Sabathia, offense roll over Mariners as Yanks head into All Star break

With the bitter taste of Joba Chamberlain‘s 8th meltdown still in their mouths, the Yankees showed up to Safeco Field on Sunday as a team on a mission. CC Sabathia shut down the Mariners deep into the game, the offense piled on runs early and often, and the final result was an 8-2 win that seemed far more lopsided than that. Both Tampa Bay and Boston won, so the Yanks’ lead in the AL East remains at two games.

Photo Credit: John Froschauer, AP

Biggest Hit: Take Your Pick

The Yanks offense was rather relentless today, pounding Mariners’ starter Ryan Rowland-Smith for six runs in just four innings of work, and it could have been a whole lot worse if not for some great outfield defense. A pair of errors by Seattle’s defense led to a pair of Yankee runs in the first, but singles by Mark Teixeira and Jorge Posada helped as well. They scored two runs in the 1st, one in the 3rd, three in the 4th, and two in the 5th.

Tex finished the day with four hits, Posada and Marcus Thames with two each, and Brett Gardner reached twice on walks. Yankee hitters attacked early and often, capitalizing on errors, balls lost in the sun, wild pitches, you name it. I also remember no fewer than five balls caught right at the wall by Mariners’ outfielders, two off the bat off Robbie Cano, so the score could have been even more one-sided.

CC on Cruise Control

Photo Credit: John Froschauer, AP

It doesn’t get much better than CC Sabathia when he’s on his game. The big lefty skated right through the first five innings of this one, retiring 11 in a row before Michael Saunders, Ichiro, and Chone Figgins touched him up for singles to lead off the 6th. A line out to short and a double play later, the threat was over and Sabathia would tack on another scoreless inning for food measure.

At the end of the day, CC’s line sat at 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, but he was much better than that line indicates. The Mariners didn’t really hit anything right on the nose, and most of the outs were routine fly balls or weak grounders on the infield. He needed just 96 pitches in those seven innings, though Joe Girardi opted to give CC a little breather and pull him early even though there was plenty of gas left in the tank.

Sabathia is now 8-0 in his last eight starts, and his ERA has dropped all the way down to 3.09. As good as Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Javy Vazquez have been, the Yankees need CC to be than dominating workhorse at the front of the rotation, and that’s exactly what he has been for the last two months.

Miscellany

Derek Jeter ripped two balls into the right-centerfield gap, legit extra base hit shots. Of course one was caught by Franklin Gutierrez, but that’s besides the point. The Cap’n had two extra base hits (both doubles) total in his previous 109 plate appearances before those two rockets. Hopefully this a sign of what’s to come in the second half.

Big ups to Tex for scoring a run with his  hustle. He made it to second when Michael Saunders lost a lazy fly in the sun, moved over to third on a foul pop behind first, then scored on a wild pitch. That’s the kinda stuff you expect Brett Gardner to do, not the big and slow Mark Teixeira.

Photo Credit: John Froschauer, AP

Meanwhile, I can’t let Alex Rodriguez go for squaring around to bunt when Tex was on second. Yes, the ball almost stayed fair, but there’s never a reason for that man to bunt. Ever. Swing the damn bat. He hits cleanup for a reason, because he’s good at hitting the ball far, far away. Stick to that, let the scrawny middle infielders worry about the small ball nonsense.

Marcus Thames hit his first homer since that walk-off shot at the expense of Jonathan Papelbon back in May. Yes, there was a disabled list stint mixed in, but that’s a long time.

Curtis Granderson singled and sent a ball to the wall (for an out), and heads into the break having gone 7-for-16 with just one strikeout in the four game set. It hasn’t been a great year for the Yanks’ centerfield, but at least he can head home for a few days feeling good about himself.

And finally, nice play by John Flaherty on that foul ball (above).

WPA Graph & Box Score

It’s always a good thing when the green line hugs the bottom of the graph for five-plus innings. MLB.com has the box score, FanGraphs all the other cool stuff.

Up Next

The Yankees get to enjoy an extra long four day All Star Break, and will begin the second half of the 2010 season in a big way: at home against the Rays. Sabathia will get the ball in that game too, technically starting back-to-back games, and will face Jamie Shields. It’ll be as big as mid-July series get.

