Pitching matchups vs. White Sox • 08.22.14
RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.91)
LHP John Danks (9-8, 4.94)
7:05 p.m, My9
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (8-8, 3.97)
RHP Scott Carroll (5-7, 4.99)
1:05 p.m., YES Network
LHP Chris Capuano (1-3, 4.35)
LHP Chris Sale (10-3, 2.12)
1:05 p.m., YES Network
Associated Press photo
The schedule won’t let the Yankees give Hiroki Kuroda six days off before every start down the stretch, but they were able to give him that many this time, and it seemed to make a difference. Coming off a rough outing against Cleveland, Kuroda looked like a dependable piece of the rotation again this afternoon.
At times, he looked like more than that.
“When he’s got his stuff darting like that to both sides of the plate, he’s tough to beat,” Brian McCann said. “… He was splitting both sides of the plate, kept them off balance all day. They came out really aggressive, he slowed them down a little bit with some offspeed early in the count. He pitched awesome.”
Last time out, Kuroda couldn’t make it through the fifth inning, and the Yankees would like to believe that was simply a bump in the road, not a sign that he’s about to begin the down-the-stretch collapse that became familiar the past two seasons. Before that disappointment last Sunday night, Kuroda had pitched to 3.49 ERA in his previous nine starts.
“The two extra days, I was able to physically get refreshed, as well as mentally,” Kuroda said.
Kuroda is the only part of the Opening Day rotation that’s lasted the whole season. He had a pretty rough month of April, but he’s been pretty consistent ever since. There have been some short, ineffective starts mixed in there, but he hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs since the beginning of May.
“He had everything in his arsenal today,” Joe Girardi said. “I think it was important because people would start asking questions, ‘Is he tired?’ Maybe the extra days helped him. … We will do it when we can. Unfortunately, we lose one off-day going to Kansas City where he could have been afforded it, but I think he’ll only go one start this time through with five days. It should help, yeah.”
• Mark Teixeira’s home run was No. 361 in his career, passing Gary Gaetti and tying Joe DiMaggio for 80th place on baseball’s all-time list. He was the first Yankees hitter to reach 20 home runs this season, the latest they’ve gone into a season without a 20-homer guy since 1995 when Paul O’Neill reached that number on September 12.
• Brett Gardner’s two-run signle in the fifth inning gave him 52 RBI for the season, matching his single-season career high. For a little while, Gardner was tied with Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury for the team lead in RBI, but both Teixeira and Ellsbury drove in runs later in the game.
• That two-run single up the middle was a huge hit for the Yankees, who had been hitless in the game until the batter before, Martin Prado, came through with a double. For a team desperate for offense, that Gardner at-bat felt like a must-have opportunity. “I’m thinking about trying to get a run across, you know?” Gardner said. “I’m just thinking about trying to find a way to get a pitch to handle. I’m definitely not thinking negative thoughts.”
• Including Gardner and Prado, five straight Yankees reached base with two outs in that fifth inning. “You get an excellent at-bat from Stephen Drew, a long at-bat (for a walk),” Girardi said. “A long at-bat from Prado, then Gardy gets the big hit there. Then Ells; a big hit as well as Jeter. To be able to put those together when it looks like you have nothing going and he’s rolling along with a no-hitter, it’s big.”
• It was Ellsbury’s first hit of the road trip. He was 0-for-17 on the trip before that two-out RBI single.
• Derek Jeter has a hit in 12 of 14 games this month. He went 4-for-13 this weekend. Of his 11 hits against the Rays this season, seven have come with two strikes. How’s that for relatively obscure stats coming from the Rays media relations department?
• After allowing those back-to-back singles in the first inning, Kuroda retired his next 17 in a row. “I think my slider, especially against righties, was a pretty decent staple,” Kuroda said. “For me, the thing was I wanted to pound the zone today and be aggressive; a lesson from the last time.”
• Kuroda threw 72 pitches in the first six innings, but he threw 25 pitches in the seventh before being removed with two outs. Shawn Kelley got a huge strikeout to get Kuroda out of the jam. Really, that might have been the at-bat of the night. Runners were left stranded at the corners, and it was only a one-run game at the time. “That’s a huge out, obviously,” Girardi said. “If he doesn’t, they’re going to tie the score and have a chance to take the lead. It’s a really big out.”
• Dave Robertson has now converted 21 straight save opportunities. Oddly, though, he hasn’t had a strikeout in three straight appearances. He’s stuck at 499 career strikeouts. This is only the fifth time in his career that he’s gone three consecutive outings without a strikeout. He also did it back in April.
