Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Yankees on the march! The Bombers have now won 12 of their last 15 games, to improve to 27-20, tying for first place in the AL East.
The key for the Yankees was its offense which produced 15 hits, 4 home runs and 9 runs against the Rangers on Wednesday night. Mark Teixeira once again delivered, this time a two run blast that cleared the wall in left field to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. In the third, Derek Jeter lined a double down the left field line to bring in Kevin Cash to make it 3-0 Bombers.
A. J. Burnett bounced back from a mediocre outing against the Phillies last week, giving the Yankees six strong innings of three hit ball. Burnett struck out seven Rangers, surrendering only one hit combined between Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Josh Hamilton, the heart of the Rangers powerful lineup.
Hideki Matsui awoke from his slump, blasting a solo shot to right field to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead. Later in the seventh, Matsui went deep again, this one a two run bomb to right to give New York a 8-0 lead, all but placing the cap on this one. Box Score.
Big news tonight for the Yankees: Chein-Ming Wang pitched two no hit innings for the Yankees in the eighth and ninth innings. He struck out two Rangers and showed great movement on his pitches. He even reached as high as 92 MPH on the radar gun. With Wang's inspiring outing, talk will begin to heat up even more about moving Wang back into the rotation, and, possibly, moving Joba Chamberlain back into the bullpen.
Chamberlain is 2-1 with a 3.97 ERA as a starter this year and struggled on Tuesday night in a 7-3 loss to Texas. Only once this year has Chamberlain pitched longer than six innings, so it might be time to put him back in the pen where he was so successful in 2007. The fact that Phil Hughes has been pitching well lately adds to the complications that Yankee management is facing, but as the old saying goes, this is a good problem to have.
Controversy appears to stalk the Mets these days. For the fourth time in five days umpires have had to review another home run, and, for the fourth straight time, the ruling came in favor of the Mets. If there is one team that will endorse replay at the end of the season, the Mets might be that team.
In a game that followed many twists and turns, Daniel Murphy's home run, or phantom double, was the difference tonight. In the sixth inning, with Gary Sheffield on base, and Jordan Zimmerman once again mastering the Mets by holding them to three runs in the game's first five innings, controversy struck. Murphy blasted a pitch to the deep, well-shaped wall in right field. The ball appeared to have died in front of the Subway restaurants sign which makes up part of the large overhang in right. The ball fell off the Modell's store sign a few feet below and dropped to the ground.
Sheffield scored easily, but there remained a question: Was it a home run for the struggling Murphy?
The umpires took a look at it in replay and subsequently ruled that the ball had hit the Subway sign, ricocheted off that and bounced to the ground, making it a home run. Still, there is some debate. Late in the SNY broadcast, intrepid reporter Kevin Burkhard reported that fans in the upper deck noticed that the ball never hit the Subway sign. Ah me; I suppose this ruling constitutes the biggest controversy to occur at Flushing since Keith Hernandez's let loose his wicked lugie at Kramer and Newman in an episode of Seinfeld. Back and to the left. Back and to the left.
As for the other moments in this crazy affair, ace Johan Santana was inconsistent. He threw too many pitches, 120 to be exact, and was never in command of his fastball, giving up a 500 foot home run to Adam Dunn to mark the longest homer in CitiField history; nonetheless, he still found a way to strike out 11 Nationals and pitch six innings for his seventh victory of the season.
As for Dunn, his night was nutty too. Other then the gigantic bomb fired off Santana's fastball, he made a bid for his second blast of the night, but the ball died in front of the right field fence; instead, it appeared in the glove of rookie Fernando Martinez for a very long out. Then, in the sixth, he was underneath Murphy's controversial home run and thought that the ball was going to bounce off the Modell's sign so he could make a play on it, but it never happened the way he anticipated.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
It took a while, but baseball's new home run video replay rule is starting to create controversy by settling disputes on the field.
With the score tied at one, Gary Sheffield took a 2-1 pitch from lefty John Lannan and blasted a shot to the left field wall. The ball was interfered with by a foolhardy fan who thought that sticking his glove out to catch it was a better idea than finishing his hot dog.
The initial ruling: three run home run. Nationals manager Manny Acta stormed out of the dugout and asked for a challenge. Through several replays it was quite clear that the ball was interfered with which would mean no home run. If the fan had not interfered, the ball probably would have grazed the wall and fallen to the ground for an easy two run double.
Nonetheless, the umpires upheld the initial home run call. The Mets took the 4-1 lead, and, eventually, held on for the 5-2 victory. Box Score.
These challenges are becoming a bit much. For starters, umpires take forever to make a decision. Santos' home run on Saturday took close to five minutes to review. Earlier in the year, the umps took about seven minutes to review a home run during a Yankees' game. Perhaps baseball should consider capping the amount of time umpires can take to review the play? In the NFL, where replay is best executed, officials only have two minutes to review a play and come to a decision.
