In the eighth inning, following Delmon Young’s one-out, three-run home run against Mariano Rivera, tonight’s Yankee game seemed like Just One of Those Nights. Lately, we’ve known that feeling all too well. Following a solid start, the Yanks’ bullpen steps in to blow the game while the offense can’t quite push across enough runs.
Luckily, tonight, the game ended in the Yanks’ favor when the beleaguered Alex Rodriguez, 0 for the night until the 12th, blasted a shot to straightaway center field. Following a Xavier Nady two-run home run and a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning for Edwar Ramirez, the Yanks walked away winners.
For the team, this win may yet turn out to be the game that saved the season — or at least delayed the inevitable — as the Red Sox blew a 10-run first-inning but still managed to win. The Yanks maintained the five-game divide separating them and Boston and narrowed the AL East deficit to eight. They’re down, but not quite out of it yet.
For the first seven innings, Mike Mussina and the Yanks’ offense were the stars of the game. With Johnny Damon — the AL’s leading hitter — back in the lineup after an inexplicable day off, the Yanks got off to a very first start. One batter into the game, and the Yanks were up a run. While the Twins would answer with two in the second, Nady picked up two of his four RBIs in the third. He now has 17 ribbies as a Yank. But of course, the other half of that trade would strike back.
By the seven, the Yanks were up 6-3. Mike Mussina threw 104 pitches in seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and his customary one walk. He struck out five. But Damaso Marte, called upon to pitch the eighth, couldn’t handle the job. Again. Marte gave up a hit, got an out, gave up another hit and then hit the showers.
And then disaster struck. Mariano Rivera is having a season for the ages, but since July 1, his totals are less than stellar. In 14 innings prior to tonight, he has a 3.21 ERA and two losses. Now, he can finally add a blown save to that line. After Young’s home run, Rivera made the most of it, and Jose Veras picked up the slack. By the time A-Rod homered and Nady added the icing on the cake, the bullpen had done an admirable job outside of the eighth.
For the Yanks, 2-6 on the road before tonight, this was about as big a must-win as they’ve had all season. With Darrell Rasner set to go this afternoon, they need every win they can get on the road right now. As the calendar pages disappear and the season marches inevitably closer to the end, the Yanks basically just have to keep on winning. Tonight it was nearly Mo’s turn to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but in the end, A-Rod — the much-maligned A-Rod — stepped in to save the day. I’ll take it.
Steven White has been released, and Jeff Marquez takes his spot on Trenton’s roster. White’s fall from grace was rather precipitous. He’ll land on his feet though.
Triple-A Scranton (8-6 win over Pawtucket in 11 innings) they took a 4-run lead in the top of the 10th, but blew it in the bottom of the inning
Brett Gardner: 2 for 6, 1 RBI, 1 K
Matt Carson: 1 for 5, 1 BB, 2 K
Juan Miranda: 0 for 6, 1 K – eek
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 4, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 SB – it’s always fun when Shelley steals a bag
Ben Broussard: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP
Cody Ransom: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Eric Duncan: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB – doubled in the winning runs
Chad Moeller: 2 for 6, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – when Moeller homers, you’ve gotta find a way to win the game
Chris Basak: 3 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 SB
Phil Hughes: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4-8 GB/FB – 50 of 84 pitches were strikes (59.5%) … one more start in AAA and he’s ready to go
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 3-2 GB/FB – 18 of 31 pitches were strikes (58.1%) … allowed a pair of inherited runners to score, uglifying Hughes’ line … hopefully we’ll be watching him relieve Hughes for many years to come
Phil Coke: 1 IP, zeroes
Scott Strickland: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K – 11 earned runs allowed in his last 1.2 IP (59.28 ERA) … 2.11 ERA on the year before that
Steven Jackson: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HB
While Hank is seemingly writing off the season, we’re trying to stay optimistic. We know the Yankees need to go on a tear, and each loss decreases the likelihood of them doing so. Was last night rock bottom? It didn’t feel like it, not to me at least. Maybe it did in the locker room. Maybe the only place this team can go is up.
If so, they’ve got the guy on the mound to do it. Moose looks for his 16th victory tonight, against a team he dominated on July 23. It was, in fact, probably his best performance of the year, and that’s saying something, considering how well he has pitched.
There’s not much left to say. Melky’s out of the lineup. He has three hits in 25 plate appearances this month, and they all came on Saturday against the Angels.
And on the mound, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.
Via Ed Price, Brian Cashman said that the perpetually under-appreciated Hideki Matsui will begin a minor league rehab assignment this Thursday in Tampa. If the Yanks can get 4 or 5 healthy weeks out of Matsui a the end of the year, man, that would be some kind of boost to the offense. · (11) ·
In the game thread last night, Mike noted that Joba expected to start a throwing program tomorrow. Since then, the Yanks’ valuable young arm has been overruled by his manager, and the Yanks now expect Joba to begin his throwing on Friday, a full 11 days after he was removed from the game against Texas.
