Archive for November, 2009

While I don’t deny that Derek Jeter is a worthy candidate for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year, and that it’s an incredible accomplishment considering he is the first New York Yankee to win the award since it began in 1954, my cynical nature disagrees with the belief that he should receive the credit alone for the 2009 Championship or A-Rod’s turnaround after he admitted in Spring Training to taking steroids earlier in his career.

That being said, Jeter had a terrific 2009 season and became the oldest shortstop to ever win a World Series, his fifth ring overall and first since 2000.  Moreover, Jeter’s philanthropy has been strong during his 14-year career through his Turn 2 Foundation, which was established to give to organizations that help young people stay away from drugs and alcohol.

Congratulations, Number 2.

SI names Derek Jeter 2009 Sportsman of the Year (SI.com)


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Turkey Trot

I couldn’t tell if it was the after-effects of the Turkey or this article I read on ESPN.com this morning, but I was feeling pretty good today.  While Commissioner Bud Selig has given baseball fans much to be thankful for (e.g. the Wild Card, Interleague play, the most meaningful All-Star game in pro sports), I have never liked listening to his baffoon-speak or believed much of what he has said. 

Maybe it’s the fact that I just watched Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), but I have always felt like Selig is just a patsy for the owners and has no real authority, or at least does not recognize how to use it.  As a huge fan of the game, I’ve been disappointed/emabarrased to call him baseball’s leader compared to the commissioners of the other major sports (e.g. Roger Goodell, David Stern) and will be glad to see him finally go.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving Weekend everybody!


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Oh No, He Said The “H” Word

Over the last several weeks and months, my wife and I have had to rely on the love and tolerance established during our seven years of marriage as the issue of this country’s healthcare system has come (finally) to the forefront of the political world.  While we both agree, as most Americans do, that healthcare in the United States is a growing problem in both cost and efficiency that at least needs to be reviewed and at most needs to be reformed, we do so coming from diametrically opposing political backgrounds and households.

I was raised in a very conservative-minded home, my father an accountant and my mother a homemaker (for lack of a better description), where politics wasn’t necessarily a common topic but was certainly understood at a basic level–this country was founded on freedom and free enterprise, and less government meant a greater entrepreneurial spirit.  My wife was raised in a liberal-minded home (both parents were teachers) where (according to her) being able to think for oneself with the overall group in mind was the overriding essence. 

A few weeks ago (clearly we don’t talk politics very often), we were shocked when we discovered how incredibly different our idea of a typical member of each other’s political party really is.  (Please be mindful that many of my opinions have been dramatically changed since the inauguration of President Obama, and that these extreme stereotypes are just that).  (As a matter of clarification, when I use the term “he/his/him” it is more a connotation of a human being and not gender specific).  Whenever I think of a typical Democrat, I visualize someone who is poor (both in circumstance and intellect) and has his hand extended waiting for government help.  On the other hand, I envision a Republican to be an industrious, hard-working individual who earns his wealth (both circumstance and intellect) by the sweat of his brow and leaves an indelible mark on society.  According to my wife, she thinks of a typical Republican to be an ignorant hillbilly bumpkin who wouldn’t recognize a rational idea if it hit him squarely in his uni-brow.  On the flip side, she imagines a Democrat to be a well-educated, environmentally aware individual who rises through the ranks and, when given the opportunity to become a leader, accepts it not because of the money or status but because of the loftier ideal of being able to help more people on a grander scale.  Seriously, could our stereotypes be any further apart?

Once we recognized how wide the chasm was between our political views, we could start working towards filling in the void or at least building a bridge with a meeting place somewhere in the middle.  As such, we have conjured countless examples, both positive and negative, to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each political party, and while we may maintain our political roots, we accept each other’s ideology and understand better why we believe what we believe, especially when a hot topic like healthcare is so prevalent and relevant.

In essence, the republican viewpoint (and skepticism) of health care reform is threefold (according to a Fox News poll):

  • New legislation will result in higher costs and thus higher taxes at an individual level
  • Reform will result in a lower quality of health care
  • Most are happy with their current coverage (i.e. status quo) and are skeptical (i.e. afraid) of change (or in other words, the conservatives are just being conservative)

Because the health care initiative is a proposal coming from the democratic side of the aisle, democrats spend much of their time educating the public and dispelling the skepticism/myths.  The best resource I’ve seen yet that explains the health insurance reform is a page on whitehouse.gov called “Reality Check.”  While the facts can be mired in the minutia (a very democratic way), the following help topics are presented in video format from various politicos and individuals like you and me.  (I must make an aside that the Democrats are trying with all their might to entice dialogue about the subject while the Republicans (it seems) are simply putting their collective head in the sand until the problem just goes away–I’m talking to you W!):

  • We can afford reform, we can’t afford the status quo
  • Reform will expand your choices, not limit them
  • Reform will eliminate insurance discrimination
  • Reform will benefit small business, not burden it
  • You can keep your own insurance

I think it says a lot that the Democrats have an organized, easily accessible resource that specifically addresses the many questions and concerns of health care reform while the Republicans have no such resource.  And in fact, I had to rely on a poll by Fox “News” that merely lists Americans’ opinions rather than offers any strong counterpoints.

