If you’re Austin Romine, strapping on the catching gear for your first big league start of the season, it has to be a reassuring sight to see Andy Pettitte’s name listed on the lineup card. Romine said he takes pride in going over the scouting reports with a fine-tooth comb, and I have no doubt he’ll be prepared with a back story for every one of the Astros’ hitters.
But still, Pettitte knows what his game plan should be and certainly is comfortable taking the wheel. With the Yankees trusting Romine and Pettitte to figure out the pitch-calling without any interference from the bench, Pettitte’s savvy is a nice fail-safe to have.
“Andy is pretty good about taking other players under his wing and letting them know what he wants to do,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s not going to get flustered out there if they don’t get in a rhythm right away. I think for that it works pretty well.”
Romine said that he spent the weekend catching guys in the bullpen after he was called up on Saturday, including getting re-acquainted with Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda. As of a few hours before game time, Romine said he wasn’t feeling any butterflies as he prepared to get behind the plate in a Major League game for the first time since Sept. 2011.
“No, actually I’m really excited. I thought there would be some,” Romine said. “I’m sure when the game starts I’ll be a little more excited than normal. I’m really excited to get out there and take hold of this opportunity.”
The Yankees have shown some resiliency of late, as they did last night in last night’s exciting comeback to topple David Price, Fernando Rodney and the Rays. They’ll try to parlay that into taking two of three in the series tonight at Tropicana Field, as Andy Pettitte heads to the hill for a New York team that is pleasing their manager.
“They’ve done a good job coming back in games during the course of this stretch,” Joe Girardi said. “After getting off to a little bit of a slow start they’ve bounced back very well, so I’m pleased with that.”
Ichiro Suzuki played a key role in the rally last night, singling and scoring the tying run in the eighth inning against Price and then lacing a two-run single to center field in the ninth. For his efforts, and also because the Yanks’ lineup doesn’t have Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells tonight, Ichiro has been bumped to the No. 2 spot in the lineup.
Girardi said that, as the Yankees prepare to face right-hander Alex Cobb, there can be a carryover effect from a rally like the one they had in the late innings last night.
“I think it gives you confidence when you’re behind in a game that your guys are going to figure it out if your pitcher can just hold them down, give us a chance to win a game,” Girardi said. “I think it builds character, and they’re good wins. They’re hard fought wins. It’s good for the spirit of a club.”
Pettitte is making his fourth start of the season, and outside of a brief setback with some back spasms, he has looked absolutely vintage. He’s 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and is trying to win his first four starts of a season for the first time in his career.
“He’s such a competitor,” Girardi said. “It’s kind of like Derek [Jeter], in a sense. Nothing really ever surprises you because we’ve seen him do it for such a long time and he’s such a competitor. If you look at one thing he’s really done well, he’s really given us distance. Maybe you don’t quite expect the distance that we’ve gotten out of him in the games, but I did expect him to pitch well.”
Kevin Youkilis is tethered to a table in the trainer’s room at Tropicana Field, his lower back keeping him from making a difference in the Yankees’ lineup. Mark Teixeira is on the bench but unable to make contact with baseballs as he tries to repair his right wrist. We’d imagine Derek Jeter is doing whatever world-famous professional athletes do on a Tuesday night in Charlotte, N.C.
All this means that the Yankees lineup they’ve got going for Phil Hughes against David Price tonight … leaves something to be desired. Joe Girardi believes they’ll find a way to get it done because it’s baseball and anything can happen on any given night, but it doesn’t look all that wonderful on paper. Girardi acknowledged tonight that he’d love to have Youkilis in the lineup, and while he’s at it, he wants the switch-hitting Teixeira and the right-handed Jeter back as well.
“You feel it a lot. You definitely feel it a lot because of what they’ve done against left-handers in their careers,” Girardi said. “A leadoff hitter and a middle-of-the-order hitter, you’ve got those two guys out, that’s something substantial.”
The good news for the Yankees is that Youkilis is expected to return on Thursday, when the Yankees come back to New York and open a series at Yankee Stadium. The Yanks haven’t done much against left-handed pitching this year – their .190 team batting average (42-for-221) is tied for the lowest in the American League and second only to the Pirates’ .169 mark – but Girardi is hopeful that it’s still just a small sample size.
