Gardner, Granderson, bullpen back Nova as Yanks win their seventh in a row

The Yankees came into Friday’s game riding a six game winning streak that helped push their lead in the AL East from zero games to a game-and-a-half, but the odds of extending the streak weren’t very good with the Blue Jays coming into town. Toronto has played the Yanks hard this year (they’d won seven of the dozen meetings before this game) and were sending Brandon Morrow to the mound, who just worked the Yanks over for six innings less than two weeks ago. Thankfully, Morrow, making his final start of the season due to innings limitations, was off his game, and the boys from the Bronx were able to extend their streak to a season high tying seven games.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Biggest Hit: Granderson Extends The Lead

Travis Snider gave the Jays a quick one-zip lead in the first inning with a solo homer, but the Yanks battled back and plated a pair in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Not content with a one run lead, they came to the plate the next inning and immediately went to work. Austin Kearns led off with a hit by pitch (more on that later) and made it to second on an Eduardo Nunez fielder’s choice, then leadoff man du jour Brett Gardner drew his second walk in as many innings to put runners at first and second with the lone out.

Curtis Granderson, coming off yesterday’s two homer game, stepped in with a chance to keep the line moving and get the Yanks headed in the right direction. Morrow started him off with a pair of fastballs that went for a ball and a foul tip, but his third offering was a curveball that tumbled into the zone rather than dove out of it, and the Yankee centerfielder pulled it down the first base line and into right field. Kearns scored easily, but Gardner gets major kudos for hustling and scoring from first on a ball that didn’t even go into the corner. Jose Bautista fielded it on a ricochet off the sidewall about halfway between the infield and warning track. Gardy just straight up outran the play, giving the Yanks a much more comfortable 4-1 lead.

Brett had a little uniform malfunction today. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Honorable Mention: Tex Does It Again

An inning before Granderson blew things open, the molten hot Mark Teixeira got the Yanks right back in the game with a run scoring double that knotted things up at one. It looked gone off the bat, but the wind was pretty vicious during the game because of Hurricane Earl, blowing numerous balls back towards the infield. Pop-ups were an adventure all afternoon, infield or out. Tex came into the game 9-for-13 (.692) with two doubles, two homers, two walks and one strikeout on the hometand, so he picked up right where he left off. This guy man … he’s just a baseball playing robot.

Biggest Out: Robertson Escapes The Jam

Joe Girardi‘s bullpen has come together quite nicely over the last two months or so, and the addition of Kerry Wood at the trade deadline only made things better. David Robertson assumed the eighth inning role from Joba Chamberlain for a few weeks, but on Friday he entered the game with a man on first and one out in the sixth inning.

Robertson dropped a pair of curveballs on John McDonald, who hit a routine grounder to short that should have been an inning ending 6-4-3 double play, but Robbie Cano threw a palmball on the relay to first and pulled Tex off the ball. D-Rob did his job, got the double play grounder, but sometimes the unexpected happens in baseball. He followed up the non-GIDP ball with a six pitch walk to his former teammate Jose Molina, a move that put the tying run on base and the go-ahead run at the plate.

Thankfully, Robertson was able to right himself and managed to strike out Mike McCoy by getting him to swing through a pair of 91 mph fastballs on the outer corner for strikes two and three. McCoy, a 29-year-old journeyman with a .094 ISO in the minors, wasn’t likely to give Toronto the lead with one swing of the bat, but if he had reached base the Yanks were suddenly looking at a bases loaded situation for Snider, would had already gone deep earlier. It was by far the biggest out of the game, increasing New York’s chances of winning by close to nine percent.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Ivan Nova had to battle in this one, it certainly didn’t come as easy as it appeared to in his previous two starts. It seemed like he was unable to throw either his curve or changeup for strikes consistently, which is probably why he struck out zero batters in his four-and-two-thirds innings of work. He did get nine outs on the ground compared to just four in the air, but Girardi yanked him with the tying run on base with two outs after just 76 pitches, and Nova was visibly disappointed. Maybe not at Joe for taking him out so early, but at himself for failing to go any deeper in the game. The Jays really worked him hard, so I wasn’t upset with the early hook. Team wins are far more important than individual wins at this point.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The bullpen, as usual, was fantastic. Boone Logan came in and cleaned up Nova’s mess. He gave way to Robertson who did his thing. Wood retired all five men he faced in the seventh and eighth, then Mariano Rivera capped it off with a hilariously easy ninth inning. Seriously, a bunt groundout back to Mo, a weak grounder to Tex, and a foul pop to Ramiro Pena at third on six total pitches. Piece of cake.

