Saturday, September 30, 2006

Yankees Post Season Roster

After much deliberation, Joe Torre and the bench gods have set up their post-season roster for the upcoming playoffs.

1B: Gary Sheffield (1997 Marlins Championship Team)
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter (1999 World Series MVP, Four World Series Championships)
3B: Alex Rodriguez
C: Jorge Posada (Three World Championships)
LF: Hideki Matsui
CF: Johnny Damon (2004 Red Sox Championship Team)
RF: Bobby Abreu
DH: Jason Giambi

IF: Miguel Cairo
IF: Andy Phillips
C: Sal Fasano
OF: Melky Cabrera
OF: Bernie Williams (Four World Series Championships)

Chein-Ming Wang
Mike Mussina
Randy Johnson (2001 World Series Co-MVP with Arizona Diamondbacks)
Jaret Wright
Cory Lidle

Ron Villone
Bryan Bruney
Kyle Farnsworth
Mike Myers (2004 Red Sox Championship)
Scott Proctor
Mariano Rivera (2000 World Series MVP)

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:19 PM 0 Heckles

Awards Update

Here is a rundown on the Yankees players who are up for awards:

DHL Delivery Man of the Year:
Mariano Rivera

Roberto Clemente Award:
Robinson Cano

Players Choice Award:
Derek Jeter

Most Valuable Player:
Derek Jeter

DHL Hometown Hero:
George Herman "Babe" Ruth (already won award)

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 1:36 AM 1 Heckles

Yanks Clinch Home Field Advantage

The Yankees won their 50th home game of 2006 on Friday night, and if their performance against the Blue Jays is any indication of things to come, they could be giving the home fans a lot to cheer about in October.
New York's 7-2 victory, combined with losses by both Detroit and Minnesota, wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs for the Yankees. The AL's All-Star Game win secured home field for the league in the World Series, so the Bombers know that as long as they're playing in October, they will own the home-field edge the whole way.

"It's a great feeling," Johnny Damon said. "You have to give all of the guys on our team credit, because we've really been plugging away. We really wanted to be here at home for most of our games. It shows you how well we've stuck together and played as a team."

With the postseason set to begin on Tuesday, the Yankees (97-63) got a superb performance from Game 2 starter Mike Mussina, who tossed six innings of one-run ball.

Gary Sheffield also gave the Yankees something to get excited about with a three-run homer -- his first since April 26 -- that accounted for the winning runs.

"It was a good night for him and for all of us," manager Joe Torre said. "That three-run homer was big for him, just to get it out of the way."

With two games remaining, New York established a franchise record for home attendance, drawing 4,138,605 fans to the Bronx. The Yankees will kick off postseason play against the AL Wild Card team -- either the Twins or Tigers -- at Yankee Stadium.

"We've got our 10th man," Sheffield said of the home fans. "The crowd is big in the playoffs, and as loud as these guys get, they can pull us all the way through."

Sheffield wasn't the only Yankees hitter to contribute on Friday, as Jorge Posada hit a two-run homer and Alex Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Derek Jeter (.341) had two hits, and Robinson Cano (.342) extended his hit streak to 11 games, keeping both players in the thick of the AL batting race. Minnesota's Joe Mauer leads the league with a .346 average.

When asked if he had ever seen a lineup as potent as the one the Yankees fielded on Friday, Toronto manager John Gibbons replied, "Maybe the '27 Yankees."

Troy Glaus led off the second inning with a solo homer off Mussina, giving Toronto a 1-0 lead with his 38th long ball of the season.

New York tied the game in the third when Cano scored on a double play. Sheffield's homer in the fourth snapped the 1-1 tie, as he drilled a 1-1 pitch from Gustavo Chacin into the left-field seats.

"I was looking for that one," Sheffield admitted. "I was swinging as hard as I could, trying to impress Joe and show him that I could swing as hard as I used to. I've been cutting back on my swing, but today I let it go."

"He's been coming," Torre said. "He's been having more aggressive at-bats. Right now it looks like his timing is right on."

With the homer, Sheffield also became the 46th player in history to drive in 1,500 runs.

"I've been playing a long time," he said. "It's a lot of RBIs. It shows you I can be consistent, and I've always prided myself on being consistent."

Mussina cruised after Glaus' home run, retiring the next 15 batters he faced. He left the game after six innings and 88 pitches, charged with one run on two hits. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter.

"It was pretty smooth," Mussina said. "I just want to be able to carry that over and keep throwing the ball like that. You don't expect to do that in very many games all year. It just happened to be the last 15 guys of the season."

Mussina finished the season 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA, missing out once again on that elusive 20-win season. After going 13-3 over the season's first four months, he closed out the year just 2-4 over his final nine starts, missing two weeks in August and September with a groin injury.

"I feel good about the way I threw the ball all year -- it's been much better than the last two years," he said. "I got out hot, and the first two or three months were really consistent for me. I fought through some stuff in July, August and the first part of September, but you have to deal with those things. Fifteen wins is a satisfying year."

More satisfying is the Yankees' record, which is good enough to earn them home field throughout October. Of course, they have to take advantage of that in order for it to mean something.

"That only counts if you get through the first round," Torre said. "You can have home-field advantage, but if you're sitting at home watching that son-of-a-gun, it doesn't do you any good."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 1:11 AM 0 Heckles

Friday, September 29, 2006

BronxBloggers is Going Home

For the first time since the mid 90s, I will be heading back to New York.
Some of you may not know this, but I am currently residing in Abilene, Texas, where baseball isn't much of a sport here since the Rangers suck, and the Astros are weak.
But in New York, home of the Yankees, baseball is the strong sport there since the Islander, Rangers, Mets, Bills, Jets, Giants, and Knicks all suck.
I will not be able to post any information probably until the World Series is over, which is pretty bad since I was looking forward to doing that and the Halloween Special that I will be conducting for BigDawgRadio will also have to be cancelled.
So with that, I bid you all a see you later as I head to New York, home of everything!

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:34 PM 0 Heckles

Monday, September 25, 2006

Halloween Giveaway at BigDawgRadio

This is your favorite new and alternative rock DJ saying that on October 28, starting at 5pm EST/2pm PST, I will be having a huge BlogExplosion credit giveaway.
This is my own Halloween special since I will not be DJing at my normal Tuesday slot on Halloween day because I have a little kid. Do the math.

Question one:
How can I win credits?

Easy, I will play a theme song to a horror movie and the fifth IM, via BE or Yahoo wins 50 credits.

Question two:
Will there be a costume contest?

Hell yeah there will be, HOWEVER, the only way you can enter the contest is to have a BlogExplosion account and a web cam. Turn on your cam, show off your costume, and win up to 500 credits. That's right 500!!!

Question three:
Will you give out candy?

No, the candy is mine to eat.

Question four:
What kind of music will be played?

I have a list of songs with the titles in reference to Halloween, and as always, the best new rock!

Question five:
Will you still play the hilarious commercials?

aDUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! That's why we tune in right? Of course, my commercials and the Real Men of Genius ads will play.

