Joe Girardi prefers to refer to Alfredo Aceves as "Ace". I prefer "Alf", recalling the Melmacian alien and sitcom star of my youth. So instead of another "Ace in the Hole" or "Aceves Comes Up Aces" headline like you'll likely see elsewhere, I'm sticking to Alf. Today though, Girardi's moniker of choice was more apt, as Aceves saved the Yankees bacon on a marathon Sunday afternoon.
Aceves was the lone member of Satuday's Yankee bullpen not to see action in the 12 inning game, requiring rest after Girardi pushed him one inning too many in Thursday's loss. Today, he entered in the sixth, after a poor start from Joba Chamberlain and an inning and a third of scoreless, if shaky, relief from the just-recalled Jonathan Albaladejo. Aceves proceeded to throw four shutout innings on just forty-three pitches, thirty-three of them strikes. He allowed just one hit, a leadoff single in the eighth, walked none, and fanned five, including Scott Rolen looking to end the three hour forty-four minute game.
In stark contrast to Alf's performance was another frustratingly poor outing from Joba Chamberlain. Aceves' "stuff" is vastly inferior to that of Joba's, but Alf trusts his repetoire infinitely more than Chamberlain at this stage. Aceves challenged hitters all day, needing less than eleven pitches per inning pitched. Joba nibbled all afternoon, crapping out after eighty-six pitches in just three and two thirds innings.
Staked to a 4-0 lead, Joba gave three back in the third before the wheels completely came off in fourth. An error by Cody Ransom, subbing for A-Rod at third, certainly didn't help, leaving all five fourth inning runs credited as unearned, but the bottom line is that with two outs, Chamberlain repeatedly failed to finish off the inning, allowing four consecutive hits before giving way to Albaladejo.
My cousin, uncles, and father attended today's game. The last contest my father went to was another sloppy Chamberlain start, on April 17th, in which the Yanks and Tribe combined for six home runs. Today the ball was flying out again, with the Jays and Yanks knocking out two apiece.
After Chamberlain left the Yanks in an 8-4 hole in the bottom of the fourth, Hideki Matsui got the Yanks right back into it, launching a three run shot to cut the lead to one. The following inning, Derek Jeter added a two run shot to put the Yankees ahead for good; it was one of four Jeter hits on the day.
Jorge Posada, batting clean-up in place of A-Rod, had a big day, going 4 for 5 with a double, scoring twice, and driving in three. Johnny Damon drew two walks; Mark Teixeira drew three. Robinson Cano, dropped to seventh in the order, had a better afternoon, picking up a pair of singles, but ran his RISP oh for to twentyone.
Today's victory ensured that the Yanks will take their third straight series. Tomorrow afternoon they go for the sweep; hopefully the Fred Durst caps are gone for that one.
A quick programming note for those of you watching the tube tonight: at nine o'clock the MLB Network will be showing Pride of the Yankees, the Lou Gehrig biopic. Released in 1942, the movie probably hasn't aged well and will probably seem hokie by today's standards. But it's a fitting end to this Fourth of July Weekend, Plus you get to see Hall of Famers Babe Ruth and Bill Dickey, as well as Bob Meusel and Mark Koenig play themselves. Gary Cooper, who played Gehrig, was a natural righty. So for the baseball scenes he wore a backwards uniform and ran to third base after hitting, then the film was flipped to make the reels.