Moose whines more than we do at our host

Mike Mussina has been with the Yankees for nearly seven years now. He’s seen 619 of Joe Torre’s 2000 wins and 1027 of Joe’s games. Yet, for some reason – some reason I can’t fathom – Mike Mussina was pissed off after getting taken out of a 1-0 game in the 7th inning.

Now, why was Mike Mussina whining? Because he had thrown just 79 pitches and wanted to throw more. He wanted to, as he told Tyler Kepner of The Times, throw 110 pitches. And that’s just ridiculous.

Mussina, the Stanford-educated crossword-puzzle aficionado, is a smart guy. He probably knows that Joe Torre has something of a quick hook (as Joe noted earlier this afternoon). We’ve certainly been critical of Torre’s bullpen tendencies in the past, but last night, he made the right move. Mussina should know that.

Moose had just come off of a few bad outings in a row. Entering last night’s game, he was 2-3 with an ERA north of 6.20. But in six innings, he looked great last night. He had given up two hits while walking no one and striking out four. The seventh started out promisingly enough; he gave up a slow roller to Jim Thome.

But – and this is a big but – with the Thome shift on, Robinson Cano was in no position to field the ball, and Miguel Cairo, hustling all the way, couldn’t range from the second base bag to the second base hole and throw out Thome. It should have been an out, and that look crept onto Mike Mussina’s face. It was that “I’m out of my comfort zone” look. It’s the same look I’ve written about in the past.

I knew what would happen next. Mussina doesn’t get an out; he stops making the pitches. The next batter – Paul Konerko – rocketed a single off of Mussina. And that was the end of him for the night. His final line read 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. He didn’t get the win, but that’s no big deal as the Yanks crushed the Sox bullpen later on.

After the game, Mussina grumbled like a cranky old man. “Why am I upset? Because I threw 80 pitches and I think I could have thrown 110. It was the first mess I had. I just felt like I could have kept going,” he said. “I understand his thinking, but seventh inning with 79 pitches? I know I haven’t been pitching that well, but oh well. Gotta earn it back, I guess. Gotta earn it back.”

That’s right, Moose. You have to earn it back. You have to suck it up when a squibbler goes for a base hit, and you have to take your lumps like the rest of the team.

And here is just one more nail in the Mike Mussina coffin. Enough already, Mike. Just pitch. You have almost as many excuses as this guy, and we don’t like him too much.

Late edition: Yanks take second straight

Heh, it’s nearly 11 a.m., and there’s no recap of last night. D’oh. So, since it’s later in the morning and the draft is rapidly approaching, I’ll keep this short and sweet.

There are three men upon whom I’d like to heap some praise: Chien-Ming Wang, Alex Rodriguez, and Johnny Damon. While nearly everyone played a role in last night’s win, those guys are really stepping up when the Yanks needs wins the most.

How huge of a break was it to not use the bullpen at all last night? Of course, you have 13 guys in there because you plan on using some of them every game, but when you can give the corps the night off, you’ve just done them a great service. Now you can go Proctor-Bruney-Mo tonight if Moose holds up through six. Hell, you could go Britton-Proctor-Bruney-Mo if he only goes five.

Wang pitched the game in his traditional manner, recording 15 groundballs (for 16 outs counting a double play, of which he has had at least one in every game), four strikeouts, allowing five hits and walking just one. The dude is on right now. I know it’s been mentioned in just about every outlet imaginable, but his slider is really working for him this year. And it’s showing in his strikeout totals: 4.16 per nine. That may not be stellar, but it’s an improvement for Wang. He could probably whiff more, too, if he worked his four-seamer and change more often.

You’ll be lucky to see even a handful of balls hit as hard as Alex’s single last night. I’m surprised it didn’t put a baseball-sized hole in the left field wall. Even Alex looked surprised at his own strength, straggling behind a moment (probably because he thought he had jacked it for a salami) before being tagged at second. Officially, he was out. But it was pretty clear that the Yanks got hosed on yet another call at second base. It’s not just me, right? We have been getting hosed on an inordinate number of calls this year.

And then we have Johnny Damon, who doubled in each of his first two at bats. It sucks that Vazquez came back to strike out the next three hitters in the first. But his RBI double in the third started the rally that won it. Both he and the captain have been hitting over the past couple of days, so maybe they won’t be at the bottom of the “Last 7 Days” section yet again.

That’s a wrap, folks. It’s always so much easier to write a recap of a game like this, because it was just a solid win. I always try to pick the three most remarkable aspects of the game to focus on, and when those are pretty straightforward, well, it makes my job a little bit easier.

Moose vs. Contreras tonight. Let’s keep rollin’, boys!