Tune in on the 28th at BigDawgRadio

As always, thanks to our sponsors BlogMad and 3 Paws Saloon

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:41 PM 2 Heckles

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bronx Bloggers in a Slump?

In a recent turn of events, Bronx Bloggers has become on of the worst bloggers for the month. With a miserable 3-14 record so far, it is still amazing that they have stayed close to their international battle rank of 106.

Bronx Bloggers, once known as Yankeeography before a major renovation, was once ranked in the high 700s back in the early years and with a hot streak, earned a winning record and a rank in the low 100s.

The recent slump is still questioning the upper management to see what the problem is and how it can be solved.

Bronx Bloggers is currently riding a five-battle losing streak with their most recent 13-2 loss to a photoblog.

Bronx Bloggers have also lost to some of the worst battlers in recent history including two successive losses to one of the top 100 worst.

"I don't know why we are in this slump, and I hope it ends soon. We are entering the playoffs and fans really need to know what is going on" says Steve Kenul, owner and main contributor to Bronx Bloggers.

Steve is also the artist who designed the Quest for 27 logo, the Bronx Bloggers logo, and most recently, the 2006 ALDS banner which can be seen above the posts.

Bronx Bloggers have highlighted some great upsets in battles by defeating one of the top five all-time with a score of 10-5.

"That was a great momentum swing and it looked as the Bronx Bloggers family was going to be one of the best all-time" Kenul states.

Bronx Bloggers have been in this situation before when they were stuck at the 115 rank before pulling off a small winning stream to lower their rank by ten.

With the numerous sports blog around the internet and at BlogExplosion, they have achieved a fame for the sporting world by becoming the best sports blog.

What's next for Bronx Bloggers, Steve explains.

"We are going to do what we have been doing all along, blogs go into slumps and streaks. Right now we are in a slump, now we have a streak to look forward too, it's just a matter of time."

Coming Soon:
Bronx Bloggers will continue to follow the Yankees into the playoffs and track their progress with daily updates, new banners, and statistical charts.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:53 PM 1 Heckles


It's not very often that you will see the Yankees whooping it up in the clubhouse after a loss. In fact, it's not very often that you will see the Yankees whoop it up after a win.
On Wednesday night, about 30 minutes after losing to the Blue Jays, 3-2, the Yankees sat and watched the Twins finish off the Red Sox, 8-2, on the big-screen television in the visitor's clubhouse at the Rogers Centre.

That's when the party started.

Corks were popping, champagne and beer was flying through the air and tears were flowing as the Yankees clinched their ninth straight American League East title.

"When the Twins got three runs in the top of the ninth, everybody grabbed a shirt and hat," said Mike Mussina, sporting a soaking-wet AL East championship T-shirt and backwards hat. "[Manager] Joe [Torre] gave his little toast to congratulate us on our accomplishment -- then we had a little fun."

"I just congratulated them, toasted them and told them how proud I was of them," Torre said. "It was simple."

The celebration scene looked like any other division-winning clubhouse in baseball, which is a little strange considering the regularity with which it has happened for the Yankees.

But with each new year comes new faces, as Bobby Abreu, Melky Cabrera and a host of other newcomers got their first taste of victory champagne in New York.

"This team always goes to the playoffs, so you always want to be part of this," Abreu said. "This is what it's all about: winning and celebrating."

"We have a lot of guys that haven't been here before, they're actually experiencing what we have over the years," Bernie Williams said. "As an old guy being here, year after year it never gets old. It's a great feeling of accomplishment."

Not that the celebrating was limited to the neophytes. Jorge Posada sprayed a group of people with champagne, Jason Giambi was smothered by teammates who covered him with beer, and even Derek Jeter, who has now been to the postseason in each of his 11 years in the Majors, was bombarded by Alex Rodriguez and a few other teammates pouring all sorts of things on him -- while he did a live TV interview.

"Every year is different because you have a different group of guys," Jeter said. "This is as special as any other year."

"It's fun that we were able to put something together that so many people didn't think you could do," Rodriguez said. "It's been a tough year -- a grinding type of year. I'm just proud of this bunch."

Nearly every player in the clubhouse singled out the contributions of the team's youth, from Cabrera to Chien-Ming Wang to Scott Proctor, each of whom played major roles in the Yankees' success this season.

"The injuries to Hideki [Matsui] and Sheff [Gary Sheffield] and the way the young kids stepped up into those roles, and the way Scott Proctor has emerged as a dominating force in the 'pen," Giambi said. "This has been the most gratifying division title I've ever been part of."

"Melky Cabrera came up and he was a big part in what we accomplished; we had key injuries, but he stepped up," Damon said. "Wang stepped up. Proctor stepped up. A bunch of these unsung guys that we know they're as important in this clubhouse. That's what makes championship teams."

Even Proctor himself admitted that this champagne celebration felt a lot more real to him than last year's at Fenway Park, when he was pitching at the back end of the bullpen.

"This was definitely more rewarding, because I actually felt like I did something this year," said Proctor. "I got some big outs, got to pitch in some big situations that helped get us where we are. It was very rewarding."

New York is now 92-60, holding on to a slim lead over Detroit for the best record in the AL. The Yankees will likely take on the AL Wild Card in the Division Series, with the Twins and Tigers looking like the potential opponents.

During the final two innings of the Red Sox-Twins game, Damon was watching more than the final score.

"We were also scouting the Twins now, too, so we were seeing what their pitchers were doing," Damon said. "They're on fire right now; they could be the hottest team going into the postseason."

Regardless of who they play in the first week of October, the Yankees' goal will be to advance further than they have in each of the past two years, when they were knocked out before the World Series.

"We need to make this postseason a lot longer than it's been for us," Torre said. "This ballclub has a nice mix of youth and veterans, so hopefully we're poised to do something special. Whoever we have to face is going to be a battle for us, but we're certainly ready to do it."

"There's so much togetherness here; we support each other, and I hope I can be a part of helping this team win a championship," Damon said. "I want to get a championship for Giambi, get a championship for A-Rod, get a championship for Donnie Mattingly and whoever else has never won one. There's a lot of work to be done."

The Yankees' nine straight division titles now ranks as the longest active streak in the Majors. While some may believe that these celebrations could get tiresome, the players who have done it again and again couldn't disagree more.

"This is what you play for -- to get to the playoffs and have a chance to win a championship," Jeter said. "This is the first step."

"It just doesn't get old doing this, as many times as we have," Mussina said. "Hopefully we'll get to do it a few more times before the season is over."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:53 AM 1 Heckles

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


The Yankees can officially put the champagne on ice.
Three home runs, a quality start by Jeff Karstens and a relatively stress-free performance by the bullpen gave the Yankees a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Meanwhile, 550 miles to the south, the Red Sox lost to the Twins, lowering the Yankees' magic number to clinch their ninth consecutive American League East title to one. A Yankees win or Red Sox loss on Wednesday will end the race.

"It's been close, but this is the first day we can say, 'We show up tomorrow and we can make it happen,'" manager Joe Torre said. "That's what you wait for; that one opportunity when you wake up in the morning and you know something special can happen."

