Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ivan Nova: Ace

Today Ivan Nova stepped up and provided the Yankees with something they wouldn't have imagined coming from the right hander. Nova stunned the Orioles potent offense and went the distance in his second complete game shutout of the season and second complete game of his career. His first shutout came against the Orioles on July 5th in a 3-2 Yankees win, so Nova knows something about this Baltimore team that other pitchers do not because of his recent history against them. Nova was in one major jam throughout the whole game but when it happened in the second inning, Nova was able to get a key double play to put a runner at third with two outs then recorded the final out of the inning to keep the 1-0 that he was staked with in the first inning by the Yankees offense. Nova, in his start went nine full innings for his eighth win of the season. In the start he gave up nothing to the Orioles as he was able to get two key double plays which were part of his nine groundouts. Nova allowed nine fly ball outs but none of the nine fly balls were deep enough to reach the seats. He struck out five batters, so Nova's pitches were working the way they should have been. He was pitching to contact and the Orioles batters were flailing at the plate, grounding out and popping up. In August, Nova went 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA and allowed only one home run. Those are numbers of an ace and if the Yankees make the postseason Ivan Nova will be strongly be considered to start the wildcard game.

The offense was not very prominent in today's game but the Yankees were able to eek out just enough runs thanks to Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner. Gardner doubled off Scott Feldman to start the game and two batters later Robinson Cano hit a double down the right field line to score Gardner to give Ivan Nova the only run he would need to get the win. Robinson Cano and Brett Gardner had four of the Yankees seven hits and the runs were all courtesy of Cano as he was involved in both offensive plays. He made the decision easier for Girardi in the eighth inning when he homered off lefty Troy Patton and Buck Showalter immediately sprung out of the bullpen to get a right handed pitcher into the game to complete the eighth. Robinson Cano is on a hot streak right now he is carrying the Yankees. Cano is not showing any ill-effects of the hit by pitch he suffered on Tuesday in Toronto.

Andy Pettitte will be on the mound tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees go for the three game sweep which would be an amazing feat. With today's win the Yankees surpassed the Orioles in the standings and since Tampa Bay and Oakland are playing each other the Yankees will gain ground on one of the two teams. This teams is feeling good about themselves right now, and rightfully so. The White Sox are coming to Yankee Stadium on Monday and they have an awful record. The Yankees will have a chance to bury the Orioles with a series win against the Sox who swept the Yankees in Chicago just a few weeks ago.

Afternoon lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson LF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Scott Feldman

Big Fifth Inning Propels Yankee Win

CC Sabathia again pitched poorly tonight against the O's who featured an explosive offense. Leading the pack for the Orioles were Manny Machado and Nick Markakis who had big hits against the Yankees lefty. The Orioles fought back each time the Yankees scored but in the end the fifth inning was the difference for the Yankees. They were able to start a rally and scored five runs before making an out in the inning. Orioles starter Manny Gonzalez gave up seven earned runs in only four innings of work. The Yankees got to him in the fifth and things unraveled from there. Sabathia surrendered five earned runs in 5.2 innings of work but still managed to earn his twelfth win of the season with an ERA just below 5. Phil Hughes has pitched better games more often than CC Sabathia this year and only has four wins to show for it. The Yankees just don't score for Hughes. Kuroda hardly ever gets any run support either but he doesn't need it as much as Hughes does when he's on the mound. Overall, the Yankees were able to score runs tonight against the Orioles who find themselves four games out of the wild card race. With the win, the Yankees are now 4.5 games out and have an almost identical record as the Orioles. The only difference between the two teams is that one can't pitch and the other can't score.

The Yankees are now in good position to take the series against the Orioles who lost tonight. The first game of a series is always key in taking a series win. A thriving Ivan Nova will take the mound tomorrow night against the Orioles. The Birds will send Scott Feldman to pitch against the Yankees who were swinging tonight. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

First Inning Error Leads to Loss

The floodgates opened up against Kuroda and the Yankees in the first inning when Chris Stewart made a fatal error that essentially cost the Yankees this game and the series win against the lowly Toronto Blue Jays. If the Yankees miss the playoffs by one game this is one of the games that they will look back on and believe that they should have won it. The sloppiness in the first inning cannot stay with the team throughout the entire game. The game lasts for nine innings. The Yankees needed to mount some kind of comeback. They weren't facing Randy Johnson and Co. out there. They had their chances to drive runs home but Kuroda never gets any run support. If I'm Kuroda I strongly consider joining a different team next year if he continues to play in Major League Baseball and doesn't go home to pitch in Japan. Even so, Kuroda did not help his own cause tonight. He allowed five earned runs in five innings, which marks the third straight start in which he has surrendered at least four earned runs in a game. The last time Kuroda did this was in 2010 when he played for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His once tidy ERA has ballooned to a respectable 2.89 but when looking back three starts ago at the ERA he could have been sporting then this is a letdown. Last year Kuroda began to feel fatigued toward the end of the season. His September was not great and he ended up pitching very well in the postseason against the Orioles when he needed to. Kuroda will turn things around when he is called upon by the Yankees to be their savior if they are at the finish line, facing contention in postseason play.

The offense, again scratched out only two meager runs tonight. Robinson Cano was not in the lineup after getting hit by a pitch in the left hand last night so the middle of the order had to pick up the slack. Alex Rodriguez did the job, going 1-4 with an RBI. Mark Reynolds is also swinging a hot bat, going 3-4 with the other Yankee RBI in the game. Reynolds is a very streaky player who can explode at any moment. The display he put on against the Yankees last year when he was with Baltimore still blows my mind. He needs to go on one of those torrid runs in September. If he thrives under the pressure and has a monster month he will forever be in Yankees lore. Otherwise, he will end up being another Lance Berkman circa 2010.

The Yankees have a day off tomorrow which is just what they need after these three games. Losing two of three to the Blue Jays won't help the Yankees in their playoff chase which means they will have to sweep the Orioles at home this weekend. The chances of that happening are slim-to-none but I'm talking about things that would happen in a perfect world. Miguel Gonzalez will face off against CC Sabathia in the opening game at Yankee Stadium this weekend which should be a very fun series with playoff implications involved.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cano resting

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Todd Redmond

Soriano Shines in Win

Before Soriano hit two home runs the Yankees were shaking at their cores after Robinson Cano was hit in the hand by a pitch from JA Happ, who coincidentally broke Granderson's hand in the first game of spring training which led to the first of Granderson's two DL stints with broken bones in his hand. Robinson Cano was tested and his x-ray shows that he is day-to-day with a bruised hand and will be back sooner rather than later. Alfonso Soriano must be on one of his hot streaks right now because he belted two home runs, the first of which was a three-run shot and the second was the 400th of his Major League career. Soriano also made an unbelievable catch in left field in the ninth inning when the Yankees had a six run lead. He leapt and made the catch on a fly ball by Kawasaki that almost went over his head and would have surely scored two runs to make it a 7-3 game to make the contest more interesting. Soriano's 27th and 28th homers gave him a total of four RBI and 34 RBI in 28 games with the Yankees which is an astonishingly high mark. Without Soriano the Yankees would have been dead in their tracks and would have already been looking toward next year, much like the Mets who after finding out about Matt Harvey's devastating injury, traded Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for a decent prospect.

Andy Pettitte has officially turned the corner after a horrible two months earlier in the season and delivered one of the best performances he has given all season long. Pettitte lasted seven full innings, allowing no runs on only five hits. He struck out three batters and walked two. Adam Warren would eat the final two innings to save their bullpen so they could unload all of their weapons before an off-day on Thursday. This was an important win for the Yankees because by winning this game they still have a chance to take the series in Toronto against a pitiful Blue Jays team that has been underwhelming all season long. With the talent on the team, the Toronto Blue Jays should not be in last place. However, with a shaky bullpen and an often injured starting lineup, it is troublesome to find a way to win games.

