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Don't Mess With Texas
2007-08-07 20:01
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

First of all, the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 9-2 last night. With that they won the series, giving them wins in nine of their last ten series. Prior to that, the Yankees had won just ten of their first 26 series. The Yankees were 38-41 (.481) prior to these last ten series, and are 25-9 (.735) since. With one game left in the cupcake portion of their schedule, the Yankees have gone 20-7 (.740). They are now 63-50 (.558) on the season and a half-game behind in the Wild Card race behind the Tigers (who also won last night). Revisiting my post-All-Star-break math, if the Yankees go 12-11 against the contenders left on their schedule (Detroit, Cleveland, Boston, Seattle, and the Angels), and win all of their remaining series against the cupcakes (Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays), they'll finish the season 92-70. Based on their current winning percentage, the Tigers are on pace to win 91.2 games. If the Yankees can do better than 12-11 against the good teams (especially in their whopping eight games against those Tigers), the Wild Card should be theirs.

Second of all, Roger Clemens was aces last night, allowing just two hits through six innings while striking out six and walking just one. Oh, he also hit a batter.

You see, Jesse Litsch threw at Alex Rodriguez in Monday's game as likely retaliation for the Rod Said "Ha!" incident. The only problem is that Litsch missed. Last night's starter Josh Towers is known for his excellent control, so he didn't miss when throwing at Rodriguez's knees last night after allowing an RBI triple to Bobby Abreu which broke the scoreless tie in the third. Rodriguez didn't take kindly to Towers reopening what he had figured was finished business after Litsch's pitch on Monday and informed Towers of such. Just to be sure they were clear on the matter both teams came out onto the field to make sure they understood. With that cleared up, Rodriguez took first base and everyone else took their seats, but apparently Towers had one more point to make and Rodriguez summoned the teams back out to the field to make sure things were properly resolved. The umpires, apparently displeased by the length of these deliberations, warned both benches that they would not be allowed back on the field to debate the subject any further and thus when Clemens drilled Alex Rios in the back with his second pitch of the seventh inning, they asked him to leave the field. Having thrown 90 pitches and with his team up 7-0, Clemens was happy to oblige, thanking home plate umpire Angel Hernandez effusely on his way toward the Yankee dugout.

Incidentally, those other six runs scored thanks to a two-RBI double by Jorge Posada that immediately followed the initial discussions, a Melky Cabrera triple that was plated in the fourth, and three more runs that scored in the sixth. That sixth inning started with Shelley Duncan singling to drive Towers from the game. Cabrera, who had doubled and tripled in two trips to that point and would add another double later, attempted to bunt Duncan over to second, but Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun pounced on the ball and fired to second where, just as John McDonald was about to receive the ball, Duncan barreled in with a flying drop kick slide that not only knocked the ball into shallow right, but knocked the glove off McDonald's hand and McDonald on his keister. The best part about Duncan's slide, other than the fact that all hands were safe and the Yankees rallied to score three runs in the inning, was that it was perfectly legal. McDonald was on the bag, as was the slide. No one felt the need to converse about it.

Jim Brower replaced Clemens in the seventh and proved that he's still not a major league-quality pitcher (he's the "2" in the game's 9-2 final). Joba Chamberlain did quite the opposite in getting the final six outs.

Chamberlain, who walked just 2.75 men per nine innings in the minors, walked two and allowed a single, but didn't allow a run and struck out two. The walks were the result of nerves and, as both Torre and Chamberlain said after the game, his flying open a bit early on his fastball. That's unlikely to persist. What will persist is his mid-90s velocity on that fastball and the nasty break on his curve and slider, the latter of which nearly corkscrews down and away from right-handed batters. All I really needed to know about Chamberlain, however, I learned from the way he handled his very first batter in the major leagues.

