Thursday, September 26, 2013
NEW YORK—The chants had started before the eighth inning, as Mariano Rivera removed his jacket and began to limber up beyond the center-field fence. By the time the bullpen door finally opened later in the same frame, the sound had grown to a thunderous roar.
There was no save to record, not even a lead to protect, as Rivera jogged to the mound at Yankee Stadium for the final time in a 4-0 loss to the Rays. This was still the moment they had all come to witness, Rivera’s last appearance in pinstripes.
Accepting the ball in front of a sellout crowd of 48,675, Rivera floated in on Bob Sheppard’s recorded introduction and to the strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” The Rays came out of the third-base dugout to applaud the 43-year-old’s entrance, and Rivera tipped his cap in appreciation.
Rivera retired Delmon Young on a one-pitch flyout, then got Sam Fuld to bounce a ball back to the mound. Rivera speared the ball and tossed fluidly to first base, ending the inning.
Rivera recorded the first two outs of the ninth with ease on a tapper to the mound and a popup to second base. Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte then emerged from the dugout and Pettitte tapped his right arm, signaling to the bullpen that Rivera’s work was complete.
Rivera hugged both, buried his face in Pettitte’s shoulder and wept on the mound, then walked off alone to an incredible ovation. He hugged his teammates in the dugout, then was led back to the field for a curtain call, doffing his cap in the first-base coaches’ box.
I admit it, I teared up a bit. Although he’ll probably pitch at least one more time in Houston, this really felt like goodbye. Thanks for everything Mo.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
NEW YORK—The Yankees have officially been eliminated from postseason contention.
New York needed to win all five of its remaining games—and have Cleveland lose all five—to have a chance at earning the final American League Wild Card spot. But the Indians defeated the White Sox and the Yankees lost to the Rays, 8-3, not long after on Wednesday, ending their slim hopes of earning a playoff berth.
The inevitable has arrived. We’ve probably seen the last game Phil Hughes will pitch for the Yankees and it wasn’t pretty, just like far too many of his games this year.
I guess we just celebrate Mo for the rest of the year.
It is not for the Yankees to do the math. Theirs is to hit and pitch, to do or die, at least until the moment that the post-season ship sails without them. And it’s almost ready to leave.
They really are a light brigade, virtually every marquee name having been bled from the roster through a season of injuries. They could muster no dangerous charge at the Rays Tuesday night, losing to the AL’s leading wild-card contender, 7-0.
Hiroki Kuroda, his April-through-July bite gone to rubber teeth, got a high-and-far welcome from leadoff man Matt Joyce to kindle a three-run first inning, and the Yankees never recovered.
So on a classic fall evening, the chances that Yankee Stadium will be dolled up in the familiar October bunting all but disappeared. With five games left, they are one loss, or one Indians victory, from postseason elimination.
The problem with all those scenarios about how if the Yankees just win their remaining games they need x, y and z to happen is that whole “if the Yankees win.”
Obviously Kuroda wasn’t good yesterday but it didn’t matter. Over his last eight starts Kuroda has put up an ERA of 6.45 (FIP of 4.46) and the Yankees have gone 2-6 in those games. His ERA of 2.33 over his first 24 starts was about a run better than his FIP of 3.31 so he was likely due for a correction but not one of this magnitude.
It looks like the people going to the game tomorrow will get to see Mo in CF after all.
Tuesday night’s Mariano Rivera bobblehead fiasco was perfectly symbolic of this current soon-to-be-officially-eliminated Yankees team. Something went wrong and the organization was completely unprepared for it, so they slapped together a quick fix devoid of any real planning and hoped for the best. The Yankees in a nutshell.
I spent the fourth through ninth innings in line for the bobblehead — after waiting about an hour to get in the door in the first place — so I can’t really talk about the game all that much. I did see Hiroki Kuroda get knocked around in the first inning (again), and, from what I understand, a bunch of guys hitting in the middle of New York’s lineup after being released by real contenders because they weren’t good enough made outs in big spots with men on base. The Yankees in a nutshell.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
The AL East Postseason Implications of this Series with Boston
The Yankees have no chance of making the postseason, but this series could impact the Rays and Orioles, so here’s how the various potential outcomes of this series affect the various postseason odds for the teams in the AL East.
|Red Sox 4-0|
|Red Sox 3-1|
Div: Division win percentage
WC1: Wild card win percentage
WC2: Wild card win percentage
PS: Postseason percentage (Div + WC1 + WC2)
A few notes.
1) 100.0% is more like 99.999999999%. No team is actually 100.0% until they clinch but I don’t want really wide columns.
2) I removed team strength variability from these simulations to focus on the delta. In actuality we should expect lower percentages near the top and higher percentages near the bottom. Despite that there may be some fluctuations around the team win totals due to rounding.
3) I’m estimating the Yankees as presently constituted as around an 89 win team. In actuality they are more like a 40 win team so just replace every number that’s not a 0 with a 0.
Anyway, this isn’t worth all that much because over a 20-25 game stretch anything can happen.
Anything except the Yankees qualifying for the postseason.
Saturday, August 24, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG—The pinpoint command that has allowed Hiroki Kuroda to shine at the front of the Yankees’ rotation took a night off on Friday, and the hurler was forced to ride out his roughest outing of the season thus far.
Kuroda tied a career high by serving up four home runs and the Rays delivered a reminder of how challenging a climb back into the postseason race could be, pounding the Yankees, 7-2, in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
“Overall, I wasn’t sharp,” Kuroda said through an interpreter. “There were a few homers that I could have avoided, so I felt really bad. I didn’t have precise control today; that led to bad counts. I got behind and got hit hard.”
Kuroda’s been great all year, but part of it has been built on things that were not sustainable. His BABIP against of .269 is .011 lower than his career rate of .280 and he’s stranded 80.8% of his runners compared to 73.9% in his career. He should be fine going forward, even if the’s not sub 3 ERA good.
