Yanks drop another to the A’s

The A’s have one of the better pitching staffs in the league, so it’s not entirely surprising that they’ve held the Yankees to eight runs in the first two games of the series. What’s surprising is that they’ve scored 12 themselves. (Even more surprisingly, A.J. Burnett has yet to pitch in this series.) This sort of thing happens during the course of a 162-game season, so there’s no reason to get worked up about it. That doesn’t make the loss any less frustrating, but hey, they play one again today — during the day, even, so we hardly have to wait until they have their next chance at a W.

  • Coco Crisp and Scott Sizemore went nuts in this one, combining to go 8 for 8 with a walk, a double, and two homers. Crisp had both homers, tagging CC for a solo homer in the first and then getting Soriano for the decisive three-run shot in the 10th. Any time you have two players hit like that, especially when they’re just one batter apart in the order, you’re probably going to have a big day on offense.
  • Nick Swisher has been demolishing baseballs lately. He homered twice in the game after hitting a three-run shot yesterday and barely missing a walk-off shot. He’s been one of the few run producers in the series.
  • How does the team get 11 hits and draw two walks, yet score only three runs? They went 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position, making them 3 for 23 in the series. Again, that’ll happen from time to time. At least this current slump comes when the Yankees already have a large lead on a playoff spot.
  • CC Sabathia looked shaky at times, but still pitched very well through seven, allowing just one run. In the seventh he ran into some trouble, but, since it was CC, Girardi let him try to pitch out of it. That backfired, and the A’s tied the game and then eventually took the lead when David Robertson entered the game. It’s tough to assign any blame there. CC was under 100 pitches and, again, had pitched generally well. Sometimes baseball’ll do that to ya.
  • As for Soriano, again, that’s going to happen from time to time. He’s pitched exceptionally well since coming off the DL. It’s agitating, yes, but that’s about it.
  • Mark Teixeira was again all or nothing, going 1 for 5 with a long home run into the right field bleachers. It tied the game, so go Mark. Of course, he also hit a humpback liner that turned into a double play with a man on second in the first inning.

Again, they’ll be back on the field at 1 p.m., so at least this one gets put behind them, and us, pretty quickly. Phil Hughes gets the ball.

DotF: Tampa wins two to stay in the playoff hunt

Some quick notes: Raul Valdes was sent to the Thunder, and Tampa two wins today brought them within one game of Dunedin. Thanks again to mbonzo for the assist.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Rochester)
Chris Dickerson, LF: 2 for 4, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 SB
Kevin Russo, DH, Jordan Parraz, RF: 1 for 3 – Both with two walks and a run scored.
Mike Lamb, 1B, Raymond Kruml, CF, Doug Bernier, C: 1 for 4 – Lamb doubled and walked, while Kruml only walked once. Bernier K’d twice.
Brandon Laird, 3B: 1 for 5, 1K
Luis Nunez, 2B: 0 for 4 – The only player to go hitless.
Gustavo Molina, C: 3 for 4 – Doubled and homered in his first game since August 13th.
David Phelps, RHP: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K’s, 1 HR, 7-7 GO/FO – 57 of his 83 pitches were strikes. Nice rebound from two terrible starts since coming back from his shoulder injury.
George Kontos, RHP: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K’s – 21 of his 27 pitches were strikes. He’s given up 8 ER in his last 27.2 IP. (2.60 ERA)

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Game 127: No A-Rod again, again

The Yankee third baseman, who made a cameo appearance on Sunday, is again out of the lineup with a sore thumb. He says it’s starting to feel better, but he won’t be taking the field today. His fleeting 0-fer over the weekend seems like just a dream. Perhaps he’ll return tomorrow and spare us more of Eduardo Nuñez’s helmet flying off.

