Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Yankees vs. Red Sox: Thoughts and Notes

The New York Yankees cruised into a 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox tonight.

 

It was a wild game filled with a lot of news and stories. Here is what I made of it all…

 

Josh Beckett

 

 


Josh Beckett got rocked, but hurt some Yankees tonight 

It is kind of strange what happened to the Boston ace in this game.

 

Beckett started off strong, fanning five of the first six batters he faced. He seemed to be rolling along, looking untouchable up until the sixth inning. But everything came unglued for him and things got out of hand.

 

In the top of the sixth inning, Beckett gave up six runs on four hits, faced 11 Yankees, and was run from the game. He ended the night with 5 1/3 innings, giving up nine earned runs on nine hits. He walked three batters, hit two, and struck out eight.

 

Aside from the number of strikeouts, his line tonight was horrendous.

 

 


Robinson Cano was hit on the knee 

In the sixth inning, Beckett put Robinson Cano out. Throwing a blazing fastball, Cano was hit on the inset of his left knee. Being the fighter that he is, Cano tried to stay in the game and walked down to first. He later decided better of it and came out of the game.

 

In the same inning, Derek Jeter was hit with a pitch and Beckett also came up and in on Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli. It’s obvious his control was a non-factor at that point, but it may have been more than that.

 

I have never seen Beckett in that form. Usually he has pinpoint accuracy and can locate with each of his pitches. I am not going to accuse him of intentionally hitting Cano (and I can’t say he beaned Jeter on purpose, because the bases were loaded) but I will say he looked like he did not care. To me, he came off as very arrogant, even in defeat.

 

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel he acted like a sore loser.

 

At that point in the game, the Yankees were hitting him hard; he intentionally walked Brett Gardner to load the bases and face Cervelli, a move that backfired. After that happened, I think he gave up on the game and did not care anymore.

 

At one point in the inning, Alex Rodriguez mouthed “Enough is enough already,” directed at Beckett’s control issues. The Yankees were taking notice of his command problem and were not happy. They even got up on the top step of their dugout and just looked ready to pounce.

 

I wish they had. They could have hit Beckett and let him know how it feels.

 

After his outing tonight, Beckett now owns an earned run average of 7.46 and his season record is 1-1. By far, this is Beckett at his worst. He has been one of the most paramount and dominant pitchers over the last seven years and he has never been this bad.

 

I don’t mind that he was hit hard by the Yankees. I am however holding contempt for the fact that he plunked Jeter and put Cano out.

 

 

Nick Swisher

 

 


Nick Swisher is on fire! 

 Right now Nick Swisher is en fuego.

 

The cool dude in a loose mood belted his sixth homer of the year in the top of the fourth off Beckett. For Swisher, it was his second home run in as many games and his fourth in six games.

 

Beckett just hung a breaking too high and Swisher crushed it.

 

This year the Yankee right fielder looks a lot better in terms of his swing and his defense. He doesn’t look so stiff out there, and part of that I chalk up to experience. He got his first year as a Yankee out of the way, and now he is rolling.

 

And with so many Yanks injured, it’s good to have him stepping up and hitting.

 

During the post game interview with the YES Network, Swisher mentioned that he visited a hospital this afternoon. He dedicated his home run to the child he met with today, which I thought was a class act. But that’s Swisher’s personality; I’m not surprised he said that.

 

His words reminded me of Brett Gardner last year. On May 15 of last season, Gardner visited a hospital and promised a girl he would try and hit a home run. He wound up getting an inside-the-park round-tripper.

 

As for Swisher, right now he is hitting .286 coupled with 20 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

 

Keep it up, Swisher!

 

 

Phil Hughes

 

 


Phil Hughes got his fourth win of the year and first career win vs. Boston 

He is really becoming “one of our guys,” if you will.

 

Tonight, Phil Hughes matched Beckett pitch-for-pitch and went on to beat Boston and earn his fourth win of 2010. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven masterful innings, and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one hitter and struck out seven.

 

Hughes’s stuff was electric tonight. His breaking ball was working beautifully and his fastball was live and exploding through the strike zone. He went right after Boston’s best hitters and got them out one by one.

 

In the top of the third, Hughes caught Marco Scutaro looking on probably the nastiest curveball I have ever seen. The ball started up at Scutaro’s eyes, it seemed, and landed belt-high for a strikeout.

 

That breaking ball was so gross, it buckled Scutaro’s knees.

 

At the end of the night, Hughes is now 4-0 on the year, becoming the fourth Yankee starter to have four wins on the season. His earned run average went up a little bit, going from 1.44 to 1.69, but his work tonight speaks for itself.

 

Tonight also marked Hughes’s first career win over the Red Sox.

 

The Yankees have to be feeling very good about Hughes right now. Looking forward, he has a chance to win a lot of games this year. If he continues to work as effectively as he did tonight, he can make a Cy Young Award push.

 

At this point, Hughes is the best pitcher in the American League, if you ask me.

 

Back during spring training, I never thought I would be saying that! Hughes has done a fine job of clearing the air and making the statement that he belongs in the Yankee rotation.

 

Hughes is our guy. That about says it all.

 

 

Other Notes:

 

–Nick Johnson left the game with an apparent wrist injury. He was sent back to New York for an MRI and obviously won’t be playing for the rest of the weekend.

 

It never ceases to amaze me. Johnson had the best game he’s played all year on Wednesday. Two days later, he kills it.

 

Why did we get him again?

 

–Joe Girardi said a roster move will be made to replace Johnson. After the game tonight he mentioned the possibility of calling up an infielder from the minors.

 

–Every Yankee except Johnson, Cano, Ramiro Pena, and Gardner knocked in at least one run tonight.   

 

–”I’d be surprised if Cano plays tomorrow,” Girardi said. Cano took that bean ball on the knee pretty hard, and even he said he would have to assess how he is feeling tomorrow.

 

I hope he plays. He is one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters and they need him. But if he has to miss a day, I say he should take it. It’s just frustrating, because he was hit with a pitch. If he hadn’t gotten hit, he would be fine.

 

–Jorge Posada, still nursing that balky calf, didn’t play tonight. He is still day-to-day, so hopefully he plays tomorrow.

 

There is only so much catching Francisco Cervelli can do…although he is doing just fine. He went 2-for-3 tonight with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. He is kind of flying under the radar, but quietly putting together a great year!

 

–Retaliation tomorrow afternoon? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We will have to wait and see. The Red Sox certainly deserve to know what it feels like to have one of their top guys plunked.

 

God forbid Kevin Youkilis get beaned, though. For the amount of times he has been thrown at by Yankee pitching in his career, I wouldn’t be surprised if he charged the mound. It’s alright; CC would just have to sit on him, and the Yanks would win the fight.

 

–As announced before the game, Andy Pettitte will miss his next scheduled start against the Tigers on Tuesday. Javier Vazquez will make the start Tuesday and Sergio Mitre will start Monday.

 

Girardi set this up so that Vazquez will pitch the first game against the Mets at Citi Field on Friday, May 21. It might be a good idea, considering he probably has a better shot at winning against a National League team.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon it is CC Sabathia (4-1, 2.74 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (3-2, 2.97 ERA)

 

–The Yankees are now 3-1 vs. Boston this season and are 20-8 overall. A stark contrast to last year when they began 0-8 in their first eight games against the Red Sox.

 

–The Yanks snapped Boston’s four-game win streak tonight and extended their win streak to five games.

Cervelli and Burnett Bust O’s, Yanks Take Series

Call the New York Yankees “butter” right now, because they are certainly on a roll.

