Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hughes Steps Up, Soriano Bounces Back

"Untuck, pass it on."

Tuesday evening didn't start off as a good one for the Yankees. Monday night Mark Teixeira had to leave the game with a calf strain. Later we were told it was a contusion. Turns out the initial report was correct and it was announced Tuesday afternoon that Teixeira will most likely be out 10-14 days (hopefully not more).

Translation - a lineup that has been anemic of late just got a lower red blood cell count. With Baltimore and Tampa Bay breathing down the Yankees necks in the AL East, the not so Bronx Bombers needed a big outing from Phil Hughes. The right-hander came through big time with seven solid innings and the Yankees scratched out a 2-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jays' starter Rickey Romero has been absolutely horrendous for much of the season (killing my keeper league team in the process) and walked eight hitters in last start. But against a lineup missing much of it's punch, Romero pitched his best game in weeks.

The lefty allowed a pair of runs on five hits, walked two and struck out six over seven innings. But Hughes was even better; his fortune was reversed from his last start when seven solid innings led to a 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox. This time out, Hughes allowed four hits in his seven innings, walked three and struck out five and allowed a single run on a home run by Adeiny Hechavarria in the 5th inning.

Nick Swisher would like the calendar to be stuck on August for the rest of the season. With Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki on base with singles in the 3rd inning, Swisher delivered a two-out single of his own to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. It was Swisher's 22nd RBI of the month, one less than his monthly high for the season that he established in April.

With Teixeira down, the Yankees reacquired veteran minor leaguer (he's also appeared in 235 Major League games) Steve Pearce from the Houston Astros.  Pearce was originally in spring training with the Minnesota Twins, but was released on March 27. The Yankees picked him up two days later, but Pearce was then bought by the Baltimore Orioles in June.

After hitting .254 in 28 games for the O's, Houston grabbed him off of waivers. Ironically, Pearce also hit .254 with the Astros over a 21 game span. Tuesday night the 29-year old found himself in the starting lineup, batting cleanup as the DH for the NY Yankees. Though he was 0-2, Pearce hustled his way into an insurance run after he led off the 4th inning with a walk.

With Russell Martin at the plate, Romero (8-12) bounced a pitch in the dirt. As soon as the ball ricocheted off of Yorvit Torrealba, Pearce took off and reached second base easily.  Martin moved him over to 3rd base with a ground out to the right side, and Curtis Granderson brought Pearce home with a deep fly to ceneter field.

Then it was all up to Hughes (13-11), who added a slider to his repertoire, and the bullpen. Oh, and a nifty little play by Robinson Cano to save the day.  Hughes walked Colby Rasmus and Edwin Encarnacion to start the 6th, but after he retired Adam Lind, Hughes got a big assist from his Gold Glove second baseman.

Cano leaped to snare Yunel Escobar's line drive and then, flat-footed, threw a bullet to Jayson Nix to double off Rasmus from third. Why Rasmus was so far off the base is anyone's guess, but no one on the Yankees really cares. They're just thankful he was.

Robertson and Soriano appeared for third straight game, making them (most likely) unavailable for Wednesday's series finale which is scheduled to start at 1:05 pm. New daddy Robertson needed just five pitches to retire the side in the 8th and Soriano bounced back from Monday's blown save with an 11-pitch effort for his 34th save.


Derek Jeter missed three weeks last season with a Grade-1 strain of a calf, but Teixeira was told his strain, though Grade-1, is not as bad.

To make room on the roster for Pearce, Casey McGehee was sent down to class 'A' Charleston. He'll likely be recalled when the rosters expand on Saturday. September 1 couldn't come at a better time since it means Teixeira likely won't have to go on the DL.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

YCN: Greatest Yankees-Indians Games

Photo Courtesy of NYDN
This weekend's Yankees-Indians series was pretty boring, but that has not always been the case when the two met.

Great players like Allie Reynolds faced off with Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller. Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera squared off with the likes of Jim Thome, David Justice, Manny Ramirez, and Travis Fryman.

