Milestone achieved at Yankee Stadium but not that one…
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On a night when everyone was watching and hoping for the 600th home run by Alex Rodriguez (which he failed to do), Jorge Posada delivered his 1000th RBI of his career. He hit a RBI double in the first inning off Kansas City Royals starter Brian Bannister.
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A.J. Burnett looked much better in the 7-1 win over the Royals. His performance was shortened by a rain delay which limited him to 5 innings, but he only gave up 4 hits and no runs. He also walked a batter, and struck out 3. It was enough for A.J. to even his mark at 8-8, as relievers Chad Gaudin and Jonathan Albaladejo secured the victory for him. Albaladejo’s stay with the Yankees was brief as he was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for today’s starter, Sergio Mitre (who was activated off the DL).
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A-Rod went 2-for4 but no home runs in his quest for 600. In today’s game, he will face the pitcher who gave up his 500th career home run (Kyle Davies). Hopefully, Alex will get the home run sooner rather than later so that he can move on. I remember watching when Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run, and how magical the night was. I realize it won’t be like that for Alex, given his steroids admission, but it is still a monumental feat. Hitting home runs takes great hand/eye coordination and Alex, regardless of his past admissions, is still one of the better players of his era.
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Nick Swisher missed the game when he woke up with soreness in his Achilles heel. He had been penciled in to start in right. Colin Curtis, who has really proven that he is a good hitter, took his place. Curtis will get another start today in place of Brett Gardner in left. Gardner is dealing with an acid reflux problem that apparently dates back to his childhood. Swisher is still out so Marcus Thames will start in right.
There have been rumors that the Yankees are talking with the Arizona Diamondbacks about starting pitcher Dan Haren, but all reports this morning are that the teams are far apart and nothing is imminent. I know that I voiced frustration with Joba Chamberlain in my last post, but I would hate to see him go to Arizona for Haren. I keep hearing that the D-Backs want a major league ready pitcher in addition to prospects, so it is very unlikely the Yankees could get Haren for, say, Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister. It just seems that the price tag would be too high, not to mention Haren’s high salary. He is certainly no Cliff Lee, so it would be very hard for me to justify paying a King’s ransom for him. I know that I want another option in the starting rotation than Mitre, but I suspect the Yankees will wait until closer to the deadline when there is a greater sense of urgency for teams to move certain guys. Perhaps the Yankees make no moves, but if there is none out there that make sense, then they should pass. Hopefully, guys like Curtis and Albaladejo can step up to fill crucial needs.
I’ll take a split…
Fortunately for the Yankees, they emerged victorious today against the Los Angeles Angels to split the two game series. The mediocre pitching line continued, albeit with no injuries, but the Yankee bats were active enough to ensure sufficient runs by the time the Angels recorded their last out in the top of the 9th inning.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Javier Vazquez gave up 9 hits and 5 runs in 5 innings, but it was enough to earn his 8th victory (against 7 losses). The key hit was a pinch hit three-run homer in the 7th by Colin Curtis. Robinson Cano and Juan Miranda also homered in the game, but Alex Rodriguez did not so he remains at 598 home runs. Curtis was an interesting story as he entered the game after Brett Gardner was thrown out of the game while batting. So, the strike count stood at two before Curtis even got warmed up.
Vazquez, with the victory, has defeated all 30 major league teams.
Playing against the Yankees definitely helped Hideki Matsui break out of his slump. He had only hit only one home run since June 7th before playing the Yankees. In the two game series, he homered in each game. I am okay with Godzilla getting his hits so long as they aren’t the game winners. Fortunately, they weren’t either day.
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The Yankees split the season series with the Angels, 4-4, and won’t see them again unless they meet in the play-offs. The Yankees now await the arrival of the Kansas City Royals.
Happy Birthday to CC Sabathia, who celebrated his 30th birthday today!
Joel Sherman ran a piece in his New York Post column this morning where he speculated that Yankees manager Joe Girardi could be a potential target for managerial vacancy created with the Chicago Cubs when Lou Piniella announced that he would be retiring at the end of the season. I completely agree with his analysis. I’ve always considered Girardi to be a “Chicago” guy. He was born and raised in the area, as was his wife, and he started professional baseball with the Cubs and played there again after he left the Yankees.
It started me to think who the Yankees would turn to if the worst case scenario played out (Girardi leaving at the end of the season, which is, by the way, the expiration of his current contract). The first guy I thought about for the position was Don Mattingly. Mattingly is the assumed replacement for current Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre. However, Torre still hasn’t decided if he’ll manage next year, and of course, the whole situation with the Dodgers ownership (the McCourt divorce situation) could create the right circumstances to woo Mattingly back to New York.
But when I turned on ESPN this morning, they were showing the highlights of last night’s Dodgers-Giants game where Mattingly had assumed management of the team after both Joe Torre and bench coach Bob Schaefer had been ejected. In the 9th inning, with closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound, Mattingly went out to pay a visit. As he started to walk away, he decided that he wanted to say something else to Broxton and turned back around. He realized that he had made a mistake when the umpires were saying “no” but by then, it was too late. When he made the about face, it counted as a second trip to the mound so he had no choice but to pull Broxton. George Sherrill was brought in and the Dodgers let a 5-4 lead slip away as they ultimately lost the game 7-5. Now, I agree, the faux paux would not be reason to avoid hiring Mattingly but the timing couldn’t have been worse (at least for me).
It’s tough. As much as I like Mattingly, I am not sure that I am a proponent for a rookie manager. I think the year in Florida as the Marlins manager was invaluable for Joe Girardi. He is a better manager today for the experience. Same with Terry Francona in Boston. He is one of the best managers in baseball, and I think it can be directly attributed to his learning opportunity with the Phillies. For the Cubs, I still think Ryne Sandberg is the best fit for the organization. But if you were the owner of the Cubs, would you want a Triple A manager who has never managed in the bigs or a highly prepared and accomplished major league manager with a World Series resume? There are just not that many attractive managerial candidates in my opinion. I am sure that Bobby Valentine will re-surface at some point, as well Buck Showalter, but neither of those guys excite me. If the Steinbrenner Family is smart, they’ll take care of Girardi and never let him have the chance to consider the Cubs.
The deaths in the Yankees family have, unfortunately, continued into this week. The latest is the Yankees manager from the great 1961 season of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris (the year that Roger hit 61 home runs and the Yankees won the World Series), Ralph Houk. His World Series championships (he also won in 1962) were the last before the demise of the team under the ownership of CBS and before George Steinbrenner purchased the team. He had taken over as the Yankees manager replacing Casey Stengel in 1960 after the Yankees had lost the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Houk would manage until 1963, when he stepped into the front office. He returned to managing the Yankees in 1966 and stayed through 1973, Steinbrenner’s first year. I primarily remember Houk as the manager for the Detroit Tigers, although he did manage the Boston Red Sox at the end of his managerial career. Houk apparently died today at his home in Winter Haven, FL of natural causes. He was 90.