With interleague play making its return tonight, the Yankees find themselves in the unenviable position of losing the DH. While Jason Giambi‘s bat will stay in the lineup, the Yanks will either have to sacrifice Hideki Matsui‘s bat or Johnny Damon‘s bat and defense (or, as a few commenters have noted, Melky Cabrera). That’s
not an easy decision to make.
Making matters worse for the Yanks is the lack of data against tonight’s starter Shawn Chacon. No one on the Yanks outside of Bobby Abreu has faced the former Bronx flash-in-the-pan more than a handful of times. Matsui is 2 for 3 off of Chacon, Damon is 1 for 5 and Melky is 1 for 1. Decision. Decisions. Decisions.
Meanwhile, as the Yanks head to an NL park, their pitchers will have to bat. Overall, the Yanks on the team with official at-bats are a whopping 36 for 295. That’s .122 for those keeping score at home and a far cry from their DH production this season (.319/.407/.504). With the Yanks offense slogging along, it’s time for the guys slumping and underperforming — middle infielders, I’m lookin’ at you — to pick it up a bit.
So that’s the way the Yankees are supposed to play. The Yankees capitalized on Joe Blanton’s one mistake, and Andy Pettitte pitched eight dominant innings as the Yanks won 4-1 behind a grand slam from Hideki Matsui on his 34th birthday. Pettitte rebounded from one of his worst outings of his career to stifle the A’s, and the Yanks head into Houston winning two out of three on the brief West Coast trip. Congratulations are in order too for Mariano Rivera. His two strike outs moved him ahead of David Cone into 16th place on the Yankees’ all-time strike out list. And that’s all she wrote. · (26) ·
Triple-A Scranton (5-4 loss to Richmond in 13 innings, walk-off style)
Brett Gardner, Eric Duncan & Matt Carson: all 1 for 6 – Gardner scored a run, drove in another, walked & K’ed 4 times … Duncan K’ed twice … Carson drove in 2 runs & K’ed
JD Closser: 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 CS
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 3, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) – on base 20 times in his last 7 games
Jason Christian: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 BB
Nick Green & Bernie Castro: both 2 for 6 – Green doubled, drove in a run & K’ed – Castro stole a base & was picked off first
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 6-6 GB/FB – picked a runn off first, but he gave up a homer to Sal Fasano … Sal freaking Fasano
Scott Strickland: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K - only 8 of 22 pitches were strikes (36.4%)
Heath Phillips: 0.1 IP, zeroes
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K
Billy Traber: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 3-2 GB/FB
David Robertson: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K – this time last year, he was still in Charleston
Steven “don’t call me” White: 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K – to make it worse, Scranton took the lead in the top half of the inning thanks to a Brett Gardner bases loaded walk … the link is for those of you that never got the reference
There was a game in Boston back in 2006 — May 22 — where the Yanks were getting beat 9-1 by the Sox headed into the top of the 9th. A few hits, combined with back-to-back shots by A-Rod and Jorge, netted the Yanks four runs in a futile comeback attempt. But Paul O’Neill said something peculiar, to the effect that it’s good to score runs late when you’re getting blown out. It shows you have life, and you’re bound to win the next day.
Being at the height of my sabermetric obsession (which, thankfully, has long since passed), I wrote him off as being a bit batty, and looking too much with his eyes and not with the logic and reason of statistics. Fool! Not him, but me. Turns out, the Yanks did win the next game. At that point, I decided to make a note of any situations in which the Yanks were getting blown out, scored a few in the ninth, and won the next day.
To this day, every time the Yanks have been in that situation, they’ve won the next day. Well, at least every time I’ve remembered to make the note. I was going to mention this trend on May 9, the day after the Yanks were down 6-1 going into the ninth in Detroit, and mustered four runs. I held off, though. Yet, the Yankees won again.
Is there truth to Paulie’s statement? Clearly, there’s no way to prove it. But from my limited and likely skewed observation, it has merit. So there is hope for tonight. I’ll be interested to see how this all plays out.
Notes: Per PeteAbe: Albalaedjo is done for the season. Hughes will start a throwing program in two weeks. Say hello to winter ball, Phil.
And on the mound, number forty-six, Andy Pettitte.
So here we are again, a few hours away from another game in which the Yanks could sneak above that .500 mark. It’s been quite the battle really. Since April 23, the Yankees have been no more than one game above .500, and it seems as though the team has been running in place, waiting that big blow.
For the first few weeks of the season, fans were content enough to compare 2008 to 2007. The Yanks started very slow and made a race of it in the AL East last year before walking away with the Wild Card. So why couldn’t they do the same thing this year?
Right now, the Yanks are 33-33, seven games out of first. They’re also five games behind Tampa Bay for the Wild Card. Last year, at this point, the Yanks were 34-32, 8.5 games behind the Red Sox and 4.5 games behind the Wild Card-leading Tigers.
