Saturday, August 31, 2013

As the New York Yankees attempt to make a run at the postseason, they've needed their starting pitchers to set up, as guys like CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda has been doing to opposite of helping the Yanks win games lately.

Coming off Friday night's 8-5 win, all they needed was another good effort from Ivan Nova to help sling them by the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card standings.

They got everything they could have asked for and more from Nova, as he pitched one of his best outings of the year, tossing a complete game, three-hit shutout, the first of his career, in the Yankees 2-0 victory over the O's Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

"Unbelievable. It's unbelievable," Nova said. "I feel really good, because I'm giving my team a chance to win every time I go out there."

If you're a fan of offense, then this game wasn't for you, as both teams didn't have much to do with the bats, because of great pitching by both Nova and Baltimore's starter Scott Feldman.

With only two runs being scored in the game, it was a pitchers duel all the way. And the only player doing the damage on offense with the Yankees all-star second baseman, Robinson Cano. Cano put the Yanks on the board in the first with an RBI double to right field.

Then it wasn't until later in the game, with the Yankees still holding a 1-0 lead, needing insurance runs badly, Cano launched a solo homerun to right field, his 25th of the season, to put the Yanks up 2-0 in the 8th. As the calendar turns to September, Cano will be leaving behind his .370 August batting average.

"You could see early in the season everything was away and they made me chase pitches," Cano said. "Now it's a big difference. [Alfonso] Soriano has, what, 12 home runs and [35] RBIs [as a Yankee]? That's the last guy you want to face."

While it might not have seemed like much, two runs of support was all Nova needed, giving up just two hits, while walking only one and striking out five O's hitters. He was dominating from the start, putting hitters away with ease all afternoon long.

"He has a power curve. Didn't make many mistakes up with it at all. Stayed in the strike zone a long time, then left the strike zone," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's very easy to sit in the dugout or the stands and say, 'Why aren't we doing [more]?' The guy's got a 2.9-something ERA in the American League East. It's impressive."

Entering the 9th inning with 89 pitches, Nate McLouth opened the inning with an infield single off Nova's glove, but he was able to bound back and retire the next three hitters -- Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones -- to finish off the victory.

One of the closest call in the game with Davis' flyout to right-field in the 9th. Davis, the Major League's homerun leader, lifted a flyball to the warning track in right. As Ichiro went back for the ball, he forced the entire stadium to hold it's breath as he made it seems like the ball was going to get out.

"Anytime a guy gets a ball in the air, you always hold your breath. Especially here, in that part of the park, anything can go out," catcher Chris Stewart said. "He didn't get enough of it, the ball stayed in the yard, and that's a big play for us."

When asked after the game if he knew that he was going to catch Davis' flyball, Ichiro responded in English, saying, "Absolutely."

"I was just having fun," Ichiro said. "The result is the most important. If you look like you're going to get it and it goes over the fence, obviously the fans wouldn't be excited about it. But if the fans thought 'Oh, no,' then you make the play -- humans want to come from a bad place to a good place."

With the win, the Yankees move ahead of the Orioles in the Wild Card standings, trailing now only the Tampa Bay Rays and the Oakland Athletics for the moment, sitting four-games behind Tampa with still 27 games left to play.

Needing to go 23-9 over their last 29 games this season entering Friday night, the New York Yankees walked away with the first of 23 wins, taking down the Baltimore Orioles 8-5 Friday night in the Bronx.

CC Sabathia was perfect through three, but that all went out the window in the 4th, when his night started to go south, like so many others have this season. Backed by a five-run 5th inning, Sabathia was still able to walk away with the victory.

Mark Reynolds, Ichiro, Robinson Cano and Alfonso Soriano came up big for the Yankees. Soriano launched his 12th homerun since joining the Yankees, Ichiro also jacked a two-run homerun in the 5th to put them ahead 5-4. Then later in the inning, Cano singled home a pair of runs, making it a 7-4 game.

With the win, the Yanks gained a game on the Orioles, and now sit just a half a game back in the wild card standings. Should the Yanks pull off another win today, they would move past Baltimore in the standings.

Updated Lineup vs Baltimore:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano DH
Granderson LF
Reynolds 3B
Ichiro RF
Overbay 1B
Stewart C
Nova P

A-Rod was scratched because of flu-like symptoms. Mark Reynolds was moved from first to third base, and Lyle Overbay was inserted into the lineup at first base.

Pitching Preview:

As mentioned above, Sabathia was rolling along through three innings, before unraveling for five runs on seven hits in 5 1/3. He continued to show reason why you shouldn't believe in the Yanks playoff hopes, as the top starters continue to struggle.

Apart from Sabathia, and lately Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova has been one of the Yankees top most consistent starters over since the start of July. Nova has tossed at least six innings in nine consecutive starts, and he's been able to hold opponents to three earned runs or fewer eight times in that span.

Unlike Sabathia and Phil Hughes, and, again, lately Kuroda, Nova hasn't been prone to giving up the longball this season, having given up just five up to this point. He'll be taking the mound against the Orioles, who he's faced ten time before in his career, posting a 4-2 record with a 4.95 ERA in those 10 appearances.

Taking the mound against Nova and the Yankees is Orioles right-hander Scott Feldman, who the team acquired weeks before the July 31st trading deadline. Feldman will be making his 10th start while with the O's, having 4-3 record and a 4.56 ERA in the first nine starts.

Friday, August 30, 2013

This is it. Crunch time. Do or die. The New York Yankees only have a month left in the season to secure a playoff spot, and tonight in the Bronx, they open up a big, must win, three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles, one of the teams they're trying to chase down in the Wild Card standings.

The Yankees are returning home after a six-game road trip that the Yanks weren't very successful on, going 2-4 in Tampa and Toronto. Coming off a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays last weeks, the Yanks traveled to Tampa and left Florida with only one victory in three games.

Then they headed north of the board, where Derek Jeter rejoined the team, but he still was able to carry the Yankees over a bad loss in Wednesday's series final, dropping two of the three games at the Rogers Center.

But now the Bombers are back to the coziness of their own beds, and back playing in their own home ballpark, and are ready to kick off this 10-game home-stand, starting tonight with the Orioles.

Tonight's Lineup vs Toronto:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson DH
Reynolds 1B
Suzuki RF
Romine C
Sabathia LHP

Robinson Cano is back in the Yankees lineup after taking a fastball of his left hand in Tuesday's win over the Blue Jays. If Cano doesn't feel good to go after taking batting-practice, then there's a likely chance he could be scratched from the lineup.

Pitching Preview:

In order for the Yankees to even have a chance to make the playoffs, the starting pitching needs to step up, and that means CC Sabathia. The big left-hander is having one of the worst up and down seasons of his career, as he just hasn't been able to roll off a string of quality starts.

CC's most recent outing was looking to be one of his best for a while, holding the Tampa Bay Rays scoreless through the first five innings before giving up three-runs in the six innings, taking the loss while also striking out seven over 6 1/3 innings.

After the outing, Sabathia described his season as "one big inning" that he hasn't been able to escape. Add, "I feel like I can't stop the bleeding," Sabathia said, "If something gets going, it's hard for me to make a pitch."

Time is running out for CC to turn things around and to stop the bleeding if he and the Yankees ever want to play at least a game this October.

