You can make a pretty strong case that Ichiro Suzuki is the most popular baseball player in the history of Japan, and with that comes lots of media attention. A swarm of Japanese media has followed his every move since coming over to MLB more than a decade ago, including several reporters assigned to follow on a day-to-day basis, home or away. Dan Barbarisi wrote about that media swarm the Yankees inherited by acquiring the outfielder last month, including those who had to uproot and move across the country with him. It’s the rare article on the media that isn’t self-serving and is well worth the read. Check it out.
I’m hopefully we’ll see a lot more games like this over the next seven weeks. Yeah, it wasn’t a laugher until the late innings, but I’ll take it. I’ve seen enough one-run games to last me a season already. Let’s recap…
- Early Runs: The Yankees jumped out in front early, scoring two runs in the second and another in the third. There was only one hit in there, a Robinson Cano single, the other two came on an error (Jeff Mathis threw the ball into left field) and a fielder’s choice (Ichiro Suzuki beat out a double play). Diverse and efficient, I approve.
- Steady Freddy: Freddy Garcia gave the Yankees exactly what they wanted in his latest solid effort, a two-run, six-inning affair. He even had a four-pitch inning to end his night. I thought Joe Girardi pulled him at exactly the right time (despite his 78 pitch count) as well, with Kelly Johnson due up in a one-run game. Johnson had homered and doubled earlier in the game. For the third time in his last four starts, Freddy walked zero batters. Pretty awesome for a fifth starter.
- Blown Open: I was pretty disappointed that the Yankees only scored three runs in seven innings off the certifiably awful Ricky Romero, but they made up for it with seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings. Mark Teixeira‘s solo homer was the big blow, but there were also run-scoring doubles from Nick Swisher and Ichiro to go along with run-scoring singles from Ichiro and Raul Ibanez. It was nice to have breathing room after an inordinate number of tight games these last few weeks.
- Leftovers: David Robertson was the only reliever to throw a full inning after Garcia, the rest was split up between Boone Logan (two outs), Joba Chamberlain (one out), Clay Rapada (two outs), and Cody Eppley (one out). Joba and Rapada allowed a run each, but both guys weren’t even on the mound when it happened … every starter had at least one hit aside from Casey McGehee, who did nothing at the plate … the top four hitters went a combined 7-for-14 … Derek Jeter now has many multi-hit games this year (45) as last year … the Yankees drew more than walks (four) than strikeouts (three) for just the second time in the last 66 games.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Orioles and Rays won, so the lead in the division remains six games over both. Game two of this three-game set will be played Saturday afternoon, when Ivan Nova gets the ball against former teammate Aaron Laffey.
First, some notes…
- The Yankees have released 1B Russell Branyan. He missed a whole bunch of time with back trouble this year but otherwise hit .309/.438/.655 with eleven homers in 137 plate appearances for Triple-A Empire State.
- The naming contest for next year’s Triple-A Scranton franchise is down to six finalists: Blast, Black Diamond Bears, Fireflies, Porcupines, Rail Riders, and Trolley Frogs. Typical minor league names. You can vote here for another two weeks.
- RHP Adam Warren earned the tenth spot on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet while OF Slade Heathcott go some love in the In The Team Photo section.
Second, Friday night bullet points…
- Triple-A Empire State (win): LF Chris Dickerson continued his hot hitting and was a triple shy of the cycle. 2B Corban Joseph (two), LF Ronnie Mustelier (two), and RF Darnell McDonald (three) all had multiple singles. 3B Brandon Laird and C Frankie Cervelli chipped in doubles. RHP Ramon Ortiz allowed four runs in six innings, but RHP Cory Wade picked him up with two scoreless and hitless frames.
- Double-A Trenton (loss): Both LF Rob Segedin and 2B Walt Ibarra had a pair of knocks, including a double by Ibarra. CF Adonis Garcia and 3B David Adams also singled. Very slow night with the sticks. LHP Shaeffer Hall allowed five runs in ten hits in 5.2 innings, though LHP Josh Romanski came out of the bullpen to fire 1.2 scoreless.
- High-A Tampa (loss): Pretty big night for the offense despite the loss. Multiple hits were had by DH Slade Heathcott (two singles), C Gary Sanchez (double and two singles), and 3B Zach Wilson (single and double). CF Ramon Flores drew a walk but did not have a knock. RHP Jose Ramirez recorded just two outs while allowing three unearned runs on three walks. No hits either, so a weird night for him. RHP Sean Black walked four and struck out one while allowing a pair of runs in 1.1 innings of relief.
- Short Season Staten Island (loss): 1B Matt Snyder had the only extra-base hit of the night, a double. The rest of the offense was singles by DH Ravel Santana (two), C Peter O’Brien, 2B Fu-Lin Kuo (two), RF Exicardo Cayones, and 3B Matt Duran (two). RHP Gabe Encinas got rocked, allowing eight hits on seven hits and four walks in five innings. He struck out one.
- Rookie GCL Yanks Game One (win): 3B Dalton Smith doubled and singled for his first two pro hits while 2B Jerison Lopez had a two-bagger as well. SS Austin Aune struck out in all four plate appearances. Ouch. LHP Pedro Feliciano made his first rehab outing while RHP Hayden Sharp followed him up with four scoreless innings. He allowed just a single hit. RHP Brady Lail chipped in three scoreless innings as well.
- Rookie GCL Yanks Game Two (loss): 1B Greg Bird walked twice and got hit by a pitch as he comes back from his back problem. 3B Miguel Andujar doubled and C Chris Breen singled twice to pretty much sum up the offense. RHP Ty Hensley allowed one run in his third professional outing, striking out three and walking two in 2.2 innings. He allowed just one hit.
Low-A Charleston was rained out. They’re going to play a doubleheader tomorrow.
Via Meredith Marakovits, Alex Rodriguez took 25-30 swings off a tee and soft toss this afternoon while wearing a brace on his left hand. He’s been on the shelf since late last month after a Felix Hernandez pitch broke a bone in his hand. A-Rod isn’t expected to return until early-to-mid-September, but anything he can do to maintain the strength in his hands is important.
The Yankees haven’t won a three-game series in Toronto since May 2009, back when Marco Scutaro and Alex Rios were still Blue Jays. Injuries have complete decimated the Jays this season, especially the pitching staff. Staff ace Ricky Romero will be on the mound tonight but has seen his performance suffer in a major way, to the point where the front office is probably hoping he’s hiding a minor injury so they at least have some kind of explanation. If there was ever a time for the Bombers to take two of three from the Jays in Canada, this is it. Here’s the starting nine…
RHP Freddy Garcia
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Via David Waldstein, manager Joe Girardi will not be suspended by the league for his tirade and subsequent ejection in Thursday’s game following third base ump Tim Welke’s premature foul call on a ball that hit the line. Girardi made his case to MLB’s Executive VP of Baseball Ops Joe Torre, and that was that. No surprises here.
Via George King, left-hander Andy Pettitte‘s recent setback has pushed his schedule back by 7-10 days. This is the original setback he suffered in Oakland, not a new one. “We have to let the healing process take its course,’’ said Brian Cashman. “He had that setback which cost him a week to ten days, but he is in the middle of the healing process.”
A recent check-up exam showed that Pettitte’s fractured left leg/ankle is healing properly, though he did push himself a little too much prior to the setback. He is not eligible to come off the 60-day DL until August 27th, but an early-to-mid September return seems more likely now. It’s tough to count on a 40-year-old healing quickly, but the important thing is that Andy gets at least two and hopefully three tune-up type starts at the end of the regular season before a potential postseason start.