Results tagged ‘ Robinson Cano ’

Game 6 – Take II

stadium_450_102509.jpgBy Jon Lane
It’s definitely not a stretch to say that the weather is a tad better than it was 25 hours ago. At that time the game was postponed, we were scurrying to piece together information, and I ended driving home on the Northern State River.

A different story this evening one hour before Andy Pettitte throws the first pitch of what could be an American League-pennant clinching game, which would be the 40th in Yankees history. Two things I noted yesterday was Pettitte being one win from becoming baseball’s all-time leader in series-clinching wins (his four is tied with Roger Clemens, Catfish Hunter and Dave Stewart). Yesterday was also 13 years to the night when Pettitte out-dueled John Smoltz in a 1-0 victory in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series, a win that gave New York a 3-2 win and set the table for its first World Championship in 18 years.

What more historical karma? Twenty-three years ago tonight, Mookie Wilson’s grounder ate Bill Buckner and gave the Mets an improbable 6-5 win that tied the 1986 Fall Classic at 3-3. Watching batting practice earlier, these Yankees had that all-business aura about them, yet kept each other loose. Robinson Cano was at the dugout steps exchanging small talk when Derek Jeter tapped him on the helmet with his bat.

The Angels are taking BP now. As I’ve written previously, there is no quit in Mike Scioscia’s team. If the Yankees can pound Joe Saunders earlier, it would certainly give everyone a chance to catch their breath. But don’t count in it. Three out of the five games played in this ALCS have been decided by one run – with Games 2 and 3 needing extra innings. I’m anticipating another pitcher’s duel. Saunders is a 16-game winner who gave up two runs in seven frames in Game 2. Pettitte is 6-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 12 LCS starts and 6-1, 3.95 in 10 starts as a Yankee.

Given how the 2009 season has played out, a close game benefits the New Yorkers. Besides their league-high 57 wins at Yankee Stadium (4-0 in the playoffs), they own 22 postseason walk-off wins. After winning 15 of the walk-off variety in the regular season, the Yankees have two in the playoffs, one coming on a home run.

Of course, all this means nothing; the game has to be played. But I’m one of many who has played the mystique and aura cards while telling stories (my colleague Chris Shearn is a firm believer in karma.) When you think you’ve seen enough, Alex Rodriguez takes Joe Nathan and Brian Fuentes deep to rescue the Yankees from certain defeat.

Let’s see what develops tonight. Back with much more, starting with Bernie Williams throwing out the first pitch.

7:50 p.m. Playing on the Stadium jukebox during a montage of Yankees highlights: The Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight,” The Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s Gonna Be a Good Night.” Think Stadium Ops want the Yankees to get it done this evening?
 
8:10 p.m. Chuck Mangione with a beautiful rendition of our national anthem. Mangione also played the anthem the day Dave Righetti threw his no-hitter on July 4, 1983. Thanks to Bill Stimers (aka “Bill the Baker” and longtime friend of George Steinbrenner) for that nugget. (There’s that karma thing again.)

bernie_250_102509.jpgMeanwhile, Bernie Williams walked to the mound to an incredible ovation to throw out the first pitch.

8:19 p.m. Andy Pettitte warming up to “Welcome to the Jungle.” The new house is stoked.

8:21 p.m. First pitch a called strike to Chone Figgins. Game time temperature 58 degrees.

8:26 p.m. Man on a mission: Pettitte pitches a clean first throwing 12 pitches, nine for strikes.

8:37 p.m. An eventful bottom of the first ends with a thud. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez stroke back-to-back two-out singles (the latter extended his postseason hitting streak to 11 games). Jorge Posada, however, ended the threat with a fly out to right field. The Yankees are batting .216 (16-for-74) with runners in scoring position in the playoffs.

8:41 p.m. Swishlicious! Nick Swisher executes a 9-9-3 double play, capitalizing on yet another Angels baserunning blunder, this time when Vladimir Guerrero got caught too far off first. Now Nick Swisher has to start hitting.

8:46 p.m. 0-0 after 1 1/2. For fun facts and figures, meet Joe Auriemma At the Bat.

8:55 p.m. Swisher just gets under a Saunders 3-2 pitch and flies out to left. He’s now 3-for-30 (.100) in the postseason.

8:59 p.m. Big spot for Johnny Damon: Bases loaded, Saunders needing a breather and that galling RISP postseason stat.

9:03 p.m. Unreal. A ground out to first on the second pitch Damon sees. Saunders has thrown 38 pitches, yet the Yankees have stranded five through two innings and there’s no score. That RISP average? It’s now .213. The Yankees may be the cardiac crew, but they cannot continue to blow these golden opportunities.

9:05 p.m. The Jeff Mathis now has eight hits (five doubles) this postseason. The Yankees might rue the day they failed with runners on base.

9:15 p.m. 1-0 Angels on Bobby Abreu’s run-scoring single. Pettitte is pitching well outside of the Mathis double. He needs help from his offense.

9:23 p.m. Hmmm …. A fly ball to deep right that did NOT carry out of this ballpark?

