Thursday, February 19, 2015

Alex Rodriguez is sorry. Again. We think.

After a year away from the game due to a 162-game PED suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Rodriguez is set to return to the Yankees this spring in what is sure to be one of the craziest media circuses in recent memory.

In a hand-written letter to the fans on Tuesday, A-Rod apologized for everything and also opted to forego his mea culpa press conference at Yankee Stadium.

"I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season," Rodriguez said in the letter. "I regret that my actions made the situation worse than it needed to be. To Major League Baseball, the Yankees, the Steinbrenner family, the Players Association and you, the fans, I can only say I'm sorry.

"I accept the fact that many of you will not believe my apology or anything that I say at this point. I understand why and that's on me. It was gracious of the Yankees to offer me the use of Yankee Stadium for this apology but I decided the next time I am in Yankee Stadium, I should be in pinstripes doing my job."

And that's the way it should be.

The Yankees weren't forcing A-Rod to hold his own in front of the media -- that's why they didn't plan anything for him when he arrives at the team's complex in Tampa, and instead give him the opportunity to do it in New York, on his say.

T truth is the press conference wouldn't have solved anything. As he said in the letter, nothing he says will fix things in the minds of Yankees fans. He could stand at a podium, say things about his past and that he's never going to do it again, and that won't matter to most.

Wherever he goes the questions will come up. His teammates will still be asked about it. The coaches will still be asked about it.

At this point, the only thing that A-Rod can do it take the field and earn his roster spot like the 60-some other guys that will be out there at the Yankees' spring training complex over the next month and a half. For Yankees fans, the only way for A-Rod to apologize is to come back, drug free, and just play -- play well, of course.

Hand-written letters won't make this go away -- his legacy is already tarnished, and this will never go away. But he has a golden opportunity to put it all behind him this spring.

The challenge facing him is big. Bigger than anyone could dream to be in. At 39-years-old, with two-hip surgeries on his record, and having been away from the game for an entire year, Rodriguez is attempting to play baseball at the highest level on a team that wants nothing more than to win a championship this season.

Rodriguez, whose historic postseason helped the Bombers capture their last title in 2009, might be up the task, but that doesn't make things easier.

A-Rod can write all of the letters he wants. He can hold all of the press conferences he wants. But only one thing will make people forget: just go out an play, Alex. The rest will take care of itself.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Yankees pitchers and catchers report exactly two weeks from tomorrow, as the countdown to spring training inches closer to an end. The Yankees, on paper, don't look like a team threatening to win a championship this season, but that doesn't make them worth watching with camp around the corner.

Here are my top five storylines to watch when the Yankees roll up to Steinbrenner Field on Feb. 20:

1. The Alex Rodriguez circus returns to town

Arguably the biggest story in baseball this spring is A-Rod's return to the Yankees after serving his year-long suspension in 2014. The last time we saw the embattled third baseman on the field he was coming off of his second hip surgery, playing 44 games for the Bombers in 2013 while appealing his 211 game ban handed down by then MLB Commissioner Bud Selig.

A-Rod came back that year to hit .244 with seven homeruns and 19 RBIs in those 44 games that season, as the Yankees would eventually miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008, effectively beginning the months of battle between Rodriguez, Major League Baseball, and the MLB Players' Union.

Who knows what kind of shape A-Rod will arrive at camp in. Who knows if he's still even capable of playing at the major league level after a full year of watching from home. No story will be bigger than this, at least from the Yankees' perspective, and the baseball world is going to be watching very closely at the events happening in Tampa over the next month and a half.

2. Who's going to win the closer job?

The Yankees made a pretty bold decision this winter in letting David Robertson walk after just one year as their closer with Mariano Rivera now in retirement. Instead, the Yankees are going with Dellin Betances, who took the league by storm last season by striking out just about everybody he faced, and Andrew Miller, who the Yanks signed to a four-year, $36 million contract before Robertson eventually signed with the White Sox.

I still to this day, until the two candidates can prove they're more valuable, that the Yankees should have kept Robertson around on a two-three year deal, giving Betances another couple of years at the big league level before throwing him into the closer role with very little experience.

I'm not doubting his abilities as a pitcher -- the man struck out 135 batters in 90 innings while posting a 1.40 ERA for crying out loud -- but I need more.

At the very least, Miller keeps the Yankees having two power arms that the backend of the 'pen, and will probably end being the 8th inning guy come Opening Day.

