By Jon Lane
Now what? It’s time to party. The Yankees completed a virtually endless 2009 baseball season by capturing their 27th World Championship. We scribes never stop thinking about what’s next, that’s the nature of the Hot Stove season and you know Brian Cashman is already drawing up an offseason blueprint, but today is a day for the players, their families and everyone in the organization to bask in the glory.
The Core Four of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera have done this four times (today makes five), but for Alex Rodriguez, it’s his first in 16 seasons. For A.J. Burnett, it was winning without the pain of rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. For Jerry Hairston, it was the first time in his 11-year career he played in postseason games and was in left field the night the Yankees clinched.
This may have been Hairston’s final shot at a winner, and for youngsters like Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Brett Gardner, Francisco Cervelli and Ramiro Pena, this may be their only chance to enjoy the experience. Yes they play for the Yankees and not the Pirates, Nationals or Royals, but there was also nine years between World Championship.
Before the parade, Steven Goldman asked questions the rest of us will be asking quite often this weekend. But for today, Chris Shearn, Joe Auriemma, Kevin Sullivan and the rest of the YES gang are in lower Manhattan. Stick around for many great photos and videos from the festivities.
By Jon Lane
The Yankees down a game after Cliff Lee turned out their lights, what did Joe Girardi tell them before Game 2?
Nothing. He didn’t need to.
“Our club ha been resilient all year,” Girardi said. “The one thing that we’ve been able to do is we’ve went through some tough losses and we’ve seemed to bounce back. It was just business as usual for us today.”
The usual business came in the form of big hits from Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui. Ahead in the count, Pedro Martinez threw two curveballs. One was low and outside, and Matsui made the adjustment and put a good swing on it.
Two Matsui-related decisions, one immediate, the other in the offseason. Without the DH, the Yankees will have to determine if they want to put Matsui and his balky knees in the outfield, where Matsui said he’s confident he can handle a full workload. After the season, the major question is whether the pending free agent will return for another year in the Bronx.
Matsui was asked if he stops to look around extra carefully and enjoy it a bit more, considering this may be his final opportunity to win a World Series as a Yankee.
He and his knees be ready for outfield if Girardi decides and to play as long as needed
“I’m not thinking about my contract, so I really don’t have an answer for that,” Matsui said. “Even with the atmosphere changes, how I feel and what I do to prepare and my approach at the plate, those things just don’t change for me.
“I don’t feel like I really look at it in terms of success or failure. Obviously every year my goal is to be a World Champion, but I don’t look at it that way.”
Mariano Rivera’s 21st World Series appearance moved him past Mike Stanton for second place on the Yankees’ all-time list behind Whitey Ford’s 22, Mariano Rivera threw 39 pitches in two innings, his World Series high, topping 35 in Game 3 against the Braves in 1996. He still extended his own record of 10 Fall Classic and 38 postseason saves. It was also his fourth two-inning save and lowered his career ERA to 1.09.
Despite the workload, Girardi is confident that with Friday’s off day he’ll be OK for Game 3 Saturday night.
Was Derek Jeter bunting on his own in the seventh inning? With two strikes, yes, and then the sign was taken off.
“Derek Jeter is a very smart baseball man,” Girardi said. “If he feels he can do the job in that situation, I’m not going to bark at him. He felt he could get it done and he didn’t get it done.”
So why bunt instead of hit-and-run?
“I don’t really like to talk too much about strategy,” Girardi said.
Stop the presses: Alex Rodriguez is 0 for 8 with six strikeouts in his first World Series appearance. Lay off the haterade, Girardi isn’t benching him.
“I know he’ll bounce back,” Girardi said. “We’ll get it going with him in Philly.”
You knew Yankees fans would give Martinez a rude reception. Par for the course, but one fan stood out when Martinez exited the game after throwing six innings of three-run ball with eight strikeouts.
“It’s a new Yankee Stadium, but the fans remain the fans,” Martinez said. “I remember one guy sitting right in the front row with his daughter in one arm and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. I just told him, ‘Your daughter is right beside you. It’s a little girl. It’s a shame you’re saying all these things.’ I’m a father myself. How can you be so dumb to do those kind of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?”
Love Pedro or hate him, we continue to witness one of the greatest (if not the greatest) pitcher of this generation.
