Results tagged ‘ Twins ’

Right on Target…

 

The weather is Minnesota was beautiful…

Last Sunday, I attend a simply great baseball game.  Well, outside of a few harmless errors and miscues.  As a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, I went to Target Field and saw the Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 3-0.  It was a great afternoon for baseball (temperature in the upper 70’s, with lots of sun).

The game was a pitcher’s duel in the early going.  I was surprised when the Twins pulled starter Nick Blackburn in the second inning despite not giving up any runs, but later heard that he had been injured.  The Twins bullpen did a good job until the 7th inning when Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run.  I was watching him run between second and third, and his stride is so long that he almost looks like he is going slow motion.  There wasn’t much hesitation as he rounded third and headed home.  I always cringe when players go in for headfirst slides but Curtis slide his hand across home plate before the ball arrived and the Yanks were up 2-0.  In retrospect, the Twins outfielders blew the play when both the right and center fielders went to the wall on Granderson’s hit ball which bounced off the wall.  One of the outfielders should have backed up the other, but that’s the hazard of fielding a young, inexperienced outfield.

Mark Teixeira followed with one of those line drive shots that never drop as the ball was deposited in the left field stands.

The Twins definitely had their chances.  At one point, they had men on second and third with no outs and couldn’t score.  David Robertson worked out of a jam in the 8th when the bases were loaded despite no balls leaving the infield.  There were miscues, like when a ball dropped between Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson (you get it, no, you get it…) or A-Rod’s bobble of what should have been a routine fielding play.  Fortunately, the Twins couldn’t do anything with the opportunities, so the Yankees emerged the victor.  I had a decent seat (lower level, left field) but for the 9th inning, I moved over to the standing area behind the home plate lower level seats.  I had a perfect line to watch Mariano Rivera throw his cutter to catcher Russell Martin, and it was great to catch that view.  It was also nice to see Mariano walk off the field with another save…

I am always amazed at how many Yankees fans are in attendance on road games.  Not that I’d feel threatened in Minnesota, but it’s nice having “support” nearby!

So close yet so far away…

Monday night’s game was a disappointment.  After the Yanks fell behind 6-0, I wrote the game off.  But then, in the final two innings, the Yanks brought it to within one at 6-5, with the bases loaded.  I started to get excited about the potential huge comeback, but Nick Swisher hit a fly ball that was caught near the fence to end the game.  That was harder to accept than if the Yanks had just lost 6-0.  Then, of course, every time I looked at the TV, the loss was scrolling across the ticker on ESPN.  While A.J. Burnett is my personal favorite to be yanked (no pun intended) from the rotation, I realize that there are financial reasons for why that move won’t be made.  Therefore, the next to go would be Bartolo Colon.  I’d definitely take Freddy Garcia over Colon, and there is no way that Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova will be coming out of the rotation anytime soon.

Of course, as I sit here typing this blog, Nick Swisher has just hit a home run to put the Yanks up 2-1 over the Oakland A’s in the 6th inning.  Dude, where was that shot last night?…

Wasn’t he a Yankee for about 5 minutes a few years ago…

I saw the blurb today that the Yankees had claimed Chicago Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena on waivers.  Listening to comments from GM Brian Cashman, it doesn’t sound like the Yanks will do anything, but it would be nice to acquire Pena as an option at DH and a backup to Mark Teixeira.  He is definitely familiar with the AL East having played with the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays.  I don’t like Pena’s batting average, but his other stats are respectable.  The Yanks clearly need a clutch bat on the bench and perhaps Pena could be the guy if the Yanks and Cubs can work out a trade.

Fat, dumb, and happy…

Entering play tonight, the Yankees held an 8 ½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays.  While that’s certainly not insurmountable, it’s nice to have such a large cushion as we enter the final days of August.  Granted, I’d prefer to win the AL East, but then again, with the current play-off structure, it doesn’t really matter.  If the Yanks can keep the lead in the WC standings, they should be able to rest some guys in September to allow the team to head into October at full strength.  At this point, my biggest concern is getting a healthy Alex Rodriguez on the field.

Have a good night!

–Scott

Hey, this team’s not so bad after all!…

 

As the Fonz said, I am ‘wrrrro…, I am wwwrrroo..’…

I was a pessimist in spring training…a non-believer.  I didn’t think the Yankees could compete with the Boston Red Sox with their current roster after the off-season spurning by pitcher Cliff Lee.  At the time, the Yankees were trying to piece together a rotation that was void of both Lee and Andy Pettitte, who opted to retire.

