The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Game 22: Yankees vs. Rays04.29.15

Michael PinedaYANKEES (13-8)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Chris Young LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Carlos Beltran RF
Chase Headley 3B
John Ryan Murphy C
Gregorio Petit 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

RHP Michael Pineda (3-0, 3.86)
Pineda vs. Rays

RAYS (11-10)
David DeJesus DH
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Evan Longoria 3B
James Loney 1B
Logan Forsythe 2B
Kevin Kiermaier CF
Brandon Guyer LF
Bobby Wilson C

LHP Drew Smyly (0-0, 3.86)
Smyly vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Really nice day here in the Bronx. Sunny. Comfortable. Nice way to wrap up the home stand.

UMPIRES: HP Chad Fairchild, 1B Jim Joyce, 2B Greg Gibson, 3B Marvin Hudson

GOING DEEP: The Yankees are tied with the Orioles for fourth in the Majors with 27 home runs this season. They trail the Astros, Dodgers and Blue Jays (each with 28 home runs). The Blue Jays, Reds and Yankees are the only teams in baseball with at least four players who have at least four home runs (for the Yankees, that’s Teixeira, Rodriguez, Young and Drew).

FOUR IN THE SCORE: The Yankees are 12-3 when scoring at least four runs this season, and they’re 12-2 when allowing four runs or less.

ON THIS DATE: On April 29, 2006, the Yankees scored at least one run in every inning of a 17-6 win at Yankee Stadium, only the second such time in franchise history and the sixth in American League history.

UPDATE, 1:42 p.m.: Leadoff single in the top of the third is the first Rays hit of the game. Pineda’s looked sharp so far.

UPDATE, 2:07 p.m.: Ellsbury’s been on twice again today. He’s singled in his first two at-bats. Stole a base in the first inning; caught stealing in the third.

UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: Two-out, two-run triple by Kiermaier has the Rays in the lead, 2-0, here in the fourth inning. Pineda has been pitching well all game, but he’s worked slow and has occasionally looked weirdly uncomfortable on the mound. Rothschild went out to talk to him after the triple. He’s already at 74 pitches and David Carpenter is getting loose in the bullpen.

UPDATE, 2:39 p.m.: After going 55 at-bats without one, Chase Headley just homered to pull the Yankees within 2-1.

UPDATE, 2:46 p.m.: Pineda finished after 5.2 innings, and Wilson comes in to get the final out of the sixth inning. Yankees still down 2-1

UPDATE, 3:29 p.m.: Not sure why, but I’ve been completely unable to get into the blog since the last update. It’s now a tied game heading into the ninth. The Yankees tied it on a Chris Young home run in the sixth. Dellin Betances just pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, but he seemed to limp off the field after a ground ball to third base ended the frame.

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Game 12: Yankees at Rays04.19.15

Michael PinedaYANKEES (5-6)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Garrett Jones RF
John Ryan Murphy C
Didi Gregorius SS

RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 5.11)
Pineda vs. Rays

RAYS (6-6)
David DeJesus DH
Steven Souza Jr. RF
Asdrubal Cabrera SS
Evan Longoria 3B
Desmond Jennings CF
Allan Dykstra 1B
Brandon Guyer LF
Tim Beckham 2B
Rene Rivera C

RHP Matt Andriese (0-0, 3.86)
Andriese has never faced any of the Yankees

TIME/TV: 1:10 p.m., WPIX

WEATHER: One last game under a roof before we head to rainy Detroit.

UMPIRES: HP David Rackley, 1B Jerry Layne, 2B Hunter Wendelstedt, 3B Bob Davidson

DOESN’T HAPPEN OFTEN: If the Yankees win today, it would give them their first series sweep at Tampa Bay since a three-game sweep September 13-15, 2005. It would be their first series sweep against anyone since taking three straight from the White Sox last August.

THROWING STRIKES: Because of guys like today’s starter Michael Pineda, the Yankees have the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of any rotation in the American League (61 strikeouts, 15 walks) and the fifth-best in the Majors.

