Tagged: Jose Veras

Fun Finale At The Tropicana Club

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Oops. Not that one.
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As effective as Scott Kazmir was last night, Joba absolutely dominated the Rays tonight in the Yankees’ 6-2 victory.
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He’s been brilliant since going home to Nebraska during the break. I’d like to know what they fed him while he was there, because he’s been a different pitcher since he came back.
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No more shaking off Jorge. No more strolls around the mound between pitches. No more nibbling around the strike zone. He’s been aggressive, no-nonsense, focused. As a result, he only gave up three hits over eight innings – a memorable performance.
It was such a positive outing that I’m not even going to bring up the reliever who shall remain nameless, except to say he’s struggling and I don’t know why and he’s starting to remind me of guys who are no longer with the team.
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I was fuming that Girardi had to drag Mo into the game in the ninth, but he took care of business in his usual it’s-just-my-job sort of way.
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(Is there a stat for how many times he’s shaken Jorge’s hand after getting the final out?)
Jeter’s triple in the first inning set the tone, as did Tex’s single to drive him in. Then the home run derby kicked in: Cano (after fouling a ball off his knee – ouwww), Melky, Tex. The boys were unstoppable.
Speaking of Tex, on Twitter tonight I was kidding around with MLBlogger Yankeemeg about the resemblance between Jarrod Washburn and Kiefer Sutherland. Have you noticed?
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Then we moved on to Eric Hinske (I kind of figured he’d play in this series, giving Damon or Swisher a night off from the turf) and how he reminded us of Kevin James.
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I was trying to come up with a celebrity double for Tex and couldn’t think of one. And then Yankeemeg said, “He looks just like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.” And you know what? He does!
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It’s easy to be lighthearted when your team is in first place and they just won a big series. Let’s see how jokey I am after the Yanks and White Sox go at it tomorrow night. I’d really like to keep the train moving, but I know better than to take anything for granted.
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Vigilante Justice In The Bronx

No, I’m not talking about AJ Burnett versus Nelson Cruz. By the time AJ threw over Cruz’s head in the fifth, prompting the home plate umpire to warn both dugouts, the Yankees had a comfortable 9-3 lead over the Rangers.
I’m talking about Mark Teixeira versus this guy.
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If Vincente Padilla is the Rangers’ idea of improved pitching, the Angels have nothing to worry about in the AL West.
When Padilla came in high and tight to Cano in the first inning, I figured it was just one of these.
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But when he plunked Tex on the arm in the second, I started to pay attention – especially since he also pitched inside to Jeter and went up and in on A-Rod. I said to my husband, “This guy better not go all Daniel Cabrera on us,” referring to the former Orioles pitcher who made a career out of disabling various Yankees.
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Then the fourth: Padilla hit Tex again, this time on the butt. Mark was not amused, and Girardi accompanied him to first base in an attempt to talk him down.
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But Tex continued to seethe, his nostrils flaring.
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When A-Rod grounded into a potential double play, Tex slid hard into second, lifting Andrus high into the air. (Elvis almost left the building.)
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Jeter scored the go-ahead run, and it was his 1,500th, making him the fourth such active player and placing him in the company of Ruth, Gehrig and Mantle as the only Yankees to achieve the mark.
The rest was gravy.
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Cano had a big RBI single. So did Posada. Matsui hit a three-run shot off Holland, Padilla’s replacement (the same guy he homered off in Texas last week). Posada added his own three-run dinger against Madrigal in the sixth, boosting the Yanks to 12-3.
AJ pitched well, even without his A-grade curve ball, and Bombko and Veras finished it up.
Did I cringe when Veras came in for the ninth? You bet, even with a nine-run lead. Michael Kay was yammering on yet again about what great stuff Jose has. “You don’t give up on a guy who throws 96 mph,” he said. 
Um, did he forget about Kyle?
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I digress. It was a very satisfying win for the Yanks, who now have the best record in the AL at 10 games over .500. The error-less streak is over, due to an errant throw by Posada, but I’ll take good pitching and timely hitting every time.

