Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Jayson Gets Big Hit Just in the Nix of Time

Nix's game winner - courtesy of
The Yankees were this close to a miserable 1-6 West Coast swing against the Oakland A's and Seattle Mariners, but Jayson Nix delivered a go ahead 3-run double in the 8th inning and the Yankees topped the Mariners 5-2 Wednesday afternoon.

Unless GM Brian Cashman pulls off a deal for another asset, Nix and Eric Chavez will be looked upon to provide production at third base in light of Alex Rodriguez's broken hand. Nix entered the game hitting just .235 with 7 RBI, and faced a bases loaded situation after Josh Kinney hit Derek Jeter to start the 8th and Lucas Luetge gave up back to back singles to Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira.

Curtis Granderson fouled out before Joe Girardi sent Nix up to pinch-hit for Raul Ibanez. Seattle manager Eric Wedge countered with right-hander Shawn Kelley, but Nix ripped a ball up the alley in left-center field to clear the bases. Russell Martin added an RBI single later in the inning for some insurance, but Nix's hit was huge for a player who entered the game just 1-9 with runners in scoring position.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova struggled his way through five innings and walked a career high six hitters. The final two free passes started the 6th inning and ended Nova's day. The Yankees bullpen was outstanding once again though as Clay Rapada, David Phelps, and David Robertson combined for three scoreless innings as a bridge to Rafael Soriano.

The Yankees' closer allowed a 2-out single in the 9th, but struck out Ichiro's replacement, Carlos Peguero, to end the game.


Utility Infielder Ramiro Pena was recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take A-Rod's spot on the roster.

Derek Jeter (twice), A-Rod, and Ichiro were all hit by pitches in the last two games, but no Yankees pitcher retaliated. Felix Hernandez, who through the pitch that broke A-Rod's hand, said after Tuesday night's game that he "felt bad" about what happened. Hernandez does not have a reputation of a hitting batters.

David Phelps picked up his second victory of the season and struck out two batters to give him 51 K's in 46.2 innings pitched.

With A-Rod out of the lineup, Girardi moved Ichiro in the lead off spot and slipped Jeter back into his old number 2 hole.

Jesus Montero had to feel pretty good about himself after throwing out Ichiro when his former teammate tried to steal second base in the 5th inning.

YCN: Ichiro and Other Pinstripe Oddities

The acquisition of Ichiro Suzuki certainly came out of left field, pun very much intended. But seeing Ichiro in the Yankees' uniform is not the oddest I've seen. Think Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs.

That was the theme for a piece I wrote for Yahoo yesterday and you can check it out by clicking here.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Yankees Scratch Their Ich For An Outfielder

Shane Victorino, Denard Span, Justin Upton; those are the names we kept hearing that the Yankees were looking at to bolster their outfield once it was learned Brett Gardner was likely done for the season.

But as we've seen in the past, GM Brian Cashman made a move for a player that no one heard mentioned. Late this afternoon, that player turned out to be Ichiro Suzuki, the multiple All-Star right fielder for the Seattle Mariners.

Suzuki is a free agent after this season, so the cost wasn't all that much- minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell, who has had a few cups of coffee with the big squad, and Danny Farquhar.  The Yankees will also assume the $2.225MM remaining on  Suzuki's contract.

Suzuki been a nine time All-Star since he signed with the Seattle Mariners before the 2001 season. In his first season alone, Suzuki captured the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards. To date, he's collected 2,533 hits, including a record 262 in 2004. Suzuki topped the 200 hit plateau in the first 10 seasons of his 12 year career. At the moment, the 38-year old is hitting a career low .261 and has posted a career low .642 OPS (His .645 OPS in 2011 was the worst of his career to this point).

Beside being a hitting machine, Suzuki has stolen 438 bases, though he has attempted just 17 this season (with 15 swipes). He stole 40 in 47 attempts last season and has stolen bases at an 83.4% clip in his career.

