While the core of the Yankee lineup has recently been hitting the tar out of the baseball, Hideki Matsui has not. In 57 June plate appearances, Matsui is batting .260/.351/.340 with just two extra-base hits. He’s hit just one home run since May 18.

Matsui has always been something of a streaky hitter, but something larger seems to be up. Hideki is not in the Yankee lineup tonight, and his left knee is under examination. Matsui, according to PeteAbe, will get his knee drained and may be heading for the MRI tube. He’s definitely not available for tonight’s contest, and I’m sure he’ll be sitting during tomorrow afternoon’s game as well. The good news, at least, is that this is not the same knee Matsui got surgically repaired last year.

The Yankees can ill afford another injury right now, and they will take every precaution possible with Matsui and his balky knees. The hot-hitting Jason Giambi gets the start at DH, and the swing-at-everything Wilson Betemit will attempt to man the first-base bag.

On the hill tonight is Darrell Rasner. Once the Cinderella story of the season, Rasner has struggled — or is that regressed? — a bit over this last four outings. He is 0-4 with a 5.09 ERA over that span, and he’s allowed 31 hits in 23 innings. He’s keeping the walks down and the strike outs up, but opponents are hitting .326/.356/.495 off of him. We need the good Darrell Rasner to re-emerge, and the weak-hitting Padres may be just the key. San Diego countering with Jake Peavy, one of the few legitimate stars on the team.

Damon LF
Jeter SS
Abreu RF
Rodriguez 3B
Giambi DH
Posada C
Cano 2B
Betemit 1B
Cabrera CF

Rasner P

Game Notes: The Yankees have re-signed Sidney Ponson. Sir Sidney finds himself in Scranton for now but could start one of the games of next Friday’s Subway Series double header.

Categories : Game Threads
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This space reserved for restaurants. (Photo by Ben K.)

New baseball stadiums these days are all about the synergy. Restaurants, bars and kiddie-oriented theme parks dominate the stadiums while the game can often become a secondary enjoyment. In fact, the teams operating the ballparks would rather see their patrons frequent the restaurants and spend their bucks on booze.

With old Yankee Stadium, the Yankees’ entertainment options have long been limited. While the team is rolling in dough, the men holding the purse strings have seen the revenue opportunities available as new stadiums have popped up across the country. With the new stadium, the Yanks have the opportunity to expand this economic base, and they’re wasting no time in doing so. The Yankees and the Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment company announced a new partnership and two restaurants planned for the new stadium.

Per the Yankees’ press release:

The New York Yankees announced today that they have agreed to enter into a long-term agreement with Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment to open a 7,000-square-foot Hard Rock Cafe in the new Yankee Stadium. In addition, YGE Steakhouses, an affiliate of the Yankees’ parent company, Yankee Global Enterprises, has joined with Hard Rock Entertainment to create the newly-branded NYY Steak, a prime steakhouse also slated for the new Yankee Stadium. Both restaurants will be operated year-round. The agreement also permits the parties to explore other NYY Steak locations.

Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium will be located on the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue and feature seating for 210 guests. It will be open year-round to ticketholders and non-ticketholders alike with a full bar and patio seating. The restaurant will house memorabilia from top artists, with an emphasis on New York-area talent and additional Yankees-related pieces.

NYY Steak will open above the Hard Rock Cafe in right field in the new Yankee Stadium. Based on the successful Council Oak Steak & Seafood Restaurants at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla., the new restaurant will occupy 6,300 square feet of space with seating for 128 guests. The restaurant will be open throughout the year and have extended hours on game days. It will be operated by Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment.

While the anti-new stadium skeptic in me looks at this deal as simply another strike against the new stadium — going to a game is about seeing baseball and not Rock ‘n’ Roll history — this is one move the Yanks have made that benefits the community. Now, instead of just offering off-season tours, Yankee Stadium will become a tourist attraction in the South Bronx. The restaurants will employ, according to Yanks’ COO Lonn Trost, local union members in full- and part-time capacities throughout the year, and its year-round business will draw people to that corner of the Bronx after baseball season ends.

From a construction standpoint, I can’t quite figure out where this restaurant is going to be. Earlier reports had some restaurants in center field, but this press release says right. The picture above shows the right field entrances, and we don’t yet know what will be behind those walls. Either way, the new stadium will feature a Hard Rock Cafe and a NYY Steak restaurant. Love it or hate it, it’s the ballpark wave of the present.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Ugh
    By

    Welcome back, Sidney. The most famous Aruban baseball player, recently released from the Rangers for his bad behavior, will report to Scranton and is now first in line for a rotation spot. Where’s my Aruban judge? I owe him a kick to the head. (And, yes, I know: Low risk, high reward. But still.) · (30) ·

Personally, I can’t stand the idea that the All Star Game counts for something. The game itself is nothing more than a glorified exhibition contest designed to showcase some of the best talent around while celebrating the game. The voting is nothing more than a popularity contest.

So every year, when the voting comes around, it’s a bit laughable when the true All Stars aren’t the ones getting the vote. What makes this year’s voting more ironic — at least from the Yankee/Red Sox perspective — is that the fans of the Red Sox, the AL’s front-runners right now, are voting for their own players when it would behoove their chances for that home field advantage in the World Series to vote for the Yankees (and a few non-Yankees). I wonder if Boston fans can handle that cognitive dissonance.

Let’s take a look at the most recent voting results, starting with the first basemen.

