Mike Mussina, one of the Yankees’ three weathered pitching arms in the twilights of their careers, take the mound tonight. It is his first start since the end of August, and I’m guardedly optimistic that he may be able to keep the Yanks in the game for five innings today.
And really, when push comes to shove, isn’t that all they need? The Yanks didn’t have to use their bullpen bullets last night. Joba’s available; Farnsworth’s available; Rivera’s available. If Mussina can get the Yankees through five innings, I like their chances.
The Yanks are going with their A Team. Every game counts, and if the Yanks can keep the winning streak going through tomorrow, they’ll head into Boston at the most 4.5 games out. Dreams of the division are dancing in my head.
J. Damon DH
D. Jeter SS
B. Abreu RF
A. Rodriguez 3B
H. Matsui LF – He’s in a bit of a slump right now.
J. Posada C
J. Giambi 1B
R. Cano 2B
M. Cabrera CF
M. Mussina P
Last week, at the Yankees-Mariners game on Wednesday, a marriage proposal flashed across the screen. It was a fake one, part for a prank perpetrated by two guys from CollegeHumor.com. The video, embedded below, tells the story (but there is some adult language if that’s not your thing). Today, Deadspin interviewed the architect of the prank.
Fun fact: I was at the that game last week, and my friends and I laughed at that marriage proposal. We talked about the disastrous Houston proposal and wonder what happens when the woman says, “No.” Now we know. Classic.
It’s rough being an old pitcher on the Yankees these days. All the talk swirls around the young arms: Joba, Ian, Edwar, Phil. Even Brian Cashman gushes for paragraphs about Humberto and Ross, not to mention the slew of injured pitchers rehabbing with the Yanks.
For the Yankees and their October dreams, success lies squarely in the past, and starting tonight, we’ll see if that past is ready for one last gasp of greatness.
After striking out Vernon Wells to open the game, Phil Hughes didn’t fan another Blue Jay. The result say it didn’t matter much, as he went six innings, giving up only two runs. Hey, you kinda hope for more from Hughes, but we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we can’t be expecting the sun and the moon from a 21-year-old rookie who had two consecutive injuries to the same leg.
Overall, Hughes threw 67 of his 106 pitches for strikes, which would be a good sign if he didn’t use up those 106 pithes in six innings. He walked three and gave up three hits, all of which came in the first two innings. Hughes also used more than half of his pitches — 54 — in those innings. Half of his innings were of the 1-2-3 variety, and he would have retired the side in order from the third through the sixth had Alex not made an error behind him.
So all in all, he did a good job out there, really settling down after allowing two runs. Thankfully, the Yanks had scored three to that point, and would add six to that number, powered by homers from Jorge Posada and Jason Giambi. Alas, even the longball did not make them the stars of the show.
Hughes was followed by Edwar Ramirez, who was absolutely sick. In his two innings he struck out five Blue Jays, while giving up two hits and walking no one. He threw 31 pitches, 23 of which were strikes. This is the Edwar Ramirez we’ve all hoped to see. He has now allowed zero runs in eight of his 13 appearances. Yes, he’s a bit shaky, and if he’s not keeping that 90-91 mph fastball low in the zone, he’s prone to be pounded. But when he’s on, he’s as good as any reliever in the pen not named Mo.
My personal favorite last night was Ross Ohlendorf. I had turned the game off as the Yankees batted in the ninth, and just happened to flip back right as Ross was throwing his first pitch. Ignoring everyone else in the room — and their requests to change the channel, this was a blowout — I watched Ohlendorf throw 11 pitches, seven of which were strikes. His first major league out was a strikeout, and a beauty at that. He annihilated Lyle Overbay with what appeared to be a sharp sinker, though the scouting reports name no mention of such a pitch; a slider is supposedly in his repertoire, along with a changeup. Two groundouts later — one of which was a fine play by the Former Attorney General — and we were finished in Toronto.
I know it’s a long shot, but with Andy Phillips and Carl Pavano on the 60-day DL, the Yanks are afforded the opportunity to take two players to the postseason roster who weren’t on the 25-man on August 31st. If something clicks with Ohlendorf and he pitches well down the stretch, we could certainly see him and IPK pitching in October, should we make it that far. Exciting proposition, huh?
