Sunday, June 30, 2013

We're about eight days away from finding out if the Yankees will call-up the big, talented prospect they gave up Jesus Montero for over a year ago. But after being roughed up today in his second rehab outing in Double-A Trenton, I have to ask, should the Yankees call him up next week or send him to Scranton (although I hear Scranton ain't a bad place to live compared to the Bronx).

Of course it was just one little bump in the road. Up until this point, he's been pitching pretty well on his road to recovery.

Facing off against top Mets prospect, Noah Snydergaard, in Binghamton, Pineda failed to stand to the challenge, giving up four runs on four hits, while walking four an striking out four, throwing 67 pitches in on three innings of work.

Through the first couple months of the season, the Yankees have lived off of their pitching, but over the recent weeks, it's been known to let them down at time (as if the offense hasn't done the same).

CC has been living an on-again, off-again type season. Pettitte is showing every bit of his 40-year old wear and tear. Kuroda has been arguably the team best pitcher this season, but has only won one game over his last seven starts. Hughes is easily at risk of losing his job, whether Girardi wants to admit it or not. And Phelps has been solid, but has had a few starts this season in which he's given up a lot of runs in not a not of innings.

At this point, if there's anyone that Pineda might replace on the roster, it wouldn't be a starter, but someone in the bullpen like Nova or Adam Warren.

Although Nova's last couple outing have been pretty good, I can still imagine a scenario in which he's getting on a bus back to AAA. But then again, we haven't seen much of Warren lately, making it likely he could head back to Scranton to get some work in.

Brain Cashman sure does have a tough decision to make with Pineda in the next few days, and it's a decision that might not be made until the clock strikes zero on Pineda's rehab clock.

But luckily for the Yankees, there isn't as much pressure to call him up now because of how things are going for Montero and the Mariners. As wells as things went for him last year, Montero is now in Triple-A trying to fix some early season issues.

Personally, when Hughes makes his next start on Tuesday, the Yankees need to take a good hard look at how he pitches. If it's anything like his last outing against the Rangers, then Pineda is staying in AAA. But if he pitches like the Hughes of the past few weeks, then Cashman should give Pineda a call and congratulate him for being the newest member of the New York Yankees.

Tick-Tock Cashman. Time to make your decision is running out.

Question: Would you call-up Michael Pineda? Comment below or tell me on Twitter, @GavinEwbank2013.
They lost a heart breaker on Friday, were blown out on Saturday, now the Yankees will give the ball to Hiroki Kuroda, the most consistent of the Yankees starters this season, with the hopes that he can stop the four game losing skid and avoid a sweep at the hands of the Orioles.

Tonight's lineup, 8:05 PM @ Camden Yards:

Gardner CF
Ichiro RF
Cano 2B
Hafner DH
Almonte LF
Overbay 1B
Nix SS
Stewart C
Adams 3B

Kuroda P

Pitching preview:

Sabathia took a no-hitter into the 6th inning on Friday, but couldn't hold off a late comeback by the Birds. Then Davis Phelps got shelled, being charged with nine runs in 2 1/3 innings on Saturday.

Kuroda is coming off a no-decision against the Rangers in which he allowed only two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings, while walking only one and striking out six. He only has one win in his last seven starts, lack of run support being an issue, but has been able to keep his ERA at a low 2.77.

The last time that Kuroda faced the Orioles on May 22nd, things didn't go very well for the righty, as the O's bounced out for five runs on eight hits in only two innings of work.

He'll be opposed by Chris Tillman, who's having a very solid season for Baltimore, with a 9-2 record and 3.72 ERA. Tillman looks to finish off June on the right foot, having gone 5-0 over the past month.

Tillman ran into trouble early in his last start against the Cleveland Indians, but was able to hang around to go seven innings, giving up just three earned runs in a winning effort.

Yankee notes:

--Michael Pineda made his second start for Double-A Trenton on Sunday, but didn't have much success facing Noah Syndergaard, who's one of the Mets top pitching prospects, tossing only three innings, allowing four runs on four hits, while walking four and striking out four, throwing only 67 pitches.

Pineda has 8 days left on his minor league assignment, making it likely that he'll get one more start under his belt before the Yankees decide what to do with him.

--Manager Joe Girardi has mentioned a few days ago that he planned on starting Ivan Nova at some point in the week while the Yankees were in Minnesota, but he told the media before the game that it'll no longer happen.

Girardi said that the Yankees would use rotation of Pettitte-Hughes-Sabathia-Phelps for the four games against the Twins. It's unclear when Nova will get his next chance to start, but for now he'll continue to serve as the long-relief man in the bullpen.

Nova was brought in the relive the struggling Phelps in the 3rd inning, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out four over 5 2/3 innings. The two runs allowed came off of a Chris Davis blast in the 6th.

Tonight's game can be seen on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter. Enjoy the game!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Taking a no-hitter into the 6th inning wasn't enough for CC Sabathia and the Yankees to overcome the Orioles Friday night in the series opener. Baltimore tied the game with three runs in the 6th, then took the lead on a solo homerun by Nate McLouth in the 7th. In the end, the Yankees weren't able to overcome an offensive shortage, falling to the O's 4-3.

Tonight's lineup, 7:10 ET @ Camden Yards:

Gardner CF
Nix SS
Cano 2B
Wells DH
Suzuki RF
Almonte LF
Adams 3B
Overbay 1B
Romine C
Phelps P

Pitching Preview:

David Phelps is making his first of the season against the Orioles, looking to end his spectacular June in style. Phelps is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in the month of June and lowered his season ERA to 4.01.

This will be his second time facing Baltimore, first as a starter. Back on April 13, Phelps tossed four scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, while walking none and striking out six in a relief outing.

As the number starter in the Yankees rotation, Phelps has hardly done anything to disappoint. Since earning a starting job early in the year, he's easily been one of the Yankees better pitchers and solidified himself in the back-end of the rotation.

Phelps will be opposed by Baltimore lefty, Zach Britton, who's made a pair of starts since recently being called up, but has only tallied up 10 2/3 innings in those two starts, while striking out six and walking six. His last outing was against the Indians on Monday when he gave up three runs over five plus innings.

"[He] just elevated some balls, lost his command," manager Buck Showalter said. "He had pretty good movement, late life. He got out of some potential sticky situations, but I thought he pitched well for five innings. But ... different stuff showed up there in the sixth."

Britton has never had success in his career against the Yankees, entering play with a disastrous ERA of 7.82 over six starts.

Game notes:

Facing a lefty for the second straight day, the Yankees are once again without Travis Hafner in their lineup, but have slotted Lyle Overbay back into the starting nine.

The Yankees offense has not done a great job of treading water lately, going 12-19 over their last 31 games, while averaging only 3.2 runs per game. It's been a while since we've since the April Yankees.

"We've got to figure it out," Girardi said. "For me to spend all my time worrying about that is not going to do me any good. The bottom line is that I think these guys are capable of getting it done, and we've just got to do it."

"On a daily basis, I don't really think a lot about it. I think about how you're going to win that game today," he said. "As we left Spring Training, we said that the strength of our club was going to be our pitching, and we were probably going to have to win a lot of tight games. We're going to have to continue to do that if we're going to have success."

Tonight's game can be seen on FOX, and you can follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.
It's becoming more and more evident everyday that if the Yankees are going to have any chance at succeeding in the playoffs, they're going to need a offensively sound third baseman to held them achieve their goals.

Last night's starting third baseman, Alberto Gonzalez, gave the Yankees very little to cheer about with his 0-for-4 performance, that included three strikeouts and an error in the field. Gonzalez only has three hits for the Yankees, none since May 15th against the Mariners, and is batting a mere .100 with no RBI's.

Remember when the Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis and everyone was all like, "What's going to happen when A-Rod comes back, leaving us with two third baseman?" Well, Youkilis is probably done for the year and A-Rod isn't sure that he's going to see the field again in 2013.

The Yankees thought they had something special in David Adams, but now he doesn't look like he has a clue about what to do at the plate and his batting average is dropping each and every game.

Girardi hasn't been able to pencil down a normal third baseman in a while and it's hurting the Yankees. Nix, although he's going an OK job, is normally a SS/2B, Gonzalez is normally a SS/2B, and Adams came up mainly at second base, not as a third baseman.

When you rank the Yankees third base production against the other teams in the American League, the Yanks are last in homeruns (4) and last in RBI's (28). A .234 average ranks them 21st in baseball, and a .324 slugging percentage ranks them 28th.

An upgrade is need now, not later. Cashman can't risk waiting on A-Rod, hoping he comes back sometime after the All-Star break, and lose out some of the other options around the league.

