It was the opinion of the BPS last weekend that Mike Scoscia’s Angels stole two of the three games they won against the Yanks. This weekend – we stole them back.
When the Angels took 3 of 4 in Anahei-m last weekend, I would have forgiven those who snickered as they called us delusional Yankee lovers who looked at the world through pinstripe-colored glasses. After all, our themes were basically that the Angels probably stole two of those games, and when looking at the numbers, it was impossible to understand how the Yanks dropped three of four. We out-hit them, out-homered them, got hosed when balls didn’t travel well at night, etc. This weekend was vindication for BPS. And the best part is – I don’t think it ever occurred to the Angels that they were lucky to pull off three out of four last weekend.
I’m sure I don’t need to go into the specifics of the games, but a few things stuck out. I’m at Ralphie’s barbeque on Saturday, and we’re listening on the radio. As the ninth inning unfolds, I’m on the phone with Acc. It’s tough to feel more comfortable watching a close game than when you see the Ferocious Lion stride up to the plate with the tying run on third and the winning run on second with one out. He is locked in and ready. The most fun for me was watching them take down that jack*ss “K-Rod”. He should have gotten blown up last weekend when A-Rod clobbered what would have been the tying bomb in the ninth at Angel Field, but it died in the damp Anahei-m night. So he survived, and came whomping and whooping off the mound with his usual histrionics. Michael Kay has made an interesting point many times during the broadcasts of these games against the Angels. K-Rod’s antics had gotten so pronounced that last year Troy Percival, the Angels’ former irritable, surly closer, told K-Rod he should cool it because “you’re going to p*ss people off.” Says a lot coming from that guy. Michael Kay would go on to say that Mike Scoscia, K-Rod’s manager, has defended him by saying that “He’s not doing it to show people up, he’s doing it because he’s excited. If I thought it was too much, I would talk to him about it.” Let me translate that for everybody. Scoscia’s really saying – “I know he’s a jack*ss, I know he should cut out the antics, I know he’s p*ssing people off, and I have talked to him about it. The very fact that I’m answering this question means it’s too much. But I’m not getting through to him, and he keeps getting people out, so I’ll live with it.” Funny though. On Saturday afternoon, he didn’t seem quite so excited coming off the mound. You saw what kind of a guy he is when he insisted to reporters – “I beat myself. They didn’t beat me.” Okay, dude. Did you put on a Matsui jersey and smack your own first pitch in the gap?
Sunday’s game was just as exciting. The thing that stuck out for me was that the Angels actually saved the game many times with sparkling circus catches. BPS was adamant in its frustration earlier in the year when the Royals, D-Rays, and even Mets, three teams that do not play particularly good defense, starting making game saving circus catches all over the field. The same does not go for the Angels. They play great D. When a team plays great D, you can’t get upset when they make game-saving circus catches. It’s part of their game. Sunday, the Angels made three huge plays that saved runs – Figgins, Kennedy, and Izturis. But in a wonderfully serendipitous turnaround, the defense betrayed them badly in the late innings. In fairness, the ball to Cabrera took a wild hop. The ball to Erstad, well, what was that Schilling said about aura and mystique?
Earlier this year, Dusty Baker said that the Yankees were the best team he had faced all year. Ron Gardenhire said the same after last week’s series with the Twins. July was a good month for the Yanks. 17-9 overall. And that with a pitching staff that wouldn’t have cut it on the Expos. The Yankees don’t need to send Cy Young out there every day. They just need somebody out there who is competent enough to keep them in the game so that the offense can proliferate. This lineup is as scary as ever. With Giambi back as a force, you are looking at five of the most premier offensive players in the league – Jeter, A-Rod, Sheff, The Lion, and Giambi, all hitting in the same lineup. Add in Cano, who’s hitting over .300 and is a front runner for rookie of the year, and the competent, veteran, playoff tested bats of Posada and Bernie, and this team is more frightening than Mike Rumble wearing Johnny Fantastic’s blue velour “Loverboy” jumpsuit. So with the addition of Leiter and Chacon, and Pavano coming back, the Yankees should be in good shape for the stretch.
The stretch should be interesting. Watching the last week of play, it looks like a four team race for the last three spots in the American League. Assuming the White Sox are in and the Twins and Indians continue to fall apart (for argument’s sake), the Yanks, Red Sox, A’s, and Angels will compete for the other three slots. If you ask me who the odd man out is – I say the A’s. They owe their wild-card-leader position at this point entirely to one, white-hot streak of baseball. 30 out of 37. That really is spectacular, but it probably won’t continue. I know they’ve done this before – and made it stick – but all those games down the stretch against the Angels and Rangers will be tough. And you have so many untested no-names in that lineup. Give Mr. Beane credit, but I don’t think they are quite ready. We’ll see how that turns out, but continuing my thought, that leaves the Yanks and Red Sox to battle for the East. I think the Yanks are the better, deeper, team right now, especially with Trot Nixon going down for a while, but the Red Sox have a whole pile of home games against patsies to play in the coming weeks. That will make it very tough for the Yanks to overtake them. Too close to call.
Finally, since the comments have been extremely sparse the past few posts, (thank you Triple J and Lt), we have had to rely on yet another White Sox fan for entertainment. If you missed it, please look at the “recent comments” section to the left of the page layout. A gentleman named “Kev” has taken exception to the All-Star post regarding Podsednik. To “Kev” I say – welcome aboard, young fella. Judging by your spelling, grammar, and attitude, I would put at about sixth grade. Hope you’re enjoying your summer. And let me get this straight. You admit you would rather have Jeter at the plate in a tough spot, but you maintain that, in a game 7, with 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth, if you needed a pinch runner – “Pods” is the guy. Couple of things on that. First of all, have the White Sox ever been in a game seven? Not in my (or your) lifetime, they haven’t, so we are clearly in uncharted territory for you. But anyway, dude, Jeter is at the top of the league in runs scored every year – he is an outstanding base runner. Even this year, when your boy accidentally stumbled on to the All Star team, Jeter has 20 more runs scored than “Pods”. If “Pods” was so good at base running, he would have more runs scored. Because that’s the ultimate goal of base running, right, Kev? So I would still take Jeter. And so would everyone you know who isn’t humoring you because you’re in sixth grade. I’ll say it again; the White Sox aren’t that good. Their record against the prospective playoff teams (the A’s, Red Sox, Angels, and Yanks)? 8-11. Not so good, bro. Thanks for coming, though.
