September 2005

It’s Small’s world

Huge win for Aaron Small and the Yankees today in Oakland. Small gave the bullpen a day off, shutting out the A’s, 7-0.

Small, starting for the injured Mike Mussina, allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three. He improved to 6-0, and it’s his first career shutout.

Small did a great job of keeping the A’s off the scoreboard while the Yankee bats scuffled. Thanks to a six-run seventh, Small had some wiggle room, and he did not dissappoint. Despite his gem, the A’s weren’t that impressed.

“He didn’t do anything crazy, he just hit his spots,” said Jay Payton. “He’s one of those guys that you feel pretty comfortable against. We just weren’t able to put anything together against him.”

Well, I was impressed by Small’s big effort. With Mussina now a question mark, Small must continue to pitch well for the Yankees down the stretch. With other starters either hurt or inconsistent, Small has been New York’s MVP — most valuable pitcher — since getting called up from Columbus.

Around the horn: Aug. 31

? Randy Johnson made a triumphant return to Seattle on Thursday night, outdueling Mariners phenom Felix Hernandez in the Yankees’ 2-0 win. The Big Unit, who took a no-no into the sixth, allowed three hits over seven shutout innings while fanning seven Mariners.

Randy Johnson is pumped!

Hernandez, the 19-year-old sensation, held the Yankees to four hits over eight innings, but two of them were solo taters by Robinson Cano and Gary Sheffield.

The Big Enigma looked like the real Unit, baffling the Mariners throughout the night. After a rough start to August, the Unit has allowed one run on seven hits over his last 15 innings. The Yankees need the Unit to keep dominating like he did on Wednesday.

? The victory kept the Yankees 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the American League East. The Yankees maintained their one-game lead over the Angels in the AL Wild Card standings.

? The age difference between Johnson and Hernandez is 22 years, 210 days and, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the largest difference between opposing starters since Florida’s Charlie Hough (46) and San Diego’s Joey Hamilton (23) squared off on June 4, 1994, in Miami. There was a 22 year, 248-day age difference.

? Staked to a 2-0 lead after two innings, Pedro Martinez looked like he was on his way to another win. But the Phillies’ bats woke up, hitting four taters off the Mets ace. Chase Utley hit two of Philadelphia’s four homers, and Brett Myers pitched seven strong innings as the Phillies rolled to an 8-2 victory.

? The Phillies’ win, combined with the Marlins’ loss to the Cardinals, gives the Phillies sole possession of the lead in the National League Wild Card race

Jeremy Hermida

? Marlins prospect Jeremy Hermida became the second player in history to belt a grand slam in his first at-bat, smacking a pinch-hit shot off Cards reliever Al Reyes in the seventh inning of St. Louis’ 10-5 win. The feat was last achieved by the Phillies’ Bill Duggleby on April 21, 1898.

? For the fifth time in his five big-league seasons, Albert Pujols reached the 100-RBI mark on Wednesday night. Pujols is the fourth player in Major League history to have 100 or more RBIs in each of his first five seasons in the Majors, joining Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio and Al Simmons. Those four are the only players to start with four straight 100-RBI campaigns, as well. Simmons holds the record, reaching the century mark in every one of his first 11 seasons. Williams went eight in a row, and DiMaggio seven.

? Darin Erstad hit an RBI double and Maicer Izturis added an RBI single while John Lackey tossed seven scoreless innings as the Angels pulled within one game of Oakland in the AL West with a 2-1 win Wednesday. A’s starter Joe Blanton fanned 10 in a losing effort. Francisco Rodriguez — who the A’s have tossed around a bit this year — got the save.

? One of Boston’s mighty motormouths, Kevin Millar, let his bat do the talking on Wednesday night. The freshly-minted blonde bomber launched two home runs, including the go-ahead two-run blast in the seventh, as the Red Sox came back to down the Devil Rays again, 7-6.