The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for May, 2012

Yankees claim RHP Igarashi05.29.12

Here’s the announcement from the Yankees…

The Yankees have acquired RHP Ryota Igarashi off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Igarashi, who turned 33 on Monday, spent spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates before being acquired by Toronto on March 30. He began the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, going 1-1 with four saves, a 1.29 ERA (21.0IP, 3ER) and a .139 (10-for-72) opponents batting average and had his contract purchased by the Major League team on 5/25. He made two relief appearances for the Blue Jays, allowing 4ER in 1.0IP, before he was designated for assignment on 5/27.

Originally selected in the second round of the 1998 Nippon Professional Baseball Draft, Igarashi spent 10 seasons with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League. He signed with the Mets as a free agent on December 17, 2009, and in two seasons with New York-NL (2010-11), combined to go 5-2 with a 5.74 ERA (69.0IP, 44ER) in 79 relief appearances.

He will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and is anticipated to arrive in time for tonight’s game. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees transferred RHP Brad Meyers (right labrum strain) to the 60-day disabled list.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 444 Comments →

Pettitte’s focused on improving his focus05.29.12

Focus would seem to be the least of Andy Pettitte’s concerns, but he said yesterday it’s the one thing he most needs to improve at this point. He’s happy with his pitches, his strength and his durability, but Pettitte said he’s still mentally adjusting to making pitch after pitch in a big league setting.

Asked for a specific example of a pitch, Pettitte gave a great glimpse into the way he approaches the game.

“The pitch to the left-hander for Kansas City, Maier,” Pettitte said, referencing last-week’s home run. “I just didn’t see that pitch, didn’t focus on that pitch and just threw a strike. Just a bad thought process. Obviously I’m going to make mistakes, I’m human. I would just say that’s an example of where I just threw a pitch that had no conviction behind it, no thought process on it. I just saw a sign and threw it in there, didn’t pay any attention to a guy with a bat in his hand that could hurt me. Those are the things that are kind of disappointing. When I went back out there for the eighth inning, I felt good and I walked a batter. Again, it was my thought process in that, questioning whether I wanted to throw a certain pitch or another one instead of just being confident what I want to do and attack the strike zone with it. Little things like that.

“I might be nit-picking a little bit, and I’m probably going to continue to do that. I was doing it in 2010, you know? I want to get better at that. Right now, I feel really good with all my pitches, so as far as that sense, the pitching standpoint of it and getting the control of what I want to do, so far those are all there.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 24 Comments →

Pettitte off to impressive start (except to Pettitte himself)05.29.12

Before he made the commitment — before came out of retirement and told the Yankees he was willing to pitch again — Andy Pettitte found out for himself what he had left. Away from coaches, teammates and television cameras, Pettitte threw a series of winter bullpens at home in Texas. He knew better than anyone how much of the old workhorse remained.

Maybe that’s why he seems perfectly unimpressed by 19 strikeouts and a 2.53 ERA through his first three starts of the season.

“I felt like I’d be able to get back to where I was, so to say that I’m surprised, I’m really not,” Pettitte said. “I still feel like I have a ways to go as far as maybe mentally, as far as the focus I want to have, but other than that, I feel real good about my stuff and my pitches, where they’re at. All along, I’ve told you I feel really good about all my bullpen work and stuff like that. If you can get to a place mentally where you want to be, the way my pens were feeling from the get-go, I felt like I was going t be able to be successful.”

Obviously the Yankees believed Pettitte could be effective — Brian Cashman was willing to commit big money if Pettitte would have signed earlier — but he’s pitched into the seventh inning in each of his starts this season. In his past two starts, Pettitte’s gone 15 innings with 17 strikeouts and two walks.

The sample size is tiny. But it’s impressive. Heading into tonight’s game in Anaheim, Pettitte’s off to a better start than anyone but Pettitte himself might have hoped for.

“You think about not only the wins, but the distance he’s given us,” Girardi said. “It’s more than I expected.”

