The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for June, 2011

Postgame notes: “He’s the King here”06.30.11

CC Sabathia tried to pass the credit to his catcher. After 7.2 shutout innings. After a career-high 13 strikeouts. After his eighth win in his past nine starts, Sabathia tried to give the credit to Francisco Cervelli’s game calling.

Not even Cervelli was buying it.

“He’s the King here,” Cervelli said. “I give the target.”

Sabathia certainly received the royal treatment when he walked off the mound in the eighth inning. He’s tied for the Major League lead in wins. He’s the first pitcher since Tom Seaver to win 11 games in each of his first 11 seasons. Today’s 13 strikeouts were the most by a Yankees starter since Roger Clemens in 2002, and the most by a Yankees lefty since David Wells in 1998. The crowd roared their appreciation through a Yankee Stadium ovation that lasted until Sabathia disappeared into the dugout.

“I always think that’s nice for a player to hear that,” Joe Girardi said. “That’s not the reason I pull a guy in the middle of an inning — his pitch count just got so high — but it’s nice to hear. He’s really appreciated here, not only by us but by the fans. It’s good for him to hear.”

Girardi called today’s start “brilliant.” Cervelli said Sabathia’s breaking ball was “unbelievable.” Mark Teixeira said it was the best he’d ever seen Sabathia.

Maybe it was over-the-top analysis of a friend and a teammate, but Sabathia seems to inspire that sort of reaction. After today’s start, he was an unannounced guest at Dave Robertson’s High Socks for Hope fundraiser at the Hard Rock Cafe. He managed to dominate his former Brewers teammates, then speak highly of them in postgame interviews. He was careful to pass credit to Cervelli.

“CC could spend a week on a team and you’d fall in love with his personality,” Girardi said. “That’s the type of guy he is… He hangs out with everyone, he’s not a guy who hangs with a couple guys. He’s a guy that seems to attract people. People want to be around him, which is important, because during the course of the season, everyone goes through tough times. This is a guy you know you can count on that’s going to be the same every day and will be there for you. That’s extremely important.”

There are a lot of easy-to-like players in this game, and there are a handful of truly great players in this game. Sabathia’s managed to be both, and it showed this afternoon.

Here’s the King himself.

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• Mark Teixeira laughed off the idea of career home run No. 300 being a major milestone. “Seeing what Alex did last year and then saying, ‘Oh man, I got 300. Great.’” Teixeira said. “He hit 600 last year, so it puts it in perspective. It makes you realize you’ve got a long way to go.”

• Of course, Teixeira now leads baseball with 25 home runs this season, and according to Elias he’s only the third player in baseball history to hit 25 in each of his first nine seasons, joining Eddie Matthews and Albert Pujols.

• Teixeira’s never had this many home runs before the all-star break.

• All 13 of Sabathia’s strikeouts were swinging. Why? “We just tried to follow the hitters, what they think,” Cervelli said. “Every time we think they’re looking for fastballs, we throw breaking balls, and we change a lot.”

• Sabathia’s take on the strikeouts: “Just making pitches with two strikes. Earlier this season, I was giving up a lot of 0-2 hits and 1-2 hits. Today, we made a lot of good pitches.”

• Is Sabathia anxious about whether he’ll make the all-star team? “I want to go to the Bahamas,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. I pitch Tuesday, then Sunday, so the way I’m scheduled, I probably wouldn’t pitch in the game anyway.”

• Sabathia wouldn’t say whether he’d attend the all-star game if he were selected but unavailable (by the way, he also wouldn’t comment on what he thought about a six-man rotation).

• Bad job by Cervelli to let the one strikeout pitch get past him. Nice job to convert it into an out anyway with a great throw to first. “I’m lucky,” Cervelli said. “That guy runs a lot, and I just grabbed the ball and throw.”

• Sergio Mitre got loose in the bullpen, mostly as a side session to get some work after not throwing in about a week. “Good to go tomorrow,” he said.

