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Texas Rangers II: Small Sample

Only three teams in baseball have a better record than the American League West-leading Texas Rangers. The Yankees, who have the game’s best record, are of course one of them, which makes this week’s two game set in Arlington both very compelling and simultaneously disappointingly brief. That’s now further complicated by the fact that Mark Teixeira is currently on paternity leave from the team in anticipation of the birth of his third child. So as much as we might like to build up this series, I don’t think we can consider it a true playoff preview.

Still, the Yankees haven’t played the Rangers since the second week of the season, so this will be a chance for Yankee fans–not to mention their players, coaches and scouts–to get a good look at a potential playoff rival. That the Yankees will get, as they’ll be facing the Rangers’ top two starters, July addition Cliff Lee and converted reliever C.J. Wilson, both left-handers. So much for the Yankees “avoiding” Lee when he was traded prior to his scheduled start against them in Seattle just before the All-Star break.

Lee, who starts against Javier Vazquez tomorrow, has made six starts for the Rangers, four of which were dominating (minimum eight innings pitched, maximum two runs allowed, and a total of one walk and one home run allowed against 31 strikeouts). In his other two he also went deep (he’s completed at least eight innings in all six of his Rangers starts), but gave up a few too many runs along the way, taking the loss each time. Surprisingly, Lee has received just 2.5 runs of support on average since joining the Rangers, that after leaving the worst run scoring team in the majors for one of the top four.

Wilson, who faces A.J. Burnett tonight, has been very impressive in his transition to the rotation. He posted a 1.48 ERA in his first seven starts before experiencing a four-start slump (possibly a dead-arm period). After pulling out of that, he posted a 2.54 ERA over his next starts before turning in a three-inning stinker his last time out. Wilson has been hit-lucky (.255 BABIP), but his low line-drive rate suggests that has been a bit more than luck. Still, he leads the AL in walks and is close to doubling his innings total from last year. Wilson wasn’t moved to the bullpen until arriving in the majors in 2005, but entering the year, his career high in innings was the 136 he threw as a 21-year-old minor leaguer in 2002. He enters tonight’s start having thrown 136 1/3 innings this season and one wonders when and if he’s going to hit a wall and what effect that will have on the Rangers’ postseason rotation and postseason chances.

As for Burnett, he was scratched from his start on Sunday due to back spasms, which is a new item in his career-long list of minor aches and pains. Prior to that he had been lit up by the Blue Jays, coughing up seven runs in a disastrous fifth inning on August 2. Since opening the season 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA after six starts, Burnett hasn’t gone more than two starts without a disaster outing and has posted a 6.33 ERA over his last 16 starts, but at least he’s only 33 and signed for three more years. Oy.

With Teixeira away and Robinson Cano out with a cold, Joe Girardi is running out this lineup against the lefty Wilson:

R – Derek Jeter (SS)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
R – Marcus Thames (DH)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
R – Austin Kearns (LF)
S – Lance Berkman (1B)
R – Francisco Cervelli (C)
L – Brett Gardner (CF)
S – Ramiro Peña (2B)

Let’s just say I’m not too optimistic about this game. The bright side is that this is so far from what the Yankees will likely look like in a potential playoff series as to be meaningless beyond tonight.

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From Crayons to Perfume

Five-and-a-half years ago, Alex plucked me from relative obscurity to co-author this esteemed blog, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t been grateful to him for bestowing that honor upon me or thankful to all of our readers for their passion, conversation, and surprising interest in what have likely been the millions of words I have spilled into this space, first at the late, lamented Baseball Toaster, and for the last two seasons here at SNY.

It is not without a great deal of emotion that I depart Bronx Banter today to take advantage of an opportunity that has opened up for me over at YESnetwork.com, and while it is an opportunity that I cannot afford to pass up, for both myself and my family, it is one that I am very much aware might very well not have come to pass had it not been for the previous opportunity given to me by Alex and the strength of this platform. The same is true of my increasing presence on SI.com, the door to which Alex was even more directly involved in opening. Yet, in departing Bronx Banter, I thank Alex not only for helping me gain ground on my aspirations, but for providing constant motivation and inspiration, for his boundless enthusiasm for life outside of baseball, for his endless support, even when that support pushes me in directions opposite to his own interests, and most importantly for being a good and trusted friend.

A lot of life happens in five and a half years. Alex and I both got married, Will Weiss and I both became fathers, and we lost some people very close to us, Alex’s father and Todd Drew among them. Bronx Banter has been part of our lives throughout all of that, it is a virtual home, but a home nonetheless, one that I have found very comfortable and welcoming. That makes it all the more unsettling to leave, but I’m comforted by the fact that I’m leaving Alex and all of you in good hands with the vastly expanded stable of Bronx Banter contributers, Will, Emma, Diane, Bruce, Hank, Jon, and Matt, and by the fact that I am leaving the side of one good friend and supporter to join another (YES’s official announcement of my new gig has yet to drop, but it’s not hard to connect the dots).

As for what you can expect from me over at YES, well, life may happen, but I don’t change all that much. I’ll be doing the same things for YES that I’ve been doing here at Bronx Banter, which were essentially the same things I was doing on my own blog prior to that (though I hope seven years in I’m doing them better by now). I’m hoping you will all make the few extra clicks to continue reading me at YES and SI.com, or to follow my twitter feed. Check out my analysis and series previews on YES, then click back to Banter for the game threads and recaps and for all of the other things Alex and the crew will continue to do so well. As I said to Alex last night, I don’t see this as a splintering of the Bronx Banter family, but as another step in its expansion. I hope you all come to feel the same way.

This, then, is my penultimate post as co-author of Bronx Banter. I’ll bow out tonight with my preview of the quickie two-game series with the Texas Rangers and then reemerge in the morning over on YESnetwork.com. Thanks to everyone involved with Bronx Banter on every level, to Ken Arneson and the good people at SNY, to every last reader, but above and beyond all else, to Alex Belth, without whom, to paraphrase Yogi, none of this would be necessary.

Boston Red Sox IV: Kick ‘Em While They’re Down

The Yankees and Red Sox last met for a two-game set in the Bronx in mid-May. At the time, the big story surrounding the Red Sox was their poor start. In splitting those two games, the Sox held tight at .500. Almost immediately after, they finally found their groove. Including that last win against the Yankees, the Red Sox went 30-12 coming out of that series. That’s a blistering .714 pace that brought them within a half-game of the first place Bombers on July 3. Since then, however . . . meh, not so much. The Sox have gone 13-15 since that high-water mark, and seem to be rotating through the disabled list more often than they’re rotating through their lineup.

