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Archive for June 4th, 2010

A Yankee fan growing up, Brett Cecil wasn’t very kind to the team for which he used to root. The young Jays lefty kept the Yankees off balance for most of the game with a dynamic changeup, which he threw a relatively high 28 times, including 19 times for strikes (mostly swinging). With the exception of a few hard hit balls, the Yankees were mostly unable to adjust to Cecil’s off speed approach, which also included 30 sliders.

What's his secret? Jose Bautista shares a moment with Lyle Overbay after belting his second home run of the game (Photo: AP).

AJ Burnett would have been wise to take a page from Cecil because the Jays made him pay for several poorly located fastballs. Burnett did throw more curves than usual (40% versus 24% for the season), but his inability to get ahead in the count left him in too many predictable hitters counts. As a result, the fastball happy Jays made him pay, driving in all six runs off old number one.

Coming into the game, AJ Burnett had only allowed four HRs, but by the end of the day he had nearly doubled that total to seven. Most of the damage was done by Jose Bautista, who belted two round trippers on fastballs down the middle: one on a 3-2 count leading off the second and the other at 2-0 with a runner on in the fourth. Coming into the game, Bautista ranked eight in the American League in runs above average produced on the fastball (11.8), so the pitch selection was curious to say the least. Nonetheless, Bautista’s two homeruns boosted his league leading total to 18 and set a new career high in the process.

The Yankees did have two chances to make a dent in Cecil’s armor, but were thwarted by a double play each time. In the fourth inning, a Swisher walk and Mark Teixeira single put runners on first and second with no outs, but Arod followed with a hard smash up the middle the short stop Alex Gonzalez impressively turned into a double play. Then, in the sixth inning, Nick Swisher hit into a twin killing that scored Chad Moeller with the Yankees only run. Otherwise, the Yankees’ offense was punchless against the crafty Cecil.

Despite AJ Burnett’s frustrating pitch selection, the Yankees can’t kick themselves over this one. Cecil pitched a great game and even had some luck to boot. The Jays, however, really needed to make a strong showing. After blowing consecutive games to the Rays, another loss in the division could have introduced some doubts about the team’s staying power. Now, the onus is placed on the Yankees to even the series by playing a better game against better competition.

  • By going 0-4, Robin Cano’s 17-game hitting streak came to an end.
  • Cecil’s 1-run, 8-inning performance was his second of the season, the other occurring on May 3 versus the Indians.
  • With three homeruns, the Jays increased their league leading total to 94. The franchise record for most homeruns is 244, which was established in 2000.

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The Yankees travel north to face the Blue Jays for the first time this season and will encounter a power laden team that leads the league in HRs by 17. Ironically, it isn’t proven stars like Aaron Hill and Adam Lind who are leading the power surge, but journeymen like Jose Bautista and Alex Gonzalez.

Usually, it is the Yankees who dominate in the power department, but Cito Gaston’s HR happy Jays have turned the tables on the Bronx Bombers. Having said that, the Jays rank next to last in .OBP, which helps explain why the Yankees, who lead the league in getting on base, have still scored 24 more runs despite hitting almost 30 fewer long balls.

AJ Burnett will be charged with containing the Jays power, which based on early season statistics seems like a good choice. In over 70 innings, Burnett has only allowed four HRs, so the Yankees hope that bodes well for his performance. Similarly, Brett Cecil, a strike throwing lefty, seems to match up well against the Yankees patient approach. Styles often make the fight, and this matchup could be an example of that.

The Jays come into the game off of two straight losses to the Rays, both the result of blown saves in the ninth inning. The unexpected fourth horse in the race, the Jays need to bounce back against the Yankees if they hope to avoid falling further back in the division. It remains to be seen if the Jays are for real, but beating the Yankees this weekend would be a good place to start.

The Yankees meanwhile come off seven straight games against pretty awful teams, so the Jays represent a step up in class. In order to keep pace is a very tight divisional race, the Yankees need to keep winning series, and the best way to do that is by winning game one.

vs. Brett Cecil PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 6 0.600 0.667 0.600 0 0
Nick Swisher RF 6 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 1
Mark Teixeira 1B 6 0.333 0.667 1.333 1 1
Alex Rodriguez 3B 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Robinson Cano 2B 6 0.800 0.833 1.400 1 1
Jorge Posada DH 6 0.600 0.667 0.600 0 2
Marcus Thames LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Curtis Granderson CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Chad Moeller C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 33 0.519 0.606 0.741 2 5
vs. AJ Burnett PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Fred Lewis LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Aaron Hill 2B 12 0.273 0.333 0.545 1 1
Adam Lind DH 10 0.250 0.400 0.250 0 0
Vernon Wells CF 10 0.333 0.400 0.778 1 1
Jose Bautista RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Alex Gonzalez SS 6 0.167 0.167 0.667 1 1
Lyle Overbay 1B 18 0.059 0.111 0.118 0 0
John Buck C 12 0.250 0.250 0.833 2 4
Edwin Encarnacion 3B 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0 0
Total 71 0.212 0.268 0.485 5 7
Yankees vs. Blue Jays
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
TIED: 0-0 NYY: 12-6 TIED: 9-9 NYY: 259-205
  • Before the game, Joe Girardi announced that Dave Eiland had taken an indefinite leave of absence to deal with a “personal issue”.  In his place, bullpen coach Mike Harkey will serve as the pitching coach.

