With way too much time on my hands this off-day, I let my mind drift. That’s what vacations are for, right? Anyhow, I started to imagine all the excellent things that could happen during Friday night’s series opener against the White Sox. Here are a few.
Now that the x-rays were negative and A-Rod is listed as day-to-day, I can’t help but joke about the incident. I mean poor Fat Elvis. He hasn’t done much to endear himself to Yankee fans, and the mishap during BP didn’t help. But the best line belonged to Jeter when the writers asked him if A-Rod would be okay after writhing on the ground in pain. “He’ll be all right,” said the Captain. “He always looks like that when he gets hit.” Was Jeet inferring that his teammate was a drama queen?
Onto to the game. CC scared me early, giving up those two runs, but he settled right down and got to work, shutting the door on the Red Sox and making it look pretty effortless. He had offensive help from Granderson and Pena (who’s been the most unlikely RBI machine!), as well as some great defense behind him. Mo pitched a perfect ninth to secure the “W.” But the Yanks were also aided and abetted by Victor Martinez, who made me realize how lucky we are to have Posada, even if he’s 100 years old. Martinez simply cannot throw runners out, much to Lackey’s dismay.
Anyhow, I’m still feeling the “rivalry” isn’t as intense as it used to be, but maybe with Beckett on the mound tomorrow I’ll feel more fired up. He does bring out the worst in me.
On the eve of the All Star break, I thought it was the perfect time to assess the state of the Yankees Universe and discuss what needs to be done to insure a successful second half. Here goes…
“With the best record in baseball, the Yankees are already on a pace to win it all – again.”
“Our starting rotation is strong, Cliff Lee or no Cliff Lee.”
“The Captain is perking up at the plate. He just has to stop swinging at first pitches.”
“Swisher is a better #2 than Nick Johnson ever would have been.”
“Tex is finally heating up – for real – and his defense has been outstanding.”
“A-Rod keeps knocking in runs. And HR #600 will quickly lead to #601, #602, #603, etc.”
“Is there really anything Robinson Cano can’t do this season?”
“Having Posada healthy means that Cervelli can go back to being a good backup.”
“Granderson has been somewhat disappointing so far at the plate. More productivity would go a long way toward making people stop wishing AJax would suddenly re-appear.”
“Marcus Thames isn’t useless after all. It turns out he’s a decent DH/pinch hitter.”
“Brett Gardner is the most exciting Yankee in years. He has to keep getting on base though.”
“Mo is Mo – a precious asset never to be taken for granted.”
“Dave Robertson has pitched better lately, but more consistency would be helpful.”
“Chan Ho Park is OK for one inning maybe – but that is all.”
“Damaso Marte doesn’t scare me as much as he did early in the season.”
“Joba….Well, if Joe keeps running him out there in the 8th I’ll need a defibrillator. He must be fixed or I won’t make it through the rest of the season.”
“Chad Gaudin is not Alfredo Aceves. Alfredo Aceves is no longer Alfredo Aceves. Therefore, we need a better long man.”
“We need another reliable arm out of the pen, period – someone not named Jonathan Albaladejo.”
“We need a bat off the bench. I love Ramiro Pena and Colin Curtis, but are they the players I want to see pinch hitting in a big game? Nah.”
“We need better communication between the Yankees and the media when it comes to player injuries. No more ‘Yes, he’s hurt. No, he’s not hurt.’ Just tell us.”
“It’s not necessary to have the grounds crew dance to ‘YMCA’ anymore. It really isn’t.”
“Where’s Hank Steinbrenner? And why isn’t he firing off Steinbrennerisms this year?”
“Why can’t YES re-hire David Cone and phase out John ‘the Snooze’ Flaherty?”
“We need to keep Dave Eiland from ever leaving the team again.”
“And finally, there should be more Yankees merchandise for she-fans – from Yankees lipstick to Yankees nail polish (the same color Jorge wears) and especially Yankees hair products. I mean, who wouldn’t want pinstriped hair?”
That concludes my address. God Bless America and God Bless the New York Yankees.
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.
I was just glad the Yankees were the lucky recipients. After Gardner’s triple, I thought, Wow. Maybe Roy won’t be “on” tonight. Then came the blasts from Grandy and Swisher and even Ramiro Pena hit a ball that looked like it might go out. By the way, whoever said Pena resembles a young Ray Romano nailed it.
OK, so they’re not that identical. Never mind.
Getting back to the game, everybody figured it would be a classic pitcher’s duel and it wasn’t. It was only a matter of time before Roy was out of there, and CC had a rough couple of innings before settling down and throwing a five-hitter. Tex’s homer was sweet, but it was Cervelli’s single that shut the door on the Phillies.
Plus it was great to see Chan Ho doing well against his former comrades, and Dave Robertson isn’t scaring me as much as he was earlier in the season. But, naturally, with the win came news of yet another injury.
You strained an oblique during batting practice, Sergio? Really? Do you not realize that we’re already without Aceves, our best long man? Seriously, thanks a lot for leaving us with Gaudin for that role now. Shivers.
I guess I just have to hope that A.J. will go at least seven tomorrow night. I also hope that both Paul O’Neill and Al Leiter will be back in the YES booth with Michael Kay. I still miss Coney, but O’Neill and Leiter were funny together.
The Yankees swept the Astros. Yay. Huuuughes won #9. Posada had another granny. Cano went deep. Pena made a terrific play at third and got a crucial base hit. And Mo wrapped things up after fine jobs by Marte, Park and Joba. I thought I’d feature today’s stars of the game in a tribute to….soccer. No, I’m not into it, but I’m trying. And yes, Pena’s missing – I inserted myself instead – but only because I couldn’t find a decent picture of him with a big enough head and didn’t want to spend my entire afternoon searching Google images. Enjoy and Go Yanks.
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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.