9:33 p.m. Pettitte razor-sharp in the fourth with two called strikeouts (with help from plate umpire Dale Scott on a low-and-outside Strike 3 to Guerrero). It’d be a good time for the offense to break through. Swisher is due up second.

9:38 p.m. Swisher with a base hit to left. First and second with nobody out. Now or never.

damon_250_102509.jpg9:48 p.m. Breakthrough and redemption. Damon strokes a two-run single to center field.

10:00 p.m. The good news: Yankees chase Saunders, put up three runs and Posada faces Darren Oliver with the bases loaded. The bad news: A double-play grounder ends the inning. You can’t squander chances to break the game open in the postseason, folks. Think of it like a football team stalling in the red zone and settling for field goals.

At this rate you’re getting Pettitte for seven and Mariano Rivera for two.

10:13 p.m. Game 6 attendance: 50,173, the largest ever at the new Yankee Stadium.

10:25 p.m. Big spot for Guerrero, who went yard of Pettitte in Game 3.

10:27 p.m. Guerrero has something left, lofting a pitch about four inches from the ground into right for a double. It’s second and third with two out for Pettitte with Joba Chamberlain warming up.

10:32 p.m. Pettitte squeaks out of the sixth after deflecting Kendry Morales’ comebacker and throwing the first for the final out to put the Yankees nine outs away from their 40th AL pennant. He’s thrown 91 pitches through six innings and could be done for the night. Cabrera, Jeter and Damon are due up. An insurance run or three
won’t hurt, especially the way Chamberlain and Phil Hughes have looked in the postseason.

10:43 p.m. Here’s why this game is far from over: The Yankees have left nine men on base and ended the sixth when Mark Teixeira grounded into a double play. Failing to break it open against Darren Oliver is cause for concern.

Pettitte’s out to start the seventh, BTW.

pettitte_200_102509.jpg10:49 p.m. Pettitte leaves to a well-deserved standing ovation with a runner on and one out, and tips his cap, after throwing 99 pitchers in 6 1/3 innings. Chamberlain in relief. Two years ago this is a security blanket. Not so this year (seven hits, 2 2/3 innings).

11:02 p.m. Yankees are six outs away thanks to a Joba well done. A-Rod leads off the seventh with a single. He’s my choice for ALCS MVP if the Yankees get those last six outs.

11:08 p.m. Rivera warming up to work two innings. Good move. Meanwhile, Posada grounds into his second double play.

11:11 p.m. Make that the Yankees are six Mariano Rivera outs from their 40th AL pennant and a date with Cliff Lee and the Phillies here Wednesday night.

11:24 p.m. Inopportune time for Rivera to allow his first earned
run in a postseason home game since October 22, 2000 (Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets). It sliced the
Yankees’ lead to 3-2 before Rivera recovered to retire Kendry Morales.
Three outs to go.

Give credit to these Angels. They don’t quit. Ever.

11:36 p.m. The Angels have heart, but they are careless and probably threw away their season. First, Howie Kendrick dropped Morales’ throw after he fielded Swisher’s sacrifice bunt. Melky Cabrera put down a sacrifice that was to move runners to second and third, except Scott Kazmir threw it 10 feet over Kendrick’s head, allowing a valuable insurance run to come home.

11:44 p.m. Well, Teixeira made one loud out, but it got another run home to give Rivera a three-run lead. Is the game over? No. But I like those odds.

11:55 p.m. Rivera working the ninth needing those last three outs. Yankees fans are ready to party. And as I write, Kenrick grounds out to first. Two to go.

12:01 a.m.
Gary Matthews Jr., pinch-hitting for Mike Napoli, strikes out and the Yankees win their 40th American League pennant. They begin their first World Series since 2003 Wednesday night when CC Sabathia opposes Cliff Lee in this building. More from the clubhouse coming later.

This is not 2004

By Jon Lane
The inevitable comparisons are in full force. One victory from a World Series the Yankees drop a winnable Game 5 and are back home with two chances to grab that elusive ‘W’ with both hands and hold tight.

In the event you lived on Mars five years ago and are back on Earth: The Yankees blew a 3-0 ALCS lead to the Boston Red Sox in 2004, starting when they were three Mariano Rivera outs from a four-game sweep and the right to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the Fall Classic.

gordon_250_102309.jpgWatching Game 5 of Yankees-Angels, my colleague and friend Jerome Preisler couldn’t help but compare Phil Hughes to Tom Gordon, the latter one symbol of that epic collapse. I covered the 2004 ALCS from start to finish and sure there are similarities. Like these Angels, those Red Sox never quit. They had heart, soul, pop, clutch hitting and pitching, and some good luck. I remember specifically Game 5. The Yankees took a 4-2 sixth-inning lead on Derek Jeter’s three-run double off Pedro Martinez and had the bases loaded with two out. Hideki Matsui laced a liner to right field. If it drops, the game is broken open and we’re not talking about the 2004 ALCS.

