The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for September, 2010

Pregame notes: Chasing the division09.29.10

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballAfter last night’s game, Joe Girardi made a point of saying Thursday’s off day would give him a chance to rest some guys two days in a row. Some would have tonight and tomorrow. Some would have Thursday and Friday. I’ll speak for myself and say I was expecting at least three everyday players to be out of the lineup tonight.

Instead, there was one. Curtis Granderson is getting the night off. Jorge Posada, Brett Gardner and Lance Berkman are out as well, but those three gets days off pretty regularly anyway.

“You see our lineup,” Girardi said. “We’re playing to win this division. We’ll be smart about it, but we’re still playing to win this division.”

Girardi said he asked around the clubhouse, and based on last night’s answers from players — nothing but a series of “I want to play” responses — I’m sure he heard nothing but positive reports. Girardi specifically said he talked to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, two guys who recently had lower body injuries and might benefit from a day off of this turf.

“These guys know their bodies better than I do for sure, and I’ll listen to them,” Girardi said. “I talked to them and they feel good. When you’re trying to win the division, you want those guys in the lineup.”

Clearly tonight’s lineup doesn’t rule out the idea of a few guys getting some rest over the weekend, but the Yankees have built-in off days on Thursday, Monday and Tuesday. It’s quite possible that I’m one of several who underestimated how badly the Yankees want home-field advantage and overestimated how much rest their position players might need.

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball• The Yankees rotation this weekend: Andy Pettitte on Friday, A.J. Burnett on Saturday and TBA on Sunday. “Obviously depending on what happens over the weekend, that’s part of (choosing Sunday’s starter),” Girardi said. “I think you might (also) look at do your bullpen guys need to throw that are going to be on the playoff roster.”

• Girardi didn’t rule out the idea of Phil Hughes starting Sunday, but that seems unlikely. Girardi said Hughes will pitch one of the games in Boston, but it sounds like that will be in relief. Hughes said he’s been going through his usual routine as if he’s going to make his next scheduled start. He had a bullpen session today.

• CC Sabathia will not pitch in relief in Boston.

• Girardi said Sabathia pitching Game 1 is the only piece of his postseason rotation that’s set. Whether he uses three or four starters. Whether Pettitte pitches Game 2 or 3. All of that’s up in the air. “We don’t know who our opponent is,” Girardi said. “We don’t know where we’re going to be. There are a lot of factors that come into making the rotation.”

• Girardi said he’s not opposed to having back-to-back lefties in his postseason rotation. He said the fact Pettitte is starting Friday does not indicate he’s going to start Game 2.

• It’s not coincidence that Greg Golson is getting a start tonight. Girardi said Golson is “someone you possibly look at down the road.”

• Don’t forget, tonight’s game start a half hour later than scheduled. First pitch is at 7:33 p.m. But that’s Canadian time, so I have no idea what that means in New York.

UPDATE, 6:19 p.m.: Blue Jays lineup for Cito Gaston’s final game.
Travis Snider LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
Adam Lind DH
John Buck C
John McDonald 3B

Associated Press photos of Rodriguez and Teixeira — possibly taken just moments after convincing Girardi to let them play tonight — and Girardi clearly considering some sort of global takeover.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 58 Comments →

Not much rest in Toronto finale09.29.10

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Austin Kearns LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Greg Golson CF

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 194 Comments →

Chat tomorrow09.29.10

Sam and I are planning some sort of chat tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be flying in from Toronto in the morning, but assuming everything works out, we’ll be chatting at 1 p.m. on Thursday. I’m sure we’ll talk all about the playoffs and the upcoming Boston series.

Because of my travel and because Sam lives pretty far from the office, I’m pretty sure we won’t be video chatting. Just a basic you-type-questions, we’ll-type-answers situation.

See you then.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 436 Comments →

Girardi: “I’ve got to pick my spots”09.29.10

Yankees Blue Jays BaseballJoe Girardi has some decisions to make before the end of the week.

He said last night that he and his staff quite literally had not decided on a rotation beyond this Toronto series. He’s been focused on getting the Yankees to the playoffs, not what to do once they got there.

