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Monthly Archives: May 2004

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Yanks 5, Devil Rays 3

Serious

Last night Kevin Brown faced Tampa Bay for the fourth time this season. In his first three outings, Brown allowed one run over seven innings. Going into the eighth with a 5-0 lead, Brown had allowed just one hit. But Toby Hall hit a solo home run, then Brown allowed a walk and double and his night was over. Felix Heredia gave up a run-scoring single off the glove of Tony Clark–who has performed admirably in Jason Giambi’s absence–before Flash Gordon struck out Fred McGriff for the last out of the inning. It was a match-up that didn’t seem fair. Gordon threw two fastballs that McGriff couldn’t catch up to but fouled off. Then he threw a drop-curve ball and the Crime Dog swung about four feet over the pitch. Mariano Rivera came on for the save in the ninth as the Yanks held on for the win. They moved a half-a-game into first place after the Red Sox lost to the Mariners earlier in the day.

Considering how Brown was pitching, the game didn’t seem close at all. The Yanks hit three solo home runs (Bernie, Ruben, Enrique), and many of their outs came on exceedingly hard-hit balls. Tampa made a charge, but it was too little too late. I’ll be honest, I was dreaming about a one or two hit shut-out as the eighth inning began. As you can imagine, the self-loathing Mr. Brown wasn’t too pleased about his night ended. According to Newsday:

“If we had two runs and I gave up three, the perception is I didn’t do what I needed to do to win the game,” Brown said. “But because we had five runs, that’s a different situation. And perception is a tricky thing . . . I was what I was. It doesn’t change the way it was the first seven innings. And it doesn’t change what I was in the eighth inning.”

Jon Lieber is on the mound today against Carlos Zambrano as the Yankees go for the sweep.

In other Yankee news, the Times reports that Steve Karsay was impressive during an extended spring-training game in Florida. About a month ago I was under the impression that Karsay was done for the season. If he manages to come back and be effective, that would be an enormous boost for the Yankees’ bullpen.

Browsing the Sunday papers, here are a couple of links to feed your head:

Sam Borden has a nice piece on how Joe Torre deals with the New York media. Borden also speaks to Gary Sheffield, who feels that he’s being singled out by government officials with regards to the Balco case.

Gordon Edes, the top baseball man at the Boston Globe, answers fan mail today, including the possibility of Randy Johnson pitching in New York or Boston before the year is over (zilch).

Finally, Tom Boswell weighs in why Junior Griffey still matters.

Yanks 7, Devil Rays 5

I can’t think of a more depressing-looking ballpark in the American League than Tropicana Field in Tampa. Add to that the fact that the Devil Rays just aren’t a very good team and it’s hard to get juiced up for this series. Unless of course you are a Yankee fan. It’s probably tough for some of us too, but hey, a win is a win, and I’ll take it.

Javier Vazquez was good, if not sterling, and the Rays jumped on him for two runs in the first. Doug Waechter was decent for the first couple of innings, but when Ruben Sierra tied the game with a two-run blast, I thought Sweet Lou was going to hurt someone. When the inning was done, Piniella got in the face of his catcher Toby Hall. I guess Hall called for the wrong pitch in the wrong spot. The Yanks opened up their lead with four runs in the fifth, capped by a three-run blast off the bat of Gary Sheffield. Sheff only had one hit on the night, but continues to hit just about everything hard. (As does Hideki Matsui who had two hits and has quietly improved.)

Tampa Bay rallied against Vazquez and Paul Quantrill–who had another poor performance–and closed the Yankee lead to one run. But a solo home run by Derek Jeter gave the Yanks some breathing room, and Tony Clark made a nifty running catch in the ninth inning to help seal the victory.

The story of the night? Well, Mariano Rivera recorded the 300th save of his career, and Derek Jeter had three hits, and honestly is looking like the player we’ve been used to watching for the past eight years. If you had just watched the Yankees over the past week, you would have never thought that anything had been wrong with the Yankee captain.

Pedro Martinez wasn’t brilliant last night either, but he pitched well enough and Cookie Monster hit a grand slam as Boston beat the Mariners at Fenway Park. The Sox remain a half a game ahead of the Yanks. David Ortiz is the rebirth of Luis Tiant for the Sox. There was a touching moment in the clubhouse last night. According to the Globe:

And then there was the cardboard box sitting on a table in the locker room. It had a slot in the middle. Written on it in black letters was, “Please, any help you can donate to the people of my country — D.R. They got hit by the flood. Thank you, David Ortiz.”

It was after his second at-bat, in the fourth inning, when Ortiz, the designated hitter, walked back into the clubhouse after grounding out to third. He encountered Ellis Burks with his 9-year-old son, Christopher. Alan Embree had paid off an old bet to Burks with a pair of $50 bills. Burks handed the money to his son, who immediately dropped a fifty in the box.

“When I saw this I was ready to cry,” Ortiz said. “It made me feel great. To see a young kid do that. I got excited. My mind was different after that. That changed me.”

As much as I loath the Sox, it’s hard to resist some of the characters they’ve got up there like Cookie and the catcher…

Kevin Brown was back with the Yanks last night and will pitch today.