Sabathia is facing the O's for the third time this season, and he gave up four runs in each of the first two outings. Since the second half of the season began, CC has only pitched at least seven innings one time, while his ERA stands at 7.30 in seven starts over that span.

Facing Sabathia and the Yankees of Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who enters play with a 8-6 record and a 3.77 ERA. Gonzalez is 0-1 against the Yankees this season, but he's posted a 2.25 ERA in two starts in the Bronx.

Gonzalez is returning to the Orioles rotation after appearing in a pair of game for Baltimore as a reliever, tossing a combined 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

"He's just pitched well. It's some games that he's had some command of his fastball and offspeed pitches," O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Pitchers and players are creatures of memory. That's why the first thing I always look at before a series is how guys do in a certain ballpark. There are certain things that don't waver a whole lot. Miguel will be challenged tomorrow. They've got a lot of their people back and they're playing well."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A night after blowing out the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1, the Yankees sent Hiroki Kuroda to mound looking to capture a series victory without Robinson Cano, who is day to day with a bruise left hand.

Kuroda continued his string of poor outings on the mound, giving up a season-high seven runs on nine hits, losing to the Blue Jays 7-2 Wednesday night at the Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada.

"It feels like, against the hitters, they're getting good timing off me," Kuroda said through his interpreter. "And it feels like that's happening quite a lot."

Of his last three shaky outings, this was probably the worst of the trio, as Kuroda just didn't have any edge on the Jays hitter, getting hit hard on seeming every swing. He just wasn't overpower hitters like we're use to seeing him.

All of the damage against Kuroda came in the first three innings of the game, with four of the seven runs coming in the first inning. A night after the Yankees put up four-runs on the first off J.A. Happ, the Jays didn't hesitate to do the same to Kuroda, putting the first two runs up on a two-run double by the hot-hitting Brett Lawrie, then two more on a dropped-third-strike to JP Arencibia, leading to a throwing error to first base.

"I called a slider, but he threw a fastball," Stewart said. "I expected it to break down and away, but it kept straight and hit off my glove. I tried to force the issue after that. I probably should have just eaten the ball and gone on to the next hitter. Unfortunately, I hit [Arencibia] in the back, and two runs come around to score."

An inning later, in the second, Edwin Encarnacion jacked a long two-run homerun to deep left field off Kuroda, extending the Blue Jays' lead to 6-0. Jose Reyes added the extra-point in the 3rd to give the Jays a 7-0 lead.

Kuroda's night was finished after the 5th inning, having tossed 99 pitches, while walking one and striking out four. His poor performance is something to be worried about, but I can expect him fixing it fairly quickly.

"It could be mechanics," Stewart said. "It could be that it's late in the year, his body could be getting tired, he's not able to physically repeat what he was doing early on in the year. He could be getting more conscious of it now. We can go to the tape, take a look at what he was doing, and hopefully correct it before his next outing."

The Yankees didn't go down quietly on the night, putting up a pair of runs in the top of the 4th on an RBI single to left field by Alex Rodriguez, then a RBI double by Mark Reynolds -- starting at second base in place of Eduardo Nunez, who was scratched before the game because of his right knee.

If there's any bright side to look at from the pitching side of things, Joba Chamberlain entered the game in the bottom of the 6th and tossed two scoreless innings without allowing a hit in one of his best relief appearances of the season.

Next up for the Yankees, an off-day on Thursday, then it's back to the grind on Friday when they open up a three-game, must win series in the Bronx against the Baltimore Orioles.

"We need to win games, and we need to win series," Girardi said. "We need to have a really good homestand. We've got 29 games left, and we're home for 10 games. We're playing some teams in our division. We need to have a really good homestand."

The New York Yankees came as close to having their season end as possible last night when all-star second baseman Robinson Cano took a J.A. Happ fastball of his left hand, forcing him to come out of the game and undergo x-rays that, thankfully, came back negative.

As of now, the Yankees are listing Cano as day to day. The Yanks have an off-day Thursday and will open up a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles Friday night in the Bronx -- when Cano believes he'll be ready to play.

And as if the Yankees didn't have enough to worry about with Cano's situation, Eduardo Nunez twisted his right knee in the 8th inning of Tuesday night's 7-1 victory. He originally stayed in the game, but was lifted for a pinch-runner in the 9th after singling to center field to leadoff the inning.

Nunez was replaced in the field by Mark Reynolds, who hit a solo homerun in the game, playing second base for the second time in his professional career, and should Nunez not be good to go for Wednesday's game, Reynolds might get a chance to play second base for the third time in his career.

Updated Lineup vs Toronto:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Granderson DH,
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Overbay 1B
Reynolds 2B
Suzuki RF
Stewart C
Kuroda RHP

Nunez was scratched from the lineup, likely because of his knee. He was seen walking off the field and back into the clubhouse during BP. Mark Reynolds will now get the start at second base.

Pitching Preview:

Andy Pettitte was dominant Tuesday night, tossing seven shutout innings, giving up just five hits to the Blue Jays, and now it's Hiroki Kuroda's turn to take a shot at the struggling Jays lineup.

Kuroda has undoubtedly been the ace of the Yankees' pitching staff this season, but recently ran into some trouble in his last start, being tagged for a season-high seven runs, including four homeruns. Coming in, Kuroda hadn't given up a home run in 56 innings, but served up four in six innings at Tropicana Field.

Facing off with Kuroda on the mound for the Blue Jays will be right-hander Todd Redmond, who enters with a 1-2 record and 4.44 ERA this season.

Redmond is averaging less than five innings per start in his eight outings with the team, but only gave up three runs or fewer in each of his first seven outings in with Toronto.

But Redmond fell apart in his last start, shelling out seven-runs in only 3 1/3 innings against the Houston Astros last Friday night. Redmond will be making his first career start against the Yankees.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Let me start this recap off by saying this: three major events happened in this game -- two were good for the New York Yankees, and one was almost season altering.

Even after Robinson Cano was forced to leave the game in the first inning after taking fastball from J.A. Happ off his left hand, the Yankees still went on to blowout the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1, Tuesday night at the Rogers Center.

After Brett Gardner lead off the game with a double to right field, he advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI single by Derek Jeter , who was playing in his second game since coming off the DL.

Immediately after, Cano was hit by a 2-2 fastball from Happ -- the same pitcher that fractured Curtis Granderson's forearm in Spring Training -- and after a lengthy discussion, he stayed in the game, but packed his things and left after Alfonso Soriano jacked a three-runs homerun of Happ, making a 4-0 game in the 1st.

The Yankees originally announced that Cano had been taken to the hospital with a left hand contusion, then finally gave up the x-ray results, saying that everything came back negative, and Cano is listed as day to day.

"I was [scared] right away -- I was hurt," Cano said. "I was pretty concerned. [First-base coach] Mick [Kelleher] asked me at first base if I thought it was broken; it was close to the bone. Maybe it missed the bone by an inch. Thank God it was nothing worse."

Later in the third, Soriano was back at it again, blasting a solo homerun to left field off Happ -- his second homerun of the game, and the 400th of his career -- extending the Yankees' lead to 5-0.

"It's good," Soriano said. "When I retire, I can think about what I did in the game. I'm very proud. The talent that I've got, God gave it to me. I never think I'm going to hit 400 homers in the big leagues with my size, but I think I work hard and try to get better every day. That's what I've got."

