The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox are winning, and the Yankees, um, not so much…
The proverbial “bump in the road” has occurred which derailed the great start to the season. Of course, the Yankees are just a winning streak away from corrective action. However, the recent days have not been fun.
Jeff Zelevansky/NY Post
After defeating the New York Mets on Friday night behind the brilliant, but injury-shortened, effort of Javier Vazquez, the Yankees and Phil Hughes lost on Saturday night, 5-3. Hughes has mirrored the team play…great start followed by recent lackluster performances.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Tonight, the Yankees trail the Mets 6-0 in the top of the 7th inning. There is still lots of time for the Yankees to rally. But this team is definitely missing the “spark” right now. I am not sure who’ll provide that spark, but perhaps the impending return of centerfielder Curtis Granderson will help. While I enjoy the energy and excitement that Francisco Cervelli provides, a starting lineup that includes Cervelli, Juan Miranda, and Randy Winn/Marcus Thames/Kevin Russo definitely does not stir memories of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Starting pitching, once a strength, is now suspect. There was a time when the only slug in the rotation was Vazquez, and now he’s the only shining star. CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes have all left pitching lines that they just as soon forget. How quickly things have changed. I recognize that this mini-slump is temporary, but so far, the Rays have not showed they are susceptible to these types of slowdowns. Therefore, it is imperative for the Yankees to break out of this slump soon. Otherwise, they’ll soon find themselves looking at the backs of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox.
Boston Globe Staff
As much as I hate to do it, I have to give a tip of the cap to the Boston Red Sox. Not only did they beat the Philadelphia Phillies today with Tim Wakefield, they beat Roy Halladay. It was an impressive win by Julia‘s guys…
Well, the Fat Lady did sing today. The Chicago Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks in the NHL Western Conference Finals. Another disappointing finish for Joe Thornton and Company. Good luck to the Blackhawks as they move on to the Stanley Cup Finals to face either the Montreal Canadiens or the Philadelphia Flyers. I am left to wonder what could have been. But then again, that’s a frequent feeling when you are a fan of the Sharks and the Minnesota Vikings… L
It was a dream…
Yes, that’s it! Wednesday and Thursday did not happen. The Tampa Bay Rays didn’t come into the Bronx and spank for the Yankees for two days. They didn’t race to their 30th win of the season and show a superior starting rotation , did they?
Antonelli/NY Daily News
Maybe if I go back to bed, when I get up it will be Wednesday morning, the Yankees can re-do those two forgettable days. Seriously, the Rays didn’t just beat the Yanks, they stomped them. The final scores are deceiving (10-6 and 8-6) only because the Yankees made it close in the final inning of each game.
The games told me that the Rays need to do something about their bullpen, but otherwise, they are a complete team. Given the injury trouble the Yanks have encountered, it’s tough to compete with the Rays when you are playing at about 80% strength. That’s not an excuse though because the Yankees starting pitching was just, well, bad.
Kevin R. Wexler/The Record
Hopefully, the Yankees can re-group and play more competitive baseball the next time they face the Rays. This has been a tough stretch but it was bound to happen with the adversity the team has faced (injuries, playing every day, added pressure on schedule caused by rainout in Detroit and subsequent double-header, etc.).
In both games, the Yankees did try to launch 9th inning rallies, scoring 4 runs in the first game and 2 runs in the 2nd. It was not quite enough, but at least the team showed fight until the end.
Tonight, the Yankees were in Flushing Meadow to face the New York Mets at CitiField. After facing the Rays and Red Sox, it is probably a welcome relief to see the Mets who have struggled this year.
It was a great night for Javier Vazquez until a hand injury ended his night. With, by far, his best performance of the season (6 innings of one hit, no run ball and 6 strikeouts), Javy picked up his third win of the season. He was at home in a National League ballpark. The argument is that he is a better NL pitcher than AL, and on this night, he proved it. Hopefully, the hand injury is not serious, and this start catapults Vazquez back to respectability with Yankees fans. I know that he can pitch so much better than what he has regardless of the stadium location, so if he can right himself mentally, he’ll be okay and will provide the lift the rotation needs.
Kevin P. Coughlin/McClatchy
In addition to Javy, the star of the game was a name not many people know, Kevin Russo. The infielder was recently called up from the minors, and his double in the 7th inning scored Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli.
I was a bit concerned when Joe Girardi called on Joba Chamberlain in the bottom of the 7th, but he did his job. Joba, who I blamed for the losses to the Twins on Sunday and Red Sox on Tuesday, was very effective. He went 1 2/3 innings and had three timely strike outs. Now, Mariano Rivera is a different story. He continues to struggle. The shut-out was lost when Jason Bay and Ike Davis hit back-to-back doubles. But he settled down to get David Wright on a ground out to end the game. The Yankees won, 2-1.
