It’s Game 3 of this four game set! Yankees go for the series win tonight, Angels go to try to get one game back. Here is your starting lineup!
Ivan Nova RHP
On Monday, David Robertson converted his first save for the New York Yankees this season.
Mariano Rivera was unavailable, so Robertson came in after Boone Logan gave up a leadoff single to open the ninth inning. He walked Mike Trout, and then proceeded to give up a bloop RBI double to Josh Hamilton to put runners on second and third with one out.
After intentionally walking Eric Aybar, Robertson struck out Mark Trumbo on just three pitches. Then, he struck out Yankee castoff Chris Nelson on a 3-2 fastball up near his face, and the Yankees hung on to win 2-1.
Robertson has been one of the best relievers in MLB over the course of his five year career. This year has been par for the course for Robertson, as he has a 1.81 ERA and has struck out 10.9 K/9. That strikeout rate is slightly down from his 11.8 K/9 career rate, but he has compensated for that with a career high 47.4% GB rate. Despite all of this there is a sentiment among Yankee fans that Robertson would struggle as a closer. I just don’t get it.
This started last year when Robertson struggled to replace Mariano Rivera after his injury and got replaced by Rafael Soriano. He blew three saves in five chances last year, but that is way too small of a sample size to be conclusive of anything.
The main argument against Robertson is that he throws too many pitches and puts too many batters on base to be a successful closer.While that was true earlier in his career, it is no longer the case anymore. Robertson has a .99 WHIP and has averaged 15.88 pitches per inning this year. He has cut down on his walks dramatically from earlier in his career. From 2009-2011, Robertson averaged 4.76 BB/9 and in the almost two years since he has averaged 2.77 BB/9.
So, Robertson has greatly cut down on his walks and is much more economical than he used to be. He generates more ground balls than ever with his cutter, while maintaining a very high strikeout rate. His cutter and curve are both devastating pitches. What’s not to like?
Robertson has all the physical tools to be the next closer and the mental toughness. He has retired an unfathomable 25 straight batters with the bases loaded, earning him his “Houdini” nickname. Since 2011, Robertson has stranded 87.2% of base runners . He has shown that he will not get flustered in any situation. The ninth inning as opposed to the eighth inning should not change that.
Nobody will ever be what Mariano Rivera is for the Yankees, so if that is what the expectations for Robertson are then he will fail. However, if you’re expectations are that Robertson will be a very good closer, I think he will be just that. There have been no signs that say otherwise, despite what many seem to think.
It’s not a secret that Derek Jeter is the Captain of the New York Yankees. His presence in the clubhouse, how he keeps his composure after tough losses and how he has that mentality that if it’s not broken, he can play is what makes him one of the greatest Yankees alive. When reporters go to the clubhouse, they anticipate going to see what wisdom Derek Jeter has for them today. What knowledge he’s going to instill in their brain, what sarcastic humor he has up his sleeve. The Yankees are a gigantic ship and Derek Jeter is their Captain.
But when Derek Jeter was constantly out of the lineup this season, the team started to look lost and confused, losing games constantly and feeling as if there was no hope for their play-off dreams. I remember discussing Derek Jeter’s injuries and the Yankees troubles with my mother one day, and the words that came out of her mouth had me thinking long and hard for the next couple of months:
“The Yankees ship can’t go anywhere if it doesn’t have a captain to steer them.”
The Yankees looked as if they were giving up, as if all was hopeless for the team. They still weren’t doing their best on the field and they became defeated–until the media decided to speak to the normally quiet Brett Gardner. For the last couple of seasons, Gardner was just one of the guys in the clubhouse. He was quiet, he never had much to say and he continued to try to keep his starting job in left field. But after a tough loss, something sparked Gardner to talk to the media, about what Derek Jeter had taught him.
“One thing I’ve really learned from Jeet over the years. He’s not here right now, but he’s been so good at turning the page. Doesn’t matter if you are 0-for-5 or 5-or-5, or if we win or lose, we’ve got a game tomorrow. As soon as we walk out here tonight, we’ve got to focus on getting ready to play tomorrow.”
