Tagged: Carlos Pena

And The Yankees Lived Happily Ever After….

The Yankees’ regular season came to a close with a 10-2 drubbing of the Rays. Call me a romantic sap, but I do love happy endings. And here’s why it was a happy ending today for the Bombers.
* AJ gave up two runs (one earned) in his final tune-up.
* Joba looked like the old Joba in his one inning of relief.
* Mo retired the side in order in the ninth, so he’s ready to go.
* Jeter had a couple of singles and Damon had a couple of doubles. Even Molina had a double and he can’t hit to save his life.
The season concluded with such a happy ending vibe that I won’t even mention how Joe Maddon walked Mark Teixeira in the sixth, loading the bases. Did Joe do it to keep Carlos Pena tied with Tex for the most home runs in the AL? Oh, wait. I wasn’t going to mention it.
The intentional walk brought A-Rod to the plate for the second time in the sixth. He’d already hit one home run in the inning. Would he hit another? A granny? Absolutely.
Talk about a happy ending. A-Rod missed the month of April, rehabbing from hip surgery, and then came back to the team on May 8th and lined a homer off the Orioles’ Jeremy Guthrie.
His first pitch of the season = homer.
His last pitch of the season = homer.
Not only did he break an AL record with his seven RBIs in that sixth inning, but he broke a major league record by tallying 30 homers and 100 RBIs in 13 seasons. And yes, he also tied Mark McGuire with HR # 583. Happy ending.
(OK, who knows about the last pic. Those two could be broken up by the time I finish posting. The main thing is that the Yankees finished at 103-57 for the best record in baseball.)
Now the Yanks fly home to await the winner of Tuesday’s deciding game between the Tigers and Twins. Which team will be their opponent? Who will be the leading characters in the ALDS? How will the plot twists go? What will the cliffhangers be?
A wise person (can’t remember who) once said, “Baseball is a soap opera with box scores.” My sentiment exactly.
P.S. To celebrate the Yankees’ great season, Kevin at Zell’s Pinstripe Blog has gone through the vault and rounded up every SI cover to feature a Yankee or Yankees related theme on it. Here’s the link. If you’re a Yankee fan, it’s definitely worth a look.

Yankees Take Labor Day Twin Bill

The Yanks won both games of the Labor Day doubleheader against the Rays, which was impressive considering how they had spazzed out on Sunday in Toronto. Back at home in the Bronx, they looked – dare I say it? – invincible, almost like comic book heroes.
The first game was a pitcher’s duel: CC versus Garza. The score was knotted at 1-1 until the eighth when the Yankees played small ball. (Yes, they can do other things besides go deep.) They took walks! They got singles! (A-Rod had three.) They hit sac flies! By the end of the inning they led 4-1. And that’s where it stayed, thanks to another brilliant performance by Huuuuuughes, who notched the “W,” and Mo, who got the save. Speaking of Mo, it was great to have him back. I hope his groin is feeling fine now. It certainly looked fine, although I’m not exactly a groin expert.
groin adductor.jpg
CC was superb yet again, pitching one-run ball over seven innings with 10 Ks – the Yankees’ true ace, despite the no-decision. Brett Gardner, fresh off the DL, made a great diving catch in the fifth, and Posada threw out Crawford trying to steal in the eighth. What a difference good defense makes. There was one sour note, however.
Carlos Pena broke two fingers as he tried to check his swing on a ball that came inside in the first inning.
He’ll be out for the remainder of the season. He’s a good guy and a good player, so I’m sorry for him and his fans.
Game Two of the twin bill featured a terrific bounce back outing by A.J. and it was a huge relief, given how he’s been knocked around lately.
After allowing a run in the first, he settled right down and threw six scoreless innings. By the time he departed, the offense had blown the game open. Tex went wild, hitting two bombs:
a three-run homer in the third, to make it 5-1 Yanks….
and a solo shot in the sixth for 8-1.
The offense piled on, and the final score was 11-1. Oh, there was another sour note.
Jeter, the man of the hour as he tries to break Lou Gehrig‘s record, didn’t get a hit all day/night. He went 0-for-8. He didn’t seem to mind though. When the Yankees win, he wins.
Did I spend every waking minute in front of the TV watching baseball this Labor Day holiday? Almost. I did take a break between games and went over to a friend’s pool, where there was entertainment of a different sort. My husband Michael, who was on his high school and college swimming teams back in a previous century, tried to climb into one of those floating pool chairs – and couldn’t. Poor guy. Little did he know I had the She-Fan Cam with me.

