Five days ago, Mike Mussina faced the Baltimore Orioles, and his former team shelled him. He allowed six runs in five innings, and the Yanks eventually lost by the score of 13-4. Meanwhile, the Yanks, heading into today, had dropped five out of six and were in danger of seeing their great post-All Star Break gains wiped away.
So when Moose took the mound — fittingly enough on Old Timers’ Day — he was out looking for revenge for both himself and the team. He did not disappoint. Facing a red-hot Angels team, Mussina had a stellar first inning before running into trouble in the second inning when Garret Anderson singled and Howie Kendrick doubled.
With one out and the bases loaded, Mussina induced a ground ball that could have been an inning-ending double play. But a bad throw by Wilson Betemit, filling in for the aching Robinson Cano, allowed an unearned run to score. The Yanks were down 2-0, and things seemed on the verge of getting ugly.
But Moose, the oldest timer on the Yanks, had something else in mind. Over the next 5.1 innings, Mussina would be quite literally perfect. Following Betemit’s error and the unearned run, no other Angel reached base until Jose Veras walked Chone Figgins in the 8th inning of what was then an 8-2 game.
For the Yanks, it was the second straight strong pitching performance, and this time, the offense — behind four home runs by Betemit, the hot Bobby Abreu, Jose Molina and A-Rod — scored enough runs to back it up. The Yanks teed off against Jered Weaver and managed an important win as both Boston and Tampa Bay won.
Tonight’s game provided a second straight day of relief for the Yanks. While they lost a heartbreaker on Friday night, Sidney Ponson had by far his best start of the season, allowing no runs in seven innings. Prior to these two outings, the Yanks’ pitchers had put together an 8.80 ERA over their last 44 innings. With this win, the Yanks maintained the 2.5 games separating them from the Sox, and they needed this win. Later today, the Yanks and Darrell Rasner will face John Lackey who, in his last outing, no-hit the Red Sox in Fenway for over eight innings. That won’t be a walk in the park.
Triple-A Scranton (7-3 loss to Pawtucket)
Brett Gardner & Greg Porter: both 1 for 4, 1 K – Gardner swiped a bag
Eric Duncan & Matt Carson: both 0 for 4 – E-Dunc K’ed thrice
Juan Miranda & Ben Broussard: both 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 BB – Miranda drove in 1 run … Broussard drove in a pair of runs & K’ed
Cody Ransom, JD Closser & Chris Basak: all 0 for 3, 1 BB – Ransom swiped a bag, scored a run & K’ed … Basak K’ed twice
Billy Traber: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 3-2 GB/FB – 21 of 39 pitches were strikes (53.8%) … started in place of Alan Horne, who was shipped to Tampa to figure out what the hell is wrong with him
Steven Jackson: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 21 of 39 pitches were strikes, same rate as Traber
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 2-1 GB/FB – 21 of 33 pitches were strikes (63.6%)
Phil Coke: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0-2 GB/FB
Scott Strickland: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K – he was bound to have one of these eventually
The USA Olympic baseball team started its final warmup before heading off to Beijing today, taking on Team Canada in a three-game set at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in North Carolina. A’s uber-prospect Brett Anderson gave the team a strong start earlier today, but the immortal Stubby Clapp helped propel Canada to a 4-3 win in 10 innings. The second game of today’s doubleheader starts at 7pm tonight, with Trevor Cahill, another A’s uber-prospect, toeing the rubber for the red, white and blue. The game can be seen on mlb.tv.
Team USA’s roster has undergone a bit of an overhaul since I last reported it, with several players losing eligibility because of injuries and call-ups, with the most notable being Cardinals’ stud prospect Colby Rasmus, who is out with a knee injury. Baseball America previewed all eight Olympic teams like no one else can (no subscription req’d). · (0) ·
The weather isn’t great today, but hopefully the baseball gods are merciful and allow today’s Old Timers’ Day ceremonies go as planned. With more Old Timers’ on hand than ever before, today not only honors the great Yankees of yesteryear, but will also allow us to celebrate the life of Thurman Munson, who was killed in a plane wreck 29 years ago today.
While it just won’t be the same without Scooter and Bobby, today will be a welcome pick-me up for all Yankees’ fans out there. Personally, I’m most looking forward to seeing Coney, Jimmy Key, Straw & Boomer. It’s also pretty badass that Graeme Lloyd, Aaron Small & Mike Stanley will be in the house too. Oh, and Ed Price says we might be in for a surprise too.
The festivities start at 1:30 on YES, with the game following at 3:55 on FOX. The introductions are the best part, don’t miss it.
1. Damon, DH
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B
6. X(BH) Nady, LF
7. Betemit, 2B – Cano’s got a sore hand
8. Melky, CF
9. Molina, C
And on the mound this Old Timers’ Day, the oldest current Yankee, Mike Mussina.
