Jones homers twice and Mo makes history as Yankees wrap up homestand with a win

Freddy Garcia set the tone with the very first pitch, which Yunel Escobar promptly drove into the left-center field gap for a leadoff triple. I think we all accepted that that run was going to score, but Garcia used the Blue Jays’ aggressiveness against them to strand Yunel at third and escape the inning unscathed. The game was all Yankees from that point on.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Mr. Jones

It’s funny how much things can change in the span of 24 hours. Andruw Jones came into this game hitting just .191/.240/.340 in 50 plate appearances, and he had been resigned to platoon DH duty with Jorge Posada since both Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner haven proven adept at handling southpaws early on. Jones was in an awkward spot, and more than a few people wondered if his roster spot could be better used on someone else.

Fast forward to Wednesday, when the Yankees’ fourth outfielder contributed four runs with a pair of two-run homers against the Jays, tacking on a single for good measure. The first homer, which pushed New York’s lead to 3-0, came off a hanging changeup from Jo-Jo Reyes and was hit deep into the visitor’s bullpen. The second homer made it 7-1 in the sixth, and this one was a first pitch fastball from lefty Luis Perez. That one landed in Monument Park. Andruw raised his season batting line to .240/.283/.500 in the span of four pitches today, a helpful reminder that it’s still too soon to judge him.

This was Jones’ first two-homer game since May 1st of last season and his first three-hit game since last August 28th. The Yankees were the victims each time, so it’s nice to see him doing it for the good guys for once.

The Chief

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The box score line isn’t anything special (6.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K), but Garcia was pretty awesome in this game before seemingly tiring a bit in the seventh. He followed that Escobar triple by retiring nine of the next ten batters and 13 of the next 15.  Only three of the 27 batters he faced saw a three-ball count, and two of those came within the first six batters of the game. The Jays are a hacky team, swinging at the second most pitches out of the strike zone (31.0%) among AL teams, and Garcia used that to his advantage by keeping his junk just off the plate and generating plenty of weak grounders and pop-ups. Only twice did he throw more than 13 pitches in an inning.

The Sweaty Freddy experiment is now eight starts old, and he actually has the second best ERA (3.26) on the starting staff. His starts have followed a pattern though, patient teams give him a tough time while undisciplined offenses play right to his strengths. There’s nothing wrong with that, Garcia is giving the Yankees valuable innings right now, but at the end of the day he’s still just a placeholder until someone better comes along.

My Man C-Grand

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Remember Sunday’s recap, when I said that I wish Granderson would beef up his then .328 OBP? Well Grandy followed that up by reaching base ten times (six hits, three walks, one hit-by-pitch) in 14 plate appearances during the three games with Toronto. His OBP now sits at .353. I didn’t realize the Yankees actually listened to me, so in that case: Derek Jeter (.255/.310/.321) and Nick Swisher (.204/.321/.289) need to step it up.

Grandy had two hits in four at-bats on Wednesday, the first of which was a double into right that scored Jeter and gave the Yankees a one-zip lead two batters into the game. The second hit was another double that led off the third, and was followed by a Mark Teixeira homer to make it a 5-0 game. The Grandyman is at the center of everything these days, and he’s clearly been the Yankees’ best player this season. Just can’t say enough about how awesome he’s been.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)


Speaking of Swisher, how awful does he look? Man, the guy is lucky the Yankees don’t have to make a decision on his option until after the season, because right now he looks like a guy that would have trouble finding a minor league deal somewhere. There’s still 118 games left to go, so there’s plenty of time for him to turn things around. But damn, sooner would be preferable to later, Nick.

Under-rated moment of the game: Eduardo Nunez catching Rajai Davis in a run down between third and home in the seventh inning. He could have simply gotten the out at first on Escobar’s routine ground ball and no one would complain, but he made a very heads up play that cut down what would have been Toronto’s fourth run. He played it perfectly too, running into the baseline to cut Davis off from third, then forcing him down the line before throwing to Russell Martin for the out. Textbook run down, only one throw involved and no other runners advanced. Just a smart and well-executed play by the Yankees’ utility infielder.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Martin drew a pair of walks in four trips to the plate and get this: Russ has walked 11 times against just eight strikeouts in his last 15 games (64 plate appearances). That’s pretty awesome. Nunez was the only starter that failed to reach base today, but he made up for it with the run down. Wasn’t it kind of odd when Chris Dickerson replaced Jones in the outfield in the seventh? It’s not like Andruw needs a defensive replacement, so maybe he felt dehydrated or something. He spoke to reporters after the game and nothing was (obviously) wrong, so that’s good. Just struck me as a weird move though.

Last, but certainly not least, give it up to Mariano Rivera for throwing a scoreless ninth, which just so happened to be his 1,000th career appearance. He’s just the 15th man in big league history to do that, but the first to do it all with one team. Mo could easily jump into the top eight by the end of the season (he’s 35 appearances away from that), but breaking Jesse Orosco’s record (1,252) at some point might be tough. Regardless, congrats to him for a long and marvelous career.

WPA Graph & Box Score has your box score and video highlights, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

The Yankees are off on Thursday and are already in/on their way to Seattle for their first of two west coast trips this season. A.J. Burnett will kick the nine game trip off against rookie right-hander Michael Pineda on Friday. The team flew out after Wednesday’s game, so they’ll spend the off day in the great northwest fighting off the jet lag.

Dellin deals in Trenton win

A report from Scouting The Sally last night indicated that Gary Sanchez was demoted back to Extended Spring Training because of various “makeup” issues, however that is not the case. VP of baseball ops Mark Newman told Josh Norris that Sanchez has a “sore back,” and the league transactions confirm that he was placed on the disabled list and not demoted to ExST.

