April 2009

Yankees vs. Tigers: 4/27/09 Lineups

yankees.jpgYANKEES (9-9)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Jose Molina C
Ramiro Pena 3B

CC Sabathia (1-1, 4.81)

tigers.jpgTIGERS (10-8)
Curtis Granderson CF
Placido Polanco 2B
Magglio Ordonez RF
Miguel Cabrera 1B
Carlos Guillen DH
Gerald Laird C
Brandon Inge 3B
Ryan Raburn LF
Adam Everett SS

Justin Verlander (0-2, 9.00)

Memo to CC: Winning time

sabathia_250_042709.jpgBy Jon Lane
I know it’s April 27. I’ve said and written many times that last I checked, seasons do not end in late April. The Yankees are .500, but plenty of would-be contenders are in worse predicaments. Alas, because we’re in New York and it’s the Yankees, hell is breaking loose. Cries of “this team is aging, old, tired, and has no heart …” have caused sleepless nights, yet all it takes is one big game to re-write perception. That’s the baseball season. That’s how it works over 162 games and eight-nine months. How many times in recent history were the Yankees declared dead, only to find it within them to win 90-100 games?

That said, right here and right now, the Yankees have big problems. Being swept by the Red Sox is never good. Blowing two wholly winnable games and allowing a steal of home in the third is inexcusable. Look, Mariano Rivera is going to blow saves, so if that’s feeding your ulcers, get over it and get off his back. But neither Rivera’s gopher ball nor Damaso Marte and his 15.19 ERA had anything to do with a problem that simply will not go away: The Yankees were 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position and left 15 men on base Friday night. On Saturday, they scored 11 runs and still lost. Enough said there.

When was the last time the Yankees had a feared, unequivocal, no-fuss, no-worries stopper? Mike Mussina won 20 games last season and he was great, but I’m talking about a bona fide big guy in the prime of his career who has carried his team on broad shoulders before. That’s you, CC Sabathia. Tonight in Detroit, you have to stop this. You have to get the Yankees re-aligned with their universe, a place in which their contending against their history and the justification of a palatial new home. You were handed $161 million to win a hell of a lot more than you lose.

Tonight, CC, play stopper. Go long, go hard and if not all the way, get the ball to Rivera with a lead. You cannot hand over the responsibility of halting a four-game losing streak to Phil Hughes.

This Tigers team, Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, etc., can rake, even if all the pistons aren’t firing at once. Still, you’ve been decent against them throughout your career (13-9, 4.70), especially at Comerica Park (7-2, 3.80). It’s the ideal time to improve those April numbers of 11-10 with a 4.47 ERA over your first eight seasons.

Everyone is expecting it: your fans, your manager. You’ve shown you can handle the media. You haven’t snapped, snarled or played hide-and-seek. You’re a guy who in crisis situations says, “It’s okay guys. It’s all good. We’ll be alright, just follow my lead.”

Do it, CC. It’s April 27, but fair or not, tonight is already a must-win.
 
The suggestion box

  • The AP this morning called Alex Rodriguez a “conquering rescuer.”How many of you right now are wishing A-Rod would go away? It’s either A-Rod and his shenanigans or the awesome Angel Berroa/Ramiro Pena duet at third base. Berroa has played all of three games at third. It showed Sunday night and he’s has done nothing since winning ROY in 2003. Suggestion: start Pena and tighten your defense until Rodriguez returns, which may be well before the target date of May 15.
  • Nice first impression by Mark Melancon, eh? Yes, two innings do not make a career, but he worked out of his own bases-loaded, no-out jam without allowing a run. Once Brian Bruney returns, wouldn’t a Rivera-Bruney-Melancon back end work nicely? David Robertson (yes, he allowed Mike Lowell’s crushing double on Saturday) also deserves a longer look and Phil Coke more rope. The alternative is more of Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Marte and Jonathan Albaladejo.

Lineups: Yankees at Red Sox, 4/26/09

YANKEES (9-8)
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Melky Cabrera RF
Angel Berroa 3B

Pitching: LHP Andy Pettitte (2-0, 2.53).

RED SOX (11-6)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Kevin Youkilis 1B
J.D. Drew RF
Jason Bay LF
Mike Lowell 3B
Jason Varitek C
Nick Green SS

Pitching: RHP Justin Masterson (1-0, 3.18)

By the (ugly) numbers

By Jon Lane
The Yankees are 9-8. In five of those losses they’ve allowed at least 10 runs and have been outscored 73-27.

