Sunday, August 29, 2010

Liveblog 29: The Yankees Are Not Winning Enough

This has turned out to be a pretty atypical Yankees season, at least compared to the way things seemed to usually go in the last decade. They actually got off to a great start despite usually struggling out of the gate, but after July being their best month all year, they've really struggled in August. It seems like around now is when the team always seems to turn it on, but they've only won half their games for the entire month, and seem to be stuck in a tie for first place with the Rays, as the Red Sox continue to struggle with injuries but still manage to be only about five games back in the hunt.

If I'm being honest, I see the Yankees getting to the playoffs but not winning the division. They only have one truly reliable starter in CC Sabathia, who just got his league-leading 18th win last night. But beyond him, Andy Pettitte is stuck on the disabled list, Phil Hughes seems to be struggling as he pitches deep into a big league season for the first time, and A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez have flat-out sucked. The bullpen finally turned into a strength, but the lineup seems streaky at best. I don't know how much of a real help Ivan Nova will be, but he's making his second start today after he pitched pretty well and really only made one mistake in a game the Yankees ended up losing. Well, two, if you think he intentionally threw that ball near Jose Bautista's head. Hopefully the Yankees pull out a series win against the White Sox today while the Red Sox and Rays play a 30 inning game that wears out all their players for the rest of the season.

Top 1 - Gavin Floyd pitching for the Sox. I get him and John Danks confused despite the different handedness. Brett Gardner strikes out looking to start the day. Derek Jeter flies out to right. Nick Swisher grounds a single up the middle to extend the inning a bit. I don't think I've seen him bat third before this year. Seems like Joe Girardi's trying everything with Alex Rodriguez on the DL. Mark Teixeira was supposed to be in the lineup today, but I guess his bruised thumb from yesterday kept him out after all. Robinson Cano works the count a bit, but he grounds out to second for the third out.

Bottom 1 - Nova kicks things off by inducing a ground out from Juan Pierre. Omar Vizquel, somehow still on a big league roster, swings through a curveball for strike three. Alex Rios strikes out on a low fastball, and Nova looked pretty good there.

Top 2 - Marcus Thames leads off the inning with a home run. He's really been very good all year. Came in to mash lefties, which he's done, but he's hit righties too. Curtis Granderson flies out to center. Austin Kearns bounces a ball towards Paul Konerko, but it deflects off his glove and Kearns reaches. Eduardo Nunez at the plate. I'm not sure how good his bat actually is, but compared to Ramiro Pena he looks like the Babe Ruth of utility infielders. He grounds one up the middle, but Alexei Ramirez makes a great diving grab and the Sox turn a double play to get out of the inning.

Bottom 2 - On the TV it looks like the home plate umpire is consistently giving pitchers an inch off the left side of the plate from his perspective, but Gameday says they're all pretty much on the edge of the zone. Michael Kay makes a pretty routine play on a ground ball by Jeter off Konerko's bat sound more exciting than it is for the first out. Andruw Jones, who's had a very confusing career (is he really overrated or really underrated?), grounds out to third. Nova's throwing an easy 95 and the curve is bending pretty well. Obviously I'm no expert but I'm surprised the traditional Yankee prospect hype machine hasn't built him up more. A.J. Pierzynski works a full count before getting a single up the middle. Maybe Nova's control has been abnormally good in these two starts? I've always heard good things about his stuff. Wow, they just showed a little of the new Resident Evil movie in a picture-in-picture thing, and it looked exactly like Milla Jovovich's other movie, Ultraviolet. Probably doesn't bode well. Ramirez fouls off a few pitches, but Nova gets him swinging on what must have been a change up.

Top 3 - Francisco Cervelli, who probably shouldn't be on a major league roster, especially for a contending team, and even more especially getting the majority of the playing time from the catcher position, makes me look silly for writing this sentence with a double down the right field line. Gardner squeaks a single past the second baseman, and Cervelli scores without a throw home. Gardner goes for second, but Jeter lines it right to second for a double play. Swisher pops out to third, and the inning's over.

Bottom 3 - Mark Teahen strikes out on a curveball in the dirt. Gordon Beckham slashes a single towards right field. Pierre strikes out on a pitch that looked a big high perhaps, but it was lower than the first called strike of the at bat, so he can suck it up. Right when Ken Singleton was about to make a Hall of Fame case for Vizquel, he lays down a bunt that Nova fields for the third out. That's a speech that will have to wait until the next half inning, at least.

Top 4 - Cano flies out on one pitch. Oppositely, Thames works a full count and draws a walk. Lots of scoreboard errors today for some reason. Multiple pitches have been marked as balls instead of strikes, and that whole last at bat there was a phantom runner on third base. Granderson gets a hit up the middle, runners on first and second for Kearns. He's fit in pretty well with the team since he came over, though he really doesn't have a regular position. Does the umpire's strike zone seem weird because he's actually calling the entire area, according to regulation? Maybe! Kearns grounds into a double play to cut the rally short.

Bottom 4 - I made a sandwich. Also, Rios grounded out, Konerko singled, and Jones and Pierzynski flied out.

Top 5 - Nunez flies out to right, and Cervelli gets down a bunt base hit. For today's text poll, 29% of voters don't think Frank Thomas is a first ballot Hall of Famer. In related news, 29% of the people watching this game are morons. Because he is inept, Cervelli attempts a steal before Danks starts his motion, allowing him to step off and throw him out at second. Gardner draws a walk, and moves to second on a wild pitch. Jeter strikes out though, and the inning ends.

Bottom 5 - Ramirez hits a lazy fly to left. Kay noting that every batter was taking the first pitch against Nova, but now the last three have swung (and still made outs). Teahen takes it for a ball, but eventually gets called out on strikes. Beckham hits a double off the wall in left. Pierre singles to right, driving in the Sox' first run. Cervelli once again utterly fails to throw out a runner, Pierre's on second for Vizquel. But he strikes out, Yankees still lead 2-1 after 5.

Top 6 - Swisher strikes out to begin the sixth. Cano follows suit. I think the Yankees should stop striking out and try hitting the ball more. But that's just me, I guess. Thames tries to follow my advice, but it only results in a ground out to third.

Bottom 6 -Still pitching well, Nova gets Rios to ground out again. Konerko draws a walk, though. CAN NOVA HANDLE THE PRESSURE OF PITCHING MORE THAN 5 1/3 INNINGS? Jones lines out to center for the second out. Girardi comes out for another early exit by Nova despite fewer than 90 pitches. You gotta earn the right to finish the sixth inning, kid. Boone Logan on to try to finish it. Pierzynski hits a weak ground ball to third, but Nunez can't make an accurate throw and the inning continues. Kerry Wood in to give the third out a shot. He's been pretty damn good for the Yankees so far, and is a big part of that bullpen resurgence. Unfortunately his first pitch is wild, and the runners move up. Full count to Ramirez. He draws a walk and the bases are loaded. Teahen saves the Yankees' asses by grounding out to first. With Nova out of the game, I'm about done doing this crap. See you guys later.

Wrap-Up - The Yankees couldn't score again, but the bullpen held the line and Mariano Rivera got the save for the Yankees 80th win of the season. Would have liked it being a bit less close, but still a win. Now to keep doing that through September.

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