Wouldn't it be nice to mike the umpires so they can explain to the rest of us their decision? In the NFL, officials give a detailed explanation for their rulings so everyone knows what is going on. In baseball, the umpire comes charging out of the dugout and makes a quick hand signal for home run, or none. There is no explanation, and unless fans are watching on TV, they will likely miss the decision.
"It's not only that they know the system, but they know how things are done, what the expectations are, and understand that we don't accept anything but that," Ryan said. "For them, it's critical that they have to step up there leading" (qutd. Brian Costello, "Three Ex-Ravens Helping Ryan Get Jets D Read For A Fight," New York Post).
Losing two out of three to the Philadelphia Phillies is not enough to stop the Yankee express right now. After a disappointing 4-3 loss to Philadelphia on Sunday, the Yankees turned around and made this Memorial Day a memorable one.
The Bombers pounded out 19 hits, 11 runs, 5 doubles and a triple in an 11-1 rout of the Texas Rangers. Box Score.
In the third, the Yankees went ballistic. After a Damon double and Teixeira walk, A-Rod once again delivered. This time he doubled to left to bring home Damon to make it 3-0. Robinson Cano tripled when the ball trickled down the left field line, clearing the bases to make it 5-0 Bombers.
Finally, in the sixth, Teixeira and A-Rod went for a third helping. This time, Teixeira's single to right center drove in Jeter, and A-Rod's bases clearing double gave the Yankees an outstanding 10-0 lead.
Phil Hughes, who was once rumored to be heading back to the minors with Chien Ming Wang now back from the DL, was brilliant. Hughes went eight shut out innings, giving up only three hits to one of baseball's best offensive teams. Hughes is now 3-2 with a 5.16 ERA this season. He also improved to 2-0 against the Rangers with a sparkling 0.00 ERA in both starts.
Friday, May 22, 2009
If someone told you that the New York Mets would go to Boston without the services of Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes, that they would have Dan Murphy leading off, and Ryan Church batting second. That Ramon Martinez would start at short, Jeremy Reed would start in center field, and Johan Santana was going into the game with a 6.98 career ERA at Fenway, you probably bet that the Mets would lose.
As ESPN's Chris Berman likes to say, "THAT'S WHY THEY PLAY THE GAME!"
Santana was brilliant against the Sox, getting stronger with each inning, and even shouting back at Boston's boisterous first baseman Kevin Youklis after Youklis leaned into one of Santana's pitches in the fifth inning. Santana was great: seven innings, six hits, three runs, two earned runs and eight strike outs. He made the Red Sox look foolish all night long, in what was his most important start of the year, considering the Mets were reeling from insult and injury.
Hey! New York Yankees, now you know why the Philadelphia Phillies give the cross town Mets nightmares.
The World Champions homered four times off of Yankee pitching, making the new Yankee Stadium into their own little play pen, as they took game one 7-3. The Phils got off to a fast start when Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a solo home run to the very, very, very short porch in right field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead.
The second inning was more of the same. With Matt Stairs already on base, Carlos Ruiz blasted a two run shot to left to make it 3-0 Philly. A. J. Burnett, who came into the game with a five ERA for the Yankees, never had it tonight. In six innings Burnett gave up eight hits and five runs, inclulding three home runs. Burnett falls to 2-2 with an ERA of 5.28.
With the Phillies up 5-0, Alex Rodriguez blasted his sixth home run of the year to cut the deficit to 5-1. However, the Phillies, as they always do, never gave in. Raul Ibanez who is having an All Star season hit his 16th home run to right off of Chien Ming Wang. Wang made his return from the DL to pitch in some long relief for the Yankees strapped bullpen. I guess Wang must wish that he stayed on the DL for a couple more days.
In the eighth the Philles got to Wang. Pedro Feliz led off the inning with a single, and Rollins singled to left to move Feliz to third. Finally, Chase Utley drove in Feliez with a single of his own to make it 7-1 Phils.
The Yankees did try to come back via the home run ball. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeria hit a couple of bombs to make it 7-3, but it was not enough. Brett Meyers went eight solid innings for Philadelphia allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out five. He is now 4-2 on the season. Box Score.
Well at least for one weekend, the dissenters of interleague play can't say anything. No it is not another version of the Subway Series, it may be even better. The Yankees will play host to the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, the same Phillies who are the Mets arch rival in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Mets travel to Boston to take on the Yankees most hated rival the Red Sox.
As for the Yankees, they have been the complete opposite of the Mets lately. The Bombers have won nine in a row, and look unstoppable right now. Mark Teixeria who was really struggling to find a some consistency at the plate now has his average up to .250, with 11 homers and 32 RBI. You can probably thank the return of Alex Rodriguez for his recent hot streak, because, with A-Rod around, the more pitches Teixeria will see from opposing pitches.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
As if it weren't bad enough to be a member of the Mets right now, not only did the Mets fall for the fourth straight time this week, they may have lost Jose Reyes in the process.
