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New York Yankees: Three Is A Magic Number. Yes It Is, It’s Our Magic Number.

Winning for the second night against the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees are 2 ½ games ahead in the AL East; in addition to lowering their magic number for playoff spot to three and winning the division to 10.Yankees can thank the Boston Red Sox for helping those numbers falling to the Baltimore Orioles for the second nigh tin a row.

It could not come at a better time for New York, as winning the division translates into home-field advantage for the Yankees.

Playing hosts for the first two rounds of the playoffs, especially in the 5-game Division Series could be critical for the Yankees down the stretch.

Being at Yankees Stadium for both these two games, I can attest that the Yankees fans have impacted each player.

The atmosphere rivaled that of the 2009 World Series up in the Bronx the last two nights. Fans even started a round-the-clock wave that circled the stadium three times, spanning from the nosebleeds all the way down to luxury seats.

Unlike last weeks Rays-series, the Bombers are clearly outplaying Tampa Bay this time. More and more, the 2010 Yankees resemble the same group that won the World Series in 2009.

There are only 14 games remaining in the MLB regular season, but the best of baseball gets played in October.

The 2010 post-season is overall on track to be one of the most competitive ever.

*RECENT NEWS: The Minnesota Twins won the AL Central tonight for the sixth time since 2002. It’s the first team to clinch so far. Congratulations to the Twins and their loyal fans!!

New York Yankees: Couldn’t Get A Loss When Honoring The Boss

New York Yankees are finally home in the Bronx.

Monday night opened a four game set against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Before the start of the game, the Yankees honored owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away on July 13th, which ironically was the same day of the All-Star Game.

The ceremony was surreal, as the Yankees escorted the entire Steinbrenner Family along with Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Joe Torre, Don Mattingly and MLB Commissioner Bud Selig to Monument Park to unveil a statue in honor of the Boss.

A tribute played on the center field screen that brought fans to tears. Mr. Steinbrenner was not just the Yankees boss; he was New York’s boss.

A man who lived to give to others but held the personal motto that “the greatest form of charity is anonymity.”

Watching the current Yankees walk in a united group out to center field was perfect.

Seeing Torre and Mattingly was overwhelming for both the fans and the two ex-Yankees. There were only cheers, as an entire stadium was chanting the loudest “Let’s Go Yankees” ever heard.

It was perfect start, followed by the only appropriate ending, a Yankee win.

Winning on Monday night wasn’t for the playoffs, or to stay in first place it was for the Boss who made winning the Yankee way.

Here are some pictures from the memorable ceremony for the greatest Yankee ever, Mr. George Steinbrenner III:

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Yankees-Rays: Why This Series Will Still Leave The AL East Up For Grabs

Ending a horrid 3-6 road trip, the New York Yankees are glad to be back home.

Home or not though, starting with a 4-game series against the second-place Tampa Bay Rays, the next two weeks will challenge the Yankees in every possible way.

The Yankees come into the week with a 90-59 record, just a half-game ahead of the Rays, who sit at 89-59. The series will give both teams a chance to leave with a two or three game division lead, but the Yankees and Rays are so evenly matched that a 2-2 split seems more likely than anything else.

Which team looks stronger?

It has only been a week since New York and Tampa played what was, hands down, the best series of baseball this season. All three games were determined late, and both sqauds fought it out with playoff-like energy. In the end, Tampa took two of three games from the Yankees at the Trop.

But the road to a series win will be that much tougher for the Rays, who will this time face the Yankees in New York, and that is not the only advantage for the Pinstripes.

Since leaving Tampa, the Yankees have welcomed back Andy Pettitte. Pettitte pitched great on Sunday, going six innings and giving up only three hits. Even though Pettitte won’t face Tampa in this series, having him healthy again is a huge morale boost.

Joe Girardi made a smart decision to sit third baseman Alex Rodriguez and first baseman Mark Teixeira during the Baltimore series, and they should come back energetic and healthy. Add well-rested Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher to the lineup, and suddenly Tampa looks at taking on a team headed into the playoffs with the entire roster ready to play.

HIT… is the word of the week for the Yankees, and they will need more of them with runners in scoring position in order to win this series. During the weekend Baltimore series, the Yankees left thirty men on base. Continue reading ‘Yankees-Rays: Why This Series Will Still Leave The AL East Up For Grabs’ »

Yankees-Rays On The Mound Game One: Ivan Nova Or Matt Garza?

Pitcher Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays durin...
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Tonight marks the first of four games, between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the Bronx.

Rookie pitcher Ivan Nova takes the mound for the pinstripes, as the Rays counter with Matt Garza in a rematch from last week’s slug-fest.

Nova is only making his sixth big-league start, but second in two weeks against the Rays. In their last meeting, Nova kept the Rays at bay for four innings, before imploding in the fifth allowing six runs.

