Just when you think you know something, you get knocked on your ass and realize that you don't no jack. So much for being the favorites. So much for the odds. The Yanks, coming off three big wins against the Red Sox, were served by the lowly Devil Rays on Friday night in the Bronx by the score of 9-1. Fortunately for New York, the Blue Jays also narrowly edged the Mariners, so the Yanks are still leading the wildcard. And up in Boston, the Orioles lousy bullpen somehow prevailed against a hard-charging Red Sox offense. Both the Red Sox and Mariners had the winning runs on base in the ninth, both hit into game-ending double plays.
Our beloved Bronx Bombers mustered just two hits (a double by Derek Jeter, an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez in the fourth inning) as Phillip Hughes delivered another disappointing performance. After the game, Hughes told The New York Times:
"It was a little bit of everything tonight," Hughes said. "I had a lot of bad counts, some bad breaks and gave up some home runs. It's something that I need to fight through. Even when you have a bad start you hope to keep your team in the game. Tonight, I couldn't do that."
"He shouldn't be missing the zone like he's been missing, so I think he was either trying to make too good a pitch or he needs to command his fastball a little bit better," Joe Torre said. "It got to the point where he was getting behind in the count and he had to throw predictable pitches in predictable counts. That's the pitcher's dread, when you're out there and you really lose the ability to do what you want."
After the game, Rays stater, Andy Sonnanstine--who pitched a wonderful game--told the Tampa Bay Trib:
Honestly, that's probably the best start of my life," said Sonnanstine, whose parents were in town from Ohio to watch him pitch. "It's something I'll never forget."
The other story for the Yanks last night was that MLB has suspended Joba Chamberlain for two games. The suspension began last night, so Joba should be back for Sunday, if needed.
Okay, erase this one from the memory bank. Today is a new day, with new things to be excited about, like the major league debut of Ian Kennedy.
According to Cliff:
Ian Kennedy's been called "Mini Moose" due to his similarity in build and pitching style to Mike Mussina. Turns out, it's more than that. Kennedy was drafted #21 overall last year out of USC and is making his debut today at the age of 22. Mike Mussina was drafted #20 overall in 1990 out of Stanford and made hid major league debut on August 4 of 1991 at the age of 22.
Moose held the White Sox to one run on a Frank Thomas solo home run in 7 1/3 innings, scattering three other hits and four walks and striking out one. He then got beat up by the White Sox five days later. He alternated good and bad starts for four more turns, then aced the stretch posting a 1.66 ERA over his last six starts (including a win against the Yankees). The next year, Mussina made the All-Star team, won 18 games, finished third in the league in ERA and fourth in the Cy Young voting. The rest is history. We can't reasonably expect Kennedy to be that good that quickly (besides which, he won't have that month to adjust that Mussina had in August 1991), but if the comparisons to Mussina work, this was in many ways the right decision.
As for Old Moose (Big Moose? Mussina is a few inches taller), Peter Abraham has some remarkable audio from him Thursday. It's 16 minutes of Mussina discussing calmly, honestly, openly, and introspectively his reactions to the events of this week. Mussina may have a reputation as a crank, but this session with the media is spectacular and an excellent example of why I've always been fond of the guy, even at his crankiest. (Incidentally, toward the end one of the reporters mentions Rick Sutcliffe and Orel Hershiser. Moose says "those guys pitched a long time." Both pitched 18 years. Moose is in his 17th. Sutcliffe retired at age 38, Mussina's age now.)
We watch today, we cheer today, maybe we even kvetch, and throw things today. But we all root-root-root for the Bomb Squad and the Kid.