“I tell you what, he may not have 96 to 98 (MPH) he did back then when he was a little bit younger, but his command was every bit as good as it was back then,” said Jerry Hairston, who started over the slumping Nick Swisher due in part to his .370 lifetime average against the right-hander. “He was painting pitches at my knees, inner half (of the plate) basically at will on a couple of guys.”
Hairston, like A-Rod playing in his first World Series game, went 1-for-3.
“He’s always been a great pitcher and for him to adjust and adjust to what he’s got now, that’s a credit to him,” Hairston said. “He’s really pitched well this postseason and it was a tough win for us.
By Jon Lane
Nick Swisher is not in tonight’s starting lineup. Jerry Hairston Jr. is starting in right field. Joe Girardi cited Hairston’s .370 lifetime average against Phillies starter Pedro Martinez. It also hurt Swisher that he’s batting .114 in the postseason.
“It was something that I kicked around in my head, and I talked to my staff when we got here, and we talked about it. We made the decision to go with Jerry,” Girardi said. “Swish is a team guy. He understands, and I told him be ready because you never know when we might need you, and he said OK.”
The last time Hairston faced Martinez was July 26, 2004 when his Orioles played Pedro’s Red Sox. Hairston went 2-for-3 in that game, but despite his overall good numbers, he had just four hits in 19 at-bats in 2002 and ’03. It makes you wonder if Girardi would have gone this route if Swisher weren’t batting .114. Then again, we’ve seen during this postseason that he’s not afraid to open the binder and go the unconventional route.
“I can’t tell you because we’re in position where he is struggling, but Jerry has real good numbers off Pedro,” Girardi said. “We also like the way they kind of match up against each other, and that kind of shows up in the numbers, so we thought we’d give Jerry [the start] tonight.”
Johnny Damon lockers next to Swisher (we hope to get a comment from Swisher before or after batting practice). Damon senses that Swisher will find himself involved in the game at some point. Despite his poor performance, you can look at Swisher as a power threat from both sides of the plate now sitting in reserve.
“Obviously Nick wants to be the guy who helps carry us to a World Championship,” Damon said. “At this time of year it’s about team. Hairston has had some success off of Pedro before, and hopefully he has it tonight. Right now we’re just trying to win as a team, and hopefully what we’re doing tonight will work out for us.”
Here are the lineups. Back with more later.
5:11 p.m. Panic in the Bronx? If you’re a big chunk of the Yankees’ fan base, maybe, depending on your point of view (there were those on watch after the Yankees lost Games 3 and 5 of the ALCS). Damon said during his press briefing that the mood in the clubhouse is “good” and it’s business as usual.
“Every game in the postseason is a must-win,” Damon said, “and we feel like we must win this one.”
Girardi remembers the 1998 ALCS against the Indians, when the Tribe to a 2-1 lead over a Yankees team that won 114 games and when George Steinbrenner was still in full force. The Yankees won the next three — two in Cleveland — to win their 35th pennant.
“I remember butterflies in my stomach,” Girardi said, “but besides that, I don’t remember a lot. I remember having a good feeling about that club because we had won so many games and we knew the challenge ahead of us in Cleveland. Maybe I could draw from that experience and say, you know what, I felt good then. I feel good now.
“I can’t necessarily think for my players and know what’s going on in their gut, but as I’ve said all along, I believe this club is very resilient and has a confidence about them.”
History is against the Yankees. Game 1 winners have won the World Series 64 of 104 times, including six straight and 11 of the last 12. In 2002, the Angels dropped Game 1 to the Giants before rallying to win in seven. YES’ Yankees analyst Ken Singleton was on another one of those exceptions. In 1983, his Orioles lost Game 1 to the Phillies, but rebounded to win the next four and the championship.
6:57 p.m. Swisher’s reaction to the benching. As expected, he handled it well:
“Jerry’s got great numbers off him. Hey, let him go out there and do his thing,” Swisher said. “Obviously it’s frustrating and I’m upset, but it’s a team game. It’s about playing everybody we have.
“It’s Skip’s thing and I’m behind him, just like I’m behind everyone on this team.”
Struggling right-hander Phil Hughes, unavailable after walking the first and only two batters he faced in Game 1, regretted baking at plate umpire Gerry Davis over balls and strikes, citing the emotion of the moment.
“I went back and looked at the pitches, and they weren’t as close as I thought they were, so it falls on me,” Hughes said.
