Remember the dates - Cano, Nova and Montero edition

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 12:24 AM [General]

    Everyone has dates in history they recall for certain reasons. For the international scouting department of the Yankees, it is fair to say they might have memories of the following dates:

    January 5, 2001, July 15, 2004 and July 2, 2006.

    Those are random dates and perhaps even somebody you know has that as their birthday. Those dates also represent when Robinson Cano, Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero became part of the Yankee organization in the international signing market.

    Cano was the first to sign, becoming a Yankee on the first day of 2001 as the Yankees were three-time defending champions. That day several other players signed as free agents, including Bobby Bonilla, who signed a deal with the Cardinals that lasted 93 games.

    Nova was second to become a Yankee, signing on the first Thursday after the 2004 All-Star break. That day saw the Yankees with a 56-31 record and was the last day of Fred McGriff's career.

    Montero was the last to sign when he agreed to become a Yankee on July 2, 2006. On the day, he signed, Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam off Alay Soler, whom the Mets signed as an international free agent about a month and a half after Nova. Rodriguez also hit a three-run home run off then unknown Heath Bell on a Sunday night that saw the Yankees four games out of first place.

    Since Cano signed during the winter, he had an early advantage in the race to the majors. While second base was manned by Alfonso Soriano from 2001-2003, Cano was becoming the type of prospect that Montero eventually became even as Soriano nearly became a 40-40 man during 2002.

    Though the average was low in the Gulf Coast League, his 113 games for Greensboro in the South Atlantic League were good with a .276, 14 home run and 66 RBI performance. That was enough to promote him to Tampa and eventually Trenton in 2003 and during 2004 where his .301 average earned a promotion to Columbus.

    In 2005, Cano's .333 average at Triple-A and the combination of a floundering and flawed major league team made it an easy call to give him a look in the majors. That look became a full-time second baseman, who is seemingly making his case to be one of the best Yankee second baseman ever.

    While Cano's major league career was starting to take shape with a .342 average in 2006, Nova's was starting. It began decently in the Gulf Coast League, but then hit some bumps during 2007 with Charleston of the South Atlantic League and again in 2008 with Tampa of the Florida State League.

    During those two years, Nova was a combined 14-21 and allowed 289 hits in nearly 250 innings. It was hardly the stuff worth keeping and the Padres gave him a shot by taking him in the Rule 5 draft but an 8.31 spring training ERA led him back to the Yankees, offering a second what if?

    The first what if is what if Texas picked Cano over Joaquin Arias when Alex Rodriguez was sent to the Yankees in Feb. 2004. The second is what if Nova pitched well in spring training for a San Diego team that had nearly lost 100 games.

    Since Nova didn't pitch well for the Padres, he was returned to the Yankees and while Cano was putting together a .320 average, Nova was going 5-4 with a 2.36 ERA in 12 starts for Trenton. That was good enough to earn a promotion to Scranton-Wilkes Barre. It didn't go well at first but the combination of being 12-3 and Javier Vazquez being ineffective opened the door for Nova.

    At first, he had the typical rookie struggles and that somewhat carried over into the first part of this year. Then a month in the minors seemed to turn on the lightbulb of thinking that "I never want to go back there again" because since returning, Nova has been insanely good.

    How good? This good - He has won 11 straight decisions and 15 of 19 overall. He is 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA since returning and his last loss was June 3 in Anaheim where he actually pitched decently.

    Montero was the last to enter the Yankee system and is the third what if? What if the Mariners accepted the trade that included Montero for Cliff Lee instead of opting for Texas' offer?

    Since the Mariners did not, Montero's path that began with a .280 average in the 2007 Gulf Coast League season could continue. The first glimpse of Montero was during 2008 when he batted .326 for Charleston and appeared in the Futures Game at Yankee Stadium.

    Had Montero been advanced past the South Atlantic League, the Yankees would have had a need for him even more, especially with Jose Molina doing the bulk of the catching until Ivan Rodriguez was acquired to replace the injured Jorge Posada.

    Montero was even better in 2009, hitting .356 in Tampa and then .317 in Trenton before getting injured. It was good enough to be promoted to Scranton where he hit 39 home runs over the next two years before getting the call to join the Yankees last week.

    Their three paths varied but wound up at the same destination - Labor Day weekend at Yankee Stadium in four straight Yankee victories that featured contributions from each one. This time, the order was different.

    First, Nova pitched seven dominant innings in a one-run game. That made him the third-winningest Yankee rookie since 1950 behind Bob Grim and Stan Bahnsen. It also gave him the second-longest winning streak by a Yankee in the last 30 years with the other being Roger Clemens in 2001.

    Second, Cano delivered a big two-run double Saturday. That made him a 100-RBI and a five-time 40 double and 100 RBI player, putting him in the same company as Bob Meusel and Lou Gehrig. Then two days later, he slugged his seventh grand slam (third of 2011).

    The grand slam put him in a tie with Tony Lazzeri for the most among Yankee second baseman and gave him a .348 average in his last 27 games.

    Finally, Montero hit two home runs and they weren't Yankee Stadium home runs. They were Alex Rodriguez locked in home runs, meaning from the right-handed hitter, they were long drives that landed well into the right field seats. That made Montero the first Yankee to hit his first two home runs in the same game since Shane Spencer 13 years ago Kansas City.

    And if these events continue happening for several years, the international scouting department will raise a toast every year on those three dates.

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    Three Slams are Better than Two

    Friday, August 26, 2011, 1:16 AM [General]

    The Yankees get a hit 27 percent of the time. During the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth inning, they had a hit 62.3 percent of the time.

    By going 15-for-23 in those innings, the Yankees actually topped themselves by hitting grand slams. When Russell Martin hit the second grand slam, the Yankees were in the process of announcing the last time two had been hit in the same game.

    That actually was a game I remember. It was September 14, 1999 in Toronto in the eighth and ninth when Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill pulled it off in rallying the Yankees from five runs down for a 10-6 victory.

    The other time that happened was June 29, 1987 at Toronto. Dave Winfield hit a grand slam off Tom Henke for the go-ahead runs in a 15-14 victory and Don Mattingly hit one off John Cerutti in the third.

    Before that, Tony Lazzeri hit two off a pitcher named Woody Upchurch at Shibe Park on May 24, 1936. The only difference was that game in Philadelphia was a 25-2 win. That was Lazzeri's famous 11 RBI game and the last four innings of Upchurch's career.

    That was irrelevant until Curtis Granderson hit the third grand slam, which also was his 36th home run and pushed him from 99 to 103 RBI.

    Nobody knew it until the scoreboard flashed the fact. And when they discussed it they truly were amazed at their accomplishment. Many times, players feign interest but afterwards, their interest was authentic.

    "The fact that we as a team have done something that all the teams that have played this game have never done before, especially on the offensive side, that’s pretty neat," Granderson said. "The guys on this team have been doing an amazing job. I think it speaks again to what this offense can do. Anyone and everyone can deliver at any time."

    And it was, it was the classic five'o clock lightning in the style of the 1927 Yankees. Those Yankees scored 20 runs once but had this habit of scoring late in the afternoon.

    Chances are the Yankees literally achieved the same thing. The game started at 2:34 and did not end 7:05, which would have put some of historic display between five and six.

    In terms of comebacks, remember the Yankees were down 7-1 going into the fifth. Their comeback was the biggest since the 14-13 game against Texas won by Jorge Posada home run in the ninth inning on May 16, 2006.

    That night Russell Martin was 10 games into his major league career with the Dodgers with two multi-hit games under his belt. He was about a month shy of the first of his three games with four RBI and that would represent his career high until Martin hit the grand slam.

    The grand slam was part of Martin's 5-for-5 day, that spiked his batting average from .232 to .243. It also was the first time a Yankee catcher went 5-for-6 since Elston Howard.

    Howard did it on April 18, 1959 at Fenway Park in a 16-7 win.

    His day consisted of a base hit off Canadian Ted Bowsfield, who had won three times against the 1958 Yankees. It also consisted of a base hit off Dave Sisler, who father George had five games with at least five hit, with three occuring during August 1921.

    Howard's day also consisted off two base hits off Bill Monboquette, who coached the Yankees in the mid-1980s. His fifth hit occurred off Leo Kiely.

    You get the idea and the kicker is that since the All-Star break, the Yankees have had three wins with at least 15 runs and neither starting pitcher has gotten a win. Twice it was Phil Hughes, who had pitched in games that Yankees scored 39 runs for him but lasted 6 2/3 innings combined. The other was A.J. Burnett's infamous game in Chicago when he was armed with a 13-1 lead.

    Bottom line is that the Yankees had a really good round of batting practice, at least when they saw strikes. When they didn't they drew 13 walks, which for anyone is insane.

    Like the players said, you probably won't see it again. It's like that Seinfeld episode that involves this exchange between Kramer and O'Neill:

    KRAMER: Sure, well I promised you would hit him two home runs.

    O'NEILL: Say what?

    KRAMER: You know, Klick!. A couple of dingers.

    O'NEILL: You promised a kid in the hospital that I would hit two home runs?

    KRAMER: Yeah, well, no good?

    O'NEILL: Yeah. That's no good. It's terrible. You don't hit home runs like that. It's hard to hit home runs. And where the heck did you get two from?

    KRAMER: Well Two is better than one.

    And in the Yankees' case, three grand slams were better than two.

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    So About that two-seam fastball

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:38 AM [General]

    A weird thing happened last night concerning Bartolo Colon.

    It was not the fact that the reality might be setting in for someone who last pitched over 100 innings six years ago.

    It was not that the Oakland Athletics bombed him because they didn’t, though the line of five runs and nine hits is never what anyone is hoping for.

    It was the pitch selection of the evening that was bizarre. For most of the year, Colon thrived on the two-seam fastball as a pitch to compliment a four-seam fastball but last night that pitch rarely appeared.

    Look up "Bartolo Colon, two-seam fastball" and here is first the result that appear:

    1 – New York Times – 5/30 – Colon makes quick work of Athletics.

    You might remember that game if you stayed up late because that was the night Colon threw a four-hitter. During that game, he threw 34 two-seam fastballs, which is about an average amount based on the breakdown from each start listed below.

