Tagged: Jon Lester

Stumbling to the Finish Line

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This race will be over soon. One way or another, the Yankees will get through this Boston series, the one at Fenway and the one in Toronto, and they will be in the playoffs. Don’t ask me how, given how badly they’re playing right now, but somehow it’ll happen. Not with Ivan Nova, however, and certainly not with Chad Gaudin. Nova has been intriguing and I wish him well for next season, but today he confirmed that he unravels way too easily.
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And Gaudin just needs to be gone. Period. As for the Yankees offense, Lester is a very good pitcher, just like David Price is a very good pitcher, but where’s the opportunistic, hungry, attacking lineup we know and love? When a guy like Lester or Price gives up walks, you have to take advantage and make something happen. Are we doing that? No. Why? Because we are playing like dead people!
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Or maybe, as someone said on Twitter, the real Yankees have been taken over by the body snatchers and are just pods.
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I know, I know. Yesterday I was chirping about all the homers we hit. Today I was happy to see Granderson and A-Rod go deep. But other than smacking home runs, what is this team doing? What? If I were Girardi….Well, if I were Girardi I wouldn’t have brought in Gaudin when the game was still winnable, but that’s another story… If I were Girardi, I would insist on a closed door meeting with the boys before Sunday’s finale, remind them that last year was last year and this year is this year, tell them that maximum effort is required ASAP and that the idea that “there’s always the wild card” is not acceptable. I would, in other words, get mad. Vein-popping-out-of-my-forehead mad.
I was pretty mad myself after today’s game, but then I went for a walk on the beach. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Santa Barbara, and I came upon a couple in the process of getting married.
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After I took this pic I saw their getaway car all shiny and pretty waiting for them.
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It was a 1955 T-Bird in pristine condition, and it – and the newlyweds – got me thinking that life’s too short to obsess about baseball. Seriously. At least for the next 24 hours.

Never Mind What I Said Yesterday

Today’s game reminded me why baseball can be so frustrating. Way too many if only’s. Way too many missed opportunities. Way too many of these.
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Huuuughes was great after a shaky start, but Lester was better. Still, the Yankees were in it until the bitter end and could have/should have launched a come-from-behind victory.
In the “if only” category:
Marcus Thames’ ball that almost went over the wall for a homer.
Austin Kearns’ screamer that went foul.
Gardner’s failure to steal after being inserted as a pinch runner for A-Rod.
In the “missed opportunities” category:
Granderson’s K with bases loaded.
Swisher’s three Ks.
Berkman’s pop-up as a pinch hitter. (Back came the boos.)
An overall 0-for-9 with RISP.
In the just-plain “suckitude” category:
Posada’s throws to second base. Can he please not catch three games in a row?
Was there good news today? Sure. The pitching was stellar, even if Joba did get slider happy in the ninth. And Swisher and Kearns made terrific catches. But mostly, I turned off the TV and felt like cleaning the house, just to blow off steam.
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Speaking of blowing off steam, did everyone read about the Jet Blue flight attendant who flipped out at JFK?
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I’m flying Jet Blue into Kennedy on Friday night for the start of my vacation back east. If that guy had been on my flight, I would have whipped out the She-Fan Cam, gotten him on video and posted it here. But not to worry. I’ll be bringing the Cam with me, just in case.
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A Tale Of Two Pitchers

Theirs was sterling.
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Ours was highly breakable.
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And that was basically the story of tonight’s loss. A.J. looked fine in the first couple of innings, but then he did his traditional Fenway Fall-Apart routine after having pitched great so far this season. Homers by Swisher and A-Rod (congrats to Al on tying Frank Robinson) were about all the offense the Yanks could muster against Lester. What else is there to say about the game? Oh, I guess I could rag on Marcus Thames for his adventurousness in left field – and for arguing the strike zone so vociferously that Girardi had to come out to defend him and then got tossed. And I suppose I could question why A-Rod and Jeter were pulled for the scrubs early; I was surprised we threw in the towel.
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Mostly, I’m just happy the Yankees won yet another series. Yes, I would have loved a sweep so that I’d been able to use the shot Melissa emailed me earlier in the day. Well, what the heck. No point in it going to waste, so here it is.
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What to make of A.J.’s aversion to Fenway? I can’t say I blame him. I wouldn’t want to pitch there either. But that’s his job and he needs to figure out how to do it. Oh, wait. No, he doesn’t. Not until October anyway.
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This Time, The Yanks Win The Battle Of The  Pens