Speaking of Ramiro, he picked up another two hits today and is now eight for his last 18 (.444). Eduardo Nunez also went 2-for-4 from the nine-hole.

Not to be outdone by the guys at the bottom of the order, Gardner and Granderson combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles (both Granderson’s), one triple (Gardner’s), four walks (two each), and four runs scored (three by Gardy). Big time production from the top two hitters today, can’t say enough about the job they did.

Jorge Posada doubled and Lance Berkman hit the ball right on the screws four times and came away with a pair of hits. Berkman’s really been tattooing the ball since coming off the disabled list, albeit in a small sample. Pretty much the only player you can’t praise today is Robbie Cano, who struck out once in five at-bats, taking some awful looking swings along the way.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Austin Kearns took that pitch off his hand early on and appeared to favor it the rest of the way. I saw him shaking it several times later in the game, especially after making contact with a pitch. Hopefully he’s just a little banged up and won’t miss any time.

Ready for some creepiness? This seven game winning streak started on August 28th with a game against the White Sox. Last year on August 28th, the Yanks beat those same White Sox to start a seven game winning streak that ended on September 4th. Their opponent for that loss? The Blue Jays, of course. Kinda creepy, no? Hopefully they don’t repeat history tomorrow.

The Rays topped the Orioles, so the division lead remains at a game-and-a-half. The Red Sox were rained out, so the Yanks picked up a half-game on the Wild Card lead and now have an eight-and-a-half game cushion. Their magic numbers to clinch a playoff spot and the division are 20 and 27, respectively.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs all the other cool stuff.

Up Next

The Yanks will play the third of five straight afternoon games on Saturday, giving the ball to Javy Vazquez for his first start in two weeks. He’ll be opposed by Marc Rzepczynski, who the Yanks knocked around just ten days ago.

Huge nights for Montero, Black, and Trenton’s offense

Jesus Montero comes in as the sixth hottest prospect in the minors in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. D.J. Mitchell got some love In The Team Photo. Make sure you read Montero’s blurb, great little paragraph in there about player development and stuff. Also make sure you check out Rebecca’s photos from last night’s Double-A Trenton game. She’s got some great video of Manny Banuelos.

This is the last weekend of the minor league season, in case you forgot. Everyone plays their final game on Monday except for High-A Tampa and Short Season Staten Island, who wrap up on Sunday. Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton have already clinched playoff spots, and Tampa should do the same this weekend barring a Metsian collapse. Everyone else is done.

Triple-A Scranton (10-4 win over Pawtucket)
Reid Gorecki, RF: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 3B – six of his last ten hits have gone for extra bases (four doubles, two triples)
Eric Bruntlett, SS: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 E (throwing)
Jesus Montero, C: 3 for 5, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI – he also hit a ball to the warning track … the homer was an absolute bomb … he’s the ninth player in team history, and the first catcher, to have a 20 homer season … go look at his season stat line in The Montero Watch in the sidebar, this guy was flirting with a .600 OPS in May, he’s been ridiculous over the last three months
Juan Miranda, 1B: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI – had homered in each of the last two games, but he only managed a double this time around
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 K
Colin Curtis, CF: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB - threw a runner out at second … Montero gets all the attention, but Lil’ CC is 12 for his last 32 (.375) with four doubles and two homers
Chad Huffman, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 2B
Robby Hammock, 2B: 0 for 4, 1 K
D.J. Mitchell: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 1 Balk, 3-4 GB/FB – 59 of 92 pitches were strikes (64.1%) … he’s allowed 43 more baserunners than last season in just 10.1 more IP
Zack Segovia: 2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 22 of 32 pitches were strikes (68.8%)
Royce Ring: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – a dozen of his 18 pitches were strikes
Amaury Sanit: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-1 GB/FB – eight of ten pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Se7en

Brett had a little uniform malfunction today. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Seven, seven wins in a row. Ah ah ah. [/The Count]

The Yankees took care of business and knocked the magic number for a playoff spot down to 20 by clubbing Brandon Morrow this afternoon, but the Red Sox game was already postponed due to Hurricane Earl, so it won’t go any lower tonight. The magic number for the division title is 27, and could be 26 if the Orioles take care of business against the Rays this evening. Let’s not get greedy though, the Yanks control their own destiny and that’s all we could ask for.

