The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Postgame notes: “They’re all damaging at this point”09.05.14

Carlos Beltran

Last night, Chase Headley stood in front of his locker and talked about confidence and momentum. Tonight he stood in that exact same spot and talked about the fact that one hard-hit ground ball was enough to beat this team that he believes in so completely.

“You never are resigned to the fact that that’s going to cost you,” Headley said. “But obviously it did. It’s a tough way to lose a game.”

That one ground ball was a third-inning scorcher that took a late hop just past his glove. He said he played it pretty well, but he didn’t anticipate the kick and so the ball got by him. When the Royals followed with a single, they had all the offense they needed.

One unearned run, that’s the game-by-game margin for error with an offense that tends to disappear on occasion. As for the season’s margin for error — the one that determines whether the Yankees actually make a run toward the playoffs — that seems just as narrow.

“They’re all damaging at this point because it just makes it that much tougher,” manager Joe Girardi said. “… It’s just frustrating because you lose by one run. Whether its 2-1 or 3-2, it’s frustrating. We just really never got anything going.”

There’s little debate that James Shields is an extremely good pitcher. The Yankees were able to get to him two weeks ago in Kansas City, but the guy has a 3.23 ERA for a reason. He’s awfully good, and it was clear pretty early that Shields had his good stuff tonight. In another season, in a different situation, it would be a good night to tip a cap and move on.

But the Yankees don’t have that luxury at this point. Shields was great. The Yankees needed to be better, and they weren’t.

Michael Pineda• Definitely Michael Pineda’s best start since coming off the disabled list, and probably his best start of the year. He pitched through the seventh inning for the first time, and that one unearned run was the only damage he allowed. He’s the second Yankees starter in the past 10 years to take a loss despite not allowing an earned run. The other was all-time good guy Dan Giese who did it in 2008.

• Pineda struck out four and walked none. He has 19 strikeouts and only one walk in his past six starts.

• Pineda has allowed two earned runs or less in each of his nine starts with the Yankees. Mike Axisa pointed out on Twitter that Pineda has a 1.80 ERA, but the Yankees at 3-6 in his starts. Brutal. Just brutal.

• Three of the seven times the Yankees have been shutout this season, it’s happened in games started by Pineda. But at least he’s used to it. He has just 18 runs of support in his past 13 major league starts dating back to August 27, 2011.

• What was working for Pineda? “Tonight, my changeup was working pretty good,” he said. “And my fastball too. Everything was working good. And I have control and good command of the ball tonight.” That’s a pretty good combination for him.

• Our friend Sweeny Murti is reporting that Francisco Cervelli is dealing with some severe headache issues. To give the Yankees an extra catcher, Austin Romine is expected to join the team.

• Headley on his costly error: “Hard-hit groundball. Got down. It kicked up over my glove. I watched it a few times. Technique-wise there’s probably not a whole lot I could have done different. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to catch it. It’s a play that I’d like to make, but it just didn’t happen.”

Brett Gardner• Less than two weeks ago, the Yankees had six runs and 10 hits against James Shields. “He pitched way different than the Shields that we faced in Kansas City,” Carlos Beltran said. “Today he was using a lot of cutters and the changeup away so basically he keep us off balanced all game long and we couldn’t do anything until the ninth.”

• Speaking of the ninth, Antoan Richardson got a chance for redemption after being doubled up last night. This time he stole the base he needed — looked to me like he would have been safe even if the ball hadn’t gotten past the catcher — but the Yankees left him stranded.

• Beltran struck out against Wade Davis to end the game. “He tried to throw me some good pitches on the corner on the edges,” Beltran said. “And (he) threw me a 94 (MPH) cutter inside and he stayed away after that with a good fastball. … I guess today is the first time I faced that guy so I was basically looking for a good pitch to hit, and at the end of the day he was able to win the battle.”

• Davis struck out the two batters he faced tonight. He extended his lead-leading scoreless innings streak to 28.2 innings. He hasn’t allowed a run since June 25. This was his first save of the season.

• Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning and now has 124 strikeouts in 82 innings, passing Goose Gossage for the second-most strikeouts by a Yankees reliever in a single season. Mariano Rivera still has the record — for now — with 130 in 1996.

• Final word to Girardi: “(James) just didn’t make any mistakes. There were no balls in the middle of the plate. It seemd like he used all his stuff effectively, whether it was his fastball early in the count, his cutter, his curveball or his changeup, they were all effective tonight. A jam shot here, just missed a ball there, he was really on.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I didn’t see him favoring anything”08.28.14

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka threw 49 pitches spread across three simulated innings this morning. His control wasn’t great, but Tanaka said he felt none of the pain he was experiencing last month when he landed on the disabled list.

“I’m looking more at health than anything else and making sure he’s not staying away from things,” Joe Girardi said. “He did not, so I was pleased. … It’s one thing to do a game like this and (another thing) to get in a real game. I understand that’s going to be a little bit different, but I didn’t see him favoring anything, and that’s a good sign.”

The only hitter Tanaka faced was Brendan Ryan, who even took several at-bats — and two swings — left-handed to give Tanaka various looks.

“It feels like the velocity is there,” Ryan said. “Some of them are a little bit up or whatever, but that speaks to just being off for a little while. I don’t expect him to be pinpoint or anything like that. Just nice to see him throwing without any pain, from what we understand. He threw some really good sliders. That I didn’t quite expect. … He could go out there and get outs right now just on stuff alone.”

Girardi said he’s not entirely sure what’s next for Tanaka, but barring a setback he’ll throw some sort of game — either a sim game or a rehab game or some sort of intrasquad game — early next week, either on four days or five days rest. The Yankees haven’t had a gun on Tanaka, so it’s hard to say whether he’s throwing with as much strength as the Yankees would expect when he’s 100 percent healthy. At some point, they’ll check his velocity, but Girardi said that’s not a focus or a concern at this point. Tanaka will have to throw at least two more “games” before being activated.

Does he expect to be just as good as before when he returns?

“Can’t really say until I actually step on a mound in a game,” Tanaka said. “But right now all I’m trying to do is get myself back to the best shape possible. … I think that being cautious is better than being more excited.”

Francisco Cervelli• Francisco Cervelli is out of the lineup but said he feels fine after taking last night’s foul tip. If you saw the video, you know it wasn’t a particularly comfortable situation for Cervelli. And he said the video didn’t lie. That foul ball got him pretty good.

• Carlos Beltran returns to the DH role after back-to-back games in right field. “I have not seen him today, but I asked him last night how he felt and he said he felt fine,” Girardi said.

• Apparently there was some talk that the Yankees might bring Tanaka back as a reliever in an effort to get him back sooner. Girardi said there’s no chance of that. “No, I don’t think so,” he said. “I think we consider him a starter, and he’ll be a starter.”

• Why was Ryan batting left-handed? Turns out, both he and Stephen Drew mess around with switch hitting in the cage. Ryan said Drew has a pretty decent right-handed swing, so Ryan’s been countering with his left-handed swing. He took two hacks today left-handed. One was a swing and miss. The other was a hit, or as Ryan called it, an “Ichiro knock.”

• Highlight of the morning: Third-base coach Rob Thomson was wearing a t-shirt that said NO RE59ECT, a direct reference to the Derek Jeter RE2PECT logo. Hilarious.

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: “We’re going to get all the way through this”08.21.14

Carlos Beltran, Brandon McCarthy

Having gone nearly two weeks without scoring more than four runs in a game, a group of Yankees hitters gathered this morning for an “enough is enough” meeting. Brett Gardner said they “cleared the air” a little bit. Chase Headley said a few players talked about playing with more energy and emotion.

“Play the way that we’re capable of playing,” Headley said. “We understand that we’re a lot better offensively than we’ve shown. That was kind of the point, to come out with a little bit of fire and hopefully put some runs on the board.”

Brandon McCarthyThe Yankees showed exactly that kind of fire during a three-run spurt in the second inning, but the reason they won this game and avoided a sweep rested almost entirely on Brandon McCarthy. Maybe the offense is ready to do something big and turn itself around, but for at least one more day, the pitching did the bulk of the heavy lifting.