Last 7 Days
Abreu: 476/607/810 — like a snap of the fingers, he’s turned it around
Melky: 409/440/727
Alex: 391/481/739
Posada: 360/370/680
Cano: 333/440/619
Matsui: 292/333/333
Phelps: 273/385/273
Damon: 261/346/391
Jeter: 207/207/379 — Okay, so they’re still at the bottom…

In the words of Johnny Drama: Victory!

On Monday, we were frustrated because the Yankees couldn’t put anything together between the first and ninth innings. Last night, they strung together 17 hits for seven runs, and wiped out the White Sox 7-3. We’re back to six games under .500, which really is as bad as it sounds. However, with two games left against the uninspiring White Sox, we could hit the four-games under mark by Friday. And then we get some sweet National League action (remember how the Red Sox plowed through the NL last season? We’re going to have to do it this year).

Clippard got quality results through five innings last night, striking out four and allowing just one earned run. The three walks are concerning, but he managed to work around them and the five hits he surrendered. He threw 60% of his pitches for strikes, which isn’t great, but it’s also not DeSalvo-esque. I really wish Torre had let him pitch the sixth with a four-run lead; he had only thrown 89 pitches, and could certainly use the extra work. If he keeps hovering around 85 to 90 pitches per outing, he’s really going to be gassed later in the season if he’s called on for extended work.

The night did not go by without disappointment. Farnsworth did his best to blow the four-run lead he was handed, loading the bases in the eighth. That said, there are worse things than walking Jim Thome. Yeah, we discourage leadoff walks, but Thome is the only true threat in the lineup. Everyone else is struggling mightily or just plain sucks, so you stand a much better chance against them than Thome. The single to Pierzynski didn’t look like a bad pitch (Gameday had it as a 98 m.p.h. heater that maybe caught a little too much of the plate — but certainly not down the ‘pike). The first pitch to Konerko was a little too perfect, so you can kill him for that one if you want.

Looking at Gameday again, Mackowiak’s at bat wasn’t bad, either. He missed with the first pitch, but every other pitch was on or near the edge, and it resulted in a dinky grounder that would have been wonderful…had the bases not been loaded. For some reason, the pitch tracker died in the middle of the Uribe at bat, but the first three pitches were all sliders (and the third was a 90 m.p.h. slider with some nasty break). Apparently, Uribe doesn’t do so well with the bendy pitches. Only one pitch was off the edge, so it was another good series of pitches. It’s easy to kill Farns because of the results, but looking at his pitches (speed, break, and location) seems to mitigate him a bit. I wouldn’t put him out there in high leverage situations right now, but I’d certainly find ways to get him in the game.

The top four guys in the lineup combined for 10 of the 17 hits. Cano had two hits and hit the ball hard on at least one other occasion. Looks like both he and Abreu were in prolonged slumps. Yeah, it sucks, but it’s sure nice to have them back. Now, if Melky can find that stroke he had last year and Joe gets Phelps in there four or five days a week, this can once again be a threatening lineup 1 through 9. Maybe, just maybe if Rocket can pitch fractionally as well as he did the past three seasons, we can turn this thing around come August — when there’s the possibility of getting Hughes and Giambi back.

Wang vs. our old pal Vazquez tonight. Winning last night was satisfying, but it will feel quite empty if we can’t rattle off the next two.

Last 7 Days
Cano: 524/600/952 — We’re not worthy!
Abreu: 500/625/722 — Jermaine who?
Melky: 409/440/636
Alex: 348/464/696 — been said a hundred times, but it can’t be coincidence that he’s heating back up with Abreu in the 3 slot
Posada: 346/357/615
Matsui: 333/357/370 — he fits much better in the 6 spot
Phelps: 286/375/286
Damon: 261/346/435
Jeter: 172/200/345 — still have our Nos. 1 and 2 hitters at the bottom…

The fat reliever! He lives!

Does anyone particularly want to relive last night’s game? It was simply excruciating. As much as we’ve advocated Mighty Matt on this site, even we can’t avoid the glum conclusion that he’s never going to start a game for the Yankees again. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him DFA’d to make room for whomever will be called up today. It’s sad to see such a hard-working, smart kid bite the dust, but that’s baseball for ya. Here’s to hoping he catches on with another team.

The problem, apparently, was his inability to throw strikes — which has been his problem all season. He threw just 44 pitches last night (though that was through an inning and a third), 23 of which were strikes. A starting pitcher just isn’t going to get by with that kind of performance. He only walked one batter, but it was only a matter of time before he issued more free passes. Some may say it was a quick hook by Torre, but it’s tough to argue with it.