As for the options, there are a few players that can fit into the Yankees mold, but there isn't many. For instance, I mentioned Michael Young the other day and not many people seemed to agree with me, although there are some reports the suggest the Yankees are interested in trading for Young.

His salary is payable, is average would immediately place himself as one of the Yankees top average hitters, and his ability to play around the diamond, especially 1st base, would help the team in many ways, giving Girardi a better option to back-up Overbay.

Aramis Ramirez is another name to keep an eye on. He's hitting .275 with 5 homeruns and 27 RBI's this season for the Brewers, but he is owed a lot of money over the next couple of years and that's something the Yankees might want to avoid.

Jeff Keppinger is a guy the Yankees went after in the offseason, but didn't get him, obviously. He's hitting .247 with 2 homeruns and 28 RBI's for the White Sox this season, and as a third baseman his fielding percentage is 1.000. So there's that.

As much as the Yankees want to keep payroll down and use players from within the system, they have to understand their system is very stacked with big-league bats. I'm all for them going out to pick up some bats at the deadline, as long as they're not place holders like Reid Brignac, Chris Nelson and Alberto Gonzalez.

Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.

Friday, June 28, 2013

After being shutout for the 7th time this season, the look to finally put their offensive woes behind them as they begin a seven-game road trip that starts tonight in Baltimore for three games, then will head out to Minnesota for a four game set with the Twins.

Tonight's lineup, 7:05 ET @ Camden Yards:

Gardner CF
Nix SS
Cano 2B
Wells DH
Suzuki RF
Almonte LF
Stewart C
Adams 1B
Gonzalez 3B
Sabathia P

Big misunderstanding during the pregame gathering as we were all lead to believe that David Phelps, not Sabathia, was suppose to take the hill for game one of the series. When the lineup was posted, it garnered CC's name, giving the impression that Phelps had been scratched.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild announced shorty after that Phelps was never intended to start Friday's game, and that Sabathia had always been the scheduled starter, siting that the Yankees had falsely announced the weekends projected rotation.

Either way, all is good and there's nothing to worry about, for now, in the Yankees club house that is currently preparing to face a very young and challenging Orioles lineup, that will attempt to put up some runs to support Baltimore's starting pitcher, T.J. McFarland (1-0, 4.14).

McFarland is making his first career major league start, but has appeared in 18 games as a reliever for the Orioles this season. He'll face off with Sabathia, who's sporting a 3-1 record during the month of June, while also holding a unusually high, 5.10 ERA this month.

For game coverage, you can follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday in the Bronx, Ivan Nova made his first start in the majors since leaving with triceps inflammation on April 29th against the Blue Jays. It was only a spot start, but it may have been the beginning of something more.

Nova's afternoon had a bumpy take-off, before he was able to settle in quite nicely against the Rays. Nova delivered one of his best starts of the season, tossing 6 2/3 innings, giving up only three runs on seven hits, while walking three and striking out a season high, seven batters.

His breaking pitches, namingly his slider and curveball, were outstanding. He kept the Rays hitter off-balance and had them guessing throughout the afternoon.

"He was just consistently throwing strikes with everything he had," catcher Chris Stewart said. "His fastball was sinking, we were able to get some groundballs. His curveball was really good."

Up until having two-outs in the 7th inning, Nova was cruising. When he hit Desmond Jennings and Matt Joyce, his day abruptly ended. Leaving to the bullpen to eventually surrender the go-ahead runs that would prove to be the deciding factor in the Rays 3-1 win.

Before the game, manager Joe Girardi wouldn't give any details to the media about what his plans were with Nova. He said that he wanted to first see how he threw the ball. Now that he's see him pitch, it's only a matter of time until a decision is made.

With this brilliant performance now in the books, the ball is in Phil Hughes' court. Hughes has been among the Yankees biggest weakness over the past few weeks, going 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA in his last seven starts.

His last outing against the Dodgers may have been the one to set the countdown for his removal from the rotation in motion. Allowing five runs on 10 hits, he proved be ineffective in a time when it wasn't an option.

"I haven’t really thought about moving Phil out of the rotation." Said Girardi last week. "He’s capable of doing a good job for us but right now, he’s struggling." But after today's game, Girardi did say this: "When you see the way [Nova] pitched today, he makes it real hard."

Hughes was scheduled to next take the mound on Tuesday against the Rangers. Instead, the Yankees pushed him back so that Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda can make their normal rotation starts. This means that we won't get to see how Hughes responds to the pressure of possibly losing his job until Thursday.

A trip to the bullpen or the minors may be in the future of either Nova or Hughes. Don't for get that Michael Pineda is also on his way. Many decision are are hand for the Yankees as the month progresses.

"The decision that they make, I don't got no control about that," Nova said. "I just got to be happy with the way I threw the ball, and I am. I don't know if I opened their eyes today, but I opened my eyes. That gave me a little more confidence in myself. I knew I could pitch better, and I did."

Nova showed the Yankees his hand on Saturday, and now the pressure is on Hughes to fight back show the doubters that a spot in the rotation is something he deserves.

You can follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Donnie Baseball makes his long awaited return the the Bronx as his last place Dodgers will try to turn things around against the reeling Yankees. Rookie sensation will make his first trip to the big apple since coming up and Yankees fans will have a great chance to see what the hype is all about.

Tonight's lineup, 7:05 ET at Yankee Stadium:

Gardner 8
Nix 6
Cano 4
Wells 7
Neal DH
Suzuki 9
Adams 5
Overbay 3
Stewart 2
Hughes 1

Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) has had his fair share of ups and downs this season and just hasn't been able to pull off a string of solid starts this season. His last outing against the Athletics is one he'd like to improve on, tossing only 4 1/3 innings in Oakland.

"I didn't have good stuff that day. It's something that I can't really help sometimes," Hughes said. "It's led to a lot of deep counts, foul balls and the pitch count getting out of control very quickly. I have confidence that I'll bounce back from that."

Hughes' opponent from the other dugout will be Korean rookie, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Unlike Hughes, Ryu has been successful lately, coming into tonight's start on a streak of four straight quality starts with a season ERA of 2.85.

Teixeira to the DL:

Not coming as a big surprise, but the Yankees have officially place Mark Teixeira on the DL. GM Brain Cashman said yesterday that was was leaning towards placing Teixeira on the DL, but was going to wait a few days to see how things played out.

Teixeira was diagnosed with inflammation in his right wrist and received a cortisone shot in his wrist. Lyle Overbay will resume his role as the starting 1st baseman in his absence. Just days after Kevin Youkilis went onto the DL, Teixeira will now join him.

To accommodate the move, the Yankees have called-up RHP Adam Warren from AAA-Scranton along with teammate OF Zolio Almonte. Chris Bootcheck was designated for assignment, as well, today.

Youkilis to have surgery:

The Yankees announced on Tuesday that Kevin Youkilis has been diagnosed with a herniated disk in his back and he will undergo surgery on Thursday. Youkilis is expected to miss a minimum of 10-12 weeks.

This is news that Yankees fan feared. He was placed on the DL on Friday with a lumbar strain in his back and now it seems like his career as a Yankee might be over as know it.

I'll have more on Youkilis as the day goes on and I has more info on Twitter as it becomes available.

Don't forget that you can follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Brain Cashman spoke to the media on Monday and he gave out information on many of the Yankees injured stars. Here's what he had to say:

--On Mark Teixeira, Cashman said, "I'm leaning personally towards the disabled list there." Teixeira underwent an MRI in New York on Sunday that came back showing only inflammation in his right wrist, luckily no new tears. He received a cortisone shot and will be out for the next few days. "Not a player for seven days at a minimum" Cashman added.

--Michael Pineda will make his next start for the Tampa Yankees this Thursday in the Florida State League; and he'll be limited to around 80 pitches. Cashman said that Pineda has been sitting at 92 mph in his rehab outings, topping out at 94-95.

--Curtis Granderson is expected to have the pin removed from his hand on Thursday. Granderson continues to work his way back and we currently don't know the exact time we'll see him again on the field. More info on when he begins baseball activities will likely come on Thursday.

--Alex Rodriguez will face live pitching Tuesday in Tampa. I believe that this will be the first time that A-Rod will be facing live pitching during his rehab.

For more Yankees news you can follow me on Twitter, or just click follow on the tweet above.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

For eight innings on Sunday, all was going right for the Yankees. CC was dominating, the offense was finally producing more runs than a taco bell, and overall, everything just seemed to be going their way.

But with just three outs left, all hell broke loose. A double by Mike Trout and a walk to Albert Pujols cut Sabathia's 9th inning short, keeping him from going to distance.

It's OK, because David Robertson will come in and shut things down, right? Wrong.

Robertson was greeted by Mark Trumbo, who rocketed a ball that ricocheted off of D-Rod, finding it's way into right field, bringing home Trout. He rebounded to strike out the streaking Howie Kendrick, but followed up with a walk to J.B. Shuck.

