Yankees Win Two of Three in Oakland June 14, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Ian Kennedy, Oakland A's, Series Recaps.
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Overall, the Yankees did well in Oakland. The first game was one where Wang came up huge and regained his form. (See here for more details.) In the second game, a Jason Giambi error didn’t help Darrell Rasner, who took a page out of the IPK book and started nibbling, getting shelled for 7ER in 3.2IP. At that point, the rest of the game didn’t matter. However, birthday boy Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam for the Yankees’s only runs in the last game of the series against Justin Duscherer. Matsui’s slam was the only time a Yankee has ever hit a grand slam on his birthday.
The pitching was generally good, as Wang had a great first game and Andy Pettitte pitched eight innings of 1-run ball. Both Wang and Petttitte returned to form, which is nice to see and hopefully continues. The offense wasn’t great (3, 4, and 4 runs scored) , but it was enough to win. The defense was also good save for two Jason Giambi errors.
However, Rasner’s outing was troubling. His prior performance this year wasn’t sustainable, with a 41% GB rate with only a 15.6% K/PA rate. Before his latest performance his FIP was almost a run higher than his ERA (now it is lower). Moreover, his HR/FB rate is remarkably low at 4%, less than the league average at 11%. Now that he has seemingly touched earth, it remains to be seen how long he gets before he gives way to Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy.
Dramatic Endings Are Nice, But Questions Remain June 7, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Dave Eiland, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes.
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In two of the last three, the Yankee game has ended with a walk-off hit of some sort. On Thursday, it was a monster Jason Giambi homerun 15 rows back in the upper deck, and today it was a Johnny Damon double down the line to beat the Royals. Giambi’s homer came on a day that was almost lost and ruined by Chien-Ming Wang, who continues his struggles, and Damon’s 6-6 day (tying an American League record for most hits in a 9 inning game–truly amazing!) and his last double made everything right for the Yankees, who bunted Derek Jeter in the first inning (why???) and Andy Pettitte. Pettitte’s struggles continue, as he gave up 10ER and two HRs after surrendering three leads in his last start in Minnesota.
Wang and Pettitte are the anchors of this rotation. They both have enough stuff to get it done, Wang of course moreso than Pettitte. Wang’s GAS (glove side shoulder), according to pitching coach Dave Eiland and catcher Jorge Posada, has started to fly open, preventing his trademark sinker from sinking, and inhibiting proper command. Pettitte has lost about 2MPH from his fastball, now being 87-89 instead of 88-92 like last year. That prevents proper separation from his cutter, which checks in at 84-87, more often on the higher side than the lower side on that range. That can be explained by age and throwing the cutter so much, as throwing the cutter can cause reduction in velocity earlier than usual. In addition, he also looses command of his cutter at times, preventing him from establishing it and thus his other pitches. However, he doesn’t use his other pitches enough at times. He can go too cutter-heavy and then hitters know what to look for, so they just sit on it. He needs to use his curveball and changeup more, and stop being quite so desperate.
This raises the question of the effectiveness of Eiland. This year was supposed to be a transition year, with the offense a year older and Mike Mussina supposed to be somewhere between his stellar 2006 and shaky 2007. Chien-Ming was supposed to win 19 games (again) and Andy Pettitte was supposed to solidly hold the fort for the younger players. Phil Hughes was supposed to take a step forward from his 2007 debut, and Ian Kennedy, while not expected to put up numbers like he did in the minors and September of 2007, was supposed to be a reliable #4/#5 starter.
Almost none of it has happened consistently. Mussina has been great and leads the AL in wins with his slow, slower, slowest approach (Jamie Moyer, anyone?). Hughes and Kennedy are on the DL right now, and both were lit up for almost the whole season (though Kennedy was improving before his DL stint). Wang started well before flopping since the beginning of May, and Pettitte has been looking bad since the Mets series. Even Joba, who has done great, has walked almost 4.5 per 9. Eiland was supposed to be great, as he worked with the Big 3 in Scranton. However, retrospectively speaking, the three weren’t together for more than a month. Hughes was in Scranton for the first three weeks of the season before getting promoted, and was already an uber-prospect. He then returned for two rehab starts in July. Kennedy spent half of August and September there, while Chamberlain was there for a week. So his impact on the trio can’t be that big. Eiland, a former pitcher himself, seems like a nice guy, but in my book he’s on a short leash. I’d like to give him until Independence Day to see what happens. Wang and Pettitte should straighten themselves out by then, Kennedy should be back, and we’ll see how keeps Mussina keeps on doing. By then J.B. Cox and/or David Robertson is certain to be in the bigs, and we’ll see how that goes.
