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).
Today: RHP Phil Hughes (4-13, 4.91) vs. LHP Jose Quintana (7-4, 3.66). 1:05pm, YES/MLB Network
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.89) vs LHP Chris Sale (10-12, 2.99). 7:05pm, YES
Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia (12-11, 4 .91) vs LHP Hector Santiago (4-8, 3.43). 7:05pm, YES
We updated our story from last night on MLB.com, but in case you missed it, the Yankees released the following statement this afternoon about Eduardo Nunez:
Please note that an MRI taken earlier today at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on Eduardo Nunez’s right knee was negative. Nunez is day-to-day.
Nunez was very concerned about a possible disabled list assignment when he left Rogers Centre last night.
It’s been a rough year for Nunez, who thought he’d get a chance to shine as the starting shortstop with Derek Jeter missing most of the year. But Nunez wound up falling victim to the injury bug as well and didn’t really distinguish himself much when he was in the lineup.
Also on the injury front, Robinson Cano was supposed to get treatment today at Yankee Stadium on his bruised left hand. Cano is hopeful that he will play Friday against the Orioles, but he’ll have to go through batting practice before the Yankees know for sure.
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.
The Yankees have the results of Robinson Cano’s X-ray, and now they can breathe a sigh of relief. Cano’s left hand shows no fracture, and he’s considered day-to-day with a contusion (bruise).
You would imagine that Cano might sit out tomorrow’s game with an off-day coming up on Thursday, but considering what might have been, that’s very welcome news for the Yanks. We’ll have more from the clubhouse later tonight.
TORONTO — Alfonso Soriano officially joined the 400 home run club on Tuesday, connecting for the milestone blast off Blue Jays’ left-hander J.A. Happ during the Yankees’ game at Rogers Centre.
Soriano homered in his first two plate appearances of the evening to become the seventh player to hit his 400th homer as a Yankee, belting a three-run blast to left field in the first inning off Happ before following up with a solo shot in the third inning.
The homers were Soriano’s 10th and 11th since joining the Yankees from the Cubs in a July 26 trade, marking his sixth multi-homer game of the season and the 36th of his Major League career. He has 28 overall for the year.
“His numbers have been pretty good,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday’s game. “What he’s done here in the month of August, I’m sure people are talking about it. There’s baseball left in this guy, and he can have a really good year.”
Soriano started his big league career with the Yankees in 1999 and hit 98 homers for New York before being traded to the Rangers in the Feb. 2004 deal that brought Alex Rodriguez to the Bronx.
He hit 64 home runs in his two seasons with Texas, then enjoyed a 46-homer campaign with the Nationals in 2006 before signing as a free agent with the Cubs, where Soriano slugged 181 of his career home runs.
Soriano can claim some select company in slugging his 400th homer in a Yankees uniform. The other six players to have done so are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Gary Sheffield and A-Rod.