CC on the money again as Yanks complete sweep

Every five days the Yankees have one of the top five pitchers in the league take the mound for them. It’s not only a great feeling, but after the pitching drought of 2004 through 2008 it is a privileged feeling. Sabathia again worked his magic, holding the A’s to just one hit in eight innings. That was easily enough for the Yankees to win this game and complete their second straight sweep of the A’s.

Biggest Hits: Yard

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Did the Yankees players really care about Dallas Braden’s antics in April? Even if they did then I doubt they do now. We’re months removed from the incident. Even if it had happened yesterday, it’s still just a pitcher who embarrassed himself by acting like a clown over some nonsensical unwritten rule that many former players can’t even recall. So whatever. Maybe the Yanks wanted to pound the kid more than usual. Maybe they just approached the game like they would any other game.

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Braden did pitch well through five innings, allowing just one run on two hits and two walks while striking out four. The one run came in the second when Braden made a big mistake to Jorge Posada. Gameday lists it as a sinker at 83 mph, and it was right down the middle. Jorge blasted it to the biggest part of the park, but it went out anyway. That was the only run they’d actually need, but in the second inning you always want to tack on. The Yanks wold have to wait three more innings for that to happen.

Curtis Granderson was supposed to get the day off, but Nick Swisher went and injured his knee in the first. That set up Granderson to face a lefty. He grounded out on the first pitch in his first trip, but the second Braden-Granderson meeting got cut short. Braden appeared a little uncomfortable after delivering a pitch and had to leave the game. A’s manager Bob Geren opted to go with another lefty, Jerry Blevins, as his replacement. He started off well, picking Derek Jeter off first. But his at-bat against Granderson got a bit drawn out.

On the seventh pitch Blevins dealt a fastball belt high inside, and Granderson crushed it to double the Yanks’ lead. He came up again the next inning, this time with a runner on first and two outs. The righty Mike Wuertz got a called strike on the outside corner, but then came in with his third best pitch, a changeup. Wuertz, as you might recall, has a nasty slider that he normally throws more than half the time. He didn’t go there this time, and Granderson punished a high, inside pitch for his second homer of the game. That again doubled the lead, which was in good hands with CC on the mound.

Biggest Pitch: CC stifles the threats

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

It’s hard to believe given the game’s result, but this game wasn’t as well at hand in the early innings. The Yanks weren’t putting many men on base, and when they were they weren’t advancing them. They had the lead and their ace was on the mound, but even an ace gives up runs here and there. The A’s had some opportunities, but Sabathia gave them nothing.

In the third the A’s had their first chance to get on the board. Posada had an easy play to get Cliff Pennington on his way to first, but he made a terrible throw that got far enough away that Pennington could take second. Coco Crisp advanced him to third on an out, giving the A’s a chance to tie the game without a hit. It was up to Rajai Davis. That should tell the entire story. He swung at the first pitch, a slider breaking towards him, and popped it up to the first base side. Kurt Suzuki then struck out, leaving Pennington standing on third.

The A’s went quietly in the fourth, but then finally got a runner on base again in the fifth. Landon Powell walked with one out. It might not seem like a big deal, but considering Sabathia had allowed just two balls to reach the outfield at that point it was relatively significant. That brought Pennington back to the plate. He quickly fell behind 0-2 and then grounded a slider right to Eduardo Nunez. It went around the horn and ended the inning.

Miscellany

In case you missed it between the game and now, Swisher hurt his knee and is day to day.

The outfielders had a boring day. Sabathia allowed just three balls to reach them all day. Albaladejo gave them a reprieve in the ninth when he induced two fly outs, one to left and one to right. No Yankee center fielder touched the ball yesterday.

Granderson went 1 for 2 with a homer against lefties. That was his 31st hit in 137 PA against left-handed pitching this year. Last year he had 33 hits in 199 PA against LHP. Last year he hit .183/.245/.239. This year he’s hitting .246/.285/.365. That’s not great — not good, even — but an unquestionable improvement. Since the swing tweaks he’s hitting .288/.366/.603.

You know who else has been on a little tear? Jorge Posada. He’s 17 for his last 50 (.340) with eight walks (.450 OBP) and eight extra base hits (.680 SLG).

CC Sabathia certainly is making a Cy Young push. With yesterday’s performance he lowered his ERA to 3.02 and his FIP to 3.54. He also crossed the 200-inning mark for the fourth consecutive season. The fewest number of innings he has pitched in a season is 180, when he was a 20-year-old rookie.

Graph and box

More at FanGraphs. The box score, too, looks pretty.

Up Next

Day Game 2 of 5 tomorrow afternoon as Brandon Morrow makes his final start of the 2010 season. Ivan Nova goes for the Yanks.

