Thursday, August 24, 2006

Return of the King

A very nice return to form for our young star. Chien Ming Wang has been fair in his last 2 starts, but not nearly the dominant pitcher we've enjoyed all season long. Today was another story as the 26 yeard old sinkerballer from Taiwan rolled through the weak Mariners lineup, showing pop on his pitches and great poise as usual. 11 ground balls against 5 fly ball outs marked a very effective mix of pitches and helped the Yankees cruise to a 9-2 victory, picking up where they left off in Boston. The loss in the opening game of this series was kind of an expected thing, but getting back in the win column right away is the sign of a very good ballclub.

It was a pleasure to see Mike Myers in action, making Ichiro look foolish, and going 1-2-3 in the eighth. The best appearance however was reserved for "The Sheriff" Octavio Dotel, who really had life on his pitches and worked an effective 9th inning. Raul Ibanez worked a walk, but you could almost hear the whoosh on his pitches before they hit Posada's mitt. The return of Dotel to the lineup means a lot actually. It means more rest for Proctor and Villone, and it will eventually mean that Farnsworth will be saved for less precarious spots. A fresh, top-line reliever finding his way into a good team's pen in August is like a Christmas present. That's especially true with the Yankees, as Torre likes to abuse his bullpen arms. In the stretch run Dotel may just make the most important contribution to a World Series run.

Before I wrap things up, I want to give roll call to 3 guys who are really showing their best games recently. Not that other guys haven't been on point, but rather my eyes have been open for the following 3:

1. Johnny Damon
In August, Damon is hitting .296/.355/.633, which comes out to a .988 OPS. That's his highest OPS of any month this season. As you'll note, his average and OBP are not the highest monthly tallies of 2006, but that .633 SLG is impressive. He has 6 doubles, 3 triples, and 7 home runs in 22 games this month.

2. Bobby Abreu
Abreu has brought his season average all the way up from .277 to .301 while hitting for the Yankees. What has he done in pinstripes to achieve the .301 mark? Only hit .393/.505/.562 for an OPS of 1.062 in 23 games. Can anyone say, "Dave Justice?" The guy is an absolute machine. With the Yankees, Abreu is on a 162 game pace for 127 runs and 49 stolen bases. C.J. Who?

3. Robinson Cano
He's hitting .328 on the season, but the story is what he's done in the 17 games since he returned from the DL. As I recall, he hit 3 doubles in one of his rehab games, and looked to continue his mashing of the baseball with the big club. In 17 games he sports a line of .343/.380/.657 for an OPS of 1.073! In those 17 games he has 4 homers and 20 RBIs which are a 162 game pace of 38 homers and 191 RBIs. The crazy number (as if 191 RBIs isn't crazy enough) is his 9 doubles which figures out to 86 doubles over a full season. He's very very hot.

Let's close things out tomorrow and keep the wins-a-comin'. This feels really good. See you tomorrow. Go Yanks.