With Joba on the mend, the Yanks will soon face something of a tough choice with regards to their rookie hurler: Should they bring back Joba this season?
On the one hand, the answer is an unequivocal yes. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks are throwing out their best team and giving the team a chance to win the playoffs. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks can bump one of their less than ideal starting pitchers back to the bullpen, AAA or elsewhere. With Joba in the rotation, the Yanks could actually think about overcoming that ever-growing five-game Wild Card deficit. So bring him back.
But wait. It’s not quite that simple. Right now, three days before Joba is set to resume throwing and weeks before we can even think about his return to the rotation, the Yanks are facing a turning point. They’re a nearly insurmountable nine games out of first place and are, as I mentioned, five games out of the Wild Card with Minnesota between them and Boston and the Rangers nipping at their heels.
In four days — let alone two or three weeks — the Yanks will have a pretty good idea if October baseball is in the cards for them, and by then, if things are looking dire in the Bronx, if the odds are stacked against them, I’d have to advocate for holding Joba out of the games this year. If the Yanks are facing a Hail Mary situation, it would make more sense to ensure Joba’s health and strength for 2009 and beyond than it would to run him out there this year, risking injury for a playoff berth that is an increasing long shot.
As a Yankee fan, this line of argument is nearly anathema to everything I’ve come to know and love about this team since 1995 when I first got a taste of October baseball. For the better part of the last decade and a half, the Yanks have won at all costs, but with such a promising arm, the likes of which the Yanks haven’t seen in years, I believe that holding Joba back and maintaining his health for next year far outweighs the slim benefits the Yanks could enjoy in an unlikely 2008 playoff run.
In two and a half weeks, the fate of this season’s Yankees will become more clear. We’ll have to go through this debate again, but if the Yanks don’t improve and make up some ground, I’d be reluctant to see Joba pitch again this year.
With Ian Kennedy exiled back to AAA following his poor showing against the Angels on Friday, the Yankees are going to again turn the ball over to Darrell Rasner on Wednesday. So by the time the Yanks leave Minnesota, the Yanks will have tossed Dan Geise, Sidney Ponson and Rasner in three of their last four games against playoff-caliber teams. While fans may wish to blame Joe Girardi’s micromanaging, A-Rod’s seeming inability to hit in the clutch or Derek Jeter’s sub-par season for the Yanks’ struggles, it all comes down to pitching, and the Yanks’ pitching has, this season, utterly broken down. We’re eagerly awaiting Phil Hughes’ and Carl Pavano’s rehab starts later today, and that speaks volumes about the 2008 season. · (31) ·
The Yankees aren’t dead. Not in any mathematical sense of the word. They’re certainly dying, though, right before our eyes. It’s hard to stay optimistic after a fourth straight loss, one in which the team couldn’t manage a single run. This has been a maddeningly frustrating season on the offensive side.
What stings worse is that we got another quality performance from Sidney Ponson, and couldn’t plate a single run in his support. Not many of us like Ponson, but he’s been solid his last three times out. He forced the Twins to put the ball on the ground 19 times, with just two making outs through the air. Other than a mistake to Adam Everett, he did what he was supposed to. Didn’t matter, though. Might as well have been Kennedy pitching.
I wonder what Girardi was thinking before the game, when he was filling out his lineup card. He definitely wasn’t asking himself, “What lineup would give my team the best chance of winning tonight?” because any lineup that features Justin Christian (or Melky Cabrera) and Richie Sexson over Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi is not your best. But Girardi has to play the righties against lefties, even though that hasn’t worked too well all season. You’d think after 118 games of this shit, he’d get it. But no. Giambi still sits.
(Never mind that Giambi’s numbers against lefties nearly mirror his numbers against righties this year…and last year…and he was still really good against lefties in 05 and 06. And 03. And, really, every other year of Jason Giambi’s career.)
So the team drops yet another game, losing ground pretty much everywhere. Except on the White Sox, who lost to the Red Sox, who gained ground on the Yankees. Radical.
Don’t worry, though. They’ll just start the tear tomorrow.
Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off day, but tragedy has struck the team. I’m sure they’d much rather be playing today.
Double-A Trenton had a scheduled off day, as did the rest of the Eastern League.
High-A Tampa (3-1 loss to Sarasota)
Luis Nunez: 0 for 4, 1 BB
Eduardo Nunez & Seth Fortenberry: 1 for 4 – Nunez doubled & K’ed … Fortenberry scored a run & K’ed twice
Kevin Smith: 2 for 3, 1 2B, 1 BB
Josh Kreuzer: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Jose Gil, Tommy Baldridge (33) & Chris Kunda: all 0 for 3 – Gil K’ed … Baldridge drew a walk & K’ed … Kunda K’ed twice
Tim Battle: 1 for 4, 1 K – for all intents and purposes, he’s been their best hitter this year … seriously
Ivan Nova: 6 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8-4 GB/FB – giving up too many hits … 152 in 139.2 IP this year
Mike Dunn: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K