April 2010

Cano’s Bat, Burnett’s Arm Too Much For Orioles

GAME 21
YANKEES 4, ORIOLES 0

HELP WANTED – Major League Baseball manager seeks pitcher who can actually get one pitch past Robinson Cano. Pay commiserate with performance. Great pension and meal money included. Contact Baltimore Orioles Manager Dave Trembley immediately.

After the way Robinson Cano destroyed Trembley’s pitching staff the last three games, I doubt if any want ad regarding Cano that he might place would get much response — even in this economy.
Cano blasted two solo home runs and A.J. Burnett pitched eight shutout innings as the New York Yankees blanked the Baltimore Orioles 4-0 on Thursday night at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Burnett (3-0) surrendered only three hits and a walk in his longest outing of the season to earn the victory. Rookie left-hander Brian Matusz (2-1) took the loss.
The Yankees raised their season record to 14-7 but they remain 2 1/2 games in back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The cellar-dwelling Orioles, having lost two of the three games in the series against the Yankees, fell to 4-18 in the division.
The Yankees finished their long nine-game road trip with a 5-4 mark.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • You can say about Cano that as hot as he is at the plate that he could hit buckshot with a ballpoint pen. All he did Thursday night was go 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs to raise his A.L. leading batting average to .407. In the three-game series against the Orioles he was 8-for-13, a .615 average.
  • Oh, and Cano also had the defensive gem of the game by ranging well behind second base to flag down a Nolan Reimold grounder in the third inning and his off-balance throw across his body to first beat Reimold by a step.
  • Burnett was at his best too. He had five 1-2-3 innings and only one Oriole base-runner reached third base. Burnett lowered his season ERA to 2.43 and he remains undefeated on the season.
  • Give manager Joe Girardi credit for inserting right-handed-hitting Marcus Thames as the DH against the lefty Matusz. Thames was on base all four times with three hits, including an RBI double that scored Cano in the sixth inning. Thames is hitting .588 this season, mostly by facing lefties.
  • Derek Jeter had another multiple hit night and scored the game’s first run on an Alex Rodriguez sacrifice fly. Jeter raised his average to .311.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Rodriguez, despite his sac fly and RBI, went 0-for-3 in the game is now 0 for his last 19 at-bats, His last hit came on Saturday afternoon in his second at-bat off Joel Pineiro. His average has plunged to .250.
  • Nick Swisher came into the game as hot as Cano but struggled all night and ended up 0-for-5. Swisher now heads back to Yankee Stadium where he is 1-for-19 on the season.
  • Curtis Granderson looked overmatched against Matusz and lefty reliever Alberto Castillo. He was 0-for-4 in the game.
  • Mark Teixeira is showing signs of coming out of his slump. He did hit a double in the first inning. But in his next three at-bats he hit a weak fly ball, a weak infield popup and tapped back weakly to the pitcher. His average is at .139. The good news for Teixeira is that May begins on Saturday, so he has only one more game to play in the month of April.
DIAMOND NOTES

Jorge Posada was held out of the starting lineup by Girardi on Thursday after he was struck on the right knee by a pitch from Jeremy Guthrie in Wednesday’s game. Francisco Cervelli replaced Posada in the starting lineup on Thursday night. However, Posada said that a day of treatment with assistant trainer Steve Donohue helped bring most of the swelling down enough that Posada could have played in an emergency. That meant the Yankees did not have to call up a catcher from the minor leagues to backup Cervelli. Posada is still doubtful to start Friday’s home series opener against the Chicago White Sox.   . . .   Girardi is a little miffed with Guthrie. The veteran right-hander has hit 17 batters since the the beginning of the 2008 season and nine of them have been Yankees. Guthrie refused to discuss the issue on Thursday but he did tell reporters on Wednesday he did not intend to hit Posada.  . . . CC Sabathia won on Wednesday night to run his career record to 10-1 against the Orioles. Well, A.J. Burnett’s win on Thursday ran his career record against the Orioles to 10-2. He is also 5-0 in seven career starts in Baltimore.  . . .   Trembley took right-hander Matt Albers out of the game with two outs and nobody on base in the eighth inning to have left-hander Alberto Castillo pitch to the lefty swinging Cano. But Cano touched Castillo for his second home run of the game. Trembley told reporters: “We could not get him out, and the way he is hitting right now, no one in the American League is getting him out. He is a quality player.” 
THE NEXT GAME

The New York Yankees, who have only played six home games out of their first 21 games, get to finally return to Yankee Stadium after an 11-day, nine-game road trip. The Yankees will open a three-game weekend series with the Chicago White Sox.
The Yankees will open the series with veteran lefty Andy Pettitte (3-0, 1.29 ERA) on the mound. Pettitte’s 1.29 ERA and his 22 strikeouts in 28 innings are the best totals he has ever had i
n April. Pettitte won his only start in 2009 against the White Sox on July 30 in Chicago. He gave up one unearned run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings and fanned eight batters.
Pettitte will be opposed by veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (0-2, 5.82 ERA). In his last start against Seattle, Garcia retired 18 of the first 19 batters he faced. He gave up two runs on two hits over seven innings. Garcia is 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

