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Put up yer Dukes
2005-08-21 07:05
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

For true drama, it would have been fitting if Al Leiter pitched against El Duque Hernandez yesterday. Now that would be an endurance test. Instead, Hernandez was done-in by a few mistakes, and was also thoroughly out-pitched by Shawn Chacon as the Yankees handed the White Sox their seventh consecutive loss. Final score: New York 5, Chicago 0. The Bombers gained a game in both the AL East and wildcard standings as both Boston and Oakland were defeated.

After retiring the side in the first, El Duque started the second by throwing a pitch behind Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez wiggled as if suddenly being attacked by a bee; his response was almost comic. Rodriguez has handled El Duque in the past, so this was the Cuban righthander's not-so-subtle message to beware. El Duque was immediately warned by the home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

"I didn't think it was an accident. He has too good of command. There was a purpose for it and I'm not sure what it was," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "But I thought Larry Vanover did the right thing."
(ESPN)

Rodriguez got under a fly ball and flew out to centerfield. Hideki Matsui was the next batter and he took a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner for a ball. El Duque walked off the mound and went directly to Vanor for a discussion--Vanor's strike zone was incredibly stingy--not something you see every day. (Heck, even Jason Giambi of all people, would argue balls-and-strikes before the game was through.) At the end of the inning, three-up/three-down, the two spoke again and everything looked to be okay between them. But when Duque returned to the dugout he smashed his mitt down on the top rail.

Things fell apart two innings later. Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams started the fourth with consecutive singles. Then El Duque got Gary Sheffield to hit a grounder to the pitcher's mound. Duque pounced on the ball, turned expertly to second and threw. The only problem is that neither the shortstop and second baseman were at the bag (it was the shortstop's ball), and the ball sailed into the outfield. Duque grab at his head with both hands and screamed. His throw had been right on target. There just wasn't any target to catch it. Jeter scored and Williams advanced to third. Next, Rodriguez worked a full-count and then laced a slider down the left field line for a 2RBI double (lookit this perfect swing). He advance to third on a balk--Duque close to losing his poise. But then Matsui whiffed, AJ Pierzynski picked Rodriguez off, and Giambi struck out to end the inning.

The Yanks picked up single runs in the fifth (sac fly by Bernie Williams) and the seventh (RBI single by Tino Martinez). El Duque was unfairly charged with a second error when Matsui supposedly beat out a ground ball in the sixth. Duque's foot clearly touched first base but Matsui was ruled safe. By this point, it's lucky Hernandez didn't get himself tossed. It was almost absurd. Talk about "Not my day." It was as if some higher power was testing Duque's sanity yesterday.

His offense did not help in the slightest. Chacon pitched well again for the Yanks, but the White Sox did not pose any threat whatsoever. Their best opportunity came in the third inning. With two men on and nobody out, Timo Perez was up and it seemed as if he was going to bunt the runners over. But after he fell behind in the count, the Sox put on the hit-and-run, which resulted in Perez weakly lining into a 6-4 double play.

Otherwise, Chacon put the White Sox to sleep all afternoon. The game did not have much in the way of tension, and the crowd could not do much but sit on their hands. There were some frayed nerves, especially with El Duque, and I had the feeling that something might boil over, but it never happened. The White Sox have the feeling of a club that is going so badly that they'll start a fight just to get their blood moving again. I thought Pierzynski was going to be at the heart of something yesterday. He pumped his fist emphatically when he nailed Rodriguez off third, and when he grounded out to Chacon in the eighth, he gave the pitcher a little shoulder block. Chacon tagged him out but pushing his mitt into Pierzynski's back and the two exchanged words. But nothing came of it.

But sure enough, after the game, Pierzynski, who is the Bill Laimbeer of the American League, said:

"We have no fight right now...Maybe we need to get in a fight or something. Do something to get us going."

The White Sox sure need to do something to wake themselves up. Unfortunately, it'll be a tough day to get tough what with Randy Johnson on the hill for the Yanks today. I'd like to see 'em try something. Forgive me, but I just can't see Contreras mastering the Yanks twice. I'm not sure what to expect out of Johnson, but at this point I'll be disappointed if the Yanks don't leave Chicago with a sweep.