ON THIS DATE: It was on April 19, 1960 that Roger Maris made his Yankees debut on Opening Day in Boston. He went 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double and four RBI, setting the stage for his first of two consecutive A.L. MVP awards.

UPDATE, 1:18 p.m.: Single, balk, sac fly, walk and sac fly. The ultimate in small bites has given the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first.

UPDATE, 1:28 p.m.: Rare walk to start the game for Pineda, then a two-run homer. Rays in front 2-1.

UPDATE, 1:54 p.m.: Ellsbury opens the third inning with his second hit of the day, but he’s caught stealing. Now Gardner has a hit to bring A-Rod up with only one on, not two.

UPDATE, 1:57 p.m.: Double by Alex. Second and third with one out for Teixeira.

UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: Teixeira grounds to second for an out and RBI, then Headley singles softly up the middle for a 3-2 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: Brian McCann had the team lead in triples for less than 24 hours. He’s now joined at the top of the leader board by, of all people, Garrett Jones.

UPDATE, 2:17 p.m.: Sac fly by Murphy and it’s a 4-2 Yankees lead in the fourth.

UPDATE, 2:39 p.m.: Pineda is through four innings with the 4-2 lead intact.

UPDATE, 3:26 p.m.: If Rodriguez’s bat hadn’t cracked on that swing, he would have had his fifth homer of the year. Instead it’s caught short of the wall. The two teams traded runs in the fifth and now it’s 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth.

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Pregame notes: Yankees go for sweep against Tampa Bay04.19.15

Yankees Rays Baseball

First Sunday day game of the year, and I’d kind of forgotten what the clubhouse is like on days like this. Quiet. Not many guys hanging around. Lineup posted late. Not a whole lot to talk about. It was only a few hours ago that we were last year, so not much has changed since last night.

The important thing is whether the Yankees situation will change by the time they board tonight’s flight to Detroit.

After Friday’s comeback and Saturday’s blowout, the Yankees have a chance to sweep this series. They already have their first series win of the season, and with a win today they would improve to .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.

“Within our division, I think it’s really important, and to try to get on a roll here,” Joe Girardi said. “We have a lot of games in the next 30 days. That’s important as well. To get back to .500 would be good.”

The Yankees have Michael Pineda and his surprisingly high 5.11 ERA heading to the mound. If he could follow Masahiro Tanaka’s lead and finally deliver his first gem of the season, that would be helpful. It would also be helpful if the Yankees offense could continue some of the promising signs it’s shown these past few days.

“It’s been really good,” Girardi said. “Even the last week, I think we’ve swung the bats better. We put a tough inning on Odorizzi in the sixth inning and finally broke through there and exploded in the seventh (last night). It was nice to see.”

Masahiro Tanaka• The Yankees still have not decided when Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start. There’s a chance he’ll pitch Thursday on four days rest, and there’s a chance the Yankees will insert a sixth starter sometime next week to keep Tanaka — and everyone else — on an every-six-days schedule. The Yankees don’t want to make a decision right away because there’s a solid chance they’ll be rained out tomorrow.

• Carlos Beltran is still sick. “He feels weak,” Girardi said. “I’m really hoping I get him back tomorrow.”

• Girardi said that, if Beltran were playing, he could have considered leaving Alex Rodriguez on the bench for a day game after a night game, but as it is, the Yankees feel good about putting A-Rod back in the No. 3 hole. “His at-bats are good,” Girardi said. “So there’s nothing that tells me he’s physically tired. If I see something, I’ll make an adjustment.”

• There’s a chance Rodriguez will play the field one of these upcoming four games in Detroit, but Girardi said he doesn’t have a game picked out or anything. It might happen. Might not.

• This is Pineda’s third start of the season. He’s trying to get back to the form he showed in spring training when he was the Yankees’ best pitcher. “We all feel good when Michael is on the mound,” Girardi said. “He works quickly, he gets quick outs, he has pitched extremely well. He’s got outstanding stuff and hopefully he gets deep into the game today.”

