April 2009

Athletics vs. Yankees: Starting lineups 4/22/09

YANKEES (8-6)
yankees.jpgDerek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Hideki Matsui DH
Melky Cabrera CF
Cody Ransom 3B

CC Sabathia P

ATHLETICS (5-8)
athletics.jpgRyan Sweeney CF
Orlando Cabrera SS
Jason Giambi DH
Matt Holliday LF
Jack Cust RF
Kurt Suzuki C
Mark Ellis 2B
Landon Powell 1B
Bobby Crosby 3B

Brett Anderson P

Live from the Bronx

By Jon Lane
Good Wednesday morning from the Bronx Majal. I can’t take credit for that one. My dot com colleague Chris Shearn is holding a nickname contest for the new Yankee Stadium. The top five choices will be narrowed down into a poll that will be decided by you, our readers.

Skies are overcast at the moment and while the sun has tried to break through, the forecast is calling for a few showers that will become steady in the afternoon. Chance of rain is 70 percent with rainfall expected to be near a quarter of an inch. That means there’s a 70 percent chance we’ll be in a rain delay and this will be the “I Hate Rain” version of the YES Blog.

For now, it’s down to the clubhouse to being reporting on the news of the day coming off a 5-3 win over the A’s. It’s CC Sabathia against highly-touted prospect Brett Anderson. I’ll be back later with lineups along with news and nuggets. Shearn and Joe Auriemma are also here to conduct exclusive interviews, including Joe’s one-on-one conversation with manager Joe Girardi.

11:03 a.m.
Today’s lineups

11:30 a.m.
A few quick hits

  • Brett Gardner gets the day off. Melky Cabrera hasn’t had a plate appearance since Saturday and Joe Girardi is playing the percentages. A’s starter Brett Anderson has held lefties to a .211 batting average and Gardner is batting .171 against left-handed pitching.

  • The Yankees are keeping a close eye on Hideki Matsui’s ailing knees. Yet Matsui’s bat has showed signs of life since his left knee was drained last Thursday. Yesterday was his first multi-hit game of the season (2-for-3 with a double) and he has seven hits in his last 18 at-bats (.389).

  • Chien-Ming Wang leaves for Tampa this afternoon for his extended spring game tomorrow morning and will re-join the Yankees Friday in Boston. He’ll throw under the supervision of Minor League pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Mark Newman and other personnel. Whether Wang starts next week in Detroit will be determined after the game based on his performance.

“The bottom line is we get him right,” Girardi said. “Once we get him right we think he’ll be very effective for us.”

Already saddled with that 34.50 ERA, Wang’s career ERA at Fenway Park is 5.11. But he would have been skipped regardless of the opponent.

“This was pretty much made up because we thought he just needed to work on his stuff, not so much who we’re playing,” Girardi said. “He’s really struggled. We need to get his sinker to where it’s more consistent. We felt under a controlled setting it might be a little easier in a sense to get it going.”

Girardi added that Wang’s bullpen session yesterday was the best he’s had. It has to carry over to the game and since Wang and the Yankees continue to insist he’s healthy, the problem here is mental. Something is consuming the normally unflappable Wang once he’s on the mound and a solution needs to be unlocked – now.

  • Nick Swisher will ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange tomorrow morning at 9:30. Swisher, who has reached base safely in all 14 games in which he has appeared, was again a media favorite this morning. Friday, like Mark Texieira and A.J. Burnett, Swisher will be participating in his first Yankees-Red Sox game. “What’s the point of asking about it?” Swisher said in response to whether he’ll seek advice from veteran Yankees on handling what’s certainly a different animal. “I’m going to experience it in 48 hours. The biggest thing is trying to keep your emotions low. And me being somewhat of a shy guy … being pretty rambuctious, that’s going to be key for me.”

  • During an otherwise quiet pregame, I got plenty of material for a Red Sox series preview I’ll be penning tomorrow, including exclusive interviews with Gardner and Joba Chamberlain. Joba starts Friday night against Jon Lester. The last time he was on Fenway’s mound was last July 25, when he pitched seven shutout innings to defeat Josh Beckett and the Red Sox, 1-0.

Back with ongoing commentary – rain or no rain.

