It all ended on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs with Shawn Kelley on the mound, Mark Ellis at the plate and Andre Ethier on second base after stealing the bag on a bad throw by Chris Stewart. This game could have gone either way but the Yankees offense continues to be sluggish. The Yankees only pounded out five hits and scored two runs, both of which were thanks to Lyle Overbay. Overbay hit a solo home run off Grienke and grounded out with a runner at third to score the Yankees second run. The Yankees had a chance in the sixth inning with Ichiro on second base with one out but the next two hitters failed to drive in what would be the winning run of the game.
What makes this loss even worse is that the Yankees wasted a brilliant starting pitching performance by Andy Pettitte. Pettitte fired seven strong innings, allowing just two runs on a Juan Uribe solo home run in the second inning and a Hanley Ramirez RBI single in first inning. Pettitte didn't walk any batters and struck out three but was able to get help from his defense on several occasions. By the way Pettitte was pitching, he could easily have gone out to begin the eighth inning. However, the Yankees went to David Robertson who also dazzled. Robertson faced the heart of the order in the eighth (Puig, Gonzalez and Ramirez). David struck out Puig on three pitches and went through the core of the Dodgers lineup on nine pitches. Unfortunately for the Yankees, Shawn Kelley allowed a bloop hit in the ninth and the Dodgers walked off on the Yankees who continue to be offensively challenged.
For the final chapter of the Dodgers-Yankees series, both teams will send their best to the mound. The Yankees will send Hiroki Kuroda to pitch against a lethal Dodgers lineup while the Dodgers will counter with ace Clayton Kershaw. The lefty has an ERA under 2 and both starters have ten wins on the season. After falling back another game in the standings, the Yankees almost desperately need a win in Los Angeles tomorrow night.
The Yankees latest acquisition made a huge contribution today, hitting a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to score Brett Gardner. Sorinao had gone 0-8 in his first two games back with the Yankees but today his bat woke up with four hits and three RBI including a two-run home run in the third inning. Coming into the game, Soriano had a .249 batting average but after his four hit day that number climbs to .256. Soriano will be a key cog in the Yankees lineup going forward because of the protection that he provides for Cano as well as his ability to come up with clutch hits. In the Yankees were to lose this game they would drop to nine games behind the Rays in the standings. Instead they are only seven games out and only 2.5 games out of the second wildcard position. Soriano's old buddy Derek Jeter also had a coming out party today for his first game back since suffering the quad strain after one game back just over two weeks ago. Derek would make a splash in his first game back by drilling a home run to right field on the first pitch he saw. But really folks, would you expect any less of the captain? He has always had the knack for the dramatic (See: 3,000th hit game). Brett Gardner had the key at bat of the game in the ninth inning for working a full count on hard throwing lefty Jake McGee and earning a walk against the flamethrower. His walk allowed speed on the bases and gave the Yankees a better chance because Rays manager Joe Maddon began strange maneuvering to pitch around Jeter to face Cano. Maddon had a right handed pitcher in the bullpen who was ready but instead opted to stick with McGee who had thrown an excess of 30 pitches. to pitch to Alfonso Soriano.
Phil Hughes pitching badly will be on the backburner, but he didn't help his trade value after the start. Hughes was given a 3-0 lead early and gave it all back on two Wil Myers home runs. The first home run was a three-run shot and the second one came with nobody out in the fifth inning. Hughes would be removed after walking the very next batter. Hughes' line was 4 IP, 9 H, 5R/ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. Those are frightening numbers for Hughes who was pitching better of late. It seems like whenever Hughes is given run support he doesn't know how to pitch but when it's a scoreless game he holds down the opposition. Luckily for the Yankees, this may have been his last start with the team. The Yankees are surely looking for a team that wants to take him as a half season rental. However, if I'm an opposing team I would have to be almost receiving him as a gift to find any value in Hughes. Therefore if I'm the Yankees, he is more valuable to my team for the rest of the year as opposed as almost giving him away for half a season.
The Yankees will enjoy a day off tomorrow in Los Angeles before entering Dodger Stadium for a mini series against the red hot Dodgers. On Tuesday, a struggling Andy Pettitte will match up against the recently surging Dodgers offense while Zach Grienke will pitch against the Yankees. Grienke has not pitched well against the Yankees in his career which should bode well for the Bombers coming off this thrilling win against the Rays.
The story, aside from the Yankees not being able to score any runs, was Chris Archer. The rookie right hander blanked the Yankees through the entire game as he was able to go the distance and shut out the Yankees, allowing just two hits and striking out six batters. He was not able to strike many guys out but relied on the movement of his slider to stifle the Yankee bats. The bats didn't need much of his help as they have struggled throughout the entire season. Today's shutout is the eighth time this season that the Yankees have been blanked in a game. The only two hits that Archer allowed were to Lyle Overbay to break up his no-hitter in the fifth inning. Brett Gardner was the only other batter who connected on a pitch thrown by Chris Archer. He doubled with two outs and Ichiro failed to drive him home as he struck out of a check-swing.
It's a shame that the Yankees couldn't score for Ivan Nova who continues to deal. Nova went seven innings, allowing just one run on an RBI single to Kelly Johnson in the sixth inning. Nova walked three batters and struck out eight in seven innings of work but it wasn't enough as the Yankees couldn't back his effort, much like they have been unable to do for any pitcher. Nova's record falls to 4-4 even though it should be 6-2 after the Yankees failed to score for him in two of his recent starts. Nova was impressive today and got out of trouble in innings where the Rays threatened. What was especially impressive about Nova was his fourth inning. After allowing a leadoff double to Wil Myers followed by a walk to James Loney, Nova struck out three straight straight batters to get out of the inning unscathed. Despite not earning a win today Nova's ERA has lowered from 3.66 to 3.41. If this is the Ivan Nova that the Yankees will get for years to come, I like their chances to win with him. He is the real deal and when he struggles it frustrates you because you know that he has so much potential.
Tomorrow will be a day to celebrate for the Yankees as Hideki Matsui will make his return to the Yankees on a one-day minor league deal. The Yankees will be giving out his bobble head and Matsui should return to a thundering ovation. Maybe Matsui can inject some life into the offense... Thirteen game winner Matt Moore will pitch against the Yankees tomorrow afternoon and Derek Jeter should be in the lineup as Girardi said Derek went through his simulated game okay. Phil Hughes who has been pitching well lately, will make the start and hope to avoid his tenth loss of the season against only four wins.
Tonight was the third time this season that Sabathia pitched poorly against the Rays lineup. There aren't many guys in there who intimidate you. Longoria is really the only big hitter in the lineup but they are still finding ways to score ten runs per game and are winning at an incredible pace. Sabathia didn't last long in the game by his standards, going only five innings and giving up seven earned runs in the process. The first inning came and went easily for Sabathia but the second inning really hurt the lefty as he gave up a 6-spot to the Rays and the Yankees were never really given a chance to fight back because of the overwhelming deficit. The lefty's record has now gone to .500 (9-9). Sabathia's ERA is also climbing, approaching the five mark which is something that is uncharted territory for the lefty. Unlike Pettitte, Sabathia is transitioning into a finesse pitcher who relies on changing speed and locating better on his pitches. He can no longer blow batters away with a 96 MPH fastball. His fastball sits at around 90 MPH and he has to learn to locate if he wants to be successful in he remainder of his contract with the Yankees. The team needs him to return to his old self because the Sabathia pitching for the Yankees this year is nothing near what he has done for them in four years prior to this disastrous one. If you asked Sabathia, he would probably tell you that this is the most frustrated he's ever been in his career.
