Thursday, June 30, 2011

CC Abuses and Brewses Milwaukee

The first game of the three game series between the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Yankees was a how-to, or more aptly, a how-to-not play baseball. It started in the first inning when Zack Greinke plunked the lead off batter Brett Gardner and centerfielder Nyjer Morgan then did his impression of Bambi on ice and turned a routine Curtis Granderson fly ball into a face plant RBI triple.

A.J. Burnett out pitched Shaun Marcum in game 2 in a do it by the book 5-2 win. David Robertson and Mariano Rivera did their 8th and 9th inning things and the Yankees won their fourth straight.

The finale of the series Thursday afternoon was all about domination in winning their fifth straight. CC Sabathia tied a career high with 13 strikeouts and the Yankees completed a sweep of the Brewers by a final score of 5-0. Sabathia went 7.2 innings on 118 pitches; he scattered six hits (half of them by Ryan Braun) and walked a pair. It was a game in which Sabathia had a lot of strikeouts early but also had his pitch count into the sixties in the 3rd inning. He was much more efficient and deadly from then on. YES' Jack Curry reported that seven of Sabathia's K's came on his slider, which was biting hard on Thursday.

As has been the case of late, the Yankees gave their starting pitcher immediate run support. Randy Wolf walked the first two batters of the game, Gardner (who stole second) and Nick Swisher, and then watched as the Yankees pulled off a double steal. Wolf struck out Mark Teixeira, but Robinson Cano (batting clean up with Alex Rodriguez getting a day off) doubled to left-center for a 2-0 lead.

Teixeira led off the 3rd inning with his Major League leading 25th home run and the 300th of his career. (Yankee Stadium security was able to recover the historic ball from a fan.) Wolf then hit Cano and one batter later Andruw Jones singled. Francisco Cervelli delivered the first of his two RBI singles for a 4-0 Yankees advantage.

Milwaukee threatened when they put two aboard with two out in the 3rd. Sabathia pitched around the right-handed hitting Braun to load the bases, then struck out the left-handed hitting (and good friend of Sabathia) Prince Fielder for the second time in the game.

Fielder nearly got revenge in the 6th when Braun reached on a one out single and Fielder drilled a shot to left that looked like it might go out of the ball park and cut the Yankees lead to 4-2. But Jones caught the ball in front of the wall and the Brewers didn't have a serious threat the rest of the afternoon.


The Yankees have gone 15-4 in their last 19 games and have won six straight series as they head into Citi Field Friday night to start a three game series with the Mets. They're also now 23-4 in day games compared to 25-27 at night.

Bartolo Colon is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start Saturday's game. Hector Noesi or Brian Gordon are the most likely candidates to be sent to the minors upon Colon's return.

Derek Jeter will have two rehab games in Trenton This weekend and should be activated for the Yankees series with Cleveland beginning on Monday.

Earlier in the day the Yankees reacquired Sergio Mitre, who had been designated for assignment by the Brewers, for cash. He was put in the bullpen and Buddy Carlyle was sent down to make room.

CC Sabathia won for the 8th time in nine starts and won his Major League leading 11th game. (Detroit's Justin Verlander later joined him.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

FullCountPitch - Fans Doing An All-Star Job

In 1957, seven Cincinnati Reds players had been voted to start in the All-Star game. Commissioner Ford Frick responded by taking the vote away from the fans. Things are a little better in 2011.

Halley’s Comet, Steak Tartare, total solar eclipses…all three are less rare than baseball fans voting for the proper starters in the annual Major League All-Star game. But this year the average baseball Joe/Josephine is doing a pretty good job of mixing popularity with the deserving player. There are still mistakes of course, though some would argue that they are not errors since it is who the fans want to see. That being said, it is time to take a look at the current positional leaders for this year’s game, which will be played in Phoenix on July 12. (The statistical numbers indicated are accurate entering Sunday’s play unless otherwise indicated. All-Star vote totals are as of June 20.)

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Adrian BeltreAdrian GonzalezAlbert PujolsAlex AvilaAlex RodriguezBrandon PhillipsBrian McCannBruce BochyChipper JonesCurtis GrandersonDavid OrtizDavid WrightDerek JeterDustin PedroiaJoe MauerJoey VottoJose BautistaJose ReyesLance BerkmanMatt HollidayMatt KempMichael YoungMiguel MonteroPablo SandovalPrince FielderRobinson CanoRon WashingtonRussell MartinRyan BraunRyan HowardRyan ZimmermanTroy TulowitzkiVictor Martinez

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mariano Caps Great Day In The Bronx

Is that a smile of "I know you can't hit this?"

Whether you were at Yankee Stadium, sitting at home watching TV, or listening to the ceremonies on the radio, Sunday was a wonderful day in the Bronx. Having watched the 65th annual Old Timers Day prior to the regularly scheduled game, it was only fitting that Mariano Rivera, the oldest player on the Yankees, finished out Sunday's victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Rivera, who is older than Old Timers like Homer Bush and Aaron Small, struck out the side in the 9th to preserve the Yankees 6-4 victory. The Yankees homered three times in the game, including a blast by Jorge Posada, the second oldest Yankee.