Associated Press photo 

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 344 Comments →

The morning after a rough night05.29.12

There’s plenty to think about after a game like last night, and different Yankees are surely waking up this morning thinking about different things.

Phil Hughes
Overthrowing in the first inning caused Hughes’ fastball to leak back over the plate, and that led to four quick runs and a debacle of an outing. Hughes said he wasn’t over-excited because of pitching so close to home, and waiting around through a long top of the first had no impact. He just tried to overdo it early. He was throwing strikes, but not quality strikes, and the Angels were able to foul off a lot of pitches.

“That’s always an issue,” Hughes said. “I’ve got that riding fastball, but I try to get quick outs as much as I can. Foul balls happen, but if I’m executing pitches, making better pitches and using my offspeed stuff I think I get some quicker outs there and don’t labor as much. … Sometimes I just have to slow myself down before the start and even if I’m feeling good, still use my secondary pitches and not try to overthrow and throw so many fastballs. That’ll be something I look to work on going forward.”

Russell Martin
That seventh-inning, game-tying double was a huge hit, and his ninth-inning single was just a few feet away from tying the game and set the stage for a potential game-winner. Could big, late hits like that spark Martin’s bat a little bit?

“We’re going to have to wait and find out,” he said. “I’ve been feeling better at the plate and I’m starting to drive the ball the other way. I feel better. … I’m just trying to see a pitch and drive it. I try not to think. You get in trouble when you start thinking about stuff.”

Cory Wade
The Yankees bullpen is without Mariano Rivera and Dave Robertson, but it’s still an unquestioned strength of this team largely because Wade and Boone Logan have been outstanding. Wade only threw three pitches last night, and the last one was a changeup, which is normally the best pitch in his arsenal.

“There’s going to be games that you lose like this,” he said. “Over the course of 162 games it’s going to happen to you. You don’t want it to happen, but at some point it’s going to happen to you. As a reliever you have to have a short memory. If they call for my number (tonight), I’m going to be ready to go.”

Curtis Granderson
When he left the park last night, Granderson said he still wasn’t sure what exactly happened in the third inning. He and Nick Swisher both went after a deep fly ball and collided, but that’s pretty much where the story ended. Neither was hurt, despite the fact both were sprinting and were sent sprawling.

“I’d have to see it first to really be able to say anything about it,” Granderson said. “I just know we were both trying to go after it and tried to catch it. I think we were both surprised that we got to it at the same time, especially the way the ball was hit and the ball was holding up and carrying here in the stadium throughout the course of the day. It was probably more just a surprise more than anything.”

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 142 Comments →

Postgame notes: “I knew it was going to be a battle”05.29.12

So many things went the Yankees way tonight, there’s little doubt they could have and probably should have won.

Jered Weaver was hurt after 12 pitches, forcing the Angels to replace one of the game’s best starters with a perfectly middle-of-the-road bullpen. The Yankees offense scored three runs in the first inning, scored eight runs total and had the bases loaded in three times. They scored a lot and had an opportunity to score even more. The bullpen wasn’t perfect, but until Cory Wade gave up a home run for only the second time this season, the relievers did enough to keep the Yankees within striking distance.

“I feel like we have to win every game,” Joe Girardi said. “I mean, it was a struggle for Hughsie tonight, and that’s going to happen. You got to put it behind you and move on.”

Wade took the loss, and obviously the offense whiffed on some scoring opportunities, but the bulk of the blame falls on Phil Hughes. He’d pitched very well in his past four starts, but this was another night of familiar problems: He couldn’t put hitters away, couldn’t consistently locate his fastball away to right-handers, and seemed hesitant to veer away from his fastball.

“You’d like to try to string together as many good ones as you can in a row, but after the first inning I knew it was going to be a battle to keep us in the game,” Hughes said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a good start. … I just tried to collect myself and make some better pitches and be a little smarter out there and not just try to blow people away, because it wasn’t working in the first inning. I made some OK pitches, but still, a run here, a run there. It’s hard to give our offense some momentum when I’m out there so long and giving up runs.”

