"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice


Kicking off the biggest series of the year thus far for the Yankees, Al Leiter faced ten batters and retired just two of them before being removed from last night’s game down 6-0 with runners on second and third. Never mind that lead-off hitter Jason Kendell, who was hit with a 2-2 pitch to start the game, appeared to be thrown out stealing second but was called safe. Or that when Mark Ellis followed Kendell’s stolen steal by hitting a payoff pitch over Hideki Matsui’s head in left that Matsui misplayed badly, Hideki recovered to throw out Ellis trying to stretch it into a triple only to have Ellis called safe as well. Such quibles are minor in the face of the 12-0 thrashing the Yankees took at the hands of the A’s last night.

Leiter had nothing, resulting in the shortest non-injury start of his career. According to Joe Torre after the game, Leiter, notorious for his refusal to throw strikes, was simply catching too much of the plate. Though Leiter’s 50/50 ball to strike split would suggest otherwise, Leiter did say that, as a result of watching video on the A’s, he expected the Oakland to take more pitches and thus tried to get away with a few gimme strikes. What he failed to realize was that the A’s take balls and swing at strikes, particullarly big juicy ones over the heart of the plate.

With Mike Mussina out indefinitely and Aaron Small insterted in his place in the rotation, Joe Torre called on Jorge DePaula to stop the bleeding and soak up inings. Armed with an 86-mile-per-hour fastball, the 26-year-old DePaula, who has spent the season in Columbus working his way back from Tommy John surgery, was only up to half the task. DePaula got the final out of the first on three pitches, but then gave up four more runs in the second and single runs in the third and sixth. Still, credit Brian Cashman (as Torre did after the game) with realizing that the Yankees might need an innings sponge such as DePaula with Leiter and Small starting on consecutive days. DePaula and Wayne Franklin, who pitched two perfect frames against Oakland’s subs to finish the job, prevented Torre from having to use any of his more valuable relievers.

On the other side of the ball, the Yankees stranded runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the second, third and fourth innings against Danny Haren, also stranding a lead-off walk by Jeter in the first. After it took Haren just 18 pitches to get through the the Yankee’s three through eight hitters in the fifth and sixth, Joe Torre put in his B-squad:

1B – John Flaherty
SS – Mark Bellhorn (now with high sox and double-flap helmet)
3B – Andy Phillips (who hit the only pitch he saw to the warning track in left in the eighth, causing my heart to skip a beat)
C – Wil Nieves
LF – Matt Lawton (2 for 2, the only Yankee with a multi-hit night)
CF – Tony Womack
RF – Bubba Crosby

Shockingly, Womack and Flaherty got themselves on first and third in the eigth only to be stranded by Nieves, otherwise Lawton’s two hits were all the subs had to offer.

Elsewhere, the Red Sox lost, thus failing to increase their 3.5 game lead in the East, but the Angels and Indians won. As a result, the Yankees have fallen into a second place tie with the Indians in the Wild Card race, a game behind the A’s and Angels, who remain tied for first.

Today’s game starts at 4:05 and it couldn’t come soon enough. Last night’s game was far too reminiscent of Game Seven of last year’s ALCS and I’m desperate for a brand new ballgame to erase those awful memories (not to mention put the Yankees back in a tie for the Wild Card). Aaron Small, show your old team what you can do.

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1 Shaun P   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:17 am

1.  I waited an hour plus to turn on the game last night with Leiter pitching. First I saw it was the 3rd; then I saw the score, and the pitcher was clearly not Leiter. Then I saw Payton's homerun. I turned the TV off and promptly forgot there was a game.

I see it was every bit as brutal as I feared.

Over the last 5 games, the Yanks have managed to score 6 runs. Every team goes through those kinds of stretches, but with the starting pitching becoming questionable, we need an outburst on offense.

BTW, I'm very impressed that DePaula was around - but when the hell did he arrive? I heard nothing about him being called up, too.

2 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 6:11 am

2.  Wait, is that an Ivory-billed Woodpecker over there? Anyway, nice weather here in Toledo for this weekend. Oh, and Nomo's line from last night:
Nomo (W, 2-3) 7.1 3 0 1 10 3.62
The competition was AAA, but the Mudhens do have the best record in the IL.

