The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Pregame notes: “I don’t ever remember him saying that”09.26.14

APTOPIX Orioles Yankees Baseball

Joe Girardi said he’s put this weekend entirely in Derek Jeter’s hands.

He’s told Jeter he can play any position, bat anywhere in the order. He’s offered to let Jeter manage this game or any other. It’s entirely up to the Captain to play when and where he wants to this weekend.

And today, he simply doesn’t want to play.

“I think he’s going to take a day off,” Girardi said. “I talked to him today and said, what do you want to do? He said, he’d like to have a day. It’s always difficult at this point because everyone wants to see him, and I understand that, but he’s been through a lot. The team’s been through a lot. We’ve played 18 games in the past 17 days. We got in here late last night, and I think he’s going to take a day.”

To be honest, I left last night’s game feeling pretty confident Jeter wouldn’t play tonight. I still think he’ll play Saturday and Sunday, and Jeter was clearly drained after last night. I can’t imagine trying to get up for this game after what he went through last night.

Girardi told the story of Jeter not being able to find one of his batting gloves in the first inning last night. Jeter swore he’d brought it with him to the bench, but it was nowhere to be found. He’d clearly forgotten it. And Jeter’s an organized guy, not prone to forgetting a batting glove that he’s brought with him to the bench every day for 20 years.

“That was the first sign probably for me that something was going on yesterday,” Girardi said.

And so, for the first time that anyone can remember, Jeter has asked not to play a regular-season game.

“Maybe in spring training (he’s done that),” Girardi said. “Certain road trips in spring training. I don’t ever remember him saying that. I’m sure he’s emotionally drained today. He’s probably physically drained. He played 10 or 11 days in a row. Our schedule was not easy, day games after night games, but it is the first time I remember.”

Orioles Yankees Baseball• Turns out, Girardi tried to create an emotional farewell even before Jeter’s walk-off. To start the ninth inning, Girardi asked Hiroki Kuroda to walk to the edge of the first base line, then stop. Girardi was going to go get him from there — if he crossed the line, he’d have to face a batter — so that Kuroda could walk off the field to his own ovation after three strong seasons with the Yankees. Kuroda declined. “I was really grateful when he approached me to do that,” Kuroda said. “I felt like the fact that I spent the whole year in the rotation paid off with his gesture. But yesterday, it was meant for Jeter, so I didn’t want to take anything from him. And I felt like I was in that position.”

• Girardi on Kuroda: “I had so many thoughts about Hiro. I knew Ichiro, he’s going to play more. I really wanted to honor Hiro. I really did. … Hiro’s meant a lot to our organization as well and has been a really good Yankee and a really good role model as well. This guy takes the ball every day. You think about the injuries we went through to our rotation. The oldest guy is still standing. That’s because of his preparation and how hard he works. I really wanted to honor him, but he really didn’t want to do it.”

• Kuroda said he hasn’t really thought about whether he’s going to retire after this season. He said he won’t start really thinking about it until he begins to get offers — or not get offers — from other teams. At that point, he said, he’ll begin to really consider whether he wants to pitch another season, and whether he thinks he can hold up through another season at 40 years old.

• Masahiro Tanaka remains on track to pitch again tomorrow. He could go up to 80-85 pitches, but the Yankees might not ask him to throw quite that many. “Obviously I wouldn’t push him too far (with the pitch count),” Girardi said. “Doesn’t really make a lot of sense at this point. But just (want to see) that same stuff.”

• Assuming Tanaka gets through tomorrow with no problems, he’ll have a normal offseason.

• Mark Teixeira is out of the lineup tonight, but that doesn’t mean he’s finished for the weekend. “I’m not going to play him today, and I don’t know if I’ll play him tomorrow,” Girardi said. “But I’m thinking that if Derek plays on Sunday, I’m thinking a lot of these guys might want to play alongside him one last time.”

• Even Girardi had to look at a list to make sure he could announce the lineup correctly. He realizes this lineup is basically a spring training lineup, but he said at this point in the season, after all the days in a row, he wanted to give almost everyone a day off.

• Any part of Girardi that thinks moments like Mariano Rivera last year and Jeter this year make it OK to have missed the playoffs two years in a row? Those moments likely wouldn’t have happened with something on the line. “No,” Girardi said. “There isn’t. I can remember another great Yankee who made the playoffs, and they lost in the playoffs, and the sendoff was pretty special. That was Paul O’Neill. So, no, I would have much rather done it that way, and there’s nothing inside me that thinks it’s OK.”

• Has Girardi talked to Dave Robertson since last night? “No, I have not had a chance to talk to him,” Girardi said. “But he did a great job.”

Associated Press photos

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Game 159: Yankees vs. Orioles09.25.14

JETERYANKEES (81-77)
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Chris Young LF
Stephen Drew 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jose Pirela DH

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-9, 3.77)
Kuroda vs. Orioles

ORIOLES (95-63)
Nick Markakis RF
Alejandro De Aza LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Steve Pearce 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Caleb Joseph C

RHP Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57)
Gausman vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: It’s been better.