Alas, Trot Nixon made a sliding catch to end the inning. Looking back at the series, Joe Torre called that the turning point, the first time when he told himself, “Uh oh.” David Ortiz homered off Gordon to begin the bottom of the eighth and Jason Varitek’s sacrifice fly off Rivera tied the game at four. Fate, by the way, also smiled on the Red Sox in the ninth when Tony Clark doubled off Keith Foulke, If the ball doesn’t bounce over Fenway Park’s short right-field fence, Ruben Sierra scores from first. Instead, Clark and Sierra had to stay on second and third. Miguel Cairo popped out and David Ortiz finally won the game in the 14th.

The moral of the history lesson: 2009 is a different time with a different team. These Yankees had it within them to pull out 15 walk-off wins and two in the postseason. Andy Pettitte and not Jon Lieber (to be fair, Lieber pitched very effectively in the ’04 postseason) is starting Game 6 Saturday night. And if there’s a Game 7, the season will be on CC Sabathia’s back, not our old friend Kevin Brown.

Furthermore, there are glaring differences between Joe Girardi’s lineup to what Torre had to send out for Games 6 and 7 five years ago:

DH
2004 – Kenny Lofton/Sierra
2009 – Matsui

2B
2004 – Cairo
2009 – Robinson Cano

1B
2004 – Tony Clark (John Olerud’s bruised instep kept him from starting Games 5-7)
2009 – Mark Teixeira

Cano instead of Cairo; Teixeira instead of Clark (who struck out to end Game 6 as the winning run at the plate). Here’s hoping you’re reassured. Now all this lineup has to do is score runs off two very good pitchers, Joe Saunders and Jered Weaver.

All eyes on Joba

By Jon Lane
A bit of a late start for yours truly but ready to go minutes before first pitch. On the surface, the Yankees and Red Sox have little to play for. Between the lines, there’s still plenty at stake, writes Steven Goldman. And try telling Joba Chamberlain tonight’s game doesn’t mean anything. We’ll get a good idea what he’s made of, and if takes out any anger and embarrassment by punishing the Red Sox. A message will be delivered, both to opponent and employers.

Back with much more as the night progresses.

7:15 p.m. Side retired on 13 pitches – two ground-ball outs and a flyout to center. No fuss, no wasted effort. It’s early but a very good sign.

7:22 p.m. Joe Girardi was animated and passionate in his defense of Joba’s innings limitations and why it was in the Yankees’ best interest. Without naming names, Fausto Carmona is one example of when some young arms – not all – are pushed too far too quickly.

“Everyone seems to have an idea of what’s best for Joba,” Girardi said. “Let’s not forget that he’s 23-24 years old and that this is first full season as a starter. This is a growing process. We knew that going into this year. I wouldn’t say his season has been horrible. You guys make it sound like, and I’m not accusing anybody, he’s 1-19 with a seven or eight ERA.”

Here’s the full interview.

7:28 p.m. A-Rod’s RBI single made it 1-0, Yankees. That was his 90th RBI in this, his 118th game of the season. Overall he’s .285-27-90. Considering the emotional trauma with his PED admission and overcoming hip surgery, that’s darn good. But certain questions will not go away until he delivers beginning in a little more than two weeks.

joba2_275_092509.jpg7:40 p.m. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night, Jason Bay, who goes down swinging at an 88 MPH breaking ball. Joba’s got that look in his eye like he’s mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.

7:57 p.m. Joba after three: Nine up, nine down. Three strikeouts. 36 pitches/24 strikes.

8:03 p.m. Make it .287-28-92 for A-Rod as he hit one to the George Washington Bridge. Lester is getting pounded. This is what you don’t want out of your No. 1 starter in the ALDS.

8:12 p.m. Robinson Cano is 2-for-2 and two hits shy of 200 on the season. He and Derek Jeter will soon be the fifth pair of Yankees to each collect 200 in a single season (Lou Gehrig-Earle Combs; Gehrig-Joe DiMaggio; Bernie Williams-Jeter; Williams-Alfonso Soriano).

lester_275_092509.jpg8:16 p.m. Lester took a Melky Cabrera line drive off his right kneecap. He’s laying prone on the field being attended by the Red Sox medical staff. He left the field limping to a nice ovation. The game will be delayed for a bit because new Boston pitcher Hunter Jones will get all the time he needs to warm up.

The hit plated a run to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

8:34 p.m. Victor Martinez ends Chamberlain’s brief flirtation with perfection. His two-out solo shot in the fourth puts Boston on the board.

8:37 p.m. Calm, cool and collected Chamberlain shakes off a two-out single by getting David Ortiz to tap his first pitch back to him. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for a report on Lester’s condition. Lester, by the way, allowed five earned runs in 2 1/3 IP, the most he’s given up since May 26.

8:50 p.m. X-Rays given to Lester were negative. He’s day-to-day with a contusion of right quad. This will be monitored, but it could have been a lot worse.

9:14 p.m. Breaking down Chamberlain’s fifth inning: Jason Bay single (7 pitches). J.D. Drew double (3). Jason Varitek pop up to third (1). Alex Gonzalez strike out (4). Jacoby Ellsbury ground out to first (2). Instead of imploding, Chamberlain quickly retired the No. 8 and 9 hitters and induced a .303 leadoff hitter to ground out. That’s answering your manager’s challenge.