 

Tonight the Bronx Bombers continued their winning ways and beat the Baltimore Orioles by the same score they beat them by last night, 4-1. They have won 15 of their last 18 home series, extended their winning streak to three games, and have now won eight of their first nine series this season.

 

Only three other Yankee teams in history (1928, 1939, and 2003) have won eight of their first nine series, so obviously the 2010 group is standing out and has gotten off to a magnificent start.

 

A pair of plays and players stood out tonight…

 

Francisco Cervelli

 

 


Cervelli was on fire tonight! 

This youngster did a wonderful job filling in for Jorge Posada, who is battling a balky right calf muscle. Francisco Cervelli was 3-for-3 with a triple, a bunt single, and two runs scored.

 

Not bad at all.

 

The Cisco kid was also playing amazing defense, making a beautiful catch to end the top of the fourth inning. Garrett Atkins popped a foul, high-fly ball toward the Yankee dugout. Cervelli kept his eye on the ball the whole way and falling stomach-first over the railing, made the putout.

 

Manager Joe Girardi actually caught Cervelli and bench coach Tony Pena nearly got toppled as he landed practically on top of him. It was a huge out, because there was a runner on third and the game was tied 1-1 at that point. That brilliant play prevented the O’s from going ahead, which certainly could have changed the complexion of the game.

 

I noticed as Cervelli rounded second base he flipped off his helmet. I guess he had to, since it is much bigger than a normal helmet. Because the young catcher has sustained multiple concussions in his career, he has to wear that funny-looking headpiece.

 

It makes him look like Gazoo from “The Flintstones.” Or maybe “Dark Helmet” from “Spaceballs”…

 

 


Does his helmet look like Gazoo's or Dark Helmet's...? 

At any rate, Cervelli stole the show tonight. A few hits, a pair of runs, and a web gem. Not a bad night at the office. He must keep up the good work, especially since Posada has been hurting.

 

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 

 


 
AJ Burnett is 4-0 this year 

Once again, A.J. Burnett came out dealing like a man on fire. (Had to change it up; the “blackjack in Vegas” line is actually getting old, but that’s a good thing!)

 

The number two hurler tossed 7 1/3 innings tonight and gave up only one unearned run on five hits. He walked just two batters and he struck out eight.

 

Last week Burnett started against these same Orioles and only struck out four hitters. He seemed to be pitching to contact a lot more and was a lot more effective; he got a lot of fly ball outs and also induced a few outs on the ground. Tonight however, he was striking more batters out with a fastball, which was dancing all over the strike zone.

 

Burnett did not rely so much on his breaking ball tonight, but when he did throw it, he got the ball to move nicely. Girardi said after the game his curve ball was “outstanding, he used it effectively, and it had great depth.”

 

Could not have said it better myself.

 

The top of the third was really Burnett’s only hiccup. He allowed a run on a throwing error, but quickly settled down. With runners on second and third and no one out, he struck out Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters–all swinging–to get out of the inning without any further damage.

 

Maybe instead of “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett” I should call him “Harry Houdini-Burnett.”

 

 


AJ Houdini-Burnett got out of a huge jam in the third 

Now with a record of 4-0 and ERA of 1.99, Burnett’s next start will come Sunday night against the Red Sox. He has not had much success in the past vs. Boston, but after tonight he may have given us all a reason to have more faith in him.

 

He is off to the best start he has ever gotten off to in his career. And by the way, he hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last four starts. 

 

Other Notes:

 

–Derek Jeter started at the designated hitter spot tonight while Ramiro Pena got the nod at short. Jeter was 1-for-5 but Pena had a sacrifice fly and two RBIs in the game.

 

He knocked in his first run in the bottom of the third, bunting and reaching on an error to drive in Brett Gardner and give the Yanks the lead. His sac fly came in the eighth to give the Yankees’ their 4-1 lead.

 

–Greg Golson got called up today and Mark Melancon was optioned back to Triple-A. Golson didn’t have an at-bat tonight, but he made a nice catch in center field to rob Miguel Tejada of extra bases. A HUGE play and a great catch!

 

–Alex Rodriguez has not been hitting well lately, but he was 0-for-2 on the night with an RBI bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth. Even when he isn’t killing the ball, he is still helping the team win.

 

–Mariano Rivera did not pitch tonight, because of that “discomfort” he spoke about after Friday’s outing vs. Chicago. Joba Chamberlain (playing the role of “Joba the Heat”) came in and slammed the door for the second time in as many games.

 

Chamberlain now has three career saves. He isn’t doing badly as an understudy, but he can’t get too comfortable in the closer role. Rivera will probably be back by Friday.

 

–Before the game, Jeter mentioned that his favorite food to eat in a restaurant is chicken parmesan. I guess I’m a man after his own heart–that is my all-time favorite dish!

 

–The Yankees are now 18-8, 10 games above .500. If Tampa Bay loses to Seattle tonight, we are dead-even and tied for first place in the AL East.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees look to sweep the O’s. Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.12 ERA) will lead the Yanks into battle against David Hernandez (0-3, 4.55 ERA)

 

 

I’d also like to take this moment to remember Ernie Harwell, the famous broadcaster, who passed away tonight. He is a legend with the Detroit Tigers and from everyone’s testimony, he was a wonderful person with a great soul.

 

R.I.P. Mr. Harwell. I wish you peace. My heart goes out to his friends, family, and every baseball fan he touched in his life.

 

R.I.P. Ernie Harwell 

Yankees Take Series From Chicago, Squish White Sox

Talk about a squadoosh.

 

The New York Yankees pounded the Chicago White Sox 12-3 in the rubber game of their three-game weekend series this afternoon. The Bronx Bombers have now won seven of their first eight series this season and dating back to 2009, the Yankees have now won 14 of their last 17 series at Yankee Stadium.

 

 


Curtis Granderson will be out for a month  

Brett Gardner did a nice job of filling in for the injured Curtis Granderson, who yesterday strained his groin running from second base to third. Granderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list and according to manager Joe Girardi will “be out for at least a month.”

 

But in Granderson’s absence, Gardner did just fine going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, two RBIs, a walk, and two runs scored. Girardi said, “Gardner has been playing well and he’s going to need to keep it up because he will be playing centerfield every day for awhile.”

 


 

Brett Gardner was 2-for-4 with a homer today

Gardner took White Sox’ starter Mark Buehrle deep to right field in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run, his first of the year. Earlier on in the first inning, Gardner knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI single to score Robinson Cano.

 

Up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Cano did some yard work of his own. With two men on base, the hot-hitting second baseman homered to right field, a three-run blast that put the Yankees up 5-0 and basically put the White Sox away.

 

“Red-hot Robbie Cano” is now hitting .387 with nine homers and 21 RBIs this year.

 

 


Robinson Cano is hitting .387 this year 

The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the sixth to widen their lead to 7-0. Nick Swisher joined the home run party and clubbed a two-run bomb to right field, his second in as many games. Swisher now has four home runs on the year and two at home, where he does not seem to hit many homers.

 

Last season, Swisher did not hit his second home run at Yankee Stadium until June 7.

 

In the bottom of the seventh the Yankees exploded for five more runs. Derek Jeter drew a bases loaded walk to score Jorge Posada, and then Nick Johnson cracked a two-run double. Mark Teixeira followed up with a two-run double of his own, giving the Yankees 12 runs on the afternoon.

 

 

Historically, Mark Teixeira hits well in the month of May 

Teixeira went 4-for-5 at the plate today, erasing his troubled April with a great start to May. It looks like the Yankees’ first baseman is keeping his elbow up more and as a result is getting around on some pitches. He is notorious for hitting well in May, so today might be just a small sample of what’s to come.

