Tagged: Oakland A's

Vazquez As Mop Up Man

He was good and Moseley was not, so why not use him in a game with a big lead? He was effective and held the A’s in check to get the win. Should he be put back in the rotation? I don’t know. I still don’t trust him. The person I do trust lately is Thames. My God, the guy has turned into a bona fide slugger.
Swisher and Tex had hot bats too, and while Jeter continues to look schlubby at the plate his defense sparkled tonight.
But I need to change the subject. Sure, it’s great that we won the series opener, but could we talk about the weather for a sec? I’m going to the game on Friday – my first trip to the Stadium this year. Nova will be pitching and I have nice seats, and I’m really looking forward to it. There’s just one hitch.
Earl. Category 4. Possible landfall on the East Coast on Friday. Will it land in the Bronx? Please no.

I Love Sweeps

Last night the formula was CC + A-Rod = Victory. Tonight it was A.J. + Tex/Swisher = Victory. I know people don’t want to make too much of Dave Eiland’s return to the team, but it’s not a coincidence that A.J. has looked like a different pitcher since Eiland came back. He’s gone from God awful and grouchy…
…to focused and fabulous.
Sure, A.J.’s defense helped him out tonight (sometimes I just sit there and marvel at the plays Tex makes – I guess I didn’t realize he was that good), but his stuff was nasty and the Oakland hitters were overmatched. Luckily, the Yankees hitters weren’t. They worked Gio’s pitch count up and then pounced. Tex’s three-run shot got things going, but what a night for Swisher. A single, double, homer and a walk? Not too shabby for the All Star candidate. (Did we really get him for Wilson Betemit? I’m still pinching myself.)
Even Ramiro Pena (I groaned when I saw Cano was out of the lineup – his back better not be all that sore) had a couple of hits. Marte and Joba did their jobs in the eighth and ninth, and that was the ball game. Oh, well there was one other moment that must be mentioned. Somebody ended up being very embarrassed.
A-Rod overran a pop-up in foul territory and dropped the ball – and himself.
He went face down onto the field, and it didn’t take long before Jeter was laughing hysterically. After A-Rod got up, the two of them kept cracking up and I couldn’t help smiling too.
(Thanks to caitlin on Twitter for the screen grab.)
So for those east coasters who missed the game, it was basically more of the same: good pitching, hitting and defense – a pleasure to watch.

CC + A-Rod = Victory

Once again, the Yankees beat the A’s in the most basic way: dominant pitching, excellent defense and timely hitting. CC amazes me. Even when he looks like he’s laboring, he manages to strike out ten, go seven-plus innings and get the “W.” A-Rod called him a horse in his post-game interview with Jack Curry, and he’s certainly durable. But I think of him as solid, as in this.
A-Rod’s grand slam was the big offensive story, and his solo shot later pulled him to within three homers of 600. Will he hit the milestone in Seattle, the Yankees’ next stop? And if so, how awkward would that be, since the fans there haven’t forgiven him for leaving? My suggestion would be to stick to base hits and doubles until the team is back in New York, where he’ll get a better reception.
yankee fans.jpg
OK, so we won the game and, except for Tex getting plunked and writhing in pain and Posada taking yet another ball off his hand, nobody went on the DL. That’s something. However – and this is a huge however – Mo isn’t going to the All Star game because he’s hurt! Don’t ask me why he didn’t tell anybody and how he kept pitching as well as he did. Apparently, his oblique injury that happened in May didn’t fully heal, and he screwed up his knee during warm ups at Dodger Stadium. This news freaked me out, I must admit.
Supposedly, he just feels banged up and needs the rest. But still. He’s our jewel.
Get well, Mo. The show in Anaheim will go on without you. It just won’t be the same.
P.S. Here’s a pic sent in by Friend of the Blog, cheshirecat. He and his Yankee fan sister Courtney were at the game over the weekend and had to buy a T-shirt in honor of their new favorite player. Courtney is modeling…
Court2 in Gardner t-shirt.jpg

Quick and Easy Recipe

* 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?

Triple Play!