Ever since Brett Gardner uttered those words, I never looked at him the same again. Before that night, he was one of the guys just trying to get on base like he normally does in order to help the team win. But that night, he became someone–a leader. The times that he was quiet, he would spend it observing Derek Jeter, what Derek Jeter would do, what Derek Jeter would say, how Derek Jeter would handle a situation. Gardner would observe everything and in the end, it seemed like he was the one to learn the most from the Captain. From that moment on, Gardner became a huge catalyst on the team, driving in runs, getting on base, giving up his body for the game of baseball, playing hard and gritty as he always does, all to make sure that his team would reach victory.
He took it upon himself to create a new walk-off tradition after A.J Burnett took his pies to Pittsburgh. He thought of Gatorade. He would pour Gatorade on players that hit a walk-off. It became a hit with the crowd and soon, he was the one being doused in his own walk-off creation after saving the Yankees from two extra losses this past weekend. Joe Girardi would quip that Gardner enjoyed the walk-off tradition more than anyone on the team, and that when the time came, he should be a football coach just to take baths in Gatorade after a victory.
Gardner was even talking to the media more, the media wanting insight on what happened each night, his thoughts on a particular player. Typical Gardner would nod politely, give his opinion as professionally as possible and still find some ways to bring the win around the team, even if he was the one that hit a game winning base-hit or saved a play in the outfield. With Gardner it was all about the team, something he learned from Derek Jeter. He would sign things for kids, he was more active around the team, he showed he was the heart and hustle, hence winning the 2013 Heart and Hustle Award. He proved he had love for the game and it wasn’t about the money. He enjoys being out there and it’s evident every time that he goes to the plate.
When he messes up and gets tossed from a game, he goes back the next day to apologize to the umpire for what he believes was his irrational behavior. When he doesn’t make a catch that he thought he could make, he vows to his teammates and to himself that he’ll get the next one. When the chips are down and things look impossible for the Yankees, Gardner steps up.
Joe Girardi took a notice to Brett Gardner’s leadership behavior and frankly, he has been impressed by the young spunky outfielder.
“Gardy is fiery, and I think his personality comes out. It’s been great having him all year. As I said, we really missed him last year – what he’s capable of doing. His personality has definitely come out this year. It’s good.”
When Jeter returns from the disabled list, the job of Captain will once again be his, but us Yankees fans can never forget to thank Brett Gardner for being the one to step up and keeping other teams from sinking our battleship.
It’s the final game of a three game set and here is your starting lineup!
As a Yankees fan who grew up in the Yankees’ dynasty and early 2000 years this is the first bad Yankees team that I have experienced in my lifetime. Watching the team this year has been very painful at times and certainly not as fun as it was during those years. I would look forward to the Yankee game that night all day back then when I was in school. That has certainly not been the case this year. I have always said to spoiled Yankees fans how we should appreciate the Yankees teams from 2001-2012, and this year has cemented that.
Andrew Mearns of Pinstriped Bible, wrote an excellent piece on this topic that inspired me to write about this subject. The Yankees dynasty years from 1996-2000 put unreasonable expectations into the heads of many Yankees fans. Win the World Series or the season was a failure. That is just not the case.
This 2013 Yankees season is what you would call an utter failure, assuming it ends the way it looks like it’s going to. The Yankees are 25th in MLB in home runs, 27th in runs, 29th in wOBA and 29th in wRC+. That is an utter disaster. A Yankees team that wins over 95 games and the AL East, but loses in the ALDS or ALCS is not.
For any other franchise making the playoffs 10 out of 11 seasons, with nine division championships, a World Series championship and two other World Series appearances would be considered one of the greatest decades in franchise history. Yet, somehow with the Yankees it is looked upon as a failure. The Yankees won over 95 games an incredible 10 times over that span and over 100 games four times. Those were some really fun teams to watch.
The 2002 Yankees are a great example of this. That team had one of the most dominant regular seasons in Yankees history. They scored almost 900 runs and hit 223 home runs.
They were lead by a near 40-40 season from Alfonso Soriano and Jason Giambi, who had an incredible 1.034 OPS that season. Nick Johnson and Rondell White, who were probably the two worst regular hitters that season, would be two of the better hitters on the 2013 Yankees for most of the year.
