I knew it was going to be a bad weekend, and it was…
I didn’t feel right about the Yankees’ series against the Angels. I was excited about the Yankees reaching a first place tie with the Boston Red Sox following their sweep of the Minnesota Twins last week, but I had suspected that they’d lose some ground over the weekend. I just didn’t expect that it would be a three game fall.
Of course, it didn’t help that the Red Sox were playing the Kansas City Royals. Why couldn’t the schedule gods have pitted a more difficult opponent for Boston as their first half ending opponent? There is no doubt that Julia is proclaiming 3 as her new favorite number…
My concerns heading into the second half include:
The only reliable spot, as of late, has been A.J. Burnett.
CC Sabathia has been a disappointment in terms of expectations in light of the monster off-season contract. For the amount he’s paid, you’d expect his performance to more close resemble the performances of Roy Halladay and Josh Beckett.
Joba Chamberlain has been an enigma. You keep hearing comments that he is still learning the ropes, but how long is that going to continue?
Andy Pettitte probably should have retired last fall.
Chien-Ming Wang is on the DL, and has clearly been a major disappointment. It is very likely that the Yankees rotation will include Sergio Mitre.
As much as I’d like Roy Halladay in the rotation, I do not feel that the Yankees should give up the young talent it would take to pull off a deal. Almost any trade would certainly include Phil Hughes, and other blue chip prospects. That’s just not worth it for a 32-year-old pitcher. Of the other possibilities, there really isn’t much to get excited about (Jarrod Washburn?), so it appears that the Yankees will have to find the answers to the starting rotation from within.
Phil Hughes has proven that he is the answer for the bridge between Mariano Rivera and the rest of the guys. He has been very effective as a set up guy, but of course, the question is whether he’ll continue his progress in the second half.
Paul J. Berewill/Newsday
Phil Coke and Alfredo Aceves have been effective, but I am concerned about Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte. I still believe that Marte can return to his previous status as a premier left handed reliever, so hopefully, he’ll be much improved upon his return from the DL.
I would like to see the team find an upgrade for Brett Tomko.
I am supportive of David Robertson and Mark Melancon and would like to see them contribute in the second half.
And then there’s Mo…life is good…
Health is the key for Jorge Posada. He has performed very well, considering his age and despite the time on the DL.
The Yankees learned they may have something with young catcher Francisco Cervelli, who provided much energy and excitement during Jose Molina’s stint on the DL. Plus, further help is on the way with Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. So, while there are short-term concerns about the catching position, the long-term prognosis is very bright.
I think Posada will enjoy a productive and injury-free second half.
Defensively-speaking, Mark Teixeira has provided the best performance the position has seen since the days of Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez. The bat has been very hot and cold. The month of April was very chilly, but Teixera’s bat heated up once A-Rod returned in early May. Mark cooled off in late June and early July, and must have missed the flight from Minneapolis to Los Angeles because he was a no-show during the Angel series. Not really, but that’s what it felt like. So, my wish for the second half is more consistency…
The curious case of the missing bat. Robinson Cano is another player who ran ice cold at times. I know that players go through streaks, but again, consistency is the key. I’d rather see someone who is consistently productive than someone who had have a monster three weeks, followed by six weeks of swinging for air.
Derek Jeter is playing better than I had expected him to. He is definitely outperforming his 2008 version, and hasn’t shown any signs of decline. He still makes the occasional error at the most inopportune time, but he’s been very solid so far this year. More of the same in the second half will be much appreciated.
Considering that he had hip surgery in March and didn’t resume playing until May, I thought A-Rod had a very productive first half. Watching Mike Lowell struggle with hip issues shows how difficult it is to come back from hip surgery, so I have to give A-Rod much credit. There have been times that I’ve been frustrated by his bat, but c’mon, if I had hip surgery in March, I’d probably still be in the hospital in critical condition. LOL! Seriously, my primary hope for the second half is continued good health with sufficient rest and full protection for Mark Teixeira in the lineup.
Health is the key for veterans Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Ideally, the second half will see Matsui being able to play some outfield to free up the DH slot for Jorge Posada or Alex Rodriguez.
Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera have both shined at various point of the first half, so continued progress for both would be key for the stretch drive.
George McNish/The Star Ledger
Nick Swisher has performed capably, but of course, he is still a downgrade from last year’s starter, Bobby Abreu, and he isn’t that player that Xavier Nady is/was. Perhaps Eric Hinske will see more time in the outfield.
While I’d like to see an upgrade for the outfield, I really do not see a major trade bringing someone like Matt Holliday to New York.
In years past, when the Yankees have said that they’d be quiet at the trading deadline, I have taken it as “trade posturing”. This year, I do believe that the Yanks are attempting to operate within a budget (imagine that!) and no major moves are likely. The team will go as far as the current roster takes them. Perhaps a few second half surprises will come from the resources at Scranton/Wilkes Barre or Trenton. But this team is going to win or lose with Joe Girardi at the helm. I do see greater consistency from the big guys like CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, but it probably won’t be enough to overtake Boston.
Nevertheless, the Yankees are in control of the AL Wild Card (they lead by 2 ½ games over the Texas Rangers). They have a 51-37 record. Despite the weekend disaster, they are still only 3 games behind Boston. They clearly have the talent to remain in the mix until the end. Is it enough to beat the Red Sox or Angels? At this point, probably not, but there are still three months left in the season. Much can happen, and the Yankees have plenty of time to overcome their “demons”, i.e., Angels and Red Sox. No worries, well, unless you are Joe Girardi…
Best wishes for a highly successful second half to the New York Yankees! May they be four games better than the Boston Red Sox come October! J
After all, it’s a Yankees Universe!
It wasn’t a perfect, but all things considered, it could have been worse…
The Yankees beat the Texas Rangers, 8-6, while the Boston Red Sox won in Detroit against the Tigers, 6-3. So, the two teams remain deadlocked atop the AL East Standings.
The Yankees survived a less than stellar return to the starting rotation by Chien-Ming Wang.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a Johnny Damon home run to right.
Wang looked good for the first couple of innings, but the trouble began in the 3rd. Chris Davis started the inning with a ground rule double. He advanced to third on a sacrifice by Taylor Teagarden. After an by Elvis Andrus, Davis scored on a wild pitch when Wang slipped. The next batters, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young, reached base on a walk and an infield single, respectively. That brought Hank Blalock to the plate who hit a single to left, scoring Kinsler and Young. Nelson Cruz struck out to end the inning, but the Rangers resumed their offensive strike in the 4th.
David Murphy singled, and was followed by Marlon Byrd who doubled, advancing Murphy to third. Chris Davis doubled to right to score the two runners ahead of him. Wang was then able to retire the next three batters to end the inning, but the Rangers had increased their lead to 4-1.
Simmons/NY Daily News
In the 5th, Wang was able to induce the first two batters to hit into ground outs, but the third batter, Nelson Cruz, unloaded a homer to center and Wang’s day was done. He was relieved by Alfredo Aceves, He walked two batters, and an error allowed the lead runner to third. But Chris Davis popped out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the 5th, the Yankee bats came alive against Rangers pitcher Brandon McCarthy. Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena both singled, and Johnny Damon walked to load the bases. Nick Swisher walked, which scored Cervelli. Mark Teixeira, continuing his offensive surge which began in May, doubled to left with a shot near line past charging third baseman Michael Young, scoring all three base runners to tie the score at 5. Alex Rodriguez singled, scoring Teixeira, and the Yankees had re-captured the lead.
The next inning, Aceves was able to retire the first two batters without much difficulty, but then allowed a home run to left by Ian Kinsler. Once again, the game was tied. It stayed that way until the bottom of the 8th. With C.J. Wilson on the mound for the Rangers, the first batter, Robinson Cano walked. Hideki Matsui flied out, which brought Melky Cabrera to the plate. Granted, it was a bit early for the “Walk Off” king, but Cabrera ignored that it wasn’t the 9th inning and launched a Wilson offering to left, giving the Yankees an 8-6 lead.
Noah K. Murray/The Star-Ledger
“What can you say? He’s always coming through for us,” Mark Teixeira said after the game about Cabrera.
