"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

With a Little Bit O Luck

It looked good early on for the Yankees today; Randy Johnson was throwing the ball well again. And after five straight fastballs, Derek Jeter slapped a breaking ball from Chris Bootcheck into right field in the bottom of the first. I just had a feeling that the Yankees would have a good day. They wiykd hit the ball hard off of Bootcheck, but couldn’t get a big, clutch hit off of him. Chone Figgins made a wonderful diving catch in the bottom of the second to rob Bernie Williams of an RBI extra-base hit, Hideki Matsui was also robbed of an RBI single in the fourth by Orlando Cabrera, and Garet Andreson made a nice running catch to snag a double from Alex Rodriguez (who scorched the ball) in the sixth.

Meanwhile, Johnson wasn’t really as sharp as he had been against the Twins. He labored in the fourth inning, distracted by Cabrera who had singled and stolen his second base of the afternoon. Johnson fanned both Vlad Guerrero and Anderson but then walked Juan Rivera and fell behind Benji Molina 2-0. Molina fouled two pitches off, getting good hacks at both of them, before Johnson left a fastball over the plate. Molina deposited it over the left field wall for a three-run homer. Jose Molina led-off the fifth with a solo dinger of his own (flat slider) and the Yanks were behind the Angels yet again.


Jason Giambi hit two solo homers, both line drives into the right field seats, to continue his hot hitting. The Angels went ahead 6-2 in the top of the eighth but then the Yanks rallied against Brenden Donnelly and Scot Shields to tie the game. Shields, like Rodriguez yesterday, was gassed. His control was awful. But the biggest play of the inning came when Daren Erstad–a defensive replacement–let a sure-fire double play zip through the wickets.

Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and allowed a two-out bloop single to Erstad but then got Kennedy swinging to end the inning. Joel Peralta relieved Shields and pitched well. Rodriguez reached on a throwing error by Kennedy and Giambi worked a two out walked. Then Andy Phillips came to bat. Peralta throws an excellent breaking ball you figured that was all Phillips–a dead-red fastball hitter–was going to see. Sure enough he saw four of ‘em. The last one he slapped down the third base line. It looked as if it would head to the corner for a game-winning hit. But Maicer Izturis made a gorgeous diving stop, picked himself up and gunned Phillips out at first.

Chone Figggins who has been a constant thorn in the Yankees’ side lofted a 1-2 pitch from Rivera to lead off the tenth for a double. But the ball bounced around in the corner, got away from Sheffield and Figgins hustled into third (it was scored a triple). Rivera brushed Cabrera back with the first pitch. Cabrera leaned back and dropped the bat, a dramatic touch. He then lined a shot to right. But Andy Phillips jumped high in the air and snagged it for the first out of the inning.

Rivera threw two pitches up-and-in to Vlad and fell behind the Angels’ slugger 3-0. It looked as if he would walk but Vlad slapped the next pitch, up-and-over-the-plate but not high enough, behind second base for a single to center. He was doubled off first on Anderson’s line out, but the Angels had the lead.

The Yanks had runners on the corners in the bottom of the inning with two out and Sheffield at the plate. (Bernie Williams led-off the inning with a single off of Kennedy’s glove, and he hustled into second as Figgins was late getting to the ball; Tony Womack came in to pinch-run.) Previously, Cano had whiffed, the fourth time he made an out with two runners on in the game. Sheff tapped a ground ball to short which inexplicably took a bad hop on Cabrera allowing the tying run to score. A freak play if you have ever seen one, it was scored a single. The Angels made a few fantastic plays and several horrible ones as well, but this could hardly be blamed on Cabrera. However, Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the inning and the game moved on.

Flash Gordon pitched a one-two-three eleventh aided by a slick play from Cano at second. Cano made a few difficult plays look easy. He sure is smooth out there. Godzilla Matsui fell behind Gregg 1-2, got a great swing on a fastball and fouled it off. He barely stayed alive on a foul tip dropped by Molina, before lininga triple off the center field wall. The Angels intentionally walked Giambi and brought five men to the infield. Andy Phillips saw nothing but fastballs from Gregg and went down swining. Womack was next and the Angels pitched out, anticipating the squeeze, three times. Finally, on the 3-2 pitch, Womack grounded a single a few feet to Cabrera’s left for the game winner. Yanks 8, Angels 7.

