Tagged: Ballgames

DON’T DRINK THE DETROIT KOOL AIDE

O.K. ….
So I know that I said I was going to find the time to blog more frequently and
I didn’t.

But this time I really, really mean it…

I’ve got several topics to tackle before opening day and
I’ll start out with my opinion of the 2008 Detroit Tigers.

I’m just not drinking all of the Kool Aide just yet here.

Why?

Because what about the pitching?

Every sportswriter and every broadcaster and every
blogger already has the Detroit Tigers going 132-30 next season, handily winning
the American League Central, winning the ALDS, winning the ALCS, and then
sweeping whatever team happens to represent the National League in the 2008
World Series.

There’s just one problem with that for me.

And that problem is that there is still a beast
slumbering in their own division out in Cleveland.

Because as much as I keep hearing about the vaunted
offense of the Detroit Tigers – Nobody seems to want to talk about their
pitching.

And the fact of the matter is that the bottom three
starters for the 2008 Detroit Tigers went 30 and 37 with an ERA of about 4.99
last season.

And that was WITH Joel Zumaya.

Now with the best relief pitcher on their roster out of commission
until at least the All Star Break they are going to be counting on Kenny Rogers
and Nate Robertson to go deeper into games than they did last year (under 5.9
innings per start) and you’re going to be counting on Dontrelle Willis to give
you something.

Willis_d
And when I say give you something — I mean something
more than his 10 and 15 record last year with an ERA of about 5.17.
And when I remark that he needs to give the Tigers something — I mean
something more than his 87 base on balls and his 29 home runs from a year ago.

I mean, apart from Justin Verlander (a legitimate stud
who is 35-17 with an ERA of 3.74 in his first three major league seasons) I don’t
see anybody on that pitching staff that’s going to go better than 12-5 next
season.

Did you know that nobody on the 2008 Tigers pitching
staff won more than 11 games last year other than Verlander and that the other
four starters for the 2008 Tigers averaged 8 wins each ?

I don’t care how much offense that they have — If their
pitching performs at last year’s level and if Joel Zumaya is really out for the
majority of the season they are going to struggle against good pitching.

Jake
And when I say good pitching I mean good pitching in
their own division where the Cleveland Indians starters average 13 wins per
starter and where they have two starters sitting atop their rotation who are
both under 28 years of age and who both posted 19 win seasons last year.

The Tigers are going to really lean on 43 year old Kenny
Rogers as their number two starter and really depend on their resident 40 year
old homophobe Todd Jones to close games.

I think that the Detroit Tigers will be a fun team to
watch in 2008 and they may set club records for long balls and for runs scored.

But they won’t set any records for pitching and I think
Dontrelle is just broken.

And if it comes down to a three game series in September
to decide the winner of the division with Cleveland_indians_2

Cleveland sending out Sabathia (19-7,
3.21 ERA and the 2007 AL Cy Young award), Fausto Carmona (19-8, 3.06 ERA and
4th in the 2007 AL Cy Young voting), and Paul Byrd (15-8, 4.59 ERA) to face
Verlander (18-6, 3.66 ERA), 43 year old man Kenny Rogers (3-4, 4.43 ERA), and
Dontrelle Willis (10-15, with a 5.17 ERA) — I would take the Indians to win
that series two games to one or maybe a clean sweep.

I was watching the Baseball Tonight Fantasy Baseball
preview show and at the end each of the broadcasters got to make one "bold
prediction".

I agreed with some and disagreed with some others.

But here’s mine…

The 2008 Detroit Tiger will come in second in the NL
Central and will fail to make the 2008 post season.

There I said it.

I could be easily proven wrong.

But that’s my theory for today.

You’ve got to be kidding me…?

