July 2010

A-Rod Homerless Still But Helps Yankees Pound Tribe


GAME 100
YANKEES 8, INDIANS 0

Alex Rodriguez’s quest for his 600th home run took a back seat again on Wednesday night.

Though Rodriguez contributed a single and a double and an RBI, he was just part of the 13-hit attack that buried Fausto Carmona and Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. A.J. Burnett and two relievers did the rest as the Yankees shut out the Tribe.

Burnett (9-8) held the Indians scoreless on seven hits and three walks and struck out seven batters over 6 1/3 innings to earn his third victory in last four starts. Joba Chamberlain and Sergio Mitre combined to give up one hit and one walk over the final 2 2/3 innings to complete the shutout.

The Yankees’ offense, which was held to just four runs on nine hits in the first two games against the Indians, jumped on Carmona (10-8) for seven runs on 10 hits and one walk in only 2 2/3 innings. It was the shortest outing of the season for Carmona, who was the Indians’ lone representative on the American League All-Star team. 
Besides Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner had two hits apiece. Cano blasted his 19th home run off reliever Hector Ambriz to lead off the fourth inning.
The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 64-36 and they remain two games in front of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.
The Indians’ record dropped to 42-59.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • After a horrific June in which he was 0-5 with an 11.35 ERA, Burnett completed July with a 3-1 record and a 2.00 ERA. He also carries a streak of 11 1/3 scoreless innings in his last two starts.
  • Rodriguez started the eight-run assault on the Indians with a single following a two-out double by Teixeira. Rodriguez has 82 RBIs on the season and he is second in the majors and in the A.L. to Miguel Cabrera (89) of the Tigers.
  • Teixeira contributed a two-run single with two outs in the second inning that put the Yankees ahead 4-0. Teixiera is hitting .368 with seven home runs and 24 RBIs in July. He also is second on the team in RBIs with 72.
  • You ever wonder why opposing teams play Cano straight up? Well, in the third inning Cano doubled high off the left-field wall, narrowly missing a home run. The next inning his 19th home run went into the bleachers in right-field. He also hit balls hard in the first and ninth innings that took good catches by left-fielder Austin Kearns to deny him what would have been two more hits.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Burnett actually earned his shutout because he pitched under duress by allowing base-runners in every inning. In fact, in the first five innings, Burnett allowed the leadoff man to reach base.  The Yankees helped him by turning two double plays and Francisco Cervelli gunned down Trevor Crowe on an attempted steal in the first inning.
  • Derek Jeter was the only starter not to get a base hit. The Captain was 0-for-5 including two strikeouts. His batting average dropped to .277. After hitting .242 in June, Jeter is batting .243 in July.
  • After Jorge Posada singled following Cano’s home run in the fourth inning, the offense fell silent the rest of the night. The Yankees managed only a Rodriguez double to lead off the sixth inning. As a team the Yankees were 1-for-20 with five strikeouts against four Indians relievers.
DIAMOND NOTES

The closest Rodriguez came to hitting No. 600 was with two out and nobody on in the eighth inning. Rodriguez battled right-hander Frank Herrmann in a 10-pitch at-bat with Rodriguez sending the final pitch to the warning track in right-field, where it was caught by Shelley Duncan. Since he hit No. 599 on July 22 against the Royals, Rodriguez is 8-for-26 (.308) with three doubles and five RBIs.  But the 26 at-bat homer drought is longer than any of the six previous players to hit 600 home runs. It took Willie Mays 21 at-bats to do it in 1969.  . . .  Posada returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Wednesday after having been scratched from Tuesday’s game because a recurring soreness behind his left knee due to a cyst. Posada was the DH in the game and Cervelli was behind the plate. He is day-to-day as far as catching is concerned.  
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will try to win the four-game series against the Indians on Thursday with Dustin Moseley making his Yankee debut as a starter.
Moseley (0-0, 4.22 ERA) was selected over Mitre to start the game because Mitre gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first appearance coming off the disabled list with a left oblique strain. Moseley has pitched 10 2/3 innings in four appearances and batters are hitting .188 against him.  He is 3-0 with a 4.35 ERA against the Indians in his career.
The Indians are starting right-hander Mitch Talbot (8-9, 4.08 ERA). Talbot gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk with a career-high eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings against the Rays in his last start.  Talbot is 0-1 with a 4.26 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Granderson’s 2-Run Blast Gives Yankees Victory Over Tribe

GAME 98
YANKEES 3, INDIANS 2

As July started it seemed all the focus of Yankee fans was on the struggles of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. As those players started getting hotter than the weather and with the team in first place, Curtis Granderson stayed under the radar.

After Monday night, it is pretty safe to say Yankee fans are beginning to see the real Curtis Granderson.

It was Granderson’s two-run home run with no outs in the eighth inning off Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook (6-7) that gave the New York Yankees a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

It was Granderson’s third home run in two days and he is 18-for-52 (.346) in his last 14 games. That has raised his season batting average from .225 for .249.

Granderson’s 421-foot blast into the right-field bleachers at Progressive Field made a winner out of Javier Vazquez (9-7). Vazquez held the Indians to two runs on five hits and three walks over seven-plus innings of work.

Vazquez was touched for a solo home run by DH Travis Hafner with one out in the second inning and a two-out RBI double Shin-Soo Choo in the sixth inning that gave the Indians a 2-1 lead. But Granderson’s heroics after a leadoff walk to Jorge Posada from Westbrook turned the game around.

Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 21st save in 23 chances. 

Alex Rodriguez, who was hit in the left forearm and hand by a pitch in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game against the Royals, started at third base and hit fourth on Monday night to resume his quest for his 600th home run. But he finished the night 0-for-4.

The victory ran the Yankees’ season record to 63-35 and a season-high 28 games over .500. The Yankees also maintained their three-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East.

The Indians’ season record fell to 41-58.