The Yankees will send their best to the mound tomorrow evening to face the Blue Jays. The Yankees are feeling good about themselves after blasting four homers in tonight's win. What gives you even more confidence is that Alex Rodriguez is beginning to find his power stroke which will come in handy against a crucially important series against the Orioles this upcoming weekend.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson RF
Vernon Wells DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP JA Happ

A-Rod Homers in Loss

Again, there wasn't much offense tonight by the Yankees. All they could score was two runs. One of the runs came on an RBI groundout by Cano in the first inning and the second run came via the long ball by Alex Rodriguez who took Dickey the opposite way for his third home run of the year. Dickey redeemed himself tonight after blowing a lead for his team last week at Yankee Stadium in the eighth inning. The Yankees could only amount seven hits in the entire game and Jeter went 0-3 with a walk in his return from yet another DL stint, his third of the year. Jeter has played more minor league rehab games than he has played for the Yankees in 2013. Through all of the Derek Jeter injury drama, one thing is certain and it is that Derek Jeter will definitely play out his option year for less money considering he essentially missed a whole season this year with various injuries.

Phil Hughes was awful after the Yankees gave him a run to begin the game then tied the game in the fifth inning for him thanks to the A-Rod homer. Hughes' ERA stands at 4.91 at the end of August. At this point if I'm another team looking at Hughes in the free agency market, I have to take a hard look before I open my wallet for a starter with a 5 ERA almost in September. In addition, Hughes has a 4-13 record on a team that's playing over .500 on the season. David Huff came in for Hughes and pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball, striking out five batters and walking one. Huff didn't give up a hit and based on his two most recent performances he deserves to start in place of Hughes in five days. If anything he has more of a chance to give the Yankees a win because of the pure fact that Hughes hasn't given his team a chance to win in months. A breath of fresh air would be what the doctor ordered for a team that is looking for a spark to propel them into postseason play.

The Yankees have broken their prolonged winning streak against Toronto but they will look to start a new one tomorrow night when JA Happ steps on the mound. The Yankees beat Happ last week at the Stadium in the same matchup as tomorrow night's. Andy Pettitte is looking for win number ten tomorrow to make his record for the year over .500. In order to accomplish that, Pettitte needs to pitch like he has pitched lately and the offense needs to click like it did last week against the same team they're playing tomorrow night.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Jeter in the lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP RA Dickey

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Soriano's Steal Secures Yankees Win

The game was by and large an uneventful one. Ivan Nova struggled with the command of his pitches, issuing six walks which ties a career high. One of the walks were intentional in the seventh inning but even five walks is too many in one start. All of the walks aside, Nova pitched a good enough game to earn a victory but instead Joba Chamberlain Boone Logan got the win in relief after Joba gave up a one-out walk to Jose Molina in the tenth inning. Logan came in to face Jose Lobaton with Molina on base and Lobaton promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play to give the Yankees another crack at scoring a run in the eleventh inning. But going back to Nova, he allowed only two runs in 6 2/3 innings today and both runs came as a result of Evan Longoria at the plate. Longoria belted his 28th home run today, which was also his seventh homer against the Yankees this year which is the most by any player against the Yankees this season. Mark Reynolds hit seven against the Yankees as a member of the Orioles last year.

The Yankee offense finally scored more than two runs against the Rays. They scored three today, which isn't anything to write home about but if the opposing team scores less than you do it's an accomplishment. Robinson Cano continues to stay hot at the plate with a home run and an RBI double early in the game against Alex Cobb who lasted six innings due to an elevated pitch count. The Yankees didn't score again until the eleventh inning when Alfonso Soriano doubled with one out then stole third base, which took a lot of guts. Granderson then drove him in as the go-ahead run when he lifted a sac fly. The run then made way for Rivera to try and save his last ever regular season game at Tropicana Field. The middle of the Rays lineup went down 1-2-3 and Rivera earned his 38th save of the season. 

The Yankees are looking forward to their next three games against the Toronto Blue Jays above the border. The Jays snapped their seven game skid today against the Astros but the Yankees have had their numbers all season long. After a rough series in Tampa a few games in Toronto will be just what the doctor ordered. Derek Jeter will make yet another debut tomorrow night as he is expected to join the team in Toronto for the three game series before heading home for a tough home stand. 

Must win lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Curtis Granderson LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Mark Reynolds 3B
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Alex Cobb

Yankees Lose Important Series

Two games in and the Yankees are already on the brink of getting swept in Tampa Bay by the Rays who hold a share of first place with the Red Sox. The Yankees keep losing games because of their lack of run scoring ability. This same lineup scored a boatload of runs lately against the Angels and the Blue Jays which made me believe that they turned a corner. Now, I'm just beginning to think that they just beat up on some below-average teams with weak pitching in the rotation and bullpens. Tampa Bay is stacked with pitchers. David Price only lasted six innings against the Yankees but it was still enough for the Yankees to only score two runs off the lefty. CC Sabathia was given a 2-0 lead but get it all get away in the sixth inning, just one inning after Price gave up the two runs to the Yankees. The Rays would cap on an insurance run in the eighth inning by a Longoria home run against Preston Claiborne. The Yankees would fade into the night quietly by going down in order in the eighth and ninth innings. Sabathia's pitching was definitely an improvement from his other starts against the Rays but the end result was the same as Sabathia suffered his third loss against the Rays this year. These Price-Sabathia matchups don't have much juice in them because it usually ends with CC getting clobbered and Price being on the winning end of those matchups.

The best the Yankees can hope for is to take one game from the Rays tomorrow to avoid a three game losing streak, which they can't have right now if they want to stay in the race. Ivan Nova gives me a lot of confidence when he's on the mound. However, Alex Cobb has been brilliant for the Rays all year and has performed well against the Yankees in his short career. He has beaten the Yankees twice this year already and will try to make it three wins tomorrow as he tries to lead his team to a series sweep.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Just a day off for Gardner

X-Rays on his hand came back negative. He will be available to pinch-hit on his 30th birthday.

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP David Price

Yankees Winning Streak Halted

The Yankees were rolling, having taken two of three games from the Red Sox then sweeping the Blue Jays in four games at home. This series against the Rays didn't begin the way the Yankees hoped it would. Hiroki Kuroda, who has been one of the best pitchers in the American League, got tagged for four home runs and seven earned runs in six innings of work. Every pitcher has his rough stretches and it looks like Kuroda is going through his right now after taking a loss at Fenway Park on Saturday. Kuroda is now 11-9 on the season and his ERA has taken a bit of a hit, standing at 2.71 after being under 2.35 two starts ago. Regardless, Kuroda is still a force in the rotation because opposing hitters don't look forward to facing him. With Andy Pettitte coming around, it is not as big of a deal to watch Kuroda go through his funk. However, the Yankees are scratching for wins right now as the number of games left of the schedule are dwindling and the Yankees still find themselves in fourth place, just behind the Orioles.

Again for the Yankees, their offense was not clicking. Brett Gardner was one of two Yankee batters to have a multi-hit game, with two hits. He also scored the only two Yankee runs and hit his eighth triple of the year against Archer who was brilliant against the Yankees again. Chris Archer won against the Yankees again, his third win against them this season. The rookie knows how to keep the hitters off balance and uses it to his advantage. The Yankees need to figure this guy out because he isn't leaving the division anytime soon.

