Triple-A Scranton, Double-A Trenton, Low-A Charleston, and Short Season Staten Island all had scheduled off-days. Weird. The SI Yanks are off until Wednesday for the All-Star break. The actual game will be played tomorrow.
High-A Tampa (5-4 loss to Daytona)
- CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 4-4, 1 R, 1 B, 1 HBP — had four hits in his previous 20 at-bats
- LF Ben Gamel: 1-5
- RHP Branden Pinder: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 3/2 GB/FB – he walked three batters total in his previous 33 innings
- SwP Pat Venditte: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB
The Yankees got a monkey off their back by winning their first series in almost six weeks yesterday, but they still haven’t won back-to-back games in exactly one month now — they beat Royals on July 11th and the Twins on July 12th. That was right before the All-Star break. Everything is set up for them to win that elusive second straight game tonight against the woeful Angels, who are starting a pitcher who was recently a short reliever (Garrett Richards) against staff ace Hiroki Kuroda. Here’s the lineup Joe Girardi is running out there:
- CF Brett Gardner
- DH Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- RF Curtis Granderson
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is Kuroda, who leads the AL with a 165 ERA+. He is coming off his worst start in six weeks and it wasn’t all that bad anyway: three runs in seven innings. Kuroda is like sex — even when he’s bad, he’s still pretty good.
It’s warm and humid in New York, and there might be some showers later on tonight. Hopefully they won’t impact the game at all. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Enjoy.
- Derek Jeter (calf) played catch over the weekend and will hit off a tee and soft toss today. The Cap’n is still a few days away from running, however. Joe Girardi said he expects Jeter to go down to Tampa to continue his rehab when the Yankees start their quick little three-game road trip on Friday.
- Kevin Youkilis (back) has “been rehabbing away, nothing fun, no baseball things yet.” He is roughly eight weeks out from surgery and was originally expected to start taking dry swings after 8-10 weeks. Youkilis remains unlikely to return this year.
- Travis Hafner (shoulder) is not yet ready to start baseball activities, according to Girardi. “He feels better,” said the skipper while also making it sound like the team’s rehab DH is unlikely to return this season.
- Vidal Nuno (groin) started a throwing program according to his Twitter feed. Brian Cashman recently said they don’t expect him back this year, but I wonder if he’ll progress enough to come back as a short reliever when rosters expand in September.
- Ty Hensley (hip) also started a throwing program according to his Twitter feed. He’s coming off hip surgery and is expected to miss the entire season. Obviously the Yankees will be very conservative with last year’s first round pick. Hensley is unlikely to see a real game until next season.
What was once a great battle between two of baseball’s best teams has devolved into a meeting of broken down fringe contenders. Yankees-Angels doesn’t have the same kind of excitement it once did … or should I say dread? The Angels had New York’s number for the better part of a decade. The two teams will play four games in Yankee Stadium this week, their second and final meeting of the season after the Yankees lost two of three in Anaheim back in June.
What Have They Done Lately?
Despite taking two of three from the Indians this weekend, the Halos have lost five of their last seven games and 14 of their last 21 games. At 53-63 with a -17 run differential, the Angels are in fourth place in the AL West and well out of a playoff spot.
This isn’t a surprise, but Mike Scioscia’s team can score a lot of runs. They average 4.6 runs per game with a team 109 wRC+, both well-above-average marks even though 1B Albert Pujols (111 wRC+) is done for the year with a foot problem. The Angels are also without certified Yankees killer 2B Howie Kendrick (116 wRC+), who just landed on the DL with a knee injury, and OF Peter Bourjos (142 wRC+), who has been out for a while with a broken wrist. That’s three pretty important players right there.
The team’s offense now revolves around Mike Trout (176 wRC+), baseball’s best all-around player. 1B Mark Trumbo (108 wRC+) and C Chris Iannetta (106 wRC+) are Scioscia’s only other healthy above-average regulars at the moment. OF Josh Hamilton (88 wRC+) has been a major disappointment and others like SS Erick Aybar (96 wRC+) and OF J.B. Shuck (97 wRC+) aren’t anything special. Personal fave OF Kole Calhoun (168 wRC+) has torn the cover off the ball in a whopping 51 plate appearances.