The starting pitching was also stellar, led by Mike Mussina, David Wells, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez. Despite all of this, they are remembered as chokers because they lost the ALDS to the eventual World Series champion Angels. Four games overruled 162.
The 2003 season is remembered a little more fondly because of the epic Aaron Boone game winning home run in Game 7 of the ALCS vs. Boston. However, there are some fans who remember that year more for blowing the 2-1 World Series lead to the heavily underdog Marlins.
2004-2007 featured more really awesome teams that did not reach the ultimate goal of a championship. Those teams won three division titles and had some incredible moments and performances. They averaged 904 runs a year over those years, including approaching 1,000 in 2007, with an incredible 968 runs.
We witnessed two of the greatest seasons in Yankees history from Alex Rodriguez in 2005 (.321/.421/.610/1.031 with 48 home runs and 130 RBI) and 2007 (.314/.422/.645/ 1.067 with 54 home runs and 156 RBI. I remember being just mesmerized watching A-Rod in those years. We may never witness seasons like that from a player in a Yankees uniform ever again. Yet, they are just glossed over because A-Rod’s Yankees did not win championships.
In the 2005 season the Yankees made an incredible comeback from eight games under .500 to 29 over by season’s end. They had an incredible murderers row of Rodriguez (1.031 OPS), Giambi (.975 OPS), Gary Sheffield (.891 OPS) and Hideki Matsui (.863 OPS). Cano’s OPS of .860 this year would be fifth on that team! But, hey who cares right they lost in the ALDS.
The 2006 team won 97 games, had four hitters with an OPS over .890 (Jeter, Cano, Rodriguez and Giambi). Melky Cabrera, who had the lowest .OPS among regulars with a .752 OPS, would rank 2nd on the 2013 Yankees! Of course they are only remembered for the disaster against Detroit in the ALDS when Joe Torre hit Rodriguez 8th.
That dominant 2007 team that I mentioned is only remembered for Joba Chamberlain and the midges in the ALDS against Cleveland. Who cares that it was one of the greatest offenses in Yankees history and that it was eight games under .500 in late May and came back to win 97 games. Again, Cabrera was the least productive Yankee regular (.273/.327/.391.718), but his numbers would make him the third best hitter for the Yankees this year.
A playoff less 2008 season should have humbled fans, although an 89 win season with a mountain of injuries was not even a terrible season. Then, the championship in 2009 made everybody cocky again that nothing less would be expected.
2010-2012 was very similar to 2004-2007. They won 95 games all three years, won the AL East twice and advanced to the ALCS twice. Yet, it just wasn’t enough for some people.
Now, here we are in 2013 with a team that is an egregious offensive team, has only two starting pitchers performing well and they might not even finish above .500. There have been very few fun games and exciting moments, very few individual performances that wowed you and very few players that you have looked forward to watching. This team pales in comparison to those teams, yet those teams are somehow looked upon in a negative light?
Obviously, it sucked watching the Yankees lose in the playoffs all those times. That does not change the fact that those were excellent baseball teams, with some outstanding players, and they were an absolute joy to watch. They should be remembered upon as a great time in franchise history and not a time of disappointment.
Hopefully, this season will make those spoiled fans remember just how good those years were. With the current state of the franchise who knows how long it will take for them to get back to that level. I know that I am longing for those days right now.
The Yankees season-killing road trip came to a merciful end last night in Chicago as the lowly White Sox finished off their 3-game sweep with a 6-5 win highlighted by 2 come from behind rallies in the 9th and 12th innings, when down to their final out both times. The loss leaves them 6.5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card with 4 teams in front of them including KC and Cleveland as the Yanks dropped to 57-56. At just 1 game over .500, it is their lowest point since April 14th when they were 6-5.