So what were the best 5 games between the two teams....click here and read my latest piece for the Yahoo Contributor Network.

Pen Beats a Tribe Called Less

I will not untuck before it's time.

Fans of the Cleveland Indians had their hopes up when the team burst out of the gate with a 27-21 record and led the AL Central from May 2 to May 28. But after splitting the first 100 games, the Tribe entered Sunday's action with the Yankees having lost 21 of their last 26 games and plummeted to 14.5 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.

The teams split the first two games of the series with Swisher & Soriano saving Sabathia's start (I've been waiting days to say that....if Dan Rather said it, he'd whistle your ear right off) for the win on Friday and then the Yankees hitters let down Hiroki Kuroda, who was excellent again after a shaky first inning, in Saturday's defeat.

Sunday afternoon's rubber game of the series was all about the Yankees' bullpen after Sweaty Freddy Garcia couldn't make it out of the 5th inning for the second straight start. The Yankees built a 3-0 lead against starter Ubaldo Jimenez  on RBI singles by Nick Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki, sandwiched around a Derek Jeter run producing ground out in the 2nd inning,

But after seeing leads slip away in a three game series sweep at the hands of the Chicago White Sox, manager Joe Girardi was not going to let the finale of the six game road trip get away when Garcia ran aground in the 5th.

Garcia had worked out of a pair of jams leading up to his final inning, but the Indians stranded five men on base, three of them in scoring position.  Garcia retired the first two hitters in the 5th, but gave up a double to Jason Kipnis, hit Asdrubel Cabrera,  and walked Shin-Soo Choo to load the bases.

Catcher Carlos Santana had flied out to right in the same situation back in the 3rd inning, but this time singled to center to for a pair of runs and sent Garcia to the showers. Lefty Boone Logan got left-handed hitter Michael Brantley to ground out to end the threat.

Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees an insurance run in the 6th, when he belted his 200th career home run off of lefty reliever Tony Sipp. It was the Grandy man's 33rd home run of the season and RBI number 74.

Logan retired the side in order in the 7th before he exited when Kipnis reached on a out-single in the 8th. David Robertson picked up the final two outs of the inning and left in the 8th after he retired two batters and allowed a single to Brantley.

Closer Rafael Soriano induced an inning ending fly out from Matt LaPorta, before he worked the 9th inning for his 33 save. The victory didn't come without a scary moment, however, when Kipnis hit a comebacker that got a piece of Soriano's glove and bare hand (he wasn't sure after the game which it hit first).  Soriano was able to recover to throw Kipnis out at first and said after the game that he felt fine. Hopefully that will still be the case on Monday.


Ironically, a day after the passing of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the Indians honored former astronaut and US Senator John Glenn for the 50th anniversary of Glenn's orbit of earth. The 91-year old threw out the first pitch (underhanded) for a strike.

Nick Swisher continued his torrid August with three hits and an RBI. He's now hitting .336 for the month with five HR, 19 RBI, and seven doubles. He narrowly missed a home run when he hit the base of the right field wall and settled for a double.

Aceves Latest to Lose Battle With Valentine

Who's pitching the 9th?

Adrian Gonzalez was front and center of a mini-revolution in Boston a week ago. Reportedly, 17 players wanted manager Bobby Valentine fired and Gonzalez was one of the players pushed to the forefront to approach owner John Henry. The Sox principle owner told the players that Valentine's his man and a week later Gonzalez was shipped to the LA Dodgers as part of a blockbuster deal. Victory to Valentine.

Though his job could still be in jeopardy, the team backed Valentine again yesterday when reliever Al Aceves was suspended three games for conduct detrimental to the team.

What reportedly set Aceves off was Valentine's decision to let Andrew Bailey close out Friday night's game. Bailey had entered the game in the 8th inning to record the final out of the frame and remained in the game to record his first save of the season.