My Mercy Flight To Cleveland

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No, the Yankees aren’t going to win every game for the rest of the season, but I thought I’d better get myself on a plane after their 5-4 walkoff loss to the Indians and talk to them before Monday night’s series finale. The game is on ESPN, and I don’t want them embarrassing me in front of the entire country.
My sources told me the players would be having dinner at The Chophouse and Brewery, a steak place in Cleveland’s trendy Warehouse District.
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So I took a cab from the airport and went straight there. I found them in a private room. They were, without exception, eating this.
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I introduced myself to the group, and explained that while I didn’t want to interrupt their good time, I felt it necessary to address them, fan to team. They were very polite and invited me to join them. CC was kind enough to order me a steak after I admitted that all I’d eaten on my flight was this.
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“What’s on your mind, She-Fan?” asked Jeter as he was scarfing down onion rings.
“You were safe on that bang-bang play in the sixth inning today,” I said. “I know the calls even out over the course of the season, but if the ump had gotten this one right, you’d have scored on Tex’s homer.”
“Did I hear my name?” asked Teixeira from the other end of the table. He was eating his steak with his hands, not a care in the world.
“Congratulations on your thirteen-game hitting streak,” I said. “Longest of your career, right?”
“You got it,” he said, then patted A-Rod on the back, causing him to choke momentarily on his carrot, which he had ordered without salt or butter. “Since this guy came back to us, I’m on fire.”
I met A-Rod’s eyes. He seemed a little down. “You’re not a hundred-percent, are you?” I said.
“No, She-Fan,” he said. “My lateral movement just isn’t there. My surgeon told me not to put too much pressure on myself, but I feel like I cost us the game today. I couldn’t make a play on Peralta’s hit.”
“It was Coke who gave up the leadoff walk to Crowe,” I pointed out.
With that, I moved over to where all the relievers were sitting and delivered a stern lecture about throwing strikes and challenging hitters, instead of nibbling and falling behind in counts. I think Jose Veras cursed at me in Spanish, but Mo couldn’t have been nicer. He asked me how long I’d been a Yankee fan. When I said I was coming to see them play the Nationals on June 17th, he offered me free tickets. “I already bought some on StubHub, but thanks,” I said. What a sweetheart.
I spent some time with Matsui and his translator. I told him I was very concerned about his knees and wondered if they were the cause of his weak hacks at the plate.
“I’m not ready to retire,” he said testily. “And I’m not going to the Giants in a trade.”
“Fine,” I said. “Then stop pulling off the ball. You looked awful today.”
I got up from my chair and walked to the center of the room. “Listen, I didn’t come here to criticize. I just want to say thanks for a great month of May. You guys really got it together and I’m proud of you.”
“Woohoo! We rock! We roll! We have the most fun of any ballplayers!” exclaimed Nick Swisher. He did a little dance in his seat and then high-fived Johnny Damon.
“Tomorrow’s game against the Indians marks a brand new month,” I continued. “I want you to keep up your winning ways. That means effective starting pitching.” I cast a long, piercing look at Joba, tomorrow’s starter. “It means hitting with men in scoring position.” I wagged a finger at Jorge, who struck out and hit into a double play today. “And no misplays in center field.” I shrugged at Gardner, who was still grumbling about that ball that sailed over his head for a double.
“It goes both ways, She-Fan,” said Jeter. “We need you to do something for us.”
“Name it,” I said. “Anything.”
“Don’t move.”
“Don’t -“
Before I could speak, AJ came running out from the restaurant’s kitchen and slammed a banana cream pie in my face.
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My trip was so worth it.

Oh, Say Can You Cee Cee?

