Sunday, June 6, 2010

Game 57: Sunday Street

Any hopes that the Yankees could have kept the momentum going from the Bronx through Toronto and connect the four sets against last place teams on either side of it have been dashed. The Yanks will take the field in Toronto this afternoon just hoping only to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Jays.

So far, the Blue Jays have put the two strengths that have carried them through the season on display in this series: power hitting and solid starting pitching. Jose Bautista, who came into the game tied for the league lead in homer runs, jacked two off A.J. Burnett Friday night and Edwin Encarnacion added a third. Vernon Wells and Alex Gonzalez both took Andy Pettitte deep on Saturday.

On the flip side, Brett Cecil and Rickey Romero each threw eight innings and allowed a combined three runs. Nick Swisher drove one in on a double play against Cecil, Derek Jeter hit a two run homer off of Romero, and that's it.

It depends on how you want to look at it, though. Perhaps Cecil and Romero were dealing. Maybe the Yanks were just terrible offensively. Or both.

On Friday, the Yanks mustered just eight baserunners in nine innings and plated only one of them. Yesterday, they scored two runs in 14 frames and put only 13 men on base. Mark Teixeira has been at the center of this futility, going 1-10 with with seven strikeouts, but is by no means alone in his awfulness. Robinson Cano is 0-10, Jorge Posada 1-9 and Curtis Granderson a combined 0-5 with 2 Ks. Aside from Jeter, Swisher has been the lone other bright spot with a double and four walks in ten plate appearances.

Saturday's game was especially tough since the Yanks had one run-scoring play in 14 innings and wasted a great start by Andy Pettitte (7.2 IP, 2ER) and some very solid work out of the bullpen by Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, David Robertson and Chan Ho Park.

But not Mariano Rivera, because Joe Girardi believed that the choice was between Rivera for two innings or not bringing him in at all. He chose the latter and the Yanks lost the game with their most deadly round still in the chamber. In his defense, he hasn't used Mo for more than three outs all year long and if the Yankees took the lead, Rivera didn't come back to nail it down and the Jays ended up winning, the ensuing media shitstorm would have dwarfed this one.

Today, the Yanks look to Javier Vazquez to salvage something out of this series. Javy obviously had a solid outing against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium, but unlike the O's, who are near the bottom of the league in most offensive categories, the Jays are near the top. They have expanded their lead in home runs this weekend, also have the most doubles and are third in OPS. I'm still concerned about Javy, but much less than I was before his last start. Not that it matters, means anything or least of all, has any predictive value.

The offense will get a crack at Brandon Morrow, who has an enticing ERA of 6.00 but a much less appealing FIP of 3.72. Morrow is striking out over ten batters per nine innings but is also walking more than five. He's had a couple excellent starts, including his last time out against the Rays, but is capable of being both extremely extremely wild and very hittable.

After what was easily their longest and certainly one of their toughest losses of the year, the Yanks look to avoid their first three game sweep of the season. The middle of the order - who have-combined to go two for twenty-four so far this series - step it up would be nice for starters. A solid effort from Vazquez would be a nice bonus. I don't think that's too much to ask.

I'll get a pair of dice that makes me seven all the time,
Gonna be livin' on chicken and wine,
I want caviar, four star and Johnny Walker Black,
Six pretty women in my gold Cadillac,
Gonna move where the livin' is sweet,
From Saturday alley up to Sunday street.
[Song Notes: Vocally, Dave Van Ronk isn't exactly polished (here's cover version for a point of comparison). He gets the job done and has unique delivery of what are some really good lyrics, but the vocal performance certainly isn't what makes this track. That would be the guitar; the elegant, folksy, bluesy fingerpicking arrangement that carries the tune.

Van Ronk, a Greenwich Village native, has a posthumously published memoir called The Mayor of McDougald Street, which my Mom assures me is excellent. The Mayor was quite the character. He was one of Bob Dylan's principal influences, never learned to drive and refused to leave the Village for any stretch of time and used to tote around a vintage stoneware bottle of Tullamore Dew.]

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner LF
Blue Jays:
Fred Lewis LF
Aaron Hill 2B
Adam Lind DH
Vernon Wells CF
Jose Bautista 3B
Alex Gonzalez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jeremy Reed RF
Jose Molina C

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