I know. That’s a lot of A-Rod, but he started the play and it was fun to watch. I’d never seen one in real time. And it was extra satisfying since Suzuki was the unlucky recipient and he’d hit a three-run shot off CC in the first inning. The guy just feasts off Yankees pitching.
CC was all over the place – six walks? – but he only gave up four runs and ended up throwing a complete game. If the Yankees had mustered some offense, not counting the solo shots by Thames and Tex, he could easily have squeezed out a “W.” Instead, their winning streak, like all good things, came to an end.
Actually, I’m not crying at all. We won another series. Tex looks like he might be waking up from his April slumber. A-Rod is playing a nifty third base. Nick Johnson didn’t break a bone playing first base. We didn’t have to use Mo again. Life is sweet.


What a difference a day makes. Tuesday night’s game was kind of a snooze, but tonight’s? I was on the edge of my seat every second.
From the first inning, it was clear that Phil Hughes had it going. He worked quickly, threw strikes, had good velocity, looked determined. The A’s batters went down, one after the other (well, except for a walk), and before I knew it, it was the seventh inning – and Hughes hadn’t given up a hit. Would he throw a no-hitter? Would he? My heart was racing and my palms were sweaty.
Into the eighth we went. Hughes got out #1. Big sigh. Then up came Eric Chavez, Oh, no! His stupid chopper back to the mound bounced off Hughes’ chest and he made it to first for an infield single. What a way to break up the no-no! Bummer!
The Yankees offense, by the way, wasn’t exactly teeing off on Ben Sheets. He gave up back to back triples to A-Rod and Cano (yes, triples!), and an RBI ground out to Posada, but that was it. So when Hughes started to falter in the eighth, the Yanks were only up 2-0. Joba allowed one of Hughes’ base runners to score for 2-1. I felt my throat close up at that point.
But the inning ended without further damage and the Yanks provided some insurance in the ninth (huge single for Gardner, scoring Granderson to put us up 3-1). Then came Mo.
Normally, I figure “game over.” But Mo – shockingly – gave up a single to Sweeney, then he hit Suzuki. He looked sort of annoyed by the whole thing and promptly got down to business. The A’s didn’t score, the win was preserved for Hughes and the Yankees’ consecutive series streak is now at five – which hasn’t been matched for the franchise since 1926.
Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira still aren’t hitting, Randy Winn may never get a hit, and the A’s fans and their “Yankees suck” chant were obnoxious, but who cares. The night belonged to Hughes. He was brilliant.

Our Chanting For Javy Worked!

Clearly, all Vazquez needed was for people on this blog to chant something, like members of a cult.
He had a high pitch count, but was otherwise impressive over five innings, only allowing a run. But Girardi brought him back for the sixth (why?) and Granderson and Cano let a ball drop between them (why?), and Suzuki hit a two-run shot that was probably the result of Javy thinking: I should be out of this inning. But he pitched well enough to get the win and he did. As for offense, the first three runs were cheap ones thanks to Gio Gonzalez’s control problems. But then came A-Rod.
I think that ball is still traveling. By now it should be somewhere over the Pacific, heading for Bora Bora. Boone Logan made sort of a mess of things in the seventh, loading the bases. But Joba came to our rescue in that inning and the next.
Marte walked the leadoff batter in the ninth. Girardi immediately pulled him for Mo, even though it was a non-save situation. I love seeing The God of Closers, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t love when the other relievers force him to be his own set-up man. And am I missing something? What’s the point of having Mitre on the roster if Girardi never uses him? I suddenly feel the urge to post a pic of Sergio, just to remind myself of his existence.
The good news is the Yankees continued their winning ways. It was cold in Oakland. They were jet lagged. Jeter was coughing. But all is well in Yankeeville.

Prediction: Javy Gets Win #1 Tuesday Night

OK, so I’m doing some positive thinking here. I’m looking at a photo of Vazquez and repeating over and over, “You will pitch really really well against the A’s.” Here, you try it.
You will pitch really really well against the A’s.” Good. Maybe our group chant will help. It’s way to early in the season to panic about him, regardless of what happened in ’04 or in his first two starts this year. He knows how to pitch. He throws strikes. He’s not a kid anymore. He sounds like he wants to show everybody he can be a winner in pinstripes.
Is it me, or does Kim Jones sound like she’s paying condolences at a funeral whenever she does a post game interview after a loss?
Anyhow, Vazquez will be facing off against a young A’s pitcher named Gio Gonzalez – the lefty who came over to the A’s in the trade with the White Sox for Nick Swisher. Small world, right?
Gio (love the name – sounds like a type of electric car) was the White Sox’s #1 prospect and is said to have a “devastating curveball.” But take a look at his arm during his delivery.
It’s going backwards. Or something. If I were a Yankees batter, I’d work the count and figure that the ball won’t be going anywhere near the plate. But since I’m only a fan, I’ll keep looking at Javy’s picture and chanting. “You will pitch really really well against the A’s.”

