The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Postgame notes: “When I’m right, I can get anybody”08.06.11

It’s easy to see the trend developing between CC Sabathia and the Red Sox. The numbers paint a pretty convincing picture, and it’s not a good one for the Yankees ace: He’s 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against the rest of baseball, but 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against Boston. He’d allowed a total of seven runs in his previous eight starts, but allowed seven runs in six innings today.

“I can see (being worried) if I hadn’t beat them in the last three years,” Sabathia said. “But I have. So that gives me confidence to know that I can go out and pitch well against this team.”

The Yankees are quick to point out that Sabathia allowed just one run in one of those Boston losses, and it was one bad inning that cost him in another. Instead of looking for broad story lines, they focused on the specifics of this start. Again, the evidence was convincing.

Sabathia: “Fastball command wasn’t there. Everybody knows I throw everything off my fastball. It was just cutting and up-and-out and just all over the place. It was a tough day today.”

Francisco Cervelli: “Early in the game we had no fastball control, so it was tough with the Red Sox lineup. It’s tough, man. If you get behind, if you make mistakes, you’re going to pay because they’re really good.”

Larry Rothschild: “I think you need all your pitches in a game like today. I think he got into a little bit of a pattern of throwing fastballs when he didn’t have to in some situations, and he didn’t command it as good as he has been. He was up a lot. Even the strikes were up and away. They weren’t located as well as he usually locates them. It was one of those days for him.”

Fastball command was the issue today. Sabathia said it was fastball command that got him into hitters’ counts, and it was fastball command that left hitable pitches over the plate. If there was an adjustment to be made, it didn’t happen quickly enough.

“When I’m right, I can get anybody,” Sabathia said. “It’s just one of those things.”

Here’s Sabathia. It’s kind of hard to hear parts of it, but he did his interview out in the concourse so bad audio is unavoidable.

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Three comments about pitch selection, and whether Sabathia should have adjusted without his fastball command:

Sabathia: “It’s just me not recognizing it early enough and going to other pitches. Maybe use my changeup a little more, maybe use my cutter a little more. In some of those hitters counts, I was just trying to make a pitch with a fastball and it just wasn’t working out for me.”

Rothschild: “They’re going to have prolonged at-bats and they’re going to make adjustments. You have to be able to make adjustments, and the only way to do that is to have command of more than one pitch.”

Cervelli: “Maybe if the fastball is in a good location and they get jammed, it’s another opinion. I’ve got my plans. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s wrong.”

• The pitching matchup seemed lopsided in the Yankees favor, but John Lackey was able to limit the damage. The Yankees were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and they left nine men on base. The leadoff man reached base in the sixth, seventh and ninth without the Yankees scoring a run.

• The best chance to get back in the game came when the first three batters reached in the fifth. The Yankees got only one run out of it because Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira struck out, and Robinson Cano grounded to third. “Boston had already done what they needed to do,” Granderson said. “We had to play catch-up and we weren’t able to go ahead and get even.”

• On the other side, the decisive blow was certainly Jacoby Ellsbury’s two-out, three-run homer in the fourth. Ellsbury doubled his previous career-high with six RBI. “It’s another missed location,” Sabathia said of the home run pitch. “Two fastballs down and away, and then I give one up and out over the plate like he likes it. He just put a good swing on it.”

• Against Sabathia: David Ortiz was hitless, Adrian Gonzalez had one hit, Carl Crawford went 3-for-3 and Ellsbury was 1-for-2 with the home run and a sac fly. Lefties are hitting .200 against Sabathia this season, but Crawford and Ellsbury were especially damaging against him today.

• Seven runs was a season-high for Sabathia. The five-run fourth was his second-worst inning of the season.

• One positive note on Sabathia: He struck out six, giving him nine straight starts with at least that many strikeouts. That’s a career-long streak, and last Yankees pitchers to have that many consecutive six-strikeout games was Roger Clemens in 2001.

• Girardi said he believes Hector Noesi will be fine after being hit by a line drive in the ninth. The ball hit his chest and bounced up to hit his face. “I think he’s fine, but he’s probably a little sore,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of the bullpen, Girardi said he believes the bullpen will be fine for tomorrow, but he will have Phil Hughes just in case. “If I need him, depending on what kind of game it is,” Girardi said.

• Cervelli went 3-for-4, improving to 6-for-10 against the Red Sox this season and 18-for-42 in 13 career games against Boston. He’s a .478 hitter in seven career games at Fenway.

• Robinson Cano has gone hitless in back-to-back games at Fenway for the first time in his career.

• Mark Teixeira’s team-leading 32nd home run was his four career homer off Daniel Bard. No other major leaguer has more than one home run against Bard.

• Granderson stole his 100th career base in the fourth inning. He also scored his Major League-leading 100th run of the season.

• Girardi on Alex Rodriguez: “He took BP, took some ground balls and moved a little bit. Basically the same stuff he’s been doing, a little bit more, though.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 130 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Hughes frustrated07.23.11

Phil Hughes had an easy victory. The Yankees handed him a 14-2 lead after three, and he couldn’t make it through five to get his second win. His fastball command was off and his curve wasn’t biting like last time in Toronto. He threw 98 pitches and left after 4 1/3. He was charged with seven runs, nine hits, four walks and one hit batter.