One other note. I updated the “about” section with more of The Boys. Check it out.
Mikey Rumble, sometimes, has a tendency to be “Jimmy Two Times” from Goodfellas. (“I’m gonna get the papers, get the papers”) So today, as we’re sitting in Suspenders watching the game with his boy Vinnie; Jeter and Cano singled. “What do we got a rally going, a rally going?” he says. We’re sitting at the bar with grilled cheese, a reuben, mozzarella sticks, and a steak sandwich in front of us and a bunch of Met fan firemen across the bar rooting for the Twins. “Gary Sheff is going to van-pinderkrince this next pitch for a three run happy” I decided out loud. Bang. Mike Rumble started cackling hysterically, yanking on my arm and shoulder. This is Mike Rumble’s m.o. The casual observer might think he is actually trying to rip your arm off, as he has never been accused of being a subtle guy. The chick behind the bar is standing there with this “okaaaaay” reaction, in that un-funny way that you get from boring people when they’re trying to be clever. “You called it!” he’s screaming. True, but the truth is I say that sort of thing before just about every pitch. Following this was an afternoon of IM’s from Mannino, a running gamecast from my friends at mlb.com, and eventually, the one letter text message from the big boy – W.
What else can you say about Aaron Small? The guy has given you two solid starts and one solid relief appearance. You really can’t complain. The guy gave you seven innings today. That’s about five and 1/3 more than you can expect from “him”, as Tony Sherry has taken to calling Kevin “The Clown” Brown. I think the nice thing is that we’ve rounded out our short term rotation. Randall, Sean’s boy Moose, the newly acquired Shawn Chacon, Leiter, and Small. When Pavano comes back, Small might be a good long relief guy. Anything’s better than what we’ve got, which is the seven dwarves, my mom, a few of my cousins, Tricky and Orsi (did it).
So what about Chacon? I really have no idea. The good news is his career ERA is 3.98 or something, which is pretty good these days. It’s downright miraculous when you consider he’s pitching in Colorad-o. The bad news is he’s another National league guy coming to the American league. Who knows if he can cut it? But really, beggars can’t be choosers.
Interesting question came in from the gallery. To consider the Yanks chances in the playoffs, based on the info we have now. Of course this is just for fun, because it’s all a long way off, but it’s something the boys in the front office continually have to do, I would guess. So my answer: just as good as anyone else’s. Here’s why. Take a look at the American league. Red Sox, White Sox, the A’s, the Angel’s, and the Twins. Those are the teams with a realistic shot, with the White Sox and Angels looking like the surest bets to make it. You don’t need five pitchers to win in the playoffs. You don’t even need four. The D-Backs will tell you that a team only needs two, if they are the right two. We have two very solid starters in Randall and Moose, provided they continue to pitch well. Who knows what you’ll get from the rest. But the other teams in the American league aren’t bowling you over either. You can’t just look at the standings on July 28 and make assumptions. You have to ask yourself – which of these teams can you actually picture coming in for a series, playing the games, and winning four of seven against the Yanks? Here’s a look.
Let’s start at the top. The Angels are probably the team with the most talent. I’m sure this rankles the White Sox fans’ feathers, but if you look at the lineups, it’s got to be the Angels. Plus, they have a championship and another playoff appearance in the last three years, and the White Sox are less established. We just watched Yanks vs. Angels. The Angels took three out of four. But…. they stole at least one – which they probably would not have done had the Yankees used the “playoff package” of relievers. And all four games were played in Anahei-m. If you look at the matchups, they don’t match up well with Johnson, and they probably don’t match up with Moose. Those two guys handled them pretty well last week. And the Angels lucked out. Washburn himself lamented the fact that he pitched the only game played during the day, because he served up a ball that wouldn’t have gone out at night. As it was, the Yankees out-homered the Angel’s 8-2 in their own park. In any case, the Angels play a very scrappy brand of ball. They are very good at manufacturing runs (which the Yankees are not), and they have some extremely scary hitters in the lineup. It might come down to the pens, and since the long relief is rarely used in the playoffs (although it does happen), slight edge to the Angels. After all, we are 2-5 against them this year. And they always give us fits. But make no mistake; this would be a close series.
White Sox. Tough to say. We haven’t played them yet, but I wasn’t impressed with what I saw against the Red Sox. They have to hope that Garlan-d continues his magical ride, and they better hope he doesn’t wilt under the bright lights in the Bron-x. How many so-so pitchers who had come off of great years have we seen wilt under the playoff lights at the stadium? Mulder, Millwood, Pedro, Freddie Garcia, to name a few. I know they think that pitching is probably their strength, but I would say we neutralize Buehrle and Garlan-d with Randall and Moose. After that, they have to win that series with Contreras, Duque (if his arm doesn’t literally fall off his body by then) and the same Freddie Garcia. And don’t forget a completely untested bullpen. And I just don’t think they can hit with the Yanks. Edge for me goes to the Yanks, but the longer this one goes, the better the Chisox chances would be.
Red Sox. Anybody’s series, boys. See you in game seven.
