Archive for May 7th, 2010

Round two of the rivalry began as a pitcher’s duel between fire balling right handers, but ended when Josh Beckett lost his composure and imploded on the mound.

Robinson Cano is hit in the knee by a Josh Beckett fastball. Cano was forced to leave the game and is listed as day-to-day (Photo: AP).

Robinson Cano is hit in the knee by a Josh Beckett fastball. Cano, who was forced to leave the game, is listed as day-to-day (Photo: AP)

Over the first three innings, Beckett and Phil Hughes were nearly flawless. Beckett was particularly dominant, using a mid-90s fastball and breaking curve to record six strikeouts out of the first nine outs, while Hughes relied mostly on his fastball to get through the first three innings with only one walk.

The Yankees finally broke through in the 4th inning. With runners Mark Teixeira on second and Alex Rodriquez on first, Nick Swisher battled Beckett deep into the count before depositing a curve over the centerfield wall. The three run blast seemed to scare Beckett off his curveball. Although he did throw one curve to the next two batters, he only threw two more over the remainder of his outing.

Swisher’s homer not only changed Beckett’s pitch selection, but also seemed to send him off the deep end. After retiring the side in the fifth, Beckett began the 6th by giving up a double to Alex Rodriguez. Then, with first base open, he threw a pitch that hit Robinson Cano square on the left knee. The first pitch in the at bat also came inside to Cano, and in previous at bats Beckett appeared frustrated by Robbie’s constant stepping out between pitches, so you can draw your own conclusion as to intent. Earlier in the game, Beckett also flipped Francisco Cervelli for exactly the same perceived transgression, so the beaning of Cano seemed to be willful.

Even as Cano limped to first base in obvious pain, Beckett seemed disturbed by the delay. Cano would eventually leave the game on the next pitch. Beckett carried over his bravado into the next at bat against Swisher, at one point screaming at the Yankee right fielder for exaggeratedly jumping out of the way of an inside pitch. Beckett eventually struck Swisher out before intentionally walking Gardner. After that point, Beckett imploded. He walked Cervelli, gave up a hit to Winn, hit Jeter square in the back and then finished his pitiful evening by giving up run scoring hits to Marcus Thames and Mark Teixeira. While Beckett unraveled and continued to buzz hitters with wayward fastballs, the Yankee dugout grew tense. Jorge Posada looked ready to burst out of the dugout, while C.C. Sabathia yelled angrily at Beckett, so much so that Joe Girardi had to calm him down. (more…)

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For much of the past week, the main story concerning tonight’s series opener against Boston was about who wasn’t pitching for the Yankees. Now, it’s time to focus on who is. Phil Hughes has been entrusted with kicking off the latest round in the rivalry. Of course, this time around, the Yankees and Red Sox aren’t playing for first place. That spot is occupied by the Rays. Still, as always, this series takes on special meaning above and beyond three games in May.

At 19-8, the Yankees enter the series with the upper hand, while the Red Sox look to jump back into the race by building on their four-game sweep of the hapless Angels. Over the past couple years, Boston has seemed to hold the dominant position in the series, particularly in the early part of the season, but the Yankees 27th championship has restored much of the natural order. It is definitely too early to suggest that Boston needs to win this series, but at least taking 2 of 3 could go along way toward making the AL East a three team race. On the other hand, if the Yankees come out ahead, both they and the Rays could really start to build some distance.

While the Yankees look to Hughes to continue his early season dominance, the Red Sox hope that Josh Beckett can build on his last start and turn around an early season down spell. Part of Beckett’s struggles has resulted from his inability to throw his curveball for strikes. Beckett has basically replaced his curveball by throwing more cutters and change ups, but those pitches are thrown at speeds not far off the fastball. Look for Beckett to try and establish his curve early in the game. If he is unsuccessful, it could be a good night for the Yankee batters.

