I’m not sure what’s worse…being 0-8 vs. the Red Sox or losing 2 out of 3 games to the worst team in baseball. The series against the Nationals was pretty bad, but the Yankees recovered from it quite nicely, defeating the Marlins, 5-1. Playing in front of a crowd that was mostly Yankees fans who had traveled to Miami, Andy Pettitte pitched extremely well, giving up just 1 run (a home run to Cody Ross) on 3 hits, with 1 strikeout in 7 innings. Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko combined for 2 hitless, scoreless innings. Derek Jeter, Angel Berroa (playing for for the slumping Alex Rodriguez), Nick Swisher, and even Andy Pettitte hit doubles for the Yankees. There’s nothing like an American League pitcher getting a hit (a double, no less) to bump up the fun factor of interleague play! And Pettitte’s double resulted in an RBI, so he helped his own cause. It’s a good thing that the Yankees were able to score those 5 runs and limit the Marlins to just 1 run, because they left 24 runners on base.
Although the Yankees had not performed will in their last two interleaugue series against young, unfamiliar pitchers, they redeemed themselves against Sean West, who lasted just 4 innings while giving up all 5 of the Yankees runs on 10 hits. Like Pettitte, he had 7 strikeouts.
Good decision by Joe Girardi to bench Alex Rodriguez. Let’s hope he comes back stronger, with a renewed ability to actually get some hits.
Good job, Yankees!
Current AL East Standings:
W L Pct GB
Boston Red Sox 40 27 .597 —
New York Yankees 38 29 .567 2.0
Toronto Blue Jays 37 32 .536 4.0
Tampa Bay Rays 35 34 .507 6.0
Baltimore Orioles 30 37 .448 10.0
Is interleague play really necessary anymore? In my opinion, the novelty has worn off. It was fun at first, but it’s just not as interesting as it initially was. This weekend, in particular — with some of the so-called “rivalries” games — was just…well, boring. Was anyone other than the fans of the respective teams really interested in the result of the series between the last place Nationals and the last place Orioles, or the result of the series between the last place A’s and the next-to-last place Diamondbacks? Of course, last place teams in each league do play other last place teams within their own leagues, but those aren’t hyped the way interleague series are hyped.
Another reason why I’m no longer a big fan of interleague play is because it creates a major, and possibly dangerous, disadvantage for AL teams when they play in NL ballparks. Thanks to the lack of a DH in the AL, pitchers don’t normally have to bat, and therefore aren’t used to running the bases. At best, they risk tiring sooner than they normally would; at worst, they risk injury. Remember, it was during interleague play last year when Chien-Ming Wang’s season ended due to a foot injury suffered while running the bases.
Fans generally still seem to enjoy interleague play, as evidenced by the fact that attendence rises for it. I googled “interleague play” tonight out of curiosity, and I found an article showing that ballplayers apparently are far less fond of interleague play than fans. According to Jayson Stark at ESPN.com:
Players we surveyed this week told Rumblings they would estimate the number of players who dislike interleague play is somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-75 percent.
Stark mentions several of the players’ complaints regarding interleague play, most of which make a lot of sense, IMO.
One suggestion made by a ballplayer caught my attention in that ESPN.com article.
Phillies pitcher Chad Durbin proposed an idea we’ve campaigned for forever: “Use the visiting team’s league rules,” he said. “Show the fans something unique.”
I think that’s pretty interesting. It would definitely be unique.
What do you think? Do you still find interleague play fun and/or interesting?
Yankees vs. Phillies
The home run total at the Bronx Bandbox increased by 12 during the weekend interleague series between the Yankees and the Phillies — 6 by each team — as the Yankees lost 2 of 3 games to the Phillies. There have been 87 home runs already at Yankee Stadium, and it’s not even at the end of May. Just imagine how the home runs will be flying out of the park once the temperature and humidity go up later in the season!
Friday: the Yankees lost, 7-3, in a game that included a total of 7 home runs. The testosterone level on the field skyrocketed on the field in the 1st inning when Brett Myers threw a pitch behind Derek Jeter, in obvious retaliation after A.J. Burnett hit Chase Utley in the shoulder. The plate umpire then warned both dugouts. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous to throw a pitch at a batter. If you hit him, you give the opposing team a baserunner, and you risk injuring him. Why not just have the pitcher and hitter drop their pants, whip it out to see which one is bigger, and then get on with the game.
Chien-Ming Wang was activated before the game, replaced Burnett in the 7th inning. He threw 51 pitches, giving up 2 runs (including a home run) on 6 hits. His pitches had more velocity, but his location was off a bit. Maybe he’s just rusty?
Saturday: the Yankees were victorious in a 5-4 come from behind win. Those 9th inning comebacks seem to be becoming a Yankees trademark this season. Oh, and “only” 4 home runs were hit in that game.
Sunday: the Yankees lost, 4-3, in 11 innings, before a crowd of 46,986. That’s the largest Yankee Stadium crowd since opening day. Melky Cabrera did his best to be the hero for the second night in a row, hitting a game-tying single in the 9th inning. But it wasn’t meant to be…no wild celebration for the Yankees after this game. CC Sabathia pitched very well, allowing just 3 runs on 9 hits over 8 innings. But with two outs and the score tied in the 11th inning, Brett Tomko walked Chase Utley, and after Utley stole second, Carlos Ruiz doubled to score Utley. The Yankees were unable to score in the bottom of the 11th.
Interleague play resumes for the Yankees on June 12th, vs. the Mets at Yankee Stadium.
