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Archive for May 20th, 2010

The Rays came to the Bronx to deliver a message and did so loudly and clearly. By sweeping two games from the Yankees, the Rays not only outplayed them, but outclassed them as well. It’s only May, but until the Yankees get healthy, if they ever do, the AL East appears to be the Rays division to lose.

A two game sweep at the hands of the Rays left the Yankees flat on their backs.

Like yesterday, the Rays jumped on the Yankees from the get-go, scoring three runs in the first before an out was recorded. This time, however, the Yankees didn’t wait until the end of the game to put up a fight. In the bottom of the second, Juan Miranda’s two run homer deep into the right field stands cut the deficit to 3-2, but the Yankees real opportunity to take control of the game occurred in the third. After Randy Winn led off with a single, Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner both reached on perfectly placed bunt singles, the latter of which created a run when James Shield threw wildly down the first base line. With the game now tied and runners on second and third, the Yankees were poised to take the lead. However, Shields induced a weak groundout from Teixeira and then struck out Arod and Cano to strand both runners. With the state of the Yankees lineup, such a feeble showing by the healthy middle of the order was a disastrous end to the inning.

The two teams traded runs in the fourth inning (the Yankees run was the result of BJ Upton losing a Miranda fly ball in the early evening sky), but then the Rays pulled away in the middle innings. Andy Pettitte tried to keep the Yankees in the game, but he lacked the command that defined his 5-0 start. Although he threw a sufficient amount of strikes (65 of 103 to be exact), Pettitte left too many pitches over the plate and paid the price. Before his night was over, Pettitte wound up surrendering seven runs for easily his worst start of the season.

Perhaps the lone bright spot for the Yankees was a dominant two inning relief performance by David Robertson, who struck out four of the six batters he faced. Unfortunately, Chan Ho Park did little to offer similar encouragement. Park surrendered yet another home run in his brief Yankee career and helped to thwart any chance for a comeback.

As they often do, the Yankees did get off the deck in the ninth. After Derek Jeter doubled home two runs off Rays closer Rafael Soriano, Gardner came to the plate as the tying run, but grounded out meekly to third base, ending the game and sending the Rays home with a rare Yankee Stadium sweep.

As the Rays leave town with a healthy five game lead, the Yankees now find themselves closer to the fourth place Red Sox than to first place. The Subway Series is next up for the Yankees, but one wonders if their embarrassing showing against the Rays will lead to a letdown over the weekend. Regardless, the Yankees need to stop the bleeding fast or they’ll soon find themselves looking up at most of the division.

  • Last season, Chan Ho Park did not surrender a single homerun as a reliever. This season he has surrendered five, including at least one in four of his five outings.
  • Derek Jeter’s three hit game was his first since April 30.
  • Andy Pettitte’s pick-off of Ben Zobrist in the third inning was the 98th of his career, the most by any pitcher since the stat was first maintained.
  • During the game, Major League Baseball president and COO Bob DuPuy announced that the Yankees protest of their Tuesday loss against Boston was denied.
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After taking it on the chin in last night’s game, the Yankees look to Andy Pettitte to halt a two game losing streak and even the score with the Rays. With a win, the Yankees would also eke out a winning home stand by finishing 4-3.

The Yankees not only hope that Pettitte will be able to quiet the Rays’ bats, but also slow down their running game. Pettitte’s legendary pick-off move could be a key weapon in a close game as the Rays will undoubtedly seek to run wild on the bases.

After a three game absence, the Yankees welcome Nick Swisher back to the lineup. Swisher had been unable to swing the bat left handed because of a right biceps injury. Although Swisher’s return is certainly a welcomed sight, it is tempered a little by the loss of Marcus Thames, who will miss tonight’s game with a sprained ankle. A makeshift lineup has become an everyday occurrence for the Yankees, so they’ll need to make the most of their opportunities against James Shields, who comes into the game not having allowed more than two earned runs in a start since April 17 in Boston.

Before the game, the Yankees also made a series of roster moves precipitated by Jorge Posada’s trip to the DL. Chad Moeller has been recalled from Scranton to serve as the back up for Francisco Cervelli. To make room for Moeller on the 40-man roster, Nick Johnson was transferred to the 60-day DL. Finally, Kevin Russo has once again been promoted, while Mark Melancon rides the shuttle back to Scranton.