Yanks 18, O’s 5

Is it over yet? Good gosh. The Bronx Bombers made like the Gashouse Gorillas last night and had the conga line rolling as they creamolished the Orioles. Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui each had three hits, Tony Clark (who had three hits as well) and Enrique Wilson each collected 4 RBI, Alex Rodriguez hit a home run…well, you get the pernt. It wasn’t pretty for the home town team as New York compiled 21 hits in all. According to Tyler Kepner, “The Yankees have not scored more runs in a series in 53 years, since they dumped 42 runs on the St. Louis Browns from May 3-5, 1951.”

Jose Contreras worked out of jams in the first and fourth and allowed three runs in the third, on home runs to Miggy T and Raffie P. Sidney Ponson cruised for the first four innings and then got his tits lit in the fifth. By the time he was yanked, the Baltimore ace was smiling. I suppose he was laughing to keep from crying, but YES announcer called Ponson’s cavalier attitude “inexplicable and inexusable.” If I were an Oriole fan I would not have taken kindly to Ponson’s “Oh well” display either.

The A’s torched the Red Sox at Fenway Park, 15-2–Eric Chavez hit an absolute bomb to straight away center–reducing Boston’s lead over the Yanks to a half game.

Yanks 12, O’s 9

Stormin

It warn’t purty, but a win am a win. The Yankees survived an awful showing from their middle relief corps by crushing Baltimore’s relievers as the Yanks won their third straight. Baltimore jumped to an early 3-0 lead off of Mike Mussina, and the Yanks left the bases loaded in the first and runners on the corners in the third. Gary Sheffield walked in his first at bat and was robbed of two RBI in the third when Luis Matos made a fine running catch to end the inning. Sheff must have been wondering what he had to do to catch a break.

With the score 3-1 in the fifth, Derek Jeter collected his second hit of the night, a single to left, which scored Kenny Lofton. Before Rodrigo Lopez could throw a pitch to Alex Rodriguez the game was delayed for an hour and five minutes by more rain. When play resumed, Lopez was still pitching, though he hadn’t been especially sharp. But as the YES announcers noted, Lee Maz doesn’t exactly have sterling options in his bullpen. Rodriguez legged out an infield hit and then Gary Sheffield popped a hanging curve–or was it a slider?–deep into the left field seats. Tony Clark added a solo dinger in the sixth, Sheffield singled home Lofton, and the Yanks had a comfortable 7-3 lead.

But it didn’t last as Mussina, Paul Quantrill, Gabe White (Only Build 4 Cuban Linx himself), and everybody’s all American punching bag, Taynon Sturtze, coughed up the lead. Baltimore pounded Yankee pitching for seven hits and six runs in the inning and when it was all over led, 9-7. The less said about this ugly turn of events, the better.

Especially considering that the O’s weren’t out in front for long. In the seventh, southpaw Buddy Groom quickly got ahead of Godziller Matsui but then left a fastball up in the zone which was crushed into the right field bleachers for a homer. Yanks down by one. Ruben Sierra singled, and B.J. Ryan replaced Groom. After Tony Clark grounded out, Enrique Wilson singled home Sierra, and then Bernie Williams–pinch-hitting for Lofton–singled home Wilson to give the Yanks the lead for good. Derek Jeter fought off a nasty slider that was in on his hands, and blooped a lucky-ass double down the first base line. It was the cheap, fortunate kind of hit that Jeter has been searching for. Bernie advanced to third and Rodriguez was intentionally walked to load the bases. Sheffield fell behind in the count but then laced a single to right. Williams and Jeter scored, and Sheffield had his sixth RBI of the night. (Sheffield actually collected another hit–a single to center in the ninth–to cap off his most productive game in pinstripes.)

The score remained the same as Flash Gordon and Mariano Rivera effectively shut the Orioles down over the final three innings:

“It seemed like a hundred years before we got to them tonight, and it was almost tomorrow,” Manager Joe Torre said.

The game ended at the stroke of midnight.

The Bombers remain a game-and-a-half behind Boston who beat the A’s again at Fenway Park last night.

Jose Contreras will replace Kevin Brown tonight. Brown left the team to deal with some personal issues and will start against the D-Rays on Saturday. Contreras will face Sidney Ponson this evening.

Yankees 11, Orioles 3

Both Bernie Williams and Gary Sheffield hit the ball on the screws in the first inning last night, and neither had anything to show for it. After three quick, scoreless innings in Baltimore, a thunderstorm post-poned the game for over an hour. However, Yankee starter Jon Lieber picked up right where he left off when they started up again, and tossed another efficient game for New York. The Yankee bats (Clark, Posada, Matsui, Wilson) came to life and bombed the O’s for eleven runs. Alex Rodriguez delivered the crusher: a three-run blast to dead center.

Sooner or later, a group of Yankees will all get hot at the same time. Meanwhile, Bernie had some excellent swings with just one hit. Derek Jeter was robbed of a two-run double on a terrific play by Melvin Mora, but later hit an RBI double to right field. Jeter was 1-6 on the night and his batting average continued to drop. Gary Sheffield still hasn’t found his groove either. According to the Tyler Kepner in the New York Times:

“When I face tough pitchers, I’m at my best,” Sheffield said. “When you’re talking about kids you don’t know that aren’t all that difficult to face, that’s when I have my problems.”

