Open Thread: Two outta three ain’t bad

Kaploler (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

It wasn’t exactly a textbook win today, but I’ll take it. Losing two starting pitchers to injury in the last two days is bad news, but it looks like A.J. Burnett will make his next start, and we’ll just have to hope for the best with Andy Pettitte. Maybe it’ll be a blessing in disguise, helping keep his 38-year-old body fresh for the stretch drive. Either way, the win today gives the Yankees a three game cushion in the AL East over Tampa, and a 6.5 game lead over Boston.

Now it’s time to sit back and relax with our open thread. The ESPN Sunday Night game features the Phillies and Cubs (Halladay vs. Gorzelanny), but talk about whatever you want. Enjoy the evening.

Yankees showing more interest in Luis Heredia

The international signing period has been pretty slow around all of baseball, not just with the Yankees, and a lot of that has to do with MLB’s identity investigations. The overall lack of talent this year is certainly a factor as well. The best pitcher on the market this year is 15-year-old Mexican righty Luis Heredia, and reportedly the Yankees are getting more serious about pursuing him. They have expressed interest in him in the past.

Baseball America ranked Heredia as the top pitching prospect and second best overall prospect on the international market this year (sub. req’d), saying the 6-foot-4, 180 pounder “has an excellent fastball that sits at 88-91 mph with good life and has touched 92.” Heredia is in a unique situation because he’s already signed on with a Mexican League club, so any team that wishes to sign him has to negotiate with the club for his rights. Under this scenario, the team will usually keep 75% of the bonus while the player receives just 25%. It could cost upwards of $3M to sign Heredia, a hefty price for someone so young and unrefined. The Yankees do have an exceptionally strong presence in Mexico, which should help.

Pettitte leaves game with left groin strain

Update (5:09pm): Joe Girardi indicated that Pettitte has a Grade I strain during his post-game press conference, the best possible case. He did, however, say they still have to see how he feels after to few days to figure out what’s next, and a DL stint is likely.

3:35pm: Jack Curry says Pettitte is at the hospital to get the injury checked out. Hopefully it’s just a Grade I strain, nothing too serious.

2:56pm: Pettitte left the game with a strained left groin, which is bad news. A DL trip might be required. Early money is on Sergio Mitre taking his place in the rotation, if it comes to that.

2:11pm: Andy Pettitte left today’s game in the middle of the third inning with an apparent injury to his left groin. He was grabbing at it and flexing his leg after delivering a pitch, and was then removed after a meeting at the mound. We’ll update this post with more info as we get it.

Game 91: A ‘perfect’ anniversary for a win

Baseball immortality. Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Zelevansky

Eleven years ago, David Cone took the mound in an Interleague match-up against the Montreal Expos. Like today, it was a stifling hot Sunday, and Cone twirled a gem of a game. Facing a lineup of young players who hadn’t seen him mix arm angles and pitch speeds before, the Yanks’ righty was perfect. He never once went to three balls on a single batter, and he struck out 10. When Orlando Cabrera popped out to Scott Brosius, the celebration began, and the losing pitcher that day was a kid named Javier Vazquez.

Today, Andy Pettitte won’t have to be perfect to beat the Tampa Bay Rays, but he doesn’t have much room for mistakes. The offense shouldn’t be a problem; after all, Tampa hits .244/.331/.390 against southpaws. Rather, it’s the opposing pitcher who will be tough to beat. David Price takes his heat to the stadium today in what could be a pitching duel for the ages.

Price is 12-4 this year with a 2.42 ERA, and he has truly come into his own as a starter this year. Opponents are hitting .223/.297/.343, and he allows fewer than a home run per nine innings. The Yanks have faced Price once this year and lost, despite scoring three runs off the lefty.

Pettitte, though, is no small beans himself. He’s 11-2 with a 2.70 ERA, and opponents are hitting .234/.295/.360 against him. Runs could be at a premium today. For Pettitte, today’s outing could be one of redemption. During his last time on the bump against Tampa, the Rays knocked him around for six runs in five innings, and he allowed a season-high three longballs in that May 20 start.

A win today ups the Yanks’ first place lead to three games; a loss brings Tampa to within a game. It’s as big a game in mid-July as one might find. It starts at 1:05 p.m. and will be on YES in the New York area and TBS nationwide. The lineups, please:

Derek Jeter SS – Hitting just .245/.322/.337 over his last 305 plate appearances
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Marcus Thames DH
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF

Andy Pettitte P

Game Notes: Per Joe Girardi, the team has no long man today. Dustin Moseley threw 75 pitches, and Chad Gaudin tossed 52 in the Yanks’ loss last night. I’d prefer to see Moseley DFA’d with Ivan Nova or Romulo Sanchez recalled, but Girardi says Chan Ho Park or Boone Logan could go multiple innings today if need be…A.J. Burnett reportedly apologized to teammates behind closed doors for his outburst that led to hand lacerations. No word on if he also apologized for his 8.15 ERA over his last eight starts.

Rays pound Yanks on Old Timer’s Day

Following yesterday’s touching tribute to George Steinbrenner and Bob Sheppard and Nick Swisher‘s walk-off hit, today’s game felt much more routine. Mickey Rivers got things started off with a walk-off hit of his own in the Old Timer’s Game, but the current Yankees couldn’t carry that momentum into their game against the Rays.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin)

Brignac’s Career Day

Once upon a time, Rays’ infielder Reid Brignac hit .321/.376/.539 split between High-A and Double-A, putting himself on the prospect map in 2006. Of course, he hasn’t exceeded a .760 OPS since, including this year in the big leagues. He started today’s game hitting .265/.329/.365 with just two homers, so naturally he went 3-for-5 with two long balls in this game. The first was the more damaging of the two homers, a 2nd inning shot off A.J. Burnett that increased Tampa’s lead to three. The second homer was a garbage time three run job off Dustin Moseley.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

The Rays would push ten runs across against a sorry trio of Yankee pitchers, with Brignac driving in five. It was just his fifth career three hit game and first career multi-homer game, so good for the kid. Hopefully that’s the last time I ever tip my cap to him.

