Monday, August 31, 2009

The Best There Ever Was!

Mariano Rivera hasn't had a lot of chances to pitch recently. The Yankees have been winning their games by large scores. Today, Brian Bruney walked a guy and gave up a hit in the ninth inning, so Mariano got in and got us the last two outs.

Simple. Not one of his bigger, pressure-packed saves. Baltimore isn't Boston, for sure. But I just got to thinking as I watched him mow down two hitters:


I know that "closer" is a relatively new position in baseball, but he has no peer. Sure, Trevor Hoffman has more saves than Mariano (though that may change before Mo retires), but he has not played under New York pressure.

Ask 100 baseball experts who they would want on the mound if they needed 3 outs to win the Series. The Sandman would get 75 votes.

No one has ever walked to the mound in big games and produced like Mariano Rivera.

And while I'm at it, Andy Pettitte was amazing tonight. If Hairston snags the ground ball in the seventh, Andy goes into the eighth with a perfect game. Who knows what would have happened?

I followed the stats on ESPN Gameday. Andy was blowing 86 mile an hour fastballs by hitters. That is not a misprint. I'm not sure he topped 90 all day. High school pitchers throw harder and Baltimore was baffled.

Now, the good guys have a 6.5 game lead one game into another road trip, this one to Baltimore and Toronto. Boston heads out to Tampa and Chicago. Hopefully, their road woes will continue and the Yanks can hold or even increase their lead.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sergio Mitre: 2009 Cy Young?

Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin combined to shut out the White Sox - who played a genuinely awful game. Yankees hit the ball hard for a 10-0 win.

Sergio Mitre? Chad Gaudin?

Baseball is a weird game. Mitre has been awful, and then he shows up today and looks like Nolan Ryan.

Who are the Fools at Fox Sports?

I am SO frustrated. The local Fox affiliate is showing the New York-Chicago game today. The NEW YORK METS against the CHICAGO CUBS! These are two great teams having great years, right?

Why not show the Yankees game? Because the local Fox Sports people are stupid. When there are Yankees/Boston games available, they will show us some meaningless game with the Twins and Kansas City, or something useless like that.

It is because of the stupidity of Fox Sports that I have to pay for MLB.TV to see Yankees games.

Cano, Don'tcha Know!

The Pinstripes got another walk-off win last night, after CC squandered a dominating pitching performance with a hiccup in the seventh. Yanks couldn't get much going against Buehrle, or it wouldn't have mattered. So, the game went into 10th and Cano got a pie in the face, compliments of AJ Burnett.

Its been a frustrating week for the good guys. We lost two of three to Texas, and the two losses just seemed like games we should have won.

On Tuesday, we were down 10-5 going into the bottom of the ninth, after a bad start by Joba that made the Yankees revise their "Joba Rules" again. A few hitters later, the Yankees were down 10-9 with runners on 1st and 2nd and NO ONE OUT. Looked like we were going to have a dramatic win. That was before Nick Swisher popped trying to bunt. Pathetic. Then, Melky hit a hard liner to shortstop and doubled off Hairston at second. The-e-e-e Yankees lose.

Pettitte was on his game on Wednesday.

Burnett was firing blanks on Thursday. I thought for a couple of innings that he was gonna throw a no-hitter or something. He was unbelievable. The Yankees were cruising with a 2-0 lead when AJ walked a couple of guys and Kinsler got a fastball down the middle. No hitter gone. Lead gone. Game gone. Yanks never got anything going against the Rangers.

The only upside of all this is that there is still an outside chance that the Rangers could overtake Boston and eliminate them from the playoffs. I am a little afraid of the baseball Boston is playing right now. Sure, we have beaten them 6 of 7, but in a short series, anything could happen.

Last night, CC looked great for six innings, then got lucky in the seventh. He gave us a double, a walk and another double. That made it 2-1 with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no one out. A-rod made a nice play on a ground ball, throwing a guy out at home. After another out, A-rod made another great play, snagging a ground ball down the line and preventing a double. That meant that the bases were loaded. Next guy singled to right and Yankees threw the second runner out at the plate. Two of the three outs in the inning were guys thrown out at the plate. How often do you see that?

Had A-rod not made two nice plays and had we not gotten the final out at home, that could have ended up being CC's first loss in August since the Hoover administration. No decision, but a great Yankee win in the 10th on a Cano home run.

Boston has won 4 of 5 (at home, of course) to narrow the lead to 6 games. That is why that Sunday win by CC at Boston was so big. If that game goes the wrong way, the Yankees might now have only a 4 game lead and things would be way too interesting.