• McCann on returning to the lineup after more than a week off: “Good after the first couple innings. I felt it get in game speed. The first couple innings were a little fast on me, but then (things) settled down and it was just like another game.” McCann said the speed of the game struck him more behind the plate than at the plate.
• Yet again, excellent infield defense for the Yankees. Chase Headley made a diving play at third, and Martin Prado made at least three really nice plays at second. “It was really good,” Girardi said. “They made some excellent plays. Prado made some excellent plays today and some tough plays. You can look at the play in the eighth inning where he doesn’t try to do too much; he understands to just get an out. It was outstanding.”
• Final word goes to Gardner: “Well, we’ve won our last two games. Obviously we’ve got another off-day tomorrow and hopefully we’ll go home and have a good week at home. We didn’t do what we wanted to do in Baltimore and obviously losing Friday night here, but the last two days have gone pretty good. We continued to pitch great and hopefully this week our offense can pick up the slack and give our pitchers a little breathing room.”
Associated Press photos
Game 122: Yankees at Rays • 08.17.14
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter DH
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew SS
Martin Prado 2B
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 4.03)
Kuroda vs. Rays
Desmond Jennings CF
Ben Zobrist 2B
Matt Joyce LF
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Yunel Escobar SS
Vince Belnome DH
Jose Molina C
Kevin Kiermaier RF
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.61)
Hellickson vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 1:40 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: One more day of not having to worry about a rain out.
UMPIRES: HP Mark Ripperger, 1B Lance Barksdale, 2B Gary Cederstrom, 3B Kerwin Danley
MILESTONE K: Dave Robertson got last night’s save without a strikeout, which means he still has 499 career strikeouts in 374.2 career innings. Unless he goes a really, really long time before his next K, Robertson eventually will surpass David Cone (who had 500 Ks in his first 486.1 innings as a Yankee) as the fastest pitcher to reach the plateau in franchise history according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Should Robertson get his next out via strikeout, he would become the fifth pitcher in MLB history to reach 500 within his first 375.0 career innings, joining Billy Wagner (341 IP), Brad Lidge (354.2 IP), Armando Benitez (355.2 IP) and Rob Dibble (368.1 IP).
RELIABLE IN THE NINTH: Robertson has now converted 20 consecutive save opportunities since June 5, making the longest active streak in the Majors. He has become the fifth pitcher in franchise history to convert 20-or-more save opportunities in a row, joining Mariano Rivera (eight times, most recently 23 from April 9, 2012 to May 25, 2013), John Wetteland (once, 27 in 1996), Dave Righetti (once, 24 in 1986) and Goose Gossage (once, 25 in 1980). Rivera holds the franchise record, converting 36 consecutive save opportunities in 2009.
CLOSE CALLS: Not exactly a Robertson note, but this certainly has a lot to do with him. At 39-27, the Yankees have the Majors’ best record in games decided by two-or-fewer runs. They are 20-16 in one-run games, the third-best such record in the American League. They have won four of their last five games decided by one run.
UPDATE, 2:04 p.m.: Pretty solid play by Martin Prado to help Kuroda out in the first inning, but two singles and an RBI ground out were enough to give the Rays an early 1-0 lead.
UPDATE, 2:14 p.m.: Leadoff walk goes nowhere. That should be the title of a book written about this Yankees season.
UPDATE, 2:47 p.m.: Four innings. The Yankees have no hits.
UPDATE, 2:53 p.m.: There’s your daily nice play by Chase Headley over at third base. Diving catch on a line drive to end the fourth inning.
UPDATE, 3:06 p.m.: Well, the Yankees have a hit now. So that’s something. Two-out double by Prado in the fifth inning breaks up the no hitter. Here’s Gardner with a chance to drive in a couple of runs.
UPDATE, 3:10 p.m.: Two-out, two-strike, two-run single up the middle for Gardner. Yankees in front 2-1 as three hitters in a row have reached with two outs. Two batters ago they didn’t have a hit. Now they have a lead.
UPDATE, 3:15 p.m.: Make that five straight Yankees reaching base. Jeter and Ellsbury have singled, Ellsbury drove in a run, and it’s now 3-1 Yankees. The inning is still going with Teixeira at the plate.
UPDATE, 3:43 p.m.: Kuroda settled in nicely and is through three innings still with just one run on two hits. Martin Prado has helped him out, having a fine game at second base.