Andy Pettitte’s Slidestep March 8, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in 2008 Spring Training, Andy Pettitte.
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In the YES broadcast yesterday against the Astros, I heard Michael Kay mention Andy Pettitte’s new slidestep. He saw that, although Pettitte’s 5 pickoffs last year led the league, it wasn’t as high a total as it used to be because baserunners picked things up from scouting reports that helped them guess when and when not to steal. The slidestep is meant to take away that ability to guess. However, the slidestep rushes the delivery, leaving a higher chance that the ball would be high in the strikezone, which would lead to increased home runs allowed.
At the time, Pettitte nicked speed demon Michael Bourn with a pitch, and journeyman Victor Diaz was at the plate. Using the slidestep, on the next pitch, Diaz hit a homer the other way. You might ask, why is this important? Well, Andy Pettitte has never been given up many home runs in his career–about 20 in a full season’s worth. The slidestep leads to increased home run numbers (see: Lilly, Ted) and, coupled with Pettitte turning 36 in April (meaning diminished stuff), his stats might decline.
Clemens, McNamee Spar Before Congress February 14, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Brian McNamee, Roger Clemens, Steroids.
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Yesterday, Roger Clemens and Brian McNamee gave their sworn testimonies to Congress, and the egocentric Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Cal.) et al. Andy Pettitte’s testimony proved to be very damaging for Clemens, as Pettitte claims that he and Clemens spoke in 1999 or 2000 about Clemens’s use of HGH. Clemens snidely replied to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), “Mr. Congressman, Andy Pettitte is my friend…I think Andy misheard” and later “I think he misremembers our conversation”. Brian McNamee, on the other hand, was grilled as a “drug dealer” and some of his statements were found to be lies. As Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) found lie after lie of McNamee’s he said, “We don’t know what to believe,. I know one thing I don’t believe, and that’s you.” Particularly damaging to McNamee is his dishonesty, police offer/drug dealer past, and his involvement in a 2001 sexual assault case in Florida.
Someone is lying–there is no doubt about that. Clemens’s credibility is damaged with his accusing everyone else, and his wife’s own admitted HGH use, and his instinct to over-prove himself. McNamee’s credibility is damaged with the phone call, as well as the reasons stated above. My instinct tells me that, despite his murkiness, McNamee tells the truth, and Clemens is lying. More than that, my crystal ball tells me the syringes and needles say all. Why McNamee would wait so long–besides the fact that he even kept it–is besides me, but Clemens was still using McNamee’s services until December, some time after the report came out. The Yankee fan (yet underdog fan) in me wants Clemens to win, but it’s just too much of a burden of proof.
In side news, Andy Pettitte also admitted to using HGH in 2004, supplied by his father, Tom Pettitte. The younger Pettitte was recovering from elbow surgery and wanted to protect his father (recovering from multiple cardiac conditions) from the media frenzy, explaining his omission of this fact. Tom Pettitte obtained the HGH from a gym where Koby Clemens also trains, according to the NY Daily News. That year proved how much of a competitor Andy was–he was throwing 85 or 86 MPH, and, even with a damaged elbow, through his curveball and cutter through the pain (that is, if he even had one that day). This just further damages the “family and religious man and competitor” image–sad.
