The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for April, 2011

Postgame notes: How Burnett is limiting the damage04.30.11

A.J. Burnett knew right away that he didn’t have his best curveball today. He even admitted that he “really let that hook bother me the first couple innings.” The difference between last year and this year, though, is that Burnett refused to let that realization ruin his day.

“In the past, I’d get ticked off at that,” he said. “(Now), I’m not getting bothered by everything.”

Some days, it’s tough. As a pitcher who knows he has a good curveball, it can be difficult for him to keep his mind from wandering if – as he put it – “the 46-foot curveballs aren’t even close.” But after suffering through 2010, Burnett knows his focus has to be better. And on Saturday it was.

Is six innings, four runs a masterpiece? Hardly. But Burnett didn’t let the game get away from him and did enough, yet again, to give the Yankees a chance to win. He’s now 4-1 this year and 9-1 in April as a Yankee, but isn’t content with how he is pitching. If he’s going to continue to succeed, he knows that curveball has to be better.

“I’ve got to try to make it nastier than it is,” he said.

• By the way, Burnett’s pickoff of Rajai Davis in the fifth was his 26th career pickoff, ranking him fourth among active righties. Did Burnett see something that tipped him off on Davis leaning toward second? Nope. Just lucky, as it turned out. “I know they like to run,” Burnett said. “I guessed right.”

• Curtis Granderson refused to take the easy way out, saying that Davis’s leadoff triple wasn’t a ball he lost in the sun. “He just hit it harder than I thought he did,” Granderson said, though he did add that the sun – a notorious problem during 4 p.m. starts – was difficult all the way until the seventh or eighth inning.

• Just to reiterate: No real issues with A-Rod today, he just got a day off. Girardi said he’ll play tomorrow.

• After 0-for-8 with RISP on Friday, the Yankees were 4-for-9 on Saturday and cashed in enough opportunities that it didn’t matter they went hitless from the fourth inning on. The five runs was also the most they’ve scored this season in a game where they didn’t hit a home run (something that’s happened only four times in 24 games).

Do the Yankees care if there are no homers? Not so much, according to Nick Swisher. “I don’t care whether we get ’em by home run or bunt,” Swisher said. “Whatever.” So there you have it.

• Kudos to Rafael Soriano for bouncing back from his rough outing against the White Sox. He came in, faced the middle of the Jays order and did his job, retiring Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista and Juan Rivera (after Adam Lind singled). Getting Bautista, in particular, was impressive after Soriano fell behind the dangerous outfielder 2-and-0. Did he feel any extra pressure facing such tough hitters? “It didn’t matter,” Soriano said. “I just have to make my pitch.”

• Hard not to notice Jorge Posada’s struggles: He was 0-for-3 today and is now hitting .125.

• Fun with numbers: Seven different Yankees had a hit. Five different Yankees scored a run. Five different Yankees had a RBI. In NBA parlance, I believe they call that a balanced offense.

• Who else to close with but the closer: Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his ninth save of the season, the most he’s ever had before May 1. Rivera has also been kind to those in the Bronx who love to watch him: He’s won or saved 10 of the 11 Yankee home wins this year.

* That’s an AP shot of Burnett from today.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 1,400 Comments →

Yankees start quick then hang on to beat Blue Jays04.30.11

The Yankees couldn’t get a big hit on Friday, leaving runners in scoring position all night in a disappointing loss. Today, the story was different: The Yankees went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position, beating Toronto, 5-4, despite not getting a single hit after the third inning.

A.J. Burnett was decent, going six innings and allowing four runs, while the offense did all its work in the second and third innings. Russell Martin had a RBI single, Derek Jeter had a sac fly and Brett Gardner also continued his mini-revival with a RBI single of his own. The Yankees then held on late, with the standard Chamberlain-Soriano-Rivera trio getting the final nine outs.

Back with more from the clubhouse shortly.

* That’s an AP shot of Russell Martin scoring on Curtis Granderson’s single.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 521 Comments →

Game 24: Yankees vs. Blue Jays04.30.11

YANKEES (14-9)
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez 3B
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

RHP A.J. Burnett (3-1, 3.52)
Burnett vs. Blue Jays

BLUE JAYS (13-13)
Rajai Davis CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
Juan Rivera LF
David Cooper DH
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Jose Molina C
Mike McCoy 2B

RHP Kyle Drabek (2-0, 3.30)
Drabek vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 4:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Little bit chilly here again today. Sky is clear with just a few clouds.

