In the first game of a split-squad doubleheader, the New York Yankees topped the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Friday afternoon.
Overall it was a good win. The team looked about as solid as they can be, coming off the 6-4 win over Tampa Bay last night. The Bombers will play the Rays again tonight in game two of their twin bill.
A few players and plays stood out this afternoon. All I can say is the Yankees are looking better and better as Spring Training continues!
The Yankee ace wasn’t having a great spring coming into today’s start. In fact, his numbers were brutal. 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA was the line on Sabathia up until today, indicating a little rust, I suppose. He pitched so much last season and into the playoffs, so he needed that rest in the off-season. But as the old saying goes, “when you rest, you rust.”
Yet Sabathia looked anything but rusty today.
The big man tossed 5 1/3 innings, surrendered four hits, and was charged with two runs this afternoon. He walked only two and struck out eight Tigers, making some of Detroit’s best hitters look as silly as the Joker at a comedy show.
The breaking ball, the fastball, and the changeup were working perfectly for Sabathia today. I will admit I had some doubts in the first inning. He quickly gave up a run and I thought “here we go again.” But he settled in nicely and found a good rhythm with catcher Francisco Cervelli. They looked to be on the same page all afternoon.
After today, I feel a lot better about Sabathia. Not that I ever really felt bad about him, despite the shaky spring. He always finds a way to win and always comes up big when the Yankees need him to.
I said it once and I’ll say it again: I believe in CC Sabathia.
In the bottom of the third inning, Alex Rodriguez stepped into the box against Rick Porcello. The three-time MVP smacked a long, and I mean LONG, solo home run over the left-centerfield fence. As a matter of fact, the ball cleared the scoreboard and landed well beyond George M. Steinbrenner Field.
“That…was a BOMB!” It was all I could say.
Rodriguez went 2-for-3 today and he looks to be in top shape for this season. Last year he did not return to the lineup until May 8 because of the hip injury. The Yankees (and more notably Mark Teixeira) struggled in his absence.
2010 might be a different story, though. There are no injuries and he will be starting the season in regular form. I have a feeling he’ll have a typical “A-Rod season.” Look for about 35-40 home runs, over 100 RBIs, a batting average around .300, and probably 100 runs scored.
That is, unless, he stupefies us all like he did in 2007. That’s always appreciated, as well!
All I can say is “wow” to that homer he hit today. He absolutely crushed the ball and got very good wood on it. I shouldn’t even say “crushed.” Obliterated is probably the operative word. He said after the game he “lost track of it, but knew he hit it a long ways.”
That you did, A-Rod. That you did.
Last night vs. Tampa Bay, the Yankee captain looked to have tweaked his hand a little bit. He was grimacing as he was taking warm-ups, but stayed in the game. He also said nothing was bothering him (as usual) and he started today.
Not only did he start today, but he had a good game.
Jeter went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk. The captain knocked in both runs on a single in the bottom of the second, which put the Yankees ahead, 3-1. His hitting is exactly what we all expect at this point. Jeter’s been through Spring Training so many times, I’m sure he is used to it by now.
Along with his hitting, his defense looks great, too. Whoever said his range has gone down really needs to get their eyes checked. This spring, Jeter has been moving around just as well as he has his whole career.
It’s just good to know he did not hurt his hand last night and he had a good day today.
The Yankees’ closer needed just 10 pitches to retire the Tigers in the seventh inning today. Mariano Rivera’s line for the day: no runs, no hits, no errors, no men left on base…one strikeout.
It never gets old seeing that.
Like the rest of the veterans, Rivera also looks to be in top form. He always is, it’s nothing new for him. I noticed that his velocity was down in the low-mid 80s at first, but he eventually made it up to the 90s toward the end of the inning.
I think velocity is not something that really matters when it comes to Rivera’s pitching. So many hitters have already said, “We all know the cutter is coming–yet no one can ever hit it.” My favorite quote was by Mike Sweeney, who once said,
“People always ask why you can’t hit Mo’s cutter when you know it’s coming. Well, you know what’s going to happen in a horror movie, but it still gets you.”
Best quote about the cutter. Ever.
I think people also need to realize, it’s not an easy pitch to hit. The cutter runs inside on left-handed hitters and tails away from righties. One player once remarked, “At first you think the ball is outside, and then it comes right in toward your hands.” Honestly, it’s probably the nastiest pitch there is.
Last year Rivera had 44 saves in 46 save opportunities with a 1.76 ERA. With the way he’s been pitching for the last 15 years or so, he might duplicate that in 2010. Knowing him, I would not doubt it. He said he will have about five more outings this spring and he is set to pitch again on Sunday.
