Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Come Back Anytime, Twins

[Ed. Note: Photos via ESPN/the AP this morning]

The Yankees ran their winning streak to six last night, finishing off a four game sweep of the Twins. While Monday's game lacked the walk-off heroics of the three that preceeded it, it still managed to up my blood pressure thanks to the continued high wire act that is attempting to get innings from the Yankees' relief core. Complicating matters, the pen was walking the tightrope without a net last night, as Mo was unavailable after throwing 44 pitches over three innings the last two days.

But back to the beginning. Pettitte staked the Twins to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first as Mauer and Morneau continued their hot hitting with a pair of RBI singles. I feared that my in-person losing streak would run to four games.

Thankfully for the Yankees, and for me, Glen Perkins extended his streak of giving up at least 4 ER to five consecutive starts, and would do so in the most efficient fashion possible. Jeter and Damon got it started with back-to-back singles, and Teix and A-Rod followed with back-to-back homers to left field to make it 4-2 Yanks. You could have hung your laundry on A-Rod's blast, a Winfield-like lined shot that never got more than 15 or so feet off the ground.

After retiring the ice cold Nick Swisher on another deep fly ball to left field, the Yankees got the line moving again with hits from Cano, Cabrera, and Cervelli, sandwiched around a fly out by Ramiro Pena. That would be it for Perkins: 0.2IP 7H 6R 6ER 0K 0BB. Ouch.
[UPDATE 5:13 PM: The Twins placed Perkins on the 15 day DL today with the same injury Chien-Ming Wang had - inability-to-get-anyone-out-itis. Wang's manifested in his hips; Perkins' in his pitching elbow. The Twins called-up old friend Sean Henn to take his roster spot. I have a feeling Twin fans will be hoping for a speedy return for Perkins.]

R.A. Dickey finished off the first for the Twins and used his knuckler to shut the offense down through the 5th. The Yanks would tack on another run in the 7th, with Texeira going deep again, this time left-handed, marking the second time this year he's homered from both sides of the plate in the same game.

Pettitte spent the rest of his night pitching into and out of trouble, aided by some great defense from Robinson Cano, with help from Teixeira, and a bare-handed pick at third by Pena that would have made Scottie Barehand proud. Pettitte even got in on the act himself, knocking down a hot shot comebacker from Joe Crede in the 5th and catching Brendan Harris between 3rd and the plate to help himself out of a 2 on, 1 out jam.

Carlos Gomez continued to endear himself to the Yankees. Following Friday night's exchange with Teixeira, Gomez went in wide, high, and hard on Jeter in the 4th, breaking up a potential double play. I'd have to say Gomez now joins Ellsbury and Huff on the list of people who should be dusting themselves off in a future game against the Yanks this year.

The Yankees would have the last on laugh on Gomez though, as he came to the plate in the the 7th with the bases loaded and the Twins trailing by two. Jose Veras had entered the game one batter earlier, and walked Michael Cuddyer on five pitches. Instead of making Veras show him a strike, Gomez jumped on the first pitch, flying out center to end the threat. That's why you entered the night with an OBP under .300, Carlos.

Lamentably, that would not be the final jam for the Yankee pen to face. Edwar Ramirez came in for the eighth, and as is becoming his calling card, surrendered both a HR and a BB. With Mauer on first and a 4 for 4 Justin Morneau at the plate as the tying run, Girardi summoned Phil Coke. Coke would get his revenge on Morneau: after surrending homers to him on Friday and Saturday, Coke whiffed him on three ugly looking swings to end the inning.

Things would not go as smoothly for Coke in the ninth. After walking the leadoff man, Coke traded a run for two groundouts, cutting the lead to a run. Gomez walked to put a very speedy tying run on base. But pinch hitter Mark Redmond grounded to Cano, running the streak to 6, completing the sweep, and giving Phil Coke his first Major League save.

The Twins lost these four games in the Bronx by a grand total of five runs. It's not that far away, but I get the feeling that's going to be a long flight to Chicago.


  1. Ellsbury? Why, cause he stole home off Pettite? Now THAT'S the Yankee mentality I've come to know and, um, expect?

  2. tad,
    1. it wasn't stealing home, it was the curtain call afterwards.
    2. who the hell is named tad?

  3. Yes, because he stole home. And that's a ballsy move at any point, particularly when you're already on third as the go-ahead run and your team's #5 hitter is at the plate and he's in a hitter's count.

    Even ballsier is taking a curtain call for it. If stealing home doesn't show your opponent up, the curtain call certainly does.

  4. When I was about 11 in little league I hit for the cycle ending with the triple (\reliving the highlight of my athletic career). At this point we were up by about 8 runs I decided to steal home and subsequently got benched for the rest of that game and the next.

    To put that amount of production and such a marvelous athlete on the bench showed me something. It was done to teach me not to show up the other team and to act like a man, something Ellsbury was not learned apparently. So in light of this he must be hit in the face

  5. Fellas, with all due respect, Tad's not out of line here. Ellsbury is not a target, or shouldn't be. If he did that wearing pinstripes, we'd christen him a "true Yankee".

