Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Yankees Postgame Notes after a rain shortened win in Chicago

Things are different now. The change happened early, it was impossible to miss it. It was right there on the scoreboard, in big glowing digits. A 95 mph fastball to strikeout Carlos Quentin and cap an overwhelming first inning. Walking off the mound, Phil Hughes looked over his shoulder and saw the number.

“I knew it was coming out good from the beginning,” he said. “I got some swings and misses early. I knew it was good. I happened to glance up after I got Quentin in the first inning and saw 95, and I just said, ‘Alright, I can work with this.’ This is what I normally have and what I can normally do. Once I got that confidence in the first inning, I just took that aggressive mindset and rolled with it.”

He’s been searching for consistency, and that’s been a concern. At times he’s lacked a true out pitch, and that’s caused some problems. He’s been an absolute disappointment this season, and even he knows it. But tonight was everything that there is to like about Hughes, and it’s the reason that the Yankees will most certainly think twice about bumping him from the rotation.  He is a guy that won 18 games last year and has been hyped for so long, they aren't just going to throw him to the trash. 

“We talked about trying to get him back to where he was last year, (and) today was pretty close,” Joe Girardi said. “… We have to talk about this. Maybe we stay at six-man rotation through another time. I don’t know what we’re going to do at this moment, but I’m happy with what I saw tonight, and I really liked it.”  The Yankees may be able to benefit from a six man rotation, if everyone is pitching well why change it. 

“It really didn’t even come into my mind, everything that was going on,” he said. “It was more of a personal thing for me. I wanted to pitch well. I knew I could be better than what I had been showing, and that was basically it. I wanted to satisfy myself before everybody else, and I’m pretty satisfied with this one and hopefully it’s something that will continue.”

Mark Teixeira has now homered from both sides of the plate in same game 12 times, more than anyone in baseball history. “There is a lot of failure in this game, there’s no doubt,” Teixeira said. “When you can put your name in the record books for something like this? Being a switch hitter is very tough, and this was a nice night for me.”  It is a nice thing for him, to say you are the leader in any category is an accomplishment.

 Teixeira also became the fourth Yankee to hit 30 home runs in each of his first three seasons with the Yankees, joining Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Alex Rodriguez. Yes those are some big names he has joined.

Hughes said coming into this game that he wanted to be more aggressive with his fastball, but he said he didn’t necessarily mean to throw nothing but fastballs in the first inning. It just kind of happened that way. “I threw a couple of fastballs in to Pierre and Vizquel, and then I was aggressive with Quentin,” he said. “That’s just the way it went.”

As much as the velocity obviously stands out — Hughes still hit 94 in the fourth inning — Hughes immediately answered “location of my fastball” when asked what made the biggest difference tonight. It always comes down to command, doesn’t it?

 One last Hughes note on velocity: “I’ve always been a guy where I let it all go,” he said. “Whenever it starts to decline, it declines. I felt like it was still good enough later on. I wasn’t really checking the scoreboard, but I was just trying to execute pitches and I got a lot of early outs in those middle innings.”

The Yankees did score six runs in seven innings tonight, so the offense wasn’t exactly slumping. They’ve won five straight and nine of their past 12, and they’re 24-9 against left-handed starters this season.

 Russell Martin homered for the first time since June 29. This was his first road home run since April 23 in Baltimore.  He has really tailed off offensively but has been such a good catcher defensively and the way he handles the pitching staff.  He shows a lot of toughness, he is in the mold of Thurman Munson.  I can't see the Yankees not bringing him back to be their catcher and help tutor the young guys like Jesus Montero and Austin Romine who will be behind him trying to take the job and battle for the backup position.

 Other than Teixeira, who had three hits, the only other Yankee with multiple hits was Derek Jeter who singled and doubled in his first two at-bats. Brett Gardner was the only Yankees starter without a hit.

