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    Another unfamilar face beat the Yankees

    Monday, August 16, 2010, 1:25 AM [General]

    Every time the Yankees lose to a pitcher they have neither seen before, people wonder why they are unable to get it done.  Yesterday, Bryan Bullington became another of those unknowns to shut down the Yankees.

    He held the Yankees to two hits in eight innings and joined a list that includes David Tomlin of Cleveland and Sean O'Sullivan then of Anaheim.

    Amazingly if Bullington's career had progressed by now the Yankees might have seen him at some point.  Eight years ago, the Pirates selected him with the top pick of the 2002 draft and through three seasons in the minor leagues, his career progressed somewhat.

    Bullington was 34-17 at four different levels but only made six appearances as a Pirate and took a 0-7 lifetime record into yesterday.  Yesterday, the Yankees never saw more than 10 pitches per inning and the at-bats clearly struck a nerve with manager Joe Girardi, who said the following:

    “I get tired of talking about it, I know that. You look for the ball, and you hit it. That’s the bottom line. I know when you haven’t seen a guy you aren’t exactly sure what he’s going to do to you, but we have a lot of good hitters in the lineup.”

    The loss was the eighth in 14 games for the Yankees but hardly the first time Girardi seemed that forceful on this topic.  If you flashback to June 18, 2009, you might recall a 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, whose starter Craig Stammen allowed six hits in a 6 1/3 innings.  The topic of unknown pitchers was broached yet again and though I don't recall the exact quote, I do recall Girardi getting agitated at losing to these pitchers.

    What actually is more interesting is how long it took for Bullington to get his win since he was the first starting pitcher drafted that year and usually pitchers drafted that high get called up quickly.  So here's a look at that and note this is not necessarily the first overall pick but the first starting pitcher taken over the last 25 years.

    2009 draft Stephen Strassburg - first career start, 6/8 vs. Pirates

    2008 draft Brian Matusz - first career start 8/4/09 at Detroit

    2007 draft David Price - third career start 5/30/09 vs. Minnesota

    2006 draft Luke Hochevar - third career start 4/26/08 vs. Toronto

    2005 draft Ricky Romero - first career start 4/9/09 vs.  Detroit

    2004 draft Justin Verlander - third career start 4/8/06 vs. Texas

    2003 dradt Kyle Sleeth - Tommy John surgery, retired in 2008 and never pitched above Double-A

    2002 draft Bryan Bullington - seventh career start, 8/15/10 vs. Yankees

    2001 draft Mark Prior - first career start 5/22/02 vs. Pirates now pitching with the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball league following numerous injuries with the Cubs

    2000 draft Adam Johnson - third career start 7/26/01 at Oakland, pitched in the Golden Baseball League in 2009

    1999 draft Josh Beckett - first career start 9/4/01 vs. Cubs

    1998 draft Mark Mulder - first career start 4/18/00 at Cleveland - 103-game winner, retired this year

    1997 draft Jason Grilli - first career start 5/11/00 vs. Atlanta

    1996 draft Kris Benson - first career start 4/9/99 vs. Cubs - currently pitching for Reno of the Pacific Coast League

    1995 draft Kerry Wood - second career start 4/18/98 vs. Dodgers

    1994 draft Paul Wilson - fourth career start 4/22/96 vs. Reds - injury-plagued career of 40-58 that ended in 2005

    1993 draft Darren Dreifort - 39th appearance 8/30/96 at Phillies - injury-plagued career of 48-60 that ended in 2004

    1992 draft B.J. Wallace - 44 starts in the minors, none above Class A and last pitched with Clearwater in 1996

    1991 draft Brien Taylor 82 minor league starts, none above Class AA and none since 1998 with Greensboro

    1990 draft Alex Fernandez - second career start 8/7/00 at Royals (made six minor league starts)

    1989 draft Ben McDonald - sixth career appearance 10/1/89 at Blue Jays - 78-70 career record

    1988 draft Andy Benes - third career start 8/23/89 at Phillies - 155 wins retired in 2002

    1987 draft Willie Banks - second career start 8/6/91 at Angels - 33 wins in 181 games, currently pitching with the Newark Bears

    1986 draft Greg Swindell - fourth career start 9/6/86 at Brewers - 123-122 in 17 seasons, retired in 2002

    1985 draft Bobby Witt - third career start 4/22/86 at Blue Jays - 142-157 in 16 season, retired after 2001

    As you can see, there is a mixed bag of how someone's career turns out and how in some instances it doesn't pan out.  Looking at Taylor, Wallace, Sleeth, I'm sure Bullington knows how fortunate he is to be still around an organization eight years after he was the top pitcher selected.

    "At times," Bullington said, "there were days in Triple-A where it felt like I was never going to get another shot.”