Without getting too much into why or why not health care reform is necessary, suffice it to say that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world without universal health care.  And while I do believe that we are the greatest country overall in the world, I don’t believe we have the market cornered on superiority or that we are exempt from learning from others.

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Gold Glove AwardOn Tuesday, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira took home the gold glove awards for their respective positions, the fourth for the Captain and the third for Tex but first as a Yankee.  Said Teixeira, “I’ve always been cognizant of the fact that you’re not going to get a hit every time up.  You want to hit 1.000, but if you don’t, you can’t take it out to the field.  One strikeout in a game is not going to be the game, but one big error with men on base in the eighth inning might be the difference between a win and a loss.”  That’s certainly one way to rationalize hitting .180 in the postseason.

Silver Slugger AwardOn Thursday, the two potential MVP candidates also picked up Silver Slugger awards after their impressive seasons at the plate.  For Jeter it was his fourth, winning it the last four straight years, and for Tex it was his third overall and first since 2005.  El Capitan had one of his best offensive seasons, hitting .334 and an OPS of .871 with 212 H and 107 R in the leadoff position.  Tex also had a great season, hitting .292 and an OPS of .948 with 122 RBI and an American League high of 39 HR and 43 2B.

Jeter, Tex take home Gold Gloves (MLB.com)
Jeter, Teixeira win Silver Slugger Awards (MLB.com)

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Derek Jeter and Mark Wahlberg on location of The Other Guys. (WireImage)In an upcoming Will Ferrell movie, Derek Jeter plays the antitheses American–riches to rags–who finds himself as a bum after winning five World Series rings.

I’m not sure how it will play out on the big screen, but apparently Wahlberg and Ferrell won’t be doing anything more than just staring.


'Aging' Jeter playing himself in upcoming flick

‘Aging’ Jeter playing himself in upcoming flick  (MLB.com)

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September/October 2009 Regular Season Schedule

Sep 2--CC Sabathia, the AL's first 16-game winner, is undefeated since July 28. (AP)Sep 1-2 (NYY @ BAL)—After Andy Pettitte’s near-perfect game, the Yankees looked to continue their winning ways against the Orioles in the second game of the series.  However, it looked bleak when A.J. Burnett (ND; 5.1 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2K) left in the sixth after giving up the Yankees’ second two-run lead of the game.  But the resilient Yanks scored 3 R in the seventh highlighted by back-to-back HR by Nick Swisher and Eric Hinske to power New York to a 9-6 win.  Mariano Rivera pitched to the minimum in the ninth thanks to a double play turned by the infield to earn Rivera his 38 S.  In the series finale, the offense again smashed several of the Orioles’ September call-ups to support C.C. Sabathia’s (W, 16-7; 7.0 IP, 7 H, R, BB, 9 K) great performance.  Phil Hughes earned the save, relieving Phil Coke in the eighth with two outs and getting the final three outs of the ninth, after New York scored 7 R in the top half of the inning, powered by 6 1B and 2 BB, to win 10-2.  (Series 3-0; Record 85-48; AL East +7.5, 1st)

Sep 3--Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are greeted after scoring on Hideki Matsui's single.  (AP)Sep 3-6 (NYY @ TOR)—Riding high, the Yankees crushed the Blue Jays in the first game 10-5 after scoring 4 R in the first.  Jorge Posada had 4 RBI and Alex Rodriguez added 2 RBI of his own.  Alfredo Aceves (W, 10-1) won his 10th of the year after relieving Chad Gaudin (ND; 3.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 2 K) in the fourth.  In the second game, the Yankee offense was completely baffled by the brilliance of Roy Halladay and lost 6-0 after going 1-2-3 in seven of the nine innings.  Thankfully Ramiro Pena got a base hit in the sixth or else the game would have been known in history for more than just a shutout by a dominant pitcher.  Joba Chamberlain (L, 8-5; 3.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R/2 ER, 2 BB, 2K) got the start, but was no match for the Blue Jays’ ace as the Yankees’ win streak was snapped at seven games.  In the third game, the Yankee offense bounced back, supporting Pettitte’s (W, 13-6; 6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 5 BB, 3 K) good outing with a good outing of their own.  With an ailing Rivera on the bench, Hughes threw perfect baseball over the final four outs to earn his 3 S of the season and nail down the Yankees’ 6-4 win.  The series finale saw Sergio Mitre (L, 3-2; 4.1 IP, 11 H, 11 R/9 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) get absolutely lit up as Swisher and Melky Cabrera each had 3 RBI, which weren’t enough as the Yankees lost 14-8.  (Series 2-2; Record 87-50; AL East +7.5, 1st)