• Mitre said he hasn’t been told a specific role he’ll play. “Starters have a role, and other than Robby and Mo, everyone is just mix and match,” he said. “That’s what it looks like.”

• This was the Yankees third shutout and sixth series sweep of the season. The five-game winning streak is a season-high. The Yankees had a total of six series sweeps all last season.

• The Yankees stole four bases in a game for the sixth time this season, doubling last year’s total for four-steal games. They’ve stolen 12 straight bases without being caught.

• In his career, Cervelli is hitting .383 with two outs and runners in scoring position. “It makes me feel happy,” Cervelli said. “I’ve been working a lot with K-Long. I was struggling two weeks ago, and sometimes it’s hard, but you have to make adjustments an try to make everything simple.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 275 Comments →

Jeter progressing; Prior and Soriano throwing06.30.11

Joe Girardi confirmed postgame that Bartolo Colon will start Saturday’s game against the Mets. He also said that Derek Jeter is still on track to being a rehab assignment on Saturday, which would put Jeter on track to join the Yankees in Cleveland early next week. Here’s the latest from The Associated Press in Tampa.

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Derek Jeter is set to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in his return from a calf injury.

The shortstop said Thursday he will play minor league rehab games Saturday and Sunday at Double-A Trenton and be with the Yankees for a series in Cleveland.

“I feel good now,” Jeter said after working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “I feel a lot better. I’m ready to get out of here.”

The team captain is six hits shy of 3,000. A return next week could put him on track to reach the milestone at Yankee Stadium during a four-game series against Tampa Bay from July 7-10. Then comes the All-Star break, and New York opens the second half with an eight-game road trip.

Jeter had been eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Wednesday but wasn’t ready. His bid to become the 28th major leaguer — and first with the Yankees — to get 3,000 hits has been on hold since he strained his right calf June 13 against the Indians.

“I hadn’t done anything for a couple weeks, so it takes a little while to get loose and get in baseball shape,” Jeter said.

Jeter, who turned 37 on Sunday, is batting .260 with two homers and 20 RBIs. He has 12 extra-base hits in 262 at-bats and a .324 on-base percentage.

Jeter increased his intensity in Thursday’s workout, running from home to first after hitting a ball and also turning double plays. He had 60 swings in batting practice, took grounders and ran from first to third.

“Things have gone well,” said Jeter, who is scheduled to workout Friday in Florida before departing for Trenton.

Also, converted reliever Mark Prior, on the DL at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of a strained groin, could throw batting practice Saturday.

Right-hander Rafael Soriano, out with right elbow inflammation, has started long toss sessions.

Associated Press photo

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Sabathia strikes out 13 to finish off series sweep06.30.11

CC Sabathia matched a career-high with 13 strikeouts, Mark Teixeira hit the 300th home run of his career and the Yankees finished off a series sweep with a 5-0 win against the Brewers. The Yankees have now won five in a row heading into this weekend’s Subway Series. Sabathia has won eight of his past nine starts, and he’s pitched through the seventh inning in his past six. He pitched 7.2 innings today, allowing six hits and two walks. Robinson Cano had a two-run double, Francisco Cervelli had two RBI singles and Teixeira hit his 25th homer of the season.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 85 Comments →

Game 79: Yankees vs. Brewers06.30.11

YANKEES (47-31)
Brett Gardner CF
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Andruw Jones LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena 3B

LHP CC Sabathia (10-4, 3.25)
Sabathia vs. Brewers

BREWERS (44-37)
Rickie Weeks 2B
Carlos Gomez CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder DH
Corey Hart RF
Casey McGehee 3B
Mat Gamel 1B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
George Kottaras C

LHP Randy Wolf (6-4, 3.20)
Wolf vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: A few clouds in the sky, but otherwise a perfect day for some afternoon baseball. Slight breeze blowing out to right field.

