Archive for May, 2009
In the merry, merry month of May • 05.31.09
He had nine doubles, 13 homers, 34 RBI and 25 runs scored in 28 games. His batting average, once at .182, has climbed to .281. Tex also has hit in 13 straight games (at 22 of 55). The streak is the longest of his career.
So, Mark, are you excited? Not so much.
“The law of averages caught up to me,” he said. “It was a good month but it looks better because I had such a bad April. Hopefully I keep this up. I really feel great.”
Kids do the darndest things • 05.31.09
The Yankees, to their credit, have finally embraced the idea of giving young players a chance. But that occasionally comes at a price.
Let us count the ways today:
Brett Gardner: He butchered a line drive to center by Asdrubal Cabrera in the fifth inning, costing the Yankees a run. Gardner thought it was off the end of the bat and it wasn’t. “If I step back instead of ahead, I catch that easily,” he said. Then Gardner failed to steal second as ordered in the ninth inning. He saw the sign, he just didn’t run. Gardner explained he was worried about being picked off.
“I cost us the game,” he said.
Not so fast …
Phil Coke: He walked No. 9 hitter Trevor Crowe to start the bottom of the ninth inning. Crowe is a .170 hitter. That’s inexcusable. Then Coke complained about the call after the game. This just in, you’re Phil Coke. You think the umpire is giving you borderline strikes?
Dave Robertson: He came in with a runner on second and walked Ben Francisco. Then he fell behind 3-1 to Jhonny Peralta and had to come in with a strike. Bang, game over. “I need to throw strikes,” Robertson said. “I don’t know what I was thinking.”
Phil Hughes: He deserves little blame. But four runs in five innings against a lineup missing Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez is not a good job. Even if you toss out that last run because of Gardner’s poor play, three run in five innings is not remotely pitching well.
The good news? Chien-Ming Wang said he hasn’t felt this good since before he got hurt. He said he could throw 80 pitches in a start if given a chance and then get to 100 the time after that. Girardi said they’ll evaluate the situation and that the team still considers Wang a starter.
Pitching: RHP Phil Hughes (3-2, 5.16).
Pitching: RHP Carl Pavano (4-4, 6.10).
TIME/TV: 12:40 p.m., YES/TBS.
GREAT STRETCH: The Yankees have won three straight, four of five and 14 of 17.
ALL ASPECTS: The Yankees have outscored their opposition 106-60 in the last 17 games..
PERFECT: The Yankees have gone 16 straight games without making an error. They can tie the Major League record today. The Red Sox had 17 straight without an error from June 11-30, 2006.
HIT STREAKS: Jeter is at 13 games (23 of 59, .390) and Teixeira is at 12 games (20 of 51, .392). Teixeira has never had a streak of more than 12 games.
PHIL FRANCHISE: Hughes has faced the Indians once in the regular season. He allowed one run over six innings at Progressive Field on Aug 1, 2007. Hughes has allowed three earned runs in his last 13 innings. The Yankees are 4-2 in the six games he has started since being called up on April 28.
HELLO, IDLE: Pavano, believe it or not, has pitched well for the Tribe. He is 5-4 with a 5.50 ERA in 10 starts. After a rocky start, he is 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in his last six starts. Pavano faced the Yankees on April 19 in the Bronx. He allowed only one run over six innings in a game the Yankees went on to win 7-3.
REALLY? Jose Veras has allowed the first batter he has faced to reach safely 11 of 22 times.
MAKE A MOVE: Shelley Duncan is at .304/.373/.690 for AAA Scranton with 18 homers and 47 RBI in 39 games. Wouldn’t he be more helpful to the Yankees than Angel Berroa, who has four at-bats since April 29?
Much more to come.
UPDATE, 11:39 p.m.: Just a day off for Posada today after the night game. … Cleveland put Grady Sizemore (elbow) on the DL today. They also don’t have Victor Martinez today and maybe tomorrow. He fouled a ball off his knee yesterday.
Andy Pettitte remains the starter for Wednesday assuming his back continues to improve. If CMW doesn’t pitch today, he’ll throw a lengthy bullpen after the game. … Melky could be back tomorrow. He’s swinging right-handed without any issues.
Here’s Joe Girardi’s pre-game press briefing:
UPDATE, 12:43 p.m.: We’re underway in Cleveland on a chilly 56-degree day. Classic matchup of good (Hughes) vs. evil (Pavano) today as the Yankees look to stay hot.
