Archive for April, 2009
Game 22: Angels at Yankees • 04.30.09
Pitching: RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 5.47).
Pitching: RHP Anthony Ortega (0-1, 7.20).
BACK HOME: The Yankees return from a 2-4 road trip to start an eight-game homestand against the Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees are three games out of first in the AL East while the Angels are three games out in the AL West.
STREAKS AND SUCH: Robinson Cano (16) and Hideki Matsui (9) have hit streaks going. … Mark Teixeira is 1 of his last 16. He’ll be happy to see April in the rear-view mirror. … Phil Coke hasn’t allowed a run in his last five innings.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the one combined earned run allowed on Tuesday by 22-year-old Phil Hughes (6.0 IP, 0 ER) and on Wednesday by 23-year-old Joba Chamberlain (7.0 IP, 1 ER) marked the first time the Yankees had starters that young allow one earned run or less in consecutive games since 5/29-30/1981, when 22- year-old Dave Righetti (8.0 IP, 1 ER) and 20-year-old Gene Nelson (5.2 IP, 0 ER) accomplished the feat in consecutive wins at Cleveland. (Thanks to the Yankees for that note).
MORE ON A-ROD: Rodriguez faced 33 pitches in the intrasquad game today. He also did his usual worjout and took batting practice after the game. A-Rod is scheduled to DH in an extended spring training game tomorrow against the Pirates in Bradenton.
WELCOME BACK, BOBBY: Bobby Abreu was a Yankee for 372 games from 2006-08. He hit .295, had a .376 OBP and drove in 243 runs. The Yankees declined to retain him as a free agent as they were concerned about his age and declining defensive skills. The Angels picked him up on the cheap and he is at .368/.430/.434 for them.
Hopefully folks give Bobby a nice hand tonight. He was a good, solid player for the Yankees and never caused any trouble.
A.J.’S TURN: After dominant starts by Phil and Joba, A.J. Burnett needs a bounce back after his atrocious performance against the Red Sox on Saturday. He has allowed 11 earned runs in his last 11.1 innings.
DISH ON SWISH: Nick Swisher is hitting .307 and leads the team in homers (seven), RBI (19) and is second in OBP (.416).
Kevin Devaney will take it from here. Enjoy the game.
UPDATE, 6:09 p.m.: Hello all, Kevin Devaney here taking over for Pete. Just got back from the clubhouse. Below are audio of Girardi and GM Brian Cashman from the pregame:
Update, 7:20 p.m.: Not a great first inning for Burnett considering he’s coming off that awful start in Boston. Two other things of note:
1. The Bleacher Creatures did a role call for Bobby Abreu in right. Necessary? I mean, he wasn’t exactly loved the entire time he was here because of his indifferent personality and his fear of outfield walls.
2. Speaking of fear, there’s a reporter in the press box wearing a doctors mask. The swine flu scare is taking over. Just look at the empty seats around the dugouts. People are afraid!
Update, 7:56 p.m.: Nice play in the hole by Jeter finally gives Burnett a scoreless inning. Much-needed for the emotional pitcher, especially against the heart of the Angels order.
Update, 8:00 p.m.: The Old Johnny Damon Half-Swing Home Run. Ortega apparently never got the memo not to throw fastballs on the inner-half to lefties here at the new stadium.
Update, 8:28 p.m.: Derek Jeter brings home two runs (one an error in right) and the Yankees take the lead. It puts him in sole possession of 10th place on the all-time Yankee list. It’s 4-3 Yanks in the bottom of the fourth.
How did the rally start? Oh yeah, Nick Swisher’s single. The guy might not be talented enough to actually lead the Yankees in homers and RBI all season. But he’s going to be in the middle of things a lot.
By the way, Swisher’s collage was completed by tonight’s return to the stadium. He cut out pictures of every teammate and taped them all together on the right side of his locker. Most of the players are in snazzy suits. Very cool for a player to do that. A-Rod should do the same, although he probably couldn’t name 4 or 5 of the guys.