“I hadn’t talked much about this,” he said.

So far we know Javier Vazquez will start tonight in place of Andy Pettitte. We can also guess that at least one or two positions players will be out of the lineup.

“We still have aspirations of winning our division and trying to get home-field advantage,” Girardi said. “I’ve got to pick my spots to rest guys. I think about Derek Jeter and Robbie Cano, they’ve played the last 12 days in a row. Alex has played the last nine in a row I believe.”

Cano has had one full game off since the beginning of July, Rodriguez was on the disabled list at the beginning of this month, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner had cortisone shots two weeks ago and Mark Teixeira is playing with a broken toe and a bruised hand.

“I think we keep pushing,” Rodriguez said. “Every game is important and you also want to keep playing good baseball. Build on what we did today.”

Thing is, of course the players said things like that. Swisher said more or less the same thing. So did Jeter. So did Teixeira. They all want to play. Girardi decides whether or not they will.

“That’s up to Skip and them guys,” Swisher said. “That’s why those guys are a lot smarter than us. Right now we feel confident about where we are and we just play it out from here.”

Associated Press photo of Jeter

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 630 Comments →

Scenes from last night09.29.10

The Yankees enjoyed last night. They enjoyed CC Sabathia’s insanely good start. They enjoyed something like 15 or 16 sacrifice flies. They enjoyed what player after player called the first step toward a bigger goal.

“This is just the first step,” Mark Teixeira said. “We have to get into the playoffs to win the World Series.”

Some things are almost certainly going to change in the next five days. Joe Girardi is going to rest some of his everyday guys and he’s going to lineup his rotation for the division series, but the Yankees are going to the playoffs. And they enjoyed getting there.

Blue Jays Yankees Baseball

APTOPIX Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

APTOPIX Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 466 Comments →

Postgame notes: Two words09.29.10

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

All around him there was champagne flying and Labatt Blue pouring, and in the middle of that chaos, Nick Swisher summed up the Yankees night.

“Two words,” he said. “Cy Young.”

CC Sabathia was everything for the Yankees tonight. Joe Girardi called him tremendous. Alex Rodriguez called him a dream. Mark Teixeira called him dominant.

“That’s what we needed,” Derek Jeter said. “CC’s pretty much been doing that the whole year. We needed him to step up for a big game and he came through for us. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”

The Yankees left nothing to chance tonight. They sent Sabathia to the mound, started every one of their regulars and used Mariano Rivera for the final two outs. This was the night to clinch, and the Yankees got it done without an RBI hit.

“Tonight we did some things we hadn’t been doing the past three weeks,” Rodriguez said.

They advanced runners and scored every one that got to third base with fewer than two outs. The lineup wasn’t overwhelming. It was simply efficient. Sabathia handled the overwhelming part: 8.1 innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts. It was his 21st win.

Afterward, Girardi said the Yankees haven’t finalized many plans for the postseason. He announced only one playoff decision: Sabathia will pitch Game 1.

“That,” he said, “you can bank on.”

Here’s Sabathia speaking in a predictably rowdy clubhouse.

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APTOPIX Yankees Blue Jays Baseball• Andy Pettitte will not start tomorrow. Javier Vazquez will. Pettitte said he only knows he’ll be pitching in Boston. He doesn’t know which game.

• It’s pretty obvious Sabathia will not start Sunday in Boston. “If you’re pitching on Wednesday, you can’t really start this weekend,” Girardi said. Whether Sabathia will pitch an inning or two out of the bullpen remains unknown. Same for Phil Hughes.

• Girardi made it clear he will rest some players these final four games. “I have to make sure our guys are strong,” he said. “I still want our division and I still want home field advantage, but I can see there are some tired bodies out there.”

• The players, of course, want to play. “We’ve got Thursday off don’t we,” Jeter said. Rodriguez, Swisher and Teixeira all said they were hoping to keep pushing through to the end, but I can only imagine the regret if a key player were hurt.