• Anything else, Joe? “I have no earth-shattering news,” he said

Associated Press photos

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Pitching matchups at Tampa Bay04.17.15

Adam Warren

RHP Adam Warren (0-1, 1.69)
RHP Nate Karns (1-1, 4.97)
7:10 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-1, 7.00)
RHP Jake Odorizzi (2-0, 0.61)
7:10 p.m., FOX Sports 1

RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 5.11)
1:10 p.m., WPIX

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “Turns out, Stephen Drew was the guy for that job”04.13.15

Stephen Drew, Caleb Joseph
Brett Gardner went to the plate twice after being hit by a pitch in the first inning, and each time he tried to bunt for a hit. He said Joe Girardi kept asking whether he was alright, and Gardner kept assuring him he could still play. Even so, Gardner could feel in the on-deck circle that he wasn’t quite 100 percent. He could swing, just couldn’t swing very well.

Drew“I kind of halfway lied to (Girardi) and told him I was good,” Gardner said.

In the seventh inning, though, Gardner could see his at-bat requiring something more than a bunt single. He told Girardi that he was still fine to play defense, but if his spot in the order came up with runners on base, Gardner might not be the best guy to take a good swing and drive them in.

“Turns out,” Gardner said. “Stephen Drew was the guy for that job.”

Drew’s second home run in as many days was a big one, a go-ahead grand slam with two outs in the seventh. It was the third grand slam of his career, his second ever pinch hit homer, and the first pinch hit grand slam against the Orioles since Jorge Posada in 2001.

“Joe gave me a heads up before, pretty much the inning before, kind of to let me know, hey, get loose,” Drew said. “I was ready. … Laid off some tough pitches, some close ones. Got a 3-1 count in a good situation. Tried not to do too much. Put a good swing on it, and it worked out for the best.”

That’s two wins in a row for the Yankees, and two pretty good wins at that. It’s also two pretty gratifying homers for a guy who couldn’t hit a lick last season. The Yankees have been happy with Drew’s at-bats since late in spring training, and he’s starting to get some regular-season results the past two days.

“It’s one of those things where I feel a little more comfortable trying not to do too much,” he said. “Trying not to put too much pressure on myself. I know what kind of player I am, and I’ve done it for a long time, so in regards to that, it definitely helped with the at-bats in spring training and taking it into the season.”

GardnerGardner was also hit by a pitch in the right wrist last week during the home stand. He said this one was only about a half inch away from the previous spot. It sounds doubtful that he’ll play tomorrow.

“Kind of wait and see,” Gardner said. “Just a day-to-day thing. I’m just glad that the x-rays look good. We’ve got a wrap on there for tonight, keep the swelling down and hopefully I feel good tomorrow.”

X-rays were negative, so there’s some good news on the wrist.

“The good thing is they’re negative,” Girardi said. “Will he play tomorrow? That’s a question. We just have to wait and see how he feels. He got hit in the right wrist and, yeah, I’m concerned about him. I’m glad it’s not broke. I don’t know what we’ll have the next few days.”

Michael Pineda• Nine strikeouts and no walks for Michael Pineda, who really seemed to pitch much better than five earned runs would suggest. “I feel pretty good,” Pineda said. “It’s a really good game. But it’s one pitch, you know? Jones, made adjustments. My fastball’s high, and he got a homer. I try to continue to hold the game, and make a pitch.”

• That one pitch was the fastball that Adam Jones hit for a two-run, go-ahead home run in the sixth. Pineda had struck out Chris Davis to nearly get out of the jam, but he tried to elevate a fastball against Jones, and Jones got plenty of it. “He’s really good hitter, you know?” Pineda said. “For me, I try to change the eye (level), and try to throw my fastball high, and he makes adjustments and he got it.”