The big story of the day though was the OT ceremonies, in particular the honoring of long time head trainer Gene "Geno" Monahan, who back in May announced he would retire at season's end. The 67-yr old has been with the organization for 49 years, including time as a bat boy when he was 17. A cancer scare last year put things in perspective for the man who has been there for Mantle, Murcer, Munson, Mattingly, and Mariano. Monahan was told he would throw out the first pitch before the OT game, which he did (to Jorge Posada who donned full catcher's gear), but he had know idea what was yet to come.

When he held the press conference in May, Monahan mentioned that he dreams a lot and it was time to start living some of those dreams. He mentioned he'd like to have a retriever named Schrader that he could take in his pick up truck to the store to pick up grass seed. All three came true on Sunday. With his fiancee and two grown daughters in attendance, Monahan was showered with gifts from the Yankees organization and sponsors. Among them was a Ford F-150 truck that had a big ol' Golden Retriever named Schrader in it.

There was a trip to the Alpine region in Europe, tickets to see Garth Brooks (and an autographed Cowboy hat from the country music star) in Las Vegas, a painting of the Stadium presented by the Steinbrenner family, a riding mower (and grass seed) presented by the grounds crew, a pair of seats from the old Stadiun, a video tribute, and much much more. It was an emotional capper to an emotional ceremony.

Back for the first time in a Yankees uniform were a couple of former managers, Joe Torre, who didn't leave on such great terms, and Lou Piniella, who was also one of the most popular Yankees players in the 1970's and 1980's. Torre appeared choked up as he received a long and loud ovation from the fans. Piniella hadn't been in a Yankees uniform since 1988 and marked the occassion by taking an at-bat in the game. He visited the broadcast booth during the regular game and joked (for those of you who don't know, Piniella was Paul O'Neill before Paul O'Neill) that he would be upset all night about grounding back to the pitcher.

Bernie Williams also made his return for his first Old Timers Day although he has never officially retired. He also received a very long ovation and then gave the crowd a big thrill with a deep drive to left-center for a double. Tino Martinez also got the fans applauding when he hit a David Cone meatball into the right field seats for a home run. The BamTino said "thank you" to Cone as he rounded third base, and Coney nodded his approval.

There aren't as many of the older Old Timers left; the ones that I used to see at OT Day when I was a kid, but some were still there. Moose Skowron, who announced to Kim Jones and the TV audience that he was battling lung cancer (even though he quit a while ago, Moose smoked for 40 years). Phil Rizzuto's old DP partner and long time baseball broadcaster Jerry Coleman was in attendance along with 86-yr old Charlie Silvera, who came up to the Yankees a catcher in 1948. The Yankees first great reliever, Luis Arroyo, was there. And of course Yogi Berra, who sadly looks very frail these days and the "Chairman of the Board", Whitey Ford were in the house. They, along with Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage were the Hall of Fame members in attendance.

David Wells, who is in better shape than he was in his playing days, demanded to know why O'Neill wasn't there. But so many players from my youth were- Mel Stottelmyre, Graig Nettles, BrianDolye, and Ron Guidry. There were those who are there every year, Joe Pepitone, Hector Lopez, Rick Cerone, and those that can't possibly be Old Timers like Bush, Kevin Maas, Clay Bellinger, and Brian Boehringer. As well as the playres from the last dynasty- Straw, Doc Gooden, Graeme Lloyd, Jeff Nelson and Charlie Hayes.

The widows of some of the Yankees greats are honored each year as well. This year's group was Kay Murcer, Diane Munson, Helen Hunter, Jill Martin, and Arlene Howard. Being that Bobby Murcer was my favorite player, I love seeing Mrs. Murcer there and I feel both sadness and joy to see Thurman's widow.

The Yankees also did a great job of remembering those who passed during the last year. Many of the names were unrecognizable, which makes think they now included members of the organization that worked behind the scenes. That was new and a nice touch. The last name announced was Cora Rizzuto, who I hadn't remembered had passed away.

The one thing missing was the Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who happened to turn 37 on Sunday. We all know he's rehabbing his injury and he wants to get back as soon as possible, but it was a disappointment that he wasn't there when Geno was honored, "Mr. Torre" and Bernie Williams returned.

One thing to note that was in poor taste. Thankfully it only lasted for about four players announced. Ron Blomberg came out to "Havah Nagila", Lee Mazzilli and Rick Cerone to a tarantella and Pat Kelly to an Irish jig. My wife and I exchanged shocked glances. "Are you really going to play an ethnic song for everyone? Could you stereotype it a little more?" As I said, thankfully that didn't continue or I wasn't paying attention. I hope it was the former.

As the regular game got underway, Michael Kay told John Flaherty that Mariano wanted him to introduce him with the Old Timers. Kay said, "I can't do that, I'll lose my job". Mariano pressed Kay to do it, but the YES broadcaster would not relent and said in a couple more years Mo will be one of them. After the game, Kim Jones asked Mo to verify the story and baseball's greatest reliever was all too happy to. He said "Michael blew it", called him a "big head" and said he was angry at him. It made for a great interview and was extremely funny. Mo concluded by saying, "I love you Michael". No one is greater than Mo.

As for the game itself, Ivan Nova and the Yankees fell behind 3-0 by the end of the 5th inning. Ty Wiggington hit the first of two home runs on the day as Nova had no control of his fastball. The Yankees answered back in the bottom of the 5th though when Nick Swisher hit a 2-run home run off of Rockies starter Juan Nicasio, and Posada followed with a game tying blast.

