Game 67: Gettin’ Away

(Photo Credit: The Morning Call)

The Yankees have already won this series against the Rangers, so all that’s left is to finish off the sweep before getting away and heading to Chicago for the NL park leg of the interleague schedule. Brian Gordon is in fact getting the start, and he prepared for today by playing long toss with a staffer in the park across the street from Yankee Stadium yesterday. Oh, and Alex Rodriguez isn’t in today’s lineup. After DH’ing yesterday, I think it’s safe to say he’s banged up. Either that or they’re just resting him before six straight games in NL parks. Here’s the lineup…

Nick Swisher, RF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Andruw Jones, LF – poor Brett Gardner
Jorge Posada, DH
Russell Martin, C – oh hey, welcome back Russ
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Ramiro Pena, 3B

Brian Gordon, SP

The game can be seen on YES locally or MLB Network nationally, but if you’re stuck in the office you can always listen on WCBS 880. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET. Enjoy.

Yankees add Gordon to roster, demote Pendleton, release Sanit

Update (12:25pm): Via Peter Botte, the Yankees have flat out released Amaury Sanit to make room on the 40-man roster for Gordon. Releasing a man while he’s injured? Ouch. At least he’ll get a Major League salary for the rest of the season.

Original Post (11:55am): Via Dan Barbarisi, the Yankees have officially added Brian Gordon to the roster, and it appears as though Lance Pendleton is being sent down in the corresponding move. He was seen packing his bags. I’m not sure what the 40-man roster move is yet, though I supposed Pendleton could have been designated for assignment rather than just sent down.

When Jeter goes down: a brief history

For the bulk of his career, Derek Jeter has been the paradigm of health. Outside of suffering a freak shoulder injury on Opening Day in 2003, he had, before this week, been on the disabled list just three other teams and had never missed more than the minimum. To reach 3000 hits and over 2350 games played, health is a requirement and a skill.

So far, the Yankees haven’t exactly missed Derek Jeter during his two games on the shelf. The club has scored 24 runs in the span, and Eduardo Nuñez, Jeter’s fill in, is now 4 for 8 with a home run and two RBIs. The Yanks’ leadoff hitters, meanwhile, are 4 for 7 with four runs scored and three walks. The numbers look gaudy both because they are and because Jeter is slowing down as soon-to-be 37-year-old middle infielders are prone to do, but in this small sample, the Yanks have survived without their captain.

Of course, replacing Jeter hasn’t always been so easy. They ran through a period of using a rogue’s gallery of short stops with Jeter out. As an exercise in nothing more than history, let’s see how they did it.

DL Trip #1: June 4 – June 19, 1998

It’s almost hard to believe Derek Jeter missed any time during the Yanks’ historical run in 1998. That year, he played in 150 games, hit .324/.384/.481, stole 30 bases, landed on his first All Star team and came in third in the MVP race. Yet, he missed time with a strained abdominal muscle suffered on a check swing in June.

During the 12 games that year which Jeter missed, the Yankees went 9-3 as Luis Sojo filled in less than admirably. The fan favorite managed to hit .180/.212/.200 over 52 plate appearances, and four of his hits came in one game against the Expos. Jeter’s return on June 19 was, needless to say, a welcome one.

DL Trip #2: May 12 – May 26, 2000

Two years later, Jeter found himself back on the DL with a strained abdominal muscle. Again, he would miss only the minimum, and again, it came in a year in which he utterly dominated at the plate. In 2000, he hit .339/.416/.481 and only came in 10th in the MVP voting. During his time on the shelf, Clay Bellinger, Alfonso Soriano and Wilson Delgado attempted to replace him. Each was worse than the last.

Bellinger, a cult favorite in the early 2000s, lasted four games at short, and he went 1 for 9 before the Yanks tried to plug Soriano into that hole. Sori made two errors on the nine balls hit to him over his four games and went just 3 for 16 at the plate. Delgado played three games at short during Jeter’s DL stint and went 4 for 12. That is the very definition of holding down the fort, but the Yanks went only 4-8 during Jeter’s absence.

DL Trip #3: March 23 – April 7, 2001

The three-time World Series Champion Yankees had to open the season with their short stop out with a strained quad. Jeter, who hurt himself in Spring Training, needed a few extra days to heal, and he had to started the season on the disabled list. This time, they opened the season with Luis Sojo at short and went 3-1 without Jeter. That .750 winning percentage, though, was no thanks to Luis who went 1 for 15. He never really was a very good hitter.