Phew. How ’bout that? In a see-saw game that featured some maddening ball-and-strike calls from home plate ump Gary Darling, the Yankees held on and finally beat off an exhausted Angels team. The Bombers remain two-and-a-half behind Boston who won again this afternoon at Fenway.

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24 comments

1 Alex Belth   ~  Jul 31, 2005 2:55 pm

1.  Kay is still steamed at O'Neill. He said something about, "I still haven't forgotten what you said on Tuesday," in the broadcast today.

Touch-ee.

Great win for the Yanks. Lots of yelling and screaming at my place this afternoon, none louder than when Torre had Posada trying to bunt in the 10th. I thought of all the readers here who love to gripe about Torre's moves. When Posada squared around to bunt I yelled "Nooooo" ala Luke Skywalker.

Dopey play. Still, the end result is fine as wine, especially considering the fact that the Sox won again.

2 singledd   ~  Jul 31, 2005 3:04 pm

2.  AB's per HR
Manny 12.6
Jason 13.4
A-Rod 13.8
Teixeira 15.2

Giambi leads the league in OBP, 3rd in OPS at .993 - .002 points behind T. Hafner.

3 JVarghese81   ~  Jul 31, 2005 3:33 pm

3.  http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2120931

Groom's parting shots at Torre are pretty interesting - they echo what a good amount of people have mentioned on this site. I mean Groom is saying this in anger but hey, there is truth to what he says.

4 Chucksax   ~  Jul 31, 2005 3:57 pm

4.  Just because Groom was angry does not mean he's correct! Torre has not juggled the bullpen well. He panicks when runners get on base against anyone; the offending pitcher then starts to pitch once every ten days or so, and that doesn't help.

What did O'Neill say that pissed Kay off?

5 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 31, 2005 4:42 pm

5.  Alex posted the O'Neill/Kay bit a few days ago. It goes like this:

(Incidentally, Paul O'Neill continues to bust Michael Kay's chops. Early in the game he was ragging on Kay for being such a big star now. He asked Kay if he had his own clothing line yet. O'Neill went further and said it would probably be a line for oversized men. Kay was clearly offended and after O'Neill apologized an uncomfortable silence hung in the booth for the next two pitches.)

6 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 31, 2005 4:56 pm

6.  Two good wins, but the pitching situation still remains.

This stretch is beginning to resemble our first big run of the season when Tino carried us with his home run barrage.

This time it's Giambi, but unlike Tino does anyone doubt that this is the Return of the Giambino?

14 home runs in July is AWESOME....meaning it inspires awe, not a Spicoli-ism. His surge has covered up the weaknesses at the bottom of the lineup (Posada, Tino, Bernie, Crosby) and has put the fear back into the second half of the everyday playing rotaion.

Think about this for a moment. In May he had 3 homers and 6 RBIs on the season. He was hitting around the Mendoza line, and now, two months later, he is near .290 with 19 home runs. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he continues some type of hit hitting for the remaining 2 months. Is it a stretch to think he could finish with:

.305BA 40HR 90RBI 102BB

After 2+ seasons of gutter baseball, to be in a position to end with these numbers is amazing. Of course he has to hit around .333 and average 10.5 HRs per month to get to these numbers, but given his history and the way he's been swinging the bat, it's in the ballpark.

Amazing.

7 rilkefan   ~  Jul 31, 2005 5:11 pm

7.  I'm thinking fewer HRs, rather more walks, unless Torre switches him in the order with Cano.

8 Schteeve   ~  Jul 31, 2005 5:13 pm

8.  Mikeplugh, Giambi only had one really bad season, last year, the year before his OPS was more than .900. Not gutter baseball.

