As if my allergies were not enough to depress me.
Javier Vasquez welcomes himself back into the Yankee ballclub by sucking. Tremendously.
I mean, that was a trainwreck of an outing. He couldn’t get anyone to make an out at a certain point, which was a shame because he had started off the game so well. Still, it was a very inconsistent and poor game for Javy, and if that’s what we’re going to see all season long this year, I doubt he’ll be a Bomber by July.
With that said, do I think he’ll be this terrible all year? No, I think he’ll have many outings that are considerably better than today. I don’t believe, however, that Vasquez is going to be the dominant starter he was in Atlanta. It’s obviously different, facing the Red Sox and Rays rather than the Nationals and Mets. That’s why I always got skeptical when people thought he’d have a terrific year for the Yankees. It just wasn’t going to happen.
By the by, Javier Vasquez happened to be solid in that one year he had with the Braves, but when he was with the White Sox before, he wasn’t nearly as dominant. I doubt that he got so much better from suddenly having great command and poise. Obviously the ballpark and competition he faced got worse.
What We Did Right
Ehh, not terribly much, to be honest. You had a few decent offensive performances; Derek Jeter had two base knocks and a run scored, Nick Johnson finally came through with his first two hits of the year and an RBI, and A-Rod had an RBI triple and a run scored. Pitching-wise, Sergio Mitre wasn’t horrible, going 2.1 innings and giving up one run in his first performance of the year for the Yanks.
That was it.
What We Did Wrong
Well, a lot of things.
Namely, Javier Vasquez’s 8 earned runs surrendered in 5.1 innings of work was pretty bad. You had some bad performances with the bat for New York, like Teixeira’s 0-for-4 outing, and Curtis Granderson was 0-for-4 as well. Plain and simple, we just couldn’t play effective baseball today, and so the Rays, who are a good team, took advantage.
The big man, CC Sabathia, will make his second start of the year against Wade Davis of the Rays. I wouldn’t treat this as an easy win as most Yankee fans are. First of all, Wade Davis is a young right hander with very good stuff. I’ve been following him since 07 and he really can blow away a competition with his arsenal of pitches. Second of all, the Yankees seem to struggle against pitchers that they haven’t hit against in the past. Third of all, it’s on FOX. The Yankees suck on FOX.
Other than that, there is good reason to be optimistic. Just hope Sabathia can put on a very strong performance this afternoon, that the offense can start to warm up, and that all generally goes pretty well.
Around the MLB
Jose Reyes is back with the Mets. As my mom would put it, “Por fin!” Finally! Jesus, he was getting injured every five seconds. I got the feeling he just didn’t even want to come back sometimes, and I wouldn’t blame him. These Mets are a trainwreck.
Hot hitters? How about Edgar Renteria, who has 11 hits in 15 at bats? He’s doing pretty well, wouldn’t you say? It’s strange to see the veteran Renteria, who is long removed from being an actual good big league player, start hitting again for the Giants.
You’ve got Jason Heyward, who hits a three-run, go-ahead, 451 foot big fly in his first ever MLB plate appearance. He could have just retired there and made the Hall of Fame, but I get the feeling the Braves and Heyward both would like to keep that success going for a long period of time. By the way, Heyward is hitting .176 on the season including that homer. He’s struck out 8 times. What a bum, huh?
Beats my NL Rookie of the Year prediction, anyway. Madison Bumgarner is in the minor leagues. I don’t know why I make the picks that I do.
Around the World
We have an international tragedy of giant proportions, as the president of Poland, his wife and several officials have died in a plane crash in Russia. I’d add more, but I’m not sure there’s a need for me to do that at this point.
Tiger Woods is back. Am I the only person on the face of the Earth who doesn’t give a damn? I’ve never liked golf.
What You Need to Look At
I typically detest sensations like this, because they go on for a little while, annoy the hell out of everyone, and then die down eventually. But this is kind of cool.
This Taiwanese boy has a voice like Whitney Houston. And I mean that.
Make sure that you read it by the end of this weekend because I’ll be sick of it by Monday.
