Yanks overcome walks, errors to finish sweep of Twins

Today’s game was not easy to watch. Those of you who missed it while at work were spared some frustration. The Yankees threw 151 pitches and the Twins tossed 164, and the teams combined for six mid-inning pitching changes. That’s a lot to cram into three hours and 18 minutes. Add in the Yanks committing two costly errors, walking in two runs, and using six pitchers, and it seems like a game they should have lost. In the end, the bats were able to overcome some sloppy play and the Yanks took their Metrodome finale, completing the season sweep of the Twins 6-4.

Al Aceves, making his first big league start since September of last year, didn’t pitch as well as many had hoped. He wasn’t terrible, especially for a guy making his first start since April. Trouble in the second inning upped his pitch count, and trouble in the fourth spelled his exit. He had allowed just one earned run at the time — an inexcusable down the middle fastball to Jason Kubel on an 0-2 pitch — but David Robertson walked in two more, leaving Ace with a line of 3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Even the unearned run was partially his fault.

The Yankees executed a series of follies in the second inning which really led to both runs. The first was the aforementioned 0-2 pitch to Kubel. I’m sure Ace wasn’t trying to groove a fastball there, but he did and a hitter like Kubel is going to be all over that. It went out to dead center and cut the Yankees lead to 3-1. Folly No. 1. The second came two batters later. After a five-pitch walk of Mike Cuddyer, Ace threw over to first. He missed by a mile, moving Cuddyer to second. Folly No. 2.

While Folly No. 1 was frustrating and Folly No. 2 was annoying, Folly No. 3 was downright infuriating. The best you can say about Mike Redmond’s running is that he’s faster than Jose Molina. Yeah. He hit one hard to third, and the ball hit the seam. Cody Ransom stayed with it, though, corralling it with plenty of time to make an accurate throw. He pulled it, though, sending it wide of Teixeira at first and allowing Cuddyer to score. Despite missing two months, it was Ransom’s fourth error this season.

David Robertson committed Follies Nos. 4 and 5, which were even more infuriating than No. 3. He came into the game with the bases loaded, never an enviable task for any reliever, let alone a rookie. After avoiding the walk of Nick Punto, an affliction from which many Yankees pitchers have suffered this series, he put Span on first with four straight balls. 5-3 Yanks. Five pitches later, Matt Tolbert would take his base. Not only did this plate the fourth Twins run, but it brought up Joe Mauer with the bases loaded. How Robertson got him to ground out after being behind 2-0 is beyond me. I tried not to think about it too much, opting to wipe my brow and send thanks to the baseball gods.

Meanwhile, with the bullpen responsible for the remaining five innings, the Yanks could have used some more runs. A 5-4 lead just didn’t feel safe, not with Albaladejo in the pen in place of Aceves. Mark Teixeira was the only one who could deliver, sending a solo blast into the left field seats, ending his drought and the annoying comments about it being X at bats since he last homered. As of this writing, it has been one at bat since Mark Teixeira homered. Who’s counting with me?

Oddly enough, Girardi opted to stick with Robertson for the fifth. It seemed a curious move, sending out Robertson, who had just walked in two runs, to face the number four, five, and six hitters in the Twins’ order. He surprised by striking out Justin Morneau on three pitches, but got back to his inaccurate ways by walking Kubel on five. Finally Girardi had seen enough and called on Jon Albaladejo to get the last two in the fifth, and presumably all of the sixth. He delivered, striking out Cuddyer and Redmond, and then sitting down the Twins 1-2-3 in the sixth. With Coke and Hughes up and ready, the prospects of the bullpen finishing the game got a bit better.

They got a ton better when Coke shook off a leadoff bunt single by Joe Mauer to get Justin Morneau to ground out on the first pitch. He then struck out Kubel on just three. That’s five pitches, five strikes for Coke. He might have struggled with his command early on, but lately Coke has done nothing but work quickly and throw strikes. Coke’s last five appearances: 3 pitches, 2 strikes; 24 pitches, 16 strikes; 6 pitches, 4 strikes; 7 pitches, 4 strikes; 5 pitches, 5 strikes. He has allowed just one hit in that span and has walked none.

