Saturday, September 04, 2004

Kevin Brown is a(n) ______ 

The Yankees lost the opening game of their series against the Orioles last night by a score of 3-1 despite a strong effort from starting pitcher Kevin Brown, who worked six full allowing three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out seven and throwing 62 percent of a mere 81 pitches for strikes. And why was Brown pulled after a mere 81 pitches? Well, I'll let him explain:
"Getting hurt a couple of times during the course of the game [he "tweaked" his knee covering first in the fifth and got hit on the right forearm by a batted ball in the sixth], the frustration of the way things have gone this year, getting sick, getting hurt, I let it boil over and I did something stupid."

And what, prey tell, was that stupid thing that Kevin Brown did? He hauled off and punched a wall in the Yankee clubhouse and broke his left hand . . . in the middle of a start . . . in the middle of a penant race. Unreal.

The official response from Joe Torre: "We're obviously not very happy about it. . . . It's terribly unexpected, uncalled for and unnecessary." And from Brian Cashman: "It's very disappointing. . . . It's a major issue now that we have to deal with which we shouldn't be dealing with. We're disappointed, concerned and it's a problem." Jorge Posada was so teed off after the game that he refused to answer questions about the injury. One could practically see the steam coming out of his ears.

There are no reports yet as to what the injury will mean for Brown's participation in the stretch run, or even the postseason, but Fred Hickman reported on YES that the break occured in the third and fifth metacarpal bones. Meanwhile, Brown has said that he intends to splint the hand and make his next start. Frankly, I think that's the least he could do, though I just prey that a pivitol game isn't decided by a comebacker or a play in which Brown has to cover first.

To review: Kevin Brown piched a solid game during which he broke his non-pitching hand out of frustration. [insert explatives here]

In other injury news, the Daily News reported on Friday that the benign tumor which Jason Giambi has been fighting is located in his pituitary gland. What this means for Giambi medically I have no idea, although his doctors have reaffirmed that his condition is not life-threatening. What I do know is that Jason's least favorite word is involved in two ways. The reason the news leaked out is because his treament involves the use of corticosteroids, which, like cortisone, are non-performance enhancing (which is a blurry line to begin with, but we'll not go there now), but unlike cortisone (at least to my understanding) they would return a positive result in MLB's drug testing. Thus, Giambi and the Yankees needed to clear the use of the drug with Major League Baseball. Somewhere in there a leek sprung. The second way that this involves the s-word is that pituitary tumors have been "anecdotally" linked to steroid use. One imagines this is why Giambi refused to divulge the location of the tumor in the first place.

All of this means very little to the Yankees at this moment. Giambi still has a tumor and is still working his way back to the team and the odds of him contributing again this year remain up in the air. What it does do is put some fuel on the fire of rumors that have surrounded him, which can only make the ordeal that he's gone through over the past two seasons--from the staph infection, to the knee surgery, to BALCO, giardia, and now the tumor and the rumor--that much more difficult. One can only hope that there's a happy ending in this for him somewhere, as doubtful as that may seem. [thanks to Will Carroll for the pituitary tumor link]

To follow up my call-up speculation from Wednesday, Karsay was indeed activated and Heredia and Navarro were indeed promoted. Karsay pitched the ninth on Thursday, giving up a home run to Victor Martinez on the first major league pitch he's thrown since the 2002 ALDS, but then retired the side in order, striking out two, throwing 12 of 17 pitches for strikes. Heredia, who was the first man brought in to replace Brown last night, walked the only two men he faced in his first outing, recording just two strikes, one of them on a foul ball.

Taking a step back, the Yankees have won all three of their series since being swept by the Angels, going 7-3 in those three series. That's .700 ball. Unfortunately, the Red Sox simply refuse to lose. They extended their winning streak to ten games with a 2-0 victory against Texas last night. With that they pulled another game closer to the Yankees. They now stand just 2 1/2 back, having won a mind-boggling 16 of their last 17 games.

And Kevin Brown breaks his #@$&ing hand.

posted by Cliff at 1:30 AM

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


The Yankees gave the Blue Jays the business on Saturday. They scored nine runs in the ninth off Dave Maurer (2 hits, 2 walks, 0 outs--he has since been returned to triple-A) and Kerry Ligtenberg (2 outs, 6 hits including a Ruben Sierra grand slam and solo shots by Tony Clark and Alex Rodriguez), forcing the Jays to turn to infielder Frank Menechino to get the final out of the inning (a Sierra line drive to short following a pair of hits). As the Yankees led 9-6 entering the inning, the outburst had no effect on the game's outcome. Meanwhile, Gary Sheffield turned an ankle making an awkward slide into third on a triple that was erroneously ruled a double after Sheffield, who reached third safely, fell off the base because of the injury and was tagged out.

