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

Archive for May, 2013

Sabathia returns to form to end losing streak05.31.13

CC Sabathia

The Yankees thought they were getting two players back. They actually got three. Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis played their part, but it was CC Sabathia’s return to form that truly snapped a five-game losing streak and carried the Yankees to a 4-1 win against the rival Red Sox. Sabathia matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts. He walked none and allowed one run through 7.1 innings, snapping a string of three particularly bad starts for the Yankees ace. Behind him, the Yankees matched the highest run total in a week. Teixeira’s leadoff walk started a two-run second inning, and Youkilis had an RBI single in the fifth. Three straight singles, with an RBI from Brett Gardner, led to the final Yankees run in the seventh. Mariano Rivera finished the game with his 19th save, his first since blowing one against the Mets.

Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 208 Comments →

Game 54: Yankees vs. Red Sox05.31.13

YANKEES (30-23)
Brett Gardner CF
Kevin Youkilis DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Jayson Nix SS
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

LHP CC Sabathia (4-4, 3.96)
Sabathia vs. Red Sox

RED SOX (33-22)
Daniel Nava LF
Jonny Gomes RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Stephen Drew SS
David Ross C
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Jose Iglesias 3B

LHP Jon Lester (6-1, 3.34)
Lester vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Hot but beautiful outside. Some wind blowing from right to left.

UMPIRES: HP Lance Barksdale, 1B Gary Cederstrom, 2B Vic Carapazza, 3B Chris Conroy

STREAK STOPPER: CC Sabathia takes the mound tonight with the Yankees riding a five-game losing streak. It’s the seventh time in his career that Sabathia will start a game with his team on a losing streak of five-or-more games. His team has gone 3-3 in those six previous starts with Sabathia going 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He has pitched nine-inning shutouts in each of his last two such outings: May 8, 2009 with the Yankees at Baltimore and September 6, 2004 with Cleveland at Seattle.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: The Yankees and Blue Jays will make up their May 19 rainout at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, August 20 as the first game of a day-night doubleheader (1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. start times).

EARLY WIN: Happy to report that the New York media team beat the Boston media team this morning at Yankee Stadium. It’s a 16-9 game, with Anthony McCarron and Pete Caldera each coming up with big RBI doubles for New York. I finished 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBI. Didn’t have any chances in the field, which was probably a good thing. We’ll play at Fenway Park later this summer.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Couple of early strikeouts, then Sabathia pitched around a double to give the Yankees a scoreless top of the first.

UPDATE, 7:21 p.m.: Hey, a walk!

UPDATE, 7:45 p.m.: So let me get this straight: The Yankees get Teixeira and Youkilis off the DL, and it’s Nix who drives in the first run? Whatever works.

UPDATE, 7:53 p.m.: And of course slumping Ichiro also gets an RBI. It’s 2-0 Yankees after two.

UPDATE, 8:16 p.m.: Four scoreless for Sabathia. Best he’s looked in a long time.

UPDATE, 8:32 p.m.: Sabathia just struck out the side. That’s eight strikeouts in five innings. That’s already more strikeouts than in his past two starts combined.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: On replay, that’s definitely the right call at second base, but Girardi’s fired up and now he’s ejected.

UPDATE, 8:48 p.m.: There’s an RBI single by Youkilis and the lead is up to 3-0. Teixeira has walked and scored a run. Youkilis has singled in driven in a run.

UPDATE, 9:03 p.m.: Yankees seem generally unhappy with the umpires tonight.

UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: Sabathia has finally allowed a run on Napoli’s RBI double in the seventh. It’s a 3-1 game.

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Pregame notes: “I feel like I’m going to help the team win”05.31.13

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

The video above is Mark Teixeira talking about the current state of his wrist injury. Teixeira said he feels strong, feels healthy and can’t really tell there was ever a problem. Kevin Youkilis said a lot of the same things; said he feels strong, feels healthy and has the added comfort of knowing he’s returned from back injuries before.

For several weeks — or months in Teixeira’s case — those details have been the ones that mattered. Were they getting stronger? Were they getting healthy? How soon would they be able to play? Now the only details that matter are the results on the field.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on me,” Youkilis said. “I’m just one person. For me, I’m an individual of nine that are going to go in the batting order, and collectively we’ve got to get it done. Some days you’re going to do great, some days other guys are going to do great. That’s just the game of baseball. There are a lot of ups and downs. You hope your guys can click. Usually it’s a few guys clicking at the same time that always helps out.”

As expected, Teixeira and Youkilis moved immediately into prominent spots in the batting order. They’ll be asked to contribute right away. There is no easing in process. They’re here to play.

