Monday, September 14, 2009

Keeping Your Composure

Sorry A-Rod. I'm not taking you off the hook. You simply have to know better and have to maintain your composure.

Alex Rodriguez and Joe Girardi were both ejected Sunday, but Hideki Matsui sparked an eight-run eighth with a three-run homer and the Yankees beat the Orioles 13-3 at Yankee Stadium to snap a two-game losing streak.

The Yankees' lead in AL East stands at seven games ahead of the Red Sox, who swept the Rays in a doubleheader. They have a magic number of just 13.

A-Rod's problems began in the fourth. The Yankees had just rallied from two runs down to tie the score at 3 and he was up with the bases loaded and two outs, but was called out on a pitch that was outside by home plate ump Marty Foster.

A-Rod argued, then took his spot and third for the top of the fifth and continued to chirp at Foster. After the Orioles went down in order, A-Rod went into the Yankees' video room between innings and confirmed the pitch was indeed outside.

An enraged A-Rod returned to the dugout and continued to bark at Foster, who finally tossed him without warning. Girardi then took up the cause and put on a show before being sent to the showers.

I have no problem with Girardi protecting his player there, but A-Rod has to know better. Yes, the call was bad, but not that egregious. We've seen much worse calls.

Further, A-Rod has to understand who made the call -- Marty Foster, the same umpire who in July called out Derek Jeter on an attempted steal of third base because the ball beat Jeter to the bag, even though the third baseman never tagged him.

To say Foster is a terrible umpire is being kind. This isn't so nice: If Marty Foster is a major league-caliber umpire, then Kei Igawa is Cy Young. Foster sucks.

The Yankees know Foster is beyond terrible and A-Rod, who doubled in the first to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead, has to recognize that this guy is not going do things that a professional umpire would, such as issue a warning. He has to recognize that this guy doesn't know how to manage a game.

That means after confirming that the pitch was indeed outside in the video room, A-Rod needed to shut up, stay in the game and accept his fine from MLB after telling reporters following the game that Foster is quite possibly the worst game official in the history of organized sports. Ever.

The good news is that the Yankees still pulled out the win to snap out of their short malaise.

CC Sabathia (17-7, 3.42 ERA) continued to bolster is Cy Young credentials by allowing three runs on five hits and four walks in seven innings. He struck out just one and threw 66 of 108 pitches for strikes.

But the reality is that if not for a Johnny Damon brain cramp in the fourth, CC would have allowed just two runs.

Justin Turner led off the fourth with a single and went to second on a Chad Moeller groundout. Jeff Fiorentino then lofted a fly ball to left for the second out, but Damon lost track of how many outs there were and turned toward the stand and was about to toss the ball into the stands before realizing the inning wasn't over. Unfortunately, that realization was too last as Turner scored from second to make it 3-1.

That one will go down as the bonehead play of the year.

But we can laugh about it because the Yankees rallied in the bottom half.

Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher started the inning with singles to load the bases for Melky Cabrera, who singled in two to tie it up. Cabrera went 2-for-5 with four RBI.

The Yanks grabbed the lead for good in the sixth, when with one out Jeter and Damon singled to put runners on the corners. After Mark Teixeira struck out, Eric Hinske, who replaced A-Rod, walked before Matsui stroked a two-run single to right to make it 5-3.

The Yanks finished it off in the eighth with eight runs. Damon walked and Teixeira singled to put runners on the corners to start the innings. Ramiro Pena then fouled out before Matsui launched a shot to right to make it 8-3.

After Posada grounded out, Cano and Swisher singled to put runners on the corners. They came around to score on Cabrera's double.

Brett Gardner doubled in another run a Teixeira doubled in two more and the Yankees had the game well in hand.

And that leaves me wondering if anyone has seen Mariano Rivera lately? We might need to put out an APB for him.

Runners In Scoring Position
Sunday
9-for-24 (.375)
Season
375-for-1,369 (.274)
First Half
217-for-819 (.265)
Second Half
158-for-550 (.287)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
310-for-1,096 (.283)
Vs. Red Sox
36-for-163 (.221)

Up Next
Monday vs. Angels, 7:05 p.m., YES
Jered Weaver (15-5, 3.76) vs. Joba Chamberlain (8-5, 4.45)

This is a makeup of a rainout and the start of Yankees' final big test of the season. The Angels are the final dragon the Yankees have left to slay. It's one game at home today and then three in Anaheim next week.

Joba gave up two runs in three innings in his last abbreviated started, but retired the last eight batters he faced. I'm hoping that finish was an indication that Joba has figured something out and will finally start pitching well again. Meanwhile, Joba has four starts remaining in the regular season, so expect the Yankees to begin stretching him back out by allowing him to go four innings today.

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