Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Yankees 6, Mariners 3 (or Nine Straight)

Nothing makes my smile quite like Yankees haters. Take the fellas at ESPN’s Daily Quickie, who seem to be running scared now that the Yanks are beginning to prove that April was a fluke. Though, I certainly don’t see any real Yankees fans singing the same tune as the Quickie. We’re a bit more cautious bunch, waiting for series wins against teams like the Orioles, Red Sox and White Sox before we start thinking about October. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t starting to get a little giddy.

Kudos to Aaron Sele, who escaped major trouble in about every inning last night. Thanks to Ken Singleton mentioning it every time the Yanks came to bat, I know that he walked a batter in every inning except the fifth. But he lasted six full, allowing only one run, a sac grounder to third by A-Rahd. And it didn’t seem that Sele was in any trouble exiting before the seventh, since he has one of the best bullpen supports in the league this year according to Yanks broadcasters (only Johan Santana, Kyle Lohse, and Mark Buerhle are better). But after performing a search on this stat, I found that John Lackey, Jamie Moyer and Carlos Zambrano top the list. So what gives?

Anyway, if Sele had impeccable bullpen support before last night, it sure didn’t hold up. I began salivating when Shigetoshi Hasegawa entered the game, mainly because I think he sucks. So after singles to Sheff and Godzilla, he walked the slumping A-Rahd to get to Tino Tino Tino. But even though the game wasn’t at Yankee Stadium and Tino didn’t have that short right field deck that he’s plunked the majority of his homers, Mike Hargrove opted to bring in the lefty, George Sherril. He sort of accomplished his mission, getting Tino to shatter his bat and ground to Adrian Beltre, who got Sheff at the plate (and oh MAN was that a dirty slide. It looked like Sheff was going right for the back of the knee of Olivo), but Richie Sexson blundered the throw to first, keeping the inning alive.

But Bernie Williams was coming up, and this is a guy who hasn’t been in the lineup lately. Combine some rust with his age, and you’re looking at a nearly automatic out in such a clutch situation. Oh, but the Ms made a mistake of their own, bringing in J.J. Putz. So you’re asking “how is this a mistake? J.J. hasn’t been terrible this year.” Oh, my sweet innocent friend, the mere fact is that his name is PUTZ. Can you really trust a guy with such a laughable surname? Yes, I realize it’s immature and high schoolish to poke fun at someone for this reason, but honestly, whenever anyone hears his name for the first time they’ll inevitably chuckle and say, “heh, Putz.”

So J.J. made a Putz move and gave up a dong to Bernie, clearing the bases and putting the Yanks on top 5-2, which was more than enough for Chien-Ming Wang, who picked up his second victory of the season. Every time this guy is on the hill, I start to like him more. He had a rough first and was getting into a bit of the trouble in the seventh, but he still looked sharp in the interim innings. His pitches were low in the zone, and the movement that I was talking about previously was still there. Consequently, Wang induced plenty of grounders and a few dinky infield pop-ups. Once again, Jaret who?

And how about that rook Robinson Cano going 2-5 batting in the two hole? He’s hot and showing that he deserves to stay up in the majors, but that doesn’t mean he has his share of flaws. In 45 major league at bats, Cano still hasn’t drawn a walk. But, he has only struck out four times, and those came early on. He’s making solid contact now, driving the ball to all fields. His other glaring flaw: that .091 batting average and .182 OPS against lefties. Luckily, Tony Womack is .344/.726 against lefties. Do I smell a temporary platoon here? It makes perfect sense, since it is an opportunity to get Bernie and/or Giambi in the lineup as well. A little work with Mattingly should solve both of the rook’s problems.

Speaking of Giambi, he kept his hit streak alive last night, actually taking a pitch the other way for a single (though I didn’t notice a blatant shift on him). It’s too bad that he looked absolutely horrible in the two at bats in which he struck out. True, most hitters don’t look pretty when they swing and miss, but Giambi just looks like a fool when he goes down swinging. Good hitters like Jeter usually shorten up their swing with two strikes, but it seems as if Giambi actually lengthens his swing, and has a chip in his brain that forces him to swing at balls in the dirt. Jason is 4 for 16, four games deep in his six game trial period, with a mere two free passes. So what does Joe Torre do if, after the six game sample, Giambi has similar numbers? The purpose of the trial period was to see if Jason could still produce, and slapping one dinky single a game doesn’t really count as productivity. True, he had what proved to be the game-winning RBI on Sunday, but barring that, he hasn’t done crap. The most likely scenario is that he falls back into the role he was in previously, playing once, maybe twice a week – meaning that nothing got solved in the process.

I know I’m not the only fan getting nervous about tonight, considering what the Ms did to Pavano last time out. If I have one wish for tonight other than a W, it’s that Carl avoids putting Ichiro on to lead off the game. Please, oh please, start the game with an out.