Early-season games against the Orioles haven’t meant much in recent years, but Baltimore’s surprising success in 2012 and what we expect will be a tight AL East race this summer means every game against a division rival is very important. The Yankees and O’s have split the first two games of the series and you know both teams are hoping to walk away with a series win. If the Bombers are going to have any shot at contention this year, these are the games they need to win. Here’s the lineup that will face left-hander Wei-Yin Chen…
- CF Brett Gardner
- LF Vernon Wells
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- DH Ben Francisco
- RF Brennan Boesch
- C Frankie Cervelli
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Jayson Nix
And on the mound is the 2006 Nippon Pro Baseball ERA champion, Hiroki Kuroda.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a little after 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. The weather in New York is fine, just a little chilly, in case you are still weather paranoid after all the rain issues earlier this week. Enjoy the game.
The Yankees have pushed Andy Pettitte’s next start back to Friday, Joe Girardi confirmed this afternoon. Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia, and Phil Hughes will start against the Diamondbacks next week (in that order) following Monday’s off-day.
Pettitte, 40, had his last start pushed back after his back stiffened up on him last week. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session today, and Girardi confirmed the decision to push Andy back again was just an extra precaution. The Yankees could push Pettitte back one more day to Saturday if needed (Hiroki Kuroda could start Friday on normal rest), but if he can’t go on Saturday they’ll need to come up with another starter for that game. · (9) ·
- RHP Jose Campos showed “reduced stuff and an arm action that seems destined for further injuries or a role in the bullpen.” He settled at 89-92 with below-average command, pretty much the opposite of what made his such an exciting prospect a year ago. His breaking ball and changeup are still works in progress. “This was far from an ideal look,” said Law, acknowledging Campos missed basically all of last year due to injury, “but what I saw didn’t give me a ton of hope.”
- 3B Dante Bichette Jr. is “a mess on both sides of the ball,” and Law said SS Cito Culver was “running worse than I’ve ever seen from him.” 1B Greg Bird “didn’t seem to be able to pick up anything” at the plate.
- OF Yeicok Calderon has “bat speed and a strong arm, but his hands are all over the place at the plate and the Augusta pitchers blew him up with velocity.”
- LHP Evan Rutckyj sat in the 89-91 range with a “fringy changeup and a slider at 80-82 that might give him a chance in middle relief.”
Via Bryan Hoch & Ben Walker: Alex Rodriguez was recently cleared to begin running slowly on a treadmill. Obviously full speed is still a ways off. “I was not aware he was coming (to Yankee Stadium yesterday) but he was in the dugout. I talked to him, I hadn’t seen him since last homestand. He said that he’s doing more and more each day. And although it was slow he actually got on a treadmill the other day and he was pretty fired up about that,” said Joe Girardi.
Rodriguez, 37, had his left hip surgery in January and is expected to be out until at least the All-Star break, so he’s still three or so months away from returning to the lineup. Of course no one knows what to expect from A-Rod following his second hip procedure, and who knows what will come from MLB’s investigation into Biogenesis and Anthony Bosch, which has certainly taken a turn for the weird recently. Anyway, the rehab process continues. · (29) ·
According to his Twitter feed, LHP Clay Rapada threw a simulated game today. He’s still working his way back from shoulder bursitis, but he’ll join Triple-A Scranton at some point. The Yankees can’t bring him up to the big leagues until May 3rd at the earliest because the release and re-sign rules are dumb.
Meanwhile, Chien-Ming Wang threw 5.2 scoreless innings in an Extended Spring Training start today according to Ben Walker. It was his second ExST outing. I imagine he’ll join Triple-A Scranton relatively soon, maybe within two weeks.
Triple-A Scranton was rained out for the fourth consecutive game. I’ve lost track of when they’re going to make all these games up. It’ll happen eventually.
Double-A Trenton (3-0 win over Richmond)
- CF Ramon Flores: 0-3 — Slade Heathcott is going to be out for a bit with his neck issue, but it doesn’t sound like a DL thing
- RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — quietly has a hit in every game so far this season
- DH Rob Segedin, LF Neil Medchill & C Kyle Higashioka: all 2-4 — Medchill struck out once, Higashioka twice
- LHP Matt Tracy: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 48 of 87 pitches were strikes (55%), plus he picked a runner off first … much better than his nightmare first start of the season, when he didn’t make it out of the first
- RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 24 of 36 pitches were strikes (67%)
- RHP Tommy Kahnle: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine of 14 pitches were strikes
The first winning streak of the new season has come to an end, as the Orioles beat the Yankees in a mostly forgettable Saturday matinee. Unlike Friday night, there were no catastrophic dropped fly balls by Adam Jones or triple plays turned by all four infielders, it was a rather generic 5-3 loss.
Phooling No One
The Orioles pounded Phil Hughes and there was no silver lining at all. He faced 19 hitters and allowed three doubles, three homers, three singles (one off the wall), and two walks (both on four pitches). Fourteen of the 19 hitters did see a first pitch strike, but only one of his 60 pitches generated a swing and a miss (1.7%). That’s awful. Hughes had nothing working and the Baltimore hitters did a good job of making sure everyone knew. He was throwing batting practice.
At this time last year I was practically begging the Yankees to pull Phil from the rotation and stick him back in the bullpen, but they didn’t listen and were rewarded with the strong final 20-something starts to end the season. I’ve learned my lesson and won’t demand Hughes to be taken out of the rotation, but the team is in a more dire situation and can’t really wait around forever for him to figure it out. The division race figures to be very tight and every game is too important. I know he had the back trouble in camp and everything, but Phil is going to have to show some improvement and soon. These first two starts won’t cut it.
