By Jon Lane
Joe Girardi gave indications during a conference call with beat writers that the Yankees may go with a three-man rotation during the ALCS. That would mean CC Sabathia would start Game 4 on three days’ rest. Not only did Girardi point out a lighter Sabathia workload compared to last season with the Brewers, and the eight days he has between Friday and Game 1 of the ALDS, off days will have Sabathia available on regular rest if the series extends to a seventh game.
“Not getting him to 250 innings during the regular season allows us to consider that,” Girardi said. “We’ve told him, though, to concentrate on Game 1. That’s the most important game, and we’ll go from there.”
Furthermore, Joba Chamberlain and Chad Gaudin would remain in the bullpen. We’ll know more over the next day or two – the Yankees will work out at Yankee Stadium tomorrow and Thursday – but it sounded like Girardi wants to again carry three catchers, which means the lone roster change could be Brian Bruney or Freddy Guzman for Damaso Marte.
By Jon Lane
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My projected Yankees ALCS roster. The only change I’d make is Brian Bruney for Damaso Marte. Having Francisco Cervelli as a third catcher worked out better than anyone imaged in Game 2, so he stays. Chad Gaudin sticks around too. He’ll either start Game 4 or remain the long man if CC Sabathia gets the call, the only game he’d have to start on short rest.
Position players (14)
Jerry Hairston Jr.
By Jon Lane
Nothing like an inning of work to change perceptions yet again. Joba Chamberlain threw a scoreless inning – of relief – on Sunday, needing only seven pitches (five strikes) to retire the side in order while hitting 95 on Tropicana Field’s gun. Of course, that has the Loyal Order of Joba to the Bullpen firing the cannons.
I’m not complaining. A good debate, even one with the legs of a marathon runner, keeps the comments and message boards thread lit up, which is good for us! My take though is forget about Chamberlain’s future for this week and the rest of this month. The Yankees’ solitary goal is first winning the American League Division Series. If right now he’s most comfortable and productive throwing out of the bullpen, put him there and worry about this starter-reliever stuff all winter and into next spring.
The Yankees’ will announce their ALDS roster no later than tomorrow. Every indication has Francisco Cervelli making it as the third catcher, insurance in the event Freddy Guzman runs for Jorge Posada and subsequently Jose Molina suffers an injury. That means the Yankees will carry 10 pitchers. If Chamberlain makes the cut, Chad Gaudin and Brian Bruney are out.
Here’s how the roster will stack up with 10 pitchers and 15 position players:
Jerry Hairston Jr.
There are those who favor Ramiro Pena over Guzman. Understandable, but Hairston fills the utility role and brings more experience. Plus, Guzman will be deployed solely as a pinch runner. That extra element of speed is extremely important. The Yankees have a weapon in Brett Gardner, but bottom of the eighth or ninth and Jorge Posada in scoring position, you’re taking him out for Guzman, the only player who’d keep up with Gardner stride for stride.
By Jon Lane
Mariano Rivera sealed the Yankees series-clinching win over the Angels, one that put a bug in the Halos’ heads – finally, not the other way around – if the teams are to meet again next month. Victory was attained when Ian Kennedy gutted out the eighth inning, his first Major League inning since last August when he was tattooed on the same field. Yes, he walked two batters and hit another, and his first out was a line drive right to Ramiro Pena at third base, but Joe Girardi looked him in the eye and told him it’s your day, your time, now get the job done. And he did.
Alfredo Aceves, Phil Hughes, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin and Brian Bruney were unavailable – would you trust Bruney in that spot anyway? – so Girardi summoned Kennedy based on some strong Minor League rehab appearances and Dave Eiland’s vote of confidence. You can feel the consternation – John Sterling endlessly second-guessed the move while calling the game on the Yankees’ radio network – and negativity wondering if Girardi had gone mad at the most inopportune time. He had decided to rest a handful of starters, the AL East and home field advantage not yet secured, against their annual tormentors since 2002. Then he put the game in the right hand of one who underwent May surgery for an aneurysm and a year earlier was 0-4 with an 8.17 ERA in 10 games (nine starts).
It’s easy to complain, even when a team is 40 games (now 41) games over .500 and older players are banged up with a cross-country flight awaiting them. When Erick Aybar flied out to left to end the eighth with the bases loaded, you exhaled with satisfaction. Rivera would close and the Yankees would have one of their best wins in a season filled with many.
With guts comes glory, and win or lose, respect. Kennedy is back from a serious health issue a lot sooner than anyone expected. Whether he sneaks onto the postseason roster or not (probably not), he’ll pitch in the Arizona Fall League and receive a golden opportunity to start for the Yankees in 2010.
