Just two days ago, I wrote up a 14-strike out game tossed by Andy Pettitte and the Yankee bullpen. It was the first time in nearly two years that the Yanks had reached that lofty K plateau. Little did I know they would reach — and exceed — that level again less than 48 hours later.
Behind a strong, 100-pitch outing from Joba Chamberlain, four Yankee pitchers combined for a whopping 15 strike outs of the San Diego Padres. Joba started off the fun with 2 K’s in the first and hardly looked back. On the day, he threw a few too many balls (42) and issued a few too many walks (3), but in 5.2 innings, Joba struck out nine and gave up just four hits. Outside of a rough first outing, his transition into the rotation has been about as smooth as we could expect.
On the season, Joba has yet to pick up a win as a starter, but to anyone who follows the team, that matters very little. The Yanks are now 3-1 in Joba’s four starts, and the right-hander has thrown 18.1 innings while striking out 19. For all the analysts who said Joba couldn’t keep up his velocity and strike out totals, Chamberlain is doing a good job of proving them wrong so far.
Of course, it’s still early on in Joba’s career, and he’s still finding his way as a Major League starter. The walk total — 12 in 18.1 innings — is, point blank, unacceptable. It will get better.
After Joba’s departure, Jose Veras, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera combined for 3.1 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief. The trio struck out six with Mariano Rivera’s continuing to utterly dominate the Padres. He faced San Diego three times this week and nailed down seven strike outs.
Offensively, the Yankees took advantage of the Padres’ weakness. While Josh Banks continued his stellar pitching this season, the Yanks exploited the Padres’ catchers. Melky Cabrera scored the Yanks’ first run of the game off a walk, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly. A Derek Jeter stolen base put him in position to advance to third on a Bobby Abreu ground-out and score on an A-Rod single. Who says the Yanks can’t run?
With that win, the Yanks win their seventh in a row. It is their longest winning streak since they won nine in a row against the White Sox, Pirates and Diamondbacks in June of 2007. The Yanks, it seem, love beating up those weak NL teams.
Riding high on a win streak and just 2.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Tampa Bay Rays, the Yanks will meet the Reds, another last-place NL team, this weekend. Edinson Volquez and his sub-2.00 ERA go on Friday. The Yanks are finding ways to win big and small, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it.
Update: After listening to the mixdown through the internal audio player, I changed the levels and uploaded a new version. So if you caught a broken link, it’s back up and running now.
We’re going to try something a bit different over the next few weeks, leading up to the July 31 trading deadline. It’ll be a weekly podcast going over the trade environment at the time. We’ll talk about needs, wants, rumors, and other potential maneuvers.
This week, it’s me going solo, though I’ll be joined by Mike and Ben as time permits. Also, if you’d like to “call in,” so to speak, just hit me with an email and we’ll try to work something out.
Today I talk about — what else — starting pitching, Cleveland’s situation in evaluating a return for C.C. Sabathia, bullpen help, and a defensive first baseman.
If you want to download the podcast, you can right click here and hit “Save As.” Otherwise, it will launch the podcast in a new screen. Otherwise, you can just use the audio player below.
Can you believe that, by the end of next week, we’ll be at the mid-point of the 2008 baseball season? It seems like only yesterday we watched the Yanks emerge victorious on Opening Day against the Blue Jays.
The story today, as it is every five day, is Joba Chamberlain. While Joba has yet to pick up his first win a starter, he’s done quite well for himself so far. In three starts spanning 12.2 innings, his ERA is 2.84, and he’s maintaining a high strike out rate. While he’s walked nine — that’s too many — his stuff has looked good. Today, he’s up over 100 pitches, and by all accounts, he’s basically off the pitch count now. It will be interesting to see how he does against a weak Padres lineup.
Hideki Matsui is out again. He says he’s available to pinch hit.
Game time is 1:05 p.m. Apparently, MLB likes to schedule getaway-day day games for teams that aren’t the Yankees or Mets. Go figure.
Site Notes: Check back later this afternoon for the first RAB podcast, and we’ll have an ever-popular Open Thread tonight, topic TBD.
