Another Series in the Bag

July 26th, 2015 by

Yankees tote bagAfter the unpleasant beat-down by Phil Hughes and the Twins in Game 1 on Friday night, the Yankees came back and won the next two in Minny over the weekend. Saturday night’s victory was especially stirring with A-Rod’s three homers and the huge homer by Murphy. CC continues not to inspire confidence, at least not mine, but Eovoldi was better today than he has been. (Am I crazy or does he sort of look like Carl Pavano?) And it’s always fun when everybody contributes, including the bottom of the order. There’s a lot of baseball still to play and I’d love to see Cashman join the trade party and get us another starter, but the Yanks are rolling. Whatever they’re doing, I just hope they keep it going.

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Sorry, O’s

July 24th, 2015 by

Broom_icon.svg[4]The usually formidable Orioles, whose power hitting and fabled defense seemed to have vanished this series at the Stadium (they were foolish to let Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis leave, if you ask me), were reduced to mere mortals by the Yankees. In the first two games, it was a combination of good pitching and timely hits that did the trick. In yesterday’s game, it was pitching plus lots and lots of scoring that did the O’s in.

Yesterday’s hero was Ellsbury. I can’t remember which commenter here mentioned how much he was missed when he was on the DL, but it was true. He’s such a great player when healthy and he demonstrated that yesterday. He really can do it all and he’s fun to watch.

Teixeira and A-Rod continued their torrid hitting and even Stephen Drew, back in the lineup, contributed. Unless the Yankees make a trade, I guess we’re stuck with Drew and Ryan platooning at second base. Girardi likes Drew “because he’s been in a pennant race.” So there’s that. I have a feeling Toronto will go for broke and get a big-time player in a trade, since everybody in our division thinks they have a shot this season, but I wouldn’t mind if we got a power-hitting right fielder since Beltran, sad to say, is a shadow of his former self, and Chris Young is streaky.

Anyhow, sweeping the O’s was big, putting more distance between the Yankees and their second-place rivals. Now it’s the Twins’ turn. The Yanks used to own them, but I take nothing for granted.

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I’m Amazed What a Great Year Tex Is Having

July 19th, 2015 by

mark-teixeira_1

He just keeps coming through with the big hits/homers, doesn’t he? No matter which team we’re playing or which pitcher he’s facing, he’s right in the middle of the action, either giving the Yankees some insurance or actually winning the ballgame. I assumed he’d continue to decline with age and injury, but he sure has proven me wrong. He’s looking like the 2009 version, the guy who hit for power and played a terrific first base and helped the Yanks win a championship.

Against the Mariners this weekend, there weren’t a lot of runs, but in two out of the three games the runs came when it counted and the pitching was terrific. Today CC actually out-dueled King Felix, speaking of looking like the 2009 version. I was happy for him even though he didn’t get the decision. Tanaka, too, seemed to have improved over his last start. Only Pineda was a bit wobbly and allowed Cano to have a little fun at the Stadium.

Right now the team is firing on all cylinders, and keeping the rest of the division at bay. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when the O’s come to town on Tuesday for that series. They always scare me.

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A Nice Way to Close Out the First Half

July 12th, 2015 by
Photo: AP / Steven Senne

Photo: AP / Steven Senne

There were a lot of good things to come out of the weekend series at Fenway including beating the Red Sox in Games 1 and 3, but what will inevitably stand out in everybody’s mind, including mine, was the arrival of rookie Rob Refsnyder. Not only has there been a lot of excitement around the kid, but anyone who’s an upgrade over Stephen Drew at second base gets my undying gratitude. It’s possible that Refsnyder will be shipped back to Scranton before the season resumes after the All-Star break, but I hope not. He can hit (loved watching his first major-league homer) and field, despite the error, and he’s so poised for a young player. Keep him around, Yankees.

Gardner and Tex continue to be solid at the break and so deserving of their All-Star spots. And I liked seeing Andrew Miller begin to shake off the rust from his time on the DL. Will the Yankees hang onto first place for awhile? Who knows. The division is up for grabs, as I’ve said, and anything’s possible. But I’m looking forward to the second half in a way I didn’t expect to.

