Results tagged ‘ Melky Cabrera ’

All eyes on Joba

By Jon Lane
A bit of a late start for yours truly but ready to go minutes before first pitch. On the surface, the Yankees and Red Sox have little to play for. Between the lines, there’s still plenty at stake, writes Steven Goldman. And try telling Joba Chamberlain tonight’s game doesn’t mean anything. We’ll get a good idea what he’s made of, and if takes out any anger and embarrassment by punishing the Red Sox. A message will be delivered, both to opponent and employers.

Back with much more as the night progresses.

7:15 p.m. Side retired on 13 pitches – two ground-ball outs and a flyout to center. No fuss, no wasted effort. It’s early but a very good sign.

7:22 p.m. Joe Girardi was animated and passionate in his defense of Joba’s innings limitations and why it was in the Yankees’ best interest. Without naming names, Fausto Carmona is one example of when some young arms – not all – are pushed too far too quickly.

“Everyone seems to have an idea of what’s best for Joba,” Girardi said. “Let’s not forget that he’s 23-24 years old and that this is first full season as a starter. This is a growing process. We knew that going into this year. I wouldn’t say his season has been horrible. You guys make it sound like, and I’m not accusing anybody, he’s 1-19 with a seven or eight ERA.”

Here’s the full interview.

7:28 p.m. A-Rod’s RBI single made it 1-0, Yankees. That was his 90th RBI in this, his 118th game of the season. Overall he’s .285-27-90. Considering the emotional trauma with his PED admission and overcoming hip surgery, that’s darn good. But certain questions will not go away until he delivers beginning in a little more than two weeks.

joba2_275_092509.jpg7:40 p.m. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night, Jason Bay, who goes down swinging at an 88 MPH breaking ball. Joba’s got that look in his eye like he’s mad as hell and won’t take it anymore.

7:57 p.m. Joba after three: Nine up, nine down. Three strikeouts. 36 pitches/24 strikes.

8:03 p.m. Make it .287-28-92 for A-Rod as he hit one to the George Washington Bridge. Lester is getting pounded. This is what you don’t want out of your No. 1 starter in the ALDS.

8:12 p.m. Robinson Cano is 2-for-2 and two hits shy of 200 on the season. He and Derek Jeter will soon be the fifth pair of Yankees to each collect 200 in a single season (Lou Gehrig-Earle Combs; Gehrig-Joe DiMaggio; Bernie Williams-Jeter; Williams-Alfonso Soriano).

lester_275_092509.jpg8:16 p.m. Lester took a Melky Cabrera line drive off his right kneecap. He’s laying prone on the field being attended by the Red Sox medical staff. He left the field limping to a nice ovation. The game will be delayed for a bit because new Boston pitcher Hunter Jones will get all the time he needs to warm up.

The hit plated a run to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead.

8:34 p.m. Victor Martinez ends Chamberlain’s brief flirtation with perfection. His two-out solo shot in the fourth puts Boston on the board.

8:37 p.m. Calm, cool and collected Chamberlain shakes off a two-out single by getting David Ortiz to tap his first pitch back to him. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for a report on Lester’s condition. Lester, by the way, allowed five earned runs in 2 1/3 IP, the most he’s given up since May 26.

8:50 p.m. X-Rays given to Lester were negative. He’s day-to-day with a contusion of right quad. This will be monitored, but it could have been a lot worse.

9:14 p.m. Breaking down Chamberlain’s fifth inning: Jason Bay single (7 pitches). J.D. Drew double (3). Jason Varitek pop up to third (1). Alex Gonzalez strike out (4). Jacoby Ellsbury ground out to first (2). Instead of imploding, Chamberlain quickly retired the No. 8 and 9 hitters and induced a .303 leadoff hitter to ground out. That’s answering your manager’s challenge.

9:32 p.m. David Ortiz goes yard and plates two with two out in what’s probably Chamberlain’s last inning. Nitpick about three runs allowed in six innings if that’s your thing, but Chamberlain needed to show some life and that’s what he did. He’s secured a Game 4 start in the ALCS (if the Yankees get there) from where I sit. He’ll work out of the bullpen during the DS when the Yankees take the extra off day and go with three starters. That’s when these Joba Rules you all love so much will be tossed into the Harlem River.

