I haven’t had much time to blog lately since I began studying for the CPA exam while trying to keep up with my P90X regiment, but I felt like I had to after witnessing the performance last night of one of the most hyped pitchers ever. 

I recorded the local MASN feed because I felt like the local broadcasters could give a more in-depth and educated analysis than the national broadcasters can because the national guys are forced to pander to an audience with mostly a very shallow knowledge of both Strasburg and baseball in general and would probably have to spend their time trying to explain why a 90-MPH curveball is so special instead of being able to comment on the pitch selection as a whole.  And even though Bob Carpenter and especially former major-league-pithcer and “Nasty-Boy” Rob Dibble can come across as homers at times, it was really fun to hear their reaction with each K, especially as Strasburg struck out the final seven batters he faced!  I think on the last K in the 7th, Dibble actually yelped in excitement and could be heard clapping in the background.  I’ll forgive the obscene cheering for this occasion, but there really shouldn’t be cheering in the broadcast booth, in my opinion.

As I was coming home from work yesterday, I felt like a little kid who wakes up early on the weekend anxiously awaiting Saturday-morning cartoons.  And despite the hype, Strasburg was everything I anticipated and more.  I expected him to have a decent debut, but I didn’t expect him to have a line like this: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 14 K, HR, 2.57 ERA.  The numbers that really stand out are not only the 14 strikeouts but also the fact that he didn’t allow a single BB.  That’s amazing.  I’m excited to see him pitch again in his next start.

May 26, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
NY Yankees (28-18) 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1   3 5 0
Minnesota (26-20) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0   2 6 0

It seems as if at least the starting pitching has rediscovered its groove even if the offense still has not.  Andy Pettitte (W, 6-1; 8.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 4 K, 2.62 ERA) was terrific, giving the Yanks 8.0 strong IP, and Nick Swisher’s solo HR in the top of the 9th gave Pettitte the W as Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect bottom of the frame to earn his 10 S of the season and give the Yanks their first winning streak in over a week and a half.

Swisher’s bomb in the 9th off of Twins’ closer John Rauch was very impressive, but so was the fact that the Yanks’ last three W have all been by R, which is interesting considering that they started the season 0-3 in 1-R G. 

I think the main reason is that Joe Girardi seems to be trusting his pitching more than he has in the last few weeks and the trust has resonated with the pitchers as they have really come through in clutch situations.  Case in point: in the bottom of the 8th, the Twins had runners at 1B and 3B and no one out, but Girardi decided to stick with Pettitte rather than call on the bullpen.  And by doing so, Pettitte caught the line drive from Orlando Hudson for the first out and then got Joe Mauer to GIDP to end the threat.

(AL East -3.5, 2nd; 4-6, W2; Home 13-6, Road 15-12)

May 26, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
NY Yankees (27-18) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0   1 5 0
Minnesota (26-19) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0 6 0

In a bizarre game that began last night and finished earlier today due to a rain suspension after the 5th inning, the Yankees got a much-needed victory, and AJ Burnett (W, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 3.55 ERA) picked up the W despite not throwing a single pitch today. 

Derek Jeter provided all the offense the Yanks would need by hitting a 6th-inning HR that allowed Burnett to be the winning pitcher of record, and the bullpen made it stand up.  David Robertson tried to give it up in bottom of the 6th, but Jeter made a spectacular defensive play to rob Delmon Young of a 2-RBI 1B and preserve the lead for New York.  Joba Chamberlain pitched 1.1 IP of scoreless baseball and Mariano Rivera made it interesting again but earned his 9 S of the year.  JJ Hardy led off the 9th and crushed a ball to LF that looked like a game-tying HR, but the cavernous new Target Field didn’t yield another HR, and after BB Jim Thome, Rivera got Denard Span to GIDP to end the game.

Game Notes: Jeter’s HR was the first HR the Yanks have hit on the road in 6 games, which is the longest stretch on the road without hitting a HR since 1982…After beginning the season 0-3 in 1-R G, the Yanks last 2 W are from the 1-R variety.

(AL East -4.5, 2nd; 4-6, W1; Home 13-6, Road 14-12)

May 23, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
NY Yankees (26-18) 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3   4 10 1
NY Mets (22-23) 0 4 0 0 2 0 0 0 X   6 11 0

With another disappointing performances from one of their starting pitchers, the Yankees took another one to the chin and left Citi Field with 2 L versus W against a crappy Mets club that is going nowhere and is currently last place in the NL East.  And this is a true result of how badly this team is going.  CC Sabathia (L, 4-3; 5.0 IP, 10 H, 6 R/5 ER, 2 BB, 6 K,  2 HR, 3.86 ERA) could only go 5 IP while the bullpen was terrific going 3.0 IP, allowing only H and K.  And to make matters worse, the Yanks couldn’t do anything against Johan Santana.

