May 14, 2008
Mike Mussina once again showed his worth to the Yankees, earning another win, improving his record to 6 and 3 and breaking the 4 ERA barrier by dropping to 3.99. A respectable grade for the Stanford Graduate veteran.
Mr. Mike Mussina gave up only five hits in his 6 1/3rd innings work, grabbing another 9 ground outs while allowing only one walk. He painted the corners all game long while easing the knuckle curve in for strikes, and combining low zone pitches puzzling Rays' hitters, striking out 4, and working out of a fix once again. There was only one fix to work out of today. Brilliant.
Moose is proving that one does not have to be all that young in order to win games. Mike is also providing a great example for Ian Kennedy, who has a Moose-like set up, and delivery. Mussina has also broken up a two game winning streak by Yankee opponents twice in a row, while dazzling 20,000 fans today in Tampa.
This won't take too long as there were only three total runs by both teams. Great pitching on both sides is credited, rather than poor hitters. Three up, three down in the first by both teams.
The second, Cano singled, and was followed by Cabrera reaching on an error. Cano moved to third, but both were stranded by Ensberg. Moose gave up three of five hits in the second. Scary, but in Ol' Moose fashion he worked out of the fix. A single to third base by Pena, but it is a long throw from the line, for most. Longoria was then doubled up by Jeter, and Cano to Giambi. Floyd singled on a grounder to center, and was then thrown out at third after Navarro hit one off of Jeter's glove that Melky picked up, and rifled to third base's Ensberg who slapped the tag on, ending the threat.
Third inning: three up, three down by both teams.
Leading off the fourth, after two strike outs, Matsui hit a shot for a double, and was then driven in by a Robbie Cano single. ESPN likes to point to a slumping Cano, he answered by going 4 for 4, breaking out of the interstate, and improving to 205 while getting one of two Yankee RBI. Moose gave up a hit to Pena, again, but that was it. Four up, three down.
In the fifth, Ensberg singled, and was sacrificed over to second. Abreu got the second RBI by blooping one in for a double, scoring Ensberg.
Moose was lights out, through 6 1/3rd. He gave up his only walk (Longoria) in the 7th, and was then replaced by Ohlendorf. Ollie gave up two singles in a row, scoring Longoria. The 7th ended in a double play, Jeter to "Cano Smooth," who turned, and fired to the "Big G" ending the 7th.
8th. Joba, and done. All strike outs, one walk. I almost thought they'd bring him in the the 9th, but then Mo. Rivera threw 9 pitches, 8 strikes, three outs, no hits, no runs, no errors. Game 2 to 1, Yankees win.
An Ailing Offense
The Yankees have a minor problem of producing runs. Hank Steinbrenner made comment to the effect that some, without improvement, may be forced to undergo change next year. Girardi successfully responded by making a minor change to the lineup, moving Abreu, who has been hitting into double plays as of late, to the 2 spot, shifting Jeter to the 3rd.
One would think that while the team is in a slump, the Yankees would make defensive improvements allowing for all sure bats to play. Girardi did improvise today by replacing Ensberg at third base in the 8th inning, opting for Gonzales. Moving Abreu to DH, playing Matsui (hot bat) to right, with Damon (hot bat) in left may help the leaky right field, and saving runs.
Matsui may not be faster than Abreu on the baselines, but he also isn't wall shy, and surely will not pull up on fly balls. "Upper-Deki" did break his wrist last year while making a sliding catch on a ball, which should have fallen in before making it to Matsui. If he can play center, and left field, then he should be fine to play right. An arm doesn't matter much when you can't make it to the ball to begin with, and certainly doesn't help when making errant throws wide of the plate, as it was in the Kansas City game. If the offense is struggling, due to injuries, then the defense better be in tip top shape to hold the runs down.
I wouldn't hit the panic button just yet. Alex Rodriguez (rehabbing) offered a response to an offensive call, saying he wants to be back in there early, after the Mets series. Posada is still out too, but is rehabbing an injured shoulder in Tampa, and progressing as well. The "Big G", who ESPN likes to point out, is only hitting .188. True. Giambi is also only leading the team with home runs, and among the tops in RBI and runs. Imagine where the Yankees would be without Giambi in the line up. A lot worse off.
Remember, we haven't even seen the second half team yet either. The real Yankees will have Joba starting, and get a bull pen make over which will include one of the following: Rasner, Hughes or Kennedy in the Pen, with either Farnsworth, Ohlendorf, or one of the previous three in the set up role. You have to get to the set up role in order to use the set up role.
In addition, when Hank speaks the Yankees win...thaaaaaa Yankees Win!