Results tagged ‘ Johnny Damon ’
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!!!
Greetings Yankee fans!
And welcome to the ninth edition of Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
This Past Home Stand
After last weekend’s series victory in Boston (and the end of a 10-game road trip in which the Yankees went 7-3 on) the Bronx Bombers came home for a six-game home stand.
The home stand started off shaky as the Yanks lost 10-9 in an “almost game” on Tuesday. Down 10-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yanks showed some fight and life, scoring four runs and coming within an eyelash of winning the game.
Rough loss, but they rebounded nicely winning on Wednesday by a score of 9-2 with a good game from Andy Pettitte and timely hitting from Jorge Posada and Jerry Hairston, Jr. (who both homered in the win).
Looking for the series victory, A.J. Burnett tossed a solid game Thursday afternoon. However, I kept asking myself after that game, “How can a pitcher strike out 12 batters and lose?” Well, apparently it’s possible, because it happened to Burnett. He went six innings and gave up three runs on just two hits, walked three and struck out a season-high 12.
The Yankees dropped the series finale to Texas, 7-2. It was the first time the Yanks lost a series since the July 30-Aug. 2 series in Chicago, losing three of four to the White Sox.
Coincidently enough, the White Sox came to town for the final three games of the home stand, and the Empire once again struck back.
On Friday the Yanks saw a gem from their ace, the Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia. He pitched seven strong innings and gave up two runs on eight hits. He walked one and matched his season high strikeout mark, fanning 10 White Sox.
Even though he didn’t notch the win, Sabathia still has the Major League lead in the wins category with 15. I said it last week and I’ll say it again: CC could very well be “Cy Cy” this year.
With the game tied in the 10th, Robinson Cano delivered the death blow, a game-winning three-run blast that landed in the Yankee bullpen to give the Bombers a Friday night win.
It was Cano’s 21st home run of the season, his fourth career walk-off hit, and very first career walk-off home run.
It was the first time the Yanks hit a walk-off homer against the White Sox since Don Baylor beat them with one swing in 1985.
The Yankees now have 12 walk-off wins this year (if you count the walk-off error by Luis Castillo on June 12 vs. the Mets) Six of those 12 walk-offs have come via the home run, which ties a single-season team record.
Saturday the Yankees came out swinging, and in my mind the unexpected happened. I thought that the Yankees had a good chance of winning (as I always do), especially because of the White Sox’ starting pitcher, Jose Contreras.
Contreras was 0-6 against the Yankees going into Saturday’s start, but then again we never know what we’re getting out of Sergio Mitre anymore, who made the start for the Bombers.
What we got Saturday afternoon was pretty good. Mitre looked great and pitched a gem, even taking a perfect game into the fifth inning.
Mitre had to be taken out after getting hit with a line drive, but his performance was outstanding. Chad Gaudin (who relieved Mitre after he was struck on the arm with a line drive) also did well, and the White Sox only mustered one hit in that game against the two Yankee hurlers.
Manager Joe Girardi said they will evaluate Mite and after that make the decision as to whether or not he will make his next start. Saturday marked the first time that Mitre pitched six complete innings since Aug. 25, 2007. Hopefully we’ll see more of that down the stretch, if he’s OK to pitch.
With the combined efforts of Cano, Hairston, Alex Rodriguez, and Johnny Damon (who all knocked in two runs on Saturday) the White Sox were squashed, 10-0. Rodriguez hit his 23rd home run of the year and Hideki Matsui also drove in a run.
Saturday’s win was the 17th time this year the Yanks have scored 10 or more runs in one game. If you ask me, that is just ridiculous. To me, that number says the Yankees know how to score runs like it’s no one’s business.
The finale against the ChiSox (and last game of the home stand) was yet another victory for the Yankees as they won, 8-3 on Sunday afternoon.
Damon tied his career-high home run count of 24 and Mark Teixeira blasted a three-run homer, his 32nd of the year, in the win. The parade of pitchers (Joba Chamberlain, Alfredo Aceves, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Phil Hughes, and Phil Coke) did a fine job of holding down the White Sox, possibly knocking them out of playoff contention with the sweep. The Yankees outscored Chicago 23-5 this past weekend.
Aceves got the win on Sunday and moves to 9-1 in relief. He has been so valuable to the Yankees this year, and that statement is evidenced by his record.
Overall the Yankees went 4-2 on their home stand, and have won 20 of their last 26 ballgames. They have gone 31-11 since the All-Star break (which is the best in baseball) and are 20-7 in this month alone. I don’t think the Yankees want the summer month of August to end with those kinds of numbers.
