Thursday, May 15, 2014

Subway Series finale lineup

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Chase Whitley RHP- SP

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

No Beltran in lineup

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. RHP Zach Wheeler

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Lineup for Milwaukee finale

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS 
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Kelly Johnson 3B
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
John Ryan Murphy C
David Phelps- RHP

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rubber game lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
John Ryan Murphy C

SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. Hector Santiago 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Lineup vs Angels

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP CJ Wilson

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Afternoon lineup

Alfredo Aceves has been called up from Triple A after the Yankees bullpen threw 182 pitches in last night's loss.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Yangervis Solarte SS

SP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tonight's lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Brian McCann DH
Brian Roberts 2B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
John Ryan Murphy C

SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. LHP David Price

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Roenis Elias

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lineup behind Sabathia

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Brian Roberts 2B

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Chris Young

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday night lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Kelly Johnson 3B
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Ichiro Suzuki LF

SP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Garrett Richards 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Murphy Rides Yanks to Victory

Back up catcher John Ryan Murphy came through not once, but twice in today's afternoon matinee against the offensively abled Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim as he collected two big hits. First, a two run single in the second inning with two outs to get his first two RBI of the season. In his next at bat against lefty Hector Santiago, Murphy drilled a ball into the left field seats for his first big league homer to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead which would be the final score of the game. Without Murphy, the Yankees would have likely lost this game so it goes to prove that one player can make the difference, even the 25th man on the roster. Murphy has looked a lot better behind the plate and at the plate this season. He struggled in 2013, coming up to the Major Leagues for the first time and making mental errors on the field several times. Other than Murphy today, the only Yankee run came on a balk with the bases loaded in the second inning. The offense was largely quiet this afternoon, much like the Stadium throughout the game.

Yankee starter Vidal Nuno surrendered a first inning homer to Mike Trout and gave up a couple of more runs in the fourth inning, so he did not factor into the decision today. Dellin Betances won his first Major League game today after pitching two scoreless innings in which he struck out three batters. Shawn Kelley also pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings before handing over the ball to Matt Thornton in the eighth to get out Raul Ibanez. Ultimately, David Robertson notched his third save of the year and first since before he went on the disabled list. It took Robertson 26 pitches, but he got the job done, leaving Trout on second base after walking the young star with one out for Albert Pujols, who flied out to left field. Robertson struck out Howie Kendrick to end the game and with this save, Robertson has passed another test. He saved a one-run game and did so against the heart of the Angels lineup.

In tomorrow afternoon's night game, star rookie Masahiro Tanaka will face off against Garrett Richards (another lefty) as the Yankees look to take two of three from the Angels to open this homestand.

The lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Alfonso Soriano RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B
John Ryan Murphy C

SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. LHP Hector Santiago

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP CJ Wilson

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yankees Blow out Sox

 
The Yankees came into the game with the cloud that was the pine tar game and the offense quickly reminded everyone that despite Pineda's wrong last night, their offense is capable of putting up double digit runs. Felix Doubront was all over the place tonight, allowing seven runs in under three innings. However, only three of the runs were earned. The Red Sox defense committed five errors tonight as the Yankees took advantage of Boston's sloppiness. In addition, the pitching allowed twelve walks to Yankee batters and it came down to infielder/outfielder Mike Carp pitching an inning for Boston. He walked five batters in the inning but got out of the inning because of a double play in between everything, walking in only one run. Not like it mattered, because the Yankees were bound to win the game anyway as they were only three outs away with a nine run lead.

As mentioned before, the Yankees scored enough runs to win them five games depending on the day, of course. But CC Sabathia pitched six innings and labored but allowed only two runs. Shawn Greene allowed the other two Boston runs as he couldn't get an out and forced Girardi to use Adam Warren for 1.2 innings before having Robertson close the game out, just to get some pitches in after not throwing since coming off the DL. Sabathia wins his third game against two losses and the Yankees remain in first place in the AL East. 

Overall, this was a successful road trip as the Yankees took two of four against the Rays and two of three games against the Red Sox for a 4-3 road trip before coming back to Yankee Stadium to welcome in Mike Trout and the Angels. Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees and the Yankees will see three straight lefty starters this weekend beginning with CJ Wilson tomorrow night. 

Post-Tar lineup

Michael Pineda is reportedly accepting a 10 game suspension for his use of pine tar in last night's game. In roster notes, Dean Anna and Preston Claiborne have been optioned while pitchers Shawn Greene and Bruce Billings are now on the roster.

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Felix Doubront

PINE-da

 
The main story of tonight's game will always be remembered as the game where Michael Pineda put pine tar on his neck before coming out to pitch the second inning. Pineda using pine tar is a big deal, as it gives him an edge in colder weather on the grip of the baseball. Pitchers have been doctoring the baseball for years, but none have gone out of their way to make it so obvious. Michael Pineda already used pine tar against the Red Sox once at Yankee Stadium earlier this month, but nothing was made of it. Girardi and Rothschild likely confronted Pineda of this after the start but the conversation must not have registered for Pineda, who looks to be too immature to take the game of baseball seriously. He knows that using pine tar as a pitcher is not allowed, yet did so anyway behind the backs of his bosses. He started the game off awfully, taking 30 pitches to get out of the first inning with no pine tar. Between innings however, he loaded up a glob of pine tar smack on the side of his neck and with two outs in the second John Farrell was out of the dugout to have the umpires examine the substance. The home plate umpire confirmed that the substance on Pineda's neck was pine tar and immediately ejected him from the game. Pineda will also most definitely face a suspension. My guess is that it will be between five and ten games. In addition, the Yankees may impose a penalty on Pineda separate from what the league decides to do. He has to realize that using pine tar or any illegal substance is not acceptable and doing so will cost him even more in the future.

On a side note, John Lackey pitched like an ace against the Yankees tonight, going eight dominant innings allowing just one run on seven hits and striking out eleven batters. Tonight's start was a major difference from his last two starts where he couldn't get past the fifth inning without allowing a ton of runs. In his last start against the Yankees, he gave up a career high four home runs in under five innings of work as the Yankees romped Lackey. Tonight, he made them pay by pitching dominantly in the cold Boston night that largely surrounded the Pineda situation. Lackey won't even be remembered for his ace-like performance because of the Pineda story.

In tomorrow's rubber game, CC Sabathia will take on Felix Doubront as the Yankees try to take a second straight series from the Red Sox. Doubront was in trouble in his first start against the Yankees, but ended up having a decent pitching line. Nova was the winner in that game, which also featured a plethora of injuries and corky plays.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lineup- Gardner playing right

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brett Gardner RF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B

SP: RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP John Lackey

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ellsbury, Yankees rout Lester

 
The Yankees offense was alive tonight, scoring eight runs off Boston starter Jon Lester in 4 2/3 innings. Only three of the eight runs scored off the Red Sox ace lefty were earned. In the fifth inning with two outs first baseman Mike Napoli didn't catch a line drive off the bat of Teixeira and it opened the floodgates where the Yankees would go on to score four runs in the inning. However, it all began in the first inning when Jacoby Ellsbury, in his first at bat in Fenway since returning as a Yankee, hit the ball hard to center field and it was initially ruled an inside-the-park home run however there was fan interference and Ellsbury was placed at third base. He would score on the very next batter's base hit. Jeter, who singled in Ellsbury would also come around to score after the catcher made an error in his throw to second base which allowed Jeter to go all the way to third. Beltran, who also homered in the game, drove Jeter in and the Yankees were already all over Lester, who threw 118 pitches in his outing. Lester allowed ELEVEN hits and walked four batters but did strike out seven hitters in his short outing. Every single Yankee in the starting lineup except Solarte had at least a hit, with six players having multi-hit games. Ellsbury did make outs twice with runners in scoring position, but he also hit a two-run double in the Yankees four run fifth inning. Jeter and Beltran also had two RBI a piece.

