Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Mr. Splitty
2007-05-17 01:03
by Emma Span

Well, phew. That was not a little bit of baseball.

This afternoon’s game was a flat, dispiriting 5-3 loss -- the Yankees scraped out a few runs, but Mike Mussina gave them right back. He wasn’t terrible, but missed over the plate too many times, giving up eight hits (including two homers) and five earned runs in just over five innings. Afterwards he said he had “no go-to pitch,” and blamed his poor outing on the extra rest caused by the off-day and rain out; man, when that guy says he likes to stick to a regular routine, he is not joking. I spent the sixth inning imagining him counting out a specific number of grains of rice to eat at every meal. Vizcaino, Myers, and Bruney followed in order and held down the fort, but meanwhile, the Yankee bats continued their painful death rattles -- although, to be fair, the White Sox’s John ”Pun-Proof” Danks pitched very well. I’d call him an URP, but in fact, he’s quite heralded. After the game, Joe Torre accurately described him as “conveniently wild.”

Bright spots included a single and a home run for the vengeful spirit of Tony Womack, which is currently inhabiting the body of Bobby Abreu, and an excellent leaping over-the-wall catch by Melky Cabrera (who also doubled), saving a two-run Paul Konerko homer. At the moment, by the way, Konerko is hitting .190. In fact, not a single healthy White Sox regular is hitting over .260. It could still be worse, people. Seriously, how many times today did Michael Kay say of a player stepping into the box, “… and he is REALLY struggling”? Between both teams, over the course of the two games, my best estimate is 34.

The night game, once again pushed back because of rain, was far more enjoyable – an 8-1 win that began as something of a pitcher’s duel between Chien-Ming Wang, back in top form, and Jose Contreras. The former Yank gave up four runs, only two of which were earned, but Wang was better. He allowed six singles and one run in his seven innings, throwing just 91 pitches -- and twice he got out of two-on, no-out jams without allowing a run or, as far as I could tell, breaking a sweat. The Yankees have been cautious with him the last two years, and obviously his long-term health needs to come first, but I hope he’s cleared to start Sunday on three day’s rest. I don’t want to see what the Mets can do to Chase Wright.

The key Yankee offense came on a two-run Matsui double in the third, an Abreu RBI single in the seventh, and a Jeter triple. Abreu's single followed three consecutive strikeouts, and I'm not at all sure his bat is coming back just yet, but that hit felt like the turning point of the game, and out of gratitude I will not refer to him as Womackian in this half of the recap.

Kyle Farnsworth got through the 8th allowing without allowing a run, but still cannot be recommended viewing for elderly or infirm Yankee fans with a history of heart trouble (flyout, walk, potential double saved by sweet A-Rod play, walk, line out, exhale).
As an aside, the White Sox used reliever Boone Logan in their half of the eighth, and sweet Jesus does that man work slowly. Excruciatingly leisurely relief pitchers are one of my biggest pet peeves. Boone Logan is now on my enemies list.

Anyway, the Yankee offense seemed to really get its groove back in the ninth. If this actually proves to be a turning point, please address your candy and flowers to reliever John Sisco, c/o Ozzie Guillen. Sisco allowed two walks and four hits, including homers for Melky “MELKY!” Cabrera and still-scorching pinch-hitter Jorge Posada, who at this rate, if he’s lucky, will get an entire game off sometime in August. I really think Melky is back, guys. Which is awesome, because when he plays well he jumps and darts around the Yankee dugout like everyone's favorite little brother on a sugar high, and it is adorable. To wrap things up, Mariano Rivera, looking much more like himself, took care of business in the bottom of the inning.

Meanwhile, I see on SportsCenter -- though I can only find it tentatively confirmed elsewhere at the moment -- that Yankee partner and former Steinbrenner heir-apparent Steve Swindal will be bought out for roughly $5 million.

And finally, today I was reminded of one of the most amusing things in all of baseball: namely, that Roger Clemens refers to his split-fingered fastball as “Mr. Splitty.” I know we already knew this, but it’s been a while, so please take a minute out of your busy day to appreciate how absolutely hilarious that is. Thank you.

