IN TWO PARAGRAPHS: Uh-oh. The Yankees shouldn’t be losing two of three games to the Blue Jays if they’re serious about making a real run at a playoff spot, but let’s focus tonight on Hiroki Kuroda, who suddenly is starting to look like he’s cooked as the innings pile up. This is three rough ones in a row, as Kuroda was pounded for seven runs (five earned) and nine hits in five innings. He has allowed 15 earned runs in his last 16 2/3 innings (8.10 ERA).
No, Chris Stewart’s two-run throwing error didn’t help, but obviously that wasn’t the only problem tonight. Edwin Encarnacion’s homer to left field was a bomb, and Kuroda left a pitch up that Brett Lawrie pounded for a two-run double. The final was 7-2, and it never really felt that close — I mean, Joba Chamberlain was warming up in the third inning with the Yanks down by seven. That’s about all you need to know.
MANAGER’S TAKE: “He’s struggling a little bit right now, but I mean, I looked up and [Felix] Hernandez in Seattle gave up I think nine runs today. These guys can’t be perfect. We need him to turn it around and I believe he will the next start.” – Joe Girardi
“As a starter, I think you take all of your 30-something starts as important as any starts. Especially after July, where you feel like you want to be better at your pitches. At the same time, I feel like you take it one game at a time. Every start is important, but to not have my stuff at this stage of the season is pretty frustrating.” – Kuroda
“It’s a big blow, especially the way Hiro’s been throwing. He hasn’t been really catching the breaks, and for me to do something like that and add on to the misery, it sucks. Hopefully it’s the last one of the year. Hopefully I can keep my head on straight, we can keep things rolling, brush off some wins, and get back to where we need to be.” -Stewart
“We’ve got to win games, that’s the bottom line. We’re playing the teams that we’re chasing for the most part. There are a couple teams, but we need to play well. We don’t have much room for error. Every game we play is important.” – Derek Jeter
This was the Blue Jays’ first series win vs. the Yankees. … New York is now 19-19 since the All-Star break. … Kuroda has allowed at least nine hits and five runs in three straight starts. … Eduardo Nunez (right knee) said that he’ll have an MRI on Thursday in New York. He’s concerned about the chances of having to go back on the disabled list. … Jeter had his first double of the year. It was career hit No. 3,311, placing him two behind Eddie Collins (3,313) for ninth place on the all-time list.
The Yankees have an off-day Thursday, and then it’s back to Yankee Stadium for a big Wild Card race showdown with the Baltimore Orioles. CC Sabathia (11-11, 4.81) gets the ball for the opener of a three-game series as the Birds will throw right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (8-6, 3.77). First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET on YES and MLB Network.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (70-62) and Blue Jays (59-74) prepare to meet here at Rogers Centre. Hiroki Kuroda and Todd Redmond are matching up for the 7:07 p.m. ET start:
There was a wheelchair waiting at Eduardo Nunez‘s locker this afternoon, as the Yankees were still giggling about his display in the eighth inning last night, crumpling to the artificial turf with a right knee injury. Nunez stayed in the game but left for a pinch-runner the next inning, and afterward, Joe Girardi was among those laughing about … shall we say … Nuney’s flair for the dramatic.
After the wheelchair was a big hit, three Yankees scampered out to the turf with athletic tape to create a body outline of where Nunez hit the field last night. This was all shaping up as a fun pregame note until Nunez was unable to get through batting practice. Scratched from the starting lineup, Nunez will be replaced at second base tonight by Mark Reynolds, who is making his first big league start at the position.
Reynolds did play the ninth inning there last night, marking his third big league inning there, and he’s standing at second base trying to get a cram session in as I write this blog post.
Robinson Cano, as expected, is not in the Yankees’ lineup. His hand is still swollen after being hit by that pitch last night. They’ll shoot for Friday against the Orioles.
Injury updates on some Yankees you might have forgotten about: Zoilo Almonte and Travis Hafner are progressing to tee-and-toss. They’re both expected to rejoin the team after rosters expand Sept. 1. Also, Michael Pineda has moved up to side sessions and David Phelps is about to start throwing again. There’s still a shot of them helping the Yanks out of the bullpen this year. Girardi didn’t have much info about Vidal Nuno and didn’t seem to feel like he was an option to help in September.
