The Blue Jays scored 21 total runs against the Giants on Wednesday and Thursday, so they came into this weekend series swinging the bat well. Instead, they’ve been dominated by a Yankees’ pitching staff that has held them to two total runs in two games. New York won Saturday’s game by the score of 7-2, their eighth win over Toronto in nine meetings this year. Let’s recap…
- Cano Once, Cano Twice: Robinson Cano came into Saturday’s game riding a 10-for-49 slump, but he broke out against Brandon Morrow with a pair of two-run homers. The first was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie in the third inning while the second was a legit blast over the bullpen and into the right field bleachers in the fifth. Robbie had a chance for a third homer, but he struck out in the eighth. Both dingers were hit with two outs, so Joe Girardi‘s decision to bat Cano second instead of third paid some very real dividends. He might not have batting in those innings had he batted third, the spot traditional reserved for the team’s best hitter.
- Season-High: For the first time in his big league career, David Phelps completed seven innings of work. Things got a little hairy in the first thanks to two walks — only nine of his 24 pitches in the inning were strikes — but Jose Bautista wandered too far off second and Phelps picked him off to end the threat. The right-hander struck out eight and got seven ground ball outs, allowing the only run when Curtis Granderson got turned around on a line drive in his first career start in right field. It’s only been four starts, but I don’t see how Ivan Nova gets his rotation spot back when he’s ready to come off the DL. Barring injury, of course. Phelps has been so much better.
- Leftovers: Travis Hafner played for the first time in about a week, hitting a two-run homer in the eighth to break things open … Granderson and David Adams were the only Yankees without hits, but only Cano had multiple knocks … Austin Romine singled in three at-bats and looks way, way more comfortable at the plate now that he’s playing everyday due to Chris Stewart‘s injury … David Robertson allowed a solo homer in the eighth before Boone Logan struck out a pair in a perfect ninth … Jayson Nix singled and struck out twice in four at-bats while seeing eight total pitches … the Yankees are 18-0 when scoring first, the first team in AL history to win its first 18 games when scoring first.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights while FanGraphs has the nerd score. ESPN has the updated standings, which show the Yankees remaining atop the AL East by one game in the loss column over the Red Sox. The Orioles are now three back thanks to another Jim Johnson blown save. The Yankees will look to complete their second sweep of the Blue Jays this season on Sunday, when former Cy Young Award winners CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey square off in a matinee. RAB Tickets has last minute ticket deals.
According to Ben Badler, LHP Omar Rodriguez is listed on the Short Season Staten Island roster. That in an of itself means list — he could be assigned to any affiliate at any time — but it’s an indication the southpaw has secured a visa after getting stuck in Haiti for a few months. The Yankees gave Rodriguez $4M last summer, their last big signing before the international spending restrictions were implemented.
In other news, RHP Chase Whitely has finally been activated off the DL. He missed the start of the season with an oblique problem and has rejoined Triple-A Scranton.
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 loss to Columbus, walk-off style)
- 2B Corban Joseph: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — has been just 2-for-17 (.118) since being send down following the doubleheader against the Indians
- DH Brennan Boesch: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
- LF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-5
- 3B Josh Bell: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K
- RF Thomas Neal: 1-2, 2 BB
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-4, 2 K — 66 strikeouts and four walks in 159 plate appearances (41.5 K% and 2.5 BB%)
- RHP Chase Whitley: 2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 19 of 32 pitches were strikes (59%)
Nine games against the Blue Jays, eight wins. That’s pretty awesome considering how Toronto was crowned the offseason champs while the Yankees were widely picked to finish last following their slews of injury. If they finish off the sweep behind CC Sabathia tomorrow, they will have won their first seven home games from their division rivals to the north. Dominance.
Here is your open thread for the night. MLB Network will air a game later tonight, plus you’ve got NHL and NBA (Knicks!) playoff action. Talk about any of that and more here. Have at it.
