Tampa & Staten Island end their seasons with losses

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Lehigh Valley in 10 innings, walk-off style)
Reid Gorecki, RF-CF & Jorge Vazquez, DH: both 0 for 4 – Gorecki walked & K’ed … JoVa K’ed twice
Kevin Russo, 2B, Eric Bruntlett, SS & P.J. Pilittere, C: all 1 for 4 – Russo got picked off first … Pilittere K’ed
Juan Miranda, 1B: 2 for 5, 1 K
Colin Curtis, CF: 0 for 2 – he was pulled for no apparent reason in the middle of the fifth inning (literally in the middle of the defensive inning, not between innings), so it’s safe to assume he’s on his way to New York with Nick Swisher and Austin Kearns banged up
Edwar Gonzalez, RF: 0 for 2
Chad Huffman, LF: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Brandon Laird, 3B: 2 for 4, 1 RBI – nine for his last 22 (.409) after the brutal rough patch
Lance Pendleton: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 6-11 GB/FB – 53 of his 77 pitches were strikes (.688) … that’s impressive work with a super low pitch count
Eric Wordekemper: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – 16 of 25 pitches were strikes (64%)
George Kontos: 0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K – threw three pitches (two strikes) before giving up a walk-off homer to an old friend

[Read more…]

Open Thread: All good things come to an end

That's right Alex, it's just one loss. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Well, it was fun while it lasted. It’s tough to get angry over a loss when it comes at the end of an eight game winning streak, so let’s just forget about this one and hope the Yankees start a new victory streak tomorrow (with me in attendance).

While we wait for that, use this as your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday Night game features the Giants and Dodgers (Sanchez-Kuroda), which has some meaning in the NL West race. For the Giants, anyway. You know the deal, so have at it.

Pettitte likely to throw rehab game on Wednesday

Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees and Andy Pettitte are “holding pretty firm” to the idea of having the lefty throw in a minor league rehab game on Wednesday. To be clear, those are Pettitte’s words. Double-A Trenton will be at home taking on New Hampshire in their first playoff game that day, so I’d bet my money on Pettitte rehabbing with the Thunder. Triple-A Scranton will be on the road for their playoff game that day, and their opponent is still unknown. Trenton is a much better fit every way.

A Wednesday rehab start would put Pettitte in line to return to the Yankees’ rotation the following Monday, though I bet the Yanks will keep CC Sabathia on turn and have him face the Rays in Tampa that day. They could then have Andy pitch against the Rays the next day, pushing Ivan Nova back to Wednesday and Javy Vazquez out of that series.

City celebrates opening of River Ave. pocket parks

Bronx children pose at the new River Ave. pocket park. (Photo courtesy NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation)

Five years ago, city politicians and Yankee officials celebrated the groundbreaking for new Yankee Stadium, and as they did, the South Bronx lost a significant chunk of its green space. Although the plans for the new stadium called for replacement parks scattered throughout the neighborhood, with the slicing and dicing of Macombs Dam Park, the neighborhood lost a focal point for athletics and play. This week, though, the city celebrate progress, if a bit sluggish, in replacing these parks.

City politicians and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe gathered on Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for two River Ave. pocket parks. Featuring a playground for kids and skate plaza, the park is located aside the elevated tracks of the 4 train at around E. 157th St. “Thanks to $6 million in funding from the Yankee Stadium redevelopment program, there’s a brand new place to go rolling on River Avenue,” Benepe said. “The skate plaza on the south, and playground on the north are two examples of the city’s commitment to expanding fitness and recreation opportunities in the South Bronx.”

Both the skate plaza and playground are located on the sites of former parking lots, and the city worked with the community to design and incorporate the parks into the urban landscape. The skateboarding community suggested numerous features including half-pipes, ramps, stairs, rails, ledges, gaps and other elements for their area, and this park alos includes a bit of green space. It is, says Parks in a press release, “one of city’s first skate parks to use traditional New York City Parks materials, and references elements from the city’s past and present.”

The playground, meanwhile, uses the subway to the delight of children. It features spray fountains and lights that are turned on as subway trains pass by. It must be particularly exciting on a day such as today when post-game 4 trains bound for Manhattan clank by every 2-3 minutes.

In unveiling these parks, the city proclaimed its $195 million investment in new parks surrounding the stadium, and while praise for these projects is warranted, the parks have often seemed like an afterthought. This skate park was supposed to open in 2007, and Bronx residents will still be waiting at least another year before the Heritage Field centerpiece is ready for play. Still, progress is progress, and the city is slowly putting a not-so-flattering chapter of community development behind it.

A skater jumps the gaps at the new plaza. (Photo courtesy of NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation)

Sunday morning links

Some Sunday morning links for your reading pleasure:

Here’s a good article about B.J. Upton and his reputation as a slacker. As Upton’s salary increases in arbitration and the Rays transition away from the Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena, at some point it’s a given Upton will be on the market.  He has never quite become the superstar many predicted, he’s still a good player who will be just 26 next season.  While I am happy with the outfield as is, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Yankees see what they could get for Gardner in the offseason as they can sell high both on his performance and contract.  If they believe he’s 100% legit maybe not, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Upton in pinstripes if a position in the OF opens up.

Wilson Betemit will forever be known to Yankee fans as the guy who got us Nick Swisher, but he has put together a solid season for himself.  Once a big time prospect with the Braves (top 100 by Baseball America 4 years in a row, peaking at #8), Betemit has bounced around quite a bit but is still just 28.  For some reason I was always a fan of Betemit and was thrilled when the Yankees got him.  On the field he didn’t work out but clearly helped in trade.  I hope he’s finally settled in and will go on to have a solid career.

