Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yanks Roast Birds, Make No Big Trades

I'm not going to talk much about the Major League Baseball trading deadline, which was at 4:00 this afternoon. The Yankees made no moves -- and didn't need to.

One name often mentioned as a supposed Yankee trade target was that of Ubaldo Jimenez, a starting pitcher for the Colorado Rockies, who wanted the Yankees’ top 3 prospects: Catcher Jesus Montero and pitchers Manny Banuelos and Dustin Betances (a.k.a. the Killer B's, a name already used for the 1980s Miami Dolphins defense and the late 1990s Houston Astros' trio of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Derek Bell).

Jimenez went to the Cleveland Indians instead. I'm glad: Under no circumstances should the Yankees have made the trade described above. Not just because of who they would give up. This guy Jimenez had “Esteban Loaiza” written all over him. How’d that work out for the Yankees? Horribly.

The other name frequently linked with the Yankees was that of Felix Hernandez, the Cy Young Award winner from the Seattle Mariners. The M's also wanted Montero and other prospects.

We are the New York Yankees. They are the Seattle Mariners. We should have told them, "You don't want to pay Felix Hernandez's salary? Here's what we'll give you for him: Money. Use it to buy your own damn players, you're getting none from us." And if they had said, "No deal," we should have said, "Good luck, we can get Felix for no players anyway in the off-season. Then what will you have gotten out of it? You dumb schmucks, this is why you've never won a Pennant. That, and we embarrassed you in 2001."

But, apparently, it never came to that, and "King Felix" (King, my ass, he's never even been in a Pennant race) is still in Seattle. (Unless there was a deal done right before the deadline and it hasn't been announced yet.)

So the Yankees will go into the last 2 months of the regular season with a starting rotation of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, and either Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova.

And I'm okay with that. Sabathia has been the best pitcher in baseball this season, Hughes (when healthy) is a proven winner, Burnett has shown more "Good A.J." than "Bad A.J." this season, and both Garcia (129) and Colon (127) have a better ERA+ (ERA in relation to the rest of the League) than the free-agent pitcher the Yankees allegedly couldn't do without in the last off-season, Cliff Lee (currently 122). The big question marks are Hughes' health and whether Nova is ready -- and Nova pitched pretty well today. Granted, that was against the Baltimore Orioles, but their problem hasn't been hitting: They can hit the tar out of the ball.

*

So can the Yankees, which is fine, because the O's problem is pitching.

In their last 17 innings against the Orioles, the Yankees have scored 9 runs. Not bad.

But those 12 runs in the inning before that one... hoo, boy, but I was concerned that they would have used all those runs for nothing. Certainly, they could have used 3 of those 12 in the Friday night game that the Orioles won, 5-2.

The Yankees sent 16 men to the plate in the bottom of the first last night:

1. Derek Jeter was called out on strikes. One out. The inning began so promising for the O's. Then the wheels came off.

2. Curtis Granderson singled on a line drive to center.

3. Mark Teixeira drew a walk. 1st and 2nd.

4. Robinson Cano singled to left. Grandy scored. Throwing error. Teix got to 3rd. 1-0. 1st and 3rd. Still one out.

5. Nick Swisher reached on fielding error by shortstop J.J. Hardy. Teix scored. Cano to 2nd. 2-0. 1st and 2nd. Still one out. At this point, a double play would have gotten the O's out of the inning with some measure of dignity.

6. Andruw Jones doubled to left. Cano scored. Swish to 3rd. 3-0. 1st and 3rd. Still one out. A DP here would have rendered the game still very much in reach.

7. Russell Martin singled on a line drive to right. Swish scored. Jones to 3rd. 4-0. 1st and 3rd. Still one out. 4-0 is not good, but the O's were still in position for a double play that could have kept the game reasonably close -- within, given a bases-loaded rally, one swing of being tied.

8. Eduardo Nunez singled to center. Jones scored. Martin to 2nd. 5-0. 1st and 2nd. Still only one out.

9. Brett Gardner grounded back to the beleaguered Baltimore pitcher, Zach Britton, who couldn't make a play. Martin to 3rd. Nunez to 2nd. Bases loaded. Still only one out. The Yankees have batted around. Every Yankee starter has reached base already, with the exception of...

