King Of The Hill

Hello top of the American League East (permanently), we haven’t seen each other in a while. Your looking dashing, have you lost some weight? Your Yankee-separation anxiety is finally cured. Yes, with a victory over the red sox (could anything be sweeter than that?) the yankees have clinched their first American League East title since 2006. 3 years has never seemed so long. 


There was certainly a lot to celebrate in the clubhouse this afternoon: Robbie getting his 200th hit of the season, the Yankees getting to 100 wins for the first time since 2004, Mark Teixeira and I own the same pair of goggles…

Both the newbies and veterans joyful, excited, hootin and hollerin, drenched in champagne, drowning others in champagne, not ruining all the expensive technology wrapped in plastic… and the yankees know that they’re right where they should be. 

“It’s a great feeling for all of us, to be busting your tail since the middle of February — coaching staff, training staff, strength staff, players, coaches, front office — to get us where we are right now is a testament to everyone coming together as a group.”-Nick Swisher

“We have 100 wins, and hopefully there’s 11 wins in the postseason we can get. This team is very special, and I like what we have here. I know this celebration is going to end soon. We understand there are bigger and better ones yet to come.”-Johnny Damon


“I can’t say enough about these 25 guys, I’ve never been around a group of guys that have been so close and love each other so much and respect each other so much.”-Alex Rodriguez

“We’ve still got some work to do, but this team is put together well, who knows what can happen? We have a lot of fun on and off the field. It’s a lot of fun when you can go out and play with guys that you really enjoy playing with.” -CC Sabathia


I feel a photo montage coming on…

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and my personal favorite:

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Victory has never tasted so…well, bubbly

Signing off for now

-Inside the Thought Bubble

Quick Update: Save Ian Kennedy A Seat In That Bullpen

These West Coast games are killing me, the one time (the weekend) when I have time to watch the games, and they’re scheduled to deprive a New Yorker of sleep. Unfortunately, that has just left me to read all the ESPN and MLB.COM game recaps, but then one article title grabbed my attention: Kennedy Completes Quick Return to the Bigs.  


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There isn’t a word to describe how this made me feel: maybe excitement + joy + surprise + pride does the trick. I thought perhaps they called him up just to have him be back around the game atmosphere, or maybe be the towel boy…but then the words “long reliever” sounded so much sweeter than I ever thought they could. Thats right fans, Ian Kennedy has made his grand return to the big stage Saturday and can be used as a long reliever. HOOOORAAAHHHHH!!!!! 

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Now, as far as Ian Kennedy fans go, I’m proud to say I’m one of his biggest supporters. Recall this blog I posted almost two months ago. His potential is outstanding, and his persistence and bravery that was rewarded with a trek up to Seattle is something everyone can admire. This call up came after a start at SWB during the Governors Cup championship finals, where he pitched 3 perfect innings, striking out 6 of 9. 

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And Kennedy couldn’t be happier: “It’s just been a blessing to be here. To line something like this up, only God can do.”
Signing off for now
-Inside the Thought Bubble

Lucky 13

The Yankees finished off their last season series against the Baltimore Orioles with a 13-3 victory. In that season series, the Yankees dominated the Orioles with a record of 13-5. And all this was completed on September 13th. Whoever said 13 was unlucky?



CC Sabathia was assigned one task today and one task only: stop the bleeding. The Yankees were in danger of getting swept by the Os, and we wanted this to stop. Right away. While CC wasn’t lights out, struggling a little bit through the first couple of innings, he got the job done. He provided the Yankees length and kept them in the game long enough to have their 8th inning rally. Sabathia became the first 17-game winner in the American League, and hasn’t been charged with a loss since July 28th, 10 starts ago. Since the All Star Break: CC has the most wins in the majors, 5th lowest ERA in the AL, most IP in the AL and 2nd most strikeouts in the AL. As far as I’m concerned, “ACE” is spelled with Two Cs. 

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But lets not forget about the offense. It was looking rather meekly through the first 5 innings, as if the offensive powerhouse that is the Yankees forgot all about what they did best. It especially looked that way in the top of the 4th inning when Johnny Damon forgot how many outs there were and allowed the runner from second to score on a sac fly. Whoops!

