Larry Mahnken and SG's

Replacement Level Yankees Weblog

"Hey, it's free!"

The Replacement Level Yankees Weblog has moved!  Our new home is:

Larry Mahnken
Sean McNally
Fabian McNally
John Brattain

This is an awesome FREE site, where you can win money and gift certificates with no skill involved! If you're bored, I HIGHLY recommend checking it out!


Disclaimer: If you think this is the official website of the New York Yankees, you're an idiot. Go away.

August 24, 2005

When bad starters go good
by SG

I've been pretty harsh on Al Leiter in this space. I just didn't think he had much left. He is frustrating to watch with his slow pace and poor control, but if you look at his overall ledger as a Yankee he's been serviceable.

In his 8 starts, he's given up 3 earned runs or fewer in 6 of them. He did have one disastrous start against Cleveland where he only lasted 2 innings, but other than that he has done an adequate job filling in for an injury-depleted rotation.

Even stating this, I don't know that Joe Torre made the right decision in sending Aaron Small to the bullpen instead of Leiter, but it certainly seemed that way last night. Small could not have pitched much better than Leiter did, who took the game into the 8th inning allowing only 2 runs until the bullpen allowed a 3rd run for him. Unfortunately, it appeared that the MIA Yankee offense was going to waste what may have been one of Leiter's best pitched games of the season.

For some inexplicable reason, John Gibbons decided to remove Josh Towers, who was cruising and had held the Yankees to 2 runs over 7 innings on 71 pitches. Granted, he had given up a run in his last inning of work, but he didn't exactly get lit up.

This turned out to be a blessing for the Yankees, who took the lead despite Torre's willingness to give up one of only six outs remaining in the game by having Robinson Cano bunt. When "Clutch God" Derek Jeter struck out on a checked swing, that left it all in Bernie Williams's hand. Bernie delivered the clutch two out single, and pinch runner Tony Womack scored, and it appeared the Yankees would pull out the win.

Unfortunately, Derek Jeter's high throw on an Orlando Hudson grounder pulled first time first baseman Felix Escalona off the bag, and the Blue Jays got the lead. In the post-game Michael Kay made it sound like Rivera was the one who messed up. I found this very annoying. I want to know why Jeter is immune to criticism? He has been woefully unclutch this year, yet we don't hear one peep about that. Anyway, Jeter's a fine player, but he's not as good as the media makes him out to be.

Regardless, the Yankees went into the bottom of the ninth tied trailing 4-3, facing the Blue Jays' closer, Miguel Batista. Batista threw two quick strikes to Hideki Matsui, who then took a close pitch away for a ball, before ripping a low line drive that carried out for a Yankee Stadium homer and a tie game.

Jason Giambi, whose bat has disappeared, grounded out. Jorge Posada then walked. The RLYW's favorite Yankee, Tony Woemack, struck out looking. Robinson Cano then walked? Robinson Cano? Really?

With runners on first and second, and Derek Jeter up, after two balls they decided to walk him. The reason was who was on deck. Felix Escalona, a minor league infielder recently called up, who was playing first base due to Tino Martinez being pinch-run for. It is a testament to how poor the Yankee bench is that Escalona was due up in this spot without an option to pinch-hit for him.

He swung and missed wildly on the first pitch before taking strike two. On 0-2, he rifled a lined drive up the middle into CF, to win the game. It was a cool moment for a guy who'll never be a big time player.

I've given up on the division, Boston apparently decided that they will never lose despite their crappy pitching and bullpen, but the Yankees are now tied for the wild card lead with Cleveland. Cleveland has the far easier schedule over the rest of the season, so the Yankees can't afford to let down at all if they want to make the playoffs. I still say they won't, but I'm a pessimist.