1:24 p.m.
No score after one under a light drizzle; CC Sabathia caught Jason Giambi looking at strike three to retire the A’s in order to start the game.
 
Speaking of weather, a makeup date for Monday’s rainout has been announced: Thursday, July 23. The Yankees lose an off day, the A’s a travel day and that becomes a four-game series. Other alternatives were a double-header on July 23 or playing here tomorrow afternoon. The Yankees travel to Boston and the A’s to Tampa, so it’s not like they have to fly across the country.

1:34 p.m.
Kurt Suzuki’s three-run home run is being looked at by instant replay. The sets here are showing a fan reached over the left field wall and prevented an opportunity for Johnny Damon to make the catch. Obviously nobody has learned from Steve Bartman. We saw this in Baltimore, here on Sunday and it’s happened again.

1:37 p.m.
It’s a home run and CC & Co. are down 3-0. Suzuki’s blast came after a walk and a hard-hit single to right by Jack Cust. Robinson Cano’s diving catch took away another hit by Mark Ellis.

1:44 p.m.
Before the game I took my first walk around the entire Stadium, making stops at the Mohegian Sun Sports Bar and the Bleachers. The sports bar has been open to the public for the entire homestand, but that ends after today’s game when it turns into a membership club. You can purchase a season pass for a cool $750. Outside the place was a controlled line to get in; think of it like waiting to get into your favorite club.

Inside it’s an enclosed area offering top shelf liquor and a great shot of the field from dead center. Looking on the outside you’ll notice tinted windows, reason being is because it’s the batter’s eye, which also prohibits photography from the inside.

If this is outside of your price range, Tommy Bahama’s, a martini bar located on the second floor right above the great hall, is a nice alternative. You can’t see the field, but there’s plenty of room, a good crowd and the hard stuff.

1:52 p.m.
Back-to-back jacks from Hideki Matsui and Melky Cabrera have Sabathia and the Yankees back in the game. Twenty-four homers have been hit in this building, one shy of the record for most home runs over the first six games of a new place, one shy of the record set at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City in 1955, the year the A’s moved from Philadelphia.

2:08 p.m.
Sabathia’s defense betrayed him in the third, but he’s thrown 54 pitches off a start in which he threw 122. Before you roast him, another friendly reminder that he was 1-4, 7.76 last April.  That summer he reeled off a career-high 12 straight wins with a 1.55 ERA with 126 strikeouts in 128 innings pitched.

2:17 p.m.
Jorge Posada’s third-inning double was the 322nd of his career, which passes Yogi Berra for 11th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. It’s 4-4 after three in what’s shaping up to be a slugfest.

2:28 p.m.
Jeter hits one to Monument Park to put the Yankees ahead 5-4 after four. That’s the fourth homer today and 25th in this place, and we’re a scoreless half-inning away from this being an official game. The captain also passed Jason Giambi for sole possession of 10th place on the Yankees’ all-time list with career homer No. 210.

2:49 p.m.
It’s raining harder, but this game was in the books
after Sabathia worked a scoreless fifth with the Yankees ahead by one.
Sabathia has settled down nicely, having retired the last eight A’s
batters before walking Cust with one out.

2:54 p.m.
We’re back to square one. It’s 5-5 after 5 1/2.

3:12 p.m.
Cabrera was caught stealing second base with one out in the sixth, which proved costly after Cody Ransom laced a two-out double to left field until Derek Jeter doubled Ransom home with the go-ahead run. For all the chatter about the inordinate amount of home runs that have been hit here, Jeter hustling to take the extra base, a slow roller from Johnny Damon and a big hit from Mark Teixeira have given CC & Co. a two-run bulge.

That was a big spot for Teixeira, who was batting .286 with runners in scoring position and .333 with RISP and two outs. His base hit to right scored Jeter to make it 7-5, Yankees.

3:26 p.m.
Sabathia left after failing to protect a two-run lead; Phil Coke got the final out of the seventh. Not a good day for the big guy. He allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts and threw 112 pitches, 66 for strikes. But again, like last season proved, seasons aren’t made in April. To quote what Nick Swisher once told me, “Check his track record, bro.”

