"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

The Gambler

Sergio Mitre leaves in the fifth inning (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)Kenny Rogers started three games for the Yankees in the 1996 postseason and lasted just seven innings total while allowing 11 runs, but the Yankees won all three of those games on their way to the championship. Sergio Mitre hasn’t been nearly as bad in his four Yankees starts as Rogers was in the ’96 postseason, but given his 7.50 ERA, it’s amazing that the Yankees have gone 3-1 in games Mitre has started.

Mitre got off to a good start Wednesday night, striking out the first two men he faced, but he hung a pitch to Adam Lind which, fortunately, resulted in a mere single. Lyle Overbay and Vernon Wells then delivered ground-ball singles that plated Lind and Alex Rios dropped a broken-bat single into shallow center to plate Overbay and give the Blue Jays a 2-0 lead.

The Yanks got that back in the third when Jerry Hairston Jr., starting at third base for DH Alex Rodriguez, led off with a walk and scored on singles by Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon. Jeter took third on the throw home, just beating out Overbay’s cut-off throw, the scored when Edwin Encarnacion double-clutched on a would-be double-play ball from Mark Teixeira, allowing Tex to beat the pivot throw to first.

Mitre and Jays rookie Marc Rzepczynski (pronounced zep-CHIN-ski, as it turns out) held the 2-2 tie in place until the bottom of the fifth, when Adam Lind crushalated a Mitre changeup to right field to make it 3-2 Jays.  After Overbay followed with a single, Joe Girardi popped out of the dugout and took the ball from Mitre, who gave up three runs on eight hits and a pair of walks in 4 1/3 innings.

That’s how Joe Torre’s ’96 Yankees won those Kenny Rogers games. Torre got Rogers out quickly and let his bullpen and offense do their jobs. Wednesday night, Alfred Aceves relieved Mitre and retired the first five men he faced setting up a four-run top of the seventh by the Yankee offense.

Nick Swisher led off that frame with a game-tying home run into the Toronto bullpen. Robinson Cano followed with a double to the wall in right-center that bounced Rzepczynski in favor of deadline acquisition Josh Roenicke. After failing to get a bunt down on Roenicke’s high-90s fastball, Melky Cabrera got a curve and pulled it to second base to move Cano to third on an out. Hideki Matsui then hit for Hairston and chopped a single in front of Joe Inglett in left field to plate Cano with the go-ahead run. Roenicke then walked Jose Molina and Matsui and Molina scored on ensuing singles by Damon and Teixeira, thanks in part to Jays catcher Rod Barajas bobbling the throw home on Damon’s hit and allowing Molina to go to third.

Up 6-3, Aceves gave up a solo shot to Marco Scutaro in the seventh, then yielded to Phil Coke, who got the last two outs of the inning. After the Yankees plated another Cano double via a pair of fly balls to right (by Melky and pinch-hitter Eric Hinske), Phil Hughes worked a scoreless eighth. Johnny Damon then hit a leadoff homer off Brian Tallett in the top of the ninth, expanding the lead to four runs and giving the ninth inning to David Robertson, who pitched around a Scutaro single to nail down the 8-4 win.

With that the Yankees swept the Blue Jays, finished with a winning record on the road trip, and gained a game over Boston and enter this weekend’s four-game death match with a 2.5-game lead in the East and an active three-game winning streak. But don’t count your money when you’re sitting at the table. There’ll be time enough for counting when the dealing’s done.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 1:46 am

i'll be very happy if we go 3-1 in the series showdown.

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 6, 2009 1:48 am

[1] is there anyone here who wouldn't?

3 monkeypants   ~  Aug 6, 2009 1:57 am

[1] Yes, that would be most acceptable.

[0] Cliff, lots of Mitre discussion on the last game thread. What are your thoughts? Does he (should he) get another start? If not, who's next (Igawa, Towers, Ortiz)?

4 Rich   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:00 am

To quote the late Jim Valvano:

"Survive and advance."

5 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:01 am

Kenny Rogers..I believe he inspired (and appeared in) not one but TWO tv mini-series based on his songs. "The Gambler" and "Coward of the County"...without checking imdb.com, I will wager that I am correct!

note: I hate Kenny Rogers and have no interest in his career..just some old tv trivia attained in my youth...

[3] He can't get another start..this is not a guy ilke Smoltz who at least has some track record of being very good! Give Igawa a shot..and have the bullpen in full SOS mode just in case?

6 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:09 am

[5] i believe you are a fan of Kenny Rogers - both the pitcher AND musician!!! ; )

7 Rich   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:10 am

When I think of Kenny Rogers, I recall his testimony in the Harry Chapin wrongful death lawsuit (probably over 20 years ago) on the issue of damages. He testified that he his income was $30 million a year.