3. How will Didi Gregorius adjust as Derek Jeter's replacement?

It was almost a year ago that Jeter announced 2014 would be his final season. He's gone now, and Didi Gregorius is the man tasked with replacing a legend. Expectations for the soon-to-be 25-year-old shortstop will be high this season, and for the wrong reason. Nobody can replace Derek Jeter. The only way to recover from his loss is to send somebody else out there and move on.

A career .242 hitter in 190 big league games with the Reds and D-Backs, the Yankees will be counting on Gregorius to be much more valuable in the field than at the plate. Looking back on Jeter's range and ability to play shortstop everyday in his final years, Gregorius will be an immediate upgrade for the Bombers are one of the most important positions on the field.

4. This rotation is very scary

I wrote about it the other day, the Yankees are going into spring training that raises much more questions than answers right now. CC Sabathia coming off of knee surgery and has been in steady decline the past few seasons. We don't know how much you can trust him. Masahiro Tanaka dealt with some elbow issues that could come back to haunt him -- knock on wood that doesn't happen. And you never know how many innings Michael Pineda has left before his next injury.

Brandon McCarthy's gone. Hiroki Kuroda's gone. David Phelps's gone. And Ivan Nova won't be back until at least June because of Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees didn't splash the cash for one of the big free-agent starting pitchers this winter -- though Nathan Eovaldi was a nice pickup -- and will go into the season with a rotation that will really have to overachieve to succeed.

5. Can Jacob Lindgren impress enough to win a bullpen job?

The Yankees' top overall pick from last summer's draft was invited to camp on Thursday, and will get a chance to prove himself in major league camp after dominating hitters across Low and High-A ball, and Double-A ball last season.

Andrew Miller already gives the Yankees one dangerous lefty in their bullpen, and it wouldn't hurt to have a second.

The "Strikeout Factory" hasn't been a pro very long, and could already be a Rookie of the Year caliber pitcher this season.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It's nearly a complete 180 from where we were starting a year ago.

The Yankees were heading into Spring Training with a starting rotation that, on paper, was fit enough to compete with the best of the best in Major League Baseball. Fresh off of signing the prized free-agent Masahiro Tanaka, with Michael Pineda finally ready to return to the big leagues, the Bombers looked like a real playoff contender.

They had their question marks, of course. CC Sabathia had been declining at a 90 degree angle, Pineda hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2012, no one knew what Tanaka was going to bring, and Hiroki Kuroda completely fell off the final month and a half of 2013.

The talent was there, it was all a matter of it coming through.

Then the season got here, and things got ugly. Sabathia, who finished out the spring strong, delivered a dub on Opening Day, eventually hurting his knee in May, which led to season-ending, and possibly career-threatening, micro-fracture surgery in July. Pineda got suspended in two weeks into the season for hiding (not very well, I might add) pine tar on his neck. Shockingly enough, he got hurt while throwing during his suspension, and we didn't see him again until later in the season. Ivan Nova: he got hurt in May, needed Tommy John surgery, and we'll be welcoming him back at some point this summer.

Just before the All-Star Break, Tanaka got hurt and even though Tommy John wasn't needed, it was on the table and will be something worth watching this season as he takes his second lap around the MLB circuit.

13 different people started games for the Yankees last season, and many of them aren't here anymore. Kuroda, David Phelps, Shane Greene, Brandon McCarthy: gone (to Japan), gone, gone, and gone.

That brings us to where we are today. Derek Jeter is gone, Alex Rodriguez is coming back, and yet the biggest problem facing the Yankees might be the prospect of another year in which they're leaning on the bullpen to do the heavy lifting, with a lineup that, based on 2014 numbers, still doesn't pose a challenge to opposing starters.

That leaves me to believe the Yankees can't possibly be content on where they are now as a baseball team. Nathan Eovaldi was a nice get for the club -- a 24-year-old with a great fastball and plenty of upside; we haven't seen many of those come through the system lately. But after that, you can't count on anyone but Tanaka.

It looks like Sabathia will be ready by opening day, but at this point there aren't many people out there will to bet on a bounce-back season by the big lefty. It's just not likely. Nobody knows how any games Pineda will start this season, and Nova will be a wild card, like he always is, when he returns (not doubting his potential, though).

The battle for the fifth spot in any rotation isn't like to include No. 1 potential starters -- unless you're the Nationals, of course. Playing that game for the Yanks this year will be Chris Capuano, Adam Warren, and Chase Whitley. The latter two more likely served for the bullpen.