Hughes said it was overthrowing that caused his fastball to tail back over the middle of the plate in the first inning. He’d done a better job of controling that adrenaline lately, but tonight it got the best of him. And when it got the best of him, he was hesitant to turn to his curveball and changeup until it was too late.

“When you get in those jams you just want to go harder and harder and harder and speed things up, and that’s never the right way to go,” Hughes said. “You know that, but when you’re out there in the moment, it’s tough to kind of slow yourself down and throw some breaking balls for strikes and changeups for strikes and things like that. There were probably a few opportunities when I could have really slowed myself down in that first inning, but instead, I was trying to squeeze the leather off the ball and throw a fastball. That’s not a good way to go.”

• Both Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher said they were fine after a massive collision in the third inning. Swisher said he never called the ball, and Granderson said he called for it far too late for Swisher to adjust (Swisher never heard him). “Both of us were reaching for the ball at the same time, and then just, kaboom!” Swisher said. “And next thing I know I’m laying there on my back, and he’s running for the ball, and I’m like, he’s alright.”

• Swisher felt like the bulk of the blow was to his upper body, but Granderson said he honestly had no idea where the impact occured. He felt absolutely no lingering effects and hadn’t seen a replay to understand how and why it happened. “I feel fine,” he said. “I didn’t have any grass marks on me, any dirt. I don’t know what happened. That’s why I’ve got to see it again.”

• Cory Wade tried to throw a changeup away to Mark Trumbo. It wound up over the heart of the plate. “If I throw that same pitch 10 more times, he’s going to hit it out 10 more times,” Wade said. “It was a pretty bad pitch.”

• Girardi decided not to make Kendrys Morales hit right-handed in the sixth inning, and he wound up doubling in two runs of David Phelps. “If I was going to turn him around I was going to do it with Boonie, and Boonie’s one of the guys I use in the seventh and the eighth now,” Girardi said. “So ijust felt it was too early.”

• What was Girardi thinking after Russell Martin singled to load the bases in the ninth? “I thought, we’re going to be all right,” Girardi said. “Jeet’s up. We’re going to be all right.”

• Did Martin think his ninth-inning single had a chance of getting through the infield for a go-ahead base hit? “No,” Martin said. “I thought he had a chance at first. That’s why I dove. I looked kind of ridiculous.”

• Hughes has allowed a home run in each of his first 10 starts this season. That’s the most consecutive starts allowing at least one homer by a Yankees pitcher since Jim Abbott went 11 straight in 1994.

• David Aardsma tweeted today that he’ll be facing hitters on Friday. It will be hit first time throwing to a hitter in more than a year.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 495 Comments →

Yankees winning streak comes to an end05.29.12

A strange game came to a sudden end when Mark Trumbo hit a walkoff home run in the ninth inning tonight, giving the Angels a 9-8 win that ended the Yankees five-game winning streak. Phil Hughes lasted 5.1 innings, which is longer than the Yankees might have expected after he was knocked around for four runs on five hits in the first inning. He gave up another run in the third and a solo homer in the fourth, finishing with a career-high 11 hits and a season-high seven runs. It was a truly bizarre game throughout, beginning when Angels starter Jered Weaver left after 12 pitches because of a lower back injury. Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher collided trying to catch a fly ball, Mark Trumbo let a fly ball skip off his glove, and Erick Aybar made two bad plays in the first inning, all of which led to runs. After taking a first-inning lead, then falling behind, the Yankees tied it at 8 on Russell Martin’s — of all people — two-out, two-run double in the seventh.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 478 Comments →

Game 48: Yankees at Angels05.28.12

YANKEES (26-21)
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 Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.94)
Hughes vs. Angels

ANGELS (24-25)
Mike Trout LF
Maicer Izturis 3B
Albert Pujols 1B
Kendrys Morales DH
Mark Trumbo RF
Howie Kendrick 2B
Erick Aybar SS
Peter Bourjos CF
Bobby Wilson C

RHP Jered Weaver (6-1, 2.61)
Weaver vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 9:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

WEATHER: Temperatures in the 70s, dipping into the 60s. Even the worst days out here are awfully good.

