The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Archive for June, 2014

Roberts’ heroics aren’t enough as Yanks go down in extras06.30.14

Brian Roberts

Monday night’s series opener with the Tampa Bay Rays was the 81st game of the year for the Yankees, which officially means that they’re halfway done with the 2014 season. And while Brian Roberts nearly sent them into the second half on a high note, the game turned out to be a microcosm of how the season has gone so far for the struggling Yanks.

On the verge of a tough loss, Roberts blasted a solo homer into the right field seats with one-out in the ninth to tie the score and send the game to extra innings. But after three more frames, the Yankees ended up right back where they started. Logan Forsythe hit a two-out RBI single in the top of the 12th to give the Rays a 4-3 win and hand the Yankees their seventh loss in their last nine games.

Jose Ramirez issued a two-out walk to Brandon Guyer, who stole second to set up Forsythe’s big hit.

Prior to Roberts’ heroics, the Rays had taken a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth thanks to some shaky work from the Yankees’ bullpen.

Closer David Robertson was brought into a tie game with two outs and two men and surrendered the go-ahead hit to Ryan Hanigan. Dellin Betances began the eighth – his third appearance in four days – and recorded two quick outs before issuing two walks, which prompted manager Joe Girardi to call on Robertson.

David Phelps started for the Yankees and served up two solo homers in the first three innings – one to the red-hot Matt Joyce in the first and another to Kevin Kiermaier in the third – but only allowed two other hits over 5 2/3 innings. With injuries ravaging the team’s rotation, Phelps has become the next most reliable starter after Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda.

The Yankees (41-40) tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the third. Ichiro Suzuki was hit by a pitch and scored on Brett Gardner’s RBI triple, and then Gardner came home on Derek Jeter’s RBI groundout.

The scoring would halt for both teams over the next four innings, but each team had a few close calls.

Adam Warren had come on in relief of Phelps with two outs in the sixth and recorded three straight outs, but a base-hit and two walks with two outs loaded the bases for the Rays (36-49)  in the seventh. But Warren would wiggle out of trouble, inducing a groundout to second from Joyce to keep the game tied.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Roberts led off with a single and advanced to second on Ichiro’s sac bunt. With one out, Gardner hit a hard liner down the first base line, but James Loney snagged it and doubled off Roberts to end the inning.

That would be the final inning of work for Rays starter Chris Archer, who allowed five hits and two runs while striking out four.

The Yanks would threaten again in the eighth when Brian McCann hit a ball into left field that Guyer couldn’t handle to put runners on the corners with two outs, but Carlos Beltran popped out to strand both runners.

Associated Press photo

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Game 81: Rays at Yankees06.30.14

David PhelpsYANKEES (41-39)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP David Phelps (3-4, 4.35)
Phelps vs. Rays 

RAYS (35-49)
Desmond Jennings CF
Ben Zobrist SS
Matt Joyce DH
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Brandon Guyer LF
Logan Forsythe 2B
Ryan Hanigan C
Kevin Kiermaier RF

RHP Chris Archer (4-5, 3.29)
Archer vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES/ESPN

WEATHER: Pretty much the same as last night, maybe with a bit more humidity.

UMPIRES: HP Will Little, 1B Alfonso Marquez, 2B Paul Schrieber, 3B Ted Barrett

STREAKY YANKS: After winning eight of 10 in mid-June, the Yankees have now dropped four of their last six. They’re also 17-15 vs. AL East opponents.

HALFWAY HOME: The Yankees play their 81st game of the season tonight and are guaranteed a winning record through the first half of the season, which marks the 18th time over the last 19 years (since 1996) that the team has collected a record of .500 of better in the first half. They went 39-42 in 2007.

ON THIS DATE: On June 30, 1977, the Yankees set a franchise record (since tied) with four home runs in a single inning in an 11-5 win at Toronto. Cliff Johnson hit three homers in the game, including two of the four in the eighth inning.

NOTE: I’ll be updating here every so often, but I’ll be much more active on Twitter. Follow me@vzmercogliano to join the conversation!

UPDATE, 7:21 p.m.: Joyce remains red-hot for the Rays. After a 5 for 6 game on Sunday, he blasted a two-out solo homer off of Phelps in the first. 1-0 Rays.

