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Archive for April, 2010

So, with the first month of the season done and gone, we take a look at the predictions I made at the beginning of the season compared to where the teams stand now.  The columns show the actual standings, the year-end predictions, and how the teams would have to play over the remainder of the season in order for the predictions to come true. 

For example, the Tampa Bay Rays have started so hot, that they would have to play .518 baseball the rest of the way in order for the prediction of them playing .549 baseball to come true.  There are obviously some glaring missed predictions, but I also want to get props for not jumping on the band wagon for the Mariners or the White Sox.

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April 30, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
Chi White Sox (9-14)
3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   4 8 0
NY Yankees (15-7)
2 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 X   6 7 0

This game was a perfect example of why you should never bet on baseball.  Before the game began, I looked at Andy Pettitte’s (ND; 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K, HR, 2.12 ERA) 3-0 record and 1.29 ERA and Freddy Garcia’s 0-2 record and 5.82 ERA and thought that the Yankees were going to just crush Garcia who, going into this game, had given up 13 H and 10 BB in just 17 IP.  But right away, despite both Alexei Ramirez and Gordan Beckham getting into 0-2 counts, both blooped 1B to RF, and after Alex Rios flew out to deep center, Paul Konerko, MLB’s current HR leader on this season, hit a pop fly that scraped the top of the RF wall for a 3-R HR.  And just like that, it was 3-0 White Sox.  Amazing.  Also, of the 26 pitches Pettitte threw in the 1st, only 5 were for balls, and no batter was thrown more than 1.  But a scuffling White Sox lineup was able to punch together a few H and a few R for the early lead.  That’s baseball.

The offense was led by the Captain as he went 3-4 with 1B, 3B, & HR.  Of his 3 H, 2 produced 2 RBI each, including a 2-R game-tying HR in the 5th and a 2-R 3B that drove in the go-ahead runs in the 7th.  Brett Gardner picked up 2 H, but both Nick Johnson, who was pinch-hit for in the 7th by Jorge Posada, and Mark Teixeira went 0-2 as their struggles continued and their AVG decreased to .138 and .136, respectively.

The bullpen held this time as Alfredo Aceves (W, 2-0; 1.0 IP, H, BB) earned his second W of the season.  Both Damaso Marte and Joba Chamberlain were perfect to the batters they faced in the 8th, and Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect 1-2-3 9th with 2 K to pick up his 7 S.

Game Notes: Cano picked up an RBI-1B in the 1st to extend his hitting streak to 9 straight games, and hit the ball really hard two other times but right at fielders…A-Rod also drove in a 1st-inning R with a booming double to LF to break his 0-19 slide…This is the first game in which Jeter has driven in 4 R since Sept 2006…With the S, Rivera tied Eric Gagne for an MLB-record 51st straight S at home.

Month Notes: As the Yankees close out the first month of the year, they have to be happy with a 15-7 record even though they find themselves in second place in the division behind the amazing Tampa Bay Rays who finish the season at 17-6.  At the beginning of the month, I predicted that I would be happy if the Yankees finished the month at .500 with what looked like a very difficult schedule.  But I was way off in my earlier prediction—I would be never be happy with a .500 record. 

(AL East -1.5, 2nd; 6-4, W3; Home 6-1, Road 9-6)

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April 29, 2010
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NY Yankees (14-7)
1 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0   4 11 0
Baltimore (4-18)
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 3 0

Despite the Yankees only scoring 4 R, and with the Orioles’ dour body language coupled with the dominant pitching by AJ Burnett (W, 3-0; 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K, 2.43 ERA), this game felt like a blowout from the 1st inning when Derek Jeter scored on a SF by A-Rod.  The last time I remember seeing a team with such a weak stomach for competition as the Orioles do has to be in 2003 when the Detroit Tigers went a paltry 43-119, the worst season in the team’s 109-year history.  And after watching how easily this Baltimore team goes down, even after winning the first game of the series on Tuesday, I don’t know if they will even win that many games this year.