‘Real’ Yankees Show Up To Pound Orioles With 15 Hits

GAME 20
YANKEES 8, ORIOLES 3

For those Yankee fans wondering who were those guys who lost four of the their last five games in road grays, the real New Yorkers showed up at Oriole Park on Wednesday night.
Nick Swisher blasted a key two-run triple, A.L. batting leader Robinson Cano added to his increasing legend with a solo home run and CC Sabathia kept the Orioles at bay for 7 2/3 innings as the Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles 8-3.
Sabathia (3-1) ran his career record against the Orioles to 10-1. Though he gave u
p three runs on 11 hits and two walks, Sabathia completed his best month of April in his career with an easy victory. Oriole starter Jeremy Guthrie (0-2) took the loss and now has lost his last five starts against the Yankees.
The Yankees improved their season record to 13-7 but they remain 2 1/2 games behind the A.L. East leading Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles remain in the cellar of the division with a record of 4-17.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • It is nice to see an offense with 15 hits and only Alex Rodriguez failed to get a hit among the regulars who started and played the entire game.
  • Swisher was 3-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs. His second triple of the season in the second inning made the score 4-0. The triple also tied his career high in triples for a season and we are still in April. Swisher raised his batting average to .284.
  • Cano was 2-for-5 and he is leading the American League in hitting with a .390 average. Even on two of his outs, Cano hit the ball hard but right at two Oriole outfielders.
  • Derek Jeter had a 2-for-4 night with a run scored and two RBIs. Jeter’s leadoff double in the first inning really set the tone for the rest of the evening.
  • Francisco Cervelli, who entered the game when Jorge Posada was removed from the game due to an injury, added two hits and he is now hitting .444. Manager Joe Girardi said Cervelli was on the team because of his defense behind the plate and anything he contributed offensively was just gravy. Well, the gravy Cervelli has been adding could cover a mound of mashed potatoes the size of Yankee Stadium.
  • Sabathia did not pitch great but he pitched well enough to get out of trouble in just about every inning. He had only one perfect inning and was aided by a pair of sparkling double plays in the fifth and seventh innings.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Sabathia just did not have his usual swing-and-miss stuff, though he did strike out five batters. The 11 hits were a season high and Nick Markakis contributed three of them, including a solo home run in the seventh inning.
  • Other than his sacrifice fly in the first inning, Rodriguez was 0-4 and he is 0-for-9 in the series.
  • Nick Johnson did contribute a single and a walk but he also struck twice looking. Johnson is going to have to be more aggressive if he wants to raise his average from .143.
  • Mark Teixeira is showing signs of coming out of his April drought. He did hit the ball hard twice and had a single. But he is still hitting a league-worst .133.
  • It was a cold night and there was a hockey playoff game involving the Washington Capitals but the Orioles drawing a crowd of only 17,248 fans — a great deal of them Yankee fans — is a pretty sad state for the proud Orioles’ organization.
DIAMOND NOTES

Johnson was reinserted into the DH spot after not starting the previous three games due to stiffness in his lower back. Girardi had given thought to dropping Johnson lower in the batting order and moving Brett Gardner into the No. 2 spot. But he decided to leave Johnson there and he was 1-for-4.  . . .  Curtis Granderson ended a 0-for-21 drought at the plate with a single in the second inning. He finished the night by going 2-for-5. He is batting .243 on the season. . . .  Posada left the game in the second inning after he was hit on the right knee by a pitch from Guthrie. Posada initially did stay in the game and scored on Swisher’s triple. But he was replaced by Cervelli in the bottom of the second inning. Posada has a contusion on the knee and Girardi said that he doubts Posada will be available to play on Thursday. He is officially listed as day-to-day.  . . .   Chan Ho Park, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain, had an MRI on Wednesday and it showed the same low-grade strain. The Yankees have been puzzled by his lack of progress in his recovery.  . . .  Derek Jeter’s leadoff double in the first inning was another milestone for the Yankee captain. It was the 442nd double of his career and tied him with Don Mattingly for third on the team’s all-time list. Jeter told reporters that “he had no clue of the record.”
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will try to win the three-game series Thursday at Camden Yards with A.J. Burnett (2-0, 3.20 ERA) scheduled to start for Yankees. In his last start, Burnett struggled with his command. He gave up four runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings of a no-decision against the Oakland A’s on April 23. 
Burnett is 9-2 with a 5.23 ERA in 13 career starts against the Orioles. He was 2-1 with a 5.84 ERA last season against them.
The Orioles will start 23-year-old left-hander Brian Matusz (2-0, 4.38 ERA). Matusz was let down by his bullpen in his last start and gave up four runs in six-plus innings against the Red Sox on Saturday. In his only start against the Yankees last season he gave up only one run in seven innings at Yankee Stadium.
Game-time is 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

Bullpen Lets Hughes Down As O’s Edge Yankees

GAME 19
ORIOLES 5, YANKEES 4

By definition a bullpen is supposed to rescue the starter and ultimately save the game. That is why relievers have been likened to firemen.
But the New York Yankees bullpen, of late and on Tuesday night, has been overrun by too many incidents of arson.
And, so it was at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore as David Robertson —  in succession — gave up a game-tying hit to Rhyne Hughes, a go-ahead single to Nolan Reimold and a lead-padding base knock to Cesar Izturis as the Yankee reliever gift-wrapped and handed a 5-4 victory to the Orioles.
Left-hander Alberto Castillo (1-0) pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless — now there is novel concept — relief to earn the victory. Robertson (0-1), who faced five batters and let four of them reach base, took his first loss of the season.
The Yankees season record dropped to 12-7 and they fell 2 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The Orioles, who have spent most of this season quietly leaving for their clubhouse with their equipment after experiencing loss after loss, celebrated only their fourth victory in 20 games.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Though Phil Hughes did not have his best command (four walks), he pitched well enough to deserve a victory. He gave up one run on two hits and fanned two over 5 2/3 innings and left the game with a 2-1 lead.
  • Jorge Posada connected with an errant fastball from Kevin Millwood and blasted his fifth home run of the season to start the fourth inning. That gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.
  • Brett Gardner drove in the Yankees first run in the third inning when third baseman Miguel Tejada misplayed his grounder and allowed Nick Swisher to score.
  • Robinson Cano continued his hot hitting with a 3-for-4 night, all singles. He raised his batting average to a sizzling .389.
  • Swisher also was 3-for-4 and scored two runs. He is hitting .364 on the current road trip.
  • The Yankees put together a nice rally against Orioles so-called “closer du jour” Alfredo Simon in the
    ninth. An Izturis error allowed Swisher to score a run and Mark Teixeira followed with an RBI single to score pinch-runner Ramiro Pena. However, Lugo was able to run out in shallow center to flag down a Rodriguez grounder and force Teixeira at second or Gardner would have scored the tying run.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Boone Logan, Alfredo Aceves and Robertson combined to give up four runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter over 2 1/3 innings.
  • Robertson has been especially bad this season. In seven appearances, he has surrendered six runs on 10 hits and one walk in five innings of work. His season ERA is 10.80.
  • It was a bad night for Derek Jeter, Gardner, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson to go a combined 0-for-19. Jeter and Rodriguez left 10 men on base.
  • Hughes’ only sin was having trouble with the command of his pitches and it cost him in the second inning when he walked Izturis, a career .259 hitter, with the bases loaded on four pitches. Otherwise, Hughes pitched a determined game against a team that was hell-bent to run up his pitch count.
  • A pair of errors led to an unearned run to score in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jeter let a grounder play him and pinch-runner Julio Lugo scored the Orioles’ fifth run with the help of Jorge Posada’s inexplicable toss to second base on a steal attempt that landed in center field, allowing Lugo to take third base. He scored on a single by — you guessed it — Izturis, who drove in three runs on the night.