The Song of the Day
I love this song and have loved it ever since I saw it in a commercial. The lyrics are great, the melody is great and the music is great. It’s just an overall terrific song and it’s my favorite right now. I’ll leave it at the bottom under the signature.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
For the three awards…
Now, allow me to explain, because I’ve made some interesting choices here.
AL MVP – Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod is baaaaack… after recovering from an injury, answering most criticisms from New York fans with a stellar postseason, winning a World Series and having another 30 home run/100 RBI season in ’09, all signs lead to Alex Rodriguez coming back and hammering the baseball, perhaps not as well as he did in ’07, but certainly quite close.
NL MVP – Albert Pujols – I really don’t need to explain this choice. Last year, I picked David Wright of the Mets to win the NL MVP, and was promptly slapped in the face by Albert Pujols. He’s had back-to-back MVP’s and I don’t think there’s heavy enough competition to stop him from another one. I don’t know why I’d ever doubt the man. He’s from Santo Domingo.
AL Cy Young – Jake Peavy – Now here’s gonna be my bold prediction. Jake Peavy has a much better lineup than he had in San Diego here with the ChiSox, he’s coming back from injuries, and he’s facing a league that pretty much hasn’t seen him very often. There won’t be many things expected of the former NL Cy Young winner, and I’d expect him to be eager to thrust himself back on the scene as an ace pitcher. Peavy is still 28 years old, in the prime of his career, with sharp stuff. And by the way, if you’re doubting Jake Peavy can hurl the ball as well in the American League in a hitter’s park in U.S. Cellular, consider the 3-0 record, 1.35 ERA(344 ERA+) and .850 WHIP that Peavster had towards the end of ’09 in his brief return with the White Sox. Now consider that he’s pitching in the American League Central, facing such devastatingly tough lineups like the Minnesota Twins’ and Kansas City Royals’ and GOLLY GEE WILLIKERS them Indians are tough, huh? No, not really. He’s back, folks.
NL Cy Young – Roy Halladay – Doc, Doc. Easily one of the best pitchers in the game, quite arguably the best due to his consistency, stuff, mentality and command. This guy is a beast, and he’s going to have a beastly year in a league that really hasn’t seen too much of him. This was a very tough decision for me, because Tim Lincecum’s won the past two National League Cy Young awards, but it’s just so hard for me to speak of a threepeat for anyone but Pujols. I think Halladay is going to dominate, rack up 20 wins, and that’ll be just too much for any voter to deny. Maybe Lincecum will be deserving, but I think Halladay comes away with it.
AL Rookie of the Year – Neftali Feliz – Feliz will make the Rangers very, very Feliz.
I’m sorry, I had to.
But honestly, how can you deny a guy like Feliz who came up to Texas and promptly struck out batter after batter with high octane stuff? He’s a rookie this year with some seasoning from last year and is going to give American League batters more fits and nightmares than any Final Destination movie could.
NL Rookie of the Year – Madison Bumgarner – San Fran’s number 5 rotation spot is his to lose, literally, and with stuff, command and poise like his he’ll easily be able to do well against weak NL West lineups. Bumgarner is a solid pitcher, and while he’s not going to instantly make the impact he’s capable of in my opinion, he’ll certainly be sharp in his rookie campaign and come away with the big trophy.
I just can’t wait to be wrong.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid from New York
In this 2009 American League Division Series, we saw two teams go head to head in the playoffs. They were both such contrasting teams– the Minnesota Twins, one of the more small-market franchises in the game today– facing the New York Yankees, who are quite possibly the most successful franchise in the history of American sports. The Minnesota Twins play a smallball, hit-and-run, sacrifice bunt and speed game– the New York Yankees play an all around power game to go with good defense. Some sports journalists called it the biggest mismatch in years, as the Yanks were favored almost nationwide.
The Yankees took the field with a solid combination of abundant talent, great chemistry, and a good amount of experience. The Twins took the field with youth, decent talent, momentum from a great month of September, and a whole lot of heart. The Yankees swept the regular season series 7-0 and took on Minnesota hoping to reach the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2004, where the Boston Red Sox came back from a 3-0 deficit and won 4 straight to break the hearts of the Bombers.
Here is a recap of the Twins-Yankees clash.
