Too Close For Comfort…
Such a great start…
Such a disappointing middle and end…
Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in
St. Petersburg, FL, started so strong, but then the team’s offense
flatlined. After a Derek Jeter single
and a Nick Swisher home run to start the game, the Yankees could only manage
two more hits (singles by Robinson Cano) the rest of the way against winner
Wade Davis and the Rays bullpen.
Similarly, Phil Hughes started strong and it looked
like he was cruising with a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the 6th
inning when a three-run home run by Matt Joyce put the Rays up, 3-2 (which
proved to be the final score).
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
Alex Rodriguez was a huge disappointment…again…as
he went 0-for-4 in his extended quest for 600 home runs. The only way that A-Rod could have gotten a
hit would have been for Mark Teixeira to smack him. I’ll be glad when he finally does hit #600
because this is getting painful watching the pathetic at-bats.
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
The Rays found themselves just a game out of first
place, with Matt Garza on the mound Saturday against Javier Vazquez. Garza threw a no-hitter against the Detroit
Tigers in his last outing, so he’ll be looking to extend the scoreless, hitless
streak against the Yankees. Hopefully,
Javy will be up for the challenge.
With less than 24 hours to the trading deadline,
the Yankees finally pulled off a couple of deals, neither of which address the
more pressing needs (bullpen help and a backup third baseman to spell A-Rod). Granted, GM Brian Cashman is not finished,
but so far, he has added a DH and a part-time left fielder to the mix. I had wondered who would be the first player
of the post-Boss Steinbrenner era. The
award goes to first baseman Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros. He agreed to the deal that would send him to
New York for a couple of minor leaguers, but as a 10-and-5 player, the Yankees
must wait 24 hours before the deal can be finalized.
The Yankees later acquired outfielder Austin Kearns
from the Cleveland Indians, so, technically, he’ll arrive on the Yankees roster
sooner than Berkman.
Berkman effectively replaces injured Nick Johnson
as the full-time designated hitter. Nick,
who is still on the DL due to a wrist injury, is nearing his return, but he
obviously cannot be relied upon given his injury history (something the Yankees
should have recognized when they signed him last fall). Berkman is a good friend of Andy Pettitte’s
from their days in Houston so I am sure that played in Berkman’s decision to
join the Yanks after nixing previous deals like the one that would have sent
him to Anaheim as a replacement for Kendry Morales.
The 34-year-old Berkman has begun the downward
descent of his career, and is batting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI’s. It is
the Yankees’ hope that the excitement of a pennant chase will energize
Berkman. The Yankees sent minor leaguers
Mark Melancon, a reliever, and Jimmy Paredes, an infielder, to Houston in the
deal. Melancon, 25, was once being groomed as an eventual
successor for Mariano Rivera, but he’s failed to achieve his potential.
The other new Yankee is former Reds, Nationals and
Indians outfielder Austin Kearns. Kearns
was in the Tribe’s lineup tonight and had a couple of hits until he was lifted
in the 7th for a pinch runner.
Kearns will move from a starting role to a part-time one with the Yanks,
and he’ll most likely start in left when Brett Gardner slides to center in
relief of Curtis Granderson against certain lefthanders. Kearns is batting .272 with 8 HR’s and 42 RBI’s.
Both players will probably be long gone by Spring
Training 2011, but for now, they have a chance to play a major role in the
Yankees’ drive for the play-offs.
The Yankees do not plan to be quiet before the end
of the trading deadline as they are rumored to be one of several teams involved
in discussions with the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ted Lilly, a former Yank, and
according to a tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney, they are working on a deal for a
back-up third baseman.
Regardless of what happens, the Rays are guaranteed
of seeing faces tomorrow that weren’t present at Tropicana Field tonight. I just hope that tomorrow doesn’t find Adam
Dunn in the opposing dugout.
At least the Boston Red Sox lost tonight…