Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Yankees Walk Tightrope To Win

Whether you are a fan of the Yankees or Red Sox, last night’s game between the two was not an easy one to watch. The teams played their usual three-and-a-half hour plus game, home plate Ed Rapuano squeezed the strike zone tighter than the Boston Strangler, the benches emptied, batters were hit and not hit, and the two team’s pitching staffs escaped jam after jam. In the end though it was the Yankees doing the celebrating in a 5-2 win.

Managers Joe Girardi and Terry Francona try to publicly downplay the games between the two, but make no mistake this was an important win for the Bronx Bombers. For one thing CC Sabathia finally beat the Red Sox after losing his first four starts against them this season. The 18 game winner was far from perfect and threw a whopping 128 pitches in six innings, but left the game with a 4-2 lead.

The Yankees offense had several chances to bust the game open against Red Sox starter John Lackey, but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch. They did manage to put five runs across home plate, four of them earned, in Lackey’s seven innings of work.

Eric Chavez gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning, but Jorge Posada bounced into an inning ending double play with two aboard. The 3rd inning had similar results when Robinson Cano and Chavez delivered RBI hits for a 3-0 lead, but Posada once again bounced into an inning ending twin killing.

Sabathia worked his way out of early trouble, he got Jacoby Ellsbury to ground out with the bases loaded and two down in the 2nd, but couldn’t escape the 4th inning unscathed. Carl Crawford got Boston on the board with a solo home run and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald followed with singles. Sabathia struck out Ellsbury, but Marco Scutaro doubled in a run to cut the Yankees lead to 3-2. Sabathia had first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's number all night and struck him out to preserve the lead. (Sabathia would strike Gonzalez out three times.)

Francisco Cervelli led off the 5th with a solo home run and ignited some fire in Lackey and the Red Sox. As Cervelli stepped on home plate he clapped his hands together hard right in front of Saltalamacchia. Cameras caught Lackey glaring at Cervelli as he walked back to the visitor’s dugout. The next time Cervelli stepped into the box, Lackey drilled him up high and the benches empty. Cervelli had choice words for both Lackey and Saltalamacchia and Sabathia also yelled at his counterpart. (When asked after the game what he said, Cervelli said I don’t remember; I forgot English at that point and a lot of Spanish came out.)

Things settled down on the field, but Sabathia continued to walk the fine line between holding the lead and getting knocked out of the box. David Ortiz reached on a one out single in the bottom of the 5th and Jed Lowrie followed with a double to put the tying runs in scoring position. Crawford hit a bullet, but right at Cano for the second out and Sabathia struck out Saltalamacchia to end another threat.

Sabathia’s pitch count was already up to 100, but with a shortened bullpen (David Robertson was unavailable), Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild needed Sabathia to work another inning and the big lefty put up another goose egg on the scoreboard.

The bullpen had no easy time of either though. With Robertson out and Rafael Soriano pushed back to the 8th inning role, the Yankees relied on Corey Wade and Boone Logan to get them through the 7th inning. Wade retired Dustin Pedroia, but walked Ortiz and gave up a single to Lowrie. Logan came on to face Crawford, whose hot hitting continued with a lined single to left-center. The Yankees caught a break when Ortiz couldn’t get a good read on the ball and had to hold up at third base. Logan bounced back and K’ed Saltalamacchia and McDonald to get out of the jam.

Soriano was hit hard in the 8th, but turned the 5-2 lead over to Mariano Rivera in the 9th. Just like the rest of the game, the final inning wasn’t smooth sailing. Ortiz led off with a single to right that Nick Swisher played into a double. Rivera retired the next two hitters before hitting Saltalamacchia to bring the tying run to the plate. Earlier in the game Curtis Granderson appeared to be hit on the hand, but Rapuano ruled the ball hit the handle of the bat. Replays showed that it may very well have done both, but after inspecting Granderson’s hand, Rapuano stood by his call. When Saltalamacchia got hit he appeared to not be able to check his swing, which would result in a strike and negate the hit by pitch. But third base umpire Mark Wegner ruled that Saltalamacchia held up. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know Girardi was about to get tossed. He was before he even reached Wegner and unloaded the night’s frustrations on the ump.

Play resumed and Rivera retired pinch-hitter Josh Reddick on a line drive to left to earn his 35th save of the season. The Yankees cutter-man is now six saves away from 600 total and seven away from tying Trevor Hoffman for the all-time record.


Nick Swisher had a perfect night at the plate with three hits and a walk. The right fielder has a .978 OPS since the All-Star break compared to .783 beforehand.

Alex Rodriguez received a cortisone shot in his left thumb and was hopeful he could return for Thursday’s finale in Boston, though the opener of the Toronto series at home on Friday is a more likely scenario.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jeter Outlook Improves, A-Rod Gets MRI

After hearing Sunday night that Derek Jeter may miss the entire Boston series due to a sore knee, the outlook was more optimistic Monday night. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Jeter could have been used in an emergency situation and could very well be back in the lineup Tuesday, if not Wednesday in Boston.

The news wasn't as good for Alex Rodriguez, who jammed his left thumb upon his return from the DL against Minnesota on August 21. Though the MRI (in New York) was negative, A-Rod's thumb is still extremely sore and he is likely to miss the Red Sox series. Eric Chavez will fill in for him against right-handers John Lackey and Josh Beckett, but Eduardo Nunez would likely face lefty Jon Lester if Jeter is healthy enough to play shortstop.

