Adams hurt as Granderson begins rehab stint

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 loss to Louisville)
Greg Golson, CF: 0 for 4, 1 K
Curtis Granderson, DH: 0 for 4 – three grounders & a pop up (source: the internet)
Eduardo Nunez, SS, Jesus Montero, C, Reid Gorecki, LF, Reegie Corona, 2B & Matt Cusick, 3B: all 0 for 3 – Nunez committed a fielding error … Montero K’ed once, Gorecki twice
Jon Weber, RF: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 E (fielding)
Chad Huffman, 1B: 1 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K
Dustin Moseley: 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 11-4 GB/FB – 59 of 90 pitches were strikes (65.6%)
Kevin Whelan: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – just six of his 14 pitches were strikes (42.9%)
Zack Segovia: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 12 of his 19 pitches were strikes (63.2%)

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Game 43: Top pitching prospects, matured

In 2007, Baseball America ranked Phil Hughes the No. 4 prospect in baseball. He wasn’t the only New York prospect to make the list. Mike Pelfrey, his opponent tonight, was ranked No. 20. Both had ups and downs during the early years of their careers, but they have both become important parts of their teams’ pitching staffs. Tonight does not necessarily represent a test of any sort for either pitcher, but it’s certainly event when two touted young pitchers face each other.

Pelfrey broke out two years ago, when he threw 200.2 innings for the 2008 Mets. After a bit of a setback in 2009, including an increase in his home run and walk rates, Pelfrey has come on strong this year. He currently has a 3.02 ERA, and has thrown only one poor start, a six-run affair against Philly that came after he had allowed two earned runs in all of April. He’s struck out a few more batters than he has in the past, which likely has something to do with his splitter. He’s also a ground ball guy.

Phil Hughes is coming off his worst start of the season. He lasted only five innings against the Red Sox and allowed five runs, though, as I noted after the game, he seemed just a little off. Mike also followed up with a look at how Hughes attacked the Red Sox hitters. Even with the poor performance his ERA still sits at just 2.25. This is his first start on the road during interleague play.

During his pregame media session Joe Girardi mostly answered questions about Mariano Rivera. He said what he’s been saying for the past few days, the it’s about location for Mo, and he’s been catching a bit too much of the plate. “He gets into long counts at times,” Girardi added. He said that if the velocity were down that it would be a concern, but it is not. In fact, he added, Mo hit 94 on the gun at points this year. Baseball Info Solutions has him at right around the level he was last year, as does PitchFX. Girardi added that the flank issue that caused Mo to miss a few games earlier is completely gone.

The only other concern, he said, is if Mo can’t go back to back days. That might get tested tonight if the Yanks take a slim lead into the bottom of the ninth.

The other main topic was interleague play. He talked about the injury potential for pitchers, noting Brad Penny’s trip to the DL following his grand slam last night. That comes for an NL pitcher. It’s even tougher for AL pitchers, obviously, because they don’t regularly take BP. “We’re not going to do a simulated game,” Girardi said, “because you’re afraid that they’re going to get hurt.” It really is a tough situation for AL pitchers, and the Yanks know that first hand.

Finally, an update on Javy Vazquez. His index finger is still swollen, but better than yesterday. They won’t know anything until he throws his bullpen session, which should come on Monday. The main thing, Girardi said, is that he can grip the ball. From there everything should be fine.

Lineup:

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Brett Gardner, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Francisco Cervelli, C
8. Randy Winn, LF
9. Phil Hughes, P

Subway Series to decide the fate of the Empire State Building

Via LoHud, the winner of this weekend’s series between the Yankees and Mets will have the Empire State Building lit up in their team colors in what has to be the biggest set of bragging rights ever (both literally and figuratively). For the time being, the city’s largest building will sport blue and white lights on the north and south sides, and blue and orange on the east and west sides. Get a good look Mets’ fans, that’ll be gone in two days.