“Am I going to go 4-for-4 tonight?” Teixeira said. “I hope so, but probably not. But over the next four months I feel like I’m going to help the team win. And that’s the same with Derek, the same with Curtis, the same with Kevin or Alex. All the guys we have hurt, they make us better whenever we’re in the lineup.”

That’s the idea anyway.

It was pointed out during Teixeira’s press conference that just one week ago, the return of Teixeira and Youkilis might have been a pair of veteran additions to a team that was playing well. Now, with the Red Sox in town and the Yankees having lost five in a row, there’s a real sense of this lineup needing a boost. Maybe these two can provide it. For now, we only know they’re healthy. Time to move on to what’s next, and that’s actual production.

“The players in the locker room, they don’t worry, ‘Oh, where’s Tex?'” Teixeira said. “There’s not anybody in there who’s saying, ‘When’s Tex coming back? When’s Youk coming back? But I think what it is is, it’s nice when we come in. We walk in the door, and it’s like, we have one more of our guys back; we have two more of our guys back. Those five-game losing streaks, maybe they don’t happen if we have our whole team. Maybe we can pick it up a little bit quicker, and turn it around a little bit quicker. We’re just happy to be back with the guys trying to win games.”

Ivan Nova• Both Vidal Nuno and Ivan Nova will move into the Triple-A rotation. The move is hardly a surprise for Nuno — and Nuno didn’t seem surprised — but there’s something a little surprising about Nova. He was one of the obvious candidates, but he’d also pitched well last time out. “(He’s going down) to be a starter, because that’s what we envision him as,” Joe Girardi said. “I think he threw 60 something pitches the other day. We need to get him stretched out, doing what he’s capable of doing.”

• Obviously the Yankees are postponing their more difficult decision. For now they’re carrying an extra position player and only four starters, but that will change when Andy Pettitte is activated on Monday. Girardi has basically made it clear that he plans to keep both shortstops, and Brian Cashman has made it clear that David Adams isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t seem to be shaping up as good news for Lyle Overbay. “We’ll talk about different scenarios and different ideas,” Girardi said. “Who knows? Things could change by then. We’ll just continue to discuss it. We’ve got plenty of time.”

• If you’re wondering, Girardi made it clear that Adams is not an option at shortstop.

• Why put Youkilis at DH? “He’s probably more accustomed to do it than a guy like David Adams,” Girardi said. “I figured we would do it that way.” Girardi also mentioned the fact that both Youkilis and Teixeira have already played two days in a row. I wouldn’t be stunned to see Teixeira at DH tomorrow.

• Youkilis and Teixeira are pretty patient hitters, and the Yankees haven’t walked in three games. “That’s unusual for our club,” Girardi said. “I don’t think we’re a club that maybe walks as much as some of the other clubs have been here. I think the Mets threw a lot of strikes against us. Hopefully that changes tonight and we get back to doing some of those things.”

• It gets a little overshadowed, but CC Sabathia is actually pitching this game. And he’s been pretty bad lately. “A lot of times we look for reasons why things happen,” Girardi said. “Sometimes things just happen and as players you have to learn to deal with things and make adjustments. I couldn’t tell you it’s from his elbow.”

• Anything Teixeira can do to avoid his typical slow start? “If anyone has any tips that they can give me, I’m up for tips,” Teixeira said. “But you just have to go out and play. There’s a rhythm you have to get into. Hopefully that rhythm doesn’t take long at all. A lot of work in Tampa, a lot of at-bats in Tampa, and once you get into that game rhythm of playing every day in the big leagues, hopefully I’ll be back to being myself pretty soon here.”

Associated Press photo

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Nova and Nuno sent to Triple-A05.31.13

Vidal Nuno and Ivan Nova are going to Triple-A to make room for Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira.

Brett Gardner CF
Kevin Youkilis DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Jayson Nix SS
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

LHP CC Sabathia

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Pitching matchups vs. Red Sox05.31.13

LHP CC Sabathia (4-4, 3.96)
LHP Jon Lester (6-1, 3.34)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

RHP Phil Hughes (2-3, 4.97)
LHP Felix Doubront (3-2, 5.29)
7:15 p.m., FOX

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (6-3, 2.39)
TBA (possibly RHP Clay Buchholz)
8:05 p.m., ESPN

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 241 Comments →

Addition and subtraction05.31.13

Kevin Youkilis, Mark TeixeiraYesterday, Joe Girardi refused to officially recognize the obvious: That the Yankees are planning to active both Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis before tonight’s series opener against the Red Sox.

“I don’t like putting dates on it,” Girardi said. “If they’re here (on Friday), I’ll be happy. If they’re here the next day, I’ll be happy. When they get here, they’ll be here.”

