"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

A Small Favor

Mike Mussina avoided his fifth inning struggles last night by getting himself pulled from the game in the fourth, but Aaron Small pitched four innings of one-hit ball in relief and Jason Giambi hit another pair of homers to give the Yankees a lead and, eventually, a win to open their series against the Mariners.

After the game, Mussina said that in the fifth inning of his last start and throughout this game he was having trouble throwing strikes and hinted that he’s going through a dead-arm period. Indeed, Mussina had nothing last night, as was clear from his first two pitches to Ichiro Suzuki. The first was a ball. The second landed in the right-field seats for a lead-off home run. Moose then went full on Willie Bloomquist before getting him to ground out. Raul Ibanez followed by creaming a pitch to deep right center, but got himself thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple (Bernie to Cano to Rodriguez). Richie Sexson followed by scorching a ball into Cano’s glove for the third out.

All Moose yielded in the second was a one-out Greg Dobbs double, making it his best inning of the night. In the third, a pair of singles by Miguel Ojeda and Ichiro! were followed by a Bloomquist sac bunt and four-pitch walks to Ibanez and Sexson, the latter forcing in the Mariners’ second run. Moose then threw ball one to both of the next two batters but got Adrian Beltre to pop out on a fastball down the middle and Dobbs to fly out to deep left.

Then came the fourth, which Moose started with a five-pitch walk to Yuniesky Betancourt. Mussina then fell behind 3-0 on Jeremy Reed, who, after a called strike, caught Alex Rodriguez off guard with a bunt to third that Rodriguez was unable to pick out of the grass. Moose then walked Ojeda after getting ahead of him 1-2, the final pitch being a breaking ball that was nowhere near the strike zone. That was all Joe Torre had to see, as he wisely pulled Mussina before he could do any further damage.

Brought into an ugly bases-loaded, no-outs situation, Aaron Small induced a pair of double play balls to second from Suzuki and Bloomquist, but Ichiro was able to beat out the first and first base ump Tim Tschida blew the call on Bloomquist, so Small only got two outs to show for it as the Mariners increased their lead to 4-0. Small then walked Ibanez, but got Sexson to fly out for the final out of the inning.

As all of this was going on, the Yankees were scuffling against Ryan Franklin. The second was the only inning among the first four in which the Yankees got a runner on base, as Alex Rodriguez lead off with an infield single and was followed by a Giambi walk. They then promptly ran themselves into a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play with Bernie Williams swinging through a pitch and Alex Rodriguez getting thrown out by several feet at third on a failed hit and run.

After Small came in to clean-up Mussina’s mess, however, things turned around. Jason Giambi led off the fifth with a mammoth homer off the restaurant in right field (just below the neon “Hit It Here” target). Then, after the Yankees ran into another double play via the hit and run (this time with Bernie on the bases and Lawton at the plate), Posada doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and was singled home by Cano to cut the Mariner lead in half.

In the sixth, after a first-pitch Matsui groundout, Sheffield and Rodriguez walked (the former on four pitches), driving Franklin from the game at 93 pitches. Mike Hargrove then called on lefty Matt Thornton, who went to 1-1 on Giambi before Jason crushed yet another home run, his fourth in the last two games, this one a three-run job that gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.

Small cruised through the fifth, sixth and seventh, scattering a Greg Dobbs double and two more walks, and in the top of the eighth Alex Rodriguez and Matt Lawton added solo homers to cushion the Yankee lead. Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera finished it off with perfect eighth and ninth innings.

In my opinion, the story of the game was Aaron Small, who picked up the win and is now 5-0 with a 3.03 ERA as a Yankee, but the story of the past two games has clearly been Jason Giambi. Giambi now has four homers and eleven RBIs over his last two games after hitting just two taters and driving in just seven runs in the previous twenty-five games in August.

According to Giambi, the difference in the past two games has been a cortisone injection he got last week to relieve the pain from tendonitis in his left elbow, which makes more sense than pointing to the fact that the acquisition of Matt Lawton has pushed him back into the field (though I suspect the latter hasn’t hurt his focus at the plate as the association between Giambi’s success at the plate and playing time at first base is downright eerie).