Suzuki is also known for his prowess in right field, though he will be playing left field for the Yankees (Joe Girardi did mention that Suzuki will play right field on days Nick Swisher DH's or has a day off). He won Gold Gloves in each of the first 10 seasons of his career and has amassed 100 assists, though most base runners will not tempt fate on his cannon of an arm.

Mitchell was the Yankees 10th round pick out of Clemson in 2008. He compiled a 44-24 (.647) record with a 3.56 ERA in 94 minor league appearances, 87 of which were starts. Ironically, Farquhar was a 10th round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in the same 2008 draft. He's been in the Blue Jays, Oakland A's, and Yankees organization this season. Neither pitcher is considered to have a high ceiling.

Suzuki wore 51 with the Mariners, but the Yankees wisely did not make that number available in honor of Bernie Williams. Suzuki chose to wear #31 and will bat 8th as the Yankees open their series in Seattle Monday evening.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A's Flunk Yankees - How Low Can You Go?

Coco Crisp ruins my afternoon - courtesy of
It appeared the Yankees would salvage the finale of the four game set in Oakland with the Athletics after losing to the A's kiddie corp three straight nights. After all, the Yankees had built a 4-0 against ex-teammate Bartolo Colon and had their ace, CC Sabathia, on the hill.

But after Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees a 4-0 lead with his 26th home run in the 4th inning, the Yankees offense went to sleep. Meanwhile the A's chipped away on solo home runs by Saturday's hero Brandon Inge, and catcher Kurt Suzuki and trailed 4-3 when Sabathia departed after seven innings.

David Robertson escaped a jam in the 8th, but closer Rafael Soriano was not so lucky. Soriano, who has been so good in place of the injured Mariano Rivera, served up a gopher ball to Seth Smith in the 9th to tie the game 4-4 for just his second blown save of the season.

It would stay that way until the 12th inning when Coco Crisp singled off Cody Eppley to bring home Derek Norris with the winning run. It completed the first ever four game sweep of Yankees by the A's in their home ball park. Each game was decided by one run, three of them in Oakland's final at-bat.

The afternoon started out as nicely as the 70 degree, sunny weather in Oakland. Mark Teixeira smacked the Yankees' fourth straight single to start the 3rd inning to put the Bombers on the board. Alex Rodriguez followed with a 2-run double for a 3-0 advantage.

Sabathia was sharp at the start, but was victimized in the 5th by Inge and Suzuki, who both pulled home runs into the left field seats. Colon, on the other hand, settled down and allowed just three more hits after the 3rd inning. Granderson's solo shot seemed to seal the deal, but the A's never-say-die attitude caught up with the Sabathia and the Yankees' pen.


Robinson Cano had his 23 game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, but had two hits on Sunday.

Derek Jeter didn't start the game, but came in as a late game defensive replacement.

Baltimore's victory moved them to within six games of the Yankees, but both Boston and Tampa Bay lost.

Girardi: You Kids Get Off My Lawn

Oakland A's starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin
I can picture Joe Girardi in a Scooby Doo scene,  a mask pulled off him as the gang, in unison, said "Mr Girardi!"  Girardi's response, of course, would have been, "That's right and I would have gotten away it too if you not for your snooping kids). When Bartolo Colon steps on the mound this afternoon (Sunday) in Oakland, you couldn't blame the Yankees if they gave their ex-teammate a standing ovation.

It wouldn't be for anything Colon has done other being born in the 1970's, well before teammates A.J. Griffin, Tom Milone, and Jarrod Parker. Colon has pitched in 375 games; that's 329 appearances more than Griffin (5), Milone (24), and Parker (17) combined.

Colon will be looking to join his young teammates in the winner's column as Oakland tries to complete a four game sweep of the Yankees on Sunday afternoon.  The series began Thursday night when Griffin, a 13th round draft choice by the A's in 2010, limited the Yankees to two runs over six innings in the A's 4-3 victory. The win improved the 24-year old's record to 2-0, 2.70.

