Notes: The Yankees are 7-5 against the Rays this season and 29-28 against teams in the AL East. … Yesterday’s win evened their road record at 33-33. … A little leftover weirdness from yesterday: Of the 17 hits, 16 were singles. … Mussina is four wins short of winning 20 for the first time. If he goes every five days he would get five more starts after this.
THE QUEST FOR 82: The Yankees need to go 9-16 to finish with 82 victories and a winning record. It’s not a lock given their schedule:
@ Tampa (3)
@ Seattle (3)
@ Los Angeles (3)
@ Toronto (3)
@ Boston (3)
That’s 16 games against legit playoff contenders and six against teams (Toronto and Baltimore) who have played the Yankees tough this season.
CHASING SCHMIDT: A-Rod needs one HR to catch Mike Schmidt for 12th place all-time with 548. But he is a career .247 hitters at Tropicana Field with 16 HRs.
ON A ROLL: Mariano Rivera’s last six games: 8.2 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts. 98 pitches/62 strikes.
HERE IT COMES AND THERE IT GOES: Edwar Ramirez has allowed 13 homers in 72.1 innings in his career.
WHO’S HOT: Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu are each 8 of their last 17.
THE YANKEE PIRATES: Ross Ohlendorf is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh tomorrow night. Jose Tabata in 22 games for Erie: .348/.402/.562. Three homers and 13 RBI.
Back later with some updates.
UPDATE, 5:56 p.m.: Joba Chamberlain and Dan Giese were activated today. … Tampa Bay activated Troy Percival.
UPDATE, 6:13 p.m.: Brian Cashman was over at Steinbrenner Field today and spoke to Hank, Hal, Jennifer and Felix Lopez, among others. There was no formal meeting and the subject of his contract did not come up.
UPDATE, 6:25 p.m.: Joe Girardi was asked about Sidney Ponson staying in the rotation. Here was his response:
“Right now our rotation is what it is. We havenâ€™t talked about any changes.
“Heâ€™s done it before. Obviously he didnâ€™t have the sink yesterday that heâ€™s necessarily has had. We need to get that back. You go to work in the bullpen and see if you can straighten things out.”
What about using Aceves or Hughes?
“Weâ€™re talking about sending a rookie possibly out there who doesnâ€™t have a lot of starts in the big leagues. Itâ€™s not like we have Cy Young, Steve Carlton, you know, waiting in the wings. If we did make a change, youâ€™re talking about youth. They donâ€™t have the experience.”
Ponson is 0-3, 8.75 in his last five starts.
UPDATE, 6:28 p.m.: Shameless plug: I’m going to be on ESPN News around 6:45 p.m.
UPDATE, 7:37 p.m.: Great catch there by Upton. Meanwhile, how is a team with Aybar, Hinske, Bartlett, Gross and Riggans as their final five hitters in first place by five games?
UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Terrible job by Hinske, who never looked at the third base coach, Tom Foley. Of course Aybar should have been sent to the plate in the first place on Damon’s arm.
UPDATE, 8:21 p.m.: I don’t know if Jeter did that on purpose, but that little hesitation seemed to screw up Bartlett.
UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: Holy smoke, Nady hit the catwalk. This is first game at the Trop, too. 3-1 Yankees.
Giambi now has 13 RBI in his last 10 games and leads the team with 86 this season. Nady has nine dingers for the Yankees and 22 for the season. He has 27 RBI for the Yankees and 84 overall. Great season for him.
UPDATE, 8:53 p.m.: 5-1 Yankees as Damon and Jeter drive in more runs. This would be a nice win for the pinstripes but Boston is clocking Baltimore.
UPDATE, 9:06 p.m.: We’ll have to find out later what happened. But Nady needs to call Jeter off and catch that ball.
UPDATE, 9:21 p.m.: Hal Steinbrenner is said to be here and Felix Lopez (Big Stein’s son-in-law) is for sure. But Hank Steinbrenner is nowhere to be found.
UPDATE, 9:31 p.m.: Were I a fan of the Yankees, this game would annoy me. Where was this kind of play all season when they needed it? They get 12 games down and then put the smack down on the Rays.
Great start by the Moose. He’s on his way to No. 17.
UPDATE, 9:43 p.m.: Lots of Yankees fans here and they were shouting “Moose” as Mussina walked off the mound.
There are also a lot of empty seats. Nice fan base here. The team is in first place, playing the Yankees and they can’t fill the place.
Joba warming up.
UPDATE, 9:51 p.m.: How did the Yankees go from not using Joba in the middle of innings last season to now using him in the middle of innings in his first appearance after a shoulder injury?
But, at any rate, here he is and in a big spot. For the record, he was out four weeks.
The just showed a fan on the scoreboard waving a sign that read, “Rays Rule, Yankees Drool.”
Incredibly, it was an adult. Must not be Mensa Night here at the Trop.
UPDATE, 9:57 p.m.: I would hope Joba stays in the game instead of bringing in fire-starting Edwar Ramirez or Jose Veras.
UPDATE, 9:59 p.m.: 21,629 here tonight and at least half of them are Yankees fans. How bad is that?
Meanwhile, A-Rod just tied Mike Schmidt for 12th all time with 548 homers.
And the Big G doubles for the first time since July 2. It’s all coming together for the Bombers.
UPDATE, 10:26 p.m.: Joba was hitting 95, which is what you wanted to see. Now Dan Giese gets to return in a low-pressure situation. More rest for Mo, who last pitched on Friday.
UPDATE, 10:33 p.m.: Yankees win, Moose wins, A-Rod homers, Joba pitches again. All is well.
Depending on the noise in the clubhouse, I’m going to try and get some Moose audio.