• Having blown a save in three of his past six outings, Mariano Rivera got the final two outs on six pitches. “We felt better about it,” Girardi said. “We’ll continue to make sure, but you usually don’t forget how to hit in a couple of months, you don’t forget how to pitch either.” I’m pretty sure Girardi meant weeks, not months.

• Sabathia said his offspeed stuff was especially good tonight, and he was happy with his ability to pitch to both sides of the plate. That’s about as in depth as Sabathia gets in a group setting. Bottom line, he was impressive when the Yankees needed him to be. “I feel like I need to keep the other team at bay every time out,” he said.

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball• The celebration wasn’t as wild as any of last year’s postseason celebrations, but the first-timers — and Swisher — seemed to especially enjoy it. “There are no freebees so I think you can’t say you’re too cool for this first step,” Rodriguez said.

• Even the guys who had been there time and time again seemed to enjoy another sure-thing trip to the postseason. “Always a relief when you get into the playoffs, I don’t care what year it is,” Jeter said. “… This is a celebration of a 162-game schedule, not just the last two weeks. I think the team deserves to celebrate.”

• Think this year’s team is as good as last year’s? “I really do,” Pettitte said. “We’ve got pretty much the same team. I feel good about our bullpen. Obviously when you’ve got CC leading our rotation you’ve got to feel good about that. How could you not? I feel good about what we’re doing, I really do. I don’t think anybody wants to face our lineup.”

• Pettitte was happy to have his start pushed back. He said it’s better for him to get extra rest now and pitch on normal rest in the division series. “That definitely works out a lot better for sure,” he said.

• Rodriguez was one of the last guys any of the writers spotted in the clubhouse. Romulo Sanchez and Andrew Brackman were drenched, but Rodriguez was almost completely dry. “Nobody messes with the old guys any more,” he said. “It’s all about the young guys.”

Associated Press photos. The top is Jeter getting doused. Next is Brett Gardner scoring and Sabathia pitching.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 466 Comments →

No sweat: Yankees clinch postseason09.28.10

The Yankees weren’t messing around tonight. Trying to final secure a playoff berth, they started every one of their regulars and sent their very best pitcher to the mound. CC Sabathia delivered. The Yankees ace went 8.1 innings and allowed only three hits in a 6-1 win against the Blue Jays. The Yankees did not have a single RBI hit, but they got seven runners to third base and scored six of them on three sac flies, two ground balls and one bases-loaded walk. They locked up at least a wild card berth into the postseason.

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

Associated Press photo of Sabathia

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 333 Comments →

Game 158: Yankees at Blue Jays09.28.10

YANKEES (93-64)
Travis Snider LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
John Buck C
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
J.P. Arencibia DH

LHP CC Sabathia (20-7, 3.26)
Sabathia vs. Blue Jays

BLUE JAYS (81-75)
Travis Snider LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
John Buck C
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
J.P. Arencibia DH

RHP Kyle Drabek (0-2, 4.91)
Drabek has never faced the Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:07 p.m. / YES Network MY9 and MLB Network (sorry, forgot to update this part)

UMPIRES: HP Mark Carlson, 1B Jeff Kellog, 2B Larry Vanover, 3B Jeff Nelson

WEATHER: Dome. Safe from the Canadian outdoors.

ONE MORE: If the Yankees win tonight, they’ll clinch a spot in the playoffs. They could also clinch if Boston loses.

THE OLD MAN: Blue Jays starter Kyle Drabek’s father is Doug Drabek, the former 22-game winner with the Pirates. Joe Girardi was 2-for-23 in his career against Doug Drabek.

MORE DRABEK: Although he’s know for his time with the Pirates, Doug Drabek actually pitched 27 games for the Yankees in his rookie year of 1986. In 1984, Drabek had been traded to the Yankees as a player to be named later in a deal for Roy Smalley. After the ’86 season, the Yankees sent Drabek, Logan Easley and Brian Fisher to Pittsburgh for LHP Pat Clemments and RHPs Cecilio Guante and Rick Rhoden.

GOOD GLOVES: The Yankees have committed six errors in the month of September. The lead the Majors with a .989 fielding percentage this season. The franchise’s highest fielding percentage for any season is .986, set in 1995 and matched in 2008. Alex Rodriguez has not made an error since July 17, a span of 44 consecutive games which is the third-longest single-season streak of his career.