In the third inning, Reyes grounded out to second but came up limping after the out was recorded at first base. Reyes aggravated his calf muscle which has been giving him trouble this past week. Reyes limped into the clubhouse and did not return to the game. The extent of his injury is still not clear, nor is it clear how long he will be out.
Even worse is the play of the Mets offense. Ever since Carlos Delgado went down for two months with hip surgery, the Mets seem to have forgotten how to hit the ball. They are batting .218 as a team in the last four games with six runs scored and 29 hits. Uglier, the Mets are hitting .088 with runners in scoring position during this arid stretch.
If Reyes hits the DL, then the offense will continue to suffer. The Mets really don't have anyone else to call up. They already brought up Angel Pagan and Ramon Martinez to replace the injured Alex Cora and Delgado. The Mets moved Dan Murphy at first base, and he did a nice job with the glove, snaring a couple of line drives and starting a double play. First base should not be a concern, especially if Murphy continues to show prowess at first and begins to hit.
I am in a contest to become an NFL correspondent for the New York Jets via CBS Sports.com., so, in order to read those articles, click this link: Michael's Bleacher Report Page.
Here is my latest article on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Look out Toronto and Boston, here come the Yankees.
After easily sweeping the Twins Monday night, the Yankees went back to work Tuesday and destroyed the Royals to earn their seventh win in a row. Ironically, in order to earn this victory, the Yankees scored seven runs in the seventh inning to put that baby to bed.
With bases loaded, new catcher Francisco Cervelli reached on a error by Orioles short stop Robert Andino to bring home Nick Swisher, giving the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Derek Jeter followed the error with a double off the wall in center to drive in Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano, making it 5-1 Bombers. Cervelli came in to score the Yankees sixth run after center fielder Adam Jones' error when he missed the cut off man.
Johnny Damon drove in Jeter with an RBI single to center, and Mark Teixeira swung a hot bat after his two run home run to the Bleacher Creatures in right; 9-1 Yankees. Teixeria leads the Yankees with 11 home runs this season and appears more comfortable in New York with each passing day. Alex Rodriguez knoxked a two run shot earlier in the game, his fifth of the year to keep pace with his teammate. Box Score.
Speaking of being comfortable in new digs: C.C. Sabathia was brilliant again for the Yankees. The hefty lefty pitched seven terrific innings, striking out seven and allowing only one run on three hits for the night. Sabathia is now 4-3 on the year with a 3.43 ERA. It is clear that Sabathia is now comfortable in pinstrips, improving with each start.
The Yankees will look to extend their winning ways to eight games when they send Phil Hughes to the mound. Hughes has struggled this season, and it might be his last start until the Yankees feel that Chien Ming Wang is ready to come off the DL.
Who cares that Tim Redding made a good first impression in his first start with the Mets. Who cares that Gary Sheffield tied this game at two with a dribbler down the right field line to score Angel Pagan. What matters is two things for the Mets in this game against the Dodgers: (1) Injuries can kill, (2) Mental mistakes can kill even more.
The Mets played this game without the services of Jose Reyes (calf), Carlos Delgado (out two months with a labrum tear) and Alex Cora (thumb); the Metropolitans had to go with Jeremy Reed, Pagan and Ramon Martinez if they had any hope of winning, but they just couldn't get past their problems late in this game. More specifically, the substitutions cost the Mets --big time.
In the bottom of the 11, the Dodgers had loaded the bases on Mets reliever Brian Stokes. The Mets had five men in the infield, with Carlos Beltran as the extra infielder coming in from center to play second. The Mets were hoping to keep the ball in the infield so they can make a play at the plate and, maybe, maybe, make a double play to get out of the inning.
Stokes bore down large here. He was able to get Rafael Furcal to pop out to Pagan in left. Pagan made a stellar throw to home plate to keep Mark Loretta at third. The Mets appeared destined to perform a Houdini-like act of magic and slip out of the inning, but the absence of Delgado suddenly reared.
Orlando Hudson chopped one to Reed at first base. Reed correctly planted and threw the ball to Ramon Castro at home; however, Reed's throw went wide of Castro, allowing Loretta to score the winning run. If Delgado were playing, would the play at the plate be an out for the Mets? Would the Mets have gotten out of the inning safe and sound? We will never know, but the moment begs the question.
Reed can't be blamed for all of this. In the top of the 11th, after Ryan Church laced a single to lead off the inning, Pagan drilled a double into the gap. Church chugged around third and scored the go-ahead run, but there was a problem. Church never touched third base! Hello? On replay's provided by SNY, it was clear that Church walked over the bag without touching it. Dodgers manager Joe Torre spotted Church's gaff and instructed his players to challenge the play. It worked out for the Dodgers; the Mets did not score. Box Score.