"We know if we win a game, it's over with, so we'll try to get it done tomorrow night," Derek Jeter said. "We're pretty close now; we should be able to get it done. You can't ask to be in a better position."

Jorge Posada, Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui each homered on Tuesday, accounting for four of New York's runs. Melky Cabrera knocked in the other two, as the Yanks improved to 92-59, giving them a two-game lead over the Tigers for the best record in the AL.

For the second straight night, the Yankees got a surprisingly good outing from a rookie starting pitcher, as Karstens allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings. Kyle Farnsworth closed it out in the ninth for his sixth save.

The Yankees will send another rookie to the mound on Wednesday, as Sean Henn will try to lead New York to the division title, taking on Cy Young Award contender Roy Halladay.

"It's a pretty good thing," Abreu said. "I haven't been in this situation for a long time, so I'm going to enjoy it. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for us."

Posada's solo shot off Shaun Marcum gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the second, but Karstens gave it back in the bottom of the inning. Like Darrell Rasner, who got into a jam early in the game on Monday before settling in, Karstens had the bases loaded with one out in the second before pitching his way out of trouble against the top of Toronto's lineup.

"I'd say it wasn't pretty, but I got the job done," Karstens said. "I had to battle and battle, but I got better in the last two innings."

Toronto took a lead in the third on Lyle Overbay's RBI single, but Cabrera answered with a two-run single of his own in the fourth, giving New York a 3-2 lead.

The Jays tied it at 3 in the fifth on an RBI single by Gregg Zaun, and after a walk to Alex Rios, Karstens was faced with another bases-loaded jam. Russ Adams hit a fly ball to deep left-center, but Johnny Damon tracked it down and made a terrific catch to end the inning, cutting his hand open in the process.

"Three runs would have scored," said Damon, who was 1-for-5. "If you're not hitting, you better do something."

"That was a [heck] of a catch," Torre said. "Three guys would have scored, then the whole complexion changes."

Jeter singled off Jason Frasor's right leg to open the seventh, forcing the pitcher from the game. Justin Speier came in to replace Frasor, promptly serving up a two-run blast by Abreu, who crushed the ball to dead-center field.

"It was just a fastball -- I left it up," Speier said. "He's a good hitter and he made a good swing at it, and with that roof open it carries a little to center."

Matsui added a solo shot in the eighth, his seventh of the season and second since returning from the disabled list.

Jason Giambi left the game in the fifth with a sore left wrist, while Jeter was hit on his right hand by a pitch in the first inning. Jeter remained in the game, but Torre said that he, Giambi, Posada and Damon would all get the day off on Wednesday.

If the Yankees don't wrap up the division title on Wednesday -- with a win or a Boston loss -- they could clinch on Thursday despite being off. Boston faces Johan Santana that night, leaving a back-door clinch as a realistic possibility.

"It would be nice to clinch with these guys here," Damon said. "Thursday, we could possibly clinch also and we'd be celebrating on our own."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:16 AM 2 Heckles

Monday, September 18, 2006

Magic Number: 3

Derek Jeter furthered his case for the American League's MVP Award on Monday, coming through with a huge hit when the Yankees needed it most.
New York was seven outs away from dropping its fourth game in the last five when Jeter drilled a two-run home run off A.J. Burnett, lifting the Yankees to a 7-6 win over the Blue Jays.

Alex Rodriguez also had a two-run home run, helping the Yankees move one step closer to their ninth consecutive division title. New York's magic number now stands at 3.

Darrell Rasner, starting in place of Cory Lidle (tendinitis in his right index finger), allowed three runs in six innings. Rasner was pitching on three days' rest, having thrown four innings of relief on Thursday.

The Yankees survived a bullpen meltdown in the ninth, as the Blue Jays hit Ron Villone and Octavio Dotel for three runs -- all on Troy Glaus' 35th homer of the year -- to cut the lead from four to one. Mike Myers and Jose Veras each recorded an out to close out the game.

Burnett looked virtually unhittable in the first five innings, holding New York to a pair of singles -- both coming with two outs in the second inning -- while striking out five.

Rasner, meanwhile, needed 28 pitches to get through the first inning after loading the bases before recording an out. The right-hander managed to pull a Houdini act, getting Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus to pop out before striking out Bengie Molina to end the inning.

Rasner wasn't as lucky in the second, as the Jays touched him for a run. Toronto added two more in the fourth on an RBI triple by John McDonald and an RBI double by Reed Johnson, giving the Blue Jays a 3-0 lead.

A-Rod cut the lead to one in the sixth with a two-run blast to center field, his 34th of the season. The homer was No. 463 of Rodriguez's career, moving him past Jose Canseco for sole possession of 29th place on the all-time list. He stands one homer behind Dave Winfield for 28th place.

The next inning, Burnett was one out away from completing the seventh, but Aaron Guiel -- who entered the game in the fifth after Johnny Damon was ejected for arguing with home plate umpire Bill Miller -- doubled to left, setting up Jeter's two-run homer to left-center. Jeter's 14th home run put the Yankees ahead, 4-3, giving him 95 RBIs for the year.

Brian Bruney pitched a scoreless seventh, while Scott Proctor did the same in the eighth. New York tacked on three insurance runs in the ninth, giving Villone a nice cushion to close out the game.

Villone gave up a pair of one-out singles, prompting manager Joe Torre to pull the left-hander in favor of Dotel, who threw three straight balls against Glaus. Dotel threw a strike to make the count 3-1, but Glaus blasted the next pitch over the wall in right-center, cutting the lead to make it a 7-6 game.

Myers took over for Dotel with one out, retiring John Hattig for the second out. Jason Phillips singled off Myers to put the tying run on base, as Torre called on Veras -- who got Aaron Hill for the final out, earning the first save of his career.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:46 PM 0 Heckles

