It’s time to go home, and after a seven-day road trip that felt much longer, it’s a good day for an off day. Regardless of the actual time it takes to go from first pitch to last pitch, sloppy games always feel longer, and there were a few sloppy games on this trip: Base-running and fielding mistakes in Detroit, bad starting pitching in the second game here in Texas, head-scratching moments in the first three innings or so yesterday.
Despite winning just three of seven on the road, though, I think the Yankees should feel pretty good about themselves after these 16 games in 16 days (the offense breaking out in the last one helps quite a bit). The biggest concern seems to be the lineup, but the biggest problem there is inconsistency not inability. At one point or another, everyone in the lineup has been hot and cold.* The heart of the order kind of went cold all at once on this trip, and that led to some problems, but it seems premature to get too worried about Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano (especially considered they’ve also shown flashes of MVP-type performances this season).
A few other things I’m thinking about before I get on this plane:
• Bartolo Colon struggled on Saturday, but otherwise, this rotation is holding itself together pretty well. And that’s without Phil Hughes. Even when these guys have struggled, they’ve given the Yankees veteran-type outings to finally give some much-needed distance. The emergence of Ivan Nova might be the Yankees biggest plus right now.
• Francisco Cervelli cracks me up. He said when he hit his grand slam yesterday, he didn’t realize the bases were loaded until he got to the dugout. I’m sure he knew when he came to the plate — how could he not? — but he completely lost track of that fact while he rounded the bases. Also, he hit the home run with his normal bat, having given up on the pink bat after two at-bats. He said it just didn’t feel right. What ever works, Francisco.
• Joba Chamberlain looked good last night. He wasn’t perfect, but I thought his stuff looked pretty good. That fastball is getting up there at 95, 96 pretty regularly now. I’m not positive, but I feel like that wasn’t the case at this time last year.
• Kevin Long said he started watching video of Russell Martin yesterday and went to work on some minor mechanical tweaks. For reasons Long probably understands much better than I do, Martin’s bat has faded a little bit.
• I heard Robert Earl Keen on the radio while I was driving to the ball park on Saturday. That doesn’t happen too often on my way to the Bronx.
• Speaking of people from Texas, can you imagine how cool that must have been for Lance Pendleton to pitch in that stadium yesterday? He was long gone by the time the media got into the clubhouse, probably off to say hello to his friends and family who had been in the stands. Must have been awesome.
• I’m not sure what role Ramiro Pena plays on this team, but I’m also not sure who else would have been a good call-up candidate. Jesus Montero made no sense if the Yankees truly believe Jorge Posada’s at-bats have been significantly better than his results, and Jorge Vazquez has cooled down. If Eduardo Nunez can keep hitting, he’ll be a solid spot starter at short and third, leaving Pena as the backup infielder on those days. More significant than the addition of Pena — or anyone else — is the loss of Eric Chavez. The bench is much weaker than it was a week ago. Much weaker.
• Let me officially change my prediction from earlier this season: I believe Mariano Rivera will break the saves record this season.
* The one exception to the hot-and-cold theory might be Nick Swisher. He’s taking his walks and he’s finally started hitting some home runs, but he hasn’t really gotten hot this season.