The day brought several victories on the homefront…
Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP
The Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox, 3-0, on Saturday behind the stellar pitching of CC Sabathia. The game featured the potent formula that the Yankees hope will take them deep into October.
CC Sabathia + Phil Hughes + Mariano Rivera = Win, Hold, and Save!
CC was locked into a pitchers’ duel with Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Dice-K pitched masterfully on the day. His only mistake was a pitch left out over the plate with Robinson Cano batting to lead off the 6th inning. Cano took advantage of the opportunity, and gave the Yanks a 1-0 lead with his career high 24th home run of the season. It would be the only run that CC needed.
Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP
It would have been the final score except for an error in the 8th inning by Red Sox third baseman Chris Woodward. The Sox had speedster Brett Gardner caught in a rundown between third and home, but Woodward couldn’t handle a throw from catcher Victor Martinez.
Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP
The play extended the inning and allowed Johnny Damon to bat after Derek Jeter struck out with the bases loaded. Damon delivered a two-run single to raise the score to 3-0.
Credit: Henny Ray Abrams/AP
I realize that Red Sox manager Terry Francona is playing for October, as evidenced by his starting lineup (possible future Yankees left fielder Jason Bay had the day off). Nevertheless, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is clearly playing for the AL East Championship. I am sure that once the Yanks clinch the division, we’ll see a lineup that includes Shelley Duncan, Juan Miranda, and Ramiro Pena, with Josh Towers on the mound. For now, the Magic Number is 1 and the Yankees have a game to win.
Their next victory will be the 100th of the season. Joe Girardi’s second season has been very successful, so far. CC has played a huge role (no pun intended) in the team’s success. I know Zack Greinke is being highly touted for the AL Cy Young Award, but the Kansas City Royals reside in the cellar of the AL Central. Without Greinke, they’d still be among the AL’s worst teams. Felix Hernandez has also pitched great this season, but the Mariners season will be coming to an end in about a week. CC Sabathia, on the other hand, has the Yankees at the doorstep of the AL East Championship. Without CC, it’s likely the AL East pennant chase would have been much closer or perhaps Boston would have been in the lead. So, in my mind, CC has made a much greater difference on his team’s success than Greinke or King Felix. Admittedly, the Cy Young is for individual accomplishment, but CC leads the AL with 19 wins and is fourth in ERA (3.21). He hasn’t lost a game since late July and he has been the true definition of an ace for the Yankees. I know that Greinke has an ERA of 2.08, with 229 strikeouts, but seriously, there’s more pressure pitching in the Bronx against the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays than facing the Chicago White Sox in Kansas City.
Credit: Bill Kostroun/AP
By taking the first two games of the latest series, the Yankees accomplished several objectives besides cutting the Magic Number to 1. First, I am the winner of the latest wager with Julia of Julia’s Rants. As her penalty for losing, Julia will once again grace us with a pro-Yankees blog entry. She’ll post a list of Top 11 Yankees players, past or present (and can include managers). The list will be in no certain order or ranking; she can simply choose 11 Yankees she feels have made a difference in the game. I would like to see a mix of different eras, including the present, but it will be up to Julia to decide. She will also be forced to wear a Yankees t-shirt in photographs near famous Boston landmarks. The pink Yankees hat is optional.
I had a tough time trying to decide what t-shirt Julia should wear. My initial thought was to go with the player I felt was most instrumental in the series win. Despite CC’s great performance yesterday, the table was set on Friday night with the hitting (and stealing) show put on by Alex Rodriguez. However, A-Rod has certain past indiscretions that made him an illogical choice. I thought about Robinson Cano or CC, but I really wanted someone that represented the Yankees like no other. With that in mind, the choice became clear. “I’m Not A Headline Guy” is a tribute to Lou Gehrig so it is only right that Julia must wear a #4 jersey…
The second benefit of the Yankees victory is they have denied the Red Sox the opportunity to break champagne on Yankee Stadium soil. If they had clinched the Wild Card slot while in the Bronx, they would have become the first team to break bubbly at the new stadium. However, with two Sox losses and a win by the Texas Rangers yesterday, Boston’s Magic Number stands at 3, making it impossible to clinch on Sunday. As a result, the Yankees are the only team with the chance to spill some champagne today so life is good…
Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe wrote “Today might be a good day to employ the half-full theory. Cover your eyes, let the Yankees celebrate, and think about October”.