Although there are no must win games in May, this one is still very important. Should the Rays gain the two game sweep, it would not only open up a sizeable five game gap in the standings, but also introduce an air of panic heading into the always frantic Subway Series. A win, however, would send the confident Rays a message and keep the Yankees within shouting distance as they wait for their walking wounded to rejoin the roster.

vs. Scott Shields PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Jeter SS 34 0.364 0.382 0.485 1 5
Gardner CF 3 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Teixeira 1B 20 0.158 0.200 0.158 0 0
Rodriguez 3B 21 0.235 0.381 0.529 1 2
Cano 2B 27 0.462 0.481 1.000 2 6
Swisher RF 12 0.182 0.250 0.727 2 6
Miranda DH 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Winn LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
 Total 117 0.303 0.342 0.569 6 19
             
vs. Andy Pettitte PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Jason Bartlett SS 20 0.389 0.450 0.722 1 5
Carl Crawford LF 41 0.308 0.341 0.333 0 2
Ben Zobrist 2B 15 0.333 0.467 0.583 1 1
Evan Longoria 3B 18 0.125 0.222 0.375 1 2
Carlos Pena 1B 42 0.314 0.429 0.771 4 7
BJ Upton CF 30 0.250 0.367 0.333 0 3
Willie Aybar DH 12 0.091 0.167 0.091 0 0
Dioner Navarro C 20 0.294 0.333 0.647 2 4
Gabe Kapler RF 26 0.280 0.308 0.440 1 3
Total 224 0.279 0.339 0.492 10 27

 

Yankees vs. Rays    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TIED: 2-2 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 11-7 NYY: 135-71
  • With a win Andy Pettitte would start the season at 6-0 for the first time in his career. At 5-0, he matched a career best set in 1997.
  • Tonight’s match up pits the leagues best home and road teams. The Yankees currently have a 13-5 record at the Stadium, while the Rays sport a 16-4 record when living out of hotels.
  • The Rays 29-11 record after 40 games is the fourth best mark in major league history. Only the 1984 Tigers (35-5), 1998 Yankees (31-9) and 2001 Mariners (31-9) burst out the gate in better fashion.
  • At 0-4, the Yankees are the only team in the majors without a victory in one-run games.

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Should a baseball team’s general manager be attending rock concerts on the same night that his team loses an excruciating game against their chief rival? That’s the question being asked across Red Sox Nation after Theo Epstein was spotted at a Pearl Jam concert on the same night Jonathan Papelbon was blowing a save at Yankee Stadium.

Theo loves Rock and Roll, but does Red Sox Nation?

Not surprisingly, there has been some strong reaction (and overreaction) to Esptein’s musical interlude. Specifically, with the team struggling, and many of Epstein’s off season acquisitions contributing to the malaise, questions about his priorities have been raised. In response, the legion of Epstein defenders in the media, including Nick Carfardo and Rob Neyer, vehemently supported his right to have a social life, but in doing so, I think they are missing the point.

The passion among fans of teams like the Yankees and Red Sox is so strong that it often borders on irrational. You can be sure that once the ball left Marcus Thames’ bat on Monday night, more than a few Red Sox’ fans spent a sleepless night worrying about the team. That level of engagement might seem ridiculous to some, but it is also what fuels both teams’ considerable economic success. After all, an apathetic fan base doesn’t sell out the park or light up the ratings of the local RSN.

So, does attending the concert mean Epstein is not working hard enough as GM? Of course not. However, it does show that he may be a tad out of touch with Red Sox fans. Epstein has been to Pearl Jam concerts before, and will have the opportunity to attend more in the future, so it would have been wise for him to skip this one and avoid the perception of fiddling (or playing the electric guitar) while the Nation was burning bright.

Making matters worse, Yahoo!’s Big League Stew blog uncovered pictures of Epstein incognito at the event. Although not in costume as elaborate as his infamous gorilla suit, the clandestine Epstein makes it seem as if he was sneaking out. Sometimes perception trumps reality, and in this case, Epstein should have used better judgment, if only out of respect for the portion of his fan base who did more tossing and turning after Monday’s loss than Epstein at a rock concert.

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