Phil Hughes again was Phil Hughes. He continued attacking hitters, a lesson we can only hope he takes with him when he eventually returns to the rotation. That was one of the frustrating things about watching him last year and even parts of this year. He’d try to hit corners, and when he didn’t he looked lost. From the bullpen he’s constantly getting ahead of guys, throwing strikes and letting them take hacks if they want. Most of the time their efforts are futile. In the eighth (after a gift out by Justin Morneau, gift-wrapped by Jorge Posada) he got ahead of all three hitters he faced, striking out the last two. The only semi-blip was against Jose Morales, but after going up 0-2 I think it was more Hughes trying to get out an inexperienced hitter with some junk pitches. In the end Hughes got him with ol’ number one, a 95 mph fastball up that Morales had no chance of reaching.

On the offensive side, the Yankees again got production from the bottom of the order. Cody Ransom walked with the bases loaded and drove in a run with a single. Brett Gardner bounced into a fielder’s choice that allowed a run to score and singled on a poorly placed Liriano changeup. The only other runs came on a Derek Jeter single to center, a bloop on the first pitch during Liriano’s long second inning, and the aforementioned Teixeira bomb. Those six runs ended up being enough for the staff, and the Twins’ four runs meant yet another save for Mariano Rivera.

The Yanks will now fly out to Anaheim to wrap up the first half of the season. Don’t be scared, though. While the Yankees haven’t fared well against the Angels in years past, this is just not the same team. They’re good, no doubt, but they’re just not as intimidating as even last year. They’ll face Jered Weaver, the only consistently good pitcher in the Angels rotation, sandwiched between struggling pitchers Joe Saunders and John Lackey. Taking two out of three would be a wonderful way to finish up before the break.

No action until 10:00 tomorrow night, so it’s time to relax. And you know what that means: A glass of wine, your favorite easy chair, and of course this open thread playing on your home Internet machine. So go on, indulge yourself. That’s right. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up, lean back and just enjoy the comments. After all, baseball soothes even the savage beast.

Tomko up; Robertson down

According to PeteAbe, the Yanks have made another roster move today. The purchased the contract of Brett Tomko from AAA and optioned down David Robertson. Because Tomko isn’t on the 40-man roster, the team will have to make another move today. It hasn’t been announced yet, and I’ll update this post when it is.

I guess the team made this move for depth, but I don’t see why. Tomko had been pitching well at AAA, but he’s 36 with a career ERA+ of 92 and a WHIP of 1.374. The Yanks could use him as a long man, but Al Aceves did an admirable job earlier this week. Robertson had made five appearances for the Yanks. In 4.2 innings, he had allowed two earned runs on four hits and four walks while striking out seven.

Update 6:35 p.m.: Eric Hacker has been DFA’d. Ian Kennedy can’t be put on the 60-day DL because he was not on the Major League roster when he was disabled.

Berroa, Robertson hop on the Scranton shuttle (Update: Melancon too)

Chad Jennings reported a short time ago that Angel Berroa and David Robertson have been summoned to Boston for tonight’s game. Berroa will replace Cody Ransom on the roster, and his call up requires a corresponding 40-man move. We’ll update this post as soon as the Yankees announce it. Robertson replaces Chien-Ming Wang on the 25-man, and either he or Steven Jackson will be sent down on Tuesday when the Yanks call up what I am guessing will be Phil Hughes to make a start.

I wonder if the Yanks considered Eric Duncan for this move as well. While Duncan is no longer considered much of a prospect, he’s hitting .326/.400/.419 in the early going. The Yanks would have had nothing left to lose, and Berroa, 31, is what he is. On the flip side, with Ransom out, by summoning Berroa now, the Yanks can send Ramiro Peña back to the minors when A-Rod is activated in May.

Update 11:37 a.m.: Here’s a great useless number: Angel Berroa has played a grand total of 0.1 innings at third base in his career. It came in this game, and Berroa did not need to field a single baseball. My mini-case for Eric Duncan just grew stronger.

Update by Mike (11:54am): Word from Scranton is that Mark Melancon is also heading to Fenway. Sounds like they found something in Bruney’s MRI this morning. The team will need to make a 40-man move for him as well as Berroa now. We’ll keep you posted.