9:39 p.m. Great shot by YES’ cameras (the game’s on My9) of Dave Eiland talking to Chamberlain, Chamberlain listening and nodding intently, and Eiland ending the conversation with hands on both his shoulders and two slaps on his left one. If Andy Pettitte’s shoulder holds up, and Chamberlain and A.J. Burnett finish strong, the Yankees are fully loaded for October.

jeter_275_092509.jpg9:42 p.m. The Yankees’ six stolen bases tonight are a season high. They took a lot from that Angels series, didn’t they?

9:47 p.m. A-Rod has four RBIs and 93 on the season. Again, this is Game No. 118.

9:51 p.m. Mark Sanchez and Kerry Rhodes in the house. The 2-0 Jets host the Titans on Sunday. Even though Gang Green’s defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown yet, I’m taking Kimberly Jones’ advice and keeping Chris Johnson in my fantasy lineup.

10:16 p.m.
That stolen base count is now seven, two from Jeter. Talk about unveiling a new weapon.

10:37 p.m. It’s safe to say that Jonathan Albaladejo will not make the postseason roster.

10:46 p.m. Phil Hughes blows away Bay. It’s safe to say that Hughes will make the postseason roster.

Odds and ends

By Jon Lane
Odds and ends in the midst of the Yankees’ road trip:

? In an uproar over Brett Tomko shutting down the Yankees Monday night? Once he reverts to form, nobody will be playing hindsight 20-20 over why Tomko wasn’t given a shot at being their fifth starter.

? A.J. Burnett drives you nuts at times, but he’s been clutch and accountable. During the fateful fourth inning – he balked in the second of Oakland’s three runs that left he and Jorge Posada discussing mixed signals – Burnett refused to put any blame on Posada, despite this being the second straight start the two had similar issues.

“We’ve been using the same signs all year. It’s just a matter of me not seeing it, or seeing something different,” Burnett said. “There’s really nothing to correct. We’ve been doing wonderful, but two games in a row, I’ve crossed him up. I don’t know who’s fault it was tonight, but I’m pretty sure it was mine.

“Don’t do it again,” he added. “Pay more attention, I guess. Not be an idiot.”

That’s more than what I can say about Randy Johnson during his time here. And honestly, why would anyone want someone other than Posada as the Yankees’ everyday catcher? I’m dying for an explanation.

? Brett Gardner will see a doctor Wednesday and if cleared will begin a rehab assignment, reports Peter Abraham. Melky Cabrera is buckling under the pressure of playing every day. He’s six for his last 52 and his batting average has plummeted 21 points since Gardner was disabled July 26. The duo has been an effective tandem, giving each other a blow and providing different elements to the game. The Yankees have also missed Gardner’s breakneck speed and grit, crucial components to a stretch run.

The growing legend of Carsten Charles

sabathia_250_081409.jpg
By Jon Lane
Reputations in New York are made during crunch time. This is why many
people are demanding Alex Rodriguez, a three-time MVP, to show them
something. It’s also the biggest reason why the Yankees were hell-bent
on signing CC Sabathia.

This is the time of year when Sabathia demands the baseball and once he
gets it, he’s must-see television. While others wilt under the hot
August nights, September spotlight and Red October, Sabathia has proven
he’s capable of carrying an entire team – a whole franchise – on his
back.

He’s doing it again. Thursday night in Seattle, Sabathia allowed a run
on three hits in eight innings with 10 strikeouts – at the time of year
when it’s critical not to overwork a bullpen, especially with Sergio
Mitre and Chad Gaudin starting this weekend. Sabathia is 5-1 with a
2.98 ERA in his last six games and has surrendered only two earned runs
while whiffing 19 over his previous 15 2/3 innings.

I wrote in March that the fate of the 2009 Yankees rests on Sabathia.
We’ve seen this season that everyone from Sabathia to A.J. Burnett,
from Melky Cabrera to Ramiro Pena to Francisco Cervelli, has
contributed greatly. The difference is that if the season is down to an
elimination game, it won’t be Kevin Brown, Jaret Wright or Javier
Vazquez on the mound. Sabathia’s 19 wins and 209 strikeouts in 241
innings pitched won him a Cy Young Award in 2007 and the way he carried
the Brewers to the postseason the following year was more than enough
to convince the Yankees he’ll handle New York in the biggest of spots.