On Wednesday, the Yankees played baseball for four hours and 57 minutes covering 14 innings. Saturday, it took 4:21 to complete the sixth-longest nine-inning game in Major League history.

Think the bullpen is tattered and torn? Brian Bruney is on the disabled list and there are big problems with everyone not named Mariano Rivera. Jonathan Albaladejo,
Phil Coke, Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras have a combined
ERA of 7.08. Marte has been a disaster and there’s no middle ground with Ramirez or Veras. Both are either real good or flat-out unwatchable. (No, Joba Chamberlain is not being moved to the bullpen.)

The past two losses have been galling. Rivera blew a two-run lead in the ninth on Friday and A.J. Burnett a 6-0 advantage yesterday, a game that required 385 pitches, 28 hits, two errors, 15 walks, a catcher’s interference and two hit batters in those four hours and 21 minutes.

What hasn’t changed is the Yankees’ biggest problem offensively last season, delivering with runners on base. Saturday they slugged 15 hits but left 12 men on base and are a combined 7-for-36 with runners in scoring position in the series.

The Rays are 7-11. The Angels, 6-11. The Indians, 6-12. The Mets, 8-9. The Cubs, 8-8. Moral of the story: seasons do not end in April and none of those teams’ managers are on the hot seat. The Red Sox have won nine in a row, yet are one game behind first-place Toronto with the Yankees three behind the pace.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Yankees vs. Red Sox: 4/24/09 Lineups

yankees.jpgYankees (9-6)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera CF
Jose Molina C
Cody Ransom 3B

Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 5.06)

redsox.jpgRed Sox (9-6)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Kevin Youkilis 1B
J.D. Drew RF
Jason Bay LF
Mike Lowell 3B
Jason Varitek C
Nick Green SS

Jon Lester (1-2, 5.50)

A-Rod: King of Boston

arod_350_042409.jpgBy Jon Lane
Remember Alex Rodriguez? If Cody Ransom’s .170 average, or February installments of “As A-Rod Turns,” hasn’t reminded you that he’s one of the top-five players in baseball who’s off-the-field melodrama overshadows his worldly talent, here’s something fun to check out while awaiting Yankees vs. Red Sox.

Gordon Edes, former Boston Globe columnist now penning for Yahoo! Sports, wrote a fictional account of what life in Boston would be like if the MLBPA had not shot down an A-Rod to the Red Sox trade in 2004, which led to the Yankees acquiring his services.

I’m not in Boston, but Kimberly Jones is there and Jerome Preisler will be on location for tomorrow’s A.J. Burnett-Josh Beckett matchup. Jerome’s Deep in the Red column appears regularly on YESNetwork.com and his “Short Hops” feature offered unique perspectives of  Yankee Stadium. Julia’s Rants also looks at the long history between the Yankees and Red Sox.

Back later with the lineups.

Enter Phil Hughes?

By Jon Lane
Peter Abraham has a report on Chien-Ming Wang’s extended spring game. Wang threw 91 pitches, 70 for strikes, walked none and struck out 11 in seven innings against Phillies Minor Leaguers. However, Nardi Contreras told reporters in Tampa that Wang needs more arm strength and that is sinker is not consistent enough.

The AP’s full report is here. The impression is that the Yankees will DL Wang. Phil Hughes would be lined up to start Tuesday in Detroit if the Yankees go that route.

Pete Caldera has more and cited a source that said Wang won’t pitch on Tuesday. Wang gave up four runs (three earned) on nine hits and Contreras said that he still needs to re-build arm strength coming off last season’s foot injury.

Off day reading material

By Jon Lane
Yesterday produced a 4:57 eyesore, but a dramatic win capped off an eventful day on YESNetwork.com.

Melky Cabrera and Jose Veras each played hero on an afternoon where the new Yankee Stadium again was a launching pad. CC Sabathia, however, is off to another slow start. He admitted to trying to be too fine, but he’s not sweating it. Neither should you.

Kimberly Jones works the clubhouse for TV and us. She shares details about her conversations with Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Cano. And mark your calendar for Thursday, April 30. The Yankees return home after a six-game road trip and Kim will hold her first live chat.

(Wang is in Tampa, Fla., this morning pitching in an extended spring game. Stay logged on for an update.)

Bob Lorenz had enjoyed a few days off, but is back Blobbin‘ tomorrow night as the Yankees begin their series with the Red Sox.

Welcome Mrs. Singy to the YESNetwork.com blogging network. Suzanne Molino Singleton is an online writer and columnist for Smart Woman. Her stories on life as the wife of our own Ken Singleton are interesting and enjoyable.

