Since Saint Phil graduated to the majors, we felt it was time to freshen things up around here at RAB. If you take a gander over to the left, you’ll notice that the famedÂ ”Hughes Watch” is gone, and in it’s place is the “Joba Watch.” Follow along as I chronicle the adventures of everyone’s favorite Native American with a Star Wars themed name as he crusades up the minor league ladder and into your living room. Well, not literally in your living room of course, but on your TV.
It’s hard to call 12 games in the middle of May do-or-die time for a season, but that’s what the Yankees are facing over the next two weeks. Sitting eight games out of first and with Baseball Prospectus’ Playoff Odds report show the Yankees making the playoffs just 22 percent of the time and winning the division just 4 percent of the time, it’s time to start winning.
The Yankees started May with something of a softball schedule. They had 13 contests against the Mariners and Rangers, two middling teams who have inhabited the bottom of the AL West for the better part of the last few seasons. The Yanks went a respectable 8-5 but lost a few games they should have won. A 10-3 record was not out of the question, and now the Yanks find themselves 8 games behind the Red Sox.
The Yanks, as Steve Lombardi notes, have not been 8 games out of first this early in the season since 1984. I was one year old at the time. Ah, yes, I remember it well.
So now, the schedule shifts. Instead of the bottom-dwellers, the Yankees play three teams in playoff spots and the White Sox, no slouch of ballclub. Before a three-game set at the end of May against the Walking Wounded, the Yanks are set to face the White Sox, the Mets, the Red Sox and the dreaded Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, a team the Yankees never seem to beat. Those teams are currently a combined 30 games over .500.
So this is the first real test, and if the Yanks can’t go at least 7-5 during this stretch of baseball, including two out of three from Boston. Things will look decidedly Not Good by the end of May.
For everyone awaiting Roger Clemens’ arrival atop his white horse coming to save the Yankees, be prepared for disappointment. Roger Clemens isn’t the answer to this team’s woes. He can’t bat second; he can’t play right field. He can’t compel A-Rod and Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu and Robinson Cano to snap out of slumps that have lasted for weeks.
I like to maintain a healthy level of optimism and faith in the Yankees with just over three-quarters of the season left, but these next 12 games are important. We can’t just overlook that.
Today is going to be a bad traffic day for the blog. I know this, because it happens on days when I’m frustrated the most — meaning the Yankees have lost a game (or, more accurately, multiple games) that they should have won. The worst part was that the season-series-deciding game was lost to a soft-tossing lefty whom the Yanks should have destroyed. Such is the frustration with the team this year: we get beat up by no names, and lay into guys like Josh Beckett, supposedly the best pitcher in the league right now.
The worst part about yesterday: it marked the third time that the Yankees lost while allowing their opponent three runs or less. As stated Saturday, all three have been to the Mariners. So there’s room for hope there, I suppose, since the Ms don’t appear on the schedule for the remainder of the season.
The almost-worst part about yesterday: Boston scored six runs in the ninth in a comeback victory against the Orioles. Yeah, we really shouldn’t be watching what Boston’s doing at this point, because there are still 13 head-to-head bouts with them, meaning any amount of ground can really be made up. However, if the Yanks could only take eight of 13 from the Rangers and Mariners, how are they going to take 10 of 13 from the Sox (which they’ll basically need to do at this point)?
Maybe the off-day will help. After all, the pitching has come around this month, so as soon as they can get the bats and the arms going at the same time, they should rattle off a few winning streaks…right? Other than the two blowouts, the Yanks have only allowed 21 runs over 11 games (but then 29 in the other two). The arms will get another break with the light-hitting White Sox (team averages of .220/.299/.360) — though four of their five starters have ERAs under 4.00. The real challenges come next in the Mets (.284/.354/.449) and the Red Sox (.278/.367/.443).
