The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for May, 2011

Game 53: Yankees at Athletics05.31.11

YANKEES (29-23)
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Russell Martin C
Nick Swisher RF
Andruw Jones DH
Brett Gardner LF

RHP Freddy Garcia (3-4, 3.26)
Garcia vs. Athletics

Coco Crisp CF
David DeJesus RF
Conor Jackson 1B
Josh Willingham DH
Ryan Sweeney LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Mark Ellis 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Andy LaRoche SS

LHP Brett Anderson (3-4, 2.84)
Anderson vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 10:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: Should be cloudy all night, but it looks like the game won’t be at great risk. Better chance of rain tomorrow, which could be trouble.

UMPIRES: HP Derryl Cousins, 1B Jim Joyce, 2B Ron Kulpa, 3B Jim Wolf

ON THE RUN: Francisco Cervelli had two stolen bases last night. He’d previously stolen just one base in his entire big league career.

GOOD COMPANY: After throwing a complete game yesterday, 38-year-old Bartolo Colon became the fifth Yankees starter in the past 25 years to get a complete game win at that age or older (Roger Clemens, Tommy John, Randy Johnson and David Wells).

GOOD START: When leading off an inning, Derek Jeter is hitting .375 with three doubles, two home runs, six walks and a .430 on-base percentage this season. He’s reached base safely to lead off the first inning in 20 of 41 games.

ON THE FLIP SIDE: The Yankees pitching staff has allowed opposing No. 1 hitters to hit a .181 with a .241 on-base percentage, both Major League lows.

UPDATE, 10:07 p.m.: Jeter gets a gift with an error called a hit, and Granderson made it count with his 17th home run of the season.

UPDATE, 10:55 p.m.: Internet in Oakland. Not great. Anyway, the Yankees and A’s traded runs in the third and it’s a 3-1 Yankees lead. Garcia allowed three hits in the third inning, but a bit of bad base running help him limit the damage to one run.

UPDATE, 11:26 p.m.: Before this game, Brett Anderson had not allowed an extra-base hit to a left-handed hitter this season. Granderson and Cano have now taken him deep. It’s a 7-1 Yankees lead in the fifth.

UPDATE, 12:38 p.m.: Does anyone know how to strangle a computer? I’d really like to do that tonight, but it’s tough to figure out how exactly to make it work. Here’s the bottom line: The Yankees are winning big. Granderson had another huge game, Garcia was almost hit in the face but he’s in line for the win and Jeter managed to reach base four times without ever hitting the ball out of the infield.

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Pregame notes: “That’s good company right there”05.31.11

The reactions were probably exactly as you might expect. Alex Rodriguez shrugged, Joba Chamberlain laughed and Derek Jeter really didn’t want to talk about it.

Today, Sports Illustrated released the results of a player poll that ranked the most overrated players in baseball. Rodriguez was first, Chamberlain second and Jeter third.

“That’s good company right there,” Chamberlain said.

Those three have led the overrated poll each of the past three years. Chamberlain was No. 1 last year and Jeter was No. 1 in 2009, the year he went on to finish third in the MVP voting.

“I’ve been on this list many, many times, and I’m sure I’ll be there again next summer,” Rodriguez said. “I will say this: If this is the only thing we’re talking about, we’re doing good.”

I have a hard time getting too worked up about something like this. It’s fun to talk about, but it’s also impossible to say whether players took the word overrated to mean overpaid, overhyped or overly famous. It’s also hard to know how much money and jealously play into something like this. A player in New York, with the Yankees, is naturally going to get more exposure than a player in Milwaukee playing for the Brewers. Does that makes Yankees more susceptible to being overrated? If a player is overrated, doesn’t that say more about the person doing the rating than the player himself?

“I guess I’m disappointed that I’m not No. 1,” Chamberlain said. “I’ve still got a job, so I’m doing something right.”

Jeter said he didn’t vote: “I’m more focused on more positive things,” he said.

• If you’re curious, Jayson Werth was fourth and Jonathan Papelbon fifth in the SI poll. The magazine noted that Nick Swisher just missed the top five. He got 4 percent of the vote.

• Girardi said he put Russell Martin’s name in the lineup before he had a chance to check with him. Martin will do what he did yesterday, go through stretch and drills to make sure his toe is up to playing.

• Lately, Girardi has been starting Eduardo Nunez against left-handers and using either Jeter or Rodriguez at DH. Today, he decided to DH Andruw Jones and could take advantage of Brett Gardner’s defense in this spacious outfield. “You’re playing in a big outfield and Gardy has hit lefties,” Girardi said. “I just felt, it’s a good day for Gardy to play.”

• What day is good for Rodriguez to get a DH day? “Tomorrow would be a great one,” Girardi said.