 

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Watching Tex These Days Is a Kick

July 9th, 2015 by

Tex bomb

In last night’s game against the A’s, he hit a couple of homers, made some great plays at first and generally looked like the exciting player we remember from his first year with the Yankees. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: his gluten free diet might really be his magic potion. Whatever he’s doing, I hope he keeps it up because he’s not only winning ballgames for the team but making it a pleasure to watch the games.

Gardner had a big game today in the series finale. I’m glad he’s going to the All-Star game even if it’s as Alex Gordon’s sub. He deserves to be there.

CC was better in this series. Tanaka was really good in this series. Those were pluses. Less “plus” was Chase Headley and his tight whatever body part it is, necessitating a kid playing third. On the other hand, I was heartened by the return of both Ellsbury and Miller (showing some rust but still). Having them both back is like acquiring two big free agents to help out during the second half.

I’m all over the map when it comes to this team. There are times when I think they can’t possibly get to the playoffs and there are other times, like right now, when I think they’re a lock. It all comes down to the starting pitching. I still don’t trust Evo to deliver consistently and CC and his knee are worrisome, and then there’s Tanaka, who makes me hold my breath every time he’s on the mound. One more starter (Cole Hamels, Cole Hamels, Cole Hamels – if I say it three times maybe it’ll come true) would sure work for me.

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The Walk-offs Were Fun; The Sloppy Defense Not So Much

July 6th, 2015 by

Jose-Pirela-Yankees

Such a predicament for the Yankees at second base these days. Stephen Drew seems constitutionally incapable of hitting above .200 and Jose Pirela can hit but his fielding errors are starting to make me long for Eduardo Scissorhands. Surely, there must be somebody better? Didi continues to make mistakes at shortstop but at least he doesn’t make two Es on one play as Pirela did yesterday. Sheesh.

On the positive side, Tanaka kicked off the weekend series against the Rays and was much improved from his last two outings. And the boys’ stirring comeback in that game was a thing of beauty. Teixeira’s power hitting has saved the day time and time again this season and he came through again, which set the stage for McCann’s 12th inning bomb – the Yankees’ first walk-off of the year. He, Tex and A-Rod have provided the muscle in this lineup for sure. It would have been great to add Beltran to that mix since he was supposed to be our big bat, but….Well, I said I would stay positive and Beltran’s stint with the team has been anything but.

Pineda pitched great in Saturday’s game, and the team clawed their way back in that one too. I had hopes for a sweep, but the Rays’ starter yesterday was really good. Where do they get all these great young pitchers? They must grow them like weeds down on their farm.

With Ellsbury due back and Miller making progress, things should get interesting after the All-Star break. No team in the AL East is running away with the division, so it’s up for grabs. The Yankees could very well grab it – if they play more consistently. The big question mark for me is CC. His start yesterday was pushed back until Wednesday, and he didn’t sound happy about it. Did the Yankees really think his mechanics would miraculously work themselves out with a few extra days of rest? Unlikely. I’m rooting for the big guy, but at this point I don’t know what he has left.

Meanwhile, let’s hear it for the women’s soccer team! USA! USA!

applause-thumb-240x240-1498461

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He Doesn’t Look Like a Heavyweight But….

July 2nd, 2015 by
Photo: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images North America

Chasen Shreve (gotta love some of these names) is becoming one in New York. A string bean-sized reliever, Shreve has gone from a nobody in the minors to Girardi’s go-to guy in the pen delivering time after time. Last night in Anaheim, he took care of a bases-loaded threat with relative ease and allowed the Yankees to go on to victory in the series finale against the Angels. Also remarkable is the fact that they had an awful road trip but still managed to come out of it in second place in the division. Teams are bunched together and it’ll be interesting to see which one breaks out of the pack at the end. One minute the Rays are on top, the O’s the next. I wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto, with their crazy-good hitters, also sees first place at some point. With all the jockeying for position, the Yanks have a real shot to end up on top.

