Remembering when Milwaukee was an AL city.

    Monday, June 27, 2011, 10:30 PM [General]

    In the comedy Wayne’s World, Alice Cooper tells Wayne and Garth that Milwaukee means "The Good Land" in Algonquian.

    In baseball terms, Milwaukee means the Brewers, though the first time the franchise played at Yankee Stadium, they were known as something else.

    The date was June 13, 1969, a Friday the thirteenth no less and a team called the Seattle Pilots visited the Bronx and walked away with a 2-1 victory against Washington native Mel Stottlemyre.

    Gene Brabender, a Wisconsin native, opposed Stottlemyre and pitched a four-hitter for one of his seven complete games for the Pilots.

    A year later he was in Milwaukee when the team was sold to Bud Selig and began playing in County Stadium. The franchise played there until the 2001 season and it took the Brewers five times to finally win at Yankee Stadium.

    That moment occurred the night of July 22, 1970 when the Brewers beat Stottlemyre as Ted Savage and Bob Burda hit consecutive home runs in the fifth inning of a 4-1 win.

    Four years after that occasion Robin Yount began a career that lasted until 1993 and spanned 2,856 games and over 11,000 at-bats. His first at-bat at Yankee Stadium did not occur until 1976 due to the renovations and on May 24, 1976, Yount was 0-for-5 against Ed Figueroa and hitless in 11 at-bats there until getting an infield single.

    The first year Yount visited Yankee Stadium, the Brewers also had Hank Aaron. Aaron hit 10 home runs in 271 at-bats, spanning 85 games but Yankee fans did not get to see any of his 755 home runs in person.

    In his only season getting to play at Yankee Stadium, Aaron was 3-for-14 with an RBI double off Ken Holtzman in September that scored Yount.

    Following the 1976 season, Cecil Cooper arrived to play first base when he was acquired from the Red Sox for George Scott and Bernie Carbo.  Cooper’s career playing games at Yankee Stadium lasted until 1987 and along the way; he did things such as play in Reggie Jackson’s first game in pinstripes on April 7, 1977.

    Besides being opposite "Mr. October" for that game, Cooper had a tendency of knocking around Figueroa. For his career, Cooper batted .333 with five home runs off him as opposed to the .278 produced off Ron Guidry but not as impressive at the .381 produced off Catfish Hunter.

    Cooper was part of the 1982 AL pennant winning team and his role was having a .313 batting average and a .333 mark in seven games in the Bronx.

    Of course no discussion about the Brewers can be without Paul Molitor, who joined the team as a second baseman in 1978. Molitor hit over .300 in eight of his seasons with the Brewers, most notably in 1987 when he put together a 39-game hitting streak and batted .353 overall.

    The streak began July 16 against the Angels and lasted until August 26 against the Indians when he could not get a hit off current Toronto manager John Farrell, who was making his second start at the time.

    During the course of that streak, Molitor did not face the Yankees but he did bat a respectable .290 against them. That pales in comparison to the .408 against the Red Sox or the .526 in five games off Oakland pitching or the .516 against the Tigers.

    That’s not to say Molitor did not hurt the Yankees. He and the Brewers certainly did that year in September by taking five or seven and Molitor went 7-for-20 in those games and those games officially ensured a non-playoff year for the Yankees.

    What is crazy about 1987 is that the Brewers also missed the playoffs in a year that they began 13-0. They won 91 games but by the All-Star break were a sub-500 team.

    On the pitching side, Jim Slaton is the club’s all-time leader with 117 wins followed by Mike Caldwell’s 102 and those often came in the form of complete games against the Yankees.

    Caldwell won those games from 1977-1984 and was a respectable 13-8 against the Yankees.

    Caldwell began by going 3-0 with three complete games, a streak that ended August 8, 1978 when Yount’s error allowed Bucky Dent to reach and led to two unearned runs on hits from Willie Randolph and Lou Piniella.

    A little over a month later, Caldwell got his revenge with a four-hitter and 10 strikeout performance. Three of those strikeouts were to Jackson, who struck out for the final out of a game that left the Yankees 1 ½ up on Boston with 12 to play.

    Caldwell also opened his 1979 season with a seven-hitter at the Stadium that spoiled a championship flag raising ceremony. What is odd about that game is Caldwell did not record any strikeouts or issue any walks, which is four fewer than the amount produced July 3, 1979 in a 10-hitter.

    During that 7-2 loss that saw Ken Clay record just two outs and spit the bit, Caldwell held the Yankees to 1-for-12 with runners on base in a similar fashion to Freddy Garcia against the Indians two weeks ago.

    Caldwell finally lost one of those complete games June 23, 1982 in Milwaukee. That night he gave up a three-run home run to Roy Smalley in the fifth and that stood because Mike Morgan survived five walks in 6 1/3 innings and his Caldwell’s teammates were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

    Three months later with the Brewers trying to stave off the Orioles, Caldwell was at it again, going the distance twice in seven days against the Yankees during a seven-game winning streak. His second complete game of that stretch was a three-hitter in a 14-0 win  that featured four RBI from Young, three hits apiece from Molitor and Cooper and a three-run home run from Gorman Thomas.

    Eventually the Brewers switched leagues and became members of the NL Central, which they would win in 2008 behind the rubber arm of CC Sabathia.

    In their final years as an AL opponent of the Yankees, the Brewers lost their final seven trips to the Bronx. That streak began with a 19-2 loss on September 25, 1996 that was the night the Yankees clinched their first division title since 1981 and the last time Milwaukee stepped foot in the Bronx, they were handed a 3-1 loss on June 8, 1997.

    Of course you can’t discuss Yankee-Brewers without the events of April 10, 1976. That night Don Money appeared to hit a game-winning grand slam off Dave Pagan.

    Billy Martin disputed it by saying he had motioned to Chris Chambliss to call timeout, which first base umpire Jim McKean granted but nobody heard. Martin noticed it and when Money’s ball sailed over the wall, he raced out to point the timeout.

    And appropriately enough since the Brewers play at Miller Park; we’ll wrap this up by hoping that this series featuring visits from Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder tastes great and is not less filling.

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    Items of Oldtimers Day Interest

    Sunday, June 26, 2011, 11:31 AM [General]

    Today is June 26 and 37 years ago, the Yankees played a weekday afternoon game over the Indians and fell short with a 3-2 loss at Shea Stadium.

    The shortstop that day for the Yankees was Jim Mason and eventually Gene Michael, who moved from second to shortstop. It was doubtful that Michael knew 18 years later he would be responsible for drafting another shortstop born sometime that day.

    Elsewhere on that day, the shortstop that Michael would have a key role in drafting 18 years later was starting his life as the first Yankee to reach 3,000 hits and that would be Derek Jeter.

    A month ago if you said Jeter would not have reached the milestone by now, more of that slump talk would have polluted the airwaves, but today Jeter won’t reach that mark because he is in Tampa Bay rehabbing an injured calf.

    Lou Piniella was in the lineup that day for the Yankees, during his first year with the team. He also among the old-timers present for the 65th annual event and first since George Steinbrenner’s passing last July.

    This morning, he kidded that he felt young with Jack McKeon going back to managing at 80, but then he said that his managing days are over, that he doesn’t miss it but that leaving the Cubs last summer is not something he regrets.