Rafael Soriano's reunion with the Yankees didn't begin as nicely as he would have liked it to. As the left fielder, Soriano went 0-5 but drove in a run and scored a run. The Yankees need Soriano to make things happen in that barren lineup that Girardi is sending out every night. The Yankees showed you something tonight as they were able to chip away in the latter innings to make Joe Maddon use his closer. Even though Rodney was only used for one out Maddon will think twice before pitching him tomorrow and on Sunday. Girardi took Cano out of the game after his third at-bat and David Adams did well as his replacement, going 2-2 with two RBI. The Yankees will take offense from anyone who is willing to provide it. Travis Hafner continues his struggles. His average now stands at .205 and the Yankees are getting closer to parting ways with the designated hitter. After acquiring Soriano from the Cubs, the Yankees don't have a real need for a left-handed DH. The majority of at bats at the designated hitter position will be used by Soriano, Jeter and Alex Rodriguez if he returns.
Chris Archer and Ivan Nova will square off tomorrow afternoon in the Bronx for a matinee. The Yankee bats need to back Nova who has pitched very well since coming off the disabled list. Archer has pitched great since his promotion after a rough start.
This has been floating around the media for the past couple of days but the trade is getting closer. The Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Alfonso Soriano from the Chicago Cubs. Soriano is getting paid through next season to play for the Chicago Cubs and his contract is what has been holding this process up. Soriano is due about $25 million through next season and the Yankees don't want to have to pay a majority of the contract. What is a likely situation for the Yankees is that they will pay him $5-$8 million for the remaining time left on his contract and will probably pay the majority this year to avoid the luxury tax that goes into effect next season. The salary situation is similar to what held the Yankees from acquiring Vernon Wells from the Angels. In the end the Yankees settled on a deal with the Angels that would have the majority of Wells' contract paid to him this year.
The Yankees are in desperate need of a right handed power hitter. Soriano has provided that for the Cubs, even at the age of 37. Soriano has 17 home runs this year to go along with a .254 batting average, however it would still be an upgrade over what the Yankees have in their lineup right now. The last right handed hitter on the Yankees to homer was Jayson Nix on June 25th-- over a month ago. Soriano has an .806 OPS vs. left handed pitchers this year as opposed to the Yankees .564, which is the lowest for RH's against LHP's since the 1947 Washington Senators. Soriano has an .860 OPS in his career against left handed pitchers.
This is only a quick fix to the Yankees needs but it will have to get the job done as the stretch run is here and the Yankees don't seem to know what will happen with Alex Rodriguez this year. Overall, this could be a great deal for both parties involved. Soriano is a hard worker and is well-liked in the clubhouse. A reunion with the Yankees could bring a spark back into his game. In addition, he is much improved in left field and is a capable option for the Yankees. However, the Yankees see him as more of a designated hitter.
And heroic he was indeed, delivering seven innings of scoreless ball against the always dangerous Texas Rangers. Kuroda passed through a couple road blocks along the way but in the end came out victorious as he earned his tenth win of the season against only six losses. With the seven scoreless innings, his ERA lowers from 2.65 to an even more impressive 2.51. If the Yankees feel like they are out of the race, Kuroda would be a great chip to trade to an interested team and the Yankees could fetch a high prospect for the Japanese right hander who will probably end up pitching in Japan next year anyway. The leverage that Kuroda has provided the Yankees with this year has been unbelievable and without two blown saves by Mariano Rivera he would be at twelve wins, easily making the All-Star team which he was snubbed from. Kuroda is very much in the Cy Young conversation solely because of his ERA. As King Felix proved in 2010, you don't have to have a high win total to win the Cy Young award for the league. If Kuroda can perform as he has in July, in a month where his ERA was until 1 run, he has a shot to win the award. The National League Cy Young front-runners are clearly Matt Harvey and Clayton Kershaw but the American League is wide open. King Felix is thought to be the favorite but he has not run away with the honor. Kuroda has a chance to overcome Hernandez in the voting if he can pitch the Yankees into a playoff run. A starting pitcher's presence isn't felt too much down the stretch but as CC Sabathia did with the Brewers in 2008, Kuroda could fetch a team MVP award in the 2013 season.
The offensive and defensive player of the game today was catcher Austin Romine, who threw out a base-stealer in the sixth inning rather easily in Ian Kinsler. Romine also went 3-4 at the plate with a double and a run scored. The backup catcher is really beginning to come into his own after recent success at the plate and behind it, too. Brent Lillibridge again came up with the big hit to put the Yankees on the board with a double in the sixth following Romine's double. The Yankees would tack on another run on an RBI groundout by Eduardo Nunez in the seventh inning. Derek Holland was the hard luck loser in this one, but he gets a taste of his own medicine after shutting the Yankees out in Yankee Stadium to leave Phil Hughes the loser who also pitched a great game in the Bronx roughly a month ago.
The Yankees schedule doesn't get any easier from here as they go home for three games against the Rays. Luckily for the Yankees they will not face David Price but get another tough customer in Chris Archer who is 5-3 with an ERA under 3 in his rookie campaign. CC Sabathia will try to notch his tenth win of the season while also trying to lower his ERA which stands at an inflated 4.37. Sabathia is in a transitioning phase in his career and I expect the 2013 season to be just a blip in his Hall of Fame worthy pitching career.
Challenged is an understatement for the offense that the Yankees were able to generate against Matt Garza in his first start with the Rangers. He didn't have any jitters and got down to business, meaning the Yankees were in trouble from the first inning on. Garza went 7.1 innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits and five strikeouts. The one unearned run came in the sixth inning thanks to a throwing error on Garza on a ground ball by Brett Gardner. Matt Garza threw the ball away and it rolled down the right field line, allowing Gardner to advance to third base. He would get driven in by Cano on a single. Aside from the sixth inning run the Yankees were not able to score anything in any other inning. Gardner and Cano both picked up two hits. The rest of the Yankee lineup collected two. One coming from Wells and the other by Overbay. The bottom half of the lineup contributed nothing to the game offensively, leaving Pettitte little to nothing to work with in terms of wiggle room. The moment that Pettitte gave up the first inning run I knew that the Yankees would have a difficult time catching up to the Rangers. Andy has not been dandy since June and because of the recent slide, now has a 7-8 record. In eighteen years, Andy Pettitte has never had a losing season. However, with this offense behind him he may be headed in that direction. Regardless, Pettitte deserves better than what he gets from the Yankees. He is always on the wrong end of 3-1 losses and his record suffers because of it. Granted, Pettitte has been giving a lot more hits recently but he still manages to get the big out when he needs it. What needs to be brought up is that Andy is no longer a young man in baseball terms. He is 41 years old and his body may be tiring after half of a season. I don't know what Pettitte has left in the tank but I sure hope he finds whatever he has left, and quick before the Yankees are any further out of the playoff race.