“I’m not frustrated I didn’t get a win, just frustrated that the outing didn’t go better, because I really felt I was making some good strides,” Hughes said.

Joe Girardi said: “You’ve got to look at it as a blip. You’ve got to move on. He’ll be back out there Wednesday.”

Hughes said it was really hot and he was glad this wasn’t a day game, but he wouldn’t blame the conditions – 100 degrees at first pitch.

“(Hector) Noesi went out there in the same heat and did a great job,” Hughes said. “… I don’t think that was really an issue.”

Noesi allowed two runners he inherited from Hughes to score, but the rookie right-hander was charged with no runs and four hits and no walks over 3 2/3 to move to 2-0. 

“I’m really pleased with the progress this kid has made,” Girardi said.

*Mark Teixeira broke a 70 at-bat homerless streak with his third-inning grand slam, when he was hitting left-handed. Teixeira went 1 for 4 with two walks. He’s batting just .240.

“July hasn’t been kind to me,” Teixeira said. “Hopefully this will get me going. … Left-handed I haven’t been feeling good the last month.”

Teixeira was dropped to fourth for just the second time. Brett Gardner led off, followed by Derek Jeter and then Curtis Granderson, who made his first career start in the three hole, moving down from No. 2. Robinson Cano batted fifth. Joe Girardi said this would probably be the order today as well when righty Rich Harden starts for the A’s.

“I like it,” Teixeira said. “I think it makes our lineup deeper. … I love having (Gardner) as the leadoff hitter right now.”

*Brandon Laird was thrilled when he got to pinch hit for Jeter in the seventh — his first major-league plate appearance. Joey Devine’s first pitch went sailing behind the rookie’s back.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Laird said. “I was just standing there and I looked in the dugout, and the guys were like, ‘What’s going on?’ ”

Laird, the brother of Cardinals backup catcher Gerald Laird, ended up working out a walk. He stayed in the game to play third and was even more thrilled in the home eighth when he delivered an RBI single through the middle for that first big-league hit.

“It was awesome,” Laird said. “All the fans were cheering. I looked up at my family all excited. It was amazing.”

*Eric Chavez played seven innings at third Friday night in his fourth rehab game for Single-A Tampa and doubled in four at-bats. It was his second straight start at third. 

*The AP reported that Marcus Thames worked out at the minor-league complex in Tampa Friday, and that the 34-year-old outfielder will report this coming week to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

*The Yankees have beaten Oakland 11 straight times and 24 times in the last 27 meetings.

“It’s been a long streak, but I’d hate to think that that gets in your head,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said.

*The 17 runs marked the most the Yankees have scored at the new stadium.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 102 Comments →

Random thoughts on the way back home07.22.11

Last time the Yankees played at home, they were still feeling warm and fuzzy in the glow of Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit. Seems like that was three months ago. This eight-day road trip was a long one.

“Obviously you’d like to have done better,” Joe Girardi said. “But after how we started losing the first two, we finished up pretty good and it will be nice to get off the turf and get home for a while. I think we have 10 games in 10 days, and I think our guys are looking forward to that.”

Just a few thoughts before I get back to New York.

• Phil Hughes gets the ball tonight. It will be his first start at home since the start that convinced the Yankees he needed to go on the disabled list. It’ll be interesting to see if that curveball is as good as it was in Toronto.

• Be careful what you wish for at the top of the order. I can’t see Derek Jeter being dropped to the bottom, so moving Brett Gardner to the top only pushes Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher down a spot. As always, I’m of the belief that lineup construction doesn’t matter all that much.

• Also worth considering (as Sweeny Murti pointed out a couple of days ago): In the eight games since the all-star break, Gardner is hitting .517 with a .576 on-base percentage. In the eight games before the break, he was hitting .207 with a .281 on-base percentage. I think he’s the right choice at the top, but you have to accept that he’s a streaky hitter.

• Big spot in the seventh inning, who would you trust more: Luis Ayala, Hector Noesi or Cory Wade? Who do you think Girardi would most trust? I’m honestly not sure the right answer to either of those questions.

• Gardner, Jeter, Andruw Jones and Jorge Posada have each taken turns as the most anger-inducing Yankees hitter this season. Now it seems to be Mark Teixeira’s turn. He’s also a streaky hitter, and he always talks about waiting for that next hot streak that will turn his batting average around.

• Girardi when asked if he’ll have to eventually take Teixeira out of the No. 3 hole if the batting average doesn’t improve: “He has taken his fair share of walks and gotten on base. That’s the one thing Tex does. Sometimes people look at average a lot. We’re going ot look at on-base percentage too because he does take his fair share. You hit .250 and you’ve got a .370 on-base percentage or .360, you’re doing OK.” It’s a fair point — and Teixeira does have a higher OBP than Cano — but Girardi overestimated the numbers a little bit. Teixeira has a .240 average with a .341 on-base.

