Alex Rodriguez is not in tonight's starting lineup, in what appears to be one of those scheduled days off. But he is working here at Camden Yards, going through those football-style catching drills (like going out for a pass) with Cano, Melky, Swish, and Hinske. Damon in lineup, too.
Where the Yanks have won 18 of their last 22 games.
- Sergio Mitre had a heavy wrap on that injured right forearm, and hopes to know by today whether he can throw Monday's bullpen and stay in line for Thursday's start at Toronto.
- Jorge Posada is likely to start Sunday afternoon, after being fitted for a protective sleeve on his injured left ring finger. He caught some today and it responded well.
- Derek Jeter's second-inning bunt? It'll probably be changed from a sacrifice to an official at-bat, after Jeter said he was bunting for a hit, but was perfectly fine with the result. How about you?
- Jerry Hairston? Mr. Versatility. CF, RF, SS, all in one day (and what a play at short in the 9th). He's at .382 as a Yankee. "I think I'm a little better looking than him,'' Hairston said, when someone prefaced his question by saying he wasn't the sexiest name to have traded places at the July 31 deadline.
-- Brett Gardner felt some discomfort, not a sharp pain, when hitting off a tee on Friday, and did not hit Saturday, though he threw well. Just being cautious, Gardner said. Still hopes to get in rehab games soon.
-- A-Rod's defense has been notable of late, and his 8th inning HR was No. 23 (and No. 576). On Mitre today: "Serge made it easy on us. He worked at a great pace.''
-- Joba Chamberlain could go short today (innings ceiling), so with Chad Gaudin used for 2.2 scoreless IP, Aceves and Robertson are in line to go long, if needed. Today marked the Yanks' second one-hitter this year (6-27, at Mets), and the 7th time they held an opponent to three or less hits.
Following today's 10-0 Yankees win (and pending the outcome of tonight's Red Sox game), any combination of Red Sox losses and Yankee victories totaling 28 would give them the AL East crown.
So, it's about time we had another contest.
Name the date the Yanks' clinch, and receive your choice - 1. Yankee key chain bottle opener; 2. the beer or soft drink bottle cover thing (shaped like a pinstriped uniform), or; 3. the pocket calculator they gave out (which I only used once, to figure out the Magic Number).
Let's call the deadline by Labor Day. All judges decisions are final. If we have to, we'll consult Judge Rivera.
The Angels’ acquisition of lefty Scott Kazmir from TampaBay is another reason for the Yankees to fear Mike Scioscia’s club if they meet in October. Kazmir is 6-4 with a 2.53 ERA lifetime against the Yanks in 14 games, with 82 strikeouts in 81.2 innings.
Derek Jeter (.121), Alex Rodriguez (.125), Hideki Matsui (.192), Nick Swisher (.185), Johnny Damon (.167) and Robinson Cano (.130) are each batting below .200 against Kazmir. “He’s been very tough on us,’’ manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s got great stuff.’’
Maybe Jose Contreras returns the favor, as he's starting later today. Or maybe not. Have you seen Contreras lately? Until this late this evening, Ozzie Guillen was considering farm hands over the ex-Yank. "The options we had available at the minor-league level were just not that good,'' Guillen said.
Ozzie hadn't yet texted Joe Girardi, though. "I know he has my number,'' Girardi joked.
Back to Swisher and the pivotal 7th inning, where the White Sox tied the game off CC, and still had two runners nailed at the plate, thanks to A-Rod's alert play, Swisher's soggy toss, and Jose Molina's great tags.
As Girardi noted, in a 2-1 game, "We had the right guy on second base,'' in the form of catcher Ramon Castro. Beckham's RBI single scored the tying run, but Castro was nailed by Swisher's dart home.
"Like throwing a bar of soap,'' Swish said of the soggy conditions. But on a more serious note, Swisher said he's been counseled by the pitching coach, and by Phil Coke, on his throwing motion - trying to get on top of the ball more.
"Dave Eiland's been on me, saying I have a lot more in the tank than what I've shown,'' Swish said. He's right, considering Swisher is on four months rest since that relief stint at Tampa.
Back to being serious again, Swisher said he's "really been trying to concentrate on the defensive end of things...so I can stay out there all nine.''
Quick Q & A --
-- Why not run for Molina in the 9th?
Posada (bruised left ring finger) was only going to pinch-hit if the Yanks were trailing in extra innings, Girardi said.
-- Mark Buehrle since authoring his perfect game?
He's 0-4 in 7 starts, with a 5.77 ERA.
-- CC Sabathia's 10K night?
Coupled with A.J. Burnett's 12K Thursday afternoon, that's the most back-to-back strikeouts by Yankee starters since Ted Lilly (9) and Roger Clemens (13) also combined for 22 Ks in May of 2002 vs. Minnesota.
This year, there's no shoulder issue limiting Andy Pettitte. He's going to get to 200-plus innings, and he'll be relied upon to deliver in October once more.
But let's flash forward to 2010 for a minute. If he wants to come back, it would seem there is a spot in the Yankees' rotation for Pettitte.
