Tagged: Nick Johnson

Yankees vs. Red Sox: Thoughts and Notes

The New York Yankees cruised into a 10-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox tonight.

 

It was a wild game filled with a lot of news and stories. Here is what I made of it all…

 

Josh Beckett

 

 


Josh Beckett got rocked, but hurt some Yankees tonight 

It is kind of strange what happened to the Boston ace in this game.

 

Beckett started off strong, fanning five of the first six batters he faced. He seemed to be rolling along, looking untouchable up until the sixth inning. But everything came unglued for him and things got out of hand.

 

In the top of the sixth inning, Beckett gave up six runs on four hits, faced 11 Yankees, and was run from the game. He ended the night with 5 1/3 innings, giving up nine earned runs on nine hits. He walked three batters, hit two, and struck out eight.

 

Aside from the number of strikeouts, his line tonight was horrendous.

 

 


Robinson Cano was hit on the knee 

In the sixth inning, Beckett put Robinson Cano out. Throwing a blazing fastball, Cano was hit on the inset of his left knee. Being the fighter that he is, Cano tried to stay in the game and walked down to first. He later decided better of it and came out of the game.

 

In the same inning, Derek Jeter was hit with a pitch and Beckett also came up and in on Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli. It’s obvious his control was a non-factor at that point, but it may have been more than that.

 

I have never seen Beckett in that form. Usually he has pinpoint accuracy and can locate with each of his pitches. I am not going to accuse him of intentionally hitting Cano (and I can’t say he beaned Jeter on purpose, because the bases were loaded) but I will say he looked like he did not care. To me, he came off as very arrogant, even in defeat.

 

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel he acted like a sore loser.

 

At that point in the game, the Yankees were hitting him hard; he intentionally walked Brett Gardner to load the bases and face Cervelli, a move that backfired. After that happened, I think he gave up on the game and did not care anymore.

 

At one point in the inning, Alex Rodriguez mouthed “Enough is enough already,” directed at Beckett’s control issues. The Yankees were taking notice of his command problem and were not happy. They even got up on the top step of their dugout and just looked ready to pounce.

 

I wish they had. They could have hit Beckett and let him know how it feels.

 

After his outing tonight, Beckett now owns an earned run average of 7.46 and his season record is 1-1. By far, this is Beckett at his worst. He has been one of the most paramount and dominant pitchers over the last seven years and he has never been this bad.

 

I don’t mind that he was hit hard by the Yankees. I am however holding contempt for the fact that he plunked Jeter and put Cano out.

 

 

Nick Swisher

 

 


Nick Swisher is on fire! 

 Right now Nick Swisher is en fuego.

 

The cool dude in a loose mood belted his sixth homer of the year in the top of the fourth off Beckett. For Swisher, it was his second home run in as many games and his fourth in six games.

 

Beckett just hung a breaking too high and Swisher crushed it.

 

This year the Yankee right fielder looks a lot better in terms of his swing and his defense. He doesn’t look so stiff out there, and part of that I chalk up to experience. He got his first year as a Yankee out of the way, and now he is rolling.

 

And with so many Yanks injured, it’s good to have him stepping up and hitting.

 

During the post game interview with the YES Network, Swisher mentioned that he visited a hospital this afternoon. He dedicated his home run to the child he met with today, which I thought was a class act. But that’s Swisher’s personality; I’m not surprised he said that.

 

His words reminded me of Brett Gardner last year. On May 15 of last season, Gardner visited a hospital and promised a girl he would try and hit a home run. He wound up getting an inside-the-park round-tripper.

 

As for Swisher, right now he is hitting .286 coupled with 20 RBIs and 16 runs scored.

 

Keep it up, Swisher!

 

 

Phil Hughes

 

 


Phil Hughes got his fourth win of the year and first career win vs. Boston 

He is really becoming “one of our guys,” if you will.

 

Tonight, Phil Hughes matched Beckett pitch-for-pitch and went on to beat Boston and earn his fourth win of 2010. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven masterful innings, and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one hitter and struck out seven.

 

Hughes’s stuff was electric tonight. His breaking ball was working beautifully and his fastball was live and exploding through the strike zone. He went right after Boston’s best hitters and got them out one by one.

 

In the top of the third, Hughes caught Marco Scutaro looking on probably the nastiest curveball I have ever seen. The ball started up at Scutaro’s eyes, it seemed, and landed belt-high for a strikeout.

 

That breaking ball was so gross, it buckled Scutaro’s knees.

 

At the end of the night, Hughes is now 4-0 on the year, becoming the fourth Yankee starter to have four wins on the season. His earned run average went up a little bit, going from 1.44 to 1.69, but his work tonight speaks for itself.

 

Tonight also marked Hughes’s first career win over the Red Sox.

 

The Yankees have to be feeling very good about Hughes right now. Looking forward, he has a chance to win a lot of games this year. If he continues to work as effectively as he did tonight, he can make a Cy Young Award push.

 

At this point, Hughes is the best pitcher in the American League, if you ask me.

 

Back during spring training, I never thought I would be saying that! Hughes has done a fine job of clearing the air and making the statement that he belongs in the Yankee rotation.