At the trading deadline, the Yankees were silent while the Red Sox were busy acquiring infielder Mike Aviles from the Kansas City Royals and pitcher Erik Bedard from the Seattle Mariners.

Yet, on the morning of August 16th, the Yankees found themselves in a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox.  Not bad for a team that has been rated as inferior to the Red Sox by so many, including me.  It is no secret that the Red Sox have owned the Yankees in their head-to-head match-up’s but of course that doesn’t mean a thing in October.  Still, if the Yankees had been able to at least play .500 ball against the Sox, they’d have a fairly comfortable lead in the division.  That’s probably where Lee and Pettitte would have made a difference, but who knows, perhaps they could have been even worse.

Despite the team’s success, I still do not like the prospects for October against the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers.  Like the Red Sox, the Rangers were able to add some quality arms to the bullpen when they picked up Mike Adams from the San Diego Padres and Koji Uehara from the Baltimore Orioles.  I do not like moves for the sake of simply making a move so perhaps the Yankees did the best thing by standing pat.  But the team still has too many shortcomings that can be exposed in a short series.  Part of me pulls for a Bronx return by Hideki Matsui who has cleared waivers for the Oakland A’s.  Matsui has shown there is still ‘clutch’ in his bat and used in the right spots, he could be a valuable weapon.  The team is counting very heavily on the return of Alex Rodriguez, but they need a contingency plan.   The DH spot has been weak, for the most part, with Jorge Posada and Eric Chavez.  Granted, Posada had a recent 6 RBI game that that’s clearly an aberration at this point of his career.  I haven’t seen too many timely hits off his bat this season.

GM Brian Cashman is making the usual comments that he does not envision any trading activity this month, but of course, you never really know what is up his sleeve.  So much of it has to do with posturing and trying to make the opposition believe that you aren’t desperate.

What have you done for me lately…

As for Posada, I am ready to cut ties.  He has been a long and faithful Yankee, and certainly a very passionate one.  However, I do not see a role on the 2012 Yankees for him.  At this point, he has become a liability, and if he wishes to extend his career, I am okay with it being in another uniform.  Hopefully, he doesn’t decide to go someplace like Boston, but I’d hope that he would make a respectful decision for the Yankees fans.  All things considered, I wish that he’d simply hang up the catcher’s mitt at the end of the season and call it a career but I don’t think that’s going to happen.  If I have to pick between Posada and Jesus Montero on the roster next year, Montero wins hands down.  Sorry, Jorge, but I am looking forward to your participation on Old Timer’s Day.

A quiet major milestone even if it was a booming blast…

Congratulations to Jim Thome for slugging his 600th home run against the Detroit Tigers last night.  It was an interesting stat that he was the first player to hit both his 599th and 600th home runs in the same game, and no one had ever hit his 600th in the next at-bat after 599.  Babe Ruth was the closest, needing two at-bat’s.  Thome’s march to 600 was one of the quietest milestone marches that I’ve experienced, and I even call Minneapolis home these days.  I’ve never thought of him as a superstar, but he has consistently been a home run producer for many years.  In my mind, he was never top shelf talent but he was always in the next tier and his career has spanned longer than many top shelf players.  Does that qualify for entry to the Hall of Fame?  It will be an interesting debate.  He is certainly not a first ballot shoo-in, but he’ll probably find his way eventually.

Time to see my guys…

The Yankees will be coming to the Twin Cities this week, so I’ll be at one of the games this weekend.  During my short time in Minneapolis, I have come to appreciate Target Field.  I am a fan of many of the newer ballparks, and I like some better than others.  But Target Field has a good feel to it, and I like its downtown location.  I intend to wear my Yankees cap, which might not be the best idea when walking downtown, but I am sure that I won’t be alone…

Waiting for the opportunity…

As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Vikings, it was tough a few years ago when I had to adjust to the sight of longtime enemy Brett Favre in purple.  I actually did enjoy his first year, although the second one was a disappointment.  But it is probably harder for me to accept the sight of Donovan McNabb in purple.  Okay, I wasn’t one of those guys who booed when the Philadelphia Eagles selected McNabb in the draft over RB Ricky Williams, but I was never overly impressed with McNabb in his Philly days.  I even lived in the area during his final years with the Eagles, and perhaps my impression of McNabb is tainted by the bitterness that Eagles fans held toward him.  Yes, he won, but he never won the games that truly counted.  It’s a team sport so you can’t hang total blame on him, but he is just not someone that I’ve ever been able to embrace as one of the game’s best QB’s.  Maybe he will change my opinion of him.  I definitely think that he has something to prove after his disastrous year in Washington, and I won’t be surprised if he rises to the challenge.