The potential 2010 Yankee rotation:
1. CC Sabathia
2. A.J. Burnett
3. Joba Chamberlain
4. Andy Pettitte
5. Phil Hughes
Hughes is still viewed as a starter by the Yankees, so you'd assume he'd return to that role in 2010. Of course, the Yanks would need to find another reliable 8th inning bridge (again), and they'll need to have more than Ian Kennedy and a few non-roster vets as pitching insurance.
Who really knows when Chien-Ming Wang will be back, or if he's returning to the Yanks? Maybe they get him back in time for the stretch run next year.
But this could be the rotation coming out of Tampa next spring. What do you think?
- Josh Beckett's 5 HR allowed? That's the most given up by one pitcher in 8 innings since 1954. The others: Pat Hentgen (vs. Boston, '97) and Jim Palmer (also vs. Boston, '77).
"Obviously, you tend to remember these,'' Beckett said. "Like I said, today is on me.''
Dennis Eckersley is the last Red Sox pitcher to give up five HR in a game to the Yankees (July 1, '79, at the Stadium). He was also in attendance today, as was Johnny Pesky and Ron Howard (the director).
- Hideki Matsui's 3 multi-homer games this trip? Amazing, considering he had his knee drained in Seattle, missing two games. He left for this trip with 3 multi-homer games in his career (and nearly hit 3 HR on Friday).
"I knew in my heart that I couldn't use my knee as an excuse,'' Matsui said through his interpreter. "And I had to prove I could still produce.''
Since '54, only Mike Stanley, Mickey Mantle and Moose Skowron (2x) have had two multi-homer games vs. Boston in on season.
And, finally, Terry Francona on his club: "We're OK. We don't need to reassess our team or anythng like that.''
The White Sox are next at Fenway. And now, the Red Sox are in the odd position of (probably) rooting for the Yanks vs. Texas this week, with the Rangers just a game behind Boston in the wild card race.
When do you think the Yankees will clinch the AL East? How about Sept. 25, at Yankee Stadium, against the Red Sox. Or maybe in Anaheim, of all places, Sept. 21-23.
Anyway, the Red Sox could be in a six-week fight for a wild card, trying to hold off Texas and Tampa Bay, while the Yanks are shooting for the game's best record.
Before tonight's game, Joe Girardi said that had meaning for him -- but he wouldn't sacrifice the health of his players, or his playoff rotation order, for the sake of gunning for home-field advantage in the ALCS.
In other issues, Girardi believes the Posada-Burnett issue of "not being on the same page'' is a bit overblown, considering the recent run A.J. had with Posada catching most of those games (including that scoreless gem at the Stadium vs. Boston).
But the Posada-Burnett ERA at Fenway is 14.21 in those three starts here this year, after Burnett was 3-0, with a 0.40 ERA at Fenway in 3 starts before he became a Yankee. What does it all mean? Try to avoid Boston in the playoffs.
Oh, and Alfredo Aceves insists his shoulder and back are fine (that was an issue last month, he said), and that his July spot start at Minnesota for Chien-Ming Wang had nothng to do with his 7-plus ERA lately, or his recent physical problems. Fat fastballs down the middle -- that's what Aceves lamented most.
But, when will Aceves be ready again for some significant innings?
Oh, those bases on balls. We got a ton of them today in our annual media game, as the New York chapter ended its incomprehensible two-game losing streak and thumped the Bostons, 13-2 this morning at Fenway Park. Attendance: A few friends and family, and the tour groups that came through before noon.
Happy to say I fielded four plays at second base without incident to aid our terrific starter, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Wish I had better offensive news to report than my sorry 0-for-2, with a walk. And it was great to see our own Bob Klapisch back on the mound, tossing a scoreless inning of relief.
The big hit? Who else but Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News, whose three-run triple keyed our eight-run inning. Big Mac drove in five runs. He also serves as our manager, and, well, the 'take' sign worked wonders.
Wait, post-game reaction. Klap is here. Bob, how did you feel being back out there on the Fenway mound?
Klap: "Considering I didn't play at all last year, due to injury, everything is a bonus.''
Thanks, Klap. That's all from here. Second game coming up, Sabathia vs. Beckett. Back to you in the studio.
The Red Sox are still dangerous. The Yankees are still vulnerable in October.
And, if the Yanks get past the Tigers this time in the first round (wouldn't you feel better if it were the White Sox vs. the Yanks in the Division Series?), they'll probably still have to contend with the Sox or the Angels in the ALCS.
Right. No guarantees there. Consider the Yanks' 1-7 mark at Fenway this year, and that recent sweep by the Angels at Anaheim (plus, there are 3 more games in LA for the Yanks). Yes, home field will be big. Because you wonder about stuff, such as....
...why is A.J. Burnett has been so vulnerable here (0-3, 14-plus ERA) after being so dominant at Fenway as a Blue Jay? And, yeah, you wouldn't be surprised if third baseman Jose Molina is catching Burnett next time, after both Burnett and Posada admitted to being off-page at times today.
There was no rancor on either side. But Posada said, plainly, that he offers suggestions with his signs, and it's the pitcher's choice to throw that pitch or not. After all, the guy who releases the ball has to have belief behind that pitch. But there's been plenty of doubt when Yankee pitchers get on that Fenway mound.
CC-Beckett ought to be fun tonight, though. And, the New York-Boston media game is on for 9:30 a.m., as long as the thunderstorms hold off.
We'll do our best to break that 2-game losing streak.