Tagged: Johnny Damon

World Series Game 5


World Series!!!


That was almost awesome. Almost.

Showing signs of life and fighting back in the ninth inning, the Yankees lost 8-6 in what came to be a close game five of the World Series.


You would think when the Yankees jumped out to a quick, 1-0 lead in the top of the first that would give A.J. Burnett some courage and motivation to pitch well.


No such luck, whatsoever.


Burnett lasted only two-plus innings and was charged with six earned runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out two.



A.J. Burnett did not make it out of the third inning in game five 

It is amazing how hot/cold Burnett can be; in game two he went out and absolutely puzzled the Phillies, giving up only one run on four hits over seven outstanding innings of work. In game five he got absolutely shellacked.


Well, maybe he can regroup and come back a little stronger in 2010, because that will be the next time we see him pitch, unless he comes on in relief in gave six or (if necessary) game seven of the World Series. I don’t see that happening, however.


Chase Utley, the peskiest thorn in the Yankees’ side right now, took Burnett deep in the bottom of the first for a three-run homer, putting the Phils up 3-1 after the Yankees took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Alex Rodriguez in the top half of the inning.




Just like that our lead was gone. And it’s not like Utley was happy with one homer.


Later in the seventh, Utley went yard again, this time a solo shot off Phil Coke, pushing the Phillies even further ahead. It was Utley’s fifth home run of the World Series and he tied Reggie Jackson for most home runs in World Series play.


Raul Ibanez joined Utley with a solo shot of his own in the seventh, his first home run of the World Series. Those two solo homers in the inning proved to be the difference in the game, so I really wish Coke hadn’t served them up.


The Phillies scored three runs in the third inning, receiving RBIs from Jayson Werth, Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz, who just plastered Burnett and the Yankee bullpen in the frame. The third inning was seemingly the nail in the Yankees’ coffin, but they did battle back.


With the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, Ryan Madson struck Mark Teixeira out swinging to end the game. A really, really tough loss because had the Yankees somehow rallied back and won the game (like they have done countless time in 2009) they’d be World Champs at this moment.



Mark Teixeira ended game five with a strikeout 

Down by six runs going into the top of the eighth, the Yankees scored three in the frame to make the game interesting. Rodriguez hit a two-run double and Robinson Cano knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5, proving that even when they’re down a bunch, the Yankees can fight back and put pressure on the opposing team.


Think about it: the Yankees were down 6-2 at one point in this game. In the top of the fifth, Eric Hinske scored on a groundout by Johnny Damon and at this point, with the Yanks down by four and Cliff Lee still in the game, I thought we had no chance.


But they at least showed life and battled back instead of just giving up.


Jorge Posada scored in the ninth as Derek Jeter grounded into a double play that basically ended the Yankee rally and the game ended not long after that. How often does Jeter do that? Not often. So we can’t put a lot of blame on the captain for that.


We can however put a ton of blame on Burnett for this one. He gave the Yankees no chance to win with the way he pitched and even working with an early lead could not get the job done. He showed a lot of inconsistency, there’s no question.


There are excuses he could make up, like pitching on three days rest threw him off, but he didn’t make those types excuses after the game. And even if he did, no one would believe him. I have to say, Burnett was an enigma this year; almost like the 2007 version of Mike Mussina–you never knew if you were getting a good or bad start from him.


It’s too bad that Burnett’s last start had to be so horrible. Not the best way to end his season, that’s for sure. If I had to give Burnett an overall grade for this year, it would be a C+. He struggled early on, but then hit a hot streak, then a cold streak, then a lukewarm streak.


Two of his five playoff starts were acceptable, one was mediocre, one was pure genius, and I think he wishes his final start last night never even happened. Hot and cold, just like I said.


When a pitcher goes out and tosses a quality start (which is defined as pitching at least six innings and giving up three runs or less) I generally tend not to put a lot of blame on the pitcher. A quality start means that the pitcher gave the team a chance to win the game, and even if the team loses, the pitcher still gave the team an opportunity to win and demonstrated good stuff.


For the most part, Burnett has given the Yankees quality this year, even though he did not win a lot of games, or at least as many games as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. There were a few games Burnett could’ve won, but his offense did not give him run support or the bullpen did not hold it for him to register the win.



A.J. Burnett gets a C+ grade for his overall performance in '09 

As far as last night goes, I think it was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career. The biggest had to be game two, because it was a must-win and the Yankees needed that game; if they had not won game two of the World Series and Burnett had not been as good as he was, they would have been in grave danger of losing it.


Going into Philly down 0-2…not a pretty picture.


The reason last night was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career…well, it’s obvious: the Yankees would be World Champs right now if he had executed the right way and pitched a good game. He didn’t and they lost, that’s the bottom line.


But for all the fans today who are saying things like, “Burnett is horrible,” or “he has no business on this team,” you all need to get a grip on reality. It is better that he had his bad start in game five rather than game two when they needed to win.


You have to look at the big picture and what Burnett did to help the team win all year; were his critics saying he stunk when he stood toe-to-toe with Josh Beckett and one-hit the Red Sox on Aug. 7? (The game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off homer by A-Rod)


Did they say Burnett had no business on the team when he embarrassed the Mets by one-hitting them on June 27? Or what about just this past Thursday when he won game two of the World Series? Did he suck then?


No, he was brilliant. It’s funny how all Burnett’s critics have nothing to say when he performs well and lambaste him when he doesn’t do well. I am saying he did not do well in game five of the World Series and gave the Yankees no chance of winning.


But that doesn’t make him a bad pitcher. Burnett is still capable of winning games and out-dueling some of the best pitchers out there. So we can all layoff A.J. until 2010.


