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.
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.
Ozzy Osbourne, in his final offering with Black Sabbath, sang words that ring so true for the Yankees season:
“Don’t you ever, don’t ever say die.”
It’s easy to give up on the team, to say “the season is over.” But what is accomplished by this? Is it that we’re showing how rational and logical we are? Are we trying to be super-pessimistic, so that if things do turn around we’ll be glad to say “I was wrong”? Or is it the ever-present fear of being viewed as a homer?
Baseball is a funny game, though.
The bats are all cold now, which is always unfortunate. You’ll see a few guys hitting well in the “Last 7 Days” bit at the end, but when the majority of the team is hitting below .260, you’re going to have trouble scoring runs. OBP is great — the most valuable single offensive statistic in baseball — because it means more men on base. But sooner or later, you’re going to need to drive those runs in, and only on rare occasions will a walk do the trick. The guys gotta start hitting; it’s that simple.
But what if the bats all get hot at once? Yeah, Jeter and Posada already lead the league in hitting. What if they go on a two-week tear where they hit .500? What if — God Forbid — Giambi finds his stroke and starts planting homers and gappers? What if Cano stops swinging at pitches at his eyes? What if Bobby finally finds the groove he was in last August?
I’ll tell ya: the bats all getting hot at once is just as likely as the bats all getting cold at once. So if the Yanks can string together two weeks of hot-hot hitting and can mix some down days (three or four runs) in with some solid pitching performances, they can still go on a tear. The Oakland A’s won an AL-record 20 straight games in 2002. Our team is better than that. So who’s to say we can’t rattle off 22 straight? Probable? No. Possible? Certainly.
This happened in 2005, remember? Yeah, people point out that we were 27-23 on May 29, 2005, and that we’re 21-28 this year. Well, on June 7 of that year, we were 28-30, seven games behind the surging Orioles. So it’s not like we were rolling at this point in the season that year, either.
(By the way. On May 29, 2005, the White Sox were 33-17, whereas the Red Sox are 35-15. Chicago ended at 99-63. We ended that season at 95-67. Four games. And we were running around with bottles that year, trying to catch lightning. We should — and yes, anything can happen — but should have a more established and solid pitching staff in the second half.)
In 2005, things weren’t working out at second base. So the Yanks dipped into the minors for Robinson Cano. He had been passed over by the Diamondbacks twice: once at the trade deadline in 2004, once over the winter, both in trade proposals for Randy Johnson. Yeah, he tore up AAA in April, but to think he could sustain that would be silly given the small sample size. But he came up and made a difference.
In 2007, first base isn’t working out. While there seems to be no solution in AAA, why not give Eric Duncan a shot? I know, I know. He’s hitting just .234, and has a .683 OPS. But in his last 10 games, he’s walked eight times to just two strikeouts. For some guys, it just clicks. Maybe we can catch that lightning again with Duncan. Or hell, even give a shot to Shelley Duncan, who is just hammering the ball. We’ve already infused some youth into the rotation — and may have found a useful starter in Clippard. Now it’s time to try the same thing with the offense.
It ain’t over. And so what if it is? Are you going to just stop watching? If you do, we don’t want you back when the Yanks start winning again.
Last 7 Days
There are just three words to describe last night: Totally Fuckin’ Awesome. Not only did we win the series, but we socked it to Schilling for the second time this season. Yeah, the sweep would have been nice, but we have another chance for that next week.
I’d like to thank Charu for graciously giving me tickets to the game. That would have been a completely different experience had I watched from home. It was, how you say, a bit rowdier than most games — hell, it was a bit rowdier than it was on Monday. I’ve personally never seen so many ejections (though I’m sure there have been).
Quick aside: did you know that Tier Reserve Section 13 is alcohol free? Neither did I. After buying a $10 Heinken, my buddy and I sat down, only to be told we had to leave the section while we drank. Why does the Stadium do this? It seemed everyone in our section wanted to drink…
There were way too many Boston fans there last night. Everywhere you looked, there was an Ortiz jersey. Hell, I even saw some chick wearing a Damon Red Sox jersey. I wonder if her friends secretly plotted to kill her during the game. That has to be considered a faux pas in Red Sox Nation.