The last day of August is today, and Andy Pettitte (11-6, 4.18 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling on their winning streak (and their hot streak this month) tonight in Baltimore against Jeremy Guthrie (9-12, 5.26 ERA) and the Orioles.
The Yanks will play their next seven games on the road (three in Baltimore and then four in Toronto) and then will come home to play Tampa Bay on Labor Day, which is Monday, Sept. 7.
Oh, and as they’ve had most of the year, the Yankees still own the best record in baseball at 82-48. They are also the only team (at press time) with 80 or more wins.
With each game, the Yankees are looking more and more like the team to beat in the playoffs, and right now all is right in “Yankee Universe.”
Joba Rules Getting Old?
Everybody knows about the “Joba Rules” but quite honestly I’m getting really tired of them.
On July 29, Chamberlain made a scheduled start in Tampa Bay against the Rays, and shined like he had been since the second half of the season started after the All-Star break.
He went eight innings in that game and gave up no runs on just three hits, walked two, and struck out five.
After the great game in Tampa, the Yankees rested him for eight days, not allowing him to start again until Aug. 6. In hindsight it was the right thing to do (since they needed Chamberlain to make the start against the Red Sox at home–a game that he won, but didn’t pitch well in)
Against Boston, Chamberlain went five innings and gave up four runs on six hits. He walked seven in that game and struck out five. If you want my opinion, I think the extra rest probably hurt him, but I completely understand why the Yanks did it. They needed him to throw in a crucial series against the Red Sox that they needed to win.
He pitched again on Aug. 11 vs. Toronto (on normal rest) and wasn’t great, but wasn’t horrible, either. He went six innings, gave up four earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. Chamberlain didn’t pick up the win, but the Yanks did come out on top, 7-5.
Since that game against Toronto, Chamberlain has not pitched particularly well at all. He went out again on normal rest in Seattle and was less-than-acceptable. He tossed only four innings and gave up four earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out two.
He then went on to pitch against Texas this past Tuesday and again went on eight days rest. The rust showed, and he coughed up a four-run Yankee lead and he went on to lose the game, his second consecutive loss. He looked extremely flat in that outing, only going four innings allowing seven earned runs on nine hits.
Sunday against Chicago is when I got annoyed. Chamberlain only went three innings and tossed 35 pitches before being pulled. He gave up two runs on four hits, but the reason they pulled him was because they want to be careful with him; they want to make sure he won’t pass his 2009 innings limit.
Joe Girardi has been quite secretive and has not revealed what Chamberlain’s innings limit is exactly. The media has estimated that the limit is in the neighborhood of 160. Right now he’s at 133 and 2/3. Girardi even said that as high as 180 innings this year would be a “danger zone” for Chamberlain.
I really don’t get it anymore. We all know he’s on an innings limit, but when he’s throwing the ball so well, why slow him down? That’s exactly what the Yankees did. His first four games after the All-Star break he was 4-0 with a 3.81 ERA. They messed with him, and now he’s off kilter.
I understand why the Yanks are being careful with him. Chamberlain (in the Yankee organization’s mind) is an integral part of their future. They don’t want to ruin his arm at 23 years old.
I mean, look at what has happened to Edinson Volquez (26 years old) of the Cincinnati Reds. He tossed 196 innings last year in 2008 and got as far as 49 and 2/3 this year before needing to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees certainly don’t want that to see something like that happen to Chamberlain. But if he’s pitching well, let him go. The Yankees are eventually going to have to give him more innings of work before the post-season if they want him to start.
All I know is that they better figure something out for him, and hopefully they can find it for Chamberlain before October. The Yankees need him to be dealing in full force come the ALDS.
Besides, I think everyone (not just me) has grown extremely tired of the “Joba Rules.”
This is Chamberlain’s third year in the big leagues. Just take the leash off and let him throw.
Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano
I think Major League Baseball should investigate these two players just to make sure they are human beings and not hitting machines.
Both Jeter and Cano are on absolute tears right now.
To start, Jeter has been red hot with 16 hits in his last 10 games. In those 10 games, he has scored 13 runs and knocked in six along with hitting two homers and stealing three bases.
It just seems every time Jeter comes up, he comes up with big hits and RBIs. On Sunday night it was announced that Jeter was named the shortstop on ESPN’s “20th Year All-Star Team,” beating out Cal Ripken, Jr. and Ozzie Smith.