Also, I’d like to add to my defense of Burnett to his critics…how much better would you do? You think you could go out and pitch in front of over 50,000 people and millions watching at home in the World Series? Let’s see how you do. I’m sure you could do so much better (boatloads of sarcasm in that statement)


Hopefully he comes back next year a little stronger, and he got his first year in New York out of the way, which is sometimes what newcomers to the Yankees need; I mean before Chien-Ming Wang won 19 games two seasons in a row, he went 8-5 in his first year. So we’ll see how Burnett responds. I still believe in him and I think he will be fine.


At any rate, we lost a game and we go back home to the Bronx to play game six tomorrow night, no biggie. Being up three games allows a little more margin for error. And I guess you can say when in doubt, turn to the winningest pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettitte.



Andy Pettitte will look to clinch the World Series tomorrow night. 

He will take the mound against the Yankees’ favorite son and game two loser, Pedro Martinez.


Pettitte was on the mound when the Yankees won the pennant on Oct. 25 and has been in this spot before. He has won more series-clinching games than any other pitcher in Yankees’ history, so this is perfect for him. It seems like just yesterday I remember him taking the hill in game four of the 1998 World Series, a game he and the Yankees won to capture the World Title.     


The only concern I have is that he will be throwing on three days rest. Hopefully it won’t make much of a difference. I know Pettitte is old school and works best on regular rest, but I think he can go out in front of Yankee Universe and do it the right way at the new house.


Plus, I just think it would make so much sense winning the whole thing vs. Pedro….



Hey Pedro! 

I know it was a rough loss last night, but remember Yankees fans, we are up 3-2 and the Phillies are still facing elimination. It’s not the other way around. The pressure is still on them and thank goodness we are not in their ballpark anymore. Not playing at home was beginning to annoy me.


Well, tomorrow night could very well be it. I’ll be back after game six with more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


The Yankees are so close to their 27th Title!!!


World Series Game 4


World Series!!!


I am beginning to think the Yankees just cannot be beaten in a close, late-game situation.


The Yankees defeated the Phillies 7-4 in the ninth inning of game four of the World Series Sunday night with a miraculous, two-out rally.


The word of the 2009 postseason was once again used by me: “WOW.”


With the game knotted at four and two outs in the top half of the ninth, Johnny Damon worked a nine-pitch at-bat against Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge, ending in a two-out single by the Yankees’ left fielder. Damon promptly stole second base and with all his wits about him, took third.



After a two-out single, Johnny Damon stole two bases in one play 

With Mark Teixeira batting and the Phillies playing the infield over-shift, nobody was covering third base. After swiping second, Damon just got up and took third while he was at it.


Then Teixeira was hit with a pitch, bringing up the new “Mr. October,” Alex Rodriguez.


Now I have to admit, my heart was racing at this point. When I was watching, I thought I would need resuscitation after watching what was about to happen. A-Rod in another clutch situation…what was going to happen?


Rodriguez delivered, that’s what happened. The Yankee third baseman came up with a double to score Damon, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead.



Alex Rodriguez was hit by yet another pitch, but he got revenge in the 9th inning 

Jorge Posada came up next with Teixeira on third and A-Rod on second, hitting a two-run single to give the Bronx Bombers their seven runs and pad the Yankee lead. Posada also had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the top of the first, which gave him a total of three RBIs in the game.


I have to give Damon all the credit in the world; to work the count and come up with a hit in that pressurized situation with the crowd rocking the way it was, and on top of that steal two bases at once and then score–that was such brilliance. He certainly took charge of the situation and showcased the mental facet of his game.


Not to mention he went 3-for-5 on the night with a double in the first and an RBI single in the top of the fifth. Damon came up and knocked in Melky Cabrera, which gave the Yanks a 4-2 lead.


Derek Jeter also knocked in a run with an RBI single in the fifth that broke the 2-2 tie coming into the frame.


CC Sabathia took the mound for the Yankees tonight, pitching on three days rest for the second time this postseason. The big man pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up three earned runs on seven hits. He walked three and struck out six.


I have to give Sabathia credit; he tossed a quality start. But he has clearly seemed a bit shaken in the World Series. His body language and his demeanor (to me) indicate that he might have been a little shaken these past two starts on the stage of the World Series. His numbers are still good, but he looks a little off. It’s not physical (again, to me) it could be mental.


Maybe it’s just Chase Utley, who took Sabathia deep for a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. That was Utley’s third World Series homer, and he has smacked all three of his homers off Sabathia.


Chase Utley has three home run in the fall classic. All three have come off CC Sabathia 


Utley also doubled in the bottom of the first, a hit that scored Shane Victorino to put the Phillies on the board for the first time in the game.


It seems Utley has Sabathia’s number. That’s pretty much a fact at this point.


Pedro Feliz provided the rest of the offense for the Phils in game four. Not only did Feliz tie the game in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to score Ryan Howard, he homered off Joba Chamberlain to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth.


Well, I probably shouldn’t say Feliz knocked Howard in to tie the game in the fourth. Replay showed that Howard never even touched home plate, yet the umpire called him safe. I guess we’re just looking the other way on that one…


Utley and Feliz saw some meatballs and took advantage. But I guess it didn’t matter; the Yankees were more clutch and got the job done. Mariano Rivera came in and saved the day yet again, Yankees win.


It was another nail-biter, another ninth inning win. But I’ll take it; Yankees up, 3-1.


I also want to point out how ridiculous the Phillies have been pitching to A-Rod. In the first inning, Rodriguez was hit with a pitch, the third time in the last two games he’s been beaned. The benches were warned after the HBP, but nothing came of it.


They may have hit A-Rod in the first…but he hit back in the ninth.


Rodriguez now has 15 RBIs this postseason, which ties the Yankees’ single postseason record. A-Rod is knotted with Scott Brosius in 1998 and Bernie Williams in 1996. Remember that Rodriguez is also tied with Williams for most home runs in a single postseason with six.


Facing elimination, Cliff Lee will hope the keep the Phillies alive tonight. He was dominant in game one at Yankee Stadium, tossing all nine innings without allowing an earned run.