Now, all of this gossip aside, I’d like to know why this matters. Why does America’s tax money go for an egomaniac congressman looking to make headlines and investigating things that happened 5-10 years ago? This isn’t even a business/fraud issue–baseball is exempt from many of the antitrust/business laws of which other industries are subjected. Fair, America wants to know–but let them do it at their own peril. The thought behind this is that someone will come clean with the threat of perjury, and some one is still committing the crime. No one will ever know for sure what happened, unless someone admits their lies. This is about as fruitless as trying to figure out who killed John F. Kennedy, which I curiously and amateurishly attempted to do (to no avail).
Mailbag #2 January 27, 2008Posted by Pablo Zevallos in 30-rule for Pitchers, Alan Horne, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Ian Kennedy, Jeff Marquez, Joba Chamberlain, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, Robinson Cano.
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Presenting…our second mailbag.
What will the Yankees do with the six major league starters they have on the roster? Does Kennedy get demoted? Or do they skip starts with Chamberlain and Hughes using Kennedy to fill in?–Eric
No one has a definitive answer on that one yet. I think they could extend Hughes to about 160 innings, considering he threw ~146 in 2006 and ~110 this year. Ian Kennedy will be able to throw ~195 innings after throwing ~165 this year. Joba Chamberlain, who threw 112 innings this year, won’t go more than about 140 innings this year. Assuming a healthy starter throws 200 innings a year, and Andy Pettitte and Chien Ming-Wang match their innings total from last year, that leaves 147 innings to be accounted for. This number increases if you account for Joba Chamberlain either starting or finishing the year in the bullpen–let’s say he pitches 100 in the rotation and 40 in the bullpen. That now leaves us with 187 innings to fill. Mike Mussina doesn’t have the stuff, endurance, or adaptability to pitch that much, so let’s say he pitches 140 innings. That now leaves us with 47 innings. Jeff Marquez and Alan Horne will probably be major-league ready by October, and either could pitch in the bullpen in 2008 to start or end the year, and their innings cap will be around 180-185, so either one could step in. So, if you really think about it, you would need seven pitchers to get through the year–meaning Mike Mussina needs to come through.
Maybe you could show some of the commenter’s why the 30 rule is new wave. Look up just a few of them;
W. Ford 112 r, 207, 210, 230 ave.
B. Turley 7.3r, 60.3, 247.3, 212 ave.
M. Stottlemyer, 96.0r, 291.0, 252.7 ave.
F. Peterson, 215.0r, 181.3, 220 ave.
Pettitte, 175.0r, 221.0, 215.7 ave.
Moose, 87.7r, 241.0, 227 ave.
Now, I understand there is much more money involved with pitchers. If the other guys could do it, why can’t the big 3? I realize that one would have to evaluate each pitcher on the merits of pushing them (just a little bit) longer.–Old Ranger
The 30-rule is in place because studies on pitchers have proven that increasing a pitcher’s woarkload by my more than 30 innings a year gives him a significantly higher injury risk for the following season. Throwing a baseball isn’t a natural motion–throwing underhand is. Since most pitchers pitch over-the-top, there is increased stress on the shoulder and elbows when pitching, so it must be controlled. Otherwise, again, there will be injury.
Will Cano be keeping his number, 24? or switching back to 22?–Aubrey
Probably 24–I see no reason to change numbers.
Mitchell Report–Reaction, Analysis, and More December 21, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Mitchell Report, Roger Clemens, Steroids, Yankees Dynasty 1996-2001.
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Last Thursday, MLB’s so-called Mitchell Report was released. It named 86 players accused of using steroids, these names coming from clubbie Kirk Radomski, trainer Brian McNamee, the FL pharmacy raid, and the BALCO raid. While these were the recommendations (those with (CBA) label indicate a need in a change in the CBA to permit these changes):
1. The Commissioner ought to create a Department of Investigations. (CBA)
2. The Commissioner’s office should more effectively cooperate with law enforcement agencies. (CBA)
3. The Commissioner’s office should actively use the clubs’ powers, as employers, to investigate violations. (CBA)
4. All clubs should have clear, written and well-publicized policies for reporting information relating to possible performance enhancing substance violations. (CBA)
5. Logging packages sent to players at Major League ballparks (CBA)
6. Background investigations of prospective clubhouse personnel
7. Random drug testing of clubhouse personnel
8. A hot line for reporting anonymous tips
9. Top draft prospects should be tested prior to the Major League Draft
10. The design and implementation of the educational program should be centralized with the Independent Program Administrator
11. Spring training programs should include testimonials and other speakers and presentations
12. Explain the health risks in context and provide education on alternative methods to achieve the same results
13. Players need to understand the non-health effects of buying performance enhancing substances from street dealers and “Internet pharmacies”.
