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September 13, 2006

The Return of Godzilla
by SG

I had tears of joy when I saw the Yankee lineup yesterday prior to the game. When Hideki Matsui is batting 8th in a lineup, you know you've got a good one. Matsui made his return after missing over 100 games, and the new look Yankee lineup batted around in the first inning, scoring nine runs on their way to a 12-4 thrashing of Tampa. Matsui's return went about as well as anyone could have hoped for, as he went four for four with a walk. We all know about his defensive issues, but as a DH Matsui's going to be a big asset to the lineup. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Matsui, for the way he worked his way back from a severe injury. You also have to respect a guy who was able to break his wrist on sliding catch attempt and still be more concerned about making the throw in than his hand dangling from his arm. It's good to have him back.

Bobby Abreu drove in six runs before Tampa was able to record three outs, drove in another with a sacrifice fly a bit later on, and missed a grand slam by a few feet later in the game. If you take Abreu's 41 games as a Yankee and pro-rate it to 162 games, you'd get the following line:

596 AB
205 H
59 2B
11 HR
122 RBI
102 BB
161 K
OPS+ 146
Batting Runs above average RF: 49

Derek Jeter had four plate appearances and went hitless, but his hitting streak continues, as three walks and a HBP mean he did not have an offical AB.

As I linked below, Gary Sheffield was taking BP prior to the game

Manager Joe Torre said Sheffield could return by the end of the homestand Sunday.

''Don't look at me as a handicap no more,'' Sheffield said.

``I'm ecstatic. Imagine not being able to do it for 12 weeks, not knowing if you're ever going to come back from it, if this is career ending or things like that.''

Sheffield thinks he will be game ready in a few days.

''Obviously, I'm not just airing it out the first day in BP,'' he said. ``When they decide, OK, it's time for you to play, then I'll get game ready. I'll swing like I'm in the game.''

Because the Yankees acquired right fielder Bobby Abreu in late July, Sheffield has been working out at first base.

I'm not sure how they'll squeeze him in, but I trust Joe Torre to handle this well.

While all the offense was fun, the Yankees aren't going to go far in the postseason without good starting pitching. So it was nice to see an effective Moose working his way back from the DL and a shaky start last time out, throwing 6.1 strong and efficient innings.

The magic number is now nine for the AL East, and the Yankees are two losses up in the loss column for home field advantage. Today, Cory Lidle (3-3, 4.81) tries to rebound from a disastrous start last time out against Jason Hammel (0-2, 5.61).