Cliff Lee pitched great in game one 

Lee will face A.J. Burnett, who was just as dominant in game two. Burnett tossed seven innings and gave up only one earned run on four hits with two walks and nine strikeouts.


Burnett will be throwing on three days rest for the fifth time in his career. On three days rest, Burnett’s numbers are stellar. He is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA on short rest, so we’ll see how he responds following that amazing outing in game two.



A.J. Burnett beat the Phillies in game two 

Honestly, if Burnett can go out there and do anything close to what he did in game two and if he can capture the win in the clinching game…I hate to even make picks or even predict things (because I am usually wrong) but he would make a strong case for the World Series Most Valuable Player Award.


I have to say, at this moment it would be Rivera; if the Series ended tonight, I think Mo would be the MVP. But if Burnett can mimic what he did in game two, he certainly has a chance at the award. He won a pivotal game two–a game the Yankees said they needed to win after losing game one the way they did.


And if Burnett wins the final game…well, the work and evidence of an MVP is right there.


But like I said, I’m not calling it; I don’t make predictions. I can’t even predict the weather, much less which player may or may not win the MVP of the World Series!


Well guys, the Yankees are 27 outs away from their 27th World Series Title. It’s almost sad to see this season end, but we’re not done yet. ONE MORE WIN and we are World Champions!!!


I’ll be back after game five with some highlights, thoughts, and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


The Yankees are so close to their 27th Title!!! 

World Series Game 3


World Series!!!


The Yankees and Phillies turned game three of the World Series into the Home Run Derby, it seemed.


The World Series teams hit a combined six homers in the game, but it was the Yanks who out-slugged the Phils and won 8-5 in game three, taking a two-games-to-one lead in the fall classic.


Up 3-0 in the top of the fourth, Phillies starter Cole Hamels threw a pitch out over the plate to Alex Rodriguez, who crushed the ball to deep right field. Originally ruled a double, Rodriguez’s hit went under review by the umpires, who were forced to convene and use instant replay.



A-Rod's first World Series hit was originally ruled a double, but eventually a homer 

It turns out Rodriguez hit the camera behind the right field wall and had the camera not been in that exact spot, the ball would have undoubtedly left the yard. The ball was ruled a home run, it cut the lead to 3-2, and it got the Yankees back in the game.


That home run was Rodriguez’s first career World Series hit and it was his sixth homer this postseason. With that he tied Bernie Williams for most home runs in a single postseason. A-Rod certainly has the chance to set a new record, and he will if he leaves the yard one more time.


To be honest, I think it was the right call. That camera should not have been there; if it wasn’t there the ball was going out anyway, so…finally, a good call from the umps.


Nick Swisher also put on a display of power, hitting a double and a solo homer on the night. Swisher had been struggling greatly in the series, going 0-for-3 in game one and even being benched in game two.


Nick Swisher hit his first home run in the World Series in game two 


Swisher broke out of it tonight and hats off to him. I expect him to carry over his good hitting from tonight throughout the rest of the series. He seems a lot looser than he was previously, so I think Swisher will be fine. Nice hitting!


Hideki Matsui also went yard in game three, blasting a pinch-hit, solo home run in the top of the eighth inning. That was Matsui’s second homer in as many games and his third career World Series home run.


Andy Pettitte made the start for the Yankees tonight and did a lot more than just pitch. The veteran lefty tossed six innings and gave up four earned runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out seven.


Pettitte may have tossed a pretty solid game (albeit not a quality start) but he helped his own cause in the top of the fifth. After Rodriguez made it 3-2 in the fourth, Pettitte came up with an RBI single off Hamels to tie the game at three.


Andy Pettitte hits an RBI single to tie the game 


With his RBI, Pettitte became the first Yankee pitcher since Jim Bouton in 1964 to record an RBI in the World Series. However, Pettitte (I guess) is one to gloat after he gets a hit. According to Derek Jeter, Pettitte has bragged about some of his past fall classic hits, including a base knock off Kevin Brown in 1998 and one against Randy Johnson in 2001.


With his hit last night, Pettitte can add Hamels to that list of pitchers he has hit off in the World Series.


The Yankees scored twice more in the fifth with a two-run double off the bat of Johnny Damon, giving them a lead they would not give back. Jorge Posada also added a run with an RBI single in the seventh, capping the Yankee offense.


Despite Pettitte’s decent outing, he did allow two solo home runs to Jayson Werth. The first bomb of Werth’s came in the second inning and he took Pettitte deep for the second time in the sixth.


Pettitte also allowed a bases-loaded walk to Jimmy Rollins and an RBI to Shane Victorino in the third, which put the Yankees in the hole.


Carlos Ruiz had the last home run in the game and the third homer for the Phillies, taking Phil Hughes deep in the ninth inning to finish the scoring on the night.


The Yankees were able to come from behind (again) and win. I guess this shouldn’t surprise me; they’ve been doing this all year. I was (of course) annoyed when the Phillies took the early lead, but I shouldn’t get annoyed.


The Yankees have it in them; that fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude that gives them the strength to come back in games like this. They are never out of any game, that’s all there is to it.


Tonight, CC Sabathia will take the mound on three days rest in game four against Joe Blanton. Sabathia is 3-1 this postseason with a 2.11 ERA and has struck out 36 batters.



CC Sabathia will pitch in short rest for the second time this postseason 

Blanton on the other hand has not had much lifetime success against the Yankees, posting a career record of 0-3 with an 8.18 ERA in 22 innings pitched vs. the Bombers.


Cliff Lee, who dominated the Yankees in game one, was considered by Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel to pitch game four on short rest. Lee however has never pitched on three days rest in his career. I guess Manuel didn’t want to push him, which is understandable.


Joe Blanton is 0-3 lifetime vs. the Yankees 


Looks like the odds are once again in favor of the Yankees. With the way Sabathia pitched on three days rest in game four of the ALCS vs. the Angels (eight innings, one run, five hits, two walks, five strikeouts) and the career numbers Blanton has against the Yankees…well, the numbers don’t lie.


