• May 31st @ The Indians

    Posted by on May 31st, 2009 · Comments (7)

    For quite a while, it looked like the Yankees were going to lose this one because they couldn’t touch Carl Pavano. And, for a Yankees fan, that’s an ugly turn of events.

    I’m not 100% sure where that places on the “turn of ugly events” scale? It’s not as bad as taking a shower in prison, and, for a brief moment, forgetting where you are and bending over to pick up a bar of soap off the floor. And, perhaps it’s not as bad as being forced to take your one-eyebrowed cousin with bad B.O. to your high school prom. But, it’s still a major harshing of your mellow…again, if you’re a Yankees fan.

    However, thanks to Jeter, Damon, Teixeira and a gaggle of Tribe relievers, the Yankees were able to knot the score, for the moment, in the eighth inning, and take the “W” away from the American Idle.

    Too bad the Yankees could not close the deal on this one.

    I know that many are quick to blame Gardner, Robertson, Coke and/or perhaps, to an extent, Hughes for this one. But, to me, those guys are all green and should not be counted on to do the heavy lifting in a game like this one.

    I have to go back to that eighth inning – right after Teixeira got that clutch double to tie the game. After that hit, the Yankees had a runner on second (Tex) representing the tie-breaking run – with their four and five hitters due up, A-Rod and Cano, and just one out. But, the two colossuses of clutch could not get the job done against the immortal Matt Herges…and that left the game tied until the ninth when it all came crashing down.

    Once Alex and Robbie let the air out of the balloon in that spot…I just knew that this one was going to be dicey…and could go either way…especially with “Cashman’s Bullpen of Doom” at the ready. It was just a matter of time…

    May 30th @ The Indians

    Posted by on May 31st, 2009 · Comments (12)

    Including this one, over his last 5 starts, CC Sabathia has pitched exactly like the “ace” that the Yankees expected him to be when they gave him $161 million for seven years (to play in New York). And, by many, many, reports, Sabathia has been a prince in the clubhouse – a lynchpin in the reported new and improved Yankees team chemistry.

    Yet, when I watch him pitch, I still don’t see him as a “Yankee” – yet. Maybe it’s because he’s an absolute mess in the way he wears his uniform? Maybe it’s because he’s only made 10 starts for the team so far? Maybe it’s because he’s the poster child for Yankees “throw money at a problem” solution method – and it’s hard to love a high-priced mercenary? Maybe it’s a combination of all three? I dunno…

    I’m just hoping this feeling goes away soon…because I really, really, want to like the guy…and I’m not feeling it yet.

    Now, on the other hand, Jose Veras…

    …can someone please tell me why this guy is still on the big league team? He was terrible in his last 21 games for the Yankees last season and he’s still terrible this year. Hey, Cashman, three words for you on this one: “Veras Must Go!”

    May 29th @ The Indians

    Posted by on May 29th, 2009 · Comments (7)

    I was a little nervous about this one in the seventh inning. With the Yankees leaving so many on base – going 2 for 12, overall, with RISP – and the score close, it just felt like one of those games where the bullpen was going to blow it before getting the ball to Mo Rivera.

    But, not so!

    Alfredo Aceves did a really nice job bridging the gap between Andy Pettitte’s exit via back stiffness and Sandman time. (Speaking of Pettitte, let’s hope this goes away quick – because he will pitch hurt and that’s not always the best thing for him or the team.)

    The Yankees now own first place in the A.L. East (for the first time since the last day of the 2006 regular season). And, I won’t jinx them by mentioning their magic number.

    Speaking of numbers, how about those Boston Red Sox? They’ve gone 9-10 in their last 19 games, 14-13 in their last 27 games, and 15-15 in their last 30 games. If not for that 10-game winning streak that they had from April 15th through April 26th, they would be in really tough shape right now.

    Then again, you could say the same thing about the Yankees and their 9-game winning streak from May 13th to May 21st.

    Maybe the A.L. East this season will come down to the team who puts together the most winning streaks?

    May 27th @ The Rangers

    Posted by on May 27th, 2009 · Comments (9)

    If the Yankees would promise to have a game like this one…for all 162 of their contests in a season…I would swear to never get bored with the outcome…and, for sure, I would sleep well each night during the baseball season.

    Nice to see A.J. Burnett start to work things out. Even nicer to see Hideki Matsui blast two big flies. I never get tired of watching Godzilla crush a baseball. Actually, even though this one was a laughter of sorts, there were many pleasant things to see in it…sans Jose Veras, of course.

    But, most importantly, it’s a good game to win. Next, the Yankees have to play in Cleveland for four, then they have seven at home against Texas and Tampa, and then they have to head to Fenway for three and then come home for another three against the Mets. That’s not an easy 17 game run. Better to be coming off “two out of three wins” before that one – than to be coming off “four out of six losses” (which would have been the case if not for this win).

    May 26th @ The Rangers

    Posted by on May 27th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    Yanks have now lost three of their last five and it would have been four of five if not for a Brad Lidge super-meltdown. New York misses playing the Baltimore Orioles.

    Joba Chamberlain, in his own words, was terrible in this one. Alfredo Aceves was not much better.