“I didn’t execute my pitches. Walks are killers. We can’t afford to have those, especially when we’re trying to keep the game 2-0 like it was. To let those four runs come across really hurt us. I feel like the weak link right now is our bullpen.”
The pen, flammable the early portion of the season, became a major strength after Hughes took over the role as Mariano Rivera’s primary set-up man, posting a 1.40 ERA in 44 appearances. In the playoffs, however, his ERA is 9.64 through 4 2/3 innings pitched in seven appearances. Girardi said he would continue to go to Hughes in the eighth, but don’t be surprised to see Joba Chamberlain in that role if it’s a tight game.
Rather than being being aggressive and attacking the zone like he’s done all year, Hughes admitted he’s relying too much on scouting reports.
“That’s something I need to get back to,” Hughes said.
Chris Shearn interviewed Hughes exclusively. Watch it here.
By Jon Lane
Since the Yankees opened the Division Series battle against the Twins on October 7, they’ve had eight days off over the past 17 days – 20 if you include the time between their regular-season finale and Game 1 of the ALDS.
Thanks to Mother Nature, make that nine. For one of the rare times this month, the forecast for rain was correct, baseball’s luck with the weather ran out and Game 6 of the ALCS was postponed until 8:20 Sunday night at Yankee Stadium.
Andy Pettitte will remain Joe Girardi’s starter; the manager resisted the temptation to go for the kill and start CC Sabathia on normal rest to have him ready if there’s a Game 7.
“Who else would you want for a Game 7 if there is a Game 7?” Pettitte said. “I never thought they would not throw me tomorrow.”
Physically, Pettitte admitted that his body has appreciated the extra rest. Since the Yankees skipped one of his starts in mid-September due to shoulder fatigue, he’s been allotted an extra day’s rest between starts. As an younger player, Pettitte said that would set him back, but because he’s 37 years old, he admitted it’s “probably great for me.”
That didn’t mean he was happy with the rainout, however,
“The worst part of it is just the wait,” Pettitte said. “This was the longest day ever. You realize it’s a rainout – get ready to do it tomorrow – but it’s just frustrating from the standpoint it’s just such a long day, when you’re so ready and so anxious to get the game going.”
As I noted earlier, minutes before the game was called, MLB officials were conferring with
Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland. The look on his face essentially
said there was no way he was having Pettitte warm up. Furthermore, last thing the manager or pitching coach on both sides wanted was their starters to have to start the game, stop due to a delay and fire it up again if the game were to be resumed.
“I don’t think any of us are exactly sure when the rain is going to get out of here, how late it’s going to be, so I respect the decision that they made,” Girardi said. “I’m sure both clubs would have loved to have played. The weather is not permitting.”
“If it’s good enough to play a game, I think any ball team wants to — if you’re going to start a game, just have a fair amount of confidence you’re going to be able to finish it, and not have it be so disjointed and segmented because of weather,” agreed Angels skipper Mike Scioscia.
Besides the pitchers, everyone is affected playing in the slop and mud, no matter how state-of-the-art Yankee Stadium’s drainage system is compared to the building across the street.
“You don’t want anybody to get hurt,” said Mariano Rivera. “It’s bad weather out there. Waiting another day isn’t going to kill us.”
Good line from Jerry Hairston: He and Mark Teixeira were discussing the inordinate amount of off days while in the indoor batting cages when, according to Hairston, Teixeira told him, “I have a new respect for utility players.”
“I just started laughing,” Hairston said. “I said why don’t you give me
part of that [pay check] you got there.”
Teixeira is in the first year of an eight-year contract that’s paying him $180 million. Hairston re-signed with the Reds for one year and $2 million in January and was acquired by the Yankees at the non-waiver trade deadline. Mother Nature, though, doesn’t discriminate between the rich and the filthy, dirty rich.
“That’s the life of a baseball
player,” Hairston said. “You’re going to have your rain outs, but we don’t make excuses.
You have to go out and play.”
Game 7 is “if necessary,” but the media could not help asking about a potential Game 7. This was supposed to be A.J. Burnett’s day to throw a side session, but he
did not. The thinking was to ensure he’d be available for long relief or
if it’s all hands on deck in an elimination game. Burnett said he’d be ready in an emergency for both Games 6 and 7.
“If I need to come out and help, I’ll be ready,” Burnett said. “I’ll be ready for anything.”