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Tampa extended its lead to 2-0 after Kiermaier’s solo shot in the top of the third, but the Yankees tied it in the bottom half of the inning. Gardner drove in Ichiro with a triple and then scored on Jeter’s RBI groundout. 2-2.

UPDATE, 11:23 p.m.: Hey, everyone! Sorry I haven’t checked in for a little while, but I’ve been busy rewriting my game story about 12 times. We’re heading into the 12th inning tied at 3-3. Roberts sent the game to extras with a one-out homer in the ninth and now it’s beginning to feel like neither team wants to win this one. Hopefully, we’ll be done before midnight. But I’m not counting on it.

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Pregame notes: “I’m ready to rock-and-roll”06.30.14

Randy Levine, Briand Cashman

Tonight’s series opener with the Tampa Bay Rays will be the 81st game of the season for the Yankees, which officially means that we’re halfway done with the 2014 season. Time flies, doesn’t it?

The Yankees have had an inauspicious first half, yet remain in the thick of the playoff race — thanks, in large part, to the collective woes of the AL East. At best, they’ll finish the first half three games over .500. At worst, with a loss tonight, they’ll be just one game over and teetering on the edge of mediocrity.

“Up and down,” Joe Girardi said when asked to assess the Yankees’ first half. “We’ve been kind of streaky, like a lot of teams in our division. We’ve had to deal with some injury situations to our pitching staff. We’ve had some people who have really stepped up. We’ve had some people that have had some slow starts, but you look at it 80 games in, and we’re right in the middle of it.”

With the Yankees sitting just two games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays — and two games out of a wild card spot — they have every reason to go for it and be buyers before the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline.

GM Brian Cashman made an appearance following Girardi’s pregame press conference, and while he noted that it’s “difficult to acquire anything that’s impactful and significant,” he also made it clear that the Yankees are doing their due diligence.

“I’m ready to rock-and-roll,” Cashman said. “I think certain pieces — and it’s been communicated (that they’re available)  if they get what they want, which would be a extreme call — then they’re ready to move sooner than later. For those who want to step up and really pay the price, obviously it’s going to be a higher price.”

What makes pulling off a deal so difficult? Well, it’s quite simple, really. The players that the Yankees covet are also coveted by other teams. In order to get a quality player who is really going to help your big league club, you’re almost certainly going to have to part with a top prospect or two (or three). The player that you acquire might make a minor difference for half of a season, but is it worth it if you have to sacrifice a promising young player who could have a major impact for several years?

Clearly, it’s a delicate and touchy situation for any GM.

“Those are tough conversations to have and they usually hurt a great deal to do so. That’s my experience,” Cashman said. “It gets harder rather than easier, but you’ve got to go through it. You’ve got to figure it out and find ways to get something impactful.”

Delin Betances• Cashman was also asked about whether he’s surprised that the division is so tight at the midway point, which is mostly due to the fact that each team is having its own issues. But Cashman didn’t seem too concerned with any teams outside of the Bronx. “I don’t care about the division. I care about us. So I’m more worried about a lot of the issues we’re trying to deal with,” he said. “I wouldn’t have predicted this on anybody in the division, to be honest. I don’t think anyone would have predicted where they’re at either.”

• Many Yankees fans — and based on the comments that I’ve read, that includes many of you — are concerned about whether rookie sensation Dellin Betances could be on the trade block while his value is at its peak, but Cashman didn’t want to go there. “I wouldn’t say,” Cashman replied. “I wouldn’t say who gets asked a lot about, but I do know we have personnel that are very attractive to other clubs — personnel that I wouldn’t want to part with. So, we’ll go through the walk and see what takes place.”

• Cashman also seemed to focus a lot on getting their injured players back and getting their under-performing players back on track. CC Sabathia (right knee) threw another bullpen session today and has distinguished himself as the pitcher who is closest to a return. “We’ll just take it one step at a time,” Cashman said. “We obviously have to maintain health and we have to bring that pitch count (up). So you’re talking, obviously he has 37 pitches right now. So it’s just going from there, but hopefully he’s on the horizon. We’re in one of those situations where we can’t just think about it until he actually is in that position to come back. So, it’s nice to know that he’s possibly coming sooner than later.”

