The Yankees haven’t had much of a chance these last two games against the Tigers because of their pitching, the bullpen in particular. If they want to avoid the sweep this afternoon they’ll have to find a way to beat Justin Verlander, pretty much the best right-handed hitter on the planet. They’re going to need good pitching and good hitting, something they’ve been unable to do in the same game yet this year. If that streak of 13 consecutive games* with four or fewer runs — dating back to Game One of the ALDS — is going to come to an end, they’ll have to earn it. Here is 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 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner, CC Sabathia.
This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET, but the Tigers are holding a ceremony to honor Mariano Rivera, so first pitch may be delayed a bit. They’re apparently giving him something “Michigan-flavored.” Not sure what that means. Anyway, the game will be on YES. Enjoy.
Eduardo Nunez Update: Nunez (biceps) tried to hit and play catch today, but he’s still in pain and can’t do it. He’s not available to do anything more than pinch-run.
Hiroki Kuroda Update: Kuroda (finger) came through his bullpen session a few days ago just fine and he played catch today. He will indeed start against the Indians tomorrow as scheduled.
* The last time the Yankees started the season by scoring four or fewer runs in five straight games was 2008, when they did it in six straight. Last year they didn’t have their fifth game of four or fewer runs until April 25th, the 18th game of the season.
Triple-A Scranton (7-2 loss to Pawtucket)
- RF Melky Mesa: 1-4, 1 BB, 1 K
- 2B Corban Joseph: 0-5, 2 K
- CF Zoilo Almonte: 0-2, 3 BB, 1 K — six walks in the three games after drawing 25 all of last year
- 1B Luke Murton: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
- 3B Addison Maruszak: 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
- LHP Juan Cedeno: 2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 15 of 22 pitches were strikes (38%) … nice work
- RHP Mark Montgomery: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3/0 GB/FB – 17 of 24 pitches were strikes (63%)
You guys aren’t going to believe this, but the Yankees lost to Tigers on Saturday because the pitching stunk yet again. The offense wasn’t all that great either, but the pitching really stole the crap show on Saturday. Let’s recap…
- Mediocre Return: In what looked like a Major League rehab start, Phil Hughes allowed four runs (three earned) on eight hits (three for extra bases) in four innings. I guess the good news is that he didn’t walk anyone, but that’s a small consolation prize. Andy Pettitte and Adam Warren are the only pitchers on the team to throw more than five innings in an appearance this year.
- Bullpen of Doom: It’s stunning how awful the middle of this bullpen is. Boone Logan, David Phelps, and Joba Chamberlain combined to put 12 men on-base in four innings, resulting in four runs (three earned). They walked as many as they struck out (three). The relief corps own an 8.10 ERA as a whole. Bravo.
- Bad Send: The Yankees managed a double, a triple, and a homer in the second inning yet only scored one run because a) sequencing!, and b) for whatever reason Brennan Boesch was sent home on Frankie Cervelli‘s shallow fly ball to left. He was thrown out by a good ten feet. When you’re struggling to score runs, you can’t be giving away runners like that. There were no outs in the inning and Max Scherzer was giving up rockets all over the field.
- Some More Offense: The Yankees pushed across three runs in the sixth, two on Lyle Overbay‘s two-out, two-strike single to right. Overbay was the only player on the team with multiple hits, though Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells all had a hit and walk. Those guys are the only ones capable of creating runs for the team right now.
- Leftovers: Brett Gardner saved Hughes’ bacon with a sliding catch to end the third. The Tigers had men on second and third at the time … Jayson Nix bobbled the most routine of routine grounds in the first, resulting in an unearned run. He also went 0-for-3 at the plate with two strikeouts … Robinson Cano went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts, so anytime he wants to get back from the World Baseball Classic would be cool … the Yankees haven’t scored more than four runs in a game since Game One of the ALDS, 13 games ago.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some additional stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Yankees will look to avoid the sweep on Sunday afternoon when CC Sabathia squares off against Justin Verlander. In addition to a win, New York really needs some length out of Sabathia. The bullpen has thrown 17 innings in the last four days.
In what can be considered both an act of desperation and necessity, Phil Hughes has been activated off the DL and will start this afternoon against the Tigers. He was originally supposed to make one final tune-up start with Triple-A Scranton today before rejoining the rotation next week, but an overworked bullpen — 13 innings in the last three games despite Andy Pettitte‘s eight-inning start on Thursday — necessitated the addition of an extra arm. David Phelps shifts into a long-man role.
