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The Yankees are dominating the news from baseball’s Winter Meetings in Indy.  In one busy day, the Yankees completed the rumors Generation Third had already reported on. Andy Pettitte was signed to a one-year deal worth $11.75 Million and the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks completed a 3-team trade that sent all-star center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.

Pettitte was the rock the Yankees needed in their starting rotation to secure another serious run at back-to-back titles.  The Yankees rotation now officially includes CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Pettitte.  The other two slots will be filled by trades, signings and/or Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain.

Granderson was a first-time all-star for the Detroit Tigers in 2009, despite only hitting .249.  He had 30 stolen bases and 30 home runs and is phenomenal on defense.  The Yankees had to give up Triple-A starting pitcher Ian Kennedy, reliever Phil Coke and outfield prospect Austin Jackson to make the trade go through.

I could care less about Kennedy – I don’t think he’ll amount to much (injured too often) but I am a little sad about the loss of Coke, who was a big part of the Yankee bullpen in 2009, and Jackson, who was one of the most respected prospects in the game today.  But, we gotta look at the positive that Granderson brings the Yankees – great defense and speed and power in the  lineup.  He’ll be a great #2 or #6 hitter.  For more information on Granderson, read some posts here from the last few days.

What was not answered today is what the Yankees plan to do with Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon.  GM Brian Cashman said that this trade does not affect the Yankees plans with those two, but how could it not?  The Yankees have already made it clear that they intend to cut payroll this season, and I am hard pressed to see how adding Granderson and the $25 Million he is owed between now and 2012 is cutting payroll – unless either Matsui or Damon will not return in 2010.

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For only the second time in Major League History, a World Series game will be played on October 31.  The only other time it happened was 2001 – when the Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks faced off in the Bronx for Game 4 of their series.  Blame the late start to the 2009 season (April 6) and what feels like the longest postseason ever (because of all the days off between games) but the 2009 series is going to Game 3 in Philly on Halloween.

Coincidentally enough, the last time a game was played on Halloween the Yankees were involved and Derek Jeter earned his title of Mr. November.  The Oct. 31, 2001 game went late into the early morning of Nov.1 and Jeter’s late game heroics (opposite field solo home run in the 10th) tied the series at 2-2.

MLB.com went around interviewing Yankee and Phillies players as to their feelings about this combo day.  “I’d normally be home waiting for kids to knock on the door,” Yankees backup catcher Jose Molina said, “but this time, I’ll be here. I’ll take this a million times before being home waiting for kids to knock on the door.”

The best story of all comes from Phil Coke, via mlb.com:

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“I used to like trick-or-treating as a boy. Up until the age of 9 or 10,” Coke said. “And then this person scared the crap out of me so bad. He went crazy in his front yard. He had all these little hiding spots that, in the daytime if you’d see it, it’s like, ‘OK, that’s not a big deal.’ He had path lights going up to his door. Well, he had them turned off, and the little section of hedges, there were all these spots in there that you could hide in.

“He had these strobe lights going off … spider webs by the door … this creepy music in the background … and he had a fog machine and everything, so the fog was rolling down the front steps.

“And he pops out of the hedges!”

At this point, Coke was doing everything but pointing a flashlight up from the floor onto his face as he continued to tell the scariest story of this World Series.

“He has a skeleton kind of garb, and it glows, when the light catches it right, it really stands out,” Coke continued. “Oh my god — that guy scared me so bad. I couldn’t go trick-or-treating after a certain period of time ever again.  “He tried to come in and apologize to me, and I was all messed up. It was bad. He got me good. I was 9 or 10. It was a very traumatic experience. It was probably 8 o’clock at night, so it wasn’t really late, but he got me. Boy, did he get me.”

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A funny twist to this story is that two of Coke’s teammates, Johnny Damon and pitcher Chad Gaudin, are two of those guys who like to jump out of the bushes and scare kids.

“I like to get out with the kids and every now and then hide behind the bushes and scare the kids who actually think it’s going to be an enjoyable treat coming to my house for Halloween,” Damon said.

I have to say that having Halloween the same night as a World Series game is an extra, and fun, twist.  There will be some goofs in the stands all dressed up and people in bars watching the game all dressed up.  Just don’t confuse the Philly Phantatic with a guy dressed for Halloween!

The Philly Phanatic

I don’t think anyone expected this.

And by this I’m talking about two things: Cliff Lee’s pitching gem, and the Yankee bats whimpering throughout the night.

Cliff Lee, facing his former teammate, CC Sabathia, was brilliant last night, pitching a complete game one-run victory over the vaunted Yankees lineup. He struck out Jeter on a high fastball to start off the game and ended with 10 strikeouts on the night.

CC on the other hand labored at times, loaded the bases, and allowed two runs, both solo homers to Chase Utley. In between laboring, CC was brilliant and matched Lee at times. It just happened Lee was better.

The only brilliant spot in the Yankees’ offense was Derek Jeter’s offense. He went 3 for 4, with a double, and two singles. He also averted the possibility of the Yankees’ only shutout in Game 1 history by scoring in the bottom of the 9th off an error by Rollins that Mark Teixeira hit towards.