UMPIRES: HP Adam Hamari, 1B Brian O’Nora, 2B D.J. Reyburn, 3B Jeff Kellogg

MEANINGFUL GAMES: You might have heard that tonight marks the final home game for Derek Jeter. Prior to tonight, of the 2,744 career regular season games he has played in, there has been just one in which the Yankees had already been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention (a 19-8 Yankees win on September 26, 2008 at Boston). This will be his first time playing a meaningless game at home.

THE LAST STAND: Since the start of his final regular season homestand on September 18, Jeter is batting .345 (10-for-29) with four runs, three doubles, one home run and six RBI in seven games.

ON THIS DATE: Seems kind of fitting, it was on September 25, 1917 that former Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto was born in New York City.

UPDATE, 7:09 p.m.: Jeter had to tip his cap during infield warmups because the Jeter chants were so loud.

UPDATE, 7:10 p.m.: Just as the Bleacher Creatures started chanting Jeter’s name for Roll Call, Nick Markakis went deep. Now De Aza has made it two homers in a row. Already the Orioles are up 2-0. Still no outs.

UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: That’s just unbelievable. Jeter’s first at-bat, he missed a home run by a matter of feet. He’ll take the RBI double.

UPDATE, 7:29 p.m.:  Apparently every Yankees player is going to use a song that Jeter has previously used as a walkup song. That’s pretty cool.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Jeter grounds to short in his second at-bat. This will not be another 5-for-5 day.

UPDATE, 8:18 p.m.: Replay was on Jeter’s side to end the top of the third, but the Yankees couldn’t score in the bottom of the third and so we’re still tied at 2. Also, this story from Steve Politi is cool.

UPDATE, 8:50 p.m.: Jeter goes down swinging in his third at-bat. Yankees haven’t had a hit since that Chris Young infield single in the first.

UPDATE, 9:29 p.m.: Game tied. Bases loaded. One out in the seventh. Here’s Jeter with a great chance to give the Yankees the lead.

UPDATE, 9:31 p.m.: Slow roller to short. Hardy made a bad throw and it will go down as a fielder’s choice with an E-6, but that’s still an RBI. Could easily be the game-winning RBI.

UPDATE, 10:13 p.m.: Oh my. Dave Robertson allows two homers in the ninth, including a two-out, game-tying shot by Steve Pearce. Jeter no longer credited with the game-winning RBI, but due up third here in the bottom of the inning.

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Pregame notes: “Let me play the game first”09.25.14

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter showed up as his locker briefly. He disappeared through the back door of the clubhouse and returned a few minutes later. It wasn’t particularly unusual — pretty typical pregame back-and-forth, really — except this is his last game at Yankee Stadium, and so there was a playoff-sized packed of media gathered around his locker waiting for Jeter to say … anything, really.

“Afterwards,” Jeter said. “It’s tough for me to start getting emotional and sentimental before I’ve got to play. So let me play the game first. I’ll let you know how I felt about it afterwards.”

Jeter said he’s made no decisions about playing this weekend in Boston. Said he wasn’t sure how many tickets he’d left for friends and family. He said he was thinking mostly about the weather and hoping things would clear up long enough to get the game in.

“I think it’s going to be extremely special,” Joe Girardi said. “Something that obviously he’ll be able to carry with him the rest of his life. I think it’s going to be something that all of us will remember, that we were here tonight; similar to Mo’s last night. That we were at the Stadium the night he played his last game.”

As for a plan, Girardi said he was simply hoping something would occur to him in the moment. If he has a plot in mind — a mid-inning substitution or anything like that — he hasn’t revealed it just yet. But the game means nothing for the Yankees, so Girardi can basically handle Jeter’s final moments however he’d like.

“I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had to play too many games like this in my career,” Jeter said. “But it is what it is. Our team was not good enough, so we’re out of playoff contention. It’s always difficult. You set your goals and you try to reach something and that goal was unattainable.”

That much Jeter knew when he got to the ballpark today. At some point tonight, the plan is for him find out what it’s like to play one last game at Yankee Stadium.

“My feelings are, I hope the rain stops,” Jeter said. “That’s basically it.”

Hiroki Kuroda• There’s a solid chance Jeter’s not the only one playing his final game at Yankee Stadium tonight. Hiroki Kuroda has the start, and it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll also retire at the end of this season. “No he has not (announced his plans),” Girardi said. “Obviously that’s something he’ll sit down after the season and make the decision. He’s not 29 either, so I’m not sure.”

• Might not be his last game at Yankee Stadium — seems he’ll probably play again next year — but this is almost certainly Ichiro Suzuki’s final game at Yankee Stadium as a member of the Yankees. I actually think it would be cool if Girardi pulled him from the game for a standing ovation at some point. Maybe take out Ichiro with two outs in the eighth and Jeter with two outs in the ninth?