• Girardi went further than before in admitting that his DH spot has become a platoon. “You could look at it that way,” Girardi said. “Jorge hasn’t had success right-handed this year, but he’s had success in the past. It’s just kind of worked out that way.”

• Before the game, Phil Hughes did long toss with Ivan Nova. Hughes will throw a bullpen tomorrow.

• Girardi’s scouting report on Brett Anderson: “Outstanding breaking ball. And he’s going to throw it for a strike, and he’s going to try to back foot the right-handers, and you’ve got to try to lay off it. The young man’s got very good stuff. When you face these guys, they know how to expand the zone, and that’s where you have to try to lay off them.”

• Left-handers have a higher batting average than right-handers against Anderson this year, but Anderson has yet to give up an extra-base hit to a lefty this season. “Lefties don’t hit him for power,” Girardi said. “They definitely don’t. And righties, I think, have only hit four homers off him this year, so it’s not a guy that gives up a lot of homers, but the extra-base hits come off of righties.”

Coco Crisp CF
David DeJesus RF
Conor Jackson 1B
Josh Willingham DH
Ryan Sweeney LF
Kurt Suzuki C
Mark Ellis 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Andy LaRoche SS

Associated Press photos

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Gardner in left, Jones at DH05.31.11

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

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 54 Comments →

Teixeira’s understatement: “I feel pretty good up there”05.31.11

On Friday, when the Yankees took a quick 1-0 lead against Michael Pineda, it was on a first-inning home run by Mark Teixeira.

On Saturday, when they pulled ahead 3-1 in the third inning against Felix Hernandez, it was on a two-run homer by Mark Teixeira.

On Monday, when the Yankees jumped on top 2-0 in the first inning against Trevor Cahill, it was on a home run by Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees first baseman has hit seven home runs in his past 11 games. He’s hit them off relatively a no-name relievers (Chris Jakubauskas) and against a Cy Young winner (Hernandez). He’s hit them off a knuckleballer (R.A. Dickey) and one of the hardest-throwing starters in the game (Pineda). He’s hit them off back-of-the-rotation lefties (Chris Cabuano and Jo-Jo Reyes) and an all-star right-hander.

On the road and at home. Down in the count and ahead. In tied games and blowouts. Teixeira has 16 homers this season, a mark he didn’t reach last year until July 9.

“I’ve said it before, home runs come in bunches,” Teixeira said. “And right now I’m just kind of in one of those streaks where I’m hitting the ball out of the park a lot. Hopefully, it keeps up. I feel pretty good up there.”

Teixeira’s April and May slash lines are very similar (.256/.392/.549 in April, .259/.349/.545 in May). Three differences standout: His batting average on balls in play this month is a decidedly unlucky .218 (it was .273 last month). He’s already hit 10 home runs this month (four more than in April). And despite playing in five more games this month, he’s actually cut his strikeouts (from 22 last month to 16 this month).

Associated Press photo

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Jones showing his value05.31.11

Two games said a lot about sample size and the potential impact of Andruw Jones.

One week ago, Jones’ job seemed to be in danger. If not in danger, certainly in question. He’d been brought to New York to hit against lefties, and he wasn’t hitting against anyone. He had only 50 plate appearances, but the early results were enough to wonder if Justin Maxwell might be a better right-handed outfield option.

Then Jones went 3-for-3 with two home runs on Wednesday. In his next start, he was 1-for-4 with a key three-run double on Sunday. Jones is hitting .268/.318/.610 against left-handers, which is exactly what he was brought here to do.

“I’m feeling good the last two games, for sure,” Jones said. “I had about 20 at-bats that I wish I could erase, but you have to keep working, keep hanging in there and keep working with K-Long, making adjustments. When they call your name, just go out there and get the job done.”

Two games is hardly a sample size that proves anything, but it’s enough to show the potential of a platoon bat like Jones. It’s enough to show that 50 plate appearances might not be an especially meaningful sample size either. It’s not enough to prove that a player is finished.

The Yankees will probably lean on Jones these next two games. They’re facing two of the best left-handers in the American League in Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez. Jones doesn’t have good numbers against either of them — 1-for-10 against Anderson, 1-for-7 against Gonzalez — but if he’s starting to find his swing, he’s probably worth a start.

“We’ve faced some pretty good lefties in our league,” Joe Girardi said. “There are a lot of good lefties in he American League right now. He got off to a hot start, then he went through a little period, but now he’s swinging the bat good and has been very productive. Seven RBI in his last two games, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Associated Press photo

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Halfway home05.31.11

Tonight’s game will be mid-point of the Yankees nine-game West Coast trip. When this trip started, the individual names stood out. The Yankees were scheduled to face some of the very best starting pitchers in the game, and that was impossible to ignore, but Joe Girardi seemed to focus on the big picture rather than the specific names.