    Let the Austin Jackson debates begin if Melky Cabrera has to go on the disabled list now…

    Oh, and, by the way, are you still loving Nick Swisher? Back in March, I said that Swisher is “more like a Brad Wilkerson or Jon Nunnally type of player. Someone who probably should be a fourth outfielder rather than a starting outfielder.” That’s starting to look more and more true. Of course, the problem is, the Yankees have no one else to play, now, in his place. Great roster management, Mr. Cashman.

    May 25th @ The Rangers

    Posted by on May 25th, 2009 · Comments (20)

    Against all odds, Phil Hughes, in this contest, pitched the best game in his major league career, according to Game Score. See below for a list of every start Hughes has made for the Yankees, to date – including today, ranked by Game Score (G Sc):

     Date	  Opp	Pit	G Sc
    05/25/09  @TEX	101	81
    05/01/07  @TEX	80	76
    04/28/09  @DET	99	72
    09/24/08  @TOR	100	70
    09/27/07  @TBD	102	68
    08/10/07  @CLE	95	65
    04/03/08   TOR	87	59
    09/11/07  @TOR	106	58
    09/05/07   SEA	97	58
    04/24/08  @CHW	23	55
    09/17/08   CHW	89	52
    05/20/09   BAL	89	51
    09/17/07   BAL	96	50
    08/26/07  @DET	97	49
    08/15/07   BAL	94	47
    08/20/07  @LAA	92	44
    09/22/07   TOR	99	43
    05/15/09   MIN	93	41
    04/26/07   TOR	91	37
    04/08/08  @KCR	87	33
    05/04/09   BOS	94	32
    08/31/07   TBD	94	31
    04/18/08  @BAL	97	29
    08/04/07   KCR	92	29
    04/29/08   DET	82	20
    04/13/08  @BOS	65	18
    05/09/09  @BAL	53	 5
    

    Interesting: The best six games of Hughes’ big league career have all come on the road. And, eight of his ten best games have been as a visiting player. Maybe Phil doesn’t like the Bronx? My theory: Lefty-batters have a BA/OBA/SLG line of .326/.406/.562 in (102 PA) against Hughes at Yankee Stadium – in his career to date. To put it simply, lefties bat like Babe Ruth against Phil in New York…

    Back to today’s success…it seems like aggressively swinging teams are no match for Hughes – if you believe that teams like the Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Rays, and Indians of recent note are aggressively swinging teams…

    Me? Dunno. I would have to look into that some more before I signed off on that one. What do you think?

    May 24th vs. The Phillies

    Posted by on May 24th, 2009 · Comments (15)

    Skipped this one. We took the kids to go watch Sparky Lyle’s Somerset Patriots host Gary Carter’s Long Island Ducks. Great day for a ballgame in Somerset today. Here’s a snapshot about 15 minutes into the game:

    [Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the picture.]

    We had fun. It was “Bat Day” – so the kids got free bats. They had an on-the-field pre-game autograph session with the players – so the kids got some autographs from the players and had their pictures taken with some too. And, at the end of the game, the kids got to go on the field and run the bases. Now…that’s a day at the ballpark. (I got to see former Yankee Dan Miceli come into the game and throw a bit for the Ducks. And, since our seats were right behind the Pats’ on-deck circle, I got to see Somerset’s Matt Hagen – who played second today, up close. He’s built like Travis Hafner and can rake. Hey, it’s the little things that make me happy…)

    Got home and found out that the Yankees wasted a fine effort from CC Sabathia today. Saw that Brian Cashman’s boy genius find Brett Tomko took the loss.

    So, this is what we know about the 2009 Yankees so far this season:

    Ability to beat the Boston Red Sox: None.
    Ability to beat the Baltimore Orioles: Plenty.
    Ability to narrowly beat the Minnesota Twins: Sure.
    Ability to beat the Philadelphia Phillies without the assistance of a Brad Lidge meltdown: Very little.

    If you ask me, the Yankees are starting to look like a team who is more than capable of beating up on the weak teams, and keep up with the good teams, but not able to beat the very good teams.

    Now, I know that some say: That’s good. Your wins against the weak teams offset the losses against the very good ones…and then you make your season if you can beat the good ones. Sure, maybe that’s a way to win more than you lose, overall…however, when you get to October, and then only play very good teams, you get bounced in the ALDS – as the Yankees have been doing since 2005. Same ol’, same ol’…no?

    Actually, I’m still willing to give it three more weeks. Let’s see where the Yankees are on June 15th – and how they do between now and then…should be interesting watching how they do in their next 20 games.

    May 23rd vs. The Phillies

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2009 · Comments (1)

    Wow.

    Things were looking prittay..prittay…bleak…for a while in this one.

    Pettitte was decent sans a couple of mistakes that went a long way. However, the Yankees offense looked like Bernie Lomax against J.A. Happ.

    By the way, how cool would it have been if A.J. Zapp had a chance to bat against J.A. Happ? (And, is it just me who gets A.J. Zapp confused with Ron Wright sometimes? Must be the “Braves 1B pick” thing? I wonder if Zapp would have been as happy as Wright to have just one game in the bigs – albeit a funky one?)