• Thought the Yankees might use these meaningless games to give Bryan Mitchell one more start, but Larry Rothschild said it’s been so long since his last start, that it wouldn’t really be fair to ask Mitchell to try to start again tomorrow or Sunday. The plan is to stick with Capuano, Tanaka and Pineda for the three games in Boston.

• Girardi on the plans for Jeter this weekend: “I don’t have them yet. I’m waiting to meet with him. He’ll be in, I’m sure, fairly shortly. I talked to him (yesterday). Let’s meet today and decide. Tell me what you want to do. Then, when he does, I’ll let him share it. I probably won’t.”

• Here’s Jeter on what he was feeling during Mariano Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium: “I was proud of him. I was happy that I was here. It’s a little different because you don’t know the situation. Mo was getting a massage until 9:30, 9:45, then he goes out there. You have a pretty good idea of when he’s going to come in. I just wanted to be here for him. That’s pretty much it. I was happy for him, I was proud of him that his career was coming to an end. I was just happy to be here for him.”

• Girardi was asked whether he plans to keep anything from tonight’s game. “My lineup cards I keep all the time anyway,” he said. “That’s just what I do because I think it tells a story during the course of a season. Maybe I’ll keep one ball, but it’s the memories more than the mementos that I really want to hold onto. When I think about my time with Derek Jeter, the things he did as a young player, the things he did middle age and as an older player, just being around him. Remembering the 3,000th hit was really special. Those types of things. I remember celebrating in the clubhouse with him. Those are the things that I’m going to remember.”

Associated Press photos

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Game 153: Yankees vs. Blue Jays09.19.14

Hiroki KurodaYANKEES (78-74)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran DH
Brett Gardner LF
Stephen Drew 2B
Chase Headley 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.81)
Kuroda vs. Blue Jays

BLUE JAYS (77-75)
Jose Reyes SS
Jose Bautista RF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Adam Lind 1B
Dioner Navarro C
Danny Valencia 3B
Munenori Kawasaki 2B
Dalton Pompey LF
Anthony Gose CF

LHP Mark Buehrle (12-9, 3.40)
Buehrle vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Little bit chilly, but I like it. Feels like fall, and that’s a good thing.

UMPIRES: HP Laz Diaz, 1B Scott Barry, 2B Mark Carlson, 3B Jeff Nelson

DON’T LEAVE EARLY: The Yankees have eight walk-off wins in 2014, surpassing their 2013 total (7) and marking their most since 2009 (15). Seven of the walk-offs in 2014 have come after the All-Star break, matching Washington and San Diego for the most in the Majors according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Elias also notes this is the most post-All-Star walk-offs by the Yankees since 2009 (7) and the club last had more in 1988 (8).?Elias notes that all of the Yankees’ 2014 walk-off at-bats are from players in their first year with team (Headley-3, McCann-2, Beltran-1, Prado-1, Young-1).

STARTING BLOCKS: Yankees starters have recorded at least five innings and allowed two earned runs or less in each of their past eight games, producing a 1.46 ERA in that span. It is their longest such streak since a nine-game span from June 2-11, 2012  during which they recorded at least six innings and allowed two earned or fewer in each game.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Yankees have won 10 of their last 14 games at Yankee Stadium and have won 21 of their 33 games at home since the All-Star break, the third-most home wins in the Majors over the span.

UPDATE, 7:11 p.m.: Nice little play by Jeter to keep Reyes off the bag and get him into a run down. Could have been a runner at third with one out, instead it’s a runner at first with one out.

UPDATE, 7:13 p.m.: Or maybe it doesn’t matter at all. There’s a two-run home run by Encarnacion off the left-field foul pole.

UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: Leadoff double for Ellsbury. Opposite-field single for Jeter. Runners at the corners for the heart of the Yankees lineup.

UPDATE, 7:59 p.m.: Ellsbury goes deep with a two-run, go-ahead homer. That’s number 16 for Ellsbury. It’s now a 3-2 Yankees lead, and here’s Jeter. The crowd seems to like him.

UPDATE, 8:21 p.m.: Ellsbury beats out a double play, and the Yankees get two runs out of it. Now Jeter has followed with his second hit of the night. It’s a 5-2 Yankees lead in the fourth.

UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: Ellsbury seemed to hurt his hamstring beating out that play, and now he’s out of the game as the Yankees take the field in the top of the fifth. Gardner to center, Chris Young to left.

UPDATE, 9:15 p.m.: Esmil Rogers got the ground ball he needed to get out of the seventh inning with the bases left loaded and a 5-3 lead still intact.

UPDATE, 9:33 p.m.: Yankees announce that Ellsbury has a strained hamstring and will go for an MRI. With so little time left in the season, that could be the end of the year for him. Meanwhile, here’s Adam Warren to pitch with one on and one out in the eighth.