Giambi’s comeback this season continues to astound as he has set personal bests for homers in a single month (14 in July) and multi-homer games (now seven). The latter total accounts for more than 23 percent of his career multi-homer games (now 30), which is stunning considering the fact that Giambi had 281 career homers entering this season and was the best hitter in the American League, if not the majors, for several seasons around the turn of the millennium.

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:01 am

1.  Ah, another good win. One thing to be aware of is Alex Rodriguez, who strained his groin in the fourth inning fielding a bunt. He was removed in the ninth inning but doesn't expect to miss any time. He's in such a good groove now it would be awful if he went down for any amount of time. http://community.webshots.com/album/

Mark Bellhorn, the high-walk, high-whiff specialist, who became the whipping boy for the Boston fans this year, will sign with the Yankees today. http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20050829&content_id=1188893&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy

Finally, according to the Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/sports/baseball/30pins.html):

"The right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is also in Columbus, working his way back from a right shoulder injury. He started Monday night, going three innings and allowing two hits and one run. Joe Torre said he would need at least one more outing before he returned."

2 Dan M   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:05 am

2.  Perhaps someone mentioned this last night, but maybe Torre's decision to pull Small from the rotation and use him as the long man was such a bad decision after all (and I admit that I hammered that decision at the time).

Hopefully Bellhorn will be used solely to give A-Rod and Cano some rest down the stretch, and then cut loose should the Yanks play in October.

3 Dan M   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:06 am

3.  Dang, that should be "...was NOT such a bad decision..." Sorry.

4 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:23 am

4.  Hmmmmm.....Mark Bellhorn. It's wrong on so many levels.

1. He was born in 1974 in BOSTON.
2. He played on the 2004 WS Champ RED SOX.
3. He has a shabby beard and shaggy hair.
4. He strikes out 1 out of every 3 ABs.
5. He has a career .242 average.
6. He's a shaky fielder.
7. He was born in 1974 in BOSTON.
8. He played on the 2004 WS Champ RED SOX.

Had to repeat the 1st two at the end to highlight the importance of those points.

On the plus side he has a great OBP which should help the guys at the top of the lineup knock in a few extra runs. Uh....and that's about the only nice thing I have to say about him. He may contribute, but I won't enjoy it.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:33 am

5.  Bellhorn, Womack, Bellhorn, Womack.

6 bp1   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:39 am

6.  Womack.

Good Lord. Who's next? Millar? Damon? Geez. If these Yankees get much more red, it's - well - it's not good.


7 rbj   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:53 am

7.  So what's it going to be, swap the entire teams?
Nice to see Giambi back in form.

8 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:55 am

8.  I was cynical in my 1st post. It could be that Bellhorn kicks ass as a part time player, and gets a few big hits for us. That's looking on the bright side. I WILL look on the bright side for now.

As I said before though....I won't enjoy it....both because I can't enjoy it, and because I refuse to enjoy it. It's just the principle of the thing. ;)

9 jalexei   ~  Aug 30, 2005 5:57 am

9.  Perhaps we can set up a contest. Bellhorn will try and strike out as often as Embree walks someone. The winner gets a fat bonus check from Theo.

10 Max   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:13 am

10.  I did not like the Embree signing, and it's possible I may like the Bellhorn signing even less. At least Womack has some value as someone with speed off the bench...used once in a while, of course, not as much as he has been used this season.

I was wrong about Embree having zero or negative value...he has actually contributed positively in a few games, though if the Yanks make the playoffs, I fear the spirit of Felix Heredia returning.

With Bellhorn though, I just don't get it. He's like a parody of sabermetrics...a high OBP machine who's useless in real life. Very nice guy, though, who was discarded pretty unceremoniously by the Sox...maybe there's some anger that can be channeled in September for a few key games.

11 rbj   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:26 am

11.  Or maybe the Yankees are picking up these guys to help figure out the RS signs.

12 unpopster   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:33 am

12.  The Belhorn signing is just god awful, but I don't (shudder!) want it to mean the end of Womack's days in pinstripes.

Call me crazy, but I still believe that Woe-mack's speed will play a huuuuuuuge role in the post season, like what Roberts did for the Sox in '04.

But I NEVER want to see Womack up at the plate EVER again!