IF Grant Green (63 wRC+) came over from the Athletics at the trade deadline and has actually played well for the Halos (194 wRC+ in very limited time). He was awful during his brief time with Oakland, hence the poor overall numbers. OF Colin Cowgill (68 wRC+), IF Tommy Field (-31 wRC+ in very limited time), backup C Hank Conger (98 wRC+), and former Yankee IF Chris Nelson (57 wRC+) round out the rest of the position player crop. Because of their pitching issues, the Angels currently have a 13-man pitching staff and a three-man bench.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Garrett Richards
Richards, 25, moved into the rotation not too long ago because Joe Blanton was just terrible (5.52 ERA and 4.83 FIP). He’s got a 4.20 ERA (3.41 FIP) in seven starts and 30 relief appearances this year, though he’s more about limiting walks (2.52 BB/9 and 6.7 BB%) and getting grounders (57.5%) than missing bats (6.41 K/9 and 16.9 K%). Richards has done a good job of keeping the ball in the park (0.63 HR/9 and 9.7% HR/FB) by using three mid-90s fastballs (four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter) to set up his mid-80s slider. He’ll also throw some rare upper-70s curveballs and upper-80s changeups. The Yankees have seen Richards just twice before, one start (six runs in five innings in 2011) and one relief appearance (scoreless inning in 2012).
Tuesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. TBA
This spot is technically listed as TBA, but is it expected to be right-hander Tommy Hanson. This been a really, really rough year for the 26-year-old, who has pitched terribly (5.59 ERA and 4.80 FIP), missed more than a month with a forearm strain, and missed about a month following the death of his stepbrother. Yeah, rough. None of Hanson’s peripherals stand out in a good way — 6.92 K/9 (17.1 K%), 3.72 BB/9 (9.2 BB%), 1.33 HR/9 (10.3% HR/FB), and 32.9% grounders — though his fastball has jumped back into the low-90s in recent starts. He also has three offspeed pitches in a low-80s changeup, upper-70s slider, and low-70s curveball. It’s worth noting lefties have crushed Hanson this year (.380 wOBA), though righties have hit him well too (.340 wOBA). The Yankees have seen him three times with mixed results over the years, including a two-run, 6.1-inning start earlier this season.
Wednesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Jered Weaver
A fractured left elbow sidelined Weaver for roughly six weeks earlier this season, but when healthy he’s been pretty great (2.87 ERA and 3.56 FIP). The 30-year-old has consistently outpitched his peripherals — 7.14 K/9 (19.4 K%), 2.09 BB/9 (5.8 BB%), 0.87 HR/9 (7.7% HR/FB), and 33.6% grounders — over the years in part because he generates a ton of infield and generally weak pop-ups. Weaver is a legitimate six-pitch pitcher, though he has been using mid-80s cutter less than ever before this season. His mid-to-upper-80s two and four-seam fastballs set up a low-80s slider, upper-80s changeup, and low-80s curveball. Weaver has faced the Yankees plenty of times over the years, and he’s typically had his trouble with them (5.19 ERA in 69.1 innings).
Thursday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP C.J. Wilson
Wilson, 32, had a subpar first season in Anaheim, but he’s been pretty damn good in his follow-up campaign (3.49 ERA and 3.28 FIP). He’s striking guys out (8.45 K/9 and 21.6 K%), limiting homers (0.59 HR/9 and 7.0% HR/FB), and getting grounders (46.0%). Wilson will hand out some free passes (3.49 BB/9 and 8.9 BB%), however. Three fastballs (low-90s two and four-seamers, upper-80s cutters) and three offspeed pitches (mid-80s changeup, low-80s sliders, and upper-70s curveballs) fill out his six-pitch arsenal. It’s worth noting Wilson has had some trouble against righties this year (.314 wOBA), but he’s done the job against lefties (.252 wOBA). The Yankees have faced the former Rangers southpaw a whole bunch of times these last few seasons. No secrets here.
With a 4.37 ERA (4.10 FIP), the Angels have one of the worst bullpens in baseball. Their big free agent signings (RHP Ryan Madson and LHP Sean Burnett) haven’t worked due to injury, and closer RHP Ernesto Frieri (4.11 FIP) has been meltdown-prone. RHP Kevin Jepsen (2.92 FIP) and former Yankees farmhand RHP Dane De La Rosa (3.03 FIP) has been very good in setup roles, but the rest of the bullpen is a skeleton crew: RHP J.C. Gutierrez (4.03 FIP), LHP Nick Maronde (7.55 FIP in very limited time), LHP Buddy Boshers (0.05 FIP in super limited time), RHP Michael Kohn (4.64 FIP), and Blanton.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have a heavily used and worn out bullpen at the moment. Their four best relievers all threw 19+ pitches yesterday and, outside of Adam Warren, their B-squad threw 30+ pitches on Saturday. Dellin Betances was called up yesterday to give the team a fresh arm, but it’s clear Joe Girardi doesn’t trust him in important spots yet — Joba Chamberlain was warming up for the potential tenth inning yesterday after throwing 30 pitches the day before. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out True Grich for the best Angels blogginess around.
