* Really good starting pitching by Javy Vazquez
* Excellent defense by A-Rod and the two Curtises (Grandy and Colin)
* Timely hits by Swisher, Grandy and Cervelli, plus a homer by Tex
* Back-to-back one-two-three innings by Joba and Mo
Mix the above ingredients together and you get a delicious win by the Yanks over Ben Sheets and the A’s – the perfect way to start the road trip.
A few random thoughts…Congrats to Andy Pettitte for making the All Star team following the injury to Buchholz. He was next on the list of players voted on by other players, so clap clap clap for him….Since Alfredo Aceves is clearly not coming back to the team any time soon, thanks to his latest setback, can Cashman please go out and get us another arm for the pen?…The Brett Gardner leadoff experiment tonight wasn’t wildly successful. He was 0-for-4. Small sample size, I know, but I like him in the #9 spot where there’s less pressure to get on base. He’s been doing a tremendous job there all season, so why not leave him there?…What’s the matter with Dallas Braden? Seriously, how can anyone be mad that the A’s have been selling “Get Off My Mound” T-shirts? Lighten up, guy….And did the Twins really offer the Mariners a couple of prospects for Cliff Lee? If so, does this mean he won’t be a Yankee next year?
Where do I begin? With Joba? Dave Robertson? Chan Ho Park? How about all three. They took a beautiful outing by A.J. and turned it into a win for the Blue Jays. That just shouldn’t happen. I mean, the guy finally got Dave Eiland back, fixed whatever was wrong with his delivery, re-gained his confidence and got absolutely no help from his bullpen (excluding Mo, of course). If I were A.J., I throw something in all their faces only it wouldn’t be whipped cream.
That’s right. It would be pizza. And I’d save some to throw at the Yankees hitters. Could they have been any more inept? There were nice plays in the outfield (I’m talking about Gardner and Granderson), but Cervelli had another rough one behind the plate. I guess what I’m saying is that this team looks like the All Star break can’t come soon enough for them.
When I found out that A.J. would be pitching on Saturday, I went to Dodger Stadium fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Tex staked us to that nice lead in the first, and I said out loud, “This is gonna be fun!” Wrong. Well, the game itself wasn’t fun. It’s natural to focus on A.J.’s dreadful pitching – please come back, Dave Eiland, wherever you are! – but the offense was pretty lame too, except for that early burst. And when will Girardi accept the fact that Chan Ho Park is perfectly fine for one inning but cannot pitch two? It’s obvious. I know we’re short Aceves and Mitre, but surely somebody else – Gaudin? – was available. Even Cervelli had a lousy day behind the plate. But onto more pleasurable things…
Michael and I had a great time at the ballpark, game or no game. Yes, we were disappointed to arrive at Dodger Stadium two hours early – only to be told we couldn’t get onto the field for BP because we didn’t have field box tickets. But our seats in the Loge, just to the third base side of home plate, were excellent, and we had no trouble meeting up with our friend Denise, aka @SunnySoCal on Twitter. To say she’s an A-Rod fan is wildly understating her affection for our third baseman.
Btw, the A-Rod/Twilight reference is courtesy of his appearance at the LA premiere of the movie the other night.
How did Michael get those delicious Dodger dogs, you might ask? Not at the concession stand. We had our own personal caterer — fellow MLBlogger and Dodger fan extraordinaire Cat of Cat Loves the Dodgers. She was too shy to let me put her on the She-Fan Cam, so here’s her own blog pic.
She came over to our seats and handed us boxes of food from the baseline club, where she always sits and has access to incredible eats. She brought us the hot dogs, some pasta salad, some Tri-Tip, grilled veggies, you name it. How sweet was that? Oh, and she also got us a parking pass for the “preferred lot” so we wouldn’t have to walk a long distance to the stadium. A big thank you to her.
Next came my thwarted cell phone conversations with Peggy, our good Friend of the Blog. We were trying to meet up before the game but it was impossible to hear each other. And she found out – much as we had earlier with BP – that she wasn’t allowed to come down to the Loge section because her ticket was one level above. Aaaargh. But then who showed up to help? Emma of Crz Blue’s Dodger Blue World.
I explained the situation, and Emma offered to be my escort and take me to Peggy! So I left Michael and Denise and went up with Emma to Peggy’s section – only to have Peggy not be there! Aaargh again! Apparently, she had gone to get something to eat. So Emmy cleverly grabbed a Dodger flyer and, after I wrote Peggy a note, tied it to the arm of her empty seat so she would know I was there.
“I have another friend, ladyjane, sitting in the Top Deck,” I told Emma. “Any way you could take me up to see her?”
Not a problem for Emma, who seems to know every nook and cranny of the place. Anyhow, up we went and found ladyjane, who jumped out of her seat to come and talk to us atop Dodger Stadium. Here she is with Emma on the Cam. Nice view of the city in the background, but I apologize in advance for my voice. I sound bizarrely excited, and remind myself of Suzyn Waldman doing her “Roger Clemens is back with the Yankees” thing. (Cringing.)