 

In the top of the ninth with two men on base, Paul Konerko crushed a three-run homer to left field to spoil the shutout and give the ChiSox their three runs in the game. It was Konerko’s 12th homer of the year and he leads the majors in that category.

 

Behind all the Yankee offense today was Phil Hughes, who absolutely puzzled the White Sox hitters. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven strong innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He walked only one batter and struck out six.

 

 


Phil Hughes has been compared to Roger Clemens 

(I’ll just say it) Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. But in reality, Hughes reminded me today of Roger Clemens. His delivery was very smooth, he was getting ahead of the hitters, and he was mixing his pitches.

 

There is a reason Sports Illustrated once called Hughes “The Pocket Rocket.”

 

Although Hughes was throwing a lot of strikes, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not think so. In the bottom of the seventh, Guillen got his money’s worth and got thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called a ball on Gardner, Guillen did not agree, and ultimately got tossed.

 

Ozzie Guillen got tossed today! 

 

Not unusual for a manager like Guillen. However, Hughes was throwing the ball very well, and I’m sure Guillen would be the first one to say it.

 

With the win, Hughes is now 3-0 this season and he has won all three of the starts he has made. He became the youngest pitcher since his teammate Andy Pettitte to win his first three games of the year. Pettitte won his first three games as a 23 year-old in 1996.

 

Now with a record of 16-8 this year, the Yankees will remain at home for the next three games and entertain the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s just completed a weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox despite dropping their previous two out of three to the Yanks at home.

 

CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling against Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70 ERA)

Was Javier Vazquez Worth It?

Last December the New York Yankees made a trade to get a number four starter. Only using three pitchers in the postseason, and unsure of who was going to be the number five man, they got it done.

 

So long Melky Cabrera. Hello (again) Javier Vazquez.

 

 


Javier Vazquez returned to the Yankees this year 

Boasting a 15-10 record in 2009 with a minuscule 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts, some people were happy with the move. I, on the other hand, was not a proponent of this trade from the get go, remembering how poorly he had performed in his first stint in pinstripes. 

 

Vazquez, a member of the Yankees in 2004, was the losing pitcher in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship Series, surrendering the infamous grand slam to Johnny Damon–a blast that basically put the Yankees away.

 

Vazquez picthed in the Yankees' losing effort in the 2004 ALCS 

 

Back in pinstripes, Vazquez made his first start of 2010 on April 9. What happened? He picked up right where he left off in ’04 and got rocked. He tossed 5 2/3 innings, was charged with eight earned runs on eight hits, walked three, and struck out five.

 

Not the way he wanted to start the season, I’m sure.

 

His second start was a little better, but Vazquez still was not good enough to win. Against the Angels on April 14, he tossed 5 1/3 innings and gave up four earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. It certainly was not his best start, but it was a step up from his first.

 

 


Roughed up by the Rays.. 

Last Tuesday night in Oakland he got his first W of ’10 beating the Athletics in a 7-3 Yankee win. This time Vazquez made it through 5 1/3 innings, and gave up three runs on six hits. He walked three and fanned six.

 

Then we came to today…

 

Just when it seemed Vazquez was heading in an upward direction in terms of his pitching, he backpedaled and collapsed. He did not make it past the fourth frame, only giving the Yanks 3 2/3 innings of work. He served up five runs on five hits, walked three and struck out three. Not to mention he coughed up a three-run lead.

 

His pitching led to the Yankees’ first series loss of 2010, as they dropped two games out of three this weekend to the Halos. Yes–totally the opposite of cool.

 

 


Vazquez only pitched 3 2/3 innings today 

Right now, Vazquez is the weakest link on the Yankee pitching staff. He has not pitched past the sixth inning this season and has given up 20 earned runs in all 20 innings he has thrown. He has failed to locate with his pitches and has been hanging too many breaking balls.

 

Bobby Abreu was a clear example of that today.

 

In the third inning, the former Yankee blasted a solo home run to right off Vazquez, a bomb hit off a terribly executed breaking ball. Vazquez threw 78 pitches, 47 of which were strikes.

 

If you ask me, of those 78 pitches, probably 38 or 39 of them were off-speed. Vazquez has shown no faith in his fastball. It seems he overthrows his fastball too much and subsequently misses the strike zone because of it. He has issued eight walks this season, indicating his location problem.

 

So far this trade has not paid off and it’s looking like a bad one. I’m not concerned with his numbers from last year, his numbers from 2004, or any other year for that matter. What does matter is 2010 and how unproductive Vazquez’s outings have been.

 

At this moment, we as Yankee fans have every reason to disapprove of the trade.

 

His next time out will come at home against one of his former teams, the Chicago White Sox, on Saturday May 1. I am going to give Vazquez a month. If he is still struggling as mightily as he is now by June 1, I am going to go on a search for a starting pitcher to replace him.

 

 


Could Vazquez be gone before he gets setlled in New York? 

I will look far and wide; I will look at every stat from every Yankee minor league hurler, I will glance at every team in baseball who might need Vazquez–while at the same time finding a suitable replacement; a pitcher putting up numbers in accordance to a good number four starter.

 

Honestly, at this point in the season, the Yankees could probably throw their bat boy out there and he could do better than Vazquez. He is too inconsistent and does not seem to be moving in the same direction of the team. He is the only starter in the rotation with a losing record.

 

CC Sabathia (2-1), A.J. Burnett (2-0), Andy Pettitte (3-0), Phil Hughes (2-0)

 

Vazquez is now 1-3.

 

Before the season began, an analyst said Vazquez has the stuff to be a number two pitcher. While that may or may not be true, he is not showing that right now. He is only showing that he cannot do the job he was brought on board to do.

 

We’ll see what he is made of. He has until June 1. Then, if he has shown no improvement, I say the Yankees ought to dump him off. It’s not like he is under contract for 2011 as it is.

 

 

Other Notes

 

–Marcus Thames has got nothing on Brett Gardner in left field. He started this afternoon, only to misplay a ball out in left. There are some big guys who can move around pretty well in the outfield (like Nick Swisher)

 

Thames is a big guy who can’t move around well. If he had caught the fly ball, it would have been a whole different game today. Thames only started because he supposedly “wears down left-handed pitching,” a Scott Kazmir (a lefty) started for the Halos.

 

Thames did have a hit and a run scored, but that misplayed ball hurt big time.

 

–The Yankees only have to play the Angels twice more this season: July 20-21 at home in Yankee Stadium. Thank God for getting them out of the way in April! They are too tough to be playing down the stretch.

 

–As mentioned before, the Yankees are 5-1 in their first six series this season. This past series was their first losing effort. Still, it’s not bad to have won five straight to begin the year. Good start!

 

–Robinson Cano was hit by a pitch in the second inning. Jorge Posada came up to bat right after Cano and launched a two-run homer.

 

Message to the 29 other teams in the MLB: you hit the Yankees, they will hit back!

 

Cano also homered in this game, clubbing his fifth of the year, and he now leads the Yankee team in long balls.

 

–Mark Teixeira needs to get off the interstate and start getting some hits. He did draw two walks today, but he is supposed to be a big threat to the other team’s pitching. Currently batting .119, he poses no threat right now at all.

 

Wake up, Tex!

 

right or wrong? 

 

–Speaking of Teixeira , I really don’t know how I feel about him ramming the catcher Friday night. I’m not sure if Teixeira did it because he got hit with a pitch before it happened, but whatever the case, he mowed him down.