Three walk-offs at the lower levels

MLB Futures Game (USA defeated World Team 9-1)
Austin Romine, C: 1 for 2, 1 2B – pulled a double into the left-centerfield gap off Jeurys Familia on a 3-1 fastball that Gameday clock at 97 … threw Eury Perez out trying to stealing second on a breaking ball … entered the game in the 6th
Hector Noesi: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0-3 GB/FB - ten of his 15 pitches were strikes … pitched the 2nd inning, sat 92-94 mostly … gave up a single to Logan Morrison of the Marlins

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Lehigh Valley)
Reegie Corona, 2B & Jorge Vazquez, DH: both 0 for 4 – JoVa K’ed twice
Chad Tracy, 3B: 3 for 4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI – almost hit a third homer too … he’s six for 11 (.545) since signing
Chad Huffman, LF: 0 for 3, 3 K – left the game for an unknown reason, there was no obvious injury
Chad Moeller, PF-LF: 0 for 1 – took over for Huffman & played the outfield for what appears to be the first time in his professional career, majors or minors
Juan Miranda, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 2B – seriously, why not swap him & Tracy for Colin Curtis & Kevin Russo? it might actually, you know, improve the bench … certainly couldn’t make it any worse
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K – 7-9 K/BB ratio in his last nine games
Reid Gorecki, RF & Eric Bruntlett, SS: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – Bruntlett played short in place of Eduardo Nunez, who sat today after getting hit by a pitch in the arm yesterday
Greg Golson, CF: 0 for 4, 1 K
Ivan Nova: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 11-2 GB/FB – 54 of 94 pitches were strikes (57.4%) … he hit 95 on the gun
Romulo Sanchez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – eight of his 15 pitches were strikes (53.3%)
Boone Logan: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 2-2 GB/FB – 18 of his 29 pitches were strikes (62.1%)

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Open Thread: A little vacation

Ashlie Christian, an Army captain based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and her mother, Debbie Christian of Payette, Idaho, watch 3-D highlights of Saturday's game before a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Seattle Mariners in Seattle on Sunday, July 11, 2010. (AP Photo/John Froschauer)

Did anyone out there actually watch either of the last two games in 3-D? If so, how was it? The beat writers all loved it, but I’m curious to hear more.

Anyway, the Yankees wrapped up the pre-All Star break portion of their schedule at 56-32 today, owners of the best record and best run differential in all the land. Through 88 games last year, the Yanks were 51-37, three games back in the division. The bullpen’s generally a mess, the bench stinks, and the offense has yet to fire on all cylinders, but damn is this team good.

Use this as your open thread. The Futures Game is still being played, and you can talk about that in our Futures Game thread. The ESPN Sunday Night Game features the Cubs at the Dodgers (Carlos Silva vs. Vicente Padilla), but talk about whatever you want.

Game Thread: 2010 Futures Game

Perhaps my favorite part of the All Star Break is the Futures Game, which pits a collections of baseball’s best prospect against each other. Austin Romine and Hector Noesi are representing the Yankees, a year after Jesus Montero and Manny Banuelos did the honors. Keith Law rated Romine as the 15th best prospect selected to the game (Insider req’d), though Noesi comes in towards the back of the pack. Neither player is starting the game (lineups), but don’t worry, they’ll definitely get in at some point.

ESPN2 will broadcast the game, which begins at 6pm ET. Enjoy.

Game 88: Last one before the break

Photo Credit: Paul Sancya, AP

For the second straight year, the Yankees get to enjoy an extra day off during the break, not having to come back until Friday. The extra day will be hell on fans, but for a team sending nine players to the All Star Game with a few 30-something’s in the rotation and some nagging injuries, the extra time off is more than welcome.

CC Sabathia has a chance to send them into the break on a high note, hopefully erasing yesterday’s frustrating loss and giving the team eight wins in their last nine games. Sabathia is a cool 7-0 in his last seven starts, holding opponents to a .199/.273/.253 batting line against. He’s completed at least seven innings in each of those starts. With any luck, he’ll hand the ball right off the Mariano Rivera today.