In tomorrow's finale the Yankees will try to earn a split against the Rangers before coming home for three games to play the Tampa Bay Rays. The pitching matchup will be one to keep an eye on as two aces throw in Hiroki Kuroda and Derek Holland. The last time Holland pitched against the Yankees, he went the distance in a shutout of the Yankees. This time around the Yankees want to get on him, score some runs and put themselves back into the pennant race.
There were many questionable calls made in tonight's game by both, umpires and the Yankee manager. The home plate umpire was squeezing all of the pitchers on both sides, and if not for a couple of close calls the Yankees would have coasted to a win. Instead the game came down to the final out as Mariano Rivera was called upon to collect his 32nd save of the season. Joe Girardi made a very controversial call in the game by pulling Hughes with two outs in the sixth after allowing the Rangers second run of the game to score. Mind you, that Hughes only threw 80 pitches before being pulled and was coasting along before an error by third baseman Brent Lillibridge who would later redeem himself when the game was on the line. Following Hughes' departure from the game with a runner on first and two outs Boone Logan allowed a booming two-run home run to Mitch Mooreland to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead. The decision by Girardi to take Hughes out of the game was boneheaded. Hughes was dealing and having only thrown 80 pitches, he had more in the tank to at least go seven, maybe even eight innings. Joe Girardi over-manages a lot but tonight's win will be overlooked because the Yankees were able to come from behind off closer Joe Nathan. If this was Hughes' last start as a Yankee, I'm proud to say that he pitched well despite not factoring into the decision. After all, it could have been worse for Hughes if he had that big "L" next to his name in the box score.
The ninth inning began with Lyle Overbay striking out on four pitches against closer Joe Nathan who was trying to seal the win for his team. Vernon Wells then worked out a one-out walk and was able to advance to second base on a wild pitch by Nathan, slipping on the mound in the process. The Rangers were forced to bring the outfield in and Nunez rocketed a 3-2 slider into the left field alley out of the trying reach of center fielder Craig Gentry. Nunez raced his was to third base, stumbling on the way and still making it safely. The very next batter in the name of Brent Lillibridge dunked a single into shallow left field to score Nunez from third and give the Yankees a lead they would hand over to Mariano Rivera for a perfect bottom of the ninth, notching his 32nd save of the season and 640th of his brilliant career. In the process, Brent Lillibridge may have earned himself a start tomorrow night after being the hero of the game to keep the Yankees closer to the Red Sox and Rays in the playoff hunt.
In tomorrow night's game newly acquired Ranger Matt Garza will make his first start with Texas against the Yankees. Opposing Garza will be Andy Pettitte, who is desperately looking to find himself down the stretch in what will probably be his final season in the Majors.
It's about time that Ryan Braun was taken down by Major League Baseball. After over a year of lying regarding PED use, Braun finally admitted to making a mistake. In the process he took down many people, including the man who transported his urine sample that contained outrageously high levels of testosterone. Dino Laurenzi administered the test to the Milwaukee Brewers star before the 2012 regular season began and drew much negative talk from Braun and his camp. Laurenzi then had to apologize to Braun and Braun took that apology and later on laughed at everybody for him beating the system, which was a longshot to begin with. Now, Braun finds himself in a more than precarious situation after admitting to baseball that he was guilty and accepting a 5 game suspension. He worked out a deal with MLB that has him missing the remaining 2013 games. He will be eligible to come off the suspension list if the Brewers miraculously find a way to make it into the postseason.
Ryan Braun beat Matt Kemp in the 2011 MVP voting by a very slim margin. the two players had almost identical statistics in that season but Braun came away with the prize, which was tainted after news spread that Braun failed a drug test. Not only did Braun lie to his teammates and the Brewers organization but he lied to the fans. The fans in Milwaukee stand behind their players but after lying to them like this, I don't see how Braun will be able to win them over again. After missing many games this season (probably because he is no longer using PED's) Braun only managed to hit 9 home runs in 65 games played. After signing an enormous contract extension with the Brewers, Braun will come back next year and we will all see how the drugs inflated or didn't inflate his statistics. The Brewers have many years left with Braun so this year's salary that Braun will forgo is nothing in the long run for the slugging outfielder. That Alex Rodriguez contract doesn't look so bad anymore, does it?
...it still looks awful, but I wanted to make myself feel better. More suspensions are still to come with A-Rod in the center of it all. Other notable players included in the biogenesis scandal are Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Bartolo Colon, Melky Cabrera and Francisco Cervelli. Many others are on this list as Major League Baseball tries to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
The reason for the Yankee loss tonight was the same reason for every time they lose a game: their offense stinks. This post won't be lengthy because there are only so many ways in which I can describe the incompetence of the Yankees lineup as it is constructed today. Ivan Nova did his job, and with a different offense he would have been the winner tonight. Instead his performance of seven innings pitched allowing three runs will be forgotten as the Yankees continue in their offensive woes. The Yankees now find themselves seven games in back of the Red Sox and Rays, good for fourth place in the division. Thank god the Blue Jays were a disappointment this year, or else the Yankees would have been out of it a month ago. The time is now for Brian Cashman and Co. to decide what they're going to do with the roster. The obvious moves; trading Chamberlain and Hughes, will work themselves out. However, what do they do with Hiroki Kuroda who owns one of the best ERA's in all of baseball? Do they trade Cano and risk him not signing with them in the off-season? Will they finally cut ties with Travis Hafner, who looks like an out even before the start of his at-bats. Hafner is hitting .210 but it feels like he has not gotten a hit since May. Joe Girardi is doing the best he can with limited options, and I feel bad that he is getting some of the blame from fans. He can't change anything on the team. He assembles the lineup that ownership allows. The problem with the offense is not that they do not hustle and grind; they do. The problem with this team is that there just isn't much offensive talent. You know things are bad when Lyle Overbay is protecting Robinson Cano. The Yankees managed three hits all night, something that we have all become all too familiar with this year. With the news of the suspension of Ryan Braun in connection to the biogenesis scandal, a suspension is looming for Alex Rodriguez, a key piece that the Yankees have been missing. His quad strain may just be an excuse for the Yankees not to pay his salary for the year, knowing that his suspension could come at any moment. Who knew that Ryan Braun would be the first to get busted?
The Yankees will try to stay afloat tomorrow night against these same Rangers as Phil Hughes will get an audition for other teams looking to trade for the young right-hander. Alexi Ogando will go for the Rangers against a futile Yankees offense. If they drop another game tomorrow, trading Hughes before his next start could become more of a possibility.
Adam Warren was one strike away from sending the Yankees into the twelfth inning for another crack at taking a lead over the Red Sox in order to give them a chance to win the series. Instead, Mike Napoli who already blasted a three-run homer over the Green Monster, took another ball deep into the third row in straightaway center field. In his other at bats, Napoli struck out three times and grounded into a crucial inning ending double play that sent the game into the ninth inning tied at 7. The real culprit of the Yankees loss was CC Sabathia. He was cruising through two innings but the third inning was the back-breaker for Sabathia as he allowed a four spot followed by a two spot in the fourth inning. Sabathia's season ERA has inflated to 4.37 as he allowed seven earned runs in just five innings pitched. It took CC 102 pitches to get through the five innings as he labored through the order the second and third time through. Girardi was forced to take CC out of the game in the sixth after allowing a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury. The bullpen was fantastic before Warren allowed the walk-off homer to Napoli in the eleventh inning. Especially impressive was Shawn Kelley who in two innings, struck out five batters. David Robertson caught a huge break in the eighth with the game tied. In a bases loaded jam, the same Mike Napoli who won the game for the Red Sox grounded into an inning-ending double play that allowed the Yankees another chance to score a run in the ninth.