This was McCarthy’s ninth career complete game and fourth career shutout. He hadn’t thrown one in more than a year, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to throw one today. Even though it doesn’t show in the scorebook, McCarthy said he started to fatigue in the fifth inning and felt “wobbly” through the middle of the game.

Whatever McCarthy was feeling, apparently Francisco Cervelli would have none of it.

“He was angry with me,” McCarthy said. “He was like, ‘Your stuff’s so good, let’s go. We’re going to get all the way through this.’ From early on in the game, he was on me. He was just making sure I knew what we were doing, what the plan was, making sure that I continue to execute it. And then when I was lulling a little bit, he made sure to stay on top of me. He was yelling at me more than anything, which was that nice little kick in the a** that I needed.”

A three-run game when the Yankees again had just one hit with runners in scoring position wasn’t exactly the offensive explosion they wanted, but this was absolutely the win they needed. An early lead, a quick and dominant performance by McCarthy, and the team’s third victory since August 8.

In the clubhouse afterward, Ice Cube’s early-90s anthem “It Was a Good Day” blared from the speaker that sits between Cervelli’s and David Huff’s lockers. Maybe it wasn’t a perfect day — not a big offensive day — but McCarthy made sure it was still a good day.

“What we’ve been doing hasn’t been working,” Brett Gardner said. “So hopefully we can take this momentum, carry it over into the weekend and play some better baseball. … It was a good talk (during the pregame meeting) and hopefully we continue to do what we did today – and that’s win.”

Martin Prado, Jose Altuve• Headley and Gardner each indicated that the pregame meeting wasn’t necessarily called by anyone in particular — at least, not that they were willing to identify — but Gardner said there “might have been” some coaches involved in the conversation. “Just some of the position players got together and said enough is enough, and let’s go,” Headley said. “… It was just, let’s get on the same page and let’s go. I know everybody wants to win, everybody’s working, everybody’s doing the right things. You need that little extra sometimes and I think sometimes those little discussions – I don’t know if you’d really call it a meeting – but getting those guys together and getting guys on the same page can go a long ways.”

• Pretty funny quote from Gardner when asked what he meant when he said the team “cleared the air” during the meeting. “I just told Derek how much I didn’t like him,” Gardner said. Pretty good line.

• But seriously, did the offense need a meeting like that? “I don’t think it ever hurts,” Gardner said. “At this point, we’re trying to mix things up a little bit. … A lot of guys talked. It was good. Hopefully a game like today kind of gets us going a little bit and we can carry that momentum over into the weekend.”

• It was Headley who first mentioned the meeting, and while he didn’t really seem embarrassed to have spilled the beans, he seemed intent on creating the proper impression of what it meant and what it was about. “It was just guys getting together and kind of talking about how things have been going and what we can get better at,” Headley said. “It’s not a matter of trying harder. I promise you, there’s not a lack of effort in here.”

• Speaking of Headley, he had the only RISP hit of the game to drive in two of the Yankees three runs with a second-inning double. Two RBI were his most in a game since July 18 with San Diego.

• McCarthy was 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in Arizona. With the Yankees, he’s 5-2 with a 1.90, the lowest ERA of any Yankees pitcher who’s made at least one start this season. “I think my pitch mix is better now,” McCarthy said. “The cutter and the four-seam have become pitches I can use as weapons again. In turn, that just starts to build confidence. Kind of becomes a self-fulfilling thing. In Arizona, I’m not getting out of jams and not performing well. That starts to roll (the wrong way). Here I feel confident again. I feel like I’m able to get through situations I wasn’t there. Then you start to believe you can. It’s just kind of the story of the season, riding those ups and downs. In the future I’d like to mitigate that a little better, make sure you don’t get too high, too low.”

Francisco Cervelli, Brandon McCarthy• Biggest jam of the game was the seventh inning when McCarthy allowed a one-out ground-rule double that put runners at second and third. That was one of the moments when Cervelli got on McCarthy and made sure he was on top of his game. “I didn’t want to give any runs,” Cervelli said. “So I kind of feel like we can strike the next guy out and work with the next one, and that’s what he did. Just tried to give him a little push and that’s it. But he was so great.”

