Thursday, August 28, 2008

Liveblog 15: The Yankees Are Boring

I'm only doing this because it's been over two months since I liveblogged a Yankee game. The season is slipping through their fingers, and it's just not that enjoyable to watch them these days. I had high hopes when they stormed out of the All-Star break winning the first eight games they played, but that was only a blip, as they spent the rest of July and most of August playing pathetic baseball. Now they're seven games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card chase, and hopes for the division have all but vanished. I hate that this had to happen this year, the first in a long time that the team has not been managed by Joe Torre, because it just adds to the argument that he's some mythically great coach that wills his teams to win, although his Dodgers aren't exactly setting the world on fire either. I don't dislike Torre, but he gets canonized for capably running a team with more resources than any other, when I really haven't seen much to say that any manager makes a large impact on his team's success.

The team's makeup has changed quite a bit. Xavier Nady has been a good addition to the outfield, but this team still can't seem to hit enough to get anywhere. Jorge Posada's season ended early, and the team traded for future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez to replace him, but he's just not the player he used to be and hasn't done squat for the team. Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina are the only remaining members of the original plan for this year's rotation, with the others all being plagued by injury, and in Ian Kennedy's case, suckiness. Carl Pavano returned from one of his eternal DL stints to pitch a decent game, but it's just not the same. While Pettitte has been showing his age this season, Mussina has been great, and is four wins away from his first ever 20-win season, which would be awesome to see, and he has enough chances left to pull it off, which is the only existing storyline at this point that makes the team interesting. This afternoon (Thursday game at 1:00? Weird.) he goes for number 17 against those dastardly Sox, and I'll be chronicling it here.

Top 1 - This is, barring a large comeback, the last Yankee-Red Sox game at the old Yankee Stadium. Let's hope it's a good one. Tacoby Bellsbury steps in to face Mussina, and takes a strike. On the next pitch, he lines out to Damon in center. Five pitches later, Pedroia is called out looking at a fastball on the outside corner. Another six pitches later, Ortiz draws a walk. If there's one player umpires don't like calling close pitches against, it's him. Next up is Kevin Youkilis, an overall irritating human being. He flies out to Abreu, and we're moving to the bottom of the inning.

Bottom 1 - Clay Buchholz had all the hype for the Sox' young pitchers this year, but he's had a bad year bouncing between the bigs and the minors, while Lester's broken out and become the team's best starter. I can't remember if he's faced them since then, but he pitched a complete game shutout against the Yanks earlier in the season. He throws three straight balls to start off Damon, but eventually gets him to fly out to right. Jeter singles up the middle. He'll have to play well to pass Lou Gehrig for most hits at Yankee Stadium before the season ends, but he's certainly capable. Abreu follows Jeter's lead, and A-Rod's up with two runners on. I just checked, and Lester did pitch against the Yankees between now and the shutout, and it was another great start, two runs in seven innings. After getting 1-2 on him, Lester throws his first non-fastball of the inning low, but Alex doesn't bite. Two pitches later though, he swings through another, and is down on strikes. Nady grounds out, and the team blows a solid opportunity against a pitcher that has dominated them recently. Not so good.

Top 2 - Jason Bay grounds out. Both teams in this game acquired solid hitting outfielders from Pittsburgh and both have been happy with the results. Mark Kotsay, recently grabbed from the Braves, doubles in his return to the AL. It's not a problem though, as the next two batters strike out and ground out respectively.

Bottom 2 - Cano pops out to center, and Matsui recently back from another knee problem, strikes out. Cody Ransom, who has had two homers in two big league at-bats this year, takes a ball off the foot, maintaining his perfect On Base Percentage, but Molina pops to left.

Top 3 - I kinda missed this inning. Moose got three straight outs.

Bottom 3 - Damon takes six fastballs, the first three for balls and the last three for strikes. Good job, Johnny. Jeter smacks a single in front of Kotsay, trying to get things going. Unfortunately, he gets caught stealing on a failed hit and run. Abreu flies out, and it's time for the fourth inning.

Top 4 - Ortiz draws another walk. Youkilis just misses a line drive home run, but pops out later in the at bat. Mussina gets Bay to ground into a double play turned nicely by Cano to end the minor threat. Moose is dealing, it's time to score for him.

Bottom 4 - A-Rod strikes out looking at a close pitch, and the crowd boos him. Why? Because they're morons, of course. Nady also strikes out. Wait, why aren't the fans booing him too? Oh yeah. They're morons. Cano grounds out. That's not scoring.

Top 5 - Kotsay flies out to Abreu. Lowrie hits a solid single for the Sox' fourth baserunner. They're showing the rules for the newly implemented Instant Replay in MLB. It's only allowed for home run calls and gives sole authority to the umpiring crew chief over its use and making the final decision. It's a small step forward, but at least it's something. Alex Cora takes a ball off the leg. The corpse of Jason Varitek manages a single to score the game's first run. Damn it. Ellsbury grounds into a potential double play, but he's fast enough to beat the return throw and a run scores. There are way too many people cheering. This team is so bad that I'm already considering ending the blog early. Ellsbury gets caught stealing and the inning's over. If he gets the Rookie of the Year award because of the time missed by clearly superior Evan Longoria, I will not be pleased.

Bottom 5 - Matsui weakly grounds out to short. Ransom strikes out weakly on a fastball. So does Molina. Weak. Useless.

Top 6 - Pedroia sneaks a single past Jeter to lead off the sixth. David Ortiz strikes out looking, and argues with the umpire, because he has never taken a legitimate third strike in his life. He knows this and is confident about it. Mussina hits Youkilis. Bay grounds out to A-Rod. Replay shows Pedroia clearly out of the baseline, but the umpires aren't budging. They get worse every year. Screw Instant Replay, just get robots to do it. It's not a problem, as Kotsay swings through a curve for the third strike.

Bottom 6 - A predictive haiku:

Jon Lester pitches
Damon, Jeter, Abreu
They cannot hit him

Damon gets hit by a pitch on the arm. Jeter bloops another single for his third of the game. Abreu flies out to center, and Damon tags and makes it to third. Rodriguez pops out behind the plate. Hey, more boos! Nady pops out too. Again, no boos. Remember kids, if you make more money than someone else, people will like you less than him.

Top 7 - Lowrie pops up for the first out. Cora lines a ball off Mussina's glove for a single. He steals second when Molina bobbles the ball trying to throw him out. Varitek strikes out looking at a perfect pitch. Ellsbury lines it right into Moose's glove, ending the seventh. This is the Yankees' last chance to get him a win today.

Bottom 7 - Lester's still pitching, and gets Cano 0-2. He bloops it to shallow center, but Cora makes a solid running catch to nab it. Matsui is K'd looking. Ransom doubles into the left field corner. Lester's being taken out, and Hideki Okajima is coming in to preserve the lead. Jason Giambi is in to pinch hit for Molina. He hits a bomb of a home run to near-dead center to tie the game. Great job guys, but you still need to score one more this inning for me to give a shit about this game. The dream ends as Damon strikes out. I no longer have reason to continue this post, so I will be back later to wrap up. Mussina likely still has six starts left to get four wins, so that hope lives on.

Wrap-Up - Giambi came through again with a game winning single in the bottom of the ninth off Papelbon to avoid the sweep. Beating the Sox is cool, I guess. You have to take what you can, sometimes.

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