Finally a trade

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010, 8:52 PM [General]

    Every day I check the baseball transactions with the hopes of seeing something interesting. For the first two weeks of the offseason, the only things I saw were such mundane signings such as Pete Orr to the Phillies, Taylor Buchholz to the Red Sox.

    No offense to those guys, but those are not exactly the names I am looking for. So each day I sit back and wait, read some rumors and hope for an interesting move.

    While I know there are interesting moves to come in free agency and trades, without games to disect and analyze, all the rumors can become quite a bore.

    So that is why today's news is a welcome respite from the smaller signings and rumors of things to come. That is why I was thrilled to see the Marlins-Braves engage in a trade. It's not a trade in the sense of the old Joe Carter-Roberto Alomar deal, but nonetheless it's a trade involving major leaguers.

    The Braves obtained Dan Uggla, the second baseman who recently rejected a contract extension. Uggla is a Silver Slugger Award winner and has averaged 31 home runs and over 90 RBI since becoming a major leaguer as a Rule Five pick in 2006.

    To obtain Uggla, the Braves gave up utlity man Omar Infante and former Yankee relief pitcher Mike Dunn, who in the last year has been acquired for Uggla, Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.

    Here are some comments on what each team said about the deal:

    "I’m really exited, I already made out about five lineups today. This is a big bat in our lineup, and he’s a tremendous clubhouse guy. As blue-collar as they come. Our fans are going to absolutely fall in love with him. He’s a great teammate, and he plays the game one way — he tries to beat you." - manager Fredi Gonzalez to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

    For the Marlins, the reasons were more financially-driven, which has been the case throughout their history for several trades.

    "We weren't able to come to an agreement, which really left us with two choices: Recognizing that he can walk after the 2011 season, we could either bring him back for the 2011 season and then have him leave via free agency, or we could trade him, try to get value now, and also respend his allocation in our budget either through trade or free agency. So we took the latter and decided to trade him today to the Braves. [We have] nothing but great things to say about Dan, and we wish he was a Marlin. But he's a Brave now." - Larry Beinfest to

    Whatever the reasons, this is music to my ears - we have a trade. It's the same excitement when the comissioners of other sports utter those words at the podium on draft day.

    So to the general managers of major league baseball, keep the trades coming.


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    A history of long-term Yankee catching

    Thursday, November 11, 2010, 10:12 AM [General]

    While whatever the Yankees are doing in their courtship of Cliff Lee dominates the talk shows and newspaper space, the transition of Jorge Posada to full-time designated hitter appears to have begun.

    Posada, 39, has been a DH 90 times in his career. From that spot, he has batted .223 with nine home runs and 34 RBI. The reason could be those are days he is facing pitchers whom pitch him well but the more likely reason is that for some being a designated hitter is a bore.

    Last year, Posada was the starting DH 30 times for a total of 117 plate appearances. During those games, he was at .245 with four home runs and 14 RBI. One of those was a grand slam against the Astros on June 12 and the next day when Posada returned behind the plate he hit another grand slam.

    That made him the first Yankee to hit a grand slam in consecutive games since Bill Dickey in 1937. Like Posada, Dickey was a catcher and also like Posada, he also hit very well and gradually age took over.

    Unlike then, there was no designated hitter to transition aging players into. So how did the Yankees handle it?

    From 1928 through 1946 (a 17-year career interrupted by World War II in 1944 and 1945), Dickey appeared in 1789 games and 130 or more in 1929, 1931, 1933, 1937 and 1938.

    By the time the 1940s came around, Dickey was 32 and just finished four straight years of .300, batting .326 with 102 home runs and 460 RBI. In 1940, Dickey slipped to .247 and so did his playing time ranging from 106 to 54 until 1946 when he became the manager for the final 105 games of that season.

    Similar to Posada’s situation towards the end of his career with regards to the highly touted Jesus Montero, the Yankees had someone thought of highly in Yogi Berra, who got his feet wet with 22 at-bats before catching 51 games in 1947 and 71 in 1948.

    While the Yankees made the transition from Dickey to Berra, they used Buddy Rosar as a backup for 58 games in 1942.  In 1943, it was Rollie Hemsley as the primary backup for 52 games. Three years later as Dickey played his final year; the Yankees employed Aaron Robinson for 95 games.

    Robinson also played 74 games behind the plate while Berra spent time in right but right before spring training in 1948, he was traded to the Tigers for Eddie Lopat, who won 118 games from 1948-1955 while pitching to Berra for 903 2/3 innings, spanning 132 games.

    Berra caught most of the games for the Yankees during the 1950s but by 1958, he caught 88 while Elston Howard caught 67. Perhaps not coincidental, he batted .318 in the World Series win over the Braves after hitting .222 the previous year.

    Unlike now, Berra spent time in the outfield and when the 1960s dawned, he was mostly an outfielder as Howard eased into regular catching, doing so until August 1967 when he was traded to Dick Williams “Impossible Dream” Red Sox to catch the likes of Jim Lonborg.

    With Howard gone, the Yankees needed another catcher to pass the torch and when they drafted fourth overall in 1968, they found their man a backstop from Kent State University named Thurman Munson.

    While Munson was preparing and doing well in Binghamton and Syracuse, the catching was mostly done by Jake Gibbs. When Munson showed he was capable with 24 starts over the final two months of 1969, it was his job and he kept from 1970 until his tragic death in 1979.

    After the untimely passing, the Yankees used the following as their primary catchers:

    Rick Cerone 1980-1982, 1987 Butch Wynegar 1983-1986, Joel Skinner 1988, Don Slaught 1989, Bob Geren 1990, Matt Nokes 1991-1992, Mike Stanley 1993-1995, Joe Girardi 1996-97.

    So after Munson, the Yankees went 20 years without a long-term catcher until Posada. Now the question is will Montero be the next long-term backstop or will it be someone else such as Austin Romine and the other question will there be a stop-gap until one of these players is ready for major league catching.

    In a few months, those answers will become clearer.

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    Giants Baseball - Championship Torture

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010, 12:17 AM [General]

    The irony of this is that the Giants could have been ending 56 years of "torture" at Yankee Stadium within walking distance of where the last championship team called home. Had they done so, they would have clinched within a short walk from the Polo Grounds, a venue that could have been reached by foot via the Macombs Damn Bridge.

