This is awesome. A rain delay. But not just a rain delay. A rain delay that isn’t going to end well. First of all, I confess to not really knowing the rules, as usual, when it comes to rain delays. The rain comes when the Yankees have a lead, of course, so we can start with that. So what’s worse? Do you sit and wait it out? Sounds good. Who can forget last year when jerks like me sat there until quarter-to-four in the morning watching the Yankees lose to the Tigers in extra innings after a rain delay. After all, you’re not going back to Pittsburgh any time soon, so another option is to have one of those “we’ll play it if we need to” games looming for the rest of the season. Or even worse, actually schedule a trip to Pittsburgh on an off day. That’s just awful. So you sit and wait it out, right? Great. The problem is that you need to get on a plane and go play the Mets at 2pm tomorrow afternoon in the Bronx. And the Mets have been resting comfortably in New York enjoying an off-day. Awesome. So neither option is good. Which is worse? Do you get this game out of the way tonight and throw tomorrow’s away in the process? Or do you bail on tonight and get out of town to be fresh(er) for tomorrow.
My opinion – you play. Here’s why. First of all, you’re winning. Dude, if you’ve got a lead against the Pirates, you’ve got a real good shot at winning a game. Just do it. Plus, you’ve already burned out Moose. So play and win. You know why else? You’re not going to win tomorrow anyway. Not a chance. First of all, the team is going to be exhausted. Somebody is going to lose tomorrow. Either Dan Giese or Sidney Ponson. I hope not both. But they’re not going to sweep. And I know there is the “that’s why they play the games” scenario where the Yankees might surprise you, but the Yankees never do that. They lose every game they’re supposed to lose. So take the win tonight.
So, of course, they postponed the game. So take the lead away, give the Pirates a reprieve, and take away an off day during a homestand. You couldn’t have written a worse scenario. Not if you hired George Lucas to write the script. The Yanks are still going to get in at 2am, and the game will start 12 hours later. Disaster.
When the game against the Mets was postponed last time, I figured it might have been a blessing in disguise for the Yanks. They were reeling. Help was a long way off. Allie and Posada were on the DL, Joba was an underused 8th inning guy, and the Mets were outclassing them all over the field, if that’s possible. I figured when they met again Allie and Posada would be back and the Yankees would have to be playing better. And last week, they would have been exactly the story. But now, the Ferocious Lion is out, Damon is hurt, and they’re starting Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, and Peter Tork in three of the games. So…..awesome….
I know. Lots of pessimism today. I would love the Yankees to prove me wrong, but they rarely do that in 2008. Besides. The Mets are so much better than their record. All of the turmoil and odd behavior aside, there is really no reason for the Mets to be where they are. The last time they met, both teams were reeling. Something had to give. And something wasn’t the Mets. And it wasn’t really close either. Bottom line – I would be ecstatic with a split. Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement. I’m a Yankee fan. Yankee fans are never going to be happy with a split. It’s not in their nature. I would be grudgingly satisfied with a split.
Joey (brother-in-law) is going to be in section 24 tomorrow afternoon. I’d love to say I felt good about it.
“You know they say revenge is a dish best eaten cold.” “You mean served. Served cold.” “Oh….right.”
- Danny Aiello in “Dinner Rush“
Great New York movie from 2000, if you’ve never seen it. The kind of movie that leaves you starving, like “Big Night” with Stanley Tucci. Also might be the most clever use of a doo-wop overlay when “Oh What a Night” by the Dells starts to play near the end of the movie. I’ve seen it a few times, and I’m watching it on IFC as I type.
Back to the Yanks. What timing they have. You need runs? Why didn’t you say so? I have to spend four games against some seriously chump teams in the National League begging for runs as the Yankees lose three out of four, and then they go out and pound out ten runs like it was the easiest thing they’ve ever done. Figures.
The Yankees have two problems right now. First, three out of the five starters that began the season are on the DL. And if I had heard that back in April, and you told me Wang would be one of the three and Moose wouldn’t, I probably would have recommended to my late June self that I grab the remote and start watching American Chopper reruns. And that still might be a good idea. Second, the offense has been terribly inconsistent. And now Johnny Damon and the Ferocious Lion are both hobbling around the dugout, both barely able to walk. To think that going into one of the toughest stretches of the year we’re looking to the Moose and Jason Giambi to lead the defense and offense respectively is horrifying. Hey, I know they’ve both been solid, but it’s kind of like playing wiffle ball with only one ball. It’s fun as h*ll while it lasts, but it’s only a matter of time until it lands in Mrs. Goodman’s backyard and you’ve got to find another way to spend your afternoon. And frankly, it hasn’t even been that fun lately.