Joe Girardi was forced to call upon the 43-year old Mariano Rivera, who just minutes prior probably never guessed that he'd have to come in with his team entering the inning with a six run lead.

Rivera got Erick Aybar to ground out to 1st base for the second out of the inning. A run scored on the play, but with still a four run cushion, all seemed fine. But it wasn't.

Alberto Callaspo singled home a pair of runs on a soft liner into right field, making it a two-run game. Brad Hawpe singled, putting runners on the corners with still two down. Peter Bourjos singled home Callaspo to pull the Angels within a run.

With the pressure building on a man who's knows pressure as something he only felt as, maybe, a rookie in the league. Trout walked to load the bases for Pujols.

Two, without a doubt, Hall of Famers facing off with the game on the line. Though struggling this season, Pujols is still a feared hitter, but Mariano was able to get the best of him, striking him out to end the game. Writing off any chance of the biggest failure for the Yankees this season.

The 9th inning of Sunday's game seemingly mirrors how this season has gone for the Yankees, on so many levels. Everything was going great, before it all started to fall apart.

Six games above .500 after April, things were playing out well beyond the Yankees wildest expectations. Robinson Cano was pulling off an MVP performance, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner were playing like it was 2007, and for the time, the Yankees were treading water better than expected.

But as May rolled around, the team started to tread on more water than they could handle. Wells' impressive batting average started to slip downward, along with his power.

Hafner slowed down towards the end of May, as well as Cano. They Yankees big bats that had carried them for the first month and a half began to fade away like the fantasy dream the Yankees were living.

The long awaited returns of Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis were short lived. Granderson played only eight games before taking another pitch off his hand, landing him back on the DL for another extended period of time.

Youkilis came back less productive than he was before his original DL stint. Now on the DL for the second time with back problems that will likely keep him on the DL for more than just 15 days, his season with the Bombers isn't spelling well.

Teixeira, who had already missed the first 52 games with a wrist tendon injury, was forced to fly back to New York on Saturday to undergo an MRI on his wrist. Luckily for the Yankees they came back showing only inflammation and a DL trip isn't, yet, in his future.

The Yankees as a team came into Sunday's game in their worst offensive slump of the season. Scoring just two runs in each of their last four game, the solid pitching hasn't been able to hold the team up much longer.

When the Yankees were given the opportunity of having the bases loaded with only one out, the thoughts of this being the time that they finally break out and score more than two runs in a game for the first time since Wednesday were running through my mind.

But when Wells grounded into an inning-ending double play, I was reminded of the fact that the Yankees aren't who they were in April, when a bases loaded chance meant that they would walk away with at least a pair of runs.

Now it's just another torturing attempt by the baseball gods to make fun of the dawning situation that Yankee fans have been dealing with for most of June.

Then with one swing of the bat, when Hafner launched a three-run homerun over the center field wall, it felt as if all of the Yankees recent struggle had flown out of the park with the ball that Hafner sent flying.

A five run inning seemed like a dream that the Yankees have been waiting for, for days. Adding a sixth run only helped the offensively challenged lineup hold up it's end of the deal that the pitching staff had been picking up after for weeks.

With CC cruising into the 9th inning with a 6-0 lead, everyone figured that nothing could go wrong. Then when the Angels began to put up runs, then more runs, and then eventually bring the game to within a run with one of the all-time greatest hitters at the plate.

The feelings of an up and down season began to rush up. A perfect start, with a couple bumps in the road, then when everything was going their way and nothing less, it all began to fall apart.

There's still a lot of baseball left to be played and the Yankees could fall in any direction from here on out. A brutal 4-6 road trip, capped off with a near six run collapse in the final game of the ten game trip.

The past few weeks haven't been great for the Yankees, and Sunday's win pretty much sums it up.

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Coming of another loss on Saturday, the Yankees lifeless bats will look to salvage what they can from this ten-game road trip before the club heads home to play the Dodgers on Tuesday. The Yankees have only scored two runs in each of their last four games and haven't been able to put anything together offensively.

Today's lineup:

Gardner 8
Ichiro 9
Cano 4
Hafner DH
Wells 7
Overbay 3
Nix 5
Brignac 6
Stewart 2
Sabathia 1

On the edge of a six game losing streak the Yankees will send out their proven ace, CC Sabathia (6-5, 4.07 ERA), in hopes that he can break the Yankees skid before the team starts falling too far out of first place.

Sabathia is coming off a sluggish outing against the Athletics on Tuesday when he allowed six runs on eight hits, while giving up two home runs. Fastball command was one of the biggest issues in his last start and he's looking to improve on that today in Anaheim.

"I just felt like everything was flat; no real life on the fastball," Sabathia said. "It's up to me to go out there and battle, try to keep us in the game."

Opposing CC on the hill will be the Angels' former Cy Young winner, Jered Weaver (1-2, 3.77 ERA). Weaver is also coming on a somewhat disappointing start in Baltimore when he was charged with four runs on six hits in a rain-shortened affair , going only 5 2/3 inning, throwing 83 pitches.

"It was frustrating," Weaver said. "I heard the weather report and just didn't want to go out there and throw three innings and have it stop. It kind of feels like a wasted opportunity, I guess you can say, but weather always plays a part in the game, no matter where you're at. Obviously, it showed tonight. Like I said, you can't make any excuses. Both teams have to play in it."

Teixeira update:

The Yankees announced Sunday afternoon that Mark Teixeira underwent an MRI in New York and it showed only inflammation in his right wrist, but luckily no new tears. He was given a cortisone shot in wrist and the Yankees have not announced any planes to place him on the DL.

"There's inflammation, and even though he's hurt, that's probably the best-case scenario we could have got," Girardi said. "That's a good thing. If he was to re-tear it, that would probably be it for the season."

Teixeira left in the 4th inning of Saturday's game against the Angels when he was replaced by David Adams at 1st base. He had popped out to 3rd base in his previous in the top half of the inning. The Yankees later announced that he had a "aggravated right wrist" and he got on a plane and flew back to New York.

"He's not a player for at least a couple days," Girardi said. "We'll re-evaluate him after a couple days and see where we're at."

Joe Girardi said in a between-innings interview on FOX that Teixeira didn't have the "snap" in his wrist when batting from the left side and that he would get a couple days off.

"He just came to us and said he just feels like there's not a lot of strength there," Girardi said Saturday. "I think he just doesn't feel that he has the whip that he normally has hitting left-handed."

In the 15 games he has played since returning, Teixeira is hitting .151 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

"I don't know that it's been right since he's been back, honestly," hitting coach Kevin Long said. "To go out there and be a shell of who he is, it's not fun for him, it's not fun for the team and it's not fun for his hitting coach to watch.

"The bottom line is he needs to get it to where he can go out there and compete at a high level. That's what we're used to seeing and that's what he's used to doing."

Obviously he won't be in Sunday's lineup and the Yankees will head back to New York after the game today. They'll have an off-day on Monday then start a two-game set against the Dodgers on Tuesday.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hiroki Kuroda fired eight innings, allowing only two runs. The Yankees were also held to two runs over the first eight innings. In fact, both team would be held to two runs for over 17 innings. In a game that never seemed to end, the Yankees lost a 18 inning heart breaker at the hands of the Athletics, as the Bombers bats died off after the 1st inning.

What it means: The Yankees bullpen was completely depleted, while the team now travels to Anaheim without much rest. After being swept in three games by Oakland, the Yankees continue to fall behind the Red Sox in the AL East with help still far from returning.

Don't cha know: Robinson Cano homered in the 1st inning, ending the Yankees five game homer-less drought. His two-run shot would be the only offense that the Yankees would muster up in over 18 innings of play.

Close call: We may not have played 18 innings had it not been for a play at the plate in the 3rd inning. With Oakland already having scored one run in the inning, Seth Smith lined a two-out double off the wall in right, as the ball come home, Chris Stewart appeared to have applied the tag, but the runner was called safe to tie the game at 2-2.

Hirok: Hiroki Kuroda followed up Phil Hughes' rough start on Wednesday with a dominating outing against the Athletics. Take away the two-run 3rd innings and what you have is one the best starts that the Yankees would have had this season. Kuroda battled 8 innings against Oakland's start, Jarrod Parker, permitting two runs on two hits, while walking two and striking out three.

Second starter: Adam Warren entered the game in the 11th inning and tossed 6 shutout innings, allowing only four hits, while walking two and striking out four on 85 pitches. Because of his extended outing, it's very likely that Warren will be sent down before the Yankees take the field in Anaheim. Six innings of work will make him useless for the next few days and after the Yankees used six relievers in the game, they'll need to call up some help for their tired arms.