A few weeks back John Sickels took a look at how his preseason Top 20 Yankee prospects have fared in 2010.  He didn’t update his list, but just made some notes on how his list has fared.  Needless to say, it’s a pretty promising read, especially considering some of the guys that weren’t in his Top 20 and how they have fared this year.

The latest Jim Callis chat (which I always miss since they are no longer at ESPN) has some good Yankee nuggets as well as some overall good questions and answers.  I love the way he quickly dismisses the guy who wants to compare Freddie Freeman to Jesus Montero.

Yanks guarantee series win over Toronto

Both times the Yankees faced the Blue Jays in August they lost the series 2-1. There are worse things than 2-1 series losses, especially to a team that has played like the Jays. It’s not like they lose a series to the Indians or Royals. With yesterday’s victory the Yankees locked down another series.

Biggest Hit: Mr. Automatic

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

What type of runs would you like? Do you like yours when down in a close game? How about game-tying? I hear that go-ahead runs are just the tastiest. Except walk-off, of course. Walk-off runs are the juiciest runs of them all. Marcus Thames has cooked up all of them this season. Yesterday he prepared us a helping of go-ahead runs.

The game took some early turns. Neither starter got through the fifth. Javier Vazquez did make a bid, but Joe Girardi removed him in a first and third, two outs situation in the fifth. In a scenario that we will discuss in a moment, the Blue Jays tied the game. It stayed that way for a couple of innings. Until Marcus Thames came to the plate, that is.

Thames actually led off in the bottom half of the fifth, but he realized that he had plenty of time. Instead of pulverizing a Jesse Carlson slider he merely grounded it to third. It was a gift by appearances, but Thames was just biding his time. In the seventh he recognized that the situation had become dire. Carlson retired six straight and his successor, Jason Frasor, added two to the tally. But then Robinson Cano snapped the skid with his second up-the-middle single of the game. Thames would not let the opportunity pass.

Frasor threw his first pitch, a slider, towards the inside edge. Thames swung, but he managed only to foul it away. Carlson, fool that he is, tried the same thing again, but this pitch he left right in the center of the plate. Thames put a mighty swing on it and drove it to the bit field in left-center. But it could not contain Thames. He sent the ball into the visitor’s bullpen, putting his Yankees ahead.

A curious pitching change

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

Over the course of a season the manager makes hundreds of pitching changes. There is no way that they’ll all work. Most of the time, if he’s a good manager, he’ll make the right call. But most is just more than 50 percent. There are plenty of times when the manager will make a good call that fails. Other times he’ll make a plain bad call. It happens. Joe Girardi mostly makes the right call. Yesterday he made a suspect one.

Javier Vazquez was not pitching like he had during his previous two relief outings. His fastball didn’t crack 90. He didn’t have the command necessary to compensate for his diminished velocity. He threw too many damn sliders, a pitch that just hasn’t worked this year. It amounted to three runs through four innings, both on second inning home runs. But Vazquez had settled down, allowing no runs in the third and fourth before retiring the first two batters in the fifth. But then he walked Jose Bautista. No biggie. It became a biggie, apparently, when Vernon Wells followed with a single.

That brought Overbay, who had homered earlier in the game, to the plate. Joe Girardi bound out of the dugout after the single, so it was clear that he in no way would let Vazquez face Overbay again. That might sound like a reasonable position, especially considering how Javy looked, but there were a few things to consider here. First, the tying run was 270 feet away, so it would have taken a big hit to score him. Second, the homer earlier on the game came on a slider. Letting Vazquez pitch to Overbay, but forbidding him to throw a slider, was probably the right call. But Girardi went to Dustin Moseley. I fail to see the upgrade.

Maybe if he’d gone to Robertson, or Chamberlain, or even Logan, I wouldn’t have thought it such a bad call. But Moseley? Maybe he could have brought Moseley in to eat an inning or two after that. The big guns in the pen have been worked hard lately. That tends to happen when you win a lot of games in a short span. If Girardi wants to go with the long man in the sixth with a two-run lead, so be it. But Moseley with the tying runs on base? It just seems odd coming from a guy who, just a month and a half ago, used Robertson in the third inning in a crucial situation.

This doesn’t make Girardi a bad manager. No one will make the right call 100 percent of the time. But this seemed like a fairly obvious one. Don’t go to Moseley with the tying run on base unless it’s of the utmost necessity.

Wrap-around lineup

(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

For much of the season Brett Gardner has hit ninth. That makes him a “second lead-off hitter,” whatever that means. Really, it means he’s hitting ninth. I don’t know why Girardi does it, but he likes having that second leadoff hitting advantage. But ever since A-Rod‘s injury Girardi has found a spot in the top of the lineup for Gardner. Which makes sense. He takes pitches, he gets on base, and he’s a threat to steal. That means not having a wrap-around lineup. Unless you do.

Francisco Cervelli had another pleasantly surprising day. He doubled twice and came around to score both times, first thanks to a wild pitch and second thanks to a Derek Jeter chopper that — to invoke Michael Kay — fortuitously ricocheted off the third base bag. As Chad Jennings relays, it was the first multi-double game of Cervelli’s career. It’s always a little easier to score runs when the bottom of the order produces. Cervelli deserves much praise for his recent timely hits.

Graph and Box

If I just saw this graph and the final score, I’d probably think that this was a pretty good game. And I’d be right.

More green lines at FanGraphs. Fogies can get their fix with the traditional box.

Up Next

It’s never a bad game when you’re looking at not only a sweep, but a ninth straight win. Phil Hughes goes for it, while Brett Cecil tries to stop it. It’s Day Game No. 4 of 5 from the Bronx.