DIAMOND NOTES

Though he did not start for the third straight game, Nick Johnson did pinch-hit in the ninth inning and — surprise — he drew a walk. Johnson has been sidelined with stiffness in his lower back and he hopes to be able to start on Wednesday.  . . .  The primary name in ketchup, Curt Schilling, is branching out into commenting about things other than himself these days. In an appearance on ESPN Radio on Tuesday, Schilling criticized Javier Vazquez. He said, “I just don’t see him being a consistent winner in the American League.” Vazquez, who admittedly is struggling with a 1-3 record and an ERA of 9.00 in four starts, was 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA in 2007 for the Chicago White Sox. I think the last time I checked that is an American League team. For his part, Vazquez brushed it off. “I guess everybody is entitled to their opinion,” he said. Considering the source, Javier, you have nothing to sweat. Schilling also believes he belongs in the Hall of Fame with a meager 216 wins.  . . .  Chan Ho Park, in Florida trying to rehab his strained right hamstring, felt tightness as he threw off flat ground on Tuesday. This is another setback for the 38-year-old reliever. He will re-evaluated on Wednesday.  . . .  Robinson Cano entered play on Tuesday night with a .404 average against right-hand pitching, the highest mark in the major leagues. He raised it with three more hits off Oriole right-handers.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will play the second game of this last road series of April with CC Sabathia (2-1, 3.00 ERA) on the mound. In his last start, Sabathia pitched eight innings in a losing effort against the Oakland A’s on April 22. Sabathia was 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA in five starts against the Orioles in 2009 and he’s 9-1 with a 2.55 ERA against the in 14 career starts.
The Orioles will counter with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (0-2, 3.46 ERA), who gave up three runs on five hits and two walks over six innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox last Friday. In 12 games (11 starts), Guthrie is 3-6 with a 4.78 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Girardi’s Indecision Allows Morales To Strike Again

GAME 18
ANGELS 8, YANKEES 4

Manager Joe Girardi thinks to walk switch-hitter Kendry Morales, then he thinks to bring in right-hander David Robertson for Damaso Marte and then he thinks to let Marte throw a 3-0 pitch to Morales with the game on line.
The result was not pretty.
Morales blasted a two-out three-run home run to give the Los Angeles Angels a 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
It was Morales’ second game-winning home run of the series. In the three weekend games against the Yankees, he was 7-for-10 with two home runs and six RBIs.
Scott Kazmir (2-1) pitched 5 1/3 shaky innings but still was credited the victory. Javier Vazquez (1-3), who has the distinction of losing half the Yankees’ games this himself, pitched horribly again and was the loser.
The Yankees’ record dropped to 12-6 and they fell 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East standings. The Angels evened their season record to 10-10.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • It is hard to win a game with only three hits, but two of the Yankees’ hitters came to play on Sunday: Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.
  • Cano blasted a solo home run in to the right field stands of Kazmir in the fifth inning to make the score 5-4. Cano now has five home runs and 14 RBIs on the season, both of which lead the team.
  • Posada came up in the second inning after Cano had been hit by a pitch and drilled and two-run home run that gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead on Kazmir. Posada has four home runs and 11 RBIs on the season.
  • Derek Jeter drove in the third run in the second inning by beating out a attempted double play that scored Marcus Thames from third base. Thames had the only other hit in the game for the Yankees with his double off Kazmir after Posada’s home run.
  • Left-hander Boone Logan and right-hander Alfredo Aceves did their job by shutting down the Angels after they had scored five runs off Vazquez. Combined the pair pitched to nine batters and gave up only one hit. That hit was a single by — you guessed it — Morales.
THE NEGATIVES

  • This loss is squarely on the shoulders of Girardi and his indecision in the seventh inning. This is very similar to the loss in Game 3 of the A.L. Championship Series to the Angels. In that game, Girardi replaced a perfectly dominant David Robertson in bottom of the 11th inning to have Aceves pitch to Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis. Both Kendrick and Mathis doubled and the Yankees lost the game 5-4.
  • Vazquez is actually very close to becoming the Yankees’ next version of Ed Whitson, who came to the Yankees in 1985 after a 14-8 record and a 3.24 with San Diego Padres. Whitson was 10-8 with a 4.88 ERA that season and was booed so heavily in 1986 he was sent to the bullpen with an ERA of 7.54. An angry fan actually followed Whitson home after one bad outing and Whitson was quickly traded back to San Diego at midseason.
  • In his three losses, Vazquez has given up 17 runs on 19 hits and eight walks in 14 2/3 innings. That is an ERA of 10.43 and a WHIP of 1.84. 
  • Marte entered the game with a perfect ERA but it was immediately apparent that Marte entered the game without any control. He walked left-hand hitter Bobby Abreu on fi
    ve pitches and hit right-hand hitter Torii Hunter with his second pitch, which lit the fuse in the seventh inning. After forcing Abreu at third an a Matsui slow roller, I was sure that Girardi would have Marte walk Morales so Robertson could come in to pitch to Juan Rivera, who was 2-for-9 in the series and batting 90 points lower than Morales. But I was wrong.
DIAMOND NOTES