Hitting The Road

If I had told people that the Yankees would go 9-1 on their homestand, I would have gotten reactions like this.

And even this.
That Swisher. Such a goofball. But even he probably wouldn’t have predicted such a great run after the All-Star break.
Mitre was mediocre in Sunday’s game, but “mediocre” might be just fine for the time being. He throws strikes. He induces ground balls. He doesn’t look panicked out there. He’ll do as the fifth starter until he proves he’s not worthy.
we're not worthy.jpg
The bullpen is looking better and better, especially with Bruney gaining in confidence and effectiveness. I’m a little worried about Coke though. I shake my head every time somebody says, “He’s been amazing, except that he gives up home runs.”
The last time I checked, giving up home runs wasn’t a good thing. Hughes continues to impress, and Mo is just, well, Mo. He could probably throw that cutter in his sleep.
Tex keeps rolling. Cody Ransom has been more-than-decent as A-Rod’s fill-in. And Melky will have to step up while Gardner’s thumb heals.
I admit I was thrown when I heard about Brett the Jet’s injury. How will we compensate for his speed on the bases? Could we get this guy to un-retire?
Cano finally got a big hit with men in scoring position. And Jeter seems to get more acrobatic with age. I mean, could you do this?
What I’m saying is that I think we’re ready for the ten-day road trip, which begins at the cowbell palace known as The Trop.
Sure, there will be challenges in Tampa. Big ones, not the least of which is this.
Tough place to catch fly balls. What’s more, there are Rays that always cause the Yankees headaches: Upton, Crawford, Longoria, Pena. I’m hoping AJ can handle them all when he opens the series and flashes them that stare.
The Bombers have hit the road as I’m typing this. Actually, they must be in Florida by now.
If I were addressing them at their hotel, I’d say: “Win every game on the trip.”
“She-Fan, you’re cracked,” Jeter would say. “We can’t win every game.”
“Well, you can win ninety-nine percent of them,” I’d counter. “You just did it.”
Everybody would realize I was right. And Joba would let out a victory roar.

Enough Already!

Here’s how my Thursday went. How was yours?

* 7 a.m. I ventured outside to get my newspaper and was nearly blown over by the 60 mph winds that were fanning the wildfires.

* 8 a.m. I listened to our local news and heard that over 2500 acres had burned (we were at 400 yesterday), along with 75 houses.

* 10 a.m. I sorted through my emails and found one from a friend named John who’d been forced to evacuate. “We’re safe,” he wrote. “But our house is in the hands of the winds and the firefighters.”
* Noon: Among the emails that go directly to my web site about my book was one from a reader named Dennis who wrote, “I can’t believe you missed a game because it was hot out. I travel all the way from western Mass to get away from these ****** Red Sox fans and would drive through any type of weather to get to the Bronx. You don’t deserve to be a Yankee fan.”
* 2 p.m. A tree in front of our house was knocked over by a gust of wind and split right down the middle.
* 3 p.m. I turned on the water in the sink only there wasn’t any.
No water.jpg
* 4 p.m. I sat down to watch Yankees-Rays. Before I even blinked, Pettitte gave up homers to Bartlett and Pena, followed two innings later by another to Longoria. Oh, Andy.
* 5 p.m. With the Rays ahead 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the very large Niemann walked Melky and allowed a single to Pena before being replaced by Cormier, who gave up doubles to Molina and Damon. The Yanks pulled to within 4-3. That was the good news. Then, up came Tex, who K-ed and heard boos from the fans.
* 5:30 p.m. Matsui tacked on a solo homer in the bottom of the fifth, tying the score, but what was Cervelli, our newly called up AA catcher, doing behind home plate in the top of the sixth? Could it be that Molina, our backup catcher/everyday catcher, was hurt? Of course.
* 6:30 p.m. Just as I started to think about dinner, the YES Network showed its nightly anti-smoking commercial featuring the woman with the disfigured hands. Talk about an appetite killer.
* 6:45 p.m. Jose Veras had his usual meltdown in the seventh, and the Rays jumped ahead 6-4. But Damon lined a two-run shot in the eighth, tying things up at 6-6. I felt pure joy as I watched Mo trot in from the pen for the ninth….only to witness the unthinkable: back-to-back homers by Crawford and Longoria. Never has Mo given up two in a row. Not in his entire career.
* 7 p.m. The sight of Girardi taking Mo out and bringing in Robertson – and the subsequent news that Mo has been suffering from “arm strength issues” – was too much.
7:30 p.m. After the 8-6 loss, the Yankees’ fifth straight, I tried to perk up. I reminded myself that A-Rod had left camp in Florida and would be in the lineup on Friday in Baltimore.
* 7:45 p.m. But then I heard the wind start to howl even worse than it had been howling all day. The lights flickered too. I looked out the window and saw smoke – lots of it – and suddenly it was back to living in the midst of a raging wildfire.
With baseball over for the night, I grabbed my She-Fan Cam and went outside to play one of those Weather Channel people. Here’s my “report.” The sound isn’t very good, because I was getting knocked around by the wind, but I gave it a shot.
Thanks to all those who’ve expressed concern for my safety and that of the firefighters and residents of Santa Barbara. As of this writing, the fire continues to grow and has the potential to last for months, like the one I mentioned in my book that broke out here in the summer of ’07. But we’re supposed to get a cold front by the weekend – maybe a little fog, if not some actual rain.
(Flip Video Contest Reminder: Deadline is Friday, May 15th to win one of these!)