YANKEE POSITIVES

  • N
    ick Swisher continued his fine season with a solo home run off Wesrbrook in the fourth inning. The home run was Swisher’s 18th of the season and he now has 59 RBIs, which is fourth on the team. 
  • Granderson’s home run actually followed an at-bat in which he just missed a home run in the fifth inning when his line drive hit the top of the right-field wall. The ball caromed directly to Choo in right-field and Choo made a throw to Jason Donald at second base, where umpire Dale Scott called Granderson out trying to stretch the single into a double. However, replays of the play showed Granderson’s foot hit the base before Donald tagged him.
  • Jorge Posada had a good night at the plate. He battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk off Westbrook in the fifth inning. He then made it to third base on Granderson’s hit off the wall but the blown call from Dale Scott and a strikeout by Francisco Cervelli left him stranded at third. Posada also singled to left to lead off the eighth inning and scored on Granderson’s home run.
  • Protecting a 2-1 lead, manager Joe Girardi went to the bullpen when Javier Vazquez walked Michael Brantley to start the eighth inning. Instead of Joba Chamberlain, Girardi turned to David Robertson to induce a double-play grounder from Asdrubal Cabrera and left-hander Boone Logan to strike out Choo. 
THE NEGATIVES

  • The Yankees made Westbrook look like Roy Halladay for the first seven innings of the game. They only managed two hits and two walks off the veteran right-hander. Derek Jeter, Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Cervelli and Brett Gardner were a combined 0-for-16 off Westbrook, who started the game with a 4.74 ERA this season and a 5.29 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
  • Vazquez pitched exceptionally well and gave the Yankees seven good innings but he made two terrible mistakes that cost him. He left a fastball over the plate to Hafner and Hafner crushed it for his ninth home run of the season. Then he left a 3-2 fastball up in the zone to Choo, who doubled in the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning. 
  • Mark Teixeira committed a base-running blunder in the fourth inning. After drawing a walk, Teixeira ran to second on a line-drive to left off the bat of Rodriguez that Crowe just barely got his glove under. Instead of running back to first, Teixeira stayed at second to argue the out call only to be tagged out as Crowe threw to Jason Donald at second. The umpires conferred and ruled it a legal catch. Thus Teixeira was out on the double play.
DIAMOND NOTES

Girardi announced that Dustin Moseley would start for the Yankees on Thursday against the Indians instead of Sergio Mitre. Mitre, who was activated off the disabled list on Saturday to replace Andy Pettitte in the rotation, gave up seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Moseley came on to replace Mitre in the game and pitched 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and only gave up a single and walk over that span.  . . .   Rodriguez failed to hit his 600th home run at age 34. Rodriguez turns 35 on Tuesday and he has a full year to worry about being the youngest player to hit 600 home runs. Babe Ruth hit his 600th at age 36.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the Indians on Tuesday with former Indians ace CC Sabathia on the mound for them.
Sabathia (13-3, 3.18 ERA) has given up three runs and four walks in both of his outings after the All-Star break. However, Sabathia still has not lost a game since May 23 when the Mets defeated him 6-4.  That is 11 straight starts without a loss. Sabathia is 1-0 with a 4.34 ERA against his former team.
Sabathia will be opposed by rookie right-hander Josh Tomlin, who will be making his major-league debut on Tuesday. Tomlin, a 19th-round selection in the Major League First-Year Player Draft in 2006, was 8-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 20 appearances (17 starts) for Triple-A Columbus this season.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by MY9.

While A-Rod Waits Yanks Dump Royals In ‘Grand’ Style

GAME 97
YANKEES 12, ROYALS 6

You never quite know what you are going to see at Yankee Stadium.
Hoping to see Alex Rodriguez’s historic 600th home run on Sunday, 47,890 fans instead saw a home run derby between Scott Podsednik and Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano’s 1,000th major-league hit and the Yankees score five runs in the eighth inning to finally put away the Kansas City Royals.
Rodriguez’s quest for No. 600 during the Yankees’ homestand was not to be, although he did go 2-for-4 with two RBIs before getting his third RBI the hard way in his last at-bat in the eighth. Reliever Blake Wood hit Rodriguez on his left forearm and hand and Rodriguez was removed from the game.
Meanwhile, Granderson seemingly awoke from his season-long slump to contribute a pair of solo home runs in the third and fourth innings.  Not to be outdone, Scott Podsednik, who entered the game with three home runs, clubbed two home runs for the Royals and drove in four of their six runs.
Phil Hughes (12-3) got credit for the victory. He gave up three runs in six hits and no walks and fanned three batters in five innings. His outing was cut short by a two hour and 32 minute rain delay. 
Sean O’Sullivan (1-1), who was bidding to beat the Yankees twice within six days with two different teams, took the loss. The right-hander, making his first start with the Royals after being traded from the Los Angeles Angels last week, was tagged five runs on seven hits in five innings.
With the victory the Yankees won the four-game weekend series with the Royals three games to one. They also improved their season record to 62-35 and they maintained their three-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Boston Red Sox have now stumbled to eight games back in third place and are fading fast.
The Royals are 42-56 on the s
eason.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • It now appears that Granderson is finally showing the batting form the Yankees expected when they traded for him this winter. He has now hit in five straight games and he is hitting .327 in his last 13 games, The two-homer afternoon was the fifth in his career. 
  • Derek Jeter is also coming out of his month-long slump at the plate. He was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base. He is 12-for-29 (.414) in his last seven games with nine runs scored. In that time he has raised his batting average from .269 to .278.
  • Nick Swisher, back in the starting lineup after missing two games a sore left Achilles tendon, contributed a bases-loaded two-run single in the eighth inning. 
  • Cano’s 1,000 hit came in the eighth inning with a ground-rule two-run double off reliever Victor Marte. Cano is the third quickest Yankee to reach the mark behind Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly.