Rey Olmedo is hardly what you'd call a major league hitter, but he was the first man Chamberlain faced in a major league game. With the switch-hitting Olmedo batting lefty, Chamberlain's first major league pitch was a 96-mile-per-hour sinking fastball that just missed the outside corner. His next pitch was the same but lower and a bit further outside, 2-0. He then poured a 95-mile-per-hour fastball right down the middle at the knees for a strike and again just barely missed outside with a 96-mile-per-hour belt-high fastball. So here he is behind 3-1 on his first major league hitter. Chamberlain takes the throw back from Posada, looks in and shakes Posada off once. Then twice. Then a third time. Finally, he calls Posada out to the mound. With his glove over his mouth, he meets his catcher at the base of the mound and starts telling Jorge what he wants to do as Posada's still jogging toward him. Jorge responds briefly. Chamberlain nods, pats Posada on the chest protector, returns to the rubber and fires a 95-mile-per-hour sinking fastball that catches the outside corner for strike two, then breaks off a wicked 12-to-6 curve (or was it a splitter?) that starts out at the letters, dives to the knees as Olmedo swings over it, and finishes in the dirt. Straight nasty. Welcome to the big leagues, Joba. Get comfortable.

Oh, and there's a new home run champion of all time, and it's Barry Bonds. In a wicked bit of irony, Bud Selig wasn't there because he was meeting with chief steroid investigator George Mitchell. Seriously.

Comments
2007-08-07 22:38:19
1.   yankz
That was one of the best recaps I've ever read. From the A-rod to Clemens Joba to Bonds, it was awesome. Thanks.
2007-08-07 23:55:35
2.   Mr OK Jazz TOKYO
New to the Toaster, thanks for all the great info. Really helps me keep up to date while over here, where live games are on tv at 8AM...can sneak a listen online while at work on occasion, but....

Question: Anyone hear Michael Kay's interview with Franz Lidz the other day? I heard that Kay went way over the top in attacking the guy, and came off like a real Streinbrenner lackey...

2007-08-08 00:54:45
3.   bartap74
1 What he said. Excellent recap.
2007-08-08 03:31:05
4.   joejoejoe
Great recap Cliff.

Q: What is the correct way to pronounce Joba?

2007-08-08 04:03:38
5.   JL25and3
4 A: Like the Hutt.

2 Wasn't Franz Lidz the guy who wrote the Hungarian Rhapsodies?

2007-08-08 04:18:11
6.   randym77
It was a New Yorker who caught Bonds' home run ball. A Mets fan.

Me, I'm hoping to see A-Rod take the record from Bonds one day.

2007-08-08 04:23:25
7.   OldYanksFan
5 games behind Boston now. Hard to believe.
2007-08-08 04:24:41
8.   monkeypants
...And Pete Abe manages an ever-so-swipe at Josh Phelps. Good to see they're still unashamed of their fetishes at LoHud and Was Watching.
2007-08-08 04:42:57
9.   The Mick 536
Nice job. Lots of streaming sarcasm. Info. Insight. Hope. Brought me up to date.

Back in the race until the end. Who'd a thought.

As much as I didn't want to watch, I did. Mays looked old. Bonds his usual vapid self. Dad. Dad. Hank didn't look or sound all that sincere. Thought the pitcher should have bounced a slider after the foul. Knew Barry was going for it. Glad its over so the interruptions will stop.

Great slide, eh.

2007-08-08 05:50:26
10.   Shaun P
6 Did anyone else see a guy near where the ball landed who looked like he was wearing a road gray #13 Yankees jersey?

BP Postseason Odds, as of this morning:

AL Wildcard
Yanks 48.96412
Tigers 14.31478
Indians 14.13395
Red Sox 7.69469
M's 7.63966
Angels 3.14983
Twins 1.86257
Jays 1.75617

Yanks' odds are up slightly from yesterday.

AL East
Red Sox 90.80064
Yanks 9.07042

Last time the Sox's odds of winning the division were below 91%: June 15th.
Last time the Yanks' odds of winning the division were over 9%: June 19th.

And according to BP's Pythagenport calculations, this morning the AL East looks like this:

Yanks 71-42*
Sox 69-44

*Best record in baseball

Yanks are underperforming their projected record by 8 games - the most ever under Joe Torre (if the season ended today). In fact, usually they outperform it!

2007-08-08 05:56:07
11.   ChuckM
10 He wasn't just wearing the jersey, he had a Yankee cap on too...
2007-08-08 06:21:00
12.   Yankee Fan In Boston
fantastic recap, cliff. i checked here before i went to watch the condensed game at mlb.com. now i'm just going to go straight to joba's debut.

these are exciting times.

back in the race (both races now). the roster is improving without sacrificing next season and beyond. the kids are playing really well (melky, cano, joba...)

also, the sox are talking extension with mike lowell. if they agree to a deal, that could (possibly) take some of the wind out of scott boras' sails. my fingers are crossed.