9:32 p.m. David Ortiz goes yard and plates two with two out in what’s probably Chamberlain’s last inning. Nitpick about three runs allowed in six innings if that’s your thing, but Chamberlain needed to show some life and that’s what he did. He’s secured a Game 4 start in the ALCS (if the Yankees get there) from where I sit. He’ll work out of the bullpen during the DS when the Yankees take the extra off day and go with three starters. That’s when these Joba Rules you all love so much will be tossed into the Harlem River.

9:39 p.m. Great shot by YES’ cameras (the game’s on My9) of Dave Eiland talking to Chamberlain, Chamberlain listening and nodding intently, and Eiland ending the conversation with hands on both his shoulders and two slaps on his left one. If Andy Pettitte’s shoulder holds up, and Chamberlain and A.J. Burnett finish strong, the Yankees are fully loaded for October.

jeter_275_092509.jpg9:42 p.m. The Yankees’ six stolen bases tonight are a season high. They took a lot from that Angels series, didn’t they?

9:47 p.m. A-Rod has four RBIs and 93 on the season. Again, this is Game No. 118.

9:51 p.m. Mark Sanchez and Kerry Rhodes in the house. The 2-0 Jets host the Titans on Sunday. Even though Gang Green’s defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown yet, I’m taking Kimberly Jones’ advice and keeping Chris Johnson in my fantasy lineup.

10:16 p.m.
That stolen base count is now seven, two from Jeter. Talk about unveiling a new weapon.

10:37 p.m. It’s safe to say that Jonathan Albaladejo will not make the postseason roster.

10:46 p.m. Phil Hughes blows away Bay. It’s safe to say that Hughes will make the postseason roster.

Jobamania

joba_275_092509.jpgBy Jon Lane
Admittedly, I borrowed the headline from Peter Abraham, author of the LoHud Yankees blog. Pete, incidentally, begins his new job as Red Sox beat writer for The Boston Globe next week. We at YESNetwork.com wish him the best. He did great things for The Journal News and he’ll reach new heights in Beantown.

Based on the amount of Joba Chamberlain content on YESNetwork.com and various columns in today’s papers, it is Jobamania in the Bronx, though by no means is it running wild. Jobamania hasn’t been Hulkamania in nearly two months. Instead he’s been the jobber – in layman’s terms enhancement talent – old-school wrestling promoters feed to their established stars for a pounding.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. If you’re already calling Chamberlain “Joba the Bust,” get real, but the right-hander is 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his last eight outings. His start Sunday in Seattle was a complete embarrassment (seven runs, three innings), which left Joe Girardi to say – if you read between the lines – “Step it up, or else.” Pulling no punches, Bob Klapish writes that “the clock is running out on
this immature underachiever who threatens to take down the Bombers’
dream season.”

Simply put, there is no more polarizing figure in New York at the moment, perhaps in all of sports. Jim Kaat questions whether “The Joba Rules” are helping or hurting the right-hander. In today’s New York Daily News, Anthony McCarron gathered viewpoints from a few baseball experts. Former Mets and A’s pitching coach Rick Peterson believes the Yankees accomplished their team goals, but sports psychology consultant Dr. Jack Llewellyn told McCarron that any limits “might cause him to try to pitch better instead of just letting himself
pitch. It sounds like just words, but there is a big difference, and
the toll it takes is mentally. It just saps your energy when you’re trying to make yourself do things.”

To sum up, Chamberlain must pitch well tonight, at the very least keep the Yankees in the game. Another implosion and, unbelievably, Chad Gaudin may be your Game 4 ALCS starter.

_______________________

Hidden within Jobamaina, here’s what you need to know for tonight and this weekend:

? The Yankees’ magic number is five. The only way they win the AL East is by sweeping the Red Sox. Otherwise the party will be on hold until next week against the Royals.

? Considering Chamberlain’s opponent, it’s even more urgent he pitch well. Jon Lester (14-7, 3.33 ERA) is 11-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 20 starts since May 31 – the third-best ERA in the Majors over that span – and 3-0, 1.90 in six career starts against the Yankees. In that same stretch. Alex Rodriguez is 2-for-13 (.154) and Robinson Cano 2-for-18 (.111) facing the left-hander.

? This season, Mark Teixeira is 3-for-9 (.333) with a homer against Lester. In their careers, Derek Jeter is 8-for-23 (.348), Melky Cabrera 6-for-16 (.375) and Jose Molina 5-for-11 (.455).

? CC Sabathia starts Saturday against Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Yankees’ ace was moved up a day to provide him with extra rest before the playoffs. Andy Pettitte – his shoulder his fine, folks – opposes Paul Byrd Sunday afternoon.

Mid-week thoughts: Burnett a major variable

By Jon Lane
I suggested yesterday that Andy Pettitte deserves to start Game 2 of the ALDS ahead of A.J. Burnett. That was more to extol the virtues and merits of Pettitte than to condemn Burnett, who upon first glance has been a frontline starter his first season in New York.