Today will be an adventure. We have Mitre (or Gaudin?) going. Probably will need the bats today. Most likely an 11-8 win. Just hope we have the 11.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Sweet It Is!

This was the biggest game of the season for the Yankees. Had we lost, the Red Sox would only be 5 games out in the loss column and they would have momentum. But we took 2 out of 3, have a 7.5 game lead and are looking pretty good to win the AL East.

CC Sabathia is worth every penny the Yankees paid him. He was a MAN tonight. He may not have had his best stuff, but he battled and got big outs. Watch the Yankees over the next month to limit his work. He threw 118 pitches tonight, but since we won and now have the cushion, I'll best he doesn't pitch over a 100 pitch limit much the rest of the way. Last year, he was throwing big games on short rest as the season came to an end, and he got shelled in the playoffs. Yanks will want him to be fresh and will limit his innings, just as they are doing with Joba.

Beating Josh Beckett always feels good. Five home runs against Beckett is a big deal.

I think one of the big things that happened this weekend is A-rod's hitting. Some big hits on Friday - in fact, a couple of home runs in most parks. Then, tonight, after the Evils got a run on a terrible play by Cano to get back to 5-3, A-rod went deep for a 7-3 lead. We need A-rod hitting. This weekend, he didn't just hit, he got BIG hits.

It's weird with A-rod. He's having his worst season as a Yankee, and yet I think he is being accepted more this year than in previous years. First of all, fans can see that he is working hard with an injury that is slowing him down. The hip injury is hurting him, but he keeps playing through it. Plus, the Yankees are just plain having fun - and you can see it with A-rod. I think he is more human this year. Anyway, he will likely finish with the worst stats since he was a rookie, certainly his worst as a Yankee. Yet, somehow, he seems more like "one of us" this year.
Of course, if he bats .135 in the playoffs, all bets are off.

Dennis Gallagher told me tonight at church that I am a pessimist. He's right. But somehow, I just had this feeling that this game tonight really mattered. With the Yankees and the Red Sox, mindset matters. Early in the season, the Evils were feeling it. Recently, the Good Guys have had the edge. Even though we would have still had a big lead, I was afraid that if we lost tonight, especially if we got shelled again, the momentum could shift back to the dark side.

I have one question for Terry Francona, who coaches the Sox. Why on earth did David Ortiz sit out? Sure, Sabathia is tough, but Ortiz has been knocking the cover off the ball for the last couple of weeks. Is he tired? Hurt? He has hit lefties in the past. How does Francona keep him on the bench?

Stupid Terry. Good for the good guys.

Phil Hughes looked great. Mariano was on. He seems to have righted the ship. The rest he has gotten recently has been good for him. He walked the first guy he faced, but then he shut them down pretty hard.

Its a good day to be a Yankee.

Now, what really matters. We need to start cheering that either Tampa Bay or Texas gets hot and that the Sox go back into a funk. Honestly, this could be a tough team in the playoffs. Better that they don't even get there. Go Rays. Go Texas (except this week in New York).

And, just for fun, let's note that Smoltz looked really good in San Diego today. After the Yankees bombed him, the Sox released him and he went to St. Louis. I just think its funny that he goes to St. Louis and gets the win. Priceless.

So, now its back to Yankee stadium. Good to be home. But the 10 game road trip was all we could hope for. Seven wins in ten games. Two of three against the Evils. I was concerned when we started the trip that we could lose ground to the Sox, perhaps a lot of ground. But actually, over the trip, we gained a game. We came in up 6.5 and left up 7.5. I know Oakland and Seattle are hardly the most fearsome teams in baseball, but we have not done well on the West coast and in Boston. We went to three troublesome places and got 7 wins.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Ugly? Beating Boston is ALWAYS Pretty!

The Yankees beat Boston 20-11. Its always fun when the good guys win big and evil is defeated. But it was far from a pretty game.

Yankees pitchers did not exactly shine tonight. Andy Pettitte was rolling until the long break during the top half of the fifth (we scored 6 runs) and he just couldn't get it going after that. Frankly, the Yankees owed him one like this. He has had a couple of no-decisions when he pitched very well recently and a walk-over like this is a little justice. Brian Bruney and Sergio Mitre had a little problem with control and gave up some runs. Its hard to judge them too harshly. When you come in the game up 11 runs, its probably hard to get into it.

The bright note on the pitching staff was Damaso Marte, back off a long pull on the DL. He looked really good in his inning of relief.

