"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: July 2008

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Earl Weaver Special

On a hot, humid night in the Bronx last night, Andy Pettitte had a hard time staying cool and composed. Drenched in sweat and clearly off his game, Pettitte struggled with his command and the communication with his new catcher, Ivan Rodriguez–at one point Pettitte simply mouthed “four seam, four seam” before delivering a pitch. The big lefty managed to strand a pair of walks in the first inning and work around a pair of singles in the second, but in the third he gave up a pair of three-run homers to Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera that broke the game wide open.

The Yankees got a run in the fourth on a Bobby Abreu solo shot off Angels starter Jon Garland, and another in the fifth when Melky Cabrera tripled and scored on a subsequent hit by Johnny Damon, but the Angels got those back and more in the sixth. Pettitte gave up one more tally before getting the hook with one out in the sixth, but he left two runners on base for Chris Britton. Britton retired two of the first three men he faced, but the one he didn’t get was Vlad Guerrero, who added yet another three-run jack to push the score to 10-2 and end any real hope of a Yankee comeback.

Britton gave up two more runs in the eighth, but saved the rest of the pen by finishing the game (3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 1 K). Meanwhile, Xavier Nady, who is stinging the ball in blow-outs but still hitless as a Yankee when it matters, led off the seventh with a solo shot off Garland, then keyed a somewhat hopeless Yankee rally in the ninth with a lead-off single. The Yanks wound up scoring three runs off Darrens Oliver and O’Day in the ninth to make the 12-6 final look closer than the game actually was. Here’s hoping that rally carries over into tomorrow’s game.

In his Yankee debut, Ivan Rodriguez saw three Angels steal successfully against him and Pettitte and went 1 for 3 at the plate with a strikeout and a double play. Rodriguez’s one hit was a hard shot that Chone Figgins knocked down at third, but couldn’t gather in time to throw Rodriguez out. Pushed to third by a Cabrera single, Rodriguez made a deft baserunning play when Johnny Damon subsequently hit a comebacker that Darren Oliver juggled then threw wildly to second to force Melky. Rodriguez broke for home as soon as Oliver committed to his throw and made a nice outside slide around catcher Jeff Mathis, sticking his left hand in to touch home safely. The only problem is that home plate ump Ed Hickox completely blew the call, telling Rodriguez that he had missed the plate, and calling him out on a phantom 1-6-2 double play. Another bummer on a night full of them (I didn’t even mention the slack defense of Robinson Cano and Bobby Abreu, which stood in stark contrast to the play of the Angels, particularly Figgins . . . oh, I guess I just did).

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2007 Record: 94-68 (.580)
2007 Pythagorean Record: 90-72 (.558)

2008 Record: 67-40 (.626)
2008 Pythagorean Record: 59-48 (.553)

Manager: Mike Scioscia
General Manager: Tony Reagins

Home Ballpark (multi-year Park Factors): Angel Stadium

Who’s Replaced Whom:

Mark Teixeira replaces Casey Kotchman
Torii Hunter replaces Orlando Cabrera
Erick Aybar and Maicer Izturis take over most of Reggie Willits’ playing time
Juan Rivera (DL) replaces Shea Hillenbrand
Jeff Mathis inherits Jose Molina’s playing time
Ryan Budde (minors) is filling in for Mike Napoli (DL)
Jon Garland replaces Kelvim Escobar (DL)
Jose Arredondo replaces Dustin Moseley (minors)
Darren O’Day replaces Chris Bootcheck (minors)

25-man Roster:

1B – Mark Teixeira (S)
2B – Howie Kendrick (R)
SS – Maicer Izturis (S)
3B – Chone Figgins (S)
C – Jeff Mathis (R)
RF – Vladimir Guerraro (R)
CF – Torii Hunter (R)
LF – Garret Anderson (L)
DH – Juan Rivera (R)

Bench:

S – Gary Matthews Jr. (OF)
R – Robb Quinlan (3B/1B)
S – Reggie Willits (OF)
S – Erick Aybar (IF)
R – Ryan Budde (C)

Rotation:

R – John Lackey
L – Joe Saunders
R – Jon Garland
R – Ervin Santana
R – Jered Weaver

Bullpen:

R – Francisco Rodriguez
R – Scot Shields
R – Jose Arredondo
R – Justin Speier
L – Darren Oliver
R – Darren O’Day

