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Ask Not What Ian Kennedy Can Do You For You...
2007-09-01 18:03
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Alternate title: Ich Bein Ein Yankee
Title I was going to use if the Yankees lost: B.J. Upton on the Grassy Knoll

Strange, sloppy, entertaining game today, on a gorgeous sunny afternoon in New York. Which of course I spent mostly inside in my dark apartment, because: Ian Kennedy! In the end it was worth it, as Kennedy was largely excellent in a drama-filled game that wound up 9-6 in favor of the Yankees.

The Yankees' newest starter is slim – and I keep seeing him described as “baby-faced,” but don’t you have to be older than 21 for that to be noteworthy? – and freckled; I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Ian Patrick Kennedy may perhaps be of Irish descent. He also looked very nervous, though of course if he hadn’t you’d want to send Guidry out to check him for a pulse. He’s got a smooth delivery that is, as advertised, somewhat reminiscent of Mike Mussina’s.

Kennedy had an easy, six-pitch first inning, helped (as he would be later in the day) by the Devil Rays’ impatience, and (as he would not be later in the day) by a nice play on a hard-hit fly to left by Matsui. In the bottom of the inning Alex Rodriguez homered, scoring Bobby Abreu to give the Yanks a 2-0 lead, and it was beginning to look like a storybook game.

But Kennedy seriously struggled in the second inning, quickly giving up two singles; he seemed to be having trouble throwing his breaking stuff for strikes. Alex Rodriguez made matters worse, dropping Brendan Harris’ easy popup, which should have been the second out. John Wilson then doubled, clearing the bases and tying the game, and after a strikeout Kennedy walked Josh Paul. At this point Joe Torre lumbered out of the dugout and, in a classic psych-out of the kind rarely seen from him in recent years, asked the umpires to confiscate and check Akinora Iwamura’s -- supposedly because its flat top led the Yanks to think it may have been sawed off, but really, I'd imagine, to buy his pitcher some recovery time. Iwamura, who has been using that style of bat all year with no complaints from the Yankees or anyone else, looked confused and somewhat rattled as his translator tried to explain the situation (how do you say “they’re just fucking with you” in Japanese?). In any case, Iwamura struck out to end the inning, and would do so twice more during his 0-for-4 afternoon. Kennedy labored again in the third, but got out of it without any damage, and that seemed to settle him down – because from there on out he pitched beautifully.

In the bottom of the third, with two on and Alex Rodriguez at the plate, Joe “Tit for Tat” Maddon asked the umps to check and confiscate his bat. Weak, Maddon; at least get them to check the pitcher for Vaseline or something - show a little imagination, you know? But A-Rod, to his credit, looked more amused than anything else, and proceeded to single to left with a brand-new bat. Matsui was walked to force in the go-ahead run – this might be a good time to point out that D-Rays starter Edwin Jackson was not pitching well today – and a Giambi groundout got another run home. The Yankees added three more in the fourth when Abreu was walked with the bases full  – as you might expect, that was Jackson’s last batter – and A-Rod doubled in Jose Molina and Derek Jeter.

Kennedy took it from there, more or less cruising through his last four innings, allowing just a solo home run to B.J. Upton in the sixth. He went seven innings, allowing three runs (only one earned) on five hits and two walks, with six strikeouts. In fact, he struck out the last batter he faced – Rays backup catcher Josh Paul, who looks like he’s watched the Thurman Munson Yankeeography a few too many times – on three called strikes. I don’t know what more you could ask from a 21-year-old rookie in his first-ever ML start, thrown into a pennant race after one season of pro ball. As he walked off he cracked his first smile of the day, was hugged by Ron Guidry, shook hands with Phil Hughes, and nearly had his arm broken by the ever-enthused Shelley Duncan. Shelley, no – not the pitching hand!