The Yankees have some task at hand over the next two days as they get the pleasure of facing David Price tomorrow night with CC Sabathia on the mound for the Bombers. It will be tough to score runs off Price if he pitches at even half of what he is capable of. Sabathia has to limit the damage which will be difficult because the Rays have owned him this year, and more than owned, they have hammered Sabathia in each and every start he has made against them this year.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Another Jays Sweep

The Yankees are lucky to have the Toronto Blue Jays be their punching bags this season. The Yankees have won fourteen games in a row against the Blue Jays dating back to last season. This year the Yankees have lost just one game to the Blue Jays and it came in Canada early in the season. To add to the insult, this is the second time this season that the Yankees swept Toronto in a four game set. That says a lot about the drive and focus of the Yankees. They were playing horribly in June and July but August has been good to the Bombers, who have now won eight of their last ten games and ten straight games against the Blue Jays which is a large reason the Yankees are where they are right now. With five losses against the Blue Jays, the Yankees would not be in the postseason picture at all. However, their punching bags have been extra good to the Yankees this season.
It was a strange victory for the Yankees, and not because they had to wait over three hours for the game to begin due to a rain delay. The Yankees only had four hits in the game and scored five runs. Talk about run efficiency for the Yankees, who are scoring in times when they need the runs most. For the Yankees, the key to today's win came in the fifth inning when Vernon Wells hit a fly ball to Rajai Davis who caught it but the umpires ruled it a trap, which led to the ejections of manager John Gibbons and pitcher Mark Buehrle. The fly ball allowed a run to score and gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish. Eduardo Nunez came up big in the following inning when he hit a ball out of the strike zone for a single to right-center field to score two runs to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. They would go on to beat the Jays 5-3 as Pettitte recorded his ninth win of the season against nine losses. Andy Pettitte has never had a losing season in his established career so it would only be fitting for him to win a few more before he hangs up the cleats. David Robertson came in for a resting Mariano Rivera to get his second save in the month of August. Robertson still has to work on pitch economy, as he was 3-2 on all three batters he faced before finally nailing down the save.

Things don't get any easier for this team as they head to Tampa Bay tomorrow night for the start of a three game series against the second place Rays. The Rays and Red Sox have been battling for first place for a while now, as only one game separates both teams in the standings. The Yankees will look to make some noise in St. Pete as they are surging at the right time. Yankees ace Hiroki Kuroda will take the mound tomorrow against stud rookie Chris Archer who pitched a gem last time out against the Yankees.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rain delay lineup

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Vernon Wells DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP JA Happ

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Warren, Huff Combine for Great Pitching in Win

The two pitchers combined for eight innings pitched, allowing a combined two runs. Adam Warren started the game and allowed both of the Blue Jays runs to score which would be all they get for the entire duration of the game. David Huff, a journeyman came in to pitch the game which was his to win or lose as Girardi didn't want to unload the entire bullpen after playing two games yesterday. David Huff was up for the challenge though as he tossed five innings, allowing no runs on one hit. He would walk four batters and things got dicey with the game tied at 2 when Romine threw the ball away as he tried to get Rajai Davis stealing second base. The ball went into center field which allowed Davis to get to third base with two outs and Adam Lind at the plate. Lind would ground out and the inning would end uneventfully for the Yankees. Other than in the seventh inning, the Blue Jays never really posed a credible rally against Huff and Warren. The two pitchers worked beautifully to keep the game tied besides the home run that Warren gave up to catcher Josh Thole.

The offense in the game came early for both sides and late for the Yankees to give them another thrilling late inning win against the Blue Jays who are now 0-9 at Yankee Stadium this year. RA Dickey pitched a fantastic game for his team, going eight strong innings and allowing only one mistake to an Alfonso Soriano who gave the Yankees another lead after going 0-17 following an incredible week that earned him AL Player of the Week honors last week. Soraino pounced on a Dickey mistake and drove it deep to left field to allow Mariano Rivera to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to collect his 37th save of the season. Rivera struck out two batters in the process and picked off Rajai Davis trying to get back to second base after hitting a double off Rivera. The Jays are a fundamentally flawed team and they continue to show it time and time again as they lose their third straight against the Yankees. Oh, and Ichiro collected his 4,000th professional hit in the first inning against Dickey to make the game extra special.

The only sore spot for the Yankees tonight came in the second inning when the red hot Jayson Nix was hit by a pitch which turned out to be a broken hand. Nix will obviously be sidelined for the foreseeable future. This may expedite the rehab process for Jeter who is beginning a rehab assignment in Scranton tomorrow night.

The Yankees go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon as they send Andy Pettitte to the mound to face the Jays. Pettitte pitched well in his last start against the Red Sox and will look to level his record to 9-9 against a faltering Toronto team. The Yankees are creeping closer to a playoff position and they need to continue to win games at this pace to make up more ground to teams like Tampa Bay, Boston and Baltimore.

Gardner at DH

Brett Gardner DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix 3B
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Adam Warren vs. RHP RA Dickey

Live from Yankee Stadum: Nix Crucial to Double-Dip Sweep

It wasn't easy for the Yankees, but they swept the Toronto Blue Jays in the day/night double-header to lift their winning streak to three games while Boston and Baltimore continue to slide. The night portion of the double-header was more of a nail biter for the Yankees. They are currently playing a Blue Jays team that has nothing to lose as they are more than out of contention for any postseason spot. The Yankees' jobs were to grind out at bats, which they did and they looked natural doing so. Phil Hughes took another step in the right direction, delivering six innings of two run baseball. Hughes left the game the losing pitcher of record but a buddy of his would bail him out twice. Hughes is pitching well, but the runs he is allowing are too much for the Yankees to make a comeback with so naturally his record reflects that. On days like tonight though, Hughes was able to get out of jams and if not for a wild pitch Hughes would be able to come out of the game with at least a tie. Instead, Hughes' efforts were again wasted in the short term but his offense was able to rally to take the nightcap from the Blue Jays who find themselves deep in the AL East basement.

Jayson Nix was the player of the game after making a few key plays in the first game too. Nix went 2-4 and had the last two Yankee RBI which would prove to be crucial for the Bombers. In the seventh inning Nix homered to left to tie the game against Buehrle then came up big in the ninth with one out after Ichiro pinch ran for Mark Reynolds who walked. Ichiro advanced to second base on a sac bunt from Eduardo Nunez then stole third base with Nix at the plate. Jayson didn't waste any time and drove Ichiro in with the winning run in the ninth inning and the Yankees were walk-off winners yet again this year. However, Nix wasn't the only position player who had a good night as Austin Romine joined in on the catcher's party and had himself a 3-3 night with a double and a run scored. The Sunday game against the Red Sox has injected some life into the Yankees (no pun intended). They were able to rally around Alex Rodriguez on Sunday against Boston then came from behind in two straight games against the Jays to take both games of the double dip. My post from the first game was right. I said that either Phil Hughes would pitch well enough for his team to get the win or Buehrle would finally record a victory against the Yankees. Buehrle lost yet again to the Yankees and Phil Hughes pitched well enough for the team to get a win.

Things don't get any easier for the Yankees tomorrow evening as they get set to face reigning Cy Young winner RA Dickey and the Blue Jays for the third of four games at Yankee Stadium. Adam Warren will make the start for the Yankees. Warren has almost exclusively pitched out of the bullpen but was an above-average starter for the Yankees AAA club last year before getting promoted to New York out of spring training.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Game 2 lineup: no Ichiro

Brett Gardner CF
Vernon Wells RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Reynolds 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Jayson Nix 3B
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Mark Buehrle

Live from Yankee Stadium: Stewart lifts Yankees to Game 1 Win

The first inning was quite uneventful but after the first inning there was some offense that broke out on both sides. First, the Blue Jays offense tagged Ivan Nova for four earned runs in the second inning and before long you had to assume that the Yankee offense wouldn't be able to catch up. Fortunately, the second inning would be the only one in which Toronto would come around to score. A few light tappers turned into four runs in the inning and the life was sucked out of the stadium. As for the Yankees offense, Robinson Cano would provide the first spark of life when he lifted a long fly ball into the left field seats to score Gardner and Ichiro who fought their way on base. Speaking of Ichiro, the Japanese star has a good chance of recording his 4,000th career professional hit against Mark Buehrle and these same Blue Jays. For the Yankees their ultimate stamp on the game came in the sixth inning with two outs and two on for Chris Stewart. A rarity for Stewart, he lifted a line drive down the left field line for a go-ahead three-run home run to give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. However, the game felt like it was anything but over. When the Yankees added a couple of insurance runs, one in each of the eighth and ninth innings, the game was essentially over.