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The Yankees looked like they were about to crack it wide open in the bottom of the fourth with bases loaded and one out, but A-Rod struck out on a very questionable call to end the inning. Later on, both Girardi and A-Rod engaged in a heated argument with Marty Foster, resulting in their ejections. 

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As if acting as the Yankees’ cue to get this show on the road, they went on to score 2 in the bottom of the 6th, giving them a 5-3 lead. And then that little spark turned into a full on nuclear explosion in the 8th, with the Yankees scoring 8 runs. In that inning alone, Matsui homered and Melky, Gardner and Teixeira all doubled. 

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At the end of the day, Jeter went 3 for 5, Tex went 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs, Matsui went 3 for 5 with 5 RBIs, Cano went 3 for 5 and Melky went 2 for 5 with 4 RBIs. I’m getting tired of writing RBIs. And I could not be happier to be faced with such a problem. 

Final tidbit of information: This guy called Derek Jeter? You may have heard of him. He breaks one record and just doesn’t stop, he’s like the energizer bunny, only 6 feet taller. During todays game, he scored his 100th run of the season, marking the 12th season in his career having done so. He passed Babe Ruth, who had done it 11 times. Next on the very top of the list, with 13 seasons. Lou Gehrig. As if breaking one of his records wasn’t enough. 

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Oh yeah, and did I mention Boston’s elimination number is 13?

Signing off for now
-Inside the Thought Bubble






No Creative Title Needed: Derek Jeter Goes Down In History As The All Time Yankee Hits Leader

First, I want to apologize for not having written very many blogs recently. Between going back to school and varsity sports every day, I’ve been very busy! But nothing, not even my mounds of homework, can keep me from posting a very special blog today. If I didn’t, well, quite frankly, the guilt would probably eat me alive.


Yes, the Yankees lost on a rainy friday night. Yes, Andy Pettitte had an OK night. Yes, the bullpen was a little  very shaky. Yes, it lasted into the wee hours of the morning. Yes, that might have been a game the Yankee wanted back. But the game was so much more than another loss, another sub par bullpen outing, another rain delay. It was a magical evening. 

As I’m sure we’re all aware, Derek Jeter has been looming around the all time yankee hits record, previously set by Lou Gehrig 73 years ago with 2,271 hits. When Derek was within 3 of tying the record, he slumped into an ominous 0-12. Wednesday evening however, a bunt single turned everything around, where he got 3 hits, tying Gehrig’s record. An off day thursday and the stage was set for a historic moment on a historic day, September 11th. 

Just about every fan toughed out a 1 hour 27 minute rain delay, who would let a few little rain drops ruin their chance to see Yankee history anyways? Speaking of rain delays and yankee history, this game provided me with a little flashback to one of my favorite games ever to watch, David Cones perfect game. Did he let a rain delay ruin his chance at perfection? Hell no. 

Leading off the bottom of the first, Jeter approached the plate. The game truly had a world series atmosphere, with the breath of 46,771 fans hanging on every pitch. Jeter struck out on 5 pitches. Yes, the Yankess go on to score 3 in the bottom of the inning, but thats not really what the fans were looking for. 

Jeter is up again in the bottom of the third. In a 2-0 count, Jeter laces a pitch down the right field line, a classic Jeterian swing. And with that swing Yankee fans know so well, Derek Jeter cruises into first receiving an ovation not fit for words. There was chanting and cheering for about 3 minutes, the fans showing Jeter all the love he deserved. All the teammates in the dugout rushed up to first to congratulate their captain on his monumental accomplishment. 

Jeter had nothing but humble words about his accomplishment: “It’s still hard to believe for me. The way the fans have treated me around the city, at the field … being a Yankee fan, I never dreamt of this. The whole experience has been overwhelming.”

The Players had nothing but unending praise for their shortstop:

Alex Rodriguez: “Forty, 50, 60 years from now, fans are going to read the back of his baseball card and see a lot of hits. That’s pretty amazing, but that won’t capture even 50 percent of it.”