THE NEGATIVES

  • Whatever scouting report the Yankees compiled on Podsednik, they need to burn it and start over. The 34-year-old journeyman outfielder was 9-for-19 (.474) in the series with two home runs, six RBIs, three runs scored and four stolen bases.
  • Joba Chamberlain is quickly losing favor with manager Joe Girardi. Called upon in the eighth inning to protect a 7-3 lead, Chamberlain promptly walked No. 9 hitter Chris Getz and then he was taken deep by Podsednik for his second home run of the game, bringing the Royals to within two runs. Girardi had David Robertson warming up as Chamberlain got the next three batters.  There is a good chance Robertson will take over the setup duties for the Yankees.
  • On a day when the Yankees pounded out 12 runs on 14 hits and three walks, Jorge Posada did not get a chance to join the party. He was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. He also was called for an odd error in the ninth inning. With a runner at third and two out, Posada threw his mask as he tried to stop a Chan Ho Park pitch in the dirt. The mask struck the ball and the umpires ruled it interference and allowed Rick Ankiel to score. Posada was charged with an error even though the rule seems to state that the use of the mask to stop or retrieve a ball has to be deliberate. 
DIAMOND NOTES

Along with Swisher, the Yankees also welcomed back Brett Gardner to the starting lineup. Gardner missed Saturday’s game because of an acid reflux condition he has had for some years. Though Gardner returned from the hospital on Saturday and was cleared to play, Girardi said he decided to hold him out of the game because the tests run at the hospital required Gardner go under anesthesia. Gardner was 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in Sunday’s game.  . . .   Despite the fact that Sergio Mitre struggled miserably on Saturday, Girardi said he remains the starter for now for Thursday’s game at Cleveland. Mitre was pounded for seven runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings against the Royals on Saturday. Girardi cited it was his first action since June 4 because he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.  However, after Dustin Moseley followed Mitre with 4 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, Girardi said a final decision on Thursday’s starter will be made on Monday.  . . .  Rodriguez and Girardi said that the third baseman was fine after being hit on the left hand and forearm in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game.  Rodriguez is expected to resume his quest for his 600th home run on Monday in Cleveland.
THE NEXT GAME

After a 6-3 homestand, the Yankees take to the road for seven games beginning in Cleveland. The Yankees will call upon right-hander Javier Vazquez to open the four-game series.
Vazquez (8-7, 4.68 ERA) won his last start against the Angels despite giving up five runs in five innings. In his previous two starts he had only given up one run in 14 innings.  Vazquez is 7-5 with a 4.40 ERA in his career against the Indians.
Vazquez will be opposed by veteran right-hander Jake Westbrook (6-6, 4.74 ERA), who gave up four runs in six innings in a loss to the Twins on July 21. He is 2-4 with a 5.29 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.

Posada Hits Milestone, A-Rod Fails As Yanks Rain On KC

GAME 95
YANKEES 7, ROYALS 1

Robinson Cano stroked a three-run double, Jorge Posada drove in two runs for 1,001 RBIs in his career and A.J. Burnett pitched five innings of shutout baseball. But Friday’s game seemed more about what did not happen than what did.

Alex Rodriguez did not hit his 600th home run.

But, otherwise, the New York Yankees pounded the Kansas City Royals for the second night in a row in front of 46,801 at Yankee Stadium despite a one hour and 25 minute rain delay that definitely drenched the hopes of fans hoping to catch A-Rod’s historic moment.

Burnett (8-8) bounced back to even his record with a great effort, giving up four hits and a walk and striking out three batters. Brain Bannister (7-9) was tagged for four runs on six hits and two walks and he struck out five in 4 2/3 innings.

Cano’s bases-loaded three-run double in the first inning off Bannister pretty much set the tone for the rest of the evening. Posada blasted an RBI double in the first inning for his 1,000th RBI in his career and he added an RBI single in the seventh inning off reliever Dusty Hughes. 

Brett Gardner drove in the other two runs with a two-run single in the sixth inning off reliever Victor Marte. Rodriguez singled twice and walked in four at-bats but did not come close to hitting the home run the crowd was expecting.

The victory puts the Yankees at a season-high 27 games over .500. They have won 14 of their last 18 games and they improved the lead in the American League East to four games over the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost to the Indians 3-1 on Friday.  The Boston Red Sox remain seven games back in third place.

The Royals’ season record fell to 41-55.

YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Burnett was in command of his control on Friday. There were no wild pitches and no hit batters. Burnett threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of the 18 batters he faced. He also needed only 58 pitches to record 15 outs and he showed no signs of the hand injury that forced him to be removed in the third inning of his last start. He left the game after five innings only because of the length of the rain delay.
  • Cano’s three RBIs on Friday give him 66 for the season. He is tied with Mark Teixeira for second place on the team behind Rodriguez, who has 78.
  • With his 1,000th RBI, Posada joins a rare group of catchers. He becomes only the fifth catcher to have 250 home runs, 350 doubles and 1,000 RBIs. The other four are Hall-of-Famers Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter and future Hall-of-Famer Ivan Rodriguez. Posada is the 12th Yankee to reach the mark and the third catcher. The other two are Yogi Berra (1,430) and Bill Dickey (1,209). 
  • Gardner’s night was feast or famine. He led off the game with a double and later scored on Cano’s single, doubled in
    two runs in the sixth and walked in the eighth. However, in his other two plate appearances he struck out swinging. Gardner pushed his batting average up to .298.
THE NEGATIVES

  • After going 5-for-10 in his last two games, Derek Jeter regressed to go 0-for-4, dropping his batting average back to uncustomary .271 on the season.  He is hitting .219 in July. With Gardner at third and no outs in the first inning, Jeter bounced out to Bannister. With Curtis at second and Gardner at first and no outs in the eighth inning, Jeter hit into a double play.
  • Though he pitched well overall in his three innings of work, Gaudin struggled in the eighth inning by giving up back-to-back doubles to Rick Ankiel and Yuniesky Betancourt to lose the shutout. Gaudin’s ERA this season is 6.54 but he has been pitching much better of late.
  • Curtis Granderson struck out with two on and one out in the seventh inning. It was the 60th strikeout of the season for Granderson, which ties him for third most on the team. However, Granderson missed a month on the disabled list and is quickly headed to his fifth consecutive 100-strikeout season. Granderson is hitting a miserable .239 this season.
DIAMOND NOTES