The Yankees pretty much have to win three of every four games for the rest of the season if they want to nab a postseason spot, so every loss stings. Hopefully they can take the next two, although with David Price and Alex Cobb going in the next two it’s going to be awfully tough.
Saturday, May 25, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG—Lyle Overbay can’t be sure of how much longer his services as the Yankees’ starting first baseman will be needed, but he is certainly going to force the ballclub into making a tough decision.
Overbay crushed a long home run in the 11th inning off Josh Lueke, two innings after working a key walk that helped topple closer Fernando Rodney, as the Yankees stunned the Rays with a 4-3 victory on Saturday at Tropicana Field.
“It felt good,” Overbay said. “I’d just been missing fastballs all day. It was good to just get on top of one instead of being late and underneath them. It was exciting to do that. Usually that’s what happens when you put a good swing on it.”
Mariano Rivera slammed the door in the bottom of the 11th for his 18th save in 18 opportunities, preserving the victory for Ivan Nova after he’d wriggled free of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th.
Overbay is the new Shockmaster™.
I was out most of the day and the only glimpse I caught of the game showed the Yankees trailing 3-1 in the seventh so I never bothered checking the score again (no, I do not have a smart phone). What a pleasant surprise to see they actually pulled this one out.
The Yankees have excelled at playing with a short-handed roster this season, but there was a belief they were about to get most of their big stars back in the picture. Instead, there’s a new problem to handle.
Curtis Granderson suffered a left hand fracture and will miss a minimum of four weeks, a loss that soured the celebratory mood of the Yankees’ 9-4 victory over the Rays on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
“I think our team has had a lot of practice at it this year, so they’re prepared for this, unfortunately,” manager Joe Girardi said. “These guys know how to deal with it. They know you have to come out and play every day.”
The Yankees have had 13 players on the disabled list this season, and Granderson will be back on the shelf by the time the club takes the field on Saturday afternoon. Robinson Cano said that even though the Yankees are in first place, they’d still like to feel whole again at some point.
“This is something that I don’t think that you’re ever going to be used to,” Cano said. “The last thing you want is to see your teammates go down, especially a guy like Grandy. He worked back here, missed Spring Training, and then to get hurt like that—you just feel bad.”
The Yankees survived another late injury scare as starter David Phelps, pitching a career-high 7 2/3 innings, hung a curveball and was smoked by a Ben Zobrist line drive on his 98th and final pitch of the game.
It really isn’t even funny anymore (okay, I’ll admit, it is still a little funny in the sort of “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?” way). Thank goodness that David Phelps was just bruised. He’ll likely make his next start. Granderson, meanwhile, will be out for at least four weeks. The local community must have built a Granderson voodoo doll to keep Ben Francisco on the team. Can anyone believe that Ben Francisco is seriously going to make it into June (and possibly July) as a Yankee? I would imagine that there would at least be some consideration now with giving Mustelier a chance at some point with Francisco’s roster spot, now that the Yankees know that they’ll need another outfielder for another month. Or perhaps a more fungible player like Thomas Neal? Neal, by the way, is donating $20 for every hit to Oklahoma relief (until the All-Star Break). That’s a big gesture for a guy not making a ton of money.
As for tonight, the offense was on fire and Phelps picked a typical Phelpsian start (not great but good enough).
Tomorrow is Vidal Nuno against Matt Moore. Well, that’s not good.
Update(SG): I had to add this tidbit because it’s absolutely amazing. Courtesy of Chad Jennings at Lohud:
Discussing a possible call-up postgame, Girardi actually forgot that Ben Francisco is on the roster (hard to blame him). Girardi mentioned having only three outfielders and being willing to use Jayson Nix in the outfield if necessary. Reminded of Francisco, Girardi reversed course. “Oh yeah, Francisco,” he said. “Four (outfielders). So disregard what I said. I don’t know what we’ll do. We have so many roster issues, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”
Anyway, get well soon Grandy.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG—The Yankees were handcuffed by Alex Cobb’s masterful pitching performance on Wednesday, managing just four singles as the Rays posted a 3-0 victory at Tropicana Field.
Cobb permitted just two hits that left the infield over his 8 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking one as the Yankees lost for the 13th time in their last 16 games in St. Petersburg.
The Yankees chased Cobb with Brett Gardner’s single through the right side with one out in the ninth and brought Robinson Cano to the plate as the tying run after Ichiro Suzuki singled, but Fernando Rodney recorded the final two outs to slam the door.
Cobb was great, but the Yankee lineup tonight left a lot to be desired. The Yankees have been better than I thought they’d be so far this year, but I don’t think that can continue with the lineups they’ve been running out there this week. They should get healthier and better, hopefully.
A 3-3 road trip in the division is okay I guess, but neither Toronto or Tampa Bay has been playing all that well this year and it would have been nice to take better advantage of that.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
ST. PETERSBURG—Ichiro Suzuki lined a two-run single to center field in the top of the ninth inning, and the Yankees toppled Fernando Rodney and posted a 4-3 victory on Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
The Yankees won for just the third time in their last 15 games at the Trop, taking advantage after Rodney couldn’t keep the score tied for David Price, who started the ninth and was saddled with the loss after permitting a leadoff single to Robinson Cano.
Cano stole second base on Rodney, moving up on a strikeout, and the Rays intentionally walked Travis Hafner. Rodney lost Lyle Overbay to a full-count walk and, after jamming Chris Stewart on a foulout, allowed the deciding hit to the slumping Ichiro.
Mariano Rivera allowed a leadoff homer to Evan Longoria in the ninth but recovered to log his sixth save.
