Revenge is best served cold…
Unfortunately, the last laugh belongs to former Yankees manager Buck Showalter. A funny thing happened to the Yankees on their way to the AL East Championship; they were derailed by Showalter’s Baltimore Orioles. Following an 8-game winning streak, the Yanks have now lost three games in a row including the first two of their latest series with the O’s. As the O’s were pounding the Yankees tonight, the Tampa Bay Rays were thumping the Boston Red Sox to move closer to first.
The Boston Globe
In a dead heat, it is hard not to give the Rays the advantage due to their superior pitching staff. Frankly, I am not so sure that the Yankees have the pitching to advance very deep into the play-offs regardless of whether they win the AL East or get in as the Wild Card. I want the Yankees to win, of course, but when the O’s can pummel your ace like a batting practice pitcher, and the next pitcher in line, A.J. Burnett, no longer trusts his stuff, how can you get excited about your team’s chances? No one knows how Andy Pettitte will perform, and there is a very good chance he’ll have some rust to shake at a time when there is no time. Javier Vazquez is finished as a frontline starter in New York at least, and Phil Hughes is about done as he nears his innings ceiling. The second best starter on the staff right now is rookie Ivan Nova. The missed opportunities to get either Cliff Lee (regardless of his recent health issues) or Ted Lilly will haunt the Yanks in October. I realize that it wasn’t necessarily Brian Cashman’s fault, but looking back, I was so surprised last off-season when the decision was made to bring future ex-Yankee Vazquez back to New York. I thought it was a mistake at the time, and now it appears to be a catastrophic error.
When the Yankees win, things are fantastic, but when they lose, it’s doom and gloom, I know. But realistically speaking, win or lose, the Yankees simply do not have the horses in the starting rotation beyond CC Sabathia to excel in the play-offs when clearly good pitching beats good hitting.
The Yankees have a great offense, but without top line pitching, their hitters can’t power their way to October wins. The injury issues with Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher have hurt, as has Derek Jeter’s slump. Lance Berkman is starting to figure out AL pitching but is it too little too late? Time will tell.
This off-season will be one of transition for the Yanks. They’ll have to make some hard decisions, and they’ll need to look at replacing some of the old guard. The Boston Red Sox have proven that no team should get too attached to any player. I know the Sox will most likely miss the play-offs but that’s only because of the toll the injuries have had on the team (which is beyond Theo Epstein’s control). Otherwise, it is not outside of the realm of possibility that the Yanks could be in third chasing the Rays and the Sox.
It’s hard to believe that the NFL season is now upon us. My team, the Minnesota Vikings, open the season on Thursday night against the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints. Brett Favre will get the chance to prove that he should have run instead of attempting to pass, but it will be hard to re-capture last year’s magic. Favre’s favorite target, Sidney Rice, is on the sidelines thanks to hip surgery. In reading many Minnesota news reports, you come to the conclusion that the media feels strongly this is the final year of the Vikings’ window of opportunity. I know so much rides on Brett Favre’s arm, but the rest of the team does have some talent. I was sad to see fellow Iowa native Sage Rosenfels traded to the New York Giants, but something had to give to protect QB prospect Joe Webb. I am not a fan of backup QB Tavaris Jackson, but I am also not so sure that Webb will be ready to take over at QB when Favre retires (for good) at the end of the year. I was quietly hoping the Vikings would make a play on free agent QB Matt Leinart before he signed with the Houston Texans. I know that Leinart failed in Arizona, but I do believe that he has the talent to succeed in the right system. He is signed to just a one-year deal so hopefully he’ll be one of the options the Vikings look at when trying to replace Favre for next season.
I guess this is a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of night…
Yankees Win + Rays Loss = 1 Game Lead in AL
Finally, after 8 days, the Yankees were able to
shake the Rays for at least a day with a 9-2 win over the Oakland A’s in the
Bronx on Tuesday night. The Rays started
strong against the pesky Toronto Blue Jays, but they saw a 3-1 lead erased when
the Jays scored 10 runs in the 6th inning to win going away,
13-5. So, the Yankees are 82-50 while
the Rays are 81-51. Meanwhile, the
Boston Red Sox fell to the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 so it was a very good night!