Rumors indicate the Yankees are in the driver’s seat in obtaining right-hander Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Various reports say the Yankees might be willing to part with a few young pitching prospects such as Ivan Nova and reliever Joba Chamberlain. The Yankees likely would use Haren to replace injured left-hander Andy Pettitte and then shift Phil Hughes to the eighth-inning setup role he had last season when Pettitte returns from the disabled list. Hughes is quickly reaching the 180-inning limit he has as a starter this season. Chamberlain has apparently disappointed the Yankees with stretches of inconsistency this season.  . . .  Nick Swisher was scratched from the starting lineup on Friday because of what was called “discomfort” in his left Achilles tendon. Swisher is uncertain as to how he incurred the injury. But he said it was not serious and he would be available to pinch-hit. Rookie outfielder Colin Curtis replaced Swisher in right-field and was 2-for-4 in the game.  
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees have already clinched a split of the four-game weekend series with the Royals. They will go for the series victory with Sergio Mitre on the mound.
Mitre (0-1, 2.88 ERA) will be activated from the disabled list to make this start in place of the injured Pettitte. Mitre was on the DL with a strained left oblique. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two spot starts earlier this season.  He is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA against the Royals in his career.
Kyle Davies (4-6, 5.65 ERA) will get the start for the Royals and he is wary of one bit of history concerning Alex Rodriguez. It was Davies who served up Rodriguez’s 500th home run on Aug. 4, 2007 in Yankee Stadium. With Rodriguez on home run No. 599 and looking for No. 600, Davies has his work cut out for him. 
In his last start, the right-hander gave up three runs on 10 hits in seven innings in a no-decision against the Blue Jays. He is 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

A-Rod’s Hits No. 599 As Yanks Put Away Royals Late

GAME 94
YANKEES 10, ROYALS 4

It seems like every swing Alex Rodriguez takes is monumental. After blasting the 599th home run of his career on Thursday night, that is now the reality.
Rodriguez’s solo home run off reliever Robinson Tejeda in the seventh inning not only put the veteran third baseman on the doorstep of history, it also gave the New York Yankees the breathing room to go on and defeat a stubborn bunch of Kansas City Royals.
Rodriguez ended the night 3-for-5 with two doubles, his 16th home run of the season and four RBIs. 
CC Sabathia (13-3) was the winner despite being nicked for 11 hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings. Sabathia likely feels fortunate to have given up only four runs (three earned) while striking out nine batters.
Bruce Chen (5-4) took the loss, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings of work. Chen actually left the game trailing only 5-4 but the Yankees tallied an insurance run with A-Rod’s homer in the seventh and they added four runs in the eighth off rookie reliever Blake Wood to put the game away.
The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 60-34 and they gained a half-game on the idle Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. They now lead the Rays by three games.  The Royals fell to 41-54 on the season.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Derek Jeter was credited with an inside-the-park home run when David DeJesus was unable to hold his deep fly just short of the center-field wall in the third inning. As DeJesus dropped the ball and fell to the turf, Jeter circled the bases for his ninth home run of the season and the second inside-the-park home run of his career. His first came on Aug. 2, 1996 against the Royals in Kansas City with then teammate Joe Girardi scoring ahead of him. 
  • Mark Teixeira entered the game 7-for-11 against Chen in his career with an amazing six home runs. Teixeira went 2-for-3 off Chen with a double, a single and a run scored. Teixeira added an RBI single off Wood in the eighth inning. He raised his batting average to a season-high .261.
  • Rodriguez’s RBI barrage in July continues. The four RBIs on Thursday give him 24 RBIs in July and he is now second in the major leagues in RBIs with 78. His 3-for-5 night also raised his batting average to .275.
  • David Robertson’s “Houdini-like” pitching has been nothing short of amazing. He eneterd the game in the seventh inning after CC Sabathia walked Jose Guillen and Wilson Betemit with one out. Robertson induced an infield pop off the bat of Mike Aviles and he struck out Willie Bloomquist to end the inning.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Sabathia was not at his best and the Royals did not hit him hard. But they did hit half-dozen balls as if they hit them with wet newspaper. In the first two innings, Sabathia gave up three runs on seven hits. Base-running blunders cost the Royals more runs. Brett Gardner tossed out Betemit trying to stretch a hit into a double for the third out in the first inning. Because Guillen was not running hard to home on the play, Betemit was tagged out before Guillen reached home. In the fifth inning Gardner threw out Billy Butler at the plate trying to score on a Betemit single.
  • Jorge Posada had a terrible brain cramp in the sixth inning. With Bloomquist on third on a balk and one out, Sabathia struck out Yuniesky Betancourt on a pitch that hit the dirt. Rather than throw Betancourt out at first, Posada threw to get Bloomquist and he threw the ball down the lefti-field line to allow Bloomquist to score. Posada also nearly overthrew Teixeira on another strike-three throw in the seventh inning. But Teixeira caught the high throw and beat Bloomquist to the bag to save a run.
  • Gardner was the only Yankee starter not to have a hit in the game and his batting average dropped below .300. He is now hitting .296.
DIAMOND NOTES

To honor former manager Ralph Houk, the Yankees wore black armbands on their left sleeve, just below the patch honoring late public-address announcer Bob Sheppard. Houke, 90, died at his home in Winter Haven, FL, on Wednesday.  . . .  DeJesus was removed from the game with a right thumb injury he suffered on Jeter’s inside-the-park home run. X-rays taken at Yankee Stadium revealed no broken bones but DeJesus, who is batting .318 on the season, likely will miss the rest of the series with a sprained thumb.  . . .  In the eighth inning the Royals pulled off a daring double-steal with Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall with one out and Rick Ankiel at the plate. However, replays showed clearly that Podsednik was tagged out by Rodriguez before his foot reached the base. Third-base umpire Chad Fairchild, who was out of position behind Rodruguez, never saw the tag and called Podsednik safe.  The Royals, however, did not score in the inning.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the Royals at Yankee Stadium on Friday. The Yankees will send to the mound inconsistent right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Burnett (7-8, 4.99) is coming off a terrible outing that lasted only two-plus innings because the veteran suffered cuts on both of his hands when he barged through the clubhouse doors. After a winless June, Burnett is 1-1 with a 3.45 in July. He is 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA in his career against the Royals.
Burnett will be opposed by veteran right-hander Brian Bannister (7-8, 5.65 ERA). In his last start against the Oakland A’s, Bannister gave up five runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked six and struck out two batters. Bannister is 1-2 with a 15.07 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.

