Montero continues to struggle in Venezuela

The Arizona Fall League is off on Sundays, but I never updated yesterday’s game, so here it is:

AzFL Surprise (12-5 loss to Peoria Javelinas on Saturday)
Brandon Laird: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K – 0 for his last 14 and 2 for his last 19
Zach Kroenke: 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 2 HB, 2-0 GB/FB – 23 of 37 pitches were strikes (62.2%) … PitchFX had him at 91.16-92.8 with the fastball

The Yankees are donating money to the Joe Niekro Foundation for every strikeout their pitchers record in the AzFL, so that’s cool. Here’s your weekly winter ball update:

Dominican Winter League
Abe Almonte: 4 G, 0 for 3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB, 0 CS
Wilkins Arias: 6 G, 5.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1.33 GB/FB
Ivan Nova: 3 G, 2 GS, 11 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2.38 GB/FB
Jon Ortiz: 4 G, 1.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1.00 GB/FB
Joe Valdez: 7 G, 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0.67 GB/FB - nice job so far, but it probably won’t get him a 40-man spot
Josue Calzado: 1 H, 0.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0.00 GB/FB – hasn’t appeared in a game in over two weeks

Noel Castillo, Gabriel Tatis, Jairo Heredia, Hector Noesi, Juan Miranda, and Eduardo Nunez are all listed on various DWL rosters, but haven’t appeared in a game yet.

Mexican Pacific League
Walt Ibarra: 11 H, 7 for 16 (.438), 7 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 SB, 0 CS
Humberto Sanchez: 3 G, 3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1.25 GB/FB - eek

Danny Gil is on Ibarra’s team, but he hasn’t pitched in a game yet.

Venezuelan Winter League
Jesus Montero: 8 G, 3 for 23 (.130), 2 R, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K, 0 SB, 0 CS – panic!
Reegie Corona: 11 G, 8 for 25 (.320), 5 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
Marcos Vechionacci: 7 G, 6 for 15 (.400), 2 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
Luis Nunez: 9 G, 8 for 31 (.258), 1 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 SB, 0 CS
Edwar Gonzalez: 15 G, 12 for 46 (.261), 6 R, 0 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 10 K, 3 SB, 1 CS
Josh Schmidt: 5 G, 4 GS, 17.1 IP, 16 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 6 BB, 15 K, 1.57 GB/FB – he’s kinda in the same boat as Valdez
Pat Venditte: 5 G, 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1.80 GB/FB
Romulo Sanchez: 7 G, 6.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 6 BB, 8 K

Juan Marcano, Jose Gil, Emerson Landoni, and Eduardo Sosa are all listed on various rosters, but haven’t gotten into a game yet.

The Puerto Rican Winter League season starts on November 12th, and the rosters haven’t been posted yet.

Yanks announce A.J., on short rest, for Game 5

Once again, the winner of the Great Beat Writers’ Race to Twitter is Joel Sherman. He is the first among the Yanks’ crew to report that A.J. Burnett will start Game 5 on three days’ rest. Burnett, dominant in Game 2, will face off against Cliff Lee tomorrow night. This start, the last of A.J.’s season, will be his first for the Yanks on short rest. He has made four career starts on three days’ rest and is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 27 innings. If both pitchers are at their best, Game 5 could be one for the ages.

Stadium open for Game 4 viewing party

Earlier this week, the Yankees announced that, weather permitting, the team will open Yankee Stadium for tonight’s Game 4 World Series match up. With blue skies above in the city and rain no longer in the forecast for Philadelphia, the team will open the turnstiles at Gates 4 and 6 at 7 p.m., and fans can watch the game on the big screen in center field from the Field Level seats or in the Great Hall. Of course, food stands and concessions will be available for all, and the Hard Rock Cafe and NYY Steak will be open as well. First pitch is at 8:20 p.m., and tonight marks the second time this postseason the Yanks have opened the stadium for a road game.

“When we opened the Stadium for Game 3 in the ALCS, the response was positive and the energy from our fans was truly infectious. They really enjoyed coming together to watch the game,” Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement this week. “Once we reached the World Series, we felt that it was the perfect time to open the Stadium again. We remain grateful for the support of the best fans in baseball.”

Open Thread: Football!

The Giants are in Philadelphia at 1pm ET in a game that mirrors the World Series, and the Jets are taking on the Dolphins at the same time. Please keep the football conversation here, so the other threads stay on topic. Thanks y’all, hope y’all enjoy the games. [/Pettitte’d]

Swisher’s new stance leads to Game Three breakout

After a dreadful three-plus weeks, Nick Swisher finally showed signs of life offensively last night, when he doubled down the line to start a rally in the fifth and tacked on another run with a solo job an inning later. Astute observers noticed that Swish had changed up his stance since we last saw him, and here’s the visual evidence to prove it:

Swish's stances
The clip on the left is from the homer at-bat in the 6th last night, the clip on the right is from his 8th inning at-bat against Scott Kazmir in Game 6 of the ALCS. You can’t see it from the still photos, but there’s less movement in his hands. You can see that he’s closed up however, which in theory gives him a better chance on pitches away.

Kenny Rosenthal notes that hitting coach Kevin Long said this is just the first step of a “major overhaul” that will continue into the offseason.

The idea, Long said, is “to eliminate movement, put yourself in better position to react to the baseball.

“Everyone knows he is a great fastball hitter,” Long continued. “They’ve been trying to off-speed him to death. When you have a lot of motion — he has a toe tap and also a long stride — pitches are tough to see, tough to react to.”

Of course, the pitch Swish hit last night for the double was a curveball down and on the inner half, but the homer came on a fastball away. Did his new closed stance allow him to reach out and tag that pitch? Maybe. Either way, let’s hope Swish keeps hitting for the next five days.

Yanks outslug Phillies for 8-5 Game 3 win

I watched tonight’s 8-5 from Blondie’s on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Surrounded by Yankee fans, we were dejected when the Yanks fell behind early, elated with the three-run 5th inning and generally clapped for every two-strike count and sang along with Frank Sinatra after Mariano Rivera induced a weak pop-up off the bat of Jimmy Rollins for out number 27. With that win tonight, the Yanks grabbed a 2-1 World Series win and become the first team to win two games against the Phillies in a playoff series since the 2007 NLDS.

For the Yanks, this one got off to a slow start. Cole Hamels seemed to have his fastball, change-up and control working. The Yanks went down in order in the first, and their only baserunners through three innings came through an A-Rod hit-by-pitch and a Jorge Posada fielder’s choice. Andy Pettitte meanwhile had his problems. He needed 51 pitches to get through three innings and found himself on the wrong end of a 3-0 game.

For Pettitte, the righties tonight were the problem. The lefties couldn’t touch him, but he had his fair share of problems getting the Phillies’ right-handed hitters out. Jayson Werth belted two no-doubters, and Pettitte walked Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded to force in a run in that awful third. But Pettitte settled down, and the Yanks’ bat showed up.

The first sign of life from the Yanks’ offense came from A-Rod in the fourth. Suffering through an 0-for-8 World Series spell, A-Rod hit a screamer down the right field line. The ball stayed fair and hit off of a camera absurdly placed above the wall in fair territory. After an instant replay review, A-Rod’s shot was ruled a home run, and the Yanks had cut the Phils’ lead to just a run.

An inning later, after Pettitte pitched around an A-Rod error, the bats showed up. Nick Swisher, coming off of a mental vacation in Game 2, doubled to left, and although Melky Cabrera struck out on a nasty pitch, Andy Pettitte hit a looper to center. Swisher was running with the hit and scored the tying run. Derek Jeter singled, and then Johnny Damon lined a two-run double into right-center field. The Yanks had a lead, and they wouldn’t give it back. After a Mark Teixeira walk, Cole Hamels would exit the game. Afterward, he would say that he “can’t wait until [2009] is over. It’s been mentally draining.”

Over the next few innings, Andy persevered. He wasn’t at his best, but he made it work. He retired the Phillies in order in the 5th, and Nick Swisher homered in the 6th. Although Jayson Werth answered with his own home run in the 6th, Andy K’d Raul Ibañez and Pedro Felix. Eric Bruntlett, batting for the first time in nearly a month, flew out to end the inning.

Over the next few innings, the Yanks would add a pair. Jorge Posada blooped a single to drive home the Yanks’ 7th run. In the 7th, Joba Chamberlain looked great retiring the top third of the Phillies’ order, and Hideki Matsui launched a pinch hit home run to give the Yanks a four-run lead. In the 8th, the real Damaso Marte showed up. He fanned Howard on a 95-mph fastball, struck out Werth and retired Ibañez on a line out.

After a quick 9th, Phil Hughes came in with a four-run lead. Pedro Felix grounded out, but Hughes threw two high fastballs to Carlos Ruiz. Chooch is a high fastball hitter, and the second fastball ended up on the wrong side of the left field wall. The Phillies had cut the lead, but the Yanks brought in Mariano. It wasn’t a save, but five pitches later, the game was over. Matt Stairs grounded out, and Jimmy Rollins, the man who predicted the Phillies would win in five games, popped out to A-Rod.

With that out, the Yanks grabbed a 2-1 lead, and they guaranteed that, at worst, the World Series will return to the Bronx. CC Sabathia will face Joe Blanton tonight at 8:20 p.m., and the Yankees are feeling pretty good right now. On Halloween, I went as a Yankee fan watching Game 3 of the World Series, and I was not disappointed.

Yanks take Game Three thanks to bats, bullpen

Our full recap will be up a little later, but for now this will have to hold you over.

Andy Pettitte wasn’t sharp early on, giving up three runs before recording six outs, but he helped himself out with a game tying RBI single while the rest of the lineup went to work against the Phillies’ pitching staff. A-Rod reached base four times, including a two-run homer, Nick Swisher doubled and homered, and Hideki Matsui even chipped in a pinch hit jack.

Pettitte battled through six, Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte worked flawless 7th and 8th innings, then Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera took care of business in the 9th. Game Four is later today, CC Sabathia on short rest vs. Joe Blanton.