Twins. We just did this one. The Yankees are a better team. The law of averages says if you continually play this team in the first round, sooner or later they have to win one. It hasn’t worked for Oaklan-d all these years, so maybe it will continue to be talent that carries the day. The Twins have the same problem this year that they’ve had the last few years. They don’t score enough runs, certainly not enough to beat the Yankees. I know they like their pitchers, but the Yankees can hit their bullpen, and it would take a perfect series from the Twins to beat them. Edge to the Yanks.
The A’s. What a miraculous rise these guys have seen. Amazing. Left for dead and yet here they stand, currently in a wild-card seat. The problem with the A’s is that they are always doing it with smoke and mirrors. They have gotten better performances from their pitchers, found some new talent, upgraded with a few “diamonds in the rough”, etc. The same stuff that has kept them in contention every year. But they are not built to beat a team like the Yanks. If they were to beat the Yanks it would take a remarkable series, and a pile of luck. Edge to the Yanks.
Today was a bad day. We lose; everybody else wins. Mint. As the BPS noted yesterday, this was going to be tough. The Yanks never hit Santana well. He’s been struggling a bit this year, but you knew he was going to find his good stuff just in the nick of time. We are still paying the price for blowing the easy games early in the year. 3-10 against the Royals and D-Rays, the two most disgusting teams in the American league, if not baseball. Look no further than that. Leiter, as advertised, found a way to battle. He gave this team a chance to win tonight. I’ll take five innings of a guy with a heart as big as Tricky circa 2000 (did it) any day. The team did not pick him up tonight.
There is truly no one on this team that can pitch outside of Moose, Randall, Leiter and the three amigos in the bullpen (I’ll still give it to Sturtze, even though he let us down tonight). Everybody else throws batting practice. Doesn’t anybody pop a ball up by accident against our cruddy relievers? Dribble one off the end of the bat? Why does everyone constantly pound the ball?
I thought Bernie’s ball was gone in the 8th. Two out, two on, down by three and I was positive that thing was out right off the bat. I was about to get so psyched, and instead I was so devastated, as I saw the camera panning too far over to the right as the ball carried. Dammit. That would have been sick. That’s the type of year it’s been. Nothing is going to come easy for these Yanks. They didn’t lay down, though. That’s important.
JJ, the Mrs. appreciated the well wishes on the finger. For those uninformed, the Mrs. had a little mishap with the blade on the food processor. Took a bit of a slice off the tip of her finger. Dr. BPS had to come in with his cuts and bruises skills, honed from years of making a jack*ss of himself with everyone you read about on this blog. The Doc said she’ll be good as new – in like three weeks.
Vino, you are turning into a walking national enquirer story, dude. You and LK? Ducking out of Bowlmor early? Whoa, dude. Explain yourself.
Remind me to update the “about” section to include the Juice, Petey Goods, and JJ. There is never a dull moment with those dudes.
Mikey Rumble and I will be at Nebras-kas for lunch downtown today (Thursday) if anyone has the guts to join. Maybe I’ll hear more about his new girl – heretofore known only as “The Outspoken Liberal”.
I guess it was only a matter of time before the Juice unleashed the wrath on the BPS. That’s what he brings to the table. Point certainly taken, but here’s what I can promise you. I’m going to say it, whatever it might be, if it’s out there. The rah-rah b*llsh*t is meaningless to me. We’re not playing the games, we’re just watching them. I’m not going to pretend the truth isn’t the truth, and I will always spill it out exactly as it appears before me. I’ll leave it to you guys to figure out whether or not you like it. And vent it on the comments, every time. I don’t pick the comments that go up, they all go up, exactly as you write them, save for some potty mouth editing. And I’m just psyched to see the comments posted.
Missed most of the game tonight. I was at the Angelika watching March of the Penguins with the Mrs. Those cute little buggers have a rough go of it. Fat creatures in black and white, waddling single file. Reminded me of my wedding party………
Timing is a funny thing. Just when we start raking the ball, the pitching is a cross between ER and Last Comic Standing. But yet we keep winning and winning. It truly is odd. The key has been the pillars. Randall and Sean’s boy, the Moose. They weren’t always the pillars. Those guys were struggling early, while the bats were struggling. Wasn’t a good formula. But you knew it couldn’t continue. Now they’re carrying the staff while the bats are pushing the surge in the standing. The Yankees really do look like they’ve found it.
[I’m going to break in here for a second. I’m following the Red Sox-D Rays game on the mlb.com gamecast. Hate to see Clement take one off the noggin, wish him a speedy recovery. Sox are down 8-6 starting the 9th. I’m thinking to myself that this is exactly the type of game that the resilient Sox would pull out the last couple of years. They just have had an amazing, uncanny knack to pull miracles out of their butt when they absolutely have to, i.e. a game like tonight. If they lose they fall into a tie for first, although they would actually be percentage points behind because the Yanks would have one less loss. So what happens as I’m writing this? Varitek homers and Millar just singled with one out. I don’t have a good feeling for this one. I’ll say it again – these guys are positively magical the way they pull off these miracles just when they need them most. Unbelievable. Mueller just doubled. Tie game. What else is new. It’s going to extras, but this one is over. I can pretty much read the quotes right now. We had to do it for Matty, blah, blah, blah. Shut up. The D-Rays are a minefield in this division. The Yankees have gotten destroyed by them, and they are giving the O’s and Sox fits. Why do they su*k so bad again? When they play in the division, they play like monsters. Schilling’s in. There’s hope. One out, though.]
Back to the Yanks. The Yanks are cruising with a two run lead, Randall at the wheel. Bases loaded in the seventh. I call Tony Sherry. “Do you see what’s happening?” He realizes it must be something good. “I turned on the World Series of Poker for a second. What happened?” There was a pitching change in progress. “Your boy’s up with the bases juiced and two outs,” I said. His reply was swift and decisive. “I’m going to call you back in 2 and ½ minutes after he does it.”
