That was a pleasant surprise, now wasn’t it? Moose just handed in his best performance of the year. It was only the fourth time this year he finished the seventh inning, and the third in which he pitched more than five innings and allowed zero runs. He struck out six and walked just one (and the first batter of the game at that), en route to throwing 66 percent of his 98 pitches for strikes. He didn’t have the 90s velocity the YES gun had him at last outing, which I think says more to the YES gun’s inconsistency than to Moose’s performance. Incidentally, I set the unofficial record for saying the phrase, “Moose is dealin’!”
When I do a writeup of a game, I try to pick the three most important aspects of the game and discuss them, rather than take you inning-by-inning through a game you saw — and if you didn’t see it, you could just as easily look through the play-by-play (which I prefer from CBS, since the PBP is detailed, and their site is quick to load). Tonight, though, was more of a carnival than a game, so it feels more appropriate to pick out the attractions.
Just a minute ago, in the top of the 2nd during tonight’s Yankees-Orioles game, River Ave. Blues reached a huge milestone. Since we launched this site back on February 20, 2007, with a post previewing the college draft, we’ve had 1 million page views. The three of us never expected to find this level of popularity or participation, and we owe it all to you, the people who have read our 998 posts and have left over 7400 total comments on this site.
So as we look back on February 20, let’s first pause to make fun of Mike for saying the following in a comment: “RE: Brackman. I know all about him, but I’m not overly thrilling considering his limited track record (just 70 IP career at NC State). That said, I think there’s a better chance the Yanks will draft Jesus Christ than have Brackman fall all the way to 30.”
And let me also thank all of you who read every day. We’ve got some great plans for River Ave. Blues, and we’ll certainly be here to the next million page views and beyond. We hope you will be too.
Before I launch into the things I’ve been thinking about for three days (but haven’t posted), I just want to remind everyone of the caption contest, which ends tonight at midnight. A few made me snarf my coffee.
It’s going to be a trying game tonight. First we have Moose on the mound, and although he pitched well last Wednesday, we still don’t know exactly what to expect from him. He was hitting 90 and 91 on the YES gun, which is about three to five miles per hours faster than we’ve seen him most of the season. Hopefully the extended rest gave him a chance to heal up physically. To have the real Moose ready for the playoffs would be nothing short of extraordinary.
However, his stamina is going to be a big issue tonight. Marvelous or not last Wednesday, he still needed to be lifted after 5.2. I didn’t get a good read on him physically, but most people afterwards said he just ran out of gas. That’s understandable, given the long layoff. But Moose hasn’t been able to consistently go deep in games for some time now. He’ll need to tonight, as the bullpen is kind of thin. Mariano, Farnsy (thank God), Vizcaino, and Joba will be unavailable. That is, unless they bend the Joba rules, which I doubt they do at this point.
So who goes tonight in relief of Moose? You have to think Ohlendorf will get an inning, regardless of how the game turns out. Edwar might go one. Veras could, but do you trust him more than Chris Britton (I don’t). Kei Igawa? Hopefully that would only happen if we’re on the bad end of a blowout. Then again, who’d you rather see, Igawa, Henn, or Villone? Personally, I’d rather be kicked in the balls. Jeff Karstens, anyone?
Finally, a story has popped up on the Internets regarding Jorge Posada’s contract situation. From what his dad says, he’s ready to come back to the Yanks next year.
“Jorge belongs to the Yankees, he’s played for the team all his career and wants to remain there,” said Jorge Posada Sr. The article goes onto say that Jorge Jr. intends to sign a three-year, $36 million contract. If I’m Brian Cashman, I’m getting that deal signed now and locking it in a safety deposit box until after the season.
(Aside: The sub-head of the article says “Jorge Posada’s father said that his son, the fourth best catcher in the American League, wants a three-year extension deal for $ 36 million.” Fourth best? If by fourth he meant first, then he’s correct.)
1. Johnny Damon, DH
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, LF
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Doug Mientikiewicz, 1B
9. Melky Cabrera, CF (who is playing, essentially, in the place of Jason Giambi, who went 0 for 1 with three freakin’ walks and a HBP last night)
And on the mound, No. 35, Mike Mussina. Pitcher. No. 35.
Honestly, you want to play your hot hand, and Melky is simply not playing well. I know he brings intangibles like youth and energy to the team (and I say that with only a hint of sarcasm), but if he’s striking out, grounding into double plays, and otherwise swinging at everything thrown to him, it’s not worth it to have him in the lineup. But I suppose you have to give him a chance to bounce back.
When the Yanks take the field tonight, they will be just 3.5 games behind Boston and 3 out on the loss side. They haven’t been this close to the division lead since April, but it won’t be easy to catch that crown (and those games Tampa Bay blew last week loom large).
But the Yankees do hold something of a trump card if the improbable happens. With their victory on Sunday, the Yanks clinched the season series against the Red Sox. A tie atop the AL East hands the division title – and home field advantage should those teams meet again – to the Yankees.
