Record Last Week: 4-2 (39 RS, 36 RA)
Season Record: 78-46 (696 RS, 589 RA), 7.5 games up
Opponents This Week: vs. Texas (3 games), vs. White Sox (3 games)
Top stories from last week:
- After a pretty demoralizing loss in Seattle on Sunday, the Yanks proceeded to get blanked by ex-mate Brett Tomko on Monday. Thankfully CC Sabathia restored order to the universe and led the club to a win the next day, and Mark Teixeira almost singlehandedly gave the Yanks the series win on Wednesday.
- After an off-day, Hideki Matsui started the Fenway series in style, chipping in two homers in a 20-run outburst. The Red Sox turned the tables the next day, bludgeoning AJ Burnett for the third time in Boston this year. The Bombers stayed true to their name last night, homering their way to their sixth win against the Sox in their last seven contests. It was glorious.
- Brett Gardner‘s return from a finger injury will take a little longer than expected, probably into September. Ian Kennedy won’t get into a game before the regular season ends as he recovers from an aneurysm, but he will play in the Arizona Fall League. Damaso Marte finally made his return for a bum shoulder, and the team will go with a 13-man pitching staff until Sept. callups. We also finally got definitive word on The Joba Plan.
- The Yankees reached agreements with first round pick Slade Heathcott for $2.2M and second rounder JR Murphy for $1.25M before Monday’s midnight signing deadline. They also signed fifth rounder Caleb Cotham and 16th rounder Bryan Mitchell to six-figure, above slot deals. The Chad Gaudin trade was completed when the Yanks sent San Diego $100,000.
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The Boston Red Sox are a good baseball team. They have a potent offense which, despite a slump after the All-Star Break, ranks up there among the best in the league. They have two of the top starters in the league. Their bullpen, though not as good as it was in April, is still solid. Yet despite how good they are, they’ve run into a team playing even better.
The Yankees flexed their bats once again last night, hammering Sox ace Josh Beckett for eight runs, including five home runs, in eight innings. Derek Jeter started the assault, belting the first pitch of the game into the Red Sox bullpen. Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez each added a blast, and Hideki Matsui had two for the second time in the series. Those five hits accounted for seven of the eight Yankee runs.
The Josh Beckett on the rubber last night was not the Josh Beckett who has pitched most of this season. His funk started last time out in Toronto, when he allowed seven runs in 5.1 innings. He labored a bit in that one, throwing 99 pitches. Last night it seemed a bit different. He ran into more issues with the long ball, but was still able to keep his pitch count at a decent level, and also kept throwing strikes. Though he gave up nine base hits, Beckett walked no one.
CC Sabathia steered clear of the free pass as well. Like Beckett, CC wasn’t at the height of his game, but he was much closer. Trouble brewed in the second, after the Yanks had staked CC to a two-run lead. Again it happened with two outs, after CC struck out the first two batters in the inning. Lowell, Baldelli, and Varitek went double-single-double, tying the score and prompting a collective groan from the Yankees faithful.
That’s as bad as things would get. After a double play helped avert trouble in the third, Robinson Cano made his second error of the night, this one costing the Yanks a run. They had built a 5-2 lead by that point, so the run didn’t hurt as much, but there’s simply no reason to hand the Red Sox additional opportunities. As said in the opening paragraph, they are a good team. They will hurt you if you let them.
Four runs over 6.2 innings might not look great in the box score, but it was still a quality effort by CC. He didn’t walk anyone, and kept his strike to ball ratio in good standing. The Sox did knock out eight base hits against him, but just three of them were doubles. There were no homers. Sabathia also beared down with runners on, as he held the Red Sox to just 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
(Oddly, the Yankees just put three men in scoring position all night, one of whom, Derek Jeter, scored on a Mark Teixeira single. Hey, when you hit five dingers, who needs runners in scoring position?)
The win caps a 7-3 road trip and gives the Yanks a 7.5 game lead in the East. That’s the same lead they had after the previous series. Again, Boston’s a good team that’s run into a team that’s playing just as well if not better. They’ve shaken the 0-8 stigma for good, and even put a dent in the “they can’t win at Fenway” argument with two wins this weekend.