Then Mark Reynolds and Alex Rodriguez decided to join in and continue the right-handed homerun trend, with each launching solo homeruns off Esmil Rogers, putting the Yanks up 7-0. A-Rod's bomb his 4th this season and No. 651 for his career.

The Yankees put seven runs on the board in support of Andy Pettitte, who was making his second straight start against the Blue Jays. Pettitte was at his best from the start, setting down the first six batters he faced before giving up a leadoff single to open the 3rd inning.

Pettitte tossed seven scoreless inning, permitting just five hits, while walking two and striking out three on 86 pitches. This outing was easily his best in quite some time. Obviously the Jays are not a very good baseball team, but Pettitte did a great job dominating, picking up his 10th win of the season.

"He was really good," manager Joe Girardi said. "He went through the lineup with not too many pitches the first time. He got some big outs when he had to. I thought he was sharp."

Adam Warren finished up the game, giving up one run on five hits in two inning, closing out the 9th inning to seal up the Yanks 7-1 victory. The win is their 13th against the Jays this season.

"We need these wins like oxygen," Rodriguez said. "One thing this team is going to do is leave it all out there for the next 30, 31 days; maximum effort."

As if the Yankees hadn't gone through enough with the Cano situation, they suffered another scare in the 8th inning when Eduardo Nunez when down going after a ground ball up the middle. His cleat appeared to get stuck on the Astro Turf, as he went down twisting his ankle.

After testing out the ankle for a few minutes, Nunez decided that he was good enough to stay in the game. He came up to bat in the 9th and lead-off with a single to center field. Eventually, Girardi decided to lift him from the game, replacing him with pinch-runner Lyle Overbay.

"It was a good win for us," Pettitte said. "We needed it after last night, that's for sure. We played great defense, and the guys scored some runs. It really let me settle in."

The New York Yankees biggest nightmare might be coming true. All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano has left Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays after being hit on the left hand by a pitch from Jays starter J.A Happ.

Following an RBI single by Derek Jeter in the 1st inning, Cano was hit on a 2-2 pitch from Happ -- that same pitcher that hit Curtis Granderson in Spring Training, fracturing his right forearm.

Cano appeared to be in serious pain, but after a few minutes of discussing things over with Yankees manager Joe Girardi and the teams trainers, Cano decided he would stay in the game and attempt to play through the apparent injury.

Immediately after, Alfonso Soriano jacked a three-run homerun off Happ, which was followed by Cano packing up his stuff in the dugout, and heading down into the clubhouse. As we speak, he's likely undergoing x-rays in his hand. So, right now, we wait.

It's very clear that if Cano is forced to miss time, then the Yankees' season is officially over. Cano is leading the team with a .305 batting average, 24 home runs and 85 RBIs. He was replaced by Eduardo Nunez at second base for the bottom of the first inning.

Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter for updates on the situation.
Well, the New York Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Monday -- a team that had lost seven of their last eight, as well as 12 of the first 13 games against the Yanks this season.

Even the third coming of Derek Jeter wasn't enough to put runs on the board, pitch better than Phil Hughes did and has all season, and catch a seemingly routine fly ball that Ichiro managed to drop in right field, leading to a three-run 5th inning by the Jays.

On the bright side for the Yankees: Alex Rodriguez homered for the third time this season since his debut on August 5th, going the other way to take R.A. Dickey over the right field wall to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

And speaking of Jeter, the Yankees' Captain rejoined the team off the disabled list for the third time, but didn't factor much in the loss, going 0-for-3 with a walk. While that stats do matter, for now, the Yankees only care that Jeter stays healthy.

"It's nice. Hopefully, we can keep him this time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We haven't been so fortunate the last two times. He's played some rehab games, he's felt well. ... It's nice to have him back in the lineup."

Tonight's Lineup vs Toronto:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson RF
Wells DH
Reynolds 1B
Stewart C
Pettitte LHP

Pitching Preview:

Andy Pettitte will take the mound Tuesday night for the Yankees, and he won't have to do much to improve Hughes' start Monday night, who gave up five runs (three earned) on seven hits, while also walking three in 4 2/3 innings.

The last time Pettitte took the mound, he was facing these very same Blue Jays last Thursday, limiting them to just one runs over six innings, following a three-hour rain delay. The one-run effort marked the third straight outing for Pettitte in which he allowed one run or fewer.

"The job that Andy did was important. We needed it," Girardi said. "We needed to get at least six innings out of him, and he was able to do that. He pitched very well."

Pettitte will be opposed by another left-hander, J.A. Happ. Happ will be making his third start against the Yankees and his second in a row on Tuesday, following last weeks series in the Bronx.

In Thursday's loss to the Yankees, Happ struggled, giving up four runs, while also walking five in 5 1/3 innings of work. Happ started the game pitching well, but as the game went on, the Yanks started getting to him, eventually chasing him from the game.

"I've been feeling good since coming back [after being struck in the head with a liner], but [today] I felt like I was executing pitches, then I started missing a little bit," Happ said after that start. "I would have liked to have stayed in there, but that's obviously not my call, either."

Also, while Jeter hasn't done much for the Yankees in the six games he's play this season, he's 4-for-8 with two homeruns in his career against Happ.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's only late-August, but the New York Yankees are still fighting for their playoff life. Escaping with a win in Tampa against the Rays on Sunday kept them from being swept, and also brought the Yankees to just 3 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second wild card.

On a gutsy move by Joe Girardi to give Alfonso Soriano the green-light to steal third base with nobody out in the 11th inning on Sunday, Curtis Granderson brought him home on a sac-fly, followed by a six-pitch save from baseball's greatest closer, Mariano Rivera.

Now the Bombers head north of the border to being a three-game series against the last place Toronto Blue Jays, whom the Yankees are 12-1 against this season, including a four-game sweep at Yankee Stadium just last week.

Joining the Yankees in Toronto is the man they've been waiting for, seemingly all season, Derek Jeter! Jeter has been the DL for the past three weeks for the third time this season, dealing with a calf strain. He played three rehab game in Triple-A Scranton, going 3-for-9 at the plate, and he's ready to return to action.

Tonight's Lineup vs Toronto:

Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Granderson DH
Rodriguez 3B
Overbay 1B
Ichiro RF
Romine C
Hughes RHP

Pitching Preview:

What is there to say about Phil Hughes that you don't already know? He'll be taking the mound for the Yankees in the series opener Monday night, looking for his just his second win since July 2nd, making his second consecutive start against the Jays.

Hughes has pitched for the Yankees since starting at Yankee Stadium last Tuesday, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings in a no-decision against Toronto.

"I feel like I'm making progress in the right direction," Hughes said. "It all starts with my fastball. I was able to get ahead a lot, throw a lot of strikes and force guys to swing the bats. It worked out alright."

Like Hughes, R.A. Dickey hasn't taken the mound for his club since these two teams met last week. Dickey tossed an eight-inning complete game, allowing four runs on six hits, taking the loss after giving up a two-run homerun to Soriano in the 8th.

Also, Dickey, like Hughes has been suffering through a rough 2013 campaign. The former National League Cy Young winning has only won starts in the past two months.

"It's frustrating, it's like a twilight zone -- different day, same script," Dickey said after his last start. "It's really kind of a fluky kind of feeling. I don't really know how to put it into verbiage. I'm at a loss when it comes to that. I just keep telling myself to leave it all on the field, and whatever happens, happens."