The bullpen prevented the 25-year old Milone from earning his 10th win, but the left-hander shut the Yankees out over seven innings. Milone and the pen's performance snapped the Yankees streak of scoring three or more runs in a game at 43. Milone (9-6, 3.34) was acquired in the Gio Gonzalez deal with Washington this past off-season. Ryan Cook, the team's young closer, blew the save, but got the win when the A's scored in the bottom of the 9th for a 2-1 victory. Cook was picked up from Arizona for Trevor Cahill last December.

Parker, the team's top rated prospect coming into the season (acquired along with Cook in the Cahill deal), matched up in an old fashioned pitcher's duel with Phil Hughes on Saturday night. Hughes had allowed just two hits through seven innings, but Brandon Inge's opposite field home run gave the A's a 2-1 win.

The Yankees had one last chance in the 9th inning against left-hander Sean Dolittle, the team's 1st round pick in 2007. Dolittle was a power hitting 1st basemen/outfielder back then- he'd produced a 22 HR, 91 RBI season in 2008, but a knee injury contributed to Dolittle's decision to go back to pitching. Dolittle had excelled on the mound for the University of Virginia. One look at Dolittle and you would think he played violin from the way he tucks his glove under his chin as he waits for his catcher's signs, but he showed last night that he can definitely pitch.

After Alex Rodriguez reached on an infield single, Dolittle dominated the teeth of the Yankees lineup. He blew a high fastball past Robinson Cano for a swinging third strike. As Rodriguez stole second base, Dolittle caught Mark Teixeira looking on a called third strike on the outside corner. Finally, Dolittle completed the strikeout hat trick when he blew a third strike past Andruw Jones.


Robinson Cano's 23 game hitting streak came to end on Saturday.

Nick Swisher will sit out again on Sunday with a strained hip flexor tendon. It's up in the air whether he'll play in the next series in Seattle or not.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Off Topic: There Are No Winners

I woke up this morning not knowing the final score of the Yankees game out in Oakland. I had gone to bed in the top of the 8th. I figured I would check it and write up a little something on the game. Then I received a text from a friend about Colorado. Nothing specific, but it was obvious something was wrong.

I turned on the television and the rest of the day was not the same. I have always had perspective when it comes to sports. I still go nuts during some games when my team let's mean down, but I know that it's a great diversion to either participate in or watch. But at the end of the day, it's meaningless to what makes the Earth rotate.

I will never be able to get my head around what happened in Aurora, CO last night or anything other type of incident whether it be Columbine or Fort Hood, TX, or thousands of miles away in Norway.

Unfortunately, the media will quickly forget the victims and instead concentrate on guns, placing blame on a political enemy, and other things that aren't as important as the lives that are taken. I'm purposely not watching any coverage, because I know how the left and right media will spin things. I'm just reading update here and there and thinking about the families and loved ones who are grieving right now.

I follow Jesse Spector on Twitter for hockey updates. Turns out he was friends with a budding sportswriter named named Jessica Redfield. She was one of the 14 that have died so far; I say so far, because of the 70 injured, I have no idea how many are serious. Mr. Spector wrote this nice tribute to his friend.

That is just one story of so many that we will hopefully come to learn so that we do not forget the victims. Because if we do forget them everything else is meaningless.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

YCN: Q & A With Ty Hensley

My latest published piece for the Yahoo Contributor Network is a Q & A with the Yankees' 2012 first round draft choice, Ty Hensley.

He comes off as a confident kid, who takes his baseball very seriously. You can read the interview by clicking here.  Enjoy!

Gardner Runs Out of Time

Unfortunately, you could see it coming- Brett Gardner is lost for the season.

The Yankees announced that Gardner will undergo season ending surgery to repair inflamed tissue in his balky right elbow. Gardner injured the arm when he made a diving sliding catch against the Twins back on April 18.

The soon-to-be 29-year old outfielder tried to rehab the injury several times, but felt continued pain each time.  The latest MRI showed the inflammation and the Yankees team of doctors decided it was time for Gardner to go under the knife.

