Friday, May 31, 2013

Yankees Overcome Lester as CC Dominates

Finally, timely hitting and dominant pitching took place in the same game for the Yankees. They sent their ace lefty CC Sabathia to the mound after his worst start of the year on Sunday when he gave up seven runs to a light-hitting Rays team. CC likes pitching in the heat, and being that I was at tonight's game I can say that this was ideal CC Sabathia pitching weather. CC rattled off 7.1 dominating innings, allowing only one run on six hits. The big lefty struck out ten batters and did not give up a walk. Sabathia's breaking pitches were on point tonight, as Red Sox lefties were 0-12 with four strikeouts off Sabathia. His fastball velocity was also up in this start. CC's four-seam fastball average velocity was 92.58 MPH and his two-seamer average velocity was at 91.08 MPH. Sabathia's fastball topped out at 94.35 MPH as he blew past a strong Red Sox lineup.

I have to eat crow about what I said regarding Sabathia no longer being an ace. He takes time to get going and perhaps this was the start that will begin a stretch where Sabathia can put the Yankees on his back every fifth day. When asked if Girardi, who was tossed in the fifth inning, saw any difference in CC's pitches Girardi said that the only difference he noticed was that his ace was throwing harder. Those who say that fastball velocity isn't important can look back at tonight's game and compare it to Sabathia's last start where his average fastball didn't break 91 MPH.

The offense was able to get the key hits when they needed them. The scoring began for the Yankees in the second inning when Jayson Nix and Ichiro collected RBI base hits to give Sabathia an early 2-0 lead. In his return from the DL, Kevin Youkilis drove in a run in the fifth off his former teammate Jon Lester. The Yankees would cap their scoring off when Gardner slapped an RBI single off lefty pitcher Andrew Miller to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead that they would hand over to Mariano Rivera who pitched a scoreless ninth inning to save his nineteenth game of the season. Rivera came right back after blowing a save to the Mets on Tuesday night. Mark Teixeira went 0-3 in his return to the Bronx with a walk and a run scored in the second inning. 

The Yankees have moved to within one game of the AL East leading Red Sox. Tomorrow's game is really a toss-up as Phil Hughes will face off against lefty Felix Doubront. The Yankees have been hit or miss against Doubront. They will look to hit him tomorrow as I believe the game will be a high scoring game on both ends. 

Some familiar faces...

As I take the train into the Bronx for a second straight night, this is the lineup that Joe Girardi has put together. 

Brett Gardner CF
Kevin Youkilis DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Vernon Wells LF
Jayson Nix SS
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jon Lester 

To make room on the roster for Teixeira and Youkilis, the Yankees have optioned RHP Ivan Nova and LHP Vidal Nuno to AAA Scranton. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mets Sweep, Yanks Lose Fifth Straight

After facing the prospect of losing the series to the Mets going into yesterday, you would have thought that the Yankees would take that as motivation to take the series at home. However that was not the case, as they lose not only the series to the Mets, but get swept by them in four games. The Yankees have not been able to produce offensively over these last four games which has become their Achilles heel. They are not getting the clutch hits that they were getting early in the season, and their pitching isn't performing in harmony with their offense. Tonight, the Yankees only amassed four hits off Mets pitching. Cano had two of the hits with a single in the first and a home run in the third. Dillon Gee came into tonight's game with an ERA approaching seven! Even that was not enough for the Yankees to come out of their offensive woes. For the Yankees to get swept by the Mets in four games is not only embarrassing, but it puts the future in doubt as they get ready to face the surging Red Sox for a weekend set beginning tomorrow evening.

The Yankees starting pitching in the Mets series was worthy of capturing wins, but with the offense in the slump that it is currently experiencing, the starting pitchers giving up even two runs in a game is too much. Vidal Nuno pitched a good ball game tonight, as he allowed only two runs in six solid innings on a two-run home run to Marlon Byrd. The third Mets run came in the eighth inning on a swinging bunt by John Buck that scored the runner from third as David Adams let the ball roll in fair territory, hoping it would go foul. He wouldn't  have a chance to get the hustling Buck anyhow as he was playing back and the ball was a slow roller down the line. 

Not to fear Yankees fans, as reinforcements are on their way tomorrow night. The current team as it stands is not getting the job done anymore. The Yankees getting Teixeira and Youkilis back in time for the Boston series may be what the doctor prescribed. The games won't get any easier though, as the Sox send a thriving Jon Lester to the mound against a struggling CC Sabathia. The Yankees will only go as far as Sabathia will take them. The upcoming series is huge for the Yankees, who are desperately looking for a win. It's been a while to say the least. 

On my way to the game!

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brennan Boesch RF
David Adams 3B
Reid Brignac SS
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. RHP Dillon Gee

Yankees Get Bombed at Home

The Mets are really treating this like the World Series. They look like a completely different team from what I have witnessed in the almost fifty games before this Yankees series. Players who can't hit in the clutch are getting hits with runners in scoring position and pitchers who couldn't buy a victory are getting wins and dominating while doing so. For the Yankees, the exhaustion is beginning to show on the team. The role players who were brought in to be backups are beginning to wither and the players who should be playing on a regular basis aren't setting the bar for the rest of the team. As Robinson Cano goes through his terrible slump, the Yankees are losing games that they would ordinarily be winning with a hit here or there from their star second baseman. Cano continues to look helpless at the plate, despite getting two hits in tonight's game. One or two hits per game is not Cano-like. Robinson Cano has high expectations for himself and whenever he bats anything under .300 the fans begin to panic, and so does Cano. The offense was able to score four runs tonight, but in a losing effort.
The main problem for the Yankees tonight wasn't their lack of offense, but the starting pitching. David Phelps only managed to record one out in the game while allowing five runs to score in the first inning to put the Yankees offense in an immediate hole. The first inning was the difference in the game because without the five spot, the Mets only score four runs in the game and we may be singing a different tune during this postgame analysis. However, what has happened is in the past and you can't change the past. All Phelps can do is to get ready for his next start, assuming that they don't replace him with Ivan Nova who pitched great in relief following Claiborne and Adam Warren. Nova pitched a brilliant five innings of relief for the Yankees, allowing only one run on five hits. In the eighth inning, Nova accomplished a feat that hasn't been accomplished by a Yankee since 2009 when AJ Burnett did it. He struck out the side on nine pitches, which is he minimum number of pitches needed to be thrown to strike out all three batters in an inning.

The Yankee regulars who are on the disabled list can't get back to the Bronx any faster. The Yankees will try to salvage one game against the Mets tomorrow night as Vidal Nuno get the start for the Bombers. Pitching for the Mets will be Dillon Gee, who has shown promise but has yet to put it all together in a successful season.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lineup vs. Hefner

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brennan Boesch RF
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Jayson Nix 3B
Reid Brignac SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Jeremy Hefner

Time to Reflect

They say that the first real measuring stick for the success or failure of a baseball team comes on Memorial Day, roughing a quarter of the way through the regular season. For the Yankees and the expectations set for them before the season began, they have jumped above and beyond to show the non-believers that they are a competitive team. On the morning of May 29th, the Yankees are 30-21, nine games over .500, which is a great place to be coming into the month of June. They are one game out of first place, only behind the Boston Red Sox who have excelled as well. The standings on May 29th are opposite of what people in baseball believed they would be by this time in the season. The Yankees have been able to win with outstanding starting pitching from unexpected places and have also been able to get big hits in places where they are desperately needed. Players like Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner have come up huge for the Yankees in multiple big spots, with Overbay leading the pack in clutch hits. However, this season is a marathon and I don't expect the Yankees to win long term with these players that were brought to the Bronx in case of emergency.