• If the Yankees are going to trade for a starter, they really only have a spot for a legitimately elite pitcher. They have plenty of No. 3 types. To find someone obviously better than what they have is going to cost a lot in terms of young players. Maybe it’s worth it, maybe it’s not, but it would be costly.

• I’ve always liked but never loved U2, but I absolutely loved this performance on Letterman. I’m surprised I haven’t broken the internet watching it over and over again the past few days. Say what you will about Bono, but the guy has a terrific voice and knows how to deliver a song.

• Kind of surprised that Eric Chavez was able to get in the field this quickly. Not much to lose there, I guess. The Yankees need to find out before July 31 whether he can help them in the second half.

• Dave Robertson just keeps doing it. Rafael Soriano has a longer track record, and there’s a lot to be said for that, but it’s hard to imagine him coming back and throwing any better than Robertson.

• George Kontos has to get to New York eventually, right? The Yankees could actually use a long man now, and Kontos has 64 strikeouts and a .210 opponents batting average in Triple-A. Also worth mentioning that D.J. Mitchell and Lance Pendleton just put together terrific back-to-back starts.

• Speaking of Triple-A guys: Jorge Vazquez’s numbers have fallen off quite a bit, but Kevin Russo is really hitting again. And if you were waiting for Jordan Parraz to fall off, it doesn’t seem to be happening.

• If Russell Martin really is a Gold Glove caliber catcher, and he keeps hitting exactly like this — low batting average with occasional pop — is he worth bringing back next season? All things considered, isn’t he still one of the better everyday catchers in the league?

• Don’t let the fact that you gave up on Boone Logan in the first half — or that he misplayed a ball three nights ago — keep you from seeing the fact he’s pitching much better. I know I’m usually a glass-half-full kind of guy, but since May 28 opponents are hitting .196 with four walks and 17 strikeouts against Logan.

• There’s still something very fun about talking to a guy who just got his first big league call-up. It was fun when I was covering the minor leagues, and it’s just as fun now that I’m covering the big leagues.

• Martin made the right choice. He put in a good effort and did everything the right way, but the mustache had to go. It was time. It really was, “ugly as (crap).”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 197 Comments →

Looking for upgrades: The pitching staff06.27.11

Two weeks from the all-star break and a little more than a month before the trade deadline, the Yankees are at a point where they can — sort of — figure out what they need to add for a second-half push toward the playoffs. Making this picture a little less clear is the status of their injured players who could provide a significant boost if/when they get healthy.

On the pitching staff, the preseason concern has become a surprising strength, and the preseason strength has become a surprising concern. These are three areas where the Yankees might look to upgrade their pitching staff in the second half.

Starting pitcher

The Yankees rotation has been better than anyone could have expected, and that’s despite injuries to Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon. The Yankees, though, will surely kick the tires on alternatives, if only to add depth and peace of mind.

Trade market: Hit-and-miss.
A starting pitcher will be traded before the deadline, history tells us that much. The question is whether an addition would be an upgrade over the Yankees in-house options. If Hughes and Colon come back and pitch well – and both Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova continue to pitch well enough – then the need for a starter will be minimal (though the want might still exist). If Hughes or Colon suffers a setback, Garcia or Nova regresses, or A.J. Burnett falls into last year’s habits, then the Yankees will need someone. Carlos Zambrano and Brett Myers seem to be available targets, but are they worth the headache? The Twins have been disappointing and could shed starting pitchers at the deadline, but are they more reliable than what the Yankees already have?

In-house: The kids.
Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos are still in Double-A and both are pitching well (though still working on some control issues). Not so long ago, the Yankees had Hughes and Alan Horne dominating in Double-A as highly regarded prospects, but the Yankees left them there, and there’s not much reason to expect the Yankees to change course and suddenly rush Betances or Banuelos without at least a brief stop in Triple-A. More likely options might be Carlos Silva, Hector Noesi or someone from the David Phelps-Adam Warren-D.J. Mitchell trio in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Warren is probably at the top of that pecking order with Phelps is currently on the DL.

Setup reliever

Joba Chamberlain is lost for the year, and Rafael Soriano is almost certainly lost until after the all-star break. Dave Robertson has been terrific in the eighth inning, but the Yankees are mixing-and-matching in the sixth and seventh, still searching for one-inning relievers to complete that bridge to Mariano Rivera.

Trade market: They’re all relievers. Last year, the Yankees took a chance on Kerry Wood, and that move completely changed the bullpen. At the time of the trade, though, Wood was coming off injury and had ugly numbers with Cleveland. He came to the Yankees as a complete wild card and became a dominant setup man. The Yankees could go looking for something similar, but relievers are an unreliable group. Based on what Wood was doing at this time last year, he would not have looked like an especially attractive target. There will be risk in anyone the Yankees go after, though some big names seem to be on the market, including Padres closer Heath Bell.