“Just to be pitching is an accomplishment,” Kennedy said. “And then to be pitching here, and in a big situation, there are no words to describe it. It got a little crazy, but I was glad it worked out barely. These are big, important wins for us.”
The magic number is five. The Red Sox are in town this weekend. The indeterminable Joba Chamberlain starts against Jon Lester tomorrow night. You want to see the Yankees enter the postseason healthy and winning, so the games remain important. For one day, Kennedy played his part while emerging victorious from not only a game, but the biggest battle of his young life.
Two things to keep an eye on today: David Robertson will throw a bullpen session and Jerry Hairston Jr. will undergo a second MRI on his left wrist. The Yankees need Robertson to be their seventh/late-inning fireballer and Hairston to fill multiple roles off the bench. If he’s forced to miss at least the ALDS, Pena can fill the void to a point. He’s yet to play in the outfield, which would make Eric Hinske’s presence more important.
by Glenn Giangrande
The developing Phil Hughes\Brian Bruney eighth inning saga should be irrelevant. Someone get the media to take the pedal off the gas!
Joe Girardi sent the press into a tizzy on Friday by simply having Hughes record the final two outs in the second-to-last inning of the Yankees’ 4-2 win over the Blue Jays. Surely that must mean Bruney is finished in that role,
Why should it matter to anyone outside of the Yankees clubhouse who gets outs in specific innings other than the ninth? Call me when there’s a change at closer and Mariano Rivera is wrestled from his throne by Father Time. In a perfect baseball world, bullpens would be interchangeable, with relievers having the capacity to succeed in any situation, perhaps with the exception of long relief since pitchers who generally throw in the late innings tend not to be stretched out for that kind of work.
Bruney is clearly going through a rough patch. Heading into the July 4th matinee with Toronto, he had allowed five walks in his previous four appearances after giving up none over his previous 11. The three hits he surrendered versus the Mariners on June 30th almost doubled his season total. Should the fact that Girardi made a common sense decision and used his most effective reliever to get a couple of big outs in the 8th be treated as a major story?
Hughes. Bruney. Aceves. Coke. Robertson. Marte, wherever he is and whenever he returns. Whoever is throwing the best should get the late inning chances, and the press shouldn’t treat every appearance as if the pitcher was moving a mountain.
By Glenn Giangrande
Me thinks it’s time to proclaim Phil Hughes a reliever for the remainder of the 2009 season.
Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui DH
Nick Swisher RF
Melky Cabrera CF
Pitching: CC Sabathia (5-4, 3.68)
Cristian Guzman DH
Nick Johnson 1B
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Elijah Dukes CF
Adam Dunn LF
Austin Kearns RF
Alberto Gonzalez SS
Wil Nieves C
Anderson Hernandez 2B
Pitching: Shairon Martis (5-1, 5.04)
Jose Veras has been designated for assignment to make room for the returning Brian Bruney.
The view from D.C.
Washington Post beat reporter Chico Harlan reports that manager Manny Acta is safe – at least today. Acta was already on the field shortly before 3 p.m. Harlan also offers positive first impressions of Yankee Stadium:
I like the airy, Grand Central-ish concourse, where natural light floods in from the ceilings. This ballpark feels smart, purposeful. Everything from the elevators to the sightlines — all well-designed, well-thought out. (This is in decided contrast to Citi Field, which is far too busy and sloppy for its own good, kind of like a NASCAR T-shirt.)
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By Jon Lane
A wrap on the first installment of Subway Series 2009.
First off, above is a great shot from the AP of a member of the U.S. Army Golden Knghts parachute team drifting above Yankee Stadium after jumping from an aircraft before the start of Sunday’s game as part of Military Appreciation Day.
Mets-Yankees to me overdone and it would be better if it took place once a year, three games and alternate the venues each year. But not only does six games make more money, the Subway Series continues to keep the Apple’s heart pumping. I was at Friday’s game and despite a report to the contrary, Yankee Stadium had a pulse which grew as the game progressed and reached a fever pitch with Luis Castillo’s dropped fly ball.
Once Gary Sheffield became a Met, Dwight Gooden, his uncle and one of 104 players to suit up for both the Yankees and Mets, told him that experiencing the Subway Series from both sides will be a lifetime memory. The Tampa, Fla., native makes his baseball season home in New Jersey, where for years he’s been hollered at from all directions.
“When I was with the Yankees I used to get a lot of Mets fans yelling at me,” Sheffield said. “Now I have Yankees fans yelling at me. It’s fun because you don’t know who the real Yankees or Mets fan is until they get it out of their mouths.