3 Murray   ~  Sep 3, 2005 6:54 am

3.  Thank God the US Open is in town.

4 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 3, 2005 8:39 am

4.  DePaula was called up just before last night's game (or perhaps more accurately just after Thursday's game) along with Phillips.

5 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 3, 2005 9:16 am

5.  Meaningless trivia: with the exception of opening day in April, the Yankees have lost their first game of every month this season (May, June, July, August and now September).

That doesn't bode well for the middle game of their final series in Boston, which falls on October 1.

6 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 9:28 am

6.  Moose done for the season?!?!?!?!?!?!

"The Yankees' ragged pitching staff took another body blow Friday when Mike Mussina learned that he might miss the rest of the season with inflammation in his right elbow."


7 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 3, 2005 9:50 am

7.  No one knows. Wang makes his second rehab start with the Clippers tonight. If he does well, that start against the Red Sox a week from today could be his.

8 Hank   ~  Sep 3, 2005 9:58 am

8.  Shaun P -- excellent idea. I hope to apply that same strategy the next time Leiter starts (and I hate that there must be a next time), but I fear I won't be strong enough. I'll likely watch each disastrous pitch, cursing Leiter and myself all the while...

9 singledd   ~  Sep 3, 2005 10:15 am

9.  Alex,
I am very concerned that our offense does NOT play with a sense of urgency. They do not play like the post-season hangs on the outcome of the ballgame, which is very well might. Short of someone going on a big run (either winning or losing), I expect the WC to go down to the wire between 3 teams.

I know teams have hitting slumps, but we have had poor offense for weeks now. We simply have too much hitting talent to excuse this. All the problems we have had with our pitching does not excuse our poor offensive performance, ESPECIALLY against no-name pitchers and poor (read that TB, KC and Seattle) teams.

Does this team look hungry to you?
I simply believe the WC will go to the team that wants it the most.... and that does NOT look like us.

10 Ken Arneson   ~  Sep 3, 2005 10:32 am

10.  FWIW, I didn't think Kendall or Ellis were out when I saw the plays. It never even occurred to me at the time that the calls might be wrong. Kendall's foot came off the bag, but I don't think he was tagged during that split second.

I'll be at the game today, taking pictures. I'll post some of them over at Catfish Stew later tonight.

11 no2ss   ~  Sep 3, 2005 10:37 am

11.  Man. Had the choice of going to last night's game or today's.... Chose today, as I didn't think I'd be able to get off work in time to make it before first pitch last night. THANK GOODNESS I didn't go last night. That would have been awful.

Heading out to the colliseum in a few. Hoping today's results are... um... a bit better than that crap from last night.

12 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 3, 2005 12:00 pm

12.  Ken, it doesn't matter, it didn't effect the outcome of the games, and I didn't see a solid replay of the stolen base, but it looked to me like Kendall was out before he even got to the bag. YES also showed a replay which showed that Ellis was tagged on the elbow a split second before his hand touched the bag. Again, I'm not harping on that, the A's most likely would have won by a ten spot either way. But then, maybe Al gets out of the first with those calls going the other way and then settles down. And maybe in a close game, rather than down 10-0 right off the bat, the Yankee offenese has a better approach (and stays in the whole game).

Who knows?

13 randym77   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:35 pm

13.  I am not going to say anything good about Small, because every time I praise a pitcher, he promptly implodes in his next start. :-X

I wish the offense would get it in gear, though. They get on base a lot, but scoring is another matter.

14 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:38 pm

14.  big opportunity, time to convert. at least someone can lay down a bunt

15 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:39 pm

15.  time for Godzilla to eat up another lefty

16 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:43 pm

16.  another bullet by Matsui against a lefty, hustles down 1st to stay out of a double play and plates ribi 100

17 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:46 pm

17.  loaded up for A-Rod, 2 outs I think

18 sabernar   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:47 pm

18.  Come on ARod! Now's your chance!

19 randym77   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:49 pm

19.  Finally!!!!

20 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:50 pm

20.  Ok, Small back out for the 7th? Nice if Jason launches one here.

21 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:52 pm

21.  OH F'ing Way!

22 watziznehm2   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:52 pm

22.  OH WOW nice call rbj.. :)

23 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:54 pm

23.  Clutch 2run base hit by A-Rod followed by a three run blast by the Giambino. It doesn't get better than that at least lately

24 sabernar   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:54 pm

24.  Hmmmm...ARod coming through in the clutch. Think people will stop bitching about him now? Nah, probably not.

25 sabernar   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:56 pm

25.  Only 67 pitches through 6 innings for Small. Maybe he can go all the way.

26 Shaun P   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:56 pm

26.  ALLLLRIGHT! I turned on the game just as A-Rod singled, and caught Giambi's homer as well. 'Bout TIME! I'm glad Small is coming back out for the 7th - he looks very sharp today.