The only thought during the first inning was “man, if they jump out to a quick lead and we don’t answer, this is going to be a looooong game.” Everywhere you looked in the stands, you’d see a “B” cap. I was sitting next to a Boston fan and his 9-year-old son — thankfully he was a reasonable one, a rarity indeed. After Matsui homered, some guys behind us — who had been heckling all game — started a “Schilling is a homo” chant. It lasted all of 30 seconds, but it was enough to get them tossed. Seriously? I know some people consider it “insensitive,” but this is America. Heckling at baseball games is part of our culture.
That wasn’t the last ejection, though. A 20-something Red Sox fan was throwing peanuts in our section, and was promptly shown the door. He tried to play tough guy when the female usher told him to get up, proving that — I don’t know what he was proving. The entire time, I was just hoping that one of the cops would mace him. Now that would have been hilarious.
By the time Mientkiewicz homered in the fourth (man, was that a shot or what?), the tourists were getting kind of restless. And why wouldn’t they? Their “ace” just gave up a bomb to a guy for whom we named a new low in batting standards (a .150 batting average will always be known, at least to me, as the Mientkiewicz Line). Their team was down 6-0, so all they had to reach for was “nine and a half games!” Yeah. You keep saying that, Sox fans. Makes you sound real secure.
The most entertaining portion of the night, by far, was the sixth inning (I believe it was the sixth, but I have a horrible concept of time). A roar came from the upper deck near right field. A young-looking woman was throwing her hands in the air, trying to pump up the crowd, while two cops tried to drag her out. I can only assume that she flashed the crowd. About four seconds later, I saw the first of about 10 beer cups go flying. Now there were six or seven cops on the scene, dragging people out left and right. Some dude actually threw a beer (and didn’t come close to hitting anyone), and turned around to see two cops standing right there. He was wearing a beige hat, but I really hope that it had a red “B” on it.
That was all the excitement we got until the 8th, when Kyle Farnsworth proved that he’s just not going to make it around these parts. Seriously, a home run to Coco Crisp? On the second pitch you threw? I’ve been trying to defend Farnsworth, but it’s impossible now. Nothing you can say can mitigate his season — his whole Yankee tenure, even. As commenter John pointed out, let’s see if we can get Carlos Ruiz or Rod Barajas from the Phillies for him. Straight up. No cash involved.
We all got a little scared in the ninth when Mo allowed a leadoff double to Whiffy Mo Pena (I still like Automatic-K better, but the masses have spoken). But then he came back to strikeout the next three batters to end the game. Lugo really didn’t like the call on his, but he’s a .230 hitter, so he should have other things to worry about. What’s crazy is that Mo struck out Crisp — who had led off the previous inning — to end the game. Just shows you how terrible Farnsworth is.
As for best moment of the game, you all know. Seeing Derek Jeter pass Joe D. on the all-time Yanks hit list was quite the event. When the crowd rose to its feet and chanted “De-rek Je-ter, clap, clap, clap clap clap,” it seemed like there wasn’t a Boston fan in the house. And that’s the way it should be.
So now comes another off-day, followed by an always-tough series against the Angels. I’d say two out of three would be nice, but we’re going to have to sweep a few series at some point.
* Just wanted to point out that the nickname “Whiffy Mo Pena” is courtesy of my pal Pfisty. He has also introduced such nicknames as: Carol Pavano (even though it was a slam dunk), Blower-san (Igawa, named aptly after Cashman said he’s “not a blower”), Senor Hustle (one guess as to who that is), and Cairomack (because Cairo is just Tony Womack without the speed). Props to reader Mg for “Farnsworthless” (that one dated back to early last year).
Last 7 Days
Well, look at that. The Yankees were held in check by a shitty pitcher. What a surprise. I should be more outraged right now — I sure was last night. But the truth is, the Yankees did not deserve to win that game. Not after Mussina’s first inning, Not after they failed to register a hit the first time through the order.
When they needed a big hit, they got a groundball. Sure, a run may have scored, but that’s not always a huge consolation. It was okay when they were down 4-1 and needed a boost in the fifth. It wasn’t okay when they were down 7-2 and needed a big inning in the eighth.
