Game 30: Finish Them

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

The Yanks have already won this weekend series, but that’s never enough. They’ve got a chance to finish off the sweep in Boston, and when coupled with the Rays getting perfect game’d in Oakland, they’ve also got a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the AL East. It won’t be easy though, the Red Sox are sending their best arm out to the mound in Jon Lester.

Here’s tonight’s lineup, which looks a bit more like the A-lineup than what they’ve had to throw out there the last few days…

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

And on the mound, Allen James Burnett.

First pitch tonight is scheduled for 8:05pm ET, and the game can be seen nationally on ESPN. Enjoy.

CC does Dallas

When A-Rod broke an unwritten rule few were aware even existed, all hell broke loose in Oakland. The date was Thursday, April 22, and Dallas Braden and the A’s were playing the Yanks in the final game of a three-game set. On his way back to first from third base on a foul ball, A-Rod stepped on the pitcher’s mound, and Dallas Braden didn’t take too kindly to it.

At the time, Braden railed on A-Rod, and he sounded both full of himself and as though A-Rod had run over his dog. “I don’t care if I’m Cy Young or if I’m the 25th man on the roster. “If I’ve got that ball in my hand and I’m out there on that mound, that’s not your mound. If you want to run across the mound, go run laps in the bullpen. That’s my mound,” he said, later adding. “I don’t go over there and run laps at third base. I don’t go over there. I don’t spit over there. I don’t spit over there. I stay away. You guys ever see anybody run across the mound like that? He ran across the pitcher’s mound, foot on my rubber. No. Not flyin.”

A-Rod: “He just told me to get off his mound. I was a little surprised. I’ve never heard that, especially from a guy with a handful of wins in his career…It’s not really a big deal. I didn’t know he was talking to me. I thought it was pretty funny actually…I’ve never heard of that in my career.”

End of story, right? Well, not if you’re Dallas Braden. Speaking to Comcast’s Bay Area affiliate, Braden had a laughable message for A-Rod. “There are things that are going to have to happen,” Braden said. “Out of respect to my teammates, out of respect to the game. I think he’s probably garnered a new respect for the unwritten rules and the people who hold them close to their game. But I think you’re right, we don’t do much talking in the 209.” The 209 is a reference to Stockton, California, the birthplace of Braden. For an area that doesn’t do much talking, Braden couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

When the Yankees heard of Braden’s latest comments, they tore into the A’s lefty, and Bob Klapisch nailed down the goods from A-Rod’s teammates. As A-Rod said he no longer wanted to discuss it or give Braden more headlines, Yanks’ GM Brian Cashman added his two cents. “Braden is wrong and Alex is right,” he said to Klapisch. “The more Dallas talks about it, the sillier he looks.” Indeed. Dallas Braden does indeed come across as an immature young pitcher with no sense of respect for the game or his boundaries. Even if A-Rod broke an unwritten rule, Braden has topped him by yammering about this for two weeks.

The final word though belongs to CC Sabathia who summed up this entire incident and Dallas Braden’s response in one of the better quotes we’ll read all season. “He’s a clown,” Sabathia said. “Guy says he’s from the 209, what the [bleep] is that? That’s where I’m from and I don’t know what he’s talking about. Two-oh-nine. He needs to just calm down – put that in the paper. That’s just tired.”

Update (6:27 p.m.): In news too coincidental to be anything but true, Dallas Braden just wrapped up a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Athletics Nation opted to take the high road in their gloating toward A-Rod, and the Yanks can move into sole possession of first place in the AL East with a win tonight against Boston.

Gene Monahan and his battle

For the first time in nearly five decades, the Yankees started a season without head athletic trainer Gene Monahan there to deal with the aches and pains and injuries. Monahan had his own ailment to deal with – cancer of the throat and tonsils. Wayne Coffey detailed not just Monahan’s fight today, but also his time with the Yankees. From when he joined the organization at a bat boy in 1962 to when he became head trainer to all the times George Steinbrenner fired him. It gets RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

The good news is that after surgery and 30 rounds of radiation treatment, Monahan is close to returning. He set a target date of June 1st, and after spending the last several months taking care of himself, he can get back to doing what he loves: taking care of others.