• McCarthy described Cervelli’s between-inning conversations as “yelling.” How often does Cervelli have that sort of interaction with a pitcher? “It depends on the situation,” Cervelli said. “Just trying to make him believe that he was so good today, and I wanted it for the whole game, just to let the bullpen breathe a little bit too.”

• More from McCarthy on the role of Cervelli in getting him through nine innings. “In the dugout it’s just a stern, ‘Hey lets go. You stay with me. Let’s go we’re going to get through this.’ Even after the seventh where I’m fighting through that inning and getting out of a jam, you feel like you’ve left everything there, he’s like ‘C’mon, we’re going to go back out for the eighth. We’ve got more in us. We’re going to keep going.’ And that’s a great thing to have when you feel like you’re fatiguing, and it’s someone else who says, ‘Let’s go, you’re going to come with me.’”

• Girardi had Dave Robertson up in the ninth inning and said he was going batter to batter with McCarthy. If a runner got on, Robertson was coming in to finish it off, but McCarthy retired the last eight batters he faced.

• Funny how, as he’s continued to play so well, Gardner has become a go-to source for big picture comments in the clubhouse. With that in mind, we’ll give the final word to Gardner: “It was nice to have a quick game and a win. Obviously we would have liked to score more than three runs, but at this point we’ll take a win any way we can get it. It’s good to get back on the right track and hopefully have a good weekend against the White Sox.”

Associated Press photos

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Cervelli stepping in and stepping up07.26.14

David Robertson, Francisco Cervelli

Francisco Cervelli has gotten a ticket to more playing time behind the plate thanks to the injuries to Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson. Brian McCann has been needed to fill the hole at first base, leaving Cervelli to catch.

He has started five straight games — his longest stretch since he caught 10 straight in May of 2010 — and has done fine. Cervelli has four doubles in the last three games. He has hit safely in nine of his past 10 starts, batting .400 (14 for 35) with six doubles and three RBI in those games. His hitting streak is at seven games.

Last year, he missed the final 140 games due to a fractured hand and his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. And then he missed 55 games after suffering a hamstring strain April 13. But he’s at .356 (16 for 45) since being reactivated June 17, which includes a 2-for-3 effort in Friday night’s 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.

“I just think as he has gotten more at-bats under his belt, he understands what people are trying to do to him and he understands what he needs to do,” Joe Girardi said. “Cervi’s biggest issue is — he had the concussion issue (in 2011) and … he broke the hand last year — getting nicked up.

“But when he’s played for us, he’s played really well. It’s a nice player to have on your team because he allows you to do a lot of things with (McCann). In a situation where we don’t have a first baseman, we can run Mac at first every day, and it’s worked out well.

“Cervi, it was tough when we lost him last year because he had started to take over that No. 1 spot and was playing extremely well and swinging the bat extremely well. But he’s just matured and understands what he needs to do.”

Here’s my story on last night’s victory and the Yankees’ domination of Mark Buehrle as well as the Jays when they come to the Bronx. And here’s my feature story on today’s starter Chris Capuano. He’s rather happy to be here and starting again.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Pregame notes: Yankees expect Teixiera decision tomorrow07.24.14

Mark Teixeira

Joe Girardi said the Yankees will to make a decision tomorrow regarding Mark Teixiera. He’s either healthy enough to rejoin the lineup in a few days, or he’s hurt enough to go on the disabled list.

“It’s just seeing how he feels after three or four days (of rest),” Girardi said. “And then we’ll decide if we think it’s going to be in the near future that he would play, or if we’re going to need the 15 days. If it’s going to be 12, 13, 14 days, it probably make sense to get a player.”

This is Teixeira’s fourth day off after getting that injection for his strained lat. Without him, the Yankees really don’t have a first baseman. Kelly Johnson was the backup, but now he’s on the disabled list, and Brian McCann has become the first base regular, but at some point Francisco Cervelli’s going to need a day off behind the plate.