Following the Yankees recent three game losing streak, their first such streak of the season, there may be hope on the horizon. Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis both began their rehab assignment with AA Trenton this morning and are expected to be activated off the disabled list as early as Friday, just in time for the weekend series against the Red Sox for a battle for the top spot in the division. Teixeira will need time to adjust, as he has not played in a major league game since October. For Youkilis, it is all a matter of whether or not his back is feeling good. If his back is injury-free Youkilis knows what is expected out of him. Although they have been contributing early in the season, David Adams and Lyle Overbay will need to find a spot either on the bench or in the minors. For David Adams, I see a demotion coming his way. With Youkilis coming back the Yankees don't need three third basemen, as they already have Jayson Nix as a more than capable alternative. Overbay will most certainly stay on the team, but will be a nice pinch hitter/back-up first baseman to give Teixeira a day off in the field when he first returns.

The starting pitching has really what has held the Yankees so high in the standings thus far. Even though CC Sabathia is not pitching like an ace this year, pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda and David Phelps have stepped up when the team struggles to find answers. Because of those pitchers, the load is somewhat lifted off Sabathia's shoulders. However, CC still needs to find his stride if the Yankees want to be a true contender this season. Michael Pineda is slowly making his way back to the big club after being sidelined with a shoulder injury that required surgery last spring. Andy Pettitte is nearing a return to the Bronx as well after suffering an injury to his upper shoulder/back. Francisco Cervelli had the pins from his hand removed earlier in the week, meaning he is beginning real baseball activity. Look for Cervelli to return in the middle of June to give the Yankees more options behind the plate.

The Yankees relief situation has really been great this year, despite the bullpen blowing both leads late in the games over the past two days. The duo of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera have been a lethal combination for opposing batters this year, as most of the time they are left shaking their heads on their way back to the dugout. Joba Chamberlain who went on the DL two weeks ago is nearing a return as early as today. Aside from the best two relievers, Shawn Kelley and Preston Claiborne have been better than anyone would have hoped early on in the season. Kelley is striking batters out at an incredible pace and Claiborne is as cool as a cucumber despite pitching only a handful of innings in the Major Leagues.

Overall, the Yankees have been able to overcome the plethora of injuries that they have sustained early in the season but their holes are beginning to show. They are not scoring as many runs and are not winning as consistently as they were early on in the season. The timing of the returns of Teixeira and Youkilis couldn't have come at a better time, as the Yankees are in desperate need of an offensive spark to get the team going again.

Mets Stun the Yankees

Even the greatest closer of all time has his bad moments, and tonight was certainly one of them. The Great Mariano Rivera blew a save facing the heart of the Mets lineup, but quite frankly it doesn't matter. Mo was going to blow a save at some point in the year, and that time happened to come at a moment in which everything is magnified because of the aura of the Subway Series. To put it in laymen's terms,sometimes even a blind squirrel finds a nut. Tonight's win was not indicative of anything for the Mets. They are still an awful team and that was on display for the first eight innings of this game. They made terrible defensive miss cues, letting down their ace pitcher and could not get a big hit against Hiroki Kuroda to save their lives, or for that matter their season. With the win tonight the Mets sweep the Yankees out of Citi field and move to nine games below the .500 mark. Their season is not going anywhere as their holes are too glaring and they do not have the players they need that will make a difference in their season. Matt Harvey and David Wright are great center pieces but the Mets don't have another representative player on their entire 25 man roster. As for Mariano, cue the "he's getting old" remarks by casual fans. He will come out his funk by the time he makes his next appearance and he will get the job done, making all the nay-sayers look like fools.

As for the Yankees, this game did a lot to show what they are lacking. Hiroki Kuroda pitched his heart out, going seven strong innings and not allowing any runs to the Mets. However, the offense for the Yankees needs a spark. Over the last week the Yankees have had a hard time scoring runs. Tonight all they could muster was one run, mind you that they faced the best pitcher in the National League. Brett Gardner and Lyle Overbay can't do it by themselves. There needs to be a flow present in the Yankees lineup. The main player who is going through an awful slump right now is Robinson Cano, who also made an error tonight on a ground ball by Ruben Tejada. Cano's batting average is about to hit the .270's range and for Cano that is uncharted territory. In order for the Yankees lineup to remain a threat, Cano needs to step it up as the best offensive player on the Yankees. The Yankees could not have sustained their play all year with their current roster, and there are reinforcements on their way back to the lineup as Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira could both be back on Friday against the Red Sox. The pair of injured players couldn't have been coming back at a better time as the Yankees offense is scuffling and is desperately looking for answers.

The best the Yankees will hope to do is to sweep the Mets at Yankee Stadium over the next two days. Jeremy Hefner is going for the Mets. Hefner has been dreadful this year, owning an 0-5 record and an ERA of almost 5. David Phelps will make the start after his next appearance being in doubt because of a bruised arm that he suffered last week on a line drive in Tampa Bay. Phelps was pitching into the eighth inning in his last start, something he has not yet done in his Major League career, and will hope to pitch must like he did last week, tomorrow night against the Mets.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Yankees Lineup vs. Harvey

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Reid Brignac SS
Chris Stewart C
Hiroki Kuroda RHP

Monday, May 27, 2013

Yankees Offense Fails Again

After almost getting shut out yesterday against the Rays, the Yankees offense was again unable to score the necessary number of runs to give their starting pitcher a chance to win this game. Hughes was just about as good as the Yankees could have drawn it up, going seven strong innings and allowing just one run on a David Wright solo shot to lead off the seventh inning. After fouling off a few pitches against Hughes, Wright pulled one into the left field seats to tie the game at 1. As much as Yankee fans want to bury Hughes for coughing up leads, there was no room for Hughes to make a mistake tonight. He was working with a one run lead for an inning and knew that it would be difficult for him to keep the Mets scoreless all the way through. The home run by Wright was nothing but Hughes making one mistake that was magnified because of the score. Hughes is not an ace and has a tendency of giving up leads when his offense doesn't score him many runs. If the Yankees score him three or more runs in a start for Hughes, he wins at an incredible pace. If they don't score for him he loses. He is a fly ball pitcher who likes working with a lead. At some point down the line, Hughes is bound to give up a home run. His fly ball rate is incredible, and even spacious Citi Field couldn't hold the Wright bomb. Helping Hughes out on defense and offense tonight was none other than Brett Gardner, who tripled on a misplay by Duda in left field and would later come around to score. In the bottom of the inning, Gardner robbed Murphy of a two-run home run to center field by making a spectacular leaping grab at the top of the wall to preserve the Yankees one run lead.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, David Robertson was unable to keep the game tied in the eighth, as the feel for his pitches wasn't there. Robertson struck out Davis to begin the inning but followed the K with a fly ball grounds rule double by Mike Baxter. He would walk Jordany Valdespin, who pinch hit for pitcher Brandon Lyon. After a passed ball by Stewart that allowed the runners to advance into scoring position, Tejada grounded into a fielder's choice and Baxter was out at home plate. The very next batter, Daniel Murphy lined a single into center field to score Valdespin, giving the Mets a permanent lead. Robertson would plunk Wright and Logan replaced him to strike Duda out with the bases loaded. The Yankees couldn't score off Parnell in the ninth to suffer their second straight loss.