The Yankee lineup will be a little short this evening as Jorge Posada takes another day off to rest his ailing calf. Randy Winn will also once again play LF against the right handed Beckett. For the Red Sox, Big Papi gets what for him has become an increasingly rare start, while Varitek handles the catching duties. Varitek has seemed to settle into the role of Beckett’s personal catcher, so that’s something to look at closely as the season progresses.

vs. Josh Beckett PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 57 0.315 0.339 0.444 2 5
Nick Johnson DH 16 0.273 0.500 0.455 0 2
Mark Teixeira 1B 28 0.130 0.286 0.130 0 1
Alex Rodriguez 3B 51 0.261 0.333 0.457 2 10
Robinson Cano 2B 51 0.362 0.412 0.681 3 10
Nick Swisher RF 27 0.273 0.407 0.409 1 2
Brett Gardner CF 12 0.167 0.167 0.167 0 1
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Randy Winn LF 8 0.250 0.250 0.625 1 2
Total 250 0.278 0.352 0.453 9 33
vs. Phil Hughes PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Marco Scutaro SS 9 0.250 0.333 0.250 0 0
Dustin Pedroia 2B 9 0.000 0.111 0.000 0 0
J.D. Drew RF 7 0.667 0.857 1.333 0 0
Kevin Youkilis 1B 8 0.286 0.250 0.714 1 4
David Ortiz DH 4 1.000 1.000 2.000 0 1
Adrian Beltre 3B 4 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jeremy Hermida LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jason Varitek C 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Darnell McDonald CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 44 0.225 0.271 0.373 1 5
Yankees vs. Red Sox
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 2-1 TIED: 9-9 TIED: 9-9 NYY: 1119-934
  • Alex Rodriguez next home run will tie Frank Robinson for seventh on the all-time list.
  • Tonight’s game will be Derek Jeter’s 2,165th game in a Yankee uniform, passing Lou Gehrig for second place on the all-time franchise list.
  • Before the game, Romulo Sanchez was promoted from Triple-A Scranton. Outfielder Greg Golson was sent back down to make room for him on the active roster.

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In an interview with Mike Francessa of WFAN radio in New York, Joe Girardi officially announced that Andy Pettitte will have his next start skipped, but currently there are no plans for him to make a trip to the DL. Girardi also stated that Sergio Mitre will pitch on Monday, while Javier Vazquez will be pushed back one more day to Tuesday.

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Amid speculation that a catcher (Chad Moeller) might soon be promoted to the active roster, the Yankees have once again opted to call up a relief pitcher from the minor leagues.  According to the LoHud Yankees Blog, Romulo Sanchez is in the Yankees clubhouse awaiting activation. Sanchez, a hard throwing righty, was starting down in Scranton. In five starts, which included one stinker against Syracuse, Sanchez had an ERA of 6.48 with 22 strikeouts and 14 walks in 25 innings. In other words, he doesn’t really seem ready for the big leagues. About the only thing that recommends him for the promotion is he last started on May 1, meaning today would be his normal start.

Basically, it appears as if Sanchez will serve as an insurance policy should Phil Hughes be knocked out early. Because Greg Golson was demoted to make room for Sanchez, it also seems to suggest that Posada and/or Pettitte may not wind up on the DL after all. It does, however, seem to imply that Pettitte will in fact miss his next start. Otherwise, both Mitre and Aceves could have been counted on to cover for an early Hughes exit.

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Responding to a post on Craig Calcaterra’s Hardball Talk, Rob Iracane of Walk off Walk noted that whenever the term lack of hustle is used, it almost always is in reference to a non-white player. Iracane’s provocative observation was supported by a Google search (“lack of hustle” and baseball”) that uncovered 22 instances, 21 of which applied to black or Latino players (David Wright was the only white player cited). I ran a similar search and a cursory glance also turned up the additional names of Paul O’Neill and Richie Sexson (as well as Shane Victorino), but the imbalance is still compelling.

Pete Rose defined his era with a style of play that earned him the nickname Charlie Hustle. Ironically, the nickname was actually intended as a term of derision.

Based on his search, Iracane concluded that the term “lack of hustle” is basically a form of veiled racism. At first glance, it is hard to argue with him. A charge of racism, however, should be worthy of deeper inspection, so let’s do that now.

First off, in the incident that sparked the two posts, Brandon Phillips, an African American, was chided for not hustling by his manager, Dusty Baker, also an African American. Other cases, such as run-ins between Jose Reyes and Willie Randolph as well as Fernando Martinez and Jerry Manuel share a similar dynamic. So, off the bat, the issue appears to be more complex than just black and white.

Besides, being black men, what else do Baker, Manuel and Randolph share in common? They all played in the same era…a time when “hustle” was a badge of honor. In fact, that’s the era that gave us Charlie Hustle (aka Pete Rose), the John McGraw throwback who very much helped defined the style of play during his era. Similarly, many of the beat writers covering the game also came of age in the late-60s to early-80s. Therefore, it should be no surprise that they demand the modern ballplayer share the same virtues as the icons from their childhoods. (more…)

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