15-day DL: R – Michael Napoli (C)
60-day DL: R – Kelvim Escobar

Typical Lineup:

S – Chone Figgins (3B)
S – Maicer Izturis (SS)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Vladimir Guerrero (RF)
R – Torii Hunter (CF)
L – Garret Anderson (LF)
R – Howie Kendrick (2B)
R – Juan Rivera (DH)
R – Jeff Mathis (C)

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Manny Over Board

According to SI.com, Manny Ramirez has been traded to the Dodgers in a three-way deal that also moves Jason Bay to Boston.  According to Ken Rosenthal:

The Pirates will receive Andy LaRoche and right-hander Bryan Morris from the Dodgers and outfielder Brandon Moss and releiver Craig Hansen from the Red Sox.

My first impression is that Boston did well for themselves.  Bay is a very good hitter who is likely to be even better with the Red Sox.  He might not be as great as Ramirez but he’s a lot younger.  He’s also cheaper–a lot cheaper.  I don’t think the drop-off is that drastic to be honest.  Looks like a solid move by a team in a tough spot. 

Still, no Manny in Boston leaves an emptiness in the Yankee-Sox rivalry. 

Movin and Shakin

Couple of new guns will be at Stadium tonight–the Angels have a new first baseman, the Yanks have a new catcher.  Be interesting to see how that impacts the Halos Annual Bomber Beatdown.  In the meantime, this afternoon is about the trade deadline.

So?  Will Manny Ramirez still be a Red Sox come this evening?

Lob it in There

Props to the New York Times for the work they’ve been doing with the Bats blog.  Last year, Bats was functional but uninspired.  This season, however, they’ve not only been updating the blog frequently, but they’ve included some terrific posts, like this one on the history of the Eephus pitch.  Absolutely monstrous post.

One of the funniest things I recall seeing in recent years came in the late summer of 2002. It was an afternoon game at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers were in town, and it was brutally hot.

El Duque had been tinkering with the old lob ball for a few games when he uncorked one to Alex Rodriguez in the first inning of an afternoon game. Rodriguez was caught off guard, and so was the ump: the pitch looked like a strike, but was called high. Rodriguez stepped out of the box, and smiled.  Duque tried it again on the very next batter, Raffie Palmerio. The pitch was in the dirt and it skipped away from Jorge Posada.

The second time Rodriguez came up, Duque threw him another floater, again for a ball. Not willing to let well enough alone, Duque thought he would fool Rodriguez by trying it again in the same at-bat (chutzpah is not something Hernandez ever lacked). So he floated another one to the plate, arching his back in an exaggerated manner that gave away his intention. Rodriguez waited, then pounced, popping the ball over the left field fence.

Joe Torre shook his head and grumbled. It was the last Eephus of the day for Hernandez, who gave up a homer in the next at-bat to Palmerio (fastball). Those were the only two times Texas scored all day, Duque settled down and pitched wonderfully and the Yanks won the game.

Of course, who can forget Dave LaRoche, throwing a true Eephus to Gorman Thomas at the Stadium back in the Eighties?

Simon Bar Sinister

I’ve always enjoyed rooting against Pudge Rodriguez.  He makes a good villain.  It starts with the eyebrows, arched in a comically sinister fashion.  Pudge is both good-looking and almost grotesque, he’s like a Warner Bros. cartoon come to life–a bona fide Taz Devil. On the field,  he’s a "winner," a guy who helped the Marlins win a World Series and later, helped put the Tigers back on the map.  He’s a Hall of Fame catcher, not just a great fielding catcher in his day, but a legendary one.  He’s also a guy who likely took performance-enhancing drugs when he was with the Rangers.  He’s never been busted, but you have to figure he just turned out to be one of the lucky ones.

Still, he’s an entertaining player to watch.  He might not be as strong defensively as Jose Molina, but he’s still a presence out there.  Plus, he’s charismatic.  I don’t think any of us would be surprised to see him collect some big hits in August and September. 

So, I’m pleased to see him on the team, warts and all.  And while I’m not sorry to see Kyle Farnsworth’s time with the Yankees come to an end, I was moved by his show of emotion yesterday.  I felt for the big lug, which is basically how GM Brian Cashman portrayed him–as a good guy.  I’ve always been so frustrated by his performance that I never paid much attention to his personality.  He wasn’t effusive with the press so it was really hard to tell if he had one.  