“Just the New York fans all together, one rooting against the other. That’s always fun, but it’s still New York at the same time.”
I documented some give-and-take between fans in the bleacher section in my diary from Friday.
The Yankees hold a 39-30 record against the Mets since interleague play was established in 1997. This weekend by far was the most eventful of a saga that’s made names of Dave Mlicki, Matt Franco, Mel Rojas, Dae-Sung Koo and Fernando Nieve. The past three days boosted the profiles of Brian Bruney and Francisco Rodriguez, sullied Castillo’s reputation, and have Mets fans on alert and panicking over Johan Santana.
The Yankees smashed Santana for nine runs (the most allowed over his stellar career) in three innings (matching his shortest start), which left many worried over Santana’s decreased velocity and wondering if he’s hurt. Santana shot down any notions about his health after the game, but this is something to monitor. Remember the Yankees took flack over refusing to part with Phil Hughes for Santana. In the interest of building a program, which I’ve explained many times in this space, over the long haul one could make an argument that Brian Cashman was right.
Some more lopsided numbers: Sunday was the Mets’ worst loss since a 16-1 thrashing in San Diego on August 22, 2000. The 15 runs were a season-high for the Yankees and their largest shutout win since blanking the Blue Jays, 15-0, in Game 1 of a doubleheader on September 25, 1977
The Yankees’ off day today comes at exactly the right time – following 16 games in 17 days with no day off since May 28 (a travel day between Texas and Cleveland) and a rainout on June 5. When they resume play tomorrow night they’ll oppose the atrocious Nationals who can’t pitch, but can put runs on the board. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees ring up a couple of 10-spots and do expect a demotion for Chien-Ming Wang if he can’t get it done on Wednesday. That and CC Sabathia starting tomorrow adds some intrigue to series that in comparison to the Mets is like going from Happy Hour to a boardroom.
Off-the-field notes: A.J. Burnett’s conference call regarding the appeal of his six-game suspension for throwing high-and-tight to Texas slugger Nelson Cruz on June 2 was postponed until June 30 … Damaso Marte (left shoulder tendinitis) has an appointment with Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.
UPDATE: 5:10 p.m.
From Yankees PR:
? Damaso Marte was seen by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Andrews concurred with the previous evaluations of Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and Dr. David Altchek. Marte will return to Tampa, Fla., to continue his throwing program. Good news there.
? Alex Rodriguez will greet fans in Monument Park from 4:10-4:30 p.m. prior to Tuesday night’s game against Washington. Beforehand at 1 p.m., Robinson Cano will serve as “Principal for a Day” for PS 55 (450 St. Paul’s Place, Bronx, NY).
? The first 18,000 fans in attendance at Tuesday’s game will receive a “Strikeouts for Scholarships” keychain, courtesy of WCBS 880-AM, in support of Yankees media member Ed Lucas’ charitable endeavors with Seton Hall University. Through the “Strikeouts for Scholarships” program, established in 2008, WCBS donates $10 to Seton Hall’s Ed Lucas Scholarship Fund every time a Yankees pitcher strikes out an opposing batter. Ed is a great guy who does occasional interviews for YESNetwork.com. Visit him at EdLucas.org to learn about his inspirational story.
By Jon Lane
We’re live from Yankee Stadium on a gray Thursday morning, where later today Chien-Ming Wang will attempt to erase a dreadful beginning to his 2009 season when makes his first start in nearly seven weeks. Since he was activated from the disabled list (hip), which also was a chance for him to hit the reset button, Wang allowed two runs and nine hits in eight innings covering three relief appearances while showing the form that made him a two-time 19-game winner.
One start good or bad won’t define the rest of the season for the right-hander, but you know Wang and the Yankees are hoping for the best even though he’s on a limited pitch count (around 75). It’s going to be very interesting to see how this unfolds.
Back later with much more, including today’s lineups and the status of Mark Teixeira, who sat out last night with a bruised right ankle.
Here are the lineups. It’s just a day off for Derek Jeter with a stretch of 17 games in a row. And Teixeira told Joe Girardi this morning, “I’m good to go,” and later explained that his collision with Elvis Andrus was bone on bone, which is what left him sore for a day.
MLB has suspended A.J. Burnett six games for intentionally throwing a pitch in the head area of Nelson Cruz Monday night. It is expected he will appeal.
Some quick rehab reports:
Jorge Posada is healthy and is also getting the day off. Girardi thought about starting him this afternoon, but when Posada told him he was OK, Girardi replied, “Let’s keep it OK.”