    In any event, that bottom of the ninth inning was IMPRESSIVE. All of it. Damon’s tough At Bat – working out the walk. A-Rod’s homer. Cano’s single and steal. And, of course, Melky’s winner. Very, very, impressive…

    Yes, color me impressed. Well, sorta/kinda…

    …because, for all we know, this game could have been more a matter of the fact that Brad Lidge is terrible now. Check the stats. Prior to the ninth inning today, the last 42 batters to face Lidge this season have fashioned a BA/OBA/SLG line of .351/.405/.676 – over nine games. That’s one Phugly Phillie. Just something to keep in mind…

    Tomorrow should be fun. Big CC and Hamels locking up. If the Yankees can win that one…and take two of three from the defending champs…that would say a lot more to me, about this Yankees team than the wins against the Twins and O’s. Of course, we have to wait and see…

    May 22nd vs. The Phillies

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Breaking News: The Philadelphia Phillies are not the Baltimore Orioles.

    Let’s see: J-Roll takes A.J. Burnett deep on the first pitch of the game. Next, with his second pitch of the game, Burnett hits Chase Utley. So…

    In the bottom of the first inning, Brett Myers gets a quick strike one on Derek Jeter (leading off for the Yankees). Next, with his second pitch of the game, Myers throws one behind Jeter’s back – sending the message that he, and his team, will not be pushed around…and that’s how this game went.

    For seven innings, Myers stuffed it down the Yankees throats – before tiring in the eighth. And, on the flip-side, the Phils’ Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth played “Who can hit it farther?” off Burnett. (Werth won, by the way.)

    Worm Killer Wang closed it out for the Yankees…slopping his way through three innings…allowing two runs…but also saving a Yankees hurting pen (by not bringing cause to use someone else).

    The Yankees have to face Cole Hamels on Sunday. Next, the unreliable Phil Hughes pitches on Monday for New York – followed by sore-kneed Joba Chamberlain the day after that. And, four days from this game. A.J. Burnett goes again. What does this all mean? Simple: As much as the nine game winning streak was nice…the Yankees just may have started a streak tonight where they’re going to lose five of six games (in their series against the Phillies and Rangers). Also, it could be six losses in a row if Andy Pettitte fails against the Phils tomorrow.

    Then again, maybe the Yankees will win their next five games in a row? Who knows, right? That’s what baseball is all about…

    May 21st vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on May 22nd, 2009 · Comments (16)

    Number Nine…Number Nine…Number Nine…

    I missed the start of this game. I had to work late and didn’t get home until 7:45 pm ET. And, I turned it on just before Robbie Cano homered in the second.

    You can imagine my shock when the top of the third started and I saw Alfredo Aceves on the mound and not Joba Chamberlain. My initial thought was: “Wow. I wonder if Joba nailed the Mocking Bird with a pitch and got ejected?” And, then, the fellas in the YES booth soon gave an update on what really happened to Chamberlain…and I was up to speed.

    Since you can never believe what the Yankees say, and they’re saying that they are “hopeful” that Joba makes his next start, I think we have to wait and see on this one…in terms of how bad it is…

    O.K., as I said yesterday, the O’s stink. Now, comes the real test – the Phillies. It will be very interesting to see how the Yankees do in their next three games. It will tell us if this team is for real, or, if the last seven games were just a gift from playing the Twins in New York and playing the Orioles, period.

    May 20th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on May 20th, 2009 · Comments (41)

    (more…)

    May 19th vs. The Orioles

    Posted by on May 19th, 2009 · Comments (31)

    Ditto.

    That was going to be my entry for this game, above. Very laconic, no? And, then, the Yankees went and spoiled it by exploding for seven runs in the seventh inning. (He writes, laughing.)

    I wonder what the winning percentage is for teams who score seven runs in the seventh inning? Betcha it’s real high. Somewhere in Lester Grinspoon territory. Just like Teixeira’s blast today…

    Yanks have now won seven in a row. (Lots of sevens today, huh?) In my lifetime, the longest Yankees winning streak was 11 games – from August 31, 1985 through September 10, 1985. That one was powered by the likes of Joe Cowley, Ed Whitson, Bob Shirley and Rich Bordi. Ah, good times…

    The Yankees almost matched that in 2005 when they won ten in a row during May…powered by Carl Pavano, Kevin Brown, Paul Quantrill, Tanyon Sturtze and others…

    So, what do you say Yanks, can you win another five games in a row? That would make it an even dozen “W’s” – something I’ve never seen the Yankees do, ever.

    In fact, the last time New York won 12+ games in a row was back in September 1961. Long time, indeed.

    May 18th vs. The Twins

    Posted by on May 18th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Things got a little tense there in the 9th inning of this one, didn’t it?

    The Yankees out-scored the Twins, 21-16, in this four-game series – taking four wins in the process. I wonder when was the last time the Yankees swept a four-game set from a team where the overall run differential was five runs or less? Has it ever happened? Think about that…the overall run differential in a four-game sweep cannot be less than four runs…and it was just five in this case. Wow.

    In his last 14 games, including this one, Mark Teixeira has hit exactly as the Yankees, and their fans, has hoped that he would this season. Batting lefty, Teixeira’s swing reminds me of D. B. Sweeney playing Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Eight Men Out.” Anyone else see that? (And, I don’t mean this as a slap – I actually liked Sweeney’s swing in that movie.)