    That was what Bullington said after his start and now because of the Yankees' inability to hit him, he will get another shot and not experience the stark differences between living in the minors and majors.
    0 (0 Ratings)

    A-Rod kind of pulls a Reggie

    Sunday, August 15, 2010, 12:55 AM [General]

    Last night was a clinic of sorts from Alex Rodriguez, who reminded people that he still has some power, especially when the mechanics are right.

    In Kansas City, Rodriguez put on a hitting clinic that made us think back to years such as 2007 and 2005.  On three straight at-bats, he hit three home runs, connecting on a solo shot in the sixth and two-run drives in the seventh and ninth inning.

    In some ways, he pulled a "Reggie" by matching what Reggie Jackson did in Game Six of the 1977 World Series That is homering off three different pitchers on three consecutive at-bats, except that Rodriguez did not do it on three straight pitches

    Here's how each of those at-bats developed:

    Leading off the sixth against Sean O'Sullivan - changeup at the knees for a foul ball, sinker at the belt for a foul ball, sinker at the shoulders for ball one.  The home run pitch was a sinker on the inside corner around the knees that Rodriguez lifts to center field.

    One out in the seventh with Mark Teixeira on first and facing Kanekoa Teixeira - first-pitch fastball that was virtually the same location and lifted to center field.

    Nobody out in the ninth with Teixeira on first and facing Greg Holland - slider just misses the outside corner for ball one, slider over the plate that is called a ball, inside fastball slightly above the knees.

    The second home run was his 20th giving him 15 straight seasons of 20 home runs and since I'm into lists, here's the date and place when he reached 20 in previous years:

    2009 - August 7 off Boston's Junichi Tazawa in the 15th inning

    2008 - July 18 off Oakland's Dallas Braden in the sixth inning

    2007 - June 3 off Boston's Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the ninth

    2006 - July 16 off Chicago's Freddy Garcia in the first

    2005 - June 21 off Tampa Bay's Travis Harper in the eighth

    2004 - July 5 off Detroit's Nate Robertson in the second

    2003 - June 30 off Anaheim's Ben Weber in the top of the eighth

    2002 - June 5 off Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn in the top of the fourth

    2001 - June 17 off Houston's Scott Elarton in the top of the fifth

    2000 - June 19 off Tampa Bay's Albie Lopez in the third

    1999 - July 19 off Arizona's Vicente Padilla in the sixth

    1998 - May 28 off Tampa Bay's Jason Johnson in the top of the third

    1997 - August 22 off New York's Kenny Rogers in the first

    1996 - July 16 off Oakland's Bobby Chouinard in the top of the third

    The three home runs put Rodriguez on a pace for 29, but I have a feeling he will find a way to hit nine in the last 46 games.  By hitting 21 through 109 games that he has played, that comes out to one every five games.  Another factor that seems to be in his favor is this:

    Before the break, Rodriguez played 82 games and homered 14 times.  Since the break, he is halfway to that total in 27 games.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    The stark differences between the two New York teams

    Thursday, August 12, 2010, 2:37 AM [General]

    If you want to know the stark differences between the two teams in New York, the events of last night might be a good starting point.

    In Flushing, the Mets failed for the 15th time since late June to win consecutive games, losing in a fashion that sadly for their fans, especially those that are my closest friends and Met fans, has become all too familiar.  It was a 6-2 loss to the Rockies, a team that actually is in the race but that doesn't tell the whole story.

    The Mets were close to a 2-1 victory despite getting three hits and one after the second batter of the game.  It was a case of terrible at-bats and if you don't believe me, consider this - seven straight hitters struck out at one point (five swinging, two foul tips).  What that tells me is a lot of long looping swings, not the short compact swings you should see.

    Of course that was the least of the problems since when I later found out that Francisco Rodriguez was charged with third degree assault.

    Before this, Rodriguez was the subject of an unpopular mangerial decision.  With a one-run lead, four outs to go and two on, you can either let your eighth inning guy or bring in the closer.  The last time I saw this scenario was Monday when Jonathan Papelbon relieved Daniel Bard.  So common sense would think you would do that and naturally when Melvin Mora hit a grand slam, that had you scratching your head.  However this quote from Jerry Manuel confounds me and probably anyone else who watched this game:

    "Usually, when K-Rod has been out there one night, we don't expect him to get a four-out or five-out save the next night. If we're going to ask him to get that extra out, we're probably going to lose him in the next 10 to 15 days."

    On to the starkly different side of things is what the Yankees pulled off in Texas.  The odds seemed stacked last night in Texas against Cliff Lee.  Lee did his part by striking out 11 hitters in 6 1/3 innings without a walk.  He had a 6-1 lead but was gone after 106 pitches.

