Archive for May 9th, 2010

After pitching well all season, AJ Burnett finally had one of those games. Ironically, he looked very strong over the first two innings, and even seemed to have one of his better curve balls. It all fell apart in the third inning, however. With runners on second and third, Burnett jumped out ahead 0-2 on David Ortiz, but then proceeded to pitch around the plate until the count was 3-2. At that point, Burnett reverted back to being a thrower and Ortiz, who was cheating on the heat, made him pay. Perhaps he was frustrated by not using the off speed against Ortiz, but for whatever the reason, Burnett seemed to give up after allowing the RBI double to the struggling Big Papi. Before the smoke had cleared, Burnett gave up five runs in the third, or more than he had surrendered in any whole game this season.

Joe Girardi was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning (Photo: AP)

The Yankees only sign of life came in the fourth inning when Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriquez both took John Lester over the Green Monster. Otherwise, the Yankees were swinging early and often against Lester, allowing the lefty to breeze through seven innings. A more patient approach probably wouldn’t have mattered much anyway because Burnett was never able to settle back into a rhythm. He gave up another run in the fourth and two more in the fifth before being lifted for the Yankee debut of reliever Romulo Sanchez. Albeit in mop up duty, Sanchez was impressive, exhibiting a mid-90s fastball as well as an effective curve and change. By pitching  3 2/3 scoreless innings, Sanchez not only helped save the bullpen, but may have also opened up some eyes.

Although Burnett’s implosion didn’t need any additional fuel, the left field play of Marcus Thames certainly added some. In the second inning, Thames dropped a line drive by Jeremy Hermida that allowed the first run of the game to score, and then later in the game, Thames was late retrieving two balls hit to left field, which ultimately contributed to two more runs. Coming into the game, Thames had a mind bogglingly low UZR/150 of -47.2, which would be hard to believe if you hadn’t watched him play. Without exaggeration, Thames has had a misplay in every single game he has played. At some point, Girardi needs to realize that Thames’ ability to hit lefties does not justify his awful defense in left field.

  • Joe Girardi was ejected by home plate umpire Tim McClelland for arguing balls and strikes. Girardi came out to intervene on behalf of Marcus Thames, who was called out on strikes to end the top of the fourth inning.
  • Alex Rodriquez’ fourth inning home run was the 586th of his career, tying Frank Robinson for seventh place on the all-time HR list. The long ball also snapped a 62 at bat homerless stretch dating back to April 20 in Oakland.
  • Nick Swisher continued his hot hitting in the month of May. With his HR and single, Swisher is now batting .438/.486/.938 with 5 HRs and 14 RBIs in the month of May.
  • AJ Burnett is now 0-3 with a 12.68 ERA in five starts at Fenway since joining the Yankees.
  • Robinson Cano recorded his 14th multi-hit game of the season, which trails only Austin Jackson’s 15.

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The rivalry wraps up with a Sunday night game that pits AJ Burnett against John Lester. The Red Sox are desperate for a good start, and Lester seems like their best bet to get one. In his last three games, Lester is 2-0 with a 0.44 ERA over 20 2/3 innings. The Yankees have had some recent success against Lester, however, so one of those trends will come to an end.

In order for the Yankees to finish up the sweep, and move into sole possession of first place, AJ Burnett will also have to buck a recent trend. Since joining the Yankees, Burnett has not earned a victory over Boston. He comes into tonight’s outing riding the best start of his career, including a current string of 19 innings without an earned run.

The Yankees will need Burnett to be on his game because the bullpen will be short. Although Mariano Rivera is ready to pitch the ninth, Alfredo Aceves is unavailable with a stiff back. With David Robertson struggling, Sergio Mitre starting tomorrow and Romulu Sanchez untested, much of the relief burden will fall on Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte and Boone Logan.

After a series of injury setbacks, the Yankees get Jorge Posada back in the lineup. Posada will serve as a DH, which allows the hot hitting Francisco Cervelli to remain in the lineup. Marcus Thames also gets a start in LF against the lefty Lester, while Gardner returns to the last slot in the order. For the Red Sox, Big Papi gets the nod against the righty Burnett.

