I apologize to my readers — all 4 of you! — for being AWOL for more than a week. My roommate had surgery last Monday, so I’ve been visiting her most evenings. Between being busy at work and the stress of the hospital visits (hospitals creep me out), I just haven’t had the energy to post anything here.
To catch up a bit, since my last post, the Yankees have 5 wins and 3 losses. Some notable games:
The June 1st game vs. the Indians featured another attack of the midges, but the bugs didn’t bug starter Joba Chamberlain too much this time. The Yankees set a new MLB record of 18 error-free games, breaking the record that the Red Sox set in 2006, and they beat the Indians 5-2.
In the June 2nd game vs. the Rangers, there was an exceptional amount of testosterone flying through the air, after Mark Texeira was hit by pitches from Vicente Padilla in the 2nd and 4th innings. Tex then slid into Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus at 2nd base in the 4th. Inspired by Tex’s display of manliness, the Yankees scored 7 runs in that inning. A.J. Burnett sent a message of his own in the 5th inning, throwing a pitch over the head of Nelson Cruz. That display of testosterone drew a warning from the home plate umpire to both dugouts. It also drew a fine, as well as a 6 game suspension two days later. (Padilla was also fined.) Burnett’s appeal of the fine will allow him to play until a hearing takes place.
Tex’s comments about being hit by those pitches:
“There’s really no reason for it in baseball. You know, if you can’t get a guy out, don’t hit him. You know, if you don’t want to pitch to a guy, then, you know, put four fingers out there and walk him,” Teixeira said.
I agree, Tex. As I mentioned here, I think the pitcher and hitter should just drop their pants, let everyone see who is bigger, and then tuck it back in and get on with the game.
Unfortunately, the Yankees errorless innings streak ended in this game. Oh well, at least they set a new record and won the game, 12-3.
The June 4th game vs. the Rangers featured Chien-Ming Wang’s return to the starting rotation. Unfortunately, he was not particularly effective, giving up 5 runs on 7 hits, including a home run, in 4.2 innings. But the Yankees rallied in the 8th inning, overcoming a 5-1 deficit to win the game, 8-6.
In the June 5th game vs. the Rays, Mariano Rivera blew his first save of the season and got his second loss, when Joe Dillon broke a 5-5 tie with a single in the 9th inning. The Rays scored 4 runs (3 earned) off Rivera in the 9th for the win.
I watched the Yankees beat the Rays tonight (Monday), 5-3. Andy Pettitte got the win, Mariano Rivera got the save; it was the 59th time the two have combined for a win and a save. Pettitte and Rivera are the all-time MLB winner-closer combo leaders, with two more wins/saves than Oakland’s Bob Welch and Dennis Eckersley.
Since my last blog post here, the Nationals have 5 losses and 2 wins. It’s really quite astonishing that they have those two wins in 7 games! Some notable games:
On June 2nd, the Nationals had a surprising 10-6 win against the Giants and reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum. The Giants were leading 5-2 when the rally began with the Nats scoring 2 runs at the bottom of the 6th. The Nats offense exploded for 6 runs in the 8th inning. Joel
Suckrahan Hanrahan gave up a run in the 9th inning, but managed to finish the inning and the game without any further damage. Prior to that win, the Nationals had lost 6 straight games.
On June 3rd, the Giants’ Randy Johnson was supposed to be going for his 300th career win, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. The start of the game was delayed for over 3-1/2 hours as MLB hoped the game could be played and history could be made. Now, I understand the historical significance of the game, with Stretch trying for career win #300. But come on… a 3-1/2 hour delay?! That’s ridiculous!! At 10:46, the game was finally postponed and rescheduled for the following evening.