Does that mean get James Shields on the phone? Well, the best available starter is likely looking at a much lowering price now than he was three months ago. At this point, he's either going to get paid by a team desperate for an arm, or he's going to have to settle with the best offer on the table. $100 million is not in the Yankees' price range, but something around the four-year, $55 million that Ervin Santana got and Big Game James could be Bronx-bound and back in the familiar AL East.

Shields wouldn't solve all of the Yankees' problems, but he would help beef up the starting rotation by a four or five extra wins, which could make or break their entire season.

February 3, 2015. Nine days before Jeter announced his retirement, the Yankees were going into the season with a real hope of getting back into the playoffs after missing out in 2013. Oh, how simple those times were.

Is it too late to go back?


Monday, November 10, 2014

It's been almost an entire week since the Yankees decided to official extend a qualifying offer to closer David Robertson, and now the Yankees' 9th inning man has until 5 p.m. today to either accept ot decline the offer.

Robertson is expected to reject the $15.3 million offer, which would make him the highest paid closer ever, and instead become a free-agent to negotiate with everyone. No players has ever accepted a qualifying offer from their club, and Robertson certainly doesn't look like he'll be the first.

Even with the likelihood that he'll have a 2015 Draft pick attached to him this winter, Robertson has been drawing a ton of interest around the league already. Finding a solid 9th inning guy that you can count on for an entire season is not easy to find, and Robertson has been more than dependable throughout his Yankees career, first setting up for Mariano Rivera, then taking over the closer role this season, racking up a career-high 39 saves in 63 games this season, while posting a 3.08 ERA and a incredible 13.4 strikeouts-per-9 rate.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It’s hard to believe that Derek Jeter’s career is coming to an end. It is even harder to deny Jeter’s place in baseball history.  Regardless of what others say I consider Derek Jeter the greatest Yankee of all time. 

The Yankee’s Captain will end his career with roughly 750 more hits than any other Yankee in history; he will also end his career 6th on the all-time hits list while all 5 players above him have played 2-4 more seasons. Not to mention the fact that he owns the all-time post season records for games played, at bats, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, total bases, singles, doubles and triples. Regardless of all of that Derek Jeter means much more to the game of baseball than any record or accomplishment.

He was not only the Captain of the New York Yankees but the greatest ambassador the game has ever known. In an era rampant with superstars who have fallen to PED use, Derek Jeter has been able to maintain his integrity in arguably the toughest sports market in the entire world. Think about that for a second, Derek Jeter has played for the New York Yankees for parts of 20 seasons and has never had any rumor or accusation tarnish his name or reputation. 

In today’s world of sports that is far more impressive than any record could ever be. He has served as the ultimate role model for not only children of the New York area but the entire country. 

With PEDs, domestic violence, drug use along with a blatant disregard for the law it’s a damn shame that Jeter’s way of conducting himself is such a rarity amongst athletes. You can’t help but feel that if more children had role models like Derek Jeter to emulate this world may be a better place.

I have had the pleasure of watching Derek Jeter play his entire career in pinstripes. When Derek came up in 1996 as a rookie I was a little kid who was completely infatuated with the New York Yankees. Now in 2014 as I watch Jeter close out his career I can’t help but feel a little torn up inside about it. 

On one hand I am so grateful that I got to watch him play for so many years on the other hand I feel as if a part of my childhood is coming to an end. I am now a man in my mid-twenties with a career, bills to pay and quotas to reach. Regardless of all that when I watch Derek Jeter take the field it brings me back to my childhood. 

Watching him play makes me feel like a kid from North Jersey with an undying love for the game of baseball again. On September 28th, 2014 that all ends and I can’t help but feel that the game of baseball will never be the same.

Thanks Captain.

Your biggest fan,
Adam Al

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Though the Yankees are not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention just yet, their hopes of making the postseason one last time in the Derek Jeter era seem all but lost.

The Bombers dropped another game on Tuesday night, losing the the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium this week.

The Rays jumped all over Hiroki Kuroda early in the game, chasing him before the end of the 4th inning, as they would go on to win their 27th game at the new Yankee Stadium, compared to the 26 they won at the old stadium 1998-2008.

Tonight's lineup against Tampa Bay:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Derek Jeter
C Brian McCann
DH Carlos Beltran
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Chase Headley
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Stephen Drew
LF Chris Young

Pitching matchup preview: Chris Capuano vs Jake Odorizzi

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's the day we've all been wishing would stay away for several more years -- Derek Jeter Day. The Yankees will be holding a big pre-game ceremony for Jeter, very similar to the one held for Mariano Rivera last season -- minus Metallica, of course.

