Fan Confidence Poll: August 30th, 2010

Record Last Week: 3-3 (34 RS, 33 RA)
Season Record: 80-50 (697 RS, 534 RA, 82-48 Pythag. record), tied for first in the AL East
Schedule This Week: vs. Athletics (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), vs. Blue Jays (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Nova nails first MLB win in 2-1 thriller

Amidst rumors of an MLB probe, Yankee rookie Ivan Nova threw a gem against the White Sox on Sunday afternoon. He held the Chicago offense to one run over 5.2 innings, and the Yanks’ bullpen, shaky on Saturday night, spun 3.1 scoreless innings as the Yanks grabbed the rubber match of this three-game set 2-1.

Nova settles in

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Ivan Nova isn’t one of the heralded arms leading the Yankee farm system this season. He doesn’t generate the same kind of buzz as a Brackman, Betances or Banuelos does. But for the second straight start, he has beguiled Major League hitters, lending stability to a shaky Yankee rotation. On Sunday, he earned himself the game ball as he picked up his first Big League win.

As he did against Toronto, Nova showed confidence in his stuff on Sunday. He averaged 94 with a live fastball and hit 96/97 regularly. He showed good velocity separation with his change-up and threw his curveball for strikes as well. As the stuff was there, so too were the results. Through 5.2 innings, he struck out seven Chicago hitters, and the White Sox lone run came on a Juan Pierre RBI single. The Yankees needed a good pitching performance, and Nova, all of 23 years old, delivered.

After the game, Joe Girardi announced that Nova would start next weekend against Toronto, and it will be interesting to see how a team fares against him in his second turn in short order. Nova is clearly on a short leash; he started leaving the ball up in the sixth, and Girardi took no chances after just 88 pitches. The Blue Jays, as we saw, are a solid offensive club, and facing them will be a true test for a pitcher who could be a key player in the Yanks’ rotation in September.

Let the good Thames roll

Marucs Thames does the hokey pokey. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

With Gavin Floyd on the mound, the Yanks couldn’t get much of anything going, but Marcus Thames came through in the second. Pressed into service against a right-hander because the team wanted to give Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira remains sidelined by a sore hand, Thames led off the sixth with a booming home run to left field. The Yankees had a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.

“I’m a power guy,” Thames said after the game. “And it’s big for power guys: You have to get into a rhythm to get some stuff going. But I know my role, so I don’t need to start putting pressure on myself. I’m just glad if I hit the ball hard every time I get a chance.”

For Thames, this homer was his ninth of the season and his fifth in his last four starts. On the season, he is hitting .320/.401/.544 in limited playing time. Considering how badly a pair of Brian Cashman‘s other off-season pick-ups have fared, Thames’ solid play is a breath of fresh air for the Yanks. He’s a true weapon off the bench and has delivered during his starts as well. As long as the Yanks don’t need Thames to put on a glove, he’s a fine contributor and at 1 win above replacement and counting, well worth the money the Yanks are spending.

This is how you fist-pump properly. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Cervelli’s big day

For all the grief I’ve given Francisco Cervelli this season, I can’t wrap up this game without a nod to his 4-for-4 performance. It is but the second time in his professional career that the offensively-challenged catcher has knocked out four hits in one day, and on Sunday, Cervelli scored what would be the winning run.

On a 3-1 pitch to start the third, Cervelli roped a double to right field. After fouling off a bunt attempt, Brett Gardner swung away on 0-2 and lined a single to center. Cervelli scored, and the Yanks would plate no more men throughout the rest of the game.

Cervelli’s day wasn’t a good one just at the plate either. He had his moments behind the dish as well. With Joba on the bump to start the eighth inning, Paul Konerko reached on an error by Eduardo Nuñez. Brent Lillibridge came on to pinch run, and the stolen base was clearly in the mix. Lillibridge went, and Cervelli threw a strike to Robinson Cano. It was a huge out for the Yanks as Andrew Jones singled in the at-bat. Cervelli hasn’t been a defensive whiz this year, and with Jesus Montero knocking on the door, his time on the Yanks may be limited. But on Sunday, he gave the team its biggest late-inning WPA bump as the White Sox’s win expectancy dropped from 40.9 to 24.8 with that caught stealing. It was a good moment for the beleaguered Cervelli.

To end the game, Joe Girardi was able to mix and match with the bullpen. Although Kerry Wood came dangerously close to blowing the lead, the pen, so bad on Saturday, sealed the deal for Nova, Cervelli and Thames — three unlikely heroes — on Sunday.

WPA Graph

Box scores: ESPN and Fangraphs.