…”I always have problems with the 4 and 5 starters,” Sheffield said. “The first three pitchers, I do my best against. My thing is, I like challenges. When I’m facing a guy I know shouldn’t get me out, those are the hardest guys to be patient with. I know it, they know it, and I pretty much go chasing. It’s my fault. It’s more me than them.”

There is merit to Sheffield’s claim, at least for this season. In 27 at-bats this year against Bartolo Col

At a Loss

Joe Sheehan, Gary Huckabay, Tim Marchman and Jay Jaffe all pay tribute to the late Doug Pappas, the terrific baseball mind who passed away last week. Sheehan observes:

It wasn’t just the caliber of his work, which of course was high. It was that he had the courage to stand up and say, “They’re lying. This is the truth,” and back it up with so much evidence that he could not be ignored. Doug had a permanent effect on the way baseball’s off-field issues are covered. He made it right–no, he made it mandatory–to question the claims of baseball’s authorities, and he did it in the face of opposition from some powerful people. When called on the carpet by Bud Selig, Doug calmly presented the facts and refused to be intimidated.

Marchman adds:

Pappas provided a moral context for journalists to follow, and was not shy about holding them to it. What he understood was that if baseball is really the American game, the way in which it is run and the way in which it is covered tell us a great deal about our national character.
Baseball deserves not to be treated as a mere diversion or pastime, but to be run in an honest and untainted fashion. When it is not, those of us in a position to explain how this is so have an obligation and responsibility to do so. Reminding us — writers and readers alike — of this was Doug Pappas’s legacy to the game, and it is as fine as any writer has left.

Amen.

Pitching In

Who has been the Yankees’ best starting pitcher so far? Head on over to “The Midnight Hour,” where Steve Bonner examines the evidence. Great job, Steve. Thanks.

I Gotta Be Me

While I was doing research on Curt Flood up at the Hall of Fame library last week, I took the opportunity to look up some of my favorite baseball writers. Pat Jordan, Lee Allen and Ed Linn were just a couple I had time to get to. In Roger Angell’s file, I found a lengthy interview that appeared in a literary publication called “Writing on the Edge.” Conducted in July of 1993 by Jared Haynes, Angell talked about writing and baseball of course. Here are some words of wisdom then from one of the true masters of baseball writing:

Good writing is based on clear thinking, which is the hardest thing we have to do. Itís as plain as that. Itís hard to start to write because what you have to do is start to think. And not just think with the easy, up front part of your brain but with the deeper, back parts of the unconscious. The unconscious comes into writing in a powerful way.

Yankees 8, Rangers 3

Javier Vasquez pitched a good game and got some much needed run support to boot. Enrique Wilson was the offensive hero of the afternoon for New York, as the Yankees avoided being swept by the Rangers. Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams both collected singles, but still look far from right at the plate. Gary Sheffield hit the ball hard several times, but went 0-4. However, Hideki Matsui collected three hits; Alex Rodriguez and Kenny Lofton each had two (Lofton left the game early due to a tight hamstring). The Rangers drew a record crowd for a three-game series over the weekend. Where have we heard that before? The Bombers are now 3-3 on their longest road trip of the season. After a day off today, next stop: Baltimore.

The Yanks remain a game-and-a-half behind the Red Sox, who swept the Blue Jays at Fenway Park over the weekend.

Thin Crop

Tyler Kepner profiles the Yankee farm system in the Times today. It’s nothing much we don’t already know. Witness:

“We’re not as strong as we’ve been in the past,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “But that’s because we’ve utilized the farm system to our advantage. Many of the big deals we’ve had the ability to do in my six years as general manager are because of the farm system.”

Oh, Yes

Nobody has ever pitched a no-hitter for the Mets. Tom Glavine came close yesterday, going 7 2/3 innings before allowing a hit. Still, it was a masterful performance. In all, a memorable day for Met fans.

Rangers 4, Yankees 3

Flushed Gordon

The Yankees pissed away a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning this afternoon–a missed call by the first base umpire Tony Randazzo and then some awful fielding by Tom Gordon was enough to do the trick–and the Rangers won the game on a walk-off homer in the ninth. In all, it was a painful loss for New York and a joyous one for the young Rangers. I’m too red-faced to write about it objectively right now, however the game did see some good starting pitching from both sides. Jose Contreras went six innings, allowed three hits, two walks, and struck out seven. The only run he allowed was a solo homer by Alfonso Soriano. (Bernie Williams and Tony Clark went deep for the Yanks.) One thing is for sure: it’s going to be a long night for Mr. Gordon.

The one silver lining for the Yankees is that almost all of the games they have lost over the past two or three weeks are games they have had a good chance of winning. They’ve been right there in all of ‘em. Unfortunately, this makes the losing sting just a bit more. Aww man, but they should have won. (Whatsa matter? Y’all ain’t got no sympathy for us Yankee fans?) Hopefully Javey Vasquez can help the Yanks salvage the last game of the series tomorrow afternoon before the Yanks return to the east coast.

