Results tagged ‘ Johnny Damon ’
I am beginning to think the Yankees just cannot be beaten in a close, late-game situation.
The Yankees defeated the Phillies 7-4 in the ninth inning of game four of the World Series Sunday night with a miraculous, two-out rally.
The word of the 2009 postseason was once again used by me: “WOW.”
With the game knotted at four and two outs in the top half of the ninth, Johnny Damon worked a nine-pitch at-bat against Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge, ending in a two-out single by the Yankees’ left fielder. Damon promptly stole second base and with all his wits about him, took third.
With Mark Teixeira batting and the Phillies playing the infield over-shift, nobody was covering third base. After swiping second, Damon just got up and took third while he was at it.
Then Teixeira was hit with a pitch, bringing up the new “Mr. October,” Alex Rodriguez.
Now I have to admit, my heart was racing at this point. When I was watching, I thought I would need resuscitation after watching what was about to happen. A-Rod in another clutch situation…what was going to happen?
Rodriguez delivered, that’s what happened. The Yankee third baseman came up with a double to score Damon, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.
Jorge Posada came up next with Teixeira on third and A-Rod on second, hitting a two-run single to give the Bronx Bombers their seven runs and pad the Yankee lead. Posada also had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first, which gave him a total of three RBIs in the game.
I have to give Damon all the credit in the world; to work the count and come up with a hit in that pressurized situation with the crowd rocking the way it was, and on top of that steal two bases at once and then score–that was such brilliance. He certainly took charge of the situation and showcased the mental facet of his game.
Not to mention he went 3-for-5 on the night with a double in the first and an RBI single in the top of the fifth. Damon came up and knocked in Melky Cabrera, which gave the Yanks a 4-2 lead.
Derek Jeter also knocked in a run with an RBI single in the fifth that broke the 2-2 tie coming into the frame.
CC Sabathia took the mound for the Yankees tonight, pitching on three days rest for the second time this postseason. The big man pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out six.
I have to give Sabathia credit; he tossed a quality start. But he has clearly seemed a bit shaken in the World Series. His body language and his demeanor (to me) indicate that he might have been a little shaken these past two starts on the stage of the World Series. His numbers are still good, but he looks a little off. It’s not physical (again, to me) it could be mental.
Maybe it’s just Chase Utley, who took Sabathia deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. That was Utley’s third World Series homer, and he has smacked all three of his homers off Sabathia.
Utley also doubled in the bottom of the first, a hit that scored Shane Victorino to put the Phillies on the board for the first time in the game.
It seems Utley has Sabathia’s number. That’s pretty much a fact at this point.
Pedro Feliz provided the rest of the offense for the Phils in game four. Not only did Feliz tie the game in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to score Ryan Howard, he homered off Joba Chamberlain to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Well, I probably shouldn’t say Feliz knocked Howard in to tie the game in the fourth. Replay showed that Howard never even touched home plate, yet the umpire called him safe. I guess we’re just looking the other way on that one…
Utley and Feliz saw some meatballs and took advantage. But I guess it didn’t matter; the Yankees were more clutch and got the job done. Mariano Rivera came in and saved the day yet again, Yankees win.
It was another nail-biter, another ninth inning win. But I’ll take it; Yankees up, 3-1.
I also want to point out how ridiculous the Phillies have been pitching to A-Rod. In the first inning, Rodriguez was hit with a pitch, the third time in the last two games he’s been beaned. The benches were warned after the HBP, but nothing came of it.
They may have hit A-Rod in the first…but he hit back in the ninth.
Rodriguez now has 15 RBIs this postseason, which ties the Yankees’ single postseason record. A-Rod is knotted with Scott Brosius in 1998 and Bernie Williams in 1996. Remember that Rodriguez is also tied with Williams for most home runs in a single postseason with six.
Facing elimination, Cliff Lee will hope the keep the Phillies alive tonight. He was dominant in game one at Yankee Stadium, tossing all nine innings without allowing an earned run.
Lee will face A.J. Burnett, who was just as dominant in game two. Burnett tossed seven innings and gave up only one earned run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.
Burnett will be throwing on three days rest for the fifth time in his career. On three days rest, Burnett’s numbers are stellar. He is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA on short rest, so we’ll see how he responds following that amazing outing in game two.
Honestly, if Burnett can go out there and do anything close to what he did in game two and if he can capture the win in the clinching game…I hate to even make picks or even predict things (because I am usually wrong) but he would make a strong case for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.
I have to say, at this moment it would be Rivera; if the Series ended tonight, I think Mo would be the MVP. But if Burnett can mimic what he did in game two, he certainly has a chance at the award. He won a pivotal game two–a game the Yankees said they needed to win after losing game one the way they did.
And if Burnett wins the final game…well, the work and evidence of an MVP is right there.
But like I said, I’m not calling it; I don’t make predictions. I can’t even predict the weather, much less which player may or may not win the MVP of the World Series!
Well guys, the Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series Title. It’s almost sad to see this season end, but we’re not done yet. ONE MORE WIN and we are World Champions!!!
I’ll be back after game five with some highlights, thoughts, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
The Yankees and Phillies turned game three of the World Series into the Home Run Derby, it seemed.
The World Series teams hit a combined six homers in the game, but it was the Yanks who out-slugged the Phils and won 8-5 in game three, taking a two-games-to-one lead in the fall classic.
Up 3-0 in the top of the fourth, Phillies starter Cole Hamels threw a pitch out over the plate to Alex Rodriguez, who crushed the ball to deep right field. Originally ruled a double, Rodriguez’s hit went under review by the umpires, who were forced to convene and use instant replay.
It turns out Rodriguez hit the camera behind the right field wall and had the camera not been in that exact spot, the ball would have undoubtedly left the yard. The ball was ruled a home run, it cut the lead to 3-2, and it got the Yankees back in the game.
That home run was Rodriguez’s first career World Series hit and it was his sixth homer this postseason. With that he tied Bernie Williams for most home runs in a single postseason. A-Rod certainly has the chance to set a new record, and he will if he leaves the yard one more time.
To be honest, I think it was the right call. That camera should not have been there; if it wasn’t there the ball was going out anyway, so…finally, a good call from the umps.
Nick Swisher also put on a display of power, hitting a double and a solo homer on the night. Swisher had been struggling greatly in the series, going 0-for-3 in game one and even being benched in game two.
Swisher broke out of it tonight and hats off to him. I expect him to carry over his good hitting from tonight throughout the rest of the series. He seems a lot looser than he was previously, so I think Swisher will be fine. Nice hitting!
Hideki Matsui also went yard in game three, blasting a pinch-hit, solo home run in the top of the eighth inning. That was Matsui’s second homer in as many games and his third career World Series home run.
Andy Pettitte made the start for the Yankees tonight and did a lot more than just pitch. The veteran lefty tossed six innings and gave up four earned runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out seven.
Pettitte may have tossed a pretty solid game (albeit not a quality start) but he helped his own cause in the top of the fifth. After Rodriguez made it 3-2 in the fourth, Pettitte came up with an RBI single off Hamels to tie the game at three.
With his RBI, Pettitte became the first Yankee pitcher since Jim Bouton in 1964 to record an RBI in the World Series. However, Pettitte (I guess) is one to gloat after he gets a hit. According to Derek Jeter, Pettitte has bragged about some of his past fall classic hits, including a base knock off Kevin Brown in 1998 and one against Randy Johnson in 2001.
With his hit last night, Pettitte can add Hamels to that list of pitchers he has hit off in the World Series.
The Yankees scored twice more in the fifth with a two-run double off the bat of Johnny Damon, giving them a lead they would not give back. Jorge Posada also added a run with an RBI single in the seventh, capping the Yankee offense.
Despite Pettitte’s decent outing, he did allow two solo home runs to Jayson Werth. The first bomb of Werth’s came in the second inning and he took Pettitte deep for the second time in the sixth.
Pettitte also allowed a bases-loaded walk to Jimmy Rollins and an RBI to Shane Victorino in the third, which put the Yankees in the hole.
Carlos Ruiz had the last home run in the game and the third homer for the Phillies, taking Phil Hughes deep in the ninth inning to finish the scoring on the night.
The Yankees were able to come from behind (again) and win. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me; they’ve been doing this all year. I was (of course) annoyed when the Phillies took the early lead, but I shouldn’t get annoyed.
The Yankees have it in them; that fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude that gives them the strength to come back in games like this. They are never out of any game, that’s all there is to it.
Tonight, CC Sabathia will take the mound on three days rest in game four against Joe Blanton. Sabathia is 3-1 this postseason with a 2.11 ERA and has struck out 36 batters.
Blanton on the other hand has not had much lifetime success against the Yankees, posting a career record of 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in 22 innings pitched vs. the Bombers.
Cliff Lee, who dominated the Yankees in game one, was considered by Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel to pitch game four on short rest. Lee however has never pitched on three days rest in his career. I guess Manuel didn’t want to push him, which is understandable.
Looks like the odds are once again in favor of the Yankees. With the way Sabathia pitched on three days rest in game four of the ALCS vs. the Angels (eight innings, one run, five hits, two walks, five strikeouts) and the career numbers Blanton has against the Yankees…well, the numbers don’t lie.
Sabathia pitched great in that game on short rest and Blanton has struggled against the Yankees, so things are looking bright in Yankee Universe. When the numbers are in their favor, I generally tend not worry.
Plus, I think CC stands for “Confidence! Confidence!” Whenever he takes the hill, the team just knows they have a chance to win. Tomorrow we’ll see what the workhorse/Yankee ace can do; I expect nothing but the best.
It’s safe to say that if the Yankees take game four from the Phillies tonight, they’ll have a stranglehold on the World Series and things will be looking even better than they are now for them.
Well, game three was scary at first (I guess that’s to be expected…I mean, it was Halloween!) but our Yanks came through, like they’ve been doing all year.
See you after game four with more highlights and analysis. Until then…
Two more wins, guys…TWO more!
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it….anywhere.”
Well, it may not have been as dramatic as 2003, when Aaron Boone slaughtered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game Seven of the American League Championship Series to beat the Red Sox, but I’ll take it.
Last night, the New York Yankees clinched the American League pennant by defeating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game Six of the ALCS and will now make their 40th World Series appearance.
For the first time in six years, we Yankee fans know what it’s like to be going to the fall classic. And it feels WONDERFUL!
As for ALCS Game Six…
Well, Yanks’ starter Andy Pettitte looked awesome in the first two innings, but ran into some trouble in the top of the third. Ex-Yankee Bobby Abreu knocked in the Angels’ first run in the frame with an RBI single to give the Halos a quick, 1-0 lead.
I loved Abreu when he was a Yankee (and I still love him) for that reason; in a key situation when the team needed a run, he could always deliver. And that hasn’t changed. Abreu is still one of the best timely hitters in the league and he showed it in the third inning of Game Six.
He could never play the wall very well, but I still think Abreu was probably the best right fielder the Yankees had since Paul O’Neill. I still love you, Bobby.
The Angels’ 1-0 lead didn’t last very long as the Yankees came storming back in the bottom of the fourth. (Now to be honest, I didn’t think the game was moving along nicely and up until the fourth really was not a good game. I actually turned the Giants/Cardinals game on for a little while (which didn’t end well) but eventually made my way back to the Yankees)
The Yankees had been leaving runners on base through the first three innings, but finally stopped it and broke through. With the bases loaded, Johnny Damon pounded out a two-run single to put the Yanks’ ahead.