David Robertson was credited with the victory in relief of Phil Hughes, who recovered from a shaky first inning to complete seven innings, picking up a no-decision after turning in his second straight solid outing.
Ichiro’s hit saved Joe Girardi from having to explain why he didn’t pinch-hit for Chris Stewart with the winning run on base and one out. No, Brennan Boesch isn’t Ted Williams, but he’s a better hitter than Stewart and would have the platoon advantage. Even if you apply the standard pinch-hitting penalty I’m fairly certain the right move there is sending up Boesch.
OK. Complaints are done, and it was a good win. This team still can’t hit lefties, although they were facing one of the best in baseball tonight. But Hughes salvaged a very good start from an ugly first inning and kept them in it until they were able to pull it out. That makes two strong starts in a row for Hughes, who probably shouldn’t have been making spring training starts in real games that count. Maybe that will make him cheaper to re-sign…
Andy Pettitte goes for the series win tomorrow. Alex Cobb’s a pretty good pitcher, but at least he’s not a lefty.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
NEW YORK—The Yankees followed their shortstop’s lead on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, but it was 25-year-old Eduardo Nunez, not veteran captain Derek Jeter. Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore attempted to pick Nunez off first base four times in the third inning before Nunez swiped second to jump start a five-run inning that carried the Yankees past the Rays, 6-4.
The victory moved New York 1 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles, whose game began in Oakland at 4:05 p.m. ET.
Nun-E! Nun-E! Nun-E!
It got a little tight near the end, but the bullpen was nails to close it out, and the Yankees had their first series win since I believe May although I may have forgotten one or two.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
NEW YORK—Manager Joe Girardi’s lineup shuffling worked to perfection on Saturday, with Ichiro Suzuki setting the table and stealing a base, and Derek Jeter driving him in for the decisive run in the Yankees’ 5-3 win over the Rays. It evened the three-game set entering Sunday’s finale and gave the Yankees a half-game lead atop the American League East ahead of the Orioles, who will play in Oakland on Saturday at 9:05 p.m. ET.
The win pushed New York back to four games ahead of Tampa Bay for the second AL Wild Card spot.
It was only insurance when the Yankees’ Nos. 1 and 2 hitters manufactured a run with two out in the fifth, until the Rays got to Ivan Nova and Boone Logan for three runs across the sixth and seventh innings.
Nova left to an ovation from the crowd of 46,856 at Yankee Stadium after a strong return to the rotation following a stint on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. Girardi said Nova would throw only 80-90 pitches, and the right-hander left after 85 when Jeff Keppinger led off the seventh with a single.
Encouraging stuff from Nova in a very important game. Depending on how Andy Pettitte looks Tuesday CC Sabathia may be the Yankees’ sixth starter.
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG—The Yankees marched out of a rare team meeting and reclaimed sole possession of first place in the American League East, posting a 6-4 victory over the Rays on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
Derek Jeter had three hits for New York, but his most important swing of the night came on a seventh-inning grounder that second baseman Elliot Johnson threw away for a decisive two-run error.
Russell Martin homered and drove in three runs, helping to lift the Yankees back into the division lead after the Blue Jays defeated the Orioles, 6-4, setting up a big four-game showdown for New York in Baltimore beginning on Thursday.
For least one night, order has been restored.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG—The Rays crushed three homers to power their way to a 5-2 win over the Yankees at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, clinching a series win and in the process pulling within 1 1/2 games of the American League East-leading Yankees.
New York now shares the division’s top spot with the Baltimore Orioles, who routed Toronto, 12-0, earlier in the evening.
The playoffs effectively started tonight. The Yankees pissed away their 10 game division lead and have lost sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time in 84 games. So now they have to outplay Baltimore and Tampa Bay over the rest of the season if they want to take the division, something they haven’t been able to do since the All Star Break.
Monday, September 3, 2012
“It’s not a good feeling,” the Yankees’ Robinson Cano said. “You lose some games, and you just want to win games. You don’t want to put your head down. We’ve just got to turn the page; just be ready for tomorrow.”
That may be more difficult for Cano than others; the second baseman felt discomfort in his left hip trying to flag down the go-ahead hit, Chris Gimenez’s soft eighth-inning dribbler off losing pitcher David Robertson, as it scooted through the right side of the infield.
The Yankees do not expect Cano’s injury to force him to miss more than a day, but now that they’ve seen what was once a 10-game lead in the AL East trimmed to a single contest by virtue of the Orioles’ win over the Blue Jays, off-days are a luxury the Yankees can’t afford.
“I would love to keep the lead,” manager Joe Girardi said. “When you win the division, you don’t really care what you win by. You’d just love to keep the lead. That’s important.”
Scoring runs is also important. Staying healthy too. The Yankees seem to suck at both lately.
Thursday, July 5, 2012
It looked like the Rays were well on their way to making it 10 straight losses for the Yankees at The Trop when Carlos Pena launched a two-run homer off Boone Logan into the right-field stands, putting Tampa Bay ahead, 3-1, in the seventh—especially after New York missed a prime scoring opportunity in the top half of the inning.
But David Robertson pitched a clean eighth inning—a welcome experience for him after admittedly blowing Monday’s game, a 4-3 loss—and Tampa Bay relieved Price with Farnsworth, a righty.
Farnsworth walked leadoff batter Eric Chavez and struck out Derek Jeter, then issued free passes to Curtis Granderson and Teixeira to load the bases. Alex Rodriguez then walked on six pitches, bringing in Chavez and trimming the Rays’ lead to one run.
“I wasn’t getting ahead of them, first off, on strike one, which obviously was huge,” Farnsworth said. “They’re going to sit on their one pitch, and they’re not going to swing. ... It’s all on me for not throwing strikes.”
Girardi added that it’s not always easy for hitters to leave the bat on their shoulder when a pitcher is throwing so many balls, especially when they could just as easily hit their way back into the game.