    The top of the ninth was a joy to watch from a Yankee standpoint.  Against Neftali Feliz and facing a 6-5 deficit, it started when Lance Berkman fouled off two fastballs and walked. Next was Brett Gardner, who fought back from an 0-2 count and slapped a single.  A wild pitch moved runners to second and third, forcing Texas to bring the infield in or walk Derek Jeter, setting up a force at any base for Nick Swisher.  Instead Texas, brought the infield in and Jeter found the right spot with a chopper that scored the tying run.

    Marcus Thames, whose batting third for Mark Teixeira, drew the ire of some Yankee fans on twitter and facebook then produced the big hit and Mariano Rivera stranded Elvis Andrus on third by getting the final three outs in style.

    So there you have it, two teams playing in ballparks seperated by the Tri-Boro Bridge and roughly 10 miles apart.

    On one side, you have horrible at-bats, a toxic environment due to a frustrated fanbase and pitcher about to be arraigned.

    On the other side, you have a team chipping away (getting those famous Joe Torre small bites), players stepping up in the absence of others and a team that has won 70 of 113 games.

    It's not the first time the Yankees have been worlds apart from the Mets.  Considering the toxic environment in Queens, it might be the most noticeable especially in this day and age of blogging, social networking, messageboards and sports talk radio.

     

    2.8 (1 Ratings)

    Three and a Half Hours of Intrigue

    Monday, August 9, 2010, 11:30 PM [General]

    In many instances, a game that takes three hours, 33 minutes does not end at 2-1.  Usually it's a slugfest, but today's game between the Yankees and Red Sox was among the more interesting the teams have played.

    A game like this is so intriguing because one move, one swing or one pitch could alter its outcome and at the end, you're left wondering what if?

    That is the case for the losing side, which in this case was the Yankees, who were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.  The trickiness and intrigue began when the Yankees reached the seventh and put two on.

    First Jorge Posada singled.  And since Posada is slow, is the strategy here to pinch run Gardner to try and move from first to third on a single or steal a base and score on a base hit?

    Posada made it to third but you have to wonder if Gardner would have scored from first when Marcus Thames' double deflected off the center field wall.

    So it remained 2-0 as opposed to 2-1 and the Yankees then loaded the bases for Curtis Granderson. 

    At that point, knowing Granderson's .206 batting average off lefties, would you pinch hit there.  Perhaps on other days with righties Austin Kearns (.240 off lefties) or Thames (.328 off lefties) it would have been considered but the problem was both players were in the lineup and thus the only other option would have been Lance Berkman (.185 off lefties).

    That means it was up to Granderson, who had seen seven pitches to that point and flew out in both at-bats on Lester's cutter.  Of those pitches, only two were off-speed (curveballs).  Lester almost retired Granderson on another cutter but that pitch was a close ball one so Lester went with the curveball.

    It was Lester's 15th and final curveball and Granderson swung right through it.  That was the out Terry Francona wanted and next up was Daniel Bard, whose first six pitches were the following:

    98, 98, 99, 98, 98, 99.

    But the seventh inning was a bunch of what if situations only to be followed by the eighth?

    That started with Mark Teixeira homering and left you wondering if Gardner had ran for Posada would the game have been tied instead of a one-run game.  Gardner made his appearance as a pinch runner for Alex Rodriguez but never ran as Bard made four pick off throws and at least two were close.

    The hits in the eighth came off Bard's fastball, so against Robinson Cano he switched it up. 

    After two fastballs, Bard got Cano to swing and miss on a changeup that was nine to 10 miles less than the fastballs.  The next two pitches were fastballs but Cano made good contact, so by then it might have been enough fastballs to Cano. So it was time to get back to the changeups and sure enough that's what Bard did and with a seven mile per hour decrease from the previous pitch and an offering on the outer edge, Cano lunged for it and grounded out.

    While that was an impressive outcome for Bard, he was not out of the woods and when his changeup missed for ball four to Posada, he faced Berkman.  Like Jeter and Swisher in the seventh, it was fastball, fastball, fastball and the end result a popup.

    Bard also had 29 pitches and had not exceeded 30 pitches since doing it five times last year, so it was time to close it out, even if it meant the four-out save.

    First pitch was a splitter and an out by Kearns, who had only seen Jonathan Papelbon's splitter through video tape.

    In the ninth, Papelbon went mostly splitter against Granderson, who fouled off two of those and a regular fastball. At that point, Papelbon might have gone with something off-speed but instead chose a splitter that was located right at the knees.

    Next came Jeter, who walked on a six-pitch at-bat.  Jeter did the smart thing by stealing second as Nick Swisher struck out, forcing another possible decision.

    Do you walk Teixeira, (0-for-8 lifetime vs. Papelbon but red-hot with the bat right now) and face Gardner, who on July 6, 2008 hit a game-ending single in extra innings off Papelbon in an eight-pitch at-bat featuring four foul balls.