State Of Emergency

No, I’m not talking about the Yankees, although tonight’s 4-3 extra-innings loss to the Rays was a bitter one to swallow.

With the wildfire raging (more on that in a sec), my electricity was out this afternoon but came back on just in time for the first pitch.
AJ looked sharp, striking out eight and keeping the Rays’ hitters off balance. Yes, he gave up three runs over six innings, but he more than allowed the Yankees to stay in it and I really enjoyed watching him work. He’s got that great snarl, not to mention filthy stuff, and I wouldn’t mind if he went out there every night. (I know. His arm would fall off. I’m just saying.)
The Yankees’ offense? It was practically non-existent yet again. Swisher didn’t help, getting himself tossed in the seventh with the Yanks down 3-0. David Cone repeatedly said the umpire had a “quick hook,” but Swisher’s job was to stay in the game, not go off by himself to sulk.
The bats finally came alive in the eighth against a tiring Sonnanstine and a shaky Howell. When Tex stepped in with bases loaded, I did my yelling-at-the-TV thing: “THIS IS YOUR BIG CHANCE! BE A HERO!” And suddenly he was the hero, tying the score with a double to left. I went completely nuts and started dancing around the house and talking to myself.
Then the rain. I sure wish New York would send some of it to California.
When Mo struck out Upton, Crawford and Longoria in the ninth, I danced around again. He hadn’t been on the mound in nearly a week and yet he was brilliant.
I was sure the Yanks would win it in the bottom of the inning (Ramiro Pena was safe at first – such a bad call), but nothing.
Onto the tenth. Why didn’t Joe bring Mo back out? It wasn’t as if he’d been taxed. It wasn’t as if he’d labored. It wasn’t as if there was ANY reason to call on ANYONE ELSE, and yet there was Coke pitching to Carlos Pena and serving up a fat one. Granted, Coke has been effective lately, but still. Mo is Mo. Why would you ever use another reliever when he’s available?
So much for the lame bottom of the tenth after Damon doubled. What a waste.
After the game, it was reality time. I switched to our local TV news and watched coverage of the fire, which had roared out of control and forced the Governator to declare a state of emergency. Businesses were closed. Over 8,000 people have been evacuated. And homes are going down. Santa Barbara is in bad shape.
Planes have been dumping water and fire retardant on the affected areas all day, but the winds aren’t cooperating.
My house isn’t directly affected right now, as I live a few canyons away from the one above. But I took the following photos this afternoon from my backyard deck, before the game. As you can see, the fire was definitely looming.
It’s supposed to be hot again tomorrow (in the mid-90s/low 100s – bizarre for the season) and windy, so who knows what’s next. They predict the fire will head closer to me, toward the area that burned in November, which is actually good news; there’s nothing left to burn there. Another possibility is that it will turn toward the city of Santa Barbara itself. I don’t even want to contemplate that.
Having baseball to look forward to again tomorrow night, win or lose, is so small thing.

Rays-Phillies Game 4: Baseball Sure Is Unpredictable

After tonight’s thrashing of the Rays by the Phils, my head feels like a giant puzzle.