One player shut down, and this is no surprise to anyone, is lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano. He felt what was described as "bad soreness" in his left shoulder and may finally be headed under the knife.

Garcia Seals Up Rotation Spot

With Joe Girardi announcing earlier in the day that he would go back to a five man rotation once the Yankees leave Boston Thursday night, Fredddy Garcia basically just had to prove his injured finger was healed in his start in Baltimore tonight. The 13 year veteran did more than that, holding the Orioles to a Mark Reynolds home run over six innings in a 3-2 Yankees win. The victory gave the Yankees a split of the four game series after losing the first two games.

After he allowed a 1st inning double to Adam Jones, Garcia retired 11 straight before he gave up Reynolds' 31st home run of the season. It would be the only two hits Garcia allowed. He walked just one batter and struck out four to improve 11-7 after sitting out three weeks due a kitchen mishap that left him with a cut finger on his pitching hand.

The Yankees got Garcia a run early on Orioles starter Alfredo Simon when Curtis Granderson drew a one out walk in the 1st inning and scored on Mark Teixeira's double. With no Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, the Yankees struggled on offense and managed just five hits on the night. But two big ones came in the 4th inning when Robinson Cano stroked a one out single and Nick Swisher followed with a 2-run home run over the high wall in right field for a 3-0 Yankees lead.

David Robertson allowed his first home run on the road this season, a solo shot by J.J. Hardy in the 8th, but Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera sandwiched scoreless innings around him to cut idle Boston's lead to 1 1/2 games. Rivera picked up his 34th save with a seamless 1-2-3 9th inning and is now just seven saves away from 600 for his career.


Curtis Granderson, who solely leads the AL in RBI and runs scored, is back in a tie for the home run lead after Toronto's Jose Bautista connected for his 38th of the season in a game against the Rays Monday night. Granderson struck out twice to raise his season total to 140. Just 10 strikeouts shy of 150, if he were to win the AL MVP Granderson would be just the fourth player to capture an MVP Award with at least 150 strikeouts. The others were Philly's Ryan Howard (181, 2006), the Cubs Sammy Sosa (171, 1998), and Boston's Mo Vaughn (150, 1995).

J.J. Hardy's home run tied his career high of 26 that he hit with Milwaukee in 2007.

Mark Teixeira's 1st inning RBI was his 100th of the season. It's the eighth straight season he's reached the century mark. His rookie year in Texas is the only time he fell short (84). Remarkably, Teixeira finished 5th in the AL Rookie of the Year voting that year behind winner Angel Berroa, Hideki Matsui (the rightful winner), Rocco Baldelli, and Jody Gerut. Seriously.

I'm Limping Up To Boston

The Yankees may be without the services of shortstop Derek Jeter for the upcoming series in Boston and possibly longer. "El Capitan" bruised his kneecap on a foul ball in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader and was a late scratch in the nightcap for that reason.

Though you know Jeter will be fighting to get into the lineup, it's likely that Eduardo Nunez is at shortstop for most, if not all, of the seriesi n Fenway Park that begins Tuesday night.

CC Sabathia hopes his problems with the Red Sox this season are resolved this time around. Sabathia is 0-4, 7.20 against Boston and 17-3, 2.40 against the rest of baseball. He's also not been as sharp since the All-Star break. His ERA is nearly a full point higher and he's already allowed more home runs than he did prior to the break. Ironically though, his
walks and hits per nine innings (WHIP) has gone down.

Phil Hughes follows Sabathia in the series and looks to bounce back from his horrendous outing against Oakland last week.

The Yankees got Hughes off the hook with a tremendous offensive outburst in a 22-9 win. Hughes' start could also be vital since Joe Girardi plans to go back to a five man rotation after the Boston series. With A.J. Burnett going in the series finale, Hughes can take a big step up if he has a productive outing.

Speaking of Burnett and the $33MM the Yankees still owe him and will likely be stuck with - I erroneously wrote earlier that there was on $22MM left, thinking of the deal he had previously signed with Toronto - Burnett's August records as a Yankee are 1-2, 11.91 (2011 - 5 starts),0-4, 7.80 (2010 - 5 starts), 0-4, 6.03 (2009 - 6 starts).

Boston will send out John Lackey,

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yankees Take Nightcap In Grandy Style

Curtis Granderson may insist he's not a home run hitter, but he's going to have to stop hitting them before anyone starts to believe him. Granderson added two more blasts tonight as the Yankees topped the Baltimore Orioles 8-3 to gain a split of the day-night doubleheader.

Granderson had already hit a 3-run shot in the 3rd when he came to bat again in the 7th and unloaded his Major League leading 38th home run of the year. It's the first time he's been in sole possession of teh home run lead. That was the cherry on top of the sundae for the Yankees who broke the game open in the 6th inning.

After a Mark Teixeira single, Robinson Cano blasted an opposite field 2-run home run off of start Brian Matusz for a 5-3 Yankees lead. Nick Swisher followed with a solo shot and Andruw Jones made it three straight with a long home run of his own.

