Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Credit Where Credit Is Due

I usually don't write about umpires. In fact I hate doing so because I believe that even though they are human and do blow calls, they are never the reason behind a loss or a victory.

And let's face it, no one wants to read much about the umps, so I won't go on too long about this.

But after the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the A's in Oakland Tuesday, they deserve credit for the way they handled a beanball situation that had the potential to blow up. It was the perfect example of umpires allowing the players to police themselves before seizing control of the situation to prevent it from getting out of hand.

Nice job, guys.

The problem began in the first when Alex Rodriguez was hit on the elbow by a 95 mph, Vin Mazzaro fastball. Whether Mazzaro intended to hit A-Rod or it was just an accident is irrelevant. It was the second time in a week A-Rod had been hit on the elbow and it drew an angry response, though he did not charge the mound. He was forced to miss two games after being hit by the Blue Jays last Wednesday.

Some umpiring crews might have issued warnings right then and there, but the crew of Jerry Layne, Todd Tichenor, Chris Guccione and Mike Winters did the right thing and allowed the players to resolve the situation first.

And CC Sabathia did just that, putting a two-out, 97 mph fastball just behind the rear of Kurt Suzuki, staying far away from the head of the A's catcher.

Tempers, of course, flared, but that's when the umpires took control and issued warnings, though not before Sabathia was able to deliver a clear message, both to the A's and the rest of the league: whether on purpose or accident, Yankee pitchers will not tolerate their star third baseman and heart of the order being hit.

And though I hate the end result, Suzuki deserves credit, too. Rather than charging the mound as Kevin Youkilis did against the Tigers last week, Suzuki got back in the box and crushed the next pitch over the wall in left to give the A's a 1-0 lead. It was the appropriate response.

And with that, the incident was resolved. It's over with no lingering effect over the rest of the game or today's game.

As for the rest of the game, it was a fairly typical Yankees' win that snapped a two-game losing streak and allowed them to remain seven games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East.


"This was a big win for us, because you do want to stop it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We've had a couple of three-game losing streaks, and we've come out very well. Let's just make it a two-game losing streak."

Sabathia, the Bay Area kid , allowed a two-out Tommy Everidge (who????) homer in the second, but settled down after that. Sabathia (14-7, 3.58) allowed five hits and one walk in eight innings in winning his fourth straight this month. He struck out seven and threw 66 of 94 pitches for strikes.

The offense, meanwhile, put the game away with a five-run sixth inning, highlighted by Derek Jeter's go-ahead single, giving the Yankees their fourth win on the West Coast and ensuring the finish the swing with a winning record.

Now it's time to put on the finishing touches before an off-day prior to big, three-game series in Boston.

Runners In Scoring Position
Tuesday
4-for-12 (.333)
Season
288-for-1,111 (.259)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
72-for-292 (.247)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
223-for-839 (.266)
Vs. Red Sox
20-for-126 (.159)

Up Next
Wednesday at A's, 10:05 p.m., YES
Chad Gaudin (5-10, 5.13 overall, 1-0, 5.40 with Yankees) vs. Brett Anderson (7-8, 4.55)

Before I get to the matchup, I want to repeat this: West Coast teams should not be allowed to play night games on weekends or getaway days when they host an East Coast teams. Show some compassion for the fans back East!

This is Gaudin's first start with the Yanks since being acquired from the Padres. He has to be better than Sergio Mitre, right??? A quality start (three runs in six innings) should be enough to get the job done, though Anderson is capable of firing a gem.

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