 

Hughes is our guy. That about says it all.

 

 

Other Notes:

 

–Nick Johnson left the game with an apparent wrist injury. He was sent back to New York for an MRI and obviously won’t be playing for the rest of the weekend.

 

It never ceases to amaze me. Johnson had the best game he’s played all year on Wednesday. Two days later, he kills it.

 

Why did we get him again?

 

–Joe Girardi said a roster move will be made to replace Johnson. After the game tonight he mentioned the possibility of calling up an infielder from the minors.

 

–Every Yankee except Johnson, Cano, Ramiro Pena, and Gardner knocked in at least one run tonight.   

 

–“I’d be surprised if Cano plays tomorrow,” Girardi said. Cano took that bean ball on the knee pretty hard, and even he said he would have to assess how he is feeling tomorrow.

 

I hope he plays. He is one of the Yankees’ hottest hitters and they need him. But if he has to miss a day, I say he should take it. It’s just frustrating, because he was hit with a pitch. If he hadn’t gotten hit, he would be fine.

 

–Jorge Posada, still nursing that balky calf, didn’t play tonight. He is still day-to-day, so hopefully he plays tomorrow.

 

There is only so much catching Francisco Cervelli can do…although he is doing just fine. He went 2-for-3 tonight with an RBI, a walk, and a run scored. He is kind of flying under the radar, but quietly putting together a great year!

 

–Retaliation tomorrow afternoon? Perhaps. Perhaps not. We will have to wait and see. The Red Sox certainly deserve to know what it feels like to have one of their top guys plunked.

 

God forbid Kevin Youkilis get beaned, though. For the amount of times he has been thrown at by Yankee pitching in his career, I wouldn’t be surprised if he charged the mound. It’s alright; CC would just have to sit on him, and the Yanks would win the fight.

 

–As announced before the game, Andy Pettitte will miss his next scheduled start against the Tigers on Tuesday. Javier Vazquez will make the start Tuesday and Sergio Mitre will start Monday.

 

Girardi set this up so that Vazquez will pitch the first game against the Mets at Citi Field on Friday, May 21. It might be a good idea, considering he probably has a better shot at winning against a National League team.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon it is CC Sabathia (4-1, 2.74 ERA) vs. Clay Buchholz (3-2, 2.97 ERA)

 

–The Yankees are now 3-1 vs. Boston this season and are 20-8 overall. A stark contrast to last year when they began 0-8 in their first eight games against the Red Sox.

 

–The Yanks snapped Boston’s four-game win streak tonight and extended their win streak to five games.

Yankees Take Series From Chicago, Squish White Sox

Talk about a squadoosh.

 

The New York Yankees pounded the Chicago White Sox 12-3 in the rubber game of their three-game weekend series this afternoon. The Bronx Bombers have now won seven of their first eight series this season and dating back to 2009, the Yankees have now won 14 of their last 17 series at Yankee Stadium.

 

 


Curtis Granderson will be out for a month  

Brett Gardner did a nice job of filling in for the injured Curtis Granderson, who yesterday strained his groin running from second base to third. Granderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list and according to manager Joe Girardi will “be out for at least a month.”

 

But in Granderson’s absence, Gardner did just fine going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, two RBIs, a walk, and two runs scored. Girardi said, “Gardner has been playing well and he’s going to need to keep it up because he will be playing centerfield every day for awhile.”

 


 

Brett Gardner was 2-for-4 with a homer today

Gardner took White Sox’ starter Mark Buehrle deep to right field in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run, his first of the year. Earlier on in the first inning, Gardner knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI single to score Robinson Cano.

 

Up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Cano did some yard work of his own. With two men on base, the hot-hitting second baseman homered to right field, a three-run blast that put the Yankees up 5-0 and basically put the White Sox away.

 

“Red-hot Robbie Cano” is now hitting .387 with nine homers and 21 RBIs this year.

 

 


Robinson Cano is hitting .387 this year 

The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the sixth to widen their lead to 7-0. Nick Swisher joined the home run party and clubbed a two-run bomb to right field, his second in as many games. Swisher now has four home runs on the year and two at home, where he does not seem to hit many homers.

 

Last season, Swisher did not hit his second home run at Yankee Stadium until June 7.

 

In the bottom of the seventh the Yankees exploded for five more runs. Derek Jeter drew a bases loaded walk to score Jorge Posada, and then Nick Johnson cracked a two-run double. Mark Teixeira followed up with a two-run double of his own, giving the Yankees 12 runs on the afternoon.

 

 

Historically, Mark Teixeira hits well in the month of May 

Teixeira went 4-for-5 at the plate today, erasing his troubled April with a great start to May. It looks like the Yankees’ first baseman is keeping his elbow up more and as a result is getting around on some pitches. He is notorious for hitting well in May, so today might be just a small sample of what’s to come.

 

In the top of the ninth with two men on base, Paul Konerko crushed a three-run homer to left field to spoil the shutout and give the ChiSox their three runs in the game. It was Konerko’s 12th homer of the year and he leads the majors in that category.

 

Behind all the Yankee offense today was Phil Hughes, who absolutely puzzled the White Sox hitters. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven strong innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He walked only one batter and struck out six.