14. Prominently display posters about performance enhancing substance use prevention .
15. The program should be independent.
16. The program should be transparent.
17. There should be adequate year-round, unannounced drug testing.
18. The program should be flexible enough to employ best practices as they develop.
19. The program should continue to respect the legitimate rights of players.
20. The program should have adequate funding. (Source)
Now, there are a lot of recommendations here, and that’s really good for the league, but no one would care if there weren’t any names listed in the report. Eighty-six baseball players from the late 1990s until now were accused of using steroids or HGH. Of those 86 players, 22 are/were current and former Yankees. Those Yankees are (in alphabetical order) Ricky Bones, Kevin Brown, Jose Canseco, Roger Clemens, Bobby Estalella, Jason Giambi, Jason Grimsley, Glenallen Hill, Darren Holmes, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Josias Manzanillo, Hal Morris, Daniel Naulty, Denny Neagle, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Mike Stanton, Randy Velarde, Ron Villone, Rondell White, and Todd Williams (Source). To my understanding, only Clemens, Justice, Stanton, Knoblauch, Pettitte, White, Giambi, Grimsley, Williams, Canseco, and Naulty juiced while with the Yankees.
Each of these players have different steroid tales. Some were hard-core juicers (allegedly Clemens, Estallela, Canseco, Giambi etc.), others were one-timers or two-timers (Pettitte, Hill, Williams, etc.) and some deny it (Clemens, Justice, etc.). The 86 players in the report are about 1% of the major league players from that time period (1998-2007). It is known that many, many more players used steroids and/or HGH. So, despite steroids being thoroughly unhealthy, and, with HGH, illegal to take without special circumstances, the playing field was largely level at the time, as many people were juicing.
The whole point of banning steroids in sports is to have a level playing field. But, as we know from the steroid era, steroids were the level playing field. Ethically, of course, I am against using steroids, because it is healthy and theoretically doesn’t level the playing field, but isn’t it symbolic that arguably the best hitter of all time (Barry Bonds) and the best pitcher of all time (Clemens) used steroids? Yes. It means that many, likely a majority, of players with inferior skill levels were also using steroids.
Steroids were a fact of baseball life in the 1990s and early 2000s. These players made a mistake. It’s easy to say everyone should be punished, but every case is individual. Per Andy Pettitte, he was trying to rehab his elbow, and only took it twice. Per Glenallen Hill, he never took the case of HGH sent to him by Kirk Radomski. Of course, many were trying to gain a theoretical edge, which is to catch up to what the first steroid users were using.
The steroid cycle is a vicious cycle started by the first juicers who did want to gain an edge. Many others followed to catch up. Not everyone here is a bad guy, just someone who wanted to make a career for himself. It’s unfair to the other fringe players who didn’t get a chance while the steroid users did.
At the same time, no one forced anyone to take steroids. Each individual player had the choice to take steroids or to not take steroids. Each player made the decision to hang out with the juicing crowd or to hang out with the right crowd. Steroids could have been a one-and-done thing by some random fringy pitcher from the ’70s. But it is the natural human desire to be great that has brought many down. Then again, America is forgiving country, and we should forgive, forget, and move on, even if the media won’t.
Now, to reflect on the Yankees side, the Yankees were hit very hard. Many of the key players during the late-’90s Yankees dynasty were suspected and accused of using steroids, and that really taints the Yankee greatness of that dynasty. It’s impossible to take championships away and try to realistically figure out what would happen in the event that there would be no juicers in the Yankees dynasty and only clean players, or any other complex idea such as that. While we all want to be the first to put the asterisk on Barry Bonds’s home run record, we don’t know how many home runs he hit because of steroids. Might as well figure out who killed John F. Kennedy. This will be all the information we’ve got, since the Grimsley and Radomski affidavits will be largely the same thing.