“I’ve got like 11 other guys I can run out there,” Girardi said, either joking or making a fair statement about the fact one inexperienced guy is just as good as another. “I talked to Chase (Headley) about it. Chase said he would feel comfortable going over there. I would not be afraid to put Brendan Ryan there. I would not be afraid to put (Zelous) Wheeler there.”

But if Teixeira is going to be out much longer, the Yankees might as well add someone who gives more flexibility at first base. That could be bringing up a first baseman — I assume either Kyle Roller or Jose Pirela — or bringing up a catcher so that McCann can play first base full time for the time being.

“We’ll get through today,” Girardi said. “And we’ll probably have something tomorrow and we’ll make a decision.”

Derek Jeter• Michael Pineda’s scheduled simulated game was rained out, so he pitched inside and threw the equivalent of two innings. Not ideal, but the Yankees will move forward with his rehab schedule. In five days he’ll go three innings or 45-50 pitches. Girardi said he wasn’t sure whether that would be a sim game or an actual rehab assignment.

• Regular day off for Derek Jeter, and Girardi said it has nothing to do with ground ball pitcher Brandon McCarthy being on the mound. “It’s just kind of the way it goes,” Girardi said. “Day game (after a night game). If it was a night game, he probably would’ve played.”

• Would Girardi consider swapping roles by putting Cervelli at first base and using McCann behind the plate? “I could do that, (but) I’m not sure I would,” Girardi said. “Cervy’s next thing might be a day off. But right now he’s extremely energetic still and he has that in him.”

• Girardi wouldn’t go into detail about why he preferred Jacoby Ellsbury leading off and Brett Gardner batting second today, but he was also asked if he’s ever considered — given Ellsbury’s steals and Gardner’s surprising power — batting Ellsbury leadoff and Gardner third when the Yankees have a full lineup. “That I wouldn’t do,” Girardi said. “It’s just that Gardy’s really never hit in that spot. Jake is a guy that I feel I can move around because he has moved around, in a sense. I’ve toyed with different ideas. I won’t say the other day that I didn’t think about hitting Gardy (third). I thought that Jake might not be available to me that one day, maybe I do hit Gardy third, but I probably wouldn’t do it. But I said probably.”

• Just to be clear, the Yankees don’t expect Teixeira to play tomorrow, only that they’ll have a better idea about his health tomorrow. “I don’t think tomorrow’s the day,” Girardi said. “But obviously you want to feel that there’s progress and that he feels better and that he can start doing some stuff. We felt that we’d give him three days not doing much with treatment and we’d see where we’re at.”

• The Yankees are keeping their extra pitcher for today. Could lose a pitcher tomorrow to add a position player. Likely want to know what’s going on with Teixeira before making that decision.

• McCarthy has pitched well since coming to the Yankees, and he’s given some credit to the fact the Yankees are having him throw his cutter again. “I think guys want to feel like they have all their weapons,” Girardi said. “That was a big pitch for him. I know that when we faced him that was a huge pitch for him, and for him to get that back and feel comfortable with it would be really important.”

Associated Press photos

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Yankees pregame: Cervelli back, Murphy down06.17.14

John Ryan MurphyJohn Ryan Murphy has been sent down to Triple-A and Francisco Cervelli has been activated from the DL, not just to be the backup catcher, but again to possibly be one of the backups for Mark Teixeira. When Cervelli hurt his hamstring back in mid-April, it was a game in which he started at first base. Two of his five starts in April were at first.

Joe Girardi said a choice between Kelly Johnson and Cervelli would come down to matchups.

“I think I’m comfortable there,” Cervelli said. “But I don’t want to forget about catching. That’s what I like, but I want to help any way I can.”

This has been the second straight season Cervelli has missed a huge chunk of time. He said he stayed positive these last two months.

“It’s frustrating,” Cervelli said. “But this time I took it differently. … I spent time with my dad. I recovered so fast before the 60 days.”

John Ryan Murphy got sent down to Triple-A to make room. He hit .286 with one homer and eight RBI in 24 games.

