968.  Given that I credit Catfish Hunter for being a Yankees fan (I rooted for the A’s as a child until Hunter signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1974), it was rather bittersweet to see his A’s record matched by, of all people, Dallas Braden.  Braden, president of the Anti A-Rod Club or so it seems, nearly walked the final batter as he worked a 3-1 count but a ground-out upheld the gem.  The victory was especially sweet since it came against the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays.  It was rather ironic that Braden would help the man he bitterly opposes.  For the record, I was on Braden’s side of his beef with A-Rod, but Braden does need to let it go (as he made further comments about it this week).  Nevertheless, congratulations to Braden for a very fine performance. 

 

 

Athletics Dallas Braden grandmother perfect game

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

 

The San Jose Sharks finally overcame their nemesis and advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a 2-1 Game 5 victory against the Detroit Red Wings.  First or second round failures have become commonplace for the Sharks in recent years so hopefully the team has shaken its demons and is a collision course with the Stanley Cup.  The team now awaits the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks series (Chicago leads 3 games to 2).

 

 

Josie Lepe/Mercury News

 

 

Back to the Yankees, they weren’t so fortunate in Boston tonight as Jon Lester was on his game and A.J. Burnett wasn’t.  A.J. gave up 9 runs in 4 1/3 innings (8 earned), meanwhile, Lester went 7 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 7. 

 

 

The Red Sox needed a strong start from Jon Lester to stop the bleeding.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

 

 

So, congratulations to Julia for her victories today (the Celtics also won), and she was right, the Red Sox avoided the sweep.  But still the wager victory is mine and the series win goes to the Yankees, so until we meet again Julia!  By the way, don’t you have some shopping to do?….

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.