That would be plenty of run support for Yankees' starter Ivan Nova, who earned his 14th win of the season. In doing so he became the first Yankees rookie pitcher to win 14 games since Ron Davis in 1979 and the first start since Doc Medich in 1973. The 24-yr old gave up single runs in each of the first three innings before settling down. He pitched into the 8th inning before giving way to David Robertson after he allowed a pair of base runners to reach to start the inning.

Robertson gave up a single to Adam Jones to load the bases, but baseball's Houdini performed his great escape act again. Robertson struck out Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds and Ryan Adams in succession to get out of trouble.


Derek Jeter was scheduled to play in the second game, but was a late scratch due to a sore knee. Alex Rodriguez also sat with his sore thumb. Marc Carig of the Star Ledger tweeted that neither is likely to play in the series finale Monday night according to Joe Girardi.

Have You Ever Seen The Run?

Bad puns come to mind when the Yankees lose, which is now somewhat habitual. Four losses in fives games to the "lowly" Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles. Hurricane Irene went through Baltimore and sun shined on Sunday afternoon in the first game of a day-night doubleheader, but apparently the Yankees offense got swept out to see.

Credit has to be given though to Orioles starter Zach Britton, who didn't make it out of the 1st inning the last time he faced a team that more resembled the "Bronx Bombers". This time around Britton limited the Yankees to four hits over seven innings and the Orioles shut out the Yankees 2-0. Jim Johnson tossed a scoreless 8th inning before closer Kevin Gregg got Alex Rodriguez to bounce into a game ending double play for his 19th save.

Yankees starter Bartolo Colon matched Britton zero for zero until the Orioles broke through in the 7th inning. Nick Markakis led off the inning with a double off the right field wall and came home on Vlad Guerrero's base hit.

The O's added a big insurance in the 8th with some help from the Yankees. Mark Reynolds hit a pop fly to center that was too shallow for centerfielder Curtis Granderson and too deep for second baseman Robinson Cano. The two closed in on the ball and it appeared one of them would make the grab, but instead the ball fell between a lunging Cano and a sliding Granderson. Ryan Adams then followed with a single to put runners on the corners with no one out.

Colon looked like he might get out of the jam after retiring Adam Jones on a comebacker and caught Robert Andino looking at a called third strike, but J.J. Hardy delivered a two out single to put the O's up 2-0.

Britton and company were outstanding as not one Yankee reached second base safely. Mark Teixeira had three of the five Yankees hits and only one other New York base runner reached on a walk.


Derek Jeter broke another franchise record when he appeared in his 2,402nd game as a Yankee, surpassing Mickey Mantle's total.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ladies, Derek Jeter Is Ready To Date You

I normally stay away from all personal matters involving athletes, but I am actually sorry to report this morning that Minka Kelly and Derek Jeter have split. The actress' PR people confirmed the story to People magazine.

The couple had been dating three years and Kelly had been there for all of Jeter's big moments during that time. There were rumors last year that the two were to be married. Did they split because Kelly still has a burgeoning acting career (She'll star in the series Charlie's Angels this Fall)? Did Jeter refuse to "Put a ring on it?"

Who knows, but ladies you now have a shot again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Martin Slams A's

The Oakland A's had already won the first two games of a three game series with the Yankees and had lambasted Phil Hughes to take a 7-1 lead Thursday afternoon. No one could have blamed Oakland for thinking they had a three game sweep wrapped up. But that was before Russell Martin and the Yankees had more grand slams than Denny's serves for Sunday morning breakfast.

Martin, who earlier hit a solo home run, added a grand slam to put the Yankees on top for good 10-7 en route to a 22-9 victory. Robinson Cano's grand slam had cut the A's lead to 7-6 and Curtis Granderson later added some extra icing on the cake with a Major League record third grand slam. Boone Logan struck out all four batters he faced for a well deserved win.

It was Martin though that ignited the Yankees with a 5-5, 6 RBI day. Unfortunately, his battery mate could match his success. Hughes gave up single runs in each of the first two innings and then was hammered and knocked from the game in the 3rd. The right-hander, who came in to the game with a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts, left the game down 4-1 and with two men aboard. Corey Wade then served up a gopher ball to Cliff Pennington for his sixth home run of the season.

Martin hit his solo shot off of A's starter Rich Harden in the 4th and the veteran right-hander would be deprived of a chance to win the game when he couldn't make it out of the 5th inning. Derek Jeter reached on a lead off single and Curtis Granderson followed with a walk. Harden struck out Mark Teixeira, but gave up a single to Alex Rodriguez to load the bases. Cano, who entered the game with a 1.221 OPS this season with ducks on the pond, crushed his second grand slam of the season to cut the A's lead to a single run. When Nick Swisher doubled, A's manager Bob Melvin had no choice to go to his bullpen. It wouldn't help.

Craig Breslow hit Granderson to start the 6th and out later Fautino De Los Santos walked Rodriguez. De Los Santos managed to strike out Cano, but after a wild pitch had moved both runners up, Melvin decided to intentionally walk Swisher to face Martin. The catcher went the opposite way for his third career grand slam to give the Yankees their first lead of the day.

The Yankees offense wasn't done though; they added six more runs in both the 7th and 8th innings, including Granderson's record settting slam and a long solo blast by Andruw Jones. A's rookie pitcher Bruce Billings took the brunt of the damage with seven runs allowed in just 1.1 innings pitched.