The night was further enhanced by Boston and Tampa losses. The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Red Sox, 5-1, while the Houston Astros defeated the Rays, 2-1.
Steven M. Falk/Philly.com
Speaking of the Red Sox, the Yankees have signed minor league utility player Jeff Natale who was drafted by the Red Sox in 2005. The 27-year-old heads for Scranton/Wilkes Barre. It was also interesting to see three former Yankee relievers in the transactions column within the past day. Chad Gaudin was released by the Oakland A’s, who also outrighted Edwar Ramirez to AAA Sacramento, while the Washington Nationals placed Brian Bruney on waivers (which he has cleared). From World Series ring to what have you done for me lately…hopefully, the guys will re-surface in the bigs in the not-so-distant future.
Michael Stobe/US Presswire
It’s almost over for my San Jose Sharks. They lost tonight in overtime to fall down 3 games to none to the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL Western Conference Finals. I think I hear the fat lady warming up her vocal cords… L
Nhat V. Meyer/Mercury News
So, Brett Favre has told the Southern Mississippi baseball team that he’ll return to the Minnesota Vikings if they make the College World Series. Also, it was reported today that Brett had surgery on his left ankle and could be ready to play by training camp. I’ve suspected all along that he’ll be back. The team has been too nonchalant and these latest reports are signs that Brett intends to play. It still remains to be seen, but it is looking like we’ll see an encore performance by #4 in purple and gold. I am sure Tavaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are thrilled…
Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune
Hey Javy, nice job! J
Simmons/NY Daily News
The agony of defeat…
It’s amazing how you can go from a very high “high” to a very low “low” in 24 hours. A night after a walk-off home run by Marcus Thames, he was a goat in last night’s 7-6 loss to the Boston Red Sox. His drop of Marco Scutaro’s fly ball in the 9th inning was a crucial blow that set the stage for Jeremy Hermida’s two-run double that gave Boston the runs it would need to win.
Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger
There were several goats in this loss. Thames didn’t shoulder the blame alone. You really have to start with the awful performance by Joba Chamberlain. On Sunday, he allowed the floodgates to open for the Twins and the momentum crushed Mariano Rivera. In many ways, it happened again last night. Chamberlain didn’t allow the runs in the 9th (Rivera did), however, the Red Sox had clearly taken the momentum of the game with the 4 run 8th inning to tie the score. I could tell after a couple of batters that Joba didn’t have it last night, but manager Joe Girardi stuck with Chamberlain to erase the 5-1 advantage.
Keivom/NY Daily News
The Yankees had their chance for late inning heroics but this time Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon closed the door. The Yanks were able to pick up a run on a Robinson Cano double in the bottom of the 9th. However, with the game-tying and game-winning runs on 2nd and 3rd, Juan Miranda grounded out and Randy Winn struck out to end the game.
The Yankees (25-14) fell another game behind the Tampa Bay Rays with the loss. The Rays, who are in town for a two-game series before the start of the weekend’s matchup against the Mets, beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-2 and are now 28-11. Unless Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera can return the bullpen to a strength, the series against the Rays will be very difficult to win. It’s too bad that a very strong performance by CC Sabathia was wasted last night, The Yanks could have used it against the Rays. Let’s hope that A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte are up to the task.
Antonelli/NY Daily News
On the bright side, I did somehow manage to win the latest wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants. After the Sox had taken the 7-5 lead, we were tied with total runs (16 runs for both teams). But Cano’s 9th inning RBI gave the Yankees a total of 17 runs, so I won on that basis despite the split of the two-game series. So, stay tuned for a post by Julia which will detail the Yankees’ first World Series championship. She has assured me that she will use as few words as possible! Of course, I say when is Julia ever at a loss for words!
It was not a particularly good night for me as the San Jose Sharks lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-2, to fall behind 2 games to none in the NHL Western Conference Finals.
At least Lee Dewyze gave a masterful performance on the American Idol stage so the night wasn’t a total loss. His rendition of Hallelujah clearly set him apart from his competition (Crystal Bowersox and Casey James), and as Randy Jackson says, he’s in it to win it. Unless American Idol is nothing more than a popularity contest, Casey James should be heading back to Texas tonight for an AI final pitting Bowersox against Dewyze. It should be a great one!
Robert Frost once said he could sum up everything he has learned about life in three words. “It goes on”…
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.
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.
Antonelli/New York Daily News
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”
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.
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).
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.
San 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.