GRANDY MAN: Since August 12, Curtis Granderson has three home runs against left-handed pitchers. He hit three home runs total vs. lefties from Opening Day 2009 through August 11 of this year.

UPDATE, 7:15 p.m.: Jose Bautista can throw a little bit, but Alex Rodriguez got the sac fly deep enough and the Yankees have a 1-0 lead after a half inning.

UPDATE, 7:47 p.m.: Another sac fly, another Jeter run. It’s 2-0 in the middle of the third inning.

UPDATE, 7:52 p.m.: Travis Snider got  solo homer just inside the right-field foul pole, cutting the lead to 2-1. That’s the Blue Jays 244th home run of the season, tying a franchise record.

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: The throw was there, no doubt, but I think Gardner got his foot to the plate ahead of the tag. It’s a close play, and most every other player in baseball would have been out — or not at third place to begin with — but Gardner’s speed has given the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the fifth.

UPDATE, 8:41 p.m.: Before the game, Girardi said he expects Sabathia to “do it every time” and that seems to be happening tonight. Through six innings, the Yankees ace has been absolutely dominant, working quickly and very efficiently. It’s still 3-1 in the seventh.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 690 Comments →

Pregame notes: Early work for the skipper09.28.10

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball

There wasn’t a lot of breaking news coming out of the Yankees clubhouse before tonight’s game, so I’ll lead the notes with this little tidbit.

Joe Girardi took some early batting practice today. He shagged fly balls for a small group of Yankees, and when they were done, Girardi took his turn doing Kevin Long’s net drill. Long has his guys hit with a screen in front of them. It’s physically impossible to get full their arms fully extended.

“It teaches you to be quick to the ball, and short,” Girardi said. “Or you do what I did the first time and hit a little dribbler to the cage.”

Girardi said it had been about four years since he took any sort of batting practice. This session lasted only 15 or so swings until Girardi finally got a ball out of the park, pulling a home run about 350 feet to left field.

“I was hoping I could do it,” he said. “Once I started getting close, then I had to keep going… It was a wall-scrapper. I’m glad Grandy wasn’t there to go up the fence and rob it.”

This was before regular batting practice. It was basically the early drill that Robinson Cano does all the time. So why did Girardi want to get involved?

“If I was ever to suggest it to someone, I know what it’s about,” he said. “And I also want to teach my son to do it.”

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball• Andy Pettitte is starting tomorrow. At least that’s the plan for now, but Girardi left open the possibility of changing that plan if the Yankees clinch tonight. “I’ll worry about tomorrow if I have to,” he said.

• Mariano Rivera did some of the same pregame work today that he did yesterday. Rivera is available tonight. “He’s not satisified with what’s happened the last few times out and he’s trying to fix it,” Girardi said. “I love it.”

• Could CC Sabathia make another start in the regular season? “We’ll see,” Girardi said. “It’s possible.” Sabathia would be on regular rest for the season finale.

• Girardi said he doesn’t have a rotation for the Boston series. He also said the staff has not been talking much about the playoff rotation or roster the past few days. He has not looked at numbers at all for teams the Yankees might face. “We’re not talking about it,” Girardi said. “You have to get in first. That’s our focus. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

• Girardi was asked if it’s possible A.J. Burnett is hurt, leading to his bad second half. “He’s healthy,” was Girardi’s response.

• The Yankees actually faced Kyle Drabek once in spring training, but this was back when Drabek was with the Phillies. “I faced his father and his father wore me out,” Girardi said.

• According to Girardi, tomorrow’s game will start at 7:30 because the Blue Jays have a pregame ceremony planned to honor Cito Gaston.

UPDATE, 6:26 p.m.: Blue Jays lineup
Travis Snider LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
John Buck C
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
J.P. Arencibia DH

Associated Press photos of Girardi and Jeter

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 14 Comments →

Regulars stay in the lineup in Toronto09.28.10

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Lance Berkman DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 402 Comments →

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