The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for September, 2011

Rodriguez scratched09.28.11

Alex Rodriguez has been scratched from the lineup. His right knee is sore.

Jeter SS
Granderson CF
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Swisher RF
Jones LF
Montero C
Nunez 2B
Laird 3B

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

Pregame notes: You were expecting decisions?09.28.11

Joe Girardi made three announcements about his division series roster.

1. CC Sabathia will start Game 1.
2. Mariano Rivera will be on the roster.
3. Ivan Nova will start Game 2.

“We haven’t completely made our roster, and some of it’s going to depend on who we’re going to play, and we still don’t know that,” Girardi said. “We’re fairly close, but there are some decisions that have to be made depending on who we play.”

I guess locking Nova into Game 2 is a mild bit of news, but that was pretty much the assumption. Girardi said his Game 3 starter doesn’t really depend on the opponent, but he’s still not ready to announce it. He said there are “two or three” decisions that still have to be made.

And there’s a good chance nothing will be official until tomorrow’s workout at the stadium.

“I should know who we’re playing,” Girardi said. “Hopefully they don’t pay until 4 tomorrow afternoon. We’ll talk about it when we come in tomorrow and I’ll probably have most of the decisions made.”

• Girardi said he chose Dellin Betances to start today’s game largely because he expected to use Betances anyway, and he’s used to being a starter. “We probably won’t go long with him, I mean, we’re not asking him to give us five or six innings,” Girardi said. “We just figured it was the best time to pitch him.”

• Girardi said he’s expecting two or three innings out of Betances. Ultimately, he’s expecting to use a lot of young relievers. Boone Logan, Luis Ayala and Phil Hughes are the big league guys expected to pitch.

• Hughes didn’t start because Girardi wants him to once again get loose and get in the game. It’s one more chance to readjust to life in the bullpen.

• Girardi said he’s planning to stick with this heart-of-the-order against lefties. He likes having Rodriguez hitting behind Cano for protection.

• Why Montero behind the plate? “With some of the younger kids throwing, Montero has a better idea of what they’re doing,” Girardi said. “He caught most of these guys at Triple-A this year.”

• Montero would DH more often against Texas, making Romine more necessary if that’s the opponent? “That’s a pretty good assumption,” Girardi said.

• Will the regulars play all game? “We’ll just kind of see how it goes,” Girardi said. “We’ll go along with the game and see how it goes. Will I play them all nine innings? Maybe not. My first priority is taking care of my guys, and I’ve got to do it.”

• If Derek Jeter gets his batting average above .300, would Girardi pull him? “That’s something I’ll talk to him about,” Girardi said.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 205 Comments →

Montero behind the plate09.28.11

Looks like Cano is not falling all the way back down to fifth against lefties, instead Cano and Rodriguez are swapping spots.

Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Andruw Jones LF
Jesus Montero C
Eduardo Nunez 2B

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 446 Comments →

Betances starting tonight09.28.11

Looks like Dellin Betances is getting the start tonight. It will be his second big league appearance. After his four-walk debut, Betances said he was hoping for one more chance.

“I was mostly throwing the ball instead of pitching, and that’s one of the things that hurt me,” he said. “I’m just glad to get the first one out of the way, and I hope that I get the chance to pitch one more time and redeem myself from this one.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 449 Comments →

Yankees decision makers pondering roster possibilities09.28.11

With Brian Cashman in town, the Yankees coaching staff had its first official playoff roster discussion yesterday. They’ll continue that conversation this afternoon, and likely won’t finalize anything until a division series opponent is set.

“We’ll let what was said be digested from everybody involved and we’ve got to go over some advance scouting stuff (today),” Cashman said. “Prior to that or after that, we’ll pick it up again… There are certain aspects of the roster that are a lot more discussable than others. I know one thing, it’s going to be hard. We’ve got a lot of talent there.”

Cashman wouldn’t say who expects to fill the rotation, but he doesn’t see that as the most pressing issue.

“I think our pitching is a lot better than we’re getting credit for,” he said. “I don’t feel like we’re trying to come up with a third starter. I don’t feel that way at all. I think it’s more the bench that is really the big focus, and how does the pen round out? That’s going to be the big thing.”

On the bench, the biggest question seems to be whether or not to carry a true backup catcher.

“I don’t want to get specific,” Cashman said. “Joe has already said publicly Montero is on. It’s really Romine, if he makes it or doesn’t make it.”