As I mentioned, Burnett was great as he was able to spot his fastball and work off of that with his other pitches.  And even though he’s not pitching against a very good team, he still looked really good and improved his record to 3-0, which is his best start of season in his career.  Mariano Rivera, who hadn’t worked much in the last week, pitched a scoreless ninth even though it was not a save situation.

As for the offense, you can’t begin anywhere else than with the red-hot Robinson Cano who went 3-4 with 2 solo-HR and a 2B to raise his league-leading AVG to .407.  He is so locked in so far this year that 5 of his 8 HR have come against lefties.  Compared to Cano, no one else in the Yankee lineup seems to be hitting even remotely how they should, but Marcus Thames has been a nice addition to the club who went 3-3 tonight and is hitting .588 on the season, albeit only against left-handed pitching.  But with this kind of production, I don’t see how the Yanks can possibly put Nick Johnson back in the lineup whenever they face a lefty.

Well, the Yanks did what they needed to against the Orioles after losing the first game of the series and head home (finally) to take on the wholly underwhelming White Sox for what should be the beginning of a productively fun six-game home stand. 

(AL East -2.5, 2nd; 6-4, W2; Home 5-1, Road 9-6)

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April 28, 2010
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NY Yankees (13-7)
2 3 1 0 1 1 0 0 0   8 15 0
Baltimore (4-17)
0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0   3 11 1

 This was the type of game that the Yankees needed in order to bounce back from the terrible loss yesterday.  Everybody was hitting early and often and CC Sabathia (W, 3-1; 7.2 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K, HR, 3.12 ERA), who had rediscovered his change-up, was able to stymie the Baltimore offense despite allowing 11 H over 7.2 solid IP.

Nick Swisher led the offensive force by going 3-5 with a 3B, 2 RBI, and 2 R.  Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Francisco Cervelli (who replaced the injured Jorge Posada after he was HBP, Curtis Granderson, and Brett Gardner each added 2 H of their own.  Heck, even Nick Johnson found a hole and picked up a hit to go 1-4 and raise hit AVG to .143.  I guess that’s one good thing about having a sub-.200 AVG, you can go 1-5 and still manage to increase it—just ask Mark Teixeira.

Game notes: The Yankees have now homered in 16 consecutive games at Camden Yards, the most by any team. 

(AL East -2.5, 2nd; 6-4, W1; Home 5-1, Road 8-6)

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April 27, 2010
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NY Yankees (12-7)
0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2   4 9 2
Baltimore (4-16)
0 1 0 0 0 3 0 1 X   5 7 2

What in the what is going on here?  Of all the lousy crap, it was the Yankees’ bullpen that imploded and not the Orioles’, although they almost did give it up in the 9th.  Phil Hughes (ND, 2-0; 5.2 IP, 2 H, R, 4 BB, 2 K, 2.00 ERA) didn’t look like he had anything tonight and he still managed to pitch 5.2 IP of only 2-H, R baseball.  And then Joe Girardi brought in the usually reliable David Robertson (BS 2, L, 0-1; 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, K, 10.80 ERA) to get the final out in the 6th after Boone Logan BB the only batter he faced, and he completely shat on the rug.  And now the Yanks are losers of 4 of their last 5.  I can see how they would lose the series against their perennial-nemesis Angels, but losing this type of game to the freaking Orioles who pick up only their fourth W of the season and we’re almost to May, again, I ask, “What!?”

The vaunted Yankee offense started to come alive in the 9th, but then A-Rod’s sharp grounder up the middle that would have produced the game-tying R was fielded by the perfectly placed second baseman, who got the force on Mark Teixeira at 2B, and that’s the ball game.  Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher both went 3-4, however.

Ugh! 