1 Out of 4 Ain't Bad, Right?

I guess the saying what what goes around comes around could describe the outcome of the series against the Red Sox this past weekend. In late August the Yankees entered Boston a game behind the Red Sox only to embarrass them and sweep the five-game series, took the lead in the East, and watched Boston take a tumble and finishing up at 8-21 for the month, one of the worst monthly records of all-time.
This time it was different, instead of five games in four days, it wound up to be four games in to days thanks to a rained out game to start the series.
Boston was in town for a useless series just so they can get their egos back up to the arrogant levels again. Sadly, they succeeded.
The Yankees were hoping to repeat last years style of clinching by defeating Boston again. Nope. Although a win on Saturday night did lower their magic number to four, but the Yankees should have clinched by winning at least three of the games. Key word is should. We had lost the Sunday doubleheader because of weaknesses in both pitching and hitting.
In the first game, the Yankees spoiled a no-out bases-loaded situation with a strike out, pop-up, and a ground out in that order. Just a little statistical trivia for you, when a base runner is on third with no outs, there is a 95-97% chance that he will score. Yankees opted for the 2-5% to end the inning. I was pretty upset over that especially since Boston had a no-name pitcher in the game and we still couldn't do anything.
In the second game the Yankees took a 4-2 lead into the eighth inning with the best relievers coming up to secure the victory. Total bullshit. Ron Villone, our great set-up reliever allowed the Red Sox to tie it up at four, and then Kyle Farmboy came in to send the Yankees into extra innings until he let the Red Sox win it.
Yes, our great bullpen is noting but bullshit. Kyle Farnsworth is a waste of money, Octavio Dotel (who?) is not around, Villone and Scott Proctor can't be trusted, and Mike Myers is a DOOP pitcher.
By the way, in case you forgot, DOOP stand for Designated One-Out Pitcher.
Ok, enough about our pitching, lets get to hitting.
It's apparent that Derek Jeter isn't too concerned about winning the batting title. His 25-game hit streak came to an end during the Sunday night cap and was pretty horrible throughout the series, not very MVPish if you could say. Jason Giambi is still stuck on 36 home runs and will not reach 40 by season end. It's gotten to the point where Alex Rodriguez is the leading offense producer (gasp!). Matsui is still coming back to the game, but still managed to drive in a couple runs. Melky Cabrera again stepped up to the plate and delivered, so expect to see him in the outfield as a permanent player next year since Sheffield will be gone.
BUT!! But but but, before I go and criticize everyone for the weak performance, let me say that because this series wasn't that big, although the AL East title was up for grabs, the Yankees played with a reserve line-up meaning that they starting line-up was resting, at least some of them. Sal Fasano, Craig Wilson, Terrance Long, Melky Cabrera, Aaron Guiel, and Nick Green played in a couple games, they actually did alright, but not enough.
We lacked in hitting and pitching and that could cost the Yankees in the playoffs if Joe Torre is not careful. If anything, Take Myers and Farmboy with you as long as the starting pitchers can produce a full start, I.e. more than five innings.
Jaret Wright pitched a great game only to see it go to waste thanks to the relief, Mussina and Wang both saw mediocre games and suffered a loss because of lack of hitting. Randy Johnson was the only one that saw the light although he did not have a quality start and gave up five runs in as many innings.
What the Yankees need are quality starts from at least three of their five pitchers. Mussina and Wang are still the top two, although Mussina's injury has been a set back but will recover.
Jaret right has improved and will be their fourth starter. Randy Johnson is still hit or miss and Cory Lidle is unknown. I don;t know what to say.
I do know this, the Yankees can afford to dump a pitcher, just like they did with Sidney Ponson.
The magic number is still four, we could have clinched this past weekend, but it looks like the other New York team will beat us too it.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:18 AM 0 Heckles

Big Dawg Radio

Your Yankees blogger is also a DJ.
After two successful shows, it's time to make a breakthrough to the public and officially announce!
I am a huge fam of rock and alternative rock music and it's time that I convert you to the angry-white-boy music world.
On the right sidebar you will notice my times and the event schedule for my Saturday show.

But if your eyes are too lazy to move there, look below.

Tuesday 7-10 PM EST, nothing special here, just plain rock.
Sunday 5-9 EST, THE show to listen to, sports, battle of the bands, stupid news, and of course, the best commercials out there, you'll laugh your ass off!

So come on by, tune in, and get ready for one hell of a show!

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:07 AM 0 Heckles

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Split Lowers Magic Number to 4

The Yankees moved one step closer to a ninth consecutive American League East title, giving them a chance to clinch the division crown on their own turf Sunday night.
New York took a 7-5 victory over Boston, earning a split in the day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees' magic number now stands at four, with the two rivals set to play another day-night twin bill on Sunday.

Jason Giambi's RBI double -- aided by one of three defensive miscues in left field by Wily Mo Pena -- snapped a 5-5 tie in the seventh inning, while Scott Proctor threw two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the victory.

The victory also lifted the Yankees (90-57) to a tie for the best record in baseball, pulling them even with the crosstown rival Mets. A sweep of Sunday's doubleheader combined with a loss by the Blue Jays would give the Yankees the AL East title.

Derek Jeter went 1-for-5, but his third-inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-high 25 games, marking the longest hitting streak by a Yankee since 1942, when Joe Gordon hit in 29 straight games.

Randy Johnson didn't factor into the decision, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings.

Johnson retired the first six Boston batters he faced, but the Red Sox broke through with two runs in the third on RBI doubles by Alex Gonzalez and Kevin Youkilis, taking a 2-1 lead.

Gonzalez extended it to 3-1 with an RBI single in the fourth, but the Yankees tied it up in the bottom of the frame on Bernie Williams' two-run double against Julian Tavarez, a ball misplayed by Pena in left field.

Johnson sat the Sox down in order in the fifth, but Boston got to the left-hander in the sixth. Jason Varitek and Gabe Kapler each singled with one out, then Johnson walked Dustin Pedroia to load the bases.

The Big Unit struck out Gonzalez for the second out, but Coco Crisp -- who had struck out in each of his first three at-bats -- lined a double that stayed just fair insider the left-field line, scoring two runs to give Boston a 5-3 lead.

Tavarez walked Posada to start the bottom of the sixth, prompting Terry Francona to pull him for right-hander Craig Hansen. Williams was hit by a pitch, putting runners at first and second.

Aaron Guiel moved the runners over, then pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 5-4. Melky Cabrera followed with a single up the middle, tying the game at 5.

Boston threatened to take the lead in the seventh, putting runners at the corners with one out. But Scott Proctor struck out Varitek and pinch-hitter Trot Nixon, preserving the tie and giving his offense a chance to take the lead.

And that's exactly what the Yanks did, as Giambi doubled in Alex Rodriguez -- thanks to yet another terrible read on the ball by Pena, who was charged with an error on the play, allowing Giambi to advance to third base -- and Posada singled in pinch-runner Kevin Thompson, giving the Yankees a 7-5 lead.

Proctor threw a scoreless eighth, while Kyle Farnsworth closed out the win in the ninth to earn his fifth save.


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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:23 AM 0 Heckles

Friday, September 15, 2006

Yankees - Red Sox, The Final Chapter

Last year, the Yankees won the American League East championship in Boston on the second-to-last day of the regular season.
About a month ago, as the Yankees traveled to Beantown with a 1 1/2-game lead in the division, it seemed like that scenario would play out once again.

Then came a five-game sweep of the Red Sox, and some would say the Yankees won the division then.

Now, in their first meeting since the sweep, the Yankees can literally finish it off.

The Yankees, who hold an 11 1/2-game lead in the American League East, can clinch the division if they win three of four games in the series. It's one of the only storylines in what now seems like a watered-down version of baseball's best rivalry.

"That's OK; we don't need drama all the time," Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon said. "There always seems to be drama with that series. Hopefully, it will just be good, hard-nosed baseball, and hopefully, we can win."

While the Yankees have been able to keep an eye on the playoffs ever since flying out of Boston, the Red Sox have gone in the completely opposite direction. The Bombers are 14-8 since then, while the Sox are 9-13. The Yankees have lost ground in the race only twice since.

"[The race] is normally a lot closer, but the heck with it," Damon said. "We went out and played well and we're still doing it."

The Red Sox, on the other hand, have a different outlook.

"It doesn't feel strange," said Boston starter Curt Schilling, who will not pitch in the series because of a strained lateral muscle. "Depressing, I guess, would be a better word for it, considering where we are and where they are."