“He played extremely well,” Girardi said. “Obviously we were pleased with what he did. … We think it’s important for him to go play every day.”

CC Sabathia threw a 25-pitch bullpen yesterday and will have another session out there tomorrow. Joe Girardi compared this to the beginning of spring training for him.

Michael Pineda, who was shut down after his setback, is scheduled to play catch Saturday.

Rotation fill-in Vidal Nuno is 1-3 with a 5.90 ERA. Adam Warren has been mentioned as a possible replacement. But the reliever would have to be stretched out. Girardi said Warren could probably only go up to about 50 pitches now.

“We’ll continue to evaluate our staff and decide what we’re going to do,” Girardi said.

Tonight it appears the ball is in good hands. It’s Masahiro Tanaka time.

“Obviously Tanaka is the best pitcher on the planet,” Sabathia said.

Photo by The Associated Press

 

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Nova off to shaky start04.08.14

Ivan NovaSo what’s up with Ivan Nova?

He allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits over 3 2/3 innings in losing to the Orioles after walking five in 5 2/3 in his first start in Houston. Nova only gave up two runs in that game and was the winner, but in this game, he couldn’t minimize the damage and the Yankees ended up losing 14-5.

“I don’t feel good when you pitch that way with the good spring training that I had,” Nova said.  “It’s only the second time. I have plenty of time to fix it and get back to where I want to be.”

He had a problem with his curve, and his sinker was up. Nova said he needs to get his pitches down.

“I wouldn’t make too much out of two starts,” Joe Girardi said. “I know it’s glaring in the beginning. I know he’s more than capable of turning this around and being a big-time pitcher for us.”

There was a chance for Nova to get out of the first with no runs scored instead of three. But Derek Jeter couldn’t reach Delmon Young’s bouncing single for a double-play try.

“I know he tried the best to get the double play,” Nova said. “That’s the game.”

Despite struggling, Nova didn’t walk anyone. So Yankees starting pitchers haven’t walked a batter now in five straight games.

Francisco Cervelli got his first shot at first base. He admitted he missed one foul ball that he probably should have caught. But Girardi said he was OK with his work over there.

“He passed for me,” Girardi said.

So Cervelli could be another option vs. lefties with Mark Teixeira out.

Yangervis Solarte doubled twice, making the rookie third baseman the first player since 1900 with at least six doubles in the first seven games of his career.

Jacoby Ellsbury went 3 for 4 and is 12 for his last 22 after starting 0 for 7.

Alfonso Soriano hit homer No. 1 on the season and No. 407 for his career, tying Duke Snider for 50th on the all-time list.

I’ll have more on Masahiro Tanaka’s Wednesday night Bronx debut in the morning.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Yankees pregame: Who’s on first? The catcher04.08.14

Francisco Cervelli, David RobertsonGreetings, Brian Heyman back with you. It’s been a while. I’m here at Yankee Stadium today, tomorrow and Friday. Chad’s Ironman streak is over. I lost count of his consecutive-day record. Even Ripken eventually took a day off.

Here’s a guy who is on duty today as well: Meet your new Yankees first baseman, Francisco Cervelli. At least for the start of this game with lefty Wei-Yin Chen going for the Orioles.

So when was the last time the backup catcher played first? He said he was 15. But he has worked out at first occasionally.

“If I’ve got to pitch, I’ll go, too,” Cervelli said. “It’s not like I feel like I’m Mark Teixeira, but I think I’m going to be comfortable with more games. I think it’s like every other position. If I feel I’m not going to catch the ball, I’m going to block it.”

Sounds like a catcher playing first base. Joe Girardi called this move “low risk.”

“I really believe he can do it,” Girardi said. “I do. We’re going to find out.”

Girardi said the reward, if it works out, is “more flexibility during the course of the season. We don’t anticipate Tex being out very long, but you never know.”

Why no Brian McCann at first?

“I’ve seen Cervelli take ground balls and I like what I’ve seen,” Girardi said. “I’ve never seen Brian McCann take a ground ball.”