    Piniella actually cried when Kansas City traded him in December 1973 for Lindy McDaniel.

    Another first timer is Bernie Williams, who inherited a lot of pressure playing center field for the Yankees when he made his debut July 7, 1991 and began a career that went until the end of the 2006 season that was shaped by a pivotal decision he made around Thanksgiving 1998 to stay with the Yankees as opposed to taking the money from Boston.

    Williams’ fondest memory was the parade in 1996 but when it comes to 3,000 hits and Jeter, he said that Jeter has to be right up there but not just for the hits.

    As for the present, Williams is working on his musical career that he said is going great but is also challenging. He also thinks that the experience from producing numbers has allowed him to step back and enjoy the musical experience even more by stepping back and working hard to go from playing shows in smaller venues to larger venues.

    The third of those first-timers was manager Joe Torre wearing his 1996 ring. Torre returned last September but knew this day would happen once he retired from managing, which he said is official following McKeon’s and Davey Johnson’s return to managing.

    To show perspective on the longevity of Torre’s tenure is to look at the amount of players he managed that were introduced to the crowd. Besides Williams, Dwight Gooden, Ramiro Mendoza, Tino Martinez, Darryl Strawberry and David Cone were among the 18 former players from the Torre era and that also includes others such as Clay Bellinger, Brian Boehringer, Homer Bush, Cecil Fielder, Joe Girardi, Charlie Hayes, Pat Kelly, Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson, Aaron Small, Mike Stanley and David Wells.

    Moving back to the present, the Yankees will play the Rockies today. During their last series with Colorado at Yankee Stadium in 2004, current YES Network announcer John Flaherty drove in five runs and hit a grand slam in the series finale.

    Alex Rodriguez played that afternoon and will also play today. Rodriguez has put his average over .300 by going 12-for-22 with eight RBI over his last six games and by batting .408 in 14 games since June 10.

    Not bad for a guy with a sore right knee.

    Like yesterday, the Yankees will try to get a big enough lead and get him out early. To do so, they will turn to Ivan Nova, who went a career-high eight innings Monday in Cincinnati.

    Nova has gone beyond the seventh twice. The other time he did that was May 6 in Texas and he followed that up by last just three innings against the Royals on May 12.

    All of this will be going on while Jeter rehabs on his birthday. That will take place in Tampa where he will do some throwing and tee and toss work.



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    Jorge Posada's home run locations

    Thursday, June 23, 2011, 4:31 PM [General]

    Jon Lane wrote yesterday about how things in the last month have gone well for Jorge Posada at the plate. That had not included a home run until the seventh inning of yesterday's 4-2 win in Cincinnati.

    When he connected, it marked the 29th different ballpark that Posada had hit a home run. Posada has 268 career home runs and that includes venues such as Olympic Stadium, Tokyo Dome,  Tiger Stadium, Kingdome, Shea Stadium and the Metrodome.

    So of course possessing that knowledge leads one to find out the details of the first time Posada homered in all of those stadiums. By details, that means the date, the opposing pitcher, the situation and other variables.

    1 - Kauffman Stadium - Posada is a .342 hitter in Kansas City with 10 home runs. The first home run he hit there on May 4, 1997 also was the first of his career and the momentus blast occurred in the seventh inning during an 13-5 win off reliever Jim Converse. Converse's major league career ended 11 days later but one interesting link between him and Posada is the same birthday (August 17, 1971) and in another coincidence, the date also saw the Royals split a doubleheader with the Yankees at Old Yankee Stadium.

    2 - Anaheim Stadium/Angels Field - Posada has nine home runs there and the first occurred in the opener of a doubleheader on August 20, 1997 in a 7-3 win.  Posada's second career home run was a three-run shot off Ken Hill in the seventh that gave the Yankees a 7-1 lead. As for Hill, he fell to 6-10 that day but wound up playing until 2001 ending a career that saw him be a part of the 1994 Expos.

    3 - Yankee Stadium - Posada hit 116 home runs in the torn-down version of Yankee Stadium and the first occurred during a four-game series with the Orioles. It also occurred against a future teammate when he hit a two-run shot in the fourth off Mike Mussina in a 10-3 rout. It also was the only hit in seven career at-bats off Mussina.

    4 - Jacobs Field/Progressive Field - Posada has six career home runs there but just a .233 batting average in 150 at-bats. The first home run there came on September 24, 1997 in an 8-4 win over the Indians. It occurred off Brian Anderson, who four years later won a World Series over Posada. Anderson gave up 264 home runs but this was the only time Posada connected in their 12 career matchups.

    5 - Tiger Stadium - Tiger Stadium was two years away from its final game and Posada hit two home runs there. The first occurred on September 28, 1997 as Posada concluded his rookie season with a solo shot off Greg Keagle. Keagle made his debut during the 103-loss Tiger season of 1996 and was out of the majors by May 1998. Keagle is about a month older than Posada and turned out to be an unsuccessful Rule 5 selection by Detroit and now can be found analyzing Rochester Red Wing games.

    6 - Oakland Coliseum - Posada has four career home runs in Oakland and the first one occurred during the magical 1998 season on April 5. Posada finished with 17 home runs that year and the first was a two-run shot in the eighth inning off reliever T.J. Matthews in a 9-7 win. Matthews joined the Athletics the previous summer in the Mark McGwire trade and pitched until the 2002 season, which is right about the time Raul Ibanez's career began taking off. That is related because they were picked consecutively in the 36th round of the 1992 draft.

    7 - Kingdome - Two days after Oakland, Posada hit the first of three career home runs in the Kingdome. In a 13-7 win over the Mariners, Posada contributed to an 18-hit Yankee win with a solo shot during a six-run first inning off Jim Bullinger. Bullinger was a 12-game winner for the Cubs in 1995 but after allowing 10 runs to the Yankees, he did not return to the majors as a player. Bullinger wound up in the independent circuit, pitching in places such as Camden, Newark, Somerset and Long Island for the Atlantic League.

    8 - Metrodome - Four times in 124 at-bats, Posada connected in Minnesota's Metrodome. The first occasion was nine days before he would call a perfect game for David Wells on May 17, 1998. In a 5-1 win over the Twins, he hit a fifth-inning solo home run off Brad Radke. Posada was a .370 hitter off Radke, who won 142 games before retiring in 2006.

    9 - Camden Yards - For most of Camden Yards existence, the Yankees have enjoyed tremendous results there and in terms of home runs, that includes Posada. Posada has 10 home runs there. The first was June 15, 1998 and it occurred during a 7-4 loss. Posada had three hits that night, including a solo shot in the sixth inning off Scott Erickson. Erickson pitched very briefly with the Yankees in 2006 and along the way faced Posada 26 times but did not give up another home run. Erickson was drafted in the fourth round in 1989 the same round the Red Sox picked Jeff Bagwell.

    10 - Rangers Ballpark - Posada has played in three playoff series there (1998, 1999, 2010) and also has 148 career at-bats there. He also has nine home runs there during the regular-season and the first was August 23, 1998. During a Sunday night 12-10 loss, Posada connected for a solo shot off Rick Helling in the second inning. It was one of three hits in 18 at-bats off Helling, who was picked in the same round as Derek Jeter in the 1992 draft. Helling spent most of his career with Texas and won 93 games while also pitching for Florida, Arizona, Baltimore and Milwaukee.

