"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Not Again

Shawn Chacon pulled a Mussina last night, giving up eight runs combined in the second and third innings due to an alarming lack of control (three walks, a wild pitch, and twice hitting Seattle left fielder Mike Morse with a pitch in those two innings alone). Those eight runs would be all the Mariners would score, and all they would need, as 31-year-old rookie starter Jeff Harris, who entered the game with a 1.69 ERA, escaped a one-out bases loaded jam in the first and eventually settled down to hold the Yankees to three runs over 6 1/3 innings.

With Joe Torre having cashed in Aaron Small last night, the Yankee skipper was forced to stick with Chacon as he started the second by allowing a pair of singles, hitting a batter to load the bases, uncorking a run-scoring wild pitch, and walking a man to reload the bases, all before recording an out. The Mariners then scored another run on an RBI groundout by Yorvit Torrealba, and cashed in the rest on a three-run homer by Ichiro Suzuki to go up 5-0.

Suzuki’s homer was his second in the first two games of the current series, marking just the second time in his major league career that he has gone deep in consecutive games, the first such occasion since last August, and the first time he has homered on consecutive days as a Mariner (though he did hit two jacks in a single game against Cleveland on July 30 as well as on two other occasions earlier in his Mariner career).

As the folks over at U.S.S. Mariner have noted, Suzuki has been hitting for more power this year, but sacrificing his average as a result. Ichiro!’s two homers against the Yankees over the past two nights have been his 14th and 15th of the season, breaking his major league career best of 13 set in 2003, which, not coincidentally, was also the year that he posted his lowest major league batting average (.312). Suzuki hit exactly eight home runs in his other three seasons with the Mariners, a number he’s almost doubled in 2005. This year, Suzuki is also exceeding his typical and major league high isolated power numbers–.104 and .124 respectively, the latter also in 2003–with a .146 ISO (slugging minus average). Meanwhile, in the three at-bats in which he did not homer last night, Ichiro, whose game has always revolved hitting the ball on the ground and speeding to first, flied out and twice struck out, dropping his average to .299, which has in turn suppressed his slugging percentage to his typical .445 despite his increased isolated power.

Back to the game, the Yankees got a pair of runs back in the top of the third, but Chacon gave three right back in the bottom of the inning, thanks in small part to some adventurous outfield play by Matt Lawton, who was filling in in right as Gary Sheffield served a one-day suspension for bumping umpire C.B. Bucknor after being called out at first against the Mets on July 26.

And that was about all there was. Alex Rodriguez, starting at DH due to a sore groin, hit his 40th home run of the year to round out the score at 8-3 M’s. Taking Rodriguez’s place in the field, Mark Bellhorn went 0 for 4 with no walks or Ks and played eight innings at third without once touching the ball.

For his part, Chacon finished the night with three scoreless innings, ending his evening after throwing 113 pitches. This after throwing 119 and 127 pitches in each of his last two starts, a workload that might have something to do with his struggles last night (though Chacon is hardly a stranger to wildness as he entered this season with 4.82 BB/9 on his career and posted a dreadful 1.08 K/BB ratio while with the Rockies this year).

Bringing this full-circle to Mike Mussina, it was announced before yesterday’s game that Moose will skip his next start due to inflammation in his pitching elbow, the same elbow that landed him on the DL for more than a month last July. Aaron Small will take Mussina’s start this Saturday against Kirk Saarloos in Oakland. With an off day on Monday, the Yankees will then have the option of skipping Mussina’s turn entirely next week, though they might also have Chien-Ming Wang to add to the rotation by then, as he is due to make another rehab start in Columbus this Saturday and is in synch with Mussina’s spot in the rotation. For what it’s worth, Kim Jones reported before last night’s game that Ruben Sierra has rejoined the team from his own rehab assignment in Columbus (2 for 11, HR, 2 BB) in anticipation of being activated once rosters expand on Thursday and reports that Wang is throwing 92-93 miles per hour with the Clippers.

