Game 82: Hahaha, nice one Girardi

1. Damon, LF
2. Jeter, SS
3. A-Rod, 3B
4. Posada, 1B
5. Betemit, 2B
6. Melky, CF
7. Molina, C
8. Christian, RF
9. Rasner, SP

Okay, so where’s the real lineup Joe?

So wait, that’s really it? Let me get this straight: you’re sitting three very good lefty batters in Abreu, Giambi and a surging Robbie Cano against a mediocre southpaw in Oliver Perez, but you started them against a premium lefty in Johan Santana yesterday after they played 3 games in 3 different stadiums in a span of 48 hours. Okay cool, that makes sense.

Wait, no it doesn’t. Whatever, let’s hope Perez has one of those games.

Game 81: Halfway there

Nine innings from now the Yanks season will be 50% complete, and at worst they’ll be 43-38, 7 GB of the division lead and 6.5 GB of the Wildcard. After their 81st game last year, the Yanks were 40-41 and 10.5 GB of first place Boston, 7 GB of Wildcard leading Detroit. It hasn’t been smooth sailing, but it’s improvement.

De facto ace Andy Pettitte toes the rubber today, taking on Johan “WE SHOULD HAVE TRADED KENNEDY AND TEH MELKY FOR HIM!!11one!!” Santana. Andy’s been dandy of late (I hate myself for typing that), allowing only 18 baserunners and 1 run against 19 strikeouts in 21 IP since Jose Guillen owned him in that forgettable beatdown at the hands of the Royals. Johan’s allowed 19 baserunners and 10 runs in his 2 starts (13 IP), both against AL opponents. There’s only five guaranteed years and $128M (minimum) remaining on his contract.

You probably have already heard that David Robertson has been summoned from Triple-A Scranton. Check this out: Robertson was Yarmouth-Dennis’ closer during the 2006 Cape Cod League season, and in the title clinching game he threw 3 perfect innings to close out the win. He struck out the final batter of the game, some kid from Texas named Bradley Suttle. The opposing starter that day? Jeremy Bleich. See, the world does revolve around the Yanks.

The lineup:

1. Damon, LF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Posada, C
7. Cano, 2B
8. Cabrera, CF
9. Pettitte, SP

Notes: LaTroy Hawkins has been designated for assigning that pink backpack the rookies take out to the bullpen to Robertson … Hah! See what I did there? But seriously, Igawa was sent back to Scranton, Oneli Perez and his six-fingered hands were DFA’ed to clear up spots on the 25-man & 40-man roster, respectively for D-Rob … Ross Ohlendorf will work out of Scranton’s rotation for the time being, but the Yanks still view him as a reliever long term … Matsui had his knee drained again, Cashman said surgery was a possibility … Cash also said that Phil Hughes is 2-3 weeks away from pitching in games, and that he might not necessarily return to the big league team this season … Brian Bruney is a week away from pitching in games

Update: The start of the game is being delayed by the threat of rain. Pete Abe says they’ve just begun to take the tarp off. I live about two miles geographically from the Stadium, and the sun’s out here.

Game 79 (again): Beat the Mets. Beat the Mets. Step right up and beat the Mets

Right now, it’s not a stretch to say that we should be rooting for the rains that are blanket the New York arrive shortly after, oh, 5 p.m. today. If the Sidney Ponson nightcap were to be rained out, would anyone really mind? I’m sure watching Ponson, a career .143 hitter, bat would be entertaining, but still.

Anyway, for now, we’re concerned with the afternoon affair, a make-up of a game rained in May, and baring some sort of miraculous World Series, the last Yankee-Met game ever in Yankee Stadium. The Yanks are going with Melky Cabrera yet again in the lead-off spot. Melky this year has 35 lead-off plate appearances and has hit .250/.353/.321. Is this .674 OPS (albeit in a limited sample size) really the best Joe Girardi can do? I thought this guy was supposed to read Baseball Prospectus.

Johnny Damon is off this afternoon to rest his foot. He’ll play left field in Shea Stadium, and it is expected that Hideki Matsui will hit the DL after the first game. The Bonds talk swirling in this thread is growing louder.

Dan Giese is on the mound. He’s 1-2, but in 14 innings this year, the 31-year-old has allowed just one earned run. Can he keep this up? Tune in at 2:05 p.m. to find out.