What is this, 2006?

Burnett started Saturday’s game off fine, retiring the first two batters he faced before back-to-back hits gave Tampa the lead. Fine, whatever. It happens. Next inning, more of the same. Two quick outs, hit batter, then Brignac goes deep. Burnett then made an error trying to barehand a dinky little comebacker before escaping the frame, and he was so frustrated that he slammed his pitching hand (his pitching hand!!!) against a clubhouse door and hurt himself. The lacerations took away whatever shaky control he had to begin with, and he was out of the game before recording an out in the 3rd.

So on comes Moseley. He needed 75 freakin’ pitches to put eight men on base in three innings of work, and as you can imagine, his ERA now accurately reflects that performance. Chad Gaudin came in to finish things off, throwing the final four innings while giving up a pair of runs. The Yankees were down 4-2 when Burnett exited the game, but the Rays really mopped the floor with the Yanks mop-up men, washing away any hope of a comeback.

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

As I was watching the game, I thought to myself  “I can’t believe I’m watching Dustin Moseley pitch for the 2010 Yankees, this has a 2006-2008 vibe,” and it really did. Another team’s retread trying to soak up the middle innings after a stinky outing by the starter. Thankfully these kinds of games have been few and far between this season, which is a lot better than what we suffered through a few years ago, but still. When Sergio Mitre returns next week, I assume GM Brian Cashman is just going to flip a coin to determine who gets designated for assignment. Heads it’s Moseley, tails it’s Gaudin.


Rays’ starter Jeff Niemann was very wild in the early going, walking the bases loaded before Brett Gardner singled in a pair of runs in the 2nd. He settled down after that, retiring 15 of the final 20 batters he faced. Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira each took him deep for solo shots, but they were too little, too late.

The silver lining of this one: Posada’s starting to swing the bat a little better. He went 2-for-5 with a homer today after going 1-for-3 with a walk and a homer yesterday. Posada hit just .215/.348/.336 in 132 plate appearances after coming off the disabled list month, and the obvious possible reason for the improvement is the All Star break. The four days off probably gave the 38-year-old some time to heal up and recharge the battery. Whatever it is, hopefully he keeps it up.

Oh, and in case you missed it, Tim McCarver compared the Yankee front office to Nazi Germany. Ross has the video.

WPA Graph & Box Score

Never had a chance. has the box score, FanGraphs the other stuff.

Up Next

Tomorrow’s rubber game matinee features a pair of All Star lefties in Andy Pettitte and David Price. That should be a blast. The Yanks are still up two games on Tampa in the division, 5.5 up on Boston, so they’re guaranteed to start their series against the Angels on Tuesday in sole possession of first place regardless of what happens between now and then.

McAllister roughed up in SWB loss

The Yankees have asked Brandon Laird to start taking fly balls in the outfield before games, obviously because they want to try him out at there at some point in the future. That point may not be until next season, but it’s clear the team is trying to increase his versatility. Nothing is imminent though, this is just the start of the process.

Meanwhile, Dickie Marquez got released. I had him in my top 30 prospects list once upon a time, long before RAB. I blame that on the team’s lack of prospects at the time, not my poor judgment. Yeah, that’s it.

Triple-A Scranton (11-7 loss to Toledo)
Kevin Russo, 0 for 5, 4 K – understand since he’s had two plate appearances in the last 28 days
Reegie Corona, 2B: 1 for 5, 1 K
Eduardo Nunez, SS: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
Chad Tracy, 3B: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB – nine for 22 (.409) with four homers since signing
Jesus Montero, C: 0 for 4
Reid Gorecki, DH & Greg Golson, CF: both 1 for 4, 1 R – Gorecki K’ed three times … Golson homered, drove in two & K’ed
Eric Bruntlett, RF: 3 for 4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K – 12 for his last 23 (.522)
Zach McAllister: 2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 2-2 GB/FB – 35 of his 61 pitches were strikes (57.4%) … first time he’s walked three batters since his first start of the season … there was talk in the comments earlier about whether McAllister or Ivan Nova would replace A.J. Burnett if he had to miss a start, and frankly Z-Mac hasn’t done enough to earn a shot at the big leagues this year
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2-5 GB/FB – 40 of his 67 pitches were strikes (59.7%) … first action in 19 days … he gave up three homers
Eric Wordekemper: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0-2 GB/FB – 12 of his 17 pitches were strikes (70.6%)
Royce Ring: 1 IP, zeroes, 3-0 GB/FB – six of his 10 pitches were strikes … lowers his ERA to 1.52
Zack Segovia: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – all nine pitches were strikes

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Burnett leaves game with ‘lacerations’ on his throwing hand

Update(8:13pm): Burnett lied to Joe Girardi and Co. earlier; he cut his hand when he slammed it on a door. That can’t happen; he has to show some self-control. I know he’s frustrated — we’re all frustrated with his recent pitching — but that kind of behavior is selfish and inexcusable. At least Kevin Brown had the sense to use his left hand.

(6:31pm): A.J. Burnett left this afternoon’s game in the middle of the bottom of the third inning with what manager Joe Girardi later said were “lacerations on his right hand.” The Yanks’ skipper didn’t know when Burnett hurt his hand, but Kim Jones reports that Brian Cashman said Burnett tripped going up some stairs and scraped his hand. The injury to the Yanks’ right-hander appeared to impact his curve ball command. Dustin Moseley entered the game to relieve Burnett, and A.J. is, for now, day to day.