“Check his track record, bro,” said Nick Swisher in April. “That’s it. Check his track record.”

Let’s review:
? Mere hours after the Yankees used five relievers and won a 15-inning
classic over the Red Sox, Sabathia allowed two hits, walked two and
struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings, tying his season high of 123 pitches,
and didn’t allow a runner past second base.
 
? He’s 31-9 career with a 3.14 ERA lifetime in August, 18-2 in the last
four years and lined up to start the finale of Yankees-Red Sox a week
from Sunday in Boston.

? Those numbers in Milwaukee following his trade from Cleveland: 11-2
with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts, his last four coming on three days’ rest.
The day the Brewers clinched a postseason berth, Sabathia tossed his
10th complete game, the most in one season since Randy Johnson threw 12
in 1999.

There’s one big blemish: He’s 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA in five postseason
starts, the last a Game 2 NLDS loss to the Phillies when he was raked
for five runs in 3 2/3 innings. That was his fourth on three days’
rest, which won’t happen with the Yankees. There’s no need to carry
this team, not with an MVP candidate (Mark Teixeira) an ace riding
shotgun (Burnett) and one of October’s best performers (Andy Pettitte),
but Sabathia will do it because he wants to. It’s one of two missing
pieces of his baseball life.

Showdown Series: Game 1 diary

By Jon Lane
A sunny day so far here at Yankee Stadium. There was rain in this morning’s forecast, but it looks like it’ll hold up.

A couple of historical quick hits and what to watch for:

Thirty years ago tonight, Bobby Murcer drove in all five runs of the Yankees’ 5-4 win over the Orioles hours after delivering the eulogy at Thurman Munson’s funeral. Murcer’s two-run single off Tippy Martinez in the bottom of the ninth won the game.

Two years ago tomorrow, Joba Chamberlain, tonight’s starter, made his Major League debut at Toronto when he closed out a 9-2 Yankees win by allowing a hit, walking two and striking out two in two scoreless innings. Chamberlain began the campaign at Single-A Tampa before promotions to Double-A Trenton (6/11) and Triple-A Scranton (7/24).

The Yankees will pay tribute to Muhammad Ali before the game and hold a moment of silence for George Murray, who passed away on Tuesday after losing his battle with ALS.

Back with more later with news and notes. Here are tonight’s lineups.

5:57 p.m.
News and notes from both clubhouses:

? Anthony Claggett is still here. Joe Girardi is comfortable with having an extra arm at his disposal at least for the start of this series, but he implied that Ramiro Pena will soon be back with the big club.

? Brett Gardner, out since July 25 with a fractured left thumb, will get his cast off the beginning of next week and have another X-Ray.

“It’s tough to sit back and watch, but at the same time at least I’m not out for longer,” Gardner said. “I don’t know yet how long I’m going to be out for, but the main thing is I didn’t have to have surgery. This thing is going to heal on its own and I should be back in a couple of weeks.”

? David Ortiz and incoming Major League Players Association director Michael Weiner will meet the media on Saturday to discuss last week’s report that Ortiz failed a test in 2003 for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Boston Globe. Ortiz has one hit in his last 14 at-bats, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona hasn’t noticed any distraction or difference in Big Papi’s demeanor.

“I see him handling things very well,” Francona said. “Because he DHs, he’s not a guy I’ll follow around during a game anyway.”

? BoSox outfielder Rocco Baldelli was placed on the disabled list after fouling a ball off his foot and ankle during batting practice Wednesday night in St. Petersburg. With Baldelli on the DL and Jason Bay out with strained right hamstring/quad muscle, outfielder Josh Reddick was recalled from Triple-A. And in a surprise twist, Kevin Youkilis volunteered to play left field. Youkilis appeared in two games in right last season and 18 career games in left – all in 2006.