Sep 8--Nick Swisher's homers, his 25th and 26th, were just his fourth and fifth at home. (AP)Sep 7-9 (TB @ NYY)—In the first double-header of the season for New York, the Yankees sent a post-All-Star-break surging Sabathia to the mound for the first game.  C.C. (ND; 7.0 IP, 3 H, R, 4 BB, 10 K) pitched well but was matched by Matt Garza as the game was tied 1-1 through seven and a half innings.  But in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees scored 3 R on 2 SF and a pair of 1B and Rivera closed the game for his 39 S to preserve the Yankees’ thrilling 4-1 win.  The second game ended with a similar result but with a little less drama.  Burnett (W, 11-8; 6.0 IP, 4 R, R, 3 BB, 8 K) earned his first W against the Rays this season, and the offense, led by Teixeira’s 4 RBI, provided the rest as the Yanks won 11-1.  Going into the doubleheader, however, Derek Jeter was the main story as he was sitting on 2,718 hits in his Yankee career, which was just 3 hits shy of the all-time Yankees’ mark held by Lou Gehrig.  However, Jeter went cold, going a combined 0-8 in both games after hitting 5-8 in the final two games of the road trip.  In the third game, Jeter didn’t have any more luck, going 0-4 again, but the team sure did as the Yanks won 3-2, powered by Swisher’s walk-off HR that gave New York its thirteenth walk-off win of the season.  Gaudin (ND; 6.0 IP, 6 H, R, 2 BB, 6 K) got the start but Rivera got the win after pitching a perfect ninth.  Sep 9--Derek Jeter's third hit Wednesday was an opposite-field single in the seventh. (Getty)Finally, in the fourth game of the series, the Yankees fans saw history as Jeter tied Gehrig with a clean single in the seventh, his third hit of the night.  The fans were also witness to a thrilling victory as the Yanks overcame a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the eighth by scoring 4 R, highlighted by Posada’s pinch-hit 3-R HR to power New York to a 4-2 win.  Chamberlain got another abbreviated start per the rules outlined by the higher-ups, but Jonathan Albaladejo (W, 5-1) got the W with the comeback as the Yanks swept the four-game set against Tampa Bay.  (Series 4-0; Record 91-50; AL East +9.0, 1st)

Sep 11--Derek Jeter runs to first base in the third inning after career hit No. 2,722. (AP)Sep 11-13 (BAL @ NYY)—With hearts remembering the tragedy of September 11th eight years before, and with eyes on the Captain, Yankees’ fans weren’t disappointed as Derek Jeter stroked a single to right field in the third inning, passing the legendary Lou Gehrig on the all-time hits list for a Yankee player with his 2,722 hit.  The rest of the game didn’t go quite so well, however, as the Yankees blew a 4-1 lead after Pettitte (ND; 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K) left the game in sixth and ended up losing 10-4.  It appeared that the Jeter-passing-Gehrig hangover trickled into the next game as the Yankees lost again 7-3.  Burnett (L, 11-9; 7.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 4 K) got the start, but, after giving up 6 R in the second inning, the Yankee offense couldn’t catch up as they fell to Baltimore again.  In the third and final game of the series, the Yankees woke up and crushed the Orioles 13-3 to avoid the three-game sweep.  Sabathia (W, 17-7; 7.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 4 BB, K) gave another dominant performance and the offense, led by Matsui’s 5 RBI and Cabrera’s 4 RBI, pounded out 20 H in the win.  (Series 1-2; Record 92-52; AL East +7.0, 1st)

Sep 14--Joba Chamberlain allowed one run on four hits in four innings. (AP)Sep 14 (LAA @ NYY)—In a makeup game from the May 3rd rain out, the Angels rolled into town and the Yankees were ready for them.  I don’t know how many times I have said this, but both teams were tied after seven and a half innings and the Yankees scored 2 R in the bottom of the eighth, the go-ahead coming when Gardner stole third and then scored on a throwing error by the catcher Mike Napoli.  Chamberlain (ND; 4.0 IP, 4 H, R, 0 BB, 2 K) got the start but earned a no-decision; Hughes (W, 7-3) had a blown-save but got the win; Rivera pitched the ninth for his 40 S and closed out the 5-2 win.  (Series 1-0; Record 93-52; AL East +7.5, 1st)

Sep 16--Hideki Matsui watches his two-run homer head for the bleachers in the eighth.  (AP)Sep 15-16 (TOR @ NYY)—Again, the Yankees dropped a series-opener, and the tension rose after the benches cleared when Posada gave a weak fore-arm shiver to the Blue Jays reliever as he crossed home plate to score one of the Yankees’ 4 R.  However, like a broken record, Roy Halladay shut down the Yanks again on the way to beating Mitre (L, 3-3; 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, BB, 2 K) and the Yankees again 10-4.  In the second game of the short two-game series, the Yankees avenged the loss the night before with more late-inning magic to win 5-4.  After Yankees’ starter Gaudin (ND; 5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, BB, 2 K) left in the sixth inning trailing 3-2, Bruney relieved him and gave up another run to make the deficit 4-2.  But in the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees scored two on Matsui’s 2-R HR, and in the bottom of the ninth, Francisco Cervelli scored Brett Gardner from third after Gardner led off the inning with a 1B, stole second during Jeter’s AB, and moved to third on Jeter’s ground out.  This was the Yankee’s fourteenth walk-off win of the season, the most since 1943 when they had seventeen.  (Series 1-1; Record 94-53; AL East +6.5, 1st)

Sep 19--Mark Teixeira and Johnny Damon combined for seven hits, six RBIs and four runs scored. (AP)Sep 18-20 (NYY @ SEA)—With its last west-coast trip of the regular season, the Yankees traveled to Seattle and had Burnett on the mound for a good road test for him.  Burnett (ND; 7.0 IP, 7 H, R, 3 BB, 6 K) pitched very well, opposite a potential Cy Young candidate in Felix Hernandez, and was in line for the win when he left after seven solid innings.  But after Hughes pitched a perfect eighth inning, Rivera had one of his few miscues all season when, after striking out the first two he faced in the ninth, he allowed a double by Mike Sweeney that almost left the park and then a game-losing 2-R HR to Ichiro Suzuki that was gone the second it left the bat, sending the Yanks to a 3-2 defeat.  Because Hernandez had pitched 9.0 solid innings in a complete-game effort, he got the win and Burnett was left with a tough no-decision.  After the crushing loss, the Yankees bounced back in the second game winning 10-1 behind their ace, Sabathia (W, 18-7; 7.0 IP, 4 H, R/0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K).  Teixeira led the offense with 5 RBI, going 4-5 with 1B, 3B, and 2 HR.  In the rubber match, Chamberlain was terrible (L, 8-6; 3.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 2 K) and raised more questions about his role on the playoff roster with his poor performance against the Mariners.  Mitre entered in relief and was great as he threw a longer outing with his 5.0 IP of one-hit, shutout ball.  However, the damage was done early as the Yanks lost 7-1.  (Series 1-2; Record 95-55; AL East +5.0, 1st)

Sep 23--A.J. Burnett fanned 11 in 5.2 innings against the Angels on Wednesday. (AP)Sep 21-23 (NYY @ LAA)—After a bad series loss in Seattle, the Yankees traveled to Anaheim to take on a potential playoff opponent in their last great test of the 2009 regular season.  Pettitte (L, 13-7; 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K) got the start and pitched okay but took the loss when the offense couldn’t get anything going against Joe Saunders, losing 5-2.  In the second game, the Yankees looked like they were on their way to another disappointing loss against the Angels when they blew a 5-0 lead.  But they showed a lot of gut and grit late in the ball game to win 6-5 on a SF by A-Rod in the top of the ninth.  Gaudin (ND, 4.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K) started but earned a no-decision as he couldn’t get through the required five innings.  Rivera pitched the bottom half of the ninth for his 41 S to preserve the win.  In the rubber match, Burnett (W, 12-9; 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 11 K) had another great outing on the road, and this time the bullpen held on for the win with Rivera again pitching the ninth inning for his 42 S and closing the Yankees 3-2 win.  This series was immensely important for the Yankees as it showed they could beat the Angels late in the year when it matters most.  I think this series really helped give New York the confidence they needed to beat the Angels in the playoffs as well.  (Series 2-1; Record 97-56; AL East +6.0, 1st)

Sep 27--Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Mariano Rivera celebrate the division title. (AP)Sep 25-27 (BOS @ NYY)—Returning home on the heels of a great series win in Anaheim, the Yankees faced the Red Sox with a chance to clinch the division with a sweep.  In the first game, they pitted Chamberlain against the always tough John Lester.  But surprisingly Chamberlain (W, 9-6; 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, BB, 5 K) was a lot a sharper, and even though Lester left the game in the third after getting hit on the knee with a line drive, he had already given up 4 R on 3 BB and 8 H.  Regardless, the Yankees won the game 9-5 powered by A-Rod’s 4 RBI including his HR in the third inning that broke the mark of most HR in a season in Yankee Stadium (old or new).  In the second game, Sabathia (W, 19-7; 7.0 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K) showed again why he was a strong Cy Young candidate with another dominant, shutout performance as the Yankees blanked the Sox 3-0.  Damon led the offense with 2 RBI against his former club, and Rivera pitched the ninth to earn his 43 S.  In the third and final game, and with the magic number down to one, the Yankees closed out the division title, their first since 2006, and their second straight sweep of the Sox at home.  Pettitte (W, 14-7; 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 4 K), who else, pitched very well and was the beneficiary of another Yankee comeback victory as they won 4-2.  Trailing 2-0 in the third, Cabrera led off with a HR that cut the Sox lead in half.  Then in the sixth, after Teixeira and A-Rod got back-to-back 1B and moved to second and third on a wild pitch, Matsui drove them both in with a 2-R 1B of his own.  New York added another run in the eighth on Teixeira’s solo HR, and Rivera closed out the game and the division crown with a strong ninth inning.  With the sweep, the Yanks not only won their 100th game, but they also tied the season series with the Sox 9-9 after going 0-8 to begin the season.  (Series 3-0; Record 100-56; AL East +8.5, won)

