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Heaven Sent
2006-08-15 04:58
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

"We need to clean up some of the stuff that we do," [Yankee manager, Joe] Torre said. "We've played better than this. And tonight we started to get into it at the end of the game, and I thought we played with a little more confidence. But I think we've been a little hesitant over the last few days."
(Michael Morrissey, N.Y. Post)

"They have a great offense and you're not going to go through a game without getting into a situation or two," [Angels' starter, John] Lackey said. "I was able to minimize the damage and give us a chance to win. If you want to be a playoff team you have to figure out how to win games like that."
(Doug Padilla, L.A. Daily News)

The Yankees beat the Angels 7-2 on Monday night, led by their slumping stars, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter. The Bombers pounded out 16 hits in all. The two most maligned Yankees, Randy Johnson and Alex Rodriguez, contributed as well, and the victory, combined with a Red Sox loss, puts New York two games ahead of Boston in the AL East (three ahead in the loss column).

After Jason Giambi ran through a stop-sign and was thrown out at the plate in the second inning, Jeter launched a two-run homer to dead center in the third. The score remained the same until the top of the seventh inning. Randy Johnson, who recorded the 4,500th strike out of his career in the fourth when he K'd Tim Salmon, was pitching well for the second-straight game. He allowed a one-out double to Jose Molina and then with two outs, the ever-pesky Chone Figgins slapped a slider that was low and out of the strike zone into center for an RBI single. Not a bad pitch by Johnson, who then left a fastball over the plate (it too was out-of-the-strike zone) to Howie Kendrick. The Angels' impressive young second baseman lofted a fly ball to deep right center. It hit off the wall, missing a home run by a few feet, good for an RBI double and the game was tied. Orlando Cabrera followed and hit a ground ball to Robinson Cano's backhand. The Yankee second basemen almost tripped over his feet on the lip of the outfield grass, but maintained his balanced and made the throw to first for the third out.

Johnny Damon led off the bottom of the seventh and blooped a single into left field. It came off a hanging breaking pitch--Lackey's curve ball repeatedly got him into trouble. Jeter then placed a beautiful bunt down the third base line, which he beat out for a single. Next, Joe Torre called for Bobby Abreu to bunt. (R'uh Oh.) Abreu had not laid down a successful sacrifice bunt since July 19, 1998, but on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, he tapped the ball towards third and almost beat the throw to first.

Giambi was intentionally walked, setting the stage for Rodriguez, who fouled off Lackey's first pitch (a fastball right down the c**k, as the old timer's like to say). Sitting at home, I let out a yell. That pitch was right there for him and he just missed it, aaarrggggh. Three pitches later, with the count 1-2, Rodriguez lined a fastball into the right field corner. For a moment, you had to think it might sneak over the wall for a dinger. But it didn't have the height and Vlad Guerrero made a nice catch with his back to the wall. Regardless, Damon tagged and scored and the Yanks had a lead that they would not relinquish.

Kyle Farnsworth threw smoke in the eighth and retired the Halos in order. Posada, who had been 0-for-his-last-25 coming into the game, lined Brendan Donnelly's first pitch into the right field seats to start the bottom of the eighth. The Yanks tacked-on three more runs before all was said and done (Vlad uncorked a hellacious peg on Giambi's sac fly which came close to nailing Damon at the plate--it had a little too much air perhaps, but displayed the power in Guerrero's arm all the same).

Rodriguez was given a gift single and RBI to end the scoring. With runners on the corners, it looked as if reliever J.C. Romero was going to pitch around Rodriguez. Perhaps Rodriguez thought so as well. Why else would he take a 3-1 fastball right over the plate? The Yankee third baseman then lunged at the pay-off pitch, a change-up that was off-the-plate. He tapped a ground ball to short to cap a poor at bat. But Orlando Cabrera misplayed the ball, a run scored, and somehow Rodriguez was rewarded. Hey, he'll take 'em where he can get 'em.

A good win for the Bombers and a nice way to start the week. The Yanks split the series with their west coast nemesis who are now five-and-a-half games behind the A's.

Comments
2006-08-15 05:47:57
1.   pistolpete
Awww...no more 'heaven' refs. after today.

Poopie.

2006-08-15 05:52:19
2.   bp1
Nice moment between Jorge and Unit after the 7th. Glad to see whatever problems they had last year are long in the past. Makes all the talk early this season seem kinda silly in retrospect.