• Speaking of good pitching performances, Andrew Miller got a five-out save. It was the third save of his career and his second save of the season. He said that this time he and Dellin Betances didn’t really have defined hitters to focus on. He didn’t exactly know he’d be the closer today, but he was ready for it. “I don’t think what we’re doing is traditional at all, so that’s not really surprising,” Miller said. “It’s just the way it worked out today. Dellin and I hadn’t really pitched the last couple days. I think both of us knew coming in that if this type of game was played, we would have to throw more than our usual 15-20 pitches, and we found a way.”

• Shaky outing for Dellin Betances as the setup man for Miller, but Betances got the huge out he needed when he struck out Davis to end the seventh. “I threw some good (breaking balls) to Davis,” Betances said. “Those are the way I need to throw it to all of them. I thought those breaking balls I threw to him were really good.”

• Girardi didn’t go into detail, but he indicated that using Betances to get out of the seventh and then using Miller for five outs was not exactly the way he drew it up. “I was trying to map it out,” Girardi said. “But it never goes strictly according to plan. I had to rework it a little bit. It worked out, and Andrew did a tremendous job to get the final five outs. He threw the ball very well.”

Didi Gregorius, Adam Jones• And since it’s pretty connected to the pitchers, this is a good time to mention John Ryan Murphy, who had a really great game behind the plate. the faced he went 1-for-3 and drew a walk to help set up the grand slam was just kind of icing on the cake. Just a really great game for him including two runners caught stealing. “Just a tremendous job,” Girardi said. “He threw the ball extremely well. Throwing out Adam Jones in that situation was a huge out. Blocked, I don’t know, 10, 15 balls tonight.”

• Girardi explaining the order and use of pinch hitters in the seventh: “I knew I was going to (use Drew in Gardner’s spot). The thing was, Drew had seen Matusz, so if he brought in Matusz for Ellsbury, I know Drew has seen him and I was more comfortable with that. And Garrett’s got more power, even though it didn’t turn out that way, I was looking for a three-run homer at that time (when Jones hit for Gregorio Petit earlier in the inning).”

• Was Gardner bunting in those middle plate appearances strictly because of his wrist? “Not necessarily,” he said. “It might have had a little something to do with it, but it wasn’t a case of, I wasn’t able to swing the bat.”

• Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4, but he played a solid third base. He’s bounced around a lot the past few days, moving to different positions and different spots in the order. “Not strange,” Rodriguez said. “We have to whatever it takes to win. We have a good team. Joe needs me to move around a little bit, and that’s what I’m willing to do. Last week I took a lot of time early every day, bounced around between third base and first base. I’m excited to be playing every day.”

• With his solo home run tonight, Mark Teixeira tied Lance Berkman for the fifth-most home runs by a switch hitter. Teixeira has 366. Carlos Beltran is fourth on that list with 373. Mickey Mantle has the all-time record with 536.

• Final word goes to Girardi: “They’ve been resilient so far. We didn’t get off to the start that we wanted. We didn’t play very well the first five games of the season, and we’ve played much better the last two two. We’ve had big hits and capitalized on some mistakes the other clubs have made, and we’ve won two games in a row.”

Associated Press photos

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Drew’s grand slam carries Yankees to comeback win in Baltimore04.13.15

Mark Teixeira, Chris Young

Two outs. Bases loaded. Yankees down by two in the top of the seventh. Stephen Drew pinch hitting for Brett Gardner was, perhaps, not the sight you wanted to see coming out of the Yankees’ dugout. Drew, though, delivered the pinch hit grand slam that carried the Yankees to a 6-5 come-from-behind win against the Orioles tonight in Baltimore. Gardner, who’d been hit by a pitch in the first inning, went for X-rays on a stiff right wrist. In his place, Drew delivered his first career hit off Orioles reliever Tommy Hunter. He was 0-for-5 against him before the home run to center field. The grand slam was the Yankees’ third homer of the game — Chris Young and Mark Teixeira also went deep — and it came just a half inning after Adam Jones hit a two-run, go-ahead homer for the Orioles in the bottom of the sixth. Michael Pineda looked sharp most of the game, but he was still charged with five runs through 6.1 innings. He struck out nine and walked none. One of his runs came off Dellin Betances, who had another shaky outing but got a big strikeout against Chris Davis to end the seventh. Andrew Miller got the final five outs for his second save of the year.