What is even more interesting about Church's gaff is the fact that Mets manager Jerry Manuel did not run out of the dugout to protect his player and argue the call. He merely scowled at Church and shook his head. Some journalists, radio hosts, and fans have wondered whether Church is in Manuel's dog house since the right fielder has not seen a lot of playing time lately. This little episode will be talked about a lot in the coming days.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Just when things looked lost for the Yankees, they pull themselves right back into a game to find a way to come away with victory. In another game where Minnesota's Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau both went deep to help propel Minnesota to a 4-3 lead late in the eighth inning, the Yankees stormed back on the Minnesota's beleaguered bullpen.
In the eighth inning, Hideki Matsui smacked a ground rule double to left to get things going. Ramiro Pena came into run for Matsui, who has had hamstring injuries of late, and Derek Jeter's bunt moved Pena to third with a chance to tie the game. Mark Texiera, who enjoyed a blast today against Minnesota starter Nick Blackburn, hit a three run shot off him in the third inning, continuing to tatoo the right hander. Texieria lined a single to right to drive in Pena for his fourth RBI of the day.
Mariano Rivera did a wonderful job in relief for the Yankees, pitching two shut out innings, surrendering only two hits to the Twins to push this game into the eleventh inning. It was here that the old star's performance was overshadowed by a great performance from a newer star. Afer Texieria walked to lead off the inning, Alex Rodriguez blasted a two run home run into the bleachers in left center field to give the Yankees another come-from-behind victory, 6-4. Rodriguez's homer was his first in the new Yankee Stadium and second of the year. It was so big, his day will likely overshadow that of Teixeria who was 4 for 4 with 4 RBI.
If Teixeria and A-Rod continue to hit for the Yankees, this team will go very far this season. Box Score.
It is appears the Mets are finally turning the corner.
For the second straight night, the Mets stormed back from a huge deficit to beat back the San Francisco Giants; however, today's victory was special. It was the biggest comeback victory of the year, and it came when the Giants had their ace, Tim Linceum, on the mound; moreover, the Mets were playing without the services of Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes.
Livan Hernandez got roughed up early in this one for the Mets. He surrendered four runs in the first inning that included a Pablo Sandoval RBI single to tie the game; an RBI double by Benji Molina gave the Giants a 2-1 lead, and a two run single by Rich Aurilia positioned the San Francisco Giants in a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead.
Turned out to be the biggest pinch hit of Murphy's career. Murphy laced a single to center to drive in Church to cut the Giants lead to 5-3, giving the Mets needed confidence that they could come back and win.
Wright smacked a bases clearing double to the left field corner to tie the game at six. Wright is smoking at the plate right now; he went 3 for 5 for the day with four RBIs and has seven RBIs in this series.
Finally, in the ninth, the Mets beat up Giants closer Brian Wilson for the second straight day. Sheffield and Wright led off back- to-back singles to set up an RBI opportunity for Ryan Church. Following instructions from third base coach Razor Shines, Church laid down a bunt. The ball was picked up by Wilson who tried to get the lead runner at third; however, Wilson's throw went right past the San Francisco third baseman and trickled down the left field line. Sheffield scrambled in for the score, giving New York a 7-6 lead. Santos followed with another sacrifice fly to drive in Wright to give K-Rod some insurance.
Speaking of K-Rod, he had another easy 1-2-3 inning to earn his 11th save of the season. K-Rod has been fantastic. Unlike closers of the past for the Mets, Rodriguez does not make Met fans or players sweat. He is closing games with ease.
What can the Mets take away from the win? Well, they are starting to gel and play with a sense of determination that has not been seen from this team in a couple of years. In 2007, when the Mets went on a long West coast trip, the team played flat baseball, indicative of the kind of baseball they would play in September. In 2008, the Mets had their moments, like a three game sweep of the Yankees in old Yankee Stadium, but, overall, the Mets never really showed fans a killer instinct. It showed in September.
However in 2006, the Mets went 9-1 on a 10 game West Coast swing in the month of May that took them from Arizona to L.A. to Philadelphia. Later that year, the Mets won the NL East. So far, on this trip, the Mets are 2-0 and face Randy Johnson tomorrow, a pitcher whom the Mets have had great success against over the years. Box Score.
Friday, May 15, 2009
So much for that five game home losing streak. Now people can stop complaining about the Yankees not having any home field advantage anymore, because the Yankees found a way to beat back closer Joe Nathan and the Minnesota Twins in the Bronx, Friday night to open a ten game home stand.
The Twins tatooed Phil Hughes eary in this game. Justin Morneau blasted a solo home run to lead off the second inning to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. In the fifth, Morneau went yard again for his second solo home run of the night to make it 3-0 Twins.
But, the Yankees would not give in. Derek Jeter's solo home run in the bottom of the fifth off of Francisco Lirano made it 3-1. It was Jeter's fifth home run of the year, and it was a good sign considering that Jeter missed the Toronto series with an oblique strain earlier this week.
Still the Twins had the long ball going in their favor. Joe Mauer, who has been red hot since missing a month of the season due to rehab from off-season back surgery, blasted his fifth home run of the season to give Minnesota a 4-1 lead.