Sep 29--A.J. Burnett treats Juan Miranda to a pie in the face after Miranda's walk-off single. (AP)Sep 28-30 (KC @ NYY)—After another emotionally draining series, the Yankees sent out a lineup that was mediocre, at best, to give some of their regular starters a rest.  The lineup for this first game consisted of Gardner (CF), Cabrera (LF), Cano (2B), Posada (DH), Hinske (3B), Duncan (RF), Miranda (1B), Cervelli (C), and Pena (SS).  But it didn’t seem to matter as they spanked the lowly Royals 8-2, highlighted by Cano’s 4 RBI, giving Gaudin (W, 6-10; 6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K) another W.  In the second game, most of the regulars were back and seemed a little lax as they had to come back to win 4-3, scoring twice in the bottom of the ninth off an old friend, Kyle Farnsworth, to get their fifteenth walk-off of the year.  Burnett (ND; 6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 8 K) pitched well, but Bruney (W, 5-0) got the W thanks to the late-inning magic.  With the win, the Yankees increased their streak to seven games, which was their fourth winning streak of seven or more in the second half of the season alone and sixth of the season.  In the second half, the Yankees lost consecutive games only five times, with the most consecutive losses being three.  In the series finale, Chamberlain (ND; 3.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 4 BB, 3 K) got the start but essentially pitched himself out of the postseason starting rotation with another poor outing.  The bullpen took the loss when the Royals scored in the seventh inning to take a 4-3 lead, which they would not relinquish.   The Yankees had a chance to win the game late again, but left the game-winning run on second base in the bottom of the ninth.  (Series 2-1; Record 102-57; AL East +10.5, won)

(September 19-9; Record 102-57; AL East +10.5, won)

Oct 4--Alex Rodriguez set a new American League record with seven RBIs in one inning. (AP)Oct 2-4 (NYY @ TB)—For the final regular season series of the year, the Yankees traveled to Tampa Bay to take on their divisional rival Rays.  While there weren’t any team goals at stake, there were personal milestones that several of the Yankee players were trying to achieve.  And the first came in the first game of the series as Sabathia (L, 19-8; 2.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R/5 ER, 5 BB, 3 K) was on the mound to try and earn his 20th W of the year.  However, it became apparent early that he was not necessarily trying to get the W but more get command of his pitches in a tune-up for the playoffs as he and the Yankees were smacked around in a 13-4 loss.  In the second game, Pettitte (L, 14-8; 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R/3 ER, 4 BB, K) was attempting to earn his 15th W of the season, but he, too, was just trying to get his work in in preparation for the postseason, taking the L as the Yanks lost 5-3.  However, the third and final game of the series, and final game of the regular season, saw some incredible fireworks thanks to A-Rod.  With the Yankees trailing 2-0 going into the sixth inning, A-Rod was sitting on 93 RBI and 28 HR for the season.  After Damon and Teixeira reached based to begin the inning, Alex calmly crushed a first-pitch fastball to LF for a 3-R HR that not only gave the Yankees the lead at 3-2, but also moved him 3 RBI and HR closer to his personal goal.  Later in the same inning, A-Rod stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and hammered an 0-1 pitch to right-center field for a grand slam that capped the Yankees 10-R scoring barrage and gave him 30 HR and 100 RBI for the season.  A-Rod also set an American League record with 7 RBI in one inning.  Pretty amazing.  In that half inning, the Yankees sent 13 batters to the plate and scored 10 R, which would eventually be the winning score of 10-2.  In the game, Teixeira was also trying to get his 40 HR of the season, breaking a tie between him and Carlos Pena of the Rays for the most in the American League.  But because the Rays were still mad about the Yankees effectively ending Pena’s season in September when Sabathia hit him on an inside pitch that broke his hand, they probably thought it was unfair for Teixeira to get his 40 HR in Tampa Bay.  So they never threw him anything to hit and unintentionally/intentionally walked him twice.  But with the regular season over, it was time for the playoffs.  (Series 1-2; Record 103-59; AL East +8.0, won)