Sabathia pitched great in that game on short rest and Blanton has struggled against the Yankees, so things are looking bright in Yankee Universe. When the numbers are in their favor, I generally tend not worry.


Plus, I think CC stands for “Confidence! Confidence!” Whenever he takes the hill, the team just knows they have a chance to win. Tomorrow we’ll see what the workhorse/Yankee ace can do; I expect nothing but the best.


It’s safe to say that if the Yankees take game four from the Phillies tonight, they’ll have a stranglehold on the World Series and things will be looking even better than they are now for them.


Well, game three was scary at first (I guess that’s to be expected…I mean, it was Halloween!) but our Yanks came through, like they’ve been doing all year.


See you after game four with more highlights and analysis. Until then…


Go Yankees!


Two more wins, guys…TWO more!

ALCS Game 6

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it….anywhere.”



Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter come together after the clincher 

Well, it may not have been as dramatic as 2003, when Aaron Boone slaughtered the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game Seven of the American League Championship Series to beat the Red Sox, but I’ll take it.


Last night, the New York Yankees clinched the American League pennant by defeating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game Six of the ALCS and will now make their 40th World Series appearance.


For the first time in six years, we Yankee fans know what it’s like to be going to the fall classic. And it feels WONDERFUL!


As for ALCS Game Six…


Well, Yanks’ starter Andy Pettitte looked awesome in the first two innings, but ran into some trouble in the top of the third. Ex-Yankee Bobby Abreu knocked in the Angels’ first run in the frame with an RBI single to give the Halos a quick, 1-0 lead.


I loved Abreu when he was a Yankee (and I still love him) for that reason; in a key situation when the team needed a run, he could always deliver. And that hasn’t changed. Abreu is still one of the best timely hitters in the league and he showed it in the third inning of Game Six.


He could never play the wall very well, but I still think Abreu was probably the best right fielder the Yankees had since Paul O’Neill. I still love you, Bobby.


The Angels’ 1-0 lead didn’t last very long as the Yankees came storming back in the bottom of the fourth. (Now to be honest, I didn’t think the game was moving along nicely and up until the fourth really was not a good game. I actually turned the Giants/Cardinals game on for a little while (which didn’t end well) but eventually made my way back to the Yankees)


The Yankees had been leaving runners on base through the first three innings, but finally stopped it and broke through. With the bases loaded, Johnny Damon pounded out a two-run single to put the Yanks’ ahead.


Later in the frame, Alex Rodriguez drew a bases-loaded walk to score Derek Jeter, giving the Yankees a 3-1 cushion.


Pettitte cruised throughout the rest of the game, finishing the night with a quality start: 6 1/3 innings, one earned run on seven hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. Typical for Pettitte, who is probably the Yankees’ best big-game pitcher. He has given the Yankees length and quality in each of his three postseason starts.


Joba Chamberlain also lent a hand, tossing 2/3 of an inning after Pettitte departed without allowing a run. I have to say, Chamberlain has not been bad this postseason, save for Game Three when he gave up the go-ahead run, but other than that, he has been solid.


Joe Girardi was not messing around, however; in the eighth inning, he called on Mariano Rivera to get a six out save. In my opinion, it was probably the best thing to do. There might be some fans that disagree, but a two-run lead against the Angels in an elimination game…he had to go to Mo.


Girardi had taken so much heat for the pitching decisions he made in games three and five (three when he took David Robertson out for Alfredo Aceves; five when he left A.J. Burnett in after a leadoff single in the seventh inning with a two-run lead) so really he had to do it.


The Sandman actually scuffled a little bit in the eighth, much to my surprise. Rivera gave up a run on an RBI by Vladimir Guerrero, making it 3-2 in the middle of the eighth.


But some costly errors by the Angels (Howie Kendrick dropped a ball on a bunt by Nick Swisher and Scott Kazmir lobbed the ball over the head of Kendrick on yet another bunt by Melky Cabrera) allowed the Yanks to plate three more runs, holding a 5-2 lead over the Angels going into the top of the ninth.


Down by three runs, top of the ninth, facing Rivera…you pretty much do not stand a chance. See you next year, Angels.



Derek Jeter celebrates his seventh pennant, the Yankees 40th World Series appearance 

Rivera mowed down the Halos in the ninth and the Yankees celebrated their 40th pennant. The happiest feeling a team and their fans can have, other than winning the World Series.


Champagne spraying, glee on the faces of the Yankees, happiness, and a pennant. A great way to end the ALCS.



The ALCS at a Glance



The Yankees beat the Angels in 6 games in the '09 ALCS 

The Yankees’ 2009 ALCS win marks the 40th time they have won the pennant. The Yankees have made it to the World Series more than any other team in baseball. The Dodgers have the second-most World Series appearances, reaching the fall classic 21 times.


With their ALCS win, the Yankees have finally gotten past the Angels, who had beaten and eliminated them in the playoffs twice before (2002 and 2005–both of those were in the ALDS, however)


Andy Pettitte captured his 16th playoff victory in Game Six. He is now the all-time postseason wins leader, breaking the tie of 15 with John Smoltz.


Pettitte also has the most playoff innings pitched, tossing a mind-boggling 237 1/3 innings. Smoltz is also second to Pettitte on that list with 209 innings pitched.


With the Game Six win, Pettitte has now pitched in five games which have given the Yankees a postseason series victory. That sets a new record and he is of course in first place in postseason wins (16) starts (38) and innings (237 1/3)


CC Sabathia won the ALCS Most Valuable Player Award for his record of 2-0, ERA of 1.13 and his 12 strikeouts in the 16 innings he pitched in the final round before the World Series.


The Yankee ace only allowed nine hits over those 16 innings pitched and just three walks. The Bronx Bombers have won all three of Sabathia’s playoff starts.


Sabathia is the first MVP of the ALCS since Mariano Rivera, who earned the honor in 2003. Game Six winning pitcher (Pettitte) won the award in 2001.