What you can argue (and by all means should) was his decision to replace DeSalvo with Ron Villone. Remember this: Ron Villone also doesn’t throw a high percentage of strikes. This is why many of us had no desire to see him return this season: beyond his abused arm, he walks too many guys for a reliever. He hit a nice string last summer of stellar performances, but that’s looking more and more like luck at this point. Jim Thome’s home run is a great example. Having trouble throwing strikes, he just kind of laid one in there. According to Enhanced Gameday (which does have its flaws), that pitch was a straight fastball right down the middle. Of course Jim Thome’s going to take it deep.

Finally, though, we saw Chris Britton. The dude may be fat, but he sure can pitch. He threw three full innings, retiring the first nine batters he faced before Paul Konerko took him over the wall. Now, consider this: when was the last time he pitched (Mike, this one is for you)? Not all weekend, certainly. And now he’s called on for a third inning. I’d say that’s pretty impressive. He walked no one, and the only hit he surrendered was the homer. Oh, and he threw 63% of his pitches for strikes. There is no reason for him to return to Scranton.

Lastly, it’s time to complain about the offense. Jon Garland allowed seven hits and issued three walks, and the Yanks still couldn’t put anything together. Josh Phelps’s two double plays didn’t help — though he certainly hit the ball hard on at least one of them (didn’t see the other). Hey, sometimes you hit it hard and it’s right to someone — like Konerko’s drive to left center that landed in Matsui’s glove. So yeah, the two DPs and the error hurt, but he also drove in one of the team’s runs. Give him time to settle into an everyday role, and he’ll be just fine at first. Well, that, and hours and hours of fungoes from Larry Bowa.

T-Clip vs. Mark Buehrle tonight. We just need six innings from Clip. Proctor is rested, so you can hand him the ball for two or give Bruney an inning before Mo. Or we could just blow them out and not need the top guys. No word yet on who will take DeSalvo’s spot. Rotoworld is saying it’s Basak. We’ll keep you posted.

Last 7 Days
Sorry about yesterday’s lack of an update. The database wasn’t updated nearly in time to get it in.

Melky: 444/476/722 — Melky man, raking!
Cano: 429/520/810 — three walks in seven days. It’s a modern-day miracle!
Abreu: 389/522/611 — I’m loving the top 3
Jorge: 346/370/577
Matsui: 346/370/385
Phelps: 312/389/312 — keep him in the lineup and watch that slugging percentage rise
Alex: 238/407/429
Damon: 143/308/286
Jeter: 111/143/259 — not good to see our Nos. 1 and 2 hitters at the bottom

A-Rod comes through; Ortiz does not; Yankees win game, series

I have to admit: I just finished watching the game (It’s 7 a.m. as I write this). After Alex and Jorge failed to deliver with runners on first and third in the seventh, I was done. The deadly combination of frustration and sleepiness convinced me to turn off Miller and Morgan and hit the sack. “If they come back, they come back,” I said. After all, I have and could watch the game in the morning if I had to.

Which is exactly what I just did.

We’ve been asking Andy Pettitte to shoulder so much burden this year that it almost seems unfair. It’s even less fair that when we ask him to do this, we don’t score any runs behind him (though that obviously wasn’t the case last time he faced Boston). Thankfully, Pettitte isn’t easily discouraged, and continues to pitch like the ace that no one thought he could be.

In the fifth, though, things unraveled. We saw the medical team head out to the mound, which is a unpleasantly familiar sight for this team. Pettitte stayed in, but wasn’t very effective. He loaded the bases and wound up being charged with all five runs scored by the Red Sox. Though they weren’t really all his fault — Bobby Abreu’s complete misplay let in three runs.

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Yanks down but definitely not out

It’s clear that the Yanks are facing an uphill battle if they want to make the playoffs. But in their last two series against the Red Sox, the Bombers are 4-2 (and could have been 5-1). After their early-season struggles against Boston, that’s a statement. I think I see life in these Yanks yet. A series win against the White Sox this week would be a huge step. Now if only we could wave good bye to Luis Vizcaino.

Theeeeeeeeee Yankees Win!

Has everyone recovered from the emotional rollercoaster of last night? Good. Glad to hear it. Now let’s sit back and savor our victory — but obviously after we delve into this recap.

Damon allowed us to all breathe a sigh of relief; it feels like forever since we scored a run in the first inning, even though it was just a week ago against Boston. A few minutes later, and we’re tacking on run after run. This Jesse Litsch kid may have pitched well against Baltimore, but they’re not the beat that is (or was) the Yankees offense. Fall behind in the count, and you’re meat, rook.

So Giambi hits a sac fly after Alex and Posada walked to load the bases. Then Phelps, who was actually starting against a righty, singled in the two walkees. Cano then slapped a double to left, and all the sudden it’s a five-run inning. Of course, Melky hit a dinker to first to end the inning, but even those of us who were peeved about that were calmed when Clippard sailed through a 10-pitch first inning.

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