Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yanks 7, Rangers 4 - Aaron Guiel's Band

Used in limited situations, this Aaron Guiel guy may just work out. He parked another one last night, this time off a lefty – a lefty with an ERA under 3.00 – and it was the difference in the Yankees 7-4 win over the Rangers.

I'll have to admit some disappointment in the early goings last night. Having spent the all of 2006 to this point on the DL, I figured we'd smack around Adam Eaton. But he held up well in the early goings before finally succumbing to fatigue in the fourth. Of course, fatigue is just speculation, but it's hard to think otherwise when he walked two straight, hit a guy, and walked in a run after quickly recording the first two outs of the inning.

Eaton was chased, and Ron Mahay looked to be picking up at the same spot, as he walked Bubba freakin' Crosby to reload the bases. Thankfully for him, he got a gift from the home plate ump and caught Melky looking to end the two-out rally. But it's the fifth that was truly interesting.

Mahay began the inning by surrendering a single to Derek Jeter, which is going to happen roughly 35 times out of 100. He looked to recover a bit by inducing an infield fly off the bat of Giambi. Personally, I would have parked under that pop up and let it drop in front of me; there's no reason to keep Jeter on the basepaths when you can swap him for Giambi. Alex faced Mahay next, and after five pitches and no swings, Alex was on first and Jeter moved to second. Posada looked locked in, but Mahay caught him with an off-speed pitch on an 0-2 count.

Up came Aaron Guiel's Band, bearer of a career .220/.298/.357 line against lefties (as opposed to .254/.328/.438 against righties). The inning looked cooked, but on Mahay's fifth offering, Guiel took a mighty hack and parked some insurance runs in the right field seats. 6-2 Yanks.

The bottom of the fifth started off with some major frustration. Handed a four-run lead, Moose thought it appropriate to let his guard down as he did with an 8-0 lead over the White Sox. Jim Thome parked a three-run shot off him that time, but it was much more embarrassing in this instance. After quickly putting himself ahead 0-2, Mussina nibbled for that third strike and made a mistake on his fifth pitch, which Barajas promptly deposited adjacent to the right field foul pole. True, it was only a solo job, but it was Rod Barajas, which is just inexcusable. The fact that it made a comfortable lead a save-situation lead didn't make me any happier, because that only meant that Mo would likely appear again.

Appear he did, and though he gave up a leadoff single, he mowed down the next three hitters to seal the victory. Unfortunately, Boston destroyed Oakland, so we're still 2 ½ back in the division. However, Minnesota did another fine job of knocking off Chicago, leaving us a mere half game out of the Wild Card lead. Hey, remember all that talk before the All-Star break about how the Wild Card was coming from the AL Central, and that only the East division winner would make the playoffs? Funny how a few games change everyone's perspective. And not only that, but Minnesota is poised to pull into a tie with Chicago should they continue their winning ways tonight.

(Aside: There are two teams other than the Yankees that I find absolutely fascinating this season: the Twins and the Mariners. Both weren't expected to factor much into the playoff picture this year, but both have been simply solid teams of late. It also helps that I thoroughly enjoy reading Lookout Landing and Aaron Gleeman.)

Tonight is the sweep game, which the Yanks just have to win. I'm sick of winning the first two games of the series and not being able to finish the sweep. I read this notion elsewhere this season, and I've been repeating it ever since: you have to finish off a team if you've beaten them two straight. We all know that winning two of three is phenomenal: not many teams end with a .667 winning percentage. But being satisfied with two of three should be limited to those series in which you lose the first or second game, and a sweep is not possible on Day Three. But if you've been better than a team for two straight games – and the Yankees have clearly been the better team – there is no excuse to drop the third one. Not with an off-day on Thursday. Not with John Rheineker on the mound. Plus, J-Wriggidy used up his bad outing last time out; time for him to come in and give us five-six solid innings.

Looks like Beam will see some action today, which will be nice as well. He was okay in his first stint, showing flashes of being a very serviceable reliever. He was susceptible to the long ball, but that could be all nerves.

Damon today? Maybe? But really, anyone but Bubba. Where's Kevin Thompson?

UPDATE: I totally forgot to mention this earlier, but you all should head over to So, do you like...stuff?, Mike Kenny's blog. He's a columnist for the Courier, a New Jersey newspaper. He's quite the writer, and has a piece up about the commentating tandem of Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling.