Here’s what you need to know as the Yankees prepare for Mariano Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium, home game No. 81. Tonight’s starting pitchers are Ivan Nova (9-5, 3.13) and Alex Cobb (10-3, 2.90).
Rivera is expected to pitch tonight in what will be an emotional night for the retiring closer, and he was pleased to hear that the Yankees are expecting a sellout crowd for tonight’s game against the Rays.
“I appreciate that, it means a lot to me,” Rivera said. “It means the whole world to me. It’s amazing. I definitely appreciate the fans for that.”
Rivera said that he has not thought about what it will be like to enter a game at Yankee Stadium for the final time.
“I haven’t,” he said. “I’ve been so overwhelmed that I can’t anymore. When it happens tonight, we’ll see what happens.”
Other notes –
- I think it would be fun to see Rivera finally get a chance to play an inning in center field. It’s something he has requested, and Joe Girardi said he is “absolutely” considering doing it this weekend in Houston. Rivera wants to make clear that “this is not a joke” and he would take it seriously.
- Alex Rodriguez “does not have permission” to skip the Yankees’ season-ending trip to Houston, according to manager Joe Girardi. The New York Daily News reported on Thursday that Rodriguez may not travel for the club’s final three games against the Astros, instead remaining in New York to prepare for his appeal of a 211-game suspension, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 30. Brian Cashman said that the Daily News report is “a false story.”
- This is the Yankees’ first home game not being in the playoff picture since Oct. 3, 1993 against the Tigers.
- Girardi said on Thursday that he is not prepared to discuss his future with the club. Girardi’s contract expires after the season. The Yankees have expressed interest in retaining Girardi, who has also been linked to the Cubs and Nationals in published reports.
“That’s something for the offseason,” Girardi said. “Let’s get through these four days and then I can maybe start to address those questions. I’ve said many times: I’ve really enjoyed being here as a manager, a coach, a manager, a player, a broadcaster. I love my time here, but that’s not something that’s handled in-season, and I’ll wait until the offseason.”
- Girardi had little reaction to an ESPN.com report that second baseman Robinson Cano could be trying to land a 10-year, $305 million deal in free agency this winter.
“That’s not something that I discuss,” Girardi said. “You never know the truth of some of the reports that are out there. I’m glad I don’t necessarily have to worry about that kind of money.”
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (82-75) and Rays (88-69) play the second game of a three-game series here at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees still have a mathematical chance of securing a playoff spot, but the tragic number is at one. Realistically, this is going to be a dark October in the Bronx.
The Yankees’ clubhouse was filled with cardboard boxes and that ripping sound of packing tape this afternoon. That pretty much tells you everything that you need to know.
“You still have a shot, but it’s really remote obviously,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You have to win every game and the other teams can’t win games. As I talked about yesterday, we had the tough loss on Sunday and we didn’t swing the bats yesterday, and it’s difficult because you work so long to have an opportunity to make the playoffs, and we really hurt our chances.”
David Price (8-8, 3.43 ERA) is getting the call for Tampa Bay, and this could be the final Yankee Stadium start for Phil Hughes, who will try to finish his terrible season (4-13, 5.07 ERA) on a strong note.
“He’s had some good times and some rough times,” Hughes said. “It’s a guy that had a couple big years as a starter, had a big year out of the bullpen. He’s struggled this year. This year has been a struggle for him, and from a personal standpoint, if you’re going to pick a year to struggle as a player, this is not the year to do it.
“For that, I feel bad for him. I know how bad he wants to do well and be successful for this club and this franchise; he loves it here. I feel bad for him. He was a big part of our success in 2009, what he did in that bullpen, he secured that bullpen and us getting to the playoffs the next couple years. He had some big years for us.”
Here are the quick hits:
- The Yankees are holding a 6:50 p.m. ceremony on the field to honor Andy Pettitte. He’ll receive a gift from Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera on behalf of the organization.
- Girardi said there is “probably a good chance” Rivera will pitch on Thursday against the Rays, which would be his final Yankee Stadium appearance.
- Travis Hafner was activated from the disabled list this afternoon. Girardi said he might use Hafner as a pinch-hitter.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (79-68) and Red Sox (89-59) get set to kick off a three-game weekend series here at Fenway Park.
Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99) has the ball for the Yankees, and John Lackey (9-12, 3.48) goes for Boston. It was raining here this afternoon, but the tarp is off the field and we should start on time. Temperatures are right around 70 degrees, dropping as the night goes on.