    In his first start against Toronto on April 20, Colon threw 36 two-seamers and the average velocity was 90.2. Next was a start against the White Sox that featured 35 at an average speed of 91.8.

    Colon remained in the rotation in May and began the month with a no-decision in Detroit. The Tigers saw 47 two-seam fastballs, averaging 91.1 mph.

    In Texas was where Colon’s first hiccup occurred on a night he allowed a similar line of five runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. During that weekend that saw Ivan Nova pitch into the eighth and Derek Jeter hit a home run, Colon threw 18 two-seam fastballs that averaged 90.4.

    Colon rebounded slightly but took a tough loss to the Red Sox on May 13 while throwing 33 for an average of 91.3 mph. In Baltimore five days later, Colon scattered three hits in eight shutout innings, using that pitch 27 times and averaging 90.8.

    Five days later was the second hiccup against the Blue Jays. He gave up six runs and seven hits in six innings while throwing the two-seam fastball 19 times at an average of 91.3.

    Then the aforementioned start in Oakland. That night in his first complete game since July 5, 2006, he threw that pitch 34 times for an average of 90.4 and here are what they were saying about him (quotes from AP recap and NY Times story)

    "He’s really exceeding our expectations," Mark Teixeira said. "He’s been huge for us. If we didn’t have him in our rotation, we’d be scrambling right now."

    On the final day of that road trip in Anaheim, Colon won his second straight start by throwing the pitch 49 times at an average of 91.5 in 5 1/3 innings.

    Next was the hamstring injury on June 11. In bad weather, Colon had a two-hit shutout going for 6 2/3 innings aided by 37 two-seamers that averaged 91.

    Colon returned July 2 against the Mets and had another shutout going. That pitch was thrown 30 times at an average of 90.8 while he allowed five hits.

    Then the downward trend began. It began July 7 against Tampa Bay, though his five runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings went slightly unnoticed because of Derek Jeter’s chase for 3,000 hits.

    That night he threw the pitch 21 times, averaged 90.7.

    Next was the first start of the second half in Toronto. It was difficult to gauge because Colon just got two outs while allowing three earned runs and six hits. In a 16-7 loss, he threw the pitch 16 times for an average of 90.3 mph.

    After those two hiccups, Colon pitched decently in a tough 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on July 19 and here’s the interesting part. If you thought the 21 to the Rays 12 days prior was odd, how do you feel about the eight he threw for an average of 90.9?

    Next up was a no-decision against Oakland on July 24. Colon allowed and eight hits in six innings while increasing his usage of the pitch to 21 times, one fewer than the slider. The pitch averaged 90.9.

    July concluded with a respectable showing against the Orioles of two runs and five hits in five innings. It also featured a return to first half numbers in two-seam usage as he threw it 33 times for an average of 91.4.

    Then came August and it began with a start in Boston where Colon could not get past the fifth. The pitch was thrown 24 times and averaged 93.

    Six days later, he faced the Angels and did not get a decision as he allowed two runs and five hits in six innings. The two-seam was thrown 32 times at an average of 91.

    Last week, he pitched in Kansas City. He allowed five runs and seven hits in five innings while throwing the pitch 30 times at 91.5.

    Last night, that was not the case. It wasn’t that way because for some reason Colon threw that pitch just twice and was beaten on his slider with the long solo home run to rookie Brandon Allen.

    At times, there are various reasons why a pitcher would abandon a pitch. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel right coming out of the hands, other times it doesn’t feel right in the bullpen before a game.

    Based on Colon’s brief and somewhat vague comments, those were not factors. What factored into abandoning it was that the Royals hit a pair of home runs off the pitch last week.

    The next logical question is confidence in the pitch. Colon stated that he believes in it but if he believes it why reduce the times throwing it from 30 to two.

    Is it saving those pitches for future use or is it a slight acknowledgement of not having pitched this much since 2005?

    Those answers will be revealed at a later date, much like the answers to the question of how long can this last when Colon was getting fastball after fastball for outs.

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    Burnett cracks the August win code

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 12:50 AM [General]

    If it seems like every five or six days that A.J. Burnett is pitching in front of an angry mob hidden behind computer or mobile screens - that is because he is.

    His inconsistency of maddening degrees often makes like it seems there is a referendum on the ballot in the voting booth and if the fans had their say the measure of keeping him in the rotation would be voted down.

    Burnett finally won a game in August. That is a confounding stat if there ever was one, especially pitching on a team that wins as much as the Yankees and this was his first August win since beating the Yankees on August 19, 2008 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

    That night he faced a Yankee lineup that included Johnny Damon, Bobby Abreu, Xavier Nady, Ivan Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui. That night also showed another example of his frustrating inconsistency since he pitched eight innings, struck out 13, walked one, allowed a run and five hits while improving to then a respectable 24-13 in August.

    It also was one of six double-digit strikeout games authored by Burnett during his 18-win season. Since signing the contract based on performances such as that night, Burnett has four double-digit strikeout games in 91 starts - three in 2009.

    And the night of last August win, here is what some of the Yankees had to say about Burnett, their future confounding number two starter.

    "He’s a real good pitcher. I hope he opts out of his deal." - Johnny Damon

    "Give him credit, he was 0-2 on everybody throwing in the high- to mid-90s and he had a snake for a breaking ball." Alex Rodriguez

    And this is what Burnett said after pitching that game for manager Cito Gaston.

    "It was just on tonight. "I told Cito, I'd like to have that hook every night. It would be nice."

    "I was just really focused on executing my pitches after that first inning," he said. "I wasn't going to allow another one to leave the strike zone and have them capitalize on it."

    Last night's line of three runs, 10 hits (all singles) in 5 2/3 innings against a team such as the Royals isn’t going to wow anyone. It won't impress and nor should it simply because many think against a superior team in the playoffs that runs would be more.

    It was the 19th such occasion of allowing 10 hits and sixth instance with the Yankees. So if you go on the fact that he has made 302 starts, that means every 16th start will be one that he allows 10 hits in.

    Of course, there’s nowhere to turn with Burnett even if you smoke some of Brian Cashman’s objective pipe. He’s there in the rotation for better or worse and there will be occasional really good, but that doesn’t mask the angry mob effect towards him.

    At this point, you just have to hope for the best from the Yankee bats, especially against a sub-par opponent and maybe if the Yankees luck out against a good team, Burnett will have that flash of outstanding stuff that he has shown some of the time (see August 2009 vs. Red Sox, Game Two of 2009 World Series).

    But since those nights have rarely shown up, log on to twitter on a night like last night. When you do so, search A.J. Burnett and see what comes up.

    Here’s a sampling of what you might find:

    1 – I hate A.J. Burnett more than anybody in sports smh (shaking my head)

    2 – AJ Burnett getting a winning only underscores the overvalue of wins. He did not win this ballgame.

    3 – AJ  Burnett won in August, next up debt crisis

    4 – About time AJ Burnett won a game, especially an August game

    5 – It’s like watching four to six innings of Kyle Farnsworth in a row – with worse hair.

    6 – AJ Burnett almost made six innings tonight, what a trooper

    7 – AJ Burnett coughs up the lead, but he will keep the paycheck

    8 – AJ Burnett better not see the bottom of the sixth inning or my TV won’t be seeing it either.

    9 – I’m not a Yankee fan and I can’t stand watching AJ Burnett pitch

    10 – Enough with AJ Burnett, Yankees would be better off releasing him and eating his contract.

    11 – Kei Igawa > AJ Burnett

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    Connecting the Historical Dots in Yankees-Red Sox

    Thursday, August 4, 2011, 9:12 PM [General]

    There’s something about a summer series between the Red Sox and Yankees that is more appealing, more intense than ones in the spring. Sure it’s nice to see the rivalry right out of the gate, but there’s a difference now. This year it seems that way because both teams have found themselves the way we expected them to be and most players have found themselves performance-wise than earlier this year.

    There’s also something fun about facts about the players who will play such key roles in these games and their connections to each other that make it so interesting.

    For example, besides being one of the AL’s best outfielders in average, slugging and home runs Jacoby Ellsbury is the first Native American Navajo to reach the major leagues. Only three Native Americans exist are in the majors and one is injured pitcher Joba Chamberlain and the other is Kyle Lohse.

    Ellsbury also is one of 124 players from Oregon who have played in the majors. The most notable rivalry contributors from Oregon are Johnny Pesky and Scott Brosius.

    Besides having a pole named after him in Fenway Park, Pesky had two four-hit games in 1946 – the year the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals in seven games. Like this year, they faced the Yankees in an August series. This time, the gap was double-digits between the teams and Pesky’s four base hits off Tiny Bonham and Johnny Murphy were footnotes in a 7-5 loss.

    Two years later when the Red Sox lost to the Indians in an AL playoff the race was much tighter. When the Red Sox left the Bronx on August 11, the Yankees were behind three teams and 3 ½ out. A month later nothing had changed other than the Athletics dropping eight games out. Finally, on October 2, 1948 Pesky helped eliminate the Yankees by scoring on Ted Williams’ two-run home run off Tommy Byrne and on Stan Spence’s double off Joe Page.

    Pesky’s other chance in the rivalry when games meant something for both teams was in 1949, which is chronicled in David Halberstam’s book “The Summer of 49”. Though the Red Sox lost the pennant on the final weekend, Pesky helped get it there with an 8-for-14 showing in three tight ballgames that turned a two-game deficit into a one-game lead for the Red Sox. In the makeup game of Sept. 26, 1949, Pesky contributed to the four-run eighth that decided things by reaching on a Stuffy Stirnweiss error and scored the go-ahead on Bobby Doerr’s bunt.

    As for Brosius, he spent three years in the rivalry manning third base from 1998-2001 and the man he succeeded there was none other than Wade Boggs. In the four years he spent in pinstripes, the Yankees won the AL East by a combined 42 games. The closest besides the poor Sept. 2000 was a four-game difference during 1999, which happened to be the first of three times the teams met in a postseason series. During his four years with the Yankees, Brosius had five three-hit games – all in Boston – with his most notable being a four-RBI night on June 19, 2000 in a 22-1 win.