[Cutting in again. Well, they’re still under the magic spell. Damon just homered. It looked like Cantu made the last out in the 9th by hitting one to the deepest part of the park (410 ft) for the Rays with a man on. It’s tough to say from the gamecast, but the red dot that marks the spot where the out was recorded looks like it’s literally on top of the wall. That would mean that if he hit it any where else (410 ft!!), game over. But that old Red Sox magic is still lingering. They had to win this one, so they yanked it out of their butt. They’re still up and looking to tack on.]
So The Ferocious Lion singled, scoring two. The call came exactly 2 minutes and 37 seconds after Tony hung up. He’s got some sort of a Vulcan mind meld with the Lion, I think. The way these guys are swinging, they are very difficult to pitch to. Sheff and Cano are slumping some, but Jeter’s coming back. And Giambi continues to be ridiculous, the way he’s getting on base. He was 0-1 tonight with two walks and a HBP.
[Final note on the Sox. Yeah, they did it, but not before Schilling coughed up a run in the tenth and put the tying run on base. What can you say…..]
The Yanks are playing solid baseball. They are going to be heard from. We need to find some healthy pitchers, though. Pavano had another setback, apparently. We’ve got a tough matchup tomorrow with Leiter and Santana. The Yankees don’t hit Santana well. I predict another gutsy performance from Leiter tomorrow. We’ll see how he does. The crowd at the stadium is going to have the adrenaline flowing through his veins, fueling his fire, similar to the way adrenaline fueled *******’s stunning McDonalds run way back in ’92 when he ate all five “Dream Team” value meals in one sitting – supersized. We need him (Leiter, not ******* – who needs that Red Sock loving traitor), since we literally don’t have anybody to pitch on Thursday or Saturday. You have to laugh.
Are you guys serious, by the way? One comment? One? Come on guys. You’re better than that. Thank you Petey Goods, for saving BPS from the shutout. I’ll see you guys tomorrow.
Let me say it right up front. The Sox – yes, the world champion Sox – are just not that good. They are tied with the America-n Heroes in the loss column at the moment, but they are still in first place. No arguments. But here’s my beef. No team that has been so overwhelmingly dependant on two guys for all of their run production can be considered that dangerous. They have a knack for winning games, I’ll admit. I’m ready to give credit where it’s due. But every single time you turn on the highlights and see Bosto-n coming from behind, getting the huge hit, or winning a thriller, it’s always, always, always the same two guys. Sure, on occasion Damon will be the guy flying around third to score, ridiculous hair that he will regret in ten years flopping behind him, but it’s all about the dynamic duo. Let’s look at some numbers. Using the “runs produced” stat gives you a good idea of how many runs a person is responsible for. Its RUNS + RBI – HR (to eliminate the redundancy – when you hit a bomb, you get a run and a RBI). When you combine the runs produced for those two guys, they account for a full 50% of the Red Sox runs. That is an outlandish number. No other first place team has two guys that are even close to that. Certainly no two guys on the Yanks, which makes sense. Sheff and A-Rod would leave out Matsui and Jeter, etc. You just aren’t as dependant on the same guys.
Why did the Red Sox win the alcs last year? Please don’t say starting pitching. I’m sure that would be a more convenient post-script, but it just doesn’t work. The Sox starters were 2-3 in the alcs last year, and in five of the starts left the game on the hook for the “L”. So that doesn’t make sense, does it? So why did they win? Because Ortiz and Manny, mostly Ortiz, were absolutely unconscious in games 4-7. That’s the way it goes. Tim McCarver, who I can go either way on – sometimes he’s insightful, sometimes he’s pompous, self promoting and monotonous – said it best last year. He made the comment in the playoffs – “Barry Bonds must be sitting there scratching his head asking why Ortiz gets pitched to and he doesn’t.” He was dead on. Ortiz was every bit as ridiculously white-hot as Barry Bonds ever was, and they would always pitch to him. He had Manny behind him, okay, but good pitchers can get Manny out. Ortiz was as automatic as I’ve ever seen anybody last year. No one could get him out. And that’s why they will not repeat. As good as Manny and Ortiz are, they’re not going to get a performance like that two years in a row in all the clutch spots. Their luck will run out. And when it does, the Red Sox will run out, because they’ve got little else. They depend on those guys for fully one half of their runs. Besides, teams, like the Yankees, who were probably prevented partly by pride from doing what needed to be done, i.e. staying away from Ortiz and giving him a shave once in a while, will learn from their mistake. I’d love to be above that stuff, too, but I’d love to win more.
So who else makes up this vaunted Red Sox offense? Damon is having a great year, but is currently 45 points above his career average. The only starter on the Yankees that is even at their career average is A-Rod, and he’s only 11 points above. Varitek is having a solid year, but is also playing way over his head, hitting 31 points above his career average. Varitek is a career .274 hitter who is currently over .300. Probably won’t continue. I will admit – he’s a solid catcher. I’ve always said it was kind of a push between Varitek and Posada. Similar to Munson-Fisk. After that, a string of mediocrity. Mueller, Millar, Bellhorn, Renteria, and Trot Nixon. No one that really scares you. And how about the pitching? Clement? He’s already losing a lot of his first half steam. You knew that was coming, he’s never been that good. Wade Miller has been so-so, Wakefiel-d has been so-so, Wells is a time bomb, Arroyo’s on the trading block, and Schilling, well, he’s been the most fun of all.
