Hiroki 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.
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.
Yankees postgame: So Alex, your thoughts? • 08.10.13
We were all waiting around A-Rod’s locker for a comment about the reception he got here tonight during the 4-3 win in 10 over the Tigers. But we were finally told by media relations director Jason Zillo that Rodriguez had left.
Joe Girardi did speak about the boos and the cheers for his lightning rod at third.
“It was probably 50-50, maybe a little more cheers,” Girardi said. “It’s something he has to be able to put out of his mind and be a player for us.”
Rodriguez wasn’t a very effective player for them in this game. He went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. He’s now 3 for 15 since his return.
Mariano Rivera hasn’t been effective the last two games, blowing back-to-back saves for the first time since April 2011. Miguel Cabrera got him for a two-run homer to tie it at 3-3 in the ninth.
“You’re talking about one of the great hitters,” Rivera said.
The Yankees won it on Brett Gardner’s two-out walk-off single. That stopped their four-game losing streak and the Tigers’ 12-game winning streak. It also saved the Yankees from falling to .500. They’re up to 58-56.
“We haven’t been playing good baseball for a couple of months,” Gardner said. “Sometime you have to keep winning or you’ll be out of it.”
Robinson Cano had two RBI on a double. He had driven in two runs in his previous 15 games combined.
The pitching matchup later today will be Phil Hughes and Anibal Sanchez.
Associated Press photo.
Derek Jeter is scheduled to be back playing baseball tomorrow night at around 7:05. For now, he’s a RailRider. The Captain was cleared today to begin his 20-day rehab assignment clock. So he will play at least five innings at shortstop for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against visiting Lehigh Valley.
“That’s really good news,” Joe Girardi said. “That obviously means his ankle feels a lot better. He’s been dying to get out there since spring training and he’s had some setbacks. But this is a really good sign.
“I think he has to feel comfortable playing. He really hasn’t had a whole lot of at-bats. He hasn’t played a whole lot of infield. So (we need to see him) being able to go back-to-back days, back-to-back-to-back days that sort of thing.”
Asked if he would rule out Jeter returning on this final homestand before the break, Girardi said, “I don’t really have any expectations because I haven’t seen him play. If I can see him play in some games … I’d feel a lot better about making that decision.”
Right now, Girardi thinks Eduardo Nunez has a better chance of returning before the break than Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
Robinson Cano has had five different double-play partners starting opposite him, the latest being Luis Cruz. Jeter would provide stability.
“Hopefully everything goes well with him and we will see him pretty soon,” Cano said.
Michael Pineda is supposed to make the final rehab start on his 30-day clock tomorrow with Double-A Trenton and then the Yankees will have to decide where he fits.
“We’ll see how he does tomorrow and make an evaluation,” Girardi said.
Girardi said Zoilo Almonte is just getting a rest today as this long stretch of games continues to the break. Vernon Wells is starting in left.
Hiroki Kuroda said his hip flexor feels OK now. He was cleared to throw a bullpen session today.
What should the Yankees do? • 06.28.13
So what should the Yankees do about their offense? I think they’re going to need more than their injured hitters back after the All-Star break in order to be serious about this season. They didn’t have enough offense last October.
They could use the outside help now. The team is just 12-18 over the last 30 games, going from 30-18 to 42-36. The production from the fill-ins was good enough earlier in the season, but it just hasn’t been steady enough the last month or so. The staff can’t afford to make too many mistakes. And the Yankees can’t always count on running into bad pitching.
“I think we’ve shown that with the guys that are in this lineup, especially early on in the year, we were able to do enough to win games,” Vernon Wells said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers capped a 4-5 homestand. “We just haven’t done that consistently lately.”
The Yankees have been shut out three times this month and seven times overall. They’ve been shut out four times at home already, the most in five years. Derek Holland two-hit them Thursday when they wasted a quality start by Phil Hughes. They had two baserunners to show for their last 20 plate appearances, both on walks. Holland had to throw just 92 pitches. The game was over in just 2:24. (Here’s a link to my story about it.)
