Greetings Yankee fans!
Hope you had a wonderful Labor Day. Welcome to the 10th installment of Yankee Yapping!
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
The AL East Road Trip
Sunday’s loss to the Toronto Blue Jays was somewhat shocking to me. Sergio Mitre was not in good shape, and the defense was shoddy and careless. Friday night didn’t shock me as much when Roy Halladay shut the Yankees down big time.
The only hit Halladay allowed on Friday was a double by fill-in shortstop Ramiro Pena. A little depressing.
But Friday and Sunday were the only two “blips on the screen,” so to speak. The Yanks went 5-2 on their past road trip, sweeping the Orioles and winning two of four against the Blue Jays.
On Monday night I thought the Yankees were going to add some history. Andy Pettitte looked (and really in fact was) lights out. He shut down the Orioles nicely until Jerry Hairston, Jr. bobbled a ball to end the perfect bid. It was charged an error to Hairston, but the no-hitter was still intact.
That is, until the next hitter.
Nick Markakis broke up the no-no with a line drive past Hairston at third for a base knock. I still think Pettitte was amazing and it was one of his best games of the year. Johnny Damon said after the game that it was the best game of his career.
Well I guess that’s impossible to say because Pettitte has tossed some huge games for the Yanks, including some big games (and series clinching games) in the World Series.
I just pray he can pitch like that in the playoffs and if history has showed us anything, Pettitte certainly can. Looking at the month of August, he was so strong; Pettitte went 4-0 in six starts, tossing 39 2/3 innings and striking out 38 hitters. That is some solid work from our veteran lefty.
The Yankees outscored the Orioles 24-9 in the series sweep earlier this week, and scored an average of nearly seven runs per game on the road trip. They also hit 13 home runs and averaged .296 at the plate.
Right now the Yankees own a record of 89-50. They only claimed 89 victories all of last season and there are still 23 games left on the regular season schedule this year. So obviously the number of wins will be greater this season. They are without question a totally different team in 2009.
Doubleheader vs. Tampa Bay
Making up the June 5 rainout, the Yankees played and swept the Tampa Rays in a day-night doubleheader.
CC Sabathia started game one of the twin bill against Tampa Bay and attempted to nail down his 17th win of the year. Although Sabathia didn’t win the Yankees did, 4-1. Good games from Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Eric Hinske and Jorge Posada who all helped the team win with RBIs.
When Sabathia takes the mound the Yankees’ chances are just so good and that was no different today. The ace went seven innings, gave up only one earned run on three hits, walked four and struck out 10. If he pitches like this next month, the Yankees will go a long way in the playoffs.
The 10 strikeouts by the way matched a season-high for Sabathia and he now has a total of 177 for the season.
Since the All Star break Sabathia is 8-1 in 78 innings pitched. Not only is he showing that he can win games but he’s showing that he can eat up innings and give the bullpen some breathing room.
I said at the All Star break that Sabathia is a “second half player.” I believe I was right.
In the night portion of the doubleheader the Yankees received another good game from their starter and the offense just broke it out and scored runs, beating the Rays, 11-1.
I’m sure most of A.J. Burnett’s critics were ready to do some more “Burnett bashing” after the first inning when he gave up a run on a double from Evan Longoria that scored Gabe Gross.
But after that double we saw the “July version” of Burnett, as he completed six innings of work and allowed no more runs after the first inning. He walked three and looked good with eight strikeouts. With his solid performance, Burnett picked up his 11th win of the year and his first victory since July 27.
I had been defending Burnett the whole month of August when he was struggling and he finally proved my point: he can be dominant when he’s on. Plus, Jose Molina caught him and the two seemed to be in a good rhythm all night. I think Joe Girardi should have Molina catch Burnett the rest of the year and in the post-season.
I’m glad Burnett silenced his critics with his good outing. At least for now.
On the offensive side of the field, the Yankees scored eight runs in the fourth inning and three in the sixth. Mark Teixeira led the team and put on a hitting show with two homers in the game–both of them just absolute bombs.
He first hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the third, a shot I thought would hit the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar behind the centerfield wall. It landed just beneath the restaurant in Monument Park, however.
His second homer landed in the Yankee bullpen. Teixeira now has 35 home runs on the season, and has a good chance at winning the Most Valuable Player Award, along with his teammate Derek Jeter.
I’m predicting that Teixeira will finish with 41 homers this year.
Also credit Melky Cabrera with a good game, as he had two RBIs, three hits, and two runs scored.
Overall Labor Day was productive for the Yankees as they swept the doubleheader against the Rays. The last time the Yankees swept a doubleheader at home was in 1971 when they beat the Boston Red Sox.
And speaking of the Red Sox, the magic number for them is 17. Any number of combined Yankee wins and Red Sox losses that add up to 17 mean the Yankees will have a one-way ticket to October.
It will be a glorious moment when the Yankees eliminate Boston and celebrate with the 2009 AL East crown.
Derek Jeter to Pass Lou Gehrig, Set the Team Home Run Record
The biggest story recently has been that of the Yankee captain Derek Jeter.