Later in the frame, Alex Rodriguez drew a bases-loaded walk to score Derek Jeter, giving the Yankees a 3-1 cushion.
Pettitte cruised throughout the rest of the game, finishing the night with a quality start: 6 1/3 innings, one earned run on seven hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. Typical for Pettitte, who is probably the Yankees’ best big-game pitcher. He has given the Yankees length and quality in each of his three postseason starts.
Joba Chamberlain also lent a hand, tossing 2/3 of an inning after Pettitte departed without allowing a run. I have to say, Chamberlain has not been bad this postseason, save for Game Three when he gave up the go-ahead run, but other than that, he has been solid.
Joe Girardi was not messing around, however; in the eighth inning, he called on Mariano Rivera to get a six out save. In my opinion, it was probably the best thing to do. There might be some fans that disagree, but a two-run lead against the Angels in an elimination game…he had to go to Mo.
Girardi had taken so much heat for the pitching decisions he made in games three and five (three when he took David Robertson out for Alfredo Aceves; five when he left A.J. Burnett in after a leadoff single in the seventh inning with a two-run lead) so really he had to do it.
The Sandman actually scuffled a little bit in the eighth, much to my surprise. Rivera gave up a run on an RBI by Vladimir Guerrero, making it 3-2 in the middle of the eighth.
But some costly errors by the Angels (Howie Kendrick dropped a ball on a bunt by Nick Swisher and Scott Kazmir lobbed the ball over the head of Kendrick on yet another bunt by Melky Cabrera) allowed the Yanks to plate three more runs, holding a 5-2 lead over the Angels going into the top of the ninth.
Down by three runs, top of the ninth, facing Rivera…you pretty much do not stand a chance. See you next year, Angels.
Rivera mowed down the Halos in the ninth and the Yankees celebrated their 40th pennant. The happiest feeling a team and their fans can have, other than winning the World Series.
Champagne spraying, glee on the faces of the Yankees, happiness, and a pennant. A great way to end the ALCS.
The ALCS at a Glance
The Yankees’ 2009 ALCS win marks the 40th time they have won the pennant. The Yankees have made it to the World Series more than any other team in baseball. The Dodgers have the second-most World Series appearances, reaching the fall classic 21 times.
With their ALCS win, the Yankees have finally gotten past the Angels, who had beaten and eliminated them in the playoffs twice before (2002 and 2005–both of those were in the ALDS, however)
Andy Pettitte captured his 16th playoff victory in Game Six. He is now the all-time postseason wins leader, breaking the tie of 15 with John Smoltz.
Pettitte also has the most playoff innings pitched, tossing a mind-boggling 237 1/3 innings. Smoltz is also second to Pettitte on that list with 209 innings pitched.
With the Game Six win, Pettitte has now pitched in five games which have given the Yankees a postseason series victory. That sets a new record and he is of course in first place in postseason wins (16) starts (38) and innings (237 1/3)
CC Sabathia won the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award for his record of 2-0, ERA of 1.13 and his 12 strikeouts in the 16 innings he pitched in the final round before the World Series.
The Yankee ace only allowed nine hits over those 16 innings pitched and just three walks. The Bronx Bombers have won all three of Sabathia’s playoff starts.
Sabathia is the first MVP of the ALCS since Mariano Rivera, who earned the honor in 2003. Game Six winning pitcher (Pettitte) won the award in 2001.
The last time the Yankees won a Game Six of a championship series was in 2000 when they defeated the Seattle Mariners in Game Six of the ALCS.
The Angels committed nine errors in the ALCS. The Yankees committed three.
The Yankees outscored the Angels 33-19 in the championship round.
Alex Rodriguez had nine hits in the ALCS, including three home runs. Overall this postseason, he has 14 hits, five homers, and 12 RBIs.
This will be Rodriguez’s first career World Series appearance.
Rivera now has 37 career postseason saves, which is of course the most by any closer all-time. (I think it’s safe to say Mo has put the record so far out of reach no one is going to be able to look up at it, let alone break it!)
Rivera did give up a run in the eighth inning of Game Six–that marked the first time he has given up a postseason run at home since the 2000 World Series.
Well, Yankee fans. It has been an incredible season. From steroid scandals and spring training to the 22-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians in April; from walk-off wins, winning streaks, and pies in the face all the way through the glorious, victorious summer months.
The Yankees turned the dog days into days where the beat other teams like dogs.
From winning the AL East in front of the Red Sox at home to winning the AL Pennant in front the Angels at home. It has been a wild ride.
And it’s not over yet!
The Phillies present a huge challenge to the Yankees in the World Series. They are the best-of-the-best in the National League and they certainly aren’t a pushover. They have a potent lineup, with players like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth.
It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully it will be fun.
The Yankees did play the Phillies during inter-league play this year, losing two out of three to their World Series opponents May 22-24.
The Phils beat the Yanks 7-3 in the first game, but the Yankees edged them in game two with a dramatic comeback and a 5-4 walk-off win. Game three belonged to the Phillies, as they won 4-3, but the Yanks put up a good fight in that game; they tied the score when it looked like they had no chance.
The last time the Yankees and Phillies met in the World Series, the year was 1950. The outcome? The Yankees swept the Phillies in four games.
While I don’t think it will be a clean sweep in 2009, I have a good feeling the Yankees will win. I could picture the Yankees accomplishing something similar to what they did in the ALCS; possibly winning it all in six games.
The Yankees have a totally different team this year than they did the last time they reached the World Series in 2003. In fact, most of the players from the ’03 squad are gone and some are even retired!
The 2003 ALCS was our World Series that year. I really think the Yankees were so exhausted from those marathon games (and maybe the physicality and fight) with Boston and having the ALCS go to seven games that they didn’t stand a chance in World Series vs. the Florida Marlins.
The pitchers were worn out, the hitters were flat–2003 was not our year. But 2009…well, it could very well be our year, no questions asked.
Whatever the case, things are looking up on this day and it is a beautiful day to be a Yankee fan. I am so proud and my heart is overjoyed that my team has reached the World Series and we may very well be the last team standing…
I will be back after Game One of the World Series with some thoughts, highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
By the way: Let’s do some real damage…! (No Phanatics were hurt in the making of this blog)
After Monday’s ugly loss, the Yankees bounced back very nicely.
In a one-sided squadoosh, the Bronx Bombers crushed the Los Angeles Angels 10-1 on Tuesday night. Another wild and crazy game, to say the least but the Bombers got the better of it.
The biggest story from this game: we all found out CC Sabathia used to have an imaginary friend named Danny growing up…just kidding. FOX did a lousy job with that one.
But in all seriousness, Sabathia was an absolute monster, throwing extraordinarily well on just three days rest. It was the first time this year he took the mound on short rest, but I expected nothing less from him. It was a sheer display of power pitching from the Yankee ace.
The reason I expected Sabathia to do well was because the day before, Yankees’ pitching coach Dave Eiland had him throw in the bullpen. In his session, Sabathia’s fastball was topping off at 96 mph, they say. The big man even went as far as saying he could pitch yesterday!!!
That would be just crazy, pitching on two days rest. But who knows, it may have worked!
In any event, Sabathia went another strong eight innings, and gave up just one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. He nearly made an exact copy his performance from Game One on Friday night. The big lefty certainly contained the Angels.
The Yankee ace was also extremely economical, tossing only 101 pitches on the night.
“I didn’t feel any different at all, I felt good,” Sabathia told the media after the game.
“We still got a little ways to go and I never had any doubts about me being able to perform on this stage but I feel great and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Sabathia made one mistake, a pitch that Kendry Morales was able to turn on and take out for a home run in the bottom of the fifth. Although he was a force for the Halos, hitting 34 homers during the regular season, it was only Morales’s first postseason homer.
Backing Sabathia was Alex Rodriguez, who is just on an absolute tear this postseason.
A-Rod is having a renaissance of sorts and is doing unbelievable, mind-numbing things this month. His assault on the month of October continued in Game Four, as he went 3-for-4 with another home run and two RBIs. He also drew a walk and scored three runs.
A-Rod is now batting .407 in the postseason with five homers and 11 RBIs. Remember when he was “Mr. April” in 2007, hitting 14 homers that month? Well, he is acting the same way in October 2009.
“I think for me it’s just being comfortable all year,” Rodriguez said. “That final game of the regular season when I homered twice was huge in terms of momentum.”
Bernie Williams hit six homers in the 1996 playoffs, the most ever by a Yankee in a single postseason. Rodriguez is right behind him and could easily overthrow Williams for that record.
Also leaving the yard today was Johnny Damon, who hit his second home run in as many games. His bat came alive today, which is a good thing for the Yankees.
What also struck me as odd about his home run was the history. It was five years ago this very night that Damon smacked a grand slam home run and a two-run homer in the same game at the old Yankee Stadium in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS.
The Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and beat the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS (as most of you painfully remember) but they won Game Seven in large part due to Damon’s homers in that game. It was just strange that he hit another home run on the same night five years later.
Who says there are no baseball gods…?
Melky Cabrera stepped out of his slump, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs, a walk, and a run scored. I had mentioned yesterday that he was killing us, but he snapped out of his little funk tonight.
Mark Teixeira had a hit tonight, albeit it was only one in five at-bats tonight. But he continued to play his stellar defense and he did hit the ball very hard. So I am not worried about Teixeira down the stretch here.
Nick Swisher did not have a hit tonight, but at least he did something productive drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch. He would have scored a run if he was not called out on yet another horrible call from the umpire.
Tim McClelland, tonight’s third base ump, said Swisher left too early on what would have been a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. OK, first off, the replay clearly showed that he left the base after the ball was caught by Torii Hunter. Next, McClelland was not even looking at Swisher…how would he know if Swisher left too early??!!
Well, the Yankees were given two other calls in the game.
Swisher was picked off at second base in the same inning but called safe; another botched call from the umpires. Then later, the Angels had a double play at third base, but somehow Robinson Cano was safe when he was tagged off the base and Jorge Posada was only ruled out.
It was a crazy play coupled with few absolutely horrible calls. I have to say, the umpiring in this series has been horrendous.
“In my heart I thought Swisher left too soon and I thought Cano was on the base. The replay showed that Cano was out and I knew Posada was out. I got it wrong,” McClelland said to the press after the game.
Well in all fairness to the Angels, it wasn’t fair to the Angels. In the postseason, the umpiring should not be this bad! Some people are even saying this is the worst umpiring they have ever seen. It certainly has been sketchy, that’s for sure.
Well, tonight was a whirlwind. It’s good to be up 3-1, but I think everyone has to keep in mind that the series is not done. 2004 (I know for me) is not far from my memory; I will not be content until the last out of the next game the Yankees are leading. The Angels are certainly capable of winning ballgames, so until we win the next game, I am not at ease.
A.J. Burnett will take the hill in Game Five on Thursday night and face Angels’ Game One starter John Lackey. If the Yankees win, they have a one-way ticket to the World Series.
If they don’t win it Thursday, Andy Pettitte will take the mound Saturday night, probably against Angels’ Game Two starter Joe Saunders.
However, there is an enormous amount of pressure on the Halos; they are now facing elimination for the first time this postseason and the Yankee bullpen is rested. Sabathia made it so that the tired Yankee ‘pen got a day of rest and with the off day tomorrow will be all-systems-go Thursday.
