The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees pregame: Kuroda takes the day shift06.19.13

Hiroki KurodaWelcome to a long day/night of baseball. Hiroki Kuroda will start for the Yankees in the opener of the doubleheader against the Dodgers and Phil Hughes will take the night shift. Kuroda is 7-2 with a 2.18 ERA in his 12 day starts with the Yankees these two seasons, tied for the top winning percentage in the AL (.778).

“A lot of times when you have a little age on you, you prefer the first game instead of waiting around all day,” Joe Girardi said. “Hughesie seems to like to pitch a little better at night. So it actually works out pretty well.”

Kuroda went 7-12 with a 3.79 ERA in 26 games, including 25 starts, working on the day side for the Dodgers. And now he gets to go against his old team.

“What might help is this situation is a lot of the guys that are playing today weren’t teammates of his,” Girardi said. “They have a lot of new faces there.”

Girardi said he hadn’t spoken to Brian Cashman as yet about the Yankees’ plan for the outfielder they reportedly have acquired from the Astros, Fernando Martinez, the former Mets prospect who got hurt often and didn’t pan out. The Yankees do need outfield depth at Triple-A.

The tentative plan for new call-up Zoilo Almonte is to give the 24-year-old switch-hitting outfielder a start in the second game and probably one against a righty in the coming Tampa Bay series. He was batting .297 with 12 doubles, six homers and 36 RBI with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was batting .354 in 16 games this month, including 10 for 17 in his last four games. Almonte played all three outfield positions for the RailRiders.

“We really believe this kid is going to hit,” Girardi said. “At times, we really saw it in spring training. He struggled a little bit in spring training. Maybe it was the excitement of trying to make a team. But he has seemed to swing the bat pretty well down there, especially left-handed. He’s a guy that can play either left or right, which is helpful in this situation.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 62 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Kuroda survives again; Hafner keeps hitting05.01.13

Hiroki Kuroda somehow managed to last seven innings and 108 pitches after throwing 67 in the first three. He has great survival skills.

The 38-year-old righty stranded seven Astros in the first three innings.

“Today, like my last outing, my balance was off mechanically,” Kuroda said. “My release point was off, too.”

But Larry Rothschild made a suggestion — work from the stretch all the time. Kuroda doesn’t like doing that, but he followed what he was told. And he retired 14 of his last 15 batters. He ended up allowing no runs, four hits and four walks, and he fanned eight.  So after this 7-4 win, his April looked like this: six starts, 4-1, 2.25 ERA.

Travis Hafner’s April looked like this: .318, six homers, 17 RBI, 21 hits. The RBI and hit totals were his best in a calendar month since September 2007.

“I think swing-wise, it’s gotten a little more consistent as the season has gone on,” Hafner said. “It’s been great playing here. I’m really enjoying it.”

Joe Girardi is enjoying the view of his new 35-year-old DH: “You just see that his approach is good. He has been great in that four-hole for us. With all the people that we have out, he’s really done a good job in our lineup.”

Ichiro Suzuki is helping out in the lineup again. He went 3 for 5 and is batting .407 (11 for 27) in his last seven games. This run has boosted his average 68 points, from .200 to .268.

Eduardo Nunez started the night at .169, but he had three hits to move to .203. It marked his first multihit game since April 4. He had two doubles, one more than his extra-base hit total for the season coming in.

Mariano Rivera had his best April ever for saves, going 10 for 10 after getting the final out in this game. Does he really have to retire?

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 27 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Kuroda perseveres; Wells and Cano continue to hit04.25.13

Hiroki Kuroda didn’t look good the first two innings of this 5-3 win, three runs, six hits allowed.

“All I thought was just hang in there pitch by pitch and hopefully I would be able to overcome this adversity,” he said.

Who could have predicted Kuroda wouldn’t allow another run or hit to the Blue Jays over the next four innings of his six-inning outing?

“It says a lot because he didn’t really have a whole lot tonight,” Joe Girardi said. “… He didn’t have his sinker. He didn’t have his good off speed for the most part. He seemed to find his slider at the end of the third and found a way to gut it through six innings without giving up any more runs after the second. … This might be his best performance of the year.”

Vernon Wells continues to perform against his old team as well as against Mark Buehrle. Wells launched the comeback with a solo shot over the center-field fence in the second.  He’s now batting .480 (24 for 50) with three homers lifetime vs. Buehrle and .421 (8 for 19) with three homers vs. the Blue Jays this season. He’s at .293 with six homers and 10 RBI in 19 games with the Yankees.

“Vernon’s a good player,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Always has been. He’s got new life going over there. He’s a very intelligent guy and you know he’s motivated. Something about playing in Yankee Stadium for the Yankees. This place brings out the best in people or you hear about it if you don’t.”

Robinson Cano hit the go-ahead three-run homer. He’s streaking, now batting .391 (25 for 64) with six doubles, seven homers, 17 RBI and 13 runs scored over his last 15 games.

“This is probably as good as he’s started that I can really remember,” Girardi said.

Something strange happened in the seventh. Ben Francisco was called out on a throw to first, but the umpires met and reversed the call. Gibbons got ejected after arguing the decision.

“… They said he bobbled it,” Gibbons said, talking about first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. “My big concern was that there was no appeal by the other side.”

Jeff Kellogg, the second base umpire and crew chief, said: “My sense (was) the ball was resting on the ground and his glove was around the top of the ball. … Our thought process is we’re going to try to get the plays right.”

The reversal/hit raised Francisco’s average to .103 (3 for 29).

Jayson Nix went 2 for 3, his third multihit game in the last five and fourth overall. He also turned in golden glove work at third.

Francisco Cervelli hit his third homer, one short of his career high from two years ago.

The Yankees are now 11-5 after the 1-4 start.

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 54 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Cano No. 2; Kuroda still a ?04.04.13

Brian Heyman here joining the season in progress.

So Robinson Cano is batting second in the series finale against the Red Sox, after Brett Gardner and before Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner.

“Just to try to break up some of the left-handers we have,” Joe Girardi said. “We decided to take a look at this … just to try to make it not so easy on the other teams.”

Cano has seen the Red Sox play a shift. Girardi said it’s the first time he has seen it against him.

“Robby’s a guy who can hit the ball the other way,” Girardi said. “We’ll how it works it out.”

Hiroki Kuroda said he wouldn’t do any long-tossing today to test that bruised right middle finger, the one that got hit by the Shane Victorino line drive Tuesday night.

“I spoke to the trainer,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “He suggested I shouldn’t throw today so I can try to throw my bullpen tomorrow.”

Girardi said Kuroda is still scheduled to make his next start, and that’s Kuroda’s intent. But he also said he won’t know until after that bullpen session in Detroit.

“I have to say it doesn’t feel normal,” Kuroda said. “I feel a little discomfort.”

Mark Teixeira is still shooting for a May 1 return.

“I hope it’s a possibility,” Girardi said. “He’ll have to go through some spring training. … I don’t want to rush him.”

Tuesday night, Vernon Wells hit a three-run homer and had his first three-hit game since last Aug. 11 when he was with the Angels.

“He’s swinging the bat well,” Girardi said. “In left field, he looks comfortable. He looks like he’s relishing his time here.”

It’s only the third game, but Girardi thinks this is an important game after the Yankees dropped the first two of the season.

“I don’t think anyone wants it to go too far,” Girardi said.

David Aardsma was released. The reliever had been designated for assignment last Friday.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 87 Comments →

Video: Kuroda faces Gardner, Ichiro in batting practice02.21.13

In his first live batting practice of the spring, Hiroki Kuroda faced the Yankees major league outfield today. It’s far, far too early for this to mean much, but Kuroda was hit pretty hard at times.

“I heard he threw strikes,” Girardi said, kind of laughing. “They knew what was coming, I heard.”

Here’s some video of Kuroda facing Brett Gardner and then Ichiro Suzuki, his first two hitters.

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 12 Comments →

Kuroda official11.20.12

The Yankees confirmed the signing of Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year deal. It’s for $15 million, plus under $1 million in incentives, according to ESPN.

Here’s Kuroda’s statement:

“I am very happy and excited to re-sign with the Yankees. I am very grateful for all of the interest and all of the offers that I received from the various teams that courted me. It was a tough decision for me to make, but at the end of the day, I wanted to try to win a championship with the teammates that I went to battle with last season.”

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 68 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Star Wars costumes and Nunez’s defense09.23.12

The Yankees were enjoying rookie hazing day after this 5-4 loss to the A’s. The rookies were given Star Wars clothes to wear. So there was David Phelps as Princess Leia and Melky Mesa as Darth Vader (Where was that black helmet and robe Saturday when Mesa could’ve used to hide his identity after that baserunning blunder in his debut?). Even the new assistant trainer, Mark Littlefield, had to wear a costume. He got stuck with the hairy Chewbacca.

“Every time you guys see Princess Leia, this is what you’ll think of,” Phelps said, posing for pictures.

Eduardo Nunez was the one who could have used the mask and full body costume on this day. But like Mesa the day before, he stood in front of his locker and faced the crowd. Nunez made two more errors at short, including a throwing error in the sixth that led to the decisive run.

“It happens,” said Nunez, who also had a ball pop out of his hand and back in, causing a late throw in the seventh, his seventh error in 33 games. “Everybody has a bad day. You’ve got to keep pushing, keep playing hard.

“I know I have to keep practicing my defense. Everybody knows that.”

My thought is you can’t risk the potential for these type of mistakes with 10 games to go and just a one-game lead in the division, although Jeter did make an error at short Wednesday in the second game of the doubleheader sweep vs. Toronto. Girardi hasn’t been playing Jeter every day at short due to the bruised ankle, using him as the DH when he isn’t in the field. Girardi still sounded concerned about a potential misstep, causing a setback. Jeter didn’t sound worried.

Jayson Nix is another option at short.

“Those are decisions we’ll have to make,” Girardi said.

Girardi, at least publicly, wouldn’t say he’s down on Nunez’s defense, the reason he got sent to the minors in May.

“For the most part, he’s done a real good job,” Girardi said, adding that he just needs more experience.

Girardi likes what the fast-moving Nunez brings overall.

“He give us excitement out there,” Girardi said.

Hiroki Kuroda was charged with five runs, four earned, seven hits, three walks and two wild pitches in 5 2/3. His September numbers? Now 2-1 with a 5.63 ERA in four starts.

So the Yankees’ seven-game winning streak is over. They finished the homestand 7-2. And they finished the season series against the A’s 5-5.

The Yankees go on the road for seven now, starting tonight in Minnesota.

Andy Pettitte gets the start. He’s down for 85-90 pitches after throwing 75 pitches in his strong return start, but Girardi also said he might be willing to push that total against the Twins.

“I feel great,” Pettitte said. “I hope being my second start back, the body feels really good.”

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 136 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Small ball/long ball; Nunez runs wild09.16.12

Alex Rodriguez called the Yankees’ five-run third “one of the best offensive innings we’ve had all year.” There were three hits, three walks, one homer (the three-run shot by Russell Martin), one error, one wild pitch and two steals, plus a Nick Swisher sacrifice.

“We get small ball and Bronx ball going back and forth, it’s going to be a lot of fun for us,” Swisher said. “A little Swisher-ism.”

Eduardo Nunez may be an adventure in the field sometimes, but he does have his value, especially in the small-ball game.

“I think I can run a little bit,” Nunez said.

He led off the big rally by working out a full-count walk. The following inning, he led off again and reached on an error before stealing second and third and scoring on an A-Rod sac fly in the fourth. His speed gives the Yankees an ability to create runs that they had been lacking without Brett Gardner.

“He changes the game offensively for us,” Rodriguez said about Nunez. “He has a unique package where he has power, speed and he has enough recklessness where it’s really helpful for our lineup.”

Martin has finally perked up in this lineup. His average is up to all of .209 after a 10-game stretch in which he has batted .343 with three homers and 11 RBI.

“The laws of averages, they’re on my side right now,” Martin said. “I just feel like I’m seeing the ball well.”

Joe Girardi saw Derek Jeter, the DH for the fourth straight game, still limping a little on the bases thanks to the bone bruise in his left ankle.

“I think it’s still hurt,” Girardi said. “I don’t see him as the shortstop yet right now as we speak.”

Girardi said he will see how Jeter feels on Tuesday following the off day. Jeter is one hit away from his eighth 200-hit year and his first since 2009, impressive at age 37/38 this season.

Hiroki Kuroda got some run support, which hasn’t always been the story of his season. He gave up four runs and four hits over six, with three runs coming in the sixth, two on a bad-hop single by Evan Longoria. Kuroda is 14-10 with a 3.26 ERA.

“With that kind of run support, I wanted to go deep in the game … but I hit that bump in the sixth inning,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “That’s the only regret I have.”

The Yankees have won two in a row, four of five, five of seven and seven of 11.

“We talked about playing better baseball,” Girardi said. “We starting to do that.”

“I think September is going to be the biggest blessing in disguise for us,” Alex Rodriguez said. “This is the kind of baseball we’re going to have to play to win in October. And the other thing is, these are playoff-caliber games. We’re stepping up to the occasion a little bit.”

 

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 61 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Nunez at short again09.16.12

Brian Heyman here for Chad again for this series finale against the Rays. Eduardo Nunez is starting at short in place of Derek Jeter for the fourth straight game. Jeter is the DH for the fourth straight game due to the bone bruise in his left ankle.

Nunez has played in 28 games over his two stints here this season, and he has made five errors. His defense got him sent to the minors in May. His error on Friday night, when he let an easy grounder scoot under his glove, allowed Tampa Bay to score an insurance run in the ninth. But Joe Girardi indicated he has been happy with Nunez’s defense at short while filling in for Jeter. Nunez has been back since Sept. 1.

“He played well down there (in Triple-A),” Girardi said. “He’s made some really good plays here, some balls that aren’t easy in the hole, and he shows his strong arm and his range. There are balls that he’s going to get to that maybe some other guys won’t.”

Girardi said he hasn’t considered lifting Nunez for defense late in games with a lead. That could dent his confidence.

“I think that plays some role,” Girardi said, “but I think it’s the way he’s playing that’s more important.”

Girardi thinks Nunez is more comfortable at short than earlier in the season when he was in more of a utility role.

“He was all over the place,” Girardi said. “We had him at second, short, third, left. I don’t know if we put him in right. (They did, although he didn’t start out there). We asked him to do a lot of different things. For a young kid that’s only really played one position for most of his career, I think it’s easier.”

Girardi also said Nunez may be considered for some DH work when Jeter is ready to return to the field. Nunez, who’s batting .308 in 65 at-bats, homered off James Shields in Saturday’s 5-3 win.

Hiroki Kuroda will start today. The Yankees are averaging just four runs a game in his 29 starts, the third-lowest run support average in the AL for pitchers with at least 29 starts. But it’s been worse over his last 10 outings. They have averaged only 3.07 runs for him. So Kuroda should be better than 13-10 with a 3.17 ERA.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 11 Comments →

Yankees postgame: All hail King Felix08.04.12

Felix Hernandez was the story, dominating the Yankees in this 1-0 game, firing the two-hitter.

“He had everything,” Joe Girardi said. “He had all four of his pitches; a couple of different fastballs where he cut it and he sank it. His changeup was outstanding. He was never in any bad counts. You look up and he averaged about a ball per hitter and a couple of strikes per hitter. So it’s not like we were hitting the first strike we were seeing. He just didn’t give us anything to hit.”

He allowed just four baserunners, and no hits after the third inning. Hernandez didn’t give up a hit against his final 22 batters. He fanned six and walked two.

“I told him it was probably the most impressive start that I’ve ever seen as a manager,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.

The Yankees were kept off balance.

“That changeup, it defies science,” Seattle shortstop Brendan Ryan said.

“All his pitches have movement,” catcher John Jaso said. “All really have late movement.”

Hiroki Kuroda deserves to be better than 10-8. His ERA is 3.19. This was his 14th start out of 22 allowing two runs or less and his ninth allowing one earned run or less. He gave up one run and seven hits in 6 1/3. He had his daytime scoreless streak snapped at 31 innings, the longest in the majors in 14 years. This was his first loss in five daytime starts. He just couldn’t quite keep up with King Felix, who’s now 10-5 with a 2.63 ERA after his third shutout of the season. He’s 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA over his last 10 starts. And he’s 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA in his five career starts at the new Stadium.

“Obviously he’s a great pitcher,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “I just wanted to minimize my damage. … It’s a little bit frustrating, but it is what it is.”

Ichiro Suzuki has the longest hitting streak for a Yankee starting his career after an in-season trade, now at 11 games. But he hasn’t managed any multihit games.

The Yankees lost their streak of 21 straight home games with a homer.

They are 3-5 on the homestand with one to go. Sunday’s pitching matchup features Freddy Garcia and Hisashi Iwakuma.

 

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 126 Comments →

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