Where are they now? Yankees offseason targets

If the byline looks a bit unfamiliar, that’s because we’ve brought aboard a couple of guys to help out on weekends. Welcome Steve H from Mystique and Aura and also the RAB comments.

How are the offseason targets of the Yankees faring so far in 2010?  Every offseason all big name and big money free agents are tied to the Yankees.  Obviously this is often posturing by the agents to drive up the bidding elsewhere (if the Yankees truly have no interest).  I’m going to look at a few of the players they likely had at least a passing interest in and how they are faring so far in 2010.  It’s truly too early to judge any of these contracts any differently than I would have when they were first signed, but it’s interesting nonetheless to see how these players are faring so far.  Today I will roll out the hitters, with the pitchers soon to follow.

Matt Holliday

0.275 0.331 0.450 4 0.338 0.310

The big fish from this offseason is off to a poor start after resigning with the Cardinals who negotiated (admittedly) against themselves and gave Holliday a 7 year/$120 million deal.  So far, not so good.  Holliday hasn’t been terrible, but as you can see in his line above, he’s been pretty pedestrian.  Of note, his BABIP is at .310 which is solid but well below his career BABIP of .350.  That of course needs to be taken with a grain of salt as the majority of his career came at Coors Field, which has more room for hits to fall in than any other park in baseball.  I certainly wouldn’t expect his BABIP to be at .350 going forward, so his .310 doesn’t portray too much bad luck.

Jason Bay

0.238 0.345 0.376 1 0.324 0.338

Bay was likely never a true target for the Yankees, but with an unsettled LF situation, he was certainly mentioned as a possibility in the Bronx.  Bay was seen as Holliday-lite, a little older, a little worse in the field and less accomplished as a hitter.  While his 4 year/$66 million seemed like an overpay at the time, it won’t hurt down the road as much as Holliday’s deal might.  Bay is off to a very slow start for the Mets.  In what has to be a frightening thought for the Mets, Bay’s .338 BABIP is above his career average of .327.  Oof.  He’s simply not providing any power at the plate, but Bay is historically streaky and is due to heat up soon.

Chone Figgins

0.204 0.336 0.265 0 0.293 0.278

Figgins was also rumored as a potential landing spot for the Yankees left field.  Considering he hasn’t played the OF regularly since 2006 and doesn’t figure to age well, I’m glad the Yankees stayed away from Figgins.  Figgins signed on with the Mariners for 4 years/$36 million.  A little steep for my liking, but not a terrible contract.  Figgins is off to a terrible start with a .293 wOBA and amazingly he’s carrying a .265 SLG.  Figgins has been very unlucky, as his .278 BABIP is well below his career average of .340.  Expect Figgins’ numbers to pick up soon.

Mark Derosa

0.205 0.298 0.277 1 0.259 0.239

Many people thought that the New Jersey born DeRosa would be a great fit for the Yankees as either the starting LF, or a utility player who could rotate around giving some of the regulars time off at DH.  Derosa signed with the Giants for 2 years/$12 million, which would have been too rich for the utility role, but as a starter not a bad contract at all.  It’s short term, and the money is moveable in a trade should the need come necessary.  DeRosa has primarily played LF, but to truly get some value out of him, his versatility should be taken advantage of.  DeRosa is off to a terrible start, but much of that can be attributed to poor luck.  His BABIP of .239 pales in comparison to his career of .309, so he is bound to pick it up at the plate.  If his BABIP was at his career norm, the career .273 hitter would be batting .265.

Johnny Damon

0.308 0.402 0.452 1 0.382 0.356

I had to save the two ex-Yankees for last.  Thousands of words have been written about Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui’s departures from the Yankees after their 2009 postseason heroics. After spurning the Yankees early offers, Damon signed with the Tigers for 1 year/$8 million.  Considering when he signed, and the other bats on the market, Damon did pretty well for himself, but left a lot of money on the table by not signing sooner.  Damon is off to a strong start, but his current .356 BABIP would be a career high(what is it with Detroit OF’s and luck?), and in his 16th season, he’s very unlikely to maintain that level.  At his career .308 BABIP, Damon would be hitting just .269.  As expected, leaving Yankee Stadium has sapped him of his HR power, as Damon has just 1 on the season after having 4 last April and another 6 in May.  Damon’s numbers are solid so far, but he is due for regression going forward.