Comments (62)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2005-08-21 08:42:11
1.   singledd
"lookit this perfect swing":
ARod is so smooth and effortless that I never believed he tried hard and always thought he was overrated. I cound not match his stats to how he looked at the plate.
It has taken me a while to appreciate how good he is. But I guess thats the definition of a 'Natural'.

It was a good game for many reasons, the foremost being a shutout, AND by BB (bargain basement) Chacon. However, much like the previous series with these guys, the Yankees offense looks tired. 2 unearned runs helped, but I worry when they fail to 'cook'. It now seems when Giambi slumps, so does our O.

I don't know how the FO let Hernandez get away. After what he did last season, and under the conditions he did it under, he was a guy to sign. At 3.5 mil, he was a great bet. I know he was a gamble, but so was Wright (7 mil) and even RJ ($$$$).

Nice for KC to break their streak against Oakland.

As much as I HATE to see the Red Sox win the division, playing/traveling twice to Chicago would be better then playing/traveling to California (Oakland or Anaheim).

I hope someone knocks Damon out as the AVG leader. And I hope he is NOT in a Yankee uniform next year.

Lastly, John P. at OBM has a blurb on "Am I the only one who's noticed that ESPN's baseball page has morphed into an almost entirely pay for play format?"
Small thing, but this has pissed me off, and it is combination with tons of advertising.
Thats OK. Soon ESPN will be advcertising on this site in hopes of getting traffic back.
The mainstrewam media get worse and more expensive, while blogs (and especially this one) blow them away with content and commitment.

2005-08-21 08:44:33
2.   Cliff Corcoran
Two things, Alex. First, as Sterling and Waldman pointed out on the radio call, Hernandez throwing at Rodriguez might also have had something to do with the play in El Duque's last start against the Yanks in which Rodriguez prevented the Sox from doubling Sheffield off first by getting in the way of Dye's throw from right field despite having already been retired on the play (I describe it in more detail here:
http://bronxbanter.baseballtoaster.com/archives/226890.html#fold)

According to John and Suzyn, the White Sox were especially steamed at Rodriguez over that play.

Also, on El Duque's error, I think Hernandez was equally at fault. First of all, with Sheffield at the plate, the infield was playing him to pull, so it clearly was the second baseman's ball, but Duque's throw tailed toward shortstop. Of course, Uribe made no effort to catch it, so their both at fault there. Then again, with runners on first and second, El Duque should have gone to third with the ball, he would have had the lead runner easy and had an outside chance at an around-the-horn triple play (there were no outs at the time). Not that I think they could have beaten Sheffield to first, but El Duque botched that play in two different ways. Like you said, not his day.

2005-08-21 09:35:10
3.   Simone
Another good win. Chacon has really surprised me with his consistent quality starts. What is his contract status? Hopefully he is back next season.

This is El Duque. He had to have a good reason to throw at A-Rod so I buy Cliff's explanation.

Now that I have gotten my computer back, I've been reading all about Joe being in hot water with Steinbrenner. This is why Joe gets paid the big bucks.

2005-08-21 10:33:39
4.   Alex Belth
I had forgotten about that play with Rodriguez. I could see how the White Sox took exception to it, though I don't think Rodriguez pulled a Reggie. I think the contact was innocent.

Also, good point about the second baseman covering. Still, the shortstop was right there at the bag and it looked as if he and the second baseman did not know who should take the throw. Not to take Duque completely off-the-hook, but I guess that's the way things have been going for the White Sox these days.

Any chance we see some action today? It was hot and humid out there yesterday. I wonder if tensions erupt today. They will if AJ has anything to say about it.

Hopefully, Johnson has his good stuff.

2005-08-21 12:12:16
5.   rbj
Crap, Womack's in right. Isn't there anyone else on the bench who could spell Sheff for a game?
2005-08-21 12:20:25
6.   rbj
Ha Ha. Right after @#%@! "DJ" says Randy won't throw to pick off the runner, RJ does.

Too bad it won't shut those two up.