A Wiggington blast off Nova in the top of the 6th put Colorado back ahead, but Alex Rodriguez answered with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning to tie things up at 4-4. It would be broken an inning later when Eduardo Nunez singled home pinch-runner Chris Dickerson. Mark Teixeira then put some icing on the cake with a solo blast in the 8th, his 23rd of the season to gain a share of the AL lead with Toronto's Jose Bautista.

Boone Logan (2-2) and David Robertson then handed things over to Rivera, who cuttered his way through Wiggington, Charlie Blackmon, and Chris Iannetta for his 20th save of the season (579 in his career). A fitting ending to a perfect day.

CC Climbs Over The Rockies For 10th

It's a joy. That's the simplest and easiest way to describe watching a game that CC Sabathia pitches. Saturday was another example of pure pitching ecstasy as Sabathia cruised through eight innings against the Colorado Rockies and the Yankees bats pounded out 15 hits in an 8-3 victory.

When Sabathia pitches, the Yankees score runs and they jump started things for the big guy in the 1st inning against Rockies starter Aaron Cook. Brett Gardner reached on a bunt single and promptly stole second base. Curtis Granderson drove in his 55th run with a single to right and advanced to second when outfielder Eric Young booted the baseball. One batter later Alex Rodriguez singled home Granderson for a 2-0 lead.

The Yankees broke the game open in the 3rd when Granderson, who always seems to be in the middle of things, started the inning off with a single. Mark Teixeira doubled to center and Rodriguez followed a double of his own for a 4-0 Yankees lead. It gave the Yankees third baseman 50 RBI on the season and five runs batted in in the last two games.

The Rockies didn't get a runner to second base until Ryan Spilborghs led off the 5th inning with a double. He moved to third on a ground out, but Sabathia retired Matt Pagnozzi on a shallow fly to center and got Carlos Gonzalez to hit a comebacker to strand the runner on third.

Teixeira added his 22nd home run of the season, a 2-run shot, off of Rafael Betancourt in the 8th inning to regain the team RBI lead with 57.

Sabathia's day was done after his 103rd pitch ended the 8th inning. He allowed one run, scattered seven hits, and struck out nine.


The Yankees captain, Derek Jeter, turns 37 today. Ironically it is also Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium.

Alex Rodriguez was unable to score from second on a two out single by Jorge Posada in the 7th inning. It was the second time in the past week that Rodriguez was unable to score on a two out hit. After the game he admitted that he had tweaked his right knee in the Cubs series.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Giambi Rocks Yankees

I've never hidden my disdain for Jason Giambi. He's a nice guy, the golden thong stuff was funny, but he was/is a miserable first baseman (No matter how many times Michael Kay tried to convince us he was great at scooping throws out of the dirt), his steroid use and subsequent body breakdown hurt the team, he was a mentally soft player (Derek Jeter, one of his biggest supporters was pissed at him during the 2003 playoffs when Giambi begged out of the lineup with a bad knee, but later homered- "if you can hit a home run, you can play"), and his contract was a boondoggle. George Steinbrenner was chiefly to blame for the deal as he just needed to sign "the big star" despite knowing full well that Giambi may have used steroids.

All of the above is the reason I had problem with those who gave Giambi a standing ovation last night when he was announced for his first plate appearance of the game. Also, though I didn't hear it, the Bleacher Creatures gave him a roll call. So all Giambi did his first time up was hit a home run that may have landed in the Rockies (even if they are in the wrong direction). It was the first of the three hits, the now grey bearded Giambi, had on the night. But it was Ty Wiggington's RBI ground out in the 4th and Troy Tulowitzki's home run an inning later that did A.J. Burnett and the Yankees in, 4-2.

Burnett had an up and down, including become the first Yankees pitcher to strikeout four batters an inning. Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning with an RBI double, but Giambi's blast deep into the mass of Bleacher Creatures tied the game in the 2nd inning and started a pick fence as the Rockies scored a single run in four consecutive innings.

Rodriguez had temporarily tied the game with second RBI of the game in the 3rd inning, but as is the custom this season, the Yankees provided no run support for Burnett. Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez had control issues early (he eclipsed 60 pitches in the 3rd inning), but settled down to limit the Yankees bats to four of their five hits over seven innings.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Phil Hughes | Baseball Digest

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Phil Hughes | Baseball Digest

Phil Hughes will celebrate his 25th birthday today by making a rehab start for the Double-A Trenton Thunder against the New Britain Rock Cats. Hughes is attempting to come back from shoulder trouble that zapped him of his fastball earlier this year and led to a 13.94 ERA in three starts. The right-hander is hoping to build off his first rehab start in which he touched 95-mph on the radar gun. Things weren’t always so do difficult for the California native.

Hughes was born in Mission Viejo and was an All-American at Foothill High School in Santa Ana, CA. He capped off his scholastic career with a 9-1, 0.69 mark as a senior and committed to Santa Clara University. But Hughes was selected as the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2004 draft by the New York Yankees and found himself making three appearances in the Gulf Coast League that summer. The 19-yr old spent the 2005 season split between Charleston and Tampa, posting a combined 9-1, 2.19 record with 93 strikeouts in 86.1 innings.