    The Yankees would have been favorites just like the Rangers.  In the last month the reality was the Giants played superior when it counted - in the playoffs.

    They set a record for the wild card era by winning a championship with six one-run victories after endless "torture" in close games during the regular season. They pitched incredibly and did not stop hitting late in ballgames.

    In their 11 playoff wins, the Giants performed remarkably well in the seventh inning and beyond.  They batted .343 (37-for-108) and scored 19 runs. In the four World Series victories, the Giants were even better, batting .375 (15-for-40) and scoring 14 runs.

    That is how you win a championship. That is how you end the longest wait in the National League other than the Chicago Cubs.

    It may have been torture, the phrase coined by Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper, but now it is championship torture. It is the type that elicits celebration in the Mission District and other parts of San Francisco.

    It is why fans donned T-shirts that read "Fear the Beard", fake beards in honor of closer Brian Wilson and panda suits in tribute for Pablo Sandoval.

    It is what players hope for when they are toiling on 100-loss teams such as the 2002 and 2003 Tigers. That is where center fielder Andres Torres career began on teams that won 56 and 43 games before spending most of 2005-2008 in the mionrs. All Torres did was hit .318 in the World Series.

    It is what players hope for when they are trying to stay focused playing on the 100-loss Rays and nearly as bad Baltimore Orioles. That is where Aubrey Huff was for most of eight years before getting close with the Tigers, losing a one-game playoff and then waiting until mid-January before finding a team.

    All Huff did was hit a huge home run in Game Four and then lay down a huge sacrifice bunt in the seventh of Game Five.

    It is what players hope for when everyone around them is getting traded elsewhere. That is the situation Freddy Sanchez encountered in Pittsburgh until it was his turn to escape 95 losses. That occured in July 2009 and all Sanchez did in these five games was hit .273 and key the series opening win.

    It is what players hope for when suddenly they find themselves claimed off waivers, even if it was to prevent a division rival from getting their services. That was the situation Cody Ross found himself in on August 22 when the Giants acquired him from the Marlins to prevent the Padres from getting him.

    All Ross did was bat .288 in the final few weeks and then .294 (15-for-51) with five home runs, 10 RBI and 11 runs scored. That was after starting his career with the 103-loss Tigers in 2003, the 91-loss Dodgers in 2005 and two winning teams in Florida that fell short to the Phillies. Ross avenged falling short to the Phillies by hitting .350 in the NLCS.

    It was players hope for when their 15th season is spent between the disabled list and a reserve role - even if they won a ring earlier in their career. That was the situation for Edgar Renteria, the man whose game-winning hit won the 1997 World Series for Florida and whose groundout in St. Louis ended 86 years of torture for the Red Sox seven years later.

    All Renteria did was take home MVP honors with a .411 (7-for-17) showing that was puncutuated by a three-run home run in the seventh inning off Cliff Lee - the man who supposedly couldn't be defeated.

    Now Renteria is one of over hundred players to win championships with at least two teams. He also is the fourth man to get two series-clinching hits, joining Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Yogi Berra.

    The Giants did that and then some, especially on the mound where the staff ERA led by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner pitched to a 2.45 ERA - the lowest since the 2001 Diamondbacks beat the Yankees with a 1.94 ERA.

    That is why when they return to San Francisco they will celebrate championship torture - the kind they hoped for in 1962 and 1989. Now they have the championship and can feel the same things people in Boston felt in 2004, Chicago felt in 2005 and Philadelphia in 2008.


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    A guy walks into a Giants Bar and Colby Lewis makes it a series for the Rangers

    Sunday, October 31, 2010, 3:10 AM [General]

    My third view of a Colby Lewis postseason start appeared to be happening at the same time on three different televisions. That is because it was.

    What was I going to do flip back and forth between the Knicks and the World Series? The Knicks will have plenty of time to blow the fourth quarter in attempts to win games and the World Series will be over within a week.

    Thanks to Lewis (the other C.L), who gets overshadowed by Cliff Lee, the Rangers will get to use Lee on their terms. None of this three days rest stuff -  the thing that moves people up a day just to stay alive.

    The view was from the back room of Finnerty's, which is a bar in the East Village that is heavy on the San Francisco Giants. Truth is I was looking for a Texas Ranger bar in New York to see what the scene is like for a team playing its first World Series game but either I didn't look hard enough or there is none. (If there is feel free to let me know).

    So giving up that search, I seeked out a bar that seemed to cater to the Giant fans and that's what led me to this place. I pulled a LA-type move by arriving in the bottom of the first (that's what I get for thinking it was on third avenue and not second).

    The last time I pulled a scene trip for a sporting event was during the two weeks when I liked soccer or European football and I watched two US games, one at Baker Street Pub as the guest of another friend in the media where there was delirium after Landon Donovan scored.

    By the time I settled in with the available beverage for purchase, the place was teeming with activity and people clad in the orange and black of the Giants. Being that it was the night before Halloween, there were several Brian Wilson beards as costumes.

    For all the cheering and anticipation from the Giant fans, it was not to be and that was because just like the Yankees, they could not hit Colby Lewis, who was the starting pitcher for my last excursion to a bar for a playoff game (writer's note, Texas is 2-0 when I watch postseason games from a bar).

    Lewis is now 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four postseason starts you know how James Shields has been referred to "Big Game James", you can apply the same moniker to Lewis. In the ALCS, he pitched Game Two (the day after the Yankees won Game One) and then closed it out after the Yankees took Game Five to send it back to Texas.

    With the Giants being 24 hours from a possible sweep, Lewis turned in another awesome performance. He put two on the first and six on the rest of the way and limited damage by allowing solo home runs to Cody Ross and Andres Torres. Before those home runs five batters apart, the Giants could barely touch the man, who 

    Pat Burrell couldn't touch him and neither could Juan Uribe despite the urging of the bar with the "Oooo-reebay! chants.

    If that Texas Ranger bar does in fact exist in New York City, then maybe chants of "Col-BEE! Col-BEE!"might be ringing out.

    If that bar does exist, they would be chanting Mitch Moreland's name. Moreland hit a three-run home run on the ninth pitch from Jonathan Sanchez in the bottom of the second, has continued to put together good at-bat after good at-bat and is hitting .341 in the postseason.

    At the Giants' bar on Halloween they will hope their team is one game closer to the first title since 1954. At the yet to be found Rangers' bar, the crowd will hope their team can guarantee a return trip to San Francisco and even get Lee to pitch like that other starting pitcher with the same initials.


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    A history of seven-run World Series innings

    Friday, October 29, 2010, 3:05 AM [General]

    In the unexpected nature of baseball, especially in the postseason, the Giants have begun the World Series with two wins featuring seven-run innings. It was the second time it ever happened in the same series and first time in consecutive games. It also marked a sixth and seventh instance the Giants were involved in a World Series inning of at least seven runs.

    For what it’s worth, the team that has produced the seven-run inning has won the series in 14 of the previous 17 instances and below is a synopsis of those innings in the Fall Classic, which sometimes feature errors, walks and other misplays.

    Seven-run innings in the World Series:

    1 – Game Six 1911 – Giants at Athletics – In Philadelphia’s eventual series-clinching 13-2 victory, the Athletics already had a 6-1 lead going into the seventh. In the first seven-run inning in the World Series, the A’s see seven straight reach against a reliever named Hooks Wiltse (5 singles, 1 error, 1 double). Philadelphia scored five runs off Wiltse and two more off Rube Marquard on a wild pitch that scored. Chief Bender finishes off the complete game and the A’s secure their second straight championship.

    2 – Game Three 1921 – Yankees at Giants – In one of two World Series to be played at the same ballpark (the other being 1922), the Giants avoid falling behind 3-0 in the series with an eight-run inning in a 13-5 victory. The Yankees took a 4-0 lead on a two-run single by Babe Ruth followed by a groundout by Wally Pipp. That occurred after Ruth was caught stealing second and that would be a big run as the Giants scored four in the bottom of the third. The game remained that way until the seventh when the first eight Giants reached base. Frankie Frisch opened the inning with a base hit and scored the go-ahead run on a double by Irish Meusel (Emil Meusel, the brother of Yankee outfielder Bob). Frisch eventually scored again on a three-run triple by Ross Youngs.  The series settles down as the Giants win in eight games by winning 4-2, 8-5, 2-1 and 1-0.

    3 – Game Four 1929 - Chicago Cubs at Philadelphia A’s – Roughly two weeks before the Great Depression starts, the Athletics move one step closer to their fourth championship with a 10-8 victory. Each run comes in the seventh when the A’s send 15 to the plate and get 10 hits. Al Simmons led off with a home run off Charlie Root (the same pitcher who gave up Babe Ruth’s called shot in 1932). After Root allowed five hits, Art Nehf (previously of Giants’ fame) gave up an inside-the-park home run to Mule Haas. Sherriff Blake is next and he allowed another run on a single by Jimmie Foxx. Next was Pat Malone and he gave up the final runs on a two-run double to Jimmy Dykes. The A’s clinch the series two days later by scoring three in the ninth off Malone, winning the title on Bing Miller’s single that followed an intentional walk to Foxx.
    4 – Game Seven 1934 – Cardinals at Tigers - The Cardinals decisively clinch their third title with an 11-0 rout by scoring seven in the third inning off Elden Auker, Schoolboy Rowe and Chief Hogsett. In the third, the Cardinals 13 to the plate and scored the first three on Frankie Frisch’s double to right that chased Auker. Four more runs follow, including a single by Dizzy Dean and a bases-loaded walk by Pepper Martin. Dean shuts the Tigers down and St. Louis has its’ championship in a brisk two hours, 19 minutes.

    5 – Game Two 1936 – Yankees at Giants – Avenging the big inning of 15 years earlier in the Polo Grounds, the Yankees even the series with an 18-4 blowout, getting a seven-run third inning. Joe DiMaggio scored his first World Series run in the inning while Tony Lazzeri hit a grand slam off Dick Coffman. The Yankees go up 9-1 and are halfway done scoring as they scored six in the ninth as DiMaggio drove in Frank Crosetti while Bill Dickey belted a three-run home run off Harry Gumbert.

    6 - Game Six 1936 – Yankees at Giants – The Yankees must have taken that 1921 game personally because they clinch the championship with seven runs in the ninth inning of a 13-5 victory. DiMaggio contributed to the inning with two singles while Jake Powell added a two-run single. Johnny Murphy (GM of the 1969 Mets) also contributes a single and scored on DiMaggio’s first hit. After scoring seven runs on five hits, Murphy nails down DiMaggio’s first championship.

    7 - Game One 1937 – Giants at Yankees – After two big innings in Harlem, the Yankees began their title defense with a seven-run sixth en route to an 8-1 victory. More impressively, the Yankees achieved it against Carl Hubbell, who gave up a two-run single to DiMaggio and RBI singles to George Selkirk and Lou Gehrig. The Yankees also score when Lazzeri reached on an error and when Red Rolfe draws a bases-loaded walk.

    8 – Game Two 1958 – Yankees at Braves – Milwaukee’s title defense began with a 4-3 victory and the good times continue with a 13-5 victory that featured a seven-run first inning off Bob Turley. Bill Bruton led off with a home run and Wes Covington knocked out Turley with a base hit. Duke Maas replaced Turley and gave up a three-run home run to Lew Burdette. Little did the Braves know that Turley would save the sixth game and then win the seventh against Burdette – the 1957 version of Cliff Lee.

    9 – Game 1 1959 – Dodgers at White Sox – It took the Brooklyn Dodgers until 1955 to win a title. It took the team just two years in Los Angeles to win again but it starts poorly with an 11-0 loss. The White Sox, who are playing in the series for the first time since 1919, scored seven in the bottom of the third. Ted Kluszewski knocked Roger Craig out by hitting a two-run home run and the inning continues due to a pair of errors by Duke Snider. The White Sox go up 9-0 on a double by Early Wynn and cruise to the victory. The Dodgers won the next three and clinched the series by six runs in the fourth inning of Game Six in Chicago.

    10 – Game Two 1960 – Yankees at Pirates – The first series of the 1960s produced three Yankee blowouts and four close Pittsburgh victories. The Yankees tied the series with a 16-3 victory and add to a 5-1 lead with a seven-run sixth, doing most of the damage off Clem Labine. Only two runs are earned because of a Dick Groat error that is followed by RBI singles from Gil McDougald, Yogi Berra, Moose Skowron, Yogi Berra and Bobby Richardson.