Girardi said after the game: “I screwed up, in a sense. I could have done it (walked Morales). Your first instinct is sometimes your best.”  . . .  Bobby Abreu owes Javier Vazquez a nice Christmas card every year. His home run in the third inning was his 10th home run off Vazquez in just 72 at-bats.  . . .  Yankees DH Nick Johnson was not in the lineup on Sunday but said his lower back stiffness was getting better. Johnson said he hopes to play Tuesday when the Yankees open a series with the Orioles in Baltimore.  . . .  The loss on Sunday broke the Yankees’ series winning streak at five. If they had won they would have set a franchise record.  . . .  The loss also means the Yankees have now lost three of their last four games.  . . .  The Yankees stopped to visit the White House on Monday to meet with President Barack Obama. The president honored the Yankees for their 27th world championship in a ceremony in the East Room. He said, “This is a team that goes down to spring training every year expecting to win it all — and more often than not, you guys get pretty close. Of course, if I had [Mariano] Rivera, I’d get pretty close too.” Obama is a devoted fan of his hometown Chicago White Sox. The Yankees presented him with pinstriped No. 27 jersey signed by the team and he posed with the team holding the championship trophy.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees move to their last series in a long 11-day road trip by opening a series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Phil Hughes (2-0, 2.19 ERA) will start for the Yankees. In his last start on April 21, he no-hit the Oakland A’s for seven innings before settling for a 3-1 victory. He is 2-2 with a 6.82 ERA against the Orioles in his career.
The 3-16 Orioles will counter with their ace, Kevin Millwood (0-3, 3.38 ERA). Millwood gave up four runs on six hits and three walks in a loss to the Mariners on April 21. In nine career starts against the Yankees Millwood is 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by the MY9.

Pettitte’s Pitching Dominance Is Hell On Hapless Halos

GAME 17
YANKEES 7, ANGELS 1

Andy Pettitte pitched eight dominant innings and the Nick Swisher and Francisco Cervelli drove in two runs apiece as the New York Yankees thrashed the Los Angeles Angels 7-1 in a nationally broadcast game on Saturday from Angel Stadium in Anaheim, CA.
Pettitte (3-0) stayed perfect on the season, giving up just one run on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. Joel Pineiro (2-2), who defeated the Yankees 6-2 on April 14 in Yankee Stadium, was charged with six earned runs on 11 hits over six innings.
The Yankees tied the three-game series at one apiece and moved their season record to 12-5. They are a half-game in back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East standings. The Angels dropped to 9-10 in the A.L. West.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Pettitte was at his best on Saturday, mixing his pitches and changing his locations on the Angels. A leadoff double by Erick Aybar in the sixth inning led to the shortstop eventually scoring a sacrifice fly by Torii Hunter, which spoiled Pettitte’s bid at a shutout. Pettitte threw 75 strikes out of the 114 pitches he made. He reached three-ball counts on only five of the 28 batters he faced and he retired four of them.
  • Robinson Cano had four of the Yankees’ 14 hits. He was 4-for-5 with four singles, scored three runs and drove in another. Cano raised his batting average to .389.
  • Cervelli, filling in behind the plate for Posada following the night game, delivered the key hit of the game with two out and the bases loaded in the fourth inning. Cervelli slapped a single past Angels third baseman Brandon Wood to score Alex Rodriguez and Cano to make the score 3-0. Pineiro had walked Curtis Granderson intentionally with one out in order to challenge Ramiro Pena and Cervelli instead. Pena struck out but Cervelli spoiled the strategy with his solid single. Cervelli is batting .500 in his limited at-bats this season.
  • Nick Swisher, as expected, has come out of his funk on the road. Swisher was 2-for-4 with two RBIs with an RBI double to open the scoring the second inning and a RBI single in the fourth that built the score to 6-0. Swisher is 5-for-15 on the road trip.
  • Brett Gardner is becoming a big thorn in the side of the Angels. He was 3-for-5 with two singles, a triple, scored two runs and stole his ninth base of the season. In the third inning, the left fielder threw Angels catcher Mike Napoli out at third trying to take an extra base on a single by Wood.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Ramiro Pena, playing third base while Rodriguez took a half-day off as the team’s DH, was 0-for-4 on the day and struck out badly in the fourth inning with the bases loaded. He swung at a Pineiro pitch that actually bounced in front of the plate. But, in defense of Pena, he did make a great leaping grab of a line drive off the bat of Juan Rivera in the second inning that robbed Rivera of a sure hit.
  • Rodriguez struck out twice looking in the game. Once in the fifth by Pineiro and once in the seventh by reliever Scot Shields. He stranded two runners in scoring position in the process.
  • Though Mark Teixeira did have an RBI double in the seventh inning, he was 1-for-5 in the game and his average is now a paltry .123.
  • Cervelli did pull a base-running blunder in the fourth inning. Derek Jeter singled to score Curtis Granderson but Hunter threw out Cervelli trying to take an extra base on the play. He was out by 30 feet at third base.
DIAMOND NOTES