Anyway, here’s tonight’s open thread. The Mets have already played, but depending on where you live, either the Reds-Cardinals or Braves-Marlins will be on the MLB Network. I’m not sure, but chances are there’s some college football on somewhere as well. It’s Friday though, I recommend going out and doing something you won’t remember in the morning. Talk about whatever, just be cool.

Tickets available for tomorrow’s game

A reader has two tickets available for tomorrow’s game against the Blue Jays. They’re located in Section 233B, Row 16, Seats 9-10, which is the second deck in the leftfield corner under the Audi Club. Face value is $50 per ticket ($100 for the pair), but the seller is willing to take the best offer.

It’s a day game (1:05pm ET start) that features Javy Vazquez and Marc Rzepczynski. Email me if interested and I’ll put you in contact with the seller.

Yanks winning the Jay-Z/Eminem ticket prices battle

When the Yankees hit the road next week, Yankee Stadium won’t remain empty. Instead, on Monday, September 13 and Tuesday, September 14, Jay-Z and Eminem will bring their concert to the stadium. Hip hop fans are eagerly anticipating these shows, and many Yankee fans will get to see Jay-Z perform “Empire State of Mind” in the Bronx again. Who doesn’t love the de facto 2009 playoffs anthem?

So far, the reviews out of Detroit have been strong. B.o.B. is opening up for the co-headliners, and last night, Dr. Dre, Drake, 50 Cent, and Young Jeezy made guest appearances. Of course, RAB Tickets and TiqIQ have some seats for those still looking to grab a spot at the show.

As the graph above shows, the ticket prices in New York, a city not facing a foreclosure crisis and economic death, are far outpacing those in Detroit, and the secondary market is insane right now as well. For the Sept. 13 show, tickets in the 400 section behind home plate are averaging $267 while tickets in the 300s sections for the Sept. 14 show are going for an average of $245. Tuesday, it seems, is the best bet.

Meanwhile, baseball remains on everyone’s minds this weekend, and the Blue Jays, while a popular draw, aren’t burning down the house. Tickets for this series are going for below the season average of $95, but the Saturday and Sunday games, when sunny weather and cooler temperatures sweep through the area in the wake of Hurricane Earl, aren’t exactly cheap. As always, RAB Tickets has all the best seats for this weekend’s games.

Tickets available for Monday’s game

A reader is trying to unload a pair of tickets for Monday’s game against the Orioles. They’re bleacher seats, in row nine of Section 238. That’s one section over from the restaurant and directly behind the visitor’s bullpen. Face value is $12, so it’s $24 for the pair. Remember, it’s a day game with a 1:05pm ET start. A.J. Burnett will square off against Jake Arrieta.

If you’re interested, email me and I’ll put you in touch with the seller.

Update: These tickets have been claimed.

Game 135: Stay hot

The Yankees kicked off their longest homestand of the season in style, pummeling the A’s in all four games the two teams played. Things get a little tougher today, when the Blue Jays come to town for the first of six times the two clubs will meet this month. Jose Bautista will surely try to hit his homers, but the Yanks can’t let him or his theatrics bother them, they simply need to win. They’ve won six straight and don’t have time to waste on a fourth place team.

Brandon Morrow will be making his final start of the season for the Jays today; they’re shutting him down to control his innings. We still have nightmares about how he’s dominated the Yanks this season, but it’s worth noting that he’s got a rather massive home/road split. He’s pitched in the Bronx twice already this season, giving up five runs in six innings and then again in five-and-a-third innings. Fingers are crossed.

Here’s the lineup, with the Cap’n getting a regular day off…

Gardner, LF
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Posada, C
Berkman, DH
Kearns, RF
Pena, 3B
Nunez, SS

And on the bump, it’s the rookie Ivan Nova.

It’s a bit overcast in the Tri-State Area and there’s a chance of rain during the game, but as far as we know they plan on starting this one on time.