As the Yanks enjoy a day off prior to a trip up to America’s Hat, I’m sure more than a few of them are thinking, “Why can’t we do that everyday?”
Today’s final — a 15-6 drubbing of the Royals — belies the early-inning struggles. Before Johnny Damon had a chance to step up to the plate, Mike Mussina had given up three runs, and it seemed like it was going to be one of those one-and-done starts for Moose. But, as he’s done a few times this season, Mussina bore down. He can taste 20 wins, and he knew he’d have to stop the bleeding early on to give the Yankee bats a chance to get back in it.
Well, the Yankee bats — missing for much of the season — weren’t about to let him down. The lineup turned over in the bottom of the first, and before Brian Bannister could catch his breath, the Yanks — behind a three-run home run from A-Rod and yet another blast by Xavier Nady — were up 6-3. Mussina pitched into and out of trouble in the second, and the Yanks went back to work.
Single. Walk. Walk. Grand Slam. There goes Bannister with a line of 1 IP and 10 ER. Bannister’s ERA went up by 0.60 runs today, and on August 17, that’s a tough act to accomplish.
The rest of the game would play out fairly painlessly. After that first inning, Mussina would give up no more runs and just two hits in the second. He’s now, unbelievably, 16-7 on the season and could, if the Yanks keep him on regular rest despite off days, have nine shots to win four games. Twenty is well within reach.
Offensively, the Yanks really needed a day like today. Derek Jeter went 4 for 4 to push his average up to .295. It’s the closest he’s been to .300 since May 22. A-Rod, 3 for 3, reached base all five times up and drove in five. His game-tying three-run home run in the 1st came amidst a renewed attention to his struggles this year with runners in scoring position. Brett Gardner went 2 for 5 and is now 5 for 14 since replacing Melky Cabrera in center field.
Up in Boston, the Red Sox were creamed by the Blue Jays, and commentators are wondering if Josh Beckett is injured. That Wild Card deficit is down to five games, and the Yanks are beginning to instill hope and faith in their supporters. We’ll find out soon whether this is just another round of false hope or if the Yanks are going to mount an improbable run. Here’s to hoping for the latter.
Long time RAB reader and commentor Adam Puzio (aka Lancer) was down in Allentown today to check out Phil Hughes and the Triple-A Scranton Yanks take on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, and he was kind enough to take a whole bunch of pictures. As you can see, Phil’s rockin’ his new specs on the mound, but considering the results, maybe they’re not all they’re cracked up to be. You can check out of the pics on Adam’s server.
Tropical Storm Fay is closing in on the mainland, so it looks like the Florida State League and Gulf Coast League will be inactive for a few days this week.
Triple-A Scranton (9-6 win over Lehigh Valley)
Melky: 1 for 1, 2 R, 4 BB, 1 SB – this is a joke, right? who is that man and what has he done with Melky Cabrera???
Matt Carson & Nick Green: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 K – Carson swiped a bag & threw a runner out at home from LF … Nick Green hit a 2-run homer off a former first overall pick
Juan Miranda & Eric Duncan: both 3 for 5 – Miranda scored 3 runs, homered, drove in 3 & K’ed … E-Dunc scored a run, drove one in & was caught trying to steal a base
Shelley Duncan: 2 for 3, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Ben Broussard: 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K
Chad Moeller: 4 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B
Phil Hughes: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 3-3 GB/FB – 63 of 91 pitches were strikes (69.2%) … started to tire in the third as his pitch count got up there … I think he needs at least one more start in the minors before he help the big league club
Zack Kroenke: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 3-3 GB/FB – 30 of 48 pitches were strikes (62.5%) … nice AAA debut
Scott Patterson: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0-3 GB/FB – 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (68.6%)
Mike will have more in DotF later tonight, but since the masses are clamoring for it, here you go: Phil Hughes lasted just 3.2 innings today in what could have been a final AAA tune-up. While he struck out four and threw 63 of 91 pitches for strikes, he allowed five earned runs on eight hits, a home run and a hit batter. Chad Jennings reports that Hughes’ velocity was down a tick or two today, and after a strong start, he just didn’t have his stuff. Considering that Hughes is still coming back from a very long lay-off, this sounds like a dead arm period for the righty. Needless to say, another AAA start is probably in his future. · (20) ·
In eight months, this will all be finished. (Photo via Sliding Into Home)
Over the last nine months, Sliding Into Home has been chronicling the rise of the new Yankee Stadium. And the August pictures show a glimpse into a stadium well on its way toward completion. While the field is still a wreck — the grass is the last part of the stadium to be installed — lots of other aspects of the new stadium are coming into focus. You can catch them all here. Below are links to some of my favorites:
When April ended, a baseball lifetime ago, the three of us here at River Ave. Blues were eating our words a bit when it came to one Melky Cabrera. Long doubters of the long-term viability of the Yanks’ center fielder, we had just witnessed Melky put up a .299/.370/.494 line with five home runs and 12 RBI. Melky, it seemed, had finally emerged as a bona fide Major Leage hitter.
And then everything fell apart. On May 4, Melky hit his sixth home run of the season, and the two RBIs gave him 17 on the season. Since then, however, Melky’s season has been an utter abomination.
From May 6 onward, Melky managed 322 plate appearances. He hit .225/.273/.279 with 11 extra-base hits and 19 RBIs. He struck out 42 times, and many Yankee-watchers figured that his August benching and subsequent demotion came approximately a month too late. I, surprisingly, disagree, and as the teams have passed since Melky’s optioning to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I’m still trying to comes to terms with the Yanks’ decision.