Game 1: I Don’t Fear Twinkies, I Eat Them
There was a buzz in the crowd on a Bronx night as for the first time, we got the oppurtunity to see how postseason baseball would look in the new Yankee Stadium. It turned out to not be a disappointing night for the fans cheering on the Yanks.
The matchup favored the Yankees quite overwhelmingly; the highest paid pitcher in the history of the MLB, 19 game winner and ace of the Yankees, CC Sabathia took the hill. Facing him would be a mere rookie southpaw for the Twins, Brian Duensing, who had some pretty good success down the stretch for Minnesota as they made their playoff push.
After two shutout innings on both sides of the ball, the Twins surprised the Yankees with a 2 run 3rd inning highlighted by a passed ball by catcher Jorge Posada. For a brief moment, Yankees fans across the world held their breath, as they were reminded of 2007 when Cleveland took an early lead in the ALDS and never looked back.
This was not to happen tonight.
In the bottom of that same 3rd inning, the captain and shortstop Derek Jeter, who had a stellar year as the leadoff hitter for the Yanks, launched a home run into the left field stands. From then on, the Twins never stood a chance.
Nick Swisher hit a run-scoring double to give the Yankees a lead in the next inning, and the Bombers continued to pile on, as they won by the final score of 7-2.
The real highlight of this ballgame, however, was Alex Rodriguez. Constantly criticized for his lack of offensive contributions during the playoffs, A-Rod drove in two runs and had two base hits. This set the tempo for the rest of the series.
Game 2: He Got Him, John, He Got Him
Following a day of rest, the Yankees and the Twins took the field for ALDS Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. You could, for some reason, feel that it was going to be an eventful baseball game. However, nobody could have predicted just how thrilling it would turn out to be.
Minnesota’s sinkerballing Nick Blackburn took the hill against hard throwing right hander A.J. Burnett. For the first 5 innings, both starters engaged in an awesome pitcher’s duel, as neither team was able to get on the board. In one inning, the Twins nearly scored on an RBI single; however, Carlos Gomez slipped rounding 2nd, and was tagged out retreating to 2nd base before Delmon Young could score. It remained scoreless. The Twins scored in the top of the 6th, but the Yankees tied it up in the bottom half of that 6th inning.
After a scoreless 7th, Minnesota shocked lights out setup reliever Phil Hughes, scoring two runs off him (the latter coming off a single on the great Mariano Rivera). That gave them a 3-1 lead over the Yankees, and it seemed like the little team from Minneapolis, Minnesota would pull off a shocking late inning upset. That would be disastrous for the Yankees. It would tie up the series, as opposed to the large advantage of being up 2-0. It would send the Twins back to Minnesota, where they play so much better, with a highly motivating victory. In short, it would be an enormous momentum change for the Twins.
But that wasn’t how the Yankees rolled.
After a shutout inning by Rivera in the top of the 9th, the Bombers headed into the bottom of the 9th inning needing to score two runs to tie the game. Their problem? They had to face the tremendous closer of the Twins, Joe Nathan. However, the Yankees had the most comebacks in the league in ’09, and with their 3, 4 and 5 hitters due up against him, there was certainly a good amount of confidence in that Yankees dugout.
The MVP candidate, switch hitting slugger and first baseman Mark Teixeira stepped up to lead off. He delivered with a hard hit single to right field, and up came A-Rod.
Alex Rodriguez wasn’t supposed to be clutch.
Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be this headcase who couldn’t deliver in the playoffs.
Alex Rodriguez wasn’t supposed to deliver hits when the New York Yankees needed him to.
He certainly did on October 9th of 2009.
After taking 3 straight pitches out of the strike zone, Joe Nathan tossed a sinker down and in to Alex Rodriguez that possibly was out of the strike zone, but there was no argument from Rodriguez.
Joe Nathan’s 3-1 pitch was in a location everybody knows you can’t throw it in with Alex Rodriguez at the plate. A-Rod showed Nathan why.
With one elegant, swift swing of A-Rod’s shining black bat, that baseball was launched about as far as you’ll see. It soared in the night sky and landed into the Yankees’ bullpen.
“He got him, John, he got him!” shouted a grieving Dan Gladden, analyst for the Twins radio.