No word if Gardner could possibly be back for the playoffs. Unless Brian Cashman makes a deal or someone like Chris Dickerson is recalled from the minors, Raul Ibanez, Jayson Nix, Dewayne Wise, and Andruw Jones will continue to split time in left field.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Big Man Gets His Groove On

The Yankees increased their AL East lead while CC Sabathia was on the disabled list, but you can bet they were ecstatic to get him back tonight. A modest Tuesday night crowd was too as Sabathia cruised through six scoreless innings en route to a 6-1 Yankees win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Sabathia was DL'ed  for the first time in his career after straining his groin at the end of June. But he showed no rust in his return as the Yankees improved to 4-1 after the All-Star break. Sabathia threw 87 pitches, 66 for strikes (75.8%) and limited the Blue Jays to four hits and a walk, while he finished with six strikeouts.

The win was Sabathia's 10th of the season; in doing so, per YES research manager Jeff Quagliata (@yestoresearch), Sabathia became the first Major League pitcher since Tom Seaver to reach double figures in wins his first 12 seasons.

As is the case in most of the Yankees win this season, the home run played a big part in this one. Andruw Jones smacked one out in the 2nd inning off Brett Cecil with two aboard to give the Yankees a quick 3-0 lead.

The Blue Jays defense and some non-home runs gave the Yankees some necessary insurance in the 7th inning. Third baseman Brett Lawrie played a chopper into an RBI double for Chris Stewart for a 4-1 lead. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI double to right that was misplayed by Anthony Gose, who was making his Major League debut. The final run of the inning came across on a sharp Alex Rodriguez ground out.

The run were needed when the Blue Jays loaded the bases with one out off of Chad Qualls and Clay Rapada. Joe Girardi was forced go to his closer, but Rafael Soriano only needed five pitches to end the game. J.P. Arencibia hit a bullet right to Mark Teixeira, who tagged out Gose before he could get back to 1st base.


Qualls continues to struggle and may be looking for a job soon. Since he was acquired off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies, the 33-year old right-hander has allowed five runs and nine hits in 6.1 innings pitched.

Clay Rapada showed that he is not someone likely to win a Gold Glove Award any time soon. Back on June 28, Rapada's throwing error on a potential double play ball helped cost the Yankees a game against the White Sox. Tuesday night Rapada had another miscue on a come backer with runners on the corners and one out in the 9th. Rapada cleanly fielded Gose's hack-swing/bunt, but when he looked toward 2nd base it gave Gose time to reach first safely with his first Major League hit. (Personally, I think it should be an error on Rapada). Rapada can thank Soriano and Teixeria for getting him off the hook this time around.

Robinson Cano extended his career high hitting streak to 20 games. He's hit .405 during the streak with six home runs and 20 RBI. According to the YES Network, it's the longest streak by Yankees second baseman since Joe Gordon in 1942. Ironically, Tuesday marked the 71st anniversary of the end of Joe DiMaggio's 56 game hitting streak

Jones has six home runs and 12 RBI in his last 12 games. The home run was the 432nd of his career.

Joba Chamberlain pitched an inning for the GCL Yankees and was reportedly clocked at 98 mph.

The Yankees have now scored three or more runs in 40 straight games.

Slam, Bam, Thank You Ma'am

Raul, you're so cool. - photo courtesy of
When it comes to hitting home runs, you won't find two more prodigious teams this season than the Yankees (144) and the Toronto Blue Jays (131). So it came as no surprise that a home run decided Monday night's series opener between the two AL East teams.

With the game tied 2-2 in the 8th, the Yankees loaded the bases with one out with a pair of singles off of Jays' reliever Aaron Loup and a hit batsmen when Jason Frasor plunked Mark Teixeira on the toe.

It's been difficult not to cringe when the Yankees have loaded the bases this season. Though they have had more than their share of grand slams, they've failed to get a big hit more times than not.

When Frasor froze Nick Swisher with a 3-2 breaking pitch for the second out of the inning, it was difficult not to think 'here we go again'. But after falling behind in the count (3-1) to Raul Ibanez, Frasor threw one right in the outfielder's wheelhouse and the 40-yr old deposited it in the right field seats for a 6-2 lead.