A large part of the change is that as the Yankees have gotten healthier, the Red Sox have lost several key players to injuries, including designated hitter David Ortiz, catcher Jason Varitek, starter Jon Lester and closer Jonathon Papelbon.

"We started playing well, but I think their injuries were the reason they couldn't keep things going," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

While the Yankees typically spend a week answering questions about an upcoming Red Sox series, they hardly heard about it on its eve Thursday. Near the end of Torre's pregame talk, he was asked if this was the longest he had ever gone without talking about a Red Sox game the next day. Torre laughed and agreed.

Still, several Yankees said the series hasn't lost its excitement despite the gap in the standings and lack of pregame buzz.

"Any time you're playing Boston, the fans get into it," Derek Jeter said. "They make the atmosphere fun for us as players, and we still haven't accomplished anything."

That could change by the end of the weekend as the Yankees are playing some of their best baseball, while the Red Sox are still scuffling. New York has won a season-high six straight games and sends perhaps its top starter, Chien-Ming Wang, to the hill Friday.

Several Yankees said it doesn't matter who they clinch against, just as long as they do it. But if it does come against the rival Red Sox, manager Terry Francona is already prepared.

"You know what, whatever happens, you deal with it," Francona said. "However difficult it is, you try to deal with it and learn. I mean, remember when we got our [World Series] rings? Joe [Torre] had them in their dugout watching. Flip the coin a little bit and we have to be on the other side. I hope that we would have as much class as they showed."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Josh Beckett (14-10, 5.09 ERA)
Beckett allowed nine earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in his last meeting with the Yankees on Aug. 19.

NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (17-5, 3.60 ERA)
Wang was originally going to pitch Thursday, but was moved back a day because rain threatened to cut his start short. Wang has won nine of his past 10 decisions.

Player to watch
Damon was 10-for-23 with two home runs and eight RBIs in the Yankees' five-game sweep at Fenway Park.

On the Internet
Gameday Audio
• Gameday
• Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS-AM 880 (Español)

Up next
• Saturday, Game 1: Red Sox (RHP Julian Tavarez, 3-4, 4.74) at Yankees (RHP Jaret Wright, 10-7, 4.60), 1:20 p.m. ET
• Saturday, Game 2: Red Sox (RHP Kyle Snyder, 4-4, 6.54) at Yankees (LHP Randy Johnson, 17-10, 4.84), 8:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Red Sox (LHP Kason Gabbard, 1-3, 3.13) at Yankees (RHP Mike Mussina, 14-6, 3.59), 8:05 p.m. ET

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:27 AM 0 Heckles

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sweep Lowers Magic Number to 6

The Yankees inched closer to a division title on Thursday night, finishing off a three-game sweep of the Devil Rays. Robinson Cano drove in three runs, including the tying and winning tallies, leading New York to a 7-4 victory. Cano collected eight RBIs in the past two games, helping the Yanks move to 33 games over .500.

Rookie Jeff Karstens, starting on about two hours' notice after Joe Torre decided to push Chien-Ming Wang back to Friday because of potential weather problems, gave up four runs over five innings.

Darrell Rasner (2-0), another rookie, tossed four scoreless innings of relief to close out the game and earn the win. The Yankees were able to win without using a single regular member of the bullpen, giving them a fresh group of relievers for the weekend series against the Red Sox.
The Yankees' magic number to clinch their ninth consecutive American League East title dropped to six, meaning that they can clinch this weekend by taking three of four from the Red Sox.

Rocco Baldelli led off the game with a triple, scoring on Delmon Young's RBI groundout. Hideki Matsui tied the game in the second, drilling his sixth homer of the year, his first since returning from the disabled list earlier this week.

One inning later, Baldelli put the Rays back on top with a solo shot of his own, his 12th of the season. Baldelli extended the lead in the fifth, hitting a two-run homer off Karstens to make it a 4-1 game. It was the first two-homer game of Baldelli's career.

The Yankees battled back in the bottom of the fifth, getting an RBI single by Jeter and a two-run double by Cano to tie the game. Cano's hit actually hit Carl Crawford's glove, but the left fielder couldn't come up with the ball, tying the game at 4.

New York rallied in the seventh, getting one-out singles by Kevin Thompson and Bernie Williams to put runners on the corners. Derek Jeter struck out, but Cano delivered an RBI double, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Alex Rodriguez singled in two more runs, boosting the lead to three.

Don't forget about our Caption Contest worth 100 BE credits

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:56 PM 0 Heckles

Yanks to Lose AAA Columbus

The Yankees' 27-year affiliation with the Columbus Clippers appears to be coming to an end.
According to a report in The Columbus Dispatch on Thursday, the Yankees will not renew their deal with the Clippers, who have served as New York's Triple-A affiliate since 1979.

Yankees spokesman Ben Tuliebitz said that the team had no comment on the report, though a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed that the Yankees would be moving their Triple-A team out of Columbus in 2007.

Columbus Baseball Team Inc., which has until Sept. 30 to sign with another big-league organization, is set to begin negotiations with available teams Saturday. According to the newspaper, the Mets, Nationals and Orioles are the only teams currently without Triple-A affiliates.

"I can guarantee there will be baseball in Columbus next season," Clippers president Ken Schnacke told the Dispatch.

The report indicated that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is looking to move the Triple-A team closer to New York, with Scranton, Pa. -- which is approximately 120 miles west of New York City -- representing a possible destination.

The Phillies' Triple-A team has been in Scranton since 1989, but the Dispatch reports that Philadelphia allowed its contract to lapse, opening the door for another team to move in.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:53 PM 0 Heckles

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Caption Contest is Back

Rules are the same as they always have been. Give me a caption that best fits this picture and you man win 100 BlogExplosion credits. You may enter as many times as you wish and please, leave you BE name so I can send you your credits.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:28 PM 2 Heckles

Magic Number: 7

The Yankees beat the Devil Rays, 8-4, on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, but their night wasn't as encouraging as one may think. While their offense seems to be humming, the Yankees still have some rotation issues.
Just a week ago it seemed that Wednesday's starter, Cory Lidle, had a grip on the No. 4 postseason rotation. Two outings later, that spot appears to be up for grabs.
Lidle went four innings while giving up nine hits and four earned runs. He surrendered a home run to Rocco Baldelli to lead off the game and another to Carl Crawford 10 pitches later, putting the Yankees behind, 2-0, in the first.
Lidle settled down somewhat, retiring seven of eight batters at the start of the second. But he allowed RBI singles in the fourth and fifth before being pulled. The veteran righty has allowed 10 earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in his past two starts.
The Yankees battled back in the first, plating three runs with only one hit against Devil Rays starter Jason Hammel. It's their second straight, big first inning as they tacked on nine runs to start Tuesday's game.
Johnny Damon drew a leadoff walk, Derek Jeter extended his hit streak to 22 games with a single and Abreu walked to load the bases for Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod hit a chopper up the third-base line that was dropped on a bare-hand try by B.J. Upton, allowing Damon to score. Jason Giambi plated another run with a fielder's choice groundout and Cano brought home the third with a sacrifice fly.
The Yankees pounded out another three runs in the third. A-Rod blasted a two-out solo homer into the black batters' eye, No. 33 of the season. Giambi followed with a single and Robinson Cano reached for a low-away-pitch and pulled it over the right-field wall to put the Yankees ahead, 6-2.
Cano added a two-run double in the seventh to give him five RBIs on the night, and put the Yankees up, 8-4.
Brian Bruney got the win, relieving Lidle with no outs in the fifth and a runner on first. He got six straight outs to keep the Yankees ahead, 6-4, going into the seventh. Mike Myers and Scott Proctor handled the seventh and eighth, and Kyle Farnsworth closed out the ninth, keeping the Rays scoreless over the final four innings.
The Yankees have won five straight games and have widdled their magic number down to seven with a Boston loss. They are 11 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the American League East.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 10:05 PM 0 Heckles

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Welcome Back Matsui

Godzilla is back.

