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June Showers Bring . . .

Posted By Cliff Corcoran On September 26, 2005 @ 1:19 pm In Bronx Banter | Comments Disabled

The Yankees and Orioles were originally scheduled to play the game being made up tonight at Camden Yards on Wednesday June 29. Instead, the game was washed away by rain, which seemed very similar to what was happening to the Yankees’ season at the time. The night before, Joe Torre had brought Mike Stanton in to pitch the bottom of the tenth inning against the top of the Orioles’ order despite not yet having used Mariano Rivera in the game (Rivera had thrown just two innings over the previous week). Brian Roberts crushed Stanton’s first pitch into the left field stands to give the Orioles a 4-3 [1] win and drop the Yankees’ June record to 12-14.

During the two days of inactivity that followed (the first due to the rain-out, the second a travel day as the team headed to Detroit to start a weekend series against the Tigers), the Yankees designated relievers Mike Stanton and Paul Quantrill for assignment. When they returned to action on Friday night in Detroit, the Tigers and their 22-year-old ace Jeremy Bonderman handed the Yankees and their 41-year-old putative ace Randy Johnson a 10-2 loss that dropped the New Yorkers’ overall record to 39-39. After stumbling out of the gate with an 11-19 (.367) record, the Yankees appeared to have righted their ship in May with a ten-game winning streak, but by the time Tino Martinez grounded out to Bonderman to complete that July 1 loss in Detroit, most of the optimism that streak had brought had dissipated.

Since then, however, the Yankees have gone 52-25 (.675), and now, with exactly one week left in the regular season, find themselves tied with the Boston Red Sox for first in the American League East with the opportunity to tie the idle Indians for the Wild Card lead with a win tonight. It’s been an absolutely stunning [2] turn around, and now, with just seven games left in the season, it’s time for the payoff.

At this point the final three games between the Yankees and Red Sox in Boston are all but guaranteed to mean something. While the Yankees play four games against the Orioles in Baltimore between now and Thursday, the Red Sox and Blue Jays will play four in Fenway. Even if one team collapses and falls three games behind the other by Friday, that club will still have the opportunity to tie for the division lead with a weekend sweep. More likely, the two teams will enter Friday night’s contest separated by no more than a single game.

That said, just about anything could happen this week. The Blue Jays, who have been right around .500 all year, have been playing much better baseball than the Orioles over the past few weeks, losing two of three at home to the Yankees two weekends ago, but only being outscored by just a single run, then outscoring the Mariners by a lone run during a four-game split last week before playing the Yankees hard in another three-game series loss this past weekend, winning the second game 7-4 and holding a lead in the seventh inning of the series finale yesterday.

The Orioles, meanwhile, have lost their last eight games and ten of their last eleven, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees in the Bronx last week. Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Brian Roberts will not play again this season for a variety of reasons all of which involve injury and the team has gone 20-43 (.317) since July 18.

To that end, the Yankees would appear to have the advantage over the next four days. Still, just because the Blue Jays are better than the Orioles, doesn’t mean the Red Sox are any less capable of sweeping them, particularly in Boston, where the Red Sox have posted a frightening 50-24 (.676) record thus far this season (note the similarity to the Yankees overall record since July 1–could these teams be more evenly matched?). The good news is that the Jays are 9-5 against the Red Sox thus far this season, including a 3-2 record in Fenway. Equally encouraging is the fact that the Orioles have been as bad at home as on the road this year (35-42 in Baltimore, 35-43 elsewhere), and, while the Yankees are just two games over .500 on the road this season, they are 7-2 in their last three road series (against the Jays, Rays and A’s).

Of course all these numbers and records mean very little in a sport with as much day-to-day volatility as baseball. That’s why they play ‘em, and that’s why my stomach is twisting in knots as I write these ostensibly encouraging words. Tonight, Randy Johnson makes his penultimate start of the regular season, the final game being a doomsday match-up with Curt Schilling on FOX this Saturday. His opponent is Rodrigo Lopez, who made the Big Unit earn his pay [3] last week, despite getting beat around by the Yanks in two of three previous starts on the year.

Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Sam Perlozzo
General Manager: Jim Beattie and Mike Flanagan

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Oriole Park at Camden Yards (104/103)

Current Roster:

1B – Alejandro Freire (R)/Walter Young (L)
2B – Bernie Castro
SS – Miguel Tejada
3B – Melvin Mora
C – Geronimo Gil
RF – Jay Gibbons
CF – Luis Matos
LF – Eric Byrnes (R)/B.J. Surhoff (L)
DH – Javy Lopez

Bench:

L – David Newhan (CF/UT)
R – Chris Gomez (1B/IF)
R – Sal Fasano (C)
R – Eli Whiteside (C)
R – Ed Rogers (IF)
S – Brian Roberts (2B)*
L – Rafael Palmeiro (1B)*

*out for the year

Rotation:

R – Rodrigo Lopez
L – Bruce Chen
R – Daniel Cabrera
R – John Maine
L – Erik Bedard

Bullpen:

L – B.J. Ryan
R – Todd Williams
R – Jorge Julio
L – Steve Kline
L – Tim Byrdak
R – Chris Ray
R – Jason Grimsley
R – James Baldwin
L – Eric DuBose
R – Aaron Rakers

DL:

R – Sammy Sosa (OF)
R – Kurt Ainsworth (60-day)
L – Val Majewski (OF) (60-day)
R – Eli Marrero (OF) (60-day)
L – John Parrish (60-day)

Typical Line-up

S – Bernie Castro (2B)
R – Melvin Mora (3B)
R – Miguel Tejada (SS)
L – Jay Gibbons (1B)
R – Javy Lopez (DH)
R – Alejandro Friere (1B)/L – B.J. Surhoff (LF)
R – Eric Byrnes (LF)/L – Walter Young (1B)
R – Luis Matos (CF)
R – Geronimo Gil (C)


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URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2005/09/26/june-showers-bring/

URLs in this post:

[1] 4-3: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=250628101

[2] stunning: http://www.baseballmusings.com/archives/011397.php

[3] earn his pay: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=250921110

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