Bailey had been acquired in the off-season to be the Red Sox closer, but injured his thumb in spring training, underwent surgery, and didn't return to the team until recently. After a shaky start, Aceves established himself as the team's 9th inning guy and saved 25 games in 32 attempts. His most recent appearance was Thursday night when he allowed five runs in an inning of work (plus two batters faced in the 10th) and took the loss.

Aceves got into a heated argument with Valentine in the manager's office and stormed away. No word on whether or not Valentine has decided to use Bailey going forward or if it was just a one shot deal for the time being.

Bigger question...how did Al Aceves go from throwing 90-91 mph as a Yankee from 2008-2010, to suddenly throwing his fastball from 95-96 mph. Fueled by anger?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Red Sox, Dodgers Deal Proves Selig's Owner Bias

No Bud, you are not #1; more like a #2.

After hearing earlier today that the mega-deal between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers had been completed, WDHA-FM jock Jim Monaghan and I joked about "where is Bowie Kuhn when you need him?"

Commissioner at the time Kuhn struck down two simultaneous deals back in June, 1976 that were strictly player sales. The circumstances were not the same as today's mega-deal, but the amount of money at the time was comparable to what took place today.

Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley tried to sell Vida Blue to the Yankees and Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi to the Red Sox for a combined $3.5MM. Kuhn said "uh uh" and voided the deals. His decision held up in a court of law.

That brings us today, where the commissioner is Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, a former owner whose moves are all for the owners. He does not have the best interest of baseball in mind, to paraphrase Kuhn (who must be rolling over in his grave), but to maneuver players and money so that the owners continue to make a profit.

Today's deal, which began in talks yesterday, sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to the Dodgers for James Loney and four prospects. Crawford had season ending Tommy John surgery on his left elbow this past Thursday, so he won't have an immediate impact in LA other than his contract.

Crawford was a huge disappointment in Boston and was just finishing up the second year of the seven-year, $142MM contract he signed prior to the 2011 season. Gonzalez was dealt to Boston prior to last season and then signed a seven-year, $154MM deal. Gonzalez recently made headlines as one of the reported players who contacted owner John Henry about firing manager Bobby Valentine. Henry said "...not happening" and Gonzalez is gone. Victory, for now, to Valentine, who could use all the wins he can get.

The Dodgers will be taking on all but $12MM, the amount of money Boston has sent along, on the two major contracts. Beckett still has two years and over $30MM remaining on his deal. Punto is the pauper in this whole thing, owed the remainder of the two-year, $3MM deal he signed last year.

While players aren't being literally sold as Finley attempted back in 1976, for all intents and purposes it's the same thing. The Red Sox get to scrub $248MM off of their payroll (Crawford's 102.5MM for five years + Gonzalez's 126.5MM for six years + Beckett's 31.5MM for the next two years -$12MM sent to LA) over parts of the next six seasons. Loney is playing on a one-year deal that pays him $6.375MM, will be arbitration eligible and will also be in his first year of free agency.

The Red Sox will receive rhp Allan Webster and utility man Ivan De Jesus Jr., plus two minor leaguers to be named later. This past December Baseball America ranked Webster as the number two prospect in the Dodgers' farm system. The 23-year old was selected in the 18th round of the 2008 MLB amateur draft and was at the Double-A level prior to the deal.  De Jesus, son of the former Major Leaguer of the same name, has played 40 games at the big level the past two years and is currently at Triple-A. The 25-year old has produced very average numbers since the Dodgers drafted him in the second round in 2005.

Even if neither prospect, or the two to be added, pan out, the Red Sox freed up their roster of a ton of money that can be spent more economically in the future. But back to the point at hand. The deal should have not been allowed without the Red Sox having to fork over much more money. The team is certainly not hurting for cash, though they will claim otherwise, being all small market and such (Bull#($*). But as usual Selig rubber stamped the deal as he has done any time Boston or Florida has been involved since the nefarious ownership swap of 2002 (Henry from Florida to Boston, Loria from Montreal to Florida, Montreal to the league office).