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August 2009 Regular Season Schedule

Aug 2--CC Sabathia allowed five runs on 10 hits over seven-plus innings on Sunday. (AP)Aug 1-2 (NYY @ CWS)—After losing two straight games for the first time since before the All-Star break, the Yankees were looking to stop the streak.  However, A.J. Burnett (L, 10-5; 4.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 4 K) had one of his worst outings of the year and was only kept in the game because the bullpen had been used so much in the previous couple of games.  Phil Coke gave up 6 R and increased his ERA from 3.77 to 4.98 in only 0.1 IP.  It was a lousy day with Mark Teixeira’s 2-R 1B in the second as the only bright spot as the Yanks lost 14-4.  Needing a lift to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the White Sox, the Yankees turned to their ace, C.C. Sabathia (W, 11-7; 7.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 5 K), who didn’t necessarily pitch that well but gave them innings as the Yankees won 8-5.  Melky Cabrera led the offense with 4 RBI and Mariano Rivera closed the game to earn his 30 S.  (Series 1-3; Record 63-42; AL East +0.5, 1st)

Aug 4--Alex Rodriguez (left) scored the game's second run, avoiding Rod Barajas. (AP)Aug 4-5 (NYY @ TOR)—Coming on the heels of a lousy series in Chicago, the Yankees traveled to Toronto to face a familiar AL East opponent for a short, two-game series.  In the first game, Andy Pettitte (W, 9-6; 6.2 IP, 4 H, R, 4 BB, 6 K) out-dueled Blue-Jay-ace Roy Halladay even though Halladay went the distance in a loss.  Johnny Damon, Teixeira, and A-Rod each chipped in with an RBI and 2 H to pace the offense as Rivera got the four-out save for his 31st and preserve the 5-3 win.  In the series finale, Sergio Mitre (ND; 4.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K) got the start and was as unproductive as in his other three, earning a no-decision as the offense bailed him out.  Damon had 3 RBI while Teixeira added another 2 RBI as Alfredo Aceves (W, 7-1) pitched well in his 2.0 IP of relief to earn the W and help the Yankees win the game 8-4.  (Series 2-0; Record 65-42; AL East +2.5, 1st)

Aug 7--Alex Rodriguez celebrates as he rounds the bases after his walk-off homer Friday.  (Getty Images)Defining Moment of the 2009 SeasonAug 6-9 (BOS @ NYY)—At this point in the season, the Yankees were playing really good baseball overall and were in first place in the AL East despite being 0-8 in the first eight games against their arch-rival Red Sox.  But the first game of the series was exactly what the Yanks needed to get the monkey/jinx/goat off their back and get the Sox out of their heads.  Boston took an early 3-1 lead against a wild Joba Chamberlain (W, 8-2; 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 7 BB, 5 K), but the offense picked up the slack and scored 8 R in the fourth, highlighted by 3-R HR by both Melky Cabrera and Jorge Posada, off an ineffective, future HOF-er John Smoltz.  With that outburst, the Yankees cruised to their first win of the season against the Red Sox 13-6 and really set the tone for the rest of the series.  The second game saw one of the best pitching duels these two clubs have ever had against each other.  Burnett (ND; 7.2 IP, H, 0 R, 6 BB, 6 K) got the start but was long out of the game by the time it ended. Even though the game was scoreless through fourteen and a half innings, it felt as if the Yanks were out-playing the Sox.  And in the bottom of the fifteenth, A-Rod smashed a two-out 2-1 curveball to left-center field for a 2-R HR and a 2-0 win, giving the Yanks their tenth walk-off win of the season.  In the third game, while Boston was still smarting from the previous night, the Yankees sent their ace, Sabathia (W, 12-7; 7.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K), to the mound who pitched a dandy and shutout the Sox 5-0 in a dominant performance.  Derek Jeter picked up 2 RBI with a 2-R HR in the eighth to led the Yankee offense.  With the series finale on national TV, the Yankees took advantage of the big stage.  Again, the game was a shutout for both teams going into the seventh inning when A-Rod homered to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead.  But in the top of the eighth after Coke relieved Pettitte (ND; 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K), Victor Martinez absolutely crushed a pitch for a 2-R HR to give the Red Sox, what seemed like, a huge lift after a tough series.  However, in the bottom of the inning, Damon and Teixeira went back-to-back with solo HR of their own to retake the lead at 3-2.  Aug 9--Mark Teixeira celebrates after his go-ahead homer in the eighth on Sunday.  (AP)While the Yankees would add two more R in the inning, the psychological damage was done and Rivera pitched the ninth for his 32 S and closed out a 5-2 Yankee win.  After starting the season 0-8 against the Sox, the Yankees finally clawed back into the rivalry and swept the four-game series to take a commanding lead in the division.  (Series 4-0; Record 69-42; AL East +6.5, 1st)

