In celebration of our nation’s independence, the Yankees decided to stage an epic battle against our neighbors to the north. A few lead changes made the early innings interesting, and at the end of nine they were tied at five. The game wouldn’t end any time soon thereafter.

The story of the day, as we all knew going in, was Chien-Ming Wang — though it wasn’t quite for the reasons we expected. He pitched well through the first two innings, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk. Even the runs — a bloop ground rule double to right by Vernon Wells followed by a chopper up the middle by Alex Rios — were forgivable. Things weren’t so nice in the sixth.

Marco Scutaro led off the inning with a double, and after an Aaron Hill groundout Adam Lind parked one over the right field wall, staking the Blue Jays to a 4-3 lead. After throwing one pitch to Scott Rolen Wang was done. Jorge Posada called out the trainer after he saw something. After the game he said that Wang “didn’t throw that ball.” Not good news, especially because of his effective early innings.

We’ll be sure to discuss the Wang injury in a bit more depth tomorrow morning. For now, all we have is the word from Girardi, which came after Wang had an MRI. “Shoulder strain and some bursitis,” he explained. “I’m confident he’ll be back, but I can’t tell you exactly when.” The plan for now wounds like rest and rehab, but that could certainly change. Wang, you will remember, had a rotator cuff injury after the All-Star break in 2005, and made it back for September with rest and rehab.

David Robertson didn’t help matters in relief, walking the first two batters he faced before allowing another Blue Jays run. Brian Bruney had his own struggles in the seventh, loading the bases with one out before getting Scott Rolen to pop out and Lyle Overbay to line out to finish the inning without any damage. It’s a good thing, because the Yanks mounted their comeback in the seventh.

Derek Jeter singled to lead off the inning, and Johnny Damon put one over the short porch to tie the game up. It was the fifth run the Yankees scored off Roy Halladay. How many runs had Halladay allowed in his last five outings against the Yankees? It was the most runs he’d allowed to the Yankees in six years. Yankees fans knew this all too well, making today’s game just a bit sweeter. He is human, after all.

The Yanks had chances in both the eighth and ninth, but trends from earlier in the game came back to haunt them. In every inning one through seven, either Robinson Cano or Brett Gardner ended the inning. That continued through the last two frames, as Gardner ended the eight with a strikeout, leaving Cody Ransom, pinch-running for Hideki Matsui after a ground rule double, stranded on second. The Yanks again put a runner in scoring position with two outs in the ninth, as Derek Jeter tagged up from first on a long fly ball. Can grounded out to second to end that frame.

After both teams failed to score in the 10th and 11th and Brett Tomko retired the Blue Jays in the 12th, Cano had another chance. Mark Teixeira led off with a double, leaving the door open for Cito Gaston to walk Alex Rodriguez. Girardi put on the bunt sign, which makes sense in this situation. Cano has been in a funk lately, especially with runners in scoring position. Shawn Camp let him off the hook, though, throwing three straight balls. but then on 3-0, Cano showed bunt again, tapping one in front of the mound. Raul Chavez pounced on it and got Mark Teixeira at third. Cano had just wasted an out on an ill-advised bunt attempt.

“Let’s just say that somebody missed something,” Girardi said after the game. “He misunderstood something.” The mental gaffe could, and probably should, land Cano on the bench tomorrow. Gardner, who is 0 for 15 since his five-hit night at Citi Field, could join him to give Eric Hinske his first Yankees start.

Ah, but the game is not yet over, at least as far as concerns this recap. Before pontificating on the near-term ramifications of Cano’s and Gardner’s slumps, we were left with runners on first and second with one out and Jorge Posada on the plate. After looking at two pitches, a ball and a strike. The third one would end the game. Jorge punched it into right-center, plating Alex Rodriguez to cap a 6-5 Independence Day win. I can’t imagine the horrors of having lost to Canada.

It wasn’t a pretty game, but a win’s a win. Combined with a Red Sox loss, the Yanks are just a game out of the division lead. Not that it matters at this point. We’re not even halfway through, so winning games is the only thing the Yanks, and their fans, need to worry about.

It was supposed to be Joba vs. Scott Richmond tomorrow, but late word came that Richmond will hit the DL. The Yanks will face rookie Brett Cecil for the series win.