2007-05-17 05:34:19
1.   RIYank
Melky's catch robbed Uribe, not Konerko. Right?
2007-05-17 06:20:52
2.   chrismarz
I forgot how much better I sleep when the yankees win a game...

not to get too far off topic here, but what's our rotation like this weekend against the mets? And if Friday gets rained out, will that negate our need to trot out a rookie on national tv on sunday night?

2007-05-17 06:30:59
3.   Yankee Fan in Chicago
Thanks to Ozzie for starting Darin Erstad rather than Brian Anderson. Anderson would've caught that Matsui double, but then Anderson doesn't have the belly full of guts that Erstad has.
2007-05-17 06:45:12
4.   vockins
I don't know where the resources are to confirm or deny this, but I have a strong inclination to believe that Mussina usually performed significantly better with an extra day of rest. Sample size, your mileage may vary, etc, but something in my head after the rainout went, "Mussina on extra rest against a crappy hitting team, BOOYAH!" after the game was called on Tuesday. That didn't really pan out, obviously.

Swindal got bought out for $5 mil? Sounds like he had a choice between $5 mil or not having his kneecaps end up in the Gulf of Mexico.

2007-05-17 06:57:58
5.   vockins
4 I must have had my head in 2005:

2005: 5 days - 5.28ERA (21 GS), >5 days - 2.78ERA (8 GS)


2004: 5 days - 3.43ERA (14 GS), >5 days - 5.32 (11 GS)


2006: 5 days - 3.45ERA (24 GS), >5 days - 3.69ERA (7 GS)

2007-05-17 07:03:36
6.   Sliced Bread
Excellent recap, Emma Span.

Mussina is Rain Man.

One-armed chainsaw jugglers have nothing on Farnswacker's act.

Wang is gnaw spelled backwards (semi-palindrome?).

"Mr. Splitty" is ok. I used to call my go-to wiffle pitch "Miss Havisham."

Nothing gets into a batter's head quite like the threat: "Say hello to Miss Havisham, Pip."

2007-05-17 07:08:48
7.   Bama Yankee
6 LOL. Funny stuff as usual, Sliced.
2007-05-17 07:24:40
8.   JL25and3
6 Your palindrome could make a great chant for heckling opposing teams: "Gnaw wang" is so much more civilized than "Bite me."

"Say hello to Miss Havisham, Pip" is genuinely inspires. Thanks for the laugh.

0Moose drives me nuts. He doesn't just count the grains of rice; if someone brings him a plate with the wrong number on it, he goes out and gives up 5 runs, because how do you expect someone to pitch under those conditions?

2007-05-17 07:28:18
9.   Simone
I hope that Igawa can be successful with his new delivery. It is good to hear that Ian Kennedy is doing well in Class A Tampa.
2007-05-17 07:49:53
10.   Schteeve
I believe it's Andrew Sisco, not John Sisco. And I had the same thought as the Yankees were knocking him around, Andrew Sisco might turn out to be the Yankees most fortuitous slump buster since Jessica Alba.
2007-05-17 07:50:11
11.   Schteeve
Damn it, I meant Biel, not Alba.
2007-05-17 07:59:08
12.   Sliced Bread
[7-8] Thanks, fellas.

This $5-million buy-out for Swindal seems like a bargain. That's what, an eighth of what they're paying Meat to loaf?

2007-05-17 08:21:02
13.   williamnyy23
2 If you believe the NWS forecast, there wont be too much baseball played in NY this weekend. Friday looks bad and Saturday isn't much better.

Friday: Rain likely, mainly before noon. Areas of fog before noon. Otherwise, cloudy, with a high near 57. Northeast wind between 15 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.

Friday Night: A chance of rain. Patchy fog after midnight. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 48. North wind between 15 and 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%. New rainfall amounts between three quarters and one inch possible.

2007-05-17 08:32:33
14.   singledd
While last night was an absolute must win, I was not that encouraged by what I saw. We were lucky to run into a team of cold bats.

Like Moose, Wang was up in the zone a LOT. When he's on, 2/3rds of his pitches are between the knees and the ground. Last night he was around the belt a lot. It's just the RCNB that kept him from getting creamed.

Abreu's hit. The aveage ground ball that luckily was placed perfectly between the 1st and 2nd basemen? I'm not impressed.

