In the fourth inning of the Yankees-Twins game on June 1, Bobby Abreu lined a ball off Nathan Blackburn’s face. Blackburn left the game but ended up being OK. Since then, however, Bobby Abreu has struggled. He was 0 for 1in his final at-bat of the day, and since June 2, he’s hitting .189/.241/.284 over 79 plate appearances. He’s struck out just nine times. So perhaps he’s just been unlucky. It’s scary to see a pitcher get knocked out by a ball, and it could be impacting the Yanks’ number three hitter. · (4) ·
Triple-A Scranton (9-5 win over Toledo)
Brett Gardner: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB – remember when Melky struck out swinging on a pitch over his head with the bases loaded in the second inning against a pitcher making his ML debut in Yankee Stadium today? so do I …
Justin Christian: 3 for 5, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K – 13 for his last 33 with 8 SB
Shelley Duncan: 2 for 3, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
Juan Miranda, Matt Carson & Eric Duncan: all 2 for 5, 2 RBI – Miranda doubled, scored a run & K’ed thrice … Carson & Duncan each K’ed twice … Duncan also committed a fielding error at the hot corner
Cody Ransom: 1 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
JD Closser: 0 for 3, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
Chris Basak: 0 for 4 – welcome back Chris … remember his at-bat with the Yanks in San Fran last year? he hit a rocket into the gap, stood on second thinking it was a double, but he was actually out because the outfielder caught it? … ah good times
Sidney Ponson: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 7-3 GB/FB – 46 of 78 pitches were strikes (59.0%) … Steven White was recently DFA’ed (he cleared waivers and still with the team, no surprise), which could be a precursor to Ponson starting one of the games during next Friday’s split-stadium doubleheader against the Mets … or, it could be to open a 40-man spot for Jason Lane, who hasn’t played since Friday, to join the team in Pittsburgh (which is when they said they’d stop carrying 3 catcher) … they could easily shift Hughes or Wang to the 60-day DL to free up a spot for Ponson … [/thinkingoutloud]
Scott Patterson: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP – only 16 of 29 pitches were strikes, a very un-Patterson-like (55.1%)
Steven Jackson: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
David Robertson: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 18 baserunners & 31 K in his last 17.2 IP … hot damn
Scott Strickland: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Here’s a good stat for you: Teams that leave 12 runners on base without scoring a run lose 100 percent of the time.
We could complain about Dan Giese’s error. We could bemoan the state of the soft underbelly of the Yankee bullpen. We could question A-Rod‘s missed tag on a ball that wasn’t going to be a double play anyway. But the reality is that the Yanks’ offense couldn’t muster anything, and had Dan Giese given up just one run, the Yanks would have lost anyway.
For the game, Dan Giese pitched exceptionally well. Despite the loss, he far exceeded expectations and has earned himself a few more starts in the Bronx. He lasted 6.2 innings and gave up 3 runs — none earned — on 4 hits. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 5. He threw 53 of 75 pitches for strikes.
And therein lies the rub. While I hate to criticize Giese for his masterfully pitched game, his last pitch showed something of a mistaken approach. After throwing two curve balls that Edwin Encarnacion fouled back, Giese was ahead 0-2. It was the perfect opportunity to throw a few pitches out of the zone to get Encarnacion out on something junky and off the plate.
Instead, Giese came in with an 86-mph fastball that stayed straight, and according to Gameday, arrived at the plate right in Encarnacion’s wheelhouse. The two-run single would be all that the Reds would need. It was the perfect example of a pitcher throwing too many strikes.
In the end, the Yanks lost because they scored no runs. That’s all there is to it. They’ve scored just four over their last three games and are due for a big offensive day. And, hey, they’re still 7-2 over their last nine games, and as I said last night, I’d take that any time of year.