Prince Pedro is on the mound for the Bostons tonight. Nertz.

Rangers 9, Yanks 6

Bomb Squad

It was a frustrating night in Arlington for the Bombers, as Kevin Brown couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead, and the Rangers stomped their way to a 9-6 win. Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano both had two hits but were overshadowed by David Dellucci, who had four hits, including a home run. The square-jawed Laynce Nix–hey Alex Ciepley, is that a name right out of gay porn or what?–hit two bombs. Actually, many of the Rangers are square-jawed young sluggers.

The Yanks made a frantic comeback in the ninth inning, but came up short with the tying runs on base. During the rally, Jason Giambi sprained his ankle running around first base. The x-rays were negative but it appears as if Giambi is headed for the DL for the first time in his career.

The Texas crowd booed Alex Rodriguez in his first at-bat, but they weren’t vicious. In fact, from what the YES cameras showed, many people were laughing as they were booing. For his part, Rodriguez shut them up with the quickness as he roped a 2-1 offering into the left field stands for a two-run homer. As he rounded the bases, many of the boos turned into cheers. Rodriguez was half-heartedly booed for the rest of the game, but it was nothing like he experienced when he first returned to Seattle in 2001.

The Yankees collected plenty of hits–Gary Sheffield and Jorge Posada each had three–but were unable to string together a rally until it was too late. Kevin Brown was lit up, and the newest Yankee Tanyon Sturtze was torched as well. It was Brown’s first defeat of the season.

So what happens when the Yanks lose? That’s right, the Sox win. Boston pounded the Jays last night in Boston and leap-frogged back into first by a half-a-game.

There wasn’t much pitching in Arlington last night and with Jose Contreras throwing for New York later today, the Yankees better hope they can score some runs. As hot as Texas is, this could get ugly.

Cooperstown Confidential

By Bruce Markusen

Regular Season Edition

May 20, 2004

Card Corner

Tommy Davis has always been one of my favorite players. In some ways, itís a strange association for me; I never saw him play during the prime years of his career, and for good reason

Yanks 6, Angels 2

Awww, Bacon

Derek Jeter lead off the game last night and blooped a single to center off of big Bartolo Colon. On television, you could see the Yankee dugout in the background when Jeter reached first. Though he was not in focus, Joe Torre was smiling. (A bloop, a bloop, my kingdom for a bloop.) Bernie Williams followed with a sharp single up the middle; Jeter moved to third and scored on Alex Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly.

Two innings later, Jeter smashed a solo homer off Colon. Later, Hideki Matsui added a two run homer, and Jorge Posada contributed a two-run double, which proved to be more than enough for Mike Mussina, who is regaining his form. (This was his fourth consecutive win.) The Yankees won another series, taking two of three from an injury-depleted Anahiem team. Next stop: Texas, where the boo-boids eagerly await the return of Alex Rodriguez. Jack Curry and John Harper anticipate Rodriguez’s arrival.

The Yanks budged back into first by a half-a-game as Derek Lowe and the Sox were pounded in Tampa by the Rays, 9-6.

Finally, as Mariano Rivera approaches his 300th career save, the Times, Post and Newsday offer puff pieces the Yankees’ great closer.

Yanks 4, Angels 2

I’m back at work today so I didn’t stay up and watch the game last night. Truth be told, I had a bad feeling on my way to the newsstand this morning, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Yanks defeated the Angels in another close game. Jon Lieber was economical again against an aggresive Anahiem team, and the Yankee offense was patient, drawing eleven walks. (Derek Jeter didn’t collect a hit but he did draw a bases-loaded walk which brought home the winning run) However, they didn’t capitalize on the free passes, scoring only four runs. It was enough though. Jason Giambi was back in the line up and he hit a two-run homer. Alex Rodriguez had a double and a triple, and Joe Torre was tossed for the first time this season, arguing balls and strikes in the sixth inning.

The Yanks remain a half-a-game behind the Red Sox who beat the Devil Rays, 4-1. Tampa Bay is the worst team in the league. According to the Boston Globe Sweet Lou isn’t thrilled and delighted at the state of affairs:

“I don’t read newspapers,” [Piniella] said. “There’s nothing for me to read newspapers about. I don’t know what was written, I don’t know what was said, I don’t have to address anything. All I know is I’m tired of losing. That I am tired of. Nothing more, nothing less. Just tired of the losing.”

It’s going to be an exhausting season down in Tampa.

Angels 1, Yanks Zilch

What a rude welcome home. 1-0. I sailed up to Cooperstown on Sunday afternoon and took in the Yankee game on the radio until I lost reception somewhere around Albany. It was a crisp game on a beautiful day, and the Yanks pulled it out, 2-1. About 20 miles outside of Coopertown, I passed a used bookstore on the side of the road. I couldn’t resist. A sign on the screen door said to be mindful of the cat. There were four older ladies in the store, kneeling on the floor, sifting through piles of murder-mystery paperbacks, yacking it up. They had a small selection of baseball books and dig this, I come away with a good paperback copy of “Joe, You Coulda Made Us Proud,” Joe Pepitone’s goombah tell-all; an excellent paperback copy of Roger Angell’s “Five Seaons,” and a good paperback edition of Craigh Wright and Tom House’s book, “The Diamond Appraised,” for $2.15. Good bless the sticks.