There was much hype surrounding Tanaka's first career start at Fenway Park against the likes of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Right out of the gates, the Yankees scored Tanaka enough for him to feel comfortable before even throwing his first pitch. Tanaka strives for perfection so for him, tonight's performance was not up to his standards. For anyone else, it would be a pleasure to toss 7 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs on two solo home runs to David Ortiz and Mike Napoli. I believe that the fact that Tanaka pitched this well against an explosive lineup that is defending their World Series title says a lot about his ability, not just that the league has not seen much of the Japanese righty.

The Yankees have taken four of the first five games from the Red Sox, and take game one of three at Fenway Park against a team that was dominant at home last season. Tomorrow, the Yankees will once again face John Lackey who they have already knocked around once this season, in search for their third straight win and thirteenth of the season. Michael Pineda will make another start against Boston, having won his first against the Red Sox in the infamous "pine tar" game at Yankee Stadium.

Lineup @ Fenway

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brian Roberts 2B

SP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Jon Lester

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Yankees Win in Extras

 
This was a tight game through and through, as the score was tied from the seventh inning on with each team scoring one run. For the Yankees, until the twelfth inning their only run came on an RBI double by Brett Gardner that was inches away from being a two-run home run. Nevertheless, Gardner was responsible for even having the Yankees win this game in the first place by putting them on the board on an otherwise offense-less day. The Rays tied the score at 1 in the seventh which started on a ground ball that was a sure double play that would have ended the inning but Brian Roberts bobbled the ball at second base and was not able to get any outs, eventually leading to a Matt Joyce sac fly that tied the game until the 12th inning. Both teams had their chances throughout, but the big blow came from a no-contact play as Rays manager Joe Maddon intentionally loaded the bases in the 12th inning for Dean Anna with two outs. Anna fought off pitch after pitch and ended up walking on a 3-2 count, forcing in the go-ahead run. The Yankees would continue to pour it on with two outs as Beltran collected a two-run single up the middle and Alfonso Soriano singled in a run as well on a bloop hit into shallow right field. Newly called up Preston Claiborne got the win after pitching two scoreless innings for the Yankees. However, the most important reliever for the Yankees was Shawn Kelley who pitched the ninth and tenth innings and struck out four batters in a row to close out the tenth.

Lefty Vidal Nuno gave the Yankees exactly what they needed; five scoreless innings striking out six and allowing only three hits and was able to get out of a jam early in the game. With Ivan Nova's elbow ligament tear, the Yankees will remember what Nuno did today in their decision on who the new fifth starter will be. Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno are certainly frontrunners but David Phelps has been pitching better of late to make Girardi's decision a difficult one.

The Yankees will have a day off tomorrow after playing a four-and-a-half hour game today in Tampa. They will make their first trip to Fenway Park, Ellsbury's first visit back to Fenway since signing with the Yankees this offseason. Knowing the Boston fans, they will give Ellsbury no mercy which should motivate the center fielder to get some big hits against his old team. Masahiro Tanaka will make the start on Tuesday, which will be highly watched as people want to see if he can shut down one of the most potent offenses in baseball.

Trying to recover- lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
John Ryan Murphy C

SP: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. LHP Cesar Ramos

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tonight's lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Dean Anna SS

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Chris Archer

Yankees Bullpen Can't Hold On

After a solid outing by Kuroda, the Yankee bullpen came into the game and one by one, gave up hit after hit. Cabral hit three batters with pitches before getting ejected from the game. It was clear that the hit by pitches were unintentional, but it shows how inept he is at getting outs. Following the game, Cabral was designated for assignment by the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda left the game in the sixth with two outs because of an elevated pitch count, but had he finished the sixth inning, maybe the Yankees would have won, Cabral would not have been DFA'd and David Phelps wouldn't have suffered an injury, which is becoming a common occurrence for Phelps in recent years. If he wants a chance to start for the Yankees in the future he needs to be more durable.

The offense scored five runs tonight, highlighted by a bases clearing double hit by Scott Sizemore in the second inning off Erik Bedard. However, the big hit would not hold up in the grand scheme of things as the bullpen couldn't hold on and the offense couldn't add on. This was a night to forget for the Yankees, as it looks like Tampa has returned to being a house of horrors for the Bombers.

On a brighter note, the Yankees have a chance to get back on track tomorrow, as they still have the lead in the division and can bounce back because of the veteran presence on their ball club. Ivan Nova will start tomorrow against the Rays. Pitching for the Rays will be Chris Archer. Archer is a young prospect who pitched last year and beat the Yankees a couple of times. He has an explosive fastball and great breaking pitches, which are often missed by bats.

Friday, April 18, 2014

No Beltran in lineup

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Scott Sizemore 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Erik Bedard

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yankees Slug the Rays

 
I expected the Yankees to do well in this series against the Rays. The momentum they had during their home stand was bound to carry over with this group of guys that are building chemistry amongst each other. However, I did not expect them to come into Tampa and completely slug ace pitcher David Price. The Yankees offense got to Price for six runs on two home runs, two consecutive triples and countless doubles in the five innings Price threw against the Yankees. Usually, the match-up between Price and Sabathia goes in the Rays favor but tonight the Yankees broke out the sticks against a former left-handed Cy Young award winner. The offense scored ten runs in all, hitting three homers, two triples and four doubles in their sixteen total hits. Ichiro and Beltran were the only two starters who did not get hits against Tampa Bay pitching. Another notable occurrence surrounded Yangervis Solarte who hit the first home run of his Major League career. It has been a long road for Solarte, but he has proven that he is up at the Major League level to stay, and he is making a loud statement. You know that he won't get sent down when Mark Teixeira returns on Sunday. Along with the home run by Solarte, he also had a double and a single, making him a triple short of hitting for the cycle. He was not the only Yankees who came up just short of hitting for the cycle. Brian Roberts, who was dealing with a sore back for the last few days and before that was in the midst of a terrible slump, was also one hit short of the cycle. However, Roberts was a home run shy of the cycle. He hit a triple, a single and a double.

CC Sabathia was given a nice lead early on, as the score was already 4-0 Yankees by the time Sabathia had already recorded only three outs in the game. Sabathia needed a start like the one he had tonight. His offense scored a lot of runs for him, which allowed the lefty to experiment with pitches and challenge the hitters. Sabathia ended having thrown seven innings, allowing only two runs on seven hits. CC struck out six batters, which is significant because since he lost the velocity on his fastball, his strikeout rates have been lower. Also going in CC's favor was the ability of his defense to turn an around-the-horn triple play (5-4-3) in the third inning with runners on first and second with no outs. His only blemish was a home run to Sean Rodriguez in the seventh inning, but the game was already a blow out at that point so the solo shot meant nothing to the lefty or to the Yankees.

The Yankees passed their ultimate test today; they were able to knock around Price, who is the only legitimate starter on this club right now. Tomorrow evening, Hiroki Kuroda will face this anemic offense and Erik Bedard will pitch against the Yankees. Bedard has faced the Yankees many times and has not done a good job. The Yankees have won six of their last seven games, and will look to make it seven straight tomorrow night.

