Yanks can’t finish off Tigers, lose on a walk-off

Source: FanGraphs

Sometimes, teams just find a way to lose. The Yankees did just that on Saturday night, failing to capitalize on the numerous chances they were given by the Tigers’ bullpen. I mean … Detroit’s relievers did everything but put a bow on it. It was right there for the taking. Anyway, let’s recap…

  • No Help: Did you know that Hiroki Kuroda came into this game 116th out of 120 qualified starters in run support? They Yankees have now scored two runs or less while Kuroda was on mound is seven of his last eight starts, which is just hard to believe. He pitched very well on Saturday, allowing just two runs — one on a monster homer by Miguel Cabrera, which I wouldn’t hold against any pitcher — in seven innings while throwing just 86 pitches. The 39-minute rain delay in the first inning likely contributed to his early exit.
  • Rally To Tie: Raul Ibanez plated the Yankees’ first round with a ground out, but the (first) tying run crossed the plate when Nick Swisher singled in Mark Teixeira with two outs in the eighth. Jim Leyland did New York a favor by putting Octavio Dotel in the game with five straight left-handed batters due up. It was a pretty big hit by Swisher.
  • Give It Back: Cory Wade served up a walk-off homer in Anaheim and a potential game winning homer on Saturday in Detroit. Cabrera hit it with two outs and the bases empty, and I wonder why he was thrown anything remotely close to the plate. Can’t let him beat you in that spot, take your chances with Boone Logan against Fielder.
  • Rally To Tie (Part II): Jose Valverde wanted the Yankees to win. I don’t have any other explanation. He hit Russell Martin, walked Derek Jeter, hit Alex Rodriguez, and then walked Teixeira to force in the tying run. Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano frustratingly popped up in between, but Tex took what was given to him, and that was four balls. The double steal with one out and A-Rod at the plate was just brilliant, well-timed with a slow pitcher on the mound and a right-handed batter in the box. Pinch-runner Dewayne Wise said after the game he went on his own, so major props to him.
  • Game Over: Once the game goes into the bottom of the ninth tied, I have a hard time expected the road team to win regardless of who it is. The Yankees didn’t disappoint, as David Phelps created a mess Logan couldn’t escape. I question the decision to take Wade out after just 13 pitches, but what can you do. I know he has a shiny ERA, but the Yankees need a little more out of Phelps with the bullpen short due to injury. Brennan Boesch and Jhonny Peralta are hugging the Mendoza Line, you gotta get ahead on those guys and keep them off base. Anyway, former Yankees farmhand Omir Santos’ bases loaded sacrifice fly ended it with one out in the ninth. The game was over as soon as Logan was ordered to intentionally load the bases as far as I’m concerned.
  • Leftovers: Joe Girardi and Kevin Long were ejected in the seventh for apparently complaining about the strike zone, but it didn’t happen until home plate ump Bob Davidson wandered over to the dugout … the Yankees stole five total bases (including two on that great double steal), a new season-high by a mile (previous high was two, done five times) … the Yanks were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and the at-bats by Granderson and Cano in the ninth were by far the worst … the DH spot had three hits (two by Eric Chavez, one by Andruw Jones) but everyone else in the lineup had no more than one … Don Kelly robbed Mark Teixeira of an opposite field solo homer in the fourth … give Leyland some credit, he used his best reliever (Joaquin Benoit) with the top of the order due up in the seventh, and he pitched them out of the jam without giving up a run. Hooray leveraging.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees remain one game back of first place in the loss column (and two up on last place) in the ultra-competitive AL East. Five wins on a nine-game road trip is a success, but they’re going to have to go through Justin Verlander on Sunday afternoon to make it a six-win trip. Phil Hughes will be on the bump for the good guys.

DePaula debuts in the DSL

If you’re looking for video of Dante Bichette Jr.’s first (and only) homer of the season from earlier this week, well here it is. (h/t Danny)

Triple-A Empire State Game One (3-1 loss to Norfolk in seven innings) makeup of yesterday’s rain out
CF Kevin Russo, 2B Corban Joseph, 3B Brandon Laird & C Frankie Cervelli: all 1-3 — Russo struck out … Cervelli drove in a run
DH Jack Cust: 0-2, 1 BB
LF Ronnie Mustelier: 0-3
1B Russell Branyan: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B — as expected, he took over first base following the trade of Steve Pearce
RF Colin Curtis: 0-2
RHP Nelson Figueroa: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 6/5 GB/FB — 59 of 98 pitches were strikes (60.2%) … also picked a runner off first

[Read more…]

2012 Draft: Shane Watson

The 2012 amateur draft is just two days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Shane Watson | RHP

A Southern California kid from the Los Angeles suburbs, Watson garnered a lot of attention this spring for his strong performances against high-end area competition with Lakewood High School. He’s committed to USC.