    Dustin Pedroia is from Arizona State and it’s the same baseball program that produced 97 other hitters, including Reggie Jackson. Jackson’s notable contributions to the rivalry besides his confrontation with Billy Martin in 1977 was a game-ending two-run home run off Reggie Cleveland in the bottom of the ninth on Sept. 14, 1977 that put the Yankees up by 3 ½ over third-place Boston or his three-run home run a year later off Tom Burgmeier during the second inning of the second game of the weekend Boston massacre. Those were two of 25 home runs Jackson hit in Fenway and two of 51 hit in 832 at-bats off Red Sox pitchers.

    Pedroia is probably the best Sun Devil hitter to play for the Red Sox, edging out the likes of Kevin Romine and Marty Barrett. His intro to the rivalry occurred during a late-September series in the Bronx when the division was decided by the Yankees. His first noteworthy achievements were his 8-for-14 in a June series which represented his first time with consecutive three-hit games and turned his average from .308 to .336. In the Bronx, his most notable hit was an eighth-inning grand slam off David Robertson in an 11-3 Red Sox rout on August 27, 2008, which was Boston’s last victory at old Yankee Stadium.

    Adrian Gonzalez is new to the rivalry but if you were at the Stadium you saw his laser shows in batting practice and those have translated to a .357 average (.235 off Yankee pitching). Gonzalez is from San Diego, a city that has produced numerous players including Graig Nettles and Ted Williams.

    Nettles joined the Yankees in 1973 and stayed there until 1983. His career began with two home runs in two games off Red Sox pitching when he connected of Luis Tiant and Marty Pattin. Of course those meant little since the Yankees began the Steinbrenner era by getting outscored 25-10.

    As for his contributions in the 1978 sweep in Fenway, the Yankees concluded it with a 7-4 win on September 10 and Nettles had three hits and drove in two runs in the first inning. One of his best individual showings occurred July 1, 1983 at the Stadium in a 12-8 win. Nettles drove in four runs starting with a solo home run off Dennis Eckersley, followed by a RBI double off Eckersley and capped by a two-run single off Mark Clear.

    Nettles was born on August 20, 1944 – two months after D-Day. Williams was in the Marines as a naval aviator in 1944 and was awaiting orders when the Pacific Theater ended in 1945. Those years kept from him adding to his total of 30 home runs at Yankee Stadium and 401 hits (91 home runs, 298) off Yankee pitching in a career that lasted until 1960 and included a .406 average in 1941.

    In 1941, Williams batted .485 (16-for-33) at Yankee Stadium and .471 in 22 games (32-for-68) off Yankee pitching. 

    He was a pinch hitter in his first game against the Yankees, then went 4-for-9 May 11-12 in Fenway, putting him at .383. From May 23-25 at the Stadium, he was 7-for-11 with five RBI and that put his average back at. 383. On May 30, he played a doubleheader at Fenway and went 4-for-7, putting his average at .429. In a three-game series in the Bronx July 1-2, he was “cold,” going just 3-for-9 but he was still over .400 at .401 actually. 

    A month later August 6-7, he was 4-for-10, getting a two-run home run off Lefty Gomez in a 9-5 win at Fenway which put his average at .408. After a four-game series in Washington, Williams came to New York and if you had tickets to the August 11 game, you might have left disappointed because Yankee pitchers walked him four times. And his 2-for-4 showing those days put him at .411.  On Sept 3-7, Williams went 6-for-12 in a four-game series, leaving the Bronx with a .413 average. He saw the Yankees again for two games Sept. 20-21 in Boston and went 3-for-7, including a two-run home run off Tiny Bonham.

    Kevin Youkilis is among a handful of Jewish ballplayers to have played over the years.

    That list includes Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg and Al Rosen. Rosen was the one who made the most contributions to the Yankees when he was team president in 1978-1970.  Ron Blomberg also was a Yankee and his noteworthy achievement was being the first DH.

    Like Koufax, Youkilis went to the University of Cincinnati, which also produced Miller Huggins, who managed the Yankees from April 15, 1918 until September 19, 1929.

    Huggins was 11-6 in his first year managing against the Red Sox, who were a championship team with Babe Ruth that won the first four games in the season series. After going 20-16 without Ruth against the Red Sox, Huggins was 13-9 in 1920. He was even better in 1921 with 15 wins in 22 games, including a 10-1 mark at the Polo Grounds.

    After going 9-13 in 1922, Huggins kicked off the Yankee Stadium era with a 14-8 showing in 1923 that included April 18 when Ruth hit the stadium’s first home run, a three-run shot off Howard Ehmke. In 1924 when they lost the pennant to Washington they still won 17 of 22 against the Red Sox.

    After a 13-9 showing in 1925, the Yankees returned to the World Series the next three years, helped by going 51-15 in those seasons. Huggins was 15-5 against the Sox in 1929 with his final game coming on Sept. 1 when Ruth hit his 40th home run and Tom Zachary pitched a 14-hitter and improved to 10-0.

    David Ortiz has 34 home runs off Yankee pitching in 597 at-bats, which translates to once every 17.5 at-bats, which is pretty good but not as good as Williams’ rate of one home run per 12.1 at-bats off the Yankees. Ortiz’s path to becoming a Yankee killer began in Santo Domingo Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo has a population over three million and is the birthplace of hundreds of major leaguers.

    Besides Ortiz some of the most notable to the rivalry have been Melky Cabrera, whom you might remember for 2006 catch that robbed Manny Ramirez of a home run in a 2-1 Yankee win.

    It also is the birthplace of Ramirez who probably was one of the game’s best right-handed hitters in recent memory and his career began the same weekend as Jim Abbott’s no-hitter against the Indians in September 1993. It’s also the birthplace of Joaquin Arias, who is famous for being the player the Rangers chose instead of Robinson Cano when they dealt Alex Rodriguez.

    As for Ortiz, in getting to this point, it started when the Mariners signed him in 1992 and one of his earliest minor league teammates was Derek Lowe during the Arizona Summer League season of 1995. Lowe pitched in two games, striking out 11 in 9 2/3 innings while Ortiz hit .332 in 184 at-bats.

    A year later with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League, Ortiz was a teammate of Damaso Marte, whom the Yankees probably could use to get him out. Marte was a starting pitcher at that point, going 8-6 with a 4.49 ERA in 26 starts. Ortiz did not finish 1996 in Seattle as he was traded to Minnesota for Dave Hollins on August 29, 1996 when the Red Sox and Yankees were separated by 5 ½ games.

    Carl Crawford is new to this rivalry and is hitting .125 off the Yankees after joining the Red Sox in free agency. Crawford is from Houston, a city that has produced Britt Burns, who won 70 games but none with the Yankees after developing a hip problem. It also produced Bubba Crosby, who hit a game-ending home run on Sept. 18, 2005 off Baltimore. It also produced David Murphy, whose first home run was in 2006 at Yankee Stadium.

    It also produced Calvin Schiraldi, who was on the 1986 Red Sox. During 1986, he made 25 relief appearances and then 62 in 1987.  His final appearance in the rivalry was Sept. 28, 1986 when he gave up a game-ending two-run home run to Mike Easler. Three months later, he was traded to the Cubs for Lee Smith, who pitched for the final month of 1993 with the Yankees after being acquired from Joe Torre’s Cardinals.

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a Braves’ first-round pick in 2003 and made his major league debut on his 22nd birthday in 2007 in a game that current Yankee Andruw Jones had an RBI. Also connecting him to the Yankees was that two months later, he was moved to Texas for Mark Teixeira. He also was born in West Palm Beach, which is where Dante Bichette was born in 1963. Eventually Bichette had a son and became friends with Joe Girardi, who was pleased when the Yankees drafted Dante Jr. this year.

    Josh Reddick has played less than 60 games and is from Savannah, Georgia. He was born there in 1987 and 35 years earlier Bucky Dent was born there.

    Dent’s birth certificate says Russell Earl O’Dey but in Boston there’s a transitional verb that replaces his middle name. Everyone knows about his home run in the 1978 AL East playoff game but another notable event for Dent occurred within the rivalry.

    One was the night of June 5, 1990 when Dent’s 89-game tenure as Yankee manager came to end with a 9-8 loss at Fenway. Dent had to watch such things like Andy Hawkins getting just one out and allowing five runs. Then he witnessed Randy Velarde’s two-run game-tying home run that scored Deion Sanders. Then for the final curtain, he saw Eric Plunk make an error on Jody Reed’s sacrifice bunt that scored Boggs with the winning run in the eighth.

    Marco Scutaro was born a few days after Carlton Fisk willed his home run over the “Green Monster” in 1975. The location was San Felipe, Venezuela, which makes him the only major leaguer born there. Connecting him to the Yankees is a three-run game-ending home run off Mariano Rivera on April 15, 2007.

    Scutaro’s minor league career began in 1996 with the Columbus Red Stixx in the South Atlantic League. The manager was Joel Skinner, who played for the Yankees from 1986-1988 and then was traded to Cleveland for Mel Hall. Hall’s claim to fame in the rivalry is his game-ending home run on May 27, 1991 off Jeff Reardon, whose career ended in 1994 as a Yankee.

    At some point, Jason Varitek will play. Varitek played college ball at Georgia Tech and is one of 45 major leaguers from that program. Varitek’s Georgia Tech career resulted in him becoming a first-round pick of Seattle in 1994 and preceded that of Teixeira, who was Texas’ first-round selection seven years later.

    Varitek has appeared in 169 games in the rivalry. His first was May 22, 1998 in a 5-4 Red Sox and his first of 125 career hits off Yankee pitching was an RBI double during a four-run seventh inning off Ramiro Mendoza. Of course, Varitek’s most noteworthy role in the rivalry was his telling Rodriguez to bleep off and triggering a brawl. What’s amusing about that is if Seattle did not trade him he would become Rodriguez’s Mariner teammate since he was triple-A Tacoma in 1997, though it’s unlikely since he was blocked by Dan Wilson at the time.

    Mike Aviles will also appear at some point and this will be his first taste of the rivalry since he was acquired last Saturday from Kansas City. His Yankee connection is being from Concordia College in the Hudson Valley, which produced Dell Alston who played 25 games for the Yankees in 1977-78.

    Aviles is one of many major leaguers, who call New York City a birthplace. Among them are someone named Lou Gehrig. Gehrig appeared in 312 games against the Red Sox and not surprisingly his .352 average, 314 RBI are his most against any other time. What is interesting that his 404 hits are one fewer than what he did against Chicago while playing nine more games against the Red Sox.

