In his first start for the Yankees, last Friday evening in Shea Stadium, Sidney Ponson was good if you didn’t look too closely. He threw six scoreless innings and emerged the victor in a game the Yankees won 9-0. But those were six rather dicey scoreless innings.
Through the first four innings of the Mets game, Ponson had put nine runners on base. He also struck out four and saw his defense turn a double play behind him. As I noted last week, Ponson was flirting with danger all night; the Mets just couldn’t bite.
Tonight, danger flirted back with Ponson in a big way. This time, Ponson managed to put 12 runners on base through four batters into the sixth inning. The Rangers, however, would not go down as easily as the Mets did. While the Yankee offense turned three double plays behind Ponson, eventually the Rangers broke through with a few runs in the third followed by a pair of two-run home runs in the sixth to chase Sir Sidney.
When that dust settled, Ponson’s tally on the evening was more in line with what we would have expected last week. He allowed 7 runs — all earned — on 9 hits and 3 walks. He struck out just one, and his ERA with the Yanks is now 5.77. He’s allowed 21 base runners in 11 innings.
In the end, Ponson’s pitching didn’t matter. The Yankees, as the narrative will have it tomorrow, responded to Hank’s threat and scored a season-high 18 runs on 16 hits, 7 walks and a few well-timed Rangers errors. They were aided by Ron Washington’s inexplicable decision to allow Warner Madrigal make his Major League debut in a one-run game against face Bobby Abreu, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi.
When the dust settled, this game tonight was half of just what the doctor ordered. The Yanks hit .390 as a team tonight with six extra-base hits. But on the other side of the ball, it doesn’t appear as though Sidney Ponson will be the answer to the gaping hole in the Yankee rotation. I’m sure he’ll get one more start against the red-hot Rays on Monday, but the only thing we can count on with Ponson is base runners. The Rays will have lots and lots of base runners.
Sorry folks, just don’t have it in me to do the whole shebang tonight. Some quick notes:
- Enter: The Venditte Guidelines. Dumb name, but necessary rules.
- CF Austin Jackson, RHP Jason Jones, 3B Chris Malec & C PJ Pilittere were named to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star team. Jose Tabata has a bum hammy.
- OF Justin Christian was named to the Triple-A International League All-Star Team. Brett Gardner would have made the team if he wasn’t busy taking Melky’s job.
- Jeff Karstens made a push to replace Sidney Ponson in the rotation, giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs in 7 clean innings, outpitching the recently demoted Brett Myers.
- The aforemented Chris Malec doubled twice while Ajax tripled. Chase Wright sucked.
- Jesus Montero had 2 hits, but the rest of Charleston’s disappeared. Carmen Angelini made another error, and Wilkins DeLaRosa continued the conversion to start with 5+ innings of 2 hit ball.
- Mike Lyon walked off with a solo shot.
Many teams have rocked Luis Mendoza this year. The Yankees have, in theory, a powerhouse offense. So can we please just knock this guy around? I don’t think it’s asking too much.
MLB.com has a a piece on Talib Kweli, a life-long Yankees fan. Says the emcee: “I collected every baseball card, I had season tickets to Yankee Stadium, but baseball is a great metaphor for life.” I loved his stuff with Mos Def in Black Star.
To keep the game thread filled with randomness, here’s evidence that Joe Buck should no longer be calling baseball games:
Couple of notes from Chad Jennings. Chris Stewart has cleared waivers, of course, and is back with Scranton. Alan Horne is on the DL with what’s being called a tired arm. It doesn’t sound serious. But Shelley Duncan’s shoulder injury does. He could miss the rest of the season.
And on the mound, number forty-seven, Sir Sidney Ponson
When the city’s cement-truck drivers went on strike yesterday afternoon, work on the city’s major construction projects ground to a halt. As Steve Greenhouse notes in The Times today, those projects include construction on Yankee Stadium and CitiField. The strike is expected to last through Monday at the earliest, but the drivers could stay out of work longer. While a short delay won’t disrupt the timetables for the two stadiums, if the strike appears to be a long one, both the Yanks and Mets could face the prospect of delays as both teams race to finish their new stadiums before Opening Day 2009. · (4) ·
When Hank Steinbrenner starts talking, you know things are bad. But just how bad is another matter.
