The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Archive for May, 2012

Minor league affiliates participating in HOPE Week05.31.12

Good work by the Yankees to spread a really nice event throughout the organization. The big league club will host HOPE Week from June 25-29, and this year the minor league clubs are getting involved. Here’s the announcement from the team…

Today the Yankees announced the expansion of HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) in 2012. Throughout the season, five Yankees minor league affiliates — the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, Trenton Thunder, Tampa Yankees, Charleston RiverDogs and Staten Island Yankees — will host their own community events, designed to bring to light remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.

In following the model established in 2009, each of the five minor league affiliates will reach out to individuals, families and organizations worthy of recognition and support, recognizing honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments. With outreach often taking place away from the ballpark, Yankees minor league players, coaches and staff will be able to personally connect with participants.

“As an organization, we have seen firsthand the positive impact HOPE Week has made in our community,” said Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman. “We’ve found that giving back is contagious. One of the goals of the initiative has been to inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and I’m proud that our affiliates are expanding this tradition by joining our efforts.”

The Tampa Yankees will be the first club to host HOPE Week in 2012, as they highlight their five stories from June 4-8.

2012 MINOR LEAGUE AFFILIATE HOPE WEEK DATES

Triple-A Scranton/WB Yankees: Tentatively scheduled for early August

Double-A Trenton Thunder: June 19-22 and June 25

Single-A Tampa Yankees: June 4-8

Single-A Charleston RiverDogs: June 25-29

Short-Season Single-A Staten Island Yankees: TBA in August

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Nova: “I’m not pitching good right now”05.31.12

Don’t let two consecutive wins fool you, Ivan Nova is not happy with the way he’s been pitching lately.

“Listen, I’m not pitching good right now,” he said after last night’s high-wire act. “I’m not pitching good. I mean, it’s hard, it’s hard when you’re not pitching good, especially when you know that you’re better than what you’re showing right now. It’s really hard for me. So I think I’ve got to enjoy this win today, the team win. That’s the most important thing. Keep my head up and go back to work. I know at some point this year I’m going to start pitching better, and I hope it’s going to be soon. I still have a lot of confidence in myself and I know I can get out of bad situations.”

At 6-2, Nova is tied with CC Sabathia for the Yankees best record. He has the longest road winning streak of any Yankees pitcher since 1995. The Yankees have won eight of his 10 starts this season.

But Nova’s 5.60 ERA is only .04 lower than Phil Hughes ERA, and even though Hughes struggled on Monday, Nova’s been the lesser pitcher this month. He’s allowed at least five earned runs in five of his past seven starts. Last night he had more walks than strikeouts for the second time this season.

Thing is, Nova’s fastball velocity has been good. Less than two weeks ago, his slider was so sharp he struck out 12 batters in a game. He’s walked more than three batters in a game only once this season, and he’s generally pitched fairly deep into games. Only Sabathia has thrown more innings for the Yankees.

So what’s the problem, and what does Nova need to do to fix it?

“Pitch better,” he said with no hint of sarcasm. “Because my arm feels really good. I just got to pitch better. I just got to do what I have to do out there, and hopefully we can do that soon. … I mean, the first couple of innings I start really good, with all my pitches down, and then I start leaving them up, and then I start making mistakes. But I think it’s something I have to work on mentally, because I feel really good. I think it’s something mentally I’ve got to correct and try to do. Don’t try, just do it.”

Associated Press photo

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The system’s best after two months05.31.12

It hasn’t been quite two months, but the last day of May seems to be a pretty solid time to look at the best of the best in the Yankees minor league system. From an organizational pool ranging from Low-A to Triple-A, here’s an organizational all-star team at this point in the season.

Catcher
Gary Sanchez, Charleston
A surprisingly easy choice considering the Yankees are supposed to be loaded at the position. With Jesus Montero gone, Austin Romine hurt and J.R. Murphy struggling, Sanchez is the easy standout. He’s hitting .287/.339/.461 with the third-most RBI in the organization. Special credit goes to Sanchez’s backup, Francisco Arcia, who’s hit .410 with 22 RBI as a part-time player.

First base
Steve Pearce, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Signed just before the Yankees broke camp, Pearce has been the best all-around hitter in the Yankees system other than Tyler Austin (and hit batting average and on-base percentage are both better than Austin). Pearce can play a little bit of third base and the outfield corners, but he’s getting the vast majority of his time at first base where he’s leading the organization in average while hitting 11 home runs and 14 doubles as Scranton’s No. 3 hitter.

Second base
Angelo Gumbs, Charleston
There’s really no other choice here. Scranton and Trenton have been rotating players at second base — Kevin Russo and Kevin Mahoney have been very good but have spent most of their time playing elsewhere — and Tampa’s second baseman is Kelvin Castro who’s barely hitting .200 with 14 errors. That leaves Gumbs, who might have been a terrible choice in April, but his month of May has been an impressive combination of power, speed and batting average. He leads the system in stolen bases.

Third base
Rob Segedin, Tampa
I’m cheating a little bit on this one. Most of Segedin’s time has come in right field this season, but he was drafted as a third baseman and has 16 starts there this year (including his past two games). Wherever he’s played, Segedin has hit. He’s batting .294/.357/.461 and leads the organization in doubles (he leads Tampa in just about everything). The Yankees like the idea of a four-corners utility man, which makes Segedin worth watching.

Shortstop
Jose Mojica, Tampa
Honestly, there’s no good choice here. Mojica gets the nod for playing 44 games at the position and making just four errors, but he’s hitting just .256 with a sub-.300 on base percentage and only one home run. Down in Charleston, Cito Culver has one more RBI than Mojica, but he’s also hit for less power while making nearly three times as many errors. Unless Culver emerges — the Yankees seem to think that will happen eventually — or Claudio Custodio impresses in short-season ball, shortstop is a clear a weak spot in the organization.

Left field
Ronnier Mustelier, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Primarily an outfielder now that he’s moved up to Triple-A, Mustelier got most of his time at third base when he was in Trenton to start the year. For this exercise, his best fit is in left. Emerging as an intriguing hitter, the Cuban utility man has a powerful bat and enough defensive flexibility to play second, third and all over the outfield. He has the second-highest batting average and the second-most RBI in the organization.

Center field
Mason Williams, Charleston
His first month was better than his second month, but Williams is still an easy choice here. He’s hitting .286/.344/.434 as a 20-year-old in Low-A, and he’s the system’s top center fielder without serious competition while Ravel Santana and Slade Heathcott are stuck in extended spring. Melky Mesa and Abraham Almonte have had spurts of success in Trenton, but Williams is clearly the choice here.

Right field
Tyler Austin, Charleston
The early pick for organizational Player of the Year, Austin is a converted corner infielder who’s getting his first extended look in right field. Early reviews of his defense have been positive, but it’s his bat that makes him special. He easily leads the system in RBI and slugging percentage, and just when he seemed to be having a slow month of May, he’s come through with 14 hits in his past six games. His .323/.397/.661 slash line is impossible to ignore.

Designated hitter
Cody Johnson, Trenton
Really, you can take your pick between Johnson and Scranton’s Jack Cust. Both are home run hitters who strike out a lot. Cust has managed to keep his on-base percentage above .400, but Johnson has more home runs, more RBI and a .581 slugging percentage that’s only one point lower than Pearce’s .582. Johnson has played a little bit of outfield this year, but is really just a bat.

Starting pitcher
Bryan Mitchell, Charleston
Brett Marshall, Trenton
Caleb Cotham, Tampa
Seemed silly to pick just one starting pitcher. Why pick three? I honestly don’t know, just seemed like a good number. If you want to choose just one, Mitchell is probably your guy. He leads the organization with 52 strikeouts, and those come with a 2.40 ERA and a .182 opponents batting average. Higher in the system, Marshall is emerging. While much of the Triple-A rotation has been either hurt, underperforming or pitching out of the big league bullpen, Marshall is making a case for promotion with his 2.69 ERA for the season (1.69 in his past five starts). Cotham has already been promoted, moving up from Charleston after a 2.31 ERA, 32 strikeouts and seven walks through eight starts.