    Yanks have now won eight of their last ten. And, they play their next six games at the Stadium. How sweet would it be if they win five of their next six and string this run out to be 13 wins out of 16 games? Or, is that just getting greedy?

    May 17th vs. The Twins

    Posted by on May 17th, 2009 · Comments (38)

    This makes three walk-offs in a row for the Yankees. First time they’ve done that since 1972:

    August 27, 1972 – Game 1
    August 27, 1972 – Game 2
    August 29, 1972

    But, as you can note, in 1972, the three games were broken up by an off-day…whereas this time, in 2009, it’s been three days in a row. Wow.

    I was at this one with my son – who turned five last month. It was his first time at the new Stadium – getting even with his sister who had her first trip there two weeks ago.

    The first six innings flew by – pretty quick. During those frames, my biggest thrill was the DP the Yanks turned to close out the fourth inning. I just love it, being there in person, watching the Yankees turn-two on an infield grounder, to end an inning. I must be crazy, but, I get off on the way that keeps you on your seat – seeing it unfold – and then it gives you what you want in the end.

    For my son, in the first six, his biggest thrill was either the cotton candy that he had in the bottom of the fourth inning or hearing Paul Cartier play “What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?” because he knows that one from being a SpongeBob SquarePants junkie. Hey, when you’re five…

    In the seventh inning, he wanted to go for a walk – so, we left our seats in Section 213 (in the Main Level) and headed out to the bleachers. Here we are, below, out in centerfield:

    outincenter_bd_blog

    We were in the bleachers when Burnett started to unravel – allowing the Twins to score two. From there, we started to loop back around to our seats – taking a dip down through the field level as the Yankees were coming to bat. As luck would have it, we arrived just behind home plate, at field level, when A-Rod went deep. Man, that’s a nice view. We stayed there to see Matsui’s double, Swisher’s sweet bunt, and Melky’s sac-fly to knot the score. After the end of the seventh, we ran back up to our seats.

    During our dash, we saw a lot of people leaving the Stadium. What’s up with that? It was two-two, in the seventh, and not very late in the day. (If I had to guess, I would say it was around 3:30 pm ET.) Sure, it was starting to sprinkle, a tad…but, nothing crazy.

    Speaking of crazy, how about that eighth inning? Denard Span and Hideki Matsui would probably like to forget those At Bats. And, that play that Joe Mauer made in the ninth? Dude, that had Thurman Munson, 1971, written all over it. Even as a Yankees fan, you have to tip your cap to a play like that one.

    Nice to finally see a regular season game, in person at the new Stadium, that ended up as a “W” for the Yankees. Having been there for Opening Day and May 2nd, and coming home with a loss, each time, this one was sweet – especially since my next ticket is for August. It would have been a long two and a half months to ride that out…waiting for a win.

    Lastly, a question for ya’ll. What do you think of the Minnesota Twins this year? They must be a great team, right? After all, the Yankees have barely beaten them now, for three games in a row, no? It’s been tooth and nail playing these Twinkies. Or, if you think Minnesota is not that good, what does that say about New York?

    May 16th vs. The Twins

    Posted by on May 16th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    I’ll be at the game tomorrow. So, that means I’ll be devoting eight hours of my day towards the Yankees – allowing time for getting there, seeing the game, and getting back home. Related, I had to get a lot of personal/family stuff done today to make up for the time I’ll be MIA in Yankeeland tomorrow – which meant I was only able to peek in at this game as time allowed.

    I did get to see part of the pre-game coverage on YES – and saw that General Joe had a plan to make Joba throw a fake first inning in the pen before the game. And, I caught the score later in the game and saw that it was 3-2, Yanks, in the 5th. So, it appears, that Girardi’s plan helped Chamberlain – to some extent – today. Good.

    Later, my family and I were in the car, and I turned on the radio, just as Mark Teixeira got that clutch, two-out, hit to tie the score at four in the 8th inning. At that point, I figured that the pen had a hand in allowing the Twins to go ahead in this one – and I found out later that it was Jose Veras. No shocker there*. We stayed with the game, on the car radio, through the bottom of the 9th inning.

    Eventually, we left the car and entered the restaurant (where we were headed). It seemed like that only took minutes. But, as we were waiting to be seated, I noticed a TV in the bar, in the front of the restaurant – and it had the game on there. At this point, Mo was in his second frame – and it was the top of the 10th inning, no outs, and the Twins had runners on first and second. Yikes! However, Rivera got out of it by the time we were directed to our table. Whew.

    I was able to angle myself at our table so that I could see another TV in the bar, over a three-quarter wall that separated our dining area and the lounge, if I cranked my head all the way to the left. I took a glance at one point and saw Alfredo Aceves pitching in the 11th inning. And, the very next time I looked at the game, I saw Teixeira rounding third with A-Rod right behind him – and realized that Rodriguez had blasted a walk-off. Cool.

    Funny game. Alex will be the hero, more than likely, in the eye of many. But, really this game was all about Mark Teixiera. Four for four, with a walk, a big 3-run homer, a clutch hit in the 8th, and the walk in the 11th…

    It was just a few days ago, on May 4th, where I said it would be nice to see Teixeira have a game like the one that Jason Giambi had…back in 2002…where the ‘Big G’ lost his Yankee-new-guy-cherry. And, now, today, in this game, which missed being the seven year anniversary of that Giambi game – also against the Twins – by one day, Tex gets the job done. Nice.