    Gehrig’s first introduction to the rivalry was in a four-game series at Fenway Park. With the Yankees having secured the pennant, Gehrig was able to see some late action and his first trip to Fenway was sensational as he was 9-for-19 with seven RBI, putting his average from .286 to .423. Gehrig had three seasons with an unthinkable 170 RBI or more (1927, 1930 and 1931).

    In 1927, 20 were in Fenway and 37 against the Red Sox. Among the notable ones were a two-home run six RBI showing on April 17, which saw Gehrig hit a three-run home run off Jack Russell and future teammate Danny MacFayden.

    In 1930, 19 of his 32 RBI off the Sox were in Fenway. Nearly half were July 31 in a 14-13 Yankee win when Gehrig was 3-for-3 with eight RBI. Half were on a seventh inning grand slam off Ed Durham.

    In 1931, he had 25 RBI off Boston pitching, though just eight in Boston. His best RBI total occurred in a 14-4 win at Braves Field on August 30. That day included a two-run home run off Ed Morris.

    Another notable New Yorker that participated in the rivalry was Eddie Lopat. Lopat was born on the lower east side, went to DeWitt Clinton High School in Bedford Park.

    His first year in the rivalry was 1948 and three years later he was joined by Astoria’s Whitey Ford, who spent 16 years and won 24 of 55 appearances against the Red Sox. His first was a 4 2/3 inning relief stint in 1950 and his last occurred during the start of 1967, which was Boston’s famous impossible dream season. Ford pitched well on the afternoon of April 14, 1967 but Billy Rohr - a pitcher nobody had seen before – pitched a one-hitter. It was close to being a no-hitter but Elston Howard broke it up with a single, making it quite the Yankee Stadium opener.

    The highlight of the game was Carl Yastrzemski’s catch against Tom Tresh, a call that was immortalized in a record about the "Impossible Dream" by Ken Coleman this way:

    "[Tresh's] drive to left over the head of Carl Yastrzemski left a rising trail of blue vapor... At the crack of the bat, Yaz broke back, being guided by some uncanny inner radar. Running as hard as a man fleeing an aroused nest of bees, Yaz dove in full stride and reached out with the glove hand in full extension, almost like Michelangelo's Adam stretching out for the hand of God. At the apex of his dive, Yaz speared the ball, and for one moment of time that would never register on any clock, stood frozen in the air as if he were Liberty keeping the burning flame aloft.

    It is the players who keep the burning flame aloft of the rivalry with memorable moments and games. Somewhere there are future Yankees and Red Sox participating in the game and ready to be connected in some way.

     

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    CC stands for Carsten Charles in Charge

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011, 2:06 AM [General]

    As CC Sabathia was easing through another lineup, this time the nine men for the Seattle Mariners, one number kept piling up and it wasn't hits. As the strikeouts continued and the hits remained non-existent a phone call was made after Franklin Guttierez struck out looking for the final out of the fifth. It was a quick, yet a direct phone conversation and perhaps similar to other conversations or text message exchanges and it went like this:

    Me: Are you watching the Yankee game?

    Other end:  No, I’m watching a movie.

    Me: Well you might want to put the game on.

    Other end: Why?

    Me: Well, Sabathia has one of those games. Actually he has one of thooose games going on.

    Other end: Oh, I got what you’re saying, thanks for alerting me.

    One of those with an added emphasis on the letter O meant Sabathia was throwing a perfect game. It’s a way to express it without saying it but doing so in a manner that the other member of the conversation gets exactly what is being said.

    There’s little doubt in my mind and virtually everyone else’s mind what would have happened if there was not any weather interference that delayed things for a total of 44 minutes, 30 minutes in the fifth and another 14 in the middle of the seventh.

    Sabathia lost the perfect game with one out in the seventh when Brendan Ryan lined a 2-0 fastball into left field for a clean single that nobody was getting. Other than that and walking the bases loaded in the eighth after the second delay it was a flawless night for Sabathia.

    How flawless has Sabathia been? Consider the following tidbits about a man so outgoing that while a perfect game is happening he is engaging in lively conversations with teammates.

    •  His 14 strikeouts were the most by a Yankee lefty since David Wells fanned 16 against Oakland on July 30, 1997.
    •  He is the first Yankee to become the first 15-game winner in two different seasons. He also did that in 2009 when he was 9-6 at the All-Star break.
    •  He has allowed five earned runs in his last seven starts, going 6-1 with a 0.82 ERA since June 25. That totals 54 2/3 innings, 31 hits, 16 walks, 72 strikeouts, one home run and a .166 opponent batting average.
    • He is 8-1 with a 1.70 ERA (68 2/3 innings, 13 earned runs, 17 walks, 81 strikeouts) in nine starts since June 14.
    • He is 12-2 with a 2.06 ERA (109 innings, 25 earned runs) in his last 14 starts since May 19.

    You get the idea. That is a sampling of how dominant Sabathia has been overall but here’s a sampling of how Sabathia was so overpowering even against the worst offense in the game in the midst of a 17-game losing streak.

    • He threw 71 of 102 pitches for strikes
    • He had two balls hit into the outfield
    • He had 17 swings and misses
    • He had 18 foul balls

    He had four at-bats go past five pitches and half were the final two of the game after the second rain delay

    You get the idea. No matter the opponent, this was a masterpiece of the first degree and here’s one more thing. At one point he struck out seven straight hitters and it took 30 pitches to do so.

    I’ve never seen a no-hitter in person. I have seen a few go into the seventh inning with some luck due to good defensive plays. This was the first time having no doubt it was going to happen because of how dialed in Sabathia was and has been over the last two months.

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    Items of Interest - Trap Game Edition

    Monday, July 25, 2011, 6:05 PM [General]

    Today is July 25 and a year and one year ago, Freddy Garcia was pitching for the White Sox and results did not go well. He pitched in Oakland, could not get past the second inning of a 10-2 loss.

    Garcia faced 13 hitters and was gone after walking current Mariner Jack Cust. Garcia has had one such start that lasted that short and that was last month against the Red Sox.

    On the injury front, Rafael Soriano is slated to pitch in Triple-A again. He pitched yesterday and gave up a home run while facing Columbus.

    Eric Chavez is closer and could be activated tomorrow if the Yankees evaluate him to be feeling better.

    And finally Alex Rodriguez is two weeks removed from knee surgery but no timetable is set for him to start baseball activities.

    Those players are missing facing a team that surprised by being .500 but is playing like a team headed for a third 100-loss season since 2008.

    The Mariners take a 15-game losing streak into this one and during that time, they have .226 and that is with a respectable .284 showing over the last six games. Also they haven’t been able to pitch, posting a 5.97 ERA during this club-record streak.

    The streak broke the mark set by the 1992 team and that is hard to believe that a team with Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr, Omar Vizquel, Tino Martinez and Jay Buhner could ever be that bad.

    It is just not the 15 in a row that is part of the downward trend. That streak happened just as they were at .500 (43-43) but is part of four wins during the last 23 games, which makes you wonder if this is a trap game.

    "It’s a weird feeling because you’ve got to believe they’re going to play extremely hard," manager Joe Girardi said. "So I would throw out that they lost 15 in a row."

    This happens to be the first time the Yankees are facing someone with a 15-game losing streak was Sept. 8, 1926. The Red Sox snapped a 17-game skid when rookie Hal Wiltse pitched a complete game and struck out Lou Gehrig three times.

    As for the mood of the Mariners, obviously they are frustrated with all the losing, but it can’t turn up in their play.

    "I think they’re handling it as best as they can," Eric Wedge said to a gathering of approximately 30 media members inside his office. "Anytime you go through a tough stretch of this magnitude, it wears on everybody."

    On the human interest side of things, today is the start of the third annual HOPE Week, which is a community outreach project started by the Yankees two years ago. The Yankees won all five games during the week in 2009 and won three of five last year.

    Jon Lane has the full description of today’s event while Jerome Preisler and Joe Auriemma are on the scene.

    You can follow Jerome and Joe on Twitter at @YankeesInk and @JoeAuriemmaYES, respectively, for all the details and some pictures as well.

    It also puts into perspective of going 0-for-4 and lengthy losing streaks.

    "Baseball is extremely important to all of us," Girardi said. "To me, one of the most important things we can do is give people hope,".

    Girardi then went on to why he believes that, stemming from when his mother was given six months to live and then lived for six more years.

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    Rivera reaches a quarter of a century in saves again

    Monday, July 25, 2011, 1:50 AM [General]

    There's a certain calmness in the air when Mariano Rivera takes the mound. It is the quiet nature of a man who simply wants to finish games as quickly as possible.

    That's why when the bases were loaded in the ninth inning Sunday against Oakland, the feeling was the inning would end the way it started - with the Yankees winning. Even after he gave up a run, the sense was something good was going to happen and it did when David DeJesus lined into a double play.

    That out signified the 15th straight season that Rivera has reached 25 saves. While it's not as significant as the others (500 saves, 600 saves when he gets it), it is still notable because of the testament to consistency, durability and calmness.

    And here's the other 14 times that Rivera reached his 25th save.

    1 - June 25, 1997 - Rivera had 43 saves in his first year as the full-time closer and reached 25 shortly before the All-Star break at Detroit's Tiger Stadium. The Yankees went up 3-1 in the top of the ninth on Charlie Hayes' two-run home run off Justin Thompson and Rivera faced Jody Reed, Curtis Pride and Raul Cassnova. Pride singled but Cassanova bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, giving Rivera 25 saves in the Yankees' first 43 wins.

    2 - July 20, 1998 - Rivera would have reached it before the break but missed part of April but for the second straight year it came against the Tigers. This time it was in the second game of a doubleheader and it occurred after Rivera recorded four outs in the ninth and 10th of a 17-inning loss. In the nightcap, Rivera came into a one-run game after Mike Stanton gave up two in the eighth and retired Paul Bako, Deivi Cruz and Brian Hunter, giving Rivera 25 saves in the Yankees' first 69 victories.