Girardi said Shawn Kelley will probably get much of the closing opportunities with David Robertson now officially on the DL with his groin strain. But Girardi also said Kelley will probably not be available today. If that’s the case, who would close if need be?

“That a good question?” Girardi said. “Let’s see where they are in the lineup.”

Robertson has been replaced on the roster by Cesar Cabral, up from Triple-A. The lefty had  a strong spring training.

“We’re seeing some pretty tough left-handed hitters this week, and we feel he can help us,” Girardi said.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Yankees postgame: Hughes deserved better06.27.13

Phil HughesPhil Hughes got back on track, allowing two runs and five hits across eight innings. And yet he still lost for the fifth time in his last six decisions and fell to 3-7 overall.

“He pitched way too good to get a loss,” Lyle Overbay said.

Hughes had seven days between starts and he put them to good use, working on mechanical issues and taking a step back to collect himself.

“I just felt like the last week or so really helped me,” Hughes said, “just to kind of gather my thoughts for a few days and work on some things on the side. I felt like I had better plan and better mechanics and threw the ball pretty good. … Whenever you’re trying to get through some rough stretches, it helps just to take a deep breath.”

There had been chatter about Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda waiting in the wings with Hughes struggling. But this isn’t his first bout with inconsistency.

“I don’t let the talk creep into my head,” Hughes said.

The Yankees are just 12-18 over the last 30 games, and the sporadic offense has obviously contributed. The Yankees were shut out for the seventh time, including three times this month. They were blanked only six times all of last season.

This time, Derek Holland shut them out on two hits. Do you know when the previous time was that a Rangers pitcher shut the Yankees out on two or less hits? That would be never. It hadn’t happened since the franchise moved from Washington to Texas in 1972. Joe Coleman last did it for the Senators on July 19, 1969.

“I believe we’re capable of scoring runs,” Joe Girardi said.

With this group?

“I think we can, but time will tell,” Girardi said.

On the rehab front, Derek Jeter actually drove Alex Rodriguez after their workout from Steinbrenner Field to the nearby minor-league complex, according to The Associated Press. Jeter ran outside for the first time since the second ankle fracture was discovered in April and reported no problems. The AP report stated that A-Rod took simulated at-bats. ESPNNewYork.com reported that Rodriguez basically told the Yankees Wednesday that he wasn’t sure when or if he will be back this season. But Jeter gave a positive review in the AP report.

“He looked good,” Jeter said. “Alex works extremely hard. He’s working hard now to come back.”

Jeter wouldn’t label A-Rod a distraction.

“Why would he be a distraction?” Jeter asked.

Francisco Cervelli, according to the AP, has been doing his hitting indoors. Curtis Granderson is doing range-of-motion exercises. No swinging yet. A minor-leaguer took a swing, though, launching a homer in batting practice that deflected off the clubhouse roof and hit Granderson’s car.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Romine catching on05.19.13

Austin RomineAustin Romine got off to a slow start behind the plate after being called up when Francisco Cervelli went down with a broken hand.

There was that forgettable first start April 29 against the Astros at Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte lost his cutter in the first inning and Romine struggled to get on the same page with him. The Yankees ended up losing 9-1.

But the 24-year-0ld rookie catcher has taken some steps forward back there since then. Good thing, too. Because Cervelli’s primary replacement, Chris Stewart, hurt his groin Thursday night and has been only available in a pinch. It sounded like Stewart won’t be starting the first two games in Baltimore. So Romine, who has guided the pitchers to a 2.25 ERA during his 60 innings, will get more time.

“I think he’s gotten in a better rhythm with our pitchers,” Girardi said. “He has a better understanding. He’s been able to watch them a couple of times. He’s gotten back there with I think almost everybody at this point. So I think he’s just getting more comfortable.

“It’s always tough when you come in the middle of the season as a catcher, and especially when you’re a young catcher, to feel like you know exactly what they want to do. That can be difficult. It could be a day when the guy doesn’t have everything, and that even makes it harder. But I think he’s adjusted really, really well.”

Romine is also 3 for 6 at the plate over the last two games after starting out 1 for 16.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 252 Comments →

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