Stretch did get his 300th win on the 4th, in the first game of a doubleheader, as the Giants beat the Nats 5-1. Ironically, the start of this game was also delayed by about an hour because of rain. Too bad so few people actually saw this historic game; attendance was so low that the attendance stats weren’t even listed in the box score. Perhaps the 16,787 attendance figure for the second game was actually a combination of attendance for both games? Anyway, some of the Nationals commentators, members of the media, and Nats fans have fussed about a called strike against Adam Dunn on a 3-2 count to end the 8th inning, which preserved the Giants 2-1 lead with the bases loaded. The call was a bad one — it was definitely NOT a strike — but hey, those are the breaks. Lots of bad calls have been made against the Nationals this season…and against the 29 other MLB teams as well. Bad calls happen. I saw comments on one particular Nats message board which hinted that the umpire had intentionally called a strike to prevent a run from being walked in to tie the game…that, of course, would have given Stretch a no-decision. OK, so in a split second, when the pitch is thrown and caught, the umpire was thinking, “If I call this a ball, then a run will score, and that means that Randy Johnson will end up with a no-decision instead of getting his 300th win tonight, so I should call this a strike even though the pitch was a ball….” Riiiiiiiiight. [SARCASM] I’m sure that’s exactly what that umpire was thinking at that moment. [/SARCASM] This, of course, was the second time the Nationals were involved in a history-making game. In August of 2007, former Nats pitcher Mike Bacsik gave up Baroids Bonds’ 756th career home run.
After the Nats 3-1 loss to the Mets on June 5th, Joel Hanrahan went back to being Joel Suckrahan as far as I’m concerned. With the game tied at 1 in the 10th inning, Suckrahan gave up a single to Luis Castillo, a walk to Carlos Beltrán, and a double to David Wright which scored Castillo and Beltrán. And that was that. The loss caused Suckrahan to lose his job as the closer for the second time this season.
The June 6th game vs. the Mets was another surprising win for the Nationals. John Lannan pitched the first complete game of his career, allowing just 1 run and 4 hits in a 7-1 win. He even hit a single in the 5th inning and scored a run on Nick Johnson’s home run. Adam Dunn and Elijah Dukes also hit home runs in the game, which lasted exactly 2 hours.
The Nationals reverted back to their usual form on the 7th, losing to the Mets 7-0. Just more of the same suckitude.
At least the Nationals didn’t lose tonight…they didn’t play tonight…….
Phillies 9, Nationals 6
Once again, the Nationals took the early lead over the Phillies, when Josh Willingham and Alberto Gonzalez scored on a Wil Nieves double, and then Nieves scored on an Anderson Hernandez single. But Ryan Howard hit two home runs, including a grand slam, to lead the Phillies over the Nats. Shairon Martis got his first loss of the season, after a poor performance in which he surrendered 7 runs on 7 hits, including the 2 homers to Howard, in just 4 innings. Shockingly, the 6 Nationals relievers who followed Martis did not give up any earned runs; Mike MacDougal — recently called up from Triple A Syracuse — had two unearned runs thanks to an error from Anderson Hernandez. How ironic and frustrating that when the bullpen finally seems to be pitching a bit better, the starting pitching falls apart!
As if ANOTHER loss isn’t bad enough, it looks like Jesus Flores will be out for a lot longer than expected. He had been scheduled to return from the disabled list this weekend, but he has suffered a setback in his recovery from a shoulder injury. Jesus experienced some pain in his shoulder. His shoulder has been examined by the Nationals team physician, and he’ll be examined by orthopedist James Andrews on Monday. This does not sound good at all…I am worried.
Yankees 10, Indians 5
There were 4 home runs hit in this game…and it wasn’t even played at Yankee Stadium!
Jorge Posada (HIP HIP JORGE!) and Nick Swisher hit home runs for the Yankees, while Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo hit home runs for the Indians. Jorge had just one hit for the night, but he made it count!
CC Sabathia had a no-hitter going into the 5 inning against his former team. Choo broke up that no-no with a single in the bottom of the 5th. For the night, CC allowed 3 runs on five hits, with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts in 7 innings of work. Even without a no-hitter, it was a pretty good way to return to Cleveland. Good job, big guy!
Oh, and it should be noted that this was the 16th consecutive errorless game for the Yankees. That is one short of the MLB record set by the Red Sox in June 2006. That deserves another thumbs up……
Phillies 5, Nationals 4
Despite taking an early 1-0 lead over the Phillies on Josh Willingham’s solo home run in the second inning, the Nationals lost their 34th game of the season, 5-4, on Friday night. Ross Detweiler had a rough night, giving up 5 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings. To their credit (and my shock!), the 5 members of the Nationals bullpen who pitched in relief of Detweiler did not give up any additional runs. Too bad Detweiler himself happened to pitch like crap.
