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June 21, 2006

by SG

Despite Joe Torre's best efforts at managing them out of the game as well as another appearance from the notorious Bad Moose, the Yankees edged the Phillies 9-7 last night.

Mike Mussina was good except for when he was facing Ryan Howard, who hit a three run monster shot to RF in the first inning after Mussina got rattled by a questionable ball/strike call to Pat Burrell. Moose gave up another two run blast to Howard in the fourth, continuing a brutal June where he's now given up 20 runs in 23.2 innings.

Torre pinch hit for Mussina in the sixth inning, which I thought was questionable but understandable. He went to the underused Ron Villone who pitched an effective sixth and then retired Jimmy Rollins and hit Chase Utley before striking out Bobby Abreu. The game was tied at 5-5 and Villone had retired 5 of the 6 hitters that he had faced.

Villone throws left-handed, but he has done a good job of retiring righties thanks to his cutter. However, Torre felt the need to play matchups and overmanage by bringing in Scott Proctor, who proceeded to walk Burrell on four pitches. This forced Torre to play even more matchup by then bringing in Mike Myers to pitch to Howard. Myers threw a ball then gave up a triple to the RF corner which scored two runs and gave the Phillies a 7-5 lead. Torre then had to bring T.J. Beam who retired Aaron Rowand to end the inning.

I thought Villone was throwing well and should have stayed in. Instead, Torre burned through four of his relievers in this inning and left the game in the hands of Mariano Rivera and Matt Smith and no one else since Kyle Farnsworth was supposedly not available. He also had to double-switch out Robinson Cano because of this, which cost the team one of their hottest hitters.

Thankfully, the Yankees stormed back in the eighth. Bernie Williams capped a 5-5 day with a leadoff "hit". I've bashed Bernie's playing time in this space a lot this season, so it's only fair for me to say "I'm sorry Bernie".

Bernie Williams is now hitting .294/.332/.445. The average AL hitter is hitting .272/.337/.434. Bernie's OPS+ is now 105.

At the end of April, Bernie was hitting .217/.262/.283. Since then he's hitting .325/.360/.510 in 42 games. He's not walking like he used to, but that is a very productive stretch over a quarter of the season, and makes him an offensive asset, although he's still below average for a corner OF on the season.

Unfortunately his value is still depressed fairly significantly by his defense, but I'm very happy to see his offensive turnaround and hope it continues. Honestly, if he hits .325/.360/.510 with bad defense, he's not much different than Gary Sheffield.

Miguel Cairo then walked. Melky Cabrera, who did not start, got a single that drove in one, and then Johnny Damon cleared the bases with a triple. From there, it was the Mo show, as Mariano Rivera closed the game out with two innings, retiring Ryan Howard with two on and two out to end it.

After several really tough losses, it was kind of nice to win one that the Yankees probably didn't deserve to win.