Yes, Triple J. Joba gave us exactly what we asked for. Jason Giambi today went out of his way to praise the move to put Joba in the rotation. Apparently he was one of the Yankees that didn’t love the move initially. Obviously he was a demon in the bullpen, and the move took him away from that for a month, but the result looks pretty good right now. And as Giambi said today, all of this is made a hundred times more urgent by Wang’s absence. Is it enough? Not sure I’m confident that it is. You’ve got four games against the Mets this weekend, and the Yankees are starting Dan Giese, Darrel Rasner, and Sidney Ponson in three of those games. Is anybody else a little embarrassed by this? You have to laugh, I guess. But you want to hear one that’s even better? Apparently just ahead of Phil Hughes on the rehab road back is the true savior himself, Carl Pavano. Yup, I said ahead of Phil Hughes. Both are due back in August; Pavano is throwing, and Hughes is still weeks away from throwing. If that doesn’t make you feel better, I really don’t know what will.
Statistician Magician, I love to have you back commenting, but I wasn’t trying to goad you back. The Red Sox are not that good, dude. They’re good. But they’re not that good. Are they better than the Yankees? Yes. Are they better than the Rays? Yes. But they’re just not that good. No really good team has a losing record on the road, and the Red Sox have been awful on the road. Interestingly, there are only 4 teams with winning road records. The Angels, Cardinals, Phillies, and Yankees. And while we’re at it, the Red Sox are only four games in the loss column ahead of the Yankees, who have been particularly dull, to be kind. And they are currently leaning heavily on some young pitching and J.D. Drew, of all people. Nope. Sorry dude. Not that good. Maybe that will change, but right now that’s the story.
I hope the Yankees don’t lose consecutive series’ to the Reds and Pirates. That would be a real cherry on the top of the run-up to this weekend’s amateur hour on the mound against the Mets… I hope we don’t need some of those ten runs tomorrow.
“Father-in-law here.” I was listening to Big Joe’s voicemail on Monday night. I was at my mother’s house nibbling on some pecans while the girls were doting on the boy. “Listen… I don’t ever want to hear you complain about the Yankees again. I’m watching the Mets right now. They’re losing 4-0. Do you know why? Because the pitcher hit a grand slam. It’s the first grand slam by a pitcher since before you were born [which was true]. I’ve already turned this game off, and I don’t want to hear any more complaining.” Tough night for the Mets. And another tough night tonight. Also a tough night for the Yanks. I know Big Joe doesn’t want me to complain, but it’s tough to sit back and take this cr*p. So here are some random thoughts…
The Pirates kind of had this coming to them. I still remember a few years ago when the Pirates got hosed when they should have won a game in Yankee Stadium. A Yankee, admittedly I don’t remember who it was, was called safe on the back end of the double play in the ninth inning. Should have been the third out in the bottom of the ninth inning, game over. Eventually Jason Giambi hit a walk-off bomb to win the game. The Yanks finished off the sweep then, and also finished off a sweep last year. It was only a matter of time before these guys won a game.
So the Yankees are just not that good. I know that’s kind of a big statement for the start of the third paragraph, but it just appears to be the truth right now. Sure, there have been some strange occurrences. The Reds, who are terrible, played brilliantly in three games in Yankee Stadium. And were super-clutch. Strange. Very similar to what the Royals did a few weeks ago. The only mistakes they made all weekend were two instances when they forgot there were only two outs. Neither made any difference in the score. The Yankees lost two absolutely winnable games by making dumb mistakes. Friday night they lost because Johnny Damon dropped an easy fly ball out. Saturday they lost because Dan Giese threw a double play ball into centerfield. Saturday was even worse because the Yankees failed time and time again to score runs. Eleven at-bats with runners in scoring position. Zero runs. The Reds had three at-bats with runners in scoring position. Six runs. Tonight the Pirates didn’t miss anything. It’s kind of disturbing when the Pirates are setting their season-highs in hits and runs scored against the Yankees. That’s how you know you’re just not that good. It’s pretty simple. They banged out 19 humiliating hits and left just 5 men on base all day. The Yankees, again, had 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Three runs (the other two were a Bobby bomb with a runner on first). The futility is stunning. The Yankees have only put that many runs up 5 times all year. The bomb by Abreu was the first Yankee home run since last Wednesday. They went 47 innings against the Padres, Reds and Pirates without hitting a home run, losing two games in which a home run would have sealed a win any number of times, and losing tonight when a well-timed home run or two would have changed the course of the game. As it was, Melky missed a grand slam by about 5 feet that would have given the Yankees a two-run lead. They, of course, failed to score after that.
You really couldn’t have written a worse injury script a few weeks ago, when the Yankees were getting this streak off the ground. Johnny Damon, generally recognized to be the engine for the team, had vaulted himself among the league leaders in batting, right up there with the Ferocious Lion, who was leading the league in hitting. And he was the guy getting all of the clutch hits. So here we are, a few weeks later, and we’ve got the Lion and Damon both hurting, with the Lion having to sit because he can’t play the field in the NL parks. And Wang is out until September at the earliest. This is bad. Very, very bad. And now we’ve lost three of four to the Reds and Pirates. Dude….