Mariano Rivera came on in the 9th to close out the game. He made it interesting with two hits, and had runners at second and third when he induced David Murphy to pop out to end the game. Bent, but not broken and the Yankees had the win and Rivera had earned his 12th save. David Robertson, 1-0, was the winner after throwing just one pitch (a fly out to retire the Rangers in the 8th). For a change, the Yankee bullpen was able to rescue the starting pitcher, and the Yankees were able to win the series against the Rangers, two games to one. It was disappointing to see the underwhelming performance by Wang, but all things considered, I’ll take the victory.
I was disappointed to hear that Wang’s next start will be against the Boston Red Sox. I am sure that their hitters started salivating when they heard the news. The bad news was further compounded by the fact that A.J. Burnett was suspended for six games for his retaliatory pitch thrown near the head of Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz in the game where Vicente Padilla plunked Mark Teixeira twice. I was surprised that Vicente Padilla was only fined for his actions. Burnett has appealed the suspension.
I wonder if Julia would give me a three run handicap for our wager on the Yankees-Red Sox series next week? Probably not. She’s definitely living the good life, but hopefully there will be a few storm clouds on her Red Sox horizon…
Randy Johnson of my favorite National League team, the San Francisco Giants. He because the sixth left hander and 24th major league player to win 300 games. Johnson, 300-164, won on his first attempt at the milestone, and saved us the agony of watching the media follow him from city to city in his quest for 300 wins. It was a good win for the Giants and a great performance by the Big Unit.
The Los Angeles Lakers, who thoroughly dominated the Orlando Magic, 100-75, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, who even the Stanley Cup Finals at 2 games, with a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
Perhaps yesterday really was the perfect day…
Have a fantastic Friday!
Ah yes, those sweet walk-off wins…
Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP
Yesterday, before the game, I had seen a She-Fan comment that the Yankees never hit rookies very well and the Phillies were starting rookie J.A. Happ (who has taken Chan Ho Park’s spot in the rotation). I am in complete agreement as the Yankees usually struggle with lesser-known pitchers. And of course, yesterday was no exception. For six innings, Happ gave the Phillies a solid four-hit, two-run performance. He did not give up any walks, and struck out four. He departed with a 4-2 lead and in position to get the win.
The Yankees were unable to get anything going against reliever Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson for the next two innings, so it set the stage for the 9th inning.
Three outs from defeat…star closer Brad “Lights Out” Lidge on the mound…it didn’t look good…
From The Phillies Zone Blog, philly.com
Johnny Damon got it started by drawing a walk from Lidge, and advanced to second on a steal. Mark Teixeira struck out, but was followed by Alex Rodriguez. After working the count to 3-2, A-Rod hit a right field homer to tie the game.
Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP
Robinson Cano came up next, and singled. Like Damon had done earlier, he advanced to second on a steal. That brought Melky Cabrera to the plate…
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
On May 15th, Melky had hit a two-run single in the bottom of the 9th inning to beat the Minnesota Twins (the first of three walk-off wins that weekend).
Credit Antonelli/NY Daily News
Melky also had a game-winning home run against the Oakland A’s in April, ending a 14-inning affair.
Credit: William Perlman/Star-Ledger
Saturday night, once again, he delivered. A hit to right scored Cano, and the Yankees had emerged the victors with a 5-4 win over the Phillies…
Credit: Brian J. Myers/US Presswire
Credit: New York Post
Some interesting facts…
The last Yankee with three-game winning hits in a season was Claudell Washington in 1988.
The Yankees current ten game streak with no errors hasn’t been done by the team since 1995.
Brad Lidge has blown three saves this year after not blowing any during the Phillies championship season. His ERA is now 9.16. So, to the Phillies’ defense, this is not the same Lidge. The implosion by his former Astros teammate allowed Andy Pettitte to escape with a no-decision.
