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Posted By Cliff Corcoran On August 31, 2006 @ 9:10 pm In Bronx Banter | Comments Disabled
The Yankees defeated the Tigers handily yesterday behind Randy Johnson’s second strong outing in as many tries against Detroit. Johnson, whose ERA was just shy of six before he threw six scoreless innings in Detroit back on May 29, dominated for eight innings, holding the Tigers to two runs on three hits and no walks while striking out eight. Of course, two of those three hits were solo homers by Magglio Ordoñez and Omar Infante (!). Not that it mattered much. The Yankees touched up Jeremy Bonderman for four runs in just over five innings, and for the first time since his home run in Seattle a week ago, Alex Rodriguez was in the middle of the action.
After popping out in his first at-bat, Rodriguez came to the plate in the third with two outs and Bobby Abreu on second via a double. He took two balls, then delivered just his second hit since that Seattle home run 21 at-bats earlier, a two-out RBI single into left center to tie the Tigers, who had taken an early lead on Ordoñez’s solo homer. After Abreu singled home a pair of runs in the fourth, also with two outs, Rodriguez led off the fifth by doubling on a 3-1 count and then scored on a Bernie Williams single. Rodriguez again lead off an inning in his next at-bat, again getting ahead early, then blasting a 2-1 pitch off lefty reliever Jamie Walker for a solo home run to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead. Rodriguez finished the day 3 for 4 with two RBIs, two runs scored, seven total bases and one stolen base. Robbie Cano and Bernie Williams added another run after Alex’s homer via a double and a single respectively and the Yanks took a 6-2 lead into the ninth.
Entering the ninth inning having thrown 94 pitches, Johnson walked Craig Monroe on four more, then fell behind Marcus Thames, whose first major league hit was a homer of Johnson in the Bronx when Thames was a Yankee and Randy was a Diamondback. Johnson took the gimme strike, then Thames fouled off three pitches before taking the Unit deep yet again to bring the Tigers within two. That sent Johnson to the showers and brought in Mariano Rivera, who started out by giving up a ringing double to Ordoñez, but then set the next three men down in order to preserve the 6-4  win.
The Yankees finish the year with a 5-2 record against the team with the American League’s best record, both loses coming in games in which the Yankees held a ninth-inning lead, but were unable to use Rivera to nail down the win (the first loss  came in Detroit after Mo strained his back putting on his spikes two days after pitching three innings to earn a win). Not too shabby. Unfortunately, there’s little chance of these two teams matching up in the ALDS.
As it stands, the Yankees are a pretty good bet to be the first-round host of the central division team that wins the Wild Card. The Tigers, even if they finish with the best record, can’t play a team in their own division in the ALDS, which would pass the Wild Card team on to the team with the second best record. Thus, the Yankees would play the Wild Card if they finished with either the first or second best record in the league. Only if they fell to third-best, or if the A’s rose to the top of the heap (they’re currently 5 1/2 games behind the Tigers and 2 1/2 behind the Yankees), or if the Tigers fell into the Wild Cart spot (their 4.5 game division lead is the smallest of the three in the AL) would we get a Yankees-Tigers ALDS match-up.
Got all that? Good, because there’s a glut of news to report:
Rasner looked sharp in a lone relief appearance for the Yankees back in that first loss to the Tigers in May, utilizing a nasty curve. He then landed on the 60-day DL with a sore pitching shoulder. After a brief rehab stint in A-ball in which the threw 13 innings across four starts, he was activated and optioned down to Columbus where he started this past Monday, allowing three runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out five and walking none.
Rasner made his only other major league start for the Nationals last year in his major league debut. He ran into trouble in the third inning of that game and got an early hook, but then followed that appearance with 4 2/3 scoreless innings out of the pen in which he allowed just one hit and walked none. Of course that’s all tiny sample stuff, but in the minors, the 25-year-old Rasner has shown mid-rotation potential, displaying good control, a solid strikeout rate, and a knack for keeping the ball in the park. A good outing on Sunday could put him in the conversation for next year’s rotation.
As I understand the rules, because Beam, Veras, or Rasner could be subbed in for the injured Tanyon Sturtze or Carl Pavano (safely assuming neither will be activated before the end of the season), everyone in the previous paragraph except Nieves (because the Yankees don’t have any catchers on the major league DL), as well as the 25 men on the roster for yesterday’s game (which means Karstens and Bruney in addition to the usual suspects), is eligible for the postseason roster.
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URLs in this post:
 6-4: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=260831110
 first loss: http://bronxbanter.baseballtoaster.com/archives/390666.html
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