Lyle Overbay said the Yankees haven’t been grinding out at-bats lately.
“I think we get into trying to do too much and then it kind of snowballs a little bit,” Overbay said. “We’re not going to be as consistent maybe, but if we get those timely hits, we can be effective. We’re not doing that right now.”
The previous lefty to shut the Yankees out on two hits or less in the Bronx was Matt Young of the Mariners. That was 30 years ago. The Yankees have dropped three in a row and four of the last five when a lefty has started. The bottom three in the order against Holland were rookie David Adams (now batting .179), journeyman Alberto Gonzalez (.188) and rookie Austin Romine (.150). They combined to go 1 for 8.
Robinson Cano was protected in the order by Wells, who played right and struck out all three times, leaving him 11 for his last 93. Cano is down to .276, although he sounded pleased that at least he has been taking more walks.
“We don’t have our main guys,” Cano said. “I’ve just got to go out there and try to take advantage if I get one pitch. … I’m not trying to chase pitches and not trying to do too much.”
Rookie Zoilo Almonte is 0 for 10 in his last three starts in place of Wells in left after going 6 for 10 in his first three starts. Adams is 1 for his last 24. Overbay is batting .258 against righties and .186 against lefties, so a righty bat to platoon with him wouldn’t hurt, especially now that Mark Teixeira isn’t coming back until next year.
The team average is down to .238. There are still 17 games left until the All-Star break, seven games against the Twins, six against the Orioles and four against the Royals. There’s still almost a month until the nonwaiver trade deadline.
When Derek Jeter returns, he will be coming off a twice-broken ankle. He just turned 39 Wednesday. Alex Rodriguez, who had been on the decline, will turn 38 next month. He, of course, is, coming off his second hip operation. There have been conflicting reports about his return. The latest had A-Rod questioning when he would come back this season or if he would come back this season. The MLB Biogenesis investigation and a possible suspension are also hanging over him.
There was a report from csnphilly.com earlier this week that the Yankees have thought about Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, now in the last year of his deal. So is Philadelphia’s Michael Young, who would be more expensive and more appealing. It would figure the Yankees would only want an expiring contract since their goal is to be below $189 million next season.
What should they do?
Photo by The Associated Press.
Yankees postgame: Nothing to see here • 06.19.13
The second game of this doubleheader against the Dodgers won’t be included in the Yankees’ highlight video. Phil Hughes wasn’t good again. And the offense was nearly nonexistent again, like it was before the finale of the road trip and the first game of this doubleheader. It added up to a 6-0 loss, leaving the Yankees at 39-32.
The offense managed three singles, all off starter Chris Capuano, who worked six. Two were infield hits. Robinson Cano was the only one to reach the outfield with a hit and he got thrown out trying to stretch it. That was in the fourth, and it was the Yankees’ final hit. They had just one baserunner to show for their last 18 trips to the plate — Jayson Nix getting drilled by Brandon League in the ninth.
Lyle Overbay, who had one of the infield hits, said the lefty Capuano kept the ball down, mixed his pitches and had the Yankees off balance.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” Overbay said.
The erratic Hughes had his second straight substandard start. He gave up four singles to start the game, down 2-0 just like that. He allowed five runs and 10 hits over six.
“I really didn’t have good control in the first inning,” Hughes said. “From then on, it was a struggle to find any sort of rhythm.”
Back to the offense, Vernon Wells went 0 for 7 in the doubleheader, leaving him at a nearly unfathomable 9 for his last 87. It’s hard to remember his fast start now. Zoilo Almonte made his major-league debut, grounding out as a pinch hitter in the ninth.
The Yankees were blanked for the sixth time this season. They have dropped six of their last eight overall. With the split, they are 14-1-18 in twinbills since 2000.
Photo by The Associated Press.
