Greetings Yankee fans!
And welcome to the ninth edition of Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
This Past Home Stand
After last weekend’s series victory in Boston (and the end of a 10-game road trip in which the Yankees went 7-3 on) the Bronx Bombers came home for a six-game home stand.
The home stand started off shaky as the Yanks lost 10-9 in an “almost game” on Tuesday. Down 10-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yanks showed some fight and life, scoring four runs and coming within an eyelash of winning the game.
Rough loss, but they rebounded nicely winning on Wednesday by a score of 9-2 with a good game from Andy Pettitte and timely hitting from Jorge Posada and Jerry Hairston, Jr. (who both homered in the win).
Looking for the series victory, A.J. Burnett tossed a solid game Thursday afternoon. However, I kept asking myself after that game, “How can a pitcher strike out 12 batters and lose?” Well, apparently it’s possible, because it happened to Burnett. He went six innings and gave up three runs on just two hits, walked three and struck out a season-high 12.
The Yankees dropped the series finale to Texas, 7-2. It was the first time the Yanks lost a series since the July 30-Aug. 2 series in Chicago, losing three of four to the White Sox.
Coincidently enough, the White Sox came to town for the final three games of the home stand, and the Empire once again struck back.
On Friday the Yanks saw a gem from their ace, the Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia. He pitched seven strong innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and matched his season high strikeout mark, fanning 10 White Sox.
Even though he didn’t notch the win, Sabathia still has the Major League lead in the wins category with 15. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: CC could very well be “Cy Cy” this year.
With the game tied in the 10th, Robinson Cano delivered the death blow, a game-winning three-run blast that landed in the Yankee bullpen to give the Bombers a Friday night win.
It was Cano’s 21st home run of the season, his fourth career walk-off hit, and very first career walk-off home run.
It was the first time the Yanks hit a walk-off homer against the White Sox since Don Baylor beat them with one swing in 1985.
The Yankees now have 12 walk-off wins this year (if you count the walk-off error by Luis Castillo on June 12 vs. the Mets) Six of those 12 walk-offs have come via the home run, which ties a single-season team record.
Saturday the Yankees came out swinging, and in my mind the unexpected happened. I thought that the Yankees had a good chance of winning (as I always do), especially because of the White Sox’ starting pitcher, Jose Contreras.
Contreras was 0-6 against the Yankees going into Saturday’s start, but then again we never know what we’re getting out of Sergio Mitre anymore, who made the start for the Bombers.
What we got Saturday afternoon was pretty good. Mitre looked great and pitched a gem, even taking a perfect game into the fifth inning.
Mitre had to be taken out after getting hit with a line drive, but his performance was outstanding. Chad Gaudin (who relieved Mitre after he was struck on the arm with a line drive) also did well, and the White Sox only mustered one hit in that game against the two Yankee hurlers.
Manager Joe Girardi said they will evaluate Mite and after that make the decision as to whether or not he will make his next start. Saturday marked the first time that Mitre pitched six complete innings since Aug. 25, 2007. Hopefully we’ll see more of that down the stretch, if he’s OK to pitch.
With the combined efforts of Cano, Hairston, Alex Rodriguez, and Johnny Damon (who all knocked in two runs on Saturday) the White Sox were squashed, 10-0. Rodriguez hit his 23rd home run of the year and Hideki Matsui also drove in a run.
Saturday’s win was the 17th time this year the Yanks have scored 10 or more runs in one game. If you ask me, that is just ridiculous. To me, that number says the Yankees know how to score runs like it’s no one’s business.
The finale against the ChiSox (and last game of the home stand) was yet another victory for the Yankees as they won, 8-3 on Sunday afternoon.
Damon tied his career-high home run count of 24 and Mark Teixeira blasted a three-run homer, his 32nd of the year, in the win. The parade of pitchers (Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Phil Hughes, and Phil Coke) did a fine job of holding down the White Sox, possibly knocking them out of playoff contention with the sweep. The Yankees outscored Chicago 23-5 this past weekend.
Aceves got the win on Sunday and moves to 9-1 in relief. He has been so valuable to the Yankees this year, and that statement is evidenced by his record.
Overall the Yankees went 4-2 on their home stand, and have won 20 of their last 26 ballgames. They have gone 31-11 since the All-Star break (which is the best in baseball) and are 20-7 in this month alone. I don’t think the Yankees want the summer month of August to end with those kinds of numbers.
The last day of August is today, and Andy Pettitte (11-6, 4.18 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling on their winning streak (and their hot streak this month) tonight in Baltimore against Jeremy Guthrie (9-12, 5.26 ERA) and the Orioles.