Now, he’s gone.  One big, bad guy out, another bad guy in. 

Hot dog.   

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

I have to hand it to Brian Cashman. For the past week, both before and after the Yankees’ acquisition of Damaso Marte, I’ve been going on about how the Yankees didn’t need another relief pitcher. It was a total waste of resources, so I argued, to trade for a reliever when the bullpen was already stacked, excelling, and backed up by major league ready reinforcements at triple-A. So what does Cashman do? He goes out and trades from that strength to fill the biggest hole on the ballclub by acquiring a legitimate starting catcher.

By now you’ve surely heard about the deal that has sent Kyle Farnsworth back to the Tigers for Ivan Rodriguez, but think of it this way: Daniel McCutchen, Jeff Karstens, Ross Ohlendorf, and Jose Tabata for Xavier Nady and Ivan Rodriguez. Suddenly that deal with Pittsburgh looks a whole lot better, doesn’t it?

Marte now replaces Farnsworth in the bullpen straight up, which has several benefits. First: no more Kyle Farnsworth. As well as Farnsworth had been pitching (2.84 ERA, 21 K in 19 IP since June 1 with a hidden no-hitter–9 IP, 0 H, 5 BB, 10 K–from June 27 to July 22), his home run rate on the season is still 2.23 HR/9, and he’s always a meatball or two away from both disaster and a return to his unreliable ways of all but the last two months of his Yankee career. To that end, the Yankees are selling high, which is what they should be doing with an inconsistent veteran like Farnsworth. If Farnsworth leaves any legacy as a Yankee, it might be that he finally got hot at exactly the right time. Second, removing Farnsworth increases the chances of Joe Girardi using Marte properly–that is, as a full-fledged set-up man who pitches for a full inning or more–rather than creating more work for his other relievers by using Marte as a LOOGY. Finally, replacing Farnsworth with Marte increases the variety of the relief corps. Both Farnsworth and seventh-inning guy Jose Veras are right-handers who throw straight cheese and sharp sliders. Replacing Farnsworth with the lefty Marte gives opponents yet another type of pitcher to contend with in addition to Veras, changeup specialist Edwar Ramirez, curveballer David Robertson, Dan Giese and his softer fastball/slider mix, and whomever winds up taking Chad Moeller’s spot on the roster tomorrow (then again, Brian Bruney is another straight cheese and sliders guy, but better to have two of those guys than three).

The final accounting on the Marte-Farnsworth substitution also works out pretty well. Their season numbers:

Farns: 3.65 ERA (113 ERA+), 44 IP, 43 K, 17 BB, 11 HR, 0 BS, 2 L
Marte: 3.67 ERA (114 ERA+), 49 IP, 51 K, 17 BB, 4 HR, 2 BS, 0 L

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Of Course You Know, This Means War

Has Manny gone too far? The rumor mill is hot with talk about Ramirez tonight, and here is what Manny told ESPN earlier today:

"The Red Sox don’t deserve a player like me," Ramirez said. "During my years here, I’ve seen how they [the Red Sox] have mistreated other great players when they didn’t want them to try to turn the fans against them.

"The Red Sox did the same with guys like Nomar Garciaparra and Pedro Martinez, and now they do the same with me. Their goal is to paint me as the bad guy," Ramirez added. "I love Boston fans, but the Red Sox don’t deserve me. I’m not talking about money. Mental peace has no price, and I don’t have peace here."

…"There are still many hours left before the trading deadline, but I doubt that they will trade me."

The Red Sox pride themselves on not being emotional when it comes to making roster moves. But Manny is really pushing the envelope, he’s really putting them on the spot, baiting them, insulting them.

Think their relationship is beyond the point of no return?  This is starting to get ugly.  Ramirez is right about one thing, though–there are an awful lot of Red Sox star players (Fisk, Lynn, Tiant, Vaughn) whose time in Boston ended on a sour note.  It’s only fitting that it end badly for Manny in Boston too. 

Alas, Poor Farnsworth!

I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite fastballs…

 

Joba Chamberlain pitched this afternoon against the Orioles’ Dennis “Who?” Safarte today, and the Yankees won 13-3, snapping their losing streak at three games. Not that three games amounts to much of a “streak,” really, but given the opponents and manner of the losses, it certainly felt like one. And sometime during the seventh inning, as you may have heard, the Yankees traded the intrepid Kyle Farnsworth for some dude named Pudge Rodriguez. Brian Cashman is a mad genius.

I’m sorry for the lateness of the recap; I got delayed at Shea, donating blood in exchange for free Mets tickets. Yes, really. I did it last year because I was writing about it, and I was going to skip it this season, but the New York Blood Center people kept sending me these increasingly desperate letters and emails with headlines like “There’s something special about your platelets!” so I finally caved.

Anyway, today’s game started off unpromisingly when the Orioles scored an unearned run off Joba in the first, on an Aubrey Huff blooper following a Robinson Cano error. The Yankees struck back right away, though, in the bottom of the inning: Jeter and Abreu walked, and Alex Rodriguez’s base hit scored two runners on an errant throw; not long after, Rodriguez scored on a passed ball.

Joba was good, again. He’s gotta be due for a real blow-up of a bad start – I mean, you would think – but fortunately it didn’t come today, in the middle of a losing streak. Things got sticky for him in the third, with a series of hits plating another run, but even there Chamberlain wasn’t getting shelled by any means. “They were aggressive early on the fastball,” Chamberlain said after the game. ”When Josie recognizes that… and our offense scores runs, it’s pretty easy.” Easy. Right. In the end Chamberlain threw 98 pitches over six innings, allowing five hits, one earned run, and once again no walks.

In the bottom of the third, Abreu, DHing for the day, knocked a two-run homer into the screen of the right field foul pole, and the Yankees never really looked back. Chamberlain settled down, not that he’d been unsettled really, and a few frames passed quietly – until, in the sixth, the Yanks started tacking on: another Abreu hit, a very bloopy Giambi bloop, a rare and fantastic first-to-third from the ‘Stache on a Cano single (watching Giambi run first-to-third is like spotting a really horribly ungainly unicorn), an Xavier Nady double, a bases-loaded walk to Damon, a bases-loaded passed ball… it was a tough day for Orioles relievers.

In the 7th, Edwar Ramirez soared a ball over Kevin Millar’s head and was immediately tossed from the game. Didn’t seem like a logical spot for retaliation, if any retaliation was even necessary — but Ramirez’s complete and utter lack of reaction to getting thrown out did raise my eyebrows. Usually pitchers at least PRETEND to be surprised in a “whoa how’d that get up there?!?!” kind of way. So who knows? But Dave Robertson and Dan Giese finished up the game with a minimum of fuss and just one additional run allowed. Abreu hit another homer, A-Rod knocked out his 23rd of the year, and even Richie Sexon got a single, scoring on Nady’s second double of the day; lucky run #13 scored on a Justin Christian grounder.

There’s already been much discussion of the Farnsworth/I-Rod trade. After the game, Farnsworth was visibly choked up, which made him seem like an empathetic, three-dimensional guy for the first time in a while; and not to promulgate outdated gender double standards or anything, but nothing gets to me like watching a tough guy cry (or, as in this case, even almost cry). Listening to Joe Girardi’s voice break when discussing Bobby Murcer’s death just killed me a few weeks back, and watching ol’ Farnsy blinking back tears had me making sympathetic distressed noises at the TV. I mean this is a guy who strides across the clubhouse in camo underwear reading gun magazines, you know?

Meanwhile, though you have to have a ton of respect for his skill, I’ve never warmed up to Ivan Rodriguez — even before the steroid allegations, he seemed suited to playing the villain, though he was always fun to watch. Maybe I was just jealous of his shapely eyebrows.

 

No, it’s hard to criticize this trade… except that I’m absolutely indignant that the Yankees never ONCE had a real brawl, not one, during Farnsworth’s entire tenure. This is a colossal waste – I mean, that’s pretty much the main reason to have Kyle Farnsworth on your team, as far as I’m concerned. A missed opportunity that will haunt the team for years.

Fudge Pudge

It was a fine afternoon in the Bronx for the home team.  We’ll have the re-cap a bit later.  But here’s something to chew on…ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Yankees have traded for Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.  Whoa.  Lo-Hud says the Tigers get Kyle Farnsworth in exchange. 

Yowza. 

Right Man for the Job

C’mon, Meat.  Keep your wits about you and John Blaze your way through the O’s.

Time for a win.

Let’s Go Yan-Kees.