Ken, looking forward to those pics a great deal, thanks for sharing with us.

27 Shaun P   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:58 pm

27.  sabernar, the A's TV feed (which is what Extra Innings is usingput up a graphic that showed A-Rod is hitting .364 with the bases loaded this year - and that was before his hit. Seems clutch to me!

28 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:58 pm

28.  Thanks, Shaun. -jk-

29 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:58 pm

29.  lest everyone forgets A-Rod CLUTCH base hit in that sequence.

30 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 2:59 pm

30.  Why warm up Gordon with a 7 run lead?

31 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:02 pm

31.  Small saves Torre from himself...for now.

32 mikeplugh   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:04 pm

32.  Great!!!!! Small for President.

I don't disagree with Gordon warming here. There was a small danger mounting in that inning and I would have been happy to have Gordon ready if a couple of runs had come in and runners on.

Now, I think we ought to see Embree or Felix Rodriguez for the 8th and 9th.

Big win. Keep that wild card in our pocket, and try to string together a run at the Red Sox. Tomorrow is another mountain to climb with Zito and Chacon.

33 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:06 pm

33.  Lot of scrubs in the bullpen and Torre can't afford to lose this one. Small only has about 83 pitches so hopefully he'll go a little longer and Gordon won't be needed much if used at all

34 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:09 pm

34.  btw, Would it kill Matsui to end that freakin' streak for the good of the team?

35 mikeplugh   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:10 pm

35.  I love it. Small out for the 8th. Why not? Gotta love this guy's guts.

36 mikeplugh   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:11 pm

36.  Rich. I agree, but he gets a long leash with his ability to turn it on in the stretch.

He did crack the seal today with the 1st 2 runs. One a sac fly and the other on a gutty hustle down the line for #100. He gets it done even when he's floundering at the plate. That's why he's so good.

37 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:17 pm

37.  Can someone refresh my memory as to why Small was ever removed from the rotation in the first place?

38 sabernar   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:18 pm

38.  I say bring Small out for the 9th. He's thrown 98 pitches.

39 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:22 pm

39.  Small 97 pitches through 8! What a great disinfectant to get that Leiter sludge off. Sterling just said nobody warming up so I guess he's going for a complete game.

40 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:24 pm

40.  Small came up big in the most important game of the season to date, but of equal importance, I hope the offensive outburst indicates that the team is out of their colllective slump. I have my doubts.

41 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:28 pm

41.  For a guy with decent speed (16 or 17 SB), Lawton seems unable to take a good angle on a bouncing ball.

42 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:30 pm

42.  So the rotation is Randy, Chacon and Small. Hopefully Wang will be back and will be effective which is a big question. This is a disaster without Muus. I refuse to count Leiter unless he want's to throw batting practice but he doesn't throw enough strikes for that anyway

43 mikeplugh   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:31 pm

43.  YES!!!!!! VERY BIG, MR. SMALL!!!!

44 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:31 pm

44.  Strike Three to end it. What a stud

45 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:32 pm

45.  Complete game shutout. Nicely done Aaron, way to pick up the team after yesterday. Small stays in the rotation.

46 randym77   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:33 pm

46.  That's what my friend the Pirate fan said about Lawton. Good speed, but erratic fielding. He just misjudges the ball a lot. She thought he'd be better off DHing on an AL team.

Way to go, Small!

47 nick   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:37 pm

47.  As a great man once said,
"Let's Get Small!"

Torre's hand is forced now, right?

48 rabid stan   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:40 pm

48.  Aaron Small with a CG shutout.

Any more proof he belongs in the rotation?