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Game 148: Yankees at Orioles09.14.14

Hiroki KurodaYANKEES (76-71)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brett Gardner LF
Martin Prado 3B
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chris Young DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Antoan Richardson RF

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.91)
Kuroda vs. Orioles

ORIOLES (88-60)
Nick Markakis RF
Alejandro De Aza LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz RF
Steve Pearce 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Kelly Johnson 3B
Nick Hundley C
Jonathan Schoop 2B

RHP Chris Tillman (12-5, 3.36)
Tillman vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 8:05 p.m., ESPN

WEATHER: Starting to get just a little bit, but ultimately a nice night for a game.

UMPIRES: HP Ed Hickox, 1B Todd Tichenor, 2B Clint Fagan, 3B Tim Welke

FEELS LIKE HOME: Brian McCann hit his third road home run of the season yesterday. It was his first road homer since May 23 in Chicago, snapping a 37-game road homerless stretch. It marked the second-longest such stretch of his career behind a 48-game span on the road that ended in 2011 with Atlanta.

TWO AWAY: Derek Jeter remains two runs away from tying Alex Rodriguez for the ninth-most runs in baseball history.

THEY SAY IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY: St. Louis native Josh Outman is celebrating his 30th birthday today. Someone get this guy a cup of Ted Drewes and a bottle of Perennial.

UPDATE, 9:05 p.m.: Kuroda is through three scoreless. And with Prado leading off the fourth inning, the Yankees are surely about to get another run. They’re up 1-0 because of yet another Prado homer in the second inning.

UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: Middle of the fifth with the Yankees still holding that 1-0 lead.

UPDATE, 9:41 p.m.: Kuroda is through five scoreless. Huge return to form after Tuesday’s rough start at home.

UPDATE, 9:59 p.m.: Line drive deflected by Prado becomes an RBI double for Jones, tying the game at 1 here in the sixth inning.

UPDATE, 10:03 p.m.: Drew might have saved a run there. Nice diving stop to keep the ball in the infield, which forced Jones to stop at third base.

UPDATE, 10:16 p.m.: Wow. Carlos Beltran just stepped on deck and the Orioles are going to Andrew Miller.

UPDATE, 10:20 p.m.: Took a shot, but Beltran is down swinging and the inning is over.

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Postgame notes: “It just wasn’t a good decision”09.10.14

Ryan Hanigan, Stephen Drew

Plenty of confusion tonight about the fifth-inning play at the plate that essentially cost the Yankees their best chance to tie the game. But the reality is — and everyone seemed to agree — that baseball’s evolving rule about blocking the plate never should have come into play because Stephen Drew never should have been waved home in the first place.

“To begin with, just a bad send,” third-base coach Rob Thomson said. “Just an error on my judgment. I take full responsibility for it. We’re all accountable around here. It just wasn’t a good decision. Nobody out, the middle of the lineup coming to the plate, I’ve got to stop him right there. I thought the outfielder was going a little bit further to the line. He came up and squared up (to throw) pretty quick. I should’ve stopped him. … From my perspective, the ruling doesn’t really come into play. It’s just a matter of whether I think that guy is going to be able to score or not, and (the rule) shouldn’t come into play, especially with nobody out.”

Or, to put it another way:

“You can’t make the first out at home,” Joe Giradi said. “It’s a quick decision he has to make. It’s a bang-bang decision — and it’s not an easy job — but you have the bases loaded and nobody out (if he doesn’t send the runner).”

The confusion came because Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan clearly blocked the plate without the ball, but the league actually sent a memo earlier today saying that catchers can stand in front of the plate if they have the ball in plenty of time (basically making sure runners aren’t safe on a technicality, which is the best Drew could have hoped for). With or without the memo, it seems Drew would have been allowed to run over the catcher, but runners are basically conditioned to slide at this point.

“They still want them to slide,” Girardi said. “It really hasn’t changed a whole lot. They talk about they want the guys to slide. And the guys know that if the guy’s blocking the plate, they can run them over. They are so used to sliding now, in a sense, it’s going back and forth.”

That’s what Drew said. He basically had no lane and wasn’t sure what he was allowed to do, so he slid. But it all comes back to the decision to send the runner.

“If I had to do it again I’d probably do it the other way (and run him over) because of the outcome,” Drew said. “… At the time I thought it was be a little closer than it was when Tomper sent me there. At that point, it was already too late.”

Ichiro Suzuki• I’ll probably write more about this in the morning, but my impression of Girardi and everyone else was that this was the most resigned the Yankees have seemed all season. This really felt like the blow that knocked out what little hope remains for a playoff push. “It leaves us in a pretty big hole,” Girardi said. “Basically we have to win every day. That’s the bottom line: we have to win every day.”

• Girardi pointed out that immediately after Drew was thrown out at the plate, Derek Jeter still had a chance to drive in the tying run and he instead lined into double play. Sending Drew was a bad decision. Jeter’s ball was pretty bad luck.