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

ONE BIG HOLIDAY: The Yankees are 22-17 on Memorial Day since 1971, when the holiday first began to be celebrated on the last Monday in May. They did not play on Memorial Day in 1973, 2004 or 2005. The Yankees have won their last three Memorial Day games, and this year marks the fifth time the Yankees will face the Angels on Memorial Day (also 1984, ‘86, ‘87 and ‘96) going 2-2 in those games.

TAKE THE DAY OFF: The Yankees will not play at home on Memorial Day, Independence Day or Labor Day in the same season for the first time since 2006.

GONE STREAKING: The Yankees have won five straight and the Angels have won six in a row. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time the Yankees and their opponent are each on a winning streak of at least five games since April of 1992 when the Yankees (5-0) and Blue Jays (6-0) met with neither team having lost a game to start the season. The Yankees won that game, 5-2, at the SkyDome.

UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: Overheard after Jeter’s leadoff single: “Did he pass anyone with that one? Do I have to write about it?” Hilarious. And fair.

UPDATE, 9:12 p.m.: Single. Single. E-6. Just like that it’s a 1-0 Yankees lead with no outs and runners at the corners.

UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: Well this is an interesting development. Weaver is out of the game after apparently hurting his leg on a pitch to Robinson Cano. That’s a huge break for the Yankees. Doesn’t matter who else pitches in this game, he won’t be better than Weaver.

UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: Sac fly makes it 2-0, still in the first.

UPDATE, 9:28 p.m.: Apparently it’s a lower-back injury for Weaver.

UPDATE, 9:29 p.m.: Another Angels error. Another Yankees run. It’s 3-0. This game really couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the Angels.

UPDATE, 9:46 p.m.: Trumbo actually looked like he was beat on that pitch, but he slapped the ball right down the line, just fair, for an RBI double that’s pulled the Angels within 3-2.

UPDATE, 9:47 p.m.: Now a two-run single by Kendrick has put the Angels in front 4-3.

UPDATE, 9:51 p.m.: Hughes threw a lot of strikes, but he got only one swing and miss. An infield single was bad luck, and a pretty decent pitch resulted in an RBI double that fell just fair, but the Angels also hit a ton of balls hard. Kind of a mixed bag that was more bad than good, and it’s a 4-3 Angels lead after one inning.

UPDATE, 9:56 p.m.: There’s Granderson with his 15th homer of the year. Hard to believe he’s the best raw power hitter in this lineup, but that really seems to be the case right now.

UPDATE, 10:09 p.m.: More hard-hit balls in the second inning, but Hughes got through it this time with the game still tied at 4.

UPDATE, 10:21 p.m.: Strange game just keeps getting stranger. Swisher and Granderson, who nearly ran into one another in the first inning, just smashed into one another here in the third. Swisher had the ball in his glove, but the ball shot loose on impact and the resulting triple led to the go-ahead run.

UPDATE, 10:44 pm.: Trout can play, and his fifth homer of the year has given the Angels a 6-4 lead in the fourth.

UPDATE, 10:51 p.m.: Teixeira’s ninth homer of the year pulls the Yankees within one. He really is driving the ball this past week or so.

UPDATE, 11:56 pm.: It’s been a weird night, so why not have Russell Martin come through with the biggest hit of the game? His two-out, two-run double has tied the game in the seventh.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Gameday Threadwith 959 Comments →

Pregame notes: “He just believes in it”05.28.12

Asked about his first career start in Anaheim, Phil Hughes didn’t go into detail.

“I didn’t do very well,” he said. “Hopefully (tonight) will be better than that one.”

