Via George King, Phil Hughes has been cleared by the Yankees’ team doctor to pick up the intensity of his throwing program. “They have a program outlined, and there is a day I will get on the mound,” said Hughes, who admitted that he doesn’t know exactly when he’ll get back on a mound. He’s been playing catch from about 100 feet over the last two weeks or so and everything feels fine, but we won’t know if the missing velocity is back “until I get into a competitive atmosphere,” as Phil said.
The Yankees have won just one of their last four series, and that was the two-game sweep of the Orioles a few days ago. They haven’t really been sticking to the “just win series” mantra of late, but they could make it two series wins in a row today against the Mets. David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain could probably use the day off, so lots of runs and/or a dominant performance out of Ivan Nova would be pretty awesome. Here’s the lineup…
Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
Chris Dickerson, RF – obviously, he’s been cleared to play
Frankie Cervelli, C
Ivan Nova, SP
The final game of the series can be seen on both YES and SNY locally plus TBS nationally. Enjoy the game.
Rafael Soriano Update: The Eighth Inning Guy™ played catch today and seems to be recovering well from his inflamed elbow. Yay.
Alex Rodriguez got off to a gloriously hot start to the season. In the first eleven games he hit .405/.511/.865 with 4 home runs, sporting an OPS of 1.376. Unfortunately, this hot start came to a screeching halt in Texas. On April 16th in Texas the Yankees removed Rodriguez from the game with a mild oblique strain. He avoided the disabled list, but he didn’t return to the lineup until April 20th. Whether the oblique strain was still bothering him or simply disrupted his timing is hard to say. What is clear is that Rodriguez went through a massive slump when he returned, hitting .188/.263/.294 with 2 home runs and 22 strikeouts in 22 games.
When the Yankees finished getting swept by Boston at home, they headed to Tampa. At the time talk surfaced of hitting coach Kevin Long working hard with Rodriguez to fix a mechanical flaw in his swing. They weren’t able to rectify it immediately, and in fact it seems that Rodriguez had difficulty implementing the change. In his first game in Tampa Alex went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts against Price. But they may have gotten a handle on it shortly thereafter. YES scribe and fan favorite Jack Curry had the details on this fix in a piece published May 18th, a day after Rodriguez clubbed two homers off Big Game James.
Long determined the cause of Rodriguez’s struggles, detecting that the third baseman hadn’t been using the lower half of his body to ignite his swing. Rodriguez called it a “disconnect” between his lower and upper body…
“We’ve diagnosed the problem,” Long said. “It’s vivid. We know what it is. But Alex said there’s been some hesitation. He knows he has to use his legs and he’s telling himself to use his legs. But when it comes time to do it, he hesitates. It’s all about fixing mechanics.”
Several hours after Long spoke to me about Rodriguez’s missing swing on Tuesday, Rodriguez corrected his mechanics and found that smooth swing again. Rodriguez blasted two homers off James Shields to help guide the Yankees to a much-needed 6-2 win over the Rays.
By taking a look at Rodriguez’s swing against the Red Sox Sunday night against Beckett and comparing it to his swing against Shields in Tampa, one thing stands out quite clearly: Alex almost completely eliminated his leg kick. Courtesy of friend of RAB Richard Iurilli, we can use .gif images to get a good slow-motion look at the difference. The first .gif is Alex striking out against Josh Beckett. (Update: Added the jump for site loading reasons)
Hooray for solid, relatively stress-free wins. Got a little testy early on, but otherwise the Yankees did a fine job of putting this one … on the left side!
- Wanna know how to avoid RISPFAIL? Don’t put any runners in scoring position. The Yankees did not pick up a hit with their lone at-bat with a man in scoring position, and that was Curtis Granderson moving Derek Jeter from second to third on a sacrifice fly in the eighth. Mark Teixeira drove him in with a sac fly one batter later, but why Grandy’s counts as an at-bat while Tex’s doesn’t is beyond me. Weird baseball rules. Anyway, this was the first time the Yankees left zero men on base in a game since June of 2001.
- Four homeruns did the trick before that lame-o manufactured tack-on run in the eighth. Russell Martin took Chris Capuano deep for two runs in the second, Tex homered in two more the next inning, then Grandy and Alex Rodriguez hit solo shots two batters apart in the sixth. The first three came off Chris Capuano, who’s been getting his ass handed to him by righties all year. Tex’s homer was his second to right field as the right-handed batter this year, something he didn’t do at all in 2009 or 2010. Since 2006, he has just five opposite field homers as a righty, and two came this season.
- Granderson’s long ball was his eighth off a lefty this season, which is notable for many reasons. He leads all left-handed batters with eight homers off lefties this year, and no other player has more than three. It also doubled last year’s output against lefties (just four homers), and was his 15th of the year, a total he didn’t reach until late-August last season. Jose Bautista (18 dingers) is the only other player in baseball with more than a dozen big flies. Good lookin’ out, Curtis.
- Things looked a little sketchy early on, when the Mets loaded the bases with no outs in the first. A.J. Burnett got out of the inning allowing “just” two runs, then he gave up just three hits and two walks (one run) over his final 5.1 IP. Last season, that’s like a five run inning. This year A.J. has done a good job of limiting the damage in spots like that. Getting out of that first inning and settling down was a rather huge turning point in this game, even if came so early.
- First and third, one out, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay due up … and David Robertson cruises right along to escape the jam. Beltran struck out and Bay popped out harmlessly on the infield. It was a big part of the game, for sure, but Robertson made it look easy. Joba Chamberlain retired his three men in the eighth, then Luis Ayala did the same an inning later. I have to say, I wrote the Ayala signing off way too soon. He’s been rock solid so far (in admittedly limited action). The trio of relievers recorded eight outs on 30 pitches.
- Jeter stole second in the eighth inning, tying him with Rickey Henderson for the franchise record (326 SB). Of course Rickey did it in 596 games while Jeter needed 2,337, but who’s counting?
- After all the bitching and moaning following Friday’s game, the Yankees are now back in first place (thanks to Red Sox and Rays losses). How about that? Here’s the box score and here’s the WPA Graph.
Update: Both the Double-A Trenton and Low-A Charleston games are over and have been added to the post.
Austin Krum was promoted to Triple-A Scranton, who is without outfielders Chris Dickerson (bigs), Greg Golson (hamstring), and Jordan Parraz (hamstring). Although he only has a .052 ISO in Double-A this year (.332 wOBA), he’s walked nearly as many times as he struck out (26 K, 25 BB in 181 PA) and is a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base chances. Krum also led the system in walks last year (68), also spent with Trenton.
Triple-A Scranton (5-3 loss to Indianapolis)
Austin Krum, CF: 1 for 5, 1 R – threw a runner out at second
Ramiro Pena, SS & Dan Brewer, RF: both 1 for 4 – Ramiro scored a run and struck out
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K – second homer in eight games … five of his last eight hits have gone for extra bases
Justin Maxwell, LF & P.J. Pilittere, DH: both 0 for 3, 1 BB – Maxwell whiffed twice, P.J. once
Brandon Laird, 1B: 2 for 4, 1 RBI – OPS approaching .800 this month
Kevin Russo, 2B: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 HBP
Doug Bernier, 3B: 0 for 4, 1 K
D.J. Mitchell, RHP: 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 10-7 GB/FB – 56 of 96 pitches were strikes (58.3%) … only the second time all year he’s allowed more than two runs in a start
Buddy Carlyle, RHP: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 5-1 GB/FB – 29 of 43 pitches were strikes (57.4%)