It’s a different team now…
Mark J. Terrill/AP
So says Derek Jeter when asked to compare the 2009 Yankees to the 2004 team that lost the ALCS to the Boston Red Sox. Yankee confidence seems to be very high based on the comments that I’ve read by a number of players. Of course, the confidence on the other side is equally high despite the 3-2 series advantage for the Yanks. Torii Hunter, in particular, intends to “shock the world”. Nevertheless, tonight’s game should be a classic regardless of the outcome.
I have felt all along that this series would go the full seven games. There is a reason that the Angels are one of the best teams in the American League and they certainly showed it in their elimination of the Boston Red Sox in quick order. Hi Julia, how are you doing? 😉
There seems to be significant criticism of manager Joe Girardi and his pitching decisions late in games. Some have even called for his head if the Yankees lose the ALCS. While I do not agree with the decision to use the ineffective Damaso Marte to relieve A.J. Burnett in Game 5 or some of the other moves involving Alfredo Aceves or even why Burnett was even brought back into the game after the Yankees dropped 6 runs on the Angels the other night, I am not ready to say that he should lose his job if he doesn’t advance to or win the World Series.
I still remember 1980 when the Yankees fired the late Dick Howser after he had won 103 games in the regular season but lost the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals. That was one of the worst decisions of the George Steinbrenner era, and Howser went on to enjoy a highly successful managerial career with the Royals before his untimely demise. I do not expect Hal Steinbrenner to follow his father’s decision-making pattern, and I am convinced that Joe will be the manager of the 2010 Yankees.
I think the decision to leave Eric Hinske off the ALCS roster was a mistake. The team opted for the speed of Freddy Guzman, but I think a pinch hit appearance by Hinske in the 9th inning of Game 5 with the bases loaded could have yielded a different outcome than allowing the ice cold Nick Swisher to hit (or lack thereof!).
If the team is able to advance to the World Series, I am hopeful that they’ll add Hinske for some pop off the bench.
It’s crazy to think that Pedro Martinez will be a potential Game 3 starter in the World Series for the defending champion Phillies. Of course, the staff is led by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and includes the impressive young J.A. Happ. But Martinez has revitalized his career and is now in position to significantly contribute for another championship.
I was surprised it took so long for anyone to sign Martinez this year, but the Phillies did a great job in solidifying both the front and back ends of the rotation with the acquisitions of Martinez and ace Cliff Lee. At the time, I thought that Martinez would have made a great #5 starter for the Yanks but they were never players for his services.
So, should the Yankees advance, they’ll be facing a former foe who was one of those players responsible for the end of the Curse in Boston. If the Angels advance to the Series, I’ll root for Martinez…despite the past history…and the Phillies.
Harry How/Getty Images
The Yankees should have ended the ALCS in Anaheim, but of course, the celebration would have been muted. So, maybe it was meant to be for the series to return to the Bronx. We’re home…we’re ready…and it’s time to succeed! Let’s Go Yankees!
Richard Perry/NY Times
The Yankees continued their winning ways on Tuesday night despite Brian Bruney…
Sipkin/NY Daily News
After Alex Rodriguez had hit a two-run homer in the 7th inning to break a 3-3 tie with the Seattle Mariners, Bruney came on in the 8th inning and promptly surrendered the lead. There was much controversy over whether Joe Girardi should have left Phil Hughes in the game. Hughes had pitched a perfect 7th inning and given his current effectiveness, it would seem that he is ideally suited for setup work. Nevertheless, the bullpen is stronger if Bruney is pitching right and the last thing that Girardi needs is more 8th inning controversy. So, it was probably the right decision to go with Bruney despite the result. Hughes is pitching great right now, as is Phil Coke, but there is no guarantee that will continue.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Bruney, of course, set himself up to get the victory, thanks to the Yankees’ late inning heroics. Hideki Matsui led off the bottom of the 8th with a double. Brett Gardner entered the game as a pinch runner for Matsui and advanced to third on a bunt single by Nick Swisher. Melky Cabrera followed with a double to score Gardner. Derek Jeter then singled to bring home both Swisher and Cabrera, giving the Yankees the final margin of victory, 8-5.
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
From there, it was up to the great Mariano Rivera who quietly eliminated the Mariners in the top of the 9th and earned his 501st career save.
Mo had also thrown out the first pitch so he opened and closed the game. Very appropriate…
Joba Chamberlain continued to take heat for another underwhelming performance. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up 9 hits and 3 runs. He also walked 3 batters and struck out 4. He allowed a home run to the light-hitting Ronny Cedeno in the 3rd. It’s tough to criticize. On one hand, I recognize that he is not pitching as well as he could or should, but conversely, he is keeping his team in games (the Yankees are 10-5 in games started by Chamberlain).