    3 - July 21, 1999 - Almost a year later and three days after David Cone's perfect game, Rivera reached 25 by preserving another 4-3 victory. This time, it was the Rays and Rivera was responsible for the one-run game by giving up an RBI double to John Flaherty. Flaherty stayed at second because Wade Boggs flied to left and Terrell Lowery lined out to center field, giving Rivera 25 saves in the Yankees' first 56 wins.

    4 - August 1, 2000 - This time Rivera reached it in August, doing so in a 5-4 victory over the Royals at the Stadium. The Yankees held a 4-2 lead before Jeff Nelson gave up a two-run double to Johnny Damon in the eighth. The Yankees regained the lead on Scott Brosius' leadoff home run off Ricky Bottalico and Rivera nailed it down with strikeouts of David McCarty and Todd Dunwoody and a groundout to Greg Zaun, giving him 25 saves in the Yankees' first 57 games.

    5 - June 29, 2001 - Rivera reached the quarter century mark in a game that Roger Clemens improved to 11-1 in a game the Yankees started out with a seven-run lead. A save was created in the seventh when Tampa Bay scored four and Rivera nailed down his 25th save by striking out Brent Abernathy, Russ Johnson and Jason Tyner. The strikeouts gave Rivera 25 saves in the Yankees' first 44 victories.

    6 - August 8, 2002 - Rivera returned from the DL in this weekday afternoon game against the Royals that I covered during a vacation week from SportsTicker. And he looked seamless in doing so by getting Aaron Guiel, Neifi Perez and Brent Mayne. The save was created after Andy Pettitte allowed an RBI single to Raul Ibanez that scored Carlos Beltran and that gave the Yankees' their 71st victory.

    7 - August 15, 2003 - Rivera missed the first month of the 2003 season and the night he reached 25 saves whoever was paying attention in the New York area was probably doing so on a battery-powered radio and sitting outside while following along and waiting for the power to return. A day after a blackout struck the New York area, Rivera was in Baltimore, putting the finishing touches on an 6-4 victory. This one was not an easy one as Jack Cust led off with a home run and Brook Fordyce and Luis Matos singled. Rivera then finished off the Yankees' 73rd victory by fielding groundouts from Jose Leon and Jay Gibbons.

    8 - June 9, 2004 - Rivera reached 25 early because the Yankees put together a stretch of 18 wins in 21 games that saw Rivera rack up 12 saves. This time, he did it in interleague play against the Colorado Rockies in a 7-5 victory. The Yankees were down by one going into the seventh but took the lead on home runs by Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams. Rivera opened by striking out Mark Sweeney but then gave up a base hit to Todd Greene. The Yankees' 37th victory was secured on groundouts by Choo Freeman and Aaron Miles.

    9 - July 24, 2005 - For the first time, Rivera was on a team that struggled to go over .500. The Yankees did not go over the break-even point for good until winning improving to 40-39 on July 2, 2005. Rivera had 17 saves at the time and reached 25 in a 4-1 win at Anaheim. In the Yankees' lone regular season win there, Rivera recorded five outs. With two on in a 3-1 game, Rivera replaced Tom Gordon and retired Macier Izturis. After the Yankees added a run, Rivera struck out Juan Rivera, retired Bengie Molina and fanned Adam Kennedy to seal the Yankees' 52nd victory.

    10 - July 26, 2006 - Rivera reached this point in 2006 shortly after notching his 400th save.  He was needed after Jason Giambi hit a two-run home run off Akinori Otsuka that turned a one-run deficit into an 8-7 lead. The lead stayed that way when Rod Barajas and Gary Matthews Jr. were retired. Rivera gave up a base hit to Ian Kinsler but Michael Young grounded out and the Yankees had their 59th victory.

    11 - September 9, 2007 - Rivera finished with 30 saves as the Yankees raced to make the playoffs after being a game under .500 at the break. He didn't get his 10th save until June 28 at Baltimore in a game that actually was suspended and completed a month later. Twenty-five was a preservation of Chien Ming-Wang's 18th victory in Kansas City and Rivera gave up a two-out hit to Jason Smith but then ended the Yankees' 81st victory by getting John Buck on a groundout.

    12 - July 23, 2008 - The second half of Rivera's lone non-playoff season began well as the Yankees won eight in a row. Rivera had two saves, including number 25 in a 5-1 victory over the Twins. Rivera actually did not pitch the entire ninth but came on with two outs and two on in relief of LaTroy Hawkins. He faced Jason Kubel, who hit a grand slam off him May 16, 2010 but in this encounter Rivera nailed down the Yankees' 56th victory by striking out the left-handed slugger.

    13 - July 18, 2009 - The Yankees were scorching through the summer of 2009, opening the second half with 10 wins in 12 games and 23 wins in 29 games. Rivera had 12 saves in that span and the 25th was in a 2-1 game against the Tigers on the day of an outstanding duel between CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander. The Yankees lost the shutout when Marcus Thames homered off Alfredo Aceves in the eighth but Rivera retired Ryan Raburn, Brandon Inge and Gerald Laird. That gave Sabathia his ninth victory and the Yankees their 53rd.

    14 - August 21, 2010 - This one happened at home on a Saturday afternoon against the Mariners. A night after the Yankees were handcuffed by Felix Hernandez, Rivera relieved David Robertson with two outs and two on in the eighth. He retired Michael Saunders on a pop-out. In the ninth, Ichiro and Chone Figgins singled but with runners at the corners, Rivera preserved the Yankees' 76th victory by getting Russell Branyan and Jose Lopez on a groundouts.

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    A magical mystery tour of Jeter teammates

    Monday, July 18, 2011, 1:40 AM [General]

    I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough of leafing through the Derek Jeter list of his 3,000+ hits. There are a million ways (not really a million ways) you can break it down even nearly a week later and those are more interesting than other things associated with the milestone.

    You can go lefty/righty, by first name, starter or reliever, Red Sox, Orioles, guys from California, the Dominican Republic. You get the idea and I did none of those things, what I did was find the hits of pitchers that Jeter was a teammate of at some point and that counts pitchers who did not last one month as a Yankee

    The first teammate that Jeter got a hit off was Randy Johnson. Johnson was here 2005-2006 and Jeter’s third hit came off the “Big Unit” on May 31, 1995 and that hit is notable because it was his first RBI.

    Jack McDowell was a teammate of Jeter’s during his cameo in 1995 and by 1996 he was in Cleveland with the then defending AL champions. The first time Jeter had a hit off “Black Jack” was April 3, 1996 when he had two hits during his first career three-hit game and in a win that saw him score five times.

    David Wells had two memorable stints in the Bronx doing such things as pitching in Babe Ruth’s hat in 1997, a perfect game in 1998 and getting attacked in a Manhattan diner in 2002. Before all that, Wells was a member of the Orioles and in the famous May 1, 1996 game in Baltimore, Jeter had his only hit of the 11-6 win off the man called “Boomer”.

    Sterling Hitchcock was a Yankee from 1992-1995 and then returned during the summer of 2001. When he faced Jeter on May 24, 1996, he was doing so in the Kingdome as a Mariner and that night he gave up a two-run home run and a RBI single which occurred in a 10-4 Yankee loss.

    Paul Quantrill was a frequently used reliever during the 2004 season but eight years earlier he was a Blue Jay starting pitcher and when he faced Jeter in the third inning of an 8-1 Yankee win, he gave up a base hit which was hit number 60.

    Mike Mussina was Jeter’s teammate from 2001-2008 missing World Series titles by one year at the start and end of his Yankee tenure. Before that season, he gave up a few hits to Jeter as an Oriole and that included a go-ahead two-run home run in the eighth inning of a 4-2 win on July 11, 1996, which was the famous four-game sweep of that season.

    Scott Erickson pitched nine games for the Yankees in 2006, two years after a failed stint with the Mets. Before that, he was known for pitching a no-hitter for Minnesota in 1994 and then as an Oriole and on July 14, 1996 he gave up Jeter’s 95th hit, which was a base hit in the third inning of a 4-1 Yankee win.

     Roger Clemens became infamous for a lot of off the field stuff but when he gave up his first hit to Jeter on July 16, 1996, he was in the midst of his last season with the Red Sox because GM Dan Duquette thought he was done and considering the enhancements named in the Mitchell Report that appears likely. But during a night that saw him fall to 4-9, the hit was a double during a four-run second inning, which was Jeter's 98th hit.

     

    Tom Gordon can be described the same way as Quantrill but on July 17, 1996, he was a starting pitcher in Boston and when he gave up Jeter’s 99th hit, it was a double that did not lead to a run in a 12-11 game. Of course the news of Jeter's 99th hit was not a big deal because of TWA flight 800 crashing.

    Ricky Bones was traded to the Yankees but then sent back to Milwaukee, where he faced Jeter on July 20, 1996 and in the sixth inning gave up a base hit, which was Jeter's 104th hit. Of course, Bones is more known for being part of the package San Diego sent to Milwaukee for Gary Sheffield, who was then sent to Florida a year later for Trevor Hoffman.

    C.J. Nitkowski pitched for the Yankees in 2004 for 19 appearances. Eight years earlier, he was a starting pitcher for a 109-loss Tiger team and on August 11, he gave up hits 134 and 135, which were two singles.

    Steve Karsay is pretty active on twitter nowadays and was a Yankee in 2002 and a part of 2003. Before that point, he was with Oakland and on April 4, 1997 he gave up 10 hits, including three to Jeter in a game that saw the Yankees go 3-for-16 with men on base and Jeter fall a home run shy of the cycle. Those hits were 197, 198 and 199 for Jeter.

    Billy Brewer was a Yankee for four games in 1996 and by April 5, 1997 had moved to the Athletics. There he gave a double during Jeter’s four hit game, which was his third career and gave him 203 for his career.

    Allen Watson played with three teams in 1999 and one was the Yankees whom he ended his career with the following year. Before then, Watson was an Angel and on April 9, 1997 he gave up Jeter’s 212th hit, which was the first of 18 Yankee hits that night.

    Jimmy Key was a CY Young candidate in 1993 and 1994. By the time he became Jeter’s teammate, he was breaking down in 1997 he wound up with Baltimore and they were the AL front-runners on June 3. That night in a 7-5 win, Key gave up hits number 256 and 257, a pair of singles.