2007-08-08 06:23:41
13.   Alex Belth
Franz actually wrote a memoir about his uncles that was made into a movie by Diane Keaton called "Unsung Heroes." John Turturro and Michael Richards were in it and I thought it was good.
2007-08-08 06:36:49
14.   ny2ca2dc
12 "also, the sox are talking extension with mike lowell. if they agree to a deal, that could (possibly) take some of the wind out of scott boras' sails. my fingers are crossed."

Boy would that be nice. got any links?

Also, check out the articles from The Star, they're pretty dismissive of their Jays. HA! http://www.thestar.com/sports/baseball

2007-08-08 06:42:48
15.   yanster
Thanks so much for the excellent recap. That last paragraph on the Hut really got my heart beating after missing the game last night.

I'm really impressed that Clemens stepped forward and did the right thing when he was good and ready. He doesn't really need this crap to deal with. But in the same way Lance Armstrong, as the senior leader, policed the peloton, Clemens, as a senior leader, was right to restore balance to the game. I think it was pretty heroic, actually. And I'm sure the suspension won't be the minimum. I'm not a fan of this extra curricular activity, but I don't see any other way of dealing with it. It's important both for Toronto and other teams to know that there can be consequences (even though I think the yankees trail most teams in batters hit).

2007-08-08 06:46:22
16.   OldYanksFan
Question:
Hughes and Hutty are the 3rd and 4th youngest players im MLB.
Cano and Melky are quite young.
Andy and Shelly, while not young in years, are still farm hands who are hungry to establish themselves.
And of course the quietman, Wang.
I will assume Edwar "noWind" will be up soon.
And of course, we have an assortment of Karstens, Henns, Clippards and the like in the wings.

So the Yankees now have 8 kids out of 25 on there roster. And they will all see playing time, and will all be counted on to bring us into and through the post-season.

8 of 25! When's the last time this happened?

It happened when we weren't looking, but we have seen the transition into the future. Virtually 'overnight', our entire philosophy and direction has changed. The next dynasty is being built, and we are seeing it's foundation now.

We have a really exciting team. After next year, it will be even younger. Will Montero and Tabata be here for 2009? Gardiner for 2008?

While the 'old core' of the team is basically the same as it was in April, IMHO, this is a totally different team.

And it's beautiful!

There is only one difficult task ahead...
We MUST lock up our 3rd baseman.
(we will need a few guys older then 30 come 2009)!

2007-08-08 06:49:27
17.   OldYanksFan
15 Roger understands the game of baseball, even if the umps don't. I also think it fired him up. I think he just wanted to get through the remaining innings so he could 'really pitch' in the 7th!
2007-08-08 07:01:17
18.   Ben
I loved how you could see Clemen's face turning red as he 'effused' his opinion to the ump after getting thrown out. I was smiling like an idiot, I think he ate one of Willy Wonka's everlasting gobstoppers turning himself into a blueberry.
2007-08-08 07:02:18
19.   Yankee Fan In Boston
14 here's where i saw the lowell/sox extension chatter:
http://tinyurl.com/2tpt7a

they don't say that they're close, but i did see a story a feww weeks ago where ortiz was telling reporters that just about everybody in their clubhouse wanted the sox front office to sign lowell before the season ends.

for the record, i also have no problem with that course of action.

2007-08-08 07:06:00
20.   ChrisS
15 Through yesterday, AL Team HBP

1. Kansas City 64
2. Cleveland 59
3. NY Yankees 55
4. Seattle 42
5. Boston 41

2007-08-08 07:10:26
21.   seamus
19 they can keep lowell.
2007-08-08 07:21:55
22.   Shaun P
16 You think that's something? Dare to dream about next year's roster, which could include:

Offense:
2B - Cano - 25
CF - Melky - 23
BUMI - Betemit - 26
1B/DH - Duncan - 28

Bullpen:
Edwar - 27
Britton - 25
Bruney - 25
Henn - 27
Karstens/Rasner - 25/27

But wait - here is the best part (and I can't imagine the last time this happened):

Rotation:
Hughes - 22
Joba - 22
Kennedy - 23
Wang - 28

That's 13 guys - over half the roster - under 30. Add in 5th OF - Gardner - 24 (presuming the Yanks don't carry a 3-headed 1B/DH monster again), and Bullpen - Igawa - 28 (he is under contract), and that's 16 guys 28 or younger. SIXTEEN!