Relief pitcher
Mark Montgomery, Tampa
With apologies to Ryan Flannery, Phillip Wetherell and Kevin Whelan, Montgomery is the top reliever in the system right now. On Tuesday he allowed a run for only the second time since his season debut. He has eight saves, a 1.46 ERA and opponents are hitting .167 against him. But what stands out about Montgomery are the strikeouts. He has 39 of them in 24.2 innings. He’s walked eight batters. He’s in Tampa for now, but it seems only a matter of time before he’s moved up to Trenton.

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Rodriguez: “Sort of a less-is-more approach”05.31.12

I usually don’t play this game because it almost always lacks proper context, but in this case, I think it’s an interesting comparison.

Player A: .283/.370/.424 with a .794 OPS
Player B: .299/.372/.423 with a .794 OPS

Player A, you might have guessed, is Alex Rodriguez this season. He’s hit for an average perfectly comparable to some of his all-star seasons, with an on-base percentage not far away from his career numbers. But his slugging percentage has taken an enormous hit, by far the worst of his career.

Player B is Kenny Lofton.

“If I get a night like (Tuesday) night where I’m on base four times, I’ll take that all day long,” Rodriguez said. “That is, to me, the equivalent of hitting a couple of doubles or a home run. At the end of the day, those guys behind me are very talented , and they’re going to be driving in runs.”

Hard to tell whether Rodriguez actually believes himself when he says that, but it’s certainly hard to imagine one of the game’s greatest sluggers being satisfied hitting like a leadoff man without the speed. Lofton was a perfectly good player, but he wasn’t a No. 3 hitter and he wasn’t a Hall of Famer.

“Everyone gets caught up in home runs,” Joe Girardi said. “I get caught up in runs and RBI. That’s what I get caught up in. You go out and try to swing for the fences every time and hit .200, that’s not what we want. We want him to get on base, and we want him to be productive. However that happens, I don’t care. I don’t care if it’s bloop singles with the bases loaded every time. I really don’t. I get on K-Long when guys line out. I say, ‘So?’ Bloop singles, I’ll take them.”

Of course, it’s worth noting that Rodriguez has 19 RBI and is on pace for 62, the same number he had last season when he was hurt through most of the year. When he reached base four times on Tuesday, it was on three singles and a hit by pitch. He didn’t score a run, didn’t drive in a run and the Yankees lost 5-1.

They haven’t lost a game or scored fewer than five runs when Rodriguez has homered.

“Obviously I wish I had 35 or 40 (RBI),” Rodriguez said. “That’s definitely a low number, but I’ll take nights like (Tuesday) night and keep building on that and trust that the guys in front of me will continue to get on, and those guys behind me will trust that I’ll continue to get on base for them. … I think overall, when you trust each other, that’s when your offense operates best. At the end of the day, whoever’s hitting behind — whether you walk once, twice — the more you get on base, eventually those guys are going to come up with a big hit. You’ve just got to keep giving them opportunities. That’s sort of a less-is-more approach.”

It’s a fine approach for leadoff hitters and bottom-of-the-order role players, but for Rodriguez?

Associated Press photo

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Depleted bullpen remains Yankees strength05.31.12

The Yankees have lost Mariano Rivera for the season, they’ve lost Dave Robertson for several weeks and they’re not getting Joba Chamberlain back any time soon. This bullpen has been picked apart, but the Yankees still have the second-lowest bullpen ERA in the American League, and they’re still able to win games like last night.

