The Yankees have lost a lot of familiar names: Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova and possibly Kevin Youkilis. With a lineup that won’t feature most of these names for a while, you would think the Yankees would lie down and take the beating, not fight at all and prove every non-believer right. The Yankees have done the opposite. Going into today’s game, the Yankees are 13-9, 12-5 since April 7. In a team that’s bruised and beat up, there’s a shining light, where veterans stepped up and are producing for the Yanks.
No one expected Travis Hafner to be such a big catalyst in the Yankees lineup vs. right handed pitching. And no one would have thought that Vernon Wells would come out of the gate swinging. Well, that’s the case for the Yankees. The veterans are taking over the lineup for the Yanks, and they intend on milking out every opportunity possible to prove their worth to the ball-club. Here are some Yankees that surprised us so far in the season, making their cause known to the team.
Brett Gardner: If you told me on April 1st that Brett Gardner was going to have 3 HR’s and have the second most RBI’s (12) on the team behind Robinson Cano, I’d say you were a dreamer. I’d call you crazy as well, but mostly a dreamer. Well, Brett Gardner has been opening some eyes, proving that he deserves to be in the lineup vs. left handed pitching as well as right handed pitching. Out of Gardner’s 3 HR’s this season, two are of significant importance: Gardner hit them vs. left handed pitching. Before his first HR, the last time Gardner hit a HR vs. left handed pitching was on July 3, 2010 vs. Ricky Romero of the Blue Jays. Gardner has been showing strength, and although he’s paid to run and steal bases, we’ll excuse him for not stealing bases as of yet since he’s doing a great job in bringing runners in scoring position to the plate.
Robinson Cano: Robinson Cano had an odd start to his 2013 campaign. He was struggling just like Brett Gardner and just like Ichiro Suzuki. However like Gardner, Cano quickly turned it around and started providing offense for the team. With no Curtis Granderson, no Mark Teixeira and no Derek Jeter, there is a loss in home runs for the Yankees meaning that Cano has to carry the team on his back every single game. After a putrid first week, Cano has done just that. He’s carried the team on his back. Does 7 HR’s and 17 RBI’s prove my point? It should.
Travis Hafner: Pronk has become a pleasant surprise to the Yankees, showing his power and is dubbed the “2013 version of Raul Ibanez“. Pronk is easily one of my favorite acquisitions, since he comes up in the clutch in the playing time he’s had. He has 5 HR’s, (one of them was so dramatic, it won the game). He also made Cleveland Indians fans remember why they loved him so much…although he hit home runs AGAINST his former team, leaving the fans unhappy. Anyway, Pronk is a player that I wish could hit vs. left handed pitching…but I’ll take him as he is. He’s been a great player so far and we hope he stays healthy.
Vernon Wells: Who would have thought that out of all people, Vernon Wells would be the player he was before he signed the gigantic contract that caused him to get traded to two different teams? Vernon Wells is second for team batting average, home runs and is third in RBI’s. It might have helped that the Yankees faced the Blue Jays twice, once on their recent road-trip and on their current home-stand. Vernon Wells has no trouble showing the Blue Jays fans what they were missing, and the Yankees love it.
Despite having a 6-4 win, the Yankees had multiple injury issues. Let’s address them one by one as if it’s one big sandwich.
– Let’s start with Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli was hit in the knuckles by a pitch from Ivan Nova in the first inning. Cervelli was taken for x-rays and the results weren’t good. Cervelli has a broken hand that requires surgery, and he’s expected to be sidelined for a minimum of 6 weeks. Having surgery means that the fracture wasn’t a clean fracture and the doctors would have to open him up to see how bad the damage in his hand is. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. A huge blow for the Yankees and bad luck for Cervelli who was playing so well for the first couple of weeks.
– Let’s continue onto Ivan Nova. Two innings later, Ivan Nova was pulled out of the game by Joe Girardi and fans initially thought that he pulled a hamstring. It was revealed that he had pain in his elbow and was sent for an MRI. The results of the MRI weren’t back by the time the Yankees finished the game, so we’d have to wait until tomorrow to see the results.
– And Finally, we shall end it with Kevin Youkilis. Kevin Youkilis has been out of the lineup for almost a week (tomorrow makes seven days) and the Yankees were attempting to avoid the DL with him. However, if his back isn’t well by tomorrow then the Yankees could possibly place him on the 15-day DL. Now, he wouldn’t have to spend an extra fifteen days sidelined. The Yankees could retroactive his DL from the day he stopped playing.
The Yankees have been the walking wounded since the season began…and now they’re going to have to walk wounded some more.