Flip the Script

Dig Syreeta Wright’s version of "She’s Leaving Home." The lyrics really have a different emotional kick with a female vocal.  Syreeta is Stevie Wonder’s ex-wife; he produced the track.

 

 

Step to This

Even when he falters, Mariano Rivera’s greatness remains untarnished.  Rivera gave up a home run last night, but still reached another milestone. 

I Rock Ruff and Stuff with my Aubrey Huff

After winning eight straight, the Yankees can’t seem to get out of their own way.  They lost again to the Orioles, this time 7-6.  This one was a heartbreaker.  Not because it was such a well-played game.  But because the Yankees came back and had their chances to win but couldn’t get over the hump.  This game was a hump.  And so was Aubrey Huff. 

Darrell Rasner wasn’t that bad.  He gave up two runs through the first six innings.  But Brian Roberts led off the seventh with a base hit and then Rasner plunked Adam Jones.  Damaso Marte came in and Rasner was last seen cursing at himself in the dugout.  Nick Markakis fought off a fastball for a cheap hit. Bases juiced.

Then Aubrey Huff wacked the first pitch deep to right, but it hooked foul.  He swung through the next pitch, a fastball, then crushed the next pitch, another fastball that caught too much of the plate, into the gap in left center field, clearing the bases.  Melvin Mora doubled Huff home off the first base bag to put the Yankees down 6-1.

Daniel Cabrera pitched well…again.  But in the bottom of the seventh, he plunked Alex Rodriguez–who homered in his previous at-bat–and was thrown out of the game.  (There was no further incident).  Couple of batters later, Robinson Cano singled with the bases loaded and nobody out, scoring two and the Yanks were in business, down 6-3.  But Wilson Betemit whiffed, then Melky Cabrera lined out to center (the ball almost took off on Jones, who did a late little leap to snag it), before Xavier Nady struck out looking at a nasty breaking ball to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, the YES cameras showed a red lady bug on the right side of Mariano Rivera’s hat as he warmed up. Then freakin Aubrey Huff blasted the first pitch he saw from Rivera deep into the upper deck.  It went foul but it was closer to a homer than his shot against Marte.  Two pitches later, Huff cranked another lousy fastball over the wall in right for a dinger.  Got-to-be-kidding-meSomehow, Huff should be credited with more than just one homer, don’t you think?   

It prooved to be the difference.

George Sherrill, Baltimore’s All Star lefty, gave up a single to Johnny Damon to start the bottom of the ninth. He got ahead of Jeter 0-2, but walked him.  Bobby Abreu laced the first pitch he saw into left scoring Damon and putting runners at second and third with no out.  Rodriguez got a good hack on a breaking pitch but hooked it foul and struck out on a fastball in his kitchen.

Giambi fell behind 0-2 and then lined a 1-2 pitch up the middle.  It bounced off the mound, right past Sherrill, into left field.  Two runs in, Yanks down by one.  The “Yanks are showing some guts showing some grit,” Michael Kay said on on TV.  

Justin Christian replaced Giambi and stole second on the first pitch, a strike, to Cano.  “See that, see Michael,” Paul O’Neill said, as if he was showing Kay the goose bumps on his arm, ”That just gives me a thrill.”  Then he talked about guts as Cano struck out on three pitches.  Leaving it all up to Betemit.  Ah, Betemit.  Right-handed, no less.  What happened?

Betemit struck out and so did the Yanks.

A tough loss. Sox fell too, almost got no-hit. But the Rays won.

Joba needs to stop the bleeding tomorrow afternoon.

Million Dollar Arm, Ten Cent Head

No, not Dalkowski, the patron saint of erratic flame throwers, but Daniel Cabrera, tonight’s starting pitcher for the Orioles.  Cabrera sneers and looks sinister–unlike Dalkowski.  Drives me nuts when the Yanks are done in by the likes of this chucker.  So time for Rasner to have a good outing, and time for the Yankee offense to make mince meat out of that big goon Cabrera.

Kick em in the grill, boys.

Let’s go Yan-kees!

 

Coolin’ Out

Wino News

I’m friendly with Rob, the token booth clerk at 238th street on the 1 line. He’s in his early fifties, but you’d never tell by looking at him–he looks at least ten years younger. Rob is a big Yankee fan and is a charming, gregarious man. He’s been at 238 for three years and knows at least sixty percent of the customers that pass through the station. When I have the time, as I did last Friday afternoon, I stop and chat.