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He was dominant in tonight’s 10-5 win over the Indians, but indulge me a sec.
Before I start pontificating about the game, I absolutely must rave about the movie I saw this morning. My film festival group showed a screening of Disney/Pixar’s animated feature “Up,” which opened around the country yesterday. GO SEE THIS MOVIE! It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, male or female, romantic or cynic. It’s just plain great – a funny, heartwarming story about living life to the fullest. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Here’s the trailer, which doesn’t do it justice.
Back to the game. I wasn’t sure how CC would react to pitching in front of the Cleveland fans, but he didn’t display any nerves at all. In fact, the only drama in the first inning was when Victor Martinez fouled a ball off his knee and stayed down on the ground for an eternity.
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I admired his desire to play hurt, but come on! He was holding up the game!
Basically, this contest boiled down to the following formula:
great starting pitching + flawless defense + solid offense = win.
The Yankees had it all going on. CC lost a bit of focus with a 7-0 lead in the fifth, but for the most part he cruised.
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Tex and A-Rod, in particular, made some great plays behind him, and the offense seemed very relaxed, as if they knew they wouldn’t have to play catch-up.
Jorge – tater!
Swisher – tater!
Jeter – 2 RBI single!
Cano – ditto!
And all seven runs came off of Carmona, who’d been tough on the Yankees in the past. We tacked on three more against a reliever named Ohka, not to be confused with Okra.
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Everybody contributed in some way. A-Rod isn’t running well, but his arm is one of these.
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Matsui can’t run well either, but he had a couple of doubles.
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And Gardner runs really well, of course, and scored after taking a simple walk.
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Robertson shut down the Indians in the eighth, but in came Veras for the ninth. The Yanks were up 10-3, but I couldn’t stand to watch.
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I did hear Michael Kay say this: “If they could straighten out Veras, it would really stabilize the bullpen.”
Right. And pigs can fly.
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What did Veras do this time?
Served up a solo shot to Choo.
Hit DeRosa in the arm.
Allowed a double to Francisco.
I’m sure he’s a very nice person and will perform admirably for some other team. But enough. It’s time for the Yanks to send him packing.
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But I quibble. The important thing is that the Yanks won again, extended their errorless streak to 16 games and are still in first place for another 24 hours. Life is good.
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Another Ridiculous Day But With A Happy Ending

It feels as if I’m at war with the entire service industry. Yesterday, I battled Delta, American Express and Apple. Today, it was this place.

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Since I finally got my plane tickets for my New York trip, I figured the next item on my agenda was securing seats at Yankee Stadium. I bought tickets on StubHub.com, but when the site wouldn’t let me download them – and told me I hadn’t even made a purchase – I called their 800 number. It took them ONE HOUR to fix the problem and allow me to print out my tix. Come on, people! You’re making me crazy!
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The good news is I’ll be going to see the Yanks on Wednesday, June 17th – my first time at the new Stadium. They’re playing the Nationals, not exactly the team of my dreams, but who knows? It could be a great game. If anybody is planning to be there that night, please leave a comment. It would be fun to meet up.
Now, onto tonight’s 9-2 win over the Rangers, which not only gave us the series win but also put us into a tie for first with the Red Sox – and represented our 14th straight game without an error.
My highlights:
Tex going yard in the first inning.
Jeter getting on base five times.
Cash lining a double and a single AND throwing out Andrus.
Matsui knocking two out of the park.
Gardner bunting for a single and scoring.
Damon making two great running catches.
Robertson throwing strikes.
Wang finally making an appearance – and looking like Wang.
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And, of course, there was the brilliant outing by AJ. He wasn’t economical. He only lasted six innings. But he struck out seven and held the mighty Rangers offense to three measly hits. Good job, guy.
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My lowlights:
Veras serving up Kinsler’s two-run shot. ENOUGH ALREADY!
Swisher being our only option in right field.
Berroa “pinch running” with the speed of this.
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Luckily, I got the Rangers’ feed again tonight, which meant more merriment from their two crack broadcasters, Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve.
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They really make a game fun. Here’s a sample.
Josh, before the first pitch by Holland, the Rangers’ rookie starter: “Not to put any pressure on Holland, but it’s 79 degrees with low humidity.”
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Tom, assessing the Rangers so far this season: “The batters haven’t walked that often. And they have 376 strikeouts – the most in the major leagues. And the pitchers have the fewest strikeouts in the majors. It doesn’t matter.”
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Josh, referring to Saltalamacchia: “They traded Mark Teixeira for a bunch of green bananas, and Salty was the first to ripen.”
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Tom, after being told that AJ did not lead the majors in strikeouts last year as he’d thought: “I appreciate the correction. I don’t like to misinformation people.”
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Josh, after Matsui’s second homer: “Let’s change the subject. How much time have you spent in Japan, Tom?”
Tom: “I’ve never been to Japan, Josh.”
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Tom, after Cano
tacked on a homer in the ninth: “Cano is a pretty good hitter.”
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And my absolute favorite, after the game was over…
Josh: “The Yankees have an off-day in Cleveland tomorrow.”
Tom: “The Rangers have an off-day in Cleveland in August.”
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I’ll miss those two smooth talkers.

No Pie

The Yankees almost staged another miraculous comeback against the Phillies, complete with a walkoff and the requisite pie in someone’s smiling face.

