Yankee fans witnessed a rare occurrence yesterday afternoon when Number 47 ambled out of the bullpen to throw the last two innings of a seemingly lost cause. For Chris Britton, it was just his third (!) appearance of this season, and it became increasingly clear that, for whatever reason, Britton is the very last man out of the pen. He didn’t pitch in Saturday’s extra-inning affair, and Scott Patterson got to make his Major League debut in a three-run game before Britton was called upon to pitch. At the end of last week, we learned that Yanks GM Brian Cashman doesn’t understand the Yanks’ manager’s reluctance in using Britton (second item). One day, perhaps, we’ll understand the origins of Britton-gate. · (48) ·
En route to a 5-1 win on Sunday, the Twins managed to plate five of their 13 base runners. The Yankees managed to score just one run — on a Derek Jeter solo shot — while 10 other base runners were either erased via the double play or left stranded. And that, my friends, makes all the difference.
After a hot stretch of hitting well over .300 with runners in scoring position, the Yanks returned to their lethargic ways yesterday. Darrell Rasner did what a fifth starter does; he threw 5.1 innings and gave up four runs. He allowed far too many base runners — 10 for a WHIP of 1.88 — but struck out five as he fell to 3-2. The Yanks meanwhile couldn’t get much of anything going against Nick Blackburn, and when a Bobby Abreu line drive hit Blackburn, who is okay, the Bombers couldn’t muster much against the Twins bullpen.
In the end, it’s tough to look at this game and complain. Unlike their extra-innings loss to Baltimore last week, this wasn’t a game the Yanks let slip away, and the team is an impressive 7-3 over their last 10 games. If they play .700 ball the rest of the way, they’ll end the season with 102 wins. It’s an unlikely outcome, but the sky certainly isn’t falling.
The only problem, though, is that the Yanks have once again put themselves in a situation where they have to win. By starting off slowly for yet another season, the Yanks find themselves playing catch up, and unlike previous years where they were just trying to catch up to the Red Sox, they are chasing both the Red Sox and the up-start Tampa Bay Rays, the AL’s best team right now.
The Yanks have gained two games on Boston during their hot streak, but they’ve ceded a game to Tampa who is 8-2 with two walk-off wins over their last 10 contests. The Yanks clearly won’t win every day, but they’re in a position where they seemingly have to.
I’ll recap this afternoon’s snoozer later on. First, some rumors! Troy Renck in the Denver Post speculates that the Rockies, if the situation is right, could be interested in LaTroy Hawkins (Scroll to the Footnotes section). I say, “Sounds good to me.” Get Dan O’Dowd on the phone.
In C.C. Sabathia news, Ken Rosenthal speculated on TV (video link) that the Indians, if they slip out of contention, could look to deal Sabathia. They would expect a Dan Haren-type package, and the Yanks and Dodgers are expected to be interested. My problem with this is the same issue I had with the Santana deal: I don’t want to see the Yankees give up a bunch of young kids for what amounts to half a season of Sabathia and the exclusive rights to sign him to a long-term deal. The Yanks can land him in November if they want, and there’s no reason now to sell the farm for him. · (41) ·
Chad Jennings notes that Dan McCutchen has been suspended for three games and will miss his next start. Apparently he threw two pitches behind a batter against Pawtucket after SWB’s #3 & 4 hitters were each plunked twice in the series. Jennings also noted that Alan Horne will make what should be his final rehab start in Extended Spring Training tomorrow.
Triple-A Scranton (8-7 loss to Rochester)
Brett Gardner: 2 for 4, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 BB – threw a runner out at third from CF … 10 walks, 9 strikes out in his last 10 games
Bernie Castro: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 K, 1 CS
Jason Lane: 1 for 5, 1 R, 2 K
Ben Broussard: 3 for 5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) - 8 for 23 with 5 doubles since signing
Cody Ransom: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Eric Duncan: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI – 4 doubles, 3 homers & 12 RBI in his last 8 games
Greg Porter & JD Closser: both 0 for 3 – Porter K’ed … Closser scored a run & walked
Dan Giese: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 12 of 17 pitches were strikes … he’s on his way up to serve as a long-man
Steven White: 3 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 HB – 45 of 70 pitches were strikes (64.3%)
Billy Traber: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-3 GB/FB – 27 of 42 pitches were strikes (also 64.3%)
JB Cox: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
So the Yanks ended May on a strong note and begin June with a slew of roster moves, both rumored and confirmed. We’ll start with the confirmed.
Morgan Ensberg has been DFA’d to make way for none other than Scott Patterson. After the Yanks’ last few games, the team decided they’d had enough of the ineffective Ensberg and needed some bullpen relief. In 80 plate appearances, Ensberg hit .203/.263/.243, and his term on the Yanks is over.
