Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Game 39: Hoochie Coochie Man

The Yanks go for lucky number seven in a row tonight as the O's come to town for the middle series of the homestand.

Baltimore should have centerfielder Adam Jones back in the line-up tonight. The centerpiece of the package Seattle swapped for Erik Bedard after the 2007 season, Jones has not played since tweaking his hamstring last Wednesday. Before leaving the line-up, the 23 year-old had really blossomed this year, hitting .370/.426/.669 and combining with Nick Markakis to form 2/3rds of a good young outfield. Unfortunately for the Orioles, the other third of their outfield is an abject wasteland, as the assorted garbage they've trotted out to left this year has hit .219/.318/.320. Yikes.

Rookie Brad Bergesen takes the hill for the Orioles. The Yankees have never faced him before, so that could spell trouble for the Yanks. Hopefully the Yankees will give Bergesen the same treatment they gave Scott Richmond in Toronto last week. After ptiching well in high-A and AA last year, Bergesen was called up after just 11 AAA innings this year. He carries a 5.71 ERA and 1.76 WHIP through his five MLB starts. He's struck out just 4.6 per 9, but has walked only 2.6 per 9. It'll be interesting to see how the Yankees' patient approach fares against a pitcher who appears to be around the plate consistently. The league is hitting .348 against Bergesen thus far, but he may be a victim of bad luck - he has a .364 BABIP against - far higher than the league average of .302. Most pitchers end up around the league average as the season progresses, and since Bergesen rarely registers a K, his unusually high BABIP has a major impact on his numbers.

The Yankees counter with CC Sabathia. The big lefty has faced the O's twice already this year. After a poor Opening Day outing, CC dominated the O's on May 8th, tossing a shutout and stiking out eight against only four hits and a base-on-balls. Sabathia followed that up with another strong outing in Toronto last Thursday.

Brian Bruney is slated to be activated from the DL in time for tonight's game. Bruney will provide some desperately needed help to the bullpen, particularly with Phil Coke likey unavailable tonight after using up 36 pitches to get 4 outs last night. No word on the corresponding roster move yet, but I would imagine Berroa, Tomko, Veras, Aceves, Ramirez, and Albaladejo are all being dicussed. My guess is that it will be Edwar - he, Aceves, and Albaladejo are the only ones with options left. The other two have been good of late; Edwar has not.

The O's come in having alternated wins and losses in each of their last nine games. Having lost their previous game, that would make them due for a win tonight. But the Yanks have some good mojo working, so at 7:05, 7 days after their last loss, the 6'7" Sabathia will throw the game's first pitch, as the Yanks look for 7 in a row. And CC says "Don't you mess with me".

On the seventh hour,
of the seventh day,
of the seventh month,
seven doctors say:
"He born for good luck"
And that you'll see
I've got seven hundred dollars
Don't you mess with me

Hey - with seven hundred dollars you could get yourself a nice Legends Suite for tonight. Plenty of good seats available.

Better Off Without Him?

Since A-Rod has returned, the Yankees are 8-2 in the 10 games in which he has played. Prior to his return, the team was 13-15.

Mark Teixeira is 13-of-36 with five home runs, 13 RBI since his return. Prior to his return, he hit .198, with 5 homers and 15 RBI.

It is clear that the Yankees now have the best 3-4 combo in the Bigs.

So do you still think that we are better off without him?

The Jackson Report: 5/19/09

The heroics of Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner have been throughly enjoyable, but I think most (informed) Yankee fans are hoping that they are just stop-gaps. This is of course due to the presence of Austin Jackson at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. It's been a while since we checked in on the prized farmhand, so shall we?

Late last week he was moved up in the batting order from sixth to second. He was originally placed further down in the order to acclimate him to the AAA environment, but he has shown a consistent ability to get on base, although he hasn't shown the power he displayed at times in High-A and AA. He recently told Chad Jennings that he was working on trying to get base hits and avoid striking out, which begins to explain why he still hasn't gone yard in AAA. AJax seems to be succeding in one of those pursuits at least. 

Don't be surprised if the power comes around this summer.

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.