A lot of Nationals fans have complained in blogs and on message boards that manager Manny Acta doesn’t care about winning…that losing doesn’t seem to bother him. I’m not a mind-reader, so I can’t get into his head to know what he’s really thinking. I’m sure the losing bothers him…he just doesn’t show it. I wish he would show it…I wish he’d get angry now and then. I’m not talking about an Earl Weaver-esque rant or rampage, but just show some fire. Maybe the team might pick up on it and show some fire themselves.
Frankly, even if Acta does start to show some fire and sparks, it will be too little, too late. The time has come for Acta to go. I realize that it’s not Acta who is leaving those runners on base, giving up those walks and home runs, and committing those errors. But the entire team cannot be fired, so someone has to take the blame when a team performs as poorly as the Nationals have performed. Unfortunately, the manager is the one to take the blame.
The Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin on May 7th, when their record was 12-17. After they had played 29 games, the Nationals record was 10-19. The Rockies fired Clint Hurdle yesterday, when their record was 18-28. After they had played 46 games, the Nationals record was 13-33. I’m guessing that the only reason why Acta still has a job is because the Nationals still just have an acting GM. And I’ve heard talk on Nationals blogs and message boards that the Nats will not make a decision about their GM until after the June draft. So for the near future, we Nationals fans will just have to continue dealing with Acta’s mismanagement of his pitching staff and bullpen, and his seemingly lackidasical attitude towards all of the errors, poor pitching, and losing.
Yankees 3, Indians 1
On the other hand, the Yankees defeated the Indians yesterday, 3-1. The good news is that the win moved the Yankees into sole posession of first place in the AL East; the bad news is that Andy Pettitte was taken out of the game in the 6th inning because of a strained back. It doesn’t appear to be anything serious, and he’ll probably be able to make his next start. But Andy isn’t as young as he used to be, and those aches and pains do come along more easily and more often.
Jorge Posada came off the DL and re-joined the Yankees lineup. He was 2-3 with a walk and a strikeout. Hip hip Jorge!
Despite a 4-5 performance, including 4 RBI, from Johnny Damon, the Yankees lost to Tampa Bay. This is the second straight 2-game series sweep of the Yankees by and AL East opponent. The Yankees have now lost 5 straight games and have won only 1 game so far this month. Pitching continues to be a concern, not just with the bullpen now but also the starters. Andy Pettitte wasn’t particularly impressive tonight, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings, including 4 home runs. Even Mariano Rivera, who most Yankee fans believe could walk on water without getting his feet wet, gave up 2 home runs. Only the Cleveland Indians have a higher team ERA than the Yankees…even the Nationals have a better team ERA than the Yankees (5.26 vs. 5.77, though that could change after tonight’s game). As someone stated on my message board:
This is the toughest division in MLB and it’s possible to be out of the race by Memorial Day.
Indeed. If the Yankees don’t get their crap together soon, that may be their fate.
If you have read the first few entries in this blog, then you know that I became a Yankees fan when they signed Mike Mussina. Now that Moose is retired, I really thought I’d miss him a lot in this first season after his retirement…but I gotta say, I’m glad he’s not a part of this train wreck.
The Yankees beat the Indians, 7-3, despite being no-hit through the first 3 innings by former Yankee Carl Pavano (a/k/a “Glass A**” on my message board, because of his injury history). Pavano was surprisingly tough against his former team, allowing just one run off 4 hits in 6 innings. The Yankees finally managed to take the lead in the 7th inning, when Jorge Posada hit a 2 run home run, which was disputed by Indians manager Eric Wedge. Thanks to the addition of instant replay in baseball this year, there was an 8-1/2 minute delay to check the replay of Posada’s HR. Thank goodness there are limits on what can and cannot be disputed and reviewed by instant replay…otherwise games would last for 4 hours!