Update, 8:42 p.m.: By the way, I should have noted this earlier, but an email from Tim made a great point: I’ve been to five Yankee home games this season and the roar on Derek Jeter’s hit before was by far the loudest it’s been here. Pete has compared this place to a “church” at times, and I agree. But on that hit, I felt like I was back at the old stadium. Maybe the museum fans are gone and the real folks finally got tickets? Let’s hope so.
Update, 9:08 p.m.: The Angels have now put the leadoff man on base in four of Burnett’s seven innings. The first three scored, including Napoli’s homer. Let’s see if Burnett can finally dance around this.
Update, 9:10 p.m.: Burnett finally makes pitches and gets out of an inning. Double-play ball and a first-pitch pop-out. Good sign.
Update, 9:38 p.m.: That’s a 17-game hitting streak for Robinson Cano. Posada’s ground-rule double puts runners on second and third with one out. Seriously, is there any doubt Nick Swisher’s going to come through here?
Update, 9:39 p.m.: Intentionally walking Swisher was a good move. Never let the MVP candidate beat you in that spot.
Bruce pays tribute to Harry Kalas • 04.30.09
It is always great when the worlds of baseball and music come together like they did last night at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
Bruce Springsteen was playing the vaunted old arena for the last time before it is torn down. Old-time Bruce fans know that some of his best shows have been in the Spectrum and that Philadelphia has some of his most passionate fans.
When Bruce came to Philly as part of the Born In The USA Tour 25 years ago, a sports talk radio guy named Rob Charry had Harry Kalas record play-by-play of Bruce hitting a grand slam off Clarence Clemons.
Bruce dug up that recording and played it last night before dedicating Thunder Road to Harry, who passed away earlier this month. Bruce is a big baseball fan — Yankees, of course — and knew how much Harry meant to the people in Philadelphia.
Bruce and the mighty E Street Band also played London Calling by request. This sounds like a must-have bootleg.
A-Rod: 1 for 6 with a homer • 04.30.09
Alex Rodriguez was 1 for 6 with a homer and two walks in the extended spring intrasquad game in Tampa. He faced right-handers Matt Richardson and Jose Ramirez in the intrasquad, extended Spring Training game held at the Yankees’ Minor League complex.
He did not run the bases at remotely full speed according to observers. When he homered in the third inning, he jogged to first then headed back to the dugout.
Given the informal nature of the game, such things are allowed.
Meanwhile, back in the Bronx … • 04.30.09
When last the Yankees played at home, there were two problems: Too many home runs and not enough wealthy people in the good seats.
The Yankees tried to solve one problem, cutting the premium seat prices from obscene to merely outrageous. Those on the good side of the concrete moat must be happy.
But what of the home runs? Brian Cashman has said the team is “monitoring” how the balls flies out the new place. You can be sure everybody will be monitoring how many dingers are hit over the next eight games.
I wonder if playing at night will change anything?
Joe Girardi is right when he says it doesn’t matter as both teams play in the same conditions. But over the course of time, if Yankees pitchers give up home runs by the score and there are more 9-8 games instead of 3-2, it’s going to wear the bullpen out.
Nothing can change this season in terms of the dimensions. But if it’s home run derby all summer, there will have to be some adjustments made before 2010. The Phillies had to fix up left field in their new park. It happens.
I also wonder if any measures will be taken to keep fans sitting atop the outfield fences from interfering with play.
Pitching matchups for the Angels series • 04.30.09
Tonight: RHP Anthony Ortega (0-1, 7.20) vs. RHP A.J. Burnett (2-0, 5.47), 7:05, YES
Friday: RHP Jered Weaver (2-1, 2.45) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (2-1, 2.96), 7:05, YES
Saturday: RHP Matt Palmer (1-0, 6.00) vs. LHP CC Sabathia (1-2, 4.73), 1:05, YES, WCBS
Sunday: LHP Joe Saunders (2-1, 3.51) vs. RHP Phil Hughes (1-0, 0.00), 1:05, YES, WCBS
UPDATE, 10:53 p.m.: Shameless plug: I’m going to be on SportsCenter at 11 a.m.