In-house: Untested. The Yankees have had success plugging minor league starters into bullpen roles, and that’s occasionally worked as a stepping stone to the big league rotation. Right now, they seem to be trying something similar with Noesi.* They also might have found something in Cory Wade, though his innings have been limited. Andrew Brackman has moved to the Triple-A bullpen, but the results have not been encouraging. The Yankees have looked at Kevin Whelan and they’ve run through a series of long-relievers, but so far Noesi has been the call-up standout and Luis Ayala has been better than expected. George Kontos still seems to be pitching himself toward a call-up in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Left-handed reliever

The Yankees top two left-handed relievers should be Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte, but those two proven veterans have yet to pitch this season because of injuries. In their place, Boone Logan has been erratic, unable to repeat last year’s second-half success.

Trade market: Still relievers. The same problem that applies to the setup trade market applies to the lefty trade market: These guys tend to be unpredictable. The Yankees could take their chances on a veteran, with hopes that he doesn’t fall into either the Logan Trap of ineffectiveness or the Feliciaino/Marte Trap of arm problems. The Phillies just released J.C. Romero, who actually had solid numbers against lefties this season but passed through waivers without a claim. Logan has struggled all season, and the Yankees haven’t traded for a replacement yet, which might say something about the market.

In-house: Minor league veterans. The Yankees have signed some lefties for the Triple-A pitching staff, and those might be legitimate options. Randy Flores has pitched well out of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre bullpen, holding lefties to a .233 average with nine strikeouts, seven hits and one walk. Greg Smith has pitched well out of the rotation, but that’s only 14.2 innings and he has almost zero bullpen experience. If he could pitch in relief, Smith could give the Yankees a second lefty who doubles as a long man. It’s also worth noting that Whelan has had tremendous success against left-handers, but he’s currently on the DL and his first stint in New York was so short, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees trusting him with the bizarre role of right-handed lefty specialist.

* In my mind, this is why it makes sense to have Noesi playing a bullpen role while Brian Gordon gets a few spot starts. Noesi’s role could be a long-term thing. The Yankees have a very real need in the late innings, and if Noesi adapts to the role, he could be a significant boost the rest of the way. The current rotation opening is a no-doubt-about-it part-time job. Gordon is going to get one or two more starts before Hughes is ready, and obviously they’re going to skip him when they can. He had great numbers this year, so the Yankees are riding the hot hand for a while. They’re hoping for more than a short-term contribution from Noesi.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 68 Comments →

Postgame notes: “I have plans for him to start again”06.22.11

Joe Girardi said he hasn’t scheduled his starting pitchers beyond the next four games, but right now, the plan is for Brian Gordon to stay in the rotation. Tonight, Gordon took the good with the bad. He didn’t walk anyone, and at one point he retired 10 in a row, but when he made mistakes, the Reds punished him with three home runs.

“He had one good start and one so-so start,” Girardi said. “Obviously he’s gotten an opportunity because we have people that are hurt. Besides the few mistakes he made, he did okay, but his mistakes were big mistakes… He’s in our rotation. I haven’t sat and thought with the extra days off, what do you do? Right now, I have plans for him to start again.”

Girardi said the Yankees will stay on rotation for this weekend series against the Rockies — A.J. Burnett, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova — then Freddy Garcia will likely get the start in Tuesday’s series opener against the Brewers. Beyond that, Girardi’s not sure how he’ll manipulate the rotation. He could change it around because of Monday’s off day.

Against two of the five highest-scoring lineups in baseball, Gordon hasn’t been overwhelming — and he’s occasionally walked a tightrope — but he’s given the Yankees a chance to win. He had his good moments tonight, but a first-inning cutter, a second-inning curveball and a fifth-inning slider were hammered for home runs to left field.

“Definitely a little disappointed with the outcome,” Gordon said. “I think overall I felt like I executed most of my pitches, and I think I made three mistakes and I paid for all three of them.”

As Russell Martin explained it: “I thought he made a lot of good pitches today. He didn’t always get rewarded for it. I felt like it was a pretty tight zone out there for him, and then with the tight zone you get behind in counts and you have to get back in counts. Left maybe a couple of pitches over the middle of the plate, and they didn’t miss them.”

The Yankees might not need a fifth starter the next time through the rotation, but they’ll need one eventually, and right now Gordon is still in that spot.

Here’s Gordon after tonight’s game.

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• As you would probably imagine, this was a pretty short postgame in the Yankees clubhouse. Jorge Posada’s home run in the first game, and the Yankees winning record on the road trip, remained the biggest stories of the day. In the big picture, Gordon and the second-game letdown were pretty secondary today.

• Of course, there was the subject of Hector Noesi. He had his first truly bad outing since coming to the big leagues. The Yankees were still within striking distance before Noesi gave up three runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth. “Missed location, too,” Girardi said. “Left some balls up. Left a slider up to Rolen, an 0-2 slider. He just made mistakes.”

• The good news out of the bullpen was Boone Logan, who faced two very good lefties — Joey Votto and Jay Bruce — and got them both out.

• There wasn’t much discussion about the Yankees missed opportunity in the top of the seventh. Not much to say about it really. Girardi’s strategy spoke for itself — he pinch hit in the spots that he could pinch hit and neither Robinson Cano nor Posada got the big hit — and that was really their last chance to make a dent in the Reds’ lead. Next time the Yankees came to the plate, the game was out of hand.