Andy Pettitte:“You knew really early that he was a great player — but not only was he a great player, he took it to another level in big situations and great moments that could be made. He’s just been extremely special to watch, and he’s a wonderful human being.”

But perhaps the boss said it best: “For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I have two words: Derek Jeter. Game in and game out, he just produces. As historic and significant as becoming the Yankees’ all-time hit leader is, the accomplishment is all the more impressive because Derek is one of the finest young men playing the game today.”

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2,723 hits and counting

Signing off for now
-Inside the Thought Bubble



Seeing Double

The final Hoo-rah of the summer is sealed with nice weather, history lessons, and a sweep of the day night double header. After a split of the toronto series, all is restored in Yankee universe. Oh yeah, and did I mention a 9-game lead in the AL East? I wish every summer ended this way, it’d be so much easier to go back to school.

 

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Game One: Ace is spelled with two Cs

CC is looking about as unstoppable as James Bond, Iron Man and Jason Bourne all rolled into one. Not losing a decision since July 28th and going 7+ innings in 7 of his last 8 starts, Sabathia just continues to show Yankee fans the reason we went out and got him: he’s a work horse who, every 5th day, gives you a very good chance to win. His start today went a little something like this: 7 IP, 3 H, I ER, 10 K. Both his fastball and slider were looking pretty fierce, the slider down and in being a very effective out pitch to righties.

 

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The offense seemed to save their steam for game 2, but A-Rod had a very nice afternoon for himeself, going 3-3. A-Rod, Posada, Cano and Hinske all had 1 RBI a piece, and the 8-9 punch of hughes and moe secured a 4-1 victory.

 

Game Two: 1 and 1 makes 11

AJ Burnett improved to 11-8, picking up his first victory since June in the night portion of the double header. AJs numbers were strikingly similar to CCs a few hours earlier: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8 K. Replicating a start like that deserves a round of applause *claps for AJ*. He featured a good fastball and his unique knuckle-curve. Once again, for the second time today, Evan Longoria is the only Ray with an RBI. Ouch.

 

 

 

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Game two was really more about the offense than anything. It seemed every single yankee on the 40-man roster got an at bat this evening, with the likes of Shelly Duncan and Fransico Cervelli playing the field. The result of the offensive free for all? 11 runs on 17 hits. By the 7th inning, I felt like we were playing a rousing game of musical infielders. Every starter got a hit except for Derek Jeter ironically (no, I didn’t forget about Jeter, just keep reading). Overall, the Yankee who had the best night award goes to Mark Teixeira: 3 for 4, 2 HR (one a monument park affair), 4 RBI, Double. Jose Molina also deserves recognition, going 3-3.

 

mark teixeira.jpg But perhaps the biggest headline of all was supposed to be Derek Jeter persuing the all time yankee hit leader Lou Gehrig, being only 3 hits away from tying Gehrig on the list with 2,718. Jeter went 0-4 in his first game and then 0-4 in the second game, the only time Jeter has ever gone hitless in a double header. But lets ponder this for a second, everyone put on your thinking caps: 3 hits to make up in 23 games. I dont think we have anything to worry about.

 

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Signing off for now

-Inside the thought bubble  

 

 

Surging Sergio

Nothing like a “the little pitcher that could” performance to compliment a powerful offense. First the walk off (call me spoiled, but I’m starting to almost expect them when the Yanks are down in the 9th) and now a stellar pitching performance and an offensive showcase for a final 10-0. Let’s just hope the Yankees save some Pizazz for tomorrows game (of which I will be in attendance).


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Let’s be honest with each other here: if I were to tell you that Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin combined to one hit the Chicago White Sox, your first course of action would be to tell me to stop taking the crazy pills, right? Ok maybe thats a little harsh, but admit it: you did not see this one coming. 