    I hope the Yankees have saved something for tomorrow. I’m oh’fer two this year so far in terms of being there for regular season games to see wins. (And, both games were Sabathia starts – go figure!) It would be nice to finally see a win, in person, in the new Stadium…
    _________

    *See comments section for more on Veras.

    May 15th vs. The Twins

    Posted by on May 15th, 2009 · Comments (3)

    It’s mid-May and Brett Gardner now has twice as many homers as Alex Rodrguez. Baseball is a funny game, huh?

    Watching this game, I can’t help but think back to what I wrote about Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera back on September 15th of last year.

    Back in 2006, I was a big Melky Cabrera fan. But, as I noted last season, Leche was bad in 2007 and terrible in 2008 with the bat. (And, some suggested that his attitude was lacking last season too.) So, what’s got into Cabrera this season? Is it just that he likes wearing the #53? Hey, whatever it is…Melk…keep it up.

    Now, moving on to the favorite mouth-breather of Yankees fanboys across the nation – Keanu Hughes. This is the third bad start in a row for Phil. (When you walk four in five innings with Wally Bell behind that plate, dude, it means you have zero command of your pitches.)

    Here’s the deal with Hughes: He’s proven that he can dominate minor league batters. After all, his career ERA in the bushes is 2.38 in 329.6 IP over six seasons. However, his lifetime big league ERA is about 5.50 over 25 games.

    In the YES coverage this evening, David Cone brought up Edwin Jackson. As I noted last year, Jackson was once the prize pitching prospect of the minor leagues. Yet, it took him over 70 starts in the majors – and until he was 25 years old – for it to all click into place for him…where he started posting big league numbers to match his past promise.

    So, what do the Yankees do with Phil Hughes? Do you send him back down to the minors, where he has nothing to prove? Or, do you keep running him out there, in the majors, pitching to an ERA that’s over five? You could do the latter, if you’re a rebuilding team. But, the Yankees are not…and cannot afford to give a guy another 50 starts in the big leagues with the hope that he uses those to work out his problems.

    Too bad there’s no “Four-A” league out there now. Because, the way he’s pitched, over his whole career, that’s where Phil Hughes belongs…for now.

    May 14th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on May 14th, 2009 · Comments (8)

    Missed most of this one. Got home just in time to see the bottom of the ninth and the post-game. (Went to the movies tonight – will have a post on that later.)

    I’m really starting to dig Frankie Cervelli at the end of a win. He shows some good emotion during the post-game high-fives. (And, he’s a fun interview with Kim Jones too.) By the way, is it just me, or, does Cervelli remind you of Goran Visnjic?

    I just have a feeling that the kid will go on to have a nice major league career – one like Rick Dempsey, at the worst.

    Sabathia was like an ace tonight – with a solid eight. Nice for CC to bookend this road trip with wins. That’s what you want from your big man.

    Yanks now 17-17. Jeter is back. Matsui too. Mo’s looking better…

    Here’s a question: If, at the end of this month, the Yankees are 26-24, would you be happy with that? Or, would that be considered a failure, at the first-third mark of the season?

    May 13th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on May 14th, 2009 · Comments (6)

    Andy Pettitte gutted his way through this one – and did that well. Jonathan Albaladejo on the other hand…walking two in the 9th inning, with one out and a 8-2 lead…well…I don’t call him Alba-la-no-no for nuttin’

    How crazy was that 2nd inning for the Yankees? Melky doubles. Gardner hits a 100-meter homer. Pena triples. After Cervelli grounds out, Damon triples. And, then, after a Swisher ground out, Teixeira doubles.

    That’s all followed by an A-Rod walk and a Cano single.

    Two doubles, two triples and a homer in the second inning? When I saw all those extra base hits, so early in the game, I thought, for sure, somebody on the Yankees would hit for the cycle today. In any event, thank you Scott Richmond. Now, if Sabathia comes through on Thursday, the Yankees have a shot at winning this series…and that would be nice.

    May 12th @ The Blue Jays

    Posted by on May 12th, 2009 · Comments (6)

    Since I’ve been a Yankees fan, I seen many a starting pitcher own New York when he has faced them. Jim Palmer and Chuck Finley come to mind – as well as Frank Tanana (when he threw hard), Larry Gura, and Mike Caldwell. Also, Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, when they were in their absolute prime, threw several great games against the Yankees. David Wells always got up to face New York. And, somehow, even a guy like Geoff Zahn covered the Yanks like a wet blanket on several occasions. Lastly, of course, way back in the day, Nolan Ryan would knock the bats out of Steinbrenner’s boy’s hands – as he did to most teams. (Come to think of it, at times, Bert Blyleven, Luis Tiant, Mark Langston and Teddy Higuera – at their peak – were tough on New York too.)

    But, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher consistently stuff it down the Yankees throats the way that Roy Halladay does…and the way he did today. Man, I just hate facing this guy.

