Friday, June 29, 2012

Yankees Throw Away Winning Streak in 9th

photo courtesy of NY Post

The Yankees had everything going their way last night against the Chicago White Sox. They had built 3-1 lead behind a strong 7+ inning start from Ivan Nova, a Mark Teixeira solo home run, and a pair of hard hit doubles by Alex Rodriguez.

But what the Yankees didn't have was Rafael Soriano to pitch the 9th inning and that's when the Yankees met their Waterloo. Rather than start the inning with David Robertson, Joe Girardi stayed with Cody Eppley, who had entered the game in the 8th inning. When Eppley allowed a lead off single to Alex Rios, Girardi opted for lefty Clay Rapada to face left-handed hitting A.J. Pierzynski.

Rapara got just what he needed, a groundball right at him. But instead of starting a 1-6-3 double play, Rapada threw well wide of Derek Jeter, who was covering second base on the play, and the ball sailed into centerfield. Instead of two out and none on, the White Sox had runners on the corners with no one out.

Girardi then went to Robertson, who promptly served up a gopher ball to Dayan Viciedo and the Yankees trailed 4-3 just like that. Dewayne Wise reached on a lead off single to start the bottom of the 9th against White Sox closer Addison Reed, but Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones both made outs without advancing the runners.

Derek Jeter gave the fans a momentary reason to roar when he ripped a line drive to deep right field, but Rios playing deep in a no doubles defense, snared the ball in front of the wall. Game over. 5 game winning streak over.

Robertson said after the game that he prefers to start the inning, but admitted he's come in these situations before and he didn't get the job done. It was a toss up for who felt worse, Robertson or Rapada, whose face sank when Jeter made the last out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hughes Bounces Back With Help of an Un-Wise Ump

Photo courtesy of

Phil Hughes needed a boost of confidence after last week's home run derby loss to the Atlanta Braves. He got it in the form of eight shutout innings in the Yankees 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night.

It may not have had a real impact on the game, but Hughes also got some help from third base umpire Mike DiMuro on a foul pop in the 7th inning. With a runner on third base and two outs, Indians' third baseman Jack Hannahan lifted a pop up into foul territory on the left side of the field.  Yankees left fielder Dewayne Wise leapt for the ball and fell into the stands. When he got up, DiMuro signaled that Hannahan was out. But DiMuro never checked for the baseball.

Replays showed the ball actually hit the heel of Wise's glove and immediately popped out. The Indians went along with the play until they saw the replay themselves. DiMuro assumed Wise caught the ball - he never actually checked if Wise had it. Hannahan went ballistic when he returned to the field and was ejected from the game (ironically, his replacement Jose Lopez smacked a 3-run home run off of Corey Wade in the 9th).

So while the play was "Jeterian" in nature, Derek actually caught the ball when he dove into the stands. Wise wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Even Indians' manager Manny Acta agreed that you take the out no matter how you get it. Deadspin has video showing the fan who ended up with the baseball..well away from Wise.

As for the Yankees offense, Curtis Granderson and Chris Stewart drove in two runs each and Alex Rodriguez hit a long solo home run. Indians' starter Justin Masterson struggled with his control - he threw 114 pitches in six innings - and gave up four earned runs.

Besides Wise's non-catch and Jeter's 38th birthday (his parents and sister were in attendance), Hughes  was the story of the game. He pitched efficient innings, had command of his fastball, and improved his recrod to 8-6.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Which Came First? The Pollo or The Juevos? Doesn't Matter, Home Runs Came Last

Frank Francisco made called the Yankees chickens prior to the weekend series between the Mets and Yankees. Of course, no one knew what the hell he was talking about, so they weren't insulted. Perhaps Francisco though he was Pedro Cerrano from Major League who wanted to sacrifice a chicken before the big game.

Francisco created a stir mainly among the Mets and the fans, and the NY Post came up with one of their ridiculous cover pages. It turned out Francisco was referring to the Yankees allegedly constantly complaining about ball and strike calls.

Of course there are certain people who should just keep his mouth shut. Especially idiots who once threw a chair in the crowd and injured two fans.

Yes, Francisco saved Friday night's 6-4 Mets win over the Yankees, but karma is a bitch, and apparently Francisco hurt his oblique. Perhaps it was from his jolly laughter about the whole chicken incident and his subsequent back track of his words.