I had a productive time in Cooperstown; it was nice to be out of the city for a minute, and it sure is beautiful upstate New York. A tough return home though as the Yankees lost a close one last night in Anahiem. I knew that Javier Vasquez wasn’t going to get out-pitched by Aaron Sele again, and he wasn’t. But Sele was good enough and the Angels bullpen was terrific.

The Yanks had a chance to win the game in the ninth. Troy Percival hit Jorge Posada with a pitch that skipped inside. But did it really hit him? It was a close call and Scioscia came out to argue. Next Hideki Matsui hit a ball on the screws that smacked off Percival. Posada moved to second and Godzilla was thrown out at first. Two out and Bernie Williams smacked the first pitch he saw into right for a single. Posada is hauling ass around third, and he’s got some load to haul. Vlad Guerrero is like Clint Eastwood in right: doom. The throw is on-line but comes in on a few hops. Jose Molina blocks the plate nicely, Posada slides in ahead of the tag, but is called out.

The ump was behind Molina and didn’t have a good view of the plate. Anyhow, the Yanks didn’t get the call, and nobody on their bench put up any fuss. But after watching the replays there were a lot of unhappy campers up late in New York no matter if Posada was really hit with Percival’s pitch or not. The Bombers wasted a solid outing from Vasquez.

The offense couldn’t get going all night. (Kenny Lofton was inexplicably thrown out trying to steal third with Rodriguez up and one out in the eighth). The Angels pitched well, and eventually their offense caught up with Paul Quantrill. But Aaron Sele again? Okay, fine. He won’t get them a third time in a row, believe that. The Red Sox won and are back in first place by a half a game. (Boston doesn’t know when Nomar and Nixon will return. The Sox are still getting better production out of short than the Yankees are.)

Of course, it is easier to get over the loss simply because Randy Johnson’s perfect game was so winning. The smile on his face when he saw how his young catcher was freakin out, going nuts, after recording the final out, was priceless.

Oh and not for nothing, I sure do miss Soriano. Which is not to say that I wish the Yankees had him and not Alex Rodriguez. I’m happy with the trade and I love watching Rodriguez play. But I still miss Lil Sori. Jack Curry has a good piece on Soriano, who is doing just fine with Texas, in the Times today. I like the closing line: “The only bad moment I had,” Soriano said, “was when I heard the trade.”

Mariners 13, Yanks 7

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda

On an uncomfortably warm Saturday afternoon in the Bronx, the Yanks lost a game that they should have won. It was another long, sometimes tedious affair, but there was plenty of entertainment to be had. After coming back to tie the game, the Yankees had the bases loaded with one in the bottom of the ninth with Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi due up, but they did not score. In the bottom of the 12th, Rodriguez slid home with what would have been in the winning run, but he not been called out. It was a close play, and it appeared that Rodriguez got his foot in there before he was tagged.

But he didn’t get the call, and in the next inning, the Mariners roughed up Gabe White for six runs, and that was that

“We’re not going to go home with the ice cream cone all the time,” Yankees Manager Joe Torre said. (NY Times)

Seattle put an end to their six-game losing streak. It was disapointing that the Yankees lost, especially since they had a chance to win on a day that Donovan Osborne pitched. Still, even when they were trailing, it felt like they were ahead. The Yankees have some of their old swagger back. No matter how far they are down, you get the feeling that they think they’ll come back.

Donovan Osborne got into trouble in the second inning again. But instead of six runs, he just allowed four this time, only two earned. The second two runs came how when Alex Rodriguez booted a grounder. But he would make up for it with a two-run bomb to straight-away center in the third, and a solo homer (that barely made it over the wall) in the fifth. His second homer tied the game.

It was a tough day for Jamie Moyer who was getting killed by home plate ump Chris Guccione. Squeezed is an understatment, he was getting robbed. The ump was taking away all of Moyer’s weapons. It got so bad that Bob Melvin had to get himself kicked out of the game over it.

Seattle went up by three on a bases clearing double by Dan Wilson, but Hideki hit one off the facade of the Upper Deckie, then Bernie hit a solo shot to tie the game once again.

For sure I thought Rodriguez would come through in the ninth with the bases juiced and just one out. Here was his “defining” game as a Yankee, right? Made the error, made up for it with the two homers. Did I think he was going to hit a third? You betcha. But hey, even a sac fly would have done the trick. But reliever J.J. Putz–pronounced “puts”–got him to break his bat and pop up in the infield. To be fair to Rodriguez, Putz made a heck of a pitch, up and in. Giambi, who was 0-6, grounded out sharply to first to end the inning. Giambi didn’t look comfortable; his hip is bothering him. According to the Daily News:

Joe Torre described Giambi as doubtful for today’s game against the Mariners. Giambi, who was in obvious pain after the game, said he’d feel better with a day off, especially with an off-day coming up tomorrow. Giambi chastised himself for staying in the game after the initial spasms, saying, “I should’ve been smarter and come out. It was stupid. It kept getting worse. … It was hard to bend over and swinging didn’t help it. That wasn’t the smartest thing, either. Now I’ve got to get it to stop constricting. It’s not structural.”