The Yankees are the only team in the Majors to not suffer a three game losing streak, so you have to figure they will bounce back tomorrow. The road to winning won't become any easier, as stud Matt Harvey gets the ball for the Mets. Harvey has been outstanding, but in his last start against the Reds he allowed four earned runs over seven innings to an explosive lineup. The Mets will face a great pitcher too, as Hiroki Kuroda brings his great ERA into Citi Field to try to turn the Yankees losing streak around.

Opener vs. Mets

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C
Phil Hughes RHP

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bombers Beaten as CC Struggles

Alex Cobb stifled the Yankees lineup today, allowing only two runs on five hits (four of which were legitimate). The Rays right hander has been money in the bank against the Yankees this year in two starts. Both of his starts against the Bombers have come at Tropicana Field where the Yankees still have not swept a three game series since 2005. There isn't much to say about Cobb. His changeup was unbelievable today and his curve was just as powerful. The Yankees were off balance all afternoon against Cobb and once again come away with almost nothing against the Rays pitcher. Why the Yankees can't hit Cobb this year amazes me, because the rest of the league isn't getting shut out by the pitcher at all. Despite his low ERA, teams still manage to beat him. The Yankees are still trying to figure him out. It is frustrating that a team that clearly has offensive ability gets shut down by an average pitcher twice in a season, and it's still only May. Hopefully the next time around at Yankee Stadium Cobb will be tamed by the Yanks order.

While the offense was struggling, Sabathia was having an awful game himself. The "ace" lefty pitcher allowed seven earned runs in seven innings pitched. He allowed two more home runs to the Rays offense and struggled in putting batters away. He also failed to cover first base on a play that would have given the Yankees two outs and would have avoided CC giving out a third run (at the time of the play). As the result of the game panned out, Sabathia was just plain awful. The only positive that you can take out of this game is that CC gave the bullpen a rest and took one for the team. He pitched seven innings, allowing seven hits and seven runs. Lucky number seven did not go in the way of CC Sabathia this afternoon. Sabathia has now not won a game in a month. His record against the Rays as a Yankee is a poor 3-10 in nineteen starts. The Yankees did not pay Sabathia all that money for him to lose nine games to a poor offensive club. Sabathia can't give any excuses as to why he pitches so poorly against Tampa Bay. He needs to get his act together and pitch like the ace the Yankees signed to an extension two years ago.

Despite all of today's ugly numbers for the Yankees they still manage to take the series from the Rays before heading into Queens for the Subway Series against the New York Mets. The first two games will be played at Citi Field, followed by two at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday. The Yankees should have no problem winning three out of four games against the Mets, who have been plain pathetic all season long.

Going for the Sweep

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Alex Cobb

Eduardo Nunez has suffered a setback. He tried to amp it up during batting practice and felt a little something. He will be shut down for a couple of days.

Kevin Youkilis said he is close to playing rehab games. He will push to be sent on a rehab assignment with Mark Teixeira. Teix could be activated as early as Thursday against the Mets.

Pitcher David Huff is activated and on the 25 man roster. Ben Francisco was DFA'd to make room on the roster. Finally, Francisco is gone.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yankees Come Away with Thrilling Win

This afternoon's game against the Tampa Bay Rays certainly had its twists and turns. Everything from close plays to blown leads; this game had it all. However, in the end the Yankees came out on top with nifty defensive plays and three timely hits that came at all the right moments in the game. Vidal Nuno was great again today after not starting for twelve days but he was matched up against lefty ace Matt Moore who leads the league in wins and a sub 3 ERA. Moore promptly gave the Yankees a lead in the first inning on a two-out single by Hafner, scoring Gardner from third. The Yankees would be blanked the rest of the way until the ninth inning came around. Matt Moore kept the Yankees at bay with one run allowed in six innings but his pitch efficiency would cost him the opportunity to pitch deeper into the game. The Rays scored two runs in the seventh inning, one of which came on a close play at the plate. Nevertheless the play would not make a difference in the long run.

The Yankees put on their rally caps in the ninth inning with two outs off struggling closer Fernando Rodney. With two outs and Lyle Overbay on first base Brennan Boesch hit a check-swing double that just landed in fair territory down the left field line. Boesch was called up today to replace Granderson, who was placed on the 15 day DL with a broken bone in his left hand. The very next batter, Brett Gardner slapped a line drive single into center field with two strikes. Rodney suffered his fifth blown save of the season, his second against the Yankees. He blew two saves all of last year. 

David Robertson didn't have great control in the bottom of the ninth, and with a runner on second a line drive off the bat of Yunel Escobar sliced into right field as Ichiro slid and made a sparkling catch to save the game for the moment. Ivan Nova came into the game to pitch the tenth and promptly loaded the bases but was able to escape with two strikeouts and a ground ball with two outs. Lyle Overbay was the hero of the game with a clutch solo home run to give the Yankees the lead in the eleventh that they wouldd hand over to Mariano Rivera. Rivera retired the Rays in order on nine pitches to collect the eighteenth save of his farewell season. 

Yanks lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. LHP Matt Moore

Another Granderson Injury in Yanks Blowout Win

Despite the Yankees blowing out the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field by a score of 9-4, there were several stories that had the potential to be devastating news for a Yankees team that has suffered more than their fair share of injuries this season. Curtis Granderson, eight games into his season since coming back from a fractured forearm, was plunked again and fractured his fifth metacarpal near the knuckle of his left pinky finger. Doctotrs he visited with in Tampa told him that he probably won't need surgery on the bone. However, Girardi already stated that Granderson will miss at least four weeks. This is crushing news for a player who came back from an almost identical injury just a week ago. Granderson has always been a class act, and these injuries are really testing his patience. Fortunately for Curtis he was raised well and always knows how to speak with the media without coming off as being selfish. Many players would be complaining in Granderson's place; Granderson is not most players though, and he will come back soon to start anew yet again. Aside from Granderson's injury, David Phelps was also hit hard by a come-backer in the eighth inning. Phelps was pitching well, and the deepest he'd even gone in a start. After speculation on what looked like a brutal hit on his forearm, doctors revealed that Phelps has nothing more than a bruised right forearm. When asked whether he would make his next start, Phelps emphatically said that he doesn't even doubt it.

Apart from the above injuries, the Yankees coasted past the Rays in their building. Tropicana Field has been a nightmare for the Yankees in recent years but Roberto Hernandez has been a pitcher the Yankees have feasted on in his Cleveland days. This was a recipe for success for the Yankees, who were on the verge of losing a third straight game for the first time this year. The 6-9 batters were the main reason for the offensive outburst, as they went a combined 8-18 with 5 RBI and a walk. Chris Stewart, who just returned from a groin injury amassed two hits including an RBI single in the fifth inning against Cesar Ramos. Lyle Overbay continues to be a miracle for the Yankees, as he drove in two runs and hit his eleventh double of the year. It will be a tough decision for Girardi to make when Teixeira comes back, which will likely be at the end of next week. Brett Gardner also drove in two runs with a home run in the fourth inning off pitcher Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona).

The Yankees will try to continue their dominance tomorrow as Vidal Nuno will make his second career start in the Major Leagues against lefty Matt Moore who is 8-0 with a 2.29 ERA through nine starts in the young season.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Stewart back in the lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Curtis Granderson CF
David Adams 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Roberto Hernandez

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kuroda Injury Overshadows Loss

Tonight's loss wouldn't have mattered as much if Kuroda was to be out due to injury for a significant amount of time. Kuroda was hit by a come-backer and didn't pitch particularly well afterwards. He was pulled in the third inning after showing signs of pain in his back. He grimaced when making pitches, and it was enough for Girardi and the training staff to pull him with runners on first and third with nobody out. Preston Claiborne came in and immediately served up a three run home run to Matt Wieters. The home run by the struggling catcher would turn out being the difference in the game as Adams would hit a home run to give the Yankees a third run in the ninth inning.
 