“It’s just different,” Joe Girardi said. “You can say it was easy to manage it before because I had 7-8-9 and I could use Boonie. The hard thing is when you don’t know what you have. I know what I have, and I know what I have to do, so you prepare for it. What it does is it changes how you use certain guys. I use Boonie a lot later than I would have. We’re just not as deep, and I have to be careful, because sometimes I might have to use three guys in one inning, in a sense, and you worry about using guys too much. It’s definitely different than what it was before, but it’s not a surprise every night. I know what I have to do.”

The key has been pitchers stepping into larger roles, from Rafael Soriano stepping into the ninth inning to Cody Eppley becoming an unexpected go-to relievers when there’s a right-hander at the plate and the Yankees need a ground ball. The team has been able to mix-and-match in some ways, but it’s also been able to simply slide pitchers into new roles. Soriano is the closer. Boone Logan and Cory Wade are the primary setup guys. Clay Rapada gets lefties, Eppley gets righties, Freddy Garcia is the long man and David Phelps is the jack-of-all-trades.

“I feel good when I do it in the ninth, or go in the eighth or the seventh with bases loaded sometimes with no outs, I like that,” Soriano said. “A lot of people don’t like it. Me, I like it. I love it.”

The Yankees knew they had a proven third-string closer in Soriano. Really, the key to making up for Rivera and Robertson has been carrying a lead into the ninth. It was depth that made the Yankees bullpen particularly special, and they’ve managed to maintain that largely because Wade and Logan have emerged as lock-down relievers. Between the two of them, they have 57 strikeouts and nine walks through 41.2 innings.

“I guess it’s a good thing, obviously,” Wade said. “To me whether it’s a strikeout or a ground out or a pop out, I don’t really care. I’m not going out trying to strike guys out. It’s just kind of happened. My job is to go get guys out as fast as I can.”

Associated Press photos

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Martin’s feud with Diaz adds odd twist to big win05.31.12

The Yankees got a big win last night, a win they badly needed heading into today’s off day.

“It’s nice, 4-2 so far on this road trip sounds a lot better than 3-3,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s perspective. If you start off 0-3 and end up 3-3, you’re pretty happy, but starting out 3-0 and the way we lost Monday, it’s a nice win.”

It’s a win that changes the way this team looks heading into a weekend series in Detroit. But in a long season, big wins come and go and often blend together, it’s the odd moments that truly stand out. That’s why, even after last night’s win, people are still talking about Russell Martin’s bizarre run in with Laz Diaz.

“Laz actually hurt my feelings,” Martin said. “The umpire wouldn’t let me throw the ball back to the pitcher. That’s never happened to me before. That’s a good story, right?”

It’s a strange story, that’s for sure. Martin said he and Diaz got into it a little bit early in the game, and from that moment on — even after Martin took a ball to the neck — Diaz wouldn’t let Martin throw new balls back to the pitcher.

“I even told him, because there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose,” Martin said. “Nope. (He said), ‘I’m not letting you throw the ball back.’ That’s pretty strange, to me. … He told me I have to earn the privilege. Now, thinking back, I should have shown him the gold Rawlings sign on my glove. Unbelievable.”

Equally unbelievable: Martin brought it up. I honestly didn’t notice it during the game — how often do you pay attention to whether the umpire or the catcher is throwing a fresh ball back to the mound? — and I don’t think any reporter would have asked about it had Martin not brought it up. He even went so far as to use a dirty word to describe Diaz, then said Diaz hold grudges. All of this could easily get Martin fined, but he seemed to not care in the slightest.

It was odd, and even after a game like last night, you always remember the odd things in this game.

“That was strange,” Martin said. “I was kinda mystified.”

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “That’s the whole job of the bullpen”05.31.12

If ever there were a game that called for Rafael Soriano, Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera, this was it. The Yankees had taken a one-run lead in the sixth, they badly needed a win heading into tomorrow’s off day, and the Angels surging offense hadn’t gone down quietly all series. This was a time to slam the door shut.

A picked apart bullpen got it down.

“It’s the difference in the game, what our bullpen did,” Joe Girardi said.

Without Robertson or Rivera, Cory Wade redeemed himself for Monday’s walk off and Rafael Soriano got the series’ hottest hitter to fly out with the winning run on base. As Russell Martin said, “It’s not the most stress-free win.” But it’s a win.