The offense was impressive tonight, despite not getting any extra base hits. Of the thirteen hits, all thirteen were singles and the Yankees were aided by three errors made in the field by the Red Sox. They were awarded two gift runs in the first with two consecutive errors on Ryan Dempster on a throw to second base followed by a throwing error by Saltalamacchia in an effort to throw Ichiro Suzuki out trying to steal second base. Despite the Yankees losing in extra innings, I am proud of them for getting as far as they did, coming back from four runs down to tie it in the seventh inning. An at-bat that impressed me in the game was by Brett Gardner who worked a fifteen pitch walk off Tazawa in the seventh inning despite not coming around to score. The fifteen pitch at-bat was only the second of the season in all of Major League Baseball. The at-bat by Gardner was a throwback of a typical Yankee at-bat in the golden years of the '90's and even in recent years. The Yankees are in the bottom of the barrel when it comes to offensive statistics this year but Brett Gardner is not at fault. He walks and gets on base, despite not stealing as many bags this year, with only sixteen more than halfway through the season.
After losing two of three to the Red Sox the Yankees are heading to Arlington, Texas for three games against the Rangers. Alex Rodriguez was diagnosed with a Grade 1 sprain of the quad so his plans to suit up for the Yankees tomorrow will be delayed for at least another week. Ivan Nova will pitch for the Yankees tomorrow. Nova has been excellent since coming up from AAA. Rangers ace Yu Darvish will be on the mound for Texas.
After getting embarrassed offensively in last night's game, the Yankees came into Fenway Park and scored five runs off Red Sox pitching. They played small ball, with no home runs and still managed to beat the mighty Red Sox who have the best record in baseball. The Yankees always knew how to get to John Lackey, and today was no different. They got to the right hander to score four runs in 6.1 innings. Lackey began to unravel in the seventh and by the time all was said and done the Yankees scored three runs in the inning and Lackey's ERA jumped slightly to 2.95 which still merits applause. On a team that has been winning so much it is strange to see Lackey's record at 7-7 with an ERA under three runs. Either the team still doesn't like him or he is just falling into bad luck with run support. After undergoing Tommy John surgery the verdict was out on Lackey, whose life was in turmoil just under two years ago with his separation from his wife along with his wife's cancer scare and his ineffectiveness with the Red Sox. Lackey became a hated character in the streets of Boston and needed to find a way to turn his life and career around. This year Lackey came into Spring Training having lost weight and on a mission to return to the Lackey who earned the big contract after pitching like an ace with the Angels.
Hiroki Kuroda continues to be a stabilizing force in the rotation, having unofficially taken over the "ace" title. In Kuroda's brilliant start, he allowed only two earned runs, one of which came around to score on a wild pitch. He allowed just five hits and walked only one batter in seven innings. His season ERA has lowered to 2.65 as he continues to thrive under the pressure cooker of the American League East. David Robertson came on to pitch the eighth and he would get out of the inning in the most unusual fashion. Dustin Pedroia popped out to Chris Stewart in foul territory behind home plate on the third base side and as Stewart went to make the catch he lost his balance and landed awkwardly on the edge of the stands. Daniel Nava, who singled earlier in the inning, decided to take off for second base but Chris Stewart had other ideas. He fired a cannon to second base for an inning-ending double play. Mariano Rivera came in to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to notch his 31st save of the season and the 639th of his illustrious career as he made his first appearance of the year in Boston in his farewell season.
In tomorrow night's finale the Yankees have a lot on the line as CC Sabathia will step up to pitch against the Red Sox, who have had his number while he has been in a Yankees uniform. The 5-8 Ryan Dempster will pitch against the Yankees. The Yankees love facing Dempster because they just launch balls off the career National Leaguer. A series win for the Yankees out of the gate following the All-Star break would be more than they hoped for when entering the series.
The Yankees were only able to score two runs tonight. Brett Gardner created one of the runs by himself after walking and following the walk with steals of second and third base, finally scoring on an error on the throw to third base. The second run came with two outs in the fifth when Stewart doubled in a run. The Yankees had almost no men on base tonight and squandered chances with runners in scoring position. The Yankees had a one-out rally in the eighth inning with second and third with nobody out but that rally ended quietly as Vernon Wells and Luis Cruz popped out and grounded out, respectively. The offense is at the bottom of the barrel in the American League and it's time for some real reinforcements. In the process the Yankees lost Zoilo Almonte with an ankle sprain. The second half has begun just as the first half started for the Yankees.
Andy Pettitte continues his streak of seven straight starts allowing four or more runs. Tonight his struggles came early as the Red Sox pounded him early in the game. Pettitte looks like he is laboring and the break didn't help him at all. He isn't finishing his pitches like he was early in the season which is why his streak of runs allowed is his longest such streak since 1998 when he was an up and coming pitcher in the Yankees rotation. The Yankees were able to overcome the streak in 1998 because the team was an offensive powerhouse. These Yankees can't score a meaningful run if their lives depended on it. They aren't battling in their at bats and are getting themselves out by swinging at bad pitches.
The Yankees are really burying themselves if they continue to play like this for the next two games. Tomorrow afternoon, Hiroki Kuroda will battle John Lackey who has been pitching like the Lackey of old. Kuroda will be going for his ninth win of the year. If he wants that win he better pitch a shutout as offense will not give him anything to work with.
It is safe to say that the Yankees played their sloppiest game of the season this afternoon. CC Sabathia was having to get outs in innings where it should have been easy for him. He ended up going an uncharacteristic four innings and left because the game was essentially a blowout at the time and Sabathia was approaching 100 pitches after four innings of work. Errors in the field cost Sabathia a chance to go deeper into the game and have a chance to win. Although there were officially two errors on the Yankees defense during the time Sabathia was on the mound, they really made three errors. The costliest error came with two outs in the third inning when Nunez airmailed a throw to first baseman Lyle Overbay. The following pitch was crushed into the left field seats by Aaron Hicks who was hitting under .200 when he sent the ball into the stands. Sabathia could not overcome all of the errors committed by the Yankees. Of the eight runs Sabathia allowed, only three of them were earned. Murphy's Law came into full force today because every ball that could have taken a bad turn, did just that. Also, Sabathia had a chance to catch a pop up by Morneau behind the mound but came up empty. Sabathia is historically an awful fielder as he can't even cover first base most of the time.
The offense did their best to come back into the game but were only able to score four runs to the Twins ten. Ichiro had a big day at the plate, getting two RBI and hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning. Cano continue to drive runners in after an RBI single in the third inning. The offense missing the spark they need to guide them to victories. With Jeter's quad injury and a day off given to Brett Gardner, the Yankees were really at a disadvantage at the plate.
The Yankees end their first half seven games over .500 and after playing their sloppiest game of the season thus far, look to put the first half behind them and come back refreshed. Things won't get any easier for the Bombers as their first three opponents after the All-Star break are the Red Sox, the Rangers and finally Tampa Bay at home. Let the stretch run begin!