vs. Jon Lester PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 29 0.370 0.414 0.370 0 2
Nick Swisher RF 22 0.188 0.364 0.500 1 3
Mark Teixeira 1B 17 0.235 0.235 0.412 1 2
Alex Rodriguez 3B 20 0.263 0.300 0.684 2 5
Robinson Cano 2B 25 0.261 0.280 0.348 0 2
Jorge Posada DH 17 0.200 0.294 0.200 0 0
Marcus Thames LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 130 0.265 0.315 0.419 4 14
Marco Scutaro SS 23 0.286 0.348 0.333 0 0
Dustin Pedroia 2B 37 0.286 0.459 0.500 2 4
Victor Martinez C 26 0.316 0.500 0.579 1 3
Kevin Youkilis 1B 35 0.241 0.343 0.345 1 6
J.D. Drew RF 33 0.250 0.364 0.357 0 4
David Ortiz DH 37 0.250 0.270 0.611 3 8
Adrian Beltre 3B 30 0.286 0.333 0.536 1 5
Jeremy Hermida LF 3 0.000 0.333 0.000 0 0
Darnell McDonald CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 224 0.267 0.362 0.466 8 30
Yankees vs. Red Sox
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 4-1 TIED: 9-9 TIED: 9-9 NYY: 1121-934
  • Alex Rodriguez next home run will tie Frank Robinson for seventh on the all-time list. Arod has been stuck on 585 HRs for 61 at bats. Arod’s longest homer-less streak occurred over 72 ABs in 2009, a stretch that was snapped when he went deep against Boston in the 15th inning of a game on August 7.
  • Since signing with the Yankees, Mark Teixeira has hit nine home runs and knocked in 21 runs against the Red Sox.

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On June 11 last year, the Red Sox wrapped up their eight straight victory over the Yankees, prompting team owner John Henry to tweet “The MT curse?” Since then, the Yankees gave gone 13-2 against the Red Sox, while winning a World Series along the way. Let the conspiracy theories commence.

Oh Henry! Did Red Sox owner John Henry unleash a new curse via Twitter?

At the time, Mark Teixeira didn’t have much say, offering only “How old is Mr. Henry? There’s no reason to get into it with a 70-something-year-old man about baseball.” Tex may have been unwilling to engage in an exchange of words, but the fact of the matter is his bat and glove have done quite a bit of talking. Last season, Tex batted .351/.461/.662 against the Red Sox, and as yesterday’s three home runs can attest, he shows no signs of letting up. Curse in deed.

In many ways, Mark Teixeira’s free agent signing represented a major shift in the balance of power between the two teams. By swooping in and snatching the switch hitting, slick fielding first baseman, Brian Cashman secured a centerpiece player in his prime to supplement an aging core. From the Red Sox perspective, the failure to close the deal with Tex has left several gaping holes. Had Boston been able to sign Teixeira, they wouldn’t have to worry about unloading the farm for the likes of Adrian Gonzalez or Lance Berkman. They also wouldn’t have had to concoct a run prevention strategy that locked them into Adrian Beltre. Teixeira’s presence on the Red Sox would have settled both the lineup and the infield defense…just as he has done for the Yankees. The net difference to both teams has been very significant, to say the least.

Mark Teixeira is exactly the kind of players that the Red Sox need. His productivity (one team having it, and the other not) is one of the main reasons for the shifting fates of the two teams. No curse is to blame. That can be assigned to John Henry for not empowering his GM to bring Teixeira to Fenway. Now, the Yankees get to bring him nine times every season.

Of course, if the superstitious in Boston insist on blaming the super natural, they can go with the curse of the Big Papi jersey. Ever since the infamous David Ortiz jersey was dug up from the foundation of new Yankee Stadium, not only have the Red Sox taken a step backwards, but Big Papi hasn’t been doing to well either.

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Of all the games for John Sterling and Susan Waldman to be your eyes, it had to be this one! It’s hard to really know what happened in a game when listening to the Yankees on the radio, but luckily Chad Jennings has done an excellent job at LoHud wrapping up what was a very busy day.

C.C. Sabathia made an important point in the third inning by hitting Dustin Pedroia with a pitch (Photo: AP).

Amid all the action, however, what really stood out was one pitch thrown by C.C. Sabathia in the third inning. On Friday night, Robinson Cano was hit in the left knee by a Josh Beckett fastball. Tim McCarver’s protestations aside, it seemed very clear that Beckett hit Cano on purpose. For whatever reason, the Yankees decided not to retaliate in that game, but this afternoon, C.C. Sabathia finally settled the score.

I am usually not one to advocate bean ball wars, but in this instance, Beckett’s insolent behavior required a response. Not only did Sabathia defend his teammates, but he did it in the right way: a fastball to the side of Dustin Pedroia. The point wasn’t to hurt Pedroia, but to send the Red Sox a message that if Beckett is going to act irresponsibly on the mound, their hitters will face repercussions. To his credit, Pedroia took his lumps and ran to first. I am sure he expected a response and understood why it was necessary.

Predictably, Fox broadcasters Joe Buck and McCarver expressed their usual righteous indignation over Sabathia’s retaliation because, after all, Beckett would never think of purposely hitting a Yankee batter. After Victor Martinez’ HR, Buck even crowed that the Yankees misguided attempt at settling the score may have “awakened the Red Sox”. Well, 12 runs for the Yankees later, the Red Sox were still sleeping, and the Fox duo seemed to be fuming over another Yankee victory.

During the Joe Torre years, the Yankees never seemed to have each other’s back. Under Girardi, however, that attitude has definitely changed. For all the legitimate criticisms of Girardi’s game strategy, he deserves credit for fostering a team chemistry centered on togetherness. It not only has helped make the Yankees a better team, but also made it even more fun to root for them.

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