But because there is rarely any middle ground with Burnett, because there have been times when the right-hander has been absolutely electric, it can be frustrating to see a net result of 10-8 with a 4.29 ERA. When he’s on, he takes over a game and captivates a city. When he’s off, whoa boy.

Burnett hasn’t won a game and owns a 6.54 ERA in a seven-start stretch since his last victory on July 27, and that includes the 7 2/3 scoreless innings he tossed against the Red Sox during that Friday night epic at Yankee Stadium. Last night the bad A.J. showed up in Baltimore. He allowed six runs on 11 hits (two home runs) and two walks in 5 1/3 innings and, worse, a television audience saw him lose control of his emotions (again).

You demand excellence from Burnett, for obvious reasons. You also want to see him succeed. He has the talent. He’s stayed healthy. He’s provided life and wisdom to the Yankees’ clubhouse beyond whipped-cream pies. Best of all he’s been accountable. He hasn’t blamed Jorge Posada or anyone and nobody has to tell him he must turn it around.

“I take these as a little bump in the road,” Burnett said. “I’m not going to stew on it too long and let it bring me down, because I thought I turned a good corner the last start and I’ve got to pitch in five days. I can’t let it affect me too much.”

Burnett’s next postseason appearance will be his first and a Game 3 start is not a demotion. It’s either a chance to sweep, a swing game or the nightmare scenario of avoiding an embarrassing sweep. The Yankees are paying Burnett $82.5 million over five years. At times he’s been money. Other times he’s been worth 82 cents. Next month, there is no choice but to be priceless.

_______________________

? Nick Swisher is hitting .200 at home with 20 RBIs, but .283 on the road with 52 RBIs. Strange, but his overall numbers are 23-72. The Yankees acquired Swisher in an offseason trade with the White Sox for Wilson Betemit. Swishalicious.

? He can sometimes make you want to pull your hair out, but Robinson Cano batted .347 with 19 runs scored and 16 RBIs in August. He’s already set a career high with 22 homers and his.320 overall average is his finest since 2006 (.342). I’ve killed him in this space over his inability to hit with runners in scoring position, but since August 27 he’s bumped his average in that area from .204 to .221.

? Mariano Rivera has saved 34 consecutive games, a personal best, and has 38 on the season. In his last 29 innings, he’s allowed one run while striking out 29. He might pitch forever.

? Jeter Meter: Nine hits from Lou Gehrig’s franchise record (2,721).

? Ian Kennedy threw batting practice for the first time since surgery in May to remove an aneurysm from below his right biceps, another step towards pitching in September’s instructional league and the Arizona Fall League. He’s 1-4 with a 6.14 ERA in 13 Major League games, but Kennedy’s story is far from finished. The humbling experience is maturing him and I see him earning a spot in the Yankees’ rotation within two years.

HOPE Week: Day 1

By Jon Lane
The Yankees kicked off HOPE Week today when Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and Joe Girardi paid a visit to the Chiappetta family. Each helped donate athletic equipment and food vouchers to their organization, the Patchwork of Young Leaders Society.

In the summer of 2006, Marco and Jennifer Chiappetta were married and
returned to their roots in Washington Heights.
While taking walks together, they were saddened by the sight of local
schoolyards that had been abandoned by children. Inspired to make a difference, Marco visited a park near his home to engage in athletics with whomever
wanted to play. His hope was that emotional connections on the
schoolyard could eventually spark a change in the culture of the
neighborhood.

Within a month, upwards of 60 teenagers began showing up to enjoy the
camaraderie and positive atmosphere of Marco’s activities. The couple
also opened their home to these children, offering stability and
encouragement many had never experienced. Even
for kids whose parents took an active interest in them, Marco and
Jennifer served as a bridge between the generations.

As time has
passed, the original children have become mentors themselves. As for Marco and Jennifer, who personally funded many of the group’s grassroots efforts from their own personal savings, they formalized their activist work into the Patchwork of Young Leaders Society. For more information or to donate, click here.

Tonight, the Chiappettas, the teenagers and some of the teenagers’ parents will attend the Yankees-Orioles game as special guests of the team.

Mets vs. Yankees: 6/12/09 Diary

firstpitch.jpgBy Jon Lane
First pitch: 7:09 p.m.
Off and running here at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will take a win, but if Joba can dominate it’ll be the ultimate shot in the arm coming off another disastrous Boston series. And yes, the sun is out and the sky is a crystal-clear blue.

A great start for Joba to retire the Mets in order on 14pitches. His first-inning troubles have been well-documented. Coming in he allowed 11 runs (10 earned) in the first (an 8.44 ERA).

7:27 p.m.
A mixed reception, though mostly boos, for Gary Sheffield. Sheff spoke at length before the game. No matter what you’ve read about him, my experiences covering him while he played with the Yankees was always positive. If you talked about baseball or boxing (one of his passions), or anything except steroid accusations, he was friendly, affable and quick with a smile. The veteran is enduring a miserable June (.107 coming in), but he’s been looked to for leadership and had high praise for Jerry Manuel even before Ken Rosenthal’s column was brought up.