Saturday night it looked like Francisco, before we knew he probably unavailable, might be called on again. But those things they call home runs, which Mets fans thought the Yankees couldn't hit in their spacious ball park, changed all that. Ivan Nova left in the 6th inning, trailing 3-0. He had allowed a home run to Kirk Nieuwenhuis and an Alex Rodriguez error led to an unearned run.

The Yankees were barely touching 6'10" Mets' starter Chris Young, who at times looked like he was dunking the baseball in the catcher Josh Thole's mitt. But after putting two aboard in the 7th inning, Young saw his lead slip away when Raul Ibanez hit a frozen rope over the wall in right to tie the game.

Two batters later pinch-hitter Eric Chavez did his Niewenhuis imitation by hitting an opposite field home run to left to give the Yankees their first lead of the night. Then it was up to the bullpen.

Boone Logan K'ed two to end the 8th; David Robertson did his Houdini act in the 8th when he walked two, but struck out the side, and Rafael Soriano finished it off in the 9th with two more K's and a Mets' stranded runner.

So the Yankees home runs stole one and the series is tied one apiece with a great rubber game Sunday night between CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey. We'll see who laughs last.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yankees and Mets Round 2

As soon as the deluge stops at Citi Field, the Yankees and Mets will start a three game weekend series, with nationally televised games on Saturday (FOX) and Sunday (ESPN).

In honor of the second half of the series (the Yankees swept three games at Yankee Stadium), here's the top 5 memorable Yankees-Mets encounters that I wrote for Yahoo.

Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, Derek Jeter, yup they're all in there.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It Is High, It Is Far, etc.

Yesterday's performance by Phil Hughes was about as ugly as the weather the last two days. I saw more sweat stains than I care to remember.

Hopefully, it's a 2-game blip and the starting pitching gets back on track against the Mets this weekend. Sunday night's matchup between CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey at Citi Field should be fantastic. In the battle of the initials, CC is actually the underdog right now. That's because of the amazing season Dickey is having for the Mets.

Dickey has thrown back to back 1-hitters, thankfully the hit in the second game was clean so there was no nonsense by the Mets organization trying to get it changed to a hit (the only worse recent performance was by Mets' fans who booed Jason Bay when he crashed into the wall and ended up with a concussion), and struck out double digits with his amazingly controlled knuckleball.


Tyler Austin, the hot hitting outfielder for the Charleston RiverDogs, will represent the Yankees in the Futures Game during the All-Star break. But if you are wondering how the top 10 rated Yankees prospects are doing, click here to read the piece I wrote for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Mason Williams, and more.

The Yankees hope Omar Rodriguez becomes one of the top 10 prospects in the near future. The 19-yr old Cuban and the Yankees agreed to a deal that I detailed in this Yahoo Contributor Network piece.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All Good Things Come To An End

The Yankees 10 game winning streak got snapped tonight by the Atlanta Braves, who had lost 4 straight to the Bombers over the last week.

After last night's beautiful pitching performance by CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda couldn't follow suit and gave up four runs in seven innings. The Yankees bats didn't show much outside of Nick Swisher's 2-run double in the 1st inning. The Bombers also had a pair of runners thrown out at the plate, though was merely the result of the contact play. 4-3, the final.

One thing that didn't occur tonight, at least not to my knowledge, was Derek Jeter and/or Alex Rodriguez hurdling over another Hall of Fame member on the all time hitting lists. But that is my latest piece for the Yahoo Contributor Network: Jeter and A-Rod Climb the Ladder of Success: A Fan's Take. Hope you enjoy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Yankees Continue to Bust Up the NL East

Ivan Nova was the latest and greatest for the Yankees pitching staff Sunday afternoon, limiting the Washington Nationals to a run over 7.2 innings for his 9th win of the year. It was also the Yankees' 9th straight win, all against the NL East.

The Yankees began the roll with a sweep of the Mets at home, then went on the road to Atlanta and our nation's capital to take six straight from the Braves and Nats. The team returns home Monday for three games with the Braves (why are they playing Atlanta twice?) and then after an off day on Thursday, face the Mets again at Citi Field in the other half of the "Battle for New York".

The Yankees pitching has been the key throughout the streak, which in addition to the nine straight, has produced 19 wins in 23 games.