Lineup vs. Price

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Scott Sizemore 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki LF

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP David Price 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Game 2/2 Analysis: Yankees Sweep Double Header

 
Not only do the Yankees sweep the day/night double header against the Chicago Cubs, but they also shut them out in both games, marking the first time the Yankees have shut out an opponent in two straight games since Aug 7-8, 2009 against the Red Sox. To go even further, the Yankees have not allowed a run in 21 innings, since the sixth inning of Sunday's game against Boston which the Yankees went on to win. The two starters for the Yankees today were the two biggest wildcards of the season. However, both went on the mound and proved why they should not be doubted. Michael Pineda pitched the night-cap of the split double header, and despite running into trouble and putting men on base he escaped his own jams and went on to pitch six solid innings. Girardi took Pineda out because he doesn't want the 25 year old fresh off major shoulder surgery to reinjure himself. Pineda's pitches weren't especially devastating today as highlighted by his three strikeouts. He still managed to give the Yankees quality innings though, and kept them in a game that they could easily have lost because the Yankees offense scored only two runs and a combined five runs in both games. There were not many negatives to take away from either of today's games. As a matter of fact, there was a lot to be excited about in both games, specifically in regards to the starting pitching performances. The Yankees future was on display in the double header. The future is Michael Pineda. The future is Masahiro Tanaka. If these pitchers can stay healthy and pitch as well as they have combined this season, I feel good about the Yankees long term starting rotation plans.

After taking both games against Chicago and winning three out of four against the Red Sox, the Yankees will take their 9-6, first place record to what has been a house of horrors for them in recent years. They will play four games in St. Petersburg, Florida against the depleted Tampa Bay Rays, who have been having trouble all season long scoring runs. Also, every time you turn around, another one of their starting pitchers is injured, most recently Matt Moore who is headed for Tommy John surgery. Given that the top notch starters besides David Price are not in the rotation, I expect the Yankees to continue what they have been doing since Thursday. They are riding a 4 game winning streak, and I believe they can sustain that in Tampa.

Game 2 lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Scott Sizemore 3B
Kelly Johnson 1B
John Ryan Murphy C

SP: RHP Michael Pineda vs. LHP Travis Wood

Game 1/2 Analysis: Tanaka Delivers Ace Performance

 
Tanaka's line in this afternoon's start was one worthy of an ace headline. Tanaka pitched eight full frames, allowing just two hits and no runs. He struck out ten batters and walked only one in his 106 pitch performance. He could easily have pitched into the ninth, as his pitches became better as the game progressed but Girardi decided to keep him fresh being that it is only April 16th and the Yankees still have a whole season to play. Combine that with Tanaka making so much, the Yankees wouldn't want to risk injury for one more inning against the Cubs in April; it wouldn't be worth the loss in the long run. On an interesting side note, Tanaka has now surpassed Al Leiter's 25 strikeouts in his first three career starts as a Yankee, with 28 K's in his first three games. On top of his 28 strikeours, Tanaka is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA which signals the ace conversation. Perhaps the sunlight contributed to Tanaka's outstanding performance, as many pitchers (like Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda) prefer(red) to pitch during the day or their numbers just reflected the sentiment.

Entering the season, there was much doubt surrounding Tanaka and his ability to adjust to Major League Baseball. The 25 year old certainly looks like he has been pitching in the states for his entire career, as he has yet to be vulnerable in any of his first three starts for the Yankees. If the ace pitcher can continue at his current rate, he will be the Yankees Opening Day starter for many years to come, but lets not get ahead of ourselves. He is new to the league and a majority of the teams have not even faced him yet. After this season, we will be able to make a judgement call on Tanaka. However, that doesn't take away from his brilliance on the mound today. I have to give credit to catcher Brian McCann, who has made it his mission to get to know the pitchers on the staff and lead them to success in calling the game from behind the plate.

The Yankees offense started out with a bang courtesy Carlos Beltran, who was named AL Player of the Week for last week. He homered to open the scoring in the first inning. The one run would be all Tanaka and the Yankees would need as they shut out the low scoring Chicago Cubs. The remaining two runs scored by the Yankees came on a sac fly by Dean Anna and on an RBI groundout by Ellsbury, who also stole his seventh base of the season today. Newcomers Ellsbury and Beltran continue to be the Yankees hot hitters in the early going while players like Alfonso Soriano and Brian McCann are still finding their groove. With that said, I now believe that this lineup has come together and will only improve with time, not to mention especially since Mark Teixeira will return from the disabled list on Sunday in Tampa.

In the nightcap, dominant Michael Pineda will start for the Yankees, as he looks to replicate his previous start against the Red Sox where he allowed one run in six innings. Thanks to Tanaka's lengthy performance today, the bullpen is well rested and will be ready in case Pineda's pitch count gets too high or if Girardi sees his effectiveness slipping, which was the case in the seventh inning of his last start.

"Frozen" lineup

Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Dean Anna SS
Scott Sizemore 3B

SP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Jason Hammel

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Crazy Win for the Bombers

 
This game had just about everything in it: outfield assists, spectacular catches, player debuts at positions, an overturned challenge, three injuries, an ejection and big strikeouts. Unfortunately for the Yankees, all of the injuries came to their players. First, Francisco Cervelli pulled a hamstring beating out a fielders choice that would end up being the deciding run. He would leave the game and the umpire at first initially called him out however that would be the successfully challenged play. After the umpires ruled that the runner at first was safe, the Boston manager was fuming at the umpire and immediately was ejected from the game. In the following inning, Carlos Beltran would make his first career appearance at first base. Beltran was the star of the game, going 3-4 with a two run homer, a single and a double. This was the second game this year where Beltran had a single, double and a home run in the same game. It is April 13th. Carlos Beltran is beginning to fit in with the Yankees and has found his comfort zone, already with three homers this season. Solarte would also pull up lame as he tried to beat out a ground ball in the sixth inning. Solarte would stay in the game but had a noticeable limp as he came out to second base. With Roberts' back already an issue this year the Yankees infield has already seen multiple injuries, and that is not even counting Jeter's sore quad which made him miss two straight games against the Red Sox. Considering how well the Yankees were hitting against Doubront to begin the game the fact that they were able to win with only three runs is surprising to say the least.

Ivan Nova earned his second win of the season. Nova induced nine ground ball outs in 7.1 innings and struck out four batters as he allowed only two runs. However, Nova was not locating too well as there were several balls that were hit to the warning track that may have been home runs in other ballparks. All things considered, Nova gave the Yankees length as he is the first Yankee starter this year to pitch into the eighth inning. With the bullpen extremely thin he gave his team what they needed and more. Facing Matt Thornton, David Ortiz hit a ball to deep right center that looked like it had a chance but Ichiro had other ideas. After replacing Beltran in right field following Cervelli's injury that forced Beltran to play first for the first time in his career, Ichiro leaped and caught Ortiz's ball that would have put him on second base and would have eventually led to the tying or go-ahead Boston run. After loading the bases with two outs, David Phelps got a huge strikeout of Mike Carp to keep the one-run lead and Shawn Kelley would pitch a perfect ninth inning to give the Yankees the series win over the Red Sox.

Following an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees will welcome in the Cubs on Tuesday evening for the first time since the Yankees inaugural season in 2009. Former Oriole Jason Hammel will pitch for the Cubbies and Tanaka will make his third start in the Major Leagues, looking to improve on each of his following two outings where he got out of the gates by allowing three runs each time.