Caught In Pinch: Curtis, Yanks Leave Angels A ‘Colin’ Card


GAME 93
YANKEES 10, ANGELS 6

Colin Curtis was just minding his own business in the Yankees’ dugout in the bottom of the eighth inning when fate knocked on his door.

With a 7-5 lead over the Angels, one out and two runners on, Brett Gardner suddenly was ejected from the game by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel. Manager Joe Girardi summoned the rookie outfielder to complete Gardner’s at-bat.

Four pitches later Curtis connected on a 3-2 pitch and hit into the first row of the right-field bleachers of Yankee Stadium to finally put away the Angels and give New York a hard-fought victory over Los Angeles.

It was Curtis’ first major-league home run and, as a result, he took his first curtain call for the 47,521 fans in attendance.

Staked to a 6-0 lead, Javier Vazquez (8-7) wilted in the oppressive 88-degree heat in the Bronx and gave up five runs over the fifth and sixth innings but held on to collect the victory.  With the victory, Vazquez has now defeated every team in the major leagues in his career. He had 0-3 against the Angels.

His mound opponent, Joel Pineiro (10-7), gave up six runs over six innings and took the loss.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their major-league best record to 59-34 and maintained a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays. With the Boston Red Sox 6-4 loss to Oakland they are in free-fall 7 games back in third place.

YANKEE POSITIVES

  • The Yankees first three hitters combined to go 8-for-9 in their first there at-bats against Pineiro (three doubles and five singles) scored five runs and drove in three. Derek Jeter ended the game 3-for-5. Nick Swisher was 2-for-5 and Mark Teixeira was 3-for-5.
  • Teixeira’s three RBIs on the day give him 65 for the season. He is hitting .383 for the month and has raised his batting average to .256.
  • Don’t you know that Robinson Cano hit his team-leading 18th home run, a two-run shot in the third inning off Pineiro. In his two other at-bats against Pineiro he was intentionally walked — in the first and fourth innings. On both occasions DH Juan Miranda made the final out and stranded five runners. Cano was intentionally walked three times in the series and 10 times total this season. Before this season he had been intentionally walked only 14 times in his career.
  • David Robertson continues to perform Houdini-like escapes. Summoned to replace Vazquez after a two-run home run by Hideki Matsui made the score 6-5 with nobody out, Robertson ended up with the bases loaded due to a walk, a bunt single and single to shallow left by Erick Aybar. Robertson escaped unscathed by retiring Howie Kendrick on a line drive to right.

Yankees Discover That Rays’ Price Was Not Right In Heat

GAME 91
YANKEES 9, RAYS 5

On a day when the two best teams in baseball met with two All-Star pitchers on the mound and an important three-game series on the line it was the heat and humidity that tipped the balance of power.

Rays ace left-hander David Price, staked to an early 3-0 lead, wilted like a delicate flower in the oppressive heat of Yankee Stadium as the New York Yankees rallied for four runs in the fifth inning to defeat Tampa Bay on Sunday.

The Yankees had managed to score two runs off Price in the first and tied the game on an RBI single by Mark Teixeira in the third inning. But Price suffered a complete meltdown in the fifth when the Yankees sent eight men to the plate, made him throw 36 pitches in 91-degree heat and wore down the All-Star Game starter for three hits and two walks in the inning.

The seven runs Price allowed were the most earned runs he has given up in his career.

Derek Jeter keyed the rally with a tie-breaking single up the middle to score Brett Gardner and Jorge Posada capped the rally with a two-out, two-run double that extended the Yankees’ lead to 7-3 on Price (12-5), who entered the game leading the American League in ERA at 2.42.

Chan Ho Park (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory as five Yankee relievers combined to pitch 6 2/3 innings after starter Andy Pettitte left the game in the third inning with a strained left groin.

Caught short in the bullpen after both long relievers Chad Gaudin and Dustin Moseley pitched seven innings in relief on Saturday for an injured A.J. Burnett, Girardi was forced to mix and match with the five pitchers he had available in an important division matchup and the bullpen came through.

With the victory, the Yankees won the three-game series two games to one and maintained the same three game lead they started the series with over the second-place Rays. The Boston Red Sox, by virtue of their loss to the Texas Rangers on Sunday, fell to 6 1/2 games back in the A.L. East in third place.

YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Though Park got credit for the victory, David Robertson’s work in the third and fourth innings was far more dramatic. He entered the game with one out, runners on first and second and a 3-1 count on Jason Bartlett. Robertson walked Bartlett to load the bases but then managed to force Sean Rodriguez to pop up to Jeter and B.J. Upton to fly out. Robertson stranded Carl Crawford at third with one out in the fourth when struck out Carlos Pena and got Ben Zobrist on an infield bouncer. It was one of Robertson’s best performances out the pen this season.
  • Down 3-0 before they even batted, the Yankees got back into the game in the bottom of the first on Robinson Cano’s two-out, two-run triple to score Nick Swisher and Teixeira.  Cano was 2-for-3 to raise his batting average to .336. The two RBIs give him 61 on the season.
  • Posada’s two-run double in the fifth capped a three-game series in which he was 4-for-12 with two home runs and four RBIs. Posada raised his season average to .269.
  • Jeter, who entered the contest with a .269 average and batting .180 in the month of July, was 2-for-5, stole a base, scored two runs and drove in one.
  • Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single in the fifth inning and blasted his 598th career home run and his 15th of the season in the seventh inning.  Rodriguez is third in the major leagues this season with 73 RBIs.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Pettitte was very un-Pettitte-like even before he injured his groin. He g
    ave up a leadoff single to Upton and hit Evan Longoria with a pitch and then allowed Carlos Pena to hit a three-run home run in the first inning. It was the sixth career home run for Pena off the 38-year-old left-hander, the most Pettitte has given up to any player in his career. Pettitte then gave up back-to-back singles after Pena’s home run before getting the last two outs. Pettitte, who entered the game with a 2.70 ERA, gave up six hits, three walks and three runs in 2 1/3 innings.
  • Joba Chamberlain struggled again — this time in his second inning of relief. In the ninth, Chamberlain was tagged for a leadoff double by Pena and Gabe Kapler scored him on a double two outs later. Chamberlain, who began the inning with a 9-4 lead fell behind Kapler three balls and one strike. Kapler started Sunday’s game with a .212 average. Manager Joe Girardi, not taking any chances, pulled Chamberlain in favor of Mariano Rivera. Rivera retired Kelly Shoppach on one pitch to end the game.
  • The Yankees pounded out 11 hits but DH Marcus Thames and Gardner were the only starters not to reach on a hit though both reached on walks. 
DIAMOND NOTES