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Surgeon Mitre was dissecting batter after batter, retiring the first 13 hitters he faced (Ok I promise, I’m done with the Sergio Mitre puns). Striking out 2 and walking 1 in the 6 1/3 innings of work, Mitre featured an array of pitches including an exceptionally good changeup, 4-seam fastball, curveball and sinker. In that 6 1/3 innings, Mitre allowed only a double down the first base line to Jim Thome, the only hit of the entire afternoon (of the White Sox variety, of course). Unfortunately, his far and beyond best outing of the season ended prematurely after a comebacker off the bat of Pierzynski nicked him in the arm. Not to mention Chad Gaudin wasn’t half bad either, pitching 2 2/3, striking out 4 and not allowing a hit as well. Mitre got a great ovation after leaving in the 7th, and both pitchers earned some well deserved respect from the New York crowd. And as everyone knows, respect from the New York fans does not come easy. 
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But this game wasn’t all about the pitchers, the score was 10-0 remember? The offense contributed alright, the whole offense as a matter of fact. Every single Yankee starter scored a run, truly bringing meaning to a “circular lineup”. Only Teixeira and Molina didn’t pick up a hit, but each had a walk a piece. Jeter continued his stellar season (MVP contender anyone? Wink wink nudge nudge?) with a 3-4 afternoon and Robbie was 3-5. Cano, Hairston, Damon and Matsui all had doubles, while A-Rod shot for the fences. It was 2 hours and 39 minutes of  some ultra-superb baseball. 

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It’s starting to feel like September already

Signing off for now
-Inside the Thought Bubble

It Takes Two to Tango

Call me optimistic and naive, but with bases loaded, no outs and already a two run defecit made up lifting the score to 10-7, I was already hypothesizing AJ Burnett stiring up one of his famous shaving cream pie al a walk off. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

 

pie in the face.png Theres no one to blame, exactly, it was just a case of bad luck. A quick recap of the bottom of the inning: down 10-5, reliever Jason Grilli enters the game and gives up a single to Damon and walks Tex. Washington has seen enough, and brings in his closer Frank Francisco with 2 on, 0 out. A-Rod walked, bases loaded. Matsui singled scoring Damon, directly followed by Posada singling, scoring Tex. 10-7 with no one out. Jerry Hairston Jr. to pinch run for Posada.  Bases are still loaded for Robbie (notorious for all his men on base hitting problems), and he singles scoring both A-Rod and Matsui. 10-9 with no one out, runners on 1st and 2nd. I can taste the shaving cream. It all goes downhill from there. A failed sac bunt attempt by Swisher makes it 10-9, 1 out.  Melky, the king of the walkoffs, comes to the plate, needless to say I have a lot of confidence in him. He lines out hard to the shortstop, who runs to tag second base to double off Hairston by half a step. In about 3 seconds, the game ends.

balloon-pop.jpg Joba had another less than pretty start, leaving early after only pitching 4 innings and surrendering 7 ER. And guess what? All 7 of those runs Joba allowed, all were scored on two outs. Joba’s struggles were simply a result of not being able to get the job done, with two out walks and singles galore! In the second it was a two out single, walk, stolen base, and double that did the damage. The fourth was even worse. Try a 2 out walk, single, single, single, single, single.

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Kevin Millwood wasn’t exactly so hot either, and the Yankees got to him early in a 4-run first with the help of Tex, A-Rod, Matsui and Posada. Thats right, you guessed it: all with two outs. Cano homered in the 4th, the 6th player on the Yankees to have 20 homers or more. The last time the Yankees had 6 players with 20+ homers: the 2004 season. (Rodriguez, Sheffield, Matsui, Jeter, Posada and…can you name the last one?)

 

 Last but not least, I wanted to mention Neftali Feliz. He retired 7 of the 9 batters he faced (one of the two not retired was HBP). From the start he came out throwing gas.

Total Pitches: 42 (career high)

Total Fastballs: 30

Slowest Fastball: 95 MPH

Fastest Fastball: 101 MPH

Average Speed: 98.2 MPH

He was consistent from start to finish, 3 of his last 4 fastballs hit 99 MPH. And his slowest fastball at 95 MPH? And only one of his fastballs even traveled that slowly. I was extremely impressed.

