Sunday, July 27, 2008

Brooms on the ready at Fenway

The Yankees train kept rolling on Saturday in Boston, as a gutty performance from Andy Pettitte and 10 runs from the revitalized offense powered New York to its eighth consecutive win. The Bombers are now tied in the loss column with the Red Sox, one game off the pace in the American League Wild Card race and three games behind the AL East-leading Rays.

Not bad for a team written off as a probable trade-deadline seller as the fireworks crackled on July 4, huh?

Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte both made their debuts and each contributed to the win. Nady was hitless but reached base twice and scored a run, while Marte gave a glimpse of why he can be so valuable to this team, striking out David Ortiz with two runners on in the seventh inning.

Check out some of these stats for the Yanks during their season-best win streak:

  • The Yankees have won 13 of their last 16 games
  • The Yankees have outscored the opposition 49-15 since the All-Star break
  • Robinson Cano is 18-for-35 (.514) since the break with seven RBIs
  • Yankees starting pitchers have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 15 of their last 16 games, going 9-2 with a 2.22 ERA
  • In July, the Yankees own a Major League low 2.81 ERA (182 innings, 57 earned runs) through 20 games
  • The Yankees are a season-high 13 games over .500. Two months ago, they were 25-26 and in last place in the AL East
The Yankees clearly have no fear playing in Fenway Park. They are 7-4 since June 1 of last year, and 19-15 since 2005. Those numbers may not seem overwhelming, but keep in mind the Red Sox have been one of baseball's best home teams in that time. You get the feeling the Yanks enjoy the big stage playing the part of a WWF heel. Think Sgt. Slaughter and Col. Mustafa at the Gulf War-tinged Summer Slam '91 proceedings.

Saturday's game featured some extra-curricular activities as well, as St. John's product Craig Hansen drilled A-Rod in the arm in what had to be the least surprising HBP in the history of baseball. A-Rod jumped around like a little girl and later came out of the game but was ultimately fine. Watching from a bar in Santa Monica, I originally thought he took one in the hand, which shows how dangerous this whole you-hit-my-guy-I'll-hit-yours BS really is. Interesting that Rodriguez's teammates didn't even do the macho walking-up-the-dugout-steps posturing. This is likely because Rodriguez's teammates don't like him. You can bet your arse Farnsworth and The Stache are throwing down if Jeter took one in the pipe.

Can the Yankees actually sweep their way out of Boston? Well 37,000 fans at Fenway and Joe Morgan hope not, and it will certainly be an uphill battle for New York with Sidney "Greenstreet" Ponson on the mound. (My 88-year-0ld grandfather has referred to people he considers flunkies or lightweights as "Sidney Greenstreet" for as long as I can remember. As inexplicable as that moniker it is, it makes perfect sense for the Yankees' No. 5 starter.) Ponson's success since joining the Yanks has been misleading, and he may be due to get absolutely pummeled. Greenstreet is 3-11 with a 6.61 ERA against Boston with a 7.16 ERA at the Fens.

That said, this Yankees team has some serious mojo right now. If they can step on the Sox's throat and leave town with their third straight sweep, the sky is the limit.

Around the Horn: To create roster space following the Bucs deal, the Yanks did the inevitable by DFA'ing LaTroy Hawkins. The right-hander had a 5.71 ERA in 33 appearances in his first (and hopefully) final season in pinstripes. ... In another move, Brett Gardner was optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Gardner brought another dimension to the lineup with his speed, but he was clearly over matched at this point. He was 9-for-59 (.153) with 17 strikeouts and one extra-base hit in 17 games. ... Phil Hughes gave up his No. 34 to Xavier Nady, saying his hardships in '08 proved the number was no good-luck charm. ... A trade for Seattle lefty Jarrod Washburn seems to have reached an impasse as the veteran made the start against the Blue Jays this afternoon. Rumors of a Melky for KC right-hander Brian Bannister are swirling. ... Tim Wakefield is now 2-10 in his last 12 starts against the Yankees. Aaron Boone just gave himself a pat on the back, Barry Horowitz-style. (pro wrestling reference No. 2) ... Johnny Damon's entire body cramped up on him, proving once again there are times the cherubic outfielder seems to be older than the crypt keeper. He said he is fine and expects to be in the starting lineup tonight. ... Count with me how many factual errors Joe Morgan makes during the ESPN telecast tonight. The River & Sunset over/under currently sits at 12.

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