Hughes followed it up with a 12-6, 2.16 record with 168 strikeouts in 146 innings at Tampa and Trenton the following season. Expectations in the Bronx were through the roof and Hughes was ranked as the number two prospect in Baseball America prior to the 2007 season. Hughes started the season at Triple-A Scranton, but was called to make his Major League debut on April 26 against the Toronto Blue Jays and current teammate A.J. Burnett.

Hughes was touched up for a pair of runs in the 1st inning before cruising through the next three frames. But Hughes didn’t make it out of the 5th inning and was charged with four runs in 4.1 innings. The much anticipated debut was less than stellar, but his second time out would be a game to remember in more ways than one.

It was May 1st at the Ballpark in Arlington when Hughes took the mound against the Texas Rangers. Hughes walked the lead off hitter Kenny Lofton, but got a quick double play and a strikeout to end the 1st inning. Except for an additional pair of walks, Hughes tossed zeros through the 6th inning and had not allowed a hit. The Yankees offense had handEd Hughes a 9-0 lead as he strode to the mound in the 7th inning. Hughes quickly retired the lead off hitter, Michael Young, and faced future teammate Mark Teixeira. That’s when Hughes’ season turned upside down. Hughes over extended himself in attempt to get more torque on his curve ball and pulled his hamstring. He was done for the night (Hank Blalock broke up the no-hitter with a double off Mike Myers to start the 8th) and would not return to the Major Leagues until August the 4th.

It was a rocky return when Hughes did come back to the Bronx. He was just 1-2, 6.40 in six August starts and struggled with his command. But Hughes once again gave hope for the future with a strong final month of the season (3-0, 2.73 in five starts) and an impressive pair of post-season appearances against the Cleveland Indians, which included a victory in the ALDS. But just when you think things are on the upswing, life can kick you where it hurts.

Hughes would make just eight appearances in 2008 due to a variety of injuries and didn’t win a game. Suddenly many of the expectant fans thought Hughes was done or wouldn’t amount to anything. That he was fragile and another Carl Pavano in the making. It didn’t help matters that fellow rookie Ian Kennedy also struggled and the team didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in a dozen years. But each spring training brings renewal and 2009 would be a re-birth for both Hughes and the Yankees.

With the team in need of bullpen help, the Yankees decided to shift Hughes into a relief role. The now 23-yr old responded with dominance. He struck out 10 batters per nine innings and walked just 2.9 per nine innings. The third year player established himself as the 8th inning man in front of Mariano Rivera and was one of the keys to the Yankees return to the playoffs. Though Hughes personally struggled in the post-season, the Yankees captured their first World Series title in nine years and their 27th overall. Hughes had a magnificent year, but GM Brian Cashman was quick to point out that his former first round pick was still considered a starter and would resume that role in 2010.

Hughes not only returned to a starting role, but had a tremendous first half and made his first All-Star team. He wasn’t as consistent in the second half, perhaps some of his shoulder issues were beginning, but he still finished with an 18-8, 4.19 record and set career highs in innings pitched (176.1) and strikeouts (146). The Yankees makeshift rotation of 2011 has overachieved thus far, but if Hughes can return healthy and throwing hard, the team should be a post-season factor once again.

Also Born On This Date:

Doug Jones (1957 Covina, CA): The pitcher was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Butler University in 1978. He spent 16 seasons in the Major Leagues with all but four of his 846 career appearances coming in relief. Jones career took him to Milwaukee and Cleveland twice, Houston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago (NL), and Oakland. He saved 303 games in his career, currently the 21st highest total in Major League Baseball. Before Jones retired following the 2000 season, he was named to five All-Star games and finished in the top 15 in MVP voting twice.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Heisey Effect

The Heisenberg Effect states that the "very act of becoming a player changes the game being played". Of course this is in scientific terms. The Heisey Effect states, no shows, that when Chris Heisey hits three home runs in one game the Cincinnati Reds earn a split of a day-night doubleheader with the New York Yankees.

Heisey's heroics helped ruin the second big league start of Brian Gordon and made a rare trainwreck out of Hector Noesi's performance. The Reds 10-2 win avoided a sweep at the hands of the Yankees, who had won the second game of the series earlier in the day, 4-2.

Heisey entered the game with just five home runs on the season, but didn't wait long to hit number six, depositing Gordon's delivery into the left field seats to start the bottom of the 1st inning. Nick Swisher tied the game in the 2nd with an opposite field blast that was just one of the two hits allowed by Johnny Cueto (5-2, 1.63) over seven innings.

Jonny Gomes quickly put the Reds back ahead in the home half of the 2nd with his 9th home runs of the season. In Gordon's fifth and final inning Heisey extended the lead to 4-1 with a 2-run shot. Gordon, whose path to the Majors as a converted outfielder has been well documented, got to bat in a big league game for the first time. He drew a walk in his first appearance, but struck out in his only other at-bat.

Gordon wasn't the only one who had trouble though, as the Yankees managed just four hits on the night, two of them by Alex Rodriguez. Their one chance to get back in the ball game came in the 7th when they were still down three. Rodriguez led off with a single and Swisher followed with a walk. Cueto struck out Russell Martin, but then gave the Yankees a break when he dropped Joey Votto's toss on a Robinson Cano grounder to load the bases.