Hughes made zero Grapefruit League starts due to his bulging disk, though he did made a handful of minor league starts late in camp. By keeping him out of regular Spring Training games, the team was able to backdate his DL stint, which is why he can be activated off the 15-day DL six days into the season. These Major League rehab starts, so to speak, always make me nervous because who knows how ready the pitcher actually is. We haven’t seen Phil on a mound since Game Three of the ALCS against these same Tigers, so we’re sorta going in blind. Here’s the lineup…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- DH Travis Hafner
- LF Vernon Wells
- RF Brennan Boesch
- C Frankie Cervelli
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Jayson Nix
And on the mound is the impending free agent, St. Philip of Hughes.
This afternoon’s game is scheduled to start at 4:05pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Try to enjoy.
Roster Move: Cody Eppley was optioned to Triple-A Scranton to make room for Hughes. I figured they would send Shawn Kelley down considering he threw 43 pitches yesterday and will probably be unavailable until Sunday at the earliest, but I guess not.
Eduardo Nunez Update: Nunez is still in “a lot” pain after taking a pitch to the right biceps yesterday, but he does feel much better. He’ll try to hit in the cage today and if that goes well, he might be available to pinch-hit and pinch-run.
Derek Jeter Update: The Cap’n took about 40 ground balls hit directly at him on the field in Tampa today. He also hit off a tee and played catch, his first time doing any real baseball activity since having his setback about two weeks ago.
Via Anthony Sulla-Heffinger: Reggie Jackson is putting the jersey from his three-homer game in the 1977 World Series up for auction. The proceeds will go towards his family and his charity, the Mr. October Foundation for Kids. Reggie hit three homers on three pitches off three different Dodgers pitchers in Game Six to help clinch the team’s 21st championship.
“Give someone $100,000 and it changes lives … I collected because I was a fan, and that stuff has turned into significant value. I’ve never sold anything except my stuff, because my stuff I guess is not as important to me as some of the other things I’ve collected,” said Jackson. The jersey will sold as part of an online auction at the California-based SCP Auctions from April 10-26. Late last year Don Larsen sold his uniform from his 1956 World Series perfect game for $756k at auction. · (6) ·
When the new Yankee Stadium opened in 2009, one thing that really disappointed me was the traditional offset camera angle. A number of clubs had started using a directly behind the pitcher camera angle that, in addition to make balls and strikes easier to see, really brought a pitcher’s stuff to life. We got to see fastballs moving in ways we had never before seen on television, breaking balls were breaking both side-to-side and up-and-down, changeups fading away from hitters of the opposite hand … it’s great. The directly behind the pitcher angle gets two thumbs way up from me.
The YES Network used a traditional offset angle over the last few years — check out the gallery above and you’ll see the angle changing slightly from 2009-2012 — but this year they have it pretty close to centered behind the pitcher with the rubber and home plate nearly in line. It’s not a perfect behind the plate view like the Braves, Red Sox, Twins, or Cardinals have, but it’s far better than the traditional offset look. It allows us to see Mariano Rivera‘s cutter hook around the plate for a backdoor strike three better than ever before, for example.
So, while not much has gone right for the Yankees early this season, at least we’ve got a cool new center field camera that makes the strike zone and a pitch’s movement easier to see than ever before. I don’t think YES can raise the camera any higher to get a true in-line look — I guess they would have to put the camera on top of the concession stand in center field? — so this is probably the best we’ll get. It’s much better than the offset look in my opinion and I’m glad we got it, even if it came later rather than sooner.
Baseball America published lists of the ten youngest players in each league on Friday, with both Ramon Flores (fifth youngest) and Tyler Austin (tenth) making the Double-A Eastern League list. C Gary Sanchez (fourth) and 2B Angelo Gumbs (sixth) both make the High-A Florida State League list as well. On to the new shorter yet still informative updates…
Triple-A Scranton (9-4 loss to Pawtucket)
- 3B David Adams: 0-4, 1 BB, 3 K
- 2B Corban Joseph: 1-5
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at the plate
- CF Melky Mesa: 1-2, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 CS — better than last night’s strikeout fest
- C Austin Romine: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 K
- RHP Dellin Betances: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 44 of 72 pitches were strikes (61%) … not great, but solid
In what has become a theme early in the season, the Yankees neither pitched well nor hit well on Friday afternoon against the Tigers. The result was an 8-3 loss, the team’s third in its first four games of the year.