The only thing worse than this deal was Loria's con job on the fans of Florida for a new stadium and his quick selling off of parts once the Marlins season went into the tank this season.

It's well past time for Selig to go, and it's time for a true unbiased commissioner to take over. Unfortunately, the owners will never let that happen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Skip Bayless, Attention Whore

Look at me, I an asshat

This would not have come to my attention had the NY Daily News' Mark Feinsand not tweeted it earlier this evening.

I NEVER watch First Take...I stopped when it was still called Cold Pizza and stunk just as much. Any show that would employ the intolerable Skip Bayless is a show that should not be watched. No one should care what Bayless says or how many times he mentions Tim Tebow (definitely could be a drinking game.).

But Bayless' latest comments are purely the work of an attention seeking asshole. With the Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon PED disasters, Bayless opined on how Derek Jeter could possibly be performing the way he is at age 38:
“I would have to be sight- and hearing-impaired not to at least wonder, because there is no HGH test in the sport of baseball,” Bayless said. “They do not blood test; they do it one time in spring training for HGH, not again the rest of the year. How could I not wonder, ‘Is he using something?’ If you’re Derek Jeter, would you think about using HGH right now? Because I would. How would you not? Would you not think about it?”
The Yankees' captain didn't take the comment lying down:
Jeter called it “unfortunate” that somebody can go on television and make such insinuations, joking that Bayless might be the one in need of a drug test. “Whenever you have people that anytime you bring something like this to light with guys that are doing things, it’s like, now you have everybody questioning everything,” Jeter said. “That’s the unfortunate thing. Maybe Skip should be tested.”
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/yankees-captain-derek-jeter-suggests-skip-bayless-check-hgh-usage-article-1.1142392?pgno=1#ixzz24KbxOU7q

Say It Ain't So, Bar-to-lo

Another one bites the dust, hey hey..another bites the dust.

We're still smack dab (what the hell kind of an expression is smack dab anyway? But I digress) in the middle of Melkygate when word came out today that another former Yankee has been caught with his hand in the testosterone jar.

Bartolo Colon, whose career came back from the dead with the Yankees last season, tested positive for synthetic testosterone (Yo Victor Conte, sleezbeag, you still think no one will get caught with the new synthetic PEDs?)

The punishment is the same as the Melkman- 50 games. That finishes Colon's season, and should the A's make the playoffs, the first 10 games of the post-season.

Colon, the only player I've seen take PEDs and still be extremely overweight, surprised everyone when he stood out at times for the Yankees in 2011. He wore out towards the end of the season, but not before he compiled an 8-10, 4.00 record (he was 8-6, 3.30 through July) in 26 starts and three relief appearances after having not pitched in the Majors since 2009.

Melky Cabrera, Colon. Who's next? I'm afraid to find out.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Roger Clemens Gets Job As Exterminator

Wait, what? It's not an exterminator company? I just saw Skeeter and assumed it meant he was going to be spraying mosquito killer down there in Texas. I hear they have skeeters the size of Dubya's ego.

The popular theory is that Roger Clemens wants to reset the clock on the five year waiting period to be added to the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. If things stay as is, Clemens would be eligible this winter along with fellow "presumed" (yeah, I don't just presume) cheaters Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa.

Clemens final big league game was September 16, 2007 in his second stint with the Yankees. Next up will be this Saturday as a member of the Sugar Land Skeeters in the Independent Atlantic League. He won't be the only former big leaguer on the Skeeters. Former stand out Scott Kazmir landed there after his MLB career went kaput. Former Nats reliever Gary Majewski is there along with former Yankees Heath Phillips (DL) and Tim Redding. The team is managed by former Minnesota Twin Gary Gaetti.

Clemens will face the Bridgeport (CT) Bluefish and at least one Major League team will be scouting the 50-year old- no, not the Yankees, but another pne of his former teams, the Houston Astros.