UMPIRES: HP Wally Bell, 1B Laz Diaz, 2B Scott Barry, 3B John Hirschbeck

HELP WANTED: Robinson Cano is tied for fourth in the majors with eight home runs but six of them have been solo shots. In case you’re wondering, Cano trails Ryan Braun (9), Jose Bautista (9) and Alfonso Soriano (9).

A PRETTY GOOD PICK: As we finish off three days of hearing about “value” and “upside” among NFL players who have just been drafted, how about this pick: On this day in 1923, the Yankees signed a 19-year-old kid from Columbia University to a pro contract. His name? Lou Gehrig. In an odd coincidence, exactly 16 years later Gehrig played the last of his 2,130 straight games for the Yankees, a 3-2 loss to Washington at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were off on May 1 and on May 2 Gehrig officially ended his streak.

END OF THE RUN: When he gave up two earned runs on Friday night, Dave Robertson had his scoreless streak of 8 1/3 innings snapped. They were the first runs Robertson had been charged with this season.

STAY SAFE IN THE SUN: For two hours before tomorrow’s game, the Yankees will host a free skin cancer screening for all ticketed fans. Dr. Darrell Rigel and his team will conduct the screenings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the main level behind home plate (between Sections 217-223), and the screenings will cover only the arms and face and will take less than a minute to complete. Sponsor LaRoche-Posay will also give away sunscreen to the first 30,000 fans arriving at the game. It’s a great idea for a service and – as someone with fair skin myself – I urge everyone going to the game to take a minute and take advantage of it.

UPDATE, 4:12 p.m.: Well, first pitch was at 4:10 p.m. and by 4:11 Rajai Davis was on third base. Not sure what happened to Granderson on that ball but he took a terrible route – in then back, never a good combo – and the line drive went all the way to the wall. Yunel Escobar then tapped back to Burnett to score Davis and it’s 1-0 Jays.

UPDATE, 4:22 p.m.: Apparently the sun is particularly brutal today – 4 p.m. starts are notorious for that – because Teixeira just crushed a fly ball to deep center that Davis was tracking back to the wall but clearly lost sight of as it fell about five feet away from him. Tex ended up on second with a double.

UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.: Burnett hits 95 mph on his last fastball to strikeout Mike McCoy and end the inning. Still 1-0 Jays.

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: Productive inning for the Yankees here: Swisher singled, Chavez walked, Posada grounded into what looked like a double play but Chavez broke it up with a great slide and Martin smacked a RBI single up the middle. Then, after a walk from Gardner, Jeter hit a shallow sac fly and Granderson lined a RBI single to left. Suddenly they went from 1-0 down to 3-1 up.

UPDATE, 5:05 p.m.: Couple of deep drives for the Jays that inning adds up to one run and it’s 3-2 now. Adam Lind had the sac fly that drove in Escobar.

UPDATE, 5:22 p.m.: Gardner doinks a single to left to make it 5-2 and end Drabek’s afternoon. Not particularly impressive from the touted prospect (and member of my fantasy team … grrr). Bases loaded for Jeter with Jason Frasor coming on.

UPDATE, 5:26 p.m.: In addition to having a power bat, Jose Bautista has a cannon for an arm. Jeter lined a decently-deep fly to right, but there was no chance for a sac fly this time. Bautista threw a one-hop bullet home and Posada had to hold. Then Granderson flied out and the Yankees couldn’t tack on any more runs. It’s 5-2.

UPDATE, 5:34 p.m.: Strong 1-2-3 from A.J. to get through the fourth. With so many consecutive games in a row, length from the starters is even more important.

UPDATE, 5:53 p.m.: Rocket home run for McCoy to lead off the fifth for Burnett, but he settled in and even picks off (!!) Rajai Davis after an infield single. He’s at 69 pitches through five.

UPDATE, 6:11 p.m.: Nice strike-em-out-throw-em-out with Russell Martin making a great throw to third. It’s 5-4 in the sixth.