Over the last four games, the Yanks are 1-3. They managed to beat Johan Santana but have since been shut down by the likes of Oliver Perez, some guy named Scott Feldman and Kevin Millwood. That’s quite the rogues’ gallery of pitchers.
With the help of Baseball Reference, we know some cold, hard facts about the Yankee offense lately. Since Saturday, the Yanks have 140 plate appearances. They’re hitting, as a team, .172 with a .230 OBP and a .258 slugging. While the Yanks have had a few unimpressive four-game streaks this season, this one is by far the worst of the year.
For the Yankees, the timing of this slump couldn’t really be much worse. After closing their AL East deficit to about five games, they’ve slipped a beat. Just four games over .500, the Yanks find themselves 7.5 games behind the red-hot Rays and five games behind Boston in a very crowded Wild Card race.
With the Red Sox and Rays due in for a four- and two-game set, respectively, the Yanks needed to beat a mediocre Texas team before playing the AL East’s top dogs. But our Bombers, it seems, weren’t up to the task, and once Texas leaves town this evening, the Yanks — and their currently slumping offense — will face its toughest challenge of the year. While no team built like the Yanks and with their resources can ever be considered down and out by July 10, we’ll know in a week what sort of team we’re pulling for this year and what to expect over the last 70 games of the season.
Well, at least we know our owner can pick out the obvious. Hank Steinbrenner has opened his mouth again, so we in blogosphere are ready to listen with open ears. It’s nothing much, really, just echoing a lot of the talking points about the team’s poor offensive play. Strange part of the quote: “I don’t know. Maybe a little less outside distractions and a little more concentrating and they’ll start hitting better.” Is there any outside distraction in particular that you’re worried about, Mr. Steinbrenner?
For what it’s worth, the Yanks are 6-7 since the Yanks allowed ice cream back in the clubhouse. · (19) ·
From the D-Backs’ official site: “[Catcher Chris] Snyder was hit by a foul ball off the bat of Milwaukee outfielder Corey Hart in the fourth inning. Snyder was diagnosed with a left testicular fracture and will have surgery on Wednesday.” And you thought what happened to Jose Molina the other day was bad. · (13) ·
July 2nd always used to be an exciting day for me, it was basically another amateur draft, minus the bothersome shackles of the predetermined selection order. I’ve sort of lost interest though, the too-good-to-be-true scouting reports and Age-Gate have since turned me off. I’m not going to spend too much time discussing the goings-on (especially since this year’s big prize, Michel Inoa, is already off the market), but luckily Eric at Pending Pinstripes will. He’s got a list of confirmed signings set up that he’ll update as the news trickles in, and also a general discussion thread. Baseball America has an in-depth preview up at their site (subscribers only, sorry), and Saber-Scouting has all sorts of good info available (free!). · (23) ·
Ian Kinsler last night was a one-man wrecking crew at the top of the Rangers’ lineup. He went two for three with two walks, stole three bases and scored the game-winning run in the top of the 9th. For his efforts, Yankee fans and the YES Network awarded him with the Chevy Player of the Game. Let’s see if we can do better.
On the season, Kinsler is having quite a year in his third year with the Rangers. He’s hitting .324/.380/.536 with 187 total bases, 13 HR, 50 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He’s been caught on the base paths just once. By any stretch, those numbers make him the obvious choice for the All Star Game.
Except that he plays in Texas, and really, who follows the Rangers? Instead, this guy with his .303/.348/.439 line is leading in the latest AL balloting results. While honestly Dustin Pedroia isn’t a bad choice for second base, he’s not the best choice, and he’s not the guy Yankee fans want to see manning second base during the All Star Game in the Bronx in two weeks.