“The more I thought about it, it’s a way of getting a lot of good bats in the lineup, and he’s willing to do it, which amazes me,” Francona said. “I told him we’ll do it.”

Francona didn’t completely rule it out, but there is a chance Bay could miss the whole four-game series.

6:50 p.m.
A sign draped from the concourse above the Mohegan Sun sports bar read: “Papi, need a little juice?” Security quickly confiscated it.

6:51 p.m.
Muhammad Ali, who presented Yankee Stadiumwith the “Six Star Diamond Award,” is introduced to the crowd to a nice ovation. While be escorted around the field in a golf cart, Ali is waving and pointing to fans. Derek Jeter went to greet Ali and the whole team joined them for a group photo.

7:11 p.m.
First pitch 7:08, a strike to Jacoby Ellsbury. Two pitches later he grounds out to second base. We’re off an running.

7:17 p.m.
Before the game I thought David Ortiz would be received no worse than usual. Scratch that. The boos are loud and there are faint “steroids” chants. Nice work by Chamberlain to retire Papi on a fly out to right with two on and two out. You figure it’s going to be one of these games in which the tone is set not by dominance, but by escaping crisis situations and delivering in the pinch.

7:45 p.m
Through two innings Chamberlain has showed grit. A double and walk put the first two Red Sox batters on base, but Chamberlain bounced back with three straight outs, the last two on strikeouts that had the Stadium rocking.

8:13 p.m.
Chamberlain has been flirting with disaster all night. Dustin Pedroia opened the third with a solo homer that gave Boston a 1-0 lead. After walking the next two batters, Chamberlain got Ortiz to ground into a double play and J.D. Drew to fly out to center. However, he’s thrown 64 pitches through three innings and the Yankees wasted a golden opportunity in the second when Jorge Posada was thrown out at home plate. His mistake was not sliding on what was a high throw by Pedroia, but why send him when you could have had bases loaded, one out and Smoltz on the ropes?

So far, we’re seeing sample sizes of why the Yankees are 0-8 against the Red Sox.

8:16 p.m
Johnny Damon goes yard to right to tie the game 1-1. It was a carbon copy of Pedroia’s blast that’s been exclusive to this new yard all season. Mark Teixiera just doubled. Business is picking up.

8:27 p.m.
Casey Kotchman homers to – where else? – right field. 3-1, Boston.

8:45 p.m.
The Melk Man
delivers. Three-run bomb to right (this was legit). 5-3 Yankees, the
first time they’ve led the Red Sox in this park.

9:08 p.m.
Jorge Posada’s three-run home bounced off the wall that houses Monument Park. Smoltz lit up for eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings and the Red Sox sampled what the Yankees had to endure with Billy Traber last season.

The Yankees have completed an eight-run bottom of the fourth that took 34 minutes. They sent 12 men to the plate and lead 9-3. If they blow this they will go 0-19 against the Red Sox.

9:26 p.m.
This sums up Chamberlain’s evening: He walks the bases loaded and allows a run-scoring single before ending the fifth with strikeouts of Kotchman and Nick Green (starting shortstop Jed Lowrie left the game with an irritated left forearm). That’s it for Joba (5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 108 pitches/62 strikes), who wasn’t the pitcher he’s been in the second half.

9:33 p.m.
Billy Traber stinks.

9:50 p.m.
It’s Phil Coke vs. David Ortiz with two on and two out in the sixth inning. Alas, it’s 11-4, Yankees.

9:53 p.m.
Ortiz pops out to short. Big Papi is 0-for-4 and one for his last 18.

10:01 p.m.
This release from the Yankees. Your new fifth starter?

YANKEES ACQUIRE RHP CHAD GAUDIN
The New York Yankees tonight announced they have acquired right-handed pitcher Chad Gaudin from the San Diego Padres in exchange for a player to be named later.

Gaudin (pronounced Go-DAN), 26, was 4-10 with a 5.13 ERA (105.1IP, 60ER), 105 strikeouts and 56 walks in 20 games (19 starts) with the San Diego Padres this season.  He held his opponents to three earned runs or less in 12 of his 19 starts, including five straight from July 8-31, and earned National League “co-Player of the Week” honors (with Florida’s Hanley Ramirez) for the period ending 6/28, after going 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA and striking out 20 batters in 15.0 innings pitched.