• Girardi also called it bad luck that Ichiro Suzuki was doubled up at second base in the seventh inning. Ichiro had singled and stolen second base and he had a great jump trying to steal third, but Drew flied to right and Ichiro couldn’t get back in time.

• Chris Young drove in two of the Yankees three runs tonight. He got his first Yankees hit in his first Yankees start. It was his first hit and first start since August 5 with the Mets. It was his first RBI July 30 and first multi-RBI game since July 13.

• The other Yankees run came on Jacoby Ellsbury’s 15th home run. This is the second time in his career that he’s hit at least 15 homers in a season. Ellsbury is hitting .361 with 12 runs, three triples, five homers and 15 RBI in his past 19 games.

Brian McCann, Hiroki Kuroda• Brutal game for Hiroki Kuroda, who’d been pitching extremely well before tonight’s debacle. “I had a great start in the first inning,” Kuroda said. “But I feel like they changed their approach in the second inning on, and I wasn’t able to re-adjust instantly. … I guess I should have changed my approach on my first pitches, which I didn’t do.”

• Kuroda struck out the game’s first three batters, but beginning with a leadoff homer in the second, he allowed four runs on nine hits without pitching through the fourth inning. It was the first time this season that he lasted fewer than four innings. “I just didn’t think he located his fastball very well and his split didn’t have quite the bite it had all of his other starts that we’ve been seeing when he’s been on a roll,” Girardi said.

• This was Kuroda’s shortest outing since May 22 of last year, and it was the most hits he’d ever allowed in a start of 3.1 innings or less. He was one hit shy of a season-high in hits allowed.

• The Yankees bullpen was exceptional. Seven relievers combined for 5.2 scoreless innings with just two hits, two walks and six strikeouts. The bullpen has pitched 20.2 scoreless inning in their past six games.

• Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 while playing in his 2,730th career game. He is now tied with Mel Ott for the eight-most games ever played among players who played their whole career with one team. According to Elias, Jeter also tied Ott for the most games ever played for a New York MLB team.

• We’ll give the final word to Mark Teixeira: “I mean, we want to win, obviously. That’s a tough game. We made a little run there, but you have to get to these guys before their eighth- and ninth-inning relievers. They’re two of the best in baseball. We had some chances in the middle innings but just couldn’t get over the hump. … We have to win a lot of games. We’ve said it before; we have very little margin for error. We have to try to win every night.”

Associated Press photos

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Game 142: Yankees vs. Rays09.09.14

Hiroki KurodaYANKEES (73-68)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Stephen Drew 2B
Chris Young LF

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.78)
Kuroda vs. Rays

RAYS (69-75)
Ben Zobrist 2B
David DeJesus DH
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Wil Myers RF
Matt Joyce LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Ryan Hanigan C

RHP Chris Archer (8-8, 3.60)
Archer vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., MY9

WEATHER: Cloudy and cool, but only a very slight chance of rain.

UMPIRES: HP Vic Carapazza, 1B Larry Vanover, 2B Marcus Pattillo, 3B Angel Hernandez

ONE AWAY: Derek Jeter has played in 2,729 games with the Yankees, ninth most among players who have played all of their games with one team. Tonight he will tie the Giants’ Mel Ott for eighth-most all time.

TWO AWAY: Jeter has scored 1,917 runs in his career. He’s two away from tying Alex Rodriguez for the ninth-most in baseball history.

WHAT A RELIEF: Over their last five games, Yankees relievers have pitched 15 scoreless innings (5 hits, 1 walk, 19 strikeouts).?In their past 16 games since August 22, the Yankees bullpen has produced a 1.34 ERA and held opponents to a .171 batting average.

UPDATE, 7:22 p.m.: Well that was crushed. Kuroda struck out the side in the first inning, but the second inning has started with a long home run by James Loney. Rays take an early lead. Question is, can the Yankees score a run tonight?

UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: Nothing happening for the Yankees offense through the first two innings. You probably assumed that to be true, though.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Bunch of third-inning singles have pushed the Rays lead to 3-0. Meanwhile, the Yankees are being no-hit heading into the fourth. So, you know, just another day at the office.

UPDATE, 8:17 p.m.: Well, Kuroda is finished after nine hits and four runs in 3.1 innings. No good at all for the Yankees, who rarely have much chance to win on nights they don’t get a strong pitching performance. Here’s David Huff.

UPDATE, 8:53 p.m.: I don’t like the blocking the plate rule, but if it’ s a rule, how is that not blocking the plate? I thought we’d have a tied game at 4, instead Drew is out at the plate and the Yankees two runs here in the fifth came on a two-run single by Chris Young. It’s 4-3 Rays.

UPDATE, 9:43 p.m.: Ichiro stole second, and then decided to steal third. He was running on the pitch, Drew flied to right, and Ichiro was doubled up at second. Base running hurts the Yankees yet again.