P-Abe notes that the Yanks signed a bunch of draft picks in the last few days, including 5th rounder Chris Smith and 8th rounder (and super sleeper) Dan Brewer. Smith is the kid that hit .708 with a .2100+ OPS as a senior in high school last year, and he’s already getting overhyped. They’re high school stats, throw them right out the window, they’re useless. Pete also notes that 7th rounder Kyle Higashioka was in the clubhouse yesterday and took BP with a team, while NoMaas shows that 6th rounder Brett Marshall was kickin’ it with the team during their recent trip to Houston. Signings for the top 3 guys will probably go down to the wire, but you can see all of the picks & signings here. · (25) ·
The Freakonomics blog points to a study about the impact of jet lag on baseball players. As Scientific American summaries, “A new study shows that MLB teams that travel such distances to play a game could have up to a 60 percent chance of losing.” The study goes on to note that the advantage dwindles as teams get more acclimated to the new time zone and suggests that MLB factor in days of rest at the start of long road trips. Freakonomics also links to a Science Blogs post noting that the Amphetamines ban may account for the jet lag effect. · (6) ·
Let’s start with the familiar refrain: Johnny Damon and Alex Rodriguez paced the Yankees with three hits apiece, including one loooong home run for A-Rod. Darrell Rasner did what a fourth starter should do and gritted it out for five innings en route to his fourth win of the year and the Yanks’ sixth straight victory.
Now, the bad stuff: The Yankees scored eight runs against the Padres tonight and led the game for eight innings, but they could never put it away because the bullpen continued to allow San Diego back in the game. In both cases, I blame the pitchers.
We begin in the sixth inning. Darrell Rasner had labored through five innings, allowing eight base runners but only two runs. Just 55 of his 96 pitches were strikes. Against a better team, Rasner would have ended up a with a much worse pitching line.
In the sixth, Joe Girardi opted to call upon Edwar Ramirez, and the righty responded by dispatching the Padres on nine pitches. Ramirez earned himself a second inning of work, and after two outs, he surrendered back-to-back home runs on bad pitches to the Padres. After getting the third out, the Yanks would emerge from the top of the 7th up by just a run.
In the bottom of the inning, the Yanks plated two more, and Girardi went to Kyle Farnsworth. The enigmatic and infuriating reliever promptly allowed a home run, and two batters later, Khalil Greene doubled. I guess Kyle just wanted to pitch with the tying run up at the plate for as long as possible.
Eventually, he worked out of trouble; the Yanks scored another run in the 8th; and Rivera would exert himself through all of 11 pitches to nail down his 19th save of the season. Little harm, no foul, I guess.
But the problem is that for Farnsworth — and, recently, Edwar Ramirez — these struggles are a common occurrence. Ramirez has now given up a terrible nine HR in 43 big league innings, and until he gets that long ball rate down, the Yanks will never be able to rely on him in tight games.
Meanwhile, Farnsworth has been nothing short of bad over the last month. Since May 17, Farnsworth has appeared in 13 games, throwing 13.1 innings. He’s given up 17 hits and nine earned runs (6.08 ERA). While he’s struck out 10, he’s also walked six and has surrendered five home runs. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 23 baserunners in 13.1 innings, and prior to Padres’ 2-for-5 evening , opponents were hitting .333/.423/.667 off Kyle since mid-May.
Joe Girardi, meanwhile, just doesn’t get it. While no manager would throw his own players under the bus, Joe has been a little too gracious: “You let them pass. They’ve been throwing the ball so well. Even Eddie tonight, he threw the ball so well. You hate for that to happen. I was happy with the way he threw the ball. Farnsy, he gave up a leadoff home run and then he bucked down. I’m not concerned.”
He’s not concerned, but the rest of us are. Right now, Farnsworth has done nothing to earn Girardi’s trust while Jose Veras, over the same time period, has put up numbers much better than Farnsworth’s. One of Girardi’s supposed strengths as manager was his approach to bullpen management, but so far, all we’ve seen is the same old “trust the same guys” approach that Joe Torre displayed to a fault. Tonight, it didn’t hurt the Yankees, but will they be so lucky next time?
Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off day. Sidney Ponson showed up for the postgame spread anyway.
Double-A Trenton (9-8 loss to Harrisburg)
Ramiro Pena & Edwar Gonzalez: both 1 for 5, 1 R – Pena hit a solo jack … Edwar doubled & K’ed
Austin Jackson: 2 or 5, 1 R, 2 K – the HR streak ends at 4 games … rockin’ a .902 OPS this month
Colin Curtis: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Cody Ehlers: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
Jose Tabata: 2 for 4, 3 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB – hopefully he builds off this game
Chris Malec: 2 for 3, 1 HBP – picked off 2nd in the 9th inning of a 1-run game, ouch babe … 11 for his last 26
Reegie Corona: 1 for 4, 2 RBI
Jason Jones: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 7-3 GB/FB
Anthony Claggett: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K – first runs allowed since May 22nd
Steven Jackson: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
Bo Hall: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
While the core of the Yankee lineup has recently been hitting the tar out of the baseball, Hideki Matsui has not. In 57 June plate appearances, Matsui is batting .260/.351/.340 with just two extra-base hits. He’s hit just one home run since May 18.