John Munson/The Star Ledger
I was toggling back and forth on MLB Radio between
the Yankees and Rays games and I think I missed about a dozen runs scoring
between both games. I was very surprised
about the ineffectiveness of the Rays’ Jeff Niemann. He has been roughed up in both games he’s
pitched since his return from the DL. As
for the Yankees, it was painful with Phil Hughes on the mound, given his
inability to throw strikes. Of 98
pitches, only 52 were strikes, resulting in 5 walks in 5 innings. However, he was able to last long enough to
pick up his 16th win of the season.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
The only surprise of tonight’s game was that Marcus
Thames didn’t homer. He had homered in
his 5 previous consecutive games. It
will be interesting to see what happens when Lance Berkman returns from the
DL. I’d be surprised if the Yanks sat
Thames given his hot bat, but it would be sad to see a great player like
Berkman on the bench. I am glad that I
don’t have to make Joe Girardi’s decisions.
Tim Farrell/The Star Ledger
It was great seeing Mark Teixeira back in the
lineup, especially after he hit his 30th home run of the
The Yankees are close to returning to full strength
as Alex Rodriguez should be back on the field on Sunday. Of course, with a 16-3 record, the Yankees
haven’t exactly missed A-Rod in the win column.
Still, it will be nice to have Berkman, A-Rod, and Andy Pettitte back in
action as the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox head for the stretch run.
On a side note, I was disappointed the Los Angeles
Dodgers pulled back pitcher Ted Lilly after he was claimed on waivers by the
Yankees. With the pitching struggles of
Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett, it would have been nice to have a security
blanket like Lilly around. Plus, he know
New York and that’s hard experience to find.
Oh well, time to protect that one game lead…
Such a great start…
Such a disappointing middle and end…
Friday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in
St. Petersburg, FL, started so strong, but then the team’s offense
flatlined. After a Derek Jeter single
and a Nick Swisher home run to start the game, the Yankees could only manage
two more hits (singles by Robinson Cano) the rest of the way against winner
Wade Davis and the Rays bullpen.
Similarly, Phil Hughes started strong and it looked
like he was cruising with a 2-0 lead until the bottom of the 6th
inning when a three-run home run by Matt Joyce put the Rays up, 3-2 (which
proved to be the final score).
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
Alex Rodriguez was a huge disappointment…again…as
he went 0-for-4 in his extended quest for 600 home runs. The only way that A-Rod could have gotten a
hit would have been for Mark Teixeira to smack him. I’ll be glad when he finally does hit #600
because this is getting painful watching the pathetic at-bats.
Bridget Wentworth/The Star Ledger
The Rays found themselves just a game out of first
place, with Matt Garza on the mound Saturday against Javier Vazquez. Garza threw a no-hitter against the Detroit
Tigers in his last outing, so he’ll be looking to extend the scoreless, hitless
streak against the Yankees. Hopefully,
Javy will be up for the challenge.
With less than 24 hours to the trading deadline,
the Yankees finally pulled off a couple of deals, neither of which address the
more pressing needs (bullpen help and a backup third baseman to spell A-Rod). Granted, GM Brian Cashman is not finished,
but so far, he has added a DH and a part-time left fielder to the mix. I had wondered who would be the first player
of the post-Boss Steinbrenner era. The
award goes to first baseman Lance Berkman of the Houston Astros. He agreed to the deal that would send him to
New York for a couple of minor leaguers, but as a 10-and-5 player, the Yankees
must wait 24 hours before the deal can be finalized.
The Yankees later acquired outfielder Austin Kearns
from the Cleveland Indians, so, technically, he’ll arrive on the Yankees roster
sooner than Berkman.