The Yanks’ big guns (Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera) will all be well-rested before Game Five. So looking at it from the outside, even if Burnett only goes a serviceable five innings, they have the stuff to get through the rest of the game.
Before I leave, I’d like to give a shout-out to Bob Sheppard, the Yankees’ longtime Stadium announcer. It was Sheppard’s 99th birthday today, God bless him! He has not been working at Yankee Stadium this season, due to a hip injury and he has also suffered from laryngitis.
Sheppard is known as the “Voice of God” at Yankee Stadium and he is a very special member of the Yankee family. We love you, Bob! If we make the World Series, it will not be the same without you!
Well, good night for us Yankee fans. Hopefully we follow with a win on Thursday. And if we do…hang onto the roof, because we’ll be heading to the fall classic!
See you after Game Five.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Last night the Yankees jumped over yet another hurdle.
Before game one of the American League Championship Series, all we had been hearing about were CC Sabathia’s poor career numbers in the postseason, Alex Rodriguez’s inability to perform in the playoffs, and all of the Yankees’ struggles vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
But it didn’t matter to them.
The Yankees went about their business like they have been doing all year, beating the Halos 4-1 in game one of the ALCS.
Let’s start with the obvious: Sabathia pitched like a machine, dominating the Angels over eight strong innings of work. He allowed only one earned run on just four hits, walked one, and struck out seven.
Sabathia won game one of the ALDS and game one of the ALCS, becoming the first Yankee to accomplish the feat since Orlando Hernandez in 1999.
The Yankee ace now has 21 victories this year, combing both his regular season and postseason wins.
“That was a great feeling to have the Stadium rocking,” Sabathia told the media in the press conference after the win. “I don’t really show a lot of emotion, but it came out of me there.”
Before each of Sabathia’s eight strikeouts, the Yankee faithful would boisterously chant “CC,” and he also noted his appreciation for the fans’ overwhelming support.
“Eh, he did alright,” Derek Jeter modestly joked after the game when the media asked him what he thought of Sabathia’s performance.
Before his last two games, Sabathia was 2-3 in the postseason with a bloated 7.92 ERA. In his last two October starts, the big man is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Not to mention he has recorded 15 strikeouts in his last two games while only allowing one walk.
The Yankee ace seems to be rewriting his postseason history.
The only run Sabathia allowed was an RBI single off the bat of Kendry Morales which scored Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the fourth.
The Yankees on the other hand cashed in on the many mistakes the Angels made.
In the bottom of the first, the Yankees put a run on the board quickly with a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez, jumping out to a 1-0 lead.
After game one of the ALCS, Rodriguez is now batting .462 this postseason with two homers and seven RBIs. How’s that for no production in October?
Then Hideki Matsui popped a fly ball toward the left side of the infield, almost right in between third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar. The ball dropped right in between the two of them, allowing Johnny Damon to score, much to the disgust of Angels’ starter John Lackey.
Charge that an error on the Angels but neither player ever really called for the ball. It seemed as though both of them just expected the other guy to get it and in the end they both looked like a couple of deer in the headlights.
“I saw him standing there and I thought he was going to catch it,” Aybar told the press after the game. “There was no communication.”
Figgins said that one of them should have called for the ball, and it was an honest mistake by both players.
A costly mistake by the Angels, one of the three errors they would commit in the game. It’s strange; in all five games of the 2005 ALDS, the Halos only made one error. Last night they made three. It was not like them.
The Yankees would score their third run in the fifth, as Damon busted out of his 1-for-12 postseason slump and led off the inning with a double. After a walk to Rodriguez, Matsui drove in Damon with a base hit to left field.
Rodriguez would be put out, however, running through the stop sign set by third base coach Rob Thomson and getting nailed at home on a play at the plate.
The next inning, Melky Cabrera worked a walk and reached second on an errant pickoff throw from Lackey. Jeter then poked a sharp liner up the middle that got by Torii Hunter in centerfield, allowing Cabrera to score and it gave the Yankees their fourth run.
Charge two more errors on the Angels in the sixth.
In the ninth, who else but “The Hammer of God” (Mariano Rivera) came in and shut it down. After allowing a leadoff walk to Morales, Rivera got the last three outs in the ninth to wrap up game one and secure a Yankee win.
It marked Rivera’s 36 save in his postseason career, as he continues to further cement his postseason numbers. He is the all-time postseason saves leader with 36, and the guy behind him (Dennis Eckersley) has 15.
I’m pretty sure Rivera put that record so far out of reach that no other closer in baseball history will be able to touch it.
I also loved how Joe Girardi was joking around with the home plate umpire Tim McClelland when Rivera came into the game.
As Metallica’s Enter Sandman was blaring through the Yankee Stadium speakers, Girardi went out to inform the umps of the defensive changes (Damon came out of the game, Cabrera moved to left field, and Brett Gardner came in to play center field) and of course to let them know Rivera was coming in.
“It’s Rivera,” Girardi told the umpire.
“Who?” McClelland asked.
“Some new guy that just made it,” Girardi kidded.
“Oh, just got called up from Triple A, right?” McClelland joked.
I thought the banter between the two about Rivera was amusing. Everyone knows Rivera is probably the greatest closer in the history of the game, and for Girardi to kid around with the umpire the way he did, it was funny.
I think the Yankees may have set the tone for the ALCS with the win last night. Game one is extremely important to win and the Yankees went out into the “frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium” and did what they have done all year.
I also think the Yankees do not need to fear the Angels after last night. The Yankees know they can beat them when it matters. They have now won three of their last four vs. LA and if you count the final game of the regular season, the Yankees are on a five-game winning streak.
The Yanks have gone on these winning streaks all year, sometimes reaching eight or nine wins in a row. They only need seven more postseason wins to be called World Series Champions.
Tonight (if the weather holds out) the Yankees will play game two of the ALCS.
A.J. Burnett will make his second postseason start and face Angels’ left-hander Joe Saunders.
Both starters had respectable season records and pitched extraordinarily well during the regular season. Burnett went 13-9 while Saunders posted a record of 16-7.
In his last start on Oct. 9 in game two of the ALDS, Burnett went six innings and gave up one earned run on three hits. The walks were a little bit of an issue (he allowed five free passes) but he struck out six in a quality start.
Not only that, but Burnett beat the Angels the last time he faced them on Sept. 23, dominating them with 11 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings while only allowing two runs.
Saunders did not pitch in the ALDS vs. Boston and has not thrown since Oct. 4 when he pitched five innings in Oakland. He does however pitch well in the cold weather, as he is a career 10-1 with a 2.51 ERA in April and 12-4 with a 4.31 ERA in September and October.
When you think about how long it has been since the Yankees have won a World Series, consider how long it’s been since they’ve won an ALCS game. Not since game three of the 2004 ALCS (beating the Red Sox 19-8) have the Yankees been victorious in a Championship game.
That seems like a lifetime ago; I was a senior in High School the last time the Yanks won an ALCS game. I am now a senior in College and they finally won another.
Well, hopefully the Yankees and Angels get their game in tonight. If the Bombers win game two, things will be looking very good for the Yankees. If they go up 2-0 and take the series to Anaheim, I think the Yankees just might be headed to the fall classic.
The 2009 Yankees do not seem like the type of team that would collapse if they go up by two games, especially if the Angels are going to see Sabathia twice more in the ALCS.
We’ll see what Burnett and the Bronx Bombers can do tonight. The Yankees have a rested bullpen, a confident offense, and a game one win under their belts already.
I’ll be back after game two with more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
“Right on, Tex!” Alex Rodriguez said to Mark Teixeira as the Yankees were celebrating after their clinch of the ALDS.
“That a boy, Al!” Teixeira loudly responded as they poured champagne over each other’s heads.
Yankee fans, our team has finally gotten over the hump of the first round of the playoffs–an obstacle we haven’t been able to hurdle since 2004. The Bronx Bombers completed a three-game, ALDS sweep of the Twinkies Sunday night, beating them 4-1.
And now the Yankees will advance to the ALCS to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The winner of the ALCS will earn a one-way ticket to the 2009 World Series.
Game Three was yet another exciting game; thrills and chills for both Yankee fans and Twins fans alike.
It started out as a certified pitcher’s duel. Andy Pettitte and ex-Yankee Carl Pavano were both dealing, making it through the first five innings without allowing a run.
The Twins broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with an RBI single to score Denard Span, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. I’ll admit, I was upset and not in the right frame of mind, considering how well Pavano was pitching. I thought it could be a one-run game and the Yankees might fall.
But then came the top half of the following inning.
Coming into this series, Rodriguez had been crucified by the media for his performances in playoffs past. Well, he had a dramatic homer in game two, a pair of RBIs in game one, and in the seventh inning of game three, a game-tying, solo home run over the baggie in right field of the Metrodome.
Talk about silencing your critics and coming up big in yet another clutch situation.
Following Rodriguez later in the inning was Jorge Posada, who delivered a solo homer of his own to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t give up. Posada would later help pad the Yankee lead with an RBI single in the ninth and Robinson Cano also contributed to the offense, knocking in the Yankees’ fourth run later in the frame.
I think the biggest play (or non-play) for the Twins came in the bottom of the seventh and for the second time in two games, they made a costly base-running mistake.
In the seventh, Span tapped a soft liner that looked to be going up the middle for a run-scoring base hit. Derek Jeter managed to scoop the ball, keeping all his wits about him. Running from second base, Nick Punto blew the stop sign from his third base coach, passing third base and dashing his way home.
Punto slipped on the turf on the baseline between third base and home, got up, and raced back toward third. Jeter gunned the ball to Posada at home plate, Posada snapped-threw the ball to third, and after all that, Punto was tagged out by Rodriguez.
Score that crazy play 6-2-5.
Much like the play on Friday night where Carlos Gomez overran second base and was tagged out before Delmon Young scored, it came back to burn the Twins. They shot themselves in the foot again. It was (by far) the biggest play for the Yankees and the worst thing that could have happened to the Twins.
With that play, I can safely say this: Derek Jeter is hands down the most fundamentally sound player in the game of baseball and probably the most intelligent. Jeter maintained perfect control of the situation, never panicked, and got the job done. That’s why he’s the leader.
The Yankees once again got some great pitching in game three, receiving their third straight quality start.
Pettitte tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out seven. The pitching in this series is great sign going into the ALCS against a tough Angels team; every pitcher who started for the Yankees gave them a good chance to win.
Not to mention the Yankee bullpen in the ALDS; basically everyone outside of Damaso Marte (and maybe Phil Hughes in game two) did their job. The Yankees’ bullpen is looking solid for the next round.
I also have to give a lot of credit to Ron Gardenhire, the Twins’ manager. After the game, Gardenhire noted the strength of the Yankees, his happiness for them, and how much he enjoys watching players like Jeter and Rodriguez play.
It was such a respectful gesture from the Twins’ skipper; he was a gracious loser and didn’t seem to hold contempt for anything that happened in the ALDS. I admire Gardenhire for that and have a newfound respect for him.
Gardenhire said, “I tip my cap to the Yankees.” Well, I tip my cap to you, Mr. Gardenhire. You are truly a classy manager.
Now we go on to face a very live Angels team, who just swept the Boston Red Sox. The series will begin Friday, Oct. 16 at Yankee Stadium. Get your popcorn ready, because there will be a show!