David Phelps did an excellent job of cleaning up Hughes’ mess in the fourth — inherited a runner on second with no outs, then escaped the inning with a grounder and two strikeouts — before throwing three more scoreless innings of his own to keep the Yankees in the game. He allowed two base runners (hit-by-pitch and a single, and the runner was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double) and struck out six in the four innings of work. Thirty-seven of his 55 pitches were strikes, including six swings and misses (10.9%). Couldn’t ask for much more from your long reliever.
Joba Chamberlain (one single) and David Robertson (retired all three men he faced) each tossed a scoreless inning to further give the Yankees a chance to mount a comeback. All told, the bullpen allowed just three base runners (hit batsman and two singles) with no walks and seven strikeouts in six innings of work. Rock solid and exactly what the team needed.
Not Enough Offense
The Yankees actually had more opportunities to score than I realized. A Travis Hafner solo homer and a Lyle Overbay bloop single — scoring Frankie Cervelli, who was on second base following an Orioles error — led to two runs in the second before Vernon Wells hit a solo homer in the sixth. That was New York’s three runs right there.
In their other seven innings, the Yankees put seven men on-base and stranded runners in scoring position in the third (runner on second, one out), fourth (first and second, one out), seventh (runner on second, two outs), and eighth (first and second, two outs). Their best opportunity came in the eighth, when pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch struck out against Darren O’Day while representing the go-ahead run with two outs. They had some chances but couldn’t capitalize. So it goes.
It wasn’t nearly as fun as Jorge Posada playing second base a few years ago, but Robinson Cano spent the ninth inning at shortstop after Jayson Nix was lifted for the pinch-hitter one inning earlier. It was the first time he played any position other than second base as a big leaguer and his first time playing short since 2003, when he was in Double-A. Robbie didn’t have to make any defensive plays, nor did Cervelli, who moved from catcher to second base for that one inning. That would have been fun.
Hughes allowed one run in the second inning and escaped further damage thanks to a great relay play from Ichiro Suzuki and Cano, who made a pair of quick throws to get Nate McLouth at the plate by a good ten feet for the third out. I don’t know if the third base coach sent him home of if McLouth blew through the stop sign, but it was an awful decision given how terrible Hughes was pitching.
Cano stayed hot with a single and double, and he’s now 11-for-19 (.579) with four doubles and three homers since the start of the Indians series. He’s en fuego. Wells (homer and single), Cervelli (two singles), and Overbay (two singles) all had multiple hits as well. Brett Gardner had a drag bunt single and for the first time as a Yankee, Kevin Youkilis was held hitless. Took ten games for that to happen.
Rubber game on Sunday night, the ESPN game, when Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball against Wei-Yin Chen. Kuroda had an abbreviated first start due to the line drive off his fingertips and he had the really battle through 5+ innings in his second start, so hopefully he’ll shake off any lingering effects and get back to being the guy we saw for most of last season. Check out RAB Tickets for last-minute ticket deals.
Well, the four-game winning streak was fun while it lasted. The Yankees lost a game to the Orioles this afternoon that didn’t really feel as close as it actually was — the final score was 5-3 — because Phil Hughes was awful in the first few innings. Allowing runs early is a great way to make a game feel like a blowout despite the actual score.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the night. The Rangers and Islanders and playing a huge game with enormous playoff implications, so that will be a blast. MLB Network will also air a game (teams depend on where you live), but otherwise you’re on your own for entertainment. Talk about whatever, enjoy.
Things are a little wacky this week because of the two rainouts, so it’s easy to forget the Yankees have won their last four games. They needed some major luck — dropped fly ball and a triple play, specifically — to continue that streak last night, but hey, everyone gets their fair of luck during the 162-game season. Here’s the starting nine…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- DH Travis Hafner
- LF Vernon Wells
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- C Frankie Cervelli
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Jayson Nix
And on the mound is the 23rd overall pick in the 2004 draft, Phil Hughes.
The weather will finally be a non-factor. It is gorgeous outside. It has been all day and it will be pretty much all week. Hooray for blue skies and sunshine. This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start a little after 4pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Eduardo Nunez Update: Nunez is likely to miss tomorrow’s game as well after taking a pitch to the right wrist last night. The Yankees are off on Monday, so that would give him three consecutive days off.
The Yankees and Indians will play a doubleheader on May 13th to make up the two rainouts from earlier this week, the team announced. Both teams are losing an off-day (obviously), and the Yankees will have to make a quick one-day stop in Cleveland on their way back from Kansas City before returning to New York. As a result of losing the off-day, they’ll play 17 games in 16 days. Not too bad. · (19) ·
Via Matt Ehalt: Mark Teixeira was not cleared by doctors to swing a bat on Friday as he had hoped. “[The doctor] was very happy with how it looked, how it felt,” said Tex. “He wants it to get a little stronger before I swing so the next couple of days I’m really going to ramp up the strengthening because we’re kind of going week to week with it … He wants to make sure it’s really strong enough before I swing. But all good news, just not swinging yet.”
Teixeira, 33, hoped to start swinging a fungo bat this weekend and then take batting practice within two weeks. His May 1st target return date was always on the optimistic side — the original 8-10 week estimate put him on pace for a mid-to-late-May return — so I’m not sure this changes much. Sure, it would have been great for Teixeira to start swinging a bat this weekend, but I’d rather see them be extra cautious now and reduce the risk of a setback later in the summer. Given the nature of the injury, they need to make sure he’s 100% ready for any steps going forward. · (15) ·