The Blue Jays scored a run off of Cody Eppley and Rafael Soriano, but Soriano had his shirt untucked after catching Colby Rasmus looking at a called third strike to end the game. The Yankees have won three of four since the All-Star break.

Russell Martin homered for the first time since he hit a pair of shots against the Mets back on June 10.

Robinson Cano had a pair of hits and an RBI and extended his hitting streak to a career high 19 games.

Phil Hughes threw another stellar start- 7 IP 4 H 2 ER 3 BB 4 K and allowed a solo home run to Adam Lind.

Alex Rodriguez was forced to DH after coming up with a stiff neck. It didn't bother him when he swung the bat, but he was in pain when making throws to 1st base.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Brett Gardner's Got An Ouchie

With rumors already flowing that the Yankees are looking for a (younger) outfielder, you can bet GM Brian Cashman will be looking even harder after Brett Gardner was hurting again after a weekend of baseball activities.

Gardner has been limited to just nine games due to his bum right elbow that shows no sign of injury on X-Rays. But the pain has not gone away and is more bothersome after activity.

Joe Girardi told reporters today that he was "puzzled" by his outfielder's undiagnosed dilema. Gardner has already had the elbow checked out by noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews, but a return trip might be necessary.

It hasn't been mentioned, but continued pain leads me to believe that the elbow may eventually have to be scoped.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yankees Snatch Defeat From the Jaws of Victory

Cano's nap cost the Yankees dearly - courtesy of
No, that's not really how the saying goes, but it's apropos considering the way Sunday's Yankees-LA Angels game turned out. If I told you prior to the game that the Yankees would score eight runs and you knew Jered Weaver was starting for LA, you would know for sure that the Yankees would come away with a sweep of the three game series. Only that's not what happened.

The Yankees ran themselves out of a pair of innings and the end of the bullpen let the game get out of reach. The final was a 10-8 hitter's duel that came out in the Angels' favor. The Yankees did indeed get to Weaver, who entered the game with a 1.96 ERA, for five runs in seven innings, but the All-Star right-hander won his 11th game.

Yankees' starter Ivan Nova was far from his beat (6 IP, 6 ER), and the Angels tacked on three more runs against recently acquired reliever Chad Qualls, and and another against youngster D.J. Mitchell. The Yankees still had a chance to come back in the 9th inning despite being down five runs.

Angels' closer Ernesto Frieri had not allowed a run in 26 appearances since being acquired from the San Diego Padres on May 3. But in a non-save situation in the series finale, he got his first taste of the Yankees' power lineup.

Robinson Cano, who had extended his hitting sreak to 18 games earlier in the day, drew a lead off walk and Mark Teixeira followed with a 2-run home run to cut the deficit to 10-7.  Mike Scioscia pulled his young closer in favor of lefty Scott Downs after Frieri walked Nick Swisher. The Yankees had rallied from three runs down on Friday night against Downs and it appeared they would again when Raul Ibanez ricocheted a single off of Downs to bring the tying run to the plate.

Downs came back to strike out Andruw Jones and got Russell Martin on a fielders choice to put the game in the hands of Derek Jeter. The Yankees' captain walked to load the bases for Curtis Granderson,who put up a great eight pitch at-bat. The Yankees centerfielder had homered earlier in the game, and just got out in front of a Downs' pitch and pulled it foul before he walked to force in a run.

That turned things over to Alex Rodriguez, who had quieted some of his critics with a pair of hits on Saturday and his 14th home run of the season in the 1st inning on Sunday.  But right-hander Kevin Jepsen  got A-Rod to pop out to Albert Pujols to end the ball game.

The Yankees, perhaps, would have had a lead entering the 9th inning had Cano been awake earlier in the game. With A-Rod leading off third, Cano got caught napping at 1st base in the 3rd inning. Weaver picked him off and Cano was quickly tagged out in a run down. Rodriguez tried to score on the play, but shortstop Erick Aybar gunned him down at the plate for a very ugly double play and huge rally killer.

Evidently, Russell Martin didn't get too much confidence back in his bat after Friday night's game winning hit. He tried a bunt in a pair of at-bats, one of which he popped in the air and turned into a double play when Eric Chavez was doubled off base.