Nationals vs. Orioles
The Battle of the Beltways — i.e., the interleague series between the Nationals and the Orioles — wasn’t quite as much of a snoozer as I thought it would be. Yes, both teams stink, and the games probably held very little interest for anyone other than Nats or O’s fans. But the Nationals starting pitchers had very good games on Friday and Saturday, although the usually prolific offense fell asleep on those nights in losses to the Orioles. However, the offense woke up in time to bail out a less than spectacular effort from Sunday’s starter to prevent a sweep.
Friday: the Nationals lost, 4-2 in 12 innings. Jordan Zimmermann had the longest start of his young career, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits over 7 innings. Zimm2 walked 1, struck out 7, and gave up a home run. But the Nationals offense took the night off, scoring just 2 runs (on Ryan Zimmerman’s 4th inning homer, with Nick Johnson on 1st). It would be easy to blame the bullpen again for this loss…but if the offense had not fallen asleep, the game’s outcome might have been different.
Saturday: I was at this game, a 2-1 loss, getting to see Ross Detweiler for myself. He did not disappoint, with a 6 inning, 1 hit and 1 run performance. Justin Maxwell sparkled on defense with an outstanding catch above and over the wall in centerfield, robbing Brian Roberts of a home run. Julian Tavarez gave up a run in the 7th to give the Orioles a lead that they never lost. The Nats’ normally porous bullpen prevented the Orioles from scoring additional runs, but for the second night in a row, the Nationals offense took the night off. Another game…another loss. Ho hum.
Sunday: I was at this game as well, an 8-5 victory to avoid the sweep. Shairon Martis did not have his A-game, but his offense finally woke up and let him off the hook. His defense helped him out as well…in particular, a leaping catch in front of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field by Austin Kearns, robbing Nick Markakis of a hit in the first inning. Martis also helped himself out with an RBI single in the 5th inning, scoring Wil Nieves to tie the score at 3. Adam Dunn got it done with 2 homers, including a grand slam in the 7th inning after the Orioles intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to get to Dunn. Anderson Hernandez added to the defensive highlights with a spectacular diving catch of a Brian Roberts line drive in the 8th inning. Wonder of wonders, Ron Villone, Joe Beimel, and Joel Hanrahan combined to shut down the Orioles over the last 3 innings — no hits, no walks, no runs. Amazing!!
Interleague play resumes for the Nationals on June 12th at Tampa Bay.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again…I am not a typical Yankee fan by any means, and I truly enjoy a Yankees victory over the Orioles more than a Yankees victory over the Red Sox. Tonight, the Yankees made me very happy by routing the Orioles, 9-1, for their 7th straight win. CC Sabathia’s third start of the season vs. the Orioles wasn’t quite as dominating as his second start (complete game shutout on May 8th), but it was still very good. The big fella pitched 7 strong innings, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits, with a walk and 7 strikeouts. Brian Bruney and Brett Tomko each pitched 1 perfect inning to close out the win.
Just as he did in his first game of the season, also against the Orioles, Alex Rodriguez had only one hit — a home run. This was the fourth straight game in which he hit a home run. Mark Teixeira also hit a home run. I guess he figured that since Orioles fans insist on booing him, he might as well give them a real reason to do so!
Orioles’ rookie pitcher Brad Bergesen had been wearing jersey number 64, but he changed his number ro 35 before the game. Not surprisingly, considering the way my mind works, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was any significance in the Orioles giving Bergesen the number 35 before the Yankees game; former Orioles and Yankees pitch Mike Mussina wore the number 35. (I doubt that there was any significance at all to this change…I think I’m just paranoid.)
All in all, and great game and a great win!
Now that the Orioles have come to Yankee Stadium, it will be interesting to see what happens on Thursday, when they will face Joba Chamberlain. Back on the 10th in Baltimore, Aubrey Huff hit a home run off of Chamberlain and set off a firestorm of criticism from Yankees fans when he pretty much mocked Joba Chamberlain’s post strikeout gesticulations as he ran the bases. Huff emphatically pumped his fist after rounding first base and pumped it even more emphatically after crossing home plate. I’ve seen Yankees fans comment in blogs and on message boards that Huff went over the line and was showing up Chamberlain. Apparently, Chamberlain’s enthusiastic post strikeout antics get on opponents’ nerves, so Huff seemed to decide that Chamberlain deserved a taste of his own medicine.
I think Huff is an idiot in general, but I must admit to being amused by (a) what he did, and (b) the fact that so many Yankees fans are so ticked off about it. While I do like Chamberlain’s enthusiasm as much as anyone, I can also understand why some players feel that he’s “showing up” the opposition when he does that stuff on the mound. I suspect that Huff’s fist pumps are something that a lot of other players would like to do…he just had the chutzpah to actually do it. Was Huff over the line? Yep. Was he trying to make a statement with what he did? You betcha. I do think that he (or a teammate) will pay for it with a fastball in the ribs at some point during this series. After all, these guys may be grown men, but they’re making a living playing a child’s game, and therefore often act like children.
I can’t help but wonder how Yankee fans would react if it was Josh Beckett rather than Joba Chamberlain who got so animated after his strikeouts, and if it was Nick Swisher who put on a Huff-like display following a HR off Beckett, I guarantee that most Yankee fans would be singing a different tune about it. I bet Swish would have gotten a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium! It’s OK for OUR GUY do this but it’s but not OK if YOUR GUY does it. Sports fans in general are pretty hypocritical that way…it’s really rather amusing.