Credit: Henny Ray Abrams/AP
Yes, today is our day to celebrate. It is time for the Yankees to put closure on the AL East Championship! Tomorrow, we can join the RSN in thinking about October!
By the way, nice play by Boston’s Victor Martinez.
Credit: Henny Ray Abrams/AP
It’s the changing of the guard in Boston, as Jason Varitek makes his way to the exit door. Tek has been a worthy opponent, and I am sure that we’ve not seen the last of #37 who is a future manager waiting to happen…
Credit: Simmons/Daily News
P.S. Congratulations to the University of Iowa Hawkeyes for their 21-10 victory over the fifth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday night. The Hawkeyes upset Penn State last year, so the Nittany Lions were seeking revenge. It was not meant to be as the unranked Hawks moved to 4-0 on the season. As a lifetime Hawkeyes fan, success has been very fleeting so it’s always a great time when they can play with the big boys. J
Credit: Matthew Holst/Press Citizen
P.S.S. Good luck to A.J. Burnett’s father, who undergoes surgery on Monday. Bill Burnett will have triple-bypass surgery. A.J.’s start was pushed back to Tuesday so that he could make the trip to Arkansas to be with his dad. Best wishes for a successful surgery, followed by a speedy recovery!
An unexpected sweep…
The Yankees rallied to defeat the Boston Red Sox, 5-2, on Sunday. With the win, the Yankees completed a four game sweep of the Red Sox, and increased their lead in the AL East to 6 ½ games over Boston.
The Baltimore Sun
Prior to the start of the weekend series, I had hoped that the Yanks would win enough games so that they’d finished the series on Sunday in first place. However, I never imagined that the lead would balloon to 6 ½.
The game had been another scoreless affair through the early innings. Jon Lester continued his dominance over the Yankees, with 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, and 7 strikeouts. He did not have any walks. Of the Boston pitchers, Lester is the one that I have the most respect for, and he did a masterful job.
The Yankees struck first with a solo home run by Alex Rodriguez in the 7th inning.
However, the Red Sox quickly struck back with a two-run homer by Victor Martinez off Phil Coke in the top of the 8th, which ended the team’s 30 inning scoring drought.
Coke had relieved Andy Pettitte, who, like Lester, pitched a terrific game. Pettitte also went 7 innings, with 5 hits, no runs, 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Unfortunately, it was a no-decision for Pettitte’s effort, as Coke lost the lead but earned the victory with the Yankees’ 8th inning comeback.
The first batters went down quickly so it appeared that the Yanks would head to the 9th down by 1. However, Johnny Damon came to the plate and tied the game with a homer. He was followed by Mark Teixeira, who connected for a homer to put the Yanks up by 1. After a couple of more runs scored courtesy of a single by Nick Swisher, the Yankees had turned a 2-1 deficit to a 5-2 lead.
Mariano Rivera entered the game in the 9th, and looked a bit rusty. With a hit and a walk, he allowed the tying run to come to the plate. However, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a grounder that Mark Teixeira was able to field and step on first before Ellsbury could get there. So, although the 9th inning was tense, the Yankees emerged with the victory and the series sweep.
William Perlman/The Star Ledger
Congratulations to the Yankees for a job well done!
Meanwhile, my friend, Julia (of Julia’s Rants) has completed ½ of her wager loss with a tremendous Top 11 (eleven positive, memorable things about the Yankees). For the other half of the waiver, she has to take a photo of her SUV in three high profile, easily recognizable spots. One catch, the SUV has to be flying a Yankees flag. That’s easier said than done, at least in Boston. Good luck, Julia! The flag is in the mail! Julia, by the way, has been a great sport. It’s tough to be positive about the other team when your team loses to them (trust me, I have great experience!), but she’s held her head high and paid her debt while maintaining the pride and respect of the RSN. I realize that this is just a single victory…well, okay, four of them! 😉 The Yankees and Red Sox will go at it again beginning August 21st at Fenway Park, and you can be assured that the Red Sox will be seeking revenge, as will a certain woman from Boston…
See you again on August 21st, my friend! The game is still on! 🙂
Pitcher Chad Gaudin joined the Yankees today, and as expected, pitcher Josh Towers was DFA’d without throwing a pitch for the Yanks (he had just been called up from AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre for insurance after the long 15 inning ordeal on Friday night). Gaudin will pitch out of the bullpen, and was told by manager Joe Girardi that he could come in to face a batter or two, or he could be asked to pitch an entire game. I think he is just on Sergio Mitre start away from getting a shot in the rotation…
Here are the final totals for the Red Sox-Yankees series:
Red Sox 8
Red Sox 3
Red Sox 0
It was a very enjoyable weekend!