Clemens has been quoted as saying he simply wants to have fun and hopes the fans do too. It should be interesting to say the least.

Jeter 251, Nettles 68

Monday night was another night for Derek Jeter to move up the charts in the record books. A shoddy performance by Freddy Garcia and the bullpen overshadowed Jeter's 4-hit night.

Among those four hits was career home run #251; that enabled the Yankees' captain to pass Graig Nettles for sole possession of 9th place on the all-time franchise home run list. It was inevitable, but it was a very nice way for Nettles to celebrate his 68th birthday.(How the hell is Graig Nettles 68?!)

If you never got the chance to see Nettles play 3rd base, you really missed out. One of the best glove men in the business, Nettles performance in back to back World Series wins ('77-'78) against the LA Dodgers was 
truly remarkable.
Jeter's quad gave him 3,255 career base hits to tie him with Eddie Murray for 12th place in MLB history. Up next on the hit parade is Willie Mays with 3,283.

Monday, August 20, 2012

How Not To Spend Your Time on the DL

Michael Pineda had to field questions about his maturity during Spring Training earlier this year. He showed up out of shape and  it was thought at first that was the reason he had diminished velocity on his fastball. Since the Yankees dealt top prospect Jesus Montero for him, that didn't go over too well with the fans.

As it turned out Pineda needed shoulder surgery and his season was lost. But apparently the maturity issue remains out there. Pineda got busted for DUI  at 3 in the morning Monday down in Tampa and was released on $500 bail.

Not the way to make a second impression.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Captain Adds to His Record Book

With one swing in Friday night's game against the Boston Red Sox, Derek Jeter added a couple of more achievements to his storied career.

That swing resulted in a home run into the left field seats, the 250th such hit in the Yankee captain's career. That gave the Yankees 10 players with a minimum of 10 home runs this season. The last time the Yankees accomplished that feat? Yup, Jeter was there too...the 1998 Yankees were quite prodigious with the long ball as well.

Besides Jeter, there was Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill, Shane Spencer, Darryl Strawberry, Jorge Posada, Chuck Knoblauch, and Chad Curtis on the '98 team.

This years squad is comprised of Jeter, Nick Swisher, who went deep twice Friday night, Curtis Granderson, who also hit one out against Boston, Alex Rodriguez, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Robinson Cano, Andruw Jones, Mark Teixeira, and Russell Martin.

Jeter also became the 5th players in MLB history with 3,000 hits, 250 home runs, and 250 stolen bases. He joined Willie Mays (the only other player with at least 1,200 RBI), Rickey Henderson, Craig Biggio, and Robin Yount on that short list. Seven more hits of any kind will put Jeter in a tie with Eddie Murray for 7th place in the MLB career hit list with 3,255.

As for as team records go, Jeter also tied third baseman Graig Nettles for 10th place on the all-time franchise home run list. He sits 25 back of his good buddy Jorge Posada, who turned 41 yesterday, for 9th place. Jeter is also approaching Bernie Williams for 6th place all-time in RBI (21 to go) and Willie Randolph for 7th place in sac flies (one more).

Another day, another addition to Derek Jeter's Hall of Fame credentials.

YCN: 10 Greatest Yankees That Were Former Red Sox

This weekend's Yankees-Red Sox series doesn't quite have the oomph of many of their previous encounters. Clearly, Boston is a team in disarray at the moment. But Yankees fans do have to be thankful to the Red Sox for some of their former players- Johnny Damon, Roger Clemens, and Wade Boggs to name just a few.

For my latest feature for the Yahoo Contributor Network, I decided it was time to count down the 10 greatest Yankees that were former Red Sox. And no, Alan Embree is not on the list.

Click here to read the feature, and thanks as always for doing so.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pfen Pfail

Just about everyone has had it happen to them at least once. Dress shirt on, pen in the pocket. The next thing you know you've got a giant ink stain on your shirt. Thursday afternoon's performance by the Yankees bullpen was the baseball equivalent of said scenario.

