Sunday, April 4, 2010

AB4AR's Opening Night Yanks-Sox Live Blog

6:55PM- And we're live from the living room of my apartment that still smells a little bit like deep fry from the mound of dishes in my sink that haven't been washed since Friday.  I'm joined by approximately 50 beers (let's hope I don't have to drink all of them) and the boys at Baseball Tonight with Jon and Joe soon to follow.

Just a quick aside before we get into the game.  I know they had some serious Red Sox ass kissing to replace with the loss of Peter Gammons, but ESPN hiring Nomar and now Curt Schilling is just ridiculous.  At this point, they might as well sign Terry Francona to be the guest host and do every show live from the Green Monster.

7:00PM- Nomar picks Boston to win the World Series.  Just go home, you clown.  Even more of a shocker, One Nut Kruk actually picked the Yankees.  They cut the cameras away from the BBTN set just before Nomar and Ravech started beating Kruk over the head.

7:01PM- That animated opening on ESPN could not have been worse if they tried.  Seriously, is this game being played at the Disney complex?  This is serious goddamn business here!

7:02PM- Thank God we've got Orel Hershiser in the booth tonight to provide some levity and some intelligent insight for a change.  I guess not all of ESPN's baseball-related personnel decisions are bad ones.

7:08PM- The obligatory Fenway Park montage with "Shipping Up To Boston" in the background.  That's become almost as big a Boston sports tradition as "Sweet Caroline" in the 7th inning stretch.

7:11PM- Morgan tries to justify Beckett's higher ERA last year by saying it was because of his poor starts where he allowed 5, 6, or 7 earned runs.  According to Joe, somehow those starts don't count and Beckett's numbers were actually better than that.  Whatever, Joe.  Whatever.

7:13PM- Jeter, Johnson, and Teix go down 1-2-3 on 7 pitches and Beckett's 2010 ERA is perfect!!  At least Johnson didn't hurt himself.

7:17PM- Now Morgan is comparing CC and Beckett to Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal.  I know it's Opening Night, Joe, but tone it down a little.  Let's see how these 2 pitch for more than an inning before we start comparing them to the all-time greats.

7:22- CC looks good early.  Pounding the strike zone with fastballs to get ahead and the off-speed stuff looks pretty good for a first start.  He sets the Sox down in order in the bottom of the 1st.

7:27PM- ESPN breaks in to tell us Donovan McNabb has been traded to the Redskins.  Who gives a fuck?  Fuck you, Philadelphia Eagles and fuck you, Adam Schefter.  How dare you conduct important sports business on this, the most holiest of days?  Nothing should be more important than Yankees-Red Sox, even if it is only the first game of the year.  And don't even get me started on the women's NCAA Tournament.  That's hardly even a sport.

7:29- Just as I was getting ready to write about how the Yankees aren't putting good swings on hittable pitches, Jorge juices a 2-1 fastball off Pesky's Pole and the Yanks lead 1-0.  Thanks, Jorge.  Good to see somebody doesn't have too much adrenaline going.

7:31PM- BOOOOOOM!!!!  C-Grand jacks one to deep right center on a 3-2 fastball and it's 2-0.  Beckett getting way too much of the plate with his fastball and the Yankees are just sitting on it right now.  How's that for a first Yankee at-bat?  Somebody tell me what Sterling's home run call for Granderson was.

7:35PM- Back-to-back singles by Swish and Gardner and it's back around to The Captain.  Beckett can't find the plate with his off-speed pitches and the Yanks are teeing off on the fastball.  Not exactly Koufax-ish or Marichal-esque if you ask me.

7:38PM- Beckett is finally out of it after almost 30 pitches in the inning.  Brett Gardner almost beat out the play at 2nd.  That dude is fast.

7:46PM- Leadoff double by Youk and a groundout by Big Sloppi.  The long rest between innings might have hurt CC.  His fastball command isn't what it was in the first inning and he's fallen behind both guys 3-1.  Understandable when he still isn't fully stretched out from Spring Training, but certainly not something you want when you just gave him a 2-run lead.