A disappointing trade deadline day…
Leading up to the trade deadline, I felt that the Yankees needed to do something to plug the hole in the rotation. As great as it was to think about Roy Halladay in pinstripes, I was realistic in my thinking that Jarrod Washburn would have been a good fit.
Yankee interest in Washburn has been rumored for several years so it seemed liked he was destined for the Bronx. Apparently, the Seattle Mariners desired center field prospect Austin Jackson in return and it was a deal-killer. I agree with the decision, as I would have not given up Ajax either, but it was tough to see Washburn go to the Detroit Tigers for a couple of minor league pitchers that I’ve never heard of.
I know that GM Brian Cashman feels that there will be quality pitchers who slip through waivers in August because teams will be fearful of incurring additional salaries. But it’s not like Roy Halladay will clear waivers. The quality of the available talent will be limited, and a good fit for the Yankees will be even narrower.
Of course, on Deadline Day, the Yankees #5 starter, Sergio Mitre, gets pummeled in Chicago and lasts only three innings in a 10-5 loss to the White Sox. This only added salt to the wound of the day’s earlier inactivity. Meanwhile, the Boston Red Sox were very active and acquired the Cleveland Indians’ Victor Martinez. Martinez, a good friend of CC Sabathia, was a solid pickup for Boston. I didn’t fully understand the trade of recently acquired Adam LaRoche to Atlanta for first baseman Casey Kotchman. It was mentioned that LaRoche was no longer a fit with the addition of Martinez, but I do not know what Kotchman brings that LaRoche didn’t other than an additional year on his contract. I guess GM Theo Epstein decided that if he couldn’t have Mark Teixeira, he’d take the guy who was once trade for Tex. Seriously, I wonder if the Kotchman trade is a precursor to another deal this month. Knowing Theo, there is a method to the madness and of course that concerns me…
The Yankees have now dropped two straight games to the White Sox, which has allowed the Boston Red Sox to close the gap to 1 ½ games in the AL East.
The Yankees did pick up one player yesterday, when they found a centerfield solution in Jerry Hairston, Jr.
Kirby Lee/US Presswire
To acquire Hairston from the Cincinnati Reds, the Yanks gave up minor league catching prospect Chase Weems. Hairston will take the super utility role that is currently occupied by Cody Ransom upon Brett Gardner’s return from the DL. Hairston has joined the Yankees in Chicago, and is starting in left field. It is ironic that his first game will be against his father’s long-time team.
I saw a quote where Brian Cashman mentioned that Hairston is a better version of Clay Bellinger. Somehow it’s hard to get enthused about that, but I will admit that Bellinger did play in a World Series so perhaps there’s a silver lining to the Hairston pickup…
Hopefully, the Yankees will get back on track today. A.J. Burnett will be on the hill and he has proven to be the cure for stopping Yankee losing streaks so far this season.
As for the Yankees #5 rotation spot, the sooner the Yankees replace Mitre, the better. Unfortunately, the only in-house possibility appears to be…yikes!…Kei Igawa. So, I trust that Brian Cashman knows what he is doing, and he’ll find a solution sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, the fate of the AL East hangs in the balance. No worries…
Poor Shelley Duncan. He has had a very good season for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees. He had started to wonder if he’d ever return to the big leagues, and was very excited when the Yanks finally called yesterday. Today, he was tapped on the shoulder and told to head back to Scranton-Wilkes Barre to make room for Hairston. I feel bad for Shelley as he has definitely deserved an opportunity. Hopefully, he will find his way back soon.
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Well, it is almost time for Julia and I to resume our battle when the Yankees and Red Sox resume their rivalry on Thursday for a four-game set. We are still working out the terms of latest wager and are open to any suggestions. But I feel that the Yankees are much improved and will be ready to end the eight game skid against the Red Sox. I may be down, but I am definitely not out. The rotation has lined up for Joba Chamberlain, A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte in the Boston series. Hey Julia, Game On!
Great autograph of Shelley Duncan! 🙂