Martin’s homer gives Yanks fourth win in a row

Interleague play always seems to be kind to the Yankees, and 2011 is no different. Wednesday’s win gave them their fifth interleague series win in five tries, and they did it by giving A.J. Burnett some rare run support.

And boom goes the dynamite.

The Big(-ish) Inning

The Brewers were nursing a one-zip lead into the fourth inning, milking Shaun Marcum’s changeup for all it’s worth. The righty pitched around trouble in the first (runner on second, two outs), second (man on first, one out), and third (first and second, one out), but his luck ran out in the fourth.

Robinson Cano started the inning with booming triple to dead center, but that was only the second hardest hit on the play. Nyjer Morgan ran full speed into the wall, falling to his knees while Ryan Braun came over to field the ball. It was a brutal but hilarious collision; it’s okay to laugh since he was fine. Nick Swisher tied things up with a solid single to right, then Jorge Posada moved him to third with a single off the right field wall. With men on first and second and none out, the Yankees were set up for a big inning, and Russell Martin cut right to the chase.

Marcum jumped out ahead on the Yankees catcher, starting him off with two quick strikes. The third pitch was that changeup, but it hung up just a bit and Martin golfed it out and into the left field seats, his tenth homer of the season and first extra-base hit in 68 at-bats. Russ has been struggling with the bat, no doubt about it, and he needed that hanging changeup more than anyone else in the lineup. An inning that started with a one-run deficit ended with a three-run lead.

Hey Hey, It’s Good A.J.

A.J. did need a little help from the defense.

It wasn’t a good start for Burnett, but it was the finish that matters. The Brewers manufactured a first inning run on a walk, stolen base, and single, but A.J. settled down and retired 12 of the next 15 men he faced. Burnett’s biggest test came in the sixth, when Jonathan Lucroy started the inning with a simple little single back up the middle. Rickie Weeks hit a rocket to short that the Yankees could only turn into one out (Lucroy out at second), then Morgan singled to center to bring the big bats to the plate as the tying run.

A.J. started Braun off with some curveballs, but he fell behind in the count and laid a fastball right in there. Braun hit a bullet to Alex Rodriguez at third, but he was off-balance and didn’t get the throw to first in time. Now the bases were loaded with one out, and Prince Fielder was at the plate. He did the Yankees a favor and hacked at the first pitch, a changeup, and grounded it to Mark Teixeira at first who got the force out at second (the runner at third scored). The two superstars were gone, but the tying run was still at the plate. Burnett gave Corey Hart two curveballs after a first pitch fastball, and a weak ground out to third ended the inning and the threat.

It’s cliche but it’s true, this was one of those innings that would have turning into a multi-run nightmare last year. Burnett made his pitches and navigated the 3-4-5 hitters with men on base without allowing them to hit the ball out of the infield. Those three batters were three of the nine biggest plays of the game according to WPA, and they all went the Yankees way. Burnett’s night ended with just two runs allowed on seven hits and two walks in seven innings, though he only struck out four. He did get eleven ground ball outs compared to five in the air, though.

Splat.

Leftovers

Burnett had a chance to finish to go even longer, but Eduardo Nunez started the eighth inning out with his ninth error as a shortstop, skipping a throw to Tex like a rock on a lake. David Robertson came in and cleaned up the mess, striking out Braun on three pitches in the process. He did the same to Joey Votto last week, so that’s two of the very best hitters in baseball that he absolutely depantsed over the last seven days. I don’t think Mariano Rivera even broke a sweat during his flawless ninth inning.

Posada’s such a bad baserunner that he got tagged out on a homerun. Seriously. Jorge yanked Tim Dillard’s pitch over the fence in right in the sixth, but it bounced back onto the field of play and the Brewers applied the tag between first and second. The play was eventually reviewed and deemed a homerun, a solo shot and Posada’s second in three games.

As for the rest of the offense, Tex and A-Rod managed to combine for a big fat 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. Alex’s eight game hitting streak came to end with three whiffs. Curtis Granderson drew two more walks, Brett Gardner slashed a double, and Swisher walked in addition to the single. The Grandyman also stole a base and made a gorgeous catch in center to start an inning ending double play in the first. He ran down the ball near the warning track, fired to Cano who executed a perfect relay throw to first to double off the runner. Curtis’ catch was fantastic, but Cano’s relay was awe worthy. He caught it and delivered a chest-high strike to Tex all in one motion. Just gorgeous.

After the final out, during the postgame interview on the field, this happened (paraphrasing)…

Martin: “I don’t know how many at-bats it’s been since my last extra-base hit.”
Kim Jones: “Do you want me to tell you?”
Martin: “No, don’t tell me. Don’t tell me.”
Kim Jones: “It was 68 at-bats.”