You might have heard that the Red Sox have been dealing with some injuries this season. Prior to returning Wednesday night, Jacoby Ellsbury had played just nine games all year due to various problems related to broken ribs suffered in an April collision with Adrian Beltre. He’s back, but he might have been the worst hitter in their opening day lineup and was moved to left field this spring because the Red Sox had major concerns about his defense in center. However, Mike Cameron, his intended replacement in center, is back on the DL for the second time this season with an abdominal strain, making Ellsbury the team’s center fielder and leadoff hitter, which may or may not be any better than having Ellsbury back on the DL. That also leaves J.D. Drew, who routinely misses games with a strained this and a sore that, as the only Boston outfielder having a “healthy” season.

Among those who have joined Ellsbury on the DL this season were Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek (both still out with broken feet), Victor Martinez (recently returned), Kevin Youkilis (more than countering Martinez’s return by hitting the DL the day before Cameron with a thumb injury that will require season-ending surgery), Daisuke Matsuzaka (of course), Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz (both recently returned), and Manny Delcarmen (returned, but to low-leverage innings). Did I miss anyone? Boof Bonser doesn’t count, and I’m not sure Mike Lowell does either, though he’s suddenly become a very important player in the wake of Youkilis’s injury.

The good news for Boston fans is that, assuming Jon Lester’s Wednesday night leg cramp isn’t anything, the rotation is back at full strength. Buchholz and Beckett, who start tonight and Sunday, respectively, each enter this series coming off a pair of quality starts. Less encouraging has been the fact that Lester, who pitches Monday, has been off his game for four straight outings, and John Lackey, who faces CC Sabathia on Saturday, has been little more than a league-average-innings eater in his first season with the team. The Sox’s bullpen has been as problematic as the Yankees’, and the pitching staff as a whole, which has surely been undermined by the drop in the quality of team defense resulting from the many injuries to the starting lineup, something unlikely to be helped by Ellsbury’s return, has been below average in keeping runs off the board.

Whatever winning the Red Sox have been doing this season has been due to a few stretches of sharp starting pitching and their lineup, which has been buoyed by David Ortiz’s rejuvination and by a fantastic season by Adrian Beltre, but Youkilis has been the team’s best hitter, and Pedroia was in the top four, and without those two bats, this is a very different ballclub.

The best-case scenario for the Red Sox this weekend is to sweep a four game set in the Bronx and pull within two games of the Yankees for the Wild Card. I don’t see that happening, though the Yankees would be advised to win at least one of the first two as the pitching matchups become more favorable for Boston as the series progresses. The Sox will have 50 games left after this series, enough to overcome any deficit, but if the Yankees simply split, they will have robbed the Sox of a prime opportunity to make up ground and will take control of their rival’s fate by having a six-game lead over the Sox with just six head-to-head games left to play. All of that may take the edge of this series, but it’s worth noting that beating the Rays does the Yankees little good as both teams are likely to make the postseason. It’s burying the second place team in the Wild Card chase that will secure the Yankees’ playoff berth, and that second-place team is the Boston Red Sox.

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Tell Us What You Really Think

I say my piece on the Yankees three deadline acquisitions on the latest episode of SNY.tv’s “Baseball Show.” Dig it:

The Other 8 1/2 Innings

Sure, Shaun Marcum gave up Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run in the bottom of the first inning Wednesday afternoon, but in the early innings of the game, he was pitching better than Phil Hughes, who didn’t give up a run until the fourth. Hughes, who later revealed he had a head cold on a muggy afternoon in the Bronx, just didn’t look sharp early on, and though he retired the first six men he faced, striking out three, he needed 28 pitches to do it and seemed to get away with a number of mistakes.

Hughes opened the third by walking Lyle Overbay, then gave up a single to Edwin Encarnacion, but despite Overbay reaching third base with one out after a fly to center field by John McDonald, Hughes wiggled out of the jam, getting Travis Snider to pop out and Aaron Hill to ground out to third.

Marcum, meanwhile, allowed three runs on five hits in the first three innings, but looked sharp and seemed to be making his pitches. Derek Jeter led off the first with a slow ground ball that just happened to find the hole between short and third. Marcum then struck out Nick Swisher on a perfectly placed cutter and got Mark Teixeira to pop out on two pitches. Marcum’s first two pitches to Rodriguez were off the plate inside, but his third was a hanging slider out over the outside half of the plate, and Rodriguez got his arms extended and lifted it into the netting over Monument Park just a few feet to the right of dead center field.

I was pleased to see that the game didn’t really stop the way it did when Derek Jeter passed Lou Gehrig for first place on the all-time Yankee hit list, and his teammates all came out of the dugout to congratulate him. The team did great Rodriguez in front of the dugout, but the hugs and congratulations weren’t extended, and his subsequent curtain call, while it was a full-on Reggie (both feet on the grass), also didn’t linger excessively.

In the second, Marcum got Jorge Posada to ground out on his first pitch, then struck out Lance Berkman before Curtis Granderson delivered a two-out single. Granderson stole second, almost breaking both ankles with a horrific slide less “into” and more “near” second base, but Marcum struck out Brett Gardner to end the threat.

In the third, Jeter shot a ground-ball double down the left field line, and with one out, Mark Teixeira went down and got a low outside curveball and yanked it into right field for an RBI double. Rodriguez and Robinson Cano then both ground out weakly to strand Teixeira at second.

Rodriguez’s homer didn’t break the damn of his recent slump. After that weak groundout, he popped out to short in the fifth and ground back to reliever Shawn Camp in the seventh, but you could see the relief and relaxation in his face during his post-game press conference, after which he gave the security guard who retrieved the ball from Monument Park a signed bat in exchange for the milestone rock.

The Yankees padded their lead in the fifth, with Marcum starting to look more the part of the losing pitcher. Gardner led off with a ground rule double to right that bounced off a fan’s shoulder and back onto the field (Mr. Wonderful Jose Bautista flipped the ball back to her). Jeter then dropped down a perfect bunt single up the third base line, moving Gardner to third. Nick Swisher walked, and Teixeira delivered a two-RBI single to set the eventual final score at 5-1.

