By Jon Lane
A sunny day so far here at Yankee Stadium. There was rain in this morning’s forecast, but it looks like it’ll hold up.
A couple of historical quick hits and what to watch for:
Thirty years ago tonight, Bobby Murcer drove in all five runs of the Yankees’ 5-4 win over the Orioles hours after delivering the eulogy at Thurman Munson’s funeral. Murcer’s two-run single off Tippy Martinez in the bottom of the ninth won the game.
Two years ago tomorrow, Joba Chamberlain, tonight’s starter, made his Major League debut at Toronto when he closed out a 9-2 Yankees win by allowing a hit, walking two and striking out two in two scoreless innings. Chamberlain began the campaign at Single-A Tampa before promotions to Double-A Trenton (6/11) and Triple-A Scranton (7/24).
Back with more later with news and notes. Here are tonight’s lineups.
News and notes from both clubhouses:
? Anthony Claggett is still here. Joe Girardi is comfortable with having an extra arm at his disposal at least for the start of this series, but he implied that Ramiro Pena will soon be back with the big club.
? Brett Gardner, out since July 25 with a fractured left thumb, will get his cast off the beginning of next week and have another X-Ray.
“It’s tough to sit back and watch, but at the same time at least I’m not out for longer,” Gardner said. “I don’t know yet how long I’m going to be out for, but the main thing is I didn’t have to have surgery. This thing is going to heal on its own and I should be back in a couple of weeks.”
? David Ortiz and incoming Major League Players Association director Michael Weiner will meet the media on Saturday to discuss last week’s report that Ortiz failed a test in 2003 for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Boston Globe. Ortiz has one hit in his last 14 at-bats, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona hasn’t noticed any distraction or difference in Big Papi’s demeanor.
“I see him handling things very well,” Francona said. “Because he DHs, he’s not a guy I’ll follow around during a game anyway.”
? BoSox outfielder Rocco Baldelli was placed on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his foot and ankle during batting practice Wednesday night in St. Petersburg. With Baldelli on the DL and Jason Bay out with strained right hamstring/quad muscle, outfielder Josh Reddick was recalled from Triple-A. And in a surprise twist, Kevin Youkilis volunteered to play left field. Youkilis appeared in two games in right last season and 18 career games in left – all in 2006.
“The more I thought about it, it’s a way of getting a lot of good bats in the lineup, and he’s willing to do it, which amazes me,” Francona said. “I told him we’ll do it.”
Francona didn’t completely rule it out, but there is a chance Bay could miss the whole four-game series.
A sign draped from the concourse above the Mohegan Sun sports bar read: “Papi, need a little juice?” Security quickly confiscated it.
Muhammad Ali, who presented Yankee Stadiumwith the “Six Star Diamond Award,” is introduced to the crowd to a nice ovation. While be escorted around the field in a golf cart, Ali is waving and pointing to fans. Derek Jeter went to greet Ali and the whole team joined them for a group photo.
First pitch 7:08, a strike to Jacoby Ellsbury. Two pitches later he grounds out to second base. We’re off an running.
Before the game I thought David Ortiz would be received no worse than usual. Scratch that. The boos are loud and there are faint “steroids” chants. Nice work by Chamberlain to retire Papi on a fly out to right with two on and two out. You figure it’s going to be one of these games in which the tone is set not by dominance, but by escaping crisis situations and delivering in the pinch.
Through two innings Chamberlain has showed grit. A double and walk put the first two Red Sox batters on base, but Chamberlain bounced back with three straight outs, the last two on strikeouts that had the Stadium rocking.
Chamberlain has been flirting with disaster all night. Dustin Pedroia opened the third with a solo homer that gave Boston a 1-0 lead. After walking the next two batters, Chamberlain got Ortiz to ground into a double play and J.D. Drew to fly out to center. However, he’s thrown 64 pitches through three innings and the Yankees wasted a golden opportunity in the second when Jorge Posada was thrown out at home plate. His mistake was not sliding on what was a high throw by Pedroia, but why send him when you could have had bases loaded, one out and Smoltz on the ropes?
So far, we’re seeing sample sizes of why the Yankees are 0-8 against the Red Sox.
Johnny Damon goes yard to right to tie the game 1-1. It was a carbon copy of Pedroia’s blast that’s been exclusive to this new yard all season. Mark Teixiera just doubled. Business is picking up.
Casey Kotchman homers to – where else? – right field. 3-1, Boston.
The Melk Man
delivers. Three-run bomb to right (this was legit). 5-3 Yankees, the
first time they’ve led the Red Sox in this park.
Jorge Posada’s three-run home bounced off the wall that houses Monument Park. Smoltz lit up for eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings and the Red Sox sampled what the Yankees had to endure with Billy Traber last season.
The Yankees have completed an eight-run bottom of the fourth that took 34 minutes. They sent 12 men to the plate and lead 9-3. If they blow this they will go 0-19 against the Red Sox.
This sums up Chamberlain’s evening: He walks the bases loaded and allows a run-scoring single before ending the fifth with strikeouts of Kotchman and Nick Green (starting shortstop Jed Lowrie left the game with an irritated left forearm). That’s it for Joba (5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 108 pitches/62 strikes), who wasn’t the pitcher he’s been in the second half.
Billy Traber stinks.
It’s Phil Coke vs. David Ortiz with two on and two out in the sixth inning. Alas, it’s 11-4, Yankees.
Ortiz pops out to short. Big Papi is 0-for-4 and one for his last 18.
This release from the Yankees. Your new fifth starter?
