The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees postgame: In praise of Tanaka06.17.14

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka struck out 10 and gave up one run and five hits in six innings, and the only run came on the first pitch of the game.

 

Yet Tanaka wasn’t pleased with what he brought to the mound. So it was a tribute to him that he did what he did against the heavy-hitting Blue Jays in this 3-1 victory.

“Overall I think my stuff wasn’t really there tonight,” Tanaka said. “All I was trying to do was trying to hang in there and try to keep the ball down as much as possible.”

He’s 11-1, now the major-league leader in wins. His ERA is an AL-best 1.99. The Yankees are 12-2 in his 14 starts, and all have been quality starts. It’s the longest active streak in the majors. He’s one of two pitchers in major-league history to have a streak like this to begin his career. Tanaka is also 5-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last five starts.

“What he’s done has been remarkable,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s been a big part of our success.”

The Yankees cut Toronto’s lead to 3 1/2 games with the victory, Girardi’s 600th as Yankees manager. He’s just the sixth in franchise history to reach the milestone.

“It means I’ve been fortunate,” Girardi said. “I’ve been blessed. I’ve had a great opportunity with some really good teams.”

Brett Gardner, who hit a two-run homer, is batting .333 with four homers and 12 RBI in his last 15 games at Yankee Stadium

Derek Jeter, who went 2 for 4, is batting .444 over his last seven games.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 30 Comments →

Game 69: Yankees (35-33) vs. Blue Jays (41-30)06.17.14

Yankees lineup

1. Brett Gardner LF

2. Derek Jeter SS

3. Jacoby Ellsbury CF

4. Mark Teixeira 1B

5. Brian McCann C

6. Carlos Beltran DH

7. Ichiro Suzuki RF

8. Brian Roberts 2B

9. Kelly Johnson 3B

Masahiro Tanaka RHP

 

Blue Jays lineup

1. Jose Reyes SS

2. Melky Cabrera LF

3. Jose Bautista RF

4. Edwin Encarnacion 1B

5. Brett Lawrie 3B

6. Dioner Navarro C

7. Juan Francisco DH

8. Munenori Kawasaki 2B

9. Anthony Gose CF

Marcus Stroman RHP

 

Umpires: Jordan Baker HP, Gabe Morales 1B, Jerry Meals 2B, Chris Conroy 3B

Weather: Clear, 85 degrees

TV/Radio in NY area: MY 9/WFAN 660 AM, 101.9 FM

 

Tanaka time: Masahiro Tanaka is tied for the major-league lead in wins with 10 and leads in ERA and is third in the majors at 2.02. All 13 of his starts have been quality starts, the longest streak right now in the majors.

Milestone waiting: The next win by the Yankees will be Joe Girardi’s 600th as their manager.

Who says I’m old? Nine days from his 40th birthday, Derek Jeter is batting .435 (10 for 23) and has a .462 on-base percentage over his last six games. He enters at .271 overall.

 

Update, 7:13: Reyes homers to right on Tanaka’s first pitch. Jays lead the majors in homers, now 93. Reyes’ 20th career leadoff homer.

Update, 7:33: Yankees go down 1-2-3 against Stroman in the first.

Update, 7:43: Tanaka has four Ks after his first two innings.

Update, 7:49: Yankees no hits in the first two innings, just a Beltran walk in the second.

Update, 8:03: Tanaka hasn’t been exceptionally sharp, six baserunners in three innings. But he has allowed just the one run. Got out of a first-and-second, one-out problem in the third. He has five strikeouts.

Update, 8:13: Gardner two-run HR, 2-1 Yankees in the third. No. 6 for Gardner. Career high was 8 last year.

Update, 8:33: Seven baserunners and seven Ks through four for Jays vs. Tanaka. He is impressive in general and especially with men on base.

Update, 8:40: Lefty Aaron Loup warming for the Jays after a leadoff walk to Beltran in the fourth.

Update, 8:47: First and second for the Yankees with two outs, and John Gibbons pulls Stroman for lefty Aaron Loup with Gardner due up. Still 2-1 Yankees.

Update, 8:51: Gardner grounds out.

Update, 9:01: Tanaka 10 Ks and he has only pitched five innings. Struck out the side in the fifth. Fifth double-digit strikeout game in 14 starts. High of 11 Ks (so far).

Update, 9:12: Teixeira RBI single, 3-1.

Update, 9:17: On to the sixth. Today is the anniversary of Ron Guidry’s club-record 18-strikeout game against the Angels.

Update, 9:26: Blue Jays don’t strike out in the sixth, first no-K inning for Tanaka. He’s at 104 pitches. Todd Redmond on to pitch for the Jays. Betances warming up.

Update, 9:37: Tanaka out, Betances on for the seventh. Tanaka allowed one run, five hits and two walks and he hit one. Plus he fanned 10. If the Yankees hang on, he will become the sole MLB wins leader with 11.

Update, 9:40: Betances has a 1-2-3 seventh.

Update, 9:57: Two hitless innings for Betances with three Ks. So the Blue Jays have struck out 13 times so far. Sergio Santos on to pitch the eighth for them.

Update, 10:19: Yankees win 3-1.

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 303 Comments →

Yankees postgame: CC struggles again05.04.14

CC SabathiaThe Yankees need CC Sabathia to pitch well, but he hasn’t been overly trustworthy this season, just like last season when he owned that career-worst 4.78 ERA.

His ERA through seven starts stands at 5.75, which goes with a 3-4 record.

“I think last year I got down on myself and made myself miserable,” Sabathia said. “This year, I’m going to stay positive. … I know I can get these guys out.”

He had trouble with that in the 5-1 loss to the Rays Sunday, giving up the five runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3. He heard the boos coming off.

“I would’ve booed myself today, too,” Sabathia said. “I wouldn’t want to come to the ballpark and watch that.”

It was his shortest outing since 2009.

“I still think he’s evolving into a different type of pitcher,” Joe Girardi said, “but today he didn’t have his normal type of stuff.”

Hiroki Kuroda is 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in six starts. Then there are the injuries to Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda.

“Is it a concern? Sure,” Larry Rothschild said. “But I think Kuroda and CC have a chance to get things going here.”

Alfredo Aceves pitched well in long relief, allowing no runs and three hits over the final 5 1/3.

“He did a heck of a job today,” Girardi said. “He saved our bullpen.”

Aceves had a problem in the fifth in the right thigh area.

“The doctor checked it out and said it was OK,” Aceves said.

Alfonso Soriano had a double and now needs just three hits to become the seventh with 1,000 hits in the AL and the NL.

Derek Jeter went 0 for 4 in the game and 4 for 30 on the homestand. His average fell to .240. But he said he feels good.

“When you’re an older player, any time you go through a slump, the age thing is going to be brought up,” Girardi said. “… We have to get him back on track.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 165 Comments →

Yankees pregame: “He’s a better player than even what I thought.”05.04.14

Jacoby EllsburyLet’s just say Jacoby Ellsbury has made a good first impression with the Yankees.

Besides the defense in center, the import from Boston is batting . 346 with 10 doubles, two triples, a homer, 14 RBI and 10 steals in 12 tries. He leads the AL with at least three hits in six games and has 11 multihit games. He’s 7 for 10 with two walks and two steals in this series.

Joe Girardi is enjoying the view every day as opposed to the occasional view from playing against the Red Sox.

“I think you see everything that he does on a daily basis as opposed to maybe seeing a great catch or a great jump on a ball in the outfield maybe once in a three-game series,” Girardi said. “But you get a chance to see him every day and what he’s capable of doing. He’s a better player than even what I thought.”

John Ryan Murphy is starting behind the plate to give Brian McCann a breather. Murphy is batting .313 with a homer and three RBI through his first seven games played after taking over the backup job for the injured Francesco Cervelli. Murphy has earned trust defensively as well.

“It really started last year when he came up in September, the job that he did for us behind home plate,” Girardi said. “Never seeing a young catcher get rattled is fairly unusual in a sense. … When I watch him back there, he’s calm. He knows exactly what he wants to do. He does the things that he needs to do. He frames pitches. He blocks pitches. He throws well. I think he calls a good game. He’s a real student of the game. And he puts up good at-bats. So it gave us a lot of confidence moving forward.

“When the season started, our plan was for him to go play every day and continue to get more at-bats and more reps under his belt. But with the injury to Cervi, that plan changed. It wasn’t that we didn’t think he was a big-league catcher when spring training broke. But we didn’t want him necessarily catching once every five or six days. We wanted to continue in his development. But that has to take place here now.”

Girardi said it’s “possible” Brendan Ryan could join the team Monday in Anaheim from his rehab assignment.

“I don’t think he needs much more,” Girardi said.

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 71 Comments →

Girardi hits 1,00005.02.14

Joe GirardiThis is a rather tough to place to work, even with owners who throw many millions around to solve problems for you.

But Joe Girardi has lasted for 999 games as the Yankees’ manager. Friday night against the Rays, he hits 1,000.

“It just tells me I’ve been fortunate in my life to have this opportunity to be here for that long,” Girardi said, “to be around an organization that does everything in its power to win and be around players that give you effort every day.”

Girardi will become only the seventh active manager to work at least 1,000 games with his current team. When he reaches No. 1,000, he will have the top winning percentage among those active managers. In a run that began in 2008, he’s at .580 (579-420).

He will be fifth in percentage among the six Yankees managers with at least 1,000 games to their credit, standing behind Joe McCarthy (.627), Casey Stengel (.623), Joe Torre (.605) and Miller Huggins (.597). Ralph Houk finished at .539.

Hiroki Kuroda and the offense didn’t help Girardi’s winning percentage Thursday night. Here’s a link to my story on what went on in that 4-2 loss to the Mariners. Michael Pineda isn’t exactly in a great mood after his latest setback. Here’s a link my story on his downward spiral the last few weeks. And I spoke with David Phelps about taking over for Pineda in the rotation. Here’s my feature story on Phelps that’s running now on Lohud.com.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 172 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Kuroda, offense in search of consistency05.01.14

Hiroki KurodaHiroki Kuroda gave up four runs, three of them earned, and seven hits in the first four innings, then turned in two 1-2-3 innings. He wasn’t great overall, but he wasn’t terrible like in his last start. He was mediocre.

Or as Joe Girardi put it: “He didn’t pitch horribly tonight.”

This 4-2 loss to the Mariners was progress. Girardi called it “a step in the right direction.” But it wasn’t good enough when the other starter was throwing so well.

Kuroda said via an interpreter that his “breaking balls are not working. That is leading me to struggle.”

His record is now 2-3. His ERA fell from 5.28 to 5.14.

“When things are going well, you tend to become more aggressive and just go after the hitters,” Kuroda said. “But when you’re not, you, in a sense, try to do too much with your location and that leads to a bad count, which turns into a bad cycle.”

Roenis Elias was in a good cycle. The 25-year-old lefty from Cuba looked sharp in just his sixth major-league start and first against the Yankees, staring down any sense of pressure.

“Coming into Yankee Stadium or coming off of a boat? The young man is tough,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.

Elias struck out a career-high 10 and gave up two runs, only one of them earned, six hits and two walks in seven innings.

“I thought he used his fastball and his curveball really effectively,” Girardi said. “Pretty good stuff by the young man.”

Derek Jeter said: “He was better than us today.”

There are several hitters here who really haven’t found their way yet. The Yankees have scored four runs or less in each of the last five games.

“Obviously the consistency of the offense is important for us,” Girardi said.  “I believe it’s going to get better as the year goes on. But right now we’re struggling to score runs, and every team goes through that.”

Robinson Cano didn’t let the constant booing get to him in these two games. He had a double and two RBI in this one.

“You have to understand the fans, but it is not going to be a distraction for me,” Cano said.

“Both days felt good because both days we won so it has to feel good,” he added.

The Yankees are 2-3 on this now eight-game homestand. They were swept by the Mariners for the first time since May 2002 when Seattle took all three games in a series at the old Yankee Stadium.

Now the Rays come in for three. Friday night, the pitching matchup is Vidal Nuno and David Price.

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

 

 

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 85 Comments →

Yankees pregame: “He’s down. He’s frustrated.”05.01.14

Derek Jeter, Michael PinedaFirst the suspension, now the injury.

Michael Pineda strained that upper back muscle — it looked like it was near the right shoulder from where he was pointing this afternoon — and he did it throwing a pitch in a simulated game Tuesday.

“When I threw it … it was tight,” Pineda said in his first comments since the injury. “I threw two more pitches. I felt a little tight.”

He also said: “I’m coming back soon.”

But he has been shut down for 10 days. Joe Girardi said three or four weeks was a fair estimate of when he should be back pitching for the Yankees. The manager has spoken to Pineda.

“He’s down,” Girardi said. “He’s frustrated. But the good part of it is, if you’re going to have an injury as a pitcher, a lot of times it’s your elbow or your shoulder. It’s really neither. This will heal and he’ll get back out there.”

But between the 10-game suspension for pine tar use and the injury, it lessens concern over Pineda’s innings limit for the season.

“It’s not the way we wanted to do it, but it’s another way you can look at it,” Girardi said.

David Phelps will take Pineda’s place in the rotation. Phelps said he was frustrated that last night’s rainout KO’d his scheduled start and caused him to get skipped. He likes being a starter. The Yankees tried to stretch him out Wednesday, having him throw a simulated game inside of about 80 pitches.

“I think he did a pretty good job as a starter when he’s filled in,” Girardi said. “That’s what I expect him to do, do a good job.”

Two-fifths of the rotation is injured, with Pineda and Ivan Nova, who made an appearance in the clubhouse before the game in the wake of Tuesday’s Tommy John surgery.

In light of those injuries, Girardi said about the starters: “We need everyone to carry their own weight. That’s the big thing.”

Jacoby Ellsbury sat out Tuesday night’s series opener with a sore left hand, then got a day off thanks to the rain. Now he’s back in the lineup for this series finale against the Mariners.

“It was a little swollen,” Ellsbury said. “I iced it up. I was ready to go the day before. … I’m not really concerned about it.”

Robinson Cano is batting .387 in his current eight-game hitting streak. He went 1 for 5 with an RBI in Tuesday night’s boo-fest.

“It’s kind of strange to see him come up in a different uniform,” Girardi said. “It’s probably going to be that way for a little bit of time. Usually the only time I would see him coming toward me is when he was scoring a run, coming around third base. But to see him walk from the on-deck circle on the other side was really strange.

“I have a lot of respect for what Robbie’s done in this game. We know he’s a very dangerous hitter. So we need to make our pitches on him or he’s going to hurt us.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 34 Comments →

Nuno’s big chance04.26.14

Vidal NunoIt was just three years ago when Vidal Nuno was a Washington Wild Thing, pitching in the independent Frontier League, a former 48th-round pick that the Indians had given up on after two minor-league seasons.

He made six starts, going 2-3 with a 2.83 ERA. His best Wild Thing memory?

“Pretty much the atmosphere and the teammates,” Nuno said. “They trying to strive to play affiliated ball.”

Nuno, of course, made it back to affiliated ball when the Yankees signed him out of that league in June of 2011. Now he’s getting the first shot at replacing Ivan Nova in the rotation.

His chance begins this afternoon against the Angels, a team he has never faced.

“It’s an opportunity,” Nuno said. “Trying to pitch every five days is a dream come true. But now it’s back to business and trying to help the team win.”

The 26-year-old lefty is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his four starts for the Yankees these last two seasons.

“I think it’s a big stretch for him and for our club, trying to solidify that role,” Joe Girardi said.

Here’s a link to my feature story on Nuno on LoHud.com today. Also, here’s my story on Hiroki Kuroda and last night’s Yankees debacle. And here’s a link to my Yankees notebook with items on Derek Jeter and the adjusted transfer rule, David Phelps/Michael Pineda and Brendan Ryan.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 141 Comments →

Yankees postgame: Tanaka not satisfied04.10.14

Masahiro TanakaMasahiro Tanaka is now the second Yankees pitcher and the first since 1915 to strike out at least eight in his first two major-league starts. This time, he fanned 10. So after two starts, he owns 18 Ks and one walk in 14 innings.

But he worked in and out of trouble three times in this 5-4 loss to the Orioles and served up a three-run homer to Jonathan Schoop on the way to a no-decision, leaving him displeased.

“I thought I was able to battle,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. “But I put runners on and gave up a home run to the ninth batter. That I can’t do.”

Still, you can see he has the kind of stuff to get out of jams. His splitter bailed him out in the third and the fifth.

“He made some pitches when he had to,” Joe Girardi said. “I thought he threw the ball good.”

Tanaka, though, has allowed three runs by the end of the second inning in both of his starts before firing off five scoreless innings each time. Not time to call it a trend yet.

“Obviously that’s something I need to adjust, but it’s hard to make an assessment after two games,” he said.

Tanaka also said there was no problem making the transition to four days’ rest after usually pitching once a week in Japan. He came out after 101 pitches, but he has  thrown a lot more back home. He said he probably could have gone longer.

“But I understand it’s only four days in between and it’s a long season,” Tanaka said. “So I’m going by what the team tells me to do.”

The Yankees starters’ streak of five straight games without issuing a walk came to end when Tanaka gave out his one free pass in the third. It was the team’s longest streak since 2002.

Shawn Kelley lamented not being able to put batters away in the ninth, giving up three two-strike hits.

“I thought they did a pretty good job getting the barrel to some of those pitches,” Kelley said.

Now the Red Sox come in for four. I’ll have Jacoby Ellsbury’s thoughts on facing his old team in the morning post.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 29 Comments →

Yankees pregame: Who’s on first? The catcher04.08.14

Francisco Cervelli, David RobertsonGreetings, Brian Heyman back with you. It’s been a while. I’m here at Yankee Stadium today, tomorrow and Friday. Chad’s Ironman streak is over. I lost count of his consecutive-day record. Even Ripken eventually took a day off.

Here’s a guy who is on duty today as well: Meet your new Yankees first baseman, Francisco Cervelli. At least for the start of this game with lefty Wei-Yin Chen going for the Orioles.

So when was the last time the backup catcher played first? He said he was 15. But he has worked out at first occasionally.

“If I’ve got to pitch, I’ll go, too,” Cervelli said. “It’s not like I feel like I’m Mark Teixeira, but I think I’m going to be comfortable with more games. I think it’s like every other position. If I feel I’m not going to catch the ball, I’m going to block it.”

Sounds like a catcher playing first base. Joe Girardi called this move “low risk.”

“I really believe he can do it,” Girardi said. “I do. We’re going to find out.”

Girardi said the reward, if it works out, is “more flexibility during the course of the season. We don’t anticipate Tex being out very long, but you never know.”

Why no Brian McCann at first?

“I’ve seen Cervelli take ground balls and I like what I’ve seen,” Girardi said. “I’ve never seen Brian McCann take a ground ball.”

Girardi said Shawn Kelley will probably get much of the closing opportunities with David Robertson now officially on the DL with his groin strain. But Girardi also said Kelley will probably not be available today. If that’s the case, who would close if need be?

“That a good question?” Girardi said. “Let’s see where they are in the lineup.”

Robertson has been replaced on the roster by Cesar Cabral, up from Triple-A. The lefty had  a strong spring training.

“We’re seeing some pretty tough left-handed hitters this week, and we feel he can help us,” Girardi said.

Photo by The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith 84 Comments →

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