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Postgame notes: “So consistent day in and day out, pitch after pitch”09.04.14

Hiroki Kuroda

Before CC Sabathia hurt his knee, before Michael Pineda went down with a shoulder injury, and long before Masahiro Tanaka tore his elbow ligament, Hiroki Kuroda finished the month of April with a 5.28 ERA. He was 39 years old, he’d been brutal down the stretch last year, and it was worth wondering whether Kuroda had finally run out of steam. For a moment, he was actually one of the Yankees more significant rotation concerns.

Since his second May start, thought, Kuroda’s had a 3.43 ERA. At a time when the Yankees rotation has desperately needed some sort of stability, Kuroda’s been basically the exact same source of consistency that he was the past two years.

“Some of the other years he’s been here, his April has been a little bit inconsistent,” manager Joe Girardi said. “So I felt like maybe he’s going through the (typical) April. He didn’t have his arm strength, didn’t have a slider. There was a little bit of a concern about that, but you saw it come around in May which put that all to rest.”

This rotation has been a stunning source of strength for the Yankees, and much of the credit has gone to the replacement starters. The Yankees have been kept afloat by the arrival of Shane Greene, the trade for Brandon McCarthy, the return of Pineda, the scrap-heap addition of Chris Capuano, the short-term boost of Chase Whitley, and the injury-shortened improvement of David Phelps.

In all of that, Kuroda has been overshadowed, but he led the way in tonight’s win to snap this three-game losing streak. He’s won his last three decisions, and he’s gone at least six innings with no more than two runs in each of his past four starts. Kuroda faded down the stretch the past two seasons, but this year he seems to be at his best near the end.

Kuroda said he’s been throwing fewer pitches between starts all year, and he skipped a bullpen heading into this start. He’s just trying to stay strong and avoid that familiar slide.

“Especially last year, I didn’t have a good month of September,” he said. “So I just wanted to change that, and I just wanted to contribute to my team. … I don’t know exactly what’s working, to be honest with you, but because I have to do my everyday workout to get my work in, and because I cannot skip a rotation turn or start, I just want to make sure I stay active.”

Kuroda has pitched into the sixth inning in 13 of his past 14 starts, and the last time he allowed more than four runs — earned or unearned — was way back on April 25.

“He just had another start that he’s had all year long,” Brian McCann said. “I feel like he’s been so consistent day in and day out, pitch after pitch. He just keeps making them.”

PradoStanding at his locker postgame, Martin Prado sounded frustrated but at least a little bit optimistic. He considered the MRI largely precautionary, and he said a day of nothing but treatment seems to have done at least some good for his strained left hamstring.

“I think we made a little progress today,” he said. “We’ll see how I respond tomorrow. We did everything we could today to make some progress. … Tomorrow we’re going to, I heard, we’re going to do some activities. Hit and do everything normal to see how I react.”

Seems unlikely that Prado will play tomorrow, but he seems to think this should be — or at least could be — a fairly short-term issue.

“I know that I’ll probably miss just one or two days and not the rest of the season, so I was trying to be smart about it,” he said. “I don’t feel it walking. I feel, actually, normal. But when you’re playing, it’s not like I’m going to say I’m going to play 50 percent. I have to go 100 percent or I can’t play. We’ll see tomorrow. I’ll try to do everything I can to get back in the game.”

Allen Craig• We’ll get into all the good things the offense did in a bit, but first: the first-inning rundown debacle. “Gardy did not get a good jump and he has to stop,” Girardi said. “Jeet had third base easy. Gardy has to stop there, and running into two outs — I wasn’t real happy about it, but we made up for it and that mistake didn’t cost us dearly, fortunately.”

• If you missed the play, it was a double steal, and the Red Sox threw to second instead of third. Because of his bad jump, Gardner stop short of the bag, tried to get into a rundown to let Jeter score, but Jeter never broke for home, ventured too far off third base, and the Red Sox ultimately threw over to get him out. They then fired to second, and Gardner was out as well. Just brutal.

• Before the game, Kevin Long actually talked about the fact the Yankees have run themselves into too many outs this season. “How many times have you seen it happen this year where we’ve run ourselves out of an inning or we do something like that?” Long said. “It’s happened 8-to-10 times. That’s a lot.” When it happened again, Girardi addressed the Yankees base running issues. “Sometimes it’s overaggressiveness,” Girardi said. “You look at the one we did last night, it’s not picking up the runner in front of you. It’s not like these guys aren’t experienced, and they know what they need to do. Sometimes it’s just a matter of playing too hard and trying too hard (that causes the team) to make mistakes.”

• On the offensive bright side: Brian McCann. He has homered in a career-high three straight home games. He matched his career-high with four hits, something he’s now done 11 times (last time was July 6 of last year). “I was covering both sides of the plate, working counts and swinging at strikes,” he said.