Saturday, August 24, 2013

X-Rays on Gardner's right hand come back negative:

Just a couple days after the New York Yankees placed utility man Jayson Nix on the DL for possibly the remainder of the season due to a fractured left hand, the team was given some good news on Saturday regarding Brett Gardner.

Gardner underwent x-rays Saturday morning on his right hand following Friday night's 7-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in which Gardner was hit on the right hand by a pitch from Rays right-hander Chris Archer. Luckily for Gardy and the Yankees, the x-rays came back negative.

After the game, Gardner's hand had swelled up a little bit, but it was nothing that worried Gardner. The Yankees had him undergo the x-rays anyway.

"When it got hit initially, it hurt, but afterwards, it was going well," said Gardner, who tripled in his next at-bat off Archer. "I knew it wasn't broken, so I wasn't concerned about it."

Celebrating his 30th birthday on Saturday, Gardner was held out of the Yankees starting lineup against Rays left-hander David Price, whom Gardner was 2-for-14 (.143).

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Gardner's hand had nothing to do with his benching, citing his poor numbers against Price, and also said the Gardner would likely be available to pinch-hit.

Girardi confirms Jeter will return Monday:

After the Yankees finish up their three-game series in Tampa on Sunday, they'll head north of the border to take on the Toronto Blue Jays -- who the Yanks are 12-1 against in 2013 -- and when they get there, they'll be joined by their captain.

Girardi confirmed before Saturday night's game what many had been reporting Friday night, that shortstop Derek Jeter will rejoin the Yankees in Toronto on Monday.

Jeter began a rehab assignment in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, then played again for the RailRiders on Friday, and will finish up his minor league stint on Saturday with seven innings at shortstop before traveling to Toronto.

"That's the plan," Girardi said. "As long as everything goes OK [on Saturday, Sunday] is probably just a little workout."

Entering play on Saturday, Jeter was 2-for-6 with an RBI, two runs scored, a double, and a walk in two games. Jeter has played in just five games this season for the Bombers in what has been an injury plagued season, missing time with a broken left ankle, right quadriceps strain, and currently coming off a right calf strain.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The New York Yankees are playing absolutely great right now, coming off a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday for their 5th straight win, making them 5-0 since Ryan Dempster plucked Alex Rodriguez on Sunday.

With Thursday's 5-3 victory, the Yankees pulled to within 3 1/2 games of the wild card, putting themselves right back into the American League playoff race.

The Yankees are now in Tampa to begin a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that had been one of the hottest teams in the league, but has cooled off a big, having just been swept by the Baltimore Orioles this week.

Heading into Friday night's 7:05 pm EST game in St. Petersburg, here's what happening around the Yankees:

* After a long rain delay, Andy Pettitte gave the Yanks six innings of one-run ball, and the Bombers went on to beat the Blue Jays for their 5th straight victory. Recap:

* Derek Jeter played in a rehab game for Triple-A Scranton. Here's how it went.

* Ian O'Connor says that Joe Girardi could be pulling off the best Bronx managing job since Joe Torre in 1996.

* Jim Caple wrote a nice piece about Ichiro's 4,000 hits and the way he got there. It's a great story that you should check out.

* Metallica is playing a show on September 21st at the Apollo, one day before the honor Mariano Rivera with a pregame ceremony. Will the rock band play?

* John Harper of the New York Daily News says that A-Rod telling his people the hush up will only be good for the Yankees.

* The New York Post's Kevin Kernan wrote a column saying that now that A-Rod has shut up, it's time for the Yankees the put up.

That's all for now, enjoy this weekends series against the Rays. Unfortunately, I'll be off, and I won't be covering games until Monday. Until then, thanks for stopping by.

Also, this is the first time I've done this Morning Roundup and I'd like to know what you guys think. Let me know in the comment section, or on Twitter, if there's anything I should include in this.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Right now, the New York Yankees might be playing some of their best baseball of the season. Having won four straight coming in, the Yanks sent Andy Pettitte to the mound in hopes that he could help lead them to a four-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pettitte, backed by some timely offensive hits, gave he the Bombers six innings of one-runs ball in one of his best starts in a while, leading the Yankees to a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays.

Thursday's game in the Bronx was originally scheduled to start at 1pm EST, but a three hour rain delay kept the players off the field until first pitch at 4:37pm EST.

When play finally began, Pettitte and Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ were locked into a good pitchers duel early, with Happ not permitting a Yankees baserunner until Ichiro's double off the third base bag in the 4th inning.

J.P. Arencibia broke the scoreless tie in the top of the 5th inning with a solo homerun to left field off of Pettitte. But that homerun wouldn't do much harm to the Yankees, who would end up scoring the next five runs in the game.

Curtis Granderson tied up the game in the bottom half of the 5th inning when he inflicted his revenge on Happ, the man who broke his forearm in Spring Training, launching his 4th homerun deep into the right field seats.

The Yankees would take the lead later in the inning on an extremely crazy play with the bases loaded. Vernon Wells lined a ball into center field that Rajai Davis appeared to catch on a sliding play, but the umpires ruled no catch, Eduardo Nunez scored from third, and Wells was given a fielders choice.

The Yanks added two more runs off of Happ and the Jays' bullpen in the 6th inning on an RBI single by Nunez, and then Chris Stewart drove in the second run on a groundout to third base, scoring Mark Reynolds.

Shawn "Strikeout" Kelley entered the game to start the 7th inning, replacing Pettitte, who tossed six innings of one-run ball, giving up four hits, while walking three and striking out three on 100 pitches.

Kelley, who's usually very reliable out of the bullpen, didn't have his best stuff this time out, letting the first four Jays hitters he faced reached base on three singles and a walk.

Munenori Kawasaki singled to left field with runners on first and second, scoring a run to make it a 5-2 game. A couple batters later, Edwin Encarnacion grounded into a fielders choice to cut the Yankees lead to 5-3.

Boone Logan came on and struck out Adam Lind with a pair of runners on to end the 7th. Preston Claiborne worked a scoreless 8th inning, and David Robertson tossed a scoreless 1-2-3 inning, with Mariano Rivera shut down for the day, to end the game and give the Yanks their 5th straight victory.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Prior to tonight, only two players in baseball history had collected 4,000 career hits. Ichiro Suzuki is now the third player to reach that feat.

Ichiro came into the game with 3,999 hits, and lined a single to left field in his first at-bat of the game, in classic Ichiro style, shooting the ball to left field past a diving Brett Lawrie at third base.

In a surreal moment, the entire New York Yankees dugout flooded out onto the field to congratulate Ichiro on his accomplishment. The hit also moved him past a man named Lou Gehrig on the all-time hits list.

"It was supposed to be a number that was special to me, but what happened tonight, I wasn't expecting," said Ichiro.

"When my teammates came out to first base, that was very special. The fans, I wasn't expecting so much joy and happiness from them. That's what made it very special tonight; not just the number, but all the things that came with it were very special."

To the game, Adam Warren got the start for the Yankees, making just the second start of his Major League career. His stuff looked good early, but putting away the final out of the inning seemed to be an issue.

Warren gave up the first run of the game in the top of the second inning on an RBI single to right field by Anthony Gose. Ichiro came up firing from right, but the throw one-hopped over the glove of Austin Romine at the plate, taking away any play at the plate.

Romine would come back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning, missing a three-run homerun by a matter of feet, but with the ball caught at the wall, Eduardo Nunez tagged and scored from third base.