A belated DotF

Apologies for the tardiness, but loyal reader Andrew Brotherton put together a makeshift DotF of last night’s game for us…

Scranton beats Indy 10-7
Golson 2-3 with a 3 runs, a double and 2 walks with 1 rbi
Nunez 1-6 with 1 rbi
Weber 1-4 with a double and 2 walks with 1 rbi
Montero 3-5 with 2 runs and 1 walk
Gorecki 1-3 with 2 runs, a double, and 2 walks with 2 ks
Cusick 2-4 with 1 run, 1 double, 3 rbis, and 1 walk
Nova got hit around lasting only 2 innings and allowing 5 runs on 5 hits all earned with 2 walks.
Igawa got the win but still allowed 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, but 4 strikeouts
Albaladejo got the save with 2 innings allowing 1 hit and striking out 2.
Former Yankees: Anthony Claggett walked 6 in 1 inning, Steven Jackson with 1 k, and Jose Tabata 0-2 with 2 runs, 1 rbi, and 2 walks.

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Late and close, some haven’t delivered

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens (AP)

It’s difficult to come up with too many criticisms of an offense that’s put up a .363 wOBA – best in all of baseball – which is all the more amazing considering the team has seen a number of starters miss significant time due to injury. Unfortunately, as we saw in last night’s game and in Tampa, the team, even with a high-scoring offense, seems to strand runners in critical situations. A team with great on-base skills and featuring some of the top hitters in baseball will see a lot of situations with men in scoring position. Of course, the more opportunities the team has with runners in scoring position, the more often we’ll see them fail. It’s just a numbers game. But considering the talk of how last year’s team “was so clutch”, it might be interesting to see how the players on this year’s roster are doing.

In 2009, the team hit .272/.370/.433 with RISP. They overall hit well with bases occupied, almost regardless of how many outs there were, and .316/.403/.542 in late and close situations also looks great.

In 2010, with runners in scoring position, the team is hitting .279/.380/.458. Hmm…well that overall doesn’t seem to be a problem. Ok, what about 2 outs and RiSP? .286/.381/.418. Again, it’s not that. Well gee whiz, that’s pretty good. What about high-leverage situations? .283/.370/.473. The numbers say the 2010 Yankees are a fairly balanced offensive team. They hit well in tie games, ahead and behind. They hit with bases loaded, they hit well with no outs, kill teams the second and third time through the lineup, hit with RiSP and actually do well in what are considered “high leverage” situations. So maybe this whole notion that the team just isn’t “clutch” without Matsui and Smooth Johnny is frankly, bull crap.

But wait.

Look again and you’ll find the team seems to have issues with runners on second and third and in late and close situations. The team, with men on second and third, are hitting only .184/.353/.237 this year, with Posada, Jeter, A-Rod having hit one run in (via sac fly) combined over 17 plate appearances. And although the team is bashing pitchers in innings 4-6, too many players are dropping like flies in innings 7-9. Derek Jeter, Winn, Swisher and Teixiera have all had varying struggles in those innings. Add the Bullpen Adventures and you see a nasty witches brew in the cauldron.

The second issue is in “late and close” situations, where the team is hitting .223/.315/.392. When we’re in the 7th-9th and it’s close, Swisher, Winn and Teixiera have just killed their team’s chances of coming out ahead. Teix is hitting a paltry .056/.150/.056, Winn checks in at .125/.125/.125 and Swisher is staring at .143/.143/.143. In fact, if not for Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada and Marcus “The river giveth, the river taketh” Thames, the team would be entirely dreadful across the board in such situations.

As we can see, Randy Winn – possibly the most hated Yankee on the roster (high five, Boone!) – has struggled enormously. It seems that every time a key situation is brewing late in the game, he’s up. And the rally is over after he’s late on an average fastball. Well, the numbers seem to bear it out. On the year, Winn is striking out 25% of his at bats but over 30% of his PA’s late in the game.