Sheff’s struggles continue as Chamberlain caught him looking for Strike 3.

7:41 p.m.
Robinson Cano goes yard (what else?) to right field (where else?) to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead, home run 106 hit in this new building. According to various reports, speculation has centered on whether there is a wind tunnel in right field caused by either the open concourses or the slope of the stands, which is less steep that the original Yankee Stadium.

The next batter, Jorge Posada, missed a home run to dead center by about three or so feet. 

bleachers.jpg8:36 p.m.
I spent the third inning watching from Section 202, the bleachers, visiting a friend, which turned out to be a long visit. Chamberlain threw 43 pitches while walking and hitting a batter with the bases loaded to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. By the time I was leaving, Mark Teixeira homered to right center (really?) to put the Yankees back on top.

Some funny stories from the always-entertaining and fully loaded bleachers, so much so even the wine-and-cheese crowd can’t resist. A guard told me that many times suite ticket holders would venture down hoping to sit there.

“Let me see your ticket,” the guard would say.

“I’ve got better seats,” the person would reply.

“So why aren’t you sitting in them?” the guard would retort.

Later, while Chamberlain was walking the earth, a Yankees fans demanded that the guard give Mets fans the old heave-ho. The guard turned to me, rolled his eyes, and said, “I’m used to this. It’s a lot worse when Boston or Philly is here.”

In my friend’s row sat a line of Yankees fans with one poor Mets fan in the middle. She told me the Yankee boosters were taking bets on when this guy would get his rear-end kicked.

Not everything is perfect out there – far from it. That obstructed view everyone complains about? Whoa boy. From my vantage point in right center, the Mohegan Sun sports bar blocked off virtually all of left field from center field on. Still, it’s the place to be. Even if you don’t have bleacher tickets – again, the guards are strict about this, just ask the pampered ones – hanging out in the standing section above the sports bar, the food court, is a sense of community.

8:43 p.m.
Chamberlain allowed one hit in four innings, but walked five, hit two batters and threw 100 pitches. Another reason why the Yankees are fortunate to have CC Sabathia. The bullpen is somewhat rested, but Andy Pettitte is going tomorrow and the left-hander has thrown 104 pitches his last two starts, five and six innings, respectively. This creates a potentially precarious situation through the weekend.

Brett Tomko’s in. His job is to eat innings and keep the Mets off the scoreboard.

8:59 p.m.
A double, stolen base, walk and two-run double. 4-3 Mets. And at a blink of an eye, Gary Sheffield crushed a two-run bomb to left, strolling out of the batter’s box to admire career homer No. 505, 6-3 Mets. So much for Tomko doing his job. A reporter next to me quipped he’s a single and triple away from the cycle. Alas, Girardi spared fans the pain when he removed Tomko after his 37th pitch, a walk to Luis Castillo.

Interestingly, Joe Girardi changed his tune about Brian Bruney. The plan at first was for him to make a rehab start tomorrow at Double-A Trenton. Now it’s something the manager said had to be talked about and that he’d have an answer after the game. Reading between the lines, and evaluating everyone in the bullpen not named Mariano Rivera, Bruney could be activated tomorrow. Could Tomko be the one cut loose? It’s either that or DFA Angel Berroa and carry 13 pitchers.

jeterscoreboard.jpg9:11 p.m.
Shortly after I snapped this, the Captain went yard to – guess? – right field. The fourth homer of the game cuts the Mets lead to 6-4. Thanks to bullpen follies from both teams, expect us to be here awhile longer.

9:48 p.m.
Yet another home run, this a blast King Kong would be proud of. Hideki Matsui smoked one into the second deck in right field to put the Yankees back on top 7-6. Incidentally, today is Matsui’s 35th birthday, the second straight year he’s homered on his date of birth. I ran into his interpreter, Roger Kahlon, outside the Mets’ clubhouse before the game. He told me while this season’s been a struggle for Matsui, not playing every day reduces stress on his surgically-repaired knees. He came in batting .260 (.240 in June), but has gutted it out and delivered when the team needed it.

Alas, Sheffield led off the seventh with a double. Phil Coke is in for his team-leading 28th appearance and second in two nights.

9:53 p.m.
Coke gets Fernando Tatis, pinch-hitting for Brian Schneider, to hit into a double play, but Sheffield scored to tie the game at seven. This bullpen situation remains ridiculous and has to be addressed by July. No, Joba Chamberlain is not going there. In fact, Ken Rosenthal reported earlier today Huston Street, among others, is on the Yankees’ radar.

10:10 p.m.

Two on and one out in the seventh and the Yankees come away with nothing; Alex Rodriguez flailed at Strike 3 for the second out. They’re 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, a common theme during this current three-game losing streak.

Meanwhile, something rarely seen in Boston: Defense. Derek Jeter made like Billy Martin to catch a pop up between the mound and first base.