 

It is part of the game and many runners coming hard into home plate do it, but I felt sorry for Bobby Wilson. It’s happened to the Yankees before, in spring training prior to 2008. Elliot Johnson of the Rays broke Francisco Cervelli’s wrist that way.

 

It’s dangerous! The league should consider regulating collisions somehow, if it’s doable.

 

Teixeira really got him good (giving Wilson a concussion and an ankle injury) but at least he apologized and felt some remorse for the hit. That is the type of personality Teixeira has, but if I were him, I’d watch out in July. The Angels might want some retribution.  

 

And Justin Tuck better watch out. If the New York Giants need a linebacker or a defensive end, Teixeira might be their man. That hit was football-esque!

 

–On their day off tomorrow, the Yankees will visit the White House in honor of their 2009 World Series Championship. Message to Joe Girardi: tell Obama to fix the economy, create jobs for hard-working Americans who need work, and that his health care bill is trash and should be thrown away.

 

I think it’s nice that the President recognizes the nation’s sports titles and invites the Champs to the White House. It’s been happening for years and years; I know Clinton and Bush both did the same thing.

 

–On Tuesday the Yankees go to Baltimore to play the Orioles for three games. Phil Hughes, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett will start those three games, respectively.

 

–Right now the Yankees are 12-6, in second place in the AL East, a game behind the Rays who are 14-5.

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium: A Wonderful Experience

 


Opening Day!!!  

 

Luck: a force that brings good fortune or adversity. Yankee legend Lou Gehrig once claimed to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Yesterday afternoon, I felt I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

 

I was fortunate enough to spend the day with my friends and family at Yankee Stadium for the Bronx Bombers’ home opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Not only was it their home opener, it was their ring ceremony, held to commemorate their 2009 World Series Championship.

 

After a beautiful ceremony, the Yankees beat the Angels, 7-5.

 

But the day wasn’t just about RBIs, base hits, and runs scored. It wasn’t just about the Yankees receiving their championship rings. It went far beyond anything that anyone can really understand. Overall, it was a wonderful experience; one I will never forget.

 

A Meaningful Day

 

My cousin Thomas, who invited me and my other cousin Krystina to the game, could not have been more excited for Opening Day. He got the tickets and graciously invited us to this historic game. His father (my Uncle John) recently passed away. I know that Thomas would have loved nothing more than to share the day with his dad.

 

Since his dad could not be there, I find it so honorable that he wanted me there to share the day with him. I could not have felt better. The fact that he asked me to go with him nearly drove me to tears.

 

And it didn’t get any easier when we reached the ballpark.

 

The old ballpark is almost gone! 


  

Getting off the train, we noticed the old Yankee Stadium. The building is nearly torn down completely. It was an unbelievable sight to behold. I can remember so many great and meaningful memories for me in that Stadium, and my only thought was, “is it really right for them to just gut it and rip it down?”

 

I guess they had to do it, but it didn’t make me feel very good. I could tell Thomas was taken back by the whole thing; he was as overwhelmed as I was. The same building where Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and countless other Yankee legends made history is now in shambles; it’s merely a skeleton of what used to be a beautiful ballpark.

 

Heartbreaking, to say the least.

 

When we got inside the new Stadium, it was madness. Everywhere you looked the words, “2009 World Series Champions” were visible. The Great Hall was buzzing with Yankee fans, all ready to watch the team accept their 27th World Title.

 

2009 World Series Champs! 


  

Thomas, Krystina, and I went down to the field level. There we met up with Thomas’s sister (another one of my cousins) Ashley, who went to the game with her friend Matthew. We took a picture together–in my mind, the best picture I took all day. I took a ridiculous amount of photos of the players, the ceremony, and the game.

 

I love my family :) 


  

But I would say the group shot we took together was the best. I would not be anywhere without my family and they mean so much to me. I was honored that they invited me to the game, and for that I cannot thank them enough.

 

Ashley and Matt went to their seats while Thomas, Krystina, and I stayed on the field level to watch the Angels take batting practice, as the Yanks took BP before the gates opened to the public. We were literally pressed directly up against the wall in right field. We had a perfect view of everything!

 

Thomas kept yelling for a ball. He wanted one more than anything. Former Yankee Bobby Abreu was practically right in front of us. He lobbed a couple loose baseballs into the stands, but not any that came near us. Two security guards however were standing near us and Thomas chatted with them, trying to coerce them into getting him a ball.

 

Whoever was in the Angels’ batting cage smoked one down the right field line. The ball ricocheted off the side of the wall and onto the grass.

 

“Can you get that for me?” Thomas politely asked.

 

“We are not allowed to go on the grass,” one of the security guards answered.

 

Not long after that, another ball was ripped down the right field line in foul territory, landing safely on the dirt. It was right in front of the guards.

 

“Please!” Thomas persisted. “Please get that for me!”

 

The guard smiled, bent over, picked up the ball, and placed it softly in Thomas’s glove.

 

 
Tommy caught a foul ball during BP! 

 

I have never in my life seen a child happier. Thomas, with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon, had gotten a foul ball in batting practice, a feat I never accomplished at a Major League game. He was ecstatic and I was overjoyed that he was able to get it.

 

I’m sure it will be something he’ll remember forever.

 

What I thought was significant about the day was the team the Yankees were playing. They played the Angels. And I have no doubt in my mind that Thomas’s dad, my Uncle John, was one of the Angels at the Stadium yesterday–but he was an Angel for the Yankees. It truly felt as though he was right there with us.

 

Ring Ceremony

 


Ring Ceremony! 


  

After batting practice wrapped, the ring ceremony festivities were set to begin. I watched from behind centerfield and everything looked wonderful. Michael Kay and John Sterling emceed the ceremony and the World Series trophy was even on display.

 

First the team paid homage to owner George Steinbrenner, who was in attendance for the days’ events. I have never heard a louder ovation for a non-player in my life. The crowd roared for him and rightfully so. Without Mr. Steinbrenner, there would be no Yankee team.

 

Then Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra came out to help hand out the rings. Manager Joe Girardi also helped distribute the rings and he congratulated each player as they accepted their prize. One by one, every Yankee from last year’s team was called out to get their ring.

 

Really the only players who were missing were Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera. Jerry Hairston, Jr. (although no longer with the team) was in the ballpark to get his ring. As was Hideki Matsui, the MVP of the ’09 World Series who is now a member of the Angels.

 

They saved Matsui’s introduction for last, and he received a humungous, deafening ovation. I think every Yankee fan recognized Matsui’s hard work and dedication over the seven years he played in the Bronx. I know he will always be a Yankee in my heart.

 

group hug! 


  

When the ceremony was ready to conclude, the whole team ran in and showed Matsui a lot of love; the team got together one last time and embraced for a group hug. The hug almost brought a tear to my eye, because I know how close the 2009 team was.

 

I didn’t realize until I got home how they had tricked Matsui. Girardi handed him a bootleg ring and later during the Opening Day ceremony ran the real ring over to him. Matsui laughed and I could see his Angel teammates also teasing him for it.

 

A little playful humor now and then is relished by the best teams, I guess.

 

And speaking about the Opening Day ceremony: once again, overwhelming. They called the Angels out of their dugout and they all lined up along the third baseline. The Yankees lined up on the first baseline, and cadets from West Point stood in center field to unfurl the American flag. Not long after the anthem ended, two enormous jets flew over Yankee Stadium.

 

USA! 


  

Those fighter jets were LOUD! When I tell you they were loud, they were LOUD! The ground literally shook as they flew over the new house. And once again, it was quite a sight to behold. My only word for it: “Amazing.”