Cano had pinch-hit for Eduardo Nunez, meaning the Yankees had to let Ramiro Pena bat for himself. The light hitter lightly hit a grounder to Votto, who threw home for the force out. Jorge Posada then pinch-hit for the pitcher's spot, but unlike his heroics earlier in the day, grounded out to end the inning.

The Reds then took Noesi apart with three runs in both the 7th and 8th innings, the latter of which featured Heisey's third blast of the day.

The first game of the day was much different with Freddy Garcia tossing a fairly effortless seven innings to improve to 6-6. With the game tied 2-2 in the 6th, Cano reached on a lead off single against starter Mike Leake and Posada followed with his first home run since April 23, a stretch of 126 at-bats. David Robertson worked the 8th before giving way to Mariano Rivera who picked up his 19th save.

The Yankees had broken a scoreless tie in the 3rd when Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson stroked back to back one out singles and Swisher provided an RBI ground out. Cano followed with a single for 2-0 lead.

The Reds tied the game up with the help of rare sloppy defensive play from Pena, who was playing third base in the first game. Drew Stubbs reached on a Pena throwing error to start the 5th (Had Mark Teixeira been playing first base instead of Jorge Posada, it's likely the ball would not have been out of reach.) Edgar Renteria then singled to put runners on the corners with no one out. What followed was both a physical and mental error by Pena.

Ryan Hanigan hit a chopper to third that likely was not hit hard enough to turn a double play, but Pena should have gotten the sure out at second. Instead he threw a one hopper home that catcher Francisco Cervelli couldn't handle for Pena's second error of the inning. (He would later pick up a third error when a ball when right between his legs.) Leake sacrificed the runners over and Fred Lewis brought in Renteria with the tying run on a deep play to Granderson in center. Garcia wild pitched Hanigan to third, but got Brandon Phillips to fly out to end the inning.


The Yankees bad baserunning continued in game one. Eduardo Nunez doubled, but was picked off second and was eventually charged with a caught stealing as he attempted to take third.

Prior to the games, the Yankees placed Jeff Marquez on the DL with a sore shoulder and called up Buddy Carlyle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Let's Play Two...Far Apart

I hate day-night doubleheaders. As with most things in baseball they are all about greed. The Yankees actually had a choice when Tuesday's game was called- play a split DH today or play on Thursday's off day. The Yankees wisely opted for the twin-bill.

Freddy Garcia will pitch the opener against Mike Leake with Brian Gordon making his second start against Johnny Cueto and his sub-2.00 ERA tonight. Game 1 is on YES and Game 2 is on my9 (I hate that name). The irony in the night game is of course that Gordon, the one time outfielder, will finally get a chance to hit in a Major League game.

W-I-N in Cincinnati

Among the most fun shows in the late 1970's and early 1980's was WKRP in Cincinnati. Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson the boss, the rock Andy Travis, the wild Dr. Johnny Fever, the cool Venus Flytrap, resident jackass Herb Tarlik, the nutty Les Nessman, sweet Bailey Quarters, and the voluptuous Jennifer Marlowe. A great cast of characters. "As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly".

Getting back to Tuesday night's game, Ivan Nova pitched his best game of the season, with eight innings of work. After being handed a 4-0 lead, Nova gave one back immediately and looked like he might be on his way to another rough outing. But the rookie righted the ship and took an important step towards trying to stay in the rotation once Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon return. He'll be battling Garcia and Gordon for that final spot.

The Yankees had their hitting shoes on in the first inning with a lineup that had Nick Swisher in the leadoff spot against left-hander Travis Wood and Andruw Jones starting in left over Brett Gardner...which of course is absurd since Gardner has been red hot and Jones has done nothing.

Jones temporarily staved off the nay sayers with an RBI single in the 1st inning, but later did not run out a grounder and then motioned as if he had tweaked something in his leg. His act was not very convincing.

Boone Logan's failures continued as well. With a 5-1 lead in the 9th, Joe Girardi went to Luis Ayala to start the inning. After yielding a single to Brandon Phillips, Ayala was pulled in favor of Logan to face lefty and reigning NL MVP Joey Votto. The at-bat lasted one pitch as Logan hit Votto to put two men aboard. Girardi wasted no time in going to Mariano Rivera, who may or may not have warmed up enough. Scott Rolen singled in a run and another scored on a Chris Heisey ground out before Rivera notched his 18th save.


Phil Hughes will make his next rehab start for Trenton on Friday in New Britain. The plan is to increase his pitch count to 75 and then he will have one more start for the Thunder.

Bartolo Colon has begun long tossing and Derek Jeter is hoping to return on June 29 as he continues baseball activities.

FullCountPitch - Ellsbury The Front-Runner For Comeback POY

This time last year Jacoby Ellsbury was absolutely miserable. He couldn’t stay healthy, the media speculated that the team was upset with him for not playing through pain, and Ellsbury openly questioned the diagnosis made by the Boston Red Sox team doctors. There was also widespread speculation by the media that Ellsbury wouldn’t be back with the Red Sox for the 2011 season. Not only is Ellsbury back, but he’s back with a vengeance.