• Cano’s ninth-inning single did extend his hitting streak to 11 games.

• The Yankees are now 8-19 when the opposition scores first.

• Reds outfielder Chris Heisey had three home runs today. He had five all season before today. “Every mistake that he got, it only took him one pitch,” Martin said. “I remember him from when I used to see him, earlier on, he really didn’t hit breaking balls that well. Today, he got a couple of mistakes on breaking pitches and he hit them.”

• Johnny Cueto is good. “I can’t speak for everybody, but I didn’t really get many pitches to hit today,” Martin said. “He had that fastball working in the bottom of the zone against me and mixing his breaking ball really well. He was tough out there.”

• The Jeff Marquez injury is a mystery. He pitched this weekend in Chicago, seemed fine, then said his shoulder was bothering him while playing catch today. “He came in and played catch today and his arm was sore,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you when he did it. He threw pretty well Sunday for us. I have no idea. He said he played catch today and his arm was sore.”

The Yankees have signed veterans Terry Tiffee and Mike Lamb to minor league deals to bolster the Triple-A lineup. Just my opinion, but both could quickly become legitimate options for the big league bench as power-hitting corner infielders, kind of filling that Eric Chavez role.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 56 Comments →

Pregame notes: Happy Father’s Day06.19.11

Happy Father’s Day everyone.

My dad is probably in a wheat field somewhere in Southeast Missouri, I’m here at a ball field in Northern Illinois and this afternoon Joe Girardi was down in Peoria visiting his own father. He said he drove down this morning, spent about two hours with his dad, then drove back to Chicago. Girardi’s dad has been sick, but today was encouraging.

“The morning was very good,” Girardi said. “Better than I expected after what I had heard. His eyes were open, he was moving and he ate well, so it was all good.”

Girardi said it was the first time since 2007 that he spent Father’s Day with his dad.

When Girardi got back to Chicago, his own kids gave him their Father’s Day gifts. His son gave him a new iPod, one daughter gave him a handmade toothbrush holder and the other gave him a big plate because — as she told him — the Yankees manager likes to eat.

“They know their daddy,” Girardi said.

• Girardi hadn’t checked with Russell Martin, but he was confident his catcher would be fine after yesterday’s collision. “It was just a check on the boards, right?” Girardi said, a rock-solid hockey reference for his Canadian catcher.

• The Yankees bullpen is largely built around the goal of getting the ball to Dave Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The rest of the bullpen has been pieced together, but the Yankees have seen encouraging signs from guys like Cory Wade and Hector Noesi who might be primed for larger roles. “I haven’t really looked at it about guys winning jobs, it’s just based on needs,” Girardi said. “Wade is a guy that I know I can use in the back end. I know that, just because he’s done it before. Noesi was the one that I talked to, I told him … I will use you for distance too, but your role’s going to change a little bit, so don’t be surprised.”

• Girardi said he still considers Luis Ayala his top option in the seventh inning. He wasn’t available yesterday because he’d thrown so much recently.

• With all of his new relievers, Girardi said he looks primarily at quality strikes. It was quality strikes that made him believe Noesi could be valuable in short stints.

• Still quite a bit of talk this afternoon about Eduardo Nunez’s defense. Nunez said he learned from Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano to move forward, not letting defense affect offense and vice versa. “It’s good to see him be able to turn the page,” Girardi said. “Players are going to make errors, that’s the bottom line. Yes, they’re frustrating and you don’t want them to happen, but I don’t see him taking it to his offense and I don’t see him taking his offense to his defense. I think he’s just playing the game, and that’s what we want.”

• Yesterday’s Nunez error came on a ball that never actually hit his glove. Nunez said the ball took a bad hop and actually hit him in his bare hand before shooting away. “It’s an error anyway,” Nunez said.

• Martin will be off either Tuesday or Wednesday (when the Yankees have a night game, then a day game in Cincinnati).

• Girardi guessed that he had Logan up and throwing in the bullpen five times on Thursday and Friday, which made him hesitant to use him on Saturday. He’s not hurt or anything, just hasn’t actually pitched in a while.

• I was writing and didn’t see it, but apparently CC Sabathia hit three homers in a row during batting practice.

• Phil Hughes went 4.1 innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk in his rehab start for Staten Island. He struck out seven and gave up a home run to a catcher named Nelfi Zapata.

CUBS
Reed Johnson CF
Starlin Castro SS
Jeff Baker 1B
Aramis Ramirez 3B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Geovany Soto C
Lou Montanez RF
D.J. LeMahieu 2B
Randy Wells SP

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 22 Comments →

Postgame notes: Teixeira day-to-day06.08.11

The Yankees lost sole possession of first place in the American League East tonight. They could have lost much more.

Mark Teixeira seems to be relatively OK after being hit in the right knee by a first-inning pitch. Teixeira gets hit quite a bit, but this one was different. Teixeira was left squirming in the dirt, and he had trouble walking off the field, even with help from Joe Girardi and Tony Pena.

“My concern was that he fractured his kneecap,” Girardi said. “Tex has been hit a lot in three years that we’ve had him, and I’ve never seen him show that much pain before. He’s tough. He’s played with a broken toe and a lot of ailments. He was in a lot of pain, and that was scary.”