Things would get sweaty for the Yankees when a couple of relievers made the game interesting by walking batters, mainly Shawn Kelley. The bases were loaded in the seventh with the score still 6-4 but Kelley got Brett Lawrie to lift a fly ball to right center field for Brett Gardner to catch easily. Ivan Nova pitched well enough to earn his seventh win of the season behind a powerful Yankees offense. Girardi mixed and matched for the remainder of the game but ended up using Mariano Rivera to get the final two outs after Joba Chamberlain began the inning by recording only one out before walking Rajai Davis. 

The Yankees better hope they can score runs for Phil Hughes who along with getting no run support, has been downright awful this year. Hughes needs his offense to score him some runs but in order for them to do so he needs to give them a chance to win before allowing a big inning. As written earlier, Hughes will pitch against lefty Mark Buehrle who has not pitched well against the Yankees in his career. One of two trends will buck today; either Hughes will pitch a good game for the Yankees or Buehrle will finally record a win against the aforementioned Yankees.

Game 1 lineup

On my way to both games of the double dip!

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Esmil Rogers

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Fenway Classic

In recent years, many of the games played between the Red Sox and the Yankees didn't have as much intensity as they did in years prior. The juice wasn't evident and because of that many fans were beginning to believe that the Red Sox and Yankees no longer shared the biggest rivalry in sports. Tonight proved why that very rivalry is still alive and well, as Ryan Dempster drilled Alex Rodriguez in his first at bat. After missing with his first three attempts, Dempster would hit A-Rod by a pitch in the shoulder area to send him to first base. The benches were warned after the first pitches aimed at Rodriguez were thrown but home plate umpire Brian O'Nora did nothing when Dempster actually hit Alex. To this, Girardi came out of the dugout as livid as I have ever seen him, because he was furious that Dempster wasn't thrown out of the game. He was more upset because his pitchers couldn't retaliate without facing consequences. Girardi was right in saying that Dempster should have been thrown out of the game but I was more upset that the skipper was thrown out of the game for defending his player who was plunked. The Yankees would get their ultimate revenge against Dempster in the same inning when they scored Alex Rodriguez and another run. Granderson doubled off Dempster after A-Rod was hit by the pitch and the Yankees played ABC baseball by driving the two men home to tie the game at 2.

I was going to try to get away from the A-Rod fiasco but how could I when Alex Rodriguez would make his presence felt later in the game. Alex Rodriguez would give his team the lead in the following inning on an RBI groundout that scored Ichiro Suzuki. A-Rod wouldn't be done as he took Dempster deep to straightaway center field for a long home run that made the score 6-4 Boston and set up fireworks for the Yankees in the inning. Ryan Dempster had no business hitting A-Rod with a pitch. To make matters worse, his control was so bad on the first three attempts that he didn't even get Rodriguez! The Yankees went on to score three more runs to take a 7-6 lead when Brett Gardner smashed a Drake Britton offering into the deepest part of the park that scored three runs and put Gardner at third base with a go-ahead triple. Gardner was as fired up as A-Rod was when he hit the home run off Dempster. The Yankees would come out victorious in this one after scoring nine runs to the Red Sox six runs.

CC Sabathia was awful against the Red Sox tonight but he was the beneficiary of an explosive Yankee offense, partly to do with the whole A-Rod circus. In 5.1 innings Sabathia gave up six earned runs on seven hits and walked five batters. His control has been off for two straight games as he has walked eleven batters in his last two starts combined. The bullpen took Sabathia off the hook as they recorded the final eleven outs of the game.

Just something that I want to point out regarding the Red Sox hitting batters. Following the A-Rod HBP, the Red Sox pitchers went on to hit three additional hitters with pitches and nothing was done by the umpires. Even if they missed with location, there is no reason that Red Sox pitchers should be hitting four Yankees in a game. The Yankee pitchers didn't hit any Red Sox with pitches in fear of getting ejected from the game.
Mariano Rivera came on to record the final three outs of the game as the Yankees take two of three games from the Red Sox in Boston which will be instrumental in their success the rest of the way. They need to gain ground on the teams above them in the standings and winning series will get them back into contention. They will continue that quest on Tuesday in a day/night double-header against the last place Toronto Blue Jays. The first of the two games is a make-up from a May 19th rainout. I will be attending both games so coming off tonight's contest it should be fun to see the Yankees energized. Also, I am praying that Ichiro gets his 4,000th career professional hit in one of the games against he Jays.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lineup for finale

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Ryan Dempster

No Offensive (or Defensive) Support

The Yankees let Kuroda down in every which way possible today in a must win game against the Yankees division rivals. Kuroda was struggling, and it was evident from the first pitch of the game. He was allowing a lot of base hits, including doubles. The defense didn't come to Kuroda's rescue in the third inning when he needed to record two more outs with runners on the corners. Lyle Overbay made a mistake by not throwing a ground ball home to get the slow Ortiz. Instead, he attempted a double play and the play didn't go as planned for the platoon first baseman. From that point on the floodgates opened for the Red Sox as they went on to score five runs off Kuroda in just under six innings of work. Only three of the runs were earned which is good, but when your offense scores one total run in a game for you, you know that you will probably lose the game regardless. The Yankees need to start building runs. They are getting base runners but have trouble getting anymore hits after the runners reach base. It's actually very comical; the rate in which the Yankees strand base runners. And of course, no Red Sox win over the Yankees would be complete without David Ortiz going yard. The designated hitter is way past his prime and is still hitting like he's 29. I don't know how the testing works but Big Papi needs to get re-tested because something doesn't quite seem right to me about his production in correlation to his age.

The Yankees have a crucial game tomorrow night that will be started by CC Sabathia. Ryan Dempster will go for the Red Sox as this will be a rematch between pitchers who faced each other the last time the Yankees played a Sunday night game in Boston. In order to succeed tomorrow, the Yankees need to get to Dempster like they have in each of the games he has started against them in recent memory.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reynolds gets day off against righty

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP John Lackey

Yankee Bats on Fire

The Yankees came into Boston for the first game of three at Fenway Park and obliterated the Red Sox pitching for ten runs, and nine of them were earned. The Yankee offense wasted no time getting to work as in the first four innings they pounced on Felix Doubront who has actually fared well against the Bombers in his career. Big reasons that the Yankees were again, able to blow their opponent out was because of Alfonso Soriano. The red hot left fielder went 3-4 with another home run and four total runs batted in. Newest Yankee Mark Reynolds, went 2-5 with a home run in his first Yankee at-bat and a tack-on RBI single late in the game to give the Yankees more of a cushion. Reynolds could be a threat to opposing pitchers because of his power and the friendly dimensions at Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Reynolds killed the Yankees for the last two years when he played for the Orioles, and now it's time for him to help the same team he demolished in previous seasons with other teams. Alex Rodriguez continues to get his hits, with a pair tonight to raise his average to an even .300 on the young season (for him). Cano extended his hitting streak to eleven straight games with an RBI single in the fourth inning. The offense went 7-15 with runners in scoring position and have gone 22-49 in such situations over their last four games for a .549 average. In their last four games, the Yankees have hit seven home runs and they have come mostly from right handed hitters. The Yankees couldn't get a base hit from a righty hitter for the past two months and now they have legitimate threats up and down their new and improved lineup. Also, the Yankees smacked 15 hits tonight. This is the first time the Yankees have had 12+ hits in four consecutive games since the four they had last year to end the season.

Andy Pettitte finally benefited from a potent Yankee offense tonight after being on the losing end of close games over his past few starts. Pettitte said that this was one of the first times in recent memory where everything seemed to work. He picked a great night to put everything to work against a scary Boston lineup. The lefty went 6.2 innings, allowing three runs (0 earned) on 6 hits and struck out six batters. Girardi mixed and matched with his bullpen while it was still a close game but the Yankees ultimately added on runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach for the Red Sox.

If the Yankees can win tomorrow, they will be in a great position to win the series, and possible sweep the Red Sox at home. Anything less than a series win after taking the first game would be an utter disappointment as every single game could mean better chances at making the postseason in some capacity. The Yankees will send their best to the mound tomorrow night in Hiroki Kuroda to face a tough Boston lineup. The Yankees' old pal John Lackey will make the start for Boston. While Lackey has pitched to a very respectable ERA, he has a record of 7-10 which the Yankees should take advantage of tomorrow afternoon.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Reynolds' Yankee debut

Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Mark Reynolds 1B
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Felix Doubront

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hughes and Co. Embarrass Yanks

I shouldn't necessarily be saying that Phil Hughes embarrassed the Yankees today, but his efforts were not enough as he allowed three runs in six innings which qualified him for a quality start. However, the quality start statistic means so much when you are on the losing end of a game. In Hughes' case it was the Chris Nelson home run that allowed the game to get away from him. Before the home run to Nelson in the fourth inning, Hughes had only given up five hits and struck out five batters. Hughes' loss today is the eleventh for him on the season in a year where he is looking for a big contract from a Major League team. If Hughes knows what he is doing, he would take a qualifying offer from the Yankees to show that he is better than 4-12 with a 5 ERA. However, there will be a team, and probably more than one, that will be open to giving Hughes the big contract he wants. Hughes has been on the wrong side of close games more often than not this year which has contributed to his very high loss total. on the flipside of that, whenever the Yankees score for him, Hughes promptly allows the tying and go-ahead runs to score.
Today, Soriano drove in Gardner who tripled earlier in the third inning but Hughes came back with two runs in the fourth on a Hank Conger sac fly and Nelson's first home run of the year. Chris Nelson wouldn't be done in the fourth inning as he hit a grand slam off lefty Boone Logan with two outs in the eighth inning. The two home runs by Nelson were his first two of the entire season. Maybe the Yankees would have held on to him if he showed such a power display with New York. The bullpen let the Yankees down more than Hughes did, but he had to keep the game tied and compete instead of leaving balls in the middle of the plate for mediocre hitters to hit. The offense let Hughes down even more than the bullpen did. If the Yankees scored when they had opportunities to do so, Joe Girardi could have gone to his first-tier relievers. The team went 5-13 with runners in scoring position and left twelve men on base. Three of the five hits with runners in scoring position came in the ninth when the game was over for the Yankees. Vernon Wells was the biggest culprit of them all as he grounded into a double play with the bases loaded early in the game and grounded out again with two outs and a runner on third. He atoned for his offensive woes with a two-run double in the ninth but it was too little, too late. Wells is hitting fifth for the Yankees, which is probably too high to begin with when you have Granderson hitting behind him. Alfonso Soriano continued to stay hot today, going 4-5. Alex Rodriguez went 2-5 and Robinson Cano went 3-5 in the loss to the Angels who take one from the Yankees in the four game series.

A positive spin for the Yankees is that they were able to win two straight series against the Tigers and Angels. Both teams have the ability to play very well, and one of them is a favorite to reach the World Series. If the Yankees keep winning series they shouldn't have a problem with gliding into the wild card race. Things won't get any easier for the Yankees this weekend as they head to Boston for a crucial three game series against the red hot Red Sox. Struggling Andy Pettitte will take the mound tomorrow night and Felix Doubront will pitch for Boston in the opening game of three. Again, if the Yankees can take the series from the Red Sox they should be in good shape to get the second wild card. They also have a shot to re-enter the division race. In the case that they get swept or drop two out of three, all of their efforts over the last week will have been wasted as the games come off the calendar.

The sweep lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Alfonso Soriano LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells RF
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP CJ Wilson 

Alfonso Soriano!

You thought that Soriano couldn't top what he did in last night's game against the Angels? Let's recap: last night he drove in six which was a career high at the time while hitting two home runs and an RBI single. Tonight he topped even his own records by driving in SEVEN runs by hitting a grand slam, a two run double and a solo home run for giggles. He has raised his average back up to .255 after two incredible nights. Tonight, Soriano did not make an out as he went 3-3 with three runs scored, seven runs batted in and even managed to get walked through all of the craziness. The Yankees wouldn't have been on the run they are on right now if it was not for Alfonso Soriano's heroics. After remaining cool for the majority of his early games back with the Yankees, Soriano's bat has heated up as he has gone on the biggest two game tear of his long career. Soriano wasn't the only offensive force in the lineup, as Robinson Cano too had a night he will remember. Cano went 4-4 with an RBI, two runs scored and a walk. The Yankees 3-6 hitters reached base in thirteen of eighteen plate appearances, going 10-15 with nine runs, three doubles, two home runs, nine RBI and three walks. The man in the center of it all though, was the one and only Alfonso Soriano who at age 37 has found the fountain of youth with the Yankees in a time they need it most from him. The Yankees have not lost a season series to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim since 2008 and with tonight's win they guarantee themselves at least a series win in the four game series versus the Halos.

Let's not forget about Ivan Nova, who tossed 7.1 innings, allowing only three runs. He gave up ten hits but struck out seven batters and didn't walk anyone. This game was a laugher early, so Nova could easily have started to implode himself, but he didn't. Nova pitched well and gave the Yankees their fourth straight win. The Yankees have not had a four game winning streak in months so it's nice to see them winning consistently. Nova is the first Yankee right-handed pitcher with seven straight starts of seven innings and three or less runs. The last time this was accomplished by a Yankee RHP was in 1998 when David Cone did it. Nova has gone 5-3 with a 2.17 ERA and 69 strikeouts in eleven appearances since coming off the disabled list.

The Yankees have a chance to sweep this four game series at home against the Angels tomorrow afternoon with Hughes on the mound. Phil Hughes has been awful for the Yankees this year in most starts and his 4-11 record shows it. It will be an afternoon game when the balls carry further so Hughes may have another rough outing tomorrow. If Alfonso Soriano and the Yankees keep scoring runs at this pace, there may be a chance that they can bail Hughes out. With the Rays winning tonight, the Yankees remain 5.5 games back in the wildcard race and with the Red Sox losing, the Yankees gain one game on Boston and are 8.5 games behind the dominant Sox.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Going for three lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Jered Weaver

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An Unfamiliar Offensive Explosion

How unfamiliar was tonight? This is the first time since April 9th that the Yankees have scored at least twelve runs. On April 9th it was against the Kansas City Royals when Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis were doing damage for the Bombers. Tonight a different cast of characters joined in on the offensive output as Alfonso Soriano drove in six runs, a career high, on two home runs. One home run gave the Yankees the lead in the fifth inning after the Angels took the lead off Sabathia. The second long ball came in pile-on mode in the seventh inning when the Yankees scored four runs against Joe Blanton. Alfonso Soriano is hitting his stride in his second stint with the Yankees, much like Ichiro did toward the end of August and into September last year. To differentiate, I think it's safe to say that Soriano's impact has been more on the power side of things. Although he did drive in a run on an RBI single to right-center with a runner on third base, resembling something that Ichiro does with his eyes closed. Eduardo Nunez, who was the leadoff hitter, had two hits and drove in four runs on two force outs in the infield and on a bloop single with two outs in the eighth inning. Nunez was just trying to put the ball in play and it worked at the time as he gave the Yankees a couple of RBI when the game was still tight. Alex Rodriguez also recorded his first double of the season which scored two runs. Everybody joined the party tonight as every Yankee starter recorded at least one hit, which amounted to nineteen hits total in the contest. Despite all of the offense tonight the night belonged to Alfonso Soriano who hit two home runs and drove in six runs.

CC Sabathia was the beneficiary of an explosive offense, which certainly makes up for his lack of offensive support throughout the majority of the year. CC was not strong tonight as he went only six innings, allowing three runs (two earned), walked SIX but struck out seven batters. Sabathia caught a huge break in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and one out when Tommy Field lined into a double play when Chris Nelson tried to score from third on what would be a sac fly but Chris Nelson left third base too soon and the Yankees appealed to which the umpire ruled that the runner did indeed leave the base before the ball was caught in left by Soriano. Had that run scored, the game would be tied at 4. Instead, the floodgates opened up for the Yankees and they took advantage promptly after they catch the break.

