Thirteen excruciating innings later, Cano puts away the Royals

Romine, Betances power Charleston to a win
From A-Rod to K-Rod

The Kansas City Royals are no one’s definition of a good baseball team. They’re 55-68 and in last place, 14.5 games behind the AL Central-leading duo of Minnesota and Chicago. When the Royals come to the Bronx, then, the Yanks should be able to put them away.

On Saturday, the Yanks put them away, but they do so excruciatingly. It took 13 innings and a whole lotta futility before the Yanks won a game they needed to win to keep their slim October hopes alive. With Roy Halladay spoiling Paul Byrd’s Boston debut, the Yanks creeped to within six of the Wild Card-leading Red Sox.

For the Yanks, this had all the trappings of One of Those Days. Sidney Ponson gutted it out, again, through 6.1 innings. He held the Royals to two runs and allowed a respectable nine baserunners. But when he left, the Yanks were facing a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 deficit.

In the bottom of the seventh, things started going their way. A-Rod, much maligned recently for his struggles with runners on base, reached on an error. While Jason Giambi walked, Xavier Nady hit into a double play. Cano then blasted an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch. One hit, two runs, none of them earned. At this point in the season, I’ll take anything.

As the game dragged on past the eighth, ninth, tenth, the Yanks’ offensive woes mounted, but the pitching held up. In relief of Ponson, the Yanks’ bullpen threw 6.2 innings, allowing just one hit and three walks. Meanwhile, the Yanks hit into four double plays and left 13 runners on base against a last place team.

Finally, in the bottom of the 13th, Robinson Cano, a hero six innings earlier, started off the game-ending rally. With one out, Cano singled and advanced to second on an Ivan Rodriguez out. Brett Gardner, in for an exiled Melky Cabrera, singled to left — his third hit of the day and second walk-off of the season — and Cano scored.

It wasn’t pretty; it took too long; but it got the job done. With help on the way — Joba says he’s feeling good, Hideki’s rehabbing, Phil Hughes tosses for AAA and a potential MLB start later today — the Yanks may just have enough in them yet. That is, after all, why they play the games.

Romine, Betances power Charleston to a win
From A-Rod to K-Rod
  • steve

    the final paragraph pumped me up! i have come very close this week on giving up this season but its not over yet.

    joba hughes and matsui to the rescue. come on boys.

    • Manimal

      everyone thought IPK was coming to the rescue. Don’t have such high hopes.

      • Ben K.

        Yeah. That’s good advice. Live your life with no hopes and just walk around depressed all the time. This sound reasoning brought to you by Manimal. Excuse us for trying to enjoy the games and actually looking forward to seeing some of the players returning to action.

        • Manimal

          Have reasonable expectations. Yankees are a couple good stretches away from the playoffs and you can’t depend on Hughes and Matsui to carry this team. 1-9 needs to contribute and their hasn’t been any of that in the past week. The skill and talent is there they just need to get their act together. This has absolutely nothing to do with life Ben.

          • JT

            I agree with Manimal… We need to temper our expectations of this team, unless we want to cut six years off our lives with all the up and down emotions they put us through. It’s hard to realistically expect a playoff spot from this team given how hey are playing, but anything can happen. circa mets ’07. Also see 18-1

      • Manimal

        If it was my choice, Joba wouldn’t touch a ball until next month. Same thing with Wang. Salvaging whats left of 08 isnt worth preparing for a monster 09.

        • Ben K.

          I’m sort of with you on Joba, but I have to believe that the Yanks aren’t going to do anything that damages Joba’s long-term health right now.

          Wang isn’t planning on coming back this year though. So don’t worry about that one.

          • Manimal

            Some people still say September but I doubt it. Bruney hasn’t come back quite the same, I doubt wang is either.

          • Old Ranger

            If (and I say IF) they were to come back this year, I would worry about them altering their delivery and pulling a Dizzy Dean on us. That would not be to good, lose our two best pitchers…ouch! 27/09?

          • Chris

            If he’s healthy (which it seems like he is), then Joba needs to pitch this year, otherwise you’re inthe same inning predicament next year and he’ll need to spend some time in the pen to keep his innings down.

        • Steve

          I disagree. From everything I was able to gather on “Rotator cuff tendinitis” after they get it to calm down with anti inflammatory drugs, further rest holds no benefit. The biggest warning sign as to the severity of the injury would be pain of some kind, which Joba said he never had. It sounds fairly minor, and Joba himself said that repeatedly.

          Girardi may have saved him from further injury by running out there so fast, because if he tried to pitch through it he could have done more serious damage. But by all accounts it sounds minor, its something almost all pitchers have at one time or another and

          I have no doubt the Yanks will be extra cautious with him, but blowing off the season is over reacting. Don’t forget, they wanted him to get a certain number of innings under his belt this year. If he doesn’t, he’ll be on an innings limit next year as well.