When Pettitte left the game on Sunday he was rushed to New York Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital for an MRI on his strained left groin. It was diagnosed as Grade 1 (or slight) strain, however, Pettitte will be placed on the 15-day disabled list and he likely will miss four to five weeks. The Yankees, who narrowly missed out on signing Cliff Lee last week, likely will be in the market for a starting pitcher to replace Pettitte in the rotation.  . . .  After cutting both of his hands on the clubhouse doors on Saturday, Burnett reported no pain in playing long toss on Sunday. Burnett, who left in the third inning of Saturday’s start against the Rays with the hand injury, is not expected to miss his next start.  Burnett apologized to his teammates on Sunday for the tirade that led to his injury.  . . .  Alfredo Aceves, who is the disabled list with a bulging disc in his lower back, resumed throwing on Sunday and reported no problems. Meanwhile, Sergio Mitre (strained left oblique) appears ready to be activated and could be used as a replacement starter for Pettitte on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will get a chance to heal their various wounds with a well-deserved day off on Monday. They will resume their schedule on Tuesday by playing host to the Los Angeles Angels for a rare two-games series.
The Yankees will start All-Star right-hander Phil Hughes (11-2, 3.65 ERA). Hughes was the losing pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game last Tuesday. But Hughes is coming off seven innings of one-run ball against the Seattle Mariners in his last start.  Hughes is 3-0 with a 4.70 ERA against the Angels in his career.
The Angels were scheduled to start Scott Kazmir on Tuesday, however, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder fatigue. The Angels are expected to call up either Trevor Bell or Sean O’Sullivan to replace Kazmir. Bell has career major-league ERA of 8.15 and O’Sullivan has a career 5.37 ERA.

Yanks Honor Steinbrenner, Sheppard With Walk-Off Win

GAME 89
YANKEES 5, RAYS 4

The New York Yankees paid tribute to their longtme public address announcer Bob Sheppard and their iconic owner of 37 years George Steinbrenner on Friday night.
The somber Yankee Stadium ceremony with roses, videos and speeches then gave way to a game that echoed a game played 31 years ago after Thurman Munson had died.
The Yankees, who never led the game until the end, received a game-tying solo home run from Nick Swisher in the eighth inning. Then Swisher won the game in walk-off fashion in the ninth inning with a single to right to score Curtis Granderson from second as the Yankees honored two legendary greats with a 5-4 victory over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Much like Friday, the game on Aug. 6, 1979 against the Baltimore Orioles the score ended up 5-4 on a two-run single by Bobby Murcer, who also homered earlier in that game.
Swisher, like his other Yankee teammates, stepped to the plate with two out and two on in the ninth inning sporting a simple GMS patch for Steinbrenner over the interlocking NY over his heart and a microphone patch on his left sleeve to honor Bob Sheppard. 
Granderson had led off the ninth with a single to right off Rays reliever Randy Choate and he advanced to second on pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena’s sacrifice bunt. Choate walked Brett Gardner and Rays manager replaced Choate with Dan Wheeler.
Wheeler struck out Derek Jeter and Maddon then replaced Wheeler with right-hander Lance Cormier. Swisher worked the count to 2-1 before lacing a single to right. Right-fielder Gabe Kapler’s throw home actually beat Granderson but the ball skipped past catcher Kelly Shoppach and Granderson slid into home with the winning run, much to the delight of the 47,524 fans in attendance.
Mariano Rivera (3-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
The victory extended the Yankees’ lead on the Rays to three games in the American League East. The Red Sox, by virtue of their second straight loss to the Texas Rangers, fell 6 1/2 games back.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Swisher’s night was magical. He singled to drive in the Yankees’ first run in the third inning. His 16th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Joaquin Benoit tied the game 4-4 and then his game-winner capped off a 3-for-5 night with three RBIs. Swisher raised his average to .303 on the season.
  • Robinson Cano brought the Yankees to within one run in the sixth inning with a solo home run off Rays starter James Shields for his 17th home run of the season. 
  • Jorge Posada followed Cano with a solo shot of his own to tie the score at 3-3. It was the 10th home run of the season for Posada and his first since June 16 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • David Robertson started his second half off with a bang. He came on in the eighth inning and faced three batters and struck out all three. Robertson entered the second half with a 5.46 ERA but he has had 19 scoreless outings in his last 22 appearances dating back to May 7 when his ERA was 13.50.
THE NEGATIVES

  • This was not a good night for CC Sabathia. Struggling most of the night with command of his fastball, Sabathia gave up eights hits and four walks in seven innings. But he did limit the damage to four runs (three earned) and the Rays scored only two runs off Sabathia when they loaded the bases with no outs in both the fifth and seventh innings.
  • It was an emotional night for Jeter, who delivered a moving speech about Sheppard and Steinbrenner before the game. It showed at the plate, too. Jeter was 0-for-5 and his slump in July continues. He is hitting .178 for the month and his season average fell to .270. That is the lowest his average has been since May 22.
  • Swisher had a great night at the plate but in the field it was not so stellar. He overran and then dropped a fly ball off the bat of Kelly Shoppach for a two-base error to begin the sixth inning.  He also threw a ball badly off-line attempting to nail B.J. Upton taking third on a single by Carl Crawford in the seventh inning.
DIAMOND NOTES