Aug 12--A.J. Burnett greets Robinson Cano with a celebratory pie to the face. (AP)Aug 10-12 (TOR @ NYY)—After such an emotionally draining series, as most Red Sox/Yankees series are, the Yanks had a little bit of a let down when they faced the Blue Jays the next night.  Mitre (L, 1-1; 6 H, 5 R/3 ER, BB, 6 K), who was the only starter not to see action in the Yanks/Sox series, took the mound in the first game of this series, but didn’t pitch very well and earned his first decision in almost a month, albeit a loss.  Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Jerry Hairston Jr. each hit solo HR, but it wasn’t enough as the Yanks fell 5-4, which also snapped their 7-game winning streak.  In the second game, the Yankees pounded out 7 XBH, including a game-tying HR by Hideki Matsui followed by a go-ahead HR by Posada, both in the eighth inning, to pace the Yanks’ 7-5 win.  A shaky Chamberlain (ND; 6.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 5 K) pitched okay but earned the no-decision while Rivera threw an un-Mo-like ninth inning but still earned his 33 S of the season.  The rubber match saw another exciting finish.  Well after Burnett (ND; 6.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K) left with the game tied at 3-3 in the seventh, the Yankees finished their eleventh walk-off win 4-3 when Cano singled home A-Rod in the bottom of the eleventh.  (Series 2-1; Record 71-43; AL East +5.5, 1st)

Aug 13--CC Sabathia allowed three hits over eight innings and fanned 10. (Getty Images)Aug 13-16 (NYY @ SEA)—Coming off another great home stand, including a monumental four-game sweep of the Red Sox, the Yankees headed to the left coast for a four-game set in Seattle.  For the first game of the series, the Yankees showed that they remembered to pack their bats as they crushed the Mariners 11-1.  Sabathia (W, 13-7; 8.0 IP, 3 H, R, 2 BB, 10 K) was his dominant self and Matsui led the offense with 5 RBI against the M’s and his fellow countryman, Ichiro Suzuki.  In the second game, Pettitte (ND; 6.0 IP, 2 R, B, 10 K) continued the trend of good starting pitching but earned a no-decision as the offense used a ninth-inning HR by Teixeira to win 4-2.  Rivera came in to pitch a perfect ninth inning to earn his 34 S and lower his ERA to 1.98.  After moving to 30 games above .500 for the high watermark of the season the night before, the Yankees followed it up with a win in the third game of the series.  Mitre (W, 2-1; 5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R/1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) led the charge with a terrific outing and Jeter and Nick Swisher chipped in 2 RBI each.  Rivera closed out the 5-2 win to earn his 35 S.  In the series finale, the Mariners didn’t get the memo and beat the Yankees 10-3, ruining Jeter’s milestone of most hits by a shortstop in baseball history after his RBI 2B in the third.  Chamberlain (L, 8-3; 5.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K) didn’t pitch well, but the bullpen wasn’t much better as the Yankees used two relievers, each surrendering multiple earned runs, which broke their five-game winning streak.  (Series 3-1; Record 74-44; AL East +7.5, 1st)

Aug 18--Derek Jeter, who had three hits, delivers a go-ahead RBI single in the sixth. (AP)Aug 17-19 (NYY @ OAK)—Continuing their west-coast trip, the A’s handed the Yankees a 3-0 shutout and their only consecutive-games losing streak of the month at two.  Burnett (L, 10-6; 8.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K) was the only pitcher used, but the Yankees lost to their former teammate Brett Tomko, who was claimed off waivers by Oakland earlier in the month.  In the second game, the Yankees turned on the offensive jets as they blasted the A’s 7-2, led by Jeter who went 3-5 with R and RBI.  Sabathia (W, 14-7; 8.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, BB, 7 K) continued his post-All-Star-beak dominance and helped the Yankees become the first team in baseball to 75 wins on the season.  In the rubber match, the Yankees got shutout baseball from Chad Gaudin (ND; 4.1 IP, H, 0 R, 5 BB, 5 K) in his first start, but Aceves got the win after relieving Gaudin in the fifth and despite allowing the only 2 R of the game.  Teixeira knocked in all three Yankee runs on an RBI ground out in the first and 2-R HR in the fourth as the Yankees won 3-2.  (Series 2-1; Record 76-45; AL East +7.0, 1st)