Chavez continued to show though that when healthy he can still drive the ball. After he hit just two home runs in 2011, Chavez smacked his eighth of the year on Sunday.

Nova was victimized by three home runs - Aybar and Pujols in the 1st inning and Maicer Izturis in the 6th. Mark Trumbo added another off Mitchell in the 9th.

Mike Trout had just another day at the office- two hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Shockingly, he didn't steal a base.

Yankees Dig The Long Ball

Grandy goes yard - courtesy of
Former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver must love watching this version of the New York Yankees. The Earl of Baltimore was known for playing for the 3-run home run, and while the Yankees may not have it it as a strategy, they indeed live and die by the long ball. Yesterday was a good day to be alive.

Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson supplied the power in the Yankees 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium. Starter Freddy Garcia sweated and battled his way through five innings to pick up the victory with much help from the Yankees bullpen.

Down 2-0 after the top half of the 1st inning, Cano quickly tied the game with his 21st home run of the season off Angels starter Jerome Williams. (He later added an RBI single in the 6th after the Yankees lead was cut to one.)

Two innings after Cano's heroics it was Granderson's turn to hit one out with a man aboard. Williams, just off the DL, laid in a fat one that Granderson crushed for 4-2 Yankees lead.

Garcia allowed five hits and issued five walks, and worked out of trouble every inning. The 35-yr old improved to 4-2 on the season and is 2-0, .3.17 in the three starts he's had since he was returned to the rotation on July 2.

The Yankees bullpen stepped up again after Garcia used up his pitch count after five innings. Cody Eppley (2 IP), David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano finished off the win with Soriano striking out Albert Pujols on a check swing to end the game.

Michael Kay was joined in the YES booth by Paul O'Neill and David Cone, an excellent trio of entertainment and knowledge. But Kay made one error concerning Chris Stewart. Kay remarked on how well Stewart has hit on the season (a .265 average at that moment), but Stewart's batting average is truly not an indicator of the season he has had at the plate. After a 1-3 performance on Saturday, Stewart's OPS sat at an incredibly weak .572. That's pitcher-worthy not a number a positional player would want to have.

Mike Trout continued his remarkable rookie season on Saturday. Three more hits, two stolen bases to give him a league leading 30, and a run scored. In July alone, Trout is hitting .429 with a 1.321 OPS, four home runs and eight RBI. He's an amazing player to watch and very mature for a 20-yr old.

Alex Rodriguez got a temporary reprieve from the idiot boo-birds with a two hit game and his 10th steal of the season. Players get booed, it happens, but when your team is in first place, 21 games over .500, you really need to shut up.

I almost never give Nike any props (I hate their company and it's CEO Phil Knight), but this "Chicks Dig The Long Ball" campaign is still classic. Especially consdering Mark McGwire was fully pumped with 'roids (and possibly HGH among other things) at the time.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

2 Bad Pitches Don't Spoil The Whole Game Girl

Russell Martin strokes game winner - courtesy of Buffalo News
If you hadn't known better you would have sworn tonight's game between the LA Angels and Yankees was being played on the left coast.

It was one of those typical games where the Yankees had a lead for most of the game, but then everything went to hell in the last few innings. This time around it was Hiroki Kuroda holding a 2-1 lead on his home mound in the 7th.

Had there been a full moon Friday night, you clearly would have seen a baseball pass by it, much like ET and his bicycle did many moons ago (no pun intended). The ball had launched off the bat of Angels' left fielder Mark Trumbo with two aboard and came back to Earth in the seats behind the Yankees bullpen. The Yankees suddenly were in a 4-2 hole and the once smooth sailing Kuroda had encountered choppy water. (The Trumbo home rnu was bad pitch #2 after hitting Kendrys Morales with a 1-2 pitch.)

It didn't get any better in the 8th when for some reason, Joe Girardi left Kuroda in the game and the Angels tacked on an insurance run on Albert Pujols' bloop double to right. But the Yankees had some magic of their own in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Derek Jeter started things off against lefty Scott Downs by lacing a double up the alley in right-center. Curtis Granderson, hitless against Downs in 12 career at-bats, worked a tough walk to bring Mark Teixeira to the plate as the tying run.

