I knew the Yanks were in trouble tonight when, in the top of the third inning, Ivan Rodriguez struck out swinging on one of the nastiest pitches I’ve ever seen.
The fastball from Roy Halladay started over heading toward the middle of the plate. A few feet short of home plate, the bottom literally dropped out of this pitch, and it bounced in the dirt in front of home plate as Pudge swung over the top of it. I couldn’t fault Rodriguez for swinging there. By any account, that pitch should have been right over the heart of the plate. But Halladay’s sinker was just that good tonight, and by the time he tired enough to leave one up to Hideki Matsui, it was far too late for the Yankees.
While tonight’s game belonged, from start to finish, to Roy Halladay, it was also the day when Sidney Ponson’s chickens came home to roost. I’ve long harped on Ponson’s inability to keep runners off base, and while he had shown some improvement over his last few outings, his Yankee WHIP prior to tonight stood at 1.50. Pitchers who allow that many baserunners per inning simply cannot sustain success, and it all came crashing down tonight.
Ponson allowed eight hits and a walk as he pitched into the third but couldn’t record an out that inning. He gave up seven of the Blue Jays’ 14 runs before giving way to the equally ineffective tandem of David Robertson and Billy Traber. Games like this one really make me miss Chien-Ming Wang.
Meanwhile, the Yanks continue to lose their grip on any sort of October hope. They’re 10.5 games behind Tampa and six behind Boston. With 35 games left, the Yankees will have to game for every five they play just to tie Boston in the Wild Card. With six games left against their archrivals, it’s not impossible, but they’re going to have to make this run trotting out Ponson, Darrell Rasner and perhaps Carl Pavano for three out of every five days. Don’t hold your breath.
Game Notes: Why is Billy Traber still a member of this organization? He’s been terrible all year…Since acquiring Ivan Rodriguez, the Yankees are 8-11, and Pudge is hitting .229/.270/.343. That trade sure seemed better at the time…Derek Jeter has 2499 hits. With his next base knock, he’ll become just the 88th player in baseball history to amass at least 2500 hits.
Phil Coke was named to the Eastern League postseason All-Star Team. Well deserved.
Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Rochester)
Justin Christian: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K
Melky: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 CS – 6 for 12 (.500) with a 2-4 K/BB ratio since being send down
Juan Miranda: 2 for 4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – Chad Jennings says he hit one of the farthest homers he’s seen this year
Shelley: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 E (fielding)
Ben Broussard, Eric Duncan & Chad Moeller: all 0 for 3, 1 K – Broussard was hit by a pitch … E-Dunc & Moeller each drew a walk
Nick Green: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 SB
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 WP, 4-3 GB/FB – 66 of 93 pitches were strikes (71.0%)
Steven Jackson: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 19 of 35 pitches were strikes (54.3%)
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K – 10 of 18 pitches were strikes (55.6%)
Phil Coke: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP – allowed both inherited runners to score, hence the earned runs charged to Melancon
Scott Strickland: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
It’s a match-up for the ages. One man is a fat Aruban; the other is a nasty sinkerballer from Colorado. One of them will emerge victorious.
Okay, so perhaps tonight’s Yankee game — pitting Sidney Ponson against Roy Halladay — isn’t quite the dramatic match-up for the ages, but this game could be closer than anyone would expect. On the season Ponson is 7-3 with a 4.19 ERA, and in his middle age (for a baseball player), he’s become a ground ball specialist. Call him Chien-Ming Wang Lite. Roy Halladay meanwhile is 14-9 with a 2.64 ERA. He too is a ground ball specialist.
The rub here is that Roy Halladay has not allowed a run to the Yankees since the first inning of a start he made on June 3. That’s a streak of 14 scoreless innings. Yikes.
As it is everyday, tonight’s game is one the Yankees need to win. Tampa and Boston enjoy a night off, and the Yanks have to make up ground whenever they can. Easier said than done.
A. Rodriguez 3B
I. Rodriguez C
Game Notes: In case you missed the news, Carl Pavano is starting on Saturday. Pavano has made two starts since June 27, 2005 and is in the final year of a four-year, $39.95-million contract.
The latest in online pitching mechanics analysis comes from Baseball-Intellect. Alex Eisenberg takes a look at Joba Chamberlain’s mechanics. He likes some of what he says, doesn’t like other parts and wonders how long a career Joba will have. · (27) ·
Over the last few days — and with the introduction of the weirdly absurd Joe Torre blog — a lot of baseball commentators have been focused on the state of the Yankees. That this team — a team that went into 2008 clearly in transition — is something of a disappointment is not a point worth arguing. They’re 10 games out of first and five out of the Wild Card. Clearly things could be better.
But the comparisons to Joe Torre’s Dodgers and, to a lesser extent, the Mets are irrationally misguided. And it is, as always, a matter of perspective. Right now the Yankees are 67-59 in third place. For the Yankees, perennially expected to win the AL East, eight games over .500 and behind two teams in the East is hardly a bragging point. But the Mets and Dodgers aren’t any better.
Over in the pathetically mediocre NL West, the Dodgers are 64-62, two games behind the Diamondbacks. Yet, everything is coming up roses in the City of Angels. Got that? The Dodgers are 2.5 games worse than the Yankees. In the AL, they’d be behind the Blue Jays in the hunt for a playoff spot. Yet, somehow, because they’re in second place, Joe Torre gets the credit. Talk about a double standard.