UPDATE, 1:17 p.m.: Hughes dealing in the early going. He has fanned four of the seven hitters he has faced.
UPDATE, 1:33 p.m.: Trouble here in the third inning as Hughes allows two runs.
UPDATE, 1:37 p.m: Hughes has hit five batters in 32 innings. Bases loaded again. He’s up to 53 pitches already. Could we see CMW today?
UPDATE, 1:39 p.m.: That’s a foolish throw by Swisher. All it did was allow the runners on first and second to move up. Now a single makes it 5-0.
UPDATE, 1:59 p.m.: The good Hughes returns in the 4th inning. But the Yankees trail 3-0. They need to show some life against the Idle. They wasted that leadoff double by Jeter and it has been all downhill since.
UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: OK, this is officially a disgrace. Pavano is throwing a three-hit shutout through five innings.
UPDATE, 2:06 p.m.: That was not gritty or gutty as Gardner came in then went back too late to catch a liner off the bat of Cabrera. Bad play. As Hughes gets set to clear 80 pitches, you have to wonder whether we’ll see Wang soon.
UPDATE, 2:24 p.m.: Wang warming up. … Meanwhile, Sweeny Murti just called that home run by Tex. Yankees trail 4-2. Jeter was safe on that grounder and had it been called right the score might be 4-3.
UPDATE, 2:26 p.m.: Wang in to pitch. Guess Pettitte is OK.
UPDATE, 2:32 p.m.: Wang 93, 94 with his sinker. Strikes out two on six pitches.
UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: Francisco Cervelli has a gun. It’s fun to watch him catch. OK, 4-2. They need to get something done against the Idle.
UPDATE, 2:43 p.m.: No break there as Gardner hits rocket into the glove of Garko. Had the ball got into the right-field corner Matsui might have got to second.
UPDATE, 3:05 p.m.: What a travesty. In 13.1 innings against the Idle this season, the Yankees have 11 hits and have scored three runs (at least so far).
UPDATE, 3:18 p.m.: Here’s their chance. Runners on second and third, one out, for Tex and A-Rod.
UPDATE, 3:19 p.m.: Tough break, Idle. Nice game for Tex, 2 for 4 with a double, a homer and four RBI. He’s got to be the AL Player of the Month, no?
UPDATE, 3:27 p.m.: Big spot for Wang here as the game is tied 4-4. He needs another scoreless inning to give them a chance to take the lead and give it to Mo.
UPDATE, 3:41 p.m.: So you bunt to get to Brett Gardner? Um, OK. Meanwhile, it’s good that Angel Berroa is on the roster and not somebody who can actually pinch hit.
UPDATE, 3:43 p.m.: Yanks catch a break as the speedy Gardner legs out a hit. Now Posada gets a chance.
UPDATE, 3:48 p.m.: This is a second-guess, but why not send Gardner to stay out of the GIDP? Anyway, Phil Coke is in. I’ll be surprised if we get to extra innings.
UPDATE, 3:50 p.m.: Walking the No. 9 hitter in Cleveland’s lineup today is not exactly what you’re looking for out of Phil Coke. Matter of time here.
UPDATE, 3:53 p.m.: Why not let Wang keep going? He had thrown three shutout innings?
UPDATE, 3:55 p.m.: David Robertson in with a runner on second. Meanwhile, those who loved to rip Torre used to crush him for not using Rivera in a tie game on the road. But Girardi doesn’t do it either. I personally think you should save the closer until there’s a lead.
UPDATE, 4:03 p.m.: Tough way to lose. But Coke was not the answer there and they missed too many offensive opportunities. But they did tie the record for most consecutive games without an error.
Back later with reaction from the clubhouse.
Torre: I’m rooting for the Yanks, Girardi • 05.31.09
Before the Dodgers played the Cubs on Saturday, Joe Torre sat in the dugout at Wrigley Field and talked about how much he enjoys watching the Yankees.
“It’s not pain. I look at it and I care about people and I stay in touch with people over there,” Torre said. “When you’re in California, you get to the ballpark and you turn on the game. It’s 4 o’clock out there, so it’s 7 o’clock somewhere where they’re playing. So I see a lot of their games. And yeah, I watch them with interest because I’ve been with a lot of those guys for a good period of time.
“I have to pull for them. People think because you leave the Yankees and supposedly you’re unhappy with each other that you’re supposed to pull against them. But I can’t pull against the individuals over there, least of all Girardi who played for me, coached for me. I recommended him when he had his first managing job.