Greetings from Gate A-50 • 04.30.09
Here we are at the Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson International Airport in Detroit waiting for a flight back to New York.
This airport is one of my faves. Easy to use, quick security, Motown store with good CDs. They could use some electrical outlets at the gates, however.
Detroit is a rough town. I took eight cabs over the course of three days. Six of them had the “check engine” light on. It’s like everybody in the city is fighting to survive. The Red Wings seem to keep the place going at times.
As for the Yankees, the big news today should be that they’re starting an eight-game homestand coming off two impressive pitching performances by their young studs. Instead Joe Giardi and his players will have to answer questions about Alex Rodriguez as the fallout from the upcoming Selena Roberts book has started.
The latest news is that Rodriguez was suspected of using steroids while a Yankee and used to tip pitches to opposing players while a member of the Rangers so they might help him out in turn. Two things:
• Roberts has never once written or said anything about A-Rod that didn’t prove to be 100-percent true. Never once. There is no reason whatsoever to doubt what she is writing now.
• That said, the A-Rod story is tedious and played out. We knew he was a lying, cheating clown months ago. What has changed? That he may have cheated as a Yankee will come only as a shock to the blindly loyal.
The Yankees have no choice but to live with this and hope a juice-free Rodriguez can be a productive player. The chemistry of the team has been terrific this season and the team leaders need to make sure that Rodriguez doesn’t disrupt that.
Thanks again, Hank. Only nine years left of this. Maybe Alex will buy some of those discounted premium seats and give them to Yuri Sucart, Angel Presinal and muscular strippers. Good grief.
I will not be at the game tonight. But Kevin Devaney will be in the house and blogging away. Check back later.
Today in The Journal News • 04.30.09
Joba Chamberlain showed last night why he should be a starter as the Yankees beat the Tigers.
Alex Rodriguez will play in a rehab game today. This notebook also has updates on a medical scare for Ian Kennedy, Chien-Ming Wang, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.
One pitch explains it all • 04.30.09
The Yankees were down 1-0 in the third inning tonight. Joba Chamberlain had the bases loaded and a 2-2 count against Miguel Cabrera, one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball.
Make a mistake and it’s 5-0.
Jorge Posada — you know, the guy who doesn’t call a good game — signaled a curveball. It was exactly what Chamberlain was thinking. After showing Cabrera his slider and getting a check swing on the previous pitch, it was the perfect choice.
“I showed it to him for a strike early,” Chamberlain said. “They see a different tilt. Jorge had the whereabouts to call it and it was great. We were right on the same page. He put it down and we went to work.”
Chamberlain threw probably the best curve of his career, Cabrera swung through it and the inning was over. The Yankees then scored seven runs in the top of the fourth inning.
“You have to give Chamberlain credit, he threw a nasty hook,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
If Chamberlain is made into a set-up man, he’ll throw that curveball once a week and in time he’ll just give it up. It’s his third-best pitch and a set-man only needs two pitches. The reason a pitcher becomes a reliever is because he only has one or two pitches.
But Joba’s curveball is a plus pitch and his change-up is getting there. You just don’t take a pitcher with that kind of ability and waste him in the bullpen.
Joba has allowed two earned runs in his last 12.1 innings. He is 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA as a starter, striking out 91 over 88.1 innings.
The Yankees will pay CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett $39.5 million this season to be front-of-the-rotation starters. Joba is going to cost them $432,575 and he could well be even better than they are. That is how good he is.
The curveball should tell you everything you need to know.
Pitching: RHP Joba Chamberlain (0-0, 3.94).
Pitching: RHP Rick Porcello (1-2, 3.75).
Porcello has never faced any of the New York hitters.
END OF THE ROAD: The Yankees are 1-4 on a road trip that ends today. They start an eight-game homestand tomorrow. The next day off is not until May 11.