ARod is frustrated but has hit the ball hard a number of times. I wonder why he has hit about 8 balls to the warning track recently, and only 1 HR.

Jetes and Posada are Gods. Nothing less.

I expect at least an .850 OPS from Matsui and hope for more. He's at .860 now.

If Giambi is hurt/impaired, we are in deep trouble until Abreu/Damon/Cano show up.

Cano needs to train like Giambi did. Stand at the plate with a bat. Take 50 REAL pitches, call out what they are (Fastball/outside, splitter/low, etc) and never swing the bat. He's loaded with talent, but many talented players fell into bad habits and disappeared. It can happen. The Yankees need to work with him.

Abreu looks horrible still. A guy with his talent has to get a good stroke now and then, but I have not seen 3 consecutive ABs where he LOOKED good (Forget about wheather he got a hit or not).

Minky is playing solid D. He is hitting OK, and looks more confident.

ARod has been great in the field. He should only have 1 or 2 errors (not 4). ZR wise, he is middle of the pack, but looks better.

Prersonally, when I watch the Yankees, they look like a beaten team. They do NOT look like they expect to win.

I believe (after) the next 3 weeks, we will have a good guess and what September will look like.

2007-05-17 08:57:00
15.   RIYank
14 Half of Wang's outs were groundouts (three were strikeouts), which is a little low for him but isn't hugely worrying.
Abreu hit a HR yesterday, dude. What's a guy have to do to impress singledd?
2007-05-17 08:57:42
16.   yankz
11 You know, Alba works too.
2007-05-17 09:16:28
17.   joejoejoe
Scoop Jackson had an interesting column on ESPN about Roger Clemens and selfish behavior. You could make a solid analogy between Allen Iverson's "Practice?!? Practice!?!" speech and Clemens insistence on following his own routine.

More power to Clemens for negotiating a sweet deal for himself but every second he spends with Kody, K-Mart, and Kobra away from the team is a second he doesn't spend sitting next to Farnsworth or Hughes explaining how to prepare and how to pitch. You can say that's the job of the coaches but all the other players support each other during the season. Why is Clemens exempt?

2007-05-17 09:17:54
18.   seattleyank
Great recap Emma.
2007-05-17 09:28:59
19.   rabid stan
Melky is back. He's more than back, actually.

His May line: .297/.395/.568 in 44 PA this month, including 6 walks. Five of his eleven hits have gone for extra bases (2 2B, 3B, 2 HR).

2007-05-17 09:30:14
20.   Just fair
David Justice was quite critical of Mussina on the post game. He pulled out the "twilight of his career" line. I am also sick and tired of hearing Moose complain about his inconsistent schedule. Suck it up for cripes sake.
Is there any way to clone the Wanger? He makes everyone feel good for a day. One possible anagram for him is
Changing Me Win. No doubt.
2007-05-17 09:33:38
21.   Emma Span
Whoops! Yes, it's Andrew Sisco, not John, and Melky robbed Juan Uribe, not Konerko. Yeesh. (But come on... Uribe and Konerko are practically identical twins! Easy mistake to make!)

Sorry guys, but you see, usually I get 6 days off between recaps. This week I had 8. It's really hard to stay sharp like that.

2007-05-17 09:38:25
22.   rabid stan
20 He's been obsessive for his entire career. It's like having Monk pitch every fifth day (it has to be every fifth). He can't just suck it up.

I'm not looking forward to the Yanks starting '08 in Asia. If they do, they might consider leaving Moose home.

Do they even have peanut butter sandwiches in China?

2007-05-17 09:45:36
23.   joejoejoe
21 You still have a great winning percentage just like Moose.
2007-05-17 09:49:28
24.   Sliced Bread
21 As Martha Stewart chided Lindsay Lohan last week: "Party girls make excuses."

Not that I regularly watch Martha, and not that I'm accusing you of Lohan'esque antics, Miss Span.

2007-05-17 10:23:04
25.   Emma Span
24 If I had a dime for every time I was compared to Lindsey Lohan...
2007-05-17 10:52:18
26.   thelarmis
love reading your writing, ms. emma!

16 i think alba works better! : )

beantown up early, 2-0. julian 'freddy kreuger' tavarez is throwing a shutout


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