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May 17, 2005

Good Bernie, bad Bernie
by SG

The Yankees' ninth straight win today felt like a loss for most of the game. Bernie Williams got a rare start in CF and right away showed us why he's not really capable of being out there, as he misplayed a ball that led to two runs for Seattle. The Yankees looked awful against Aaron Sele for most of the game, only managing one run in six frustrating innings. When a guy with mediocre stuff like Sele is shutting your team down it can be far more frustrating than when it's a guy who's noted for being a good pitcher.

Luckily, Sele's poor control knocked him out of the game after six innings and over 110 pitches. The Yankees were able to capitalize on the Mariners' pen by loading the bases for Bernie. With hard-throwing J.J. Putz on the mound, I figured a walk would be the best possible outcome. However, Bernie drove a 96 mph fastball over the head of a leaping Jeremy Reed for a grand slam that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead.

I want to reiterate that when I complain about Bernie in CF, it's not a slight on him. He's been a brilliant player for many years, and one of my favorites to watch. That Joe Torre refuses to acknowledge what is painfully obvious to everyone else is a reflection on Torre, not on Bernie. I don't think it's unreasonable to say that Bernie playing CF cost the Yankees at least 2 runs yesterday, and maybe all 3. That he drove in 4 made it less painful than it might have been, but what will happen the next time he is thrown out in CF?

Tiger Wang was brilliant today. Throwing 92-94 and working efficiently and throwing strikes, he continues to impress. With a little better defense behind him, he may have pitched a shutout. He even had a stretch in the middle of the game where he retired 17 straight batters. What was particularly encouraging for me was that he had just faced this Seattle team last week, and they were not able to do much with him. A lot of times a rookie pitcher will do well mainly due to unfamiliarity, so this has to be taken as a positive sign. Is there anyone who'd rather see Jaret Wright than Wang right now?

Robinson Cano had another multi-hit game, his fifth in a row, pushing his average up to .333. No, he's not walking, but he's making hard contact and not missing pitches. The true test for Cano will be how he handles pitchers who try to make him expand his strike zone. I see a 22 year old with a ton of promise though, and it's exciting to watch. My hope with both Wang and Cano is that they continue to perform so well that the Yankees can't trade them.

Can the Yankees win their 10th in a row tomorrow? With Carl Pavano going against Julio Mateo the pitching matchup would seem to be in their favor. The faster this team can put .500 behind them, the happier I'll be.

Interestingly, the team has picked up 4 games in the standings on all the teams in front of them during this streak.