The ceremony is expected to start sometime around 12:30 p.m., according to the Yankees, so whether you're at the game or watching from home, you'll want to make sure you don't miss it because it's going to be big, emotional, and a little fun.

Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Gerald Williams, Tim Raines, and probably many more will be at The Stadium today for Jeter.

As for the game, which will start around 1:35 p.m. ET, the Yankees and Royals split the first two games of the series after the Yankees took last night's game, 6-1, on the strength of another good outing from Brandon McCarthy.

Today's lineup against Kansas City:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Derek Jeter
2B Martin Prado
RF Carlos Beltran
C Brian McCann
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Stephen Drew
3B Chase Headley
LF Ichiro Suzuki

Pitching Matchup: Shane Greene vs Yordano Ventura

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Staring a loss right in the face, the Yankees came from behind to beat the Red Sox on a walk-off homerun by Chase Headley, minutes after a solo homerun by Mark Teixeira tied the game against Koji Uehara in the 9th inning, as the Bombers would beat Boston, 5-4, in the series finale on Thursday night in the Bronx.

David Ortiz had a big night for the Red Sox, blasting a pair of homeruns early in the game that helped the Sox jump out to a 3-0 lead. But in the end, it wasn't enough for his last place Sox to take home the victory.

Chris Capuano suffered possibly his worst start since joining the Yankees, as he failed to go at least five innings for the first time in eight starts, giving up four runs on six hits in just 4.1 innings.

Ortiz put the Yankees on the board in the top of the first inning, crushing a fastball over plate from Capuano into the right field seats, making it a 1-0 game. Ortiz made it a 3-0 game two innings later with another homerun, this time a two-run shot on a hanging breaking ball.

The Yankees came back to tie the game in the bottom half of the 3rd inning. Derek Jeter hit a two-run double into right-center field to pull the Yankees to within a run. The two batters later, Carlos Beltran singled into center field to score Jeter from second base, tying the game at 3-3.

Those were the only three runs that the Yankees were able to grab against Red Sox right-hander Brandon Workman, who was just recently called-up from Triple-A to start the game, Workman gave up just the three runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out five in six innings of work.

Boston took a 4-3 lead on a solo homerun by Brock Holt to open the top of the 5th inning. Capuano would leave the game a batter later, giving the ball off to the Yankees' bullpen, which was able to shut down the Red Sox for the remainder of the game.

Adam Warren was able to get out of trouble in the 9th inning after putting on the first two batters of the inning, retiring the next three he faced to set up the Yankees' win in the 9th.

Teixeira led off the inning with his first homerun in his last 56 at-bats, tying the game at 4-4. Then two batters later, Headley blasted a no-doubt homerun into the right field seats for his second walk-off hit since joining the Yankees.

With this Boston series now wrapped up, the Yankees will welcome the Kansas City Royals to town for a three-game series that starts on Friday night with Michael Pineda and James Shields facing off at 7:05 p.m. ET.

The Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak last night with a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox. The win puts the Yankees in a position to take the series against Boston this evening at Yankee Stadium after both sides split the first two games.

Brian McCann was the start of the show last night, collecting four hits, including a two-run homerun in the 2nd, and three RBIs to back up a strong seven-inning outing from Hiroki Kuroda, who picked up his 10th win of the season.

It's not question that 2014 was been a down year for McCann, who signed a five-year contract with the Yankees this past offseason. But there is always hope that he'll be able to turn things around at some point. While McCann certainly brings a lot to the Yankees' pitching staff, his big contract was mainly because of what he can do at the plate.

Tonight's lineup against Boston:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Derek Jeter
LF Brett Gardner
DH Carlos Beltran
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
3B Chase Headley
2B Stephen Drew
RF Ichiro Suzuki

Pitching matchup preview:

Left-hander Chris Capuano gets the ball for the Yankees tonight in the series finale with the Red Sox. Capuano earned his first with New York in his last start after giving up three runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend.

Capuano has been a very produce mid-season pickup for the Yankees since he was acquired in July, going at least five innings in each of his first seven starts.

Brandon Workman will take the mound for the visitors in this matchup, making his first start since being recalled by the Red Sox just a few days ago. In his most recent big league start, on August 23 against the Seattle Mariners, Workman was shelled for seven runs in 10 hits.