Up Next

With the Rays’ nailing two out of three from Boston, Tampa Bay and the Yankees remain tied atop the AL East as Boston slips 6.5 games behind the pack. The Yankees will take on the Oakland A’s tonight at 7:05 p.m. at the stadium in the Bronx. Dustin Moseley (4-2, 4.53) will face the man with a .215 BABIP and AL Cy Young candidate Trevor Cahill (14-5, 2.43).

Montero’s two homers help SWB to division title

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Buffalo) thanks to the win, they are the North Division champs for the fourth straight year
Kevin Russo, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – had been just three for his last 27 (.111)
Greg Golson, CF: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB
Jesus Montero, C: 2 for 4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI – 12 for his last 34 (.353) with a double and four homers … one of the homers was pulled, the other went to the opposite field … that gives him 18 homers for the season, a new career high
Juan Miranda, 1B & Jorge Vazquez, DH: both 0 for 4 – Miranda struck out once, JoVa four freaking times
Colin Curtis, RF: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 HBP – 14 for his last 39 (.359) with seven doubles and a homer … he’s pretty locked in right now, could be a nice little surprise for the Yanks in September
Chad Huffman, LF: 2 for 4
Brandon Laird, 3B: 0 for 3 – he’s stuck in a real bad rut, just 11 for his last 76 (.145) … he didn’t run out a grounder and got booed
Eric Bruntlett, SS: 0 for 3, 1 K
D.J. Mitchell: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 9-6 GB/FB – 57 of 99 pitches were strikes … very nice for his second AAA start
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, zeroes, 1-2 GB/FB – half of his eight pitches were strikes
Eric Wordekemper: 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K - just four of his 13 pitches were strikes
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 0-2 GB/FB – eight of his 13 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Heading home on a high note

Frank Thomas once hit .353/.487/.729 in a full big league season. True story. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Kinda hard to believe those two runs held up today, isn’t it? Well I’m glad they did, the Yankees needed to go back home on a high note. In fact, they’re on their way back to the Bronx right now to start their longest homestand of the season, a ten gamer that will feature visits from the A’s, Blue Jays, and Orioles. Perfect opportunity to get fat before crunch time.

Tonight’s ESPN Sunday Night Game is relevant to the Yanks, with the Rays taking on the Red Sox in Tampa (Shields vs. Lackey). Who do you want to the win? I wish there was a way for both to lose, but since there isn’t, I’m pulling for Tampa. Bury the Sox and secure a playoff spot first, then worry about winning the division. Anyway, I think the Emmy’s are on tonight as well, though I could be wrong. Not my cup of tea, but to each his own. Anyway, use the thread as you see fit.

Berkman to join Double-A Trenton for rehab tomorrow

Out since August 15th with an ankle injury, Lance Berkman is set to join Double-A Trenton on a rehab assignment tomorrow. “I don’t anticipate he’ll need a ton,” said Joe Girardi in reference to the number of rehab at-bats Berkman would need, “but you just have to see how it goes.” Rosters expand on Wednesday, so the smart money is on Berkman playing with the Thunder tomorrow and Tuesday before rendezvousing with the team in New York.

Of course, the DL stint wasn’t completely necessary to start with, but remember the Yanks were dealing with a bit of a roster crunch at the time. Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were both banged up, and at one point the team had a one man bench. Hopefully Berkman comes back strong and adds some length to the lineup.

Update: Berkman’s comment: “I know fans can’t wait for me to continue my pursuit of the Mendoza line.” I laughed.

Game 130: Take the series

Save us Alex, you're our only hope. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Joe Girardi always says that he and his team focus on winning series, something the Yankees did so well and so often earlier this year. The wins aren’t coming as easily of late, but they have a chance today to capture their third series in their last four tries. Standing in their way is Gavin Floyd, who recently ran off a 12 start stretch in which he allowed more than one earned run just twice, and both of those times he allowed just two runs. However, he has allowed 15 runs (19 IP) in his last three starts, so hopefully that’s the guy the Yanks run into today.

Mark Teixeira, the player selected one spot after Floyd in the 2001 draft, gave his injured hand a try during pregame warm-ups, but he’s a no go. Here’s the lineup…

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

And on the bump, it’s Ivan “don’t call me Chevy” Nova.

First pitch is scheduled for a little after 2pm ET and can be seen on YES locally or TBS nationally. Enjoy the game.

Pettitte feels good after latest bullpen session

Via Chad Jennings, Andy Pettitte said he felt good after throwing a 35-pitch bullpen session today as he continues his rehab from a groin strain. The final 20 pitches were thrown with the same intensity as a normal bullpen session, an encouraging sign. “I heated it up pretty good,” said Pettitte. “I just felt good.” He estimated that the earliest he could return is two weeks, which I hope is not too soon. The last thing the Yanks need is for Andy to push himself too hard and suffer another setback.