- Bad news, if not completely unexpected, for Brett Gardner. Gardner has been diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of his left oblique, and as you know, obliques are a tricky injury to figure out. Joe Girardi acknowledged that it is possible Gardner has played his last regular season game. There is some hope that Gardner could return as a pinch-runner before he can be a full player, but that depends on how this all heals. Girardi said that he wouldn’t expect to have Gardner back for the upcoming Blue Jays series, but he could be back for the playoffs if the Yankees get that far.
- Curtis Granderson is taking over for Gardner in center field, and he’s hitting leadoff tonight. Girardi said that he can move that around as the weekend goes on, but Granderson has had the flexibility to hit in seven different lineup spots this season so it’s not really anything new. Granderson has homered in two straight games, sending rockets out to Eutaw Street in Baltimore the last two nights.
- Austin Romine took some swings today and felt OK, but they’ll be very cautious bringing him back from a concussion. It’s possible Romine won’t be available to play all weekend.
- Boone Logan may have turned a corner in his rehab of a left elbow injury, as Girardi said that Logan felt better and wants to try playing catch again. It didn’t go well yesterday, as Logan said he shut down the session after about five tosses.
- Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to play third base tomorrow. He’s DHing tonight. Girardi said that once he gets A-Rod back to third base, he could go either way with Eduardo Nunez or Brendan Ryan at shortstop.
- Who’s closing tonight? That’s a “great question,” Girardi said. It won’t be Mariano Rivera or David Robertson, apparently, though I guess you can never say that for sure. Rivera has pitched in four of the Yanks’ last five games but didn’t rule out campaigning to pitch if needed.
- Girardi on the Baltimore scorer’s decision to credit Rivera with a win instead of a save last night: “I’d like to see him get a save, but when I woke up this morning, it didn’t change my life.”
My Beat The Streak picks today: Doubling down with Ichiro Suzuki (33-for-110 vs. Lackey) and Lyle Overbay (11-for-30 vs. Lackey). The streak is at zero, and you know what? I’m beginning to think that a run at Joe D. isn’t happening. There’s always 2014.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (76-67) and Orioles (76-66) get set to kick off a four-game series here at Camden Yards. CC Sabathia (13-11) has the ball for New York, while the Orioles counter with Chris Tillman (15-5, 3.71). It’s a nice September night here in the Inner Harbor, temperatures in the 70s and – somehow – low humidity. That won’t last all week, so let’s enjoy it while we can.
Alex Rodriguez is hitting second tonight, the first time he has done so since Aug. 26, 2006, when Joe Torre tried him there in a 12-7 loss to the Angels. Joe Girardi said that since Alfonso Soriano has been productive hitting behind Robinson Cano, he wanted to keep that alignment intact.
“[Rodriguez has] done a really good job of getting on base against right-handers and swinging the bat well against right-handers,” Girardi said. “I’m trying to break up our left-handed hitters.”
Hey, was that Derek Jeter? It was — briefly. Jeter stepped out of the trainer’s room for only a moment, and did not return the rest of the time that reporters were allowed in the clubhouse. Jeter hasn’t spoken publicly since he left Saturday’s game to have a CT scan performed.
Girardi said that he wanted to keep Jeter from doing any baseball activity on Monday, but added that Jeter could be pressed into duty on his sore ankle if anything happened to shortstop Eduardo Nunez.
“I might use him in an emergency if I had to use him tonight,” Girardi said. “That’s kind of the situation we’re in. It’s not like I have a number of shortstops lying around.”
Where have you gone, Reid Brignac? Oh, right.
The team forwarded Jeter’s CT scan results to Dr. Robert Anderson – who performed Jeter’s ankle surgery last October – but Brian Cashman said that Anderson has not yet responded with his diagnosis. Cashman added that there has been no consideration given to the idea of shutting Jeter down for the rest of the 2013 season.
“No, no, no, no,” Cashman said.
David Robertson was scheduled to play catch on Monday, testing his right arm after he was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation last week. He’s considered ahead of Boone Logan, who had a a cortisone injection administered over the weekend. Girardi seemed to be doubtful that Logan would be available until Friday against the Red Sox, but they’re hopeful Robertson could pitch in the Orioles series.
Chris Stewart is “probably not” available to play, according to Girardi. Stewart sustained a left foot contusion when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning of Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.