• Cashman watched CC’s most recent rehab outing on video, and here’s what he took away from it: “I saw in the 35-pitch outing that he had to cover first base and he bounced around extremely well with that. So that was noticeable, more so than anything else. You’re looking at if the knee’s bothering him or what have you, and at least in that outing, he looked like he was jumping around, athletic and he looked healthy based on (the video). He had to cover a ball on the right side, and then he had to cover first base on a bunt or on a ball to the left side of the field. So, he moved really well.”

• When CC is ready to return, has Girardi thought about who will take his spot? I wrote about it last night, but at this point, it may be shifting to the point where Vidal Nuno has a slight edge over the struggling Chase Whitley. Obviously, Girardi didn’t want to name any names quite yet. “I think you wait until you get to that point,” he said. “You also, in a sense, it could be where his day falls the first time out. But I think you wait to see where you are at that point, and I think it’s way too early to make a judgment yet. Hopefully, all of the starters are still healthy. Sometimes that happens, too. I’ll let it play out.”

• As for Michael Pineda, Cashman said that he’s only in the third day of his throwing program and isn’t expected to return until August. It’s going to be another month, at least. He also spoke about reliever Andrew Bailey — remember him? — who the Yankees signed during spring training, despite coming off of surgery for a torn labrum. Cashman described Bailey as, “a longshot,” and said that if he is able to make it back this season, it won’t be until September.

Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira• One of the underachievers who the Yankees are hoping is starting to get it going is Carlos Beltran. He had his best game in about two months last night, going 3 for 4 with a double and a homer. Girardi is hoping this is a sign that he’s ready to heat up. “We know that he’s a good hitter,” he said. “Obviously, he’s had to deal with his stint on the DL, but we believe that he’s going to be a big part of our order going forward, and we need that.”

• Does Girardi think that being limited to DH is negatively affecting Beltran? “I think it’s very different. It’s probably easier physically, but it’s probably tougher mentally, in a sense, because you don’t know what to do with yourself in between at-bats. Where, usually he’d be running in the outfield, and he hasn’t had a lot of practice there,” he said. “He’s never said anything, but it’s an awful lot of time to think in between at-bats. If you’re going well, it’s probably not a problem.”

• Masahiro Tanaka and Betances have been the Yankees’ best pitchers this season, and would probably be 1-2 in the voting if we were deciding on a first-half MVP for the team. But in terms of everyday players, has anyone been more valuable than Mark Teixeira? “Defensively, he’s been playing great, as well,” Girardi said. “It took him some time, but as we said, that last week in spring training, we saw a different guy. We saw him turn it loose, and then he had the hamstring issue that he had to deal with. Then the wrist got a little sore and we had to deal with that, but he’s been really good in those type of spots – RBI spots. He’s a big part of our order.”

• The Yankees have scored at least five runs in two of their last three games, but repeating that feat will be a tall order tonight against Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer, who has been very successful against the Yanks in his brief career. “Well, there’s been some different people in the lineup against him, in a sense,” Girardi said. “We don’t have a ton of at-bats against him, the people who are necessarily going to play today. The young man has a really good arm. He’s got a good slider and a good changeup, and the big thing is, you have to make him throw strikes, and I think you have to stay on his hard stuff, because his fastball is that good.”

• After Whitley only went four innings on Sunday night, are there any bullpen arms who aren’t available tonight? “You know, I’ll have to check with some guys,” Girardi said. “Obviously, Robertson is OK and Warren is OK, Thronton should be OK. I’ll probably have to go without Huff. I’ll have to check with Ramirez and see where Dellin’s at, but our bullpen should be OK.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees lineup: Same as last night06.30.14

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP David Phelps

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Pitching matchups vs. Rays06.30.14

David Phelps

Tonight
RHP David Phelps (3-4, 4.35)
vs.
RHP Chris Archer (4-5, 3.29)
7:05 p.m. YES Network and ESPN

Tuesday
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (5-5, 4.23)
vs.
LHP David Price (6-7, 3.63)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Wednesday
LHP Vidal Nuno (2-4, 5.42)
vs.
RHP Jake Odorizzi (3-7, 4.14)
1:05 p.m., YES Network vs. MLB Network

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “It’s about winning ballgames”06.30.14

Shawn Kelley

Carlos Beltran just had his best game in about two months, but as he stood outside of his locker following Sunday night’s 8-5 loss to the Red Sox, he looked like a man who just put up an 0-fer.

