This Yankee approach to winning is becoming quite the theme. For the second time in three days, the Yanks pulled out a walk-off win to emerge victorious. By winning dramatic fashion, the Yanks’ success allows us to forget, for a few minutes, some of the poor play we saw today.
We start in the ninth inning. Today’s winning pitcher — Mariano Rivera — is on some stretch this year. Yet to blow a save, Rivera has allowed just two earned runs this year, and for a few minutes today, it looked like the second was going to cost the Yanks the game. Having just tied the contest at 10 in the bottom of the 8th, Rivera gave up a first-pitch home run in the 9th to David DeJesus. The cutter just didn’t cut. It happens, and Mo’s ERA is a whopping 0.67 now.
After DeJesus, Rivera pulled out a dominating 1-2-3 performance, and the Yanks could go to work on Joakim Soria in the bottom of the 9th. With one out, Jorge Posada homered to tie the game, and the Yankee Stadium crowd, shocked by a rare display of mortality by Rivera, came back to life. Robinson Cano saw four pitches, swung at all of them and grounded out to short. But then Mystique and Aura, Curt Schilling’s best friends, reared their heads.
Wilson Betemit drew a walk; Melky Cabrera hit an 80-foot single just down the third base line; and Johnny Damon — already five for five on the afternoon — roped a single into the right field corner. Betemit crossed the plate; the Yanks mobbed Damon, an amazing six for six on the day; and all was right in the Bronx.
But until minute 230 of this game tonight, all had not been right in the Bronx. Five days after coughing up three different leads in a game in Minnesota, Andy Pettitte couldn’t keep the Yanks and Royals close. The Yanks kept have to play catch-up, and when all was said and done, Pettitte’s final line was terrible: 6.2 IP, 10 H, 10 ER and two Jose Guillen home runs, including a grand slam.
On the season, Pettitte’s ERA is now 4.99. He’s allowed 97 hits in 79.1 innings and just hasn’t been generally sharp this year. His performance is yet another reason why the Yankees need to see how Joba fares in the rotation. They need good starting pitching, and with Wang and Pettitte struggling lately, they just aren’t getting it.
But Pettitte is to blame only in performance. The other person who, until the bottom of the ninth, carried this game, was Joe Girardi. On Pettitte’s 111th pitch with the bases loaded, Guillen, a significantly better hitter against lefties (.311/.344/.541) than against righties (.233/.258/.390) , launched a ball high and far and gone. Why is Joe Girardi, usually one to the bullpen too quickly, leaving in a scuffling Andy Pettitte to face Guillen? No one in the pen could have done worse than Pettitte.
My other two bones to pick with Girardi today came on strategic moves. In the first inning — the first inning! — with Damon off of second, Derek Jeter, number three on the Yanks’ all-time hit list, bunted. I was stunned. Considering that it was the first inning, bunting is a terrible strategic move, let alone with Jeter at the plate.
Then, in the eighth, with Damon off second and Jeter off first and one out, the Yankees were primed to steal a base. They had their best base-stealers on, and Jimmy Gobble, a lefty slow to the plate, on the hill. At no time did the runners go, and Bobby Abreu hit a very deep fly ball that David DeJesus tracked down near the wall. That out could have been a sac fly. With one out in a tie game, the Yanks have to at least try to start the runners.
Girardi has seemingly been afraid of strategic managing this year. He’s been loathe to start runners; he’s shied away from hit-and-run plays; and he seems generally satisfied to wait for the big blow that hasn’t always come for the Bombers this year. When all is said and done of course, the Yankees won today, and the game was an Instant Classic. But we should take some lessons from the first 8 innings. All was not right until Johnny Damon and Jorge Posada picked things up in the 9th.
When Frankie Cervelli broke his wrist in a Spring Training collision with
Rays’Durham Bulls infielder Elliot Johnson, we expected Cervelli to be out of action for up to three months. As that magically 12-week mark is approaching, word is that Cervelli’s rehab is progressing. The AP reported earlier this week that Cervelli is hitting in a cage and started his throwing program. Good news for the Yanks’ 27th ranked pre-draft prospect. · (6) ·
On Wednesday, April 16, the Yankees had just beaten the Red Sox in a marathon game in the Bronx. They won 15-9, and that victory moved them into a first-place tie, a season-high two games over .500. Since then, the Yanks haven’t reached that peak yet. They’ve gone 21-24 and have spent the last six weeks flirting with .500.
At some point, then, something in the Bronx must give. The Yankees must either shape up or we have to come to terms with the fact that the Yankees are simply some crappy .500 team that’s overpaid and underperforming our expectations.
The Yanks this afternoon face Brian Bannister. The righthander, once on the Mets and later traded for Ambiorix Burgos (oops), has put up some decent numbers this year. In April, he beat the Yanks, allowing just two runs in five innings while giving up five hits and four walks. Hopefully, the Yanks can do a bit better than that this time around. Andy Pettitte goes for the Yanks, and Hideki Matsui sits so that Jason Giambi can get some ABs at DH.
The game starts at 1:05 p.m. on this hot and humid day in the city.
Despite the news earlier this week that the Steinbrenners and Brian Cashman were set to talk contract this week in Tampa, the Yankees and Cashman are now saying that’s not true. According to Hal Steinbrenner, Cashman was in Tampa for draft business, and the GM’s contract status was not on the agenda. The team will wait to address that issue until after the season is over. · (11) ·
Remember the other Hideki to don pinstripes? Hideki Irabu, George Steinbrenner’s favorite whipping boy, had quite the Yankee debut on July 10, 1997, but it was all downhill from there. The pitcher touted as the Japanese Nolan Ryan never lived up to his hype (cough, cough Kei Igawa), and Irabu bounced around the Majors before ending his career back Japan. Earlier this week, Billy Witz checked in with Irabu, in a way. He’s still living in the states and running some SoCal restaurants. · (6) ·
Let me just say, flat out, that the Royals suck. They are 24-37, and prior to tonight, they had lost 11 straight road games. They’ve scored 62 fewer runs than they’ve allowed, and they seem destined for a fifth straight AL Central last-place finish.