UMPIRES: HP Adrian Johnson, 1B Alan Porter, 2B Fieldin Culbreth, 3B Gary Cederstrom

CROSSING THE PLATE: Curtis Granderson has scored 70 runs, the most by any player through the end of June since 2008 when Lance Berkman and Ian Kinsler each had 72 heading into July. It’s the most by a Yankee through the end of June since Alex Rodriguez scored 73 times in 2007.

UNDER THE SUN: The Yankees are a Major League-best 22-4 in day games this season. Their pitchers have a 2.90 ERA in the day time.

CLOSING TIME: The Yankees are 18-8 in series finales. They’ve already clinched a series win against the Brewers.

TIME TO VOTE: Online voting for next month’s all-star game ends tonight at 11:59 p.m. Roughly 11 hours left to cast your votes.

UPDATE, 1:29 p.m.: Right now the Yankees have one hit, two runs and three stolen bases.

UPDATE, 1:41 p.m.: Kevin Whelan, Jesus Montero and Jorge Vazquez have been named to the International League all-star team. Recent Yankees prospect Zach McAllister — now playing in the Indians system — also made the team.

UPDATE, 2:02 p.m.: Six strikeouts through two innings for Sabathia.

UPDATE, 2:06 p.m.: That’s 25 home runs this season and 300 home runs in his career for Mark Teixeira. It’s also a 3-0 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: This must be the Sabathia the Brewers remember. The big man is rolling. He’s already matched a season-high with nine strikeouts. He’s also at 79 pitches through five innings.

UPDATE, 3:17 p.m.: Sabathia has already matched his career-high for strikeouts with 13. Now he’s one batter away from finishing off the eighth inning.

On a random note, every game around this time, someone from the Yankees media relations department announces the attendance through an intercom system in the press box. Today, Bernie Williams made the announcement. It was pretty funny. He’s here for an event at the stadium.

UPDATE, 3:21 p.m.: Sabathia walks off to a standing ovation, leaving Boone Logan to face Prince Fielder with two outs in the eighth. At 118 pitches, Sabathia was one away from a season-high. He hasn’t thrown more than 109 since the end of May.

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Pregame notes: Yankees considering a six-man rotation06.30.11

With Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes on the verge of returning from the disabled list, the Yankees seem to have six starting pitchers for five rotation spots. Or do they?

Joe Girardi said this morning that the Yankees will consider going to a six-man rotation.

“It’s something we’re going to think about,” he said.

A six-man rotation would complicate things because some starters — like CC Sabathia — don’t like extra rest. A case could be made that some veterans — like Colon and Freddy Garcia — could benefit from the extra day.

“Do we feel a guy needs an extra-day off?” Girardi said. “Do you skip a guy just to give him a little extra rest in one spot? There’s just some different things that you could do to be creative with the rotation if you do a six-man. Do, all of a sudden, you need one guy in the bullpen because your bullpen was fried the day before? Those are all things you have to consider if you do that.”

It’s a complicated situation with Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova all pitching well out of the rotation. Colon seems almost certain to take Brian Gordon’s rotation spot on Saturday, but will Colon stay there or move back into a relief role? If Hughes gets one more minor league start, would the Yankees bump A.J. Burnett next Saturday so that Hughes could get one start before the all-star break?

“It’s all things we have to figure out in the next couple of days,” Girardi said. “It’s somewhat complicated, but we need to figure it out.”

• The Yankees haven’t officially announced Colon as Saturday’s starter, but Colon said today’s bullpen went well. He seems to believe he’ll be starting on Saturday.

• Sergio Mitre is active, but I never saw him in the clubhouse this morning. It was a late report, with no batting practice on the field, so it’s entirely possible — even likely — that Mitre is here, just didn’t step into the clubhouse while I was there.

• The Yankees are playing in a National League park this weekend, which means Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez will be in the lineup and in the field all three days. With no DH the next three days, Girardi decided to give those two a break today. “Sometimes you just look at your guys and you feel that they need a day off,” he said.

• Girardi wasn’t sure what Derek Jeter did today in Tampa, but he said it’s still possible that Jeter will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday and join the Yankees early next week.

