OK, technically it wasn’t a twin bill. It was two games – a day/night doubleheader – but who cares. What the Yankees got today was really good pitching. I guess our group meditation for Javy yesterday worked, because he was waaaaaay better than in his previous starts, and he should have/could have won his start. Instead, it seemed as if the Bombers’ bats flew away.
Ramiro Pena killed us at the plate today, and Jeter continued to look out of sorts.
Getting back to the pitching, how amazing was Huuuuuughes in the second game? I mean, there was actually a debate about whether he’d work out as the #5 starter. Hello? The guy’s 5-0 with a miniscule ERA. He’s no rookie anymore, and he’s certainly proven he has heart.
I was worried the bats would still be AWOL, but thanks to a couple of steals and timely hits, the Yanks got on the board early. Then our old friend Phil Coke helped by serving up some meatballs (with an assist from a reliever named Figaro, who had no clue where the ball was going), and we ended up with my favorite of all things: a blowout.
What’s more, Joba pitched a strong eighth and Mo – yes, our closer who’s been on the shelf for an eternity – came in for the ninth and picked up right where he left off. And speaking of the God of Closers, I hope everyone got to watch the piece about him on ESPN’s E:60. If not…
Maybe I should just move to Panama. He might need someone to oversee his various charitable activities or work at his house, cleaning his pool, washing his car…
Never mind. So. The losing streak is over. Done. Goodbye. Of course, as always seems to be the case this season, every win comes with another injury. This time it’s Swisher. Seriously. Sore biceps? Don’t even start.
There was no TV coverage of Yankees-Tigers in Lakeland, but by all accounts Grandy’s over-the-shoulder grab of Miguel “I’d rather party with the White Sox” Cabrera’s deep fly ball to center was sensational. Maybe they’ll show highlights tonight, but in the meantime I went browsing for what many consider to be the greatest circus catch of all time – and found it.
With any luck, Granderson will treat Yankee fans to a lot more heroics. He was great at the plate today too – two singles and a walk. Maybe the Yanks should play the Tigers every day. Well, unless Joba is pitching. Yeah, he’s “working on things.” It’s spring training. Time to try new pitches, tinker with mechanics, not worry about the stats. I get it. But six runs over 2+ innings? Now that I’ve become a convert and decided he should be in the pen, why not just put him there and get it over with?
I also would have liked to have seen Damon in a Tigers uni, but he didn’t play because of a problem with his toe.
And I missed getting a glimpse of Phil Coke’s new look. Apparently, he has gone from this…
Yeah, I know. That’s Jayson Werth. I couldn’t find a shot of Coke with all his facial hair. One of these days…
Congrats to Tex for hitting his first homer of 2010. May there be many more to come, preferably during the season opener at Fenway.
Now that our long national nightmare is over and Johnny Damon has made a deal with the Tigers, it seems appropriate to bid him – and other former members of the 2009 Yankees – a formal farewell. Let’s start with Damon himself.
From now on (or at least for the 2010 season), his uniform will have one of these on it.
Judging by the one-year, $8 million the Tigers are said to be paying him, he should have stayed with the Yankees. The weather’s better in New York and so are the restaurants. But farewell, Johnny. Good luck to you.
Jose Molina won’t be wearing the pinstripes either.
Instead, his uni will have a little birdie on it.
He wasn’t much of a hitter, but I sure liked his catching and I know the Yankees pitchers did too. Goodbye, Jose. Have fun in Toronto, eh?
Melky has already been photographed in his Braves uniform and it’s not all that’s changed about his appearance. He’s grown a beard, if you can call it that. (Hat tip: LoHud)
Oh, Melk Man. You weren’t the greatest outfielder we ever had, but I’ll miss all those walk-offs. What I won’t miss is your habit of sliding into first. May the Tomahawk Chop be with you.
Hideki Matsui in an Angels uniform was jarring at first.
But didn’t I just read that his knees are hurting already? Not a good sign. I send him greetings and best wishes. I hope he gets more of a kick out of the rally monkey than I do.
And finally, I must bid a final adieu to Brian Bruney and C-M Wang. Here’s one last look in their Yankees garb…
…because the next time we see them they’ll be sporting this.
