I have been receiving some excellent questions lately and I thought it would be a great time to share some of them of with you all. So let’s dip into the old e-mail and see what is on the minds of some fellow Yankee fans.
Q: With Brett Gardner out do you think the Yankees should trade for another outfielder, preferably someone with some speed? Why not bring Eduardo Nunez back up and play him in left? (CiscoK)
A: Cisco, I would be with on board with a trade for an outfielder with some speed but the news concerning Gardner is actually pretty good. After getting an opinion on his balky right elbow from Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, FL, on Monday, Gardner received a confirmation of the diagnosis from Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati on Thursday. The opinion is that Gardner should rest the elbow an additional three to four weeks and he does not require surgery. Gardner received a platelet-rich plasma and cortisone shot on Thursday and he will wear an elbow brace to ensure the elbow is rested properly. That is pretty good news. I have heard rumors about the Yankees may be interested in Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs and Chone Figgins of the Mariners but both those guys earn hefty paychecks and the Yankees want to cut payroll. So unless they can get a team to pay most of the tab like the Yankees did with A.J. Burnett, it does not make much sense. As for Nunez, he injured his thumb and is currently on the minor-league disabled list. So even if the Yankees wanted to call him up, they really can’t because of the injury.
Q: Why did the Yankees send David Phelps down instead of Freddy Garcia or Cody Eppley? (JIMMAJAMMA)
A: The Yankees decided to activate David Robertson on Thursday instead of waiting before Friday’s game against the Nationals in Wasington and Phelps was sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The answer, JJ, does not come down to performance or who deserves to go. It is simply because Phelps is 25, he has options left and the Yankees really see him as a starter and not a reliever. Phelps was 1-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 33 2/3 innings over 13 games (two starts). He impressed the Yankees with aggressiveness and he really has a bright future ahead of him. Garcia (0-2, 7.68 ERA) is being paid more than $4 million this season and the Yankees are not going to eat that contract by sending him out or releasing him at age 35. Eppley is 1-1 with a 5.16 ERA but he has been much better in June than he was in May. He has a 2.08 ERA against right-handers and he gets exposed when he faces lefties (5.40 ERA). Eppley is a specialist like Clay Rapada is from the left side and he seems to have earned the trust of manager Joe Girardi.
Q: Why do the Yankees keep Francisco Cervelli at Scranton when Russell Martin can’t hit? (Martini88)
A: Martin has been hitting a lot better this month and, truthfully, the Yankees are in love with his pitch selection, defense and throwing. Girardi and bench coach Tony Pena, who know a bit about catching in the majors, think he is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball. He does a great job of blocking pitches in the dirt and he does dissuade teams like the Angels and Rays from turning the game into a track meet. Backup Chris Stewart is out of options and he can’t be sent to the minor leagues without losing him as a free agent. The Yankees do not care what he hits and love his defense also. Frankly, Francisco Cervelli is at Scranton because the Yankees were not happy with his throwing accuracy. In 174 games in the major leagues, Cervelli has committed 20 errors and he has nailed base-runners at a subpar 19%. Stewart in 104 games has committed 10 errors and he has nailed base-runners at rate of 38 percent. I think that pretty much explains it.
Q: Are the Yankees paying a big price for not going after C.J. Wilson or Yu Darvish? (Tex25Fan25)
A: I don’t think so. Their recent surge (16 out of their last 20 games) has been accomplished largely with the addition of Andy Pettitte and pitchers like Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova pitching much better than they did in April. If you look at what has happened to the Rays’ staff the last few days against the Mets, I think you can see that even good pitchers can go through some struggles. It is much better to get them out of the way early and the Yankees starters seemed to have done that. Besides the Yankees, if you can believe it, are not looking to add payroll because of the more stringent salary cap rules that go into effect in 2014. As a result, the Yankees won’t be looking at big-ticket free agents unless they shed a lot of salaries to ckear room. So they only made a token bid on Darvish and they basically ignored Wilson. That will continue for the next three years.
Thank you for your interest in my blog and keep your questions coming.
YANKEES 3, BRAVES 0
In the Mad Max film “The Road Warrior,” Mel Gibson (Max) protects a band of survivors in post-apocalyptic Australia. If they did a current version, they would need to cast Ivan Nova as Max because his pitching on the road has protected a Yankee roster ravaged by injuries.
Nova twirled seven shutout innings en route to 11th career road victory with no defeats in 14 starts as New York stormed into Turner Field and blanked Atlanta for their ninth victory in their last 11 games.
Nova (8-2) gave up just five hits – all of them singles – and one walk and struck out six to tie Matt Harrison of Texas, David Price of Tampa Bay and Chris Sale of Chicago for the American League lead in victories. Nova’s victory also lifted the surging Yankees into a tie with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the American League East.
The Yankees offense, meanwhile, was able to score single runs in the first three innings off Braves right-hander Randall Delgado (4-6).
With two out in the first inning, Alex Rodriguez smacked a line-drive double over the head of left-fielder Martin Prado and to the wall. Robinson Cano followed with a single up the middle to score Rodriguez.
They added a run in the second inning on a leadoff home run into the right-field bleachers off the bat of Raul Ibanez, his 10th of the season.
In the third inning, the Yankees loaded the bases on Delgado with one out on a walk to Rodriguez, a double by Cano and a four-pitch walk to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees have had trouble all season scoring runs with the bases loaded but this time they received some help from Delgado.
With two out and Nick Swisher at the plate, Delgado bounced a change-up into the dirt past Braves catcher Brain McCann and Rodriguez scored from third standing up.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, they were unable to take advantage of the eight hits and seven walks they earned off Braves pitching. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 11 runners on base.
