Fan Confidence Poll: September 6th, 2010

Record Last Week: 6-1 (46 RS, 26 RA)
Season Record: 86-51 (743 RS, 560 RA, 87-50 Pythag. record), 2.5 games up
Schedule This Week: vs. Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Rangers (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

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Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Homers doom Hughes, Yanks’ winning streak

All good things must come to an end, and that’s exactly what happened to the Yankees’ eight game winning streak today. The Blue Jays did what they do best, hitting the ball out of the park against Phil Hughes. Three different Jays went deep off the Yanks’ starter, and a few other tack on runs eventually put things out of reach. On the bright side, the Yanks did get their cleanup hitter back.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Hughes Mistakes

As he gets further and further away from his previous career high in innings pitched, Phil Hughes appears to be becoming more and more prone to making mistakes. On a day when he otherwise looked pretty decent, Hughes made two glaring errors when he turned a pair of 0-2 counts against Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill into two-run homers. It was the same problem both times; a fastball that ran back in on the inner half and right into each batter’s wheelhouse. Hughes later hung a cutter to John Buck, who sent it into Monument Park for a solo shot. Three out of every four pitches Phil threw was a fastball, and Toronto’s hitters were teeing off on it.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Aside from the longballs, which were obviously major mistakes and the reason the Yankees lost their first game in over a week, Hughes allowed four hits (three doubles, one of which was a ground rule double) and walked just one, striking out five. After consecutive starts with a season high five walks, the one free pass is a good sign. He still allowed way too many foul balls (24 out of 100 total pitches), but that appears to be par for the course these days. Certainly not his best outing, but I though Hughes’ stuff was pretty good. He just missed his spots a little too often and got beat.

Once Again, No Match For Cecil

The Yanks have faced Jays’ lefty Brett Cecil now four times this season, and each time they’ve walked away with a loss. They did, however, manage to score more than one run against him for the first time, knocking him out of the game with one out in the seventh and three runs on the board thanks to 11 baserunners. They had a few opportunities to do some damage, namely in the third (runners on first and second, two outs), fifth (same), sixth (man on second, one out), and seventh (first and second, two outs), but ultimately they couldn’t capitalize.

Cecil, a lefthanded changeup artist, has gotten the best of the Yankees each time out, so maybe it’s time to rethink stacking the lineup with righties against him. I mean, fool me once shame on you, fool me four times, shame on the strategy. Hopefully the guys keep that in the memory bank for next year and avoid another one of these messes.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Alex Rodriguez‘s return to the lineup after a 15-day stint on the disabled list went fine; he legged out an infield single and later drove in a run with a line drive single to center. He also struck out looking to end the game, though the pitch did look a little inside. Alex also looked a-okay in the field, though he wasn’t tested with anything difficult. Even though the Yanks lost, it sure was nice having A-Rod back in the lineup.

Nick Swisher, meanwhile, looked pretty bad running down to first during his late pinch-hitting appearance. He was fine at the plate, but the limp was very, very noticeable once he tried to run. I’ll be surprised if he manages to play tomorrow. Austin Kearns played the field but did not bat, so who knows how his sore hand is doing. With he and Swish banged up, the outfield got real thin, real quick.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Brett Gardner, Professional Lead-off Hitter™ experiment continues to be smashing success. He went 2-for-3 with a walk on Sunday, and has reached base 19 times in his last seven games atop the lineup. Gardner’s got a .467 OBP since August 13th. Studly.

Hughes had allowed two homers total on 0-2 counts in his career before this game, then he allowed two more. All but three of the 22 homers he’s given up this year have come at home, so if the Yanks start Hughes in the playoffs, I imagine they’ll try to get him out there on the road.

Jon Albaladejo hit Jose Bautista with his first pitch right between the numbers on his back, but don’t get too excited, it was a curveball. The Yanks held Bautista to one single and four walks in the series, much better than what he was doing to them earlier this year.

The Rays fell to the Orioles on Sunday, so the Yanks lead in the division remained at two-and-a-half games. With the White Sox beating the Red Sox and passing them in the Wild Card standings, the Yanks magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains at 17, good old Jerry Hairston Jr.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

The Orioles roll into town for a Labor Day matchup on Monday. A.J. Burnett gets the ball against Brian Matusz during the Yanks’ fifth consecutive 1:05pm ET start.