Just awful: The fearsome four of Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells were a combined 0-for-28 with 12 strikeouts.

Not just yet: With the game on the line in the 15th inning, Coco Crisp lined a soft single into left field, as Brandon Moss came charging home, Wells cannoned home a throw that not only beat Moss to the plate, but was hung on by Stewart following a collision at the plate, saving the game for the Yankees.

Wasted chances: The Yankees left a runner on 2nd in the 10th inning, the bases loaded in the 11th, a runner on 2nd in the 12th, stranded Cano on 2nd after a leadoff double in the 13th, again with the bases loaded in the 14th, totaling 11 men left on base in the 10th through 14th innings.

Up next: The Yankees travel to LA for a three-game set with the Angels starting on Friday. Pitching matchups: Andy Pettitte (5-3, 3.82) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (4-5, 4.05) on Friday; David Phelps (4-3, 3.90) vs. RHP Tommy Hanson (3-2, 4.12) on Saturday; CC Sabathia (6-5, 4.07) vs. RHP Jered Weaver (1-2, 3.77) on Sunday.

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Ichiro head to the dugout after scoring the winning run
in the 9th inning.
The true definition of a pitchers duel was on display Sunday in Seattle. Felix Hernandez and David Phelps managed to go toe to toe with both pitcher allowing only one run, but each would end up with the no-decisions as the Yankees were able to pull off a late win and take the series from the Mariners.

The Yankees once again jumped out to an early 1-0 lead off of King Felix in the 2nd inning. Jayson Nix singled to lead off the inning, then a couple batter later, Chris Stewart landed a perfect bunt single to put runners on the corners with only one away.

Brett Gardner followed with a single into center field that scored Nix. Gardner had a great day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with three hits coming off of King Felix. Gardner is also the first player this season to have a three-hit game off of Hernandez.

"I saw the ball well off him today. Other days, you don't see it at all," Gardner said. "He's got real good stuff. We took advantage of a couple balls he left up in the zone today, but usually when he's down in the zone, he's tough. It's a big win for us."

Seattle answered back with a run off of Phelps in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Kelly Shoppach doubled to left field, then was driven home a couple batter later when Brendan Ryan single to center field.

From there on out the two starting pitchers would settle into cruise control. Phelps shutdown the Mariners for the next four innings, while Hernandez kept the Yankees bat quiet through the 7th inning.

"Regardless of who I'm pitching against, I'm going to go out and try to put up as many zeros as I can," Phelps said. "It just so happens that if you're facing an ace, you've got to try to keep them in the game a little bit more. He's done it for so long, and he's done it so well, you know a lot of times you might only get one run."

Phelps finished after 6 inning, permitting Seattle to only one run on three hits, while walking three and striking out six. Hernandez went seven innings, surrendering only one run on five hits, while walking two and striking out seven.

"It's impressive," said Brett Gardner. "[Phelps'] pitch count got up a little bit early; he wasn't really pounding the zone like he normally does, so for him to stay in the game as long as he did and keep trading zeros with [Hernandez], it's pretty fun to watch."

With the score still tied in the 9th inning, the Yankees managed to plate a run that would give the Yankees the lead and eventually the win. Ichiro walked to lead off the inning then was pushed to 2nd by a Nix bunt. A couple batter later, Stewart singled into left field, letting Ichiro score.

"It's a huge confidence booster," said Stewart, whose go-ahead hit came off Seattle reliever Yoervis Medina. "Joe felt good about the situation and I felt good going into it. I know I've been seeing good pitches and putting good swings on the ball. Fortunately, I had another one."

Stewart has been hitting the ball really well lately and pickup a couple more hits on Sunday to add to his recent success, and now he's batting .276 this season as the Yankees starting catcher.

"He's been really important. Stewie has done a really good job," Girardi said. "You see the job he does behind the plate. He's gotten on base this year and he's had some big RBIs -- maybe none bigger than this one."

Mariano Rivera gave up a pair of singles in the 9th inning, but that didn't stop him from capturing his 23rd save of the season. David Robertson was credited with the win after tossing a scoreless inning of relief in the 8th inning.

Mariano made what is almost his certainly his last appearance in Seattle. In his career at Safeco Field, Rivera is 37-for-39 in save chances, with his only blown save being a homerun that he gave up to Ichiro in 2007.

"I was looking around. It's my last one," Rivera said. "Usually, I don't do it, but today -- Seattle, I've always had good outings here, good numbers. It's special, I don't know why. We always play good here. I was soaking that in a little bit."

It was a rough day at the plate for the Yankees 3-4-5 hitters. Mark Teixeira, Vernon Wells, and Travis Hafner combined for an 0-for-11 day, with two walks and four strikeouts. All four strikeouts were by Teixeira.

"Every day, it's a different guy," Rivera said of the Yankees success. "That's what we do. It's not just one player here that we're going to rely on. We rely on nine players in the field and the rest on the bench. We're all pulling for the same reason."

The Yankees will continue their 10-game road trip with a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics that starts on Tuesday. CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon will face-off in the series opener at the O.Co Colosium. First pitch in that game is scheduled for 10:05 pm ET.

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Vintage Andy Pettitte was on display yesterday in Seattle as the 40-year old lefty tossed 7 1/3 innings of one run ball, all while only surrendering three singles to the Mariners. Today, David Phelps will take the mound for the Yankees as New York looks to win the series today in the rainy city.

This afternoon's lineup:

Gardner 8
Cano 4
Teixeira 3
Hafner DH
Wells 7
Suzuki 9
Nix 5
Brignac 6
Stewart 2
Phelps 1

Phelps (4-3, 4.15 ERA) is coming off his last a start against the Indians on Tuesday in which he pitched great, shutting out Cleveland over six inning,while permitting only one hit. After recording only one out against the Mets in his previous star, it was a big bounce back win for Phelps.

"I kind of chuckled to myself after getting the second out and said, 'All right, you're already doing better than last outing,'" Phelps said after the win over the Indians. "The whole season is going to have ups and downs, and you got to roll with them as much as you can."

Sunday will be the first start of his career against the Mariners for Phelps. He has faced Seattle before, picking up the win in 1 1/3 in relief once at Safeco Field.

Taking the mound from the other dugout will be the Mariners' ace, King Felix Hernandez (7-4, 2.58 ERA). Hernandez has already faced the Yankees this season, back in mid-May at Yankee Stadium. He had been cruising though his start before back problems forced him out of the game.

King Felix has won his last two starts and is coming off an outing in which he gave up four runs on six over 7 1/3 innings in a win against the White Sox during the past week.

"I thought he had to grind it out a bit," said manager Eric Wedge of his last outing. "He made it difficult on himself working behind sometimes, let a few pitches out of order early on. He did a nice job of reeling it back in though. I thought he did a real nice job of gathering himself and did a better job executing pitches."

Pineda makes his 1st rehab outing:

Michael Pineda made his first official rehab outing for the Single-A Tampa Yankees on Sunday. Pineda pitched well throughout the afternoon and recorded several 1-2-3 innings.

He exited the game in the 5th inning with one-out and a runner on. His final line finished as: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. I'll have more as the day progresses.

Nunez making progress:

It's been over a month since we've last seen Eduardo Nunez in game action and after another setback a few days ago, it looks like Nunez is heading in the right direction.

Dealing with an oblique injury, Nunez has now resumed rotational activity in his rehab, meaning that he'll be able to do things like being able to twist and swing bat. Again, more info on this as the day progresses.

For game coverage you can follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

On the day Pettitte win's his 250th game,
his son Josh is drafted by the Yankees.
As Andy Pettitte would tell you he hasn't pitched up to his standards lately. Allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start on Monday against the Indians, Pettitte was looking to deliver a better outing against the Mariners.

On the day his son, Josh Pettitte, was drafted by the Yankees in the MLB Draft, his father Andy tossed 7 1/3 innings of run run ball against Seattle in an effort that included picking up his 250th career victory.

"It's all tied in together now for me," Pettitte said. "It's like I can't separate them because they're both together. It just all happened right here, and the game was ending, so it's just really cool."

For the second straight night the Yankees jumped on the board in the 1st inning. This time they did it when Mark Teixeira lined a two-out double down the left field line, setting up an RBI opportunity that Robinson Cano was able to come through in, singling to right, driving home Teixeira.

Pettitte was perfect through the first three innings, then the Mariners lead off the 4th inning with a pair of singles that would later setup for a sac-fly by Michael Morse, tying up the game at one all.

The Yankees answered back with a run in the top half of the 5th inning when Ichiro walked to start the inning. Chris Stewart singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd with only one out. After Brett Gardner grounded into a force out at 2nd. Jason Nix singled into left field, plating Ichiro to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

"Nix has swung the bat really well for us," Girardi said. "It's great. That's why we put him in the two-hole against lefties, because he's done a really good job."