• Joba Chamberlain said his Tommy John elbow actually feels no different. His wrist is actually more sore. That’s where the doctors removed a tendon to repair the elbow.

• Phil Hughes said he feels ready to pitch in the big leagues, but he hasn’t been told where he’ll make his next start. He said his stuff and command were good enough yesterday to pitch at this level.

• Hughes bought a spread for the Trenton clubhouse after both of his rehab starts. “It’s costing me a fortune with these rehab starts,” he said, mostly joking. Hughes was laughing at what the Thunder might expect Jeter to buy them. Hughes suggested Ruth’s Chris for everyone!

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 51 Comments →

No A-Rod, No Granderson, No Martin06.30.11

Brett Gardner CF
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada DH
Andruw Jones LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena 3B

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 399 Comments →

Sabathia: “You felt the responsibility to go out there”06.30.11

CC Sabathia pitched only three months with the Brewers.

He didn’t win a Cy Young or a World Series with the team, and he left for New York the following offseason, but in those three months Sabathia established a legitimate legacy in Milwaukee.

“I think I’ve had some pretty good stretches,” he said. “But not like that one.”

This afternoon, Sabathia will face the Brewers for the first time since he almost single-handedly carried the team into the playoffs in 2008. Traded from Cleveland in early July, Sabathia made 17 starts for Milwaukee that season. He pitched seven complete games, got 11 wins, had a 1.65 ERA and finished fifth in Cy Young voting despite spending half of the season in the American League.

He was heading toward free agency, but Sabathia made his final three starts on short rest, including a complete-game four-hitter in the final game of the season, which clinched a playoff spot.

“Sheets had gone down and got hurt, Yovani was still on the DL with the knee, so we really didn’t have anybody,” he said. “We were so close. Like I said, I felt so comfortable on that team that you felt the responsibility to go out there… I really didn’t want the season to end so I was trying to do whatever I can to try to keep us going as long as possible.”

Or, as Joe Girardi put it: “It was almost like he said, ‘Jump on my back, guys. Here we go.’”

It was a remarkable run while it was happening, and it’s hard to forget it three years later. Sabathia said his agent got mad at him in that final month. He didn’t want his client risking injury when free agency was only a few weeks away. Sabathia finally stopped answering his phone when his agent called.

“We probably didn’t even talk the last two weeks of the season,” Sabathia said. “I just stopped wanting to hear it.”

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “My main focus is on calling a good game”06.30.11

Russell Martin was hitting .293 with six home runs at the end of April. Since the first of May, he was hitting .190 with three homers, two doubles and 12 RBI in 36 games. Martin entered tonight’s game as easily the coldest player in an otherwise red-hot Yankees lineup.

“The good thing about Russ is that he can go 0-for-30 and you’d never know it,” A.J. Burnett said. “He cares more about harnessing us and taking care of us (pitchers). The homers and the hits will come.”

A big hit came tonight. Martin’s three-run homer was a game-changer, a go-ahead shot to left field that was his first extra-base hit in 68 at-bats.

“As long as we’re winning, it doesn’t bother me as much,” Martin said. “If we were losing more, it would probably affect me more. I go out there and my main focus is on calling a good game whether I’m doing it with the bat or not.”

Through that first month, Martin’s impact on this team was easy to notice. There were numbers and highlights to prove it. He was the new guy, and he was hammering the ball. These past two months, Martin’s impact has been behind the plate and in the clubhouse. The players seem to respond to him, a more soft-spoken version of Nick Swisher. I wrote a few days ago that, while being around this team, Martin’s felt like an all-star, no matter what the numbers have suggested.

It’s also worth remembering that Martin has dealt with toe and back injuries. He’s also been run over at the plate, and he’s been knocked in the head by a back swing. Joe Girardi said he thought the toe bothered Martin quite a bit, and Martin said he’s only recently started to feel like himself at the plate. But even through this slump, he’s had an impact. With a brand new pitching staff, he’s developed immediate relationships, and he’s not let offensive struggles affect his defensive approach.