The lone Toronto run came off Hughes in the fourth. That man Bautista led off with a single. With one out, Adam Lind walked, and with two outs, Lyle Overbay delivered an RBI double. Hughes then struck out Edwin Encarnacion to end the threat.

Hughes never really did settle down, but he never really got in much trouble either. He just sort of labored through his 5 1/3 innings. After Bautista led off the sixth with a rare single to right that he practically queued off the end of his bat while trying to pull the ball, Vernon Wells sent Hughes’ 100th pitch to the wall in the left-center-field gap on such a massive arch that Granderson had plenty of time to drift over and catch it with his shoulder pressed against the padding.

That was enough for Joe Girardi to get out the hook with an off-day coming on Thursday. The Yankee end-game got some nice warmup work for this weekend’s Red Sox series. Boone Logan got the last two outs of the sixth, striking out Jose Molina, whose one offensive skill is hitting lefties, and getting lefty Lyle Overbay to ground out. Joba Chamberlain worked around a ground ball single up the middle in the seventh. David Robertson recovered from a leadoff walk to Bautista by retiring the next three batters in the eighth, striking out Lind and Molina to end the frame. Then Mariano Rivera got some work in, hitting Encarnacion with a pitch but otherwise working a flawless inning to seal the win.

The Red Sox and Rays both lost, so the Yankees pulled back into a first-place tie in the East with the win and now lead Boston by 6.5 games. Both play again tomorrow, but the worst case scenario entering the weekend’s wrap-around four-game set against the Bosox would be a half-game deficit in the division and a comfy six-game lead on the visiting Crimson Hosers.

All in all, a good day for the home nine.

Six-Hundred

My full game recap will be up later this evening, but by now you surely know that Alex Rodriguez finally hit his 600th home run in the bottom of the first inning, a two run shot driving home Derek Jeter and giving the Yankees an early 2-0 lead. SI.com has a full slate of Rodriguez pieces in connection with the milestone, including articles by Joe Posnanski, Joe Sheehan, Ben Reiter, and Joe Lemire, two photo galleries, a trio of video essays, a vintage piece from 1996, a timeline, and this by-the-numbers breakdown by yours truly. That should keep you busy during prime time. Back with the recap during late night . . .

Something/Anything

Well, this series has been absolutely no fun at all. A.J. Burnett stinks up the joint on Monday, Rickey Romero is untouchable on Tuesday, the Jays score eight runs in each of the first two games, and here we are on Wednesday afternoon begging for a face-saving win in advance of a visit from the Red Sox while looking up at the Rays in the standings for the first time since June 19. Oy.

It don’t get any easier today, folks. Shaun Marcum is 10-4 with a 3.24 ERA and a 3.82 K/BB on the season, the best numbers of the 28-year-old righty’s brief, injury-interrupted career. He’s given up more than two runs in just one of his last seven starts (5-1, 2.95 ERA) and takes the mound this afternoon coming off a dominant outing against the Indians (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 10 K).

Phil Hughes opposes Marcum on regular rest, which is good. In his last two starts on regular rest, he has allowed just three runs each time out, albeit without getting past the sixth inning.

The prime-time lineup is out there for this matinee with Fat Elvis batting seventh.

C’mon, boys, give us something . . . anything.

Check It Out

I have a couple of pieces up on SI.com today. The first is my Rookie of the Year Awards Watch. It was a frustrating column to write this week because of the glut of strong rookies in the National League and lack thereof in the American League, though I squeezed in a lot of NL honorable mentions in the introduction. [Update: I initially had an old column linked. The link is now fixed to this week's Awards Watch.]

The second is my look at the top waiver-trade pickups of the Wild Card era. No Yankees make my top 5, though the botched Pat Listach trade in 1996 yielded Graeme Lloyd, who after struggling mightily down the stretch, got some huge outs in the postseason as the Yankees won their first championship under Joe Torre. Other notable Yankee waiver trades were the returns of Mike Stanley in 1997 and Luis Sojo in 2000, and the dumping of Mariano Duncan and addition of Rey Sanchez as a second-base solution in ’97. Meanwhile, Sterling Hitchcock went 5-1 with a 3.78 ERA for the Cardinals after the Yankees traded him to St. Louis in August 2003.

Elsewhere, the latest edition of Kevin Goldstein’s Future Shock at Baseball Prospectus kicks off with good words on a pair of red-hot Yankee prospects:

Dellin Betances, RHP, Yankees(High-A Tampa): 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K

Of Betances 11 starts this year, eight of them could arguably be described as dominant, with none more so than last night’s when Betances retired the last 14 batters he faced, nine via the strikeout.  With a fastball that is all the way back (94-98 mph) and control that we’ve never seen before, the 22-year-old has whiffed 68 over 57 innings while allowing just 31 hits and walking 15.  Only an ugly ttrack record when it comes to staying healthy prevents him from being labeled with an elite tag.

Brandon Laird, 3B, Yankees(Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre): 4-for-4, 2 HR (2), 3 R, 2 RBI

It’s been a darn good year overall for the Yankee farm system, and one of the brightest points of light has been Laird, who entered the year as a nice little hitter with some upside, and is now considered one of the better offensive prospects in the system.  After batting .291/.355/.523 in the Eastern League, you couldn’t have asked for a better Triple-A debut, but much like Jesus Montero, it’s hard to figure out where his big league future lies if he remains a Yankee.

Toronto Blue Jays III: Can't Take It With You

I have to be honest, I just can’t figure the Blue Jays this year. It’s not just that I expected them to be a poor rebuilding team yet they haven’t been more than a game under .500 all season. It’s not just that they’ve had a confluence of career and comeback seasons, most of them boosted by the long ball (29-year-old Jose Bautista: 32 HR; 31-year-old Vernon Wells: 20 HR; 33-year-old Alex Gonzalez: 17 HR; 29-year-old John Buck: 14 HR). Now that the trading deadline has passed, I can’t figure out why the Jays did so little.

The Jays made a solid deal in mid-July, flipping Gonzalez to the Braves for 27-year-old Cuban shortstop Yunel Escobar, who had fallen out of favor in Atlanta, but has already rebounded nicely in Toronto, hitting .323/.344/.500 in 14 games (with three homers, of course). Escobar, a solidly above-average offensive shortstop who won’t hurt you in the field, will be arbitration eligible this winter, but won’t have much of a case given his .238/.334/.284 performance for the Braves, and will then remain under team control for the next three years.