(AL East -2.5, 2nd; 6-4, L2; Home 5-1, Road 7-6)

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April 25, 2010
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NY Yankees (12-6)
0 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   4 3 0
LA Angels (10-10)
0 0 1 4 0 0 3 0 0   8 7 0

With a chance to even his record at 2-2 and totally restart his season in the minds of Yankees fans, Javier Vazquez (L, 1-3; 3.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 3 K, HR, 9.00 ERA) continued to throw up slop and struggled in his fourth start of the year.  I don’t think his fastball ever got over 90 MPH and, although he was locating his curveball early, the patient Angels hitters starting catching up to it and taking what he was giving them.  Despite giving up only 7 H to the Angels, the Yankees pitching staff allowed 8 ER, the most crushing of which was a 3-R HR Damaso Marte gave up to the perennial Yankee-killer Kendry Morales on a 3-0 pitch that essentially put the game away for Anaheim in the 7th.

I thought that a potential momentum-building point in the game came early in the 2nd inning when Angels starter Scott Kazmir tried to hit Robinson Cano on the first pitch to lead off the inning.  But after just missing inside, Kazmir’s next pitch drilled Cano in the backside, which left the fans and the announcers wondering why Kazmir would try to hit him on purpose so early in the game and to lead off the inning, even though it was definitely on purpose.  At the time, I thought it was perhaps because the Angels were still not happy that Mark Teixeira had put their catcher from Friday’s game on the DL, and so in typical retaliatory baseball fashion, they went after the other team’s best hitter, who currently arguably is Cano.  Anyway, Robbie jogged down to first and on the very next pitch, Jorge Posada crushed a ball to dead-CF for a 2-R HR.

But as it typically is in Anaheim, the Yanks blew another good lead as Vazquez couldn’t get out of the 4th and the Yankee offense kind of fell asleep after scoring their early runs.  This was a disappointing loss as I still think the Yanks are a much better team than the Angels, but this is how the series seem to go between these two teams.

Next it’s on to Baltimore where the Yanks will first visit President Obama in the Whitehouse tomorrow on their off-day and then begin a three-game series against the struggling O’s on Tuesday.  In their next nine games, the Yanks face Baltimore for three, the White Sox for three at home, and the host the Orioles for three.  A reasonable person might say that the Yankees should win six or seven, but I will be sorely disappointed if they don’t win at least eight.

Game notes: With the loss, the Yankees lose their first series of the year, which wasn’t completely unexpected, but with the way this team has been playing lately, it seems as if they should win every game, if not every series…Take a look at the picture for the game on Apr 23.  Do you see something strangely familiar about it? 

(AL East -1.5, 2nd; 7-3, L1; Home 5-1, Road 7-5)

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April 24, 2010
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NY Yankees (12-5)
0 1 0 3 2 0 1 0 0   7 14 0
LA Angels (9-10)
0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   1 7 0

Andy Pettitte (W, 3-0; 8.0 IP, 6 H, R, 0 BB, 8 K, 1.29 ERA) has seemed to really enjoy pitching to the Angels lately because he has been nothing but stellar since the ALCS last season and has beaten them twice this season, including today.  He has been spectacular and has received a lot of offensive support to go along with his gleaming 1.29 ERA.

Speaking of the offense, Robinson Cano had his first 4-H game of the season and Brett Gardner went 3-5 with 2 R scored as he filled in for the ailing Nick Johnson in the No. 2 spot in the lineup.  But the big AB of the game was in the 4th when Francisco Cervelli came to the plate with the bases loaded, and with two outs, he smacked a 1-1 pitch to LF to drive in 2 R to give the Yanks a 3-0 lead.  While the offense would add four more R on good two-out hitting the rest of the game, the momentum seemed to shift on that H by Cervelli, who also caught a great game.

It was a nice pick-me-up type of game for New York as they go for the series win tomorrow by pitting Javier Vazquez against the Angels’ Scott Kazmir.  (AL East -0.5, 2nd; 7-3, W1; Home 5-1, Road 7-4)

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