Greetings Yankee fans!
And welcome to the eighth installment of Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
This Weekend in Boston
The Yankees were looking good coming into Boston on Friday, having won two out of three against Oakland. Rolling into Boston, the Yankees were 4-8 against their division arch-rivals, and with a 6 and ½ game lead were looking to gain ground on them in the standings.
Friday night was shocking to say the least. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 20-11, the most combined runs (31) ever scored in a Yankees/Red Sox game. Hideki Matsui was responsible for seven of those 20 runs, going 2-for-6 with two homers.
Mastui’s seven runs batted in set a career-high for most RBIs in a single game, and it marked the most runs knocked in by a Yankee at Fenway Park since Lou Gehrig in 1930.
The Yankees were 15-25 with runners in scoring position on Friday night. That’s astonishing, considering how poorly they played the next day.
Saturday afternoon the Yankees got squadooshed, losing 14-1. The Bronx Bombers went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position while A.J. Burnett got touched up for nine runs in five innings. The only bright spot for the Yankees was a solo shot by Nick Swisher.
In the rubber game Sunday night, the Yankees were able to get to Josh Beckett early, and they won 8-4. Matsui was at it again, adding two more home runs and two more RBIs.
In addition to Matsui’s two blasts on Sunday, Derek Jeter hit a lead-off homer, his 16th of the year, and Robinson Cano took Beckett deep, his 19th home run of ’09 which ties his career-high home run mark.
Alex Rodriguez also went yard, clubbing his 22nd homer of the season as Beckett gave up five long balls, the most he’s ever given up in a game.
The Yankees have five players on their team with 20 homers or more, and they will most likely break the record of six players with 20 homers or more this year.
Mark Teixeira leads the team with 31, Rodriguez has 22, Matsui has 23, Nick Swisher has 21, and Johnny Damon has 22. With so many players close to and over 20, the Yankees lead the majors in the home run category with 191.
The Yankees and Red Sox will meet for the final time in the 2009 regular season at Yankee Stadium, Sep. 25-27.
Boston will most likely be playing to keep their Wild Card hopes alive as the Yankees (at press time) own a 7 and ½ game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East Division and the best record on baseball at 78-46.
The race is looking to be all but over with the Yankees in the lead.
When he started off the season in Baltimore and got roughed up, I was none too happy. He’s had some struggles throughout the season, probably a result of just getting acclimated to pitching in New York, but I have to say, CC Sabathia has been great this year.
The 29 year-old ace has been outstanding this season, especially in the month of August. In this month alone, Sabathia has gone 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA, and opponents are only batting .207 against the big left-hander.
I think the biggest game he pitched this year was against the Red Sox on Aug. 8, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Jacoby Ellsbury broke it up with a single.
He tossed 7 2/3 innings against the BoSox and gave up no runs on just three hits while walking two and racking up nine strikeouts.
Sabathia said to the media after the game that it was his best start, he felt good, and that his delivery was where it needed to be. He also said he thought he was throwing the ball a little better, and it looked like that in his next start in Seattle.
Against the Mariners on Aug. 13, Sabathia gave up one run on just three hits. He walked two and struck out 10 batters, setting a season-high mark.
I think the Yankees feel confident they can win every time he gets the ball, and that can prove to be huge in October.
I also think the Yankees can really rely on Sabathia in the post-season, knowing not only that they can win with him pitching, but also knowing that he can take the ball on short rest if they need it. He did it with the Brewers last year, and I’m sure (if need be) he can do it again this year.
Sabathia is truly a horse.
My prediction at the beginning of the season was 18, maybe 19 wins for Sabathia in his first year in pinstripes. But right now he’s got an MLB-leading 15 victories with a little over a month left in the regular season.
I say if he wins his next game (which will probably come on Saturday vs. Chicago–who he beat on Aug. 2) he’s got a real shot at 20 wins, and possibly the Cy Young Award.
A lot of people are talking up Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira to be the Most Valuable Player this year, but Sabathia has sort of flown under the radar in the Cy Young discussion.
CC might be “Cy Cy” this year.
A.J. Burnett’s Recent Struggles
It’s hard to explain what’s happened to A.J. Burnett. He seemed to be rolling along nicely, owning a record of 6-2 (over his last 10 games) going into his start on Aug. 12 against the Blue Jays.
Since then he is 0-2 with a 3.83 ERA.
Burnett did not have it on Saturday when he got hammered for nine runs in five innings, a game the Yankees lost 14-1 in Boston. A lot of Yankee fans I heard from said things like, “A.J. is terrible,” and “It’s all A.J.’s fault.”
But I think every Yankee fan that bashed Burnett after Saturday’s loss has to look at the bigger picture. Burnett had a bad game, and it happens. It’s happened more frequently in Boston this season where he is 0-3 this year.
