Swisher leaves game with stiff left knee

Update (2:17pm:) He left the game with stiffness in his left knee, according to the team. No word on the severity, but let’s all hope for the old day-to-day.

1:59 pm: Swisher left the game with what appeared to be a left knee injury, but the extent is unknown. That’s the knee he fouled the ball off in Toronto last week. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.

1:28pm: Nick Swisher left this afternoon’s game for an unknown reason following his first inning at-bat. He grounded out to the shortstop, and as far as we he didn’t pull up lame or anything. There was no other obvious injury or anything like that. We’ll keep you updated.

Game 134: Get off our mound

When the Yankees visited the Athletics earlier this season, Alex Rodriguez sparked a little mini-controversy when he casually jogged across the pitcher’s mound on his way back to first base following a foul ball. No one would have even noticed Alex’s mishap if not for A’s starter Dallas Braden, who opened his yap and told him to get off his mound, referring to an old school rule that hasn’t been enforced in a lifetime. Braden then added fuel to the fire by running his mouth a few weeks later, saying something about taking care of business the way they do in the 209, and then there was the perfect game that extended his 15 minutes of fame just a little longer.

Unfortunately for Mr. Braden, he isn’t in Oakland or the 209 anymore, he’s in the Bronx, and he’s on CC Sabathia‘s mound. He’s going to face the Yanks this afternoon for the first time since yelling at A-Rod, and even though Alex is on the shelf, there’s going to be 40,000+ strong in the stands making sure that Braden understands he’s not welcome here. The best payback is a win, exactly what the Yanks have been doing against Braden all week. Can they make it six in a row?

Here’s the lineup that’ll back CC…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixiera, 1B
Cano, 2B
Thames, DH
Posada, C
Kearns, LF
Nunez, 3B
Gardner, LF

And on the bump, it’s CC Sabathia.

Get away day today, with first pitch coming a little after 1pm ET. It’ll be on YES for those watching at home and not heckling Braden from the Stadium. Enjoy.

(Big thanks to T-Dubs for the graphic)

Boras and A-Rod divorce

It seems like an odd time to do so, but Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk reports that Alex Rodriguez has fired longtime agent Scott Boras. It actually happened a month ago. Jay Reisinger, who has acted as both A-Rod‘s and Andy Pettitte‘s counsel in dealing with PED matters, will take over as A-Rod’s full-time representative. I’m not sure how much this changes things, since Alex likely will never negotiate a player contract again. But as Calcaterra notes, Reisinger is “the point of contact between A-Rod, the union, the league and the Yankees.  That has made him the defacto agent.”

Burnett and Vazquez looking to quell rotation worries

Throughout the 2010 season the Yankees have struggled in various areas. Early in the season the starting pitching, minus Javy Vazquez, was lights out while the offense plodded along. The bullpen had a poor first half. But then everything turned around. The offense went on a tear and the bullpen hunkered down while a few of the starters hit bumps in the road. With both Vazquez and A.J. Burnett struggling, there was concern with the rotation. Would it be strong enough to carry the team through October?

Baseball fans become concerned all the time. We wouldn’t be fans if we didn’t. But the concerns with the Yankees are nothing new. They crop up every season in some form or another, except maybe outliers like 1998. The rotation issue was just one of many the Yanks faced in 2010. And while it’s too soon to declare the issue behind them, things are certainly looking a bit brighter.

A.J. Burnett pitched well last night, putting behind him a second straight shaky August. He gave up three runs in six innings, though they weren’t particularly concerning. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a Yankee Stadium Special and the other run came on a ground out. On the positive side Burnett struck out eight on the power of his curveball, which generated eight swings and misses. He threw it as often as his four-seamer, a good sign that the curve was working for him. If he can harness it from here on out he’ll be back in the conversation as the No. 2 starter.

The next real test comes on Saturday when Javy Vazquez makes his return to the rotation. It’s tough to expect anything from Vazquez now given what we’ve seen. He did put his rough start behind him and was a key part of the rotation from mid-May through mid-July. Then he hit another stumbling block, this one a bit more noticeable than before. After a rest and two successful long relief appearances he’s back in the rotation. A good start against Toronto would go a long way.