Of course, Brian Cashman has made it clear that the Yankees expect to have their corner infielders back in the lineup tonight. And there’s little reason to think that plan has changed. It’s a significant moment for a team that’s been short on right-handed bats all season.

“You want to get your team back together,” Andy Pettitte said. “Youk was here early in the year, and Tex is a huge part of this club. He’s going to be here for a long time. To get him back and hopefully him not have any issues with that wrist, it’s important.”

Assuming things go as planned, Teixeira and Youkilis will bring two different kinds of impact.

The roster
Short term, the Yankees don’t have to do anything drastic with the roster. They’re carrying an extra pitcher, and Andy Pettitte is due to come off the disabled list on Monday, so the Yankees could get rid of two pitchers today. They could option Vidal Nuno — which is probably the easy choice — and then send one of Ivan Nova, Adam Warren, Preston Claiborne or Shawn Kelley to Triple-A. They’d still have a seven-man bullpen and could basically carry an extra hitter for a few days.

Eventually, though, the Yankees are going to have to choose a position player to take off the roster, and just two days ago on WFAN, Brian Cashman indicated that it won’t be the rookie third baseman.

“There’s a chance Adams stays here and fills a role,” Cashman said. “I think Adams has got a role here in the fact that, for me, we’re so anemic against left-handed pitching. … Adams is pretty safe right now.”

So if it’s not Adams, do the Yankees get rid of Reid Brignac and play without a backup shortstop, option Brennan Boesch and play without a fourth outfielder or cut Lyle Overbay and play without one of the season’s most pleasant surprises?

The lineup
The Yankees are about to face, not only the Red Sox, but the Red Sox with back-to-back left-handed starters pitching tonight and tomorrow. The Yankees need right-handed bats, and they’re getting them. The timing couldn’t be much better.

Youkilis and Teixeira will surely take prominent spots in the lineup, and that should allow the Yankees to drop slumping Vernon Wells lower in the order (at least against right-handers). It would seem to also give the Yankees a chance to put Robinson Cano in the No. 3 hole, but Joe Girardi said that’s not necessarily in the cards.

“Your lineup against a right-hander could be different than your lineup against a left-hander,” Girardi said. “We could keep (Cano) in the two hole as well. The one thing about Robbie Cano is you want him to have as many at-bats as possible. That’s the bottom line. It’s very possible we could keep him there.”

Cashman floated the possibility of keeping Adams at third base against lefties, freeing Youkilis or Teixeira to DH on those days. That alignment would fill a glaring hole that’s existed all season (since the days of DH Ben Francisco).

Associated Press photo 

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Postgame notes: “We didn’t find a way to support them”05.30.13

Brian Cashman confirmed in a text message that the plan remains the same: Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are on their way and will be here tomorrow.

“It could be a great boost for us,” Joe Girardi said. “I don’t want to put too much pressure on the guys coming back, but it depends what kind of starts they get off to.”

The Yankees offense is awfully bad right now. In this four-game series sweep against the Mets, the Yankees were held to just one run three times. Tonight, Robinson Cano hit a home run in the third inning, and the Yankees didn’t have another base runner after that. That’s 20 batters without a single one reaching base.

“It’s frustrating,” Brett Gardner said. “We’re all out there battling, trying to succeed, trying to get in a position to win a ballgame. We had good pitching again today, and we didn’t find a way to support them.”

Some of this may be a return to normal for a team that seemed to be playing over its head for much of these past two months. Vernon Wells’ resurgence has hit a wall. Ichiro Suzuki’s has hit an abyss.

“I don’t know if they were playing over their heads,” Girardi said. “I think they were playing well. Whenever you’re playing well and you go through bad streak, you’re always a little bit surprised because you don’t know what necessarily triggers it. Then you start playing well again and sometimes you don’t know what triggers that. When you play 162 games, you’re going to go through these things.”

But five straight losses? Four in a row against the Mets? With the Red Sox coming to town. The Yankees are getting reinforcements, and they need them to be more than simply big names. The Yankees need a legitimate boost.

“I’m sure there will be a buzz in the air and there will be excitement again tomorrow,” Girardi said. “Tomorrow is as good a day to get back to our winning ways as any.”

Austin Romine, Terry Collins, John Buck• According to Elias, this was only the second time the Yankees had ever been swept by any team in a season series of at least four games. The only other time it happened was in 1990 when the Yankees lost all 12 games against the A’s. Similarly, it was the first time the Mets had ever swept a four-game season series against any team.

• Just a few days ago the Yankees were the only team in baseball that hadn’t lose more than two in a row this season. They’ve now lost five straight and seven of nine.