    11 – Game Six 1968 – Detroit at St. Louis – The Tigers headed back to St. Louis still one loss away from elimination. They sent it back to Busch Stadium with a 5-3 victory in Game Five and forced a seventh game with a 13-1 victory that featured a 10-run inning off Ray Washburn, Larry Jaster and Ron Willis. Al Kaline drove in three runs while Jim Northrup belted a grand slam off Jaster. Norm Cash also drove in two while Willie Horton added an RBI. A day later, the Tigers beat Bob Gibson for their first title since 1945.

    12 – Game One 1987 – Cardinals at Twins – In the World Series for the first time since 1966, the 85-win Twins begin with a seven-run fourth in a 10-1 victory. Kent Hrbek’s two-run single gave the Twins the lead and following a walk to Steve Lombardozzi, Bob Forsch replaced Joe Magrane. Two batters later, Dan Gladden hit a grand slam and the rout is on, especially since Frank Viola pitched eight outstanding innings. The Twins scored six the next night and win the series the following weekend following three losses in St. Louis that featured a six-run Cardinal inning in Game Four off Viola.

    13 – Game Three 1990 – Cincinnati at Oakland – A shutout and a 10th-inning single by Joe Oliver give the Reds a surprising 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Oakland. It becomes 3-0 when the Reds score seven in the third off Mike Moore and Scott Sanderson. As with most big innings, an error helps the Reds. Following Mark McGwire’s error on Paul O-Neill, the Reds score four runs as Chris Sabo hit a two-run home run. They added three more as Oliver, Mariano Duncan and Barry Larkin fall a home run shy of the cycle off Sanderson. After the 8-3 win, the Reds are champions for the first time since 1976 when they scored twice in the eighth off Dave Stewart.

    14 – Game Three 1997 – Florida at Cleveland – The Marlins took a 2-1 lead in this series with a seven-run ninth in a 14-11 win at Jacobs Field. Florida tied it at 7-7 in the eighth and capitalized on three errors by Tony Fernandez, Jim Thome and Marquis Grissom. Darren Daulton gives the Marlins the lead with a single while Gary Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla end it with two-run singles off Jose Mesa. Robb Nen gave up four runs and is moments away from putting the tying run but retired Omar Vizquel to end it.

    15 – Game One 1998 - Padres at Yankees – The Yankees faced a 5-2 deficit in the opener heading into the seventh but scored seven and began their sweep with a 9-6 victory. Bruce Bochy removed Kevin Brown with two on and brought in Donne Wall. Three pitches later, Wall gave up a three-run home run to Chuck Knoblauch. Mark Langston was next and right after not getting a close 2-2 pitch, Tino Martinez belted a grand slam to right field.

    16 – Game Six 2001 – Yankees at Diamondbacks – Three years after winning 125 games, the Yankees are one win away from a fourth straight title. It never happened because in Game Six, Arizona battered Andy Pettitte and three relievers for a 15-2 victory that featured an eight-run third. Pettitte already trailed 4-0 when the inning began with a walk to Greg Colbrunn and a double to Matt Williams. Jay Witasick finished the inning but not before allowing six singles and two doubles. The next night the Yankees lose in the ninth and aren’t champions until 2009.

    17 – Game One 2007 – Colorado at Boston – The Red Sox scored 30 runs in the final three games of the ALCS against the Indians and continue it against the Rockies. In a 13-1 victory at Fenway, the Red Sox scored seven in the fifth off Franklin Morales and Ryan Speier. They scored on RBI doubles by Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz and three straight bases-loaded walks to Julio Lugo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. In Game Three, the Red Sox used a six-run inning for a 10-5 victory and then win it the next night.

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    So about that Lee and Lincecum pitchers duel..

    Thursday, October 28, 2010, 2:22 AM [General]

    A funny thing happened on the way to the World Series projected to be between the Phillies and Yankees – the Giants and Rangers.

    A funny thing happened during the Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum matchup. It was the one that was supposed to be low scoring and a special pitching duel along the lines of watching Koufax-Gibson during the 1960s for example.

    Well it sort of was low scoring for four innings.

    The Rangers took a 2-0 lead through two, the Giants tied it in the third and then all heck broke loose in the bottom of the fifth in what turned out to be an 11-7 victory.

    It was a weird game, but nonetheless an enjoyable way to begin a World Series, though somewhere when that fifth was unfolding John Sterling might have been heard uttering you can’t predict baseball.

    We often joke around about that comment. The reality is that it is completely true and that is what makes baseball such a fun game to watch – regardless of who the World Series teams are.

    It is fun because a guy who is batting under .200 in the postseason happens to have the last two big Giant home runs. That would be Juan Uribe, an owner of a 2005 Chicago White Sox championship ring, who happened to hit a three-run home run just three nights after hitting an eighth-inning home run in Philadelphia.

    It is fun because if the Giants win, they will not only end a drought that spans back to 1954, but several of their players will get rings after years of losing with other teams.

    It is fun because the Rangers have bounced back from losing Game One before as Yankee fans know all too well. Hopefully they won’t do so decisively and this series will go back and forth and be a good six or seven-game matchup.

    For Yankee diehards, it might not have so fun.

    Watching Lee leave pitch after pitch up in the zone, perhaps you were wondering if this would have occurred in a seventh game or possibly you were wondering where this was in Game Three when Lee looked so unhittable.

    Last night, Lee was hittable and showed he was human and the Giants showed they can hit from time to time.

    Of course for the Giants, it would not be a win if not for that torture element, a phrase coined by Duane Kuiper. For those with the baseball package, the Giants possess one of the best tandems and earlier this year Kuiper coined the phrase: Giants baseball it’s torture.

    Kuiper used that phrase to describe the way the Giants won so many close games, otherwise known as nail-biters or cliff-hangers. This one had that element in the ninth when the Rangers scored three but Brian Wilson ended it against Ian Kinsler and Giant fans exhaled even if for most of the night they could comfortably relax.

    "The pitching has been here all year long, and it’s about time we showed up,” Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said. “Tonight, you saw one of those nights, it happens once every two or three weeks, where we’ll actually score more than five or six runs. I’m glad it happened to be in Game 1 of the World Series.”

    Going in it was all about Lincecum-Lee. Heading out it was about the unpredictability of baseball.

