Sunday, May 24, 2009

More Melky Magic Not Quite Enough

When Melky Cabrera redirected a Brad Lidge fastball back up the middle to score Ramiro Pena and tie the game in the ninth inning, it seemed as though there was room for another walk-off this homestand. It was even more realistic of a possibility in the 10th inning, when Jeter and Damon were standing on first and second with no one out. 

Mark Teixeira came to the plate with two hits already, one of which was a broken bat home run. This was the first of it's kind I have seen; Teix was left holding just a shard of maple in his hand while the ball carried the wall and nearly into left field bleachers. 

There were warnings of a strong wind blowing out to left, but that's still a pretty super-human act. Unfortunately, that would be the last of his heroics for the day, as Clay Condrey got Teix to ground into a double play and effectively killed the threat in the 10th. Girardi neither double stole Jeter and Damon, nor started them on the 3-2 count, both of which would have likely kept the Yanks from suffering a inopportune twin killing.

Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 10th frame but was removed in favor of Brett Tomko in the 11th. Girardi was willing to use Mo for more than three outs even after the game turned into a blowout on Thursday night, but with the game on the line today, opted not to.

Tomko got two quick outs, but gave up a walk to Chase Utley what would turn out to be a game winning double to Carlos Ruiz. Despite only playing in two games this series, Ruiz reached base 9 times (6H, 3BB) and drove in three runs. He was also at the plate for both of Johnny Damon's ill fated attempts to score, in the first inning on Friday night, and during the third today.

That run would prove to be important as both starting pitchers held up their end of the bargain and made crossing the plate difficult. Hamels went 6 innings and surrendered 2ER while Sabathia lasted 8 but gave up 3. 

After the Phillies took the lead in the 11th, the Yanks went down quietly in the bottom half of the frame, and leveled their record in extra innings this year to 3-3. Had the Yanks managed to score first in extras, it would have been their 5th walk off win in the 10 game homestand, but as it stands, they went 8-2, and picked up 3.5 games in the standings. Despite losing all five games against the Red Sox this year, the Yanks trail them for the division lead by only one game. 

The Yankees embark on a seven game road trip tomorrow, which will take them through Cleveland via Texas. The Rangers are a surprising 26-17 while the Indians are a disappointing 17-28. The Bombers won't have to worry about any of those momentum-killing off days, as they only have one in their next 19 games (this Thursday), which includes series against the Red Sox and Mets.

Game 44: Aces High

It's a beautiful afternoon on a holiday weekend, but this game makes it pretty tempting to stay inside. Perhaps you have a screened-in porch you could watch it on? This afternoon will feature another lefty on lefty tilt, except this time it occurs at the top of the rotation. CC Sabathia will oppose Cole Hammels for the tenth and final game of the current homestand during which, the Yanks are 8-1 with four walkoffs. It has been a ravishing success so far, regardless of what happens this afternoon, but doesn't 9-1 just look so much better than 8-2? The Bombers are tied with the Red Sox and a half game behind the Jays. 

Like Sabathia, Hamels got off to a bit of a rough start, but his ERA has declined in every start since his first. Back on April 28th, Hamels rolled/twisted/sprained his ankle fielding a bunt against the Nationals. He didn't end up on the DL and only missed 10 days - essentially one start. Since his return, he has given up 5ER, 15H and 5BB, and in the process, lowering his ERA to 4.95.

The last three times CC Sabathia has taken the ball, he's averaged 8IP, 1ER, and 4H. If the Yanks didn't explode for 7 runs in the bottom of the 7th during his last start, he probably would have come back out for the 8th. He has struck out 20 and walked only 6, and hasn't needed more than 112 pitches in any game to do it. This is one of the stretches that the Yankees paid the big money for. If every one of your starters gave you eight innings of one run ball, you'd have a lot more nine game winning streaks. 