So there we were, talking about the Yankees. Rob was saying how impressed he’s been with Mussina. I told him that I hoped Moose comes close to winning twenty games this year. Then I said, “I hope Alex hits forty homers too.”

Just then, a squat, disheveled man walked into the station–which is three flights above ground level (the 1 train is elevated in the Bronx).

“Did you say you are going to hit forty homers” he said, slurring his words.

“No,” I said, now smelling the stench coming off the guy, a mixture of dried sweat and alcohol, “I said I hope A Rod hits forty.”

“Why not make it sixty?” He roared and slapped me on the shoulder, then staggered away. Rob tilted his head to the side and raised an eyebrow.

The man stood in front of the turnstiles for a few minutes. Rob and I continued our conversation, with one eye on Ned the Wino. Then we heard the sound of an approaching train. Several people, out of breath, came into the station and went through the turnstiles.

The drunk man looked ahead and said, “If only I was younger.”

He took a step back from the turnstile as the train rushed into the station, put his right hand into the back of his jeans (he was not wearing underwear) and pulled out an unopened can of Fosters. With the beer in his right hand, he lifted his left leg, as if he was going to hop the turnstiles.

Rob did not raise his voice but said, “Uh…No-no.”

The man remained frozen in the pose for a minute, as if he was a fat, washed- up wrestler about the climb into the ring. Then, defeated, he lowered his leg and placed the beer back in the crack of his ass. Then he turned around.

“I guess I’ll be walking to Staten Island,” he said as he wobbled past Rob and me out of the station.

“That’s some long walk,” said Rob.

Rob and I looked at each other and we both raised our eyebrows. Just then, a sleek young Spanish woman walked in and the foul smell was replaced by the warm scent of vanilla and feminity. Rob chatted with her, she batted her eyes, and I smiled, gazing at her narrow waist, amazed at how quickly the smell in the place changed. I was also amazed at the drunk. Why climb three flights of stairs if you aren’t going to bust out and jump the turnstiles? I couldn’t remember the last time I saw a benign, completely harmless wino like that.

Anyhow, made my day.

Yankee Stadium: A First and Last Look

Perfect grace consists not in exterior ornamentation of the substance, but in the simple fitness of its form.

I Ching

All forms of great artistic expression are paradoxes at their core. Each work of art must have some sort of underlying unifying principle. To succeed, the elements of that artwork have to both connect with that underlying principle in order for the work to cohere, and at the same defy that principle in order for the work to surprise and delight. Jazz songs, for example, typically start off with a basic melody played straight, off of which the musicians will then improvise for the remainder of the song.

When I visit a new ballpark, I love to start out by finding a place where I can stand and absorb a panorama of the ballpark. What’s this park about? What’s the melody that holds this thing together? Often, this isn’t something you intellectualize–you just get an overall feeling of the place. Once, I’ve got that sense, I like to go around and photograph all the little elements of the park that surprise and delight me.

Last Sunday, I made my first and only lifetime visit to Yankee Stadium. My usual modus operandi was thrown off from the start, as I was informed by Cliff Corcoran that if I want to see Monument Park, I should go straight there as soon as the gates open, or I won’t get in to see it at all. So my first impression of Yankee Stadium was not a panorama, but a crowded throng of humanity being led by ushers with bullhorns up and down and around and through narrow, low-ceiling ramps and barricaded corridors in a 95-degree heat:

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The Dirty Let Down

Last night Mike Mussina had nothing, David Robertson had less, and the Yankee offense apparently missed the plane home from Boston. After five and a half innings, the Yankees had put just three men on base against Jeremy Guthrie on a single (promptly erased by a Derek Jeter double play), a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. The Orioles, meanwhile, had scored 11 runs off Mussina and Robertson, the key hits being consecutive second-inning home runs by Kevin Millar and Ramon Hernandez and an RBI triple by Adam Jones in the fifth off Mussina and a grand slam by Jones off Robertson (the first home run Robertson has allowed in his 148 1/3 professional innings) in the sixth.

