(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

After six games on the road, the Yankees are finally back in the Bronx. The team kicks off a nine-game homestand with their home opener this afternoon, assuming the weather cooperates. The forecast calls for showers later today, but it appears they will hold off long enough to get the game in. It will be cloudy and smell like smoke, however.

Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will throw out the ceremonial first pitches to Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter before the game. The Core Four, you see. I guess Bernie Williams drew the short straw. Jeter should get a massive standing ovation before his first at-bat since this is his final home opener. He’ll get cheered all season long, no doubt about it, but I think today’s ovation will be the biggest until his final home game. Should be fun.

Modest goal for today: get the leadoff guy out. The first batter of the first inning is 6-for-6 with two singles, a double, and three homers against the Yankees this season. Seriously. After giving up three leadoff homers in 2012 and 2013 combined, they’ve allowed three in their first six games of 2014. I’m not asking too much, am I? Here is the Orioles lineup and here is Joe Girardi‘s starting lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alfonso Soriano
  7. 2B Brian Roberts
  8. 1B Kelly Johnson
  9. 3B Yangervis Solarte
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Like I said before, it’s cloudy but the rain is supposed to hold off until later this afternoon. Not the best baseball weather, but they’ll live. The Yankees say pre-game ceremonies will begin at 12:44pm ET, and first pitch is scheduled for 1:08pm ET. You can watch today’s game live on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Categories : Game Threads
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(Rob Carr/Getty)

(Rob Carr/Getty)

After opening the season with six straight games on the road (in parks with roofs, no less), the Yankees are finally back home in the Bronx. Their first homestand of the year opens this afternoon with the AL East rival Orioles in town for a three-game set. Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera will throw out the ceremonial first pitches to Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter in the home opener this afternoon. Neato.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Orioles beat the Tigers yesterday, but they lost four straight games before that. Baltimore is 2-4 with a -9 run differential, which … doesn’t really mean much of anything these days. It’s too early to worry about win-loss records.

Offense
Few teams boast as much power as the Orioles. They led baseball with 212 homeruns last season, but because they don’t have many high on base players, they only had a team 100 wRC+ and averaged 4.60 runs per game. This year, they’ve swatted only three homers, so they’re sitting on a team 68 wRC+ with 20 runs in six games (3.33 per). They are currently without 3B Manny Machado (101 wRC+ in 2013), who is recovering from offseason knee surgery. OF Nolan Reimold (52) is out with a neck problem as well.

Cruz. (Presswire)

Cruz. (Presswire)

Manager and former Yankees skipper Buck Showalter has three legitimate 30+ homer bats in the middle of his lineup. 1B Chris Davis (167 wRC+ in 2013/95 wRC+ in 2014) led the world with 53 homers last season. Adam Jones (118/88) hit 33 of his own, his second straight year over 30 and third year over 25. OF Nelson Cruz (122/143) has hit two of their three homers this season, and last year he slugged 27 dingers before his 50-game Biogenesis suspension. SS J.J. Hardy (99/101) can hit some balls over the fence as well. He is day-to-day with back spasms.

The other notables in the lineup are OF Nick Markakis (87/59) and C Matt Wieters (86/165), who embody the team’s development problems. Both guys had big seasons earlier in the career but then plateaued and never improved. (Wieters has the team’s other homer.) IF Steve Lombardozzi (67/84), IF Ryan Flaherty (83/-64), and IF Jonathan Schoop (128/-53) are splitting time at second and third. OF David Lough (96/9) is the primary left fielder with Cruz at DH, plus both OF Delmon Young (98/35) and OF/1B Steve Pearce (115/-100) serve as righty bats off the bench. They haven’t hit this year, but the Orioles can change the complexion of a game with one swing of the bat.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
The Orioles were patient and played the market well this winter — whether that was by design is another matter entirely — landing the 30-year-old Jimenez on a favorable contract right as Spring Training opened. He had his best season in years in 2013, pitching to a 3.30 ERA (3.43 FIP) in 182.2 innings for the Indians. His strikeout rate (9.56 K/9 and 25.0 K%) was excellent, his walk (3.94 BB/9 and 10.3 BB%) and ground ball (43.9%) numbers less so. Jimenez actually had a reverse split last summer, holding lefties to a .296 wOBA while righties got him for .318 wOBA. Ubaldo is a true five-pitch pitcher, meaning he uses all five pitches fairly regularly. His low-90s fastball sets up his mid-80s splitter, low-80s slider, low-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball. Jimenez allowed four runs in six innings to the Red Sox in his first start. He can be dominant, but he also might be the most unpredictable pitcher in the game.