“It’s not about (individual) results,” he said. “It’s about winning ballgames.”

There were some positive signs from a Yankees offense that has looked anemic at times this season, as Beltran went 3 for 4 with a homer, Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to six games and Mark Teixeira blasted his 15th home run of the season, but it was all for naught.

Chase Whitley turned in his second straight bad start, as he seems to be coming back down to earth after a strong first month in the big leagues. And the middle reliever types didn’t do much to help the cause, with Shawn Kelley looking like a shell of the guy who closed when David Robertson was on the DL earlier this season.

Tonight, for a change, it was the pitching staff that failed the Yankees.

“It makes it tough to navigate through an order when you’re behind in the count and you’re walking people,” Joe Girardi said. “When you allow extra base-runners, it usually leads to damage.”

Brian McCann, Larry Rothschild, Derek Jeter, Chase Whitley• Whitley spent the majority of his minor league career as a reliever, and in the long run, that may be the role that he is best-suited for. He was a nice story for a month or so, but now that teams have had an opportunity to scout him, he’s beginning to look very hittable. His fastball is below average for a typical MLB starter, and when his off-speed stuff isn’t working, it can turn into a sticky situation. He allowed four hits through the first two innings, but limited the Red Sox to one run thanks to two double plays. But the tightrope act wouldn’t last, as David Ortiz blasted a no-doubter in the third to put Boston up 4-0. “He just made some mistakes it looked like in the middle of the plate – some balls that were up,” Girardi said. “He was able to kind of escape in the first two innings and minimize the damage with some double play balls, but then he gave up the big three-run homer. It looked like it was a fastball that he just didn’t locate.”

• Here’s Whitley on the pitch that Ortiz hit out. It was the 450th of his career, and boy, did he enjoy his jog around the bases. “I just got away from myself a little bit and made some mistakes,” he said. “I wanted to go obviously not there. I’ll remember that for next time.”

• Whitley walked the leadoff batter in the fifth, prompting Girardi to yank him in favor of Kelley. While the Yankees big foursome in the pen — Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, Matt Thornton and David Robertson — have been outstanding, depth has been an issue. Kelley used to be one of the reliable ones, but he looked flat-out bad tonight. He walked the first two batters that he saw to load the bases and then allowed a two-run single to Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees had cut the deficit to 4-3 in the previous inning, but the Red Sox seized the momentum right back. “He just didn’t look sharp,” Girardi said of Kelley. “Where we were going through the order, they had some righties and some lefties, a switch-hitter coming up. He had success against these guys and done a pretty good job, and that’s why I went to him.”

Carlos Beltran• Vidal Nuno had a very strong start in his most recent outing, but between him and Whitley — and some of the guys coming out of the pen — we’re beginning to see signs of weakness. I asked this question on Twitter before, but when CC Sabathia comes back, which guy do you pull from the rotation?  Girardi was asked if some of these rookies and younger players are being exposed. “They don’t (have much experience), but it’s an opportunity, and that’s how people really start their careers, is usually with opportunities,” he said. “A lot of times its when players go down that’s when you get an opportunity and you have to take advantage of those opportunities, so I don’t think we’re asking too much.”

• Beltran’s homer was the 366th of his career, tying Lance Berkman for fourth place on baseball’s all-time home runs list among switch-hitters. It was particularly encouraging to see him having success swinging from the left side, which has been more bothersome for that right elbow, but Beltran insisted that he has been feeling good — even before tonight. “Good results,” he said when asked what the difference was tonight. “That’s all. I feel like I have a good approach and have been putting good at-bats together.”

• The Yankees responded with two runs in the fifth after Kelley’s rough inning, and then had a chance to close the gap even more in the sixth. Beltran doubled and was sent home on Kelly Johnson’s single, but Jackie Bradley Jr. gunned him down at home plate with a laser throw. He leads all MLB center fielders with nine outfield assists. “I looked at the replay and (Bradley) made a great throw,” Beltran said. “If it was a little bit off, I probably would have been safe.”

