Postgame notes: Missed opportunities • 09.30.10
Javier Vazquez seemed to realize the weight of tonight’s game. He knew what it meant for the team, and he knew what it meant for himself. Tonight was a chance for the Yankees to take the lead in the American League East, and it was a chance for Vazquez to make one last case for the postseason roster.
Vazquez accomplished neither.
“Obviously today didn’t help,” he said. “I thought today was an important day for me personally, but it didn’t go well.”
The Yankees need some help if they’re going to win the division, but as Derek Jeter said, all the help in the world does no good if the Yankees don’t win their games. Vazquez didn’t give them much of a chance to win tonight. Spot-starting so that Andy Pettitte could be lined up for the playoffs, Vazquez allowed seven runs on 10 hits, three of them home runs.
“If I would have thrown the ball better, that would have helped my case. That’s not the case tonight,” he said. “I just got hit. I had nothing. I didn’t feel like my pitches were sharp at all today. They just hit me good.”
And that’s not good for Vazquez. The Yankees have room for at least one long man in their postseason bullpen, and they have a long line of candidates. Dustin Moseley pitched well two nights ago, Sergio Mitre pitched a hitless inning tonight, Ivan Nova has been the team’s No. 5 starter, and Chad Gaudin has clearly won some of Girardi’s trust in the past month.
Then there’s Vazquez, who has struggled since the all-star break.
“I wish I knew the answer because I felt great those couple of months that I pitched well,” he said. “I just didn’t get it done late. I wish I knew.”
• Girardi said he will try to give Vazquez an inning of relief on Sunday. As you would expect, Girardi said he has not ruled out carrying Vazquez in the postseason.
• The Yankees haven’t always rallied to win, but they’ve regularly come back to get themselves into ball games. Tonight they did that with their three-run sixth, which ended on Nick Swisher’s bases-loaded double play. “You feel like you’re going to get right back in the game,” Girardi said. “Swish hit it right on the barrel of the bat, he just hit it right to the second baseman.”
• Alex Rodriguez has reached 30 home runs, which seemed impossible not so long ago. No. 30 came off Brett Cecil to start that sixth inning. Rodriguez has 13 consecutive 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons, which is the longest such streak of all time.
• Rodriguez has a total of 14 30-and-100 seasons, which ties Barry Bonds for the most all-time.
• Marcus Thames went 1-for-4 tonight and in 11 games against Toronto this season, he hit .441 with three home runs and seven RBI.
• Jazquez has now gone without a strikeout in two of his past three outings. Before that, he had a strikeout in 349 consecutive games.
• Three more hits from Francisco Cervelli who seems to have rediscovered some of that early season magic.
• Two more hits from Derek Jeter who’s hitting .316 in his past 18 games.
• If Greg Golson is trying to make an impression to make the postseason roster, I’m sure an RBI single didn’t hurt his chances. Ultimately, though, he didn’t have many chances to show of his arm or his speed, and those are his best assets in the playoffs.
Associated Press photos of Vazquez and Jeter
Game 159: Yankees at Blue Jays • 09.29.10
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Austin Kearns LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Greg Golson CF
RHP Javier Vazquez (10-9, 5.07)
Vazquez vs. Blue Jays
BLUE JAYS (81-76)
Travis Snider LF
Yunel Escobar SS
Jose Bautista RF
Vernon Wells CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
Adam Lind DH
John Buck C
John McDonald 3B
LHP Brett Cecil (14-7, 4.20)
Cecil vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 7:07 p.m. / YES Network
UMPIRES: HP Jeff Kellog, 1B Larry Vanover, 2B Jeff Nelson, 3B Mark Carlson
WEATHER: The roof is actually open right now and it feels nice. A little chilly, but not too bad. This place is infinitely better when it’s open.
SEE YOU IN OCTOBER: The Yankees have secured their 49th postseason berth, the most of any franchise. This will be their 15th playoff appearance in the past 16 years. Tuesday was the latest the Yankees had clinched a spot since 2005, when they clinched on October 1.