Noah K. Murray/The Star Ledger
After the game, Joe Girardi offered this assessment of Chamberlain: “He had too many long counts tonight. It seems like when he gets in the long counts, he slows down a little bit. And it seems to work against him … Joba is not what you would call an experienced big league starter. There’s some growing pains that you go through in learning how to pitch at this level.”
Sipkin/NY Daily News
Eric Hinske arrived in the Bronx today following the trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. His flight to New York last night was cancelled because of weather conditions, so he had to catch a flight to New York today. Ramiro Pena was sent down to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for Hinske. He seems to be saying the right things: “It’s awesome to get on a team like the Yankees.” Hopefully, he fills the void that the Yankees need from the bench with corner infield and outfield support.
It was nice to see the Boston Red Sox blow a 10-1 lead and lose to the Baltimore Orioles, 11-10, on Tuesday night. The loss allowed the Yankees to close the gap to 2 ½ games. But earlier today, the tables were turned as the Red Sox overcame a 5-1 deficit to win 6-5 in extra innings. So, Boston’s lead has been increased to 3 games pending tonight’s outcome. Julia‘s favorite player, Julio Lugo, delivered the winning hit in the 11th inning. Jonathan Papelbon became Boston’s all-time career saves leader with 133, breaking a tie with Bob Stanley. It was his 20th save of the season. Personally, I would have preferred another Orioles victory…
Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun
Oh well, let’s just focus on closing the gap back to 2 ½ games…
Ugh, not another Red Sox player!
Don’t we already have one of those? I think one is more than enough…
Unless your name is Jason Bay or Jon Lester, I am not interested in seeing you wear pinstripes. It was no fun watching David Wells and David Cone in Boston; conversely I do not need any repeat appearances of Mark Bellhorn or Mike Myers in New York.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Much to my chagrin, the Yankees acquired third baseman Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hinske was batting .255 in 106 at-bats and had 1 HR and 11 RBI’s (hardly earth-shattering numbers). To Hinske’s defense, he did hit 20 home runs (with 60 RBI’s) for the 2008 American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays but he isn’t exactly the “supersub” I was hoping for. He was also a member of the 2007 World Champion Boston Red Sox.
Well, I guess sometimes having an ex-Red Sox player is not so bad…
Hinske can play both corner spots, providing relief for both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. I recognize the need for backup support at first since Nick Swisher is locked in at right field now that Xavier Nady is out for the season. Hinske can also play right and left field. The Yankees do not have the roster space to call up Shelley Duncan, who would have been limited to 1B/DH duty. With Hinske on board, the Yanks should be able to rest A-Rod more often.
To acquire Hinske, the Yankees gave up two minor leaguers, right-hander Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer. They had acquired Fryer in last year’s trade of pitcher Chase Wright to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Due to a flight delay from Pittsburgh, a roster decision might not be made until Wednesday, but Ramiro Pena will be optioned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre to make room for Hinske. At this point, the move makes sense. Pena needs more playing time, and the Yankees needed some pop off the bench with the loss of Nady.
Hinske must be on one of those AL East circuits like Kevin Millar…don’t stop until you’ve played with every team in the division. He only needs to play for Baltimore to complete the circuit, whereas Millar just has to spend some time in pinstripes. Egads! Please, Brian Cashman, do not let that happen! We do not need any ‘Cowboy Up’ in the Bronx!
Somewhere in Boston, Julia is probably in hysterics. We acquire a Red Sox “has been” and Boston will most likely pursue a former beloved Yankee like Nick Johnson. It’s not fair. One of the days, the tide has to turn. The season has been way too easy on the illustrious Ranter from Boston…
In a move that should signal the Yanks to be cautious with Alex Rodriguez, the Red Sox placed third baseman Mike Lowell on the Disabled List. Lowell had fluid drained from his right hip on Monday, and had received an injection designed to relieve inflammation in the area previously operated on. The Red Sox decided not to take any chances and to give Lowell some added rest so that he’ll be ready for the second half of the season. Perhaps Lowell’s struggles are another reason that led to Hinske’s acquisition. I do wish Mike the best, and hope to see him back in the field shortly after the All-Star Break.
The Yankees also signed another third baseman from the independent leagues. Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks 3B Yurendell DeCaster’s contract was purchased by the Yankees, and he was assigned to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes Barre. DeCaster is 29 and was leading the Northern League with 13 HR’s and 43 RBI’s, while batting .344. Sounds like Cash is still looking to catch lightening in a bottle…
Is there anything more temporary than being a good outfielder in Pittsburgh? The Pirates traded yet another quality outfielder in Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals for OF Lastings Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan. The Nats also picked up left hander Sean Burnett. Will Milledge finally realize his potential in Pittsburgh? If so, how long before he is traded? At this rate, he is a future Yankee…