Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yanks Continue To Roll, Guest Blog From The Heartland

This entry comes courtesy of Jason from Heartland Pinstripes. He was kind enough to cover the action for me yesterday since I play softball on Wednesday nights and I miss a chunk of the game. If you're not checking out his blog, you should be. I'll try to throw in a quick post of my own sometime later this morning discussing the parts I saw. If anyone is interested in guest-blogging on Wednesday's let me know, then just type something into an e-mail, send it to me, I cut and paste and voila.

The Yanks are heading into the bottom of the fourth after a 1 hour, 18 minute rain delay before the start of the game. The Yanks scored in the first when JD singled, Jeter walked, and Abreu's potential 4-6-3 DP ball was thrown away, allowing JD to score. They made it 3-0 in the second when Cano ripped a double to left on a pitch low and away--good hitting-- and Betemit's bloop ground-rule double to left scored him. JD brought in Betemit with a single, 3-0. A-Rod crushed a big homer to deep left center in the fourth. The Yanks have done a great job working over Peavy, making him throw 28 pitches in the first, 26 in the second, and 22 more in the third.

This was good in its own right, but all the more important because, after cruising through the first two and fanning four, Rasner had to throw 41 pitches in the third, coughing up two runs and leaving the bases loaded. Rasner is at 81 pitches through 4 IP.

A-Rod is now batting .330, and his homer was his 14th this year and 532nd in his career, four shy of the great Jimmy Foxx. Four of the six Yankees' hits are extra-base hits. When the Yanks made it 3-0 in the second, they had run up 27 unanswered runs on the opposition over the last four games. That ended promptly in the top of the third. For having the least errors in the majors, the Padres look like dog crap in the field the first two games of this series.

As a side note, the Yankees signed Sidney Ponson to a minor-league deal. Sidney Stinking Ponson? Please. What’s the point? Give me Aceves over this never-was any day. Ponson reminds me of David Wells–overweight, loves the sauce, hates to work out, cantankerous–except for the great curve ball, talent, rings, perfect game, and long-term successful career. Why should the Yanks return to their own vomit?

How great is A-Rod? He made a great snag and throw at third to end the fourth and let Rasner escape. He crushed a homer, he drove in 2 (40 on the year) with a 3-4 night, batting a ridiculous .337. But to me, look no further than his at-bat and play in the bottom of the fifth for the answer to why he's so great. With one out, A-Rod laced a hard single to left. He then stole second, and it was the way he stole second that's the key. At first, he moved slowly off the bag, exhaled deeply as if he were playing possum, took a small step than shuffle-stepped his way into a big lead as Corey got into his set, then stole second easily. After Giambi's pop up, Jorge drove him in, 5-2--great run manufacturing, all built around A-Rod's all-around play. He's the epitome of a five-tool player.

Rasner wasn't great, but gave them 5 decent innings, allowing two runs on three hits, but with an uncharacteristic five walks on 96 pitches/55 strikes. Edwar was cruising through his second inning with a nasty change, but coughed up back-to-back homers to Giles and Gonzales, 5-4 Yanks. But the Yanks earned two back right away in the bottom of the seventh, a sure sign the offense is back. Jeter doubled sharply, Abreu's single scored him, 6-4, he stole second, and A-Rod's RBI single erased the Padres' homers, 7-4--all with no outs.

After Nuke LaFarnsworth surrendered a lead-off homer to Headley, the first of his career, the Yanks again responded right away. Betemit slapped a double to left, his third hit of a very good game, he moved to third on Melky's ground out, and JD's RBI single--also his third hit of the game and his ninth three-hit game this year--made it 8-5. Mariano worked around a double, and Adrian Gonzales's looping liner to Jeter caught his brother too far off second, and Jeter's unassisted DP ended the game.

A-Rod is at .337, belting his 14th homer this year and his 532nd of his career. He's unconscious right now, and I believe (going from memory) is 22 for his last 47 (.468). JD and Betemit each had three hits, and JD is now at .332, and his 2 RBIs give him 33 on the year. Betemit is now up to .254. Jorge was 1-3 with his 18th RBI and is batting .326. Abreu added his team-leading 44th RBI and is up to .282. Jeter doubled and scored a run, and is at .272--needing to pick it up a bit, Captain. Melky and Cano each added a double, and Cano scored. Only Giambi didn't have a hit tonight.

As good signs, the Yanks pounded out 14 hits and only stranded six runners, three in scoring position. They have now won six straight, have won the series, have won eleven of their last fourteen, and go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon with Joba (1-2, 2.48 ERA) taking the hill against righty Josh Banks (2-0, 1.29 ERA). A season-high six games over .500 and climbing, the Yankees keep pace with Boston and Tampa Bay. They're only four back in the loss column to Boston with three games in hand on the Red Sox. Onward and upward, with the chance for seven straight.

You can just feel it--the Yankees are hitting their stride, with the offense carrying the torch now. They positively wore out last year's Cy Young award winner, making him throw 93 pitches in four innings--not too shabby. Keep it rolling, Yanks!