Hey, would you look at that… the Yankees and Red Sox are tied for first at the top of the AL East. It was as simple as that. The Yankees sweep the Tigers and continue to play well against the Orioles. At the same time, the Red Sox are slumping and all of a sudden the Yankees are right back at the top of the East. All we need is one more win and another Red Sox loss and we’ll be the sole leader of the division. It’s great. Well, last night’s victory is much thanks to Hideki Matsui (aka “Godzilla”).
Matsui stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied at one. Jim Johnson on the mound, was looking to put the game into extras. But I think Matsui had different ideas. Early in the at bat, Matsui breaks his bat, leaving a small section from the bottom of the bat in Matsui’s right hand. It was a strange looking swing too, I might add. But he got a new bat and stepped back up to the plate. With his new bat, Matsui swung at a fastball middle in and demolished it to the right center bleachers. Right off the bat the crowd at Yankee Stadium erupted as they knew that “Godzilla” had returned. Matsui was regarded as “Godzilla” while in Japan as he hit many long home runs with a ton of power. The only thing about his nickname when he came to the Yankees is that the home run power wasn’t as dominant as it was in Japan. The name “Godzilla” wasn’t used very often but in times like this when he hits a walk off or even just a bomb here and there, “Godzilla” is the name of choice for Yankee fans.
Other than Matsui’s late game jack, defense played a huge part in this game. Mark Teixeira grounded a ball off the bat of Nick Markakis and fielded it a little bit awkwardly. He threw a sort of off balanced throw to Jose Molina at home and Molina, who had the wrong foot blocking home plate, swung his glove around in time to tag out the speedy Maicer Izturis. (Izturiz, who was on first when a hit and run was put on, ran with the pitch and slid into second, not knowing Brian Roberts had hit the ball. He then got up and started a slow walk back to first thinking the ball may be caught. When it wasn’t, he ran over to third but that is as far as he got. He should have scored but his baserunning error cost him and the O’s). Another great play at the plate came from Molina as well as Phil Coke who was on the mound. Now, usually a past ball is not a good thing but this one turned into a good thing. Coke threw one in the dirt and Molina went back to get it as the very speedy Brian Roberts was heading home. He threw to Coke who was covering the plate and Coke tagged out Roberts who never even touched the plate. Two amazing plays at the plate saved the tie for the Yankees and the game went into the ninth. You have to see the video because you can’t really understand how great these plays were. Here’s the link to the video.
So, the Yankees played a great overall game. Offensively, they were a little slow. The only run before Matsui’s homer was on an Eric Hinske homer. Same on the other side of the field. Only a Nick Markakis homer put the O’s on the board. So, other than the home runs, there was pretty much no offense on either side.
Pettitte pitched pretty well. He didn’t get the win though and that’s unfortunate since he deserved the win. The rest of the pitching was good as well. Aceves got the win as he pitched the ninth before Matsui’s homer. Here’s therest of the box score.
P.S. How ’bout that Kevin Millwood. Not only did he pitch great enough to stop the Red Sox, but he made two crazy snags against Dustin Pedroia who hit them right back to the mound. One he caught with his glove, but the second he snagged it with his bare hand. Very impressive.
As all of you who read my post “Final Thoughts on Final Vote” know, my picks for the final vote were Shane Victorino and Ian Kinsler. You would also know that I thought Ian Kinsler should have already been in the All Star Game starting at second base instead of the reigning MVP Dustin Pedroia. Nothin against Pedroia who is having a good year, but Kinsler is having a better one. You would all know that Shane Victorino and Pablo Sandoval were both good choices in my eyes but that I would go with “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” simply because I felt he was having a better season. Now that the final vote is over, I have some more thoughts on the two guys that finished off the AL and NL All Star rosters. Shane Victorino and Brandon Inge.
Now, Shane Victorino did all that he could over the course of the time limit for the final vote, including a walk off, some very good stats, and a continued season of full out effort. He worked for it, deserved it, and is going to St. Louis to join some of his teammates in the NL’s attempt to win the All Star game for the first time in… I don’t know how long but the AL wins it almost every year. So this pick satisfies me and I have no further comment on the NL final man. Now the AL final vote pick has me thinking.