Although the results were mostly the same (four runs in 4.2 innings), Ivan Nova did not look like the guy we saw last year. Last season he threw a lot of strikes and gave up a ton of hard contact. On Friday it was death by a thousand cuts, meaning constant nibbling and deep counts. Of the 21 men he faced, five saw a hitter friendly 2-0 count, eight saw a full count, 12 saw at least five pitches in their at-bat, and only eight saw a first pitch strike. Nova needed 96 pitches (53 strikes) to record 14 outs.
One start, the first start of the season no less, isn’t the end of the world obviously. It sure would have been nice for Nova to come out and instill some confidence after his ugly 2012 season, but instead we’re left with the same questions and more. Was he nibbling because he was just off? Was he gun shy after getting hit so hard last year? Can he be an effective starter in the big leagues? Was the second half of 2011 a mirage? Who knows, but it’s pretty clear the team will give Ivan every chance to succeed. Too bad he hasn’t has much actually success over the last 18 months.
Death By Bullpen
I said the other day that Boone Logan scares me because of his barking elbow and last year’s workload and all that, but I guess we should add middle of the plate fastballs to that list as well. Brought in to face Prince Fielder and clean up Nova’s men on corners, two outs mess in the fifth inning, the team’s only lefty reliever left a fat two seamer up and over the heart of the plate — it was actually way up and out of the zone — that Fielder crushed for a three-run homer.
If Logan manages to retire Prince and preserves the lead, who knows what happens after that. Instead, the game was effectively over given the no-show offense. Just to make sure things were completely out of reach, de facto long-man Shawn Kelley allowed a two-run bomb to Fielder two innings later. The first dinger hit the short fence just over the yellow homer line, but the second one was a bomb that landed several rows up. Prince usually doesn’t get cheated. He worked the Yankees over on Friday.
Three Token Runs
Four games into the season, the Yankees have yet to score more than four runs in a game. It wasn’t until their 17th game of the season that they scored four or fewer runs for the fourth time last year. Yep, the days of a powerhouse offense are long gone.
The Yankees scored all three of their runs in the fifth inning, when Brett Gardner scampered home on a wild pitch before Kevin Youkilis clubbed a two-run homer to left-center, his first of the season. He’s the 69th player to homer for both the Yankees and Red Sox. The Bombers actually had plenty of chances against Detroit starter Doug Fister, putting a man on-base in all five of his innings and multiple men on-base in three of those five innings. They couldn’t touch lefty long reliever Drew Smyly though, he retired all 12 men he faced for the save. New York is very weak against southpaws right now.
Eduardo Nunez left the game in the fourth inning after taking a Fister pitch to the right biceps. The replay wasn’t all that helpful and it was unclear if the ball hit him in the arm or the chest. Given the mound of pain he was in, I was worried it got the collarbone. Thankfully, x-rays were negative and it’s just a bruise. He’s day-to-day.
Robinson Cano hit a ground ball single through the right side, a ball that would have been scooped right up by the Red Sox’s infield shift. As Mark Simon was kind enough to show with a heat map, opponents have been pounding Robbie away this year — 43 of the 59 pitches he’s seen in the four games were on the outer third or off the plate away. At some point Cano will adjust and start lacing those ball to the opposite field … I think.
Youkilis had a single in addition to the homer while Travis Hafner singled — he tried to check his swing and wound up poking the ball into shallow left — and drew a walk. Brennan Boesch also singled and made a real nice leaping catch at the wall to rob Fielder of another extra-base hit. Lyle Overbay drew a walk, Chris Stewart slapped a single back through the box, and Gardner got hit by a pitch. That’s the offense right there.
David Robertson became the final member of the Opening Day roster to appear in a game, throwing a perfect eighth inning on just four pitches. It was just a “David needs work” thing, not a “we’re still in this game so let’s keep it close” thing, unfortunately.
It’s the first FOX Saturday afternoon game of the year, so get ready for some Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. Phil Hughes will be activated off the DL to make the start with David Phelps shifting to the bullpen to help an already overworked relief corps. Max Scherzer will be on the bump for the Tigers.
6:10pm: Brian Cashman just confirmed that Hughes will indeed be activated off the DL tomorrow and start against the Tigers. He threw seven innings in his most recent minor league start.
6:08pm: Phil Hughes has been scratched from tomorrow’s scheduled rehab start with Triple-A Scranton, reports Donnie Collins. Hughes is not injured according to Collins, which is a pretty good indication he will be in Detroit for tomorrow’s game against the Tigers. Given the overworked bullpen, I’m guessing Phil will start with David Phelps shifting to a relief role. Shawn Kelley is the obvious send-down candidate. The Yankees haven’t confirmed anything as of yet. · (22) ·