Berkman effectively replaces injured Nick Johnson
as the full-time designated hitter. Nick,
who is still on the DL due to a wrist injury, is nearing his return, but he
obviously cannot be relied upon given his injury history (something the Yankees
should have recognized when they signed him last fall). Berkman is a good friend of Andy Pettitte’s
from their days in Houston so I am sure that played in Berkman’s decision to
join the Yanks after nixing previous deals like the one that would have sent
him to Anaheim as a replacement for Kendry Morales.
The 34-year-old Berkman has begun the downward
descent of his career, and is batting .245 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI’s. It is
the Yankees’ hope that the excitement of a pennant chase will energize
Berkman. The Yankees sent minor leaguers
Mark Melancon, a reliever, and Jimmy Paredes, an infielder, to Houston in the
deal. Melancon, 25, was once being groomed as an eventual
successor for Mariano Rivera, but he’s failed to achieve his potential.
The other new Yankee is former Reds, Nationals and
Indians outfielder Austin Kearns. Kearns
was in the Tribe’s lineup tonight and had a couple of hits until he was lifted
in the 7th for a pinch runner.
Kearns will move from a starting role to a part-time one with the Yanks,
and he’ll most likely start in left when Brett Gardner slides to center in
relief of Curtis Granderson against certain lefthanders. Kearns is batting .272 with 8 HR’s and 42 RBI’s.
Both players will probably be long gone by Spring
Training 2011, but for now, they have a chance to play a major role in the
Yankees’ drive for the play-offs.
The Yankees do not plan to be quiet before the end
of the trading deadline as they are rumored to be one of several teams involved
in discussions with the Chicago Cubs for pitcher Ted Lilly, a former Yank, and
according to a tweet by ESPN’s Buster Olney, they are working on a deal for a
back-up third baseman.
Regardless of what happens, the Rays are guaranteed
of seeing faces tomorrow that weren’t present at Tropicana Field tonight. I just hope that tomorrow doesn’t find Adam
Dunn in the opposing dugout.
At least the Boston Red Sox lost tonight…
Do you want to beat the New York Yankees?…
Just call up a pitcher to make his major league
debut and he is assured of getting his first major league victory against the
Yanks. Put Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett,
Cliff Lee, Zach Greinke and others on the mound, and the Yankees have a great
chance at winning. Put Cleveland’s Josh
Tomlin on the mound, and it’s lights out Yankees. I don’t get why the team has always struggled
so much against the unknown pitchers.
Surely, the Scouting Department has a portfolio on minor league
pitchers. For whatever reason, no info
is getting conveyed to the Yankee hitters.
The 25-year-old Tomlin simply pitched much better
than 13-game winner CC Sabathia, as the
Indians rolled over the Yankees, 4-1. He
went 7 innings and only gave up 3 hits and 1 earned run; he struck out 2. CC, on the other hand, gave up 9 hits in 7
innings, and allowed 4 runs abeit 2 earned.
He also walked 3 while striking out 5.
Alex Rodriguez put another goose egg on the scoreboard
(0-for-4) in his attempt to reach 600 home runs. He could have been a hero in the 9th
inning. A home run with two outs would
have tied the game, but unfortunately, he hit into a fielder’s choice to end
the game. Today was A-Rod’s 35th
birthday, but I am sure that the post-game celebration will be subdued.
It was a disappointing loss, which was definitely a
team effort. I guess the flight from New
York City to Cleveland was too much.
Hopefully, the players will come out on Tuesday ready to play.
A sore left knee scratched Jorge Posada from the
lineup tonight. I’d really like to see
Jorge take the necessary time to fully recover before he attempts to play
again. The Yankees don’t need to go into
September with a questionable Posada.