Four months and one day after fracturing his left wrist, Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui was listed as the Yankees' designated hitter and No. 8 hitter for Tuesday's game.

And while the Yankees have built a record that's 30 games over .500 without him, they were sure happy to see him in uniform and preparing for the Devil Rays, not just drills.

"I'm happy he's back; it'll make us deeper," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "No question, you can never have too much talent."

Matsui fractured his wrist on May 11, diving for a line drive hit by Boston's Mark Loretta. The injury snapped his 1,768 consecutive games played streak that began in Yomiuri in Matsui's native Japan and covered four seasons with the Yankees.

Now Matsui is starting from square one. Asked if he thought he would be nervous, Matsui said he wasn't sure. Even he said he's curious to see how he's going to do.

"I'm very excited," Matsui said through an interpreter. "I've been preparing for four months for this day so I think I'm ready. ... I was really waiting for that moment [to put on the uniform]. So I'm just really happy."

Matsui went 3-for-11 (.273) with one double, one RBI, one run scored, six walks and two strikeouts in four rehab starts with Double-A Trenton. Matsui was hitting .261 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 32 games before suffering the injury.

The 32-year-old Matsui had never experienced a major injury before in his career so it's still unknown how he'll bounce back. It was unknown if Matsui was even going to be able to return at all this season.

"You can never judge because he's never gone through anything like this before," Torre said. "But you know one thing, if discipline had anything to do with it, he had a heck of chance. I started believing for a while that he was going to be back in August just hearing how he was talking about it."

Matsui underwent surgery 12 hours after sustaining the injury and immediately went to work rehabbing it. He apologized to his teammates for not being able to help the team.

"I felt like -- as a starter -- starters have a responsibility," Matsui said. "Obviously, it wasn't what I caused; it was an accident. But as a starter, the team depends on you to be out there. The fact [was] that I wasn't going to be able to be [a] strength [for] the team; I felt bad."

Matsui first proclaimed that his goal would be to come back some time this season. He later targeted a Sept. 1 return date, but some soreness in the wrist pushed batting practice up a bit.

He said doesn't feel any pain when swinging, but ices his wrist for precautionary reasons.
Matsui was vigilant about his rehabbing. He would run on the Yankees outfield among the sprinklers after games and even during rain, when the throng of Japanese media, along with everyone else, had retreated inside.

He did anything he could -- having other people catch for him while he threw with his right hand -- and just practicing his swing with a miniature bat about a month ago.

"I wasn't really paying attention to coming back this season or next season," Matsui said. "I was just focused on making sure this injury is healed and that's really what preoccupied my mind. I'm just really happy to come back as early [as I am] this season."

Now the question will be where Matsui fits into what is becoming a crowded Yankees outfield. With Gary Sheffield possibly returning later this week and Melky Cabrera having done a solid job in his stead, the Yankees don't yet have a timetable of when Matsui will be able to reclaim his spot in left field.

Matsui said he feels he is ready to play the field and Torre said he wants to talk more with general manager Brian Cashman before making a decision to put Matsui in the outfield. But he did say he wouldn't be afraid to do so if he felt Matsui was healthy enough.

As far as Matsui's contribution at the plate, Torre had more answers for that.

"I don't think it's going to take him very long to get his stroke back," Torre said. "It's just a matter of we'll see when he's ready to hit in the middle [of the lineup]."

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:28 PM 0 Heckles

Everyone's Hero Review

Mix baseball, the Yankees' mystique, some talented Hollywood veterans and the spirit of the late Christopher and Dana Reeve, and you come up with an entertaining film called "Everyone's Hero" that both parents and their children will love.
The film tells the story of Yankee Irving, a 10-year old boy who learns about life and believing in himself while on a cross-country adventure to retrieve Babe Ruth's favorite bat from a crooked former pitcher during the 1932 World Series. It was originally developed and directed by Christopher Reeve before his death in 2004. His wife Dana stayed on as executive producer of the film and provided the voice of Yankee's mom, Emily, before her death this past March of lung cancer.

"Their spirit is all through this," said Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated actor William H. Macy, who provided the voice of Lefty, the corrupt ex-ballplayer who steals the Babe's bat to try to get back into baseball. "Chris developed the script and Dana acts in the thing, and I think all of us involved are very pleased that we could get this thing to the big screen."

Because of Reeve's involvement, a plethora of Hollywood heavyweights -- including Whoopi Goldberg, Brian Dennehy, Mandy Patinkin, Forest Whitaker, Robert Wagner and Rob Reiner -- and current Yankees manager Joe Torre all lent their vocal talents to the project.

"I was at a party that Billy Crystal threw, and Dana Reeve was there," said Torre, who does the voice of the Yankees manager in the film. "She asked if I'd be interested, and, without hesitation, I said yes. Anything her and Chris were doing was certainly going to be a very upbeat, very classy, very worthwhile doing, and I'm so glad they gave me the opportunity to do it."

Doing the voice of the Yankees manager should have been a walk in the park for Torre, who played himself in the 1990 comedy "Taking Care of Business" and also had a small part in Crystal's 2002 comedy "Analyze That." But Torre says that being more animated took a little extra effort on his part.

"I do the voice of the Yankee manager, but I do it like this, and they obviously wanted a little more animation and it was fun," said Torre. "They had to poke me a little bit just to get the over-the-top type thing out of me. I did hear a little bit of it while I was doing it in New York. My son was in the booth listening with some of his friends and it was exciting for me, because when you see actors do these animated movies and seeing how much fun they have doing them, just from the sounds, I was looking forward to it from the moment they asked me."

"Not every ballplayer can act and Joe does a great job," said actor/director Reiner, who provides the voice of Screwie, Yankee's traveling companion and a talking baseball looking for one more moment in the baseball sun. "He's got a lot of charisma, a lot of personality, and not everyone can do that and he pulls it off."

"That certainly makes me feel wonderful, not only good," said Torre of Reiner's compliment. "Because this was new water for me. I wasn't nervous at all, and it didn't take very long. I thought the concept and movie sounded like a lot of fun, and I look forward to seeing it."