 

 


Phil Hughes has been compared to Roger Clemens 

(I’ll just say it) Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. But in reality, Hughes reminded me today of Roger Clemens. His delivery was very smooth, he was getting ahead of the hitters, and he was mixing his pitches.

 

There is a reason Sports Illustrated once called Hughes “The Pocket Rocket.”

 

Although Hughes was throwing a lot of strikes, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not think so. In the bottom of the seventh, Guillen got his money’s worth and got thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called a ball on Gardner, Guillen did not agree, and ultimately got tossed.

 

Ozzie Guillen got tossed today! 

 

Not unusual for a manager like Guillen. However, Hughes was throwing the ball very well, and I’m sure Guillen would be the first one to say it.

 

With the win, Hughes is now 3-0 this season and he has won all three of the starts he has made. He became the youngest pitcher since his teammate Andy Pettitte to win his first three games of the year. Pettitte won his first three games as a 23 year-old in 1996.

 

Now with a record of 16-8 this year, the Yankees will remain at home for the next three games and entertain the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s just completed a weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox despite dropping their previous two out of three to the Yanks at home.

 

CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling against Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70 ERA)

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium: A Wonderful Experience

 


Opening Day!!!  

 

Luck: a force that brings good fortune or adversity. Yankee legend Lou Gehrig once claimed to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Yesterday afternoon, I felt I was the luckiest man on the face of the earth.

 

I was fortunate enough to spend the day with my friends and family at Yankee Stadium for the Bronx Bombers’ home opener against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Not only was it their home opener, it was their ring ceremony, held to commemorate their 2009 World Series Championship.

 

After a beautiful ceremony, the Yankees beat the Angels, 7-5.

 

But the day wasn’t just about RBIs, base hits, and runs scored. It wasn’t just about the Yankees receiving their championship rings. It went far beyond anything that anyone can really understand. Overall, it was a wonderful experience; one I will never forget.

 

A Meaningful Day

 

My cousin Thomas, who invited me and my other cousin Krystina to the game, could not have been more excited for Opening Day. He got the tickets and graciously invited us to this historic game. His father (my Uncle John) recently passed away. I know that Thomas would have loved nothing more than to share the day with his dad.

 

Since his dad could not be there, I find it so honorable that he wanted me there to share the day with him. I could not have felt better. The fact that he asked me to go with him nearly drove me to tears.

 

And it didn’t get any easier when we reached the ballpark.

 

The old ballpark is almost gone! 


  

Getting off the train, we noticed the old Yankee Stadium. The building is nearly torn down completely. It was an unbelievable sight to behold. I can remember so many great and meaningful memories for me in that Stadium, and my only thought was, “is it really right for them to just gut it and rip it down?”

 

I guess they had to do it, but it didn’t make me feel very good. I could tell Thomas was taken back by the whole thing; he was as overwhelmed as I was. The same building where Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and countless other Yankee legends made history is now in shambles; it’s merely a skeleton of what used to be a beautiful ballpark.

 

Heartbreaking, to say the least.

 

When we got inside the new Stadium, it was madness. Everywhere you looked the words, “2009 World Series Champions” were visible. The Great Hall was buzzing with Yankee fans, all ready to watch the team accept their 27th World Title.

 

2009 World Series Champs! 


  

Thomas, Krystina, and I went down to the field level. There we met up with Thomas’s sister (another one of my cousins) Ashley, who went to the game with her friend Matthew. We took a picture together–in my mind, the best picture I took all day. I took a ridiculous amount of photos of the players, the ceremony, and the game.

 

I love my family :) 


  

But I would say the group shot we took together was the best. I would not be anywhere without my family and they mean so much to me. I was honored that they invited me to the game, and for that I cannot thank them enough.

 

Ashley and Matt went to their seats while Thomas, Krystina, and I stayed on the field level to watch the Angels take batting practice, as the Yanks took BP before the gates opened to the public. We were literally pressed directly up against the wall in right field. We had a perfect view of everything!

 

Thomas kept yelling for a ball. He wanted one more than anything. Former Yankee Bobby Abreu was practically right in front of us. He lobbed a couple loose baseballs into the stands, but not any that came near us. Two security guards however were standing near us and Thomas chatted with them, trying to coerce them into getting him a ball.

 

Whoever was in the Angels’ batting cage smoked one down the right field line. The ball ricocheted off the side of the wall and onto the grass.

 

“Can you get that for me?” Thomas politely asked.

 

“We are not allowed to go on the grass,” one of the security guards answered.

 

Not long after that, another ball was ripped down the right field line in foul territory, landing safely on the dirt. It was right in front of the guards.

 

“Please!” Thomas persisted. “Please get that for me!”

 

The guard smiled, bent over, picked up the ball, and placed it softly in Thomas’s glove.

 

 
Tommy caught a foul ball during BP! 

 

I have never in my life seen a child happier. Thomas, with a grin as wide as the Grand Canyon, had gotten a foul ball in batting practice, a feat I never accomplished at a Major League game. He was ecstatic and I was overjoyed that he was able to get it.

 

I’m sure it will be something he’ll remember forever.