• Final word goes to Girardi, who spoke about the wasted opportunities that the Yankees have had to make up ground in the AL East. After going 8-2 over a 10-game stretch in the middle of the month, they’ve now lost six of their last eight. The good news is that everyone else in the division is playing poorly. The Blue Jays and the Orioles also lost today. “We’re all going through our issues – there’s no doubt about it – in the division,” he said. “As I said, it’s probably going to come down to the end. Who handles the injuries the best and obviously we need to play better. I’m sure every club in our division probably says that at this point. We need to play better, but we’re right in the thick of it, and we have an opportunity.”

Associated Press photos

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Yanks offense shows signs of life, but pitchers struggle in 8-5 loss06.29.14

Chase Whitley, David Ortiz

For much of the first half of the season, the Yankees’ pitching staff has received lackluster support from the offense, but on Sunday night, the roles were reversed.

The Yanks got contributions from up-and-down the lineup, but starter Chase Whitley couldn’t record an out in the fifth inning, and neither Shawn Kelley nor David Huff was particularly effective out of the bullpen. The result was an 8-5 loss to the Boston Red Sox, as the Yankees dropped two of three in the weekend series with their struggling rival.

Whitley put the Yanks in an early hole, allowing an RBI single to Stephen Drew in the second inning and then a three-run homer to David Ortiz in the third. Ortiz saluted the home fans as he rounded the bases following his 450th career home run, much to the dismay of the sellout crowd.

The Yankees would rally, as Derek Jeter hit an RBI single in the bottom of the third and then Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran each hit solo shots in the fourth to cut the deficit to 4-3. But as soon as they grabbed some momentum, the Red Sox (38-44) swiped it right back.

Whitley issued a leadoff walk to Jackie Bradley Jr. in the fifth, which prompted manager Joe Girardi to call on Kelley. It was the second straight start poor start for Whitley, who has come back down to earth after a strong first month in his rookie season.

A key reliever for the Yankees (41-39) in the beginning of the season, Kelley has struggled since returning from the disabled list. He walked the next two batters to load the bases before Dustin Pedroia’s two-run single made it 6-3. Later in the inning, Daniel Nava would come home when Pedroia got caught in a rundown between first and second base.

Once again, the Yankees would rally in the bottom half of the fifth, as Ichiro Suzuki led off with a triple and came home on Brett Gardner’s RBI double. Gardner scored later in the inning on Jacoby Ellsbury’s RBI groundout to cut Boston’s lead to 7-5.

Huff proceeded to load the bases in the top of the sixth, but Dellin Betances kept the game from getting out of hand by recording six straight outs, with one run scoring on Pedroia’s sac fly to make it 8-5.

The Yankees had a chance to get something going in the sixth, but Beltran was thrown out at the plate following Kelly Johnson’s single. They finished with a total of eight hits, with Jeter and Beltran each having multi-hit games. Jeter now has a six-game hitting streak.

As expected, there was no retaliation from the Yankees after Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli was caught on camera referring to Masahiro Tanaka an “idiot” following his go-ahead homer in Boston’s 2-1 win on Saturday.

Associated Press photo

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Game 80: Red Sox at Yankees06.29.14

Chase WhitleyYANKEES (41-38)
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP Chase Whitley (3-1, 4.07)
Whitley has never faced the Red Sox

RED SOX (37-44)
Brock Holt 3B
Daniel Nava LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
AJ Pierzynski C
Stephen Drew SS
Mookie Betts RF
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

RHP John Lackey (8-5, 3.45)
Lackey vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 8:05 p.m., ESPN

WEATHER: Gorgeous. The humidity has died down and it’s a very pleasant 86 degrees at the moment.

UMPIRES: HP Mark Wegner, 1B Chris Segal, 2B Mike Winters, 3B Andy Fletcher

IMPROVED RESULTS: Even after Saturday night’s loss, the Yankees are still 6-3 vs. the Red Sox this season, which matches their win total against their rivals from last year. The Yanks went 6-13 against Boston in 2013.

TIME STAMP: The Yankees and Red Sox have played their first two games of this series in 2:42 (Friday) and 2:47 (Saturday), marking the first time that the two clubs have played consecutive games against each other in 2:47-or-less since 2001. So, buckle up. We’re due for a long one tonight.

YOU COMPLETE ME: Masahiro Tanaka has three complete games already this season and is the first Yankees rookie to reach that total in a single season since Orlando Hernandez did it in 1998. The last Yankees rookie to have more in one year was Doc Medich in 1973.