    Here is hoping there are six more nights of baseball between the Giants and Rangers, where in the postseason anything goes.

    Who knows what will happen tonight? For all we know, Matt Cain and C.J. Wilson will stage the Lee-Lincecum duel that was supposed to happen in the opener.

    Then again, they might not, but whatever happens, I will be watching. It’s the World Series after all.

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    Thanks for the fives - RIP Bill Shannon

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 2:15 AM [General]

    The World Series will begin tonight in San Francisco and at some point the official scorer will announce the first pitch of 4:57.

    At some point, the official scorer will announce a stolen base and then the pitching line of the starting pitchers.

    If Game One of the World Series was being played in New York you might hear the following when it came to reading the pitching line:

    The line on Sabathia ... seven innings, four hits, two runs, both earned, two walks, five strikeouts ..... and one .... home run."

    That was one of the distinctive things about Bill Shannon, the best official scorer in the business, who tragically died in a house fire yesterday morning.

    Another distinctive thing about Bill that is not getting mentioned is how he kept track of every pitch in a game whether he was the official scorer not the official scorer, espcially the way he tracked it when there were five pitches and the count was not full.

    Whenever that occurred, Bill would look down for a second and then his hand would go flying up in the air and he would turn to those scoring the game that way and we would all put our hands up to indicate the “five” had occurred. And if a lot of "fives" had occurred chances were we in for a lengthy game.

    That is one thing not getting a lot of attention because most people do not keep track of games that way. I do and though it started as a requirement, it is something I still do as a way to keep my head in the game.

    From 2005-2008 as the SportsTicker reporter, I had the pleasure of being part of the “fives”. Since SportsTicker was a statistical service in addition to a wire service, our seat was right near the official scorer’s seat and where those entering pitches for STATS Inc and sat.

    I don’t remember the exact moment I met Bill, though I’m sure I met him during times when I worked full-time for SportsTicker and occasionally covered games for some extra money from 2001-2003.

    I know during the years of 2005-2008, being part of the select few indicating a “five” had occurred was always an honor. It was so big of an honor and that is how he signed his handbook "Official Scoring in the Big Leagues," by saying thanks for all the "5s".

    The fives were so distinctive that depending on where you were sitting in the old stadium you might actually spot a “five” from the stands. One day I did spot it from the loge seats in right field.

    The five became so fun and personal for me that sometimes when we were at 2-2 on four pitches we'd ask each other if we were ready for a five. It even went high tech when we were not sitting next to each other in the form of an IM that would read the following:


    Regardless of how often you ventured into a press box it was an honor to share it with Bill Shannon and it was a bigger honor to share a “five” during an at-bat.

    I was only around him for six seasons but hearing the stories, sharing the fives, hearing "here comes the manager" and joking about how we reached the seventh inning in a brisk three hours and 15 minutes are among the memories of a man, who was one of the kindest people you could ever encounter.

    Probably the best way to sum it up comes from WFAN producer Chris Majikowski:

    "The line on Shannon ... 69 years, many friends, countless stories, one great man. 69 years, many friends, countless stories and one....great man."




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    Stopping by the Bronx on a quiet Monday

    Monday, October 25, 2010, 5:40 PM [General]

    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep."

    That is the last stanza to Robert Frost's poem, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening and the reason for the headline of the post. The miles to go before I sleep can be applied to the Yankees, who are in the initial planning phase for next year.

    On a normal Monday on E. 161 Street at noon, people are taking a break from being in the Bronx County Courthouse as judges, lawyers or jurors. They are usually found at one of the several lunchtime establishments, doing some shopping before returning to court or sitting outside on a surprisingly warm fall day.

    Walking down the hill and crossing River Avenue, the massive two-year-old Yankee Stadium emerges from the shadows of the elevated subway. On a typical day, from April through October, the stadium is abuzz with baseball activity - at least that is the intention of the Yankees every year in October.

    For the Yankees they go into every season intending to still have a season on the final Monday of October. Last year on the final Monday of October, they were 24 hours removed from clinching their first AL pennant since 2003 and a little over a week away from clinching their first World Series title since 2000.

    This year, they are one of 29 teams that will not end the season celebrating a title. While they were not one of 22 teams lamenting what wrong on October 4 – the day after the regular season, disappointment still rings in the air.

    The real Yankees were a 95-win team that scored 895 runs and played well until the final two months. The imposter Yankees were the team that pitched to a 6.58 ERA, batted .201 and decisively lost in six games to the Texas Rangers.

    It is the same way outside Citizens Bank Ballpark, where you can actually get to by train and spend two minutes outside. From Yankee Stadium, you can take the Subway to Penn Station, get New Jersey Transit to Trenton, change for Septa R7 to Market East and take the Broad Street Subway.

    It was a trip many thought would be repeating itself. Instead both organizations are left dazed, disappointed and in the opening stages of figuring out how to avoid this same fate again.

    As many are deciding what to eat for lunch at 12:05, Girardi enters the room. It is apparent that the disappointment still remains fresh but then he reveals something important – his reason for using Phil Hughes and not Andy Pettitte in Game Two of the ALCS.

    That decision was believed to be based on Hughes’ past numbers in Texas and the fact that starting Pettitte in a possible Game Seven would be preferred. It turns out that after throwing his final pitch in Game Two of the ALDS that Pettitte’s back and hamstring became an issue. His back locked up and then his hamstring tightened up in the area near the abductor about halfway through a bullpen session on October 9. Then he did not do any light bullpen work until October 13.

    It is the reality of dealing with some aging parts, who have meant a lot to the Yankees in the last 15 years. It is a reality Girardi will face in the upcoming years as soon he agrees to a new contract.

    After roughly 30 minutes of discussing various topics, it is Brian Cashman’s turn.

    He steps to the podium at 12:46 and before answering any questions makes the first announcement of the offseason.

    That is the announcement that the Yankees will have a new pitching coach after Cashman decided not to retain Dave Eiland. On the surface, changing pitching coaches seems like a logical move after a 6.58 ERA in the ALCS but Cashman insists that is not the case and that Eiland knows what he’s doing and should have no problem finding another job.

    After taking a few questions on Eiland, Cashman laments the one bad week in the postseason where the real Yankees looked like imposters against a Texas team that dominated in every facet.