Curtis Granderson put the Yankees in the lead in the 4th inning on an RBI single to right field after Robinson Cano doubled, scoring from second on the base hit.

Josh Thole lead off the 4th inning with a homerun off Warren, who was taken out a couple pitches later after only 61 pitches. Warren was on a 75-pitch limit coming into the game, and throwing a lot of pitches early in the game forced Yankees manager Joe Girardi to pull him after 3 plus innings.

"The biggest thing was just try to go as long as I could," Warren said. "I really wasn't sure how long I could go, but I just tried to go as long as I could and give the team a chance to win."

David Huff took over from there, and from there, he literally took over the game. Huff gave the Yankees five very solid innings, giving up only  one hit, while walking four and striking out two on 70 pitches.

"We've had to use our bullpen a lot, so it was really important for our guys," Girardi said. "Three or four guys got a night off, which was important moving forward. Just an outstanding performance by Huff."

With the game tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 8th inning, Cano ripped a two-out single into right field, then Alfonso Soriano, who was 0-for-17 coming into the at-bat, launched a go-ahead, two-run homerun off R.A. Dickey to give the Yanks a 4-2 lead.

"I said, 'This is the chance now to do something impressive,'" said Soriano. "Every game is very important for us. I just wanted to see a good one and make a good swing, and that's what happened. He threw me a good one and I made a good swing."

Mariano Rivera entered the game in the 9th inning, and after giving up a one-out double to Rajai Davis, Rivera picked off Davis at second base for the second out of the 9th, then struck out Edwin Encarnacion looking to end the ballgame.

Huff picked up the win, Mariano took home the save, and overall, the Yankees have won four in a row, and 10 of the last 14 games, as well as 12 straight against the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

"It's great. It's a long season," Soriano said. "Sometimes we have a bad week or two weeks, but we come back from that. I think the lineup we have now is very strong, and I hope the offense keeps producing like we're producing right now."

In the second inning, Jayson Nix took a knuckleball from Dickey off his left hand. He would leave the game immediately after, and x-rays would show that he suffered a fracture on that left hand. You can click here for the full story.

Jayson Nix walked it off for the New York Yankees Tuesday night, and Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, Nix walked off the field for possibly the final time this season.

Nix was hit on the left hand by a knuckleball from R.A. Dickey in the bottom of the second inning. Once he reached first base, he quickly called out Yankees trainer Steve Donohue, then proceeded to remove himself from the ball game. Mark Reynolds replaced Nix as a pinch-runner.

X-Rays on his hand came back showing a fracture on his left hand, a break that could keep him out of the lineup for up to six weeks, and this late in the season, he could possibly be out for the remainder of the Yankees' season.

Losing Nix is a tough blow for the Yankees. Manager Joe Girardi calls Nix "a baseball player". He is, for the most part, reliable in the field all around the diamond. At times, he can swing the bat, and had been doing so lately.

"I feel terrible," Girardi said. "Obviously he's got a broken hand and he's going to be out for a while. I'm not sure what exactly we're going to do, but I feel really bad."

No move has been announced yet, but with Derek Jeter header to Scranton to begin his rehab assignment tomorrow, he likely won't be back by this Friday when the Yankees start a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays down in St. Petersburg.

Jeter is expected to play five inning for Triple-A Scranton on Thursday, then maybe play another game in Scranton on Friday. Until Jeter does come back, David Adams would seem like the only option the Yankees could call up to fill in for Nix.

Nix had already spent a good chunk of time on the DL this season with a hamstring injury. He's played 86 games for the Bombers, batting .236 with three homeruns and 24 RBIs.

"I always talk about Nixy, he's a guy who does things right," Girardi said. "Maybe it's not always going to show up in the box score, all the things that he contributes, but he's a guy that just makes good decisions and does things right."

By the way, this is the 200th post on the Yanks Beat Blog this season! So, at least there's that to be happy about. And thanks to all of you that have been reading along all season.

Whether it's because Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup or not, the New York Yankees are playing very good baseball right now. Winners of three in a row, and 9 of their last 12 games, the Yankees are suddenly looking like a team that could compete for the second wild card spot.

The Yanks are coming off a doubleheader against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, in which they came away with a pair of victories, winning game one thanks to a go-ahead three-run homerun by Chris Stewart, and a walk-off single by Jayson Nix in the nightcap.

With two games down and two more to go in this four-game set, the Yankees will get another chance on Wednesday to continue to build their case for a string playoff run down the stretch in September.

"I think we're kind of creeping [in the standings] a little bit, but we've got a long way to go, we've got a lot of games," Nix said Tuesday. "I think each game is very important, and we know that."

Coming into the game, Ichiro is needing only one more hit to reach the 4,000 plateau, and become only the third player all-time to reach the historic mark. After getting to 3,999 in game one yesterday, he sat out game two, not getting a chance to collect one more hit.

It's not just the 4,000; it's that you're getting a hit in a game," Ichiro said Tuesday. "If you don't produce, you're not going to play in games. Producing in games is what's good for me. Four thousand is just as important as any other number, for me."

Tonight's Lineup vs Toronto:

Gardner DH
Ichiro RF
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Granderson CF
Nunez SS
Overbay 1B
Nix 3B
Romine C
Warren RHP

Pitching Preview:

Tuesday's doubleheader used up Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, so in an attempt to save the arms in the rotation, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will call on Adam Warren for the spot start tonight against the Blue Jays.

Used a the Yankees long-relief arm out of the bullpen for most of the season, Warren hasn't taken the mound as a starter for the Bombers yet this season. Tonight will mark only the second starting his Major League career, with the first coming against the Chicago White Sox on June 29th of last season.

Warren didn't fare out too well in that only start last year, as we wound up permitting six runs in just 2 1/3 innings. But as the long-man this year, Warren has proven himself well, with a 3.57 ERA with 46 strikeouts over 58 innings.

Warren and the Yankees will be taking on the 2012 NL Cy Young award winning R.A. Dickey. Dickey was traded to Toronto in a blockbuster deal this past winter, being a move that hasn't exactly panned out for the last place Blue Jays.

The 38-year-old knuckleballer has been nothing like he was with the Mets in 2012, going 9-11 with a 4.49 ERA. His biggest problem this season has been giving up the long ball, as Dickey has served up 27 this year, good for 1.4 homers per nine innings, up from 0.9 in 2012.

Dickey's last start was Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, when he gave up another homerun, permitting four runs in the loss. On the bright side, Dockey has lasted at least seven inning in his last three starts.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Alex Rodriguez told us to expect a new story every day, and he wasn't lying when he said that.

A day after reports surfaced that A-Rod had filed a medical grievance against the New York Yankees, as well as reports that Major League Baseball offered A-Rod a 50-game suspension back in April, coming a day after A-Rod's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, fired comments towards the Yankees on Saturday that team prez. Randy Levine told A-Rod's hip surgeon, Dr. Brian Kelley, the if A-Rod never played again, Levine would be fine with that.

All of this coming just a day after reports came about, saying that A-Rod took evidence from the Biogenesis clinic in South Miami and leaked information after Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, as well as Rodriguez's own teammate, Francisco Cervelli.

Yeah, I know, there's been a lot happening lately, but I still haven't even told you what went down today in the drama that is know as "As The Alex Turns".