UPDATE, 4:01 p.m.: Couple of hits here in the seventh have pulled the Rays within 3-2. Some action in the Yankees bullpen now.
UPDATE, 4:11 p.m.: Two outs, runners at the corners, Shawn Kelley coming in to face Brandon Guyer. Trying to keep a one-run lead intact. Huge at-bat. Obviously.
UPDATE, 4:15 p.m.: High fastball and Guyer goes down swinging to strand the runners. Big out for Kelley. Betances now getting loose in the bullpen.
UPDATE, 4:21 p.m.: Teixeira’s 20th homer of the season and it’s a 4-2 lead. That little bit of breathing room feels pretty big right now.
Pitching matchups at Tampa Bay • 08.15.14
RHP Brandon McCarthy (4-1, 2.21)
RHP Alex Cobb (7-6, 3.41)
7:10 p.m., YES Network
RHP Shane Greene (3-1, 2.89)
LHP Drew Smyly (7-10, 3.73)
4:10 p.m., YES Network and FS1
RHP Hiroki Kuroda (7-8, 4.03)
RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-1, 2.61)
1:40 p.m., YES Network
Associated Press photo
This is a big day for the Yankees rotation.
At least, it might be a big day for the Yankees rotation.
Not only is Michael Pineda making his first big league start in more than three months, but even before tonight’s first pitch, Masahiro Tanaka went into the outfield and threw 10 flat-ground fastballs. That’s a pretty small step, but it’s the most significant step yet in his return from a partially torn elbow ligament.
“Pain’s gone,” is the phrase Wally Matthews heard.
At this stage, it’s basically impossible for Tanaka to do anything that proves he’s in the clear and will definitely return to the Yankees rotation without needing Tommy John surgery. For now, the best the Yankees can hope for is that he doesn’t suffer a setback. And so far he hasn’t. We’re squarely into no news is good news territory, and right now it seems that Tanaka has no real news to report.
He’s a Major League pitcher who’s playing catch and throwing a few pitches off flat ground. As long as it goes well, none of this is a particularly big deal. It’s all just a series of steps in the right direction. It becomes a big deal when he either progresses to game action or suffers some sort of setback that shuts down the whole process.
• Although the Yankees originally announced a rotation that had Chris Capuano starting on Sunday, Hiroki Kuroda told reporters in Baltimore that he’s actually taking the ball that day. The Yankees seem to be clearly — and understandably — trying to give Kuroda a little bit of a rest in hopes of avoiding a late-season crash like they’ve seen in recent years.
• Joe Girardi told reporters that he expects Brian McCann to come off the disabled list on Saturday. McCann has been on the seven-day concussion DL.
• Pineda returns to the rotation tonight. He hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since April 23, the day he was ejected for using pine tar. Most pitches he threw during his minor league rehab assignment was 72 on Friday, so there’s basically no chance he’ll be cleared for anything particularly close to 100 pitches tonight.
• To open a roster spot for Pineda, Chris Leroux has been designated for assignment. What is this, three big league call-ups for Leroux this season? He’s been one of several guys shuttling back and forth to give the Yankees a long man when they need it. And the Yankees have needed it quite a bit because they’ve struggled to get much distance out of their starting pitchers.
• The Orioles have put third baseman Manny Machado on the disabled list with a knee injury. He hurt himself during Monday’s game against the Yankees. Chris Davis is back at third base for Baltimore.
• Speaking of Baltimore, from our friend Marly Rivera, here’s Orioles manager Buck Showalter on whether Pineda will be using pine tar tonight: “I’m hoping he’s got a little (pine tar) in the right place, YOU try gripping the ball in some of this weather.” It’s been said over and over again, but the problem with Pineda in Boston wasn’t so much that he was using pine tar, it was the fact he was being so blatant about it after the Red Sox had already looked the other way once.
• Clubhouse good guy Shawn Kelley did the Ice Bucket Challenge today and challenged Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez to do the same. Dan Barbarisi pointed out yesterday that Kelley lost his grandfather to ALS, so it’s pretty cool that he’s jumping into the recent trend.
• At the owner’s meeting to discuss the next commissioner, Hal Steinbrenner told Michael O’Keeffe that he expects to have Alex Rodriguez back in the Yankees lineup next season. That’s settled. I’m sure we won’t hear another word about it.
Associated Press photo
Yankees postgame: No O • 08.10.14
When Jacoby Ellsbury homered with two outs in the ninth, the Yankees snapped their season-high streak of 19 straight innings without a run.