The last time the Yankees won a Game Six of a championship series was in 2000 when they defeated the Seattle Mariners in Game Six of the ALCS.


The Angels committed nine errors in the ALCS. The Yankees committed three.


The Yankees outscored the Angels 33-19 in the championship round.


Alex Rodriguez had nine hits in the ALCS, including three home runs. Overall this postseason, he has 14 hits, five homers, and 12 RBIs.


This will be Rodriguez’s first career World Series appearance.


Rivera now has 37 career postseason saves, which is of course the most by any closer all-time. (I think it’s safe to say Mo has put the record so far out of reach no one is going to be able to look up at it, let alone break it!)


Rivera did give up a run in the eighth inning of Game Six–that marked the first time he has given up a postseason run at home since the 2000 World Series.



Well, Yankee fans. It has been an incredible season. From steroid scandals and spring training to the 22-4 loss to the Cleveland Indians in April; from walk-off wins, winning streaks, and pies in the face all the way through the glorious, victorious summer months.


The Yankees turned the dog days into days where the beat other teams like dogs.


From winning the AL East in front of the Red Sox at home to winning the AL Pennant in front the Angels at home. It has been a wild ride.


And it’s not over yet!


The Yankees will face the Phillies in the '09 World Series 


The Phillies present a huge challenge to the Yankees in the World Series. They are the best-of-the-best in the National League and they certainly aren’t a pushover. They have a potent lineup, with players like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jayson Werth.


It’s not going to be easy, but hopefully it will be fun.


The Yankees did play the Phillies during inter-league play this year, losing two out of three to their World Series opponents May 22-24.


The Phils beat the Yanks 7-3 in the first game, but the Yankees edged them in game two with a dramatic comeback and a 5-4 walk-off win. Game three belonged to the Phillies, as they won 4-3, but the Yanks put up a good fight in that game; they tied the score when it looked like they had no chance.


The last time the Yankees and Phillies met in the World Series, the year was 1950. The outcome? The Yankees swept the Phillies in four games.


While I don’t think it will be a clean sweep in 2009, I have a good feeling the Yankees will win. I could picture the Yankees accomplishing something similar to what they did in the ALCS; possibly winning it all in six games.



The Marlins beat the Yankees in 6 games in the 2003 World Series 

The Yankees have a totally different team this year than they did the last time they reached the World Series in 2003. In fact, most of the players from the ’03 squad are gone and some are even retired!


The 2003 ALCS was our World Series that year. I really think the Yankees were so exhausted from those marathon games (and maybe the physicality and fight) with Boston and having the ALCS go to seven games that they didn’t stand a chance in World Series vs. the Florida Marlins.


The pitchers were worn out, the hitters were flat–2003 was not our year. But 2009…well, it could very well be our year, no questions asked.   


Whatever the case, things are looking up on this day and it is a beautiful day to be a Yankee fan. I am so proud and my heart is overjoyed that my team has reached the World Series and we may very well be the last team standing…


I will be back after Game One of the World Series with some thoughts, highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!


By the way: Let’s do some real damage…! (No Phanatics were hurt in the making of this blog)



Will the Yankees whack the Phillies in the '09 World Series...? 


ALCS Game 4

After Monday’s ugly loss, the Yankees bounced back very nicely.


The Yankees won Game Four of the ALCS, 10-1 


In a one-sided squadoosh, the Bronx Bombers crushed the Los Angeles Angels 10-1 on Tuesday night. Another wild and crazy game, to say the least but the Bombers got the better of it.


The biggest story from this game: we all found out CC Sabathia used to have an imaginary friend named Danny growing up…just kidding. FOX did a lousy job with that one.



CC Sabathia tossed eight strong innings on three days rest 

But in all seriousness, Sabathia was an absolute monster, throwing extraordinarily well on just three days rest. It was the first time this year he took the mound on short rest, but I expected nothing less from him. It was a sheer display of power pitching from the Yankee ace.


The reason I expected Sabathia to do well was because the day before, Yankees’ pitching coach Dave Eiland had him throw in the bullpen. In his session, Sabathia’s fastball was topping off at 96 mph, they say. The big man even went as far as saying he could pitch yesterday!!!


That would be just crazy, pitching on two days rest. But who knows, it may have worked!


In any event, Sabathia went another strong eight innings, and gave up just one run on five hits. He walked two and struck out five. He nearly made an exact copy his performance from Game One on Friday night. The big lefty certainly contained the Angels.


The Yankee ace was also extremely economical, tossing only 101 pitches on the night.


“I didn’t feel any different at all, I felt good,” Sabathia told the media after the game.


“We still got a little ways to go and I never had any doubts about me being able to perform on this stage but I feel great and hopefully I can keep it going.”


Sabathia made one mistake, a pitch that Kendry Morales was able to turn on and take out for a home run in the bottom of the fifth. Although he was a force for the Halos, hitting 34 homers during the regular season, it was only Morales’s first postseason homer.


Backing Sabathia was Alex Rodriguez, who is just on an absolute tear this postseason.


Alex Rodriguez has five homers this postseason 


A-Rod is having a renaissance of sorts and is doing unbelievable, mind-numbing things this month. His assault on the month of October continued in Game Four, as he went 3-for-4 with another home run and two RBIs. He also drew a walk and scored three runs.


A-Rod is now batting .407 in the postseason with five homers and 11 RBIs. Remember when he was “Mr. April” in 2007, hitting 14 homers that month? Well, he is acting the same way in October 2009.  


“I think for me it’s just being comfortable all year,” Rodriguez said. “That final game of the regular season when I homered twice was huge in terms of momentum.”


Bernie Williams hit six homers in the 1996 playoffs, the most ever by a Yankee in a single postseason. Rodriguez is right behind him and could easily overthrow Williams for that record.  


Also leaving the yard today was Johnny Damon, who hit his second home run in as many games. His bat came alive today, which is a good thing for the Yankees.