Teixeira had provided the first two Yankees runs with a bullet home run to left off Angels' starter C.J. Wilson in the 3rd inning. While that Teixeira home run got out in a hurry, his home run off Downs to tie the game was a high majestic shot to left field.

Downs finally retired Alex Rodriguez (who heard many boos on the night) and Robbie Cano, before he walked Nick Swisher to end his night on the mound. With right-hander Kevin Jepsen on the hill, pinch-runner Dewayne Wise swiped second base to put the go ahead run in scoring position. Angels' skipper Mike Scioscia decided to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez to force Russell Martin and his sub-.180 batting everage into a clutch situation.

I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering why Girardi didn't send Eric Chavez up to pinch-hit, but Girardi stuck with his catcher and his confidence was rewarded when Martin lashed a go ahead single to right. Martin wasn't done coming up big in the game though.

Rafael Soriano came on in the 9th to close things out, but Yankees killer Howie Kendrick reached on a one out single. Soriano retired Erick Aybar on a foul pop, but then uncorked a pitch in the dirt. Though pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis put up the hold sign, Kendrick took off for second base. Martin quickly got to the baseball and fired a strike to an awaiting Derek Jeter to end the ball game. A fired up Martin pumped his fist and celebrated a night in which he threw out three of four would-be base stealers in addition to his game winning hit.


The comeback would not have been possible had Swisher not robbed Trumbo of another home run in the 8th inning.

The Yankees signed Kosuke Fukudome to a minor league deal. The Japanse born veteran had been recently released by the Chicago White Sox after hitting just .171 in 24 games. The 35-yr old is in his 5th Major League season and has been on the decline since breaking in with the Cubs in 2008.

Austin Romine was expected to compete for a back up catching job on the Yankees at some point this season, but the 23-year old went down with a bad back in Spring Training. Romine returned to action Friday night with the GCL Yankees. He was 0-2 with an RBI and split the team's catching duties with Eduardo de Oleo.

Joba Chamberlain began his road back from a busted ankle and continued his recuperation from Tommy John surgery with a scoreless inning in Tuesday's GCL game. He's expected to pitch again this weekend.

Andy Pettitte will be getting his broken ankle x-rayed to see what progress has been made.

Mike Trout, with his family in Derek Jeter's private box, had another ho-hum night. Two hits, two steals, and a run scored. He's an incredibly dynamic player to watch.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yanks Stop the Slop at the Trop

photo courtesy of Yahoo sports
Tropicana Field, aka "The Trop" is a hideous excuse of a ballpark. It's a disgrace; arguably the ugliest ball yard in baseball history. A warehouse with low hanging cat walks, recycled rubber turf, and a ceiling that's easy to lose the baseball in.

Maybe it's no wonder that the Yankees play like total garbage every time down there. After two embarrassing losses in a row, the Yankees shook off the doldrums and emerged with a 4-3 victory  over the Tampa Bay Rays to salvage the finale of the three game series.

The Yankees losing streak at the Trop reached nine in a row after Monday and Tuesday defeats. One more loss would have been the Yankees longest losing streak in one opponent's facility since the Yankees dropped 15 straight at Texas from 1989-1991.

Starters David Phelps and David Price matched zeros for a while, but Phelps was forced to leave the game in the 5th inning trailing 1-0 (and after 81 pitches). The Yankees didn't manage a hit off Price until the top of the 5th and finally broke through on the scoreboard when Mark Teixeira hit his 14th home run of the season in the 7th.

The tie was short lived, however, when Carlos Pena turned on a Boone Logan delivery in the home half of the 7th for a go ahead 2-run home run. Pena is pretty much a one dimensional hitter, but he continues to destroy the Yankees, especially in Tampa. Pena has four home runs and 11 RBI against the Yankees in 2012 alone. And for some reason, the Yankees keep pitching to him.