Phil Hughes certainly pitched well enough to earn a win today but once again the offense failed to show the pitcher any support. The Yankees gave Hughes a 1-0 lead in the first inning but Hughes couldn't keep the Twins off the board. The righty starter gave up four earned runs in 7.1 innings pitched. He allowed two solo home runs early then gave up a two-run shot after coming out for the eighth inning. He threw a pitch over the plate for Pedro Florimon to drive out of the park to give the Twins a 4-1 lead which seemed like a 10-1 lead to the Yankees because of their lack of offense. After Cano's RBI single in the first inning, the Yankees couldn't plate any runs and squandered opportunities when they had runners on third base in two different innings. If those runs scored, the Yankees may have won the game and we wouldn't be talking about Hughes allowing the home runs. With a lead or a tie going into the eighth inning, Girardi would go to Robertson and Mo to pitch the final innings and the Twins would have likely not have scored the two additional runs. The Yankees have a chance to forget about today's loss with a win tomorrow heading into the All-Star break.
Lefty CC Sabathia will be on the mound tomorrow afternoon before the break. The Yankees will be off for the week and will begin their second half run on Friday at Fenway Park against the Red Sox. Lyle Gibson will pitch against the Yankees again after suffering a loss to them on July 4th.
With the lack of offense tonight, the story was the pitching and Hiroki Kuroda in particular. The righty only pitches five innings because of a lengthy rain delay but was able to get the winning decision because his offense scored in the fifth inning, just after Kuroda exited the game. He threw a lot of pitches, as it took him ninety pitches to get through five innings because he allowed many base runners. He put eight runners on base in five innings of work but managed to keep the Twins from scoring as he was on his way to his eighth win of the season, even though he clearly deserves more. Mariano Rivera blew two saves in games where Kuroda was lined up to earn a victory, so Kuroda could hypothetically have ten wins and be on the All-Star roster this season. That is another thing about Kuroda. Despite not making the All-Star team with the best first half ERA of the season in the American League he didn't put up a fuss but rather took it gracefully and like a gentleman. Hiroki Kuroda has pitched to a 2.65 ERA in the first half which has resulted in only eight wins. He could easily have twelve wins today but that isn't how the cards align during his starts. Even tonight the Yankees were only able to score two runs for their starter. Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano both had RBI singles in the fifth inning as those two runs were the only two runs scored on either side. The Yankees shut out the Twins, making this their sixth shutout against an opponent this season. The last time they did it was on May 17th against the Blue Jays in a 5-0 win. Besides Claiborne, the bullpen pitched three perfect innings while striking out seven batters in the process. Boone Logan came into the seventh with two men on base and struck out the side to keep the Yankees lead in tact.
The Yankees love playing the Twins, with or without Jeter. It would have been better to feel the captain's presence in the lineup but it wasn't meant to be as Jeter is nursing a Grade 1 quad strain. In tomorrow afternoon's game Samuel Deduno will get another crack at the Yankees. Last week in Minnesota the Yankees were baffled by the pitcher but eventually got to him and the game was a blowout. Phil Hughes will look to turn in another dominant performance as the Yankees are only two games away from a series sweep of the Minnesota Twins.
The big story of the day was for sure, the return of Derek Jeter to the Yankees lineup after last playing in the big league level in game 1 of the ALCS last October. The captain collected an infield hit that went down the third base line. He would go first to third in the same inning and scored the Yankees first run of the day on a sac fly by Vernon Wells. The captain would drive in a run on an RBI groundout in the in the sixth inning to cap the Yankees scoring for the day. The Yankees went on to score eight runs after scoring eight in last night's game. Derek Jeter's presence in the lineup certainly had to motivate the team to play at their best today. Unfortunately for Derek, he would leave the game before his final at bat in the ninth inning after his quad tightened up in his third at bat. He felt the effects of the tightness in his final at bat before being removed from the game. Joe Girardi didn't think it would be anything serious and believes that Jeter will play tomorrow, as originally scheduled. However, Jeter will undergo a precautionary MRI tonight to make sure the tightness isn't anything more serious.
The key hit in the Yankees eight run outburst had to be Lyle Overbay's two-run single in the fifth inning following an intentional walk to Robinson Cano and an unintentional walk to Vernon Wells with two outs. The Yankees were on Santana from that point forward as they recorded three successive hits versus the right hander. Following Overbay's two-run single to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead, Zoilo Almonte and Eduardo Nunez would each collect an RBI single to pad the Yankees lead to 7-4. Jeter drove in the final run of the game in the sixth inning on a sharp groundout. Every Yankee starter except Wells got a hit in the Yankees final game against the Kansas City Royals. Wells wasn't completely missing from the party, as he drove in a run in the first inning and scored a run after walking in the fifth inning. Austin Romine, who was looking awful at the plate went 2-4 with an RBI double to put the Yankees back into the game in the early going. The team went 5-11 with runners in scoring position which is in stark contrast to their statistics in that category on Monday and Tuesday.
Andy Pettitte, despite getting the win, looked like he was out of gas from the very first pitch. He ended up going 5.2 innings and allowed four runs to the Royals. He wasn't missing many bats but also got himself into a couple of long innings after errors on the field, one by him and another by Nunez at shortstop. After the game, Pettitte was as hard on himself as I have ever seen him. He went as far as saying that he wanted to hang himself after today's performance. Luckily for Pettitte, he was victorious as the Yankees scored him a lot of runs in support for his 252nd career victory. The All-Star break could be a positive for Pettitte. He needs some time to relax and collect himself before beginning the brutal stretch run in chase of a postseason berth.
The Yankees are happy to see that the Twins are coming to town for a three game series before the All-Star break. Lefty Scott Diamond will start for the Twins tomorrow night at the Stadium and facing the Minnesota lineup will be Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda was snubbed for an All-Star selection but with injury to an existing player, Kuroda could find himself at Citi Field next Tuesday.
The Yankees really put the pedal to the metal today, both in offense and pitching. The same offense that scored three runs in its' last three games scored a whopping eight runs in a rout of Kansas City on a hot, humid night at Yankee Stadium. The big blows came off the bats of Robinson Cano and Lyle Overbay. Cano hit a three run shot in the second inning off starter Wade David that really traveled to almost straightaway center field. The Yankees had a 4-0 lead to that point in the game and they weren't ready to call it a night. In the sixth inning, Lyle Overbay stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and swung at a 3-2 pitch out of the strike zone. He took the outside pitch and went with it, drilling it into the lower deck in left field for his eleventh home run of the season and the Yankees first grand slam in what seems like decades. The Yankees had big innings tonight, which is something they were not able to do last night against Shields when they had him on the ropes in the first inning. Robinson Cano has been as hot as anyone in baseball in July, and he proved it tonight as he homered for the 21st time this season. Cano is on pace to break his personal best home run record, which stands at 33 from last year. Cano is also two long balls away from 200 in his career. If he spends his entire career with the Yankees, Robinson Cano will shatter offensive records that have been held sacred for decades. He has the ability to be the best hitter on the planet if he was more selective at the plate. Cano will win a batting crown in his career when he figures out how to work in the strike zone. With no protection behind or in front of him in the lineup this year, Cano has learned to be more selective because he realizes that many pitchers won't give him anything to hit, which means Cano has to lay off pitches that are out of the zone.