“You wouldn’t know if he didn’t get another hit the rest of the month because he cares so much about us,” Burnett said. “That’s his main priority… When you meet between home and the mound and the catcher’s got this voice where you know it’s coming from his heart, it makes you believe in that pitch. It’s fun to work with him.”

Here’s Martin.

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• In case you missed it, here’s a quick summary of the pregame injury updates: Brian Cashman said there’s a “good likelihood” that Bartolo Colon will start on Saturday, he said Phil Hughes’ stuff is ready for the big leagues but the Yankees have to decide whether to stretch him out further, and Cashman said it’s possible Derek Jeter will begin a rehab assignment on Saturday and return during next week’s Cleveland series.

• When Sergio Mitre was designated for assignment, I texted two of my writer friends and predicted he’d be with the Yankees by the weekend. Burnett said he and CC Sabathia had a similar conversation in the dugout yesterday, saying they wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees found a way to get Mitre back in the bullpen. “Just shows you what we think of him,” Burnett said. “We believe in him.”

• Girardi said he expects Mitre to serve a long relief role similar to last year. He’ll be available on Thursday.

• Burnett got some help from his defense tonight — including a nice running catch by Curtis Granderson and a nice stop by Eduardo Nunez — and he took advantage for a strong seven-inning start that ended with a standing ovation. “I threw some changeups in counts tonight that were big pitches and I got some double plays,” Burnett said. “In the past, it would have been fastball, fastball, fastball.”

• I’d never thought of this, but Burnett mentioned it after the game: Before coming to New York, Burnett never played for a team that always packed a stadium like the Yankees, so he never really experienced this sort of standing ovation until he got to New York. “I get goose bumps right now thinking about it,” he said.

• Burnett’s night ended on Nunez’s 10th error of the season, but Burnett made sure to talk to his shortstop before walking off the mound. “He was kind of the last one to come to the mound, and I was like, are you going to smile or what?” Burnett said. “You can’t forget the play he made earlier… He can play behind me any time.”

• Another escape act for Robertson, who struck out two of the four batters he faced. His ERA is down to 1.11.

• Speaking of the bullpen, Mariano Rivera got his 21st save. He’s converted 26 consecutive interleague save chances at home, dating back to June 14, 2001. He hasn’t allowed a run in those games. He’s struck out 32.

• Jorge Posada’s sixth-inning home run was the eighth time a play was reviewed at Yankee Stadium, including the postseason. I twa sthe second call reversed via replay. “I saw that the ball hit something out there above the wall,” Posada said.

• For the second night in a row, the Yankees won despite being outhit.

• Martin homered on an 0-2 pitch for the second time in his career. His 68 at-bats without an extra-base hit was a career-long stretch. That’s according to Elias. I didn’t know that off the top of my head.

• Joba Chamberlain was back with the team tonight. He came to town to have his stitches removed.

• Former Yankees reliever Luis Vizcaino has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

• I’m sure I’ll mention it again, but I’m going to host a chat at noon on Friday leading into this weekend’s Subway Series. Stop by!

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 589 Comments →

Yankees add Mitre06.29.11

Most predictable move ever…

The Yankees have acquired Sergio Mitre from the Brewers in exchange for cash. He’ll be with the team tomorrow.

Buddy Carlyle has been designated for assignment.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 168 Comments →

Yankees keep winning against Brewers06.29.11

A four-run fourth inning erased an early deficit and sent the Yankees to a 5-2 win against the Brewers tonight. It was the Yankees fourth straight win and their 14th win in the past 18 games. Russell Martin delivered the big blow with a three-run home run in the fourth. Nick Swisher had already tied it with an RBI single and Jorge Posada later added a solo homer. A.J. Burnett pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. Dave Robertson stranded two runners in the eighth and Mariano Rivera picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 20 Comments →

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