“This kid is going to be one of the top managers. This I know is a dream job for him and I’m glad things are getting better for him.”
Nice words from Torre. The way the Yankees and Dodgers are playing, it’s not hard to imagine them meeting down the road. That really would be something.
Today in The Journal News • 05.31.09
CC Sabathia won two games last night. First he beat Brian Bruney and then he beat the Indians.
Alfredo Aceves reminds some Yankees of an old teammate. This notebook also has updates on Carl Pavano (yes, him), Jose Molina, Melky Cabrera and Andy Pettitte.
The Sunday Baseball Beat has Mark Teixeira’s take on the flawed baseball draft.
In case you were sleeping at the time, Texas beat Boston College 3-2 in 25 innings last night in an NCAA tournament game.
Texas coach Augie Garrido should be arrested and/or fired. He let relief pitcher Austin Wood throw 169 pitches over 13 innings. Wood is 22 and is expected to be a fairly high draft pick — unless his arm falls off. Oh, and he’s their closer.
Meanwhile, he had thrown 30 pitches on Friday night.
Good luck to the Eagles, who play Army this afternoon in an elimination game for the right to play Texas again. BC catcher Tony Sanchez is the nephew of blog reader and astute commenter SJ44.
The Yankees getting a A+ in chemistry • 05.31.09
I am of the belief that team chemistry as it relates to baseball is vastly overrated. Some of the best teams in history — including the 1977 and ’78 Yankees — were full of guys who generally couldn’t stand each other.
Baseball is a game of individual performance. Being friendly with your teammates doesn’t mean anything when you’re standing at the plate and Jonathan Papelbon is throwing 97 mph on the outside corner.
That said, these Yankees are a good bunch of guys who really do seem to get along.
As Yogi may have said, you can see a lot when you’re watching. Take the Tiger Woods figurine I spotted Brett Gardner painting green before the game on Saturday. It’s not every day you see that, so I had to ask.
Turns out Gardner and Brian Bruney have been playing each other in a golf video game all season. The winner of the latest match gets to keep the Tiger figurine in his locker. When Bruney won the other day in Texas, he painted Tiger’s shirt red.
So when Gardner won, he painted the whole thing green. “I’m looking for some White-Out to paint a No. 11 on his back,” he said. “Can’t wait for Bruney to see that.”
Then you have Mark Teixeira. You may recall the game on May 17, 2006 when the Yankees beat the Rangers 14-13 on Jorge Posada’s walk-off homer in the ninth. Earlier in that game, Teixeira ran him over at the plate but Posada held on to the ball to get the out.
Newsday had a terrific photo of the violent collision on its back page. Teixeira’s sister, who lived in New York at the time, saw it had it framed for him.
“I never really wanted to hang it up,” he said. “I mean, I was out and we lost the game.”
So Teixeira gave it to Posada. “To Jorge,” he wrote. “Thanks for the forgiveness. Now we’re best friends! Mark Teixeira.”
Posada thought it was funny. Oh, and he does plan to hang it up.
Nick Swisher purchased a toy laser gun in Detroit at a gas station — “A gas station in Detroit? What a surprise it was him,” Derek Jeter said — and has spent the last few weeks playing with it. That is when Joba Chamberlain and A.J. Burnett aren’t playing with it.
CC Sabathia personally organized two suite rentals at the Magic-Cavs game the other night and invited the entire team. Nearly all of the guys who were in Cleveland attended.
The Yankees have a wide variety of people on their roster. You have players from the United States, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Panama, Mexico, Japan and Taiwan. You have older guys, younger guys. Different religions, different races, different backgrounds.
The common denominator is baseball. That doesn’t guarantee a good mix. But with this team, this year, it has.
Sabathia keeps it loose before the game • 05.30.09
One of baseball’s many unwritten rules is that you’re not supposed to talk to the starting pitcher before the game. The reasoning, I suppose, is that the starter has such a monumental task ahead of him that he needs his full powers of concentration.
Then you have CC Sabathia.
At 5 p.m. today, he was on a couch in the clubhouse playing old-school Nintendo RBI Baseball against Brian Bruney. It was a rematch of the 1986 World Series with CC as the Red Sox and Bruney as the Mets.
Sabathia crushed Bruney, using video Roger Clemens to hum fastballs by Wally Backman, Darryl Strawberry and Keith Hernandez. Meanwhile Brett Gardner, Robbie Cano and other players were offering commentary on the game.
Then Sabathia went out and threw seven solid innings against the Indians. That’s no coincidence, said Joe Girardi.