2005-08-21 12:23:14
7.   yankz
im watching mlb.tv but i get YES network...how does that work? that really sucks that you got stuck listening to those chicago clowns.
2005-08-21 13:04:41
8.   Zack
What is it with Randy giving up HRs to these non-power hitters?
2005-08-21 13:06:27
9.   Mattpat11
This is unfuckingbelivable
2005-08-21 13:08:27
10.   randym77
WTF????
2005-08-21 13:11:25
11.   Hank
You know, I never really liked Randy Johnson.
2005-08-21 13:11:25
12.   Tom Carroll
what the crap
2005-08-21 13:11:29
13.   watziznehm2
WTF Indeed!!!!!!!!!
2005-08-21 13:12:02
14.   Zack
SO can we put Johnson in the BP and bring back Small?
2005-08-21 13:12:15
15.   yankz
Hey, at least we only have Johnson for a few more years after this.
2005-08-21 13:12:23
16.   rbj
Did he hurt his back between innings? This is Jeklly and Hyde.
2005-08-21 13:13:09
17.   Marcus
Chris Widger?!?!?!?!?! AAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
2005-08-21 13:13:17
18.   Mattpat11
Every single time you think this team is going somwhere they pull this shit. EVERY SINGLE TIME
2005-08-21 13:15:11
19.   singledd
Did MK just say that RJ wasn't having a 'bad year'? Just 'less then expectations'? Thank God he's not having a bad year.

Has there EVER been a team this offensively challenged that has hit 4 HRs in one inning?

2005-08-21 13:15:21
20.   randym77
Randy Johnson has not been reliable this year. He may be the big money guy, but frankly, I'm more confident when Chacon or Small is on the mound than when he is.
2005-08-21 13:16:57
21.   BklynBomber
Indulge me for a moment. Let's say we sneak in the playoffs. Here's my rotation:

1. Moose
2. Chacon
3. Small/Wright
4. Pray for rain

2005-08-21 13:17:17
22.   Marcus
Wonderful, John Flaherty and Tony Womack up to start the rally after the 6-run inning.
2005-08-21 13:17:24
23.   Mattpat11
If we wanted someone to pitch like shit and give up homeruns like Milton, Vazquez was MORE than good at that.
2005-08-21 13:17:53
24.   watziznehm2
This guy is worse than Kevin effin Brown.
2005-08-21 13:18:54
25.   Tom Carroll
Once again the offense is going to have to try and pick up the worthless corpse of Randy Johnson.
2005-08-21 13:19:40
26.   yankz
Back to back to back home runs to the team with the lowest August batting average in the league. And then another home run to a backup catcher batting .257. How could a hall of fame pitcher be this bad? If he's injured again, he shouldn't be starting. I can't believe the Yankees and I didnt see this coming. The dude is old.
2005-08-21 13:20:14
27.   Hank
#20 -- Exactly right. With the Sox having lost seven straight, and Johnson on the mound, this game seemed tailor made for a Chicago win. More than anyone on this team -- more than Tony Womack, for Christ's sake -- Randy Johnson pisses me off. Remember when people used to be intimidated by this guy? When was the last time anyone looked uncomfortable, let alone afraid, in the box against him? You can complain all you want about Torre's misuse of the pen, but what if Johnson had fifteen wins right now? What if he had consistently gone deep into games the way a million dollar ace should? Might that have made a bit of a difference in the pen's performance? Randy Fucking Johnson.
2005-08-21 13:20:38
28.   yankz
I'm sick of them not getting the runner on 3rd home when there are less than 2 outs.
2005-08-21 13:21:01
29.   Mattpat11
WHY CANT WE HIT CONTRERAS?
2005-08-21 13:36:30
30.   rilkefan
I'm seeing 8 hits/5 innings against Contreras...
2005-08-21 13:39:03
31.   singledd
Where's Giambi today?
2005-08-21 13:39:31
32.   watziznehm2
Why not pinch hit for Flaherty here.......
2005-08-21 13:41:47
33.   Zack
Wow, how many times can Bernie has strike out with runners in scoring position and less than 2 outs?
2005-08-21 13:41:50
34.   singledd
With 2 men on, shouldn't Posada have been PH/batting for JF?
2005-08-21 13:42:55
35.   rilkefan
Can someone explain the play at second? I'm seeing "Matsui singled to 2nd, Arod out at 2nd".
2005-08-21 13:50:11
36.   rbj
rilkefan,
the ball, off the bat of Matsui, hit A-Rod. Alex tried to leap over it.
2005-08-21 13:50:51
37.   Rich
Send Johnson home, put him on the DL, or put him in the pen. He isn't one of the Yankees five best starters, and if he remains in the rotation, he could be the reason the Yankees don't make the playoffs.
2005-08-21 13:51:11
38.   vockins
Screw Randy Johnson. Why he keeps getting Flaherty to catch for him when the both of them suck so completely is beyond me. If Johnson wants special Bondsian treatment, he needs to perform at a Bondsian level. Until then, Posada should catch. I don't care if Jorge is calling Johnson's mother a whore during every mound visit.