It was great to see ladyjane, but I never did get to see Peggy, which was a bummer. We were like two ships passing in the night. A big thank you to Emma for taking the time to help out.
Somewhere around the fifth inning, while we were drowning our sorrows in some tasty beer, Denise and I got a tweet from some Twitter Yankee friends, @amandarykoff and @Stefmara, and joined them for a tweet-up.
The amazing thing for me is without having met such great fans I would have been sulking about the Yankees loss. Instead, I spent the long drive back to Santa Barbara thinking how lucky I am that baseball has brought so many wonderful new people into my life.
Yes, those are vinyl album covers, and they seem particularly appropriate when I think about tonight’s win over the Astros. I could have highlighted RBIs by Cervelli and Tex, but it’s Pettitte and Mo who deserve the credit for the “W.” Andy was superb in notching his 200th win as a Yankee, and Mo was lights out in getting the save (his pitches had a lot of zip on them, didn’t they?). Talk about a successful duo over the years.
They’re the baseball equivalent of such oldies but goodies as Abbott and Costello…
…of Martin and Lewis…
…of Rowan and Martin…
…of Sonny and Cher.
OK, never mind that last one. You get the idea. Pettitte and Mo are forever entwined in Yankees history and I just hope they keep drinking out of that fountain of youth, wherever it is.
That’s what he was tonight against the Orioles. Nothing flashy and not especially sharp at the beginning of the game, but he got stronger as he went along. And Cano? What’s left to say about the season he’s having. Is there anyone who doesn’t see a batting crown in his future?
The Orioles did their part to hand us the game, let’s be honest. All those errors, plus a strange decision to pitch to Cervelli instead of Russo in the eighth. And speaking of Russo, how about that catch? OMG. And he’s not even a full time outfielder. Marcus Thames wouldn’t have gotten to the ball, that’s for sure. But the real action tonight was in Philadelphia, where the NHL Playoffs were going on. Everybody in the stands was dressed for Halloween.
Just kidding. I know orange is their team’s color. But it did remind me of these.
I’m a baseball fan first, but I was a Rangers fan when I lived in New York (Knicks too) and I still watch playoff hockey (and basketball). I have to admit that the Blackhawks’ overtime Stanley Cup victory was heart-attack exciting. Baseball is such a leisurely sport and that’s one of the reasons I love it, but hockey is non-stop action and I couldn’t take my eyes off the TV for a second. So congrats to Chicago fans. Now it’s on to the NBA, where, as a transplant, I’m rooting for these guys to win another one.
Am I a bandwagoner by chiming in only at playoff time when it comes to hockey and basketball? You bet. So what.
How many Yankees does it take to screw up a ball game? (No, this isn’t a joke.) Can’t guess? OK, here’s the answer: seven. Actually, there were probably more than seven who contributed to the Yanks’ 7-6 defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, but the following seven stood out for me in what was a truly torturous game to watch. So what if Girardi played it “under protest” because Beckett was taken out for an injury, not a….Oh, never mind. It’s irrelevant. What matters is we let the Sox back into a game for the second night in a row. Herewith are my screw-up seven…
Last night’s hero was tonight’s clown. His “basket catch” of Scutero’s fly ball in the ninth inning was brutal.
After CC went seven heroic innings on a cold, rainy, windy night, Joba was supposed to preserve our 5-1 lead. End of story. Instead? Four runs (three earned) and a chorus of boos. Suddenly, it’s 5-5. Not nice.
His throwing error kicked off Joba’s shoddy inning. He was on base several times and made a terrific play earlier in the game, but I have to include him if I’m naming names.
With Jeter and Gardner on base in the bottom of the eighth, the Yanks had a chance to come roaring back with some runs of their own. Nope. Bard K’d Tex and that was that. Poor at bat.
He can’t hit except for the occasional surprise ground ball that finds a hole. There. I said it. When he stepped in with two outs in the ninth, our last hope, I kept saying, “Why isn’t Swisher or Posada pinch hitting?” Winn struck out to end the game. Boo.
We need runs and you’re bunting? Why give up an out?
This one hurts. I hate putting his name on this list. But fair is fair. He was victimized by Thames’ error in the ninth, as well as a ridiculous strike zone, plus a trio of outfielders who were playing so shallow they could all have been catchers, but he allowed Hermida’s tie-breaking double. He did. And he got the loss.
But here’s what really worries me. The game was delayed by rain and lasted over four hours – the longest nine-inning game in the majors this season (Joe West must be furious). And now the boys have to bounce back against the Rays tomorrow. I hope they sleep well, I really do. I’m not sure I will.
Just a tip for Ron Gardenhire: Don’t walk the bases loaded to pitch to A-Rod. I mean, didn’t he hurt the Twins enough in the ALDS last year? Sheesh. Talk about not learning your lesson. If I were a Minny fan, he’d have a lot of ‘spaining to do.