“We’ve got guys who can change the complexion of the game with one swing,” Girardi said. “But they remained patient, and I give them a lot of credit.”
Robinson Cano took care of things from there, knocking a two-run single to center field off left-hander Jake McGee—who relieved Farnsworth—to give the Yankees the lead. The hit also gave Cano eight straight games with at least one RBI.
“Every win’s a big win, but it’s good to get that monkey off your back,” Cano said. “You want to be able to win one and get over it. You don’t want to go to Boston losing three games.”
No, you certainly don’t want that, Robinson.
In other somewhat odd news, the Yankees claimed Darnell McDonald off waivers. This likely means we won’t be seeing Brett Gardner before Labor Day. Of 2013.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG—Mark Teixeira watched Elliot Johnson’s two-out grounder roll past his glove and into the right-field corner of Tropicana Field, remaining bent over as he watched it go down the line and shaking his head when he finally turned back around.
Even after watching the replay, Teixeira had no idea why he didn’t make the play. Nor did he understand how he couldn’t at least knock the ball down. It should have been the final out of the seventh inning.
Has any team ever gotten less for their money than the Yankees are getting out of Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez this year? Luckily they’re only signed for the next dozen years or so as the Yankees embark on their new austerity budget.
Anyway, despite the frustrating way that the Yankees basically handed this game to Tampa Bay, I was encouraged to see a solid outing by Freddy Garcia. I had no problem with Girardi starting him in the sixth since he’d been pitching well and since he needs to be stretched out if he’s going to be starting again. If Boone Logan, David Robertson and Teixeira had done their jobs last night we could have been talking about Garcia more than the loss.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
NEW YORK—Ivan Nova recaptured his form and led the charge for the surging Yankees, allowing just four hits across eight-plus innings in a stellar effort to defeat the Rays, 4-1, on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
Nova permitted a single to the first batter of the game, Desmond Jennings, then appeared close to untouchable for the majority of the night. He retired 12 straight after a fourth-inning walk, fueling the Yankees toward their 10th win in 13 games.
Nova entered the top of the ninth with a chance at his first career shutout, but back-to-back triples by Jennings and B.J. Upton chased the righty, who struck out five and walked one, throwing 69 of his 103 pitches for strikes.
Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano slugged solo home runs to account for the early damage against right-hander Alex Cobb, who permitted four runs in seven-plus strong innings during his second career start against the Yankees and first in the Bronx.
That was the game I’ve been waiting for Nova to throw all year.
If last place Boston could have beaten first place Baltimore, the Yankees would have first place in the AL East all to themselves. But because Boston couldn’t beat Baltimore, the Yankees will have to settle for sole possession of second place.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
NEW YORK—Andy Pettitte received a well-deserved standing ovation after another vintage performance and Russell Martin provided the thunder with his fourth career grand slam as the Yankees trounced the Rays, 7-0, on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
Pettitte continued to look as sharp as he has at any point in his career, striking out 10 over 7 1/3 stellar innings and winning for the third time in five starts this year as he helped inch the Yankees closer to first place in the American League East.
Average AL catcher in 2012: .243/.314/.398, .712 OPS
Russell Martin: .211/.352/.376, .728 OPS
Pettitte was great tonight, just like he has been in the majority of his starts this year. I thought he’d be decent, but he’s been far better than that. His fastball velocity tonight was a bit better than it’s been to this point (88.4 mph vs. 87.3 prior) but using his other pitches is what’s made him effective so far this year and tonight was no different. It’s nice to have him back.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
NEW YORK—In a battle of top-tier lefties, Yankees ace CC Sabathia outdueled Rays southpaw David Price for the first time in his career and the Yankees took a series victory with a 5-3 win over the visiting Rays on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
It was the sixth time the two All-Stars have gone head-to-head, but just the first time the Yankees have won such a meeting.
I’m surprised by that last sentence. I knew they’d matched up quite a few times, but I didn’t think the Yankees had never won one of them.
If Dave Robertson is going to follow in Rivera’s footsteps, then he, too, must learn this difficult trick. After blowing his first save as Rivera’s successor on Wednesday night, he has the opportunity to show the Yankees how he will respond.
One day after he pitched his way out of a jam to earn his first save of the season, Robertson put himself in the same situation Wednesday, but his good fortune ran out. He gave up four runs in the ninth inning — the first runs he allowed since Aug. 21 — as the Tampa Bay Rays stunned the Yankees, 4-1. The last three runs came on a homer by Matt Joyce.
Robertson was going to give up some runs at some point. It just stinks that it happened last night. Should the AL East come down to a game or two between Tampa Bay and the Yankees at the end of the year, we can look back at two costly blown saves. Last night’s by Robertson and Opening Day by Mo.
On a somewhat related note.
Players A, B, C and D
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Nova turned in arguably his best outing of the season during a rainy evening at Yankee Stadium, striking out eight and leading the Yankees to a 5-3 win over the Rays that saw former setup man David Robertson record his first save since Mariano Rivera sustained a season-ending right knee injury last week in Kansas City.
Raul Ibanez homered twice, including a long two-run blast, and Curtis Granderson belted a solo shot, his 10th of the year, to provide the offense as the Yankees toppled James Shields, posting their third victory in four games.
This game felt like a playoff game to me, and it was a tight one with a lot of tension and drama. Nova was very good except for the continued HR issue he’s been having this year, and he reward Joe Girardi’s faith by pitching out of a big jam to end the 7th in what may have been the key point in the game.
Robertson got his first save of the year, hopefully the first of many, although it took loading the bases and facing Carlos Pena to get it. I’m not worried about Robertson at all, but I do have concerns about the bridge to him.
And I have to say that I’m happy to see Ibanez exceeding my admittedly low expectations for him. He seems like a good guy and I hope he can continue to do so.