Granderson's home run pushed him over the decade mark in RBI (103) for the first time in his career. The home run (#36) also moved him one behind league leader Jose Bautista. The centerfielder also scored four more times to give him a Major League best 119 runs scored.

Derek Jeter was 3-6 and temporarily reached the .300 mark before making an out his final time up to drop him back to .299. He's had multiple hit performances in nine of his last 11 games.

Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Mark Teixeira was 0-4, but had 2 RBI to give him 98 on the season.

Jorge Posada finally made his big league debut at the position he was originally drafted at, second base. The final out of the game was a grounder to Posada, who wound up and fired a bullet in the dirt. Luckily, Nick Swisher made a terrific scoop to save Posada from an error on his one and only chance.

The start of the game was delayed nearly 1 and 1/2 hours by rain.

It was the first multi-grand slam day by the Yankees since Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams both connected on Sept. 14, 1999 against Toronto.

The 22 runs were the most allowed by the A's since they gave up 29 in a game in 1955.

RIP, Mike Flanagan

Sad and shocking news out of Baltimore last night when it was revealed that former Orioles star Mike Flanagan had died as the result of an apparent suicide. At first it was reported that a body was found on Flanagan's property and it was later revealed it was the one time Orioles ace. Police would not give any specific details of the death of Flanagan, who was just 59.

The southpaw was one of the best pitchers in baseball during the period from 1977 - 1984 and won the AL Cy Young Award in 1979 when he went 23-9, 3.08 with 190 strikeouts and a league high five shutouts. He also finished sixth in the AL MVP voting and helped the Orioles win the World Series over the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also earned a ring when the Orioles topped the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1983 Series.

Flanagan was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 1987 trade deadline, but returned to Baltimore for the final two seasons (1991-1992) of his 18 year career. Once his playing career was over Flanagan worked in the Orioles front office, as the team's pitching coach and was among the Orioles' broadcasters. Orioles owner Peter Angelos released the following statement:

"It is with deep sadness that I learned of the death of my friend Mike Flanagan earlier this evening. In over a quarter century with the organization, Flanny became an integral part of the Orioles family, for his accomplishments both on and off the field. His loss will be felt deeply and profoundly by all of us with the ballclub and by Orioles fans everywhere who admired him. On behalf of the club, I extend my condolences to his wife, Alex; and daughters Kerry, Kathryn and Kendall."

UPDATE - Flanagan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He left no note.

Yankees Get Burnt To A Crisp

The first rule of Baseball Club is that you DO discuss Baseball Club. The second rule is you don't give up home runs to Coco Crisp. The Yankees didn't abide by the latter and it cost them dearly in a 6-4 loss to the Oakland A's Wednesday night.

Crisp had already hit a solo home run off starter CC Sabathia when he unloaded a 3-run monster off of Rafael Soriano in the 10th inning to snap a 3-3 tie. Crisp entered the game with just three home runs in 469 plate appearances this season, but looked like the second coming of Babe Ruth (if Babe Ruth had a piercing in the side of his neck) in the Bronx.

The Yankees failed big time with runners in scoring position for the second straight night, had a rare bad night from the bullpen, and have allowed 12 runs in 19 innings of the series thus far to the normally anemic hitting A's. Despite the Yankees' failure in the clutch, thanks to a Nick Swisher home run and a Derek Jeter RBI single, they still maintained a 2-1 lead entering the 8th inning. But Kurt Suzuki led off the frame with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt, and scored the tying run on a Scott Sizemore double. That would be the last batter Sabathia would face. 8th inning man David Robertson came on and walked Jemile Weeks and then gave up a go ahead single to Crisp.

The lead was short lived as Mark Teixeira evened things up in the bottom of the inning with his 35th home run of the season, off of reliever Grant Balfour. Soriano who has been so good since coming off the DL, gave up back to back one out singles in the 10th before striking out Weeks. That brought up Crisp, who hit a no doubt about it shot to right to put a damper on the Yankees' night.

Swisher his his second home run of the game with two out in the 10th off of Andrew Bailey, but the A's closer picked up the save when he struck out Andruw Jones for the game's final out.


The Yankees were reportedly awarded a claim on Cubs' first baseman Carlos Pena, but Chicago is not expected to move him. GM Brian Cashman would not comment on the situation.

The A's won a series with the Yankees for the first time since 2007.

The Yankees had owned Trevor Cahill prior to last night. The right-hander was 0-4, 13.50 ERA in his previous starts. But the Yankees, who were 2-20 with RISP Tuesday night, were 1-8 last night. The worst failure came in the 7th inning when the Eduardo Nunez doubled and Francisco Cervelli followed with a bunt single. Reliever Brian Fuentes retired Brett Gardner on a pop up, Derek Jeter on a line out, and Curtis Granderson on a fly ball.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Missed It By That Much

No one appreciates the post walk-off pie in the face more the Yankees' Nick Swisher. The Yankees entertaining right fielder stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th last night with a chance to get a special delivery from A.J. Burnett.

It was Swisher's 8th inning 3-run home run that had cut the Oakland A's 6-0 lead in half. The Yankees had already scored a pair of runs in their last at-bat against A's closer Andrew Bailey and had the bases loaded witht two down. Bailey quickly fell behind 2-0 and had to come in with a strike. Swisher knew it, the crowd knew it, heck, even Michael Kay knew it. Swisher jumped all over Bailey's pitch and the ball soared into the night sky towards right-center.