    Mark Hutton pitched in 21 games for the Yankees, making his debut against the Angels July 23, 1993. After briefly playing with Jeter, he was traded to the Marlins for David Weathers. On June 13, 1997, he was one of six relievers for Al Leiter and in the top of the 12th he gave up a single to Jeter, which was hit number 265 that put men on first and third.

    Cory Lidle sadly was a short-lived Jeter teammate, dying in a plane crash in 2006. Before becoming Jeter’s teammate, he pitched in the first Subway Series in 1997 and on June 17, 1997, he gave up Jeter’s 270th hit, a sixth-inning single. Lidle also would face Jeter at points during the 2001 and 2002 team with some very good Oakland teams.

    Denny Neagle also briefly played with Jeter in 2000 before becoming a poster-child for bad pitching contracts with Colorado. Before joining Jeter, he faced him July 1, 1997 for the Braves and gave up three singles but that did not affect the performance as Neagle improved to 12-1 that night at the stadium despite allowing hits 288, 289 and 290.

    Dan Miceli was a Yankee reliever briefly in 2003 and six years earlier for the Tigers on July 12, 1997, he gave up Jeter’s 300th career hit, an RBI double in the eighth that scored Mark Whiten.

    LaTroy Hawkins pitched briefly here in 2008 and was the opposing pitcher for David Wells’ perfect game. Nine months before May 17, 1998 he fell to 3-7 by allowing eight hits in four innings and one was a leadoff single in the fifth that was Jeter's 325th and preceded a three-run home run by Bernie Williams.

    Aaron Small’s 10-0 record in 2005 became quite the story, which was helped along by Small’s nice persona. Eight years beforehand, he was an Athletics' reliever and faced Jeter on August 27, 1997. Jeter had a bunt single and then scored on Bernie Williams’ two-run go-ahead double but the Yankees lost on an error by Paul O’Neill, taking the hook off Small, who allowed Jeter's 355th hit.

    Scott Kamieniecki came up during the 1991 season but was injured most of 1996 and in 1997 he faced his fellow Michgan fan, allowing a leadoff single on September 14 but then picked him off first base, getting some redemption for allowing Jeter's 370th hit.

    The night of May 6, 1998 in Texas was quite the night as the Yankees picked up a 15-13 and traded seven run innings. Jeter had hits 420-423 and drove in five runs. The last of those hits came off John Wetteland, who mentored Mariano Rivera in 1996 and it was a solo home run in the top of the ninth that provided the 15th run.

    Dan Naulty appeared in 33 games for the 1999 Yankees and eight years after, he admitted to the Daily News of using steroids during his career.  That included 1998 with the Twins when he gave up Jeter’s 428th career hit, a base hit in the sixth inning of a 7-0 Yankee win on May 10, 1998.

    Bartolo Colon has wowed Yankee fans with his fastball this year and June 21, 1998 for the Indians he was doing the same with 10 strikeouts in eight innings of an 11-0 win. He gave up three hits and one was a third-inning single to Jeter, whose 463th hit was a blip in a Cleveland rout.

    Al Leiter was Jeter’s teammate during 2005, a year after his Mets’ tenure ended. On June 26, 1998 at Shea, he gave up hit number 467, a one-out single that chased Leiter in the seventh and led to the Mel Rojas’ second-guess by Tim McCarver after the Paul O’Neill hit a three-run home run.

    Jaret Wright joined the Yankees in 2005 after rescuing his career with the Braves. Before that he was a rising star for the Indians and on July 13, 1998 in Cleveland he faced Jeter, giving up a pair of two-out base hits while beating the Yankees, 4-1.

    Jay Witasick struggled as a Yankee reliever during 2001 but three years earlier was a spot starter for Oakland in a doubleheader on August 4, 1998. That night he gave up Jeter’s 517th hit, a base hit to left field.

    Kenny Rogers played with Jeter for two years before turning into Scott Brosius and he was responsible for hit number 519, an RBI single in the third inning that accounted for the first run of an eventual 10-5 Yankee win in Oakland on August 4, 1998.

    Esteban Loaiza was a 21-game winner for the 2003 White Sox. A year later he was a Yankee but six years before he was on Texas, where he would stay before being sent to Toronto for Michael Young. On August 16, 1998, he gave up Jeter’s 535th and 536th career hits, which were a two-run home run and a double in a 6-5 Yankee win.

    Sidney Ponson was a stopgap Yankee starter during 2006 and 2008 but was more known for his days with the Orioles. On September 19, 1998, Ponson shut out the Yankees for 7 1/3 innings but allowed hits 577 and 578 to Jeter, and those were a pair of singles in a game that was the last game Cal Ripken Jr. played during his run of 2,632 consecutive games, a streak that began when Jeter was seven.

    Freddy Garcia is currently Jeter’s smoke and mirrors teammate with his array of off-speed pitches and the hard-throwing version everyone refers to was a Mariner from 1998-2004, including the day of May 8, 1999. A day after getting five RBI, Jeter settled for hit number 631, a third-inning single in a 14-5 loss.

    Jeff Weaver made his Yankee debut on July 7, 2002. Three years earlier he was a rising pitcher for a dreadful Tigers’ team and on July 8, 1999 at Tiger Stadium Weaver pitched eight innings and allowed two runs and seven hits. Two of those hits were to Jeter, who had hits number 709 and 710, which were singles during the Yankees’ last appearance at that ballpark.

    Javier Vazquez’s two Yankee stints 2004 and 2010 are mostly forgettable, but another Yankee Stadium appearance is memorable. That would be when he opposed David Cone in his perfect game on July 18, 1999 and gave up seven hits, including a two-out two-run home run in the second inning that accounted for hit number 719.

    Mike Thurman’s major league career concluded with 12 appearances for the Yankees but three years earlier he was an Expo for a 7-4 loss at the Stadium on July 20. That night he gave up two singles to Jeter who moved up to 722 and 723 with the hits.

    Jim Brower pitched briefly for the Yankees during 2007. How briefly? It was three appearances from August 6-14, 2007 but eight years earlier he was a September call-up for the Indians. On September 19, 1999, he was gone after 3 1/3 innings after allowing nine hits and six runs. Jeter accounted for one-third with a home run in the third and an RBI single in the fourth and those were hits number 790 and 791.

    Carl Pavano had one of the more forgettable Yankee careers, though he was the opening day starter in 2007. Long before being dubbed “American Idle” by the New York Post, he was known for being traded for Pedro Martinez and the man who gave up Mark McGwire’s 70th home run in 1998. He also was lesser known for allowing Jeter’s 864th hit, a base hit that happened during a five-run fifth inning.

    Tanyon Sturtze was no fan of Pavano as documented in a book about the 2006 season. Long before disliking Pavano, he was a Tampa Bay reliever pitcher and on July 21, 2000, he gave up Jeter’s 917th career hit, which was a leadoff hit in the sixth inning of an 11-1 Yankee victory.

    Jim Mecir was a teammate during the 1996 season but wound up on Tampa Bay in the expansion draft. Although July 22, 2000 was a 12-4 win for Mecir, he did give up Jeter’s 919th career hit, an RBI single in the seventh that made it a one-run game.

    David Cone was Jeter’s teammate from 1995-2000 but in his last season he was 4-14 and the Yankees let him go. So he wound up with the Red Sox and his second start for Boston happened to be May 23, 2001 in Yankee Stadium and that night Jeter had his first career five-hit game. Three of those hits were off Cone, who gave up a double in the first inning and base hits in the third and fifth, accounting for hits number 1,060-1,062.

    CC Sabathia has won 52 times as Jeter’s teammate. Eight years before joining forces on the Yankees, he was a prized rookie for the Indians and on May 26, could not get past the fifth. Jeter had three hits in a 12-5 and the first was a base hit in the third, accounting for hit number 1,066.

    Hideki Irabu was a 12-game winner for the 1998 Yankees, endured the wrath of George Steinbrenner’s mouth in spring training 1999 and was traded for Ted Lilly. On June 13, 2001 he pitched for the Expos and that was the last of his three starts that season as he allowed Jeter’s 1,078th career hit, a double in the first inning.

    If you don’t recall Josh Towers, chances are you are not alone but he made two relief appearances in Sept. 2009. Eight years earlier, he was a rookie for the Orioles and 8-10 on a dreadful team. When he gave up Jeter’s 1,105th career hit on July 5, 2001, it was a double in the first inning that preceded Bernie Williams’ two-run home run.

    Eight years before becoming a Yankee, A.J. Burnett pitched a no-hitter for the Marlins and two months afterwards, he faced Jeter. Burnett would face Jeter several times with Toronto but on July 12, 2001 he gave up three runs on two hits and five walks and was a 9-3 winner though one of the two hits was Jeter’s 1,110th, a third-inning single.

    Armando Benitez had about a two-week Yankee career when he was acquired from the Mets in July 2003 and traded to Seattle in August. About a year before, he gave up Jeter’s 1,279th hit, a game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning of a 4-2 10-inning Yankee victory at Shea on June 14, 2002.

    Similar to Benitez, Mark Wohlers had a short-lived Yankee of 31 games in 2001. A year later on July 2, 2002, Wohlers faced Jeter and allowed his 1,305th hit, a go-ahead single during a seven-run 10th inning during a 10-5 victory over the Indians.

    Chan Ho Park lasted slightly more than Benitez but not as long as Wohlers when he was a Yankee during 2010. Eight years earlier, he was pitching for the Rangers and on August 23, 2001, he gave up Jeter’s 1,355th hit which was a third-inning solo home run in a 6-2 Texas win.

    Ramiro Mendoza was part of the steady bullpens of 1998-2001 but by 2003 he was a Red Sox and on May 20, 2003 in Fenway Park Jeter notched his 1,403rd career hit, a game-tying single in the fifth inning of a 10-7 Yankee loss. Like Eric Hinske, Johnny Damon and Babe Ruth, he won championship rings with the Yankees and Red Sox.

    Brett Tomko had a brief stint with the Yankees during 2009. Six years before he was a starter for the Cardinals and on June 14, 2003 he had to relieve Matt Morris who could only get two outs. That day during a 5 1/3 inning relief stint, he gave up Jeter’s 1423rd and 1424th hit. The first hit of a 13-4 Yankee win was an RBI double for the first run of a four-run second inning. The second hit was a routine single to right field.