Hal speaks on Yankees issues • 06.04.13
Hal Steinbrenner was grilled on a variety of subjects before last night’s 7-4 win over the Indians. Here are some more highlights besides expressing the Yankees’ disappointment in Alex Rodriguez’s past escapades and his praise regarding how the team has done despite their injury adversity:
On Robinson Cano and his expiring contract: “There’s nothing new to report. If something significant (happens), believe me you guys will be the first to know.”
On whether Cano changing agents from Scott Boras to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports is a positive thing: “We’ve had a good relationship with Scott, so we’ll see. … There’s been a lot of years and my dad certainly had his dealings with him and Scott’s been around a long time, so it is what it is. Whoever the agent is, that’s who we’ll be dealing with.”
On the challenges of meeting the sub-$189 million payroll goal for next season: “Again, tell me how the young players are going to continue to develop. Tell me how Pineda is going to do. It’s too early to speculate.”
On how George Steinbrenner would cope with losing to the Mets last week: “He went through a few, so I mean sometimes he handled it better than others, right? … Maybe he would have been fine. Maybe he would have surprised everybody. Maybe not. But it’s a long season. It’s a marathon and we’re right in the middle of it. We’re right in the middle of it.”
More on getting swept by the Mets: “Look, they are the crosstown rivals. There’s no doubt about that. But I concern myself maybe a little bit more with the teams in our division. You have to. But does it feel good? No. Does it sting? Yes, absolutely.”
On Brian Cashman’s comments to ESPN about Alex Rodriguez not being about to live up to his contract: “It’s big contract to live up to. I didn’t see Brian’s comments to be honest with you. Look, we just hope he comes back healthy as he did in ’09 after the surgery and we hope he contributes in a big way. I mean, he’s a heck of an athlete, and if the surgery has fixed the problem, you may see good things out of him. We hope so.”
On Cashman saying that nobody can live up to the contract: “Well, that may be true. That’s a philosophical argument there, I guess. It’s a big contract. But we all hope he’s going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it.’’
On how the investigation into Biogenesis has complicated the relationship between the team and A-Rod: “We haven’t been told anything, so it hasn’t complicated it at all. He’s been in Tampa. He’s been rehabbing and we hope he comes back strong. But there’s innocent until proven guilty, right? We haven’t heard a thing.”
On the decline in attendance: “As I said a couple of weeks ago, I think there’s a lot of factors. We’re not the only major-league team by a long shot that’s down and I still think the economy’s not great and there’s other things going on, too. The weather was horrible in April as you know, but we’re starting to see better crowds now and that’s going to continue with summer coming, and I just urge people to come out and support this team. Number one, they need it right now. They’re in the fight of their lives. And number two, they’ve earned it.”
Also, here’s a link to my story today on the Yankees finally finding some offense last night, plus my feature story on Nick Swisher and his return and Lyle Overbay stepping into right field for the first time in a regular-season game since 1999 in rookie ball.
Photo by The Associated Press.
But it helped that Felix Hernandez left after six and they could get to work against the Mariners’ bullpen. It turned out that King Felix tweaked his back in the sixth when he fielded a comebacker and turned and got a force at second. He also took a knee in the calf when he obstructed Lyle Overbay’s path to first in the fourth. The back apparently isn’t a new thing.
“He’s had on and off issues with it, some stiffness back there from time to time,” manager Eric Wedge said. “But he’s managed it well. … I’m hoping that he’s fine, and I think he will be fine.”
That sounds like the outlook for Travis Hafner as well. He underwent an MRI on his sore right shoulder, which he said stems from being hit by a pitch on the last homestand. Joe Girardi said it’s just tendinitis. Hafner called it “probably the best-case scenario.”
“It’s good,” Hafner said. “It just kind of showed some inflammation in the shoulder. I got an injection in it, and hopefully that clears it up and it should be good to go in a couple of days.”
The Yankees have been doing fine without their injured guys, although they got one back with Curtis Granderson’s return for this game. This first-place team is now 25-14.
“I still think we have a lot of really good players, maybe not the names we’re used to having here, but guys who have had big years,” Girardi said. “This group has worked really hard.”