The Yankees finally mounted a threat with two outs in the sixth, loading the bases on another single, another walk, and another hit-by-pitch, but Guthrie struck out Jason Giambi to end the inning. Xavier Nady finally broke through with a solo homer in the seventh, his first Yankee hit and Guthrie’s last pitch of the night. Johnny Damon added a three-run shot off reliever Lance Cormier later in the inning, but that was all the Yankees would get, while the O’s would tag on two more in the eighth on a two-run jack by Aubrey Huff off Kyle Farnsworth. Final score: 13-4.

The big news of the night, however, was word that, after conferring with the team, Jorge Posada has decided to have his shoulder surgery. Both Posada and Brian Cashman indicated that the acquisition of Nady was what allowed them to finally make that decision, which is a not insignificant mark in that trade’s favor. “As difficult as it is,” Posada said in a statement, “I can focus on coming back 100 percent for next season instead of coming back at less than that now.” Said Brian Cashman, “It’s just the obvious way to go.”

In other injury news, Hideki Matsui donned a new knee brace and took 20 swings off a tee followed by five swings against soft toss. He’s hoping to be able to start a rehab assignment in a week or two. Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano (yes, I said it) were scheduled to pitch two innings a piece for the Gulf Coast League Yankees last night, but the game was rained out. They’ll try again tonight with low-A Charleston. Also, Shelley Duncan is taking batting practice in Tampa, and Eric Milton is scheduled to throw batting practice.

In minor league news, Alan Horne came off the DL to pitch for Scranton last night and got lit up. Chris Britton and Brian Bruney both pitched in relief. Britton allowed two of the runners he inherited from Horne to score, but didn’t allow any runs of his own over three innings while striking out five. Bruney threw one pitch, hit former Yankee farmhand Randy Ruiz in the back of the head, and got ejected. Also, Mark Melancon and Chase Wright have been promoted to triple-A, lefty reliever Wilkins Arias has been promoted to double-A, and Steven White’s fall continues as he’s been demoted to double-A Trenton.

Baltimore Orioles IV: Let Down Edition

Having had their eight-game winning streak snapped last night by a lop-sided loss to the Red Sox, the Yankees have to be careful not to suffer a let-down against the lowly Orioles tonight. Being back at the Stadium and having Mike Mussina on the mound should help with that. Moose has a 1.41 ERA over his last five starts and has struck out 31 against just three walks and no homers in that stretch. Then again, his one start against his former team this season was one of the worst of his career as he was unable to compensate for a first-inning error by Derek Jeter and wound up allowing seven runs and getting the hook before the O’s made their third out.

He takes on Jeremy Guthrie, who has been far and away the O’s best starter this year. Guthrie has alternated starts of four or more runs allowed and starts of two or fewer runs allowed since June 7, but hasn’t allowed more than five runs in a game since March. If the pattern holds, he’ll allow four or more tonight, but we saw how well that worked with Jon Lester last night.

The Orioles lost their last series in the Bronx 2-1, but are 4-2 against the Yankees in Baltimore. The Yanks haven’t seen the Orioles since late May, but the team hasn’t changed much. They’ve rotated through a number of replacement-level shortstops, most recently settling on Juan Castro, but the rest of the lineup remains the same. The O’s do have a nine-man bullpen right now (along with a three-man bench and a four-man rotation following the recent demotion of Radhames Liz), but they’ve made no notable additions to their relief corps.

The top of the O’s lineup is solid with Brian Roberts now being followed by Adam Jones (a singles-heavy .305/.344/.416 since late May, but already starting to make the Erik Bedard trade look good for Baltimore), Nick Markakis, and a rejuvenated Aubrey Huff (.293/.354/.533 with 20 homers on the season). In fact, the O’s have six players in double-digits in home runs (Huff, Luke Scott with 18, Markakis and fifth-place hitter Melvin Mora with 15, Yankee Killer Kevin Millar with 14, and catcher Ramon Hernandez with 11). Of course, Mora and Hernandez have done very little beyond hit home runs, but Scott and Millar add some extra pop and patience in the six and seven holes. Huff’s the real threat, though. Always something of a second-half hitter, he’s hit .348/.400/.626 since June 1 and something very close to that since the second half began. Expect to see Joe Girardi deploy Damaso Marte against him as Huff loses more than 200 points of OPS when a lefty is on the mound. I just hope Girardi has the good sense to use Marte for more than just that one hitter.

No surprises in the lineup tonight with a righty on the mound and Xavier Nady having settled in as the left-fielder and seventh-place hitter, nor on the transaction wire.

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