The Red Sox leadoff man and center fielder entered Sunday night’s play in the top ten in batting (.312), hits (89), doubles (22), runs (51) and total bases (135). In addition, he led the American League with 24 stolen bases and had an .844 OPS. Though overshadowed by new teammate Adrian Gonzalez, Ellsbury has established himself as a legitimate Most Valuable Player candidate this season.

Ellsbury finished up Spring Training in 2010 in fairly good shape, with just four games missed due to a sore arm. All that changed though on April 11 when the Red Sox were two outs away from a road win against the Kansas City Royals. Mitch Maier hit a pop up towards the left field line. Ellsbury, then the left fielder, came charging hard towards the line. The only problem was third baseman Adrian Beltre, head down, was charging towards the ball too.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Swisher Clubs Cubs

Nick Swisher has been looking high and low for his swing all season, especially from the left side of the plate, where his has batting average has been 150-200 points lower than from the right. But it was against right-hander Chris Carpenter that Swisher crushed a go ahead 3-run home run in the 8th inning and the Yankees went on to a 10-4 victory at Wrigley Field.

CC Sabathia struggled early then settled down for his ninth win of the season and the Yankees took two of three in the weekend series. Alfonso Soriano smacked a 3-run home run of his own to give the Cubs a 4-1 lead in the 3rd inning, but Sabathia would allow just two more runners in scoring position on the night. He finished off his night with a five pitch seventh frame.

Cubs manager Mike Quade was a bit hamstrung in the late innings since his main set up man, Jeff Samardzija was unavailable after throwing 40 pitches on Saturday. When lefty Scott Marshall gave up back to back singles to Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano to start the 8th, Quade sent for the rookie Carpenter to face Swisher. After two pitches well out of the strike zone, Carpenter had no choice but come into the strike zone with the baseball and Swisher jumped all over it, much to delight of the many Yankees fans in attendance.

With Mariano Rivera warming for a save opportunity, the Yankees put the game away in the 9th with some help from the Cubs' defense. Brett Gardner, who began the day with his first career game lead off home run, doubled to left for his third hit of the night. Curtis Granderson followed with a deep drive into narrow right field corner that infielder turned outfielder Jeff Baker simply whiffed on for an RBI triple. Mark Teixeira doubled off Rodrigo Lopez for another run and then Soriano quit on an A-Rod drive that hit the base of the wall (Speculation was that Soriano thought the ball was a home run or was going to hit high off the wall) for an RBI double.


After a miserable first two months of the season, Nick Swisher appears to have woken up. He's slugging at a .618 rate and has a 1.070 OPS in June. He also has four home runs and 13 RBI in 17 games and has raised his average from May 25 from .204 to .237.

Phil Hughes took the next step towards his return to the Bronx with a rehab stint for the New York-Penn League's Staten Island Baby Bombers. Hughes threw in the 92-93 mph range for most of the day and reached 95 at one point.

Alex Rodriguez denied a report from's Wallace Matthews that he was playing with a strained left shoulder. He admitted that his shoulder was sore, but that it was nothing more than the regular bumps and bruises that occur during the season.

Perhaps A.J. Burnett could ask for some run support from CC Sabathia. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Yankees have scored in double digits six times for the big lefty, double the amount for any other pitcher in the league.

Sabathia has been dominant on the road this season, going 6-2, 2.62 compared to a 4.20 ERA at Yankee Stadium. He's also won his last five road decisions.

Struggling Triple-A starter Andrew Brackman has been moved to the bullpen to try to straighten out his troubles.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Lou Gehrig Born 108 Years Ago Today

An amazing career, but and an even more amazing and courageous man. His speech on the day honoring him, July 4, 1939, still resonates today.

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies — that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so that you can have an education and build your body — it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know."

So I close in saying that I might have been given a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for. Thank you."

Joe D Did Not Like The Cleveland Indians

The Yankee Clipper and Keltner joke around at an OT Day

Okay, I really don't know if that was true. But on this date, June 19,1941, Joe DiMaggio extended his hitting streak to 32 games against the Chicago White Sox. Of course, we know the streak ended at 56 games when third baseman Kenny Keltner and the Indians stopped it.

And a year later, on this exact date, Joe D struck out three times against the Indians' Mel Harder. It was the only time in 1,787 games that the Yankees centerfielder went down on strikes three times in a game. A remarkable feat, but even more remarkable was the fact that he struck out just 369 times in a 13 year career. The Orioles' Mark Reynolds does that in one and a half seasons!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yankees Top Cubs In Spite Of Themselves

Ray Liotta, er, Russell Martin takes Carlos Pena's best shot

The Yankees did everything they could today to give the ball game away, but held on a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. It evened the series at a game apiece, with the rubber game another nationally televised affair on ESPN Sunday night.

The Yankees squandered offensive opportunities, ran the bases poorly, committed errors, threw wild pitches, hit batters, and still came out on top even after Mariano Rivera surrendered a solo home run to Reed Johnson in the 9th and a follow up single to Alfonso Soriano.

The Yankees had Ryan Dempster on the ropes all day, but it took until the 6th inning and the game tied 2-2 to finally take the lead for good. Eduardo Nunez reached on a lead off single and moved to second base on an odd bunt from A.J. Burnett. The ball rolled foul, but first baseman Carlos Pena didn't pick the ball up and it rolled back into fair territory for a successful sacrifice. Brett Gardner's single put runners on the corners and drove Dempster from the game. Reliever James Russell got away with a pitch to Curtis Granderson, who narrowly missed his 22nd home run, but delivered a sac fly and a 3-2 Yankees lead. With a chance to possibly score more and Mark Teixeira at the plate, Gardner was picked off first base to end the inning. But Gardner would more than make up for his gaffe a short time later.