Brandon Inge, the third baseman from the Detroit Tigers. He’s having a good season, don’t get me wrong. But out of the guys that were available in the final vote, I don’t see how so many people picked Inge. He isn’t one of those hugely popular guys who can just count on his popularity to get picked. He isn’t that kind of guy. Kinsler on the other hand, has a following, is having a better season than Dustin Pedroia. He should have at least been a backup for the second base position. Now that he is going to be absent for this midsummer classic, it will feel like there is something important missing. Almost like missing an arm or a leg. Also, another guy that I feel got snubbed was Alexei Ramirez, the White Sox shortstop. He started off the season slow, but come May, he turned it on and has been having a STELLAR season. Now, there is some tough competition at the shortstop position this year (Jeter, Bartlett) and I can see how he didn’t get in. But I thought he could have maybe gotten in anyway. He’s having a good enough season so if he got in, there would be no question from me about him deserving the spot.
Well, that’s all I can say about this. I’m kind of all thought out. ‘Til next time…
So, the midsummer classic is coming up and some of my pals have been bugging me to post my picks for the game. Now, most of them are no doubters but others people might have an argument against. Well here they are.
C: Joe Mauer (Twins)
1B: Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
3B: Evan Longoria (Rays)
SS: Derek Jeter (Yankees)
LF: Jason Bay (Red Sox)
CF: Curtis Granderson (Tigers)
RF: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners)
P: Roy Halladay (Blue Jays)
C: Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
1B: Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2B: Orlando Hudson (Dodgers)
3B: David Wright (Mets)
SS: Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
LF: Ryan Braun (Brewers)
CF: Raul Ibanez (Phillies)
RF: Brad Hawpe
P: Tim Lincecum (Giants)
Now as you have probably noticed on many other ballots before, the AL squad is stacked with Yankees and Red Sox players. That is because they are the two best teams in the AL and they have the most All Star worthy players. So don’t yell at me because I picked them because one- they deserve it, and two- a ton of others have picked them in their ballots. Two Cards start at their own home stadium for the game (Pujols and Molina).
Jason Bay has been the MVP of the AL so far this season… at least in my eyes. He is leading the league in RBIs with 69, has 19 round trippers on the season which is third in the league, has been a solid defensive presence for the Red Sox all season long, and has the left field starting position for the 2009 All Star Game in St. Louis locked. This guy is unbelievable. He is surely going to be in the running for the MVP at the end of the season for all these reasons. He has just been on a tear all season long, slumping very rarely. But lately, Bay hasn’t been succeeding the way he has so far this season. Today was a perfect example of his rapid decline in production. As I sat on my couch watching the Red Sox take on the Orioles only a day after the O’s came back from nine down, I witnessed Jason Bay have his worst game at the plate all season. He stepped up five times and every single time, he walked back to the dugout with another strikeout on his back. He went 0-5 with five strikeouts. He looked absolutely dreadful. He wasn’t even close on some pitches. On one pitch, he just waved at a fastball over the middle-outside part of the plate. It was hittable but it was like he didn’t want to hit it and just waved his bat over the general area. It was extremely strange.
Now, despite Bay’s slump of late, the Red Sox have still continued to win. They have gotten production from other guys that have filled in for Bay’s non-production. Jacoby Ellsbury has heated up after being moved down in the lineup. David Ortiz has been slowly getting his swing back. Dustin Pedroia and JD Drew have both continued to hit well. The emergence of Nick Green has also been huge as he has started to get it done at the plate as well as in the field. Now, Bay made a nice catch two days ago to end the game in Baltimore. He made a sliding grab that filled the highlight reels for the next day. So, his defense is still there, but his bat has been silented. The Sox would like to get his bat back to assure the team’s success but right now, his bat is the least of their worries. Bay is a STELLAR professional and will get out of this slump which is his first major slump since joining the Sox. And saying this is a major slump isn’t much since it has pretty much only been four or five games since he has been successful. He’ll do fine. He will get out of it soon and he will continue to be in the running for the MVP and will continue to help the Sox. I hope he doesn’t help them that much so that the Yanks can gain some ground on the Sox but I do like this guy and hope he does well.