Matsui has always been something of a streaky hitter, but something larger seems to be up. Hideki is not in the Yankee lineup tonight, and his left knee is under examination. Matsui, according to PeteAbe, will get his knee drained and may be heading for the MRI tube. He’s definitely not available for tonight’s contest, and I’m sure he’ll be sitting during tomorrow afternoon’s game as well. The good news, at least, is that this is not the same knee Matsui got surgically repaired last year.
The Yankees can ill afford another injury right now, and they will take every precaution possible with Matsui and his balky knees. The hot-hitting Jason Giambi gets the start at DH, and the swing-at-everything Wilson Betemit will attempt to man the first-base bag.
On the hill tonight is Darrell Rasner. Once the Cinderella story of the season, Rasner has struggled — or is that regressed? — a bit over this last four outings. He is 0-4 with a 5.09 ERA over that span, and he’s allowed 31 hits in 23 innings. He’s keeping the walks down and the strike outs up, but opponents are hitting .326/.356/.495 off of him. We need the good Darrell Rasner to re-emerge, and the weak-hitting Padres may be just the key. San Diego countering with Jake Peavy, one of the few legitimate stars on the team.
Game Notes: The Yankees have re-signed Sidney Ponson. Sir Sidney finds himself in Scranton for now but could start one of the games of next Friday’s Subway Series double header.
This space reserved for restaurants. (Photo by Ben K.)
New baseball stadiums these days are all about the synergy. Restaurants, bars and kiddie-oriented theme parks dominate the stadiums while the game can often become a secondary enjoyment. In fact, the teams operating the ballparks would rather see their patrons frequent the restaurants and spend their bucks on booze.
With old Yankee Stadium, the Yankees’ entertainment options have long been limited. While the team is rolling in dough, the men holding the purse strings have seen the revenue opportunities available as new stadiums have popped up across the country. With the new stadium, the Yanks have the opportunity to expand this economic base, and they’re wasting no time in doing so. The Yankees and the Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment company announced a new partnership and two restaurants planned for the new stadium.
Per the Yankees’ press release:
The New York Yankees announced today that they have agreed to enter into a long-term agreement with Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment to open a 7,000-square-foot Hard Rock Cafe in the new Yankee Stadium. In addition, YGE Steakhouses, an affiliate of the Yankees’ parent company, Yankee Global Enterprises, has joined with Hard Rock Entertainment to create the newly-branded NYY Steak, a prime steakhouse also slated for the new Yankee Stadium. Both restaurants will be operated year-round. The agreement also permits the parties to explore other NYY Steak locations.
Hard Rock Cafe Yankee Stadium will be located on the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue and feature seating for 210 guests. It will be open year-round to ticketholders and non-ticketholders alike with a full bar and patio seating. The restaurant will house memorabilia from top artists, with an emphasis on New York-area talent and additional Yankees-related pieces.
NYY Steak will open above the Hard Rock Cafe in right field in the new Yankee Stadium. Based on the successful Council Oak Steak & Seafood Restaurants at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, Fla., the new restaurant will occupy 6,300 square feet of space with seating for 128 guests. The restaurant will be open throughout the year and have extended hours on game days. It will be operated by Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment.
While the anti-new stadium skeptic in me looks at this deal as simply another strike against the new stadium — going to a game is about seeing baseball and not Rock ‘n’ Roll history — this is one move the Yanks have made that benefits the community. Now, instead of just offering off-season tours, Yankee Stadium will become a tourist attraction in the South Bronx. The restaurants will employ, according to Yanks’ COO Lonn Trost, local union members in full- and part-time capacities throughout the year, and its year-round business will draw people to that corner of the Bronx after baseball season ends.
From a construction standpoint, I can’t quite figure out where this restaurant is going to be. Earlier reports had some restaurants in center field, but this press release says right. The picture above shows the right field entrances, and we don’t yet know what will be behind those walls. Either way, the new stadium will feature a Hard Rock Cafe and a NYY Steak restaurant. Love it or hate it, it’s the ballpark wave of the present.
Welcome back, Sidney. The most famous Aruban baseball player, recently released from the Rangers for his bad behavior, will report to Scranton and is now first in line for a rotation spot. Where’s my Aruban judge? I owe him a kick to the head. (And, yes, I know: Low risk, high reward. But still.) · (30) ·