AL East Roundup: 5/11/09 through 5/17/09

Wanted: Outs from the bullpen
Can't the Yankees do better than John Sterling?

Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays Daze

Any week that has Doc Halladay pitching twice is a week Jays fans look forward to for good reason. Doc didn’t disappoint while setting the tone against the Yankees against AJ, his old team mate and newest Blue Jay nemesis. Doc pitched a complete game gem against a somewhat diminished Yankee lineup that was missing Jeter, Swisher, and Posada, but still took care of business. He only needed 103 pitches to complete his outing. While Doc’s performance was to be expected, the fact that Burnett was booed every single time he threw a strike and jeered more than Arod surprised many of us. While it is true that Burnett became just another player chasing the money he supposedly deserves in New York, he deserves to be made aware that he sold out.

Back to the Jays week, I have to admit the Yankee pitching surprised me after the first game of the series. CC and Andy threw some very strong games supplemented by some stellar pen innings I had no idea the Yanks relievers could deliver. I expected the Jays hitters to have some struggles this season, but hoped they would come against other opponents. For the Jays, Richmond obviously looked shell shocked and definitely had no faith in his stuff for the first time this season. I’m not really sure why it happened, but I hope that he learns from the experience and works on his tenacity. His rough outing was followed by yet another surprising start by Tallet who held his own over 6 innings allowing only 2 runs. Either way, he wasn’t beating CC and the Jays hitters took the 2 games off, leaving Richmond and Tallet to fend for themselves.

As the weekend series versus the White Sox started, the Jays has hungry hitters on the prowl and did they delivered enough to sweep the weekend. Friday’s game had Bret Cecil throwing a great game to go along with 8 runs of support, resulting in Bret’s second win in a row. Lind and Bautista delivered the two required RBIs in the 8th inning on Saturday in support of Robert Ray, who lasted 8 innings with no earned runs. Scott Downs got the save and seems to have a good hold on the role. And finally the Jays supported their Doc with another 8 run effort led by none other than Aaron Hill. I’d like to advertise for Aaron for very good reason. As we begin to vote for the All-Star game, I would suggest that Aaron’s stats deserve to be compared to Utley’s and Kinsler’s to prove just how special he has been this season. I hope all voters will give him the thumbs up, he deserves it.

Week’s Record: 4-2

Season Record: 26-14

Injuries: Michael Barrett (Shoulder), Jesse Litsch (Right Forearm – cleared to resume throwing), Shaun Marcum (Elbow), Dustin McGowan (Labrum), Ricky Romero (Threw in AAA May 13th), Casey Janssen (made 3 starts in HiA Dunedin).

This Week: Mon CHICAGO; Tue-Thu @Boston; Fri-Sun @Atlanta


Boston Red SoxSurviving Grady

A dismal week for the Boston Red Sox on the west coast. Not only did they drop two-out-of-three to the Angels and Mariners, but the Sox were forced to bench David Ortiz after a horrendous appearance on Thursday. Papi went 0-for-7 with three K’s and left an astounding 12 runners on base. After the game, Ortiz told reporters “Papi stinks.”

Things started out OK in LA. After being shut down for seven innings by Jered Weaver, the Sox got to the Angel bullpen in the 8th and 9th innings, capped by a run-scoring double off the bat of Captain Tek. The next night, “The Big A” continued to be a personal house of horrors for Tim Wakefield. Wake is 0-6 with a 9.3 ERA in his last six starts there. Wednesday was no different: Wakefield couldn’t get out of the 5th inning, giving up seven earned. The Angels’ Matt Palmer went the distance in the 8-4 rout. Thursday was one of the worst games of the 2009 season for the Red Sox bats. Brad Penny turned in a decent start and the bullpen was phenomenal, going scoreless innings before Manny Delcarmen gave up the game-winner in the 12th. The Red Sox had countless opportunities to steal a win, putting seven runners on in the last four frames but scoring none.

The next stop was Seattle and a chance to make the road trip a success. The Mariners were struggling, winning just once in their last ten games. But Jon Lester fell victim once again to “the bad inning” syndrome. After cruising through five, Lester melted in the 6th, giving up four earned, two on Ichiro‘s second homer of the game. The bullpen was again the highlight, shutting down the M’s, but the Sox couldn’t plate the tying run. Josh Beckett returned to a more Beckett-like form on Saturday, going seven strong and giving up just two earned runs. Bay cranked his 11th homer on the way to a 5-3 win. Sunday’s attempt to grab a .500 record on the road trip went awry in the bottom of the 9th when a Nick Green error led to the winning run.