The good folks at Baseball Digest Daily have asked me to appear on the BDD Talk Radio show this afternoon. I’ll be on at 12:40 p.m. ET. and you can listen live here. I’ll be talking trade deadline deals and the Yanks’ sheer inability to score runs on a night when Sidney Ponson pitches seven shutout innings. · (2) ·
After originally expected to return to the rotation in early September, Chien-Ming Wang will now be out until at least October. Joe Girardi has been incredibly optimistic with regards to injuries so far (“Jorge will just need a couple of days”), but he broke the news yesterday. While we all dispise Wang’s replacement, Sid Ponson, don’t forget that CMW had been getting pounded for more than a month prior to the injury. · (10) ·
Triple-A Scranton (11-5 win over Syracuse) Phil Coke is on his way up to work out of the pen
Brett Gardner: 2 for 6, 2 R
Bernie Castro: 0 for 5, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K
Matt Carson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB – threw a runner out at home from RF on one of the best throws Chad Jennings has ever seen
Juan Miranda: 3 for 4, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB – 13 for his last 32 (.406)
Cody Ransom: 1 for 6, 2 RBI, 3 K
Ben Broussard & Chris Basak: both 3 for 5, 1 R – Broussard doubled & drove in 2 … Basak drove in a run
Chris Stewart: 2 for 4, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 PB – 17 for his last 34 (.500) with 7 doubles … schnikees
Nick Green: 0 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Al Aceves: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 6-8 GB/FB – 59 of 90 pitches were strikes (65.6%)
JB Cox: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 5-2 GB/FB – gave up a homer, a rare occurance for the groundball machine
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K – back after missing just over a month because of a bout with pneumonia
The Angels are the best team in baseball. No doubt about it. A few weeks ago I mentioned to Joe that I thought the Halos should make a run at Teixeira because this was their year, and booya (of course I suggested a Kotchman + Adenhart package, but that’s neither here nor there). They’ve got excellent starting pitching, a strong bullpen with all sorts of different looks, a defense that makes every play, and an offense capable of beating you on the bases or now by hitting the ball over the wall. They might as well start lining up their postseason rotation now.
I know the Yanks have a shiny new future HOF catcher, but wouldn’t it make more sense to start Jose Molina behind the plate today? He’s been much better at gunning down would-be basestealers than Pudge, which is going to be worth something all those baserunners Sidney Ponson will inevitably allow. I guess it doesn’t really matter if the Halos keep hitting all those 3-run homers.
Speaking of, where did all the pitching go? Just a week ago we were talking about how unbelievable the Yanks pitching staff had been lately, but now? They’ve got a 6.39 ERA & 1.60 WHIP over the last seven days, and opposing batters have an .884 OPS in that span. They’ve basically turned everyone into Carlos frickin’ Lee. You can bitch about Ponson & Rasner all you want, but Moose and Pettitte haven’t been getting it done lately either. Thank Mariano for Joba.
1. Damon, LF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, DH
6. Cano, 2B
7. Betemit, 1B
8. Pudge, C
9. Melky, CF
And on the mound, Sidney “will pitch for food” Ponson.
Note: Chris Britton was shipped back to Triple-A after his 53 pitch outing last night, Brian Bruney rejoins the team sans lisfranc fracture … X(BH) Nady has a sore quad and is day-to-day … the last batter to get a hit off Edwar Ramirez was Brian Schneider in the second game of the split-stadium doubleheader against the Mets, he’s faced 45 batters since then … Bobby Abreu has a 1.105 OPS since July 8th … this could be Ponson’s last start for the Yanks, IPK has been pitching pretty well in Triple-A … Jeff Karstens won his first start with the Buccos earlier today … the game is on MY9 tonight, not YES
I hadn’t heard this until today, but apparently Jerome Holtzman, the sportswriter credited with inventing the save, passed away last weekend. Today, Colby Cash of the National Post takes a look at the rule’s origins — Holtzman wanted to prove that a reliever’s 18-1 record was highly deceptive, so he created an equally deceptive statistic.
There’s not a whole ton to the article, as Cash goes on to make an analogy to public policy. Yippee! But there is this one takeaway quote:
By 1980 the idea of the “closer,” a role that gives a team’s best reliever the narrowly defined job of protecting a lead at the end of the game, had taken over. As countless researchers have demonstrated, and as elementary logic indicates, this is a suboptimal use of talent. Teams are no less likely to blow late leads in the “closer” era than they were before, and a team’s most effective reliever should almost certainly be allowed to come into tied games, in which an extra run saved by good pitching has the highest possible value.
Instead, a team like the Yankees uses a Rivera to protect relatively safe two- or three-run leads, but lets ties be decided by guys who can’t hoist Rivera’s jock. Why? Because the “save” has come to define what it was originally meant only to describe: Since we measure relievers by saves, saves must be what they do. Q.E.D.