“Recently, we’ve done pretty good on the West Coast,” Girardi said before that first game in Seattle. “You’re probably not going to see as many high-scoring games. Execution becomes very important. You can’t give them extra base runners. Your execution — moving guys over, getting a guy in with runners in scoring position — it becomes really important in these parks.”

Four games down and five to go, the opposing starters really haven’t been the deciding factor at this point, but execution has been key.

When the Yankees beat Trevor Cahill yesterday, it was by taking advantage of some first-inning mistakes, cashing in on a handful of late-inning opportunities, and getting a walk-free start from Bartolo Colon. When the Yankees beat the Mariners on Sunday, it was with one game-changing, two-out burst of efficiency. In the two wins, the Yankees pitching staff allowed a total of three free base runners, all of them CC Sabathia walks that were left stranded.

In the two losses, the Yankees were a combined 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, and they also walked 11 batters, hit two batters and threw two wild pitches.

“After losing two tough games, you come out and win two games in a row against tough pitching, I think it does a lot,” Girardi said. “And then you try to carry that into tomorrow.”

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “I feel really strong physically and mentally”05.30.11

Before the start of the ninth inning, Joe Girardi found Bartolo Colon on the Yankees bench. Colon was approaching 100 pitches, and Girardi wanted to know if his starting pitchers felt strong enough to finish the job. Could Colon pitch one more inning?

“He told me he had two more in him,” Girardi said. “I said, ‘Well, I don’t want to go two more. I want this to be it.’”

Of course, that was it. Colon keeps finding ways to surprise, and today it was by pitching the Yankees first shutout since last September. It was Colon’s first shutout since 2006. Obviously he can pitch at this level, as several people in the Yankees clubhouse pointed out, he’s been doing this for three months, since his first spring training start. Hard to call it a fluke at this point.

The question, then, is a big-picture variation of the one Girardi asked this afternoon: How much longer can he go?

“We weren’t really sure what we were going to get out of him,” Girardi said. “As he logs more innings, he’s kind of in some different water for him because he’s older, and he hasn’t done this for a while where he’s made 32 starts, but his stamina looks fine. The big thing about Bartolo is he never throws a lot of pitches. Very seldom do you see him throw 100 pitches in five innings. He may throw 100 in a game, but his innings are pretty economical. He doesn’t have long innings and it doesn’t take a lot out of him.”

Colon needed just 103 pitches this afternoon, but he also pushed his total innings count to 66.1. He’s already reached his second-highest single-season workload since 2005. He turned 38 years old last week, and he didn’t pitch at all last year. Derek Jeter joked that when the Yankees signed Colon, his first through was, “He should be well rested.”

“Bartolo’s never had issues with his stuff,” Jeter said. “He wasn’t healthy there for a while. As long as he’s healthy I don’t see any reason why he can’t produce.”

How long can he stay healthy? Impossible to say or even guess, but that’s really the only question that remains. Those spring training results have carried into the regular season, and the production seems legitimate.

“I feel really good,” Colon said. “I thank God that I’m healthy, and I’m helping the team to win. I feel really strong physically and mentally right now.”

Here’s Girardi, talking a lot about his starter.

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• Trevor Cahill had allowed as many as three runs in a start only twice this season. The Yankees scored that many in the first inning. “Cahill’s one of the best pitchers in baseball,” Mark Teixeira said. “We didn’t get a lot of hits off him, but we made them count. Scratching out a couple of runs early was big for us.”

• Speaking of Teixiera: He has a seven-game hitting streak and has four home runs in his past five games. He’s hit seven homers in his past 11 games and is now tied with Curtis Granderson for the second-most homers in the American League.

• Jeter extended his hitting streak to five games. He’s hitting .359 in that span and has reached base to start the first inning in 20 of his 41 games as the Yankees leadoff hitter this season.

• Speaking of leading off: Colon has not walked any of the 69 batters he’s faced to leadoff an inning. No other American League pitcher has started more than 30 innings without walking the leadoff hitter.

• This was Colon’s ninth career shutout and his first since July 5, 2006 in Seattle. It was his 32nd complete game.

• Colon said he actually feels like a better pitcher now than when he was in his prime because he’s throwing more strikes now. “When he first came up he threw the ball as hard as he could,” Jeter said. “Now he’s hitting spots, his ball is moving, he’s getting ahead of guys. He’s become more of a pitcher. I think he was more of a thrower.”

• Not so much a thrower and now more of a pitcher, Colon still hit 95 mph with his final pitch tonight. “That has always been his trademark (to throw hard late in games),” Girardi said. “Even when he was with Cleveland and the Angels, that was who Bartolo was. I don’t know if you necessarily expect it with all the innings he’s logged and all the injuries that he’s went through, but that was in his DNA.”