The bullpen remains the one constant strength for the Red Sox. Beckett’s strong outing was a silver lining to the week’s cloudy pattern: the return of the ace is much-needed. As is the return of the Beard. Youk’s bat in the line-up might have been enough grab a couple more wins on this trip. Next week the Sox will battle the Jays, needing a sweep to tie for the lead in the East. Then the first bite of the shit sandwich that is interleague play against the Mets. Finally, the Sox spend Memorial Day weekend in the Homerdome battling the Twins and the Hefty bag. Can the three-day mental health break be enough to get Papi’s bat on track? It better be.

Week’s record: 2-4

Season record: 22-16

Injuries: Kevin Youkilis (15-day DL retroactive to May 5, oblique strain)

This week: Tue – Thu TORONTO; Fri – Sun NEW YORK METS


New York YankeesRiver Ave. Blues

After back-to-back sweeps at the hands of AL East opponents two weeks ago, the Yanks could have used a boost against the Jays last week. Unfortunately, the series began with Roy Halladay taking the mound for the Birds. The Yanks hadn’t beaten Halladay since Opening Day 2008, and Tuesday night would be no different. They mustered just one run off Doc, an A-Rod grounder through the hole that scored one of the scant runners they’d put in scoring position. This made the Yanks 3-7 over their previous 10.

As we’ve seen in at least one recent May, the Yankees then decided to go on a tear. They turned to Andy Pettitte, who has a history of staunching the Yanks’ bleeding. That he did, though it wasn’t the prettiest of starts. The difference was the offense, which was powered by Brett Gardner‘s first career home run. The Yanks recorded eight extra base hits in the game, chasing Jays starter Scott Richmond after just 1.2 IP. The next night, CC Sabathia was CC Sabathia, going eight innings and laying his own bridge to Mariano Rivera, who picked up his seventh save of the year and gave the Yanks the second straight victory in the series.

The weekend proved to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. After blowing several opportunities to close a 4-1 deficit against the Twins, Brett Gardner came through with his second career home run, this one an inside-the-parker that reignited the fans at Yankee Stadium Friday night. Then, with the Yanks down 4-2, he led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple. Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single to bring the Yanks within one. Then, with runners on second and third with two outs, Cito Gaston walked Robinson Cano to get to Melky Cabrera. With the crowd chanting “Mel-ky, Mel-ky,” the center fielder lined a single to left center, plating the winning run.

After leading for most of Saturday’s affair, the bullpen coughed up the lead late. But Mark Teixeira helped out, tying the game while registering his fourth hit of the day. This led to extra innings. With Teixeira on first after a walk to lead off the 11th, Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate. Lefty Craig Breslow tried to sneak a slider inside, but A-Rod turned on it and deposited it into the left field stands for a second-straight walk-off. Sunday was more of a pitchers’ duel, with both A.J. Burnett and Kevin Slowey holding their opponents scoreless through six innings. However, Burnett allowed two runs in the top of the seventh, and Slowey allowed two in the bottom half. The score remained tied until the bottom of the 10th, when Johnny Damon hit a walk-off homer to right, giving the Yanks three straight victories in dramatic fashion.

Week’s record: 5-1

Season record: 20-17

Injuries: None new

This week: Mon MINNESOTA; Tue – Thu BALTIMORE; Fri – Sun PHILADELPHIA


Tampa Bay Rays

NOTE: Looks like the Rays blogger bailed. Thankfully, we have a new one lined up for next week. Hopefully we’ve got the early-season kinks out and this will proceed as normal starting next week.

The week for the Rays began and ended with blunders related to Andy Sonnanstine. The first blunder was the pitcher himself, as he allowed seven runs over two innings on Tuesday, putting his team in poor position against the Orioles. Worst of all, O’s stater Mark Hendrickson allowed five runs of his own in the second inning. Sonnanstine, who had allowed one in the first, matched Hendrickson’s frame, handing the Orioles the lead right back. A final run in the third would comprise all the scoring for the game, and the O’s won 7-5.