So with just 14 hours left in the voting, let’s see what we can do. Let’s get Pedroia out, and Kinsler in. In the grand style of Chicago politics, everyone is allowed to vote up to 25 times (per e-mail address) on MLB.com. If, optimistically, just half of the visitors to RAB voted for Ian Kinsler 25 times today, we could send nearly 100,000 votes his way. Stranger things have happened.
Head on over to the MLB.com All Star Ballot, and vote Kinsler. Otherwise, don’t complain when widdle Dusty is starting at second base in two weeks.
For much of the evening, the YES Network camera crews kept cutting back to a little boy sitting behind home plate. At various points in the game, those of us watching at home enjoyed the privilege of seeing the boy eating a hot dog and some ice cream, drinking a soda, getting a foul ball, cheering on the Yanks, getting another foul ball and magnanimously giving said ball to a fellow kid in the stands. It was nearly more entertaining than the squirrels they love to show.
Of course, this kid was enjoying the game from seats that cost upward of $300 per ticket, but hey, he was cute. Or something.
But he didn’t have the best — or the most expensive — seat in the house. That honor was reserved for the Yankees’ very own $21-million man. Derek Jeter, All Star short stop and future Hall of Famer, got the night of to rest, and when the Yanks needed his bat the most, Derek, at the orders of his manager, just sat on the bench, watching his time waste a lead-off walk and lose another one-run game to the Texas Rangers, this one by the score of 3-2.
I hardly need to rehash the 9th inning. Mariano Rivera, appropriately, come in to pitch the 9th, but in a non-save situation, he struggled. Three runners reached base, and the Rangers plated a run that would eventually saddle Rivera with the loss. Curiously, on the season, Rivera is 22 for 22 in save situations with a 0.00 ERA. He’s allowed 8 hits and 2 walks to go with 27 strike outs over 23.1 innings. But in non-save situations, he’s 2-3 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings. He’s allowed 12 hits and just one walk to go with 15 strike outs. I wonder why.
But such is the way of baseball. The Rivera move was the right one; it just backfired. Ten minutes later, Joe Girardi had a chance to make another move, and he made the wrong one. Wilson Betemit, the King of Swing, drew a four-pitch walk. It was just his second four-pitch walk of the season.
With the tying run on base, Girardi had what seemed to be the easiest decision to make as Melky Cabrera, then 0 for his last 18, heading to the plate. Girardi could have used Derek Jeter to pinch hit; he should have had Melky bunt. Instead, Melky fell behind 0-2 on two called strikes. He then swung and hit into a double play. Who didn’t see that one coming from three miles away?
The decision didn’t make sense as the at-bat unfolded; it still doesn’t make sense two hours later. With one of the best hitters of the generation on the bench and the Yanks’ searching for a win, their manager opted to have their worst regular — Cano is at .245, Melky .240 — bat. While I’d hardly advocate for the bunt, if ever there was a chance to give up an out for whatever perceived greater good exists in the 9th inning of a one-run game, that was it. But Melky swung; the Rangers turned two; and the Yanks lost. They lost the game; they lost more ground; and they’ve lost whatever momentum they had after rebounding from that 15-6 loss on Friday.
A note on Joba Chamberlain: Tonight was not a good start, and as Mike said to me after the game, two things are common with young pitchers: They take their lumps, and they get injured. Tonight, Joba suffered through the former. He was rushing his delivery a bit, and he couldn’t find Posada’s target. He threw 91 pitches, just 49 of them for strikes and walked four in four innings.
Unlike Ian Kennedy’s control problems earlier this year in which he was trying to paint the corners and miss, Joba simply didn’t have it tonight. While some — cough cough Mike and the Mad Dog cough cough — may try to draw comparisons, the situations aren’t even analogous. Amusingly enough, even on his worst night, Joba still managed to strike out six in four innings. Mostly, he was ineffectively wild, but as the flailing Rangers bat showed, he had bursts of effective wildness tonight.
The Yanks’ bullpen picked up the slack; once again, the bats did not.