Associated Press photo

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Game 7: Yankees at Orioles04.13.15

Michael PinedaYANKEES (2-4)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Chris Young RF
John Ryan Murphy C
Didi Gregorius SS
Gregorio Petit 2B

RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00)
Pineda vs. Orioles

Alejandro De Aza LF
Steve Pearce RF
Chris Davis 1B
Adam Jones CF
Travis Snider DH
Manny Machado 3B
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Everth Cabrera SS
Caleb Joseph C

LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 6.23)
Chen vs Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., PIX 11

WEATHER: Beautiful day in a beautiful ballpark. On a nice day like this, there really aren’t many stadiums where I’d rather watch a game.

UMPIRES: HP Lance Barksdale, 1B Cary Cederstrom, 2B Sean Barber, 3B Eric Cooper

POWER SURGE: With eight home runs in their past four games, the Yankees actually lead the Majors in homers since Thursday. They have nine home runs through six games this season. They didn’t reach nine home runs last year until their 12th game of the year.

GETTING PLENTY OF (GOOD) WORK: The Yankees bullpen is fourth in the American League in both opponents’ OPS (.545) and opponents’ batting average (.178). In six games this season, the Yankees bullpen has a 1.93 ERA.

ON THIS DATE: April 13, 1978 was “Reggie!” Candy Bar Day at Yankee Stadium, and when Reggie Jackson hit a three-run homer in the first inning, the field was showered with candy bars that were given out for free.

UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: Home run for Chris Young and it’s a 1-0 Yankees lead in the second.

UPDATE, 7:39 p.m.: Sharp RBI double down the third-base line for Machado. Rodriguez made a diving attempt but couldn’t make the stop (would have been a heckuva play). Now Schoop has followed with an RBI to left field. Looked like Gardner threw him out at second, but the Orioles have asked for a replay. Schoop might have been safe with a good slide.

UPDATE, 7:42 p.m.: Yep, Schoop is safe. Really nice throw by Gardner, but Petit missed with the tag. Held the glove in front of the bag and Schoop kind of slid around it.

UPDATE, 8:02 p.m.: Pretty decent little charging play by Rodriguez at third helps Pineda get through a scoreless third. It’s still 2-1 Orioles.

UPDATE, 8:06 p.m.: Really, really close play at first. Yankees lost the challenge and Gardner is out. My guess is, if he’d been called safe, that call would have stood as well. Basically looked like a tie to me, so I doubt that’s enough evidence to overturn. But maybe I’m wrong.

UPDATE, 8:09 p.m.: Solo shot by Teixeira ties the game at 2. Would be huge for the Yankees if Teixeira could be a true power hitter again.

UPDATE, 8:18 p.m.: Pineda looks sharp again tonight. Still tied at 2 after four innings.

UPDATE, 8:53 p.m.: Big spot for Pineda here in the sixth. Game still tied at 2, but the Orioles have the heart of the order up with one out and a runner at third.

UPDATE, 8:56 p.m.: Big out. Pineda just got Davis to strike out swinging. Two outs now. Sac fly out of the question. Has to get Adam Jones, though.

UPDATE, 8:59 p.m.: There’s the big blow. Jones hits a two-run homer on a 3-1 pitch and it’s 4-2 Orioles.

UPDATE, 9:20 p.m.: Stephen Drew just pinch hit for Gardner for some reason and delivered a go-ahead grand slam. The world is a strange place. It’s now a 6-4 Yankees lead.

UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: Another shaky outing for Betances, but he got the big out he needed to keep the lead intact. His strikeout of Chris Davis left the tying run stranded at third (after he allowed a single that brought in one run). It’s now a 6-5 Yankees lead heading into the eighth.