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Did anyone guess Bernie Williams?

 

Signing off for now

-Inside the Thought Bubble  

 

It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…It’s a Baseball!

After a lovely 2-week vacation in Red Sox country (and being nearly denied service multiple times for wearing a yankee jersey), it’s nice to be back in New York and blogging again. And what could be a better way to celebrate my return to New York from Massachusetts with a Yankee win over the Sox and taking the series? Practically nothing.

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After two high scoring games, the hyped up pitchers duel only followed the trend. In the three game series, the Yankees and Sox combined for 58 runs which is the most ever scored between the two in a 3 game set. And we have Hideki Matsui to thank for that. Matsui had two homeruns in both the 1st and 3rd games, finishing with 9 RBIs on the series. It also marked matsui’s 3rd multi-homerun game in 7 GAMES. Be cautioned New York City, GODZILLA is on the loose! 

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 But Matsui wasn’t alone. 3 other Yankees homered, marking the 1st game in which Beckett has ever given up 5 homeruns. Hoorah! This calls for a celebratory off-day! Along with Matsui’s 2, Jeter hit one on the first pitch of the game, and Rodriguez and Cano soon followed. The homerun by Jeter was his 21st leadoff and ties him wtih Soriano for second on the all time Yankee leadoff homeruns list, only three shy of Ricky Henderson. The Yankees are also the only team in baseball with 5 players with 20+ homeruns  (Teixeira, Rodriguez, Matsui, Damon, Swisher) and last night brough Robbie to 19. I’ll be sure to send the short porch and green monster thank you notes.

 

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CC and Beckett, on the other hand, were aiming for number 15. I think you can figure out who got to it. With his major league leading 15th win, CC Sabathia didn’t exactly crush the Sox, but he got the Job done. Over 6 2/3, 3 ER, 8 H, 8 K, 0 BB. CC featured a good fastball hitting the outside corner effectively, and good changeups and sliders. Sabathia takes Mr. August to a whole other level, going 5-0 in the month this season and winning 11 straight consecutive August decisions. And in those 5 August wins this season, a 2.65 ERA. Sabathia had faith in his team from the beginning, “To be honest with you, Beckett is a great pitcher, but this lineup is unbelievable. I’ve had confidence in this offense all year. I’ve just felt like I don’t have to do too much to win games. If I can just keep them in the game, we’ll have a good chance to win.” Beckett on the other hand was shaky from the first pitch to his last, unable to get his breaking ball down in the zone. “Obviously, you tend to remember those, these are humbling deals. That was a whooping I got today.”

beckett.jpgAnd even a few hours outside of Boston, I was able to purchase a Yankee Mr. Potato Head.

 

Signing Off For Now

-Inside the Thought Bubble  

 

 

*Sniff* Do You Smell That? Smells Like A Win

0-8 is never a good place to be at. Ever, under no circumstances. Actually maybe in golf, if it’s like 0 points in your last 8 shots or something like that, but we all know what a twisted sport golf is. In sports with logical score keeping systems, 0-8 only means one thing: you have been owned. And as much as I cringe at the mere thought of it, the Yankees have been owned. A quick look at the stats…

The Season Series…
The Red Sox:
Team Batting Average: .283
Runs Scored: 55
Errors: 3
Team Batting Average with RISP: .290

The Yankees:                                                                                                                     

Team Batting Average: .258
Runs Scored: 31
Errors: 9
Team Batting Average with RISP: .101


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Basically just every area of play the Yankees failed to excel in. Pitching, defense, offense…the works. BUT WAIT. Never fear Yankee fans, while things may look dismal from here, this is a different team from the one that faced the Sox in June. A team with even more Phils in the bullpen, a man named Sergio, a wacky Nick Swisher hair style and one that is no more Italian than Australia. The Yankees in their new state of playing are here to win it. 

