It certainly looked dismal for the Yankees in the rubber game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday afternoon as the Bombers trailed the visiting Blue Jays 8-6 going into the 9th inning. After two quick outs, Toronto reliever B.J. Ryan surrendered a hit to Alex Rodriguez and an RBI hit by Hideki Matsui. This brought the score to 8-7. Jason Giambi pinch hit for Molina and quickly fell behind in the count with 2 strikes. On the third pitch from Ryan Giambi launched a bomb into the right field seats to notch a walk-off 2-run homer and the win.
This game seemed to have it all. Good pitching that went to bad pitching. It even featured a dropped fly ball out that would have been a sure double-play in the 5th inning. However, the man of the hour is the surging Jason Giambi as he gave life to the Yankees when all seemed lost.
Tonight the Yankees play host to the Kansas City Royals in a 3-game weekend set. Game time is set for 7:05 EDT and the weather looks good for game time.
Ever since the Yankees announced that they would be converting stellar reliever Joba Chamberlain to a starter I had my doubts. I still do. Personally, I do not see the point of trying to convert a reliever who has had great success in the past, to a starter in the middle of a season that has been a struggle from opening day. The reality is that if the Yankees are going to make the post-season (and that is no guarentee at this point) then they need a great set-up man to shorten the game. In the past, during the glory days, if the Yankees were leading after the 6th inning it was basically over for the opposition. Before the Yankees decided to make this move with Joba the game was basically over going into the 7th and 8th innings when the Yanks had the lead. Joba was lights out against opposition during 2007 and early on in 2008. He was unhittable. Now, the dynamic in the bullpen is quite different as the relievers all try to settle into various roles. Kyle Farnsworth (0-1, 6.10 ERA) is not the answer the bullpen needs to get to Rivera. He has proven, at least to me, that he cannot carry the burden of late inning games, especially when the Yankees need a stopper. He simply is not it and I think he is gone after this season when his contract expires (thank goodness!).
Another issue, in all fairness to Joba, is how the Yankees are going about this transition.
First, when you publicize the fact that he is only going to throw 65-70 pitches versus the opposition it stands to reason that the opponents will go to the plate and make him go deep into the count. Borderline pitches are simply ignored and this is exactly what happened in the game one series versus Toronto during Joba’s first start. Second, if the Yankees are really serious about converting Joba into a starter then there are two schools of thought: (1) Send him to the minors to stretch him out and then bring him back into the rotation without telling the world how many pitches he is limited in throwing. (2) Wait until the 2009 pre-season camp and then stretch him out there. For me, it simply makes no sense to try to convert a pitcher who has been lights out for the Yankees in the middle of a season that has been a struggle, to say the least.
This move, in my view, was made by people who do not have a baseball brain among them. In the long run I fear that this will hurt the Yankees, at least as it pertains to the 2008 season. Yankee fans only understand one thing: world titles. No one cares what they did in June or September. What Yankee fans care about is getting to the World Series. This is what we are used to and this is what we want. This move will not result in what Yankee fans are used to seeing: The Yankees in October.
It was an historic time at the Stadium last night as the Yankee Captain and Shortstop, Derek Jeter, passed Mickey Mantle on the all-time Yankee hit list. That gives him 2,416 hits as a Yankee. Of course, the best part of this game was the Yankees win (5-1) and Mike Mussina’s 9th win of the season. He is now 9-4.
IBB: Matsui (by Litsch).
Pitches-strikes: Litsch 98-59, Camp 16-8, Downs 8-6, Benitez 10-7, Mussina 103-67, Ohlendorf 18-10, Farnsworth 13-9, Rivera 14-10.
Ground outs-fly outs: Litsch 10-5, Camp 3-0, Downs 2-0, Benitez 1-1, Mussina 6-6, Ohlendorf 2-1, Farnsworth 1-1, Rivera 1-0.
Batters faced: Litsch 26, Camp 5, Downs 2, Benitez 3, Mussina 23, Ohlendorf 4, Farnsworth 3, Rivera 3.
Inherited runners-scored: Camp 1-1, Downs 1-1.
Umpires: HP: CB Bucknor. 1B: Joe West. 2B: Ed Rapuano. 3B: Ed Hickox.
Weather: 70 degrees, rain.
Wind: 6 mph, Out to LF.
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner
Following back-to-back singles by Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter, Bobby Abreu drove in the game-winner in the 12th with a single. This shows that the lineup is starting to heat up and get runners in when the Bombers have opportunities. It is critical to win these kinds of games as the Yanks still find themselves hunting the division leading Tampa Bay Rays (who won last night over the White Sox). With this win the Yanks are still 5.5 games behind the division leaders but there is still a lot of baseball to be played in 2008.
Ross Ohlendorf gets the win while the Twins Juan Rincon gets the loss. Though the Yanks broke through in the 12th this game could have been very different as Ohlendorf dodged bullets in two straight innnings (10th and 11th). In the 10th with 2 outs the Twins Mike Lamb tripled high off the wall in right field just missing a walk-off homer. The Yankee skipper elected to walk the next batter to get to the free swinging Gomez. Ohlendorf promptly got him swinging and ended the 2-out threat. In the 11th the Twins managed to get two runners on with nobodoy out but Ohlendorf then forced the Twins into two flyouts and a strikeout. This opened the door for the top half of the 12th. After the Yankees took the lead Mariano Rivera came in to record his 15th save of the year. As usual The Sandman totally dominated hitters throwing only 10 pitches (7 for strikes) and retiring the side in order.
