Forget what you know about yesterday’s outcome. If I told you that Matt DeSalvo didn’t pitch well yesterday and was lifted with one out in the fourth inning, how many runs do you think the White Sox would have scored? If I told you that he was replaced by Luis Vizcaino — with men on base — how many more runs do you think the White Sox would have scored? And after Viz pitched an inning and two-thirds, he was replaced by Ron Villone. So we have to be up to seven, eight, nine runs by now, right?
But there were only four. When you think of it that way, it doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, with the Yankees lineup, that should translate into a win. Unfortunately, the cold bats continued, and the Yanks managed just one run (a Mientkiewicz double that was oh so close to going over the fence). That’s what happens when you strand six of the 10 men you put on base, and erase another three via the double play.
Joe Torre displayed a bit of desperation after the game. â€œI know weâ€™re going to get better at it. I know weâ€™re going to put a streak together. Every time you win, you say, â€˜This is when weâ€™re starting it.â€™ But it hasnâ€™t happened yet. You keep working hard.â€
Can you blame him, though? Wouldn’t you be desperate if you were in a position similar to the Yanks’? The expectations bar is set ridiculously high, so when your heralded offense is limping, the whole team looks bad. If the Yanks drop five out of the next six, you can just imagine what Joe’s media dealings will be like.
“It’s either a hamstring thing, or an elbow thing, or a psychological thing. Or a heart attack!”
“Who used that one, skip?”
Hey, if the Yanks offense is giving fans agita, imagine what it’s doing to the man at the helm. It may appear that he’s asleep at the wheel most of the time, but if the man really didn’t care about his job, he wouldn’t have fought for it last fall. His players wouldn’t have defended him this spring. He may make some questionable in-game decisions (which includes writing Bobby Abreu’s atop the lineup card), but he’s not the reason the bats are cold. He wasn’t the reason for April’s hamstring injuries, and he didn’t pitch ineffectively and not make it through five innings.
So what, exactly, does this team need? Maybe Alex Rodriguez (whose swing hasn’t been nearly as sweet in May) has an answer. â€œItâ€™s very important to play well, and itâ€™s good â€” itâ€™s maybe what we need. You have no choice against the Mets and Boston but to bring your game up.â€
So, while many of us aren’t particularly looking forward to the next two series, Alex thinks it may be what the team needs to turn the season around. I’m not sure if I buy that. You’re not going to be playing teams the caliber of the Mets and the Red Sox all year, and if that’s what it takes to get you motivated, you’re not going to end up in the playoffs. Wins against the best are obviously necessary, but so are wins against teams like the pathetic-hitting White Sox.
Then again, I think back to what we’ve been saying for years now: the Yanks beat up on the good pitchers, but falter against rookies and shitty arms. The Yankees worst offensive games this year have come against Jon Garland (okay, he’s pretty good — but not great), Jon Danks (rook), Horacio Ramirez (fuckin’ terrible), Jarrod Washburn (after smoking him), Brandon McCarthy (who had an ERA over 7.00 heading into the contest), Miguel Batista (sucks), Tim Wakefield (even though we won), A.J. Burnett (who was getting killed coming into that game), and Ramon Ortiz (on the verge of being released).
This weekend, we have Oliver Perez (who is looking much more like 2004 than 2005 and 06), Tom Glavine, and John Maine (wow). So at least we’re not facing a bunch of rookies and shitheads (though I’m not sure if we’ve seen Maine yet). Maybe that’s a good thing? Who knows. At least it will start of on a good foot, pitching-wise for us. Andy Pettitte tonight. Tomorrow is a “gimme” game, with Rasner on the hill (if we win, it’s a huge bonus), and Sunday is a roll of the freakin’ dice with Tyler Clippard (he might fool the Mets hitters, or he might give up four consecutive bombs). Is asking for five runs too much?