With the Red Sox winning, the Angels dropping a fantastic eleven-inning pitchers’ duel to the A’s, who extended their AL West lead, and the Indians getting rained out, the Yanks are now 2.5 back in the east and ½ game up on the Indians in the Wild Card race.

Having dropped last night’s contest unexpectedly, tonight’s contest between 41-year-old future Hall of Famer and former Mariner ace Randy Johnson and 19-year-old future Mariner ace “King Felix” Hernandez becomes more than just a thrilling pitching match-up, it becomes a must-win for the Yankees as they head into a rough 12-game stretch that starts in Oakland on Friday.

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1 Alex Belth   ~  Aug 31, 2005 5:43 am

1.  Bad loss. Then again, at this point in the season, just about all of 'em are bad. The Yanks really miss Sheff, huh? Mussina missing a go is tough, especially with Leiter already set to go this weekend.

Oh, according to the Times:

"After testing his shoulder with three strong innings on Monday for Class AAA Columbus, Chien-Ming Wang is scheduled to throw 65 pitches in his next start, on Saturday. Ruben Sierra saw Wang pitch Monday and said he looked good, but Sierra was more impressed with Ramiro Mendoza.

Mendoza, who helped the Yankees win four World Series, struck out five over two innings Monday. In 12 innings for Columbus, Mendoza has allowed one run and four hits."

2 rbj   ~  Aug 31, 2005 6:25 am

2.  Nerts on the loss.
Good news with Sierra, Wang and Mendoza.
Also, it does appear that Brown is finished for the season. Phew, no chance of him coming in and wrecking a game. How much did each of his victories cost?

3 bp1   ~  Aug 31, 2005 6:25 am

3.  I feel lost in the evenings this week.

When I saw us blow that bases loaded situation in the first, I had two thoughts almost back to back.

1. We're gonna drive this guy out of the game by the 4th inning.

and then.

2. He's gonna wiggle out of every jam tonight, and the blogs will be lighting up with "gloom and doom" stories tomorrow.

I'm not doom and gloom just yet. We're gonna lose the occasional game. We brought in the Big Unit for games like tonight - to put us back on the right track. He had a strong outing last time. We could use another tonight.


4 Shaun P   ~  Aug 31, 2005 7:03 am

4.  After reading the 125 comments on last night's game, I'm really glad I turned it off and went to sleep after A-Rod walked in the first. My wife is a teacher, so we're always up early when the school year starts - which it did today - and that makes it hard to stay up for these late games.

I knew with the way Chacon's control has been deserting him lately that it would come around to bite O in the A. Better it happen against Seattle than Oakland or Boston.

5 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 31, 2005 7:10 am

5.  That was not a good night for the Yanks. Damn Devil Rays blow the game after pouncing on Schilling early. Trot Nixon wins the game which for me personally is as bad as it gets. I hate Trot, his last name, and his contrived "dirt dog" persona. Then Chacon pitches like Chacon at Coors, and the Yanks fail to get anything done on a journeyman rookie. It's a bad sign when the most interesting thing that can be said about the night is that Michael Kay figured out the difference between a pallindrome and an anagram. The season has been up and down to say the least. And right now I'm not feeling too good.

The Big Unit has to come up big tonight.

6 Shaun P   ~  Aug 31, 2005 7:37 am

6.  More bad news from the Times:

"The Yankees will add at least five players when rosters expand in September. Designated hitter Ruben Sierra . . . will be activated Thursday. Reliever Wayne Franklin and catcher Wil Nieves will also join the team that day. Reliever Scott Proctor and infielder Felix Escalona will return as soon as Class AAA Columbus finishes its season."

Wayne Franklin AGAIN?! What about Colter Bean, Andy Phillips, Kevin Thompson (who could be useful even with Lawton around)? ARGH.

The thin reed of hope is the first sentence - at least 5 players. Let's hope its more!

