Monday, May 01, 2006

Yanks 4, Blue Jays 1


So after a few wasted opportunities, the Yankees turned it around on Saturday and Sunday to take the weekend set from the Blue Jays. And, as a result, the Yanks are now in a pseudo tie with the Red Sox for first place (actually have a better win percentage, but they have one more win and one more loss; always an advantage to have the games at hand). I guess that just makes the next two days that much more interesting. Not that we need incentive to get riled up over the inaugural Yanks-Sox series.

[MORE]You’d think we could avoid bad news on a weekend where we outscored the Blue Jays 21-7 (23-14 if you factor in Friday night), but two issues arose. First is Sheff, who will likely miss the next two at Fenway after his collision with Shea Hillenbrand on Saturday. From the replays, it looked like Hilly got the worst of it, a knee to the head. But in the end, fragile old Sheff will be the one missing games – and Hillenbrand managed to play yesterday.

The other issue was in the form of Randy Johnson, who pitched mightily bad on Saturday. The bats showed up to support him, but he couldn’t fend off the Jays and their determination to match the slugging Yanks. Thankfully, the bullpen has been quite effective this year, and that didn’t change on Sunday. Tanyon Sturtze – yes, Tanyon Sturtze – Ron Villone, and Matt Smith combined to finish the final four innings in the 17-6 win. But hey, if anything positive can be taken from this Randy outing, it’s that the mop-up guys in the bullpen got some work in. Though, with Aaron Small back in the fold, I guess that’s the last pitch we’ll see Matt Smith toss for a while – even while it’s a consensus among fans that Sturtze should be the one to go.

Sunday was my first Yankees game of the year. I can safely say that I would have rather been in the bleachers for Sundays game than 20 rows behind home plate for Saturdays (my buddy’s dad had offered us those tickets, but after we purchased the Sunday ones). Say what you will about your proximity to the game while sitting in the bleachers; it’s still the best place to watch a game. The only drawback is the idiot a few rows behind you emitting some grunting sound after every fly ball – apparently they think every pop fly is going to make it out of the yard.

Mussina was less than brilliant, but more than solid in his fourt win of the season. The only runs he gave up were on back-to-back hits by Alexis Rios and Frank Catalanotto. Other than that, he ran into some trouble with the bases loaded and two out in the fifth, but sent Lyle Overbay down swinging to quell the threat. And then the offense took over.

I’ve been to exactly to games in which Andy Phillips has started. During his at-bat in the fifth inning, I turned to my buddy Andy and said, “man remember the last time we were here in April when Phillips started? Yeah, he pounded one over the fence right in front of us.” Lo and behold, later that at bat, Phillips dunked one over the right field fence, tying the score. The guy sitting in front of us was amazed, and it looked like he was considering buying us tickets when Phillips starts. Alas, we never got an offer. So much for good luck charms.

My friends and I love the Yankees, but we know the score. We’re not homers by any means. We may yell and scream at the games; we may have the urge to lob bricks at the TV from time to time. So you can imagine the tension when Giambi walked to load the bases later in the fifth. A-Rod up, two down, tie score. This is precisely the situation in which A-Rod will hit a dinky grounder to end the threat. Thankfully, Chacin wanted no part of the MVP, walking him to plate Damon and take the lead.

My afternoon became complete in the seventh inning, as Jason Giambi slammed one off the façade in right, putting the Yanks up 4-1 and easing the tension out in the bleachers. Farnsworth and Mo combined to finish the thing. Man, all the sudden I’m having a ton more confidence in the bullpen. We’ll see how much longer that lasts.

On a closing note, an anecdote. We were sitting behind two dads and roughly 10 kids between the ages of eight and 10, apparently for a birthday party. They actually weren’t that obnoxious, though one of the kids clad in Yankees attire claimed that the Blue Jays were his favorite team, and the Yankees his second – this, of course, when the Jays were up 1-0. Anyway, come the eighth inning, with the Yanks securely up 4-1, the dads asked the kids if they wanted to stay or go. Of the 10 some odd kids, only one wanted to stay – a young’un who looked, to me, like a young Aaron Gleeman. I remember my dad taking me to the park when I was a kid, and I’d do everything in my power to stay until the game was over, even if it was a blowout (and this was in the late 80s, so there were plenty of them). So I’m pretty disappointed in the youth of America.

I’m working on the next WE bi-weekly analysis. It should be comprehensive, since we’re talking the first month of the season. It’ll give us a chance to compare conventional numbers and their WE counterparts. I want to have it done later today, but chances are I’ll publish it tomorrow. Until then, keep hatin’ them Red Sox.