    Teixeira had not faced Papelbon since making the final out of a 4-3 loss in Boston on June 11, 2009.  That day the sequence was four consecutive four-seam fastballs and it was a hard lineout to first.  Yesterday, it was all fastballs but located in different spots and when Teixeira swung at a splitter just off the outside corner, the Red Sox had their win and the Yankees began getting ready for the Texas Rangers.

    "I felt good," said Papelbon. "I think if I can put my body in a position to be at its best, my pitches are going to be at their best. I think that goes hand in hand. I felt good today. I would say that was one of the better days I've felt this year."

    It certainly showed in that at-bat to Teixeira.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    First Week has been great except for the Batting Average

    Sunday, August 8, 2010, 7:55 PM [General]

    Lance Berkman's first week as a Yankee and playing major league baseball outside Houston has been great - except for one thing.

    The one thing is a major component and that is performance at the plate.  Though Berkman was acquired in the midst of his worst offensive season, the Yankees liked his track record.

    That was a career batting average of .299 through 11 seasons with the Astros.  Similar to Mickey Mantle, it would have been .300 or better but last year's .274 knocked his career average from .302 to .299.

    Following a 2-for-22 start with the Yankees, it now stands at .296 but Berkman is trying to get that back up and get his swing going back to where it should be.

    "With the exception of hitting under .100 it's been great."  If I can get a few more hits, it would be great."

    Most players have a similar response to questions about fan reaction and Berkman is certainly no different.

    "That comes with the territory.  I'd be disappointed if they weren't booing, then I wouldn't feel like I wasn't in New York."

    Now comes the interesting part of listening to a hitter explain things:

    Q: What are you doing mechanically?

    A:  There's a couple of things.  That's the thing I wasn't hitting good in Houston.  I was having the worst year of my career.  I haven't had a good feel all year long.  I'm about at my wits end.  The key is taking a consistent swing.  I've been taking a good swing every once in a while but I am doing it like I have in the past like I've really locked in a good swing for most of the year.  That's when I have some good years.  But when you get into... you take one good swing and then you have four or five swings that aren't very good, you're not going to be good and you just have to be consistent.  I don't know how I've gotten away from it.  I don't know what's happened and I'm going to try to get me out of it.  That's the case this year and I'm going to keep working hard.

    Q:  It seems like you take one or two steps forward for progress and then you regress:

    A:  Yeah, you have a couple of good at-bats and then there's a couple you get a good pitch to hit and you end up grounding out because you don't make a good swing.

    Q: Have you had that feeling at all with the Yankees.

    A: Yeah, as bad as the numbers are I can be easily be 6-for-20 whatever I am, which is certainly a lot better shape than I am right now.  I've probably hit four balls right on the nose and they've gone right to somebody.  It happens to you too.  When things aren't going good it snowballs. You hit a ball good and the guy makes a diving catch, which it did the other night or lined out to the first baseman.  It's just stuff like that.

    Q: Are the good swings resulting in hard outs a positive sign:

    A:  It could be.  You've got to start somewhere.  What you have to do is do that more (than once or twice).  You have to hit the ball hard, hit the ball hard, hit the ball hard and they start to fall for you.

    Q:  It's also tough sometimes when you hear a lot of different voices:

    A: I've been around long enough to know what the problem is.  So when somebody makes a suggestion I know whether they know what they're talking about or whether to kind of discard it whether it pertains to my swing.  That's part of being around for a long time.  You learn your body, you learn what you're doing when you're going well as opposed to what you're doing when you're not going well.

    Q: What do you think could be the problem?

    A:  Technically it has to do with not using my leg like I should.  I think that stems from the leg injuries I've had the last couple of years and they both have been on my left leg.  I missed a month last year with a calf injury on my left leg and I had knee surgery on my left knee and missed all of spring training and the first two weeks of the season and I think that is a big part of why I've gotten out of whack mechanically because I'm not using my legs in my swing like I normally do or I haven't been doing it for a period of time. Now's it become a habit the wrong way and I've got to try and get back to where I was a couple of years ago.

    Q: Could the out of whack mechanics be related to the surgery and made you a little hesistant?

    A: It could be.  Maybe when I first started, I think that's what started me down the path of bad habits and not making good swings.  You do that and you're compensating without even realizing it and before you know it (you're doing bad mechanics).

    Basically Berkman explained that is inconsistent use of his back leg and not swinging in a straight line that has resulted in his offensive malaise this year.  Because it throws your shoulder and other parts of the body out of whack.  For a slumping hitter, there have been spurts when that is occurring but more times than not, those things are not happening.

     

    3.7 (2 Ratings)

    Welcome to NY - Big Puma?