But mostly it was nice to finally beat the Rays after losing seven straight to them going back to last year, although some of those losses felt like wins.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG—The last time the Yankees opened a season with three losses, the owner started chirping back in New York and the manager’s job security was being called into question by the tabloids.
That club won 114 games and the 1998 World Series, which provides some historical perspective for the Yankees. It is indeed early, but that removed only some of the sting after the Rays completed a season-opening three-game sweep with a 3-0 victory on Sunday.
I realize that the Yankees lost all three games in this series, but according to FIP they actually won this series 2-1. So there’s that.
Optimistic posts only please. Any one complaining will be banned.
Friday, April 6, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG—What could well turn out to be Mariano Rivera’s final Major League season began with an Opening Day blown save, as the Rays toppled the game’s all-time saves leader to post a 7-6 victory on Friday at Tropicana Field.
Joe Girardi should get at least half of the blame for his loss. His asinine decision to intentionally walk Sean Rodriguez in the first inning probably was as big of a reason for this loss as Mo’s blown save.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Minutes after the Red Sox fell to the Orioles in Baltimore, Evan Longoria lined a walk-off homer down the left-field line to clinch the Wild Card for the Rays.
What a bizarre night of conflicted emotions.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Bartolo Colon held the Rays to two runs in 5 1/3 innings, but he settled for a no-decision after Rafael Soriano allowed a go-ahead homer in the seventh in St. Pete.
Best Rafael Soriano appearance ever.
In 1996, the Yankees pulled Dwight Gooden off the scrap heap after he had pitched 40 innings in 1994 and no innings in 1995. Gooden made 29 starts and although he ended the year with an ERA of 5.01, from April 27 to August 12, he was very useful, giving the team 128 innings of 3.09 ERA, and going 10-2 in the process, including a no-hitter against the Mariners on May 14.
Gooden struggled at the end of the year, putting up an 21 innings of 10.55 ERA over his final five starts and was left off the postseason roster. It was an unfortunate way for his season to finish up, but the Yankees probably don’t get to the postseason without what he gave them in the middle of the season, and for that Yankee fans were thankful.
I don’t know how Bartolo Colon’s season is going to finish out. Although he was reasonably effective tonight, he’s clearly not throwing with the same zip he had at the start of the year. If the Yankees do decide to leave him off the postseason roster, it doesn’t change the fact that he gave the Yankees a lot of value this year, more than anyone could have reasonably expected.
And for that, Yankee fans should be thankful.
Monday, September 26, 2011
As the Yankees attempt to balance resting their regulars with serving their roles as spoilers in the American League Wild Card race, manager Joe Girardi fielded a lineup that produced mixed results.
Robinson Cano homered and notched a run-scoring single against Tampa Bay starter James Shields, who otherwise gave the Rays everything they needed. Pending the result of Boston’s game at Baltimore, the Rays’ win pulled them within a half-game of the Red Sox with two games remaining.
Best loss ever.
Pending the result of this?
BALTIMORE—Two games left, and it’s all tied up. That is the reality the Red Sox now face as their once secure grip in the American League Wild Card standings has slipped away entirely.
This, after an 6-3 loss on Monday at Camden Yards to the 68-92 Orioles, a team that has beaten the Red Sox in four out of five meetings over the last week.
If the Red Sox don’t reverse that in the next two games, they could be going home earlier than anyone thought. The resilient Rays have come all the way back and have the same 89-71 record as Boston after beating the Yankees, 5-2, at Tropicana Field on Monday.
It was the continuation an almost surreal turn of events over the last few weeks for the Red Sox, who have gone 6-19 in September, losing nine games in the standings over that time.
Back on Aug. 17, Boston had a lead of 10 games in the AL Wild Card. Now, the Sox have two games—and perhaps a one-game playoff on Thursday—to avoid being the first team to blow a double-digit Wild Card lead since that format started in 1994.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
NEW YORK—The New York Yankees captured their 12th American League East championship in 16 years Wednesday at Yankee Stadium with a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Pinch-hitter Jorge Posada leveled the final blow in the eighth inning, a two-out, bases-loaded single that broke a 2-2 tie and put New York ahead for good.
The win gave the Yankees a sweep of a day-night doubleheader and, combined with Boston’s loss to Baltimore, mathematically eliminated the Red Sox from contention for first place in the division.
It’s obviously been a frustrating season for Posada, who’s been a hugely important part of the Yankees over the last 15 seasons. So in that sense it was cool for Joe Girardi to give him a shot in what is very possibly going to be the last meaningful PA of his Yankee career, and even cooler to see him come through.
If you assumed the two games of this double-header were 50/50 shots and the odds of Baltimore beating Josh Beckett in Fenway were about 25%, the odds of today’s events were about 6.25%.
But they happened, and because of that the Yankees are the champions of the AL East!
A fact that I’m sure is shocking to 45 of 45 ESPN “experts”.
NEW YORK—The Yankees are going back to the playoffs for the 16th time in 17 seasons. Big hits by Eduardo Nunez and Robinson Cano sparked a three-run eighth inning to push New York past Tampa Bay, 4-2, in the Game 1 of a doubleheader Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
The win ensured that Tampa Bay will not win the American League East title and the Yankees will at least capture the AL Wild Card.
Two more to get the division, and four more for home field advantage.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
NEW YORK—Ivan Nova solidified his case for a spot in a postseason rotation with 7 2/3 shutout innings Tuesday in a 5-0 win over the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The stellar, six-hit performance was Nova’s fifth quality start in his past six outings.
The victory furthered the cause of the team, as well, adding another game of separation between New York and third-place Tampa Bay to reduce the Yankees’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot to two. The Yankees can now clinch a playoff berth by beating the Rays in either half of their split-admission doubleheader Wednesday.
