Yanks leave Baltimore with a sweep

Aceves shuts down a power packed lineup
Mark Melancon gets it

Rare are the series this season when the Yankees sweep a three-game set. But if ever there were to be a time for the Yanks to pick up the pace, this week would be it.

While New York is reeling from the news about Osi Umenyiora, the Yankees are trying to make a last-gasp run at the playoffs, and to accomplish this dream, they’ll have to sweep the Red Sox this week. Momentum is on their side.

Sunday’s game did not start out well for the Yankees. Darrell Rasner, a starter by default, was terrible. He allowed ten baserunners and five runs — three earned — in just 3.1 innings of work. While the Yanks spotted Rasner to a 7-3 lead, he and the bullpen could not hold the Orioles, and at this point, no one really knows who will next start for the Yankees when they need a fifth starter.

Meanwhile, the Yanks’ bullpen came through late with a few huge innings. While David Robertson and Edwar Ramirez coughed up a two-run lead, Jose Veras, Damaso Marte and Mariano Rivera held the Orioles over the final three innings. Marte finally showed Yankee fans what he could do, and Mariano picked up a four-out save — his 31st of the season — to give the Yankees a much-needed victory.

Offensively, Sunday belonged to Robinson Cano. While he’s still trying to overcome a terrible start, Cano knocked out four hits on Sunday including the game-winning home run in the seventh inning. He drove in two, scored two and pushed his average up to .269. The Yanks really need to Cano to get hot over their last 30 games, and Sunday proved to be a good start.

Meanwhile, while Jason Giambi had yet another 0-fer and left seven runners on base, A-Rod and Bobby Abreu went a combined 5 for 7. Xavier Nady drove in two runs; Johnny Damon drove in three. And while Boston won, the Yanks kept the pressure on the Wild Card teams.

They may be down, but they’re not out. And with Boston on the way this week, the Yanks’ fate rests squarely in their hands. A sweep would keep them alive; anything would be a big blow. Here come some key August games. What could be better?

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Aceves shuts down a power packed lineup
Mark Melancon gets it
  • steve

    ughhh. u realize there is a yawkey way store.om ad right now. there shouldn’t be red sox ads on a yankee blog !

    can u guys do anything about that ?!@!@

    • http://www.workwithpete.com Pete

      Well, FWIW, if you’re using FireFox there *are* plugins that block ads.

      Just sayin’… ;-)

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        Pete, it was nice knowing you. I fully expect you to be assassinated by the FCC, FTC, Secretary of Commerce, WGA, SAG, AMPAS, NATAS, Producers Guild, Teamsters, Cisco, Akamai, Google, Bill Gates, and Al Gore by the morning.

  • BigBlueAL

    Sucks Boston pulled it out in extra innings today. A sweep would indeed be HUGE, but at the least 2 out of 3 minimum (considering they face Wakefield and Byrd first couple of games they better win at least 2 out of 3). Problem is this weekend they face Burnett and Halladay again….

  • Jake K.

    Being in first place would be better.

  • DP

    I have to respectfully disagree that the Yankees NEED to sweep here. Expecting a sweep against the 2nd best pythag. team in baseball isn’t just unrealistic- you are setting yourself up for a letdown. The way I see it–the Yankees need to finish the year with 94 wins. Same as last year. 92 has been around the average for the Wild Card and that would be the Sox going 19-13 and the Twins/White Sox loser about the same. If they win 94 and don’t make it, I mean what can you do? So the Yankees would need to go 24-8, .750 win %, 121.5 win pace. Here’s how they do that (semi-not really-realistically): 2/3 vs. Red Sox, 2/3 vs. Blue Jays, win the makeup @ Tigers, 2/3 @ Rays, sweep 3 @ Mariners, 2/3 @ Angels (an 8-2 road trip with 2 division leaders yikes), 2/3 vs. Rays, 3/4 vs. White Sox, sweep 3 vs. Orioles, 2/3 @ Blue Jays, 2/3 @ Red Sox. Sooo..incredibly difficult? Yes. Possible? Yes. I know everyone is depressed about how they’ve been playing and whatever, but last year after 130 games they were 71-59, 1 game better…

    • Steve

      I agree, 2 of 3 will be fine and then you look to p/u a game or two here and there over the course of September.

