…like that rally that wasn’t there?
At least not on Friday night at the Stadium. Down 3-2 the Yanks had the bases loaded in the fifth–on a gift, really, as a near triple play for the Jays turned into bases juiced nobody out–Mark Teixeira popped out to short and then Alex Rodriguez grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. In the eighth, Yanks down 5-3, they had the bases full again, but Derek Jeter whiffed–on a pitch out of the strike zone–and Nick Swisher tapped a harmless ground ball to first.
Freddy Garcia labored through five and David Robertson had a tough inning in the sixth; he gave up two runs and made a critical error. Robinson Cano hit two line drive home runs, absolute seeds, like pow!
But the Yanks couldn’t get a rally going and lost 5-3.
“He could very easily be as good as anyone in baseball,” said Larry Bowa, the former Yankees coach and now an MLB Network analyst. “The reason I say that is because the position he plays. I’m sure there’s going to be guys that hit more home runs and drive in more runs. I’m talking about the overall position this kid plays — in the middle of the diamond, involved in everything. He could be as good as anybody. He’s got unbelievable talent.”
[Drawing by Walt Simonson]
Happy end-of-NFL-season, everybody. Yankee catchers and pitchers, such as they are, report to Tampa one week from today.
Meantime, it got a bit lost in the Andy Pettitte shuffle from last week, but I’ve been meaning to mention another Yankee news item from Friday: Robinson Cano ditched his previous agent and signed with Scott Boras. It’s no substitute for the actual baseball we’ll get in a few short weeks, but I still found it interesting. Cano is in the last year of his contract, but the Yanks have two option years coming up; in the 2014 season, with Boras on board, do not expect Cano to offer the Yankees any kind of hometown discount. (Not that he should – they have plenty of money, and he’s turned into a genuine star; there’s no reason he shouldn’t get paid accordingly). Second basemen that hit like Cano aren’t easy to find, and I’m sure Boras will get him a massive payday. But I wonder why Cano chose to do this now, with the next two years pretty much taken care of already.
Also intriguing in that, from what I understand, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano are reasonably close — and Rodriguez famously parted ways with Boras after the PR debacle (though financial success) of his last opt-out. Hmm. Speaking of A-Rod, the FOX cameras caught him and Cameron Diaz together early in the game, and of course she was hand-feeding him at the time:
Only A-Rod. As my friend said tonight, he should probably just stop appearing in public.
[Screencap from the gentlemen at River Avenue Blues.]
While interviewing Cano on his home turf, I was intrigued by how candid he was about wanting to be a megastar. Cano wasn’t cocky, just confident. Cano wants the Yankees to win a title. That’s the most important goal. But the better Cano is, the easier it is for the Yankees to win. Cano’s hopeful words should be refreshing to the Yankees.
“I want to see how it feels to do everything,” Cano said. “I want to see how it feels to win an MVP [award]. I already had a World Series ring. I want more.” He added, “I want to have a Gold Glove, which I have right now, an MVP, a batting title. I always want to know how that feels, to be there. So that’s why I work hard every single day to try and get better.”
The thought of Robbie having another strong season sure is appealing, ain’t it?
[Photo Credit: Billy Weeks]
You think Robbie Cano will finish second in the AL MVP voting over Miguel Cabrera? That’s as close as he’ll get to winning it, according to Rob Neyer:
The question isn’t, “Who will win the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award?”
That isn’t remotely the question, because we already know that Josh Hamilton is going to win. If he’s not the the unanimous choice, like Joey Votto, he’ll come very close.
And like Votto, Hamilton will be a fine choice.
The question is, “If not Hamilton, though, then who?”
Would you believe….?
I spoke to Pat Jordan this morning. I don’t need to borrow his gun after all–and oh, I learned that you can’t polish a Glock because it’s plastic–but he might want to put his to good use as his beloved ‘Caines were trounced by Florida State last night. He got so pissed watching football, he turned to the Yankee-Twins game. Then he got furious with the Twins, who went out like mice against the Yanks.
Me? I was at the game with the Mrs, sitting in the Todd Drew box, and I have to admit–by the ninth inning, I felt bad for the Twins. Or at least their fans. There was a group of five of them sitting in the row in front of us and by the time Time “Enter Sandman” played over the loudspeakers, these fans were getting heckled pretty good. On their way to another loss, another loss to the Yankees. They have a guy on their team named Hardy (first initial J and everything)–Damned Yankees, indeed.
The Twins had a few chances last night to do some damage and came up short. They had pitches to hit and they missed them, striking out, popping-up. The Yankees, on the other hand, removed any tension from this game early on, put up runs in the second, third and fourth innings, capped by a two-run dinger by Marcus “They Call Me Mr.” Thames. Phil Hughes pitched about as well as we could have hoped, and the only trouble the Yanks encountered was a lousy outing by Kerry Wood, who let up a run and loaded the bases, recording just one out in the eighth. But Boone Logan and Dave Robertson got out of it–Jason Kubel and Delmon Young missed their pitches and hit sky high, yet harmless fly balls.