“We haven’t seen that many lefties. I still think it’s a small sample,” Girardi said. “We’ve had some people out of the lineup too, which is a problem, but I think our guys are going to hit better against left-handers. Some of the right-handers, I think are going to hit better against the left-handers.”
The Yankees and the Blue Jays are scheduled for their first meeting of the season this weekend up at Rogers Centre, and – not counting their Spring Training battles – the three-game showdown will offer the reassembled Yanks lineup their first up-close look at the Toronto squad, a club that was picked by many to run away with the American League East after leading the division in winter noise.
“We know they’re a team in our division and they’ve been a club that before their additions were tough to me,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “They have a lot of guys that hit the ball out of the ballpark, they added some speed and some defense, and they’ve added to their rotation. And the additions to the rotation is experienced guys; it’s not a bunch of young kids. I am curious to see what they look like.”
Here are the probable starters for the weekend series, with the corresponding links to previews and lineup information when available:
The Yankees are 3-0 this season in series finales, a record they’ll try to improve tonight as the Yanks and Orioles wrap up their three-game weekend set here at Yankee Stadium.
Robinson Cano is back in the No. 3 spot in the lineup as the Yanks face left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, with Vernon Wells bumped up to the No. 2 spot. Ben Francisco is also taking over for Travis Hafner in the DH spot, stepping into his role as the DH against lefties, but Girardi said he had to keep Lyle Overbay at first base in the lineup because Eduardo Nunez isn’t ready to return from his wrist injury.
If Nunez was in the lineup, Girardi said he would’ve shifted Kevin Youkilis to first base and played Jayson Nix at third base. Hiroki Kuroda is on the hill for the Yanks in tonight’s 8:05 p.m. game, televised on ESPN.
The triple play that the Yankees turned last night was, depending on who you talked to, a thing of beauty, an incredible rarity or a display of poor baserunning by the Orioles.
Actually, maybe it was all three. You just don’t see the old 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 very often — this was the first one in Major League history. It was the Yankees’ first triple play at home 1968, when they turned one at the old Yankee Stadium against the Twins (Dooley Womack to Bobby Cox to Mickey Mantle, hit by Johnny Roseboro). The Yankees also turned one back in 2010 at Oakland (Alex Rodriguez to Robinson Cano to Nick Johnson on a grounder hit by Kurt Suzuki).
Even Joe Girardi’s kids appreciated the rarity of last night’s events, the Yankees manager said.
“I haven’t looked at it on replay. I saw it live so I do remember what happened,” Girardi said. “It’s interesting. My kids commented on it. My son [Dante] said it was awesome when I got home and then my daughter [Lena] said something, my six year old: ‘The triple out was really cool, Dad.’ So, I thought that was kind of neat. They knew that it was a rare occurrence and you’re not going to see it every day.”
Phil Hughes and Jason Hammel are today’s starting pitchers for the 4:05 p.m. ET game between New York and Baltimore, the second game of a six-game homestand.
Based upon the weather information the Yankees were getting last night, Joe Girardi seemed to think there was no way that there would be baseball tonight at Progressive Field.
Guess what? The skies seem to be clearing over Cleveland, so Phil Hughes and Zach McAllister may get to pitch tonight as the Yanks and Indians wrap up a four-game series that was shaved to three games by last night’s rainout.
It’s raining, but the Indians say the game is scheduled to start at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET.
Hughes is feeling better after battling a stomach virus yesterday and should be able to get on the mound; if not, Ivan Nova is on call out of the bullpen.
The forecast still isn’t wonderful, but it’s improving, and we’ll keep you posted if they’re able to get on the field. Girardi said that his feeling is “once the rain starts, it’s probably not going to stop,” so we’ll see what happens.
- A few notes to pass along — Curtis Granderson posted a photo to his Facebook page showing that the brace has been removed from his right wrist and that he has been cleared for non-baseball activities. Girardi said that Granderson resumed throwing on Thursday. … Mark Teixeira will have his right wrist looked at by Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser on Friday in New York and believes he’ll be cleared to start swinging a fungo bat. … Derek Jeter had the day off down at the Yanks’ training complex.