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Alex Rodriguez, who has homered in back-to-back games. He has never faced Redmond; none of the Yankees have. Streak is at one after Derek Jeter went 2-for-5 last night.
IN TWO PARAGRAPHS: Oh, there’s plenty to talk about tonight here in Canada. The Yankees hit four home runs, two of them coming as Alfonso Soriano joined the 400-homer club, and Andy Pettitte rolled back the clock with seven innings of scoreless, five-hit ball. But the most welcome news of the night came when Robinson Cano’s X-rays showed no break near the meaty part of his left hand, confirming that the Bombers had dodged a blow that would have been devastating to their playoff hopes.
That knowledge made it easier for the Yankees to relax and enjoy a 7-1 victory over the Blue Jays. Alex Rodriguez hit career homer No. 651 and Mark Reynolds also went deep, and the Yankees scratched their heads over what exactly happened to Eduardo Nunez out there in the eighth inning. The tweaked right knee looked scary, but after Nunez stayed in the game, A-Rod asked the befuddled infielder who had shot him. Derek Jeter just shook his head and said, “Nuney, are you kidding?”
MANAGER’S TAKE: “You’re extremely relieved. Obviously [Cano is] day-to-day and I don’t know what we have tomorrow. But the fact that there’s no break is a good sign. We haven’t had a lot of luck on our side when it comes to X-rays so we got some tonight.” – Joe Girardi
“I was [scared] right away. I was hurt. I was pretty concerned. Mick asked me at first base if I thought it was broken; it was close to the bone. Maybe it missed the bone by an inch. Thank God it was nothing worse.” – Cano
“When I retire, I can think about what I did in the game. I’m very proud. The talent that I’ve got, God gave it to me. I never think I’m going to hit 400 homers in the big leagues with my size, but I think I work hard, try to get better every day. That’s what I’ve got.” – Soriano
“I just feel like everything’s working for me. My cutter is working good and I have a little bit better command of the outside corner. I’m just feeling better. My sinker is sinking now when I throw it. When you throw that out there and you’re able to get some ground ball double plays, that’s huge. The biggest thing like I’ve said for several months, the pitches are doing what they’re supposed to and they’re cooperating right now. Hopefully they’ll cooperate the rest of the season.” – Pettitte
“These games are so important for us. I’m still so far away from [Willie Mays' 660]. Like I said, we need these wins like oxygen. One thing this team is going to do is leave it all out there for the next 30, 31 days, maximum effort. I like our lineup, the way we have lefty righty all the way through and we’re helping each other out.” – A-Rod
The Yankees are 13-2 this season against Toronto. The 13 wins are their most vs. the Jays in any single season. … Soriano is the seventh player to hit his 400th homer as a Yankee, joining a select group comprised by Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Gary Sheffield and A-Rod. … Soriano also became the sixth player in Major League history to reach 400 homers, 2,000 hits and 250 stolen bases, joining Mays, Andre Dawson, Barry Bonds, Sheffield and A-Rod. … Derek Jeter had two hits. … Who’s playing second base tomorrow if not Nunez? Maybe Mark Reynolds. He played the ninth there, just his third big league inning at the position.
It’s the rubber game of the series as the Yankees give the ball to right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (11-9, 2.71) on Wednesday opposite right-hander Todd Redmond (1-2, 4.44). First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET on YES.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (69-62) and Blue Jays (59-73) prepare to meet here at Rogers Centre. Andy Pettitte and J.A. Happ are matching up for the 7:07 p.m. ET start:
I think we can all come up with a few reasons why there didn’t seem to be much celebration for Alex Rodriguez‘s 650th career home run last night. Yes, we’re in Toronto, and this place hasn’t exactly been a welcoming place for A-Rod in years past to begin with. Obviously Rodriguez’s appeal of a 211-game suspension and continued allegations of performance-enhancing drug use are also taking the luster away from his pursuit of Willie Mays.