That said it is good to see him back.

9 Shaun P   ~  Jul 31, 2005 5:52 pm

9.  I don't know how that ball bounced off Cabrera's glove, but I'm sure glad it did!

On Giambi, I'm very glad he's been hitting so well. I mean shoot, he's our SIXTH place hitter. We might just slug our way to the title. =)

I think we can all safely presume Giambi's off any kind of performance-enhancing juice, right? Where's a story about how his great numbers in 1999-2003 maybe weren't all steriods, and he had a good enough amount of talent. His current production sure suggests that he had the talent, and it wasn't just the juice. Of course, such a story wouldn't fit the pre-approved storyline, but I digress.

10 Marcus   ~  Jul 31, 2005 5:54 pm

10.  This point has already been proven, but if you look at Giambi's at bats just in July, he's hitting a home run every 5.43 ABs. That's just nuts.

Also, a couple of trivia tid-bits from rotoworld.com:

"Jason Giambi hit his 299th and 300th career home runs today against the Angels.
It's unlikely that either traveled more than 350 feet, but he's been hitting his homers to the right spots all month. Giambi also walked three times (once intentionally) in his six plate appearances. Giambi hit 14 homers this month. The previous Yankee to hit 14 homers in a month was Mickey Mantle in July 1961."

Today kind of (ok it's a stretch) reminded me of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS when no one on the Yankees could get the offense going except Giambi with his 2 HRs off Pedro. Of course, today it was against Bootcheck (hell of a name, btw), but he kept them in it through all those rally-killing defensive plays.

You know for all the talk of the Ortiz-Manny two-headed monster, the Sheffield-Rodriguez-Matsui-Giambi gauntlet has got to be frightening to opposing pitchers.

11 sam2175   ~  Jul 31, 2005 7:13 pm

11.  Alex, I guess you are confusing between Peralta's, the Angel guy is Joel Peralta, and Jhonny Peralta (terminally misspelled as written earlier by Cliff?) plays for Indians.

Anyway, great commentary on a great win.

12 Clay Caviness   ~  Jul 31, 2005 8:06 pm

12.  I was at the game, and I'm not sure if the highlight shows mentioned this, but after Figgins made that fantastic catch the crowd (including my wife and I) went, "Awwww!" then paused and gave him a standing ovation as he went off the field.

13 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 31, 2005 8:19 pm

13.  Scteeve-

"Mikeplugh, Giambi only had one really bad season, last year, the year before his OPS was more than .900. Not gutter baseball."

Yes, you are right. 2003 wasn't exactly gutter baseball, but when compared to his past performance that season was a disappointment. He hit .250 with only 134 hits, 282 TB, 97 runs, and a whopping 140 stike outs. Those totals were his lowest since around 1997-1998 and even then his production was more consistent.

I think my comment was based in some measure on the poor performance he seemed to put up towards crunch time at the end of that year and into the season last year. In August 2003 he hit .205 and followed that up with a .235 in September/October. Post-All Star Break he was in a free fall and I think we saw early signs of the illnesses he exhibited all last season.

I told my wife at the All-Star Break that year that I thought he was getting off steroids. When the rumors started flying about steroids in baseball, especially the Ken Caminiti thing, I immediately thought of Jason. When he started to break down physically and his production went south (for him) I began to suspect that he saw the winds-a-blowin' and decided to get off the juice before he got caught. When he showed up at camp last year thin and weak (again, for him) I felt strongly that I was right.

It seems as though his strategy has paid off. By getting off the juice early enough, he has spent the better part of 2 years rebuilding his career and surviving the short term withdrawl his body has put him through.

Bonds seems to be experiencing it with his whole "knee" fiasco.

I am happy for Jason that he's back on track and he certainly deserves credit for getting back on track with his life, and working hard enough to come back all the way. Hope it continues.

14 JohnnyC   ~  Jul 31, 2005 8:51 pm

14.  Mike, not that I would put it past him but are you suggesting that Bonds is using the "knee" fiasco as a cover for his "withdrawal" from steroids?