Kudos to general manager Alex Anthopoulos for that one, but I can’t figure out why Bautista, Buck, Lyle Overbay, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, and especially Scott Downs are still Blue Jays. I’m going to go out on a very short limb and say that Bautista will never have a more productive season than he’s having now and will not be on the next Blue Jays playoff team. Given his performance this season, he’s due for a huge arbitration raise, and his trade value will never be higher than it was on Saturday. Buck, Overbay, Frasor, and Downs are all free agents this winter and should have been cashed in. Perhaps there was no market for the first three, but Downs was highly sought after. As his predecessor J.P. Ricciardi did with a much bigger chip at last year’s deadline, Anthopoulos set his price too high and refused to budge. In the case of Roy Halladay, the Jays still owned him for another season and after Ricciardi was fired, Anthopoulos was able to get a solid return for him (though he frittered away part of it, turning impressive prospect Michael Taylor into marginal one Anthony Gose via two subsequent moves). Downs, however, will now provide the Jays no long-term benefit.

So the Jays are left to click along as just-above-.500 team in a division in which a .600 winning percentage is typically required for a second place/Wild Card finish. I don’t get it.

The twist for the Yankees this week is that the Jays, having held onto all of their major league trade chips, remain a solid team worth taking seriously. Tonight, the Yankees and A.J. Burnett face Brandon Morrow, one of Anthopoulos’s better additions, who has begun to find some consistency after having finally been left alone in the rotation. He leads the major leagues in strikeouts per nine innings with an even ten and enters tonight’s game coming off two quality starts, although both came against the Orioles. The knock on Morrow at the moment is that he seems to thrive against bad teams and struggle against good ones, though that pattern isn’t consistent. The Yankees have already faced Morrow twice this season. He dominated them in Toronto on June 6 (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K), but struggled in a rematch in the Bronx (6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, albeit with just one walk and seven Ks).

Burnett enters this game having not allowed a run in 11 1/3 innings over two starts since cutting his hand in a clubhouse temper tantrum and having to leave his previous start in the third inning. Burnett has faced his former team twice this season, inverting Morrow’s results (or echoing them, depending on your perspective) by pitching poorly in Toronto and well in the Bronx, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Jays at home on July 2.

Nick Swisher returns to the two-hole tonight, Mark Teixeira returns to first base, and Alex Rodriguez returns to the lineup. Jorge Posada is catching and batting sixth ahead of Fat Elvis. Quothe Berkman, “I don’t know if I’ve ever hit seventh. I’ve hit sixth before, I know that. But I also can’t remember the last time that I’ve been on a team with like eight Hall of Famers. That has a lot to do with it.” Future Hall of Famers Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner fill the last two spots

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It’s 4pm. Do You Know Who Your Yankees Are?

The latest buzz has the Yankees acquiring Kerry Wood from the Indians for a player to be named later. The Yankees needed a relief pitcher, but Wood, who was just activated from the disabled list where he had landed due to a blister on his right index finger, is an underwhelming solution. Not only is he seemingly always hurt, but in two seasons with the Indians, he has posted a 4.80 ERA and 4.7 BB/9, the worst of that work coming this year (6.30 ERA, 5.0 BB/9), while his typically stellar strikeout rate has been a bit more ordinary at 8.1 K/9 (down from 10.3 K/9 both last year and career). Wood has also given up 1.4 home runs per nine innings this year, all of which combines to make him look a lot like Kyle Farnsworth with a sketchier injury history. Given that Joe Girardi used to catch both pitchers with the Cubs and was likely a driving force behind the Wood acquisition, the comparison seems apt.

As Tyler Kepner has been pointing out on twitter, Wood has been better since a disaster outing on May 19, posting a 3.78 ERA since, but even that figure isn’t overwhelming, and he’s still blown two games and lost a third over the course of just 18 games before landing on the DL with that blister. All of which is to say, I’m not optimistic, and part of me would have rather taken a chance on Chad Qualls (who went to the Rays early this morning) and his outlandish .427 BABIP. Qualls has had better peripherals than Wood this year and, from what I can tell, has never been on the DL. Anyone want to place bets on who pitches better over the next two months?

Update: The Wood deal is official, with Joel Sherman tweeting that the compensation could be money or two “middling” minor leaguers. Indians’ choice if Wood says healthy, price drops after the fact if Wood gets hurt.

Loss and Gain

Friday night’s game in a nutshell: Nick Swisher hit a two-run home run in the first. Matt Joyce hit a three-run home run in the sixth. Rays win 3-2. That hurt. Phil Hughes cruised through the first five innings, not allowing more than one baserunner in any of those five frames and  allowing just one man to reach second base (B.J. Upton on a walk and a steal with two outs in the second). Then in the sixth, John Jaso led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch with one out. Evan Longoria followed with a walk. Carl Crawford moved Jaso to third and replaced Longoria at first via a fielder’s choice, and Joyce cracked a 2-2 pitch into the right-field seats to turn a 2-0 Yankee lead into a 3-2 Yankee deficit.

Working to keep the Yankees within reach, Joba Chamberlain pitched two perfect innings striking out three, but Rays end-gamers Joaquin Benoit and Rafael Soriano were perfect as well, and Carlos Peña made a nice lunging stop on a Jorge Posada hot-shot headed for right field, beating the lumbering Yankee catcher with a flip to Soriano for the final out.

In other news, the Yankees made a pair of trades Friday evening, one official, one to become official today. In the official deal, the Yankees promised a player to be named later to the Indians in exchange for right-handed-hitting outfielder Austin Kearns. I’m not impressed.

Though Kearns was once a top prospect with the Reds, he never really panned out, in part due to nagging injuries, and had fallen hard in recent years. Kearns hit .209/.320/.312 in 568 PA for the Nationals in 2008 and 2009 and was a non-roster invitee to camp with the rebuilding Indians this spring. Kearns not only made the team, but he worked his way into the starting left field job and hit .307/.393/.508 through June 11. That was impressive, but suspect, and indeed he has hit just .210/.286/.269 since then and recently missed a week with a bum knee. At his best, Kearns drew his share of walks and flashed 20-homer power, but he’s never hit for average, and his power has diminished significantly, which in turn has undermined his ability to work walks. Sure, he’s an upgrade on Colin Curtis, and he likely didn’t cost anything (we’ll see which player is named), but over the next two months he may not make any meaningful contribution to this team. To put it another way, the Indians seem to have upgraded on Kearns by calling up Shelley Duncan.