Oh. I just realized I forgot Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy. Out of sight, out of mind. Baseball is a cruel business.
I know, I know. It’s spelled Melancon. Every now and then I can’t help myself and go all phonetics with ballplayer’s names. What can I say. The point is that I felt compelled to write about Melly (I bet that’s what Girardi calls him) with pitchers and catchers showing up in Tampa as I type this. There’s been so much talk about whether Hughes or Joba should be in the pen, not to mention what the Yankees will do without lefties Coke and Dunn. It dawned on me tonight that Melly’s season could be just as key. Let’s take a closer look.
OK, so he doesn’t have much of a neck. Big deal. Neither did Walt “No Neck” Williams, who was an All-Star with the White Sox once upon a time.
And he’s very fair, in hair and skin, but so was Shane Spencer.
Oh, wait. That didn’t work out very well. Here’s a much better example.
But appearances aside, if Melly has a breakout season in 2010, it would be huge for the Yanks. And it’s not impossible. He was outstanding in Scranton in 2009, throwing 11 scoreless innings over his first six appearances, striking out 17 and walking only 3. That’s insane. Then he struggled with his control when he got called up to the Bronx – an understatement. Who can forget May 5th in Boston when he walked all three batters he faced and was promptly sent packing?
When he was brought back to the majors late in the season, Girardi was reluctant to use him in pressure situations and with good reason; he was still somewhat of a wild man.
And yet baseball scouts seem to like his stuff (I know, that’s what they said about Jose Veras too). I’m just saying he could play a pivotal role in the pen this year if he figures out how to throw inside without hitting people.
How do I feel about today’s trade? I think the Yankees will survive without Phil Coke. Ian Kennedy? I bet he thrives in the National League. The one that really hurts is Ajax; allowing a top prospect to leave the franchise is always a bitter pill to swallow.
On the other hand, look at the guy we’re getting. Curtis Granderson is not small potatoes!
He’s an excellent defender and will bang the ball into the short porch in right (formerly called Damon’s Deck, soon-to-be known as Granderson’s Garage, Granderson’s Garden, Granderson’s Gazebo, take your pick).
You don’t believe he can play center field? Watch this.
And here’s a little dinger he hit against the Phillies into their short porch.
And the Yankees are getting a guy who’s not only comfortable with the media but who grew up eating breakfast with his parents. Isn’t that sweet? (Try to block out the annoying woman. If I were Granderson I would have put duct tape over her mouth.)
He even takes time out to show his healthy bod in national magazines.
And another thing….In 2007 he was an ESPN analyst during the Yankees-Indians ALDS series. Having played in Detroit, he knew all about midges and would have told Gene Monahan to stop using that bug spray on everybody. Grrrr.
Oh, and he was nominated for the Roberto Clemente Award for his charitable work. His Grand Kids Foundation promotes education in inner cities.
Did you happen to catch the number on the back of his uniform? That’s right. It’s 28.
(Hat tip to the LoHud blog for the pic.) I wonder if he’ll keep it or let Girardi wear it. Either way, it’s a good omen.
So much for the Good A.J. showing up tonight. I don’t know if he pitched badly because of the belabored-to-death “short rest issue” or if he would have pitched badly if he’d been rested for six months. I also don’t know if Chad Gaudin would have done any better, although I doubt it. What I do know is that the Phillies were up 5-1 in the third when Girardi told A.J. to take his stuff and go away.
Robertson did a nice job in relief, as did Aceves. (Great catch by Gardner at the wall on Werth’s fly ball.) But Coke? I won’t even make a Pepsi joke. There was nothing funny about the homers he surrendered to put the Phillies up 8-2 by the time Hughes arrived in the seventh. OK, I can’t resist.
Maybe no pitcher on the planet can keep Utley from hitting homers. He’s put on a brilliant show during this series, and whoever can get him out deserves a medal.
But how about walking him? Or moving him off the plate? Just a suggestion. The Yankees actually made a ball game of it tonight against Cliff Lee. Down 8-2, they mounted a comeback in the eighth when Damon singled and Tex and A-Rod doubled, chasing Lee. Cano’s sac fly tacked on another run. Could they tie it up in the ninth? I had hope after Posada doubled and Matsui singled. Up came Jeter, the Captain, the guy you want at the plate with the World Series on the line. And what did he do?