After struggling so mightily in the middle of the season, the Yankees have won their last three games and four of their last five games. All they have to do over their next two games is to split and they will have themselves their second straight series win. The team needs to keep focusing on their games and the standings will respond in their favor down the stretch. Tomorrow, the Yankees will try to make it four in a row against a tough customer in Jered Weaver who is the ace of the Angels staff. The thriving Ivan Nova will make the start for the Yankees. Nova has too, been plagued by little run support but has pitched very well since June.

Interesting lineup...

No Gardner after the last few nights he has had? Seems odd to me but Joe knows...

Eduardo Nunez SS 
Alfonso Soriano LF 
Robinson Cano 2B 
Alex Rodriguez DH 
Vernon Wells RF 
Curtis Granderson CF
Jayson Nix 3B 
Lyle Overbay 1B 
Austin Romine C 

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jason Vargas

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kuroda Sparkles in Tight Win

Hiroki Kuroda was the story in this one, as he went eight shutout innings, delivering the Yankees their second straight win and third win in four games. Kuroda himself, won his eleventh game of the year and has lowered his already Cy Young worthy ERA to 2.33, which is good for second best in the American League. The league is not able to catch up with Kuroda, as at age 38 he keeps batters off balance with his off-speed pitches. In his eight brilliant innings of work, Hiroki struck out seven batters and was able to get a key double play to end the eighth inning with runners on the corners and one out with Josh Hamilton at the plate. Kuroda keeps performing his magic and the Yankees are a better team when Kuroda pitches. As a fan I know that the Yankees best chances of winning come when Kuroda is on the mound and he proved me and all other fans right by turning in a performance worthy of being called an ace. With CC Sabathia on the pitching staff, he will always be the official ace but this year Hiroki Kuroda has stolen the show with his 11-7 record, which should be at least three wins higher than it already is. However, Kuroda has an incentive to win the Cy Young voting if he can continue to pitch at this rate. In 2010, Felix Hernandez won the pitching honors with a 13-12 record and a 2.27 ERA. The baseball writers looked past the wins and looked into the numbers that are more meaningful, including ERA, WAR and strikeout totals. Well, in over 150 innings, Kuroda has allowed only twelve homers, twenty-eight walks and his WHIP is sitting at just below 1.05. In addition, his WAR is approaching 5.

The game became dicey in the ninth inning when Girardi mixed and matched to collect the win. Boone Logan promptly allowed a lead-off single before striking out the next batter. Robertson was next in line as Girardi did not intend to use Mariano Rivera after throwing 23 pitches yesterday. Robertson walked Trout, which was probably smart. Following the Trout walk, Josh Hamilton hit a double to score JB Shuck to make the game very interesting. Robertson then intentionally walked Erick Aybat, who has killed the Yankees in his career. Mark Trumbo who has been struggling lately, struck out. The final batter was former Yankee Chris Nelson, who worked the count to 3-2 and whiffed on a fastball high and out of the zone to give Robertson his first save of the season and the Yankees their 60th win of the year.

The offense scratched out two runs today, with the second run coming in very handy. Brett Gardner scored the first run of the game with a single that scored Eduardo Nunez from second base in the third inning. Curtis Granderson then homered in the seventh inning to give the Yankees more breathing room that they would ultimately need to win the game. Garrett Richards pitched a hell of a ballgame, tossing eight innings himself but would walk away as the hard-luck loser.

The Yankees are winning these tight games, which is what they will need to continue doing if they want to get the second wildcard down the stretch. Tomorrow, CC Sabathia will try to ride the Yankees to their third straight win. Sabathia pitched well in his last start against the White Sox but left with a no-decision after Mariano Rivera blew the save. Jason Vargas will pitch for the Angels as they try to take back a game from the Yankees, who are beginning a bit of a hot streak.

Lineup against Angels

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Garrett Richards

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tigers Tie it Against Mo, Gardner Wins it!

This was a big game for the Yankees to win. With a loss today, the Yankees would have been .500 for the first time since going 5-5 to open the season. The Yankees also had some surprise contributions today from a man who has a flare for being the center of attention. Alex Rodriguez finally hit his first home run on the 2013 season, and it came against Justin Verlander in the second inning to tie the score at 1. Later in the inning after a couple of singles and one out, Eduardo Nunez lifted a fly ball into center field for a sac fly that gave the Yankees a permanent lead that they would hold on to until the ninth inning when Mariano Rivera, for the third straight save opportunity, blew the game after two home runs in the ninth with a two run lead to open the inning by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Alex Rodriguez also contributed by hitting an RBI single in the third inning off Verlander who he has owned in his career. Alfonso Soriano would also homer for his 2,000th career hit in the Major Leagues which would cap the Yankees scoring until the Tigers would claw back with three solo home runs to tie the game and send it into the bottom of the ninth inning where Brett Gardner, of all people hit a solo home run into the second deck. Gardner has been responsible for getting both walk-off hits this weekend. The home run was his first game winner of the sort in his career and the fifth walk-off hit in his career. This is the Yankees first series win since winning two of three against the Orioles on July 5-7th.

Andy Pettitte again was unable to give the Yankees length, going 4.1 innings before being lifted after loading the bases. Pettitte threw 101 pitches in that span and allowed only one run to score which was good news for the Yankees. If he allowed another run, Martinez's home run would probably mean the ball game. Fortunately for the Yankees, the bullpen would come in clutch until Rivera came in and blew the save. Back to Rivera, it is difficult to imagine this scenario playing out. You always figure that with a two run lead Rivera will get the job done but his recent funk is coming at the worst time, when the Yankees are desperate for wins. In Rivera's illustrious career, this is the first time he blew three straight save opportunities. That fact that Rivera never did this before this year proves how valuable he has been to the Yankees, and that it is a sign that his career was coming to an end. Still, Mariano is pitching like a 29 year old. He goes through these funks at least once a year and they usually come in August. I have no doubts that Mariano will come back and be the Mo that everyone knows.

The Angels come to Yankee Stadium tomorrow for an extended four game series. Yankees ace Hiroki Kuroda will try to give the Yankees a second straight win as he has been the one constant in the rotation all season long. Garrett Richards will try to get the Angels a win, who have been underperforming all year and are eseentially out of the race with a 53-62 record in mid-July. To make matters worse, Albert Pujols will miss the remainder of the season with

A-Rod back in the lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Justin Verlander

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tigers Claw the Yankees

Phil Hughes was highly inefficient today against the Tigers potent bats. Hughes lasted just 4.1 innings due to a high pitch count and in the process, surrendered two home runs; one to Miguel Cabrera and one to Austin Jackson. Jackson and Cabrera were the reason that the Yankees lost this game, because the Yankee pitching couldn't keep their bats at bay. After Hughes left the game with one out in the fifth inning Preston Claiborne came in to mop up Hughes' mess and allowed five runs to score. The only Yankee pitcher who didn't allow a run was Adam Warren who pitched two scoreless innings to close out the game on the Yankees pitching end. Phil Hughes' ERA now stands at a lofty 4.99 and his value is going further and further down the tubes. However,  Hughes' numbers away from Yankee Stadium are markedly better than when he pitches in front of the home crowd in home run friendly Yankee Stadium. The Tigers made the Yankees pitching staff look like they were middle relievers in the minor leagues. They pounded out nine runs and managed to hit three balls out of the ballpark.

There was no Yankee offense outside of Lyle Overbay. Overbay had all three RBI in the game on a two-run home run and later on an RBI single. Besides Overbay the Yankees lineup couldn't string together a couple of base hits if their lives depended on it. This is nothing new for the Yankees, who slip to 58-57 which is not a playoff team. The Yankees fans who still believe are falling on deaf ears because there is absolutely no way that this is a postseason worthy team.

Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees still have a chance to win their first series in over a month as they send the struggling Pettitte to the mound against the always dangerous Justin Verlander.  Pettitte is due for a quality start and with the Yankees getting embarrassed this afternoon, I expect a strong showing from this offense off Verlander, who they have hit well in the past.