    Sorry, I don't buy a curtain call as showing up the other team.

    And yes, I am a Yanks fan, as you probably know by now.

  6. Jason,

    I don't particularly buy the "true Yankee" stuff anyway.

    A curtain call in and of itself isn't terrbile. But I think there are times when it's called for and times when it's not. Melky took a little heat last year for taking one on Opening Night following a 6th inning solo shot that tied the game. Maybe it was a little premature at that point. Fans in RF last night were chanting for Tex after his second HR. He chose not to come out, and I think it was the right choice. Roger Maris literally had to be pushed out of the dugout by his teammates after hitting his 61st HR.

    But at the risk of becoming the baseball morality police, where do you draw the line? Curtain calls are almost exclusively the domain of big home runs, no hitters, or perfect games. Admittedly a straight steal of home is one of baseball's rarest and most-exciting plays, but then what? Scoring from first on a double? A well-placed, ninth inning sac bunt to move the winning run to third with less than two outs?

    Clearly I'm belaboring the point here. Ellsbury made a ballsy and heady play and exploited Pettitte's poor decision to go from the wind-up. But if Sox players and coaches can get on Chamberlain for his fist-pumping and alleged head-hunting antics, then they have to be able to face criticism for some of their own actions as well. In the end, I probably shouldn't even have referenced it in this game recap.

  7. Given that this blog is named after the hatred of someone on the Red Sox who has never done anything in particular to make me dislike him, I reserve the right to hate Ellsbury for taking the curtain call. I don't think it was particularly out of line, but that doesn't mean I can't despise him for it.

  8. Despising Ellsbury for stealing home is fine. Throwing at him for it, and the curtain call? Bush league.

    I wasn't aware that all little league lessons transferred unabated to the pros. I'll remember that the next time the Yanks are pummeling a team and don't let up on the gas. And, as reported, the Sox weren't up by 8 runs at the time of the steal, the game was tied.

    Three other points:
    1) Joba looks like a db for the fist pumping, but that's his perogative. We fans criticize Joba for obviously throwing at opposing players, which you clearly want more of. OK, but if it were me, I'd prefer my team just win the game and, if possible, show up the opposing team with a HR or stolen base or something other than head hunting. Showing up a team equals hitting batters? If that's the case, the Yanks/Sox should all be on the DL for Joba's/Paps' antics...doesn't work that way.

    2) Yankee fans are criticizing other teams for curtain calls? Hypocritical.

    3) Criticizing my screen name? Good one, "BigWillieStyle".

  9. Tad,

    To be clear, I wasn't so much advocating for throwing at him as I was "dusting him off" - knocking him down. I believe there's a place for that sort of thing in the game. I'm not advocating a beanball war.

    I would prefer that Joba not be as demonstrative with his actions on the mound. Sure he was dealing against the Sox two weeks ago, but the bottom line is, he was still losing at the time. It may be hard for me to look at it with an objective eye, but to me there's a world of difference between Joba's "fist pump" and Papelbon's post-save celebrations.

    As for throwing at guys, I think there's a time and a place for that, and I think there have been a couple times in the last three seasons where Joba has exercised poor judgement when it comes to that. I also think there were times where he's simply just hit a guy without any intent and people want to make a big deal out of it. I can understand the suspicion when he hit Bay after Bay had been wearing the Yanks out - but consider the context. Why, in a one run game, would Joba intentionally plunk him with a runner already on base?

    I alluded in one of my previous comments that I think there are some unnecessary curtain calls in the Bronx. And virtually all of them follow home runs. But did Jayson Werth or Michael Bourn take a curtain call after stealing home this year?

    In the end these are all relatively minute points that we shouldn't be spending so much time debating. I shouldn't have even mentioned Ellsbury in the recap. So I've said my last on this for now.

  10. The timeliness of the curtain call is the problem. The SB and the subsequent curtain call came in the bottom of the 5th inning when the Sawx were already winning. If it occurred in the later innings it would have been somewhat acceptable, but there are possibly still 4 more innings left in an April game.

    It is clear that the 2 young Native American players have a lot to learn as far as etiquette is concerned.

  11. Matt and Joe: duly noted. You mention timing with regard to curtain calls. I think timing plays into why Papelbon is given less grief for his antics as opposed to Joba: the game is over when Papelbon does his thing.

  12. No one said all lessons transfer from little league to the majors. However sportsmanship is one that does...the ways that people are punished for being unsportsmanlike does differ.

    MLB isn't like other professional sports, there are really no penalties for this so players must police themselves (i.e. throw at the batter, spike someone on a slide, sleep with their wife, etc.).

    Big Willie Style, original? Depends on if you met me before or after that SOB Will Smith came out with his shitty CD.

    The name Tad, I am sticking by my story.