Hideki Matsui

0.236 0.309 0.400 4 0.311 0.262

While the Yankees showed genuine interest in bringing back Damon, they seemed to have no plans to bring back Matsui.  They were happy to get a healthy season out of Matsui in 2009, but weren’t ready to rely on him for another year.  Add to that Matsui’s (crazy) notion that he wanted to play in the field, and Matsui was on his way.  If they use him strictly as a DH, the 1 year/$6.5 million contract the Angels signed him to could pay off.  After a very fast start, Matsui has been slumping of late.  Luck is partly the blame as his .262 BABIP is 40 points off his career average.  Of note however is that his BABIP was just .273 last year, so expecting a .302 BABIP at this point may be wishful thinking.  The 4 HR’s Matsui has hit so far are decent, but that’s about it.  Matsui is a very solid hitter and will get it going as we get deeper into the season, provided his knees don’t explode lumbering after a flyball.  Matsui’s two worst months in his career using OPS are April and May, so the Angels haven’t seen the best of Matsui’s bat yet.

Cervelli & Teixeira lead the way as Yanks pummel Sox again

Even though the Yankees won on Friday, it was a frustrating win. Josh Beckett pitched with a reckless abandon that directly led to Robbie Cano‘s injury, while Nick Johnson also went down for the count. They rolled into Fenway on Saturday afternoon looking not just for a little revenge, but for another win, which would give them six in a row and their second series win over the Red Sox in an as many tries. Four hours of baseball plus a rain delay later, they got that win. They got that win and then some.

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

Biggest Hit: You Got Cerv’d

The first four innings of this game went back and forth because no one really decided to take control. The Yanks were certainly getting men on base against Clay Buchholz – 14 baserunners in his five innings, in fact – but their lead stood at just one, at least until Frankie Cervelli stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the 5th.

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP

The Red Sox righthander threw a first pitch changeup to the young catcher, just like he did the inning before. And just like the inning before, Cervelli took the pitch low for a ball. In the 4th, Buchholz followed up with a flat 90 mph slider that stayed up, which Cervelli dunked into center for a single. He wouldn’t make the same mistake this inning, but his 94 mph heater was over the plate and Cervelli once again singled to center. Two runs crossed the plate before Randy Winn was tagged out in a run down between second and third, and the Yankees had a three run lead they would never relinquish.

Biggest Out: Beltre gets doubled up

Right at the start of the game, Mark Teixeira killed a two on, no out rally in the first, but all is forgiven since he more than made up for it later in the game (more on that in a bit). An inning later, Adrian Beltre did almost exactly the same thing. Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell reached with singles before J.D. Drew went down swinging, so Beltre had a chance to give Boston an early lead, something they probably could have used after Friday night’s messy loss.

CC Sabathia started him out with a  sinker away for a ball, but his next pitch – a changeup – got the corner for a strike, He tried to get the free swinging Beltre by doubling up on the change, but he wouldn’t bite. The fourth pitch of the at-bat actually wasn’t all that good, a sinker left out over the plate and about knee high. Thankfully, Boston’s third baseman chopped it into the ground, leading to a garden variety and inning ending 6-4-3 double play.

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP


We didn’t know when it was going to happen or who it was going to happen to, but everyone had a pretty good idea that a Yankee pitcher was going to plunk a Red Sox batter as retaliation for Beckett’s recklessness on Friday. Turns out that Sabathia took matters into his own hands, drilling Dustin Pedroia in the behind with a first pitch fastball that registered at 98 mph on PitchFX. He’s probably not going to be able to sit on that side for a week, but Boston’s second baseman knew what was up and just put his head down and ran to first. It was about as orderly as a revenge beaning could be. Well, except for what followed.

Sabathia had already allowed a homer to minor league legend Darnell McDonald earlier in the inning, and his command was less than stellar on the day already. Victor Martinez, his former teammate in Cleveland, dug in, and after taking a first pitch fastball for a strike, he sat back and watched CC throw three straight balls. Taking all the way on 3-1, V-Mart let a hittable changeup go by for a strike, then fouled off a sinker with the count full. The next pitch was probably Sabathia’s worst of the game, a 94 mph fastball belt high and over the plate, which Martinez turned around and launched clear over the Green Monster. The Red Sox had taken the lead, and Joe Buck was yelling that the Red Sox have been “fired up” by the hit by pitch.