Nix came through o add another RBI single in the 7th inning that help pad the Yankees lead, 3-1. That lead prove to be all the runs that the Yankees would need.

"To get us that tack-on run, the third one, is extremely important," Girardi said. "We've had contributions from guys all year long. You get them from Nixy today and it's important."

Pettitte was taken out of the game with one out in the 7th after only 85 pitches. David Robertson caught himself into a little jam, but was able to pitch his way out of it.

Pettitte's would finish the game having only gave up one run on three hits, all singles, over 7 1/3 innings, while walking none and striking out six. The Mariners three hits came in only the fourth and eight innings.

"I felt like I got in a pretty good rhythm, and I felt like I was locating the ball well today," Pettitte said. "That's what I want to do; just want go out there and do my job and throw the ball well.

"It's kind of been a little bit of a grind here the last month, just not having a feel for everything, but I felt like I had a real good feel for all my pitches today and was locating them fairly well. Let's hold that right there for a while now."

Mariano River came out to pitch a scoreless 9th inning in which he struck out the side, capturing his 22nd save of the season, and locking up Pettitte's 250th career win. It was also the 71st time that Rivera saved a game that Pettitte started and won.

"That's wonderful. He pitched a tremendous game today," Rivera said. "Being able to be there for his 250th, that's special. I gave him the baseball, too. That's a great number. He has been there in tough games. He's been there for us."

Pettitte won his first career game on June 7, 1995. Eighteen years and a day later, he's Vic Willis for sole possession of 43rd place on the all-time wins list by permitting just three singles over 7 1/3 innings.

"Two-hundred and fifty wins, and a lot of postseason wins, too," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been a great Yankee, and when you talk about one of the all-time greats, that's what he has been. He has been a pleasure to play with and a pleasure to manage."

After the game Mariano was joking with Pettitte that he should stick around for a few more years so that he and his son can appear on the same roster together. Pettitte responded, "No chance."

With the win, the Yankees have won three of three games so far in this series and now have a chance to win the series on Sunday when David Phelps (4-3, 4.15 ERA) looks to raid the kings court when he squares off against King Felix Hernandez (7-4, 2.58 ERA) at 4:10 pm ET from Safeco Field.

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Hiroki Kuroda was at his best last night, allowing 4 runs and a few walks in the Yankees 4-1 loss at the hands of Jeremy Bonderman and the Mariners. Bonderman claimed his first big league win in almost three years. Andy Pettitte gets to ball this afternoon and here is the lineup backing him up at 4:10 pm ET:

This afternoon's lineup:

Gardner CF
Nix SS
Teixeira DH
Cano 2B
Wells LF
Youkilis 1B
Suzuki RF
Adams 3B
Stewart C
Pettitte P

Pettitte (4-3, 4.17 ERA) is hoping to improve on his last start in which he gave up 4 runs over 4 2/3 innings to the Indians last Monday. It was Pettitte's first start back from the DL and now he's looking for a much better outing against the Mariners.

"I feel good about the team winning, putting some runs up on the board," Pettitte said. "As far as me, personally, it's frustrating because we finally put some runs on the board and then you give the lead [away]. I'm never going to be happy about that."

The Yankees lineup hasn't been at it's best lately and it will be given the challenge of figuring out Mariners' lefty, Joe Saunders (4-5, 5.20 ERA). Saunders shut down the White Sox for one run on five hits over 6 1/3 innings in his last start.

Saunders will alos have that advantage of pitching at home on Saturday. In six starts at Safeco Field he's 4-1 with an ERA of 2.25, compared to being 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in six starts on the road.

Up now: My story on Hiroki Kuroda just going through a rough patch. Also, my column yesterday about Phil Hughes not being fit to be a Yankee.

Up later: I'll be back in the recap trail. Full game recap of today's action will be posted shortly after the final pitch is thrown at Safeco Field.

For game coverage, you can follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.
Hiroki Kuroda was suppose to be the Yankees second best starter behind CC Sabathia. Through the first six weeks of the season, Kuroda was forced to pick up the slack from Sabathia's slow start.

But as CC picks it up, it's actually Kuroda that's starting to fall off the wagon with his ERA climbing of late, to go along with losing three of his last four starts. Kuroda hasn't won a start since May 17th, so the question arises of what's going wrong?

After starting the season 6-2, Kuroda dropped last night's start in Seattle to a Mariners club he should of had success against. Giving up an uncharacteristically three walks in Friday night's game. He hadn't walked a batter since May 17th, that being a span of over 20 innings.

"His command is usually really good, but he was having a hard time with his slider tonight," Joe Girardi said.

Kuroda struggled with his command for most of the night. He fell behind in counts against a lot of the hitters. He's in a bit of a rough patch right now with just one quality start in his last four outings.

Maybe the biggest issue that he's had over his past three starts is run support. No matter how well Kuroda has pitched, the Yankees have only managed to score a total of two runs in the last three games that Kuroda has started.

At a time where the Yankees are struggling to score runs, as a starting pitcher, you have to basically go out and toss seven shutout innings to even be in a winning position. But last night's start just didn't cut it, when Jeremy Bonderman goes out and fires off six innings of one run ball.

Kuroda is only going though a rough patch. All pitchers go through one at some point in a season. And when your team is struggling to back you up with runs, it's just makes pitching much more difficult.

Up next: Andy Pettitte (4-3, 4.17) takes the mound in game three of this four game set, squaring off against Joe Saunders (4-5, 5.20), with the first pitch scheduled for 4:10 pm ET from Seattle. I'll have lineup and a pitching preview later in the day.

Question: What do you think of Kuroda going through this rough patch? Comment below.

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Friday, June 7, 2013

Phil Hughes was once a Yankees 1st round draft pick. He was expected to the future ace of the Yankees pitching staff. So far in his 7 big league season, he's shown that he has the ability to be the big man in the club house, but he hasn't given enough consistency to show he can do it.

In the midst of a contract season, Hughes has gone out in several starts and pitch like a man looking for a lot of money, and in other starts he looks like a man that might have a tough time finding a job next season.

The biggest question surrounding Phil Hughes is that maybe he's just not capable of pitching in the AL East and at Yankee Stadium.

Lifetime against the AL East, Hughes has posted a record of 20-21. So clearly he can at time have success as well as having just as much complications with pitching against the Yankees division foes.

Hughes allowed one unearned run over 7 innings on Thursday
Sure, the record doesn't exactly reflect on Hughes' true pitching abilities but I'm not doubting that the Yankees will take a good look at those numbers when deciding if they should bring him back this winter.

Something else I'm sure the Yankees should take a big look at is Hughes' stat line at home, compared to on the road.

Hughes is known as a flyball pitch and that's something that won't help you when pitching in Yankee stadium. Hughes has allowed 66 home runs in 355 2/3 innings pitched at Yankee Stadium, but only 34 in 344 innings pitched on the road.

"I think every pitcher is going to maybe give up a few more home runs in our ballpark than maybe some of the other ballparks that you go to, especially on the west coast. There just aren't as many home runs hit here," Girardi said. "I think he's the same guy (wherever he pitches)."

Well, pitching on the west coast must be what works for Hughes, as he fired off a stellar performance last night Seattle. Tossing seven plus innings, allowing only one unearned run on three hits, while striking out seven.

Watching Hughes pitch through the first few innings in Thursday night's game, I really noticed how precise he was, keeping the ball down in the zone and hitting a lot of his spots given by Romine behind the plate.

It was certainly a different Hughes than the one we've seen so often this season, and even in his last start against the Mariners in which he didn't even make it past the 1st inning.

Phil Hughes might not have turned out to be the next big pitching prospect for the Yankees, but he's still a guy with a lot of pitching ability. Although his ability doesn't give him success in his own home ballpark or against his team's division rivals, they Yankees should still look at re-signing him.

All he needs is a little work on keeping the fastball down and adapt his style to pitch in Yankee Stadium. But if he can't get that fixed, then he's just not meant to be a Yankee.

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The MLB First-Year Player Draft kicked off on Thursday and the Yankees did themselves some good by selecting three times in the 1st round, thanks to some compensations help for losing Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano. Here are all three 1st round picks:

Pick #26: Eric Jagielo, 3rd baseman, Notre Dame.