    11 - Tropicana Field - Posada has played 91 games in Tampa Bay to go along with nine home runs. The first occurred September 17, 1998 in a 4-0 win when he a two-run home run in the sixth. Posada's final home run of 1998 occurred off Julio Santana. Santana appeared in 209 games for six teams and faced Posada six times.

    12 - Comiskey Park - Posada has six home runs in the second version of this ballpark and the first occurred May 22, 1999. During the first game of a doubleheader, Posada drove in five runs and that included a two-out two-run home run in the second inning off John Snyder. At the time, Snyder was 6-2 but he went 3-10 the rest of the year and was traded to Milwaukee for Jose Valentin and Cal Eldred. Snyder pitched in the minors until 2003.

    13 - Sun Life Stadium - The soon to be former home to the Marlins has had several names since 1993 and when Posada hit his only home run there, it was called Pro Player Stadium and that was June 11, 1999. In an 8-4 victory, Posada punctuated a five-run seventh with a three-run shot off Brian Meadows. Meadows was 47-62 during a career that lasted until 2006 and saw him get traded for two mediocre Yankee relievers - Dan Miceli and Jay Witasick.  Meadows can't blame Posada for his career as he held him to 2-for-11 during their meetings. If there is another Yankee connection to Meadows, it was his being picked in the third round of the 1994 draft - two picks before Aaron Boone.

    14 - Shea Stadium - This is remembered as a Met classic since July 10, 1999 was the day Matt Franco had the game-winning hit off Mariano Rivera in the ninth. Along the way, Posada slugged two home runs and his first at Shea was a fifth-inning solo home run off Rick Reed. Reed pitched with the Mets until 2001 when he was traded for Matt Lawton, a Yankee briefly in 2005. Along the way, he won 93 games and gave up three home runs to Posada.

    15 - Fenway Park - The most common road ballpark Posada has homered in is Fenway Park. Sixteen times, Posada has connected and the first time was July 30, 1999. In a Friday night 13-3 victory, Posada connected in the seventh inning with a two-run shot off lefty reliever Mark Guthrie. Guthrie began his career in 1990 as a starting pitcher for the Twins. After being traded in 1995 to Los Angeles for Kevin Tapani he signed as a free agent with Boston. A month after allowing this home run, Guthrie and his 5.83 ERA were dealt to the Cubs for Rod Beck. He also pitched for Oakland, Tampa Bay, Toronto the Mets and ended his career with the 2003 Cubs, who were a game away from facing the Red Sox in the 2003 World Series. Along the way, Posada hit .429 in limited appearances against Guthrie, who that night was one of three ex-Twins to pitch for the Red Sox (Mark Portugal and Rich Garces).

    16 - Skydome - Toronto is the second most common of Posada's road home runs. He has 14 here and the first time was also a multi home run game on April 23, 2000. In a 10-7 win, the Yankees scored seven in the fourth and Posada contributed his second home run. His first was a second-inning solo shot off Frank Castillo. Castillo was 82-104 for the Cubs, Red Sox, Tigers, Rockies and Marlins.  Castillo's 82 wins are the most from anyone out of El Paso, Texas and he can proudly say Posada was 2-for-15 off him.

    17 - Olympic Stadium - Posada played four games in Montreal and was 4-for-10. On June 7, 2000, Posada contributed to a 7-2 win with a two-run home run in the fifth inning off reliever Mike Johnson. Born in Edmonton, Johnson appeared in 81 games - 67 with the Expos. As of last year, he was pitching for Yuma in the independent Golden League.

    18 - Veterans Stadium - The Vet was torn down after 2003 but Posada played there six times and hit two home runs. His two home runs came on consecutive nights July 16-17, 2001 and the first was hit in the fourth inning of an eventual 6-3 win over the Phillies. The Yankees won that night in 11, but that was after struggling against a 24-year-old lefty who is still going and that is Randy Wolf. Since that night, Wolf has pitched for the Dodgers, Brewers, Astros and Padres and his next win will be his 120th.

    19 - Safeco Field - Seattle moved to its new stadium in the middle of 1999 and it has become a pitcher's park, which might account for Posada needing three years to hit a home run there and only have two there for his career. The first was in the fourth inning when he hit a two-run shot off Ryan Franklin in an 8-3 win on August 17, 2002 Franklin made 106 starts with the Mariners but has become a reliever with Philadelphia, the Reds and Cardinals and has totaled over 80 saves.

    20 - Comerica Park - Four years after opening, Posada finally hit a home run in Detroit's new digs. Posada has 141 at-bats and 36 games at this ballpark but June 1, 2003 was his only home run there. You might remember it as part of Roger Clemens' 300-win chase but in this 17-inning thriller, Posada hit a solo home run that gave the Yankees a 10-8 lead. The home run off Steve Sparks turned out to be the game-winner. Posada hit the knuckleballer well but this was his only home run 24 at-bats. As for Sparks he was 59-76 and his career ended in 2004 with the Diamondbacks.

    21 - Wrigley Field - The next time Clemens pursued 300 wins, he missed out because Juan Acevedo gave up a home run to Eric Karros. Posada hit his only home run in five games there when he hit a solo home run off Joe Borowski, who briefly was a Yankee in the late-1990s. Borowski also gave up Derek Jeter's only grand slam and pitched until 2008. Borowski is the best major leaguer to come from Bayonne and currently is part of the Arizona Diamondbacks broadcast team.

    22 - Tokyo Dome - The 2004 season began in Japan with two games against Tampa Bay. After losing the opener, 8-3 to Tampa Bay, the Yankees rolled to a 12-1 win on March 31. Posada drove in six runs and hit home runs off Damian Moss and Jorge Sosa. Moss is the only major leaguer from Darlinghurst Australia and originally was a Braves prospect. In a span of one year (2002-2003), he was traded to the Giants for Russ Ortiz and then to Baltimore for Sidney Ponson. The stint in Tampa Bay was also his last major league stop, though Moss pitched last year for Colorado Springs in the Pacific Coast League.

    23 - Busch Stadium - The Yankees made their only regular-season trip to St. Louis in June 2005 and were not playing well on June 12, 2005. In a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals, Posada hit a solo home run off Julian Tavarez, who he was 6-for-10 against. Tavarez was part of those 1990s Indians team and also pitched with 10 other teams before ending up 88-82 after pitching for the Nationals.

    24 - RFK Stadium - The Yankees had not played in Washington since the early 1970s and in the final game of this three-game series, the Yankees were 11-9 losers. Posada added another ballpark when he connected off Ramon Ortiz, who he faced 27 times. This was the only home run off Ortiz, who currently is 5-2 pitching for Triple-A Iowa.

    25 - Citizens Bank Ballpark - Three days after his Washington home run, Posada liked hitting in Philadelphia's new digs. On June 20, 2006 in a 9-7 Yankee win, Posada hit a sixth-inning solo shot off future teammate Cory Lidle. A little over a month later, Lidle joined the Yankees along with Bobby Abreu and sadly in October, Lidle was gone way too soon.