Brandon Laird’s big day

Brandon Laird was named not only the MVP of the Double-A Eastern League today, but also the Rookie of the Year as well. Pretty big day in the Laird household, so congrats to him. He was quiet awesome (.371 wOBA) with the Thunder this season.

Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez, Ramon Flores, and Anderson Feliz were named to the Rookie level Gulf Coast League postseason All Star team.

Triple-A Scranton (9-2 win over Buffalo)
Reid Gorecki, CF: 0 for 5, 1 K
Kevin Russo, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 HBP
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K – 11 for his last 34 (32.4%) with three doubles and three homers
Robby Hammock, C: 0 for 1 – replaced Montero with SWB up by 9th in the late innings … they had a doubleheader yesterday, nothing wrong with giving the kid a little rest
Juan Miranda, 1B: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 K – just six hits in his last ten games, but five of them have gone for extra bases (three doubles, two homers)
Jorge Vazquez, DH: 1 for 3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K – nine of his 17 walks have come in the last eight games
Colin Curtis, RF: 0 for 3, 1 HBP
Chad Huffman, LF: 2 for 4, 1 R
Brandon Laird, 3B: 3 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 E (fielding) – breaks out of his slump of his big day
Eric Bruntlett, SS: 3 for 4, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI – big night
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 6-5 GB/FB – 65 of 94 pitches were strikes (69.1%) … two runs or fewer in six of his last seven starts
George Kontos: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 4-0 GB/FB – 19 of his 30 pitches were strikes (63.3%)

[Read more…]

Open Thread: Six in a row and ready for more

(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Don’t cry, Dallas. Maybe one day you’ll be good enough to pitch on CC’s mound.

Seriously though, how awesome was the big guy today? It looked like Sabathia was throwing a low intensity bullpen session most of the afternoon; he could probably start again on Saturday. Six wins in a row and the magic number for a playoff spot is down to 21, which a chance to drop to 20 tonight if the Red Sox fall to the Orioles.

Here’s your open thread for the night. The Mets are going to get their asses kicked in Atlanta again, plus the Tigers and Twins will be on the MLB Network (depending on where you live). There are also various college football games going on as well. Chat about whatever you want; just don’t be a dick.

Aceves scratched from tonight’s rehab appearance

Update (7:50pm): Yep, he’s back in New York to see the doc about his back. Not good.

6:19pm: Via Mike Ashmore, Al Aceves has been scratched form his rehab outing with Double-A Trenton tonight and has instead returned to New York. It’s possible that he’s going to have his back re-examined, which is what’s had him on the shelf basically all season. Aceves’ rehab schedule hasn’t been going very well – 11.2 IP, 14 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, 11 K with various minor league affiliates – so this news isn’t terribly surprising. Like I’ve been saying, whatever the Yanks get out of Aceves this season is a bonus, and it’s entirely possible he contributes nothing the rest of the way.

Injury Updates: A-Rod, Andy

As the Yankees wrapped up a four-game sweep of the A’s today, they seemed to be firing on all cylinders, and yet, the team is still missing a few key pieces. First to return will be A-Rod, now officially Cameron Diaz’s boyfriend. The Yankees’ third baseman, recovering from a calf injury, will be activated on Sunday when his 15-day stint on the DL is up. He doesn’t think, however, that he’ll be at full strength and would rather take a few extra days’ rest than push it too early. “I’m taking a very precautionary approach and we want to be conservative and we want to make sure we are as close to 100 percent as possible,” he said. “I’m trying to come out of the box 100 percent, which was a big challenge last time.” Rodriguez has participated in baseball drills but has yet to test the calf in a game situation. Getting him back lengthens the lineup and bench tremendously.

Meanwhile, Andy Pettitte, working his way back from a bad groin strain, threw 55 pitches prior to yesterday’s game and reportedly felt no pain today. He’s still on pace to throw a simulated game on Saturday and will make at least one and perhaps two rehab starts, if the Minor League schedule allows it. As long as he suffers no further setbacks, he should be back by mid-September with enough time left to build up arm strength before the playoffs. A healthy Pettitte will be a major part of a deep October run.

Oppenheimer a candidate for Diamondbacks GM opening

Via Ken Rosenthal, Yankees director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer is one of at least six candidates that the Diamondbacks plan to speak with about their vacant general manager position. Formal interview requests have not yet been made, however.

Oppenheimer was mentioned as a candidate for the job as soon as ex-GM Josh Byrnes was fired, and he is routinely considered one of the best GM prospects in the game. Along with director of pro scouting Billy Eppler, who was considered for the Padres GM job last year, the Yankees have a pair of future GM’s in their front office, and really it’s only a matter of time before both guys move on to bigger and better things.

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.