Despite being on pace to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive season, the Yankees are planning to offer general manager Brian Cashman a new contract that would bring him back for next season, and several more years after that, reports's Jon Heyman.

According to Heyman, higher-ups in the Yankees' front office like the mid-season pickups that Cashman has made this season -- like Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado, and Chase Headley -- and are not putting any of the blame on him for the struggles of prized free-agents, like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran.

Cashman's current three-year contract runs out at the end of the season, and reports earlier in the year suggested that the Yankees would be looking to bring back their long-time general manager.

The Yankees have averaged more than 96 wins a year and won four World series championships in his previous 16 seasons at the helm, so even with the arguments that the team isn't focused enough on younger, more in-their-prime players, Cashman's strategies have made him a very successful GM for  over a decade.

The Yankees have a policy of waiting until after the season to talk about renewing contracts for any upcoming free-agents, and Cashman won't be anything different.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Yankees bounced back from a sluggish series opener on Tuesday night to defeat the Boston Red Sox, 5-1, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Brian McCann had a big night at the plate that helped the Yankees snap a three-game losing streak, with four hits, including a two-run homerun in the bottom of the 2nd inning that put the Yankees up 2-0, and three RBIs on the night to lead the Bombers to victory.

On the mound, Hiroki Kuroda was dealing for the Yankees. He went seven strong innings, giving up just one run -- a Brock Holt double in the 6th inning that scored Jemile Weeks, who was hit by a pitch a batter earlier, to put the Red Sox on the board, making it a 3-1 game -- on four hits, while striking out eight and walking none in seven innings of work.

The Yankees added to their 2-0 against Boston's rookie starter Anthony Ranaudo in the 5th inning on a bases loaded sac-fly by Jacoby Ellsbury that scored Chase Headley from third base.

Ranaudo suffered his first loss at the big league level, giving up three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings. He walked two and struck out just one batter.

Brett Gardner made it a 4-1 game in the bottom of the 7th inning with an RBI single off of Sox reliever Alex Wilson, scoring Ellsbury. Three batters later, McCann extended the lead to 5-1 with an RBI single of his own -- it was his fourth hit of the night, as well.

Both Dellin Betances and David Robertson struck out a pair of hitters in scoreless innings to close out the ballgame.

The Yankees and Red Sox close out this three-game series on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. Chris Capuano and Brandon Workman will be the starting pitchers in that one.

With their playoff hopes quickly fading away, the Yankees will continue their three-game series with the Boston Red Sox this evening at Yankee Stadium. Boston took the series opener last night, 9-4, on the back of three homeruns against Yankees pitching.

With just a few weeks left to play, the Yankees are 9 1/2 games out of the AL East race, and five games back of the second wild card spot. Time is running out -- and fast.

Tonight's lineup against Boston:

CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Derek Jeter
LF Brett Gardner
DH Carlos Beltran
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
3B Chase Headley
2B Stephen Drew
RF Ichiro Suzuki

* Martin Prado is sitting out with a "mild, mild hamstring strain," according to Joe Girardi. It's possible that he could play tomorrow, but I wouldn't count on it.

Pitching matchup: Hiroki Kuroda vs Anthony Ranaudo

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Yankees on Tuesday afternoon announced a flurry of roster moves prior to tonight's series opener against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

September call-ups:

C John Ryan Murphy
OF Chris Young
OF Antoan Richardson
RHP Preston Claiborne
RHP Bryan Mitchell
RHP Chase Whitley
LHP Chaz Roe
RHP Rich Hill

Not really the biggest moves they could have made, and nothing in there that'll make this club good enough to reach the post season. Whatever, I guess.

In other roster moves:

Outfielder Zoilo Almonte was designated for assignment; right-hander Matt Daley was released; outfield prospect Slade Heathcott was recalled from Double-A Trenton and then placed on the 60-day DL; and Masahiro Tanaka was transferred over to the 60-day DL, which means he's done for the season.

Sometimes the easiest, most obvious answer is the one right in front you. Despite all the Yankees' troubles this season, they still have a shot at the playoffs. The starting rotation has been decimated, the offense has been lackluster for much of the season, and yet there is still a chance.

Getting the offense going is and has always been the key to this year's Yankees, and a simple lineup change could do wonders. For much of the year, Jacoby Ellsbury has been masquerading as a No. 3 hitter, it's safe to assume that's not what Brian Cashman had in mind when he signed the former Red Sox outfielder to a seven-year, $142 million contract this past offseason.