No Jeter in the lineup again

Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Yangervis Solarte 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B
Francisco Cervelli 1B
Dean Anna SS

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Felix Doubront

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Homers Power Yankees to Victory

 
The bats broke out in a strong way today, with the Yankees offense smacking the ball all over the park as they clobbered five home runs after only having seven long balls as a team through their first eleven games. They now have twelve homers in as many games and are beginning to look like the offense that everyone envisioned before the start of the season. The biggest home runs belonged to catcher Brian McCann, who struggled extensively since joining the Yankees. Not only did he hit two home runs, but each one came with a runner on and the balls were not wall scrapers. McCann hit both balls deep to right and right center field as he collected 4 RBI which was the difference in the game. Opening the scoring was Carlos Beltran in the first after a two-out bunt single by Jacoby Ellsbury. Beltran also had a double in the game as he too, begins to hit his stride with the Yankees. Soriano hit a homer that made it into the first or second row of the right field seats and capping the scoring was Kelly Johnson with a monster shot to straightaway center field and into Monument Park. The offense as a whole had fourteen hits to Boston's seven and each member of the Yankees starting lineup collected a hit except for Roberts, who has been struggling at the plate for about a week now. As if all of these home runs were not already god enough news, the Yankees expect Mark Teixeira to be ready next Sunday in Tampa Bay, on the day he is eligible to come off the DL.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched a solid 6.1 innings, allowing only two runs while pitching on a homer by Boston catcher AJ Pierzynski. Following Kuroda's departure from the game Matt Thornton struggled, allowing the remaining runners to score that were Kuroda's responsibility. Three walks is excessive for Kuroda, but until the seventh inning he was able to strand runners and get key outs when he needed to. After Thornton, the next three relievers delivered 2.1 perfect innings. Adam Warren continues to show that he is the deserving man of being the Yankees regular eighth inning reliever and Shawn Kelley came back from a bad outing against the Orioles on Wednesday in a tie game that he ended up losing in the ninth after allowing two runs. With Robertson on the disabled list, it will be important for the combination of Warren and Kelley to pitch well in the last two innings of games with a lead. The pair has done well, specifically Warren who looks like a devastating strikeout pitcher.

In tomorrow night's finale, the Yankees will look to take 3 out of 4 from the Red Sox with Ivan Nova on the mound. Nova has pitched horribly in his first two starts and looks like he is losing focus on the mound. Felix Doubront will face the Yankees, and the Yankees are familiar with the lefty and have had success off him in the past.

Afternoon lineup: no Jeter

Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran DH
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano RF
Kelly Johnson 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Dean Anna SS

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP John Lackey

Friday, April 11, 2014

Yankee Bats Silent

CC Sabathia kept his offense in the game for the majority of his start. However, when your offense scores you only one run (by the way, I was at the Stadium tonight and called the Soriano homer), there is little margin for error. CC Sabathia kept his offense in the game much of the time but unfortunately, Jon Lester pitched that much better against a  Yankees offense that did not include Brian McCann and Brett Gardner. I pin this loss on Girardi because he neglected to include two of his main hitters in the lineup against a tough lefty versus a division rival. It was pretty pathetic that it took Girardi until the eighth and ninth inning to put his two main offensive guys in the game. Solarte looks like he has cooled off, and Beltran still has not hit his stride. When everything comes together with this team they will be tough to beat. In order for that to happen, their bullpen and CC Sabathia need to figure things out.

Tomorrow afternoon, Hiroki Kuroda will take the mound for the Yankees against John Lackey. The Yankees have historically done well against Lackey and will look to continue that trend tomorrow afternoon as they once again fall to under .500.

Gardner, McCann sit against Lester

Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Jon Lester 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pineda Rocks His Stadium Debut

 
Many were wondering how Michael Pineda would react to pitching under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium against their rival Red Sox, who are also defending world champions. Well, it was a cake walk for Pineda as he pitched 6+ innings, allowing only one run on a solo home run by Daniel Nava. In total, Pineda allowed just four hits in six innings of work, walking two batters and striking out seven batters. This was a desperately needed performance for Girardi and the bullpen as the relievers are exhausted and Girardi wants to save his pen for the rest of the weekend. This was a big win for the Yankees because they were able to stave off a three game losing streak and did so against a champion caliber team. The Red Sox now have the pressure on them as they get ready for the core of the series which is to come on Friday and Saturday. Michael Pineda made the hitters looks off balance all night, swinging at his devastating slider all night long.

A struggling David Phelps came into the game in the seventh inning with two outs and pitched himself to a save, going 2 1/3 perfect innings while striking out three. The combination of Michael Pineda and David Phelps allows Girardi to have a more full bullpen in tomorrow's game when CC Sabathia will take the mound. 

The offense didn't blow the cover off the ball, but they were able to get timely hits against Buchholz. The Boston starter allowed seven hits and four runs in six innings of work. The Yankees did all of their scoring in two innings, in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, Ellsbury reached base on an error and came around to score following a single by McCann which put Carlos Beltran, who singled following Ellsbury, at third base. Beltran came around to score in a double play grounder by Soriano. In the following inning, Dean Anna hit the first big league homer of his career and it came against the Red Sox as a member of the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. That will be a moment he will never forget and it have the Yankees a 3-0 lead. Ellsbury followed later in the inning with an RBI single that scored Jeter who doubled earlier in the inning. 

The Yankees go into the core of the series having won the first game and look to begin a small winning streak tomorrow as CC Sabathia tries to improve on each of his previous two starts. If he can do what Pineda did tonight (keep Ortiz off base), then the game will be that much easier for Sabathia and the Yankees. Jon Lester will face the Yankees. Lester is looking for his first win of the season despite pitching well in his first two starts; he is 0-2 with a 2.51 ERA thus far this season. I'll be at the Stadium so I'm looking for a pitcher's duel!

Lineup in opener vs. Boston

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Kelly Johnson 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Dean Anna 2B

SP: RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP Clay Buchholz

Tanaka is Strong, but he's the only one

Masahiro Tanaka's first couple of innings were rocky tonight, much like his first two innings in Toronto went. He allowed three runs in the first two innings but the Yankees were able to tie the game until the ninth inning when Shawn Kelley came into a tie game and allowed two runs to score, which would cause the Yankees to lose the game down by one run in the bottom of the ninth. Tanaka was strong following his first two innings at Yankee Stadium. He ended up going seven strong, allowing three earned runs and striking out ten batters, which is a great number compared to the innings he pitched. He only walked one batter which was his first walk in the Major Leagues after not issuing a walk in his start in Toronto on Friday. Tanaka will be a huge piece for the Yankees for the next seven years, and if he is able to provide the Yankees with anything near the level of pitching he has given them in his first two Major League starts, I believe this pitcher will be the most valuable player on the team. Despite a high pitch count early on, Tanaka settled in and managed to go seven strong innings. Following his start last week, Tanaka admitted he was very nervous. Now, imagine how nervous he was pitching at Yankee Stadium against an AL east foe for the first time in his life. If Tanaka can go seven quality innings in his first two starts for the Yankees, I believe that it will be smooth sailing for the 25 year old pitcher from here on out. Tanaka is a special arm, and with some more adjustment to the ball and to the atmosphere of the bright New York lights, he can pitch the Yankees into the postseason and hopefully to a World Series ring.

The series at home did not begin how the Yankees would have liked it to, but they have a chance at redemption with the Red Sox coming to town for four games beginning tomorrow night. Michael Pineda will make his first start at Yankee Stadium as a member of the Yankees. Pineda pitched very well in Toronto last week, allowing one earned run in six innings. Injury prone Clay Buchholz will be on the mound for the Red Sox tomorrow, and the Yankees have done well against him in the past and will certainly be hoping he does not show up with filthy stuff tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Lineup behind Tanaka

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury DH 
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano LF
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Miguel Gonzalez 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nova gets Touched Up as Yankees get Blown Out

It all began in the first inning for Nova when he had a chance at a double play but it went past Jeter as the 39 year old shortstop's range isn't what it used to be. Following the non-double play, Nova went on to allow three runs in the inning and it all went downhill from there, as he allowed seven earned runs on ten hits in 3.2 innings before Girardi yanked Nova as the game was about to fall apart. Ivan Nova said after the game that he "didn't know" what happened. When words like that come out of a pitcher's mouth it signals immaturity and the inability to admit that your stuff wasn't there on that particular day. This is not the first time Nova has treated a bad start nonchalantly, as he did a similar thing in 2012 after losing big to the Orioles on a hot, summer day. The Yankees know Nova isn't the most mature guy, and sending him down so many times clearly has not had any long-term effects on his psyche. Year after year he relapses and pitches poorly after he is guaranteed a spot in the rotation out of spring training. The Yankees need to find a way to get Nova back on track because in last year's second half he proved that he could pitch in big games.