The Yankees had a legitimate shot to pull off an unthinkable four game series sweep of the Texas Rangers, but the Yankees relievers couldn't get it done. The Yankees had rallied from a 4-0 deficit to put five on the board in the bottom of the 6th against Rangers' starter Derek Holland, but Texas quickly wrested control back in the top of the 7th.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova had departed after 5.2 innings and four earned runs allowed, unable to build off of his 10 strikeout win against the Toronto Blue Jays five days ago. Boone Logan took his first loss in five decisions after he allowed an inherited runner to score and gave up the lead on an RBI double by David Murphy.

Joba Chamberlain continued to struggle since his return from the disabled list on August 1. He came on after Logan and struck out Geovany Soto for the second out of the inning, but then allowed a back breaking 2-run single to Chris Gentry for a 7-5 Texas lead. The Yankees got one back in the  bottom of the inning, but Texas put the game away with three more runs charged to Chamberlain and Clay Rapada for a 10-6 final.

While it would have been nice to pull off a four game sweep against one of the toughest lineups in all of baseball, the Yankees have to be happy having taken three out of four. Especially with David Phelps and Freddy Garcia having started two of the four games.


The Yankees five run 6th was highlighted by Andruw Jones' game tying 2-run home run. The Yankees then took the lead when Casey McGehee reached on error and came home on Russell Martin's RBI single.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oh Leche

I first started following Melky Cabrera's career when he was playing 'A' ball in the New York Yankees farm system. The kid looked like he had talent based on the numbers he produced. The Dominican born Melky put up 8 home runs and 67 RBI in 2004 for Battle Creek and Tampa.

He worked his way up the chain and got a cup of (spilled) coffee in the Majors in 2005. He was clearly over matched at the plate and field, but was back in the Majors as a regular a year later. His best year came in 2009 when he contributed to the Yankees' 27th title with career highs in home runs (13) and RBI (68). But there was always talk of Cabrera being a bit portly and out of shape. It had actually contributed to his demotion to Triple-A during the 2008 season.

Cabrera has had his ups and downs since then - released by the Atlanta Braves during the 2010 season, a career resurrection with the KC Royals in 2011 and an MVP type season this year with the San Francisco.  But Wednesday, the fit hit the shan.

A 50 game suspension handed down by Major League Baseball after it was revealed that Cabrera had tested positive for testosterone. Cabrera at least came clean, no pun intended, about the failed test.
"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera said in a statement released by the union. "I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down." (quote courtesy of espn.com)
Cabrera had won this year' All-Star game MVP Award in his first appearance. His big night out included a solo home run. The Melk Man, who grew a cult following in NY, was hitting a career high .346 at the time of the suspension, which will wipe out the rest of the regular season. Cabrera would also miss the beginning of any post-season series.

It's especially disappointing when you think a guy turned his career around by doing the work, getting in shape, and really working at his craft. But now Melky's career will always be tainted and his chances for a big time contract after this season just went down the tubes. Of course, the only reason he may have had that opportunity was due to performance enhancing drugs. Another likable player's reputation bites the dust.

For more on the story, I recommend reading Tyler Kepner's excellent piece in the NY Times.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My My My Kuroda, Has the Knack for Pitching

There was plenty of concern from fans this past off-season when the Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one year free agent contract. Fans questioned the idea of signing a National League pitcher to throw in the highly competitive AL East. Those feelings of disappointment only got worse when Kuroda got clobbered by the Tampa Bay Rays in his regular season debut. But no ones belly aching now.

Kuroda was as good as it gets Tuesday in tossing a complete game 2-hit shutout against the dangerous Texas Rangers. For the second straight night Nick Swisher delivered the big hit, this time a 2-run home run in the 7th , to ignite a 3-0 Yankees victory. The win guaranteed the Yankees no worse than a split of the four game series.

