Results tagged ‘ Alex Rodriguez ’

Yanks trust Nova to kick off pivotal Sox series

Ivan NovaIt’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.

Quick hits: A-Rod embraces the silence

greetings-from-torontoHere 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.

Alex Rodriguez, Andy PettitteCertainly, 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.

Girardi: Right now, Hughes is in our rotation

"I have to find a way to turn this around." - Phil Hughed

“I have to find a way to turn this around.” – Phil Hughes

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

QUOTES…

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.”

NOTES…

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.

ON DECK

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.

Quick hits: Derek Jeter, Take III

This photo is too good not to use.

This one’s for “Philip”. Yeah, that’s San Diego, but it’s just too good not to use.

greetings-from-torontoHere 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.

Quick hits: A-Rod gets a day off; Overbay returns to lineup

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.”

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