The offense was never really in the game because of the poor pitching by the Yankees. After Nova left the game, the Yankees were able to come close but Vidal Nuno took one for the team and threw 67 pitches, allowing another seven runs to the Orioles as the game became a laugher and Girardi took the last two innings as an opportunity to rest his starting guys and put backups at several positions. A bright spot today for the Yankee offense was them finally hitting the long ball. Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson both homered today to join Gardner as the only three Yankees who have hit home runs this season.

Tomorrow night will be Masahiro Tanaka's first start at Yankee Stadium. The start will be a good litmus test for the Japanese righty as he faces an explosive Baltimore lineup as he tries to get the Yankees a series win and his second win of the season against no losses. After tomorrow night the Yankees will welcome in the Red Sox for a wrap-around series beginning on Thursday.

Lineup: Cervelli playing first

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran RF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian McCann C
Francisco Cervelli 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Wei-Yen Chen

Monday, April 7, 2014

Yankees Rise in Opener; Robertson Goes Down

Although the Yankees won their home opener for the sixteenth time since the 1996 opener, which was ironically Jeters' first year as the Yankees every day shortstop, another member of the 2014 Yankees is on the disabled list. David Robertson was placed on the DL due to a grade 1 groin strain. Robertson said he pulled the groin yesterday, but wanted to wait until today to see if he would feel better. Joe Girardi was extra cautious about it and placed the closer on the 15 day disabled list, where he joins Mark Teixeira. The pair may come off the DL at the same time because Teixeira's injury was slightly worse, with his hamstring pull.


Through all of this, the Yankees were still capable to win today's game by a score of 4-2 against the pesky Orioles. Kuroda started the game for the Yankees, and he was successful for the most part, but things began to fall apart in the sixth, signaling Girardi to make a call to the bullpen. Kuroda gave up two runs in 6.1 innings and Matt Thornton along with David Phelps were able to get out of the sixth inning. I was worried with Phelps coming into the game given his struggles so far this year, as he inherited runners on second and third with two outs. The runner at second was the tying run and Phelps managed to get a ground ball from third baseman Jonathan Schoop, who is playing third for the recovering Manny Machado. With Robertson not playing for the next two weeks, Girardi is going with Shawn Kelley as the interim closer. Today, he came on to pitch the ninth with a two run lead and it took him nine pitches to get three outs and to notch the first save of his career. If Kelley pitches this well in all of the save opportunities he receives while Robertson is out, it will be a tough decision for Girardi to make upon Robertson's return to the active roster. Based on merit though, Robertson will have the job by default, as he was supposed to be the closer all along and has not done anything for Girardi to have another pitcher close.

Offensively, the Yankees were patient against Jimenez until they knocked him out of the game in the fifth due to a high pitch count. Their patience scored all of the runs, as one of the runs even scored because of a bases loaded walk to Kelly Johnson in the fifth inning. Ellsbury and Solarte both had RBI singles as they continue to be the Yankees hottest hitters, hitting .360 and .450 respectively. Jeter had a double which was a foot away from being a home run and also grounded into a double play in the third inning that enabled Gardner to score from third base with two outs.

Ivan Nova will try to boost his record to 2-0 tomorrow afternoon as the Yankees go for their third straight win. Wei-Yen Chen will pitch for the Orioles. Chen has been tough against the Yankees in the past but the Bombers usually manage to get to him later in the game, as his pitch count becomes elevated. Brett Gardner has done extremely well against Chen, with a homer and 4 RBI in 9 at bats, hitting .556 against the lefty. Soriano is 3-4 off Chen in his career.

Jeter's last home opener

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 1B
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yankees finish Road Trip with a Win

It was not easy, and the Toronto Blue Jays kept sneaking back into the game but the Yankees managed to come out victorious in today's final road game before heading to Yankee Stadium for their home opener with a series against Baltimore followed by a four game set against the defending champion Red Sox. The game began with the Yankees putting a three-spot on the board in the first inning. The top of the Yankee lineup manufactured a run headed by Brett Gardner who walked, stole second, advanced to third on a ground ball by Jeter and scored on a grounder by Ellsbury. Following the first run, the Yankees managed to get another two runners on for Kelly Johnson who doubled in both runs to give him his first two RBI in a Yankee uniform. Later in the game, Solarte doubled in another run and Brett Gardner hit a home run that scored Solarte from second base-- the Yankees first home run in six games to begin the season. The Yankees would need only five runs to win the ballgame, but the sixth run was some insurance as the Blue Jays kept coming back but never managed to overcome the Bombers.

CC Sabathia who was looking to improve on his last start, began the game in the same position he started his first one; he allowed a leadoff home run to former Yankee Melky Cabrera. At that point everyone could think that this would be another disappointment from Sabathia. However, Sabathia coasted through the game until he hit another bump in the sixth, where three runs scored with two outs. Sabathia left with a 6-4 lead after the sixth inning but that would be all the Yankees would use him for. Given his recent history having him start the seventh after the way he ended the sixth would be a disaster in the making. There are plenty of positives to take from this start by Sabathia, the first being that he used his changeup effectively which was a good swing and miss pitch. Following Sabathia's departure from the game the bullpen would be an effective grouping as they threw three scoreless frames. Robertson notched his second save of the season but not without making Yankees fans sweat. He put runners on first and second with two outs for Colby Rasmus, who was due to smash one out of the park. Thankfully though, this was not the scenario that played out as the Yankees finished their first road trip 3-3.

Tomorrow at the Stadium, Hiroki Kuroda looks for his first win against newly acquired Ubaldo Jimenez and the Baltimore Orioles. Jimenez got hit hard in his first start in an Oriole uniform by the Red Sox, and the Yankees have good history against the right hander. A win in their first home game would put the Yankees over .500 for the first time this season, and would set the stage for this tough home stand against two divisional opponents.

Ellsbury batting third

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brian McCann C
Alfonso Soriano DH
Kelly Johnson 1B
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Drew Hutchison 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Disappointing Loss in Toronto

 
On another day where there was a highly anticipated Yankees debut, the Yankees ended the day on a low note. Michael Pineda made his first start in a Yankees uniform and his first start since September of 2011, which he made as a member of the Seattle Mariners. Pineda was everything the Yankees hoped for and more, as he went six innings and allowed only one run on five hits and did not walk a batter. What most people were interested in seeing however, was the velocity on his fastball. Pineda's fastball sat mostly at 93 MPH but peaked many times at 95. He is not throwing 97 like he did in his rookie season for the Mariners but the Yankees will take his current decreased velocity if he performs this way 32 times this year. Pineda really deserved a win today but the Yankees offense was non existent and David Phelps allowed a pair of homers in the eighth inning to make a 4-0 game seem like a 10-0 game based on the way the Yankees offense has performed in four of their first five games in the 2014 season.

The Yankees have several home run hitters in their lineup, and collectively in five games the Yankees offense has combined for zero home runs. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. To put that into perspective, Melky Cabrera already has two long balls, and he is not a power hitter. When the Yankees had opportunities in the sixth and eighth innings, they floundered with runners in scoring position. The team went 1-10 with RISP and scored no runs against Dickey and the Jays bullpen. Things seem to be not going in favor of the Yankees thus far this season. Opposing teams are making unbelievable plays against them, coupled with the fact that this lineup still looks dysfunctional. With a collection of such prestigious hitters, one would think the offense would not be the Yankees problem. Well, aside from Ellsbury none of the newly acquired free agents have made an ounce of difference. If this trend continues at Yankee Stadium, characters like McCann and Beltran will hear it from the fans. Carlos Beltran specifically looks to be in a funk at the plate right now, swinging at bad pitches and looking uncomfortable at the plate. In addition, Alfonso Soriano has killed the Yankees in the lineup. Soriano is 0-16 to start the season and has not come through when the Yankees needed it, most recently today when he had a chance to drive in the tying run in the eighth before the Jays three run outburst against Phelps in the bottom of the inning.

