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 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.

Postgame Notes: “Really not that bad.”

Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP

When Javy Vazquez left tonight’s start after taking a pitch to his right index finger, the first thing everyone thought was “here we go again.” It seems like every time the Yankeess play a game these days, someone goes down with injury. X-rays were negative on Javy’s bruised digit, and the good news is that the ball missed his nail. Just got the meat.

“Really not that bad,” said tonight’s winning pitcher when asked about the pain, in fact he joked that he didn’t even realize he had been hit until after running down to first. Vazquez didn’t know he was bleeding until he got back to the dugout and took his batting gloves off, at which point he basically said to himself “oh man, this is bad.” Joe Girardi couldn’t offer any more info beyond what we already know, but he did say they’ll know more by Sunday. Javy did some tests gripping a baseball, and said everything went fine. He still has to see how he feels in a few days, and how it feels actually throwing a baseball in his upcoming side work.

Vazquez will have an extra day of rest before his next start because of Monday’s off day, so it’s entirely possible he’ll make his next scheduled start against the Twins next Thursday. That would be pretty awesome.

  • Javy said his command is getting better, especially with his fastball. He seems like a very cool guy, he joked about being embarrassed by the injury because he’s been bunting in the NL so long. Said that’s never happened to him before.
  • The Yankees left eight men on base, but Girardi isn’t concerned that players are pressing. He praised Mets’ starter Hisanori Takahashi for getting strikeouts when he needed them, particularly Derek Jeter in the 3rd and Nick Swisher in the 4th.
  • Girardi also isn’t concerned about Mariano Rivera, who’s been hit unusually hard in his last three outings. “He usually has pinpoint control,” he said, “but it hasn’t been pinpoint the last few times. ” I don’t know if the fans are panicking, but no one in the clubhouse is.
  • “Big night.” That’s pretty much all Girardi – or anyone – had to say about Kevin Russo. Making his first big league start, Russo went 2-for-3 and saw 14 total pitches, driving in the team’s only two runs. I’d bet on him playing again tomorrow.

And finally, for any Mets’ fans out there, Jerry Manuel said Ike Davis didn’t hurt himself rounding second on his 9th inning double. He just missed the bag and had to go back to touch up. Mets baseball, ladies and gentlemen.

Update: Forgot to mention this above, but the pitch Javy suffered the injury on was not the deciding pitch of his at-bat. It was the foul immediately before that.

Vazquez leaves with bruised finger, x-rays negative

Update (10:14pm): X-rays negative. And exhale.

9:52pmIt’s a bruised right index finger for Vazquez, and he’s being taken for x-rays.

9:31pm: After six innings of one hit, no run ball, Javy Vazquez left tonight’s game with an apparent finger injury. Looks like he might have gotten clipped with the ball while laying down a sac bunt in the bottom of the 6th. He had only thrown 70 pitches up to that point. I’ll update this post with more info once it’s available.

Game 42: On the road, but not really

"And that's when I was like 'easy lady, 40 is too young for me." (Photo Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP)

History is being made tonight, folks. For the first time in the history of the universe, River Ave. Blues is covering a game as a credentialed member of the media. We had to travel to lovely Flushing, NY to make it happen, but that’s a small price to pay. In case you missed it, here’s my pregame notes with a big Curtis Granderson update.

As for tonight’s game, well the Yankees can really use a win, regardless of who it comes against. This weekend will get an undue amount of hype as a big series, but the Mets are in last place in their division and have lost nine of their last 12 games. At least someone’s been worst than the Yankees recently. Javy Vazquez is making his first start since shutting down Detroit more than a week ago, but Mets’ starter Hisanori Takahashi is making his first start in the United States. It seems like no matter how bad things go for the Yanks, it’s just a little worse for the Mets.

Here’s tonight’s lineup…

Jeter, SS
Gardner, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Cervelli, C
Russo, LF

And on the mound, Javy Vazquez.

First pitch of the 2010 edition of The Subway Series is scheduled to be thrown at 7:05pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on either YES or SNY. I totally cut in front of Gary Cohen on the line to get a drink in the media lounge earlier. Anyway, enjoy the game.

Pregame Notes: Granderson, Thames, Cervelli

Pregame stretching. Exciting stuff.

Curtis Granderson is leaving tonight to join Triple-A Scranton for a rehab assignment, according to Joe Girardi. He’s expected to play five out of six days while DH’ing some, and could be back in the Yankees’ lineup by the end of next week. Best news of the day.

Granderson was out on the field earlier running the bases, and he also fielded a variety of batted balls in the outfield – grounders, fly balls, liners off the wall, you name it. Girardi indicated that because he was moving around so well, it was time to get him in rehab games.