What also struck me as odd about his home run was the history. It was five years ago this very night that Damon smacked a grand slam home run and a two-run homer in the same game at the old Yankee Stadium in Game Seven of the 2004 ALCS.



Johnny Damon homered on the anniversary of his big 2004 ALCS game seven 

The Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and beat the Yankees in the ’04 ALCS (as most of you painfully remember) but they won Game Seven in large part due to Damon’s homers in that game. It was just strange that he hit another home run on the same night five years later.


Who says there are no baseball gods…?


Melky Cabrera stepped out of his slump, going 3-for-4 with four RBIs, a walk, and a run scored. I had mentioned yesterday that he was killing us, but he snapped out of his little funk tonight.



Melky Cabrera came out of his slump with four RBIs in game four 

Mark Teixeira had a hit tonight, albeit it was only one in five at-bats tonight. But he continued to play his stellar defense and he did hit the ball very hard. So I am not worried about Teixeira down the stretch here. 


Nick Swisher did not have a hit tonight, but at least he did something productive drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch. He would have scored a run if he was not called out on yet another horrible call from the umpire.


Tim McClelland, tonight’s third base ump, said Swisher left too early on what would have been a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. OK, first off, the replay clearly showed that he left the base after the ball was caught by Torii Hunter. Next, McClelland was not even looking at Swisher…how would he know if Swisher left too early??!!


Well, the Yankees were given two other calls in the game.


Tim McClelland made some bad calls in game four. 


Swisher was picked off at second base in the same inning but called safe; another botched call from the umpires. Then later, the Angels had a double play at third base, but somehow Robinson Cano was safe when he was tagged off the base and Jorge Posada was only ruled out.


It was a crazy play coupled with few absolutely horrible calls. I have to say, the umpiring in this series has been horrendous. 


“In my heart I thought Swisher left too soon and I thought Cano was on the base. The replay showed that Cano was out and I knew Posada was out. I got it wrong,” McClelland said to the press after the game.


Well in all fairness to the Angels, it wasn’t fair to the Angels. In the postseason, the umpiring should not be this bad! Some people are even saying this is the worst umpiring they have ever seen. It certainly has been sketchy, that’s for sure.


Well, tonight was a whirlwind. It’s good to be up 3-1, but I think everyone has to keep in mind that the series is not done. 2004 (I know for me) is not far from my memory; I will not be content until the last out of the next game the Yankees are leading. The Angels are certainly capable of winning ballgames, so until we win the next game, I am not at ease.


A.J. Burnett will take the hill in Game Five on Thursday night and face  Angels’ Game One starter John Lackey. If the Yankees win, they have a one-way ticket to the World Series.


If they don’t win it Thursday, Andy Pettitte will take the mound Saturday night, probably against Angels’ Game Two starter Joe Saunders.


However, there is an enormous amount of pressure on the Halos; they are now facing elimination for the first time this postseason and the Yankee bullpen is rested. Sabathia made it so that the tired Yankee ‘pen got a day of rest and with the off day tomorrow will be all-systems-go Thursday.


The Yanks’ big guns (Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Mariano Rivera) will all be well-rested before Game Five. So looking at it from the outside, even if Burnett only goes a serviceable five innings, they have the stuff to get through the rest of the game.


Before I leave, I’d like to give a shout-out to Bob Sheppard, the Yankees’ longtime Stadium announcer. It was Sheppard’s 99th birthday today, God bless him! He has not been working at Yankee Stadium this season, due to a hip injury and he has also suffered from laryngitis.



Happy Birthday, Bob Sheppard!!! 

Sheppard is known as the “Voice of God” at Yankee Stadium and he is a very special member of the Yankee family. We love you, Bob! If we make the World Series, it will not be the same without you!


Well, good night for us Yankee fans. Hopefully we follow with a win on Thursday. And if we do…hang onto the roof, because we’ll be heading to the fall classic!


See you after Game Five.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!    

ALCS Game 1

Last night the Yankees jumped over yet another hurdle.


Before game one of the American League Championship Series, all we had been hearing about were CC Sabathia’s poor career numbers in the postseason, Alex Rodriguez’s inability to perform in the playoffs, and all of the Yankees’ struggles vs. the Los Angeles Angels.


But it didn’t matter to them.


The Yankees went about their business like they have been doing all year, beating the Halos 4-1 in game one of the ALCS.


Let’s start with the obvious: Sabathia pitched like a machine, dominating the Angels over eight strong innings of work. He allowed only one earned run on just four hits, walked one, and struck out seven.



CC Sabathia tossed eight strong innings in game one of the ALCS 


Sabathia won game one of the ALDS and game one of the ALCS, becoming the first Yankee to accomplish the feat since Orlando Hernandez in 1999.


The Yankee ace now has 21 victories this year, combing both his regular season and postseason wins.


“That was a great feeling to have the Stadium rocking,” Sabathia told the media in the press conference after the win. “I don’t really show a lot of emotion, but it came out of me there.”


Before each of Sabathia’s eight strikeouts, the Yankee faithful would boisterously chant “CC,” and he also noted his appreciation for the fans’ overwhelming support.


“Eh, he did alright,” Derek Jeter modestly joked after the game when the media asked him what he thought of Sabathia’s performance.


Before his last two games, Sabathia was 2-3 in the postseason with a bloated 7.92 ERA. In his last two October starts, the big man is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Not to mention he has recorded 15 strikeouts in his last two games while only allowing one walk.


The Yankee ace seems to be rewriting his postseason history.


The only run Sabathia allowed was an RBI single off the bat of Kendry Morales which scored Vladimir Guerrero in the top of the fourth.  


The Yankees on the other hand cashed in on the many mistakes the Angels made.


In the bottom of the first, the Yankees put a run on the board quickly with a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez, jumping out to a 1-0 lead.


After game one of the ALCS, Rodriguez is now batting .462 this postseason with two homers and seven RBIs. How’s that for no production in October?