10:23 p.m.
Not fooling around, Girardi brings in Mariano Rivera with two out in the eighth. The best laid plans of mice and men … Rivera walks Carlos Beltran and David Wright doubles to right center to give the Mets an 8-7 lead. Let the speculation on whether Rivera is on the decline resume. This season, appearing in tie games, Rivera has allowed 6 ER in 6 2/3 IP.

10:39 p.m.
Here’s what the Yankees are facing in Francisco Rodriguez: 16-for-16 in save opportunities; league leader in saves with 210 since 2005; 2.35
ERA, 14 saves in 26 appearances against them.

10:53 p.m.
A-Rod vs. K-Rod. Yet another big spot for A-Rod, this time with the tying run on second and the winning run on first.

10:57 p.m.
Unbelievable. A-Rod pops up to second base … Luis Castillo dropped the ball. Jeter and Teixeira came home to score and some clown tossed a beer bottle into the press box. Yankees win 9-7.

11:31 p.m.
Turns out Bruney will pitch in Trenton on Saturday, while Damaso Marte will see Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Thanks for reading, everyone. I’ll have a full wrap on tonight’s wild events and this installment of the Subway Series on Monday.

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.

Live from the Bronx

By Jon Lane
Good Wednesday morning from the Bronx Majal. I can’t take credit for that one. My dot com colleague Chris Shearn is holding a nickname contest for the new Yankee Stadium. The top five choices will be narrowed down into a poll that will be decided by you, our readers.

Skies are overcast at the moment and while the sun has tried to break through, the forecast is calling for a few showers that will become steady in the afternoon. Chance of rain is 70 percent with rainfall expected to be near a quarter of an inch. That means there’s a 70 percent chance we’ll be in a rain delay and this will be the “I Hate Rain” version of the YES Blog.

For now, it’s down to the clubhouse to being reporting on the news of the day coming off a 5-3 win over the A’s. It’s CC Sabathia against highly-touted prospect Brett Anderson. I’ll be back later with lineups along with news and nuggets. Shearn and Joe Auriemma are also here to conduct exclusive interviews, including Joe’s one-on-one conversation with manager Joe Girardi.

11:03 a.m.
Today’s lineups

11:30 a.m.
A few quick hits

  • Brett Gardner gets the day off. Melky Cabrera hasn’t had a plate appearance since Saturday and Joe Girardi is playing the percentages. A’s starter Brett Anderson has held lefties to a .211 batting average and Gardner is batting .171 against left-handed pitching.

  • The Yankees are keeping a close eye on Hideki Matsui’s ailing knees. Yet Matsui’s bat has showed signs of life since his left knee was drained last Thursday. Yesterday was his first multi-hit game of the season (2-for-3 with a double) and he has seven hits in his last 18 at-bats (.389).

  • Chien-Ming Wang leaves for Tampa this afternoon for his extended spring game tomorrow morning and will re-join the Yankees Friday in Boston. He’ll throw under the supervision of Minor League pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman and other personnel. Whether Wang starts next week in Detroit will be determined after the game based on his performance.

“The bottom line is we get him right,” Girardi said. “Once we get him right we think he’ll be very effective for us.”

Already saddled with that 34.50 ERA, Wang’s career ERA at Fenway Park is 5.11. But he would have been skipped regardless of the opponent.

“This was pretty much made up because we thought he just needed to work on his stuff, not so much who we’re playing,” Girardi said. “He’s really struggled. We need to get his sinker to where it’s more consistent. We felt under a controlled setting it might be a little easier in a sense to get it going.”

Girardi added that Wang’s bullpen session yesterday was the best he’s had. It has to carry over to the game and since Wang and the Yankees continue to insist he’s healthy, the problem here is mental. Something is consuming the normally unflappable Wang once he’s on the mound and a solution needs to be unlocked – now.

  • Nick Swisher will ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow morning at 9:30. Swisher, who has reached base safely in all 14 games in which he has appeared, was again a media favorite this morning. Friday, like Mark Texieira and A.J. Burnett, Swisher will be participating in his first Yankees-Red Sox game. “What’s the point of asking about it?” Swisher said in response to whether he’ll seek advice from veteran Yankees on handling what’s certainly a different animal. “I’m going to experience it in 48 hours. The biggest thing is trying to keep your emotions low. And me being somewhat of a shy guy … being pretty rambuctious, that’s going to be key for me.”

  • During an otherwise quiet pregame, I got plenty of material for a Red Sox series preview I’ll be penning tomorrow, including exclusive interviews with Gardner and Joba Chamberlain. Joba starts Friday night against Jon Lester. The last time he was on Fenway’s mound was last July 25, when he pitched seven shutout innings to defeat Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, 1-0.

Back with ongoing commentary – rain or no rain.

1:24 p.m.
No score after one under a light drizzle; CC Sabathia caught Jason Giambi looking at strike three to retire the A’s in order to start the game.
 
Speaking of weather, a makeup date for Monday’s rainout has been announced: Thursday, July 23. The Yankees lose an off day, the A’s a travel day and that becomes a four-game series. Other alternatives were a double-header on July 23 or playing here tomorrow afternoon. The Yankees travel to Boston and the A’s to Tampa, so it’s not like they have to fly across the country.