It's good to be a Yankee fan today

49 Rich   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:41 pm

49.  The problem is that Lawton doesn't hit enough to DH on a Yankee team filled with DHs: Bernie, Sheff, Ruben, Giambi...

50 randym77   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:46 pm

50.  Yeah, Lawton may have been a decent hitter for a Pirate, but he's nothing special for the Yankees.

I hope he proves me wrong, but I have seroius doubts about how he'll work out in the outfield.

51 mikeplugh   ~  Sep 3, 2005 3:52 pm

51.  You'll gradually see less and less of both Lawton and Bellhorn as the race tightens. You have to believe that Torre will plug in Bernie as the everyday CFer when all is said and done.

Bernie is one of his guys and has helped the Yankees to postseason every year since 1995. That much will take care of the outfield slot. Bellhorn doesn't figure in the infield mix too often with our best hitters on the left side and only Cano's spot on the right. I imagine that he will replace Cano when the matchups favor him, but that can't be too often. Maybe for revenge against the Red Sox.

DH will be firmly Ruben Sierra, I think. You may get an occasional rest day for Giambi in that spot, but Ru is the man if he can stay healthy.

52 rbj   ~  Sep 3, 2005 4:05 pm

52.  Only 112 pitches by Small, which is Leiter's average through 4, I believe. He should be fine for his next turn in the rotation, if I didn't just jinx it.

53 no2ss   ~  Sep 3, 2005 4:56 pm

53.  Just got back from the game. That was a fun one! As per usual in Oakland, plenty of Yankees fans in attendance. We sat down the 1b line towards the Yanks' bullpen. Any explanation for why Randy was up and throwing in the 6th?

54 randym77   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:10 pm

54.  It was probably just his throw day.

55 mikeplugh   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:27 pm

55.  Yes, it was his throw day. He usually doesn't throw between starts, but recently his success has been attributed to a little work before each outing. He feels a little sharper with better velocity when he gets in a little throwing session.

56 no2ss   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:30 pm

56.  Yeah, but it usually seems that they do their throwing during practice time, not during game time. Just seemed strange to see him out there throwing.

57 Paul in Boston   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:31 pm

57.  Does Crosby's start in center signal the end of the Womack era? We can only hope ...

58 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:33 pm

58.  scorboard watching not great at the moment. Millar just homered to tie Baltimore at 3 after 4. As to Cleveland Santana doing his usual job with with a one hit shutout through 5 for Minnesota but unfortunately Minn hasn't scored either.

59 randym77   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:43 pm

59.  At first I thought Torre was going to put Randy in on his throw day, like he did with Chacon before. But I guess Randy just wanted to work with Flaherty. They were both there, so why not?

60 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  Sep 3, 2005 5:46 pm

60.  "Aaron Small with a CG shutout."

Please, Rabid Stan, everyone, an urgent reminder: A shutout IS a complete game.

Sorry, it's a pet peeve of mine. It's like grade inflation. To say complete game shutout implies that seven shutout innings is a shutout of sorts. It isn't--unless, of course, the game's called on account of darkness. ;)

Sorry to lecture.

61 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 6:13 pm

61.  weeping, while you're correct about the redundancy of complete game shutout this might be a special situation. It's supposedly his first complete game in the majors and also his first shut-out in the majors. So just saying shutout wouldn't give the reader the flavor that Small accomplished two separate milestones in his career.

62 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 6:53 pm

62.  Cleveland loses so Yank's gain a game on both Cleveland and Oakland in the wildcard. Boston heading for a comeback win as usual.

63 sabernar   ~  Sep 3, 2005 7:56 pm

63.  Then say it's Small's first complete game AND his first shutout. It's like saying it's some player's first grand slam home run. All grand slams are homer runs.

64 marc   ~  Sep 3, 2005 10:22 pm

64.  Not bad, LAAofA just lost so we ran the wild card table with Cleveland and both CA teams losing.

65 markp   ~  Sep 4, 2005 6:46 am

65.  in re Bellgorn and Lawton:
Lawton should continue to see action in the OF. He's a decent hitter and him in LF with Matsui in CF is a better defensive line-up than HM in LF and BW in CF.
Bellhorn should replace Cano against lefties. His career OPS batting RH is over 900. Cano is almost 300 points lower than that.

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