3:51 p.m.
The Yankees blew a golden opportunity in the seventh inning, loading the bases with nobody out but coming away with zilch. So much for Yankee Stadium being a homer haven. That wasted chance may cost them the game.

3:57 p.m.
Great job by Jonathan Albaladejo keeping the game tied after allowing a leadoff single and the A’s moved the runner to third base. Albaladejo has quickly earned clout. He bailed out A.J. Burnett on Sunday by working out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam that set the table for Jorge Posada’s game-winning home run.

4:26 p.m.
We’re in extra innings and approaching 3 1/2 hours. The Yankees have left 10 runners on base and Damaso Marte is in the game. The last we saw him was mop-up duty in last Saturday’s 22-4 game. He still allowed a run on four hits in an inning’s work. For his confidence alone this is a big spot for him.

5:31 p.m.
We’re still here. It’s the top of the 13th and approaching 4 1/2 hours. Neither team has blinked. Only three runners have reached base since extra innings began, one was caught stealing. Jose Veras has looked sharp in 1 1/3 innings. The only arms available to the Yankees are Brian Bruney and Steven Jackson. Maybe it’s been the quality of pitching all along responsible for the 25 home runs hit in six games here? Just a thought.

5:59 p.m.
Veras: 3 1/3 IP, no hits, four strikeouts. He’s retired his last 10 batters and is a big hero in this game if the Yankees can pull it off. Meanwhile, we just got through the traditional 14th-inning stretch.

Wang to throw Thursday in Tampa

By Jon Lane
I’m not at the Stadium tonight (I’m there tomorrow), but was passed a note with an update on Chien-Ming Wang’s next step.

Wang will go to Tampa Thursday to throw roughly 100 pitches in an extended Spring Training game. The Yankees want to see better consistency on the sinker and will take it from there.

“We want to see how he throws Thursday,” said Joe Girardi. “He’s struggled and we have talked about the importance of getting him right. We believe this is a another step in doing it and instead of not pitching him, we think he needs to pitch and try to get this right.

“The importance is the consistency of his sinker. That’s where he’s gotten himself in trouble.  He’s gotten up in the zone and when he gets up, it flattens out. So the importance is seeing the sinker, down, down, down with the movement and we’ll evaluate it after that.”

Thanks to Metro New York‘s Larry Fleisher for the 411.

Figure on Wang starting next week in Detroit. I’m not sure what the Yankees will deem progress, but I would think he’d have to go at least five innings. Anything close to resembling the three horrid starts we’ve seen to date and Phil Hughes may want to keep his cell phone close at all times.

Report: Nady gets a reprieve

nady_350_042109.jpgBy Jon Lane
SI.com’s Jon Heyman is reporting that Xavier Nady has been diagnosed with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow and will avoid surgery. What began as fear that Nady would be gone for the season has turned into a timetable that could last for 4-6 weeks.

Heyman added Nady could return in a DH role. As I wrote earlier today, the Yankees are very concerned about Hideki Matsui’s knees. Matsui is in tonight’s lineup and batting seventh.

12:39 p.m.
Plenty of time to kill before the Yankees and A’s try it again tonight (My9 HD, 7 p.m.). Skies are overcast but more rain may invade the area later today into tonight.

Yesterday’s rainout allowed me to pay full attention to Game 3 of the Rangers’ first-round matchup with the Washington Capitals. Rather than step on the favored Caps’ throats to the brink of extinction, the Blueshirts decided to form a Conga line to the penalty box. They were outplayed by Washington’s snipers and a 20-year-old goaltender named Simeon Varlamov in dropping a 4-0 decision at Madison Square Garden, where they went 26-11-14 during the regular season. On the road they were 17-19-5 and won the first two games of this series in Washington DC. Go figure.

Back to baseball and the ongoing Xavier Nady watch. While the Yankees are holding out hope their right-fielder will not need surgery on his injured right elbow, the prognosis remains bleak. To date, Nady has undergone at least five tests in which doctors are trying to differentiate between this and injury he suffered in 2001, which required Tommy John surgery. Dr. Lewis Yocum, the surgeon who performed the procedure on Nady’s elbow in ’01, was expected to get the MRI pictures today. Supposedly there were to be sent via e-mail yesterday, but Dr. Yocum isn’t up on 21st century technology, so the Yankees FedExed him the information.