 

 


LOUD!!!!!!! 

After the anthem and beautiful aerial presentation, Bernie Williams, the great former center fielder, tossed out the honorable first pitch. Talk about an ovation! Williams received a rousing hand from us Yankee faithful, but it somewhat shocked us how he bounced the pitch. Being a former All-Star center fielder, you would think Williams would hit home plate! He missed, much to the surprise of the crowd. The gentleman standing next to me yelled, “Oh, come on Bernie! You gotta hit the glove!”

 

It’s Ok, Bernie. I still love you.

 

After the Yankees were finished warming up and all pre-game ceremonies were over, it was time to, as they say, play ball! Yankees vs. Angels.

 

The Game

 


NJ homered for the Yankees' first run 


  

The Yankees struck first in the bottom of the first. Designated hitter Nick Johnson blasted a solo home run to right field, a shot that (as I understand) landed right next to Bald Vinny–the legendary Bleacher Creature who starts the famous Yankee “roll call” at the beginning of each home game.

 

Unfortunately I was on line for food when this happened, but I heard the crowd roar and got into a spot just in time to see Johnson cross home plate. In any event it was the first of many home runs the Yankees will hit in their house in 2010.

 

As Andy Pettitte worked brilliantly through the first three innings, the Yankees held a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the frame. The Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, stepped up to the plate and crushed a solo home to right field, his first of the year.

 

It really is amazing how many games I have been to that have featured a home run by Jeter. It seems every game I get out to, he hits a home run. I can think of at least five games off the top of my head in which Jeter has homered. Maybe I bring some kind of luck to him, who knows.

 

 
touch 'em all, Jeter! 

 

In any event, 2-0 Yankees at the end of three innings of play.

 

One of the more special moments during the day was Matsui’s first at-bat. The former beloved Yankee received yet another rousing ovation from the fans while he stepped into the batter’s box. Pettitte respectfully tipped his cap and stepped off the mound and allowed his former teammate to soak up the moment.

 

Matsui removed his helmet and acknowledged the fans who once called him a hero. Unfortunately for the 2009 World Series MVP, the Yankees were not very kind to him in terms of his day at the plate. He was 0-for-5 on the day with a strikeout.

 


 
Hideki Matsui was 0-for-5   

 

The Yankees tacked on three more runs before the end of the sixth inning. Jeter was at it again in the fourth, reaching on an infield single that scored Curtis Granderson. In the sixth, Alex Rodriguez reached on yet another infield single, which brought home Johnson and Nick Swisher.

 

5-0, all Yankees at the end of six innings. It was looking good for us.

 

That is, until Kendry Morales stepped up in the top of the eighth. The Angels’ first baseman smashed a long, solo home run into the second deck in right field, putting the Angels on the board, 5-1.  

 

The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth, both of them proving to be the difference in the game. Jorge Posada doubled to score Johnson and Granderson singled to score Robinson Cano, giving the Yankees a 7-1 edge.

 

Posada’s double put him ahead of Mantle on the all-time Yankee doubles list.

 

You would think with a 7-1 lead heading into the ninth inning everything would be safe and secure. Well, think again. Feeling that the game was practically over, my cousins and I watched the end of the game from the concourse on the first base side.

 

And we received a pleasant surprise followed by a not-so-pleasant surprise, followed by a happy ending.

 

The End

 


closer view after the seat upgrade!!! 


  

Right before the ninth inning began, two gentleman sitting in the field box seats decided to leave. One of them tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his tickets.

 

“Here you go,” he said. “You guys can watch the end from the field level seats.”

 

“WOW!” I exclaimed. “Thank you very much!”

 

“Don’t mention it,” he replied.

 

How awesome is that?! You never really see that type of chivalry anymore. A man, not knowing who I was, just gave up his seats to me, a stranger. Granted, the game was almost over, it was still a very noble gesture and overall a kind act.

 

Who says New Yorkers are mean-spirited?

 

In any event my cousins and I, now sitting in comfortable, padded box seats, watched David Robertson surrender hit after walk after hit, eventually loading the bases. I still thought the Yankees were in great shape, even if they only gave up a run or two.

 

To our dismay, former Yankee Abreu stepped up and slaughtered a grand slam home run to left field, something he specialized in when he played for the Yankees. I will always like Abreu; in my mind he was the best Yankee right fielder since Paul O’Neill. But yesterday…I did not like him. He burned us pretty bad.

 

 
Bobby Abreu hit a grand slam! 

 

I mean, Abreu’s home run was a real shot. I’m talking way back into the left field seats.

 

Now with the score at 7-5 and a save situation in place, Girardi was prompted to bring in Mariano Rivera. The great Rivera struck Torii Hunter out swinging and then got his former teammate Matsui to pop out to end the game.

 

Enter Sandman. 


  

Ballgame over. Yankees win. THEEEEE Yankees win!

 

We stayed and watched the Yankees take congratulations and improve their record to 5-2.

 


 
taking congrats.    

 

We exited the ballpark and once again looked at the demolished old stadium. Thomas looked at it once more, and looking at it again, I could not help but think of all the games his father took us to. I think a part of us went down with that stadium.

 

But then we glanced back at the new stadium and thought about the days’ events. The Yankees had just won and we had just witnessed history; the first ring ceremony in the new Stadium, a batting practice foul ball, a great game, a seat upgrade from a gracious fan and a Yankee win.

 

And not only that, a day spent with my friends and family.

 

I could not have asked for anything better. It was just a day where nothing went wrong. I can truly say that I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the earth yesterday.

 

And Uncle John: I know you were there with us. We miss you.

 

Keep smiling down on us and the Yankees.

 


 
Yankees win!!  

Almost, But No No-No for Sabathia

Flirt. The word is defined as behaving amorously without serious intent or to show superficial interest or liking. Being a single guy, flirting is something I specialize in. Yet the word also refers to coming close to reaching or experiencing something.

 

 


CC Sabathia flirted with a no-hitter today 

In the New York Yankees’ 10-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays today, CC Sabathia did just that. The Yankee ace tossed 7 2/3 innings of hitless baseball until Kelly Shoppach lined a sharp single in front of Brett Gardner in left field.

 

Four outs and Sabathia would have tossed a no-no. Serious flirtation.

 

After Shoppach’s base hit to break up the no-hit bid, Sabathia departed. He ended the day with 7 2/3 innings, and shutout the Rays with just that one, painful hit. The Yankee ace walked two batters and struck out five, leaving David Robertson to finish the job.

 

However, even if Sabathia had gotten Shoppach out, would he have stayed in the game? After all, the big man was up at 111 pitches on the afternoon. Yankee manager Joe Girardi said that no matter what happened, “Sabathia’s day was over after he faced Shoppach.”

 

 


Would Sabathia have stayed in the game of he had gotten Shoppach out? 

On the other hand, Sabathia said that if he had gotten Shoppach out, he would have wanted to stay in the game. In his words, “the conversation on the mound would have been interesting.”

 

 


Dwight Gooden (below) David Cone (right) David Wells (left) have all achieved the pitcher's dream 

The last Yankee to throw a no-hitter was Dwight Gooden, who no-hit the Seattle Mariners on May 14, 1996. David Wells and David Cone both threw perfect games on May 17, 1998 (vs. Minnesota Twins) and July 18, 1999 (vs. Montreal Expos), respectively. Since then, no Yankee starter has ever thrown a no-no or perfecto.

 

However, some have come close.

 

On Sept. 2, 2001, Mike Mussina shut down the first 26 Boston Red Sox he faced at Fenway Park. Needing just one strike for a perfect game, Carl Everett lined a bloop single in front of Chuck Knoblauch in left field.