If they do get into the playoffs, will fans embrace them then? What’s been startling about this team is how apathetic people are toward them, myself included. I’ve admitted it from the beginning of the season. The fact that none of the players was voted onto the All-Star team speaks volumes, along with the low ratings on YES and the lackluster attendance at the Stadium. No charisma on the part of the players, some say. No stars now that Jeter’s gone, others speculate. Too old, a lot of people are saying. They don’t play fun, someone wrote on Twitter the other day.

They don’t play fun. I thought about this one. Maybe when Ellsbury comes back and starts scampering around the bases, igniting Gardner along with him, they’ll play fun. Maybe when Andrew Miller comes back and starts firing fastballs at hitters again, they’ll play fun. And maybe if A-Rod goes on a tear and hits A-Bomb after A-Bomb, they’ll play fun. I don’t know. It just seems that no one is jumping up and down to see Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorious, Brian McCann and Stephen Drew. It’s a shame. I wonder what Hal is planning to do about it all. Some have suggested that Hank should get back into the mix because he says and does provocative, attention-getting things. What we need isn’t a clown though. We need a bright and shining young star (read: Mike Trout).

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Yanks Vs Astros = Split

June 28th, 2015 by

perfect-split-leap

This series was a snapshot of the Yankees’ season. They played well and they played ugly. There’s hardly any in between with this team.

What stood out for me was the second awful outing in a row for Tanaka. It’s worrisome. I’ve come to expect stellar performances from him and he’s certainly entitled to a couple of bad starts, but I can’t help wondering about that arm.

Pineda, on the other hand, rebounded nicely from getting battered his last time out. He was victimized by sloppy defense today and an opposing starting pitcher who stymied our offense, which had been so powerful just the day before.

Honestly, there were so many non-sports news stories breaking over the past week that I haven’t been all that focused on baseball or this series. Which is another way of saying I spent more time with CNN than I did with YES.

 

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Welcome Back, Nova!

June 24th, 2015 by
(courtesy: Russ and Daughters)

(courtesy: Russ and Daughters)

It seemed fitting to bring back the pic of the nova, bagels and cream cheese with the return today of Ivan Nova after his TJ surgery and rehab. What a shot in the arm for the Yankees, speaking of arms. He pitched great, as opposed to Tanaka and CC, who were awful against the Phillies, and if he can keep it up, the rotation will have a terrific “new” starter.

I really don’t know what to write about CC at this point except that he keeps saying after losses that his stuff was good, that he felt good, that he’s learning how to pitch without the big velocity, that he’s…..Well, it goes on and on. What he doesn’t say is that he’s not fooling hitters, and it’s hurting the team. Does he deserve to stay in the rotation? Of course. He’s earned his place. But someone needs to work with him on his mechanics. Someone needs to help him make adjustments. Someone needs to show him how to be a different pitcher. Maybe Andy Pettitte should sign up for a stint as CC’s personal pitching mentor.

On to the surprising Houston Astros. Who would ever have picked them for a first place team? Not me. I hope we can rise to the occasion.

 

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Taming the Tigers

June 21st, 2015 by

Tiger_Zoo_Sriracha
No, the Yankees didn’t sweep Detroit at the Stadium but winning two out of three games against a perennial playoff contender was pretty good. It was Tanaka who, surprisingly, was the weak link in today’s loss. He can’t be spectacular every time out, so I’m with Girardi and chalking it up to a bad day for him rather than panicking about a possible re-injuring of his arm. The offense was sleeping too, not counting the home run hitting Stephen Drew. (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence.)

Friday and Saturday were all about A-Rod, the #3000th hit, the way the fans embraced him, etc. And the Yankees actually acknowledged his milestone on the scoreboard and on Twitter. Pay him? I wonder if they’re starting to feel some pressure to do it. A-Rod is the biggest star they have at the moment and who would have guessed it. If I were the Steinbrenner boys I’d be grateful he was putting people in the seats, never mind RBIs in the box score.

What else…..let’s see. Old Timer’s Day happened. I thought the Stottlemyre tribute/plaque was the best part. I always loved him as a player and am so sorry he’s ill. He’s been the epitome of class, and I wish we had more pitchers like him.

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