By sending Melky Cabrera down to AAA, the Yanks are basically telling everyone — Melky, the 29 other clubs, the rest of the team — that they are giving up on him. Sure, Joe Girardi can tell us that Melky needs to “go work on some things,” and Cashman can proclaim Melky to be “a better player than this.” But that’s just lip service the Yanks are paying to the press and whatever remains of Melky’s self-esteem.
The truth remains that Melky Cabrera is a three-year Major League veteran and that in each of his three seasons, his offensive production has gotten progressively worse. Considering that he was never really an elite hitting prospects in the first place, it’s hard right now to envision him as a player with much long-term potential at the Major League level.
With this demotion, the Yanks have broadcast this belief and the reality of it all to any potential trading partner, and they’ve done so in a way that is designed to destroy Melky’s confidence. Is it any wonder, then, that as of Saturday night, Cabrera still hadn’t reported to AAA?
For the Yankees to turn Melky Cabrera into something worthwhile, they will have to package him in a trade this off-season. Once upon a time — two years ago — the Yanks could have built a trade around Melky Cabrera and, perhaps, another pitching prospect. But now, any team trading with the Yanks will view Melky as a throw-in and one that got demoted in the heat of a pennant race at that.
Make no mistake about it; Melky Cabrera did not deserve any more playing time as a starter in the Yankee outfielder. But any value he had to the team is long gone. What the Yanks plan to do to reclaim that value and rebuild Melky Cabrera is anyone’s guess.
Should probably get this up before first pitch, huh? Let’s get a little hot streak going.
1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. Nady, LF
7. Cano, 2B
8. Molina, C
9. Walk-off hit machine, CF
And on the mound, the guy we all hope gets that elusive 20-win season this year, Mikey Moose.
Over the last few weeks, as the Yanks have slipped in the AL East and Wild Card standings, Yankee fans, looking for a scapegoat, have found their favorite target in Number 13. A-Rod, as everyone knows by now, isn’t hitting well with runners in scoring position this year, and for some reason, this is reason enough to blame an entire disappointing season on the $27-million-man’s shoulders. While we’ve always been on Alex’s side, David Pinto points out a trend: A-Rod’s strike out rates with runners on base are significantly higher than they are with bases empty. With no one on, A-Rod strikes out 15.4 percent of the time; with runners on, that number nearly doubles to 28.2 percent. As Pinto writes, “He’s not even giving the runners a chance to advance 1/4 of the time.” · (17) ·
The Kansas City Royals are no one’s definition of a good baseball team. They’re 55-68 and in last place, 14.5 games behind the AL Central-leading duo of Minnesota and Chicago. When the Royals come to the Bronx, then, the Yanks should be able to put them away.
On Saturday, the Yanks put them away, but they do so excruciatingly. It took 13 innings and a whole lotta futility before the Yanks won a game they needed to win to keep their slim October hopes alive. With Roy Halladay spoiling Paul Byrd’s Boston debut, the Yanks creeped to within six of the Wild Card-leading Red Sox.
For the Yanks, this had all the trappings of One of Those Days. Sidney Ponson gutted it out, again, through 6.1 innings. He held the Royals to two runs and allowed a respectable nine baserunners. But when he left, the Yanks were facing a seemingly insurmountable 2-0 deficit.
In the bottom of the seventh, things started going their way. A-Rod, much maligned recently for his struggles with runners on base, reached on an error. While Jason Giambi walked, Xavier Nady hit into a double play. Cano then blasted an RBI triple and scored on a wild pitch. One hit, two runs, none of them earned. At this point in the season, I’ll take anything.
As the game dragged on past the eighth, ninth, tenth, the Yanks’ offensive woes mounted, but the pitching held up. In relief of Ponson, the Yanks’ bullpen threw 6.2 innings, allowing just one hit and three walks. Meanwhile, the Yanks hit into four double plays and left 13 runners on base against a last place team.
Finally, in the bottom of the 13th, Robinson Cano, a hero six innings earlier, started off the game-ending rally. With one out, Cano singled and advanced to second on an Ivan Rodriguez out. Brett Gardner, in for an exiled Melky Cabrera, singled to left — his third hit of the day and second walk-off of the season — and Cano scored.
It wasn’t pretty; it took too long; but it got the job done. With help on the way — Joba says he’s feeling good, Hideki’s rehabbing, Phil Hughes tosses for AAA and a potential MLB start later today — the Yanks may just have enough in them yet. That is, after all, why they play the games.
Triple-A Scranton (12-9 win over Lehigh Valley in 10 innings) 13 of the 21 combined runs were scored in the ast two-and-a-half innings … yikes
Bernie Castro, Ben Broussard & Chad Moeller: all 2 for 5 – Castro drew a walk, scored 3 runs & committed a fielding error … Broussard scored a pair of runs & K’ed … Moeller doubled, scored a run & K’ed thrice
Matt Carson: 2 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K – still playing CF because Melky hasn’t shown up yet
Juan Miranda: 1 for 6, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
Shelley Duncan: 3 for 6, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1 K – gave SWB the lead in the 10th with a 2-run homer off an old friend … he also chipped in a 2-run single later in the inning
Jason Lane: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Eric Duncan: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K, 2 E (both fielding) – first homer since July 20th
Chase Wright: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 12-3 GB/FB – 46 of 79 pitches were strikes (.582) … took a no-hitter into the 6th
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 8 of 11 pitches were strikes (72.7%) … worked back-to-back days for the first time as a pro
Phil Coke: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB
Scott Patterson: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K - came in to face one batter, and he struck him out on 3 pitches
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K – 18 of 33 pitches were strikes (54.5%) … blew the save in Heilmanian fashion
JB Cox: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 0-2 GB/FB – did his best to give back the 7-spot they scored in the top of the 10th
Steven Jackson: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1-0 GB/FB - seems like he’s been the designated jam getter-outer of late