Ivan Nova threw a gem tonight, going eight innings and allowing just a lone run on an Eric Hosmer RBI double in the eighth inning. He had everything working tonight, especially his curveball. The Royals were 0-8 tonight in at bats ending with a curveball from Nova. I knew that with Ivan Nova it wasn't a question with his ability. Nova his a head case who tries to tell himself that he did better than he actually did. Seemingly every time Nova gets sent to the minors, he returns and pitches like an ace. Tonight, Nova provided the Yankees with his second straight ace performance even though the Yankees held a comfortable lead. Many pitchers would have gotten comfortable and would throw more fastballs down the middle but Nova knew what he had to do. He isn't a lock in this rotation, so even if he had a 20 run lead he would need to show Girardi that he deserves to stay in the rotation.
The night wouldn't be complete without a couple of injuries. Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner were both his by pitches. Hafner was hit in the foot and Gardner was plunked in the right leg. Both were removed from the game with contusions (bruises). They are day-to-day but then again, aren't we all?
The Yankees will hope to keep their momentum rolling tomorrow night so they can earn a split with the Royals. Andy Pettitte will try to pitch them to that split. The Yankees old friend, Ervin Santana will pitch to the Yankee batters. The Yankees always seem to catch up to Santana, as most of the games he starts end up in lob-sided affairs with the Yankees usually ending up on top.
After winning six in a row against Minnesota and Baltimore, the Yankees have lost their last three games. Beginning with Sunday's game when they lost the lead in the ninth inning, the Yankees have lost both games to the mediocre Royals who came into Yankee Stadium with a 41-44 record. They are now within one game of reaching the .500 mark after beating the Yankees two straight times in New York. The Yankees again find themselves reeling just as the All-Star break is approaching. They probably can't wait for the Twins to come into Yankee Stadium for three games just before the break so they can put a beating on their old punching bags. As an added bonus, it is likely that if all goes well for Derek Jeter this week in Scranton that he will return to the lineup this weekend before the days off during the break. It would make sense for Jeter to return assuming he does not suffer any setbacks with the ankle just to see how he reacts to a game or two with a long layoff right afterwards.
The Yankee offense had a golden opportunity to jump on Shields in the first inning when Big Game James loaded the bases with one out. The next two batters, Lyle Overbay and Eduardo Nunez, struck out and flied out. After the first inning threat in which they scored one run on four hits the Yankees didn't pose as a threat for the remainder of the game. The offense looked like the same weak offense the Yankees were sporting in June when Hafner and others stopped hitting. The Yankees are missing Jeter dearly and can't wait for his presence in the lineup. If all goes well that presence will arrive in the Bronx sooner rather than later. The one positive that you can take from this game is Brett Gardner looking more comfortable at the plate. The leadoff hitter went 2-4 with a run scored, the only Yankee run of the evening.
CC Sabathia went the distance in this one, tossing nine solid innings of three run baseball. Three runs allowed was too much for the Yankee offense to overcome as CC loses his seventh game of the year. Sabathia looked sharp aside from the two solo home runs by Lowe and Butler. Any time that your starting pitcher pitches nine innings is a great day for the bullpen. It gives Girardi the flexibility to unload all of his weapons in tomorrow's game. With Ivan Nova starting tomorrow's game the bullpen may need to be unloaded. He pitched a complete game on Friday but given his recent statistics, Nova does not go deep into games. If his sinker is working tomorrow night he has another opportunity to earn a victory for the Yankees who suddenly find themselves in desperate need of a win.
Phil Hughes certainly pitched well enough for the third straight time despite being taken out early because of a long rain delay but his offense was simply unable to scratch anything together against Jeremy Guthrie and the bullpen. Guthrie has been a marginal pitcher in his career, most recently playing for Baltimore before getting traded and signing a long term deal with the Royals. Guthrie has the potential to win about 11-13 games in a season but he has an extremely high ERA and he often gives up too much for his offense to come back and get into the game. Tonight however, Guthrie pitched his way to a well-deserving victory. He went 6.2 inning, allowing only a solo home run to a suddenly hot Lyle Overbay. Other than that, the Yankees did not really even threaten against Guthrie, a far cry from when he was with Baltimore. Hughes allowed only two runs in four innings before the skies opened and rain began to fall. He didn't walk a batter and struck out two in his short start. Adam Warren took over for Hughes, and he went 3.2 innings, allowing only one run on three hits and two walks. It was not the sharpest performance by Warren but he isn't seeing consistent playing time which may contribute to him being rusty at times. The Yankees are wasting Adam Warran by having him mop up. They should consider him in their long term plans as a starting pitcher. He throws strikes and is able to buckle down in tough situations.
The Yankees offense was nowhere to be found tonight. They made a brief appearance in the seventh inning and in the ninth but other than in those innings, the offense was off having drinks in Manhattan. The team went 1-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded ten men on base. This was a 3-1 game for a long time, meaning the Yankees had ample opportunity to close the gap and score some runs for one of their relievers to pick up a win. Getting beat by this Royals team is not the way the Yankees want to begin a series after their brutal loss to the Orioles yesterday. The Yankees had the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and all of the batters went down on strikes until Almonte was the final victim to lose the game.
CC Sabathia will meet with James Shields as an old time AL East matchup will once again be front and center. Neither pitcher is having a particularly good season by their standards, so it should call for an interesting game. Usually when these pitching matchups are hyped the game ends with a score of 7-5 or some other high scoring number.
The Yankees scored Hiroki Kuroda only one run and the lack of offense came back to bite the Yankees as Rivera blew a rare save after allowing a home run to Adam Jones with Markakis on first base on a steamy, humid July summer day. Through seven innings, Kuroda threw only 88 pitches. The seventh inning was clearly his worst, where he was beginning to lose the plate when he walked Matt Wieters with two outs. I still believe that Hiroki Kuroda could have easily pitched the eighth inning but Kuroda missed his last start with a sore hip flexor so Girardi took precautionary measures to make sure Kuroda would be fresh in his next start. The Yankees need Kuroda because the rest of their staff can't even light a candle to the righty. He leaves today's game with a 2.77 ERA and still has a record of only 7-6 record in an All-Star caliber year. It's a shame that he didn't make the team initially but Kuroda will surely end up at Citi Field as a replacement for an injured player or for a pitcher who's start doesn't line up with next Tuesday's festivities. Hiroki Kuroda is the All-Star starting pitcher even though he wasn't chosen to join the team because of the stability he provides to the Yankees rotation with Sabathia having a so-so year and Andy Pettitte's dominance fading into the latter part of the season. The Yankees have never been able to provide Kuroda with many runs in support of his starting pitching efforts. Kuroda has had a very slim margin of error as shown today with his one run lead turning into a one run deficit as Rivera blew his first save opportunity at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2011.
It's very rare that Mariano Rivera blows a save, even more rare when he blows one at home. However, the law of averages catches up with all players and Rivera was "due" to blow a save at Yankee Stadium. This blown save proves absolutely nothing but Rivera's human side. He doesn't show it often but when it happens it comes as somewhat of a shock to Yankee fans and probably even more to the Yankees.