Mariano Rivera has accomplished an awful lot in his Hall of Fame career, but one thing he had never done prior to these last few days was blow three consecutive save opportunities. I guess that’s not really much of an accomplishment. Anyway, Rivera blew a one-run lead against the White Sox on Wednesday before squandering two-run leads against the Tigers on Friday and Sunday. The Yankees managed to come back to win the two games against Detroit.
“There’s always going to be a first time. I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” said Rivera to Chad Jennings when asked about the three straight blown saves. “It’s not surprising. You’re talking about professional hitters. At the same time, I’m not putting the ball where I want it.”
PitchFX confirms Rivera has not had a dip in velocity recently nor has his trademark cutter lost any bite — the pitch is still sitting in the low-90s with roughly 2-4 inches of horizontal break. Nothing out of the ordinary there. As Rivera indicated, it’s all about location. Here is the game-tying hit he surrendered to Adam Dunn on Wednesday:
Notice where Austin Romine wanted the pitch — down and on the outside corner — compared to where it actually ended up. Thigh high and right down the middle, pretty much. That was an 0-2 pitch, and you probably remember the first two strikes were called on borderline outside cutters. Maybe even pitches that were off the plate. Romine and Rivera went back to that well a third time but Mo didn’t execute.
Dunn slapping a ball the other way for a single is a rarity. That just isn’t his game. Miguel Cabrera hitting homeruns is not; it’s just what he does. Over the weekend, the reigning AL MVP took Rivera deep not once, but twice in the blown saves. Here’s his two-run shot from Friday, which tied the game:
That was a pretty epic at-bat, as you probably remember. Cabrera fouled two balls off his leg and was hobbling around badly between pitches — at one point he was using his bat like a cane — yet he managed to remain in the game. The game-tying homer came in a 2-2 count after Rivera busted him inside repeatedly, hence the two foul balls of the leg. Chris Stewart set up inside one more time but Rivera again missed his spot, this time knee-high and out over the plate. That’s a pitch great hitters like Miggy will crush, and in this instance it left the park.
The homerun Cabrera hit on Sunday did not tie the game, but it did turn a two-run lead into the one-run lead for the Yankees. Again, Rivera missed his spot in a bad way:
Stewart and Rivera mixed things up in this at-bat after getting beat on Friday, pitching to both sides of the plate rather than pounding Cabrera inside. The 2-2 pitch was supposed to be down and away — you can even argue Stewart was set up too far over the plate — and Mo simply missed up. The pitch was on the outer half as intended, but rather than come in at the knees it came in at the belt. Cabrera took advantage of the short porch and drove it out the other way.
The third homer of the weekend, the one that actually tied Sunday’s game and clinched that third blown save, was more good hitting than bad pitching. Unlike the last three pitches in this post, Rivera didn’t miss his spot by all that much:
Stewart wanted the 0-1 pitch up towards the top of the zone and inside, and Rivera wound up coming up-and-in even more than desired. That’s not a bad thing, up-and-in pitches are a great way to induce weak contact. Mo has been breaking left-handed hitter’s bats with that pitch for nearly two decades now. Martinez just pulled his hands in and yanked the ball to right for the game-tying solo homer. Rivera missed his spot but not necessarily in a bad way. This pitch didn’t leak back out into the hitting zone like the others. Martinez is just a really smart hitter.
Missing location is not something we see Mo do all that often. We’re not just talking about a pitcher with great command here. We’re talking about a pitcher with historically great command. That Rivera is blowing these saves because he’s missing his spots rather than losing velocity or movement off his cutter is actually somewhat encouraging because you would expect him to work out the location problems. It’s hard to imagine Mo will struggle with his command for an extended period of time. It’s possible, sure, but tough to expect. If his stuff was disappearing, it would be a much bigger problem.
The weird thing about Rivera’s recent struggles is that they really don’t matter all that much. The Yankees’ odds of making the postseason are microscopic — 2.3% according to Baseball Prospectus, and they’re seven games back with four teams ahead of them — so a blown save here or there isn’t the end of the world regarding the club’s 2013 outlook. Rivera is also retiring after this year, so the long-term concern is nil. Still, no one wants to see him finish his career on a down note, so hopefully Mo will right the ship and soon. Since it’s just a command problem, I’m extremely confident he’ll get things sorted out very quickly.