Jagielo is a 6-foot-3, left handed third baseman coming out of Notre Dame. Below is what ESPN's Draft Expert, Keith Law, had to say about him:

Jagielo is one of the more polished college bats in the class, valuable even though he doesn't have the explosive tools of Hunter Renfroe or huge raw power of Kris Bryant. Jagielo loads his hands very high and deep, creating a longer path to the ball, compensating with strong hands and forearms that allow him to make solid contact even when he has to fully extend his arms to cover the pitch low and away. He's quick enough to keep his hands inside the ball and doesn't project to have trouble with better velocity. 
In the field, he's an adequate defender at third with arm strength, agile enough to stay at the position even though he's going to be among the bigger third basemen in pro ball. I could see him as a 20-homer guy with mid-.300s OBPs who plays solid-average defense in a few years, which would make him an everyday guy who could make an All-Star Game or two.
In other words, we could be looking as the guys who replaces Alex Rodriguez. Read my column from yesterday about if we've actually seen the last of A-Rod.

Pick #32: Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State.

With their 2nd pick in the late 1st round, the Yankees went big and draft a 6-foot-7, 255 pound center fielder from Fresno State. Here's what Keith Law thinks:

"Judge is taller than any outfielder in major league history except for Frank Howard (also listed as 6-foot-7, 255 pounds on Baseball Reference), but is very athletic for a guy his size, an average runner with a surprisingly short swing given his height. 
He wraps his bat behind his head when he's finished his load, which usually adds length to the swing, but the path for his hands from there to the zone is very short; it's more of a concern that he doesn't have his top hand fully extended until the bat is most of the way through the zone. Like a lot of taller hitters who set up high, he prefers the ball up in the zone, and the huge raw power he shows in BP doesn't always appear in games because he doesn't get under the ball enough to drive it out. Judge won't play center in pro ball but is an average runner who should have above-average range in either corner, with a plus arm to handle right, along the lines of Jason Heyward's defensive profile." 
Although he's very athletic for his size, I don't see him playing in center field much longer. He could be playing in left or right by the time he reaches the big league level.

Pick #33: Ian Clarkin, LHP, High School in San Diego.

For their final 1st round pick of the night, the Yankees selected 6-foot-2, 190-pound high school lefty pitcher out of San Diego. Here's Keith Law's thoughts:

"Clarkin doesn't do it easy, but he's a good-sized lefty who throws hard and can spin a breaking ball, so even with some serious inconsistency this spring, he's likely to go off the board in the top 50 picks, maybe even late in the first round. Clarkin is typically 90-93, getting on top of the ball well for some downhill plane, and sometimes showing some two-seam tailing action as well. His curveball is hard with tight rotation, 11/5 break, and good depth, now at higher velocity than it was last summer as well. His change is still a show-me offering, which he'll have to improve to remain a starter. 
His delivery isn't prototypical, with some effort involved, a very high leg kick followed by a kick-out stride and a stiff landing. The raw material is very strong, so even with some late-season inconsistency he should be among the first few prep lefties drafted."
Here's the kicker. Clarkin hated the Yankees as a kid. How bad did he hate him? Well his clip on MLB Networks Draft show, Clarkin stated that his favorite moment was when the Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees in the 2001 world series.

 "I cannot stand the Yankees so I was actually in tears I was so happy," Clarkin said.

Of course he said that he no longer hates them and he'll try to bring his father over the Yankee Empire. Come on over! You won't regret it. Unless you dislike A-Rod, of course.

What did you think about how the Yankees drafted in the 1st round? Comment below or tell me on Twitter, @GavinEwbank2013.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Yankees finished off the previous homestand with a sweep of the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday, with a 6-4 win. CC Sabathia followed up with another fantastic start by striking out nine over the full nine innings. Now they'll hope to keep the winning trend in tact when facing an always challenging Mariners club.

Tonight's lineup:

Gardner CF
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
Hafner DH
Youkilis 3B
Wells LF
Ichiro RF
Nix SS
Romine C
Hughes P

Overbay will get the night off after starting the last three games in right field. Vernon Wells has really been struggling of late and hopes to pick up the pace in Seattle. The Yankees' hitters will be given the task of figuring out Mariners' righty, Aaron Harang (2-5, 5.82 ERA).

"You have to find a way to get back into the groove again," said Harang. "It definitely plays a big part in your confidence level and the feel you have out there on the mound. That can take a toll on you. Now we're back into a rhythm, and it seems like all the guys are going out there trying to feed off each other every night and one-up each other, and that's how you've got to play it. It's going to take you deep into games and give your bullpen a rest."

Joe Girardi will be calling on Phil Hughes (2-4, 5.37 ERA) tonight to help continue the Yankees' streak. Hughes will look to avenge a horrific start he had last time he faced Seattle, when he tagged for seven runs on six hits and two walks while recording just two outs in a May 15 start against the M's.

"Hopefully, this is a 1-in-100 type thing," Hughes said after last month's start against Seattle. "I remember I've had bad nights where I'd get 12 outs or something, but I don't think I can remember having an outing like this before. It's tough to swallow, but it happens to everybody. No one's going to feel sorry for you."

Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.
A few days ago, the news broke that Major League Baseball is looking to suspending the Yankees rehabbing third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, for possibly 100 games. When I first heard of this, I thought that we might never see A-Rod in pinstripes again.

Earlier in the year, when the story broke that Rodriguez needed hip surgery and his recovery time may not have prohibited him from even returning this season, I speculated if you had seen the last of Alex Rodriguez as the starting 3rd baseman for the New York Yankees.

Now I'm starting to get the feeling that we actually might never see him again.

At the moment, the Yankees already have much more liable options at the third base position. Kevin Youkilis for at least this year gives the Yankees a better defensive option, as well as with the bat. Although his plate production hasn't been great since coming off the DL, Youkilis was one of the Yankees better hitters before suffering a back injury in April.

If Youkilis isn't a Yankee when 2014 rolls around that's fine. The Yankees have other options, including rookie David Adams, who's performance on defense and at the plate have been very exceptional since his call-up in mid-May.

When the Yankees gave A-Rod a massive 10-year, $275 million contract in 2007, many believed that the Yankees lost their minds. In 2007, A-Rod put together a season that shut up a lot of critics, but postseason success never carried over and that's what killed A-Rod overall in New York.

If you've ever wanted to know how to get New York sports fans to hate you, having you name related to using steroids is a good way to start. When A-Rod's names came up in the 2007 Mitchell report, his image became quickly taunted.

Now being related to steroids/HGH for the 2nd time in this career with the Biogenesis scandal sweeping the baseball world, fans now have more reason's than ever the call Rodriguez a cheater, a liar, and a fraud.

Of course we all know that there's no way the Yankees can void their contract with A-Rod. Not many, if any, teams would even take the chance on a declining third baseman, who's owed a lot of money and is coming off a 2nd hip surgery.

A-rod is still owed over $80 million over the last four years of his contract. I read a column on that suggested the Yankees should just buy him out and let him go. Not a bad idea. But would the Yankees consider it?

If Hal Steinbrenner was disappointed in A-Rod before, I can't imagine how he must feel now, knowing that he's bringing shame to the Yankee name. He's becoming a distraction to the team and this whole thing is just getting started.

I really don't care if we never see Alex Rodriguez play in a Yankee uniform ever again. As of now, we have another four years of this A-Rod circus the media loves so much.

If the last thing we'll see from Alex Rodriguez as a Yankee is a ground out to the shortstop in game four of the American League Championship Series. Then all I have to say is: Good riddance, A-Rod.

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Rodriguez issues a statement:

Alex Rodriguez is still in Tampa rehabbing his surgically repaired hip, and mentioned on Thursday that he's not ready to discuss his connections with the South Miami Biogenesis clinic and the ongoing performance-enhancing drug scandal in Major League Baseball.

A-Rod on Thursday released this statement:

"Myself and others are being mentioned in a media report before the process is even concluded. I would hope this thing would follow the guidelines of our Basic Agreement. I will monitor the situation and comment when appropriate. As I have said previously, I am working out every day to get back on the field and help the Yankees win a championship. I am down here doing my job and working hard and will continue to do so until I'm back playing."

Rodriguez is just one of the suspected 20 players that Major League Baseball is looking at suspending for their involvement with Biogenesis founder and the man at the heart of this ongoing scandal, Tony Bosch.

The New York Daily News reported on Wednesday that Rodriguez denied to give Bosch financial assistance to help in his lawsuit that was filed against him in March by MLB.

"A-Rod refused to pay him what he wanted," a source told the Daily News. "Baseball was worried about that."

Apparently A-Rod denied Bosch the request of hundreds of thousands of dollars. After Rodriguez said no to his over whelming request, Bosch went to MLB and began to cooperate. Because of his cooperation, MLB will drop their lawsuit against Bosch.

Jeter to have his ankle examined:

Derek Jeter will have a CT scan on his injured left ankle and will be examined by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C. Jeter says he hopes to be cleared to increase his baseball activities.

"Can't do anything different until I see the doctor, so absolutely no news," Jeter said. "I wish I could do more, but I can't until I go to the doctor."