13 Dan M   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:37 am

13.  Re: Bellhorn, everyone here should go read Sully's site today.

14 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:46 am

14.  I agree with Sully. The Yanks have been winning despite Cano's awful past month. At the very least Bellhorn is very good platoon option against lefties. I understand feeling qeasy about another Red Sock joining the team but, then again, we've had a great history with ex Red Sox.

Additionally, if this means Womack's further marginalization, that's even better. Compare Womack all you like to Roberts from last ALCS. I'll compare Bellhorn to himself from that series. Maybe it's just me but I thought he had a far bigger influence on the results.

15 Knuckles   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:47 am

15.  Dan M- what is Sully's link?

16 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Aug 30, 2005 6:56 am

16.  Link:


Why assume Womack is odd man out? Why not Escalona? Rosters are expanding anyway, no?

17 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 30, 2005 7:05 am

17.  I reserve judgement on the signing until I see how he performs. Any player deserves as much. I still can't and won't enjoy it, and when we've wrapped up 1st place thanks to an 11th inning 3 run homer off Bellhorn's bat in the final game of the season, I'll probably smirk and change my mind.....maybe. ;)

18 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 30, 2005 7:06 am

18.  BTW.....in case you don't know....that final game of the season I mentioned above is October 2nd in Fenway. Thought I'd make that clear.

19 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 30, 2005 7:12 am

19.  You all might get a kick out of this:


20 mikeplugh   ~  Aug 30, 2005 7:16 am
21 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Aug 30, 2005 7:27 am

21.  btw - I christened Bellhorn "Deuce Bigalow" last year. I'll let you guys decided if the name fits.

22 Alvaro Espinoza   ~  Aug 30, 2005 7:58 am

22.  Nick,

Don't underestimate the role of a speedy bench player. No Roberts for the Sox last year and Bellhorn never gets a chance to finally get a meaningfull hit in game 6. He was invisible up to that point and his HR in gm 7 was meaningless.

Don't get me wrong, I hope the guy performs but I'll be skeptical til then.

23 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 30, 2005 8:11 am

23.  Is it me, or is Bellhorn wearing a Yankee shirt of some kind in the childhood photo from mikeplugh's second link? Hey, he's the son of a veterinarian and a school teacher (the professions of my girlfriend and mother respectively). Can't be all bad.

24 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 30, 2005 8:12 am

24.  Sully wrote:

"I always liked Bellhorn, and he was terribly under-appreciated here. That fans chose to kick and scream and throw bitch-fits over the strikeouts while Bellhorn was a well above average 2nd Baseman was always a black mark on the "smartest fans in baseball" rep that sometimes Sox fans merit and quite often other times, they don't. Explaining to a Bellhorn dissenter that he was a better player than Alfonso Soriano in 2004 is always a good time. Speaking of 2004, he was absolutely integral - essential even - to last season's championship effort and Bellhorn fans will always have the three-run, opposite field home run in Game 6, the pole rattling nail in the coffin in Game 7, a second pole rattler to win Game 1 and the double off of Matt Morris in the 1st inning of Game 2. Mark Bellhorn is a guy that goes about his business in a stout, resolute manner and Sox fans worth a salt in my book ought to appreciate what he accomplished for the Red Sox and lament that the Yankees have acquired him."

25 NetShrine   ~  Aug 30, 2005 8:55 am

25.  Is it me, or is Bellhorn wearing a Yankee shirt of some kind in the childhood photo from mikeplugh's second link?

It is!

26 Shaun P   ~  Aug 30, 2005 9:10 am

26.  Anything that makes the team better, it doesn't matter who Bellhorn used to play for. I especially like that he can be yet another power threat off the bench in late innings. With expanded rosters, can you imagine a close game where Torre could go to Sierra OR Tino OR Bellhorn OR (crossed fingers) Andy Phillips? Damn - much better than pinch-hitting with Flaherty, Escalona, or Womack.

27 Shaun P   ~  Aug 30, 2005 9:22 am

27.  BTW, singledd asked in the last post in yesterday's thread, how often the Yanks win when Giambi homers:

15 wins, 3 losses when Jason goes deep
59 wins, 53 losses when Jason gets no HRs

And, FWIW:
6 wins, 1 loss when Jason hits 2 bombs

I don't think there's any statistical correlation there, but those numbers sure look nice.