1:34 p.m.
Kurt Suzuki’s three-run home run is being looked at by instant replay. The sets here are showing a fan reached over the left field wall and prevented an opportunity for Johnny Damon to make the catch. Obviously nobody has learned from Steve Bartman. We saw this in Baltimore, here on Sunday and it’s happened again.

1:37 p.m.
It’s a home run and CC & Co. are down 3-0. Suzuki’s blast came after a walk and a hard-hit single to right by Jack Cust. Robinson Cano’s diving catch took away another hit by Mark Ellis.

1:44 p.m.
Before the game I took my first walk around the entire Stadium, making stops at the Mohegian Sun Sports Bar and the Bleachers. The sports bar has been open to the public for the entire homestand, but that ends after today’s game when it turns into a membership club. You can purchase a season pass for a cool $750. Outside the place was a controlled line to get in; think of it like waiting to get into your favorite club.

Inside it’s an enclosed area offering top shelf liquor and a great shot of the field from dead center. Looking on the outside you’ll notice tinted windows, reason being is because it’s the batter’s eye, which also prohibits photography from the inside.

If this is outside of your price range, Tommy Bahama’s, a martini bar located on the second floor right above the great hall, is a nice alternative. You can’t see the field, but there’s plenty of room, a good crowd and the hard stuff.

1:52 p.m.
Back-to-back jacks from Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera have Sabathia and the Yankees back in the game. Twenty-four homers have been hit in this building, one shy of the record for most home runs over the first six games of a new place, one shy of the record set at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City in 1955, the year the A’s moved from Philadelphia.

2:08 p.m.
Sabathia’s defense betrayed him in the third, but he’s thrown 54 pitches off a start in which he threw 122. Before you roast him, another friendly reminder that he was 1-4, 7.76 last April.  That summer he reeled off a career-high 12 straight wins with a 1.55 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 128 innings pitched.

2:17 p.m.
Jorge Posada’s third-inning double was the 322nd of his career, which passes Yogi Berra for 11th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. It’s 4-4 after three in what’s shaping up to be a slugfest.

2:28 p.m.
Jeter hits one to Monument Park to put the Yankees ahead 5-4 after four. That’s the fourth homer today and 25th in this place, and we’re a scoreless half-inning away from this being an official game. The captain also passed Jason Giambi for sole possession of 10th place on the Yankees’ all-time list with career homer No. 210.

2:49 p.m.
It’s raining harder, but this game was in the books
after Sabathia worked a scoreless fifth with the Yankees ahead by one.
Sabathia has settled down nicely, having retired the last eight A’s
batters before walking Cust with one out.

2:54 p.m.
We’re back to square one. It’s 5-5 after 5 1/2.

3:12 p.m.
Cabrera was caught stealing second base with one out in the sixth, which proved costly after Cody Ransom laced a two-out double to left field until Derek Jeter doubled Ransom home with the go-ahead run. For all the chatter about the inordinate amount of home runs that have been hit here, Jeter hustling to take the extra base, a slow roller from Johnny Damon and a big hit from Mark Teixeira have given CC & Co. a two-run bulge.

That was a big spot for Teixeira, who was batting .286 with runners in scoring position and .333 with RISP and two outs. His base hit to right scored Jeter to make it 7-5, Yankees.

3:26 p.m.
Sabathia left after failing to protect a two-run lead; Phil Coke got the final out of the seventh. Not a good day for the big guy. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts and threw 112 pitches, 66 for strikes. But again, like last season proved, seasons aren’t made in April. To quote what Nick Swisher once told me, “Check his track record, bro.”

3:51 p.m.
The Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the seventh inning, loading the bases with nobody out but coming away with zilch. So much for Yankee Stadium being a homer haven. That wasted chance may cost them the game.

3:57 p.m.
Great job by Jonathan Albaladejo keeping the game tied after allowing a leadoff single and the A’s moved the runner to third base. Albaladejo has quickly earned clout. He bailed out A.J. Burnett on Sunday by working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam that set the table for Jorge Posada’s game-winning home run.

4:26 p.m.
We’re in extra innings and approaching 3 1/2 hours. The Yankees have left 10 runners on base and Damaso Marte is in the game. The last we saw him was mop-up duty in last Saturday’s 22-4 game. He still allowed a run on four hits in an inning’s work. For his confidence alone this is a big spot for him.

5:31 p.m.
We’re still here. It’s the top of the 13th and approaching 4 1/2 hours. Neither team has blinked. Only three runners have reached base since extra innings began, one was caught stealing. Jose Veras has looked sharp in 1 1/3 innings. The only arms available to the Yankees are Brian Bruney and Steven Jackson. Maybe it’s been the quality of pitching all along responsible for the 25 home runs hit in six games here? Just a thought.

5:59 p.m.
Veras: 3 1/3 IP, no hits, four strikeouts. He’s retired his last 10 batters and is a big hero in this game if the Yankees can pull it off. Meanwhile, we just got through the traditional 14th-inning stretch.