"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Fall Training

Before Robinson Cano’s seventh-inning grand slam blew it open, Monday’ night’s 8-2 Yankee win over the Royals was a nice little ballgame. Chad Gaudin walked Mitch Maier to start the game, then retired eight straight before Maier came back around and pulled a ball just inside the right-field line the first Royals hit of the game. The Yankees broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth on a double by Cano and singles by Jorge Posada and Eric Hinske, who made his first start at third base as a Yankee amid a bench-heavy, post-clincher lineup that included Ramiro Peña at shorstop, Juan Miranda at first base, Francisco Cervelli behind the plate (Posada was the DH), and Shelley Duncan in right field.

Mark Teahen got the Royals on the board by leading off the fifth with a game-tying opposite-field solo shot of Gaudin. Cervelli led off the fifth with a single, but was thrown out at second when Ramiro Peña failed to hold up his end of a hit-and-run (he got the sign, but missed the pitch). Peña then went from goat to hero on the next pitch, which he got under and lifted to the front row in right field for a Yankee Stadium homer, the first tater of Peña’s young career.

In a game that otherwise meant very little, the Yankee dugout’s reaction to Peña’s homer was the highlight. As soon as the bench began to celebrate, Alex Rodriguez jumped into action to organize the popular silent treatment often given to rookies following their first career homer (you might remember the Phillies giving it to John Mayberry Jr. at the stadium earlier this year). Alex grabbed the celebrating Jeter by his hoodie and dragged him back to his perch behind the dugout screen, then waived the others back to their seats. Jeter and company instantly complied, sporting devilish grins as they took their places.

When Peña got to home plate, he received a dispassionate fist-bump from on-deck hitter Brett Gardner and from Melky Cabrera in the on-deck circle, but was ignored by his teammates as he entered the dugout. Joe Girardi couldn’t resist giving the rookie a high-five, but the others sat stone-faced as Peña put away his helmet and gloves. Then Jorge Posada clapped as if to cheer on Gardner, which was the signal for the team to swarm Peña. It was a great moment, captured beautifully by the YES cameras. I’m among those who believes that winning begets team chemistry, not the other way around, but it’s hard not to be impressed and enthused by the cohesiveness and amicability of this Yankee team. There seems to be genuine affection and good humor in that clubhouse, moreso even than on the business-like teams of the late-90s dynasty.

Peña’s homer gave the Yankees a brief 2-1 lead. The Royals answered back in the top of the sixth, tying the game on a Yuniesky Betancourt single, Billy Butler’s 51st double of the year, and a Mike Jacobs sac fly. The Yanks then returned serve again in the bottom of the sixth on a Posada double ultimately plated by a Shelly Duncan single. A Cervelli double in the seventh plated by a Peña single and Cano’s slam, all off Royals starter Luke Hochevar, put the game away in the seventh.

Gaudin turned in the best and deepest start of his Yankee career (6 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K) and now feels like a lock for the postseason roster. Damaso Marte, who retired Alex Gordon to finish the seventh for Gaudin, helped his cause as well, as did Freddy Guzman, who pinch-ran for Duncan in the sixth and stole second on the first pitch to Miranda. Cervelli and Peña combined to go 4-for-8, each with a single and an extra-base hit. Peña drove in two. Shelley Duncan drove in another after striking out and grounding into a double play and held Maier to a single on his hit down the line in the third with a strong throw to second. Hinske had an RBI single, but didn’t get a chance to field a grounder at third base (just three pop ups). All surely benefited from facing the lowly Royals, but given that these final six games are like a brief spring-training period for the postseason, it’s nice to see the borderline players making their cases. Speaking of which, David Robertson could return to action Tuesday night, and Jerry Hairston Jr. will take batting practice as both try to prove they’re healthy enough to make the ALDS roster.

Meanwhile, potential ALDS opponents the Twins and Tigers were rained out in Detroit, resulting in a Tuesday day/night double-header which could knot the division if the Twins pull off an unlikely sweep against Morristown, NJ’s Rick Porcello and Detroit ace Justin Verlander. Down in Atlanta, former Tiger Jair Jurrjens pitched the Braves to their seventh-straight win, bringing them within two games of the idle Rockies in the still-interesting NL Wild Card race.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 thelarmis   ~  Sep 29, 2009 12:48 am



congrats to El Nino on Home Run numero uno!!!

oh, and great write-up, Cliff. but that's always a given... : )

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 29, 2009 12:49 am

Just watched this week's Kim Jones-hosted Joe Girardi show. It was pleasant, snappy, and informative. Jones should host that show every week.