Seriously, what to make of the fact that in a blog post two days ago I offered Ryan Howard several ways for busting out of his slump. I guess one of them worked, because look at him.
He’s dancing with joy over having smacked two homers and driven in five runs. This guy couldn’t buy a hit and now he’s a slugger again. Strange, yes?
And then there’s the case of
Joe Blanton – a mediocre pitcher who, for no apparent reason, chose tonight to impersonate Cy Young. He even went deep! How do you figure?
There were plenty of other oddities:
* the normally capable Iwamura making two errors
* the much-heralded Rays relievers serving up bombs
* the sizzling hot bats of Longoria and Pena turning to icecubes.
Oh, and how about the National Anthem?
Did Patti Labelle TRY to sound like a cat in heat?
It was such a strange game, from start to finish, and just goes to prove that those of us who predicted Tampa Bay would win the World Series might be dead wrong. I mean, Hamels vs. Kazmir tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park? Could spell The End for the Cinderfellas.
But the strangest part of all? When Fox’s Ken Rosenthal brought us breaking news from Mrs. Jamie Moyer.
According to Karen Moyer, Jamie pitched last night’s game despite a bout of stomach flu. “He was sweating so badly I had to keep changing the sheets and pillowcases on the bed,” she confided to Ken, who then passed this crucial tidbit on to us, along with other details of Moyer’s unfortunate symptoms.
Memo to Fox: There IS such a thing as too much information.

The Little Known Secret of the Rays’ Success

Yes, there’s the maturing of their young pitching staff. Yes, there’s that perfect combination of rookies and veterans. And yes, there’s the fact that they’re scrappy and fast and fearless under Joe Maddon and have been that way since spring training (Yankee fans remember just how fearless). But now I’ve uncovered another reason – they’re a tobacco-less team. Sure, go ahead and laugh, but watch.

Very well intentioned. But – sorry to be so dense – what do they mean by, “I don’t DIP?” What the heck is DIPPING? We’re not talking about nacho chips in guacamole, right? Could someone explain while I wait for today’s games to start?

Thoughts on the Rays’ First Postseason Win Ever

First of all, I hate being on the sidelines and writing about other team’s successes. But if any team deserves to be written about, it’s the Rays. Here’s why.

* They finally managed to fill up the Trop today! Did you see all those people banging on their cowbells? Where were they all summer? Up north, I know. Well, it was sweet of them to lock up their real houses, come on down to their Florida condos and take in a little baseball.
* Evan Longorio hit two homers. The guy is in his first major league season, and yet look how well he performs on the big stage. There should be no further discussion about who is more famous…..

Eva Longoria In Dolce.preview.jpg
* The Rays can now claim that they, too, have a high-strung (okay, looney) reliever in the grand tradition of Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. The minute he had words with Orlando Cabrera, I thought, Yup. He needs a nickname.
And so I’m calling him Grant “The Mad Australian” Balfour.
* The Rays beat the White Sox in spite of losing Carlos Pena early in the game. Pena’s problem? Blurry left eye. Apparently, he scratched it at home last night. But do we believe that story or do we think his hand slipped while he was….
Yes, even professional ballplayers yawn. Not every game is a nail-biter, plus they stay up way past their bedtimes.

Inside Cashman’s Head

Today’s makeup game against the Tigers was sort of pitiful, given that Verlander went from being a number one starter for Detroit to basically serving up batting practice. But still. The Yankees won after nearly blowing it. The “W” won’t mean anything in the long run, given that the Red Sox won too and there are only 25 games to play and all the rest. But it was fun watching the Yanks hang on after yet another bonehead play by Cano combined with yet another awful start by Ponson.

I would love to crawl inside Brian Cashman’s head and find out what he’s thinking as he goes along on this road trip. Did he really believe he would “catch lightning in a bottle” (hate that expression) with Sir Sidney? If he had no intention of bringing Melky up today when the rosters expanded, why did he wait so long to send him down to Scranton in the first place? And is this road trip a scouting mission or a show of support? If I were in his head I’d be looking long and hard at the Rays over the next few days. I’d try to figure out how the Yankees let Carlos Pena and Dioner Navarro go. I’d be noting how athletic the Rays are, on the base paths and in the field. And I’d be wondering why their young pitchers have so much better stuff than ours. When I wrote that I was impressed with the Rays in that New York Times article last year (see my first post), people laughed at me. They’re not laughing any more.