Since the All Star Break…
The Red Sox:
Team Batting Average: .269
Runs Scored: 89
TB: 273
The Yankees:                                                                                                    ERA: 4.40   

Team Batting Average: .283
Runs Scored: 99

TB: 309
ERA: 4.13

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A Look at the Pitching Matchups for the weekend:

Thursday: Joba Chamberlain (7-2, 3.58) vs John Smoltz (2-4, 7.12)
Friday: AJ Burnett (10-5, 3.89) vs Josh Beckett (13-4, 3.27)
Saturday: CC Sabathia (11-7, 3.95) vs Clay Buchholz (1-1, 6.05)
Sunday: Andy Pettitte (9-6, 4.35) vs John Lester (9-7, 3.79)


Going Tonight for the Yankees: Joba Chamberlain
Hopefully Joba can keep the momentum going for both the Yankees and himself, not only does he have the lowest ERA in baseball since the all star break, but check out these numbers before and after
Before the All Star Break

1-2-3 Inning %: 29%
Leadoff Batters Retired %: 54%
2 Strike Counts Becoming Outs %: 69%
*Average When Pitcher Behind in Count: .429


After the All Star Break
1-2-3 Inning %: 50%
Leadoff Batters Retired %: 83%
2 Strike Counts Becoming Outs %: 84%
*Average When Pitcher Behind in Count: .125

*-League Average: .342

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Well there you have it, your pre-series coverage. I hope the Sox know what they’ve got coming for them, GO YANKEES!

Signing off for now
-Inside the Thought Bubble

Good ‘Ole Rogers Centre Magic

I think I finally have the answer–Voodoo. How else can you explain these numbers belonging to Roy Halladay against the Yankees over his last two starts: 5.63 ERA on 16 IP, 19 H, 10 R, 6 HR. Just so we have something to compare with, here are his numbers on the season: 2.75 ERA, with only 14 HR. The home runs he’s given up in the past two starts against the Yankees account for almost half of his total for the whole season. Somebody please explain this to me?

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But perhaps I’m not giving the Yankees enough credit. They do after all have one of the best offenses (if not the best) in the American League. Regardless, the magic that they’ve been able to work on Roy Halladay in the past two starts is something to be marveled at. 

While the Yankee offense was able to rough up Halladay a bit, lets not overlook Andy Pettitte. He matched up extremely well through the first 6 against Halladay, going 6 2/3, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K. Early on he displayed a full array of pitches, flashing a curveball, slider, and a cut fastball. He got into a bit of trouble in the 4th, loading the bases on a single and two walks with 1 out, but got out of the jam with only one run allowed, that runs sustaining the Blue Jays for as long as Pettitte was in the game. The game plan for him and Jorge was simple enough: paint the corners. And it was effective, giving Pettitte his first win since July 1st.

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The offense got to Halladay early. After both Jeter and Teixeira struck out, with the curveball called third strike on Teixeira being quite possibly the nastiest one I’ve ever seen from Halladay, Rodriguez came through with a double that scored Damon all the way from first after he had singled. A throwing error on Millar on a Matsui hit allowed A-Rod to score and gave the Yankees a quick 2-0 lead. The Jays got a run in the bottom of the 4th, the 2-1 score preserved until the 8th inning. Damon and Teixeira launched back-to-back homeruns of Halladay, only the second time in his career he had allowed so. The Jays answered with two runs of their own off of Phil Hughes, but a Matsui homerun in the 9th sure helped out. Rivera gave up two singles in the 9th, but as usual secured his save, his major league leading-31st in 32 attempts. 

But don’t let the final score fool you. Even though it was a bad start for Halladay, for most pitchers it would probably be considered successful, but unlucky that your offense couldn’t pull through. Halladay still managed to throw a complete game, allowing 4 ER and striking out 5 while walking none. Leave it Halladay to lose a complete game…

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I think Johnny Damon said it best:
“To me, he’s still the best pitcher in the league,” Damon said. “Fortunately, we’ve gotten him the last two times.”

No matter what Roy Halladay, Johnny and I still think you’re the best. 

Tonight’s matchup: Sergio Mitre (oh dear.) vs PLEASE CHANGE YOUR LAST NAME. thank you. 

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Signing off for now
-Inside the Thought Bubble







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