Left-hander David Huff continues to be listed as the Yankees’ probable starter on Thursday against the Orioles, though that seems less than a certainty after Huff allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings to the Red Sox on Saturday.
“We’re going to get through these three days and see where we’re at,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying I’m changing anything, but if we need Huff [in relief], we need Huff.”
Phil Hughes, who lost his rotation slot to Huff, could be reinstated to starting duty under that scenario.
Cashman’s state of the Yankees: “Well, I certainly don’t like where we’re sitting because you want to be in the driver’s seat and we’re not in the driver’s seat, But I know we’re going to fight and give it everything we’ve got, as simple as that.
“We’ve been fighting for this thing all year long and they’ve put themselves in a position to kind of see a line that crossable. But we’re all bunched together here, so this is a big series. It’s the obvious thing to say but it’s true.
“We’ve caught enough breaks this year. Like anything else, every time someone has a problem it gives an opportunity to either take advantage or not. It’s hard to find anything at this time of year now.”
My Beat The Streak pick today: I’d better start doubling down if we’re going to make this streak respectable — forget matching Joe D., I can’t even get to Wee Willie Keeler with just 19 games left. So let’s make two picks tonight: A-Rod (4-for-7 lifetime vs. Tillman) and Cano (11-for-22 lifetime vs. Tillman). The streak is at one after Ichiro Suzuki had two hits in yesterday’s win.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (75-67) and Red Sox (86-58) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium for the finale of a four-game series. Hoping to avoid the sweep, the Yankees give the ball to Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99), while the Red Sox counter with Jon Lester (13-8, 3.88). It’s a gorgeous Sunday afternoon in the Bronx; partly cloudy and temperatures in the low 80s.
We haven’t yet heard from Derek Jeter, but Joe Girardi said the working plan is to shut Jeter down for at least two days due to a sore left ankle. The CT scan came back negative and that’s an encouraging sign, so the Yankees haven’t yet given any thought to shutting Jeter down for the rest of the season.
He hasn’t looked quite right on either side of the ball, though, so Dr. Robert Anderson is taking a look at the scan results down in Charlotte. Bottom line for Jeter: the ankle problem is something that is continuing to linger. No wonder he called this season a “nightmare” last month.
“[This season is] probably his worst one ever for him, to have to live through this, and you can probably go back to when he started when he was six years old,” Girardi said. “He loves to be out there and he loves to compete. And this is the time that he probably loves being out there more than any. It’s been difficult.
“… He’s been dealing with it. He understands. I know he’s frustrated and he wants to be out there. It’s tearing him up inside. As much as he doesn’t like it and he wants to be out there, I think he understands our point of view about trying to give it a couple of days to calm down.”
Brett Gardner is on the bench today, but there’s no injury problem with him. Girardi said he is sitting Gardner because he is 2-for-11 lifetime vs. Lester.
Shawn Kelley is available in the Yankees bullpen today. David Robertson and Boone Logan are not; they feel better but aren’t able to play catch yet.
The Yankees have not made any changes to their rotation, so for the moment, David Huff is still on track to start Thursday against the Orioles in Baltimore.
Girardi’s take on the Red Sox’s improvement in 2013: “They’re healthy. That’s the biggest difference. They’re healthy. They had to deal with a lot of injuries last year to all parts of their club. It wasn’t like, when you look at them offensively, they had guys who forgot how to hit. You had guys that were not in the lineup a lot, and that’s the biggest difference.”
As noted yesterday, the Yankees have lost three straight games in which they have scored seven or more runs for the first time in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Here’s some more historical factoids, if you can bear them, as provided by the Yanks:
PITCHING NOTES: The Yankees have allowed at least 12R in consecutive games for the first time since 7/17-18/96 (12R on 7/17 at Boston and 16R on 7/18 at Milwaukee) and in back-to-back games vs. one opponent for the first time since 8/27-28/88 at California (12R on 8/27 and 13R on 8/28)…have done so in consecutive home games for the first time since 8/3-12/60 (12R on 8/3 vs. Detroit and 12R on 8/12 vs. Washington)…marks the first time doing so in consecutive home games on the same homestand since 8/4-6/29 (14R in Game 2 on 8/4 vs. Cleveland and 13R in Game 1 on 8/6 vs. Washington)…since the Yankees began calling New York home for the 1903 season, the only other time they had allowed at least 12R in consecutive home games to the same team in the same series was 6/28/1907 (16-5 loss) and 7/1/1907 Game 1 (16-15 win) vs. Washington.