    Friday, July 30, 2010, 5:55 PM [General]

    If you have your tweet deck application open and follow the world of baseball media as it pertains to the Yankees, then you might have heard things such as the following:

     

    Source: Yankees deal for Berkman is "imminent" - won't be giving up any big prospects, but will take on his contract. He'll be the new DH. - that's the latest from Mark Feinsand

    indeed moving quickly on Berkman, as others report. Team will NOT pick up 15M option as condition of deal; strictly a rental. - that's what Ken Rosenthal has stated but then he stated the following:

    Source says he gave approval earlier today, so everything should be OK. But official word would not be until Sat. aft.

    Second source says #Yankees "likely" to get Berkman. - that's one of the statements from Ken Davidoff

    Yankees-berkman in serious talks - that's the one from Jon Heyman.

    So you get the idea, Berkman might be a Yankee and when he does, the Yankees will have a guy with a cool nickname.  Berkman is listed at 6'1 and 220 pounds, so he's a little stocky for someone his height since I'm the same height and about 30 pounds thinner.  But you have to say "Big Puma" is a cool moniker.

    This is the official definition of his nickname from the funny site "Urban Dictionary":

    All Star first baseman Lance Berkman. A Big Puma glides effortlessly, and moves with cat-like nimbleness around the bases. Big Puma would never, ever fall while running the bases. Watching Big Puma accelerate gracefully to full speed has been known to make grown men cry. Occasionally, if you listen intently, you can hear the Big Puma battle cry: Raaayyrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

    Berkman has 326 career home runs in 1592 games since his major league debut July 16, 1999 at Detroit.  I once talked to him for a SportsTicker recap on August 23, 2008 when the Astros beat the Mets 8-3.  After he hit a three-run home run off John Maine, Berkman said the following:

    "I felt pretty good," Berkman said. "This time of year where you kind of get a little tired, you appreciate games like this because they don't come around as often as they do early in the season, when you have good bat speed."

    Some of those balls that we hit against Santana, if you get one of those to fall in, it's a different ballgame maybe. But different night and different result," Berkman said. "That's why you play them.

    "You can't expect the same thing to happen every night, and I think the key for us if we continue to give ourselves a chance with runners in scoring position, eventually somebody's going to get a hit."

    The next day the Astros beat the Mets and I chatted briefly with Berkman about how they won with him getting the day off.

    "It's great," Berkman said. "You can't win without contributions from all 25 players. It's just impossible to over the course of 162 games.

    "That's one thing that the long grueling schedule will bring to life, who has the best 25 guys, not who has the best seven or eight guys. You've got to use everybody, and today we did."

    As for this year, Berkman is hitting .245, with 13 home runs and 49 RBI in 85 games.  Put him on the Yankees and pace his numbers through 102 games since this doesn't appear to be happning until Saturday, he will finish with 21 home runs and 78 RBI.  However, he could generate more home runs being that he'll get some games at Yankee Stadium and six home runs this month are his best month in terms of longballs.

    So welcome to New York Big Puma, it's a cool nickname.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Robinson Cano the path to 1,000 hits

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 12:39 AM [General]

    I meant to post this yesterday, but dozed off.  At some point between Robinson Cano getting his 1,000th career hit in his 830th career game and 3,232 at-bat, curious minds (actually just mine) wanted to know how long for him to reach each increment of 100 hits since he has reached 1,000 before his 28th birthday.  Thanks to the research tools of baseball-reference here are the answers:

     

    1 – single off Hideo Nomo at Tampa Bay 5/4/05 in game 2

    100 8/13/2005 – double off Juan Dominguez vs. Texas in career game 87

     200 5/18/2006 – single off Francisco Cordero vs. Texas in Game 168

     300 9/17/2006 single off Kyle Snyder vs. Boston in Game 240

     400 6/29/2007 single off Joe Kennedy vs. Oakland in Game 330

     500 9/25/2007 single off Jason Hammel at Tampa Bay in Game 410

     600 7/19/2008 – single off Lenny DiNardo vs. Oakland in Game 509

     700 4/27/09 – single off Justin Verlander at Detroit – Game 592

     800 8/4/09 – single off Roy Halladay at Toronto Game 678

     900 – solo home run off Scott Kazmir at Anaheim Game 752

     1000 – two-run double off Victor Marte vs. Kansas City 830

    So does this mean Cano will someday join the 27 others in the 3,000 club.  It's certainly possible since he reached 1,000 about halfway through his sixth season at the age of 27. 

    And here's when the other members of the 3,000 hit club reached their 1,000th hit:

    Pete Rose 831st career game 6/26/68 - infield hit off Dick Selma at Shea Stadium age 27

    Hank Aaron reached 1,000 in career game 782 on 6/6/59 with a single off Sandy Koufax at County Stadium in Milwaukee. He was 25 at the time.

    Stan Musial did it in Game 765 on 4/24/48 with a hit off Cubs pitchers Lefty Chambers at the age of 27.

    Carl Yastrzemski did it in his 893rd game on 9/15/66 off White Sox pitcher Jack Lamabe at the age of 27.