A roar quickly went up from the crowd, but just as quickly died as centerfielder Coco Crisp settled under the ball, just shy of the wall, and closed his glove around it for the final out. There was no pie celebration.

The loss combined with the Red Sox win over the Rangers put the two teams back in a tie atop the AL East, though technically the Yankees are ahead by .002. Bartolo Colon struggled and appears to be tiring down the stretch. It wouldn't be surprising to see Colon find his way to the DL when Freddy Garcia returns. One guy who wasn't tired last night was rookie Brad Allen, who hit a pair of tape measure shot to ignite the A's offense. His 2nd inning blast reached the third deck in right and his 8th inning monster off of Hector Noesi proved to be the difference in the ball game. Fellow rookie Eric Sogard also hit his first Major League home run against Colon.

The story of the game though was A's starter Brandon McCarthy, who is enjoying his best season in the Major Leagues. The win matched McCarthy's previous career high of seven and it was his sixth victory in his last eight starts. The Yankees had at least one base runner on in all but one of McCarthy's 7.2 IP, but couldn't come up with a clutch hit. That included the 5th inning when Jorge Posada reached on a lead off double and was stranded there. Posada also ignited the 9th inning rally with a solo home run and Robinson Cano picked up an RBI when he walked with the bases loaded. But there was no joy in Pieville.


Derek Jeter enjoyed a perfect night, going 3 for 3 with a walk and a sacrifice bunt, and raised hit batting average to .295. Though Jeter has a tendency to hit into double plays, it was a curious decision by Joe Girardi to bunt his hottest hitter in the 9th with two on and none out.

Alex Rodriguez had his hand taped/bandaged up after jamming his left thumb in Minnesota on Sunday. X-Rays were negative and A-Rod is listed as day-to-day.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nova Ramps Up ROY Resume

After all the agita caused by A.J. Burnett's performance and subsequent tantrum, it was a pleasure to watch Sunday afternoon's outstanding performance by Ivan Nova. The result was a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Twins and concluded a 5-2 road trip. One of the leading candidates for AL Rookie of the Year, Nova was at his best in the 5th inning when the Minnesota Twins put two aboard with no one out.

After Jim Thome's lead off single, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher nearly collided and missed Danny Valencia's fly ball for a gift double. Nova, not a strikeout pitcher, needed one with two runners in scoring position. Not only did he get one, but he got two. First Nova threw one a third strike past outfielder Rene Tosoni and followed it up by getting Matt Tolbert to chase a pitch out of the strike zone. Drew Butera then hit a harmless grounder to Mark Teixeira and a fired up Nova came out of the inning unscathed.

Nova improved to 13-4, 3.97 and has won his last six starts. Nova picked up the win in his last start despite having allowed seven earned runs in 5.1 innings. In the other five decisions, Nova has a 1.93 ERA, and has struck out 24 compared to seven walks. Overall, the rookie has won his last nine decisions, the first time a Yankees pitcher had done that since Whitey Ford was a pup in 1950. In doing so, Nova put himself at the forefront of the rookie voting along with Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo and Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.

The Yankees wasted some early opportunities against Twins starter Nick Blackburn, who left the game in the 2nd inning with a forearm strain, but not before loading the bases. Lefty Andy Swardzak came back from a 3-0 count to strike out Eduardo Nunez and got Derek Jeter on a hard liner to right.

The Yankees finally broke through in the 6th when Robinson Cano doubled off Phil Dumatrait and came around on fly outs by Nick Swisher and Russell Martin. The Twins put two runners on in the bottom of the 6th, but Nova struck out Thome to strand them. And again the Yankees answered with offense in their half of the inning.

Curtis Granderson hit a deep drive off of Jose Mijares to right-center that appeared would be his 35th home run of the season. But the ball against one of Target Field's high walls and shot between centerfielder Ben Revere and right fielder Luke Hughes. Granderson raced around the bases and was waved home by third base coach Rob Thomson. Granderson slid in well ahead of the throw for an inside-the-park home run. The Grandy Man got his 35th after all to tie Jose Bautista for the MLB lead.

The Yankees weren't done yet though. Mark Teixeira, hitting from the right side, smacked a laser into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead. It was Teixeira's 34th of the season. Nova tired, but finished seven innings before turning things over to the pen. There was some more excitement in the 9th when David Robertson did one of his high wire acts. The Twins put runners on the corners with one out, but D-Rob struck out Jason Kubel for the second out. A Thome walk loaded the bases, but Robertson retired Valencia on a harmless fly to Swisher in right to end the frame.


Alex Rodriguez was activated prior to the game and went 0-5 in his first game since July 7. Aaron Laffey was sent to the minors to make room on the roster.

Derek Jeter had an infield single his first time up and finished the road trip 14-31 (.452).

The Yankees had Monday off before starting a three game series at home against the Oakland A's.

Factoid from the YES Network; since 2002, playoffs included, the Yankees are 62-20 against the Twins.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Burnett Must Go

It's one thing when a pitcher struggles, when he can't find his command, when he can't find any consistency. Those things can sometimes be corrected. Sometimes they cannot depending on the pitcher. A.J. Burnett has struggled with consistency and all of the above issues for his entire career. But in tonight's game, one in which Burnett was horrible from start to not-even-coming-close to the finish, he overstepped the bounds of the pitcher-manager relationship...again.