My Beat The Streak pick today: Ichiro Suzuki, who is leading off today and is 14-for-41 (.341) lifetime vs. Lester. The streak is at zero after Curtis Granderson went hitless yesterday.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (75-66) and Red Sox (85-58) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium for the third game of a four-game series that has been just heartbreaking thus far for the home team. The Yanks turn the ball over to lefty David Huff (2-0, 3.32) as he moves from the bullpen to the rotation, while the Red Sox aren’t making things much easier by presenting a tough customer in right-hander John Lackey (8-12, 3.22).
Sending Huff to the mound is Joe Girardi‘s way of going with the hot hand. He has earned the start with his recent stellar work out of the bullpen, and even Phil Hughes could see the writing on the wall that the Yankees were beginning to lean toward seeing if they can catch lightning in a bottle with Huff.
“I haven’t seen anything that would tell me he can’t give you some distance and throw the ball well,” Girardi said of Huff. “That’s all he’s done since he’s been here, so I think 90 to 100 pitches, I expect that from him, but you have to see the quality of pitches once you’re up around that mark.”
Alex Rodriguez is not in the Yankees lineup this afternoon. Girardi said that he has Rodriguez available to pinch-hit, and that, “He’s fine, it’s just six days in a row, day game after a night game.” Eduardo Nunez is at third base in place of A-Rod.
Who’s in the bullpen behind Huff? Brett Marshall would be the long man, and Girardi said that he could “piece it together” with Dellin Betances and right-hander Jim Miller, who was added to the roster on Saturday after spending this season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. You won’t see Joba Chamberlain or Preston Claiborne today. Mariano Rivera should be available.
“You pretty much know the pieces that you have going in, so you look at that,” Girardi said. “Huff’s thrown the ball well, so I have confidence in him. It’s no different than any other day when you don’t have a couple of guys that you can use in your bullpen.”
No word yet on Boone Logan, who had a date with an MRI tube this morning.
My Beat The Streak pick today: Curtis Granderson, who is starting today as the DH and is 8-for-21 lifetime vs. Lackey. The streak is currently at seven games after Eduardo Nunez went 2-for-3 last night.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (75-65) and Red Sox (84-58) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium, in what after last night’s events is a must-win game for the Yanks (well, they’re all kind of must-win at this point, aren’t they?). The Yankees need a deep outing out of left-hander Andy Pettitte (10-9, 4.01) and will try to put up some runs against left-hander Felix Doubront (10-6, 3.89).
It sounds like the Yankees will try to push a win to the finish line, thus preserving a chance of taking three out of four from the Red Sox, without the services of both David Robertson and Mariano Rivera tonight.
“I don’t know if we have Mo, I don’t know if we have Robbie,” manager Joe Girardi said. I’m just going to have to wait and see. I’ll let them go through BP and tell me what they’re thinking and how they feel, talk to Larry [Rothschild] and make a decision. We may not have either one of them tonight.”
Girardi said that his thinking is that the Yankees cannot afford an injury to Rivera or Robertson at this late stage.
“That would really hurt us. That’s the first thing you have to think about,” Girardi said. “I think you have to trust the communication that’s between them, Larry and me is honest communication on how they’re feeling. You try to look at how many pitches they’ve had. It’s tough.
“And it becomes tougher when you have a stretch like this of 17 days in a row, because if you get in a lot of close games, you can’t use them every day. My thought going into tonight is we may not have either one of them. That’s kind of my thought going into the day and you go from there.”
Girardi said that he had to address his thinking with Rivera in particular.
“I think Mo’s probably saying, in his mind, I’m not really saving it for anything in the future, so I think that’s what you have to judge,” Girardi said. “With Robbie, obviously he’s been important to us and you don’t want to get him hurt. A lot of our guys are always going to say, ‘Yeah, I think I can go,’ but we have to weigh the type of stuff that they would take out that day, number one. And number two, are you going to hurt them?”
How can the Yankees navigate the late innings? Cesar Cabral seems like he has impressed Girardi, and another answer might be using Phil Hughes, who can help in either a long relief or short relief role. (Some MLB.com writers who shall go nameless first-guessed the move last night to bring in Joba Chamberlain instead of Hughes in the 10th inning.)
“He is both,” Girardi said. “My hope was I could get [Hughes] out of the bullpen one day before it was a high-leverage situation, but that may not happen now.”