    "It was a locomotive that we couldn’t withstand," Cashman said.

    And because of that, the field is home to little activity and the scene of groundskeepers preparing the field for the first football game at the new stadium.

    If they could have withstood Texas, the grounds crew might be putting the World Series logo near the dugouts and setting up batting cages for a workout before a flight to San Francisco or a train trip to Philadelphia.

    Eighty minutes later, Cashman’s daughter asks what he will be for Halloween.

    It is the sign that life goes on. For Cashman and the Yankees that means taking the preliminary steps towards 2011.




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    The Defense Rests - Yankee Season Ends with a Thud

    Saturday, October 23, 2010, 2:39 AM [General]

    The defense of the 27th championship began at 8:10 on a 67-degree night at Fenway Park on April 4. It ended at 10:08 Central Time on a 77-degree night at Rangers ballpark.

    As soundly as the Yankees stormed out of the gate in the regular season, the end was that much quieter. It ended with the Yankee bats getting three hits and Alex Rodriguez making the final out of Joe Girardi's third season by striking out on a called strike three by Neftali Feliz.

    Truthfully, the Yankees were fortunate to even get to this point. Throw out the eighth inning of Game One and they could have been outscored 30-6 and that would have been a bludgening on par with the 22-8 margin the Reds produced in sweeping the 1976 World Series.

    What it does show you is how tough it really is to repeat, especially in this era, which requires 11 wins to do so. The Yankees of 1998-2000 are the only team to do it and were one win away from a four-peat in 2001.

    By now, you've probably read elsewhere about the lack of pitching and hitting in this series, something that has been touched upon in this space. What I'm more interested in examing some of the performances by teams in the series that ended their title defense, assuming they made the playoffs at all.

    2001 - Yankees, lost in World Series, batted .183 and .167 (6-for-36) with runners in scoring position and pitched to a 4.26 ERA. Diamondbacks batted .264 and .345 (20-for-58) with runners in scoring position and pitched a 1.94 ERA.

    2002 – Diamondbacks, swept by St. Louis in the division series, outscored 20-6, batted .184, 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and pitched to a 5.54 ERA. Cardinals batted .314, .478 (11-for-23) with runners in scoring position and pitched to a 1.33 ERA

    2003 – Angels – finished regular season 77-85, batted .261, pitched to a 4.28 ERA

    2004 – Marlins – finished regular season 83-79, batted .264, pitched to a 4.10 ERA

    2005 – Red Sox – swept by White Sox in division series, batted .240, .167 (4-for-24 with runners in scoring position) and pitched to a 7.56 ERA. White Sox batted .289 and .417 (10-for-29) with runners in scoring position and pitched to a 3.00 ERA.

    2006 – White Sox – finished third in the AL Central at 90-72, batted .280 and pitched to a 4.61 ERA.

    2007 – Cardinals – finished 78-84 and third in the NL Central, batted .274, pitched to a 4.65 ERA.

    2008 – Red Sox – lost to the Rays in seven in the ALCS. Red Sox batted .234, .200 with runners in scoring position and pitched to a 5.94 ERA, Rays batted .252 and pitched to a 3.62 ERA.

    2009 – Phillies – lost to the Yankees in six in the World Series, batted .227, .250 with runners in scoring position and pitched to a 5.37 ERA. Yankees batted .247 and pitched to a 4.58 ERA.

    You see a common theme.

    Poor pitching and poor situational hitting, especially with runners in scoring position. That is what happened to the Yankees, who were a 95-win team with some age on it and then were outplayed in a span of seven days.

    As this is being typed, people are complaining about the Yankees and those are fans. Fans every right to complain when the payroll is high and tickets are high, but the reality is that winning those 11 games are extremely difficult. 

    The reality is that no matter who is on the team, you can't win every year. Just missing the playoffs once in this era is a major accomplishment.

    As for the future of the Yankees, I'd guess a majority of the same team will be back with some tweaks, especially in pitching. There's no doubt Cliff Lee will get pursued. Whether he wants to come here is another story, one that will unfold after Vladimir Guerrero's amazing career continues in his first World Series.

    Another story that I frequently tell people also illustrates the difficulty in finding that right mix to win those 11 games and it involves the Mets.

    In 2006, I covered the Mets postseason for SportsTicker. I didn't do much writing, just the team reports that used to appear under the notes and transactions page on Yahoo Sports. What I did more of was run quotes, usually for the losing team.

    One of those games was Game Seven of the NLCS against the Cardinals. Met fans know it as the game where Yadier Molina hit a two-run home run off Aaron Heilman in the top of the ninth and Carlos Beltran struck out looking on an Adam Wainwright curveball.

    How that game unfolded in that inning was absolutely stunning. The Mets had enjoyed a special regular-season of 97 wins and a core of David Wright and Jose Reyes. They had some promising younger pitchers in John Maine and Oliver Perez, who both pitched well in that NLCS.

    So when the Mets lost, I went in their clubhouse. I couldn't tell you what Wright said about the loss, but the one thing I kept thinking was "They lost tonight, but they'll be back a few more times in the near future".

    At the time I didn't think it was a unreasonable belief but then the next two collapses occurred and the Mets are still searching for their next trip to the cusp of the World Series.

    It goes to show how difficult it is to get close and actually win it. 

    It took the Yankees nine years to find it. It took the Rangers nearly half a century.

    It also took the Phillies 14 years to even get back into the playoffs and they seem to have some kind of mix, the kind that I thought the Mets had four years ago.

    That is why many teams devote the resources to fight to get it back again. The front offices of those teams besides the Yankees know how tough it is to consistently play into late-October.

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    Rare Feat by unbreakable Sabathia keeps season alive

    Thursday, October 21, 2010, 2:00 AM [General]

    The phrase “bend but don’t break” gets thrown around a lot by managers, pitchers, teammates and others.  There really is not a set definition or criteria for accomplishing that type of outing.

    As the Yankees faced the first of three elimination games, they turned to their ace CC Sabathia. Pitching on normal rest for the first time in postseason and second time in an elimination game, Sabathia did not dominate.

    He survived, did not break and his line of 11 hits and two runs showed that. It is such a rare feat in postseason that Sabathia is the sixth to allow at least that many hits and that few runs.