UPDATE, 6:28 p.m.: Wow. Unreal catch by Jays 2b Mike McCoy, who is having quite an afternoon. His first career homer and an over-the-shoulder-falling-down grab on Swisher to end the seventh. It’s still 5-4 Yankees though, with Soriano coming on.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 642 Comments →

Pregame notes: Jeter’s one-month review, Cano a 40-homer guy (?) and more04.30.11

Pretty short pregame session with Joe Girardi today but that’s not unusual before a day game. One of the topics he did touch on, however, was – wait for it – Derek Jeter!

With today being the last day of April, Girardi was asked for his assessment of Derek Jeter after one month of the season. This is what he said:

“I think it’s been decent. Could his numbers be better? Of course they could, but all our guys numbers could be better. He got off to somewhat of a slow start and he’s picked it up lately, been pretty consistent about getting on-base for us. So I think it’s been pretty decent.”

At this moment, Jeter is hitting .253 with a .323 OBP. In terms of all major-league shortstops, that OBP puts him 14th on the list, or pretty much right in the middle of the pack. So, while obviously his production hasn’t been particularly good compared to his past standards, I guess you could make a case for “decent.”

• Girardi also spent some time talking about Robinson Cano, and Bryan Hoch asked an interesting question when he brought up Kevin Long’s statement from spring training that he could see Cano being a 40-home run type of player someday. What does Girardi think? “I don’t think anything Robbie would do would surprise me,” Girardi said.

As most of you have no doubt noticed, Cano has been hitting bullets all over the park lately, and that’s what has amazed his manager the most. “When you look at Robbie’s home runs recently,” Girardi said, “they’ve just been line drives.”

• Look for Francisco Cervelli to get his first start of the season tomorrow. He’ll be catching Ivan Nova in the series-finale with Toronto.

• Brett Gardner was 1-for-2 with two walks last night and Girardi said he’s seen some improvement in Gardner’s approach at the plate. “It just seems that he’s been on fastballs better,” Girardi said. “He’s got the bat-head in the zone when he needs to have it.”

* That’s an AP shot of Jeter looking – shall we say – unhappy, after striking out during last night’s game.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 146 Comments →

A-Rod gets a day to rest his legs04.30.11

Joe Girardi was quick to say to that there’s nothing particularly wrong with Alex Rodriguez – and A-Rod was quick to say the same, downplaying any suggestion that his oblique injury might still be nagging him – but Girardi still wanted to give Rodriguez a day off today so his third baseman could get his legs some rest.

“He’s played seven days in a row,” Girardi said. “Is he getting away from using his legs a little? Maybe.”

Although A-Rod has reached base in 18 of his 20 games, he’s just 3-for-21 on this homestand. When asked about sitting today, he said, “I’ll take a day off and just get some rest” before adding later that, “for hitting, I think the legs are the most important thing.” When a player’s legs are fatigued, Rodriguez explained, he’s more more apt to jump at the pitch more.

Girardi is hoping a game off will help re-charge Rodriguez, and he’s expected back in the lineup tomorrow. A-Rod did say he’ll be available to pinch-hit today, if needed.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 100 Comments →

Today’s Lineup vs. Blue Jays (Updated with A-Rod explanation)04.30.11

Hey all, Sam here today. No A-Rod in the lineup; check back for more later.

Jeter SS
Granderson CF
Teixeira 1b
Cano 2b
Swisher RF
Chavez 3b
Posada DH
Martin C
Gardner LF

UPDATE, 1:21 p.m.: Just a regular day off for A-Rod, who has played seven in a row, Girardi said.

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Miscwith 114 Comments →

A sign of things to come for Posada?04.30.11

Jorge Posada was out of the lineup on Friday, and Joe Girardi had a perfectly reasonable explanation.

Brett Gardner has terrific career numbers against Ricky Romero. The Yankees other regular outfielders have hit well against lefties, and so has platoon starter Andruw Jones. Mark Teixeira was ready to play again after a shoulder injury. The only way to get all of those players in the lineup was to sit Posada.

“I actually thought his at-bats were pretty decent (Thursday) night, but this is the lineup that I chose today,” Girardi said. “I really wanted to get Gardy in there against Romero because of his success, and we brought Jonesy over here to hit against left-handed pitching, and he’s swung the bat pretty well against left-handed pitchers so far this year. That’s why I chose to do what I did.”

