The good news for the Yankees Saturday was evident. Marcus Thames continued to hit for power – he’s hit 7 HR’s in his last 9 starts, and 11 HR’s for the season. Joba Chamberlain pitched out of a jam in the 7th inning to get the win, and the bullpen was very good yet again. In fact, they might just have settled on a Kerry Wood/Mariano Rivera 8th and 9th tandem for good – Wood hasn’t given up a run since August 3rd.
Unfortunately for Yankees fans, the bad was just as evident on this afternoon in the Bronx. Javy Vazquez proved ineffective as a starter once again. In his first start since August 21st, Vazquez lasted only 4.2 innings, as his ERA crept back up over 5 once again. On this afternoon, Vazquez was plagued by some untimely wildness – he walked 4, and threw only 50 strikes among his 88 pitches – and 2 long balls within 4 batters in the 2nd inning. In some strange symmetry to yesterday’s win, for the second consecutive day, Joe Girardi pulled a starter who led 5-3 in the fifth and was one out shy of qualifying for a win. In both cases, Lyle Overbay was coming up with two runners on. Yesterday was rookie Ivan Nova – more acceptable than the high-priced veteran Vazquez putting his manager in that predicament today.
It may just be time for Girardi and the Yanks to admit the Vazquez-as-starter experiment is finished for this season. When he starts games, Vazquez is 8-9 with an ERA over 5, as opposed to a 2-0 mark and 1.93 ERA when he comes out of the pen.
So, the news out of the morning’s simulated game could not have come at a better time for the Bombers. Andy Pettitte threw 50 pitches in a simulated game that included the rehabbing Alex Rodriguez as well. Pettitte said he didn’t go “all out” in the simulated game until his 3rd inning, but he was happy with the results nonetheless. “I didn’t feel anything; [I] didn’t have any problems at all,” Pettitte said. “It was great — a step in the right direction.” Pettitte’s progress will depend on how he feels Sunday. Barring any setbacks, he could be on track to throw on Wednesday – which would be great, except for the fact that the Yankees top 3 minor league teams are in their respective playoffs, and their schedules are still up in the air. What is known about the schedules, is that Double-A Trenton is the only one of the 3 scheduled to host their 1st two postseason games. So, what I’m saying is get your Trenton Thunder playoff tickets, and you could see Andy Pettitte pitching in a September playoff game. Sure, Trenton’s not all that nice in September (or any time for that matter), but wouldn’t it be worth fighting through that to watch the veteran lefty try to win a postseason game for the Thunder? Talk about a strange situation for Trenton manager Tony Franklin to be in.
Odds and Ends:
– The Yanks are 6-0 to start their current 10-game homestand. They haven’t had an undefeated homestand of more than 2 games, since they went 6-0 against the A’s and Twins from July 18-23 2008.
– Thames was in a 1-for-14 slump when he hit his HR