The Washington Nationals, on the other hand, were once again swept by the Florida Marlins, after the bullpen blew a save for the third game in a row on Sunday afternoon. At least this game didn’t go into extra innings, which is a good thing since I was there and had to pee. I sat with my legs crossed all through the 8th and 9th innings, hoping (a) for a miracle from the Nats in the bottom of the 9th, and (b) that I wouldn’t wet my pants. Unfortunately, there was no miracle win, and fortunately, I did make it to the rest room in time to prevent an embarrassing accident. *Note to self: don’t buy any more Diet Cokes in souvenir cups in the 6th inning.*
Additional Nationals news:
After assistant general manager Mike Rizzo stated that “the incompetence of the bullpen was drawn to a head today,” right-hander Saul Rivera and catcher Josh Bard were optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, and right-hander Steven Shell and left-hander Wil Ledezma were designated for assignment. The Nationals will purchase the contracts of pitching prospect Jordan Zimmermann and veteran right-hander Kip Wells from Syracuse, as well as recall right-handers Garrett Mock and Jason Bergmann from Syracuse. Zimmermann will make his first major league start against the Braves on Monday. I have tickets for that game, so I’m pumped about seeing Zimmermann. As for the other moves, I’m surprised to see Shell go and closer Joel Hanrahan stay. I think these moves are pretty much like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic…but something had to be done, so we’ll see what happens.
The one good thing that happened today is the signing of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman — the so-called “face of the franchise” — to a new long term contract, reportedly worth $45 million over five years. Although Zimmerman is my favorite Nationals player, I’m not entirely sure he deserves that much money just yet. He’s really only had one great year (2006). He hasn’t really lived up to his “face of the franchise” hype, either at the plate or in the clubhouse as a vocal leader. But he is, by far, the most popular Nationals player, judging from the number of #11 t-shirts and jerseys seen at Nationals Park. Although the money may be a little bit excessive, it’s good to know that the Lerner family, who owns the Nats, are willing to spend some money to keep one of their top players around for a while.
I won’t have much time to post anything here over the next couple of days. I’m going to the Nats/Braves games on Monday and Tuesday, assuming the rain doesn’t cause problems with the games. I must be really dedicated or just a glutton for punishment, attending three Nats games in a row. Ah, but the Nationals don’t consider me to be dedicated enough, so I guess I really am just a glutton for punishment!
First, the Nationals…then the Yankees…ugh…TODAY SUCKED!!!
Backing up to Thursday, the Nationals finally won their first game of the season that night, beating the Phillies 8-2 behind strong performances from starter Shairon Martis and the bullpen, as well as an offensive explosion that included 4 home runs. John Lannan followed Martis’ quality start with one of his own on Friday night, striking out 8 and holding the Marlins to just one run. The Nationals were leading 2-1 in the 9th inning, needing just two more outs to win their second game of the season. But Joel Hanrahan surrendered a game-tying home run, and then Saul Rivera gave up the game winning home run in the 10th. The Nats offense couldn’t respond, and the Marlins won.
Shellshocked and looking for revenge in today’s game, the Nationals scored 5 runs in the first inning and another run in the second, and they took a 6-3 lead into the 9th inning. After having lost 18 of the last 21 games to the Marlins, going back to last season, it looked like the Nationals were finally going to beat Florida, and get their second win of the season and second win in 3 games. And then Joel Hanrahan blew his second save in a row, allowing the Marlins to tie the score. Wil Ledezma surrendered a 3 run home run in the 11th inning, and the Nationals didn’t score after that. Two straight losses because of bullpen implosions…particularly disappointing, because the starting pitchers had performed so well in both losses.
As if a second consecutive extra innings loss after a blown save wasn’t bad enough, center fielder Roger Bernadina suffered a broken ankle while making a sweet catch at the wall in the 8th inning. That catch should have been a game-saving catch, and would have been if Hanrahan hadn’t blown the [expletive deleted] save! Bernadina will miss at least two months, possibly more.
Two losses in a row from blown saves…an outfielder with a broken ankle…a 1-9 record.