You can say that the Yanks have sealed the division, and on October 4 you might prove to have been right. But there are still a number of good teams in the AL that the Yanks will have to face along the way, and they won’t tread lightly. They’ll have another test right away, as the Rangers, a game behind the Red Sox for the Wild Card, come to town starting Tuesday. Unfortunately, it looks like the Yanks will have to do the Sox a favor.
Phil wins the battle over the rust.
93 pitches for CC. Can he squeeze six more outs out of that arm?
Mike Ashmore says Grant Duff is likely to pitch in the Arizona Fall League. So that’s four definites (Colin Curtis, Ian Kennedy, Brandon Laird, Austin Romine) and three maybes (Duff, Mike Dunn, Zach Kroenke). Double-A Trenton pitching coach Tommy Phelps will definitely coach out there.
Make sure you scroll down for tonight’s game thread.
Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Buffalo)
Kevin Russo & Yurendell DeCaster: both 3 for 4 – Russo doubled & scored a run
Ramiro Pena, Shelley Duncan & Reegie Corona: all 0 for 3, 1 K – Shelley drew a walk
Austin Jackson: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
Colin Curtis: 0 for 4, 1 K
John Rodriguez: 0 for 2, 1 K, 1 HBP
Chris Stewart: 1 for 3, 1 R
Jason Hirsh: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 3-10 GB/FB – 65 of 89 pitches were strikes (73%) … 19 baserunners & 4 ER allowed in 21 IP with SWB
Mike Dunn: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 3-3 GB/FB – 17 of 30 pitches were strikes (56.7%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K – 10 of 12 pitches were strikes
Short but sweet: I’m driving back from the Berkshires with John and Suzyn. You’ve got the ESPN crew as CC and Josh Beckett square off. A win today nearly seals the AL East, and a loss doesn’t matter that much.
I don’t know about you, but night games during the weekend just don’t feel right to me. It’s the weekend, I want to get out and go take in a ballgame during the day then go kick it with some friends at night. Night games completely disrupt that. Now I’ll be sitting here twiddling my thumbs all afternoon waiting for Beckett-CC tonight. Well, not totally, because the draft for the 2009 RAB Fantasy Football League starts at two, so that’ll hold me over. I’ve got the third pick; who should I go with, MJD or Forte?
In a tiny bit of news, old buddy Jason Giambi signed a minor league deal with the Rockies yesterday. Todd Helton isn’t the 160-170 OPS+ monster he was earlier in his career because of age and back injuries, but the dude is still raking to the tune of .322-.404-.499 this year. He’s going to relegate The Big G to pinch hitting duties if he gets the call in September. Regardless, I wish Giambi the best and hopes he gets a chance to do some damage in the postseason.
Anyway, here’s an open thread to hold everyone over for a while. Pedro Martinez is pitching against the Mets at the moment, and if you’ve got Extra Innings or something you can check out the Lincecum-Ubaldo matchup a little later when the Giants take on the Rockies. Colorado leads te NL Wildcard race and SF is just two games back, so this one’s kind of a big deal. You can also watch Adam Warren and the Staten Island Yankees here. Talk about whatever you like here, just be nice.
CC Sabathia has started 26 games so far this season, and has recorded a decision in 21 of them. His current four-game win streak has tied him with Josh Beckett, his opponent tonight, for the AL lead in wins. That seems impressive, especially given Sabathia’s slow start to the season. Yet he could be doing much better if not for those five no-decisions.
The first came early in the season, in that infamous home opening series against the Indians. Sabathia and Cliff Lee dueled, and the former clearly didn’t have his best stuff or command. He tossed 122 pitches through 5.2 innings, which seems like quite a lot, even for a workhorse like Sabathia. After Edwar Ramirez allowed a hit in relief, Phil Coke shut the door on the sixth, leaving Sabathia’s one-run effort in tact. The game was tied at one then, but Cleveland exploded in the top of the seventh, hammering Jose Veras for three runs without him recording an out. Damaso Marte was equally embarrassing, and that led to an Indians victory. Sabathia pitched well, but not deep enough and it cost the Yanks.