This has nothing to do with the Yankees, but I want to express my general frustration over the news that Ozzie Guillen has received a four-year extension in recognition for his efforts this season. That’s right; baseball’s clown — the same guy who threw his team under a bus last month — gets a four-year deal in the midst of a Worst-in-Baseball season. The White Sox, under Guillen, have gone just 94-125 since the 2006 All Star break. · (3) ·
Double-A Trenton (5-3 win over Akron) Trenton leads the best-of-five Championship Series 1-0…Chase Wright takes on personal fave Chuck Lofgren in Game 2 tomorrow
Reegie Corona: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 K, 1 HBP
Austin Jackson: 2 for 4, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 K – all 3 RBI came with 2 outs
Colin Curtis: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 2 RBI – both RBI came with 2 outs…which means all 5 of Trenton’s runs came with 2 outs
Juan Miranda, Cody Ehlers & PJ Pilittere: combined 0 for 14, 1 BB, 7 K – Miranda got hit by a pitch & K’ed thrice…Ehlers & Carson each K’ed twice, but Matty threw a runner out at the plate…PJ drew the walk
Marcos Vechionacci: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – signs of life
Gabe Lopez: 2 for 3, 2 R – one thing that all championship clubs have that gets no attention whatsoever is production from the bottom of the lineup
Tyler Clippard: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1-8 GB/FB – still walking too many
Steven Jackson: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – gave up a solo HR to Akron’s #3 hitter, which isn’t all that bad when you have a 3-run lead in the 8th with a stacked bullpen to back you up
Justin Pope: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
…and, man, does he have a lot to say.
In a fantastic and compelling interview with CBS Newsradio 880′s Phil Allard, Cashman fields questions on, well, everything. He talks about the young pitcher prospects; Joba Chamberlain‘s future; the high-risk, high-reward nature of the Brackman draft pick; what the future holds for Humberto Sanchez, Ross Ohlendorf and the disappointing Kei Igawa; some injury updates; and of course, Alex Rodriguez.
The kicker is A-Rod. Cashman reiterates his stance: The Yanks will negotiate with A-Rod as long as the slugger does not opt out. Once he opts out of the contract, Alex Rodriguez will not be back as a member of the New York Yankees. For the Yanks, this makes perfect financial success. They want to keep the money flowing to A-Rod from Texas, and to do so, A-Rod will have to agree to an extension beyond the terms of his original deal.
If A-Rod opts out, a new deal would force the Yanks to pay A-Rod his entire salary. For the next three years under the current deal, Texas foots the bill for a substantial portion. But this unique financial arrangement means the Yanks can afford to pay A-Rod into the future. I think – and I hope – he stays.
Read the interview; it’s a great insight into the mind of the Yanks’ GM.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, as the AL Player of the Week looks to homer in his sixth straight game and Phil Hughes goes for his second straight strong start, Derek Jeter makes his triumphant return to the lineup. While the grumblings are that he’ll need to go in for minor off-season knee surgery, I won’t complain about the Captain’s return to the lineup.
On a related note, how great is it having a bench? While Wilson Betemit had struggled with irregular playing time in August, filling in for the Jeter the last few days, Betemit has gone 5 for his last 13 with a 1 HR and 5 RBI. Miguel Cairo never did that.
Meanwhile, today’s game is brought to you by the number 15. When the Tigers lost game 1 of their day-night doubleheader to the Rangers this afternoon, the Yanks saw their magic number to clinch the Wild Card drop to 15.
Phil Hughes P
According to reports, the city’s Industrial Development Agency postponed a vote on the Yankee Stadium parking tax exemption plan. Some board members had more questions about this plan that could cost taxpayers up to $8000 per parking space. It sounds like the board listened to the Bronx Borough President’s formal protest. · (0) ·
Leave it to the New York Post to turn the Joba Rules and a new playoff format into some whiny article with little basis in reality.
In today’s sports section in the once-proud paper, Larry Brooks opines on the way The Man is conspiring to keep down the Yankees. Brooks says:
That’s because, The Post has learned, the AL regular-season champion will be given the choice of whether to play Division Series A, in which the if-necessary five games are scheduled to be played in seven days beginning on Thurs, Oct. 4; or in Division Series B, in which the five games are scheduled to be played in eight days…
Is it such a stretch to think that the Red Sox, who went into last night leading the Angels by 2½ and the Indians by 3½ for the league’s best record, wouldn’t jump at the chance to play the eight-day series if for no other reason than to require the Yankees to play the seven-day series so Joba Chamberlain would only be available for three games, instead of the four in which he’d be allowed to pitch in the extended version?
When did “regular-season champion” become a term? I thought the regular season champion came out of the League Championship Series. Shows how much I know about baseball.
Throughout the rest of the article, Brooks finds fault with the Yankees for failing to finish with the league’s best record. He says they picked a bad year; he basically says baseball is conspiring against them.
Not once does Brooks consider the obvious: Perhaps in the postseason, the Yankees will relax the Joba Rules.
“Heresy!” you may scream. Well, before you burn me at the stake for offering such an audacious suggestion, let me remind you that the Yankees themselves talked about relaxing the Joba rules earlier this month.
Heaven forbid someone at the Post actually do some reporting before levying doomsday playoff scenarios. Alexander Hamilton must be spinning in his grave.