“I just thought it was better to give him a day,” Girardi said. “It’s a quick turnaround.”
Brian Bruney threw from 90 feet Tuesday and felt fine … Xavier Nady had the day off … Jose Molina was expected to return to New York today to receive treatment and will be held off from baseball activity for the next week or two.
About 10 minutes before Wang makes his first pitch. Girardi reiterated this morning how Wang’s sinker over his last few outings has worked like it’s supposed to, going down and not side to side. The bottom line is he deserved a shot at redemption and today will not be a case of one bad start and you’re done.
“He had three really tough starts,” Girardi said. “He won 46 games in 2 ½ years. I’m not sure how many guys can boast that. This is not just a guy we’re trying out. This is a guy we believe in.”
I spoke to a respected member of the Taiwanese media who noted a swagger that’s been missing from Wang since Spring Training. Imagine being in limbo and having to rehab in Tampa while your wife is weeks away from giving birth to your first child? You’d be pretty upset and the vibe is that Wang will channel those energies in a positive way.
Nice start for Wang retiring the Rangers in order on 13 pitches (nine for strikes), including freezing Ian Kinsler on a perfectly located 3-2 pitch. Remember that Wang’s pitch limit is around 75, but Girardi cited the Rangers’ penchant for swinging the bat, which made him hope Wang can work five-six innings anyway.
Mark Teixeira reached on an error when David Murphy dropped a fly ball he initially caught one-handed. Rangers manager Ron Washington argued that the ball was lost on the transfer from glove to throwing hand, but replays indicated Murphy did not secure the ball first.
I was inserting a moral of the story message to Mets rookie Fernando Martinez about the importance of running to first base no matter what, which Teixeira did, until Teixeira got caught between first and second trying to advance on Alex Rodriguez’s fly ball to right. Shortstop Elvis Andrus cut off Nelson Cruz’s throw, chased Teixeira back to first and tagged him out a split second before getting back to the bag.
1-0 Yankees after one on a leadoff home run by Johnny Damon.
Wang’s laboring here in the third. The Rangers took a 2-1 lead on a wild pitch and Hank Blaock’s RBI single.
Chris Davis led off the third with a ground-rule double and Wang nearly esacaped a runner on third, one-out jam before he threw ball four – and a wild pitch – that allowed Davis to score the tying run. Wang had to work – he caught a bad break with Michael Young’s infield hit – his location wasn’t as sharp as the first two innings. He threw 22 pitches, which gives him 45 after three. His last pitch, though, froze Nelson Cruz for strike three.
Wang’s time in this game is rapidly running short. A single and two straight doubles have given the Rangers a 4-1 lead, the last of which drew boos from an impatient crowd. Alfredo Aceves warming up.
He recovers to record three quick outs without further damage. At 60 pitches, expect the fifth inning to be his last.
A-Rod, incidentally, is 2-for-13 in this series and drew loud boos with his groundout to short after Teixeira led off the fourth with a double.
Wang retired the first two Rangers on the fifth on ground balls, throwing only six pitches. He was on his way to a nice finish before Nelson Cruz crushed his worst pitch of the day into the Rangers bullpen (he had not allowed a home run to a right-handed batter in his prior 21 starts.
His final line: 4 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, 1 WP. Great? No. But Wang isn’t yet fully stretched out to throw 90-100 pitches. It’s a work in progress and not an audition, so you’ll be seeing him in the rotation for some time.
In a blink of an eye, Wang is off the hook. The Yankees load the bases, Nick Swisher draws a run-scoring walk and Mark Teixeira doubles home three to tie the game at five. The number of ways Teixeira is valuable to this team seems to double every game.
Now the fans love A-Rod. He pokes an opposite-field single to plate Teixeira and put the Yankees ahead, 6-5. Lots of layers to this contest, but the most important is Wang laying the foundation to again be an important part of the Yankees’ rotation sooner rather than later.
Ian Kinsler homers off the foul pole to tie the game 6-6. Aceves has definitely looked better in other outings.
Still 6-6 as we enter the eighth. The bullpens have settled things down while Nick Swisher (2-for-3, BB, RBI) is out of the game for defensive purposes. Brett Gardner is in center while Melky Cabrera shifts over to right.
Phil Coke: 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and a snatch catch of a line drive. It’s the best he’s looked in awhile. But I like Girardi calling on David Robertson to face the right-handed Elvis Andrus. Robertson needs to be tested in big spots and he did his job, retiring Andrus on a fly ball to left.
Melky … again. Not a walk-off, but he hands a two-run lead to Mariano Rivera in the ninth.