Jeter had been working out at Yankee Stadium in New York, but moved his rehab program to Tampa on Thursday, to resume his recovery at the Yankees' minor league complex.

Yanks have a trio of 1st round picks:

It's draft day in the MLB, months of player scouting and evaluating are finally ready to payoff. The Yankees will have three picks in the 1st round (26th, 32nd, 33rd).

Yankees GM Brain Cashman said that the team always drafts the best players at their position and not what the team needs. He said that will be the teams plan for this year as well.

The Yankees haven't really produced a star since drafting Derek Jeter in 1992. Since then they've draft players such as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, David Phelps, and many more.

Here is a list of every player the Yankees have used their 1st pick on, since 2000. This year, their 1st selection will be the 26th pick.

2000: David Parish, C, University of Michigan, No. 29
2001: John-Ford Griffen, OF, Florida State University, No. 23
2001: Bronson Sardinha, SS, Kamehameha HS (Honolulu, Hawaii), No. 34
2001: Jon Skaggs, P, Rice University, 42
2002: No Pick
2003: Eric Duncan, 3B, Seton Hall Prep (West Orange, NJ), No. 27
2004: Phil Hughes, P, Foothill HS (Santa Ana, Calif.), No. 23
2004: Johathan Poterson, C, Chandler HS (Chandler, Ariz.), No. 37
2004: Jeff Marquez, P, Sacramento City College (Sacramento, Calif.), No. 41
2005: CJ Henry, SS, Putnam City HS (Oklahoma City), No. 17
2006: Ian Kennedy, P, USC, No. 21
2006: Joba Chamberlain, P, University of Nebraska, No. 41
2007: Andrew Brackman, P, North Carolina State University, No. 30
2008: *** Gerrit Cole, P, Orange Lutheran High School (Orange, Calif.), No. 28
2008: Jeremy Bleich, P, Stanford University, No. 44
2009: Slade Heathcott, OF, Texas High School (Texarkana, Texas), No. 29
2010: Cito Culver, SS, West Irondequoit High School (Irondequoit, New York), No. 32
2011: Dante Bichette, Jr., 3B, Orangewood Christian High School (Maitland, Fla.), No. 51
2012: Ty Hensley, P, Santa Fe High School (Edmond, Oklahoma), No. 30

***Did not sign. (This list came from ESPN New York, Yankees Blog)

For draft coverage and more on A-Rod, follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Yankees current homestand may not have been going great before the Indians came to town. Being swept by the Mets and losing two of three against Boston, the Yankees took advantage of having the Indians in town knowing how much they've beat up on Cleveland this season.

CC Sabathia took the mound for the Yankees looking to build on best start of the season against the Red Sox last Friday. Sabathia did just that, pitching a complete game against the Indians and striking out nine in the Yankees 6-4 win.

The Yankees jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the 1st inning after Cano rolled into 2nd when he lined a ball that hit off the glove of Michael Bourn in center field. Travis Hafner came up a couple batters later and launched a two-run homerun into the second deck of Yankee Stadium.

Brett Gardner added three more runs off of Cleveland's starter, Corey Kluber, in the 2nd. Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix both collected base hits, then Chris Stewart singled to left, bringing home Overbay. Gardner followed with a three-run homerun well over the right field wall.

New York's offense quieted down after the 1st two innings, letting CC do his thing. Sabathia held the Indians scoreless through the first five innings, and had a perfect game going through 4.2 innings before Mike Aviles blooped a single in front of Vernon Wells in left field.

In the 6th, Cleveland broke through with a couple a runs when a couple of singles were followed up by a Jason Kipnis singled that brought home Drew Stubbs. Nick Swisher followed by grounding into a fielders choice that scored Michael Bourn, making a 6-2 game.

Cleveland tightened up the game in the 7th inning when Michael Brantley singled on a soft line drive to right field. Yan Gomes followed with a two-run homerun to left field for his 6th of the year, cutting the Yankees lead to 6-4. But that would be all the Tribe could manage.

CC gave it everything he had to finish off the Indians in the 8th and 9th innings, to capture his 1st complete game of the season. Sabathia went 9 innings, allowing 4 runs on 7 hits, while walking one and striking out 9 on 116 for 84 strikes.

The Yankees will now get on a plane and head out on their west coast road trip, in which they'll be visiting the Mariners, Athletics, and Angels. Phil Hughes gets the start in Thursday's game in Seattle. First picth is scheduled for 10:05 pm ET.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

David Phelps' last outing against the New York Mets is one that any starting pitcher would like to forget. The Mets drew a five-spot on the board, chasing Phelps from the game after recording only one out.

Now he'll try to regain form facing a team that he's already pitched well against this season, the Cleveland Indians.Phelps allowed one run over 6.2 innings in a start against the Indians back in May.

Tonight's lineup:

Suzuki CF
Nix SS
Teixeira 1B
Cano DH
Wells LF
Youkilis 3B
Adams 2B
Overbay RF
Stewart C
Phelps P

This Yankees lineup will be given the challenge of facing a rather familiar AL East foe, in  lefty Scott Kazmir (3-2, 5.13), formerly of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Many have speculated that this could be big start for Phelps. Should take the mound and pitch poorly once again, it wouldn't be hard to see the Yankees then giving Ivan Nova another crack at the starting job.

Nunez suffers another setback:

We're coming up on a month since Eduardo Nunez went down with some issues in his rib area. He's suffered  a few setback along the way that he kept him from returning. Nunez suffered another setback on Tuesday while trying to swing a bat, and definitely doesn't fell ready according to Girardi.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that Nunez will be taken to undergo an MRI and as a of right now there is no timetable when when we could possibly see Nunie back on the field.

In his absence the Yankees have work a few guys at Jeter's old stomping ground but Jayson Nix has been playing the most at short and is playing fairly well in Nunez's place.

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When the Yankees singed Lyle Overbay just days before departing Florida from to embark on their journey into the regular season, who would have thought that on June 4th Overbay would mean so much to the Yankees?

Not many people thought that Overbay would even be on the team when June rolled around. He was suppose to be the fill-in for the regularly starting 1st baseman, Mark Teixeira, while he recovered from a wrist tendon injury.

Overbay makes his 1st catch as the Yankees right-fielder.
Teixeira expected to be back in the Bronx no later than May 1st. When he returned everyone would have guessed that Overbay wouldn't be around much longer.

But Overbay shined brighter in the Bronx than anyone would have expected. His play at the plate filled in for Teixeira more than would have thought.

He created a dilemma that a lot of teams would love to have. With his performance level so high that even the great Teixeira couldn't have looked like a better option when factoring in his historically slow starts.

One of the biggest questions surrounding the return of Mark Teixeira didn't even involve Teixeira. Many questioned how you could take away at-bats from a guys that had been hitting so well all season.

You couldn't DH him regularly because you already had Travis Hafner and he, too, was playing well. Obviously you'd never play Overbay over Teixeira because of, well, a lot of reasons. Defensive abilities, more power threat, bigger contract just to name a few.

Overbay doesn't play any other position, leaving the Yankees without any other options. So they decided to play Overbay in a position that he's never before played in his 13-year big league career. They put him in the outfield.

Joe Girardi and the Yankees wanted Lyle Overbay in their lineup so bad that they played him in a position that he hasn't played since his early minor league days.

I'm not saying at all that I disagree with this move. I love that idea to get Overbay into the lineup anyway you can. If you have to play him out of position, that's fine. The outfield isn't the hardest place to play. Especially in Yankee Stadium, where the outfield isn't very spacious.

The Yankees optioned Brennan Boesch, an outfielder, and played Overbay in the outfield instead because his ability at the plate overcomes any other challenge he may face in right field.

And for Overbay, he doesn't mind the move at all. "If it gets me in the lineup, absolutely." He's a team player and that's one of the reasons I like Overbay and I've been rooting for him since day one.

Some players hate the idea of moving positions and would rather just switch teams. But Overbay loves winning and he loves playing for the Yankees. So a silly little position switch isn't going to change things.

Lyle Overbay is a player that at this point in the season many teams would want to have. And any team that didn't give him a chance before, is just plain senseless.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Andy Pettitte's first start off the DL might not have gone the way he had hoped it would go. But thanks to the help of a Mark Teixeira grand slam and a two-run Brett Gardner single, the Yankee were able to make up for Pettitte's sluggish start and defeat the Indians, 7-4, Monday night at the Stadium.

Scoreless though the first two innings, the Indians started off the 3rd inning with a couple of soft singles from Michael Bourn and Mike Aviles, followed by an Asdrubal Cabrera sac-bunt.

Next batter Nick Swisher grounded a ball over to David Adams at 3rd base. He applied to tag to Aviles coming into 3rd, letting Bourn score on the fielders-choice.