7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 31, 2005 7:55 am

7.  They don't mention Wang or Mendoza either. I agree, Franklin is stupefying. With Bean, Proctor, Jason Anderson and Mendoza available, what need is there for Franklin other than his being left-handed?

8 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 31, 2005 8:22 am

8.  Torre gets these major man-crushes on lefties that suck. I guess Bean is just too ugly for him. Why doesn't Cash set him straight.

I realise that whole paragraph could be construed as homophobic. I didn't mean it as such. It just came out that way.

9 JohnnyC   ~  Aug 31, 2005 9:05 am

9.  Nick, don't blame Torre. That's for me to do. It's why I'm here. Let's be pro forma if you will. Blame Tampa, blame George, blame Canada, but, really, Joe is blameless. So he fancies Wayne Franklin. Can't blame him. He's an awfully nice guy, not like that bad, bad man, (he's no manager's)Buddy Groom.

10 Somnambulist   ~  Aug 31, 2005 9:13 am

10.  The cause of Mussina's problems: http://community.webshots.com/album/417332277HYuDCg

11 rbj   ~  Aug 31, 2005 9:21 am

11.  Columbus is still in the wildcard hunt (3 games behind Indiannapolis). It's bad form to empty the pitching staff at such a point. More arms will be up after Labor Day, the Clippers probably won't make it.

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 31, 2005 9:27 am

12.  I'm sorry, but the major league club comes first. If Columbus needs pitching, let them have Wayne Franklin.

13 NetShrine   ~  Aug 31, 2005 9:32 am

13.  Great find Somnambulist!

What's your source?

14 Nick from Washington Heights   ~  Aug 31, 2005 9:46 am

14.  JohnnyC, just a little criticism of Torre is all. I still like the way he deals with George and the media. I'd find it hard to find a better person take on that part of the job. Torre, of course, has his shortcomings, in terms of game-time decisions, and an over-reliance on the lefty reliever. But most managers, when left to their own devices, are guilty of these weaknesses. Who would you say is better at the handling of the game and his roster? There are probably very few names you could come up with.

15 Somnambulist   ~  Aug 31, 2005 10:18 am

15.  My source?

Webshots, and whatever the girl said in there. lol.

16 NetShrine   ~  Aug 31, 2005 10:36 am

16.  And the media would have you believe that Moose is only into crossword puzzles........

17 Zack   ~  Aug 31, 2005 11:11 am

17.  Those pics were amazing! I never knew Moose had it in him to, I don't know, enjoy himself! And drink beers no less! Although, having pictures of you drinking it up during the season with a bunch of drunk girlies isn't nec. the best thing for a pro, but so be it...

Nick, I am with you 100% on Trot, stupid name, too many G-bombs(my words for anytime a player egregiously thanks God for his RBI etc. Compare him to Rivera, as religious as they come, but you rarely hear it from him), too overrated, too many injuries etc.

18 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 31, 2005 11:13 am

18.  "G-bombs" - That's fantastic!

19 JohnnyC   ~  Aug 31, 2005 11:23 am

19.  Forget about pitch count. Moose's elbow seems to have succumbed to knocking back a few too many beers. Where's Mel with that clicker when you really need him?

20 bp1   ~  Aug 31, 2005 11:58 am

20.  "Where's Mel with that clicker when you really need him?"

Ha ha ha ha ...


Cliff stapling half the team to Kevin Brown.

Heh heh ... you guys are too much.


21 Shaun P   ~  Aug 31, 2005 12:23 pm

21.  Nice blurb on Trot, Zack - ever since the Clemens-Pedro matchup on Memorial Day 2000, I've had a special dislike for Nixon. 'G-bomb' is a fantastic phrase, and I will definitely make use of it!

Wonder if there are any other pics like that out there . . . wonder how long until one of the NY papers picks this up?

22 jameson and water   ~  Aug 31, 2005 1:49 pm

22.  I've never seen Mussina grinning like he is in the one hug shot there. Good on ya Moose!

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