Somehow that streak didn’t seem shocking even though they scored five in the sixth Friday night when they won 10-6. There have been too many dead stretches by this team. The new guys may have improved the defense, but the consistency offensively hasn’t been there, meaning they have fit right in.
The Indians took the series with the 4-1 win that followed Saturday’s 3-0 victory. (Here’s my Lohud.com story on what happened Sunday.)
Joe Girardi credited the pitching that the Yankees faced the last two days and for much of the last week, considering the Tigers’ staff. He also said these punchless stretches of games this season have puzzled him at times. But he said this is part of baseball now.
“I think we got caught up with teams scoring 900 runs in the past,” Girardi said. “That’s not happening anymore.”
Mark Teixeira, while also crediting the Cleveland pitching, gave a realistic assessment of this offense.
“We haven’t really been great all year,” Teixeira said. “We just need to try to do our best and scratch runs when we can and pick it up a little bit.”
Teixeira went 1 for 4 in his return after three games off. He said he was happy with how his pinkie felt.
Hiroki Kuroda felt his pitching was rather subpar. He allowed three runs, five hits and four walks, plus hit a batter and threw a wild pitch in 4 2/3. He also gave a realistic assessment, saying his command was off.
The 39-year-old righty indicated that he was less than 100 percent as well.
“Everybody look around,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “It’s hard to find players 100 percent physically. So you’ve got to be able to respond with whatever you’ve got.”
Bryan Mitchell responded well in his major-league debut. The 23-year-old righty gave up just one walk and struck out two while working the final two innings. He said he was nervous.
“Knowing that I’ve done this before, I’ve been here, I’ve pitched here, I think it’ll be not easy obviously, but it will be a lot easier next time,” Mitchell said.
Ellsbury batted .417 (10 for 24) in the 4-3 homestand. The Yankees headed to Baltimore for a three-game series. They are 61-56 and trail the Orioles by six games. And the Yankees are 2 1/2 back of the Royals for the second wild card.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees pregame: Teixeira watch • 08.10.14
Joe Girardi is really hopeful he can stick with the lineup he put together today for the series finale against the Indians, the one with Mark Teixeira batting cleanup and playing first after missing three games.
Teixeira is testing his left pinkie in batting practice.
“It’s important to us,” Girardi said. “It means we can move some other people around and do some things that would help us, and you get him in the middle of the order where he’s been productive. It would be nice.”
Girardi still had no decision to announce on Wednesday night’s starter in Baltimore, Michael Pineda or Esmil Rogers. It will be the finale of a three-game series. The Yankees are in second, trailing the Orioles by six games at the moment.
“They’re important games because we’re chasing them,” Girardi said. “They have a lead in our division and that’s where we want to be, on top of the division. I think we have 10 more games with them. But the important thing is that we continue to take series, like we have an opportunity to today. And you need to do that if you want to play in October.”
Hiroki Kuroda goes today. The 39-year-old hasn’t shown signs of wearing down like he did last year, at least not yet.
“I’ve been really pleased,” Girardi said. “We’ve been somewhat conscious of his workload. I know the one day in Texas we had to push him (to 115 pitches), but we knew he had an extra day. I think the last start he threw 90 pitches (actually 91). It was seven innings, though. We’ll continue to watch him.”
Girardi seems in no hurry to get Carlos Beltran back in right.
“He’s been throwing,” Girardi said. “He definitely feels better. But … with the flexibility we got with (Martin) Prado, we feel less of a rush, not a rush, but we’re OK. It’s subject to change, but we’ll see what happens.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
The Yankees — and Ichiro Suzuki — just own Mark Buehrle. Actually the Yankees own the Blue Jays here at Yankee Stadium.
This 6-4 win marked their 17th straight against the Jays in the Bronx, the fourth-longest home winning streak by one team against another since divisional play began in 1969. The Yankees have 26 of the last 28 here against Toronto since May 24, 2011.
And then there’s Buehrle. The 35-year-old lefty is 0-10 with a 7.34 ERA in his last 15 starts against the Yankees. He’s 1-12 overall in 19 starts against them. He hasn’t beaten them since April 10, 2004, and that was at the old Yankee Stadium.
Asked the reason for the dominance, Joe Girardi said, “It’s hard to say. He’s a really good pitcher.”
Ichiro, who’s now 25 for 60 lifetime vs. Buehrle, hit a three-run shot in the third to snap his 294 at-bat homerless streak dating to last August 30. Derek Jeter had been on his case with some friendly teasing.