Brett Gardner -- who is having a career year -- has hit first all season. Followed by Gardner has been Derek Jeter, who in his final season, has been underwhelming at the plate, and that's putting it lightly. This was supposed to be a year-long farewell to Jeter, but his power has been nonexistent.

In August, as the Yankees were trying to catch Seattle and Detroit for the second Wild Card spot, Jeter hit .207 with four extra base hits, while Ellsbury was absolutely on fire. For the month, Ellsbury hit .324/.366/.539 with five home runs, 16 RBIs with five doubles, one triple and 9-for-9 in stolen base attempts.  

Martin Prado and his .466 slugging percentage have fit in nicely at the No. 3 spot followed by Brian McCann, Mark Texiera and Carlos Beltran have made the Yankees offense good enough at this time. Jeter batting second with his inability to hit the ball in the air has just a .312 slugging percentage is unacceptable at this time.

I wanted Jeter's final year to be a great last hurrah as much as the next guy, but he hasn't been the same since he broke his ankle in the first game of the 2012 ALCS. Given Girardi's relationship with the aging star, it's not surprising that he's sticking with No. 2, but that has to stop now.

For 20 years Jeter has professed to not care about personal statistics, if that is the case and there is no reason to doubt his team-first stance, then he should have no problem dropping down to the No. 7 spot in the lineup. This isn't A-Rod dropping to No. 7 by Joe Torre in the 2006 ALCS by any means.

The Yankees need for Jeter to move down in the lineup for the sake of the team. Masahiro Tanaka is on pace to return to the mound later this month to join Michael Pineda, Hiroki Kuroda and surprise additions' Shane Greene and Brandon McCarthy.

Sure, they trail Detroit/Kansas City by four games for the second Wild Card, and they would have to win a game just to get to the Division Series, but the playoffs aren't out of reach.

It's time for Girardi to stop looking at his shortstop like the future first-ballot Hall of Famer that he is, but a 40-year-old with no power, who is no longer fit to hit second for a contending team. It's a cold truth to swallow, but Father Time is undefeated in matters such as these.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Yankees got their hits today, but it wasn't enough for them to beat the Toronto Blue Jays, who used three homeruns to power their way past New York, 4-3, in the finale of this three-game series on Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Brett Gardner put the Yankees up 1-0 just two pitches into the game with a solo homerun to right field off of Blue Jays starter JA Happ to lead off the ballgame.

The Yankees doubled their lead in the top of the 4th inning to make it a 2-0 game. Martin Prado singled to open the frame; after a couple of outs, Chase Headley and Francisco Cervelli hit back-to-back singles, the later scoring Prado for the game's second run.

Gardner continued his great day at the plate the very next inning, slapping a triple into the left-center field gap. Jose Reyes' relay throw to third base sailed into the Jays' dugout, giving Gardner homeplate free of charge, extending the Yankees' lead to 3-0.

Gardner would go on to double in his next at-bat, needing just a single to reach the cycle. He wouldn't get it though, grounding out to second base in his final at-bat of the game, in the 9th inning.

Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy was cruising along through the first five innings, giving up just two hits -- he even struck out the side in the 5th. His stuff was looking good and his was putting together another great start, but that was until Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista hit back-to-back solo homeruns to quickly make it a one run game, at 3-2.

Then to open the bottom half of the 7th, Edwin Encarnacion tied the game with a solo blast to left field off of McCarthy, who walked the next batter before Joe Girardi ended his day and brought in Dellin Betances to get out of the inning. Betances got out of the inning, but not before Steve Tolleson, who pinch-ran for Dioner Navarro then stole second base, scored on a single to right field by Munenori Kawasaki, just barley making it into the plate before the tag could be applied by Cervelli.

McCarthy was charged with all four runs on five hits. He walked a pair and stuck out three on 90 pitches in six-plus innings.

After working out of the 7th, Betances came back out for the 8th inning and worked around a two-out single by Adam Lind to toss a scoreless inning. In all, he tossed 29 pitches.

Starting the game on the bench with a slightly injured ankle, Jacoby Ellsbury pinch-hit for Zelous Wheeler with one out in the top of the 9th inning, and doubled into shallow right field to put a runner on second base. Ichiro Suzuki pinch-ran for Ellsbury, and moved to third on the Gardner groundout. And then batting for the final time in Toronto, Derek Jeter lined out to second base to end the game.

After finishing up this seven-game road trip in which they went 3-4, the Yankees head back home to the Bronx, where they will open up a three-game series with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

Shane Greene will face off against Joe Kelley in that Tuesday night matchup at 7:05 p.m. ET.