You obviously hope for the best in a situation that is flat-out terrible timing. Nady batted .305 with the Pirates and Yankees last season and becomes a free agent after this season. It makes you wonder how teams will view a veteran who turns 31 in November and whose body of work will be two RBIs in 28 at-bats in seven games. Speaking to a couple of Yankees, they made it clear Nady is appreciated and will be missed. The day after Nady injured his elbow, Nick Swisher painted a big ‘X’ on his arm to let him know his teammates won’t forget him. At the beginning of Spring Training, the two were competing for playing time in right field. The rivalry evolved into a tight friendship.

“Anytime somebody has to go through that it’s tough,” Swisher said. “We all want him to know we’re going to be there for him. Anything we can do to help, we’re all going to do that. You’re talking about losing a tremendous player – not just a tremendous player but an awesome guy.”

“It’s a big loss,” said Brett Gardner. “‘X’ is gone hopefully everybody can rally together and pick up the slack. It drives you a little more when you know your team and your coaches are counting on you.”

Further complicating matters is the fact that Hideki Matsui’s surgically repaired left knee needed to be drained last Thursday, creating a major level of concern about an aging veteran restricted to DH duty, and batting.194 (6-for-31) overall and .083 (1-for-12) with runners in scoring position. This makes you wonder if Matt Holliday will be the Yankees’ top target come July.

I hate to bring this up, but it’s true. Ross Ohlendorf – he and Jeff Karstens were shipped to Pittsburgh before last
season’s trade deadline for Nady and the now flammable Damaso Marte – threw seven shutout innings against the Marlins Monday night and would be better than 1-2 if not for a lack of run support. He had gone 0-5 with a 5.88 ERA dating back to last season before silencing a team that scored a combined 16 runs in its previous two games.

Like the signing of Carl Pavano, you may complain about this now, but you weren’t then. At least four teams were fighting over Pavano in 2004; Ohlendorf and Karstens, two pitchers on the outside looking in, were traded as part of a package for two reliable and proven veterans. It was impossible to foresee Nady getting hurt and Marte becoming a time bomb.

Karstens starts tonight and looks to recover from his 2009 debut in which he walked five in four innings. 

Memo to Wang: Take a step back

By Jon Lane
As we begin a new week, the top storyline in Yankeeland is the alarming situation surrounding Chien-Ming Wang. I wrote last week that Wang didn’t suddenly forget how to pitch and afforded him until mid-May before drawing any conclusions. Little did I know that Wang would surrender eight runs on eight hits in 1 1/3 innings on Saturday that saddled him with an ERA of 34.50.

Suddenly, someone who entered the season with 54 wins in 97 big-league starts could find himself being skipped over his next start, scheduled for Friday night in Boston. You can’t throw Wang out there, you just can’t. Study the pitching lines of his first three outings:

April 8: 3 2/3 IP, 7 ER, 9 H
April 13: 1 IP, 8 ER, 6 H
April 18: 1 1/3 IP, 8 ER, 8 H

Not a pretty picture. Neither is Wang’s career 5.11 ERA in seven starts at Fenway Park. And when the idea of sending Wang to the Minors to follow the path of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, two aces who had to go back to the beginning before evolving into Cy Young Award winners, Joe Girardi clarified why that’s not feasible.

Wang is out of options and cannot be sent down without exposing him to waivers, which means it’ll take about the average time Wang has lasted in his three starts for another team to scoop him up. Since Wang, Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland continue to insist the right-hander is healthy, the only alternative to exposing him to the Fenway wolves is giving him a good nine days to repair his mechanics and confidence.

Our Kimberly Jones guesses that Wang will throw a simulated game either on Thursday’s off day or Friday, perhaps in Tampa. She also shared a suggestion from Brian Bruney which raises an excellent point. Like Wang, Bruney recovered from a Lisfranc injury and he believes that Wang has not re-gained the trust of his push-off foot, the same foot that was injured last June in Houston. What bothers me the most is how Wang said yesterday that after watching video he believes there are no mechanical differences from this season to last season, which went against what Girardi said. Denial is worse that any physical ailment. The first step to figuring out why you’re not pitching well is to admit something is wrong.

Wang, 29, is a major investment for the Yankees today and tomorrow. Taking the next nine days to figure out some sort of solution won’t hurt the team as this stage. A.J. Burnett can be slotted into Wang’s space on Friday with the rest of the starters on their regular turns until the Yankees need a fifth starter April 29 in Detroit. If the sabbatical fails to work, you’re looking at the increasing likelihood of Phil Hughes being recalled from Triple-A Scranton and Wang serving as the long reliever the Yankees decided not to take up north.

Back later with tonight’s lineups.

Indians vs. Yankees: Starting lineups 4/19/09


yankees.jpgYANKEES (6-6)
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Robinson Cano 2B
Hideki Matsui DH
Cody Ransom 3B
Jose Molina C

A.J. Burnett P


indians.jpgINDIANS (4-8)
Grady Sizemore CF
Mark DeRosa 3B
Victor Martinez 1B
Travis Hafner DH
Jhonny Peralta SS
Shin-Soo Choo LF
Ryan Garko RF
Kelly Shoppach C
Asdrubal Cabrera 2B

Carl Pavano P

Indians vs. Yankees: Starting lineups 4/17/2009

yankees.jpgYANKEES (5-5)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Melky Cabrera RF
Cody Ransom 3B
Brett Gardner CF

Joba Chamberlain P

indians.jpgINDIANS (3-7)
Grady Sizemore CF
Mark DeRosa 3B
Victor Martinez C
Travis Hafner DH
Ryan Garko 1B
Shin-Soo Choo RF
Ben Francisco LF
Tony Graffanino 2B
Asdrubal Cabrera SS

Anthony Reyes P

Welcome to the party

stadium_350_041609.jpgBy Jon Lane
It’s a bit past 12:30 p.m. and the Opening Ceremonies are under way as 50,000-plus have jam-packed this beautiful new facility, open for business and the first official game between the Yankees and Indians.

John Fogerty and Bernie Williams performed live, and Michael Kay and John Sterling are introducing Yankees alumni. As timing has it, the Milwaukee Brewers play the Mets tomorrow. Willie Randolph is the Brewers’ bench coach and that’s allowed him to participate this afternoon. Our own David Cone received a nice ovation, as did Randolph, Rich Gossage and Tino Martinez.

I’ll be back with much more, including more thoughts on today. A quick update on Xavier Nady: He was to see the team doctor this morning, but told me just before 11:30 he had not yet been examined. Nady was placed on the 15-day DL today and pitcher David Robertson was called up from Triple-A Scranton. Joe Girardi’s reasoning was to wait and see if Nady will in fact miss the season or if the news turns out better than expected.

12:47 p.m.
Indians pitcher Carl Pavano was introduced to loud boos. The one-time Yankees’ colossal failure smirked at the ovation, a few writers up here snickered at the reaction.

12:56 p.m.
The 2009 Yankees were just introduced. Here’s who received the loudest ovations:
A.J. Burnett
Mariano Rivera
Andy Pettitte
Joba Chamberlain
Derek Jeter
Nick Swisher
CC Sabathia

stadium_opening_470.jpg
1:07 p.m.
Two minutes until first pitch. Here’s a shot of the military’s presenting of our colors.

First pitch: 1:09 p.m., a ball to Grady Sizemore. The game time temperature is 56 degrees.
First out: Sizemore grounds out to first base.
First strikeout: Victor Martinez whiffs to end a clean top of the first for CC Sabathia.

1:21 p.m.
The Yankees were happy just to have come home, but especially happy to be in their new digs off a nine-game road trip, the team’s longest to begin a season since 1985. Think about it: You spend six weeks in Florida, come home and instantly fall in love with your new home and three days later have to go away for nearly two weeks. After an 0-2 start in which the worst of cynics declared the season over, the Yankees are home at 5-4 and look to build off two quality wins. Not too shabby.

Hours before the pregame ceremonies, Joe Girardi told the media he had this day circled on the calendar for awhile and that the anticipation was only going to grow as the day progressed. He still takes the same route to the new Stadium (Exit 6) off the Major Deegan Expressway, which takes him directly to River Avenue. He, like everyone else, can’t help notice the venerable “House That Ruth Built” slowly and painfully being dismantled. Normally upon the opening of a new building, the old one is parking lot, but like a stubborn old goat, the original Yankee Stadium still casts a shadow over its plush neighbor.