This game was especially frustrating because in some ways there were a lot of bright spots but the team floundered opportunities and Girardi made some puzzling decisions. The offense has been brutal all year and coming into the game had gone 7 straight games without scoring more than 3 runs. So when they erupted for 4 runs in the first 4 innings, things looked great with a 4-0 lead. For the game they scored 5 runs on 3 HRs, 11 Hits and 8 Walks….a veritable offensive explosion for this team. Eduardo Nunez had his best game of the season with his first HR, a Double to deep left-center, a line drive single to right, 2 Walks and a Stolen Base. Now that he’s healthy and Jeter is shelved again, Nunez has a chance to show if he’s good enough to be in the team’s future plans at SS and games like last night’s showcase the potential he has. Still just 26, his defense is vastly improved this year but he has to show some offensive consistency now.
Another bright spot was the rebound of CC Sabathia. Everyone knows how bad CC has been lately with the team losing all of his last 4 starts while he’s allowed 22 Earned Runs in 19.2 IP The big Ace finally pitched like one for the first 6 innings and despite giving up 2 runs in the 7th, left the game after 7.1 with a 4-3 lead – so all told, a positive outing for CC. Hopefully it is something he can build upon although he had just 1 strikeout and the Sox hitters seemed to have good swings at his once dominating Changeup. Many commentators have suggested that CC isn’t getting enough of a difference between his FB and Change as there’s only been a 5-6 MPH difference in velocity his last few starts. There may be something to this……CC has always thrown a harder Change – more like a BP Fastball but over the last few yrs the difference from his FB has gotten less and less. In his early years with CLE there was a 8-10 MPH difference and in his first year in NY it was a 7.7 MPH difference. Last yr it diminished to 6.3 and has been about the same this year. As CC loses more velocity on his FB, a wider gap between his FB and Change would be advisable rather than the smaller gap we’ve seen. There is little deception in the pitch right now and with batters not having to respect his diminished FB, it’s a recipe for danger. Hopefully CC cn make the necessary adjustment.
Say it Ain’t So Joe
I’ve often scratched my head at some of Joe Girardi’s in-game decisions over the years but by-in-large, he’s done a solid job this year keeping the team in the race as long as it was with their pathetic lineup. But last night, I constantly found myself disagreeing with Joe’s strategy and decision-making. Here are the 2 things that got me yelling at the TV set:
1) Clinging to a 4-3 lead, the Yanks had 1st and 2nd with 0 Outs in the top of the 8th inning and Lyle Overbay At Bat vs LHP David Purcey. We all know Overbay has been anemic vs LHP hitting .202/.245/.309, 46 RC+. This was a CLEAR bunting situation and Girardi had several options on who he wanted to bunt. He could have left Overbay in who hasn’t had a Sac Bunt in 2 years. He could have used RH hitters Nix, Adams or Chris Stewart or lefty hitter Ichiro. Those 4 are perhaps the teams best bunters. If for some reason, Joe didn’t want to bunt then he should have used any of the aforementioned 4 players to Pinch Hit. Any of those options would be better than what he elected to do, which was let Overbay swing away. What followed was a weak grounder to 3rd for a tailor-made 5-5-3 Double Play and end of rally. Brutal managing!
2) Going into the bottom of the 11th, with short-relievers Preston Claiborne, Shawn Kelley & Boone Logan all still available, Girardi elected to go with long-man Adam Warren. A questionable decision in my eyes with his trio of short relievers all available, why go to Warren there. It worked out in the beginning as Warren threw a scoreless 11th and Cano led of the 12th with a HR to give the Yanks a 1-run lead. At that point, I figured Joe would surely go to Claiborne or Kelley to close the game. After all, Claiborne has allowed just 1 run in his last 10.1 IP and has a sterling 2.13 ERA on the season. Instead, Warren pitched the 12th and after getting 2 outs, allowed 3 straight hits to win it for CHI including a 2-out triple to DeAza. With 2 on and 2 out, perhaps Logan could have been used against the lefty DeAza. Oh well.