Way to rub it in, Kim. Anyway, the Yankees have now won four games in a row, tying a season high winning streak that they’ve done several times before. They’re also a season high 16 games over .500 and have won 26 of 38 games since that ugly six game losing stretch we all seem to have forgotten about. The lead in the division sits at three games in the loss column after the Red Sox were unable to beat one of the Phillies’ vaunted aces (Vance Worley).

WPA Graph & Box Score

That’s a nice one, love those big one inning spikes when they go the Yankees’ way. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

The Yankees will go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon, when lefties CC Sabathia and Randy Wolf give it a go at 1:05pm ET. RAB Tickets can get you to the game dirt cheap.

Heeeeeeeeeeee’s back! Mitre’s a Yankee

Via Tom Haudricourt, the Yankees have acquired Sergio Mitre from the Brewers for cash. He had been designated for assignment the other day. Buddy Carlyle has been DFA’ed to clear room on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters. It’s just a marginal upgrade (at best), and I think we can all agree that Mitre is better than Carlyle. This one’s for the lulz.

The Hughes Rehab Tour dazzles in Trenton

Update: The second Low-A Charleston game is over and has been added to the post.

Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Corban Joseph, and Austin Romine are heading to the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game. Ben Gamel and Conor Mullee have been placed on the disabled list with Henry Pena and Ben Paullus taking their spots on Short Season Staten Island’s roster. Mark Montgomery has been promoted from Staten Island to Low-A Charleston. Melky Mesa‘s rehab with High-A Tampa is over, and he is back with Double-A Trenton. Addison Maruszak was bumped to Triple-A Scranton to fit him on the roster.

Double-A Trenton (3-2 win over New Hampshire) there was some serious heat in the house today: Brian Cashman, Gene Michael, Billy Eppler, and Mark Newman were all at the game to watch…
Phil Hughes, RHP: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1-6 GB/FB – he threw 61 of 88 pitches (scheduled for 85) for strikes (69.3%), and 48 of those pitchers were between 91-94 mph … he hit 93 a total of 18 times in the first six innings, which is 18 more times than he did in April … one scout said his command was “much better” than his last rehab start, when he didn’t make it out of the fourth … Mike Ashmore has video of the game and press conference … from watching the online feed, he got a ton of swings and misses on the fastball (wish I’d counted), which has as much to do with Double-A competition as it does the quality of his stuff … it also looked like he tired in that last inning, his command went a little south … I would be in favor of Hughes making at least one more rehab start, it would be good to have him empty the tank and see how he comes back in five days before activating him off the disabled list
Ray Kruml, RF: 3 for 4, 1 R, 1 3B – forget Phil, this is FOUR straight games with a triple! … he’s got 19 hits in his last 47 at-bats (.404)
Corban Joseph, 2B & DeAngelo Mack, LF: both 0 for 3 – CoJo walked, Mack whiffed
Austin Romine, C: 2 for 4 - also threw out a runner trying to steal second … 12 for his last 39 (.308)
Cody Johnson, DH: 1 for 4, 1 RBI
Bradley Suttle, 3B: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Melky Mesa, CF: 0 for 4
Rob Lyerly, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI – was a legit bomb off the top of the signage in right-center
Jose Pirela, SS: 1 for 3
Cory Arbiso, RHP: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K – allowed Hughes’s inherited runner to score
Shaeffer Hall, LHP: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2-0 GB/FB

[Read more…]

IFA News: Andujar, Marcos, DePaula, Paniagua

Teams can begin signing newly-eligible international free agents this Saturday, and Ben Badler of Baseball America brings us up to speed with who might be going where (subs. req’d). One of the Yankees’ top targets is Dominican third baseman Miguel Andujar, who is said to have “good bat speed, an advanced righthanded swing and has shown the ability to hit both fastballs and offspeed pitches.” They’ve also been connected to Dominican center fielder Manny Marcos, who you can read about here.

Badler also provides an update on Rafael DePaula, who signed with the Yankees for six-figures over the winter. DePaula had an interview with the U.S. Consolate last month and is awaiting a visa after being suspended for age and identity fraud. Juan Carlos Paniagua, who signed for $1.1M, is also awaiting a visa. Neither player’s contract will become official until they actually get the okay to come to the United States.

Game 78: Trying for four in a row

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Jay?? via Creative Commons license)

Does anyone even read these things anyway? I’m guessing no. Here’s the lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nick Swisher, RF
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C
Eduardo Nunez, SS

A.J. Burnett, RHP

YES will have the game at 7:05pm ET. Enjoy.

Injury News: Eric Chavez is running at full speedRafael Soriano is almost ready to throw off a mound … if he’s ready by Saturday, Derek Jeter will playing in a rehab game(s) with Double-A Trenton … Phil Hughes may not need another rehab start, he looked pretty sharp today.