I have long been fascinated with Cuban baseball. The island nation, 90 miles away from the U.S. geographically, but a world a part politically, features some of the best baseball players that no one has ever heard of. In July’s Vanity Fair, Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame pens one of the best magazine pieces on baseball I’ve ever read. His title: Commie Ball: A Journey to the End of a Revolution.
Lewis’ story is fascinating on two fronts. First, he explores the sad and odd case of Gus Dominguez, a Cuban American serving jail time for allegedly smuggling athletes into the U.S. from Cuba. As Lewis makes abundantly clear in the article, Dominguez’s guilt is highly questionable, and despite a verdict from the jury and his current five-year sentence, the government’s case against him is both full of holes and indicative of the current state of the nation’s immigration policies.
The second part of the story involves a journey Lewis made — somewhat secretly, somewhat not, as you’ll see — to Cuba to explore the Communist nation and understand what baseball means to Cuba. While it clocks in at 25 printed pages, the piece is exceptional, and I highly recommend it for its stories, its characters, and Lewis’ writing. [Commie Ball with a hat tip to the Banter and Dayn Perry] · (4) ·
If that exhilarating Dan Giese-Daryl Thompson matchup in the Bronx doesn’t do it for you, flip on over to ESPN at 2pm EST to check out sandwich rounder Jeremy Bleich try to save Stanford’s season in the College World Series. If the Cardinal wins today, they’ll take on Georgia again tomorrow, winner goes to the CWS Finals. If Georgia wins today, Stanford goes home and Georgia will take on either UNC or Fresno State in the Finals. Talk about the game here if you want, here’s the Game Tracker if you can’t get in front of a TV. · (46) ·
So today’s the big day for Dan Giese, and we’ll see what life is like without Chien-Ming Wang for the Yankees.
The Yankees are starting the post-Wang’s Injury Era with 31-year-old Dan Giese. He is making his first Major League start. In 7.3 innings in long relief this year for the Bombers, Giese has allowed six hits and one run while walking one and striking out four. On the other side of the ball, the Reds are tossing Daryl Thompson, a 22-year-old righty with just 18 innings of AAA experience.
How about a win?
Game time is 1:05 p.m, and I’ll be enjoying this one from section 6 in the Tier Reserve.
The Yankees say they’ve had independent contractors check their concrete. (Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times)
As many builders do during big-ticket construction projects, the Yankees have kept an eye out on the quality of the materials used in the new Yankee Stadium. They’ve also managed to uncover some form of corruption, and in Saturday’s Times, a story about the concrete used in the stadium construction is plastered across the front page of the Old Grey Lady.
Testwell Laboraties Inc., the company hired to provide the Yankees and the Freedom Tower with concrete, is, according to William K. Rashbaum’s piece, under investigation for falsifying test results and flat-out omitting others. Rashbaum reports on the Manhattan prosecutor’s efforts:
The investigation has uncovered problems with tests the company conducted on concrete poured over the last two years at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and the foundation of the Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan, along with as many as a dozen other projects, said several of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
The investigation has also raised questions about past work done by the company, Testwell Laboratories Inc., at a wide range of sites around the city. Construction and inspection practices in the city are already under scrutiny as a result of a series of fatal accidents and arrests on corruption charges…
The investigation centers on allegations that the company in some instances failed to do preliminary tests, including some known as slump tests, and later falsified the results of more sophisticated compression tests, officials said. A building boom in the city, meanwhile, has fueled the demand for concrete — supplied by an industry that still bears the taint of decades of mob domination.
Ah, the mob. Nary a construction project goes through in New York without some allegation of mob involvement, and that’s why the Labor Racketeering Unit in the Manhattan D.A.’s office is on the case.
For their part, the Yankees say they’ve hired an oversight company to ensure Testwell’s materials are up to par, and in fact, this action brought about the city investigation. Per Rashbaum:
Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for the Yankees, said that a company hired by the team to monitor the stadium project, a common practice in large construction endeavors in an effort to uncover fraud and abuse, discovered problems with Testwell’s work and began its own internal investigation. The monitor, Ed Stier of Thacher Associates, took the information he developed about the tests to the authorities.