This batting order is insane. I have to believe Torre is forming the lineup with a dartboard. Jesus.

2005-08-21 13:52:54
39.   watziznehm2
Randy fucking Johnson is the one who should be moved to the pen.
2005-08-21 13:52:58
40.   Tom Carroll
Tony Womack GO AWAY
2005-08-21 13:54:53
41.   watziznehm2
Isn't there anyone in Columbus who can take Womack's place!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2005-08-21 13:56:27
42.   yankz
Isn't there anyone in Columbus who can take Johnson's place!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sorry i couldnt resist

2005-08-21 14:02:36
43.   sam2175
Womack at least has 2 hits today. Same cannot be said of Johnson. Not that it is his fault, but the aforementioned Johnson transformed himself into Alex Graman/Eric Milton in the fourth inning.

As much as I hate seeing Womack in the line-up, it is Cashman/Torre's fault, and pretty much everyone could predict this showing from him (except maybe the above two worthies).

Johnson? I dont know if anyone saw THIS coming, I certainly didn't.

2005-08-21 14:08:46
44.   JeremyM
Maybe we should make an exception to our no mullets policy and allow Johnson to regrow his. I can't think of a Yankee I've liked less, well, maybe Mondesi but I knew he would stink. He's probably pithcing through pain and whatnot, but I still don't like him. And we've got him for 2 more years.
2005-08-21 14:08:59
45.   Paul in Boston
Johson's disastrous 4th inning came out of nowhere and, apparently, then went away. Does the guy just not have the mental toughness to pull himself together and pitch anymore? He gives up a 1-out home run to tie the game -- big deal. Who would have predicted what came next, especially the way he was mowing them down prior to then?

This is so frustrating. I'm hoping for a miracle comeback, but it's looking grim.

2005-08-21 14:15:16
46.   Rich
I hated the Johnson trade when it was made, and if Duncan had been included, as he was in the original deal, I would have tried to root for another team. You don't trade your only bona fide catching prospect when your starting catcher is at an age that often signals the beginning of a decline, as we may well be seeing now.
2005-08-21 14:17:05
47.   rilkefan
Paul, quite possibly his mechanics got out of whack that inning - he did miss some time - then he got back in form after a chance to rest.
2005-08-21 14:18:57
48.   rbj
Ah yes, no other big pitcher has ever had a bad inning. Johnson has been inconsistent this year, and he deserves the L today, but I'm not going to hang him for 1 bad inning.

What I want to know is why the hell has Contreras finally decided to start pitching. It would have been nice to have seen that a few years ago.

2005-08-21 14:20:58
49.   singledd
I guess it's too much to ask for KC to go on a 2 game winning streak?
2005-08-21 14:22:50
50.   watziznehm2
Now Posada comes in.. this is stupid.. he wasn't brought in with two on...this blows.
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2005-08-21 14:30:43
51.   Hank
...and a nice complete game for the Unit. I think Paul has a point. How can you completely lose it for one inning, and throw seven scoreless the rest of the game? Sure, his mechanics might've gone out of whack, but it sounds more like a loss of focus to me. It's hard to believe, but if I had to rank the starters in order of confidence, it would look like this:

1. Chacón
2. Mussina
3. Small
4. Wright
5. Johnson
6. Leiter

2005-08-21 14:40:54
52.   randym77
That wasn't just one bad inning. That was a record-setting, personal worst, shockingly horrible inning. And yet, he went on to finish the game. I've never seen anything like that.