He owns a 32-35 career record with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 205 games (69 starts) over parts of seven seasons with Tampa Bay (2003-04), Toronto (2005), Oakland (2006-08), Chicago-NL (2008) and San Diego (2009).  In 69 career starts, Gaudin is 20-28 with a 4.85 ERA, striking out 306 batters in 378.2 innings pitched with a .276 opponent’s batting average.  He is 12-7 with a 4.00 ERA in 136 relief appearances, striking out 125 batters in 175.2 innings pitched with a .260 opponent’s average.

In addition, Gaudin made three scoreless relief appearances for the Athletics in the 2006 American League Championship Series against Detroit (3.1IP, 2H, 3BB, 1K).

Born in New Orleans, La., he was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the 34th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.

10:14 p.m.
A nugget on Gaudin: He one-hit the Yankees for seven innings in a 7-0 win on June 30, 2007 pitching for the A’s.

10:22 p.m.
Mark Teixeira goes yard off poor Billy Traber. It’s 12-4, Yankees, yet they’ve employed four pitchers tonight compared to Boston’s two. I’m just sayin’.

10:33 p.m.
It’s a 12-4 game and there’s still drama. Dustin Pedroia didn’t take too kindly to being hit in the shoulder by Mark Melancon. Jorge Posada had to calm him down en route to first base.

Melky hits for the cycle

By: Joe Auriemma

melkycycleblog.jpgFor the first time in 14 years a Yankee hit for the cycle. With Melky Cabrera’s triple in the 9th inning Sunday, he forever has entered the Yankee record books. Here are the last six players to hit for the cycle in Yankees history:

First New York Yankee cycle since 1995

Melky Cabrera            Today

Tony Fernandez          9/3/95

Bobby Murcer            8/29/72

Mickey Mantle            7/23/57

Joe DiMaggio             5/20/48

Joe Gordon                9/8/40

Thanks to YES Research Director Jeff Quagliata for the information.

HOPE Week: Day 1

By Jon Lane
The Yankees kicked off HOPE Week today when Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and Joe Girardi paid a visit to the Chiappetta family. Each helped donate athletic equipment and food vouchers to their organization, the Patchwork of Young Leaders Society.

In the summer of 2006, Marco and Jennifer Chiappetta were married and
returned to their roots in Washington Heights.
While taking walks together, they were saddened by the sight of local
schoolyards that had been abandoned by children. Inspired to make a difference, Marco visited a park near his home to engage in athletics with whomever
wanted to play. His hope was that emotional connections on the
schoolyard could eventually spark a change in the culture of the
neighborhood.

Within a month, upwards of 60 teenagers began showing up to enjoy the
camaraderie and positive atmosphere of Marco’s activities. The couple
also opened their home to these children, offering stability and
encouragement many had never experienced. Even
for kids whose parents took an active interest in them, Marco and
Jennifer served as a bridge between the generations.

As time has
passed, the original children have become mentors themselves. As for Marco and Jennifer, who personally funded many of the group’s grassroots efforts from their own personal savings, they formalized their activist work into the Patchwork of Young Leaders Society. For more information or to donate, click here.

Tonight, the Chiappettas, the teenagers and some of the teenagers’ parents will attend the Yankees-Orioles game as special guests of the team.

An alternative Halladay proposal

By Jon Lane
Anthony Rieber, Newsday‘s fine and entertaining sports reporter, opines that the Yankees need to bring Roy Halladay to the Bronx. But rather than sell the farm, Rieber suggests the Yankees do the Blue Jays a favor and offer them financial relief by agreeing to take on Vernon Wells’ bloated contract.

Wells, 30, is due nearly $110 million through 2014. That’s insane. But here’s the alternative to dealing Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero: The Yankees offer Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera, a couple of lower-level pitching prospects and nothing more, writes Rieber while reminding what little the Mets surrendered to pry Johan Santana from the Twins – without taking on a huge contract. And it’s not like Wells is exactly washed up. He may no longer be an All-Star, but the excitement of a championship chase in New York may energize him.