In tomorrow's rubber game, CC Sabathia will try to improve on his most recent performance in which he allowed six runs to the Astros. 23 year old Drew Hutchison will try to give the Blue Jays a series win. If the Yankees offense continues to trend the way it has, Hutchison will not have a problem doing so.

Teixeira to the DL

The Yankees have called up Austin Romine from the minors to take Teixeira's roster spot. 

Lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann DH
Alfonso Soriano LF
Kelly Johnson 1B
Francisco Cervelli C
Yangervis Solarte 3B
Dean Anna 2B

SP: RHP Michael Pineda vs. RHP RA Dickey 

Teixeira Injured in Tanaka Debut

 
The script seemed all too familiar in tonight's game. Mark Teixeira left the game after suffering what turned out to be a strained right hamstring. The hamstring was the same one he injured in the 2010 playoffs, however this time he came off the field on his own. If the Yankees lose Teixeira at first base for any extended period of time, they do not have anyone in the minors who would be able to step up and fill in for Teixeira. Last year the Yankees had Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds in a platoon at first base to really save their bacon. This year, the Yankees banked on Teixeira coming into the season injury-free and now have little back-up options behind Tex.

Aside from another Yankee injury, tonight was the much anticipated debut of Japanese superstar Masahiro Tanaka who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan one year ago. The start to his Major League career of course, came with a leadoff home run to the first player he faced in MLB. Melky Cabrera homered off Tanaka on Tanaka's third pitch of his career in the states. The first three innings were a struggle for the Japanese pitcher, who admitted that he was very jittery and nervous before the start to tonight's game. After allowing three runs in the first two innings, Tanaka settled down and lasted seven innings, which only took him 97 pitches. Throwing 97 pitches in seven innings tonight was a major accomplishment for Tanaka after he sat at 58 pitches through three innings of work. He finished his first Major League start with eight strikeouts and did not walk a batter. In addition, Tanaka only allowed six hits in seven innings, so less than a hit per inning in his first ever start playing on the biggest stage in the world in front of millions of people at home and around the globe. To back up Tanaka's first win in the Major Leagues, Matt Thornton and David Robertson were the ultimate pairing tonight. Betances recorded one out in the eighth but walked a batter to begin the ninth inning where Robertson came in and recorded three straight outs with a four run lead.

Offensively, everyone joined in on the party tonight against a brutal Jays pitching staff. Ellsbury was especially surprising after not playing in last night's game. He went 3-4 with a walk, two runs scored and recorded his third stolen base in four games. Solarte, who played second and moved to third after Teixeira's injury, just keeps on hitting. He went 2-5 with two doubles and two RBI to give the Yankees a permanent lead. Solarte is making the most of his opportunity with the Yankees. He does not want to see the minor leagues again, and if he keeps hitting like he is now (.500), he will keep getting increased playing time.

Another starter will be making his 2014 debut tomorrow. Michael Pineda has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011 and has not thrown a pitch since coming to the Yankees in the trade with the Mariners before the 2012 season which sent Jesus Montero to Seattle. If Pineda can be similar to how he pitched in March, the Yankees will have a rotation that can compete with the rest of Major League Baseball. He will be opposite knuckleballer RA Dickey in a 1:07 PM start.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rookie Has Himself a Night


...and that rookie is none other than Yangervis Solarte, who before this season spent nine years in the minor leagues without a call up to the Majors. Solarte, who played third base today in place of Kelly Johnson, went 3-3 including an RBI hit in the seventh to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Solarte also scored two runs tonight, as he was the clear catalyst to the Yankees offense that has been otherwise anemic throughout this first series in Houston. In addition, he made a sparkling defensive play in the eighth inning on a sharp line drive off the bat of Jose Altuve. Another back-up who had a night to remember was Ichiro who went 2-4 with a double and two runs scored. In other words, Ichiro and Solarte are the reasons that the Yankees are going into Toronto with a win in this series. None of their big time players did anything in this series aside from McCann who had a couple of nice hits in the first two games of the season. It's unfortunate that I'm praising the Yankees offensive efforts tonight, being that they scored four runs against a team that won 51 games one year ago and the Yankees have one of the most explosive offensives in all of baseball, but again as I said last night: the Yankees need to take small licks in an effort to get their lineup to work well together as a unit.

Ivan Nova, tonight's starter, went only 5.2 innings and struggled to find his command for the majority of the start. Nova did not have a clean inning in any of his turns on the mound, resulting in five walks and six hits in less than six innings. To put it in perspective, Ivan Nova allowed 13 base runners in 5.2 innings, with the last two coming on 2 HBP of the Astros catcher Jason Castro who left in the middle of the game due to discomfort where he was hit with pitches. Nova loaded the bases twice in the first inning but after a stern talk with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Nova settled down and despite struggling only allowed two runners to come around and score.

The Yankee bullpen was initially a frightening proposition to think about, but Girardi and company have something figured out and it worked tonight. David Robertson earned his first save of the season without Mariano Rivera looking on from the bullpen. However, Shawn Kelley could be a major asset to this team. Kelley, who is a strikeout machine left two batters whiffing in the eighth where he could be lethal if he continues what he has done for the Yankees
since last season.

Tomorrow night will be the long awaited debut of Japanese superstar Masahiro Tanaka as he will make his first start for the Yankees against the Blue Jays who went 2-2 to start the season against the Rays in Tampa. Dustin McGowan will make the start for Toronto as the world will be all eyes on the Yankees and Tanaka.

No Ellsbury, McCann in Houston finale

Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Brian Roberts 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Yangervis Solarte 3B

SP: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Brett Oberholtzer

Yankees Lose Series to Astros

 
What the Yankees hoped would be a bounce-back game against the perennial 100 loss Houston Astros turned out to be another deflating loss which featured a dead offense, with the Yankees ending up going 0-10 with runners in scoring position. The offense in this game was non-existent on the Yankees end, with them looking like zombies at the plate. The best chance at a rally the Yankees had came in the eighth inning when Carlos Beltran led off the inning with a double and Matt Albers came on to strike out the side with the middle of the lineup batting. The Yankees only scored one run on a Solarte double play that had Gardner score from third after singling to lead the inning off and he moved to third on a Brian Roberts single. Roberts was the bright spot in the lineup, collecting three hits but his effort went largely unnoticed because of the lack of bat presence in the rest of the lineup.

Hiroki Kuroda's performance of six innings on two runs will also go down the drain as the Yankees could not even have scored enough runs to make it seem like they were in the game. This offense looks anemic to start the season, and I fault that on the new construction of the lineup. There are men in the lineup who have never played with one another, so I believe that it is only a matter of time until these guys click together and begin to be a force to be reckoned with.

Dexter Fowler certainly has not needed much time to get acclimated into the Houston lineup, hitting a home run to lead off the game and smacking a triple into center field to score the Astros' second run. So in a nutshell, Dexter Fowler, who came to Houston in a trade with the Rockies, won tonight's game against the Yankees and served Hiroki Kuroda his first loss of the 2014 season. Kuroda has been a victim of bad run support ever since joining the Yankees. Last season he was worst in the AL in runs scored by his offense and had the third lowest total in the category in all of baseball.