Here’s the lineup that’ll face Ryan Rowland-Smith…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Thames, DH
Granderson, CF
Gardner, LF

And on the mound, Big Stoppa, CC Sabathia.

Hooray for no more 10pm ET starts. This one will get underway at 4:10pm ET and can be seen on YES. There’s also a 3-D broadcast available if you have the proper setup. Enjoy the game.

Sherman: Pondering Jeter’s second half

Now that Derek Jeter is only a half a season away from free agency and hitting just .275/.342/.392 on the year, the issue of his impending contract situation is starting to become more urgent. While Jeter isn’t playing up to the lofty standards he has set for himself, he’s not doing anything worse than most other 36-year-old short stops, but the Yankees have publicly stated that they will “take care of him” come November. Today, Joel Sherman opines on Derek’s situation and notes that the Yanks have so far been justified when they decided not to extend Jeter after the 2009 season. “At this point,” Sherman asks, “if his name were not Derek Jeter, who would even give him a one-year, $10 million contract when this sure looks like late-30s decline?”

Right now, Jeter’s production puts him in line with a Marco Scutaro-type player, worth around $7-$8 million a season, and the Yankees’ front office clearly recognizes that Jeter won’t get better as he climbs through his late 30s. We’ll have more on the Captain over the next few weeks, but Jeter’s role on the team both this year and into the future is, as Sherman wrote today, one of the more pressing issues facing the Yanks as they begin their drive toward October.

Bob Sheppard passes away at 99

Bob Reads a Poem

Bob Sheppard made his final Yankee Stadium appearance during the closing ceremonies for the old stadium in September 2008. (Photo by Benjamin Kabak)

Updated by Ben (11:50 a.m.): Yankees public address announcer for over 50 years, Bob Sheppard, has passed away at his home in Baldwin, NY, the Associated Press reported this morning. Dubbed “The Voice of God” by Reggie Jackson, Sheppard annouced over 4,500 games, including 22 World Series. Long known for his introductions to the stadium (“Good Evening…ladies and gentlemen…and welcome to Yankee Stadium”), the national anthem and Yankee captain Derek Jeter, Sheppard would have been 100 this October. He’s been battling illness since 2008 and officially announced his retirement in November. In addition to his storied career as the Yankees’ public address announcer, Sheppard was a noted poet and spent many years announcer New York Giants’ games at the Meadowlands.

“The Yankees and Bob Sheppard were a marriage made in heaven,” Paul Sheppard, the PA announcer’s 71 year old son said to The Times’ Richard Goldstein. “I know St. Peter will now recruit him. If you’re lucky enough to go to heaven, you’ll be greeted by a voice, saying, ‘Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to heaven!’ ”

For many Yankee fans of a certain age, Sheppard was the only constant at Yankee Stadium. Through thick and thin, through ownership groups, last place finishes and World Series championships, Sheppard was always there. He began his Bronx career in 1951 when Joe DiMaggio still patrolled center field and a young kid from Oklahoma named Mickey Mantle made his Major League debut. He worked nearly every game until September of 2007 when he was sidelined with a bout bronchial infection that left his seriously weakened.

Sheppard never returned to Yankee Stadium after 2007, but his presence has been felt at Yankee Stadium, new and old. He appeared in a video greeting during the old stadium’s last hurrah in September of 2008, and Derek Jeter still comes to bat to a pre-recorded Sheppard announcement of his “Numbah 2, Derek Jetah.” He never made it to the new Yankee Stadium.

In 2000, the Yankees honored Sheppard with his own day at the stadium and his own plaque in Monument Park. Famed newscaster Walter Cronkite read the inscription: “The voice of Yankee Stadium. For half a century, he has welcomed generations of fans with his trademark greeting, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Yankee Stadium.'”

Sheppard also called New York Giants games from 1956 through 2006 and lent his voice to the basketball and football teams at St. John’s University, where he was a speech professor, as well. He passed away at 99, just three months shy of the century mark, and will forever be remembered as the Voice of the Yankees.

For more on Sheppard, be sure to read Marty Noble’s piece on MLB.com. Click through to see a video tribute to the great announcer from Bob Sheppard Day in 2000. [Read more…]