JERSEY BOY: Porcello is a 20-year-old from Morristown, N.J. He was a first-round pick in the 2007 draft and earned a spot in the rotation out of spring training. A top-rated talent at Seton Hall Prep, Porcello fell to No. 27 in the draft because of signability concerns. He signed a $7.29 million deal negotiated by Scott Boras and passed on North Carolina.
Porcello allowed one run and struck out three in seven innings with no walks to beat the Mariners on April 19. He retired the final 14 batters he faced.
GO GO CANO: Robinson Cano has a 15-game hit streak, tied with Baltimore’s Nick Markakis for the longest in the majors at the moment. His 32 hits are twice as many as he had last April. Canio’s career-long streakis 18 games.
MORE ON CANO: According to SABR’s Trent McCotter (via the Yankees), Cano is one of only three Yankees over the last 50 years to record a hit in 30 of31 games with an official at-bat, joining Don Mattingly (31-of-32, 7/19-8/21/85) and Derek Jeter (39-of-40 twice, 4/8-5/25/07 and 8/20/06-4/6/07).
CENTURY MARK: Joe Girardi has 99 wins as the manager of the Yankees.
THE MELKMAN DELIVERS: Melky Cabrera is 8 of his last 23 with five runs scored and four RBI.
OFF THE MARK: Mark Teixeira is 1 of his last 13. His batting average has fallen from .240 to .206. He has not driven in a run in the last four games.
SWISH SAFELY: Nick Swisher has reached base safely in 19 of the 20 games this season.
THE CAPTAIN: Derek Jeter had an eight-game hit streak (12 of 37). He also has four home runs and four stolen bases. He had 11 homers and 11 steals all of last season.
MINOR MATTERS: Zach McAllister starting for Trenton tonight and Brett Marshall for Charleston. … George Kontos fanned eight last night for the Thunder who are 9-7. … Austin Jackson (.357/.422/.464) has been the man for Scranton along with Shelley Duncan (.371/.436/.671).
Back with more later on.
UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.: Ian Kennedy was examined by a specialist in NYC today because of his numb middle finger.
He has a vasospasm that can be treated with medication. He will be evaluated again Monday and will not throw until after that follow-up.
Based on a Google search, it doesn’t seem serious.
UPDATE, 5:21 p.m.: A-Rod will play in a minor-league intrasquad game tomorrow.
There is what they call a “camp day” at extended spring training. It amounts to an intrasquad game. Alex will get atleadt four or five at-bats and because it’s a controlled environment, he can decide whether he wants to run.
He’ll DH at first and then start playing third. Joe Girardi all but said today that he would be back before May 15.
Put it this way, he’s starting games on April 30. He’s not going to need 15 day to get ready.
UPDATE, 5:55 p.m.: This from the AP on A-Rod:
Dr. Marc Philippon, A-Rod’s surgeon, watched the three-time AL MVP’s on-field workout Wednesday at the Yankees minor league complex and said Rodriguez could return to the majors ahead of his May 15 target date.
“He’s looking good. Looking awesome,” Philippon said.
Rodriguez hit in a simulated game for the second consecutive day, facing minor leaguer pitchers Christian Garcia and Kai Liu, a left-hander from China the Yankees signed two years ago.
Rodriguez slid five times on a sliding mat for the second time, ran the bases and took 112 swings in regular batting practice.
Philippon said after watching Wednesday’s session that “it’s crystal clear” that Rodriguez will be strong when he returns to the Yankees.
UPDATE, 7:16 p.m.: We’re underway in overcast Detroit. Joba will try and follow up the performance of Phil Hughes. Should be interesting.
UPDATE, 7:35 p.m.: How in the world is that a hit? It was a ground ball to shortstop that hit Jeter’s glove.
UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Joba looks pretty pedestrian. He he hit 95 once, 94 twice and is mostly 91, 92. He also lacks command of his fastball, hence the three walks. Tigers 1-0 after three.
UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Nick Swisher knows what to do with a high changeup. You crush it someplace. That’s six homers and 18 RBI for Swish.