Nice game. My palms were sweating when A-Rod came to the plate. Such drama. Geez. That first pitch was the one to crush and he just missed it. Glad he got that run in. That was big.

2006-08-15 05:53:57
3.   Alex Belth
That's all for the "Heaven" headlines. Hey, sometimes we've got to keep ourselves amused here for the heck of it. lol.
2006-08-15 06:14:47
4.   Dimelo
Alex - Was the heaven and hell from a few days ago inspired by the Raekwon song, Heaven and Hell?
2006-08-15 06:28:21
5.   Simone
Good win though it was tense for awhile. I always wanted the Yankees to sign Vlad. His defense along with his bat in this line up would have been explosive.
2006-08-15 06:58:30
6.   Sliced Bread
Like the Talking Heads sang, "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens."

I'll happily take the 2-2 split, the latest versions of RJ and Farnswacker, and never seeing Abreu bunt again (unless it's against a hobbled pitcher wearing a bloody sock).

2006-08-15 07:01:45
7.   Alex Belth
D, you know me all too well.
2006-08-15 07:05:25
8.   Dimelo
I understand that people don't want Abreu bunting, but I like the fact that Torre knew they'd then walk Giambi to get to ARod.

If Torre wants to keep throwing ARod into the fire, to see if ARod can get his sh|t together, then I'm all for it. So you're not hurt, ARod, here you go....bases loaded...put up or shut-up. I don't like the idea of Abreu bunting but if Torre wants to keep putting ARod to the test then I'm all for it.

I've never adovcated for ARod to be traded, but if he keeps failing and Torre purposely puts him in big situations then....I think the writing is on the wall at that point.

2006-08-15 07:09:41
9.   C2Coke
Yesterday, friends were visiting so I turned off the game on TV from the 3rd inning until the 7th. I swear, as soon as I turned it on, I went, wow, great Unit today, and RJ went on and gave the double. Within a few minutes, the runs scored were tied, and I kept on thinking, it was my fault...But I also knew they would get the runs back.
2006-08-15 07:16:33
10.   C2Coke
6 Sliced, I don't know how you do it. 8 times, heck, maybe even 9 times outta 10, I crack up reading your post. Keep rocking man!
2006-08-15 07:19:08
11.   Jason O
Or as John Belushi once said to Cab Calloway:

J: Curtis, I don't need no jive-ass preacher talkin' to me about Heaven and Hell!!

C: Jake, you get wise...you get to Church!!

2006-08-15 07:57:19
12.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
via www.ballbug.com:

this interesting piece on pitchers' tipping their pitches. http://tinyurl.com/qr9bq

(reigstration req'd, but, via bugmenot, try Username: me9@privacy.net and Password: password)

Along the way A-Rod puts paid to every Red Sawx fans' desperate hope that Beckett sux b/c he's tipping, and Joe Torre reveals that he consulted with Sandy Koufax earlier this season about whether RJ was tipping.

2006-08-15 08:10:49
13.   rsmith51
12 Interesting article. Too bad Andy was tipping in the 2001 W.S. I heard that the D-backs got scouting reports from a number of other teams that year before the series. I wonder if this was on it?
2006-08-15 08:33:05
14.   clearingskies
I think Yankees can take the AL East if they keep playing like they did last night. At Baseball Nooz, a new beta site, we'll be following them every day to find out. Today we co-featured Bronx Banter on our Community Page. Take a minute and check out all the feeds from blogs and news sources at Baseball Nooz. It's all baseball, all the time. It's easy and free to register, too. When you do, you can choose the feeds you like most and build a custom baseball news page.
Register to be part of Baseball Nooz, then you can follow us following the Yankees.

Best of luck battling for the AL East crown,
Walter Roark (editor)
http://www.baseballnooz.com/

2006-08-15 08:56:56
15.   singledd
Below is a compilation of remaining games of the Yankees and Red Sox.

Observations:
The Sox still play the White Sox and Oakland.... we have games against TB instead.
We have a 6 game trip out west, the Sox have a 9 game trip out west.
We have 17 games against TB and Baltimore, the Sox have 8.
The Sox have 3 more HOME games then us.