I don't think the Yankees have a better alternative not named Hughes than Mitre, but if they want to try Igawa, I would be fine with it.

8 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:11 am

[6] I have been outed! Have to change my handle now to MR. OK Light-Country-Pop TOKYO!

[7] $30million?? That's a lot of islands in the stream..

9 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:22 am

[8] fucking hilarious!!!

[7] i happen to make $30 million a month. i teach A LOT of drum lessons!!! ; )

in all seriousness, Harry Chapin's father, Jim, is one of THE greatest and most important drummers in the history of the world!!! i've had the enormous honor of meeting him on many occasions and doing some non-formal studying with him.

i, too, would be fine with giving Igawa another shot. Quest II !!!

10 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:27 am

[9] Harry Chapin..master of the "story-song"...not really up my alley..(now that I mention it, Kenny Rogers too ias a master of the story-song!)

Igawa..even mentioning it as a "possibility" makes me question whether this is a championship-caliber team..how can there be such a black hole at the #5 spot??

11 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:34 am

[10] how big would the news be by you if Igawa got a start with us?

i also know that you love Jim Croce! ; )

12 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:39 am

[11] Hey, you don't mess around with Jim...my elder sisters were huge "singer-songwriter" fans, lots of Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Billy Joel and James Taylor in our house growing up..obviosuly, I had to seek out the funnky, jazz shit by myself when I was older..

I'm not sure how "big" the news would be, maybe more wistful sadness at Igawa being banished to AAA for so long..on his $25million contract...

13 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:44 am

[12] HA!!! i knew that would get you! : )

truth be told, i'm a fan of all 4 guys you mentioned, esp. Billy Joel. my brother got me into Metal. my pop was - and is - all about Bob Dylan and The Beatles. i had to get into Classical, Jazz, Latin, Funk, etc. on my own...

i dig a lot of singer-songwriter stuff and have worked with those types of artists a ton, the last dozen years...

14 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:48 am

[13] I won't turn off those guys if it's on the radio but..in general, I prefer my tunes to have more beat! Oh, and Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" (song AND video) are crimes against humanity..

you going to be around for all the Boston games? I will miss Friday night's!

15 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:51 am

[14] i like older Billy Joel. but i have a good story - don't worry, i won't share it here! - about playing snare drum to "Uptown Girl", as the section leader, in 5th Grade!!!

i have a James Taylor greatest hits cd and don't own any Croce or Chapin. i know - and like - a few tunes each, and enjoyed playing them, but that's it...

i should be around for the Thursday and Sunday games. Friday, i might be here for the 2nd half, depends on practicing and stuff. Saturday, i will definitely miss, as i'll be outta state on a gig...

16 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:53 am

hey, Jazz Tokyo - check out this flyer!


17 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 2:57 am

[16] Man, that's awesome!! And for only $12?? Hope you will have it recorded and up on Myspace and Youtube asap! Congrats on getting that trio back together, it's going to be a regular thing agian?

18 thelarmis   ~  Aug 6, 2009 3:02 am

[17] thanks, man! well, i sure hope it stays together!!! it wouldn't be "regular", but hopefully it'll still exist. it's really up to how the keyboard players' life is going. oh, i am sure this will be recorded - both audio and visual. we're also about finished compiling a full database of our entire back catalog from our halcyon days. i can't wait to get a hold of some of that material!!!

we made the show non-smoking, which rules! i can also have under 21 students come in, as long as they're with a parent/guardian.

19 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Aug 6, 2009 3:11 am

[18] Great, be sure to send out the video links after the gig.

Almost quitting time here, fireworks, beer and snacks outside tonight, me and the family all dressed in our summer yukatas (Japanese summer kimonos). Chat during the game tomorrow, Joba is going to be a monster fir sure!

20 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 6, 2009 7:03 am

[15] Older Billy Joel is the BEST. Emotion to the max. Captain Jack. Billy the Kid. Angry Young man. New York State of Mind. Great, great stuff. Saw him live 3 years ago. Outrageous! Some jamming, kicking ass, but it was all perfectly mixed and studio quality sound.

I went to Hawthorne College in Antrim NH. I 'accepted' their offer (they were in desparate need of money) if I could bring up my kit, and have a private place to practice. They gave me the key to the 'Chapel', a small building used as the Music room.

My best bud Rob, also from LI, was a soleful singer/guitarist. He was pretty popular, as he had a never ending supply of Quaaludes, which he ate for breakfast and lunch. I would go to his room, he would dose us all on a lude, and then play and sing while I tapped out the rhythm.

One of Rob's 'groupies' was a nice little girl named Amy. She would always be there for our jam/lude sessions. One day she was commenting on 'how good' we sounded.