This team is insane if they are considering not starting Nova in the playoffs.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Pulled from regular designated-hitter duty last week, Posada returned to the lineup in dramatic fashion on Saturday, belting a grand slam and collecting six RBIs as the Yankees rolled to a 9-2 victory over the Rays.
Making his first start since tossing a rain-shortened shutout at Chicago, Phil Hughes limited Tampa Bay to two runs and four hits in six innings before leaving with a seven-run lead. Hughes appeared to be on the bubble as the Yankees prepared to whittle their rotation down to five starters, but with the news that Freddy Garcia will miss at least Sunday’s start, Hughes’ rotation spot is safe for the time being.
Hughes looked good. He gave up only 4 hits, and this was the third start in a row that he walked only one batter through 6 innings.
Freddy Garcia may not make this list, but he’s taken a step towards A.J. territory with his recent injury.
UPDATE: Apparently, the Yankees signed Scott Proctor to a minor league deal.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Sometimes the everyday nature of this game is what’s so great about it. You can be a goat one day, then a hero the next.
Such was the case for the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson and Boone Logan.
On Tuesday, the two were responsible for an ugly seventh inning that wound up handing the Rays a one-run victory. On Wednesday, Granderson’s catch and homer, and Logan’s strikeout, were critical in the Yankees’ 4-0 win.
Freddy Garcia played a big part, too, of course. After giving up six runs (five earned) to the Blue Jays on Friday, Garcia—like Bartolo Colon before him—bounced back in a big way with 6 2/3 shutout innings.
I still don’t want to see Garcia pitching against Boston, but I’m starting to look forward to his starts a lot more than I ever thought I would.
Monday, July 18, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG—Russell Martin drew a two-out bases-loaded walk in the ninth to plate Curtis Granderson, giving the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Rays in the series opener from Tropicana Field on Monday night.
Forced into action after a 16-inning Sunday night game, Alex Torres made his Major League debut in a 4-4 game in the top of the ninth. With Granderson on third and two outs, Torres intentionally walked Nick Swisher to pitch to Andruw Jones, but walked Jones to load the bases.
I guess we should give the Red Sox an assist for forcing the Rays to use a pitcher making his MLB debut in the ninth inning of a tie game. Thanks fellas!
After A.J. Burnett’s pitching and glove put the Yankees in a 4-1 hole after two innings it looked like one of those nights. A late rally in the 8th tied the game and David Robertson and Mariano Rivera retired the final six Rays to bat while the Yankees took advantage of Joe Maddon’s largess to tally the winning run in the ninth.
As an aside, after starting the year being caught stealing 6 times in 11 attempts, Brett Gardner’s now stolen successfully in 22 of his last 26 attempts. Maybe he doesn’t need those remedial base running lessons after all.
Sunday, July 10, 2011
NEW YORK—CC Sabathia and James Shields pitched like All-Stars on Sunday, dueling back and forth, sitting down batter after batter and not allowing a single earned run. The starters followed a day interrupted for celebrations by orchestrating the second-shortest game Yankee Stadium has held all season long.
Sabathia was nasty today and punctuated the game with a 98mph fastball to strike out Elliot Johnson, but the Rays basically gifted this one to the Yankees. Sean Rodriguez led off the second with a double and inexplicably tried to steal third and was thrown out. We don’t know how the rest of the inning would have played out, but there was a very good chance the Rays might have scored a run.
Similarly, the Yankee offense couldn’t do anything against Shields. Robinson Cano led off the seventh with a single, and then Jorge Posada followed up with a short fly to CF. B.J. Upton made the catch and then tried to double off Cano off first but instead threw the ball into the dugout near the Chuck Knoblauch memorial seats. They awarded Cano third base after that. Then, after Russell Martin grounded out to a drawn in infield for out number two which meant Cano couldn’t score, an errant pickoff throw by Shields let Cano score the only run of the game.
I don’t care, I’ll take it.
Sabathia has been ridiculously good over his last four starts.
31.2 IP, 22 H, 1 R, 6 BB, 42 K, 0 HR, 0.28 RA, 1.12 FIP. He’s going to make some serious coin when he opts out to join the Red Sox.
At least the Yankees will enter the All Star Break tied in the loss column with the best team of all time. You really couldn’t have expected any more than that, could you?
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG—Alex Rodriguez homered twice and David Robertson pinned the bases loaded in a big spot, as the Yankees finally exhaled with a 6-2 victory over the Rays on Tuesday, snapping a six-game losing streak.
Rodriguez’s second home run off James Shields was a sixth-inning laser that cleared the center-field fence, providing a slim lead, but there could be no guarantees during a stretch when nothing seems to have gone right.
Figures Rodriguez would pick a blowout to finally get a couple of hits. Jorge Posada also got a couple of hits and has moved his average up to .179. Yay! In less good news, Derek Jeter’s OBP is down to .309.
I thought Girardi walking Joyce to bring in Robertson with the bases loaded was dumb, but it worked out this time. Unfortunately that means positive reinforcement for more stupidity down the road when it won’t work. I don’t know if Girardi’s love of the sac bunt is more damaging than his love of the intentional walk, but at some point both are going to come back and bite the Yankees in the posterior.
In even better news than an exceedingly rare but ultimately meaningless Yankee victory, Rafael Soriano is no longer using up a roster spot while providing no value or negative value.
The Yankees put reliever Rafael Soriano on the disabled list Tuesday, but, befitting their fortunes recently, they also dealt with a matter unrelated to his ailing right elbow.
Soriano, who had pitched once in the Yankees’ last seven games, will miss at least another two weeks after magnetic resonance imaging revealed inflammation in his elbow. But also problematic were comments he made after the Yankees’ loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, their sixth in a row.