I recently wrote about the staff's contributions for the Yahoo Contributor Network: - Yankees Rotation Spins Team to theTop: A Fan's Take. Andy Pettitte's return has been the impetus for the rotation's improvement, and in fact, Pettitte has been working with Phil Hughes and Nova since his time back.

Other recent YCN pieces I have written (yeah, I have been behind on My Pinstripes) are about A-Rod's tying Lou Gehrig for the career grand slam record and about the Yankees drafting of Ty Hensley in the first round. I hope you'll get a chance to check them out.

Injury Notes

David Robertson got reactivated this week and showed some rust his first time back. Rafael Soriano, albeit for one outing, has been outstanding in the closer role. And the Yankees will be strengthened with DRob back in his 8th inning spot.

Nick Swisher sat out Sunday's game as a precaution after taking a knee to the thigh on Saturday. Swisher was thrown out at the plate and catcher Jesus Flores impacted Swisher's leg as he applied the tag.

Brett Gardner says he'll be back this season and surgery is not necessary. While the latter may be true, the former doesn't sound so certain. While Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have seen increased playing time, you can bet Brian Cashman will look for some younger help so the two oldsters don't wear down.

The Birth of the Rhythmic Clap

34 years ago today, June 17, 1978, the two strike rhythmic clap was born. And it's all because of a masterful performance by the Yankees' Ron Guidry in an amazing season.

1978 was a crazy time in the Bronx; Billy Martin fired and re-hired for the future. The Yankees sat 14 1/2 games back of Boston in July before a miraculous comeback and a one game playoff victory that gave Bucky Dent a rude nickname in Boston and led to another World Series championship. There was one consistent that season and it was Ron Guidry. The lefty, who nearly quit the game out of frustation two years earlier (and was nearly dealt by George Steinbrenner), had the most dominant season baseball had seen in years.

It included a Saturday night in the Bronx against the California Angels when Guidry set the team record for strikeouts with 18. It was that night that the fans began to clap with excitement each time Guidry got two strikes on a batter. A tradition was born.

The strikeout victims:
1st inning: Rick Miller, Joe Rudi
2nd inning: Brian Downing
3rd inning: Ike Hampton, Bobby Grich, Rudi
4th inning: Don Baylor, Ron Jackson, Merv Rettenmund
5th inning: Hampton, Grich
6th inning: Dave Chalk, Rudi, Baylor
7th inning: Downing
8th inning: Hampton
9th inning: Chalk, Rudi

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pettitte Continues to Amaze

Andy Pettitte continues to amaze. After taking a year-plus off to re-connect with his family, Pettitte is back in the Yankees rotation and hasn't skipped a beat. Yes, he's had a couple of rought outings (Seattle, LAA), but he's still knows how to pitch and pitch at a high level.
Last night, Pettitte dominated the Tampa Bay Rays in the Yankees 7-0 white-washing of their AL East foe.  The win moved the Bombers to within 1/2 game of first place, behind both the Rays and Orioles. The three teams are even in the loss column.
Pettitte struck out a season high 10 hitters and has struck out 32 batters in 35.2 innings, while he has issued just seven walks. Pettitte's success has surprised his manager, but Joe Girardi has been surprised by the number of K's Pettitte has this season. Not known as a strikeout pitcher, Pettitte usually gets most of his outs via the ground. But last night Pettitte was buoyed  by a sharp 2-seam fastball that he was encouraged to throw by pitching Larry Rothschild who had monitored his bullpen warmup.
Five of Pettitte's strikeouts occurred when he struck out the last two hitters in the 2nd inning and then proceeded to strike out the side in the 3rd. Pettitte's 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings is higher than CC Sabathia's rate and is tied with Phil Hughes for highest among the team's starters.
The Yankees bats also gave the tall Texan plenty to work with. After scoring a pair of unearned runs off of Rays' starter James Shields in the 1st inning, Russell Martin broke the game open with a grand slam in the 4th inning. Martin entered the game hitting just .194, but got back above the "Mendoza Line", for the first time since May 6, with three hits. More than his own grand slam, Martin told YES' Meredith Marakovits just how impressed he was with Pettitte's steady approach and execution.
Pettitte has now won 206 games as a Yankee and 243 overall. The latter total tied him with Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for 53rd on the all-time career victory list.