SWB RailRiders 4-3 on the week
Corban Joseph kicks it off for Scranton this week, as he went 9-26 with four doubles and a pair of home runs driving in three. He did get away from his usual patient approach as he struck out eight times while only walking three. For some that might be a good K/BB but for Joseph it’s a little off pace. 3B David Adams continued to put the ball in play collecting 5 hits in 17 AB’s. He hit a double, struck out five times and walked twice. With Mustelier still making his way back to SWB, Adams is the odds on fan favorite for a callup in the hopes that Francisco gets his walking papers. Catcher Austin romine fell off pace a bit this past week, chipping in only four hits in his 17 AB’s, but he did take one out of the park for his first of the year. Zoilo Almonte had a rough go of it, going 3-22. He did however manage to hit a pair of doubles and drive in three, as well as work four walks against six strikeouts.
On the pitching side, Vidal Nuno keeps on rolling. He threw another 5.2 innings of one run ball on three hits. He issued just one free pass while striking out six. Like Adams, he’s my pick for first guy called up here. This isn’t anything new for Nuno, and even the doubters are starting to come around on the soft tossing lefty. Chien-Ming Wang made his debut this past week throwing 12 solid innings. He gave up just one run and scattered ten hits, walking a pair and striking out five. On the downside he was sitting in the mid to high 80′s, so he may have some building up of his arm strength to do yet. Dellin Betances turned in his first dominant outing of the year, tossing seven innings of one run ball on three hits. He walked a pair and struck out seven. As much as we can hope that this is him turning a corner, he’s teased us like this before so i’ll be waiting with baited breath. On the down side of the starting pitching, Brett Marshall got tuned up again, allowing four earned on eight hits over 5 innings. He walked only one and struck out five but wow…. he’s looked dreadful since his promotion to Scranton. Lefty Juan Cedeno threw 3.1 innings in relief, allowing an unearned run on two hits. He walked three and struck out one. Mark Montgomery kept up his excellent work this week; he threw three no hit innings, walking four and striking out four. He can’t be far away from a major league assignment at this point.
Trenton Thunder 3-3 on the week
After JR Murphy’s 3 HR game last week he’s taken a bit of a dive the last few games. He went 1-14 with a double and no RBI’s. Slade Heathcott is still stuck in a rut since coming to AA. He went 2-15 with a lone RBI. On the bright side he walked as many times as he struck out (four) which was an issue out of the gate. Ramon Flores has been a bright spot in the Thunder lineup all along. He chipped in seven hits in his last twenty-six AB’s, including a triple and four RBI’s. He struck out three times while drawing four walks. Tyler Austin has broken out of his early slump, going 6-18 this past week, knocking in a pair of doubles and RBI’s while working a season high seven walks while only striking out five times. He noted in an interview that he was a bit too excited and needed to just relax and let it happen.
Zach Nuding led the Trenton pitchers, tossing six innings of one run ball on six hits. He walked just one and struck out four. Nik Turley seems to be getting his adjustments made, after struggling early he managed 5.2 innings of one run ball on four hits. He walked a pair and struck out five. Matt Tracy went down in flames in his only outing; he gave up five earned on ten hits while both walking and striking out a pair. Kelvin Perez came out of the bullpen to throw 1.2 innings of one run ball on two hits, and Tommy Kahnle continued his outstanding work this year tossing a one hit inning in which he struck out the side. Jose Ramirez has been getting his throwing in and i would expect to see him soon. After his spring training performance many of us are looking forward to seeing him prove himself at the AA level, which would go a long way to projecting him as a major league contributor.
Tampa Yankees 5-2 on the week
Kicking off the lineup in Tampa this week is Gary Sanchez. He went deep for his fourth time this year, putting him ahead of his pace last year where he led the organization for HR’s from a catcher. He did fall off a bit in the average department, going 3-19 but is still north of .300 on the season. He drew a pair of walks and struck out five times. Since Robert Refsnyder’s promotion he hasn’t missed a beat. He went 9-23 this week with a pair of doubles and driving in seven. He worked five walks against just two strikeouts. He was expected to move quickly, coming from a major college program so he’s right on pace. At this point a move to Ben Gamel chipped in four hits of his own over 15 AB’s, hitting a double, driving in four runs and both walking and striking out five times each. Mason Williams also had four hits this week including a double, driving in one, walking four times and striking out on three occasions. Up and coming 2B Angelo Gumbs remains on the DL with a wrist injury.