One step forward, two steps back. That seems to be the way to describe the Yankees' struggling offense this past week. After scoring eight run against the Royals on Monday, they were limited to just two runs the next day in Detroit. They put up eight more runs, all in the 3rd inning against David Price, on Wednesday, then scored just two on Thursday.

And then they came into Toronto, where a five-run 7th inning on Friday night gave them a series opening win over the Blue Jays, only to collect one hit the very next day in a 2-0 loss.

Today, with Jacoby Ellsbury still out due to an ankle sprain, as Joe Girardi called it yesterday, the Yankees will look to take the rubber match of this three-game series in Toronto, as the Bombers wrap up their seven-game road trip this afternoon at 1:07 p.m. ET.

Today's lineup against Toronto:

CF Brett Gardner
DH Derek Jeter
2B Martin Prado
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Carlos Beltran
3B Chase Headley
C Francisco Cervelli
SS Stephen Drew
LF Zelous Wheeler

Pitching matchup preview:

The Yankees' ace of the past month and a half, Brandon McCarthy, take gets the ball for Joe Girardi's club this afternoon, as the right-hander is looking to bounce back from his worst start since joining the Bombers, when five runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Tigers.

"I've thrown well enough to get through outings where I haven't been as sharp, and today, that's the disappointment," McCarthy said after the Detroit outing. "I'd like to be able to fight back. You know days like this you're going to give up some runs, especially against a good team like that. You'd like to be able to limit it a little bit more."

McCarthy, who has posted a 1.90 ERA (11 earned runs in 52 innings) since joining the Yankees, is 1-2 with a 4.28 ERA in seven career appearances (four starts) against the Blue Jays.

He'll be going up against Blue Jays left-hander JA Happ, who is still looking for his first win since July 22, when he beat the Boston Red Sox. Happ has not been pitching well lately, having given up 11 runs in his last 15 1/3 innings.

This'll be Happ's second start this season against the Yankees, who hit him for three runs (two earned) on four hits, including a pair of homeruns, in 5 1/3 innings at Yankee Stadium back in July.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Yankees have beaten Drew Hucthinson three times this season, but on Saturday afternoon, the Bombers were only able to collect one hit in seven innings against the Blue Jays' right-hander in a 2-0 loss at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.

A two-run homerun in the 1st inning by Jose Bautista off of Yankees starter Michael Pineda turned out to be the difference-maker in this one, as the Jays rebounded from last night's loss to take the middle game of this three-game series.

After an offensive outbreak last night, and a couple of times in Detroit this past week, the Yankees' offense showed more of what we have been seeing all season long.

The Yankees didn't get their first baserunner of the game against Hutchinson until Carlos Beltran was hit by a pitch with two outs in the 4th inning. Their first hit came a batter later when Mark Teixeira doubled to deep right-center field, putting runners on second and third. Hutchinson then hit Brian McCann to load the bases, but the Yankees wouldn't get anything out of it when Martin Prado flew out to end the inning.

Teixeira's double was the only hit of the game. They only had two more bases runners after the 4th inning, on walks by Beltran and Stephen Drew.

Hutchinson struck out nine and walked just two in his seven one-hit innings. In all, the Bombers struck out 12 times, as they were one-hit for the first time since former Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay did it to them on September 4, 2009.

Pitching-wise, the Yankees had a good game. They got six innings of two-run ball from Pineda, who gave up seven hits and struck out three. Shawn Kelley and David Huff both tossed scoreless innings out of the bullpen in the 7th and 8th.

The Yankees and Blue Jays conclude this series tomorrow afternoon at 1:07 p.m. ET. Brandon McCarthy gets the ball for New York, going up against lefty JA Happ.

The Yankees are at that point in the season in which they can't afford to lose very many ballgames anymore. They took home a big win over the Toronto Blue Jays last night, scoring five runs in the 7th inning to take a 5-1 lead, as they would go on to win 6-3.

The Yankees now stand seven games back of the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, and three games back of the Detroit Tigers for the second wild card spot with just 30 games left to play this season.

Today's lineup against Toronto:

CF Brett Gardner
SS Derek Jeter
DH Carlos Beltran
1B Mark Teixeira
C Brian McCann
LF Martin Prado
2B Stephen Drew
3B Chase Headley
RF Ichiro Suzuki

* Jacoby Ellsbury gets the day off after hurting his ankle in last night's win. He was seen hobbling around by reporters with his ankle taped. I'm guessing he'll be out for a couple more day.

