The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Yankees postgame: The streak is over07.26.14

Brian McCann

The Yankees had beaten the Blue Jays 17 straight times at Yankee Stadium. But the streak is now past tense after this 6-4 Toronto win, its first here since Aug. 29, 2012.

“When we have a tough year, usually around this place you’d see tire tracks on your neck,” John Gibbons said.

But the Jays are improved this year and finally weren’t run over in their fifth try here in 2014.

“Sometimes you need a screwup or something to help you win a game in a tough streak, and we got some of that,” Gibbons said.

Yes, they did. In the seventh inning, Brian McCann had a bad moment filling in for the injured Mark Teixeira at first base, failing to get an out on a ball hit to him by Dioner Navarro with runners at second and third and no outs in a 2-2 game. The catcher, making just his seventh start this season at first, looked at Melky Cabrera holding in place down the third-base line, then looked at first too late, then threw to second and couldn’t get Jose Bautista getting back to the bag.

“There are a lot of things he could do, but he’s extremely inexperienced over there,” Joe Girardi said.

“The game sped up on me,” McCann said. “I didn’t make the play. … The more experience I’ll get over there, the better decision making I’ll have.”

One out later, Matt Thornton came on and Dan Johnson hit an infield blooper between first and second. Brian Roberts couldn’t get to it, then couldn’t hold the ball in his glove after a tricky hop. The go-ahead run scored.

“Maybe it’s a play I’m supposed to make,” Roberts said. “I don’t know.”

The Yankees are going to have to remake their middle infield. Derek Jeter will be retiring, of course. Roberts hasn’t been too impressive offensively or defensively. They could use a steadier backup first baseman as well with Teixeira breaking down a lot.

Chris Capuano put a lot of runners on, but the 35-year-old lefty didn’t give up a lot of runs in his Yankees debut, allowing just two in six innings.

“I had a little nerves going in the beginning,” Capuano said. “… But I made some good pitches today when I had to and was just thrilled to be out there.”

Francisco Cervelli went 1 for 2, so he has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 starts, batting .405 in that stretch.

Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story about the day’s happenings and the end of the streak. And here’s my Yankees notebook with items on Capuano, Roberts’ defense and Teixeira’s status.

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

 

 

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Yankees pregame: State of the homestand (with two to go)07.26.14

Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian Roberts

The state of the homestand has been excellent, 7-1 with two games to go. Not the offense has steadily hummed. That has been a problem all season.

But the Yankees take a four-game winning streak into today’s game with the Blue Jays, and their last five wins have all featured comebacks.

“We’ve played good baseball,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ve had some timely hitting. We’ve pitched extremely well. You look at a lot of the scores, they’ve been fairly low-scoring games. Our bullpen has continued to do a good job. Our starters have done a good job. You look at (Hiroki Kuroda’s) night last night, he gives up three in the first and then he pretty much shut them down the rest of the game and gave us a chance to come back. I think that’s the important thing. We’ve been able to come back in some of the games.

“But it’s just I think our pitching has been really good. You look at this homestand and that’s one of the reasons we’ve won a lot of games.”

Chris Capuano will make his Yankees debut in this game. The 35-year-old lefty got stretched out over four starts in the Rockies’ system after relieving for the Red Sox before his July 1 release. Girardi said he could be used for about 100 pitches.

“This guy is a competitor,” Girardi said. “He knows what he’s doing out there.”

Mark Teixeira isn’t scheduled for baseball activities today. Girardi said Teixeira may try to test his back with tee and toss tomorrow and then the Yankees could decide whether he needs to be put him on the DL or will be good to go again very soon.

Brian Roberts owns a team-high 10 errors. The veteran second baseman has looked especially shaky in the field lately.

“He’s just going through some things that fielders probably go through,” Girardi said. “I don’t really have any concerns about it.”

The man Girardi replaced in this job, Joe Torre, is going into the Hall of Fame Sunday along with Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox.

“I think it’s great how they’re going in, the three of them together,” Girardi said. “You’re talking about three great managers who have had a ton of success. I had a chance to play for two of them (Torre and La Russa), which was really pretty neat for me, and be able to pick their brains as much as I did. So I feel really fortunate. But it’s three guys that are well deserving, not only who have been great managers but have been great men. I think when you talk to the players that have played for them, they would say they learned a lot and look up to them.

“I’ve always tried to keep a fairly even demeanor. I had that as a player, but I saw the important of it from Joe as a manager, how important it is to keep that even demeanor. There are days that you’re going to be happier than others, but you have to be the same guy every day. When I looked at Tony La Russa, it was just the preparation that he did in watching him. You talk about ideas that had validity and the way he used the bullpen. There’s a lot to learn from all these guys.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Cervelli stepping in and stepping up07.26.14

David Robertson, Francisco Cervelli

Francisco Cervelli has gotten a ticket to more playing time behind the plate thanks to the injuries to Mark Teixeira and Kelly Johnson. Brian McCann has been needed to fill the hole at first base, leaving Cervelli to catch.

He has started five straight games — his longest stretch since he caught 10 straight in May of 2010 — and has done fine. Cervelli has four doubles in the last three games. He has hit safely in nine of his past 10 starts, batting .400 (14 for 35) with six doubles and three RBI in those games. His hitting streak is at seven games.

Last year, he missed the final 140 games due to a fractured hand and his 50-game Biogenesis-related suspension. And then he missed 55 games after suffering a hamstring strain April 13. But he’s at .356 (16 for 45) since being reactivated June 17, which includes a 2-for-3 effort in Friday night’s 6-4 win over the Blue Jays.

“I just think as he has gotten more at-bats under his belt, he understands what people are trying to do to him and he understands what he needs to do,” Joe Girardi said. “Cervi’s biggest issue is — he had the concussion issue (in 2011) and … he broke the hand last year — getting nicked up.

“But when he’s played for us, he’s played really well. It’s a nice player to have on your team because he allows you to do a lot of things with (McCann). In a situation where we don’t have a first baseman, we can run Mac at first every day, and it’s worked out well.

“Cervi, it was tough when we lost him last year because he had started to take over that No. 1 spot and was playing extremely well and swinging the bat extremely well. But he’s just matured and understands what he needs to do.”

Here’s my story on last night’s victory and the Yankees’ domination of Mark Buehrle as well as the Jays when they come to the Bronx. And here’s my feature story on today’s starter Chris Capuano. He’s rather happy to be here and starting again.

Photo by The Associated Press.

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Yankees postgame: If only Buehrle could pitch against them every game07.25.14

Ichiro Suzuki, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Rob Drake

The Yankees — and Ichiro Suzuki — just own Mark Buehrle. Actually the Yankees own the Blue Jays here at Yankee Stadium.

This 6-4 win marked their 17th straight against the Jays in the Bronx, the fourth-longest home winning streak by one team against another since divisional play began in 1969. The Yankees have 26 of the last 28 here against Toronto since May 24, 2011.

And then there’s Buehrle. The 35-year-old lefty is 0-10 with a 7.34 ERA in his last 15 starts against the Yankees. He’s 1-12 overall in 19 starts against them. He hasn’t beaten them since April 10, 2004, and that was at the old Yankee Stadium.

Asked the reason for the dominance, Joe Girardi said, “It’s hard to say. He’s a really good pitcher.”

Ichiro, who’s now 25 for 60 lifetime vs. Buehrle, hit a three-run shot in the third to snap his 294 at-bat homerless streak dating to last August 30. Derek Jeter had been on his case with some friendly teasing.

“During batting practice, he always tells me, ‘Can’t leave. Can’t leave,’ which means the ball doesn’t leave the ballpark,” Ichiro said through his interpreter.

“For a Japanese person, it’s hard to hear the ‘t’ at the end. I think he said, ‘Can leave,’ ” Ichiro added jokingly.

Hiroki Kuroda struggled some, but he earned the win, allowing four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3. Girardi said he had trouble with command of his sinker.

“He just fought all night,” Girardi said.

Chase Headley went 3 for 4, so he’s at .429 (6 for 14) after four games with his new team.

Mark Teixeira didn’t do any baseball activity, according to Girardi, just ran and did rotational exercises. Girardi said he’s expected to do the same Saturday, and that it wasn’t “probably realistic” that Teixeira could return to the lineup Sunday.

The Yankees are 7-1 since the break, having won four in a row. Their last five wins have been of the comeback variety. They own the second wild card at the moment.

“It beats the alternative,” Girardi said. “But it really doesn’t mean a whole lot with 60 games to go.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yankees pregame: Capuano moves right in07.25.14

Chris Capuano

Joe Girardi announced that Chris Capuano is moving right into the rotation in the wake of yesterday’s deal with the Rockies. He will be starting tomorrow against the Blue Jays. Shane Greene will be pushed back a day. Chase Whitley is headed for the bullpen.

“That’s why we went and got Cap, to be a starter for us,” Girardi said. “And we’re obviously hopeful that he’ll do good things.”

Capuano did good things in April in relief for the Red Sox — he owned a 0.00 ERA in 11 outings — and then it started to go bad. The 35-year-old lefty had a 22.50 ERA across five June outings and got released on July 1, ultimately with a 1-1 record and 4.55 ERA. He signed with the Rockies organization three days later and made four starts combined in Double-A and Triple-A, going 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA.

Asked what he likes about Capuano, Girardi said, “Just the experience that he has, used to being a starter, used to logging a lot of innings, gives us a left-hander at our ballpark, which you like. It also allows to — Chase is really built up — put him in the bullpen to help us out there as a real long guy. It gives you more flexibility with (David) Huff. So it does a lot of things for us, actually.”

Capuano has a career record of 74-84 with a 4.28 ERA over 10 seasons and 266 games, 209 of them starts. He was also with the Diamondbacks in 2003, the Brewers from 2004-07 and again in 2010, the Mets in 2011 and the Dodgers in 2012 and 2013. He won 18 games in 2005, was an All-Star in 2006 and went 11-12 with the Mets in 2011. He has also been through Tommy John surgeries, the last one in 2008.

The Yankees designated righty Chris Leroux for assignment to make room. Mark Teixeira remains on the roster, at least for now, although he has been unavailable since Monday due to the strained lat in his back.

“I hope to be back in a few days,” Teixeira said. “… The spasms have really felt better. The actual strain itself is feeling better.”

But baseball activity will be more of a test.

“I would hate to put Tex on the DL and he’s ready after seven days or eight days or six,” Girardi said. “That’s what I don’t want to do. So as he does some activity over the next two days, we’ll have a much better idea where he’s at.”

Photo by The Associated Press.

 

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Yankees postgame: Team finally does its home work well07.20.14

Zack Cozart, Skip Schumaker

The Yankees know they need to be more rude to their guests in the second half. They have an AL-high 37 home games left. In the first half, they were just an 18-23 home team.

“We’re going to have to win at home,” Brian McCann said. “Our team is built for this ballpark. When we start to swing the bats better, we’re going to win more games.”

Now they’re 21-23 after this three-game sweep over the Reds to start a 10-game homestand out of the break.

“To be able to start off this way against a team that’s been playing well, that’s fighting for their division as well, I think it was real important,” Joe Girardi said.

Cincinnati put a bow on the sweep by giving the Yankees a gift run in the last of the ninth — McCann’s popup to shallow right that fell between three Reds and went for a single, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury from third to make it a 3-2 win.

“But I’ll take it, for sure,” McCann said.

“I thought I was under it and I was not,” first baseman Todd Frazier said.

Manager Bryan Price was looking at second baseman Skip Schumaker and right fielder Jay Bruce.

“Certainly I think it was a miscommunication in the sense that I’m sure Jay and Schumaker both thought the other was going to catch it,” Price said.

For all their rotation injuries, the Yankees’ starters are doing OK. They have given up three earned runs or less in each of their last eight games. They are 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in this stretch.

“Right now, these guys are getting it done for us,” Girardi said.

The only original starter left, Hiroki Kuroda, sure did in this start, allowing one unearned run and three hits in 6 2/3.

“He was awesome — again,” McCann said.

Dellin Betances wasn’t awesome for a change, surrendering the tying homer to Frazier in the eighth.

“I think we were all a little bit shocked when it happened,” Girardi said.

Betances said: “It was definitely frustrating, but I had faith that our team would come back.”

Ellsbury went 4 for 4, stole two bases and made a great catch in center.

“He showed all his tools today,” McCann said.

The Yankees finished interleague play at 13-7. Now injury-ravaged Texas comes in for four.

Photo by The Associated Press

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Yankees pregame: Haven’t we seen this before?07.20.14

Carlos BeltranJoe Girardi is going with the same lineup for the third straight day out of the break.

“This next week I’ll get some of the other guys into games here to keep everyone going,” Girardi said. “But you like to try to run the same lineup out there as much as you can.”

Will there come a day when Carlos Beltran will be in the lineup as the right fielder again instead of as the DH? He would need to start throwing again first.

“We’ve talked about that,” Girardi said. “That could probably start happening pretty soon here.”

With Beltran’s bone spur in the right elbow and the struggles and departure of Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki has taken on a larger role in right. This will be the 40-year-old’s 49th start out there. Ichiro is batting. 286 with no homers and 11 RBI in 83 games. He’s 0 for his last 16.

“He’s had a pretty decent year for us,” Girardi said. “He’s played a lot as of late. I know that I have to give him a day off every once in a while to keep him fresh. Even though he won’t say that, I think it’s important that that happens. But he’s been an everyday player for us.”

Michael Pineda has thrown one live batting practice session and Girardi thinks he will do that again.

“And then you might start seeing him, in a sense, throw a couple of innings, three innings, that sort of thing, depending on how that goes,” Girardi said.

“Sometimes we like to do sim games because it’s easier to build them up. It’s more controlled.”

This has been substandard home team this year. After beating the Reds in the first two games of this series, the Yankees are still only 20-23 at home.

“It’s going to take everyone in that clubhouse for us to play better at home,” Girardi said.

Photo by The Associated Press

 

 

 

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Jeter staying in play07.03.14

Derek Jeter

 

Derek Jeter is due for a day off one of these days.

“He’s going to get one here soon,” Joe Girardi said.

The 40-year-old Captain has played in 73 of the 83 games — starting 69 at short — following the injured-ravaged 2013 season that limited him to 17 games with the Yankees. He’s pow batting .271 with two homers and 20 RBI in his final season.

In the homestand-closing 6-3 loss to the Rays Wednesday, he went 0 for 5. But he had been at .338 over his previous 19 games, going 26 for 77 with four doubles, a homer and eight RBI. His on-base percentage had been .381 in that stretch. He stands four hits from 3,400.

It’s doesn’t figure that he will get a break during the All-Star break. Jeter has been leading the AL shortstop voting.

“As long as his body feels good and I feel that he’s moving around, I’m going to keep playing him,” Girardi said. “He’s done a really good job. He had the one little issue early on with the tight quad, but he’s really held up well.”

Jeter is staying optimistic despite the team’s struggles. The Yankees will take a season-high five-game losing streak into their game at Minnesota tonight. They have fallen below .500 at 41-42.

“Can’t change it,” Jeter said. “It’s over with now. It’s done with. We have a lot of games left. Anything that’s happened up until this point, you can forget about it. We need to play better. Talent doesn’t win games. You have to go out there and perform on the field. It doesn’t make a difference what kind of talent we have. We have to find ways to win games.”

ESPN is reporting that Yangervis Solarte is being sent down to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Zelous Wheeler.

Here’s my story on the Yankees becoming at losing team Wednesday and Masahiro Tanaka being on a losing streak, too, albeit a small one. And here’s my story on the latest A-Rod controversy.

Photo by The Associated Press

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Yankees postgame: Swept away by the Rays/Sabathia’s rehab start07.02.14

Brian McCann

 

Well, this series didn’t go too well for the Yankees. The last-place Rays have been playing better, but still …

The Yankees sure weren’t expecting to get swept by them. The 6-3 win gave Tampa Bay a season-high five-game winning streak and the Yankees a season-high five-game losing streak.

They are now a losing team for the first time since they were 5-6 on April 11. After nine losses in 11 games, they are 41-42 and 4 1/2 back of the Blue Jays.

“The talent is in that room,” Joe Girardi said. “We just need to play better. It’s a lot of different phases. You can look at almost every phase and say we need to play better. We’ve got to find a way to get it done.”

The run production is the most glaring phase right now. The Yankees had 10 hits. They left nine on base. The RISP count was an RIP count — 1 for 9.

“Obviously offense has been an issue,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “It’s been an issue all season. We’ve got to turn it around somehow. … It’s not for a lack of effort.”

Long indicated that Carlos Beltran (two singles) and Brian McCann (single, solo homer) appear to be making progress. McCann (seen in the photo above executing his home-run swing) eliminated a toe tap from his mechanics in this game, according to Long. Apparently it helped. McCann was happy to produce.

But as he put it, “When you lose, it’s irrevelent.”

The Yankees also finished a 15-game stretch against the AL East.

“It started off good and ended bad,” Girardi said.

It ended at 6-9.

“I thought you were going to say 2-13,” said Brett Gardner, who tied his career high with his eighth homer and is batting .288 overall after this three-hit game. “We just haven’t played good.”

So it’s on to 11 straight on the road before the All-Star break. It starts Thursday night in Minnesota.

“We’ve got to pick each other up,” Gardner said. “We’ve got to pitch better and we’ve got to hit better and find a way to give our pitchers the lead a lot more often.”

CC Sabathia made his second rehab start Wednesday night, this one at Trenton. The lefty threw 33 of his 55 pitches for strikes in 3 2/3 against Portland. He gave up five runs, three of them earned, five hits and one walk. He hit one batter and struck out two.

Alex Rodriguez is back in the news. Sports Illustrated has an excerpt from a new book claiming MLB gave A-Rod permission to use a PED – testosterone – through a therapeutic use exemption in his MVP season of 2007.

MLB countered with a statement:

“All decisions regarding whether a player shall receive a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) under the Joint Drug Program are made by the Independent Program Administrator (IPA) in consultation with outside medical experts, with no input by either the Office of the Commissioner or the Players Association.  The process is confidentially administered by the IPA, and MLB and the MLBPA are not even made aware of which players applied for TUEs.

“The TUE process under the Joint Drug Program is comparable to the process under the World Anti-Doping Code.  The standard for receiving a TUE for a medication listed as a performance-enhancing substance is stringent, with only a few such TUEs being issued each year by the IPA.  MLB and the MLBPA annually review the TUE process to make sure it meets the most up-to-date standards for the issuance of TUEs.

“As recommended by the Mitchell Report, since 2008 MLB and the MLBPA have publicly issued the IPA’s annual report, which documents how many TUEs were granted for each category of medication.  We believe this high level of transparency helps to ensure the proper operation of the TUE process.”

Photo by The Associated Press

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Yankees pregame: Teixeira, Ellsbury hurting07.02.14

Mark Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury aren’t in the lineup, and it isn’t just a typical day of rest.

Teixeira had his left knee drained after last night’s game. Joe Girardi said he expects him back for tomorrow night’s game in Minnesota.

“He’s been playing with a little fluid on it for a few days,” Girardi said.

Ellsbury isn’t feeling great in general, according to Girardi.

“Ells is just kind of beat up and needs a day off,” Girardi said. “He should be back in there tomorrow, too. He’s a little bit sore all over. So he needs a day. And a guy needs a day, he needs a day.”

The struggling offense loses the .288 bat and the speed of Ellsbury and its leading homer (15) and RBI (41) producer in Teixeira, but the Yankees still have to try to avoid a sweep by the Rays.

“It is what it is and someone else has got to come up with some big hits today,” Girardi said.

Girardi added this about the offense: “There’s no magic formula. Can I go, I don’t know, walk on my hands through the clubhouse? No, I can’t do that. It’s just continue to work and you keep throwing them out there. You try to give the guys that you believe are the most productive consistent at-bats and eventually it’s going to change.”

 

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