HITS ARE OVERRATED: Last night the Yankees scored six runs without a single RBI hit. According to Elias, they are the second time to score six or more runs without a hit this season. The Mets did it against Florida in April. The biggest difference between the Yankees and the Mets: The Yankees won their game, the Mets lost theirs.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE: CC Sabathia’s win last night marked the 11th time in the past 20 years that a major league pitcher recorded 21 wins with a winning percentage of .750 or better and an ERA below 3.20. Eight of the previous 10 pitchers to do it won the Cy Young. The only exceptions were Curt Schilling in 2001 and Mike Hampton in 1999.
UPDATE, 7:38 p.m.: Starting a little late after the Cito Gaston tribute. The Blue Jays, by the way, have drawn mustaches on themselves in honor of their manager. It’s pretty hilarious.
UPDATE, 8:05 p.m.: Here’s Vazquez for his second inning of work after a rocky first inning that could have been much worse than one run. Before the game, Girardi said Vazquez could pitch his way onto the postseason roster. I have to think he could also pitch his way off it.
UPDATE, 8:11 p.m.: Two innings. Two Blue Jays home runs. It’s a 2-0 Toronto lead.
UPDATE, 8:34 p.m.: Double play gets Vazquez out of the third inning — one that started with a crazy catch by Joe Carter of all people — and it’s 3-0 Blue Jays. Vazquez has thrown 50 pitches.
UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: Another run for Vazquez. The Yankees have had Albaladejo up in the bullpen. With a day off tomorrow, I wonder if they would pull Javy after just four innings. It’s already 4-0.
UPDATE, 9:25 p.m.: Alex Rodriguez just hit his 30th home run of the season, and the guy who caught it threw it back. The home run extended Rodriguez’s record of 14 seasons with at least 30 homers and 100 RBI. I’m not sure the ball was worth a ton, but it was probably worth something, and the guy who caught it must have been kicking himself when he saw the Blue Jays throw the ball into the Yankees dugout for safe keeping.
Meanwhile, the internet has been very hit-and-miss tonight, but Javier Vazquez might have thrown his last pitch of the season. He left after a three-run home run in the fifth. It’s now 7-1 Blue Jays.
UPDATE, 10:13 p.m.: Joba Chamberlain allowed an unearned run in the seventh and it’s now 8-3 Blue Jays. Rodriguez made his first error since July 17.
Postgame notes: Two words • 09.29.10
All around him there was champagne flying and Labatt Blue pouring, and in the middle of that chaos, Nick Swisher summed up the Yankees night.
“Two words,” he said. “Cy Young.”
CC Sabathia was everything for the Yankees tonight. Joe Girardi called him tremendous. Alex Rodriguez called him a dream. Mark Teixeira called him dominant.
“That’s what we needed,” Derek Jeter said. “CC’s pretty much been doing that the whole year. We needed him to step up for a big game and he came through for us. You couldn’t ask for anything more.”
The Yankees left nothing to chance tonight. They sent Sabathia to the mound, started every one of their regulars and used Mariano Rivera for the final two outs. This was the night to clinch, and the Yankees got it done without an RBI hit.
“Tonight we did some things we hadn’t been doing the past three weeks,” Rodriguez said.
They advanced runners and scored every one that got to third base with fewer than two outs. The lineup wasn’t overwhelming. It was simply efficient. Sabathia handled the overwhelming part: 8.1 innings, three hits, one run, eight strikeouts. It was his 21st win.
Afterward, Girardi said the Yankees haven’t finalized many plans for the postseason. He announced only one playoff decision: Sabathia will pitch Game 1.
“That,” he said, “you can bank on.”
Here’s Sabathia speaking in a predictably rowdy clubhouse.
• Andy Pettitte will not start tomorrow. Javier Vazquez will. Pettitte said he only knows he’ll be pitching in Boston. He doesn’t know which game.
• It’s pretty obvious Sabathia will not start Sunday in Boston. “If you’re pitching on Wednesday, you can’t really start this weekend,” Girardi said. Whether Sabathia will pitch an inning or two out of the bullpen remains unknown. Same for Phil Hughes.
• Girardi made it clear he will rest some players these final four games. “I have to make sure our guys are strong,” he said. “I still want our division and I still want home field advantage, but I can see there are some tired bodies out there.”
• The players, of course, want to play. “We’ve got Thursday off don’t we,” Jeter said. Rodriguez, Swisher and Teixeira all said they were hoping to keep pushing through to the end, but I can only imagine the regret if a key player were hurt.
• Having blown a save in three of his past six outings, Mariano Rivera got the final two outs on six pitches. “We felt better about it,” Girardi said. “We’ll continue to make sure, but you usually don’t forget how to hit in a couple of months, you don’t forget how to pitch either.” I’m pretty sure Girardi meant weeks, not months.
• Sabathia said his offspeed stuff was especially good tonight, and he was happy with his ability to pitch to both sides of the plate. That’s about as in depth as Sabathia gets in a group setting. Bottom line, he was impressive when the Yankees needed him to be. “I feel like I need to keep the other team at bay every time out,” he said.
• The celebration wasn’t as wild as any of last year’s postseason celebrations, but the first-timers — and Swisher — seemed to especially enjoy it. “There are no freebees so I think you can’t say you’re too cool for this first step,” Rodriguez said.
• Even the guys who had been there time and time again seemed to enjoy another sure-thing trip to the postseason. “Always a relief when you get into the playoffs, I don’t care what year it is,” Jeter said. “… This is a celebration of a 162-game schedule, not just the last two weeks. I think the team deserves to celebrate.”
• Think this year’s team is as good as last year’s? “I really do,” Pettitte said. “We’ve got pretty much the same team. I feel good about our bullpen. Obviously when you’ve got CC leading our rotation you’ve got to feel good about that. How could you not? I feel good about what we’re doing, I really do. I don’t think anybody wants to face our lineup.”
• Pettitte was happy to have his start pushed back. He said it’s better for him to get extra rest now and pitch on normal rest in the division series. “That definitely works out a lot better for sure,” he said.
• Rodriguez was one of the last guys any of the writers spotted in the clubhouse. Romulo Sanchez and Andrew Brackman were drenched, but Rodriguez was almost completely dry. “Nobody messes with the old guys any more,” he said. “It’s all about the young guys.”
Associated Press photos. The top is Jeter getting doused. Next is Brett Gardner scoring and Sabathia pitching.
When CC Sabathia walked off the mound tonight, he wasn’t yelling at home plate umpire Andy Fletcher, but he was certainly having a conversation. Sabathia’s last pitch had been a bases-loaded walk that brought in the go-ahead run, and Sabathia wanted to know where it missed. It seemed even he couldn’t believe what had just happened.
“I thought it was a tough pitch,” he said. “But I went and looked at it and he made the right call. It was a ball.”
The Yankees took a two-run lead into the sixth inning, and had Sabathia on the mound. That’s usually a pretty good situation for the Yankees, but Sabathia just wasn’t good in that inning. His night fell apart in a big way, and the Yankees fell with him.
Joe Girardi pointed to the at-bats that came after the infield single that drove in the first run — “He started getting into long counts and that’s when he got into trouble,” Girardi said — but Sabathia didn’t seem happy about any part of that inning. The fact he walked the No. 9 hitter to let the Rays take the lead pretty much tells the story.
“Tonight I definitely felt bad because these guys battled and scratched some runs across, and I’m supposed to be able to go out there and put up some zeroes. I wasn’t able to do that in the sixth… I feel like I kind of deflated the team at that point.”
Here’s the bulk of Sabathia’s postgame. It was absolutely a case of not having a lot to ask the guy. He knew what happened. We knew what happened. There wasn’t much to be said.
• Even more bizarre than Sabathia walking in a run? How about Javier Vazquez hitting three batters in a row, two of them with curveballs. It was in his first inning of work, and Vazquez was trying to prepare himself. “Coming in from the pen, I started the inning from the stretch,” he said. “That’s something that coming from the pen I was trying to work on, just working from the stretch every time out. After that I went to the windup again.”
• Girardi’s take on Vazquez: “Very uncharacteristic of Javy to have control problems like that. In all the years, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Javy like that. Just strange.” After that, Vazquez actually settled in and pitched pretty well.
• Vazquez is the first Yankee ever to hit three consecutive batters, and he’s the eighth major leaguer to do it. Jeff Weaver did it most recently with the Dodgers in 2004.
• The Yankees had the bases loaded in the fifth and again in the sixth. In the end. Might have been a different game if they’d taken advantage of either situation.
• Sabathia hasn’t been especially sharp in his two starts since that eight scoreless innings battle against David Price in Tampa Bay. Has Girardi seen any lasting impact from that game? “I know he threw about 120 pitches that game in Tampa, but not necessarily, no,” Girardi said. For what it’s worth, Sabathia said he physically felt good, just had a bad night.
• Jorge Posada was high on Sabathia. “I thought he did everything possible to give us the win,” Posada said.
• The big hit of the game was B.J. Upton’s double off Joba Chamberlain, who said he was trying to get Upton to roll over a fastball and hit the ball on the ground.
• Doubled checked with Brett Gardner after the game. He’s fine. Just got a day off against a lefty.
• Speaking of that day off, big day for his replacement Greg Golson who doubled off Price in the fifth inning and finished 2-for-4. Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano also had two hits.
• Derek Jeter has a 12-game hitting streak.
• Mark Teixeira was hitless in his last 19 at-bats before his third-inning double.
Associated Press photos of Sabathia on the mound and Marcus Thames with Cano
Who’s next in the Yankees bullpen? • 09.22.10
Joe Girardi has clearly found comfort in his late-inning relievers.
Since the all-star break, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and and Dave Robertson have earned Girardi trust. Mariano Rivera earned that trust a long time, and Kerry Wood has been as reliable as anyone on the staff since coming over at the trade deadline. Those are Girardi’s go-to guys, and they’ll remain his go-to guys in the playoffs.
But there is value in bullpen depth, and right now it’s hard to say who the Yankees sixth reliever would be in the playoffs, much less the seventh. Last year, Girardi used seven different relievers more than once in the ALCS. He used six different relievers more than once — and eight relievers overall — in the World Series. And that was with a schedule that let the Yankees use only three starters.
It could be that Girardi already has a good idea who he wants to carry in the postseason, but if he’s still trying to decide, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence in the past few weeks.
• Javier Vazquez, a big offseason addition who was looking like a reliable starter at the all-star break, pitched last night for the first time in 11 days.
• Sergio Mitre, who has a .205 opponents average as a reliever this season, has thrown six pitches since September 5.
• Dustin Moseley, who was a regular starter for more than a month, had a pretty good spot start last Sunday and hasn’t pitched since.
• Royce Ring, the team’s only option as a second lefty in the bullpen, hasn’t pitched since joining the team last week in Tampa Bay.
• Jonathan Albaladejo, who was positively dominant in Triple-A this season, has hardly gotten a look at any point this season. Ditto Romulo Sanchez.
• Chad Gaudin, who actually has become something of a go-to guy lately, went through all of June and July pitching only once when a game was within three runs. And that was in the 14th inning.
Associated Press photo of Chamberlain
Pregame notes: Five-man rotation in place • 09.15.10
Andy Pettitte is ready to be a major league starter again, and with that, the Yankees have a five-man rotation. As long as Pettitte comes through Thursday’s side session with no problems, he’ll start Sunday’s series finale in Baltimore.
“I want to see him go out there,” Joe Girardi said. “And I want to see how he feels after his side. Right now all indications are that he feels good, which is really important. It would be frustrating if he didn’t, for him and for all of us, but I want to see him go out there Sunday and see how sharp he is.”
CC Sabathia will pitch on regular rest Saturday — tomorrow’s off day will not give him an extra day — and that’s a decision, Girardi said, is at least partially based on next week’s four-game series at home against the Rays. Using Sabathia on Saturday instead of Sunday means he’ll pitch the last game of that Rays series, once again matching up against David Price, who is also staying on regular rest for Tampa Bay.
Girardi said the Yankees haven’t mapped out the rotation beyond Sunday, but he plans to stick with Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. That means Javier Vazquez and Dustin Moseley will be moved back to the bullpen.
As for lining up his starters for a playoff rotation: “I won’t do that until we know exactly that we’re in the playoffs,” Girardi said.
• Nick Swisher is probably not available to pinch hit tonight — “I don’t think so,” Girardi said — but he does feel significantly better after yesterday’s cortisone shot. “I can’t give you a time table because I don’t know,” he said. “This is all on a pain basis. Once that gets out of there, once we get that last bit of inflammation that’s in there, just get everything intact. I’d rather be playing at 100 percent than 50.”
• Brett Gardner was told to take another day off. The Yankees are thinking he could be back to 100 percent after taking yesterday, today and tomorrow off. “I think I could swing,” Gardner said. “It feels a lot better today. I feel good about how it feels and expect to be playing on Friday.”
• Brian Cashman has confirmed that the Yankees could put Royce Ring on the playoff roster if they wanted to. That’s because of the loophole that lets him replace an injured pitcher, in this case Damaso Marte. It’s the same way the Yankees got Freddy Guzman on last year’s playoff roster, essentially for Xavier Nady.
• Speaking of Ring, he was home in San Diego taking his baby to a six-month checkup when he got the call. He got on a 6:20 flight, slept on the plane, and arrived at the ballpark at about 4 p.m.
• Right now the Yankees rotation has back-to-back lefties. “You do like to split them up when you can,” Girardi said. “But right now I’m not worried about that.”
• Girardi on Phil Hughes facing the Rays: “Command is important and changing speeds is important against this club. If you stick with strictly fastballs, this club will hurt you.”
• Pretty good line from Swisher about Jorge Posada’s monster home run last night, which landed on the roof of a restaurant in center field: “You don’t see many dudes going on top of that. I would have liked to have seen if that would have hit our restaurant. You’ve got to be a grown man to go up there, boys.”
Associated Press photos of Pettitte and Posada
Game 141: Yankees at Rangers • 09.10.10
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Austin Kearns LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brett Gardner CF
RHP Javier Vazquez (10-9, 5.01)
Vazquez vs. Rangers
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
David Murphy LF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
Mitch Moreland 1B
Bengie Molina C
Julio Borbon CF
LHP C.J. Wilson (14-6, 3.10)
Wilson vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 8:05 p.m. / YES Network
UMPIRES: HP Dale Scott, 1B Ted Barrett, 2B Alfronso Marquez, 3B Dan Iassogna
WEATHER: Temperature right around 90 degrees for first pitch, dipping into the mid to low-80s during the game. A few clouds overhead, but nothing to be concerned about. Wind is blowing out to left field.
GREAT AFTER EIGHT: The Yankees walk-off win on Wednesday was the team’s fifth win when trailing after eight innings. According to Elias, that ties Detroit and Toronto for the most such wins this season.
ANOTHER LEFTY: The Yankees face lefty C.J. Wilson tonight. They are 19-8 in their past 27 games against left-handed starting pitchers. They’re hitting .271 against lefties this season, the second-highest vLHP average in the American League behind Detroit. Their 56 homers are the most off left-handers by any team in the big leagues.
1 TO 11: Javier Vazquez needs one win to reach 11 for the season. This would be his 10th 11-win season, putting him in a group with Andy Pettitte (15), Jamie Moyer (15), Tim Hudson (11), CC Sabathia (10) and Tim Wakefield (10) as the only active pitchers with double-digit 11-win seasons.
UPDATE, 8:47 p.m.: Bases loaded, Brett Gardner went down swinging to end the second inning. C.J. Wilson’s command hasn’t been great, but he was able to get out of that jam without a run.
UPDATE, 8:55 p.m.: Amazing thing is how long it took the Yankees infield to realize Kinsler had been called safe on that steal attempt. He looked out by a foot from the press box, and the replay made it look like more like a foot and a half.
UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: The blown call has cost the Yankees a run, and now it’s 1-0 Rangers.
UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: Have I mentioned that they hate Alex Rodriguez in this stadium? A-Rod just doubled in two runs to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the third.
UPDATE, 9:16 p.m.: Three straight two-out singles by Thames, Kearns and Cervelli have pushed the Yankees lead to 4-1 still in the third.
UPDATE, 9:19 p.m.: Trenton just wrapped up it’s first-round sweep, meaning the Yankees are assured of having an affiliate playing on Tuesday for Andy Pettitte’s next rehab start. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lost today — a 1-0 game, wasting a good start from Kei Igawa — and now need to win two in a row to stay alive.
UPDATE, 9:27 p.m.: The Yankees have chased Wilson from the game after three innings. Here comes Matt Harrison.
UPDATE, 9:32 p.m.: Well I was positive Swisher’s ball was out of the park. Positive. I was also wrong. Pretty nice catch by Borbon, who covers a lot of ground out there in center.
UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: Borbon got a ball just past Mark Teixeira for a two-run double that has pulled the Rangers within 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth. A walk and a hit batter didn’t help matters. Vazquez had retired seven straight before a one-out walk started this rally.
UPDATE, 10:24 p.m: A bases-loaded walk gave the Yankees an extra run, but Alex Rodriguez struck out with the bases loaded to end the sixth and leave the Yankees in front 5-3.
UPDATE, 10:40 p.m.: Borbon’s fourth RBI of the night — a career high — has pulled the Rangers within 5-4.
UPDATE, 10:41 p.m: Robertson let one inherited runner score, but it’s hard to fault a guy who just got three outs without letting the ball leave the infield.
UPDATE, 11:00 p.m.: Kerry Wood in to pitch the seventh. Does that mean Phil Hughes is going to pitch the eighth?
UPDATE, 11:07 p.m.: After a 1-2-3 seventh for Wood, Chamberlain is up in the bullpen.
UPDATE, 11:28 p.m.: First pitch from Chamberlain is a solo home run by Nelson Cruz. We’re tied in the eighth. From my friend Marc Carig, the last time Chamberlain pitched in the eighth inning with a one-run lead, he coughed up a grand slam to Jose Lopez.
UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.: Phil Hughes warming for the Yankees. He’ll pitch the ninth. Girardi said before the game that if Hughes gets loose, he’ll almost certainly come into the game. It would be interesting to see him do that if the Yankees actually take the lead here.
UPDATE, 11:58 p.m.: Looks like Hughes remembers how to do this relief thing.
UPDATE, 12:22 a.m.: Bryan Hoch has all you need to know about the powers of Mariano Rivera. Hoch and Rivera were sitting together on a morning flight to Dallas.
UPDATE, 12:51 a.m.: Tying run at third — thanks to Chad Moeller of all people — but Derek Jeter grounded to first and Colin Curtis went down swinging. Now it’s Chad Gaudin in to pitch the bottom of the 12th.
UPDATE, 1:03 a.m.: The Rangers have established a new club record for pitchers used in a game. Scott Feldman is No. 11.
UPDATE, 1:06 a.m.: Infield single by Rodriguez, clean single to right by Cano and now Jorge Posada is up with runners at the corners and one out in the 13th.
UPDATE, 1:13 a.m.: Chad Moeller gave the Yankees a chance to take the lead earlier in this game. Now he’s up with the bases loaded in the 13th.
UPDATE, 1:16 a.m.: Moeller flied to center and we’re still tied. Still Gaudin on the mound.
Pregame notes: Posada available to pinch hit • 09.10.10
Even when had a mild headache and some trouble sleeping Tuesday night, Jorge Posada never believed he had a concussion. He’s had concussions before — three of them, the said — and this never felt like a concussion.
“It’s not like I haven’t experienced it before,” he said. “You get the headaches. You get a little foggy and stuff. I haven’t felt like that this time… I didn’t experience anything different from a normal headache.”
Gene Monahan, though, has diagnosed Posada with a very mild concussion. Not enough to cause significant concern, but enough that the Yankees don’t want to risk him taking another foul ball to the head in the next 48 hours. For now, Posada is available to pinch hit. If he hits, though, he won’t stay in the game to catch. The Yankees are all too aware of what’s happened with Justin Morneau and Jason Bay this season.
“Right now we’re probably looking at a couple of days (off) and then possibly catching him on Sunday,” Joe Girardi said. “Our concern is if he gets hit again, do we lose him for an extended period of time?”
Girardi said it’s more likely Posada would get hit by a foul tip than a wild pitch — Girardi was knocking on wood when he said it — which is why the Yankees feel OK with him at the plate, but not behind it. Posada said he could catch if necessary. The Yankees don’t want to take that chance.
• The Yankees plan to have Andy Pettitte make another rehab start on Tuesday. They haven’t announced a team he’ll be pitching for, but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre would open the championship round at home on that day. Tampa would also play at home that day if their series goes five games. Trenton would be on the road.
• If every minor league affiliate is eliminated before Tuesday, the Yankees would have two choices: Have Pettitte throw a sim game or put him in a big league game. “I would lean probably more toward a simulated game now that I’m thinking about it, but my mind could change,” Girardi said. “I would like to get his pitch count up a little more and have him feel more comfortable.”
• Pettitte would be cleared for five innings or 80 pitches in his next rehab start.
• Phil Hughes is available out of the Yankees bullpen tonight. “Tonight and tonight only from what I understand,” Hughes said. If he doesn’t get in the game, Hughes will throw an extended bullpen tomorrow. If he does get in the game, Girardi said it will be to start an inning and he will not under any circumstances pitch more than one inning.
• Girardi on what was different the last time Javier Vazquez started compared to his strong outings out of the bullpen: “He just didn’t have quite the same command. His fastball was coming back a little bit. His fastball was much truer in his bullpen outings than it was the other day (as a starter).”
• Elvis Andrus is back in the lineup for the Rangers, his first game since Saturday. He’s been out with a hamstring injury. The Rangers also have Ian Kinsler back at second base. He was out the last time the Yankees were here.
Elvis Andrus SS
David Murphy LF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
Mitch Moreland 1B
Bengie Molina C
Julio Borbon CF
Associated Press photos of Posada and Pettitte
Pitching matchups in Texas • 09.10.10
RHP Javier Vazquez (10-9, 5.01)
LHP C.J. Wilson (14-6, 3.10)
8:05 p.m., YES Network
RHP A.J. Burnett (10-13, 5.15)
RHP Tommy Hunter (12-3, 3.99)
8:05 p.m., YES Network / MLB Network
RHP Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.83)
LHP Cliff Lee (10-8, 3.37)
3:05 p.m., YES Network / TBS
Because of a sore lower back, Cliff Lee hasn’t pitched since August 31. He was 1-4 with a 6.35 ERA in August… Josh Hamilton remains day-to-day because of sore ribs… Shortstop Elvis Andrus has been dealing with a sore hamstring and sat out the Rangers previous series in Toronto.
Associated Press photo of Vazquez with Jorge Posada
Familiar questions resurfaced this afternoon, but the Yankees seem to have moved on to bigger and better things. The questions are the same — Will there there be even more changes to the rotation? Should there be? — but the questions seem less pressing when the team has won eight in a row.
The lineup is producing, and that’s obviously crucial, but the Yankees bullpen has been just as important, making up for many of the rotation’s inconsistencies.
“The guys are fired up,” Mariano Rivera said. “There are ready to go. It doesn’t matter the situation. They’re just happy to be there.”
Since July 27, the Yankees bullpen has a 1.57 ERA with 98 strikeouts and a .183 opponents batting average. That’s more than a month of dominance, during a span when the rotation was in flux. Rivera has been his old self, Boone Logan has been a revelation and both David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain have clearly picked up their games since shaky beginnings to the season.
But it seems little coincidence that this run of success coincides almost perfectly with Kerry Wood’s arrival. He gave the Yankees another hitless inning this afternoon and has allowed just one earned run in 16 innings since coming over from Cleveland.
“Our scouts had filled us in,” Joe Girardi said. “We had seen him a little bit this year. I was somewhat familiar. I watched tapes of him. I think until you actually see him on a daily basis you’re not going to know exactly what he has… He seems to be getting better and better for us.”
Here’s Girardi’s postgame.
Speaking of Girardi’s postgame: He spoke quite a bit about today’s fifth-inning bullpen decision.
On his decision to turn to Dustin Moseley over Javier Vazquez with the lead on the line, when just three days ago he had decided he’d rather have Vazquez as his starter: “I was going with the fresh arm. That’s why I made the decision.”
On his decision to use Moseley instead of Boone Logan to face left-handed hitter Lyle Overbay: “Nope (never considered Logan). There’s a guy also behind Overbay that crushes left-handers.”
That guy behind Overbay was John Buck, who ultimately made the final out of the inning. Also of note about the Overbay decision: Overbay was 1-for-4 in his career against Logan, 0-for-7 against Moseley. His left-right splits are minimal this season.
• Turns out Austin Kearns is out with a thumb injury, which helps explain how Marcus Thames wound up playing the field. “(Kearns) took some extra BP and bruised it a little bit,” Girardi said. “He’s day-to-day. I asked him after yesterday, are you feeling OK. He said it’s a little sore so I decided to give him a day off. We’ll see how he is tomorrow.”
• Thames knew what to expect when he went to the plate in the seventh. “Slider,” he said. “They threw me all sliders all day. The first one (of the at-bat) I got out in front of it a little bit. I knew he was going to throw me one so I sat slider on the next pitch and didn’t miss that one.”
• Speaking of home run sliders, both Blue Jays home runs were on mistake sliders from Vazquez.
• And speaking of Thames, the Yankees should have Alex Rodriguez back tomorrow, and Lance Berkman is hitting pretty well lately, but Girardi said he’ll find ways to keep Thames and his hot bat in the lineup. “Oh, we’ll find at-bats for Marcus,” he said, and it was definitive.
• Jose Bautista took great exception and was ejected for arguing a called strike three against Joba Chamberlain in the seventh. “I thought it was a good pitch,” Chamberlain said, with a smile. “That’s what we were going for.”
• The Yankees are now 19-6 in their past 25 games against left-handed starters. They’ve won eight of their past nine against lefties.
• After his two-run double in the third inning, Robinson Cano is hitting .600 with three doubles, two home runs and 23 RBI in 15 bases-loaded at-bats.
• Francisco Cervelli is hitting .600 in his past three games. Today was the first two-double game of his career.
• Brett Gardner has walked in his past nine games in which he’s had a plate appearance. According to Elias, that’s the longest such streak by a Yankee since Jason Giambi in 2006 (also nine games). Elias also made a note that Gardner has now tied five others for the longest such streak in the majors this season.
• Since making those mechanical changes in Texas, Curtis Granderson is hitting .414 with three doubles and two home runs against lefties.
• Chamberlain got his second win of the year, and his first since May 14 in Minnesota.
Associated Press photos of Cervelli, Vazquez and Thames