Burnett had already allowed four runs to the Minnesota Twins and had loaded the bases with two outs in just the second inning of play. When Burnett issued his third free pass of the inning, Joe Girardi had seen enough. In past starts, Burnett's body language had made it clear he was not happy with Girardi's decision to pull him from the game. Tonight, Burnett went beyond that. He walked off the mound, turned back and said "This is fucking bullshit!". Girardi didn't acknowledge his pitcher's wrath, but when Burnett took it one step further by leaving the dugout while the runners he was responsible for were still on base, Girardi had seen enough. He followed Burnett down towards the clubhouse, and though we don't know what was said (which will surely be downplayed by Girardi), Burnett returned to bench.

Burnett then saw his ERA blow up even further when all three inherited runners crossed home plate against Luis Ayala. It was a fitting punishment for the walking tantrum that Burnett has become. Last season in a fit of frustration Burnett cut both his hands when he slammed them against a shower door. It all shows that A.J. Burnett has to be gone after this season. His teammates may publicly defend him and stand by him, but behind the scenes you can bet this doesn't sit well, particularly with Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera.

Burnett may apologize, and may say all the right things, but that doesn't change things. I was critical of GM Brian Cashman's recent defense of Burnett's performance this year, but now I understand that Cashman has to keep things positive if he is to trade Burnett in the off-season. Let me re-phrase that, when Cashman trades him in the off-season. He has no choice. And with "just" two years and a little over $20MM remaining on Burnett's deal, Cashman should be able to find a taker, esp. in the NL.

The Yankees don't have the same swagger when Burnett is on the mound and you can bet they don't have confidence in him. It's no coincidence that Burnett gets so little run support. It's not a scheme, as I have joked about in the past, but a player's psyche definitely affects their play. It's no different than seeing a team's defense back on their heels because a pitcher is walking the park. When the Yankees were down 7-0, they were already beaten. Yes, they've gotten Burnett off the hook before, but to be down that much, that early, the team was literally in a no-win situation.

It's time for Burnett to languish in the bullpen. No one needs to be reminded by Girardi or Cashman about the big win Burnett had in the road to the championship two seasons ago. That's ancient history. The Yankees NEED to win the AL East and get home field advantage, at least for one round of the playoffs. That is their best shot. It's also in their best interest to be running both Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova out there every fifth day when Freddy Garcia returns.

The Yankees are almost assuredly going to the post-season, but Girardi has no idea in his mind right now who will follow CC Sabathia in the playoff rotation. But one thing is clear, A.J. Burnett is not an option.

Twins Have Their Phil Of Yankees

The Minnesota Twins have been perennial contenders in the AL Central for more than a decade, but this year has been a complete disaster. Injuries, sub-par performance...basically anything that can go wrong has for Minnesota in 2011 has gone wrong. It can't help their psyche any to be facing the Yankees right now considering the beat down the New Yorkers have constantly put on the state whose politicians have ranged from Jesse Ventura to Al Franken to Michelle Bachmann (nutty, nuttier, nuttiest?).

The Yankees pounded Kevin Slowey and the Twins Friday night 8-1 to take the first two games of the four game set. The Twins will have a chance to add to A.J. Burnett's misery on Saturday, but there are no guarantees, except for tough times, for the Twins. (Who I picked to win the division)

Last night's game was about the battery of Phil Hughes and catcher Russell Martin. Hughes was at his best and has gotten stronger in each of his most recent outings since he returned from a long stint on the DL with a strained shoulder. After he gave up a solo home run to Trevor Plouffe (what a great name) in the 1st inning, Hughes kept the Twins hitless until the non-related Luke Hughes singled in the 8th.

Hughes had a lively fastball with movement and 70 of his 106 pitches were for strikes., and went the deepest he had into a ballgame all year. In his last four starts Hughes has allowed six earned runs in 25.2 innings (2.10 ERA) and has limited opponents to 18 hits. Half of those came in one outing against the A's.

Martin helped his buddy out by homering off of Slowey in the 3rd and 6th innings. He smacked a hanging breaking ball into the left field seats to tie the game at 1-1 and then with a man aboard turned on a fastball for his 15th home run of the season. Martin, who also homered in his last appearance on Thursday, hit a combined 12 home runs his last two seasons in LA. Both players were complimentary of each other's performance after the game when speaking with reporters. And Hughes has put his arm back in the race for a top three playoff start.


Mark Teixeira knocked in three runs and reached 1,000 RBI in his career.

Thanks to @yestoresearch for answering my question, "Who was the last Yankees catcher, if any, to hit three home runs in a single game?" The answer - Mike Stanley in 1995 and Bill Dickey in 1936 were the Yankees catchers to perform the feat.

Derek Jeter had two more hits to raise his average to .292.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blue Makes Yankees See Red

It was only a matter of time today before Major League Baseball admitted the umpires blew it when they didn't overturn a home run hit by the Kansas City Royals Billy Butler last night. The run was significant in the Royals 5-4 win over the New York Yankees, and while the correct call would not necessarily have meant the Yankees would have won the game (the home run put KC up 4-2 at the time), it was another example of just how poor big league umpiring has become.