Kuroda's injury would later be classified as a bruised right calf. After the game Girardi told the media that he would be "shocked" if Kuroda didn't make his next start against the Mets on Tuesday at Citi Field opposite Matt Harvey. Kuroda is a vital part of the Yankees chase to 28. He is basically the ace of the Yankees staff and losing him for an extended period of time would be devastating for the Yankees going forward. So hearing from Girardi that Kuroda will likely make his next is a promising sign for the Yankees. 

The Yankees lost two out of three to an underwhelming Orioles team that was treading water before the Yankees came into town. Tomorrow the Yankees will have an off-day and will get back at it on Friday against Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. The Yankee have not played well in Tampa over the past couple of years. David Phelps will get the start on Friday. 

Gardner sits tonight

Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Reid Brignac SS
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Jason Hammel

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

McLouth Walks Off the Yankees

This was a tight game throughout, a see-saw affair that was never really tilting in one way or another. Baltimore was able to come out on top, breaking their six game losing streak in the tenth inning on a walk-off home run by Nate McLouth, who has been a scrappy player for the Orioles since they acquired him off the scrap-heap last season. Vidal Nuno served up the long ball to the left fielder to begin the tenth inning, and that home run was good enough for him to receive his first Major League loss. Nuno is a strike thrower, and the Baltimore scouting reports probably detailed as much. If you swing through the strike zone against a pitcher who throws nothing but strikes, you will run into one at some point. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasionally, and that's what the Oriole hitters did tonight in the later innings. Their swings were long, ferocious, and defensive. They were bound to hit a ball out of the park at one point. McLouth was just the man to do it for the O's, who are now 24-21 on the season. The Yankees fall to 28-17, still eleven games over .500 and will look to take the series tomorrow night with their 2013 ace, Hiroki Kuroda, on the mound.

Phil Hughes pitched well tonight, aside from the two solo home runs he allowed to former Yankee Chris Dickerson. Hughes struck out five batters in six innings of work and walked two. Once again, his pitch count was getting too high for him to come out to pitch the seventh. Also a deterrent, was that Dickerson was leading off the seventh inning for the Orioles. Hughes gets a no decision for his efforts tonight and his ERA is still ballooned at 5.51, something that will not get him a big money contract at the end of the year. If Phil Hughes is looking for a payday he has to stop allowing home runs to marginal players. He is a flyball pitcher who would be better suited in a park out west. I can see him pitching for the Mariners or the Padres. Heck, even the Mets should take a chance with their big dimensions. He just doesn't fit in ballparks like Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Camden Yards. If given the opportunity to pitch in bigger ballparks Hughes can be a solid number two starter in a rotation that needs stability behind their ace.

The Yankees will hope to earn a series win tomorrow evening as they will send out Hiroki Kuroda to pitch against the Birds. Jason Hammel will get the start for the Orioles. Hammel has been a solid pitcher, but the Yankees have the ability to get to him if they are aggressive to begin the game. Robinson Cano will be a key factor in determining how well the offense performs tomorrow night.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Non-Starter Provides Yanks with Winning Run

The story tonight (before Hafner's ninth inning homer) was CC Sabathia who was given three runs early in the game. However, Sabathia did not last long in this one by his standards. He surrendered eleven hits and unraveled in the seventh inning where he allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score on consecutive doubles by Nick Markakis and JJ Hardy. Sabathia's velocity is still sitting at about 90 MPH, which isn't a velocity that will fool hitters when he is not hitting his spots. Sabathia is left to rely on his off-speed pitches, which have been effective but work off of the fastball. If the fastball isn't working, the off-speed pitches will not work for many pitchers. Although Sabathia did not walk any batters, he only struck out two which is further proof that he wasn't fooling anybody today. In the first inning, he didn't give up any hits but that is courtesy of a couple of nice plays by his defense. Father Time is catching up to Sabathia, because giving up two leads in a gave is not something CC Sabathia and the Yankees are accustomed to. In the past, he was able to blow people away, which is not the case for the big lefty this season. Fortunately for him instead of getting a loss, CC settles with a no decision thanks to a Travis Hafner solo home run in the ninth inning to tie the game off closer Jim Johnson. Tonight was Johnson's third straight blown save in his last three save opportunities.
All of the above will be secondary to what the Yankees offense managed to do in the ninth and tenth innings. Travis Hafner pronked Jim Johnson in the ninth inning with a long home run to left field which tied the game at 4. He also provided the Yankees with an insurance run in the tenth inning by ripping an RBI single off lefty Brian Matusz. Hafner has always been clutch in his career, and if not for the injuries he could have been something really special.

Robertson came into the game to pitch the ninth and dominated the O's big boppers, keeping them all in the park and surrendering only an infield single to Adam Jones. In the top of the tenth inning, Ichiro doubled down the right field line to give himself a 20 game hitting streak at Camden Yards after beginning the game 0-3. After Romine's sac bunt to move Ichiro to third, Wells came up and his a grounds-rule double to left field and scored the go-ahead run before Hafner singled in another run, as mentioned in the above paragraph. Mariano Rivera came into the game and did the job for the seventeenth time this year to cap off a thrilling come-back win by the Yankees.

Wells sits

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson LF
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Reid Brignac SS
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Freddy Garcia

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Lineup vs. Dickey

Curtis Granderson CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Reid Brignac SS
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP RA Dickey

Today's game has been postponed due to rain. It will likely be made up on August 19th, a mutual off-day between the two teams. The three game series will turn into a four game set at the Stadium.

Vidal Nuno's start tomorrow against the Orioles will be skipped. CC Sabathia will start tomorrow's game followed by Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Cano and Phelps Ride Yankees to Victory

The start of the game was very foreboding, as David Phelps opened the first inning by walking two batters and was in danger of walking the bases loaded with two outs. However, Phelps caught Bautista sleeping at second base and picked him off to preserve the scoreless game in order for his offense to come out and score him some runs. The Yankees did just that, as Cano hit not one, but two two-run home runs off Toronto righty Brandon Morrow. The first home run just made the seats in the first row, an ultimate short porch home run. However, the second home run he hit hit the facing of the Yankees bullpen advertisements. Robinson Cano has been struggling recently, but today's home runs show why at any moment he can turn it around. Before the game, Hal Steinbrenner said that he was "optimistic" about extending Cano to a long-term deal before he hits free agency. Along with Cano, Travis Hafner hit a two run shot in the eighth inning, after fouling two home runs in earlier at-bats against Morrow. In the eighth, the Blue Jays played very sloppy defense which allowed Wells to get to first base on what should have been a groundout to shortstop. Hafner came up following Wells and jacked a two-run blast into the right field seats. Brett Gardner also slapped an RBI single to center field to score Jayson Nix in the third inning. Austin Romine collected another hit, as his bat is beginning to pick up speed as he gets comfortable with more playing time.

David Phelps gave the Yankees a career high seven inning pitched, allowing just one earned run in the process. There is no doubt that this was the best start of Phelps' career as he is trying to cement a spot in the starting rotation. The Yankees will have a dilemma when Ivan Nova comes off the DL, but you have to believe that Phelps will stay in there if he keeps giving them representative outings. David Robertson pitched the eighth inning and surrendered a solo home run to Edwin Encarnacion to cut the Yankees lead to three runs at the time. After Hafner's two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth, Mariano Rivera was able to sit down as the Yankees led by five runs. Boone Logan closed the game out by pitching a perfect ninth inning.