Either one team will go all-in, or the winner (if any by July 31) of the Halladay sweepstakes will be the one that held out the longest to force Toronto to take what it can get. Rieber’s strategy presents a suitable alternative to those opposed to selling the farm.

Yankees at the break

By Jon Lane
The Good: The Yankees are 14 games over .500. They are three behind the Red Sox in the American League East and lead the Wild Card by two-and-a-half games over the Rangers. Expectations in this city, for this team, are often ridiculous, which Chris Shearn pointed out this morning, and perceptions change more often than toll collectors during rush hour. For the most part there’s been a vibe about this team we haven’t seen in years, and that includes the later Joe Torre teams that made the playoffs. Furthermore, the Yankees are much better than last season. That is indisputable.

The Yankees have received better-than-expected contributions from Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera. The duo is batting a combined .283 with 11 homers, 53 RBI and 23 stolen bases, lest we forget Gardner’s mad – and inspirational – inside-the-park home run and Cabrera’s .375/2/14 in close-or-late situations (of his 34 RBIs, 12 have either tied or put the Yankees ahead after the seventh inning). The Yankees had a deal in place to send Cabrera to Milwaukee for Mike Cameron and a one-year stop-gap in center, and Cameron is .258/14/42/4. With Gardner, Cabrera and Eric Hinske playing well, the Yankees have outfield depth and absolutely no reason to rush Austin Jackson.

Hinske has three home runs in 12 at-bats with the Yankees, two more than he hit in 106 at-bats with the Pirates before he was acquired in a trade on June 30.

Phil Hughes in relief: 18.1 innings, seven hits, two runs, five walks, 19 Ks. He has solved the Yankees’ eighth-inning problem; a bullpen operates at peak performances when each reliever knows and excels in his given role. Here’s hoping this is a warm-up to many great years as a starting pitcher. And Hughes will be a starter. You don’t groom promising and electric young arms to be eighth-inning or middle relievers their whole careers. Look at Johan Santana.

Playing in likely his final season in New York, Hideki Matsui is 12 of his last 30 with four homers and 12 RBI. He’s .265-14-40 in 234 at-bats (78 games) as a full-time DH. Not bad for a veteran of both Japan and the Major Leagues now playing on shot knees.

Playing in the second of a 10-year, $275-million contract, Alex Rodriguez is 22 of his last 59 (.373) with eight homers, 22 RBI and 17 runs scored and batting.256. Not bad for someone whose game is back in form after missing the season’s first month recovering from hip surgery and with a second one awaiting him this winter.

The not-so-good: The Yankees’ 51-37 record is impressive. The fact that they’re 2-9 against the Red Sox and Angels is alarming. Any visions of a 27th World Championship will go through Anaheim and Boston. If the season ended today, the Yankees would play the Angels in a five-game series with at most three in Southern California.

Since 2004, the Yankees are 18-33 against the Angels overall and 7-18 at Angels Stadium. And guess what? They play the Red Sox and Angels 13 more times between now and the end of the season, including a return trip to Anaheim September 21-23, and after an off day, a three-game set at Yankee Stadium September 25-27 that may decide the AL East – and if the Rays have any say, possibly the playoff fate of either the Yankees or Red Sox.

Andy Pettitte is 8-5 with a 4.85 ERA, yet in his last four starts is 1-2 with a 10.38 ERA. He’s shown flashes of the old Pettitte, but you wonder more and more how much he has left.

Joba Chamberlain is 4-2 with a 4.25 ERA, but he’s had a no-decision in 11 of 17 starts and is off three straight  in which he’s allowed nine hits or more. He’s pitched into the seventh inning once since June 7 and a combined eight over his last two. For the past couple of weeks the back-end of the Yankees rotation has been unreliable while Chien-Ming Wang’s potentially lost season leaves a gaping hole. Will the Yankees be compelled to go all-in for Roy Halladay?