Bad calls have been made many times over the years, and it's expected, the umpires are human and therefore fallible. It's easy to remember bad calls over the years- the missed call at first base that cost the 1985 Cardinals the World Series, the Jeffrey Maier incident in the '96 ALCS, and Joe Mauer's double that wasn't a double in the '09 ALDS are among the bad calls in crucial situations. But bad calls and poor judgement are becoming more and more prevalent, whether it cost a pitcher (Armando Galarraga) a perfect game or takes away an at-bat with an erratic ball-strike zone.

But when an umpiring crew cannot get a call right with the use of instant replay it's time to go back to the drawing board. Whether it be a point system where umpires are graded to determine if they get to work in the Major Leagues the follow season or are docked pay based on performance, something has to be done.

After the game Joe Girardi regretted not protesting the game, but there's no point since there's nothing more futile than a baseball protest. It was a futile night all told. The real reason the Yankees lost was a poor performance by starter Bartolo Colon and the failure to take care of offensive threats.

Colon was shaky and deliberate all night. He didn't have his usual positive energy on the mound nor the location of his pitches. Curtis Granderson's 34th home run of the season had helped stake the Yankees to a 2-0 lead, but Colon couldn't hold the Royals down in the 3rd inning. Alex Gordon belted his 15th home run of the season with two aboard to put the Royals on top for good, 3-2. One out later, came Butler's drive to left field that bounced off of the padding atop the wall and back into play. Brett Gardner quickly got the ball back in, but the umpires ruled a home run.

During a long replay review, Butler knew what the right call was and prepared to go back on the field with a double,. Television cameras caught Butler's sheepish grin when the umpires upheld the call and also the fury that no one knew Mariano Rivera was capable of. The Yankees closer barked out at the umpires and had to be quieted down by coach Tony Pena and Girardi so he would not get ejected. Rivera was still angry after the game while speaking with reporters.

The Yankees had a chance in the 9th to at least tie things up against Royals closer Joakim Soria, who has pitched far below his normal excellence this season. The Yankees loaded the bases on a Derek Jeter single and walks to Granderson and Mark Teixeira. That set the stage for a big battle with Robinson Cano, who had delivered a key three run home run the night before. But Soria made a big pitch and got Cano to fly out to left. Though Jeter scored to cut the lead to 5-4, the Yankees were down to their final out.

After a passed ball moved the tying and go ahead runs into scoring position, Soria issued another free pass to Nick Swisher to reload the bases. That brought up the birthday boy Jorge Posada, who turned 40 on Wednesday. This past Saturday Posada delivered twice the bases loaded, putting up six RBI in the process. It wasn't meant to be this time as Posada never got the bat off his shoulder. A 1-0 pitch missed the zone, but was called a strike by home plate ump Chad Fairchild, changing the tenor of the at-bat. Posada eventually looked at a called third strike on a pitch that was border line, but too close to take.


Prospect Dellin Betances was promoted to Triple-A Scranton.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Yankees Batter Royals

Rookie Ivan Nova picked up his 12th win last night against the Kansas City Royals, but it was thanks in large part to the pounding the Yankees' bats put on fellow rookie Dan Duffy. Nova struggled in the early going, settled down for a couple of innings, and then was pulled when the Royals had cut a three run deficit to a single run in the 6th inning.
Boone Logan, with the help of a diving stop by Mark Teixeira, kept the lead and the Yankees bullpen trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera slammed the door on any hopes of a Royals comeback.

Nova can thank Robinson Cano most of all for adding to his win total, which is second only to CC Sabathia on the team. With two aboard in the 4th inning, Cano battled Duffy through a 12 pitch at-bat until the All-Star Home Run Derby king delivered a 421 ft. blast into the right field seats to put the Yankees on top for good 8-5.

Derek Jeter (5 RBI in the first two games of the series) and Russell Martin added a pair of RBI each and Martin continued his hot play behind the plate when he gunned down Jeff Francouer on an attempt to steal second base.
For Nova it was a night off from the consistency he had shown in his last half dozen starts. But the seven earned runs he allowed in 5.1 innings shouldn't have a big impact on Joe Girardi's thinking. Nova has been better more often and longer this season (and in the stretch drive) than either Phil Hughes or A.J. Burnett.

Rivera breezed through the 9th inning for the second straight night, struck out a pair, and picked up his 32nd save. The Yankees four relievers did not allow a single base runner in 3.2 IP.


Royals manager Ned Yost was tossed in the 4th after a trip to the mound. His real purpose was to complain to home plate ump Kerwin Danley about squeezing the strike zone on his prized rookie. Danley had a bad night behind the plate with the consistency of his strike zone and drew the ire of both teams.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Burnett Rollercoaster Continues

The A.J. Burnett debate continues - despite a shaky 5.2 IP outing, the Yankees erratic right-hander won his first game in the month of August since he's been in New York. The Yankees topped the Kansas City Royals 7-4 for their second straight win, which enabled to move into a first place tie with the idle Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Burnett would not have gotten the win if not for some timely hitting and defense though. Handed a 2-0 lead, Burnett got tagged for three runs by the Royals in the 5th inning. After loading the bases, Burnett walked former Yankee Melky Cabrera to cut the lead in half. Billy Butler then ripped a two run single to right to give KC their lone lead of the night. The play was also the first big defensive play of the inning.