Early Monday morning, Tacopina received a letter from MLB executive VP Robert Manfred, while Tacopina was on the "Today" show. In the letter, Manfred agreed to waive the confidentiality clause written into the league's drug-testing agreement with the MLB Players Association -- something Tacopina had suggested would be a possible course of action.

Manfred was suggesting more than the drug-testing information, suggesting all of evidence collected in the Biogenesis case as it concerns A-Rod could be released for the whole world to see, including "all documents, records, communications, text messages, and instant messages relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Bosch."

"Listen, we would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez under this JDA drug program, nothing more," Tacopina said in response to the letter.

Tacopina would later go on the release a written statement, calling the letter "a publicity stunt."

"Such a waiver would require PA to be party of the agreement and signatures," Tacopina said in the statement. "Nothing but a trap hoping I would sign knowing that I couldn't and in fact would have me breaching the JDA agreement."

The New York Daily News was able to obtain a copy of the letter, in which Tacopina says he is not able to talk about the specifics of the investigation because of the confidentiality clause.

"I will make Manfred a deal if he, in writing, waives the confidentiality clause, and agrees that it would not be a breach of the confidentiality clause, if he allows us to discuss exactly what he wants us to discuss, including the testing result, including the specifics of the tests, the results, we would be happy to discuss it. It would be my pleasure to discuss it. I would love to discuss it. But the minute I discuss it, I'm in violation of the confidentiality clause of the JDA," Tacopina said.

According to the Daily News, Manfred responded in the letter.

"While we believe that your public comments are already in breach of the confidentiality provisions of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program (the "Program"), we will agree to waive those provisions as they apply to both Rodriguez and the Office of Commissioner of Baseball with respect to Rodriguez's entire history under the Program, including, but not limited to, his testing history, test results, violations of the Program, and all information and evidence relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Bosch, Anthony Galea and Victor Conte. Specifically, both Rodriguez and the Office of the Commissioner will be permitted to publicly disclose information and documents relating to:

"1. their results; 2. All drug tests that were conducted on Rodriguez under the Program and All prior violations of the Program committed by Rodriguez; 3. All documents, records, communications, text messages, and instant messages relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Bosch; 4. All documents relating to Rodriguez's treatment by Anthony Galea and Victor Conte; and 5. All documents relating to the issue of whether Rodriguez obstructed the Office of the Commissioner's investigation."

Then, later in the day, we were led to this story. As mentioned previously, A-Rod has already began the process to file a medical grievance against the Yankees, and now his legal team is preparing to file a medical malpractice suit against the Yankees' team doctor, says Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.

A-Rod and his lawyers have believed that they have enough evidence to prove their claims that Yankees team doctor Chris Ahmad had misdiagnosed A-Rod's hip injury during last October during the playoffs.

Marchand says that A-Rod and his team have yet to file the lawsuit, as they continue to prepare their case.

In those playoffs, A-Rod went 3-for-25 without an extra-base hit, while striking out 12 times. His poor play eventually led to Yankees manager Joe Girardi benching and pinch-hitting for during the ALDS and ALCS.

In a game against the Baltimore Orioles on Oct. 10, Girardi pinch hit for Rodriguez for the first time, using Raul Ibanez, who would go on to hit the game tying and walk-off homeruns for the Yankees.

Following the game, A-Rod told the Yankees his previously injured right hip was feeling off. He went for an MRI on the hip, then was later deemed to need surgery on his left hip.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman defended the Yankees doctors in a statement.

"Our trainers and doctors will continue to provide the best medical care possible," Cashman said. "That is for Alex as well as anybody else regardless of what they say and what they do. They're going to continue to do that for Alex as well as anybody else on the team. Is it an unusual circumstance? Absolutely. Are any of these people happy with these allegations that continue to get thrown? It's odd. It's odd and it's false, but we still have to go through the motions."

The Yankees also released a statement on the potential malpractice suit:

"We relied upon Dr. Christopher Ahmad and the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for medical diagnosis, opinions and treatment. The Yankees neither had any complaints from Alex Rodriguez pertaining to his left hip during the 2012 regular season and the Yankees postseason, nor did the Yankees receive any diagnosis pertaining to his left hip during that same period of time. Given the various allegations that have been made by Alex Rodriguez and his counsel, if you have any medical questions they should be directed to the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Dr. Christopher Ahmad."

Clearly, no ones know what direction this whole mess will end up going, and all we can do it watch it play out as more and more stories continue to fly come out to the world.

New York Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been named the American player of the week after he hit .484 (15-for-31) with 5 homeruns, 18 RBIs and 9 runs scored over the past seven days.

Soriano begin his historic run last Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels, going 3-for-6 with a pair of homeruns and six RBIs. He followed up the next day by going 3-for-3 at the plate, with two more homeruns and another seven RBIs.

Although he only drive home one run on Thursday, Soriano still went 4-for-5 with a run scored in the Yankees 8-4 loss to the Angels. He opened up this past weekend's series against the Boston Red Sox by collecting three more hits, including a three-run homerun, picking up four more RBIs.

Soriano finished Saturday's ballgame, in which the Yankees lost 6-1, going 2-for-4, as well as raising his batting average to .329. But he couldn't finish off the week on a good note, dropping his average back down to .306 after an 0-for-6 effort Sunday night.

Soriano's 18 RBIs over a five-game span last week put him into the history books, tying the great Mickey Mantle for the most RBIs all-time over the span of five-games.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A couple weeks ago, Major League Baseball handed down a 211-game suspension on Alex Rodriguez, to which A-Rod is currently appealing, as well as playing in games for the New York Yankees. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports, that 211-game suspension could have been far less than 211-games.

According to Rosenthal, back in April, MLB "floated a 50-game suspension. Rodriguez, however, was not willing to work toward such a deal and hired new representation because he wanted to mount a more aggressive fight."

"At different points, it could have been way, way less than where it is now," said one source to Rosenthal.

Of course, Major League Baseball is disputing that it ever offered A-Rod a 50-game suspension, with one source telling Rosenthal that it was Rodriguez who actively pursued such a deal, only to be denied.

If A-Rod had negotiated a 50-game ban with MLB, he could have served the entire penalty on the disabled list while recovering from the hip surgery he underwent in January. He didn't join the Yankees until August 5th, missing the team's first 110 games.

A-Rod is currently appealing his 211-game suspension given to him by MLB, but a decision by arbitrator Frederick Horowitz is not expected to come down until this offseason, letting Rodriguez continue to play for the rest of this season.

Alex Rodriguez and legal team have started the process of filing a medical grievance against the New York Yankees within the last two weeks, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. A-Rod's lawyers contacted the MLB Players Association earlier this month to formally begin the process, claiming that the Yankees have mishandled his medical treatment since the postseason last October.

These reports come just a day after A-Rod's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, accused the team of hiding A-Rod's MRI results of his hip, and continued to play him in the 2012 postseason despite having a torn labrum in his left hip.

“They rolled him out there like an invalid and made him look like he was finished as a ballplayer,” Tacopina said. A-Rod would eventually have hip surgery in January.

Rodriguez's side is also sending out claims that Yankees team president Randy Levine told A-Rod's hip surgeon, Dr. Brian Kelly, that if Rodriguez never saw the field again Levine would be fine with it. Kelly relayed that message on to A-Rod and was told that it gave him chills.

Of course, Levine and the Yankees have denied all the allegations directed towards them.