“It’s strange driving by the old Stadium and it’s still there,” Girardi said.

Babe Ruth built the place across the street. This facility was built by George M. Steinbrenner, regarded as the architect of the Stadium that combines elements of past, present and future. The Boss is in attendance today, but keeping a low profile.

“I don’t think Opening Day is the same without him here,” Girardi said. “This is George’s creation. He’s been part of it for so long. To say the Yankees, you say Mr. Steinbrenner.”

Right after Bob Sheppard’s pre-recorded voice introduced Derek Jeter was something pretty cool. The bat on home plate prior to Jeter’s first plate appearance was used by Babe Ruth to hit the first home run in the first game at the original Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923. The Babe hit a three-run homer off Boston’s Howard Ehmke to spark the Yankees to a 4-1 win. The bat was taken directly to the Yankees Museum here at the new Stadium, where it will be on display until the All-Star break.

No such luck for Jeter. Facing last season’s Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, Jeter filed out to center. Johnny Damon, however, is now forever down in history as the first player to record the first hit here: a single to right center field.

1:30 p.m.
Lee, 0-2 with a 9.58 ERA coming in, got into immediate trouble. He plunked Mark Teixeira in the right triceps to put runners on first and second for the Yankees’ newest cult hero, Nick Swisher.

Someone asked Swisher before the game if there’s anybody he’s not best friends with, and I tend to wonder if there’s ever a moment when he doesn’t smile. Probably not. His grin was especially wide after he received a surprise gift in the mail, a shiny new pair of Nikes. If I were to guess, Swisher probably didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.

“If you can’t ready for today, man, you’ve got problems,” Swisher said. “I love what I do. I absolutely love what I do, and it shows. I add that because that’s my personality.”

Taking a break from batting practice, Swisher walked into the clubhouse bellowing like a little kid at the amusement park, “Opening Day! New York Yankees! 2009!”

Swisher’s first official at-bat in pinstripes: a fly out to center field. Jorge Posada came up with two out and Lee’s pitch out already over 20, but grounded to first.

1:37 p.m.
First hit by a visiting player: Ben Francisco’s two-out double to left field. Sabathia worked out of trouble after walking the next batter.

1:47 p.m.
Here in the bottom of the second, Robinson Cano led off with a base hit. Coming off a down 2008, Cano is 14 for 35 (.400) on the season. The Yankees were wise not to trade him, just like they were smart to hold on to Swisher when it was thought they had a glut of outfielders.

1:50 p.m.
Brett Gardner flies out to left to end the second. Off to check out the game atmospheres at the Hard Rock Cafe and NYY Steak

3:06 p.m.
I’m back from checking out the Hard Rock and NYY Steak. While chatting with ESPN’s Hannah Storm, Jorge Posada belted the first home run at the new Yankee Stadium to Monument Park in dead center field to tie the game at 1-1. It was also a milestone homer. Posada’s jack was the 223th of his career, passing Don Mattingly for No. 8 on the all-time franchise list. Ironically, Jose Molina, another catcher, belted the final homer at the old place.

There’s lots of ground to cover about the activities here at Yankee Stadium. I’ll gradually catch up while tracking what’s a tight ballgame.

championships_150.jpg3:21 p.m.
Interesting observation from an ESPN producer standing behind me. This wall behind the bleachers in right field has signs representing each year the Yankees became World Champions. “They didn’t leave room for a new one,” the producer said. Should the Yankees win No. 27, that will be an offseason project.

Meanwhile, Sabathia’s day is done after throwing 122 pitches (70 strikes) in 5 2/3 innings. Not efficient, but he leaves a game tied at 1-1.

3:34 p.m.
Nice job by Phil Coke, who came in with a 9.82 ERA,
to get Sizemore to fly out to left and leave the bases loaded to end the top of sixth. The Yankees have to build off that and get something started here.

3:49 p.m.
The love fest is over (for now). Jose Veras allowed a walk and a double to start the seventh before Jhonny Peralta doubled home two runs. When he’s off his game, Veras, booed off the mound, cannot find the plate and it cost him today.