    26 - Minute Maid Park - The Yankees never played in the Astrodome, unless you count Mickey Mantle's 1965 home run there. In June 2008, they made their first regular-season trip to Houston and concluded the weekend with a 13-0 win. After roughing up Roy Oswalt, Posada homered during an eight-run sixth off Wesley Wright. Of course, that home run is a footnote since this was the game Chien-Ming Wang injured his foot running the bases and has yet to fully recover and regain his two-time 18-game winner status.

    27 - New Yankee Stadium - The first game at current Yankee Stadium on April 16, 2009 had everything except a Yankee win. In a 10-2 loss to the Indians and before the game became a rout, Posada hit the first home run at the new place in the fifth inning off Cliff Lee. Lee has allowed 10 home runs to the Yankees and Posada has 30 home runs in 147 games there.

    28 - CITI Field - In their first trip to the new Met home, the Yankees swept a three-game series during a weekend that featured an AJ Burnett one-hitter and Mariano Rivera's 500th save. During that weekend, Posada contributed a sixth-inning three-run home run off Tim Redding, who briefly was a Yankee in 2005.

    29 - Great American Ball Park - Posada added his 29th ballpark yesterday and did so as a first baseman. The momentus occasion occurred during the sixth inning off Mike Leake. Leake was nine years old when Posada hit his first home run and so far is the only pitcher to allow a home run to Posada when he played first base.

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    My Baseball People Said Brian Gordon

    Friday, June 17, 2011, 12:58 AM [General]

    SUBJECT:  Pitcher Available

    Recipient: All 30 Teams

    Fellow General Managers,

    This is to advise you that a pitcher from our Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley is going to become available sometime next week. He an opt-out clause you are more than welcome to sign him.


    Ruben Amaro

    That might not be the context of the actual industry-wide email circulated by the Phillies but that is basically how the process of acquiring Brian Gordon began last week. It accelerated when Bartolo Colon went down with a hamstring injury as the Yankee front office did video scouting while examining the numbers.

    That led to Gordon filling the vacancy and while he did not get a win, the Yankees might be glad they responded and expressed interest because no matter how it unfolds, it is a tremendous story.

    "The butterflies were at full charge," Gordon said, "So I pulled my hat down low. I figured if my hat was down and I just saw the catcher, it would be like what I was doing a week ago in Triple-A."

    Consider this, Gordon began the season as a relief pitcher for the Triple-A affiliate of the Phillies. Then he changed to a starting pitcher when Vance Worley was needed to replace Joe Blanton in late-April. Just think if the situation was reversed and Gordon started off hot as a starting pitcher perhaps he would have been summoned to Philadelphia.

    Many things happen for a reason and there's something that led Gordon from Eastern Pennsylvania to New York. It was because the Yankees needed a starting pitcher and did not want to throw a young arm such as David Phelps or anyone else like that into a major league rotation before they are ready.

    The Yankee baseball people studied the tape, crunched the numbers and at the end of the day, Cashman's baseball people told him, "Brian Gordon, Brian Gordon".

    And some of what they saw on film appeared against the Rangers who had a few of his former minor league teammates on their roster.

    Pitchers Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland and Tommy Hunter were teammates with him two years ago in Oklahoma City. Nelson Cruz, Craig Gentry, Taylor Teagarden, Matt Harrison were among his teammates three years ago in Oklahoma City while Elvis Andrus was his shortstop three years ago for the Frisco RoughRiders.

    In his previous incarnation as an outfielder in places such as Round Rock, Salt Lake, Tucson, El Paso, Lancaster, High Desert and South Bend others would make the majors while Gordon stayed behind.

    Some of his teammates in the Arizona organization between that went on to steady major league work were Javier Lopez (lefty reliever San Francisco Giants), Brandon Webb (former CY Young winner, Diamondbacks, rehabbing with the Rangers), Brian Bruney (Yankees, Nationals), Lyle Overbay (Pirates), Chris Capuano (Mets), Jack Cust (Mariners).

    After joining the Angels' affliate in the Pacific Coast League for 2004 and 2005, some of Gordon's future major league teammates included Casey Kotchman (Rays), Joel Peralta (Rays), Derrick Turnbow (Brewers), Dustin Moseley (Yankees/Padres) and Ervin Santana (Angels).

    In his lone season with the Astros' organization in 2006, some of Gordon's future major league teammates included Luke Scott (Orioles), Humberto Quintero (Astros), Wandy Rodriguez (Astros).

    Also among his group of minor league teammates are players who like Gordon have chased the dream of one day becoming major leaguers and either haven't found it or haven't been able to make it stick.

    Hours before Gordon took the mound in front over 40,000 fans that included some family and friends, Brian Cashman wasn't sure what to expect from someone he had never seen in person. His uncertainty could be detected when he said : "They got Cliff Lee. I got Brian Gordon. I don't think they have anything worry about."

    Cliff Lee may be in Philadelphia, but Brian Gordon's story was so much more interesting than some of the things the prominent names in the game tend to say in their often short media sessions.

    Gordon's session seemed like it would never end and it probably took a half hour before he had to go. He didn't have to go into New York to find a place to stay or anything else, he had to board a bus that would take him to the airport for a flight to Chicago.

    His riveting session that produced the quote you'll see in articles such as this, kept the New York media captivated for about a half hour. 

    We heard him discuss his desire to pitch because he didn't want to regret not giving it a chance. We heard him discuss the amazement at being a major leaguer that carried him and his wife through a car ride to the Bronx. We heard him discuss how much Nolan Ryan means to him and how his mother working for Ryan's Round Rock Express actually led him to being with the Rangers' organization. We heard him mention that he threw longtoss at the park across the street from Yankee Stadium and somebody passing by said "he had a good arm"

    "This is the greatest stage in baseball," Gordon said, "And I'm one of five guys starting . . . It leaves me breathless."

    Big stages sometimes produce great stories and no matter what happens from here on out, Brian Gordon can know that he had his day. And if he has more days like yesterday for the Yankees, the story will only get better.

    "Incredible stories," said Curtis Granderson, who was the second major leaguer Gordon faced in his cup of coffee in Sept. 2008.

    During his three-game stint, Gordon also faced Mark Teixeira. Now they are teammates, reaching the Bronx for the same cause and sought after for different reasons.

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    Freddy is Ace of the Bases

    Monday, June 13, 2011, 1:15 AM [General]

    Many times when a Yankee pitcher puts a runner or two on base, the fan's first reaction is to either panic on some social networking site that begins with a "T" and ends with an R". Another reaction is not to sweat it and focus on the next batter.

    If he was a fan and not a major league pitcher, Freddy Garcia is the type of person who fits into the second category and that's a good trait for a pitcher to have.

    In other words, if there is a runner on base, he's not the type to worry about it and does not get distracted by it. If you want proof consider this statistic of Garcia's at the time of his first pitch.

    That would be his batting average with runners on base, which stood at .221 (21-for-95) with men on base.

    By the time the Yankees wrapped up the win, that number dropped to .198 (21-for-106) with men on base. It fell because 11 times, Garcia faced a hitter with someone on the bases and each time that batter did not get a hit.

    The eight-run margin takes some of the emphasis off Garcia's effort with one exception. For five innings, he was throwing in a one-run game, meaning that he was giving the Yankees a chance at eventually having a big inning.

