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Heaven Is A Place On Earth
2006-08-12 14:01
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

After a couple of ugly losses, the Yankees breezed to victory this afternoon on an impossibly beautiful Saturday in the Bronx. Jaret Wright was up to his usual tricks in the first, walking the speedy Chone Figgins on five pitches to start the game and the dangerous Vlad Guerrero on four pitches after a pair of foul outs by Maicer Izturis and Orlando Carbrera. The hot-hitting Juan Rivera then singled to right to plate Figgins, but Guerrero failed to respect Bobby Abreu's arm and was nailed trying to go first to third when Abreu fired a one-hop strike to Alex Rodriguez to end the inning (it was the first of two crucial baserunning gaffes by the Impaler, who was later picked off second by Jorge Posada to kill an Angel rally in the sixth). That play just might have been the key to the ball game, as Wright settled down from there, facing the minimum over the next three innings and pitching around a pair of walks in the fifth.

Meanwhile, the Yankees got all the runs they needed in the second inning on a pair of home runs by Robinson Cano, a three-run shot, and Johnny Damon, a two-out, two-run job. Cano's homer was an absolute blast, landing half way up in section 41 of the right field bleachers. I had been concerned about Cano's loss of power during the first half of the season. His slugging percentage was below .400 as late as June 4 at which point just 14 of his 63 hits had gone for extra bases. Since then, however, he's smacked another 14 pitches for extra bases over a span of just 35 hits and in his first five games since being activated from the DL six of his nine hits have gone for extra bags, including this afternoon's dinger, his second in four games which accounts for a full third of his 2006 home run total. As for Damon, his shot just cleared the right field wall and slipped into the old Yankee bullpen. It was Damon's 16th homer of the year, putting him on pace for 23 on the season. His current career high is 20. Ten of those 16 homers have come at Yankee Stadium, all of them going to the short porch in right.

The Angels picked up a run off Scott Proctor in the seventh when rookie Howie Kendrick doubled into the gap in left, Adam Kennedy singled him to third, and Jose Molina scored him with a sac fly to right that knuckled on Abreu, preventing him from setting his feet for a strong throw to the plate. But that was all they'd get. Farnsworth and Rivera followed Proctor with a pair of perfect innings, both requiring just ten pitches eight of which were strikes, and the Yankees evened the series with a 5-2 win.

The series will now be decided by a pair of fantastic pitching match-ups, emerging Yankee ace (at least at home) Chien-Ming Wang against rookie sensation Jered Weaver tomorrow afternoon, and all-or-nothing future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson against John Lackey, who at age 27 is suddenly the veteran ace of this exciting young Angels rotation, Monday night. If this weather holds up, and it should, we're in for a real treat.

Comments
2006-08-12 15:03:20
1.   kylepetterson
I just wanted to use the #1 spot to say that I am awesome.
2006-08-12 15:13:05
2.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Best. Comment. Ever.
2006-08-12 15:16:22
3.   Chyll Will
And I lay claim to Supreme.

Chuckle-inducing phrase: "the hot-hitting Juan Rivera"... seems like yesterday he was being Melky'd by the Yankee field management, and never had the gumption to pick him back up for chump change. Perhaps his overall stats didn't warrant the consideration, but it might turn out to be another regrettable loss in the near future.

2006-08-12 15:19:43
4.   Chyll Will
3 Reading that over again, I seem rather tipsy. Perhaps it was the Mr. Softee I just downed after waiting 35 minutes for him to roll up the block. Sorry...
2006-08-12 15:21:46
5.   Cliff Corcoran
Rivera has better numbers than Vlad this year. He's 28 now and is something of a Chris Wilson type, a tad less power, a lot less patience, but a very useful fourth outfielder. Replace Bernie on the Yankee roster with Juan Rivera and you've really got something.
2006-08-12 15:22:36
6.   Cliff Corcoran
DAMNIT! Craig Wilson. I have to stop doing that. Brandon Arroyo would kill me if he found out.
2006-08-12 15:23:21
7.   Bob Timmermann
I only know what Mr. Softee is because it was an answer in Friday's NYT crossword.
2006-08-12 15:24:15
8.   Bob Timmermann
6

I called him Brandon Arroyo in a post on the Griddle this week. In fairness, it was in a paragraph after writing about the DBacks who have three Brandons on the roster.

2006-08-12 15:40:31
9.   SF Yanks
Question: Would you like to see Boston not even make the playoffs or make the playoffs but get spanked by the Yanks? I am rooting for them to not even make it, but if they do, I have a feeling they will get crushed (which might hurt even more for Bawston fans).
2006-08-12 15:58:00
10.   kylepetterson
I would like to see them tie the White Sox for the wild card only to lose in the bikini competition.
2006-08-12 16:42:31
11.   Cliff Corcoran
9 I'd like them not to make it at all.
2006-08-12 17:36:28
12.   randym77
YES is showing that game where A-Rod hit three homeruns and had 10 RBIs against the Angels.