NOTE: I’ll be updating here every so often, but I’ll be much more active on Twitter. Follow me@vzmercogliano to join the conversation!

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: Whitley has already given up four hits through two innings, but he’s limited the damage thanks to two double plays. The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead on Drew’s RBI single in the second.

UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: Ortiz just hit a bomb off of Whitley in the third. The three-run blast makes it 4-0 Red Sox. Ortiz gave the crowd a little salute as he rounded third, as well. That might bother the Yankees more than Napoli calling Tanaka an “idiot.”

UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: After Jeter got the Yankees on the board in the third with a two-out RBI single in an 11-pitch at-bat, Tex and Beltran each hit solo shots in the fourth to cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3. The Yanks are right back in this.

UPDATE, 10:12 p.m.: Things got ugly for the Yanks in the fifth, with Whitley walking the leadoff batter and then Shawn Kelley walking the next two to load the bases and set up Pedroia’s two-run single. Another run scored when Pedroia was caught in a rundown between first and second base, giving the Red Sox a 7-3 lead. But the Yanks just got two back with Ichiro’s leadoff triple, Gardner’s RBI double and Ellsbury’s RBI groundout.

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Pregame notes: “I’ve never had the sense that he’s a bad guy”06.29.14

Red Sox Yankees Baseball

For anyone who thought that we might see the Yankees retaliate against Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli after he was caught on camera referring to Masahiro Tanaka as an, “idiot,” following his go-ahead homer with two outs in the ninth of Boston’s 2-1 win on Saturday, Joe Girardi’s message is don’t count on it.

Napoli clearly made some unsavory remarks about Tanaka, but it was in reference to the pitch selection — it certainly was a questionable decision to throw a 1-2 fastball in that spot with the array of pitches at Tanaka’s disposal — and it was directed at his teammates. For those reasons, Girardi downplayed it as a non-issue.

“I kind of heard second-hand,” Girardi said. “I don’t make much of it. It’s yesterday, it’s heat of the moment, and it doesn’t really change the complexion of the game. And it doesn’t change today’s game.”

In his defense, Napoli didn’t flip his bat or Cadillac it around the bases, and he didn’t make an attempt to purposely show up Tanaka.

Many want to make it into a big deal to juice up a rivalry that may have lost a bit of its luster in the past few seasons, but the Yankees don’t seem to be concerned.

“I haven’t seen anything from Mike Napoli where he’s a guy that shows people up, or he’s a guy who degrades people,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, everything is seen now in the world that we live in, but I’ve never had the sense that he’s a bad guy. I’ve always thought of him as a guy who plays hard and loves to play the game.”

• The bigger concern for the Yanks is how Tanaka will respond to after losing his second straight start in such heartbreaking fashion, but Girardi repeatedly pointed out that Tanaka had pitched a brilliant game up to that point. Let’s face it: He’s been the biggest bright spot on the team and is probably the least of the Yankees’ concerns. “I really don’t,” Girardi said when asked he has any worries about his rookie ace. “I think that he’ll be fine. The bottom line is – and I think it gets lost – is that he pitched a great game. I don’t want him to lose sight of that, that he pitched well, and I won’t lose sight of it. If we score three runs, it’s not even talked about, so I think he’ll be fine.”

Red Sox Yankees Baseball• With that being said, it’s hard to figure out why Tanaka went with the fastball in that spot. With a 1-2 count, it was the perfect time to try and get Napoli to chase an off-speed pitch, and Napoli even said that he was expecting a splitter in the dirt. Tanaka did him a favor by giving him an unexpected pitch that he could handle, and Girardi said that it will be a learning experience. “I think all of us learn from situations that we’re in, and I think he’ll put that in his cap and it’ll be in his thought process the next time that he’s in a situation like that, and we’ll move on,” he said. “Believe me, we talk about things in length. I have not talked to him yet, but I’m sure it’s going to come up at some point.”

• Red Sox manager John Farrell also downplayed what Napoli said. “We have the upmost respect for Tanaka. I know Mike does,” he said. “His comment was based on an emotion in that moment, but it wasn’t meant to be degrading towards Tanaka.”