The Bombers were back tonight. After the second inning, the game was never really in doubt. You might point out that Boston got 11 runs, but we did not exactly put our best bullpen foot forward in the later innings. Would they have gotten these runs against our best? Who knows?

I am scared of the Red Sox. They are starting to hit the ball (Ortiz must be back on the steroids). If they get Matsuzaka and Wakefield back, they could be dangerous in the playoffs.

We are now 6-2 on the road trip. If we win one of the next two, I think it is pretty safe to say the AL East pennant is going back where it belongs. Tomorrow is our best shot. We have Burnett going against that new Japanese pitcher (Kazawa?). Sunday should be a barn-burner. CC Sabbathia against Josh Beckett, a great matchup on the hill.

All is well with the Empire right now. I just hope that the bats are gonna stay, not just appearing for one night. If only Brad Penny could pitch every day!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The-e-e-e Yankees Win

The Yankees won their second series on this road trip by beating the Oakland A's 3-2. Now, its time to head to Boston for the big series. We are 5-2 on this road trip, and we really need to win at least 1 and preferably 2 at Boston.

Its not going to be easy. Boston is hot - hitting like the old days. And the Yankees won another game looking not so good.

A-rod CANNOT hit. That's a problem. This has gone on long enough that I am beginning to wonder if his skills are on the decline. We really need him hitting.

Matsui is hurting and we need him too.

We have our three top pitchers (Pettitte, Burnett, Sabbathia) going. We just have to win one. Two wins in Boston probably puts the pennant in our hands.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Its a Miracle!!

The Yankees brought their bats!

And Oakland forgot their gloves.

We did not pay CC enough.

(We are now 4-2 on the road trip. If we win tomorrow night, we have to win once this weekend at Boston to keep a good lead. If we lose tomorrow night, we probably need 2 at Boston. A sweep - priceless!)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Looking Good!

The Yanks are heading into a little funk here. Hope they can pull out quickly. We took it on the chin last night from Seattle (still won 3 of 4) and tonight, AJ Burnett is looking pretty hittable. And frankly, the Yankees just aren't scoring runs. We've been winning with pitching, and if the pitching isn't there, we are in trouble.

Maybe things will turn around. We have come back a lot this year. But we are making BRETT TOMKO, who couldn't hardly get anyone out earlier this year when he pitched for us, look like Bob Gibson! How can we make mediocre pitchers look so good?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Who'd a Thunk It?

Texas just beat Boston for the second straight day. I was absolutely sure after they gave away the game Friday that Texas would lay down and Boston would sweep. I was joyfully wrong!

If the Yanks win (ahead 3-2 in fourth right now), they will be 8.5 games up.

Too Real

2009 Yankees: A Model for Winning Baseball

The current Yankees, on a 23-6 tear, are demonstrating pretty clearly what it takes for a team to play winning baseball.

Fact: With few exceptions, the Yankees are not hitting that well. I think I could warm my arm up and throw some past A-rod. Matsui, Swisher, Posada - none of them are hitting for high average. We have had a lot of games in which we leave a lot of runners stranded and we are not scoring runs in bunches (except in rare games).

Fact: The Yankees do not make many spectacular plays on defense. Watch ESPN Web-gems and see how often a Yankee is featured in it.

But, what we are playing is winning baseball. Here's what it takes to win:

(I know, I know - the Yankees have a huge payroll. But we had a big payroll last year and didn't win. These are things I think we are doing differently.)

1) Pitching, Pitching, Pitching. Our starters have been consistently good. Not only do we have some good pitchers, but some guys who battle when they do not have their good stuff (Pettitte on Friday night). Our relievers have been awesome. Robertson, Bruney, Aceves, Hughes, Coke (most of the time) and Mariano are shutting teams down.

2) Solid defense. We do not make spectacular plays, but we make just about every routine play. We do not give up a lot of errors. No one will ever mistake Nick Swisher for a Golden Glove outfielder (sometimes, you wonder if his glove is metal), but we are making solid plays and making teams earn their runs.

3) Timely hitting. Look at the last couple of weeks - how often have we scored in the 8th or 9th innings of close games. We haven't been knocking the cover off of it, but when we need a hit, we get a hit (usually a home run). On home stands, the pie in the face is pretty common (for a walk-off hit). If we were hitting really well, a lot of those games would be blowouts, but we are winning close games with clutch hitting.