–Nick Johnson worked an 11 pitch at-bat in the fourth inning, ending in a walk. I expect more of this from him this year. It’s good to have a patient hitter in the lineup.
–Royce Ring pitched yet another scoreless inning. I think a roster spot could be in his future. I like him!
–In the 6-4 win over Tampa last night, Chan Ho Park tossed his first inning this spring. No runs, no hits, no walks, and a strikeout, along with making a nice bare-handed play for an out. Good stuff, let’s see if he can keep it up!
–In addition to Park’s good outing, Colin Curtis hit another three-run home run in last night’s win. I like this kid. I know he won’t make the team coming right out of the gate, but Curtis may make a case for a call-up this year, even if it’s at the end in September. He has a great left-handed swing, tailor-made for Yankee Stadium. I hope we see more of him, he’s got some pop!
–Joe Girardi stated that he hopes to have a decision on the fifth starting pitcher by March 25 or 26. If you ask me…anyone but Joba Chamberlain at this point. I have no clue who I would choose for that spot at the moment.
–Johnny Damon did not make the trip to GMS Field today. We didn’t see our old friend.
–We did however see Austin Jackson (we barely knew ye) and Phil Coke today. I have to ask…WHAT did Phil Coke do to himself? He looks like a hippie straight out of the 1970s! He has long hair and a mustache and looks…not right. Cut your hair and shave, Cokey!
–Coke did however have a good outing, as he struck Alex Rodriguez out swinging and then proceeded to retire Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames in order.
–The Tigers played one of their AA minor leaguers by the name of Deik Scram. He is a centerfielder. Nice name! Kind of reminds me of Stubby Clapp.
Francisco Cervelli played today. As we all know, he has suffered three concussions and needs to wear a somewhat large, protective helmet. The YES Network made a reference to Gazoo, an imaginary cartoon character who always talked to Fred Flintstone.
I have to admit, Cervelli’s helmet does resemble Gazoo’s…
Nicknames. A lot of “cool” people have them and it’s usually a lot of fun to call people by their nicknames rather than their given names.
My name is Anthony Joseph, therefore my friends and those close to me call me A.J.
When the Yankees acquired A.J. Burnett last off-season, I was so happy because we share the same initials. The Yankees also have a rookie prospect named Austin Jackson, whose initials are also A.J.
Well allow me to let everyone in on a secret: having the initials A.J. may sound cool, but it can be bad. In fact, growing up people left an impact on me that scarred me for life.
I’ve been called every name in the book from Apple Juice to Apple Jacks; from Ask Jeeves to Ant Jemima (that one really hurt, especially because it made sense–my name is Anthony and instead of using “aunt” they took the first three letters of my name and used “Ant”)
But none made me shake my head more than being called Ajax, which happens to be Austin Jackson’s new nickname. For my initials to be reduced to being called a brand of toilet cleaner…yea, it was rough.
Needless to say I know how Jackson feels.
What impressed me (and sort of shocked me) about him was in 2009 Spring Training; against the Red Sox, Jackson belted a grand slam home run. After the game he was sent packing and told he would remain in the minor leagues.
But he stuck it out and played hard on the farm this past year. And we may see him up in the big leagues this upcoming year.
Jackson may possibly get called up to the Yankees’ main roster in 2010, being that he put up such solid numbers in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this past year. The 22 year-old phenom batted .300 with four homers and 65 RBIs while stealing 24 bases in 132 games.
Not bad numbers, I have to say. The question now is, can he do this at the Major League level? That remains to be seen.
But let’s say Jackson does make it in New York and becomes a fan-favorite within the next two or three years. I cannot fathom going to a Yankee game and listening to the capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium yell at the top of their lungs, “Ajax!!!”
That would bring back horrible memories for me. I mean, people called me that to make fun of me! It would make me sad. Although the nickname sounds clever for Jackson because of his last name…well, I will never be comfortable hearing that name.
The name “Ajax” will always remind me of the troubled part of my childhood.
Maybe I can spend some time coming up with a better nickname for him; hopefully one that can catch on quick enough. Maybe the A-Train? Or Action Jackson? Heck, his middle name starts with a “J” too, why not just A.J. Jackson?
Whatever happens, I just hope we Yankee fans are not cheering Ajax at him. As a diehard fan myself, it would be too painful for me; I wouldn’t be able to bear it.
I can only hope Jackson doesn’t mind being called Ajax and I really hope he didn’t go through what I went through growing up in terms of nicknames. The same goes for Burnett. We “A.J.s” are special guys and we have to stick together!
So call us what you want. But we’ll always be A.J.