* Brett Gardner’s homer. He can run AND hit for power?
* Francisco Cervelli’s triple. He can catch AND run the bases?
* A.J. Burnett’s six-plus innings. He can look good WITHOUT having his best stuff?
* Derek Jeter’s hit. He can shoot one off the pitcher’s leg AND get a double out of it?
* Joba’s eighth inning. He can strike out the side AND get the win?
* Mo’s ninth inning. He can be 40 years old AND pitch like he’s 30?
Okay, that’s the good news – that the Yankees opened the homestand with a sweet 8-4 victory, that A-Rod passed Frank Robinson on the home run list and that we continued our dominance over the Twins. The bad news? Yet another casualty. When I posted a few weeks ago that the Yanks were dropping like flies, I had no idea the situation would keep getting worse. But now Swisher? If he goes on the DL, I can’t be trusted to watch Randy Winn and Marcus Thames patrol the outfield. I really can’t.
And now for those who haven’t read this story, take a look. We love baseball or we wouldn’t be wasting time on my blog, but this kid loves baseball in a way that should inspire all of us.
I said “almost.” I wouldn’t be writing this post if I’d been rendered completely speechless by today’s 14-3 drubbing of the Red Sox, but I’m still kind of stunned by the Yankees’ offensive outbursts the past couple of days. I mean who is this guy anyway?
We’ve all enjoyed Cervelli’s energy and enthusiasm, both behind and at the plate, and he’s fast for a catcher too. But five RBIs today? Seriously? Wasn’t he called up to the bigs because of his defense? He didn’t hit much at all in the minors. So is he just a case of a kid who’s maturing at precisely the right time? Or has Kevin Long worked some hitting coach magic on him? Either way, he’s so much more than Posada’s understudy the way Molina was.
Teixera‘s three homers? Less surprising than Cervelli’s barrage of hits but no less awesome. I mean, Tex is a big star who always busts out in May and is doing what he was brought to the Yankees to do. But still. The guy was a beast today.
CC? He battled. He could have won the game if Mother Nature hadn’t intervened. He wasn’t perfect but I always feel secure with him on the mound.
A-Rod? No, he hasn’t been belting homers lately, but timely hits/walks/stolen bases? You bet. For a slugger, he sure can run.
Pena? How about his key double and great play at second today. I was so glad to see Cano inserted in the lineup as the DH, but Pena is such a valuable asset.
Swisher? Was it taking off the extra weight in the off-season? Making a conscious decision to focus harder on the job? Eating a few of Tex’s granola bars? All I know is he’s contributing in ways I never expected this year. And we got him for Wilson Betemit.
Gardner? I used to groan when he came to the plate. Now I can’t wait to see him in the on-deck circle because the chances that he’ll get on base and then steal are so much greater right now. Who doesn’t love having him on the Yankees? Especially with Granderson on the DL.
Joba? Good to have him in the pen where he belongs. Period.
The bad news about today’s game was, of course, watching yet another player go down. When I saw Aceves‘ foot slide during his delivery, I thought he had pulled a calf muscle or hammy and expected him to be lost to the DL. But it’s his back, so a few days of rest should do the trick. The problem is who pitches in his place? Mitre is starting for Pettitte. Park is on the DL. Robertson has been looking like someone who needs a demotion to Scranton. So who’s our long man tomorrow if A.J. falters? Can we put out an all points bulletin for Brett Bombko?
Well, I said I didn’t know what to say, but apparently I was wrong. The Yankees will do that to me. They keep getting hit with injuries and keep winning anyway. Pretty amazing.
Oh, one last thing. Can somebody please ask Fox to replace Buck and McCarver? They were particularly annoying today – from the discussion of whether the word “doves” is plural for “dove” to the miracle that is Dustin Pedroia. Thank you.
Somehow, Francisco Cervelli always makes the most of his starts. He may be the Yankees’ backup catcher, but is there anybody who doesn’t think he could be the #1 catcher on some other team? Yeah, he’s young, but he does stuff that other catchers don’t….Like run. What a concept. Hit a triple? No problem. Lay down a bunt? Piece of cake. Chase a foul ball into the dugout? Easy.
(Love Tony Pena ducking.)
No, it wasn’t as daring as this.
But it was entertaining just the same. And I don’t know how Cisco can concentrate with that big helmet on his head. It would be like me trying to write this blog looking like this.
Speaking of backup personnel, how about Pena as the backup shortstop and Gardner as the backup center fielder and Joba as the backup closer. They all did a great job. Sure, A-Rod worked a bases loaded walk, but the A-list guys were basically no shows in the offense department tonight. Here’s who did show up though: AJ. Can we please have a hand for his spectacular seven-plus innings?
He may have been inconsistent last season, but so far he’s looking like a potential 20-game winner, along with CC, Andy and Huuuuughes. To sum up, Tex and A-Rod aren’t doing squat and yet the Yanks are still winning series. It’ll be scary for the opposition when those two get their act together.