• This was the third straight game in which the Yankees didn’t draw a walk. They struck out a season-high 14 times, their most since September 5, 2012 at Tampa Bay when they struck out 15 times.

• Mets starter Dillon Gee had a career-high 12 strikeouts. “He didn’t leave many balls over the middle of the plate, it didn’t seem like to me,” Gardner said. “I can’t speak for other guys’ at bats, I didn’t see much on TV or video. He didn’t leave a whole lot of balls over the middle of the plate. Robbie and I took advantage of some pitches to hit in the first inning, we didn’t get anything out of it, and from there, he had his way with us.”

• Another terrific spot start by Vidal Nuno, who allowed two runs through six innings. He did not allow a hit after Anthony Recker’s second-inning double. “I couldn’t get in a rhythm (early),” Nuno said. “I don’t know what happened, but I just found it. A light switch came on the third inning and I got in a nice little rhythm.”

• Nuno became the first Yankees rookie to lose a game in which he pitched at least six innings and allowed three runs or fewer since Sam Militello in 1992.

• Is Nuno heading back to Triple-A tomorrow? “We haven’t talked about that,” Girardi said. Is Nuno thinking about the possibility? “No, it’s just day by day,” Nuno said. “I’ve got that mentality just day by day, and if it happens, it happens.”

• Cano went 2-for-4 with his 14th home run of the season. It came in his 53rd game. Last season, Cano did not hit his 14th homer until his 68th game. That was on June 20.

• Gardner has a seven-game hitting streak.

• Mike Ashmore has video of Teixeira and Youkilis during their postgame press conference.

• Final word goes to Girardi: “You know there’s a competitive edge in all those guys in that room. It’s hard when you lose to your crosstown rivals; you don’t want to be part of a team that gets swept by your crosstown rivals. Over time it’s going to happen, but you don’t want to be the team that it happens to.”

Associated Press photo (some sort of technical problem is keeping me from uploading new pictures tonight, so we’ll just go with the one I uploaded earlier)

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Subway Swept05.30.13

Austin Romine, Terry Collins, John Buck

Reinforcements can’t come soon enough. For the first time in the history of his cross-town rivalry, the Yankees have lost four in a row against the Mets. Tonight’s 3-1 loss at Yankee Stadium finished off a Subway Sweep for the Mets and left the Yankees with a season-worst five-game losing streak. Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are expected to come off the disabled list tomorrow, and the offense could use some help. The Yankees have scored just one run in three of their past four games. Their only run tonight came on Robinson Cano’s 14th homer of the season, while Mets starter Dillon Gee finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts. Vidal Nuno once again pitched well in what is likely his final spot start before returning to Triple-A. Nuno lasted six innings and allowed his only runs on a Marlon Byrd two-run homer.

Associated Press photo

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Game 53: Yankees vs. Mets05.30.13

YANKEES (30-22)
Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brennan Boesch RF
David Adams 3B
Reid Brignac SS
Austin Romine C

LHP Vidal Nuno (1-1, 1.93)
Nuno has never faced any of the Mets

METS (21-29)
Justin Turner 1B
Daniel Murphy 2B
David Wright 3B
John Buck DH
Lucas Duda LF
Marlon Byrd RF
Anthony Recker C
Juan Lagares CF
Omar Quintanilla 2B

RHP Dillon Gee (2-6, 6.34)
Gee vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: What can I say? It’s been a gorgeous day, and it’s giving way to a gorgeous night.

UMPIRES: HP Adrian Johnson, 1B Fieldin Culbreth, 2B Brian O’Nora, 3B Bill Welke

SUBWAY ROOKIE: Vidal Nuno will make his Subway Series debut tonight. It will mark the 12th time a Yankees rookie will make a regular season start against the Mets. Yankees rookie starters making their Subway Series debut have gone 2-4 with a 5.52 ERA (44.0IP, 27ER) in nine starts, with the only two winning pitchers being Brandon Claussen (June 28, 2003 at Shea Stadium) and Tyler Clippard (May 20, 2007 at Shea Stadium).

GO GO GARDNER: Brett Gardner has scored one run in each of his past six games. That ties the second longest streak of his career behind an eight-game stretch from in 2010. He has also hit safely in his past six games, just the second time in his career Gardner has recorded at least one hit and one run in six straight games (also career-high eight in-a-row from April 30 through May 8, 2010).

SNAP THE STREAK: The Yankees have lost four straight games for the first time this season. According to Elias, it was the farthest into a season the Yankees had ever gone without losing more than three straight games since 1955.

