While the Yankees are set to open their new stadium against the Indians on April 16, the team is hoping to preview the stadium with a few exhibition games in early April or late March, according to Ed Price. This seems to be a classic case of “monkey see, monkey do” as the Mets announced a similar set-up earlier this week. No word yet on whom the Yanks plan to play, but you can bet those will be some hot tickets. · (7) ·
Unless the stars align and the Yankees and Red Sox both make the playoffs this year, this afternoon’s game between the two rival clubs marked the team’s last meeting in Yankee Stadium. As the Yankees did on Wednesday, April 18, 1923, when they opened the House that Ruth Built, New York emerged victorious over Boston for one final time in Yankee Stadium.
Today’s game, in a way, was a vital one not only for the Yankees but for Mike Mussina too. Moose won his 16th game of the year on August 27, and now he won’t win number 17 until at least September. He’s going to have to be nearly perfect to earn himself that elusive 20-win season.
Of course, it didn’t have to be like that today for Mussina, and for that, we again turn to everyone’s favorite punching bag. With two on and one out in the first, A-Rod struck out. With two on and one out in the sixth, A-Rod fouled out to Jason Varitek. Until the seventh, it just seemed, yet again, like one of those games.
But while Mussina would give up his two runs when he hit the Sox’s number eight batter, so too would the Yanks’ bottom of the order come back to haunt Boston. In the seventh, with two outs, Cody Ransom doubled. He’s now 3 for 4 in his short Yankee career. With Jose Molina due up and Hideki Okajima on the mound, Joe Girardi made the right move. While the lefty-lefty matchup didn’t favor the Yanks, Jason Giambi didn’t care, and he launched a ball into center field. Perhaps sitting Giambi against lefties all year hasn’t been the best strategy.
These runs offered the Yankee faithful a glimmer of hope, but in the 8th, when Girardi started to mix and match pitchers, Mussina lost his chance to walk away with a W. He’ll have to win four starts in September to get there.
In the 9th, the Red Sox seemed destined to tempt fate. With Jonathan Papelbon at the ready, they opted to stick with Justin Masterson instead. Masterson allowed a lead-off single to Xavier Nady, and while Robinson Cano failed to advance the runner, a Brett Gardner stolen base — he’s still alive! — pushed the winning run into scoring position. Hideki Matsui was intentionally walked; Pudge Rodriguez was unintentionally walked. And in came Papelbon.
Once again, the fate of the Yankees rested in Jason Giambi’s skilled hands, and he delivered a sharp single into center field. Jason Giambi 3, Boston Red Sox 2. Game over. Yankees win.
In the end, today’s win prevented the more pessimistic among us from driving another nail into the Yankee coffin. They’re six out of the Wild Card with 29 games to play, and they have to outplay both the Red Sox and whichever team doesn’t win the AL Central. They also need to avoid losing to the Blue Jays’ far superior pitchers this weekend.
But for a day, we can forget, to a point, about these travails. In the last meeting between two archrivals in Yankee Stadium, the home team — our home team — won a thrilling game with a walk-off single, and a first-ballot Hall of Fame pitcher — Mariano Rivera — earned the win. Playoffs or not, during a season in which the Yanks would almost rather have their fans forget about the impending demise of Yankee Stadium, during a season in which the team is sending their stadium off with a whimper instead of a roar, today’s storybook game was one for the ages.
Prior to the Yankees’ afternoon’s walk-off victory over the Red Sox, Joba Chamberlain threw 45 pitches off a mound, and if a batting practice session goes well, he hopes to return to the active roster in a week. The Yanks could really use Joba this season, but they more so need a healthy Joba beyond 2008. I’m sure the team knows what they’re doing with Joba and his valuable arm, but there’s a nagging part of me that would rather be ultra-safe than sorry. Meanwhile, I sure am glad I don’t have to face Joba during batting practice. · (55) ·
Jason Giambi sits today. It’s a lefty. We’re used to this. Thing is, this time it’s a deserved benching. He’s hitting .208/.306/.458 in August. Basically, his greatest trait, the ability to not make an out, isn’t working right now. He’s got some pop, but that’s just not enough.