Don't tell the Yankees that this game was over. Brett Gardner, who has really been hitting well lately, slashed a ball into the left field corner. As the ball trickled around the out field, Gardner turned on the jets and scored on the inside the park home run, one of the most exciting plays in baseball.
Finally, in the ninth the Yankees completed their comeback, this time off of Twins closer Joe Nathan. Gardner once again was in the middle of it, legging out a tripple to lead off the inning. Mark Texieria followed with an RBI single to drive in Gardner to make it 4-3. Alex Rodriguez walked, Hideki Matsui struck out and Nick Swisher grounded out, placing the Yankees in a scenerio of do or die.
For some reason the Twins decided to walk Robinson Cano intentionally, which made little sense since the man that followed, Melky Cabrera is currently hitting .330 and has been delivering huge hits for the Bombers all season. I guess the Twins never got that memo. Cabrera lined a single to center; Texieria scored the tying run and Ramiro Pena scored the game winning run before the tag was ever placed on him at home plate. Box Score.
Another exciting win for the Yankees, who consistently pull rabbits out of their hats almost every night. The come from behind victories are a great sign of better days ahead for the Yankees, who have not shown the capability of coming back in games for the last couple of years. If the Yankees can keep this mojo going, they are going to be very, very tough to beat.
God must be a Met fan.
Or, maybe, it is just that May is the Mets' favorite month.
Either way, coming off a 8-7 defeat to the Atlanta Braves Wednesday and flying across the country to California, a long day's journey into night ended in grand style for the Mets as they bounced back to beat the Giants 7-4 late Thursday night.
John Maine was brilliant; the right-hander has put away his early season arm trouble and is looking more and more like the Maine of 2007 who won 15 games and was one of the Mets best pitchers. Maine went six and two-thirds, scattered seven hits and allowed only two runs. It was the best start of the year by far for Maine; he was deserving of the win, but he didn't get it.
Why might you ask? Bobby Parnell. Parnell feel apart in the eighth. Fred Lewis led off the inning with a single, Aaron Rowand walked. Both runners stole second and third on a double steal, and Juan Uribe capped it off with a RBI single to left to drive in Lewis. Parnell never settled down. After striking out Rich Aurillia, Parnell gave up a game-tying single to Edgar Renteria; a player who has made his career with big hits, i.e. his game winning hit Game Seven of the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins. Granted, this was not as big a hit, but it still had to send shivers down the spine of Mets manager Jerry Manuel, fearing that his club would get off to a flat start on a crucial 10 game road trip.
His players showed no fear, coming back on Giants closer Brian Wilson to score three runs in an exciting ninth inning. First, Beltran doubled to the left field corner, and stole third. Sheffield walked, setting the stage for Wright. Wright slapped a single to right center field. Beltran scored to give the Mets the lead.
Wright and Sheffield then put on their running shoes, pulling a double steal of their own to put runners in scoring position for a sizzling Fernando Tatis. The two steals gave the Mets seven for the game, setting a new franchise record for stolen bases in a single game.
Tatis grounded out to second, but it was Ramon Castro who ended up delivering the final blow. Castro's two run single to right field gave New York a 7-4 lead; with Francisco Rodriguez coming into the bottom of the ninth, this game was clearly over. Box Score.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
"I would say maybe a little ... [surprised]," Ryan said at his news conference this afternoon about Washington's absence. "I was disappointed. Again, it's a voluntary camp. Would I like him to be here? Absolutely, no question; I'd love for Leon to be here, and Thomas. But he chose not to be here and that's unfortunate." (Randy Lange, "Rex disappointed by Leon and Thomas Absences."
In the story, Ryan goes on to say that he expects both veteran running backs to appear at mandatory mini-camp from June 9-11."That word 'mandatory,' to me; I'm not the smartest guy, but I think you should be here. I expect him to be here and I expect Thomas to be here as well," Ryan said.
It will be interesting to see how Ryan reacts if both fail to appear in June, since it will be the first in-house crisis for the new head coach.
Both Washington and Jones are holding out because of disputes over their contract status.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
It took about 17 innings for the Mets offense to wake up, but when they did, it was not a moment too soon. After the Atlanta Braves had built a 3-0 lead going into the eighth inning of Tuesday night's game against the Mets, it appeared that New York was on its way to another dismal defeat; instead, it was an interesting comeback and victory.
Braves starter Jair Jurrijens fell apart in the eighth; he surrendered a single to light-hitting Jeremeny Reed and another single to the struggling Ryan Church to kick off the inning. Jose Reyes followed that up with a two run double off the 16 foot wall. Reyes tried to extend the double into a triple, but he was tagged out at third by Chipper Jones. Sometimes Reyes' imagination is bigger then his bite!