The Yankees jumped right back in the bottom of the inning when Reid Brignac and Austin Romine singled to start things off, then Brett Gardner walked to load the bases. Robbie Cano grounded into an out at home for the 1st out of the inning.

Next batter Mark Teixeira took a 1st pitch sinker and lined over the right field wall the give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. It was Teixeira's 1st homerun of the season and 8th career grand slam.

"You wanted to make sure you didn't let Masterson get in too much of a groove, because he's one of those guys who can go out there and dominate," Teixeira said. "So [the grand slam] was a big home run for us."

Pettitte was pitching fairly well though the first 4 innings before running into trouble in the 5th. A double and a single put runners on the corners to lead things off, then a shallow sac-fly into center field caught by a retreating Cano, allowed the speedy Drew Stubbs to score from 3rd.

Asdrubal Cabrera grounded into a fielders-choice for the 2nd out, but then Pettitte walked the next two hitters to load the bases. After a string of 10 straight balls, Pettitte worked a full-count on Carlos Santana, who ripped a grounder that bounced off David Adams glove and into the stands allowing two runs to score.

Pettitte would be removed from the game after the two-run double, only finishing 4.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits while walking 3 and striking out 3.

The Yankees reclaimed the lead in the 6th inning when Brett Gardner singled up the middle on a ball that would let Ichiro and Romine come around the score and give the Yankees a 6-4 lead. Travis Hafner added another run in the 7th with a towering solo homerun to right field for his 9th of the season.

After relieving Pettitte in the 5th inning, the Yankees bullpen come out for another shutdown night. With Shawn Kelley, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and Mariano River combining for 4.1 innings, with only one hit coming off Rivera in the 9th.

"The bullpen's been the bullpen," catcher Austin Romine said. "Those are guys we can rely on. It's not just one or two guys; it's all of them. They come in, they put the fire out when they need to, they throw strikes and they get people out."

Coming into the game the Yankees had lost 7 of their last 8 games and trailed the Red Sox by three games in the AL East.

"We needed this win," Teixeira said. "We've had a rough enough streak the last week and a half, two weeks, as it is, so we needed this one tonight. So that grand slam was just good for me and good for the team."

Game two of this serieswill get underway at 7:05 pm ET with David Phelps (3-3, 4.65 ERA) facing off against Scott Kazmir (3-2, 5.13 ERA) from Yankee Stadium.

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Speaking at a press conference to announce Yankee Stadium's new long-term deal to host college football's Pinstripe Bowl, Hal Steinbrenner was asked about Brain Cashman's comments to ESPN's Buster Onley that A-Rod "probably...couldn't live up to" the large 10-year, $275 million contract he signed in 2007.

Though Steinbrenner hasn't herd any of Cashman's comments, he still has his own things to say in front of reporters.

"That may be true. It's a big contract," Steinbrenner said. "That's a philosophical argument, I guess. It's a big contract. We all hope he's going to act like a Yankee and do the best he can to live up to it. How about that?"

Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner
Well, over the past few season A-Rod has done anything but act like a Yankee. His injuries have kept him off the field, his on field performance has been well below expectations, and his off the field activities has him linked to a south Miami Biogenesis clinic.

There's no doubt that Rodriguez's numbers have steadily declined over the years since signing his long tenured deal with the Yankees. Averaging 17 home runs and 60 RBIs while batting .275 over the past two season isn't exactly what the Yankees have wanted.

"There have no doubt been times that we've been disappointed in him and we've conveyed that to him," Steinbrenner said. "He understands that. Look, everybody is human. Everybody makes mistakes. If you've got a guy over the course of 10 years, there are going to be times any of us makes mistakes in that period of time."

A-Rods brightest (though they weren't very bright) moment's with the Yankees have come in small packages. His MVP season in 2007 began his 10-year stay off right. His 2009 play-off performance finally broke his postseason curse. But Yankees fans will only know him as the guy you can no longer trust in the big moments.

As he continues his rehabbing in Tampa, A-Rod is expected to return sometime after the all-star break, if at all, on a date we don't know when to expect. When he does, the Yankees will be banking on a lot in hopes he can return to the above average 3rd baseman he was before the injury.

"We'll see. We'll find out when he comes back." Steinbrenner said. "I know he's been working hard to come back. He knows what it means to be a Yankee. He knows what we expect of him and he knows what his teammates expect of him."

Over the years I've come to expect less from A-Rod. After every injury I expect even less. But now after two hip surgeries just years apart, I don't expect A-Rod will, or should, play as the Yankees everyday 3rd baseman, and I certainly don't expect him to be anywhere near the homerun threat he once was.

Hips are a difficult injury to come back from. It's especially difficult to comeback for a hitter who's had surgery on both hips in a span of a couple years. I didn't expect much from A-Rod before. Why can should I expect anything different now?

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Tonight's lineup:

Gardner CF
Cano 2B
Teixeira 1B
Hafner DH
Overbay RF
Ichiro LF
Adams 3B
Brignac SS
Romine C

Pettitte P

Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.83) makes his return from the DL against an Indians team that has been playing very well this season and can score a lot of runs. Opposing Pettitte on the mound will be Cleveland's ace, Justin Masterson (8-3, 3.07).

*Lyle Overbay will be playing in the outfield for the first time in his major league career. Overbay played a few games in the outfield while in the minors, but never in the majors. "I don't expect him to win a god glove out there." Said manager Joe Girardi.

*Brennan Boesch was sent down to AAA-Scranton prior to the game in order to make room for Pettitte on the Yankees 25-man roster.

*Chris Stewart was taken to the hospital again today after leaving Saturday night's game and being scratched from Sunday night's lineup with dehydration-like symptoms. Girardi said that all the tests came back clean.
Pettitte will return from the DL on Monday.
Home-field advantage hasn't exactly gone the Yankees way over the past seven games. After being swept by the Mets, the Red Sox came to town to win two of their three games in the Bronx. Now the Yankees will try to get back in stride facing a team they've already had success against this season, the Cleveland Indians.

The Yankees are 3-1 against the Indians this season and the last time these two teams met was for a makeup doubleheader in which both teams split back on May 13th.

Nick Swisher will be making his first trip back to the Bronx since signing a four-year, $54 million deal with the Indians in December. Swisher was an absolute fan favorite with Yankees fans, but his poor postseason play was what eventually caused the Yankees to not bring him back.

Andy Pettitte will be activated from the DL on Monday and will get the start for the 1st time since May 16th when he left against the Mariners with tightness in his left trapezius muscle.

"Obviously I know we haven't been playing as well as we were, but I want to do well," Pettitte said. "I want to go out there and do my job and give us a chance. I hope I give us a quality start. I've got as much incentive every time I go out there as I do no matter what situation we're in. I just want to go out there and get going again and get on a good roll."

Before going on the disabled list, Pettitte was 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA and 39 strikeouts in eight starts and in 22 career starts against the Indians, he's posted a 9-8 record, with a 4.02 ERA.

In order to bring Pettitte back on to the roster, the Yankees will have send send down one player. That player is currently unknown, and could be possibly be David Adams, Lyle Overbay, Brennan Boesch, or another pitcher.

Offensive woes continue:

The Yankees have lost 7 of their last 8 games and have only scored a total of 12 runs in those games. Offense has been a major issue for the Bombers over the past week.

They're 11th in the American League in runs scored (223) and 12th in team batting average (.246). The Yankees have also gone 20 consecutive innings without an extra-base hit.

Over the past 8 games, Travis Hafner is 1-for-17 and Vernon Wells is 3-for-26 after getting off to a hot start. Since returning from the DL, Mark Teixeira is 1-for-9 with 7 strikeouts and Kevin Youkilis is 1-for-9.

"I think that’s part of baseball," Said Travis Hafner. "You’ll have ups and downs throughout the year. But there’s just too much talent here, and it’s only a matter of time before things get rolling again."

Stewart taken to the hospital:

Chris Stewart was taken to the hospital prior to Sunday night's game against Boston after experiencing dehydration like symptoms. The Yankees don't believe it to be much but Stewart will return to the hospital for further evaluations on Monday.

Stewart was also taken out of Saturday night's 11-1 loss at the hands of the Red Sox, after suffering from dehydration. He was in Sundays lineup, but was scratched after being more symptoms during batting practice.

Should Stewart need to go on the DL, Bobby Wilson would be called up from AAA-Scranton but he would also need a roster spot cleared for him on the 40-man roster.

Probable starters:

Mon: Pettitte (4-3, 3.83 ERA) vs Masterson (8-3, 3.07 ERA)
Tues: Phelps (3-3, 4.65 ERA) vs Kazmir (3-2, 5.13 ERA)
Wed: Sabathia (5-4, 3.71 ERA) vs Kluber (3-3, 4.36 ERA)

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