The Yankees avenged their home opener loss to Cleveland by beating the Tribe, 6-5, on Friday. Five Yankees hit home runs in that game, including Derek Jeter, who hit the game winner in the 8th inning. They had their first win in their new
palace stadium, and all looked well.
And then there was today’s game…a mind-bogglingly humiliating loss that made Thursday’s home opener loss look like a walk in the park by comparison. Chien-Ming Wang actually got through the first inning without giving up a run, which is something he had not done in his first two horrendous starts. And then…everything fell apart — to put it mildly — in the 2nd inning. The Indians scored 8 runs off of Wang, and another 8 runs off of rookie Anthony Claggett (welcome to the Majors, kid). That’s 14 runs…in one inning. Fourteen.
During the Fox broadcast of the game, they showed a video clip of some St. Louis players, one of whom was wired with a microphone, in their dugout as they noticed the Yankees/Indians score on the scoreboard. First they wondered if it was correct, and then they wondered if it was a record. One of them mentioned that they should Google it to find out if 14 runs in an inning was a record.
The Yankees managed to tack on 2 more runs in the 6th inning…and the Indians added 8 more runs, making the final score 22-4. The Indians hit 6 home runs in this game. The crowd chanted “We want Swisher” several times in this game…not that I can blame them. Hell, the Yankees could put me on the mound, and I wouldn’t do much worse than Wang or Claggett.
22-4. Oy veh.
Yankees scoreboard — http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/images/2009/04/18/Oobz7sai.jpg
Dunn and Zimmerman — Associated Press
Swisher pitches: There was nothing to smile about in the Yankees embarrassing loss to the Rays on Monday. Nick Swisher, however, did his best to help his team get through the loss. Attempting to save the bullpen, Joe Girardi needed a relief pitcher and went looking for one when the Yankees found themselves down by 10 runs after 3 innings. As it turns out, Swisher used to be a pitcher…in high school. Desperate situations call for desperate measures, so Swisher ended up pitching for the Yankees in the 8th inning.
Apparently, while many of the Yankees were amused by Swisher being used as a relief pitcher, Jorge Posada — who replaced Swisher at first base — was not. Considering how fiesty and intense Posada is, I’m not surprised that he wasn’t amused by the situation. Derek Jeter, however, had a better attitude about the whole thing. According to what I’ve read online in several blogs, Jeter was amused simply because it was Swisher, and Swisher’s not going to shut up about it.
Peter Abraham was amused too. He thought is was funny when Swisher “shook Jose Molina off, even through there were no signs.” Ditto for Swisher rolling the ball into the dugout for a souvenir after striking out Gabe Kapler. (You have to wonder how Kapler will ever live that down!)
I love Nick Swisher. I seriously love this guy! I think his sense of humor is exactly what the Yankees need. His bat is pretty nice to have too.
Burnett’s gem: A.J. Burnett followed Wang’s disaster with a near no-hitter on Tuesday. CC Sabathia got more headlines (and more money) when he signed with the Yankees, but Burnett is the one who has really earned his money so far for the Yankees. I hope he keeps it up!
Teixeira is back: Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup on Tuesday. He still isn’t hitting his weight (hell, after tonight, he’s almost hitting my weight), but at least the Yankees can count on his glove once again.
Nady injures elbow: Xavier Nady has been placed on the DL for additional tests on his surgically repaired and now injured right elbow. There were some rumors that he was headed for more Tommy John surgery, which would end his season, but, according to an article on yahoo.com, it looks like doctors want to run more tests to see if rest and rehab will be enough to take care of the problem.
The not-so-grand Grand Opening: the Yankees got the snot beat out of them tonight by the Indians, which is unfortunate considering that tonight was the Yankees home opener in the new Yankee Stadium. Not a good way to get things started. This is the second blow-out suffered by the Yankees in less than a week…I understand that late in the game, Yankee fans were chanting “We want Swisher,” since he pitched a scoreless inning in the blow-out vs. Tampa Bay. But from what I’ve read here at MLBlogs, the reviews of the new Yankee Stadium are overwhelmingly positive. And that’s really more important than this one loss.