Meanwhile, as Murray Chass stupidly pointed out, the Mets haven’t been hamstrung by injuries and poor play this year. Well, Mr. Chass, perhaps that’s because the four other teams in the Mets’ division are simply much worse than the Amazin’s. The Mets are 70-57, a whopping 2.5 games better than the Yankees. Again, if they were in the AL East, the Mets would be 7.5 games out of first and three games out of the Wild Card. As it stands now, if they suffer another late-season collapse, they will finish behind the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Wild Card hunt.
But this figuring all this out seems to take too much effort for sportswriters. They’d rather write the accolades of other teams while burying the Yankees without bothering to look at it in perspective. Now, I’m not about to start excusing the Yankees by saying that they’d be running away with the NL West. But to call Joe Torre any sort of LA savior without looking at the Diamondbacks’ inability to put away the inferior Dodgers and to proclaim the Mets that much better than the Yanks without examining the other teams in the division is simply shortsighted baseball analysis. But should we ever really expect anything else from the likes of Murray Chass and Tim Brown? I guess not.
I guess the ice pack worked. According to Ed Price, Carl Pavano’s neck is feeling better, and Pavano will probably start on Saturday in Baltimore. This could be a momentous occasion indeed. Fun fact: Carl Pavano has made two starts since the beginning of the 2007 campaign, and I witnessed one of them in person. · (92) ·
When I see tonight’s Yankee game unfold, two different thoughts flash through my mind. On the one hand, I see Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte turn in what we would call vintage performances as the Yanks turned in a crisp two-hour and 22-minute victory.
But on the other, I see the Yanks playing out the season with this win. I see a mediocre team with some star players beating a bad pitcher when they should. I see an overpaid and overhyped team keeping hope alive, falsely, by hanging 5.5 games back in the Wild Card and not really moving forward. I guess it’s all about tomorrow. Whatever they can do tomorrow and the next day and the day after that will determine the real fate of the 2008 Yankees.
Before we jump ahead though, we can look at tonight’s quick game. The Yanks jumped out to a first-inning lead, and they would never look back. The first three Yankees reached base, and while A-Rod again failed to deliver with runners in scoring position, a Jason Giambi sac fly (against a lefty!) and a Xavier Nady single gave Pettitte a 2-0 nothing lead.
In the fourth, the Yanks would plate their final three runs of the game with Derek Jeter’s hitting his 8th home run of the season. That blast would be the 2498th hit of Jeter’s career and his 203rd Yankee home run. With that homer, Jeter tied Roger Maris on the Yanks’ all-time home run list and somehow, only 10 players in Yankee history have more home runs in pinstripes than Jeter, not quite a notorious home run hitter throughout his career.
But while the bats did their job tonight, the story of the game was Andy Pettitte. The lefty went seven strong, allowing one run on five hits, no walks and four strike outs. He threw 62 of 83 pitches for strikes. Brian Bruney threw a crisp two innings to complete the victory.
Clearly, the Yankees needed this game. By winning on Wednesday, they guaranteed at least a one-game lead in third place when they depart Toronto for Baltimore after facing Roy Halladay tonight. They also gained a game on Boston and Clay Buchholz, who was shelled again down in Baltimore.
Was tonight’s game a reprieve or a sign that we shouldn’t quite count the Yanks out? With the Bombers seemingly treading water in the standings these days, it’s easy to believe the former, but it’s always hard to count out the Yankees. Stranger things, after all, have happened.
How many people would be interested in joining a RAB Fantasy Football League? I’d like to get a deep league, like 16-20 teams so it’s nice and challenging. I’m thinking Sunday August 31st for the draft, figure same time as the Yankee game (1pm) so we can BS and watch the game as we pick. Let me know if you’d be interested (only if your serious, please), and I’ll set it up. If there’s enough interest, I’ll post an official “sign up” thread later this week.
Triple-A Scranton (7-2 loss to Rochester)
Justin Christian: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 K, 1 CS
Melky & Shelley: both 2 for 4 – Melk scored a run … Shelley drove one in & K’ed
Juan Miranda, Eric Duncan, Ben Broussard & Chris Basak: all 0 for 4 – Miranda K’ed once … Broussard & E-Dunc each K’ed twice
Chris Stewart: 2 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K
Bernie Castro: 0 for 3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
IPK: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 2-4 GB/FB – 67 of 101 pitches were strikes (66.3%) … remember, he’s there to work on his two-seamer & curveball, which Chad Jennings says were just missing
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – 11 of 15 pitches were strikes (73.3%)
Phil Coke: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 13 of 18 pitches were strikes (72.2%)
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Counting tonight, there are 37 games left in the Yankees’ season. They are currently 6.5 GB of the Wildcard with 6 games left to play against the WC leader. The season is not over. Far from it in fact, no matter how ugly it looks. Go ahead and declare them dead if you wish, but don’t think that the other teams in baseball have so foolishly written them off as well.
You want playoffs, we’ll you got ‘em. October starts today.
1. Damon, CF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Giambi, 1B – but, but, but there’s a lefty on the mound!!!
6. Nady, LF
7. Matsui, DH
8. Cano, 2B
9. Molina, C
And on the mound, Andy Pettitte.
Notes: The Yanks are facing LHP David Purcey (2-3, 5.93 ERA), who they drafted, but did not sign, in the 17th round of the 2003 draft … Joe Nathan lowered his ERA to freaking 1.00 today …