Carl Pavano pitched that game. I'd completely forgotten that. He went seven innings, then turned it over to Colter Bean.

2006-08-12 17:37:02
13.   Chyll Will
11...and fall behind Cleveland...
2006-08-12 17:38:52
14.   Chyll Will
12 You mean Mr. Softee and Never Bean?
2006-08-12 17:56:36
15.   randym77
If Colter Bean comes in tonight for Columbus, he'll tie a record that's stood for over a century. I think. IIRC, he's only one game away.

The Newsday blog reports that Andy Phillips had a guitar delivered to the Yankees clubhouse. He bought it for his wife. He asked Bernie Williams to tune it for him, and Bernie ended up giving an impromtu concert.

2006-08-12 18:14:57
16.   Chyll Will
15 Cool! Bean gets to break his own record!

Bernie is all class. In response to a thread that questioned why bernie seems to get a free pass from the Yankee faithful while A-Rod takes the heat, Bernie has much more of a track record with Yankee fans in regard to his accomplishments and contributions, not to mention he was never called on to be THE star and THE leader when he did those things. This year is a love in for him for that reason and that we kinda hope he'll go out on top. I don't think it'll be the same at all if he sticks around another year, especially if it prevents the Yankees from signing a big bat next year (i.e. Sheffield or even Dye). At any rate, it's gestures like that which make him a superstar beyond his ability.

2006-08-12 18:27:41
17.   Southern Yankee
"Ten of those 16 homers have come at Yankee Stadium, all of them going to the short porch in right"

I object to this lack of respect to Damon !!!

I can remember him hitting at least 4 upper decker's this year and I'm willing to bet there were more.

I'm nonplussed by a big fan like Cliff making the same kind of "put down" we hear from visiting commentators. Even when the ball travels 385 to 400 + ft they mention the short porch.

Take it back Cliff!

2006-08-12 18:27:59
18.   BklynBmr
9 Hey, SF — In case you didn't catch it in today's Chronicle: Looks like the Yanks are coming to the ballpark in China Basin for next season's Interleague, which'll be AL East vs NL West again. Don't know whether to get great seats or do the boat thing in McCovey Cove to grab one of Giambi's 'splash hits'...
2006-08-12 19:00:27
19.   Benny
Can anyone tell me AROD's success rate when he is at bat with a runner on third with less than 2 out? (success is defined as scoring the runner from third). The last 4 times I have seen AROD up in this situation, he has failed.

There is something really wrong with that guy.

2006-08-12 19:05:37
20.   SF Yanks
19 No, I didn't know that but thanks for tellin' me. Thats a hot topic with a bunch of buddies of mine, of who's gonna bash who. I need to hop all over that. Probably gonna get tickets to all the games and sit everywhere. Do you know how soon we are able to get tickets? Yes, I can't wait!
2006-08-12 19:06:24
21.   SF Yanks
20 meant for 18
2006-08-12 19:17:06
22.   Chyll Will
8 He cranks it up when you call him Brandon.
2006-08-12 19:21:22
23.   Chyll Will
21 Aww... when you read that as sarcasm, it was like kylepetterson 1!
2006-08-12 19:34:35
24.   mehmattski
This website:

http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2006_3453&type=hitter

shows that 8 of his 13 home runs recorded have indeed gone to right field- not odd for a lefty line drive hitter. According to the map, it appears that the "True Distance," of each home run in Yankee stadium went at least 350 feet, long enough to clear the right field wall of every stadium this side of the Polo Grounds.

2006-08-12 19:50:56
25.   BklynBmr
20 Same here on the tickets — I can find out Monday what the scoop is. Next year is gonna be tough for any game, given the ticket pre-sale stunt the front office pulled last year after it was announced the '07 All-Star game will be played here. I'll definitely keep you posted...
2006-08-12 20:02:12
26.   randym77
19 IIRC...yesteday, Michael Kay said it was 40%. The lowest in MLB, except for one guy who's at 38%.

Watching recent Yankees Classics (the 3 homer game tonight, the Jeter-into-the-stands game yesterday), I'm really struck at the difference between A-Rod in 2004-2005, and A-Rod this year. He's so nervous now, on offense and defense. He was so calm and confident last year. He's like a completely different player.

2006-08-12 20:43:44
27.   Southern Yankee
thank you mehmattski.

That short porch crap applies to down the line shots.

And unfortunately, also the left field line sometimes (2004 6th game). Damon's Hrs this year have been good shots for the most part.