The Yankees lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL
East has dropped to just two games as the Rays defeated the Detroit Tigers
again tonight (following yesterday’s no-hitter by Matt Garza, the first in Rays
Jason Behnken/The Tampa Tribune
It doesn’t seem like the Yankees are getting
anywhere on trade rumors. Their latest
speculated target, Royals closer Joakim Soria, apparently has the Yankees on
his no-trade list. I am not expecting a
blockbuster deal, because there just aren’t any players of that magnitude
available. But the Yankees do need to
try and address the shortcomings of the team.
Right now, the bullpen is very leaky so that certainly deserves attention
as does a bat who can come off the bench to spell A-Rod.
This is off-topic, but I am sorry to hear the news
that former Oakland Raider Jack Tatum has passed away at age 61. Growing up, the “Assassin” was a force for
the Raiders. It is unfortunate that he
will always be remembered as the guy whose hit paralyzed the New England
Patriots’ Darryl Stingley. Sadly, both
Stingley (who died in 2007) and Tatum left us way too soon…
All hail the Captain…
After a few games of goose eggs, Derek Jeter busted through with a 3-for-4 night to tie Lou Gehrig’s franchise hit record. Both DJ and Larrupin’ Lou stand at 2,721 hits…
Congrats to DJ for a well-deserved achievement, and of course, all his future hits will be franchise records. This adds another reason to why the Yankees need to do what’s right, and lock up Jeter for the remainder of his career. We don’t need another Brett Favre in Minnesota saga…
Tonight’s 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays was a microcosm for what’s wrong with the 2009 Rays. Great starting pitching…awful bullpen. Rookie Jeff Niemann was masterful against the Yanks tonight. In 7 innings, he did give up 8 hits, but only allowed one earned run and had 8 strikeouts. Given that the East Coast games start while I am still at work, I was constantly checking the game score on my BlackBerry. Despite a significant advantage in hits, the Yankees couldn’t seem to push any runs across the plate.
I have a good friend that is a die-hard Rays fan. For many years, Kelly has held a single season ticket to games at Tropicana Field and she is generally there without fail. She was going to Rays games when you needed binoculars to see the person sitting next to you and parking was free. After the double-header sweep on Monday, Kelly sent me an email the next day that said “I would rather lose like we did yesterday to the Yankees than to play like we did last week. We were winning the games until the late 8th or even 9th inning and then the bullpen just gives the games away. Sunday we gave up a grand Slam in the 9th to lose the game. That is just brutal. No matter what the score is when the starting pitcher leaves the game, the fans can rest assured that the bullpen will screw it up.” Unfortunately (for her), the next two games proved to be the exact formula she was hoping to avoid.
It is an unfortunate situation because I was hoping that the Tampa Bay Rays would beat out the Boston Red Sox for the Wild Card spot (sorry Julia!). Most likely, the Rays would not have beaten Boston had they retained Scott Kazmir. However, that trade just seemed to draw the life out of the Rays. He couldn’t have helped their bullpen woes, but it seemed like Rays management were throwing in the towel.
Tonight’s game had another great finish. Trailing 2-0 in the 8th inning, and unable to get any runs across despite an advantage in hits, the Yankees started their patented late inning comeback. It was an inning early but why wait if you have the bats. Alex Rodriguez ended Jeff Niemann’s night with a single. Enter Lance Cormier. Hideki Matsui singled to advance A-Rod to third. Jerry Hairston, Jr. entered the game as a pinch runner for Godzilla. Nick Swisher reached first base on a throwing error, scoring A-Rod. Hairston advanced to third. Brian Shouse relieved Cormier. The stage was set for Robby Cano to be the hero, but he promptly struck out. Next up was Jorge Posada, who batted for Brett Gardner. The Rays brought Grant Balfour in the game to face Posada, but the move failed. Jorge launched a three-run homer to right, and the Yankees had their first lead of the game, 4-2.
Brian Bruney secured the first two out of the 9th inning, and I had some choice words for Joe Girardi when he brought Phil Coke in to relieve Bruney. But Joe, showing why he is the Yankees manager and not me, watched Coke strike out Gabe Kapler to end the game.