DL Trip #4: April 1 – May 13, 2003

Jeter’s injury on Opening Day in 2003 has a little bit of the “where were you when…” allure to it. I was a sophomore in college in the midst of jazz band rehearsal when I got a text message (on a phone which at the time looked a little bit something like this) from my parents freaking out about Jeter. I had no idea what had happened and quickly learned that Jeter might be out for four months. My heart sank, but the Jeter-less depression was short-lived. Luckily, that turned into six weeks, and Jeter came back in mid-May.

For the Yankees, his return that year wasn’t a moment too soon. In his absence, Enrique Wilson and Erick Almonte split time at short, and Almonte was, in a word, terrible. While playing 28 games with Jeter out, Almonte managed to hit a serviceable .272/.337/.370, and he even homered in his second plate appearance on April 2. Defensively though, he cost the team 7.4 runs in just 28 games. Enrique Wilson, with a .189/.211/.324, was a nothing on offense with Jeter out. Still, the Yanks went 25-11 before the Captain came back.

By and large then, good teams are still good teams when one of their better players lands on the DL. A well-balanced team can weather the storm of a short stop on the disabled list for a few weeks, and the Yankees have certainly proved that in the past when Jeter was a better player than he is today. It’s certainly remarkable that Jeter has gone since May 13, 2003 without being on the disabled list. Hopefully, this calf strain, suffered while he jogged off the field, isn’t a harbinger of age to come. The late 30s are not often kind on an athlete’s body, and Derek would be better served fully healing now than playing through the pain as he has done so often in his career.

Yankees break out the C lineup, whoopin’ sticks in win over Rangers

This Wednesday night’s lineup was announced before the game, most of us were left scratching our heads. Nick Swisher at leadoff? Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez and Frankie Cervelli in the lineup? Yikes. It certainly qualified as the C lineup, but a few hours later it did not matter. The Yankees won big again, which is all they seem to do these days.

Two, two two-run homers. Ah ah ah.

Player of the Game: RoboTex

For all the (deserved) love we’ve given Curtis Granderson this year, Mark Teixeira has been right there with him all season, homer for homer. After falling behind two-zip in the top of the first, Tex knotted the game back up with a two-run shot to deep left field after the Grandyman took a breaking ball to the back. Derek Holland tried to get a fastball inside but it just wasn’t far enough inside, so it ended up right in Tex’s wheelhouse. That erased an early deficit and then five innings later Teixeira put it out of reach. New York was up 6-4 in the sixth and Nick Swisher was standing on first when Mark Lowe tried to squeeze a fastball inside. Tex pulled his hands in and hooked it to right field, this one much more of a no-doubter than the first.

Two homers and four runs driven in are a good week for most players, but that was the first six innings of Teixeira’s Wednesday night. He also singled in the eighth and made a beautiful unassisted double play on an Adrian Beltre line drive to end the seventh. All told, Tex went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and the two long balls, tying him with Jose Bautista and Granderson for the Major League lead with 21 homers. This was the 11th time Tex homered from both sides of the plate in the same game, tying him with Chili Davis and Eddie Murray for the most in baseball history. Isn’t that something? I’m surprised Mickey Mantle didn’t have like, 25 or 30 games like that in his career. Crazy. Also, his 296 homeruns are the most by a switch hitter in his first nine seasons in history. Again, crazy.

Rakin' Ramiro is back in the bigs. Hide your daughters.

Honorable Mention: Eduamiro Penunez

Day Two of the Derek Jeter Is On The Disabled List era went even better than Day One. Eduardo Nunez did make a boneheaded error on a not so routine but not so difficult ground ball to start the fifth, but he also hit his second homer of the year in the fourth inning, a solo shot off a hanging breaking ball to knot things up at four. He also had a single, a walk, and two stolen bases. Not a bad day for the birthday boy (he turned 24). Nunez is now 4-for-8 in two games as Jeter’s temporary replacement.

His partner on the left side of the infield for the night was Ramiro Pena, who was giving Alex Rodriguez a half day off as designated hitter. I noticed two things about Pena almost immediately when he came to the plate for the first: his batting stance is different (reminded me of Carlos Guillen’s) and he’s a little bulkier. Not fat, I mean like he filled out some. Whether the changes are real or I have a bad memory doesn’t matter, because Rakin’ Ramiro brought his hot streak from Triple-A Scranton to the Bronx with him. He went 2-for-4 on the night, clubbing his second career homerun in the sixth, an absolute no-doubter into the right field bleachers off a 97 mph fastball from Lowe. Insane, you knew it was gone right off the bat. I don’t know where this is coming from, but I like it.

