Yanks lose Pettitte in win over Tampa

After the top of the first, the Yanks were on the wrong end of a 3-0 score against Tampa Bay, and two innings later with one out in the top of the third, they lost starter Andy Pettitte to a groin strain. Yet, even with David Price on the mound, this one was far from over. The bullpen held the Rays to just two runs over the final 6.2 innings, and the Yanks knocked around Price to emerge as 9-5 winners. With two wins over Tampa this weekend, the Yanks now have a three-game lead in the AL East.

Early struggles and an early exit

Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

For Pettitte and the Yanks, this one started out on an inauspicious note. BJ Upton started the game with a booming double over Curtis Granderson‘s head in center field, and although Pettitte retired Carl Crawford on a diving play off the mound, Evan Longoria got hit with a pitch. Carlos Peña then blasted yet another home run against the Yankees to make it 3-0. Peña has now hit five home runs against his former employers this season.

Even though Pettitte escaped trouble in the first, he had nothing. After two singles following the home run, A-Rod saved a pair of runs by making a diving play on a Gabe Kapler line drive. In the second, Andy walked two, and in the third, he gave up a pair of hits before leaving the game with a groin strain.

Not sharp, Petitte threw 64 pitches and gave up three earned runs on six hits and three walks. But the Yankees will obviously miss him. If he’s truly out for a month, the Yanks may look to acquire a starting pitcher for the right price. In the meantime, they’ll go with Sergio Mitre and hope for the best.

Coaxing 20 outs from the pen starts with the first one

With Pettitte out of the game, the Yankees had a problem. They had clawed to within one run of Tampa, but the Rays were on the verge of feasting on the pen. Two runners were on, and Kelly Shoppach stood at the plate with a three-ball count. With Chad Gaudin and Dustin Moseley, the two typical long men out of commission, Joe Girardi had to get 20 outs from the rest of the pen, but he knew that the first two could be huge. So instead of throwing in the towel and leading with a lesser reliever, Girardi went to one of his best.

David Robertson entered, and although he issued ball four to Shoppach — with the walk charged to Pettitte — the right-hander got out of it. Sean Rodriguez popped up to short, and Upton flew out to Nick Swisher. In the fourth, Robertson retired Evan Longoria, Carlos Peña and and Ben Zobrist to strand Carl Crawford at first, and the bullpen was off to the races.

The rest of the pen was spectacular. Chan Ho Park threw 1.1 hitless innings. He was followed by Boone Logan, whose only blemish was a Kapler home run. Joba struck out three but gave up a run in 1.2 innings of work, and Mariano Rivera got the final out on one pitch. Every button Girardi pressed worked, but his biggest move was the first. Robertson now has a 2.52 ERA over his last 25 innings, and he has racked up 26 strike outs over that span. Trusting him to work out of trouble gave the Yankees the spring board they needed to stage a comeback.

Knocking around Price for Girardi’s 250th win

Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Before the game started, I predicted a Pettitte-Price pitchers duel, and both southpaws failed to live up to their billing. The Yanks knocked around David Price for seven earned runs over five innings. He walked four and gave up seven hits while striking out just three en route to his fifth loss of the year. Just five days after drawing the All Star Game start, he looked anything but like an All Star.

The Yanks didn’t really have that one big hit today. Cano’s two-run triple got the Yanks off the mat in the bottom of the first. Posada’s booming two-run double helped put the game out of reach. Alex Rodriguez‘s 598th career home run served as icing on the cake. The biggest runs and hits though came from the Brett GardnerDerek Jeter duo. In the fifth, Brett Gardner walked and stole second before Jeter singled him in. Earlier in the game, Jeter scored the tying run after an 0-2 hit. This was Derek’s first multi-hit game in seven tries and just his second since June 27.

For Price, this was his worst start of the year, and for Joe Girardi, it was his 250th win as Yankee manager. For the Yankees, it was their league-leading 58th win, and the team sent a message to Tampa. The Yanks remain the team to beat in the American League.

WPA goes down, WPA goes up

The Fangraphs box score, and the ESPN box score.

Up Next

The Yankees have a day off on Monday before the Angels come to town on Tuesday for a quick two-game set.

Phelps strong as SWB gets 10th win in last 13

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Toledo)
Kevin Russo, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – that’s his first hit since June 16th
Reegie Corona, 2B: 1 for 4, 1 3B, 2 RBI
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 0 for 2, 2 BB – one of the walks was intentional
Chad Tracy, 3B: 1 for 4 – ten for 27 (.371) since signing
Jesus Montero, DH: 1 for 3
Jorge Vazquez, 3B & Eric Bruntlett, RF: both 0 for 3 – JoVa K’ed twice, Bruntlett once
Greg Golson, CF: 2 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI – second homer in as many days
Chad Moeller, C: 0 for 2, 1 K, 1 HBP – hasn’t thrown out a single runner this season, the opposition is 19-for-19 in stolen base attempts
David Phelps: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 Balk, 3-5 GB/FB – 64 of 99 pitches were strikes … 103-23 K/BB ratio in 106 IP
Romulo Sanchez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 20 of his 33 pitches were strikes (60.6%)
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-1 GB/FB – threw seven pitches, all strikes
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB – seven of his 12 pitches were strikes (58.3%) … hasn’t walked a batter since June 21st … one hit allowed in his last 7.2 IP, counting his Triple-A All Star Game appearance

[Read more…]

Pettitte could be out 4-5 weeks

Via Erik Boland, GM Brian Cashman says that he expects Andy Pettitte to be out four to five weeks with a left groin strain. Sergio Mitre will take his place in the rotation. Obviously, this is less than ideal news, and may impact how the Yankees approach next week’s trade deadline. With a rehab assignment and what not, it’s possible Andy might not be back until September. Yikes.