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Categories : All Star Game
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  • Sympathy for an old friend
    By

    The Yankees feel bad for Willie Randolph. While Jorge Posada understands the politics of baseball, both he and Derek Jeter praised Randolph for his baseball skills and demeanor. Based on Brian Cashman’s statements, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Willie rejoin the Yankees in a Front Office capacity before too long. · (5) ·

  • Mike Mussina, candyman
    By

    Joe Girardi irked a few Yankees earlier this year when he banned unhealthy food from the post-game spread. Ever looking for edge, Mike Mussina made a deal: When Moose reaches 10 wins, the ice cream returns. Well, Mussina won his tenth game on the road, and the ice cream is back. Once Moose reached 12 wins, the donuts can return, and 15 wins will bring back the candy. If that’s what’s keeping Moose dealin’ this year, maybe the Yanks should have tried this sooner. · (14) ·

On Friday, July 7, 2006, the Yankees were in Tampa Bay facing the Devil Rays for a weekend series. Jaret Wright, then 4-5, was on the hill against Jae Seo. It was hardly a match-up for the ages.

That evening, Wright had his best performance as a Yankee. He threw six four-hit innings while striking out ten before giving way to Scott Proctor (two K’s) and Mariano Rivera (two K’s). A fourth-inning RBI single off the bat of Bernie Williams would account for the only run of the game, and the Yanks would improve to 49-35 on the year.

That date matters to us tonight because of the strike outs. That night, Yankee pitchers struck out 14 Rays, and it wouldn’t be for another one year, 11 months and 10 days, that the Bombers’ staff would reach such gaudy strike out numbers again.

Last night, facing the weakest offense in the Majors, the Yankees’ pitchers went to work. Andy Pettitte threw seven strong, striking out nine, before giving way to Jose Veras and his two strike outs. Mariano Rivera came in for the 9th and dispatched the Padres, nailing down three K’s on 15 pitches. And that, folks, is the Yanks’ first 14-strike out game since 2006.

For Pettitte and the Yankees still reeling from the Chien-Ming Wang injury, this game was huge. Andy Pettitte has now thrown 15 innings over his last two starts. After giving up 10 runs to the Royals a few weeks ago, Pettitte has allowed 10 hits in 15 innings while giving up one run on two walks and 15 strike outs. Pettitte passed Ron Guidry on the Yanks’ all-time win list last night, and at a time when the Yanks need Pettitte the most, he seems to be rounding into shape.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, we have Jason Giambi, who is hitting everything with authority. Tonight, Giambi blasted two home runs. One sneaked over the short porch in right field, and the other was an opposite-field shot a hair to the left-field side of center. I was at the game tonight, and that second dinger was gone off the bat. All 52,000 fans in the stadium knew it.

In his own way, Jason Giambi is having something of an MVP caliber season. Through April 20, he had been hitting .109/.288/.283 and nearly every Yankee fan outside of our own Jamal G. thought he was through. But since then, he’s had a monster season. Following tonight’s 2-for-3 performance, Giambi is now hitting .319 over his last 45 games. His OBP during that span is .441, and he’s slugging .694. He’s homered 15 and has 34 RBI. That’s simply sick.

The Yanks are riding high on a five-game winning streak, and it’s hard to argue with that. They face Jake Peavy tonight, never an easy feat, but with the way this team is hitting, look out.

Categories : Game Stories
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Update: Jesus Montero finished second behind Hagerstown’s Michael Burgess in the Sally League HR Derby. Montero hit 11 homers total.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Norfolk)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 5, 2 K – 5 for his last 24
Justin Christian: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B – 15 for his last 35 (.429)
Cody Ransom, Juan Miranda, Nick Green & Chris Stewart: all 1 for 4 – Miranda drove in a run & K’ed … Green hit a solo shot & K’ed thrice … Stewart doubled, scored a run & K’ed
Shelley Duncan: 0 for 0, 4 BB, 1 SB – picked off second … still hitless in his return to the minors, but at least he brings spark and energy … he’s put the ball in play just twice since going back down
Jason Lane: 0 for 4, 3 K
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 7 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 9-9 GB/FB – 61 of 90 pitches were strikes (67.8%)
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Heath Phillips: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – opponents are hitting .310 off him

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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While the Yanks won’t feel the effects of Chien-Ming Wang‘s absence until Saturday, this is their first official game without him. Hence the mildly inappropriate title.

Couple of notes from PeteAbe (because you haven’t seen his game thread yet, right?). Dan Giese is official for Saturday. If he can give us a couple of decent starts — six or seven innings, three or four runs each time out — it’ll be tough to complain. Ian Kennedy won’t be up anytime soon, at least not in time for the Mets doubleheader a week from Friday. The time in AAA will do him good. Yes, I just said that.

Apparently, Brian Cashman is intrigued by the hot start of Trenton righty Al Aceves. He’s not exactly young; eight months younger than yours truly. But he’s dealing in Trenton right now, having walked just three guys in 36 innings, striking out 29, and sporting an even 2.00 ERA. Cashman, though, said he’d need at least a little time at Scranton before the Yanks will consider him. Does that mean he’ll be promoted soon?

Good find from Mike. John Moores, owner of the Padres, has taken his entire staff to New York so they can experience the old Stadium before it is no more. Sounds like a boss I’d like to work for.

And finally, your lineups:

1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Jason Giambi, 1B
7. Jorge Posada, C
8. Robinson Cano, 2B
9. Melky Cabrera, CF

And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.

Categories : Game Threads
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