Want to win vs. must win

This is a series the Yankees want to win and the Rays have to win. As for tonight’s pitching matchup, this says a lot: A.J. hasn’t lost since June 20; James Shields hasn’t won since June 20.

Shields was the Rays opening day starter. He’s 6-6 with nine no-decisions. He closed the first half with one win in his last six starts.

A.J. has been, in a word, dominant. Since that disaster in Boston on June 9, he’s gone 5-1 in seven starts and allowed a total of 10 earned runs.

We’re not always into numbers telling the whole story, but the performance of these two has gone a long way in the respective seasons of their teams.

A.J. also has made a habit out of getting out of self-induced jams, whether it’s a couple of walks or what he just did in the first inning – after his throwing error allowed Crawford to go from first to third with one out, he struck out Longoria and got Zobrist to fly out. (Even if Swisher made it a bit of an adventure.)

Hideki Matsui: Wonder what they’d call that slide in Japan. It was almost a belly flop in reverse. Like a butt flop. At the very least, it’s something his teammates will make fun of. Of course, they’ll also appreciate that he busted it from first to score on the Posada double.

The Rays: According to Elias, Tampa Bay’s .524 combined winning percentage of the teams remaining on its schedule is second-highest, behind the Jays. It’s going to be almost impossible for the Rays to duplicate last season’s magic. They do have 36 of their remaining 63 games at home, including tonight’s.

Michael Kay: He went with chicken fingers and fries from the concession stand for dinner. Kenny ate in the dining room. We had some fries, added onto Kay’s order. Somehow there are peaches, bananas and cherries in the booth, which is much healthier than the usual fare. Where are the Snickers?

CC and CC:
We’ll be there Wednesday for “Catching up with Carl Crawford,” when Sabathia joins him for an event to encourage more African-American youth to play baseball. Both CCs are excited about it. We’ll have coverage on the BP and pregame shows.

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Update (9:42 p.m.): Another thing about A.J.-Shields: A.J. entered the game with a 3.74 ERA. Shields’ was 3.70. Shields, for whom run support obviously has been an issue, lost two games in April despite giving up three or fewer runs. But more recently, Shields hasn’t been as stingy. In his last four starts, including tonight, Shields has given up 17 runs. A.J. has given up 16 earned runs in his last 11 starts.

It really does come down to pitching (and defense), doesn’t it? The Yankees are getting big pitching performances and the Rays aren’t. That’s the difference between these teams.

9 Comments

Kim- So did you guys happen to capture the 4 people at Saturday’s game that were part of the Michael Kay Fan Club? I have to say it was creative how they had their seat numbers included as part of the poster along with a snazzy photo of Kay himself. Who would have known such a thing existed? I had to test out the zoom on the camera and the photo came out quite well. It’s on the blog in case they didnt show it.
http://alleitersbullpencatcher.blogspot.com

There is such a thing as a Michael Kay fan club? Saints preserve us!! How much is he paying these lonely souls to be part of the wretched few? Certainly he isn’t about to share the booth bounty with them….no….those chicken finger and fries belong to the ringmaster himself…and woe is he who thinks he might… have a bite….yay to be bitten himself instead.

OK….leaving Michael aside….You’re right Kimmie…AJ has been GREAT as of late. Money well spent so far I’d say. I love his attitude as well as his game. He and the ‘Swish Man’?…. bring an air of levity to the club that I haven’t seen in a long time. What’s even better is that nobody is trying to squash it down…not even Posada or Jeter who are the oldest of the homegrown Yanks. It’s WORKING, and they are smart enough to not mess with it. The game should be fun…and you can see lately that the Yanks are having just that. It’s all part of WINNING.

Congrats to Johnny Damon!! HR #200…..a great milestone for a GREAT player. Gotta say though Johnny….I really didn’t like you when you played for the Red Sox. I’m sure you can forgive this Yankee fan that though. I appreciated your talent….but….well…I’m a YANKEE FAN!! We can’t stand the Red Sox!! I hope you are back with the Yanks next year!!

LOVE Kenny Singleton in the booth. That guy knows the game and is such a pleasure to listen to.

And Kimmie…what can I say…lately you have been Kimmie 2.0…as if the original had to be improved on. Maybe it’s something with your hair….I dunno. All I can do whenever you are on is swallow hard and throw a glass of ice water in my own face. And besides being a pretty thang….you do a great job on the interviews. Your questions have gotten better and better since you started on YES….and you are much more at ease asking them….it shows!!

I was at the game last night (I live in this area now). Had a nice couple from West Islip next to me who were attending their first game at the Trop. They were amazed at how minor league the Rays whole show is (The cow bells, for example). I really miss the knowledgeable fans at Yankee Stadium.

Thanks for the post. I watch the games in the Boston area on mlb.com. If I’m lucky I get a little post game coverage like your player interviews. Even on a night when Mo hasn’t collected his thoughts, like the other night, he is still the man. He must be fun to talk to.

Now that the winning swagger is back in the team it becomes that much easier to go through my every day routine in life. I enjoy going to bed in a good mood and get up in a good mood it just seems that life is good.
It’s not that I don’t have a life I’m at work alot and then spend time with friends etc. Maybe I take my love for my Yankees a bit too personal but when they win it gives me peace of mind.
I know that none of you would never understand what I mean but as a real true Yankee fan some how how they do affect me I’m not saying I look for the nearest bridge to depart from when they loose but it sure makes sitting in traffic a lot more difficult anyway I’m not sure if they read this but if you guys do please understand how grateful I am to you when you win life is rough lately so I thank you for giving us a first place team to look forward to each time you take the field. As for Michael K what I can say he is the man and Kim you have me at every pre game with your beautiful smile and your sense of humor I’m sold.

If we win the next two games we can really bury the Rays.

SWISHER FACTS: .230 BA, BELOW AVERAGE FIELDER, MISTAKE-PRONE ON THE BASEPATHS. WHY DOESN’T GARDNER WHEN HEALTHY AND HINSKE GET MORE PLAYING TIME. SURE SWISH HAS HR’S, RBI’S, BUT THAT’S BECAUSE HE PLAYS EVERY DAY. GIRARDI MUST HAVE A SOFT SPOT, BUT FOR ME, SWISHER WOULD BE MORE ‘FUN’ IF HE HIT CLOSER TO .300 AND PLAYED GOOD DEFENSE.

Add Swishers OBP in there as long as you are being critical….yeah…..he’s in the .350’s. PLUS he’s among the team leaders in RBI’s.

Actually, Swishy is NOT below average defensively he’s just average. And he has 16 HR’s.

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