 Even though it was a rain-shortened game, all stats count, even the ones from the top of the seventh inning. The game was delayed 45 minutes at the start, then delayed another 57 minutes before it was called.

 A final word from Hughes: “If I could have picked a way that I wanted to pitch, this would be it.”  He has obviously been bothered and frustrated by the way this year has gone.  The thing is he can redeem himself now, if he pitches well down the stretch and into the postseason all will be forgotten about the rest of the season up to this point.
Here are some notes before the Yankees game on Tuesday night.  Girardi talked a lot about Phil Hughes and now that he did pitch well it makes things easier I suspect for the Yankees.  They would rather have to deal with sending Nova down then an ineffective Hughes and not knowing what to do with him. 
“There’s a lot of things we gotta talk about,” Girardi said. “The best thing that could happen is that he pitches really well, and then we have a tough decision to make in what we’re going to do. There are some different scenarios. (Ivan) Nova really hasn’t pitched out of the bullpen as much, and we’re going to need a starter August 27 when we go to Baltimore, so you want someone built up. There are some things after today and tomorrow we’re going to have to talk about.”

Hughes has been hit-and-miss since he came off the disabled list. He’s had one really good start, one really bad start, and two so-so starts full of ups and downs. Nova was very good in his return from Triple-A, and he’ll get another start on Thursday to further plead his case.

When the Yankees cut their rotation down to five starters, the most obvious changes would involved Hughes to the bullpen or Nova back to Triple-A. Girardi hasn’t said those are his top options, but he does talk a lot about Hughes’ bullpen experience and the Yankees desire to have someone stretched out for that Baltimore double header.

“What I am saying is that you gotta have someone built up,” Girardi said. “Maybe it’s not even someone here to make that start on the 27th. We’re going to do what’s best for everyone involved, what we think is best for people’s futures, what’s best for this team now, and what’s best for this team in the future. I’m not saying one of them would necessarily go down.”  Adam Warren would be another guy the Yankees could give a look at. 

Basically, anything is possible. Both Hughes and Nova seem to know and accept that.

“I thought (Hughes) made some progress his last start,” Girardi said. “But I think his stuff can even get better. He can give us more distance. His curveball wasn’t as sharp in his last start. CC’s slider wasn’t as sharp (last night) as it’s been, but when it’s Phil, we gotta get this guy on a roll, too. He’s had his struggles this year, so more red flags go up. His curveball wasn’t as sharp and we gotta get that going… It’s something that we have to talk about. You watch how he throws tonight, and you just have to talk about it and decide what’s best for everyone involved.”

 Has this rotation situation gotten in Hughes’ head? “I haven’t really noticed it,” Girardi said. “But we pay attention to it if a guy’s trying to do something out there. I haven’t really noticed it.”

 Has it been tough to get Rafael Soriano innings since he came back? “It hasn’t been tough,” Girardi said. “We had him in on Saturday. It would be a good thing if we needed him tonight. It hasn’t really been tough… We still want to continue to develop the arm strength, he’s had five appearances (counting rehab), but I think more would be beneficial for him.”

Alex Rodriguez is still on schedule to begin rehab work on Thursday.  He should be back in about two weeks. 

 It seems clear that Brett Gardner has lost platoon status and is now playing pretty much every day regardless of lefty/righty. “It is hard to take him out,” Girardi said. “Even on those days (when he used to sit), I didn’t necessarly want, to but I wanted to get Andruw going and I thought that was the best way to do it.

 Manny Banuelos makes his Triple-A debut tonight, and obviously the Yankees will be paying attention. “We’re looking at anyone and everyone who we feel can help us down this last 50 games or whatever we have left,” Girardi said.  Banuelos pitched five innings giving up two runs.  He walked three and struck out eight.  He threw too many pitches in five innings and he has to work on the walks but he showed promise.  It was a good first start for him in AAA. 

The Yankees win in a rain shortened game

By Gary W. Marchese Jr.