"You 2 are REALLY good" she said. "I have a cousin on LI who is putting together a band. Maybe you guys should jam with him"
"OK" says I. "We will just pack up all our gear and drive 200 miles just so we can jam with your cousin".
"No really" say Amy. "He plays piano and is really good. I think he's like professional quality. People say he's gonna make it big"
"Sure" says I. "We ALL have a cousin on LI who is a budding famous musician".
"No REALLY" says Amy.
"Maybe tomorrow" says I, "But thanks for your help, Amy Joel".

(P.S. Amy's cousin Billy was specifically looking for a drummer).

21 The Mick536   ~  Aug 6, 2009 7:29 am

Why put Alex back in the game? How bad could Hairston be at third?

22 Sliced Bread   ~  Aug 6, 2009 8:36 am

[20] heh. Great story. It might comfort you to know Billy's longtime drummer recently sued him over royalties. Says "Only The Good Die Young" was a dirge before he snazzed it up with the snare. As a bonus aside: he went to my high school which was a great source of pride to my townsfolk back in Billy's heyday.

23 Dimelo   ~  Aug 6, 2009 8:42 am

Just win today, that's all I want. I'm 100% positive I'll say the same thing tomorrow, and the next day after that, and so on.

Let's just get this one win today and get some momentum.

24 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 6, 2009 8:51 am

Some sad news on the Fenway front. From ESPN:
Red Sox left fielder Jason Bay re-injured his right hamstring Wednesday night and expects to miss at least the first two games of Boston's upcoming series against the New York Yankees.

"It doesn't feel real bad," Bay said after the Red Sox lost 6-4 to the Tampa Bay Rays. "Anytime you can't play, you feel like you let your teammates down."

Bay returned to the lineup after missing two games with a mildly strained hamstring. But he left the game after aggravating the injury running out a grounder in the eighth inning.
Can VM play LF? Nick Green anyone?

25 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 6, 2009 8:59 am

[22] It's funny.... I didn't put it together for over a decade. I was hanging with mu best bud Dave (not Rob) whom I also met at Hawthorne. We were listening to some Billy Joel albums when Dave reminisced that we went to school with Billy's first cousin.

"We did?"
"Yeah. Little Amy. Little Amy Joel"
I then got one of those terrible body rushes that you get when your blowing a joint in the car and you see blue lights in your rearview mirror.

"Amy Joel? Amy JOEL? Amy Joel was really BILLY''s COUSIN????"
(where was my Seppuku sword?)

26 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:02 am

[24] I actually was saddened by that. I want to see these two teams battling it out at full strength (and have the Yankees come away victorious, of course). I don't want any excuses on either side. Bay was their most dangerous hitter early in the year, losing him taints things a bit.

27 Raf   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:06 am

[21] Matsui PH for Hairston, so Rodriguez had to go into the field, losing the DH.

I see nothing wrong with giving Mitre another start. Same caveats as last time, if he starts to get hit hard, yank him. I don't see anything wrong with Igawa or Josh Towers getting a start either.

28 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:07 am

[26] Gee.... you're right. Let's even things up a bit. Let's put our best sinker ball pitcher on the DL..... and we'll give ARod a bad hip.

29 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:15 am

[27] I'm not a Mitre fan, but if you look at how hard he was hit yesterday, it wasn't that hard. It's hard to fault a guy why he gives up ground ball base hits and a few bloops.

I always find it funny that ARod can hit a rocket right to the third baseman that turns into a DP. Then we say ARod sucks.
Jeter can then hit a 20 hopper that just squeezes through the infield and we exclaim "My Captain!!!!!"

While as fans we have to be focused on outcome, but an aweful lot of the game is really random luck... good or bad. RCNB. It's what gives baseball it drama.

30 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:17 am

[28] Well, Wang and Matsuzaka are both likely done for the year and both third basemen (Rodriguez and Lowell) have bad hips, so yeah, pretty even, actually.

On Mitre, I see no harm in running him out again. He hasn't been awful save for the start in Chicago. I think only Hughes would be an improvement and that's a long way from happening.

31 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:26 am

[26] I don't care if the Red Sox show up with St. Mary's campfire girls. Arod missed some of the earlier games and I didn't notice much of a taint (it certainly didn't bother me less). The name of the game is winning, so if Bay's absence makes that possible, so be it.

32 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:28 am

As for Mitre, I hope he has thrown his last pitch as a Yankee. They have won inspite of him. Instead of tempting fate, they need to move on with Plan B (or C or D).