Day off for A-Rod

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Curtis Granderson LF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Jayson Nix 3B
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez

Gardner Walks Off

The story before Brett Gardner hit an RBI single to win the game in the tenth inning was Mariano Rivera's inability to put the game away with his second straight blown save in two straight games. On Wednesday Rivera was unable to close the game against the White Sox which eventually went on to be a Chicago win in twelve innings. Tonight, Rivera was again able to record two outs but Miguel Cabrera took him deep with Austin Jackson on second base after recording a double earlier in the inning. Miguel Cebrera sent the Rivera offering deep into Monument Park and Mariano Rivera again walked off the mound with the game tied. This time though, the offense would take him off the hook as they won the game in ten innings. The Detroit reliever struck Chris Stewart out with one out and the bases loaded after intentionally walking Eduardo Nunez and Gardner didn't waste any time by slapping a ground ball past the leaping try of third baseman Miguel Cabrera to win the game for the Yankees. Gardner gets big hits for the Yankees, even if they are just slap singles. The Yankees need to score runs in any way possible and Gardner's speed and ability to swing the bat during a hot streak can ride the Yankees to victories. Alex Rodriguez went 0-4 with three strikeouts and couldn't get the big hit under pressure. Rodriguez is now hitless in his last 25 at-bats against right handed pitchers dating back to game 1 of the 2012 ALDS against the Orioles. His last hit off a righty came on 10/3/2012 against a Red Sox RHP. Yikes. A-Rod's ability to mash and rake may have taken a turn south but he can still be an asset on the field if he remains healthy.

Lost in the shuffle will be Ivan Nova's fantastic start. In seven innings, Nova allowed one run on eight hits and struck out seven batters. Ivan Nova has looked like an ace since late June. I sound like a broken record saying this, but Ivan Nova's success as a starter will determine how far the Yankees will go in the future. With Sabathia's age becoming an issue the Yankees have to rely on young starters to fill out the top of the rotation. If Nova keeps pitching like he has over his last six starts he will be in the conversation to be the Yankees number two starter in 2014 and beyond. If Sabathia's productivity really diminishes, Nova could be the future ace of the Yankees staff. In order for that to happen though, Nova needs to show that he has matured and has put last year in the rear-view mirror.

This was a big win for the Yankees. They stopped their four game losing streak and broke the Tigers' twelve game win streak. Little things like a key base hit is all the Yankees need. They have an opportunity to do much of the same tomorrow against Anibal Sanchez who has pitched to a sparkling ERA this year. In order to give themselves a chance at a win tomorrow afternoon, Phil Hughes has to show that he can come up big as his days as a Yankee are numbered and other teams have an eye on him for next year.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Trying to stay above .500

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano DH 
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Curtis Granderson LF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Rick Porcello

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Another Game that Got Away

CC Sabathia actually pitched well tonight, going 7.1 solid frames allowing just three earned runs. Sabathia looked like the ace the Yankees had for the first four years of Sabathia's tenure with the team. The Yankees really needed Sabathia to step up tonight in order to turn around a three game skid. Instead, Sabathia pitched well but Mariano Rivera couldn't hold on to the one run lead in the bottom of the ninth after Dunn singled to score the tying run. Neither team scored again until the twelfth inning when Robinson Cano put the Yankees in front by hitting a go-ahead solo home run that wouldn't hold up. The White Sox would score two runs to win the game off Adam Warren. The Yankees have now gotten swept by the White Sox in Chicago for two straight years. This is uncharted territory for the Yankees who find themselves digging a hole that is becoming deeper and deeper to climb out of.

The Yankees get a much needed off day tomorrow and start a fresh series at the stadium against the Tigers which will be no easy task. However, the Yankees are sending Ivan Nova to the mound. Nova has been their second best starter of the second half behind Kuroda. The Yankees  will have a lot of trouble scoring runs the rest of the way so it will be in their best interest to have solid starting pitching.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells DH
Curtis Granderson RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Austin Romine C

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Hector Santiago

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Yankees Lose Another

Girardi arguing HP umpire's incorrect call on Brett Gardner, who was called out on a throw home in the third inning.
When the Yankees lose two straight games to the Chicago White Sox, who are only three games better than the Houston Astros, you have to believe that their season is over. The Yankees are now over five games out of the wildcard race and the division is out of reach for them. Depending on how the Red Sox do tonight the Yankees will either be 10 games back and even more with a Red Sox win. The lone shining star for the Yankees tonight was Hiroki Kuroda who ends up with a very hard luck loss. Kuroda threw for seven innings allowing only three White Sox runs to score. He allowed nine hits tonight which was a season high for Kuroda but got out of many jams tonight which goes to show what a strong pitcher he is.

There was no offense to discuss tonight. The Yankees look as pitiful at the plate as they've looked all season long. Their offense has scored three total runs in two games against the White Sox pitching. The White Sox came into Monday's game having lost ten games in a row. Not all ten games were against good teams, so you can only imagine how bad the Yankees have been since they have dropped two in a row to the same Sox team.

In tomorrow's finale the Yankees will try to salvage one game in this three game set against the White Sox. The Yankees have not won a series since taking two of three games from the Baltimore Orioles on July 5-6. The Yankees have not had a two game winning streak since taking the final two games of the Kansas City series at Yankee Stadium on July 10-11. Tomorrow's matchup will feature a pair of lefties in CC Sabathia who has been dreadful this season and Hector Santiago for the White Sox. It is imperative for the Yankees to take at least one game because a sweep at the hands of the lowly White Sox would be the biggest embarrassment for the Yankees since... Monday.

A-Rod at DH

Brett Gardner CF
Alfonso Soriano LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells RF
Jayson Nix 3B
Eduardo Nunez SS
David Adams 1B
Austin Romine C

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Chris Sale

Yankees Get Routed in A-Rod's Return

As there was no offense, all the Yankees could do tonight was to watch the horrible White Sox walk all over them. Andy Pettitte was awful, again, as he allowed seven earned runs on ELEVEN hits in only 2.2 innings. When you put the line in perspective it is mind blowing that Pettitte allowed twelve baserunners reach base in under three innings. Most of them scored, as Andy was touched up for seven runs. From the very beginning you could tell that Andy Pettitte wasn't going to be sharp and it was going to be a night for the bullpen. The bullpen has to record the final sixteen outs of the game and they did so rather well as the only reliever to allow a run was Shawn Kelley who pitched two innings in relief. Joba Chamberlain actually turned in a scoreless inning of his own which is something he has not been doing in recent weeks. His ERA is inflated to almost 5 but today was a step in the right direction for Chamberlain, free agent to-be...

As for the circus that is called Alex Rodriguez, he didn't disappoint. Rodriguez held a press conference to which he did not discuss PED use but instead attempted to get philosophical with the writers which everyone knew was fake and insincere. Alex Rodriguez is a walking, breathing pathological liar who creates conspiracy theories nobody understands but himself. A-Rod again left the door wide open during the conference when he stated that he would save any possible PED talk for another day which means he knows what his ultimate fate will be but is not willing to share it with the media presently. Instead, he is feeding the media with gossip garbage that is sickening. He is a slap in the face to the game of baseball and all the legends who have come before him. What he did during the game is irrelevant because game he plays, every time he steps into the on-deck circle, every at-bat and every pitch will be under intense scrutiny. For A-Rod all of the attention is nothing new. Despite his efforts to take the spotlight off of him he finds ways, maybe accidentally, to have the focus on himself. He will play this series, and will begin his suspension before Friday's game. However since he is appealing it is very possible that he will finish the season with the Yankees, who don't seem destined to make it to the postseason. To make matters worse for the Yankees, they placed Derek Jeter on the disabled list for the third time this season. This time Jeter suffered a strained calf but expects to be in the lineup after his fifteen days are up.