Chicago,IL(August 2)-The New York Yankees defeated the Chicago White Sox by the score of 6-0. It was a 6 ½ inning rain shortened game. Phil Hughes started and pitched his best game of the season. It was a big start for him as he is competing for his job with Ivan Nova who will start on Thursday. The offense was led by Mark Teixeira who had two homeruns, one from each side of the plate. Teixeira set a record for most homeruns from both sides of the plate in the same guy.

Hughes pitched six innings giving up three hits and no runs. He walked none and struck out four. It would have been interesting to see how long he would of gone, his pitch count was low. Hughes picked up the win to move to 2-3 on the season. John Danks started for the White Sox and he pitched six innings giving up nine hits and four runs.

Derek Jeter had two hits, Curtis Granderson had a hit and a walk and Mark Teixeira had three hits and three RBI. Robinson Cano had a hit, walk and an RBI, Nick Swisher had a hit and a walk Andruw Jones had a hit and an RBI. Russell Martin had a hit and an RBI. Eduardo Nunez had a hit. Cano and Jeter each had doubles. Martin had a homerun and Teixeira had two homeruns. The Yankees were 3-9 with runners in scoring position and they left seven men on base. Teixeira, Cano and Granderson each had a stolen base.

The Yankees have won their second in a row in Chicago. They are a season high 24 games over 500 and in second place in the AL East. They are one game behind the first place Boston Red Sox and seven games ahead of the Anaheim Angels for the wildcard. Hughes showed the stuff that led him to win 18 games last season. Hughes was fighting for his job and for now he came out on top. Ivan Nova will start on Thursday and we will see if he can match Hughes. One important aspect to remember is that Nova does have options and can be sent down, Hughes can not be. The Yankees and White Sox will play game three of their four game series on Wednesday night.

Mets are unable to solve the Marlins as they lose their fourth straight

The New York Mets were defeated by the Florida Marlins by the score of 4-3 on Tuesday night. Chris Capuano made the start and pitched well, Jason Isringhausen for the second night in a row blew the save and he took the loss. The offense continues to struggle at home as well as the Mets as a whole.
Capuano pitched six innings giving up four hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out five. Manny Acosta pitched an inning giving up a hit and Isringhausen pitched an inning giving up a hit and two runs with one of them being earned. He walked one and struck out one, Isringhausen saw his record drop to 2-2.

Jose Reyes had a hit and an RBI, Justin Turner had a hit and David Wright had an RBI. Scott Hairston had two hits, Jason Bay had a hit and a walk and Angel Pagan had two hits. Lucas Duda had a hit and an RBI, Ronny Paulino had a walk and Capuano had a hit. Turner had a double, Reyes had a homerun. The Mets were 0-6 with runners in scoring position and they left six men on base. Pagan had a stolen base and Hairston was caught stealing. Turner made a throwing error and Nickeas had a passed ball.

In the first inning the Marlins took a 1-0 lead on a solo homerun by Omar Infante. In the bottom of the third inning Reyes hit a solo homerun to tie the game at one. In the fifth inning Infante hit another solo homerun to make it 2-1 Marlins. Wright hit a groundout in the fifth inning to tie the game at two. In the sixth inning Duda hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2 Mets. The Marlins scored and won the game in the ninth on an error. Bryan Peterson reached on a throwing error by Turner allowing two runs to score and making it a 4-3 game and the Marlins would win by that score.