Burnett will never stop being a concern. Nor will Vazquez. We’ve seen their low points, so our minds will keep going back there when they take the mound. But it looks like both might be turning it around. Burnett found his curveball. Javy found (some of) his velocity. If they can put it together for a strong September I think that will dim a lot of the currently prevailing issues with the pitching staff. Combined with Andy Pettitte‘s eventual return, the Yankees’ staff isn’t looking so horrible right now.

Teixeira, bullpen back Burnett as Yanks win fifth straight

Winning a four game series is a difficult thing to do against any team, especially when you don’t know what you’re going to get out of your starting pitcher. A.J. Burnett wasn’t great but was good enough to win with the run supported given to him on Wednesday, and the bullpen did the rest behind him. The Yankees have now won five straight games, their longest winning streak since a seven gamer in early July.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Biggest Hit: Tex Marks The Spot

Mark Teixeira is on some kind of hot streak. The Yanks’ first baseman came into this game hitting .316/.410/.663 with 17 (!!!) homers since July 1st, and he has been making life especially miserable for the A’s this week. He put the Yanks on the board three batters into the game with a run scoring double off the left-centerfield wall on a ball that I thought was gone off the bat, but his biggest offensive contribution didn’t come until the next inning.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Yanks had already extended the lead to a pair of runs, and up came Tex with the bases loaded and two outs and a chance to blow this baby open. It’s easy to get greedy in this, the Year of the Grand Slam, but a solid line drive base hit somewhere on the outfield grass would have plated at least one and made us all happy. Well, it wasn’t a solid line drive, but it didn’t drive in one either, it drove in two. Teixeira sent a 1-2 slider, the fourth straight slider Brett Anderson threw him, third base bound on the ground, but it was perfectly placed and split Cliff Pennington and Kevin Kouzmanoff. The ball rolled into shallow left while Eduardo Nunez and then Derek Jeter came around to score, pushing the Yanks’ lead up to 4-0. Sure enough, they needed every one of those four.

Biggest Out: Mo Closes The Door

This game had a weird feel to it, in that it was a whole lot closer than it felt towards the end. The A’s chipped away and put the tying run on base in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera, and even had that runner get into scoring position. We never lose faith in Mo, but one dinky little bloop single and this game is probably still being played (okay, maybe not). Instead, Mo did what he always does, and closed out the win by striking out Kurt Suzuki. Piece of cake.

Believe it or not, the WPA swing of Suzuki’s strikeout (.117) was the single biggest play of the game.

Honorable Mention: Wood Escapes

One inning before Mo escaped his mini-jam, Kerry Wood had a mess of his own to clean up. Boone Logan recorded the first out of the eighth inning by striking out Jack Cust, then in came Wood with David Robertson having pitched in yesterday’s game. He got a quick groundout for the second out of the inning, but a single by Mark Ellis and a walk to Jeff Larish put two men on and suddenly one swing of the bat would have given Oakland a two run lead. Rajai Davis battled valiantly by taking curves in the dirt for balls and fouling off tough high fastballs, but he ultimately caved when Wood got him to ground out weakly to short on a slider. Easy as pie.

Quality Start A.J.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Under the microscope as always, A.J. Burnett delivered his best start since his complete game loss to the Royals a little more than two weeks ago. Obviously the A’s aren’t a worldburner offense (.312 team wOBA coming into this game), so we have to take this start with a grain of salt, but it was good to see Burnett go out and give the Yanks a chance to win. He hasn’t been doing that nearly enough this summer.

I honestly thought A.J.’s curveball was the best he’s had in weeks, and he even mixed in a few effective changeups for good measure. He threw 36 Uncle Charlies total (out of 91 pitches), 24 for strikes and got eight swings and misses, which is exactly where he needs to be with the pitch. Burnett retired eight in a row from the first through fourth innings, then pitched around trouble over his final two innings to reach the magical six inning plateau. His biggest mistake was a high fastball to Kouzmanoff, who sent the ball out to right for a two run homer that cut the Yanks’ lead in half.

In the end, Burnett’s final line was six innings, six hits, three runs (all earned), two walks, and a season high tying eight strikeouts. Obviously we can’t deem him cured based on this one outing, but it was an encouraging sign nonetheless. Maybe he found his release point or some other mechanical idiosyncrasy that allowed him to throw the curveball with some more consistency. That would really be the best thing to come out of this game, nevermind the win.