A-Rod knew it. He turned to the dugout and gave a little fist pump as he flipped his bat. All of a sudden, this game was no longer a dramatic upset. All of a sudden, this game was tied by the score of 3-3.
Yet, even though the game seemed so destined to end in a Yankees victory, the Twins were not going to let go. They got out of that inning, and in the bottom of the 10th inning, Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with 1 out and runners on the corners. With the count full at 3-2, Damon lined out to shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who alertly fired to third base, where rookie Brett Gardner was leaning much too far off and was doubled off. It was a traumatizing play for the Yankees, and an inspiring play for the Twins. In the top of the 11th inning, with Damaso Marte, the hard throwing Dominican left hander on the mound, Joe Mauer lined a ball into the left field corner that the umpire called foul.
But was it foul?
Clearly, as all the camera angles TBS provided show, it was a fair ball and a double for the AL batting champion Joe Mauer. It seemed miniscule after Mauer lined a ball into center field for a single; but it would turn out to be a gigantic break for the Yankees. The next runner reached base. Marte was out. Mauer had held up at third on a single off of new Yankees reliever, the strikeout specialist David Robertson. With the bases full of Twins and no outs, it would be a perfect situation for Robertson to get a strikeout. He didn’t get a strikeout; regardless, Robertson’s performance will make him forever appreciated by the Yankees fans.
Delmon Young lined a curveball to Mark Teixeira’s glove at first base. One out.
Carlos Gomez hit a fairly soft ground ball to Teixeira, who fired to Francisco Cervelli at home plate. Two outs.
Brendan Harris swung at a 92-mph fastball and flew out to Gardner in center field. Three outs.
They didn’t score a run with the bases loaded.
You can’t do that. Not against the Yankees.
Mark Teixeira, now swinging the bat right handed, crushed a line drive into the left field corner on a 2-1 count. It had a chance to go out. Would it? Would it?
It hit off the seats in the first row and caromed deeper into the stands. A wall clearing home run ended the extra inning affair, giving the Yanks a 4-3 win over the Twins and a 2-0 series advantage.
You’re on the Mark, Teixeira.
Game 3: Jumped
Needing only one game to make it to the American League Championship Series for the first time since ’04, the New York Yankees put on their road uniforms and took on the Twins at the Metrodome. It was the Metrodome’s last year hosting Major League Baseball games, and the Minnesota Twins did not want it’s history and nostalgia to end in an ALDS loss to the big, fancy Yankees. Win one for the Dome, that’s all that Twins fans were asking. Minnesota would send Carl Pavano to the mound.
Carl Pavano was signed to a big money deal by the Yankees a few years back, but he was plagued by so many injuries that he could never pitch all that much. He had less starts in 3 seasons in Pinstripes than a decent starter has in a year. Moreover, none of those games he pitched really got the job done. It was one big waste of money by the Bombers organization, and thus, a great amount of Yankees fans hate him with a passion not matched even when we saw George W. Bush get a couple zapatos in his direction.
Thus, he took the mound against the Yankees in Game 3 with a lot to prove. And he did his job and then some.
He didn’t allow any runs in the first six innings of the ballgame, putting together sharp movement, great command and a couple of questionable calls by the home plate umpire. However, Andy Pettitte was not to be shown up. He hurled 5 shutout innings until the 6th, when the aforementioned AL batting champion(for the 3rd time, nonetheless) Joe Mauer did what batting champions do, which is hit. He wrapped a single to the opposite field that plated speedy Denard Span. It was 1-0 Twins! Finally, the Minnesota Twins came up with run support off Andy Pettitte to support Carl Pavano’s stellar outing.
Now all he had to do was hold that lead. But of course he was going to hold that lead. He had been pitching so perfectly, so masterfully against this terrifyingly good Yankees lineup. All the stars had alligned for Pavano tonight.
You can see where this is going, right?
Of course, the ever-so-powerful Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate with one out. He had just hit a long, dramatic, game-tying big fly last game! And he did it again. With a 3-2 count against Pavano, he took a tailing fastball away on the ride of it’s lifetime, sending it way up over the baggie to tie it at 1.