The Mets are back at the 500 mark after losing four in a row. The Mets are owned by the Marlins, they never seem to beat them. The Mets also aren’t very good at Citi Field. They have played very well on the road this season but can’t get it together at home. The Mets in the last three nights have had very painful losses. It seems that they always find a new way to lose and they need to end that soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Mets lose a tough one in Washington

The New York Mets were defeated by the Washington Nationals by the score of 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. Jon Niese made the start and pitched pretty well but he didn’t go deep into the game. The bullpen did a good job except for Bobby Parnell who took the loss in the game. The Mets offense pretty much came from three players and it wasn’t good enough. The Mets have struggled with Washington in recent years and this weekend was no different.
Niese pitched 5 1/3 innings giving up eight hits and two runs, he didn’t walk a batter and struck out six. Ryota Igarashi pitched 2/3 of an inning and struck out both guys he faced, Pedro Beato pitched 1 2/3 innings giving up one hit and one walk, he also struck out a batter and Tim Byrdak struck out the only batter that he faced. Parnell took the loss dropping his record to 3-3. He pitched 1/3 of an inning giving up two hits and a run.

Jose Reyes had two hits, Willie Harris had a hit and Daniel Murphy had two hits. David Wright had a hit, Scott Hairston had two hits and two RBI and Niese had a walk. Hairston had a homerun. The Mets were 1-5 with runners in scoring position and they left six men on base. Reyes and Harris were both caught stealing.

In the bottom of the sixth the first runs were scored by the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman had an RBI double and Michael Morse had an RBI double. In the seventh inning Hairston hit a solo homerun to bring the Mets within one run. The score was 2-1 Mets and Hairston homered again in the ninth to tie the game at two. Ian Desmond had an RBI single in the ninth to make the Nationals walk off winners 3-2.

The Mets lost two out of three in the series. The Mets won on Friday night and then have lost two straight on Saturday and Sunday. The Mets record is 55-53 and the Nationals are 51-56. The Mets had a really good road trip but they would of liked to end it with a win. The Mets did not make any more deals at the deadline and the team they have is the one that will finish the season. They are 7 ½ games out of a playoff spot and manager Terry Collins planned on addressing the team on the flight home. The Mets will begin a homestand on Monday night against the Florida Marlins. They will also take on the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres. It is a big ten game homestand for them especially the three against the Braves who lead the wild card chase.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yankees notes on a long day

Here are some notes from the games today, it was a long day at the ballpark but all worth it for the Yankees who managed to win both games.  The second game was over before it started as the Yankees scored 12 runs in the first inning. 

Nick Swisher will be the DH in the second game and will come in on a .336 roll with 32 RBI over his last 38 games. He went 3 for 4 in the 8-3 win in the first game, including a two-run homer. He’s up to .266 overall. His slow start is a distant memory.  He got three more hits in the second game capping his great day with six hits overall.  He had another homerun also, I don't think he will get to 29 again this year but he may come pretty close. 

“It’s so funny,” Swisher said. “People are like, ‘What are you doing differently?’ I don’t know, man. I just feel like I’m trying to be myself again, man. I’m just trying to go out there and compete every single day. I don’t feel like there’s anything specific; I think (it’s) more mental than anything. But either way, I like where I’m sitting right now.”

The bottom five in the order — Swisher, Eric Chavez, Jorge Posada, Chris Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli — went 10 for 19 with six runs scored, two doubles, one homer and six RBI.  In the second game everyone just flat out hit. 

“We expect all our guys to hit, but it seemed like the bottom of the order did a ton of damage today — Chavez, Posada, Dickerson and Cervi,” Joe Girardi said. “They had big days today and were on base a lot and drove in a lot of runs for us. Those contributions are extremely important because it can’t always be the guys in the middle. You get a big day from Swish, too, which is great. So it’s always nice when everyone is contributing.”

Girardi said he didn’t know what to expect when Chavez returned Monday. But after seeing him go 2 for 4 in the opener, Girardi said, “He looks pretty good to me.” Chavez told me after the game that his injury wasn’t as much a fractured left foot as it was a bone separation. He has had a good year when he has played this year.  If he can stay healthy he can be a huge plus for the team as he is also very good defensively.  He is a six time gold glover a third base.  His problem has always been that he can't stay on the field. 