Scioscia was asked about it, but did not confirm yet another one of those worst-kept secrets. If the Angels win Game 6, John Lackey is starting Game 7. Bet on it.
“If there was a seven, Lackey’s going to pitch,” Hairston said, mockingly. “They can say no, no … if you look at John’s reaction getting taken out of [Game 5], you think he’s a man that he’s not going to pitch a Game 7. They can sugarcoat it, but we’re concerned about Game 6 and we’re trying to win that game.”
Scioscia was asked if he’s in favor of the added off day built in this week. In a word, no.
“Taking us almost 20 days to play eight games, I think that’s the wrong template for baseball,” Scioscia said.
One person not complaining is Nick Swisher, 3-for-29 with 10 strikeouts in the postseason and who popped up Brian Fuentes’ 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end Game 5.
“You hear a lot of guys who say, ‘Man I wish we didn’t have all these
off days,’ but then again if you have bangs and bumps, and this and
that, it’s nice to have another day off,” Swisher said.
Swisher remained Girardi’s starter in right field and the manager doesn’t anticipate any changes tomorrow night. Swisher has taken advantage of the down time by working extra hard with hitting coach Kevin Long. A player fueled by emotion, Swisher was texted something once said by Babe Ruth:
“It’s hard to beat up a guy who never
quits. It’s going to turn, it’s got to. You have to have a positive
attitude about it.”
Girardi stuck with Johnny Damon after a 1-for-12 Division Series. He’s doing the same with Swisher despite considering inserting Brett Gardner in center field and shifting Melky Cabrera over to right.
“It’s amazing,” Swisher said. “Skip’s such a great guy. He’s the best manager I’ve ever played for, no doubt. You have to keep battling and keep grinding.
“I never lost any confidence. I’m frustrated, but Skip has faith in me and my teammates do. I just turn it up, strap it on a little tighter. I had a run like this during the regular season and no one seemed to care. But it’s at that point now when it’s on the biggest stage. You want to go out there and do sooo well. Maybe I’m just pressing a bit too much.
“Skip told me the other day, ‘Be yourself. You had a great year, just keep doing the things you’re normally used to doing.’ I’ll be ready to go tonight when I go to sleep. I’ll be ready to go tomorrow when I wake up and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
As I wrap up blogging for the evening, it’s 8:02, five minutes after what would have been first pitch. It’s raining and raining hard. Unless Major League Baseball wanted to wait and play at midnight, there was no way this game was being played. MLB made the right decision to benefit both the players and the fans.
Talk to y’all tomorrow.
By Jon Lane
Two crazy, sleep-deprived days defined my Friday and Saturday. I’m not
in California, so most of my Sunday was spent playing catch-up.
The Yankees resume their series against the Angels ahead two games to none. CC Sabathia took over the game, and the town, Friday night, while Jerry Hairston Jr. made his first postseason game a memorable one
to end Saturday’s marathon. And with Sabathia named the Yankees’
official starter for Game 4, the team will be in position for a
shocking sweep if Andy Pettitte outduels Jered Weaver this afternoon.
If what Sabathia didn’t pitch one of the best postseason games in history, it’s pretty close, writes Steven Goldman.
Studs and Duds were aplenty in Game 1 and in Game 2. Thanks to Jonathan Tayler and Adam Spunberg, respectively, for their takes. And thanks to our friends at River Ave. Blues for their hard work and contributions to YESNetwork.com. Ben, Joe or Mike will have a Game 3 recap after the game along with complete coverage from our crew out west.
By Jon Lane
A picturesque day here at Yankee Stadium for the first of two workouts as the Yankees prepare for Game 1 of the American League Championship Series Friday night against the Angels. Of course, as timing has it, rain is in the forecast for Friday and Saturday night, the scheduled dates for Games 1 and 2, which means the best-laid plans of Joe Girardi and his crew will be altered if there’s a rainout.
Judging from yesterday’s comments, Girardi is seriously considering going with a three-man rotation in the LCS, which lines up CC Sabathia to start Games 1 and 4 and if needed Game 7. But if there’s a rainout the teams lose an off day, and Girardi will have to decide on starting Chad Gaudin in Game 4 in Southern California or pulling Joba Chamberlain out of the bullpen.
Chamberlain and Gaudin provided their takes on the potential situation, and how each are staying prepared. Chamberlain said “As of 12:42 on Wednesday, that’s where I’m at. We’ll just approach it from there.”
