The Good: At AAA, Ian Kennedy reminded us that, yes, he still exists. Against the Pawtucket Sox, Kennedy went 6 strong. He allowed no runs on 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 9. His GB-FB ratio was a very impressive 8-0, and he threw 60 of 93 pitches for strike. If Clemens is suspended, he’s already the next best choice, and Chad Jennings wrote glowingly about this impressive performance.
The Bad: In Toronto, things were less than stellar. Chien-Ming Wang, 10-1 over his last 13 starts, was due, and he delivered. He allowed 8 runs on 9 hits while walking 2 and striking out 3 in 2.2 IP. Wang’s sinker and artificial turf just do not mix. Meanwhile, the Yankees 2-3-4 hitters went 1 for 11 with a walk. Unless your name is Robinson Cano, it was not a good night to be a Yankee.
The Ugly: Jeff Karstens has appeared in two games since returning from the DL, one worst than the next. Last week, he threw 3.1 innings in relief of an ineffective Roger Clemens. The 3 runs (on 5 hits) allowed the White Sox to win a wacky game. Today, he was worse. He allowed 5 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks in 3 innings. His ERA since returning from his injury is 11.37. Edwar Ramirez and Chris Britton continue to, you know, actually pitch well.
But, hey, at least the Yanks’ $5.6 million mop-up threw a 1-2-3 8th. On a night when only 53.8 percent of all pitches thrown by the Yanks went for strikes, Farnsworth was the best. Funny how that works out sometimes.
Some Minor League news, courtesy of Chad Jennings, raised an eyebrow this afternoon. Justin Christian is out for the rest of the season with a thumb injury. Christian hurt his thumb on Monday sliding into third base, and he will undergo season-ending ligament surgery to repair the damage.
Christian, 27, is a little too old to be considered a prospect, but he was in the middle of a solid season before this injury. He had been hitting .325/.370/.438 with 10 steals in 169 AAA at-bats. Speculation was that Christian would arrive in the Bronx in September when the rosters expand.
Replacing him on the Scranton roster is Bronson Sardinha, up for his recent demotion at AA. Jennings gives us some insight into Sardinha:
Sardinha didn’t earlier this year in Triple-A, but he was sent down to Double-A at the all-star break and hit .429 with four home runs in 15 games for Trenton. Sardinha called the demotion “a good wakeup call.”
When Sardinha hits, he hits the ball hard. He just needs to hit more consistently. He’s starting in right field tonight and batting third.
Meanwhile, Ian Kennedy’s pitching now. We’ll check in on him later.
We’re hearing that Alex Rodriguez will take the night off and Wilson Betemit will start at third as the Yanks wrap up a series against the Blue Jays tonight. I like this move. The Yanks have already won the series; they have their ace going in Wang; and there’s no reason to further Toronto’s petty ridiculousness by having A-Rod act as a moving target for another season of missed expectations by an overpaid Blue Jays squad. His bat can come off the bench, and A-Rod can rest. Update: This is indeed the way the lineup shakes down for tonight. Also, of note, Jason Giambi is DHing and Johnny Damon is enjoying the game from the bench. · (2) ·
Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled day off. They play two with Pawtuckett today to make up a twice-postponed game.
Double-A Trenton (11-2 loss to Binghamton in 7 innings — called for rain, maybe?)
Reggie Corona: 2 for 3
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 3
Cody Ehlers: 2 for 3
PJ Pilittere: 1 for 3, 1 2B — had both of Trenton’s RBI
Jeff Marquez: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K — kid hasn’t been the same lately
That’s the word from Joel Sherman. The Yanks are now free to dish him to any team. The likely return in this kind of scenario is a younger, non-40-man roster player, since they can be traded without clearing waivers themselves. The Yanks will almost certainly be on the hook for $4 to $6 million if they choose to dish him. Hat tip to Steve · (6) ·
I had nearly forgotten about this, but on July 2, the Yankees’ season hung in the balance. The Yanks hadn’t yet pushed to within 5 of the Red Sox and 0.5 of the Wild Card, but there went A-Rod, limping off the field with a hammy problem. The Yanks’ season could have ended in July, but Rodriguez returned quickly. We breathed a sigh of relief.
However, things haven’t quite been the same. Look:
Statistically, the post-hammy injury is a small sample. It’s been just a shade over 100 at-bats, and A-Rod’s hitting around .250 during that time. It could happen to anyone at any point in the season over that stretch really. Additionally, during the last month, A-Rod’s had 500 on the mind. We know how he deals with the psychology of sports and competition. This slump could have been spurred on as much by that drive as by anything else.
But in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think that Alex Rodriguez, a tough competitor, just didn’t give his hamstring the rest it needed. Maybe I’m wrong; his stolen base numbers are right on par and his mobility in the field seems fine. Meanwhile the Yankees are winning and scoring runs without as much production from A-Rod as they were enjoying when he was all but carrying the team.
But I can’t stop thinking about that hamstring now that the memory’s been triggered. What if it’s still bothering him?
Josh Towers is a freakin’ moron. From the Journal News:
“I heard somebody chirping and I didn’t think it was Alex,” Towers said. “I asked who it was and Tony Pena is running his mouth. … He’s a quitter. He was managing (the Royals in 2005) and he quit in the middle of a season because he couldn’t hack it.”Says he with the 5.36 ERA this year — and an 8.42 ERA last year. This is also the guy who tells the media that “I don’t think that we consistently show up as a coaching staff and as a team every day.” Real good guy, that Josh Towers. · (4) ·
For six or nine times a year, depending on the schedule, I root for the Angels. This week, they aren’t disappointing. Joe Saunders staved off the Red Sox, and the Angels downed Boston for the second night in a row.
Doing some very simple baseball math leads me to conclude that, yes, the Yanks, once 14 games out, are now sitting now just five games behind the Red Sox in the AL East. That’s pretty freakin’ exciting. The Yanks, as I noted earlier, have six games left against the Red Sox, and basically, they control their own October fate at this point. Win and they’re in. It’s that simple.
Meanwhile, up in Canada, exciting happenings. Let’s start with the end. Joba Chamberlain made his big league debut, and it was pretty. While his control wasn’t as perfect as it had been in the Minors, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk that up to nerves. Sporting a high-90s fastball and an utterly devastating and majestically beautiful 90-mph slider, Joba pitched 2 innings in his debut. He gave up 1 hit and 2 walks and struck out 2. The game ended on a double-play ball. Joba even had the guts to shake off Jorge Posada three times on one pitch. He’s 21, folks.
This game also shows that the Blue Jays really have their priorities screwed up. Over two months ago, A-Rod humorously called for a pop-up in Toronto as he was running the bases. Debate the sportsmanship all you want, but realize that this happened in May. It’s August. Yet still the Blue Jays insist on throwing at A-Rod twice.
So in the 7th, Roger Clemens may or may not have retaliated, and he got tossed. He may land a suspension for this move too. Considering that Posada set up for this pitch outside, that it was 7-0 Yankees, and that Clemens was working on his best outing in a month, it’s hard to believe he was aiming intentionally for Alex Rios. But who knows? Hopefully, these two teams can leave this silliness behind them. Chien-Ming Wang isn’t exactly the head-hunting type anyway.
While I’m still unimpressed with Jim Brower — couldn’t Brian Bruney do that? — I am officially apologizing for advocating that dumb trade of Eric Gagne for Melky Cabrera. I’ve changed my mind. I love Melky. And I love Robinson Cano even more. That’s all.