 

In September of '01, Mussina almost pitched a no-no 

 

Sound familiar, Shoppach?

 

Just last year on Aug. 31, Andy Pettitte shut down the Baltimore Orioles for 6 2/3 innings. Jerry Hairston, Jr. bobbled a grounder at third for an error to end the perfect quest. The very next batter, Nick Markakis, ended the no-hitter with a single through the hole into…you guessed it, left field.

 

It seems left field is the “death valley” of Yankee no-nos and perfectos.

 

Why does left field not want the Yankees to pitch no-nos and perfectos?

Come to think of it, Cone’s perfect game in ’99 was nearly broken up by a fly ball to left field. In the ninth inning, pinch hitter Ryan McGuire popped a ball out to short left field, forcing Ricky Ledee to get on his horse. Stunned with a “deer-in-the-headlights” look on his face, he basket-caught the ball, juggled it, and held on for the out.

It might be a some kind of left field curse. 

 

On the bright side, Sabathia picked up his first win of 2010, the Yankees improved to 3-2 on the year, and the big man lowered his ERA to 3.46.

 

Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano supplied the Yanks with plenty of offense Saturday 

 

Along with Sabathia’s brilliance, Mark Teixeira, who was hitless this season up until today, finally came alive. The first baseman had three hits on the day, a double and two singles. Coupled with those three hits were an RBI and two runs scored.

 

Robinson Cano continued his fine hitting out of the number five hole, as he went 2-for-5 in the game. He belted a long, two-run home run into the right field seats in the top of the fourth inning en route to a three-RBI day. He now has a team-leading six RBIs in the first five games.

 

Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Francisco Cervelli all contributed with RBIs to give the Yankees their 10 runs in the game.

 

Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees and Rays will play the rubber game of their three-game weekend series. A.J. Burnett (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will face James Shields (0-0, 4.50 ERA)

Rough Start

 

 

Not what we wanted...

What an upsetting night. That’s really all I can say. On Opening Night, the most exciting day on the calendar, baseball’s “New Year” if you will, the New York Yankees dropped a 9-7 decision to the hated Boston Red Sox.

 

With the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning, Curtis Granderson grounded out to third to end the game. But long before Granderson made the last out, the Yankees coughed up two leads.

 

Up 5-1, the Yankees allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the sixth. The Yankees took back the lead in the seventh, going up 7-5 only to let Boston come back and score four runs to win the inaugural baseball game in the 2010 season.

 

What a crazy and tragic way to open the year. Horrible.

 

Good Things

 

 


Curtis Granderson fit in well 

·        Granderson looked to fit right in, hitting a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee. The last player to accomplish that feat was Cody Ransom in 2008.

 

·        Jorge Posada, who was recently suffering from a stiff neck, was 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs, and a walk. The Yankee catcher looks to be in top form, which is exactly what they need.

 

Posada now has four opening Day homers and is tied for second place with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra on the Yankees’ Opening Day home runs list. Babe Ruth is first with five. If Posada goes deep next year on Opening Day, he will certainly be in elite company with the Babe.

 

·        CC Sabathia up until the sixth inning. He was rolling, but just seemed to run out of petrol. He finished the night with 5 1/3 innings of work under his belt, and he scattered five earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. He threw 104 pitches, 58 for strikes.

 

·        Derek Jeter was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Not bad, captain.

 

·        The double steal: EXCELLENT move. It could not have gone better for the Yankees. Credit Brett Gardner with a steal of home! I hope Joe Girardi pushes other teams this way in the future.

 

 

Bad Things

 

 


Chan Ho Park...not so much 

  • The wild pitch by Damaso Marte. This angered me immensely. He cannot do much more of that this year.

 

  • Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia: combined 5-for-8 with a homer (by Pedroia) and five RBIs. Yuck. I really hope they both cool off before Tuesday.

 

  • Chan Ho Park–everything he did tonight, he should never do again. Maybe the Yankees should have put Royce Ring on the roster…?

 

  • The Yankees left nine men on base. Totally the opposite of cool.

 

  • Joba Chamberlain: 1 1/3 innings, one earned run, two hits, one walk, no Ks. His slider was moving nicely (I’ll give him that) but the line…not pretty.

 

  • Neil Diamond singing that awful “Sweet Caroline” song in the middle of the eighth inning. Lame!

 

 

Overall, it was not such a great night. Exciting, yes, but it would have been better if the Yankees came out on top.

 

The Yanks will be back at it Tuesday. A.J. Burnett vs. Jon Lester. We need Dr. Jekyll to show up, because the Yankees could use a win after tonight’s sour loss. Just remember that the Red Sox have not “put us back into our place,” as they might think.

 

There are 161 games left. And we are STILL the reigning World Champions!

 

We're still the CHAMPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Ready or Not, Here We Go!

Well gang, here we are on the eve of the baseball season. In a little over 24 hours the Yankees and Red Sox will dim the lights and raise the curtains on the 2010 MLB season. It’s on; the wait is over. It’s the best day of the sports year, if you ask me. It’s your number one vs. their number one.

 

As Al Bundy once said, “Let there be baseball. Let there be LIFE.”

 

Time to get yapping about the Yankees!

 

 

Yankees vs. the Future Yankees

 

 


The Yanks played the Future Yanks today 

Manager Joe Girardi said it best: “Either way, we can’t lose today!”

 

The Yankees started their regular players against a team of baby Bombers in the final spring training game this afternoon. It was quite interesting to see Derek Jeter and the boys play against some of the young guys who are just trying to start their baseball careers. Girardi took it easy on the youngsters and only played the regulars for the first three innings.

 

The Yanks beat the Future Yanks, 9-6.

 

To me it was a little strange how they divided up the team. Some of the non-Yankees played on the Yankee team. I guess that was just the way to get everyone in; not all of them could play on the future team and they wanted every player to get some work in.

 

It wasn’t too torturous for them–the Yankees only scored three runs on them in the bottom of the first! Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher knocked in a combined five runs on the future Yanks, hopefully just a prequel of what they do tomorrow vs. the Red Sox.

 

Jonathan Albaladejo started for the future Yanks against Javier Vazquez, who made his final start before the regular season. Vazquez turned in a decent performance, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.

 

Not bad for Vazquez, but he could do a little better next week when he faces the Rays.

 

Some of the future stars intrigued me. For one, Melky Mesa. I could not believe I saw another player with the name Melky. I thought there was only one Melky, and he now plays for the Braves! He didn’t have a hit today, but I just like his name.

 

Along with Mesa, Slade Heathcott grabbed my attention. He is ranked as the third-best Yankee prospect by Baseball America, and he showed some great speed today. In his first at-bat, he beat out a slow roller to third for a single. Alex Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and he was safe! 

 

I also was taken back by Pat Venditte–the “switch pitcher.” He pitched in the top of the eighth inning and he gave up a run. It was just so strange how he kept changing his pitching hand; he would throw to right-handers with his left hand and pitch to left-handers with his right hand. (Although I do think he threw to one right-hander with his right hand)

 

So weird.

 

You have to see him pitch for yourself to really get a feel for what he is about. His arm angle when pitching with his left hand is much different than when he throws righty. He seems to sidearm the ball when he throws left and almost flings it. But as a right-hander he throws much more conventional and overhand.

 

Pat Venditte's arm angle differs 

 

Not to mention his mitt. Venditte fashioned an “ambidextrous glove” (I guess you could call it?) so that he can pitch with both hands. It’s quite a sight to behold and unbelievably fascinating.