The Yankees have an American League best 18-0 record when scoring first in a game, which is also the best start in that category in American League history. Tomorrow is a battle of the aces as CC Sabathia will get the ball for the Yankees. RA Dickey will get the start for Toronto. Dickey has struggled in his transition to the American League, but things can change on a dime. That's why you play the game.

Granderson in right

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson RF
Jayson Nix SS
David Adams 3B
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Brandon Morrow

Friday, May 17, 2013

Kuroda Tosses Gem vs. Toronto

Hiroki Kuroda was the story of the night for the Yankees. Coming off a bad loss last night, Kuroda was able to turn the Yankees' fortunes around with a stellar eight inning shutout. Kuroda was masterful, allowing only two hits and one walk through eight brilliant innings. Kuroda allowed a double to lead off the game and surrendered only one more hit through the remaining portion of the game. He walked no batters in eight innings and was able to shut down a lineup that has been crushing pitchers over the last week. Kuroda taming a potent offense shows just how brilliant his performance tonight was.
The Yankee offense was able to get to Buehrle yet again. However, the young players were the keys to the game offensively tonight. Austin Romine and David Adams both collected two hits and each of the farm players had a dinner, with Romine also getting one of the Yankees five RBI tonight. Gardner is beginning to get hot, as he led tonight's game off with a triple on which he would score and drove in a run in the Yankees three run outburst in the seventh inning versus Mark Buehrle. With all of the Yankee injuries, it is crucial for the young players to contribute. Adams has already shown that he can hit, along with making some sparkling plays at third base. After a slow start offensively, Romine's bat is getting hot. 

The Yankees will try to keep their dominance against the Blue Jays going tomorrow when David Phelps takes the mound against hard-throwing Brandon Morrow. 

Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Mark Buehrle

Thursday, May 16, 2013

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming...

No, the Yankees did not win tonight's game. No, they didn't come up big when rallies were presented to them in perfect situations. They ended up losing the game by one run but that seems like an afterthought because of what happened tonight. The Yankees suffered two more key injuries in tonight's game. The rate at which these injuries are coming up for the Yankees is becoming laughable. Nobody can do anything about it, and the Yankees keep finding ways to win. When do too many injuries catch up with a team playing with nobody but backup players? These injuries will start to catch up with the Yankees. The only question is a matter of when. The Yankees will not be able to sustain this run that they are on for another month without more pieces coming back onto the Yankees roster. As tonight's game unfolded and Pettitte's injury came about I was pressed to wonder what the Yankees would do in their rotation if another starter went down. Pettitte left with two outs in the fifth inning with tightness in his left trapezius muscle, which is located between the neck and shoulder. That wasn't all in this whirlwind of a game for the Yankees. Chris Stewart was the next Yankee to get bitten by the injury bug in the seventh inning coming into third base on a Cano RBI infield single. It looked like Stewart pulled his groin, however he would finish out the bottom of the inning. Romine came on to catch beginning in the eighth inning, as Stewart was clearly not feeling great. Now the Yankees are quite possibly faced with the prospect of bringing up another catcher from the minor leagues. Bobby Wilson will likely get the call if Stewart goes to the DL. Another option would be to bring up JR Murphy from AA Trenton, having him skip AAA. Hopefully for the Yankees it doesn't need to come to that.

The Yankees lost the game 3-2, and Michael Morse's solo home run off Shawn Kelley in the sixth inning was the difference in the game. The two runs that the Yankees scored came on an RBI double by David Adams in the second inning off Hector Noesi and an RBI infield single by Robbie Cano in the seventh. Cano would ground out to end the game with the tying run on third base. Cano comes up clutch often, but late inning heroics have not been his thing lately.

The Yankees are coming off a tough series loss to the Mariners and welcome the red hot Blue Jays into Yankee Stadium for a three game set. Tomorrow, Hiroki Kuroda will try to continue his hot streak against Mark Buehrle, who the Yankees pounded his last time out against the Yankees.

Betances called up

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson DH
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Hector Noesi

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ibanez with a Reminder

Tonight, Raul Ibanez was the reason the Yankees didn't even try to score runs. In the first inning, Hughes allowed three first inning runs before Ibanez stepped to the plate. The former Yankee hero blasted a grand slam into the Yankees bullpen to put the Yankees in a very early 7-0 hole. Hughes would only last .2 innings, which is among the shortest Yankee starting pitching performances in almost a decade. Hughes is similar to what AJ Burnett was a couple of years ago. We all know that Hughes has the ability to throw seven strong innings every time out, but he stumbles at times and leaves the Yankees scratching their heads. Luckily for the Yankees, Hughes is a free agent after this year and they won't ever have to deal with his ups and downs again. He isn't worth to the Yankees what he would be worth to a team playing in a pitchers park.

There isn't much else to say about tonight's blowout loss at the hands of Raul Ibanez and the Mariners. However, both David Adams and Brett Marshall made their Major League debuts. Adams recorded one hit and Marshall pitched 5.2 innings, allowing five earned runs on ten hits. 

The Yankees will try to embarrass the Mariners the way the Mariners embarrassed the Yankees today in tomorrow night's finale at the Stadium. It will be Aaron Harang against lefty Andy Pettitte who pitched better in his last start against the Kansas City Royals. 

Adams makes ML debut

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells DH
Curtis Granderson LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
David Adams 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C
Alberto Gonzalez SS

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Comeback Team of 2013

When King Felix was handed a 1-0 lead thanks to a Lyle Overbay in the third inning you figured that would be all Felix would need. When Ibanez went deep off CC Sabathia in the sixth to score two more runs, you realized that the game was over. Felix Hernandez was cruising through the Yankees order until a play in the fourth inning where Overbay grounded to first and Hernandez was interfering with the runner's ability to reach first base. Overbay would have likely been out on the play anyway, but the Yankees caught a break. No runs would score in the inning. The Yankees caught another break when Overbay doubled to right field and the ball bounced off the top of the wall and came back into play, allowing Granderson to score from first base. Lastly, the Yankees biggest break of the night came in the eighth when Robertson was in a jam with runners on first and second with one man out. Justin Smoak lined into an unassisted double play when Nix stepped on the second base bag before the runner had time to scurry back to the base.

The Yankees are now 8-2 in one run games and are eleven games over .500 with backup players. It seems like everything is swinging in the Yankees' favor this year. The Yankees already have four come from behind wins when trailing in the seventh this year. They had eight such wins in total all of last year. Robinson Cano was certainly the hero of the game to drive in two runs against a lefty in the seventh to tie the game. Overbay did make an error in the field which led to a run but atoned for his error with two RBI, including a sac fly RBI to give the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish in the seventh inning. Mariano Rivera notched his sixteenth straight save of the season. He has saved eleven of the Yankees last sixteen games. The Yankees are playing close games and are coming out on top more times than not.

With the Orioles and the Red Sox losing games tonight, the Yankees gain a game in the standings on both of the aforementioned teams. They need to keep this momentum going tomorrow night when Phil Hughes takes the mound against the low scoring Mariners. Seattle righty Iwakuma will face the Yankees. Iwakuma is 4-1 with a 1.74 ERA this season, and the Yankees have done well against him in his short career in the Majors.

Granderson is back!

However Hafner is going for an MRI on his shoulder and will miss a few days...