Bryan Mitchell starts off the review for Tampa pitchers this wee. He went five innings, allowing one run on four hits. He was a bit wild though, allowing four free passes while striking out seven. Shane Greene also turned in a one run performance, this one over six innings. He allowed seven hits and a walk while striking out seven batters of his own. Corey Black got tuned up this past week; allowing seven runs (four earned) on eleven hits, walking none and striking out three. Manny Barreda pitched a pair of innings in relief, allowing a run on two hits. He gave up zero walks and struck out one. Sean Black pitched a pair of innings in relief as well, allowing just a single hit while giving up a walk and striking out none.
Charleston RiverDogs 2-4 on the week
It was an ugly week for the Dogs, as many of the bats are struggling right now. Cito Culver, who had himself a nice little run of XBH’s, went 6-22 with an RBI, 5 BB’s and 8 K’s. Dante Bichette Jr. had one less hit in as many AB’s including a double and a pair of RBI’s. Not what we were hoping for with their new mechanics that seemingly would allow them to get things going at the plate. Greg Bird has been in a rut since his hot start, going 4-12 this week, although he did drive in four, work four walks and strike out seven times. Jake Cave made his return to the field after missing last year with a knee injury. He opened with four hits in twelve AB’s, including two doubles. He both walked and struck out twice.
On the pitching side Rafael DePaula had himself a nice outing, pitching five innings of no hit baseball. He walked three but struck out ten. Gabe Encinas also turned in another solid outing of his own, tossing six innings of two run ball on four hits, He walked just one and struck out five. Jose Campos made another limited appearance, going three innings (he did pitch to a few in the fourth but failed to record an out) and allowing three runs on four hits. Let’s hope he kicks the rust off soon. Daniel Camarena had a Jeckyl and Hyde week, throwing a pair of five inning games. He allowed just two runs in the first, but five in the second. Taylor Garrison came in from the pen to pitch 3.1 innings of shutout ball on just one hit. He struck out four and gave up just one free pass.
Going for the series win! Here we go!
Andy Pettitte LHP
– Here’s how you know Summer is about to begin: It’s time to vote for the 2013 All-Star Game. Choose your favorite players and hope they get in. Click here and you could vote 25 times. Voting ends July 4.
– This year you can also vote for three players in each league to participate in the Home Run Derby at Citi Field. Robinson Cano is one of the nominees for the American League, so make sure you vote for Robbie!
Despite their anemic offensive output against left handed pitching this season, the New York Yankees are 4-3 against left handed starters this season. A lot like last night, the Yankees have been able to scratch and claw their way to victories against lefties when it looked like they were completely out of the game.
The Yankees did the little things to score enough runs to win last night against Tampa’s lefty ace David Price. Combine that with Phil Hughes’ strong performance, and that is how the Yankees will have to beat lefties until the reinforcements come. Eduardo Nunez went first to third that lead to a run in the fourth inning. Then,in the eighth inning, Ichiro went first to third on a hit-and-run single by Jayson Nix, which led to the Yankees tying the score at two. The Yankees had a similar win against tough Arizona lefty Wade Miley when Brett Gardner got a clutch two out hit to tie the game at three in the seventh inning. Manufacturing runs like that is how the Yankees are going to have to score against lefties.
The Yankees’ slash line against lefties this year is a paltry .190/.262/.299/.561 and against righties it is .301/.368/.533/.901. They have performed by far the best against righties in MLB and about the worst against lefties. This is a stark difference from Yankees teams of the past, as the Yankees have always had a balanced lineup that could hit lefties and righties equally. The Yankees always had a few switch hitters in their lineup and they have not had an at bat from a switch hitter all season. The last two days the lineup has looked exceptionally brutal with the likes of Ben Francisco batting second and fifth and fifth Francico Cervelli batting fifth on Monday. Obviously the loss of Kevin Youkilis the last few days has hurt, even though he has not hit lefties this year. There is really not much Joe Girardi can do, as he has a very sorry hand to deal with against lefties.
The Yankees probably will not continue to perform this bad against lefties the whole season because it would be historic if they did, but this will be a problem the whole season that needs to be addressed. Vernon Wells (.333/.375/.600.975) and Brett Gardner (.250/.306/.438/.743) and 7 RBI have been the only players performing against lefties this season. Mark Teixeira has performed very well against lefties the last few years, so he will provide a boost when he comes back. However, he will not be able to turn this around by himself.
Youkilis and Robinson Cano need to perform much better against lefties then they have been. Youkilis has been abysmal against them this year, as he has 1 hit in 19 Abs against them this year with a .142 wOBA. That is a very small sample size, and Youkilis does have a great .918 career OPS against lefties, so he should be able to turn it around. Cano had issues against lefties last season and they have carried over into this season. He did hit a home run against Matt Moore on Monday, so maybe that is a positive sign, but the Yankees really need him to get back being to the balanced hitter that he used to be.