Yankees ace Hiroki Kuroda will pitch against this very Chicago lineup tomorrow night. A tough lefty in Chris Sale will face off against the Yankees who can't get hits off lefties, as evidenced by tonight's game against Jose Quintana who brought home the win for the Sox.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The circus lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells 1B
Curtis Granderson LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C

SP: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Jose Quintana

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hughes Struggles in Loss

Once again, Phil Hughes gave the Yankees an underwhelming performance by failing to make it through three innings against a Padres offense that couldn't hit their way out of a cardboard box on most days. I went into the day looking forward to Phil Hughes possibly auditioning for his future team, the San Diego Padres. However, Hughes showed the Yankees and Padres alike, that he was not ready to pitch well under pressure, even in San Diego where they haven't seen quality baseball in years. Hughes is such an enigma for the Yankees, an enigma that resembles AJ Burnett circa 2010 and 2011. It's time the Yankees get rid of Hughes. Since they didn't deal him at the trade deadline it is likely that they will tender him a qualifying offer at seasons end to which he will probably say no to. In the slim chance that Hughes accepts, it will be good for his career in the long run if he can rattle off a great season with the Yankees in 2014. If he accepts, the Yankees get another year of questions surrounding Hughes but at the same time will be thrilled to have one spot in the rotation figured out.

The offense scored as many runs as they did last night but since Hughes allowed five runs in 2.2 innings, the Yankees had trouble catching up to the Padres who ended up scoring six runs total. Curtis Granderson delivered again with an RBI single in the sixth inning followed by an RBI single by Lyle Overbay. The Yankees capped their scoring for the day with Austin Romine's first big league homer! The young catcher has finally gotten another monkey off his back and has filled another important column in his career statistics. Romine has been hitting well in limited starts for the Yankees since the start of July. He added to those numbers today with two more hits, one of which was his first Major League home run. 

The Yankees will enter Chicago tomorrow night for a three game set against the White Sox. The bigger story will be Alex Rodriguez whose suspension is rumored to be announced tomorrow afternoon by Major League Baseball. If Selig rules that this is a straight PED suspension, A-Rod can appeal and play until his appeal is heard and ruled upon. 

Gardner gets a day off

Ichiro Suzuki RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Curtis Granderson CF
Lyle Overbay 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Jayson Nix 3B
Austin Romine C
Phil Hughes RHP

Granderson, Nova Ride Yankees to Victory

There weren't many note-worthy things to mention in tonight's game where only three runs were scored between the two teams. Luckily for the Yankees they scored all three of the runs in a 3-0 win over the San Diego Padres. Curtis Granderson was the offense tonight. Fresh off his second DL stint, Granderson wasted no time in coming back with a bang. He smashed a no doubter into the right field seats to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning. Granderson had two of the Yankees five hits tonight, and he was involved in all two scoring plays for the Yankees. In addition to two RBI, Granderson scored the final run of the game on a Jayson Nix RBI single in the ninth inning. Without Granderson the Yankees offense went 3-28. The Yankees were 1-6 with runners in scoring position with Jayson Nix getting the lone hit with a runner in scoring position.

Two runs were plenty for Ivan Nova who went seven outstanding innings. Nova did not allow any runs and gave up only four hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out eight batters. His ERA drops to 3.08 and he is beginning to look more and more like the pitcher the Yankees thought they had during the 2011 season. I now feel confident when Nova takes the mound which is something I couldn't say at all during the 2012 season when he was a mess. Behind Kuroda, Ivan Nova is the Yankees second strongest starting pitcher. Nova's success tonight came with two pitches: a fastball and a curve. He didn't throw any changeups or sliders to the Padres hitters and it really worked for the young right hander. Also, since Nova's return from the disabled list on June 23rd, he owns a 2.15 ERA.

David Robertson and Mariano Rivera came in after Nova exited the game and nailed it down easily. Mariano Rivera retired the Padres on nine pitches as he earned one of his easier saves of the season. As Mariano's time winds down I cherish more and more, each save opportunity and chance I have to see Mariano pitch.

In tomorrow's rubber game the Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the mound who has found himself pitching very well in big ballparks. Hopefully Petco Field will gobble up any would-be home runs in other parks for Hughes. Newly acquired Ian Kennedy will pitch against the Yankees as he looks to turn his season around pitching for a new club.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

CC, Yankees Fall to Lowly Padres

Coming into tonight's game I sincerely believed that CC Sabathia would be able to turn his bad pitching around in a big ballpark against a weak-hitting team. However, Sabathia's ineffectiveness continues as he allowed five earned runs in 5.2 innings of work. It's strange whenever you see Girardi pull Sabathia in the middle of an inning and tonight he did just that. Sabathia's ace title may be flaking before our very eyes and Joe Girardi certainly made it known that CC wasn't his ace tonight by pulling him before Sabathia allowed any more damage in the sixth inning. I am very scared at the thought of our once ace becoming a back of the rotation starter before my very eyes. I am so used to Sabathia being the rock of the Yankees rotation but he has proved in 2013 that he isn't that anymore.. or for at least the moment. Sabathia's ERA continues to take a turn upward as it now stands at 4.78. That means that CC is pitching worse than Phil Hughes has this year. Luckily for the Yankees, they have another ace in their rotation who goes by the name of Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda has been priceless for the Yankees this year as he continues to prove that he is the only starter capable of getting the job done every five days. The remaining four starters in the rotation have been inconsistent, injured or just plain bad.

The offense, much like CC Sabathia, was incapable of scoring runs necessary to win a Major League game. The only two runs scored on an Eduardo Nunez double and ironically enough, on a CC Sabathia ground out. The Yankees managed only seven hits against the Padres and Curtis Granderson went 0-4 with two strikeouts in his return from his second injury. Granderson will be a vital part to this Yankees lineup going forward, especially knowing that A-Rod's days are numbered. The Yankees are trying to keep Rodriguez off the field and are looking for contributions in other areas. Granderson will have to show that he can still be the Yankees home run guy when they need it. Also Granderson needs to cut down on the strikeouts but even he would be able to tell you that.

In tomorrow's game Ivan Nova who has been experiencing terrible run support will pitch against the Padres. Nova has been great since coming back last month but has a 4-4 record because of his offense's lack of runs. Pitching against the Yankees will be right handed pitcher Tyson Ross. Ross has pitched to a nice ERA but has not gotten run support, much like his counterpart.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Granderson is Back!

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS 
Robinson Cano 2B
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Chris Stewart C
CC Sabathia LHP 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yankees Outlast Dodgers Bullpen

The starting pitching duel was reason enough to tune into the classic matchup between the Yankees and the Dodgers. Neither team could get anything off the opposing starting pitcher until the Yankees got to the Dodgers bullpen in the ninth inning. Lyle Overbay delivered the big hit of the night, a game winning RBI single off lefty reliever Paco Rodriguez. Overbay had both Yankee RBI's last night and came up big off the bench tonight to deliver the Yankees a crucial win against the Dodgers. The Yankees would tack on two more runs on an error on the second baseman. Ichiro and Overbay both scored after the Dodgers intentionally walked Ichiro to face Jayson Nix. Nix popped up to second base but the ball came out of the fielder's glove, allowing both runners to score. Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to collect his 34th save of the year and the 642nd of his brilliant career. Rivera's mind-boggling numbers just put into perspective how amazing he is at his job.

Kuroda and Kershaw both threw up blanks. Kuroda pitched seven solid innings and allowed no runs. He struck out eight in the process and allowed only five hits and walked one batter. His seasonal ERA now stands at a minicule 2.38. Boone Logan came on in the eighth inning but escaped a jam with the potential winning run on second base. Rivera, as mentioned before, came into the game for the ninth with a three run lead and struck out two batters in the save.

Clayton Kershaw pitched even better than Kuroda, if that was even possible. Kershaw tossed eight scoreless frames, striking out five and walking none. Mattingly could have easily let Kershaw start the ninth because he was only at 97 pitches but instead he put the game in the hands of his bullpen who blew the game to the Yankees.

The Yankees will have a day off tomorrow before coming into Petco Field for three games against the Padres. Curtis Granderson is expected to be activated on Friday to give the Yankees even more depth in the outfield. With Granderson in the lineup, the Yankees bench could be a force to be reckoned with. The struggling Sabathia will pitch for the Yankees and Andrew Cashner will go for San Diego.