    Paul Molitor did in it Game 835 with a four-hit performance on July 2, 1985 in Milwaukee against the Red Sox. The 1,000th hit was a 10th-inning double off Bob Stanley and was about a month and a half shy of his 29th birthday

    Willie Mays accomplished it in Game 825 at County Stadium in Milwaukee on 6/23/1958 off Carl Willey at the age of 27.

    Eddie Murray reached 1,000 in Game 892 at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium with an RBI hit off Larry Sorensen on 4/10/1983 and he was 27.

    Cal Ripken did in it Game 894 at Yankee Stadium on 6/16/87 with a base hit off Rich Bordi. He was a little over two months shy of 27.

    George Brett reached 1,000 in his 827th career game on 7/23/79 with an infield single off Fergie Jenkins at Arlington Stadium. He was 26 at the time of the hit.

    Robin Yount reached 1,000 in his 948th career game on 8/16/80 in Cleveland's Municipal Stadium off Sandy Withol and he was 24 when the hit occurred.

    Tony Gwynn reached 1,000 in his 783rd career game on 4/22/88 with a leadoff single at Jack Murphy Stadium against Nolan Ryan. He was a few weeks shy of his 28th birthday.

    Dave Winfield reached 1,000 in his 978th game in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium on 5/4/80. The hit was an eighth-inning single off Neil Allen. He was 29 at the time.

    Craig Biggio's 1000th hit occurred in his 972nd game on July 1, 1995.  The place was Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh and the hit was a single off Mike Dyer. He was 29 at the time.

    Rickey Henderson reached 1,000 in County Stadium in Milwaukee on 9/9/95 and was playing for the Yankees and in his 909th career game. The hit was an infield single off Moose Haas and Henderson was 27 at the time.

    Rod Carew reached 1,000 in style on 8/14/73 during his 837th game.  He was 5-for-6 and reached 1,000 with an eighth-inning single off Ed Farmer at Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium and Carew was about two months shy of 28.

    Lou Brock reached 1,000 in his 882nd game on 9/8/67 at Forbes Field. The hit was a leadoff single off Pittsburgh's Dennis Ribant. He was 28 at the time.

    Rafael Palmeiro reached 1,000 in his 921st career game on 5/16/93 for Texas.  In a blowout game, he had a single off White Sox pitcher Alex Fernandez and was 28 at the time.

    Wade Boggs reached 1,000 in his 747th career game on 4/30/87 at the Kingdome.  The hit was a leadoff single off Scott Bankhead and Boggs was 29 at the time.

    Al Kaline reached 1,000 in his 863rd career game on 8/11/1959 at Briggs Stadium against the White Sox. After homering off Billy Pierce for 999, he singled off Ken McBride in the seventh.  At the time, Kaline was 24 when he accomplished this.

    Roberto Clemente reached 1,000 in his 866th game on August 5, 1961 at Cincinnati's Crosley Field.  Two days earlier he had a five-hit game and he had three more in this game.  The first hit was a first-inning single off Ken Hunt and he was 13 days shy of his 27th birthday.

    No data was available for Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker Cap Anson, Honus Wagner, Nap Lajoie or Eddie Collins

    So what does researching this prove?  Not a thing, it is just interesting to see how others who reached 3,000 hits got there and how quickly they reached 1,000.

     

     

     

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Sean O'Sullivan again

    Sunday, July 25, 2010, 11:44 AM [General]

    "This is like deja vu all over again."

    Yogi Berra once said that and in the case of Sean O'Sullivan, he's right.  O'Sullivan beat the Yankees Tuesday wearing the road greys and red hats of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and today he will be wearing the hat for the Kansas City Royals.

    It wouldn't have been deja vu all over again but at about 6:30 Thursday night, the Royals acquired O'Sullivan for third baseman Alberto Callaspo.

    When the Royals announced he would start today, that put into motion two big questions?

    A - Who was the last pitcher to make consecutive starts against the same club in different uniforms in a span of six days?

    B - Who was the last pitcher to start against the Yankees in different uniforms in a span of six days?

    According to Elias Sports Bureau, the answer to A was originally Lidle, but now it is Carl Pavano, who did it last year.

    In 2004, Lidle was traded by the Reds to the Phillies.  He beat Colorado on August 8, 2004 and four days later made his Phillies' debut.  He did not win both, losing to the Rockies 3-1.  Facing Shawn Estes, Lidle allowed two runs and three hits in five innings.  One of those hits was a two-run home run to Royce Clayton.

    According to Elias the answer to B is George Brunet. 