Last night, the Indians gave the Yankees the business. Cleveland handed the Yankees the worst shutout loss in American League history, tying a modern major league record by defeating them 22-0. Javier Vazquez allowed five runs and two walks in just an inning and a third, leaving the game down 5-0 with men on the corners. Tanyon Sturtze gave up a sac fly for the sixth run, then three more runs in third and another 3-spot in the fifth. C.J. Nitkowski entered the fifth down 12-0 with one out and a man on first and proceeded to give up three more runs before ending the inning. He then yielded the Indians 16th run in the sixth before yielding to Esteban Loaiza. Loaiza worked two scoreless innings before giving up six more runs in the ninth on a pair of 3-run homers by Jody Gerut and Victor Martinez, forcing Joe Torre to get Paul Quantrill up in the bullpen before Loaiza was able to record the final out. The Yanks managed just five hits and one walk to counter Cleveland's 31 baserunners.

For all of the noise, those two games cancel each other out.

The problem is that the Red Sox have been giving every one the business. The Sox just wrapped up a 21-7 August, good for a .750 winning percentage (and a full game better than the Yankees' 19-7 June). They've won 13 of their last 14 and their last 7 straight. They now trail the Yankees by just 3 1/2 games. Last night was the first of nine straight games the Sox will play against their three Wild Card rivals while the Yanks face the Indians, Orioles and Devil Rays. Despite falling to Curt Schilling and company, the Angels scored six runs in the final two frames against the Sox last night. That's more runs than the Sox had allowed in all but three other games in the month of August. I'm still optimistic.

For their part, the Yankees played 16-12 ball in August, which exactly matches their record for July. At .571, that puts them below their aggregate winning percentage (now .612), but that 41-point dip in their August performance is typical of the Yankees for three years running (before which they had more extreme swoons). Last year, the Red Sox got within a game and a half of the Yankees after giving them the business to the tune of a combined 20-3 in the two opening games of their final regular-season face-off in the Bronx in early September. The Yankees still won the division by six games.

Meanwhile, some roster business:

With Sheffield out on Sunday and questionable last night (he DHed, going 1 for 3 with a double, and reportedly feels no lingering effects from his turned ankle), the Yankees called up Bubba Crosby for some outfield insurance, demoting Scott Proctor to make room. The move is fairly meaningless, of course, because rosters expand today, allowing the Yankees to bring Proctor back up, along with sundry other cast-offs. Word has is that Steve Karsay and Felix "The Run Fairy" Heredia will be added to the roster today, as will catching prospect Dioner Navarro. Infielders Andy Phillips and Robinson Cano, outfielder Shane Spencer, and pitchers Brad Halsey, Bret Prinz and Juan Padilla are expected to be among those also added to the major league roster in the coming days. Colter Bean (2.37 ERA, 79.2 IP, 104 K, 22 BB, 8 HR for Columbus) remains unacknowledged.

Karsay, currently on the 60-day DL, and Navarro will require space on the Yankees 40-man roster (Mike Vento, Jason Anderson, I'm looking at you), as would Shane Spencer, who signed a minor league deal with the Yanks on August 17 after being designated for assignment by the Mets earlier in the month.

And, in case you missed it, Esteban Loaiza was demoted to the bullpen following his start against Toronto on Friday. His line for that start: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 0 K, 0 HR, 58 percent of 79 pitches for strikes. Loaiza started five games for the Yankees, posting a record of 0-2. The Yankees won all three of his non decisions. As for my 6-inning/5-run theory, Loaiza only made it through six innings in his first two Yankee starts, allowing five runs in both. The Yankees won the first. Loaiza lost the second. In his five Yankee starts, Loaiza posted this line: 7.30 ERA, 24.2 IP, 37 H, 16 K, 13 BB, 6 HR. Jose Contreras has made six starts for the White Sox, posting a 4-1 record, the Sox winning his one no-decision, a game in which El Titan allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out nine in eight innings pitched. In his six starts with Chicago, Contreras has posted this line: 3.52 ERA, 38.1 IP, 32 H, 36 K, 19 BB, 3 HR. With all of that in mind, it is best to remember that the Contreras trade was a salary dump. Yankee fans will only be allowed to give Brian Cashman the business if he fails to sign a young starter such as Matt Clement or Carl Pavano this offseason.

posted by Cliff at 1:30 AM

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