Another central character in the film is Babe Ruth, the Yankees legend who was larger than life during his heyday in the 1920s and '30s before growing to mythical proportions over the years.

"I think for most people, those who love baseball and those who don't know a thing about baseball, the one thing they know is Babe Ruth," said Reiner, who grew up in New York as a Giants fan and later changed his allegiance to the Dodgers when his hero, Willie Mays, was traded to the Mets in 1972. "Everybody knows who Babe Ruth is, they know the Yankees and that they've won all those World Series, so I think it works on a broader scale for everybody that it's Babe Ruth and the Yankees featured in the film."

"Babe made his mark with the Yankees, especially with Yankee Stadium being called 'The House That Ruth Built,'" said Torre, who has managed the Yankees to six pennants and four world championships. "He really saved baseball at the time, it was a major stride. I think it was only natural to have Babe Ruth be a part of this thing because of the legacy that he carries and the fact that he wore the Yankee pinstripes for so many years. He was a big part of that."

"Everyone's Hero" is about having the determination to see something through to the end. The courage that Yankee Irving shows in the film and the courage that the Reeves showed in real life resonate in those who helped bring this film to a wider audience."

"I hope they get out of it what this film meant to Chris and Dana Reeve," said Reiner, who was friends with the couple. "This is about never giving up, and if anybody ever epitomized that, it was Chris in the way he lived his life. It's about never giving up, keep swinging and good things will eventually happen."

"When I do my job as a manager, the one thing I try to get across to my guys is it may not always come easy, so you have to keep trying," said Torre. "This movie is about keep trying, and this will certainly be a part of Chris and Dana's legacy."

"Everyone's Hero" is produced by IDT Entertainment released by 20th Century Fox. The film opens nationwide Friday.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:00 PM 0 Heckles

Magic Number: 10

The ball was hit hard into left field, but it looked like Fernando Tatis would be able to make the play to end the top half of the seventh inning. But instead, Tatis -- who was making just his third career start in the outfield -- misjudged and misplayed Robinson Cano's liner. Tatis leaped and missed the ball, allowing three runners to score, which gave the Yankees the lead.
"I just started running ... I didn't see what was happening in left field," said Cano, who had already hit the ball hard twice earlier in the game with nothing to show for it. "I was thinking, 'It's my time to get a hit right here.'"

It was, and Cano's two-out, bases-clearing double came in the midst of a six-run inning, which sealed the Yankees third straight victory and put the team 30 games over .500 for the first time this season. New York won, 9-6, Monday night on the five-year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, finishing with a 5-2 mark on the team's seven-game road trip.

Eight of the first nine Yankees batters reached base in the seventh against 23-year-old reliever Jim Hoey, who hit two batters in the inning. Bobby Abreu drove home the first run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to center field. With two outs, Alex Rodriguez followed with an opposite-field single through the right side of the infield, and then Jorge Posada was hit by a pitch to set the stage for Cano's double.

"I thought it was a catchable ball," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "[Tatis] looked like he got turned around in the opposite direction and couldn't get back in time. He was [right] there, but he got turned around and couldn't make the adjustment back."

All nine of New York's starters reached base, with seven collecting at least one base hit. The three RBIs for Cano gave him 32 in 33 games since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 8. Derek Jeter's first-inning single extended his hitting streak to a career-high 21 games, the longest by a Yankee since 1993.

Rodriguez added a solo homer over the right-field scoreboard in the ninth inning. Two of A-Rod's three hits were to the opposite field, something he said has been a sign throughout his career that he's hitting well.

The Yankees have scored at least eight runs in three of their last five games, and own the American League's best record (86-56). With Monday's win, the Yankees extended their division lead to a season-best 10 1/2 games over Boston, and reduced their magic number to clinch the AL East to 10.

"We stay at 30 over now, we have nowhere to go but the postseason," manager Joe Torre said.

The victory was number 1,068 for Torre as manager of the Yankees, which put him past Miller Huggins for third on New York's all-time list.

"Any time you're in the company of [Casey] Stengel, [Joe] McCarthy and Huggins, it's pretty special," Torre added.

The Yankees held an early two-run advantage, but Baltimore scored five times in the middle innings off starter Randy Johnson, collecting nine total hits off the former Cy Young Award winner. For the fourth time in his last five starts, Johnson gave up at least five runs, and he was unable to pitch more than six innings for the first time since Aug. 9.

"Velocity-wise, I think I had my best stuff today," Johnson said. "As the game progressed, I didn't have anything to go off of."

Johnson was the beneficiary of the seventh-inning outburst, which allowed him to pick up his third straight victory and improve to 17-10 on the season, tying him with teammate Chien-Ming Wang and Chicago's Jon Garland for the second-most wins in the league. Johnson has won 17 games in each of the last two seasons, and has a chance to pick up 20 victories for the fourth time in his career.

"I'm very fortunate the offense picked me up," Johnson said. "I got away with one today, and I'm grateful. ... I can't expect to win a postseason game giving up five runs."

Johnson has won seven straight decisions against Baltimore, and is 5-0 with a 3.48 ERA in eight starts versus the Orioles since joining the Yankees in 2005. New York's win clinched the season series over Baltimore, something the Yankees have done each year since 1998.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:06 AM 1 Heckles

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Wang's 17th Knocks Out O's

Chien-Ming Wang is confident when he takes the mound, but even the 26-year-old never believed he would have as much success in 2006 as he has had. Wang became the Majors' second 17-game winner, joining Minnesota's Johan Santana for the league lead by leading the Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
Wang (17-5) held Baltimore to one run on eight hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out one batter without issuing a walk.

"I thought he was all right, but this good?" Johnny Damon said. "You expect him to go out and win 13 or 14 games in a good year, but he's stepped up to the forefront. Hopefully, he'll get some Cy Young considerations. He should finish up top."

Left-hander Adam Loewen (5-5) continued to baffle the Yankees, holding them to two runs over seven innings. But Wang outdid his counterpart, winning his fourth consecutive decision and ninth in the last 10.

"I don't know how you can't consider this guy as a Cy Young," Kevin Millar said of Wang. "I know that he doesn't have the strikeouts and all that baloney, but he has the wins, he's got the ERA and he throws bowling balls at the plate."

"I've said that it's not fair to keep counting on him the way we do," manager Joe Torre said. "But it's hard not to, as consistent as he's been for us."

Derek Jeter went 2-for-4, as his RBI single in the eighth accounted for what would turn out to be the game-winning run. Jeter has now hit in a career-high 19 consecutive games, the first Yankee to reach that number since Bernie Williams in August 2002.

"I don't really get caught up in that," Jeter said. "We're just trying to win games."
The Yankees dropped their magic number to clinch a ninth straight American League East title to 12.

Loewen and Wang countered each other with one zero after another on the scoreboard, carrying the scoreless game into the fifth.

New York finally broke through against Loewen in the fifth, as Kevin Thompson walked and Nick Green singled, putting runners at first and second. Damon blooped a single to score Thompson, then Melky Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Green to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Wang allowed a pair of singles in the bottom of the inning, but he escaped unharmed when Melvin Mora grounded out to Green at third base for the third out. Before the game, Wang and catcher Jorge Posada talked about changing speeds a little more, resulting in more sliders and changeups from the pitcher.