Hard not to notice, though, that Posada is hitting .130 and hasn’t had a hit since his sixth home run of the season last Saturday.

For a while, Posada remained productive despite his low batting average, but that was because of an unsustainable home run rate. Without the home runs, Posada has just three singles to go with his 20 strikeouts. Maybe it’s because of age, maybe it’s because of his adjustment to a new role, and maybe it’s nothing more than a rocky start to what will become a good season.

Question is, how long will the Yankees give Posada regular chances to find his swing and produce more than scattered home runs?

Girardi said he plans to mix in some different designated hitters in the next few weeks, but he indicated that had less to do with Posada’s numbers and more to do with playing 32 games in 33 days. Again, the explanation made sense, but it was hard ignore the underlying issue.

“We talked about doing it before the season even started,” Girardi said. “That that was what we would have to do if you wanted to keep a guy’s bat in the lineup, an Alex or a Cano, if we were in long stretches. We talked about that before the season even started, and that Jorge would DH a lot for us, but it wouldn’t necessarily be every, every day.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 537 Comments →

Postgame notes: “Can’t say we didn’t have our chances”04.30.11

The Yankees got lucky. A dropped line drive was very nearly a triple play, but a routine throw sailed into right field, and instead the inning coming to abrupt end, it was just getting started. Down by one run in the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs and the heart of the order coming to the plate.

From that moment, the Yankees seemed unable to take advantage of anything.

They twice had the bases loaded with less than two outs and couldn’t get the ball out of the infield. Dave Robertson had Jose Bautista picked off between first and second and made the first error of his career. Three other relievers pitched three scoreless innings, but the Yankees stranded runner after runner, including a pair of leadoff walks.

“You can’t say we didn’t have our chances,” Nick Swisher said. “Because we had a lot of them tonight.”

The at-bats that truly hurt were the four with the bases loaded. Aside from Derek Jeter, who struck out on a pitch out of the zone — “I chased a bad pitch,” he said — the other three bases-loaded attempts were decided on one pitch.

Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez had their chances after that fifth-inning error. Both swung at fastballs inside. Teixeira popped his up. Rodriguez rolled his into a double play.

“He just threw a good inside fastball,” Teixeira said. “I didn’t get the head out… Just a bad at-bat.”

Swisher’s chance came immediately after Jeter’s strikeout. An error and two walks had loaded the bases, and Swisher went to the plate looking for a fastball. He got one, and he sent a routine grounder to first.

“It had more sink than I expected,” he said. “Just rolled it over.”

Here’s Robertson speaking after the game.

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And here’s Joe Girardi.

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• Another big game from Robinson Cano who was 2-for-3 with two walks and two home runs. It was his seventh career multi-homer game, and his first since one year ago to the day (April 29, 2010 in Baltimore).

• Robertson said his mistake was a simple matter of not setting his feet. He was thinking about Rajai Davis at third base and tried to turn quickly to throw to second. “That split second where I didn’t turn to set my feet, then I threw it into center field, it cost us some runs,” Robertson said. “… I screwed up tonight. There’s no one else to blame except me.”

• The two runs charged to Robertson were his first runs of the season.

• Scary moment in the third inning when Teixeira hit a sure single up the middle, only to see Ricky Romero catch it before it hit Romero in the head. “I’m glad I didn’t (get a hit), really,” Teixeira said. “I’m glad he caught it. If he doesn’t get his glove up there, it might have been ugly.”

• Freddy Garcia said he didn’t have a good feel for the ball tonight. “I just couldn’t throw a strike,” he said. This was easily his worst start of the year — five walks, 12 base runners in five innings — but he really did a nice job limiting the damage. Two home runs drove in the only runs on his watch.

• Garcia left frustrated with himself, but he also left feeling what many Yankees fans must have felt. “With this lineup I know we’re going to score some runs,” he said. “It didn’t happen today, but it’s part of the game.”

• Teixeira said his shoulder wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough. “I still felt it a little bit,” he said. “But it didn’t keep me from swinging, so that’s a really good sign.”

• Alex Rodriguez has had three hits and six strikeouts in the past five games, but Girardi seemed surprised to hear a question about his clean-up hitter struggling the past few days. “It’s what you go through as a hitter,” he said. Girardi said he doesn’t believe there’s any lingering impact from the oblique injury.