“Being in the situation of guys getting hurt, I’m just ready any time,” Wade said. “It doesn’t matter when I pitch. Getting outs is getting outs, whether it’s the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, it doesn’t matter. My job is to get outs, and that’s the whole job of the bullpen.”

Wade had coughed up Mark Trumbo’s walk-off on Monday, and after Boone Logan had a surprisingly rough outing — two singles to put the go ahead run at third with two outs in the seventh — Wade’s chance for redemption came against Howie Kendrick. Wade fell behind 3-0 and got some advice from Alex Rodriguez, who came to the mound.

“He just told me don’t do anything stupid,” Wade said. “It’s 3-0, we’ve got a base there. Don’t do anything dumb. You’ve got to in that situation. You can’t do anything stupid. He’s a good hitter, and you’ve got to weave your way out of the situation without giving him anything to hit. Hopefully he can get himself out.”

Wade got him swinging at a curveball, then he pitched a 1-2-3 eight to give the ball to Soriano. A walk and an infield single put the winning run on base, but Soriano pitched through it with a ground ball and a routine fly.

“Today’s a new day and everybody sticks together and feels good,” Soriano said. “Make a good pitch and get a good swing and see what happens. Tonight, get the win.”

• For the Yankees, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson went deep in a five-run third. For the Angels, Trumbo homered and Mike Trout had a two-run double in a four-run fourth. Other than that, this high-scoring game was really all about pitching. “We got them all really in one inning, is what we did,” Girardi said. “Nice at-bat by Grandy to work the count and finally get a fastball to hit the three-run homer, then Robbie Cano to hit the two-run homer. You take that inning away and you take Nova’s bad inning away, we might still be playing.”

• Ivan Nova got the win, but he wasn’t happy with his outing, saying flatly, “I’m not pitching good right now.” Russell Martin seemed to have a more in-depth analysis: “Nova had really good life on his fastball, but his secondary pitches seemed like he didn’t have the best feel for his curveball today,” Martin said. “We tried to mix it in there, get some first-pitch curveballs, but he just didn’t seem to have the feel for it. Just a little bit inconsistent. But for the most part he battled. Even without his best stuff, I feel like he gave us a good chance.”

• Martin blamed himself for the Trout double. He said he should have called slider instead of fastball. “Ended up calling more first-pitch sliders after that at-bat and it worked out for him,” Martin said. “Mark that one down in the notes there.”

• After tonight’s infield single, Albert Pujols is 5-for-5 with two doubles and a home run against Soriano. “I’ve got to talk to him,” Soriano said. “You have to let me sometime (get an out), because every time he hits a good pitch or something. I’ve got to talk to him. I’ll send a text message tonight and say, ‘Hey, let me, one time. Not every day, but one time because I have family too, and they have to eat.’ Every time. I do it at home, I throw a slider away and base hit. Tonight, same, ground ball, base hit. It’s like, come on Pujols. One time.”

• Girardi on Pujols’ numbers against Soriano: “You can look at that two ways. You can look at it as he’s due to get him out or you can say that he’s had some success off of him. I tried to look at it as he was due to get him out.”

• Martin took a ball to the throat tonight, but he said he was fine. He even joked that it was exactly what he needed to get rid of some of the neck stiffness he’s been dealing with lately. “I was happy,” he said, dripping with sarcasm. “I like getting hit in the neck.”

• Martin had more to say about home plate umpire Laz Diaz, who apparently wouldn’t let Martin throw new balls back to the pitcher after a ball was hit out of play. “He said that it was a privilege that I had to earn, for me to throw the ball back, because we kinda got into it with balls and strikes or whatever,” Martin said. He went on to call Diaz a name that can’t be printed in this space.