In the bullpen, the Yankees have to sort through leftover starters and situational relievers.

“Usually you got to cut down from five to three (starters) in the postseason so there’s two guys who are going to have to go to the pen, or off the roster,” Cashman said. “I’m sure those two would rather be active than not, but there is an unknown about how they’ll handle it mentally and physically, and how they can perform. It’s unknown. You don’t know.”

On the possibility of carrying a second lefty:

“It’s a discussion point,” Cashman said. “That’s one area that (the opponent) would probably apply, if you’re playing an offense with a lot of lefties and stuff like that. That could necessitate something. That’s probably the only place the opponent really comes into play, with Valdes.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 474 Comments →

Cano takes his spot as the Yankees best hitter09.28.11

Back in 2009, Robinson Cano hit .207 with runners in scoring position. He had 25 home runs that year, and he hit for average against both lefties and righties, but Cano was his worst when had had a chance to do some damage.

“He’s a totally different guy (now),” manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he’s learned to relax in those spots, learned how to drive in multiple runs when there’s multiple guys on. Not just a single, but to drive the ball. He’s grown leaps and bounds.”

Yesterday, Girardi essentially acknowledged that Cano has become the Yankees best all-around hitter. It might have been obvious already, but last night Girardi moved Cano into the spot in the order usually reserved for a team’s top offensive player.

Curtis Granderson might finish ahead of Cano in the MVP race, but this is clearly Cano’s team. He’s not the biggest name, but he’s the biggest bat.

“The first year that I was hitting fifth, I was like 0-for-20 and they moved me back to sixth,” Cano said. “Alex (Rodriguez) helped me a lot. We talked a little bit about it and did some work together in spring training on the back field, and it’s been working really good.

“…What I’ve been doing this year with men on base, I’m not going to change anything. Just keep doing my job, forget that I’m hitting third because I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I’ll just keep playing my game, help the team win a game and help the team win in the postseason.”

Here’s Cano speaking before yesterday’s game.

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Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 523 Comments →

Postgame notes: Bartolo’s last stand?09.27.11

There’s a chance Bartolo Colon has thrown his last pitch in pinstripes.

In a spring training clubhouse that had quite a few unknowns, Colon was perhaps the greatest wild card. For a while, he was the Yankees most unexpected surprise.

“In spring training he was phenomenal,” catcher Russell Martin said. “In his bullpens — he’s always been known as a strike thrower — but his command was unbelievable. He doesn’t have the best offspeed in the world, but when his sinker’s working really well, it doesn’t really matter.

“… He did a great job for us, especially early in the season when he really had control of the sinker. He was pretty much untouchable for a while there. As we went along, he kind of wasn’t as consistent as the year went along, but he still kept us in a lot of games. I definitely take my cap off to that guy. He did a great job for us this year.”

Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit to any sort of role for Colon in the postseason. He said he’s still considering Colon for a spot in the rotation, and it’s possible the Yankees will carry him in the bullpen. Girardi also acknowledged that Colon’s velocity was once again lower than the Yankees saw in the first half, and he hasn’t won a game since July 30. He’ll finish the season with a 4.00 ERA.

“Bart was great for us this year,” Girardi said. “He picked us up at a time where we were struggling and weren’t sure what we were going to do with our starters. Bart was big for us.”

That’s hard to argue. In the first half, when Phil Hughes was on the disabled list and Ivan Nova had yet to emerge as a reliable big league starter, Colon was the Yankees second-best starter. He gave the Yankees more than they could have expected. Question is whether he will give them any more.

Here’s Girardi.

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• The first of two big blows against the Yankees came in the sixth inning, when Martin grounded into a triple play with the bases loaded. “I just hit it in the wrong spot,” Martin said. “It was the pitch I was looking for, I kind of had an idea he was going to start me with the changeup. It was really a good pitch to hit. It was changeup middle. I just got out in front and rolled over, and really just hit it in the wrong spot. He made a nice play, though.”

• The triple play was the third in Rays history. It was the first the Yankees hit into since 2000. They’ve hit into 25 in franchise history. “As soon as I hit it, I just put my head down,” Martin said. “I knew what was happening… I was trying to get down the line as fast as I could, and just not fast enough. It sucked.”

• The second big blow against the Yankees came in the seventh, when Rafael Soriano gave up the game-winning, three-run home run to Matt Joyce. “It was the walks that killed him tonight,” Girardi said. “If you’re going to have it happen, get it out of the way tonight. He’s been so good for us, I don’t make much of it. Robby comes in and throws well, Mo comes in and throws well, so we move on.”