The Yankees and Angels are both on fire, so the ALCS is looking to be an interesting series. As I have been saying for weeks, I hope the Yanks can pull through!
As for the sweep…
The ALDS at a Glance
The Yankees outscored the Twins 15-6 in round one.
The Yankees hit six home runs in the ALDS; the Twins did not leave the park.
Alex Rodriguez batted .455 with two home runs and six RBIs in the ALDS.
Both of Rodriguez’s home runs tied the game in the seventh inning or later.
The Yankees beat the Twins 10 times (including the playoffs) this season without losing once. Six out of their 10 wins came at Yankee Stadium.
Johnny Damon went 1-for-12 at the plate with a walk in the ALDS. (I think he needs to work with Kevin Long in the batting cage before the ALCS begins. Just saying.)
Derek Jeter hit his 18th postseason home run in game one, which tied him with other Yankee legends Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for third place on the all-time postseason home runs list. (Mantle, Jackson and Jeter sit in third place behind Bernie Williams and Manny Ramirez, who are in second and first place, respectively)
Mark Teixeira’s game-winning home run in game two was the 11th postseason walk-off win for the Yankees. The Yanks have the most postseason walk-off wins in baseball history and it was the first extra-inning, game-winning home run since Aaron Boone’s solo blast to defeat the Red Sox in game seven of the 2003 ALCS.
Teixeira’s homer also left Yankee Stadium unbelievably quickly, in only 2.88 seconds to be exact. That was the shortest amount of time a ball took to leave the park at Yankee Stadium this year. A screaming line drive if you ask me!
The Yanks’ ALDS win was their 45th postseason series victory in their history.
Notching the save in game three, Yanks’ closer Mariano Rivera now has 35 postseason game saves. Guess who leads that category all-time? (If you guessed Rivera, you’re right! in second place is Dennis Eckersley with 15 postseason game saves)
The Twins left a total of 34 men on base in the ALDS.
Game three of the ALDS was the final baseball game that was played at the Twins’ venue, the Metrodome. The Twins are moving into a new Stadium, Target Field, in 2010.
The last time the Yankees swept the ALDS, they went on to sweep the World Series (which took place in 1999)
Anyway, that does it for this series. We need to brace ourselves for impact, because the Angels are a tough team. But I believe in the New York Yankees. They do not give up!
I’ll be back after game one of the ALCS for more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Wow. WOW. That’s pretty much all I can say. Just another instance in my life when I am speechless.
Game two of the ALDS was one of the craziest games I have ever witnessed and that is definitely saying something as a lifelong baseball fan. It was most likely the craziest (Yankee) playoff game since game seven of the 2003 ALCS.
Tonight was one of those games where I just kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe what I just saw.” I said it several times during the game.
A lot of craziness, but the Yankees won, 4-3 in 11th outrageous innings. One hell of a win, for sure!
There’s so much I can say about this game, but I’m going to start with Alex Rodriguez.
In one of the biggest at-bats of his career and the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankee slugger delivered a mammoth, game-tying, two-run homer to knot the game at three.
I’m sure not many people expected it, but like I said on Wednesday, I think A-Rod learned the Heimlich maneuver. It was a pressure situation and he did not choke! He did what he was brought here to do–hit big time homers in pressurized, late-game situations. And he did not disappoint tonight.
You can look at some of his other big time homers as a member of the Yankees. The walk-off grand slam vs. Baltimore on April 7, 2007, the walk-off tater to beat Cleveland on April 19, 2007, but this was different.
Tonight was postseason. And against Joe Nathan, a closer who slammed the door 47 times during the regular season. And that home run…was a bomb!
Rodriguez has been excellent these last two games, driving in five runs and going 4-for-8. That’s better than we have probably ever seen him in the playoffs, certainly the best we’ve seen him since before they blew it in 2004 (I still don’t want to talk about that!)
“When I came back in May I felt I was off to a new start and it was great to have Mark Teixeira there,” Rodriguez said to the press after the game.
“It just felt really good, we needed it, and nothing’s changed. This is the way we have been playing all year. It was a lot of fun and I am doing the best I can.”
Rodriguez also drove in the Yankees’ first run in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single to score Derek Jeter, answering the Twins’ run they posted in the top of the frame.
Alongside Rodriguez with some big hits tonight was Mark Teixeira.
Not only did “Big Tex” smash the game-winning, walk-off homer in the bottom of the 11th inning, he kept the Yankees alive in the ninth with a double to set up A-Rod’s glorious homer.
Without Teixeira, the Yankees would obviously be going to Minnesota with the series tied 1-1, so it’s safe to say he did his job tonight. At the beginning of the season, I heard some fans say Teixeira has never had a big at-bat in his life.
Well he answered those fans, coming up big time tonight in a clutch situation.
Now onto A.J. Burnett, who was pitching in his first postseason game of his career. I have to say, he looked a little off tonight, but still managed to turn in an acceptable outing and a quality start.
The lanky right-hander went six innings, giving up an earned run on only three hits. The walks were a little much, he walked five, but he also struck out six. Burnett’s breaking ball and fastball both looked great tonight, hopefully a sign of good things to come from him.
I also have to hand it to reliever David Robertson. The young man out of Alabama was “Harry Houdini” tonight, getting out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the 11th. He got the win and deserved it. An awesome showing from him and most of the bullpen tonight.
Now that I’ve examined the good of this game (and it was a good…great game) I have to look at the bad.
By all means, the Yankees should have won the game in the 10th. With Brett Gardner on third base and one out, the game was all but over. All Johnny Damon had to do was hit a fly ball anywhere. Left field, right field, center field–it didn’t matter. Gardner was going to score.
Instead Damon lined an old “at ‘em” ball right to Nick Punto, who was able to double up Gardner at third base. It was a bad play on Gardner’s part, but in all honesty, I have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
What happened was Gardner thought the ball was tipped off the pitcher’s glove and he thought he could score. But much to the surprise of Gardner, the ball was in the air. So a mistake on Gardner cost the Yanks a win in the 10th, but it didn’t come back to hurt them. No harm, no foul.
Then on the Twins’ part, they shot themselves in the foot in top of the fourth. Carlos Gomez slipped past second base, running on a single from Matt Tolbert. The stumble (or I guess just error in judgment) enabled Nick Swisher to gun him out from right field before Delmon Young–the lead runner–was able to score.
That play was crucial and may have cost the Twins the game. If that run had scored, who knows what could have happened.
Another mistake that might have cost the Twins was the error on right field umpire Phil Cuzzi. Joe Mauer hit a ground-rule double that was ruled a foul ball in the 10th inning. That was a real mistake and I was happy he made it. By all means, the Twins were cheated out of a baserunner.
My overall feeling on game two: dramatic. As my fellow blogger Virginia would say, it was a “drama club win.” Both sides fought and wanted it badly, but in the end it was the Bronx Bombers who came out on top.
Now onto game three on Sunday night.
It will be big-game pitcher Andy Pettitte squaring off against former Yankee Carl Pavano. Now the Yankees have a chance to punish him for all the money they wasted on him. I think it would be so poetically just to beat Pavano to win the series. He was supposed to help bring us a Title, but wound up doing nothing.
It would make complete sense.
Well, I said back on June 7 after the Yankees battled back to beat the Tampa Bay Rays that “they are seriously a group of warriors that do not quit.”
And tonight just proved that point even more, if they didn’t prove it with the 15 walk-off wins they had. Tonight also marked the 11th walk-off postseason win in the Yankees’ history–they have the most postseason walk-off wins all-time from any team.
Well, that does it for tonight. I’ll be back after Sunday’s game for more playoff analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Greetings Yankee fans! Welcome to the first annual Yankee Yapping Awards!
Well, it’s that dreary time of the year again: the end of the regular season. It’s the most depressing time for most die-hard baseball fans, but for the Yankees and their fans, the journey is not yet complete.
With the AL East crown on their heads, the Yankees will soon make a run for the World Series Title. But before we embark on our playoff run, I’d like to hand out my personal end-of the-season awards to the Yankees who have demonstrated outstanding play on and off the field and who have made the greatest impact on the team.
Away we go!
Yankee Yapping Most Valuable Player
Winner: Derek Jeter
Was there ever any doubt?
Derek Jeter has done it all. This season the Yankee Captain just continued the traditional success he has built up and has played as well as he ever has.
Not only did he become the all-time leader for hits from a shortstop, but he became the all-time Yankee hits leader in 2009. Now that’s impressive!
On Aug. 16 in Seattle Jeter passed Luis Aparicio for all-time hits from a shortstop; what that means is no other shortstop in baseball history has had as many hits as Jeter. There aren’t even words to describe how amazing that is.
The game of baseball dates back to the late 1800s and Jeter owns the most hits by a player from one position.
Then on Sept. 11, Jeter passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time Yankee hits list, becoming the franchise hits leader. The Yankee team dates back almost to the beginning of the game of baseball; 1903 to be exact. 106 years and a modern day player–Jeter–has the most hits in team history.
And his numbers this season are outstanding: 18 homers, 66 RBIs, and as usual, an average over .300, currently at .335. Not to mention his 30 stolen bases on the year–I’m sure not many people expected that from a 35 year-old!
Jeter has also adapted very well to this new role in 2009, the lead-off hitter. He has led off a game with a base hit more than 51 times this year. Jeter needed to become the “table setter,” and he has done an excellent job from the number one spot in the batting order.
Derek Jeter: four World Series Titles, All-Star game MVP, World Series MVP, Rookie of the Year, three gold gloves…and now the Yankee Yapping MVP Award. Congrats Captain!
Yankee Yapping Best Season from a
Winner: Mark Teixeira
He struggled at first. Most Yankee newbies do. But when Alex Rodriguez made his return from hip surgery on May 8, Mark Teixeira was off like a shot and all-systems-go.
Before A-Rod came off the disabled list, Teixeira was slugging only .396–a vast difference from the .596 he was slugging going into Monday. A .200 increase is a huge advancement, I must say.
Along with the increase in slugging percentage, Teixeira’s home run count climbed; since Rodriguez’s return, Tex has clobbered 33 homers and is batting over .300. He hit 33 homers all of last year.
It’s obvious that the protection Rodriguez gave him made Teixeira a little more comfortable at the plate. And that’s why the Yankees got him–to protect Rodriguez.
Yet it hasn’t just been about his bat.
A gold glove caliber player, Teixeira has been unreal on defense this year. He has made some sparkling plays and web gems while putting up a .996 fielding percentage and recording 1,210 put-outs and 49 assists.
If that doesn’t say “gold glove,” I really don’t know what does.
Teixeira was signed on Dec. 23 and the idea of acquiring him is paying off royally. He has hit 39 homers, knocked in 121 runs, and is batting .294 at press time. He also has a good shot at winning the Most Valuable Player Award this season.
While the MVP won’t be decided until mid-November, Teixeira is the Yankee Yapping winner of the greatest season from a newcomer. Congrats Tex!
Yankee Yapping Rookie of the Year
Winner: Brett Gardner
He’s not the biggest. He’s not the strongest. But he might just be the flashiest and he’s definitely the fastest.
Brett Gardner has made a huge statement this season, winning the starting centerfield job right out of spring training. He was playing excellent ball before the season began and was rewarded for it.