Matt Harrison wasn't nearly as sharp as Kuroda, but he managed to put goose eggs up on the board through the first six innings. Manager Ron Washington pulled his lefty starter after Derek Jeter reached with a one out single in the 7th. Hard throwing right-hander Alexi Ogando came on to face Swisher, who turned around to bat from the left side. A great battle ensued that ended when Swisher turned on the 8th pitch of the sequence, a 98-mph fastball, and put it in the seats for a 2-0 lead. It was Swisher's grand slam that turned the tide in Monday's series opening victory.

One thing that baseball has proven time and time again is that it doesn't matter how hard you throw if your ball doesn't move. Ogando found that out four pitches later, when Mark Teixeira ripped a line drive off a 99-mph fastball into the seats for a 3-0 Yankees' advantage.

Then it was time to watch Kuroda work the final two innings. He had spun a no-no through six innings and had the crowd and YES announcers buzzin. Those at home sat up a little straighter and moved closer to the edge of their leather couch. Not that I am speaking from experience or, um, anything. Rangers' shortstop  Elvis Andrus broke things up when he hit a slow bouncer back up the middle to start the 7th. Yankees' shortstop Jayson Nix made a diving stop, but his throw was not nearly in time or accurate.

Andrus eventually made it to third base with two down, but Kuroda got Nelson Cruz to ground out to end the inning. Mike Young led off the 8th with the Rangers only other hit, but Kuroda induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of David Murphy to quickly erase Young from the base paths. The outs were two of the 17 that Kuroda got via a ground ball. He also struck out five and picked up his second complete game shutout of the season, though his prior shutout was a rain-shortened seven inning affair against Toronto back in July.

In fact, it was just the fourth career complete game and shutout of the Japanese veteran's five year career in the US. It was the Yankees first complete game shutout since CC Sabathia tossed one against the Rays on July 10, 2011.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good Evening Mr. Phelps

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to shut down the Texas Rangers through five innings. If you or any member of your team fail in this mission, the fans will NOT disavow any knowledge of your actions. In fact they may boo. This tape will self destruct in five seconds.

Mission Not Impossible

David Phelps gave the agency, er, Joe Girardi exactly what he needed - five innings of solid baseball, keeping his team in the game against one of the toughest lineups in all of baseball. Phelps allowed single runs in each of the first two innings, including a solo home run by David Murphy, but put three zeros on the board as the Yankees took the lead and went on to an 8-2 win.

The newest Yankee, Derek Lowe, than came out of the pen to throw four scoreless innings to earn a save in his Bronx debut.  Texas Rangers starter Ryan Dempster was making his third start since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago Cubs. Dempster's first time out was a rocky one as the Los Angeles Angels battered him, but Dempster bounced back with a win over the Boston Red Sox his last time out. Monday's game resembled his Texas debut as the Yankees hammered him for eight runs and nine hits in six innings.

The Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom of the third behind singles by Russell Martin and Raul Ibanez, a sac bunt by Ichiro Suzuki, and a walk to Derek Jeter. Nick Swisher then ripped a Dempster delivery into the second deck in right field for a grand slam and a 4-2 Yankees lead. It was the 200th home run of Swisher's career.

The Yankees loaded the bases again in the inning on Robinson Cano's walk and back to back singles by Mark Teixeira and Eric Chavez. Curtis Granderson brought home the fifth run of the inning with a deep fly to center field.

Phelps helped himself out with a pair of pick offs in the early going. He hit Ian Kinsler with a pitch with two out in the 2nd inning, but caught the second baseman before he could return to first safely with a quick toss to Teixeira to end the inning. The Rangers had a chance to break the game open in the 3rd on singles by Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, but Phelps picked Andrus off second base to kill the rally.

The Yankees tacked on runs in the 6th (solo home run by Chavez) and 7th innings (triple by Ichiro followed by a Jeter double, and an RBI single by Swisher). If Lowe was at all nervous he certainly didn't show it in his performance. The 16-year veteran allowed just two hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out four.


