Friday, May 23, 2008

Some Bright Spots for Yankee Fans

The Yankees got a much needed win last night and the bad news is the offense still stinks. There were three positives that jumped out at me while watching the game.

Ian Kennedy pitched his best big league game of 2008. When you look a little more closely at the numbers, and those 4 walks to go along with the 4 strikeouts and 4 hits, and if you saw him get into some tight spots with bases loaded and only 1 out, he wasn't exactly in total control. Last night Kennedy pitched about as well as you would expect a number 5 guy to pitch. It was an improvement from every other outing he's given us, but he still needs a little work. In the first two innings he seemed to be more aggressive on the mound, but as the game wore on he seemed to be slipping more and more into his old self. In the end, it was a solid performance and something to build on. Kennedy is going to have to keep elevating his game quickly as soon Phil Hughes will be back and after that Joba will be moving in. Rasner has all but locked down his spot in the rotation and it's looking like Kennedy will be the odd man out.

Next up is Mariano Rivera. Flashback to the beginning of last year and I'll admit that Mo's struggles had me worried. I was fairly certain that the end game spiral of age had finally caught up with Rivera and his career was winding down. Mariano turned his season around and had a very respectable year. This year, he's playing the best baseball I've ever seen him play in his career. His ERA is down to .47 and his WHIP is .53. He's only allowed 1 run all year, has struck out 15 and hasn't walked a single batter. It's safe to say Rivera is the greatest closer in the history of the game and we're fortunate to be able to watch him continue to pitch at a masterful level. Last night it really struck home with me as I sat back and just said "Wow."

The biggest positive I saw last night and the thing that gave me the most hope for this team was Joe Girardi. Joe has been way too complacent lately and largely devoid of emotion. It was very encouraging to see him finally blow his stack and argue a call with an umpire, getting thrown out of the game. It was a long overdue move. Joe needs to occasionally show emotion, show his players that he's behind them, that he's got their backs. He also needs to show a little emotion toward his players too, but that's another story. Joe's antics (and I jumped out of my chair and hooted when he started kicking dirt) provided an emotional spark that the team needed and provided an immediate catalyst for the game winning hits later. I'm not saying Joe should do this all the time, but every once in a while it's a necessary evil. This was a very important move from Joe.

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