Consistency, thy name is not the Yankees.
Tonight’s game was one that, on paper, the Yanks win. They had Andy Pettitte — who, before tonight, was something like 71-33 when pitching the day after a Yankee loss — facing off against the maddeningly frustrating Paul Byrd. I can’t stand watching Byrd pitch against the Yankees; they just can’t get to him despite his array of 82 mile-per-hour fastballs.
Well, tonight seemed a bit different. The Yanks seemed to have overcome an early unearned run and were up 3-1 when Pettitte ran out of gas in a four-run fifth. He exited the game after that inning with a Hughesian 99 pitches — only 56 were strikes. Tonight’s outing was not one of Andy Pettitte’s finest.
Meanwhile, in came Billy Traber, and he did what Billy Traber does best: one inning pitched, one run on one hit and two walks. It would matter little as the Yanks lost 6-4. I have to believe at this point, if the Yankees feel they can survive without a token lefty in the bullpen, they will send down Traber when Shelley Duncan is activated later today. To those of you flipping out at this idea, ask yourself this: Haven’t the Yankees survived so far without an effective lefty? They haven’t been killed by lefties, and they don’t need to waste the roster space.
But all the harping on pitching is moot. The Yankees bats were once again largely silent. Take Jason Giambi‘s 2-for-3 performance out of the equation, and the Yanks were 4 for 29 (.138 BA) with only Hideki Matsui mustering much in the way of offense. It was just one of those nights when consistency from this maddeningly inconsistent Yankee team was nowhere to be found.
- The Yanks are 1-12 when trailing after six innings this season. Wake up, folks. Game’s not over until the 9th.
- Jason Giambi is 6 for his last 13 with 3 home runs. He’s been on base 9 times over his last 16 plate appearances, and his ISO power — a measure of his extra-base hit prowess — is an off-the-charts .306. While his fielding is terrible, we can’t write off his offense yet at all.
- Derek Jeter is 2 for his last 18. Look no further than Derek for a reason why the Yanks have been struggling offensively recently. He’ll snap out of it.
- Congrats to former Yankee and one-time RAB whipping boy Wil Nieves. He hit his first Big League home run last night, and it was of the walk-off variety. Wil will be forever remembered as going 10 for 71 in three seasons in the Bronx and for being a completely inadequate backup catcher last year. He’s doing well with the Nationals in limited duty while Paul LoDuca is injured.
- As the Indians did tonight, teams that are not the White Sox will run off of Jorge Posada until he starts throwing guys out. It’s tough to blame his shoulder for tonight’s stolen bases; Sizemore is a legitimate threat. But Jamey Carroll had no steals prior to tonight, and both runners scored after their stolen-base attempts.
Sorry for the late, and brief, update. I’m not going to do the usual wrap, but you can go to Yankees Prospects, Pending Pinstripes or milb.com to check out the action. Double-A Trenton starter Dan McCutchen was the star of the night, striking out 12 batters against only 2 baserunners and 1 run allowed against New Britain. Regular old DotF will return tomorrow. · (3) ·
It’s nice to see A-Rod slotted back into his usual No. 4 spot. While the lineup has been solid for the past few days, there’s always room for the best hitter in baseball. He’s even playing the field, so we have the “A” lineup out there.
The news isn’t all good, though. We got a tip earlier that Brian Bruney would be out for the season. Turns out that was probably accurate. He tore a ligament in his foot — scrambling to cover first base — and needs surgery. Terrible news for a guy who was looking a bit more dependable than in years past.
Chris Britton and Jonathan Albaladejo come in as reinforcements, though it’s not clear what the other corresponding move will be. Could be Farnsworth to the DL, though we haven’t heard anything on that front for today, or it could be a trip to Scranton for Ross Ohlendorf. I suppose it could also be the designation of Chad Moeller, but with the Yanks facing two lefties this weekend and with two healthy catchers on the roster, you have to figure that Moeller will be swapped for Shelley Duncan tomorrow.
Thought on a possible Ohlendorf demotion: This makes sense if the Yanks are still unsure on Farnsworth. Clearly, neither pitcher would be available tonight, so you have to do something to get an arm in there. Demoting Ohlendorf gives the Yanks another day or two to decide on Farnsworth. If he does hit the DL, the Yanks can simply recall Ohlendorf before the 10-day waiting period, since he’d be replacing an injured player.
While we’re on the bullpen, let’s talk LaTroy Hawkins. Surely, we’re all hating the guy right now. And with so many arms from AAA seeking a promotion, I can understand the fervor over releasing him. But if you remember last season, we had a similar conundrum in Luis Vizcaino. At this point, the Viz had a 6.00 ERA, and would see that balloon all the way to 7.66 on May 25. He had a 2.66 ERA the rest of the way, striking out 50 and walking 24 in 50.2 IP. So don’t count out a turnaround for Hawkins. However, the question still remains of whether the damage he does now would be worth it, even if he did right the ship.
Stay tuned for any updates before game time.
Update: Moeller DFA’d for Britton. So it looks like Albaladejo comes up as Bruney’s injury replacement. That means a three-man bench tonight. Seems we’ll see Shelley tomorrow.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte
I know some Yankee fans who swear by the play-by-play of John Sterling. I try not to hold that against them as friends. In The Post today, Phil Mushnick pens a no-holds barred piece describing just how bad John Sterling really is. He writes that Sterling “may be the worst broadcaster in professional sports.” I doubt John and Phil will be dining together any time soon. (Hat tip to BBTF.) · (49) ·
Billy Witz checks in with Joe Torre in The Times today and finds that Torre does not miss the circus back east.
After his less-than-amicable departure from the Yankees, Torre is settling into a new reality, attempting to restore credibility to a franchise that has won one playoff game in 20 seasons.
