It may say Managing General Partner next to Hal Steinbrenner's name, but it is in fact 24-year-old Brett Cecil who actually owns the New York Yankees. Cecil led the Blue Jays to a 8-3 romp of New York, picking up his Major League-leading fourth win against the Yankees in 2010 and improving to 4-0 in five starts against the Bombers this season. The win was no surprise whatsoever considering the Yankees haven't been able to do anything of note against Cecil all year and have done nothing but struggle against slow-throwing pitchers of his ilk.
It obviously didn't help the Yankees' cause that they were starting soon-to-be-former-Yankee Javier Vazquez, who did his best A.J. Burnett impression in giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. The more you think about it, it's actually pretty incredible that the Yankees ended up making it to the postseason with 40% of their Opening Day five-man rotation pitching to a 5.00-plus ERA in more than 350 innings. Steve Goldman already noted that Burnett is the "most carried" Yankee starter of all time, but Vazquez isn't too far behind.
But regardless of who started for the Yankees they likely would've been no match for Cecil, who missed a fifth quality start in five tries against the Yankees by two outs. On the season, Cecil pitched to a 2.71 ERA over 33 2/3 innings against the Yanks, which is just ridiculous. I'd be curious to know how many other pitchers in baseball history registered a sub-3.00 ERA in 30-plus innings against New York in one season. I tried finding out via B-Ref's Play Index, but couldn't determine which tool would enable me to input that specific criteria. If anyone out there can find this info out, I'd be much obliged.
The only good thing to come out of the game was Alex Rodriguez blasting his 30th home run of the year, tying Barry Bonds with his 13th consecutive season of 30-or-more bombs and the 14th of his career. Stepping back for a second, this is quite an astonishing feat considering how concerned I (and others) were about his seeming decline in power this season. I even wrote not one but two in-depth analyses about it. Consider that on June 9, 59 games into the season (Alex had played in 57 of them) -- more than one-third of the year -- Alex had only eight home runs in 255 plate appearances, or a home run every 28 at-bats. In the 76 games Alex has played since then, he's crushed 22 home runs in 324 plate appearances, or a home run every 12.9 at-bats. Now that's more like it.
Given the growing concern that Alex was nearing the end of the line as an elite power hitter, it's considerably reassuring to see that perhaps he's not quite done yet. Will he ever be a 40-plus-home-run player again? That doesn't seem likely, but I'd be more than happy with an A-Rod who can still give you 30-40 bombs a year.
So the Blue Jays ended up going 10-8 against the Yankees in 2010, due in large part to Brett Cecil morphing into Pedro Martinez when facing the Yankees. The Yankees had never previously had a losing record in a season series against the Blue Jays in the Unbalanced Schedule Era. If Boston sweeps the Yankees this weekend, they would become the third AL East team with 10 wins against the Yankees this year, and I can't imagine that's ever happened before. I don't know what that says about the rest of the American League, or about the Yankees that they were able to make it to the playoffs despite holding losing records against two (and possibly three) of their four divisional opponents.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Brett Cecil becomes Majors' winningest pitcher against 2010 Yankees in Blue Jay rout; A-Rod hits 30-HR plateau for 13th straight season
by Larry Koestler