On May 15 at home against the Minnesota Twins, Gardner did something I have not seen a Yankee do. What made it better (for me) was that I was there and saw it live and in-person; it’s a memory I know I won’t ever forget.
In 14 seconds, Gardner raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was probably the greatest show of pure speed I’ve ever seen in my life.
It wasn’t until I got home from the game that night that I found out Gardner had visited a sick girl in the hospital earlier in the day who wanted him to hit a home run for her. He said he’d try to, but couldn’t promise anything. She gave him a yellow bracelet for luck.
I think God was on his side; the fates were working in mysterious ways and maybe, just maybe, that yellow bracelet gave him what he needed to do it.
Gardner wasn’t even starting that night; he only played because Johnny Damon had been thrown out of the game for arguing a bad call. But he came into the game and gave me and the rest of the fans in attendance (and the fans watching around the world) a very special memory…and he gave a very special gift to a sick young lady.
He can just flat-out run; he has stolen 24 bases this year out of 29 attempts and has given the Yankees speed from the likes of which they have never seen before. I don’t think there has ever been a Yankee player faster than Gardner. He is the Flash, that’s all there is to it.
The point is Gardner has stood out from the rest of the rookies on the team both on offense and defense, and aside from being sidelined with a thumb fracture for a short while, he has done a wonderful job this year.
Gardner is a valuable player who has been good enough to be named Yankee Yapping Rookie of the Year. Congrats Brett!
Yankee Yapping Best Impact Player
Winner: Nick Swisher
In the very first edition of the blog a couple of months ago, I said the addition of Nick Swisher has lightened up the mood of the clubhouse and “loosened up” the team. And that was the truth.
If there’s one player on the Yankees who has made the greatest impact this year, it’s been Swisher. His looseness and infectious personality have affected the team in a positive way and he has been probably the biggest clubhouse presence and influence.
I knew from the first game I went to this season on April 22 he was going to have some kind of impact on the team. When the bleacher creatures called for him during roll call, he turned around and saluted them, just like an Army soldier.
I thought it was the greatest thing; while the rest of the Yankees just wave during roll call, Swisher made it a point to show a sign of allegiance to the fans.
It has since been named the “Swisher Salute.”
Swisher’s attitude is great, but it’s not just his feelings that are impacting the team. His numbers haven’t been shabby, either. He has hit 29 homers, something the Yankees probably never expected when they traded for him last November.
I also think he’s kept the Yankees in a lot of games; consider July 30 in Chicago. The Yankees were down by one run in the ninth with two outs. Swisher came up and drilled a solo homer to keep the Yankees alive.
One of the best things I’ve seen from him was the walk-off homer he hit on Sept. 8. Swisher was so excited after the game he could barely speak. It was his second homer of the game and first game-winning homer as a member of the Yankees.
I think that game cemented his spot as a Yankee fan-favorite.
He’s also knocked in 82 runs to this point and is batting .251, a step above the .219 he hit last year. His numbers are kind of reflecting his attitude: positive and upbeat.
Congrats Swisher. We salute you!
Yankee Yapping Clutch Performer of
Winner: Melky Cabrera
He has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees this year. Melky Cabrera didn’t make the starting lineup at the outset of the 2009 season, but he has certainly earned trust and a great deal of respect among the fans.
On April 22, he hit the first walk-off home run in the new Yankee Stadium in the bottom of the 14th inning to beat the Oakland A’s.
The same kind of idea from last year popped into my head; Jose Molina was last player to hit a home run in the old stadium. Now Cabrera was the first one to hit a walk-off?
Well unlike Molina, it wasn’t just an isolated incident.
Not even a month later on May 15 he hit a walk-off single to beat the Twins. And again it wasn’t just a freak occurrence; eight days later “Clutch Cabrera” struck again, knocking in yet another game-winning run against the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies.
And it’s not like he stopped.
On Aug. 2 in Chicago vs. the White Sox, Cabrera accomplished something no other Yankee has done since Tony Fernandez in 1995: he hit for the cycle. A single, a double, a triple, and a home run all in the same game. It’s one of the most difficult feats to accomplish in all of baseball and Cabrera was able to do it.
The cycle was just another piece of the clutch year Cabrera had and he was recognized for it when he won Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Month for May. By the time he was named winner of the award, Cabrera had 23 RBIs on the year. Of those 23 RBIs, 11 of them either tied the game or put the Yankees ahead in the seventh inning or later.
His three walk-off hits were also the most by a Yankee in a single season since Claudell Washington, who had four game-ending base hits in 1988.
Cabrera has been a clutch, walk-off warrior in 2009, with timely hits in pressure situations. Congrats Melk-man!
Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year
Winner: CC Sabathia
He has been a workhorse. He has been a big-game pitcher. And most games he has pitched, he has been almost un-hittable.
CC Sabathia has made it in New York, granted he was a little shaky coming out of the gate, losing on opening day to the Baltimore Orioles in embarrassing fashion. Many fans and critics suggested that Sabathia may not be able to handle being a Yankee, the way some others (*cough–Randy Johnson–cough*) couldn’t.
But he answered them by going 11-1 since the All-Star break with a chance at 20 wins for the season. Talk about having the stuff of an ace. I am impressed with what Sabathia has done.
I also am taken back by Sabathia’s ability to win against the Red Sox this year. Two of the last three times he has faced the Yanks’ arch-rivals, he has no-hit them into the middle-to-late innings, as noted last week.
That’s always a good sign going into the playoffs. If the Yankees have a pitcher that can throw effectively against Boston, it’s a huge advantage for the Bronx Bombers. And Sabathia has provided them with that edge.
I really think Sabathia should win the Cy Young Award this year. I know Zack Greinke has put up great numbers on a losing team and is leading the league in most of the major pitching categories, but if you ask me, Sabathia has just been more valuable to his team.
The Yankee ace can just eat up innings, (he currently has 227 1/3 for the year) strike people out, (194 on the season) and win games (19 wins, which leads the AL) so I really feel he deserves it a little more.
Plus, Sabathia kept his team in the race while Greinke and the Kansas City Royals sank to the basement of the AL Central rather quickly.
If there was an MVP Award just for the pitchers, Sabathia would get it. And although he may or may not be “Cy Cy” Sabathia this year, he is the winner of Yankee Yapping Ace of the Year Award, which is worth something in my book. Congrats, CC!
Yankee Yapping Most Improved
Winner: Phil Hughes
Phil Hughes has come a long way in his young career.
From his “almost no-hitter” on May 1, 2007 against the Texas Rangers to his brilliant show in October against the Cleveland Indians in relief of Roger Clemens; from his stint on the disabled list to his move to the bullpen, Hughes has been the biggest improvement for the Yankees in 2009.
At the beginning of the year, he looked pretty good, pitching somewhat effectively in the starting rotation. On April 28 he made an awesome start against the Yankees’ probable first round playoff opponents, the Detroit Tigers.
Hughes tossed six scoreless innings that night while striking out six batters, a career-high for him at the time (he since has notched a new career high in strikeouts in a single game; he fanned nine vs. the Orioles on May 20) Not bad at all.
Another notable start of Hughes’s came five days after his nine strikeout game on May 25 against the same team he almost no-hit in ’07, the Rangers. The 23 year-old tossed eight innings of shutout ball to beat Texas.
When Chien-Ming Wang returned to the rotation after coming off the disabled list (only to go back on it) Hughes was placed in the bullpen, where he has been ever since. And since his move to the bullpen, Hughes has been virtually lights out and everything has gotten better.
As noted in Edition 13, every facet of Hughes’s game from his velocity to his individual pitching statistics has improved since his move to the ‘pen. Right now he has 18 holds and three saves with a record of 8-3 on the year–a huge step up from the 0-4 record he posted last year.
Hughes also has 95 strikeouts at press time. That’s the most he’s ever had in a single season. Last year he only struck out 23 batters. Not only do I have a feeling he will just keep getting better as he goes along, he could even be the next Yankee closer.
Hughes certainly stepped up his game from the abysmal 2008 season and has performed remarkably well in 2009. He’s earned it. Congrats, Phil!
Yankee Yapping Best Season from a
Winner: Chad Gaudin
A journeyman is defined as an experienced, reliable worker, athlete, or performer (in this case an athlete) who is distinguished from one who is brilliant or colorful. I would say Chad Gaudin has been that guy for the Yanks this year.
When I think of a journeyman, I think of a player who has bounced around from team to team without playing as a mainstay; instead of staying with one team he might have a “cup of coffee” with a number of teams.
Gaudin has been in the league since 2003 and has played for the Tampa Bay Rays, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Oakland Athletics, the Chicago Cubs, the San Diego Padres, and now the Yankees.
The poor guy couldn’t find a home.
But this year Gaudin has found at least a home until 2010 with the Yankees, being used in both the starting rotation and bullpen this year. And he’s made the most of what he’s been given to work with and has done a fantastic job for the Yanks this year.
When the Yankees acquired Gaudin from the Padres, his season record was not pretty; 4-10 in 19 starts on the year. But since his move over to the American League, Gaudin has gone 2-0 with the Yankees winning all six of his starts.
To me, that says he has the ability to keep the Yankees in the game when he pitches.
What’s also impressive are Gaudin’s numbers in September. He went 1-0 with two quality starts in the final month before the post-season, striking out 18 batters in the 26 2/3 innings he pitched.
Perhaps Gaudin can earn himself a post-season roster spot for the way he has been able to effectively pitch this season. And if nothing else, he earned my Best Season by a Journeyman Award. Congrats, Chad!
Yankee Yapping Comeback Player of
Winner: Hideki Matsui
“Trade him. His knees are shot. He can’t play the field anymore. His production and overall quality has gone down. Say sayonara to Hideki!”
All things I said at the beginning of the year. And boy did Hideki Matsui make me sound nuts! The 35 year-old designated hitter has had a resurgent 2009, putting up mind-boggling numbers this season.
First consider Matsui’s 2008 stats: 93 games played, nine home runs, 45 RBIs, only 143 total bases–the second lowest amount Matsui ever put up in a single season. He also only hit safely 99 times, again the second lowest total of his career.
Now take a look at his 2009 numbers: 140 games played, 28 home runs, 90 RBIs, 231 total bases, and 124 hits.
Talk about making a huge statement when fans like me thought he was totally washed up.
He proved a lot of people (including myself) wrong. He may not be able to play the field anymore because of his knees, but Matsui can still hit and be a force in the Yankee lineup. His presence and capability can still strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers.
This season Matsui set a new record for home runs by a Yankee designated hitter. He passed Don Baylor for all-time homers from a DH when he smacked his 26th home run of the season on Aug. 19. Baylor had hit 25 in 1984.
Not only that, Matsui won Pepsi Clutch Performer on the Month in August, following his teammate Melky Cabrera, who of course won the award in May. What put Matsui over the top was his amazing show in Boston from Aug. 21-23, when he crushed four homers in three games against the Red Sox.
But also keep in mind that he played in 24 games in August carrying a .282 average with eight homers and 25 RBIs overall.
Matsui has done a wonderful job this season and has turned a lot of heads and raised a lot of eyebrows with his performance at the plate. He may only be a DH now, but he’s making the best of it and he has earned back all of my respect. Congrats, Hideki!
Yankee Yapping Reliever of the Year
Winner: Mariano Rivera
Again I can say, was thereever any doubt?