And then there was the ninth. Yeah, you can’t expect that they’ll score four to tie it, but dammit, when Papelbon walks the first two guys, you gotta get something started. But Melky swung through ball four. Damon grounded out. And then Cap’n Clutch went down looking at three straight pitches. Yeah, Derek, we get it. You didn’t think those balls caught the plate. You were wrong. But you’re an asshole for not swinging.
(Yeah, the overhead replay showed that the last pitch could have easily caught the black. It was by no means a bad call. I’m sure Derek arguing with the ump about his strikezone all night didn’t help that call.)
So what, are the Yankees just going to turn the bats back on like a light switch tonight? Or are they going to come out lifeless again?
Pettitte vs. Schilling. It’s tough to say “must win,” but, uh, the Yanks kind of have too many losses for this point of the season. Every game that goes by (and they lose) is another game they can’t make up later in the year.
Last 7 Days
Despite the outcome, last night was scary. It seemed that there was a potential disaster around every corner, with Wang stranding five men in the first two innings — both times after easily recording the first two outs of the respective inning. He threw just 57 percent of his pitches for strikes. He gave up seven hits and three walks in his six and a third innings.
Such is the cost of a new approach. And for the Red Sox, against whom Wang had piled up a 5.05 ERA prior to last night, it was a necessary adjustment. That didn’t make the torture of sitting in the stands any less, but in the end it paid off.
He used over 18 pitches per inning last night, as opposed to a hair under 14 per inning last season. Even more against the Wang norm, he recorded nine ground outs to five fly outs (1.80 ratio), whereas last year his ratio was 3.06. He still has a 2.42 ratio this year.
The night wasn’t all about Wang, though. It was about Giambi hitting a monster blast. It was about Alex giving the Yanks an early lead. It was about Cano putting together a hitting streak. It was about Damon not looking washed up. It was about getting two-out hits with men on. It looks like the offensive wheels are turning again.
This is nice, because the pitching is ready, too. Roger will be back in a week (hard to believe), and Phil Hughes officially began his rehab stint yesterday, meaning we’ll see him back in roughly four weeks, give or take a few days. Until then, the Yanks have Tyler Clippard and/or Matt DeSalvo to plug the dam.
Mussina vs. Tavarez tonight. Hey, A-Rod, listen up: Tavarez is going to go high and tight on you. Don’t freak out like a little girl when he does.
Last 7 Days
Okay, let’s take a deep breath. We’ve seen this happen before. The Yanks put up an impressive win following a disappointing loss (i.e., the double header in Chicago) and we think it’s the start of a run, only to be disappointed a few days later. No, I’m not trying to take the wind out of everyone’s sails. It was a damn good win last night, the kind the Yanks should be having all freakin’ season. And who knows, maybe they do turn this ship around, sweep the Red Sox, and continue on a path of prosperity.
As we all saw, it began with Tyler Clippard. I’ll be honest: I hadn’t seen much of him beyond a handful of video clips before this start. He looked okay in those videos, but for the most part I agreed with Mike: he’s not blowing anyone away up there, and when you have a righty like that, his long-term success is almost a crapshoot. Yes, it’s possible, but when so many similar guys fail, it has to raise a red flag.
Joe Morgan seemed fixated on one aspect of Clippard’s delivery (and, of course, the most obvious one): that he falls off to both sides of the mound. Joe further observed that he fell off to one side for the two-seamer and the curve (or was it the two-seamer and the change?) and the other side for the four-seamer and the change (or the curve). Did anyone else make that observation? And, if he does go a certain way for each pitch, will that tip off batters once they get used to him? Further, can he mix it up later in a game so that he catches guys trying to guess? Those are all questions that will be answered in his next few starts.
I do have to say, though, that I’m glad we have him in the rotation over Rasner. We’re much better off with Clippard, a promising 22-year-old, than Rasner, a 26-year-old who is a known quantity at this point. Rasner may find some success as a spot starter, but he always leaves you feeling uneasy out there. Even when he shut out Seattle, it wasn’t like he was demonstrably dominant.