But you know what? Considering the way A-Rod’s eventful month has gone, he really didn’t seem to mind slipping out the side door of the ballpark last night and shying away from the cameras. As he put it today, “Quiet is good.” Rodriguez said that he can’t spend time focusing on personal milestones at this moment because the Yankees “need wins like oxygen right now.” That’s a pretty good line; it’s true, and he’s also right in a lot of ways.
Certainly, the relative silence coming from A-Rod’s camp seems preferable to the nuttiness of that weekend when Joe Tacopina went on a media tour while the Yankees tried to focus on a series at Fenway Park. Since Rodriguez’s appeal looks like it’s going to stretch into November or December, keeping the attention on the field for August and September is a solid plan. We’ll have plenty of time for the rest of it.
Girardi’s scouting report on Pettitte tonight: “He’s pitched better lately, which is important down the stretch here. I mean, it’s extremely important for us. I think his sinker has been better, his changeup has been better, and those are two pitches he relies on, and he’s going to need those, there’s no doubt about it. When you lose the feel for it, it becomes more difficult, but he’s been good.”
There has been speculation about Phil Hughes being skipped or losing his spot in the Yankees’ rotation, but Joe Girardi had no decisions to speak about on that front. Girardi only issued Hughes a lukewarm endorsement after last night’s loss, but there’s really no reason to believe they would announce a move so soon. I’m guessing they’ll use Thursday’s off-day to make sure Hughes doesn’t face the Orioles this weekend.
I should’ve mentioned this last night, but Girardi went to Vernon Wells as a pinch-hitter in place of Brett Gardner because he was looking for Wells to hit a home run. Wells struck out.
The Yankees will be represented by three position players in the Arizona Fall League: Tyler Austin, Peter O’Brien and Mason Williams.
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Derek Jeter, in a last minute switch to the Captain. My original pick was Ichiro Suzuki, who is 4-for-7 lifetime vs. Happ, but he’s not in the lineup. Jeter is 4-for-8 lifetime vs. Happ. Streak is at zero after Robinson Cano went hitless last night.
IN TWO PARAGRAPHS: How much length is left in Phil Hughes’ leash? That’s the big question tonight, and Joe Girardi only gave Hughes a lukewarm endorsement. No, Hughes wasn’t terrible, and an Ichiro Suzuki error surely dented his line a bit, but the Yankees seem to be running out of patience. Hughes allowed five runs (three earned) and seven hits in 4 2/3 innings to a Blue Jays team that is very clearly playing spoiler, and Toronto posted a 5-2 victory over New York on Monday at Rogers Centre.
Hughes’ record fell to a nightmarish 4-13 with the loss, but the Yankees have been reluctant to make a change in their rotation because they haven’t been sure there are better options in the system. David Phelps, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno all could’ve been in that mix, but injuries have taken them out of the running. Maybe David Huff (3 1/3 hitless innings with five strikeouts) has vaulted into play. Just because they haven’t talked about it doesn’t mean they won’t.
MANAGER’S TAKE: “Right now [Hughes is] in our rotation. We haven’t talked about taking him out of our rotation. I think he had a walk that scored; a couple walks hurt him today. We didn’t make the play behind him and it looks a lot different if it’s three runs in five innings.” – Joe Girardi
Ichiro: “If I could’ve just gone straight home from right field, I would have. I was that embarrassed.”
Hughes: “It’s been very difficult. Every time I feel like I make some progress the last couple times out, it seems like you have these hiccups and it’s the way the whole season has gone. It’s been difficult, it’s been a struggle. I guess every time you have one of these outings I try and look at the positive. I still have the opportunity to pitch in big games where it really matters and that’s all I can do. I can’t get down on myself or negative all the time. I just have to stay confident and aggressive every time they give me the ball.”
Derek Jeter: “All the games are important, but Toronto’s got a good team. They’re not just going to lay down and let us walk all over them. They have a lot of pride over there, they have a great team. Remember, coming into this season, they were supposed to run away with the division, so they have a good team. Unfortunately for us, we couldn’t figure out the knuckleball today.”