SEATTLE MARINERS 2 – NEW YORK YANKEES 1
BOSTON RED SOX 6 – BALTIMORE ORIOLES 5 (Baltimore surrenders 6 runs in the 9th)

I can’t believe the games today.
Boston is down 5-0 in the 9th inning after Jeremy Guthrie had pitched his way into the 9th inning and had gotten one out.
Thus far Guthrie had only allowed 3 hits and no runs to the Red Sox and had been in control.
If the mediocre Baltimore bullpen could somehow get 2 outs without allowing 5 runs to score they could win the game.
Well the succeeded in not allowing 5 runs to score before they got 2 outs.
They allowed 6 runs to score and never got the third out.
That was one of the worst implosions I’ve seen from a bullpen in a long time.
And while the Red Sox have been on this ridiculous hot streak that they’ve been on it seems like everything that can go their way does.
Arod
And for the Yankees it’s just the opposite.
And I — for one — am getting annoyed with hearing about A-Rod’s amazing April over and over again as we head to the middle of May.
It’s not April anymore and since we’re behind in the standings and slipping a few inches more every day I don’t care what A-Rod did in April.
It’s not April anymore.
A-Rod hit 14 home runs and 34 RBI’s in the first three weeks of the season or so but in the last three weeks of the season he’s hit one home run and five RBI’s.
And his average was over .400 and now it’s down to .329.
Listen, I didn’t expect him to hit .400 and anything over .300 is a very good average but he’s lost about 90 points on his average in a little over 3 weeks.
This 2007 model is starting to look a lot more like the 2006 model and Abreu and Damon seem dead set on joining him in mediocrity.
And I can’t get Alex’s errant throw out of my head either.
That likely cost us a run and in a 2-1 ballgame that could have been the difference in losing or wining.
It’s almost if Jeter and Jorge are the only two position players who want to play all nine innings in each game these days.
I still think that we are turning this around, but today was an ugly day for Yankees fans in my opinion.
It was also a shame to watch Andy Pettitte have yet another quality start wasted by lack of fielding support and lack of run support.
Andy2_1
He pitched 7 and a third gutsy innings and gave up 2 earned runs, but I think only one of those should have been charged to him.
He pitched like a winner but we turned him into a loser.
I wonder if some days he regrets coming back to New York and maybe if he’d known that this would be what was waiting for him that maybe he would not have come back at all.
I do know that I’m glad to not be playing Seattle again for a few months.
We don’t seem to match up well against them and we seem to have the worst luck on calls when we play the Mariners.
Well, We need to try and wash that out of our collective systems and focus on the next series that will take us to the South Side of Chicago, Illinois as the Bronx Bombers will travel from Safeco field Us_cell
in Seattle to US Cellular Field in Chicago to take on the White Sox in a three game set.
We have tomorrow off and then we play in Chicago on Tuesday night (8:10 PM EST), Wednesday night (8:10 PM EST), and Thursday afternoon (2:05  PM EST).
Mike Mussina gets the start this Tuesday against John Danks, Chien Ming Wang faces off against former Yankee Jose Contreras on Wednesday, and the finale will feature Matt DeSalvo against Jon Garland.
I like these match ups for us in the White Sox series and if the rotation holds to form I am guessing that the weekend series with the Mets at Shea will feature both Pettitte and Moose in the series.
This still makes me nervous about the home series against Boston in the Bronx early next week because unless Clemens gets the go ahead to play in one of those games we are going to have both Rasner and DeSalvo in that series and I would like to have at least two veteran pitchers in that very important home series.
Right now there are slated to start Beckett, Daisuke, and Wakefield — barring any rotation changes and if Beckett doesn’t have to miss a start due to the finger blisters that cut his day short today.
I am not excited about a series right now that would feature these match ups:
Darrell Rasner vs. Josh Beckett on Monday
Matt DeSalvo vs. Daisuke Matsuzaka on Tuesday
Mike Mussina vs. Tim Wakefield on Wednesday
Auto_mussina
I know that you don’t want to re-arrange your entire rotation for one series, but this is a BIG series and we need to win it and cannot afford to get swept.
To really help our cause we really need to win all three games if we possibly can.
Hopefully we can win this upcoming series in Chicago and having a day off will benefit the whole team.
Then we really need to win this series with Boston badly.
I have a good feeling about the start that Moose will likely make and maybe DeSalvo can continue his winning ways against the Red Sox and stay hot.
I hope that Abreu, Damon, and A-Rod can find some life for their bats though — because one thing that I know for certain is unless we get absolutely SPECTACULAR starts from our pitching staff and equally stunning work from our beleaguered bullpen, we are going to need some significant run support to win these games. I just hope the bats wake up in the Chicago series because some of the hitting from this team in the past 3 or 4 games has been absolutely unacceptable for a line up with this much talent fire power.