      • Steve

        The much maligned Mr Kennedy has taken the Yanks advice to heart and is working his tail off to get back in the rotation.

        Check this out from Chad Jennings blog-

        “I really thought Chris Stewart was exaggerating to make a point. I knew Ian Kennedy (left) was down here to work on his secondary pitches, and I could tell he was throwing a lot of breaking balls, but still…

        “He really wanted to make sure he worked on the curveball,” Stewart said. “Especially when he was behind in counts, get a strike over and get back into the at-bat. Someone said he threw 30 something, and that’s probably 10 times as many as he’s used to throwing, but a lot of them were strikes and he was able to get back into counts like he wanted to. It was effective.”

        The actual count from pitching coach Rafael Chaves was 28 curveballs, but that’s still a lot of breaking balls from a guy who usually leans heavily on his four-seam and his changeup. And like Stewart said, the curveball was a very good pitch for Kennedy tonight.

        “I told Chavy, I said, here’s what I want to do: My two-seamer and my curveball, I want to throw them as much as I can,” Kennedy said. “If I threw a two-seamer at 0-0 and I got a ball, I threw it again or I threw a curveball. Next time around I might do something totally different because I think I did overkill on some of that stuff. We only have a short amount of time until the season ends, and I’m trying to make sure every start counts so I can improve as fast as I can.”

        Melky, on the other hand, has yet to report to AAA. There’s only 2 weeks left in their season, but I guess he’s busy smirking somewhere and wants to take full advantage of the 3 days he has to report. That in a nutshell, is my guess as to why he’s played so badly this season. Attitude.

        • Andy in Sunny Daytona

          I’m pretty sure Gardner took the full 3 days also. Most players do.

          • Steve

            There wasn’t 2 weeks left in the season when he was sent down.

            • Andy in Sunny Daytona

              What difference does it make how many weeks are left? This is NOT a big deal.

  • Manimal

    anyone else watching ESPN? So many web gems, its crazy.

  • Brett

    When yesterday is what it takes to beat KC, you can’t realistically be thinking about the playoffs. Like you guys said yesterday, I’m just going to enjoy these games and get ready for next year. Matsui cannot save this offense alone. These guys are horrendous.

    • Steve

      It really shouldn’t take 13 inning to beat KC. It just goes to show that they’re still playing badly despite yesterday’s win.

  • Bart

    It’s hard not to get angry at stupid lineups, and botched deals; ground balls dribbling between 2B and 1B; lost ABs; but every game offers the hope that it will be well played and our intense cheering will “produce” a timely hit, or even a timely fly ball.

    I think it is right to worry about rushing Joba – the competitor wants to get back in the game — the Front Office needs to be wise.

    It is uncertain that Wang will recover to be what he was. Pettit and Mussina may be effective another year but they will be coslty and it is unlikley they will have much in 2010; perhaps there won’t be room for them. Joba, Huges and another of the minor leaguers ar crtiical.

    To win in 2009 Sabbathia is more of a need than Santana was for 2008 — his virtue is as a free agent he won’t cost as much in trades but the $s and long contract will be there.

    If IPK and Melky were too rich for Santana what can we expect of the brain trust this off-season. The grand plan may be to win the way Minnesota does — truly home grown.

    I have no problem with that — we will learn not to expect another dynasty — we will have seasons like Don Mattingly had and then we will have a run where it will all be worth it. But if that is the plan they need to protect the Jobas and develop the Melkys– or their replacements. Rember Spike Owen at SS.

    Heck we won’t even need Sabbathia and Teixeira if the farm can produce.

    Play Today Win Today. Grind it out — but ya can’t help the down notes — where is the O’Neil refuse to lose among this 1-9?

    Still, yesterday was the start of a potentially awesome winning streak – can keep it going with a win today. One at a time.

    • Steve

      I will agree with you about the lineup. Nady should be hitting #3 and Abreu #5. Nady has a .945 OPS wheras Abreu has a .820. Also, Bobby has alkways struck out a LOT more than most people realize for a guy with a reputation as a “good contact hitter” and he his walk rate has been declining for the past two years. Abreu is more of a #5 hitter at this point, plus he leads the team in RBIs. So he’s one of the few Yanks who is actually hitting in the clutch.

      Giambi and his .214 RISP should be moved down to #6 or lower. Although I-Rod and Cano aren’t all that much better in clutch situations.

  • Steve

    Kim Jones gets my vote for best Yankee beat reporter after yesterday’s post game.

    She asked Girardi “Are you happy?” after the win, since Joe didn’t go on the field (as he usually does) when the team was congratulating each other after the walk off.

    She asked Cano “Do any of you guys care that you’re hitting with RISP this year has been just . . . .horrible?”

    Read between the lines on those questions. The words “happy” and “care” jump out at me. Something is going on in that clubhouse. I’ll bet there are a TON of changes next year, more than most of us expect and not just the FAs.