Aug 21--Hideki Matsui hits the first of his two home runs on Friday. (MLB.com)Aug 21-23 (NYY @ BOS)—To complete their lengthy road trip, the Yankees traveled to Boston for the final big divisional test of the season.  In the first game, a slugfest ensued, and, despite giving up 7 R in only 5.0 IP, Pettitte (W, 10-6; 5.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R/5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) earned the W when the offense erupted for their most runs of the season.  Fortunately, this outburst was against the Red Sox in Boston and helped the Yankees increase their divisional lead.  Matsui, who has been a Red Sox killer seemingly his entire career, led the Yankee onslaught with 7 RBI on 2 HR.  Teixeira added 3 RBI of his own while Jeter, Posada, and Cabrera had 2 RBI each as the Yankees won 20-11.  The second game went entirely the other way as Burnett (L, 10-7; 5.0 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 2 BB, 6 K) continued to struggle on the road and especially against the Red Sox.  The Yankees pounded out 12 H but only R while their pitching got slapped around on the way to a 14-1 loss.  In the rubber match, the Yankee offense woke up again, smashing 5 HR against Josh Beckett on their way to an 8-4 win.  Matsui had another 2 HR while Jeter, Cano, and A-Rod also hit home runs.  Sabathia (W, 15-7; 6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R/3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) pitched well and Phil Hughes and Rivera got the final outs to preserve the win.  (Series 2-1; Record 78-46; AL East +7.5, 1st)

Aug 26--Andy Pettitte struck out seven and walked three in seven innings on Wednesday. (AP)Aug 25-27 (TEX @ NYY)—After such an emotionally draining series against the Red Sox, the Yankees gladly took the day off to rest up for the Rangers.  But the first game of the series didn’t go necessarily as planned as Chamberlain (L, 8-4; 4.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 5 K) was terrible, effectively ending his starting role as was presently established.  After this game, he would still start, but never with the idea of pitching enough innings to earn a win, assuming the Yankees would be leading when he left.  However, trailing 10-5 in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees almost completed a miracle comeback after the first six Yankees reached base safely, with four scoring.  But the rally was killed when Swisher failed to bunt the tying and go-ahead runs to third and second, respectively, and Cabrera then hit into an unassisted double play to end the game with a 10-9 loss.  In the second game, Pettitte (W, 11-6; 7.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 7 K) pitched well and the Yankees won 9-2, powered by a clicking offense and Posada’s 3 RBI.  In the rubber match, Burnett (L, 10-8; 6.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 12 K) pitched well but the bullpen failed to keep the deficit at one, which hurt the Yankees’ chances of another comeback win and they eventually lost 7-2.  With the loss, the Yanks dropped their first series overall since they lost in Chicago earlier in the month, and they dropped their first home series since the Washington Nationals beat them in June.  (Series 1-2; Record 79-48; AL East +6.0, 1st)

Aug 28--Robinson Cano watches the flight of his game-winning homer in the 10th. (AP)Aug 28-30 (CWS @ NYY)—Whether motivated by revenge or just a desire to win, the Yankees took the first game of the series against the White Sox in dramatic fashion.  With the game tied at 2-2 in the tenth inning after Sabathia (ND; 7.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, B, 10 K) delivered a great pitching performance, Cano hit a game-winning 3-R HR that gave the Yanks its twelfth walk-off win of the season and a 5-2 victory.  The offense really shone in the second game backed by the best outing Mitre (W, 3-1; 6.1 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 2 K) had in a Yankee uniform.  Damon, A-Rod, Cano, and Hairston, Jr. had 2 RBI each as the Yanks shutout the White Sox 10-0.  With a series sweep in view, the Yankees sent Chamberlain (ND; 3.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 B, K) to the mound in his new abbreviated starting role.  Joba pitched well, but Aceves (W, 9-1) got the W when he too threw 3.o IP.  Teixeira led the Yankee offense with 4 RBI as both he and Damon homered to give the Yankees an 8-3 win.  (Series 3-0; Record 82-48; AL East +6.0, 1st)

Aug 31--Nick Swisher's homer was his 12th in 77 at-bats at Camden Yards. (Getty)Aug 31 (NYY @ BAL)—After a productive month, the Yankees looked to Andy Pettitte (W, 12-6; 8.0 IP, 2 H, R, 0 BB, 8 K) to close it out strong in Baltimore.  And he almost gave them something they hadn’t seen in over a decade.  With two outs in the seventh inning, Adam Jones hit a ground ball to third baseman Hairston Jr. who misplayed it, resulting in an error and ending Pettitte’s bid at a perfect game after he retired 20 straight Oriole hitters.  Hairston probably felt awful, but Pettitte allowed the first hit to the next batter, ending his bid at a no-hitter as well, which could have been the first of his career.  With all the drama of a perfect game/no-hitter gone, the Yankees turned their attention to winning the game and scored 3 R in the top of the next inning to put it away.  After Brian Bruney allowed a few Orioles to reach base in the ninth, Rivera came in to get the final two outs for his 37 S of the season and close out the Yankees’ 5-1 win.

(August 21-7; Record 83-48; AL East +6.5, 1st)

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