Via Ben Badler: Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu has successfully defected and will try to sign with an MLB team. He’s in the Caribbean somewhere and it typically takes a few months for players to establish residency, be declared a free agent by MLB, and get cleared by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Abreu, 26, is said to be “an intelligent hitter without a lot of effort in in his swing and the power to hit 30-plus homers in a season … (though) some scouts consider his bat speed only fair.” He has a unorthodox double toe-tap and, like many Cuban hitters, is prone to breaking balls off the plate. Abreu is a big boy — he’s listed at 6-foot-2 and 258lbs. — with outrageous numbers in Cuba, including a .382/.525/.735 line this year and .394/.542/.837 last year. There’s plenty of video on YouTube.
Mike Napoli and Kendrys Morales are the best first basemen scheduled to hit the free agent market this winter, so Abreu’s defection came at a good time for him. Speculation is he could get a deal worth upwards of $70M, which strikes me as insane for a bad body, right/right first baseman with no defensive value or big league track record. The Yankees have already met their quota for big money first baseman, so I doubt they’ll get into the mix on Abreu. · (84) ·
Record Last Week: 2-4 (20 RS, 33 RA)
Season Record: 59-57 (440 RS, 464 RA, 55-61 pythag. record), 10 GB ALE/7.0 GB WC
Opponents This Week: vs. Angels (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Red Sox (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week started with a pair of Biogenesis-related suspensions: Alex Rodriguez (211 games) and Frankie Cervelli (50 games). A-Rod appealed his suspension and has since returned to the lineup. Both guys were fined a day’s pay by the team for minor infractions.
- After that, the Yankees opened a three-game series with a lowly White Sox in Chicago. The ChiSox crushed Andy Pettitte in the opener, and afterwards the team held a closed-door meeting. The Yankees responded by losing Tuesday’s game before getting swept on a walk-off in the finale.
- Following an off-day, the Tigers came to town for a three-game weekend series. Brett Gardner‘s single gave the Yankees a walk-off win on Friday, but Detroit rebounded to clobber New York the next day. The Bombers took their first series in more than a month thanks to Gardner’s walk-off homer yesterday.
- Injury News: Derek Jeter (calf) was placed on the DL for the third time this season. Michael Pineda (shoulder) was placed on the Triple-A DL with tightness. David Phelps (forearm) has a new strain and will be shutdown for two weeks. Cervelli (elbow) doesn’t need surgery. Vidal Nuno (groin) is unlikely to return this year. First round pick OF Aaron Judge (quad) is on the DL.
- Brent Lillibridge was designated for assignment to clear room on the roster for A-Rod. He has since cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A. Dellin Betances was called up to give the team a fresh bullpen arm. David Adams was sent down in a corresponding move. The Cubs claimed Thomas Neal off waivers.
- The Yankees continue to look for help at third base even after A-Rod returned and the trade deadline passed.
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For the first time in more than a month, the Yankees have won a series outright. All it took was two Mariano Rivera blown saves and an opponent that had won 12 straight games coming into the series. Baseball is weird sometimes. Brett Gardner‘s second walk-off hit in three days gave New York a 5-4 win over the Tigers on Sunday.
For the first time in his Hall of Fame career, Rivera has blown three consecutive saves. Solo homers by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez tied the game at four in the ninth. At least they’re good hitters, I suppose. It was only the third time since becoming a reliever that Rivera allowed multiple homers in an outing, and the first time he’s ever done it in a save situation. Needless to say, this was a rarity.
Thankfully, Gardner was there to save the day again. He won Friday’s game with a walk-off ground ball single through the left side, but Sunday’s walk-off hit was far more convincing. Former Yankee Jose Veras caught way too much of the plate with a two-out fastball, a two-out fastball Gardner pounded into the second deck in right field for the game-winning homer. His career-high eighth homer was far from a cheapie. It was a no-doubter off the bat. I had no idea Brett had that in him. Kinda cool.
A-Rod Makes An Impact
Alex Rodriguez‘s first four games back with the Yankees were mostly forgettable (3-for-15 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch) outside of the constant boo/cheer watch, but on Sunday he reminded everyone just how big of an upgrade he is to the team’s lineup. Rodriguez tied the game at one with a leadoff solo homer in the second, pulling a 92 mph Justin Verlander fastball on the inner half out to left field. It was the first homer the Yankees received from a third baseman since David Adams went deep against the Orioles on May 22nd. That’s absurd.