Nick Swisher is hitting very well in high-leverage situations at .450/.500/.900(!), but isn’t doing so when it’s late and the game is on the line. He’s hitting .238/.304/.310 in innings 7-9 and has struck out in 5 of his 14 late and close PA’s. Jeter, whom I’m sure we’re all hoping is just greatly slumping and not declining as a player, is hitting .180/.212/.300 in innings 7-9 and .222/.263/.444 late and clutch.Teixiera might be the most interesting player to study. His slow starts have been well documented. But this start in particular is fairly awful and he just hasn’t been there when called upon. Your #4 hitter can only be so futile for so long in those spots before it costs the team ball games.

Luckily, possibly other than Winn, the talent level suggests these players will certainly be hitting well in no time. There’s no magic “clutch” concoction we can give these players. As they compile more plate appearances in such situations, they’ll start to produce. The 2009 team wasn’t some amazing mix of heart, guts and clutch-itity that separated them from all teams before and after them. They hit well enough to be called “the comeback kids” and had some good fortune (which some might call an anomaly). That’s it. Less than 20 plate appearances (in some cases) is by no means a good number by which we should judge a player’s aptitude in any given situation. All this says is that thus far, the team has had some players slumping at the most inopportune of times. It happens to every team. As we move closer to the dog days of summer, we should expect some of those numbers to improve. And for a team currently featuring a number of AAA players and bench players in their starting lineup due to injury, that’s a scary spot for the rest of the league.

Bleich likely headed for shoulder surgery

Via Tim Bontemps, Double-A lefthander Jeremy Bleich is likely headed for shoulder surgery after being placed on the disabled list a few days ago. “I don’t know,” said farm director Mark Newman, who was downcast when delivering the news. “We’re getting some information back from the doctors … he had more tests (yesterday).” Bleich, the team’s 7th best prospect coming into the season, has dealt with elbow injuries in the past, but this is his first shoulder issue.

The Stanford alum was the team’s highest signed draft pick in 2008, but he’s struggled mightily since being promoted to Double-A Trenton last season. He had a 26-28 K/BB ratio in 41.1 IP this season, though he did allow fewer than a hit per inning.

Vazquez strong again as Yanks take game one of 2010 Subway Series 2-1

Coming off three straight losses to division rivals, the Yankees needed to get out of the Bronx just to get the awful taste out of their mouths and get a fresh start. Luckily they didn’t have to go that far, just a few extra miles to play their little brother in Queens. Javy Vazquez was making his first start in nine days, but if anything, it looks like the extra rest agrees with the guy who, oddly, has been the team’s best pitcher the last two times through the rotation.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

The Rookie Gets It Done

With players dropping left and right due to a variety of sometimes comical injuries, the Yankees have had to use their bench a little more this month than they would have liked. Today’s hero was making his first big league start, at a position he’s played a grand total of seven times before, no less. Such is life when dealing with the wrath of the injury gods.

"Ruuuuuuuusso." Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Kevin Russo, a 20th round pick in 2006, picked up his first big league hit in his first plate appearance of the night, a legit single to center. With that milestone out of the way, Russo went ahead and got his first career ten pitch at-bat out of the way his next time up, and moved on to the runs batted in his third at-bat. With the game still scoreless in the 7th inning, the Yanks had a rally brewing after a leadoff walk and a classic Mets’ self-destruct error. Men were on second and third with no outs, so all the rookie had to do was slap a ball to the right side to get the job done. Even if he made an out, it was all good. The Yanks would take the lead.

An out wasn’t acceptable to Russo, who jumped all over an 83 mph slider from hey-look-he’s-still-in-the-league Elmer Dessens and sent the ball deep into the rightfield corner. Both runs scored with ease, and Russo trotted into second with his first career double, first career RBIs, and first career game-winning hit. Not a bad day, not a bad day at all.

