The Yankees have outrighted right-hander Ryota Igarashi down to Triple-A. The move removes him off the 40-man roster, and by my unofficial count they now have one spot open. Igarashi, 33, appeared in two games with the Yankees and allowed four runs in three innings. At the end of the day, all this move means is that he will not rejoin the team as a September call-up.
3:02pm: Sabathia told Dan Martin that he felt good following today’s throwing session and that he remains on track to start that August 24th game. “It felt really good,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything in the elbow, so I am confident. I’m just looking forward to pitching next Friday.” How he feels tomorrow is important as well, but so far so good.
11:30am: Via George King, left-hander CC Sabathia will throw off flat ground today for the first time since being placed on the DL with elbow stiffness over the weekend. “I have just been getting treatment,” he said when asked what he’s been doing in the meantime. Sabathia insists that he will be on the mound on August 24th against the Indians, the first day he is eligible to be activated, but throwing today is a significant step even if it’s not off a mound. Hopefully he comes through fine and can start working his way back in earnest.
Taking three of four from the Rangers is a pretty neat accomplishment, but the Yankees have a chance to make it a straight four-for-four series this afternoon. The pitching, starting with the David Phelps-Derek Lowe tandem on Monday and continuing with Hiroki Kuroda on Tuesday and Freddy Garcia on Wednesday has been the backbone of the three wins, and now it’s time for Ivan Nova to follow suit. He’s been struggling real bad for the last month or so, but was very good against the Blue Jays five days ago and hopefully will build off that today. Here’s the starting lineup…
SS Derek Jeter
RF Nick Swisher
1B Mark Teixeira
LF Andruw Jones
3B Casey McGehee
DH Russell Martin
2B Jayson Nix
CF Ichiro Suzuki
C Chris Stewart
RHP Ivan Nova
The weather is gorgeous here in New York following last night’s storm(s), so there won’t be any trouble getting this one in. Today’s game is scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
The Yankees have won three straight over the Rangers and seven of their last eight overall, restoring some order to the universe after playing sub-.500 ball for about three weeks. They’re on the verge of sweeping Texas in a four-game series, something that was honestly unthinkable when the week began. The Yankees are playing so well and with the quick turn-around for the afternoon game today, there’s no use for a focused post this morning. Instead, here is a collection of some random thoughts. Feel free to expand or add to the discussion in the comments…
1. I think that we, as a fanbase, don’t give Freddy Garcia enough credit. He had that brutal April and it seems to have lingered in everyone’s minds, but he’s been rock solid ever since regardless of role (starter or reliever). Part of the problem is that he doesn’t fit the profile of the type of pitcher that usually succeeds in the AL East. He’s not a hard-thrower and he doesn’t miss bats, but he generates lots of weak contact and simply outsmarts hitters. When I saw the weather prior to the game last night, my thought was that the Yankees were in pretty good shape because Garcia’s a veteran starter who has pitched through everything. A little rain wouldn’t bother him. Freddy really does deserve a lot of credit for stepping up once Andy Pettitte went down.
2. He isn’t going to continue hitting this well through the end of the season and into the playoffs, but don’t the Yankees have to find a way to keep Eric Chavez in the lineup once Alex Rodriguez comes off the DL? They could get him three or four starts a week at third base and/or DH, but to do so they would have to take some playing time away from Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez. I suppose they could platoon those two and use Ichiro in left for the fly ball pitchers (Phil Hughes and Garcia) while Ibanez gets the call for the ground-ballers (CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova). Either way, Chavez has been far too productive to turn him back into a once-a-week type player. Someone’s going to lose at-bats when A-Rod comes back and it shouldn’t be him.