There’s also a roster move to report: the Yankees signed right-hander Matt Daley to a Major League contract and selected him to the active roster. To make room on the 40-man roster, infielder Corban Joseph was reinstated from the minor league 7-day disabled list, recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and placed on the 60-day Major League disabled list. Joseph is recovering from right shoulder labral repair surgery performed on June 7.
In injury updates, it sounds like Shawn Kelley is moving closer to throwing a bullpen. Girardi said that he doesn’t expect him to be available until next week due to triceps irritation. David Phelps threw a bullpen today and is scheduled for a simulated game of about an inning on Monday. Kevin Youkilis has been doing tee and toss and will fly to Tampa on Monday. I suppose it’s possible he could return for that Astros series at the end of the month.
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Eduardo Nunez, who is starting tonight at shortstop and is 4-for-8 lifetime vs. Doubront. The streak is currently at six games after Robinson Cano went 1-for-5 last night.
It’s the beginning of an 11-game obstacle course that could very well determine if the Yankees have a chance at the postseason or not. Is this the most important stretch of the season? Sure feels like it.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (75-64) and Red Sox (84-57) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium, with right-handers Ivan Nova and Jake Peavy matching up for the 7:05 p.m. ET start:
Who would the Yankees rather have on the mound than Nova, the reigning American League Pitcher of the Month? Nova went undefeated in six August starts, going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA, and now he’ll look to continue that success into September.
“When you’re throwing the baseball like he is, you probably should feel some confidence out there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s getting his strikeouts when he needs them, he’s getting a lot of ground ball outs, and that’s important in a park like this when you’re playing a team like this.”
Asked to expand on what Nova is doing differently than he was last season, Girardi responded:
“He learned to command his fastball down in the zone. Not worrying so much about hitting corners, but just having it down in the zone with movement. I think that has been really, really important to him. I also think the consistency of his curveball came back when he started throwing it a lot more, and he’s thrown his changeup a little bit as well. Maybe not 20 percent of the time or 30 percent of the time, but he has thrown it and gotten strikes, and it’s just another look when you’re going through a lineup the second, third or fourth time.”
The Yankees have been saying for days that they do not expect there to be any carryover from the last time these two clubs met, when right-hander Ryan Dempster earned a five-game suspension by intentionally throwing at Alex Rodriguez.
Those Sunday night events fired up the Yankees, who have gone 12-5 since the drilling. Yet for those expecting Nova to throw at David Ortiz or something along those lines, there might be disappointment. These games are so important to the Yankees that winning will likely be the main priority.
“No. We’re not looking to [retaliate],” Robinson Cano said. “We’re just going to go out there [tonight], play the game the right way that we have always been, and what’s in the past we’re going to keep in the past.”
OK. OK. What else would you have expected him to say? Stay tuned, but it doesn’t sound like Major League Baseball or the umpires plan on getting involved pre-game.
A few injury updates to pass along: Zoilo Almonte (ankle) is playing seven innings tonight for Double-A Trenton in their playoff game and is the most likely player to rejoin the big league club this month. Travis Hafner has done one simulated game, while Kevin Youkilis is only taking dry swings and is “the least probable” of the aforementioned three players to return in 2013.
Also, David Phelps and Michael Pineda are up to the bullpen stage, but it doesn’t sound like either one is coming back this year. Phelps might be back as a reliever in late September but that’s sounding more like a long shot, and the Yankees have been pretty mum on Pineda’s progress.
One last thought from Girardi:
“The big thing is you have to continue to play well. And as you look at it, we have a chance to control our own destiny, because we’re really three behind them in the loss column, and we have three games with. We have to play well. That’s the bottom line. So I don’t think you can get too caught up in what they’re doing, because there are other teams that are around us as well.”
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Robinson Cano, who gets the honors for a second straight night after he went 3-for-4 against the White Sox last night. Cano is 3-for-7 vs. Peavy. My streak is at five, halfway to my season-high of 10.
IN TWO PARAGRAPHS: That one almost went off the script, didn’t it? CC Sabathia pitched into the eighth inning and seemed to be in control of the White Sox lineup, but he fatigued a bit in the eighth and yielded to David Robertson, who was completely ineffective. Robertson allowed two inherited runs to score and two of his own as Chicago enjoyed a four-run eighth, but Mariano Rivera recorded a four-out save to preserve a 6-5 Yankees victory.