Our Key (aside from Head to Head)
Beating up on TB and Baltimore (17 games)
Their Key (aside from Head to Head)
Beating the White Sox and Oakland (6 games)

--------- NYY BOS
--------- H/A H/A
Detroit-- 3/0 2/0
Bos/NY--- 4/5 5/4
White Sox --- 3/0
Minnesota 3/0 3/0
Oakland A --- 0/3
LA Angels 0/3 0/3
Toronto-- 3/3 4/4
Baltimore 6/4 3/3
Seattle-- 0/2 0/3
TB Devils 3/4 2/0
KC Royals 0/3 3/0
------------------------
________ 22/24 25/20

2006-08-15 09:02:45
16.   singledd
5
Vlad:
2004 .337 .391 .598 .989
2005 .317 .394 .565 .959
2006 .314 .367 .529 .896

Shef:
2004 .290 .393 .534 .927
2005 .291 .379 .512 .891
2006 .309 .372 .439 .811

Vlad is obviously much better on D and throwing, about 65 pts better on OPS.

on Offense, Shef was not that much worse.

2006-08-15 09:03:39
17.   unpopster
15 that's great! Looks like based on opponents, the remaining schedule greatly benefits the Yanks. More reason to be confident in this team!
2006-08-15 09:20:12
18.   mehmattski
4 6 11

I know Alex is more into hip hop, but if I were writing headlines I totally would have ended the heaven binge with some Pink Floyd:

"So you think you can tell
Heaven from hell?
Blue skies from rain?
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail
Do you think you can tell?"

2006-08-15 09:31:17
19.   Alvaro Espinoza
8 Torre's reasoning:

"I talked to Larry Bowa, who managed [Abreu for four years], and he knew he'd never asked him to bunt," Torre said. "Bobby hasn't been swinging the bat as well as he was four or five days ago, or I might've done something different. In that situation, I've got to get a run."

I still don't like the call.

2006-08-15 09:35:22
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."

You can riff on that next time if the spirit moves you, Alex.

:)

2006-08-15 09:41:57
21.   Dimelo
19 What's Torre suppose to say? It's not like he's going to say what everyone already knows,
"Given that ARod has been playing like a big vagina, I wanted to see if he can break out of his unclutch funk and start hitting the ball like he's suppose to. Eventually this very high paid p***y is gonna have to do something to warrant a place on this team next year. I asked Abreu to bunt so that I can test ARod. Nothing more, nothing less".

If you read between the lines, I think that's what Torre is saying. Again, up until a few days ago I was a huge ARod supporter but he's testing me and I wish he'd shut the f- up already.

2006-08-15 09:52:04
22.   Sliced Bread
Interesting that Joe is being somewhat coy about Ponson's schedule this week (says Sid will start on Friday if he's not used earlier in the week).

Any chance the Yanks will deploy Sir Pantsalot in the Orioles series, and reserve Lidle or Wright for Friday at Fenway? I would.

I'd also like to see how Dotel simmers in the Bronx frying pan before throwing him into the Fenway fire this weekend. Any chance Octavio makes his debut against the O's?

2006-08-15 10:15:13
23.   Bama Yankee
Ditto to C2Coke 10, glad to see you back. I have missed the "Daily (Sliced) Bread".
2006-08-15 10:20:26
24.   JL25and3
21 I'm not sure what the beef is today. Rodriguez got the go-ahead run in from third, which was his job - and which the Yankees haven't always done too well recently. If there's such a thing as clutch, why doesn't that count? He also took the ball the other way and hit it solidly, both of which were nice to see.
2006-08-15 10:28:19
25.   Dimelo
24 I'm not beefing about ARod. I was just responding to what 19 said. In 8 I had said that I don't approve of Abreu bunting, but I think it's good to know that Torre knew they would walk Giambi to get to ARod. Even though Torre didn't "officially" say that.
2006-08-15 10:48:06
26.   Alvaro Espinoza
25 I think you're reading too much into it.
2006-08-15 11:25:59
27.   cult of basebaal
it was nice to see arod come through and get the job done in that situation, it was a big moment

it also, imho, let abreu off the hook for misplaying kendrick's flyball double. it would have been difficult, but he totally avoided taking an aggressive route to the ball, hell, it hit the wall a good 5 feet behind him. i don't want our outfielders running through walls, but that was a playable ball that would have a been a good, but makeable play

2006-08-15 11:28:42
28.   AbbyNormal821
12 (& anyone else who wants to throw their knowledge in) - Great read on the tipping pitches. I had a couple of questions, as I'm always looking to up my baseball "street cred" ;-).
So, is "tipping" pitches more about the body angle when the pitcher gets ready to throw? Is it how he holds the ball? How his arm angle is? Is it that the batter can see the way the ball is being held at the point of release so that they can adjust their swing? Is it something that a pitcher would deliberately do and if so, why would they?