Girardi said Teixeira will probably not play tomorrow. Teixeira said not to rule it out.

“I always hope to play tomorrow. Always,” he said. “If I’m alright to go tomorrow, I’m going to go.”

First place on June 8 is something the Yankees want. Teixeira is someone they need. At this point in the season, Teixeira’s health immediately became the greatest concern. X-rays were negative, and Teixeira was diagnosed with a contusion (basically a bone bruise). He said there was never much swelling, and it wasn’t too painful after the game.

“It hit right there, kind of in between the knee cap and the side of the knee,” he said. “It was actually a lucky place. If it hits on the knee cap, it might do a lot of damage, so I feel lucky in that regard.”

Said Alex Rodriguez: “There are certain guys you can’t go without, and Tex is one of those guys. He’s in the middle of our lineup, and he produces day in and day out on both sides. I had a little bit of a flashback to the postseason when he got hurt running down the bases. You talk about him or Robbie, there are some guys that are irreplaceable.”

Here’s Teixeira.

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• Freddy Garcia threw a total of 46 pitches tonight. That’s all it took for Girardi to realize his starter didn’t have it. “He was up. He was behind. His stuff wasn’t crisp tonight,” Girardi said. “It’s really the first start we’ve seen that from him. He struggled, and they jumped on him early.”

• Girardi suggested that it seemed like the Red Sox were sitting on Garcia’s offspeed pitches. Garcia said that’s nothing new. “Probably,” he said. “But when I’m pitching I have to concentrate and throw strikes. I don’t have the chance really to make any adjustment. Everybody is sitting on my offspeed, but if you throw it where you want to hit the spot (you have success). If you don’t do that, that’s when you get hit.”

• Garcia said he would have liked to have had a chance to get himself straightened out, but he also seemed to understand Girardi’s decision to pull him early. “Next time, hopefully do my job,” he said.

• Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the decision to pull Garcia in the middle of the second. Luis Ayala pitched 1.1 hitless innings, and Hector Noesi was tremendous. Technically, I guess the David Ortiz two-run homer stands as the difference, but it’s impossible to pin this loss on Noesi. The rookie keeps proving his value around here. He allowed a total of three hits through six innings. “He gave us a chance to get to where we were,” Girardi said.

• The last Yankee to pick six innings in relief? Kei Igawa, who did it on April 28, 2007 against the Red Sox. He got the win in a 3-1 game that day.

• Raise your hand if you thought you’d be reading about Kei Igawa tonight.

• The Yankees best players tonight were two guys who didn’t start the game. Noesi had his six innings of excellent relief, and Jorge Posada went 3-for-3 with a walk and the RBI single that brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth. “I wasn’t even in the lineup,” he said. “It’s one of those things. Throw you out there and hopefully you can produce.”

• Posada’s first two hits came off Jon Lester, his first two hits off a left-hander this season. That broke an 0-for-27 streak against lefties.

• Derek Jeter had two hits to move within 12 of career hit No. 3,000.

• Nick Swisher also had two hits, including a two-run double. That’s a good game following a good road trip.

• Girardi said Eric Chavez was examined and it was determined that he’s better, but not better enough to begin running and going through baseball drills. “He’s still not there,” Girardi said.

• Ortiz flipped his bat after the home run. Girardi seemed bothered by it, but not too bothered by it. “I didn’t really care for it,” he said. “I don’t know if he was upset that he missed some pitches earlier. I’ve got a young kid on the mound. I don’t know if he was upset that he came in hard on him. When it happens to you, you’re going to defend your guy. If it’s our guy, I’m going to say there was nothing intentional about it.”

• The Yankees are 1-6 against the Red Sox this season, including a sweep the last time the Red Sox played at Yankee Stadium. “We go back and forth with these guys,” Rodriguez said. “One year we were 0-8 and then we tied it 8-8. It goes back and forth, we play these guys so many times. We have a lot of respect for each other. Right now, they’re playing very well, and they’re very comfortable on our home field.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 86 Comments →

The cost of a win: Dinner for a second baseman05.19.11

After Hector Noesi gave the Yankees all they could have asked and more than they could have expected, Robinson Cano finally drove in the runs that gave the Yankees first-timer his first big league win. And when it was over, Cano had a message for the kid.

“I told him in the dugout, I said, ‘This is your first win. So you’ve got to buy me dinner now,’” Cano said. “He said, ‘OK, Saturday.’ I said, ‘You’ve got to take me to one of those special places.’ It’s good. He was here two weeks, didn’t pitch, and came back. It’s good, I like that. Guys, when they don’t pitch, they get their chance.”

Noesi said he was absolutely planning to take his second baseman to dinner, but here’s the thing: I have to think Noesi’s reward for such a terrific performance might be a demotion back to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre rotation. The Yankees will need a fresh arm tonight, and Noesi won’t be available for at least three or four days. He has options, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to keep him stretched out. Might be a tough break for the player, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the right move for the team.