I am a fan of QB Christian Ponder.  There’s no doubt that I wanted the team to draft Jake Locker, but it was not meant to be so Ponder is certainly the next best thing.  Intellectually speaking, I think Ponder is at the head of the class and I look forward to seeing how he grasps the Vikings playbook.  But, there’s no way that I think he is ready to start this year, particularly with the lockout shortened off-season.  I think that Aaron Rodgers benefited greatly by sitting on the bench for those first few years, and the same holds true with Ponder.  McNabb gives the Vikings the flexibility to allow Ponder to grow into the position…unless McNabb shows that Washington wasn’t a fluke.  I am sure that we’ll see #7 line up behind center at some point in the regular season, but until then, I’ll be content with McNabb.  Well, until he proves otherwise…

There were two Vikings that I really hated to see leave as free agents.  WR Sidney Rice was one of my favorites, and he is now in Seattle with former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson.  I am not sure that Michael Jenkins or Bernard Berrian can be anything close to what Rice was, but I will say that WR Percy Harvin has been one of my favorite Vikings, if not the favorite.  Now that his migraines appear to be behind him, I am looking forward to seeing if he can take it to the next level.  The guy clearly has the talent and the heart to succeed.  The other loss was LB Ben Leber who signed with the St. Louis Rams.  But with Leber’s loss, it does create an opportunity for Erin Henderson to step into his shoes.  I really like what I’ve seen from Erin, and it is a great story if he starts next to his brother, middle linebacker E.J. Henderson.  But regardless of what the final roster looks like, I feel very confident in the decisions being made by head coach Leslie Frazier.  I don’t want to diss former head coach Brad Childress, but this is the most confident that I’ve felt about a Vikings head coach in a very long time.  I can never recall a time where I was content with the heads of both the Yankees and the Vikings but I am very comfortable with both Joe Girardi and Frazier.  Now, let’s see if it equates to a few championships…

–Scott

Let’s pass on reclamation projects…

 

Pitching, pitching, pitching… 

The Yankees were very fortunate in the first half to get the mileage they did out of Bartolo Colon (even with his stay on the DL) and Freddy Garcia.  But two games into the second half, their performances have been very dismal as the Yanks have been crushed by the Toronto Blue Jays on successive days.

 

Yankees' starter Bartolo Colon is pulled in the first inning of a 16-7 loss to the Blue Jays.

Frank Gunn/AP

I think that both Colon and Garcia are capable to having respectable finishes to the season but all things considered, I’d rather go in a different direction.  I am sure that there is a good reason for why 8-game winner Ivan Nova is pitching for Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  I’d never claim to the talent evaluator that Joe Girardi and Larry Rothschild are, but it would make more sense to me to let the younger pitcher grow and develop in the major league rotation.

Yankee scouts are out in full force scouring other major league ballparks.  I am sure that Brian Cashman has a short list of guys that he’d like to acquire even if he’d never publicly admit it.  I fully recognize that the trading deadline is not going to result in Felix Hernandez wearing pinstripes, but I am sure that there are a few arms out there capable of being major upgrades over Colon and Garcia.

The losses by Colon and Garcia aren’t just their faults.  This is a team game and the other guys simply did not pick up the veteran pitchers when they got hit hard. For whatever reason, the Blue Jays seem to have the Yankees number or at least they have for the last few years.  If the Yankees intend to win the division, they need to figure out how to beat Toronto and Boston since they haven’t really shown they are capable of beating either team.

 

The Villain…

I was surprised to see Derek Jeter crucified for not attending the All-Star Game in Phoenix.  While I think that he should have made an appearance at the game, I can understand and appreciate his reasons for not playing.  He had just finished a stint on the DL and he is vital to his team’s chances in the second half.  The ASG break was a good opportunity for DJ to ensure that he got good rest before resuming the rigors of every day play.  It’s not just Derek, I think any of the players who were voted as starters but withdrew for whatever reason should have made the trip to Phoenix to at least acknowledge the fans.