And jeez, Contreras never pitched like that for us.

So, any word on Wang? Is he going to be back this season or what?

2005-08-21 14:47:35
53.   bnoj
Only Randy Johnson would be allowed to pitch a COMPLETE GAME after that 4th inning. If it was ANYONE ELSE, we would have seen Proctor and Friends ASAP.
2005-08-21 14:57:42
54.   Rich
One bad inning? His ERA is 4.36, his FIP going into today's game was almost four (3.92).

He's given up 29 HRs. At 41, soon to be 42, his chances of being better next season aren't overwhelming.

He wasn't acquired to keep his team in the game. He as acquired to be dominant.

It was the worst trade since Buhner for Phelps.

2005-08-21 15:05:29
55.   randym77
If it was anyone else, he probably wouldn't even have finished the 4th inning.
2005-08-21 15:13:44
56.   watziznehm2
Maybe KC can actually win again today :-)
2005-08-21 15:28:52
57.   rabid stan
How about that big plate of meatballs Randy Johnson served up today? Just delicious. And by delicious I mean terrible.

Here's how bad RJ was in the 4th:

When he faced Iguchi, Rowand and Konerko, they were averaging one HR roughly every 35, 43 and 13.5 AB's respectively. That means the odds of them going back-to-back-to-back were in the neighborhood of 20300 to 1.

Granted, they've been hotter lately than those numbers would suggest, but giving up three solo shots in a row, two of which to hitters with fewer than fifteen on the year... Inexcusable.

Especially sandwiched in between seven scoreless innings. (Maybe the Sox just decided they'd had their fill)

As for the one he gave up to Widger, that's more forgiveable. After all, the guys who hit four or five bombs a year have to get those off somebody. It's just too bad there were runners on base.

2005-08-21 15:48:44
58.   Bob Timmermann
Randy Johnson has given up the most home runs of any pitcher in the majors not named Eric Milton.
2005-08-21 16:13:31
59.   brockdc
The only solace I have right now is watching the Los Angeles Angels of Los Angeles Aneheim Angels t-off on Schilling in the bottom of the ninth.

What's the excuse this week, Randy? The back? The press? The clap?

Right now, I have more confidence in Leiter. He is maddening to watch but gives up comparatively fewer HR's.

"What I want to know is why the hell has Contreras finally decided to start pitching. It would have been nice to have seen that a few years ago."

Maybe it's the sore loser in me, but I'm quite frankly shocked that no one on the Yankees end (paging Mr. Sheffield!) has uttered a peep about this.

2005-08-21 17:08:25
60.   Linda
Consolation prize: at least KC kept the A's at bay and beat them in 12. On the other hand, I believe the Indians are the bigger threat in the WC race.
2005-08-21 19:24:10
61.   Max
Good point, Linda...people seem to forget that the Indians are only one game back of the Yankees. Have to hope Tampa Bay stays hot and gives the Tribe as much grief as they gave the Yanks.

There are a lot of reasons to be down on Randy Johnson, but somehow, I have a hard time holding this particular game against him. That home run Widger hit against him was one of the flukiest things I've seen...a two strike swing from a bargain basement hitter at a crazy high pitch, and it goes out of the park. Even Widger couldn't believe how lucky he was.

It's got to rank right down there with the double that the Mets' Dae Sung-Koo whacked against RJ last May. RJ may be unbelievably overpaid and deteriorating before our eyes, but his stuff is still good enough that his periodic Travis Harper/Danny Graves-type meltdowns are just baffling.

2005-08-22 05:32:01
62.   Knuckles
At what point does someone on the Yankees question the need for Flaherty to catch RJ all the time? He serves up the taters no matter who's behind the plate, so we might as well have a catcher back there who can bop.

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