Again, it’s best for us to put this in its rightful place–the past. Baseball has to prevent anything like this from ever happening again. It has to be a watchdog for steroids, and be stricter in punishments and policy. Let the clean era in baseball begin!
Andy Pettitte Declines Option; Tejada to Yankees? November 11, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Chicago White Sox, Joe Crede, Johan Santana, Johnny Damon, Kyle Farnsworth, Melky Cabrera, Miguel Tejada, Mike Mussina.
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On Wednesday, Andy Pettitte declined his $16M player option for 2008. This was a move purely to allow him time to decide whether to retire or not. With this, we see that the drama last winter was not all posturing and fake, but real deliberation. The Yankees, in short, would be screwed without having Pettitte on their team, as he provides a healthy lefty who always competes, especially in big games. He is a stopper, but no ace. Now, the Yankees would have Ian Kennedy to take his place in the rotation, but that would force Mike Mussina to start (ugh).
On Thursday, a rumor surfaced: Miguel Tejada to the Yankees. I am not enamored with that deal. In Tejada we have a declining, now league average shortstop that would only be average at third at best, who would not excel in a left-handed hitters’ park, and makes $13 M over the next two years. Even if it takes Kyle Farnsworth off our backs, I’d rather get rid of him for something else than Tejada, considering that it would also take Melky Cabrera in that deal. We can see that Cabrera is increasingly available, but I like what he offers and would only trade him in a Miguel Cabrera situation–Yes, I would rather see him in New York if it were for Johan Santana, because I am not enamored with Santana for reasons I will explain in another post.
Crede-for-Damon dead? It looks like Joe Crede for Johnny Damon talk is dying. Good. This would have been a mismatched trade, and the Yankees certainly would have been on the losing end. Besides, the White Sox have to decide what to do with the man–offer him arbitration (in which he would likely make the roughly $4M he did last year if he accepts), non-tender him, or re-sign him long term and move Josh Fields to LF. No matter what they do, the White Sox aren’t going anywhere next year, either.
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Had the midges not attacked, we would be leading this series. But let’s not talk of what might have been.
Had the Yankees lost last night, we would be eliminated and Joe Torre out. Again, though, let’s not talk of what might have been.
Roger Clemens started last night, lasting a mere 2.2 innings while giving up a run in all of them. His hamstring flared up, and there is some likelihood he’ll never pitch again (if he doesn’t, at least he struck out some one to end his career.) Phil Hughes then came in, and after allowing a fly ball double to Jhonny Peralta in the third, he threw a very solid 3.1 innings, striking out 4 and walking none, and allowing only one other hit. If Clemens doesn’t pitch in the ALCS, should the Yankees get that far, count Hughes for Game 3 and Ian Kennedy (remember him?) for Game 4.
However, the momentum changed in the fifth. With the Yankees cutting the Indian lead to 3-2, Johnny Damon steps up to the plate with Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera on base. He homers, and, seemingly out of nowhere, the Yankees have a 5-3 lead. Then, in the next inning, with the bases loaded on a questionable IBB for Hideki Matsui, Robinson Cano singles to right, but Trot Nixon lets the ball gets past him and all runners score. With the score then 8-3, the Yankees all but won the game.
Chien-Ming Wang will start tonight, and Andy Pettitte will likely start on Wednesday. However, with Clemens likely out for the rest of the postseason, the Yankees can add another pitcher to take his spot? The four candidates are Ian Kennedy, Chris Britton, Edwar Ramirez, and Ron Villone. It seems, after the first two games, the Yankees needed a long reliever, so that goes for Villone. Joe Torre’s preference for AAAA arms whom he tries to ride out, plus his changeup, states Ramirez’s case. Ian Kennedy gives them another starter, but he has never relieved, shouldn’t relieve with his finesse stuff, and we really don’t need a starter until the ALCS. Britton…well, I have previously written about him. The best bet is for Villone to make it, as he is a lefty, anyway.