Sadly, this means the Chad Ho Moseley monster will stick around that much longer.

Open Thread: Two outta three ain’t bad

Kaploler (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It wasn’t exactly a textbook win today, but I’ll take it. Losing two starting pitchers to injury in the last two days is bad news, but it looks like A.J. Burnett will make his next start, and we’ll just have to hope for the best with Andy Pettitte. Maybe it’ll be a blessing in disguise, helping keep his 38-year-old body fresh for the stretch drive. Either way, the win today gives the Yankees a three game cushion in the AL East over Tampa, and a 6.5 game lead over Boston.

Now it’s time to sit back and relax with our open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night game features the Phillies and Cubs (Halladay vs. Gorzelanny), but talk about whatever you want. Enjoy the evening.

Yankees showing more interest in Luis Heredia

The international signing period has been pretty slow around all of baseball, not just with the Yankees, and a lot of that has to do with MLB’s identity investigations. The overall lack of talent this year is certainly a factor as well. The best pitcher on the market this year is 15-year-old Mexican righty Luis Heredia, and reportedly the Yankees are getting more serious about pursuing him. They have expressed interest in him in the past.

Baseball America ranked Heredia as the top pitching prospect and second best overall prospect on the international market this year (sub. req’d), saying the 6-foot-4, 180 pounder “has an excellent fastball that sits at 88-91 mph with good life and has touched 92.” Heredia is in a unique situation because he’s already signed on with a Mexican League club, so any team that wishes to sign him has to negotiate with the club for his rights. Under this scenario, the team will usually keep 75% of the bonus while the player receives just 25%. It could cost upwards of $3M to sign Heredia, a hefty price for someone so young and unrefined. The Yankees do have an exceptionally strong presence in Mexico, which should help.

Pettitte leaves game with left groin strain

Update (5:09pm): Joe Girardi indicated that Pettitte has a Grade I strain during his post-game press conference, the best possible case. He did, however, say they still have to see how he feels after to few days to figure out what’s next, and a DL stint is likely.

3:35pm: Jack Curry says Pettitte is at the hospital to get the injury checked out. Hopefully it’s just a Grade I strain, nothing too serious.

2:56pm: Pettitte left the game with a strained left groin, which is bad news. A DL trip might be required. Early money is on Sergio Mitre taking his place in the rotation, if it comes to that.

2:11pm: Andy Pettitte left today’s game in the middle of the third inning with an apparent injury to his left groin. He was grabbing at it and flexing his leg after delivering a pitch, and was then removed after a meeting at the mound. We’ll update this post with more info as we get it.

Game 91: A ‘perfect’ anniversary for a win

Baseball immortality. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky

Eleven years ago, David Cone took the mound in an Interleague match-up against the Montreal Expos. Like today, it was a stifling hot Sunday, and Cone twirled a gem of a game. Facing a lineup of young players who hadn’t seen him mix arm angles and pitch speeds before, the Yanks’ righty was perfect. He never once went to three balls on a single batter, and he struck out 10. When Orlando Cabrera popped out to Scott Brosius, the celebration began, and the losing pitcher that day was a kid named Javier Vazquez.

Today, Andy Pettitte won’t have to be perfect to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, but he doesn’t have much room for mistakes. The offense shouldn’t be a problem; after all, Tampa hits .244/.331/.390 against southpaws. Rather, it’s the opposing pitcher who will be tough to beat. David Price takes his heat to the stadium today in what could be a pitching duel for the ages.

Price is 12-4 this year with a 2.42 ERA, and he has truly come into his own as a starter this year. Opponents are hitting .223/.297/.343, and he allows fewer than a home run per nine innings. The Yanks have faced Price once this year and lost, despite scoring three runs off the lefty.

Pettitte, though, is no small beans himself. He’s 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA, and opponents are hitting .234/.295/.360 against him. Runs could be at a premium today. For Pettitte, today’s outing could be one of redemption. During his last time on the bump against Tampa, the Rays knocked him around for six runs in five innings, and he allowed a season-high three longballs in that May 20 start.

A win today ups the Yanks’ first place lead to three games; a loss brings Tampa to within a game. It’s as big a game in mid-July as one might find. It starts at 1:05 p.m. and will be on YES in the New York area and TBS nationwide. The lineups, please:

Derek Jeter SS – Hitting just .245/.322/.337 over his last 305 plate appearances
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Andy Pettitte P

Game Notes: Per Joe Girardi, the team has no long man today. Dustin Moseley threw 75 pitches, and Chad Gaudin tossed 52 in the Yanks’ loss last night. I’d prefer to see Moseley DFA’d with Ivan Nova or Romulo Sanchez recalled, but Girardi says Chan Ho Park or Boone Logan could go multiple innings today if need be…A.J. Burnett reportedly apologized to teammates behind closed doors for his outburst that led to hand lacerations. No word on if he also apologized for his 8.15 ERA over his last eight starts.