Suddenly, Ivan Nova finds himself playing a big role in giving the Yankees some relief in tomorrow night's game. Nova has to bring home a victory for the Yankees, who would be crushed if they left Houston with an 0-3 record to begin the season after coming in thinking they could sweep this minor league level team.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Game 2 lineup

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Brian Roberts 2B
Kelly Johnson 3B

SP: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Jarred Cosart

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sloppy Opener for Yankees

The main question coming into the season regarding the rotation was whether CC Sabathia would be able to move past his 2013 struggles with diminished velocity. In tonight's opener at Houston, Sabathia's performance was reminiscent of his 2013 self. CC, who's velocity was steadily at 88-90 MPH on the gun, gave up two home runs to no-names on the Houston Astros. The Yankee infield defense was especially sloppy in the first inning, which led to Sabathia's falling apart in the first two innings of the game. CC allowed four earned runs in the first inning thanks in part to the Yankees playing sloppy defense in the infield. In addition, Carlos Beltran also had a couple of hiccups in right including a play in the second inning where he bobbled a ball hit by Jose Altuve that led to the second baseman ending up on second base. However, the main focus of the night will be surrounding CC Sabathia's ineffectiveness through the first two innings. Sabathia left his fastballs up in the zone leaving it easy for the hitters to take batting practice, leading to the six early runs that buried the Yankees.

Transitioning to the offense, this new-look Yankees offense featured only one player who was in the Opening Day lineup last year, and that player was Brett Gardner. Following the Astros' four run outburst in the first inning followed by another two tack-on runs in the second on a L.J. Hoes home run and an Altuve single. With the talent on this roster, there is no reason why the Yankees should feel discouraged after falling behind early. The season is (very) young and they had ample opportunity to get something started. Instead, they made Scott Feldman look like Nolan Ryan, amassing only two hits off the Astros number one starter in 6.2 innings. The Yankees were putting the ball in play, but most of the balls were lazy flyouts that did not go very deep or went right at the fielder. Overall, this was a pathetic effort by the Yankees, led by their ace CC Sabathia who allowed six runs in six innings of work while allowing two long balls in a spacious Minute Maid Park.

Some things worth noting in this otherwise forgettable Opening Day game for the Yankees include Beltran's first Yankee hit, which also happened to be the first hit of the Yankees season. Later in the game, Brian McCann got his first hit in a Yankee uniform and also notched an RBI in the same play. In addition, Mark Teixeira who is a notoriously slow starter got two base hits, an RBI and walked against Feldman. Lastly, Jacoby Ellsbury walked in the eighth inning against a lefty and scored on McCann's RBI single. Derek Jeter went 1-3 with a run scored in his final Opening Day. Dellin Betances impressed out of the bullpen with a quick 1-2-3 inning in the seventh with a couple of strikeouts.

Despite it being April 1st, but the Yankees need to win these next two games against the lowly Astros who have lost 100 or more games in each of the last three seasons. Going for the Yankeees tomorrow will be right handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda who was the Yankees ace last year, specifically in the first half of the season. Jarred Cosart will pitch for the Astros as the Yankees look to begin their winning ways.

Opening Day Lineup

Jacoby Ellsubry CF
Derek Jeter SS
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alfonso Soriano DH
Brett Gardner LF
Kelly Johnson 3B
Brian Roberts 2B

SP: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP Scott Feldman

The game will begin at 7:10 Eastern time and will feature the debut of numerous Yankees including Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and more. Something that excites me about tonight's game is the mystery surrounding CC Sabathia. He has a chip on his shoulder to go out and be the Yankees ace yet again after having an especially bad year in 2013.

Monday, March 31, 2014

2014 MLB Preview and Predictions

Tomorrow is the day where the majority of teams will suit up for the first time in pursuit of a World Series title in 2014. The teams have become more competitive and the fans are more excited than ever before to begin the season. Each team starts fresh; everyone has an equal shot at the postseason and only eight of the thirty teams in baseball will advance into the real first round of the playoffs in October, which seems like it is so far away but before you know it the 2014 season will be in the books and a new World Series champion will be crowned. Last season, many of my playoff picks were a success, and one of my Cinderella teams (Cleveland) advanced to the playoffs in the Wild Card game against the Rays. This season should be a fun ride with all of the rule changes, power shifts and big contracts to players who will begin fresh with their new teams.

Team Records

AL East

New York Yankees: 91-71- Y
Tampa Bay Rays: 89-73- W

Boston Red Sox: 87-75
Baltimore Orioles: 84-78
Toronto Blue Jays: 76-86
Masahiro Tanaka

Like many, I do not see the Boston Red Sox repeating what they did in their World Series season. Everything fell into place for the Sox in 2013. Everyone was healthy and they got key hits in seemingly every single game. The postseason was a wash because their only offense was David Ortiz. In 2014, I see the Yankees returning to the top spot in the Eastern division after an injury plagued 2013 caused them to win only 85 games and miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008, Joe Girardi’s first season as Yankees skipper. With the offseason additions of Masahiro Tanaka and Brian McCann along with the signings of Ellsbury and Beltran, the Yankees will be the team to beat in the AL East once again. The Tampa Bay Rays always do something with what they have on the roster. They prevail each and every year after baseball people consistently say that they do not have enough talent to make it to the postseason. With David Price on the staff guiding the other stud pitchers their starting rotation will once again be among the best in baseball. In addition, they have some young hitters coming up through their system and the Rays always strike gold with closers, having Grant Balfour sign with the team after a failed physical with the Orioles. Speaking of the Birds, despite their signings of Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, I still do not see them as a legitimate threat in the division. The competition is much too strong.

AL Central
Detroit Tigers: 92-70- Y
Kansas City Royals: 89-73- W
Cleveland Indians: 85-77
Chicago White Sox: 77-85
Minnesota Twins: 69-93
 
The Tigers will have some legitimate competition this season in the Kansas City Royals who have signed Jason Vargas who can provide stability in the rotation when he is not in a funk. In addition, their young hitters have matured another year and I expect stars like Hosmer and Moustakas to have breakout seasons this year after suffering sophomore slumps in 2013. I still believe that this division will be a two-team race with a slight chance that the Indians carry over their 2013 second-half success and translate it into a better overall season from start to finish in 2014. The Twins have made improvements to their pitching staff, but they are still very far away from being competitive in the AL Central against powerhouse Detroit.
 
AL West
Texas Rangers 90-72- Y
Oakland Athletics: 88-74
LA Angels: 84-78
Seattle Mariners: 79-83
Houston Astros: 60-102
 
Prince Fielder
Last year, this was my most inaccurate division prediction. I had the Rangers winning the division and the Angels as one of the wildcard teams. This year, I still believe that the Rangers are capable of winning the division after adding Choo and Fielder, who will provide the team with more power and stability in the lineup offensively. I believe the Oakland A’s will do well this year, but I ultimately think they will just miss the playoffs. Their way of play is not sustainable as they win with no-names and keep shocking everyone. However, they will be my AL Cinderella team, as if they already aren’t in default. The Angels pitching worries me, but I do believe that Pujols and Hamilton will have better years than they had in 2013. The numbers between the two players last year were dreadful. Lastly, the Mariners will still be irrelevant in 2014 even after adding Robinson Cano to a ten year pact to play in the Pacific North West.