Right fielder Nick Swisher raced over and made a sliding stop of Butler's hit. It kept the the KC DH to a single and also kept a double play in order. And that's exactly what Burnett got, with some major help from Robinson Cano. The Yankees second baseman ranged far to his left to spear Eric Hosmer's grounder and whipped a throw to Derek Jeter to start an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
Jeter then provided the big hit when the Yankees took the lead right back in the top of the 6th. Consecutive singles by Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, and Brett Gardner tied the game at 3-3. The Jeter, who with three hits raised his average to .282, delivered a two run triple up the gap in right-center to put the Yankees back on top for good.
Burnett came back out for the 6th, but Joe Girardi went to the bullpen with a man and two outs, and lefty Mike Moustakas due up. Boone Logan came on and ended the inning by picking rookie second baseman Johnny Giavotella off of first base. It went down as a caught steal as Giavotella tried to advance to second base, but was thrown out by Mark Teixeira.
The Yankees went to their "big three" to finish things out. Rafael Soriano gave up a run for the first time since coming off the DL, but Mariano Rivera made quick work in the 9th for his 31st save.


Jorge Posada said prior to the game that he would like to play another season even as a part-time contributor. If that is to be the case, it certainly wouldn't be with the Yankees. It would be a shame to see Posada end his career with another team, though it will be no easy task getting a job with another ball club.
Having not caught for a year, immobility, hitting barely over .100 from the right side, and struggling from the left are not things that are conducive to a new contract.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You Can't Predict Baseball Suzyn

John Sterling is right again! Earlier this week Curtis Granderson got picked off to end a loss to the Angels with Mark Teixeira at the plate. The next night Granderson homered in the first inning and again later in the game in a Yankees win.

Friday night CC Sabathia got pounded by the Rays for a career high five home runs for his second straight loss. Then on Saturday Jorge Posada emerged from oblivion to hit a grand slam, collected three hits, and drove in six runs in the Yankees 9-2 pasting of Tampa Bay.

Phil Hughes also emerged from the shadows to throw six very effective innings to pick up his third win. The performance could have made Joe Girardi's decision regarding the rotation that much tougher, but for now Girardi is off the hook thanks to a cut suffered earlier this week by Freddy Garcia.

Girardi revealed the news during his post-game press conference. The cut won't allow Garcia to grip the baseball properly and he's out indefinitely. Weather permitting, A.J. Burnett will face James Shields in the series finale on Sunday before the Yankees embark on a seven game swing through KC and Minnesota.

Posada came up with the bases loaded his first time up and ripped a 2-run single to right. After Granderson took Jeremy Hellickson deep to tie Jose Bautista for the Major League lead with 33 home runs in the 5th, Posada broke the game open later in the inning with a slam off Brandon Gomes for a 7-0 lead. It would be all Hughes needed. With pressure on the 25-yr old to deliver, Hughes allowed four hits, walked one, and struck out six. He gave up both runs in his final inning, including a home run by Desmond Jennings.


Before the game, Derek Jeter was presented with several momentos for his 3,000th hit. Jeter gave his batting gloves and helmet to the Hall of Fame.

The Yankees brought back one of their own, signing Scott Proctor to a minor league contract.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Post Office Puts Its Stamp On Hitting Streak

The United States Postal Service announced on Monday that a brand new stamp in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak.

The stamps will be released in 2012 as part of an All-Star series. Three other unnamed players will also receive the honor. The stamp is the first bearing DiMaggio's likeness and was called "long overdue" by a USPS spokesman.

Monday, August 8, 2011

FullCountPitch | July Trades Bring August Gambles

Wandy Rodriguez will be among those dangled on waivers

With the trade deadline concluded a week ago Sunday, teams must now pass players through waivers to deal with any team. All waivers are revocable, so general managers can dangle any players out there and not worry about automatically losing them.

Just to quickly recap the rules…if a player is claimed by one team on waivers, that is the only team the orginal team can try to make a trade with. If more than one team makes a claim, the team with the worst record is the only team that can make a deal. If the player’s team pulls him back off waivers, he can still be put on waivers again in September. However, if anyone claims the player at that time, he is all their’s, free and clear.

Teams will pick up players as late as September even if it means said player isn’t eligible for the post-season. The 1977 Yankees were a powerhouse, but still grabbed Dave Kingman for the stretch run. “Kong” hit four home runs in eight games and slugged his way to an 1.167 OPS. (Imagine if Kingman and Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui ever had the chance to oppose each other.)

Then there are the gamblers, like White Sox GM Kenny Williams who claimed Alex Rios and his over the top contract. Rios’ current employer, the Toronto Blue Jays, said “He’s all yours”. It used to be no one would be claimed on waivers, effectively allowing any trades to be worked out. But then teams started saying the hell with that and blocked deals by claiming players to prevent the competition from getting him. The Yankees got saddled with Jose Canseco in 2000 when they claimed him just to keep him away from the Red Sox.

Other players have had a major impact on their new team. Outfielder Cody Ross was a key component to the Giants World Series title after being picked up on August 21. So who might be dealt post-deadline in 2011, or outright grabbed on waivers? Who might a team take a chance on?

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