On Sunday, Joe Maddon had a brain fart when filling out his lineup card, penciling in both Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria for third base. The intent was to DH Longoria, so when Zobrist took the field for the top of the first, Longoria and his DH spot were removed from the game. It’s not an instance which arises often, but it put the Rays in a tough position, having to bat the pitcher third. Sonnanstine again didn’t pitch particularly well, allowing five runs over 5.1 innings. He did aid his own cause, though, smacking an RBI double. The Rays overcame their handicap and took the game 7-5.

Sandwiched between the blunders was a 3-1 week which featured the Rays taking three of four from the reeling Indians. I wish I could go into greater detail, but I’d just be repeating the box scores. Thankfully, we’ll have a real live Rays blogger next week to give us the proper insight. Until then, the results can do the talking.

Week’s record: 4-2

Season record: 19-20

Injuries: Pat Burrell (15-day DL, neck), Carl Crawford (day to day)

This week: Mon – Thu OAKLAND; Fri – Sun @Florida


Baltimore OriolesDempsey’s Army

A week of treading water but we call that progress in Baltimore.

The Orioles gained splits in a two game set with the Rays and a four game series at Kansas City and with the injuries and the arms we were sending to the mound, we’ll take it.

Injury update: Luke Scott eventually had to go on the DL with an injury to his rotator cuff. Scott’s injury hurts in the short term but is giving a good opportunity to top prospect OF Nolan Reimold who was recalled from Norfolk. Reimold struggled in his first week but will be trotted out there everyday, at least until Scott gets healthy. (On a side note, since the departure of B.J. Surhoff, the Orioles were unable to find a left fielder who could even hit for league average for several years. It was pretty unforgivable. One of the reasons Baltimore fans love Scott is that he finally filled that need last season…but I digress.)

Adam Jones tweaked his hamstring legging out an infield hit and hasn’t played since Tuesday. Another big blow to the Oriole offense but helps to extend the Felix Pie experiment. Pie was terrible in April but has hit .286/.355/.536 in May, more than enough to buy him some time when everyone gets healthy.

Debuts: I’ve already talked about Reimold who hit .235/.235/.294 in his first week in the bigs. SP Rich Hill came off the DL to make his Oriole debut and go 5.2 IP, striking out 6 and scattering 7 hits, giving up 2 earned and getting the win versus Kansas City. It speaks volumes about the Oriole pitching staff that Hill is a massive upgrade over many of our rotation candidates. Adam Eaton cannot be long for the rotation..we just need to find one more arm.

Living proof that hitting in between Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis alone will not improve your bat: Cesar Izturis. Izturis is hitting .190 in the 2 spot. Manager Dave Trembley seems to like his basestealing ability at the top of the order but Izturis is a really bad choice to bat second. Melvin Mora would be a better choice until Jones returns.

Week’s Record: 3-3

Season Record: 16-22

Injuries: RP Dennis Sarfate (numbness in hand, 15-day DL, out until July), DH/LF Luke Scott (strained shoulder, 15-day DL), CF Adam Jones (day to day, strained hamstring)

This Week: Tue-Thur @New York; Fri-Sun @Washington

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Wanted: Outs from the bullpen
Can't the Yankees do better than John Sterling?
  • The Lodge

    Heard Gammons on 1050 earlier. He was extolling the Blue Jays team this year.

    Not taking anything away from the Jays; they play hard and have gotten production from unlikely sources (Read: Aaron Hill & Indy League 2-5 Rotation); but look at their record. Could it just be a product of beating up on the AL Central thus far (~60% of their sched. to date)?

    I gotta say, in this context, things are looking good for the Yanks (especially considering the Red Sox’s recent woes).

    • DreDog

      I agree about the Jays. However, I am still concerned that the Sox have had crappy performances from their starting rotation (didn’t Gammons & Olney say they were the best in baseball?) and are still in contention. I think those 250 pitch games are catching up with Dice-K, and Lester pitched way too much too soon last year.

      • jsbrendog

        and hopefully becketts elbow is spaghetti

        • Bo

          Wishing for injuries? Thats terrible. Shouldnt you want to beat a teams best? Jeez.

          • goon

            no

            • NJY

              hell no… W is a W is a W.. easier the better, breeds confidence

              • whozat

                Really? Does beating Devern Hansack with Chris Carter as a DH really “breed confidence?”

                • NJY

                  count it!

          • jsbrendog

            i have no problem wishing injury on someone who throws a ball above soeones head after time has been called on purpose and then proceeds to yell at them form the mound trying to further provoke them

            • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              I just want to know what Januz Whitey thinks about this.