So where are we now? Waiting for Joba to come out and shut down a third rate team and make everybody think we’re still in it? It’s something, I guess. The good news is the Red Sox aren’t that good either. And the Rays, by some miraculous scheduling quirk, had played 11 more home games than road games before tonight. So I’d like to see them keep up their magic carpet ride going on the road before I become a believer.
So two more against the Pirates. Then, the pain. Good luck, boys. You’ll need it.
“Just bring me back a win, dude,” was my text to Cousin Nicky and his crew squatting in section 24 this afternoon. “I’m trying,” was his reply.
Simple. You need to win. And the Yanks are getting it done. What have we learned in the last week? Well, it’s tough to say. The Yankees are playing patsies right now. Let’s call a spade a spade. They did take two of three from the A’s in Oakland, admittedly, but other than that, tomato cans. So we take it all with a grain of salt. But they are doing the things you need to do. You pitch, you hit, you move runners over, you hit sac flies; all that stuff. That’s what winning teams do. So let’s just say that the Yankees are practicing all of that stuff against the weak.
Seven wins in a row. Seven games over .500. And here’s one that people might find interesting. The Yanks are second in the American League Wild Card race right now, behind, even more interestingly, the Rays. It’s like an annual event. This is the time of year that they wake up. Luckily for the Yanks, things aren’t as egregious as last year, as they haven’t been as bad, and the Red Sox haven’t been completely otherworldly, like they were last year. The Yanks were down double-digit games in June last year. Tough to come back from that.
So I have a question. Why is it taboo to say that the Rays aren’t for real? Or any fly-by-night team that comes out of the gate strong, for that matter. We’ve seen this a thousand times. We saw this from Baltimore a few years ago; we saw it with the Royals a few years ago, and even this year for a few weeks. It happens a lot. You get a team that just hums in the first few weeks of the season – they play a weak schedule, they play a lot of games at home and they throw up a winning record. And I’m not asking everyone to agree, I am asking someone to agree. It’s like all of the talking heads are afraid to say that there’s a possibility that the Rays aren’t going to be in it until the end. It’s like they’re afraid of being looked at as mean or something. How many times over the last few years have I had to listen to everybody on Baseball Tonight and beyond telling me why the (insert short-term upstart) are for real. The management is a team of whizzes, the young players are all the next Willie Mays and the veterans are all a perfect blend of skill, guile, and experience. Then they sort of chuckle at all of the people that are writing the (insert short-term upstart) off. How silly those people are… Right. Guys, I’m not saying the Rays aren’t much improved. But let’s be serious. The Rays have played very well at home. They’ve only played 32 games on the road so far this year (out of 72 games total), and have only won 14 of those road games. Now I’ve been talking about the Red Sox futility on the road this year (they’re also 4 games under .500 on the road), but as Acc keeps telling me, that’s not going to last. I do think that the Red Sox will turn right side up on the road. I don’t know that the Rays will. I need to see them be more consistent before I start getting excited. Or worried. It’s not like we haven’t seen this group before. They have some interesting young players, and some better pitching, but we know all about Cliff Floyd and Troy Percival and Eric Hinske and Johnny Gomes. We know all of these guys. They’re old, they’re injury prone, and they’ve moved around a whole lot. So maybe they are significantly better, but I still think they’re going to fall down in the stretch.
I came down as neutral when the Joba-to-the-rotation stuff came up. Then the more I thought about it the more I didn’t like it. Especially after watching the Yankees lose a few games in which a clamp-down 8th might have turned things around. But after watching his last few starts, I might be leaning the other way. His last two starts have been pretty good.
Triple J, I owe you one. We scored one comment on the BPS at 11:39pm. Now that’s what I call 11th hour.