    Graeme Lloyd is remembered for his outstanding relief during 1996-1998. He also was included in the 1999 trade for Roger Clemens but four years later he was a Met on a 96-loss team and on the night of June 22, he allowed Jeter’s 1431st hit, which was a 10th-inning single of a 7-3 Yankee win that reached extra innings when Benitez walked four in the ninth.

    Jake Westbrook pitched very briefly in June 2000 before being included in the David Justice trade. Remarkably he remained in Cleveland until last summer’s trade to the Cardinals and three years into his Indians’ tenure on July 20, 2003; he gave up Jeter’s 1467th and 1468th hits, which were a single in the first and a double in the fifth of a 7-4 Yankee win.

    Rafael Soriano’s big contract was based on the 45 saves he had last year for Tampa Bay. Seven years before cashing in, he was 63 appearances into a career that began with Seattle in 2002. On August 8, 2003, he relieved Ryan Franklin and gave up Jeter’s 1,491st hit, which was a sixth-inning base hit during a five-run sixth that saw all the runs go unearned because of a Mark McLemore error.

    You are forgiven if you don’t recall Darrell May but the evidence shows that the final two of his 161 career appearances were for the Yankees in July 2005. Two years earlier he was a respectable 10-8 for the only winning Royals’ team since the 1994 strike but on August 12, 2003, he was a 6-0 loser and that included allowing Jeter’s 1,496th hit, which was an RBI single in the third inning.

    Jason Grimsley was a Yankee in 1999-2000 and three years was plying his craft for the Royals. On August 18, 2003, he was responsible for Jeter’s 1,505th career hit, which was a leadoff single in the eighth of an 11-6 Yankee win.

    Like May, Alan Embree pitched briefly during the summer of 2005 for the Yankees. Their quest for pitching was so encompassing that they even were willing to sign the pitcher responsible for making the final out of the 2004 ALCS. A year before that moment, Embree was in Grady Little’s bullpen. On August 30, 2003, he gave up Jeter’s 1,518th hit, a double in the eighth inning of a 10-7 Yankee win.

    Keeping with the 2005 theme, Buddy Groom also pitched here, doing so for 24 games with an ERA of 4.91. Two years before joining the Yankees, he faced Jeter in the first game of a doubleheader on Sept. 26, 2003 and the result was hit number 1,543, a leadoff double in the seventh of an 11-2 win.

    Before he was acquired twice by Brian Cashman, Chad Gaudin was a reliever for the 2004 Rays. On April 7, 2004 he faced Jeter and allowed hit number 1,549, which was an eighth-inning double in a 3-2 Yankee win.

    Ron Villone made 717 appearances for 11 teams and 107 were for the Yankees in 2006-2007. Two years before joining the Yankees, Villone was in his last year making occasional starting appearances and on August 13, 2004, he gave up hits number 1,675 and 1,676 while allowing eight runs and 10 hits. The first hit was a leadoff single in the third inning and the second hit was a double in the fourth when the Yankees went up 10-0.

    The 2002 Jeff Weaver trade was mentioned and one of the moving players was Ted Lilly. Three years later, Lilly was a Blue Jay and on May 1, 2005 he gave up Jeter’s 1,766th hit, which was a fifth-inning single during a four-run fifth. That gave the Yankees a 6-3 lead but when they walked off the field with an 8-6 loss - that set in motion the promotion of Robinson Cano from the minors.

    Kyle Farnsworth was a Yankee from 2006-2008 and was not really good during his three seasons until 2008 which was when he was flipped to Detroit for Ivan Rodriguez. A year before becoming a Yankee, Farnsworth was a Tiger and on May 26, 2005, he gave up Jeter’s 1790th hit, which was an eighth-inning single in a 4-3 Yankee win.

    Joe Borowski was a Yankee for nine relief appearances in 1997 and 1998. He also has given up two notable grand slams to Yankees in odd-numbered years for the Cubs and Indians. One was Jeter’s 1,811th career hit on June 18, 2005, which also was his first and only grand slam in the fifth sixth inning of an 8-1 win.

    Bob Wickman was part of the 1992 deal that sent Steve Sax to the White Sox. A year later while Jeter was in his first full year of pro ball, Wickman was a Yankee starter who opened with eight straight wins. Three years later Wickman moved to the bullpen and then Milwaukee but nine years after leaving the Yankees, he was closing games for the Indians and on July 9, 2005, he gave up Jeter’s 1,838th career hit which was a bunt single during an 8-7 Indians’ win.

    Seven years after bursting on the scene, “El Duque” was in the process of winning a ring for the White Sox. On August 20, 2005, he gave hit number 1882, which was a fourth inning single that led off a three-run inning of a 6-0 Yankee win.

    In that same game as above, 2007 Yankee Luis Vizcaino gave up hit number 1883. That hit was a ninth-inning single with the game already decided. You might remember Vizcaino as being part of the 2007 Randy Johnson that sent him back to Arizona.

    On the same day Boston shifted the makeup of its 2004 roster, the Yankees traded disappointing Jose Contreras to the White Sox for Loaiza, a 21-game winner the year before. It seemed like a logical move but Contreras was a 15-game winner during 2005 and Loaiza was in Washington. On August 21, 2005, he allowed 11 hits but just two runs. Two of those hits were to Jeter, who singled in the third and fifth for hits number 1,884 and 1,885.

    Todd Williams won’t have his own day at the Stadium but he was a Yankee for 15 games in 2001. After allowing five runs in Detroit on July 18, he did not make another major league appearance until July 21, 2004 for the Orioles. Fourteen months later on September 28, 2005, he was making his 70th appearance for Baltimore and in the seventh inning, he gave up hit number 1,932, which was the go-ahead single in a 2-1 win.

    Brad Halsey became Jeter’s teammate when the Yankees needed a starting pitcher in June 2004. Eight appearances and a 6.47 ERA were all the Yankees saw because they included him the Randy Johnson deal. After being dealt for Johnson, Halsey wound up with Oakland and made seven starts. One was May 13, 2006 when he allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings and that included giving up hit number 1,981, which was a leadoff home run in the third inning.

    Bret Prinz appeared in 26 games for the Yankees in 2004 with a respectable 3.00 ERA but three years later he was the final week of his major league career and on June 7, 2007 with the White Sox, he gave up Jeter’s 2,227th hit which was a ninth-inning single during a six-run inning of Joe Torre’s 2,000th career victory.

    Shawn Chacon was a godsend in the summer of 2005 but when he pitched to a 7.00 ERA in 2006, he was sent to the Pirates for Craig Wilson. The rest of Chacon’s career did not end well and on June 10, 2007 he gave up Jeter’s 2,231 career hit, which was a base hit in an inning that gave the Yankees an 8-6 lead.

    Dustin Moseley was a spot starter/reliever for the 2010 Yankees and now is in San Diego. Three years before becoming a Yankee, he gave up Jeter’s 2,266th hit during a wild 14-9 Yankee win. The hit was an RBI single in the eighth inning that gave the Yankees a 14-9 lead.

    Boone Logan joined the Yankees in the same deal that included Javier Vazquez and made more of a contribution than Vazquez. Two years before joining forces with Jeter he gave up number 2,375 which was a ninth-inning single in a 7-6 White Sox victory.

    Billy Traber was one of 27 Yankee pitchers in 2008 and in 2009 he was one of 24 hurlers used by the Red Sox. The night of August 6, 2009 was his only Red Sox appearance and last major league appearance and probably the reason was he allowed five runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings reliving John Smoltz. One hit was number 2,671 for Jeter, who had an RBI single in the sixth of a 13-6 win.

    Kerry Wood holds the distinction of being the last Jeter teammate to allow a hit and that happened on May 29, 2010 in a wild 13-11 Cleveland win. Wood was called on for the save and, after balking Curtis Granderson to second, he gave up Jeter’s RBI double, which was hit number 2,810.

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    A lifetime of Jeter hits

    Monday, July 11, 2011, 1:40 AM [General]

    Seventeen seasons is a long time and a lot can happen in that span. Some of us can go from being in the 10th grade to graduating college, to getting their first full-time job, seeing it move and making adjustments due to circumstances beyond our control.

    Along that span, you might even get a chance to see a Yankee game or two or a few hundred in person from the stands or from somewhere else in the stadium. Along the way, you might travel occasionally to a few other venues within your own city or somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone.

    Wherever you’ve seen the Yankees, chances are you’ve seen Derek Jeter play and get a hit, especially since he has 3,004 of those.  With the internet, you can combine having a good memory to figure out how many hits you’ve seen in person but thanks to the list compiled by the Yankee public relations, it’s pretty easy so by determination I’ve 654 of Jeter’s hits in person, which accounts for a little more than 20 percent and in case you’re wondering what I mean, keep reading.

    8 – The first time I saw Jeter in person, the Yankees struggled to draw following the strike and on June 7, 1995, I was there for Jeter’s eighth career hit, a two-out infield single to shortstop Mike Bordick. Jeter was 1-for-3 that night and those who had free tickets courtesy of the Daily News, watched Andy Pettitte’s first career victory. Pettitte was there because Buck Showalter’s last pitching staff for the Yankees was riddled with injuries to the likes of Jimmy Key and Melido Perez.

    58-59 – The next time I saw Jeter get a hit was nearly a year later in an otherwise forgettable 12-7 loss to Toronto. It was not that forgettable for Jeter though as his 58th hit was a solo home run of Pat Hentgen and that went down as his first Yankee Stadium home run. Jeter then had hit 59 with an infield single to Domingo Cedeno, so this was the first multi-hit game seen in person.

    453 – When you get so many hits, you get some off so many types of pitchers from the superstar to those whose taste of the majors is brief. On May 28, 1998 Brian Barkley made the first of his six career appearances for the Red Sox and the second of 16 hits allowed was a single to left by Jeter in the eighth inning.

    465 – One of the weird things about interleague play is how it tests certain people’s rooting interest. By now, you know Met fans would never root for the Yankees but on June 23, 1998 what if your team was 8 ½ games behind the Braves, who were in the Bronx that night, what team do you cheer for? The person I was with couldn’t quite get over this and rooted for the Braves during their 7-2 victory while booing when Jeter hit a solo home run off Tom Glavine.