Angels catcher Bobby Wilson, who was bowled over at home plate by Teixeira in the third inning of Friday’s 6-4 victory over the Yankees, was placed on the 15-day disabled list and replaced on the roster by catcher Ryan Budde. CT scans on Wilson’s left ankle were inconclusive because of swelling and he is scheduled for an MRI for Monday.  . . .   Teixeira said he feels “horrible” about the injury to Wilson, who was briefly his teammate in Los Angeles in 2008. Teixeira said he tried calling the Angels clubhouse and left messages for Wilson but has not heard back. “I hope he is doing all right.”  . . .  If you need any more proof of Pettitte being historically strong in April, he now leads all active major-league pitchers with 29 career wins in the month. His 1.29 ERA is the lowest he has ever had in April.  . . .  Oft-injured DH Nick Johnson will be out of the lineup until at least Tuesday with lower back stiffness. Johnson incurred the injury while taking extra batting practice before Friday’s series opener. Johnson was 1-for-4 on Friday but treatment on his back prior to Saturday’s game failed to relieve the stiffness. Manager Joe Girardi opted to give Rodriguez a half-day off as the team’s DH and shift Gardner to Johnson’s No. 2 spot in the order.  . . .  FOX play-by-play man Joe Buck did the national broadcast of the game and did his usual number of unloading subtle shots at the Yankees throughout the game. Twice in the early going he reminded viewers that the Yankees “had blown a 3-1 lead” in Friday’s game and lost to the Angels. Well, Joe, that 3-1 lead lasted for about two minutes before the Angels scored three runs in the next half-inning to make the score 4-3. In fact, Nick Swisher tied the game in the fourth inning and it stayed tied until the two-run home run by Kendry Morales in the eighth inning that won it. Shouldn’t you have mentioned that the Angels blew a 4-3 lead, Joe? Buck also got really excited in the fifth inning when a 2-2 pitch from Pineiro came close to the inside corner on Rodriguez as if he expected the pitch to be called a strike. It wasn’t. But Buck got his chance to rejoice happily when Rodriguez watched the next pitch be called strike three with a Gardner still stranded at third. But, once the Yankees took the lead over the Angels to 6-0, Buck not only stopped taking his usual subtle digs at the Yankees, he became pretty disinterested in the game altogether. Buck has stated many times publicly that he actually dislikes baseball and he only broadcasts games in honor of the legacy of his late father, Jack.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees have won all five of their season series. They are the first team since the 1926 Yankees to do it. Now they will go for No. 6 on Sunday against the Angels with Javier Vazquez on the mound. 
Vazquez (1-2, 8.27) is trying to iron out his problem of rushing his delivery. In his last game on Tuesday he beat the Athletics, giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings. But he also gave up two home runs and he hopes to do better. He is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in five career starts against the Angels.
The Angels will start left-hander Scott Kazmir (1-1, 7.45 ERA). Kazmir altered his delivery in his last start and earned his first career victory at Angel Stadium against Detroit on Tuesday. Kazmir is 6-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 16 appearances against the Yankees. However, of late, Kazmir has not pitched well against the Yankees. On April 15, the Yankees tagged him for six runs on eights hits and three walks in four-plus innings in a 6-2 loss in Yankee Stadium.
Game-time will be 3:35 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Morales’ Eighth Inning Blast Powers Halos Over Yankees

Transmission of this report was delayed due to time constraints.


GAME 16
ANGELS 6, YANKEES 4

Kendry Morales connected with a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Joba Chamberlain as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the New York Yankees 6-4 on Friday night at Angels Stadium in Anahaim, CA.
Reliever Fernando Rodney (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to get credit for the victory. Left-hander Brian Fuentes pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his second save of the season. Chamberlain (0-1) took the loss, only the second loss from a member of the Yankees bullpen this season.
The loss was also the first time this season the Yankees have lost two consecutive games. Their season record dropped to 11-5 and they are a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The Angels evened their record to 9-9 in the A.L. West.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter combined to tie the game at 1-1 in the third inning when they hit back-to back doubles off Angels starter Ervin Santana. 
  • With two outs in the third inning, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back RBI singles to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
  • Nick Swisher connected on a fat 1-0 fastball off Santana in the fourth inning and registered his second home run of the season to tie the game at 4-4.
  • Though A.J. Burnett struggled with his command all night and had two bad innings, he did manage to pitch very well in other 4 1/3 innings he pitched. In those innings he faced 16 batters, retired 13 of them, gave up only two hits, walked one and hit a batter. 
  • Jorge Posada did something unusual for him when he catches against the aggressive Angels: He threw out Bobby Abreu attempting to steal in the seventh inning.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Burnett two bad innings were bad enough. In those two innings he gave up four runs on seven hits and a second hit batter. With a 3-2 lead and two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the third inning, in succession, he hit Kendry Morales with a pitch and gave up back-to-back RBI doubles to Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis.
  • Chamberlain simply did not have his usual command when he entered the game in the eighth inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Hideki Matsui and then surrendered the two-run home run to Morales that lost the game. Morales is 5-for-7 with two home runs off Chamberlain in his career.
  • Teixeira continues his month-long slide. He was 0-for-4 and his average dropped to .117. His worst at bat was in the fourth inning with two outs and Jeter at third and Nick Johnson at first. Teixeira struck out with his bat on his shoulder. The good news is May is just one week away. Hang in there, Mark!
  • Posada, who came in hitting .348, was also 0-for-4 and his average fell to .320.
  • The Yankee offense, as a whole, took a long siesta after Swisher’s solo home run tied it in the fourth inning. From that point on the Yankees managed just two hits, three walks and a hit batsman.
DIAMOND NOTES

Some Angels players and fans were angry with Teixeira for his collision with Angels catcher Bobby Wilson at home plate in the third inning. Wilson had to leave the game immediately for CT scans for a concussion and a left ankle injury. However, replays showed the throw from Bobby Abreu bounced up and Wilson moved back towards the plate when Teixeira collided with him. Teixeira had no idea the ball would carom off Wilson’s mask and properly tried to jar the ball loose. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said “It was a clean play. No doubt about it.”  . . .  Wilson’s CT scan for a concussion was negative and the results of the left ankle screening will be released later. Mike Napoli replaced Wilson behind the plate. The Angles recently lost starting catcher Jeff Mathis to a broken right wrist and he is on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to miss up to 6-8 weeks. Wilson was starting his first game of the season.  . . .  It was it little off-putting that Angels broadcasters Victor Rojas and Mark Gubicza seemed to be implying that the four hit batsman (two for each side) could have been deliberate. Considering that Burnett and Santana combined to give up eight earned runs on 12 hits and five walks, I would think that both pitchers’ lack of command were evidence in itself they were not trying to hit anyone. With the erratic command Burnett had on Friday he likely would have missed if he tried to hit a batter.  . . .  Chan Ho Park’s right hamstring is not responding to treatment as quickly as the Yankees would like and they will send the veteran right-hander to Tampa, FL after the series with the Angels concludes on Sunday. Park was placed on the disabled list April 16 and he was scheduled to throw a bullpen session in Baltimore on Tuesday. But, Park instead requested he be sent to Tampa to work out in warmer weather.  . . .  In the wake of Dallas Braden’s diatribe against Alex Rodriguez for breaking an unwritten “rule” of running over the pitcher’s mound in Oakland on Thursday, Braden said Rodriguez “should take note from his captain.” However, Jeter squarely stands behind Rodriguez. As for the so-called rule about running over the mound, Jeter said “I never heard that.” He also said Braden’s statements were “out there.” When asked about the controversy again on Friday, Rodriguez refused to comment further.