Last 7 Days
Since we fetishize good young pitchers around here, I thought I would share with you Tim Lincecum’s pitching line tonight against the Astros. He went 7 IP, gave up 2 hits, 1 run (unearned) and 1 walk while recording 10 strike outs. He threw 60 of his 95 pitches for strikes. That’s pretty damn good. I think he’ll stick around San Francisco. · (1) ·
Oh man, have you played MLB 07: The Show for PS3 yet? That game’s crazy sick. If you go and download the roster updates, you get to use Phil Hughes (they have his realÂ windup), Mighty Matt DeSalvo, Chase Wright, Timmy Lincecum…all those guys who got called up earlier in the year. It’s frickin’ awesome. No Rocket though, he can’t be included in the game updates until he appears in an MLB game. I’llÂ post a more in-depth review tomorrow…
Triple-A Scranton (2-0 loss to Norfolk)
Kevin Reese: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Andy Phillips: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 K – .329-.409-.529-.937
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 4, 2 K
rest of lineup: 0 for 19, 7 K, 2 EÂ - Eric Duncan wasn’t in the lineup…
Tyler Clippard: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – is he starting Sunday? Man I hope not…
Sean Henn: 2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Chris Britton: 2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Ben Kozlowski: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 5-1 GB/FB – this poor guy is gonna need an arm transplant by August…
”If you thought Barry Bonds was interesting, wait until you see this kid. Took four pitches (intentional walk) with bat tucked under arms and arms folded across chest. Sat down on second (base) twice. A bit of a canine, but I’D TAKE HIM IN A SECOND.”You think you know who that is? Take the quiz and see how good yourÂ scouting eye really is.Â I went 10 for 35, Joe went 9 for 35… · (8) ·
Pause… Pause… NOT. So the Mets score 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th for their second walk-off victory this week while the Yanks go down meekly in Chicago. Anyone else think the Yanks will be lucky to take one of three from the Mets during Subway Series Part CCXVII? · (8) ·
Time after time, some little thing disrupts Mike Mussina’s rhythm, and he feels the need to make excuses for himself. After watching this go on and on since 2001, I’m beyond sick of it.
Yesterday afternoon, during the postgame interviews, Mussina claimed that he had nothing coming out of the bullpen and that he really struggled to make it through his half-assed start against a White Sox club that came into the game batting .220 with a sub-.300 OBP AS A TEAM.
But really, Mussina didn’t like the rain-out and the extra day of rest. It bothered him. For a smart guy – Stanford, crossword puzzles – Mussina sure can’t conquer the mental aspects of the game. He falls apart when someone makes an error; he can’t deal with a disruption to his routine.
Mark Feinsand said it best in his blog recapping 14 hours spent at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago:
Mike Mussina needs to just go out and pitch. I know heâ€™s a huge creature of habit, so being pushed back two extra days is a big problem for him, but after playing as long as he has played, he needs to find a way to get past it and give his team 100 pitches.
I know Feinsand isn’t the only sports reporter who questions Mussina’s fortitude. You have to believe that an accomplished pitcher in his 17th season in the Majors could just suck it up now and then. But more and more, it seems like Moose cannot, and it’s a let down.
Tyler Clippard left today’s game against Norfolk with an injury after the 1st inning. No idea how serious it is, but when I find out, I’ll let ya know…
Update: ThereÂ are some rumblings that Clippard was pulled early because he’s going to start Sunday for the Yankees. The NEW YORK Yankees, not the Scranton variety. Good grief…
Just wanted to make a quick little announcementÂ and say that Joe and I (and maybe Ben if he’s interested) will be acting as co-scouting directors for the Yankees inÂ this year’sÂ Mock Draft over at John Sickel’s Minor League Ball.
If you don’t know what the Mock Draft is, go hereÂ to find out. We’ll periodically update youÂ on our progress, and I’m sure we’ll do something cool for draft day.
We’re looking for some help with scouting guys/doing research, so if you’re interested in lending a hand, here’s the diary thread. Remember, this is NOT about who we think the Yanks should pick, it’s about who we’d pick if we were in charge. But most of all, this is about having fun, so come join in and help pick the next wave of great Yankee prospects!