No reason the Yanks can’t keep playing well, with the Reds and the Pirates coming up next. The Mets, as crazy as they’ve been the last few weeks, will probably be a 2-2 split. So it would pay to make hay against the Reds and Bucs…
I’m sitting here in the eighth inning of the Yankee game, and frankly, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to laugh or cry. You felt good about the game. The Yankees took a three run lead right off the bat. By the second inning, they had drained Peavy dry and looked like they were well on their way. Then, just when you got comfortable, the Padres came back to within one. Then the Yankees answered right away with one more, and it was a two-run lead for a while. Then they scored a fifth run to take a three run lead. “Nice,” I said out loud to the missus, who was sitting next to me on the couch with the boy sleeping on her lap. “Now they would need four unanswered to beat us.” Like that what was she was thinking about. I’m sure that, as usual, she was enthralled by my knack for conversation. But that third run up was a big one. That’s when you figured this game was in the bag. Edwar Ramirez was humming in the seventh inning with two outs, nobody on, and two strikes on Brian Giles. Then a funny thing happened. The Padres, who don’t score runs in bunches, and really just don’t score runs at all, hit two quick bombs. And there we were again. Just a one run lead. Now I wasn’t really sure how to feel about the game. I was surprised, really. I was positive this was going to be a win. But once again, the Yankees answered right back. Two more runs to take back their three run lead. Feeling better. My first instinct was right. And then came Farnsworth. And another bomb. Again, am I supposed to be concerned? I’m really not sure. Why are the Padres hanging around? They only have six hits, but three are bombs and one is a two run double. They’re not hitting a lot, but they’re making them count. So then the Yankees come up and answer again. Again they had a three run lead. I just have a hard time believing that they’re supposed to lose this game. So now Mo is on the hill for the ninth. And again the Padres are threatening. A leadoff double. But it didn’t matter. Mo closed it down. Cue Francis Albert…
This is the first time all year the Yankees have won three straight series’. It should be four, because the Royals played out of their minds for four days in the Bronx. But you get it. The Yankees have hit their stride. Michael Kay talked tonight about the thumping they got in Baltimore to go 20-25. Apparently Joe Girardi made a comment that night that he felt that that was rock bottom. That’s pretty good instincts, I would say. Although when you consider that Allie came back that night, I guess you knew they were going to get a significant shot of offense. Looking back, we said on the BPS that it just seemed like they were always one big base hit short of winning every game. So there was the guy to do it. And Posada gave you another boost. It really is funny. For a team that has had so many offensive failures this year, they have three guys, Johnny Damon, the Ferocious Lion, and Allie Rodriguez, who are in the top six in batting average in the league, with Allie and Damon one and two. Amazing, considering this team would seemingly go weeks without scoring runs at the beginning of the year.
Speaking of the Ferocious Lion, you have to be a little concerned that the Lion is sitting out games with a bum knee. Apparently he is going to see Dr. Hershon tomorrow. That doesn’t sound good at all. If his knee starts balking, that’s going to put a major pinch in the Yankee lineup, especially against the good teams.
Darrel Rasner finally got some run support. And he’s got the right approach. Throw strikes, dude. Throw strikes. Let them hit it. It’s okay if they score a few runs. The Yankee offense will get enough runs to keep themselves in the game. This is what Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes need to learn.
So the New York media has been crushing the New York Mets organization for the last two days. I think the Wilpons and company are probably a bit surprised that the firestorm has been so violent. I feel for Willie, because, if nothing else, I would have liked to see him at Yankee Stadium for the All-Star game. It was extremely strange, clipping him after the first game on the West Coast. Poorly handled, without a doubt. But the truth is, when you preside over a collapse like he did last year, the rope is going to be short. Hopefully they can find a spot for him in pinstripes.
So we turned over the record in section 24 last night. We’re back over .500 for the year. Good night last night. Sean, me, and Vino. Tony Sherry bailed because he’s soft. I got back a bit late, so I missed you guys on the BPS.
Tomorrow afternoon to close things out. Six wins in a row, six games over .500, and closing in on the league leaders in the AL. They’re playing with house money having already won the first two games, but I still wouldn’t mind seeing a sweep. Sweep. Nice ring to it….
“Whoa. Now that’s what I’m talking about.” There it was. Yankees 11, Houston 0.” I was genuinely surprised. It was the annual Father’s Day get-together for the missus’ family at my in-laws’ house on Sunday afternoon. I was in the screen house with Cousin Anthony and little Andrew, and I had just flipped over to the Yankees from the Mets, who were in the middle of a furious comeback that would eventually fall short. So the Yanks finally did it. Finally. They came out and smashed the game home right out of the box. A nice, easy day watching the ballgame. See how easy that is? What took you guys so long? The TV was quickly turned back to the Mets.
Is this it? Is this the winning streak I was looking for? Four games out of first in the loss column. The only team in the AL East with a winning record on the road. Legitimate offensive threats up and down the lineup. This is what I signed up for. Next thing you know even Cano is going to start hitting. Now we’ve just to worry about the pitching.
So our boy Wang is out until September. At least. And Phil Hughes is out until August. Ian Kennedy should be out until he’s ready to be a major league pitcher. So where does that leave these guys? The big talk is C.C. Sabathia. Probably the right move, in my opinion. Even with Wang healthy, I don’t think many Yankee fans were convinced that he was a legitimate number one starter. I like Wang, and he gets his wins, but he’s not exactly a shut-down guy as a number one. Sabathia gives you that.