In the end, this is simply construction oversight by a city rather on edge following two fatal crane collapses in recent months, and I don’t blame them. The Yankees, hoping to get the most out of their $1.4 billion investment, are being cautious. Only the best for the House that George Built will suffice.
As far as losses go, tonight’s was fairly expected. The Yanks were facing the NL’s ERA leader, and the team had just won seven in a row. But in a way, this loss is a bit infuriating too. With Boston and Tampa Bay both losing, the Yanks lost a chance to gain some ground. If only the breaks had gone their way.
The biggest play in the game was, besides a few early caught stealings, Johnny Damon‘s non-error on a fly ball he’ll tell he should have caught. Leading off the fifth Edwin Encarnacion hit a hard line drive at Damon, and as the Yanks’ left fielder went for the catch, he lost the ball in the glare from the lights at twilight in the Bronx. Encarnacion was awarded a double.
A few batters later — after an intentional walk that Mussina did not want to issue — Jolbert Cabrera picked up his third of four hits and drove in two runs. While he would score — and Ken Griffey would oddly high-five the umpire — the damage was done, and those two runs, the Reds’ second and third of the game, would hold up. (Later on in the game, Cabrera would leave the game with a severely dislocated finger after sliding head-first into second base. Feet first is the way to go.)
For the Yankees, they just couldn’t get any breaks. Jason Giambi missed a game-changing home run in the 7th by about a quarter of an inch when he lofted a deep fly ball to left-center field, and Wilson Betemit drove one deep only to see Jay Bruce haul it in with his back literally to the wall.
The story of the night heading into the game was Volquez, and he did not disappoint. He gave up two earned runs on seven hits while walking one and striking out five. The Yanks lost, but they didn’t gain any ground. I’ll take eight wins out of ten games any time of the season.
Game Notes Jason Giambi made the final out of the game as the potential tying run and went 0 for 4 on the night. He is now 0 for his last 12 since homering twice against San Diego on Tuesday. While we may have spoke too soon, I’d expect a hot streak from Giambi soon.
My respect for DotF‘s gone up a notch with Mike gone. This takes a looong time to compile, and I’m only doing the short version. More from me in a bit when I opine on the Yankees’ 4-2 loss to Edinson Volquez and the Reds.
AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre lost to the Toledo Mud Hens 8-4. (Box Score)
Dan McCutchen – 5 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, L (1-5) – Struggling a bit at AAA
Juan Miranda – 5 for 5, 2 2B, 2 RBI – Daaamn. He pulled a Jolbert Cabrera.
Shelley Duncan – 0 for 4, 1 BB – Shelley is 1 for 14 with 6 walks since returning to AAA
When tonight’s Reds starter Edinson Volquez made his Major League debut, he was 21 years old and a phenom out of the Texas Rangers’ system. He struggled mightily that year, going 0-4 with an ERA of 14.21.
Over the next two years, he would improve but not by much. In 2006 and 2007, he was 3-7 with a 5.90 ERA. While his strike out totals improved in 2007 to a shade under one K per inning, the Rangers opted to trade the youngster for Josh Hamilton last winter. It’s been a win-win trade for both teams.
On the season, Volquez has been one of the top NL pitchers. He’s 9-2 with a 1.64 ERA. In 88 innings, he’s given up 29 fewer hits per innings pitched, but he’s walked a batter
an inning every two innings. His 105 strike outs are rather impressive.
Volquez is a study in patience with youth. He made his debut just a few weeks after his 22nd birthday, and now he has matured into a pitcher everyone thought he would be. Keep that mind when next you disparage Phil Hughes for a bad start this year.
On the mound for the Yankees is Father Time himself, going for his 11th win. Mike Mussina will have to pitch a tight game to give the Yankees an opening they’ll need against Volquez. Game time is 7:05 p.m.