Jeter has 2,710 career hits (175 of which have come in 2009 so far) and he will soon be the all-time Yankees’ hits leader. Lou Gehrig is currently sitting atop that list, but (without question) by season’s end Jeter will pass him.
Many people are talking Jeter, along with Mark Teixeira, up to be the American League Most Valuable Player. If you want my opinion, Jeter was robbed in 2006 when Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins won it ahead of him.
If he’s in the discussion, I have a feeling Jeter will not be the runner-up this year. It’ll just be another accomplishment under his belt. But if you ask Jeter, he’d say he wants a World Title over the MVP. He has a good shot at getting both.
And then there’s Cano.
The young second baseman has also been tearing the cover off the ball, hitting safely in eight of his last 10 games. Over that span he’s collected 14 hits with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and eight runs scored.
He’s already set a new career-high in home runs with 21 to this point (he passed his career-high home run mark of 19 on Tuesday vs. Texas when he went deep for the 20th time–before hitting number 21 on Friday in walk-off style) and he has turned some heads with his stellar defense this season.
Cano is really showing no signs of slowing down, and I can remember hearing some analysts on ESPN say he’s the best second baseman in the league in terms of getting the ball to first base when executing a double play. Watching him all year, I couldn’t agree more.
Both his defense and offense have improved since last year, and I’m really happy that he hit his first walk-off home run on Friday night. He looked so happy when he rounded the bases, and I expected something big from him, seeing as how incredibly hot he’s been hitting.
I know I’ve profiled the hitting and defense of both players in past editions of the blog already, but I just couldn’t help pointing it out again. Jeter and Cano are on fire, and if they continue to hit they way they are, they will be extremely difficult to pitch to in the playoffs.
30 hits between two players in only 10 games seems quite ridiculous, but I guess this year it’s normal for Jeter and Cano. These two guys are like Superman and Batman; they are so powerful and they won’t give up.
With the end of August tomorrow, we have officially hit the stretch run of the baseball season. And in the stretch run, teams are allowed to expand their active rosters from 25 players to 40, if they choose to.
The Yankees will call up some minor leaguers to help them reach their September goal: clinching the American League Eastern Division.
I have no doubt that Ramiro Pena will get rewarded with a call-up. He played in 53 games this season, and helped fill the void left by Alex Rodriguez before his return from his hip injury on May 15.
Pena hit .277 with no homers and seven RBIs in those 53 games for the Yanks this year, and he’ll most likely get a call back to the show on Tuesday for a role on the bench. I think he’s earned it.
I also have a feeling we’ll see catcher Francisco Cervelli back up in the majors. He did a great job of filling in for Jorge Posada when he was injured, and put up some decent numbers, even for a catcher.
Cervelli hit .269 in 25 games this year with a home run and nine RBIs. In the last 10 games he played in before being sent packing, he collected nine hits with five RBIs and six runs scored.
I really think Cervelli could very well be the starting catcher in the future for the Yankees, of course after Posada’s catching days are over.
Expect to see a few pitchers come up, maybe Jonathan Albaladejo and Mark Melancon, both of whom have already been up and back down to the minors.
Maybe Edwar Ramirez gets a call back, but who knows. They’ll need some arms to keep Joba Chamberlain’s innings count down, so there is help on the way for Chamberlain and the starters who don’t get far into the game.
There’s a possibility Shelley Duncan gets a call up. He was raking in the minors and briefly made an appearance in the show before the non-waivers trade deadline.
Although he got a mid-season call-up and was seen in the Yankee dugout, Duncan didn’t even take the field because the Yankees received Jerry Hairston, Jr. at the trade deadline, which sent Duncan back to Triple-A.
Duncan made a splash when he was called up in August of 2007, hitting .257 with seven homers and 17 RBIs in 34 games. He was believed to be part of the Yankee youth movement after ’07, but when he came up in 2008 he just wasn’t the same player.
In ’08 he played in only 23 games and hit .175 with a homer and just six RBIs.
This year in the minors for the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees, Duncan smashed 29 homers with 92 RBIs while batting .274. If he could show those kinds of numbers in the majors, he could possibly be a mainstay in the majors.
Maybe the 29 year-old Duncan gets rewarded for his good Minor League year with an end-of-season call-up. If not, he can spend time reading his “Shelley Duncan Facts” website (please don’t take these seriously, folks)
Along with all these minor leaguers who have had a few “cups of coffee” with the Yanks this year, hopefully we will see the return of Brett Gardner from the disabled list.