Despite Triple Play Yankees, Sabathia Fall To Athletics

GAME 15
ATHLETICS 4, YANKEES 2

Home may be where the heart is but for CC Sabathia home also is his Waterloo.
Sabathia, a native of nearby Vallejo, CA, gave up a three-run home run in the first inning and the New York’s offense could not overcome it as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Yankees 4-2 Thursday afternoon at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Dallas Braden (3-0) pitched six solid innings for the victory. Andrew Bailey pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save. Sabathia (2-1) took the loss and his career record at the Coliseum is now 2-5.
The loss snapped the Yankees’ six-game winning streak and dropped their season record to 11-4. They also slipped a half-game in back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The Athletics improved their record to 10-7 in the A.L. West.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Marcus Thames, inserted into the lineup as additional right-handed hitter against the lefty Braden, touched Braden for a solo home run to left in the fifth inning. Thames is batting .500 on the season.
  • Mark Teixeira hit his second home run of the season in the sixth inning to cut the Yankees’ deficit to two runs.
  • Francisco Cervelli was used to catch Sabathia for the third time this season and give Jorge Posada a rest after a night game. But he had a great game, too. He was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and a single. He also threw out Kevin Kouzmanoff at second base with a laser-like throw in the fourth inning.
  • On defense, Alex Rodriguez engineered the first triple play in Yankees’ history since 1968 in the sixth inning. Sabathia gave up a single to Daric Barton, threw a wild pitch to allow him to move to second and then walked Ryan Sweeney. But Suzuki followed with a grounder to Rodriguez that took him to the third base bag. Rodriguez stepped onto third base to retire Barton, fired to Robinson Cano to get Sweeney and Cano relayed to Nick Johnson at first in time to beat Suzuki.
  • Though Sabathia did not pitch well, he kept his pitch count down enough to be able to complete eight innings and allowed the bullpen to rest going into the weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Control was Sabathia’s undoing in this game. He walked Rajai Davis and Sweeney in the first inning and Suzuki made him pay with a three-run home run. Sabathia walked a total of six batters in the game.
  • Cano was unable to turn a routine double play in the fourth inning and his relay to first skipped into the Yankees’ dugout. Later Adam Rosales cashed in the error by hitting a sacrifice fly that extended the lead to 4-0.
  • The Yankees’ No. 9, No. 1 and No. 2 hitters — Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter and Johnson — combined to go 0-for-10 in the game.
  • Braden managed to make most of the Yankee hitters look silly all day by throwing change-up after change-up after change-up. He struck out only two batters but he also induced some easy outs with the pitch.
  • The Yankees also killed themselves with two ill-timed double plays. In the fifth inning the Yankees scored on Thames’ leadoff homer and Cervelli singled. But Gardner killed the rally by hitting into a rare double play. In the sixth inning, it happened again. After Teixeira’s one-out home run, Alex Rodriguez singled. However, Cano hit into an inning-ending double play. 
DIAMOND NOTES

Braden is 26 years old but in the sixth in
ning he acted like a two-year-old by yelling at Rodriguez after the A’s completed a double play to retire Rodriguez at second and Cano at first. Braden was upset because of what happened just prior to the double play. When Cano had hit a looping ball to left that just fell into foul territory. Rodriguez, who was running from first base, rounded third base and then jogged back to first over the mound. Braden claimed it was a violation of an unwritten rule in baseball. Braden told Rodriguez to “get off his mound.” Rodriguez was amused by the incident and put the pitcher properly in his place: “I’d never quite heard that, especially from a guy who has just a handful of wins. I thought it was pretty funny actually.”  . . .  The Yankees decided to give Teixeira a “half-day” off by starting him at designated hitter and playing Johnson at first base.  . . .  The Yankees’ last triple play before Thursday’s gem occurred on June 3, 1968 against the Twins with a line drive off the bat of Johnny Roseboro. The play went 1-5-3 — pitcher Dooley Womack to third baseman Bobby Cox and on to first baseman Mickey Mantle.  . . .  The Yankees presented the ball they used to record the triple play to Rodriguez after the game. Rodriguez indicated he will keep the ball.   . . .  Despite the loss Thursday, the Yankees still tied an all-time franchise mark set in 1926 by winning their first five series to start the season. Only one other team has started the season with as many as four series wins to open a season — the 1922 Yankees.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will fly to Anaheim, CA to begin a three-game weekend series with the Los Angeles Angels beginning on Friday. The Yankees will open the series with right-hander A.J. Burnett (2-0, 2.37 ERA) on the mound. Burnett earned his second victory with seven scoreless innings in his last start on Saturday against the Rangers. He was 1-0 with a 4.26 ERA in two starts against the Angels last season.
Burnett will be opposed by right-hander Ervin Santana (1-2, 4.35 ERA). Santana came within one pitch of a shutout on Sunday in Toronto. But he gave up a solo home run to Adam Lind and settled for a 3-1 victory. The Yankees touched him for five runs in 5 2/3 innings in a loss on April 13 in New York. Santana is 5-3 with a 5.60 ERA in nine career starts against the Yankees.
Game-time is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Hughes’ No-Hit Bid Falls Short But Yankees Trip Up A’s