Meanwhile, as Mark Feinsand notes, Patterson may be up for only a few days. The plan seems to be to move Dan Giese into the long relief role to shadow Joba Chamberlain‘s first few starts. The Yanks were going to opt for Jeff Karstens, but the oft-injured pitcher hurt his groin last night.
Finally, Jorge Posada will be back on the active roster on Wednesday it seems, and the Yanks plan to keep both Jose Molina and Chad Moeller around for a little while. The bench therefore is going to look a little weak for a few days with Molina, Moeller, Wilson Betemit and Shelley Duncan, increasingly looking overmatched in the Majors, filling out the final sports. The Yanks will have to do something soon to beef up that bench, and I don’t think replacing anyone with Alberto Gonzalez is the answer.
Darrell Rasner faces Nick Blackburn this afternoon in a 2 p.m. game. Let’s start June on a winning note.
Last year I represented the Yankees in John Sickel’s mock draft over at Minor League Ball, but this year I decided against it because it was just way too time consuming. Mock drafts are still fun however, so I kept track of who I would have taken in each of the Yanks’ spots. Here’s a little breakdown of my mock mock draft, as well as the picks that were actually made.
Round 1, Pick 28
Mike’s Pick: Robbie Ross, LHP, Lexington Christian Academy (Ky.)
Actual Pick: Zach Collier, OF, Chino Hills HS (Ca.)
Gerrit Cole was off the board, having gone to the Cubbies with the 19th pick. Collier has a ton of helium right now as a toolsy, Austin Jackson type player, and is a very good pick at 28. I went with Ross because, well, I felt he was the best player left on the board. He’s a power lefty with a very good slider and lots of polish. I was really hoping for Illinois prep RHP Jake Ordorizzi, but he went to the Padres at 23. (Ross eventually went to the Royals at #36, and I took him in the sandwich round of the UBBMD)
…and Derek’s too. After another bad start by Chien-Ming Wang — are we allowed to be officially worried after a month of subpar pitching? — the Yanks had to lean heavily on the bullpen, and the arms delivered. Meanwhile, shortly before midnight in New York, with Ross Ohlendorf pitching two good innings, Derek Jeter delivered a huge base hit in his sixth at bat, and Bobby Abreu delivered the go-ahead run. Mr. Automatic needed a whopping 10 pitches to seal the deal, and the Yanks end May on that good note, one huge game above .500. · (66) ·
Mike Ashmore sat down for an interview with Mark Melancon. Don’t miss it.
Triple-A Scranton (5-2 win over Rochester in 10 innings) you may have heard of the opposing pitcher
Brett Gardner & Ben Broussard: both 0 for 4 – Gardner K’ed … Broussard was hit by a pitch
Alberto Gonzalez, Jason LAne & Justin Christian: all 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 K – Gonzalez drew walk & was caught stealing … Lane hit a 2-run, go ahead homer in the 10th & walked
Nick Green, Eric Duncan & Chris Stewart: all 2 for 4 – Green doubled, scored a run & K’ed … Duncan drove in a run … Stewart doubled
Jeff Karstens: 4 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 3-6 GB/FB – pulled after 4 IP and only 66 pitches … the thought was that he was coming up for long relief duty, but nope, Chad Jennings says he hurt his groin
Heath Phillips: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 6-4 GB/FB
David Robertson: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 2-0 GB/FB – 47 K in 34.2 IP
The Yanks came into May after a sub-par April. They were 14-15 to start the month and were facing questions about the team. Phil Hughes had gone down; A-Rod had gone down; Jorge Posada had gone down. Things were not looking good.
With all of that baggage, May was a bit of a rocky month for the Yankees, and as recently as nine days ago, the Yanks were facing a very bad month. They were 20-25, and the season was on the precipice of slipping away. But the tide has seemingly turned, and the Yanks find themselves 7-2 over their last nine games.
So here we are on the last day of May, and the Yanks are looking to improve on their April record. They sit at 27-27 and, obviously, need a win tonight to move over .500 for the first time since the end of play on May 5.
The man on the mound is the one you want pitching in search of that win. Chien-Ming Wang, 6-2 with a 3.82 ERA, gets the ball today. He is winless since May 2 and could really use a solid start today. In his career on artificial turf, Wang is 7-3 with a 4.52 ERA. He’s allowed 90 hits in 75.2 innings, a product of his extreme ground ball tendencies. Opponents slug .059 higher off Wang on turf than on grass.
Game Notes: I hate Saturday evening games. They should be outlawed. What’s wrong with playing a regular afternoon game?…The Yanks will call up a long reliever on Tuesday to shadow Joba’s first few starts. As PeteAbe speculates, Jeff Karstens will probably get the call because he’s on the 40-man roster and is a better option than Kei Igawa.