Tonight’s starter for this terrible Kansas City team was Kyle Davies. He has a career 6.16 ERA, and opponents have hit .292 off of him. With the Yanks coming off a nine-run game against a better Blue Jays team, the stars were aligning to create a perfect night for a win.
Too bad someone forgot to tell that to the Yankee offense.
In the end, Kyle Davies throw one helluva game. He showed why he’s been so highly regarded — at least by Dayton Moore — both in Atlanta and Kansas City. The Yanks couldn’t muster much of anything, and the Royals couldn’t either. But their two runs — one on a single and one on a double play — held up. C’est la vie.
On the Yanks’ front, Darrell Rasner threw another stellar game. Throwing what must be a Yankee starter season-high 118 pitches, Rasner threw eight innings giving up nine hits and no walks. He struck out four, and the two earned runs allowed lowered his ERA to 2.58. Rasner emerged 3-3, the no-luck loser yet again.
I can’t complain about Jason Giambi‘s controversial third strike. He clearly didn’t swing, but the Yanks shouldn’t be in a position in the eighth inning against the Royals to begin with.
So on a night when the Red Sox lost and the dregs of the AL were in town, the Yanks dropped a well-pitched game to the Royals. Let’s just hope Andy Pettitte can do his thing later this afternoon. This team needs some wins to emerge from this flirtation with mediocrity and .500.
Jeremy Bleich, the Yanks’ sandwich pick on Thursday (you know, the one I wrote off way too early because I had never heard of him), is starting tonight for Stanford against Cal State Fullerton in Game 1 of their Super Regional matchup. You can catch the game on ESPN2 right now, or follow along on CSTV’s unbelievable Game Tracker. Feel free to talk about it on this thread.
I also want to mention that Brian Foley at The College Baseball Blog previewed the Super Regionals at his site, and also talked NCAA postseason on air with two insufferable LA shock jocks. Make sure you stop by and make fun of his accent. Tell him Mike sent you.
- Alberto Gonzalez had three hits and a double. Jason Lane & Ben Broussard also picked up two baggers. Broussard has been a beast since signing.
- Matt Carson picked up 3 hits, including a jack.
- Steven White and Heath Phillips got absolutely creamed, combining to give up 15 hits and 11 runs in 4.2 IP. Both have been lucky that SWB is short on arms right now. See the TJ Watch for JB Cox’s line.
- Trenton was getting no-hit into the 8th inning, but ended up winning 2-1 thanks to RBI’s from Ramiro Pena and Austin Jackson.
- Jason Jones had yet another strong start, giving up 1 run in 6.
- Eduard Nunez & Mitch Hilligoss each picked up 3 hits, Andres Perez picked up 4.
- Seth Fortenberry had a single in the first, a homer in the 4th, a triple in the 6th and double in the 7th, giving him a good ol’ fashioned cycle.
- Zach McAllister tossed 7 shutout innings, and now has a 63-9 K/BB ratio in 73.1 IP. Wow.
- Jon Hovis tossed one of his typical perfect inning after missing over a month due to an unknown injury.
- Brandon Laird had 2 doubles and 2 RBI. No one else did anything significant (Jesus Montero had the day off).
- Charleston’s pitching dominated all game, with 4 pitching combining to throw a 4-hit shutout (10 K).
Regular, full blown DotF returns tomorrow.
The Royals are in town. David Ortiz, Dice-K, Manny and Jacoby Ellsbury are banged up. Did I mention the Royals – a team that has been outscored by 63 runs thanks to a 4.58 team ERA and a MLB-low .311 team OBP – are in town?
Thaaaaaaa Yankees’ lineup!
1. Damon, LF
2. Jeter, SS
3. Abreu, RF
4. A-Rod, 3B
5. Matsui, DH
6. Walk-off, 1B
7. Cano, 2B
8. Molina, C
9. Cabrera, CF
On the mound, he of the rotation high 154 ERA+, Darrell Rasner.
Notes: LaTroy Hawkins’ suspension was upheld, so he’s out for 3 games (that’s a good thing) … Chris Britton strained his ribcage while warming up yesterday, and has been placed on the 15-day DL, Dan Giese has been summoned from Scranton to take his spot (I say it’s 50/50 that the Yanks were just looking for an injury so they could recall Giese) … Mariano Rivera has a 1185 ERA+ this year … if you’ve missed any of my draft coverage, go here.
With their 30th round pick, the Yanks selected Ben McMahan, C, Bishop Moore HS (Fl.)
Scouting Report: Known as a defense first catcher, McMahan also has a potent bat and runs very well for a catcher. His defense is Gold Glove caliber, and he could blossom into a .280-.350-.420 hitter. He’s a strong student and committed to Florida. Here’s his scouting video.
My Take: Great pick. Let’s hope they keep him away from the Gators.
Outlook: If they sign him, we won’t see him in any games until 2009 because it’ll likely go don to the wire. He could survive a full season assignment next year based on his defense alone.
We’ve all heard about Mark Melancon. We know he’s one of our Tommy John Rehab Watch guys, and we know that the buzz is growing surrounding Melancon. We heard he could be the next eighth inning guy for the Yanks and a possible replacement for Mariano Rivera when that time finally comes. But just who is Mark Melancon? Today, Tyler Kepner answers that question in a profile on the 23-year-old. Check it out. · (6) ·