Mike

The ‘Bombers pack up their bags and head out west

Today was the third game in the latest chapter of the YankeesRed Sox rivalry for 2007and we lost this game 7 to 4.
Wang3
Chien Ming Wang
made his second start of the 2007 season for the New York Yankees and although he pitched fairly well he got hurt on a solo home run by David Ortiz in the first inning and then a two run shot by Alex Cora in the fifth inning that contributed to his getting tagged with the loss.
Overall in the ballgame Wang pitched for six innings and gave up on four earned runs on six hits with two home runs to go along with three walks and one strike out.
The bullpen gave up two runs in the remaining three frames when Sean Henn gave up a two run round tripper to Manny Ramirez in the top of the eighth inning.Jeter

The Yankees offense off of Julian Tavarez came in the form of a three run Doug Mientkiewicz home run in the third inning and then a solo home run by Derek Jeter off of Mike Timlin in the bottom of the eighth inning.
All in all it wasn’t a terrible game. 
The Yankees had their chances and couldn’t capitalize on them and a couple of mistake pitchers cost the Yankees four runs and likely the ball game. If it wasn’t for the fact that we’d lost 7 of the last 8 games coming into this game — I would have been far less concerned about it.
In any event the team, and more importantly the bullpen, gets the day off tomorrow and then they head into Texas to play in my back yard.
I’ve got my tickets and my parking passes ready and am set to sit close to the field and root on the Texas_cookin
Bronx Bombers for three games in a row in person.
I’ll break down the pitching match ups for the series tomorrow.
Then I’ll probably be offline for until Friday or Saturday because I don’t have a lap top right now and I’m going to be staying in a hotel near the ballpark since the stadium is about 130 miles from my house.
It’s actually almost cheaper to do that than to drive 780 miles in four days.
I mean with the price of gas being what it is it costs me about 40 bucks just to drive there and back and then there’s the fact that I would be putting about 800 miles on my car. It’s just not really worth it when I can stay in a comfy motel and not worry about all that driving too and fro all willy nilly like that.

Mike

P.S.
Just when I’d reduced Doug Mientkievicz to rubble in my last blog he comes out and is 75% of our overall offense today. This doesn’t really change my opinion of the situation with him and Phelps and Giambi and the "need" for three first basemen — but still … Dougie did good today and deserves a hand. Good going out there today Dougie.

P.P.S.
I hope the day off is good for Bob Abreu. He’s one of my favorites and I hate seeing him in such a cold streak at the plate. Lets go Bobby !

P.P.P.S.
I also can’t say enough about the spectacular double play that Wang, Posada, and Mientkievicz pulled off in the third inning. With runners at the corners and one out and one run already in the Red Sox had Julio Lugo at third and Ortiz at the plate. When Ortiz hit a weak dribbler just past the home plate area — Jorge Posada was quick to throw the slow running Ortiz out at first.
Then, for some reason, Lugo decided to tag up from third base and try to score.
Posada quickly pointed to home plate and Doug Mientkievicz fired a strike to Wang who was covering first and they ended up with a 2-3-1 inning ending double play.
Nicely done !

With Fenway in our rear view — our next stop is Tampa Bay…

FlaWell, I hate to be overly pessimistic in these blogs, but I will go on record as saying that I for one am happy to put Boston, Mass in our rear view mirror and set the GPS for the sunshine state of Tampa, Florida.
I’ll also be ready to greet Chien Wang and Hideki Matsui back with open arms over the next two days.
But since I try to deal with both the good and the bad and give not only previews of upcoming games but also recaps of previously played games, I’ll say a few thing about the Boston series.
As we went into Fenway park for a three game set with the rival Red Sox, I thought we would take two out of three.
And if not for some bad breaks that is what I thought we would have done.
We had game one in hand and, despite the fact that Boston hits Mariano better than most other teams, you’re not going to see Rivera give up 4 (or more) runs in an inning that often.
I think Mo was a victim of lack of work.
He needs more innings and the season had just started and he hadn’t pitched in over a week.
I would like to see him in at least one of the Tampa games.
Even if it isn’t a save situation. Jetersox
So, that game was very much a winnable game and I think if that same situation comes up again we will win that game.
Then I thought game two was going to be a **** shoot but that we could get to Matsuzaka in game three.
Which we did, but since we didn’t have Moose, or Wang, or Pavano, or Igawa, or Pettitte to pitch we had to watch Chase Wright give up four home runs in a row in that inning.
We also were without Damon and Posada half of the time and were without Matsui for the entire series.
(And please remember that Matsui hits VERY WELL in Fenway park).
And regardless of who was pitching for them, how many times (since you’ve been watching the games) have you seen the Yankees give up four home runs in a row?
Exactly. 030328_matsui

