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Game 158: Yankees at Blue Jays

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YANKEES (86-71)
Gardner CF
Cano 2B
Abreu RF
Nady LF
Giambi DH
Betemit 3B
Ransom SS
Miranda 1B
Moeller C
Hughes RHP

BLUE JAYS (83-74)
Inglett 2B
Scutaro SS
Rios RF
Wells CF
Lind DH
Overbay 1B
Rolen 3B
Snider LF
Zaun C
Burnett RHP

Phil Hughes (0-4, 7.96) vs. the Toronto hitters. [2]

A.J. Burnett (18-10, 4.18) vs. the New York hitters. [3]

Notes: That’s a lineup you usually see in Dunedin around March 15. … The too-little, too-late Yankees have won six straight and nine of their last 10. They are now 8-8 against the Jays with two games left. … The Yankees have scored two or fewer runs 49 times and three or fewer runs 68 times. With five games to play, they have scored 753 runs. They scored 968 last season.

DOA AGAINST AJ: A.J.Burnett is 3-1, 1.78 against the Yankees this season (30.1 innings, 23 hits, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, 32 strikeouts).

But before you get all “they need to sign him!” consider that Burnett is 15-9, 4.57 against everybody else. In 183 innings against other teams teams, he has allowed 181 hits and walked 80. That’s still pretty good. But three years and $55 million or whatever? Not so much.

TIME FLIES: Phil Hughes last won a major league game on Sept. 27, 2007.

OBLIGATORY PHIL COKE NOTE: Lefties are 3 for 22 against Coke, fanning eight times. But he has been death on right-handed hitters, too. They are 1 for 16. Small sample sizes, obviously. But it suggests they should still develop him as a starter.

I DON’T WANNA FADE AWAY: The numbers for Alex Rodriguez over the last 16 games ain’t that pretty at all. He is 10 for 56 (.179) with 7 runs scored, 4 extra-base hits, 10 RBI and 15 strikeouts. His numbers have gone from ..315/.404/.602 to .300/.391/.575.

DON’T YOU KNOW: Robinson Cano is 9 for 20 with four RBI in the last six games. He actually had a hustle double last night. Next time he needs that kick in the pants in May.

HERE’S THE PITCH: The Yankees have allowed only nine runs in the last six games.

Since I’m out of notes …

vamp1.jpg [4]LAST FIVE SONGS ON THE iPOD: A-Punk (Vampire Weekend), Highway Patrolman (Springsteen), Roadhouse Blues (Doors), New Year’s Day (U2), Hate and War (The Clash).

Wait, one more. It’s Long Black Veil by the great Johnny Cash. If you don’t have the Cash American sessions, you don’t know what you’re missing.

OK, back later with updates.

UPDATE, 4:14 p.m.: Mike Mussina said his right elbow felt better as he was on his way to get treatment. He’s going to try to play catch today and he intends to start on Sunday. … Andy Pettitte is likely to be scratched for Saturday with Sidney Ponson starting instead.

UPDATE, 5:47 p.m.: Andy Pettitte has been shut down for the rest of the season. So the rotation the rest of the way is Pavano, Aceves, Ponson and Mussina. … Girardi expects Jeter to play again this season but he did not take BP today.

Here is Girardi’s pre-game interview session:

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UPDATE, 7:02 p.m.: Here is what Joe Torre told reporters about the demise of the Yankees:

Torre said he took no satisfaction in seeing his former team miss the playoffs.

“The satisfaction I have, going someplace after 12 years, and you leave wondering if managing can be fun again, because the last few years back there weren’t fun,” he said. “I don’t take satisfaction in the Yankees being eliminated. But it’s satisfying that we win three games here and we’re in, especially with all the ups and downs we’ve had.”

Don Mattingly’s take was very candid:

“I’m sure it’s tough for the Yankees — something different, for sure. Jeter, Pettitte, Mariano. They haven’t missed in a long time. It’s one of those years in a tough division to play catch-up. But this year is a transition year for them without Joe. I interviewed for the manager’s job and I knew going in that it was sort of a no-win situation. You listen to them talk, and I don’t think they realized what Joe did for them for so long, how special he is at what he does.

“I think they sort of took him for granted, didn’t realize all the things he brings to the table as a manager. You’ve seen it here with the Dodgers this year. How he keeps the ship going the right way, keeps things on track when it looks like things are getting ugly.”

UPDATE, 8:08 p.m.: That’s the first big-league hit for Juan Miranda. He would have had an RBI except Wilson Betemit stood like a statue watching the line drive sail over his head then ran to third like Orson Welles.

UPDATE, 8:26 p.m.: See, Phil Hughes can pitch. Do not give up on this guy. He has a chance to be a top-tier starter in the AL once he stays healthy all year. He has command and poise and he’s 22.

UPDATE, 9:07 p.m.: Hughes made a mistake there with the pitch to Rolen and it could cost him a victory. But you would take 7 5 2 2 0 5 all the time. He really had command of his secondary pitches.

UPDATE, 9:13 p.m.: No matter what happens, I’m all for Hughes staying in the game. He needs innings and innings in tight spots. This is good for him. He’s at 92 pitches.

UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.: Excellent work by Hughes. Meanwhile Burnett just left the game to an ovation and took a curtain call. He is hugging all his teammates. Think maybe he’s going to opt out of his contract? Yeah, just maybe.

UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: Well, a heck of a job by The Franchise, as he went pitch for pitch with Burnett. He’ll take a tough no-decision.

Now we need somebody to score to avoid the horror of extra innings of meaningless baseball. Jose Veras on to pitch. This might be over soon.

UPDATE, 9:52 p.m.: God Bless the great Bobby Abreu, who now has 99 RBI and has saved us from the calamity of an 11th inning. This will be seven straight and 10 of 11 for the Yankees. Maybe Bud Selig will take Hank’s advice and just put them in the playoffs.