Wang, Ransom hit the DL

We’ve got a couple of roster moves late tonight via the postgame. Chien-Ming Wang has been placed on the DL following an appointment with the team’s rehab specialist in Tampa, and has been replaced on the roster with David Robertson. Cody Ransom pulled his quad in the later innings of tonight’s game and has also been placed on the DL, but no word on his replacement yet. I’m guessing they’ll end up DFAing someone (coughHumbertoSanchezcough) so they can add Angel Berroa to the 40-man and have another infielder available.

Brian Bruney is also on the shelf, having been sent back to New York to have his elbow checked out tomorrow morning. That sucks.

Update (12:33am): The official word on Wang is “weakness in his hips,” which will require just physical rehabilitation. Phil Hughes is the far too obvious candidate to replace him in the rotation, and me thinks he’ll make at least four starts in Wang’s place.

Ransom has some sort of tear in his quad and that could be kinda serious, so he may end up missing a good chunk of time. Bruney wasn’t worried about his elbow and didn’t want to see a doctor, but the team ordered him too. There’s a chance he’ll be back with the team in time for tomorrow’s game.

Yanks recall Miranda

Via Marc Carig, the Yanks have recalled 1B Juan Miranda, putting David Robertson on the Chris Britton Memorial Shuttle back to Scranton. Miranda makes the most sense as a replacement for Xavier Nady right now, because he can backup Mark Texiera at first while keeping Nick Swisher in the outfield. He’s also a nice bat off the bench, but he won’t help much agaisnt southpaws. Carig also notes that Tex feels “ten times better” following yesterday’s cortisone shot, but that Hideki Matsui has fluid in his left knee that will need to be drained.

CC Sabathia in action

NoMaas has a clip of CC Sabathia from last night’s game, showing the big guy striking out a helpless Ryan Raburn to start the game. I haven’t figured out a way to direct link to their post or the video (lame), so make sure you head on over and check it out before it gets buried on the main page. They’ve also got a clip of David Robertson getting a little towel work in. Check it out.

Open Thread: 100 Names You Need To Know

priceUSA Today ran an article today that basically amounts to 100 young players you need to know for 2009. David Price predictably topped the list, and was followed by Travis Snider of the Jays and Chris Davis of the Rangers. Three Yankees made the list:

35. Brett Gardner, OF, Yankees: Right now, Gardner is stuck in a five-man logjam in the Yankees outfield. Things could clear up for him (a trade of Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher, further club dissatisfaction with Melky Cabrera) or get more crowded (Jorge Posada forced to DH, pushing Hideki Matsui into the outfield mix). Gardner, 25, gives the Yankees a needed burst of speed (he stole 13 bases in 14 tries) and does the little things well, but will need to hit more — maybe a lot more — to get playing time.

84. Austin Jackson, OF, Yankees: The weak link in the Yankees’ lineup, at least offensively, is center field, where either Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera is likely to be on opening day. By some point later in the season, it’s not an unrealistic scenario that Jackson, 22, could be there. He is speedy with the ability to hit for average like Gardner but has more power. Cabrera can do similar things as Jackson offensively but slumped terribly at the plate last year. If Cabrera slumps again, Jackson will be a call away in Class AAA.

97. David Robertson, RHP, Yankees: Robertson, 23, emerged as a steady big-league bullpen option, then hit the wall with an 8.18 August ERA and was sent back to Class AAA. He throws hard enough to be a factor again this season, if not immediately.

These lists are very tough to put together, because you’re not ranking guys based on who’s the best player or prospect, you’re ranking them based on who will have the biggest impact in the big leagues this year. That said, David Murphy (#11) over Colby Rasmus (#12) is laughable.

Couple other quick comments: Clayton Richard (#17) is way too high, Tommy Hanson too low (#34), and JA Happ (#95) extremely too low. I’d have Happ in the top 25, ditto Hanson. I love me some Jason Motte too (#25), dude had 126 strikeouts in 76.2 IP between Triple-A and the bigs last year. And I’m sorry, if you’re going to include guys like Jess Todd, (#44) Adam Miller (#45), Scott Elbert (#50), and Phillippe Aumont (#72), then you have to include Mark Melancon. That’s just crazy.

Anywho, there’s your open thread for the night. The Nets are in D.C., and the Knicks are getting visit from LeBron. Anything goes, just be nice.

Photo Credit: Al Tielemans, SI