Mike Mussina got the support he needed, especially from the 2-4 hitters of the Yankee lineup Friday night as the Bombers defeated the Twins to move to .500 baseball on the season (5.5 games back of the division leading Rays). With this win, Mussina moves to 8-4 on the season. Lets take a look at what the 2-4 hitters did on the night:
With Matsui going 3 for 4 he now brings his season average up to .339 and is among the league leaders in hitting. He has sure been the man carrying this lienup through the long hitting drought of April and May.
The struggle continues, however, for the middle relievers, especially Farnnsworth (a dismal 4.44 ERA) as he gave up his 8th homer of the year. The will be a sticky situation as the Yankees move Joba Chamberlain out of the bullpen and into a starter. The Yankees are going to need to figure this out and quickly if they are going to contend for the American League East crown in 2008. Pitching simply wins championships.
Mussina gave up 4 runs in the first inning (2 earned) as he struggled to contain the Twins hitters. The box score will not reveal it but the Yankee defense is really responsible for all 4 of the first inning runs. After Mussina allowed a 1 out single and subsequent walk Duncan fielded a routine groundball and threw wide to second which pulled Jeter off the bag allowing everyone to reach safely. The next hitter shot a groundball within the vicinity of Alex Rodriguez that should have been fielded. Instead, it ran into left field and scored one run for the Twins and loaded the bases. The next Twins hitter then lined a single through the hole between first and second scoring another Twins run and the lead. These first two runs account for the two uinearned runs given up by the Yankees. A single into center followed scoring the Twins 3rd run of the inning and keeping the bases loaded. After Jeter stopped a ure single into left to ge4t the force at 2nd base (and the Twins 4th run) Mussina got the 3rd out on a comebacker to the mound.
|Perkins pitched to 2 batters in the 5th.
Bass pitched to 2 batters in the 7th.
IBB: Matsui (by Guerrier).
Box score official statistics approved by Major League Baseball Office of the Commissioner
Look for a Game 2 outlook later today.
The New York Yankees (26-27 .491; last place) travel to Minnesota to play the Twins (27-25 .519; 2nd
place) on Friday night (the first of a four game set) after a day off on Thursday. Game time is set for 8:10 PM EDT. The probable pitchers are RHP Mike Mussina (7-4, 4.39 ERA) vs. LHP Glen Perkins (2-1, 2.77 ERA). This will be another left hander that the Yanks have faced in the last 5 games. Mussina, in his last start against the Seattle Mariners, gave up 4 runs in five innings of work throwing 74 pitches. When Mike Mussina pitches in Minnesota his record is 10-5 with a 3.42 ERA. Perkins, on the other hand, is coming off a great previous start (a 6-1 win vs. Detroit). These are going to be games the Yankees will need to win as they complete this road trip and get ready to head back to Yankee Stadium.
Of the Yankee hitters only Shelley Duncan has faced Perkins this year going 0 for 3. However he is hitting .364 lifetime versus the lefthander with 2 HR and 5 RBI. Melky Cabrera is the only other Yankee to have faced Perkins lifetime. The Twins lineup has seen Mussina many times before with Justin Morneau hitting .364 against him. Jason Giambi continues to be on a tear bringing his average up to .244 from a May low of .150. Perhaps the facial hair has something to do with it!?
Although the Twins are in 2nd place in the American League Central division it is an awefully weak division in general. The division leading White Sox are 29-23 with a 2-game lead on the Twins. This means that the Twins will be quite hungry playing in their own park as they work to catch the division leaders. As usual, this series will rely on pitching to get the job done. The real question will be how Mussina handles things as he tries to get back on track and how Perkins deals with the potentially explosvie lineup of the Yankess.
As mentioned, it looks like Giambi has got his swing sorted out but the question really lies with the rest of the Yankee lineup. If the Yankee starters can get some early run support they may be good enough to take the game into the 7th inning. It doesn’t look like Joba Chamberlain will be available for this 4-game set since it looks like he is being fast tracked to start in Yankee Stadium during the Blue Jays series. We will have to wait and see how that turns out. Mariano Rivera continues to dominate hitters with a scorching 0.39 ERA and 13 saves out of 13 opportnities in 21 games.
The weather is calling for scatters thunderstorms at game time though that doesn’t mean much since they are playing in the Metrodome.
Each Friday I will feature a “Yankee Stadium Moment” detailing a great moment from past years at Yankee Stadium. This will be my way of sending off the old stadium and welcoming the new one.
Also, Each Wednesday I will be highlighting a “Yankee of the Week” which will be an in-depth biography and discussion of one selected and current New York Yankee player.
I hope you enjoy these features!
Look for a recap of Games 2 and 3 of the recent Yankees-Orioles Series as well as a look ahead to the 4-game set with the Minnesota Twins sometime today.
MLB is reporting that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are currently leading all vote getters for this years All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. There would be no fitting send off to the Stadium (other than a 27th Woirld Title!) than to see these two guys on the left side of the infield in the mid-summer classic. You can read more about this news release here.
My apologies to my readers for not getting the game 2 outlook out on time. There is not much point to doing it at this time as the game is currently underway. Look for a combined recap of Game 1 and 2 Wednesday morning as well as an outlook of game 3.
I can say this: Rasner looked outstanding in game one although he gave up that home run late to Markakis. More on that later.
Enjoy the game.