So George Will wrote a column today about the looming use of replay in MLB. Lamenting it, in fact. George Will is a great baseball fan and a great writer. But I have to say, his arguments were terrible. He meekly offered that the replays would take too much time and lengthen the game, but that wasn’t his key theme; more of an afterthought, actually. Sure it would take too long. But that’s a short-term problem. As I wrote a few weeks ago, you don’t need replay. There is technology that could be employed that uses lasers, algorithms, and Ito Calculus that could pinpoint base runners who are safe and out, home runs, whether or not a swing was checked, and just about every other judgment call. The balls and strikes are already called via Ques-Tec. And it’s accurate to something like 99.999%. His real theme was that the fallibility of the umpires adds to the drama of the game. “Human error is not a blemish to be expunged from sports, it is part of the drama,” he wrote. That’s a bit of a cleverly worded copout, in my opinion. I don’t think anyone would disagree with the sentiment as written, because he’s right. When you’re talking about the players, that is. Not when you’re talking about the umpires. Umpires blowing calls does not add to the drama in any charming kind of way. If it did, it would be celebrated by the league, fans, and media alike. But it never is. In fact, it is dutifully swept under the rug by all. The league censors its internet highlight packages to eliminate huge, game-changing plays in a game if it turns out that the call was blown by the ump. Plays that would ordinarily have been front-and-center on the highlight package. Coaches, players and the media line up to insist that a huge blown call was not why a given team lost. You’re seeing it right now in the NBA. Does anyone believe that referee interaction hasn’t effectively turned any playoff games in the last ten years? And no one is celebrating the wonderful drama of it all. They’re aggravated. And rightfully so. The credibility of the game is very much in doubt. William Rhoden, writing in the New York Times last week, said it best. To paraphrase, he said that it’s not that there is any kind of conspiracy to “fix” an outcome. It can be a simple as the ref/ump, etc. internalizing what outcome he thinks will please his boss. And David Stern makes no secret of his desire to get the sexy teams into the Finals every year. Anyone notice it’s never teams like Sacramento getting a million calls to beat the Lakers? We’ve talked about this before. In one round of the NBA playoffs this year the home teams were something like 21-1. Anyone besides me think that’s indicative of a problem? All of the debate has always assumed that the officials were always trying to make the right call, but would occasionally miss it. What this episode from the NBA reminds us is that there is more to being human than just occasionally, and innocently, missing a call. Sometimes officials fall victim to human nature. We’ve talked about umpires who are afraid to “affect an outcome.” Yesterday’s second Mets game was a great example. The bases were loaded and Luis Castillo was up with two outs in the sixth inning. The score was 4-2 Mets. Still very much in doubt. After getting ahead 3-0, Castillo looked at a strike. Then Kasan Gabbard threw one way off the plate. Should have been ball four a hundred different ways. Home plate umpire Bob Davidson (we’ve heard his name before on the BPS) called it a strike. Now I can’t get in his head, but it all the world looked – again – like he gave him a strike so that he could give the pitcher/hitter one more chance to put the ball in play and avoid having to make a call that would directly affect the game. And sadly, it worked. The next pitch came in and Castillo grounded out weakly to end the inning. Davidson was content that he had nothing to do with it. The pitch came in, it was hit into play, and that was that. The truth was that he completely b*stardized that at-bat by not accurately calling the fifth pitch a ball. The bases were loaded. That should have been a run. The Mets could have breathed a little easier. And just for good measure, the MLB.com gamecast shows that the sixth pitch was hit into play, but it only shows five of the colored dots (green for a ball, red for a strike) around the strike zone. Hmmm. The point is – this “adds to the drama” stuff is garbage. And as you read through the piece, you got the feeling his real lament was that old song; he just didn’t want to see the game he knows change. Fair enough. But George is a big boy. His points are weak.&n
Hank Steinbrenner came out with a statement admonishing the National League for having no DH after Wang’s MRI. Seriously, do you laugh or cry? Weird a statement as it was, the purists/NL-types are all falling all over themselves to say how outrageous and idiotic a statement it is. Relax, guys. Relax.
I’ll be in section 24 with the boys tomorrow (Tuesday) night. Anxious to bring back another win….
“Can I interest you guys in the dessert menu?” Was this waiter kidding me? What did we look like, a bunch of amateurs? Come on. The missus and I were out at Da Noi on Staten Island tonight with the Tony Sherry’s. Tony said something about Da Noi being cited as one of the “1000 best Italian restaurants.” I got the idea that this was in the U.S., but that wasn’t clear. It could have been in the world, although that seems unlikely given that there are probably one or two in Italy that aren’t too bad. It may very well also be in New York City, as being in the top 1000 here might not necessarily put you in the top half. In any case, we put on a show. We started with appetizers for the table. We went with a couple of basics, Caesar salad and baked clams, and then we stepped up as a table for the rigatoni with sausage in a cream sauce. It’s got a unique taste. A bit of nutmeg, actually. Then we moved onto the main course. Tony and I both went with the veal stuffed with fontina cheese in a mushroom cream sauce. The girls went with the Veal Milanese. It’s breaded, fried cutlets, covered also with fontina cheese and topped with chopped tomatoes instead of the usual salad. They also serve an interesting signature side dish for the table with the entrees. It’s a plate of steamed broccoli done with garlic, along with miniature fried Grand Marnier custard balls, which also have a trace of garlic on the outside. I’m never quite sure if that’s by design, or if it just picks up the garlic on the plate. Either way, the salty/sweet effect works. Dessert was strawberries in custard, ricotta cheesecake, and lemon sorbet. Dude….. Legit…..