15 JeremyM   ~  Jul 31, 2005 9:15 pm

15.  I don't know if Mike is, but I sure am thinking that about Bonds.

16 mikeplugh   ~  Jul 31, 2005 11:20 pm

16.  I'm not suggesting that Bonds is using it as a coverup. I'm suggesting that the whole lingering knee thing is a result of his body breaking down after years of steroid use and the subsequent withdrawl.

When you stop using steroids you lose body mass and the organs, muscles, and tissue that has been enhanced by the chemicals begin to break down. Only lenghty rehab will get you back from the destructive breakdown associated with "getting off the juice" and I think Bonds injury is compounded by his body's struggle without the chemicals that sustained him.

Just a theory.

17 joe in boston   ~  Aug 1, 2005 6:22 am

17.  Two quick comments:

Those Angel errors certainly saved the day for us, but what also mattered is that the Yankees at bat during that time ran HARD to first.

If you were teaching your kid about baseball, who would you talk about....Manny or Jeter ?! I thought so.

18 earl   ~  Aug 1, 2005 8:16 am

18.  Everyone's talking about how Giambi is off steroids, and that Bonds is on his way. How does anyone know?!? The testing, as it stands now, is a joke, with common drugs like HGH not even tested for. And there is no "generic steroid test" -- if a lab comes up with a new steroid, it'll take months, if not years, for the IOC/MLB/NFL to (a) find out about it and (b) have a test ready to go.

19 Rich Lederer   ~  Aug 1, 2005 8:59 am

19.  After seeing that the scorekeeper ruled Sheffield's easy groundball to Cabrera a base hit, I can now better understand why Gary has the following splits:

HOME: .322 AVG / .971 OPS
AWAY: .274 AVG / .856 OPS

I thought Yankee Stadium was tough on RHB. Hmmm. Guess it depends on the scorekeeper.

20 Clay Caviness   ~  Aug 1, 2005 9:05 am

20.  I don't think Sheffield's got more than one or two of those home-cooked "hits". Certainly not enough to make up the big OPS difference.

21 jedi   ~  Aug 1, 2005 9:33 am

21.  Wait a minute...maybe Jose isn't a liar after all.

from http://www.cnnsi.com:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/baseball/mlb/08/01/steroids.suspension/

NEW YORK (SI.com) -- Rafael Palmeiro, who last month became the fourth member of baseball's 3,000-hit, 500-home run club, tested positive for steroids, SI.com's Tom Verducci has confirmed.

The penalty for a first offense under baseball's drug-testing plan is a 10-day suspension. Palmeiro made headlines earlier this year when he vehemently denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs during a congressional hearing on steroid use in baseball.

The Orioles will make an announcement at 1:30 p.m. More details are forthcoming.

The giambi accusations that he is back on 'roids have just become ten times more magnified right now. Damn.

22 brockdc   ~  Aug 1, 2005 10:04 am

22.  Earl,

Good point. We're all jumping to conclusions based on the hope that Giambi has cleaned himself up. I know this is going to sound cynical as hell, but Giambi seems physically bigger than ever. Is it possible, after a year of breaking down physically - and being vilified by many fans and media outlets, that he turned to HGH to galvanize his flagging career?

Again, a very cynical point, I know. But it all just seems very strange to me.

23 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 1, 2005 10:44 am

23.  brokdc,
You might sound cynical but these are cynical times and we come by our cynicism naturally and not without some degree of merit.

24 sam2175   ~  Aug 1, 2005 2:24 pm

24.  brockdc,

I think the main thing is Giambi had a benign tumor on his pituitary gland, the same one that naturally produces HGH. And quite possibly, it was a direct consequence of his using HGH as a performance enhancer. I cannot see how any sane person, who almost had cancer, would do anything to aggravate the same gland again.

And secondly, he is subjected to same testing policies of the MLB as anyone else. I dont really see him doing anything like that. I really do not believe steroids work like magic to shore up performances, if they did, every single player would use them.

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