7:50PM- After his run-scoring sac fly, Jon and Joe can't stop waxing poetic about Adrian Beltre and his supposed power.  Newsflash, fellas.  His only good year was in 2004 when he was playing for a new contract.  He's never hit over .300, never hit more than 30 HRs, and never driven in more than 100 runs since that because he's lazy and he fucking sucks.

7:51PM- Sabathia gets Drew on a 3-2 fastball on the corner and gets out of the inning with the lead intact.  After a leadoff double you'll take that if you're a Yankee fan.  Especially with the 2-3-4 hitters coming up.

8:00PM- The Yanks waste a leadoff walk by Nick Johnson with a pop up by Teix and a GIDP by A-Rod.  So much for setting the table.  GET A-ROD OUTTA HERE!!!  HE'S A BUM!!!!

8:02PM- Don't know if anybody noticed or even cares, but CC changed his spikes between innings.  He was wearing gray ones and now he's got black ones on.  Someone tell the trio in the booth to stop talking about nothing and get somebody on that story!  How is there no on-field reporter for this?

8:03PM- The new cleats didn't seem to help.  CC walks Mike Cameron on 5 pitches.

8:04PM- Can someone explain to me how Nick Green is a key departure for the Red Sox?  Or how Bill Hall is a key addition?  From living out here in the greater Milwaukee area now, I can tell you for a fact that nobody was sad to see Bill Hall go.  He's one of those rare breeds of third basemen who can't hit or field so if Boston is counting on getting big production from Bill Hall this year then they are in big fucking trouble.

8:06PM- A-Rod doubles off Cameron on a line drive out by Marco Scutaro.  Cameron looked like he was safe.  Hey, it's early in the season for the umps too.

8:11PM- One question:  What the fuck is LeBron James doing in a private booth watching this game?  How do the people at Fenway allow that to happen?  He almost single-handedly brought the Cavs back to beat the Celtics today.  Second question:  What the fuck is he doing there with Dr. Dre?  Doesn't he have to check that with Jay-Z first to make sure it's OK.  And third question:  Why the fuck is Dr. Dre wearing a Red Sox jersey?  That ain't west coast, dawg.  Sheeeeeeeeeeyiiiit!! 

Oh BTW, Robinson Cano doubled off the left field wall and got moved over to 3rd by Jorge.  Maybe I should pay attention to the game again.

8:16PM- Swish draws a 2-out walk and Gardy comes up with a chance to drive in a run.  It's only the first game but you have to think everybody is judging every Gardner at-bat to determine if he can produce enough to play every day.  I know Randy Winn is interested right now.

8:21PM- And Gardner comes through!  RBI single to left after a brilliant 8-pitch at-bat.  Winn and Marcus Thames better get real comfortable on that bench.  Beckett follows up his loss in his battle with Gardner by almost hitting Jeter.  Classy guy, that Beckett.

8:23PM- RBI single for Jeter and the Yanks lead 4-1.  They are locked in on Beckett again.  His command of his fastball and sharpness on his off-speed stuff just seem to come and go.  Scott Schoenweis is now up in the Red Sox bullpen.  I doubt I spelled his name right but he pitches for Boston so who cares?

8:25PM- And the Yankees pull a perfect double steal and Gardner takes home for a 5-1 lead!!  When's the last time you saw the Yankees pull that move?  Kudos to Victor Martinez for throwing down to 2nd.  Thanks for that, chief.  Johnson goes down on strikes but the damage is done.  Let's see how CC responds in the bottom of the inning after another long break.

8:30PM- Great play by Teix at first and great play covering by CC to just get Pedroia at first.  For a big fat guy CC can move and he's definitely a great athlete.  Even in those parachute pants.

8:33PM- 3 up, 3 down for Carsten and we're onto the 5th inning.  He's looking good for at least 6, maybe 7.  Can't say the same for Beckett.

8:35PM- What's more useless? Interviewing NBA coaches between quarters or interviewing baseball managers between innings? I don't think I've ever gotten any valuable information from either and tonight's discussions with Joe and Terry Francona were no different.

8:37PM- FINALLY!!!! Some valuable info from the broadcast team as they tell us that Beckett has only gotten 2 swings and misses on almost 80 pitches to this point. That's less Sandy Koufax and more Carlos Silva for Beckett.