Then Hideki Matsui popped a fly ball toward the left side of the infield, almost right in between third baseman Chone Figgins and shortstop Erick Aybar. The ball dropped right in between the two of them, allowing Johnny Damon to score, much to the disgust of Angels’ starter John Lackey.


Erick Aybar misses a pop up that cost the Angels a run 


Charge that an error on the Angels but neither player ever really called for the ball. It seemed as though both of them just expected the other guy to get it and in the end they both looked like a couple of deer in the headlights.


“I saw him standing there and I thought he was going to catch it,” Aybar told the press after the game. “There was no communication.”


Figgins said that one of them should have called for the ball, and it was an honest mistake by both players.  


A costly mistake by the Angels, one of the three errors they would commit in the game. It’s strange; in all five games of the 2005 ALDS, the Halos only made one error. Last night they made three. It was not like them.


The Yankees would score their third run in the fifth, as Damon busted out of his 1-for-12 postseason slump and led off the inning with a double. After a walk to Rodriguez, Matsui drove in Damon with a base hit to left field.


Rodriguez would be put out, however, running through the stop sign set by third base coach Rob Thomson and getting nailed at home on a play at the plate.


The next inning, Melky Cabrera worked a walk and reached second on an errant pickoff throw from Lackey. Jeter then poked a sharp liner up the middle that got by Torii Hunter in centerfield, allowing Cabrera to score and it gave the Yankees their fourth run.


Charge two more errors on the Angels in the sixth.


In the ninth, who else but “The Hammer of God” (Mariano Rivera) came in and shut it down. After allowing a leadoff walk to Morales, Rivera got the last three outs in the ninth to wrap up game one and secure a Yankee win.



Mariano Rivera has 36 postseason saves, good enough to be called the all-time leader 

It marked Rivera’s 36 save in his postseason career, as he continues to further cement his postseason numbers. He is the all-time postseason saves leader with 36, and the guy behind him (Dennis Eckersley) has 15.


I’m pretty sure Rivera put that record so far out of reach that no other closer in baseball history will be able to touch it.


I also loved how Joe Girardi was joking around with the home plate umpire Tim McClelland when Rivera came into the game.


As Metallica’s Enter Sandman was blaring through the Yankee Stadium speakers, Girardi went out to inform the umps of the defensive changes (Damon came out of the game, Cabrera moved to left field, and Brett Gardner came in to play center field) and of course to let them know Rivera was coming in.


“It’s Rivera,” Girardi told the umpire.


“Who?” McClelland asked.


“Some new guy that just made it,” Girardi kidded.


“Oh, just got called up from Triple A, right?” McClelland joked.


I thought the banter between the two about Rivera was amusing. Everyone knows Rivera is probably the greatest closer in the history of the game, and for Girardi to kid around with the umpire the way he did, it was funny.


I think the Yankees may have set the tone for the ALCS with the win last night. Game one is extremely important to win and the Yankees went out into the “frozen tundra of Yankee Stadium” and did what they have done all year.


I also think the Yankees do not need to fear the Angels after last night. The Yankees know they can beat them when it matters. They have now won three of their last four vs. LA and if you count the final game of the regular season, the Yankees are on a five-game winning streak.


The Yanks have gone on these winning streaks all year, sometimes reaching eight or nine wins in a row. They only need seven more postseason wins to be called World Series Champions.


Tonight (if the weather holds out) the Yankees will play game two of the ALCS.


A.J. Burnett will make his second postseason start and face Angels’ left-hander Joe Saunders.


A.J. Burnett will start game two of the ALCS 


Both starters had respectable season records and pitched extraordinarily well during the regular season. Burnett went 13-9 while Saunders posted a record of 16-7.


In his last start on Oct. 9 in game two of the ALDS, Burnett went six innings and gave up one earned run on three hits. The walks were a little bit of an issue (he allowed five free passes) but he struck out six in a quality start.


Not only that, but Burnett beat the Angels the last time he faced them on Sept. 23, dominating them with 11 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings while only allowing two runs.


Saunders did not pitch in the ALDS vs. Boston and has not thrown since Oct. 4 when he pitched five innings in Oakland. He does however pitch well in the cold weather, as he is a career 10-1 with a 2.51 ERA in April and 12-4 with a 4.31 ERA in September and October.


When you think about how long it has been since the Yankees have won a World Series, consider how long it’s been since they’ve won an ALCS game. Not since game three of the 2004 ALCS (beating the Red Sox 19-8) have the Yankees been victorious in a Championship game.


That seems like a lifetime ago; I was a senior in High School the last time the Yanks won an ALCS game. I am now a senior in College and they finally won another.    


Well, hopefully the Yankees and Angels get their game in tonight. If the Bombers win game two, things will be looking very good for the Yankees. If they go up 2-0 and take the series to Anaheim, I think the Yankees just might be headed to the fall classic.


The 2009 Yankees do not seem like the type of team that would collapse if they go up by two games, especially if the Angels are going to see Sabathia twice more in the ALCS.


We’ll see what Burnett and the Bronx Bombers can do tonight. The Yankees have a rested bullpen, a confident offense, and a game one win under their belts already.


I’ll be back after game two with more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!

ALDS Game 3



The Yankees Celebrate their ALDS sweep


“Right on, Tex!” Alex Rodriguez said to Mark Teixeira as the Yankees were celebrating after their clinch of the ALDS.

“That a boy, Al!” Teixeira loudly responded as they poured champagne over each other’s heads.


Yankee fans, our team has finally gotten over the hump of the first round of the playoffs–an obstacle we haven’t been able to hurdle since 2004. The Bronx Bombers completed a three-game, ALDS sweep of the Twinkies Sunday night, beating them 4-1.  


And now the Yankees will advance to the ALCS to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The winner of the ALCS will earn a one-way ticket to the 2009 World Series.


Game Three was yet another exciting game; thrills and chills for both Yankee fans and Twins fans alike.