Bartolo Colon didn’t have his good two-seamer and didn’t provide as much distance as usual, but he only gave up two runs in five innings. Colon, by the way, is now 4-0 with a 1.32 ERA with Cervelli behind the plate.  Cervelli is also on a run with CC Sabathia, I guess this is why he has stayed as the backup catcher when Jesus Montero is starting to tear up AAA. 

“I think on a day when he didn’t have his ‘A’ stuff, he limited the damage and got us a win that we needed,” Girardi said.

Cory Wade continues to provide a boost out of the bullpen. His ERA is at 2.08 over 15 outings after giving up one run and two hits over three innings.  If they can get Soriano back and pitching like he did last year that would also be a huge boost.  Soriano looked great in the second game.  He pitched only his second 1-2-3 inning of the season, the other one was on Opening Day. 

The Yankees will try and win the series tomorrow with Freddy Garcia pitching against Chris Tillman.  The Yankees will try to wrap up the homestand with a 7-3 record and three straight wins over the Orioles to win the series.  They won the first two series of the homestand over the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners. 

The Yankees are two games behind the Boston Red Sox but five games up on the Anaheim Angels.  They are seven up in the loss column.

The Yankees play two and they win two over the Orioles

The New York Yankees defeated the Baltimore Orioles twice on Saturday. They beat them once Saturday afternoon and then again on Saturday night. It was a really good day for the Yankees offense as they won 8-3 and 17-3. Bartolo Colon started the first game and he labored through it but he was able to pick up the win. The bullpen did a good job also in the first game with four innings of work. The offense was paced by Nick Swisher who had three hits. The bottom of the order did all the damage with Chris Dickerson, Eric Chavez and Francisco Cervelli all having good games. In the night cap it was over before it started as the Yankees set a franchise record with 12 runs in the first inning. Ivan Nova started after about a month of being in the minors due to Phil Hughes rejoining the team. Nova even though he was spotted to a big lead looked good. He pitched seven strong innings.
Colon pitched five innings giving up five hits and two runs. He picked up his eighth win of the season. He walked two and struck out six. Cory Wade pitched three innings giving up two hits and one run and he struck out two and Boone Logan pitched an inning giving up two hits and he struck out a batter. In the night game Nova pitched seven innings giving up six hits and two runs. He walked one and struck out six. Nova earned his ninth win of the season and his ERA stands at 4.01. Luis Ayala pitched an inning giving up three hits and one run and Rafael Soriano made his return with a perfect inning and two strikeouts.

In the first game Brett Gardner had a hit and two RBI, Robinson Cano had a walk and Swisher had three hits and two RBI. Chavez had two hits and an RBI, Jorge Posada had a hit and an RBI and Dickerson had two hits and an RBI. Cervelli had two hits an RBI and a walk. Cervelli and Swisher had doubles and Swisher had a homerun. The Yankees were 4-9 with runners in scoring position and they left six men on base. Dickerson had a stolen base. Nunez made a throwing error which was his 14th error of the season.

In the second game there were plenty of offensive heroes. Derek Jeter had two hits and two RBI, Curtis Granderson had four hits and Mark Teixeira had three hits, two RBI and a walk. Robinson Cano had five hits and five RBI, Swisher had three hits and three RBI to continue his great day and Andruw Jones had two hits, two RBI and a walk. Russell Martin had two hits, an RBI and a walk, Nunez had two hits and an RBI and Gardner had a hit, RBI and a walk. Jones, Teixeira, Cano, Martin and Granderson each had a double. Nunez had a triple and Swisher and Jones had homeruns. The Yankees were 12-25 with runners in scoring position and they left 11 men on base.

The Yankees scored 12 runs in the first game which is the highest single total in an inning of the season. It was also the most they have ever scored in an inning. Nova pitched well and it will be interesting to see what the Yankees do now. It looks like for now they will have them both make a start next week and push back Colon and Garcia a day to give them extra rest. The Yankees are currently two games behind the AL East leading Boston Red Sox. They are five games ahead of the Anaheim Angels for the wild card and seven games ahead in the loss column.

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