Scouting Report
Listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., Watson’s bread and butter pitch is one of the best curveballs in the entire draft. It sits in the upper-70/low-80s with sharp break and he has the ability to throw it for strikes or bury it in the dirt for swings and misses. His fastball usually sits in the low-90s and he’s shown the ability to hold his velocity deep into games. He’s also flashed 96-97 in showcase events. Watson throws a changeup and a cutter but both need a lot of work. He has a clean delivery but must work on overall consistency, typical high school stuff. Watson’s athleticism and competitiveness are considered pluses as well. Here’s more video.

Baseball America (#30) and MLB.com (#34) like Watson more than Keith Law (#50) based on their recent rankings, but all three agree he’s a fringe first rounder/sandwich round player. It’s worth noting that Baseball America said the Yankees have some interest in the young righty for their first round selection (#30 overall) in their latest mock draft. I’m a fan of prep arms in general so you won’t find any complaints here, though I do like that Watson has a legitimate knockout offering in his curveball. Developing an out pitch is one less thing he’ll have to work on in pro ball.

Game 52: Another Youngster

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Yankees pounded rookie left-hander Casey Crosby in his first big league start last night, and they’re actually going to face a younger pitcher tonight. Right-hander Rick Porcello is making his 100th career start today and is more than three months younger than Crosby. That’s what happens when you jump from High-A to the show at age 20. The Yankees have won two straight and five of their last seven, so let’s see if they turn what is already a good road trip into a great road trip. Here’s the lineup…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
LF Raul Ibanez
RF Nick Swisher
DH Eric Chavez
C Russell Martin

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Tonight’s game starts at 7:15pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Robertson, Gardner Joba

Got a bunch of injury updates, courtesy of Joe Girardi via Meredith Marakovits

  • David Robertson (oblique) threw a bullpen session today and everything went well. He’ll presumably throw a few more bullpens before appearing in a minor league rehab game or three.
  • Brett Gardner (elbow) hit in the batting cage today. Girardi said yesterday that he could return as soon as next weekend. Gardner still needs to take batting practice on the field and get a few minor league rehab games in.
  • Joba Chamberlain (elbow and ankle) threw off a half-mound today, your holy cow moment of the afternoon. We’re not even three full months out from his ankle injury, so this is pretty amazing. He still has a long way to go though, remember Joba’s coming back from a rather significant elbow procedure. Still, great news.
  • David Aardsma (elbow) threw 20 fastballs in a live batting practice session today, his first time facing hitters since having Tommy John surgery last summer.

2012 Draft: Zach Eflin

The 2012 amateur draft is just two days away, so between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.

Zach Eflin | RHP

A Florida kid out of Hagerty High School in the Orlando suburbs, Eflin caught some major helium thanks to a velocity spike this spring. He missed time with triceps tendinitis in April but has since returned to the mound. He’s committed to Central Florida.

Scouting Report
A classic projectable high school right-hander at 6-foot-5 and 200 lbs., Eflin went from throwing in the upper-80s to sitting in the low-90s and touching 96 this spring. His fading changeup is one of the best in the high school crop and his inconsistent breaking ball morphs between a slider and curveball. Because he’s still growing into his body, he’s struggled to repeat his delivery and it’s led to command problems and that sketchy breaking ball. His baseball acumen and pitchability are considered pluses. Eflin’s total package screams workhorse starter down the line.

Keith Law (#14), MLB.com (#25), and Baseball America (#31) all consider Eflin a first round talent even after the triceps injury, and for what it’s worth, Baseball America had the Yankees selecting him with their first round pick (#30 overall) in their most recent mock draft. I’m a sucker for big high school arms and I like that Eflin has already shown three pitches, a rarity among prepsters. The triceps issue is a concern but it’s not like it’s his shoulder or elbow, plus he’s thrown fine in recent outings. I’m very intrigued and I sorta wish I hadn’t seen that latest mock draft because now my hopes are up.

Yankees trade Steve Pearce to Orioles for cash

The Yankees have traded Triple-A first baseman Steve Pearce to the Orioles for cash, the team announced. The 29-year-old was the best hitter on the club’s top farm system affiliate (.438 wOBA) after signing a minor league deal at the end of Spring Training. The Yankees don’t need the cash obviously, the trade is more about freeing up a roster spot for the now healthy Russell Branyan, who’s played a handful of games at High-A following back issues.

Chances are Pearce had a June 1st opt-out clause in his contract. Usually the team is given 48 hours to respond after the player triggers an opt-out, so the Yankees traded him for some cash rather than call him up or lose him for nothing. That’s all speculation on my part though.

Update: That’s exactly what happened according to Chad Jennings. Pearce triggered an opt-out in his contract and the Yankees were obligated to let him go to a team willing to put him on their 25-man active big league roster.