Last 7 days
Here‘s what Joba had to say about his hitless outing yesterday.Â
TJ Beam hasn’t pitching a game since May 3rd. Make of it what you will, but it’s funny how no one’s missed him…
Triple-A Scranton (5-2 loss to Columbus)
Kevin Thompson: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
Chris Basak: 2 for 5, 1 2B, 1 SB
Andy Phillips: 0 for 3, 2 BB
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 2, 2 BB, 1 E (throwing)
Shelley Duncan: 1 for 2, 1 2B, 2 BB – 18 XBH in 31 games…
Eric Duncan: 0 for too many to count (4 really)
Alberto Gonzalez: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB – OPS is entering dangerous territory (I’m talking sub-.600)
Steven Jackson: 5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 3 K, 8-4 GB/FB – only 57 of 107 pitches were strikes (53.3%)
Ben Kozlowski: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
Charlie Manning: 2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Josh Beckett having trouble with the skin on his finger? You don’t say. · (1) ·
I checked on the scores earlier this afternoon, and when I looked at the continuation of yesterday’s Tampa Yanks suspended game, the box score said Christian Garcia was pitching for Tampa. Garcia, as you may recall, is out for the year with elbow surgery. I hit refresh, and the box score was corrected to show that Wilkins Arias was pitching. Talk about getting your hopes up…
Triple-A Scranton (6-3 win over Columbus)
Andy Phillips: 2 for 4, 2 R
Eric Duncan: 0 for 4 – 0 for last 11…at least (I’m too lazy the check the game log of the last game in which he actually got a hit, so that could be as much as 0 for 13)
Shelley Duncan: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI – .330-.398-.689-1.088, stick Matsui in RF, bench Bobby, and let Shelley play LF
Bronson Sardinha: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Omir Santos: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Tyler Clippard: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K – 56 baserunners allowed in 38.2 IP, and lefties are giving him some trouble
Chris Britton: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K – bumped from the closer’s role…
Everyday Ronnie: .2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – 5 of 7 pitches were strikes, only 3 days until he can opt out…
Jim Brower: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5-0 GB/FB
Shades of Friday Randomness…
- A story on Mighty Matt’s journey from receiving zero scholarship offersÂ from Division III schools to pitching for the New York frickin’ Yankees.
- Joe Torre yanks Rasner after 78 pitchesÂ while Bruce Bochy leaves Tim Lincecum in to throw 112. Torre drives me nuts sometimes.
I’m far too pissed off to write a recap (even after a peaceful night of sleep). Being shut out by Jarrod Washburn and the Mariners is inex-freakin-cusible. However, check this.
We’ve had 15 games where our opponent has scored three or less runs (which is the root of the problem, right there), in which we are 13-2. Both losses are to the Mariners.
No Yankees opponent has finished a game with four runs. When our opponents score five or less runs, that 13-2 record becomes 14-5. Still not too shabby…except we’ve played 34 games. For those of you without a calculator (or a math teacher roommate), that’s 15 games where the Yanks have allowed more than five runs (as in, six runs or more).
We all knew this has been the problem, despite all of our complaints about the offense. We’ve scored five or more runs 19 times, for a record of 13-6. No team should have such a shabby record in games where they score FIVE FREAKIN’ RUNS. To further that, we’re 2-7 in games in which we score four runs. Add that up, and you have 28 out of 34 games where the Yanks scored four or more runs, in which their record is 15-13.
Still think Clemens won’t help?
In your spare time, definitely check out this article by Tim Marchman.
That was one uninspiring effort by the Yanks tonight and another unnecessarily quick Darrell Rasner hook by Joe Torre. Furthermore, Joe decided to bench the Yankees’ hottest hitter â€” Doug Mientkiewicz â€” in favor of Josh Phelps. Torre wouldn’t play Phelps when Mientkiewicz was struggling, but now that Doug is smokin’ the ball, Torre decides he needs a night off? That’s brilliant.
This team is floundering right now. They’ve dipped back to two games under .500, and Roger Clemens isn’t going to be the answer. As we’ve mentioned over the last few days, we’re less than enamored with Bobby Abreu. While the Yanks sadly won’t be trading or replacing Abreu any time soon, something’s gotta give. The two hole just isn’t the answer for Abreu.
Tonight marked the third game in which Abreu hit second. He is now a whopping 1 for 12 in the two hole and has reached base once batting in front of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. Meanwhile, Jeter, in the same stretch of games, is 5 for 9 but never gets to bat with anyone on base in front of him.
Bobby Abreu in the two hole is solving nothing, and Oblivious Joe will just keep filling out that lineup card day after day in such a way that makes it impossible for the Yanks to score runs. Nothing new. Nothing to see here. Just another loss.