San 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!
The string comes unwound…
The Yankees had been successful in every season series this year except for their trip to Anaheim, CA, but the string of success came to a resounding thud in Detroit. The Tigers were victorious in winning 3 of 4 games against the Yankees.
The Tigers took a close game on Monday, 5-4, when a late Yankees rally fell short. Tuesday was rained out, so the team played two the next day. Despite a strong performance by Javier Vazquez (his best of the season, by far), the Yanks fell 2-0 in the first game. They rebounded in the nightcap behind a very strong performance by Phil Hughes, which is rapidly becoming “the norm” for #65. The game was close most of the way until the Yankees scored 6 runs in the 9th to win, 8-0.
In the getaway game, the Yanks were shut out for the second time in three games, 6-0. The game was highlighted by a disappointing outing by CC Sabathia.
Tonight, the Yankees are back in the Bronx for a weekend series against the Minnesota Twins.
As it stands right now, I am concerned about the team. Andy Pettitte pitches on Saturday and there is uncertainty regarding his health. He has missed a start due to elbow stiffness and it would not be realistic to expect his high level of performance in April to continue.
The rainout in Detroit, forcing Javier Vazquez to pitch on Wednesday, has pushed Javy’s next start back a day so Sergio Mitre will start Sunday against the Twins.
My biggest concern is the ongoing health challenges the team has faced. For awhile, it seemed as though every win was accompanied by an injury. I know the Yankees spare no expense, but at times, I do wonder about the team’s strength and conditioning program. It is a completely unsubstantiated remark, but the constant little injuries do make you wonder what the cause might be.
Curtis Granderson is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, but he has yet to begin running again. He is scheduled to do some light running this weekend, and has been vigorously working out. However, if he hasn’t started running, it does not appear he’ll be back immediately. Nothing against Marcus Thames, Randy Winn or Greg Golson, but I’d prefer to see those guys coming off the bench…not starting in the outfield.
Other Yankees have been dinged up…Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mariano Rivera, et al. Chan Ho Park and Alfredo Aceves are on the DL with Granderson, although Park is expected back soon.
A trip to October always includes a bit of luck so hopefully the Yanks will be able to overcome these string of injuries without losing too much ground to the Tampa Bay Rays…or let the dreaded Boston Red Sox catch up.
On the bright side (for me), the San Jose Sharks will soon begin the Western Conference Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks for the right to advance to the Stanley Cup. I had hoped for a Stanley Cup collision against my friend, Julia, but unfortunately, her Boston Bruins let a 3 games to none lead slip away. That also included a 3-0 lead in Game 7. So close Julia, “but so far away”. Sorry, my friend. At least we still have hope in the NBA play-offs as the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are in their respective conference finals. So, we’ll have to hope for Lakers-Celtics in the finals, with a Sharks-Bruins match-up just a dream for future years.
Another wager, another victory!…
Yet again, my friend, Julia of Julia’s Rants, came up on the short end of our latest wager. After starting last year 0-8 against Boston, I was starting to wonder if the Yankees would ever beat the Red Sox. Since then, the Yankees have dominated the series. Regardless of the outcome of tonight’s game, the Yankees will have captured another series. Since the beginning of the season, the Yankees have only lost one series (versus the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim).
Saturday, in a nationally televised game, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 14-3. The game featured three home runs by first baseman Mark Teixeira (although I temper that somewhat by the fact that the last home run was off outfielder Jonathan Van Every who was brought in to save the arms in the pen).
CC Sabathia missed picking up the win by one out. While facing Victor Martinez, who could have been the third out of the inning, the game was interrupted by a rain delay that ended the night for CC. When the game resumed, Alfredo Aceves was on the mound and it was he who picked up the win.
The game marked several historic achievements. Teixeira is the first Yankee since Lou Gehrig in 1927 to hit at least three home runs in one game against the Red Sox. Also, catcher Francisco Cervelli, filling in for Jorge Posada, had 5 RBI’s, something that hasn’t been done by a Yankees catcher since the days of Yogi Berra.
Today, history was made in Oakland when pitcher Dallas Braden threw the first perfect game in A’s history since Jim “Catfish” Hunter did it in 1968. Given that I credit Catfish Hunter for being a Yankees fan (I rooted for the A’s as a child until Hunter signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1974), it was rather bittersweet to see his A’s record matched by, of all people, Dallas Braden. Braden, president of the Anti A-Rod Club or so it seems, nearly walked the final batter as he worked a 3-1 count but a ground-out upheld the gem. The victory was especially sweet since it came against the AL East leading Tampa Bay Rays. It was rather ironic that Braden would help the man he bitterly opposes. For the record, I was on Braden’s side of his beef with A-Rod, but Braden does need to let it go (as he made further comments about it this week). Nevertheless, congratulations to Braden for a very fine performance.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The San Jose Sharks finally overcame their nemesis and advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a 2-1 Game 5 victory against the Detroit Red Wings. First or second round failures have become commonplace for the Sharks in recent years so hopefully the team has shaken its demons and is a collision course with the Stanley Cup. The team now awaits the winner of the Chicago Blackhawks-Vancouver Canucks series (Chicago leads 3 games to 2).