    "It is probably the experience he has had," Yankees Joe Girardi said. "He has pitched in big situations. He is able to relax and just make his pitch."

    Yesterday, Garcia threw 44 pitches out of 102 with runners on base and each time Cleveland made an out, it was an example of him going into shutdown mode and not giving in. It also helped that his splitter was vastly improved from Tuesday against the Red Sox but even without one pitch being as effective, you get the feeling Garcia can get it done more times than not.

    "The big thing is him physically going ahead and looking like he’s going to dominate you and get it by you and him knowing that he can get you out with everyone else; but also keep good velocity in the tank when he needs to,” Curtis Granderson said. "I think it’s just a matter of hitters swinging at his pitches versus trying to swing at everything they want to. He does a great job of not giving in at any situation – no matter what the count may be."

    It's a great lesson for pitchers and the ultimate definition of what a crafty pitcher should be. Pitchers don't need to have overpowering or flamethrowing stuff all the time, they just need to get the outs.

    That is what Garcia has consistently done and many times, the offense has eventually assisted him with a big inning.

    By now, the skeptics might be saying well he hasn't pitched well against the Red Sox and the Indians are a struggling offense. The counter to that is to say that pitchers often create batting slumps by getting hitters to sometimes overthink because they don't know how to prepare for pitchers such as Garcia.

    "You never know what he is going to throw," Derek Jeter said. "He has five or six different pitches that he can throw at anytime. He has a lot of off-speed pitches that can keep you off-balance. He is not afraid to throw any pitch, regardless of what the situation is. It makes for an uncomfortable at-bat for a hitter."

    It also makes for a comfortable time for the Yankees, knowing that their serene even-keel ace of the bases is on the mound.


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    Joba goes from Semisonic Arm to Surgery

    Friday, June 10, 2011, 2:41 PM [General]

    Recently, I went to a book/cd sale at a local church where for five dollars I could fill up a bag with as many books/cds as possible.

    To my surprise, I found the album for a band called "Semisonic", whose most-known hit from their 1998 album “Feeling Strangely Fine”, is called "Closing Time".

    The song, which I first heard on a WFUV sampler CD for members, was believed to be about last call at a bar. Years later, it turned out to be about fatherhood.

    Closing time
    Open all the doors and let you out into the world
    Closing time
    Turn all of the lights on over every boy and every girl...

    I know who I want to take me home
    I know who I want to take me home
    I know who I want to take me home...

    By now, you might be wondering what this has to do with the Yankees and perhaps the biggest news that developed from this week’s sweep to the Red Sox.

    That was the news that within a 24-hour span, Joba Chamberlain went from being out for about a month with a forearm injury to having "Tommy John" surgery next Thursday because an MRI found a torn ulnar collateral ligament.

    During the course of Chamberlain’s much-chronicled Yankee career that began with a flame-throwing reliever in August 2007 (was that really four years ago), continued with a much-hyped debut as a starter on June 3, 2008 against the Blue Jays, it seems like the events of his Yankee life are enough to have lasted a lifetime and not just four years.

    At one point, he was a starter. Then he was the man many thought would be responsible for taking the Yankees home in the ninth inning once Mariano Rivera decided to end his legendary career.

    Perhaps the weirdest thing of all of this is that Chamberlain has repeatedly said that he feels “no pain” or in other words, he is feeling "strangely fine".

    "I was kind of in shock there when I heard the news,” Chamberlain said at his locker. "I wanted to get out of [the doctor’s office] before I broke down. I shed a few tears, but you can’t let it beat you."

    Two songs past "Closing Time" is a five-minute song called "Made to Last". The opening line is "Made to Last a While and Roll On" and part of the hook is "I Hope You Last a Long Time".

    Nobody knows if anyone on the Yankees has even listened to this album. But the themes in the album correspond to the front office's thoughts and hopes that by designing the "Joba Rules" with the occasional amendment, that Chamberlain would last a long time.

    And he still may since he is 25. The next time anyone sees him on a major league mound will after his 26th birthday and perhaps this is what will get him back to his 2007 levels or even the level of his July 25, 2008 game in Boston.

    At least that’s what his father Harlan Chamberlain thinks, as he boldly told the Times and others.

    "Pitching as well as he has with the ailment, I can only, from a positive perspective, look at it being repaired — and you’re talking about ’07 again,".

    "You’ve got to stay upbeat. I have no doubt in my mind, whatsoever, that he’s going to come back better than he is now, and that’s scary. With the level of maturity he’s attained, the knowledge and experience he’s had, all that coupled together with his arm being restored? It’s going to be astronomical."

    In the meantime, the Yankees will use what they have internally and possibly find someone externally or from the DL (Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano).  If they go the external route, they can only hope the move succeeds as much as Kerry Wood did last year and not like Armando Benitez in 2003.

    And if Chamberlain successfully returns, it will be just as the line from "Closing Time" - every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end and right now that is what the Yankees are hoping for.



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    Cracking the Burnett code against the Red Sox

    Thursday, June 9, 2011, 3:14 AM [General]

    Two years ago the Yankees failed to win their first eight games against the Red Sox and spent a portion of that summer answering questions worded a hundred different ways about that issue. Eventually they finally answered with a resounding four-game sweep during the first weekend of August that resembled the five-game sweep in Boston three years earlier.

    That weekend happened to be A.J. Burnett's best start against the Red Sox as a Yankee. During the second game of the series, a 15-inning victory, Burnett walked six but allowed just one hit in 7 2/3 innings. Since that game, Burnett is 19-23 with a 4.94 ERA.

    And even that could be a misleading number. Since that Friday night, Burnett has allowed at least five runs 15 times and failed to get past the six 22 times.

    Last night, Burnett added to both categories with a putrid 5 2/3 innings that saw the Red Sox pound him for eight runs and seven hits.

    Those are not numbers Burnett was recruited from Toronto to put up against the Red Sox, but some interesting stats might sneak beyond the surface of Burnett's recent history.

    Entering last night, Burnett's average fastball has been clocked at 92.5 mph and is being used a career-low 61.3 percent of the time. Since the night of August 7, 2009 and going into last night, that pitch had been thrown over 3,000 times (3,036 to be exact) for an average velocity of 93.3. Before that night, Burnett had thrown 1,481 fastballs for an average speed of 94.2 as a Yankee.

    And considering that Burnett turned 34 this winter, it might seem likely that the velocity will decrease as Burnett completes the life of the contract, which takes him through his 36th birthday and you won't see him pitch as well against the Red Sox as he did with the Blue Jays.

    "I'm not in Toronto anymore. So I'm tired of hearing that. That's just ****ed. OK? If anything's different, I made pitches in Toronto. I didn't make pitches tonight. That's the most stupid thing I ever heard."

    That was Burnett's response to a question about why he pitched so well against Boston with New York but has not continued that as a Yankee.

    It was a terse response but the fan reaction might be similar if this one turn into the bad A.J. becomes a recurring show.

    It might not play out that way if Burnett can pitch with slightly diminished velocity but being successful at it is similar to real estate, location, location and location.

    Last night Burnett did not come close to having it - just freeze frame the 3-2 pitch that David Ortiz launched into the right center field seats in the first inning for a three-run home run.