• The Angels speedy outfield had been causing problems for the Yankees all week, especially on Tuesday, but tonight, the Angels speed might have hurt them. The biggest hit of the game was Raul Ibanez’s triple just out of the reach of center fielder Peter Bourjos. It bounced off the wall, rolled away from Bourjos, and Ibanez scored on a sac fly. “If you have a slower center fielder, he might pull up,” Girardi said. “He was pretty close to getting it, and we ended up getting the triple, so in the one instance, it might have cost them.”

• Big play by Derek Jeter to keep Pujols’ infield single from getting into center field. If it had gotten into the outfield, the lead runner probably would have made it to third with one out, which woudl have changed that inning significantly.

• Nova has won 10 straight starts on the road, tying Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte for the longest such streak by a Yankees pitcher since 1995. He hasn’t lose on the road in 13 starts since June 20 of last year.

• The Yankees are now tied with Texas for the most home runs in the Majors.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees avoid sweep; win series finale05.31.12

The Yankees managed to get out of Anaheim with a win, fending off two late Angels rallies to win tonight’s series finale 6-5. Cory Wade struck out Howie Kendrick with runners at the corners in the seventh, then Rafael Soriano left two stranded in the ninth to close out the win. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each homered in a five-run third inning that gave the Yankees an early lead, but the Angels came right back to tie it with four-runs in the fourth. The biggest blow, it turned out, was a triple by Raul Ibanez, who scored the go-ahead run on Nick Swisher’s sacrifice fly. Ivan Nova allowed five runs through 6.2 innings but picked up his second straight win and sixth of the season.

Associated Press photo

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Game 50: Yankees at Angels05.30.12

YANKEES (26-23)
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez LF
Nick Swisher RF
Eric Chavez DH
Russell Martin C

RHP Ivan Nova (4-2, 5.69)
Nova vs. Angels

ANGELS (26-25)
Mike Trout LF
Alberto Callaspo 3B
Albert Pujols 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Mark Trumbo RF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Torii Hunter RF
Erick Aybar SS
Peter Bourjos CF
Bobby Wilson C

RHP Dan Haren (2-5, 3.76)
Santana vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 10:05 p.m., YES Network and ESPN2

WEATHER: Not looking forward to Detroit, let’s put it that way.

UMPIRES: HP Laz Diaz, 1B Mike Everitt, 2B Paul Schrieber, 3B Tim Welke

WATCH OUT FOR BROOMS: The Yankees have been swept twice this season, both on the road (three games in Tampa to open the season, and two games in Toronto earlier this month). This series marks the second time this season the Yankees have lost the first two games of a three-game set.

AVOID THE BROOMS: The last time the Yankees were swept in a series of three-or-more games immediately after sweeping a series of three-or-more games was July 2009 heading into the All-Star break. They went 3-0 at Minnesota, then were swept in three games here at Angel Stadium.

TOUGH NIGHT: Robinson Cano went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts last night. It was just the 20th time in his career he failed to record a hit in a game in which he had at least five at-bats. It was just the seventh time he had such a game and struck out twice. He has struck out twice in a game six times this season, three of which have come against the Angels, including each of the first two games of this series.

UPDATE, 10:22 p.m.: Jeter moves to cover second base because Trout is running, Callaspo shoots a single through the resulting hole in the left side of the infield. The lesson: Don’t plunk a speedy leadoff hitter.

UPDATE, 10:40 p.m.: Runners at the corners with one out, Chavez grounds to first for an inning-killing 3-6-3 double play.

UPDATE, 10:58 p.m.: Well the Yankees have hit a home run, so at least we now know it’s possible for them to win this game. Granderson’s three-run shot has put them in front 3-1 in teh third.

UPDATE, 11:02 p.m.: There goes Cano’s eighth of the year and it’s now 5-1 Yankees. He really crushed that one.

UPDATE, 11:28 p.m.: So it’s going to be this kind of game, huh? A two-run homer by Trumbo has pulled the Angels back within 5-3. Anyone else have the feeling we haven’t seen the last run of the night?