"One of his strengths is his demeanor," said Dave Eiland, the pitching coach for the Triple-A Scranton Yankees. "I guess you'll never find out for sure until you put a kid in that situation. But all indications are that he'll be able to handle it just fine.''

In the eighth, with the Yanks up 9-3,Wilson Betemit came in for A-Rod – who was rubbing and flexing his shoulder after stealing a base in the Xth, though afterwards he said he was fine – and Jeter was taken out for September call-up Alberto Gonzalez (didn’t take him long to find work! Sorry, couldn’t help myself), possibly because Jeter had been nailed in the back, somewhat suspiciously, by Rays reliever Juan Salas to lead off the sixth. Luis Vizcaino came on to pitch, but had nothing today, and in conjunction with some shaky Yankee defense in the outfield, he proceeded to make things interesting very quickly. Tamps lined one pitch after another into the outfield, until the score was 9-6, and Joe Torre decided – wisely, I thought – not to fuck around, bringing in Mariano Rivera to nail down the last out of the inning. Which he did, inducing a quick ground ball. And in the ninth, he struck out the side.

Meanwhile Seattle lost again – that’s some pretty harsh market correction going on over there – and so the Yankees now have a two-game lead in the Wild Card race. I’d like to say I saw this coming back in late May, but I’d be lying. Who knows what’ll happen in September – nothing would surprise me at this point – but regardless, let’s take a minute and appreciate a season in which the Yankees came back at least temporarily from the dead, and now have a roster that includes 12 home-grown players – Kennedy, Hughes, Wang, Pettitte, Rivera, Chamberlain, Jeter, Posada, Duncan, Cabrera, Cano  - most of whom are thriving.

Comments
2007-09-01 18:13:30
1.   yankz
Great writeup, but you forgot to include Andy Phillips in your list of homegrown players.
2007-09-01 18:19:56
2.   yankz
Check out Bobby M totally ignoring Singleton's part of the postgame:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=SAMSSp1OUFQ

2007-09-01 18:29:48
3.   OldYanksFan
"12 home-grown players – Kennedy, Hughes, Wang, Pettitte, Rivera, Chamberlain, Jeter, Posada, Duncan, Cabrera, Cano"
and as yankz points out, Phillips makes it an even bakers dozen.

I love this team.
I LOVE THIS TEAM!
Thank you Brian Cashman. You have saved the organization.

2007-09-01 18:34:06
4.   Mattpat11
There's a human being on this earth named Rocky Cherry.
2007-09-01 18:53:19
5.   Chyll Will
But didn't Singleton suggest that Arizona had issues with Iwamura's bat? I know that one of them had mentioned such; at least it was not the first time the issue came up...
2007-09-01 18:57:10
6.   yankz
4 My favorite of the 31
2007-09-01 18:57:44
7.   SF Yanks
This is unreal. Does any Yankee fan want to see this kid throw a no-no? I actually feel kind of bad saying this, but I really, really, don't want him to get it. I know he's just a kid with a uniform on, but still, I hope he gets lit up in the 9th. Or how about 2 outs, with 2 strikes and then a hit.
2007-09-01 19:07:20
8.   SF Yanks
BUNT!
2007-09-01 19:11:28
9.   Mattpat11
Good for him.
2007-09-01 19:13:45
10.   tommyl
Great for him.

Bad for us, because now we have to hear about how their homegrown phenom is so much better than any of ours for*ever*.

2007-09-01 19:16:41
11.   Vandelay Industries
5 It was, and it was sent to MLB for inspection and passed. It is a foriegn bat I think. Either way it was a shit move by Joe. He shouldn't be completely unaware that this issue had already been resolved. Coach, staff, FO, someone should have a record of it. Keystone coppish.
2007-09-01 19:18:06
12.   Mattpat11
11 I'm pretty sure Joe was buying Kennedy time.
2007-09-01 19:19:05
13.   SF Yanks
I have to admit, at first I was extremely pissed he got the no-no then after hearing him say a few words, I felt sorta happy for him.
2007-09-01 19:20:25
14.   Mattpat11
13 I have no reason to dislike him. If The Red Sox are going to win anyway, why the hell not?
2007-09-01 19:21:49
15.   Mattpat11
It sad news, however, the White Sox got blown out, but Javy Vazquez didn't.
2007-09-01 19:30:43
16.   yankz
I didn't want him to do it, for two reasons:

1. The Yanks didn't gain any ground in the division.
2. See 10

I guess we can just say that Hughes was going to no-hit the Rangers. Also, I hope Phil phigures it out phast, and makes everyone forget about tonight.

2007-09-01 19:33:07
17.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
"Alex Rodriguez made matters worse, dropping Brendan Harris' easy popup, which should have been the second out. John Wilson then doubled, clearing the bases and tying the game, and after a strikeout Kennedy walked Josh Paul."

The strikeout cam before the double, no? Which was why the runs were unearned.

RE: Buchholz. I'm heartsick. I know everyone ranks him with Phil and Joba, but the few games I saw him pitch on NESN earlier this year for Portland I didn't see it. I felt like he had the Double A kids swinging at stuff way out of the zone, ie that he didn't have great command of his pitches, but that he got away with it because the young-uns were swinging at everything.

Maybe he's improved his command since then, but it's a bit sickening that Phil, who had pinpoint control in the minors in the few games I got to see via the minorlg internet feed, has completely lost his command in the show, while the guy who didn't have the command pitches a no-no in his second start.

Add to that the fact that Phil probably would've pitched a no-hitter in HIS 2nd start, but instead blew out his hammy and hasn't been the same since, and . . . it's about time for me to crawl into a bottle of scotch.

The only thing that will make this better is if both us and the Tigers pass the Sawx in the next month and knock them out of the playoffs.

Damn, I'm so bitter and spiteful about this.

2007-09-01 19:37:35
18.   yankz
Buchholz was also in low A ball when he was Phil's age. I'm not trying to disparage what he did, he'll be a good SP I'm sure, just reminding everyone that there's no reason Phil won't eventually be better.
2007-09-01 19:37:40
19.   Marcus
Good for him. Pretty awesome for a young kid.

Hey, and who cares if we have to hear about Bucholz and how good he is? He has quite the high expectations to maintain in RS Nation.

2007-09-01 19:50:03
20.   vockins
Wow. Congratulations to Buchholz. Second MLB start - that's pretty bonkers.
2007-09-01 19:51:09
21.   Marcus
Didn't Anibal sanchez have a no hitter in one of his first couple of starts also? Must be the Red Sox minor league pitching coaches. /exaggeration
2007-09-01 19:54:02
22.   rufuswashere
I was at the game, and one odd thing was how . . . s . l . o .w . . . the game was progressing in the first few innings. Kennedy works VERY slowly with runners on base, and the various bat controversies didn't help. Wow, it was agony.

Great to see things speed up as he got more comfortable.

2007-09-01 20:23:42
23.   Chyll Will
2 LOL, Oh man, did you see the look on Singleton's face? Classic "WTF"; that had to be put up there strictly for laughs. Cute when Murcer does that, yet enraging when Sterling does it?
2007-09-01 20:23:52
24.   randym77
I saw Buchholz at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket last July.

http://img519.imageshack.us/img519/5655/buchholzrn3.jpg

I was impressed with him. 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 10 SO. And he was up against some pretty good hitters. (They got nine runs off the bullpen after Buchholz left.)

Phil Hughes will have his day, I'm sure.

2007-09-01 20:31:10
25.   ric
franchise?
2007-09-01 20:33:53
26.   yankz
25 Think up your own nickname. Phil got that one first.

Is there anything sadder than a Sox fan posting on a Yankees website (or vice versa)? Are Sox websites that shitty, or are you just that obsessed with the Yankees?