Mariano Rivera was at the Stadium to throw from flat ground. The Yankees still insist there's no way Mo will return this season.

Swisher's slam gave the Yankees a Major League leading nine for the season.

Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to nine games; he's hitting .372 (16-43) during the stretch.

Chavez's home run was his 13th of the season and fourth in August. It's his highest season HR total since he hit 15 in 2007 while with the Oakland A's.

Granderson's average dipped to .239, the lowest it's been since mid-April. He also struck out twice more and has 142 on the year. It's already the third highest total of his career.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

DJ the Hit Machine

photo courtesy of I4U.com

It's pretty good when you do something well that puts you in the company of just one other person. Derek Jeter joined another elite club this afternoon when he stroked two hits against the Toronto Blue Jays to become the second player with 17 straight seasons of 150 hits or more.

Hall of Fame right fielder Hank Aaron is the only other player to accomplish the feat. Aaron's streak began in    Milwaukee in 1955 and ended in Atlanta with the 1971 season. Hammerin' Hank finished with 3,771 hits in  3,298 games over 23 seasons.

Jeter's second hit of the game, a double to the gap in right-center, plated a runner and gave him exactly 150 hitson the season. 150 hits is not where Jeter generally stop though; in fact the only season that the Yankees shortstop had less than 160 hits was his injury (shoulder) shortened 2003 campaign when he finished with 156. His second lowest output was last year when again he missed significant time due to injury and finished with 162 base knocks.

The Yankees' captain has topped the 200 hit plateau seven times, as recently as 2009 when he hit .334 and the Yankees captured their 27th title. Jeter now has 3,238 hits spread over parts of 18 seasons and needs just four hits to tie Nap Lajoie for 13th place on the all-time hit list.

From the High to the Lowe

The Yankees name always came up whenever Derek Lowe was available. Whether it was when Lowe was a free agent or at the Major League trade deadline.

Though he's had some success - 174 career wins, 21 wins for the Red Sox in 2002 - I've never been enamored of him as a pitcher and was always glad when he or others decided he would not don the Pinstripes.

That all changed today, when Lowe, who was designated for assignment by the Cleveland Indians last week, signed on with the Yankees. Lowe had said he was willing to start or relieve for any team. The Yankees clearly signed Lowe as insurance after CC Sabathia was placed on the 15-day DL Saturday with a sore elbow.

Lowe was in his first season with the Indians after being traded by Atlanta this past off-season. He had signed a four year, $60MM deal with the Braves prior to the 2009 season, but was just 40-39 over the first three years of the deal and lost 17 games in 2011.  Cleveland released him after he had posted an 8-10, 5.52 record in 21 starts.

Lowe was part of one of the best deals the Boston Red Sox ever made when they acquired him and catcher Jason Varitek for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb at the 1997 trade deadline. He was 70-55, 3.72 in eight seasons in Boston, and was a member of the 2004 World Series winners.

He then moved on to the LA Dodgers as a free agent and was part of a high profile divorce when it was learned he was having an affair with Fox Sports' Carolyn Hughes, who was covering the team at the time. The two later married.

Sabathia to the DL; Time to Worry?

Yankees fans didn't get much of a chance to celebrate Saturday afternoon's win over the Toronto Blue Jays, the fourth straight on the road trip, before it was learned that CC Sabathia was put on the DL with left elbow soreness.

You never want to hear about a pitcher, especially your team's ace having an elbow or shoulder issue. Sabathia's elbow started to bother him on August 5, two days after his prior start, but an MRI showed no issues.

The soreness was present after Sabathia's last start as well, a 12-8 win over the Detroit Tigers this past Wednesday. Joe Girardi pulled the big lefty after just 94 pitches and 6.2 innings pitched because of concern over his number one's elbow.

Sabathia was reportedly upset about being placed on the DL and felt he could make his next scheduled start on Monday against the Texas Rangers. The Yankees were not taking any chances with their ace though.