_______________________

Despite uneven play, the Yankees head to Boston 9-6 and on their first three-game winning streak. It’s critical that they continue to build momentum. In prior seasons, they’ve started slow and needed a relentless second-half surge to make the playoffs, where by that time they had nothing left. Here’s a breakdown of their starts the last six seasons.

2003
First 15 games: 12-3
Final record: 101-61

2004
First 15 games: 8-7
Final record: 101-61

2005
First 15 games: 6-9
Rock bottom: 11-19 (May 6)
Final record: 95-67

2006
First 15 games: 7-8
Final record: 97-65

2007
First 15 games: 8-7
Rock bottom: 21-29
Farthest Behind: 14.5 (May 29)
Final record: 94-68

2008
First 15 games: 8-7
Rock bottom: 20-25 (May 20 after a 12-2 loss to Baltimore at Yankee Stadium)
Farthest Behind: 12.5 (Aug 31)
Final record: 89-73 (missed playoffs)

Odds, ends and oddities

By Jon Lane
The secret to Jonathan Albaladejo’s success? Simple. After taking his warm-up pitches on the mound, he has a way of blocking out all distractions (fans taunting, piped-in stadium energizers, what have you). He shouts to himself, “SHUT THE [HELL] UP!” Over his last couple of appearances Albaladejo escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam and was part of Wednesday’s yeoman effort by the bullpen. If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

Before the game, it was my turn to get punk’d. I’m exiting the visitors’ clubhouse and let the door close behind me. Suddenly I hear a loud thud and an angry cry. I was made to believe that I failed to realize that someone was right behind me and did not hold the door open. The security guard who prevents riff raff from entering sacred ground shoots me a dirty look. I open the door worried about the person behind it. He shoots me a smile, points and says, “Nothing happend. I’m okay.” The guard let out a laugh that reverberated through the vast hallway.

Every game a Yankee Stadium employee parks himself into an open seat on press row and through a walkie-talkie communicates runs, hits, errors, runners left on base and the current line score, to the people manually updating the old-school scoreboards in left and right field. I’ve never seen that at Fenway Park. There must be a tried and true system that’s done right by Red Sox employees since 1912.

Imagine yourself in the zone, working feverishly to beat deadline off a 4:57 game and you’re interrupted by the piercing sound of a fire alarm. This wasn’t a drill, nor was it an actual emergency. Yet this went non-stop for about 15 minutes. A few fed-up writers made phone calls and implored on-site security to rectify the situation.

Poor Johnny Damon. A fan reached for a ball hit by Kurt Suzuki in the second inning, denying him of any chance to make a play. Instant replay upheld the original home run call, but that didn’t stop a few fans from briefly giving this one person the Steve Bartman treatment. Well, maybe not that bad, but why this yearning for a souvenir when it can break a difference-making play, especially when it goes against your team?

As for Damon, he misplayed Jason Giambi’s fly ball in the third, which led to the Athletics’ fourth run after homers by Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera trimmed the A’s lead to 3-2. For the rest of the game, fans sitting in left field gave Damon sarcastic ovations with every catch and chanted his name during the rest of his at-bats. This wasn’t the usual roll-call, folks.

From the for what it’s worth department: CC Sabathia lifetime against the A’s: 3-7 with a 6.26 ERA, the highest against any AL team. He starts Monday in Detroit, and is 13-9, 4.70 versus the Tigers and 7-2, 3.80 in 11 starts at Comerica Park. His one start there last year wasn’t pretty: nine runs on eight hits (two homers) in four innings pitched.

Has anyone noticed Robinson Cano is on a 10-game hitting streak and batting a team-high .367? The player many wanted traded has 22 hits this month. Last April Cano was 15-for-106 (.151) in 29 games.

The Pulse of New York

Every Wednesday, YES Blog takes the “Pulse of New York” on some of the week’s biggest sports stories. Have your voice heard by voting in the below polls:

What is your opinion on all the home runs at Yankee Stadium?(online surveys)

If you ran the Mets, what would you have done with Dwight Gooden’s signature?(online surveys)

Former Mets pitcher Heath Bell is currently projected to finish the 2009 season with 76 saves. How many do you think he will have?(answers)

The Tampa Bay Rays are currently in last place. Where will they finish?(answers)

At 11-3, the Florida Marlins are currently leading the NL East. Who do you think will win the division?(online surveys)

Chien-Ming Wang will…(online surveys)