The missus called Big Joe (father-in-law) on the way home, and he mentioned the Mets lost, but he didn’t mention the Yankees. Not a good sign. If they are winning, he’ll usually mention it. I wasn’t too worried, though, as he seemed pretty wrapped up in the Celtics/Lakers.
When I finally flipped the game on, it was 4-1 Yanks. What a relief. I didn’t really know the particulars. Before long, as I watched in the seventh, I learned that the birthday boy, the Ferocious Lion, came up clutch with the grand salami long ball. A clutch hit. A kill shot. Before that they again stranded runners in scoring position in multiple opportunities. Like I’ve been saying, it had to happen sometime. But you can look at it two ways. The first is that you’ll take runs any way you can get them. Who cares how they come. The other is that they still failed far more than they succeeded tonight. They got all of their runs on one swing. They still didn’t put this game away until the sixth, and even then, they didn’t exactly turn it into a laugher, by any means. They got an infield hit, two walks, and one big swing. Luckily, we got a great pitching performance from Pettitte. And Mo.
This team is still due. There’s not a lot else I can say. Such a phenomenal team of hitters not scoring nearly enough runs and not blowing anybody out; it’s got to change. Hopefully these guys can burn through some of these National League cities and make some hay. There is no real reason not to. You might as well start a run now. They really need to start coming out bashing, putting a few games away early. Mo Rivera has now pitched pretty much every day for the last three years, so it would be nice for some of these guys to come in for mop-up duty. It would also make for a lot less indigestion for those of us watching these games.
Well, I’m not going to complain. I’ll take the win. Winning a playoff series on the road is an accomplishment, regardless of who and where. The fact that it’s the A’s makes it a bigger accomplishment, because those guys can play.
A winning streak, anybody? Anybody?
Maybe I’m making too much of this. Maybe I’m blowing it all far out of proportion. But I really think it’s getting clearer. Here we are in the bottom of the 3rd inning. The Yankees are losing. They were winning 1-0 in the top of the third, and they had first and third with one out. My mind went right back to what we were discussing yesterday. Not only did I know the run wasn’t going to score, but I was already picturing the momentum swing that was going to occur when they didn’t score. I was just waiting for it to happen. And – shocking- two strikeouts later, I knew we were in for it. And the momentum immediately swung the other way. Giambi throws an easy underhand toss over the head of Rasner covering, and five consecutive base hits later, the game is over, and I might as well go to bed. It’s currently 4-1 A’s, and there’s still only one out. The big hit was with first and third and one out. The exact same situation the Yankees had in the top of the inning. But they got a double off the bat of light-hitting Bobby Crosby where the Yankees had gotten yet another whiff, this time from Bobby Abreu. [Make that six consecutive hits. Now it's 6-1. Someone named Carlos Gonzales]. I was thinking as Abreu came up with men on first and third that it was yet another opportunity for the kill shot. A bomb would have meant 4-0 and the entire game would have changed. Even a double would have meant 3-0 with Allie coming up with a runner on second and one out. Kill shot. Whiff. Just like last night. And the night before that. Then Allie Rodriguez, arguably the best hitter of his generation. Again, a double, triple, or bomb gives you either a 3-0 or 4-0 lead. Whiff. This team can not apply the kill shot. Every run is a struggle. Every game they win goes down to the last out.
The part of this that we haven’t really touched on before tonight is the momentum. When you strand a runner at third with less than two out, the other team skips just a little bit faster into the dugout. Then they come out invigorated, feeling like they’ve got new life. And with the bad teams, they feel like they’re in it. They got a break, and now they have a chance. And the Yankees are on the other end. They blow an opportunity to take command, and then it’s ‘here we go again.’ Tonight is a brilliant example of that. The A’s come out and throw up six consecutive base hits. Six consecutive base hits! Have the Yankees ever had six consecutive base hits? You have to love it. [The A's are now up 7-1.] The Yankees lineup is so far superior to the A’s lineup that there is really no kind of comparison you can make. So why is it that the A’s have done tonight what the Yankees have literally not done one single time this season – take a six run lead by the fourth inning. Why does it seem so easy? One of these days I’ll figure it out. But for now I’m still bewildered. The Yankees led the major leagues in pretty much every offensive category last year. They are great hitters. But this year they simply have not been able to string it all together to open up a game and end it early. Not even once. The Yankees have conceded this game. It’s in their demeanor, it’s written on their faces, and it’s obvious to everyone in both dugouts and in the stands. This is what the Yankees should be doing to teams. They have the kind of offense to put teams away early. They never do it. The Yankees should be making teams mope around the field by the 4th inning, the way the A’s are making them mope tonight.
