Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good A.J. Saves His Job For Now; Thome's 600th

The Yankees' 6-man rotation is going to become a 5-man rotation. But which starter will be the odd man out?

1. CC Sabathia. Unlikely. He is an ace.

2. Bartolo Colon. Unlikely. He is the comeback player of the year.

3. Freddy Garcia. Unlikely. He has also made a good comeback.

4. Ivan Nova. Unlikely. After a brief glimpse last season of what he could do, he has shown he is worthy of staying in the rotation.

5. Phil Hughes. Possible, although less possible given his last 2 starts.

6. A.J. Burnett. There's been "Good A.J." and "Bad A.J.," and in 2 1/2 Augusts, he had never won an August start as a Yankee. Although he was a key figure in the Yankees' 2009 World Championship (including starting and winning Game 2 of the World Series), he was 10-15 last season and came into last night's start with a losing record.

Last night, in the first game of a 3-game series in Kansas City against the Royals, Good A.J. showed up. In 5 2/3 innings, he allowed 10 hits, but just 1 walk, and 3 runs. From there, the Yankees got 2 outs from Boone Logan, 2 from Rafael Soriano (who did allow an additional run), 3 from David Robertson and 3 from Mariano Rivera.

As for the bats, the Yankees pounded Felipe Paulino, dropping him to 7-30 for his career. No home runs, but 3 hits and 3 RBIs from Derek Jeter, 2 hits each from Brett Gardner (2 RBIs), Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher, and RBIs from Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones.

Yankees 7, Royals 4. WP: Burnett (9-9). SV: Rivera (31). LP: Paulino (1-9).

With the win, the Yankees tied the unscheduled Red Sox for first place in the AL East, at 73-46. So it is once again possible to post Magic Numbers for clinchings and eliminations.

Jeter hits 3039 DONE
Rivera saves 590 11
A-Rod homers 626 137
A-Rod hits 2762 238
Magic Number 44 (to eliminate Scum, 35 for Rays, 29 for Jays, and a mere 18 for O's)

Game 2 of the series is tonight. Nova starts against Danny Duffy. (Who?) A 22-year-old lefthander from the Santa Barbara, California area, who's made 15 major league appearances, all of them starts, none of them against the Yankees. A young pitcher that the Yankees have never seen before. On the road. And a lefty to boot. In the immortal words of Scooby-Doo, "Ruh-roh!"

*

Congratulations to Jim Thome. The slugger, still believed by most sources to be steroid-free, hit the 600th home run of his career last night, for the Minnesota Twins, off Daniel Schlereth of the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. He had hit his 599th earlier in the game.

He is the 8th player to reach the mark -- but, as far as we can tell, the 5th to do it without cheating:

1. Barry Bonds 762 *
2. Hank Aaron 755
3. Babe Ruth 714
4. Willie Mays 660
5. Ken Griffey Jr. 630
6. Alex Rodriguez 626 *
7. Sammy Sosa 609 *
8. Jim Thome 600

One of these days, I'm going to have to do a 500 Home Run Club piece like the one I did on 3,000 Hits for Derek Jeter.

Thome also has 2,453 career strikeouts, just 144 short of Reggie Jackson for the all-time record. I don't want him to have the stigma of being the all-time whiff leader. I do, however, want it removed from My Man.

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