George Steinbrenner on multiple topics:
On Joe Torre: “His job is on the line. I think we’re paying him a lot of money. He’s the highest-paid manager in baseball, so I don’t think we’d take him back if we don’t win this series.”
On A-Rod: “I think we’ll re-sign him. I think he’s going to have a good run the rest of the (postseason). I think he realizes New York is the place to be, the place to play. A lot of this (postseason) is laying on his shoulders, you know, but I think he’s up to it.”
On his health: “I’m doing all right. I’m fine.” (Courtesy of Peter Abraham)
Yankees Sweep Baltimore, then Lose Heartbreaker in 14 September 22, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Baltimore Orioles, Brian Bruney, Chien-Ming Wang, Edwar Ramirez, Greg Zaun, Hideki Matsui, Jason Frasor, Joe Kennedy, Melky Cabrera, Mike Mussina, Phil Hughes, Roy Halladay.
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The Yankees swept Baltimore between Monday and Wednesday, receiving great pitching from Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina, and Andy Pettitte. The offense clicked in the first two games before Brian Burres shut down the Yankees again despite losing. Hideki Matsui seems to have climbed out of his funk, while Melky Cabrera continues to sink into his. A-Rod set his career-high in RBI’s last night, but before his 2-6 yesterday he was slumping as well.
Yesterday, Chien-Ming Wang gave up 6 H and 2 runs (1 earned) in 7 innings, K’ing 4 and walking 1. Edwar Ramirez relieved him only to give up another home run. However, no offense through the first 8 innings had Roy Halladay, Toronto’s ace, pitching in the 9th inning with a 4-run lead. With an error by Aaron Hill, the Yankees then crept up and tied it in the 9th, before sending it to extras.
The Yankees only managed a hit and a walk against the 5 Toronto pitchers, and while the Yankee pitchers were on a similar pace, Brian Bruney, gave up a homer to Greg Zaun (sad, ain’t it?) and then Joe Kennedy (not, not JFK’s daddy) and Jason Frasor shut them down. Horrible loss
Yankees Lose in Toronto, Go Eat Beans in Boston September 15, 2007Posted by Pablo Zevallos in Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Chien-Ming Wang, Chris Britton, GCL Yankees, Hideki Okajima, Ian Kennedy, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Veras, Robinson Cano, Sean Henn.
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The short-handed Yankees lost in the bottom of the ninth, 2-1, with another poor offensive showing. Ian Kennedy was spectacular again, with a line of 7IP 1H 1 ER 7K. AJ Burnett gave up 7 hits in 8 innings, but K’ed 8 and dominated the Yankees. The Yankees weren’t prepared to play extras, so they sent Chris Britton out to lose the game and go to Boston. You may disagree, but come on, it only took five pitches, and it wasn’t exactly a heart breaker.
The Yankees were poised for a blowout loss yesterday, with an ineffective Andy Pettitte starting and Jose Veras and Sean (The Egg-Laying) Henn, then being plagued by Derek Jeter’s throw and Jason Giambi’s glove…or lack of it. After it being 5-1 after four and 7-2 after six, Boston sent out the first-half wunderkind, Hideki Okajima, in the eighth inning. He served up back-to-back jacks to Jason Giambi and Robinson Cano, and then walked the badly slumping Melky Cabrera before everything unraveled, and Johnny Damon (4-6, 2 2B) as well as Derek Jeter got on, and by then it was 7-5. Jonathan Papelbon came in, but that was no relief. Bobby Abreu doubled in the tying runs, and he stole second. A-Rod then singled him in, and after seemingly having lost the game, the Yankees won, 8-7.
All Boston has to do is win one, but they still have a chance. Chien-Ming Wang probably will win today, considering how the Yankees hit Josh Beckett, but I have little confidence in Roger Clemens, as the Yankees will need their longmen (Kei Igawa, Ross Ohlendorf, Sean Henn, Jeff Karstens, Matt DeSalvo) ready in case something happens to the Rocket.
Prediction for today: 6-4 win.
Prediction for Sunday: 8-4 loss.