Tex and A-Rod struck out five times. This is something we cannot afford. This cannot happen in the next four games we need to win to get number twenty-seven.

Once CC exited in the seventh inning, the bullpen imploded. Phil Hughes walked the only two batters he faced and wasn’t man enough to stay in the clubhouse for the reporters. Damaso Marte followed Hughes and pitched slightly better. Then came Dave Robertson who allowed a hit and walked one. He finished the eighth to let Brian Bruney in. Bruney, in his first postseason appearance, was pathetic. Bruney allowed three hits and two runs in 1/3 of an inning, then Phil Coke came in finish the frame.

Simply put, the Yankees cannot keep doing this. If they do, this will be a quick series.

It’s AJ Burnett on the mound, with “Who’s Your Daddy?” Pedro Martinez on the opposite end. We all know who we’re rooting for.

Mark Teixeira hit the tiebreaking homer two pitches after Johnny Damon went deep in the eighth inning Sunday night, and the Yankees went on to beat the Red Sox 5-2 and complete their first four-game home sweep of their bitter rival in 24 years.

The two home runs came off off Daniel Bard couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. The inning before, Victor Martinez hit a two-run shot off Phil Coke. That jack had snapped the Red Sox’s 31-inning scoreless stretch.

Alex Rodriguez homered in the seventh inning to break the scoreless game and Nick Swisher added a two-run single later in the eighth to pad the lead.

The Bombers have won seven straight and built a 6½-game lead in the AL East — and have never failed to win the division when leading by more than six.

The Red Sox finished the disastrous series 3 for 38 with runners in scoring position, scoring two runs total the final three games. Their ugly scoreless streak against New York was Boston’s longest since a 34-inning stretch from Sept. 1-24, 1952.

Mariano Rivera worked around a leadoff single in the ninth for his major league-leading 32nd save.

A pitching duel between Andy Pettitte and Jon Lester began dissolving when Rodriguez hit a solo shot leading off the seventh inning, giving him 574 home runs and breaking a tie with Harmon Killebrew for ninth on the all-time list.

Pettitte gritted through seven innings, allowing five hits and two walks. He even out-pitched Lester – in my opinion — after Boston’s hard-throwing left-hander went seven innings and allowed one run.

The Yankees outscored the Red Sox badly, 25-8 in the sweep, which was a big reversal over the first 8 games between the two teams.

Like a friend said last night on Twitter, it’s momentum that carries a team. The Yankees have this huge momentum, of winning 31 of their last 41 games while the Red Sox have lost 14 of their last 21. The Yankees have all cylinders running and this is starting to look like the real Yankees.

Today they welcome back Toronto and it’s the R—————- guy against Sergio Mitre at 7:05pm.

The Yankees were able to right their ship, thanks to Tampa Bay’s defeat of Boston to go into a pivotal match-up this weekend against the Sox with a 8-4 victory over Toronto yesterday.

Johnny Damon hit a solo home run and had three RBIs, Nick Swisher also connected and the Yankees beat the Blue Jays 8-4 on Wednesday night.

The Yankees, who last played Boston June 9-11, have been outscored 55-31.

Alfredo Aceves (7-1) pitched two innings for the victory as the Yankees used a four-run seventh inning to win their third straight overall.

Phil Coke got two outs, Phil Hughes worked the eighth and David Robertson wrapped it up in the ninth for New York.

Damon went 3 for 5 and hit his second homer in two games, a solo shot off Brian Tallet in the ninth, his 19th.

Mike Rzepczynski (boy, that sure is a hard name to type!) had retired 10 straight when Swisher led off with a homer to left, his 18th. After Robinson Cano followed with a double, right-hander Josh Roenicke relieved.

Melky Cabrera grounded out, moving Cano to third, and pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui hit an RBI single. Jose Molina walked and Derek Jeter struck out before Damon and Teixeira followed with run-scoring singles. Rodriguez walked to load the bases for Swisher, who struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch.

Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the first against New York starter Sergio Mitre. The righty struck out the first two batters but followed that by giving up four straight hits, including RBI singles to Vernon Wells and Alex Rios.

The Yankees tied it in the third when Jerry Hairston walked, went to second on Jeter’s single and scored on a base hit by Damon. Teixeira followed with an RBI fielder’s choice.

Mitre, who allowed five runs and seven hits in just three innings in his last start, a 10-5 loss to the White Sox on July 31, was ineffective again in this one. The righty allowed three runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings and has not pitched into the seventh in any of his four Yankees starts. He walked two and struck out three.

Rodriguez started at DH but took over at third base in the seventh, forcing the pitcher into the lineup. Eric Hinske pinch hit for Coke in the seventh and restored New York’s three-run cushion with a sacrifice fly off Jesse Carlson.

Joba Chamberlain flew back to NY earlier in the day to get ready for his start tonight. The pitching match-ups favor the Yankees as Joba is the Yankees’ hottest starter after the All-Star break, and the rest of the pitchers coming up – Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia, and AJ Burnett all have the MLB’s best August record since 2005. Amazing.

The pitching rotation will be announced later today.

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