The Yankees need to forget about this game and begin a new winning streak tomorrow as the Kansas City Royals come to Yankee Stadium for three games. The starters for tomorrow will be Jeremy Guthrie and Phil Hughes. Hughes has had two straight quality starts for the Yankees even though he only got one win in that span.
The Yankees not only have a six game winning streak, but they have taken over the second wildcard spot from the Baltimore Orioles who have been reeling of late. The Yankees were again able to come from behind. When the Orioles got out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a Chris Davis home run, the Yankees were able to respond with two runs in the second inning after the Orioles tacked on a third run in the top of the inning. Luis Cruz continues to be clutch in his short Yankee career with an RBI single followed by an Eduardo Nunez sac fly. The Orioles would score another run off Pettitte in the fourth inning but again the Yankees were able to come back with two more runs in the fifth inning and would cap off the scoring for the day with a run scoring single by Nunez, who is fresh off the disabled list. Nunez would go on to account for three of the Yankees five runs with an RBI single, a sac fly and a run scored in the fifth inning on a single by Ichiro Suzuki. Nunez was involved in all three of the Yankees scoring innings. He drove in two runs and scored one to propel the Yankees to a thrilling one-run advantage in the final box score.
Andy Pettitte was the winner in the one-run affair with the Orioles. He lasted 6.2 innings and gave up four runs, three of which were earned. Pettitte struck out four batters in the start but gave up nine hits to a very potent offense. Given Pettitte's recent struggles, it was a good win for the left handed starter. He finally gets his 251st career win in a win that was great for the Yankees as a team. For a while things were looking glum for the Bombers but now they are winning close games again, while doing well with runners in scoring position and not depending on the three run home run to get back into games. Singles in the right spots will also get the job done. Ask the members of the 1998 Yankees.
Tomorrow afternoon, the Yankees will go for their seventh straight win and a sweep of the Orioles in revenge of the sweep the Orioles put the Yankees through in their park last week.
There were two heroes tonight, and the most important was not Vernon Wells, who got the walk-off single in the ninth to score Gardner, but it was Nova who provided the Yankees with a complete game effort. Ivan Nova was the forgotten man in the Yankees system. After a poor 2012 and a bad start to the 2013 year, Ivan landed on the disabled list then was placed in AAA before coming up to pitch in the bullpen as a long relief man. The Yankees liked what they saw from Nova and he became a spot starter for them, making starts for injured pitchers already in the rotation or making a start because everyone else was pushed back one day. Tonight, in place of Kuroda, Nova was as dominant as he has looked over the last year and a half. He struck out an amazing eleven batters in his nine innings of work and besides Matt Wieters hitting a home run that barely made it out in the second inning, Nova shut down the Orioles potent offense. The Orioles were only able to scratch out three hits against Nova in nine innings. Through the majority of the game they held a slim lead as Ivan Nova kept the deficit at one run for his offense to come back into the game. Luis Cruz was able to drive in the Yankees' first run in the fourth inning but other than that hit, the Yankees were shooting blanks with runners in scoring position until the ninth inning rally off closer Jim Johnson.
Jim Johnson's blown save was the his sixth of the season and second against the Yankees. His first blown save versus the Yankees came in Baltimore in May when Travis Hafner hit a home run in the ninth to tie the game. Tonight, the inning began innocently with a base hit by a struggling David Adams followed by an error by Johnson on a ground ball from Brett Gardner. Ichiro bunted both runners into scoring position. Buck Showalter was not going to let Robinson Cano beat him, so as any other manager would do in that situation, he had Johnson walk Cano to face Travis Hafner as a potential double play candidate. However, Johnson lost the strike zone with Hafner at the plate and walked him to force David Adams in from third base. Another forgotten man in the personality of Vernon Wells came through with a ground ball that snuck through the 5.5 hole to score Brett Gardner, winning the game for the Yankees and gaining yet another game in the standings on the Baltimore Orioles.
The game featured many forgotten men coming through in big moments, beginning with Ivan Nova and ending with Nova and Wells. Baseball is perhaps the most unpredictable sport because anyone can get a hit at any moment, regardless of his past or current state of play. Vernon Wells came through on the offensive side while Ivan Nova showed the Yankees that he is still the pitcher who won sixteen games in his rookie campaign.
Tomorrow afternoon, Chris Tillman will pitch against the Yankees for the second time in less than a week after earning a dominant win against the Bombers in Baltimore. Andy Pettitte will be on the mound for the Yankees. Pettitte is due to make a quality start as his last few have been disappointing which lowered his season record at 5-6 with a somewhat inflated ERA.
The Yankees sure have looked like teams in years past and look completely different from the team that was on the field in June. The offense erupted for nine runs this afternoon, and in the center of it all was Vernon Wells and Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro has been hitting well recently and his average has taken off to a respectable .280 with three more hits today, including a two-run triple and a double to lead off the game. He went on to drive in two runs and scored two runs, accounting for four of the Yankees nine runs. Vernon Wells may have gotten off his snide after collecting two hits in four trips to the plate. With Wells' two hits he is still hitting a meager .232 on the season but it takes a few weeks for an average to go up to what should be respectable for Wells. I envision Wells as a .280 hitter who can hit the ball out of the park and play stellar defense in the corner outfield positions. New Yankee Luis Cruz also contributed in just his second game as a Yankee with two hits including an RBI single in the third inning. The team went 6-13 with runners in scoring position which is a department in which they have struggled recently. Travis Hafner has been hitting the ball hard lately, as shown today with his three hits including two doubles on which he would come around to score. The Yankees as a team cranked out thirteen hits today, none of which came from Robinson Cano who has been on a tear over the last week. The All-Star starting second baseman from the American League did drive in a run today with a sac fly in the first inning to begin the Yankees scoring spree.
David Phelps did a serviceable job today, allowing four earned runs in 6.1 innings. He had good control today, as shown by him not handing out any walks. However, Phelps left something to be desired because of the potential he has in any game of shutting down the opposing offense completely. The Notre Dame graduate won his sixth game of the year to go along with a 5.01 ERA. The earned run average is very high but at the same time, when Phelps keeps his team in the game they tend to score a lot of runs for him. He and Phil Hughes have pitched similarly this season, but Phelps has been more lucky in the win category. They both have their great starts and then both fall into bad habits on the mound when they give up the big inning. With Phelps and Hughes the big inning has been their problem all season long. Like today, Phelps surrendered three earned runs in the seventh inning before he was taken out of the game. Two of the runs were given up by the bullpen who entered the game in place of Phelps.
The Yankees have to feel good about themselves after sweeping a four game series, which is not easy to do especially as a visiting team. With Baltimore's loss the Yankees creep one game closer to the wildcard spot that is currently occupied by the Orioles. Speaking of the Orioles, they will be in town for three games in the Bronx beginning tomorrow night. The Yankees have an opportunity to make a statement after getting swept out of Camden Yards earlier in the week. Ivan Nova will make the start in place of an injured Hiroki Kuroda who was sidelined with a sore hip flexor. Miguel Gonzalez will start against the Yankees. Gonzalez has had a lot of success versus the Yankees, but the Yankees are catching him at the right time with their offense blossoming the way it has lately.