Son of a gun. Cashman has made the roster younger before our eyes, and it only took him two years to do it.

2007-08-08 07:29:18
23.   Jeteupthemiddle
22 Of course, I would be mildly shocked if all of those players are on the team at the same time.

Remember that Pettitte and Mussina are also under contract for 2008 and will likely take up two of the 5 spots in the rotation...obviously Wang and Hughes will have 2 spots. The 5th spot will probably go to Chamberlain but who really knows?

Basically, I'm sure Kennedy and everyone else will see their major league debuts and such, but he won't be a fixture in the rotaiton.

Of course, 2009 is a completely different story when Pettitte's, Mussina's, and Pavano's (yes, Pavano is STILL under contract for 2008) are all up.

2007-08-08 07:50:30
24.   ChuckM
23Pettitte has a player option for '08
2007-08-08 07:59:40
25.   Shaun P
23 I know Moose and probably Pettitte will be back in '08, but I could easily imagine Moose missing some time due to injury.

And I just realized that the bullpen I proposed (if you include Igawa) would be "Mo and the kids". I guess that's possible, but not likely, especially if Torre comes back to manage again next year.

2007-08-08 08:06:52
26.   Jeteupthemiddle
24 Yes he does, and I would be surprised if he doesn't exercise it.

25 I think that is my point. Regardless of how good of a prospect all of those players are, I would be extremely surprised if the Yankees go with a rotation of essentially 3 rookies. And a bullpen, of Rivera and essentially rookies is, as you stated, unrealistic.

No matter the prospect status, it is hard to contend like that.

But of course, I'm sure they will all see time during the season.

2007-08-08 08:13:31
27.   pistolpete
Intentional or not, Cliff, I was laughing at the fact that the only thing left after the jump was 3 lines about Barry Bonds.
2007-08-08 08:13:47
28.   Yankee Fan In Boston
25 Regardless of how good of a prospect all of those players are, I would be extremely surprised if the Yankees go with a rotation of essentially 3 rookies. And a bullpen, of Rivera and essentially rookies is, as you stated, unrealistic.

i just love that this is the quandary that the team might find itself in. too many talented youngsters to fit onto the roster? wonderful.

2007-08-08 08:30:34
29.   Raf
16 Don't know when, but it's nice to see. Yanks, with their resources, don't need to rebuild, just reload.

And that's a good thing. The Yanks'll be like the Braves of the 90's, except they'll have more financial flexibility.

2007-08-08 09:15:13
30.   Shaun P
16 Looking at b-r.com, there was definitely some parts of last year that 8 out of 25 guys on the roster were 30 or younger. Not sure if it was 8 regular contributors at any one time, though.

In 2003, the Yanks had 8 guys 30 or under who got at least 135 ABs; but only two regular pitchers who were 30 and under: Osuna (30) and Weaver (26).

In 2002, 6 of the primary starters on offense were all 30 or under, as was the main BUOF (Shane Spencer). You had two starters (Pettitte and either Weaver or Lilly) 30 or under. AND two guys in the pen (Mendoza and Karsay) 30 or under.

Since I guess the answer to your question is 2002.

2007-08-08 09:35:35
31.   AbbyNormal821
Hey all - what a game last night. Don't know if anyone mentioned this yet, but Ken Singleton & Co. were discussing on YES that Clemens would probably hit at least one batter towards the end of outing and sure enough...
However, it sounded like they didn't think it was on purpose because they asked why throw at the 1st batter of an inning? I think it was somewhat intentional, and kind of scary where Rios got hit. Wouldn't wish severe damage on any player. That hit reminded me of the whole Benitez/Martinez melee`. Anyone else think that?
2007-08-08 09:39:21
32.   monkeypants
31 Not sure why Singleton et al were confused about intentionality, unless they were just feigning confusion. Clemens really had only one of two hoices if he planned to hit somebody: 1] wait until two outs (and hope no one was on base), or 2] go after the first guy knowing the bases would be empty.

It looks like he chose the latter. Maybe he figured he was running out of gas and wouldn't last the inning, or he just didn't want to risk giving up a hit and getting pulled before he could pop someone.