Here’s some other tidbits from the pregame press conference…

  • Marcus Thames‘ ankle is still bothering him, but he’s going to take batting practice and see how it goes. At best, he’ll be available to pinch hit.
  • Girardi didn’t seem concerned about Frankie Cervelli‘s heavy workload of late, and said there’s “no thought” about sitting him. He did say he’s going to watch him physically every day to see how he holds up. Tonight will be Cervelli’s fifth start in the last five days and seventh in the last eight, but he’s 24-years-old, lots of life in those legs.
  • “You start to feel it at game time,” said the Yanks’ manager when asked about the excitement of the Subway Series. “It’s the energy involved … players aren’t going to walk around and brag, but the fans might.”
  • As far as seeing Mets’ starter Hisanori Takahashi for the first time, Girardi basically said the only thing you can do is watch video. “It’s obviously more difficult. If you’re righthanded, you have to know you’re getting fastball-changeup.” The 35-year-old lefty has a 3.51 xFIP this season, though tonight will be his first start.
  • Girardi’s not concerned about Javy Vazquez‘s layoff at all. He basically had the “he’s been around a while, he knows what to do” attitude. Javy’s last start was nine days ago, but he did come out of the bullpen to strikeout Kevin Youkilis on four pitches Monday night.

Back with the game thread a little later on.

Yanks look to recover against crosstown foes

With the loss to Tampa Bay last night, the Yankees fell below .500 on their latest home stand, to 3-4. Thankfully, they still have three more pseudo home games to go. While they won’t be playing in the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, they’ll still have a hometown crowd behind them this weekend as they face off with the Mets at Citi Field. A bout with the National League might be just what the Yanks need to rebound from a tough week at the Stadium.

The Teams

The New York Mets

At 20-22, the Mets currently reside in the NL East’s basement. That’s not as bad as it sounds, of course, since there are more than a few terrible NL teams. Five teams have fewer wins than them, one has the same number, and two have just one more, so the season is far from lost for the Flushing faithful. They need a strong series just as much as the Yanks.

Batting stats (NL rank)

BA: .246 (13th)
OBP: .320 (14th)
SLG: .385 (12th)
wOBA: .315 (13th)

The Mets lineup features a number of poor bats, including right fielder Jeff Francoeur, who has cooled off considerably after a torrid start. Management finally wised up and jettisoned Mike Jacobs and replaced him with Ike Davis, and the difference has been tremendous. Jose Reyes has also turned in an underwhelming season so far.

Pitching stats (NL rank)

ERA: 3.97 (7th)
FIP: 4.37 (12th)
K/9: 7.70 (5th)
BB/9: 4.54 (16th)
WHIP: 1.49 (13th)
LOB%: 76.5 (4th)

That last number pretty much explains the rest of them. The Mets have a good team ERA, but that’s because they’ve been able to strand the inordinate number of batters they’ve walked. This appears a bit odd, considering the Mets have the third lowest ground ball percentage in the league. Keeping the ball on the ground can help prevent base runners from advancing more than one station. Still, the Mets have fared well with men on base, and it has helped their run prevention unit considerably.

New York Yankees

Even after the rough homestand the Yankees still own the second best record in the AL at 25-16. A few teams are close — Toronto has as many wins but two more losses — so the Yankees have to make a quick turnaround after a rough patch. They’re still missing Jorge Posada, Nick Johnson, and Curtis Granderson, but will have Nick Swisher back for the weekend series.

Batting stats (AL rank)

BA: .279 (1st)
OBP: .365 (1st)
SLG: .453 (3rd)
wOBA: .364 (1st)

Even while missing a number of starters in recent weeks, the Yanks have only gone through one real dry spell with the bats. Otherwise they’ve hit the cover off the ball, as their AL ranks indicate. For what it’s worth, and it’s probably only worth something to die-hard statheads, the Yanks are obliterating the rest of the league in advanced metrics. Their wOBA lead is by .010, and they’ve produced 13 more wRAA than the next closest team.

Pitching stats (AL rank)

ERA: 3.93 (3rd)
FIP: 4.41 (9th)
K/9: 6.88 (7th)
BB/9: 3.35 (6th)
WHIP: 1.30 (3rd)
LOB%: 74.0 (4th)

Like the Mets, the Yankees have prevented a good number of runners from scoring, at least relative to the league. They have also done a good job of preventing hits on balls in play — their .280 BABIP ranks second lowest in the AL. Part of that low BABIP comes from a high groundball rate, 44.9 percent, which ranks fourth best in the AL. This is even better, because the Yanks have the highest HR/FB ratio in the bigs. Keeping that fly ball rate down, then, means fewer home runs.

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