Shaky Nova

Ivan Nova‘s relationship with his starting rotation spot is a love-hate one. He alternates brilliant outings with bad ones and merely acceptable ones, and this game probably falls into that third category. The Rangers hit several balls hard off him, Ian Kinsler (a leadoff single in the first and a leadoff homer in the third) in particular. Josh Hamilton also clobbered a ball to dead center for a double over Grandy’s head, and a few other guys made hard hit outs. All told, Nova walked three and allowed seven hits in his 5.2 IP of work, though he did get 13 of his 17 outs either on the ground or on strike three. I thought Joe Girardi pulled him at exactly the right time, right before he faced Kinsler (for what would have been the third time) with two men on in a two run game. Nova’s job is safe now that Bartolo Colon is hurt, but his inability to get the strikeout or consistently retire left-handed batters will be a season-long battle.

Frankie made a good.

Leftovers

Luis Ayala replaced Nova in that sixth inning, giving up a single back up the middle to Kinsler. Granderson made a gorgeous throw from center and Cervelli did a nice job of blocking the plate to simultaneously keep Yorvit Torrealba from scoring and end the inning. Bad job by Ayala, great job by Grandy and Cervelli in what was just a two run game at the time.

Speaking of Yorvit, did you catch him mouthing off to Andruw Jones because he thought he was stealing signs in the fifth? I’ve never considered stealing signs or location that heinous of a crime as long as it stays on the field. If you start getting into stuff where guys in the bullpen use binoculars and relay signs or something like that, well that’s not cool. But the runner on second? Fair game. Do a better job of hiding your signs.

Swisher went 1-for-3 with two walks from the leadoff spot, meaning that the leadoff hitters have gone 4-for-7 with three walks in Jeter’s absence. Not coincidentally, the Yankees have scored 24 runs total in those two games. A-Rod drew a pair of walks and both Jones and Cervelli picked up a single and walk. Sadly, that means Frankie will remain on the roster for the foreseeable future. Robinson Cano went 2-for-3 with a garbage time homer off Neftali Feliz, so all four members of the infield homered in this game. I can’t imagine that happens much, especially when the two future Hall of Famer aren’t playing the field for various reasons.

It doesn’t mean much now given the final score, but a big moment in the game (at the time) was Kinsler failing to tag A-Rod as he ran by in the fifth. Alex walked with one out in the fifth, then managed to scoot by the Rangers’ second baseman on a Cano ground ball. Jones singled him in one batter later to break a four-all tie and make it 5-4 Yankees. Again, not all that important given what happened later in the game, but it looked like a huge play at the time. Oh, and to just wrap up the offense, the Yankees also pulled off a double steal not once but twice. A-Rod and Cano did it in the first, Nunez and Cervelli in the seventh. Only one of those four runners came around the score though.

How about Cory Wade? Granted, it was a total garbage time appearance, but he went right through his three batters quickly and effectively in the eighth, showcasing his money making curveball to strike out Torrealba to end the inning. There’s a non-zero chance he works his way into some leveraged work, so it was nice to see his Yankees’ career get off to a good start.

And finally … Al Leiter’s real name is Alois? Huh, I always assumed it was just Albert. Well, you know what they say, when you assume you make an ass out of u and me.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stuff.

Up Next

The Yankees will go a for the sweep Thursday afternoon, a getaway day before the NL leg of interleague play begins in Chicago. Brian Gordon will make his Yankees’ debut against C.J. Wilson at 1pm ET.

Zoilo homers again in Tampa’s walk-off win

Dante Bichette Jr. is very close to becoming a Yankee, or at least that’s what his Twitter feed says. Meanwhile, Baseball America’s Draft Database (subs. req’d) says that 8th rounder Phil Wetherell ($112,5000) and 9th rounder Zach Arneson ($20,000) have both signed. Both have big arms (up to 95, 96) but work-in-progress secondary pitches. Arneson didn’t have much leverage as a college senior. Robert Pimpsner says the Yankees also signed Wes Wilson, and he’s referring to this guy as an undrafted free agent.

Austin Romine, by the way, has not yet resumed baseball activities following his concussion, so it’s safe to say he won’t be back anytime soon. That’s fine, you don’t want to rush anything with head injuries.

Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off  day.

Double-A Trenton (6-1 loss to Harrisburg)
Corban Joseph, 2B: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B – 12 for his last 38 (.316) with six doubles, a triple, and a homer
Jose Pirela, SS: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Everyone Else: combined 0 for 22, 2 BB, 7 K
Dellin Betances, RHP: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 1 HB, 6-1 GB/FB – 58 of 95 pitches were strikes (61.1%) … he was sitting right around 93 on the gun … 55-27 K/BB in his last 51.2 IP
Brad Halsey, LHP: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1-2 GB/FB
Fernando Hernandez, RHP: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 0-1 GB/FB
Grant Duff, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-1 GB/FB

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