• Girardi had an interesting take on the leeway that is given when it comes to in-game emotions. “I always talk about as a catcher, if you get in a fight with a pitcher and you start going back-and-forth, if they say things that are derogatory or degrading the next day, then I have a problem with my pitcher,” he said. “But if it’s in the heat of the battle, I really don’t. Some of the things that (David Cone) would say to me, I would laugh. I’d turn around and laugh when I walk back, but it’s the heat of the moment and players get excited.”

• Of course, Girardi was asked about what Cone used to say to him. “He kicked me out of the bullpen one day when he was warming up,” he said. “He told me to shut up, go back and catch – those sort of things. That’s who he was. He was passionate about what he did, and it was the heat of the moment. And I would laugh. It kind of broke the ice a lot of the time, in a sense. It was funny. We used to say that he had that temperament, where, at times, he could snap a little bit. And you know what? I have that temperament, too. We’ve seen it.”

• In non-Tanaka news, Girardi said that CC Sabathia reported that he felt good today and will likely make his next rehab start somewhere closer to New York. Sabathia threw 2 2/3 innings in his first rehab start on Saturday for Class A-Tampa, allowing two runs on three hits. “(Head trainer) Stevie (Donahue) talked to him and he said he felt good,” he said. “He’ll be here to throw a bullpen and we’ll take a look at it and decide where his next start is. They talked about it being maybe closer to here.”

• Tonight’s starter is Chase Whitley, who is coming off of his worst start of the season in which he allowed eight runs over 3 1/3 innings. He was a revelation when he first came up, but he’ll have to adjust as opposing teams become more familiar with him. “I think it’s command and I think it’s his off-speed,” Girardi said. “He struggled with his off-speed the last time, and I think especially his slider, so you kind of take a look at that. Even though that’s not his No. 1 pitch, it’s developed into a very good pitch. For a starter to get through the lineup a couple of times, you need three pitches, so that’s important for him today.”

Brian McCann• With the midway point of the season approaching, Girardi was asked how he would assess Brian McCann’s first half. “If you were to look solely at how our staff has done, his RBI totals and his home runs, you’d probably say, ‘You know what? He’s having a pretty good year.’ But when you look at that average, that’s kind of glaring. I think people say, ‘You know what? He’s not having the year that he’s capable of.’ I know he expects more from himself, but some of the important numbers, he’s doing a pretty good job at,” he said. “He’s done a really good job with our staff. He’s with his eighth or ninth starter at this point. He had to learn a whole new league. He had to learn five starters who didn’t last very long. Three of them got hurt pretty quickly, and he had to really familiarize himself with three more.”

• Back in 1996, Girardi also got off to a slow start in his first season in pinstripes and he spoke about the trend of players struggling when they first come here. “My first month and a half was pretty rough, if you remember,” he said. “There were some people that I had some really important talks with along the way – one being my wife, and one being Mr. Zimmer – about just being who you are. Don’t try to be someone else, and I think that’s the trap that some players fall into when they come here. And I wasn’t expected to make a huge impact like Brian was, so I didn’t have to deal with that. I had to deal with replacing Mike Stanley, who was a fan favorite at the time, but I think over time, you’re going to see that Brian is going to be a very, very good Yankee for a long time, and his numbers will be where they’re supposed to be.”

• Chad was here last night, so I didn’t hear the comments first-hand, but apparently Carlos Beltran mistakenly told the media that his troublesome right elbow has been bothering him. According to Girardi, he was referring to a minor forearm issue that he’s had since attempting to throw a few weeks ago. He said that Beltran has told him repeatedly that he’s fine, and he’ll probably try to throw again sometime next week. “I just went and talked to him, and he made reference to (the elbow) last night. But he was making reference to the forearm, which got stiff a little bit,” Girardi said. “His elbow has not been a problem. His forearm got stiff from throwing, and that’s why we shut him down. I said to Carlos, ‘We talk about this every day. Are you OK?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’m OK. (The media) was talking about my elbow, but in my mind, I was thinking about my forearm.’ ”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 157 Comments →

Yankees lineup: Johnson back at third06.29.14

Good afternoon, folks! Vin Mercogliano checking in from the Yankees clubhouse (the power of the iPad!) and I’ll be here for the next two games — tonight’s series finale with the Red Sox and tomorrow’s opener against Tampa Bay. I’ll have pregame notes coming soon, but for now, here’s tonight’s lineup:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP Chase Whitley

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Miscwith 71 Comments →

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