Posada out 3-4 weeks with hairline fracture

Via Marc Carig, Jorge Posada will miss 3-4 weeks after an MRI showed a hairline fracture on the bottom of his right foot. He took a foul ball of his foot in Sunday’s game, and the injury was originally believed to be minor. There was talk that Posada could have returned to the lineup as soon as today, but so much for that.

Obviously he’s going to hit the disabled list and the team will need to call up another catcher. Chad Moeller is the obvious candidate, but he’s not on the 40-man roster so a move would have to be made (Nick Johnson to the 60-day DL?). In fact, there’s only two catchers on the 40-man as it is, so they’ll need to make a roster decision regardless of who they bring in.

Thames exits game with ankle sprain

Update (11:18pm): Joe Girardi said during the postgame that x-rays were negative and that Thames was not expected to be placed on the disabled list, which I guess is good news. I just hate seeing that dead 25-man roster spot.

9:33pm: Sprained left ankle. Time to call up another reliever.

9:27pm: Marcus Thames left tonight’s game after literally stepping on his own bat running out a single in the 6th inning. Not sure if it’s an ankle or a knee or what, but it was obvious from the replay that stepping on the bat did the trick. He was lifted from the game after trying to walk it off, and was replaced by Ramiro Pena. We’ll update this post as more info becomes available.

Sanchez dominant before bullpen nearly blows it for SWB

Jeremy Bleich was put on the disabled list with shoulder stiffness. He’s apparently back in Florida, so hopefully this well correct whatever’s causing that 26-28 K/BB ratio in 41.1 IP.

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Indianapolis)
Kevin Russo, LF & Reegie Corona, 2B: both 1 for 4, 1 K – Russo was hit by a pitch, doubled & scored a run … Corona walked & drove a run in
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 2 for 5, 1 RBI, 1 SB – he was robbed of a homer when the LF made a leaping catch at the wall
David Winfree, RF: 1 for 5, 1 R
Jon Weber, DH: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 K – 9 for his last 26 (.346) to get his AVG up to .244
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB – the double was off the very top of the CF wall, it actually looked out watching on TV … he also hit a ball right on the screws in his final at-bat, but Pedro Alvarez made a nice leaping catch at the hot corner … also threw out two would be basestealers, one of whom we know well
Chad Huffman, 1B: 3 for 3, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB – 12 for his last 31 (.387)
Reid Gorecki, CF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Matt Cusick, 3B: 0 for 4
Romulo Sanchez: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 7 K, 3-4 GB/FB – just 54 of his 105 pitches were strikes (51.4%) … effectively wild
Grant Duff: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – threw 20 pitches, 15 for strikes
Zack Segovia: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB – 15 of his 23 pitches were strikes (65.2%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-0 GB/FB – 14 of his 22 pitches were strikes (63.6%)

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Game 40: Big night for A.J.

Photo credit: Elise Amendola/AP

The bullpen has faltered. The lineup, while it has scored plenty of runs in the past two games, isn’t at its strongest. This is a game where A.J. Burnett needs to step up and turn in a performance that will 1) allow the Yanks to skirt by with four or fewer runs, and 2) give the bullpen a night off. A complete game might be asking a bit much — Burnett hasn’t pitched one since August 17th of last year, and hasn’t pitched a nine-inning one since May 16, 2007. Pitching into the eighth, however, will suffice.

It won’t be an easy task. While Burnett pitched well against the Rays earlier this year, they’re still an incredibly tough team. Their 5.31 runs per game ranks second in the A.L. this season. First, of course, is the Yankees, at 5.77 runs per game. The Rays hitters, however, haven’t fared all that well against Burnett. Only Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, and B.J. Upton hold career OBPs of over .300 against him. Then again, we’re talking pretty small samples here. Burnett’s performance will depend far more on his two-seamer and curveball than how well the Rays hit him historically.

The Rays not only rank second in run scoring, but also first in run prevention. They have allowed just 2.97 runs per game this season, almost a run per game less than the second-ranked team. That second-ranked team? None other than your own New York Yankees. Wade Davis has been the least effective run preventer in the Rays rotation, but even he has a 3.38 ERA. As I mentioned this afternoon, Davis is pitching well above his peripherals. Tonight would be a great one for a statistical correction.

Posada and Swisher are still out of the lineup. Last night Swisher said one more day, and, via Chad Jennings, he said the same today. His injury still doesn’t sound bad — he already had an MRI on it — so let’s just hope he’s back before we have to endure any more of Marcus Thames in the field. Jorge Posada‘s foot is still hurting, and he’s undergone some tests. Girardi said he’d be the emergency catcher, but man, I can’t imagine having to squat on a bum toe. I expect he’ll come back as a DH before catching his next game.