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By in Down on the Farm. · Comments (26) ·

What? Don’t look at me like that, it’s a holiday. I’m allowed one of these once in a while.

  • Triple-A Scranton‘s game was postponed because the field was a swamp. They’ll play two tomorrow.
  • Double-A Trenton and New Britain are tied at 6 in the 11th inning as of this writing. New Britain took the lead in the top of the 10th, but Eduardo Nunez smacked a 2 run job to tie in the bottom half. Jesus Montero is 0 for 4 at the moment.
  • Austin Romine took an 0-fer as High-A Tampa fell 4-0 to Lakeland.
  • Low-A Charleston broke out the whoopin’ stick on Asheville, pounding them for a 14-4 victory. Jose Pirela went 3 for 6 with 3 doubles while Corban Joseph went 4 for 6 with 3 XBH and 4 steaks. Manny Banuelos allowed 1 run and 5 baseunners in 6 innings.
  • Short Season Staten Island squeaked by Lowell 2-0. Kyle Higashioka doubled and Neil Medchill drove in a pair of runs while everyone who took the mound did a terrific job.
  • Kelvin DeLeon went deep and Jose Mojica ripped a pair of doubles as the Rookie GCL Yanks downed the GCL Pirates 4-2. Matt Richardson was excellent on the mound again, and Mikey O’Brien made his season debut in relief.
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July 4th Open Thread

By in Open Thread. · Comments (148) ·

While you’re waiting for the sky to light up, sit down and chill out here in our open thread. Talk about whatever you want, just be nice to each other.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July everyone.

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  • Phillies made an offer for Wang

    Via some schmuck at MLBTR, the Phillies offered the Yanks an unknown prospect for Chien-Ming Wang, but apparently the prospect was not to their liking.  After sticking with Wang through all his early season struggles, you can bet the Yanks weren’t going to just give him up for a prospect. If they’re going to move him, they’re going to want a significant piece in return. · (53) ·

Bonus baseball.

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Chien-Ming Wang left today’s game after 5.1 innings with an unknown injury. We’ll update once we find out what it is.

Update (3:23pm): Strained right shoulder for Wang. He’ll have an MRI later today. Hello DL.

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The Yanks have their work cut out for them today, as the almighty Roy Halladay will toe the rubber for the visiting Blue Jays. Thankfully the Yanks will have Jorge Posada back in the lineup after a two day rest brought on by a sore thumb. Mo knows they’ll need all the help they can get.

Have a Happy Fourth everyone, whether you’re spending it with us and the Yankees or someone else.

Here’s today’s lineup:

Jeter, SS
Damon, LF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Matsui, DH
Melky, RF
Gardner, CF

And on the mound, Chien-Ming Wang.

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  • Happy Birthday, Big Stein

    George Steinbrenner turns 79 today, and although he’s scaled back his involvement with the team, his impact still resonates throughout the organization. The New York Yankees wouldn’t be what they are or where they are today without him.

    Happy Birthday, big guy. And thanks.
    · (8) ·

Every year ESPN The Magazine ranks all of the sports franchises across the four major sports leagues for their Ultimate Team Rankings feature. Each team is graded against eight categories — title track, ownership, coaching, players, fan relations, affordability, stadium experience and overall bang for the buck — and the magazine publishes the standings.

Earlier this week, the Worldwide Leaders released the 2009 edition of the Ultimate Team Rankings, and the Yankees did not perform so well. The team is ranked an absurdly low 107, ahead of also-rans and disasters such as the Knicks, Clippers, Bengals and Islanders. They are ranked just 27th in the “title track” department, despite a lofty payroll and the third best record in Major League baseball, and they find themselves far behind the Angels, the overall No. 1 team, the Red Sox (58) and even the hapless Mets (82).