Aren’t we all thankful for Chien-Ming Wang? On a night defined by frustration (which was only exacerbated by the rain delay), he provided some relief. Just imagine how you would have felt last night (or this morning, depending on when you had to pry yourself away from the TV) if the Yanks had dropped the second half of that doubleheader. It would have been devastating. It would have been inexcusable. So you can thank Mr. Wang for the emotional swing.
Here’s the question, though: is it better to savor the victory, or point out the Yankees flaws? On one hand, you have a much-needed boost, both emotionally and statistically, and it feels wrong to undermine that. However, it also feels somewhat irresponsible to not point out what went wrong, and why it’s a signal that things might not have changed all that much. After all, we don’t live in the land of sunshine and lollipops; if the Yankees demonstrated a flaw last night, chances are it’s going to be exposed over the next few days.
Isn’t it fitting, then, that Bobby Abreu led off this game with a strikeout? Talk about poetry: in a game where much went right, yet plenty went wrong, Bobby Abreu embodies both poles. His leadoff strikeout was repeated two more times, leaving little faith left for (what could have been) his final at bat. Of course, the run wasn’t necessary — but with the unpredictability of the bullpen, every run counts. After taking a ball, Abreu looked absolutely silly on a Contreras splitter, whiffing on the pitch well before it got to the plate. The next pitch was a similar speed, and why not? Abreu had been out in front all night. The main difference: the pitch was right down Broadway (as opposed to the first two pitches being right around the corners). It’s a pitch that many hitters would crush, but with Abreu still mired in a slump, he did what he could with it. Base hit and an RBI, and the Yanks got some breathing room.
Another guy who’s been a bit iffy is Matsui. He doesn’t seem to be eyeing the outside part of the plate well, which results in him getting way on top of pitches and grounding out. This is something I’m sure he’ll work out; you don’t suddenly lose the ability to take pitches the opposite way. However, if you leave that pitch over the plate, he’s still going to crush it, as he did on a 3-0 pitch in the third inning. That was a fat pitch. What’s crazy is that the pitch on which he struck out in the sixth inning was in the exact same spot. I can’t speak for the velocity (Enhanced Gameday doesn’t have the pitch data for either at bat, just the locations), but the location was right there. In fact, all three strikes were right over the plate. I’m very surprised that Matsui, following his crush shot in the previous at bat, didn’t whale the first pitch Contreras threw him. If there was ever a time to hack at the first one…
The best inning, however, was clearly the ninth. Melky’s homer was super-sweet. Not just because it’s a rarity, but because he freakin’ whaled a 93 m.p.h. heater on the inside corner. So it’s not like he took advantage of a bad pitch; Sisco put it where he wanted, and Melky said, “I think I can state my case for playing tomorrow by depositing your best effort over the left field wall.” And so he did. The home run to Jorge was in the same exact location. I guess it was a changeup, since it came in at 86 m.ph., and was directly preceded by a 97 m.ph. heater. At this point, you almost have to feel bad for Sisco: he hit the corner with two pitches (though coming inside to a righty with a change is a questionable call), and was taken deep. He threw another good one to GIambi, on the outside corner, but Giambi reacted and punched that baby to left. The Giambi of 2002-2006 tries to pull that and whiffs. It’s good to see that he’s adjusting to his sapped power.
There were other little flaws that cropped up during the game, like Kyle Farnsworth’s imitation of John Wetteland: he can’t get out of an inning without putting a guy on base and making us all clench our teeth. But all in all, especially considering the 9th, it’s a good sign moving forward.
Last 7 Days
Triple-A Scranton (6-5 win over Norfolk)
Kevin Reese: 2 for 5, 1 R, 3 K
Chris Basak: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI
Andy Phillips: 2 for 5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 K
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K – it took 34 games and a 1.093 OPS, but he’s finally hitting cleanup…
Eric Duncan: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B – first XBH in 9 games…
Kevin Thompson: 3 for 5, 1 2B, 3 RBI
Alberto Gonzalez: 1 for 3, 2 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Eric Junge: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K – signed to fill out the rotation, but he was a big-time prospect like, 8 years ago…
Tim Lavigne: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – another guy signed to bolster the staff
Edwar Ramirez: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K – moved up a level, but still schoolin’ guys…