8:40PM- Teix and The Horse are a combined 0-6 tonight and both have popped up for outs on fastballs right down the middle. Thank God for Brett Gardner, huh?

8:46PM- A Cano single and a Posada walk and we've got us another 2-out rally. That's all for Beckett and now I'll get to see how good my spelling was on Scott Schoenweis.

8:49PM- Damn!  Missed the second "e" in Schoeneweis.  Oh well.

8:51PM- Schoeneweis fans Granderson and saves Beckett's bacon to get out of the 5th.  In case you're keeping score at home, Granderson is now batting .000 against lefties this year.

8:56PM- I'll admit it, I do like the ESPN Axis thing.  It's always cool when they switch from one camera view to another.  Doesn't matter if it's baseball, basketball, football; it works every time to show the situation that the announcers are talking about.  Well done, ESPN.  Now give us fans more stuff like that and less Coors Light 6-Pack of Questions with Mark Schlereth.

9:04PM- CC gets the first 2 batters in the inning then forgets about getting the 7-8-9 hitters out, allows 3 straight singles, and Gardner throws one away to make it 5-2 Yanks with the runners moving up to 2nd and 3rd on the error.  Big at-bat here for Ellsbury.

9:07PM- And CC freezes him with the curve.  Jacoby didn't look too athletic right there.  Suck it, Nike!

9:10PM- Final line on Beckett- 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 5 ER, 1 K, 94 pitches, 54 strikes.  "OOOF" and "DA!", ladies and gentlemen.

9:15PM- The Captain greets Ramon Ramirez rudely with a single up the middle and chops another digit off the countdown to 3,000 hits.

9:17PM- Johnson smokes one but right at Cameron in center and that's it for the top of the 6th.  If there has been a more unathletic-looking player on the Yankees in the last 15 years than Nick Johnson, I can't think of who it is.  He looks like the fat priest from "Constantine" who gets possessed and then freaks out and dies in the liquor store when all the booze starts coming out of him.

Whenever he retires from baseball, Johnson can definitely have a career playing "Fat Security Guard #2" in  action movies.

9:21PM- CC walks Pedroia to lead off the bottom of the inning.  His fastball command continues to be sketchy at best.  Of course it doesn't help when the guy you're pitching to is so small that he barely has a strike zone.

9:22PM- Dangerous territory here for CC; 90+ pitches, a runner on, and the heart of the order coming up for Boston.  He seems to be running of out gas pretty quickly and Dave Robertson is up in the 'pen.

9:27PM- A horrible decision by Joe leads to 2 runs for the Sox.  CC gave up a double to Martinez on a terrible changeup and instead of taking him out, Joe sends Eiland out to talk to him and lets him pitch to Youkilis.  Youkilis triples to right thanks to a terrible angle by Swish and it's 5-4 Yanks. 

9:30PM- Somebody needs to tell Joe that this isn't Spring Training anymore.  You can't fuck around and try to set up a lefty-lefty matchup when you have a dangerous righty who also happens to be the best hitter on the other team at the plate with 2 runners on in scoring position.  Awful.  Just awful.

9:33PM- Robertson gives up a first-pitch single and CC gets his 5th run tacked onto his total.  Not much Robertson could do there.  It's already been 2 1/2 hours and now we're back to square one.  I'd be more upset if I didn't have 3 more innings of the Red Sox bullpen to look forward to.

9:36PM- Robertson gets out of the rest of the inning unscathed.  Yanks have 3-4-5 hitters coming up in the 7th.

One last bit on CC.  He looked like he was rolling along with a 5-1 lead.  But the truth was he was struggling with his command just as much as Beckett did and his high pitch count was indicative of that.  It's obvious he isn't at full strength yet with how quickly he tired and lost it in the 5th and 6th innings and as the manager, Joe needs to see that and get him out immediately.

There's no need to work on a lefty-lefty matchup when your guy isn't out there with anything.  You risk getting him hurt with a muscle pull or taking a comebacker off the body, and more imporantly, you risk blowing the lead.  Thankfully CC didn't get hurt, but now the 4-run lead is back to a tie, the crowd is back in the game, and the Red Sox have a little confidence going forward.  A Spring Training move in a regular season game by Joe and it cost his team the lead.