Then it was time for the Great Mariano who retired the Twins in order and for the last time of the season. Jim Thome, a future Hall of Famer, faced Rivera in each game–popped-out to Rodriguez in Game One, and popped-out to Brett Gardner, who had him played perfectly, in Game Two. Now, in Game Three, Thome led off the ninth and saw three pitches. The last one, fastball on the outside corner, froze Thome, and he walked off the field, dismissed for the year.
Final Score: Yanks 6, Twins 1.
Yanks advance, looking every bit the part of defending world champs.
Emily and I had a good time–and I thoroughly enjoyed scoring the game in my new scorebook—but from the time we got off the subway, the energy around us was subdued. And it remained that way for most of the game, the by-product of the Yankees’ great success. There was no urgency in the building, something closer to entitlement. I don’t think that’s unnatural–how else would a fan base that has been so spoiled react?–but Emily turned to me late in the game and said, “This doesn’t feel any different than a regular season game.”
That said, we’ll take it. Another series win. Never gets old.
[Photo Credit: Andrew Burton/Chris McGrath--Getty Images]
Robbie Cano hittum for high average…ESPN New York has the skinny.
It was raining at the Stadium this afternoon when Robinson Cano launched a gram slam into the bleachers. That gave the home team a 5-0 lead for CC Sabathia, more than enough even after a long rain delay. When it was all said and done, Cano had a career-high six RBI and the Score Truck put a ten spot on the board as the Bombers cruised to a 10-0 win. That’s win number 17 for CC.
Been a couple of exciting, well-played games by the Yanks and Rays, huh? Phil Hughes made one mistake on Friday night and it cost the Yanks the game. They bounced back tonight, however, and served the Rays a dose of their own medicine. The Yanks rallied down 3-1, and 4-3. A trio of homers did it–a two run bomb by Mark Teixiera, solo shot by Nick Swisher and the game-winner, a long, soaring home run by Robinson Cano.
Final score: Yanks 5, Rays 4.
Javier Vazquez and Matt Garza both competed; neither was great. Matt Joyce hit another long home run, and duly admired the fruits of his labor. Carl Crawford collected the 400th stolen base of his career. But Boone Loogan and Dave Robertson were terrific in relief, and kept the game close for New York. And Mariano did like he do in the ninth after Cano’s homer gave the Yanks the lead in the bottom of the eighth.
Alex Rodriguez had a tough night, striking out, popping up, and laughed at himself when he spoke to reporters after the game. He had some more pitches to drive, put some good swings on them, and had nothing to show for it.
Lance Berkman didn’t look relaxed either but then again, the Yanks only had six hits all night, three by Cano.
The Yanks lead in the AL stands at two. No matter what happens tomorrow, they’ll leave town in first.
[Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP,
Couple few news items worth noting…
Mariano Rivera is banged-up. He has a sore right knee. His left rib cage is aching too, so Rivera will not appear in the All-Star Game next week. Joe Girardi is downplaying the injuries but at 40-years-old, Rivera’s health is of concern.
I’ve daydream occasionally, wondering how Rivera’s career will end. The daydreams are always tidy–the Yanks win another Serious and Rivera walks away on top. Reality usually doesn’t comply with these kinds of fantasies but still, it shouldn’t stop us from dreaming. Anyhow, I could easily see this being Rivera’s swan swong, or I could see him returning for another season or two. One thing I’m hyper-aware of–and have been since, oh, about November, 2001–is that it’s not going to last, that life as a Yankee fan will soon be different, that it is important to appreciate every time Rivera is out on the mound, no matter the result.
* * * *
Robbie Cano is going to participate in the Home Run Derby come Monday. My first thought, without causing undo embarrassment, I hope he goes out in the first round. Then I read this from the Yankees’ hitting coach, Kevin Long:
“I would prefer he’s not involved in it, but that’s not my decision,” Kevin Long said. “History suggests that guys that do the home run hitting contest get fatigued and exhausted from the process. I’m happy for the fact that he’s maybe getting the opportunity, but in the same breath we have to be careful in how he goes about this.”
…”I think it’s a lot of swings for a player; physically, I think it’s somewhat of a grind, but it’s an honor to be involved,” Girardi said. “The biggest thing is that we keep Robinson Cano healthy and strong the whole year. If that in any way would fatigue him, then I would prefer that he didn’t get fatigued.”
(Feinsand, N.Y. Daily News)
Saturday…in the Park.