Don't call me Bruce. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Don’t call me Bruce. (Leon Halip/Getty)

Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Chen, 28, is now in his third MLB season. He had a 4.07 ERA (4.04 FIP) in 137 innings around an oblique injury last summer, with poor strikeout (6.82 K/9 and 18.2 K%) and ground ball (34.4%) rates. He did limit walks though (2.56 BB/9 and 6.8 BB%). Chen has the standard issue four-pitch mix, so a low-90s fastball, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and low-70s curveball. The changeup is his top secondary pitch, though righties (.330 wOBA) still give him a harder time than lefties (.306 wOBA). Chen got knocked around in his first start of the year, allowing four runs on 12 hits to the Red Sox.

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (Career vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Man, Gonzalez dominated the Yankees back in 2012. He started three games against New York that year (postseason included), allowing only five runs on 15 hits and one walk in 20.2 innings. He struck out 25. Domination. Thankfully, that changed last season, when the 29-year-old allowed 16 runs with a 19/13 K/BB in 29 innings against New York. Gonzalez had a 3.78 ERA (4.45 FIP) in 171.1 innings overall last summer, though his peripherals were mediocre: 6.30 K/9 (16.9 K%), 2.78 BB/9 (7.4 BB%), and 38.9% grounders. He has a reverse platoon split — lefties have a .305 wOBA, righties a .325 wOBA — in parts of three big league seasons. Gonzalez’s break and butter is a nasty split-changeup hybrid that sits in the low-80s. He sets it up with a low-90s fastball and also throws a low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball. That split-change keeps him in MLB. Gonzalez got creamed in his first start of 2014, allowing seven runs on nine hits (including two homers) in 3.1 innings.

Hunter. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Hunter. (Getty)

Bullpen Status
With Jim Johnson currently blowing games for the Athletics, RHP Tommy Hunter (3.68 FIP in 2013/1.68 FIP in 2014) has taken over ninth inning duties for Baltimore. Considering how the Yankees always seemed to get to Johnson, that’s probably bad news for New York. Hunter threw 14 pitches yesterday.

RHP Ryan Webb (3.60/8.33), RHP Darren O’Day (3.5/2.18), and RHP Evan Meek (4.59/4.18) are all part of the setup crew, as is LHP Brian Matusz (2.91/5.58). LHP Zach Britton (4.80/2.93) and RHP Josh Stinson (5.40/4.00) are long relievers. Everyone in Baltimore’s bullpen is well rested. It’s too early in the season for guys to have big workloads, even over just the last few days. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ relievers, then check out Camden Chat for the latest and greatest on the O’s.

Categories : Series Preview
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Record Last Week: 3-3 (20 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 3-3 (20 RS, 22 RA, 3-3 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), vs. Red Sox (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

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Source: FanGraphs

What started out as a laugher turned into a bit of a nail-biter. The Yankees had a five-run lead at one point on Sunday afternoon, but by the time the 27th out was recorded, the Blue Jays had the tying run on base. Let’s recap the 6-4 win, bullet points style (it’s Sunday, give me a break):