3. Isn’t this Melky Cabrera stuff just sad? You know I’m not the biggest Melky fan in the world, but it’s sad because he was so close to a life-changing contract. We have no idea how much the added testosterone helped his performance, but the story about him getting into shape and taking his career seriously after getting released by the Braves seemed completely plausible. Melky always had some skills, he makes lots of contact and he has a pretty good idea of the strike zone, so it’s not completely unexpected that he turned into a BABIP machine during his peak years. Now his free agent value is destroyed — I was thinking something along the lines of six years and $80-90M this offseason, but he might have to settle for a one-year, prove yourself contract now. He was staring at money that would put his great great great grandkids through college, now he has to do it all over again to land that kind of payday. Rough.
4. On the heels of his perfect game yesterday — which was just absolutely brilliant, I can’t tell you how filthy he was if you didn’t see it — would you take Felix Hernandez over any other pitcher if you had one game to win? I’m pretty sure I would. The top three names that immediately jumped to mind for me were Felix, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw, but I’d rather have Hernandez over the other two. MLB Network joked (or maybe it wasn’t a joke) yesterday that the ninth inning of the perfect game were the three biggest outs of his career, and that kinda bummed me out. Felix has never pitched in the postseason and only once have the Mariners finished above third place during his career, but he just seems to give off that vibe that he would be untouchable on the big stage. Maybe I’m completely off the mark here, but he always seems to perform his best when facing top teams like the Yankees or Red Sox or Rangers or the Rays yesterday.
5. Is this not the most likable Yankees team in quite some time? At least since the 2009 squad, and I think you might even be able to go back farther than that. The mid-aughts teams were just awful in that regard, full of grumpy and unlikeable players that came off as far too corporate (Gary Sheffield and Kevin Brown stand out as notable examples). This team has likeable players all over the place, from Chavez to Sabathia to Kuroda to Curtis Granderson to Robinson Cano to many others. They’re all just very easy to root for and it makes the whole baseball fan experience that much better. The Yankees placed a renewed emphasis on makeup and character a few years ago, and I think this is a byproduct.
Coming into this four-game series against the other best team in the AL, I would have been perfectly cool with a split. The Yankees have done one better with a game to spare, taking the first three games from the Rangers is rather convincing fashion. Wednesday night’s win came after what was nearly a two-hour rain delay.
A Good Sweat
Since returning to the rotation early last month, Freddy Garcia has pitched to a 3.70 ERA (4.29 FIP) that looks a lot like the 3.62 ERA (4.12 FIP) he posted last season. On Wednesday’s night he held the high-powered Rangers’ offense to just two runs on four hits and a walk in 6.2 innings, striking out six and recording 18 of his 20 outs on the infield. The two runs scored on solo homers from Josh Hamilton, the second of which was one of the deepest homers ever hit at the New Stadium. It landed more than halfway up the right field bleachers. The other one paled in comparison despite landing in the second deck.
Hamilton is going to hit his homers, that’s unavoidable it seems, but Freddy did a great job keeping the rest of the Texas offense off balance. He escaped a bases loaded situation in the fourth — after Eric Chavez made a rare bad play by trying to go for two when he only had the play at first, so both runners were safe — by getting Geovany Soto to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. Jayson Nix and Nick Swisher deserve credit for the turn at the base and the stretch at first, respectively. Garcia has been rock solid following his disaster April, and this time he did it against a great offense. He’s very quietly stabilized the rotation.
One Big Inning
On Monday it was a five-run third inning, on Tuesday it was a three-run seventh inning, and on Wednesday night it was a three-run third inning, with all three runs coming on base hits rather than those evil homers. Nix and Derek Jeter led the inning off with singles — Nix had stolen second so Jeter’s knock put men on the corners — and then the middle of the order went to work. Nick Swisher has killed the Rangers with dingers all series, but this time it was just a bloop double to no man’s land along the left field line. Curtis Granderson followed with a relatively deep sacrifice fly, and Chavez bailed out Mark Teixeira (strikeout) with a two-out, two-strike single to the opposite field to plate that third run.
The Yankees actually managed to put 16 (!) runners on-base in eight offensive innings, but they had a little RISPFAIL problem (3-for-11), bounced into some double plays, and had a handful runners thrown out on the bases. The first inning was the only inning they went down in order, and in four of the other seven offensive innings they put the leadoff man on-base. This one had the feel of a game where those stranded runners might come back to bite them, but they didn’t because the pitching has been so excellent.