GAME 14
YANKEES 3, ATHLETICS 1

The long wait for Phil Hughes to arrive is over.
Hughes pitched 7 1/3 innings of no-hit baseball but had to settle for a 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Hughes (2-0) was dominant throughout, striking out a career-high 10 batters and walking two, before giving up a comeback single off the bat of Eric Chavez that ricocheted off Hughes and the right-hander was unable to locate it in time.
Back-to-back triples by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano and an RBI groundout by Jorge Posada in the fourth inning off Ben Sheets (1-1) gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead they maintained until the bottom of the eighth.
Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth and earned his sixth save of the season.
The victory was the Yankees’ sixth straight and their ninth in their last 10 games. Their record is now 11-3 and they lead the A.L. East by a half game over the Tampa Bay Rays. The A’s dropped to 9-7 in the A.l. West.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Hughes was magnificent. He threw 70 strikes in 101 pitches and made the A’s look like a minor-league team. His only blemishes were a four-pitch walk to Daric Barton in the first, the Chavez single and a walk to Gabe Gross in the eighth inning. For those who have been waiting for the No. 1 draft pick of 2004 to make his mark in the majors, the time is now. Hughes, who has been compared to Roger Clemens by scouts, may prove to be a ace of the future at age 23.
  • Rodriguez was 2-for-4 and his triple started the Yankees scoring in the fourth inning. He scored the first run when Cano followed with his triple. 
  • After going into a 1-for-12 funk, Cano rebounded with a 2-for-4 night with an RBI and a run scored. Cano also singled and stole a base in the second inning but was left stranded at third.
  • Brett Gardner continues to impress with his hitting. With two outs and a 3-2 count on him in the ninth inning, he singled to left off A’s reliever Tyson Ross to score Curtis Granderson with an important insurance run for the Yankees. Gardner was on base three times in his four at bats with two singles and a walk. He is hitting .333 on the season batting in the ninth spot.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Same old Nick Johnson. He walked in his first two at-bats and he now leads the American League with 18 walks on the season. But he was also 0-for-3 and his average dropped to .136. 
  • Mark Teixeira also had a rough night at the plate — which is nothing new for the first baseman when it comes to April. He was 0-for-4 and struck out twice and is now hitting .115. Come on, May!
  • Randy Winn got a rare start in right field and he was 0-for-4. He is now 0-for-10 with four strikeouts on the season. He is looking pretty overmatched at the plate, too.
  • Joba Chamberlain allowed Chavez to score Oakland’s only run by giving up a line-drive single to center by pinch-hitter Jake Fox in the bottom of the eighth. Chamberlain has been great this season, it is just that Hughes deserved to keep the shutout.
  • Mariano Rivera was off a bit in his command, giving up a single and hitting a batter in the ninth inning. It is unusual for Rivera to need 25 pitches to earn a save. But he preserved the victory just the same. 

DIAMOND NOTES

Nick Swisher, who snapped a 0-for-19 slump with a two-run single on Tuesday night, was not in the lineup Wednesday night. Manager Joe Girardi said it was a planned day off to allow Winn to get some at-bats.  . . .  Hughes, a native of Santa Ana, CA, pitched his near gem Thursday night in front of his parents, Phil Jr. and Dori.  . . .   Hughes has been down the no-hit road b
efore. In his second major-league start on May 1, 2007, Hughes pitched 6 1/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Texas Rangers. However, he was forced to leave the game with a strained left hamstring.  . . .  Girardi summed up Hughes’ performance: “It was a brilliant performance.”  . . .   General manager Brain Cashman left the Bronx to cross into Queens to give Xavier Nady his World Series ring. Nady, who is now with the Cubs, was in town as his team visits the New York Mets at Citi Field.  . . .  Maybe the Yankees’ new theme song should be “Walk This Way.” Entering Wednesday’s game the Yankees led the majors with 71 walks. 
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will go for the second consecutive series sweep on Thursday with nearby Vallejo, CA, native CC Sabathia on the mound. Sabathia (2-0, 2.84 ERA) is coming off a dominant rain-shortened performance over the Texas Rangers. After giving a run in the first inning he retired 17 of the next 19 batters he faced and struck out nine. 
However, Sabathia has never fared too well pitching in his hometown. He is 5-7 with a 5.80 ERA overall against the A’s. At Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum he is 2-4 with a 6.35 ERA.
The A’s will start young left-hander Dallas Braden (2-0, 2.70 ERA). Braden is coming off a victory over the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up two runs in seven innings and struck out four. Braden, however, has struggled against the Yankees in his four appearances (one start). He is 0-1 with 7.71 ERA.
Game-time is 3:35 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Yankees Win Fifth Straight By Walking Past Athletics

GAME 13
YANKEES 7, ATHLETICS 3

The New York Yankees have turned walking into an art form.
Drawing 10 walks from the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, the Yankees made the A’s pay as five of them scored runs in a 7-3 victory at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. 
Javier Vazquez (1-2) pitched 5 1/3 innings for his first win of the season. Gio Gonzalez (1-1) was charged with the loss.
With the victory the Yankees too sole possession of first place in the American League East with a 10-3 record. The Athletics dropped to 9-6 in the A.L. West.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Vazquez, despite giving up a solo home run to Travis Buck in the fourth and a two-run home run to Kurt Suzuki in the fifth, pitched much better than he has all season. He gave up six hits and three walks and struck out six batters.
  • Jorge Posada was 1-for-5 and drove in two runs. His infield single with the bases loaded in the first inning scored the first run of the game. His fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded in the seventh scored the Yankees’ last run of the game. 
  • Alex Rodriguez made Gonzalez pay for giving up consecutive walks to Nick Johnson and Mark Teiixeira in the fifth inning, his fourth and fifth walks of the game. Rodriguez greeted reliever Craig Breslow with a three-run home run that made the score 6-0. It was the second home run of the season and the 585th of his career for Rodriguez.
  • The Yankees No 2 through No. 5 hitters walked nine times in the game. Rodriguez and Robinson Cano walked three times apiece.
  • Nick Swisher contributed a two-run single with the bases loaded and two out in the first inning. It broke an 0-for-16 skid for Swisher.
  • Joba Chamberlain preserved the game for the Yankees when he entered the game in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and two outs and the Yankees leading 7-3. Chamberlain fanned Kevin Kouzmanoff swinging to end the threat. He went on to pitch a perfect eighth inning. He struck three of the four batters he faced and he lowered his season ERA to 2.35.
  • Mariano Rivera needed only 10 pitches retire the side after coming in with a man on and no outs in the ninth. He struck out Cliff Pennington and induced pinch-hitter Gabe Gross to bounce into a game-ending double play.
  • The Yankees did not commit an error for the 11 straight game. They set a record with 16 consecutive errorless games last season.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Though Yankee pitchers combined to strike out 11 batters, they also gave up five walks. Vazquez left the game in the fifth inning because he was already at 102 pitches thrown.
  • Derek Jeter entered the game with a .
    380 average and ended his night hitting .345 because he was 0-for-5.
  • Nick Johnson did walk twice and score two runs but he also failed to get a hit in the game and his batting average slipped to .158.
  • Cano had a no contact night. He walked three times and struck out twice. After a fast start, Cano has just one hit in his last 12 at-bats. His average fell to .327.
  • Boone Logan, making his first appearance this season, started off well enough by retiring the first two hitters he faced. But he then gave up singles to Rajai Davis and Daric Barton and walked Ryan Sweeney to load the bases. Chamberlain had to bail him out to keep Oakland from getting back into the game.
DIAMOND NOTES