10. Jeter, who rectified this by singling to right. Incredibly, this was the first hit in the inning that drives home more than 1 run: Martin and Nunez. (Sounds like a comedy team.) On the throw home, Gardner goes to 3rd, Jeter to 2nd. 7-0. 2nd and 3rd. Still only one out.

At this point, the Oriole manager, our old pal William Nathaniel Showalter III, decides he's gotten too much bang for his team's Buck. He puts Britton out of his misery and brings in Jason Berken. Who?

11. Grandy strikes out. Finally, the 2nd out. Maybe this Berken kid has something.

12. Teix, who walked earlier in the inning, and was thus the last Yankee starter without a hit, erased that distinction, and doubled to right. Gardner and Jeter score. 9-0. Man on 2nd. 2 out.

Britton's day is in the books: He is charged with 9 runs, although, due to an error, "only" 6 of them were earned. 6, times 9, divided by 1/3 of an inning pitched, and his ERA for this game alone was 162.00. Nope, that's not an error, typographical or otherwise: One hundred sixty-two point zero. his ERA for the season rose to 4.56, and his record fell to 6-8. So, this game aside, he is not one of those pitchers doing so badly that the O's, having hung close to first into June, melted in the heat of July, now 23 1/2 games out of first place and we haven't even reached August 1 yet. (In all fairness, Baltimore can get pretty hot, and they do have a hitters' park.)

13. Cano singled to right. Teix scores. 10-0. Man on 1st. 2 out.

14. Swish hit one deep to right field! It was high! It was far! It was... GONE! Incredibly, it took 14 batters before a home run was hit in the inning. It was the 14th "Swishalicious" homer of the season. 12-0. 2 out. Bases mercifully empty.

15. Jones walked.

16. Martin grounded to short, Hardy tossing to 2nd for the 3rd out at long last. 12 runs, on 10 hits, there was 1 error, and the Yankees left 1 man on base. At the end of 1 inning, it was the Yankees 12 and the Orioles 0. It was the biggest 1st inning in the Yankees' long and glorious history.

Jones homered off Berkin in the 3rd, his 7th of the season. Ivan Nova pitched 7 strong, allowing 2 runs, 6 hits, just 1 walk, and was the winning pitcher (9-4). Luis Ayala allowed a run in the 8th, and Rafael Soriano came off the Disabled List and pitched a perfect 9th -- obviously, not a save situation.

In spite of having a brilliant chance to prove that not even Boone Logan could blow a 14-run lead, Yankee manager Joe Girardi did not bring Logan in.

Final score: Yankees 17, Orioles 3.

*

Today's game was a different story. The O's took the lead in the top of the 3rd, and the Yankees were lucky to get out of it only down 1-0. Freddy Garcia was gutsy, but Swisher made bases-loaded outs in the 1st and 3rd. Imagine that, stranding 6 runners in 2 at-bats.

But the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the 4th, and Gardner cleared them with a triple. An RBI groundout by Granderson made it 4-1.

Garcia got through the 6th, having allowed 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 walks (again, keeping those walk totals down, I like it), and was the winning pitcher. Jake Arrieta was the losing pitcher for the O's. (Both men's records are now 10-7). Hector Noesi got 2 outs in the 7th, David Robertson finished that inning and tossed a perfect 8th, and Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect 9th for his 27th save.

Yankees 4, Orioles 2. The Yanks did not need any of those 17 runs from last night to win this one. And they take 3 out of 4 from the Birds.

The Yankees got a scare in the 3rd inning when Derek Jeter was hit on the finger by a pitch. It did not look intentional to me, and Arrieta does not have a reputation for doing that. He is day-to-day, but, like Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, Jeter is one of those guys you need a crowbar to get out of the lineup if he says, "I want to play." I'd give him the next game off, and then see how he feels.

The Yankees now fly out for a 7-game roadtrip, full of Sox, first White ones in Chicago, then Red ones, the very smelly Sox, in Boston.

Jeter hits 3020 DONE
Rivera saves 586 15
A-Rod homers 626 137
A-Rod hits 2762 238

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