“I think that’s a good personality to have. That means he’s relaxed and he’s not over-thinking when he goes out there. He’s not putting a lot of pressure on himself,” Girardi said. “He’s the same guy every day and I think that’s why guys love him so much. He’s such a great teammate.”
Here’s CC’s postgame interview:
Here’s Jorge Posada, too:
If you listen closely in the background, you can hear Derek Jeter being an agitator. As Posada talks to reporters, Jeter is ready to leave and he yells out at one point, “Hey, Larry King, let’s go!”
Them Yankees are in a good mood. Girardi said the team is playing the best they’ve played since he became manager. Posada said it’s the best since 2006. It’s hard to disagree when you look at pitching, offense and defense.
Game 49: Yankees at Indians • 05.30.09
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner CF
Pitching: LHP CC Sabathia (4-3, 3.42).
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Grady Sizemore DH
Victor Martinez C
Jhonny Peralta 3B
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Mark DeRosa LF
Ryan Garko 1B
Ben Francisco CF
Jamey Carroll 2B
Pitching: RHP Fausto Carmona (2-4, 6.42).
TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m. YES.
ON A ROLL: The Yankees have won two straight, three of four and 13 of 16.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Yankees are 14-11 on the road, the best mark in the American League.
STREAKS: Derek Jeter has hit safely in 12 straight and Mark Teixeira in 11 straight.
KEEP IT CLEAN: The Yankees have not made an error in 15 consecutive games. That ties several teams for the second-longest streak in Major League history. The record is 17 games by the Red Sox from June 11-30, 2006. This from the Elias Sports Bureau.
LEADING MAN: This from the Yankees notes: Jeter has led off the Yankees’ half of the first with a hit in each of the team’s last five games. He has hit safely while leading off the first inning in seven of his last eight games with five singles and two doubles. Jeter has reached base safely (via hit, walk or HBP) in nine of his last 13 such plate appearances, going 8 for 12 (.750) with one walk.
NO COINCIDENCE: The Yankees are 15-5 with Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.
ONE STREAK ENDS: When Robinson Cano struck out in the first inning last night it ended a streak of 54 consecutive plate appearances without a K.
IT’S ALL ABOUT PITCHING: How the Yankees have pitched in the last 16 games: 148 innings, 132 hits, 54 earned runs, 64 walks, 115 strikeouts. That’s a 3.28 ERA.
CC GETS IT DONE: The big lefty is 3-0, 1.74 in his last four starts. He lost to Cleveland on April 16, giving up only one run over 5.2 innings but throwing 122 pitches. This will be his first game at Progressive Field as an opponent.
JETER ALWAYS SCORES: And he’s a very good baseball player. The Captain needs three runs to become one of four active players with 1,500. The others are Ken Griffey Jr. (1,626), Alex Rodriguez (1,616) and Gary Sheffield (1,497).
The only Yankees with 1,500 runs scored are guys named Ruth (1,959), Gehrig (1,888) and Mantle (1,677).
CLEVELAND ROCKS, JUST NOT AGAINST THE YANKEES: The Yankees have won 12 of their last 18 games against the Tribe.
MINOR MATTERS: Kei Igawa (5-1, 3.39) won again last night. He still would have to buy a ticket to get into Yankee Stadium. Good thing he didn’t cost $46 million. … Austin Jackson was 0 for 4 last night but is still rocking to a .348/.426/.439 tune. He has yet to hit a home run but has stolen nine bases in as many attempts. … Wilikin De La Rosa won for Trenton last night and dropped his ERA to 3.95. He has struck out 26 in 27.1 innings. … Pat Venditte did it again last night for Charleston, picking up his 14th save. His line this season: 21 innings, 16 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 walk, 32 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting .208 against him. It’ll be very interesting to see whether his stuff translates to a higher level. He turns 24 in a month, so if they’re going to challenge him it could be soon.
Back with much more later on.
UPDATE, 5:39 p.m.: A few medical updates:
• Andy Pettitte felt much better and in fact rode a bike and played catch. He said he’ll be ready for his next start.
• Melky Cabrera is taking swings and on track for Monday.
• Jose Molina caught three innings in Florida. They’re off tomorrow. He’ll probably play in Florida on Monday and Tuesday then he close to activation.
• Xavier Nady played in Florida as well.
UPDATE, 7:19 p.m: There has barely been a reaction to CC Sabathia here at Progressive Field. If anything, it has been cheers from the many Yankee fans in the stands.