• Girardi said he’ll try to get Boone Logan and Luis Ayala some work tomorrow night (which seemed to suggest Ayala has a spot on the postseason roster). “I feel good about our bullpen,” Girardi said.

• The Yankees still have not chosen a starter for tomorrow’s game. “I can’t start A.J., I can’t start Freddy, I can’t start Bart, I can’t start CC,” Girardi said. “We’re going to talk about it. That’s all we can do and well figure it out. I will have a starter by 7:10.”

• Alex Rodriguez was pulled from the game strictly to let him rest. He’s not hurt.

• Girardi said he’s still planning to have his regulars — including Rodriguez — in the lineup tomorrow. He’s not sure how long they’ll play.

• Girardi on the Rays decision to intentionally walk Robinson Cano to face Rodriguez with two on in the third inning: “Robbie’s swinging a great bat. We’re just trying to make it as difficult on teams as possible. When you’re swinging that great, they’re going to do that.”

• Johnny Damon passed Lou Gehrig for 57th place on baseball’s all-time hits list with 2,722. He’s two shy of tying Roberto Alomar for 56th.

• Colon is the first Yankees pitcher to go winless in 10 or more consecutive starts since Ian Kennedy from Sept. 7, 2007 to Aug. 8, 2008. So, obviously Colon will be in the Cy Young mix in the National League in three years.

• The last Yankees starter to go at least 10 starts without a win in a single season was Dvaid Cone in 2000. Cone with 15 straight.

• The Joyce home run was the first Soriano had allowed on the road this season.

• Martin has 18 homers in 417 at-bats this season. He had 12 homers in 836 at-bats from 2009 through 2010. Tonight he hit his first home run since going deep twice on August 25.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 211 Comments →

Yankees loss keeps Red Sox on the ropes09.27.11

The Yankees had a chance to give the Red Sox a one-game lead in the wild card race. Instead, Rafael Soriano gave up a three-run home run in the seventh inning and the Rays beat the Yankees 5-3 in the next-to-last game of the season. Assuming the Red Sox hang on to beat Baltimore — they’re up by four — the Rays and Red Sox will remain tied heading into tomorrow’s season finale. Bartolo Colon was better than he was in his previous two starts, allowing two runs on seven hits through 5.1 innings. The shuffled middle of the order played little part in the outcome, and the biggest blow against the Yankees — other than Matt Joyce’s homer — came with Russell Martin grounded into a triple play with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 249 Comments →

Game 161: Yankees at Rays09.27.11

YANKEES (97-63)
Eduardo Nunez SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Russell Martin C
Brett Gardner LF

RHP Bartolo Colon (8-10, 4.02)
Colon vs. Rays

RAYS (89-71)
Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS

RHP Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.90)
Hellickson vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:10., MY9

WEATHER: Still rainy outside. Still loving the dome.

UMPIRES: HP Chad Fairchild, 1B Joe West, 2B Sam Holbrook, 3B Paul Schrieber

BEYOND SPORTS UNITED: Today, more than 70 sports teams from across the United States and the world gathered at Beyond Sport United at Yankee Stadium. The unique event assembles influential figures from all major U.S. sports and their teams to address their role in triggering positive social change in the communities they serve.

GOING DEEP: The Yankees lead the Majors with 218 home runs. They’ve hit 96 on the road and 122 at home. The Yankees are one of only two teams to record 200 homers this season (Texas has 203) and they have reached the plateau for the 11th time in the past 12 years (all but 2008).

ON THIS DATE: On September 27, 1998, the yankees beat Tampa Bay on the season’s finale day to improve to 114-48, a .704 winning percentage. They were the first team since the 194 Indians to finish with a winning percentage higher than .700.

UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: First Johnny Damon passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time hits list, then Ben Zobrist hit a 1-2 pitch for a two-run home run and a 2-0 Rays lead in the second inning.

UPDATE, 7:52 p.m.: Martin goes deep and it’s a 2-1 Rays lead in the third.

UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Wow. Pitching around Cano to face Rodriguez with two on in the third inning.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: Granderson managed to tie the game, but he did it with a double-play ball to short. It’s 2-2 in the fifth as Joyce runs down a fly ball by Cano.

UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the sixth, but Martin just grounded into a triple play with the bases loaded. That’s a punch to the gut (or it would be if this game mattered to the Yankees).

UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: There goes that. Soriano walked two straight, then gave up a three-run homer to Matt Joyce, and it’s now a 5-3 Rays lead in the seventh.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 645 Comments →

Pregame notes: “I don’t see why it wouldn’t work”09.27.11

It’s been a few days since Joe Girardi approached Mark Teixeira with the idea of moving Robinson Cano up to the third spot in the batting order. The move would have happened sooner, but it’s been a while since Cano, Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez were in the same lineup together.

“I told Joe, not only am I for it, I think it’s a great idea,” Teixeira said. “Obviously, left-handed, my average isn’t where it should be, and Robbie’s had a great season. He’s hot – he’s really hot – and why not mix it up against a righty and hit him third… I think that’s the plan (for the playoffs). I think we’re going to see how it works, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.”

Chances are, the Yankees are going to stick with this lineup into the postseason, but only against right-handers. Girardi said he’s “leaning” toward going back to the old alignment against lefties. Teixeira is still a good all-around hitter against left-handers, and Girardi likes the idea of splitting lefties Cano and Curtis Granderson.

“The thing about managing here is that we have a lot of really good hitters,” Girardi said. “We have a lot of guys who could hit third in other lineups. You try to space it out, try to make it difficult for teams to navigate through. We’re moving Robbie to the three-hole against right-handers and it’s something we could do against lefties, too.”

Teixeira said he’s been working with Kevin Long on changing his approach against right-handers. He’s squared up his stance a little bit, and he’s trying to use the whole field a little more. He admitted that the right-field porch at Yankee Stadium became a little too tempting and got him into some bad habits after his strong 2009 season. Now the defensive shift is frustrating him, and Teixeira is trying to correct the problem without losing his power.

“You don’t want me to turn into a slap hitter,” he said. “But at the same time, I think if I use a little bit more of the field – a little bit more of center field – some of those balls will start falling. I can’t get a ground ball hit left-handed right now. That’s not good for your average, so I need to kind of focus on keeping the ball up the middle and trying to use all of the field… I’m greedy. I want to have it all. I want to get back to being a high-.200s (or) .300s type hitter with the same amount of home runs and RBIs, and I think I can do that again. Actually, I know I can do that again.”

Girardi also admitted that it’s been hard not to notice that teams have been pitching around Cano lately, and that played a role in this decision.

“Hitting in the third spot, it’s a lot of responsibility,” Cano said. “You have to do everything right. You’re going to get pitches to hit because you’ve got a guy behind you that they don’t want to face, either. It’s a situation now where I’m going to get better pitches, so I have to continue doing what I’m doing right now. That’s not going to change my mindset. I’m going to keep playing my game and swing at strikes.”

Here’s Teixeira. He was good talking about his struggles and his attempts to fix them.

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• Major League Baseball has announced that the first game of the Yankees division series will be an 8:37 p.m. first pitch on Friday. The other American League division series will be a 5:07 start, but of course the Yankees got the late game.

• If the Red Sox and Rays have to play a tiebreaker, that game will be at 4:07 p.m. on Thursday.

• Derek Jeter has a standard day off. “He’s played the last three days in a row and I just thought I’d give him a day off,” Girardi said. “He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

• Actually, Girardi said he expects to have most of his regulars in the starting lineup for tomorrow’s regular season finale.

• Still no Yankees starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game. Girardi said it depends on who pitches tonight. It could be almost anyone.

• Regardless of the score, Girardi definitely plans to use Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano tonight, and he’ll probably pitch Mariano Rivera. He wants to get them into tonight’s game, then rest them tomorrow and Thursday.

• The Yankees coaching staff met with Brian Cashman today to talk about the postseason roster. “We do have some of the answers, but we don’t have all of the answers,” Girardi said. “We threw a lot of ideas out there. It’s something we have to chew on for a little bit. We have time. Some of it depends on who we play, but we did make some progress.”

• One thing that has been decided is that the Yankees will carry an extra position player in the division series. Girardi said the Yankees will carry 11 pitchers at the most, and they might carry only 10.

• Still no official decision on whether the Yankees will carry three or four starters in the division series, but Girardi said it’s “very possible.”

Desmond Jennings LF
B.J. Upton CF
Evan Longoria 3B
Matt Joyce RF
Johnny Damon DH
Ben Zobrist 2B
Sean Rodriguez 1B
Kelly Shoppach C
Reid Brignac SS

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 405 Comments →

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