4) Multiple options. This is what sets the Yankees apart. Many teams have four hitters better than our four best. But, imagine if you are the opposing pitcher and for the bottom of the order, you get to face Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Melky Cabrera? Look at the bottom of Boston's order (hitters around .200 to .230). Melky is not hitting that well, but he has had some key clutch hits. So has Swisher.

5) A Fun Clubhouse. I watch the Yankees a lot (surprised?). In years past, the Yankees were quiet and dignified under Torre. They were professional, but you never saw them cutting up much. But this Yankee group is having fun. Things are light. I know, winning makes things fun. But the presence of Nick Swisher and AJ Burnett (pie-in-the-face AJ) has made a lot of difference.

A-rod seems to be having fun, though he is having his worst season since he was a rookie.

There are other things, like staying healthy. But these are the big ones I see about this team.

Who Would Have Thought?

If, at the All-Star break, you had made the following true statements, you would have been ridiculed.

  • At the end of play on August 15, the Yankees will have a 7.5 game lead on the Boston Red Soxs.
  • Boston would be fading, holding a small lead over Texas for the wild card.
  • The Yankees would have a four game lead over LA Dodgers for best record in baseball.
  • The Yankees would be 23-6 out of the break.
No one would have believed any of these. I watched the men on Baseball Tonight definitively state that there was no way the Yankees would be able to catch the Red Sox. No way.

It has been a dream month for a Yankees fan.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Yankees Play Lethargic, Uninspired Baseball - And WIN!

It wasn't pretty tonight in Seattle. Pettitte didn't have his best stuff, at least early. He battled and managed to get 6 innings in and leave tied 2-2. He gave up hits to the first 3 batters, then settled down. The bats were quiet. We made Rowland-Smith look like Sandy Koufax. Bruney looked good. Hughes looked good when he wasn't walking batters. Walked two, then went to a full count to load the bases. He blew a fastball down the middle and struck the guy out.

Then, in the ninth - bingo. Teixeira starts the inning with a long home run. That was followed by a bloop double by Cano, a bloop single by Swisher just over the second baseman's glove, then another bloop by Hairston.

Mariano came in and got three quick ground balls. He is not himself right now. Yankees win 4-2.

That was big because of the stupid Texas Rangers. Down to one strike to beat the Boston Satans, they gave up a double to Martinez and then the gates opened. I suspect that Texas will fold now, go into a funk and Boston will sweep them. Hope not, but Boston is a front running team. They beat up on weak opponents like Texas. Hope Texas can get a win, but I am expecting a sweep.

That makes the Yankees win tonight a big deal. We are still up 6 1/2 after two games of the 10 game road trip.

Now, it gets interesting. Our next two starters are not exactly Sabbathia and Burnett. Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin. Wow! I am afraid the bats are going to have to engage if we are going to get these games and hold steady on the lead.

By the way: Sabbathia, Burnett and Teixeira - MONEY WELL SPENT!!

Present Concerns: injuries

Arod has elbow swelling and back problems. I think I could outrun Hideki Matsui (his knees seem to be hurting) and Mariano Rivera is obviously NOT himself (though still getting the job done - 80% of Mariano is still pretty good). We need these guys healthy and doing their stuff down the stretch.

I suspect that since we won the first two, Arod will sit another out tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Next Ten Days

The Yankees head out for a ten day road trip, starting tonight in Seattle. They have a 5.5 game lead (though Boston lost this afternoon, so technically, its 6 right now). Boston is on the road for 6 games while the Yanks play four at Seattle and three at Oakland. Then, the Yankees head to the matrix of Evil in all of America, Fenway Park, the gateway to you-know-where (no, not heaven).

The next ten days will decide if the Yankees cruise to the AL East crown or if they are going to make a race out of it after all. If we go into a funk and Boston gets close again, it could get interesting. If we keep playing well, win say 6 of 10 (including at least 2 in Boston), we probably have things in hand. If we go 2-8 or 3-7, especially if we get swept at Fenway, it could get Boston's juices flowing.

I am concerned about the Yankees right now. Our pitching has been great and we have been getting timely hitting. But we have a number of guys in a funk. Arod seems to be hurting. It seems to me that we are sitting back and waiting for the home run instead of manufacturing runs and getting two-out hits.

I guess since we just won 9 of 10 and are something like 20-6 since the break, we shouldn't be too harsh. But I see some problems that could come back to haunt us.

I Know, I Know - One more blog for Dave??????

I already get made fun of for having 4 blogs. Each has its own purpose. One is devotional. One is for SBC Issues. ONe is for family. ONe is a personal weight-loss diary.

This one has a unique purpose. I will write about the New York Yankees! I know you will enjoy!