I have to wonder. Is anyone in Bosto-n getting a little tired of Curt Schilling’s act? I know they must be, whether or not they want to admit it to Yankee fans. He is really too much. Even from here in NY, we have seen many guys who went to Bosto-n over the years with a Hollywoo-d script already secretly in hand starring them as the hero who single-handedly “broke the curse.” Schilling is the most egregious of these. I certainly don’t think he put ketchup on his sock, but I do think he made **** sure that there was blood high enough on the sock for the cameras to spot. And he knew **** sure the cameras would be zooming on the sock. Why not? He got POUNDED in game one, after shooting his mouth off about shutting up Yankee fans, so he had himself a ready-made excuse if he lost, and if he won, cue the “movie of the week”. No wonder his teammates hate him wherever he goes. You can really see why. He’s an over-the-top jack*ss.
Don’t get me wrong, the Yanks have their problems, too, as we talk about every other day on BPS. But we’re not talking about them today.
Are the Rangers really going to deal Soriano to the Mets? I don’t think it’s on the table now, but last year, Reyes for Soriano was (and is) a steal for the Mets any day of the week. Reyes is a .265 hitter with an on base percentage under .300 who is injury prone with no power. The Mets PR machine is in overdrive trying to hype the guy, even now, probably to deal him, eventually. Whenever you start hearing quotes from different guys (Willie, Pedro) popping up in succession right around the trading deadline like “When all is said and done, all of us will say – I played with Jose Reyes” – immediately hit the button and scream “bu*lsh*t!!” That’s an attempted robbery in progress, gentlemen, perpetrated for the benefit of the GMs around the league. The guy’s not that good. And he’s certainly not going to be Soriano. The one I heard today is Heilman, a middle reliever who was supposed to have potential five years ago, and Zambrano, a journeyman, for Soriano. I’m not sure if that was real or some hilariously unrealistic Met fan making up a ridiculous trade. Because if the Rangers did that, that’s what it would be. And if the Mets could pull it off, Manaya deserves “executive of the year,” if that is a real award.
Not bad for an off day, no?
I’m Mr. Brightside. Well, at least I will be for today. Sure, I would love to have taken at least one more of these Angel games. The one on Thursday was just the wrong swing at the wrong time, and an undoubtedly fortuitous moment for Mike Scoscia’s club. And that game on Tuesday that we had won but for bad management by Torre still rankles my feathers to an extent, I’ll admit. But I’ll take it. Four against Bosto-n, three against Texa-s, and four more against the Angels. All on the road, three different time zones in eleven days, no breaks. And we come back in better shape that when we left. We started the road trip 2 ½ behind Bosto-n, 2 in the loss column. We come back 1 ½ behind them, 1 in the loss column. What can you say? How can you not be happy with that? Our starting staff is a disaster, our best DH/pinch hitter is out with a hammy, and we have exactly three pitchers in the bullpen we can count on (those three are killers, though). But you have to feel good. Help is on the way. Pavano is coming back, we’ll see how this Wang “strengthening” experiment goes (I don’t have high hopes), and the news on Wright, for the first time, is encouraging. Pavano hasn’t knocked anybody over this year, but let me remind you of the alternative. His name rhymes with Kevin Clown. I’m reaching for a miracle here, but if we got Wang back, we would really steady the ship. Randall, Moose, Wang, Pavano, and Leiter would give you a chance to win most of your games. Without Wang, I don’t know. Because I want Brown gone.
Today’s game made BPS look like we know what we’re talking about, for once. The BPS yesterday talked about balls not traveling out at night. Today, this quote from Washburn:
"That is a pitch one I’d like to have back, but you don’t get it back." I didn’t think he hit it that well, but that is what happens here in the daytime."
He was talking about The Ferocious Lion’s bomb in the seventh, of course. I watched at least four balls hit way harder than that die on the track or the wall this series. The Angels were lucky three of these four games were night games. BPS said their luck would run out. Well……
The BPS yesterday also talked about the lack of aggressiveness by the Yankee base runners. The Yankees showed some fire today. Cano got gunned trying to score on a would-be sac fly by A-Rod. Former Yankee Juan Rivera made a perfect throw. Give him credit. In the seventh, Giambi (of all people) takes off for second because no one bothered to hold him on, and moves to third on a base hit by Posada. The hit was to left, no less, and definitely shallow enough to throw him out. The throw was off target, and Giambi was safe. He scored on the ground out by Tino on the next play. This was exactly our point yesterday, and one that the Angels have exploited all week-end. Give it a shot, and make them make a perfect play. They’ll get you once in a while, but so what? They won’t get you all the time and you’ll get an opportunity to score on a groundout.
Let’s talk about the star of the game. I know Tony Sherry’s vote goes to the Ferocious Lion, but I’m going to go with Sean’s boy – The Moose. Once again he gave us the start we desperately needed when we needed it most. He was a monster.
Admittedly, I didn’t see a single pitch today. I was at a family barbeque all day, getting text messages from Joey (brother-in-law) and Acc. And I was checking the scores on my phone. Just in case you didn’t realize how big a loser I really am. Surprisingly, I didn’t get the requisite call from Tony Sherry when the Lion made nice things happen.
Want to acknowledge Chris Woy for a moment. He’s the only guy to post a comment on the weekend in forever. Love it. Also want to make a comment on the Lt. BPS’s favorite Naval Officer, a distinguished alum of the naval academy, was rumored to be wearing a “Beat Navy” pin on Saturday at west point. Could it be true? It could be, if west point instructors Maj. O’Neill and Lt. Col. Fenton gave him a direct order to wear it. That’s all I’ll say.
Off day tomorrow. The Yanks deserve it, after the road trip. Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?
These Angel games have been tough to watch. We’ve had a lead in every one and suffered through some really frustrating breaks. BPS outlined the six bad breaks in a row on Thursday night, and we haven’t fared much better in these last two.