 

New York Yankees' Derek Jeter walks away after having words with home plate umpire Greg Gibson after striking out during the fifth inning of the Yankees' 7-1 loss in Toronto.

Frank Gunn/AP

Still, nobody received criticism for pulling out of the game like DJ did.  I know, that’s just life with the New York Yankees.

 

Give the young guy a shot…

I’d like to see the Yankees bring up Brandon Laird to give him a taste of third base at the major league level while Alex Rodriguez is on the DL.  It would be interesting to see what he could do in a platoon situation with Eduardo Nunez.  I would rather go that route than pursue an aging and high priced vet like Aramis Ramirez or someone like that.  Laird’s batting average leaves a little to be desired (.266) but he is driving in runs (47 RBI’s).

 

 

One if by land, two if by sea…

I was watching the Minnesota Twins play the Kansas City Royals on TV last night and I have to say that I am impressed with Minnesota’s Ben Revere.  The speedster lined a shot to right, and after he rounded second base, he started to fall and went into a somersault.  Yet, with his speed, he was still able to arrive at third ahead of the ball.  It was one of the most interesting triples that I’ve seen.

 

Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune

The night didn’t fare very well for the Twins as their closer, Matt Capps, gave up a two-run homer to Eric Hosmer in the top of the 9th in the 2-1 loss to the Royals.  Hosmer, by the way, is another young player that I am very impressed with.  As for Matt Capps, I wonder how much longer until Joe Nathan takes back his old job.  I know it all depends upon Nathan’s health, but Capps has been brutal.

 

Oh yeah, this is a pinstripe blog…

Back to the Yankees, they definitely need to find a way to salvage the series in Toronto today and tomorrow.  They have a tough four-game set against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg next week and they need to build some momentum going into the series.  There isn’t anyone better to have on the mound today than the great CC Sabathia.  Hopefully he’ll get his 14th win today…

Have a great weekend!

–Scott

 

‘Just Win, Baby!’…

 

So far, the Yankees have started like last season…winning their series as they’ve taken the first two from the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins.  As the saying goes, ‘Two outta three ain’t bad!’.  Keep it all season and it would equate to a divisional championship.

 

 

A.J. Burnett remains perfect in pinstripes in April with a six-inning, two-run outing against the Twins to close out the Yankees' season-opening home stand with a 4-3 win.

Simmons/NY Daily News

 

 

I was a bit surprised about Rafael Soriano‘s implosion that cost the Yankees the second game in the series with the Twins.  His career high three walks in an inning proved fatal as the Twins rallied in a game CC Sabathia should have won.  But the bigger problem was avoiding the media after the game.  Being in New York is about being a stand up guy through thick and thin.  Frustration is understandable, but unfortunately, there is more to baseball than just a game.  I think Soriano will learn from the situation and of course being around Mariano Rivera is sure to have its positive impact.  There’s not too many people that understand New York better than Mo and Derek Jeter.

 

I was really sorry to hear that Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka broke his leg on a hard slide at second base by Nick Swisher.  I thought it was very classy of Swisher to visit Niskioka after the game to express his apology.  Swish likes to have fun but he’s certainly not a dirty player and it would be unfair to pin that tag on him because of the incident.  I thought Nishioka has done an admirable job in his MLB debut season and wish him the very best for a full and speedy recovery.

 

For all the problems that A.J. Burnett has endured in New York, I am amazed about the stat that he is undefeated in April.  Of course, with today’s win, the streak continues.  I want to say that Burnett is pitching so much better than last year and I don’t have the fear I used to have when he took the mound.  But still, I guess I had better wait until May before forming any opinions.  Whatever it is, I hope that A.J. can keep it going. 

 

Who would have thought the biggest pitching concern in the rotation would be Phil Hughes?…

 

Freddy Garcia did miss out on his start because of a rain postponement when Joe Girardi skipped his turn in the rotation for the next game.  So the Yankees still don’t know what they have at the back end of the rotation.  If Hughes implodes again, I’ll definitely be concerned since it will put a fair amount of pressure on Ivan Nova. 