 

What I thought was significant about the day was the team the Yankees were playing. They played the Angels. And I have no doubt in my mind that Thomas’s dad, my Uncle John, was one of the Angels at the Stadium yesterday–but he was an Angel for the Yankees. It truly felt as though he was right there with us.

 

Ring Ceremony

 


Ring Ceremony! 


  

After batting practice wrapped, the ring ceremony festivities were set to begin. I watched from behind centerfield and everything looked wonderful. Michael Kay and John Sterling emceed the ceremony and the World Series trophy was even on display.

 

First the team paid homage to owner George Steinbrenner, who was in attendance for the days’ events. I have never heard a louder ovation for a non-player in my life. The crowd roared for him and rightfully so. Without Mr. Steinbrenner, there would be no Yankee team.

 

Then Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra came out to help hand out the rings. Manager Joe Girardi also helped distribute the rings and he congratulated each player as they accepted their prize. One by one, every Yankee from last year’s team was called out to get their ring.

 

Really the only players who were missing were Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera. Jerry Hairston, Jr. (although no longer with the team) was in the ballpark to get his ring. As was Hideki Matsui, the MVP of the ’09 World Series who is now a member of the Angels.

 

They saved Matsui’s introduction for last, and he received a humungous, deafening ovation. I think every Yankee fan recognized Matsui’s hard work and dedication over the seven years he played in the Bronx. I know he will always be a Yankee in my heart.

 

group hug! 


  

When the ceremony was ready to conclude, the whole team ran in and showed Matsui a lot of love; the team got together one last time and embraced for a group hug. The hug almost brought a tear to my eye, because I know how close the 2009 team was.

 

I didn’t realize until I got home how they had tricked Matsui. Girardi handed him a bootleg ring and later during the Opening Day ceremony ran the real ring over to him. Matsui laughed and I could see his Angel teammates also teasing him for it.

 

A little playful humor now and then is relished by the best teams, I guess.

 

And speaking about the Opening Day ceremony: once again, overwhelming. They called the Angels out of their dugout and they all lined up along the third baseline. The Yankees lined up on the first baseline, and cadets from West Point stood in center field to unfurl the American flag. Not long after the anthem ended, two enormous jets flew over Yankee Stadium.

 

USA! 


  

Those fighter jets were LOUD! When I tell you they were loud, they were LOUD! The ground literally shook as they flew over the new house. And once again, it was quite a sight to behold. My only word for it: “Amazing.”

 

 


LOUD!!!!!!! 

After the anthem and beautiful aerial presentation, Bernie Williams, the great former center fielder, tossed out the honorable first pitch. Talk about an ovation! Williams received a rousing hand from us Yankee faithful, but it somewhat shocked us how he bounced the pitch. Being a former All-Star center fielder, you would think Williams would hit home plate! He missed, much to the surprise of the crowd. The gentleman standing next to me yelled, “Oh, come on Bernie! You gotta hit the glove!”

 

It’s Ok, Bernie. I still love you.

 

After the Yankees were finished warming up and all pre-game ceremonies were over, it was time to, as they say, play ball! Yankees vs. Angels.

 

The Game

 


NJ homered for the Yankees' first run 


  

The Yankees struck first in the bottom of the first. Designated hitter Nick Johnson blasted a solo home run to right field, a shot that (as I understand) landed right next to Bald Vinny–the legendary Bleacher Creature who starts the famous Yankee “roll call” at the beginning of each home game.

 

Unfortunately I was on line for food when this happened, but I heard the crowd roar and got into a spot just in time to see Johnson cross home plate. In any event it was the first of many home runs the Yankees will hit in their house in 2010.

 

As Andy Pettitte worked brilliantly through the first three innings, the Yankees held a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the frame. The Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, stepped up to the plate and crushed a solo home to right field, his first of the year.

 

It really is amazing how many games I have been to that have featured a home run by Jeter. It seems every game I get out to, he hits a home run. I can think of at least five games off the top of my head in which Jeter has homered. Maybe I bring some kind of luck to him, who knows.

 

 
touch 'em all, Jeter! 

 

In any event, 2-0 Yankees at the end of three innings of play.

 

One of the more special moments during the day was Matsui’s first at-bat. The former beloved Yankee received yet another rousing ovation from the fans while he stepped into the batter’s box. Pettitte respectfully tipped his cap and stepped off the mound and allowed his former teammate to soak up the moment.

 

Matsui removed his helmet and acknowledged the fans who once called him a hero. Unfortunately for the 2009 World Series MVP, the Yankees were not very kind to him in terms of his day at the plate. He was 0-for-5 on the day with a strikeout.

 


 
Hideki Matsui was 0-for-5   

 

The Yankees tacked on three more runs before the end of the sixth inning. Jeter was at it again in the fourth, reaching on an infield single that scored Curtis Granderson. In the sixth, Alex Rodriguez reached on yet another infield single, which brought home Johnson and Nick Swisher.

 

5-0, all Yankees at the end of six innings. It was looking good for us.

 

That is, until Kendry Morales stepped up in the top of the eighth. The Angels’ first baseman smashed a long, solo home run into the second deck in right field, putting the Angels on the board, 5-1.  