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells DH
Curtis Granderson LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Nelson 3B
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Felix Hernandez

Monday, May 13, 2013

Bombers Pound Tribe in Game Two

The second game started with Vidal Nuno making his first start in the Major Leagues. Nuno is known for his strike-throwing ability and his tendency to pitch at a quick pace. One of the two characteristics were present, as Nuno kept his infielders on their toes by working quickly, and it seemed that as the game went along Nuno worked even quicker. The starter who almost quit baseball went five strong innings, allowing zero runs and striking out three batters, including Asdrubal Cabrera twice. One of the K's against Cabrera came in the fifth for the final out of the inning with runners at the corners. Nuno walked three hitters which is more than he walked in the Minors throughout April. I have to imagine that Nuno had butterflies, and his three walks were just an abnormality. I wouldn't be as sharp either if I was making my first career start in the Major League for the Yankees! Regardless, the right handed pitcher still pitched a scoreless five innings and the Yankees bullpen picked him up, which assured him of his first win in the big leagues. The pitching for the Yankees has been fantastic on this roadtrip, aside from Hughes in a blowout that went the Yankees way.

The Yankees offense went on a scoring spree in the seventh inning, knocking Bauer out of the game and scoring six runs to turn this into a laugher. Corban Joseph recorded his first Major League hit in the inning, and he was driven in by Austin Romine who picked up his first hit and RBI of the season. Just like Cashman drew it up in Spring Training...

Lyle Overbay capped the Yankees scoring in the seventh with a two-run double into the gap in right-center field. Vernon Wells also added two RBI to his season total. The Yankees burst out into a scoring spree in the second game of the straight double header but could not score anything in the first game against Justin Masterson. You can't predict baseball...

The Yankees come back home tomorrow night to face the Mariners. In the first game, CC Sabathia will match up against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez who has a sparkling 1.53 ERA early in the season. The Yankees will play the first of six straight home games against the Mariners followed by another series against Toronto.

Yanks Blanked in Game One

Justin Masterson was as dominant as any pitcher the Yankees have faced this year. The tall righty pitched a complete game shutout against the Yankees, just the first one thrown against the Yankees since last August when Felix Hernandez did so at Yankee Stadium. The only time that Masterson was in trouble came in the second inning when he loaded the bases but struck out Alberto Gonzales to end the inning, and essentially the offensive game for the Yankees in the first part of a double dip today. This is a game where you have to tip your cap to the opposing starting pitcher. The Yankees were out in a great position to win this ball game but the Indians had other ideas. Things like this happen, and when they do it is not a great feeling. The Yankees would have taken Phelps' performance every day of the week.

David Phelps was strong today after the fourth inning. The scoring for the game came in the first inning on a majestic home run by second baseman Jason Kipnis. Phelps went 6.2 innings, throwing 115 pitches and allowing just the one run. Phelps struggled initially, allowing five walks on the day but settled down after walking two men in the fourth inning. He would retire his next ten batters before allowing a double in the seventh inning. 

The Yankees have some work to do, as they don't want to get swept in a double header against a team they pounded in April. Vidal Nuno will make his first major league start. This will be the first time he's pitched since the end of April, so his command of the strike zone will be something the Yankees will be keeping track of. Trevor Bauer will make the start against the Yankees. Bauer has never faced the Yankees as he was traded to Cleveland from the Diamondbacks in the off-season. 

Lineup for first game

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Brennan Boesch RF
Chris Nelson 3B
Corban Joseph 1B
Chris Stewart C
Alberto Gonzales

SP: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Justin Masterson

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How Sweep it is!

The Yankees have just completed a series sweep of the Kansas City Royals in which they received clutch hitting, great pitching and stellar defense. It is fascinating to wonder that the Yankees have been winning all of these games with utility and older players who were forgotten and in some cases, considered retirement. Each day a different position player puts the Yankees on top with a clutch hit in a big spot. Today, Vernon Wells continued his torrid hitting with a solo shot to left and Cano looks like he is coming back to life after a minor slump. Cano drove a two-run home run to right field over the Royals bullpen for his tenth home run of the season and his sixth career home run against Royals starter Ervin Santana. The Yankees have a tendency of touching up Santana, as he is 0-6 in his last six starts against the Bombers. Santana began the game by pitching a quick and efficient first two innings but things began to fall apart for him as the long ball plagued him once again by the Yankees potent offense.

Hiroki Kuroda delivered a nice 7.2 innings of work this afternoon to improve his overall record to 5-2 with an ERA of 2.31, literally a tick up from when he began the game. After allowing a first inning run on a sac fly by Alex Gordon, Kuroda went on cruise control and did not allow the second run of the game until the eighth inning on an Alcides Escobar groundout to score Elliot Johnson. In his 7.2 innings of work Kuroda allowed just six hits and walked one batter. There are games in which Kuroda strikes out many batters however today he relied more on putting balls in play, specifically on the ground for his defense. The Yankees were lucky to get a sweep outside of Yankee Stadium against a team that is beginning to put it together. As the Yankees win their fifth straight, the Red Sox are struggling big time. The Sox lost today after getting routed by the Blue Jays, who are beginning to get hot. It was only a matter of time before the Toronto Blue Jays began to put it together. There is just too much talent on the team across the border for them to keep playing awful baseball.

The Yankees are ten games above the .500 mark for the first time this season and will try to up their streak to seven games after a straight double header against the Cleveland Indians tomorrow to make up for a pair of rainouts in April. The Indians are playing very well, as they are tied with the Tigers for the lead in the AL Central, winning today's game in ten innings at Comerica Park. David Phelps will pitch the first game tomorrow which begins at 12:05. Pitching for the Tribe will be Justin Masterson who is having himself a solid year.

Yankees go for the sweep

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Nelson 3B
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Ervin Santana

Update: SS Eduardo Nunez was placed on the 15-day DL with ribcage tightness. The Yankees have called up SS Alberto Gonzalez from AAA and he will be with the Yankees today. Mark Teixeira was moved to the 60-day DL.

Yankees Win Fourth Straight

The Yankees were able to out-slug the Royals in last night's game but tonight they were able to earn a victory by keeping it a close game throughout. Temporarily the Yankees trailed after Andy Pettitte gave up two runs in the early-going but were able to rebound when Vernon Wells hit a two-run home run to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead that they would put in the hands of Mariano Rivera, who notched his fourteenth save of the season. Rivera has been used a lot this year, mainly because the Yankees are not blowing teams out as much as they used to. Nevertheless, Rivera has done the job successfully all fourteen times he has been called upon. Every night a key player steps up and puts the Yankees on his back. Vernon Wells did the honors tonight after Overbay picked the Yankees up in last night's game. Brian Cashman deserves a lot of credit because the men who are winning games are the spring pickups that people (myself included) laughed at. Wells and Overbay have impressed me, because their careers were essentially over but they were able to revitalize themselves in the pinstripes. With the Yankee pinstripes comes an element of accountability, where if you do not do the job the Yankees will not hesitate in letting you go. The Yankees are in the business of winning and unlike the Mets, they can't afford a first baseman who can't hit his weight for the first month and a half of the season.

Andy Pettitte was by all means not vintage tonight but his seven innings of allowing only two runs gave the Yankees a huge lift in a game that puts them in position to sweep the series tomorrow afternoon. Pettitte was laboring early, already having thrown over 80 pitches by the fourth inning. He pulled himself together after earning the lead back and did what Andy Pettitte usually does; he gave a gritty performance and did not allow any further damage after the Butler home run in the fourth. This is the seventieth time in Pettitte's career that Mariano Rivera saved a game that he started, by far the most in the history of Major League Baseball. That statistic is special, mostly because in order to team up for so many wins both pitchers have to be good through an extended period of time. If Pettitte didn't leave to Houston for three years he would own many pitching statistic categories in Yankees all-time lists.