3 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Sep 29, 2009 1:16 am

[2] Who hosts it now? Can't imagine anyone on YES asking probing Qs..

[1] thelarmis, got some jazz on this evening, going to see the 10,000 record man at his cafe!

4 Eddie Lee Whitson KO   ~  Sep 29, 2009 1:31 am

[1] Go RAIN in DETROIT!!!!

So much love on for this team right now....just wanna see them crush the ALDS, and go from there. Does appear we're a few life boats short to take everyone we want to, resulting in good, hard choices.

5 thelarmis   ~  Sep 29, 2009 2:01 am

[4] well, this means double header tomorrow and that means Mauer can play only 1 game. i'd still rather face the Twinkies than Verlander, Cabrera & Company.

if the Bravos didn't punt their outfield for so long to begin the season, they'd be in much better shape. i'd love for them to make the postseason. sad thing is, even if they did, i don't think anyone in the damn town would give much of a shit...

[3] nice, man. i've been spinning my new Three Sounds cd's. it's really nice stuff!

6 thelarmis   ~  Sep 29, 2009 2:02 am

i read both parts of Hank's very long interview with that Hano guy. i had no clue who he was, but it was an excellent read. i've also enjoyed Hank's West Coast write-ups here at the Banter!

7 Paul   ~  Sep 29, 2009 7:25 am

[3] Kay. Ugh.

I agree completely on Jones. What a treat she is. Watching her during the clubhouse celebration I really came to admire her. She was well-prepared (and/or quick on her feet) with good questions for the moment and she has a great attitude with genuine laughter when she got doused. It dawned on me that she probably has to work twice as hard to get the same respect of her peers and I found myself wishing the Yanks would upgrade the radio booth with someone of her caliber.

8 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2009 8:12 am

[3] I think they rotate hosts on the Joe Girardi Show. I've seen Kay, Jones, and I think Nancy Newman hosting it. They all do a good job. It's not all lollipop questions. They know that would make the show a waste of time. Girardi definitely does not come across as the dolt some here believe he is.

[7] Kim Jones did the Seattle series last week while Suzyn celebrated Rosh Hashanah. I only caught a little bit of it, but Ms. Jones is very good. I don't mean this in a sexist way at all, but she's as easy on the ears as she is on the eyes. Strong broadcasting voice, insightful, knowledgable, not abrasive at all. I wouldn't be surprised to see her getting more prominent gigs in the future. For now, if she wanted to, she could easily replace Pete Abe as the go-to blogger for "breaking news" and clubhouse insights.

9 Paul   ~  Sep 29, 2009 8:28 am

[8] On Girardi, when I watch that show I hope he's the manager for a long, long time. If his only quirk is bunting a tad too much, we're in very safe hands. Of course the crowd that wants him replaced hasn't ever offered a a better alternative (or objective evidence that he should be, for that matter). Donnie Baseball ain't it. Nor is Pinella. Not Showalter. Or Valentine. Neither Pena. And surely not Hillman. For a guy with very little experience, he's pushed almost all of the right buttons this year (even as they outperformed last year).

On Jones, I said all that knowing that some find her attractive. But she's not my type. I'm truly impressed apart from her mammary glands. I wish I had known about her in the radio booth. I would have listened to see how she handled that schmaltzy blowhard. But then he's usually on his best behavior with new partners. The worst thing the Yankees ever did was break up Kay and Sterling. Their egos were perfect counterweights.

Not for nothing, but PeteAbe has a radio face. And his attitude is often piss poor. He's done riding A-Rod and so now it's Robbie and RISP. Let's see if the snark continues when he's covering his family's favorite team.

10 OldYanksFan   ~  Sep 29, 2009 8:30 am

Detroit is in 1st place with a whoping .535 Winning %age, and a very weak +9 Run differential. Hard to believe this team could beat us.

11 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2009 8:39 am

[9] Pete's occasional/frequent (depending on your perspective) tweaking of certain players washes right over me. I go there for his info, and updates, which we all appreciate. I've found his insights and analysis more valuable than others here have - and to me, he's come across as anything but a Yankee hater. I think his benign brand of snark will continue in his hometown. He'll tweak certain players. Some Red Sox fans won't mind, and others will take offense, but at the end of the day he'll be providing them with good, fresh info.

