Friday, June 13, 2008

Godzilla strikes on his b-day

There are times when you watch Hideki Matsui and you can't help but be unimpressed by him.

He does have the all-time record for meek groundouts to second, after all. And sometime around 2005 or so, he lost all ability as a defensive player.

But then you get night's like Thursday in Oakland that will restore your faith in Godzilla. A Yankees offense sleepwalking yet again until Matsui steps up with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and drives the ball. He drives it so hard in fact that it clears the 20-foot-high wall in right-center without a sweat. It was all the Yankees got, or needed, in a 4-1 rubber-game victory.

Keep winning series. Keep winning series. Keep winning series.

The birthday boy Matsui wasn't the only hero at McAfee Coliseum. Yesterday in this very space, I worried like a school girl that Andy Pettitte's struggles were more than just a bad streak. And then he goes out and fires an eight-inning, one-run gem that almost restored enough faith in Louisiana to make me think Britney was hot again. Almost.

The lesson here is you should never doubt a historically consistent player -- or in Britney's case, live off cocaine and Mountain Dew. Because a consistent player will go through their funks but always come out in more-or-less the same place on the other side. The length of the baseball season allows this. Matsui and Pettitte are consistent Yankees. Pettitte has proven he's probably going to give you 15 wins. Matsui has shown he'll provide you with 100 RBIs.

I'll take these type of guys over a streak hitter or pitcher any day. Substance over flash my friends.

Next stop is Houston, where you can say Joba Chamberlain is making his first "real" start. His pitch count is at 90-95 pitches, a limit that actually allows him to pitch into the sixth-inning and beyond if he's effective. My prediction is that Joba delivers a fine performance tonight, six innings, eight strikeouts and a win that finally puts the Yankees back to two games over .500.

Which they'll then of course follow with losses in the last two games of the series to fall back to .500. There will be more comparisons to the 1959 Cubs. I'll write an "I'm sorry" letter to my mom and drink a bottle of anti-freeze. Baseball ... catch the fever!

Around The Horn: The Yankees pick up Interleague Play with 15 consecutive games against the National League. They lead the Majors with an all-time winning percentage of .582 (113-81). ... Mariano Rivera is now 18-for-18 in save chances this year, building on his career-best start to a season. Even the biggest of Mo fans has to be surprised how damn good he's been this year. ... Joba is starting opposite Shawn Chacon tonight. Along with Aaron Small, Chacon was a Godsend to the Yankees in 2005, and of the two, he seemed more apt to become a contributer for New York down the line. But he got off to a slow start in '06, and then was drilled in the shin by a line drive, an injury he never shook. He is 0-1 with a 14.54 ERA against his former teammates in a 4 1/3-inning sample. ... Robinson Cano went hitless yesterday and is now in an 0-for-12 and 2-for-20 slide. Girardi could use someone on the roster who can push him a little because he's definitely wearing goat horns in the first half. ... A bunch of the Japanese media guys presented Matsui with a birthday cake prior to the game yesterday. Those adorable scribes even had Hideki's age (34) spelled out in strawberries. How adorable! The weird part is, Matsui declined to have any of the cake, which I'd like to think prompted several awkward sideways glances before a clearly uncomfortable Matsui edged away from the group. Dick move Godzilla!

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