Game 6: Two series, two rubber games

The Yankees will try to get back to a .667 win percentage today in their second consecutive rubber series. The first one, on Wednesday evening against the Red Sox, was quite the contest. I wouldn’t mind seeing the two pitchers, A.J. Burnett and James Shields, exchange scoreless innings for a while.

Sheilds got his third consecutive Opening Day nod this past Monday, allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks against the Orioles. Yet the only runs came from solo home runs. The Rays came back and won the game with a bottom of the ninth rally off new Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez.

During his career Shields has gotten hit hard by the Yankees, allowing 37 runs, 36 earned, over 54 innings. A lot of that comes from 2006 adn 2007, when he allowed 27 earned runs over 28.1 innings. He recovered to pitch very well against the Yanks in 2008, though that was the year their offense kinda tanked. Shields made only one start against the Yanks last year, lasting 5.1 innings and allowing five runs on nine hits, including two home runs.

Last year A.J. Burnett made his second start of the season against the Rays, and it looked a bit like Sabathia’s start yesterday. He took a no-hitter into the seventh, but lost it immediately on a Carl Crawford leadoff single. After not managing a hit for six innings the Rays started the frame with three straight. Burnett recovered, though, getting the next two before Jose Molina picked off Carlos Pena at first. Burnett finished the gem by retiring the side in order in the eighth.

During his career Burnett has faced the Rays 21 times, posting a 2.77 ERA over 149.2 innings. The majority of those innings, of course, came when the Rays were perpetually in the AL East cellar. Last year, though, he pitched 32 innings against them, allowing nine runs, seven earned, on 22 hits and nine walks. Even better, the Rays managed just one home run in that span. It’s a Burnett rarity, but his WHIP was actually below 1.00 against them. Imagine that.

With Posada back in the lineup the Yanks are at full strength. It would be nice to pick up a rubber game W before heading back for the home opener on Tuesday.


1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Johnson, DH
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Jorge Posada, C
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Nick Swisher, RF
9. Brett Gardner, LF

And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett

Sabathia steals the show as Yanks’ pound Rays

Fresh off a drubbing at the hands of the Rays last night, the Yankees returned to the field this afternoon looking to get back in the win column. Joe Girardi handed the ball off to his ace, and CC Sabathia didn’t disappoint.

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

Si Si

Forget big hits and big outs, the story of Saturday’s game is clear. Coming off an outing in which he gave up five runs in 5.1 innings, Sabathia wasn’t about to be shown up by David Price, another fire-balling lefty who dominated the Yankees Friday night for close to eight innings. Less than 24 hours later on Saturday afternoon, CC was quite literally large and in charge.

The 4th inning ended just the like the three before it, with three outs recorded and no one reaching base. It was too early to start to starting thinking about a date with perfection, but it was apparent Sabathia had it all working. Evan Longoria walked to leadoff the 5th, and it wasn’t until the 7th inning that the Rays were able to muster another baserunner.

CC absolutely dominated the Rays across seven-plus innings, taking a no-hitter into the 8th and never allowing more than one batter to reach base in any inning. Just 69 of his 111 pitches were strikes, but home plate Wally Bell had a pretty tight strike zone. Apparently he didn’t get the memo from Joe West about speeding up the game. Fourteen of those 69 strikes came when Tampa batters swung and missed, a whopping 20.3%.

Joe Maddon’s lineup was stacked with righthanders, but Sabathia mowed through them with a fastball that topped out at 96 and a changeup that shined like justice. Kelly Shoppach, CC’s former catcher in Cleveland, broke up the no-hit bid with a 0-1 single in the 8th, which prompted Joe Girardi to go and get his starter without hesitation. Sabathia had thrown 111 pitches, most of them with little or no stress, but throwing that many pitches this early in the year isn’t exactly ideal. Girardi said Shoppach was going to be CC’s last batter one way or the other, but that’s something every manager says after their starter loses a no-hitter late in the game.

If true, I think he was just taking mercy on those poor Tampa hitters. They were simply no match for the Yankee ace.

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

Biggest Hit: Robinson Cano‘s two run homer

When you win by a score of 10-0, none of the hits are really all that big. In terms of WPA, it was Robbie Cano‘s two run shot off of Wade Davis that opened the scoring in the 4th inning. We had ourselves a good old fashioned pitching duel up to that point, but once Cano went deep, the Yankees never looked back.

Frankly, the biggest hit of the afternoon didn’t even come off the bat of a Yankee. It was Shoppach’s knock that ended CC’s chance at history.

Biggest Out: B.J. Upton’s fly out

Sabathia was in control all night, and there really wasn’t a moment where a hit would have swung the momentum into Tampa’s favor. B.J. Upton flew out harmlessly to end the 5th inning with Longoria on third, which was the biggest threat the Rays could mount against the Yanks’ ace. Still, the score was 4-0 in favor of the good guys at the time.

Things that made me smile

Photo Credit: Mike Carlson, AP

How about that defense? Mark Teixeira preserved the no-no with a diving grab of Jason Bartlett’s line drive to end the 5th, then A-Rod did him one better by making a diving grab of his own on a B.J. Upton line drive in the 7th, throwing out the speedy centerfielder with a few strides to spare. That’s the moment when the no-hit talk really got serious. The team was playing superb defense behind Sabathia, which is what you need to hold a big league team to zero hits over the course of a game.

Tex and A-Rod also did some good things with the stick as well. The Yanks’ first baseman broke out of a 0-for-17 slump by picking up a trio of hits, while A-Rod picked up his 1,000th knock in pinstripes. Part of me still feels like he just got here.

And what about this Brett Gardner character? He ever so quietly went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs scored, two driven in, and his third stolen base on the season. The 27 total pitches he saw were more than any other player on the field, and he’s hitting a cool .385-.467-.385 in three starts and one appearance as a defensive replacement. Forget this Marcus Thames against lefthanders nonsense, let’s see what Brett The Jet can do with a full-time job.

Frankie Cervelli taking inside pitches. That exaggerated bend at the waist he does while throwing his open hands in the air gets me every time.

WPA Graph

Make sure you check out the individual player breakdowns at FanGraphs’ box score.

Next Up

These two teams are right back at it tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:40pm ET, and it’ll be nationally broadcast on TBS if you’re outside the NY market. A.J. Burnett will try to one up Sabathia, getting the ball against Jamie Shields. Good luck with that.

Bleich & Warren shine as Garcia gets bad news

It’s a torn elbow ligament for Chris Garcia, so that all but guarantees that he’ll have his second Tommy John surgery in the last three years. For shame. Expect the Yankees to call him up, then stick him on the 60-day DL to free up a 40-man spot. It’s just a procedural move. As an added bonus, it’ll save an option since he hasn’t been down for 20 days, but he’ll pick up a year of service time.

Meanwhile, Alan Horne is putting off shoulder surgery, and instead is going to try to rehab plus PRP route. Good luck to him.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 loss to Buffalo in 11 innings)
Kevin Russo, 2B: 1 for 5, 2 K, 1 SB
Greg Golson, CF: 0 for 5, 2 K – tough to score runs when your top two hitters combine to get on base one time all game
Juan Miranda, 1B: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1 BB – the walk was intentional
David Winfree, LF: 1 for 5, 1 R, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 5 – in case you didn’t notice, the Montero Watch is up on the sidebar … sorry for the delay
Eduardo Nunez, 3 B & Colin Curtis, RF: 3 for 5, 1 BB – Nunez doubled & K’ed … Curtis drove in a run & played his third different outfield position in the first three games of the season
Robby Hammock, DH: 1 for 3, 2 K
Reegie Corona, SS: 0 for 4, 1 K – he’s been on base once in the three games
Romulo Sanchez: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1-8 GB/FB – 47 of 86 pitches were strikes (54.7%) … I guess effectively wild would be the term to use here … love the strikeouts, but the fly balls are going to be a problem if he doesn’t get that under control
The Ghost of Kei Igawa: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3-2 GB/FB – 24 of 35 pitches were strikes (68.6%) … he was the last reliever on the staff to get into a game … no respect
Mark Melancon: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 19 of 27 pitches were strikes (70.4%) … served up a solo jack to Mike Hessman, just the tenth homer he’s given up in his three-plus year career
Jon Albaladejo: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2-3 GB/FB – 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (67.9%)

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Game 5: Turning over the rotation

The off-days have been frustrating for us, but they’re a boon for the pitching staff. Because the team didn’t play Monday and Thursday, they can skip the No. 5 starter and head right back to the top of the rotation. Heck, CC’s even getting extra rest here, five days instead of the regular four.

Meanwhile, the fifth starter, Phil Hughes, pitched in his final extended spring training outing today. I’ll spare you the stats, but everyone seems pleased enough with his performance. He’ll pitch Thursday in the series finale vs. the Angels.

Rookie Wade Davis takes the hill for the Rays. The 24-year-old will make his seventh career start. His sixth career start, incidentally, was also against the Yankees. He pitched five innings on the season’s final day, allowing five runs, three earned, on six hits and two walks while striking out five. All three came on A-Rod‘s first home run of the inning. He then allowed two more batters to reach, both of whom scored. It was on an error, though, so he wasn’t charged. This, I think, helps illustrated the absurdity of the earned run.

Posada predictably sits on a day game after a night game. Swisher leapfrogs Granderson into the No. 6 spot, and everything else looks pretty much the same. The Rays have a bit of a different look, playing Zobrist at second and Gabe Kapler in right field against the lefty Sabathia.


1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Nick Johnson, DH
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Brett Gardner, LF
9. Francisco Cervelli, C

And on the mound, number fifty-two, CC Sabathia.

In the end, City saves part of Gate 2

Three balconies similar to these will be incorporated into Heritage Field. (Photo via Demolition of Yankee Stadium)

Early last week, crews at work on the southwest side of 161st St. and River Ave. pulled down Gate 2 at old Yankee Stadium. The long-time target of historians and preservationists, Gate 2 was believed to be the oldest, untouched, original part of the 1923 Yankee Stadium still standing, and although the Yankees originally promised to include part of the old stadium in the Heritage Field park plans, the Parks Department opted not to.

When the gate came down, I thought we had lost a part of baseball history for good, but the Daily News today reports otherwise. According to Larry McShane, three original balconies from Gate 2 may be a part of Heritage Field. Two of the three sustained just minimal damage during the destruction of old Yankee Stadium last week, and the other was heavily damaged. The Parks Department, prompted by the Committee to Commemorate Old Yankee Stadium, opted to salvage them and will work to restore these historic balconies which feature terra cotta medallions of the interlocking NY.

“We are currently exploring the possibility of incorporating the balconies into our landscape plan for Heritage Field, where they could be identified as part of our overall package of interpretive elements,” Joshua Laird of the Parks Department said in a letter. “Although no final decisions have been made, we want to be clear that we will make every effort to find appropriate locations to display these items, whether within the park, or off-site at a museum.”

For baseball historians and those who feel New York City too easily discards its rich history, this move is but a small victory. When the Yanks gained original approval for the new stadium, the city’s park plans were significantly more robust. The city originally said it would use, according to a 2005 Times article, the “baseball field, the dugouts and the first level of the stands for Little League and high school use.” Now, we know that will not come to pass, but a part of old Yankee Stadium will live in after all.

Step 1: Leave Yankees. Step 2: Grow beard

The Yankees organization prides itself on class and professionalism. Whether or not it lives up to its self-image is a source of constant debate, though they do take measures to ensure that their players represent the team well. One infamous policy they’ve had in place since George Steinbrenner took over is a ban on facial hair below the lip. You wanna grow a pencil-thin mustache? Go for it. But you can forget about a fu manchu. Sal Fasano learned that first-hand.

After years of having an organization tell them what they can and cannot wear on their faces, it’s natural for former Yankees to immediately sport beards. This year’s crop of departures are no exception. Leave Yankees, grow beard. I’d do it, too.

A few of the departed Yankees rocked beards before coming to New York. Here’s Johnny Damon, who started to grow one in spring training with the Tigers, but has since shaved. Maybe the wife doesn’t like it. In any case, it would take a lot to top the beard he’s sporting in the second picture. Oh, what luck. There’s a french fry stuck in my beard.

Photo credits, left: Charlie Riedel/AP, right: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP

Chad Gaudin also rocked a beard when he pitched for the A’s, Cubs, and Padres before heading to New York. His beard is not very remarkable, which makes me sad. I wanted to include a wiseass remark with each beard.

Photo credits, left: Jeff Chiu/AP, right: Lenny Ignelzi/AP

I always forget about Brian Bruney. I’m not sure what that says about him, or me, other than I don’t miss him in the bullpen. Great potential, just couldn’t put it all together. But he can grow one mean beard, which should certainly help his future earnings potential once he can’t throw a baseball 95 mph.

Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Duane Burleson/AP

Two more bearded former Yankees never got a chance to rock the facial hair before. Take Phil Coke for instance. He spent his entire career in the Yankees’ system, so he’s always had to keep a razor nearby. Once traded t the Tigers, though, he went all out, growing a mullet, a beard, and picked up the beer gut to go along with it. He kinda looks like Rod Beck, though I’m pretty sure no one will write a song about Coke when he passes away.

Photo credits, left: Eric Gay/AP, right: AP file photo

Finally, we get to Melky. He showed up to Braves camp with a beard, but it appears he has since shaved it. That’s a shame. Melky looks slightly more badass with the beard. Slightly. Which is an improvement upon not at all. I wonder, then, why he shaved. Maybe the women don’t like it.

Photo credits, left: Rob Carr/AP, right: Darren Calabrese/AP

The only one who didn’t grow a beard, it seems, is Hideki Matsui. He should rock the Chan Ho beard this year.