Lineup:

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Brett Gardner, CF
3. Mark Teixeira, DH
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Francisco Cervelli, C
7. Marcus Thames, RF as best he can
8. Juan MIranda, 1B
9. Randy Winn, LF

And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett, number thirty-four.

Yankees interested in Yunesky Maya

Via MLBTR, the Yankees have interest in 28-year-old* Cuban defector Yunesky Maya, who is now free to sign with any team. Farm director Mark Newman will be on hand to watch the righthander work out in the Dominican Republic this Friday. Maya reportedly offers a fastball that touches 94, plus a slider, curveball, changeup, and sinking fastball. At least two independent sources confirmed that scouting report, which is better than nothing. He’s listed at 5-foot-11, 170 lbs. on the World Baseball Classic site, so he’s a tiny fella.

The Yankees will potentially have two openings in their rotation next year, but you’d think that they’d prefer a little more certainty in those spots. These Cuban guys tend to be hit or miss. I suspect another team will give him a clearer shot at a starting job, so the Yanks might have to overpay if they want to land him.

* you never really know with these Cuban players

Staying above water against the Rays

Photo credit: Mike Carlson/AP

The Yanks and Rays have played just one series so far, but in it the Yankees took the lead in the season series 2-1. That might not sound important, knowing that they’ll play 15 more times before the end of the season. Yet any advantage is at least somewhat important in the 2010 AL East. The Yanks and Rays appear to be the best teams in baseball right now, so head-to-head matchups mean even more. Neither team can do anything about what the other does for the other 144 games of the year, but they can make a difference during those 18 included in the unbalanced schedule.

Thankfully, the Yankees have played the Rays well in the past few years. Last year, even though the Rays underperformed to an extent and essentially fell out of the division race in August, the Yankees went 11-7 against them, despite losing two out of three in a meaningless series to close the season. Even in 2008, when the Rays won the AL East with 97 wins and the Yanks missed the playoffs, the Yanks won 11 of their 18 match-ups. Going back further than that gets into Tampa Bay’s cellar dwelling days, though, strangely, the Yanks had a losing record against them in 2005.

The Yanks’ current 2-1 edge over the Rays means that they’ll continue leading the season series even if they split the next two games. That record will hold for a bit, as they don’t meet again until July 16th. The biggest battles will likely have to wait until September, when the Yankees travel to St. Petersburg for three games from the 13th through the 15th, and then the Rays come to the Stadium for four starting on the 20th. Those could be the final stand for either team’s claim to the AL East title. For now, the Yanks will just try to stay above water.

Thankfully, they open the series with a pitching advantage. Other than his meltdown at Fenway, A.J. Burnett has been fantastic this season. Even when he doesn’t have everything working, as he didn’t Friday evening against the Twins, he’s still able to scrape together quality starts. In only two starts, both against the Sox, has he failed to pitch into the seventh inning, which has been a boon to the bullpen. Last time around Burnett pitched seven innings and held the Rays to two runs.

The Yankees hit Wade Davis well in his season debut, turning 11 baserunners into four runs in six innings. Since then Davis has been a bit better, and now has his ERA down to 3.38. His peripherals, however, do not match up. His FIP sits at 4.94 and his xFIP is 4.96, so it appears that he’s gotten a bit lucky. That’s easy to verify with a look at his strikeout rate, 6.08 per nine, against his walk rate, 4.73 per nine. Davis has walked as few as two batters twice, but both times that came against Oakland, not the most patient team in the league. Unsurprisingly, he walked four batters, his season highs, against the Yankees and Red Sox.

Where the Yanks might find a real advantage is tomorrow night. While facing James Shields is never an easy task, this is more about the Rays offense than their pitching. Against left-handers this year the Rays have hit .229/.309/.360, while against righties they’re .266/.342/.424. Andy Pettitte, tomorrow night’s scheduled starter, missed the series against the Rays the first time, though CC Sabathia had his way with them. While Shields could hold the Yankees’ offense in check, Pettitte could match him pitch-for-pitch.

When two teams as good as the Yanks and the Rays meet, it’s tough to set expectations. As the last three games have reminded us, anything can happen when two good teams battle for nine innings. All the Yanks have to do, though, is win one of these. That will keep them above water against an important division foe until the next time the two meet.

Bleacher tickets for tonight

I have a friend with two bleacher seats for tonight. They’re in Section 202 (right field), row 17. At face they’re $12, and the email fee is $3 per ticket, for a total of $15. Email me if you want ’em.

Update: Taken.