 

The Yankees got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth, both of them proving to be the difference in the game. Jorge Posada doubled to score Johnson and Granderson singled to score Robinson Cano, giving the Yankees a 7-1 edge.

 

Posada’s double put him ahead of Mantle on the all-time Yankee doubles list.

 

You would think with a 7-1 lead heading into the ninth inning everything would be safe and secure. Well, think again. Feeling that the game was practically over, my cousins and I watched the end of the game from the concourse on the first base side.

 

And we received a pleasant surprise followed by a not-so-pleasant surprise, followed by a happy ending.

 

The End

 


closer view after the seat upgrade!!! 


  

Right before the ninth inning began, two gentleman sitting in the field box seats decided to leave. One of them tapped me on the shoulder and handed me his tickets.

 

“Here you go,” he said. “You guys can watch the end from the field level seats.”

 

“WOW!” I exclaimed. “Thank you very much!”

 

“Don’t mention it,” he replied.

 

How awesome is that?! You never really see that type of chivalry anymore. A man, not knowing who I was, just gave up his seats to me, a stranger. Granted, the game was almost over, it was still a very noble gesture and overall a kind act.

 

Who says New Yorkers are mean-spirited?

 

In any event my cousins and I, now sitting in comfortable, padded box seats, watched David Robertson surrender hit after walk after hit, eventually loading the bases. I still thought the Yankees were in great shape, even if they only gave up a run or two.

 

To our dismay, former Yankee Abreu stepped up and slaughtered a grand slam home run to left field, something he specialized in when he played for the Yankees. I will always like Abreu; in my mind he was the best Yankee right fielder since Paul O’Neill. But yesterday…I did not like him. He burned us pretty bad.

 

 
Bobby Abreu hit a grand slam! 

 

I mean, Abreu’s home run was a real shot. I’m talking way back into the left field seats.

 

Now with the score at 7-5 and a save situation in place, Girardi was prompted to bring in Mariano Rivera. The great Rivera struck Torii Hunter out swinging and then got his former teammate Matsui to pop out to end the game.

 

Enter Sandman. 


  

Ballgame over. Yankees win. THEEEEE Yankees win!

 

We stayed and watched the Yankees take congratulations and improve their record to 5-2.

 


 
taking congrats.    

 

We exited the ballpark and once again looked at the demolished old stadium. Thomas looked at it once more, and looking at it again, I could not help but think of all the games his father took us to. I think a part of us went down with that stadium.

 

But then we glanced back at the new stadium and thought about the days’ events. The Yankees had just won and we had just witnessed history; the first ring ceremony in the new Stadium, a batting practice foul ball, a great game, a seat upgrade from a gracious fan and a Yankee win.

 

And not only that, a day spent with my friends and family.

 

I could not have asked for anything better. It was just a day where nothing went wrong. I can truly say that I felt like the luckiest man on the face of the earth yesterday.

 

And Uncle John: I know you were there with us. We miss you.

 

Keep smiling down on us and the Yankees.

 


 
Yankees win!!  

First W of 2010

 

 

The Yankees picked up their first win this year on Tuesday night

 

The Sunday night heartbreaker seems like a lifetime ago. The New York Yankees got their first loss of the 2010 season out of the way Sunday night but bounced back and picked up their first win Tuesday night over the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4.

 

It feels great knowing the Bombers won’t be 0-8 vs. Boston this year.

 

There were so many things going on tonight, so I will just dive right into the analysis.

 

 


A.J. pitched five innings on Tuesday at Boston 

·       A.J. Burnett  

 

It wasn’t clear which version of A.J. Burnett showed up tonight. In the first inning, the lanky righty gave up a run which wasn’t really his fault. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a sloppy defensive play in the outfield and eventually scored.

 

Really the only hitter who feasted off Burnett tonight was Victor Martinez. The Boston catcher was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs against the Yankee starter.

 

The final line for Burnett: five innings, four runs (only three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and five Ks. If you ask me, his line was mediocre. Not good, but could have been much worse. For his first start he didn’t pitch poorly.

 

The best pitch he threw all night had to be a disgusting breaking ball he got Kevin Youkilis looking on. Burnett introduced the Boston first baseman to his uncle Charlie!

 

Also, he and Jorge Posada looked to be on the same page. We need that!

 

His next start will most likely come Sunday in Tampa against the Rays.

 

 


Fist pump. 

·       The Bullpen

 

What a difference two days make! The Yankee relievers came ready to play tonight. Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson, Damaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera: four innings, two hits, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts.

 

A huge, HUGE improvement over Sunday night!

 

Aceves looked unbelievably good. He can just come into a game and shut the hitters down. He tossed two scoreless innings and for his efforts he picked up the win.

 

And how about Chamberlain? He turned back the clock! His outing was 2007-esque.

 

The big reliever entered the game in the eighth inning with one out and sat down Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew on strikes. But the real story was his velocity. He was lighting up the speed gun at 96-98 mph.

 

First Pumps for everybody!

 

And in the ninth–who else but Rivera. He slammed the door for the first time this year and the 527th time in his career. I think he will get a ton of saves this year.

