Posted by: JoeD2133 | May 3, 2008

4/30-5/2: One and Two

So the Calendar turned from April to May, and the rain remained.

In fact, for the New York Yankees, the drizzle began to change to a steady pour.  No longer is it a question whether or not “Generation Tre” will remain in tact for a full season.  It was revealed Thursday that Phil Hughes has a stress fracture of the ninth rib on his right side – funny, he has a 9.00 ERA in six April starts – which will sideline him until July at the least, according to the suddenly talkative (or nervous) GM, Brian Cashman.  And as for his embattled compatriot, Ian Kennedy, after last night’s additional sub-par performance on the losing end of a three-game-sweep to the Detroit Tigers, he may finally be on his way back to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Manager Joe Girardi, who is growing more and more irritated with the media by the question, revealed that the team will not need a fifth starter for a while, given the way the off-days fall in May.  This means that when the Yanks bring up Darrell Rasner to replace the “injured” Hughes (somewhat shockingly, Rasner has a 4-0 record and 0.87 ERA at Scranton thus far), Kennedy will be expendable on every fifth day.  Suffice to say, this has not been a great month for the Yankees experimental Youth Movement.

Unless, of course, you want to talk about Melky Cabrera.

Here is a young man from the Dominican Republic who couldn’t catch a routine fly ball when he was first called up in 2005 for limited action, but is now known for leaping over walls to rob the Red Sox hitters of home runs, and gunning runners down from his perch in center.  The Melk Man went from a fourth outfielder in 2006, to flat out taking the hallowed green lawn of Yankee giants Joe D. and Micky Mantle out from under Johnny Damon in 2007, never to relinquish this piece of real estate again.  Just like his ascension to the starting line-up over the past three seasons, Melky is quick, tenacious, and versatile, willing to hit lead-off or ninth whenever he is asked to do so.

Last night at the Stadium in the Bronx, Cabrera’s two-run double in the bottom of the second inning was the difference in the ballgame, as he reached down to the dirt with his bat and raked a nasty Eric Bedard curveball inside the third base bag.  With the ball screaming down the line and headed for the blue-walled corner, Morgan “the accountant” Ensberg ambled home from third, and slick-fielding newcomer Alberto Gonzalez raced all the way to the dish from first.  Melky, of course, trotted into second with a stand-up double, his confidence and machismo growing taller by the day.

Thus far, Cabrera’s bat is hovering around the .300 mark.  He is also tied for the team-lead in home runs (5) with the .167-hitting Jason Giambi.  Melky’s big hit last night against the Seattle Mariners quickly made the score 3-0, and that is all the Ace-turned-Stopper Chien Ming Wang would need, as the talented, evolving pitcher threw six strong innings of one-run baseball.

Driven to adapt by postseason failure from a year ago, Wang is now mixing in more and more change-ups and sliders with his bowling ball sinker, and this is one Yankees experiment that is paying early dividends, and paying well.  The man’s new pitches move like angry, hump-backed waves on a stormy, Taiwanese sea, and opposing hitters can no longer sit and wait to ride his sinker safely back to shore.  They have to think about what’s coming next, and by the time they recognize a particular break in the water, it’s way too late and much too futile.

Wang is 6-0 now through his first seven starts.  The word indispensable comes to mind, especially with Pettitte getting knocked around for his second straight start on Wednesday night.

Guess who didn’t get knocked around in the seventh inning against the Mariners?  Much to my chagrin, Kyle “the Farns” Farnsworth came in and mowed down three straight hitters with a steady diet of 97 MPH fastballs.  Could Brian Bruney’s freak ankle injury be just the opportunity Kyle needs to motivate himself toward the realization of his own tantalizing potential?  If the crowd’s standing ovation and his teammates’ post-game words of praise are any indication, Yankees Universe is sure hoping so.

 Much to my subsequent pleasure, the Farns was followed by the meaty right hand of Joba, and the ice-cold right hook of Rivera, quite possibly the deadliest and most intimidating combination in all of baseball.  This game was over when the Yankees reached the eighth with the lead, a game-shortening advantage they have not possessed since the glory years of the late-90’s dynasty.  If Farnsworth can gain the momentum and confidence he needs to lock down the seventh for the next two months, then we’d really be talking about something, wouldn’t we?  However, it’s a marathon not a sprint, and Kyle has a few more laps to run before I’m ready to move Joba back to the rotation.

Ah, the rotation.  While Wang turned the steady pour of mid-Spring back to a drizzle for a night, two through four now consists of Pettitte, Mussina, and Rasner.  Hey, maybe Darrell will be the ray of sunlight both Hughes and Kennedy were supposed to be, and May will bring out the flowers of winning baseball in the Bronx.  At 15-16 on May 2, I can almost smell the roses in the morning light.

Can you?

Or am I dreaming of roses… it’s hard to tell from my perch on the couch.

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