As the Yankees go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon, they will send Hiroki Kuroda to the mound opposite former Angel Ervin Santana. Santana gives up a lot of home runs, and the Yankees like to hit them. This should call for a fun match-up as the Royals try to stop the Yankees from sweeping them in their own building.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Saturday lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Nelson 3B
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP James Shields

Yankees Offense Comes to Life

After three games of futility in the run scoring department the Yankees came out in Kansas City and showed why they are still a force to be reckoned with. Lyle Overbay had a game that will certainly stand out in his career as he collected four hits in five at bats with five runs batted in. Overbay began his night by hitting a two run home run off Kansas City starter, Wade Davis. He followed his home run with an RBI double and hit another double in the sixth inning facing lefty Bruce Chen which scored Ichiro Suzuki. He capped off his renaissance night by collecting an RBI single to give the Yankees lead some padding. Also coming up big in tonight's game was Ichiro Suzuki who went 3-5 with a home run and two RBI. Chris Nelson collected his first two runs batted in as a Yankee and Brett Gardner showed something with two hits including a run scoring triple in the top of the sixth inning when he was driven in by Robinson Cano on a single one batter later. The offense has not been blowing teams away this year but tonight goes to show that anyone has the ability to step up and put on a show. Lyle Overbay hasn't hit since 2010 but this year he has something to prove and is finding the perfect opportunity to do so in a Yankee uniform. The same goes for Chris Nelson and to a lesser extent, Ichiro.

Phil Hughes was essentially a non-factor in this game, pitching 5.2 weak innings, allowing two home runs in the process to balloon his season ERA to 4.43. Hughes got the win but Shawn Kelley was the pitcher of the game. Kelley pitched 2.1 perfect innings and at one point he struck out five straight hitters. He finished his night with six strikeouts and a slightly lower ERA. The Yankees bullpen came up big tonight, continuing their scoreless streak at 12.1 innings, meaning they have not allowed a single run to score in four straight games. Robertson and Mariano were unavailable in today's game meaning the lesser relievers had to step in and eat innings for the Yankees, who had a comfortable lead in the latter portion of the game. The pitching is what has been keeping the Yankees afloat most of the time because the offense does not score many runs in most games. This game was one of the more relaxing for the Yankees because they had a nice lead and scored a ton of runs. Girardi was also
able to enjoy it a little more knowing that this game was his 500th win as manager of the New York Yankees.

The Yankees will try to make it four in a row tomorrow evening as they will face James Shields, who has not pitched well against the Yankees as a Tampa Bay Ray. Andy Pettitte will make the start against a young Kansas City offense, many of whom have never faced the southpaw in their short careers.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lineup at KC

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Nelson 3B
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Wade Davis

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cano Collects 1500th Hit in Win

In a game that took the Yankees nearly five hours to complete they come away with a victory and a series win at Colorado, who only gave up six runs to the Yankees in three games which was still good enough for the Yankees. The Yankees offense wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders in this series but they were able to get the hits that mattered in the latter two games of the set. The Rockies pitching is not the best in the league which shows just how the Yankees scratched to get the six runs they scored in the series. If the pitching was suspect for the Yankees in this series they would have suffered a sweep at the hands of the Rockies. The Yankees pitching did the Rockies one better by allowing five runs through the series to the Rockies offense. That translated to a Yankees series victory.

The offense was again, limited but came through when it mattered today. Vernon Wells continued his hot hitting in Colorado with an RBI single to right-center to score Jayson Nix in the first inning. Chris Stewart drove in the second run with a sac fly and Robinson Cano gave the Yankees an insurance run that they eventually wouldn't need with a solo home run, his 1,501th Major League hit. His 1,500th hit came on a bouncer into the second base hole. It's funny how milestone hits pan out sometimes. Hopefully Cano has another 1,500 hits left in him as a member of the Yankees.

CC Sabathia started the game, pitching four innings before the flood gates opened up for a two hour rain delay. When it was all said and done, Adam Warren came in to pitch in relief for 1.2 innings, earning the win, his first in the Major Leagues. David Robertson came in to clean up a mess that Claiborne got into when he struck out the go-ahead run in the seventh (Todd Helton) and pitched a scoreless eighth inning, leading to Mariano Rivera collecting his 13th save of the season. Mariano is a perfect 13/13 this season.

The Yankees roll into Kansas City this weekend for a three game set against the now struggling Royals. Phil Hughes will make the start for the Yankees. Wade Davis will pitch against the Yankees for the first time as a Kansas City Royal. The Yankees have faced him on many occasions back in his days with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Lineup; CC bats ninth

Brett Gardner CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco RF
Chris Nelson 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C
CC Sabathia P

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Circus Game Goes the Yankees Way

It all started in the first inning when Gardner reached first on a single, stole second then was driven in by Vernon Wells who went 3-4 after going into somewhat of a slump lately. After the first inning, the Yankees would not score another run until the ninth inning. Half of the hits collected by the Yankees were via a Vernon Wells base hit or home run. Wells would also be the deciding run in the ninth when the Yankees scored the go-ahead run. Gardner is beginning to look like he is finding himself at the plate, with another stolen base and a walk along with a base hit. Gardner is a key to the Yankees offense because he provides the team with the speed element that they have been lacking virtually all season. Even with the big boppers out of the lineup, the Yankees are still hitting home runs in almost every game and winning most of those games.

In the ninth inning, Rafael Betancourt loaded the bases and Girardi sent Travis Hafner out to pinch hit for Chris Nelson. Hafner struck out swinging, and the Yankees found themselves without a third baseman in the bottom of the ninth. Following the Hafner strikeout, Girardi pinch hit for Robertson with Brennan Boesch, who has found himself to be a bench player for the Yankees even with all the injuries. Nevertheless, Boesch hit a ground ball to third base and hustled out of the box, managing to just beat the throw to first on an awkward slide into the base. With two outs, this allowed Vernon Wells to score from third as the Yankees go-ahead run with three outs left to record by Mariano Rivera.

David Phelps was solid for the Bombers today by pitching six strong innings and allowing only two runs on a Todd Helton two-run home run in the second inning. The tie score would hold up until the ninth inning, when the Yankees scored the winning run on a hustle single by Boesch.

Oh, and the third baseman for the bottom of the ninth inning was none other than Vernon Wells, who converted the second out of the inning with Mariano Rivera on the mound. The player of the game was clearly Vernon Wells, who is beginning to show that he is coming out of his slump. Mariano pitched the ninth and converted his twelfth save of the season in twelve chances.

Phelps batting eighth

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix SS
Chris Nelson 3B
David Phelps P
Austin Romine C

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

When it Rains it Pours

On a rain soaked evening in Denver, Colorado, all the Yankees were able to accomplish was four base hits (all singles). In the two situations where the Yankees had a runner in scoring position they were not able to come up with the big hit. All the Yankees needed to do was to go out and give Kuroda who has been their ace all season, at least one run to work with so he would not have to be so fine with his pitches. Granted, Kuroda was rolling through the Rockies lineup through the first six innings before he allowed the two run blast to CarGo. That home run was the difference in the game, and there is not much else to say about tonight's Yankees loss. Kuroda was fantastic, by only allowing two runs in seven innings but those two runs ended up costing the Yankees a victory tonight. I have to believe the Rockies pitching is not as good as the Yankees made them look tonight. Entering today's game the Rockies had a team ERA of 3.87 which is respectable but does not impress you.

