To borrow the words of Johnny Cash, the Man Comes Around…
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The other Cash arrived in Atlanta, and made his presence known.
GM Brian Cashman, who apparently was supposed to watch AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre play, opted to travel to Atlanta for the Yankees game against the Braves. He did not go with axe in hand, but he met with manager Joe Girardi and the players. Clearly, he, like the rest of the fans and organization, is frustrated with the Yankees recent offensive slump and knows that the team is better than this.
Cash insists that the team does not need to make any player acquisitions to improve. As I said yesterday, the team has the talent and ability to succeed so the answer lies within. I still think the bench could use some upgrade, along with the pen. But from the top to the bottom of the order, the team is fine so long as they can snap out of the recent slide that has left them tied with the Toronto Blue Jays, 5 games behind the Boston Red Sox.
Xavier Nady should be back soon, and that will certainly help. But after watching the continued play of catcher Francisco Cervelli, I have to admit that I really do not want to see Jose Molina come back. I liked Cervelli’s throws to first, his intensity, the way he was openly communicating with pitcher Joba Chamberlain in the dugout between innings, his energy, his excitement…and of course, his first home run! So perhaps the Yanks should look to move Molina upon his return from the DL. As for Damaso Marte, I am hopeful that we’ll see the reliever who was among baseball’s best when he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates upon his return. There is no reason that he can’t be that player again. Cash might be right that the answer lies within. If the team’s response to Cash’s visit, an 8-4 win over the Braves, can be sustained in the coming weeks and months, I like the Yankees’ chances come October.
As for the game, I do want to send Braves pitcher Kenshin Kawakami best wishes for a speedy recovery. I am thankful he was not more seriously hurt when he was struck at the base of the neck by a ball hit by Joba Chamberlain. At the time, Kawakami had pitched three perfect innings and it looked like he was in the midst of a great game. He has a contusion, but it sounds like the ball didn’t hit a bone. Kawakami will be re-evaluated in a couple of days to determine if he’ll be able to make his next start. Hopefully, he is back in full action shortly.
The Braves scored first on a 5th inning home run by Jeff Francoeur. Considering that Francoeur hasn’t really hit anybody this year, it was disappointing to see him get untracked against the Yankees. Nevertheless, the Yankees came back at the top of the next inning. Brett Gardner walked to start the inning, becoming the Yankees first base runner. After a few pick-off throws, the Braves got lucky when Gardner was called out even though his hand had clearly reached first base before he was tagged out. The play brought manager Joe Girardi out of the dugout and although his tirade got him tossed, it served as the catalyst the Yankees needed to snap out of their offensive doldrums. Cervelli followed with his first career home run, and a few batters later, Alex Rodriguez, who had entered the game with a .207 BA, drilled a two-run single.
Although the Braves kept fighting back, the Yankees never relinquished the lead. In the 8th inning, with Brian Bruney struggling (two walks, a single and a run scored), Girardi brought Mariano Rivera into the game with two outs. Rivera struck out Kelly Johnson to end the inning. Rivera, who hadn’t pitched since June 16th, showed no signs of rust. The Yankees scored a couple more runs at the top of the 9th to pad their lead, but they were unnecessary runs as Rivera struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to end the game. Vintage Mo, and it was sweet!
The Red Sox, Blue Jays and Rays all won, so there were no changes in the standings. But the victory was definitely something for the team to build upon. One game at a time. The path to the Red Sox is not that far away…
Jim Davis/Boston Globe staff
As expected, the Yankees designated Angel Berroa for assignment prior to the game to make room for infielder Cody Ransom. I was surprised to see that the Yankees were actually able to get cash for reliever Jose Veras (from the Cleveland Indians). I thought the Yankees would have to pay to get someone to take him. Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees Blog had the best line when he said that the cash involved was “at least three figures”. Good luck in Cleveland, Jose…you won’t be missed. Of course, now that you are in Cleveland, you’ll probably start pitching lights out…
Denny Medley/US Presswire