Two milestones – Alex Rodriguez hit his 650th homer and Brett Gardner picked up his 500th career hit in the loss … Derek Jeter went 0-for-3 with a walk and double play. … A-Rod has 35 homers at Rogers Centre, the most by any Blue Jays opponent. … The Blue Jays snapped a streak of 10 straight losses to the Yankees.
The Yankees give the ball to Andy Pettitte (9-9, 4.26) on Tuesday opposite the Blue Jays’ J.A. Happ (3-3, 5.10) in a matchup of lefties. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET on YES. The Yankees have lost three of their last four games after carrying a five-game winning streak into this road trip.
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (69-61) and Blue Jays (58-73) prepare to meet with the roof open here at Rogers Centre. Phil Hughes and R.A. Dickey are matching up for the 7:07 p.m. ET start:
Will this time be the charm for Derek Jeter? Since this is already Game 131, the Yanks certainly hope so. Jeter said that he can’t change anything about the way this frustrating “nightmare” season has gone thus far, but Joe Girardi said that if he had to choose any stretch of the year to have Jeter on the active roster, this would obviously be it.
There’s more from the Captain here. In one telling moment, Jeter acknowledged that he has not been able to work out his legs regularly since last year’s ALCS, which he seems to think is one reasonable explanation for why he has had so many health problems.
“I’ll try to do as much as I can to keep them strong for this last month, but all I can do is go out and play and hope everything’s fine,” Jeter said. “I can’t change anything that’s happened. I wish I would’ve had more time to do things, but I didn’t, and we are where we are. So now let’s move forward, and hopefully there’s no more issues.”
Even now, coming off a three-game rehab stint at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Jeter doesn’t seem to be 100 percent. The Yankees are saying things like they want Jeter to “run under control,” which boiled down means — please don’t go back on the DL for a fourth time. If he has to jog to first base on ground balls, as he was doing the last time he was active against the Rays and Dodgers in July, so be it. They’ll gladly make that trade.
Alex Rodriguez is hitting sixth in tonight’s lineup. Girardi said it was because he now has the ability to not stack so many left-handers in a row. A-Rod breaks up a group of Curtis Granderson (5), Lyle Overbay (7) and Ichiro Suzuki (8).
Eduardo Nunez, utilityman? That experiment is back in play with Jeter’s return. The Yankees don’t expect to get Jayson Nix back from his broken hand (remember how long it took Granderson?), so Nunez will be taking ground balls at shortstop, third base and second base. Girardi wasn’t sure if he’d play Nunez ahead of Mark Reynolds at third base.
The Yankees left Preston Claiborne behind in Tampa. He’ll be a Class-A Tampa Yankee for a week since their season ends on Sept. 1. You’d figure Claiborne would rejoin the big league club the next day.
Telling sign about where the Blue Jays are in their season: Girardi looked up during his press session in the dugout and was surprised to see Toronto was already finished with their BP. “We haven’t even stretched yet,” he said.
My Beat The Streak pick today: Robinson Cano. He’s 5-for-17 lifetime against Dickey. Streak is at one after Eduardo Nunez went 1-for-5 against the Rays Sunday.
IN TWO PARAGRAPHS: This was a win the Yankees needed badly. Alfonso Soriano made it happen, stroking an 11th inning double off Jamey Wright and taking advantage of the green light to steal third base, beating the throw in with a headfirst slide. Curtis Granderson lifted a fly ball to the outfield and Mariano Rivera locked down the save, preserving the Yanks’ 3-2 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Robinson Cano homered and drove in both of the Yankees’ runs off of Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb. Evan Longoria homered and had two RBIs against Ivan Nova, who held the Rays to a pair of runs on six hits despite tying a career high with six walks (one intentional). The Yanks averted a series sweep, settling for one game out of three in St. Petersburg.
MANAGER’S TAKE: “I mean, that’s a big play, being able to steal third there. It changes the complexion of that inning. And it’s a big double. The time before [in the eighth], he just missed hitting a homer foul, and maybe we don’t go quite as long if it stays fair. We got a lot of big performances out of a lot of people today.” – Joe Girardi
Soriano: “When the team needs one and the pitcher gives it to me, I like to steal. That’s my game. It’s very important to help the team to win. I love to do that. I love to steal bases.”