  • Three Runs, One Hit: The first inning three-run rally was not an inning the 2013 team could have put together. The Yankees took advantage of Drew Hutchison’s wildness, turning two walks and a hit batsman into three runs with only one base hit. Jacoby Ellsbury drove in Brett Gardner with a ground ball, then Kelly Johnson clubbed a two-run double off the wall. Last year’s offense would have hacked at everything. This team will take the walks.
  • All With Two Outs: For the first 5.2 innings of this game, CC Sabathia was excellent. Sure, he allowed the leadoff homer to Melky Cabrera, but he retired 16 of the next 17 batters after that. In the sixth, the Blue Jays pushed across three runs — all with two outs too, yuck — on a bloop single and three ground ball hits. That uglified Sabathia’s line, but I thought his start was very encouraging. He looked like he did from innings three through six against the Astros. That two-out rally was a killer. Brooks Baseball has his pitch breakdown.
  • A Homer!: The Yankees finally hit their first home run of the season on Sunday, in their 49th offensive inning. Brett Gardner did the honors, naturally. It looked like some meaningless tack-on runs at the time, but it ended up being a huge homer after Toronto scored those three runs in the sixth.
  • Bullpen: For the first time this year, David Robertson made things interesting in the ninth. He put two runners on base (single and a walk) with one out, but otherwise escaped the jam with a pop-up and a fly ball. Shawn Kelley allowed a hit in the eighth and Adam Warren retired all three men he faced in the seventh. He’s looked very good in his two outings.
  • Leftovers: Derek Jeter went 2-for-5, moving him ahead of Paul Molitor and into eighth place on the all-time hits list (ninth if you count pre-1900s Cap Anson) … in his 19th plate appearance of the season, Alfonso Soriano blooped a single for his first hit of 2014 … every starter had a hit except for Brian Roberts, who drew a walk … Ichiro Suzuki went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts, only the 18th three-strikeout game of his career … Sabathia threw a first pitch strike to 22 of 25 batters faced, including 20 in a row to close out his day (!).

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees are done with their six-game road trip and will head home for the first time this season. Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada will all be involved in the ceremonial first pitch ceremony in the home opener matinee on Monday afternoon.

Categories : Game Stories
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The season-opening six-game road trip did not go great, but it wasn’t a disaster either. I would have loved to see the Yankees come home with four or five wins in the bank, but three will do. Considering how Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda looked, it’s tough to complain about the results. I’m exciting to see what this club can do whenever Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano start hitting.

Here is your open thread for the night. Dodgers-Giants is the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Greinke vs. Cain), plus the Islanders are playing. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Categories : Open Thread
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Triple-A Scranton Game One (3-0 loss to Syracuse in seven innings) make up of Friday’s rainout

  • RF Ramon Flores, LF Zoilo Almonte & DH Russ Canzler: all 0-3, 1 K
  • 3B Scott Sizemore: 2-3, 1 2B, 1 K — three weeks and four days until he can opt-out
  • 1B Corban Joseph & C John Ryan Murphy: both 0-3
  • RHP Chase Whitley: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 31 of 47 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP David Herndon: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB – nine of 12 pitches were strikes … I guess he didn’t opt out of his contract last Sunday
  • RHP Graham Stoneburner: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 4/1 GB/FB – 25 of 37 pitches were strikes (68%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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Honestly can't remember the last time some idiot didn't run on the field during a series in Toronto. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Can’t remember the last time some idiot didn’t run on the field during a series in Toronto. (Getty)

For the fourth time in the last six years, the Yankees opened the season on the road. Their season-opening six-game road trip comes to end this afternoon, in the rubber game against the Blue Jays. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda were both impressive these last two days, but now the rotation turns back over to CC Sabathia. His first start was awful early and great late. Hopefully he continues that roll he was on from innings three through six against the Astros.

I was hoping the Yankees would walk away from this trip with four or even five wins in the bank. It is the Astros and Blue Jays, not for nothing. Instead, they need to win today just to split the six games and go home with minor league signee Yangervis Solarte as arguably their hottest hitter. Grab a win this afternoon, fly home on the heels of a series win, then enjoy the home opener tomorrow afternoon. Maybe even hit a homer. Sounds like a plan. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alfonso Soriano
  6. 1B Kelly Johnson
  7. 2B Brian Roberts
  8. RF Ichiro Suzuki
  9. 3B Yangervis Solarte
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s sunny and warm in Toronto today, so the Rogers Centre roof might actually be open for the game. Either way, the Yankees will definitely play outdoors tomorrow, when they return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since saying goodbye to Mariano Rivera last season. I can’t wait. Anyway, you can watch this game live on YES and, depending on where you live, MLB Network. Enjoy.