9:40PM- A leadoff walk to Teix, a first-pitch double for The Horse, and the Yankees are back in business.  He didn't miss a homer by much on that shot.  And that'll be all for Ramon Ramirez as Okajima is coming in to face Cano.  It may be the first game of the year, but this baby looks to have all the makings of a typical Yanks-Sox late-summer 4 1/2-hour epic.

9:44PM- Teix is running on contact and scores on the Cano groundout. It wasn't ideal but it gets a run in. A-Rod also moves up to third on the play. Lots of good base running by the Yankees tonight.

9:45PM- And the good base running is rewarded with an RBI single by Jorge. Just like that the Yankees are back up 7-5. Jorge doesn't look like he's lost any bat speed tonight, even at 38. His hands have looked quick through the zone and he's keyed in to everything the pitchers have been trying to do.

9:49PM- Orel telling it like it is as he calls the Red Sox 'pen out for "wetting the bed" in this inning. ESPN didn't cut his mic off so he'll probably get his wee-wee spanked after the game by the suits for bad mouthing the socks. Swish-a-licious grounds into a DP to end the inning. Poo. Here comes the 7th inning stretch with Steven Tyler singing "God Bless America."

9:52PM- Jesus H. Christ, that was awful. I saw Aerosmith last summer and after that show I was pretty sure they were done. After watching Tyler struggle through that, I'm certain they are done. Dude just doesn't have the pipes anymore. A tip of the cap to that tight little number that harmonized with him on the ending though. Anybody know what her situation is?

9:58PM- Ellsbury goes down looking again and he's 0-4 with 2Ks.  BUT DID YOU SEE HIS TIME IN THE 5-10-5 SHUTTLE DRILL?!?!?!  ZOMG WHAT AN ATHLETE!!!!!!!!!!
10:00PM- And there's why you never put any value on Spring Training numbers.  Park hangs one over the middle and Pedroia parks it in the Monster seats to tie it at 7.  I don't want to get all racial here, but have the Yankees ever had an Asian pitcher who could handle the pressure of pitching in Boston??  Irabu couldn't do it.  Wang couldn't do it.  So far it doesn't look like Chan Ho Park can do it.
Is it too late to call up Mark Melancon?
10:04PM- Cano almost boots one at second and I almost shit my pants for the first time tonight.  Between that and his little jog session on his single earlier tonight, I'm already starting to wonder if this fucking guy is ever going to get it.
10:05PM- Park gives up the longest double in Fenway Park history to Youkilis and that's all for him.  Thank God.  After the game Joe is going to have to explain why he didn't stick with Dave Robertson to at least start the inning.  The guy is being talked about as the possible setup man for Mo and you're taking him out after 3 batters?  Kid hadn't even thrown that many pitches!!

10:10PM- Marte hasn't looked much better. Wild pitch on the first one and then a high and tight ball on 2-1 that Jorge can't handle and the Sox take an 8-7 lead on the passed ball. Cue the walk to Ortiz and Joe makes the walk out to the mound again.

10:12PM- That preview I wrote for the bullpen earlier this week? Yeah, you can forget about that.

10:16PM- Joba comes in to stop the bleeding and we go to the 8th. I never should have stopped drinking. Everything was fine when I was drinking. Damn you, work!! Why do you have to make me such a responsible person?!?

10:25PM- After getting Gardner and Jeter to start the inning, Daniel Bard loses it and walks Nick Johnson on 4 straight pitches. Now he has to face Teix and possibly A-Rod with men on base. In related news, I just opened another beer.

10:27PM- Teix shatters his bat and grounds out to end the inning. The rally beer failed. Fuck.

10:34PM- Oh gee!  Orel Hershiser thinks Joba looks better on the mound as a reliever.  What a concept!

10:36PM- Can somebody please test Mike Cameron for PEDs again?  The dude's gotta be on something.

10:40PM- Joba slowing down and getting picky with a runner on first.  Some things never change.  Ball 4 to Scutaro.