• Eleven men left on base was a season-high for the Yankees.

• The Yankees announced tonight that they’ve donated $500,000 to the tornado relief in the southern United States. Of the total, $250,000 will go to the Salvation Army and $250,000 to the Red Cross.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 86 Comments →

Missed chances cost the Yankees against Toronto04.29.11

After they lucked into a bases-loaded opportunity in the fifth inning, the Yankees weren’t able to take advantage of anything. They stranded eight runners in the final five innings, Dave Robertson let a run score on a terrible throw that sailed into the outfield and the Yankees went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position letting Toronto sneak away with a 5-3 win. Freddy Gracia had his worst start of the year but gave the Yankees a chance. So did relievers Buddy Carlyle, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan. Robinson Cano’s pair of solo home runs, though, accounted for almost all of the Yankees offense.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 47 Comments →

Game 23: Yankees vs. Blue Jays04.29.11

YANKEES (14-8)
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Andruw Jones DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

RHP Freddy Garcia (1-0, 0.69)
Garcia vs. Blue Jays

BLUE JAYS (12-13)
Rajai Davis CF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Adam Lind 1B
Juan Rivera LF
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
David Cooper DH
J.P. Arencibia C
John McDonald 2B

LHP Ricky Romero (1-3, 3.00)
Romero vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Little bit chilly but certainly not cold. Temperatures are supposed to dip into the 50s tonight. Very slight chance of rain.

UMPIRES: HP John Hirschbeck, 1B Wally Bell, 2B Laz Diaz, 3B Scott Barry

CANO GETS THE SILVER: Robinson Cano already has hit Gold Glove award. Before today’s game he’s receiving his Silver Slugger.

ROTATION SUCCESS: In their past five games, the Yankees starters have each held opponents to one earned run or less, good for a 0.76 ERA through 35.1 innings. That’s the Yankees first such five-game stretch since 2002 when Wells, Mussina, Pettitte, Hernandez and Clemens pulled off five straight with one earned or less.

FIRST THINGS FIRST: The Yankees have outscored their opponents 44-14 in the first two innings this season (24-6 in the first inning, 20-8 in the second).

WAITING FOR A DAY OFF: According to Elias, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher have played every inning in the field this season. Last night Swisher kept his streak alive by moving from right field to first base when Andruw Jones came in to play the field.

UPDATE, 7:06 p.m.: During the Canadian national anthem, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard crew cut between shots of two different Yankees: Canadians Russell Martin and Rob Thomson. If there were a Missouri anthem, and it were played at the stadium, I feel confident I’d be on the big screen (as long as David Phelps weren’t called up at that point).

UPDATE, 7:43 p.m.: Opening an inning with back-to-back walks isn’t exactly good baseball, but Garcia got out of trouble with a ground out, strikeout, ground out and kept the Blue Jays from taking advantage.

UPDATE, 7:49 p.m.: Russell Martin doubles to give Freddy Garcia a lead. Man, that Brian Cashman really screwed up this winter.

UPDATE, 8:01 p.m.: Jose Bautista just crushed a home run to left. Line drive into the second deck. People sitting more than 300 feet away were in legitimate danger. It’s now 2-1 Blue Jays in the third.

UPDATE, 8:14 p.m.: It’s not often that an entire ballpark takes a second to decide whether it’s just witnessed an out or a homicide, but it just happened. Mark Teixeira lined a shot to the mound, and it surely would have taken Ricky Romero’s head off, except that he somehow caught the thing.

UPDATE, 8:43 p.m.: Garcia is flirting with disaster tonight, but he’s so far limited the damage and Robinson Cano’s solo home run has pulled the Yankees within 3-2 heading into the fifth.

UPDATE, 9:04 p.m.: Unbelievable. The Yankees got two infield singles, got incredibly lucky that the Blue Jays blew a triple play, then failed to score with the bases loaded and no outs.

UPDATE, 9:25 p.m.: Terrible throw by Robertson and a great slide by Bautista. It’s now a 5-2 Blue Jays lead after a strange top of the sixth.

UPDATE, 10:12 p.m.: Cano’s second homer of the night — he also has two walks — has pulled the Yankees within 5-3.

UPDATE, 10:29 p.m.: Strikeout and ground out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Yankees are hitless with runners in scoring position.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 531 Comments →

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