Josie Lepe/Mercury News
Back to the Yankees, they weren’t so fortunate in Boston tonight as Jon Lester was on his game and A.J. Burnett wasn’t. A.J. gave up 9 runs in 4 1/3 innings (8 earned), meanwhile, Lester went 7 innings and only gave up 4 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 7.
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
So, congratulations to Julia for her victories today (the Celtics also won), and she was right, the Red Sox avoided the sweep. But still the wager victory is mine and the series win goes to the Yankees, so until we meet again Julia! By the way, don’t you have some shopping to do?….
Bring out the broom…
The Baltimore Orioles have proven to be very challenging for the Yankees in recent years. The Orioles are one of the AL’s young and improving teams, and they’ll be a force to be reckoned with in the not-so-distant future. Despite the slow start, the Orioles came into the Bronx fresh off a weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox. But pitching prevailed as the Yankees completed a three game sweep before heading to Boston for their own weekend series against the Red Sox.
Antonelli/NY Daily News
I’d love to think that…if the Orioles can sweep the Red Sox and the Yankees can sweep the Orioles, then surely the Yankees can… Oh well, one can dream! It should be a fun series at Fenway Park.
After the Yankees picked up wins in the first two games against Baltimore behind the pitching of CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, I was somewhat concerned that the Yankees would be caught looking ahead to the weekend on “getaway day”. Thanks to homers by Nicks Johnson and Swisher, Andy Pettitte was staked to an early 6-1 lead but he departed in the 5th inning due to a stiff elbow. An MRI later revealed mild inflammation in his left elbow, and he is expected to miss his next start. With Mariano Rivera still out and Joba Chamberlain unavailable after two consecutive nights of work, the game was left in the hands of the bullpen. Baltimore mounted a rally against the relief corps, but the Yankees held on for the 7-5 win. Alfredo Aceves picked up the save.
The Yankees have definitely dealt with their share of injuries lately. Fortunately, only one player was hurt enough for placement on the DL (Curtis Granderson; strained groin). The others, like Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, have simply taken a few days off. The Yankees will most likely skip Pettitte’s next start as a precautionary measure, but hopefully, Posada and Rivera will be ready for action on Friday night.
With the Yankees headed for Boston, it can only mean one thing…for me, anyway. It’s time for my latest battle against Julia of Julia’s Rants! This time, we’ve decided to make the loser go on a journey to find an inexpensive piece of memorabilia about the ‘other’ team. It can’t be something that is current and easy to find. Part of the loser’s obligation will be to document their journey by photographs in the quest. The loser will have until the end of Memorial Day Weekend to complete their adventure. It should be a very fun time for Julia as she explores Boston for Yankees paraphernalia! Hey Julia, Game On! J
Speaking of the Red Sox, they did the classy thing and had Nomar Garciaparra Day today at Fenway Park against the Los Angeles Angels. Despite the 2004 trade and Nomar’s subsequent stays in Chicago, Los Angeles and Oakland, he remains a fan favorite in Boston and the city was allowed to express their love and respect for a great former Red Sox player. A very nice touch by the Red Sox organization…
Boston Globe Staff
I’d also like to pay respects to the late great Ernie Harwell. The long-time Detroit Tigers announcer lost his battle with cancer at age 92. I may not have been a Tigers fan, but I was…correction, I am…an Ernie Harwell fan. For a wonderful tribute to one of the game’s greatest, you don’t have to go any further than Mitch Albom’s column in the Detroit Free Press. His column entitled ‘Ernie Harwell: Gone now, but not forgotten’ is a must-read.
Daniel Mears/The Detroit News
So, Julia‘s Boston Bruins and my San Jose Sharks are both a game away for their respective conference finals. Both teams hold commanding 3 games to none leads in their current series, the Sharks against the Detroit Red Wings and the Bruins against the Philadelphia Flyers. A Stanley Cup is not a certainty by any stretch as both teams still have to a) win their current series, and b) win the conference finals. But here’s at least one person hoping for a match-up against the great Ranter from Massachusetts! Hey Julia, Games on!