Melky Cabrera CF
Derek Jeter SS
Bob Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jason Giambi DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Wilson Betemit 1B
Justin Christian LF

Dan Giese P

Game 79: Damon returns to leadoff spot

Welcome back to the lineup, Johnny Damon. While Melky Cabrera filled in admirably, it’s nice to have Damon back in the top spot. Now, if only he can finish off June like he started it…

Happy birthday Derek Jeter. The only player with more career hits on his 34th birthday: Robin Yount. At what point is it a lock that Jeter joins him in Cooperstown? On his 34th birthday, Pete Rose — who shares a birthday with yours truly — had 2,346 hits, 92 behind Jeter. Will Derek Sanderson break Charlie Hustle’s all time record? What the hell…I’m just going to go ahead and say yes.

Apparently, according to Ed Price, Mike Mussina is a perfect 5-0 when pitching in Pennsylvania. Yes, we all know that’s where Moose is from. (Ending a sentence with a linking verb followed by a preposition? Ouch, Joe.)

Bad news for Matsui: the DL is a possibility, according to our manager. I wouldn’t get my hopes up about a Brett Gardner call-up in that situation, though. The smart money is on another appearance by Shelley, if for no other reason than 40-man roster concerns. They’ve got to make a spot for Ponson (probably DFA Moeller, but possibly Chris Stewart, though a Moeller DFA would clear the 25-man spot, too). In any case, with Christian in the bigs, I’m not sure the braintrust would be as apt to make the move for Gardner just yet. Maybe if this is a long term thing…

Anyway, onto the lineup:

1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Robinson Can, 2B
7. Melky Cabrera, CF
8. Jose Molina, C
9. Mike Mussina, P

Game 78: Another day, another lefty

The Yanks face off against lefty Zach Duke tonight. Duke had a strong start to his career in 2005 — one of my buddies did a nice write-up of him during his rookie campaign. After pitching 215 innings of league average ball in 2006, he struggled mightily in 2007, and missed July, August, and half of September. At 92 innings this year, it seems that Duke has found himself again, pitching to a 3.91 ERA, though that 1.48 WHIP could come around to haunt him down the road.

What can I say about the Yanks, other than they need to win tonight? They did score two in the ninth last night, so I guess we get to put the ol’ theory to the test tonight. Fate will be in the hands of Joba Chamberlain, who has pitched rather well since making the conversion to a starter.

Questions for tonight:
Will Derek Jeter avoid grounding into a double play if presented with the opportunity?
Will Melky draw a couple more walks in the leadoff spot?
Will we be able to string together a few hits, rather than leaving our men on base?
Will A-Rod come back with a vengeance after taking an 0 for 5 last night?

If the answers to those four are all yes, we might be onto something.

Your lineup:

1. Melky Cabrera, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Justin Christian, LF — felt good to type that
9. Joba Chamberlain, P

I guess there doesn’t need to be a pitching announcement…damn NL.

Notes: per Ed Price, Ian Kennedy will throw a rehab start for Tampa on Saturday. Phil Hughes played catch for the first time since suffering his broken rib. Price says we’re still six weeks away. I’d believe it.

Game 77: Leading off by not getting on base

Johnny Damon is out. His foot is bothering him. Hideki Matsui is out. As anyone who watched the game on Sunday could see, his knee was bothering him.

So what has Joe Girardi done? Why, he’s installed the Yankee regular with the second lowest OBP to lead off. Brilliant!

With Damon out, the much-maligned Melky draws the one hole tonight. He and his .310 OBP will bat in front of Derek Jeter and his career-low .336 OBP. Robinson Cano is batting third. Just kidding.

Filling in for the two injured outfielders is none other than…..not Brett Gardner! Because the Yankees are facing a whole bunch of lefties over the next few days, Justin Christian, 28, got the call up. He’s hitting .309/.360/.455 with 18 stolen bases. If he produces over the next few days, the pressure will really be on Melky to turn it up a notch. Billy Traber has been exiled to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The Yanks face the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. tonight in Pittsburgh. The NL Central doormats are 36-40 with a -44 run differential. This is the first trip to Pittsburgh for the Yanks since the 1960 World Series. Darrell Rasner is on the mound; hopefully, he won’t have to run the bases either.

And just an FYI: This weekday night game is actually on Channel 9 tonight and not the YES Network.

Cabrera CF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi 1B
Posada C
Cano 2B
Christian LF
Rasner P