    Burnett will not get another crack at the Red Sox until August and by then the flaws in the Yankee code might be fixed.

    Perhaps Francisco Cervelli will have cured his throwing woes that led to two errors. Perhaps Brett Gardner will snap out of his season-long fog on the bases that surfaced again in the sixth inning when he failed to score on a passed ball.

    Assuming the Yankees figure it out and play as well as they did during their nine-game trip, they will be right there with the Red Sox. And if they don't, the first really hot days of the 2011 baseball season will have shown us that the Red Sox are a few ticks better than the Yankees.

    "When you don’t make pitches, they’re going to beat you," Burnett said. "That’s the bottom line. I don’t think our season is going to dictate over this season, by far, but they’re making pitches and we haven’t."

    The season won't be dictated by the events of the last two nights. 

    For the Yankees a reversal tonight would remove some of the uneasiness in the air after two losses and for Burnett a few quality outing would remove some of the stain of his latest clunker against the Red Sox with the hopes that his next matchup in the rivalry is similar to August 7, 2009.

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    Good Results on a Rare Itinerary

    Monday, June 6, 2011, 12:36 AM [General]

    What you witnessed from the Yankees was a rare thing these days and that is not just a series victory against the Angels in Anaheim.

    The rarity is the Seattle-Oakland-Anaheim trip and making all those stops on the same trip. That trip is rarity because of things like having to play six series against division rivals and having to play interleague games.

    The unbalanced schedule has been in place since 2001 and interleague play has existed since 1997, meaning that the three city West Coast trip is mostly a thing of the past. It usually gets combined with something strange like Chicago-Seattle-New York, which the Yankees did in 2007 or Anaheim-Seattle-Toronto, which the Yankees will do in the middle of September.

    The last time the Yankees had a trip that actually was scheduled in this manner was July 28-August 5, 1998 when the destinations were Anaheim-Seattle-Oakland. During that trip won seven of 10 games, doing so in a different manner than this successful trip.

    While these Yankees won six of nine games and six of the last seven in mostly low-scoring affairs, that trip saw 65 runs cross the plate.

    This trip was different but in a good way besides the wins, the Yankees pitched and hit enough when various moments called for it, especially against a high caliber of starting pitching.

    "I don’t know if we’ll ever face a nine-game stretch of that kind of starting pitching," Mark Teixeira said to reporters following Sunday's 5-3 win. "To win six of those games is big."

    They won on days like Sunday when relief pitchers did not have their best stuff. They won on days like Saturday with an ace (CC Sabathia) nearly going the distance and getting timely home runs.

    They also won by getting a complete game from Bartolo Colon, a 10-run display by their offense and two big home runs from Nick Swisher, who has struggled through a significant portion of the first two months.

    And in case you might be wondering, how each player did on this trip, keep reading the list below.

    Derek Jeter 10-for-35, batting average increases from .255 to .260

    Curtis Granderson 9-for-37 with one home run and five RBI, batting average drops from .280 to .274

    Mark Teixeira 10-for-35 with five home runs and nine RBI, batting average increases from .253 to .258

    Alex Rodriguez 10-for-35 with one home run and seven RBI, batting average stays at .287

    Robinson Cano 10-for-37 with three home runs and six RBI, batting average dips from .279 to .277

    Russell Martin 1-for-22 with one RBI, batting average drops from .266 to .236

    Nick Swisher 8-for-29 with three home runs and five RBI, batting average increases from .204 to .215

    Jorge Posada 3-for-20 with one RBI, batting average decreases from .183 to .178

    Brett Gardner 5-for-30 with one RBI, two out of three stolen base attempts, average decreases from .270 to .258

    The Yankees actually batted .231 (71-for-307) with 13 home runs, 41 RBI and 43 runs scored but when 3-4-5 combine to go 30-for-107 with nine home runs and 22 RBI, that is one of the ways a team wins six games on this trip.

    It also helps when your team ERA decreases from 3.66 to 3.45, continuing its drop since the night of May 15, which happened to be the last time the Yankees faced the Red Sox. In the last three weeks, the Yankees have won 13 of 19 games while seeing their ERA drop from 3.81.

    The trip began with concerns over the good pitching facing the Yankees, starting with Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez in Seattle; followed by Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez in Oakland and Jered Weaver in Anaheim.

    It turned out that as the Yankees welcome themselves back to the Bronx, they also pitched fairly well, return in a fairly good state and now that they survived the three city West Coast trip, they can float on with the next phase of the season.



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    Mariano Rivera in Increments of 50

    Thursday, May 26, 2011, 3:24 AM [General]

    Yesterday Mariano Rivera became the 15th pitcher to reach 1,000 appearances and the first to do with it with the same team. There are certain Rivera appearances that most of us know such as his first appearance (5/23/95 at Anaheim), his first save (5/17/96 vs. Anaheim), his 400th save (7/16/06 vs. the White Sox) and his 500th save (6/28/09 at the Mets).

    If there is a best way to comprehend what 1,000 appearances with one team actually means, it's best to look incrementally such as in increments of 50.

    50 - July 6, 1996 vs. Milwaukee - A year and two days removed from his eye-opening 11-strikeout performance in Chicago, Rivera does what he did so often during the 1996 season. That was pitching the seventh and eighth inning and in a 2-0 victory, he put the tying run on first base in Jesse Levis but then retired Fernando Vina on a double play. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 127 innings and had an ERA of 3.76

    100 - May 24, 1997 vs. Boston - Approaching the two-month mark of his first season as closer, Rivera pitched the ninth (tie game at home) and replaced David Cone by retiring Reggie Jefferson, Tim Naehring and Troy O'Leary. Then Rivera was the winning pitcher when Charlie Hayes hit the game-winning two-run home run off John Wasdin. At this point in his career, Rivera has pitched 198 2/3 innings with an ERA of 3.26 and 19 saves.

    150 - April 27, 1998 vs. Toronto - In just his fourth appearance of the 114-win Yankee season due to a DL stint, Rivera enters a 1-0 game and keeps it that way by retiring the side, including two ex-Yankees Mike Stanley and Tony Fernandez. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 250 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.91 and 50 saves.

    200 - September 26, 1998 vs. Tampa Bay - In his final appearance of 1998, Rivera replaced Mike Stanton with one out in the ninth and actually gave up a run on a bases-loaded walk to Mike Kelly. He kept the game at 3-1 by retiring Quinton McCracken on a groundout, ending an appearance with two hits and two walks. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 307 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.75 and 84 saves.

    250 - August 24, 1999 at Texas - In an extra-inning game that saw the Yankees overcome an early 4-0 deficit and blow a 7-6 lead in the eighth, Rivera comes in for the 11th following a three-run home run by Tino Martinez. With two outs, Rivera had second and third but ends a 10-7 victory by striking out Ivan Rodriguez. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 359 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.71 and 120 saves.

    300 - July 8, 2000 vs. New York Mets - In the nightcap of the first "Subway Series" game, Rivera finished out a game best known for the Roger Clemens-Mike Piazza drama that resurfaced in the World Series.  He nearly gave up an unearned run when Derek Jeter was charged with an error on a Jay Payton grounder but nails down a 4-2 victory by retiring Mark Johnson. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 416 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.62 and 150 saves.