The Yanks will play their next seven games on the road (three in Baltimore and then four in Toronto) and then will come home to play Tampa Bay on Labor Day, which is Monday, Sept. 7.
Oh, and as they’ve had most of the year, the Yankees still own the best record in baseball at 82-48. They are also the only team (at press time) with 80 or more wins.
With each game, the Yankees are looking more and more like the team to beat in the playoffs, and right now all is right in “Yankee Universe.”
Joba Rules Getting Old?
Everybody knows about the “Joba Rules” but quite honestly I’m getting really tired of them.
On July 29, Chamberlain made a scheduled start in Tampa Bay against the Rays, and shined like he had been since the second half of the season started after the All-Star break.
He went eight innings in that game and gave up no runs on just three hits, walked two, and struck out five.
After the great game in Tampa, the Yankees rested him for eight days, not allowing him to start again until Aug. 6. In hindsight it was the right thing to do (since they needed Chamberlain to make the start against the Red Sox at home–a game that he won, but didn’t pitch well in)
Against Boston, Chamberlain went five innings and gave up four runs on six hits. He walked seven in that game and struck out five. If you want my opinion, I think the extra rest probably hurt him, but I completely understand why the Yanks did it. They needed him to throw in a crucial series against the Red Sox that they needed to win.
He pitched again on Aug. 11 vs. Toronto (on normal rest) and wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible, either. He went six innings, gave up four earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Chamberlain didn’t pick up the win, but the Yanks did come out on top, 7-5.
Since that game against Toronto, Chamberlain has not pitched particularly well at all. He went out again on normal rest in Seattle and was less-than-acceptable. He tossed only four innings and gave up four earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out two.
He then went on to pitch against Texas this past Tuesday and again went on eight days rest. The rust showed, and he coughed up a four-run Yankee lead and he went on to lose the game, his second consecutive loss. He looked extremely flat in that outing, only going four innings allowing seven earned runs on nine hits.
Sunday against Chicago is when I got annoyed. Chamberlain only went three innings and tossed 35 pitches before being pulled. He gave up two runs on four hits, but the reason they pulled him was because they want to be careful with him; they want to make sure he won’t pass his 2009 innings limit.
Joe Girardi has been quite secretive and has not revealed what Chamberlain’s innings limit is exactly. The media has estimated that the limit is in the neighborhood of 160. Right now he’s at 133 and 2/3. Girardi even said that as high as 180 innings this year would be a “danger zone” for Chamberlain.
I really don’t get it anymore. We all know he’s on an innings limit, but when he’s throwing the ball so well, why slow him down? That’s exactly what the Yankees did. His first four games after the All-Star break he was 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA. They messed with him, and now he’s off kilter.
I understand why the Yanks are being careful with him. Chamberlain (in the Yankee organization’s mind) is an integral part of their future. They don’t want to ruin his arm at 23 years old.
I mean, look at what has happened to Edinson Volquez (26 years old) of the Cincinnati Reds. He tossed 196 innings last year in 2008 and got as far as 49 and 2/3 this year before needing to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees certainly don’t want that to see something like that happen to Chamberlain. But if he’s pitching well, let him go. The Yankees are eventually going to have to give him more innings of work before the post-season if they want him to start.
All I know is that they better figure something out for him, and hopefully they can find it for Chamberlain before October. The Yankees need him to be dealing in full force come the ALDS.
Besides, I think everyone (not just me) has grown extremely tired of the “Joba Rules.”
This is Chamberlain’s third year in the big leagues. Just take the leash off and let him throw.
Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano
I think Major League Baseball should investigate these two players just to make sure they are human beings and not hitting machines.
Both Jeter and Cano are on absolute tears right now.
To start, Jeter has been red hot with 16 hits in his last 10 games. In those 10 games, he has scored 13 runs and knocked in six along with hitting two homers and stealing three bases.
It just seems every time Jeter comes up, he comes up with big hits and RBIs. On Sunday night it was announced that Jeter was named the shortstop on ESPN’s “20th Year All-Star Team,” beating out Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ozzie Smith.
Jeter has 2,710 career hits (175 of which have come in 2009 so far) and he will soon be the all-time Yankees’ hits leader. Lou Gehrig is currently sitting atop that list, but (without question) by season’s end Jeter will pass him.
Many people are talking Jeter, along with Mark Teixeira, up to be the American League Most Valuable Player. If you want my opinion, Jeter was robbed in 2006 when Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins won it ahead of him.