I don’t have a problem with sticking up for your teammates, but I did have a bit of a problem with the timing. It was a one run game and the middle of the order was coming up. You’ve just gotta be smarter than that, and wait until later on when the game isn’t so up for grabs. And you know what? If the opportunity doesn’t come to retaliate later in the game, then so be it. That makes it the next pitcher’s job whenever he gets a chance. Sabathia threw 17 pitches in the inning after hitting Pedroia, which essentially meant the bullpen was going to have to work an extra inning later in the game. Granted, it wasn’t factor in this one because of the weather, but that doesn’t make it okay.

Believe it not, V-Mart’s bomb was the biggest WPA swing of the game, improving Boston’s chances of winning by 20.6%.

The Frankie & Mark Show

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP

With four regulars either on the disabled list or limited due to injury, the Yankees’ lineup looked a little less formidable than usual. Thankfully, Teixeira and Cervelli made that a moot point.

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer, AP

The Yanks’ first baseman went 4-for-6 on the day, with three of those four leaving the yard. His first homer was a solo shot off Buchholz in the 5th, breaking a 3-3 and giving the Yankees a lead they would never give back. The second came off Ramon Ramirez, the first batter he faced, and was another solo jack that wrapped around the Pesky Pole to push the Yanks even further out in front. The third homer probably shouldn’t count since it came off a 79 mph fastball from outfielder turned pitcher Jon Van Every in the 9th inning of a nine run game. Either way, it was the first three run homer by a Yankee since Alex Rodriguez worked over Bartolo Colon back in 2005, and only the second three homer game by a Yankee in Fenway Park. The first one belongs to some guy named Lou Gehrig.

Not to be outdone, Cervelli had the finest game of his young career, going 3-for-4 with five runs driven in, all on singles punched right back up the middle. Hitting coach Kevin Long was probably thrilled to see that. Ever since Jorge Posada went down with his calf injury, the Yanks’ backup backstop has gone 9-for-14 with two walks and just one strikeout, and he’s hitting a cool .429-.500-.500 on the season.

They’re Calling For The Tarp When?!

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

The weather report this weekend has been anything but good, with rain threatening the first two games of the series. The two sides were able to play uninterrupted on Friday, but Saturday was different story. Dark clouds rolled in sometime in the 4th inning, and soon enough the groundskeepers had to turn the lights in. With the Yankees clinging to a three run lead and monsoon conditions imminent, Sabathia went to the mound in the bottom of the 5th needing three outs to make the game official and qualify for a win before the skies opened up.

CC needed seven pitches to retire McDonald, then walked Marco Scutaro on eight pitches before Pedroia popped out on three pitches. Needing one more out, it looked like he would be able to make this one official before the rain became a factor. Instead, V-Mart fouled off a 2-2 pitch to extend the at-bat, and before Sabathia was able to deliver another pitch, someone turned the rain switch on as if they were filming the sequel to The Truman Show. It just started pouring. CC never got a chance to retire Martinez because the umps signaled for the tarp almost immediately. With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the 5th. One out from an official game. It was the ultimate WTF moment, and even though it didn’t have much of an impact in the grand scheme of things, we would have felt a little more comfortable during the rain delay knowing this game was official.

Another One Bites The Dust

It’s almost comical at this point. The Yankees have had seven prominent players go down with injuries in the last seven days, and on Saturday they made it 8-for-8. Pitching in relief of Sabathia following the rain, Al Aceves retired V-Mart to end the 5th before going back out to work the 6th. While facing Jeremy Hermida with two outs and two on, The Mexican Gangster came up lame after throwing a first pitch curveball for a strike, and immediately began limping in front of the mound.

Based on his awkward landing and his reaction afterward, everyone figured Aceves had injured his leg somehow. Whether it was a hamstring or a knee or an ankle, who knew. He left the game immediately, and after the game we learned that he was dealing with a stiff lower back, the same issue he had in Spring Training. It’ll keep him out of action for a few days, but thankfully he won’t need to the visit the disabled list.