 

 


NJ and Robbie had RBIs tonight 

·       Nick Johnson and Robinson Cano

 

Both of these guys had pretty big nights.

 

Nick Johnson was 0-for-2 but walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. He also took one for the team and was hit by a pitch. He is a patient hitter and has shown that he can reach base, but I tend to worry about his health. Hopefully he doesn’t get plunked anymore this year.

 

And then there’s Robinson Cano.

 

The young second baseman was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored, and two RBIs. He put on a hitting show tonight and he’s just going to keep getting better. If he continues to play this way for the rest of the year, he may hit 30 home runs and drive in 120 runs.

 

I have so much faith in Cano. Every time I watch him, it’s like he gets better and better. His solo home run in the ninth gave the Yanks a 6-4 cushion to put Boston away.

 

  • Other Notes

 

–Alex Rodriguez drove in a run with an RBI double and Mark Teixeira grounded into a force out which scored Curtis Granderson.

 

–Nick Swisher knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI double in the top of the second. Nick at Nite! 

 

–I didn’t really get great vibes from Marcus Thames tonight. In the first inning, he missed a ball in left field which could have been easily caught by Brett Gardner…or Johnny Damon…

 

Thames only started because he supposedly “wears out” left-handed pitching and Jon Lester (a lefty) was on the mound for the Red Sox. Well, Thames only had 0 hits tonight. Way to wear ’em out.

 

–Derek Jeter made two awesome plays on defense tonight. I’d like to know who the moron was who said his range has gone down. He is ageless.

 

–The Yankees committed three errors tonight. Boston committed one, but it was a big one–it kept the eighth inning alive for Johnson to draw the bases-loaded walk.

 

–Hideki Okajima was the Boston pitcher who walked in Johnson with the bases chucked. They call him “Okey Dok” in Boston. Okey Dok, thank you for your lack of control.

 

–Tomorrow night the rubber game against Boston will be played. Andy Pettitte will make the start against John Lackey.

 

–The Yankees are off Thursday then open up a three-day weekend series in Tampa Bay.

 

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

With one week and one day left of spring training baseball, the Yankees are starting to get into regular season form. Saturday afternoon the Bronx Bombers beat the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland by a score of 2-1.

 

Here’s what I made of it…

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 


Dr. Jekyll-Burnett came to play today 

Coming into this game A.J. Burnett was 0-1 this spring, not exactly setting the Yankees on fire. I recently wrote a blog about Burnett, calling out his inconsistency and how everyone compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season.

 

Today, he was “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett.”

 

The Yanks’ number two man tossed 91 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He only gave up three hits, struck out two, and issued three walks. Not a bad day at the office for Burnett and it was a good sign, considering the Tigers played most of their regulars.

 

Manager Joe Girardi liked what he saw from Burnett today too; the skipper said he was “mixing his pitches, using the fastball more effectively, and was demonstrating better control than his last few starts.”

 

Could not have said it better myself. Burnett was also in a good rhythm with Jorge Posada, who was catching him this afternoon. Many people have made issues about the Burnett-Posada battery in the past, but if they work together as nicely as they did today there won’t be many problems.

 

Overall, Burnett looked great. A smooth and effortless delivery, a good fastball, a great breaking pitch, and everything was working for him. Let’s just hope he pitches like this for the better part of the upcoming season.

 

Burnett will have one more start this spring before April 6–his first regular season start in Boston vs. the Red Sox.

 

Former Teams

 

 


Each player who lent a hand in scoring today played for the other team last year 

What was interesting about this game was the scoring. The Yankees scored two runs, both of which were brought on by former Tigers. The Tigers plated one run, which was scored by a former Yankee.

 

In the top of the first, Curtis Granderson knocked in Posada with a two-out RBI single. Of course Granderson played for the Tigers last season, as did Marcus Thames.

 

With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, Thames took Tigers’ starter Nate Robertson deep to left for a long solo home run, a blast that gave the Yankees the lead they would not relinquish.

 

I think Thames needed that home run, considering the abysmal spring he is having. Heading into that at-bat, he was only averaging .114 at the plate. Yikes!

 

As for the Tigers, former Yank Johnny Damon scored in the bottom of the third on an RBI single off the bat of Magglio Ordonez. After Damon hit a two-out double Ordonez drove him in from second with a base hit to right field. I have to give credit to Randy Winn, who nearly made a spectacular outfield assist.

 

Damon just beat the throw to home plate, which was right on the money. A solid effort and a great throw by Winn, but the former Yankee was called safe at home.

 

It was just a strange day in terms of the scoring. Not many runs and a former player on each team lent a hand in each run. Crazy!

 

Joba Chamberlain

 


Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the 'pen 

 

As announced on Thursday, Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the bullpen. Phil Hughes won the fifth starting pitcher’s spot, much to the dismay of many people including Chamberlain.

 

A good friend of mine called me almost immediately after the Yankees made the decision. I answered my phone and he literally went off about how angry he was how Hughes was named the fifth starter over Chamberlain. His argument was that the Yanks wasted time with the “Joba Rules” and how they treated him last year.

 

Think about it: they put Chamberlain on six days rest and then had him go out and throw 4 1/3 innings in some instances. They put him through all of that just to make him a reliever again? My friend said,

 

“He may not have been Roy Halladay right off the bat, but Rome was not built in a day.”