Chad Jennings gives us a juicy scoop: Al Aceves has been called up. No word yet on the move to get him on the 40-man. I’m guessing they’ll option Robertson. The presumption is that he’ll take Rasner’s start on Saturday. Ras would then move to the bullpen. Hopefully, this is a precursor to Hughes taking Ponson’s start on Monday in Detroit.
The Yanks have placed Carl Pavano on waivers. No doubt he’ll clear. That would give Cash and Co. just a few days to find a trading partner. They’ll get nothing for him at the end of the year, so you might as well get something, anything for him while you can.
The lineup, trying to avoid a sweep:
And on the mound, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.
Hank Steinbrenner, the outspoken half of the Yankees management team, stopped by the stadium last night to watch the Yanks lose badly to the Red Sox. After the game, he agreed with just about everyone watching in noting that the Yankees sucked. But before the game, he spoke with reporters and all but admitted that CC Sabathia would be the Yanks’ number one priority this off-season. There will be changes, he promised. Who knows what those will be, but it’s bound to make for an exciting off-season. · (65) ·
Lately, we’ve seen Yankees fans fall into two camps. Those who have “given up” on the season, and those who haven’t. I have a question on this front, asked directly in the title: how do fans give up on the season?
We’re not the ones playing the games. It’s not like the Yanks are powered by the number of people who think they’re still in the race. Only the players can give up. You might think that they have. You have no way of knowing, but you can assume, if that’s your bag.
I guess I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around what it means for fans to give up. Does it mean you won’t go to any of the remaining games? If that’s the case, you can certainly make a few dollars for your tickets. I know a number of people who would like to see the final games at the Stadium, whether or not the Yanks are contending.
Does it means that you won’t watch on TV anymore? That’s the mark of a real baseball fan right there. Watch your team while they’re winning, stop when they’re out of it. There’s a name for that type of fan. Hootie & the Blowfish know what I’m talking about. If that’s your thing, go ahead.
Does it mean you’re abandoning any expectations? I’m not sure that makes a difference, at least for me. Whether I expect them to win or lose, I still get frustrated when the Yanks fail to score runs, and when their mediocre pitchers give up five runs in four innings. I can tell myself that it doesn’t matter, but lying never got me very far.
Does it mean declaring the season dead? What does that accomplish? What, is the New York Post smarter than everyone else because they put a picture of a tombstone on the back page in mid-August? Is a blogger smarter for saying it’s over, let’s pack it in? I think not. We’re fans. We’re here to watch the team. What fun is it to sulk? How can anyone stand to go through an entire season doing nothing but criticize the team, bitching all the while? That’s not why I watch baseball, at least.
I remember back in ’96, when I was a freshman in high school, everyone started wearing Yanks caps in October. A few friends and I complained about the bandwagon mentality. Well, maybe this is just the kind of purge we need. Get rid of the fans who don’t care enough to watch a season of baseball. Of course, if the Yanks start winning next year, they’ll be back just as if they never left. C’est la vie.
So, I reiterate the question. What does it mean for fans to throw in the towel? Is it symbolic? Do you think it makes you a smarter fan? I’ve always yearned for a crop of smart baseball fans, with whom I could discuss the game with at a reasonable level. I have that with RAB. But if being a smart fan means bitching that the season is over, well, then maybe I got what I wished for — it’s just not what I had in mind.
There’s no need to declare the Yankee season over that. I’ll let David Pinto’s eloquent eulogy carry the day in that regard.
After all, just a year ago, the Colorado Rockies, the NL’s 2007 World Series representative, were 6.5 games out of the Wild Card. The Yankees are down; they’re not playing well; and Joe Girardi, as David Cone opined on the post-game show tonight, doesn’t really know what to do with this group of ballplayers. But until they’re mathematically eliminated, I’m not ready to throw in the towel. They do, however, have a very steep climb ahead of them.