Triple-A Scranton had a scheduled off day.

Double-A Trenton (4-3 win over Reading in ten innings)
Ray Kruml, RF: 3 for 4, 1 2B, 1 BB – he’s been played pretty well since moving to the leadoff spot
Jose Pirela, SS: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 K
Austin Romine, C: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
Jose Gil, 1B: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K – 13 for his last 34 (.383) with six doubles and a homer
Cody Johnson, DH: 1 for 5, 1 K
Melky Mesa, CF: 0 for 5, 1 RBI, 2 K
Corban Joseph, 2B: 0 for 4, 1 K
Addison Maruszak, 3B: 1 for 4, 1 2B – today it’s third, tomorrow it’ll be catcher, the next day it’ll be first, and on it goes
Damon Sublett, LF: 1 for 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Dellin Betances, RHP: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K, 5-3 GB/FB – the strikeouts are cool, but the lack of walks is most important … he’d been struggling with his control big time over his previous three starts (13 BB in 15.2 IP), so it’s good to see him get that straightened out
Josh Schmidt, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K
Tim Norton, RHP: 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2-0 GB/FB
Wilkins Arias, LHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0-2 GB/FB
Fernando Hernandez, RHP: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1-1 GB/FB

[Read more…]

2011 Draft: Yanks “heavily linked” to Tyler Goeddel & Jake Cave

Via Frankie Piliere, the Yankees have been “heavily linked” to high schoolers Tyler Goeddel and Jake Cave in the upcoming draft. Baseball America ranked Goeddel as the 89th best prospect and Cave as the 182nd best prospect in their recently released top 200 list while Keith Law had them 35th and unranked in his lasted offering, respectively. A few days ago we heard the Yanks were in on two more high schoolers, Dillon Howard and Brandon Martin.

I actually have Goeddel, a third baseman/outfielder, on my list of players to write up before the draft. He’s a lanky kid at 6-foot-4 and 170 lbs., and his game is highlighted by athleticism and bat speed. He’s an above-average runner and thrower with a swing geared for contact, though the power isn’t there yet. Goeddel missed some time with mono this spring, but it’s a high-end skill set. He’s committed to UCLA. Cave, an outfielder and left-handed pitcher, is a better prospect on the mound is more of a fourth or fifth round guy. He sits anywhere from 86-94 with his fastball and also throws a changeup and a slider. Committed to LSU, Cave is the kind of guy that could come out of college in three years as a first or second round arm.

Open Thread: The Paul O’Neill (Almost) Comeback Story

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

For those of you who didn’t get a chance to watch this afternoon’s game on YES, Paul O’Neill told a rather interesting story in the top of the fourth inning. The Yankees, remember, went with a Shane Spencer-John Vander Wal platoon in right field to start the 2002 season after O’Neill retired, but in early-June they called up a then 23-year-old Juan Rivera (.324/.359/.500 in Triple-A) to take over the position full-time. Unfortunately Rivera crashed into a golf cart and tore up his knee a few days later, sidelining him for the next three months.

O’Neill said during today’s broadcast that after Rivera’s injury, he got a call from Joe Torre asking him about possibly coming back. So O’Neill, who was on vacation with his family at the time, starting working out and throwing and what not with his goal to join the team at midseason. Before he was ready and committed to the return though, the Yankees went out and traded for Raul Mondesi, putting an end to the comeback. Could you imagine that? That sure would have been neat.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing the Cubs (Gee vs. Coleman) and the Reds and Phillies (Wood vs. Halladay) will be on ESPN2, plus you’ve also got the NHL playoffs on Versus and the NBA playoffs on regular old ESPN. Talk about whatever you want here, so go nuts.

Rosenthal: Yankees pursued Franklin Morales

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees pursued a trade for lefty reliever Franklin Morales before he was dealt to the Red Sox last week. Boston got him for peanuts, just a player to be named later or cash. Morales, 25, was considered the eighth best prospect in the game by Baseball America just three years ago, one spot behind Clayton Kershaw and two spots ahead of David Price. He’s got a big fastball and a knockout curve, but he’s battled extreme control issues (6.0 BB/9 since 2008) and is a big time fly ball guy (just 33.6% grounders since 2009), so I’m not sure he was a good fit for Yankee Stadium. That said, you take chances on arms like this, but missing out on Morales isn’t the end of the world.

Soriano out at least six weeks with inflamed elbow ligament

Update (4:36pm): They just showed Cashman speaking on YES, and he clarified that Soriano would begin throwing to hitters in four-to-six weeks following the two weeks of rest, so two months sounds like a decent estimate of how long he’ll be out. Dr. James Andrews diagnosed an inflamed elbow ligament and is optimistic that the rest and rehab approach will knock this out. Andrews did Soriano’s Tommy John surgery back in the day, by the way.

Original Post (4:16pm): Via Conor Orr, Rafael Soriano will be out at least four-to-six weeks with an elbow issue. No word if it’s a ligament, tendon, muscle, or something else entirely. Brian Cashman confirmed that the right-hander will rest for two weeks before he can begin a “conservative” throwing program, which will lead to a four-to-six week rehab program. Sounds like he’ll be out for two months, essentially.

Yankees bring back Kanekoa Texeira

The Yankees have claimed Kanekoa Texeira off waivers according to the Royals, but credit Mike Ashmore for first having it. Conor Orr says Phil Hughes has been placed on the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster. Texeira came to the Yankees in the Nick Swisher trade three winters ago, but he went to Seattle in the 2009 Rule 5 Draft before bouncing to Kansas City. I wrote about him in last week’s mailbag, and the short version is that it’s a fine depth move but one that will hardly have much impact. Welcome back, Kanekoa.