Robinson Cano: “We needed a win so bad. Nothing you want less than to get swept here. Like I said, we lose the first two, and then we just go out there and fight the whole game.”
Curtis Granderson: “It’s very big. I think coming into it you’d like to get both series. Obviously we didn’t get a chance to do that, but winning both series means you’ve got a chance to win hopefully four out of the six games here. We still have an opportunity to do that going to Toronto. It’s definitely not going to be easy but we’re still on track. We’ve got to go ahead, rebound and take advantage of this one, and go on to tomorrow and try to get another one against [R.A.] Dickey.”
Ivan Nova: “I was pushing for that W. It’s not only the personal things. I want to pitch good every time I go out there. Even though I walked six guys; I don’t think it was that bad. I battled until the end and we got the win.”
Girardi huddled with Preston Claiborne in the clubhouse after the game. He’ll be the roster move to create space for Derek Jeter tomorrow. It may seem like a tough break for Claiborne, but he has certainly shown enough that he’ll be back soon after rosters expand on Sept. 1st.
Longoria homered in all three games of this series; his shot off Nova was the first Nova has allowed since Nelson Cruz hit one on July 22. The Yankees improved to 11-4 in their last 15 games, and are 5-5 in extra innings this year. New York’s starting 7 through 9 hitters (Lyle Overbay, Mark Reynolds, Chris Stewart) combined to go 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts today.
Cano improved to 7-for-19 (.368) lifetime vs. Cobb. A-Rod’s pinch-hit single in the 10th was the first of his career (1-for-15). Mariano Rivera’s 37 saves at Tropicana Field are the most ever by a Rays opponent and 27 more than the next highest total (10, Jonathan Papelbon).
The Yankees will try to keep the momentum rolling Monday when they travel Nord des Lignes to meet the Blue Jays in Toronto, sending Phil Hughes (4-12, 4.88) to the mound against R.A. Dickey (9-12, 4.49). First pitch is set for 7:07 p.m. ET. The Yanks are 11-1 vs. Toronto this season and need one more win to match their most ever in a single season, accomplished in 1995, 2004, 2005 and 2009.
Here are the light early notes as the Yankees (68-61) and Rays (74-53) prepare to meet under the roof here at Tropicana Field, with Ivan Nova and Alex Cobb matching up for the 1:40 p.m. ET start:
Alex Rodriguez is not in the Yankees’ lineup, this being a day game after a night game. The Yankees are also playing six straight games on artificial turf with the series at Toronto coming up, so that also went into the thinking. Lyle Overbay is back in the lineup after battling the flu for a couple of days. Joe Girardi said that the hope is that the illness is behind Overbay.
The plan is still for Derek Jeter to rejoin the Yankees in Toronto tomorrow. It raised a little bit of a red flag for me that Jeter left last night’s game at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre without speaking to reporters – seems out of character for him – but all reports are that he was fine. Girardi plans to put Jeter in the lineup tomorrow.
My Beat The Streak pick today: Brett Gardner. He’s 2-for-8 lifetime against Cobb. Streak is at zero after Alfonso Soriano went hitless last night.
The Yankees are looking to avoid the sweep. They’ve been swept five times this season, four coming on the road, most recently Aug. 5-7 at Chicago. They haven’t been swept by the Rays at the Trop since April 6-8, 2012.
“You had some momentum on your side,” Girardi said. “You want to keep that momentum.”
Here are the early notes as the Yankees (68-60) and Rays (73-53) prepare to meet under the roof here at Tropicana Field, with CC Sabathia and David Price matching up for the 7:10 p.m. ET start:
Brett Gardner is not in the Yankees’ lineup, but it has nothing to do with his right hand, which was hit last night by a 95 mph Chris Archer fastball. Gardner had X-rays this morning on the hand and they showed no break. Gardner said the hand is a little swollen, but manager Joe Girardi said he wasn’t planning on playing Gardner against the left-hander Price anyway.
Girardi also said he thought Ichiro Suzuki‘s at-bats were good against Price the last time the Yankees saw him.