Tonight, the game started and ended with the Yankee pitching. Sidney Ponson got off to a rocky start in the first inning. Before the Yanks had a chance to bat, they were facing a 2-0 deficit, and Ponson didn’t seem to have that sinker working. But Ponson seemed to right the ship for a few innings, and he pitched through the second, third and fourth without incident.
In the fifth, with the Yanks and Red Sox knotted at two, Ponson allowed another two runs, and Joe Girardi quickly yanked him. Again, a Yankee pitcher couldn’t get out of the fifth, and again the bullpen would be called up on for more than four innings of work.
The bullpen wasn’t up for the job. While Edwar Ramirez and Damaso Marte kept things under control, Jose Veras and David Robertson, once again called upon in a situation in which he was nearly obligated to fail, allowed seven runs in the eighth. That would be all for the Yankees.
Ponson allowed 11 baserunners in 4.2 innings. The bullpen allowed seven earned runs in one inning of work while tossing up zeroes in the other 3.1, and when the game ended, it didn’t matter that A-Rod was 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. It didn’t matter that Jason Giambi blasted yet another home run off Mike Timlin. All that mattered was that Lisfranc injury to Chien-Ming Wang, that reliance on starters that just shouldn’t be here, and an offense that just isn’t doing what it should be doing.
The Yanks are down. But I’m not ready to count them out. Hope springs eternal, even with September growing closer.
Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Buffalo)
Justin Christian: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
Melky, Juan Miranda & Shelley: all 1 for 4 - Melky drove in a run & walked … Shelley K’ed
Ben Broussard: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 K
Nick Green: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – 12 for his last 23 (.522) with 8 RBI
Eric Duncan & Chad Moeller: both 1 for 4, 2 K – Moeller allowed a passed ball
Bernie Castro: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 E (throwing)
Phil UUUSE: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 6-6 GB/FB – 61 of 87 pitches were strikes (70.1%) … call him up to take Ponson’s next start? Why not, it’ll be after rosters expand
Phil Coke: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB - 13 of 19 pitches were strikes (68.4%)
Mark Melancon: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 15 of 20 pitches were strikes (75%)
I hate to say that the Yankees ever have to win a game, but I think, for tonight, I’m going to go with this one: If the Yankees don’t win tonight, it will be extremely hard for them to make the playoffs. Of course, even if they do win tonight, it’ll still be extremely hard for them to make the playoffs.
Left to the task of winning tonight’s game is Sidney Ponson. The Aruban is 3-3 with a 5.46 ERA while on the Yankees, and his WHIP remains a lofty 1.61. He last faced the Red Sox on July 3rd and gave up seven earned runs in four innings. The Yanks are going to need a better effort from Ponson tonight.
Opposing Sir Sidney will be Paul Byrd. The righty, a post-deadline acquisition for the Red Sox, is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 13.1 innings for Boston. On the season, he’s 8-11 with a 4.61 ERA. While Byrd bounced the Yanks from the playoffs last year, he’s been far less successful this year. Against the Bombers, he is 1-1 but with a 6.75 ERA. He has allowed six Yankee home runs in 12 innings this year. Slugfest, anyone?
A. Rodriguez 3B
I. Rodriguez C
Repeating History:Yes, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez are still hitting back-to-back in the lineup. Giambi since the All Star Break is hitting .232/.355/.414 with six home runs, but he’s gone deep twice against Byrd this season.
A “God Bless America” Brouhaha: Deadspin has an alarming report about a fan who got roughed up by the cops and kicked out of the Stadium last night after failing to show what the police officers viewed as proper respect for Kate Smith. We covered this issue in May of 2007, but this development sounds like one ugly incident.
Jack Curry, on The Times’ Bats blog, picks up a story about Tim Wakefield and his locker in the visiting clubhouse at the Yankee Stadium. Lou Cucuzza, the Yankees clubhouse manager, is giving Wakefield the 49 plaque that has, for the last 14 years, indicated the Red Sox’s knuckleballer’s spot in the room. Wakefield, who served up on the more famous home runs in recent Yankee Stadium history, speaks wistfully of Yankee Stadium, and this piece is just another hint that the crazy fans, by and large, take this rivalry way more seriously than the players. · (15) ·