If he’s in the discussion, I have a feeling Jeter will not be the runner-up this year. It’ll just be another accomplishment under his belt. But if you ask Jeter, he’d say he wants a World Title over the MVP. He has a good shot at getting both.
And then there’s Cano.
The young second baseman has also been tearing the cover off the ball, hitting safely in eight of his last 10 games. Over that span he’s collected 14 hits with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and eight runs scored.
He’s already set a new career-high in home runs with 21 to this point (he passed his career-high home run mark of 19 on Tuesday vs. Texas when he went deep for the 20th time–before hitting number 21 on Friday in walk-off style) and he has turned some heads with his stellar defense this season.
Cano is really showing no signs of slowing down, and I can remember hearing some analysts on ESPN say he’s the best second baseman in the league in terms of getting the ball to first base when executing a double play. Watching him all year, I couldn’t agree more.
Both his defense and offense have improved since last year, and I’m really happy that he hit his first walk-off home run on Friday night. He looked so happy when he rounded the bases, and I expected something big from him, seeing as how incredibly hot he’s been hitting.
I know I’ve profiled the hitting and defense of both players in past editions of the blog already, but I just couldn’t help pointing it out again. Jeter and Cano are on fire, and if they continue to hit they way they are, they will be extremely difficult to pitch to in the playoffs.
30 hits between two players in only 10 games seems quite ridiculous, but I guess this year it’s normal for Jeter and Cano. These two guys are like Superman and Batman; they are so powerful and they won’t give up.
With the end of August tomorrow, we have officially hit the stretch run of the baseball season. And in the stretch run, teams are allowed to expand their active rosters from 25 players to 40, if they choose to.
The Yankees will call up some minor leaguers to help them reach their September goal: clinching the American League Eastern Division.
I have no doubt that Ramiro Pena will get rewarded with a call-up. He played in 53 games this season, and helped fill the void left by Alex Rodriguez before his return from his hip injury on May 15.
Pena hit .277 with no homers and seven RBIs in those 53 games for the Yanks this year, and he’ll most likely get a call back to the show on Tuesday for a role on the bench. I think he’s earned it.
I also have a feeling we’ll see catcher Francisco Cervelli back up in the majors. He did a great job of filling in for Jorge Posada when he was injured, and put up some decent numbers, even for a catcher.
Cervelli hit .269 in 25 games this year with a home run and nine RBIs. In the last 10 games he played in before being sent packing, he collected nine hits with five RBIs and six runs scored.
I really think Cervelli could very well be the starting catcher in the future for the Yankees, of course after Posada’s catching days are over.
Expect to see a few pitchers come up, maybe Jonathan Albaladejo and Mark Melancon, both of whom have already been up and back down to the minors.
Maybe Edwar Ramirez gets a call back, but who knows. They’ll need some arms to keep Joba Chamberlain’s innings count down, so there is help on the way for Chamberlain and the starters who don’t get far into the game.
There’s a possibility Shelley Duncan gets a call up. He was raking in the minors and briefly made an appearance in the show before the non-waivers trade deadline.
Although he got a mid-season call-up and was seen in the Yankee dugout, Duncan didn’t even take the field because the Yankees received Jerry Hairston, Jr. at the trade deadline, which sent Duncan back to Triple-A.
Duncan made a splash when he was called up in August of 2007, hitting .257 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 34 games. He was believed to be part of the Yankee youth movement after ’07, but when he came up in 2008 he just wasn’t the same player.
In ’08 he played in only 23 games and hit .175 with a homer and just six RBIs.
This year in the minors for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, Duncan smashed 29 homers with 92 RBIs while batting .274. If he could show those kinds of numbers in the majors, he could possibly be a mainstay in the majors.
Maybe the 29 year-old Duncan gets rewarded for his good Minor League year with an end-of-season call-up. If not, he can spend time reading his “Shelley Duncan Facts” website (please don’t take these seriously, folks)
Along with all these minor leaguers who have had a few “cups of coffee” with the Yanks this year, hopefully we will see the return of Brett Gardner from the disabled list.
Gardner fractured his thumb sliding into second base in a game at home against Oakland, but the speedster is hoping to come back to the Yankees within the week. A runner of Gardner’s speed (along with everything else he’s done this year) makes him worthy of a post-season roster spot, in my mind.
Of all these players who may see the majors on Tuesday, Gardner’s really the only one I see making the playoff roster, but that doesn’t mean the others won’t help the Yankees get there.
Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I will be back next week with more topics, highlights, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!