The other trade, yet to be officially announced, has the Yankees sending Mark Melancon and Sally League second baseman Jimmy Paredes to the Astros for Lance Berkman. First the prospects. Paredes is a 21-year-old switch-hitting Dominican second baseman who has played some short and third. He steals bases, but doesn’t walk and has modest pop at best. He’s not a significant prospect, particularly not with Robinson Cano at second base at the major league level. Mark Melancon is a bit of an ironic trade chip given that the Yankees really need relief pitching more than anything else and Melancon was supposed to be their top relief prospect, but Melancon’s control abandoned him in Scranton this year (5.0 BB/9), and the Yankees seemed reluctant to give him a long look at the major league level even before that. A college product who had Tommy John surgery soon after turning pro, Melancon is already 25, and since he wasn’t likely to contribute this year, seems like an expendable-enough arm given the quality of the return.

Which brings me to Berkman. From 2001 to 2008, Berkman was one of the best hitters in baseball. A switch-hitter who hit .303/.417/.564 over that span while knocking out 263 homers (more than Jorge Posada’s career total) and drawing 815 walks against 859 strikeouts. He’s not that guy anymore. At 34, his power is fading and his switch hitting is suspect (he’s not hitting lefties this year, last year he did but didn’t do much damage against righties), but he still gets on base at a strong clip (.372 this year, .399 last) and can flash that home-run stroke, such as when he hit five homers in four games earlier this month. In fact, Big Puma arrives in the Bronx (or, rather, Tampa) having hit .257/.418/.533 since June 20, which looks a lot like the sort of numbers Jason Giambi put up as a Yankee (career with NYY: .260/.404/.521).

That’s a huge upgrade over Juan Miranda as a left-handed designated hitter (or, when Jorge Posada catches, over Francisco Cervelli). Even Berkman’s full season linen of .245/.372/.436 would look pretty good just about anywhere in the lineup previously occupied by Miranda, Cervelli, or Curtis, and if Berkman’s struggles against left-handed pitching continue, Marcus Thames is still here (and so is Kearns, I suppose). Primarily a first baseman since 2005, Berkman hasn’t played the outfield since 2007, so don’t expect much defensive value out of him, and his 2011 option was declined as a condition of the trade, so he’s just a rental, but he’s not only a good replacement for Nick Johnson, he’s an upgrade on him, and for a team looking to fill holes in pursuit of another title, he still has the potential to be more than just a well-fit cork.

Now let’s just hope the final hours leading up to the trading deadline yield some equally inexpensive bullpen reinforcements.

Tampa Bay Rays IV: Rev On The Deadline

As I type this, neither the Rays nor the Yankees has made a deadline deal, but that could change by first pitch with the non-waiver trading deadline of 4pm Saturday bearing down on us. Both teams are said to be looking for a designated hitter, but the Yankees are in more urgent need of a relief pitcher (though apparently not urgent enough to give Jonathan Albaladejo an extended look).

On first glance, it might seem the Yankees would be wise to stay in the DH market to cause problems for the Rays, who trail by just two games in the AL East entering this weekend’s three-game set at the Trop, but the real threat to their playoff chances is the Red Sox. Though the Sox are another 5.5 games behind the Rays, they are the second-place team in the Wild Card race and thus the team with the best chance of keeping either the Yanks or Rays out of the playoffs, and the Red Sox big target is relief pitching.

Of course, all of that is mere speculation for now. The hard facts are that the Yankees took two of three from the Rays in the Bronx two weeks ago to even the season series at 4-4, but the Rays have gained a game back in the interim by winning eight of ten and their last six in a row. The Yankees last visited Tropicana Field on the first weekend of the season, taking two of three from the Rays then as well.

In the second game of that series, the Bombers put up four runs in six innings against Wade Davis, who starts for the Rays tonight against Phil Hughes. Davis had more success against the Yanks in a rematch in the Bronx in May, and has been sharp of late, turning in three straight quality starts and posting a 3.47 ERA in his last eight games.

Hughes, meanwhile, seems to be wearing down a bit as the season progresses. He was effective in two of his last three starts, but those came against the lowly Royals and Mariners, while the Angels, Blue Jays, and Mariners in a previous turn got to him good in his other most recent starts. Going back to his start in CitiField on May 17, Hughes has posted a 5.47 ERA over 12 starts, though good run support has lifted his record to 7-3 over that span. However, it’s worth noting that two of Hughes’ recent duds came after his previous start was skipped. Five of his last eight starts on regular rest have been quality and a sixth saw him allow three runs in 5 1/3 innings. Hughes will be be on regular rest again tonight.

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Collect ‘Em All

As we bear down on Saturday’s trading deadline, I have a few more items over at SI.com. First, I look at the Phillies acquisition of Roy Oswalt and how the team would have been better off had they simply kept Cliff Lee. Second, I look at the top-performing deadline acquisitions of the Wild Card era.

No Yankees make my top five in the latter piece, but a few pop up in honorable mention. David Cone, surprisingly, doesn’t appear at all. Looking back, Cone went 9-2 for the Yankees down the stretch that year, but he posted an underwhelming 3.82 ERA and had fewer than twice as many strikeouts as walks. The Yankees scored an average of 7.1 runs Cone’s nine wins and, over a six-start stretch from August 19 to September 13, Cone failed to make a single quality start and posted a 6.28 ERA.

Some notable additions that didn’t make my list include Cliff Lee to the Phillies last year, Jason Bay to the Red Sox in 2008, Ugueth Urbina to the Marlins in 2003, Scott Rolen to the Cardinals in 2002, Aramis Ramirez to the Cubs in 2003 (Ramirez didn’t hit all that well that year, but the Cubs did win their first postseason series since 1945 that year, and Ramirez did emerge as a star on the northside in the years that followed; Jamie Moyer going from the Red Sox to the Mariners in 1996 was another deadline deal that paid off for years to follow, ditto Jason Schmidt to the Giants in 2001). Two notable performances that didn’t result in playoff berths were Cliff Floyd’s .316/.374/.561 line for the Red Sox in 2002, and Bobby Bonilla’s .333/.392/.544 line for the Orioles in 1995.