And they got him for Wilson Betemit.
3-1 Yankees. Now we’ll see if Joba can make it stand up.
UPDATE, 8:21 p.m.: That’s it for Porcello. So much for the big matchup of phenoms. Four runs (at least) on six hits and three walks in 3.2 innings. Tough night for the kid against his hometown team.
UPDATE, 8:24 p.m.: I’m not so sure they want to walk Tex to face Matsui the way Godzilla is swinging the bat lately.
UPDATE, 8:26 p.m.: Like I said. 7-1 Yankees.
UPDATE, 8:35 p.m.: Strong inning for Joba as he fans two and was hitting 95 and 96.
UPDATE, 8:40 p.m.: Swish again. That’s three jacks in four at-bats.
He’s the 10th player in franchise history to homer from each side of the plate in the same game. Melky did it earlier this season.
UPDATE, 9:39 p.m.: This is weird. An alarm went off and a recorded voice told people to head for the exits. The game has been delayed.
UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: The game was delayed for a few minutes. False alarm as it turns out. Now the fans are coming back.
Meanwhile, here is Joba’s line: 7 3 1 1 3 6. He is 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA as a starter. By all means, let’s return him to the bullpen.
UPDATE, 10:00 p.m.: Albaladejo has allowed a few runs here in the ninth. But the Yankees should be able to hang on and head home with a win. Check back for more later.
UPDATE, 10:05 p.m.: Um … So Albie gives up two runs and leaves two on. Mo comes in and gives up a three-run homer Now it’s 8-6.
UPDATE, 10:06 p.m.: Finally over. Ugly at the end
Too many good starters? Oh, no! • 04.29.09
You knew this would happen. You just knew it.
The Yankees lost four in a row and the fans wanted everybody fired. Then Phil Hughes pitched six shutout innings and now everybody wants to know what will happen when Chien-Ming Wang comes back.
Oh, heavens, they’ll have too many good pitchers. What a dilemma.
Here’s a wild thought: Sit back and watch the game tonight and stop worrying about it.
Hughes pitched one game. Let’s wait a few starts before deciding that his being good is such a problem. Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang will throw 40 pitches to 17-year-old kids on Saturday. He’s not exactly racing up the interstate to the Bronx.
But for the sake of internet traffic (and my e-mail in-box), let’s say that Wang comes back in early June and Hughes is 4-1, 2.85. What then?
You shake Phil’s hand, thank him for a job well done and send him back to Scranton until he is needed again.
Get this much straight: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte are pitching every five days if they are healthy. That’s a given. There is not going to be a six-man rotation. Those guys are conditioned to pitch every five days and they’re getting a pile of money to do so.
Joba Chamberlain also needs to pitch. One good start by Hughes in April should not start the “We need Joba in the bullpen” nonsense. Who knew that Tyler Kepner was such a rabble-rouser?
Here is what some people can’t seem to understand: Joba threw 100 innings last season. He needs to throw 150-plus this season so that in 2010 he can throw 180-plus. Then he can throw 200-plus in 2011 and so on. This is a young man with a great arm, four pitches and the makeup to be an ace. The Yankees would be foolish not to give him every chance to be a starter.
If you send him back to the bullpen, you’re starting the process all over again and increasing the risk of injury by suddenly changing his role. Joba has a 2.43 ERA in 15 starts over the last two seasons. That is really, really, very, very good.
This season is going to take twists and turns none of us can see coming. The odds of Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte each making 33 starts are slim. I wrote this in spring training and more than I ever I believe it to be true: Hughes will throw 100 innings in the majors and be a very important piece of this team.
Oh — by the way — he’s not ready to go 180 innings, either. Given his history, what in the world suggests to you that he’s going to pitch every five days from now until October?
Let this play out. Hughes can fill in for Wang right now. Mark Melancon is here and looking great. The other relievers aren’t as bad as they have been so far. It’ll work out.
If the biggest problem the Yankees have this season is what to do with all of their great starting pitchers, the second biggest problem will be what day to have the parade.