“During batting practice, he always tells me, ‘Can’t leave. Can’t leave,’ which means the ball doesn’t leave the ballpark,” Ichiro said through his interpreter.
“For a Japanese person, it’s hard to hear the ‘t’ at the end. I think he said, ‘Can leave,’ ” Ichiro added jokingly.
Hiroki Kuroda struggled some, but he earned the win, allowing four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3. Girardi said he had trouble with command of his sinker.
“He just fought all night,” Girardi said.
Chase Headley went 3 for 4, so he’s at .429 (6 for 14) after four games with his new team.
Mark Teixeira didn’t do any baseball activity, according to Girardi, just ran and did rotational exercises. Girardi said he’s expected to do the same Saturday, and that it wasn’t “probably realistic” that Teixeira could return to the lineup Sunday.
The Yankees are 7-1 since the break, having won four in a row. Their last five wins have been of the comeback variety. They own the second wild card at the moment.
“It beats the alternative,” Girardi said. “But it really doesn’t mean a whole lot with 60 games to go.”
Photo by The Associated Press.
Hiroki Kuroda has 1,700 and one-third regular-season innings behind him with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. And he has 1,243 regular-season innings behind him with the Dodgers and the Yankees.
The right-hander is 39 now. He faded badly last year, going 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA over his final eight starts for the Yankees. He’s intent on a faster finish.
“You won’t know until you do it, until the end,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “But hopefully I will take last year as a lesson and see how it goes.”
The Yankees have been trying to prevent a repeat. Kuroda has gone past 100 pitches only seven times in 20 starts. Joe Girardi removed him after 99 pitches Sunday when he gave up just an unearned run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings in the 3-2 win over the Reds. He was on eight days’ rest thanks to the All-Star break.
“I think we’ve kind of taken that initiative in the first half,” Girardi said. “We haven’t run him over 100 pitches a whole lot this year. We’ve given him the extra day when he needs the extra day. … So we’ll do what we can. But the other thing is we’re fighting to get in the playoffs and we’re going to have to pitch him.”
Kuroda is 6-6 with a 3.88 ERA. He began the season as the oldest Yankees starter. He’s the only one of the original five not currently residing on the DL.
“It just tells you about his conditioning and how he prepares himself on a daily basis during the offseason,” Girardi said. “He’s done a really good job. And it’s probably partly genetic, too. He’s been blessed.”
Girardi is wary about pushing him too far.
“You can maybe push him a little bit more, but I still think you have to be cautious because it’s kind of like your bullpen,” Girardi said. “If it gets overworked and then all of a sudden they’re not throwing as well, people wonder why. Well, it’s because you overworked. So it’s a fine line that we walk.”
Photo by The Associated Press
The Yankees know they need to be more rude to their guests in the second half. They have an AL-high 37 home games left. In the first half, they were just an 18-23 home team.
“We’re going to have to win at home,” Brian McCann said. “Our team is built for this ballpark. When we start to swing the bats better, we’re going to win more games.”
Now they’re 21-23 after this three-game sweep over the Reds to start a 10-game homestand out of the break.
“To be able to start off this way against a team that’s been playing well, that’s fighting for their division as well, I think it was real important,” Joe Girardi said.
Cincinnati put a bow on the sweep by giving the Yankees a gift run in the last of the ninth — McCann’s popup to shallow right that fell between three Reds and went for a single, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury from third to make it a 3-2 win.
“But I’ll take it, for sure,” McCann said.
“I thought I was under it and I was not,” first baseman Todd Frazier said.
Manager Bryan Price was looking at second baseman Skip Schumaker and right fielder Jay Bruce.
“Certainly I think it was a miscommunication in the sense that I’m sure Jay and Schumaker both thought the other was going to catch it,” Price said.
For all their rotation injuries, the Yankees’ starters are doing OK. They have given up three earned runs or less in each of their last eight games. They are 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in this stretch.
“Right now, these guys are getting it done for us,” Girardi said.
The only original starter left, Hiroki Kuroda, sure did in this start, allowing one unearned run and three hits in 6 2/3.
“He was awesome — again,” McCann said.
Dellin Betances wasn’t awesome for a change, surrendering the tying homer to Frazier in the eighth.
“I think we were all a little bit shocked when it happened,” Girardi said.
Betances said: “It was definitely frustrating, but I had faith that our team would come back.”
Ellsbury went 4 for 4, stole two bases and made a great catch in center.
“He showed all his tools today,” McCann said.
The Yankees finished interleague play at 13-7. Now injury-ravaged Texas comes in for four.
Photo by The Associated Press