12 RIYank   ~  Sep 29, 2009 8:44 am

Having to rest Mauer for the second game of a double header isn't as costly as you might think. He'll DH, so what it really means is that you replace Brendan Harris with Jose Morales (the backup C). Let's just say this isn't as costly as replacing Matsui with Molina in our line-up.

13 Paul   ~  Sep 29, 2009 8:52 am

[11] I agree with all of that. But still, Robbie? The kid is having a better season than the one that gave the midget an MVP. He's going to approach 80 XBHs. His defense is solid. And they're paying him peanuts.

Sure, Abraham will take easy swipes at the likes of Varitek and Drew. But will he dig into the numbers to show how Fenway makes Ellsbury look like a MLB-hitter? Or point out that joke of a bandbox gives the whole offense 100 points in OPS?

14 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:07 am

[13] heh. no, no, no - he won't be as blunt as that. He knows Red Sox fans would rather sweep those kinds of inconvenient truths under the rug. He also knows he'd be hanged in Yawkey Way for uttering such blasphemy in Boston.

back to Bronx baseball: if the Yanks win the next two they'll finish with a home record of 58-23. The '98 Yanks were 62-19 in the Bronx.

Cliff has posted on the upcoming schedule sidebar that Pettitte is pitching Game 2. Of course Girardi has not revealed his postseason rotation, but does anyone but me (I've been asking this for almost a week now) think Burnett should get Game 2? Home/road splits suggest AJ should go before Pettitte. Does anyone but me think Joba should get the Game 4 start in the Division Series? I wouldn't put that in ink until seeing what he does in his last start, but I'm leaning that way.

15 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:08 am

While basking in the glory of this glorious season, how about some self-derecating humo from the Onion? Here goes: DEREK JETER HONORED FOR HAVING FEWER HITS THAN HAROLD BAINES. Classic. I won't link, but you can find it easily enough.

16 Boatzilla   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:09 am

Dunno about yous, but I want 106 victories.

17 RIYank   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:13 am

[14] You're not alone on either count. I'd go with Burnett in game two because of the two pitchers' Home/Road splits, and at the moment I have a strong preference for the short series with Joba throwing the fourth game. One reason (I mentioned this yesterday early in the game thread) is that I worry about what the long series would do to our rotation for the ALCS. The goal is to win the WS, after all, not to win the Division Series.

18 Paul   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:17 am

[14] I'm with you based on those splits. Pitch AJ at home. Plus, Game 3 in the short series seems more pivotal. If they're up 2-0 I'd rather have Pettitte to step on the throat. If they're down 2-0 (God forbid) I'd rather have Andy to save the season. If they're tied 1-1 I'd rather have Andy. Plus, there's also the bit about throwing the lefties back-to-back.

I know Andy deserves the second start. But it would be better for the team if they pushed him to game three.

I'd love to hear from Cliff the contrary argument.

19 The Hawk   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:21 am

Great recap. The bit about Pena's home run is well-described.

20 The Hawk   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:29 am

I've come around to pitching Joba in the ALDS, ALCS or World Series, Greinke willing. I like the dice roll of it. Like we're so great we're gonna throw this mediocre kid at you and see what happens.

21 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:30 am

[17] yeah, RI, and hat tip to you for pointing out Pett's splits the other day.

[18] I think Cliff's thinking Joba's in the pen for the DS, and that if it comes down to a Game 5 he'd rather see Andy than AJ. I just think the home/road splits shouldn't be ignored. Burnett's much more comfortable at home, he's been the #2 all season - why mess with his head? Put him in the best position to win.

22 Sliced Bread   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:41 am

[20] funny way of putting it, but yeah, it takes balls, and big fuzzy dashboard dice to have faith in Joba. But the kid came up big against the Red Sox the other night. I can see him rollin big again - enough so that I'd give him the ball even in a hostile environment. Everybody's on a short leash next month, and we've got the bullpen to back him up.

23 The Hawk   ~  Sep 29, 2009 9:47 am

[22] Figure if it works out it could do wonders for his fragile eggshell psyche.

24 Paul   ~  Sep 29, 2009 10:38 am

Wow, sure gets quiet around here when the team is doing well. I like it!

25 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 29, 2009 10:45 am

My thinking is that the current rotation has Pettitte lined up to pitch Game 2. Nothing more.

26 Paul   ~  Sep 29, 2009 10:56 am

[25] Thanks. Any preference one way or the other?

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