Boo

You don’t want to read a recap of this game.

I don’t want to write a recap of this game.

Indians started a 25-year-old command and control righty Tuesday night. A total non prospect with a recent violence-related arrest making his major league debut. So the S.O.B. goes out and faces the minimum the first two times through the Yankee order. The only Yankee baserunner in the first six innings against Josh Tomlin last night was Derek Jeter, who singled to start the fourth, then got caught stealing with two outs and Alex Rodriguez at the plate.

Rodriguez didn’t hit hit 600th home run. We can get that one out of the way. There was no big birthday milestone for the now-35-year-old third baseman. He did come to the plate representing the tying run in the ninth, but he tapped out to short on an 0-1 pitch. In his first three at-bats, he grounded out twice, then flew out to strand Nick Swisher at third in the seventh.

The fourth inning was the nadir. After Jeter got thrown out to end the top of the inning, CC Sabathia started the bottom of the frame by yielding a single to Asdrubal Cabrera and a double to Shin-Soo Choo to put runners on the corners. Austin Kearns followed with a hard grounder to third and Alex Rodriguez fired home to get Cabrera. The bottom of the first had ended when Brett Gardner threw out Choo at home on a single through the shortstop hole with Francisco Cervelli making a nice block of the plate. This time Cervelli had to reach into fair territory to get Rodriguez’s throw then reach to make the tag on Cabrera in foul territory. He did both successfully, but when his left arm hit the ground, the ball bounced out of his glove and Cabrera was ruled safe on Cervelli’s error.

Did I mention Cervelli was starting because Jorge Posada’s left knee is acting up on him? It’s an old injury; he has a cyst back there that causes him occasional pain, but, yeah.

After Shelley Duncan popped up, Jhonny Peralta hit into a would-be double play, but Kearns was called safe at second after Robinson Cano came off the bag too early on the pivot, and his relay throw was just a hair too late to get Peralta, so instead of ending the inning, the play loaded the bases with just one out. Matt LaPorta followed with a sac fly, and though Sabathia held the line there and both runs were earned, it mattered little with the Yankee bats unable to touch Tomlin.

The Indians scored two more runs in the sixth, which were Sabathia’s fault. The highlight there came when Joe Girardi ordered CC to intentionally walk the number-eight hitter, righty Jason Donald, to load the bases with two outs, and Sabathia responded by walking the number-nine hitter, right-handed swinging back-up catcher Chris Gimenez, to force in a fourth Cleveland run.

Even when the Yankees finally scored it was embarrassing. After Swisher was stranded in the seventh, Robinson Cano led off the eighth with a double. Indians manager Manny Acta the lifted the rookie Tomlin and brought in lefty Rafael Perez to face Curtis Granderson. Perez sent Cano to third via a wild pitch, but got Granderson to ground out to first. The play on Granderson’s grounder wasn’t easy for LaPorta, but Cano failed to come home on it. Girardi then sent up Marcus Thames to pinch-hit for Juan Miranda only to have Acta counter with righty Joe Smith, at which point Girardi counter-countered with . . . Colin Curtis? Yeah, I know he had that improbable pinch-hit homer the other day, but I’m reasonably confident that any strategy that ends in Colin Curtis has failed, even if Curtis succeeds. Indeed, Curtis got the run in with an even better-placed groundout to the right side, but that was all the Yankees got out of the inning.

In the ninth, Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter led off with singles against closer Chris Perez, but Nick Swisher struck out and Mark Teixeira popped out to Cabrera in shallow center on the first pitch he saw. That set up Rodriguez to get number 600 on a game-tying three-run shot, but, as I mentioned above, he meekly tapped out on two pitches.

Indians win 4-1.

You want bright side? here’s the extent of it: Jeter went 2-for-4 and the Yankees only needed seven pitches from their bullpen, all from Chan Ho Park. That’s it. Heck, we didn’t even get to see Carlos Santana play.

Boo.

Welcome To The Big Leagues, Meat

Josh Tomlin will make his major league debut tonight by starting for the Indians. Talk about being thrown into the fire. He starts his big league career by facing the defending champs and his new team’s former Cy Young award winning ace, and could end the evening as the answer to a trivia question about a milestone home run.

Tomlin is a 25-year-old righty who was drafted out of Texas Tech in the 19th round of the 2006 draft and has bounced between starting and relieving in his five minor league seasons. He’s a strike-thrower (career 1.9 BB/9 in the minors), but despite good results for Triple-A Columbus this year (8-4, 2.68 ERA), his walks have been up (2.8 BB/9) and his strikeouts have been down (6.7 K/9, which likely translates to a below average strikeout rate in the majors).

I don’t know much more about him other than he and two members of the Double-A Akron Aeros were charged with felonious assault (later reduced to disorderly conduct) for allegedly beating up a bouncer at an Akron bar on June 3.

Outfielder Michael Brantley has been optioned to Columbus to make room for Tomlin on the roster. Juan Miranda will play first base and bat eighth against the righty Tomlin. Mark Teixeira gets a half-day off at DH. Everyone else is in their usual place.

Cleveland Indians II: Comin’ Up

The Yankees took two of three from the Indians at the end of May, but the Indians team they face for four games this week is better than the one they faced two months ago. Since June 27, the Indians have gone 15-9 (.625) thanks to an improved performance from their pitching staff, and a coalescing young offense.

Blue-chip catching prospect Carlos Santana made his major league debut on June 11 and has hit .270/.418/.516 since, most impressively racking up more walks (34) than strikeouts (25). Matt LaPorta, the blue-chipper received from the Brewers for CC Sabathia in 2008, returned to the majors on June 27 to replace Russell Branyan at first base after he was dealt back to Seattle, and has hit .320/.386/.560 since. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera just returned from the disabled list last Tuesday and has hit .294 in the Tribe’s four games since. Cabrera has pushed Jason Donald, the infielder received from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal, over to his proper place at second base, which should only increase his comfort level. Donald has hit .304/.366/.461 since June 10 and .321/.345/.571 in eight games at second base this year. Heck, even 30-year-old Yankee castoff Shelley Duncan is contributing, hitting .283/.359/.522 while spotting in the outfield corners, first base, and DH.

