Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shove Jack Back In The Cuckoo's Nest

I'm banning Jack Nicholson from Yankee Stadium ... and he can take that guy who was masquerading as CC Sabathia with him.

Not that I have the power to ban Jack from the Stadium or that Hank and Hal Hess ... err, Steinbrenner would refuse his money to sit in the outrageously expensive seats, but still ...

How else do you explain such a miserable ending to the Yankees' seven-game winning streak?*

Sabathia allowed six runs on a season-high 10 hits in 5-2/3 innings as the Yankees lost to the Mariners 8-4 Thursday, falling 3 games behind the idle Red Sox in the AL East. The Mariners snapped a 10-game losing streak in New York against the Yankees, dating to Sept. 3, 2007.

It was a poor effort for the Yankees all the way around. Poor pitching, poor hitting, poor fielding.

Poor Jack.

There he was, sitting behind the plate, mugging for the cameras with his white Yankees hat with white, interlocking N-Y, trying to look cool and show he's truly a Yankees fan.

Only problem for the L.A. Fakers fan is that we're not buying it. We're not buying that he bleeds Pinstripes with that white hat. Real fans wear blue.

Maybe he was trying to escape all the Michael Jackson craziness in La-La Land. He'd be better off just heading back to Los Angeles and taking the guy who pitched in Sabathia's place with him.

We hadn't seen that guy on the mound since April.

Except for his injury-shortened start against the Marlins, Sabathia failed to get through the seventh inning for the first time since April 16. He walked three, struck out eight and threw 70 of 107 pitches for strikes, though he struggled with his command in the strike zone, leaving numerous pitches up.

"It was frustrating just because we were playing so well," Sabathia said after falling to 7-5. "We scored four runs and were trying to sweep a team, and that should be enough to win. I let us down today."

Over his previous 10 starts, Sabathia was 6-1 with a 2.82 ERA. This was a radical departure.

The trouble started in the first when Ichiro Suzuki, who is 17-for-41 (.415) against Sabathia in his career, led off with a double off Mark Teixeira's glove. He stole second and scored on Jose Lopez's soft grounder back to the mound for a 1-0 lead.

But Sabathia couldn't settle down after that, allowing a leadoff homer to Franklin Gutierrez and a sacrifice fly by Chris Woodward as the Mariners went up 3-0 in the second.

Meanwhile, the offense struggled to get going, finishing with seven hits for the game. Robinson Cano had three and Hideki Matsui two.

Cano and Matsui helped get the Yankees on the board in the second. Alex Rodriguez walked to lead off the second and Cano followed with a double to set up the Yankees. Nick Swisher got a run in with a sacrifice fly, scoring A-Rod and sending Cano to third. Matsui brought in Cano with a sacrifice fly to right that Ichiro dropped, putting Matsui on first, and getting the Yankees back in the game at 3-2.

If only Sabathia could have held the line.

Gutierrez and Kenji Johjima led off the fourth with singles. After Ryan Langerhans flied out to center, Woodward singled in Gutierrez and then with two outs, Ichiro doubled in Johjima and Woodward to make it 6-2.

Matsui hit two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to make it 6-4, but that's as close as the Yankees would get. The Yankees would get three more hits the rest of the way, two in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves replaced Sabathia in the sixth, striking out Lopez with the bases loaded to end the inning and pitched two more scoreless innings. But in the ninth, Teixeira committed his first error in 106 games, when he botched the throw on a grounder from Ichiro leading off.

Russell Branyan, who had struck out nine times in the three games, then put the exclamation point on the game, blasting a monster shot high off the Mohegan Sun sports bar far off in center to make it 8-4.

After that, some fans started leaving.

Surely Jack was among them.

He's from L.A. and used to leaving early.

Runners In Scoring Position
0-for-6 (.000)
185-for-719 (.257)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
119-for-447 (.266)
Vs. Red Sox
11-for-82 (.134)

Up Next
Friday vs. Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m., YES
Brian Tallett (5-5, 4.47 ERA) vs. A.J. Burnett (6-4, 3.93)

This is a big series for the Yankees and the AL East. The Blue Jays started the season hot, leading the division into mid-May, feeding on the weaker teams in the AL Central and West. They are now in fourth, seven games behind the Red Sox. The Yankees have a chance to knock the Jays out of the contention completely in this four-game series.


*If anyone thinks I'm being series about Nicholson, get a sense of humor! Of course he had nothing to do with the outcome, but it's damn fun dump on Hollywood front-runners.

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