              • NJY

                Whitey thinks one thing – 2.74.. get off me

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Different Whitey.

              • Whitey14

                Should I assume, you meant me? Thanks for calling me out. I can always count on you to help keep me honest ;-)

                I don’t wish injuries on anybody and I think it’s a horrible thing to do. People who do it should be ashamed of their low moral values and they should apologize for the embarassment they cause their families and friends.

                That being said, if Beckett had injured Abreu with that pitch and Abreu had charged him and kicked his ass, he would have deserved it. Thankfully, Abreu has more class than that and the Angels focused more on winning the series than evening the personal scores.

                40 years ago, that pitch was probably a lot more acceptable from the likes of a Bob Gibson or a Don Drysdale type than it is today from a Josh Beckett type because pitchers were allowed to intimidate. Hitter’s showboating was less common because they knew they’d get beaned and beaned good if they pissed off the pitcher. But these days, it’s unacceptable to throw a pitch near a batter’s head, which is how it should be. There are plenty of places to hit a batter if he pisses you off. The ass, the thigh, the lower leg and right in the middle of the back all work nicely and should send the proper message.

                Beckett is the same tpye of douchebag that a young Roger Clemens was and people accept it from him because of the talent he brings to the table. It’s all in the name of winning and our morals and principles be damned! I won’t root for a guy if I think he’s a douchebag, and things like throwing at a guys head, holding out for a new contract when you’re already signed to a deal, playing a year in the independant league because you don’t like the team that drafted you, stating you won’t play for such and such a team and forcing them to trade you, all qualify you as a douchebag, in my humble opinion.

                If you didn’t mean me sorry for rambling ;-)

  • Hobbes

    God, other fans in the AL East are whiny as hell.

    • jsbrendog

      all fans are whiny as hell

    • UWS

      You haven’t been reading the threads around these parts, have you.

      • Hobbes

        Less and less…

  • A.D.

    A week of treading water but we call that progress in Baltimore.

    At least the O’s fans are taking the season in stride, for them it must be like watching the Knicks, terrible right now, but plenty of hope in the future.

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Yeah, at least they, for the first time in a long time, have something to look forward to.

      • Bo

        The Knicks-Orioles comparison is very on point.

        • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          Except the Orioles actually have great young talent under their control. As Knicks fans aren’t we just kind of hoping things are getting better at this point? It’s not like the Knicks have players like Markakis, Jones, Wieters, Tillman, Matusz, Arrieta and Reimold in the pipeline. (Different sport, but you know what I mean.)

          • andrew

            I see where you’re going with this, but if you could trade away all your draft picks in the MLB like you can in the NBA, who knows if the O’s having all these good guys coming up.

            • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

              Ok… But, they do have them.

              • Chris

                But most of them are just as far off from helping the team as an NBA draft pick or Lebron.

                • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

                  Ugh, this is silly, but the point was that the O’s ALREADY HAVE THOSE GUYS UNDER THEIR CONTROL. We don’t know who the Knicks will draft or whether they’ll ever sign Lebron or any other FA. There’s CLEARLY a difference there. Come on.

                • whozat

                  Not really. Markakis and Jones are excellent right now, and Wieters is what…weeks away? That’s HUGE. They’ll almost certainly both be very good this year, and could be world beaters. Ask the late-90s Yankees what a premier CFer and catcher can do for you.

                • http://dempseysarmy.blogspot.com Dempsey’s Army

                  Agreed. Markakis and Jones are great right now and Wieters will be much better than Zaun is as soon as he shows up in June. The lineup is really not too bad. Add to that the fact that Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold will probably solve LF at some point and a lot of pitching talent on the way…we haven’t had this kind of talent in the minors since the ’80’s.

                  We won’t be world beaters this season though…too many holes in the rotation even if all of our pitching prospects pan out.

          • A.D.

            Well its a little different because of the cap and such the Knicks know that they will be able to throw money at a FA and be able to get at least one of the guys becoming a FA in the next few years.

            Plus they do have some young talent on the team from recent draft picks, I feel like a lottery pick in the NBA is equal to having a top prospect in the higher minors in MLB.

    • Linnea

      If the Os don’t trade that future away.

      • Brendo

        I think the general point is that they are both two tradition rich teams that have sunk to all time lows. No one was comparing rosters.

  • Will (the other one)

    Anybody want to get a “Wieters Watch” going for the O’s?