That was enough for Bobby Cox, who had no choice but to go to his beleagured bullpen for the rest of the night. That turned out to be the biggest mistake Cox made. In the ninth with wacky closer Mike Gonzalez on the mound, Carlos Beltran got things going with a double down the left field line. Beltran would later steal third, and Gonzalez would hit Fernando Tatis in the shoulder to put two on base. Luis Castillo, pinch hitting for Reed, hit a sacrifice fly to left to drive in Beltran to tie the game at three. Box score.
Many years ago, Pedro Martinez once asked the Yankees and their fans this simple question: "Who's your daddy?" Well, the answer to that question is not Pedro, not anymore anyhow; the final answer to that question is Roy Halladay.
The Blue Jays ace was his masterful self on Tuesday, pitching to his first complete games of the season, surrendering only five hits and a run in the effort while striking out five. Halladay is now 7-1 on the year with a 2.95 ERA. His win total now ties him with Kansas City's Zach Grenkie for most wins in the majors at this juncture in the season.
With the game scoreless in the fourth, the Blue Jays were able to load the bases on ex-teammate A.J. Burnett, who matched Halladay pitch for pitch up to this point. Blue Jays' third baseman, Scott Rolen, laced a double to left field to allow both Vernon Wells and Alex Rios to score, making it 2-0 Jays. Rod Barajas capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to right center to drive in Adam Lind with the third run of the inning.
The Yankees never really answered. Halladay had their number all night. He retired the Yankees in order in the fifth and sixth innings and got in and out of trouble in the seventh, allowing just one run. He was brilliant, but what else do you expect from the best pitcher in the game next to the Mets Johan Santana?
Aaron Hill's home run to lead off the eighth and Rolen's RBI single finished off the Yankees, as the Jays won their 23rd game of the year 5-1. Box Score.
Don't underestimate the Blue Jays; they have the best record in the American League for a reason. With great pitching from Halladay, rookie Scott Richmond, and closer/set-up man Scott Downs, the Jays can pitch with the best of them. The Jays are also loaded in the lineup with scrappy players like Lind and Marco Scutaro to go along with their two All Star outfielders in Wells and Rios. The Jays are for real, so start believing in them.
It is unfortunate for the Yankees since Jeter leads the team with seven stolen bases this season. The All Star short stop is 19 for 79 against Halladay, a .241 batting average with no homers and four RBI. More later on his status.
Both running backs Thomas Jones and Leon Washington were no shows at the Jets organized team activities Monday afternoon in Florham Park because of disputes over their contract status.
Jones, who led the AFC in rushing with 1,312 yards in 2008, skipped out on the Jets voluntary workouts in March, and there is reason to speculate that he could skip out on mandatory workouts next month if his agent Drew Rosenhaus and the Jets can't come to terms on a new deal. Currently, Jones is entering the third year of a four year $20 million contract, and apparently $5 million a year is not enough for him.
Meanwhile, Washington is entering the final year of his contract and is looking for a long term deal that could pay him as much as $6 million a season. According to the Newark Star Ledger, Washington is looking at other dynamic running backs, such as Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jaguars, who received a four year $32.8 million deal, and Chargers back-up running back Darren Sproles, who received a one year $6.621 million deal, as leverage in negotiations. Currently, the Jets are still in negotiations with Washington's agent, Alvin Keels, although nothing seems imminent.
This is a huge dilemma that the Jets can ill afford to mess up, especially with a new coaching staff entering its first year.
Eventually, Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, who has been praised as a salary cap guru throughout his 13 year tenure with the franchise, and Head Coach Rex Ryan will have to make a really, really tough decision; truth is, the decision is pretty obvious.
Pay Leon Washington his money.
Washington is too special for the Jets to let him walk to someone else after this season. The guy is a two-time Pro Bowler and he is only 26 years old. He set a franchise record last year with 2,332 all-purpose yards and proved to be the Jets greatest offensive weapon whenever he touched the football. Throughout his first three seasons with the club, Washington has been reduced to kick and punt return duty because of his ability to race past on-coming special teams' defenders. In 2008 alone, Washington had 1,231 yards with one long 94 yard touchdown against the Patriots in Week 11.
One reason the Jets have not made a commitment to Washington as an every down back has more to do with his skinny 5'8", 202 pound frame. Most running backs are in the 220 range for weight, so there has been question whether Washington can take it, but it's worth the shot. Why? Because the Jets could have their version of Tiki Barber in Washington.
Barber was not the biggest running back in the NFL and lacked the kind of size required to be an every down back, weighing in at only 205 pounds. Yet Barber put up prolific numbers in the final five years of his career; 1,387 yards in 2002, 1,216 yards in 2003, 1,518 yards in 2004, 1,860 yards in 2005, and 1,660 yards in 2006. No one was more reliable during those years for the New York Giants than Barber, and right now, no one is more reliable to the Jets than Leon Washington. He is worth every penny of a contract that could pay him up to $6 million a year.