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Actually, Russell Crowe looks enough like Joba to play him in the movie version of tonight’s Yankees-Red Sox contest. But who needs a movie when we were treated to the real thing – yet another roller coaster battle that had me yelling at the TV. (It’s a good thing this isn’t a podcast, because I’m really hoarse.)
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Lester looked unhittable early, just like Beckett did on Sunday night, but he headed for the showers after going five innings and giving up four runs. A.J. had a nearly identical line (five innings, four runs/three earned), but he only gave up one walk – a nice stat for him – and had five K’s. He wasn’t The Horrible A.J. and he wasn’t The Amazing A.J., so I guess I’d call him The Better-Than-Satisfactory A.J.
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I know he frustrates people, but I always look forward to watching him pitch. He’s got tremendous stuff and he’s unpredictable – you never quite know when or if he’ll unravel.
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But let’s talk about the bullpen.
Aceves: Tremendous.
Robertson: Shaky, but Joe had a quick hook.
Marte: Bizarre lollipop pickoff move, but he did his job with Ortiz.
Joba: Looked almost like the 2007 Joba, complete with the old fist pump.
Mo: Do I even need to say he got his first save of the season?
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The picture wasn’t all rosy for the Yankees, by any means. They stranded 10 runners and were 3-for-14 with RISP. They had chances to break the game open and didn’t (hence, my yelling at the TV), and were sloppy on defense, committing three errors and allowing that ball to drop between Jeter and Thames, whom I’m calling this year’s Angel Berroa. Still, there were many “Yay!” moments:
Swisher: Two doubles? I like it. Must be his svelte new bod.
Cano: Talk about a great start to the season — he even walked!
Johnson: The guy drove in the game-winning run by using his much heralded eyes!
A-Rod: Delivered in the clutch, picking up where he left off last year.
Granderson: Got a hit off the lefty Lester (shock and awe).
So the Yankees won their first game of 2010, which was a relief. And let’s face it: It’s really, really sweet to beat the Red Sox at Fenway. I love when that place goes all quiet and the fans seem, well, preoccupied.
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P.S. Here’s my nightly reminder about the Cooperstown Cookies contest. If you haven’t entered, click here.

Round 1: The Yankees in a Knockout

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There was a lot to like about tonight’s 9-5 win over the Red Sox. Yes, the victory reduced our magic number to three. And yes, it’s always fun to beat Boston, even if the games do take a zillion hours. But this one was full of genuine baseball pleasures. I’ll go around the horn and mention a few of my favorite moments.
#1) Joba didn’t suck.
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I don’t know if it was the “stern” lecture Girardi gave him before the game or if my video chat had an effect on him. Either way, it was his most effective and efficient start in a long time. He worked quickly, threw strikes, and – best of all – didn’t unravel after a few mistakes.
#2) The Bombers stole seven bases.
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They got great jumps and were able to move runners up, make things happen. Very small ballish of them, wouldn’t you say?
#3) A-Rod put on a hitting clinic.
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Not only did he steal three of the seven bases, but he’s really stepped it up in the RISP department lately, knocking ’em in with singles, doubles, homers, you name it. An impressive performance tonight.
#4) Cano’s back-handed flip to Jeter to start the DP and end the game made me faint.
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Talk about a smooth move. I watched the replay over and over and applauded each time.
#5. Phil Huuuuughes is a beast.
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He only pitched to Bay, but he got the strikeout and continues to be a great eighth inning guy for the Yanks.
And now for the not-so-wonderful parts of the game:
Melky’s comebacker that hit Lester (glad he’s OK).
Damon’s moronic error.
Leadoff walks by Albaladoodoo and Coke.
Otherwise, a good time was had by me. More, please.
 

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Sending XX to CC

Talk about a dominant performance. CC Sabathia was a beast, giving up only two hits in the Yankees’ 5-0 win over the Red Sox. Both offenses looked flat (how could they not after those draining 15 innings on Friday night), but thanks to a hit here and a walk there, plus Jeter’s two-run shot in the eighth, the Bombers managed to pull off another “W.”
They’re a hot baseball team right now, and I hope they ride their “hotness” as long as they can. Sunday night’s game won’t be easy with Pettitte facing Lester. But I summoned Andy to my house for a private chat. Here’s how it went.
As you can see, we got along great. Now I just hope he wins the game. 