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Pitching matchups at Baltimore04.13.15

Michael Pineda

RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00)
LHP Wei-Yin Chen (0-0, 6.23)
7:05 p.m., PIX 11

LHP CC Sabathia (0-1, 6.35)
RHP Miguel Gonzalez (0-1, 1.59)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (0-0, 5.06)
RHP Bud Norris (0-1, 24.00)
7:05 p.m., YES Network

Associated Press photo

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Game 2: Yankees vs. Blue Jays04.08.15

Michael PinedaYANKEES (0-1)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Didi Gregorius SS

RHP Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89 in 2014)
Pineda vs Blue Jays

Jose Reyes SS
Russell Martin C
Jose Bautista RF
Edwin Encarnacion DH
Josh Donaldson 3B
Dalton Pompey CF
Kevin Pillar LF
Justin Smoak 1B
Devon Travis 2B

RHP R.A. Dickey (14-13, 3.71 in 2014)
Dickey vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: Cold. I don’t like it.

UMPIRES: HP Jim Reynolds, 1B Jerry Meals, 2B Paul Schrieber, 3B Fieldin Culbreth

FAST STARTER: Alex Rodriguez singled in Monday’s opener, marking the 10th straight season opener in which he has hit safely (2003-08, ‘10-12, ‘14), including all nine Opening Days he has played in as a Yankee. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Yankee to have as long a streak was Lou Gehrig, who hit safely in 12 straight Opening Days from 1926-37.

ON THIS DATE: It was on April 8, 2003 that Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut, helping the Yankees to a 7-3 win against the Twins.

UPDATE, 7:15 p.m.: There’s a 1-2-3 top of the first for Pineda.

UPDATE, 7:35 p.m.: Teixeira just hit right-handed against Dickey and doubled to left.

UPDATE, 7:51 p.m.: Three straight hits to open the third inning have the Blue Jays in front 1-0. The RBI came on an infield single up the middle. Gregorius made the diving stop but had to rush the throw and couldn’t get the out. Throw was high.

UPDATE, 8:15 p.m.: Pineda is through four innings with just the one run. Of course, the Yankees have just one hit.

UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: What a bizarre sequence. Runner at first with one out, a chopper went off Teixeira’s glove — he was trying to make a really nice leaping catch — and Stephen Drew almost caught it on the ricochet. Instead, the ball fell for a single, and Drew’s throw to third was wide. That set the stage for a sac fly to right and a 2-0 Blue Jays lead.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: Bloop single gives the Yankees their second hit of the night. A double play immediately wipes the runner off the bases.

UPDATE, 8:52 p.m.: Ellsbury has been on base three times today. Two walks and a single. He just stole a base.

UPDATE, 8:54 p.m.: Sac fly by Beltran and the Yankees are on the board. Three Yankees hits. Two Yankees runs. Just like Monday night.

UPDATE, 9:37 p.m.: Chris Young with a pinch hit double. Ellsbury with his second hit of the game. Runners at the corners with no outs for Gardner.

UPDATE, 9:46 p.m.: Bases loaded with no outs, Young just scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2. Beltran still at the plate. Still no outs.

UPDATE, 9:53 p.m.: Hit by pitch to tie the game. Infield single off the pitcher’s glove to take the lead. Weird way to get the offense going, but it’s better than nothing. Yankees up 4-3 in the eighth. Andrew Miller was warming up earlier. Looks like he’ll be the guy to get the save opportunity.

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Pregame notes: “I think what he was meaning to say is …”04.08.15

Masahiro Tanaka

Thought we were finished talking about Masahiro Tanaka’s velocity, health and performance two days after his disappointing Opening Day start? You must be new.

In today’s Daily News, John Harper wrote that the Yankees believe something has been lost in translation in Tanaka’s public comments about his velocity and approach. The widespread perception has been that Tanaka is backing away from velocity because of concerns about his elbow, but the Yankees say that’s not the case, at least not based on their internal discussions with their young ace. Harper wrote that the team planned a meeting with Tanaka to make sure there’s a mutual understanding.