From MLB Pro Blog, Alyson’s Footnotes
John Mayberry, Jr. made his major league debut and hit a three-run homer off Pettitte. His father hit the final home run of his career at the old Yankee Stadium in 1982, as a member of the Yankees. I guess it’s in with the new, out with the old…
Credit: Frank Franklin II/AP
With both Mayberry and Nick Swisher playing, the game definitely had a 1970’s “feel” to it…
Xavier Nady, Jorge Posada, and Jose Molina will head to Tampa to get ready to their impending returns. While it will be great to see Xavier and Jorge, I have to admit that I like what Francisco Cervelli has done while both Posada and Molina have been out. It’s too bad that the team can’t find a way to move Hideki Matsui to open up the DH spot for Jorge, and allow Cervelli continued playing time.
Finally, I saw a piece in the Star-Ledger yesterday about the attempts by fans to save “Gate 2” of the old Yankee Stadium. If Gate 2 is the most complete original part of the stadium (prior to the 1970’s renovations), why doesn’t the city preserve it as a memorial to the old Stadium and the legends who played there? The article gave an artist’s rendition of the proposed park, and I think it is not only a terrific idea but one that the city must do. I always wanted to see the old parks like Ebbetts Field and the Polo Grounds, but I can’t…they don’t exist. If nothing is done to save part of the old stadium, my children’s children will never know the existence of the House That Ruth Built. This idea makes way too much sense, and I hope that the city realizes it before it’s too late…
Star Ledger/Courtesy of Richard Lillard
Hey Julia, who is Omir Santos?
Jonathon Papelbon was cruising in the 9th inning last night. Although he had walked former Yankee Gary Sheffield, he punched out both David Wright and Jeremy Reed with pure heat. With two outs, Mets catcher Omir Santos (called up from Triple A Buffalo in April when Brian Schneider was placed on the DL) was the last hope. He drilled the first pitch from Papelbon off the top of the Green Monster. It was initially ruled a double, but instant replay (its first use at Fenway Park) showed that it was a two-run homer which gave the Mets’ a 3-2 lead.
Credit: Winslow Townson/AP
J.J. Putz, in place of Francisco Rodriguez who was hospitalized due to back spasms, closed out the game to preserve the victory for the Mets.
So, this morning finds the Yankees sharing second place with the Red Sox. A certain friend of mine had predicted that this morning would find the Yankees two games behind the Red Sox. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. The Jays also lost (4-3 to Atlanta) so the Yankees are now just ½ game behind the AL East Leaders.
Do we need any more evidence to show how much Alex Rodriguez means to this team? His return has led to the resurgence, and the Yankees are now clearly in the thick of things.
I am so looking forward to June 9th through 11th! Are you ready, Julia? Game on! J
I like walk-off hits…
Melky Cabrera won last night’s game against the Minnesota Twins with a two-run single in the 9th inning. The inning had began with the Twins up 4-2 and ace closer Joe Nathan on the mound. Brett Gardner tripled to start the inning, and Mark Teixeira drove him in with a single. Alex Rodriguez worked the count and walked. Nathan struck out Hideki Matsui and retired Nick Swisher. Swisher’s ground out moved Teixeira and Rodriguez to second and third. The Twins issued a free pass to Robinson Cano which loaded the bases, with two outs. Melky Cabrera came up and promptly delivered the game winning shot with a single between center fielder Carlos Gomez and left fielder Denard Span. The Yankees, who had never held a lead in the game, won 5-4.
Richard Perry/The New York Times
The bullpen finally did a good job as starter Phil Hughes only went 5 innings, giving up three runs. The bullpen only gave up one more run, a homer by Joe Mauer against Phil Coke in the 7th. The winner was the generally unreliable Jose Veras, who struck out the only batter he faced in the 9th inning (Michael Cuddyer).
Meanwhile, Hughes is probably packing his bags for Scranton as Chien-Ming Wang nears his return…
Other game tidbits…
The Twins’ Justin Morneau hit two home runs on a day he celebrated his 28th birthday…
There was some drama when Mark Teixeira took exception with Carlos Gomez and his ‘inside path’ to first base (the second time he had run that route in the game, which resulted in a collision with Tex’s wrist at first). The players had words and it brought out both managers in defense of their respective players.