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In 1989, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. became the first father and son to play in the majors at the same time.

After bursting on the scene as “the Kid” and establishing himself as the darling of baseball, Ken Griffey Jr. slowly descended into a curious level of anonymity for a player of his historic ability. Therefore, it was somewhat appropriate that Griffey’s retirement (announced exactly 23 years to the date he was drafted by the Mariners) was almost completely overshadowed by the events surrounding Jim Joyce’s missed call in Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game.

The son of an accomplished major leaguer in his own right, Ken Griffey Jr. was destined to be a great baseball player. And, from the time he first picked up a bat for Moeller High School in suburban Cincinnati, everyone around the game knew it. So, when the Seattle Mariners made Griffey the first selection in the 1987 amateur draft, it was just a matter of time before the Kid made it to the show.

I’d settle for a career like my dad. We do everything the same, except that he swings one-handed and I swing two-handed” – Ken Griffey Jr., quoted in the June 3, 1987 Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Griffey got his candy bar a lot sooner than Reggie.

Before he even made it to the majors, it was apparent that Junior was going to be a much better player than his father. After all, he even had his own candy bar before the end of his rookie season. Not bad, especially when you consider Reggie had hit three homeruns in one World Series game before getting his.

It really wasn’t all fun and games for Junior, however. Shortly after being drafted, the pressure brought about by his fame culminated in a suicide attempt that landed Griffey in the hospital after he swallowed over 200 aspirin. Still, Griffey persevered through those trying times, breezing through the minor leagues as an 18 year old and winning the Mariners’ starting CF job with a tremendous spring training in 1989 (.397 with 19 RBIs).

It seemed like everyone was yelling at me in baseball, then I came home and everyone was yelling at me there. I got depressed. I got angry. I didn’t want to live.” – Ken Griffey Jr., quoted in the March 14, 1992 The Seattle Times

After starting his rookie season in a 1-18 slump, Griffey took off from there and never looked back. He followed up a solid, albeit injury plagued rookie campaign with immediate Hall of Fame-like seasons, quickly establishing himself as one of the game’s best all around players as well as its unofficial poster boy. Heading into the 1990s, Junior was the new face of baseball.

A jubilant Ken Griffey smiles from underneath the pile after scoring the winning run in the 1995 ALDS.

Before Ken Griffey Jr. joined the team, the Mariners were a moribund franchise. In 12 prior seasons, the team never won more than 78 games and ranked at or near the bottom of the league in attendance. With the addition of Junior, things began to change. By 1991, the Mariners had their first winning season and more than doubled attendance from the season before Griffey joined the team. Then, in 1995, the Mariners made their first post season, which included a dramatic comeback from being down 0-2 to the Yankees in the ALDS. In that series, Griffey hit .391 with 5 HRs and 7 RBIs, but his slide into home with the series winning run in game five stands out. To this date, that moment ranks as the greatest moment in Mariners history and is often credited with saving baseball in Seattle.

It’s debatable whether Griffey was the player of the 1990s. Mark McGwire had more HRs, Albert Belle had more RBIs and Barry Bonds had more runs scored. Still, Junior ranked in the top three in all categories and also had 10 straight gold gloves in centerfield to boot. What’s more, he was also the people’s choice, having been elected to start the All Star Game in eight seasons during the decade. He was also the only outfielder of his generation to be voted onto the All Century Team.

Player of the 1990s?

Player OPS+ PA R HR RBI BA OBP SLG
Barry Bonds 179 6146 1091 361 1076 0.302 0.434 0.602
Mark McGwire 172 5054 791 405 956 0.268 0.411 0.615
Frank Thomas 169 6091 968 301 1040 0.320 0.440 0.573
Jeff Bagwell 159 5800 921 263 961 0.304 0.416 0.545
Mike Piazza 156 4075 611 240 768 0.328 0.391 0.575
Edgar Martinez 154 5587 854 196 750 0.322 0.430 0.532
Ken Griffey 152 6182 1002 382 1091 0.302 0.384 0.581
Albert Belle 150 5817 881 351 1099 0.299 0.376 0.581
Manny Ramirez 147 3563 573 198 682 0.307 0.399 0.576
Jim Thome 146 3782 609 196 579 0.287 0.412 0.547

(more…)

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