The Yanks were not done yet, as you can imagine. Later in that inning, veteran catcher Jorge Posada– often criticized(by me) for his lacking defense– bombs one into left. It’s baffling. They hadn’t scored all night, they looked flat. And then they decide, in the 7th inning, after the Twins score a dramatic run, they just say “*yawn* mmkay, home run. Another home run. When is this game gonna end? I’m hungry.”
In the 8th inning, the Yankees had a 2-1 edge over the Twins, but it was certainly surmountable for a never-say-die Twins team. After all, they still had talent, they could still execute what they needed to execute, and they had the tremendous lift of being at home, where they play so much better. And they started to rally in that 8th inning. But on a chopper up the middle hit by Denard Span that turned out to be an infield single, something strange happened to the Twins that sucked the life out of them. Nick Punto thought that the ball had gotten into center field and was surging home to try and score. But Jeter had fielded the ball. Nick Punto didn’t see that, nor did he pick up his third base coach pleading him to stay put at third base. Jeter fired home. Punto, halfway to home plate, was hung up and scurried back to third. Posada gunned the ball to A-Rod at third base, who applied the tag, and Punto was dead meat.
The play that ended the Metrodome. Not technically, but momentum wise. The rally was their last chance at a late inning upset and comeback over the Yankees. But with one clumsy baserunning mistake, that rally was over. They would now have to deal with Rivera in the ninth.
The Yanks would tack on some insurance, and then, in the bottom of the 9th, Mo Rivera would close out another game, sending the New York Yankees to the postseason for the first time since 2004 against the Red Sox.
This series might have been boring, pointless and disappointing for baseball fans who enjoy seeing the little guy pull through and win. For guys who like the David beats Goliath philosophy, this might have been saddening. I understand why you would like that kind of thing; God bless and go forward.
But if you’re a Yankee fan, that was sweeter than apple pie.
See you in the ALCS.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
And if you think otherwise, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
The Song of the Day is Count on Me by Default. I’d really appreciate if you guys can leave just a small comment on the song of the day on my blogs, cause I feel kinda like I’m wasting my time putting these songs up when nobody cares, you know? Haha…
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
Only rivaled by no hitters and perfect games.
I mean, come on now. It’s hard for games to get any more tense, any more epic, any more meaningful, any more crazy for God’s sake. It was just one of the more unbelievable games of the year, it has to be. An unbelievable pitching duel, great defense, near endings, and then A-Rod comes up, without a homer in a long time, and what does he do?
Well, all he does is send Junichi Tazawa’s breaking ball into the left center field stands, ending the game in the 15th inning of play. That’s just a hell of a thing. You don’t see great games like that every day.
And the importance of that game cannot be doubted, either. This was perhaps the Red Sox’s most important game of the year, as coming in they were 3.5 games out of first place and they had the Texas Rangers on their back, on their trail. They desperately needed this win, and they didn’t get it. Now they have put themselves in a really difficult situation, 4.5 games out of first place in the AL East and only 1 game separates them from the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card.
Don’t you just love it that the Red Sox are in a difficult situation? Gooo Rangers!
The Song of the Day is A Tribe Called Quest’s 1989 hip hop hit Can I Kick It? It’s mad funky.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ the Kid From New York
The Yankees are in first place thanks to great defense and good pitching by Sergio Mitre, combined with timely hitting. We’re executing everything as well as we need to. We’re SO GOOD!
Oh yeah, and the Red Sox have also apparently engaged in an encounter with THE ENDCAT.
See that Julia? Worked it into a post about the Yankees. Rico suave…
In all seriousness, Sergio(one of the coolest Hispanic names btw, cause then you can call him SERGE) had his sanker last night, and Mitre wasn’t playing around with that thing either. That was a SANKER. It had magnificent action on it at times with good velocity and the location was good.
As I’m writing this, Derek Jeter has just whacked a double into left center. DJ’s really surprised me this year; hitting for a great average, stealing some bases, even knocking the ball out of the park. Any time you can get that outta Captain Crunch, you’ve gotta appreciate.
Hey look at that, A-Rod with an RBI knock. 1-0 already! Jeez’m.
Anyways, back to the matter at hand, which is…
…the power sinker of Sergio Mitre. While his final linescore of 5.2 innings pitched, 3 earned runs, 8 hits doesn’t seem all that impressive, keep in mind that Brian Roberts got 3 of those hits and that two of them came in the last innning he pitched.