2007-08-08 09:47:51
33.   Cliff Corcoran
27 intentional
2007-08-08 09:53:43
34.   Ben
On the Rios HBP, Jorgie was set up outside. Clemens won't miss that badly. If they want it to appear as a mistake, Jorgie has to set up inside. As it is, I think Roger just decided their pretty boy was going to get it, maybe even during the wind up.
2007-08-08 09:55:14
35.   mehmattski
32 Yeah I agree that Singleton was just feigning confusion, especially because later Leiter reminded him he had predicted Clemens would hit someone later in the game, and Singleton agreed. Similarly, after the game Kim Jones asked Posada if the hit on A-Rod was intentional and he sighed and said "Yeaaaah, that was intentional." But then when Kim asked if Clemens' pitch was intentional, he started to say yes and then stammered and said "well, if we keep talking about it, it's only going to get worse..."

Me? I'm glad there are teammates willing to get dirty to protect the best player on the team.

2007-08-08 10:01:23
36.   pistolpete
33 Bravo, sir.
2007-08-08 10:07:43
37.   51cq24
16 12/25 are from our own farm system (13 if you count hideki, which i don't). compare that to mets (5) and red sox (6, 8 if you count dice k and okajima). who's trying to "buy" championships now?
2007-08-08 10:07:44
38.   pistolpete
35 And they even mentioned it on the postgame about how if Posada had confirmed Clemens' intentions, there would have been an investigation by the commissioner's office, etc, etc.

We all know the deal. Better he didn't say anything.

2007-08-08 10:17:26
39.   thurmtheman
33 intentional, and their best player this year. tit for tat.
2007-08-08 10:19:26
40.   Shaun P
Love that Boston Media:

http://tinyurl.com/395xab

2007-08-08 10:23:27
41.   mehmattski
Random stat of the day: AL Sacrifice Fly Leaders

Sac. Flies
Cabrera-LAA 9
Martinez-CLE 8
Rodriguez-NYY 8
Abreu-NYY 7
Matsui-NYY 7
Ramirez-BOS 7

2007-08-08 10:24:54
42.   NJYankee41
Maybe Clemens also didn't want to wait for 2 outs because the 3rd batter of the inning was Frank Thomas. Now Clemens is a big boy, but the Big Hurt? I don't think anyone would want a peice of that.
2007-08-08 10:31:16
43.   unpopster
40 that's classic Boston media for you.

I've been hearing that common refrain from Sox fans for the last week, the same variation on the following: "The Yanks have been playing the bottom feeders. When they start playing the good teams they'll start losing!"

My answer to them is maybe, just maybe, the best team in baseball right now is the NY Yankees and that maybe those "good" teams should be scared and maybe those teams will start losing -- to the Yanks.

2007-08-08 10:32:23
44.   NJYankee41
40 Nice link. It has always seemed to me that the Boston media are a bunch of Red Sox lovin' fanboys, while the New York media were a bunch of disloyal trouble makers. All the Yanks can do is keep winning and let their play speak for them.
2007-08-08 11:47:08
45.   pistolpete
43 We've been playing bottom-feeders for sure, but we've also been destroying the bottom-feeders.

Boston HAS to be nervous, as does the rest of the AL who secretly dreaded the time when this lineup would finally put 2 and 2 together.

And IIRC, we swept the Twins in 4 games and put the smackdown on the Angels for 2 out of 3 at the beginning of this whole run.

We can only beat who we play!

2007-08-08 13:57:56
46.   rockymtnyankee
We are all thrilled at how great the Yankees have been playing....My biggest concern is that the Yankees' remaining schedule is the toughest of the contending teams: 31 games of 49 vs. teams with a .500 record or better, and only 23 of 49 games are at home. (The Yankees have 9 games left vs. the Orioles, who have given the Yankees problems this year, 8 games each vs. the Tigers and Blue Jays, and 6 each vs. the BoSox and Tampa Bay). The BoSox play only 21 (10 less) games of 49 vs. >.500 teams. The Tigers have the most home games remaining (29), while Cleveland has the fewest (21). Wild card may require more than 92 wins (the average over the years has been 95), so the Yankees need to continue their winning ways.....hopefully better than .600.....very little margin for slumps, injuries, bad breaks, etc. Hope everyone stays hot and the youngters perform up to potential.

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