Before the game manager Joe Girardi presented Edwar Ramirez and Chad Gaudin with their World Series rings. The former Yankees, who now pitch for the A’s, were mobbed by their ex-teammates and congratulated for their contributions to the Yankees’ championship season.  . . .   The Yankees turned three double plays including two key double plays initiated by Javier Vazquez.  . . .  Rodriguez’s 585 home run leaves him just one shy of Frank Robinson in seventh place on the all-time home run list.  . . .  Home plate umpire Ed Rapuano was forced to leave the game in the fifth innings two batters after he was struck in the mask with a foul ball off the bat of Kouzmanoff. After Suzuki’s two-run home run and with a 1-0 count on Eric Chavez, Rapuano left the field and was replaced behind the plate by Ron Kulpa, causing a 13-minute delay in the game. Rapuano was taken by ambulance to Summitt Medical Center for a CT scan.  Results were not available Wednesday morning.  
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will try to run their winning streak to six games On Wednesday with Phil Hughes (1-0, 3.60 ERA) on the mound. Hughes won his 2010 debut with five-plus innings against the Angels. It will be Hughes’ first start against the A’s.
Hughes will be opposed by veteran right-hander Ben Sheets (1-0 2.65 ERA), who tossed six scoreless innings in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles. He has not started against the Yankees since 2005.
Game-time is 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Red Sox Seem Ready To Fall Into The Abyss – And I Love It

COMMENTARY


Woe is Red Sox Nation.
There it was in black in white: RAYS 8, RED SOX 2. The Rays completed a rare four-game sweep at Fenway Park on Monday and all of Beantown is abuzz with the same question: What is wrong with our Sawx?
Well, I think I have an answer or two or three. Having watch the Red Sox grow from nothing but a slight annoyance to Yankee fans to Curse-killing “idiots” in 2004 to legitimate foes through 2007, I know just a bit about this team I love to hate.
For one thing they built a team on a pair of fearsome hitters. ManRam and Papi were a pretty fearsome duo but now one is gone and one is showing signs that he can’t do it without steroids anymore.
They also built their team on pitchers like Pedro and Schilling. Those guys are long gone and the new generation may have the credentials to be good. But are they good? 
There was a big lineup once there. Now there is not. They can defend perhaps a bit better. But what difference does it make when your center fielder makes a fabulous diving grab when you losing by six runs?
Such is the state of Red Sox Nation.
Radio talk shows are buzzing, the sports writers are speculating and the fans are ready for Theo, David Ortiz, Terry Francona, J.D. Drew and Mr. Henry himself to walk a plank into the Charles River.
Jerry Remy said it today. He said that player-for-player the Tampa Bay Rays are better at every facet of the game than the Red Sox. Blasphemy? Nope, just a does of reality.
The seeds of the demise of the Red Sox were sown when Manny went off the deep end and forced the team to dump him. Jason Bay was a nicer fellow. He made a nice Band-Aid to patch the wound. But his departure this winter was the clarion call that this team was not going to overpay to keep him.
It is a nice stand to take but, at the same time, the Red Sox were signing free agents like crazy: John Lackey costs $80 million, Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre. The payroll leaped to $160 million but they could not afford Bay. Huh?
Once you decide to pay a player a princely sum it is hard to tell another you won’t. That is a little like being a “little” pregnant. 
Then there was the Mike Lowell debacle. Lowell was a loyal foot soldier for the Red Sox and worked his bones to dust, literally, helping this team win. But the Red Sox wanted Kevin Youkilis at third and San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez at first. It was no secret. 
But Lowell’s deal to Texas went sour because of a thumb ligament and now the Red Sox are stuck with him and his bloated contract on the bench. Theo Epstein is probably cursing the Texas Rangers’ physician for gumming up his master plan. Now Theo is likely sucking his thumb and trying to think where he put that darn gorilla suit.
Then there is that ridiculous mistake of paying a Japanese pitcher way too much money for way to little in return on the mound. Dice-K? It should be DL-K because he has spent so much time on it and collecting hefty checks that Carl Pavano is impressed.
Finally we come to David Ortiz, the 800-pound gorilla in the park. He struggled mightily for two months last season and then sort of got better in June. So the Red Sox front office chose to ignore the signs their star slugger was losing it (like his .249 average) and stuck with him this off-season.
Now Ortiz is hitting .158 with two RBIs batting fifth and it is obvious that the fastballs he used to crush into the Boston night sky are ending up in the gloves of opposition catchers. They are also being thrown by some rather pedestrian pitchers. They are the kind of pitchers that Manny and Papi used to eat for breakfast.
Now these same pitchers are stealing Papi’s lunch money and he is walking back to the dugout like he wants his mother to intercede to get it back.
Nope, this Red Sox team appears to missing a lot. Jacoby Ellsbury is hurt, Cameron has a kidney stone, V-Mart is hitting .212, Drew is hitting .146, Lackey’s ERA is 5.63 and Lester is 0-3 with a 8.44 ERA.
It is only April and there is a chance things will improve for the Red Sox. I mean, the Yankees got off to slow starts in the past and they always came back to wrestle the division away for the Red Sox when it counted.
But the problem is not just the Yankees. It is the Rays. They have proven they can throw their weight around in this division and the Red Sox know very well that if the Yankees and the Rays take a big lead on them that it will be much harder to come back.
Kirk Minihane probably put it best this morning: “But something doesn’t quite feel right about the 2010 Red Sox, does it? I’m having trouble putting a finger on exactly what it is.”

I am not sure even Francona and Epstein know what it is yet. I do know that if they do not find out real soon and fix it, the Red Sox will be playing for 2011. For a Yankee fan like me that just feels great.
Life in third place is just the humbling the Red Sox and their insufferable Nation need.

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