On the mound, former Red Sock Justin Masterson, who had a 6.13 ERA entering the Indians’ last series against the Yankees, has settled down with a 4.56 ERA in 11 starts dating hack to his quality start against the Yankees on May 30. Jake Westbrook, returning from Tommy John surgery, has posted a 4.38 ERA in 14 starts since May 11. Former Rays prospect, rookie Mitch Talbot, who faces Andy Pettitte’s vacated rotation spot on Thursday, has been solid all season (3.89 ERA). Ditto All-Star Fausto Carmona, who will bring his 3.51 ERA to face A.J. Burnett on Wednesday.

The Cleveland rotation did spring a leak in David Huff’s old spot. With replacement Aaron Laffey having just gone down with a bum shoulder, the Tribe will turn to 25-year-old rookie righty Josh Tomlin Tuesday night against their former ace CC Sabathia. I’ll have more on Tomlin tomorrow, but “25-year-old rookie righty vs. CC Sabathia” tells you most of what you need to know.

The Yanks face former David Justice trade bait Westbrook tonight. By providing 1,183 1/3 league-average innings for the Indians over the years, Westbrook has actually made that trade a net loss for the Yankees, though I can’t imagine many Yankee fans have any regrets about the deal. From 2003 to 2007, Westbrook posted a 4.11 ERA in 922 2/3 innings over 143 starts and 15 relief appearances for the Tribe, but in 2008 he made just five starts before going down with an elbow injury that led to Tommy John surgery. He then missed all of the 2009 season, but has returned to his old form this year and, in the final year of his contract, is actually considered a low-end starting pitching option for teams looking to fill a back-end-of-the-rotation hole prior to the trading deadline, teams that could include the Yankees in the wake of Andy Pettitte’s groin injury.

I still think the Yankees would be better off giving Ivan Nova a look, but that’s a rant for another day. Tonight, they have Javier Vazquez looking to rebound from a poor start against the Angels. Vazquez seems to have finally settled in as the mid-rotation starter the Yankees hoped he would be when they acquired him from the Braves this past offseason. He hasn’t had consecutive poor outings since April 25 and May 1 and nine of his 12 starts since then have been quality starts. Vazquez hasn’t faced the Indians since he was with the White Sox in 2008, which means half of the Cleveland lineup has never seen him before.

The Yankees run out their standard lineup tonight with Jorge Posada at DH and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. Despite his hit-by-pitch scare, Alex Rodriguez is back at third base, still sitting on 599 career homers. Nick Swisher remains in right, batting second.

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Kiss On My List

I have a bunch of things up over at SI.com today.

First, there’s my weekly Awards Watch column, which this week looks at the two Cy Young award races. Those who haven’t been paying attention will be surprised to see that Ubaldo Jimenez no longer tops the National League list. Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, who were regulars on the American League list earlier in the season, are both off but have been replaced by one current Yankee and one former Yankee that will likely send the average Bronx Banter reader into hysterics.

Then, I noticed that SI linked to the gallery of the top ten Hall of Fame classes that I ranked and captioned last year. This year’s class of Hawk, the White Rat, and God didn’t threaten to dent the list, so it’s just as relevant now as it was then and a fun read, if I do say so myself.

Finally, I have the lead baseball story for the day (until a trade bumps it) in which I take a look at five of the biggest holes on contending teams. One of those five exists in the Yankee bullpen. Dig:

Yankees

Need: Relief pitching

8th Inning: 4.74 ERA

MLB average 8th Inning: 3.88 ERA

The Guilty: Joba Chamberlain (5.66 ERA, 41 1/3 IP), David Robertson (4.76 ERA, 34 IP), Chan Ho Park (5.74 ERA, 31 1/3 IP)

Potential Targets: Scott Downs (2.41 ERA, 41 IP), Shawn Camp (2.92 ERA, 49 1/3 IP), Aaron Heilman (3.60 ERA, 45 IP), Koji Uehara (2.35 ERA, 15 1/3 IP)

When the Yankees moved Chamberlain back to the bullpen, he was supposed to return to being the dominant set-up man he was in late 2007 and early 2008. Instead, he has brought the inconsistency he showed in the rotation to the ‘pen, helping to make the eighth the most problematic inning for the Yankees other than the sixth (when starters typically start to tire and relief pitchers frequently become involved). With Robertson and Park also struggling and Alfredo Aceves and lefty Damaso Marte on the disabled list, the Yankees are running out of in-house alternatives. They still have the majors best record and look like a safe bet to make the playoffs, but the defending world champions will need to lock down those set-up innings if they want to go deep into the postseason again.

Batting 1,000

Sitting on 599 home runs, Alex Rodriguez drew a walk from Brian Bannister to load the bases in the bottom of the first inning of Friday night’s game against the Royals at Yankee Stadium. Robinson Cano followed by lacing a high fastball into the left-field gap for a bases-clearing double, and Jorge Posada followed with a double into the right-field corner that plated Cano for Posada’s 1,000th career run batted in. Posada is the 11th catcher (and third Yankee catcher after Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra) to reach the 1,000 RBI mark. Of the men ahead of him Lance Parrish (1,070) and Ted Simmons (second to Berra with 1,389) are the only eligible players not in the Hall of Fame.

Posada’s milestone was the only one reached in Friday night’s game, which was effectively over once the Yankees took that 4-0 lead in the first. A.J. Burnett held the Royals scoreless through five innings before an hour and 25-minute rain delay with two outs in the bottom of the fifth ended his, and Bannister’s, evening.

Brett Gardner singled home a pair of runs off reliever Victor Marte in the sixth. Posada picked up RBI 1,001 with a single off lefty Dusty Hughes in the seventh. Only then did the Royals get off the schnide with doubles by the just-activated Rick Ankiel and Yuniesky Betancourt to start the eighth against Chad Gaudin, who had already pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings by that point. Gaudin finished that frame without further damage and Jonathan Albaladejo worked a perfect ninth, striking out two to wrap up the 7-1 Yankee win.

As for Rodriguez, after his first-inning walk, he reached on an infield single in the third, struck out looking in the fifth, and singled in the seventh. With two out in the bottom of the eighth, Dusty Hughes walked Mark Teixeira on four pitches, giving Rodriguez one more chance at number 600, but Rodriguez hit a broken-bat grounder to third on the first pitch. Next up: Saturday’s starter Kyle Davies, who gave up Rodriguez’s 500th home run at the old Stadium in the bottom of the first inning on Saturday, August 4, 2007.