33 monkeypants   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:31 am

[30] Maybe I need to adjust my expectations, 'cuz I have a hard time seeing him as anything but awful. Even if we exclude his Chicago start, his line is 14.2 INN, 25 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 6.13 ERA.

Low walks are nice, but it's hard for me to write off 25 hits in 14.2 innings (let alone his actual four game line of 32 hits in 18 innings!!) as "bad luck" [29].

He's been pretty bad, it seems to me.

34 hoppystone   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:37 am

[20] Oops! A big part of showbiz is missing the boat(s).

[22] Hey, Matthew Fisher sued Procol Harum for not crediting him as a composer (for the organ licks on 'Whiter Shade Of Pale') nearly 40 years after the fact, and won big. Why not Lib DeVito? (except he'd have to prove it).
OYF, that coulda been YOU!

thelarmis: GREAT poster! You'll have a ball on that gig. Make SURE you record it somehow!

I have no sadness whatsoever about Bay missing some of these games.

And 'Russ Ortiz' is clearly the answer to everything else.

35 ms october   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:48 am

while mitre's first 2 starts with nothing to write home about, i think they were "acceptable" - he was getting a lot of ground balls (13 for each game) and only walked 1 batter in the first game (none the second)

in his last 2 starts he got fewer ground balls - 7 against the cws, 8 against tor and walked 2 in each game

it is the fewer ground balls and extra walks that concern me. his stuff is so mediocre he has little margin for error.

(note: these numbers were compiled in 24, 22, 15, and 20 batters faced)

oh and btw of all the yankee pitching "failures" of the last decade i think i despise keeny rogers the most - maybe jeff weaver edges him out but those two top my list

36 Bama Yankee   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:50 am

Speaking of Kenny Rogers...I have to post a link to my feeble attempt from 2006 at a Gambler parody song.
For the record, that attempt made me appreciate song writers (especially parody song writers) a lot more. It looked easy until I tried it.

37 monkeypants   ~  Aug 6, 2009 9:57 am

[33, et al]

In fact, let's contextualize Mitre's awfulness a little more, playing around with the league data provided by baseball-reference. According to BR, there have been 106 AL pitchers to start 4 or more games this season. Mitre's current 7.50 ERA ranks him 100 out of 106. Even if we give him a free pass for the start against the CWS, his 6.13 ERA would rank around 87 out 106.

Let that sink in. The NY Yankees are continuing to give starts to a pitcher who would rank almost dead last in the AL for pitchers with 4 or more starts, and who would rank in about the 80th percentile even if we take out his worst start.

There has to be someone...anyone...who can do as well or better SOMEWHERE in the organization.

38 monkeypants   ~  Aug 6, 2009 10:02 am

[37, et al] Oh, and for good measure:

Sergio "Mr. Unlucky" Mitre's 2.06 WHIP ranks 104th out of 106 pitchers who have started 4 or more games in the AL. 104th. Third from worst.

39 williamnyy23   ~  Aug 6, 2009 10:03 am

[35] You have to consider the competition. Chicago, Baltimore and Oakland are all below average offenses with OPS+ of 94, 94 and 91, respectively. Still, his results were pretty bad. Some have argued that Mitre has actually been unlucky, but I actually think the opposite. His "stuff" looks so hittable that I think he has gotten off easy. With Toronto set to get a second crack at him, I think his next start could get ugly. I'd much rather just try someone else than keep beating my head against the wall.

40 jonnystrongleg   ~  Aug 6, 2009 10:09 am

mitre's sucking is nothing new for the yanks to contend with. this spot in the rotation has been gotten pure excrement since the second game of the season (wang, hughes, aceves, mitre) - 21 starts, 90 innings, 82 Earned runs. And they're 11-10 in those 21 games.

credit to the offense and the bullpen for turning this spot into a decent result.

41 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 6, 2009 10:10 am

[26] Cliff, Bay's been pretty bad the last couple of months: .217/.348/.370 since June 1. The OBP is not bad, but the rest - ouch.

From the "What if" department: what if the Yanks had won just 2 of the 8 games they've already played against Boston? They'd be up 6.5 games now on the Sox.

In any case, a big win in this series and it puts some big distance between the Yanks and the Sox. And if Tampa Bay does their part and sweeps Seattle . . .

[20] I recall you telling that story before, OYF. I hope you don't kick yourself too much over it.

42 ms october   ~  Aug 6, 2009 11:53 am

[39] i agree william (and i think said as much in the game thread last night), mitre is not unlucky - he is just quite hittable

[41] good point shaun - i was about to look it up, but bay has not done much the last few months - i think some were attributing it to his knee - and his of play is horrendous (uzr -15.3).
i thought the yanks should have sweetened the offer to the pirates to get him rather than nady/marte last year - boy was i wrong!!

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