Mariano Rivera has been the rock of the bullpen all year long and has done as good, if not better, than recent years. Mo hasn’t reached 40 saves since the 2005 season and he’s even passed the number he put up that year; Rivera currently has 44 saves this season, basically giving opposing teams no chance in the ninth inning.
The Yankee closer has converted all 44 saves in only 46 opportunities, blowing only two saves on the season (April 21 in Boston and September 18 in Seattle)
But they were only two hiccups in what has been a historic year for Rivera.
On June 28, Rivera became only the second player in MLB history to reach 500 career saves, shutting down the Mets at Citi Field in a 4-2 Yankee win. Not only did Rivera get his 500th save in that game, he recorded his first career RBI, drawing a bases loaded walk issued by Mets’ closer Francisco Rodriguez.
At press time Rivera has slammed the door 526 times in his career. He may not tag Trevor Hoffman for all-time saves in baseball history, but the man is still a legend.
I attended the game on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at Yankee Stadium and was taken back by everything the Yankees gave Rivera in honor of his 500th career save.
They presented him with the rubber from the mound at Citi field the night he recorded the big save, a beautiful collage detailing his career in pictures, and they even gave him the bullpen bench from the old Yankee Stadium. (Ceremony Pictured below)
The entire team came out and congratulated Rivera and Derek Jeter (who was also being honored for his passing of Lou Gehrig on the all-time Yankee hits list in the ceremony) for their accomplishments. A classy act by the team, I must say.
Rivera has been the best in the business for years and years. This year wasn’t any different. He was the same old Mo–lights out and game over. Congrats Mariano!
Yankee Yapping Contract Player of
Winner: Johnny Damon
Allow me to first explain the nature of this award.
This accolade is going to the player whose contract is up at the end of this season, and he has earned the right to play another year for the Yankees. In my eyes, the winner of this award deserves a new deal.
And that player is Johnny Damon.
The soon-to-be 36 year-old left fielder is batting .280 this season with a career-high 24 homers and 79 RBIs. That is some decent production out of the number two hole in the batting order.
Damon has already made it known that he wants to come back to the Yankees and I’m pretty sure most of the fans would love to have him back. He has had such a positive impact on the entire team and has really done some great things in pinstripes.
I would hate to see him in a different uniform and playing for a different team next year.
And I think you have to look at his overall numbers from his tenure with the Yankees. In all four years to this point he has hit 77 homers with 293 RBIs while averaging nearly .285 at the plate.
I think the best show Damon gave us the fans came on June 7, 2008. He hit safely six times that day, knocked in four runs (including the game-winning run) and stole a base. It was one the best performances I’ve ever seen from a single player in one game.
In addition to his regular season stats and ability to reach base as shown last season, his post-season numbers have been solid all four of his Yankee years and really all-around in his entire career.
His career post season numbers for every team he has played on are impressive; he owns a .278 batting average with five home runs and 16 RBIs. That’s a good amount of production in the month of October, I must say.
His defense is a little below average now (namely his arm) and maybe his speed has gone down a little bit with his age, but no one can take away how valuable a veteran player like Damon is.
If the Yankees don’t at least offer him arbitration, it’s the wrong move. Damon deserves at least one more year in pinstripes. And if not, he at least deserves it in my view. Congrats Damon!
Well, that wraps up this award ceremony. Congrats to every Yankee on winning the AL East and what you have accomplished this year.
Good luck, Yankees. We’ll see you in October!
Greetings Yankee fans! And welcome to the 13th edition of Yankee Yapping.
Well….start spreading the news. We’re leaving today….for October!
If October Gonzalez still blogs here on MLB.com, he needs to get ready to do some…Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!!
My thoughts on…
The AL East Title
As everyone in the world already knows, yesterday the Bronx Bombers clinched the American League East title with a victory over the Red Sox, completing a weekend sweep of their arch-rivals. It marked the first time since 2006 the Yanks have won the AL East and the first time since 2005 they won the title in front of the Red Sox.
In ’05 the Yankees won the crown on the second-to-last day of the season at Fenway Park.
The Yankees also won their 100th game of the season, and that marked the first time since 2004 the Yanks accomplished that feat. And oh, by the way, they have home-field advantage throughout the post-season.
The Yanks pretty much made out like bandits Sunday afternoon.
I have to admit I almost broke down and cried. I was so overjoyed when they won yesterday. Considering the Yanks missed the playoffs last year and remembering how sad I was on the last day of the 2008 regular season, yesterday was pretty special.
I liked the analogy Derek Jeter used when speaking of the Yankees early winter last year. “It’s almost like you’re a kid and your parents don’t let you go outside and play,” Jeter analogized.
“You’re watching everybody outside the window because you’re in trouble. That’s what it felt like. Now you’re off punishment and you can go back outside.”
The last day of the regular season is always melancholy; it means the summer is truly over. As a diehard baseball fan, I wish the season could last forever.
It doesn’t, but at least with your team in the playoffs, you are guaranteed a shot at the World Title and a chance to see your team try and give you a memory that can last a lifetime.
When your team wins it all, you will remember it forever.
But the AL East is only one step toward what the Yankees and we the fans are looking forward to. It was nice to celebrate yesterday, but we are going back to work this week vs. the Royals and this weekend against the Rays.
I’m sure the Yankees were proud of themselves, which they should be, but I’ll bet if you ask Jeter or Mariano Rivera, or any of the other players, they’ll say that there’s a lot more work to be done.
Which is certainly true. The Yankees have accomplished something good. And now they must continue to move forward and hopefully reach “baseball nirvana.”
Weekend Sweep of Boston
After the Yankees went 0-8 against Boston at the beginning of the season, I never would of thought they’d rebound as nicely as they have.
The Yankees have won nine out of their last 10 games against the Red Sox and the way they played them this past weekend gave me even more confidence in the Yankees’ ability to beat Boston if they happen to meet in the ALCS this year.
The last time the two teams squared off in the 2004 ALCS….well, we need not relive that. But at least the Bombers have demonstrated the ability to match the Red Sox punch-for-punch, which is what they need this late in the season.
In this weekend’s three-game sweep, the Yanks outscored Boston 16-7. Back in August when the Yankees swept the Red Sox at home, they outscored them 25-8. So it’s apparent that the Yankees know how to drive runners in against the Red Sox, a good ability to have against a potential playoff opponent.
On Friday I was thrilled to see Joba Chamberlain pitching well and the Yanks won, 9-5. He tossed six innings and gave up three runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five. He got the win and ironically his last win before Friday came against the Red Sox on Aug. 6.
You see guys: when you let Chamberlain pitch without worrying about his innings limit, he can actually perform well!
However, I did feel sympathy for Jon Lester, getting drilled with a liner off the knee on a ball crushed by Melky Cabrera. I don’t like the Red Sox (obviously) but I have a lot of respect for Lester. He is such a great success story, coming back from cancer and throwing a no-hitter. So yes, I felt bad for him.
Lester had to leave the game in the third inning, but he wasn’t pitching effectively, anyway. He had given up a homer to Alex Rodriguez and was losing before he got hit, so I don’t think he would’ve been in the game much longer, as it was.
Lester was charged with five earned runs and registered the loss.
Saturday looked like a classic pitcher’s duel; Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Red Sox and CC Sabathia for the Yankees.
The “Dice-Man” hasn’t really had much success against the Yankees (going into Saturday he was 3-2 with a 6.35 ERA lifetime vs. New York) but he still put up a good game. Well, I don’t know if I should say “good;” the Yankees left a lot of men on base and just didn’t capitalize. They could have had some big innings, but just didn’t score.
And Sabathia was Sabathia, of course. He fanned eight BoSox over the seven innings he pitched and didn’t give up any runs. In fact, he was tossing a no-hitter up until Mike Lowell broke it up in the fifth with a line drive to centerfield.
Sabathia no-hit the Red Sox through 5 2/3 on Aug. 8 until Jacoby Ellsbury broke it up. I find that so fascinating; Sabathia carried a no-hitter into the middle-to-late innings twice against the Red Sox this year. I don’t know of any other pitcher in recent history who’s done that.
The Red Sox looked lost; I mean, they only had three runners in scoring position all day and they went 0-for-3. Boston also only had two hits all day. That’s containment, if you ask me.
Robinson Cano broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with his 24th homer of the year. It’s funny; I never really thought Cano would generate that type of power. He has made me look at him totally different. When he comes up to bat, I’m thinking, “We may have a shot at a homer here.” What an awesome year he’s had.
Saturday’s final: Yankees 3, Boston 0. Good enough for me.
And Sunday was the finale. Andy Pettitte was the man the Yanks sent to the hill to claim their AL East title and he completed their mission. The veteran lefty went six innings and gave up two runs for a quality start en route to the Yanks’ 4-2 win over Boston.
The champagne celebration followed the final out.
Cabrera and Mark Teixeira each homered while Hideki Matsui put the Yankees ahead in the sixth with a two-run single.
Here’s something I should point out: Derek Jeter led off the game with a single. That marked the 51st time this year the captain has led off the game with a base hit. I think the strategy of Jeter as the leadoff hitter has paid off in a big way and it could be something that is showcased in the playoffs.
Overall, it was a great weekend to be a Yankee and a Yankee fan. And that’s probably the biggest understatement of this century.
Chances in the Post-Season
The Yankees have made it to the post-season for the first time since 2007. But recent playoff memories for Yankees fans are…well….not fond ones.
The Bombers have not won a World Series since 2000. They haven’t played in the World Series since 2003. And they haven’t made it past the American League Division Series since 2004.
But here are a few reasons I think the Yankees’ chances are better than ever in 2009.
The one thing the Yankees accomplished in the off-season was the acquisition of starting pitching. I mean, let’s face it–these last few playoff appearances, the Yanks just didn’t have any effective pitching.
Not knocking Mike Mussina–he did some great things in the post-season. I can’t thank him enough for getting out of that bases loaded, one out jam in game seven of the 2003 ALCS (fans might remember it as the “Aaron Boone Game”)
Mussina came into the game in an extremely pressurized situation–really the weight of the game was on his shoulders. He thankfully got Johnny Damon to bounce into a double play to avoid any further trouble.
I just feel bad Mussina never got a ring. He always called himself “Mr. Almost.” Meaning that he almost got a World Series ring, almost won a Cy Young, and almost had a perfect game (Sept. 2, 2001 at the Red Sox. Carl Everett broke it up with two outs in the ninth with a bloop single to left field)
For as good as “Moose” was, he was never an overwhelming power-pitcher; he was more of a smart, mental pitcher. His strength relied primarily on his knuckle-curve ball and his fast ball was not a live as some of the Yankees’ starters today.
Case in point: CC Sabathia, who is 19-7 this season with a 3.21 ERA. Now a lot of people might be quick to judge Sabathia’s playoff numbers, which aren’t pretty–he’s 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA lifetime in the playoffs for the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers (that includes two losses to Boston in the 2007 ALCS)
But I’m really willing to look past that right now.
Last year Sabathia was pitching a lot on short rest, something that will probably not be done this year. He has been dominant vs. Boston this year, so I’m not concerned with who he faces. It’s not only Boston; save for just getting himself acclimated to New York and struggling a little bit in the beginning of the season, he’s been dominant against every team he has faced.
I have a feeling the ace will be performing and dealing, just like he’s been all year. Sabathia has given the Yankees quality and quantity all season, so I’m not really expecting that to change just because it’s playoff time.