      The Yanks finish the season playing the Red Sox at Fenway. If you’re 2 down going into that series you HAVE to sweep. Not before. Personally I’m hoping the Yanks are 1 down going into that series, they take 2 of 3 and then play a play-in game at the stadium. Just like 78. I think the ghosts will have something to say in that one.

      • AndrewYF

        If the Yankees win 2 out of 3 in this series, and win 2 out of 3 in the last series, and end up tied with Boston, there wouldn’t need to be a playin game since the Yankees would have won the season series by two games.

        • steve (different one)

          there would still be a play in game.

          only time there isn’t a play in game would be if both of the tied teams also held playoff spots. since they’d both be tied for the final playoff spot, there would be a play in game.

          correct me if i am wrong, but i am pretty sure this is how it works.

          • Count Zero

            Correct – this isn’t the NFL. :-)

      • Count Zero

        If we go 2 out of 3 and the Twins and White Sox go 2 out of 3 (Twins vs. Seattle; WS vs. Baltimore), we are 4GB of TWO teams with 29 to play. Worse yet — it’s quite possible for both the Twins and WS to sweep those series.

        Catching the Red Sox is not enough to get into the playoffs this year — we need to overtake both the Red Sox and one of either the White Sox or the Twins.

        The Yanks finish the season playing the Red Sox at Fenway. If you’re 2 down going into that series you HAVE to sweep. Not before.

        Except that if you are also 2 down to the 2nd place team in the Central, and they win 2 out of 3 in their final series, your season-ending sweep of the Sox means nothing. (Well except that you knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs as well which is at least somewhat satisfying.) Twins final series is against KC – ’nuff said. Chicago finishes against Cleveland.

        We need a sweep now. No, it’s not over if we win 2 out of 3, but it’s getting very late for making up a game here and a game there on TWO teams. Unless you have a crystal ball that tells you the White Sox are about to crash and burn in a big way. Granted we have 4 left at the Stadium against them, but it’s always tough to sweep 4.

  • DP

    Also, some positive thoughts, last 8 days OPS:

    Damon .750
    Jeter .827
    Abreu 1.109
    A-Rod 1.125
    Giambi .684
    Nady .987
    Matsui .780
    Cano .987
    Molina .769/Pudge .481 (ouch)

    A lineup like that produces somewhere around 6.3 runs per game (they’ve gotten 6.6). I know the Yankees have a propensity to win 12-4 one day and lose 6-1 the next, but you’d have to think averages and whatnot will eventually even out. Basically with this lineup, if the pitchers had 4.2 ERA they’d win 75%. The lineup won’t keep this up (though it could–Abreu and A-Rods drops could be Giambi/Matsui/Damon/catchers gains). I say with this lineup we are good to go offensively the rest of the way and hope the pitchers can put up like a 3.80 ERA the rest of the way. We face the Lowell/Drew-less Red Sox, the no bats in the infield Jays, the given up Tigers, Longoria/Crawford-less Rays, the Mariners (no need for a nickname there), Angels (offense is overrated just because the D/pitching is so good–18th in runs), White Sox (OK good offense) and Orioles. It’s possible–I’m telling you. I am going to bed…too much research at 4 am to back up my optimism.

    Just gotta win 4 out of 6 this week. It’s easy to slip against these 2 teams despite having the advantage on paper. Which we do in my opinion. Wakefield sucks vs. Yankees in his career, Byrd is a joke, Lester is coming off a terrible outing and is not as good as he’s pitched, Parrish? and at some point Burnett’s bad season has to warrant one freaking bad start against us. Will it happen? Who knows, its been a trying season. But it should. Have faith

    • Steve

      As much as I’d like to credit Matsui’s return for the lineup awakening, it actually coincided with Jeter getting healthy (hand) and Cano getting healthy (thumb) and both getting hot. Damon, Nady, Abreu have been doing their part all year long, so with those three contributing all of a sudden the lineup has almost doubled and its very productive.