Gardner fractured his thumb sliding into second base in a game at home against Oakland, but the speedster is hoping to come back to the Yankees within the week. A runner of Gardner’s speed (along with everything else he’s done this year) makes him worthy of a post-season roster spot, in my mind.
Of all these players who may see the majors on Tuesday, Gardner’s really the only one I see making the playoff roster, but that doesn’t mean the others won’t help the Yankees get there.
Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. I will be back next week with more topics, highlights, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!
Greetings Yankee Fans!
And welcome to the sixth installment of Yankee Yapping.
Away we go!
My thoughts on…
In the last edition of the blog I said the Yankees had the potential to be 6 and ½ games in front of the Red Sox after this past weekend. Little did I know that would be the case and that the Yankees would meet that potential. I thought for sure the Yankees and Red Sox might split the series, simply by looking at the pitching match-ups.
But that wasn’t what happened.
It was a great weekend to be a Yankee fan as the Bronx Bombers were all over the Red Sox, sweeping them right out of Yankee Stadium. It was the first time since 1985 the Yankees swept the Red Sox in four games at home.
If you don’t think the Yankees were playing at their best, consider the numbers: The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 25-8 this past weekend. The Yankees averaged .299 at the plate while the Red Sox batted .174. The Yankees left the yard nine times while Boston only did so three times.
And it wasn’t just the hitting.
New York out-pitched Boston, posting an ERA of 1.71 this past weekend. Boston’s ERA was 5.82. Not only did New York have that stat over Boston, but the Yankee pitching kept the Red Sox off the board for 31 and 1/3 consecutive innings.
The Yanks had not kept Boston’s bats that quiet since 1952, and it was the longest streak of scoreless innings by the Red Sox since 1974.
Derek Jeter said after the game that the pitching for the Yanks has just been unbelievable. “I can’t say enough good about them,” were the words he used when speaking to the media.
If you look at each game individually, you can see just how great the Yankees were playing. They outdid the Red Sox in every facet of the game; hitting with runners in scoring position, pitching, defense–the Yankees had it all going for them this past weekend.
Coming into this series the Yanks were playing well and Boston wasn’t. The Yanks had just swept Toronto while Boston had just been swept by Tampa Bay, so while the Yankees were riding a winning streak into the series, Boston was coming off a few poor games.
It’s safe to say that in New England right now it must be like a funeral while here in New York everyone is all smiles.
Not only did Boston get swept by their most hated rivals, they fell to 6 and ½ games out of first place in the AL East Division and are now tied with the Texas Rangers for the lead in the AL Wild Card.
Overall it was not a great weekend to be a Boston Red Sox fan.
When the Yankees signed A.J. Burnett, most Yankee fans were somewhat skeptical. He has a history of being injured, and he had Tommy John surgery early in his career.
But I was happy when he signed, and not just because he and I share the same initials (well…sure, that was part of it). But the way he pitched against the Yankees in 2008 was the reason why I was thrilled.
We couldn’t beat him, so we joined him.
A free agent at the end of last year, Burnett signed for five years and $82.5 million. So far he’s earning it.
I think the best term that can be used to describe Burnett is clutch. He has been the Yankees best clutch pitcher this year and probably the most consistent. He may not lead the team with wins (he is second with 10 while CC Sabathia has 12) but if you look at performance, he’s been better than anyone else on the staff.
When he out-dueled his former teammate Josh Beckett on Friday night (a game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off two-run home run by Alex Rodriguez) that was when I thought “clutch” to myself. He went out there and went head-to-head with Beckett (who currently leads the majors in wins with 13) and matched him pitch-for-pitch.
Burnett went 7 and 2/3 vs. Boston, giving up no runs on just one hit. He walked six and struck out six
Not trying to knock any of the rest of the pitchers on the Yankees’ staff, because all of them have been excellent–they proved that this weekend. But Burnett has been the best of the Yankee pitchers all year.
In his last 10 games, Burnett is 6-2 with two no-decisions. Both no-decisions were games the Yankees won, and he’s racked up 57 of his 123 total strikeouts over those 10 games.
If he continues to pitch the way he has been going down the stretch, the Yankees are in for a good run and most likely in good shape for October.
At press time Burnett boasts a 10-5 record with a 3.67 ERA. His next scheduled start is Wednesday afternoon at home against his former team, the Blue Jays.
Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira
I really didn’t get Joe Girardi’s reasoning for switching Johnny Damon and Derek Jeter in the batting order this year, but now I’m starting to see why it was a good move.