Yankees/Red Sox Star Of The Game

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Jerry Meals was behind home plate for Boston’s 6-4 victory at the Stadium on Monday night. According to the umpires’ web site, Meals was born in October 1961 in Pennsylvania and resides in Ohio with his wife, Robyn, and their five children: Laci, Peyton, Jansen and twins Rylee Ann and Raegan Grace. In the off-season, he enjoys hunting and woodworking.
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If only he called balls and strikes with such precision. Both teams seemed frustrated with him, but it was Jeter who argued (as much as Jeter will ever argue) and Girardi who shot out of the dugout to chime in, ultimately getting tossed.
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Joe’s ejection ignited the Yanks – temporarily – as Damon and Tex hit back-to-backers against Lester and turned the manager into a human version of this.
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But a come-from-behind win was not to be on a night that only began after a two-plus-hour rain delay. (This was one of those times when it’s good to be on the west coast.) Lester dominated while Yankees pitchers allowed eight of these.
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Hughes was in trouble right from the get go. Ortiz came into the game slumping? No problem. Phil kept throwing him fat pitches and – presto! – no more slump. Did the rain delay affect him on the mound? Was that last outing in Detroit a fluke? And why was he shaking off Molina so many times that it made my own head shake?
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Aceves did a respectable job in long relief (Brett Bombko must be wondering who he has to blackmail in order to get to the bigs), but Edwar Edwar Edwar. Eat something, would you please?
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You’re the size of a carrot stick. And walking two out of the three batters you faced puts you in the Jose Veras category, which could lead to this.
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Molina had a lousy night behind the plate – a rarity for him.
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He looked like a tub of lard trying to catch up to those two balls in foul territory. Maybe he should lose a few pounds and give them to Edwar.
Congrats to Tex for hitting his first homers – one from each side – this season. He’s probably pissed that he struck out in the ninth with two on (so am I), but at least there were signs of life there.
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Will the Yankees beat the Red Sox on Tuesday night? I guess it will depend on Joba’s ability to deal with his mother’s arrest. I’m sure it won’t be easy. On the other hand, maybe he’ll welcome the chance to focus strictly on baseball instead of on the mug shot that’s too pathetic for me to post.
O.K. Fine. I’ll post it for those who haven’t seen it. Here is Mrs. Joba.
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Small Ball Losers

Actually, what the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim demonstrated tonight against the Red Sox was too-small ball. They couldn’t catch the ball (I’m talking about you, Mr. Blinded-by-the-Lights, Gary Matthews Jr). They couldn’t hit the ball (I’m talking about you, Mr. 0-for-4, Chone Figgins). And they couldn’t run the bases (I’m talking about YOU, Mr. I-Should-Have-Been-Lifted-for-a-Pinch-Runner, Vladie Guerrero).

Oh, Vlad. What happened to you? You used to be so trim and athletic when you were with Montreal.
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Then you moved to the Angels and fell for their nachos with cheese, I guess. Now look at you. So porky.

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What’s more, you made such a bonehead move, trying to go to third on Hunter’s pop-up. Haven’t you ever seen THIS?
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That’s what your coach was telling you to do if you’d bothered to look. Oh, well. The rally monkey doesn’t really have magical powers, does it.
Yes, of course I grudgingly tip my cap to Jon Lester for an outstanding performance. And to Manny Ramirez Jason Bay for driving in those handy runs.
Speaking of Jason, there’s one more thing I’d like to get off my chest tonight. In TBS’s pre-game coverage of Dodgers-Cubs, Dennis Eckersley said on national TV that Manny was a “bad guy” and Bay was a “good guy.” Is that was a color commentator is supposed to do before a major league baseball playoff game? Engage in character assassination?
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It’s true that Manny shoved the Red Sox’s traveling secretary and slapped Youkilis in the dugout (or maybe I have these backwards and he shoved Youkilis and slapped the traveling secretary). And far be it from me to stick up for even a former Red Sock. But maybe, Dennis, you shouldn’t be throwing stones. I seem to remember you had “issues” of your own.
And so we move on to Day 2 of the division series tomorrow after the Phillies, Dodgers and Red Sox won their games today. Will the Rays handle the White Sox or vice versa? Honestly? I just wish the Yankees were in it.