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But it didn’t happen. Instead, the Yanks lost 4-3 in 11 innings and I collapsed onto my bed, exhausted.
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I mean, we were totally supposed to win that game. It was all set up. We got eight good innings out of CC. We sent Hamels packing after six and made him shake his head in disgust after Tex hit one out with a broken bat.
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We survived awful at-bats by A-Rod and Matsui, who looked like they were trying to hit the ball with one of these.
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And we survived a ninth inning appearance by Veras, who walked a batter but didn’t give up a run.
“He possesses good stuff, but the problem is his location,” said Al Leiter, stating the obvious and forcing me to stand up and yell at the TV. “I DON’T CARE IF HE HAS ‘GOOD STUFF!’ HOW GOOD COULD IT BE IF HE CAN’T THROW IT WHERE HE WANTS IT?”
(Sorry. I lost it there for a sec.)
We not only got to Lidge for the second straight day and tied the score in the bottom of the ninth (thanks to Cano and Melky yet again), but we escaped trouble in the top of the tenth after Mo gave up a single to Ibanez, who was a Yankee killer for the entire series and made me want to strangle him.
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But then came the bottom of the tenth. With some reliever named Condrey on the mound for Philadelphia, Jeter and Damon singled and we were THISCLOSE to a walkoff win. Except for two problems.
Tex: grounded into a double play.
Pena: flied out.
Inning over and Girardi turned to Bombko for the top of the 11th. (Supposedly, Aceves wasn’t available. Why not? He didn’t pitch yesterday.) 
Here was the result.
Utley: walked.
Ruiz: doubled in the go-ahead run.
Just a word or two about Ruiz, who killed us like Ibanez did only on both offense and defense. The guy blocks the plate better than most catchers in the majors. Impressive.
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We went down meekly, 1-2-3, in the bottom of the frame. Game over. No celebrating. At first, I was bummed, but who can complain about a team that goes 8-2 during a home stand?
In fact, I think I’ll celebrate anyway. The Yankees put the pies on hold, but that doesn’t mean I have to.

Another Day, Another Walkoff!

Yesterday I was down in the dumps. This afternoon I’m bouncing off the ceiling. Am I bipolar? No! I’m a baseball fan!
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The day began very cheerfully. The Cinema Society I belong to as part of the Santa Barbara Film Festival started back up, and there was a screening this morning. I figured I could go see the movie and be back in time for the game.
The movie was called “My Life in Ruins,” and it’s a romantic comedy with Nia Vardalos, who starred in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” It opens on June 5th and I recommend it to all chick flick lovers. Some funny lines. Beautiful scenery. A happy ending. Here’s the trailer.
There was a Q&A with the director after the screening, but I left the theater and raced home to catch the first pitch. Little did I know the game would have a happy ending, just like the movie.
As usual, the Yankees were having trouble getting anything going against a rookie pitcher. What’s up with that? Isn’t there video to look at, scouting reports to read? Why is this always a problem?
And speaking of rookies, when Mayberry hit that homer off Pettitte in the fifth to put the Phillies up 4-1, I admit I thought Andy and the Yanks were in big trouble.
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But then Jeter’s solo shot in the sixth pulled us to 4-2, and suddenly I had hope. I started standing in front of the TV like a maniac, pleading with them do something – anything – against Happ, Durbin and Madson. Nothing. Nothing! They seemed totally handcuffed.
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But Phil Coke held the Phillies in check, and Veras – yes, the guy who regularly walks leadoff batters – dispatched the Flyin’ Hawaiian. Definitely a good omen.
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When Lidge took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with the score still at 4-2, I had a hunch there would Yankees magic. And was there ever.
Damon: walk.
A-Rod: two run homer.
Cano: single.
Melky…..walkoff double!!!!
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(Are those Chinese characters on his right arm?)
The Yankees won 5-4 in dramatic, late-inning fashion once again. A-Rod silenced those who say he never hits in the clutch. Cano continues to be impressive at the plate. And Melky…..Well, let’s just say I’m glad Cashman didn’t trade him for Mike Cameron.
There was joy in Yankeeville…
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And lots of love for the Melk Man…
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And a double dose of pie for these two.
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These come-from-behind wins are the best thing on TV. As someone (wish I could remember who) once said, “Baseball games are like soap operas with box scores.” So true.