I would also take a guy like A.J. Burnett over a pitcher like Randy Johnson.
Now granted Burnett has not had the easiest season, posting a record of 12-9 with a 4.19 ERA, he has still been a force in the rotation. I would rather have a pitcher like Burnett who is in his prime than the older Johnson who was past his prime when he pitched for the Yankees.
When Burnett is on, he can be one of the best pitchers there is. A lot of people have compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, meaning he is either really good or really bad when he pitches. I cannot say it enough; we need the “Mr. A.J. Burnett-Hyde” to show up in the playoffs.
He’s had some rough starts versus Boston, but also matched Josh Beckett pitch-for-pitch on Aug. 7. Not to mention, he went undefeated in July, going 4-0 with the Yanks winning all five games he started. And his last start–when he beat the Angels—gave me some peace of mind.
There’s also been talk as to which game Burnett will start: game two or three of the ALDS. If he starts game two, he’d be pitching at home where his ERA is 3.65 (lower than the 4.73 ERA he has posted on the road)
Ideally it would make sense to start a lefty, a righty, and then a lefty again, which would mean Burnett starts game two. Manager Joe Girardi has not yet revealed what his post-season rotation will be.
Johnson posted a record of 0-1 with a 7.04 ERA in two playoff starts with the Yankees. I think Burnett can do a little better than that.
And lastly there’s Andy Pettitte, who has been a rock for the Yankees in October. In the LDS, he own a career record of 5-3 with a 3.92 ERA (which includes his 2005 appearance with the Houston Astros)
I remember he was really the only starter who kept the Yankees in the 2007 ALDS vs. the Indians. He started game two in Cleveland and was just incredible. He tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up no runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out five.
I expect the usual out of Pettitte, who claimed his 14th victory of the year in the Yankees’ AL East-clinching win on Sunday.
The pitching is just there, which it hasn’t been these past few years.
The Yankee bullpen has been so valuable to the team’s success. In the AL East-post game celebration, many people mentioned the bullpen in terms of the Yankees’ ability to win games.
Consider Alfredo Aceves, a middle reliever with 10 wins. In games where the Yankees looked like they were out of it, Aceves would come in and just get hitters out.
No, his fastball isn’t terribly overwhelming, but he’s demonstrated the ability to fool a lot of hitters with his breaking ball and he has found ways to make big outs.
On July 5 vs. Toronto, Aceves came on in relief of Joba Chamberlain, and tossed four innings of one-hit ball. He struck out five batters and didn’t allow a walk. That was when I thought to myself, “This guy might take us a long way.”
He certainly has.
Then there’s Phil Hughes, who is just virtually un-hittable.
He has cemented his spot as the Yankees’ eighth inning setup man and like I said in Edition 10, he has carved a niche for himself in the ‘pen. He started seven games this year with things not going so well for him, but he was sent to the bullpen and everything went right.
Everything from Hughes’s velocity to his win-loss record improved when he made the transition from the rotation to the bullpen.
In a close game, I fear for the opposing teams. Take Saturday, for instance. The Yankees were up by one run in the top of the eighth. Hughes came in and just shut down the Red Sox, allowing no runs and fanning two for his 18th hold of the year.
Hughes has also only allowed 65 hits in the 84 1/3 innings he has pitched this season. Obviously that is way less than a hit per inning, so the Yankees can feel at ease knowing they have Hughes out there. He keeps the opposition off base.
Oh yeah, and the Yankees have Mariano Rivera.
In the ALDS alone, Rivera is 2-0 with 15 saves and 35 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings pitched. If that doesn’t say lights out, I’m not really sure what does.
This year, Rivera has 44 saves (at press time) and he’s only blown two.
The confidence in the bullpen is existent and if the Yankees are in a close-game situation, they will be in good shape with their bullpen in the state it is in now.
3) Addition by Subtraction
The Yankees got rid of some players and added other players prior to this year and to this point, it’s looking like they made the right moves.
I think what some people sometimes overlook is Jason Giambi’s two home runs in game seven of the 2003 ALCS (once again, “the Aaron Boone Game”) but other than that, he wasn’t a force in the playoffs the way Tino Martinez was.
Martinez had a rough time in the 1996 playoffs, but he basically exorcised his demons in 1998, putting up great numbers and even hitting a grand slam home run in game one of the World Series. Giambi never did that.
He was good in 2003 but was rendered basically useless when the Red Sox came back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees in 2004. I think the subtraction of Giambi was good move.
And along with the subtraction of Giambi came the addition to Mark Teixeira, who has fit in so well in 2009. Not only is he a gold glove caliber first baseman (something Giambi never was) but Teixeira is posting mind-boggling numbers and is an MVP candidate.
He is doing so many things to help the Yankees win this year and his performance could be one of the deciding factors in the playoffs.
It took a little while for Teixeira to settle in, but when Alex Rodriguez came back, he was all systems go. Since Rodriguez’s return on May 8, Teixeira is batting .311 with 32 home runs and owns a .596 slugging percentage.
They protect each other in the lineup, another positive factor that works in the Yankees’ favor and something they never really had these past few years.
The Yankees also possess speed in a guy like Brett Gardner, something they never really had in playoffs past. In a close game situation when the Yankees need a stolen base, they basically have the Flash on the bench, ready to run for them.
They have never had speed like Gardner on the bench (not to mention Gardner is pretty good on defense and not a shabby hitter, either) and once again, it’s something that could decide a playoff game.
If you add players like Teixeira and Gardner (while subtracting them from Giambi and even other useless players, like Carl Pavano and Bubba Crosby…and Gary Sheffield…and…well, this list could go on and on) to the other hitters who have just had great seasons, like Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, and Nick Swisher, the Yankee lineup in going to be awfully tough to pitch to in the playoffs.
The Yanks made themselves so much better by adding the right pieces to the puzzle while dumping the liabilities.
Well, on behalf of the fans, I’d like to say Congratulations to the 2009 New York Yankees. The AL East Title is yours, but we have more work to do.
I will be back next week with the final regular season edition of Yankee Yapping. I’ll hand out my end-of-season awards and offer more post-season analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Greetings Yankee Fans!
And welcome to the 11th Edition of Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
The Baltimore Series
The Yankees did not look sharp for the better part of this past weekend.
Coming off a four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Bombers lost two out three to the pesky Baltimore Orioles. It was the first time since June 17-18 (vs. the Washington Nationals) the Yankees lost two in a row at home.
On Friday night, Andy Pettitte did not look as dominating as he did the last time he faced the O’s on Aug. 31. Flirting with a perfect game, Pettitte tossed eight innings and only gave up one run on two hits. He allowed no walks in that start and struck out eight.
In contrast to Aug. 31, Pettitte only lasted five innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out five.
The bullpen didn’t offer any help, giving up seven runs in the four innings following Pettitte’s departure. The Yankees were beaten, 10-4.
Saturday was yet another ugly day to be a Yankee fan, as the Orioles topped the Bombers, 7-3.
I really can’t understand A.J. Burnett at this point. He is an enigma, it seems. In his last game (in the night half of the doubleheader against Tampa Bay on Labor Day) he made a quality start: six innings, three runs, four hits, eight strikeouts. On Saturday he was touched up for six earned runs in the second inning.
Five of the six second-inning runs given up by Burnett came off the bats of Nolan Reimold and Brian Roberts. Reimold smacked a solo home run in the inning while Roberts crushed a grand slam.
After the six-run second, Burnett allowed no more runs and only one other hit in the seven innings he pitched.
While Baltimore made the second inning a big one, the Yankee offense was basically lulled to sleep by rookie Brian Matusz. He tossed seven innings of four hit, one-run ball and looked good with three strikeouts.
Finally on Sunday the Yankee offense broke through, scoring 13 runs on 20 hits. Although they broke it out and scored runs, they still looked very sloppy; it seems they got very complacent. I almost lost my mind when Johnny Damon lost track of how many outs there were and allowed Jeff Fiorentino to score from second base in the top of fourth. But the Yanks’ offense was able to pull it out.
They also received yet another great game out of their ace, CC Sabathia. He didn’t look like he had good command of his pitches but he was still able to give the Yankees a quality start.
In Sunday’s game I saw a side of skipper Joe Girardi I have never seen before. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or bad thing, to be honest.
I suppose it was good because it fired the team up. In the bottom of the fourth, Alex Rodriguez was called out on a third strike that looked well off the plate. Obviously Rodriguez didn’t like the call and let home plate umpire Marty Foster know it.
When he went out to his position he argued with the umpire again. Foster did not appreciate Rodriguez’s words and ran him from the game.
Girardi dashed out of the dugout and got right in Foster’s face. Just seeing the vein on the manager’s neck bulge out made me cringe; Girardi was extremely unhappy and just infuriated. He was just screaming and so fired up, I have never seen Girardi that annoyed, and of course he was also tossed out of the game.
That was Girardi’s fourth ejection as Yankee manager, and from my point of view he certainly got his more than his money’s worth with his vehement argument.
His last ejection came in the sixth inning on June 24 in Atlanta during inter-league play against the Braves. The Yankees were down 1-0, but came back to win 8-4 after umpire Bill Welke ran Girardi from the game.
After the game Sunday, Girardi gave his reason for the tirade.
“It was premature,” he said to the press of Rodriguez’s ejection.
“All Alex told Marty was that there were a couple balls outside. There were no obscenities said by Alex, there were no warnings issued, and I took objection to it.”
It seems legitimate to me; Girardi was just trying to win a game after losing two in a row and Rodriguez didn’t say anything wrong, he just expressed his thoughts without being told to stop. Girardi said usually the umpire will say something like, “one more and you’re out,” or “stop or I’ll eject you.” They never said that to Rodriguez, and that got Girardi upset.
Not to mention the game was tied 3-3 when Rodriguez was tossed; Girardi didn’t want to lose his cleanup hitter, and for good reason.
Foster already has a strained relationship with the Yankees. Back in the month of July he called Derek Jeter out at third base when he was clearly safe, prompting Jeter to argue with him–arguing with an umpire is something Jeter rarely ever does.
Rodriguez has called Foster “unprofessional” twice, and said he doesn’t know what his problem is with the Yankees.
I, for one, hope he’s not umpiring the Yankees’ playoff games.
But despite the battle between Foster and the Bronx Bombers, Hideki Matsui hit a three-run home run, Melky Cabrera knocked in four runs, and like I said, the Yankees’ offense just sparked. Sunday’s 13-3 win marked the 46th come-from-behind win this season and the 17th win of the year for Sabathia.
Now the Yankees will play a potential playoff opponent, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, in a makeup game tonight followed by two more home games against their division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays.
When they finish up the home stand, the Yanks will make a west coast trip this coming weekend to play the Seattle Mariners for three games followed by the Angels for another three-game set.
This next week will be a true test of the Yankees’ toughness.
Another Milestone for Derek Jeter
Although the Yankees were beaten on Friday night, history was once again made by Derek Jeter.
The Yankee Captain led off the bottom of the third inning with a single, his 2,722nd career hit. With that he passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time Yankee hits list and is now the all-time Yankee hits leader.
Until Friday night, the Yankee hits record stood for 72 years, five days. I’m not sure if there will even be another player that will come along and break that record. Jeter just might hold it for the rest of time.
If there was one player to break the record, Jeter was the man. He now holds four all-time Yankee records: most hits, most singles, most at-bats, and most hit-by-pitches…the fourth record doesn’t sound so good, but the rest of them do.