NL East
Washington Nationals: 93-69- Y
Atlanta Braves: 88-74
Philadelphia Phillies: 82-80
New York Mets: 79-83
Miami Marlins: 67-95

The Washington Nationals should not have a very difficult time against teams in their division. The Nats have the pitching, the offense and a new manager who can bring his baseball knowledge into the minds of his players. There are many big names on the Washington Nationals and I am fully convinced that 2013 was just a bad luck season for Washington. The Braves have lost their leader in Brian McCann and the Upton brothers have not been as good as advertised for the Braves. Their bullpen is still among the top in baseball so their wins should come in close contests. The Phillies did not do anything of any major significance to improve their chances in 2014. All they could hope for is a healthy middle of the lineup, which is also aging and has suffered multiple injuries in recent years, which has been the main cause to Philadelphia’s fall. Despite adding Curtis Granderson, Chris Young and Bartolo Colon, I expect the Mets to win no more than 79 games because of their lack of skillset in the bullpen, and the uncertainties surrounding the infield and the youth of their catcher. Not having Matt Harvey for 2014 certainly makes it difficult for the Mets to be contenders in 2014, however adding Stephen Drew would do a lot to help their shortstop situation and would provide more stability in the second half of the lineup.
 
NL Central
St. Louis Cardinals: 94-72- Y
Cincinnati Reds: 91-71- W
Milwaukee Brewers: 86-76
Pittsburgh Pirates: 80-82
Chicago Cubs: 70-92
 
The Saint Louis Cardinals seemingly make the postseason every year having some of the best home-grown talent in the game. In addition, they added shortstop Jhonny Peralta to stabilize their infield and their starting rotation shows a lot of promise and their rookies have been battle tested. The only thing that worries me about the Cardinals is their young starters suffering sophomore slumps after breaking out in 2013. The Reds should have a strong 2014 campaign as Joey Votto remains a huge threat in the lineup and Billy Hamilton coming up to play full time from the minor leagues. He will bring his speed but his hitting remains a question.
 
Michael Wacha

NL West
Los Angeles Dodgers: 96-66- Y
Arizona Diamondbacks: 90-72- W
San Diego Padres: 87-75
San Francisco Giants: 83-79
Colorado Rockies: 75-87
 
The powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers are without a doubt the strongest team in all of baseball with their star talent throughout the roster. Their lineup is a scary proposition for opposing pitchers to face, their starting rotation from 1-5 is as good as anyone else’s in the game and their bullpen is as certain as any bullpen can be with Kenley Jansen as the team’s closer. The D’backs have improved this year as they are looking to compete with the Dodgers. Spending money is how teams garner talent in the west ever since the Dodgers went on a spending spree prior to last season. The Padres as my NL Cinderella team. They added Josh Johnson who can have a Cy Young worthy year at any time and many of their regular players are coming off bad seasons. Chase Headley will look to lead his team to the postseason, which will prove to be a daunting task against the likes of Los Angeles and Arizona. The Giants did too little and allocated their resources in the wrong way by signing Lincecum to a mega-short term deal that left them with little money to spend on external free agents.
 
Paul Goldschmidt
 
2014 MVP Predictions:
AL: Mike Trout
NL: Paul Goldschmidt
 
2014 Cy Young Award Predictions:
AL: Justin Verlander
NL: Jose Fernandez
 
2014 Rookie of the Year Predictions:
 
2014 Cinderella Teams:
AL: Oakland Athletics
NL: San Diego Padres
 
World Series: Washington Los Angeles Dodgers over Tampa Bay Rays

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Yankees Spring Home Opener

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Brian Roberts 2B
Francisco Cervelli C
Kelly Johnson 3B
Austin Romine DH
Russ Canzler 1B
Mason Williams CF

SP: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Charlie Morton

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Gardner, Yankees Agree to Extension

After what I believe was too long of a wait for a player of Gardner's caliber, the Yankees and Brett Gardner have agreed to a contract extension that will keep Brett Gardner in pinstripes until 2018. The two sides settled that the extension would go into effect after the 2014 season. This season the Yankees and Gardner avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal that will pay him $5.6 million. In each of the four years after 2014, the corner outfielder will make $12.5 million per year, a raise of more than two times what Gardner is slated to make in 2014. The extension does not come with a no-trade clause, and in the case that Gardner is traded he will make a $1 million bonus. The deal could possibly span five years if the Yankees pick up an option for the 2019 season, which if exercised will have Gardner making another $12.5 million in his age 35 season.

The contract is a win for the Yankees, who figure that compared to Ellsbury, Gardner's contract is team friendly and the Yankees will get similar production from both players. In addition, having the pair patrol the outfield for possibly six seasons means the Yankees will have some of the best outfield defense in baseball. However, upon signing Gardner realizes that he will spend the rest of his Yankee days playing LF/RF. He will see time in center field only when Ellsbury is injured or needs a day off. Gardner is a durable player who embodies the grittiness that the Yankees were once known for. Before his minor injury that sidelined him for the Yankees final two weeks, Gardner set career highs in many categories including hits (147), RBI (52), doubles (33), triples (10) and home runs (8).

In addition, after announcing the deal, Gardner reiterated that he wants to be a Yankee for life, and that he has no desire to play for another team. The Yankees are the only team Gardner has ever known besides playing baseball in college as a walk-on, who did not get much consideration. Now, Gardner is an asset on the Yankees and management loves him and his skills on the bases and in the outfield. Cashman would not trade Gardner for Brandon Phillips earlier in the off-season, and we now know why.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Player Assessment: Jacoby Ellsbury

Jacoby Ellsbury was by far the most unexpected signing of the Yankees off-season splash. Ellsbury was the first in what was a week of signings galore for the Yankees, where they quickly followed the Ellsbury signing with the Carlos Beltran announcement. On the scale of off-season needs for the Yankees, Ellsbury was probably near the bottom but felt that they needed a player like Jacoby to bring fans into the seats. I personally do not believe Ellsbury has much drawing power but is plays as dynamically as he did in Boston he will be a crowd favorite despite coming over from the dark side. The Yankees fans have a rich history of embracing former Boston players; whether it be Johnny Damon or Wade Boggs. Almost each Red Sox turned Yankee loved their tenure in pinstripes after playing for the Yankees' long-time rivals.

The Yankees signed Ellsbury to a seven-year deal worth $153 million which brings his yearly salary to almost $22 million, far more than he is worth if you go based on every year that isn't 2011. In 2011, Ellsbury had a year in which he led the Red Sox in almost every meaningful offensive category, coming in second in the MVP voting to Justin Verlander who had a historic year for the Tigers that same season. In 2011, Ellsbury had 32 home runs, drove in 105 runners and hit an incredible .321. Every year other than 2011, Ellsbury has been strictly a speed guy, stealing anywhere from 50 to 70 bases when healthy. However, the operative word in the last sentence is healthy. Jacoby needs to prove that he can be a durable player. The Yankees are paying him to be gritty and pesky, but if he can't stay on the field for more than 100 games per season the contract will be a huge bust for the money he is owed through 2020.

The Yankees signed Ellsbury to play center field for them, with Gardner waiting in the wings if something were to happen to Jacoby. Ellsbury and Gardner together in the outfield is an opposing hitter's nightmare, as the pair will act as vacuums catching everything hit in their direction, poised for some highlight reel catches and plays. If Ellsbury can hit 15 home runs while maintaining a .300 average and stealing 50 bases the Yankees will consider the signing a huge success. If Ellsbury repeats what he did for Boston in 2011, this will be a steal for the Yankees, even at almost $22 million per year. Again, if he stays healthy he is one of the most dynamic players in baseball, and will also serve as a pitcher's nightmare especially if he and Gardner are hitting back-to-back in the lineup with Ellsbury leading off the game for the Yankees. In addition, his power should translate well to the short porch in right because Yankee Stadium is conducive to lefty hitters whereas Fenway Park was nicer to right handed power. Ellsbury has always been in the thorn in the side of Yankees pitching over the years, so it will be glorious watching him do the same thing for the Yankees instead of against them.

My predictions for Jacoby Ellsbury in 2014: .298 AVG, 14 HR, 79 RBI, 52 SB