According to the reports by Marchand, "Rodriguez's attorneys contacted the players' association via a phone call within the last two weeks, sources said. Notifying the union is the first step that could eventually lead to a formal grievance between the Yankees and Rodriguez in front of MLB arbitrator Frederic Horowitz.

"Horowitz is already set to hear Rodriguez's appeal of his 211-game suspension for violating MLB's joint drug agreement and collective bargaining agreement. That arbitration is not expected to conclude until November, at the earliest.

"Disagreements between clubs and players are brought to the union's attention regularly, but generally are kept private. There are four main steps in the process. The player and/or his representatives contact the players' association about their disagreement with the club. The union does its own research before contacting MLB officials. MLB and the union work with the club and player involved to figure out a settlement to avoid a hearing. If the two sides can't mediate the matter themselves, it is brought in front of Horowitz to decide.

"An MLB spokesman said no one at the league office has officially been contacted by the union about Rodriguez's claims. The Yankees also have not been told about the grievance process beginning. A union spokesman said, as a practice, the players' association does not discuss when it is notified about disagreements between a team and a player."

Rodriguez has said numerous times that he believes the Yankees and MLB are conspiring to keep him off the field, and save the Yankees of the nearly $90 million remaining on his contract for the next four years. He was recently suspended for a record 211-games for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but is allowed to play during the appeal process, as part of MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Even with their best pitcher, Hiroki Kuroda, on the mound, the New York Yankees failed to walk away with a Saturday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox. Sloppy play, poor offensive production and a pitching effort from Kuroda that wasn't his best, the Yankees dropped yesterday's game to the Red Sox, 6-1.

A throwing error in the 4th inning would turn out to be a costly play, when a double play ball to Lyle Overbay, instead turned into a run, no outs, and eventually three-runs in the inning.

The top three hitters in the Yankees lineup -- Brett Gardner, Ichiro and Robinson Cano -- combined to go 0-for-11, with 11 groundball outs. Alfonso Soriano and Overbay were the only productive hitters in the lineup, with Soriano collecting a pair of hits to go along with Overbay's three.

With the loss, the Yankees fell back to 8 1/2 game behind the Red Sox in the American League East, putting themselves into an even deeper hole to climb out of in order to clinch a playoff spot this season, and avoid missing the postseason for the first time since 2008.

Tonight's Lineup, 8:05 EST @ Fenway Park:

Gardner CF
Suzuki RF
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson DH
Nunez SS
Overbay 1B
Stewart C
Sabathia LHP

Pitching Preview:

With Kuroda gaining all the attention as the frontman of the Yankees' rotation, CC Sabathia has been doing everything he can regain his title as the Yankees No. 1.

Sabathia's season has been full of ups and downs, but he just hasn't been able to take those ups, and build off of them to create an extended run of success.

"I've had some big games here, I've had some bad ones, but, you know, hopefully [Sunday] is a good one," Sabathia said.

CC's 4.66 ERA this season is higher than it's ever been since joining the Yankees, but he is coming off a pair of good starts, having allowed just five five earned runs in his last two starts, totaling 13 1/3 innings.

"You know when I'm out there and I'm playing, I'm not thinking about what people think about me or what's going on," Sabathia said. "I'm thinking about trying to making a good pitch and helping the team win. I get to go out there every time out and try to change people's opinion of me, so hopefully I can do that."

Sabathia has a 6.23 ERA in three starts against Boston this season, permitting seven runs in five innings the last time he faced them on Sunday Night Baseball in July. He also hasn't had a lot of success at Fenway Park in his career, piling up a 4.93 ERA over 11 starts.

Matching up against Sabathia will be Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster, who will be making his third start against the Bombers this season. Dempster rebounded after two poor outings, giving up one run over seven innings against the Blue Jays.

Dempster last faced the Yankee July 21st at Fenway, when he tosses 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits, while walking four and striking out four.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Coming off Friday night's big 10-3 win in the series opener against the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees sent out their ace, Hiroki Kuroda, to the mound in hopes he could continue dominance on the mound against Boston.

Unfortunately for Kuroda and the Yankees, it would not be their day, as a poor offensive showing from the top of the lineup, coupled with sloppy play in the field, Kuroda came home with his 8th defeat of the season in the Yankees 6-1 loss Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park.

"We can't dig ourselves in a hole for no reason," said Yankees first baseman Lyle Overbay. "This is playoff atmosphere. This is how we've got to play. We've got to be sound, and those are things that we can't have."

Things were running smoothly for Kuroda through the first three inning, as he and Red Sox starter John Lackey were matching each other pitch for pitch through three innings, with both pitchers giving up just a couple runs apiece.

But when the Red Sox finally jumped on the scoreboard, it was because of a play to would prove to haunt the Yankees.

Boston had runners on the corners with one away when Stephen Drew hit a groundball to Overbay, who would send the throw high to second, pulling Eduardo Nunez away from the bag, and Nunez's throw would arrive late to first, scoring David Ortiz from third on the play with every reaching safely.

The play that could have ended to inning, turned into a run, and more, for the Red Sox.

"I just didn't finish the throw. It's frustrating, because I feel like if I get a good grip on the ball, I can throw the ball," Overbay said. "I just didn't finish the throw. It ended up costing us."

A couple pitches later, Mike Carp, who was on second base, and Drew took off for a double steal, with Alex Rodriguez being late to cover the third base bag, again, all the runners were safe, setting up a second and third situation with still only one out.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia would strike out swinging, then Will Middlebrooks sent a groundball up the middle that was stopped by Robinson Cano, but with no play to make, everybody was safe and the second run of the inning would score.

Then immediately that, Jacoby Ellsbury came up with runners on the corners and he lined a single into right field, scoring Drew from third base, to put the Red Sox up 3-0.

"That fourth inning, I wish I could take that back," Kuroda said. "I feel bad about it. ... With the runners on, I wanted to minimize the damage. But I couldn't do that."

Kuroda was knocked out of the game in the bottom of the 6th inning after dishing out a one-out single off the Monster to Saltalamacchia, driving home Daniel Nava from third. Following a strikeout by Middlebrooks, Ellsbury drove an RBI double to right field, making it a 5-1 game, ending Kuroda's day.

Kuroda left with two outs in the 6th, having given up five runs, only three earned, tying a season-high with five runs allowed, and Kuroda also gave up a season-high 11 hits on the day. He clearly wasn't at his best, and the long 4th inning did a lot of damage to him.

"I still think he still made good pitches and he could have got out of the inning," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think that inning took a toll on him as the game went on, and he ended up having to throw extra pitches. In a game like that, that's a big deal. It changes the complexion of the game."

Adam Warren took over for Kuroda in the 6th, and gave up solo homerun to David Ortiz in the bottom of the 7th, and ran into a mess of trouble in the 8th, loading the base with two-outs, before Girardi replaced him with Boone Logan, who retired the only batter he faced.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Yankees showed nothing of the 10-run offense that was put on display the night before. The only run to score was Lyle Overbay, who would touch home on a groundout to the second baseman by Ichiro.

The Yankees top three hitters in the lineup -- Brett Gardner, Ichiro, Cano and Vernon Wells -- combined to go 1-for-12 with 11 groundball outs, doing absolutely nothing to help the Yankees put runs on the board.