The Red Sox also won tonight, 7-5 over the Baltimore Orioles, to stay 2 games ahead of the Texas Rangers. Sorry Julia, but I was pulling for the O’s. They tried, but couldn’t quite do it…
However, the Yankees’ magic number is still reduced to 14. Ah, Sweet Lou, those were some great years…
The Yankees are now 40-13 since the All-Star Break. I remember sitting 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox, and I told Julia that the Yankees could win 4 more games than the Red Sox by the end of the year. She thought I was talking rubbish…
This night belonged to Derek Jeter, but I will close my post with a tribute to my idol. Lou, you have been and always will be the greatest Yankee (to borrow some words from Spock). Your records may be tied and broken, but you were a lasting inspiration and there’s no doubt that had you been able to play out your career to the fullest, you would have set marks that never would have been broken. But regardless of what may happen, you will always remain the true Pride of the Yankees…
Give the man a pie…
This game belonged to the Swish. With one swing of the bat, Nick Swisher launched his second home run of the night in the 9th inning to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2.
When the Yankees acquired Swisher in the off-season from the Chicago White Sox, I was cautiously optimistic. When he first arrived, Swish was slated to take over at first base for the departed Jason Giambi. But as we all know, the Yanks swooped in at the last minute to see free agent slugger Mark Teixeira. Swisher was then penciled in right with Xavier Nady, but a season-ending injury to the X-man opened right field for a solo starting gig. Admittedly, I was a bit cautious after Swisher’s less than successful 2008 campaign in the White Sox’ outfield. At the time, the price seemed high…Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez for Swisher and pitcher Kanekoa Texeira. But there is no one that would hesitate pulling the trigger on the trade today. The Yankees will long regret the decision to acquire Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte (at a cost of Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens, and Daniel McCutchen) but the Swisher trade was far more productive. Last year with the White Sox, Swisher hit .219 with 24 home runs and 69 RBI’s. This season, with 22 games to go, he stands at .254 with 26 home runs and 77 RBI’s. But, I will always say that the biggest thing that Swisher brought to the Yankees is his personality. He is exactly what they needed to shed the ‘Corporate America’ mentality in the Yankee Clubhouse.
The game featured a productive outing by Chad Gaudin, much to my disbelief. Gaudin went 6 innings, and gave up just one run while striking out 6. He walked 2 batters. Phil Hughes gave up a game tying home run in the 8th to Jason Bartlett, but the bullpen was otherwise superb. The great Mariano Rivera (2-2) was the winner.
Derek Jeter was 0-for-4, with three strikeouts. Ouch! He remains 3 hits behind Lou Gehrig for the franchise’s all-time career hits record.
The Yankees won their 90th game of the season, one more than last season, and are 40 games over .500. They retained their 9 game lead on the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 10-0, tonight. Yes, Julia, life is good…
And Julia, in case you were counting, the magic number is now 15…
The Yankees lost an integral piece to the bullpen when the decision was made to shut down reliever David Robertson. This has been a breakout year for Robertson, and he has been quietly effective…very effective. In 41 innings of work, Robertson has struck out 61 batters and has fashioned a 3.29 ERA in middle relief. He has felt elbow tightness for several weeks, and the discomfort progressed to the point that the Yankees decided to send Robertson to see Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham. Unfortunately, a trip to see Dr. Andrews is not usually a good thing. Hopefully, the best case scenario will play out for Robertson. Meanwhile, I hope someone else can step up to fill the void.
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
I realize that he plays for the enemy, but I will send out a special congratulations to David Ortiz for tying Frank Thomas for most home runs by a designated hitter (296). This season started slowly for Big Papi, and of course, there was the admission of performance enhancing drugs. But Ortiz has come back to prove that he is a player worthy of the respect of the RSN. Congrats!