• Brett Gardner snapped an 0-for-13 stretch with a bunt single in the ninth. He also stole two bases tonight, the second one as part of a double steal that setup a sac fly in the seventh. It was a shallow fly ball to center. No chance any of the Yankees except Gardner would have so much as attempted to score on that ball.

• Jorge Posada is 0-for-10 on the road trip and has one hit in his past 17 at-bats.

• Alex Rodriguez snapped a season-high nine-game hitting streak.

• Jeter on seeing his friend Hideki Matsui: “He needs four more home runs for 500 so I’m happy for him. Obviously I don’t want him to get it while we’re here, but I’ve always told you he’s one of my favorite teammates. He was fun to play with, fun to watch. It’s good to catch up with him.”

• The Yankees are 22-4 against Oakland since Girardi became manager in 2008.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees hopeful Martin will return tomorrow05.30.11

About three weeks ago, a batted ball hit Russell Martin in the left foot during batting practice. It bothered him for a while, got better, and Saturday night he fouled a ball off the exact same spot, right on the big toe.

It bothered him yesterday, and it was still bothering him after stretch this afternoon. Joe Girardi decided to give Martin another day off, but the Yankees believe they could have their regular catcher back in the lineup tomorrow.

“My hope is he’s available,” Girardi said.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 79 Comments →

Yankees score early; Colon takes it from there05.30.11

It took Oakland starter Trevor Cahill one inning to settle in. Bartolo Colon was locked in from the beginning, and that made the difference in a 5-0 Yankees win in Oakland. A three-run first inning gave Colon all the run support he would need. The Yankees chipped away for two more late-inning runs, but those hardly mattered with Colon pitching so well. He tossed a complete game shutout, the Yankees first shutout since September of last year. He struck out six, walked none and scattered four hits.

Associated Press photo

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Game 52: Yankees at Athletics05.30.11

YANKEES (28-23)
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner LF
Francisco Cervelli C

RHP Bartolo Colon (2-3, 3.77)
Colon vs. Athletics

Coco Crisp CF
Daric Barton 1B
David DeJesus RF
Josh Willingham RF
Hideki Matsui DH
Kurt Suzuki C
Mark Ellis 2B
Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Cliff Pennington SS

RHP Trevor Cahill (6-2, 2.02)
Cahill vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Cool and cloudy. Temperatures in the 50s, with a chance of rain at some point.

UMPIRES: HP Gerry Davis, 1B Greg Gibson, 2B Todd Tichenor, 3B Sam Holbrook

HOMER HAPPY: The Yankees have hit 79 home runs. According to Elias, when they reached 78 homers after 50 games, it was their second-highest total through 50 games in franchise history, trailing 2009 (when they had 80).

BAD STARTS: The Yankees have lost five of their past six series openers, and they’re 8-10 overall in openers this season. They are, however, 12-3 in day games, the best record in the Majors.

AND ON THE NEXT DAY: Yesterday was the anniversary of Derek Jeter’s first big league game, today is the anniversary of his first big league hit. He singled in the fifth inning off Tim Belcher. Since that date, Jeter has more hits than any other big leaguer. Alex Rodriguez is second with 2,701.

CANO CAN: Robinson Cano hit his 10th home run Saturday. According to ESPN Stats, Cano is the only the second second baseman — at least 50 percent of games at second — to begin his career with seven straight 10-homer seasons. The only other second baseman to pull it off was Joe Gordon, who had 11 straight.

MINOR HONOR: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Justin Maxwell was named the International League Player of the Week after scoring 10 runs, hitting three homers and finishing with a 1.000 slugging percentage last week. Maxwell might be hitting his way into big league consideration if not for Andruw Jones strong past few games.

UPDATE, 4:08 p.m.: Leadoff single by Jeter. Nineteen away from 3,000.

UPDATE, 4:12 p.m.: Teixeira stays hot, goes deep and puts the Yankees in front 2-0.

UPDATE, 4:17 p.m.: Cano seemed to be caught off guard by the cutoff and the play at second, but he still doubled in a run and it’s 3-0 Yankees at the end of a half inning. Mental mistake by Cano, but a big inning for the Yankees.

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: Three quick, scoreless innings for Colon. He’s allowed one hit and has retired six straight.

UPDATE, 5:15 p.m.: Seriously, Bartolo is rolling.

UPDATE, 5:49 p.m.: Two walks, three stolen bases and an extremely shallow sacrifice fly. That’s enough to push the Yankees lead to 4-0. Cahill hasn’t allowed more than four runs in a start this season.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 613 Comments →

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