Hughes hasn’t started a game in Angel Stadium since his rookie year, and a lot has changed since then. He’s been a setup man, an all-star starter, an injury concern and a borderline fifth starter, but right now he’s pitching well. In his past four starts, Hughes is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA.

Asked why, Joe Girardi didn’t follow Hughes’ example. He actually did go into detail.

“Two things,” Girardi said. “The command of his fastball and his changeup. I think his changeup has helped him a lot, and I think he’s going to have to throw it more and more, whether it’s to right handers or left handers. He has to throw it, because I think it’s really important for him.

“… He just believes in it. There’s a time and a place for it. You can’t say, I’m not going to throw it to right handers. There are hitters that are susceptible to it, and you use it. Throwing a changeup does not mean you’re not aggresiive, if it’s a pitch you can throw for strikes. A lot of times people think being aggressive is always throwing your fastball. I don’t. I think about throwing strikes and being ahead in the count. To me, that’s aggressiveness and however you have to do that, that’s fine. Not nibbling, not saying I have to make the perfect pitch. It’s saying, ‘Let me get ahead, down in the zone with something. It doesn’t have to be on the corner. It doesn’t have to be paint.’ And do it.”

• Brett Gardner took some dry swings today in Tampa, and he’ll swing again tomorrow, but Girardi said it will take at least another 10 days for Gardner to rejoin the Yankees lineup. He still has to hit of a tee, then take light batting practice, then full batting practice, then a rehab assignment. “I think he changes our lineup, the speed that he provides an his ability to create runs,” Girardi said. “But still, everyone’s going to have to hit and contribute, but he does give you a little bit different element than the rest of our team.”

• Dave Robertson played catch today and again had no problems. Girardi said he didn’t have Robertson’s exact rehab schedule, but he was pretty sure Robertson was scheduled to play catch again tomorrow. Still no mound work for him.

• Goes without saying that Russell Martin says he’s fine. That’s why he’s back in the lineup.

• Torii Hunter has been away from the Angels while his son has been involved in a criminal investigation in Texas. He could return to the lineup this week, but he’s not in it tonight. Mike Trout is in left field, Mark Trumbo in right and Kendrys Morales at DH.

• It’s worth noting that the Yankees current five-game winning streak has come with the team’s starting pitcher getting the decision in all five games. “Any time that they can shut a club down, it’s a lot easier to win a game,” Girardi said. “You don’t have to score as many runs. They’ve been a big part of it, and the bullpen has come in and done a nice job too.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 123 Comments →

Martin playing; Teixeira hitting fifth against Weaver05.28.12

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 Phil Hughes

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 46 Comments →

Surging Hughes comes home05.28.12

Phil Hughes grew up in Orange County, and his parents still live just a few miles from Angel Stadium. But Hughes didn’t stay with them last night.

“I may go home after (tonight’s game),” Hughes said. “But I try to keep it to feel like a normal game and not anything out of the ordinary.”

Hughes has the start in tonight’s series opener against the Angels. Although he pitched at the stadium a few times in high school, he’s made only one professional start in Anaheim. It was 2007, his rookie year, and Hughes gave up five walks and five runs in 6.1 innings. Last time he pitched in Anaheim was the 2010 all-star game, when he took the loss. In between, he’s made two relief appearances, and gotten one win.

This time, Hughes is heading into Angel Stadium having won three of his past four starts, carrying a 2.81 ERA since May 6.

“It’s right next to home, just 10 minutes away, so it was easy to get to games there (as a kid),” Hughes said. “I’d go with my parents or buddies or whatever. It always brings back good memories just being there, even if I’m not pitching, just seeing the stadium. We don’t get to go out there very often, so it makes it a little more special.”

When CC Sabathia pitched in Oakland on Saturday, he bought 200 tickets for friends and family. Hughes said he’ll probably keep it closer to 20. Sabathia’s hometown crowd is a little out of Hughes’ price range.

“I can’t afford to do that,” he said.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 615 Comments →

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