4-0 Yankees! Two run single for Swisher! This is amazing!
Sergio Mitre could definitely be an effective, strong 5th starter for the Yankees judging on that stuff and command. He has a tough, 92-93 mph sinker that just takes a nosedive sometimes, a slow slurvey slider that can fool hitters at times, and a decent changeup, and he locates those three options pretty well. I’d like it if he can continue what he did in his first start throughout his tenure with us. It’s all that we really need from him.
Hopefully this is no Matt DeSalvo flash in the pan here.
And as for the Red Sox?
Well, they’ve just made a trade for Adam LaRoche with the Pirates, so that’s really got to suck for Andy LaRoche, his brother. This acquisition of LaRoche has got to mean something’s up with Mike Lowell or maybe even Big Papi. So something’s up there. Another reason they’re struggling is because of two acquisitions in which I remember I was never high on in the first place: Brad Penny and John Smoltz. I remember there was a lot of fuss over both signings. People were saying it was a good acquisition, getting Penny because he’s a former all star, he could give them something etc. I was all “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Willis?” on that, and I knew that Brad Penny was going to have a bad year. You can see that in my comparison of the Yanks’ and Red Sox’ rotation.
And the second acquisition was John Smoltz. People were thinking he’d be a great veteran presence who’d still be able to dominate at times. They thought he’d return to his injury and go back to his dominant ’07 form, and that he’d be a great presence in the postseason. That’s the one thing they brought up the most, the postseason. Well ladies and gentlemen, he was injured and he’s also 42 years old(and by the way looks every bit of it).
So now the Red Sox are frustrated, as you can probably tell from the above image of John Smoltz. They’ve scuffled all the way to 2nd place, and now they’ve got to watch out for them Rangers and Rays. Tampa Bay is 4 days away from making my pre season predictions for the playoffs even more ballsy and fairly correct(I’m still recovering from the Indians and Mets prediction though).
The Song of the Day is Workin’ by Good Charlotte and Young Dre…
Stay positive, Yankee fans! 4-0 Bombers and we’re in first!
-EJ the Kid From New York
As Bob Dylan so eloquently put it in Like A Rolling Stone:
“How does it feel?”
It was a terrific game, wasn’t it?
Cano came through with the bases fulla Yankees and broke out of his RISP slump, CC Sabathia dominated the Twins, and everything else was perfect, too. I have no regrets about this 10-2 ballgame.
Tonight’s ballgame looks like it’ll be equally fun, considering we’re facing Glen Perkins, a soft tossing lefty who has always struggled against the Bombers, and we’ve got the red hot AJ Burnett on the mound. In his last outing, he won against the Blue Jays, going 7 innings and K’ing 7 while only giving up two runs.
In the previous outing, he destroyed the Mets, allowing only 1 hit on no runs and striking out 10 hitters in seven innings of work. Needless to say, he got the victory in that ballgame, too.
So look for a win in that game, and hopefully Boston will be able to lose a game. That way, we will be in a tie for first place with the Sox, which would be pure awesomeness in a bucket.
By the way, before I go, allow me to discuss the decision by the Yankees to make Alfredo Aceves the starting pitcher who will replace Chien-Ming Wang while he’s trying to recover from his most recent disabled list stint.
There are two sides to this decision. First off, you could be against it because Alfredo Aceves has been so unbelievably great out of the ‘pen, and you don’t want to take a good, effective arm out of the bullpen, and I think I’m on that side. You know, we have such good chemistry and effectiveness in that bullpen that it’s a little dangerous to mess with it. Plus, we have starting pitchers in the minor leagues: Sergio Mitre, George Kontos(although he’s on the 7 day DL), Ivan Nova… On the other hand, people in favor of this say that Aceves was great in his starts last year and that this way, we could bring Albaladejo back into the bullpen and have Aceves, who was a longman in the pen anyway, start games. I hear that. I’m not saying this isn’t going to work, and I’m not saying that I mind the Yankees making this move, I just would prefer the former argument.
Song of the Day is Away by Breaking Benjamin.
That’s it for today.
Stay positive, Yankee fans.
-EJ, the Kid From New York