In one sense you can say that this is serendipity for an A’s team that hit into four double plays last night, failing every time they had an opportunity to tie the game or take the lead. They had some of these clutch hits in their credit bank. And that’s cool. I have no issue with that. But when is it the Yankees’ turn to start getting what’s due to them? The Yankees have failed in every imaginable way to score runs in bunches. What’s due them? Are they going to eventually pull off 200 hits in a row?
The way the Yankees operate in Oakland, they will finish out this *ss-kicking tonight, then they’ll lose a heartbreaker tomorrow. I hate to say it, but that’s absolutely been their m.o. in Oakland over the past few years – lose two out of three, one being a gut-punch.
“Absolutely everything going right for Oakland in this game,” Kenny Singleton just said.
Well, I guess I can’t complain. We should have seen this coming, right? They won yesterday to go a game over .500. So I guess we were due to come back down to .500. How silly of me…..
Yesterday was another 96-degree day in New York City, so I took the express bus from Manhattan directly to Staten Island after work to go splash around in Big Joe’s (father-in-law) pool. As we were trying to keep cool, we talked about both New York baseball teams. We were both disgusted. He figured if you put both teams together, you’d have one killer team. We talked about what the lineup would look like. This was what I came up with. Tried to go lefty /righty. See if you agree.
Jose Reyes SS
Derek Jeter 1B
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
David Wright 2B
Carlos Beltran CF
Hideki Matsui LF
Jorge Posada C
Johnny Damon LF
Johan Santana P
So I’m sitting here at 12:15am, texting with Acc and watching the Yankees winning a 2-1 game in the top of the 8th inning in Oakland. The Yankees just squirmed out of yet another jam, this time bases loaded with one out. The A’s have hit into four double plays. The Yankees know what that’s about.
The story of the night is the same story that we have seen the whole season. The Yankees can’t capitalize. Can’t deliver the kill shot. They have six walks and six hits. Twelve base runners. And just two runs. Again and again and again we’ve seen this. It’s quite remarkable, actually. When the Yankees put a runner on third with less than two out, it almost doesn’t even cross your mind that the Yankees will knock him in. You find yourself lamenting the fact that they didn’t score whenever it was that they got the guy to third. It’s sad.
[Right now is a great example of what I'm talking about. Bobby Abreu led off the 8th with a base hit. Allie can deliver the kill shot with a bomb. He doesn't. Then Giambi gets hit by a pitch. Now there are two on with Posada up. A double by any of the next few guys would be the kill shot. And Posada's ahead in the count, 2-1. Perfect. A would-be kill shot went just foul past third. Story of the season. They just can't find it. Whiff. Betemit next. Again. This is a team that spent the weekend getting 21 runs and a ton of hits. But they could never deliver the death blow. John Flaherty at this very moment is saying that the Yankees are looking for that one big swing to put the game away. "They've been looking for it all night," he says again. Whiff.]
The Yankees have had some truly gut-wrenching losses in this stadium over the last few years. I don’t feel the slightest bit good about this.
So why the futility? Why can’t the Yankees put any of these games away? Is it just a freak anomaly? Do they freeze up? I’m not inclined to believe that, because these are all veteran guys who have a track record of succeeding in all kinds of situations. Are people not healthy? I don’t get it.
Sometimes you get a certain feeling about a team or a season, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. And then you run across a stat that helps you clarify it. Aside from the Seattle games, the Yankees have won just one game in which they took a greater-than-three run lead into the 7th inning. No laughers. Every game has been a grind. Nothing easy. That makes sense. When you think about it, you realize that the Yankees never win any easy games. Funny… What a polar opposite from last year, when at the time of the all-star break, they had won just six games by less than three runs. It kills your bullpen and I would have to imagine it wears you down.
[So now we're in the top of the 9th. I would offer that any bomb the Yankees would hit now is a kill shot, as it would be a two-run lead for Mo. As I typed that last word Melky hit a bomb. Let's see if it holds up or if I'm as clueless as I think I am.]
Robinson Cano is so lost right now. If anyone doesn’t have the book on him, here it is. Start him off with a pitch off the plate. Make sure it’s not a strike. He always swings at the first pitch, so you’ve got him 0-1. Now just look for a second strike. Somehow. Then when you’ve got him at two strikes, keep throwing pitches well off the plate. Even if he has a three-ball count, he will never take the walk, and he’ll swing at every single pitch. Wait for him to foul off a bunch of pitches. He’ll eventually strike himself out. Repeat.
Bottom nine coming up. Yanks up 3-1. I would love not to be devastated tonight. Love it. Mo again. Game over. Yankees win.
“You know what kills me about this, dude, is that they wasted, I mean completely wasted, two unbelievable pitching performances from Rasner and Moose.” It was late this afternoon, and Acc and I were on the phone, both tracking the game on the gamecast. Melky had just grounded out to end the game.