The game also saw the Yankees’ first inside the park home run when speedy Brett Gardner hit a ball to shallow left that took an unexpected bounce and went to the warning track on Denard Span. It was the first inside the park homer for the Yanks since Ricky Ledee did it in August 1999.
It was an exciting game. Unlike the Yankees’ depressing loss to Doc Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays (where I felt that the Yankees were never going to get back in the game), I had the sense last night that it “wasn’t over until it’s over”. You could see and feel the rally in the 9th, so it almost would have been a surprise had Cabrera not come through. It was a feel-good victory, and it pushed the Yankees to a winning record at 18-17. The Blue Jays also won so the Yanks remain in 3rd place, 4 ½ games behind. Until the Yanks play again later today, life is good…
This, of course, brings me to the second place club. I had gotten a message from my friend that the Boston Red Sox were leading the Seattle Mariners 2-0. But there were no follow up score updates. Of course, I woke up this morning and saw that the Mariners had rallied from a 4-0 deficit against Jon Lester, and had pulled a victory by the same 5-4 score the Yankees had. I think it was even an ex-Red Sox pitcher that saved the game for the M’s in David Aaardsma. So, Julia, yes, it was a perfect night!
SOME OFF-TOPIC COMMENTS –
FAVRE AND THE PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS
I know, how can I be a Vikings fan but not like the Twins? Well, that’s what happens when you grow up in a “free agent” state (a state which does not have any professional teams). C’mon, how many professional teams are itching to build a new stadium in Des Moines, Iowa? LOL!
I have been following the Brett Favre story with some interest. I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings. Obviously, the Jets failed down the stretch last year, and much of it has been attributed to Favre and the partially torn right biceps tendon in his throwing shoulder. Brett opted not to have surgery, and is still recovering from the injury. This week he consulted with Dr. James Andrews to determine his options.
A leading shoulder specialist was quoted in a Minnesota newspaper that minor surgery to correct the problem is the worst case scenario. Favre is apparently amenable to minor surgery, but not arthroscopic surgery. Minor surgery would allow him to be ready for training camp (and of course miss the OTA’s and mini-camps).
It would be weird seeing Favre wear a #4 purple jersey. But his leadership and experience would be invaluable for the younger players on the team, including QB Tavaris Jackson. Jackson is still young enough to learn a great deal from Favre who would be expected to play no more than one year.
And of course, I like the Green Bay Packers about as much as I like the Boston Red Sox, so there’s not much that would be sweeter than watching Favre lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl.
I wanted Matt Cassel and Jay Cutler at various points this off-season, but both were traded elsewhere.
Favre represents the next best option. The team has a strong defense, good offensive line (depending upon how well the younger players like new starting center John Sullivan and rookie tackle Phil Loadholt perform), good receiving corps that will feature a new look with the presence of the talented Percy Harvin, and, of course, the best running back in the league. I expect the special teams to be improved with some of the talent in the draft pick selections, so the key to the 2009 season is clearly the quarterback position. I am not convinced that T-Jack is the man for the job, and Sage Rosenfels is not going to suddenly blossom into the elite level. So, why not try Favre?
Coke is definitely the Real Thing!
Melky Cabrera got the accolades for the Yankees 7-4 victory over the
Anaheim Los Angeles Angels, however, I give the star to Yankees reliever Phil Coke.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America
He has quietly and consistently been a reliable weapon in the bullpen. Considering that most of the guys seem have ERA’s around Yogi Berra’s retired uniform number, it’s refreshing to see Coke come in and just do his job. He hasn’t been perfect this year, but he is learning and he is getting better. That’s all I can ask.
He earned the victory for last night’s game in relief of A.J. Burnett, who went 7 innings and gave up 4 runs. Coke pitched the 8th inning, with 1 strike out and no runs. Every day that I don’t see Jose Veras or Damaso Marte coming out of the pen is good day!
Speaking of Cabrera, how clutch was his single in the 8th inning? He ripped it into right field to score the go-ahead run. Ramiro Pena subsequently drove in two insurance runs with a double. They were the first 2 RBI’s of Pena’s major league career. I still can’t get used to him wearing Dave Righetti’s number even though others, like Aaron Boone and Luis Sojo, have worn it since.