    350 - May 13, 2001 vs. Baltimore - This was a rough outing for Rivera who came into the game in the 11th after Paul O'Neill hit a two-run home run in the ninth. Rivera faced eight Orioles and allowed four hits and one walk. After allowing the go-ahead run on a groundout, Rivera allowed a three-run home run to Jeff Conine for the deciding margin in a 10-5 loss. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 473 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.66 and 176 saves.

    400 - September 26, 2001 vs. Tampa Bay - A night after the Yankees clinched their fourth straight AL East title in the first home game after the Sept. 11 attacks, Rivera finishes up a 5-1 victory by hitting Jose Guillen with a pitch (In 2008 Guillen hit a go-ahead home run off Rivera for the Royals) but ends the game by getting Felix Martinez on a double play. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 530 innings with an ERA of 2.60 and 212 saves.

    450 - May 1, 2003 vs. Seattle - After injuries in 2002, Rivera makes his 2003 debut the night before and in this one he picks up his first save of 2003 by striking out Randy Winn, retiring Bret Boone and noted Yankee killer Edgar Martinez to preserve Mike Mussina's 6-0 start. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 581 innings with an ERA of 2.60 and 244 saves.

    500 - August 30, 2003 at Boston - Rivera reaches 30 saves with this 1 1/3 inning stint. He replaced Gabe White with first and second and gave up a two-run double to David McCarty. After Jorge Posada's two-run home run in the ninth, Rivera nailed down a 10-7 win by stranding David Ortiz at first as he retired Jason Varitek. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 637 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.54 and 273 saves.

    550 - June 30, 2004 vs. Boston - During the famous Yankee sweep of the 2004 season, Rivera comes on after the Yankees scored twice in the eighth on a double by Gary Sheffield and a single by Hideki Matsui. And this time, he nails down the save emphatically by striking out Gabe Kapler, Varitek and McCarty. After this 4-2 victory, Rivera had pitched 689 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.40 and 312 saves.

    600 - May 20, 2005 at New York Mets - Pitching at Shea Stadium in a 5-2 win, Rivera gets a three-run lead following two productive Yankee hits. He nails down his eighth save easily by retiring Jose Reyes, Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 743 innings with an ERA of 2.42 and 344 saves.

    650 - September 15, 2005 at Tampa Bay - With the Yankees needing every game in the AL wild card race because of their 11-19 start, Rivera enters into a 7-5 game with two outs in the eighth. After walking Eduardo Perez, Rivera retires Toby Hall. His teammates give him a four-run lead and Rivera seals a 9-5 victory by retiring Carl Crawford for the final out. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 799 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.34 and 375 saves.

    700 - July 22, 2006 at Toronto - Two nights after giving up a game-winning home run to Vernon Wells, Rivera does not have to face him again and preserves a 5-4 victory. He does so with two groundouts by Aaron Hill and John McDonald and a pop-up by Reed Johnson. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 859 innings with an ERA of 2.32 and 702 saves.

    750 - June 29, 2007 vs Oakland - In a lost weekend against the Athletics, Rivera pitched a four-out save after Kyle Farnsworth put two on. He ended the eighth by fanning Jack Cust, hits Dan Johnson in the ninth and ends it by striking out Bobby Crosby for his 11th save in a 2-1 victory. At this point in his career, Rivera had pitched 913 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.35 and 424 saves.

    800 - May 8, 2008 vs. Cleveland - The Yankees avoid the sweep against the Indians with a 6-3 victory and Rivera strands Ben Francisco on second. That was because he retired Franklin Guttierrez and Ryan Garko for the final two outs of his ninth save in the Joe Girardi era. After this 6-3 victory, Rivera had pitched 967 innings with an ERA of 2.32 and 452 saves.

    850 - September 23, 2008 at Toronto - Rivera is winding down the first non-playoff season of his career with his 38th save. Two nights after pitching the final outs at old Yankee Stadium, Rivera finished of a 3-1 win by getting Scott Rolen on a groundout and then by striking out Greg Zaun and Travis Snider. At this point of his career, Rivera had pitched 1,022 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.29 and 481 saves.

    900 - August 14, 2009 at Seattle - As the Yankees took their hot performance out West, Rivera enters a 4-2 game after the Yankees scored two in the top of the ninth inning.  Three groundouts later to Rob Johnson, Josh Wilson and Michael Saunders on a ground outs. At this point of his career, Rivera had pitched 1,073 2/3 innings with an ERA of 2.27 and 316 saves.

    950 - July 5, 2010 at Oakland - In a 3-1 win over the Athletics, Rivera finished off a three-hitter and preserves Javier Vazquez's victory.  He does so easily by retiring Ryan Sweeney, Kurt Suzuki and Jack Cust. At this point of his career, Rivera had pitched 1,123 1/3 innings with an ERA of 2.22 and 545 saves.

    So there you have it and at some point, we might be documenting Rivera as he sails past some of the 15 men on the list of 1,000 game pitchers.

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    Items of Interest in the Tight AL East

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 12:39 PM [General]

    Today is May 25 and eight years ago, the Blue Jays were successful in a four-game sweep over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. That weekend featured four dreary losses that saw the Yankees strand 34 runners.

    If that sounds familiar, it is because it is what has happened to the Yankees at times this month and seemed destined to happen again last night, putting Toronto in position to go for the sweep.

    Instead, things like Curtis Granderson’s first four-hit night as a Yankee, Jorge Posada’s pinch hit double put the Yankees in position to change the script and that was achieved with Mark Teixeira’s single off ex-Yankee Juan Rivera’s first baseman glove.

    "Toronto tended to have our number from last year to the start of this year,” Granderson said last night. “They're a team that always plays well against us. But to come back and get a victory over this team, and with the race in the American League East as tight as it's been all year, this is definitely a big one for us, and now we have a chance to win the series."

    Trouble is an accurate way to put and not just Jose Bautista and his major league leading 19 home runs. The trouble came in the form of smart base running instincts on April 29, and then with bunts and other assorted singles in the sixth inning Monday against Bartolo Colon and again last night in the fourth off CC Sabathia.

    Notice the word tight in Granderson’s statement. The win made the Yankees a first place team again for the first time since they held a one-game lead with a 20-13 record after beating Kansas City.

    Since that point, the Yankees have won six of 14 games and the race has stayed tight. The flags for the standings line up this way - Boston, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore – but that can easily be flipped a week from now considering the 3 ½ game gap between the five teams.

    If this keeps up and it seems that it might, especially since you go through all of baseball and see average play throughout with 12 teams between .500 and five games over.

    That’s what it looks like as baseball reaches the first of three mile markers – Memorial Day weekend.

    Elsewhere on a quiet Wednesday morning with a business trip to Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim on the horizon, Rafael Soriano is meeting with Dr. Andrews today. Meeting with Dr. Andrews is never a good sign but until his findings are revealed to Soriano, the Yankees won’t announce it.

    Assuming Soriano is out for a long time, you can expect to see more of Luis Ayala. Ayala essentially takes over the David Robertson role and that is his most prominent role since the Mets acquired him in August 2008 to be their closer after Billy Wagner’s injury.