 

I am very surprised that both the Boston Red Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays are a combined 0-12.  Despite the slow start, I still recognize that the Boston Red Sox have a very powerful and formidable team.  With 156 games to go, I am sure the Red Sox will have a higher winning percentage than most teams over the same period of games and will be leading the way into October.  Actually, I am not too excited about the Yankees facing their most bitter rival at a time when they’ve been backed into a corner.  A win or two against the Yankees can definitely kick start the Red Sox Machine and give them the momentum to charge forward.   I don’t think the series will be a sweep in either direction but it is going be a hard-fought battle, and the winner will have their share of bumps and bruises.

 

 

Sox turn to Lester

AP 

 

 

Of course, with the Yankees playing the Red Sox, it is time for yet another wager with my good friend, Julia, of Julia’s Rants.  For the latest bet, the loser will write a critical analysis of what ails his/her team.  The loser will also have to write about why the other team is better.  Pride and ego will definitely have to be checked at the door for this one.  The opening game of the series on Friday pits two huge question marks against each other…Phil Hughes versus John Lackey.  The game will most likely set the tone for the rest of the series.  May the best team win…which, of course, are the Yankees!  ;)

 

It should be a great weekend for baseball!

 

–Scott

 

 

 

 

Nova builds upon great Spring…


It was a nice win by the “kid”
of the pitching staff.  With 24-year-old
Ivan Nova on the mound, the Yankees bolted to a 4-0 lead behind Alex Rodriguez
and Jorge Posada and then held off the Minnesota Twins for the 4-3
victory. 


Ivan Nova surrenders three runs in six innings Monday night and gets the win after the bullpen preserves a 4-3 lead built on two-run homers hit by Jorge Posada and A-Rod (below).

Antonelli/NY Daily News


I’ll admit that I had the
fears from last year when Nova had men on first and third and Jim Thome at the
plate after recording two outs with the bases empty.  Thome sliced a double to score two runs, and
I was worried the floodgates were about to open.  Fortunately, he escaped the inning without
further damage.  Despite giving up a run
the next inning, Nova went six innings before turning the game over to the
bullpen combo of Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera. 

Nova is definitely the wild
card of the pitching staff.  Stuff-wise,
I am not really expecting much from him. 
It’s not like he has the talent of a David Price or a Jeremy Hellickson,
but he does have a chance of being a solid contributor on an outstanding club.

Okay, I know that I am a
die-hard Yankees fan, but I have to admit that I was a bit embarrassed listening
to MLB Radio this morning when a guy claiming to be a Yankees fan was gloating
about the Red Sox Opening Series loss.  3
games out of 162 mean nothing.  The Red
Sox are a sleeping Giant and when they wake up, they are going to be very
powerful.  I know when the Yankees travel
to Boston, records won’t mean anything. 
The series will be the first intense test of the season and I’m sure
that we’ll see the real Red Sox in prime form. 
I am not disappointed to see the Red Sox lose (naturally), but there’s
no way I’d gloat about the situation. 
The Yankees will have their own bumps in the road along the way…

Like everyone else, I am
concerned about the drop in Phil Hughes‘ velocity, but we need a greater body of
work before deciding if this is a trend. 
I think he’ll be okay after a few more starts. 

I keep reading about how
Jorge Posada needs to fill the time between his at-bats as he adjusts to the DH
role, but with 3 home runs, he must be doing something right. 

So Andruw Jones hasn’t
appeared in a single game yet?  Geesh, I’d
like to collect his salary for doing nothing! 
;)

 

–Scott

Back to the ALCS…


Congratulations to the New York Yankees for their
ALDS series win over the Minnesota Twins!



GOOD THAMES: Marcus Thames -- and Twins catcher Joe Mauer and home-plate umpire Greg Gibson -- watch the flight of Thames' two-run homer in the fourth.

Neil Miller/New York Post



I don’t know why the Yankees have enjoyed success
against the Twins.  Perhaps it is why the
Toronto Blue Jays love playing the Yankees. 
Some teams have other teams number and the Yankees certainly hold a psychological
edge over the Twins. 



 


I’ve been reading many articles about which team
the Yankees would prefer facing in the American League Championship
Series.  While I am still not convinced
that the Yankees have “it” this year to see them through a World Series that
most likely will feature a frontline rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and
Cole Hamels, the two potential AL contenders (Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers)
certainly have their own issues.