Tampa & Staten Island end their seasons with losses

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Lehigh Valley in 10 innings, walk-off style)
Reid Gorecki, RF-CF & Jorge Vazquez, DH: both 0 for 4 – Gorecki walked & K’ed … JoVa K’ed twice
Kevin Russo, 2B, Eric Bruntlett, SS & P.J. Pilittere, C: all 1 for 4 – Russo got picked off first … Pilittere K’ed
Juan Miranda, 1B: 2 for 5, 1 K
Colin Curtis, CF: 0 for 2 – he was pulled for no apparent reason in the middle of the fifth inning (literally in the middle of the defensive inning, not between innings), so it’s safe to assume he’s on his way to New York with Nick Swisher and Austin Kearns banged up
Edwar Gonzalez, RF: 0 for 2
Chad Huffman, LF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 3B: 2 for 4, 1 RBI – nine for his last 22 (.409) after the brutal rough patch
Lance Pendleton: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 6-11 GB/FB – 53 of his 77 pitches were strikes (.688) … that’s impressive work with a super low pitch count
Eric Wordekemper: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 16 of 25 pitches were strikes (64%)
George Kontos: 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – threw three pitches (two strikes) before giving up a walk-off homer to an old friend

[Read more…]

Open Thread: All good things come to an end

That's right Alex, it's just one loss. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. It’s tough to get angry over a loss when it comes at the end of an eight game winning streak, so let’s just forget about this one and hope the Yankees start a new victory streak tomorrow (with me in attendance).

While we wait for that, use this as your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday Night game features the Giants and Dodgers (Sanchez-Kuroda), which has some meaning in the NL West race. For the Giants, anyway. You know the deal, so have at it.

Pettitte likely to throw rehab game on Wednesday

Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees and Andy Pettitte are “holding pretty firm” to the idea of having the lefty throw in a minor league rehab game on Wednesday. To be clear, those are Pettitte’s words. Double-A Trenton will be at home taking on New Hampshire in their first playoff game that day, so I’d bet my money on Pettitte rehabbing with the Thunder. Triple-A Scranton will be on the road for their playoff game that day, and their opponent is still unknown. Trenton is a much better fit every way.

A Wednesday rehab start would put Pettitte in line to return to the Yankees’ rotation the following Monday, though I bet the Yanks will keep CC Sabathia on turn and have him face the Rays in Tampa that day. They could then have Andy pitch against the Rays the next day, pushing Ivan Nova back to Wednesday and Javy Vazquez out of that series.

City celebrates opening of River Ave. pocket parks

Bronx children pose at the new River Ave. pocket park. (Photo courtesy NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation)

Five years ago, city politicians and Yankee officials celebrated the groundbreaking for new Yankee Stadium, and as they did, the South Bronx lost a significant chunk of its green space. Although the plans for the new stadium called for replacement parks scattered throughout the neighborhood, with the slicing and dicing of Macombs Dam Park, the neighborhood lost a focal point for athletics and play. This week, though, the city celebrate progress, if a bit sluggish, in replacing these parks.

City politicians and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe gathered on Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for two River Ave. pocket parks. Featuring a playground for kids and skate plaza, the park is located aside the elevated tracks of the 4 train at around E. 157th St. “Thanks to $6 million in funding from the Yankee Stadium redevelopment program, there’s a brand new place to go rolling on River Avenue,” Benepe said. “The skate plaza on the south, and playground on the north are two examples of the city’s commitment to expanding fitness and recreation opportunities in the South Bronx.”

Both the skate plaza and playground are located on the sites of former parking lots, and the city worked with the community to design and incorporate the parks into the urban landscape. The skateboarding community suggested numerous features including half-pipes, ramps, stairs, rails, ledges, gaps and other elements for their area, and this park alos includes a bit of green space. It is, says Parks in a press release, “one of city’s first skate parks to use traditional New York City Parks materials, and references elements from the city’s past and present.”

The playground, meanwhile, uses the subway to the delight of children. It features spray fountains and lights that are turned on as subway trains pass by. It must be particularly exciting on a day such as today when post-game 4 trains bound for Manhattan clank by every 2-3 minutes.

In unveiling these parks, the city proclaimed its $195 million investment in new parks surrounding the stadium, and while praise for these projects is warranted, the parks have often seemed like an afterthought. This skate park was supposed to open in 2007, and Bronx residents will still be waiting at least another year before the Heritage Field centerpiece is ready for play. Still, progress is progress, and the city is slowly putting a not-so-flattering chapter of community development behind it.

A skater jumps the gaps at the new plaza. (Photo courtesy of NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation)

Game 137: Guess who’s back?

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Gardner, LF
Jeter, SS
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Thames, DH
Posada, C
Granderson, CF
Golson, RF
Pena, 2B

And on the bump, Phil Hughes. Enjoy the game.