It always looks easy when this offense clicks.
Mike Mussina got off to a rocky start but rebounded nicely and Alex Rodriguez, Xavier Nady and Jason Giambi all went deep off Brian Bannister within the first two innings as the Yanks pummeled the Royals 15-6
at The Stadium. The Bombers fell behind 3-0 in the top of the first, but scored six runs in the bottom half of the inning, four more in the second and one more in the third to cruise to an easy victory. Derek Jeter collected four hits and Cody Ransom smacked a pinch-hit home run in the seventh (his first plate appearance in pinstripes) to complete the assault.
The Yanks shaved another game off Boston's wild card lead and now trail the Red Sox by five games.The Good:
Alex Rodriguez. The mood at the ballpark was hopeful, but guarded when A-Rod stepped into the box with two runners on and one out in the bottom of the first. The Yanks hadn't been scoring runs, were already down by three and had a knack for leaving runners on in bunches. Rodriguez erased the deficit and the apprehension with one swing of the bat. His 28th long-ball of the season drew the Yanks even and helped open the offensive floodgates. A-Rod has had a rough August (.200 with seven ribbies heading into Sunday), but broke out of it in a big way. Let's hope it's the start of a hot streak. Rodriguez finished 3 for 3 with 2 walks, 3 runs scored and 5 RBIs.
Jason Giambi. The Giambino may have 13 career grand slams, but he's struggled with the bases loaded this season. Giambi had just one hit in 14 plate appearances with the sacks full this year, but that one hit was a home run. He got his second hit on Sunday and it also cleared the bases. Jay Jay's grand slam in the second gave the Yankees a 10-3 lead and really put the game on ice. Giambi has gone back to the 'Stache and so far it seems to be working. It's a total win-win. Giambi finished 1 for 4 with a run scored and 4 ribbies.
Mike Mussina. The Royals didn't exactly scald the ball against Moose in the first, but still managed to push across three first-inning runs. The Yankee offense gave Mussina a three-run cushion after one, but No. 35 fell right back into trouble in the top of the second. Kansas City opened the frame with runners on the corners and no outs. Then Mike turned it on. Mussina wiggled out of the inning without giving up a run and shut the Royals down the rest of the way. In fact, The Moose was perfect after the second. The Yanks gave away what should have been a win in Mussina's last start in Minnesota, but the bats made sure that this one stuck. Mussina improved to 16-7 with this: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K.The Bad:
Chris Britton. It didn't really matter and it's not like Britton is a premier pitcher in the league, but he should feel rotten about giving up a home run to the light-hitting Ross Gload. Gload entered the game with two homers on the year, but took Britton deep to right in the ninth for his third round-tripper of the season. Britton should feel even worse that it happened after a one-out walk. Again, it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but a 15-4 win seems more convincing than 15-6. But that's just my opinion. Britton's afternoon: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR.The Ugly:
Battered and bruised. Jeter has had a rough 2008 and just when it looked like he was turning a corner another minor setback. The Captain was gunning for his fifth hit of the day when he was hit by a pitch in the seventh. The ball appeared to catch DJ on the left elbow. Jeter took his base and later scored the Yankees 12th run of the afternoon, but left the game after that. I doubt this latest hit-by-pitch will keep Jeter out of the lineup (in fact, I would be downright shocked if it did), but it seems like No. 2 has been taking a beating this season.
And an old friend seems ready to rejoin the Yanks. Hideki Matsui
had 15 at-bats in a simulated game on Sunday and his left knee appears to be fine. "Every time he would get to bat, it would just blow up, but it hasn't this
time," Girardi said. "So far the knee is good and we'll make a decision
tomorrow (Monday)." I'm surprised that Godzilla was able to work himself back to the big club. I'm sure Matsui will only be used as a designated hitter when he returns and that could make for some interesting lineup decisions. Still, Matsui is a good clutch-hitter and the Yanks haven't exactly excelled in that department this season.
Monday is an off-day for the Yanks as they head to Toronto and will begin an important three-game set beginning Tuesday night. Darrell Rasner (5-9, 5.18 ERA) will go against A.J. Burnett (15-9, 4.67 ERA) in the opener. Burnett has won all three of his August starts despite posting an appalling 6.11 ERA. I don't know how teams beat up on this guy -- the Yanks can't seem to touch him. Burnett is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in two starts against the Bombers this season and is 5-2 with a 2.85 ERA in eight career starts against the Yanks. Rasner pitched well enough to win in his last start against the Twins (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R [2 earned]), but came up on the short end of a 4-2 Yankee loss. The Ras is 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in two career starts in Toronto. In fact, Rasner's last "W" came against the Blue Jays in Toronto on July 12.
I'll take more of the same please, Darrell.