4:00 p.m.
Today’s attendance: 48,271. Two thousand standing room only tickets were not sold before the game.

Thanks to the bullpen, the natives are now restless. The Indians have exploded for eight runs in the seventh off Veras and Damaso Marte, the back-breaker Sizemore’s grand slam to right field. Since 1998 the Yankees have won 11 consecutive home openers, 16 of their last 17 and 22 of their last 25 since 1983.

It’s 10-1 Tribe after Victor Martinez’s solo shot. Fans hollered, “We want Swisher!”

hrc_150_041609.jpg4:26 p.m.
With the game in the ridiculous stage, here are some highlights on the action at the Hard Rock and NYY Steak from earlier today.

Hard Rock opened at 10 a.m. and was packed to where by 2 p.m. there was a two-hour wait. A few people were getting restless, but the majority were having a blast.

Mike Mancini, hanging out with a group of Connecticut natives at the bar, made a three-hour trip, without a ticket, from Hartford. He was loving the appeal of watching a game within the Stadium confines and a fun atmosphere, certainly not a consolation prize.

“It’s been worth the trip,” Mancini said. “We drove three hours, in traffic, to hang out at the Hard Rock. We’re here drinking with our Pisans and have the beautiful Jillian behind the bar!”

nyysteak_250.jpgRon Lombardi of Mountain Lakes, N.J. is another ticket holder who
explored views from his seats for the first four innings and the Hard
Rock before he and his group settled into the laid-back atmosphere of
NYY Steak. Part of the decor is a wall affixed with signatures from Yankees greats of the past. And although Lombardi had not yet been served his main course, NYY Steak’s greens had him sold.

“This is a steakhouse,” Lombardi said. “The appetizers are good.”

Jacques Lamour, general manager of NYY Steak, told me you can have your initials carved within the bone of the rib eye, one of the many beef options dry-aged for 21-28 days.None of Steak’s dishes are frozen except the lobster tails and ice cream, everything else starts from scratch. If not for a light wallet and work obligations, I would have sampled a cut!

6:02 p.m.
There’s been some confusion over the scheduled examination of Xavier Nady’s right elbow. One day after it appeared his season was over, suddenly there’s a tiny ray of light.

Nady had a second X-Ray late this morning and will visit orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum, known for performing Tommy John surgery and receive a CT scan tomorrow. After that, there will be a closer look of the MRI he received in Tampa to see what’s going on with the bone.

Nady’s was disabled this morning, so it’s not like the Yankees have to make an immediate decision. The medical team is exhausting all options to avoid another Tommy John surgery, which Nady first had done in 2002.

 “If you can avoid surgery at all costs, that’s what you want to do,” Nady said. “If there’s a chance at rehab, obviously that’s the way to go. You want to be 100 percent sure of what’s going on in there, have every test done and look at everything. I went through that surgery before and would like to avoid it myself.”

Not much else to report from the clubhouse except the obvious fact that both Marte and Veras are disappointed with their respective failures. Marte blamed location; all of his pitches were right down the middle. Veras shouldered all the blame because his leadoff walk of Mark DeRosa led to the bottom falling out.

“I’m better than that,” he said.

Outside of Mariano Rivera and Brian Bruney, the bullpen has been either real good or real bad. Today was terrible, but better to figure this out heading into Game 11 than in September.

Report: Nady may be out for the season

By Jon Lane
Peter Abraham is reporting that although nothing is official yet, the word is that Xavier Nady will need surgery and miss the season.

Update: Nady told reporters at Tropicana Field that he’s seeing the
team doctor tomorrow in New York. While he didn’t want to confirm the
rumor he’ll be out for the season, he added that an MRI given to him this morning showed a tear
and surgery will be needed. He will be placed on the disabled list today.

More as this story develops and on YES, beginning with Yankees Batting Practice Today at 3 p.m. In the meantime, will Shelley Duncan, John Rodriguez or someone else be called up from Scranton to take Nady’s place on the roster? Who do you think? Not sure if this means anything, but River Ave. Blues notes that Austin Jackson and Kevin Russo were pulled from this afternoon’s Triple-A game.