That’s how many times I think you’ll see it again.
So, some bad luck and some bad breaks and the fact that we didn’t have an experienced pitcher on the mound in game three cost us those two games.
Some bad breaks like that screaming line drive Phelps hit in the 8th inning last night with 2 outs and runners on the corners.
That isn’t a play that gets made every time, to say the least, and that would have tied the score and could have won us the ballgame.
But as Jon Miller pointed out last night in the ESPN broadcast, the Red Sox sent out their best three starting pitchers and played on their home field and yet they had to make comebacks in every game and were behind in every game.
Think about that for a second.
Despite the fact that they had their best pitchers on the mound and were set up to win all the games— the Yankees lost the first game and the last game by only one run and the middle game by two.
We never got pounded out of any of the games and every game was a see saw affair.
If that was the case, then how will it pan out if instead of Pettitte, Karstens, and Chase Wright we instead send out Wang, Pettitte, and Mussina_mike
Moose
to pitch for us?
Just some food for thought.
And it’s early in the season.
Would you rather get swept in a three game series in April with over 140 games left in the season or suffer a five game sweep in August or September like the one Boston took last season?
Anyways, that’s enough of that…

Now…

On to TAMPA !

It’s a short two game series in Tampa before playing a short two game set against Toronto at home on Wednesday and Thursday before playing Boston again this coming weekend at home.
In game one the ‘Bombers send out left hander Kei Igawa against the Texas A&M allum Casey Fossum.
The left hander from Cherry Hill, New Jersey was able to give Tampa another quality start for his second outing in a row this past
Tuesday night when the Rays took on Baltimore, when he allowed just three runs in seven
innings of work.
He had fairly good command was able to throw 61 of his total 90 pitches for strikes in the ballgame.
So far in his career Casey Fossum is 4-4
with a 4.57 ERA in 18 career appearances against the New York Yankees.
Kei Igawa is coming off his best outing yet as a Yankee when he earned his first Major League win against Cleveland in a game which the Japanese rookie pitched six innings, gave up five hits, one walk, two earned runs, and struck out five.
Kei Igawa had thrown a much shorter bullpen session than normal before making the Cleveland start and had waved off his bullpen catcher early in the workout after finding his
change up at the beginning of the session. 
The six foot left hander from Ibaraki, Japan said it was the minimum of what he expects.
If we can expect a similar performance tonight this could a very winnable game for the Bronx Bombers.
I would like to see us cut down on Tampa‘s running game in this series, but with Posada likely out for one or both of these games that might be difficult.
We will certainly miss his bat, but thankfully Matsui will be back in the line up and will help anchor the second half of the batting order.1wang_3

Then tomorrow the Yankees will send out Chien Ming Wang to face Devil Rays ace Scott Kazmir.
Chien-Ming Wang will be making his very first start of the season after coming off of the disabled list with a slightly strained right hamstring.

Wang‘s
sinker ball style and poise on the mound will be a God-send for a Yankees
rotation that has played through the season’s first three weeks without
the player who would have been their Opening Day starter.
In the 2006 regular season Wang
tied
Minnesota left-hander Johan Santana Sant
with a league leading 19
wins and also finished second to Santana in the Cy Young balloting.


The Houston, Texas native Kazmir struggled with his control in last game against Baltimore in which he recieved a no-decision.
In that Kaz_1
game Kazmir needed 102 pitches to finish just get though four
innings (60 pitches were strikes).
After out dueling Johan
Santana
in his previous outing issuing any walks in the game,
Kazmir went on to walk four Orioles on Wednesday in his four innings of work while he gave up three
runs and struck out just three.
Scott Kazmir is 1-3 with a 4.18 ERA in six
career appearances against the Yankees.
So that’s the next two games preview in a nut shell.
Hopefully later tonight or tomorrow I’ll be back out here recounting a Yankees win and a Boston loss…

Until then,
Thanks for reading,

Mike