It's something about playing the Twins for the Yankees that brings out the best in them. CC Sabathia dominated the Twins over seven innings and the Yankees offense was able to score just enough runs to come out on top. What you should take away from this game are two things. First, the fact that Robinson Cano has become Robinson Cano again. In June, Cano had one of the worst offensive months in his career but in July Cano has flipped the page and has been on a tear that began in the last game of the series against the Orioles in Baltimore. Robinson Cano collected two more hits tonight in three at bats. One of the hits was a two-run double that scored two runs in the sixth inning. Cano's batting average has gone from the .270's all the way up to .299 in a matter of two weeks. Cano's ability to bounce back from slumps amazes me because he could look so hopeless at the plate that you think he will never turn it around. He chases bad pitches out of the zone and takes weak swings at some breaking pitches. Cano also has a tendency to get into bad habits when he swings through high fastballs. Recently though, Robinson has cleared up whatever was going on in his mind and is just hitting. Also, Cano has been walking a lot more because he realizes that opposing pitchers don't want to give him anything good to hit because of the weak hitters protecting him.
The other nugget you take from this game was Sabathia's ability to bounce back from his sub-par start against the Orioles where he blew a three run lead capped off by a Nate McClouth home run late in the game. Tonight in seven innings, Sabathia struck out nine batters and gave up two runs. That is an ace-type start from a guy who has not been having an ace year overall. Also, this win was a huge milestone for CC Sabathia because it was win number 200 in his illustrious career. Through his years with the Indians to a brief stint with the Brewers and coming to the Yankees afterwards, Sabathia has been through a lot and it has been a privilege for the Yankees to call CC their ace. Without an ace the opposing lineup has nothing to fear but with Sabathia on the mound every fifth day, the opposition is a little more tense when they know they are facing the big lefty ace on the Yankees. Following Sabathia's start, Mariano Rivera came into the game to collect his 28th save of his final season. Rivera is pitching like he is 23 years old despite playing in his age 43 season.
The Yankees will try for the sweep tomorrow afternoon and they will send David Phelps to the mound. Phelps was shelled by the Orioles on Saturday night as he gave up nine runs in only a couple of innings of work. Hopefully tomorrow Phelps will have something better to attack the Twins with. The Yankees need a good start from Phelps considering Michael Pineda is knocking on the doors.
Phil Hughes pitched a fantastic game against a Twins offense that can score some runs. He kept the middle of the lineup in check, aside from allowing an RBI single to Joe Mauer to begin the scoring in the game. The turning point in the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Hughes walked Plouffe to begin the inning and gave up a double to the very next batter, Oswaldo Arcia. Phil Hughes did something he has not done all season, and that was keeping his composure. He struck out the next two batters and retired the final batter of the inning via groundout. Hughes found something within himself to be able to get gritty and mow down any threats that he faced in the inning. Overall, the third and fourth innings would prove to be the toughest for Hughes. Afterwards, Hughes buckled down and went seven innings, allowing just one run on the Mauer RBI single. He didn't blow anyone away, striking out only two batters, but he made the strikeouts count. Two of the punchouts came in the fourth when Hughes was almost bound to allow two runs to get the game out of hand. He knows that the offense has not been scoring any runs lately, especially for him and settled into a groove which allowed him to have more composure on the mound, as well as looking more confident in his stuff. Hughes was always able to blow people away with his fastball but now he has to rely more on fly balls and pop-ups. As Hughes is realizing that he doesn't need to blow past batters it is making him a better pitcher which in turn will come in handy when Hughes is looking for a hefty payday at the end of the season. There will be a team that will be willing to spend on a pitcher who had a bad season. As I say time and time again, Hughes needs to be on a team that plays in a big ballpark. Tonight, he allowed a double to deep right that would have easily been gone at Yankee Stadium and many other ballparks. Hughes will be an invaluable asset to a team that decides to pay him on the basis of knowing he can get outs in their large park.
After Hughes escaped trouble in the fourth inning, the Yankees offense was able to relax and get some of the weight of overcoming a huge deficit off their shoulders. In the very next inning, Alberto Gonzalez hit a two-run double and Ichiro got another infield single with a runner on third base. They were able to score three runs in the inning and weren't done as Gonzalez decided that he liked the concept of the RBI. He would notch another run batted in when he hit a single to the right side to score David Adams. Robinson Cano is preparing for the Home Run Derby, and is making it loud and clear that he is back. Cano smashed a three-run shot in the seventh inning that essentially put the game away for the Yankees. However, Claiborne would not be able to finish out the game. He allowed a two-run double to Brian Dozier in the ninth with two outs and Girardi had to go to the bullpen. Adam Warren walked the only batter he faced, so the manager had no other choice but to bring in Mariano Rivera for the one out save. Rivera retired the final batter of the game on two pitches.
The Yankees have started the extended four game set with two straight wins. A victory tomorrow would put the series on the Yankees side. With Baltimore losing to the White Sox, the Yankees move closer to the Red Sox in the standings with their win over the Twins. In tomorrow's game the Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the mound who is probably chomping at the bit to prove himself after his disastrous start against Baltimore on Friday night.
The Yankees probably didn't know what to do with all the runs they scored tonight. None of that really matters though. What matters is that the Yankees have snapped their five game skid and move back to four games over .500. Their work isn't done though, as the offense needs to show that it is capable of putting on this kind of display daily. That of course, won't happen but what can happen is what the Yankees had in the eighth inning where they were down by one run and rallied to take a commanding lead over the Twins. The Yankees have owned the Twins in recent years and even with this new group of guys they still know how to do it. The ten runs were scored because of the Twins bad defense and pitching but nevertheless the runs count the same as they would if they were scored by home runs and doubles. Robinson Cano had a rebirth of sorts by hitting two home runs and a double to help propel the Yankees past Minnesota. Everyone in the lineup was able to contribute tonight, whether it be by a walk, double or even a clutch single to score the go-ahead run. The offense tonight reminded me of what the Yankees were capable of putting together in April and in early May when players like Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells were smacking the cover off the ball, except tonight the entire lineup contributed to the eventual blowout win.
The Yankee victory also included a little but of history as Andy Pettitte become the Yankees all-time strikeout leader by striking out Justin Morneau in the fifth inning. Pettitte ruined a chance at earning a win when he threw a ground ball away in the first inning. The error led to two runs coming around to score which tied the game at three before Chris Parmelee hit a go-ahead home run off Pettitte to begin the sixth inning. Andy Pettitte was removed from the game following the home run and was replaced by the Yankees relievers who were impressive tonight. None of the four pitchers out of the bullpen allowed any runs. They were able to get outs when they were in trouble, making the Twins batters look like the Yankees offense on a nightly basis. Andy Pettitte has not been sharp in June. Following his great start against the Mariners, Pettitte has gone 0-3 in four starts. The Yankee offense was able to bail him out tonight after he threw away a golden opportunity to make an out at first base in the first inning which led to runners scoring, giving Minnesota a lead that they would hold until after Pettitte's departure from the game.
The inconsistent Phil Hughes will be on the mound tomorrow night as he hopes to earn only his fourth win on the season. He has a 4.82 ERA, which won't win your team many games every fifth day. Also, the Yankees not being able to score runs for Hughes factors into his win-loss record. Samuel Deduno will face the Yankees for the second time in his young career. In a start versus the Yankees last September, the Yankees beat him up and won the game.