    Ayala had nine out of 11 saves during his month with the Mets but was coming off an injury. Now that he is past that, it appears to Joe Girardi that Ayala is throwing like he did when he was the primary eighth-inning setup man for the Nationals.

    The Yankees will try to go six over against Jo-Jo Reyes. Reyes has gone 27 straight starts without a victory, one shy of the major league record set by Matt Keough with Oakland in 1978-1979. It is the longest since Anthony Young’s dubious run with the Mets in 1992-93.

    Keough’s streak ended September 5, 1979 when he pitched a five-hitter against the Brewers and bested Mike Caldwell. Young’s streak ended July 27, 1993 much differently.

    Young gave up the go-ahead run (unearned of course because the 1993 Mets were awful at defense). He was one out away from the 28th loss but was awarded the win when Eddie Murray doubled in the winning run.

    One person not worrying about a losing streak is Sabathia. Sabathia will start Sunday after the Yankee bats attempt to hit Michael Pineda and Felix Hernandez.

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    It's Jose Bautista's World and pitchers are living in it

    Monday, May 23, 2011, 6:28 PM [General]

    When it comes to power hitting in the major leagues, it is Jose Bautista's world and opposing pitchers are living it in. It is that way even if he puts it "every time I hit the ball hard, it just happens to sail over the fence".

    "As weird as it may sound, I don’t try to hit home runs when I go up to the plate," Bautista said. "I do try to hit the ball very hard and it just happens that when connect well on a 2-0 pitch – it’s going out."

    It's not everytime.

    But it's close such as once every 7.5 at-bats this year and once every 9.7 at-bats. That accounts for how frequently Bautista has hit home runs and since becoming the premier power hitter in the game at the start of last season, he has 72 over his last 705 at-bats.

    While skeptics may find it hard to believe, some Met fans might find it hard to swallow and perhaps even harder than when Jason Bay became a power hitter with the Pirates and then with the Red Sox after being a minor league teammate of Jose Reyes.

    Believe it or not, Bautista was in the Met organization for about five seconds if that and who's to say if he would made the adjustment described below and in this story from last year with the Met coaching staff:

    "It’s more of the timing of everything,” Bautista said. “I start way earlier and I’ve been talking about that for the last two years. It has created a night and day difference because I can get myself to that good hitting position consistently - see the ball better and attack the ball before it gets too deep in the strike zone and those good hitting counts, it’s no joke.

    "You can look up historically when people are hitting 2-0, 3-1 counts batting average and power production is way better than 0-2 or behind in the count."

    On a day Met fans might want to forget July 30, 2004, Bautista went from Kansas City to Pittsburgh with a layover in New York. The Mets obtained him from the Royals and then flipped him to the Pirates for Kris Benson. In Pittsburgh, he hit a home run once every 30 at-bats (43 in 1,314 at-bats).

    The first time Bautista did something of note against the Yankees was August 30, 2008. He had his first RBI for the Blue Jays and also made a key defensive play that started a ninth-inning double play against Alex Rodriguez.

    Though it might be lost in the memories of many, it might have been the first glance at what a complete player Bautista would eventually become. Not lost in the memories of many is what he did on April 29 in a 5-4 Blue Jay win.

    That night, he a home run that still has not landed, similar to the shot hit on Opening Day in Toronto. He also displayed smart baserunning instincts by distracting David Robertson and allowing Rajai Davis to score the game-winning run.

    "Thankfully, he's in our uniform," John Farrell said that night. "Whether it's an aggressive play on the basepaths, whether it's getting the right pitch in a certain situation where he drives it out of the ballpark ... We've said it a number of times -- he's very much a complete player, it shows up every night, and it's a fortunate thing for us."

    Now that we've delved into how Bautista became so good, which is something easily found by typing in "How did Bautista get so good", the question is how do you pitch to him or stop him?

    Advanced scouting seems to indicate there is no way.

    Perhaps the solution, if you want to call it that is throw it and hope for the best because after all it is Jose Bautista's world and major league pitching is living in it trying to stop the man known as Joey Bats.

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    Items of Interest - Home Run Approval Edition

    Sunday, May 22, 2011, 11:30 AM [General]

    Today is May 22 and a year ago at this exact time, the Yankees had hit 50 home runs. Two years ago at the same time, they had 66. Three years ago at the same moment (the morning of May 22), the Yankees had connected 46 times.

    Those are the home run figures through games of May 21 the previous three years of Joe Girardi's managerial reign and following yesterday's four home run display, the Yankees have hit 70 in 1482 at-bats, which means that every 21.1 at-bats a home run will leave someone's bat.

    The home runs have helped the Yankees lead the AL with 226 runs scored and with a .447 slugging percentage, but they also have seen the Yankees rank low in other hitting categories. In doubles, the Yankees are 14th, in total hits, they are 11th and in batting average, they are ninth.

    Much has been made about the home runs and the fact that the Yankees are the only team in the majors with more than four players hitting at least six home runs.

    And to Joe Girardi, so what?

    After all the Yankees have always been a team hitting a lot of home runs during their good years and what is the difference between scoring on a home run and scoring on a single, though it is entirely possible that the Yankees' 1-12 record when trailing through five, 1-14 when trailing through six, 1-16 when trailing through seven and 1-17 when behind after eight might be based on struggling to do other things besides hit home runs.

    The second part of that question is where the home run detractors come into play, especially since 118 runs (52.2 percent) have occurred that way. That means that the Yankees are not consistently hitting with runners in scoring position, which was evident during much of the last homestand that caused a five-game losing streak.

    Home runs 67 through 70 occurred yesterday and they were impressive-looking shots, especially from Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson.

    Teixeira had his back foot set as he batted from the right-handed side of the plate and launched a pitch over the right-center field wall.

    Granderson looked lost swinging at Chris Capuano sliders during his first two at-bats. On the third, he saw the same pitch and the outcome landed in the front rows of the right field seats.

    "I’d hate for anyone to say, ‘I don’t want to hit any home runs anymore,’ " Teixeira said Saturday. "It’s kind of a double-edged sword. If you don’t want the home run, then you better get a lot of hits. You better get a lot of base hits with runners in scoring position."

    Still you'd like to see runs scored in other ways, especially when what the AL home run leader in previous years looked like.

    "It’s important for us to think small ball and hit behind runners, and also score with base hits, doubles, sacrifices — there are many ways to score," Alex Rodriguez said. "Later on, when it counts the most - it’s hard only to score by home runs."

    The 2010 Blue Jays led the league with 257 home runs but then hit .248, which ranked ninth in the league. Two years ago, though was an exception as the Yankees led the league in home runs and were second with a .283 batting average.

    Three years ago, the White Sox led the league and made the playoffs despite the fourth-worst batting average in the league, which may have contributed to them being eliminated in the first round by the Rays after winning a 1-0 one-game playoff game against the Twins.

    You can go on and on with the arguments for and against home runs. And when the home runs fly like they did Saturday, you get a game like that. And when they're not, you get poor situational hitting such as Friday.

    Today the Yankees will try their luck against Mike Pelfrey, who has allowed eight home runs during an inconsistent 3-3 start. The eight home runs are four fewer than his total from last season though five have been allowed during this month when Pelfrey has gone 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA.


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