A-Rod is back at 3B today, as Nick Swisher rides the pine. After hitting .312 with a 159 OPS+ in April, Swish has plummeted back to earth (and possibly into the mantle), with an anemic .117 and 25 OPS+. He is slugging .233 this month. Ouch. Robby Cano, who is hitting .435 over the past week will bat 5th (behind A-Rod) today. 

Will it be a pitchers duel or a slugfest? If this song was a baseball game, the final score would be like 14-10.

Running, scrambling, flying,
Rolling, turning, diving, going in again,
Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die,
Run, live to fly, fly to live. 
Aces high.

Just A Little Brotherly Love

As numerous media outlets have mentioned, the Stadium and the city have played host to a huge number of Phillies fans this weekend. These two gentlemen were no doubt consoling each other in the Columbus Circle subway stop after the emotional letdown of the Yankees 3 run, 9th inning rally yesterday, courtesy of A-Rod's two run homer, capped off by Melky Cabrera's third walk-off hit of the year. Whatever eases the pain, guys. 

(They were actually in the middle of a highly amusing drunken scuffle)

The bleachers acted as Omaha Beach for this invasion, with an impossible-to-miss proportion of seats occupied by those wearing red caps and shirts. 

Interestingly, this gentleman was rocking a "Phillies '80" tee. 

I guess he has a flair for nostalgia, or perhaps it was just a discounted misprint of "Phillies '08"? 

Some Philly sports personalities were in the house as well. 

Michael Barkann, anchor of Philly's Comcast SportsNet, sideline reporter for the U.S. Open (tennis) and seven time Pennsylvania sportscaster of the year caught the game and hung around to chat with Cliff for a good ten minutes after graciously accepting one of the 150 or so high fives we handed out at the exit for Sec 111 . 

Most exciting homestand ever? Let's see what happens later today. 

Happy Belated Birthday, Freddy Sez

Fred Schuman turned 84 yesterday and the Yanks "pleased him", indeed. Happy birthday, Freddy, and many more.

If you haven't seen the mini-documentary No Mas put together on the man, the myth and the legend, take a look below. 

Freddy is like a elementary school teacher in the way that you only see him in one setting and can't possibly pitcure him outside of it. He's the guy with the sign, the spoon and the pan, but why does he do it? Where does he live? Is that his only jacket? It's a really cool glimpse behind the curtain and a humanizing portrayal of someone who is a minor character in many Yankees fans' lives. 


Lonn Trost Does Not Acknowledge The Third Ammendment

Notice the all of the white-covered Navy hats populating the Legends seats. Sam Borden acknowledged that the Yankees were giving these tickets away for Fleet Week from Thursday through today. I have absolutely no problem with the Yankees opening up these seats for members of the armed forces, children's hospitals, in exchange for donations to charity, to people who volunteer in their community, etc... I'm not asking for one. 

But that is the reason you shouldn't say something like "Well, if you purchase a suite, do you want somebody in your suite? If you purchase a home, do you want somebody in your home?", Lonn Trost. Of all the dumb shit that has been said about the Stadium, I think that quote really stands out like a sore middle finger. So now you are quartering soldiers in people's homes, Lonn? 

By trying to preserve those seats as exclusive and Legendary (TM), even when the Yankees are trying to do something good, they open themselves up for bad PR. If everyone in the Yanks' front office was like Felix Lopez, who has acknowledged that there are things wrong with the Stadium, I wouldn't take nearly as much perverse pleasure in pointing out when they are off-base.

The building itself is beautiful. The only things wrong with it are fixable - the ticket prices, the exclusionary policies, the on-field dimensions, (the urinal dividers). If you agree with this and you aren't already, start reading New Stadium Insider. Ross and the guys over there have done a great job of keeping the Yankees honest and actually trying to get them to change some of their flawed policies. It's a blog, so it doesn't get acknowledged nearly as much as it should, but NSI has certainly been the first to publicly point out many of the now-familiar gripes with the new joint.