Soriano heaped blame on the offense, not the bullpen, for the Yankees’ skid.
I find it hard to believe that the fact that the Yankees won for the first time in a week on the day they DL’ed Soriano is a coincidence.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
NEW YORK—CC Sabathia was chased in a seven-run sixth inning as the Rays defeated the Yankees, 10-3, on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, reducing New York’s advantage in the American League East to a half-game.
Congratulations to the Rays and their fans on winning the AL East.
On the plus side, at least now we won’t have to hear and read the bleating and whining about CC Sabathia winning an ‘undeserved’ Cy Young.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
NEW YORK—Phil Hughes pitched into the seventh inning and the Yankees got two-run doubles from Lance Berkman and Robinson Cano to defeat the Rays, 8-3, on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, further extending their lead in the American League East race.
I realize Hughes hasn’t pitched as well over the last three months as he did over the first two months of the year, but let’s look at the big picture and how he’s pitched overall this year.
What Hughes did in April and May counts just as much as what he’s done since then, and the overall ledger is pretty damn good for a 24 year old pitcher in his first full season as a starter. It’s also important to note that ERA underrates Hughes, who has only allowed one unearned run. A pitcher with an RA of 4.36 will generally have an ERA of 4.19. This is why I suggest using RA instead of ERA for a pitcher. All runs count.
Entering this season, I felt that the most important thing Hughes needed to was stay healthy and effective enough to pitch a full season in the rotation, and he’s certainly headed there now. He’s going to have to work on refining his pitch selection and sequencing to improve, but I’m cautiously optimistic about his future.
Hell, I was optimistic enough to re-up our sponsorship of his Baseball Reference page.
Still not sure he’ll be nails in the postseason, but I am never sure of anyone or anything in the postseason.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jorge Posada connected for a pinch-hit home run leading off the 10th inning Tuesday, putting the Yankees back in first place in the American League East with an 8-7 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Mariano Rivera shut the Rays down for a save in the 10th -- aided by Greg Golson's game-ending throw to nail Carl Crawford at third base trying to advance on a fly ball to right field.
Golson's "pew pew" laser throw was pretty nice.
Since the start of the Orioles series on September 6th, the Yankees have appeared offensively challenged, particularly with RISP.
|9/6 - 9/14 without RISP||237||23||51||51||5||.239||.316||.352||.293||.306|
|9/6 - 9/14 w/ RISP||88||11||14||13||0||.186||.306||.257||.224||.272|
As you can see, the Yankees have stunk it up w/ RISP in the past couple weeks, although perhaps a bit unlucky with balls in play. However, they haven't looked much better batting without RISP. Obviously, this is a pretty small sample size, but it's been frustrating to watch nonetheless, especially against playoff bound teams like the Rangers and Rays.
Monday, September 13, 2010
I don’t even feel like recounting all the ways that Joe Girardi has managed over the last few games that make me question how good of a manager he is. Granted, we don’t know the all the rationale behind some of them, including the health of players we may think should be playing more than they are.
But tonight, I really need a rationalization for these two moves:
- Replacing Boone Logan after he faced ONE BATTER with Chad Gaudin against a team that had no fewer than five left-handed bats on the bench
- Bunting with Curtis Granderson AHEAD IN THE COUNT 2-0 and Austin Kearns on first base in front of Colin Curtis and Derek Jeter. There are times the bunt makes sense, and there are times it doesn’t. Without going into all the things that should be considered, I’ll just say that having the lefty Granderson bunting against a righty in front of a player who has a grand total of 47 AB in the major leagues, and who last got a hit in an MLB game in July is probably not a high percentage move. You’d have thought after Girardi gave away an out on a 3-0 count and the way it came back to bite him on the ass a few days ago he’d have been a little less gung ho about making it more likely for his team to NOT score, but apparently not.
Without knowing the availability of the arms in the bullpen, I can’t really kill Girardi for going to Sergio Mitre to start the 11th.
Frankly, I’m not sure Girardi really cares about the division any more, because with the way he’s managing it sure doesn’t seem like it. So maybe we shouldn’t care either.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG—The Yankees’ bats were largely helpless against James Shields in a commanding performance on Sunday, as the Tampa Bay Rays posted a 3-0 victory over New York at Tropicana Field.
Shields stifled the Bronx Bombers to move Tampa Bay back within one game of first place in the American League East, firing 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball and limiting New York to just four hits on 11 strikeouts, one shy of his season high.
Maybe I’m crazy,. but I’d think that with your ace going in the rubber game of a road series against the team that’s neck and neck with you in the division, you wouldn’t bench your cleanup hitter for a utility IF hitting .209/.247/.220 on the season and you wouldn’t bench your starting LF either.
But maybe I’m crazy.
You also have to wonder if Mark Teixeira would have made two of the plays Lance Berkman failed to make that directly led to Rays runs. I don’t think that’s a big deal though, my guess there is that Joe Girardi wanted to let Berkman feel a bit more comfortable and DHing can be a bit rough for some players. Berkman did make one nice play too.
With the way James Shields pitched today, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but I really can’t fathom what Girardi was thinking when he wrote out today’s lineup card.
I’m also not really sure why Girardi needs to keep CC Sabathia pitching over 110 pitches in games that look like they’re going to be losses anyway. Maybe save some of those bullets for a winnable game?
It was a crappy ending to what was a pretty intense series, but the Yankees entered it with a two game lead over Tampa Bay and a 7.5 game lead over Boston and saw both of those leads shrink by a game (thanks for nothing, Detroit). So there’s no way to spin it as anything but disappointing.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher hit game-tying taters, and Robinson Cano’s go-ahead shot carried the Yanks to Saturday night’s 5-4 win over the Rays.