I think I'm done with the questions on this...have at it, y'all!

2006-08-15 11:36:56
29.   Sandman42
21 I don't believe that. A-Rod's plate appearance decided the game. Joe's trying to win, not prove a point. That's so convoluted anyway, counting on Bobby to successfully sacrifice so they'd walk Jason to load the bases.
2006-08-15 11:48:01
30.   nick
28 let's just say if the organist plays "Still Tippin" every time you take the mound, it's not a good sign...
2006-08-15 11:49:08
31.   Cliff Corcoran
FWIW, sacrificing a runner to third with no outs late in a tied game is one of the few times it's a good call, especially with two runners on when the DP is still in order and a bunt moves both into scoring position and there are still bit boppers due up. Jeter bunting was the stupid call, but then again he's been slumping and by beating the throw he made it a non-issue. Abreu bunting was legit.
2006-08-15 12:05:41
32.   Sliced Bread
31 Agreed it was legit and by no means reckless, but the fact that Abreu hadn't sac bunted since the summer of '98 makes it a questionable call.
Abreu's on-base percentage suggests he probably had as good a chance of being walked (or even hit by the pitch!) as he did executing that bunt.

Luckily, he got the job done, but I think swinging would have been the safer bet in that situation.

2006-08-15 12:13:17
33.   Alvaro Espinoza
31 I can't find it but I'm fairly certain I heard/read that Jeter bunted on his own FWIW.

As for Abreu, at this point it's not a debate worth taking up - game is over, Yanks win, etc., - but I couldn't disagree more. No bunting with your 3 hitter, especially one that hasn't bunted in 8 years. As we saw, Giambi gets the IBB and an inning-ending DP is set up. And you've taken the bat out of not 1 but 2 boppers hands.

2006-08-15 12:24:25
34.   mehmattski
Here's a link to Dan Levitt's "Empirical Analysis of Bunting," posted back in July over at Baseball analysts:

http://tinyurl.com/emucl

If I'm reading his charts correctly, then this situation (1st/2nd, 0 outs, 3rd hitter up) has a run expectancy of 1.609. The latter situation (2nd/3rd, 1 out, 4th hitter up) is 1.445. Given that Torre probably guessed that Giambi would be walked, the next situation (bases loaded, 1 out, 5th batter up) the run expectancy is 1.532. So Abreu bunting, in the long hall of infinite iterations, results in 0.077 runs/inning.

2006-08-15 12:44:05
35.   JL25and3
31 I'm with you on this one. Weaver's Sixth Law applies here: Don't play for one run unless you know that run will win a ballgame. Bottom 7th, tie game, offense not doing much, strong and rested bullpen - go for the run. Bunting with your third hitter means that you've got your fourth and fifth to get the run in, which isn't such a bad thing.
2006-08-15 12:57:04
36.   tommyl
34 Um, isn't that -.077?
2006-08-15 13:08:46
37.   mehmattski
36 Yes, yes it is. I should have said "costs 0.007 runs/inning," but I didn't. I was still thinking about the Blue Jay's 1989 first base coach (see Humbug's Mystery Photo #5 post)

My point is that of all the seemingly terrible situations in which to bunt, this is not one that is disastrous. The intangibles at work are the ability of the hitter to bunt (which was completely unknown), and the perceived performance of that hitter if we were to swing away (Abreu was struggling a bit). Given that a successful bunt would probably result in a bases loaded situation, I don't hate the call. And I love that A-Rod was able to make them pay a bit for walking Giambi.

2006-08-15 13:09:03
38.   Sliced Bread
My feeling at the time, based on how awkward Abreu appeared squaring off, was that he would foul out to the catcher, or pop up the bunt to the pitcher, and the out was going to be wasted.

It turned out to be the right call because Abreu got the bunt down, and the runner to third, and A-Rod got him home. Whew.

Going forward, it's good that Abreu knows he can lay one down if required, but here's hoping it's a loooong time before that happens again.

2006-08-15 13:18:00
39.   Bama Yankee
28 Abby, here is an article about tipping pitches that you might find interesting:

http://tinyurl.com/g8dhd

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