You Jav To Be Kidding Me

Some things in life just aren’t fair. Given how poorly the season started for Javy Vazquez, you couldn’t help but feel good for the guy after his strong start in Detroit and big time relief appearance on Monday. He was returning to his National League roots tonight, so things were in his favor right from the get go, and he took advantage.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

Even though his velocity sat in the high-80’s for most of the night, Vazquez cruised into the 4th inning having allowed just one baserunner, a 6 pitch walk to Alex Cora. Walking the worst non-pitcher hitter in the other team’s lineup is pretty inexcusable, so of course Javy walked him again (on four pitches!) to lead off the 4th. However, he managed to escape the inning on a pair of fly outs and a caught stealing, which was a common theme on the night. Javy was getting easy outs, nothing too difficult for the fielders, nothing that hard hit, it was all going according to plan.

The Mets didn’t pick up their first hit until there was one out in the 5th, and Vazquez pitched right around that baserunner and cruised through six innings of work on 70 stress-free pitches. It was a complete game pace, which was something the Yankees would have welcomed with open arms. Unfortunately Vazquez never got a chance to complete the game, or even start the 7th inning because he suffered a bruised right index finger laying down a sacrifice bunt in top of the frame. Thankfully, x-rays were negative, though his next start is in question until further notice.

It’s just par for the course these days.

Squandered Opportunities

The Yanks have developed a bad habit of not capitalizing on scoring opportunities, and that trend continued tonight. Frankie Cervelli led off the 3rd with a hard fought walk after falling behind 0-2, and Russo followed with a single. Vazquez bunted Russo over (Cervelli went first to third on the single), giving Derek Jeter a chance to drive in a run even by making an out. Instead, the Cap’n took three strikes (out of five total pitches) to gift Mets’ starter Hisanori Takahashi the second out of the inning, and Brett Gardner wrapped up the frame with a relatively weak ground out to third. Leaving men in scoring position would soon become the theme of the night.

With runners on first and third with one out in the very next inning, Nick Swisher swung and missed at three junk balls in a five pitch at-bat when a moderately deep fly ball would have given the Yanks a lead. The speed on those three pitches he swung through: 80, 70, and 79. Just brutal, he was out in front of everything. The inning ended one batter later when Cervelli flied out harmlessly to center.

Fast forward to the 6th, when Alex Rodriguez started a late rally by doubling to right with two outs. It was a pure hustle double given Jeff Francoeur’s strong arm. I guess you could say he needed all four legs to beat it out. Robbie Cano fought valiantly to work the count full, but he swung through an 80 mph somethingball (Gameday says it was a sinker, but whatevs) to end the frame.

The Yankees lineup is far too good to keep squandering these opportunities, but it’s definitely cost them over the last week, and it wasn’t far from costing them again tonight.

Things That Were Good

How about that Joba Chamberlain character? After a pair of dreadful outings, he came out and grunted and farted his way to a pair of huge strikeouts to end a 7th inning threat, then he came out to work a completely uneventful 8th inning. Five batters faced, three strikeouts, one ground out, and one lazy fly. Just like Joe Girardi drew it up.

Russo and Vazquez saw 18 pitches combined in the 5th inning. Even though they both made outs, what more could you ask for from your 8-9 hitters? All told, Vazquez had three productive at-bats (for a pitcher) when you add in the two sacrifice bunts.

Just because it needs to be mentioned: Russo is the sixth player from the Yanks’ 2006 draft class to make it to the big leagues. That’s an unreal number just four years out. Zach McAllister and Colin Curtis are right on the doorstep as well.

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

How about Cervelli throwing Cora out at second from his knees to end the 4th? From his knees!

Things That Were Bad

Gardner squaring around to bunt with Jeter on first base in the 1st (!!!) inning. That’s just terrible. Just because you’re in an NL park doesn’t mean you have to play an NL style.

Two walks to Cora? Two?! C’mon Javy, you’re better than that.

This was my first time at CitiField ever, and it seems like balls hit to the outfield just die here. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to play 81 games in this place.

WPA Graph & Box Score

MLB.com has the old school box score, FanGraphs the new school funny acronyms.

Up Next

Same two teams tomorrow night in a rare Saturday night game. FOX will have the prime time broadcast, and Joe will be in the press box to bring you everything your heart desires. Phil Hughes vs. Mike Pelfrey in a battle of former first round picks.