Jeter also needs just eight more hits this season to get to 200. If he does hit safely eight more times, it will be the seventh time in his career he had recorded 200 hits in a season. That gives you an idea of why he is now the franchise hits leader.
And it just seems that Jeter keeps on chasing the Iron Horse.
In Sunday’s win over the Orioles, Jeter scored his 100th run of the year. He has now scored 100 or more runs 12 times in his career, which puts him in second place on the Yankees list in that category.
Gehrig has scored 100 or more runs 13 times in his career and sits in first place on the “100-run seasons list,” if you will. If Jeter scores 100 next year, he’ll tie Gehrig and if he can manage 100 runs scored in 2011, he’ll be the leader.
In the seventh edition of Yankee Yapping I blogged about Jeter’s 2,674th career hit, which put him at the top of the all-time shortstop hit list as he passed Luis Aparicio; in other words he has the most hits among any other shortstop in the history of baseball. I said last week that Jeter keeps putting lines in his history, and it looks like he’s going to be doing that until the day he dies.
Last night after the New York Giants were finished beating the Washington Redskins 23-17, former defensive end Michael Strahan even pointed out Jeter’s accomplishment and remarked how extraordinary it is that Jeter holds the record.
I think that’s a great sign of respect from Strahan, and it just goes to show how much Jeter is admired amongst his peers.
After the game last night I read that Jeter received a phone call from the boss, George Steinbrenner. He told Jeter how proud he was of him for setting the record and even issued a statement about Jeter’s milestone.
“For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I got two words for you: Derek Jeter,” the statement read.
“Game in and game out he just produces…Jeter is one of the finest young men playing the game today.”
I couldn’t agree with Steinbrenner more. In fact, I think Jeter is the finest player in the game today and he is so humble. When he tied Gehrig on Wednesday night, he even remarked how he didn’t want to disrespect the Tampa Bay players by acknowledging the crowd.
Bottom line: Jeter is a class act. He is an amazing ballplayer bound for the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I can’t say enough good things about the man, and I hope to God he wins the Most Valuable Player Award this year. If he doesn’t, I think it’s a major rip-off.
On the Yankee Yapping Facebook page, someone went as far as saying Jeter is the “god of baseball.”
In a lot of ways he is god-like to us fans, similar to Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson, and Don Mattingly. You can mention Jeter with the all-time Yankee greats, but in all likelihood, Jeter is in a class all by himself.
Hideki Matsui and Nick Swisher
Both of these guys have surprised me this year.
At the beginning of June I wrote an article about why I thought the Yankees should trade Hideki Matsui.
I noted that he is aging and can no longer play the outfield with his bad knees. I suggested maybe a trade for Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox (although they are the same age, Dye can still play the field and hit for power) I also brought up trading Matsui to a team that has fallen out of their race, like the Oakland Athletics or the Cleveland Indians.
I didn’t think Matsui had it in him anymore but he has definitely proven me wrong.
Showing a clutch facet of his game, Matsui belted a huge walk-off homer on July 20 to beat Baltimore at home. That was basically the moment where I thought to myself, “Matsui is alright. He can stay.”
But I think he’s gone above and beyond his expectations this year. I don’t think at the outset of this season the Yanks expected him to hit 24 home runs and average .275 with 81 RBIs, which are the numbers he has posted this year to this point.
Matsui even earned himself Pepsi Clutch Performer of the Month for his ability to carry the Yankees throughout the month of August.
He played in 24 games in August and averaged .281 with eight homers and 25 RBIs. His biggest series came the weekend of Aug. 21 at Fenway Park in Boston against the Red Sox. Matsui crushed four homers over the three-game weekend in Boston and averaged .400 in close-and-late situations.
He was also the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle in 1966 to homer multiple times in a game over a seven-game stretch, and he is the second Yankee to win the Pepsi Clutch Performer honors in 2009. Melky Cabrera won the title in the month of May.
And then there’s Nick Swisher.
On Thursday Nov. 13, 2008 the Yankees made a deal with the White Sox that sent Wilson Betemit to Chicago. The Yanks got Swisher in exchange and it looks like the trade was a steal for the Yanks.
In 2008 Swisher hit 24 home runs but only averaged .219. I thought he would just be a bust with the Yankees, maybe putting up numbers similar to Betemit’s while being a full-time bench player.
Now consider Xavier Nady’s injury; He was slated to be the everyday left fielder with Swisher as his backup. But with Nady going down with an elbow injury (consequently needing Tommy John surgery) Swisher stepped up his game and has enjoyed some decent success this year.
Swisher has become a huge part of the Yankees’ loose attitude; he’s always laughing and keeping everyone loose. Swisher never seems stiff and I think that rubs off on the rest of the team. Do you think if Nady never went down, he would have made the same impact? I’m not so sure. Maybe it was a good thing Nady went down, who knows.
I do know that Nady’s injury allowed Swisher an opportunity to shine, and he certainly has. He had demonstrated his ability to play hard on the road, hitting 21 of his 27 long balls away from Yankee Stadium.
Swisher has also shown versatility, hitting home runs from every spot in the batting order except the number one and nine holes.
At press time Swisher has 27 homers and 79 RBIs, and like Matsui, I feel he has gone above and beyond his expectations. I’m sure the organization expected him to play to the best of his ability (like they expect every player to) but I’m not sure if they expected him to post the kind of numbers he’s put up.
On Wednesday Sept. 8, Swisher hit his first walk-off home run as a Yankee, capping a two-home run night and procuring the Yankees’ 90th win of the year–quite a feat considering the Yanks never even reached 90 wins all of last year. After the game he could barely speak, he was so happy with what he had done.
Both players have done very well this year; a resurgent Matsui and an off-season trade that has paid off royally in Swisher. I can only hope both players keep on swinging their hot bats in the autumn month of October.
The Yankee Starters
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about the starting pitching right now.
At this point, I could care less about individual numbers. CC Sabathia has 17 wins. Andy Pettitte has 13. A.J. Burnett has 11. Heck, Alfredo Aceves has 10 victories in relief.
That amounts to 51 wins among those four pitchers alone. And I really don’t care.
The only thing I’m concerned with is the inconsistency among the majority of the starters and how they will pitch in the post-season. The only rock in the Yankees’ starting rotation has been Sabathia. The rest of the pitching staff is totally up in the air. Some of them go out and just puzzle the opposition one game and the next look totally lost.
Since I’ve blogged about Burnett (and defended him to his critics) I’ll start with him.
Like I said before, I have no clue what to make of him anymore. YES Network analyst and former pitcher Al Leiter made the best comparison yesterday: he said Burnett has almost taken on a “Jekyll and Hyde” persona. There are games he can take the mound and just make pitches and get hitters out with his breaking ball while taking good command of his fastball.
Yet there are other games where he takes the mound and is just totally lost, leaving pitches up and out over the plate for hitters to feast upon. He seems to get rattled too easily and lets bad innings kill him.
He is fiery some games and you can tell he wants to win, but there are other games where he has almost that “gunslinger” mentality and he walks too many guys and gives up home runs.
Joe Girardi said they will straighten him out and I sure hope they do. If they don’t, the Yankees’ bid for a 27th World Series title is in jeopardy. The Yankees need Burnett to be dealing come the playoffs.
Consider Burnett’s numbers: in his first 11 starts he posted a record of 8-2 with 2.08 ERA while only allowing five home runs. It seemed everything was going according to plan with him until the nine starts that followed. In those nine starts he went 1-5 with a 6.14 ERA and gave up nine homers.
Those kinds of stats are exactly like what Leiter described: Jekyll and Hyde.
Joba Chamberlain is next.
This poor kid was doing just fine until the Yanks put him back on the “Joba rules.”
Right out of the stretch after the All-Star break he went 4-0 with the Yankees winning his first five starts. I have to admit, Chamberlain looked great; his velocity in the mid-to-upper 90s and his changeup fooling a lot of hitters. Everyone talked about his downtime over the break and how he sort of “found himself” during that period.
But then he made a start in Seattle on July 16 and lost. Since then he has yet to win a game and has lost twice since that start against the Mariners.
I have to defend him; it’s not all his fault. He made one bad start at Seattle and since then hasn’t thrown more than four innings. If you don’t allow him to throw he’s never going to get any better.
The problems with his command and the quality of his stuff are not going to get any better if they don’t stretch him out. The problems are just going to continue to get worse, which is what has seemed to happen.
I heard that Chamberlain is on the innings limit for his last handful of regular season starts. In his final start before the playoffs they say he will throw six innings. I don’t even know what to expect from him.
Hopefully Chamberlain can go out and pitch effectively in his last few starts and that will continue through the playoffs. I am also hearing that they don’t know yet what role Chamberlain will take for the playoffs–starter or reliever. Whether he is a starter or reliever, I just hope he can do it.
I can’t fully blame him for not pitching well. Chamberlain doesn’t know what he’s doing and it’s not his fault. I blame the innings limit. If they had kept him on a normal schedule I think he’d be enjoying a lot more success than he is now.
Message to the Yankees: the year is 2009, Chamberlain’s third season in the big leagues. If you’d like to baby him, send him to the minors. Take the leash off and let the dog run, already.
Then there’s Andy Pettitte.
There was a stark contrast between the start on Aug. 31 at Baltimore and the start he made this past Friday at home vs. Baltimore. Obviously he wasn’t bidding for a perfect game on Friday like he was on Aug. 31, but he only went five innings and gave up five hits.
That was somewhat surprising to me since he had pitched at least six innings his previous three starts.
Pettitte has certainly been extremely more consistent than the rest of the pitchers (other than Sabathia) especially through the month of August when he went 4-0. He’s also a big time pitcher when the post-season rolls around, as noted last week when I said he’s pitched in World Series clinching games.
We’ll need to see that version of Pettitte show up in the ALDS and the rest of the post-season.
And finally we come to Sabathia.
The ace has been the only constant in the Yankee rotation all year. Just looking at his numbers since the All Star break he is 9-1 with a 2.75 ERA. Obviously there’s a huge difference between him and everyone else on the pitching staff.
This is why the Yanks signed Sabathia–to put up these types of Cy Young Award-worthy numbers. And I seriously meant it when I said he is a “second half player.” Historically Sabathia puts up his best work in the second half of the year, and this season is no exception.
Despite all the worries and negativity about the starting pitching, I have to say, they’ve done well this year. The Yankees would not have 92 wins without each and every one of the starters throwing the ball well. All of them have contributed to the Yankees’ success.
I also have to point out their ability to pick each other up. When Pettitte was scuffling in July, Burnett was on fire, going undefeated in the hot summer month. But when Burnett was struggling in August, Pettitte picked him up by going 4-0 that month.
If they maintain that same formula in the post-season, there’s a lot of room for success and winning. Not saying I want one pitcher to be hot and the rest of them cold, but they can still find ways to win despite struggling. However, if history has showed us anything, it’s that a team cannot go into a playoff series with cold pitchers.
The starters have to be rolling and keeping the other team off the board, giving their offense a chance to win the game. Come Oct. 6 (game one of the ALDS) we’ll see if that happens for the Yankees.
Well that does it for this week. The regular season is almost over, days are closing in, and hopefully we’re on our way to more positive history in the Bronx.
See you next week with more highlights, analysis, and topics.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!