23 I know, it's priceless. I bet the guy in his earpiece is whispering, "Just wait it out dude, it'll be over soon."

2007-09-01 20:35:33
27.   yankz
23 Also, I bet I know what Murcer was thinking. "Hmm, I wonder what kind of soup we're having tonight. I hope it's tomato bisque...oh shit, we're live! OK Bobby, just pick the last thing he said and run with it. Wait ...double! He said double, he's gotta be talking about A-Rod!"
2007-09-01 20:40:14
28.   randym77
What I want to know is where they got that giant bat they were fooling around with.
2007-09-01 20:45:06
29.   bbfan1
"I know everyone ranks him with Phil and Joba, but the few games I saw him pitch on NESN earlier this year for Portland I didn't see it."

Well, that's why you're writing on a website and not critiquing future major league pitchers.

"Damn, I'm so bitter and spiteful about this."

And that's a damn shame. What's worse than a sox fan posting on a yankee site? That comment.

I'd understand if this was schilling or beckett, but this is just a young kid pitching his second game. How can it upset you that much? They had the game won anyway, what's wrong with seeing a kid do something great? This doesn't mean he's a better pitcher than 'franchise'. Only time will tell us that. But tonight, he was damn good.

Such hatred. You're everything sox fans are accused of being. I guess all teams have a few.

2007-09-01 20:54:29
30.   yankz
Yeah, I hate the Sox enough to constantly read blogs about them and attack their fans on those sites...oh, shit.

If Hughes were to throw a no-no, I seriously doubt anyone here would go to SOSH.

2007-09-01 21:12:20
31.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
29 Um, yeah I'm not exactly proud of that sentiment, as the comment implied, genius.

In addition, I wasn't the only one who thought that about his command. I read the same thing on a number of different sites.

Try googling "Buchholz command fastball" smartass. It'll take you to SofSH, among other sites, including one citing the Boy
Wonder Epstein in June talking about his ability to command the fastball as a concern. Frankly, the few times I saw him pitch he wasn't reliable in getting his curve over either.

But then that's why you're commenting on a website, innit.

2007-09-01 21:14:52
32.   JL25and3
22 I was there also. Honestly, Kennedy worked very slowly even without men on base, especially for the first few innings. It's just that when there were men on base, he was even slower - much slower. It was agonizing.

I don't know if this was Joe's purpose, but the ten-minute rest while they checked the bat did seem to clear Kennedy's head.

I think the foul pop that Rodriguez dropped was at least a little harder than it looked. It was very high, directly into an exceptionally bright sun. Obviously, it should have been caught, but then Kennedy made most of his own trouble.

Jeter's fielding has gotten appallingly bad. He's taken to just watching balls go by. At least he doesn't get errors on them.

Carl Crawford is a hell of a ballplayer.

And Andy Phillips's slide into home was fucking awesome. The throw had him beat y a mile - even if it was high - and I still don't know how Andy made that slide. He was flat on his back, spread-eagled, at almost a 45-degree angle to the plate, but still nailed it decisively with his left hand. Sweet.

2007-09-01 21:53:28
33.   joejoejoe
Emma: 'how do you say "they're just fucking with you" in Japanese?' Hah! You rock.

I thought Rays manager Joe Maddon had a lot better sense of humor about the whole series of ridiculous events than Joe Torre. Here's Maddon on Iwamura's flat end bat, 'Every bat's cut off at the end when it really comes down to it, Which bat isn't cut off at the end? Otherwise it would be the infinity bat.'

2007-09-01 21:57:10
34.   Max
29 I can go to any fan site and find a short-sighted, "homerish" comment about another team's successes --if the comment is viewed objectively. But then again, why are we judging the comments on fan sites with objectivity? They're fan sites for a reason...people let off steam, vent to fellow fans, etc.