Alfonso Soriano and Over were the only Yankees hitters that were able to do anything with the bat, as Soriano would finish the game 2-for-4, raising his batting average to .329, and he's 15 his last 21 at-bats, and Overbay finished to game 3-for-4, with a two-out double in the 9th.

CC Sabathia takes the mound in the rubber game if this three-game series tomorrow night on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. He'll be opposed by Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster.

"They are big losses, in a sense, but you can't make too much of one game," Girardi said. "You have to go out and win a series tomorrow. That's the bottom line. You have to win the series and we have an opportunity to do that."

While the crowd at Fenway Park was busy booing Alex Rodriguez Friday night, the New York Yankees were busy taking care of the Boston Red Sox in the series opener, giving the Red Sox a lose they'll surely want to forget, as the Yankees would game one, 10-3.

Alfonso Soriano continued his hot hitting, driving in four more runs to his total to 18 in his last four games, tying him with the great Mickey Mantle for the most all-time in a four-game span.

Mark Reynolds made his Yankees debut a grand one, driving in three runs, including a two-run homerun in his first at-bat. And for those of you that were wondering and didn't hear, John Sterling didn't give much thought into Reynolds homerun call, using, "You're on on the Mark, Reynolds." The same line used for Mark Teixeira.

Friday's win was the Yankees' fifth win in their last six games, and their sixth win in their last eight overall. The Yankees have looked much better as a team since being swept by the Chicago White Sox last week, with the offense finally picking up and scoring runs.

Today's Lineup, 4:05 EST @ Fenway Park:

Gardner CF
Suzuki RF
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson DH
Nunez SS
Overbay 1B
Stewart C
Kuroda RHP

Pitching Preview:

Hiroki Kuroda's record may only be 11-7, but with the ways he's been pitching this season, he could easily be 15-3. Kuroda has been pitching great for the Yankees all season, but a lack of run support at times has caused him to a the hit in the loss column.

With a 2.33 ERA this season, Kuroda has lately been at the top of his game, as he hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start since June 30th -- that's a span of seven starts.

His last starts in particular was against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, when he tossed eight scoreless innings, giving up just three hits -- it was his league leading 9th scoreless starts this season.

"His offspeed stuff is very difficult to pick up," Angels catcher Chris Iannetta said after the start. "The rotation on it, you couldn't really pick it up. You had to wait a long time, which made you late on the fastball. If you're trying to hit the fastball, you're ahead on the offspeed. He kept guys off-balance -- very deceptive, very good location."

Kuroda will be facing off against Red Sox right-hander John Lackey, who made some pretty interesting comments to the Boston Media a couple days ago, saying that he has a huge problem with MLB letting A-Rod play during his appeal.

"I've got a problem with it. You bet I do," Lackey said. "How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he's playing. I'm not sure that's right. ... It's pretty evident he's been doing stuff for a lot of years I've been facing him."

Lackey will get the chance to face A-Rod on Saturday when he takes the mound with his 7-10 record and 3.32 ERA. The biggest matchup surrounding the impending match-up is whether or not Lackey will throw at A-Rod after expressing his feeling towards to slugger.

Lackey last took the mound in Kansas City to face the Royals last Sunday, taking the loss for the second straight outing after allowing four runs on seven hits in seven innings of work. Lackey is also looking for his first win since July 12th.

QUESTION: Do you think Lackey will throw at A-Rod? Click the follow button below to follow me on Twitter and tell me what you think about Lackey and A-Rod.

Friday, August 16, 2013

At first pitch, Alex Rodriguez was the top story surrounding the New York Yankees. By the time the final out was recorded, Alfonso Soriano and Andy Pettitte had stole all the headlines.

With major contributions from those two, as wells as several other Yankees, the Bombers were able to take down their rivals with ease in Friday night's series opener at Fenway Park, 10-3.

"When you get guys hot like some of the guys are right now, you feel good about yourself," said Pettitte. "Obviously winning ballgames makes you feel good about yourself. It's a good thing right now."

Soriano came into the series hitting the ball better than anybody else in Major League Baseball, and he left Friday night's game hitting even hotter.

After Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano reached base to being the ballgame, setting up runners on the corners with one away, Soriano ripped a hard groundball towards the shortstop that was knocked down, leading everybody to be safe, as well as scoring the first run of the ballgame.

The newly acquire Mark Reynolds made his Yankees debut Friday night, and he quickly turned himself into a fellow Bronx Bomber, going deep of Felix Doubront in his first at-bat, a two-strike changeup that he sent flying over the Green Monster for a two-run homerun.

Soriano came up for his second at-bat of the game in the 4th, once again with a pair of runners on after Eduardo Nunez and Cano reached base to open to inning, then Soriano opened the game by launching a three-run blast over the Monster in deep left-center field to put the Yankees up 6-0.

"I'm trying to enjoy my time now here with the Yankees," said Soriano. "I think it's motivation; coming back to the Yankees to try to help the team to win. That's what is most important."

An inning later, Cano made it a 7-0 game on an RBI to right field, following up a two-out triple by Nunez after Jacoby Ellsbury dropped a ball at the wall in center field that would have made for a great catch. Cano's single extended his hitting streak to 12-games.

All this scoring would come to the benefit of Pettitte, who was the second story in the game behind Soriano and the offensive outburst. Pettitte started the game by retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced. He was locked in for most of the night, looking better than he's looked in weeks.

The Red Sox didn't get in the board against Pettitte until the 4th when Johnny Gomes lined a single to center field, bringing home Dustin Pedroia. Pettitte was working well until the 7th inning when the wheels started to fall off, giving up a pair of RBI single to David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, cutting the lead to 7-3.

After the RBI single by Saltalamacchia, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided it was time to make that move to the bullpen, where he brought in the always reliable Shawn Kelley, who would punch out Mike Carp to strand runners on first and second to end the inning.

For the first time in nine starts, Pettitte didn't give up a run in the first inning, as he pitched very well throughout the night. Obviously things would have looked much better if he would have finished off the 7th inning, but he still went 6 2/3, giving up three runs on six hits, while walking just one and striking out five.

"It was one of those nights where everything was working and you'd hope you'd be able to get through the game like I did," Pettitte said. "My curve was working, my two-seamer, I was locating that to both sides of the plate. My four-seamer also. [Chris Stewart ] called a great game and we scored a lot of runs."

Following Kelley's big strikeout to end the 7th, David Robertson came in and pitched a scoreless 8th inning, permitting a pair of hits, but nothing more.

Before handing the ball to Joba Chamberlain in the 9th, the Yanks tacked on three more runs in the top half of the 9th, including an RBI single by Reynolds, who would finish 2-for-5 with three RBIs in his Yankees debut.

Speaking of Joba, Girardi handed him the ball to being the 9th, but as you could imagine, things didn't run too smoothly. After Gomes flew out to center, Stephen Drew singled and Mike Napoli doubled off Joba to put runners on second and third. Saltalamacchia flew out to center for the second out, but Joba walked Brock Holt to load the bases with two-outs.

Girardi had seen enough at that point, bringing in the lefty David Huff, needing only to get a single out, facing Ellsbury. Huff gots Ellsbury to send a slow groundball over to Cano at second to end the game, giving the Yanks a 10-3 victory, their 6th win in their last eight games.

"I don't think anyone has written them off, by any means," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We've got nine more games remaining against them, they've got a completely different look to their lineup than we saw a month ago, and they've got a lot of life right now."