As for Jones, he is 31 years old, and as almost everyone knows, the skills of a running back tend to deteriorate after the age of 30. No doubt, Jones had the year of his life in 2008, but for a man who has logged in 132 games and 1,949 carries, it might be time to consider other options.
One of those options is the drafting of Iowa running back and Sicklerville native Shonn Greene. Greene rushed of 1,850 yards in his senior season with a school record 20 touchdowns to boot. Greene also led the Big Ten Conference in rushing yards per game, 152.9, and was the only Division I athlete to rush for 100 yards in all 13 games. Greene is supposed to be a between the tackles type of back, similar to Jones, and if he can develop into something, then the Jets can move on without Jones.
There have even been persistent rumors, started by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, that the Jets and Browns could make another big trade, this one involving a swap of Jones for talented wide receiver Braylon Edwards. Edwards would be a great addition to the Jets, considering he is 6'3," a tall receiver that Jets have not had since Keyshawn Johnson. However, Edwards is coming off a down year logging 873 yards receiving on 55 catches. In 2007, Edwards had a breakout year with 1,289 yards receiving for the Browns, and was a Pro Bowler. If the Jets can get a deal like that done, they have to pursue it further.
In addition, dealing with an agent like Rosenhaus can be tricky. Remember the Terrell Owens fiasco in Philadelphia? Rosenhaus likes to ruffle the feathers of teams he is dealing with, and the fact that he is trying to hold out a 31-year-old runningback who is making $5 million a year speaks volumes about Rosenhaus' intentions.
The Jets should stick to their convictions regarding Jones and Rosenhaus; eventually, Jones will show up to play, $10 million over two years is nothing to sneeze at, and he knows that the only way he will get the money is if he shows up to training camp and starts working out with his teammates.
But if the Jets really want to start looking to the future, they must give Washington a vote of confidence that he can be their every down back. The man deserves the opportunity; he has earned it in just three years.
Monday, May 11, 2009
So much for that wonderful seven game winning streak.
The Mets not only found a way to boot away baseballs on the infield, they found a way to boot their winning ways, and hand Johan Santana his second loss of the season. Santana didn't have great command tonight, but losing the game was not his fault. In the first inning, David Wright misplayed a chopper by Martin Prado to put two Braves on with one out in the inning. Later, Wright botched a throw to first on a Matt Diaz single. The throw got away from Fernando Tatis, allowing Yunel Escobar to score from third, 1-0 Braves.
Meanwhile, Derek Lowe was fantastic for the Braves. The former free-agent who the Mets refused to sign to a four year contract must have had some extra motivation, blowing away the Mets offense. Lowe gave up only two runs on five hits in six and two-thirds innings to improve to 5-1 on the season. If you heard a toilet flush, it was Mets GM Omar Minaya throwing up, realizing that he blew the opportunity at signing a real pitcher and not the fink that he did sign in Oliver Perez.
In the seventh, the Mets buffoonery in the field continued. First Jerry Manuel pulled Santana out of the game, because the ace threw 108 pitches. 108 pitches!?!?!? What he could throw 10 more? I think Manuel wishes he did, because it went down hill from there. Bobby Parnell came in and allowed Yunel Escobar single to put runners on base.
Manuel continued to over manage, pulling out Parnell in favor of the struggling Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano was able to induce a ground ball out of Braves catcher Brain McCann, but Jose Reyes booted the ball loading the bases for the Braves. Matt Diaz followed with a two run single, and Casey Kotchman laced a two run single to left. Before you knew it it was 7-2 Atlanta, and the night was O-V-E-R! OVER! OVER! OVER!!
Granted, no one expects the Mets to play 1.000 baseball forever, but the fact that this team can't seem to get enough run support, or even fielding support for Santana is a complete joke. Santana has a 0.78 ERA this season, and if he were on a team that actually hit a baseball, he could be 7-0 this season. Santana deserves better, and it better change if the Mets truly want to be considered a contender. Box Score.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Ok Met fans, how do you feel about your team now? Heh?
Just over a week ago, Met fans were ready to fire Omar Minaya, Jerry Manuel and even Mr. Met after the team started off the season 9-12. Well, a 8-1 start to May that includes a seven game winning streak has the Mets in first place in the NL East.
David Wright followed a Carlos Delgado double with a blooping single to left to drive Delgado in to cut the Pirate lead in half. Wright would later steal second, and Daniel Murphy walked to set up Omir Santos. Santos laced a long deep single to right to drive in both Wright and Murphy to give the Mets a 3-2 lead.
Finally, in the eighth, the Mets put the game away. Jose Reyes drew a bases loaded walk to allow Santos to score, making it 5-2, Mets. Luis Castillo would tack on his second RBI of the afternoon with a sacrifice fly to right to make it 6-2, and Carlos Beltran narrowly missed a three run home run as the ball smacked the top of the 16 foot wall in left. Two more runners came in to score, giving the Mets a 8-2 lead. Box Score.