2006-08-12 20:59:54
28.   Cliff Corcoran
26 We covered Rodriguez's performance with a man on third and less than two outs the other day in a game thread. Forty percent would fit with the stats we pulled up (our guess due to noise in the numbers was that he scored the runner a bit less than half the time), but we weren't sure how it compared to the league.

24 Well, it's 10 of 16 now, and it wasn't meant as a slight 17, I know he's hit a few upper deck shots. I pointed it out because when the Yanks signed Damon I suggested that he'd hit more homers by aiming for the short porch. Someone argued with me by saying he had the Pesky Pole to shoot for in Boston. My arguement was that in Fenway you try to go to left to hit doubles off the Monster (and the odd shot over it) and in the Bronx you pull more pitches going after that short wall. That his homers have gone far enough to get out everywhere isn't the point. He has just 6 road homers and 10 at home, all right field. The reason is his approach is different at the Stadium. His MLB hit charts (see the MLB link next to his name on the side bar) supports this. Check the distribution of his extra base hits in Fenway in 2005 and Yankee Stadium in 2006, you'll see his approach was different in his home park last year, oodles of doubles, the majority of them to left. This year he has more homers than doubles at home, all of them to right.

2006-08-12 21:01:57
29.   bobtaco
25 20 Please keep me posted too. I definitely want to get good seats to all of those games.
2006-08-12 21:11:12
30.   Southern Yankee
For those of you who never saw the Polo Grounds let me tell you it was a joke. Center field (see Willie's legendary catch of Wertz's long drive) went deeper and deeper than the old Yankee stadium. Just unbelievable. But right and left field lines were so short (254 to right and less than 300 to left) that I could hit a whiffle ball out there.

I sat in upper deck right field for 2nd game of '51 playoff (Dodgers won 10 -0 behind Clem Labine).Rube Walker hit one into the lower deck (that I couldn't see) that travelled no more than 260 feet. The sad part was that I wasn't there for the real contest that took place the next day when Thomson hit the "shot heard around the world" . Only heard the call for that one from the outer entrance of a bar in Manhattan. I was too young to be inside. That Homer travelled less than 300 feet also. I missed history by a day and also a day of school.

Later I repeated my bad timing by standing in line with my buddies all night at the Stadium to get bleacher seats for the Dodger/Yankee WS game the day BEFORE Larsen's perfect game.

2006-08-12 21:19:23
31.   Southern Yankee
"The reason is his approach is different at the Stadium"

OK I buy that.
But the result is that he hits homers into the right field seats (upper and lower) NOT the "short porch" !!!

2006-08-12 22:52:22
32.   BklynBmr
29 On the ticket info — absolutely, bobt. We should have a Bronx Banter/NoCal Chapter hookup. Meet at Lefty O'Doul's for breakfast and go from there ;-)

30 Keep it comin', brother. Great stuff...

2006-08-13 05:23:32
33.   Benny
19. Thanks for the info. I knew it had to be under 50%. You figure an average player should be at 70%. And a superstar should be around 80%.

Just more proof that Arod gets tight in key situations.

2006-08-13 05:30:41
34.   DarrenF
33 I think an average player is around 50% and a superstar is around 60%. I doubt you'll find anybody who's 80% if the sample size is reasonably high.
2006-08-13 06:09:38
35.   mehmattski
28 Some other information to add, Cliff, is his total balls hit in play spread: he's hit 41% of his balls in play to the right side (21% on the infield, 20% to the outfield), compared to 30% to center and 29% to left. ESPN only has data from this season, but it appears he's pulling the ball more overall.

From 2003 to 2005 Damon had a fair sample of 127 PA at Yankee Stadium. He hit just 3 HR. In 260 total PA against the Yanks (03-05), he had 6 HR. So if there is any effect of trying to hit homers at Yankee Stadium, it was absent before this season. However it does show that in his career he has 13 homers at YS, all of them to right field. But at Fenway Park, he has 23 homers, all but one to right field. And since you brought up doubles... without counting all of them, it looks like his Yankee Stadium doubles spread and Fenway Park doubles spread are about the same... lots down the line in each direction, a few to the left field gap. And the other AL East parks, in which he's had substantial at bats since 1999, show a similar pattern: all homers to right or right center, most of the doubles to right. Fenway is the only exception, with lots of slap doubles off the Monster.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I don't see evidence that Damon is doing anything different in YS against any other stadium- he's just a pull hitter, with the occasional slap hit the other way.

2006-08-13 06:24:14
36.   joe in boston
good stuff today as always especially 1 ha ha.

Here's a link about a mens over 30 league up here in New England, it's written by a former student of mine. Some of you might find it interesting:

http://www.eagletribune.com/siteSearch/apstorysection/local_story_225064103

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