Categories : Game Threads
Comments (420)
  • Chad Curtis: From World Series hero to deluded monster
    By

    If you’re looking for some Sunday morning reading, here is a harrowing story from Greg Hanlon about former Yankees outfielder Chad Curtis, who was recently sentenced to 7-15 years in prison for molesting students at the Michigan high school where he worked. Curtis is completely insane and delusion, blaming the victims and using religion to justify his actions. It’s a long and somewhat terrifying read that details the incidents, the court cases, his troubles in MLB clubhouses, and much more. Check it out. Scary, scary stuff. · (54) ·

Following Friday night’s seven-run outburst, the Mark Teixeira-less lineup went right back to sleep. The Yankees were shut out by R.A. Dickey and the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon by the score of 4-0. It was 1-0 until the bottom of the eighth.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Big Mike Is Here To Stay
The Yankees have been waiting a long time for this. Michael Pineda finally made his first start for the club on Saturday, two years and one shoulder surgery after being originally acquired from the Mariners. He looked very good in Spring Training but that only means so much. The regular season is a different animal, as is the Blue Jays lineup and their hitter-friendly ballpark. The Yankees were probably hoping he would be their ace by now, but instead he is the fifth starter and an unknown.

In his first big league start since September 2011, Pineda held that Blue Jays lineup to one run in six innings of work. A well-struck double and a bloop single led to the run in the second inning, but not after he threw the first scoreless first inning (!) of the team’s season. The other four starters allowed at least one run in the first inning in their starts. Crazy. Pineda struck out five, walked zero, and got six ground ball outs and six air ball outs. He threw 58 of 83 pitches for strikes (70%), including eleven swings and misses. Here is the breakdown, courtesy of Brooks Baseball:

  • 31 fastballs, 17 strikes, two swings and misses, averaged 94.4 mph, topped out at 96.1 mph
  • 33 sliders, 27 strikes (!), seven swings and misses, averaged 84.2 mph, topped out at 86.8 mph
  • 18 cutters, 13 strikes, two swings and misses, averaged 94.3 mph, topped out at 96.1 mph
  • one changeup, one strike, 88.4 mph

The first time through the order, left-handed batters went 4-for-5 with two doubles against Pineda while righties went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. He came to the Yankees in a need of a changeup to better combat batters of the opposite hand, and he still needs that two years later. Changeups don’t magically develop while on the DL, apparently. After that first time through the order though, Pineda retired 12 of the final 13 batters faced, including all six lefties. Like Masahiro Tanaka on Friday, he shook off a slow start to the game and finished very strong.

Pineda topped out at 75 pitches or so in Spring Training, so it was no surprise Joe Girardi lifted him when he did. They need to take it easy on him following the shoulder surgery, especially early in the season. This is no time to push things. Pineda always stood out from other live-armed youngsters because of his control, and that is evident in all those strikes he threw. Thirteen of 22 batters faced got a first pitch strike and seven saw an 0-2 count. Four batters saw a three-ball count and only two saw a two-ball count after the second inning. Pineda was very, very good. This was a fantastic and tremendously encouraging start.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Middle of the LOLineup
What an ugly game for the rebuilt middle of the order. Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Alfonso Soriano each went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and they combined to kill a pair of rallies. With two on and no outs in the sixth, Beltran bounced into a 6-4-3 double play and McCann lined out softly to short. In the same situation in the eighth, Beltran and Soriano sandwiched strikeouts around a McCann ground out. Soriano struck out on a pitch that bounced about five feet in front of the plate. Why Girardi didn’t pinch-hit Brett Gardner for Soriano against the fresh out of the bullpen righty in the eighth, I’ll never know.

McCann came into the game with four hits in 13 at-bats (.308), but neither Beltran (now 3-for-19) nor Soriano (0-for-16!) have yet to get going. Those guys have to start hitting and soon. The Yankees can’t rely on Yangervis Solarte and Ichiro Suzuki spot starts to drive the offense, especially with Teixeira injured and no bonafide superstar like Robinson Cano to anchor the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury did his part again (3-for-4) and Derek Jeter was on base twice, but no one was able to bring them home. Ugly.