The bullpen trio of Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano threw 2.1 innings and actually retired all eight men they faced. First base ump Marty Foster gave the Rangers an extra life in the ninth by ruling that Chavez’s throw pulled Swisher off the bag at first on Nelson Cruz’s ground ball. Replays showed that Swisher had kept his foot on first, but I guess it’s no big deal since the next batter grounded out harmlessly to end the game. After all his trouble with 1-2-3 innings earlier this year, Soriano nailed down his first 1-2-3-4 inning of the season for the save
Forgive me while I gripe, but I would have liked to see a pinch-hitter for Raul Ibanez against left-hander Robbie Ross with men on first and second and two outs in the seventh. He walked so it doesn’t really matter, but we’ve been seeing Ibanez left in to face lefties in the late-innings of close games all season and it bugs me. The easy move to make would have been Andruw Jones (outfielder-for-outfielder), but the best move would have been pinch-hitting Casey McGehee. Once the inning is over, you stick McGehee at first and move Swisher to the outfield. Eh, whatever. Moot point.
You know what else? I actually thought having Jeter bunt with men on first and second with no outs in the eighth was a good idea. The goal there is to just get an insurance run since they already had the lead. Instead, Jeter pops the bunt up, Mike Adams lets it drop, and they manage to turn it into a double play. See what happens when I advocate for a bunt? The baseball gods are cruel.
Chavez just continues to be a one-man army, going 3-for-3 with a walk to raise his season line to a stout .303/.362/.547. Ichiro Suzuki and Nix combined for four infield singles (two each) at the bottom of the order while Ibanez singled and had two walks. That’s a combined eight times on-base from the 6-7-8-9 hitters. The only batter in the lineup not to reach base was Teixeira, who struck out three times in four trips to the plate.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced statistics, and ESPN the updated standings. As you’ve surely heard by now, Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game against the Rays on Wednesday afternoon, so Tampa is seven games back. I’m not joking, Felix might have had the best stuff I’ve ever seen in a single game. Here’s the video if you don’t believe me. He was out of this world. The Orioles beat the Red Sox (again), so they’re six back. The Yankees became the first AL team to win 70 games on Wednesday, and the magic number to clinch the division is down to just 40.
The Yankees will look to complete the four-game sweep on Thursday afternoon, when Ivan Nova gets the ball against Derek Holland. Hopefully Nova can build off his strong start in Toronto. If you want to catch the matinee live, then check out RAB Tickets for some last minute deals.
12:09am: Joe Girardi said Cano is day-to-day due to the neck. He didn’t come out and say it, but it sounded like he would like to give his second baseman another day to rest tomorrow.
5:45pm: Robinson Cano will not play in tonight’s game because of what the team is calling a “stiff neck.” We don’t know much beyond that, but hopefully it’s nothing too serious and he’ll be back in there tomorrow. Jayson Nix will play second and the slumping Curtis Granderson will bat third in his place. We’ll post any updates as they come in, so check back throughout the evening.
The Yankees released RHP Ricky Orta. He was an interesting minor league signing back in June, but he re-injured his elbow after just five appearances and eight innings with Double-A Trenton. So much for that.
Triple-A Empire State Game One (5-1 win over Pawtucket in seven innings) makeup of the July 28th rain out … they faced a rehabbing Daisuke Matsuzaka
RF Chris Dickerson, SS Eduardo Nunez & 1B Brandon Laird: all 0-3 — Dickerson and Nunez each struck out once
2B Corban Joseph: 1-3, 1 RBI
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB
C Frankie Cervelli & DH Kosuke Fukudome: both 1-2, 1 R — Cervelli got hit by a pitch … Fukudome drove in two, walked, and struck out
CF Melky Mesa & 3B Ramiro Pena: both 1-3, 1 R, 1 K — Mesa doubled and drove in a run
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 7/4 GB/FB — 81 of 117 pitches were strikes (69%)