Double play, right. Yes, another run scored for 8-6, but now we had two outs. Damon pulled off another single – go, Johnny, go! – but Tex struck out to end it. I have one question for Marky Mark: Where are you hiding your fearsome bat?
And so the Phillies live another day. Well, two days. The series goes back to the Bronx for Game 6 on Wednesday night. My friend Judy is always happy when the Yanks are home. She lives in Florida now, but her dad was a ticket taker at the Stadium when she was a kid.
And Brendan, who comments frequently on this blog, met up with someone who vowed to help the Yanks put the Phillies away. Jesus, it turns out, is a Yankee fan.
Yes, the Twins were tired. Let me get that out of the way right now. But here’s the story of tonight’s game: the Yankees just wouldn’t follow the script that their detractors have been peddling for months.
“CC Sabathia can’t pitch in the postseason.”
He gave up two runs (one earned) over six-plus innings, struck out eight and issued zero walks for the victory. Just a miserable outing, wasn’t it?
“Jeter’s too old for any more postseason heroics.”
He got the Yankees’ first hit of the game, drove in their first runs with a homer to tie the score at 2-2 in the third, and was on base four times. Oh, he’s old all right.
“Nick Swisher is a useless party boy.”
He doubled in the fourth to put the Yankees up 3-2. Big, big hit. The opposite of useless.
“A-Rod is a postseason choker.”
He knocked in two runs with RBI singles in the fifth and seventh – both with two outs. He also made a couple of sparking plays at third. I guess the only ones choking are those who didn’t watch him hit in the clutch this year.
“Matsui and his bad knees are ready for the glue factory.”
He smacked a two-run homer in the fifth to give the Yanks a comfy 6-2 lead. Maybe there’s life in those knees after all.
“Joba Chamberlain is too messed up by the Joba Rules to tie his own shoes.”
Even I was thinking it might be true. But he trotted to the mound in the eighth, following terrific relief performances by Hughes and Coke, and retired Young on two pitches. The crowd roared. He’s just fine.
“Mo is bound to fall apart one of these days.”
He didn’t set the Twins down in order in the ninth, but he got Harris and Tolbert to strike out. That’s not exactly falling apart, is it?
“The new Yankee Stadium is a bandbox where anyone can hit a cheap homer.”
The Yankees did have two, but how come the Twins didn’t hit any – especially with the swirling wind conditions?
“You can’t buy a championship, She-Fan.”
No, you can’t. And one ALDS win is hardly proof of anything. But I’m extremely grateful that I root for a team that can afford the likes of CC Sabathia. I’d rather have him over this…
OK, forget the last item. I bought it this morning, because my old one died, and had it installed just in time to watch the game. It’s mounted on the wall in my living room, and it’s now my “lucky TV.” I really hope it does its thing again on Friday so I don’t have to return it.
Carmen Miranda was a Brazilian singer/dancer/actress in the ’40s and ’50s. She was famous for wearing fruit on her head.
But I’m talking about this Miranda.
Juan is a Yankees farmhand who was called up earlier this month, inserted into tonight’s game and – with two outs in the bottom of the ninth – singled off the leg of Kyle Farnsworth to score Hinske and give the Yanks a thrilling (yes, I know the game didn’t matter) 4-3 win over the Royals – the team’s 15th walk-off victory. Naturally, he earned a face full of whipped cream.
What is going on with the Yankees? Even when they play less than perfect defense, even when they can’t generate much offense against a tough pitcher, even when their starter is just back from his father’s hospital bedside, they find a way to win. Speaking of AJ…
Three hits over six-plus innings with eight strikeouts? Not a bad tune-up for a guy people were so worried about a couple of weeks ago. He looked great and I can’t wait for him to make his first postseason start against them…
The offense against Lerew, the Royals promising starter, amounted to solo shots by Swisher and Tex. The two runs might have been enough if Phil Coke hadn’t come into the game in the seventh suffering from a brain cramp.