Giambi as 1B: 50G, 154 AB, 1.218 OPS
Giambi as DH: 54G, 167 AB, .798 OPS

Thank you Matt Lawton!

28 Yanks in NH   ~  Aug 30, 2005 9:39 am

28.  "Good Lord. Who's next? Millar? Damon? Geez. If these Yankees get much more red, it's - well - it's not good.


Hey, I'd take Damon any day though he'd look quite different with a crewcut! As far as Bellhorn, I always loved seeing him come to the plate because another strikeout was almost inevitable (the Womack-type feeling), but I don't think I'll enjoy it too much anymore! Of course, he would be the greatest if he does hit that clutch home run in the final game to take the East Division, as Mike Plugh suggests!

29 Athos   ~  Aug 30, 2005 9:42 am

29.  still waiting for today's http://www.markbellhorn.net/ update... interested in the site's reaction when they find out Bellhorn moved over to the "dark side" instead of the A's... will the site still continue like they say??? lol

30 Yanks in NH   ~  Aug 30, 2005 9:44 am

30.  To tell you the truth though, I'd rather have the division in hand much sooner. We just need to keep the winning hand going and have the Sox go into a nice nosedive and shut up their obnoxious fans! Then when we meet, we can appropriately nail the coffin shut. What poetic justice it would be if we could knock them out of first and out of wild card contention and send them to the golf course for October!

31 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 30, 2005 10:01 am

31.  That would be nice, Yanks in NH, but I fail to see the poetry or the justice in it.

32 Sean   ~  Aug 30, 2005 10:01 am

32.  mikeplugh, thanks for the links, they were a hoot. Regarding http://www.markbellhorn.net/, i cant wait for an update too. lol

33 markp   ~  Aug 30, 2005 10:27 am

33.  I don't understand not wanting a guy because he played for another team. Babe Ruth and Red Ruffing played for Boston before they came here, didn't they?
Bellhorn platooning with Cano makes far too much sense for Joe to employ it. I think he finds platooning to be demeaning or something.

34 Zack   ~  Aug 30, 2005 10:33 am

34.  The Bellhorn signing is a good one, if only for the fact that it makes the bench much better. I am assuming either Escalona or Womack will be dropped, but, of course, that probably won't happen.

As to keeping Womack, to compare the two, here are their respective #'s. I am including a lot of stats to make my point:
283 41 61 20 7 28 49 109 3 .216 .328 .688
324 46 79 8 0 15 12 49 26 .244 .271 .546

Womack tops Bellohrn in ABs, runs, hits, k's, and SB. Bellhorn has 12 more doubles, 7 more HR's (which, considering Womack has 0, is literally an infinite percentage improvement), 12 more RBI, a 50 point higher OBP and a 140 point higher OBP.

What is interesting, is that although Womack has so many more SB's, the run differential is almost negligable (5 runs). I suppose that is the difference between hitting a double or HR, and hitting a single and trying to steal second.

So, considering the #'s, I would say that I would much rather have a guy that has the potential to hit for some power or take a walk vs. a guy who may get you a hit or two more and steal a few bases, but mostly just makes contact and gets out.

Having a "speedy guy of the bench" is overrated, most anyone fast can fill that role. The chances are far greater that you will need a double, a walk, or a HR in a game than someone to steal second for you.

I am not saying I want him as my starting 2B, but as a guy of the bench, hes an upgrade...

35 brockdc   ~  Aug 30, 2005 10:58 am

35.  What is this fetish with acquiring players - good or bad - who have beaten us in big games (Pavano, Womack, Embree, Belhorn)? Is it the F.O.? Torre? Cash?

Some mediocre players come up big against the Yankees because their whole career has come down to this. I'm hoping these acquisitions are just a coincidence lest we sign Eddie Perez to a 4yr 40 mil. contract this offseason.

36 rbj   ~  Aug 30, 2005 12:46 pm

36.  brockdc,
Maybe the FO is just waiting for Julio Franco to mature a bit, then they'll offer him a 5 year deal.

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