      A-Rod getting hot could be huge, and could carry us to the playoffs with everyone hitting around him. I give up on Giambi. Whatever we get out of him is gravy, I just wish Girardi would pull him out of the 5 hole, but that doesn’t look like its going to happen anytime soon.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Jeez, Giambi’s the damn turd in the punchbowl, huh…

  • Batty

    It’s funny – when Rasner goes 5 or 6 innings and gives up a run people don’t praise him nearly as much as when they vilify him for having a stinker. He’s the 5th starter and has kept us in more games than not – he’d have a lot more wins if the Yanks could have scored at least a run.

    Who would you trust more – Rasner or Ponson?

    • Batty

      Yes, obviously I’d love 5 Jobas in our pitching rotation. While Wright might be ready for a callup would you start playing with the rotation at this point when they’ve finally started winning some games?

    • Steve

      I think the question is “Who would you trust more – Rasner or Hughes?”

      People want to see Hughes in that spot, but he’s just not ready yet. Plus there’s a sense that Hughes can become a big time pitcher even if he struggles, so people want to stick with him. Rasner pretty much is who he is.

      • steve (different one)

        also, i find it a little odd that no one has really mentioned the defensive meltdown that started the 4th inning for Rasner yesterday.

        Jeter let a routine play go through his legs, and the Nady butchered on.

        instead of 2 outs and a man on first, the O’s had 1 out, a run in, and a man on 2nd.

        obviously Rasner wasn’t pitching “well”, but he may have fought through 4+/5 with a little help.

        • Old Ranger

          Amen…
          You are much faster at this then I am.
          While you were typing, I was haveing a conversation with my next door Met fan. And he was saying how Raz sucks, of course one can’t take a derogatory remark like that about our pitchers. Anyhow, I pointed out the same thing to him, along with the facts.
          The 3 guys at the end of the rotation have kept us in most of the games they have pitched. CMW (4.07), JOBA (2.63), Moose (3.45), and Andy (4.??) then we have Giese (2.58) Raz (4.93), one can forget about Ponson’s (it doesn’t count) he just wins. Giese and Raz could have much better results then what their stats show, with a little bit of help from their friends.
          I would venture to say (almost all of us have) the offence and defence has hurt this team more then the pitching…by far! 27/08??

  • Steve

    Sometime around the 2nd week of September, I’m hoping the rotation looks something like this

    Pettite
    Joba
    Mussina
    Pavano
    Hughes

    With Rasner in the bullpen and Ponson on the bench. That would be a rotation where I think we have a chance to win everyday w/o needing to score 6-8 runs. With Rasner and Ponson, I don’t feel that way.

    • Batty

      Based on Hughes last few outings I really wouldn’t want to see him there. Besides Ponson has pitched a few games without giving up more than a run or two – the Yanks couldn’t even score 2 runs for a win let alone 6-8.

      • A.D.

        let Hughes continue to work at AAA, going strictly on recent AAA numbers I’d rather see Wright or Aceves called up to replace Rasner/Ponson

      • Steve

        True, but before that Hughes was absolutely dominant. If it is just a dead arm thing (which timing wise sounds right) then we can hope he bounces back in his next outing or so in AAA and can join the big league club.

        Don’t forget, you want power arms that miss bats in the playoffs and he fits that description when healthy.

  • waswhining

    And, as always, the title of a favorite jazz piece, Eddie Harris & Les McCann, Compared to What. There is a lot not happening with the BOSOX.

  • Chip

    I think one thing you can really point out is the sending down of Melky as well as bringing up of Cody Ransom. Yes, Damon probably cost us a game in the field but how many games has Melky cost us with the bat? Plus, Ransom has been awesome thus far. Maybe auditioning for the utility role next season?

  • http://2009 Haggs

    Re: Boston, jumping ahead to Wednesday.

    Why didn’t Cashman at least block Boston’s attempt to get Byrd?

    Byrd is far from great, but he is better than Ponson and Rasner, and probably better than Pavano at this stage. Byrd would not have blown a 7-2 lead yesterday.

    And, perhaps more importantly, he is way better than whoever Boston would be sending out there instead of him.

    I for one would not be at all surprised if Byrd outpitches Ponson on Wednesday night. Cashman should not have let that deal go through.