Whether he goes or stays, Noesi had quite the big league debut last night. Four scoreless innings in an extra-inning game when there was no margin for error. Joe Girardi said he was most impressed that Noesi came out of the gate throwing strikes. Noesi struck out the first two guys he faced before having to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam.

“I said to my family, ‘I’m going to strikeout the first one for them,’” Noesi said.

There was incredible calm from Noesi on the mound, and he said after the game that he never felt like there were runners on base. He had to stay calm and stay focused — “Be relaxed to do what you have to do, pitch by pitch,” he said — and for four innings last night, he was able to do all that.

“This is a guy that was just watching everybody pitching,” Cano said. “Your first game, tie game. It’s really tough to be in a game like that. That guy, he can pitch. I was real impressed.”

Here’s Noesi, soft spoken after the biggest innings of his career.

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Associated Press photo

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 281 Comments →

Postgame notes: A long, late night in Baltimore05.19.11

First, let’s take a moment to realize what happened tonight.

• A guy who came to spring training as an assumed-to-be-washed-up minor league free agent pitched eight shutout innings (and needed just 87 pitches to do it).
• The greatest closer of all time blew a save (then watched a series of largely unknown relievers dance out of every sort of danger).
• A kid made his major-league debut in the 12th inning of a 1-1 game and managed to pitch four scoreless (after striking out his first two batters, then promptly loading the bases, and knowing every batter was the potential game-winner).
• In quick succession a player was hit in the head by a fastball, tried to stay in the game, was replaced by a starting-pitcher-turned-pinch-runner, all while another starting pitcher came out of the other team’s bullpen to pitch in relief (oh, and a half inning later a base runner was hit by a ground ball for what was actually a key out).
• And the last out of the game was made by a backup infielder who was playing right field on a day when he started at shortstop ahead of a sure Hall of Famer (yet everything about that situation made perfect sense given the context and the events of the day).

“Honestly, yeah, (I’m glad it’s over),” Robinson Cano said. “I’m not going to lie. Especially going from Tampa, a long day in New York, Sunday night baseball. We get to Tampa 3 in the morning, get here at 2. But when you’re winning, you always have fun, even if you’re tired. We need to start winning series and put this together.”

Here’s Joe Girardi talking about a little of everything tonight.

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That pitch hitting Chris Dickerson was one of the scariest thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field.

It wasn’t so much the pitch itself, it was the reaction. Girardi said Dickerson never lost consciousness, but the way he was blinking his eyes, it looked like he was just waking up while he was lying there in the dirt. Then Girardi tossed away the broken helmet, which wasn’t a good sign, and Dickerson stood up to reveal a big knot near his eye, which was a far worse sign.

“He said he was all right,” Girardi said. “But I was listening to Geno. Geno said he had to come out. Geno made the right call and took him to the hospital. Hopefully everything is okay.”

Dickerson went for a CT Scan and the Yankees should know more tomorrow. Girardi said Dickerson was lucid on the field, knew where he was and who he was, all that good stuff. I’m telling you, this place was silent.

“You have to assume that he’s probably got a concussion,” Girardi said. “We’ll see.”

My guess is that there’s a great desire to absolutely crush Girardi for bringing in Mariano Rivera when Bartolo Colon was pitching so well. I wrote in the game post — before Girardi made his move — that I would have stuck with Colon.

It’s an easy move to second-guess.

But let’s not pretend that’s an obvious or easy choice. The choices were a starting pitcher who was positively dealing, or Mariano Rivera himself. Either decision would have been perfectly justifiable, and either decision would have looked bad had the pitcher given up a run.

“Of course there’s a thought to leave him in there,” Girardi said. “But I have Mariano Rivera. That’s why I made the move.”

Luis Ayala and Boone Logan did their jobs after Rivera gave up the tying run, but my gosh, how good was Hector Noesi? In this game? Coming into that inning? When ever base runner was the winning run? That’s an incredible way to make a Major League debut, and an amazing way to make a first impression.

“I can’t imagine that, but I thank God,” Rivera said. “Thank God the job that he did. Well deserved. He did tremendous. He made good pitches at the end and he won the game… The whole game was a tremendous game. Only my participation wasn’t good.”

• After Dickerson was hit, Girardi said the only decision was which pitcher to use as a pinch runner. It was never going to be Jorge Posada because it’s a base-running situation and there was no sense burning the last position player in that spot. Girardi chose Burnett because he figured he had the most base-running experience, then he gave Burnett one instruction: Don’t get picked off.

• Mike Gonzalez was ejected for hitting Dickerson, but he stayed on the field and watched with some obvious fear on his face. Did Girardi think it was intentional? “I don’t get into that,” he said. “It’s just a scary part of the game when a guy gets hit there.” For whatever it’s worth, I find it hard to believe Gonzalez meant to do that.

• Noesi was good for 90 pitches. “He was going to have to get it done for us,” Girardi said.

• Can’t overlook the Mark Teixeira play that saved the game in the 11th. Alex Rodriguez made a nice stop, but his throw was way off line and it was all Teixeira could do to keep it from going into the outfield. Boone Logan took it from there. Two huge outs. To be honest, my “Yankees lose” game story was 100 percent ready to go at that point (and in the bottom of every inning after it, except the 15th).