    So how exactly did Sabathia achieve this feat? For one thing, he did not walk anybody so he had just 11 guys on base from the hits. He also had two double plays, three inning ending strikeouts and the only out where a runner advanced was a run-scoring groundout in the sixth.

    In terms of pitches, Sabathia threw his four-seam fastball 59 times and averaged 95.4 miles per hour. Four days ago, that pitch was thrown 42 times and averaged 93.0 miles per hour.

    Four days ago, Sabathia threw 95 pitches in four innings. Yesterday, he threw 112 in six and some of the approaches changed, especially against Josh Hamilton.

    In Game One, Hamilton’s first at-bat was with nobody out and two on. Hamilton saw three pitches (curveball, fastball and curve). The second curve was a three-run home run to right field.

    In Game Five, Hamilton’s first at-bat was with two outs and nobody on after Michael Young hit into a 643 double play. Hamilton saw a first-pitch fastball and fouled it off before lining a sinker into right field for a single.

    In Game One, Hamilton’s second at-bat led off the third. Sabathia got ahead on two fastballs with the intention of setting up the slider. The slider was thrown out of the strike zone three times and Hamilton walked on a fastball in the dirt.

    In Game Five, Hamilton’s second at-bat was with Elvis Andrus on first and two outs. Andrus stole second during the latter stages of the at-bat. The at-bat began with a slider for a called strike. Three straight fastballs made the count 2-2. A curve made the count full and the fourth fastball was lined to short.

    In Game One, Hamilton’s third at-bat was after Young lined a two-run double to center field. The at-bat began with two fastballs for a 1-1 count. A curve and a fastball even the count at 2-2. A slider went outside for ball three and the same pitch was located for a called strike three.

    In Game Five, Hamilton’s third at-bat was with first and second and one out. Two sliders resulted in a swinging strike and a ball. The at-bat ended with a fastball being grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.

    The other pitchers that Sabathia joined are the following and until yesterday nobody had done this in an elimination game:

    Jim Bagby (CG, 13 hits, 1 run) – In Game Five of the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn; Bagby was somewhat similar to Sabathia. He did not walk anyone, gave up one extra-base hit and had two double plays as well as a triple play. And like Sabathia, he had an early lead as the Indians opened a 4-0 lead on a grand slam by Elmer Smith in the first.

    Lefty Grove (CG, 12 hits, 2 runs) – In Game One of the 1931 Series, Grove had an almost identical line to Sabathia. Against the Cardinals, Grove did not walk a hitter, struck out seven, had a double play turned and pitched eight shutout innings after the Cardinals scored twice in the first. The Cardinals also went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and did not have a runner advance on an out.

    Monte Weaver (10 1/3 IP, 11 hits, 2 runs) – In Game Four of the 1933 World Series for Washington, Weaver gave up 11 hits and two runs to 45 hitters. He also walked four and was the losing pitcher when he gave up a 10th-inning RBI single to Blondy Ryan. As for his teammates, they had eight hits and four walks off Carl Hubbell but left 11 on and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

    Don Drysdale (7 IP, 11 hits, 1 run) – In Game Three of the World Series for the Dodgers against the White Sox, Drysdale had 15 base runners in a game that ended with him leaving two batters into the eighth. Like the others, those runners rarely left the base paths. The White Sox left the bases loaded in the first stranded two apiece in the second and third, had Luis Aparicio caught stealing in the fourth and Nellie Fox in the fifth. Al Smith hit into an inning ending double play in the sixth and Jim Landis struck out with two on in the seventh. All of that negated a 6-for-11 showing by the White Sox with two outs.

    Bruce Hurst (CG, 11 hits, two runs – one earned) – In the second straight instance of an AL team overcoming three games to one in the ALCS, Hurst pitched Game Two for the Red Sox against the Angels. He also did not walk anyone and gave up one extra-base hit (a solo home run to Wally Joyner in the fifth that tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth). An example of not collapsing occurred after Joyner hit one out. Hurst retired the final two of the fifth and then in a one-run game in the sixth, Bobby Grich was thrown out trying to score. In the seventh, Hurst retired Joyner on a double play and then the Red Sox blew it open.

    There are several ways to survive allowing 11 hits and those who can figure it out and get help from their fielders and hitters will succeed. It just comes down to and those who can’t don’t survive or even last longer



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    Items of Interest - ALCS Game Five

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 1:33 PM [General]

    Today is October 20 and the first of three potential elimination dates for the Yankees, who are now without first baseman Mark Teixeira (strained hamstring).

    So that means Robinson Cano bats third. Cano is the only Yankee hitting really well and in limited action as a third-place hitter, he is 7-for-19 with a home run and eight RBI in five games.

    "The way Robby has been swinging, we just talked about getting him more at-bats and moving him up," manager Joe Girardi said.

    A year ago on this date, everything clicked for the Yankees, who pushed the Angels to the brink of elimination with a 10-1 victory. CC Sabathia allowed one run and five hits in eight innings and Alex Rodriguez drove in three and hit his third home run of the series.

    Sabathia takes the mound this afternoon and has not been up to par this year in October for reasons that are he believes are mostly mechanical.

    "There were so many things - not standing tall, flying open, because typically I can have a bad inning and then find out what I'm doing wrong and get my mechanics right and be able to correct it during the game," Sabathia said. "But I just didn't really have any clue. I was searching for anything and at that point I was trying to throw strikes and I kept battling and staying in the game as long as I could."

    As for Rodriguez, he has been awful, going 2-for-15 in this series and the hitting or lack of are among the reasons, the Yankees face elimination.

     In terms of elimination games, the Yankees won three of five games in 2009. The ones they lost were Game Five of the ALCS and the World Series, both started by A.J. Burnett and both featuring an aborted comeback.

    In the last decade since 2000 when the Yankees won their fourth championship in five years, some elimination games have not been kind to them.