The Yankees blew two on, two out rallies in the fifth and seventh thanks to a Dean Anna strikeout and a Brian Roberts pinch-hit pop-up, respectively. The score was still close then. Ellsbury struck out to end in the game with two on in the ninth inning, but by then the score had gotten out of hand. So, if you’re keeping score at home, the Yankees had two runners on base in each of the last five innings, but scored zero runs. This lineup is partying like it’s 2013.

D-AAA-vid Phelps
So yeah, David Phelps is not right. Either not right or just not very good. After getting roughed up in his first appearance the other day, Phelps allowed three runs on three hits in two innings on Saturday, putting a winnable game completely out of reach. The three hits all came in a row: Melky Cabrera homer, Colby Rasmus ground-rule double, Jose Bautista homer. That’s three homers allowed in 3.1 innings. At this rate the Yankees offense won’t be able to out-homer Phelps. Unless they’re going to send him to Triple-A Scranton in favor of someone like Cesar Cabral or Preston Claiborne, they have to keep him out of close games. Mop-up duty only.

Leftovers
Weird moment to end the third inning, when Frankie Cervelli was thrown out at the plate on Ellsbury’s single. It appeared as though catcher Josh Thole blocked the plate before he had the ball, which is not allowed under the new rules. He had to stand there to catch the throw, however. Girardi argued, the umpires reviewed the play — Girardi did not challenge, it was the umpire’s call to review — and they determined he did not block the plate. Of course, replays showed Cervelli probably slid under the tag anyway. Girardi didn’t challenge the safe/out call within the designated time because he was arguing the block. Surprisingly, not everyone has the new plate blocking rules down pat five games into the new season.

Solarte took a 92 mph Aaron Loup fastball to the side of his right knee in the seventh inning and was in quite a bit of pain. He stayed on the ground and was looked at by the trainer for a little while, but eventually limped down to first and remained in the game. Seems to be fine even though it looked quite painful. He went 2-for-3 at the plate. Cervelli went 2-for-3 with a double. Like Solarte, he was also hit by a pitch. Kelly Johnson went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and the Anna/Roberts mash-up went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Between Pineda and Phelps, Vidal Nuno walked Adam Lind on six pitches. If you’re the second lefty in the bullpen, walking the only left-handed batter you face probably isn’t a good way to climb up the depth chart. It didn’t come back to hurt them, but still. throw strikes, Vidal.

The Yankees still have not hit a homerun this season, hence the Phelps joke earlier. It’s their fifth streak of 5+ homerless games this century; they did it once in 2006 and three times last year. The Royals are the only other team without a homer this season. Where have you gone, Bronx Bombers?

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some nerdier stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Blue Jays will play the rubber game of the three-game series on Sunday afternoon. The rotation turns back over, so CC Sabathia will get the ball against Drew Hutchison. It’s the last game of their six-game, season-opening road trip. Baseball will be back in the Bronx on Monday.

Categories : Game Stories
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OF Tyler Austin left Extended Spring Training in Tampa and is on his way to Double-A Trenton, according to his mother’s Twitter feed. Yes, his mother’s Twitter feed. Austin’s missed a chunk of last season with a wrist problem and it slowed him down again in camp. He was behind the other position players, so he stayed back in ExST to prepare. Glad he’s back so soon.

Triple-A Scranton‘s doubleheader was rained out. They will make up one game as part of a doubleheader tomorrow and the other as part of a doubleheader on June 26th.

Double-A Trenton (6-5 win over New Hampshire, walk-off style)

  • CF Mason Williams: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB — walk-off single … he’s off to a nice start
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K — still looking for his first hit of the year
  • 3B Rob Segedin: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • C Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — has two hits this year, and they’re both doubles
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 2 K
  • RHP Zach Nuding: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 9/1 GB/FB — 60 of 95 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • SwP Pat Venditte: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — 18 of 29 pitches were strikes (62%)

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Categories : Down on the Farm
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