Meanwhile, it’s CC day. The Yankee ace is going for his 18th win, but August has not been the kindest month. He’s 2-2 with a 5.28 ERA this month and has allowed 39 hits over his last 29 innings. Hopefully, the A’s are the cure what ails him. Backing him up will be:

Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter SS
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Eduardo Nunez 3B
Francisco Cervelli C

Yankees put a waiver claim on Carlos Peña

The Yankees have claimed Carlos Peña on waivers from the Cubs, according to Jon Heyman. Peña, working on a one-year, $10-million, is hitting .223/.342/.450 with 23 home runs and a .343 wOBA. Against righties, however, he has an .865 OPS and a .374 wOBA and would give the Yankees a power bat to platoon with Andruw Jones at DH and an option to spell Mark Teixeira at first base. Peña, who provides more power and defensive versatility, than Jorge Posada would be an intriguing waiver pickup for the Yanks, but odds are slim that the Cubs simply let him go or work out a deal with the Yanks. Ken Rosenthal says a a deal is unlikely and that the Cubs are “reluctant to make a move.” Chicago has until 1 p.m. on Friday to make a decision, and we’ll have more as this story develops.

Where have you gone, Bartolo Colon?

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)

When Joe Girardi yanked Bartolo Colon from last night’s game, he did so shortly after the right-hander had racked up inning 130 for the season. Somehow, the Yanks’ big gamble has paid off. Colon, making just $900,000 this year, has made 20 starts for the Yanks, has won eight games and was a stud throughout May and into June. The wheels though might be coming loose.

Colon’s outing last night was one I’d characterize as good enough. Usually, allowing three runs to another team over six innings would be enough to allow the Yanks’ offense to take over. Colon threw a few bad sliders to Brandon Allen and Eric Sogard, but before the 7th, he had been effective even if not efficient. His final line — 6.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5 K — isn’t pretty, particularly against the A’s, but that’s also due to Boone Logan‘s failures.

For Colon, though, his outing was his second straight in which he struggled, and since coming off the disabled list with a hamstring injury, he hasn’t been nearly as good as he once was. Before he hurt himself covering first, he appeared in 13 games and made 10 starts, eight of which were quality starts. In 78.1 innings, he had a 3.10 ERA/3.44 FIP and allowed 66 hits, 18 walks and nine home runs while striking out 72. Opponents hit .227/.272/.375 with a .268 BABIP, and he averaged just over 14 pitches per inning.

His last ten starts have not been nearly as effective. Since his return, he sports a 4.61 ERA/4.48 FIP in 52.2 innings and has allowed 65 hits and eight home runs while walking 14 and striking out just 40. Just four of his ten outings have been quality starts. Opponents have hit .302/.352/.507 off of him with a .339 BABIP, and he is now averaging over 17 pitches per inning.

Clearly, something has changed for Big Bart since his early season success. Colon, who hasn’t reached this lofty level of innings since 2005 and threw over the winter as well, denies being tired, but his approach has changed. Prior to his injury, 86 percent of his pitches were fastballs. Of those, 48 percent were four-seamers and 38 percent were two-seamers. Since his return, 55.7 percent of pitches were four-seamers while just 24 percent were two-seamers. Sliders and change-ups now account for over 20 percent of his pitch selection.

To make matters worse, his pitches haven’t been moving as much. His fastballs and sliders have seen less vertical movement over the past ten starts, and his slider has seen more horizontal movement than before. It has become a bit flatter, and as Allen’s monster shot showed last night, Major League hitters have no problems with flat, fat 83 mph sliders. That ball reached the upper deck above right field.

Today, Joe Girardi expressed his concern about Colon’s disappearing two-seamer. The skipper said to Jack Curry that the two-seam fastball has “been a very important pitch for him and we need to get it going.” That much, at least, is obvious.

In an ideal world, the Yankees would figure out a way to give Colon some extended rest over the next few weeks because they will need him at his best for the playoffs. If A.J. Burnett were pitching even adequately, the club could afford to tinker with the rotation, but unless they’re willing to give Hector Noesi or Adam Warren a spot start or two, Colon will get the ball every few days. Even as it gets late in the season, it’s too early, meanwhile, to say that the wheels have come off completely for Colon, but he’s not the pitcher — both stuff- and results-wise — that he was earlier this year.