This is an issue that could have been seen a mile away this offseason. It started when the Yankees signed Ichiro to create and all lefty starting outfield of Ichiro, Granderson and Gardner. Ichiro was abysmal against lefties in 2012, Gardner has never hit them consistently in his career and Granderson also struggled mightily against them in 2012. I believe that the Ichiro signing was an ownership move and not a Brian Cashman move, but either way it was a terrible one. What Cashman could have done is find a much better utility option than Jayson Nix and a much better righty DH than Ben Francisco. Obviously, Cashman did not expect to be without Derek Jeter for so long, but still Nix should have been upgraded on. Francisco provides no value at all and they should really cut bait with him now.
Right now there is really nobody Cashman can get outside of the organization, as nobody is willing to give away pieces yet, although he will have to by the trade deadline. Zolio Almonte (.263/.411/.404/.814) and David Adams (.317/.417/.463/.880) are both off to very good starts at Triple A and should be brought up to replace Nix and Francisco. Ronnier Mustelier is another option, but he has not played yet this year due to injury. Adams could play third and Almonte can DH or play the outfield. Nix has struck out an incredible 16 out of 43 at bats already, which is just dreadful for a non power hitter and obviously Francisco has done nothing.
It is a miracle that the Yankees have a 4-3 record this year against lefties with the lineup they are throwing out there, which is a testament to the grit and toughness they have shown this year. However, it will be hard to keep up that pace with the current hitters they have in the lineup, so either they will need to improve, which is doubtful, or go in a different direction and call up some reinforcements.
Even from my sickbed I get to bring you guys the lineup. Here it is and enjoy the game. As for me, I’m going back to sleep.
Lineup vs. Rays:
LHP CC Sabathia
The Yankees had their second consecutive week of very solid baseball. They went 5-1 against Baltimore, Arizona and at Toronto. Hiroki Kuroda was dominant to begin the week, pitching a complete game shutout Sunday against Baltimore. He was spectacular again yesterday, pitching shutout into the 8th inning until David Robertson came in and blew his 3-0 lead. However, the Yankees did win 5-3 in 11 innings, so his effort was not totally wasted. The Yankees won two tightly contested contests with Arizona with clutch home runs from Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner. On Tuesday, Cano’s three-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead that they would never relinquish. On Wednesday, Hafner’s pinch hit home run in the eighth inning gave the a 4-3 win. Francisco Cervelli hit a game tying home run in the ninth inning in the series finale, but the Diamondbacks won in extra innings 6-2. The nominees for Week 3 Yankees Player of the Week are Travis Hafner, Hiroki Kuroda, Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells.
Travis Hafner: Hafner hit .500 on the week with 2 HR’s and 3 RBI. Hafner only started two of the six games this week due to the Yankees facing many lefties, but he still had a huge impact. His pinch hit home run on Wednesday won the game and he also had a home run on Friday in Toronto that gave the Yankees an early lead.
Robinson Cano: Cano was blistering hot for a second consecutive week, as he hit .294 with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI. He still showed weaknesses against lefties this week, but was still solid overall. His three-run home run in Tuesday was huge and he had three hits on Friday in Toronto.
Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda was dominant in two starts. On Sunday, he pitched a complete game shutout agaisnt the Orioles and allowed only five hits. An incredible 21 of his 27 outs were recorded on the ground. Yesterday. Kuroda pitched 7.1 innings, allowed only one run on three hits and struck out seven.
Vernon Wells: Wells hit .280 on the week with 2 HR’s and 3 RBI. He burned his old team Toronto in the first two games, as he had five hits in 10 AB’s and two home runs. This is the third consecutive week Wells has been nominated.
This was the most competitive week yet, as you can make strong case for all four guys. I will give it to Kuroda, since he was dominant twice, but it should be a very close vote.
On this day 87 years ago, the Yankees pounded The Big Train, Walter Johnson, in an 18-5 drubbing at Griffith Stadium. Babe Ruth led the charge against the future Hall of Famer, going 5-for-6 with a double, homer, and 6 RBIs. The offense tallied 22 hits and 18 runs, tagging the Train for 7 runs on 8 hits. It was the most runs he would give up all season.
Urban Shocker shone for the Bombers, yielding just 3 earned runs over 8 innings before giving way to Hank Johnson to finish the job. The Senators threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Yanks, using a 20 different players throughout the game, but they could not stem the tide of the eventual American League Champions.