Tonight was a bit different. It’s a bit difficult to blame bad breaks when you are walking everybody around the bases. Kevin Brown is abysmal. I know we have no healthy starters, but why is he still on this team? I don’t care what we’re paying him. Kevin Brown is giving you nothing out there. And he has been giving you nothing since the day he put on pinstripes. Make a deal, tonight. Get somebody to take him off your hands for something, anything, and offer to pay for as much of his salary as you need to. Just get him off this team. If absolutely nobody wants him, cut him. He’s finished. He can’t get anyone out, he’s walking people, he’s not a competitor out there, and he’s hurting the team every time he takes the mound.
Pitching has been an issue for the Yanks, obviously, but Wang going down was really the straw that broke the camel’s back. They were able to overcome their pitching woes after the all-star break with an awakening of the bats, as well as some gutsy pitching performances. The bats got us to 5-2 on this trip and should have gotten us at least one more win here in southern cal. But the Angels have won with a combination of incredible luck, guile, scrappiness on the base paths, and solid late relief. Let’s talk about the luck. Tons of it. For instance, Vlad Guerrero is 2 for 12 in this series. At the risk of being obvious, he is trying to get a hit every time up, and the Yankees are trying to get him out every time up. The only two times he has succeeded in 12 tries just happened to be home runs, they just happened to come with bases loaded and two-on respectively, and they happened to come when the Angels were facing a three run deficit and a two run deficit, respectively. They are also the only two home runs the Angels have hit in this series. The Yankees, meanwhile, have hit seven home runs in this series, all but one a solo shot. And the one was a two run shot. You can’t save up your homeruns for the right moment. You can’t pick when you will hit them. They happen when they happen. Sometimes you just get lucky. Or unlucky. The Yankees have been pounding the ball over the place, but they have been the victim of bad timing. They have also been the victim of the orange county night air. We’ve been over A-Rod’s shot that amazingly didn’t clear the wall on Thursday, today you saw Posada and Tino hit blasts to deep right, Posada’s stopping right in front of the wall, Tino’s bouncing off of it. Those balls were scorched. Both would have been bombs just about anywhere else, including the Big A in a day game. So being badly out-homered, the Angels must be out-hitting the Yanks by a pretty wide margin to have won all three games, right? Wrong. Hits are dead even at 28 apiece after three games. So to re-cap, they are dead even in hits, they have been out-homered 7-2, and they have won all three games. Enjoy it while it lasts, Angels.
In fairness, it’s not all luck, of course. I like their aggressiveness. BPS yesterday touched on the Yankees being a station to station team. The Angels have just run, run, run. Stealing bases, getting thrown out trying to steal bases, taking extra bases, getting thrown out trying to take extra bases, etc. I love it, personally. You go for the extra base, particularly with two out. The odds of getting a double, or two singles, to score a guy with two outs is so slim that’s it’s worth trying to take the extra base and only needing a ball to slip through the infield to score. The Yankees never do any of that, and strand way too many guys. Two instances tonight resonated. Gary Sheff singles in the 5th with men on 1st and 2nd and no out to continue a rally. Jeter scores, but Cano stops at second. Vlad’s throw sails up the third base line. Cano would have been in standing, and Sheff might have gone to second. After A-Rod whiffed, The Ferocious Lion hit a weak ground ball to second. Would have scored a run. Instead, the Yanks got nothing. And in the 6th, that ball that Tino plunked off the wall with one out ends up a single. Michael Kay announces that he “smartly” stays at first. “Smartly?” The ball sailed into short left field! Tino, though slower than Englebert from Bad News Bears, would have been on second standing up also. Nothing again. Take a base, boys.
The pitching is really awful. The only competent pitchers on the mound in this series have been Randall and Gordon. And they have only been on the mound for exactly 7 and 2/3 innings. Every other inning of this series has been some ******. We need help. And this is the last time I will bring up the jack*ss bullpen management from last Tuesday. To close the book on this, Torre refused to use Sturtze, Gordon, and Rivera in a 1 run game last Tuesday night that was there for the taking – trying to “keep them fresh.” He then used them all the very next night with a five run lead, and Sturtze and Rivera haven’t seen a mound since. Hopefully Torre learned his lesson. Play for today, and never, ever, give away a win by not using the right guy tonight because you think you might need him tomorrow.
The Yankees have, once again this season, stayed true to their pure streaky nature. After winning 12 of 14, they are in the throes of a 1-4 skid, and it doesn’t get much easier at home, with the Twins and Angels again. I’ll say this, though. If they play the same games against the Angels that they are playing in the O.C., they will win two out of three at least. Because the luck will run out for them. It always does, at some point.
Is everybody paying attention? Because I’m about to give away the secret. I’ve known it for years. How to beat the Yankees. It’s pretty simple, actually. Throw strikes. That’s it. Not much more to it. Here’s what you gain. The Yankees, although they have too much speed to be a station to station team, are very much a station to station team. Only A-Rod and Jeter will take the extra base. Pretty much nobody else up and down the lineup. If you throw strikes, and don’t let them walk a few guys on, you will make it very difficult for the Yankees to score runs. Being a station to station team, it’s going to take, potentially, four hits in a row to score a run. A single run. That’s a lot of hits. Four hits in a row is a rare occurrence in baseball. Of course, it’s not always going to take four in a row, and some of those could be extra base hits, which could mean multiple runs, depending on the chronology. But you get the drift. The walks are what bury teams. Pitchers get nervous, they don’t want to walk anybody else, so they start to groove the ball. Goodnight. The Red Sox are similar. Have you ever noticed which pitchers fare well against the Yankees and Red Sox? David Wells and Mike Mussina come to mind. Guys who throw lots of strikes and don’t walk you. If you’re lucky, it will be one of those rare nights when the Yankee bats just don’t show up. Tonight was an example of that, sort of. The bats were there, but not when we needed them.