UPDATE, 11:32 p.m.: And there’s Mike Trout with a two-run double. That kid really looks special. Tons of speed and he can really hit. We’re tied at 5. Get comfortable, folks.

UPDATE, 12:00 a.m.: Finally a ball that Bourjos couldn’t track down. The Angels center fielder couldn’t quite catch a deep drive by Ibanez, and it went off the wall for a standup triple. Swisher followed with a sac fly and the Yankees have a 6-5 lead. Nova is back out for the sixth needing to keep the Angels from another big inning.

UPDATE, 12:37 a.m.: There’s a bit of redemption for Wade. After allowing a walkoff home run two nights ago, he just struck out Howie Kendrick to leave runners at the corners in the seventh. It’s still 6-5.

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Pregame notes: “We’ve run into a little bit of everything”05.30.12

Bases-loaded statistics can be nit-picky. Robinson Cano is 1-for-10 with the bases loaded this season, but he was 8-for-18 with three grand slams last year. When stats get too specific, they occasionally fall into a small sample size zone that keeps them from meaning much in the big picture. For the Yankees, though, the small picture matters right now. And right now they’re not producing with the bases loaded, a trend that’s part of their larger problem with runners in scoring position.

“We’ve run into a little bit of everything,” Joe Girardi said. “Some guys not swinging the bat very well with the bases loaded, (other) guys hitting the ball hard with the bases loaded and making outs. It’s unfortunate, but we’re still okay. Obviously we’d like to be in a little better position than we are right now, but we’re okay. We’ve just got to turn it around.”

The bases-loaded trend hurt the Yankees last night when Robinson Cano struck out twice with the bases full. A big hit in either of those situations could have changed the game significantly. The Yankees have had 53 at-bats with the bases loaded this season, the second-most in baseball. They’ve hit .151 in those situations, the second-worst in the American League.

The two biggest culprits have been Cano and Alex Rodriguez, who are a combined 2-for-19. Both hit at least .400 with the bases loaded last season.

“I’ve been getting myself out, pretty simple,” Rodriguez said. “Chasing borderline pitches. There are some pitches that are sort of sucker pitches, pitches that look like strikes but they’re not, or pitches that look like they’re decent pitches but they’re pitchers’ pitches. Those are the pitches that you have to lay off or kind of work the count in your favor, they either give into you or walk you.

“… I think overall our at-bats (with the bases loaded) haven’t been really quality. The one thing is, (pitchers are) the ones that have the pressure. You’ve got to swing at strikes and take your A swing. After that, you do exactly kind of what Swisher did last night, and if they make great plays then you tip your cap. But up to that point, we have to do what we do.”

• Brett Gardner did tee and toss today, and he’ll likely do the same tomorrow. He’ll need to take some live batting practice before getting into a game. Girardi said he’s not sure when Gardner will be ready to start a rehab assignment.

• Dave Robertson had a scheduled day off today. He’ll resume throwing tomorrow and should be on a mound Saturday. Still not sure when he’ll get into a game either, but the stiffness he initially felt when he started throwing again has gone away. Progressing as expected.

• Ivan Nova had some nagging lower-body issues — his foot, his hamstring — but Girardi said none of those have affected him in the past few days. There are no lingering health concerns with him heading into tonight’s start. “He’s been good,” Girardi said. “He hasn’t talked about it. He’s been healthy, so that’s a good sign. Your legs are so important to pitching.”

• Hard to say this is connected to last night’s strikeouts because he does it all the time, but Cano was out early to hit with Kevin Long today. “He just hit a home run to dead center a couple days ago,” Girardi said. “I don’t get too caught up. Guys like routine. They like to do some drills. When you’re on a long road trip, you have to come out early sometimes.”

• On this date, 17 years ago, Derek Jeter had his first career hit. He now has 3,158 in his career, the most in the big leagues in that span. Rodriguez is second with 2,805.

• CC Sabathia will be the Yankees representative at the MLB draft on Monday. The Yankees have the 30th overall selection.

• Jim Abbott is going to throw out the first pitch today.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 380 Comments →

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