Pitching matchup: Michael Pineda vs Drew Hutchinson

Triple-A Scranton: 6-5 loss vs Lehigh Valley IronPigs

SS Jose Pirela: 0-for-2, K
RF Chris Young: 1-for-4, K
2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-for-4, K
1B Kyle Roller: 1-for-4, R, K
CF Adonis Garcia: 2-for-4, R, 2 2B, RBI
C John Ryan Murphy: 2-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, K -- 6th homerun of the season

Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR
Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Preston Claiborne: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Double-A Trenton: 3-0 loss vs Reading Fighin' Phils

LF Jake Cave: 0-for-5, 2 K
DH Ben Gamel: 0-for-3, BB, K
1B Greg Bird: 1-for-4, K
C Francisco Arcia: 2-for-4, 2B
CF Mason Williams: 0-for-3, BB, K

Luis Severino: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
Mark Montgomery: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

High-A Tampa: 8-4 loss vs Daytona Cubs

CF Mark Payton: 0-for-4, BB, K
SS Cito Culver: 1-for-5, R, K
3B Eric Judge: 1-for-4, R
RF Aaron Judge: 0-for-2, R, 2 BB
DH Mike Ford: 1-for-3, R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB

Miguel Sulbaran: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR

Low-A Charleston: 6-1 win vs Augusta GreenJackets

SS Tyler Wade: 1-for-4, R, RBI, BB, 2 K
DH Michael O’Neill: 3-for-4, R, RBI, K
3B Miguel Andujar: 1-for-5
2B Gosuke Katoh: 0-for-4, BB, 4 K

Rookie Davis: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K

Short Season Staten Island: 8-7 win (F/10) vs Vermont Lake Monsters

CF Collin Slaybaugh: 1-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 K -- walk-off double
DH Connor Spencer: 2-for-5, R, RBI
1B Chris Breen: 3-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB -- second homer in his last five games
RF Austin Aune: 0-for-5, 3 K
C Luis Torrens: 1-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, K

Jordan Montgomery: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Jordan Foley: 3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Rony Bautista: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Baseball is a very weird game sometimes, you guys.

Facing former Cy Young winner David Price one night after getting just two runs over eight innings against Rick Porcello, the Yankees knocked Price out of the game with nobody out in the 3rd inning after collecting nine straight hits, as they would go on to beat the Tigers, 8-4, on Wednesday night in Detroit.

Price gave up three singles in the first two innings, but the Yankees weren't able to put any runs on the board. At least until the 3rd inning came around, when the Yankees collected nine straight base hits to open the inning.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off then stole second base before Derek Jeter doubled down the right field lineup, putting the Yankees up 1-0. Martin Prado singled, Mark Teixeira doubled home Jeter, moving Prado to third. Carlos Beltran singled home Prado, then Brian McCann singled home Teixeira. Chase Headley singled to load the bases, then Brett Gardner reached on an infield single to score Beltran, then Francisco Cervelli drove in McCann on a single to left field, making a 6-0 game.

Price left with nobody out and the bases loaded in the 3rd inning. None of the secondary pitches were working for him, and the Yankees were taking full advantage of it. He gave up eight runs on 12 hits in two-plus innings.

Detroit was forced to go to it's bullpen far earlier than expected, but the Yankees still added to the score, scoring two more runs on back-to-back sac-fly's by Ellsbury and Jeter, extending the lead to 8-0.

That gave Yankees starter Shane Greene more than enough room to work with, as if he really even needed it.

Greene didn't give up a hit until Torii Hunter singled to open the 4th inning. Miguel Cabrera doubled a batter later to drive him home, putting the Tigers on the board to close to gap -- just a little bit -- to 8-1. A couple innings later, Victor Martinez, crushed his 26th homerun of the year to make it an 8-2 game.

That was all the Tigers were able to get against Greene, who was dealing. The young right-hander went seven strong innings, giving up just the two runs on five hits, striking out eight and walking just one on 101 pitches.

Adam Warren gave up a run in the 8th inning after issuing a one-out walk to Martinez, then giving up an RBI triple to Nick Castellanos. Dellin Betances finished off the 9th inning, giving up a run on a couple of two-out hits, to close out the Yankees' sixth win in their last seven games.

The Yankees and Tigers will finish up this three-game series on Thursday afternoon at 1:08 p.m. ET. Hiroki Kuroda will be on the mound for the Bombers, facing off with Kyle Lobstein.