Overbay had another nice game outside of an error that led to an unearned run. He contributed an RBI double in the sixth and the go-ahead sac fly to cap the three-run seventh. He has five go-ahead RBI, tied for second best on the team with Vernon Wells, one behind Hafner.
“He’s had so many big hits and RBI for us,” Girardi said. “… I feel good about when he’s at the plate.”
Back to the obstruction: Overbay would’ve been out at first even without it, but crew chief Jerry Layne said, “Any time the runner is obstructed before first, the ball is dead. He’s awarded first, and any runner that could be forced is awarded (his base).”
CC Sabathia gave up 10 hits but just the three runs, and he struck out 10 in 6 1/3.
“I wanted to minimize the damage and keep the game close enough and give us a chance to win,” Sabathia said.
Granderson went 0 for 3, but he also had a big walk in the decisive rally. And everything went well in left. It was his first regular-season start out there since Oct. 2, 2005, with the Tigers at Minnesota.
Robinson Cano had the tying two-run double. It was the 345th double of his career, which meant he passed Mickey Mantle for solo possession of eighth on the Yankees’ all-time list.
Photos by The Associated Press
Yankees postgame: What’s up with Pettitte? • 05.05.13
This one came with four runs, four hits and four walks allowed in five innings, plus he hit a batter. He served up two homers. There were 100 pitches, just 57 for strikes.
“It’s a struggle,” Pettitte said. “The issue is everything. Everything I’ve got to do as a starting pitcher, I’m not able to do right now. … My release point is floating around a little bit. … It’s been a long, long time since I haven’t had a feeling for my pitches.”
Pettitte is good at being brutally frank when it comes to self-assessments.
“My cutter is nonexistent right now,” Pettitte said.
Joe Girardi said he wasn’t going to make a big deal out of two bad starts. Pettitte is just hoping to find a steady release point in a hurry.
“I wish I could tell you something hurt,” Pettitte said. “But I feel good.”
So did Preston Claiborne. The 25-year-old righty looked great in his major-league debut, throwing two perfect innings.
“This was a big game, the biggest one so far of my life,” Claiborne said. “I knew that when I took the mound, it was just playing baseball again. So I tried to keep that in mind and went out there and tried to just execute pitches as best I could.”
Vernon Wells didn’t execute with two on and two outs in the last of the ninth, going down swinging against Grant Balfour.
“It was shaping up to be one of those memorable Yankee Stadium moments,” Wells said. “I didn’t come through. I’ll have to wait for next time for that moment to happen.”
Eduardo Nunez is day-to-day after leaving with tightness in the front of his left rib cage. An MRI came back negative. Girardi wasn’t sure that he would have the shortstop for Tuesday night’s series opener in Colorado.
Robinson Cano went 2 for 4 with an intentional walk and now has 1,499 career hits.
Cody Eppley cleared waivers and was outrighted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Cano making statement for new deal • 04.27.13
Robinson Cano has heated up in a hurry in this contract year.
After beginning 3 for 23 with no extra-base hits or RBI over the Yankees’ first six games, Cano has hit .385 over his last 16, going 26 for 68 with seven doubles, seven homers, 17 RBI and 14 runs scored. The second baseman is at .319 overall and has yet to make an error in 22 games.
He looks back at his World Baseball Classic run with the champion Dominican Republic as an important element in all this.
“I would say it helped a lot,” Cano said. “… You have to just go out there and play from the first inning to the last and play every game like it’s the last game.”
Cano has batted second 11 times and third 11 times. He doesn’t care where he hits, though.
“I don’t want to be the guy that will be a distraction,” Cano said. “I just go out there and just be happy to be in this lineup and wear this uniform.”
But will he be wearing this uniform after this season? I’ll guess yes. But how many years would you go on a new deal for Cano knowing he turns 31 in October and knowing what has happened with A-Rod’s too-long contract?
Also, here’s the link to my story on Ivan Nova and Francisco Cervelli getting hurt last night against the Blue Jays.