Good job of pitching by Putz, but can we talk? Anyone who spells their name “Putz” but pronounces it “Puts” is a putz where I’m from.

My favorite moment of the game was when Gary Sheffield tatooied a home run to left field off of Jamie Moyer in the second. Sheff has been stinging the ball for weeks. Only trouble is, the majority of his hard-hit balls have been foul. But yesterday, he hit Moyer’s second-inning offering so hard the ball didn’t have time to go foul. I think it was ascared to go foul. It was a “We-Make-Holes-in-Teeth”, Cavity Creeps, “Hasan-Chop” blast, and it was worth yelling about. (I got up off the couch and stomped around the living room.) Evil Empire is right. When the Yankees are down, you can hear the Empirial March theme in your head as they send bruiser after bruiser to the plate. If nothing else, there is a lot of beef on the Yankees this year.

The Sox won and are back in first place. Kevin Brown pitches Sunday before the Yankees go on a four-town road trip starting Monday (Anahiem, Texas, Baltimore, Tampa Bay). I’m headed up to Cooperstown New York this afternoon to spend a couple of days in the research library for the Flood book I’ve been working on. I haven’t been to the Hall in over twenty years, so it should be a fine time. Anyhow, it’ll be good to just get in the car and get out of the city for a minute. I’ve got a stack of cds that I just burned, so I’m good to go.

I doubt that I’ll have access to the Internet–unless Bruce Markusen lends me his machine for 15 minutes tomorrow morning–but I’ll be back on Wednesday. In the meantime, check out all of the Yankee-related links listed to the right, and feel free to leave any comments or observations you might have while I’m gone in the “comments” section below.

Yanks 9, M’s 5

Walk on By

On the night that I became an uncle for the very first time–congrats to my bro and his wife and the newest Yankee fan in New York, Lucas William Belth–the Yanks beat the Mariners 9-5, in a long, sometimes painful affair at the Stadium. It remains humid in New York, and last night’s game was a deliberate and slow as the previous two games against the Angels were brisk, and quick. Though Mike Mussina was far from sharp, he hung around to earn the victory. Everything equals out in the end, right? For all those 2-1 gems that Mussina has lost, he’s entitled to win a stinker every once in a blue moon.

The Yankees offense wasn’t explosive, but they were patient, and the Mariner’s simply could not throw strikes, walking ten in all. (My man Bernie had two solid hits and a couple of RBI.) This was a brutal game to watch if you are a Seattle fan. I’m sure the Mariners can’t wait to get back to the ballpark this afternoon for some more of that cherce bp that Donovan Osborne served up last weekend.

Old man Moyer goes for Seattle. Anyhow, I’m giddy about being an uncle, and still reeling a bit from the Nets’ exciting triple overtime win against the Pistons. Veal Scalabrine

Yankees 7, Angels 4

“Bernie always starts off slow,” Jeter said. “I don’t really think it’s anything new. But he’s the type of hitter where if he gets hot, he can hit .450 for a month and people forget about what he did.” (New York Times)

Jon Lieber retired the first eleven Angels he faced yesterday before Jeff Devanon singled to right. (The Yanks already had a 3-0 lead, thanks in part to two RBI singles to left field by Jason Giambi.) Lieber’s next pitch was smacked to center by Vlad Guerrero and then Jose Guillen tagged an off-speed pitch that was high and over the plate over the right field fence to tie the game. (Jeez, when you are hot, you’re hot.) The rookie Casey Kotchman followed and nearly came out of his spikes he swung so hard at one offering. I thought Lieber might put one in his ear; instead, the threw a strike and Kotchman ripped a single passed Miguel Cairo into center field.

Then Lieber retired the next eleven batters before allowing a one-out double to Adam Kennedy in the eighth. Lieber finished the frame and left with a 6-3 lead. (The Yanks added a run in the bottom of the inning.) In the ninth, Tom Gordon walked the lead off hitter, recorded an out (Vladi), then allowed a single–to Guillen–who else?–before he was replaced by Mariano Rivera. Casey Kotchman singled in a run, then Jose Molina whiffed. Molina’s brother, Benji, walked to load the bases, but Rivera came back to K Shane Halter to give the Yanks the win.

Lieber was the story of the day, and so was Bernie Williams who had three hits, including a double and a home run. Funny what happens when your manager scolds you, especially in public. Torre and hitting coach, Don Mattingly, still have faith in Williams. Joel Sherman reports:

Torre is asked about the conventional wisdom, that there is nothing more difficult than to coach a star player beyond his prime.

“Except what makes that tough is that normally the player thinks he’s better than the manager thinks,” Torre said, delving into the fuzziness of Bernie World. “This is the other way around. This is unique in that regard.”