YANKEES ACQUIRE RHP CHAD GAUDIN
The New York Yankees tonight announced they have acquired right-handed pitcher Chad Gaudin from the San Diego Padres in exchange for a player to be named later.
Gaudin (pronounced Go-DAN), 26, was 4-10 with a 5.13 ERA (105.1IP, 60ER), 105 strikeouts and 56 walks in 20 games (19 starts) with the San Diego Padres this season. He held his opponents to three earned runs or less in 12 of his 19 starts, including five straight from July 8-31, and earned National League “co-Player of the Week” honors (with Florida’s Hanley Ramirez) for the period ending 6/28, after going 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and striking out 20 batters in 15.0 innings pitched.
He owns a 32-35 career record with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 205 games (69 starts) over parts of seven seasons with Tampa Bay (2003-04), Toronto (2005), Oakland (2006-08), Chicago-NL (2008) and San Diego (2009). In 69 career starts, Gaudin is 20-28 with a 4.85 ERA, striking out 306 batters in 378.2 innings pitched with a .276 opponent’s batting average. He is 12-7 with a 4.00 ERA in 136 relief appearances, striking out 125 batters in 175.2 innings pitched with a .260 opponent’s average.
In addition, Gaudin made three scoreless relief appearances for the Athletics in the 2006 American League Championship Series against Detroit (3.1IP, 2H, 3BB, 1K).
Born in New Orleans, La., he was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the 34th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.
A nugget on Gaudin: He one-hit the Yankees for seven innings in a 7-0 win on June 30, 2007 pitching for the A’s.
Mark Teixeira goes yard off poor Billy Traber. It’s 12-4, Yankees, yet they’ve employed four pitchers tonight compared to Boston’s two. I’m just sayin’.
It’s a 12-4 game and there’s still drama. Dustin Pedroia didn’t take too kindly to being hit in the shoulder by Mark Melancon. Jorge Posada had to calm him down en route to first base.
By Jon Lane
Yes it’s August 6 and this series will not decide the season, but whenever the Yankees and Red Sox hook up, it means something. So much so that Muhammad Ali will be in the house tonight. The Yankees will pay tribute to the three-time World Heavyweight Champion during a pregame ceremony when Ali and Joseph Cinque, President of the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences, will present Yankee Stadium and Hal Steinbrenner with the academy’s “Six Star Diamond Award,” for excellence in hospitality.
The hype machine has been churning all morning talking about the teams’ first meeting since June 11. The Yankees lead the Red Sox by 2 ½ games and barring a collapse on either side, this will go down to the wire (and don’t write off the Rays either).
In the event you’re visiting from Neptune, the Red Sox are 8-0 against the Yankees this season. Yankees fans are tired of hearing it and so are the players. Back in June, they flew to Fenway 8-3 in their last 11 games after taking a rain-shortened series from the Rays confident that the results would be different. The Red Sox took Game 1, 7-0, and won the next two each by one run. Most disturbing about the last loss was the Yankees’ inability to hit Brad Penny.
If you disagree with the theory that the Red Sox own a psychological advantage, consider that they’re 2-13 at Tropicana Field — and played like it the past two nights. This team is beaten up. Jason Bay re-aggravated his hamstring, which means you could be looking at an outfield of J.D. Drew, Rocco Baldelli and Jacoby Ellsbury — and the rotation is so tattered the Red Sox signed Paul Byrd out of semi-retirement to a Minor League contract.
After Sunday, the Red Sox will be anywhere from 1 1/2 games up to 6 1/2 games back. One fan who called into WEEI-AM took a pessimistic stance: “We have lots of holes. We acted hastily on [cutting Julio] Logo. We’re gonna get slaughtered.
Tonight’s result will be telling. A Red Sox win and Yankees fans will panic. A Yankees win and they’ll be 3 ½ games in front, and 1-8 won’t look so bad. I’ll be on location with Jerome Preisler later today for full coverage from both sides. In the interim, a few more storylines to get you ready:
? How will Yankees fans react to Big Papi? Tonight is David Ortiz’s first game at Yankee Stadium since the revelation that he was one of the infamous 104. The big guy has yet to discuss it in great detail. Will he speak tonight or the next three days or hide from the phalanx of cameras, microphones and notepads? Chris Shearn pleaded with Yankees fans to not sink to Red Sox Nation’s level and its treatment of Alex Rodriguez. Will they comply? And will Ortiz kill the Yankees again in a big spot? Despite his shoddy overall numbers (.225-15-61), he’s .321-2-8 against New York this season with a .679 slugging percentage. There’s something about seeing him at-bat with runners on base, the game on the line and facing Mariano Rivera. How Phil Coke and/or Phil Hughes (unavailable tonight) or Alfredo Aceves fares in this situation will be their toughest challenge this season.
? Joba Chamberlain is pitching on seven days rest. He’s been the Yankees’ best starter since the All-Star break (0-3, 0.83 ERA in three starts), but is also on that undisclosed innings limit, a situation that will continue to be scrutinized. If he shuts down Boston tonight and continues this run, can the Yankees continue to consider pulling him from the rotation? Or is asking a 23 year old (24 next month) to tread deep waters risking either injury or a severe drop in production (see Fausto Carmona)? One thing not to worry about is his mettle. Despite an 0-1, 4.09 ledger in two starts this year, Chamberlain has succeeded against the Red Sox before and you know that he can deliver in the clutch.
? How much does John Smoltz have left? His ERA is 7.12 — 1-2, 9.18 since the break — and has pitched into the sixth inning (but no further) in only three of his seven starts. The Yankees’ potent lineup and Coors Field East may spell early disaster.