So my question for you tonight as we once again await a 10 p.m. start is this: Are the Yankees in a better spot in 2008 than in 2007 or a worse spot?
I’m leaning toward better. The team has a lot more potential than the 2007 version did, and the Yanks are primed to see contributions from some of their young guns soon. Ian Kennedy will return and hopefully throw better; Phil Hughes should be back around August. Derek Jeter won’t be so anemic at the plate for the duration of the year, and Cano should get back on track.
But perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you see an aging team with bad contracts and a piecemeal bullpen. Perhaps you see an offense relying too much on Jason Giambi‘s hot bat and Johnny Damon‘s fast start. Perhaps you are low on Kennedy and Hughes. But that’s why we debate. So have fun; play nice.
Until the Yankees rolled into Oakland, Darrell Rasner had been dealing. In six starts covering 38.1 innings, the righty had allowed 36 hits and five walks while striking out 23 and pitching to a 2.38 ERA.
The wheels, however, came off in a big way last night. Rasner lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits. He walked one while striking out four, and his ERA jumped over a run to 3.64. The A’s basically went to town on Rasner.
Now, there are two ways to look at last night. One is to say that Rasner was bound to have a bad start. Following that outing, his 2008 totals aren’t that far off from his career line. But the way he reached that regression I find to be interesting.
Prior to last night, Rasner had thrown 386 out of 585 pitches — or 66 percent — for strikes. Of those, 63 percent were strikes with contact either on foul balls or balls put into play; nine percent were swinging strikes; and the remainder — 28 percent — were called strikes.
Last night, Rasner’s strike totals were actually in line with his season totals. While he threw just 62.4 percent of his pitches for strikes, 45 percent of those were called strikes while about 7.5 percent were swinging strikes. The contact strikes and balls in play made up the rest of those numbers.
So what do we learn here? Rasner got into trouble last night because he could not locate his pitches. During the endless third inning in which the A’s hit everything Rasner had to offer, his pitches, usually on the corner, were straying to the middle of the plate. I think the higher percentage of called strikes attests to that. Rasner couldn’t push the pitches far enough to the corners, and the A’s were hitting solid line drives off the righty.
With Ian Kennedy on the mend and the Yanks much higher on Kennedy than they are on Rasner, it will be interesting to see how Rasner adjusts over the next few weeks. If the Yanks opt to stick with a five-man rotation, he’ll draw the weak-hitting Padres on Tuesday and the Reds on Sunday. Beyond that, we’ll have a better idea of Rasner’s stuff and ability.
I wavered on posting this, but Tony’s a real good guy — talked shop with him during a Phil Hughes rehab start last season. What held me back was my contempt for the Star Ledger’s Dan Graziano. Never liked the guy’s writing. Judging by his answers in Tony’s interview, he’s not a bad guy. But we all have our personal tastes when it comes to baseball literature.
He and Tony shoot the breeze on the 2008 Yankees, Joba as a starter, and the relationship between bloggers and reporters. So head on over and give it a read. · (7) ·
Today marks Hideki Matsui’s 34th birthday (and my mom’s birthday too), and in honor of the Japanese star’s big day, Go Go Curry is offering up a birthday special, the always-entertaining and amusing Midtown Lunch blog reports. Customers stopping by their store on 38th St. between 7th and 8th Aves. will get a coupon for three free toppings. So if you’re still undecided on lunch today, why not, right? · (10) ·
In February, when word came down that the new Yankee Stadium was nearly half a billion dollars over budget, Yanks COO Lonn Trost seemed rather sanguine about the whole thing. “We’ll make it up some way,” Trost said.
Well, four months later, the Yanks are attempting to make public funds that “some way.” According to numerous reports, the Yankees, via New York’s elected officials, are petitioning the IRS for some rule changes that would make the team eligible for another $350 million in tax-exempt public bonds. The Associated Press reports:
New York City officials confirmed on Wednesday that the Yankees might be interested in seeking more public financing to build their new stadium, pending a regulation change by the Internal Revenue Service.
“The effort on the completion bonds will not affect the completion of the stadium,” the team president, Randy Levine, said in a statement. “We are working under the strong leadership of the city and state along with other projects to seek relief from the I.R.S. regulation.”
Janel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the city’s Economic Development Corporation, which is working with the Yankees, said the project was not threatened. But, she said, the city is working to relieve a regulation that prohibits more public debt to be incurred for the stadium.
While the Yankees would not confirm just how much they’re seeking, Assemblyman Richard Brodsky said the club would like another $400 million. So at this point, can we just put to bed any shred of the notion that the public isn’t on the hook for a vast portion of this stadium plan?
Over at Field of Schemes, Neil deMause speculates that this move could cost the city as much as $60 million in anticipated revenues. At a time when budgets are tight across New York, city officials should probably not be supporting the Yanks’ push for more tax-exempt funding beyond the $941 million the team has already received.