• Rodriguez on why he threw the ball in the first place: “Make a play. At that point you’ve got to go crazy, you’ve got to make plays. That’s the way we play baseball, we attack.”

• Teixeira on the play: “Really, when I dove I said, ‘Just go in my glove. Just knock it down somehow.’ Luckily, I came up with it clean and we got out of the jam.”

• Colon was one inning away from his first complete game shutout since 2006. “That’s my best game so far (this year),” he said. “I thank God for the way I’m pitching right now. I wish I continue pitching that way.”

• What was wrong with Rivera? “A lot of things happened,” he said. “I didn’t make my pitches. Balls were finding holes. Bad day at the office.”

• Dave Robertson wasn’t supposed to be available tonight, but when those two runners were on base in the bottom of the 15th, Robertson was loose in the bullpen. He said he was ready to go and he assumed he was coming into the game had that ball not hit the base runner and given Noesi a gift second out. Girardi said Robertson might not be available tomorrow because of the pitches he threw in the bullpen tonight.

• Completely forgot to mention pregame that Thursday will be two weeks since the Eric Chavez injury. He’s due to be reexamined. “I think they talked about doing some functional stuff (as part of early rehab work),” Girardi said.

• The Orioles have lost to the Yankees five times this season, three of them in extra innings.

• I’m beyond tired. Get some sleep everyone. If you stayed up for all of this one, you really did see a pretty incredible baseball game.

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 59 Comments →

Pregame notes: “I’m just hoping it brings out the best in us”05.13.11

Kind of an unusual pregame here at Yankee Stadium. Hardly any players were in the clubhouse when it was open to media — they were in start-of-the-series pitchers and hitters meetings — and the truth is, there wasn’t much that could have changed between the end of the Royals series and the start of this one.

Bartolo Colon isn’t going to address his shoulder surgery until after the game.

No overwhelmingly significant player moves were made this afternoon.

There’s no way of knowing whether the arrival of the Red Sox will snap the Yankees out of their funk.

“I just feel like sometimes when you get in these series, it brings out the best in you,” Joe Girardi said. “We haven’t played our best baseball. There are a lot of clubs, if you look over the first six weeks of the season, that haven’t played their baseball during a period of time. I’m just hoping it brings out the best in us – and not the best in the Red Sox.”

Girardi once again addressed the obvious: “We have not played very well in the last week and a half, two weeks,” he said. That sparked a question about whether that week and a half, two weeks was simply a matter of a veteran team slogging through a chunk of the season.

“I hope it’s not that,” he said. “Because I think all our guys know what it takes. You can’t just try to get through months. You have to take advantage of each month that is in front of you. This is not a young team that got off to a great start and thinks, ‘Wow, we’re always going to play like this.’ Our guys know how difficult this game is, so I don’t think it’s that.”

Here’s Girardi’s pregame audio.

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• Rafael Soriano is available tonight.

• Phil Hughes started his throwing program with 30 throws from 50 feet. “He’ll probably have something every day,” Girardi said. “It’ll continue to progress. He’ll have some off days in there, but I don’t have in front of me exactly what his schedule is going to be, but he did start his throwing program today. I can tell you that.”

• Today was Hector Noesi’s scheduled day to start, so he’s good for plenty of distance out of the bullpen. That’s why the Yankees felt comfortable making only one move today, keeping Amauri Sanit on the roster even though he almost certainly can’t be used for a few days. “Out thought was too we probably wouldn’t be able to use Buddy (Carlyle) for a couple of days either,” Girardi said. “Sanit is a little bit more stretched out than Buddy and we just felt that we have coverage with Hector here today. If we have to make another move, we have to make another move.”

• To be perfectly honest, I showed up at the park today absolutely expecting both Carlyle and Sanit to be gone, replaced by one pitcher and one position player. I still wouldn’t be surprised to see a position player move in the next day or two.

• Girardi said he hasn’t seen any signs that the shoulder surgery story — and whether or not HGH was involved — is affecting Colon’s mindset. “Normal as ever,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of Colon, he was knocked around in his previous start against Texas. “It comes down to basically mechanics,” Girardi said. “Everything being on time, locating the ball, making sure your hand is on top of the ball, not getting under balls, making sure that your front shoulder — pitchers walk such a fine line. When you’re a guy who throws a ton of fastballs, you even walk maybe a little finer line. If you miss on the thirds of the plate or in the middle, they’re going to hit you hard. It really comes down to location.”

• After answering day after day of questions about Derek Jeter, Girardi now seems to be handling a steady dose of Alex Rodriguez questions. “We just went from one superstar to the next about the at-bats every day,” he said. “I thought (his at-bats) were better (yesterday). I thought he had some of his better swings than what we’ve seen. One of the best swings I thought he had was the ball he popped straight up. The ball was a little too high for him to swing at, but I thought the swing was excellent. Maybe last night is going to get him going.”

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
J.D. Drew RF
Jed Lowrie SS
Carl Crawford LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcastwith 33 Comments →

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