…Sentimentality is not permitted, and Mattingly and Torre claim they are seeing Williams with objective eyes.

“I like Bernie, period. Still, you have to separate that,” Mattingly said. “I know hitting. Joe knows hitting. You can see it [that Williams can still hit]. It’s there. We’ve told him, ‘You can still play, and we’re not lying.’ “

Mike Lupica adds:

Mattingly talked then about watching Williams grow up in baseball, the way Yankee fans have, talked about how Yankee fans who have been around – not the ones who decided they were madly in love with the Yankees in October of 1996 – root as hard for Bernie Williams as they do for anybody in the place.

“Bernie is theirs,” Mattingly said. “He did grow up in front of these people, from the bad time into the great times. You can hear it when he does something. They want him to keep going.”

It was a good win for the Yankees, particularly after they were embarrassed on Wednesday night. Jorge Posada appears to be fine–he’ll miss another couple of games–and harbors no ill-will toward Alfredo Amezaga or the Angels. The same cannot be said for the thin-skinned Jose Guillen, who had some cherce words for Paul Quantrill:

“Trust me, I’m not afraid of anyone,” said Guillen, who hit a three-run homer off Jon Lieber in the fourth yesterday. “You tell him that.

“I don’t give a [bleep] if he has 20 years in the [bleeping] big leagues. He can shove it up his [bleep].”

Quantrill dismissively said, “I don’t need a war of words with this guy. What’s his first name?

“The fact is, if he wants to stare and rant because someone pitches him in, he needs to grow up and learn the game . . . I guess I didn’t get the memo that you are not allowed to pitch Guillen in.”

Jack Curry correctly notes that a good little rivalry is brewing between the Angels and Yanks:

The Angels do not fear the Yankees and privately relished the idea that they helped create a tenser atmosphere at Yankee Stadium with their bruising victory Wednesday. The intensity is not within light-years of the intensity surrounding Yankees-Red Sox, but it is intensifying.

…What should concern the Yankees about this series is how comfortable the Angels were against Rivera. The Angels had four hits, including Bengie Molina’s two-run homer, and a walk in nine plate appearances. Rivera struck out three, but he looked mortal against a patient lineup, blowing one save and struggling to earn another.

Not to mention the fact that the Angels were playing without G. Anderson and Tim Salmon (Troy Glaus sat out yesterday too). The Angels, like the Red Sox, are a worthy rival; a well-rounded team with plenty of appealing personalities, as well as some guys who are oh so easy to root against. Oh yeah, they are good too. It should be interesting to see how things pan out next week in California.

Ruben Sierra had two hits, including a solo dinger, and Derek Jeter continues to look like his old self. He doubled down the third base line to lead off the game, and was robbed of another double by a Amezaga in his next at bat. Hideki Matsui homered and doubled halting a mini-slump, which made two of his biggest fans happy. The YES cameras were in love with an amusing Japanese couple that has been at each of the Angel games. The man, who looked to be in his 30s, wore glasses and a Godzilla hood over his head, as well as a pinstriped Matsui jersey. Dude had a Godzilla hand-puppet on his left hand and a held a Godzilla doll in his right hand. (His girl had wore a Matsui jersey too, and also rocked the hood and hand puppet as well.) Before each pitch he tapped the two dolls together, and for two games, he had nothing to show for it. But yesterday, he was as happy as you can imagine.

Alex Rodriguez continues to look impressive in the field, making a nice charging play on a bunt by Amezega in the third. The funniest moment in the game came in the eighth when Tony Clark scored from first on Matsui’s double to left. Clark started his head-first slide about half way between third and home. It was a ridiculously long slide and when Clark picked himself up, he raised his eyebrow—looking a lot like a young John Cryer–and offered a goofy smile to his teammates, who were already having a good laugh.

The Yanks moved into first by a half-game as the surging Blue Jays pounded Curt Schilling and the Red Sox in Toronto last night.

Why is it so hot?

I can’t watch the game this afternoon, but I sure hope the Yanks can rebound from last night’s loss. John Lackey goes against Jon Lieber uptown in the Bronx, where it is hot and sticky. Anyone watching who wants to leave their impressions or who have some cherce comments, feel free to chime in. Thanks.

Angels 11, Yanks 2

This will not stand. This aggression will not stand.

The Temperature is Rising

Remember at the start of the season how I wondered if and when the Yankees would get into a brawl this year? Well, I thought it might go down last night. It didn’t, but the Angels are a team that would have made Leo Durocher proud. They are aggresive and fiesty and they certainly aren’t intimidated by the Big Bad Yankees. Anahiem blew the doors off of a close, quickly played game in the eighth inning last night, and when it was all over there was plenty of hard feelings for the New Yorkers. I know I was simmering, and I’m not too much happier the morning after. (Aaron Sele. I hope you are happy Alex Ciepley.)