It started out as a certified pitcher’s duel. Andy Pettitte and ex-Yankee Carl Pavano were both dealing, making it through the first five innings without allowing a run.


The Twins broke the scoreless tie in the sixth with an RBI single to score Denard Span, giving the Twins a 1-0 lead. I’ll admit, I was upset and not in the right frame of mind, considering how well Pavano was pitching. I thought it could be a one-run game and the Yankees might fall.


But then came the top half of the following inning.


Coming into this series, Rodriguez had been crucified by the media for his performances in playoffs past. Well, he had a dramatic homer in game two, a pair of RBIs in game one, and in the seventh inning of game three, a game-tying, solo home run over the baggie in right field of the Metrodome.



Alex Rodriguez smacked a solo homer in the seventh inning of game three 

Talk about silencing your critics and coming up big in yet another clutch situation.


Following Rodriguez later in the inning was Jorge Posada, who delivered a solo homer of his own to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t give up. Posada would later help pad the Yankee lead with an RBI single in the ninth and Robinson Cano also contributed to the offense, knocking in the Yankees’ fourth run later in the frame.


I think the biggest play (or non-play) for the Twins came in the bottom of the seventh and for the second time in two games, they made a costly base-running mistake. 


In the seventh, Span tapped a soft liner that looked to be going up the middle for a run-scoring base hit. Derek Jeter managed to scoop the ball, keeping all his wits about him. Running from second base, Nick Punto blew the stop sign from his third base coach, passing third base and dashing his way home.


Punto slipped on the turf on the baseline between third base and home, got up, and raced back toward third. Jeter gunned the ball to Posada at home plate, Posada snapped-threw the ball to third, and after all that, Punto was tagged out by Rodriguez.


Nick Punto was nailed at third, thanks to a heads-up play by Derek Jeter 


Score that crazy play 6-2-5.


Much like the play on Friday night where Carlos Gomez overran second base and was tagged out before Delmon Young scored, it came back to burn the Twins. They shot themselves in the foot again. It was (by far) the biggest play for the Yankees and the worst thing that could have happened to the Twins.


With that play, I can safely say this: Derek Jeter is hands down the most fundamentally sound player in the game of baseball and probably the most intelligent. Jeter maintained perfect control of the situation, never panicked, and got the job done. That’s why he’s the leader.


The Yankees once again got some great pitching in game three, receiving their third straight quality start.


Pettitte tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up one run on three hits. He walked one and struck out seven. The pitching in this series is great sign going into the ALCS against a tough Angels team; every pitcher who started for the Yankees gave them a good chance to win.


Not to mention the Yankee bullpen in the ALDS; basically everyone outside of Damaso Marte (and maybe Phil Hughes in game two) did their job. The Yankees’ bullpen is looking solid for the next round.


I also have to give a lot of credit to Ron Gardenhire, the Twins’ manager. After the game, Gardenhire noted the strength of the Yankees, his happiness for them, and how much he enjoys watching players like Jeter and Rodriguez play.


It was such a respectful gesture from the Twins’ skipper; he was a gracious loser and didn’t seem to hold contempt for anything that happened in the ALDS. I admire Gardenhire for that and have a newfound respect for him.


Gardenhire said, “I tip my cap to the Yankees.” Well, I tip my cap to you, Mr. Gardenhire. You are truly a classy manager.


Now we go on to face a very live Angels team, who just swept the Boston Red Sox. The series will begin Friday, Oct. 16 at Yankee Stadium. Get your popcorn ready, because there will be a show!


The Yankees and Angels are both on fire, so the ALCS is looking to be an interesting series. As I have been saying for weeks, I hope the Yanks can pull through!


As for the sweep…


The ALDS at a Glance



The Yankees swept the Twins in the ALDS 

The Yankees outscored the Twins 15-6 in round one.


The Yankees hit six home runs in the ALDS; the Twins did not leave the park.


Alex Rodriguez batted .455 with two home runs and six RBIs in the ALDS.


Both of Rodriguez’s home runs tied the game in the seventh inning or later.


The Yankees beat the Twins 10 times (including the playoffs) this season without losing once. Six out of their 10 wins came at Yankee Stadium.


Johnny Damon went 1-for-12 at the plate with a walk in the ALDS. (I think he needs to work with Kevin Long in the batting cage before the ALCS begins. Just saying.)


Derek Jeter hit his 18th postseason home run in game one, which tied him with other Yankee legends Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for third place on the all-time postseason home runs list. (Mantle, Jackson and Jeter sit in third place behind Bernie Williams and Manny Ramirez, who are in second and first place, respectively)


Mark Teixeira’s game-winning home run in game two was the 11th postseason walk-off win for the Yankees. The Yanks have the most postseason walk-off wins in baseball history and it was the first extra-inning, game-winning home run since Aaron Boone’s solo blast to defeat the Red Sox in game seven of the 2003 ALCS.


Teixeira’s homer also left Yankee Stadium unbelievably quickly, in only 2.88 seconds to be exact. That was the shortest amount of time a ball took to leave the park at Yankee Stadium this year. A screaming line drive if you ask me!


The Yanks’ ALDS win was their 45th postseason series victory in their history.


Notching the save in game three, Yanks’ closer Mariano Rivera now has 35 postseason game saves. Guess who leads that category all-time? (If you guessed Rivera, you’re right! in second place is Dennis Eckersley with 15 postseason game saves)


The Twins left a total of 34 men on base in the ALDS.


Game three of the ALDS was the final baseball game that was played at the Twins’ venue, the Metrodome. The Twins are moving into a new Stadium, Target Field, in 2010.


The last time the Yankees swept the ALDS, they went on to sweep the World Series (which took place in 1999)


Anyway, that does it for this series. We need to brace ourselves for impact, because the Angels are a tough team. But I believe in the New York Yankees. They do not give up!


I’ll be back after game one of the ALCS for more highlights and analysis.


Until then, Go Yankees!!!