It appeared a sweep was at hand, but the Yankees had some comeback magic thanks to their old pal Kyle Farnsworth. The righty reliever was Tampa's closer last season, but was on the DL for most of this year and was making just his second appearance of the season.

Farnsworth faced five hitters and not one put the ball in play. Eric Chavez led off the 8th with a pinch-hit walk before Farnsworth struck out Derek Jeter looking. It would be the last time Farnsworth could find the strike zone. He proceeded to walk Curtis Granderson, Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez in order to force in a run and cut the Rays' lead to 3-2.

Lefty Jake McGee was brought in to face Robinson Cano, but the red hot hitting second baseman lashed a a 2-run single to give the Yankees the lead for good. Rafael Soriano continued his great season in place of Mariano Rivera and retired the side in order in the 9th for his 19th save. The final out? A pop out by Pena.


No one had more of a miserable series than Russell Martin. The Yankees starting catcher was 0-8 to drop his batting average to an anemic .179 (he weighs 210) and made two costly errors in Tuesday's 7-4 loss. If Martin's back is the reason for his latest round of hitting woes, he should either be DL'ed or rested through next week's All-Star break to see if it makes a difference.

A Mark Teixeira error was the difference in Monday's 4-3 loss, but it was David Robertson inability to pitch effectively when called upon in the middle of an inning that made the difference. With his fastball still inconsistent, Joe Girardi would be better off keeping D-Rob out of crucial situations for a bit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hughes and Kuroda Gain Split With Chisox

The Yankees couldn't have much uglier losses than they did Thursday and Friday nights, but thanks to Saturday's starter Hiroki Kuroda and Sunday's mound man Phil Hughes, the Yankees ended up with a split of their four game series with the White Sox.

Thursday's bullpen meltdown loss was forgotten in Friday's embarrassing 14-7 final. Rookie Adam Warren, outside of the 1st inning, was clearly overmatched. As YES analyst Lou Piniella pointed out, Warren's delivery was smooth and without deception. That allowed the White Sox hitters to easily pick up the baseball and mash it.

Unfortunately, Warren was sent down after the game and didn't get a chance to watch Kuroda on Saturday. The veteran put on a pitching clinic; Kuroda limited the White Sox to three hits and a walk over seven innings, and struck out 11 in the Yankees 4-0 win. He threw 107 pitches, 68 for strikes, and K'ed Alex Rios to strand the bases loaded in the 1st inning.

That was the start of 15 batters in row that Kuroda retired before he hit Kevin Youkilis in the 6th, perhaps in retaliation for White Sox starter Jake Peavy hitting Derek Jeter in the prior inning. The win improved Kuroda's record to 8-7, 3.17 as the right-hander has allowed just nine earned runs in his last 49 innings. After a rough start to the season, Kuroda is 5-1, 1.65 over his last seven starts.

Phil Hughes' start on Sunday didn't look to promising when the Yankees fell behind 2-0 in the 1st, but Hughes was fantastic after that in front of an Old Timers' Day crowd. He was at his best from the 4th through 8th innings when he retired 15 of 16 batters.

Hughes scattered six hits, walked one, and struck out eight in a 106 pitch effort. He's now 9-6, 4.29 and 5-1, 2.59 in his last six starts. Outside of his debacle against the Braves on 6/20 (4.1 IP, 6 ER), Hughes has allowed six earned runs in 37.1 innings pitched.

Home Run Derby continued in the Bronx to help both starters out. Robinson Cano, who hit 11 home runs in June, hit one on the month's final day and added another on the 1st of July. Curtis Granderson and Dewayne Wise added home runs for Kuroda, and Eric Chavez, who only had two home runs last year, hit his sixth of the year on Sunday.

Jeter, Cano, and Grandy Heading to KC

The announcements are out and Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have been elected to start the 83rd All-Star game in Kansas City.

Jeter finished 2nd in voting (to Josh Hamilton) in the AL to earn his 13th All-Star game berth.  Cano made the All-Star team for the third straight year and fourth overall, while Granderson will be playing in his third game overall and his second as a Yankee.