 

Excellent point. Chamberlain is only 24 years old. If he was 34 years old and not performing at a high level as a starter, then I would say leave him in the bullpen.

 

I think many people forget what he did in July 25, 2008 against the Red Sox at Fenway. Chamberlain started the game and tossed seven shutout innings against the BoSox, beating the ace of the Red Sox staff, Josh Beckett. Not only did he pick up the win in that game, he only allowed three hits and fanned nine batters.

 

The capability and talent is there. He just needs a chance to put it to use.

 

Chamberlain said Hughes did a better job during spring training and earned the spot, but he also said he was disappointed. He has a right to feel that way. Everyone was expecting him to be the fifth guy and I can tell he wanted to be. But I think one thing has to be made clear:

 

Even though Hughes is starting the year in the rotation, it doesn’t mean Chamberlain won’t be there. If Hughes struggles (the way he has in the past as a starter) Chamberlain could very well be plugged into that spot and get some starts. Nothing is set in stone; it just means Hughes is starting the year in the rotation!

 

Maybe everything will work out fine. Perhaps Hughes will find his niche in the rotation while Chamberlain finds his in the ‘pen. Just as he has proven to be a dominant starter, Chamberlain can be just as deadly as a reliever.

 

After all, he did pitch a scoreless ninth inning today and pick up a save.

 

Other Notes:

 

 


Spring Training 

–The Tigers’ spring training field is named “Joker Marchant Stadium.” Detroit officially wins the award for silliest Stadium name. Ever.

 

–David Robertson took over for Burnett and got out of the sixth inning. The more I watch him, the more I like him. He is great!

 

–Chad Gaudin was released by the Yankees. He made seven starts for the Bronx Bombers last year and the Yanks were 7-0 in those games. I hope he finds a new team, he can really help a ball club the way he helped the Yankees.  

 

–Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano did not make the trip over to Lakeland today.

 

–Nick Johnson played first base this afternoon. I think it’s good he can play the field, but unfortunately he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate. He did draw a walk though.

 

–As mentioned before, Randy Winn almost made a great outfield assist. Even though he missed it, he still did a great job in right field. He made some nice catches and even doubled up a runner at first after an awesome snag. I’ll give him a lot of credit–he won some battles with the sun and wind today!

 

–The Tigers have a minor leaguer named Michael Rockett. Deik Scram, Michael Rockett…Jeesh, the Tigers are chuck full of minor leaguers with funny names!

 

–Chan Ho Park’s nickname is “Chop.” Cool. Even cooler, he worked his way out of a 1st and 3rd, one-out jam in the eighth inning.

 

–Joel Zumaya of the Tigers struck out the side in the sixth inning. He whiffed Granderson, Winn, and Ramiro Pena. I am officially scared of him again. He has been practically a non-factor these past two seasons, but his fastball hit 99 mph on the speed gun and his curve ball was NASTY. I am not looking forward to facing him this year.

 

–During the telecast, Michael Kay and Tino Martinez had a discussion about the pies to the face after a walk-off win. Kay said the dynasty teams were “very conservative” and that Paul O’Neill (at first) did not like the pies after the walk-off wins.

 

Martinez however liked them and said the team did not look like they were having fun the last five-six years. “The pies loosened them up,” Martinez elegantly stated.

I have to side with favorite player during the dynasty (Martinez) and say he was right.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees take on the Tigers yet again, only this time they will play in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field.   

Yankees vs. Tigers: Thoughts and Notes

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!

 

CC Sabathia

 

 


CC Sabathia fanned 8 Tigers this afternoon 

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.

 

Alex Rodriguez

 

 


Alex Rodriguez hit a TITANIC homer today!!! 

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.

 

Derek Jeter

 

 


Derek Jeter was 1-for-3 with two RBIs vs. Detroit 

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.

 

Mariano Rivera

 

 


Mariano Rivera gave up no runs & threw just 10 pitches Friday 

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.

 

 

Other Notes

 

 


Spring Training 

–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.

 

–Tomorrow the Yankees will play the Houston Astros, Sunday the Tigers again, and then Monday they travel to Clearwater to play Philadelphia Phillies.

 

Final Thought:

 

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…


Hello dum-dum!!

Yankees vs. Pirates: Thoughts and Notes

It was not a good day to be a Yankee. In another exhibition from “The Boss” on Tuesday, the Yankees dropped a 12-7 decision to the Pirates.

 

Yes, you heard right. The Yankees lost to the Pirates. I was surprised, not just because the Yanks started most of their regulars and were beaten, but because just yesterday they had shutout the Bucs at their camp.

 

My thoughts…

 

 


CC Sabathia was roughed up Tuesday afternoon 

·       CC Sabathia

 

The big man did not have it today.

 

CC Sabathia tossed 2 1/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two. It had been noted before the game that Joe Girardi wanted his ace to pitch at least three innings and top out somewhere around 50 pitches. He tossed 53 pitches to be exact, but obviously did not make it out of the third frame.