The Yankees recalled first baseman/DH Juan Miranda from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday and optioned infielder Kevin Russo back to Scranton. Miranda was the DH in Friday’s game and was 0-for-3.  This is Miranda’s second promotion to the club. In18 games, Miranda hit .217 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Russo hit .188 with four RBIs in 29 games with the Yankees.  
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will have another emotional day on Saturday as they conduct their annual Old-Timers Day at the stadium.
They will go for the series win of the three-game weekend series with A.J. Burnett (7-7, 4.75 E
RA) on the mound. Burnett is coming off two starts in which he is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA after suffering through a winless June. In his only start against the Rays this season he lost on May 19, giving up six runs in 6 2/3 innings. In his career against the Rays Burnett is 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA.
Burnett will be opposed by fellow right-hander Jeff Niemann (7-2, 2.77 ERA). Niemann is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in his last three starts. He is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA against the Yankees. He has not faced the Yankees this season.
Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports.

Mo’s Health, Joba’s Improvement Keys To Yankees’ Bullpen

It is the halfway point of the season for the New York Yankees and you all know what that means. That’s right, it’s time to had out grades for the first term. Some of our Yankees were scholars and some need some remedial work. But with the best record in baseball the Yankees already have a great grade as a team. The funny thing is that they have not really pushed themselves and there is still potential to be even better in the second half. Let’s start evaluating the positions and players.


BULLPEN

Mariano Rivera
Joba Chamberlain
David Robertson
Damaso Marte
Chan Ho Park
Chad Gaudin
Dustin Moseley

Other contributors: Alfredo Aceves, Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, Romulo Sanchez and Mark Melancon

Based on what they did in 2009 and the fact that Joba Chamberlain was back in the bullpen where he belonged, the New York Yankees’ relief corps looked strong heading into the 2010 season.
The fact the Yankees are currently in first place in the American League East and they have the best record in baseball at the All-Star break means that the bullpen can’t be really that bad.
Howver, it has been less than stellar in the first half, despite the fact that at age 40 Mariano Rivera is having another Hall of Fame season: a 2-1 record with a 1.05 ERA and 20 saves in 22 chances.
The fact that the starters have been pitching so deep into games and the bullpen has been used less frequently in 2010, the problem has not been Rivera. It has been getting the ball to Rivera that has been the problem.
One indication of the ineffectiveness of the bullpen is the won-loss record of the bullpen this season which is 8-10. Another indication is the ERAs of the current roster:
Chamberlain 5.79
Robertson 5.46
Park 6.18
Gaudin 6.75
Marte 4.08
Moseley 3.00
This is a far cry from what the bullpen contributed in 2009 and there are many reasons why this has occurred.
No. 1, the fact that the starters have gone so deep has meant much less work from this group than last season. In 2009, Chamberlain’s struggles to last past five innings as a starter and Chien-Ming Wang’s poor start and injuries meant the bullpen was used and used again and again,
This season, there have been fewer starts of five innings or less by the rotation: 16 in 2010. That sometimes means days of inactivity and it is hard to get into a rhythm. But that is not the only reason.
The Yankees are also without to key contributors to their bullpen, Alfred Aceves and Sergio Mitre. Aceves is the Swiss Army knife of the Yankees’ bullpen. He can fill any role and last season he was 10-1 with a 3.54 ERA with one save.
This season Aceves is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and one save in 10 appearances but his season is in doubt because of a bulging disc in his lower back that has landed him on the disabled list since May 9.
His latest attempt to throw had to be shut down because of pain in the back and the Yankees, who are trying to avoid back surgery, are currently weighing their options. If manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland were counting on having Aceves back soon, they will be waiting a long time.
Mitre, the team’s long man, has also been missed. Mitre has been on the disabled list since June 5 due to an oblique strain suffered when he was taking batting practice to prepare for interleague play.
Mitre is 0-1 with a 2.88 ERA and has been excellent in 12 appearances, which includes two spot starts. The Yankees should be getting Mitre back soon after the second half starts.
Marte has been solid and consistent. He has a 4.08 in 30 appearances and 17 2/3 innings. But he has been doing the job he has been asked to do: lefties are htting .146 off him this season.
Marte usually has been getting into trouble when he is wild (11 walks) or when he is asked to pitch more than one or two batters.
The biggest disappointments have been Park, Robertson and Chamberlain. The ERAs are one indication of their ineffectiveness. But look also at their records:
Chamberlain 1-4
Robertson 1-3
Park 1-1
This group has lost eight of the 10 games the bullpen has lost this season. In defense of Park, though, he lost an early game to the Red Sox in the first series of the season and then spent a month on the disabled list with a right hamstring strain.
His issues seem to be centered around when he is asked to pitch multiple innings. He also been pitching much better of late. He has a 3.38 ERA for this month and he seems to be regaining some of 95 mph velocity.
Robertson had most his problems early in the season. In his first 10 outings, Robertson was 1-1 with a 13.50 ERA. He has only been scored upon in three of his next 21 outings, though he did hiccup and give up four runs in 1 1/3 innings on July 2 at home to Toronto.
But Robertson looks to be solid heading into the second half.
Not so for Joba Chamberlain.
Chamberlain has been the biggest disappointment in the Yankees’ bullpen. A failed starter, Chamberlain looked to resume the eighth-inning set-up role with which he was so successful as a rookie in 2007.
The inconsistency he has shown this season has been a major concern and it culminated in a a horrendous one-inning outing in Seattle on July 10 in which he gave up two hits, threw a wild pitch and was forced to intentionally walk a batter before giving up a grand slam home run that erased a 1-0 lead Javier Vazquez had handed him.
Though Girardi maintains Chamberlain is his eighth-inning guy, there is no sense in having a bridge to Rivera that is going to blow up. 
Perhaps the pursuit of Cliff Lee may be part of this issue. The rumor was if the Yankees had acquired Lee the Yankees would have traded Vazquez for a hitter they might need.
But maybe the Yankees could have shifted Hughes back to the bullpen because he has pitched 101 of his 180 allotted innings as a starter this season. The addition of Hughes, while disappointing to Hughes himself, might solve the inconsistency problem in the eighth inning and allow Chamberlain to develop as a seventh-inning reliever instead.
Who knows? But now there are rumors the Yankees are pursuing Ted Lilly of the Chicago Cubs so the
idea to switch Hughes back to the bullpen is not a moot point yet.
In the absence of Hughes, Chamberlain is going to have to improve if the Yankees hope to hold off the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox in the second half. Losing games in the eighth inning is painful and really hurts the team.
We will see how the bullpen plays out but the pressure is definitely on Chamberlain going forward.
Here are the grades for the first half:
Rivera A+
Chamberlain C-
Park I (Incomplete)
Robertson C+
Marte B
Gaudin C
Moseley I (Incomplete)
OVERALL BULLPEN GRADE: C