Yankees starter A.J. Burnett was effective for the most part, his one mistake a flat fastball that Pena turned in a game tying (2-2) home run. Burnett almost became a victim of bad luck in the bottom half of the 6th when the wheels came off the Yankees defense. Burnett's breaking ball broke into Pena for a hit batter with one out and Nunez booted Reed Johnson's ground ball to put the tying and go ahead runs on base. Joe Girardi went to Cory Wade to face Alfonso Soriano, who hit a sharp grounder to third. Alex Rodriguez made a nice play to snare the ball, but Robinson Cano dropped the throw to second for the second Yankees error of the inning.

The dangerous Geovany Soto stepped in and hit a bullet to left that Gardner caught on the run and then fired a perfect one hopper to Russell Martin at home plate. Pena came barrelling in high and slammed into the Yankees catcher, who had a firm grip on the baseball for an inning ending double play. Martin was sure not only to show the ball to the umpire, but Pena as well in a "I took your best shot" moment.

The Yankees got a much needed insurance run in the 9th when Nunez doubled home Cano, but Nick Swisher continued the Yankees tough day on the bases by getting throw out at home plate to end the inning. The run proved to be huge when Reed Johnson hit a hanging cutter from Rivera into the left field seats to make it a one run game. (FOX's anti-Yankee Joe Buck announced the game was tied with much glee, but then had to sadly retract his statement) But after Soriano followed with a single, Rivera got Soto to bounce into a double play and struck out Jeff Baker to nail down the win.


In addition to Gardner and Swisher, Granderson was thrown out attempting to steal and Rodriguez was nailed trying to stretch a single into a double.

The Yankees were 3-12 with runners in scoring position, plus two sacrifice flies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Yankees and Pitchers Batting Bore At Wrigley

Though it was just another game, albeit one between the Yankees and Chicago Cubs there was something really irritating about this afternoon's game. Like a gnat buzzing around your ear; one that just won't leave you alone. Think Joba and midges.

Perhaps it was losing 3-1 to the mediocre Cubs. Perhaps it was losing to starter Doug Davis who entered the game without a win and an ERA around 6.00. Perhaps it was seeing Freddy Garcia struggle early. Perhaps it was seeing the Yankees hitters do nothing all day. Perhaps it was listening to Michael Kay drone on about irrelevant topics. Perhaps it was watching the pitcher bat. Perhaps it was watching the pitcher bunt with one out already. Perhaps, no, definitely it was all of those things combined.

Interleague play starts the DH/non-DH, harder to manage the NL, double switch BS conversation every year. There's NOTHING fun about watching a pitcher bat, except for the occasional, "oh wow he got a hit" for any pitcher, which is most pitchers, hitting around .130. It's boring. It dulls the senses. It's the trap defense in hockey, the old four corners offense in the pre-shot clock era in college basketball, and the option play in football all rolled into one. BORING. PREDICTABLE. HAS TO GO!

As for the game itself, Garcia put the Yankees in an immediate whole in the 1st inning. He walked the lead off man Kosuke Fukudome, which is never a good way to start any inning. Starlin Castro doubled to make it a 1-0 game and two batters later Aramis Ramirez singled for a 2-0 lead.

Three straight hits by Castro, Blake DeWitt, and Ramirez produced a third run in the 3rd inning, but Garcia escaped further trouble by getting out of a two on, no out jam. Meanwhile, the Yankees offense did nothing against Davis, who hadn't won a game since May 5 in an injury plagued 2010 season.

The Yankees didn't have a hit until Robinson Cano's two out single in the 4th and didn't pose a real threat until an inning later. Eduardo Nunez reached on an infield single, but Brett Gardner grounded out, putting Garcia up with one on and one out. Not wanting to tax the bullpen that early, Joe Girardi stuck with his pitcher, who laid down the previously mentioned, ridiculous one out bunt. Nick Swisher walked to put two aboard, but Curtis Granderson struck out on a 3-2 pitch out of the zone.

The Yankees finally got on the board in the 8th and knocked Davis out in the process. When Swisher reached on a one out double, Mike Quade went to left-hander Scott Marshall to face Granderson. The move worked as Granderson struck out again, but switch-hitter Mark Teixeira singled from the right side to get the Yankees off the schneid. Quade then called on closer Carlos Marmol, who struck out Alex Rodriguez to end the frame.

The Yankees had one more shot in the 9th when Russ Martin drew a one out walk to bring the tying run to the plate. Jorge Posada pinch-hit for Nunez, but was called out on strikes for the second out. Gardner kept the Yankees alive with a single, but pinch-hitter Chris Dickerson went down swinging to end the game.

And now we have the idiots from Fox and ESPN the next two days debating the DH, pitchers, and droning on.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gardners Bake Pies Too

Brett Gardner started the day as he did yesterday, sitting on the bench watching Andruw Jones play in left field against a left-handed pitcher. But in a case of "it's not who starts, but who finishes", Gardner got the last swing. His one out RBI in the 12th brought home Curtis Granderson for a 3-2 win over the Texas Rangers.