2010 Kansas City Royals

The Royals have had just one winning season (props, Tony Peña) since 1994, so it’s easy to write them off as a bad team. They are a bad team, and they’re not getting better, but they’re not remarkably bad the way they used to be. Sandwiched around that 83-win season in 2003 were four 100-loss campaigns. In the four years since then, the Royals winning percentage hasn’t dipped below .400 and if the standings stay the way they are, 2010 will be the third straight season in which they finish above last place in their division. Those are pathetically low standards, yes, but they’re also a reminder that, while the Royals are bad, they’re not awful.

Better yet, K.C. has played nearly .500 ball since Ned Yost replaced Trey Hillman as manager on May 14. That’s a little more than two months of break-even baseball, which is a big deal for this ballclub. The Royals went 9-4 under Yost over the remainder of May, then outscored their opponents in June (though they were still just 13-14 on the month).

Things have cooled off a bit in July. The Royals are again just a game under .500 for the month (7-8), but they’ve been outscored by 37 runs, a bigger run deficit in 15 games than they had in 23 games while going 9-14 under Hillman in April. Chalk that one up to three lop-sided losses (11-0 to the Angels, 15-5 to the White Sox, and 13-1 to the Blue Jays) all three coming in games started by Anthony Lerew, who will face Phil Hughes on Sunday.

Playing the Royals is an advantage in and of itself, but the Yankees luck out by facing them for four games yet avoiding defending Cy Young award winner Zack Greinke. Instead the Yankees will face, in order, Bruce Chen, Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies, and Lerew. That Yost has been able to keep this team around .500 with those guys making up 80 percent of the rotation is both startling and a sign that the Royals likely won’t keep it up, at least not without getting an effective Gil Meche back from the disabled list (he started a rehab assignment on Wednesday).

Indeed, only the Pirates and Orioles have a lower rotation ERA than the Royals’ 5.12. The same is true with Baseball Prospectus’s win-expectancy based SNLVAR, only the Bucs and O’s have had worse rotations by that measure. The Kansas City bullpen is closer to average thanks to lock-down closer Joakim Soria, ex-Ranger Robinson Tejada, and, get this, ex-Yankee Kyle Farnsworth and Kanekoa Texeira, the reliever acquired by the Yankees in the Nick Swisher trade then lost to the Mariners as a Rule 5 pick in December. Farnsworth has allowed just two home runs in 41 innings this year and is walking just 2.2 men per nine innings. Texeira, who was plucked off waivers in June, has walked just 1.6 men per nine as a Royal and boasts a 2.38 ERA in 22 2/3 innings for Kansas City.

I’m not about to go yearning for Farnsworth’s return, but it’s a bit galling to see those two helping the Royals’ bullpen to a performance not far  removed, and in fact slightly superior, to that of the Yankees’ pen. The Yankees have a slight edge in ERA, 4.22 to 4.26, but the Royals’ pen has contributed nearly 40 more innings, which increases their advantage over the Yankees in the cumulative win-expectancy-based WXRL.

As for the offense, it’s probably enough to point out that this lineup makes the 34-year-old Scott Podsednik look valuable, and that their worst hitter, 36-year-old catcher Jason Kendall, is not only replacing one All-Star catcher (John Buck) and another who was more deserving of that honor (Miguel Olivo), but is hitting second. First baseman Billy Butler, 24, is the featured hitter, but his power is still a bit lacking (.467 slugging). Center fielder David DeJesus, now 30, is having his finest season, but with only an option remaining on his contract, is a top candidate to be traded. DH Jose Guillen, a 34-year-old in his walk year, is also trade bait. Can’t miss prospect Alex Gordon is back in the minors, but raking at Triple-A. Then again, he’s 26 already, and after Butler, the youngest man in the major league lineup is 28. That’s not encouraging for a team that’s theoretically rebuilding.

Tonight CC Sabatha faces Bruce Chen, the well traveled Chinese-Panamanian lefty who was a top prospect last century and is now with his tenth major league club at the age of 33. Chen flirted with a perfect game on July 3, but otherwise has been decidedly average and prone to short, though not disastrous outings. Since joining the rotation on May 30, he has made nine starts, posted a 4.28 ERA and averaged about 5 1/3 innings per start. He last faced the Yankees in 2006 (two starts plus two relief appearances for the Orioles).

Sabathia looked a little rusty in his last start, though he was actually starting on normal rest having started the two games on either side of the Yankees’ four-day All-Star break. He still gave the Yanks seven solid innings in an eventual win. In his last nine starts, he has gone 8-0 with a 2.03 ERA and just two home runs allowed.

Marcus Thames starts at DH against the lefty Chen and bats seventh ahead of Curtis Granderson. Everyone else is in their usual place. Meanwhile, the suddenly very busy (and depressing) Yankee uniform has added another element, a black arm-band in memory of Ralph Houk, who passed away on Wednesday. I can’t remember the Yankees ever wearing three memorial objects on their uniform at once, though they’ve also never work a memorial patch before doing so for George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard this month (previously they had stuck to arm bands or retired numbers on the sleeve).

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Dud

Things haven’t gone well for the Yankee rotation since Saturday. First A.J. Burnett cut his pitching hand by punching a wall in the clubhouse and has to be removed in the third inning. Then Andy Pettitte went down with a groin injury that will have him out at least a month. Then, Tuesday night, Phil Hughes continued his recent struggles by coughing up six runs on nine hits, two of them homers, and three walks in five-plus innings while striking out just two.

Not that the Yankee offense helped much. After pushing across two first-inning runs again replacement starter Sean O’Sullivan, one of them on a Nick Swisher solo homer, the Yankees made ten straight outs and failed to get another hit, never mind a run, until a two-out Juan Miranda single in the seventh. They never did add to their tally. Meanwhile Jonathan Albaladejo, Chan Ho Park, and Chad Gaudin coughed up four more runs, two of them on a wall-scraping homer to right by old pal Hideki Matsui off Park.

Jorge Posada threw Bobby Abreu out stealing second twice, Miranda and Alex Rodriguez both had two-hits, Rodriguez with a double that was the Yankees’ only extra-base hit other than Swisher’s homer (heck they only had six all night), and Mark Teixeira walked twice and scored the other run. That was the sum total of highlights for the Yankees in a game that was a total team loss. 10-2 Angels.

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