A few months ago, as ESPN was putting together this list, I spoke with Eddie Matz, the reporter assigned to write up the piece on the Yankees. At the time, the team was struggling, and people were complaining about the new stadium. Furthermore, with no George Steinbrenner-type figure atop the Yankee Front Office, even the ownership seemed in flux. In the end though, the new stadium dragged down the team. Matz writes:

How do you replace a legend? You don’t. That’s what fans are saying about the new Yankee Stadium, which ranked a surprising 37 spots lower than Babe’s house did a year ago. (Among outdoor AL parks, only Oakland’s, Minny’s and Tampa’s rated worse!) Sure, the new crib has double-wide concourses that circle the park. Yeah, the seats have as many as 10 inches more legroom, and the 101-foot-wide scoreboard is seven times larger than its predecessor. Plus there’s a Hard Rock Cafe and cupholders and family bathrooms. So what’s missing? A certain je ne sais quoi. “It just doesn’t have that same feel,” says Ben Kabak of fansite

In fact, the only feeling most fans have is the need to knock off a bank to pay for a date with the Bombers: For the price of an average Yanks ticket ($72.97, up 76% and the most in baseball by more than 20 bucks), you could buy five — count ‘em, five — average seats (a lot more if you were going for the cheapos) at a D-backs game. Steak sandwiches for $15 from Lobel’s don’t cut the mustard either. Yes, it’s tough replacing a legend. And right now the sound filling Yankee Stadium isn’t the actual Voice of God (retired PA announcer Bob Sheppard) but an honest-to-goodness Bronx cheer.

The use of “right now” in that last sentence is certainly out-dated. As the Yanks find themselves just a few games out of first, the stadium has been filled with cheers of a different nature. Meanwhile, fans have come to embrace the new stadium for what it is: a spot to watch the Yankees play baseball. It may not be the old Yankee Stadium, but it is home.

Take a look at ESPN’s final Yankee rankings:

Title Track: 27
Ownership: 64
Coaching: 83
Players: 81
Fan Relations: 101
Affordability: 121
Stadium Experience: 84
Bang for the Buck: 119

That affordability number is completely skewed by the expensive seats. True, the average ticket price is up, but it’s easy to find an affordable seat at Yankee Stadium. The team has also made an effort to improve their fan relations, and the players — one of the more talented collection in any sport — deserve higher than 81.

In the end, this seems to be more Yankee negativity coming out of Bristol. It’s far better for sales if the Yanks are ranked lower. Everyone likes to beat up on the Bombers because everyone is jealous of them. It just makes winning that much sweeter.

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A day after the Yankees disappointed by losing the finale of the Mariners series, they came back to impress by taking the series opener from the Blue Jays, 4-2. The Yanks had it working from both sides of the ball, riding solid pitching for all nine innings and getting a few key offensive contributions along the way.

Robinson Cano staked the Yanks to an early lead, taking a first pitch from Brian Tallet deep for a 1-0 lead. That would last A.J. Burnett for a few innings. He had a slip-up when Lyle Overbay doubled to open the fourth. While Burnett quelled a threat when Marco Scutaro doubled to lead off the previous frame, he ran into some bad luck with a wild pitch, and then Alex Rios took advantage with an RBI single. It was the closest the Jays would get for the rest of the game.

Tallet seemingly lost it in the fifth, walking Brett Gardner and then Derek Jeter to put two runners on with none out. Johnny Damon wanted to make that second and third with one out for Teixeira by bunting, but Tallet rolled his underhand throw to Overbay and everyone was safe. Tex drew a walk to take the lead back, and a passed ball gave the Yanks a 2-1 lead. Vernon Wells would get one back with a no-doubt-about-it shot in the sixth, but Burnett would easily finish that inning and the next.

Girardi continued his love affair with match-ups, trotting out Phil Coke to start the eighth and then calling on Phil Hughes once Coke retired Adam Lind. Hughes started off rocky with a single to Scott Rolen, but he retired the next two batters to hand the ball to Mo. A-Rod would tack on an insurance run with an opposite-field homer off Jeremy Accardo in the eighth to ice the Yankees 4-2 win.

The Yankees face two games straight which they should have one, and it’s a bit disappointing that they only took one of them. Yeah, it happens. Teams lose games they’re supposed to win. But tomorrow they not only face Roy Halladay, but have a handicap on the mound with Chien-Ming Wang. Who knows. Maybe Wang works some July Fourth magic. He’d better. We don’t want our team losing to a bunch of Canadians on Independence Day.

(I say that in drunken jest. Please take it as such.)

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