Most fans felt the story of the Red Sox shirt embedded in the concrete slab of the visitor’s clubhouse at the New Stadium was just a laughable “exclusive” by the Post that was a few days late for April’s Fools. Turns out the Yankees weren’t taking any chances:

It took about five hours, but the Red Sox jersey that was embedded in the concrete of the Yankees’ new stadium to place a curse on the New York franchise has been unearthed with jackhammers, according to a published report.

“They absolutely pinpointed that if it was in the ground, that’s where it was,” Yankees spokeswoman Alice McGillion told the newspaper.

As always, Hank Hal Steinbrenner provided the money quote: “I hope his co-workers kick the [expletive] out of him.” Hank’s great when he isn’t talking about making trades and stuff, isn’t he? Hal just earned all sorts of street cred in my book. Sox fans did what they do best, the turned the story into another patently lame T-shirt. Where’s the “David Ortiz is hitting 0.70-.231-.140 and Francona still has him batting third” swag?

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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Is the honeymoon over? Are we allowed to criticize Joe Girardi yet? Today, I’d like to criticize Girardi.

When Mike Mussina and Josh Beckett face off, it’s tough

But alas, the Red Sox were able to, as we know, mount a threat. While Mussina was able to strike out a struggling David Ortiz with one out and runners on 2nd and 3rd, the Yankees tempted fate. With two outs, Yankee killer Manny Ramirez stepped to the plate yesterday afternoon, and Joe Girardi emerged from the dugout.

During his prior at bat, Manny Ramirez took Mike Mussina deep. In fact, "deep" might be a little bit of an understatement considering how far the ball travelled. At that point, the move — while only in the sixth — would be to bring in Joba Chamberlain. Power vs. power, heat vs. heat. But after a lengthy conference at the mound, Girardi stuck with Mussina, Moose gave up a hit and the Yanks lost a game they could have won without ever using their best bullpen arms.

The problem I have with Girardi’s decision — besides the utter stupidity of allowing Ramirez to face Mussina late in a close game with first base open — is the way he went about making it. It was in fact a classic Joe Torre Era mistake. Peter Abraham relates information about the exchange on the mound:

Joe Girardi went with what Mike Mussina wanted to do. The Moose was more comfortable going after Manny than facing the ever-selective Kevin Youkilis with the bases loaded.

“I’ve been pitching a while, so he asked me what I felt like doing,” Mussina said. “I told him what I thought.”

Girardi after the game took the blame, but he has to know Mussina’s limitations. He has to know Manny Ramirez’s ridiculous history against the Yankees. He has to take the ball from Mussina in that situation.

In the end, Mussina wasn’t terrible. He gave up 4 runs in a 5.2 innings largely because Brian Bruney didn’t get the job done either. But again, Mussina went to his fastball too often. That 87 mph meatball he threw to Manny Ramirez was simply indicative of a less-than-stellar Mussina outing.

After the game, Girardi and Moose both said the right thing. Too bad they didn’t do the right thing during the game.

Categories : Game Stories
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Triple-A Scranton (16-6 beatdown of Durham) how’s 11 XBH as a team sound?
Brett Gardner: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB – he’s slugging .833 … no joke
Justin Christian: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 4 RBI, 1 BB – 10 RBI in 9 games
Juan Miranda: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 HBP
Shelley: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB – 4 doubles, 3 homers and 21 total bases in 3 games since being sent down
Jason Lane: 1 for 5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Cody Ransom: 3 for 6, 3 R, 1 2B
Nick Green: 4 for 6, 4 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI – Nick Green, Nick frickin’ Green is 9 for his last 17 with 2 doubles, 2 homers and 5 RBI
Chris Stewart: 4 for 6, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI
Jeff Marquez: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 E (throwing), 11-2 GB/FB – sinker’s workin’
Scott Patterson: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 0-2 GB/FB
Ben Kozlowski Heath Phillips: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K – the “he’s going to be used as a lefty specialist only” plan went out the window two weeks into the season
Scott Strickland: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-3 GB/FB

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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For some reason, this game sticks out in my mind from last year. We were kind of rolling, leading 5-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth. And then Moose blew it, giving up back-to-back shots to Lowell and Varitek. I also probably remember it because we bombed Schilling that day — or, rather, Jorge bombed Schilling. Of course, Proctor went and blew it some more, and we went on to lose a winnable game.

That was Mussina’s last start at Fenway. We’ll need a much better job out of him today. Hopefully he can keep the Sox hitters as off-balance as he did the Rays hitters last time out. With Wang giving the bullpen a full night off, Moose just has to give us six solid…considering the offense can muster a few runs off Beckett.

Here’s the lineup. Looks pretty standard considering the injuries.

1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Melky Cabrera, CF
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Jorge Posada, DH
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Jose Molina, C
9. Alberto Gonzalez,SS

And on the mound, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.