Acc was right, of course. But this series had me beguiled in many different ways. There were lots of things I couldn’t get my arms around. I remember writing a post a few years ago when the Devil Rays were cellar dwellers but the Yankees couldn’t buy a win against them. This might be wildly overstated, but I think at one point the Yankees had lost 9 of 12 games against the Rays that year. I remember blaming Lou Piniella, who managed the team at the time. How is it that his team plays hard, tough, and smart against the Yankees, I asked, but lays down against everybody else in the entire league? The point was that the Rays that year were all over the field against the Yankees. They were making circus catches everywhere on the field, they were clutch, scoring something like 2/3 of their runs in one particular series with 2 outs and 2 strikes, and they got once-in-a-career performances from their starting pitchers, who walked almost no one.
Well……this was that. But worse. Because it was home. The result wasn’t as bad, as I think we lost three of four to the Rays at the time, but this was a killer, coming at home on the heels of an uplifting series win against the Blue Jays.
I was trying to figure this series out, and here’s what I came up with. I’m loathe to use the “perfect storm” cliché, as it’s getting a bit tired, but there was a lot that had to happen for this series to go the way it did. I mean, in the end, the Yankees were lucky to get even the split. They only led for 4 and ½ innings in the entire series. And they needed a miracle to pull out one of their wins and come from behind in the other, with the outcome of that one in doubt until the eighth inning. None of those things made sense. The Royals aren’t good. They find ways to beat themselves. They had lost 11 straight on the road coming in. They’re young and haven’t played smart or with any maturity, which prompted Jose Guillen to go on a tirade a few weeks back. So how did this happen?
1) The Royals played a flawless series. Not only did they make every single play in the field, but they made some stunning circus plays to save runs and games. They only made one error the entire series, and it didn’t cost them a run.
2) The Yankees, yet again, consistently failed in the clutch. Yes, they had some clutch hits in their comeback wins on Saturday and Sunday, but even those two games should not have been nearly that close. Especially not when you’re playing the Royals. The Yankees had opportunity after opportunity to deliver a kill shot in every one of the four games. Situations in which a well-timed double, for instance, would have effectively put the game out of reach. They got that kill shot exactly once, and that was Allie’s eighth inning double on Sunday. Once. In four games.
3) Jose Guillen played the best four game series of his career. And I don’t know a lot about his career. Nor do I have to. He was 9-16 with four bombs, three of which gave his team the lead, scored the go-ahead runs in each of the two games his team won, and gunned two guys out on the base paths, one at home.
4) The Yankee starters and Royals starters were equally good (and bad) in every single game. Not good for the Yanks, who would probably would like to think their starters are actually good.
5) The umpires blew two very bad calls this series. Both went against the Yanks, both were in the eighth inning of one-run games, both were with multiple men on base, and both were devastating to the momentum of the team, as the Yankees lost both of those games. And both, by the way, were by Ed Montague. Sorry guys, I know griping is tasteless, but these were obvious and they were crushing. On Friday night, Montague called a strike on a clear check swing by Giambi. It was, as Michael Kay said, the worst call on a check swing you’ll ever see. And it was with a full count with runners on first and second with two outs in a one-run game. Yeah. Ouch. To me, David Cone’s analysis was dead on. Royals’ catcher John Buck played Montague for a sucker and duped him into the call. The check swing truly wasn’t close, and the ball was in the dirt. John Buck sprang up, ran to get the ball that had kicked a few feet away from him, tagged Giambi, pumped his fist, and started running for the dugout, all without looking at the ump, as if the call was so easy to make that he didn’t even have to look. Montague didn’t make a call for a second, and then made an extremely nonchalant strikeout motion with his hand, following Buck’s lead that it was something of an obvious call. Giambi flipped, as well he should. It should have been bases loaded. Instead it was inning over. The other play was Melky’s bunt today. An out call from Montague clearly should have been safe, and what should have been first and second and none out, a clear bunting situation for Johnny Damon, became runner on second with one out. Again down a run. Huge.
6) The Royals got a key hit every single time they needed one. And Mo gave up two bombs in three days at home. Never happens. Certainly not against the Royals.
7) The Royals avoided getting down early, in the series and in every game. This game them the confidence to believe they could win.
So that’s it. I think the Royals just put it all together at the right time. And the Yankees were somewhat snake bit. But you can see the difference in the team with Allie and Posada in the lineup. The fact that they are not winning any blowout games is very odd, and I think that will change. Every game has been a struggle. Usually you get a laugher here and there. You want a crazy stat? Not counting the Seattle games, the Yankees have played just one game all season in which they took greater than a three run lead into the seventh inning. That’s a great way to burn your bullpen to a pile of ashes. So what becomes of the Yanks now? No idea. Oakland for three (they usually will lose two of those), and then the NL for the rest of the month. I have no more predictions….