New York Post
The Yankees always lose to the Angels so it was nice to see them win for a change. Hopefully, they’ll keep it up since I will be making my first appearance at Yankee Stadium on Sunday (the final game of the 4-game set with the Angels).
Of course, I have to credit the Yankees recent success on Jane Heller’s Pen. All hail the Pen! No pressure on the She-Fan. She just has to keep the pen happy, safe…and full of ink!
Courtesy Confessions of a She-Fan (Jane Heller)
I wonder if she has taken the Pen to see any of the vineyards in the wine country near Santa Barbara, or if they’ve hung out at the beach. The primary mission is to keep the Pen happy!
So, Jane, remember that if you and your husband are in the car and Michael’s driving, the Pen has dibs for the front passenger seat. You are relegated to the back seat…or worse, the trunk! Sorry, it is now all about the Pen…
JULIA’S JOURNEY TO NEW YORK CITY
As you know, Julia will be traveling to New York City with 7th and 8th grade musicians from her middle school. They are attending a music festival. Most likely, she’ll be attempting to infect the fine citizens of New York with a bad case of Red Sox flu. Of course, this is all in her dreams, so to protect the good citizens of the city of New York, I have decided to post a dream catcher to ensure that everyone is safe from a Red Sox epidemic.
The New York State Police should set up a roadblock so that when Julia enters New York, they can confiscate any contraband (i.e., Kevin Youkilis jersey).
Julia, please be sure to check out how the pink Yankee hats look (considering that you’ll be a proud owner of one soon!).
A PERFECT NIGHT
Watching the Tampa Bay Rays’ Matt Garza nearly throw a perfect game against the Boston Red Sox made me realize that a “perfect” night is anytime the Yankees win and the Red Sox lose. Last night was one of those nights. At some point, I should really learn to hate the Rays but so far, I haven’t been able to do it. There is always great satisfaction in seeing the Rays put one over on the Red Sox, and like last year, if the Yanks can’t win it, it’s good to see someone other than Boston take it (well, except for maybe the Orioles). Garza came oh so close to a perfect game. If he could have only handled that grounder up the middle by Jacoby Ellsbury…
Why is it that every time you see a player do great things, their name is usually preceded by “former Minnesota Twin”? The next time the Twins decide to cut a player, I want to make sure that he signs with the Yankees! So, Erin, please give me the heads-up, okay? Any chance that the Twins will be cutting Joe Mauer? LOL!
I have avoided commenting on the latest A-Rod allegations. I dislike the timing of Selena Roberts’ book (release coincides with his return to the Yankees). There are apparently claims that Alex used steroids in high school and in New York after he was traded to the Yankees (which contradict A-Rod’s previous statements that he only used steroids in Texas). At this point, there is nothing gained by repeatedly dragging A-Rod through the mud. He used steroids, yes, and it is not something that should be condoned. But it’s over. Let’s move on. Let A-Rod be judged for the man he is today. If he is found to be using steroids from this point forward, then banish him. But I don’t care what he did when he was 6 years old…
I am not trying to be delusional or hide from the fact that Alex did something very wrong. But the truth is that steroid use was not a capital offense during the times of his alleged use. Perhaps if it continued into his Yankee years, it may have but there is no concrete evidence. If evidence is found, then convict him. But until then, back off and let the man play baseball.
Have a great weekend!
While I think that the agreement the Yankees reached with Xavier Nady (one year for $6.65 million) was reasonable under the circumstances, Melky Cabrera’s deal is a joke. When does a .249 season with 8 home runs and 37 RBI’s warrant more than tripling your income. The one year $1.4 million deal that the team sealed with Cabrera is rewarding a classic underachiever for more of the same. Melky must feel like a Lotto winner tonight considering he has done nothing to warrant the huge pay increase…
On March 3rd, Team USA will play the Yankees in an exhibition game. It will be very strange to see Derek Jeter as an opposing player…even worse watching him flip the ball to Dustin Pedroia or throw across the infield to Kevin Youklis.
A little more than three weeks before CC Sabathia embarks on his journey from Northern California to Tampa…