Brett Favre makes his Minnesota Vikings debut this weekend against his former coach, Eric Mangini, and the Cleveland Browns. The game will also feature the Williams duo (Kevin and Pat) at defensive tackle as they have been cleared to play despite their ongoing case against the NFL over a 4-game suspension. It will be fun to watch Favre make his purple debut, but I am more excited to see Percy Harvin get his hands on the football. The offense should be the most fun that it has been watch since Daunte Culpepper was yelling at Randy Moss on the sidelines…
Okay, I feel better now…
The Yankees cured my “momentary depression” by sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays in a Labor Day Doubleheader. They took Game 1 behind CC Sabathia, 4-1. CC didn’t figure in the decision, but he certainly continued his post-All Star Break brilliance and a possible march toward the AL Cy Young. Personally, I hope it’s a march to the World Series but who am I?…
Courtesy Hunt Auctions
The game had been knotted at 1 for most of the game. A-Rod had put the Yanks up early, but the Rays tied it. It stayed that way until after CC departed. But given the Rays now had to face Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera, the stage was set for another late inning Yankees comeback. They weren’t denied. Robinson Cano broke the tie in the 8th inning with a sac fly. The Yankees scored a couple of more runs in the inning to close the book on the scoring, but after that, it was Mariano Rivera, a/k/a game over…
Despite the no-decision, CC went 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits and one run while striking out 10 Rays batters. He walked 4. This is why the Yanks paid so heavily in the off-season…
In the nightcap, an 8-run third inning ended any suspense or drama. After that, it was evident that the Yankees would record their 89th victory of the season, matching last season’s win total. It is very reassuring to know that the Yankees would have to go 0-23 to match last year’s record. Of course, Julia is probably saying “It could happen!”…
The nightcap saw a return to dominance by A.J. Burnett, who had struggled in recent weeks. In the 11-1 victory, A.J. went 6 innings and gave up 4 hits, 1 run, and 3 walks, with 8 K’s. I am impressed with Yankees reliever Mike Dunn, who was called up last week. I had heard comparisons to the Red Sox’ Daniel Bard, and I’d have to agree based on what I’ve seen so far. Control is an issue, but he’ll overcome that with work and maturity.
A few notes regarding the Doubleheader…
Derek Jeter failed to get a hit in either game, so he remains 3 hits behind Lou Gehrig for the Yankees’ all-time career hits record.
Rays first baseman Carlos Pena is out for the season after breaking his finger in two places, thanks to a 95-mph CC Sabathia pitch. It is a disappointing way to see the AL home run leader’s season come to an end, and I wish him the best for a successful offseason recovery and look forward to his return in 2010. Pena ends the season with 39 HR’s and 100 RBI’s. I hate to see injuries caused by Yankee pitching (the Toronto Blue Jays’ Randy Ruiz was hit in the face by Josh Towers on Sunday). I do not feel that either pitch was intentional, but it is definitely the unfortunate part of the game. No one wants to see anyone get hurt. I have always heard that actor John Travolta is one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, but the same can be said about Carlos Pena in Tampa (or anywhere for that matter).
The doubleheader sweep gives the Yankees their largest lead of the season, 9 games over the Boston Red Sox. The magic number stands at 16. Julia, I’m sorry, but I think I hear the fat lady singing…
Courtesy David Otto
For the remaining two games against the Rays, the Yankees will pitch Chad Gaudin on Tuesday and Joba Chamberlain on Wednesday. The Rays will counter with David Price and Jeff Niemann, respectively.
Courtesy Yankees Magazine
After a year lay-off, I am looking forward to watching October baseball again…
P.S. I am glad that the Minnesota Vikings were able to retain QB John David Booty on the practice squad after he cleared waivers. Of course, any team is free to sign him, so hopefully, the Vikings will clear space on the 53 man roster to restore what Booty lost when the Vikings signed ancient Brett Favre. Booty will be throwing touchdowns while Favre is searching for retirement homes, so hopefully, Booty’s greatest Viking days are yet to come…
Brian Bahr/Getty Images North America