Saturday, July 11, 2009

Get That Monkey!

I normally don't advocate these types of actions, but something has to be done.

The Yankees have never done well in Anaheim and this just can't continue.

Friday, Joba Chamberlain blew a four-run lead, continuing his miserable stretch of poor starts, the defense committed two errors, including Derek Jeter's Luis Castillo impersonation, and the Yankees lost 10-6 to the Los Angles Angles of Anaheim, California, USA, Western Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Milky Way Galaxy (phew!), to fall a game behind the Red Sox in the AL East.

The Yankees went 2-8 at Anaheim last year, are 5-15 there in the last five years and are 38-47 there since 2000.

That is awful and something must be done!

So here's what I propose: We kidnap the Angels beloved Rally Monkey and hold it for ransom.

You know, that cute little furry creature that gets Angels fans all hot and bothered. (And here I though Californians were sophisticated. Who knew? Maybe it's just an Anaheim thing.)

Now Dave, Red Sox Nation, Anaheim hasn't exactly been a picnic for you guys either, so you're welcome to join us as we strip the Angels of their mojo.

Here's what we do (cue the Mission Impossible music): We fly out to California, break into the monkey's keeper's place, grab the little fella and bring him back to New York.

No harm will come the money. It's just and animal and animal cruelty is just wrong. We'll treat it very well -- so well that it might not even want to return to Cali.

But we keep him until our demands are fully met:

  1. Anaheim Stadium is to be imploded. I know the city spent a ton of money on the place and California is a financial disaster, but this is a house of horrors and it has to be razed. That ballfield can't be left standing.

  2. The Angels have to change their stupid name. Pick a city. Anaheim is a major city 26 miles from Los Angeles. It's not like the Meadowlands, where the Giants and Jets play, which is in a swamp in New Jersey, 8 miles from New York. Heck you can even see Manhattan from the top of Giants Stadium. Pick Los Angeles or Anaheim or San Jose, for all I care. Just pick one.

  3. Once you pick a name, that is where you are to build your new park.

Not unreasonable demands, but enough to end this misery because no matter how well the Yankees are playing, whenever they arrive in Anaheim, they turn into, well, the 1962 Mets.

Friday night was a perfect example.

The Yankees came into this game having won 13 of 15 and eight in a row on the road. They were in a stretch of dominance in which they were getting strong pitching, timely hitting and very good defense.

And for a little while, it looked like the Anaheim Curse would be lifted.

The Yankees jumped out to a 3-0 lead as Jeter (4-for-5) singled and Johnny Damon walked to begin the game. After Mark Teixeira grounded into a forceout, Alex Rodriguez doubled to bring in one run and Nick Swisher singled to bring in two more.

Chamberlain then came out dealing in the bottom half, retiring the side on nine pitches, seven strikes. He struck out one and was throwing in the mid-90s. He worked fast and aggressively, attacking the strike zone. It was reminiscent of the game in Cleveland.

The Yankees even tacked on another run in the second on Damon's RBI single after Jose Molina and Jeter singled with one out.

And then the Yankees remembered they were in Anaheim.

Juan Rivera led off the second with a single and Joba reverted to his form from his previous start -- the 3-2/3, eight-run disaster. He stopped working fast and nibbled at the strike zone as his velocity dropped a couple of mph.

He allowed just an RBI single to Gary Matthews Jr., but needed 29 pitches to get out of the inning, throwing only 16 strikes.

The Yankees got a run back when A-Rod crushed a homer, and you had to feel that if Joba could just get into the sixth, the Yankees might actually win this game.

But no, the first-inning form was long gone. Joba continued to work tentatively and allowed runners in the third and fourth. In the fifth he completely unraveled, done in by an error.

Chone Figgins led off with with a single and stole second. After Macier Izturis fouled out, Bobby Abreu singled in Figgins to make it 5-2. Then, after Abreu stole second, A-Rod fielded a grounder from Rivera and threw wide of first to put runners on the corners.

Joba couldn't pick up his team, though, serving up a hanging curve on his first pitch to Kendry Morales, who deposited it over the wall in center to tie the score.

And after Mike Napoli doubled, Joe Girardi had seen enough and turned the ball over the Mark Melancon, who finished the inning without allowing anymore damage.

Joba's line was awful: 4-1/3 innings, 9 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned, 1 walk and 4 Ks. He threw 58 of 94 pitches for strikes.

He ended up with yet another no-decision and his 10 decisions (7-3) over his first 29 starts are the fewest in major league history.

Since June 1, he has just one win and a 5.05 ERA. Over his last seven starts, covering 35-2/3 innings, he's allowed 27 runs, 20 earned, on 47 hits five homers and 15 walks. He struck out 27 and is averaging 19 pitches per innings.

Joba and the Yankees believe he's a starter, and we all expect he's going to have some growing pains, but this is not acceptable. This is Joba's chance to prove he can be a legit major league starter and right now, he just doesn't look the part.

I'm not saying to move him back to the bullpen. It's a long season and everyone has ups and downs. But my position has always been to wait and see. Let him prove himself one way or the other. Right now, it looks like he's not meant to be a starter. But that can change. He needs to finish out the season before any final determinations should be made.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Melancon didn't fare much better in his return to the majors after being called up earlier in the day.

Erick Aybar led off the sixth with a single and scored on Figgins' triple. Abreu brought in Figgins witha one-out single and the Angeles had a 7-5 lead.

The Yankees tried to get back in it as Teixeira led off the seventh with a single and scored on two-out singles by Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera. Jorge Posada then pinch hit for Cody Ransom, who started the game a short with Jeter at DH, and walked to load the bases. Girardi then sent up Hideki Matsui for Molina to try to get the lead back, but Matsui couldn't get the job done, lofting a deep fly to right for the final out.

Posada remained in the game as the catcher and Jeter moved to short, forcing the pitcher into the lineup. Turns out Jeter needed the entire game at DH.

After Morales grounded out to lead off the bottom half of the inning, Napoli hit a high pop to short that Jeter settled under, but dropped despite using two hands. We rarely see that from Jeter, but this is Anaheim, and weird things happen to the Yankees in Anaheim.

Melancon then got Matthews to ground out to first for the second out and Giradi decided to bring in Brian Bruney. Bad move.

Bruney walked Mike Mathis and then served up homer to Aybar to make it 10-6. He got out of it when Figgins hit a pop foul and stumbled into Posada, forcing Posada to lose his glove. Posada made the catch anyway.

So the Yankees lost a game in which they had lead of 4-0 and 5-0, Jeter had four hits and A-Rod homered.

Strange and bad things happen in Anaheim and it's time to make them stop.

Let's go get that monkey.

Runners In Scoring Position
4-for-11 (.364)
213-for-806 (.264)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
147-for-534 (.275)
Vs. Red Sox
11-for-82 (.134)

Up Next
Saturday at Angels, 4:05 p.m., Fox
Andy Pettitte (8-4, 4.55 ERA) vs. Jered Weaver (9-3, 3.15)

The Yankees need the good Andy today. They need him to go at least seven and deliver a quality start so this bullpen can catch a break.

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