There is no fishbowl, no calls from Boss & Sons and no suggestions from above for lineup changes.
On the other hand, there is no $200 million payroll. The Dodgers constitute the Little Engine That Could.
“This is more reminiscent of my first year there,” Torre said of the 1996 Yankees, who won the World Series. “We were underdogs. I remember George telling me in June, ‘Are you doing this with mirrors?’ We didn’t have home run hitters. It drove him nuts because he liked to beat everybody by 10 runs, but we were playing solid baseball.”
Of course, the problem is that the 2008 Dodgers are nothing at all like the 1996 Yankees. The Dodgers right now find themselves treading water at 9-13. They’re in fourth place, seven games behind the Diamondbacks. In 1996, the Yanks were 12-10 after 22 games and found themselves in first place for the first time. They would remain there all season.
Right now, the Dodgers are playing a bit below their run differential. They probably should be 12-10, and in that regard, they are similar to the 1996 Yankees. But Torre in Los Angeles is still doing the things that Torre in New York did that drove us all crazy. Joe Beimel has appeared in 13 games already this season; Scott Proctor, of course, has pitched in 11; and Jonathan Broxton has thrown in nine games.
When Torre took the Dodger job, it seemed like a moment of hubris for the former Yankee skipper. He wanted to prove to the baseball world and his critics that he could win without a $200 million payroll. He wanted to prove that he had what it took to lead a baseball club that needed managing instead of one that could operate fairly well on auto-pilot. Right now, this gambit isn’t working, and I have to wonder if Torre’s legacy would have been better off had he just called it a career after his less-than-friendly divorce from the Yanks in October.
One thing though is for certain: The 2008 Dodgers are not the 1996 Yankees.
Tyler Kepner checks in with info on Brian Bruney’s injury. Bruney injured his foot on Tuesday, and the Yanks fear he has two torn ligaments. With the general consensus being that Kyle Farnsworth’s elbow will push him to the DL as well, this trip to Chicago was not a good one for the Yankee bullpen. Expect some roster moves later today. · (52) ·
Man, Phil was dealing in the early innings tonight, eh? After 23 pitches in two innings, Hughes looked like he was on a roll. According to Gameday — the only reliable gun in town these days — he was hitting 94 in the first inning, and that fastball looked bee-yoo-tee-full.
But then the rains came, and they came for just long enough to ruin the flow. Joe Girardi had to take out the young gun; there’s no way to second-guess this move. After a lengthy rain delay, Phil Hughes just had to come out. And that, folks, was bad luck. Phil seem calm and poised on the mound. It’s a sign of things to come.
When the bullpen took over, things went a bit south. Staked to a 3-0 lead, Ross Ohlendorf threw one good inning and one heinously bad inning. When the dust settled, Ohlendorf had probably punched his temporary ticket to Scranton by giving up 5 runs in short order. With Brian Bruney out and the bullpen overworked, Ohlendorf may get sent down for a little while just so the Yanks can call up some arms. Tough break for the kid right now.
But the going got worse next inning. LaTroy Hawkins served up a meatball to Jim Thome, and Thome, as he had done 512 times prior, deposited the ball over the fence. If Hawkins — Wednesday night’s sacrificial lamb — does his job, the Yanks take a 6-5 lead into the ninth.
The game though ended with Joba Chamberlain‘s recording his first career regular season loss. Chamberlain just didn’t have his best breaking pitches tonight, and in the 9th, he was hit hard by A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Quentin. One of those balls went for an out while the other went for a double. A liner into centerfield off the bat of Joe Crede sent the Yankees off to Cleveland, losers tonight but winners of three of four.
For Joba, tonight’s game simply shows that, yes, he’s fallible. He won’t be perfect forever coming out of the pen. While I’m sure the pro-bullpen contingent will claim that Joba’s faltering in his second inning of work tonight means that he is not suited for the rotation, that is laughably far from the truth. As a pitcher is wont to do now and then, Joba just didn’t have his best stuff. It happens. Just like Jason Giambi‘s fouling out with the two outs and the bases loaded. Just like Jorge Posada hitting into a pinch-hit double play.
Bad luck, bad bullpen, bad breaking balls. We’ll get ‘em in Cleveland tonight.
The combined line for the starters today: 25.1 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 25 K. Wow.
Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Buffalo)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Shelley Duncan & Greg Porter: both 2 for 3 – Shelley homered, had 3 RBI and walked … Porter K’ed
rest of lineup: combined 0 for 18, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Dan Giese: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K – who needs Alan Horne?
Heath Phillips: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – only the second & third hits he’s allowed this year
Scott Patterson & Jose Veras: both 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Every five or six days, for better or worse, it will be a big start for Phil Hughes. While that might be unfair, it’s reality. With every poor start, the detractors grow in numbers and increase in rabidity. Phil can’t make them go away with a quality outing, but he can certainly piss on their fire.
As noted earlier, Johnny Damon has something of a hot streak brewing, as he’s 7 for his last 14, with a pair of doubles and a pair of dingers. The guy hitting behind him has six fewer hits in his last 14 at bats. But if they get going at the same time, whoo-boy, we’re in for an offensive explosion — not that we’ve been lacking over the past three games.
After a stellar night, Jorge sits. It seems like a good idea at this point to give him some rest. You don’t want to risk anything with his shoulder. So Hava Molina gets the start behind the dish. One has to wonder how much longer Chad Moeller will hang around, especially since the Yanks face two lefties this weekend. Shelley Duncan could prove useful.
A-Rod is with the team. Not sure what his status is, though. Maybe he could pinch hit?
And on the mound, number thirty-four, Phil Hughes