In between: CC Sabathia is 7-3 with a 3.43 ERA while holding opposing hitters to a .218 batting average since May and A-Rod’s return. Overall, though, he’s 8-6, 3.86. With a great seven-inning effort at Minnesota in between, here are Sabathia’s two other pitching lines this month:

July 2 vs. Seattle: 5 2/3 IP, 10 H, six R, three BB, eight K, one HR (loss)
July 12 at L.A. Angels: 6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 BB, six K (loss)

“So, so,” Sabathia said of his first 19 starts after Sunday’s game. “I was in a pretty good slot for a while, but I need to do better.”

Sabathia’s been a strong second-half pitcher his whole career (3.39 ERA/1.21 WHIP/.243 BAA compared to 3.89/1.26/.249). It’s one reason the Yankees spent big money to get him and they’ll be hoping for another yeoman effort, especially if not even a serviceable fifth starter can be had at the trade deadline.

Do the Yankees need another outfielder?

By Glenn Giangrande

With Xavier Nady seemingly done for the year, do the Yankees need another corner outfielder?

Let’s assume that Brett Gardner’s red-hot June continues, giving him the starting job in center that he lost to Melky Cabrera earlier this year. Melky COULD slide over to right, but would having Gardner and Cabrera together in the lineup be detrimental to the offense? Say yes for the sake of argument. Nick Swisher is an adventure out in right, and Johnny Damon’s defense has clearly taken a step back in left. The Yanks would do wise to bring in one more outfielder with the versatility to handle left or right.

The perfect fit? Mark DeRosa.

A New Jersey native, DeRosa was a guest on Batting Practice Today earlier this season, saying he’d love to play for the Yankees before his career ends. He’s in the final year of a three-year contract that he signed with the Cubs, who traded him to the Indians over the winter. Cleveland appears headed for a rebuilding phase, with ace pitcher Cliff Lee being rumored to be on the block. If he was on the Yankees right now, DeRosa’s bat would qualify as the second best among players able to handle the outfield behind Damon’s – I’m not counting Hideki Matsui, whose knees have betrayed him. DeRosa is probably best known as an infielder, but he’s got a fair amount of experience in the outfield, having started a total of 179 games in right field and left field combined. In 216 total games counting those in which he moved to one of those positions, he’s made only two errors.

Prior to the news developing concerning Nady’s likely need for Tommy John surgery, Brian Cashman was quoted as saying that the Yankees didn’t need a bat and that “all the bats are here.” If his perspective has changed, the idea of DeRosa is one the Yankees would do well to pursue.

That winning feeling

By Jon Lane
The fact that the Yankees are 32-22 and tied for first place is nice enough. How they continue to find ways to win along with an unshakable confidence that there’s always a chance to win is one of the remarkable storylines of the season. Even during an eventual loss Wednesday night, cameras caught A.J. Burnett gesturing to his teammates, “That’s one,” after Jorge Posada’s seventh-inning home run trimmed the Yankees’ deficit from three to two.

There’s an amazing vibe around the team that has carried over to every game. Melky Cabrera’s eighth-inning heroics on Thursday led the Yankees to their league-leading 19th come-from-behind victory and it was the second time they rallied from down at least four runs.

“I think our club feels that we could come back at any time,” said Joe Girardi. “Sometimes when we don’t get it done we feel like, ‘Wow, we didn’t get it done.’ There is confidence in that clubhouse. Keep us close and give us a chance.”

Jerome Preisler was with me at the game outlines a series of subplots that defined the win, including Cabrera ducking Burnett’s attempt at another pie to the face.

_______________________

Don’t look now, but the beleaguered bullpen has allowed only one run over their last 11 innings (Ian Kinsler’s solo homer off Alfredo Aceves on Thursday). During the Yankees’ current 17-5 run, relievers are averaging more than three innings a game and are 6-3 with a 3.15 ERA.

David Robertson, who needed to throw only one pitch to earn the win, is 5-0 in his career with two one-pitch victories, owns a 2.08 ERA in 11 appearances this season and may finally stick around awhile.

“Guys are starting to settle into their roles now,” said pitching coach Dave Eiland. “Early on, guys were pitching out of their roles and the starters weren’t going as deep in their games, and guys not used to going multiple innings were going multiple innings and came back on shorter rest. It starts and stops with starting pitching. If they can take us to the middle or late innings, the bullpen has a way of working itself out.”