Tanaka“I think what he was meaning to say is, I’m not a flamethrower,” manager Joe Girardi said today. “That’s not how I pitch. I am going to pitch different than some of the guys who throw hard.”

So the decision to throw more sinkers and fewer four-seamers is not because of the elbow?

“From my conversations with him, it’s a strategic thing,” Girardi said. “He knows that his four-seamer got hit some last year, and that really comes down to location. I think the important thing for him is that, whichever one he’s locating better, it’s the one he uses that day for the most part. He is a guy that gets 90 percent of his outs on sliders and splits. The fastball is to kind of setup the slider and the split. He needs to locate. I mean, he got in bad counts the other day. He didn’t really pitch Toronto much different than he did the last time he beat them in June, but he made mistakes and that was the difference.”

The numbers support the idea that Tanaka’s four-seamer was perhaps his worst pitch last season, so there is a non-health motivation in throwing fewer four-seamers. But, of course, given the situation — a slightly torn elbow ligament for such a high-end young pitcher — everything is going to be examined over and over again. Any change is hard to dismiss under the circumstances. From Harper’s story:

Yankee people also say the panic over Tanaka’s velocity is overblown, that his fastball against the Blue Jays, both two-seam and four-seam, were within one mile per hour of the way he pitched last year.

Likewise they say the percentage of fastballs he threw — 26 of 82 pitches, if you count the two-seam sinkers and the four-seamers — wasn’t dramatically different from 2014 either.

“I see the way he’s throwing his split,” Girardi said this afternoon. “I see him playing long toss. I just don’t think, if he was hurt, he could do the things that he’s doing. But I think that’s always going to be in the back of everyone’s mind just because that’s the way it is.”

Alex Rodriguez• Alex Rodriguez has good career numbers against Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, but Girardi said he didn’t want to start moving players up and down the lineup after one game. “I’m not going to start changing the lineup already,” he said. “We’re only one day in. A lot of it, I think sometimes, is something that you look over. Sometimes you make some changes, sometimes you don’t, based upon the personnel that’s in there at the time. I thought we could go with the same lineup two days in a row, it’s something a little bit different than what we’ve done the past two years.”

• The lineup will change tomorrow, though. The Yankees face left-handed starters on Thursday and Friday, and Girardi said he plans to use both Chris Young and Gregorio Petit as everyday guys against lefties. They won’t necessary replace the same player each time, but they’ll play against lefties, giving the regulars a chance to sit. It’s a way to add some right-handed balance to this left-leaning lineup. “I would say I will probably do that, try to give guys a day off,” Girardi said. “Maybe one of the outfielders a day off against a lefty, and one of the infielders a day off against a lefty, yes.”

• Didi Gregorius is back in the lineup after being hit by pitch to the elbow late on Monday. “He said he’s fine,” Girardi said. “I’ll watch him take BP and let him go through BP, but he said he felt good so my expectation is that it won’t be an issue.”

• In his fourth season with the Yankees, but only his second year breaking camp with the team, Michael Pineda seems to be an even better pitcher than the Yankees expected when they got him. His health might be worse than expected, but his stuff is better. “He’s much different (than in 2012),” Girardi said. “The first Spring Training didn’t go so well. He ended up getting hurt, and he wasn’t where he needed to be physically. Now you look at him and the ball is coming out well. He’s a much different guy. … He had a pretty serious injury and he has bounced back. I think he grew up a lot through that. I think during that time too his mechanics improved dramatically. It really helped him.”

• Last time Pineda pitched on a cold night in April, he wound up ejected and suspended because of a massive glob of pine tar on his neck. Girardi actually laughed when asked about it today. “I’m sure we’ll have a lot of eyes on him tonight,” Girardi said. “I think he understands, yes. I hope.”

• As expected, there’s no set closer for tonight. “It’s the matchups (that will decide who pitches the ninth,” Girardi said. “It’s the order.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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