• McCann’s now hit 17 home runs this season, and 15 of them have come at Yankee Stadium. Two other players in franchise history have hit 15 of their first 17 Yankees home runs in home games: Joe Sewell in 1931-32 and Oscar Gamble in 1976. That’s according to Elias. Oddly enough, I did not know that off the top of my head.

• Jacoby Ellsbury had a triple and a sacrifice fly and is now hitting .415 with two doubles, two triples and four home runs in his past 14 games.

David Robertson• Dellin Betances struck out two batters in a scoreless eighth inning. He now has 122 strikeouts in 81 innings this season and has a good chance to be the Yankees season leader in strikeouts while pitching the entire season out of the bullpen. He’s tied Goose Gossage for the second-most reliever strikeouts in a season (Gossage did it in 134.1 innings in 1978). The record is 130 set by Mariano Rivera in 107.2 innings 1996.

• Also a bunch of strikeouts tonight for Kuroda, who tied a season-high with eight strikeouts. He also did that in May against the Angels. This was his fourth career start of at least seven innings with at least eight strikeouts and no walks. He did that once in 2008, once in 2009, and twice this year.

• Both Kuroda and Girardi had kind words for McCann’s ability to work with Kuroda through these strong outings. “He has a great idea what the pitchers stuff is and how it equates to getting each hitter out,” Girardi said. “Sometimes you can say, ‘Well, (the batter) is not a good changeup hitter.’ Well if you don’t have a changeup, that becomes an issue, so you have too find another way to get hitters out and I think Brian is very good at knowing what he needs to do with Hiro and the type of stuff he has and figuring out how to get outs.”

• Because Detroit lost, the Yankees gained a game and now trail by four games for the second wild card. “It’s impossible not to watch (the scoreboard),” Girardi said. “It’s human nature. You watch it all year long. We’re baseball people, that’s what we do. There’s always that curiosity, but obviously you know what’s going on.”

• Final word goes to McCann: “It’s big. At this point, our mindset here is to just win as many games as we can. We’ve got one month to turn it on and we plan on doing that.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Game 137: Yankees vs. Red Sox09.03.14

Hiroki KurodaYANKEES (70-66)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (9-8, 3.88)
Kuroda vs. Red Sox

RED SOX (61-77)
Brock Holt 3B
Mookie Betts CF
David Ortiz DH
Yoenis Cespedes LF
Daniel Nava RF
Allen Craig 1B
Xander Bogaerts SS
Christian Vazquez C
Jemile Weeks 2B

RHP Anthony Ranaudo (3-0, 4.50)
Ranaudo vs. Yankees

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

WEATHER: Cooler than last night, which is a welcome change. Very little bit of wind blowing out to center.

UMPIRES: HP Tim Welke, 1B Todd Tichenor, 2B Clint Fagan, 3B Tim Timmons

YEAR IN REVIEW: Of the 25 calls Joe Girardi has challenged this season, 20 have been overturned in the Yankees’ favor. That’s the best success rate in baseball. The Yankees have had calls successfully overturned in each of their last seven challenges and in 11 of their last 12 (since June 6).

ROLL CALL: After getting Chaz Roe and Chris Young into last night’s game, the Yankees have now used 55 players this season, the second-highest total in franchise history. They’re one away from tying last year’s total, which means they could get there by getting Antoan Richardson in a game. There’s no one else on the roster who hasn’t already played in a Yankees game this season.

FINALLY, A BIG HIT: After tonight’s postgame show, the YES Network will premiere Aaron Boone Yankeeography: Moments of Glory which focuses on Boone’s 11th-inning, 2003 ALCS Game 7 game-winning home run which sent the Yankees to the World Series. The special features interviews with Boone, Willie Randolph, Joe Torre, Mike Mussina, Tim Wakefield, Kevin Millar, David Wells and Jorge Posada.

UPDATE, 7:26 p.m.: Quite a bunt by Gardner. Two on and one out for Beltran.

UPDATE, 7:28 p.m.: My gosh. That was a complete mess. Worse base running than last night? Has to be, right?

UPDATE, 7:45 p.m.: Maybe it’s not going to be one of those nights after all. Brian McCann just sent a no-doubt, two-run homer into the second deck and it’s a 2-0 Yankees.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Kuroda through three scoreless. Five strikeouts already.

UPDATE, 8:48 p.m.: Bases loaded in the fifth, the Yankees didn’t run themselves out of a scoring opportunity this time. Jacoby Ellsbury lifted a deep sacrifice fly, and now Jeter is up with two outs and two on trying to extend the lead even further.

UPDATE, 8:49 p.m.: Hit the ball fairly hard, but it’s right to the right fielder for an inning-ending fly out. Yankees will head into the sixth inning with a 3-0 lead.

UPDATE, 8:58 p.m.: RBI double by Holt has the Red Sox on the board, Yankees still up 3-1. Pretty hard-hit ball over Gardner’s head. First time Kuroda’s really had much trouble tonight.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Postgame notes: “As bad as I’ve felt walking off a mound”08.28.14

Shawn Kelley

When a team is winning, a $20 horsehead mask bought on Amazon feels like good luck.

When a team has lost two of three in a tight wild card race, a one-run loss feels like rock bottom.

“That’s about as bad as I’ve felt walking off a mound in my career,” Shawn Kelley said.

Surely a misplaced slider on August 28 isn’t the low point of Kelley’s career, but I have no doubt it’s going to feel that way on the flight to Toronto. Three days ago, the Yankees had won five straight and Kelley’s goofy horsehead had become an unlikely team mascot. Now the team has lost two of three and fallen to three games behind both the Tigers and Mariners for the second wild card.

“We need to win every single game,” Derek Jeter said. “I don’t know how else to say it. That’s the approach we need to have. We’re in this position because of how we’ve played up to this point. So we are where we are, and now we need to win.”

As you might expect, there was a definite sense of lost opportunity in the Yankees clubhouse postgame. There were line drive outs. Brian McCann’s near home run was blown just foul. Kelley was one out away from escaping the ninth-inning jam.

When things are going well — when masks are good luck charms, and the team is winning, and 90s hip-hop is blasting in the clubhouse — there’s a real sense that games like this will eventually turn in the Yankees favor. But today, there was no laughing and no music blasting. And that horse mask was nowhere to be found.

“I didn’t watch (the game-winning hit),” Kelley said. “I just put my head down and walked off the field. It would’ve been a nice surprise if he would’ve (caught it), but I assumed it was a homer.”

Brian McCann• To be clear, off the bat I felt certain Alex Avila’s game-winner was a home run. I never thought Ichiro Suzuki had a shot at it until he closed the gap and came fairly close to a full-sprint catch at the wall. Ichiro was close, but I have a hard time suggesting he misplayed it. I’m mostly stunned he got that close. “It’s a do-or-die play,” Ichiro said. “I just went to where I thought the ball was going to be.”

• Girardi on whether Ichiro had a shot to make the catch: “It’s really hard for me to see once it gets out there. I heard him hit the wall, and I think I heard the ball hit the wall. I can’t tell you what exactly happened, but the bottom line is that it ended up being a base hit.”

• Kelley struck out both Nick Castellanos and Torii Hunter on fastballs, and he gave up both the Victor Martinez and Avila base hits on sliders. Surprised he went slider in that two-out situation against Avila? “No, that’s his bread-and-butter pitch,” Girardi said. “He also made some pretty good pitches with some sliders during some of the at-bats too.”

• Kelley on the first-pitch slider to Avila: “I got the outs I wanted to get, and then just overthrew a slider and left it up. Avila can hit that pitch. Most guys can.”

• Everyone involved seem to think McCann had a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the ninth. It seemed fair initially, but it eventually wound its way just foul. “I did (think it would stay fair),” McCann said. “It just kept going. I don’t know if the wind took it or what. It would have been nice if it stayed fair, but it didn’t.”

• Girardi said it “wasn’t a consideration” to use Dellin Betances for two innings tonight, and he indicated that it had nothing to do with using Betances last night. “You feel good about (Kelley) on the mound, especially the way he’s been throwing the baseball,” Girardi said. Kelley’s past five games leading into this one: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K.

Hiroki Kuroda• Another pretty good start by Hiroki Kuroda, who has a 3.28 ERA in his past nine games. “I think I was pretty consistent with my splits,” Kuroda said. “I was able to be effective against the right-handers with my split.”

• We’re not into September yet, but Kuroda seems fairly confident that he can finish this season stronger than he did last year. “Yes, I had a bad second half last year and I am conscious of that,” he said. “I try to be different this year.” Kuroda has done things like limit the pitches he throws between starts in an effort to stay strong down the stretch.

• What made rookie Kyle Lobstein so effective? Girardi actually said the Yankees hit the ball better today than they did against David Price. “From the game that I saw, we swung the bats better than we did yesterday,” he said. “We just hit balls at people. That’s unfortunate. One inning we lined out three times. That’s part of the game, and we’re able to put a number of hits together and that’s why we didn’t score, but I actually thought we swung the bats well.”

• Jacoby Ellsbury had one hit, an RBI single. he’s hitting .462 in his past 10 games. Carlos Beltran is also fairly hot lately. He had two hits including a double and is batting .375 on the current road trip. This was his 27th multi-hit game of the season.

• This was the 42nd time the Yankees were limited to two runs or less this season. Little surprise they’re 7-35 in those games.

• Final word to Brett Gardner: “If we make up one game per week we’ll be in good shape at the end. I feel like we’re playing better baseball. Our pitching has been pretty consistent and they give us a chance to win ballgames. We’re headed in the right direction. It’s disappointing today, but we have another game tomorrow so we can’t get too down. We’ll keep grinding away.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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