 

This is Venditte's glove! 

 

I hope we see Venditte in the future, but I do think he has a lot of work to do before being called up. He’s not quite ready to pitch to real major leaguers yet, but if he keeps at it and can find ways to get hitters out with his unique pitching style, he’ll make the show.

 

Overall, it was a fun game to watch today and a cool way to end spring training.

 

 

 

The Opening Day Roster

 

 


The Yanks have set their 25-man roster 

Most of the decisions made regarding the opening day, 25-man roster the Yankees will use didn’t shock me. Of course all of the regulars will be there; Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez….yeah, you get the idea.

 

I’m glad to see David Robertson will be in the bullpen along with Boone Logan. But if you ask me, Royce Ring deserves to be there, too. For the type of spring he had and his past Major League service, he should at least be given a chance.

 

Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre, Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves, and Joba Chamberlain will also be in the ‘pen. But mark my words, if one of these guys is not cutting it, Ring is the right guy to plug into the spot. I watched him this past month, and I have to say, he did some fine work in Tampa.

 

Marcus Thames did not have the best spring, only averaging somewhere around .135 at the plate. But he hit three homers this spring and showcased more power than Randy Winn. Both players made the team. We’ll see how each one does during the season, but one of them could be used as trade bait.

 

Lastly, Ramiro Pena made the team as the extra infielder. I think this is the best move, I like Pena, and I hope he has a great year in the big leagues. He will be an asset to the club and I have a good feeling about him.

 

We have the team set, now we just have to find the chemistry.

 

 

 

The Series vs. Boston 

 

The Yanks play the Sox tomorrow!!!!

I guess the schedule-maker this year had a malicious sense of irony, pitting the Yanks against the hated Red Sox on opening night. The Bombers and BoSox will play tomorrow, have a day off on Monday, and then play the next two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

As mentioned before, it’s our number one vs. their number one tomorrow, meaning CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett. A lot of people are quick to mention Sabathia’s tendency to start slow and not put up his best work until later on in the season.

 

In fact, many of my friends have told me the Yankees will probably lose tomorrow night.

 

Keep in mind, whenever the Yankees play Boston in Fenway, they are not just facing the Red Sox. They are facing Red Sox Nation. It’s hard for any team to play there because the fans are just unbelievably rowdy. It’s hard to win there.

 

We’ll see what happens on Opening Night. Anything can happen. We might see Sabathia pick up right where he left off last season–dominating everyone he faces. He didn’t have the best spring, but those numbers do not mean much. We won’t find out until tomorrow.

 

Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett will make the start against Jon Lester. We’ll have to wait and see which Burnett will show up–Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, hopefully Jekyll.

 

When Lester is on, he is one of the most brilliant left-handed pitchers in the American League. Burnett has to bring his best stuff and the offense has to bring their best mindset to win Tuesday.

 

Ending the series on Wednesday, Andy Pettitte will start against the Red Sox’ big off-season acquisition, John Lackey. Pettitte has done so well against the Boston over the years and last year was 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts against Boston.

 

Lackey, although many people think he has the Yanks’ number, has not done well against the Yankees historically. Just last year in the ALCS, Lackey was 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts. Lifetime vs. New York, he is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA and at Fenway Park he is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA.

 

Not very pretty, Mr. Lackey.

 

But I’m looking past all that. On paper, the Yanks have an advantage. But on paper is not going to win the game. It all depends on who plays better on that day. That’s all there is to it.

 

Look at it this way: even if the Yankees do not get off to the best start this year, it’s not the end of the world. They started slow last year, even going 0-8 in the first eight games vs. Boston. It worked out for them in the end.

 

As they say, baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.

 

 

 

 

Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint 

Enjoy Opening night everyone! And have a Happy Easter.

 

GO YANKEES!!!

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

With one week and one day left of spring training baseball, the Yankees are starting to get into regular season form. Saturday afternoon the Bronx Bombers beat the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland by a score of 2-1.

 

Here’s what I made of it…

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 


Dr. Jekyll-Burnett came to play today 

Coming into this game A.J. Burnett was 0-1 this spring, not exactly setting the Yankees on fire. I recently wrote a blog about Burnett, calling out his inconsistency and how everyone compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season.

 

Today, he was “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett.”

 

The Yanks’ number two man tossed 91 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He only gave up three hits, struck out two, and issued three walks. Not a bad day at the office for Burnett and it was a good sign, considering the Tigers played most of their regulars.

 

Manager Joe Girardi liked what he saw from Burnett today too; the skipper said he was “mixing his pitches, using the fastball more effectively, and was demonstrating better control than his last few starts.”

 

Could not have said it better myself. Burnett was also in a good rhythm with Jorge Posada, who was catching him this afternoon. Many people have made issues about the Burnett-Posada battery in the past, but if they work together as nicely as they did today there won’t be many problems.

 

Overall, Burnett looked great. A smooth and effortless delivery, a good fastball, a great breaking pitch, and everything was working for him. Let’s just hope he pitches like this for the better part of the upcoming season.

 

Burnett will have one more start this spring before April 6–his first regular season start in Boston vs. the Red Sox.

 

Former Teams

 

 


Each player who lent a hand in scoring today played for the other team last year 

What was interesting about this game was the scoring. The Yankees scored two runs, both of which were brought on by former Tigers. The Tigers plated one run, which was scored by a former Yankee.

 

In the top of the first, Curtis Granderson knocked in Posada with a two-out RBI single. Of course Granderson played for the Tigers last season, as did Marcus Thames.

 

With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, Thames took Tigers’ starter Nate Robertson deep to left for a long solo home run, a blast that gave the Yankees the lead they would not relinquish.

 

I think Thames needed that home run, considering the abysmal spring he is having. Heading into that at-bat, he was only averaging .114 at the plate. Yikes!

 

As for the Tigers, former Yank Johnny Damon scored in the bottom of the third on an RBI single off the bat of Magglio Ordonez. After Damon hit a two-out double Ordonez drove him in from second with a base hit to right field. I have to give credit to Randy Winn, who nearly made a spectacular outfield assist.

 

Damon just beat the throw to home plate, which was right on the money. A solid effort and a great throw by Winn, but the former Yankee was called safe at home.

 

It was just a strange day in terms of the scoring. Not many runs and a former player on each team lent a hand in each run. Crazy!

 

Joba Chamberlain

 


Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the 'pen 

 

As announced on Thursday, Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the bullpen. Phil Hughes won the fifth starting pitcher’s spot, much to the dismay of many people including Chamberlain.

 

A good friend of mine called me almost immediately after the Yankees made the decision. I answered my phone and he literally went off about how angry he was how Hughes was named the fifth starter over Chamberlain. His argument was that the Yanks wasted time with the “Joba Rules” and how they treated him last year.

 

Think about it: they put Chamberlain on six days rest and then had him go out and throw 4 1/3 innings in some instances. They put him through all of that just to make him a reliever again? My friend said,

 

“He may not have been Roy Halladay right off the bat, but Rome was not built in a day.”

 

Excellent point. Chamberlain is only 24 years old. If he was 34 years old and not performing at a high level as a starter, then I would say leave him in the bullpen.

 

I think many people forget what he did in July 25, 2008 against the Red Sox at Fenway. Chamberlain started the game and tossed seven shutout innings against the BoSox, beating the ace of the Red Sox staff, Josh Beckett. Not only did he pick up the win in that game, he only allowed three hits and fanned nine batters.

 

The capability and talent is there. He just needs a chance to put it to use.