    470 – Five days later was the first time I saw a Met-Yankee game in person, so I saw Jeter’s career exploits in the "Subway Series" for the first time. Jeter had a sixth inning single in a 2-1 game that was decided in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly and games like this eventually led to six meetings between the teams.

    536-537 – By mid-August the Yankees were cruising towards their 90th victory and on August 6, 1998, they reached it in style with a Bernie Williams upper deck shot in the ninth off Xavier Hernandez. Jeter had a hand in the 6-5 victory with three hits, including a two-run home run in the first off future teammate Esteban Loaiza.

    628-630 – A 10-1 game in early-May can be a routine affair especially in rainy weather except this night Jeter had a five-RBI night with three coming on a three-run home run off Seattle’s Mac Suzuki and that made Hideki Irabu a winner, especially when Jeter also had a two-run single off a pitcher named Eric Weaver in this May 7, 1999 game.

    685-686 – Four years after giving up the first hit, Tim Belcher had moved on to the Angels and in a 4-2 victory he gave up five hits in eight innings with one being a single to Jeter. Jeter also had another hit off Troy Percival that loaded the bases in the ninth but nothing developed out of it on June 20, 1999.

    1060-1064 – Jeter has three five-hit regular season games and this was the first on May 23, 2001. It was a few days after graduating college and during the mini-break I had set for myself and working for SportsTicker in Jersey City. That night David Cone returned as a Red Sox and Jeter’s night began with a first-inning double to right field. In the third he singled and did so again in the fifth. In the seventh, he took care of the home run by going deep against Tim Wakefield and in the eighth he reached on an infield single against Rod Beck.

    1092 – June 26, 2001 – There’s nothing really memorable about a June loss to the Indians except when it’s the first time you stepped into a major league press box, doing so on a day off to earn a little extra money. Other than having one of those day of game passes and doing pitch-by-pitch over the phone, I don’t remember much, not even Jeter’s single in the first off Charles Nagy. All I remember is reading some of the quotes that appeared in the story over the phone.

    You get the idea, this list could go on and go past the 3,000 words that Joe Posnanski wrote for Sports Illustrated, so this is some of the cliff notes version or the one that won’t keep someone up to 4 AM compiling it.

    Obviously everyone else remembers hits for various reasons such a games attended with best friends, girlfriends/boyfriends, parents. The more notable ones have been documented all over the place, but 17 years worth of hits is a lifetime for some, half a lifetime for others and a significant part of watching and following baseball in New York for the last two decades.

    Starting with the 2005 season, I became more of a regular at the stadium, especially in the part that gets you access to the clubhouse. It was a good way to do something on the side and meet numerous people along the way while Jeter is getting hits in front of your eyes and ears.

    While keeping score of hundreds of Yankee games, I’ve seen things such as hit number 2,000, a little knubber down in front of the catcher (Paul Bako) that was ruled one-and-one (a hit and error). It was ruled that way because the field was wet; Bako rushed his throw to beat a hustling Jeter. The only thing that could have spoiled to moment was a loss and that’s what happened when the Royals wound up with a 7-6 win that was one of several Friday games delayed by rain.

    "A hit’s a hit," Jeter said that night. "But we should have won this game. We let a couple of opportunities get away.

    "You appreciate the fans and their reaction, but at the time we were losing. The percentages were on their side to win,"

    A month later on June 25, 2006, Jeter had hits 2,026 and 2,027 off a rookie named Anibal Sanchez in the second game of a Sunday day-night doubleheader against the Marlins. Joe Girardi managed the Marlins that night and saw Sanchez allow two hits to Jeter, one extra-base hit in front of 6,809 fans.

    "This was like my dream," Sanchez said that night. "All the time when I was a little kid, I dreamed about pitching in Yankee Stadium. That was a great opportunity the Marlins gave me."

    Various circumstances bring people chances to see these hits, whether you’re one of the pitchers giving them up, one of the people writing about it or one of the people sitting in the stands. People dream about seeing it in some capacity and Sanchez’s words that night speak to that.

    Of course any Jeter-related piece would be unwise to neglect his contributions in moments of others such as Mariano Rivera. Rivera went from 400 to 500 saves in a span of slightly under three years. The 400th save was July 16, 2006 and Jeter helped the cause with a first-inning home run off current teammate Freddy Garcia, which was hit number 2,052 during a season that Jeter batted .342

    Number 500 was June 28, 2009 at Citi Field and despite battling a cold most of the weekend and not playing the previous two days, Jeter couldn’t miss this and he helped Rivera with a base hit in the first inning off Livan Hernandez during a three-run first inning that was hit 2,624 during a year Jeter batted .334.

    "He’s the definition of consistency,".

    Those were some of Jeter’s words that night about Rivera. And Saturday after his 5-for-5 performance put him over 3,000 hits, those were some of the words coming from Rivera and others as people tried to define the significance of the milestone in a year that has generated so much chatter and content for the wrong reasons and the kind that make you want to turn the radio to FM and turn off the internet sometimes.

    It is not easy to stand in there and face the array of pitches coming from 60 feet away. It is not easy to try and guess the next pitch but 3,004 times Jeter has guessed correctly or at least gotten enough of his bat on pitches and because of that, he has joined a club with 28 members out of thousands of people who have tried to do the same on the major league level.

    Follow Larry Fleisher on twitter: @larryfleisher

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    Another Rodriguez Thwarts Jeter

    Friday, July 8, 2011, 2:21 AM [General]

    For years, especially since 2004, Derek Jeter has always been linked to a third baseman with the surname Rodriguez. The reasons are varied and have been played out in tabloids and various books.

    As Jeter’s quest for 3,000 hits continues its summer tour this weekend at Yankee Stadium, he is linked to a Rodriguez. Here’s a hint, his first name is not Alex and he has never played with Jeter.

    The man is Sean Rodriguez, a utility man acquired by the Rays two summers ago from the Angels for Scott Kazmir. Rodriguez happened to be playing third base last night and as fate would have it his path crossed with Jeter.

    Rather, his glove crossed with Jeter’s swings. Jeter went 1-for-5 last night and in the four instances following his 2,998th career hit, he grounded out.

    Three of those occasions the groundouts headed Rodriguez’s way.

    Rodriguez spends his time in the field going between second, third and shortstop. Last night was his 14th start and 26th appearance at third and in 2010, he made seven appearances there.

    Rodriguez was there because regular DH Johnny Damon sat out with a swelled left hand and Evan Longoria was his replacement.

    The first meeting between Rodriguez and Jeter was in the fifth. Jeter hinted at a bunt and Rodriguez played off the bag. 

    Jeter hit a sharp grounder down the line, a surefire base hit, except it wasn’t. Rodriguez dove, moved the glove across his body and unleashed a throw that just beat Jeter.

    "It definitely was not a routine play," Rodriguez said to reporters. "But it’s something I practice to try to make it a routine play."

    The next time Jeter and Rodriguez crossed paths it was in the ninth with a high chopper that bounced but didn’t reach the infield dirt. Rodriguez did not make a clean grab but threw low into first baseman Casey Kotchman’s glove.

    "You always say you want to be that guy," Rodriguez said. "Then sure enough, you end up taking hits from that guy."

    And last night, another guy named Rodriguez was that guy.

    "If he gets it, obviously it will be exciting. I'm going to do everything I can obviously to not let him get it, but that's just like I will with anybody else. I don't want anybody to get hits," Rodriguez told reporters. "He's definitely going to get it eventually and it's going to be something that's well deserved, a guy like him, the way he's always played the game. Just great example, a great role model for a lot of young kids that watch him and try and emulate him."

    And future opposing third baseman will want to emulate Rodriguez.

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    Serenity Always with CC on the mound

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011, 12:56 AM [General]

    Every time CC Sabathia takes the mound at Yankee Stadium, his song of choice is Notorious B.I.G's hit "Big Poppa". Even with some lyrics that probably can't be repeated here, it has a beat of serenity and calmness that signals things will be all right or in recent cases - more than all right.

    That is an appropriate theme for one of the most laid-back personalities in the game, the type who will freely roam around the clubhouse joking around with teammates in the hours before starts.

    Many times, the kind of pitching display that Sabathia has put on gets overshadowed by things such as the inconsistencies of A.J. Burnett or the developmental obstacles of Phil Hughes. It's like a former boss once said in Jersey City - nobody says anything unless you do something wrong - and nowadays that tends to happen.

    Even if dominance gets overshadowed, what Sabathia is doing right now is downright impressive. In his last three starts, spanning 22 2/3 innings, he has allowed one run, 18 hits and struck out 33.

    If you want impressive, how about this. He struck out eight by swings and misses against Colorado, all 13 that way against Milwaukee and all 11 that way last night against the Indians.

    That now gives Sabathia 169 wins two weeks before he turns 31. Sabathia is signed through the 2015 season (assuming he doesn't opt out) and that takes him until his 35th birthday. Sabathia is on pace to 23 games and that would put him at 178 through this season.

    It would also put him 122 wins shy of 300 for his career and his three-year average as a Yankee would be 21 wins. If he maintained that pace, he would reach 300 sometime in the 2017 season.

    Even last night's dominance was overshadowed by Derek Jeter getting two hits and needing four more to get to 3,000. While Jeter was roping a double to left field and reaching on an infield single, Sabathia was doing his thing and nowadays that is piling up outs.

    Before this stretch, Sabathia had won consecutive games over the Cubs and Rangers despite allowing four runs apiece. He was a winner because the Yankees scored 22 times in those instances but right now even with the continued run support this might be Sabathia's best three start stretch of the season, especially since Sabathia has not had consecutive double-digit strikeout games since becoming a Yankee.

    Perhaps there's motivation of not being an All-Star. Normally the league leader in victories would be headed there, but because he is scheduled to start Sunday, Sabathia was not picked.

    It is a decision being widely debated and in public, Sabathia has said all the right things. But know this, whether he's headed to the All-Star game or on a family trip Sabathia is the picture of serenity on the mound and the Yankees are better for it.

    Sabathia will eventually get the attention he deserves for being so consistent, especially when and if he reaches those milestones. For now just enjoy the calm aura that Sabathia presents every time he takes the mound.

     

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