Photo Credit: Elise Amendola, AP

Various Moments Of Joy

I covered most of them above, but I just want to expand on Tex for a little bit. The Yankees have played just seven games in May, but their first baseman already has more hits (12), homers (3), RBI (11), and total bases (23) than he did in the entire month of April (11, 2, 9, 21, respectively). Today’s effort increased his batting average by 26 points, his on-base percentage by 15 points, and his slugging percentage by … wait for this … 101 points! Teixeira finally crawled over the Mendoza line, and hitting .207-.343-.396 on the season.

The Yankees drew ten walks today, and struck out just four times. They put 27 men on base total, scored 14 runs, and still left nine men on base. And they didn’t even have Nick Johnson, Jorge Posada, and Curtis Granderson in the lineup. That’s amazing.

How about that moment of silence for Ernie Harwell and Robin Roberts in the 3rd? Nevermind escaping the nonsense of Buck and Tim McCarver, it was nice to hear nothing but the sounds of the game as if you were at the park. Truly epic.

And last, but certainly not least, congrats to Kevin Russo for making his Major League debut. First Yankee to make his big league debut in 2010.

Things That Made Me Want To Throw My Remote

Not much to complain about that I already haven’t above, but good grief, how about Joe Girardi matching up with Damaso Marte against a lefty in the 8th inning of a nine run game? Come on now, that’s ridiculous.

Randy Winn getting thrown out at the plate in the 4th. The Yanks had two men on with no outs after V-Mart gave the Sox the lead, and that out at home was a big blow at the time. They only went on to score one run in the inning, and even though it didn’t matter in the end, making the first out at home is a major no-no.

WPA Graph

“Oh look, they’re trying to put up a fight.” “Let’s stop that.” “Oh wait look again, now they’re trying to make a comeback.” “Crush them.”

Individual player breakdowns are available at FanGraphs’ box score.

Next Up

With the series already in the bag, the Yankees will try for the sweep tomorrow night on ESPN. A.J. Burnett gets the ball against Jon Lester, first pitch set for 8:05pm ET.

Trenton walks off with a win as Romine’s streak comes to an end

Mike Ashmore has a full transcript of Nardi Contreras’ chat with reporters yesterday, so don’t miss it. It’s a must read. Also, Justin Snyder’s been bumped up to SWB.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Durham)
Greg Golson, CF & Reegie Corona, 2B: both 1 for 5, 2 K – Golson threw a runner out at second … Corona scored a run
Eduardo Nunez, SS & Chad Huffman, DH: both 0 for 3, 1 BB, 2 K – Nunez got caught stealing
Juan Miranda, 1B: 0 for 2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K – good to see him back … he took a pitch off the elbow a few days ago & missed a couple of games … have to imagine he’ll get a chance to fill in for Nick Johnson, even if it’s just a platoon role
David Winfree, RF & Robby Hammock, 3B: both 2 for 4 – Winfree hit a bomb & drove in three
Jon Weber, LF: 0 for 4, 2 K
P.J. Pilittere, C: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 CS, 1 PB – still no definitive reason on why Jesus Montero was lifted from yesterday’s game … anything you see is just speculation at this point
Jason Hirsh: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 5 K, 6-4 GB/FB, 1 E (throwing) – just 58 of 105 pitches were strikes (55.2%) … just one of those days
Zack Segovia: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3-2 GB/FB – 20 of 27 pitches were strikes (74.1%)
Jon Albaladejo: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1-0 GB/FB – 11 of his 13 pitches were strikes

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Aceves pulled with stiff lower back

Update by Mike (8:46pm): Aceves will be out for two or three days, which isn’t all that bad. Phew.

7:24: Aceves exited with a stiff lower back. He’s had back problems before, as recently as Spring Training.

6:51pm: The injury bug continues to bite the Yankees. While pitching in the bottom of the sixth, Alfredo Aceves finished his delivery awkwardly and injured himself. The team has yet to announce what happened, but Joe Girardi and the trainers pulled the versatile reliever without hesitation. We’ll update this post as news comes in.