Now, with two weeks left in the season, the Red Sox have 11 games left: 2 @ Toronto; 3 @ Tampa Bay; 2 vs. Oakland; 4 vs. Minnesota. The Yankees have 12 games left: 2 vs. Baltimore; 4 vs. Toronto; 3 @ Tampa Bay; 3 @ Baltimore. What needs to happen for the Yanks to tie?
|If the Red Sox go…||then the Yanks have to go…|
Right now, on paper, it’s not impossible. The Red Sox face better teams than the Yanks do. But these better teams have struggled lately, and the Yanks aren’t the greatest against their three division opponents.
But things are looking up for the Yanks. Yesterday, CoolStandings had the Yanks winning the division 6.5 percent of the time. Today, it shot up to 12 percent. As we all know, in baseball, anything can happen. It sure would be great to catch the Red Sox even if it would take a minor miracle. Or at least a major slump.
Our Fan -on-the-Field caption contest is going strong. I wanted to up the ante a little bit. I’m going to offer a prize. The winner gets the New York Yankees Vintage World Series Film DVD Set.
Here’s how it works: Right now, the contest will remain open for submissions until 11:59 p.m. ET tonight, Tuesday, September 18. At that point, we’ll pick our five favorites that were not submitted by someone who writes or is related to someone who writes for River Ave. Blues. Tomorrow afternoon, we’ll post a poll thread that will remain open for 48 hours. The winner after those 48 hours will be awarded the DVD set.
So get send submissions in to to the comments on this post. Time’s a-wastin’.
BA’s got the scoop. The Yanks are sending Brad Suttle, Austin Jackson, George Kontos and a rehabbing Mark Melancon to play for the Honolulu Sharks. Melancon, as you may recall, left Hawaii early last year to finally have his long anticipated Tommy John surgery.
That Honolulu squad looks pretty stacked based on a quick glance, as Matt Weiters, Brandon Snyder and Ryan Harvey will be joining the Yanks foursome. Let’s just hope none of Dan Bard’s “success” rubs off on any of the Yankee guys.
(hat tip to Keith Law)
For the division:
For the Wild Card:
So, with everything else being equal (though it never is), the Yanks have as good a shot of missing the playoffs as they do of winning the AL East. I like those odds.
Briefly on tonight’s game: With a very shaky Kyle Farnsworth on the mound — you jinxed him, Mike — Torre turned to Mariano Rivera to get a one-out save. Rivera gave up an RBI to Aubrey Huff before striking out Melvin Mora, the potential tying run, to end the game. In the 9th, Torre had two choices: Use someone else in a four-run game to give Rivera the night off or go with the best available option to nail down the save.
If Torre goes with someone else and that someone else coughs up the lead, Torre gets roasted. If Torre goes with Rivera in a sheer sign of desperation and overuses his best reliever some more, Torre get roasted. So it’s a no-win situation in a game that adds another tally to the Yanks’ win column.
I pose the question to you then: What do you do in the 9th inning? Do you go with Rivera even after he threw 29 pitches the night before or do you turn the ball over to one of the other guys in the pen, say Ross Ohlendorf or Chris Britton, and hope they can retire someone from the bottom of the Orioles’ lineup without giving up four runs?
I know what you’re thinking: Uh, oh, Daniel Cabrera and the Orioles. And, hey, don’t the Yankees always lose games like this?
After yesterday’s dramatic win, the Yanks face off against the Orioles tonight. All season long, the Orioles have been a thorn in the Bombers’ collective side. The Yankees are just 4-8 against a team that is 64-84. Imagine if the Orioles represent the difference between the AL East and the Wild Card or, even worse, the Wild Card and a playoff-less October. These two teams play six more teams this year, and the Yanks very well could have their playoff fate determined by the Orioles.
But I’m not ready to write off tonight’s game as one of those let-down games. We’ve got Phil Hughes on the mound. He’s pitching for his place in the postseason rotation. And the Yanks aren’t facing the same Oriole team they battled against earlier this year. Baltimore, since Dave Trembely was named permanent manager, have gone 6-19 over their last 25 games. They’ve given up 10 runs or more eight times during that stretch and managed to allow 30 runs in one game in August.
As the Indians and Tigers prepare to do battle in the Central, the Yanks need these games. With a 2.5-game Wild Card lead, they control their own fate. Winning games against the Orioles will make the team feel better about their playoff hopes, and it will make us feel better about this team come October.
Meanwhile, submit your fan-on-the-field captions here.
Thirteen games left. Melky, hitting .190/.242/.241 this month, takes a seat tonight, and the Yanks put their sub-par defensive outfield out there.
Johnny Damon CF – Yikes
Derek Jeter SS – What a weekend: 5 for 14 with 2 HR and 5 RBI.
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada C
Jason Giambi DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Doug Mientkiewicz 1B – Looks like we were right about this one for now.
Phil Hughes P