 

Chamberlain said Hughes did a better job during spring training and earned the spot, but he also said he was disappointed. He has a right to feel that way. Everyone was expecting him to be the fifth guy and I can tell he wanted to be. But I think one thing has to be made clear:

 

Even though Hughes is starting the year in the rotation, it doesn’t mean Chamberlain won’t be there. If Hughes struggles (the way he has in the past as a starter) Chamberlain could very well be plugged into that spot and get some starts. Nothing is set in stone; it just means Hughes is starting the year in the rotation!

 

Maybe everything will work out fine. Perhaps Hughes will find his niche in the rotation while Chamberlain finds his in the ‘pen. Just as he has proven to be a dominant starter, Chamberlain can be just as deadly as a reliever.

 

After all, he did pitch a scoreless ninth inning today and pick up a save.

 

Other Notes:

 

 


Spring Training 

–The Tigers’ spring training field is named “Joker Marchant Stadium.” Detroit officially wins the award for silliest Stadium name. Ever.

 

–David Robertson took over for Burnett and got out of the sixth inning. The more I watch him, the more I like him. He is great!

 

–Chad Gaudin was released by the Yankees. He made seven starts for the Bronx Bombers last year and the Yanks were 7-0 in those games. I hope he finds a new team, he can really help a ball club the way he helped the Yankees.  

 

–Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano did not make the trip over to Lakeland today.

 

–Nick Johnson played first base this afternoon. I think it’s good he can play the field, but unfortunately he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate. He did draw a walk though.

 

–As mentioned before, Randy Winn almost made a great outfield assist. Even though he missed it, he still did a great job in right field. He made some nice catches and even doubled up a runner at first after an awesome snag. I’ll give him a lot of credit–he won some battles with the sun and wind today!

 

–The Tigers have a minor leaguer named Michael Rockett. Deik Scram, Michael Rockett…Jeesh, the Tigers are chuck full of minor leaguers with funny names!

 

–Chan Ho Park’s nickname is “Chop.” Cool. Even cooler, he worked his way out of a 1st and 3rd, one-out jam in the eighth inning.

 

–Joel Zumaya of the Tigers struck out the side in the sixth inning. He whiffed Granderson, Winn, and Ramiro Pena. I am officially scared of him again. He has been practically a non-factor these past two seasons, but his fastball hit 99 mph on the speed gun and his curve ball was NASTY. I am not looking forward to facing him this year.

 

–During the telecast, Michael Kay and Tino Martinez had a discussion about the pies to the face after a walk-off win. Kay said the dynasty teams were “very conservative” and that Paul O’Neill (at first) did not like the pies after the walk-off wins.

 

Martinez however liked them and said the team did not look like they were having fun the last five-six years. “The pies loosened them up,” Martinez elegantly stated.

I have to side with favorite player during the dynasty (Martinez) and say he was right.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees take on the Tigers yet again, only this time they will play in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field.   

Will the Real A.J. Burnett Please Show Up?

 

 

A.J. dominated Game Two of the World Series

On Thursday Oct. 29 of last year, the Yankees were in an unfamiliar spot. The night before, they had lost the first game of the World Series in convincing fashion, dropping a 6-1 decision in Game One. For Yankee fans everywhere, it was frightening to be down 0-1 to a team like the Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Even more frightening was the fact that the Yanks were sending the enigmatic A.J. Burnett to the mound, a mostly inconsistent number two starter with a 13-9 regular season record. For most of the second half of the 2009 season, the Yankees were unsure of which version of Burnett would show up to pitch: the good or the bad.

 

Many even compared Burnett to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

 

 


Good Burnett? Bad Burnett? 

Burnett answered everyone by going out to the mound in Game Two dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. He was able to adjust to the home plate umpire’s strike zone and eventually racked up nine strikeouts over seven innings of work. Not to mention the first 11 Phillies Burnett faced saw first-pitch strikes, indicating he was on top of everyone that night. The Yankees beat the Phillies 3-1 in Game Two behind Burnett’s stunning performance.

 

In Game Two of the World Series, it’s safe to say we saw “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett.”

 

However in Game Five of the fall classic, Burnett was forced to pitch on three days rest, with manager Joe Girardi “sticking with his horses in the World Series.” In other words, the Yankee skipper only used CC Sabathia, Burnett, and Andy Pettitte to start each game.

 

And in Game Five, we saw “Mr. Hyde-Burnett.”

 

 


Burnett was eaten alive in Game Five of the fall classic 

The lanky right-hander only pitched two innings and gave up six earned runs on just four hits. He walked four batters and only struck out two. Burnett hit Shane Victorino in the first inning with a pitch that got away, which led to his downfall. Not long after the hit-by-pitch, Chase Utley came up and hammered a long home run to right field, putting the Phils up 3-1 after the first frame.

 

In the 2009 World Series, both versions of Burnett showed up. Now with the 2010 season right around the corner, which version of Burnett will we see?

 

If we were to go by his spring Training numbers to this point, we would have to say “Mr. Hyde-Burnett.” So far this spring, the Yanks’ number two man is 0-1 with an ERA of 9.00. He has given up eight earned runs on 14 hits in eight innings of spring training work. Burnett has also walked eight batters in those eight innings while only striking out six.

 

His spring training numbers are worse than Joe Biden’s mouth.

 

Yet looking at each game individually, it seems as though Burnett is not necessarily having a bad spring, just simply pitching as inconsistently as last year. On March 16 against Houston, he tossed only 2 1/3 innings and gave up one earned run on just two hits. The walks were a problem for him, as he issued four free passes, but he answered with two strikeouts.

 

It was not a terrible outing for a spring tune-up. It could have been much worse.

 

Then the next time out on Monday March 22, Burnett was mauled by the same team that crushed him in Game Five of the World Series. The Phillies touched him up for five earned runs on seven hits over just four innings. Burnett struck out four, but again showing that control is a problem he is facing, he walked three.

 

Burnett and Jorge Posada will work together this year 

 

Some might be making an issue out of the fact that Jorge Posada will most likely be catching him this year, since his regular catcher last year, Jose Molina, is now a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The battery claims to have no problems despite what everyone makes of the pair.

 

“I love to catch A.J.,” Posada told the New York Post in February. “We have never had any issues or problems. It happens in baseball, you do not pitch great all the time.”

 

Burnett stood on the same side as Posada, stating that “He never questioned Jorge and he never will.” He added that he only questions himself.

 

When the Yankees and Atlanta Braves were rained out in their exhibition on March 11, Burnett and Posada stayed late at George M. Steinbrenner Field and worked out under the stands in the batting cages. Burnett threw 51 pitches, five of which were curveballs. After the session, Burnett said,

 

“The fact that Jorge stayed with me meant a lot and we worked like it was an actual game. We made it as game-like as we could and we got a lot out of it, so it was a good workout.”

 

How the two respond in the regular season as constant battery mates remains to be seen, however.

 

Historically, Burnett has been a “first-half pitcher,” and proved that last season. In his first two starts last April, Burnett quickly picked up two wins and even took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 14. Although Burnett has that kind history in the past of coming out strong, he also proved last season that he can be dominant and shaky throughout.

 

 


How will A.J. do this year? 

In July of 2009, Burnett went 4-0 and the Yankees did not lose a game he started. Yet when August came, he quickly became a different pitcher. On Aug. 7, he went head-to-head with Josh Beckett in a classic pitcher’s duel. After that, he did not win a game in almost a month.

 

When Burnett is on, he can come up big. But when he is off his game, he has a tendency to come down hard. With the way his first year in pinstripes went and with how his second Spring Training as a Yankee is going, it begs the question:

 

Which Burnett will show up in April?

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