    • steve (different one)

      Cashman could not “block” Byrd without actually GETTING Byrd.

      the Indians would have simply made the Yankees take him.

      Byrd sucks.

      Rasner sucks.

      Ponson sucks.

      put them all in a hat and take your pick. what you will probably end up with is 6 IP, 4 ERs.

      was it REALLY worth picking up Byrd??

      if the Yankees can’t handle Paul Byrd on Wednesday, they don’t deserve to make the playoffs. it’s that simple.

      also, i’d love to see the reactions if Cashman HAD traded for Byrd. i’d guess they’d be equally negative.

      • http://2009 Haggs

        Boston needed Byrd more than the Yankees did. For that reason alone Cashman should have acquired him.

        Byrd sucks less than Rasner. There’s no way Byrd gives back yesterday’s game.

        The Yankees will get runs off Byrd, but the Red Sox will get MORE runs off Ponson.

        Plus if the Red Sox did not have Byrd, God knows who would be starting Wednesday and for the rest of his starts this year for them.

        The Yankees and Sox could use all the arms they can get, if preventing Byrd from going to Boston meant bringing him to the Yanks, then Cashman should have done it.

        Look at Byrd’s starts for the last two months. All of them have been very good. Much better than Ponson and Rasner and Pavano’s one start.

        • steve (different one)

          Plus if the Red Sox did not have Byrd, God knows who would be starting Wednesday and for the rest of his starts this year for them.

          well, it would have been Josh Beckett.

          of course, the Yankees didn’t KNOW that Beckett was going to get hurt at the time that Byrd was available.

          might have changed their thinking.

          Boston only looks desperate now b/c Beckett got injured. before that, they had Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester and Wakefield.

          blocking Byrd didn’t really look as much of priority at that point.

          • http://2009 Haggs

            Wakefield was on the DL. Tuesday is his first start in several weeks. He is starting in Beckett’s spot, not Byrd’s

            Buchholz was getting shelled, and someone named Zink started a game. They needed Byrd badly even when Beckett was healthy.

            He has already pitched well enough twice for them. He kept them in a game against Halliday, and won his next start. He is a better pitcher than Darrell Rasner, which doesn’t say much, but it says enough. And he is at least as good and probably better than Ponson and Pavano. Cashman should have picked him up.

            You say “you will probably end up with 6IP, 4ER.”

            With Byrd yes, with Rasner, nope. D-Ras has pitched 6 innings or more only twice since June 11th. Byrd has done it 8 times.

            The Yankees would kill for 6IP and 4ER. Right now they have 2 guys you can count on for that or better.

            I’m making too big a deal of this, but it’s annoying. If Byrd is decent Wednesday and Ponson isn’t, you’ll be hearing about it in a lot more places.

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

              For the record, Haggs, I’m with you. I would have given up a bag of baseballs for Byrd.

              Probably won’t matter in either the long or short runs, though.

            • steve (different one)

              ok, i admit i wasn’t aware that Wakefield was on the DL.

              . If Byrd is decent Wednesday and Ponson isn’t, you’ll be hearing about it in a lot more places.

              i think they’ll both get rocked.

  • pounder

    Rasner was terrible from the start.’Clip board’ Joe should have pulled him earlier and inserted Britton.

    • steve (different one)

      and i’d have loved to read your reaction if/when Britton got shelled.

      please.

  • Doug

    Big key is to keep winning series. If the Yankees win every series they have then everything will fall into place.

    Musssina and Pettite are Money

    Ponson has been pitching very well (all but last outing)

    We need Joba back and in a hurry.

    I’m hoping they can patchwork the #5 spot with Pavano

    Put Rasner in the pen as a long man.

  • Doug

    Rasner does have bad luck in his starts and could have 5 or 6 more wins with some run support

  • http://thebronxbombersblog.com Vin R.

    If Giese gets back and pitches the way he was, rasner will get the boot. Ponson has only had two bad starts, he needs to come up big against boston. Joba’s going to the bullpen so i think we’ll see someone come up from the minors, and make a start, at least for September callups

    • Chip

      Where did you get Joba to the bullpen?