"Hitters had only seen the sinker and inside fastball," Wang said. "The slider is another pitch."
Loewen settled in after his one rocky inning, retiring six of the next seven batters. He left the game after seven innings, charged with two runs on six hits and two walks. Loewen struck out six batters.

"I thought we had some better at-bats against him," Torre said of Loewen. "At least we made him work a little harder. He still got late in the game. He's pretty impressive."

The Orioles cut the lead to one in the seventh, after Millar started the inning with a leadoff double and Brandon Fahey singled him in with two outs.

"When they score off him, he goes right back and makes better pitches," Torre said. "He's a very special youngster with a great deal of poise."

Wang came back out for the eighth, retiring Mora before turning the ball over to Mike Myers. The lefty got Nick Markakis to pop out before handing the ball off to Scott Proctor, who retired Miguel Tejada.

With Mariano Rivera still nursing a mild muscle strain in his right forearm, Kyle Farnsworth closed out the game in the ninth, earning his third save of the season despite giving up a solo homer to Millar.

After the game, Wang said he never expected to win 17 games this season, let alone with four starts remaining in September. When asked if he thinks he should be included in the Cy Young race, Wang modestly said, "No," but one of his opponents on Saturday believes otherwise.

"We look for strikeouts, we look for dominating pitchers, we look for dominating strikeout pitchers," Millar said. "He consistently throws strikes, he consistently pounds the strike zone and he consistently gets ground balls. And he's got wins; what is he, 17-5? You can't overlook that. This guy is as dominating as there is going right now on the mound."

With a loss, the Orioles have been officially eliminated from the playoffs entering the day with an elimination number of one.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 12:24 AM 0 Heckles

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A-Rod Takes Weekly Honors

So much for that slump.

Alex Rodriguez ended his much-publicized, much-maligned horrors at the plate the only way an MVP knows how -- by playing like one.

The Yankees third baseman ended a 4-for-35 (.114) drought with a home run barrage that earned him the American League Player of the Week Award on Tuesday.

Rodriguez hit .375 with five home runs and 11 RBIs to lead the Yankees to series victories over the Tigers and Twins, top competition from the AL Central. The 2005 AL MVP had a slugging percentage of 1.042 last week and hit four home runs against the Twins in the team's weekend series.

"He just seems a whole lot more comfortable," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I'm pleased, and obviously everybody else is, too. He makes a huge difference."

After hearing boos from Yankees fans as far away as Anaheim, the 31-year-old finally put a stop to a seemingly never-ending run of strikeouts. Rodriguez whiffed on 16 occasions during his rut, including 10 times in 15 at-bats against the Angels.

That all came to a halt, though, with a hit that didn't come close to clearing the fences.
Rodriguez blooped a two-out single on Thursday against the Tigers that tied the score and kicked off his monster week.

"It got me started," he said. "I was so happy to get that ball to land; I was like a kid in a candy store."

After that looping single, the third baseman continued to indulge his taste buds.

Rodriguez hit a home run later in the series finale against the Tigers and received a much-needed curtain call from fans at Yankee Stadium. He was brought out a day later when he hit the second of two home runs against the Twins and once more on Sunday after finishing a two-home run, five-RBI performance.

The power binge helped Rodriguez reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the ninth straight season.

"I've always said you want to contribute to winning, and I've been doing that lately," Rodriguez said. "I'm just feeling more comfortable, seeing the ball better. Hits make you relax."

And much of Rodriguez's recent success can allow Yankees supporters to relax all September as the club has opened a nine-game lead over the Red Sox, the second-largest gap in all of baseball.
The honor is the 10th time Rodriguez has been named the American League Player of the Week, but it is his first such award this season.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was also considered for the distinction. He posted a .476 batting average with three doubles and three RBIs during the week.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 9:48 PM 0 Heckles

New McFarlane Arrivals

In just a few month, and Todd McFarlane will be releasing a different version of a former Yankee.
In November, Roger Clemens will be released to the public in a stare-you-down pose.

Also, in 2007, second baseman Robinson Cano will also be released along with a rumored three-pack featuring Bobby Abreu.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 7:48 PM 0 Heckles

Sunday, September 03, 2006

AL Batting Title Race

While Derek Jeter says he's not paying attention to the American League batting title race, the matchup between Jeter and Minnesota's Joe Mauer has been hot news around Yankee Stadium.
The two hitters entered the series with 10 points separating their season averages, but that has been trimmed to seven over the past two games.

Jeter is 9-for-17 on the homestand -- 4-for-7 in the series against the Twins -- and has a season-high 13-game hit streak. He is now hitting .343 on the season.

Mauer is 2-for-5 against the Yankees and is at .350, the same average with which he entered the series. While Jeter's average has been climbing, Mauer's has fallen significantly over the past two months. He was hitting .392 as of July 1.

But Yankees manager Joe Torre isn't counting Mauer out of the title.

"He's a big, strong kid, and I think it's gone far beyond the fact that, 'Oh, wait until the dog days come,' because the dog days have come and gone and this kid is still standing tall," Torre said, adding that being a catcher makes Mauer's season more impressive.

Mauer said playing shortstop can also be a demanding position. Mauer was surprised the batting title was the hot topic when the Twins are in a playoff run, but said he can't imagine what it's like for Jeter.

"He's doing it on a bigger scale, media wise," Mauer said. "From everything I've seen -- and I got to play with him on his team in Pittsburgh [for the All-Star game] -- he's everything as advertised. He handles everything really well."

While Jeter says the batting title isn't on his mind, Torre said he believes Jeter would care more about winning AL MVP.

"I think Derek would appreciate that more than a batting title, because it's connected to the team and that's what he's about," Torre said.

Jeter is certainly a candidate for the award, as is Boston's David Ortiz, who Torre thought was the other player with the best bid. Johnny Damon, who played with Ortiz in Boston, said he felt Jeter deserves the award.

"I always appreciated what Derek did, even from afar [while with Boston]," Damon said. "On any given day, he can go out and beat you, and it doesn't have to be the long ball. It can be a number of things."

While Ortiz's 47 homers, 121 RBIs and clutch hits make him a more than legitimate MVP contender, Jeter's consistency is what Torre and his teammates laud.

That consistency reached a new high Sunday as Jeter tied legendary Yankee Phil Rizzuto for most games played at the shortstop in franchise history, with 1,647.

"The fact of what this youngster has done in a short period of time is pretty remarkable," Torre said. "His consistency has been unparalleled, in my mind, especially from age 20 right through to the present time."

"I think it just means I've been here for a long time," Jeter said with a laugh. "It's flying by, but then it does seem like it's not flying by. So it's a little bit of both."

Coming up: The Yankees will hit the road to open a three-game series with the Royals on Monday. Chien-Ming Wang will face Kansas City's Luke Hudson in the 8:10 p.m. ET start.

You can check on the race for the title on the top of the left sidebar.

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BallHype: hype it up! Posted by Steve Kenul at 8:42 PM 1 Heckles


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