The 2013 amateur draft will be held from June 6-8 this year, and between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Marco Gonzales | LHP
A Colorado kid from Fort Collins, Gonzales’ father pitched in the minor leagues for eight years and is a pitching instructor in the Rockies’ system. Marco won four state championships in high school and will leave Gonzaga as one of the best players in school history. He came into the weekend with a 2.57 ERA and a 91/22 K/BB in 98 innings this year.
Listed at a modest 6-foot-1 and 185 lbs., Gonzales stands out for his pitching acumen and two above-average offspeed pitches. His fastball mostly sits in the 88-92 mph range and it might dip below that starting every five days rather than once a week. A fading upper-70s changeup is his put-away offering and one of the best individual pitches in the entire draft. His mid-70s curveball is an average pitch at worst and a second out pitch on most days.
Gonzales is a very good athlete who repeats a simple delivery and commands his entire arsenal to both sides of the plate. He’s very polished, arguably the most polished pitcher in the draft, and he knows how to set hitters up. He also holds runners and fields his position well. Gonzales can hit — he bats cleanup for the Bulldogs and plays first base when he doesn’t pitch — and would get drafted in the top ten rounds as a position player, but that doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. His future lies on the mound and he draws rave reviews for his work ethic and makeup. There are tons of videos on YouTube.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked Gonzales as the 23rd and 28th best prospect in the draft in their latest rankings, respectively. For what it’s worth, Troy Renck said he’s heard the Yankees are among the clubs interested in the left-hander, who doesn’t offer a ton of upside but is as safe as college pitchers come. Guys like Gonzales are popular first round targets for risk-averse teams, so the Bombers might not even get a chance to draft him when their top three picks (26th, 32nd, and 33rd overall) roll around.
Nelson, 27, hit .222/.243/.278 (36 wRC+) in 37 plate appearances for the Yankees after being acquired from the Rockies earlier this month. He finished up his tenure with the team with a nice little 8-for-26 (.308) road trip. The Yankees acquired infielder Reid Brignac from the Rockies earlier today, replacing Alberto Gonzalez.
The Yankees have won seven of their first eight games against the Blue Jays this year, which is pretty close to the best case scenario. Regardless of what happened elsewhere around the league, the Bombers had to take care of business against their division rivals if they wanted to compete despite all of the injury problems. They’ve certainly laid a beating on Toronto so far. Here’s the lineup the Yankees are running out there against right-hander Brandon Morrow…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- DH Travis Hafner
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- RF Curtis Granderson – first career start in right
- SS Jayson Nix
- 3B David Adams
- C Austin Romine
And on the mound is the former Mat-Su Miner in the collegiate summer Alaska Baseball League, right-hander David Phelps.
It’s a little overcast in New York, but there’s no threat of rain or anything. The game is scheduled to start a few minutes after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Eduardo Nunez Update: Nunez (ribcage) is expected to start hitting in the batting cage in a few days. He’s eligible to come off the DL next Tuesday, but David Adams’ nice start and the recently acquired Reid Brignac means there’s no need to rush him.
12:39: Gonzalez has indeed been designated for assignment, the team announced. Brignac will join the team tomorrow, so they’ll be a player short this afternoon.
11:37: Another day, another infielder. The Yankees have acquired Reid Brignac from the Rockies for just $75k in cash, reports Jon Heyman. He’s basically free, at least in baseball terms. No word on the corresponding roster move(s), but I assume he’ll replace Alberto Gonzalez. The team has not yet officially announced anything.
Brignac, 27, was designated for assignment by the Rockies a few days ago. He’s the second infielder New York has acquired from Colorado this month, joining Chris Nelson. Brignac hit .250/.294/.375 (65 wRC+) before being cut, and his career line is .228/.270/.321 (60 wRC+) in 769 plate appearances. He won’t steal any bases or draw walks (career 4.9 BB%). You surely remember him from his time with the Rays from 2008-2012.