He has 2,718 career hits and needs three to tie the Yankees’ all-time hits leader Lou Gehrig. If he reaches base safely through a base hit four more times (which is pretty much a given) Jeter will be the Yankees’ all-time hits leader. Talk about an accomplishment.
Last year Jeter became the all-time hits leader in the old Stadium when he hit safely for the 1,270th time on Sept. 9. Before long he will be the man who has the most hits among any other Yankee player who has donned the pinstripes.
I thought for sure Jeter would have a chance to break the record today in the doubleheader vs. Tampa, but he suddenly went into a little slump.
He had eight plate appearances on Monday and failed to hit safely, although he did draw a walk and drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in the night cap. Jeter made the Yankee fans wait for another day when most of us thought today was the day. But it’s alright; he’ll still do it.
I simply can’t say it enough good about him; he’s accomplished so much in his career that by now he’s probably used to breaking and setting records.
I can say Jeter is great and maybe the greatest to ever live, but the words just seem too small. He might very well go down in the annals of history as being the greatest Yankee to ever live.
You can speak of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson and Don Mattingly, but (for me) Jeter is the absolute best, ever.
I heard that Jeter had a talk with his parents Dorothy and Dr. Charles Jeter. They told him to enjoy it. He’s so humble, whenever he puts a line in his history he just quietly takes it in. But I have to agree with his parents here; he should be very proud of what he is about to accomplish and I’m sure deep down he will be.
The Yankee team can also accomplish something big this year, and it will most likely also be done by Jeter.
At press time the team has seven players with 20 or more home runs on the year. There have only been three other teams in baseball history with seven players that have had 20 or more homers: the 2005 Texas Rangers, the 2000 Toronto Blue Jays, and the 1996 Baltimore Orioles.
There has never been a team in baseball history that has had eight players with 20 or more home runs.
Jeter has 17 for the year and if he leaves the yard three more times, the Yankees will break another record, becoming the only team with eight players that have hit 20 or more homers.
Jeter’s hit record will most certainly be broken on this home stand and the home run record could also be broken within the next week. I guess it just depends on whether or not Jeter gets some good pitches to hit.
But the Yankees will play their next eight games at home where the ball sails, plus another six-game home stand toward the end of the month. So there’s a good chance that home run record gets broken this year.
Either way, Jeter will set new highs for himself when he breaks the hits record and the home run record. What an excellent ballplayer Jeter is (and what an understatement that is!)
When this kid came up I had a feeling he was going to be something good.
I knew he was one of the Yankees’ top prospects just from talking with my friends about the “Baby Bombers” (AKA the Yankees’ minor leaguers who are producing down on the farm) and when Sports Illustrated did their 2007 MLB preview they compared Phil Hughes to a young Roger Clemens, even calling him the “pocket rocket.”
There are two games that Hughes pitched that really stand out in my mind when he was called to the big leagues in 2007. The first came on May 1 when he nearly tossed a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers. Hughes no-hit the Rangers for 6 2/3 innings in Texas before suffering a hamstring injury, forcing him to leave the game.
Former Yankee announcer Bobby Murcer (rest his soul) called the game and stated that if Hughes did not have to leave the game, he would have pitched a no-no. I watched that game, too, and I have to agree–if he had stayed in (and not injured himself) he would’ve done it.
His stuff was great on that night; his fastball was live and moving brilliantly through the strike zone. And Hughes made those Texas hitters look silly with his knee-buckling, 12-6 breaking ball.
The second game Hughes shined in (that I’ll always remember) was game three of the 2007 American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians.
Facing elimination, Clemens started game three. He had to leave with a groin injury and Hughes relieved him. With the weight of the Yankee season on his shoulders, Hughes shut down the tribe with 3 2/3 scoreless innings as the Yankees went on to win the game 8-4 and stay alive.
I really think the “almost no-hitter” and the lights-out game in the ALDS convinced me that he’d be around for awhile.
Hughes started this year in the rotation, but has found a niche for himself as a middle reliever/setup man in the bullpen. I think it’s been the best thing for him.
In his last 11 innings pitched he has gone 2-0 allowing only four hits, striking out 15 batters, and only issuing four walks. Hughes has been virtually un-hittable.
Not to mention he has recorded three saves on the year filling in for Mariano Rivera, converting all three save opportunities. Perhaps one day Hughes could even be the Yankee closer, who knows. His role in the bullpen is defined now, that’s probably why he’s had success and I think it’s what separates him from Joba Chamberlain.
Chamberlain at this point probably doesn’t even know what he is. He’s going by the “Joba Rules” and I think that’s what’s thrown him off and he hasn’t been pitching well. Hughes isn’t like that because he has a role, knows what the coaches expect from him, and that is giving him the ability to go out and pitch effectively.
Unlike Chamberlain, Hughes knows what he has to do and he’s been doing it and doing it extremely well. I’m looking forward to some post-season dominance from this 23 year-old right-hander.
Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. See you next week with more topics, highlights, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!