3:21 p.m. Abraham cleared up a few things in his blog post: Nady
will go on the DL and while noting the team doctor will examine him
tomorrow, those MRI results were not good news. Russo, Duncan or Juan
Miranda could get the call-up, but it will not be Jackson. He’s the
Yankees’ future in center field and will be with the big club only when
he’s ready to play every day.

Today’s Lineups
yankees.jpgYANKEES (4-4)
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Nick Swisher RF
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Brett Gardner CF
Ramiro Pena 3B
Jose Molina C

Andy Pettitte (4-4)

Notable absence: Hideki Matsui (.125) is out of the lineup for the second consecutive game.

rays.jpgRAYS (4-4)
B.J. Upton CF
Carl Crawford LF
Pat Burrell DH
Carlos Pena 1B
Willy Aybar 3B
Jason Bartlett SS
Gabe Kapler RF
Michel Hernandez C
Akinori Iwamura 2B

Andy Sonnanstine P

Countdown to the party

stadium_350_041509.jpgBy Jon Lane
T-minus one day until the official home opener. We were on hand for the workouts and the exhibition games, taking you for tour and providing anecdotes from around the Stadium and in the clubhouse. Expect a lot more Thursday afternoon. Fans will be jacked, CC Sabathia will be on the mound and the Yankees will thrilled to enjoy their new spoils for the next seven days. I’ll be keeping a diary and filing a postgame report. Chris Shearn and Co. will be producing exclusive videos, and Friday, Steven Goldman will provide a unique take on the Stadium’s amenities and dining experiences. This will be a lot of fun and knowing the Yankees there will be plenty of surprises. Gates will be open at 10 a.m. and the team is encouraging everyone to be in their seats by noon for the opening ceremonies.

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A.J. Burnett was amazing Tuesday night. Better than his six no-hit innings was how he, locked into a pitchers’ duel with Matt Garza, kept his composure after the Rays tied the game in the seventh. After the Yankees regained the lead off the Rays bullpen, Burnett pitched a clean eighth inning, the Yankees broke it open in the ninth and Brian Bruney struck out the side to finish it off. Through two games, Burnett is proving wrong those skeptics (me included) who thought it was a risk giving him $82.5 million over five years. There are tell-tale signs he’s no longer a thrower, but a mature pitcher. Shearn has more on Burnett and Brett Gardner, who to date is making him look like a genius.

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Hold your breath and cross your fingers: Xavier Nady is having an MRI done today to examime his right elbow, injured Tuesday in the seventh when he felt a sharp pain while throwing Carlos Pena’s single back to the infield. It’s the same area where he had Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2001.

From the sound of it, Nady is headed for the disabled list. That means Nick Swisher will play every day, mostly in right field. Melky Cabrera will be counted on even more to spell Johnny Damon in left. Shelley Duncan, batting .300 with a homer and five RBIs in four games at Triple-A Scranton, would add pop off the bench. None, however, can replace Nady, a steady veteran and a good fit in the bottom of the lineup. The Yankees are wishing Hideki Matsui can play some outfield right now.

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It’s Andy Pettitte against Andy Sonnanstine this afternoon (YES HD, 4 p.m.) as the Yankees finally finish their season-opening nine-game road trip. They’d love to officially open the new Yankee Stadium one game above .500, which considering having to go back on the road after just coming back from six weeks in Florida wouldn’t be too bad. Pettitte is the right guy to have on the mound. He was great in his 2009 debut at Kansas City, yielding one run and three hits over seven innings, and is 15-4 with a 3.63 ERA against the Rays, including 8-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 12 starts at Tropicana Field.

Just like it was silly to go insane over an 0-2 start, it’s completely premature to draw conclusions based on eight games. The best you can do is look at things in stages. Right here, right now, Burnett has been gold and Pettitte is a great bargain.

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movingforward.jpgYankees great Bernie Williams’ new CD, “Moving Forward” has been released. You can meet Williams and receive a signed copy of the CD at 6 p.m at Borders – Penn Plaza. Williams played one of his songs on Good Day New York this morning. His first CD, “The Journey Within” is excellent. Expect more of the same with his second helping and tune into YES next month for his live concert at New York’s Nokia Theatre.