If the Yankees hope to win a series soon, they are going to have to sort out a few things, beginning with their starting pitching.  The things that were their rock in the first few weeks of the season have turned completely around, including both the pitching and the offense.  Usually when the team is going south, the Yankees are able to turn it around with the long ball, which they didn’t have in this series.  And now they go to Minnesota for a tough 3-G set, which will be a good test to see how badly they are struggling or if they can continue their recent dominance over the Twins.

(AL East -6.0, 2nd; 4-6, L2; Home 13-6, Road 13-12)

May 22, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
NY Yankees (26-17) 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0   5 11 0
NY Mets (21-23) 2 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 X   3 12 0

Phil Hughes (L, 5-1; 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 2.72 ERA) was having a hard time putting Mets hitters away, and Yankees batters were (again!) having a hard time capitalizing on R-scoring opportunities.  The Mets scored all 5 of their R with 2 outs, and somehow the struggling David freaking Wright drove in 2 RBI despite striking out for his league-leading 57th time. 

This was another of many recent games that have been frustrating to watch.  But I don’t know if the offense is putting too much pressure on themselves in those potential-RBI situations or if they just stink right now.  But they need to get it together if they want to start turning things around.

(AL East -5.0, 2nd; 4-6, L1; Home 13-6, Road 13-11)

May 21, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
NY Yankees (26-16) 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0   2 8 1
NY Mets (20-23) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1   1 4 1

It seems like over the last few weeks, the Yankees have either taken an L or a W accompanied with bad news.  This game was the latter of the two.  Javier Vazquez (W, 3-4; 6.0 IP, H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K, 6.69 ERA), who had pitched well in his last two appearances, again looked really good, allowing only H in 6 IP.  But, as is the case with the Yanks lately, he had to leave the game in the 7th, having thrown only 70 pitches, due to an injury after fouling a ball off his right index finger while attempting a sac bunt.  Vazquez is currently listed as day-to-day, and Joe Girardi is hopeful that he will make his next start, but my goodness, can the Yankees have any worse luck?

The offense was provided by an unexpected source in AAA-callup Kevin Russo, who grew up a Yankee fan.  In his first AB, Russo got his 1st major-league H, but the real damage was done in the 7th when, after Nick Swisher 1B to open the frame and moved to 3B on the throwing error by Alex Cora that also allowed Francisco Cervelli to get to 2B, Russo 2B down the RF line to drive in both Yankee R.  After Vazquez bunted Russo over to 3B (the same bunt that Vazquez injured his finger), neither Derek Jeter nor Mark Teixeira could get the job done and score him.

Joba Chamberlain came into the game in the 7th and pitched well, retiring all five batters he faced, including the final two outs in that inning and a perfect 8th.  In the 9th, Mariano Rivera induced 2 quick outs, but then got hit pretty hard and allowed back-to-back 2B by Jason Bay and Ike Davis before retiring David Wright on a G4 to earn his first S in several weeks and 8th of the season.

(AL East -4.0, 2nd; 5-5, W1; Home 13-6, Road 13-10)

May 20, 2010
   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9        R   H   E 
Tampa Bay (30-11) 3 0 0 1 2 1 0 1 0   8 11 1
NY Yankees (25-16) 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 0 2   6 10 1

This is a game that the Yanks should have and could have won, had they been able to capitalize on the many chances to knock a runner in from 3B with less than 2 outs.  But they also couldn’t overcome Andy Pettitte’s (L, 5-1; 5.0 IP, 9 H, 7 R/6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3 HR, 2.68 ERA) rough start, in which he allowed 3 HR, including one of the most effortless I’ve ever seen to a R-hander, in Ben Zobrist, that ended up in the RF seats, which just happened to be his 1st HR of the season, proving that if you haven’t hit a HR yet this year, just come to Yankee Stadium where HR seems to be on the menu.

Again, the offense couldn’t do the simple things, when, in the 3rd, with runners on 2B and 3B and no one out, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Robinson Cano all went down in order and couldn’t give the Yankees their first (and only) lead of this two-game set with Tampa Bay. 

All in all, this was a tough series for the Yanks as they lost 2 G in the standings against a terrific Rays team and now they’ll have to figure out how to get them back somewhere down the road.  However, these 4 G at home against the Red Sox and Rays are very reminiscent of May 4-7, 2009 when they lost all 4 G at home to these same clubs; and that team won the World Series.  So who knows?

Game Notes:  The Yankees completed their first losing home stand of the season at 3-4…New York scored 6 or more R in their 3 straight losses at home.

(AL East -5.0, 2nd; 4-6, L3; Home 13-6, Road 12-10)