The strategy of Jeter hitting lead-off and Damon batting in front of Mark Teixeira seems to be paying off. Damon and Teixeira compliment each other well in the lineup, and the numbers indicate that statement.
In last night’s thrilling 5-2 win over Boston, Damon and Teixeira hit back-to-back home runs for the sixth time this season. That sets a franchise record for back-to-back home runs, and the terrific tandem beat out a very elite group of Yankee players.
Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went back-to-back five times in 1927, and Gehrig later did it again with Joe DiMaggio in 1936. Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez also matched the total of five in 2005 while Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris went back-to-back four times in the 1961 season.
Teixeira actually didn’t realize he and Damon had set the record until Damon told him, and both players were excited about what they have been able to do this year.
“Me and Johnny hit strikes,” Teixeira told the press about his round-tripper last night.
“He told me we have the record, and it’s unbelievable.”
While Teixeira is leading the American League in home runs with 29, Damon is tearing the cover off the ball. He has 21 homers with 65 RBIs and is batting .281. Six of those 21 long balls have come against the Red Sox.
Simply looking at his last 10 games, Damon is 15-for-46 with four homers, eight RBIs, and eight runs scored. In the final year of his contract, he is putting together a season that can earn him more time with the Yankees.
I predicted Damon to hit 26 homers this year. He might even hit more than that, the way he’s been playing.
As for Teixeira, he’ll certainly be in the MVP discussion. He is proving he can play in New York and play big time.
Hopefully these two will provide more exciting moments for the Yankee fans, and they have a chance to put their back-to-back home runs record so far out of reach that no other tandem of players will be able to touch it.
The 2009 Season to This Point
I don’t think anyone really expected the Yankees to be in this position right now.
With the Tampa Bay Rays coming off their AL Pennant-winning season and the Red Sox making additions to their club, I think a lot of baseball fans expected the Yanks to flop again this year.
But look at what they’ve done. They struggled early on, playing without Alex Rodriguez and with a pitching staff that had yet to be acclimated to the new Yankee Stadium and the madness of the Bronx. But they just kept on battling and willing themselves all the way up to first place where they are now.
If you look at the last time the Yanks made the playoffs in 2007, it was (for the most part) one player’s responsibility. Rodriguez basically said, “Get on my back, guys. I’ll carry us.” And he did. Without Rodriguez in 2007, the Yankees would have been nowhere.
Rodriguez did it all in ’07–walk-off grand slams, walk-off homers, and ninth inning RBIs that were so unreal no one could believe what they were seeing. He finished the season with 54 home runs, 156 RBIs, and averaged .314.
2007 was pretty much “The Alex Rodriguez Show.” 2009 is proving to be “The New York Yankees Team Show.”
If you look back at how the Yankees handled themselves in 1998, everyone on the team contributed. That was why they won 114 games during the regular season and 125 games overall.
One night it might be Jeter, the next night Paul O’Neill, maybe the game after that Tino Martinez or Bernie Williams, and so on.
We are getting that same formula this year; one night it might be Damon, the next game Teixeira, another night it could be Jeter or Rodriguez, or Melky Cabrera. They are displaying excellent teamwork, like the 1990s Championship teams. They don’t beat themselves and they play every inning.
They’ve also been able to provide game-winning mystique, similar to the old Stadium. Cabrera has been clutch (as noted in the last edition of the blog; three walk-off hits this year) Jorge Posada has had a good year (two walk-offs to this point) and Rodriguez has even provided some walk-off magic (he has two game-winning hits this year)
Girardi described the team as “very resilient,” and they certainly are. They bounce back from things quickly, as demonstrated last night; Victor Martinez hit a two-run shot to give Boston a 2-1 lead in the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Damon and Teixeira get the lead right back (to back…OK, bad joke)
The point is that if they are able to keep on doing what they are doing and playing the way they’ve been playing, they will go an awfully long way down the stretch and into the post-season.
At press time the Yankees sport the best record in baseball at 69-42. Last year they were 61-50 after 111 games, so as you can see by that statistic, they have greatly improved since 2008.
Yet they have to continue to play hard throughout the rest of the season. They will see division rivals Boston and Baltimore six more times this year, Tampa Bay seven more times, and Toronto nine more times, beginning a three-game set with them tonight.
They’ll also have to face the likes of the Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and Kansas City Royals along the way.
If any team can do it, it’s the Yankees. In their last 41 games they have gone an absolutely ridiculous 31-10. The Yankees are showing that they are for real.
Well, that does it for this week’s edition of Yankee Yapping. Join me next week for more topics, highlights, and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!