The next was the only Sabathia no-decision this year which the team won, the 14-inning affair against Oakland. The Yanks had a 6-5 lead when Sabathia went out for the seventh, but a walk and a single to lead off the inning allowed the A’s to manufacture two runs and tie the game. Strange that the CC no-decision in which the Yankees won is the one where Sabathia is eminently culpable.
Perhaps the most frustrating no-decision came against the Phillies. Sabathia gave up an early lead, but settled down and completed eight innings of three-run ball. The Yanks were down when he left, but by no means did he pitch poorly. In fact, this start was better than many of the starts in which Sabathia recorded a victory. Alas, win-loss record has plenty to do with the offense, and this time around the Yanks couldn’t muster more than two off Cole Hamels. They tied it off Brad Lidge in the ninth for the second consecutive day, but Brett Tomko would blow the game in extras. No-decision for Sabathia, though he pitched much better than that.
Next up is a tough outing at the Stadium against Tampa Bay. Five runs through eight innings isn’t all that great. Yes, you’re giving your team length, but the five runs just hurt. It came mostly in a three-run sixth, which put the Rays out ahead by two. After Sabathia finished the eighth, the Yanks rallied for two in the bottom half, handing the ball to Mariano Rivera in hopes they could walk off with another win in the ninth. Mo was sick that day, though, and gave up four runs in the ninth, sealing the game for the Rays. Not the best start, and Sabathia probably did deserve to lose it. Mo was obviously the bigger story that day.
The final one I’m not sure even counts. It was Sabathia’s 1.1 inning appearance against the Marlins, which he left with biceps tendinitis. He did allow a run in that span, and Aceves did come on to get the Yanks through the fourth inning, but again it was Tomko who blew the lead. Phil Coke didn’t help, and that was it for the Yanks, despite an effort off Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom. Again, it’s hard to hold CC completely responsible. He did, after all, only pitch about as much as a typical reliever.
That’s five no-decisions, two in which he pitched well, two in which he pitched poorly, and one throw-away. So while the Yanks are just 15-11 in games Sabathia has started, it clearly wasn’t always his fault. Sometimes the luck breaks that way. All considered, CC has pitched very well for the Yankees, especially over his last four starts. Here’s hoping he emerges tonight as the league leader in wins.
This is the kind of game that no one wants to relive. It was painful from the outset, and the Sox continued to twist the knife, scoring in five of nine innings. Overall the Sox raked up 15 hits, 11 of which were of the extra base variety. It hurt even more that all but one run came with two outs — and the one that didn’t was a homer by the all-glove Alex Gonzalez. They were harsh on every Yankees pitcher to appear. They were efficient, too, leaving just three men on base.
The Yankees did have their chances, but went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. This included seven men left on base for Hideki Matsui, the star of last night’s game, and six for Melky Cabrera, each of whom left three runners in scoring position with two outs. On a night after the team went 15 for 25 with runners in scoring position, they went 0 for 9 yesterday, leaving 13 men on base. That’s on 12 hits and three walks, with the only run coming on a seventh-inning Nick Swisher home run.
The post-game rhetoric was of Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett not being on the same page. I would hope not. If they were on the same page and A.J. was giving up runs when he was one out away from escaping unscathed, I’d have bigger concerns. They’ve worked together well at points this year, but seem to cross each other up more frequently than other pitcher-catcher combos. They’ll use the remainder of the season to work on that.
Unfortunately, this one will linger for a bit. ESPN has the game, so it’s a day without baseball (unless you want to watch the Mets) until 8 p.m. Expect a light day around these parts, as we’ll be off doing various summer things. But at 8 p.m., our asses will be parked in front of our TVs for CC and Beckett. Please let this be a pitcher’s duel. I don’t think I can stomach much more offense.