Random questions that crossed my mind as the Yankees lost both weekend games to the Red Sox, dropping the series in the process…
–Is C.C. adaptable? The Yankees ace has submitted another elite season and is currently 10-3 with a 3.57 ERA. But the hefty lefty struggled to adjust when the start of Saturday’s game was delayed more than two hours by thunderstorms. C.C. was tagged for three runs in the first inning and three more in the fifth, putting the Yankees in a deep hole. Ominously, lefty Adrian Gonzalez did most of the damage, connecting on a two-run double in the first and a three-run homer in the fifth.
For the most part, C.C. is a rock. It’s why the Yankees have given him the most lucrative contract for a pitcher in MLB history. But there have been other big games where C.C. was forced to alter his regular routine and did not step up. Watching C.C. struggle, I was reminded of Game 3 of last year’s ALDS against the Tigers, when C.C. faced off against Justin Verlander because Game 1 had been rained out a few days before. Sabathia gave up four earned runs in 5.1 innings on seven hits and (gulp) six walks. His line Saturday: six innings, six earned runs, eight hits, two walks. Sabathia’s seeming inability to excel on the fly is troubling because it’s impossible to ameliorate. Simply put, it’s not a problem — until it is.
–How sweet was Mark Teixeira’s home run off Vincente Padilla? About as sweet as a home run in a losing effort can be. Going into the at-bat, Padilla — an ugly, repellant motherf—er if I’ve ever seen one — had hit Teixeira three times in 14 plate appearances. That’s beyond a statistical anomaly, that’s deliberate headhunting. The third time was earlier this season, and Teixeira ripped Padilla in his remarks to the media after the game. Ever an epitome of class, Padilla responded: “I think he [Teixeira] would be better off playing a women’s sport.”
Which made Teixeira’s two-out, two-run, game-tying home run off Padilla in the eighth inning Saturday all the more sweet. Batting before Teixeira, Curtis Granderson hit two consecutive foul ball home runs into the second deck in right field — the second ball curved right of the foul pole by all of six feet. With the crowd buzzing from the back-to-back near misses, Padilla eventually struck out Granderson, setting the stage for Teixeira’s at-bat. Down 2-1 in the count, Padilla was forced to come over the plate with a fastball, and Teixeira crushed it to right field to tie the game 6-6. The highlight of the weekend, for sure.
–Is Pedro Ciriaco the newest obscure Yankee killer? Anyone who’s followed the Yankees for the past 20 years can recite the litany of otherwise forgettable players who absolutely MURDERED the Yankees during their careers.
Jay Buhner: Career .254/.359/.494. Against the Yankees .283/.379/.578 (and every hit seemed to be a back-breaker)
Howie Kendrick: Career .290/.327/.427. Against the Yankees .339/.396/.469
Shea Hillenbrand: Career .284/.321/.440. Against the Yankees .327/.357/.485
Bill Mueller: Career .291/.373/.425. Against the Yankees .314/.386/.529
Ciriaco, the speedy Boston utility fielder, has filled in more than admirably at DH for the injured David Ortiz. In 16 games, he’s put up splits of .343/.356/.480 with 16 runs produced. Five of those games were against the Yankees, and to quote Stuart Scott, he’s been riDONKculous against the Bombers. How good? Try .500/.522/.682, with 13 runs produced in five games. After Ciriaco floated a deep fly ball to center field that Curtis Granderson misplayed into a go-ahead triple in the ninth inning Saturday, it was hard not to think that Ciriaco has the chops to join Buhner & Co. When he blooped a go-ahead single in the 10th inning Sunday — his second game-winning hit in two nights — that was enough for me. Now it’s on you Brian Cashman — we’ve got to get Ciriaco off the Red Sox. I know a guy…
—What’s Japanese for ‘irony’? The Yankees’ biggest weakness this season has been hitting with runners in scoring position. Enter Ichiro Suzuki, sporting a grotesque .163/.240/.244 mark with RISP this year. In Sunday’s 3-2 loss, Ichiro came up three times with a runner in scoring position and two outs, five runners on in total. All three times, Ichiro made an out. Natch.