Friday, June 20, 2008

And the train keeps rollin' ...

These are very good times in the Bronx. This was my favorite victory of the streak so far, a grind-it-out 2-1 win where pitching and defense willed the team to its second straight three-game sweep. These are exactly the type of games the Yankees have been losing in the playoffs the past three seasons.

Joba Chamberlain provided another fine outing (9 Ks, 3 BBs, 1 ER) before Girardi pulled him at 100 pitches with two outs in the sixth inning, a move that ultimately cost Hoss his first victory as a starter. C'mon Joe ... I know you have an investment to protect, but with the bases empty that was an overly cautious move. That said, the timing of Chamberlain getting stretched out and Wang going down may end up saving the Yankees season. As Pete Abraham brilliantly put it today, without Joba the Yanks rotation would've been "Andy and Moose and reach for the Gray Goose." Now you have three better-than-average starters here to hold down the fort while Wang attempts his comeback. A dependable fourth starter would still be optimal -- no Sid Ponson, it's not your drunken arse -- and I fully expect a veteran pitcher to be coming our way in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, the bullpen continued to be the silent hero behind the Yanks' rise from .500 hell. Jose Veras has been a godsend of late (1.93 ERA in June) and Mariano Rivera is somehow, some way, having the best season of his career at 38 years old. Meanwhile, yesterday I said for about the 12th time since I started this blog that Kyle Farnsworth is a bad, bad baseball player. This remains more-or-less accurate, but I have to admit I've been a little less nervous with him on the mound of late.

I do talk about Farnsworth a lot, but the bottom line is, like it or not, this dude has a huuuggge role on this team right now. On a somewhat related note, I think a reason why Farnsworth catches shit that goes beyond his mediocre stat line is that he looks like a kick-ass reliever, and when we don't get the results to match the look, it becomes especially jarring. You could easily see him being the teammate that takes out eight dudes in a Boston bar brawl or starring as the brutish closer buzzing Corbin Bernsen with high heat in Major League 6: This Is Just Sad. Instead, he's just another well-built dude with a tribal band who happens to be a middling professional relief pitcher. He's still giving up too many homers, but I'd gladly take what I've gotten out of him this month the rest of the way.

The Yanks have to contend with another ace as they go for their eighth straight win. This time it's Edinson Volquez, "the other man" in the trade that sent Josh Hamilton from the Reds to the Rangers. Volquez has been likened to a young Pedro, and his stats this season certainly speak to that. I'm looking forward to see how he does in front of 55,000 fans at the Stadium. Mussina will counter for the Yanks, looking for his 11th win. He needed six months to get 11 victories in 2007. Amazing.

Around The Horn: Hideki Matsui missed his second straight game on Thursday after having his left knee drained. That always sounded gross to me. Godzilla could be back in the lineup Friday. ... Alex Rodriguez's four-game homer streak was snapped Thursday, however, the reigning American League MVP has now accumulated the minimum number of at-bats to enter the AL batting race. He jumps in on top, tied with the Twins' Joe Mauer with a .335 mark. A-Rod has one batting crown to his credit, when he batted .359 for the Mariners in 1996. ... The YES Network has scored a big addition in David Cone, who continues to be a source of insight (and amusement) during each telecast. On Wednesday, Michael Kay stated that Padres ace Jake Peavy was a "God-fearing man" who didn't use bad language. When asked by Kay if he ever had teammates who didn’t swear, Coney deadpanned, "None that I trusted", sending Kay into a fit of uncontrollable cackling. Good stuff. ... There are several Yankees regulars having strong statistical seasons. Vote them into the All-Star Game and keep those stinking Red Sox out of the Bronx on July 15. ... Volquez notched his 11th quality start of the season against the Red Sox on Saturday. It's the longest quality start streak by a Reds pitcher since Jose Rijo had 15 straight in 1993. I believe King George traded Rijo for a mock turtleneck in the 1980s, reason No. 2,321 why Donnie is sitting in Evansville without a ring right now.

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