    In 1969, Brunet started for the Angels on July 27 and then for the Seattle Pilots on August 2.  On July 27, in Angels Stadium, he opposed Bill Burbach and allowed two runs and four hits in just 1 2/3 innings.  He did not get a decision in a game the Angels won 5-4.  Four days later he was sold to Seattle, which became the fourth team to purchase him during a 15-year career.  In his debut for the Pilots at Sicks Stadium, he was the losing pitcher in a 5-4 loss. 

    He opposed Al Downing and allowed four runs and 11 hits in six-plus innings.  He gave up a three-run blast to Joe Pepitone and a solo shot to Frank Fernandez.

    If O'Sullivan wins, he becomes the first pitcher to win against the same team in consecutive starts for two different teams since Andy Ashby in 2000.  Ashby beat the Orioles 13-4 by allowing three runs and seven hits in eight innings.   Four days later on July 12, he was traded for Bruce Chen and made his debut for the Braves by firing a seven-hitter in Camden Yards.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    Mets - road to nowhere

    Friday, July 23, 2010, 1:50 PM [General]

    When you look at the yearly game logs of the Mets, especially in their losing seasons, there always seems to be a negative turning point when an already fragile team goes overboard.  Presently, we might be seeing it based on their 1-7 start after the All-Star break.

    To prove that theory I am looking at their game logs from previous seasons to see where it went wrong in the second half:

     

    2009 - entered break at 42-45 and 6 1/2 out of first and wild card. started out of the break 2-6 and fell to 10 1/2 out of first and 7 1/2 out in the wild card.  stemmed it a little with a five-game winning streak that brought the deficit to 4 1/2 in the wild card but lost 23 of the next 33 and fell out of it.

    2004 - Frequently when the losing comes it occurs in bunches and 2004 was one of those years. They won 15 of 24 to reach 45-43 on July 15.  Then they lost 12 of 16 and went from one game to nine games out.  They won 10 of 17 and lost a half-game in the NL East and were nine games out in the wild card race.  Then the roof caved in: 2 wins in 21 games and from the looks of things it was quite the lifeless run as they were outscored 123-62 and lost by three runs or more nine times.  This stretch doesn't quite look like that, at least not yet.

    2002 - This was a doozy and also led to Steve Phillips firing, though some might have prefferred he went instead of Bobby Valentine.  Phillips constructed a team with Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar among others and it went 75-86. It kind of staggered through the first three months, taking a 40-40 record into July which was 24-30 after a 16-10 start.  The stretch out of the break didn't kill them though and was actually pretty good (12 wins in 19 games) that brought them to 55-51 and brought them to 4 1/2 out in the wild card race.  The next time they won a home game was 9/3/02 when a 15-game home losing streak was snapped.  Unilke 2004, the Mets lost 13 games by three runs or less during the overall 6-23 stretch.

    Runs like this also took place in 1996, 1992 and 1991.  To me as a baseball follower the 1991 run was the most shocking.  This was right after the Mets completed 1984-1990 and as a 12-year-old the last time they had a losing season would have made me a four-year-old who remembers little.  I knew the Mets of that year would be different without Darryl Strawberry, but it seemed like enough members of those 1980s teams still remained that they would not totally tank like they did on an 11-game road trip through Pittsburgh, Chicago and St. Louis.

    0 (0 Ratings)

    A-Rod and the Royals

    Friday, July 23, 2010, 1:50 AM [General]

    Alex Rodriguez never played for the Kansas City Royals. 

    The only link to the Royals is a few of his home runs of significance or that have moved him to the brink of a milestone have occurred against their pitchers.

    Rodriguez has 41 lifetime home runs off Kansas City pitching and a few are of significant variety.

    His first home run was 1995 against future teammate Tom Gordon, his 10th was 11 months later against Doug Linton.  That was sandwiched around shots off ex-Mariner teammate Tim Belcher and Hipolito Pichardo.

    The significant numbers did not come into play against the Royals for another 11 years.

    He hit 499 off Gil Meche, a man who was 12-8 in two seasons as a Mariner teammate.  That was in Kansas City and he had two series to get it before facing the Royals again.

    Rodriguez was 0-for-19 over the next six games against the Royals, Orioles and White Sox.  He heated up with two hits in a 13-9 win over the White Sox and one more the following night against the Royals.

     By then he was ready and 500 came off Kyle Davies on August 4, 2007.  So how is that relevant?

     In case you missed it, he hit 599 against the Royals, sending a pitch from Robinson Tejeda over the right field wall.

     That hardly means he’ll hit 600 against the Royals though it is interesting to note that he will be facing Davies Saturday afternoon.

     And if you’re so inclined the following pitchers have served up home runs to Rodriguez wearing a Royals uniform:

     

    1 – Tom Gordon 6/12/95

    9 – Tim Belcher 5/11/96

    10 – Doug Linton 5/12/96

    11 – Hipolito Pichardo 5/12/96

    32 – Rick Huisman 8/12/96

    71 – Chris Haney 4/20/98

    72 – Scott Service 4/21/98

    92 – Glendon Rusch 7/17/98

    93 – Scott Service 7/18/98

    94 – Tim Belcher – 7/19/98

    107 – Jeff Suppan – 5/14/99

    129 – Jeff Suppan – 7/29/99

    146 – Dan Murray 9/21/99

    147 – Brad Rigby – 9/21/99

    155 – Jason Rakers – 4/28/00

    156 – Jeff Suppan – 4/29/00

    230 – Jeff Austin – 9/2/01

    232 – Kris Wilson – 9/7/01

    233 – Chris George – 9/8/01

    254 – Jeff Suppan – 5/25/2002

    255 – Miguel Asencio – 5/26/02

    257 – Jeff Suppan – 5/31/02

    258 – Jeff Suppan – 5/31/02

    259 – Brad Voyles – 6/2/02

    336 – Curtis Leskanic – 8/28/03

    337 – Mike MacDougal – 8/28/03

    419 – Mike Wood – 8/26/05

    441 – Jeremy Affeldt – 5/27/06

    442 – Jeremy Affeldt – 5/27/06

    513 – Gil Meche – 9/7/07

    514 – Brian Bannister – 9/8/07

    515 – Brian Bannister – 9/8/07

    516 – Zach Greinke – 9/9/07

    520 – Hideo Nomo – 4/10/08

    527 – Brett Tomko – 6/7/08

    528 – Luke Hochevar – 6/8/08

    546 – Brian Bannister – 8/17/08

    

    0 (0 Ratings)

    From cancer to the majors - Colin Curtis' big day

    Thursday, July 22, 2010, 12:15 PM [General]

    Can you imagine what it's like to stare down cancer as a 15-year-old?  Thankfully I can't, but one of the newest Yankees knows.

    That would be Colin Curtis.

    It was 10 years ago when testicular cancer struck and spread to his stomach veins and around the lymph nodes.  Surgery removed the cancer and Curtis has been free of it since.

    But it still reasonates, especially in tight spots.  In baseball pressure is coming up with the bases loaded in a tie game, but it is not life threatening.

    So just by reading various pieces from writers who get a lot of space to detail it, you get the sense that the situation Curtis faced yesterday is pressure but not a big deal.

     “It’s definitely a part of my identity,” Curtis said. “I’ve been cancer-free so it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life that much anymore. But it’s important to carry the message.

     “Cancer makes you more open-minded to the ups and downs. There’s a lot of failure in baseball, and it helps you get over them. It makes you grateful that you’re playing. You realize there’s always another day.”

    That situation was after Brett Gardner was ejected by Paul Emmel for arguing strike two. Curtis was watching the at-bat and drinking some Gatorade.  Once the ejection occurred, he kind of knew he was going to bat but still how do you prepare?  They don't necessarily simulate that scenario in batting practice.

    The answer is you go up there and look for a pitch to hit.  If there's anything close you swing, so when a 3-2 fastball by Scot Shields seemed hittable, Curtis swung and seconds later it was gone.

    Many people have hit their first home run, but it's doubtful there were anything like that. 

    And just as importantly for the Yankees, it gave them some breathing room.  You can get the sense of dread when Joba Chamberlain's music started and a five-run lead is a lot more comfortable than a one-run lead.

    By now, you've probably read most of the stories and columns on Curtis, but chances are you haven't seen this video I found from his college days at Arizona State.

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    The Ring never left New York

    Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 5:22 PM [General]

    Somewhere in Hideki Matsui's New York-area apartment, there are two World Series championship rings.  One is the fake one that the Yankees presented to him on Opening Day and another is the actual ring that he earned by driving in six runs in the deciding sixth game.

    This year the schedule gave the Angels two trips to New York and five games for Matsui here.  The first time he was here Matsui went 2-for-9 with a home run off Phil Hughes.  He left New York with a .316 average but is hitting .249 entering Tuesday's game.

    "It's been good. It's been bad.  It's been up and down."

    That is how Matsui described his first season with the Angels.  And he's right. 

    Matsui batted .273 in April, .184 in May, .318 in June and .190 this month.  He has just four hits in 28 at-bats but despite the slump remains dangerous.

    With runners in scoring position, he is batting .291 (25-for-86) and 16 of his 37 RBI have given the Angels a lead and finally 20 have occurred with two outs.

    Since he is here a week after George Steinbrenner's death, Matsui discussed his memories of "The Boss":

    "Prior to signing with the Yankees, I remember him expressing his desire for me to part of the Yankee organization and the day I arrived for the press conference he came to my hotel."

    "He said that I'm sure there will be a lot of changes and adjustments but I look forward to you being a part of the Yankees.

    As for other memories of Steinbrenner, Matsui recalled other encounters being nothing but pleasant and described him being very nice and encouraging when he visited the clubouse.

     

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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