Robinson Cano connected for his third home run in the last two games and Indians starter Carlos Carrasco was ejected after drilling Kevin Youkilis in the back as the Yankees opened up an early seven-run lead on Tuesday at Progressive Field.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona didn’t appreciate the ejection and made that clear to home plate umpire Jordan Baker, but there’s not much they can do about it now. The way Carrasco was pitching, he wasn’t long for this one anyway.
Ichiro Suzuki also has a home run and Brett Gardner picked up a two-run single for the Yankees, who are leaning on Andy Pettitte to hold the big advantage and deliver New York’s third consecutive victory. There’s a much smaller crowd on hand here in Cleveland after yesterday’s Opening Day festivities, and the way things are going, the tally of those in attendance will probably thin a little bit more as we head into the late innings.
There is always a lot of attention on pitch velocities, especially when they correspond with any hint of trouble, but Joe Girardi said that he won’t be glued to the radar gun readings when CC Sabathia takes on the Tigers this afternoon.
“This is typical for CC,” Girardi said. “In the seasons that we’ve had, his velocity in April is not the same as it is in June, July, August. That’s been his DNA. I can’t tell you how high it’s going to go, but I know it’s going to go up. I believe it’s going to go up, just like it did last year.
“There were a lot of pitches he threw 89, 90 mph early in the season. But I think, because of what he went through last year, I think people are paying closer attention to it. But this is not abnormal for CC.”
Sabathia has said numerous times that he does not get caught up in marquee pitching matchups – a lesson he learned the hard way in his young Indians days, when he tried to match Pedro Martinez pitch-for-pitch and wound up heading to the showers early – but this promises to be a good one with Sabathia and Justin Verlander locking up. Girardi said his hitters don’t need any reminders about the mission here today.
“They know what they have to do,” Girardi said. “The thing about Justin is, he has four swing-and-miss pitches. You have to be patient on him. You have to hope he’s having a hard time commanding a few early in the game, because once he gets on a roll, he’s pretty tough.”
There was a nice pregame ceremony to honor Mariano Rivera. Tigers manager Jim Leyland shook hands with Rivera behind home plate and unveiled the team’s gift to the retiring 43-year-old, a photo display of Rivera pitching at both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park. The display also included glass bottles containing dirt from the pitcher’s mound at both ballparks. Rivera doffed his cap to the cheering crowd and raised both hands in appreciation, offering Leyland a hug.
The Yankees and Tigers are underway. Lineups for both teams and expanded game information is available via MLB GameDay.
In a perfect world, the Yankees would have received a report sometime today about Phil Hughes’ outing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. This is not a perfect world, so they’ll be able to watch Hughes get his work in against the Tigers right here in Detroit.
Manager Joe Girardi said that the team’s overtaxed bullpen left them with little padding if anything were to happen with David Phelps, who’d originally been the Yankees’ scheduled starter today, so they changed Hughes’ travel itinerary coming from Florida and told him to skip the extra Minor League outing.
“We don’t really have a long guy if we start Phelpsie today, so we felt if something were to happen with Phelpsie we’d have a little trouble there,” Girardi said. “It was kind of out of necessity. We wanted him to make one more start, but he’s going to make it here.”
If you’re wondering what Derek Jeter is up to, he took 41 ground balls this morning on the outfield grass standing near the left field fence. If this update sounds at all familiar, it’s because Jeter basically was doing the same thing on Feb. 11.
Jeter tried to suggest on March 24 that he hadn’t actually had a setback, but the fact that he seems to be starting Spring Training over points to that he is still weeks and not days away from being in a big league game.
That increases the importance that the Yankees get Eduardo Nunez back as soon as possible from his bruised right biceps; he is expected to only be available as a pinch-runner today but said he could play tomorrow.
The Yankees and Tigers get started here at Comerica Park at 4:05 p.m. ET. Lineups for both teams and expanded game information is available via MLB GameDay.