    Now, with Jeter, Matsui and Swisher hurting – and both Nady and Posada out – is every pitcher, at least for a while, who faces New York going to look like Doc Halladay? Geez, I hope not…but, it could happen…

    May 10th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 10th, 2009 · Comments (10)

    When Melky Cabrera made that throw on the Felix Pie single in the fourth, setting up a situation where the O’s had runners on second and third, with one out, and the Yankees already trailing by a score of 3-1, I thought that Joba Chamberlain was toast. I truly expected the flood gates to up at that point. But, give Joba credit – he got out of that and then posted two more good innings to boot.

    Speaking of Chamberlain, he said all the right things in the post-game about Aubrey Huff mocking him with a fist pump after his first inning homer. Of course, Joba wouldn’t be in the position of being mocked, and then having to deal with these questions, if he toned down his act on the mound…

    Hey, is Johnny Damon making his contract situation interesting, or what?

    Lastly, how much fun is it to root for a guy like Francisco Cervelli?

    May 9th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 9th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    I gave Phil Hughes a mulligan on his last start and this is what he does the next time out?

    In the YES post-game coverage, Joe Girardi said that Hughes was “pushing” the ball and this caused his pitches to “get up” and be “flat.” And, in his post-game interview, Phil Hughes agreed – saying that his “arm slot was low” and this made him “push the ball.”

    As I understand it, when a pitcher’s arm slot drops (or is low), having the elbow on the throwing arm lower, it forces the pitcher to “arm,” “push,” or “sling” the ball instead of “throwing” it. And, when this happens, a pitcher’s fastball develops a tailing action. Basically, when his slot drops, it doesn’t allow his fingers to stay on top of the ball and acquire the appropriate backspin for a true fastball.

    For Hughes, tonight, this made his fastball more like a slider. And, a slider is basically a cutter – which Hughes does throw. So, in situations when he loses his slot, like today, Hughes goes from being a fastball/cutter/curve pitcher and becomes a (natural) slider/cutter/curve pitcher.

    The latter is an issue because Hughes is inconsistent with his curve. Plus, if his fastball acts like a slider, which is the same as a cutter, it turns Hughes into a two-pitch pitcher: Slider/Cutter and Curveball. And, with that two-pitch only attack, hitters can sit on one pitch and hack…see: Ramirez, Edwar. (Although, for Ramirez, it’s fastball/change only and not cutter/curve only.)

    Now, here comes the strange part. Last summer, Josh Kalk established that Hughes has an incredibly consistent arm slot. As he wrote then:

    …if someone tells you that Hughes doesn’t have a consistent release point, they are wrong. Because his release point is so steady, you would think that comes from a very repeatable delivery and, indeed, that is reportedly one of his best traits. In fact, you have to wonder if his release point is too consistent.

    So, what happened, all of a sudden, tonight, to make Phil lose his slot? If I had to guess, I would say it’s arm fatigue. I can remembering hearing, as far back as the 1970′s, “When a pitcher starts getting his pitches up in the zone, it’s because he’s tired and he can’t keep his elbow up in his delivery.”

    This, of course, leads to the question: Why does Hughes have arm fatigue? (If my theory is true.)

    I guess we’ll see…right? It will be interesting to see if Phil does better with this…his next time out.

    May 8th @ The Orioles

    Posted by on May 9th, 2009 · Comments (7)

    Alex Rodriguez: $275 million for ten years, plus, maybe, another $30 million down the line…
    CC Sabathia: $161 million for seven years, unless, he opts out of the deal after 2011…and then it would be $69 million for three years…

    Watching Rodriguez and Sabathia perform in this game: Priceless…

    O.K.. joking aside, it was very exciting when A-Rod hit that homer on his first pitch and swing of the season. Although, I suspect that YES, and especially Michael Kay, will keep going back to this highlight, from now until the end of time, as if it was as important as the Chambliss HR in the 1976 ALCS, Reggie’s One Game 3 Series HRs in 1977, the Dent HR on 10/2/78, the Leyritz 1996 Series HR, the Brosius and Tino Series HRs in 2001, and the Boone 2003 ALCS HR combined…

    And, CC was super this in the contest – and just what the doctor ordered for the team, at this time. And, Sabathia, now, is just the 11th Yankees pitcher to throw a shutout victory, on the road, since 1996 (with the others being Mike Mussina, David Wells, Andy Pettitte, Ramiro Mendoza, Hideki Irabu, Carl Pavano, Ted Lilly, Orlando Hernandez, Roger Clemens and Aaron Small). Think about that, for a minute. A Yankees pitcher, since 1996, throws a shutout win, on the road, about 2% of the time. So, what we saw from Sabathia in this one was rare stuff…and then some.

    May 7th vs. The Rays

    Posted by on May 7th, 2009 · Comments (21)

    Did you know that, from April 20, 2007 through May 29, 2007, the Yankees went 13-23…and had a five-game and seven-game losing streak during that time? Of course, that was when New York was sending Jeff Karstens, Chase Wright, Kei Igawa, Tyler Clippard and Matt DeSalvo out there to start games for them.

    In the last 13 games of the present day Yankees, they’ve gone 4-9…and New York is currently in a five-game losing streak. But, this has come under the rotation of Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. Geez, this means the next 23 games has got to be better this year, right? There’s no way the Yankees can go 9-14 in their next 23 games and match that terrible early season run (of 13-23) that they had in 2007, is there?