    Here is their record in those games from 2001-2010:

     2010 – 1-0 (Game 3 vs. Minnesota)

    2009 – 3-2 (Won Game Three vs. Minnesota, Lost Game Five at Anaheim, Won Game Six vs. Anaheim, Lost Game Five at Philadelphia, Won Game vs. Philadelphia)

    2007 – 1-1 (Won Game Three vs. Cleveland, Lost Game Four)

    2006 – 0-1 (Lost Game Four at Detroit)

    2005 – 1-1 (Won Game Four vs. Anaheim, Lost Game Five at Anaheim)

    2004 – 1-4 (Won Game Four at Minnesota, Lost Games Four-Seven at and vs. Boston)

    2003 – 2-2 (Won Game Four at Minnesota, Lost Game Six vs. Boston, Won Game Seven vs. Boston, Lost Game Six vs. Florida)

    2002 – 0-1 (Lost Game Four at Anaheim)

    2001 – 4-2 (Won Games Three through Five at and vs. Oakland, Won Game Five vs. Seattle, Lost Games Six and Seven at Arizona)

    That adds up to 13-14. At home they are 9-5 and on the road they are 4-8.

    From 1996 through 2000, here’s what elimination games looked like

    2000 – 3-2 (Lost Game Four vs. Oakland, Won Game Five at Oakland, Lost Game Five at Seattle, Won Game Six vs. Seattle, Won Game Five at. New York)

    1999 – 3-0 (Won Game Three at Texas, Won Game Five at Boston, Won Game Four vs. Atlanta)

    1998 – 3-0 (Won Game Three at Texas, Won Game Six vs. Cleveland, Won Game Four at. San Diego)

    1997 – 0-2 (Lost Games Four and Five at Cleveland)

    1996 – 3-0 (Won Game Four at Texas, Won Game Five at Baltimore, Won Game Six vs. Atlanta)

    That adds up to 12-4.  At home they were 6-1 and on the road they were 6-3.

    In terms of overcoming a three games to one deficit, the Yankees are one for two in previous instances.

    They lost the fifth game of the 1942 World Series, losing 4-2 when a rookie third baseman named Whitey Kurowski hit a two-run home run off Red Ruffing in the ninth inning. That was Kurowski’s only World Series home runs in 23 games with the Cardinals between 1942 and 1946.

    Sixteen years later, the Yankees came back and beat the Milwaukee Braves in 1958.

    The comeback started with Bob Turley firing a five-hitter and striking out 10 hitters as the Yankees beat Lew Burdette - the 1957 version of Cliff Lee - when he won three games and posted a 0.67 ERA.

    Then the Yankees traveled to County Stadium for the final two elimination games and won each game by scoring late runs.

    In Game Six, Gil McDougald hit a go-ahead home run that led off the 10th against Warren Spahn. Turley recorded the final out by getting Frank Torre on a lineout with two on and the Yankees evened the series with a 4-3 victory.

    In the seventh game, Elston Howard had the go-ahead single off Burdette and Moose Skowron hit a three-run home run with two outs in the eighth of a 6-2 victory.


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    Yankees close to the edge but will they lose their season?

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 4:04 AM [General]

    Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to lose my head, - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

    That is one of the lyrics to one of the more famous songs of 1980s hip-hop. It is a song about more serious social problems that pale in comparison to professional sports.

    Since this is about the Yankees it is somewhat appropriate to the situation facing the Yankees at this afternoon.

    The Yankees are at the edge as they face a three games to one deficit after getting manhandled by the Rangers. Now the question is will they lose their head (in this case meaning the 2010 season).

    It does not look good, especially when Mark Teixeira is lost for the year with a strained right hamstring. It does not look good when an offense is 6-for-39 with runners in scoring position. It does not look good when the one missed fastball location by A.J. Burnett becomes a three-run home run by Bengie Molina.

    Does that mean it can't be done?

    Anything is possible.

    Teams have overcome that kind of deficit and today (October 20) is the sixth anniversary of the greatest comeback in baseball playoff history, the one pulled off by the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

    Statistically, since the American League Championship Series expanded to a best-of-seven in 1985, 17 teams have held this type of lead and 13 have successfully advanced to the World Series. The ones who did not were the 1985 Blue Jays, the 1986 Angels, the 2004 Yankees and the 2007 Indians.

    For the teams that pulled it off, winning those final three games required a big turnaround, especially at the plate:

    1985 Kansas City:

    Games One through Four:  27-for-129 (.209)

    Games Five through Seven: 24-for-99 (.242)

    1986 Boston

    Games One through Four:   33-for-141 (.234)

    Games Five through Seven: 37-for-113 (.327)

    2004 Boston

    Games One through Four: 30-for-117 (.256)

    Games Five through Seven: 30-for-114 (.263)

    2007 Boston

    Games One through Four: 37-for-137 (.270)

    Games Five through Seven: 40-for-105 (.380)

    2010 New York

    Games One through Four: 26-for-131 (.198)

    Games Five through Seven:??

    I haven't the slightest idea if the Yankees will become the fifth team to do so in the ALCS. I wouldn't know what to do with the bat against any major league pitcher. That is based on my bat speed during most recent time I stepped in the 80 mph batting cage at the Astoria Sports Complex.

    It did not look pretty, especially the managerial decision by Joe Girardi to have A.J. Burnett intentionally walk David Murphy with two outs in the sixth. It was a numbers-based move but it only gets second, third and 10th guessed if Burnett makes a better pitch to Bengie Molina instead of the fastball that was a three-run home run.

    "If I make that pitch to Molina then you don’t have to ask that question," Burnett said.

    It did not look pretty especially in the eighth when three different relievers were responsible for each of the runners in a bases-loaded, one out situation in a four-run game.

    It did not look pretty when Nick Swisher weakly flied out and it did not look pretty when Lance Berkman grounded out.

    Still at a four-run deficit, it seemed possible. Just get through Josh Hamilton, whose home runs are an impressive sight. Then when he hits another bomb, the word possible gets two letters placed before it and that's that.

    Now the question is it curtains for the Yankees in 2010?

    "We have to win a game," Derek Jeter said. "We can’t worry about winning three. Three doesn’t mean anything unless you win one."

    That is what the Yankees will attempt.

    They will attempt it with CC Sabathia, a man who they are entrusting to be their ace for at least five more years. They will attempt to get an offense going that despite some people post on facebook will miss Teixeira.

    If none of those things occur, then the season will be over. If they do and the Yankees do enough on the mound and at the plate to score more runs than the Rangers, a weekend business trip to Texas will be made.

    "This series is far from over," Brett Gardner said. "I believe we've got a very, very resilient team. We've got a good lineup. We've got a good pitching staff. We've still got a chance."

    The entire world of baseball viewers will soon find out if Gardner's words are correct.



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