 

As for a potential ALCS opponent, I’d have to say
that I’d prefer to see the Tampa Bay Rays. 
I don’t really want to see the Texas Rangers advance to the World Series
(not that I want to see the Rays go there either), but a series with the
Rangers would result in very bitter confrontations with Rangers ace Cliff
Lee.  Win or lose, it could potentially
impact Cliff’s decision this offseason regarding where to sign (or
re-sign).  CC Sabathia neutralizes the
advantage of David Price, and with the other starters rested, I like the team’s
chances against the other Rays starters. 



Oct. 6: Texas Rangers' Cliff Lee pitches during the second inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the American League Division baseball series in St. Petersburg, Fla.

AP

 

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for
their NLDS ouster of the Atlanta Braves and future Hall of Fame manager Bobby
Cox.  It was a tough fought series, and I
give the Giants credit for much heart in this series.  They thrived on stellar pitching and used
small ball to topple the Braves and send Cox away at the end of the long and
successful managerial career.  It was odd
seeing the final out recorded by former Yankee Melky Cabrera, who had seemed to
thrive in walk-off situations in 2009. 
With the tying and winning runs on base, Melky hit a grounder to third
to end the game.  With the series win in
Game 4, the Giants saved scheduled Game 5 starter Tim Lincecum for a first
round NLCS match-up against Roy Halladay and the Philadelphia Phillies.  It should be a terrific pitchers’ duel…



Giants finish off Braves

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

 


Well, with just one division series left to go, I
guess I’ll end with saying, ‘Go Rays!’…  





–Scott



From Minneapolis to New York, with Love…


I am pleasantly surprised at the Yankees’ success,
so far, against the Minnesota Twins…



 


I had been so disappointed with the team’s pathetic
September performance that saw them lose any chance of winning the AL
East.  Within a matter of days or even
hours, they went from the possibility of the AL East Championship with home
field advantage to a road-traveling Wild Card team.  It was hard to be excited about the start of
the play-offs with the team playing so poorly. 
For the first two games of the ALDS series against the Twins, the
Yankees have risen to the challenge. 
Granted, the Yankees have a history of success against the Twins, but I’d
be the first to say that past domination does not guarantee future domination.  2004 wasn’t that many years ago…



Vincent Laforet/The New York Times

 

While the Yankees have the series advantage and are
now headed for the Bronx to resume the series on Saturday night, the Twins are
far from out of it.  If they can get
solid pitching and timely hitting in New York, they have a chance to take the
series back to Minnesota for the deciding Game 5.  Outside of perhaps CC Sabathia, the Yankees simply
do not have a pitcher that is capable of putting up a Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee
type of performance.  Even CC has his bad
days.  But going into the play-offs, I
knew that the lesser guys would need to stand up and so far, Lance Berkman and
Curtis Granderson certainly have. 



... scores Curtis Granderson to knot the score.

Sipken/NY Daily News

 

I am very surprised to see the AL East Champion
Tampa Bay Rays trailing their ALDS series to the Texas Rangers (down two games
to none).  I realize that the Rays
struggled in September like the Yankees but I felt they were probably the best
team in the American League based primarily on their pitching staff.  Like the Twins, the Rays can still get back
in the series but the Rangers have to like their chances.



Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee flips a ball during a practice for their American League Division Series baseball games against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla. Lee is scheduled to pitch game one.

AP



There have been great pitching performances in the
National League with the no-hitter thrown by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy
Halladay and last night’s 14-strikeout, complete game shut-out thrown by San
Francisco’s Tim Lincecum in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over the Atlanta
Braves. 



Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle

 

Regardless of what happens, the League Championship
Series in both leagues should be very exciting this year.  I still think the Phillies will win it all,
but the Yankees certainly have as much talent as anyone to get on a roll. 



 


Going off-topic but staying with the ‘Minnesota to New York’ theme, I was very pleasantly surprised to
see the return of Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.  The Vikings play the Jets in the Meadowlands on Monday night.  I have retained my purple #84 jersey all
these years but never thought that I’d get a chance to wear it again.  I knew that Randy had become quite vocal in
recent weeks about the lack of a contract extension and of course there was
last weekend’s blow-up with a coordinator. 
Still, I did not expect the New England Patriots to trade Moss.  The Vikings have clearly been missing Sidney
Rice who will be out until at least mid-season due to hip surgery.  It will be interesting to see if chemistry
develops between Moss and QB Brett Favre. 
It is going to be weird watching Moss catching passes from Favre after
all those years of playing against each other in the Packers-Vikings series. 