UPDATE, 7:41 p.m.: Well, Nuno was able to pitch around a leadoff double in the first inning, but he’s allowed a two-run homer in the second and the Mets have an early lead. Not great when the Yankees need to lean on their offense, but that’s certainly the case now.

UPDATE, 7:52 p.m.: Unable to cash in on a second-inning error, Austin Romine hits into a double play to end the threat and keep the Yankees off the board. It’s still 2-0 Mets.

UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Best way for the Yankees to score? Let Robinson Cano hit. He just went deep to cut the lead to 2-1 in the third.

UPDATE, 8:40 p.m.: My gosh, these two lineups are just not very good. It’s already the bottom of the sixth. It’s still 2-1. I think half of the crowd here has fallen asleep.

UPDATE, 8:58 p.m.: What do you know, Kelley just struck out the side again.

UPDATE, 9:31 p.m.: Chamberlain’s wild pitch gets away from Romine and leads to a Mets run in the eighth. It’s now 3-1. Not pretty here at Yankee Stadium.

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Pregame notes: Nuno gets one more (one last?) turn in the rotation05.30.13

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

This would seem to be the final Vidal Nuno start before the Yankees begin to significantly reconstruct their roster. Joe Girardi said this afternoon that David Phelps will stay in the rotation, and Andy Pettitte said he’s expecting to return to the rotation on Monday.

That seems to leave little room for Nuno, who’s pitched very well in his limited opportunities. He coughed up that walkoff homer in Baltimore, but it’s hard to find much fault with his other appearances.

“He’s just got a great idea what he’s doing out there,” Pettitte said. “He doesn’t try to do too much. He doesn’t overthrow. He can change speeds and he’s locating the ball very well. The other thing is, obviously, these guys haven’t seen him so they don’t have a good idea what he’s doing. He’s very confident and he’s very aggressive. He’s done a great job for us. He’s going to be able to stick around for a long time if he continues to throw strikes and change speeds the way that he’s doing.”

With Pettitte basically ready to return, and Nuno starting tonight, it makes sense for Nuno to go back to Triple-A to open one of the roster spots for either Mark Teixeira or Kevin Youkilis to come off the disabled list. Opening the other roster spot will be a curious decision, but optioning Nuno seems to be the easiest one.

The video above is Joe Girardi talking about the job Nuno has done this season, which has obviously left the Yankees with a strong first impression. Tonight they’ll lean on him to snap a losing streak and give some distance on a night when the bullpen has used up its true long relievers.

“You hope you can get a lead early on, is what you want, and you can build upon that,” Girardi said. “We just haven’t scored a ton of runs lately, but every team, I’ve said, goes through that. Every day is a new day. That’s the great thing about our game. It’s not necessarily the case if you’re a starting pitcher, but if you’re a position player it is. These guys can turn it on at any time.”

Andy Pettitte• Pettitte could return on Sunday, but the Yankees have decided to give him an extra day and have him start on Monday. I assume that means Phelps will move back a day to start Tuesday — in what would be Nuno’s next turn — but that’s not quite clear.

• Pettitte on his back injury: “I feel good. I do. Doc never sent me for an MRI or anything like that. We felt like it was a muscle spasm, and I’m not sure (but) I think they were being pretty cautious with me as far as the DL. It was probably good. I was pretty locked up back there.”

• Pettitte on adjusting his between-games routine: “I have a certain routine and I want to be on it, and obviously you’ve got everyone saying, you might be doing too much. You might doing this, you might be doing that. It is an adjustment, and I’ll make another little bit of an adjustment here with this. Maybe not throw two bullpens for a little while in between. They want me to think about doing that, so it’s a constant adjustment.”

• Girardi would not commit to either Mark Teixeira or Kevin Youkilis being activated tomorrow. He said he doesn’t want to set expectations, but clearly expectations are set. Brian Cashman has said Teixeira and Youkilis will be activated tomorrow, as long as things go according to plan.

• The decision to play Brennan Boesch ahead of Ichiro Suzuki, Girardi said, has as much to do with resting Ichiro as keeping Boesch in the lineup. “I’m also thinking long-term too,” Girardi said. “Seventeen days in a row here. It’s getting hot. We have to make sure (guys are rested). Sometimes you can think of Ich as a young guy, but he’s one of those guys with some age on him too.”

• I’m not sure how many people think of Ichiro as a young guy.

• The Yankees announced that Hideki Matsui will sign a minor league contract and immediately retire as a Yankee on July 28. Matsui will be honored as a pregame ceremony at Yankee Stadium that day. “You’ll hear every player to a man say what a great teammate he was,” Girardi said. “And I think everyone will look forward to that day.”

Associated Press photo

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