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Can you post the Yankees wrap up that goes on other blogs? I can’t find it. I’d like to read all the team updates together, including ours.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Added it just for you, buddy.

      • LiveFromNewYork

        Thanks!!!

      • jsbrendog

        i def think having the yanks one up there works better. good call livefromny

  • NJY

    Can anyone tell me what “Surviving Grady” refers to??

    • whozat

      Grady Little?

      2003 ALCS?

      Jesus, PLEASE tell me you remember that. If not…I am so old…so very, very old…

      • jsbrendog

        its not that we’re old, its that theyre all young, so very very young

        • Yankeegirl49

          I get that feeling too..I think I could be everyones mother! LOL

          • NJY

            very young but still should of remembered Pedro sitting out there like a bird with one wing

    • UWS

      Grady Little, I assume.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I assumed it was Grady from Sanford and Son.

        • Brendo

          ….and crickets….

        • Whitey14

          Grady, you dummy!

  • http://gearupforsports.com greg

    Edited by RAB. Off-topic self-promotion just isn’t our bag.

  • TheLastClown

    I think that even when they get their team to 100%, the Blue Jays are still going to be left wanting. I’m no experienced sabermetrician, but my perusal of this site has gotten me somewhat acquainted.

    TOR BABIP: .315
    TOR pitchers BABIP against: .275

    Some combination of the leveling of these two will undercut their performance, the question is how much. The Rays last year leveled off somewhat with a .302/.280 respectively.

    The Yankees are much closer to the mean, at .290/.302 which tells me that if & when CMW comes back & performs like normal, we’re going to see what we thought we were getting, rotation-wise, which I believe will waver between very good & utterly dominant.

    Joba especially, with a .330 BABIP, shines out to me. When he fine-tunes his control a bit more, you won’t see as many of those 2-0 get me over sliders or grooved 4-seamers down the middle, which will push down the BABIP #. I’m quite pleased with the progress he’s already made, and I’m enjoying his ascension into “my favorite Yankee” status.

    Burnett also is under-performing his peripherals, so that’s another reason to look up. To segue, I’ve recently come back to this site & have been reading much disdain. Much lame-i-tude. IMO, this is a great Yankee team, & I’ve enjoyed watching the games. The early-season sluggishness just makes the inevitable rampage that much sweeter.

    Now to close with a controversial point? I don’t know how much it’s been discussed, as I haven’t actually read through the game threads the last few days, but David Cone’s suggestion of Phil Hughes to the bullpen resonated with me.

    NOT because I don’t think he can be a starter. Let’s just make that clear right now. I was never in the B-Jobber camp, but I was thrilled in ’07 when he came up & was lights out, defeated only by a malignant Biblical plague. I, and the Yankees, knew then that he was to be a starter, and a possible marquis starter at that. and yet, while he was still a bright shade of big-league green, it provided a BP hole-plug and crunch time experience at the same time. He got to focus on two pitches for a while, which in his case has not detracted from the nasty hook & effective change that we’ve seen this year. I also agree that shuttling him back & forth last year was a mistake, so far as the impact on his conditioning & mental routines.

    I think that the mental toughness is the biggest hurdle for the Phranchise to overcome. I’ve never met the kid, so it’s just conjecture, but even thus qualified, I feel it’s valid. His near no-no in 07 against Texas spotted him 6 runs by the 3rd inning. His dominant performance that year in the playoffs saw him in a damage control situation, and he excelled. He has had other good & even great starts, but the consistency isn’t quite all there yet. He seems more comfortable working with momentum generated from elsewhere, positive or negative, if that makes sense. Even this year, he is marvelous is AAA, and the first start up here in the bigs, that momentum carried through. A couple of adjustments on the opposing side, and he’s not hopping along on this ride.

    Is it because of lack of talent? No.
    Injury like last year? Probably not.
    That leaves the mental issue. The confidence that even if he doesn’t feel like he’s at his best, he can still beat anyone in front of him. I feel like Joba has that, and it may be due in no small part to the limited exposure of the BP & the dominance he showcased therein.

    Of course there are no guarantees that Hughes would dominate in such a situation, and there may be some adverse affect, but it could help, and hey, we need help in the bullpen anyway.

  • Brendo

    These blog posts from these teams are just flat out unreadable. Makes one appreciate this site.

  • John K.

    Then the first bite of the shit sandwich that is interleague play against the Mets.

    Oh how I’d love to see the Mets destroy the Sox.