First he spazzed out trying to field Gordon’s bunt. Then he threw wildly on Anderson’s fielder’s choice. Then he completely blanked on Maier’s grounder; he should have thrown home to nab the runner scoring but instead went to first for the out. Oh, Phil.
With the Yankees down a run, it was nice to see Robertson and Bruney hold the Royals scoreless in the eighth. But it was even nicer to see Farnsworth take the hill for KC in the ninth. Ah, the memories.
Poor Farnsy. Cervelli singled off his glove/hand/someplace. Hinske singled off him too. Cano clocked one of his pitches for a deep sac fly, scoring Cervelli. Hinske stole second on him – HINSKE! – and went to third on the catcher’s error. And up stepped Miranda, who got the winning hit when the ball caromed off Farnsy’s shin. The indignity.
Maybe the night had the happy ending it did because of the pre-game ceremony spotlighting Jeter for being the all-time Yankees hits leader, Melky for hitting for the cycle, and Mo for getting his 500th save and receiving his plaque from Yogi.
The expression on Mo’s youngest son’s face says it all for me right now.
It was such a happy day. Yes, there was a one-hour rain delay. But the Yankees swept the Sox with a 4-2 victory, notched their 100th win of the season and clinched their 16th division title. And it was all because:
* Pettitte was solid for six innings.
* Bruney was as effective as he’s been all year.
* Mo recorded his 44th save.
* Cano got his 200th hit.
* Melky homered to put the Yanks on the board.
* Tex started the offense going with a single in the sixth.
* A-Rod fouled off what seemed like a dozen pitches before singling – and ending Bryd’s day.
* Matsui battled Saito, then singled home Tex and A-Rod to put the Yanks up 3-2.
* Tex homered off Bard in the eighth for insurance.
There were some nifty defensive plays too, but bottom line? The Yankees were down early and came back late – yet another display of how this 2009 team rolls, even when the conditions are less than ideal.
Winning the division and getting back into the playoffs feels great, especially after having missed out on the fun last year. I realize that “there’s still a lot of work to do,” as Jeter said. But I’m savoring the moment with some other Yankee she-fans.
I thought I owed it to the Yankees to speak to them personally. It was the least I could do to show my appreciation. So no lectures this time, only gratitude and congratulations.
I realized after I finished my chat that I forgot to mention Dave Eiland. Wang too. CMW? Can you read English? Wherever you are, I hope you’re doing well and I expect to see you back with the Yankees in 2010. OK, if you can’t read English, here’s what I said:
Well, one thing is for sure: last night’s victory over the Angels wasn’t a fluke. The Yankees came back and beat them again today 3-2. It was yet another game featuring a near heart attack by me.
The Yanks took the lead in the fourth – Cano singled with runners in scoring position! Shocking! – and the burning question throughout the rest of the game was would they hold onto the lead or do a disappearing act?
AJ had dominating stuff – 11 strikeouts – but found himself in a jam in the sixth, allowing the Angels to score a couple of runs. Marte got Figgins to fly out and ended the threat, which was major, but he needed Coke to help him shut down the Angels in the seventh. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense had been lulled to sleep, and no insurance runs were forthcoming. Maybe that was because Girardi went with the “B” lineup today?
All I know is that with Huuuughes and Aceves unavailable and Bruney and Edwar undesirable, the job of pitching the eighth inning was left to…..Ian Kennedy?
The same kid who couldn’t win a game last season?
Talk about a pressure situation for Kennedy, who is fresh off surgery to repair an aneurysm. I wouldn’t have blamed him for being rusty, nervous, crappy or all of the above. But, aside from hitting Kendrick and walking Matthews and Figgins (OK, so he was rusty, etc.), he came back to dispose of Aybar and pitched a scoreless inning. I was sooo relieved. Sweaty too.
Mo appeared for the ninth and took care of business. The Yankees fly back to New York, having beaten a team they needed to beat. Yes, some of the players got battered on this trip – Posada and his toe, Swisher and his leg, Hairston and his wrist – but Pettitte seemed healthy, AJ looked back on track and Gaudin didn’t make me hide under the bed.
Will the Yanks be able to clinch the division title during the Red Sox series this weekend? That would be so sweet I can taste it.