I was talking to Acc as the game was starting, and we set the tone early, agreeing we were playing with house money because the Sox and O’s lost. Tonight was not a good match-up. Lackey has been pitching very well for the Angels, and Leiter just wasn’t going to give you what he gave you last Sunday. It was highly unlikely, anyway. And things proceeded pretty much along those lines. A couple of things surprised me though. Lackey was not as dominating as I thought he would be. He was throwing perfect pitches, early on. The sequence to Giambi in the fourth was masterful. He threw him a perfect pitch on 2-2. It was a hair under the knees, just over the inside corner. Giambi looked at it for a ball. So close. Most guys would have swung and either missed or hit a weak ground ball. It was unhittable. One the 3-2 pitch, he got him with the exact same pitch K-Rod got him with last night. Great sequence. Here was what surprised me a bit about him, and perhaps contributed to his not being as sharp, and only lasting six. He is the single biggest whining crybaby I have ever seen on a mound. Worse than Jeff Weaver, worse than anybody. A total baby. Admittedly, once again the umpiring was really shaky tonight, and you really had no idea what home plate ump Eric Cooper was going to call from one pitch to the next. But Lackey was crying demonstrably about calls on the basepaths, check swings, everything. What a b*tch. It was really getting to him in the fourth. He got shakier from there. The Yankees just weren’t feeling it tonight with the bats, however.
It’s amazing how much less potent the lineup is when Gary Sheff isn’t hitting. We had gaps everywhere tonight. Anyone wondering why we were 1 for 10 with RISP? Follow the lineup and it’s clear. Jeter’s slumping, Cano’s hitting, Sheff is slumping, A-Rod’s hitting, Matsui’s slumping, Giambi’s hitting, Posada’s slumping. Any questions? Following that lineup (which was tonight’s lineup), you can see what’s going to happen. You’re going to get lot’s of runners in scoring position, and you’re going to strand them there. So that’s what they did.
Two pieces of encouraging news in tonight’s game, believe it or not; and I stop short of calling it good – just encouraging.
The first was the way Leiter battled. He was awful in the first three innings (it’s pretty sad when encouraging news is starting with Leiter getting pummeled). The big boy and I couldn’t think of one pitch that the Angels swung and missed at in the first three innings. They took some strikes, and they fouled some off, but didn’t swing through anything. They hit hard outs, and they plated four quickly, touching Leiter for 7 hits in 2 and 1/3 innings of work. That was scary. But this is where Leiter showed you his NY roots, and separated himself from Kevin Brown and all of the other can’t-hack-it’s that show up in this town. He battled from that point on, allowing just three more hits in his final 3 and 2/3 innings. He ate up 6 full innings, and he gave the Yanks a chance to mount a comeback. I’ll take it, frankly. Sure, you’re not going to have a ton of success with that formula against the Angels bullpen, but against the rest of the league, you tighten up like that that Yanks will make a run at some point in the game. I think he’s going to work out for us.
The other encouragement I took is a bit of a stretch, I’ll admit. Actually, it rarely means anything. That is that we have made K-Rod throw 40 pitches in two days, and we have two left to play. He may be a little worn down. Like I said, a bit of a stretch, but a guy can dream, right?
I’m hoping the Yankees will take one of the next two and come home 6-5 on the road trip. Disappointing, somewhat, because we started out 5-2 with a big lead last night. But the Angels have always given us fits, and going out there for four after Bosto-n and Texa-s is like root canal. We have the three guns in the pen rested and ready, and hopefully some of these sleeping bats will wake up. Jeter and Sheff would be nice. I’d like to come back to the stadium in striking distance, and see what happens from there.
Was there any Yankee fan in the world who didn’t know that was coming? I can say, with a lot of confidence, that any jack*ss that actually sat there watching this game until 1 am knew that one of those guys, either Vlad or Garrett Anderson, was going to hit a granny right there. I was so positive I turned off the sound on my TV before the pitch because I didn’t want to have to listen to the crowd go nuts. You just knew.
There were a few things that made this game so unbearable. We had an incredible run of bad luck. The same kind that sent us into an 11-19 tailspin early in the year. Back then, the BPS was there every day running through the amazing anomalies and outliers in the Yankee stats; the fact that nothing in the numbers could explain the horrible run. If you watched the games, however, you could see the unbelievable things that would happen night after night. What I watched tonight caused rapid-fire flashbacks. We can start with the fact that we got one big break. Some Yankee fan reached out and grabbed a ball that would have tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, causing a one-run ground rule double instead of a sure two-run double or triple. We did get two runs in the next half of the inning, but nevertheless, we got a break. But that is where it all ended. The breaks start going against us in the seventh. 1) Randall hurts his back and has to come out of the game. Jeff Davanon comes up and works out a nine pitch walk. Great at bat, certainly. 2) Then we get a fly ball which Bubba Crosby tracks down, dives to make a great play on, and the ball squirts out of his glove. First and second. 3) Then Figgins’ bat explodes on a jam shot that squeaks over, and maybe nicks, A-Rod’s glove. Bases juiced. The last little piece of horrible luck in this sequence? 4) The two near-miss balls just happened to be hit in front of the teeth of the lineup. Vlad, who was in the worst slump of this career (read: so due there was sweat coming out of his bat) and Garret Anderson, who has been a starting outfielder for my and Acc’s “All Yankee-killer” team for ten years. Even though they went to Flash, you knew what was coming.