Derek Jeter is scheduled to play tonight for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Pawtucket and then would be in the Yankees’ lineup on Monday at Toronto if everything goes well. The captain went 0-for-3 with a walk and run scored on Friday for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Girardi’s scouting report on Price: “You look at him three or four years ago and you see he threw 80-85 percent fastballs. But now he’s developed his repertoire. He’s got a curveball, slider a very good backdoor slider to righties. He’s got a very good changeup. He’s just evolved as a pitcher is what he’s done. He’s always had the great fastball but his secondary stuff is now pretty good.”
And what Girardi is looking for from Sabathia tonight: “This is a lineup that if you make mistakes, they’re going to hit the ball out of the ballpark and you got to stay away from the mistakes. Your sinker has to be effective, your changeup has to be effective, and you go from there.”
Girardi was asked if Sabathia’s weight loss might have anything to do with his struggles this season: “I don’t think so. It’s not like he’s 210 pounds. He’s not Mr. [Edwar] Ramirez that we used to have here. He’s still a big man. He’s still strong. I think he’s in tremendous shape.”
Yes, that’s right, there was an Edwar Ramirez reference today. Bet you weren’t counting on hearing anything about the man they called “Flacco.” I do miss watching Mariano Rivera stuff Ramirez into the lockers at the old Stadium.
Two other random thoughts about Ramirez, since my memory has been jogged — Mark Feinsand of the Daily News once made Ramirez cry, asking him about a grand slam that he gave up to Mark Teixeira, who was then with the Angels. Watching Edwar mop his tears with his uniform was just about the saddest thing you can see in a clubhouse. And then there’s the great quote from Kevin Millar about Ramirez: “Cute little fella. That’s good hittin’.”
Other notes — Adam Warren should be available in long relief out of the Yankees’ bullpen. … Lyle Overbay isn’t having a fun trip; he’s still having some flu-like symptoms, and it’s uncertain if he would be available to play tonight. Hey, at least he’s doing better than Chan Ho Park was in Boston. … The Yankees were watching the California/Connecticut Little League World Series game on the clubhouse TVs.
My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Alfonso Soriano. Streak is at zero after Alex Rodriguez went hitless last night.
And we’ll wrap today’s pre-game notes with a Debbie Downer not-so-fun fact for the Yankees: they’re 5-15 in their last 20 games at Tropicana Field dating back to July 21, 2011.
Phil Hughes is not pitching for his place in the Yankees’ rotation, according to manager Joe Girardi, even though the team is carrying a hungry Ivan Nova on the roster and looking to slot him somewhere into the team’s starting five.
Now, Girardi would never go so far as to put a player on notice about his spot being in jeopardy hours before he takes the mound, but it’s clear Hughes has not given the Yankees much to be pleased about of late. He has lost four of five decisions since May 15, going 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA in those starts, allowing at least one home run in five of those starts.
“It’s important. This is a guy we need to be consistent for us, and to get on a roll like he’s capable of doing,” Girardi said. “It starts with his fastball command, and using his other pitches.”
He’ll get a chance today as the Yankees try to secure a series victory in the rubber game of a three-game series with the Rangers, facing left-hander Derek Holland.
A statistical note for you: Robinson Cano, who is serving as the Yankees’ DH today, needs one hit to tie Frank Crosetti (1,541) for 19th place on the team’s all-time hits list.
Some other updates from Girardi’s session with the media this morning:
- Brett Gardner is out of the lineup today. Girardi said he is under the weather with a head cold, but Gardner has also played in all 77 of the Yankees’ games this season, so he’s due for a break.
- Girardi acknowledged that there are conflicting reports about Alex Rodriguez’s status, but from everything he has been told, A-Rod is making progress. Girardi said that the on-field staff in Tampa informed him that “he’s been making progress, moving better day after day, so it sounds like things are pretty good.”
- It would appear that Zoilo Almonte has been boosted into everyday duty in the Yankees’ outfield, and Girardi did not dispute that. It means, of course, that Vernon Wells has had to take a step back, but Girardi said that Wells has come ready to play every day, is prepared to pinch-hit and believes he has handled the situation “very professionally.”