Heading To Beantown

The Yankees are probably on their flight to Boston as I’m typing this. I hate flying, but I wish I could be on that plane to congratulate them for a great road trip. I mean, 5-2? Not exactly chopped liver.
(Apparently, this post will have a food thread.)
Tonight’s 3-2 victory over the A’s was a nice surprise. My expectations for Chad Gaudin weren’t very high, so I was impressed with his scoreless, one-hit performance over four-plus innings. He didn’t get the win but he got people out. Yes, he walked five batters. Maybe next time, he’ll be more aggressive and not look like a total chicken.
Speaking of how he looks, here’s Chad before he put on the pinstripes.
And here he is in his Yankees uni.
Raise your hand if you think he looks better without that piece of beef jerky stuck to his chin.
Jeter continued his torrid hitting with a leadoff single, scoring the first run of the game. He’s having an amazing season, and would be on my MVP list. Damon always seems to be on base and he was again when Tex went deep in the fourth, talk about an MVP.
Those two are turning out to be a natural pair, sort of like….well, guess.
(Don’t ask me which is which, although Tex is probably the smoother, more peanut buttery player.)
On the subject of jam, Aceves worked out of a big one in the fourth but came back for the sixth and seventh and gave up a couple of runs. Thanks to an efficient Coke, a rusty-but-nasty Hughes and a totally perfect Mo, the game had a very sweet ending.
Now, on to the Boston series. If I were on that plane right now, I would remind the Yankees of the following:
“Even if you get swept, you’ll still be in first place.”

That said, I would be very forceful in telling them to show up at Fenway with the utmost intensity. Now is the time to put the Red Sox away, because leads can disappear very quickly and there is still plenty of baseball left. Anything can happen. The last thing they need is to play loosey goosey.
“Besides,” I would say to them, “do you really want to lose to Pedroia, Ortiz, Youkilis and the rest of them? No, of course you don’t. So stay hungry, Yankees.”

The Yankees Win – It’s In The Cards

What a weird game tonight against the A’s, who played like stooges.
They committed four errors (not counting the additional ones Nomar would have gotten if the official scorer had been paying attention), and looked overmatched. 
CC pitched like a champ (Amber must have talked to him for me; I owe her lunch at least). He went eight innings and only gave up a couple of solo shots en route to the Yankees’ 7-2 win. Plus, he had A-Rod’s back. Without any fuss, he threw behind Suzuki in the bottom of the first after Alex had been plunked on the elbow in the top of the frame. Both benches were warned, and that was that. Very businesslike.
Jeter had his third consecutive three-hit game, and is playing like a man on a mission. Swisher and Matsui continued to come up big in key spots. And Melky provided the evening’s entertainment. After he was hit by a pitch in the sixth, he tumbled on top of Suzuki, who was down on the ground in search of the ball.
Ride ’em cowboy!
The victory not only halted the Yankees’ two-game slide but elevated them to the first team with 75 wins this season – a very encouraging development.
Since I was dying to know how the Yanks would weather starts by Chad Gaudin and whoever else comes along to fill the slot as the 5th starter, I went to see Patricia Diorio, the tarot card reader I consulted back in February. I wrote about her reading – and how she predicted that the Yankees would win the World Series – in the New York Times. Check it out, if you haven’t already.
Today she reaffirmed her belief that the trophy was, indeed, bound for the Bronx. Thanks to the She-Fan Cam, I caught her on video making her pronouncement. Here’s the clip.
You heard Patricia. If you’re a Yankee fan, start visualizing the final out, the team jumping up and down in celebration, and the presentation of the trophy.
OK, update your visualization. Picture Hal Steinbrenner instead of George crying on Joe Girardi’s shoulder instead of Joe Torre’s. Got it? Good. Now hold the image in your mind and don’t let it go until November!