    At this moment, I’m not so sure that they won’t avoid it matching that run from two years ago – or doing worse.

    Then again, it could just be the aftertaste of this game that makes me feel that way…

    Oh, and, Mo? Yikes. Four homers allowed in his last five games? Is it just a slump…or worse?

    Man, there’s that “or worse?” question again…

    In the end, I guess, the two big questions in Yankeeland today are, after this game…just how far down is “rock-bottom” and “are we there yet?”

    May 6th vs. The Rays

    Posted by on May 7th, 2009 · Comments (12)

    Man, I really thought that Mark Teixeira was going to tie this one in the bottom of the 10th. No dice.

    And, I was really hoping that Hideki Matsui would pick up Teixeira in that frame. No dice, again.

    With this loss, the Yankees have now dropped 8 of their last 13 games. That’s bad. But, consider this…

    Thirteen games ago, the Yankees got lucky in beating the A’s – when Oakland ran out of pitchers and
    Jose Veras pitched out of character, meaning “well,” for New York.

    And, the Yankees were lucky to beat the Angels twice, when Los Angeles was in New York, because
    the Halos pen handed the Bombers both those games.

    There’s a very good chance, based on the way New York has played, that they could (should?) be in a spot where
    they’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games. As such, is it a reach to say that Yankees have been a bunch of sad sacks the last two weeks?

    And, I won’t even mention that they were just barely a .500 team before that.

    Whoops.

    I just did.

    .

    May 5th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 6th, 2009 · Comments (11)

    Sorry. I cannot get as excited, as some, over Joba Chamberlain’s “electric” (which is a word that Cone or Kay used on YES tonight) performance where he struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Why? Because he allowed the first five batters that he faced in this game to reach base, with the first four scoring, before he went on to whiff twelve of twenty. And, that first inning put the Yankees out of this game – as New York went on to lose this game by four runs.

    So, to date, the Yankees are 0-5 against the Boston Red Sox and 13-8 against everyone else that they’ve played this season. And, because of this, it’s safe to say – albeit killing me to admit this – at this moment in time the Yankees are not in the same class as the Red Sox…from the top to the bottom of their organizations…meaning the front office, the coaching staff, the major league rosters, and the minor league systems. Granted, this could change by the end of the season. But, now, Boston is better than New York.

    How did this happen? I’m not certain…

    But, oh-and-five is oh-and-five…and Boston has beat New York in many different ways during those five games.

    Oh, well, on the bright-side, the Yankees don’t have to face the Red Sox again until over a month from now…and, at this moment, that’s fine by me.

    May 4th vs. The Red Sox

    Posted by on May 4th, 2009 · Comments (19)

    With this game starting two hours late – and, bless those fans who are at the Stadium and who sat out that rain delay – I’m going to kick-off this game commentary now, as the Yankees bat in the bottom of the 3rd inning (at 10:30 pm ET), and then close it out tomorrow. (I get up at 5:30 am ET to go to work – and there’s no way I can stay up to provide commentary at the end of this game…whenever that happens.)

    Phil Hughes has thrown 78 pitches through his first 3 innings. Yes, this is what I was worried about back on April 23rd. But, I’m willing to give Hughes a mulligan on this one. His start was pushed back a day. He’s pitching in terrible weather. It’s his first start ever at the new Stadium. Sure, to some, those sound like excuses. But, be that as it may, I want to see Phil Hughes’ third start in the majors – following his first against the Tigers and this one against the Red Sox – before making any judgements on whether the Phil Hughes of 2009 is the same ol’ Hughes or the new and improved Hughes.

    At this moment, the bigger fish in my frying pan is the hope that I’ll wake up on Tuesday and hear about how the Yankees came back to win this game. Maybe on a Mark Teixeira grand slam in the bottom of the 14th inning….wouldn’t that be a nice story?

    The morning after update: I ended up pushing it, staying up until the bottom of the 6th inning of this one, before turning in. So, it was 4-3, Boston, with the Yankees having 3 more shots at it when my head hit the pillow. As such, I was hoping to see a “W” when I woke up this AM. No luck. I’m starting to think it’s time to begin forming a “We should have went for Bay instead of Nady” lament. Worse, out of this game, is the news about Posada. Last time I checked, a catcher needs a workable hamstring. This could be very, very, bad news…

    Lastly, on the Tim Bogar sign stealing thing…what’s new there? Remember Manny Ramirez and Yadier Molina in the 2004 World Series? This is what the Red Sox do…and, it’s part of the game. If the Yankees are upset about it, the answer is simple: Send a message and also do a better job at hiding your signs.

    May 2nd vs. The Angels

    Posted by on May 2nd, 2009 · Comments (12)

    I swear…it must be me.

    Including this contest, the Yankees have played nine home games this season and only lost three of them. And, I’ve been there for two of those three losses. Then again, they were both CC Sabathia starts (today and Opening Day) – so, maybe “The Round Three Hundred Pound Hound of the Mound” has a hand in this too?

    Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way here: The Yankees made Matt Palmer look like Jim Palmer when the latter was in his prime. Yeah, Matt Palmer. Sabathia lost it in the seventh inning. And, the Yankees pen took a somewhat close game and suddenly made it all seem like a dung pile.