 

The worst pitch Sabathia threw today was a fastball, middle-in that Garrett Jones crushed for a three-run homer in the first inning. The first inning–mind you–that Sabathia gave up four straight hits and runs before getting anyone out. In fact, the Pirates sent eight batters to the plate in the first.

 

Not exactly a banner day for Sabathia, if I may say.

 

It seemed to me that he had some delivery issues. Everyone is familiar with Sabathia’s windup, hesitation, and release of the ball. He didn’t seem to be hesitating as he usually does and I think that threw him off today. Sabathia even said after the outing that he was “collapsing his back side” which caused some problems in his mechanics.

 

The delivery problem may have been something that was addressed after the first inning, because after the rough first, Sabathia came out and dazzled in the second inning. He was able to retire the side in order, but in the third ran into more trouble and was pulled.

 

When it comes to a pitcher of Sabathia’s caliber, I tend not to worry so much. Something tells me he won’t have too many days like today. When Opening Day rolls around, I’m confident he’ll be the same pitcher we saw last year. I just hope he doesn’t start slow, which historically he has.

 

Either way, he’ll be fine. I believe in CC Sabathia.

 

Nick Johnson smacked two homers today 

 

·       Nick Johnson

 

OK, I know I just wrote about Nick Johnson yesterday (and sort of bashed him) but he shut me up today. The Yanks’ new/old designated hitter had two at-bats this afternoon.

 

And in both at-bats, he homered.

 

Both shots were quite impressive, too. The first of Johnson’s two home runs came in the first inning. He took a fastball deep to right-center field for a solo job. In the third inning he one-upped himself with a moon shot over the right field wall, another solo blast.

 

Johnson would have had three at-bats today, but Girardi pinch-hit for him in the fourth. The Yankee skipper said that Johnson is going to play tomorrow and he wants to keep him healthy, so he took him out of the game.

 

Again, it all goes back to Johnson staying healthy and the question of whether or not he can. He has already sustained a minor injury this spring. He has a history of injuries. Every analyst in the baseball world questions him every year. We’ll have to wait until the season begins and moves to really find out if he can stay healthy, that’s really the bottom line.

 

I’ll tell you one thing, however; those two homers today looked awfully nice. If he does stay healthy and he swings like he did today, it will mean only good things for the Bronx Bombers.

 

Randy Winn must prove he is worthy of the pinstripes 

 

·       Randy Winn

 

Yesterday Marcus Thames started in left field and did not impress anyone. He was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Talk about a bad day!

 

Well Randy Winn started in left today and wasn’t much better.

 

In two at-bats today, Winn was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. He did score a run, but he also left three runners on base. His defense was not stellar either, as he missed a fly ball in left field sliding and missing the catch.

 

So far none of the left fielders have impressed me.

 

Winn hasn’t gotten much playing time this spring. I think today was really his day to showcase his stuff and he did not do it, which is unfortunate for him. He didn’t have the best numbers last year, hitting only two homers and averaging .262 at the plate.

 

Maybe the Yankees signed him in hopes of a bounce-back type year, but he looks so out of place. I feel for him because it was mentioned today that he had a rough time off the field last year. Winn’s father-in-law died and apparently that hit him hard (as it would anybody) so he did not have the best year in ’09.

 

I can only hope at this point that he comes back strong. It was only one game, but he has to earn that spot in left field. Same goes for Thames and Jamie Hoffman, who are vying for that position.

 

Brett Gardner would be the logical choice (and probably will be) the Opening Day left fielder. Yet that final roster spot has to be filled and one of these players must show off what they can do. And collectively, they all need to do better. They looked very sloppy the last two games.

 

 

 


Spring Training 

·       Other Notes

 

–Francisco Cervelli will play again Friday. It turns out he has sustained three concussions in his young career. He needs to be careful. Concussions are nothing to take lightly. They have ended many young players’ careers in almost every sport.

 

–Royce Ring looked great in the fifth inning, setting the side down in order while recording a strikeout in the frame. He might not make the Opening Day roster, but if anything were to happen to one of the relievers, he would make a good case to fill in.

 

–Curtis Granderson continued to struggle up until his final at-bat today. He struck out looking and grounded out before wrapping a leadoff triple in the fifth. Hope we see more of this.

 

–Romulo Sanchez tossed a perfect sixth inning, lighting up the speed gun at 96 mph. It was nice to see one of the Yankee prospects throwing so hard.

 

–Hector Noesi pitched today. When he came on in relief the other day I thought he was Edwar Ramirez! They look like the same guy.

 

–Speaking of Ramirez, he was traded to the Texas Rangers for cash today. We’ll all miss “Flaco.” (If you didn’t know, “flaco” means “skinny” or “thin” in Spanish. This was Ramirez’s nickname in the Yankee clubhouse)

 

–Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira did not start today. Both had the day off.

 

–Nick Swisher had an RBI single and a walk today. He is hitting very well so far!

 

–Jorge Posada was 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored. That’s a good sign.

 

–Grapefruit League play resumes Wednesday, as the Yankees will travel to the Detroit Tigers’ camp for an exhibition tomorrow afternoon. Thursday night the Yankees come back home to host the Atlanta Braves. It’ll be nice to see Melky Cabrera again.