Randy Moss

 


At 1-2, the Vikings face a very challenging
October.  After the game against the Jets, they will face the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and
New England Patriots to close out the month. 
The team should definitely know where they stand by Halloween.


–Scott

  

A September To Forget…


The going gets tough, the Yankees decide to bail…



 


The Yankees should be able to clinch the Wild Card
slot at some point, but I’ve given up hope of taking the AL East unless things
change very quickly.  The Tampa Bay Rays
have great momentum right now, and the Yankees don’t.  So far this month (going into Saturday’s
game), the Yankees are 10-12.  When you’re
racing for the pennant, that kind of record is not going to get it done
(obviously).  The Yankees’ magic number
remains at 3.  With a single win against
the Red Sox, they could reduce the number to 1 but at this point, the Red Sox
are playing like the superior team and they certainly have not given up
hope.  After the end of the home stand
against Boston, the Yankees take to the road to play the Blue Jays and the Red
Sox (both challenging places to play). 



 


This month, the Philadelphia Phillies have definitely
shown they are ‘in it to win it’.  They’ve
clearly distanced themselves from the Atlanta Braves and they’ll head into the
play-offs as the hottest team in the National League.  It’s been a great season for the Cincinnati
Reds, but I think the Phillies, even with their injuries, are the better
team.  The trading deadline pick-up of
Roy Oswalt was huge and it gave the Phillies pitching superiority (even against
the likes of the San Francisco Giants who boast a very strong rotation).  Speaking of the Giants, they’ve also been
playing good baseball and currently lead the NL West by a slim margin.  I like the Giants as an underdog if they can
stay on top against the San Diego Padres, but I don’t think anyone is going to
beat the Phillies and they’ll head to the World Series for the third straight
year.



Shane Victorino is congratulated by Placido Polanco after giving the Phillies an early lead with a leadoff home run. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

Michael Bryant, Philly.com, Staff Photographer

 


Back to the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays and
the Minnesota Twins are playing the best baseball.  As much as I would like to say “Rays suck!”
or “Twins suck!” or “Yankees are going to win it again!”, the truth is that the
AL Championship Series will most likely feature the Rays and the Twins.  The Rangers are fading and of course so are
the Yankees.  If the Yankees’ freefall
results in a miraculous achievement of the play-offs by the Boston Red Sox, it
will definitely rank as one of the greatest September flops in recent
memory. 



RETURN FRIGHT: Javier Vazquez (above) was battered around in his return to the Yankees, allowing eight runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 9-3 loss last night at Tropicana Field. Reuters

Reuters

 


In the NL, the Atlanta Braves and the Colorado
Rockies are fading, and the Padres aren’t far behind.  For a time this season, I thought the Padres
were the team to beat, but now they’re fighting to make the play-offs. 



Miguel Tejada and first base coach Rick Renteria after Tejada's 2-rbi single in the 7th.

John R. McCutchen/San Diego Union-Tribune

 


At this point, it is hard to visualize the 2010
World Series involving any teams other than the Tampa Bay Rays and the
Philadelphia Phillies (a repeat of the Phillies’ championship year in
2008).  More than likely, the outcome
will be the same.



 


Congratulations to my friend, Julia (of Julia’s
Rants
), for winning the latest wager between she and I.  With today’s 7-2 victory, the Boston Red Sox
have ensured that they will take at least two of the three games in the Bronx
and they’ll go for a sweep on Sunday.  I
guess the Yanks could have used those 6 home runs today instead of yesterday.  The Yankees, now 10-13 for September,
continue to give the Red Sox hope that they can reach high enough to eclipse
the Yanks for the Wild Card slot.  The
Sox are now just 5 ½ games behind the Yankees. 
I guess there’s a Red Sox cap on its way to my home in CA… 
L



0925berkman.JPG

Noah K. Murray/The Star-Ledger 



Maybe I think a motivational pep talk by Tony
Dungy.  Then again, it didn’t seem to
help the Yankees.  Let’s hope that next
weekend is more exciting than this weekend is turning out to be…





–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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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