But in his previous 11 starts before the start he made last Monday in Oakland, Burnett was still 6-2 with three no-decisions–all three no-decisions Burnett received were games the Yankees won, indicating that Burnett still gave them a chance to win when he took the hill.
Oh, and by the way, Burnett went 4-0 in the month of July and the Yankees won all five games he started.
His last start in Oakland was somewhat strange; Burnett pitched all eight innings, only giving up three runs, but he took the loss. The Yankees were shutout, 3-0.
You have to put that game into perspective, though; He had one bad inning (the fourth) when he gave up the three runs that cost the Yanks the game. But the Yankee offense really hadn’t given him any help by not scoring any runs, even when they had the opportunity.
They rebounded nicely, winning the next two games in Oakland, but Burnett still gave them a chance to win the day he pitched. The hitters just didn’t capitalize.
Then of course came the forgettable game on Saturday in Boston. Yes Burnett had a bad day, but then again the whole team was off.
I noticed that Jorge Posada launched the ball over Burnett’s head while simply tossing the ball back to him after a pitch–very sloppy. The two seemed out of rhythm all day, and they both noted that after the game.
The Yankees would not be where they are now without Burnett. He’s had some rough games in Boston, and aside from his brilliant game at home vs. the Red Sox on Aug. 7, they have been a thorn in his side all year.
The fans have to look at the better games Burnett has pitched this season, and right now he could even be dealing with a bit of a tired arm, as noted on ESPN these last couple of weeks.
It’s late in the season and he’s been going almost seven innings every game, so the wear and tear may be weighing on him a little bit. (Not trying to make excuses for A.J., but it is a possibility)
I still believe Burnett will be dominant down the stretch run and into the post-season, with a possibility of winning 15 or 16 games this year.
He hasn’t won since July 27 at Tampa Bay, but he’ll have the chance to change that this Thursday afternoon at home against Texas.
Burnett (10-7, 4.08 ERA) will take the hill against Dustin Nippert (4-2, 3.95 ERA).
The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty, Part II
Last week I was only on chapter one of Buster Olney’s book The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty. I am now nearly finished with the book, and so much more clued into a lot of things about the Yankees and even life in general.
As some Yankee fans might remember, there was a young outfielder by the name of Ricky Ledee that got the call to the show (and the Yanks) in 1998.
I can actually remember watching the Yankee game with my family when he hit his first career home run.
I left the living room for a second, thinking the new kid would strike out. I heard my family yell for joy, and when I came back, Ledee was rounding the bases after crushing his homer.
But little did I know that when Ledee was 12 years old, he got into a fight with his father Antonio Ledee, who happened to earn money as a musician. Antonio was set to leave on a trip and asked Ricky for a kiss goodbye.
Ricky, still angry with his father, refused.
It turns out Antonio was killed in a car accident on the same trip, and it haunted Ledee years later. I mean, how couldn’t that haunt you? I would feel unbelievably sad for the rest of my life. But Ledee vowed to never be mean to anyone for the rest of his life.
This particular story really tuned me in to what’s important in life sometimes. I know to never leave a conversation mad or with hurtful words, because you never know when or if you’ll ever see that person again.
Aside from some life lessons taken from the book, I learned why the Yankees traded David Wells after the 1998 season.
I hadn’t realized until I read the book how poorly Wells conducted himself sometimes.
Before he had gotten to be good friends with David Cone, they really didn’t like each other; Cone resented the fact that Wells did not keep himself in good enough shape (Wells was even fined $20 for every time he was too heavy while playing in the minors) and even called Wells a “quitter” once.
Reading about his off-the-field antics just wasn’t pretty. Wells once broke his hand during an altercation outside a San Diego bar. Bars were a huge part of Wells’ life, as he was known to raise a glass or two.
At the beginning of Spring Training in ’99, the Yanks had heard mumblings of what Wells had in mind if he didn’t get his contract renewed by the Yankees. He planned to come to camp out of shape and make a nuisance of himself.
The Yankees basically thought, “Any other player we would shake it off as BS. But with Wells…he’s probably serious.”
So the first day of Spring Training in 1999, Wells was dealt to Toronto along with Graeme Lloyd and Homer Bush for Roger Clemens. When this transpired in 1999, I really had no clue why the Yanks made this deal, as Wells was beloved by the Yankee Universe and Clemens was hated.
But now I see why they made the trade; they had good reason to. Heck, I would’ve done the same thing.
I said it last week and I’ll say it again, if you are a Yankee fan, do yourself an enormous favor and read this book. Olney is very insightful; very direct. He takes you through that fateful game seven of the 2001 World Series all the while telling you what was happening off-the-field and in the lives of the Yankee players.
I really don’t want to give much more away; I’d like you all to read it for yourselves. I know every Yankee fan will enjoy the book as much as I have. It’s a GREAT read, I highly recommend it!
Well, that does it for this week’s blog. I’ll be back next week with different topics, highlights, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!