Monday, August 27, 2007

Week in Review: Ouch!

Week 21: August 20-26, 2007

Record for the Week: 2-4, 40 RS, 43 RA
Overall: 72-58, 2 games back of Seattle for the Wild Card

The Rundown:
All right...let's bring the pain--

8/20 -- Yankees 6, Angels 7
We should really keep track of the worst losses of the season. Looking back at the stats, it's easy to spot bad margins of defeat, like week 20's 12-0 pounding from the O's; it's a little harder to remember the ones that were just painful, like this. Two comebacks, an exhausted bullpen, an extra inning loss--and since it's California time, you get to wait up all night for the pain!

8/21 -- Yankees 9, Angels 18
I'd say this was a lot easier to take, except it wasn't, really. At least there was the comfort of knowing that the starting pitcher never gave you a decent chance at the win--Mike Mussina pitched like someone who doesn't belong in the majors. That doesn't mean that he can't hack it in the big leagues anymore, it just means that he can't hack it right now--since the All Star Break he's got a 6.33 ERA. He's got to turn it around soon, because this is killing his team.

8/22 -- Yankees 8, Angels 2
Great job by Andy Pettitte, stopping the bleeding in Anaheim. Matsui, Posada and Cano each had three hits, Bobby Abreu went yard.

8/24 -- Yankees 6, Detroit 9
As I said Friday morning, didn't we already see this game on Monday night? Trying to decide which is more painful between that loss and this one is like deciding between a punch to the kidney or one to the solar plexus. (I say this from a pain standpoint only, obviously. You're much less likely to suffer permanent damage from the gut punch than the shot to the kidney.) Thanks to the four-hour rain delay, they even played the game on Pacific time--that should have been an advantage for the Yankees, right?

8/25 -- Yankees 7, Detroit 2
Chien Ming Wang takes the team on his broad shoulders, and Johnny Damon (homer, triple) and Melky Cabrera (bases-clearing triple that broke the game open) did some damage on offense. Nice.

8/26 -- Yankees 4, Detroit 5
You ever experience the announcer's jinx? The first time I did was in 1988, I was listening to the game on the radio, and the announcers (I'm ashamed to admit I can't recall off the top of my head who the voices were) were going on and on about Cal Ripken's home run drought. Hadn't hit a homer since May something, which was more than a month past. And while they were running this topic into the ground, Ripken slams a homer (I want to say it was a three-run shot, but I'm not going to retrosheet this). You could just hear it coming. On Friday, when the rain delay finally ended, Michael Kay couldn't shut up about how poorly Curtis Granderson was hitting, what a slump he was in. You knew nothing good could come from this. He beat the stuffing out of the team on Friday, with four hits, then greeted Phil Hughes with an inside the park homer to start Sunday's game. Of course!

Player of the Week: Alex Rodriguez hit four homers and collected 8 RBI in a .333/.448/.833 week. The homers all came in Yankee losses, which might re-ignite the "unclutch" claims, until you look at the fact that those homers on Monday and Friday brought the team pretty close to victory. Hideki Matsui spent July looking like A-Rod, with all the homers, but he's shifted into being Ichiro Suzuki in August, the prodigious hitter of singles. He hit .440/.517/.600 for the week. Both men are runners up to the big men of the week, Andy Pettitte (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K) and Chien Ming Wang (8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K) whose extreme competence saved the Yanks from completely flushing this road trip down the toilet (Mike Mussina's start tonight will go a long way in determining how bad the flush-job is). An additional honorable mention has to go out to Kyle Farnsworth (3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 K), who seems to be doing his best to quit the sucking day at a time.

Dregs of the Week: Speaking of sucking...there was a lot of that to go around this week, particularly on the pitching staff. Mike Mussina's start was the obvious dregs (7 R in 1 2/3), but Sean Henn also took a couple of extra-innings beatdowns, with a crappy long-relief whipping in Tuesday's blowout in between. Why did Mike Myers walk the plank again? To make room on the roster for Jim Brower?

Let's not get bogged down, though. The Rocket (10.80 ERA in 5 IP) and Phil Franchise (7.30 ERA in 12 1/3 IP) also disappointed this week, as did Melky Cabrera (.240/.296/.320) and Robinson Cano. (.208/.240/.333). On the part-timer front, Jason Giambi and Wilson Betemit combined for a 3 for 23 performance, but made up for a bit since two of those hits were homers.

Story of the Week: We knew a hard week was coming, but this team really played down to expectations. Other teams in the AL have passed the Yanks in the bad one-run record race, but with another two one-run losses (and Friday's game would have added to that tally had Carlos Guillen's fly not left the yard) this week, the Yanks stand 11-17. The only other AL contender under .500 in this measure is Boston--they're 18-19.

Time's running out to hope that things will balance out. The Yanks are lucky that the Mariners dropped a couple against Texas over the weekend, or else all the warning lights would be flashing. Two games out of the Wild Card with a month to go is still being alive in my book. There's a must-win game behind a stone-cold Mike Mussina tonight, and then the Red Sox come into Yankee Stadium knowing that they will still lead the AL East on Friday morning, and with the distinct possibility that they can end any contest for the division right here. For their part, the Yankees have to focus on white-knuckled survival. Maybe they could also find a way to use Joba Chamberlain more than two innings this week.

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