10:44PM- RBI single to right by Pedroia straight out of the Derek Jeter School of Going The Other Way.  There's the insurance run Boston needed.  Yanks are really going to need some magic to get 2+ runs off of Papelbon.  Even though he is the same guy who choked away Game 3 of their ALDS series against Anaheim last year.

10:54PM- Base hit from Jorge and there's still life for the Yankees with C-Grand coming up.  He could become a fan favorite already right here if he can do something big.

10:56PM- Granderson grounds out and that'll do it.

Great start but CC ran out of gas quick, Joe couldn't pull his head out of the sand fast enough to realize it, and the bullpen put up an absolutely horrid performance.

That's all I care to say about the game right now.  Check back tomorrow morning for more Opening Night analysis.  Thanks for playing along tonight, kids.  I'm out.

Tonight's Starting Lineups

We're 4 1/2 hours away.  Here are the lineups for each team tonight:

Boston Red Sox-

1) Jacoby Ellsbury- LF
2) Dustin Pedroia- 2B
3) Victor Martinez- C
4) Kevin Youkilis- 1B
5) David Ortiz- DH
6) Adrian Beltre- 3B
7) J.D. Drew- RF
8) Mike Cameron- CF
9) Marco Scutaro- SS

SP- Josh Becket- RHP

New York Yankees-

1) Derek Jeter- SS
2) Nick Johnson- DH
3) Mark Teixeira- 1B
4) Alex Rodriguez- 3B
5) Robinson Cano- 2B
6) Jorge Posada- C
7) Curtis Granderson- CF
8) Nick Swisher- RF
9) Brett Gardner- LF

SP- CC Sabathia- LHP

Little curious as to why Francona would bat Drew 7th behind Ortiz and Beltre instead of 5th ahead of them, but hey, whatever works for him.

Be back at 8/7 for the live blog...

Yankee Blogosphere Linkapalooza For The Week That Was (March 29-April 4)

Game starts in a little over 8 hours.  Can't even focus enough to write an intro for this week's batch 'o links.  Here they are.

- Chad Jennings at LoHud breaks down the early season plan for Phil Hughes.  The Yankees seem to have learned from their mistakes with Joba last year and I expect this season to go a lot more smoothly with Hughes.

- River Ave. Blues puts all of their season preview posts together for your viewing pleasure.  I had already read all of them so I was up to date.  But if you haven't, and shame on you if you haven't, feel free to check them out so you know what the F is going on before the first pitch tonight.

- Mike Axisa at River Ave. Blues takes a look at all the potential milestones on the horizon for certain Yankees this year.  Sure the A-Rod and Jeter ones are a big deal, but I personally like the ones that Jorge could reach and the company it would put him in as a catcher.  Should be interesting to see how much HOF talk Jorge generates after he finally retires.

- Dan Reiner at Bronx Baseball Daily examines the Yankees' season schedule and points out the easier stretches and more difficult patches that await them as well as highlighting key series.  I love how the season starts and ends in Boston.  Hopefully by the time October 1 rolls around the Yankees have already reached their magic number.

- Jay at Fack Youk collects all the AL East previews they did this week with great interviews with guests representing each team.  Of course, the most important feature of this post is the fact that everybody picked the Yankees to win the division.

- Fernando Alejandro at the always hilarious Respect Jeter's Gangster discusses the last-minute preparations that some of the Yankees are going through for tonight.  Sometimes those little things are the difference between winning and losing.

- Moshe Mandel at The Yankee U checks out the group of writers who will be covering the Bombers for the new ESPN NY and he is not impressed.  I'm just shocked ESPN even allowed this site to go up.  After all, their MO is always to trash the Yankees and slurp the Red Sox, so why didn't they just go with a second ESPN Boston?

- Moshe's colleague at TYU, Chris H., discusses something once considered unthinkable in Yankeeland, that being trading Joba Chamberlain.  I wouldn't trade Joba right now, especially with the lingering injuries to Ace and Marte, but since the Yankees have made it clear that they have absolutely no clue what they're going to do with Joba long-term, talking about trading him makes just as much sense as anything else.

It ain't my best batch, but come on, it's Opening Night.  There are bigger things on the horizon today.

** Check back at 8/7 Central for the award-winning AB4AR live blog of the game.  You'll only have yourself to blame if you miss it. **