Gaudin added, “The only thing I know right now is be ready Friday. That’s what I’m going to do. I’ll get ready to pitch on Friday. When they tell me otherwise, I’ll be ready to go. I can’t control it, can’t change it. I have to keep it simple as I can.
“I don’t in go pitching as a starter or reliever, I go in pitching trying to get outs each time. If it happens to be seven innings, it’s seven innings. If it’s two innings, it’s two innings.”
Jose Molina and Mark Teixeira shared their experiences from playing with an Angels team that’s been an annual contender since Molina was there in 2002 and become a World Champion. I’ll have more on this in my ALCS preview to run on Thursday.
Johnny Damon also reported on day after taking optional batting practice. Damon went 1-for-12 in the Division Series, including no hits in his last 10 at-bats with four strikeouts in Sunday’s clincher. Girardi said yesterday that Damon remains his everyday left-fielder and Damon knows it’ll be time to turn it around.
“I just wanted to get some work in,” Damon said. “There are so many days off during this time of year it’s better me coming in instead of sitting around the house.”
“It’s very easy to put it behind you when you win three games to nothing. The fact that we won the series and a few of us really didn’t contribute too much. For us to continue to be successful, we need to continue to pitch like we did, but also we need to get my bat going as well as a couple of other guys.”
Damon is well aware that one or two good swings can get him back on the beam. His postseason average bottomed out at .056 in 2004 before he went 5-for-11 with three runs scored, six RBIs and two home runs (the last a grand slam off Javier Vazquez) in Games 6 & 7 as the Red Sox completed a comeback from down 0-3. In the World Series Damon went 6-for-21 (.286) to help Boston to its first World Championship in 86 years.
“That’s why I’m not going to beat myself up over what happened in Game 3,” Damon said. “I felt like I had a chance every time I stepped up to the plate. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that way, but my teammates picked me up and they helped us get a big win and helped us get to this part.”
Back with much more later.
3:33 p.m. As expected, no decisions regarding the ALCS roster or even a Game 1 lineup. Girardi and his staff met this morning to discuss various scenarios, including matchups and the bad weather in the forecast beginning Thursday afternoon. For that reason, the Yankees moved up their workout to Thursday morning.
“We still have a couple of days,” Girardi said. “We still have some things we want to look at. We still have a good 48 hours before it’s game time.”
The Angels worked out today in Anaheim, are flying to New York tonight and will also work out tomorrow at Yankee Stadium. John Lackey is expected to oppose CC Sabathia in Game 1.
Girardi isn’t concerned about the slumping Damon, among the hitters who showed up at the Stadium on Tuesday for extra batting practice.
“He had great at-bats yesterday,” Girardi said. “I know it’s not a real-game situation, but it’s as close as you’re can get without playing games. All hitters have gone through times they haven’t gotten hits. There was a thing about was Derek Jeter pressing when he was around Lou Gehrig’s record. I feel really good about Johnny this time of year because Johnny has played this time of year and has played at a very high level.”
“It might be just what they needed,” Girardi added on the extra days of rest earned by the Yankees’ sweep of the Twins. “The four days off might help them, and then if they don’t swing the bat well then someone says the rest didn’t. You really don’t know until you get into it.”
Like Damon, Nick Swisher had trouble against Twins pitching, batting 1-for-12 with four strikeouts in the Division Series.
“I thought for me two days off was too much,” Swisher said. “Right now the body doesn’t really need to rest that much because every time you take the field in front of this crowd in the postseason, it takes everything away.”
That’s it for blogging today. Tonight I’ll have a feature on how the Yankees’ homegrown youngsters and a veteran like Jerry Hairston Jr. have adopted to the organization’s philosophy of winning, and how it’s taken their games to new levels.
By Jon Lane
Mariano Rivera sealed the Yankees series-clinching win over the Angels, one that put a bug in the Halos’ heads – finally, not the other way around – if the teams are to meet again next month. Victory was attained when Ian Kennedy gutted out the eighth inning, his first Major League inning since last August when he was tattooed on the same field. Yes, he walked two batters and hit another, and his first out was a line drive right to Ramiro Pena at third base, but Joe Girardi looked him in the eye and told him it’s your day, your time, now get the job done. And he did.
Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin and Brian Bruney were unavailable – would you trust Bruney in that spot anyway? – so Girardi summoned Kennedy based on some strong Minor League rehab appearances and Dave Eiland’s vote of confidence. You can feel the consternation – John Sterling endlessly second-guessed the move while calling the game on the Yankees’ radio network – and negativity wondering if Girardi had gone mad at the most inopportune time. He had decided to rest a handful of starters, the AL East and home field advantage not yet secured, against their annual tormentors since 2002. Then he put the game in the right hand of one who underwent May surgery for an aneurysm and a year earlier was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in 10 games (nine starts).
It’s easy to complain, even when a team is 40 games (now 41) games over .500 and older players are banged up with a cross-country flight awaiting them. When Erick Aybar flied out to left to end the eighth with the bases loaded, you exhaled with satisfaction. Rivera would close and the Yankees would have one of their best wins in a season filled with many.
With guts comes glory, and win or lose, respect. Kennedy is back from a serious health issue a lot sooner than anyone expected. Whether he sneaks onto the postseason roster or not (probably not), he’ll pitch in the Arizona Fall League and receive a golden opportunity to start for the Yankees in 2010.
“Just to be pitching is an accomplishment,” Kennedy said. “And then to be pitching here, and in a big situation, there are no words to describe it. It got a little crazy, but I was glad it worked out barely. These are big, important wins for us.”
The magic number is five. The Red Sox are in town this weekend. The indeterminable Joba Chamberlain starts against Jon Lester tomorrow night. You want to see the Yankees enter the postseason healthy and winning, so the games remain important. For one day, Kennedy played his part while emerging victorious from not only a game, but the biggest battle of his young life.
Two things to keep an eye on today: David Robertson will throw a bullpen session and Jerry Hairston Jr. will undergo a second MRI on his left wrist. The Yankees need Robertson to be their seventh/late-inning fireballer and Hairston to fill multiple roles off the bench. If he’s forced to miss at least the ALDS, Pena can fill the void to a point. He’s yet to play in the outfield, which would make Eric Hinske’s presence more important.
By Jon Lane
This via the AP:
Tigers left-hander Jarrod Washburn will miss his next start because of a sore left knee.
Washburn was scheduled to start Saturday in Tampa Bay. He said on Thursday that he will be replaced by Armando Galarraga. Washburn missed a start in May with Seattle for the same reason.
Washburn has an ERA 6.81 while winning one of six starts since joining the Tigers at the trading deadline. He is expected to make his next start on Sept. 10 against Kansas City.
Like last season, Washburn was a hot name on the Yankees’ radar before July 31 and many Yankees fans screamed over how they were beaten out by the Tigers and that fact that Brian Cashman’s only acquisition was Jerry Hairston Jr. Last I looked, Hairston has been a useful bench player batting .273 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 26 games. And that other ‘non-sexy’ name, Eric Hinske, has seven homers and 12 RBIs in 23 games. Cashman acquired him and $400,000 for two Minor Leaguers.
Jonah Keri today offered insight on what’s happened to Washburn since he became a Detroit Tiger.
Moral of the story: Remember Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small in 2005. The right role players blended with superstars make for the best recipe, yet a lot of these guys slip through the cracks.
One of the other Yankee no-names, Chad Gaudin, starts tonight in Toronto (YES HD, 7 p.m.). At this point, either Gaudin or Sergio Mitre will make the postseason roster as a long man.
Phil Hughes as temporary Yankees closer will be interesting to watch, for the Yankees can afford the luxury of being extra careful with Mariano Rivera (groin stiffness). No further explanations about Hughes’ breakthrough season are necessary. But, and I quote Kimberly Jones, will there be Hughes Rules next season?
By Jon Lane
Watching Andy Pettitte deal Monday night, I certainly was hoping for a perfect game. Seeing Jerry Hairston boot that routine grounder, I groaned, but held out hope for a no-hitter. Then witnessing Nick Markakis’ clean single, I groaned again. I’m a sucker for history who admittedly popped for Mark Buehrle when he threw his perfecto, and even saluted Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Derek Lowe for their no-nos while wearing Boston white and red.
You need a little – or in Buehrle’s case – lots of luck to throw a perfect game or a no-hitter. When less talented teams succeed, I sometimes believe that it’s better to be lucky than good. In Pettitte’s case Monday night, and as it relates to the Yankees since June, this hasn’t been luck. The Yankees have imposed their will on the rest of the league. Strange things have happened through the years that have proven Yogi Berra a soothsayer, but at 35 games above .500, only the mother of all monumental collapses will prevent the Yankees from playing in October.