Beautiful night at the ballpark and there’s a nice crowd on hand. The Yankees are a full game ahead in first as Boston lost to Toronto.
I have some newspaper work to do, but I’ll check in from time to time. Betcha CC throws a gem.
UPDATE, 7:26 p.m.: Martinez just fouled a ball off his knee and hasn’t gotten up. How can he keep catching?
UPDATE, 7:28 p.m.: After a lengthy delay, Martinez is staying in the game.
UPDATE, 7:32 p.m.: That was bizarre. They let Martinez stay in the game he grounded to second. He barely hobbled 20 feet. Now he’s out and Kelly Shoppach is catching.
UPDATE, 7:34 p.m.: Posada goes deep to right field and the Yankees lead 1-0. When I covered the Mets the topic of conversation was often about Mike Piazza’s catching abilities or lack thereof. I remember one Mets coaching telling me, “You know how he helps the catcher? By hitting a lot of bleeping home runs. That’s how.”
The same is true of Posada. He’s a great catcher because he’s twice the hitter of any other catcher.
Now Swisher crushes one to center. 2-0 Yankees.
UPDATE, 7:41 p.m.: I have a hunch that those two runs are all Mr. Sabathia will need tonight.
UPDATE, 8:18 p.m.: Yankees pouring it on here against the once-resolute Fausto Carmona. Three runs in and two outs and two on. Yankees lead 5-0. Big edge for CC.
UPDATE, 8:21 p.m.: That heads-up play by Jeter helped the Yankees score a few more as they go up 7-0 on Cano’s two-run single.
Meanwhile, A-Rod still isn’t running very well. He was sort of coasting from first to third and got thrown out easily. You can tell in the field and on the base paths that his hip is still bothering him to some degree, which is what you would expect give that he had surgery.
UPDATE, 8:34 p.m.: Carsten Charles is cruising along. 4 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts. 48 pitches, 33 strikes. The Indians haven’t had anything that even has come close to a hit.
UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.: A flock of seagulls (actual birds, not the cheesy band) has settled into right field.
UPDATE, 8:46 p.m.: Sabathia deflected that ball or it might have been an out. So much for the no hitter. The Yankees will have to settle for winning for the 14th time in 17 games.
UDATE, 9:13 p.m.: The Goodyear blimp is overhead for some reason. Its sort of like that scene in Scarface.
UPDATE, 9:16 p.m.: Ohio native Jason Zillo, the Yankees media relations director, is keeping a close eye on the Cavs-Magic game. Game 7 would be here on Monday. But there are no plans to switch the Yankees-Indians to a day game as the game is on ESPN.
If the LeBrons are playing to go to the Finals, there might be 5,000 fans here. But they need to win tonight first.
UPDATE, 9:34 p.m.: CC is over 100 pitches here in the seventh and appears to be laboring. But no action in the Yankee pen. Looks like he’ll go seven and then turn it over.
UPDATE, 10:07 p.m.: Yankees pouring on the offense against Tomo Ohka. They’ve been pretty relentless lately. It’s 10-3 and the roll continues.
UPDATE, 10:12 p.m.: Boy, Veras is brutal. He has allowed the first batter to reach 11 times in 22 appearances.
UPDATE, 10:18 p.m.: The Yankees are playing great baseball. But this team would be even better without Veras and Berroa, who have no use at this point. They need a better arm than Veras (which would be anybody) and a position player who can pinch hit. Somebody like Shelley Duncan or John Rodriguez.
Hey, Mr. Ryan, please sign • 05.30.09
Fans would be surprised at how many baseball players aren’t really fans of the game or the history of the game. Because they were so good at playing the game when they were younger, they didn’t watch a lot of it on television.
But some players, like Phil Hughes, are avid collectors. So when the Yankees were in Texas, Phil sought the autograph of Nolan Ryan, who is now the president of the Rangers.
Phil purchased an old-school Ryan jersey from the team and had it delivered to Ryan to sign. “To Phil: Good luck with your baseball career. Nolan Ryan,” was written in blue pen when he got it back.
Hughes plans to get it framed.
Today in The Journal News • 05.30.09
The Yankees are back in first place after beating the Indians last night. But Andy Pettitte had to leave the game with a sore back.
CC Sabathia thinks LeBron James would be a good fit in New York. This notebook also has updates on Jorge Posada, Xavier Nady, Jose Molina and Melky Cabrera.
Francisco Cervelli has impressed the Yankees while filling in for Jorge Posada.