Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Learning to win again?

Two years ago the Yanks had this dubious record through five series with the D-Rays: 5-11. The Yanks had won exactly one game in each series, and lost 2, 2, 2, 2, and 3 (not in order). The Yanks made the playoffs by two games over Cleveland (which choked a home series to the Whitesax in the last weekend). The Yanks did so, in part, by sweeping the DRays three straight in the last meeting between the teams -- another 1-2 series loss would have dropped the Yanks into a one-game playoff against the Indians.

This year, the Yanks have the dubious distinction of a not-robust 4-7 record against the Orioles, which includes two one-run wins, and a walk-off homer by A-Rod to reverse the outcome in another, and at current writing they're closing in on 4-8 as Erik Bedard is in the midst of dominating the team for the third time this year. The teams have played, you guessed it, four series and the Yanks have won exactly one game in each (the completion on July 27 of a suspended game from June 28 kicked that win into the Yankees' credit as of the date the game started -- that win also made the Yanks' All-Star Break record 43-43, not sub-.500 for the first time since 1995). The Yanks close with three games in Baltimore on the last weekend of the season.

Until last weekend, the Tigers had been awful; they got better by winning a couple against the moribund A's and beat Cleveland yesterday. The Yanks were shutout last night and have three hits in the last 13 innings. Not the time for a reversal of fortune -- the Yanks play 8 of their next 11 against the cats, with three at the Yankee-killing Angels in the middle of that stretch and three against the Redsux right afterwards.

Time to right the ship -- and the Yanks will need to stink less against the O's in September. Despite their owner, the O's have a decent team, good young pitchers and could be a contender next year.

UPDATE(S): First, kudos to Shelley Duncan, the Yanks' own Baby Huey -- a 6-foot-5, 235-lb bruiser who's smacked 6 HR in limited appearances and is the biggest cheerleader in the dugout. He whacked a two-out, three-run bomb to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th.

Second, boo and hiss to Mo -- the Great One bonked yet again, this time allowing consecutive doubles to start the 10th and a one-out bomb to D-Ray retread Aubrey Huff to send the Yanks to a 6-3 loss. So much for the 4 IP, 3 H, 0R, 3 K work of Henn and Ramirez to keep the team close. They were called up from AAA Scranton this morning.

Note that Phil Hughes is 0-1, 7.71 at home and 2-0, 0.73 on the road. Then again, he faces the Angels and (probably) the Tigers on the road in his next two starts so that success is hardly immutable.

Third, kudos to TB stiff Andy Sonnanstine, a junkballer who raised his record to a not-so-robust 2-8 by beating the BloSax. The Sawx have had trouble with guys who throw muck -- comes from having so many dead-red fastball hitters in the lineup (Ortiz, Pedroia, Lowell, Drew).

Fourth, thankfully the Twins have embarrassed the M's almost as badly as the O's have turned the trick on the Yanks -- today the underwhelming Scott Baker bottled up the M's and the Twinkies won thanks to Rondell White's first dinger, an unearned run in the 8th and a Torii Hunter slam in the 9th. Hunter's on pace for a career year (.295-24-84, and .877 OPS; his bests are .289, 31, 102, .859) and he'll be a free agent this winter. No comment on any sort of correlation. Right now, the Twins are off the threat matrix in the Wild Card race (60-60, 7 GB), but if they keep winning when Santana doesn't pitch (like the last two days) and can win when he does (unlike their loss Monday), they could make a charge.

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