It was Mo’s first four-out save since July 24, 2011, and completed a three-game sweep of the White Sox for the Yanks, who have won nine of their last 10 home games going into a crucial four-game series with the Red Sox. Robinson Cano homered and Brett Gardner dropped a two-run triple into left field that supported Sabathia, who has won four of his last five starts.
MANAGER’S TAKE: “We brought in guys that have done the job all year, and they eventually got it done. But it probably got a little closer than all of us liked.” – Joe Girardi
“In some situations, I have to do that. Tonight was one of them. It doesn’t matter, as long as we get it done. You get a win tonight, and we had the lead and we just had to hold it.” – Rivera, on four out saves
“That’s definitely what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to come into a game like that, turn around and make it to where it’s a one-run ballgame. I stunk out there and Mo had to come pick me up. It happens. You pitch in 65, 70 games a year, you’re going to have a couple bad ones. Tonight was one of them.” – Robertson
“It’s important. Doesn’t matter who you’re playing, we’ve got a lot of games coming up against teams in our division, teams that we’re fighting against to make the playoffs. It’s a big time of the year, and hopefully we can keep playing good baseball.” – Gardner
“I mean, right now we’re behind the Red Sox and some other teams. We’ve just got to forget about them and win games. You’ve just got to go out and play hard and give everything you’ve got. Let’s see what happens at the end of the month.” – Cano
Sorry, Erik Johnson. The Yankees won for the fifth straight time when facing a starting pitcher making his Major League debut. They’re 8-8 in such games since 2000 … This was Sabathia’s longest outing since Aug. 7, also against the White Sox and also 7 1/3 innings … Cano’s homer was the 203rd of his career, surpassing Bill Dickey for 15th place on the franchise all-time list … seven of Gardner’s last 10 hits are for extra bases … Robertson had retired his last 25 batters faced with the bases before Josh Phegley’s eighth-inning single.
It’s a showdown in the Bronx as the Red Sox come to town for a four-game series. Ivan Nova (8-4, 2.88) has the ball for the Yanks, opposite Jake Peavy (11-5, 3.91), with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET on YES and MLB Network.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (74-64) and White Sox (56-81) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium. Left-hander CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91) has the ball for the Bombers, and right-hander Erik Johnson — Chicago’s No. 2 prospect according to MLB.com — is making his Major League debut for the Pale Hose.
There was a large group around Phil Hughes‘ locker this afternoon seeking reaction after Joe Girardi’s announcement that David Huff will start on Saturday against the Red Sox, bumping Hughes to the bullpen. Girardi wasn’t exactly clear about how he plans to use Hughes, saying that it could come in a long relief or short relief role, and Hughes said that he couldn’t be blindsided by the demotion considering how his season has gone.
“It’s always disappointing,” Hughes said. “I was looking forward to having a good September in the rotation, but obviously that’s not in the plans, so I’ll turn my attention to doing the best job out of the bullpen that I possibly can in whatever role that is. That’s it. That’s all I can do.”
Asked if he had given any thought to that – with free agency approaching – this may be his last month as a Yankee, Hughes replied, “I don’t really think about that. I’m just kind of more worried about the day to day and doing whatever I can to help this team. Hopefully, it’s a good September we have and we have some more baseball after that.”
The Yankees are going for the sweep of the White Sox tonight, and as Girardi said the last time they had a chance for a sweep, this is when you get greedy. They’re 16-7 in their last 23 games since Aug. 11, and enter tonight 10 games over .500 for the first time since June 11, when they were 37-27.
What gives Girardi confidence that Sabathia can turn around his slide?
“I’ve seen a lot of good innings,” he said. “It seems that at times it’s one inning that gets away from him a little bit, but I think his sinker has been better, his changeup has been better, his velocity has actually increased a little bit, and I’ve seen some really good innings out of him. We need to see that.”
This is a good note from the Elias Sports Bureau: with his game-winning, two-run, eighth-inning in double in Tuesday’s win, Eduardo Nunez became the first Yankees shortstop other than Derek Jeter to record a game-winning RBI in the eighth inning or later since Randy Velarde on 9/21/95 vs. Toronto (RBI-single).
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Robinson Cano, though of course none of the Yankees have seen Johnson before. The streak is currently at four games after Jeter went 2-for-3 yesterday. (Yes, I made my picks even though there were no blog posts while I was off this weekend).