    In the eighth inning, when it was still “somewhat close,” with the Halos up, 5-1, I bought my daughter a bottle of water. Just as we popped the top on her water, Kendry Morales took Jose Veras deep. At that moment, I turned to the guy sitting to my left and said “I just paid five dollars for a bottle of water and saw Jose Veras give up a monster homerun at the same time. I living in the new era of being a Yankees fan.”

    O.K., the good news: Ramiro Pena and Melky Cabrera made great plays today. Derek Jeter – who didn’t make a great play, or a decent one, for that matter, in the seventh inning – did not get killed on that play when he stole second in the first. And, my daughter (who will soon be seven years old) and I had a great day at the ballpark – even with the Yankees losing.

    This was her first time at the new Stadium. (Her brother gets to go for the first time in two weeks – when I go to my next game.) Going in, we got lucky as we were just able to make a left off Jerome Avenue, and get on 165th Street, just before the cops showed up with the barricades at 11 a.m. to prevent cars from making that left. As such, we were able to make a right on River Avenue and get to our parking garage pretty easily. And, the light rain that was falling as we were going into the Stadium went away for the rest of the day.

    For six innings, we had a nice, close, ballgame. And, when things got messy, later on, it didn’t bother us. We went for a walk just before the bottom dropped out for this game and were able to cruise right in to the Yankees Museum. (I couldn’t get in there during the exhibition game against the Cubs or on Opening Day – because the lines were too long. So, this was a treat for me.) We also strolled out to the bleachers, swinging from right to left, and stopped out in center, to get an idea of the view out there, etc.

    I have to say…the new Stadium is starting to grow on me. Having been there three times now – including the exhibition game on April 4th against the Cubs – in a span of 29 days has been a good thing…as I’ve noticed the attempts by the Yankees to make things better there. I’ll say this: Those staffers with the “How May I Help You?” signs are light-years from where the Stadium customer service experience was in the old park. And, on our way out today, at least three different Stadium employees thanked us for coming and wished us a safe trip home. Those little things are noticeable.

    Now, if they can only do something about all those empty seats at the field level…

    Here’s a shot from today, as Torii Hunter was batting for the Angels in the seventh inning, of the field level seats behind home plate.
    [Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the image.]

    Now, keep in mind, this photo was taken when the score was just 2-1, Angels, in the seventh. So, this was not a case where fans took off because it was late in the game and it was a blow-out. Nor was it late in the day – as the game was only about two hours old when I snapped this one.

    Witnessing all those empty seats is like seeing those New York Knights home game crowd scenes from The Natural before Roy Hobbs had a chance to play. To think that this is happening at ninth game ever at the new Yankee Stadium, on a Saturday afternoon…well…it’s crazy. Heck, it’s almost as crazy as the Kei Igawa signing….but, I digress.

    In the end, not even a Yankees loss, or a Stadium missing chunks of fans, can ruin this day for me. As you can see, for this Yankees fan and his daughter, it’s all about good memories…

    outincenterfield_ww

    May 1st vs. The Angels

    Posted by on May 2nd, 2009 · Comments (2)

    Sum’ ballgame, huh?

    Yanks blow a four run lead with two outs in the sixth to allow the Halos to go up by two when Andy Pettitte just ran out of gas. And, then, in the seventh, Jose Veras – have we seen enough of him? – sets it up for the Angels to tack on three more, putting New York five down with just nine outs left to burn.

    When Hideki Matsui grounded out to lead off the eighth inning, with the score 9-4 in favor of L.A., the Angels had a win probability darn near 100%. But, Robinson Cano got the Yankees started after that. And, before you knew it, it was a one-run contest heading into the final frame. That, alone, was an incredible comeback.

    And, that brings us to the ninth inning. Mark Teixeira’s walk and Matsui’s hit set it up. Cano, again, got a huge hit. Finally…Hip, Hip Jorge! Posada ends it with the game winner.

    This is four games in a row for this Yankees roll. I hope there’s more left in the tank. Of course, because I’ll be at the game on Saturday, there’s always the chance that the air will leak out of the balloon. Just my luck…or so it often seems…law of averages and all.

    Back to Robbie Cano…well…is he the Yankees M.V.P., so far, this season, or what? Back on March 7th, I took my daughter to the Lakewood BlueClaws Fanfest. (My son had a birthday party to attend that afternoon.) While we were there, I bought her a Robinson Cano Bobblehead in the gift shop. (Our choices were A-Rod, Joba or Cano. She thought the Chamberlain one looked scary and I advised her that she didn’t want Alex. So, we took Robbie by default.) So, maybe bringing that bobble into WasWatching.com HQ has been a good luck charm? Hey, if it works like this…maybe I should get the kids some more Bobbleheads while we’re in the Bronx tomorrow?

    Side note, semi-related to having kids: I laughed out loud during the top of the sixth inning, just before the heavy damage, when Paul O’Neill in the YES booth suggested that John Flaherty’s TV – it was Flash’s TV that they were talking about, right? – was just like “Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel.” You have to be a parent to appreciate that one. Almost Scooter-like of Paulie to pull that rabbit out of his hat. Nice.