It is not out of the realm of possibility that Hughes could be placed in the bullpen long before the postseason starts. If that happens, he will most certainly resume his role as Rivera’s bridge as he was in 2009.
Chamberlain and Park need to improve their consistency. Robertson needs to continue the steady progress he has shown since April. It would be a great boost to the bullpen to get a healthy Aceves back but I do think the Yankees believe they will be getting him back anytime soon.
In the meantime, Mitre’s return will help and Marte must continue to get the tough lefties out. 
There is some concern about Rivera, too. His exit from the All-Star team was a surprise because he not only mentioned the discomfort in left side that shelved him for a week. Rivera also mentioned a sore right knee. Anytime a 40-year-old closer is talking injuries to keep him out of an All-Star game, it does sound alarm bells.
Could the trade for Lilly be all about shifting Hughes to the bullpen to replace Rivera if he goes down? We don’t know but it bears watching. The Yankees need Rivera as much as humans need oxygen. All hopes for a championship live or die with the best closer in the history of the game.

For Better Or Worse, Steinbrenner Brought Life To Yankees

My first George Steinbrenner memory is when he bought the New York Yankees.
Steinbrenner struck me as a young and brash owner who would be more “hands-on” than the CBS group that ran them into the ground.
I just did not realize how much hands-on he would be. The Billy Martin hiring in 1976 and the turbulence of that 1977 season with Reggie, Munson, Martin and Stenbrenner feuding through the press up until the Yankees had won their first championship since 1962.
They repeated in 1978, beating the Dodgers again. But the managerial merry-go-round had just begun. Martin in, Martin out, Martin in, Martin out.
Lemon, Howser, Berra Green, Showalter, etc. It just never stopped. 
Free agents came and good prospects were traded away.
There is no doubt that the same drive that Steinbrenner instilled in the club in the good years (1977-1978) also fueled the dark period of 1979-1994.
People always gave me a hard time because I loved the Yankees. They said I loved the Yankees simply because they were the best team. I was a front-runner, they said. But I would tell them that my love of the Yankees began with Mickey Mantle.
I also rooted for them from 1963 to 1976, despite the fact they did not win a championship. I also rooted for them from 1979 through 1995 even though they did not win a championship. So I would tell them: How could be a front-runner when I was a Yankee fan through the two longest championship droughts in their history?
That is the Steinbrenner legacy too. Not just the championships he won and the tradition he helped restore to the Yankees. He also was part of those long droughts, too. I seethed with anger when the Yankees traded away Doug Drabek for Rick Rhoden. I felt the same way when Jose Rijo was dealt to Oakland for Tim Belcher.
Fans are still scratching their heads over the Jay Buhner for Ken Phelps trade.
That was largely the reason why the Yankees were so bad from 1982 to 1994. But the real revelation of the Steinbrenner era came in 1995. The team suddenly was allowing minor league stars like Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada to develop and grow within the organization.
For some reason those players were not traded as the their predecessors were — usually for aging veterans with little left in the tank. The Yankees also realized that free-agent pitchers like Jimmy Key, David Cone, David Wells and Roger Clemens could help.
Though the New York media ripped him before he ever managed a game, Joe Torre was hired the manager of this new core of young and talented players. A deal was struck to send Roberto Kelly to the Reds for Paul O’Neill and the core had their fiery leader.
From 1996 until the present day, the Yankees have won the American East in every season except 2008. The Yankees have remained competitive and made the playoffs in every year except 2008.
They won four championships in five seasons from 1996 through 2000. Torre was the toast of New York back then.
But when the team started losing playoff series to the Angels and Indians and the World Series to the Marlins and Diamondbacks the fans who never knew the long years of drought turned on him. Eventually the front office did, too.
Though I still think letting Torre go was a mistake, I understand the reason why it had to happen. Now Joe Girardi has the reins and he has won No. 27. The team has a new collection of talented stars like Teixeira and Sabathia and young stars like Cano.
But there also remains Jeter and Rivera and Posada and Pettitte. The bridge from the past to the future. Young stars like Phil Hughes and Brett Gardner joined the team from the minor-league system. Will they be the core of the next great team 10 years from now?
Then there is the new stadium and its grandeur and grace borrowed from the Old Lady across the street. While Ruth gives way to Jeter and Ford gives way to Pettitte, there is George Steinbrenner.
For good or for bad, the Yankees grew from the moment Steinbrenner bought them to now. The fan base, the TV network, the cache’ of the Yankee brand is all due to him. His vision is now complete and his legacy has passed on to sons Hal and Hank.
So the Steinbrenner family is expected now to carry on that tradition. That same drive that forced Steinbrenner to take the reins in 1973 will live on with every decision they make. 
The one time I was able to see George in person came at an exhibition game in West Palm Beach in 1980. He was walking from his box out of the stadium and fans were pouring towards him begging for autographs. Smiling broadly, Steinbrenner basked in all the adoration proudly.
Knowing that he takes his rest today with 27 banners for the Yankees and seven to his credit, he knows that his team is in great hands. I am just hoping that George does not get too riled in heaven and he tries to fire Moses.
I would think he would have a problem selling that one to the media in heaven.
We love you, George. Thank you for giving us our Yankees back!
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