The Mets are now 17-13 on the season, two games ahead of the Phillies and could be a full game up on the Marlins, who are losing to the Colorado Rockies 2-0 in the fifth inning.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Everything is now good in Yankee land. Not only did Alex Rodriguez return in style, but staff ace C.C. Sabathia was brilliant for the first time in a Yankee uniform, showing everyone why the Yankees paid him $161 million in the off-season.
Sabathia got all he needed in the first inning, when Rodriguez went deep for his first home run of the season, a three run shot to give the Bombers a 3-0 lead. The homer was A-Rod's only hit, but it went a long way into proving that Rodriguez may be ready to put his troubled past, which has been now documented in a book by Sports Illustrated writer Selena Roberts, behind him, and focus on baseball.
With A-Rod back in the line-up there is no telling what the Yankees could do offensively. He will take enormous pressure off of new comer Mark Texieria who has struggled this season batting only .192 this season drawing the ire of a few fans at the new Yankee Stadium in the opening weeks.
As for Sabathia, he was in complete command all night long. C.C. went the distance for a complete game, four hit shut out to earn his second win of the year. Sabathia struck out eight Orioles. It was a good sign considering that the Orioles rocked Sabathia on opening day, and posses the leading run scorers in the league in Nick Markakis and Adam Jones.
The win gets the Bombers back to a game under .500 at 14-15, and if the Yankees continue to get healthy...watch out AL East opponents. Box Score.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Last week was the Met fans chance to jump off the bridge; now it's the Yankee fans turn.
The Yankees are suddenly immersed in a huge team-wide slump. Not only have the Yankees lost five in a row, they have done so against crucial division rivals and at home no less. Maybe the new Yankee Stadium lacks that special magic that the old House used to have.
Either way, the Yankees are in big trouble right now.
Tonight, the Yankees couldn't figure out Evan Longoria. Forget about the New York debate about David Wright and Alex Rodriguez, Longoria might be the best third baseman in all of baseball. Longoria had two homers on the night to give him 10 on the year along with 38 RBI's, and it is only May 7!!
The Yankees did rally back. If nothing else, the Yankees do have heart; they fight back with the best of their ability every single night. Jose Molina's double in the fourth brought in Melky Cabrera to cut the deficit to 4-1. Later, Johnny Damon's two run double cut the Rays lead to just 4-3. The Yankees tied the game in the fifth, thanks to Hideki Matsui's third homer of the year.
Still the Yankees had a hero. His name was Johnny Damon. Damon's two run home run off former Met Dan Wheeler tied the game at six. Could the old Yankee magic be making its move to the new stadium finally? Um...no! Box Score.
The Yankees are now in fourth place, behind a red hot Toronto Blue Jay team, and fantastic Boston Red Sox team, and a battled-tested Tampa Bay Rays team. Are the Yankees too old to compete with these teams? Are the Yankees heading for years of futility? No one knows; it is still too early to panic, but the Yankees must get better pitching and situational hitting if they are to even sniff these other ball clubs. They have their work cut out for them.
What a difference a week makes!
Just a week ago, Met fans were ready to jump off the RFK Bridge as the club was struggling to get back to .500 and looked more and more like a team without heart. Well, in what has been the most successful week of the season so far, the Mets are now 14-13 and are a half a game out of first place in the NL East.
The Mets ripped apart Jamie Moyer early in this contest. Like they did Monday, it was Carlos Beltran and David Wright who inflicted the damage. With Luis Castillo already on base with a walk, Beltran blasted a two run shot over the 16 foot wall in left field to give the Mets a 2-1 lead. Later, Wright blasted another two run shot to straight away center field, just a few feet away from the new Mets Home Run Apple in center to give New York a 4-1 lead.
Fast forward to the second inning; the Mets were not done pulverizing Moyer. Jose Reyes' solo shot to the left field corner gave the Mets a 5-1 lead, and Ramon Castro's two run double in the third gave the Metropolitans a seemingly comfortable 7-1 advantage.
Mike Pelfrey was decent tonight allowing three runs on eight hits through seven innings, but once again failed to strike out a batter. For a guy who struck out 110 batters last season, it is a bit disturbing that Pelfrey has lost some of that speed to blow by hitters. At least he is still a ground ball pitcher.
In the eighth things got really hairy for the Mets; so, what else is new? Shane Victorino was caught in a pick off play at first base, but the sneaky outfielder intentionally ran into Jose Reyes to make it look like Reyes interfered with the play. The umpire didn't see that it was Victorino who was at fault, and awarded Victorino first base. As a result, Mets manager Jerry Manuel was tossed from the game for arguing the call afterwards. Box Score.
Moments later, Jayson Werth, who went 4 for 4 on the day, laced a two run home run to left off of Pedro Feliciano to cut the Mets lead, 7-5. But, let not your heart be troubled; Francisco Rodriguez came into the ninth and shut the door on the Phillies to earn his ninth save of the season.