After a game like tonight the Yankees will be ready to swing tomorrow and expect a high scoring game on the horizon when David Phelps and RHP Juan Nicasio toe the rubber. The Yankees will have a bad taste in their mouths and the Rockies offense is not impressive aside from Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki whenever he re-enters the lineup.

Lineup at Colorado

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Jayson Nix SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Ben Francisco RF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Nelson 3B
Chris Stewart C
Hiroki Kuroda P

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Close but no Cigar

You can point to a number of things and call that the reason for the Yankees losing today. Whether it is Cano's key error early in the game to allow a runner to score from second on a groundout, Jayson Nix's inability to get any hits with runners in scoring position, or Andy Pettitte's ineffectiveness. With all of that being said, the Yankees were gritty in today's game and it never felt like they were out of it. They kept battling and coming back but the knockout punch was delivered in the eighth by Josh Donaldson of the A's on a go-ahead solo home run. Following that home run allowed by Boone Logan, the Yankees could not score as Wells made the last out of the game following a Gardner base hit and an intentional walk to Robinson Cano. The Yankees were 3-8 with runners in scoring position but were still unable to come out on top as opposed to the A's who were 0-9 with RISP but were able to win by hitting three home runs.
Another positive taken from this game was reliever Preston Claiborne's Major League debut. Claiborne was originally drafted by the Pirates in 2006, but did not sign and was ultimately drafted by the Yankees four years later. The young righty pitched two perfect innings for the Yankees, but since Robertson was unavailable Girardi went to Logan in the eighth who gave up the home run. Andy Pettitte has been shaky since Tuesday's start against the Astros. He gave up three earned runs in five innings of work today as he left with a high pitch count. Pettitte may need to get skipped because he is pitching with what looks like fatigue. He is the oldest starter in baseball, and he needs to rest every once in a while in order to remain effective.

The Yankees go 7-3 on the home stand and are heading to Colorado to face the Rockies for three games after a day off tomorrow. Hiroki Kuroda will try to continue his dominance against a Rockies lineup that can hit in a high altitude climate. Jorge De La Rosa will pitch against the Yankees in the opening game.

Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Dan Straily

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Hughes Masterful in Yankees Win

Phil Hughes is the story today for the Yankees Hughes pitched eight shutout innings, throwing 117 pitches (81 strikes). He struck out nine batters to match his season high which he set last Sunday against the Blue Jays. However, in today's game Hughes stuck around long enough to pitch an all-around dominant game. Last week Hughes was good but he did not have economical innings, which has been his Achilles' heel throughout his young career as a starting pitcher. If the Yankees can get what Hughes gave them today, at least ten more times this season then the Yankees will be in great position to make the postseason. Hughes
has always been a wildcard for the Yankees, in that he has the ability to be a number two starter but falls back when he allows too many home runs and cannot pitch past the sixth inning. Jorge Posada called Hughes "little Roger" early in his career. The fans have yet to see Hughes pitch like Clemens but today is one time when you can understand what Posada was talking about. His fastball reached 95 MPH today and he had countless swings and misses by a potent A's lineup. The A's entered the game leading the majors in runs and extra base hits. Hughes' ability to curb the offense today showed what Hughes has hidden in his arsenal, but does not display very often.

The offense stood behind Hughes today, clubbing two solo home runs followed by a couple of run scoring singles by Hafner and Gardner. Chris Stewart hit his second home run of the season, and it was not a cheap long ball. The ball made it about ten to fifteen rows into the lower deck in left field. Lyle Overbay opened the fifth inning against Bartolo Colon by clubbing the first pitch he saw deep to right field, his fifth home run of the year. Kudos to the Yankees all around in this afternoon's win. They received pitching by Hughes and power by a couple of guys who aren't known as home run hitters. This is the type of win that makes a fan feel good about their team, and I'm sure the Yankees have to be feeling good right now, too.

In tomorrow's rubber game, Andy Pettitte will try to bounce back after an awful outing against the Astros on Tuesday. Young Dan Straily will make the start for the Athletics, who want to get out of Yankee Stadium with a series win. Pettitte should make it tough for the A's to accomplish this, as he typically bounces back after bad starts.

Lineup: Nelson makes Yankee debut

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Nelson 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Bartolo Colon

Bombers Offense Shut Down

The Oakland A's pitching stunned the Yankees offense, which has been producing in clutch moments in essentially every game they win. Tonight they lacked that magic to come back on the Athletics, who only scored two runs themselves. CC Sabathia was not sharp tonight, pitching six innings of two run ball and struggling to throw strikes effectively. Despite only giving up the two runs, Sabathia looked weak out of the gates. Oakland was waiting out Sabathia's pitches and worked good hitters counts against the big lefty. CC was able to escape many jams tonight, which is what an ace does but even if he only gave up one run, he would have come up as the loser. The Yankees offense has a tendency of doing well against dominant pitchers but stumble when they see an average to below average starter, like today. This was a game in which the offense needed to score for Sabathia and let him bring it home but without any runs it's difficult to pitch like an ace.
The Yankees need to come out swinging tomorrow afternoon, and not scatter a hit every other inning. If the Bombers want to win this series against an A's team that came into Yankee Stadium struggling, the offense needs to wake up because the pitching has been there for majority of the time. I would take two runs allowed by Yankees pitching every day of the week because chances are that your team will win if your pitching allows no more than two runs per game, with today clearly being the outlier to the mean.

A positive that the Yankees take away from tonight is that the rest of the AL East did just as badly as the Yankees played, meaning the Yankees do not drop back in the standings. Phil Hughes will step on the mound tomorrow still looking for his first win of the season. Former Yankee Bartolo Colon will make the start for the A's.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lineup vs. Oakland

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix 3B
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. AJ Griffin

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yankees Edge the Astros

I would be very concerned about the Yankees if they did not manage a win in tonight's game. The Yankees came out to an early lead against Houston tonight, then Phelps promptly gave up the lead in the fourth inning by hitting batters and allowing sharp base hits. The Yankees were not able to manage to get any clutch hits in the latter portion of tonight's game but were able to score the run which ended up making a difference in the score. Ichiro's ground ball in the seventh inning was the difference in tonight's game and probably the series. Ichiro has been hitting all over the place lately which is an encouraging sign for Yankees fans and management, alike. Also, the bullpen was lights out tonight. Boone Logan went a dominant 1.1 innings in relief of Phelps who did not get a decision in the game. Boone Logan would turn out to be the winning pitcher shortly after getting winning decision earlier in the week when the Yankees came back to score after Logan's departure from a game in the latter innings.

Robinson Cano continues hit hot hitting by blasting another home run to give him eight for the season and the 185th of his Yankee career, tying him with Paul O'Neill for 17th place on the Yankees all-time home run leaders. Cano is a commodity that needs to be cherished and hopefully the Yankees brass feels the same way about the slugger. Ben Francisco, who will likely be released when Ronnier Mustillier gets healthy, hit his first home run of the season tonight, a wall scraper in left field that helped the Yankees ultimately get the win tonight.

The Yankees have taken the series from the Houston Astros and after an off-day tomorrow will welcome the Oakland Athletics into Yankee Stadium for a three game set beginning Friday night. AJ Griffin will pitch for the A's while CC Sabathia will get the ball for the Yankees. The A's have struggled since their hot start and the Yankees will try to take advantage of that.

Gardner sits; Francisco in right

Ichiro Suzuki CF
Jayson Nix 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Ben Francisco RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP David Phelps vs. LHP Erik Bedard