Nick Swisher is the kind of player who shouldn’t be left to his own devices. After driving home Robinson Cano in the second inning with a double, Swisher came to bat in the fourth after Alex Rodriguez (dhing for the day) and Cano started the inning with base hits. So Swisher laid down a sacrifice bunt, taking the bat out of his and Curtis Granderson’s hands. The sacrifice worked, then the Angels walked Granderson to load the bases for Ramiro Pena and Frankie Cervelli. Pena, who played third and made a terrific diving catch, whiffed but Cervelli bailed Swisher out of a trip to the doghouse with a little single to left, scoring two runs.
There was no hangover from Friday night’s contentious game. Pettitte was in control. His line: 8 innings, 6 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts and 0 walks. Leave it to Torii Hunter to have the line of the day when he told reporters:
“I’ve never seen Pettitte pitch this well,” Hunter said. “He looked poised. He looked like the Andy Pettitte of old, when he was young.”
…”The last two times Pettitte pitched against us, that’s about as good as we’ve seen him,” [Manager, Mike] Scioscia said. “He’s taken a sip from the Fountain of Youth or something. He really pitched well.”
Damaso Marte pitched a scoreless ninth. Brett Gardner stayed hot with three more hits and Cano had four hits and scored three runs. The slumping Mark Teixeira had one hit and Nick Johnson had the day off due to a cranky back.
The Yanks have a chance to win the series later this afternoon when Javy Vazquez takes the mound.
[Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]
Wednesday afternoon, Yankees GM Brian Cashman held a press conference in which he discussed Chien-Ming Wang’s return to the starting rotation.
“He’s a starter and he’s got a huge history of nothing but success,” he said. “It’s time to find time to slot him in.”
Now is, and was, that time. Wang made Cashman and manager Joe Girardi look smart for two innings, until he reverted to the pitcher whose ERA resembled the national debt ticker in midtown Manhattan. Was that what the Yankees were waiting for?
Speaking of waiting, the way the Yankees have treated Wang, admittedly rushing him back before accurately gauging his progress, one wonders if he was accelerated and placed in the starting rotation in order to be showcased to potential trade suitors. Cashman would never say that and no local scribes have gotten that provocative yet, but the possibility cannot be ruled out.
Newsday’s former Yankee beat man Jim Baumbach went there, sort of, giving some insight into the tenuous relationship the organization has had with Wang, going back five years.
The Yankees gladly would have traded Chien-Ming Wang in a package for Randy Johnson during the 2004 season if only the Diamondbacks had any interest in him. After the trade deadline passed with no moves, the Yankees even let Wang pitch in the Olympics, something they never would have done if they thought Wang was a legitimate prospect.
Is he right? Think about it. The Yankees could have signed Wang to a long-term deal last year, but opted not to. They instead signed Robinson Cano to a long-term deal and took Wang to salary arbitration, where the pitcher was awarded a $4 million contract. This year, the Yankees and Wang went to arbitration again, with the righty getting a $1 million raise.
Baumbach wasn’t done, though. In a column recapping Thursday’s victory, in which the Yankees got Wang off the hook, Baumbach wrote:
Seemingly every time the Yankees talk about Chien-Ming Wang, they reference how he won 46 games for them in the previous 2 1/2 seasons, as if that should count toward something here in 2009.
But we’re more than a third of the way through this season, and pretty soon the Yankees will have to come to grips with the fact that the pitcher who used to be their ace hasn’t been heard from since he hurt his right foot last June in Houston. And there’s no guarantees that pitcher is going to make it back this season.
It should be noted that the pitcher who won 46 games from 2006-08 only won one playoff game in that time frame. In 2007, his second straight 19-win season, he lost both of his ALDS starts, pitching just 5 2/3 innings over those two appearances and logging a 19.06 ERA. Why is this relevant? The Yankees told Wang what they thought of his ace status by shelling out $242 million in long-term contracts to pitchers they believed had a better upside. That the 2009 version of Wang looks more like the pitcher who faced Cleveland in ’07 as opposed to the one who helped lead that team to a wild-card berth hasn’t helped his case.
As far as Phil Hughes is concerned, he is in the bullpen now, and as Baumbach and others have written, the Yankees view his future in the rotation. The same is true with Wang. He’s viewed as a starter. But what happens if and when Brian Bruney or Damaso Marte return to their respective relief spots? Whose future is in the Yankees’ rotation then? Will the Yankees wait that long to make their move?
We’ll know the answers soon enough.
Hitting coach Kevin Long has promised to follow Robinson Cano home to the Dominican this winter and rebuild his swing. He has the technology:
The work there will be extensive and represents a complete overhaul of the infielder’s swing.
The promise is of a completely revamped player in advance of Spring Training. Long outlined pieces of his blueprint for Cano by eliminating excess action, while putting him in a better position to hit, squaring up more with the pitcher. Addressing Cano’s strike-zone discipline is also high on the to-do list.
“You’re going to see a huge difference visually,” Long said. “You’ll see less movement, an explosive, compact swing, and you’ll probably see more home runs. I think his average will go way up and I think his walks will go way up.”
MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch as the story.