After the Boston Red Sox swept the Yankees in three games to start the homestand, the Bombers won six of the final seven games (the one loss was 1-0 to Cleveland). The Yankees also continued their solid play against the Rangers this season with their third series win and are 7-2 against the team that beat them in last year's ALCS.

The game started out with the unknown Brian Gordon making his first Major League start. The 32-yr old veteran of 15 minor league seasons was outstanding. He allowed two runs in 5.1 innings (7 H 3 BB 3 K) and threw 55 of 84 pitches for strikes. He managed the major jam he got into in the 5th inning and limited the Rangers to a pair of runs (on an Ian Kinsler double) despite having the bases loaded with one out.

Russell Martin had provided an RBI single in the 2nd inning (and threw out two would be base stealers) and Jorge Posada tied the game up in the 6th with an RBI double against starter C.J. Wilson. The Yankees bullpen provided 6.2 of scoreless relief with Corey Wade throwing the final two for first his win as a Yankee and his first victory in the majors since June 13, 2009. (The Yankees are now 18-3 (.857) in day games.)

The Yankees wasted a golden opportunity when they loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 9th against Darren Oliver. After getting ahead in the count, 3-1, Granderson struck out for the second out of the inning and Mark Teixeira grounded out to end the inning. But Granderson started things in the 12th with his third hit of the day. Teixeira flew out, but lefty Michael Kirkman hit Robinson Cano with a controversial pitch. Texas manager Ron Washington came out to argue with home plate umpire Mike Everitt, feeling the ball hit the knob of the bat rather than Cano. (Replays were inconclusive, though Cano didn't show much reaction)

Gardner, who should be starting against left-handers rather than Jones, then singled through the right side to plate Granderson and sent the Yankees off to Wrigley Field with a victory.

It's Throw It At The Wall...

...And See If It Sticks Day in the Bronx. The Yankees had "Deja vu all over again" last night, pounding Texas for the second straight night, 12-4, but today should be "interesting". Getting the start is career minor leaguer Brian Gordon.

Gordon is a converted outfielder that has spent 15 seasons in the minor leagues. He has three games of big league experience, ironically, as a member of the Texas Rangers in 2008 (4 IP 0-0, 2.25). Gordon was originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the seventh round of the 1997 draft, or one year before Arizona actually started playing as a Major League franchise. He showed promise when he drove in 46 years in 54 rookie league games after finishing up at Round Rock High School in Texas, but moved slowly up the Arizona chain, spending two years each in 'A' and advanced 'A' ball.

After his first season at Triple-A Tucson, Gordon opted for minor league free agency and signed with the then Anaheim Angels. After two years at Triple-A Salt Lake, the 26-yr old Gordon left via free agency again, and signed with the Houston Astros. After another season at the top minor league level, Gordon decided it was time to give pitching a go, something he hadn't done since high school.

Gordon was most recently pitching for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs of the International League when he used his opt out clause for a chance to pitch in the Bronx. As in the big leagues. As in starting a Major League game against Texas' C.J. Wilson. No one knows how he'll fare, but GM Brian Cashman figures he has nothing to lose and hopes the low risk gamble works out as well as Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon did for a time.

Hector Noesi will be ready to go whenever Gordon is done.

Back to last night, the Yankees infield went homertastic, with each starter hitting one out of the ball park. Mark Teixeira led the parade with a pair of blasts, Robinson Cano smashed a deep three-run shot, Eduard Nunez celebrated this 24th birthday with a home run, and the third baseman? No it wasn't Alex Rodriguez, who DH'ed. Light hitting Ramiro Pena even got into the act with a home run. August 22, 1939 was the last time the Yankees pulled off the trick - Babe Dahlgren, Joe Gordon, Frankie Crosetti and Red Rolfe hit the home runs.

Teixeira's home runs came from each side of the plate, the 11th such time he had accomplished the feat. In doing so, Teixeira tied the Major League record jointly held by Eddie Murray and Chili Davis.

With left-hander Derek Holland getting the start for Texas Wednesday night, Joe Girardi moved Nick Swisher into the lead off spot. It was the first time Swisher batted in the top spot since he was a member of the White Sox in 2008. Swisher responded with a 1-3 night with two walks and a run scored. He'll be in the top spot again today with Wilson going for Texas.

Per Newsday's Ken Davidoff, to make room for Gordon on the 25-man, Lance Pendleton was optioned to the minors and Amauri Sanit was released to free up a spot on the 40-man roster.

Gordon isn't the first Yankee this season to opt out of a minor league deal to sign with the Yankees. Reliever Cory Wade excelled for the Dodgers in 2008, but after a shaky 2009 season had not been back in the Major Leagues until last night. After pitching well in the Tampa Bay Rays organization (Triple-A Durham), Wade opted out and signed with the Yankees. He appeared in one game for Scranton before being recalled prior to last night's game. Kevin Whelan was sent down to Scranton to make room on the 25-man roster. Wade pitched a 1-2-3 7th inning and picked up his first Major League strikeout in two years.

Ivan Nova won his sixth game last night, but it was mostly due to run support. The rookie usually pitches well in the early innings, but struggled from the get-go and allowed four runs in 5.2 innings.