The Yanks lost a slug-fest on Friday night (and a game in the standings as Boston creamed Seattle), but recovered behind El Duque yesterday afternoon to beat the Orioles, 5-2. The Sox whipped the Mariners again; New York's lead remains two-and-a-half games. Steve Bonner is loving the September tension. So, for that matter is Derek Jeter. In a Newsday article which detailed two team-meetings the Yankees recently held, the Yankee captain said:
"This is a fun time," said Jeter... "These are games we enjoy playing. We're in a race now for the division and I definitely enjoy it. I think you've got some guys who enjoy it, too."
This is supposed to be fun? Right. I keep forgetting. Thanks for the reality check, Jetes. Javier Vazquez got rocked for the second time in his past three outings on Friday night, but to be honest, he's been a generally lousy pitcher since the all-star break. I wish I understood more about the mechanics of pitching to explain what is going wrong.
"I don't ever remember going through a stretch this bad since '98," Vazquez said, referring to his rookie season. "Early in the season in '99, maybe. But I don't remember the last time I've been this bad and inconsistent."
Mel Stottlemyre added:
"I've been where he's at, and it's no fun," Stottlemyre said. "He sort of feels like he wants to get away from everyone, and I understand that. At the same time, I wanted him to know how Joe and I feel about him. Those 13 games he's won for us have not been an accident. He has a lot of talent. It's not a question of high hopes for him. He's one of our guys."
..."The only logical explanation is when you try to do too much, it ends up being less," Stottlemyre said. "I think, instead of throwing his pitches with confidence and getting ahead and letting them hit it if they can, he was trying to throw too hard, getting out of whack and he couldn't regain his control.
"I've never seen him like that, never experienced anything like that in his workouts where he lost command."
Here are some interesting observations from that were left in the "comments" section of this blog:
"How come the Sporting News says his arm slot is all messed up, yet nothing is being done about it? If even they can tell something is wrong mechanically..." Jeremy M
"Jeremy, the problem goes beyond his arm slot. His mechanics are awful...does he ever "repeat" his wind-up? He lands in a completely different spot every pitch. And we gave this guy $10 million a year? And it's obvious that he can't locate his pitches on the corners the way Stottlemyre wants. Problem is he's more of a change of speed guy than a side-to-side guy. But Stottlemyre doesn't realize that side-to-side means very little to batters who are on average 3 to 4 inches taller with longer reaches than the batters of even 15 years ago (when he was a coach with the Mets)." Johnny C
"I hate to say it because the man is a class act, but it's time for Mel to go. He is simply not an effective pitching coach, and I don't mean this in the way that hitting coaches have been run out of town the last few years, where they seemed to have taken the blame for deeper problems. If Vazquez is as good as everyone says he is, then what is Mel doing to help him? Maybe he's trying to get him to not strike out as many guys, as he did with Doc Gooden back in the 80s. That was a brilliant strategy as well." Jeremy M
What do you guys think? Anyone have anything else to offer about why Vazquez has struggled so over the past few months? In addition, do you think that Stottlemyre is costing the team victories with the way he handles the pitching staff?
One pitcher he isn't hurting is Orlando Hernandez. El Duque allowed one run over seven innings yesterday, improving his record to 8-0 (the Yankees are 11-1 in games he's started). He was in one tight spot all day. With two out in the third, the Orioles loaded the bases for Miguel Tejada. Duque fell behind Miggy 2-1, but then got him to foul off an inside fastball, and then wave at an off-speed pitch to end the inning.
The Yankee offense was impressive on Friday night and they played well enough to beat Sidney Ponson yesterday. The game ended with a minor incident between the Orioles third base coach, Tom Treblehorn and Yankee catcher Jorge Posada. Evidentally, Posada thought that Treblehorn was trying to steal signs.
Like many New Yorkers—scratch that, Americans—I had a heavy-heart yesterday on the third anniversary of the attacks of September 11th. Emily and I watched a portion of the memorial ceremony yesterday morning and we both teared up pretty good. We decided to get out of the house and go on an adventure. So we took the IRT to midtown and then connected to the Queens-bound 7 train and went to Jackson Heights, which is probably the biggest Indian neighborhood in the city. We had lunch at the Jackson Diner; Em bought some bootlegged "Bollywood" cd soundtracks for her sister and we went shopping in the markets. Man, the produce was so inexpensive and interesting. We saw vegetables that we'd never seen before. One thing I picked up are called "long beans." Essentially they are string beans, but about two-feet long. They come in a bunch and look like a Rasta's thin-braids. As I sat in front of them wondering if I should buy them, two little old Italian ladies were picking some out for themselves. I asked them what the beans were all about and one lady tells me they're great, you just cut em down and "put them in the sauce with some maccaroni." Perfect. Learning how to use Indian vegies from an Italian. I love this city.