Categories : Game Threads
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  • Now playing second base, the Pope

    The New York Times takes a look today at how Yankee Stadium will be arranged for the Pope’s visit and Mass next week. Considering how few non-baseball events take place at the Stadium these days, it makes for a great read. The Pope will be standing on a platform above Robinson Cano’s customary spot, and this graphic on how the clergy will give Communion to 57,000 fans people in 14 minutes is a good one. Watch out for the steep upper deck, they say. · (1) ·

  • Talking with Tyler

    In their continuing series of interviews with Yankee bloggers, the folks at sat down with Tyler Kepner, one of our favorite beat writers. Kepner talks about his long-time fandom, the limitations of blogging under The Times’ editorial structure and that ever-controversial 8th inning bullpen spot. · (5) ·

When I got home tonight, one of my closest friends, who happens to be a Worcester native and Red Sox fan, offered me the typical Red Sox fan excuse to tonight’s game. “I don’t think he pitched well tonight as crazy as that sounds,” he said about Yankees ace Chien-Ming Wang. “10 GBs. 14 Flies. I saw a LOT of line drives that were caught, yes, but a lot of ‘em.”

It’s true; for someone looking at Chien-Ming Wang in a vacuum, tonight’s outing was not particularly “good” in the traditional 20-ground-ball outs sense of the meaning. That Wang recorded more outs in the air than on the ground is a notable rarity. In fact, outside of last year’s disastrous ALDS, tonight’s game marked the first time since August 18, 2006 that the Wangster recorded more air outs than ground outs.

Interestingly enough, that outing came against the Red Sox during the five-game 2006 Boston Massacre, and it’s not coincidence that Wang pitches differently against the Red Sox. It is, in fact, part of his evolution into the Yankee ace.

Heading into tonight’s game, Wang was just as aware as we were of the Red Sox’s past success against him. He knew that his greatest struggles as a starter in the Big Leagues came against Boston and mostly in Fenway. There’s just something about that park that doesn’t lend itself to his sinkerball. Perhaps it’s the mound; perhaps it’s the Boston hitters’ approach to Wang’s pitching style.

Tonight, though, Wang kept the Sox guessing. He pounded the strike zone, throwing nearly 66 percent of his stingy 93 pitches for strikes. He got the double play when he needed it and the outs all night long. He offered up a better mix of pitches than we’ve seen him throw, and he showed why he is indeed that Yankee ace we all thought the team needed.

Meanwhile, the 6-5 Yanks owe a huge debt of gratitude to Jose Molina, and all that deal took was Jeff Kennard. Who ever knew Kennard would be so useful to the Yanks?

Categories : Game Stories
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Praise Jesus!

By in Down on the Farm. · Comments (19) ·

Great, great game by Cy Wang tonight. He’s off to a helluva start.

JB Cox is scheduled to make his season debut tomorrow for High-A Tampa, FYI.

Triple-A Scranton (7-3 win over Durham) old pal Andy Cannizaro batted third for the Bulls
Brett Gardner: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K – 3 of his 7 hits have gone for extra bases
Justin Christian: 3 for 5, 3 2B, 2 RBI, 1 E (throwing)
Juan Miranda: 1 for 3, 1 BB
Shelley: 1 for 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – two games in AAA, two bombs
Cody Ransom: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB
Nick Green: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI – 4 doubles and a homer in 7 games
Darrell Rasner: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 9-3 GB/FB – 55 of 84 pitches were strikes (65.6%)
Edwar: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K – 3 baserunners, 11 K in 6 IP
Jose Veras: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Lock your laptops, folks. Clay Buchholz, he of the stolen laptops (and, yes, a Major League no-hitter), is making his first start against the Yankees tonight. Buchholz had a bad Spring Training and lost his first start of the season.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are countering with their ace. Chien-Ming Wang has looked exceptional this year so far. In two starts covering 13 innings, Wang is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA. He’s given up 10 hits while walking four and, encouragingly, striking out eight. He’s keeping the ball low and keeping runners off base.

Tonight, though, will be a challenge for Wang. He’s facing a Red Sox team that has, by and large, hit him well over the last few seasons. David Ortiz, currently mired in a 3 for 36 drought to start the season, is 15 for 30 against Wang; Manny Ramirez is 13 for 22; and Kevin Youkilis is 7 for 21. As a team, the Sox hit Wang at a .300/.394/.442 clip and six of the 30 career HRs allowed by the sinkerball specialist have come off the bats of the Red Sox.

The Yankees go with something of a different lineup tonight. Johnny Damon is getting the night off, and the hot-hitting Melky Cabrera will lead off. The game, weather permitting, starts at 7:05 p.m., and we get to experience the drama of a Yankees-Red Sox three-game set all over again.

Melky Cabrera CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Bob Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada DH
Jason Giambi 1B
Jose Molina C
The Former Attorney General SS

Chien-Ming Wang P

Red Sox
Coco Crisp CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Manny Ramirez LF
Kevin Youkilis 3B
J.D. Drew RF – Currently, the AL’s leading hitter (11 for 25, .440 BA)
Jason Varitek C
Sean Casey 1B
Julio Lugo SS

Clay Buchholz P

Categories : Game Threads
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