Leftovers

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Tex is now 8-for-10 with two doubles and two homers in the series. In fairness, two of his hits today were bleeders that found holes through the infield, but when you’re hot, you’re hot. And damn is he hot right now.

Hooray for Curtis Granderson singling to the opposite field off a lefty. That would have been a minor miracle back in June. He also picked up another hit later in the game, again off a southpaw.

Frankie Cervelli was pinch hit for in the eighth inning, though I’m not sure if it was just Joe Girardi attempting to generate an insurance run, or if he was banged up. Cervelli really took a pounding back there an inning or two earlier, with one shot off the inside of his right knee looking particularly painful. Lance Berkman went to the plate for Frankie, and doubled to the right-centerfield wall on the first big league pitch he’s seen in over two weeks.

Jorge Posada had a legitimate beef when he got tossed for arguing balls and strikes one batter after Berkman’s double, the ball was literally in the other batter’s box. It was pretty funny to watch him go back and draw a line in the dirt with his bat showing where the pitch crossed the plate, we don’t normally see Jorge do things like that. Good thing they had Chad Moeller around.

Austin Kearns broke an 0-for-19 skid with a single and Derek Jeter picked up just his third hit in 36 trips to the plate.

Not only did the Yankees win, but so did the Rays and Red Sox. That means the lead in the division remained at one, and the lead on the Wild Card remained at eight games. The magic number to clinch a playoff spot did drop down to 22, however, which is always a good thing.

WPA Graph & Box Score

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

Up Next

These same two teams will wrap up the four game series tomorrow afternoon when CC Sabathia takes to his mound against Dallas Braden. I can’t imagine the locals will be kind to him, but then again I don’t blame them.

Montero goes deep while SWB splits doubleheader

Various notes…

  • So it turns out the Tzu-Wei Lin signing will not happen. Apparently the kid never bothered to sign the contract. Go figure. (h/t MLBTR)
  • Melky Mesa, Bradley Suttle, and manager Torre Tyson were all named to the High-A Florida State League postseason All Star Team.
  • Meanwhile, Rob Lyerly was the only Yankee farmhand named to the Low-A South Atlantic League postseason All Star Team. Congrats to everyone.

Triple-A Scranton
Game One (4-3 loss to Buffalo in 7 innings)
makeup of an August 12th rain out
Reid Gorecki, RF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 E (throwing)
Kevin Russo, 2B: 3 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB – second straight game with a two-bagger
Jesus Montero, DH: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K – just three away from tying his career high of 34 doubles, set back in 2008 … he’s already set a new career high with 18 homers
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 K
Colin Curtis, CF, Brandon Laird, 3B & P.J. Pilittere, C: all 1 for 3 – Curtis drove in a run & K’ed twice … Laird K’ed
Chad Huffman, LF & Eric Bruntlett, SS: both 0 for 3 – Huffman K’ed
Hector Noesi: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 HB, 1 WP, 6-5 GB/FB – 71 of 99 pitches were strikes … 147-27 K/BB ratio in 153.2 IP

[Read more…]

Game 133: Surviving A.J.

You can do this, A.J. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Yankees have managed to win four games in a row, a streak spanning from one A.J. Burnett start to the next. They’ve won games started by a pair of kids barely old enough to drink (legally), a forgettable journeyman, and a bonafide ace in the interim, and now it’s up to the enigmatic righty to get the job done. All we need is a crafty lefthander and a knuckleballer and we’d have hit on all the key demographics.

The Athletics are a good matchup for A.J. because they’re not going drive the ball out of the park or even to the wall that much, so he needs to make sure he doesn’t help them out with walks and let rallies spiral out of control. Easier said than done, but Burnett’s capable of doing it, and he really needs to start doing it tonight. New month, fresh start.

Thankfully the Yanks have really ramped things up offensively, scoring 20 runs in the past two nights and 84 runs in their last dozen games, an average of exactly seven runs per game. With any luck, they’ll give A.J. and the rest of the pitching staff a little breathing room. Here’s the lineup that’ll go to work against Brett Anderson, a great young starter having an injury riddled year…

Jeter, SS
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
Cano, 2B
Thames, DH
Kearns, LF
Granderson, CF
Nunez, 3B
Cervelli, C

And on the bump, it’s that Burnett guy.

First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and ESPN nationally. Get ready for some good A.J. bashing on the four-letter. Enjoy the game.