In the second inning, Jorge Posada was hit in the face by a side-armed throw from rookie shortstop Alfredo Amezaga. Posada was trying to break up a double play, and slide toward Amezaga and not the bag. The ball actually hit his hand or chest first, but it was a violent play. While the Yankees didn’t think it was dirty, they didn’t feel it was necessary either. According to the Times:

“It was a simple double play, and I thought he could have just gone over the top and gotten the double play without doing that,” Torre said of Amezaga’s throwing style. “I’m not saying he wanted to hurt him, but I didn’t think it was necessary to do that.”

…Amezaga said he spoke with Yankees designated hitter Bernie Williams and third base coach Luis Sojo about Posada’s condition. Told it was serious, Amezaga was distressed.

“Bernie said that he was going to be out for a while,” Amezaga said. “After hearing that, it comes to your mind, ‘What have I done?’ It’s part of baseball, I wasn’t trying to hit him, and this was the first time it’s happened to me. It would be good to call him, and I will see how he’s doing.”

Yankees reliever Paul Quantrill, who saw the play from the bullpen and later gave up three runs in the Angels’ five-run eighth inning, did not understand why Amezaga threw it the way he did.

“I don’t know why the kid had to get down that low,” Quantrill said. “Last I remember, Jorge wasn’t a world-class sprinter. He wasn’t even that close to the bag. From the bullpen, it looked like Jorge was trying to get down. I don’t know if he would have even reached the bag.”

The next contentious moment came in the bottom of the fifth when Alex Rodriguez came to bat. Angels catcher Benji Molina had some stern words for Rodriguez concerning Molina’s fourth inning ground out to third. On that play, Rodriguez took about ten steps toward first before getting rid of the ball. Rodriguez was practically at the pitcher’s mound. He could have run the ball to first and still beaten Molina to the bag. After the play, Jeter was in stiches on the field. It’s one of the reasons Jeter is so likable. His laughter in the course of competition is genuine and easy. Rodriguez smiled too.

But Molina didn’t appreciate it one bit. Maybe he thought that Rodriguez was trying to show him up. I don’t think that was the case–Rodriguez just stuttered with his feet trying to gain his footing–but I don’t blame Molina for being sore. So what happens the next time Molina comes to the plate? He grounds out softly, very softly to third. Most big leaguers would have made the play close, if not beat the throw, but you can time Molina with a calendar, and he was thrown out easily. It was as if there was some cruel joke being played on him.

Jaiver Vasquez allowed a two-run homer to Jose Guillen in the first and later gave up a solo shot to Adam Kennedy. He wasn’t especially sharp again, but he settled down and pitched into the eighth. What was especially agonizing for this Yankee fan was watching wack-ass Aaron Sele (who is 5-15 lifetime against New York including the playoffs) pitching well.

The Angels added a fourth run off of Vasquez in the eighth, and Javey was fuming as he left the game. Paul Quantrill came in and intentionally walked Vlad. The 2-0 pitch was up to Jose Guillen, who did his best Manny Ramirez whip around like it was close to hitting him. Guillen, the pretty-faced slugger, glared at Quantrill and started flapping his yap. “Lighten up Francis,” I yelled from my couch. “Why in the hell is Quantrill going to hit you with two men on in a close game, you mo-mo?”

“With his 20 years in the league, I guess he didn’t like that,” Quantrill said of Guillen, an eight-year veteran. “So he decided he wanted to stare at me for a while. I told him if he wanted to come out to the mound to discuss it, he should.”

The Angels put on the double steal on the next play, and Guillen was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Everyone came home on Casey Kotchman’s double to the left field gap. The Angels were now up, 8-2.

(The fat joke continued as Benji Molina followed by tapping out weakly to Rodriguez at third.)
In the bottom of the inning, Scott Shields struck Derek Jeter out looking to start the frame. Jeter, who had two hits on the night, was not happy and starting woofing at the home plate ump Larry Poncino from the dugout. You could read his lips saying, “Bear down, the game’s not over yet.” I thought Jeter was going to get tossed. (Has he ever been thrown out of a game?) He didn’t and Shields got squeezed on a couple of pitches to Rodriguez who would reach on an error, and was straight-out robbed on a 1-2 pitch to Giambi. Shields almost popped out of his uniform. Giambi flew out to the wall in left field.

The Angels didn’t relent in the ninth, stealing bases and taking advantage of lazy fielding by the Yanks. Jose Guillen hit a double off the center field wall, and Cadillaced his way around first. Who does this guy think he is, Alfonso Soriano? He scored on a mental error by Jason Giambi. In the bottom of the ninth, Bernie Williams–who had a double on the night–reached on an error in the ninth, but he didn’t run the ball out either and instead of standing on second, he was stuck at first. Piteful Bernie, piteful.

In all, what started as a crisp, efficient game turned into a laughter for the Angels and a humilating loss for the Yankees. For Yankee fans it brought back memories of the 2002 playoffs. What’s worse, this Angel team looks to be better than the 2002 edition. I thought the two teams might actually throw down last night. They play the rubber game of the series this afternoon. John Lieber is pitching for the Yanks. He throws strikes and the Angels aren’t shy about swining the bat. It could be a long afternoon. It is going to be very hot and uncomfortable in the Bronx today. It will fell worse if the Angels stick it to the Yanks again.

The only silver lining last night was that the Sox lost to the Indians again.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver