Pitching matchups in Minnesota • 07.24.15
Weekend series in Minneapolis begins with a familiar face, then moves on to two guys with ERAs below 3.40.
RHP Michael Pineda (9-6, 3.77)
RHP Phil Hughes (8-6, 4.15)
8:10 p.m., YES Network
LHP CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.25)
LHP Tommy Milone (5-2, 3.38)
7:10 p.m., WPIX
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (9-2, 4.43)
RHP Kyle Gibson (8-7, 3.19)
2:10 p.m., YES Network
Associated Press photo
This was my plan: Write a blog post about the fact that questions loom over basically every piece of the Yankees’ pitching staff.
After including five pitchers in my previous MVP post, there was really no sense in writing a first-half Cy Young post, so I thought looking at the looming uncertainty would be a good way to address the pitching staff. I came up with four categories and then found a way for most of the key pitchers to fit in one group or another.
But Michael Pineda, who I just picked as the most valuable pitcher on the staff, seemed to fit in every category.
• Health concerns? Obviously. He looks good and strong this season, but anyone who’s gone through three seasons of shoulder issues is going to carry some lingering health questions for a while. Those don’t go away with a healthy half season.
• The potential to be even better? Absolutely. Pineda’s been very good this season, but his 3.64 ERA is basically a full run higher than his 2.63 FIP. If he can string together his occasionally elite starts, he could be a real difference maker in the second half.
• Durability and sustainability concerns? Yep. Pineda could get better in the second half, or you could wither under the weight of his largest single-season workload. Pineda’s on pace to throw more innings than he’s ever thrown in a year, and he’s already thrown more innings than in any of his past three seasons.
• The potential to take on a larger role? Sure. Right now, it’s hard to say who truly leads this rotation. Is Pineda the ace or is Masahiro Tanaka the ace? Which one should get the ball in Game 1 of a playoff series? Pineda has a chance in the second half to take hold of that title and make himself the unquestioned No. 1 starter.
As for the rest of the staff, I’ll put the other key guys into these categories:
Obviously health is a concern for any pitcher, but that concern is especially magnified with Tanaka. We already know his elbow ligament was damaged last season, and he’s already missed a month this year because of a forearm strain and some soreness in his wrist. He’s pitched well, but his health is going to be a concern for a while. I’ll also put Miller in this category only because he’s already had one arm issue this season, and I think there’s always some concern that one arm issue could be a part of something more significant. There’s no real evidence that’s the case with Miller, I just think health is always a concern with someone who’s already coming back from an injury.
Two-fifths of the rotation fall into this category of needing to improve in the second half. Sabathia is the poster child for this issue. He’s been excellent against lefties, and has done a better job providing innings than most of his teammates, but Sabathia’s been awful against right-handed hitters — shockingly bad, actually — and his tendency to let outings get away has been well documented. As for Eovaldi, he gives up a ton of hits, but a lot of that has been relatively soft contact — opponents actually have a higher slugging percentage against Pineda — and he’s done a decent job of limiting damage. Needs to pitch deeper into games, though, and if he could put away a few more batters, that’d be nice, too.
Hard to have many complaints about what these four have done this season. Now the trick is to keep it going through the second half of the season. At this point, Betances is building a track record of this kind of success, but he’s still set the bar awfully high. Nova’s been good since returning from Tommy John, but coming back from surgery could leave him prone to inconsistency (and he was pretty inconsistent even before the injury). Warren has already pitched more innings than in either of the past two seasons, and Wilson’s trying to avoid a regression back to last year’s numbers. There’s little saying these guys can’t keep this pace, but the Yankees need them to actually do it.
Shreve might have already answered this question by stepping into the seventh inning role while Miller was hurt. He broke camp as basically the last guy in the bullpen, but now he’s pitched so well that the Yankees are clearly going to trust him with big outs from time to time. Mitchell really hasn’t had much opportunity to prove himself one way or another, but his arm is good enough to be curious about what he might do. For Capuano, the question is whether he can prove he’s good enough to keep around while Mitchell, Shreve and Warren are capable of multiple innings. I’ve also included two prospects who haven’t been called up yet, because their potential emergence — Severino especially — could make a difference down the stretch. To some extent, you could put guys like Nick Rumbelow, Branden Pinder and (if he gets healthy again) Jacob Lindgren into this group as well.
Associated Press photo
Postgame notes: “We want to see him play” • 07.10.15
The Yankees have either lost patience with Stephen Drew, or simply stopped wasting time with Rob Refsnyder.
After finishing off tonight’s win in Boston, Joe Girardi confirmed that Refsnyder will be called up and in the lineup tomorrow. He’ll play second base these last two games before the break.
“We want to see him play,” Girardi said.
Reports on Refsnyder’s defense?
“That he’s improved,” Girardi said. “We’ve heard that he’s improved and that he’s making strides and we’re going to find out.”
Just a two-day trial because the Red Sox are pitching a couple of lefties?
“That’s not our thinking,” Girardi said. “We knew we were facing a couple of lefties and figured we would do it now.”
Girardi did not fully commit to Refsnyder remaining with the Yankees beyond the All-Star break, but it certainly seems that’s the intention. Asked if Refsnyder would stick around these two games, Girardi initially said “yeah” before backing off and saying he’s not thinking beyond this weekend. Whether he said it or not, it’s clear the Yankees believe Refsnyder can be a significant piece of the roster, and it’s hard to imagine they’d bring up such a touted prospect for just two days or to play a limited role.
“He played well in spring training,” Girardi said. “It’s a young man that’s been on our radar, and we’ll see how he does.”
Refsnyder’s been red-hot lately — hitting .412 with two home runs in his past 10 games — and Drew remains a .182 hitter with the lowest batting average of any lineup regular in the majors. He has hit 12 home runs, the Yankees like his defense, and he has the fourth-most walks on the team. He’s been productive occasionally, but he’s also made a lot of outs along the way.
After tonight’s game, Girardi let Drew know about the Refsnyder call-up so that he wouldn’t be blindsided by questions.
“Hopefully, we’re here to win,” Drew said. “Whatever’s going to help us win, that’s what we’re going to do. So hopefully, he’ll come up, and I know how it is when you first get called up. It’s going to be fun for him, and hopefully in his first at-bat or whatnot, he can get a hit and add that first one. I remember mine. It took me nine at-bats. So hopefully he’ll adjust soon. I think he’s good. I saw him in spring training, he’s a great player and a good hitter, so looking forward to him being here with us.”
• Refsnyder will be the story of the day on Saturday. Tonight it was Michael Pineda, who delivered 6.2 strong innings for his ninth win of the season. “I’m very happy tonight,” Pineda said. “The last three years, I don’t take a (All-Star) break because I have injury. Tonight, I’m very happy with my last start in the first half. I’ll take my break. I’m very happy.”
• In his past three starts, Pineda has a 1.25 ERA with 24 strikeouts and one walk. “Just his consistency (stands out),” Girardi said. “How deep he’s going into games for us. The effectiveness of his slider. He continues to pound the zone. He’s pitching.”
• The Yankees have won 11 of Pineda’s 17 starts this season.
• Why take Pineda out after a manageable 89 pitches? “Betts had hit a home run,” Girardi said. “The time he’d seen him before, he’d hit him hard before too. So I just thought his slider was getting a little flat, and I just said, I’m going to make a change.”
• As for using Andrew Miller in a non-save situation, Girardi said he wanted to use Miller twice this series, but also didn’t want to use him back-to-back games before the All-Star break. That meant ideally using him tonight and Sunday. “We’re trying to get (the rust) off,” Girardi said. “Our plan is to use him two days here. I don’t know if I’ll use him tomorrow, but coming in we had thought that we probably wouldn’t use him back-to-back until we got back from the break. And if one guy gets on, you’re probably not going to mess around anyway.”
• Alex Rodriguez gave the Yankees an early lead with his first-inning home run. It was his 17th of the year, and the 26th of his career at Fenway, the most of all active visiting players. He is a career .448 hitter against Clay Buchholz. “Sometimes numbers can be deceiving,” Girardi said. “I can’t say I felt all that well up there. The key with Clay is to get a good pitch to hit. He has a number of ways of getting you out. … I just got a good pitch to hit and hit it well.”
• Buchholz left in the fourth inning because of tightness in his elbow. It felt like a bit of luck for the Yankees, because Buchholz has been pitching well lately. “But you’re not really setup for that with all the lefties they’ve got down there (in the bullpen),” Girardi said. “With all the leftes we have in the lineup you’re thinking, boy, this might work out to their advantage in a sense. Not taking anything away from Buchholz, but you can’t make moves too early when you’ve only got three guys on your bench. We took advantage of a couple mistakes.”
• Brett Gardner has a seven-game road hitting streak and has a hit in 10 consecutive games against the Red Sox. … Jacoby Ellsbury has hit safely in all three games since coming off the disabled list. … Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have now combined to strike out 121 of 288 batters faced this season.
• A foul line drive by Didi Gregorius struck a fan — she looked to be a fairly young woman, maybe even a young girl — and it was a pretty scary moment, with fans using their shirts to stop the bleeding. She was hit in the head. “There’s nothing I could do about it,” Gregorius said. “So I finished my at-bat, handed them my bat and obviously they said thank you and everything. There’s nothing else I can do right there. It’s always a little worry; obviously those fans have got to pay attention because there’s no screen over there. Every ballpark has their own way.”
• Final word goes to Rodriguez: “This group has a good feel to it. It’s a hardworking group, and it competes hard every night. I think the key for us finishing the first half and continuing strong in the second half, is to stay hungry and humble.”
Associated Press photos
What are we to make of Michael Pineda at this point?
After that 16-strikeout game, he looked like an obvious all-star and perhaps a legitimate ace. Masahiro Tanaka was hurt at the time, but it seemed the Yankees still had their true No. 1. Pineda was seven starts into his season, he’d won five of them, and his ERA was 2.72. He was healthy, and he was dominant.
In the seven starts since, he’s gone 3-4 with a 6.10 ERA.
“Well, nothing’s different,” Pineda said. “Sometimes you go to the mound and you don’t have a really good night and sometimes you have a good night, you know? This is the game. This is the baseball. … It’s very hard to have a game like that, but for me, I’m keeping my head up and continue to work and be ready for my next outing.”
So is there some chance that 16-strikeout game — with the season-high pitch count and whatever it took to rack up so many Ks — might have hurt Pineda in some way? Is that one game not simply the turning point, but the cause of his most recent trouble?
“It’s hard to tell,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “His last time out, he was as good as he was probably at any time. I don’t know that we can have the answer to that. I don’t think that’s the case, but there’s no way to know if it is or isn’t.”
What about getting all of that extra rest earlier this month? Pitching with a week-and-a-half of rest certainly didn’t do Pineda any favors this next time out. Was that a mistake?
“Obviously hindsight is real good,” Rothschild said. “But I think the first thing you have to do is ensure his health, otherwise nothing else matters. You look at it that we need him healthy the whole year. I think if we have him healthy the whole year you’ll see him pitch well. It’s not an easy thing to juggle it around.”
So the Yankees feel a need to limit Pineda’s workload, the see no definite connection to the 16-strikeout game, and Pineda says he feels good and strong even through bad nights like last night. At this point, it seems the Yankees know what Pineda is capable of doing, they’re simply not getting that level of performance on a nightly basis.
“It’s been kind of up and down, and that’s hard to figure out,” Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes they just go through stretches like that, the starters, and then they’ll reel off six or seven good ones in a row. You’ve got to make pitches every time you go out. That’s the bottom line. (Last night) he just didn’t.”
Associated Press photo
Pitching matchups vs. Phillies • 06.22.15
Right now, Wednesday’s game lines up to be Adam Warren’s turn on normal rest, but obviously the Yankees could change things around to have Ivan Nova start that game. With Nova added to the rotation, the Yankees could either move Warren to the bullpen or use a six-man rotation for one turn so that everyone gets an extra day off.
RHP Michael Pineda (8-3, 3.54)
RHP Kevin Correia (0-1, 1.69)
7:05 p.m., WPIX
LHP CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.31)
RHP Sean O’Sullivan (1-5, 4.79)
7:05 p.m., YES Network
LHP Cole Hamels (5-5, 2.69)
1:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network
Associated Press photo
Yesterday afternoon, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman stepped onto the field to watch a little bit of batting practice. While he was there, he talked to the media for a while. Nothing particularly new came out of it, but the GM did hit on a number of topics that really matter to this team right now, so here are a few highlights:
On the recovery of Jacoby Ellsbury
“We had a timetable. I don’t think we talked about it too much publicly. He was going to be in one of those lineman-looking braces for three weeks. He’s been doing running and stuff in the brace, I think, with some low-level resistance. Obviously doing a lot of strength work. He’s been working his tail off to make sure his quads and his hammys and everything else are not falling behind. … My update through yesterday is he’s busting his tail and doing a lot of functional stuff, but he’s got to have that brace on for three weeks total and he’s just past week two.”
On the decision to have Michael Pineda skip a start
“We’ve just been talking through it. Tanaka obviously got a time out because of the injury he had, so with the off days that we’ve had, it was: all right, let’s try to make a decision here at least on this front end. There’s other avenues to do it if you got a full complement (and) everybody’s healthy. You can always play with a six-man rotation if Nova’s back and everybody’s in line. We’re just trying to find ways to manage it properly so everybody keeps that full tank of gas and doesn’t have fatigue set in too easily, because once fatigue sets in, injuries can happen.”
On the idea of six starter when Ivan Nova is healthy
“It just depends on time of year, how things are functioning, who’s experiencing what. There’s no strict plan as much as (trying to) find ways at times to give people blows is basically what we’re going to try to do. But how we’re going to do it, we’re not sure just yet. … (Nova)’s going to have one (rehab start) in the Florida State League. If that goes fine, he’ll go to Scranton, weather permitting, and at that point we’ll evaluate. I guess it’s possible (he could be back this month). We did build him up to 75 pitches in extended spring so we can keep him on the clock if we feel it’s necessary, or we can pull him if we need him.”
On the dependability of Alex Rodriguez as an everyday player
“It was unpredictable what we were going to get. I could throw out there about the DH spot, it’s not as demanding and we all know that, but I didn’t have any expectations, let alone playing every day as a DH or being productive. He’s been very, very impressive and obviously helpful.”
On lingering foot concerns with Brian McCann
“I’m just thankful every test was negative. (The wrong orthotic) is more likely than not what was causing the issues. We’ll just swap it out and we’ll be able to go on from there and forget that it happened.”
On lingering elbow concerns with Masahiro Tanaka
“I can only speak for myself; I don’t think about it any more. I just think about if he is going to perform. In his last start, given how it was in his two rehab starts, I just wanted him to be productive. I knew he was around an 85-pitch count, so I didn’t know if we were going to be deep in the pen or not. My God, he was tremendous. I wasn’t worried about health. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”
Associated Press photos
When Brian McCann talked about his sore right foot on Wednesday, the concern was obvious in the tone of his voice. His answers were short. His delivery cautious. He’d been unable to stay in a crouch that afternoon, and it takes a lot for McCann to admit he can’t play.
So when he slipped into that MRI machine yesterday, he was worried. Today, he’s relieved.
No plantar fasciitis. No Lisfranc injury. The arch of McCann’s foot is like a set of bad eyes, and it’s prescription has changed. McCann was given a new set of orthotics. He caught a bullpen session today just to test them out and declared himself ready to play.
“I had the same old (orthotics) for the last three years,” he said. “And the arch on my foot has changed. I needed to get new ones. Once it got inflamed, it was harder to calm down. … I think this will take care of it.”
Losing McCann would have been a significant blow to both the lineup and the pitching staff, but the Yankees are hopeful they’ve made it through this scare while only losing McCann for eight innings.
Joe Girardi posted a late lineup today because he wanted to make sure McCann could catch with no problem. After catching a pen, McCann said he was good to go.
“It only flared up when I caught,” McCann said. “Walking around it didn’t flare up, but once I got in my squat and moved around (it hurt). That’s what we’ve been waiting for today. Went out there and didn’t flare up.”
• Jacoby Ellsbury has started going light baseball activities. He did a set of 10 40-yard sprints at about 50-percent effort. He also took dry swings in the cage and played catch. “He is obviously getting better,” Girardi said. “I don’t have a date when he’ll be a player for me, but it’s better than when we left because he wasn’t doing anything like that.”
• Carlos Beltran’s foot is still sore after that foul ball on Tuesday. The expectation is that he’ll be available to pinch hit, but he’s out of the lineup for a second game in a row. “The concern that you have there, besides it being really sore, is that he favors that and hurts something else,” Girardi asid. “We’ll shoot for tomorrow.”
• Brendan Ryan’s rehab assignment has been shifted to Double-A Trenton.
• Ivan Nova will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa on Monday. He will be scheduled for 80-85 pitches. He could be a big league option soon after that. “Right now we have him scheduled for at least two more (including Monday),” Girardi said. “Then we’ll go from there to see where he’s at.”
• No plans to immediate add a right-handed reliever, but the Yankees will almost certainly do that at some point (I guess it could happen when Nova comes back). “As of right now, it is what it is,” Girardi aid. “If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t predict that we would have that many left-handers in there the rest of the season. But right now, it is what it is.”
• Forgot to mention this in the previous post about limiting Michael Pineda’s innings: Girardi said the Yankees don’t have a specific number of innings they’d like Pineda to pitch, they just know that well over 200 is too many. “I have not been given a number,” Giradri aid. “We have not talked a number as an organization. But we know that 220 is out of the question, in our mind, for the regular season.”
• While he’s out of the rotation, there’s some chance Pineda could be available in an extra-inning situation either Sunday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The Yankees won’t plan to use him that day, but if they got into a crazy game, Girardi wouldn’t rule it out. “I think you’d have to say that that’s a possibility if he hadn’t thrown a side that day,” Girardi aid. “He’ll still continue to do his sides, but as we know there’s much less intensity there and you want to keep him as sharp as you can.”
Associated Press photos
Early on, this game was more of the same. Just the familiar Yankees looking hopeless against a good starting pitcher. The game was scoreless, but after three innings, it was hard to have much confidence that the Yankees were against going to win, much less win in an impressive manner.
But they chipped away in the fourth inning, loaded the bases in the fifth, and then Mark Teixeira delivered the big blow with a grand slam. Just like that, the team that just lost three of four in Oakland, was on its way to a fairly lopsided win against Felix Hernandez.
“It felt big,” Teixeira said. “The way Michael was pitching, we didn’t know how many we needed. Any time you can score seven runs off Felix Hernandez, you take it. It doesn’t happen very much. That was a good team effort today. We just played really good ball.”
And when the Yankees play really good ball, they actually look like a really good team.
The Yankees have scored in double digits four times this season. Those were games started by David Price, Clay Buchholz, Alex Colome and Jeremy Guthrie — not all superstars, but certainly not all no-name bums. Those games were two of the worst of Price’s and Guthrie’s careers, and it’s still Colome’s only loss of the season. The Yankees have also beaten Jacob deGrom this year, they’ve scored six runs against Gio Gonzalez, and they’ve been the only team to do any sort of real damage against Chris Young.
They’ve also looked thoroughly hopeless against Erasmo Ramirez.
“It’s hard to figure out,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s just, it’s a long season. Things don’t make sense a lot of times. For whatever reason, I don’t really know, but it happens.”
The Yankees looked hopeless again in the first three innings against Hernandez. He needed just six pitches to get through the first inning, nine to get through the second, and six more to get through the third. Then, all of a sudden, Hernandez allowed five base runners on 31 pitches in the fourth. And the fifth inning was even worse.
“I think when you’re facing a guy like that, you really have to grind (at-bats) out,” Chase Headley said. “I thought we had a lot of good at-bats that preceded the big blow. The stuff looked good. I thought the ball was moving. Honestly, I thought we just did a good job of laying off some tough pitches. That was the difference.”
As they’ve done several times this season, the Yankees looked like a really impressive team in those fourth and fifth innings. They showed patience and power at the plate, Michael Pineda was pitching well — five strikeouts in his half of those innings — and they built a big league against one of the game’s truly elite pitchers.
This was, in so many ways, the Yankees at their best. The previous four games were, at times, the Yankees at their worst.
“It only takes a couple of good at-bats and fortunes change,” Headley said.
• Asked which was more impressive, the offensive outburst against Hernandez or the first six innings from Pineda, Girardi debated for a while before saying the offense was perhaps a little more impressive tonight. But Pineda really was very, very good. The seventh inning got away from him, but through six innings Pineda kept the Mariners scoreless with ninth strikeouts. “Tonight, everything is working good,” Pineda siad. “I had really good power today, and my changeup was working well, my slider too. … I’m trying to attack the hitters, and pitch my game.”
• Girardi said he was actually a little bit worried about Pineda coming into this game. Although it’s been more than three years since the trade, this was actually Pineda’s first time pitching back in Seattle as a member of the Yankees. “I think he handled it pretty well,” Girardi said. “I always worry about those type of things when guys come back to face their old team for the first time, but I think he handled it really well.”
• Pineda on pitching back at Safeco Field: “I’m very excited today for this game, I’m very happy to be here again and pitching in Safeco field. I’m happy tonight. … It’s good, you know? I had really good focus today, and tried to do the best on the mound.”
• Any extra meaning to beating Hernandez, who had been kind of a mentor in Seattle? “It’s a great game for me today,” Pineda said. “My first year in the majors, I stayed around Felix and learned a lot from him. Tonight, pitching versus him, it’s a really good game.”
• There’s a retractable roof here in Seattle, but it was open for a little bit of rain just as Hernandez started having some trouble. He seemed to be having some trouble with the mound, but Hernandez said that wasn’t the cause of his struggles. “I was just kicking dirt out of my cleats,” Hernandez said. “But it’s not that. It was just one of those days. It was on me.”
• Strong outing by Justin Wilson to strand two runners and get the Yankees out of the seventh without further damage. The Mariners could have pulled back into the game at that point, but Wilson shut them down. “He’s got a great arm,” Girardi said. “We’ve kind of put him in our seventh inning slot a little bit, and he did a really good job today the way he came in and he gets the strikeout and then the double play. I mean, that’s huge. And he’s facing right-handed hitters. It doesn’t matter for Willy. We don’t look at Willy as a left-handed specialist. We look at both, and again he did the job.”
• The grand slam was the ninth of Teixeira’s career. It was also his sixth career home run against Hernandez. Teixeira is a career .303 hitters with four doubles, 13 RBI and nine walks in 66 career at-bats against Hernandez. “I think it’s a lot of luck,” Teixeira said. “He’s a great pitcher. I’ve faced him so much, there’s very few guys that for 10-plus years you face on a regular basis. He’s one of them. I’ve just gotten a couple good pitches to hit.”
• Last Yankees player to hit a grand slam in Seattle was Bernie Williams on May 16, 2005 against J.J. Putz.
• Teixeira’s six home runs against Hernandez are his second-most against any pitcher. He’s hit seven off Bruce Chen. No hitter has more career home runs against Hernandez. Current Mariners right fielder Nelson Cruz has gone deep on King Felix five times.
• Brett Gardner had a hit, a walk and two runs scored. Since 2013, Gardner has a hit in 11 of 14 games against the Mariners hitting .321 with seven runs, five walks and six stolen bases in those games. During that stretch he’s hit .393 with four doubles in eight games at Safeco Field.
• Several Yankees said basically the same thing about Hernandez: “His stuff moves so much, I think that’s what got him into trouble a little bit. His stuff was moving so much, it was tough to control and he walked a few guys. Give our hitters credit; they didn’t swing at the bad pitches when he threw them. We made the adjustments. It’s not because he didn’t have his stuff tonight; it was just moving so much.”
• Final word goes to Headley: “It’s great. If (Hernandez) is not the best in the game, he’s right there with the best in the game. When you’re playing a guy like him, you”ve just got to go out there and really try to grind, and scratch a couple of runs across. You feel pretty good and then obviously we got the big blow. Those things don’t happen very often with that type of pitcher. It’s a good win for us coming off a couple of tough games in Oakland.”
Associated Press photos
Game 52: Yankees at Mariners • 06.01.15
RHP Michael Pineda (6-2, 3.36)
Pineda vs. Mariners
Logan Morrison 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nelson Cruz RF
Kyle Seager 3B
Seth Smith DH
Austin Jackson CF
Brad Miller SS
Mike Zunino C
Dustin Ackley LF
RHP Felix Hernandez (8-1, 1.91)
Hernandez vs. Yankees
TIME/TV: 10:10 p.m., YES Network
WEATHER: A little chilly and cloudy, so the roof is closed.
UMPIRES: HP Tony Randazzo, 1B Mike DiMuro, 2B Will Little, 3B Phil Cuzzi
SUCCESS AGAINST THE KING: Mark Teixeira is actually a career .297/.370/.594 hitter in 64 career at-bats against Felix Hernandez. Brett Gardner has also had some success with a .333/.379/.407 slash line in 27 at-bats (Jacoby Ellsbury also has good numbers against Hernandez, though it obviously doesn’t matter today). The other Yankees with more than 20 at-bats against Hernandez are Alex Rodriguez (.261/.400/.261) and Chase Headley (.208/.240/.208).
A-ROD STREAKING: Pineda’s not the only former Mariners player back in town tonight. Alex Rodriguez is here with a 10-game hitting streak during which he’s batting .405 with seven run, a double, a home run, five RBI and three walks. This is his first double-digit hitting streak of the year.
ON THIS DATE: On June 1, 1925 Lou Gehrig began his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played. It started with a pinch hit at-bat in place of Pee Wee Wanninger in a 5-3 loss to Washington.
UPDATE, 10:20 p.m.: Pretty easy first inning for both Hernandez and Pineda. This ballpark really is quite a bit of fun when Felix is on the mound. I’m sold on the King’s Court thing. Rock solid local tradition.
UPDATE, 10:26 p.m.: Six up, six down for Felix.
UPDATE, 10:31 p.m.: As long as he hits, I don’t think it’s a huge problem, but Beltran really doesn’t move around very well in right. Just not a good outfielder at this stage of his career. Been that way for a while, actually.
UPDATE, 10:38 p.m.: Got some help from McCann on a caught stealing, but Pineda’s more or less keeping pace so far. Not as dominant as Felix through two innings, but it’s still scoreless heading into the third.
UPDATE, 10:47 p.m.: Pineda gets a 4-6-3 double play and he’s through the third. Felix has a perfect game going. Pineda has a shutout. This is pretty much the pitching matchup we were hoping to see.
UPDATE, 10:52 p.m.: Gardner breaks up the perfect game/no hitter with a single to left.
UPDATE, 10:55 p.m.: Single by Headley. Gardner was running with the pitch, but still a nice job of base running to realize Jackson wouldn’t catch the low line drive. Runners at the corners with no outs and the middle of the order coming to the plate.
UPDATE, 10:56 p.m.: Wild pitch, Gardner scores and the Yankees have a fourth-inning lead on Felix Hernandez.
UPDATE, 11:03 p.m.: McCann bangs into a double play, but with the bases loaded, one run scores and Rodriguez is still at third base with two outs and Beltran at the plate. A 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth isn’t too bad considering the guy on the mound.
UPDATE, 11:29 p.m.: Grand slam for Mark Teixeira. These weird, unpredictable Yankees are beating up on Felix Hernandez. They have a 7-0 lead with one out in the fifth inning.
UPDATE, 11:41 p.m.: Felix knocked out of the game in the fifth. Yankees are up 7-0. Pineda has been dealing.
UPDATE, 12:15 a.m.: Single, triple, double to start the seventh inning for the Mariners. They have their first runs of the game, and Pineda is having trouble for the first time all night. Still a 7-2 Yankees lead, though.
On September 10, 2011, Michael Pineda went eight innings in the final home start of his standout rookie season. He was a 22-year-old kid with a big fastball, a good slider and — it seemed — a bright future at Safeco Field.
He hasn’t pitched in Seattle since.
More than three years after he was traded to the Yankees, Pineda will finally return to Seattle tonight for a must-see matchup with Mariners’ ace — and former teammate — Felix Hernandez.
For a while, it seemed Hernandez and Pineda might form a lasting one-two punch at the top of the Mariners’ rotation, but in January of 2012 — just months after Pineda’s all-star rookie season came to an end — Seattle sent their young right hander across the country for top Yankees’ prospect Jesus Montero.
Since then, Pineda’s been on the disabled list for every Yankees’ trip to Seattle, and Montero has been largely a bust. He’s currently stuck in Triple-A.
When players leave a team via free agency or trade, they often get a chance to matchup against their former teams fairly quickly. Pineda’s history of shoulder injuries has delayed this moment long enough that Pineda said he’s not really in contact with any current Mariners.
“Players, I don’t necessarily think they take it personally, but you always want to do better against your old team,” manager Joe Girardi said. “… Just go out and do your thing. If I sense something (different) early on, then I’ll say something.”
Hernandez was already a perennial Cy Young candidate by the time Pineda arrived in Seattle. Now Pineda’s return happens to coincide with a tough matchup for Yankees’ hitters, about as tough as it gets in the American League.
“He’s the King, you know?” Pineda said. “He’s a great pitcher and I love to see him. I had a great time when I was there, seeing Felix Hernandez pitching. … He teach me a lot. I learned a lot of things that had to do with being here in the major leagues. Dressing, how to take the bus, checking the board; little things that I needed, he explained them to me. … It’s a little thing, but it was very important for me because I didn’t know.”
The idea of returning to Seattle, of pitching against his former team, of matching up against the guy who showed him the ropes, generate a bunch of typical Pineda smiles and laughs yesterday morning. Pineda’s healthy and happy these days. Getting back to Seattle took a lot longer than he expected, but Pineda pitched well last time out, and he’s excited to get back on that mound.
“It’s going to be a great game,” he said. “I want to win it.”
Associated Press photos