Cano’s on the short list of legitimate AL MVP candidates, and you can probably make the case that his 9th inning homer tonight has been the most important hit in the Yankees’ 2010 season to this point. The Yankees had six hits tonight, and Cano had three of them.
Tonight could have ended with the Yankees and Rays tied for the AL East division lead and with Tampa looking for a sweep tomorrow. Now, the Yankees are guaranteed to be in first place no matter how the series ends, and with their best pitcher going tomorrow they have a very good chance to take two of three on the road against their primary competition for the division.
Even though Javier Vazquez and Matt Garza both gave up four runs, I thought they both pitched pretty well, and it was a well-played game all around. Of course, I’d probably feel differently if Tampa Bay had won.
Today actually felt like two wins thanks to this bit of news as well.
Derek Jeter led off with a single to center field, and Nick Swisher followed that up by slamming his 19th home run of the season to right field. Tampa Bay right-hander Wade Davis looked rattled, and it was hard to imagine the rookie would recover.
But after giving up three hits in the first inning, Davis dominated the next six. And the Rays took advantage of the lone mistake by Yankees starter Phil Hughes—Matt Joyce’s three-run homer in the sixth—to escape the matchup between baseball’s two best teams with a 3-2 win before a sellout crowd of 36,973 at Tropicana Field.
It’s hard to get that upset over this loss. Hughes curveball looked excellent, and but for one bad pitch, the Yankees may have ended up the victor. Sure, they didn’t hit a lick after the first inning, but Wade Davis looked pretty sharp.
Really, the worst part of the game was that a perfect two innings of relief from Joba were wasted in a loss. Go figure.
In other news, it looks like the Yankees have added Austin Kearns in addition to Lance Berkman.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Compared with the injury to the Yankees’ starting pitcher on Saturday, Sunday’s mishap was merely mundane. Unlike A. J. Burnett, who cut the palms of his hands when angrily slamming them into a clubhouse door Saturday, Andy Pettitte was merely throwing a pitch when he strained his left groin muscle Sunday.
But while Burnett’s injury probably will not force him to miss a start, Pettitte’s injury could force him onto the disabled list.
Why couldn’t Burnett have strained his groin and Pettitte cut his palms?
Pettitte’s been the Yankees’ best starter this year, so this hurts. It sounds like he could miss up to five weeks, which is not cool. As for who fills his spot, it’ll probably be Dustin Moseley or Sergio Mitre, neither of which excites me much. Until we know how much time Pettitte’s likely to miss, it’s tough to really assess the impact.
Pettitte’s injury put a damper on a solid win. The Yankees were down 3-0 after only ten pitches and with AL All Star Game starter David Price on the mound for Tampa Bay. Luckily for us, the Yankees have Robinson Cano, who put them right back into the game with a two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the first to cut the deficit to 3-2. The beleaguered Yankee bullpen was able to finish the game after Pettitte left, allowing two runs over the last six innings while their teammates scored seven more. I was happy to see Joe Girardi go right to David Robertson when Pettitte had to leave with two on and a 3-1 count on Kelly Shoppach. At this point, Robertson is probably the best non-Mo reliever in the bullpen (I really don’t give a crap what Joba’s FIP is), and the game had the potential to get ugly right there. I’ll also throw CHP a bone and thank him for a good inning. That makes two good games in his Yankee career I think.
This is a series we have to be happy with, as the Yankees took two of three from their chief AL East rival and opened up a three game lead in the division. In doing so while Boston lost three of four at home against Texas, the Yankees also have managed to pick up a seven game lead on the Red Sox in the loss column. In order for Boston to catch the Yankees now, they have to be seven games better over less than half a season. With eleventy billion aces, that’s certainly plausible, but it’s also somewhat unlikely.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Joe Girardi’s eyes were damp, and several of his Yankees stared into space as they stood clapping. Most everyone at the Stadium was on their feet, cheering, for about three minutes following a video tribute to George Steinbrenner, part of the emotional ceremony Friday night celebrating the famous owner before the Yanks’ first game since The Boss’ death on Tuesday.
Steinbrenner and The Voice - P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard, who died on Sunday - were both feted during a 20-minute tribute in which closer Mariano Rivera laid two long-stem roses on home plate to honor each Yankee icon and shortstop Derek Jeter called both men “shining stars in the Yankee universe.”
After honoring The Boss, the Yankees then honored Steinbrenner’s prime directive - to win - by rallying to beat the Rays, 5-4, in front of 47,524. Nick Swisher hit a game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning off Lance Cormier, knocking in Curtis Granderson from second base and bringing most everyone in the ballpark to their feet. “The agenda today was winning,” Swisher said. “On a day like this when we celebrate his life, we’ve gotta take him out with a ‘W.’... It was Mr. Steinbrenner’s day.”
A fitting ending to an emotional game for the Yankees.
Friday, May 21, 2010
NEW YORK—Andy Pettitte never completely recovered from a shaky beginning, surrendering three home runs in five-plus innings as the Yankees fell to the Rays, 8-6, on Thursday to complete an abbreviated two-game series without a victory.
Well, that sucked. At least Javy Vazquez starts Friday…..
Saturday, April 10, 2010
ST. PETERSBURG—CC Sabathia flashed half of a smile as he started the long walk into the dugout Saturday, greeted by applauding manager Joe Girardi and congratulated all around by the Yankees infield.
The ace left-hander chased a dream for 7 2/3 innings in a 111-pitch performance at Tropicana Field, trying to keep his usual cool and steady composure as the zeroes continued to pile up across the center-field scoreboard.
The bid ended as Kelly Shoppach dropped a two-out single into shallow left field, but Sabathia’s powerful effort was plenty for the Yankees to cheer about as they coasted to a 10-0 victory over the Rays in front of a Saturday crowd that hung on the hurler’s every movement.
Teixeira also got his first hits of the season, and Cano thinks it’s July.
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