As a left-handed bat who grades out as an average or better defender at the three non-first infield positions, Brignac is a marginal upgrade over Gonzalez. He’s probably better suited to play shortstop everyday than Jayson Nix and the currently injured Eduardo Nunez as well, at least against right-handers. The Yankees should be all about marginal upgrades at this point, every little bit of help counts. No word on when he’ll join the team.
Via Jon Heyman: The Yankees have not yet had contract extension talks with either Joe Girardi or Brian Cashman. Cashman is under contract through 2014, so that’s no big deal, but Girardi’s deal expires after this season.
The Yankees do not negotiate new contracts until the current one expires thanks to their archaic team policy, and right now I have no reason to believe they won’t try to bring Girardi back after the season. The team is far exceeding post-injury expectations and the credit for that deservingly goes to the manager. If Girardi doesn’t return, my guess it will be his decision — wants a new challenge, another club makes a huge offer, burnout, etc. — and not the team’s.
RHP Rafael DePaula placed fifth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He’s struck out 69 of 159 batters faced this year (43.4%). Meanwhile, the Yankees have signed 3B Josh Bell according to Chris Cotillo. Bell, 26, was a big prospect just a few years ago, but he’s been done in by poor plate discipline and an 80 swing-and-miss tool. He’s just a warm body for the Triple-A roster, I’ll be surprised if we see him with the big league team at any point.
Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Toledo in ten innings)
- 2B Corban Joseph: 0-5, 2 K
- RF Brennan Boesch: 1-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 2 K – hopefully he gets a few games in at first base while down here
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 0-5, 1 K, 1 E (throwing) — nine hits in his last 41 at-bats (.220)
- 2B Ronnie Mustelier: 3-5, 1 2B, 3 RBI — drove in the go-ahead run in the tenth … seven hits in his last 16 at-bats (.438)
- DH Josh Bell: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K
- RHP Graham Stoneburner: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 4/9 GB/FB — 57 of 99 pitches were strikes
- RHP Sam Demel: 2.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 29 of 51 pitches were strikes
- LHP Clay Rapada: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 11 of 17 pitches were strikes (65%)
The Yankees dropped their last two games to the Mariners, but Hiroki Kuroda made sure his team avoided their first three-game losing streak of the season. The right-hander allowed just two hits and one walk across eight scoreless innings on Friday night, leading the Yankees to their seventh win in eight games against the new-look (but still-awful) Blue Jays. Let’s recap…
- #HIROK: After former Yankee Melky Cabrera doubled to leadoff the game, not a single Toronto hitter made it beyond first base against Kuroda. He sat down 19 of the next 20 men he faced and threw only 20 of his 108 pitches from the stretch. This was Kuroda at his best — lots of weak contact and easy outs. When the Yankees needed a strong outing to spare their short bullpen and pickup a weak lineup, he was up to the task and then some. Love this guy.
- Early Runs: Mark Buehrle has had a rough go of it in the AL East, and Yankees jumped on him early for a one-run lead. Brett Gardner saw Melky’s leadoff double and raised him a leadoff triple, then came in to score on Robinson Cano‘s ground out. Jayson Nix plated an insurance run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the fifth, then the Bombers blew it open with a three-run seventh. Austin Romine‘s two-strike double opened the floodgates, plating one run and setting up two more. That third time through the order did in Buehrle.
- Leftovers: Preston Claiborne finished things off with a scoreless ninth, though he did put men at second and third before recording the final out … David Adams continued to impress with a 2-for-4 night that included a ground-rule double and two runs scored … Romine and Gardner had two knocks apiece while Nix didn’t have an official at-bat, instead walking twice and hitting two sac flies … the 3-6 hitters went a combined 1-for-16 with a walk and five strikeouts … for the fifth time in the last six games, the Yankees did not hit a homer … in case you’re wondering, the Rangers are the only other team in baseball without a three-game losing streak.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees remain atop the AL East by one game over the Red Sox and two over the Orioles. They’ll send David Phelps to the mound on Saturday afternoon against Brandon Morrow. Check out RAB Tickets for last minute … well, tickets.