Thus, looking ahead in the slightest will not tempt the fates. It’s a given that CC Sabathia, despite his shady postseason history, will start Game 1. The popular belief is A.J. Burnett will go in Game 2.
But why not Pettitte? You know his postseason history. His 14 wins are second all-time behind John Smoltz’s 15. And you’re aware of his track record in taking the ball in Game 2 of a postseason series, where he’s 6-3 in his Yankees career. Conversely, Burnett, who has stepped up (and also imploded) in big spots, hasn’t pitched in a playoff game. You want someone who has done it before, especially in a short series where pitching matters first and foremost.
Here’s what Pettitte has done to date coming off a down season when he pitched with a bum shoulder.
? Monday night, he worked only four two-ball counts before Hairston’s error, this after he retired the first 20 Orioles hitters. Pettitte struck out eight without a walk over eight innings. Baltimore’s other hit off the left-hander was Melvin Mora’s solo homer.
? Since the break, Pettitte is 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in nine starts, allowing 45 hits and whiffing 62 over 59 2/3 innings. His 12 wins and 4.03 ERA rank second on the Yankees behind Sabathia. He has 190 wins as a Yankee, trailing only Whitey Ford (236) and Red Ruffing (231).
? He’s healthy and pain free, to the point where he’s hinted aloud to wanting to pitch a few more seasons.
“It feels good to be healthy,” Pettitte said. “It feels good that my elbow after surgery doesn’t hurt anymore when I pitch. “At this time last year my shoulder was absolutely killing me. It just feels good to feel healthy. I just hope I can hold it and keep it for another two months.”
Memo to Joe Girardi: Give him the ball in Game 2.
If the season ended today, the Yankees would play the Tigers in the ALDS with Games 1 and 2 (and a fifth if necessary) at Yankee Stadium. It’d be a rematch of the 2006 DS when the Tigers, riding a six-game losing streak (the first five that cost them the AL Central flag), stunned Mike Mussina and the Yankees in Game 2 and didn’t lose again until Game 1 of World Series. Justin Verlander defeated Mussina that afternoon and is the Tigers’ unquestioned ace. But how will Edwin Jackson, Rick Porcello and Armando Galarraga react in a big spot? And remember how badly the Yankees wanted Jarrod Washburn and lost out to the Tigers on deadline day? Washburn is 1-2 with a 6.81 ERA in six starts for Detroit. He threw eight shutout innings August 14 against Kansas City, but other than that he’s been brutal. The left-hander was blasted for eight runs in 5 2/3 innings yesterday by the Rays.
The Tigers lead the Twins by only 3 ½ games with seven games left against them (four in Detroit September 28-October 1). Their big-ticket acquisition may end up costing them the playoffs.
Hairston’s error was no doubt part of Monday’s story, but John Harper was a bit rough, don’t you think? The Yankees won the game.
Derek Jeter watch: The Captain is 10 from tying Lou Gehrig as the Yankees’ all-time hits leader.
Want to the go to the playoffs? River Ave Blues has information on ticket pricing and policies.
By Jon Lane
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. from the Cincinnati Reds. More on this later and how this may affect Shelley Duncan.
Earlier today, Chad Jennings is reporting on his Scranton Yankees blog
that Duncan was on his way to Chicago to join the Yankees for tonight’s
game. The Yankees have been lacking in bench and outfield depth since
Brett Gardner went on the disabled list. Hairston helps fill those
No word on who will be sent down, but the Yankees have
been carrying 13 pitchers, so my guess is either Jonathan Albaladejo or
Meanwhile, the Yankees took a hit in the rush to
the non-waiver trade deadline when the Tigers acquired left-hander
Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners, someone looked at as an ideal
alternative to Roy Halladay. SI.com’s Jon Heyman had reported the team
will let the deadline pass
and go through the waiver wire. This might mean Bronson Arroyo is on
their radar. No team will claim Arroyo and pay the full $17 million
he’s owed through 2010.
Sherman reports Duncan
will remain with the team and two roster moves need to be made, one of
which will involve a relief pitcher.
Class-A catcher Chase Weems sent to Reds system for Hairston.
Roy Halladay, Tweets Sherman, has not been traded.