I think it's much sadder to spend time on an opposing team's fan site and linger over comments you don't like. People that do this (and there seem to be a fair number of Sox fans in particular that are fond of this practice) are MUCH, much more pathetic in my opinion. Rather than celebrating their successes, you want to go moralizing and feeling superior to people whose viewpoints you don't like, as if that makes you a bigger person somehow and validates your choice of favorite team.

It doesn't. All it does is expose how the sheer level of insecurity card-carrying members of RSN (like you) have. Now go away.

And FWIW, I despise the Sox and RSN with every fiber of my being, but I am happy for Buchholz. Very impressive outing. Don't know yet if he'll turn out to be one of the great ones, but what a way to start a career.

2007-09-01 23:08:34
35.   Emma Span
1 , 3 Knew I was forgetting someone -- thanks. But I think that's still only 12. Er, "only." I apparently can't add but the point remains the same.

4 Rocky Cherry was my Baseball Player Name of the Week back in April (tied with Yorvit Torrealba), and briefly played on the same team as Felix Pie... which sadly is not pronounced the way you want it to be, but still.

I was out tonight and missed Buchholtz's no-hitter -- wow. Bad timing for the Yankees, sure, but from a pure baseball fan perspective you have to admit: pretty awesome.

2007-09-01 23:32:39
36.   Mattpat11
35 I'm not looking at that from a Yankee perspective. If Boston was going to win anyway, why not?
2007-09-01 23:58:36
37.   Mattpat11
28 I think they said it was in Lon Trost's office.

Why he would have such a thing, I have no idea.

2007-09-02 00:28:16
38.   Emma Span
37 Do you think maybe he's compensating for something...?

Sorry, again, couldn't resist.

2007-09-02 04:34:52
39.   Yu-Hsing Chen
Most rookies that threw no hitters didn't have a good career. i don't think Clay will follow that trend, but it's just a reminder that we should not go all nuts about it.

as for Jeter's defense. it's been pretty bad up the middle. but interestingly the Yankees for the second strait year have a very good team defense effeciency rating (the % of them turning balls in play into outs)

2007-09-02 05:59:18
40.   glennrwordman
I think what Buchholz did was great, and immensely exciting. I hope for the next 10 years Hughes and Kennedy and Chamberlain and Buchholz and Lester (the latter admittedly not with the same promise as the first four) go after each other like tigers (not Detroit). It will just make for better baseball...
2007-09-02 06:01:35
41.   Sliced Bread
Nice recap, E-Span. No originality pernts for Maddon, but he certainly got his *tit off the right guy. Took a prized home run bat out of A-Rod's hands. The symmetry -third baseman for third baseman - made it appropriate, too.
Incidentally, Tit-for-Bat is a game A-Rod likes to play on the road with the strippers. Glove-for-Love, Pants-for-Dance, all good ways to kill time on the road. But what he does off the field sure is none of our damn business, right?

Bucholtz? As long as he didn't do it to us, swell for him. Post headline: "Feat of Clay" this morning is brilliant.
Not to take anything away from the kid but it sounds like the game wasn't close, the O's were constipated, and as the only team that had not been shut out this season, had it coming to 'em.

* fer tat, that is

2007-09-02 06:07:56
42.   Sliced Bread
41 Shirt-for-Skirt...

memorabilia gone wild.

2007-09-02 06:54:44
43.   Murray
No-hitters are more like nice milestones, not necessarily indicators of a great career to come. Bobo Holloman pitched a no-hitter. Mike Warren pitched a no-hitter. Len Barker pitched a perfect game, as did that Larsen fellow. It's a freak occurrence, no more indicative of the potential for greatness than hitting for the cycle.

Pitching more than one is more interesting. Allie Reynolds pitched two. Carl Erskine threw two. Steve Busby threw two. Good enough careers, if not HOF material. Only the greats have thrown more than two.

On the other hand, this has been some summer for the Orioles, eh?

2007-09-02 06:56:00
44.   Jersey
42 Cleats-for-Teats?

I got some others, but this is a family site.

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