There were a lot of other frustrating parts of the game….all of the missed opportunities to add on to the lead and the poor baserunning by Nix who was used as a pinch runner in the 11th for Romine. With no outs and Gardner up, Joe finalyy called for a hit-and-run. Gardner popped uo to very shallow RF and since the 2B Beckham was near the bag for the steal, he couldn’t get back to make the catch. However, Nix was caught in no-man’s land and was sprinting back towards first when the ball landed. he reversed direction when he saw Beckham fall down and the ball drop, but Nix fell flat on his face (literally) and couldn’t get up in time to run to 2nd base and was forced out. Instead of 2 on and no outs for Ichiro, ARod and Cano, the rally was stunted. Just frustrating loss to sum up a frustrating season.
Yankees try to salvage the final game of this three game set, so they bring in CC Sabathia who has been struggling of late. Here’s your starting lineup!
LHP CC Sabathia
When Austin Romine first came up to the Yankees after Francisco Cervelli’s injury it was thought that he would split time with Chris Stewart and be given an opportunity to supplant him.
However, Romine did absolutely nothing to warrant playing time, and Stewart ended up taking the full time job. At the end of June, Romine’s slash line was .145/.159/.194/.352. Now the tide has turned, and Romine should be getting more playing time than Stewart. Stewart just seems to have completely worn down, as he hit .148 with a .416 OPS in July.
Meanwhile, over his last 28 plate appearances, Romine’s is hitting .416 with 4 doubles and a home run. His approach has looked great and Romine is hitting a lot of balls back up the middle where they came from. Very few of his hits have been cheap, so he is making some hard contact. He has looked very good behind the plate as well, as he has thrown out 30% of runners trying to steal this season.
Obviously, this is a small sample size, but with the fact that the Yankees chances of making the playoffs are slim to none, and Stewart is terrible, the Yankees should see what Romine can do as the starting catcher over the last two months.
All that’s really left for this season is to evaluate for next season, and the starting catchers spot is wide open. It would be ideal if the Yankees signed Brian McCann in the offseason, but if that does not happen Romine could be considered a cheap option if he does well through the end of the season. The Yankees need to see what they have in him.
Romine’s career minor league slash line of .280/.334/.414/.748 indicate that he probably does not have a good enough bat to be considered a good starting catcher. However, at this point the Yankees really have nothing to lose and stranger things have happened.
With Joe Girardi giving Romine a second consecutive start tonight he might agree that it is time to give Romine a shot for the rest of the season. If that is the case, he will definitely be a player to watch to see if his success is just a flash in the pan or if it’s sustainable.
Hiroki Kuroda P
Regular Season Game 110
New York Yankees (57-53) vs. Chicago White Sox (40-69)
U.S. Cellular Field – Chicago, Illinois
TV/Radio: YES/WCBS 880
Brett Gardner CF
Alfonso Soriano DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Vernon Wells 1B
Curtis Granderson LF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C
Pitching: Andy Pettitte, LHP
Alexi Ramirez SS
Jeff Keppinger 3B
Alex Rios RF
Paul Konerko 1B
Adam Dunn DH
Gordon Beckham 2B
Dayan Vicideo LF
Casper Wells CF
Josh Phegley C
Pitching: Jose Quintana, LHP
Now for some news + notes…
- Surprise! Alex Rodriguez has been suspended. However, as you can tell, he will appeal and likely play out the remainder of the season, should he stay healthy. The best us Yankees fans can do is just hope he plays well and isn’t too much of a circus after tonight.
- Word just broke that Derek Jeter is going back on the disabled list with a Grade 1 calf strain. This will be his third DL stint of 2013, as yesterday Jeter himself called this season “a nightmare”. Ironically, activating A-Rod will be the corresponding roster move.
- To a somewhat random degree, Brent Lillibridge has been designated for assignment, and David Adams has been called up.
- And finally, the Chicago Cubs claimed Thomas Neal off waivers from the Yankees today. He had two stints with the team this year for a grand total of four games, picking up 2 hits in 13 plate appearances. Happy trails.
Well…let’s try this again. Here’s today’s lineup.
– Derek Jeter has been scratched from the lineup and will not play for the next two days. Girardi said that if there were a DH then Jeter could have played.
– David Phelps has been scratched from his start in Trenton due to elbow soreness. He’s slated to get tests done.
It’s a brand new series and this game is a chance for CC to start the game on the right foot. Here’s the lineup!