On the heels of a victory stolen, the Yanks fired back against the always vulnerable Texas Rangers, beating up on Mike Wood en route to a 8-2 win. It was a great game to watch — we got solid starting pitching and some life out of the bats. Combining those will lead to wins nine times out of 10, making me a bit more optimistic about the rest of the season. Unfortunately, we have precious few games left against the Rangers.
Before I jump into the main points of the game, let it be said that the scorers screwed Matsui. Third inning, runners on first and second, two out, Matsui up with the score tied at one. After being issued two balls, he laid into one and drove it to right-center. Jerry Hairston (who, in addition to being named in the most recent HGH scandal, cannot play center field) raced over to make a play, but wasn’t able to get there in time. Instead of giving Matsui a triple, they scored it an error on Hairston. I really don’t know what the scorers were thinking. The play was basically right in front of me, and I just assumed it was a triple. The box score says differently. I think they’re wrong. Am I?
Finally, Dougie-do-nothing is doing something! He continued his hot streak — obviously caused by this image — knocking two singles and driving in Jorge with a sac fly. He’s hurdled the Mendoza line (though, to be fair, he did that Monday with his two doubles), and maybe, just maybe he can reach the levels at which he hit last year. However, since he’s done so well while we’ve been bashing him, my official statement is, “Doug, you suck. You have no place on this team. Go back to the Red Sox.”
If Dougie ceases being an automatic out, the possibilities open up. Instead of carrying two first baseman and a DH who, if he was to play the field, can only play first base, why don’t we make one of those our backup catcher and backup first baseman. Come on: I know most of you thought of that at least once. It makes complete sense. Think of the drop-off the Yanks have when Nieves catches. You go from having a .350 hitter with power in the lineup to having a .000 hitter who tries to pull pitches that are six inches off the outside edge. At least with Phelps you have a .260 hitter (figure that’s where his mean will be) with power. Yeah, he’s no defensive gem, but it’s not like Nieves is Pudge back there. That opens up another outfield spot, allowing Joe more flexibility to give Damon and Abreu a few days off.
Of course, the key to the past week has been the improved starting pitching. Pettitte kept it going, pitching seven innings of one-run ball. He ran into trouble a couple of times, but it didn’t end up mattering. Hell, he put Hank Blalock on three times and didn’t allow him to score. These are the outings we need from Pettitte, especially on days after a loss (which has always been his forte).
Scotty Proctor got some work in before his suspension goes into effect, obviously a good move. If he ends up serving it in the next two days, I might have considered pitching him the eighth and the ninth, but I’m not going to bash Torre over that. I am, however, going to question the use of Henn — and the warming up of Bruney — in the ninth. I guess Luis Vizcaino is in the dog house, because that situation had his name written all over it. With a 7-run lead and facing the bottom of the order, don’t you want to give your worst reliever some work? You know, instead of using Henn, who could be valuable tomorrow. There’s no way Mussina goes more than six innings, and if he goes five, the Yanks are going to need some bullpen work. Henn is a guy who can give you two innings in the bridge to Mariano. I certainly hope this doesn’t mean that Viz is in tonight’s plans, especially in a tighter game; we all saw what he did last time against the Rangers.
Finally, I need some help with a little experiment. We know Bobby Abreu is mired in an enormous slump, which has caused many fans to turn on him. At this point, he’s gone beyond the point of most players’ slumps. This leads me to believe that there’s something else going on. I focused exclusively on Bobby’s front leg last night during his final at bat, and saw something peculiar. Before the first pitch, he bobbed his leg in rhythm, and took am emphatic step when the pitch is delivered. On the next pitch, his leg was almost to the point of being jittery, rather than being a timing mechanism. He still took his step, and it was pretty normal looking. On the next pitch, his leg’s rhythm was basically non-existent. It didn’t even look like he took a step on a pitch he took for a ball. Next pitch, same non-rhythm, same lack of a step as he struck out.
Has anyone else noticed this? Better yet, does anyone have MLB.tv and want to go back and look at some of his at bats? If you watch Alex, he keeps his pre-pitch bat movement in a steady rhythm. Same with Matsui. But it looks like Bobby loses focus as his at bat wears on. This makes sense when you look back at his single, which was on the fourth pitch of the at bat and was kind of a slap, rather than a drive. Maybe we should be getting him tested for ADD?
Mike Mussina vs. Robinson Tejada tonight. Let’s hope Moose can go six this time. By the way, if you haven’t yet, check out Mike ripping Bill Simmons. WARNING: If you’re a Sox fan, don’t read it; you’ll likely get your panties in a bunch. Or worse, sand in your vagina.