And so it came. But that’s not where the carousel ended. Bottom nine. 5) A-Rod hits a monster shot. I leap to my feet. I let out a disgusted roar when the ball hit off the top of the wall. I could not believe that thing didn’t go out. He easily hit that thing four hundred feet. I yelled so loud (it was 1 in the morning) that the Mrs. comes out of the bedroom (she hadn’t gone to bed yet, so I’m not a total jerk). “What happened?” she asked, more to gauge the severity of my mood for the next 24 hours than to find out about the game. I explained my pain. “That ball has to go out,” I said. “Even though there’s a man on second with no outs, it doesn’t matter. They won’t win if that ball doesn’t go out.” Now I know that wasn’t a complete certainty, but with K-Rod on the mound, everything was a long shot. And they didn’t get it done. But there was one more dagger left. 6) Home plate ump Larry Young makes an unbelievable “strike” call on Giambi on a 3-1 pitch. Giambi, rightfully, had thrown the bat and headed to first, because that ball wasn’t even close. A foot and a half outside. Giambi stopped in his tracks and looked to the sky – please tell me you’re kidding-style. The irony was that the pitch wasn’t even supposed to be a strike. They were trying to pitch him a ball off the plate – they didn’t mind at all if they walked him. It was the perfect situation. If they walk Giambi, so what? Conventional wisdom says you probably should have walked him in the first place, as hot as he is, with a big double play candidate coming up next in the person of .243 hitting Bernie Williams. The worst part of it was that now he had two strikes on him, and the next pitch might has well have been written on a script and handed out to everybody. K-Rod and the new catcher, Josh Paul, were giggling to themselves as they called for the same pitch again, this time a little bit more outside. So now they could really afford to take a chance, because Giambi has to be defensive, and because Larry Young just tacked another two feet on his strike zone. Whiff. There you go. It’s like getting a face card six hands in a row with twelve showing all six times. Bust.
One more dead horse to beat. Here’s Joe Torre’s bonehead management of the bullpen on Tuesday and Wednesday coming back to haunt them again. As we have repeated here at BPS, Torre holds out his elite bullpen guys on Tuesday with a one run lead, uses all of them last night with a five run lead, and now he can’t use anybody tonight until there’s bases loaded with nobody out, and the go-ahead run is at the plate in the person of the all-universe Vlad Guerrero. Sturtze wasn’t available tonight in his usual seventh inning because he was too busy burning his arm yesterday with a five run lead. That one wasn’t due to any bad luck. We have only Mr. T to blame for that. And I’m not talking about Bad Attitude Baracus. Two losses in three days because of this, Joseph. Get your head on straight.
I would have loved to have gone into Giambi’s white-hot streak, and the fact that he pulled his average up to .289 before the last at-bat. I would loved to have mentioned how comfortable Randall looked out there, and how you’re starting to expect dominating performances from him. I would have really enjoyed to have talked about all of the bombs they are hitting. But right now, I don’t care. This one kills you. The first game of a four game series. I don’t mean to be captain obvious here, but now it takes winning two out of three just to gain a split. And Moose (Mr. Run Support, as Sean pointed out) can only pitch in one of those games. In one game we’re hoping lightning strikes twice with Leiter, a Kevin Brown start is always fun, and before you know it – Aaron Small is back on the hill.
There are few things worse in baseball than being on the wrong end of a grand slam with a three run lead. This one will sting for a while.
“Ameriquest.” What a silly little ballpark. It’s almost as bad as that ballpark in Philly. That thing is positively ridiculous. I love the new ballparks, but does it make sense to continue to build wiffleball fields. Balls fly out of this thing faster than accle-stick park. Six bombs. The most important was the three run shot by Cano. The most compelling were the two apiece from Tino and Giambi. Let’s hope Tino is poised for a streak. That’s what he’ll do. He’ll get streaky on you and pound the ball, like he did for 10 days in May. If we can get another big ten days out of him, we would be looking really tough. And Giambi has slowly but surely been putting together a good year. Not just passable; actually good. You want to hear some weird stuff? Giambi is only hitting 10 points less than Jeter. Giambi has the third best OBP in all of baseball (kind of painful to see that Nick Johnson is second). And he’s now got 13 home runs. He’s on pace to hit twenty five or so, but he seems to really be finding his groove. Anyone notice, besides Gary Sheff, that this lineup became unstoppable right around the fourth of july, when Giambi exploded like a roman candle into the bron-x sky?
Watching the broadcast, Ken Singleton made the point that Torre’s willingness to hold back his premier relievers yesterday worked out for him tonight, because everyone was available. I’m going to have to strongly disagree with Kenny Singles. This was exactly the point of the BPS yesterday. The Yankees had a five run lead tonight. Tonight you could afford to throw the chumps out there. Tonight would have been a perfect time for the cruddies. You can’t hit a five run home run. Torre compounded his mistake last night by using every one of his premier guys tonight. There’s Mariano on the mound in the ninth inning with a four run lead. A non-save situation. Why? If you are so concerned about keeping these guys fresh, so much so that you are willing to concede a game that was in the bag, why are you throwing the same guys out there with a five run lead the very next night? Come on, Torre. What is the matter with you?
On another note, I will continue to admit my mistake. Robinson Cano certainly looks like the real deal. He is currently 10th in the american league in hitting. You just feel like he’s going to be a tough out when he comes up to the plate. Similar to Nick Johnson, but Nick Johnson was a tough out because he would work you to death, also. Cano won’t take the walks so much, but he can hit.
I’m curious to see what Randy Johnson gives the Yanks tomorrow. He’s up against Colo-n, who has given the Yanks fits over the years. I can remember being in the stands at the Stadium with Chris Woy when Luis Polonia broke up his no-no in the eighth inning. That was an awful night. If Randy pitches well, can we finally assume he’s turned the corner? Can he finally show some consistency? Hopefully the bats continue their support. Didn’t help Sean’s boy Moose, as he pointed out. Amazing….. It will help that the Angels starters are suspect, because ours certainly are, as well. Only one more game before Leiter…. The Angels have also always had an excellent bullpen, but so do the Yanks. They could have used a bit more rest, though…….