The solo homer tied the game at one and later that inning, the Bombers took a 2-1 lead on Eduardo Nunez‘s sac fly. A-Rod drove in his second run and the team’s third run of the game an inning later to extend the lead with a two-out, excuse-me single to score Robinson Cano from second. He actually stayed in the batter’s box looking for the ball thinking he’d fouled it into the stands on the first base side before realizing it was fair down the line. Pretty funny, actually. It’s been a long time since the Yankees got an offensive contribution from their third basemen like this.
Four And A Third And Fly
The Yankees have had some serious problems getting length out of their starting pitchers of late. Andy Pettitte managed to hold the high-powered Tigers to just one run on Sunday afternoon, but he put eleven men on-base and threw 101 pitches in only 4.1 innings or work. It was the fourth time in the last seven games the starter failed to complete five innings of work. Pettitte and Phil Hughes are responsible for all four of those games. This is a big problem; the bullpen can’t continue to work this hard. Andy really battled on Sunday and is still part of the problem right now.
Hang On For Dear Life
The bullpen has worn thing these last few days, and even though David Robertson (solo homer by Bryan Pena) and Rivera (two homers) combined to blow the three-run lead in the eighth and ninth, the middle innings guys still deserve some props. Shawn Kelley inherited a bases loaded, one-out situation from Pettitte in the fifth before escaping with a strikeout and a fly ball. Boone Logan inherited a two on, two-out situation from Kelley in the sixth before escaping with a strikeout of Prince Fielder. He then chipped in a perfect seventh inning against three right-handed batters. Kelley and Logan combined for 2.2 important innings, allowing just an infield single and a walk. Well done, fellas.
Congrats to Alfonso Soriano, whose fourth inning solo homer off Justin Verlander was his 2,000th career hit. He had been hitless in his previous ten at-bats (with seven strikeouts), and earlier in the game Michael Kay was wondering why Soriano felt pressure chasing a meaningless milestone — “It’s not like it’s his 3,000th hit, ” he said, paraphrasing — before going nuts after the dinger. Anyway, 582 of those 2,000 hits have come in pinstripes.
Possibly forgotten moment: Gardner’s leaping catch to rob Torii Hunter of an extra-base hit with one out in the eighth. He lunged to catch the ball on the warning track before crashing into the wall and falling to his knees. Gardner flipped the ball to Soriano so he could throw it back into the infield, and apparently Austin Jackson thought he dropped it. Jackson stayed at second and didn’t go back to tag first, so the Yankees doubled him up to escape the inning. That kept Cabrera from batting as the tying run.
A-Rod was the only player with multiple hits and Curtis Granderson (single and walk) the only other player to reach base more than once. Gardner (homer), Cano (double), Lyle Overbay (single), Soriano (homer), and Eduardo Nunez (single) had the other hits. Nunez had a nice game, driving what looked like a sure extra-base hit to the warning track in the ninth before Hunter ran it down. Ichiro Suzuki and Chris Stewart were the only players to fail to reach base.
The solo homer Robertson gave up to Pena was the first run he’d allowed since June 16th, a span of 20.2 innings. He allowed eleven singles, one double, and five walks with 23 strikeouts between runs. Pretty great.
Believe it or not, the Tigers have won just six of Verlander’s 15 career regular season starts against the Yankees. What is baseball? Baseball is weird sometimes. Write that down. The Yankees went eight series between series wins, their longest such stretch since 1991.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other info, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees remain seven games back of the second wildcard spot with a 2.6% chance to make the postseason according to Cool Standings.
The Angels are coming to town for a trite four-game series between two disappointing clubs. Hiroki Kuroda and right-hander Garrett Richards will be the pitching matchup in Monday night’s opener. Want to see what the Yankees missed out on by not signing Josh Hamilton in person? RAB Tickets can help get you there.
Sounds like SS Cito Culver has been promoted to High-A Tampa, according to CF Jake Cave’s Twitter feed. No official word yet.
- C J.R. Murphy: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
- CF Melky Mesa: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K — he’s been tearing the cover off the ball lately
- RF Ronnie Mustelier: 1-5, 1 R
- LHP David Huff: 5.1 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 6/4 GB/FB — 69 of 105 pitches were strikes (66%)
- RHP Chase Whitley: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 13 of 16 pitches were strikes (81%)
Between his five big league games and 15 minor league rehab games, Alex Rodriguez now has many homers (four) as every other Yankees third baseman this season. A-Rod‘s second inning solo homer off Justin Verlander was the first the team got from the hot corner since David Adams went deep against the Orioles on May 22nd. Almost three full months ago. That’s nuts.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a good one, the Rays at the Dodgers (Hellickson vs. Kershaw). The midseason premier of Breaking Bad will be on as well. Talk about the game or Breaking Bad or anything else. Go nuts.