Before that, Nova had only given up three earned runs total in his first, four starts. He is 1-0 after five starts, with a 4.30 ERA, giving up 14 earned runs, nine walks and four home-runs over a total of 29.1 innings pitched. Nova has struck-out a season total of 19 which is a solid showing.

Nova needs to keep control on the mound and trust his stuff more. Nova can get the strikeouts when confident, especially if his fastball is on target. Nova is not afraid of the Rays or any other team, which he needs to show when he throws.

Rays Matt Garza is a workhorse, who thrives in hostile environments and Yankee stadium promises to be just that.

Garza can throw hard but as a right-handed pitcher, Garza struggles with lefty bats. So expect the Yankees to be stacked from the left side of the plate.

Garza is known to fall apart mentally and usually no turning back after that happens. He has hit seven batters on the season.

When Garza is in total concentration-mode he has an arsenal of pitches, throws very hard and can shutdown opposing teams bats completely.

In 2010 Garza is 14-8, with a 3.88 ERA and already pitched 185.2 innings on the season. He has allowed 80 earned runs to score, walked 58, with 27 home-runs against him and has struck-out 138.

MY PREDICTION:

Garza’s last two starts he couldn’t get passed the fifth inning, giving up 12 earned runs, walking 4 and allowing six balls go the yard. It left him with a 12.00 ERA, with only five strikeouts in the two losses.

Nova blew a 6-0 lead in the fifth inning, but looked better the first four innings than Garza by far.

With the tribute to George Steinbrenner before this game, the Yankees owe the Boss a win because that is what he would want more than anything.

YANKEES WIN 7-3.

NOVA VS. GARZA GET A NO DECISION.

You Got Punk’d: New York Yankees Derek Jeter Informs The Home-Plate Ump

New York Yankees star Derek Jeter’s on-field performance the other night against the Tampa Bay Rays has definitely caught the eye of the sports world.

In case you missed Jeter’s trickery, just click HERE to watch it.

Everyone from NASCAR drivers to retired NFL players to Jeter himself was asked their opinion on the situation.

As expected, answers were extensively wide-ranging from angry to praise for the Yankees Captain.

Jeter admitted in the post-game that it had hit the bat and the umpire told him to go to first-base. Jeter didn’t outright lie because it is the umpire’s decision and his job to judge.

This type of stuff happens in sports across the board, but similar scenarios happen in courtrooms, boardrooms and classrooms on a daily basis.

Does it make it right?

Yes and no because imagine if Jeter stopped the umpire and told him to throw him out of the game because it hit the bat would be just as ludicrous and plain out stupid.

Plenty of times umpires have called a player safe and the replay tell a different story. Never once has a player told the umpire otherwise knowing he was out.

It is a baseball player’s job to get on base so runs can score.

Jeter was in fact doing his job, but the extra act was bothersome, seemed unnecessary and overdone. Continue reading ‘You Got Punk’d: New York Yankees Derek Jeter Informs The Home-Plate Ump’ »

Yankees-Orioles Pitching Preview: AJ Burnett Needs To Step It Up Tonight

New York Yankees need to turn around this horrid road trip and start winning right now.

The usually easy wins are a thing of the past for the Baltimore Orioles, as the Bombers visit the most-improved team at Camden Yard this weekend for three games.

New York Yankees starting pitcher AJ Burnett, been a mess this season will take the mound that could be a turning point for the team.

Burnett’s usual seesawing has not been even in a bad way and as of now he is deemed unreliable. This season, Burnett is 10-13, with a 5.13 ERA, giving-up 20 home-runs, walking 72 and striking out 132 over 29 starts.

Burnett’s strikeouts have dropped significantly, as in 08’ he fanned 231 batters and last season he posted 195 total in regular season. Watching him pitch loses control much sooner that in the past, as he has hit a career high of 14 batters in 2010 and season is not over yet.

In his career, Burnett’s held batters to a .241 average, but this season it has jumped to .284 when he is on the mound.

Tonight, Burnett has a chance to take the minor improvements he has made since going win-less in August and show us the ace he is capable of being.

Burnett has made three starts in September going 1-1, with an ERA of 4.76, striking out 19 over 17 innings pitched.  His last start was cut after four innings due to rain, but he had already struck-out six and looked a lot better.

The Yankees bats need to cushion Burnett. Even when Burnett is on, he can have one bad inning and it helps take the pressure off a mentally struggling teammate.

Striking-out has been the theme too much lately at the plate. This needs to change ASAP and with Kevin Millwood on the mound for the Orioles there is absolutely no excuse for anything but a marked improvement.

Millwood is 1-7 in 14 starts, with an ERA of 5.38 at Camden Yard this season.

Overall in 2010, Millwood’s totals over 28 starts read 101 earned runs, 27 home-runs, walking 57 and striking-out 114. Opposing batters have a .301 average against the O’s veteran and a Yankees win is almost mandatory.