Instead, Nova leaned on the Yankees’ defense to keep the Braves off the board.
Swisher made a sensational leaping catch at the wall in right-field to rob McCann of a potential two-run home run in the fourth inning. Cano then ended the fourth with a deft stab of a scorched one-hopper off the bat of Freddie Freeman. The Yankees also turned in a pair of double plays, including one by Nova in which he snared a liner off the bat of Andrelton Simmons and doubled up Jason Heyward at first.
The Yankees’ bullpen – minus a resting Rafael Soriano – shut down the Braves the last two innings as manager Joe Girardi played mix-and-match with righties Cody Eppley and Cory Wade and lefties Clay Rapada and Boone Logan. They retired all six batters they faced and they did not allow a ball out of the infield.
With the interleague victory, the Yankees ran their major-league-best record to 162-109 for a .596 winning percentage. The Yankees are also 7-2 at Turner Field.
The Yankees season record improves to 35-25. The Braves drop to 34-27.
- Nova’s seven shutout innings lowered his ERA to 4.64. In his last two starts, Nova is 2-0 with a 0.60 ERA having given up one run on nine hits and two walks and fanning 11 over 15 innings of work. His career record is now 24-6. Despite the talk about his early-season ERA, the home runs he has given up and the run support he gets, there can be no denying this 25-year-old right-hander has a brilliant career ahead of him.
- Cano extended his hitting streak to nine games and he is 11-for-33 (.333) in that span with three home runs and seven RBIs. His 2-for-4 night brought his season average back to .300.
- Rodriguez’s base-running was crucial to the Yankees scoring a third run off Delgado. He was on first when Cano laced a ball into left-center. Rodriguez chose to challenge the arm of Braves center-fielder Michael Bourn and he slid into third just ahead of the tag of Chipper Jones. He then scored on Delgado’s wild pitch.
- I am going to keep harping on the poor performance of Yankee hitters with runners in scoring position because it will cost them dearly in close games against good teams and in the playoffs.
- Russell Martin popped out with the bases loaded in the fourth and he hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh with the bags full. He ended up leaving a total of eight base-runners in going 0-for-4. Martin was yesterday’s big hero, but on Monday he did not deliver when he had chances to break the game open. Of course, he was not alone.
- Ibanez struck out with one out and runners at second and third in the third inning. Not making contact in that situation is an absolute no-no.
Reliever David Robertson will make one more rehab appearance on Tuesday at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and he could rejoin the team this weekend in Washington when the Yankees face the Nationals. Robertson has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 15 with a left oblique strain. . . . Despite sporting a bruise on his left hand he sustained on Sunday by bare-handing a hard-hit ball, left-hander Andy Pettitte said he will be able to pitch in his next start on Saturday against the Nationals. . . . The Yankees will not know if Brett Gardner’s troublesome right elbow will need surgery until after he is examined by a specialist on Thursday for a second opinion. Dr. James Andrews examined Gardner’s right elbow on Monday but is it unclear if surgery would be necessary until Dr. Timothy Kremchek has a chance to examine Gardner on Thursday. Gardner has played in only nine games this season and on two occasions just before being activated Gardner has felt recurring pain in the elbow.
The Yankees will look to take the series and extend their winning streak to five games against the Braves on Tuesday.
Left-hander CC Sabathia (7-3, 3.69 ERA) gets the call for the Yankees. Sabathia is coming off a loss to the Rays in which he gave up five runs in seven innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.24 ERA in two career starts against the Braves.
The Braves are throwing a lefty of their own in Mike Minor (3-4, 6.57 ERA). Minor held the Marlins to one run on four hits over five innings to earn his first victory since April 19. Minor has never pitched against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.
YANKEES 4, METS 2
A month ago, Yankee fans did not know what was worse, Mark Teixeira’s cough or his constant choking at the plate with runners on base.
On Saturday, Teixeira did not cough up his opportunity or choke in the clutch. He launched a huge two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Yankees losing 2-1 to Dillon Gee and the Mets and the Yankees got another strong outing from Phil Hughes to clinch the home portion of the Subway Series.
Another sellout crowd of 48,575 at Yankee Stadium watched in awe as Teixeira swung at a hanging 2-2 curveball from Gee and pulled it into the right-field bleachers for his 11th home run of the season.
Up to that point Gee (4-4) had held the Yankees hitless since the first inning when they scored a run on an Alex Rodriguez one-out RBI single, loaded the bases and – even if you were not a psychic you could have predicted this – Raul Ibanez hit into a inning-ending double play.
From that point on the Yankees could not hit Gee’s change-up if he told them it was coming. Over the next four innings, Gee only gave up a leadoff walk to Derek Jeter in the third inning and a leadoff walk to Teixiera in the fourth. (Of course, Teixiera was immediately erased on another double play off the bat of Ibanez.)
But a third leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson in the sixth proved fatal to Gee. Two outs later, Teixeira put the Yankees ahead for good.
Granderson handed the Yankees an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning by delivering his 18th home run of the season off Mets reliever Bobby Parnell.
Hughes (6-5), meanwhile, was victimized by the long-ball as he has been most of the season.
He gave up a solo home run to a 30-year-old shortstop who came into the game with just two career home runs when he played briefly for the Colorado Rockies in 2008. Omar Quintanilla, who broke up Hiroki Kuroda’s no-hitter with two outs in the sixth inning on Friday, blasted a Hughes fastball into the right-field seats in the third inning to tie the contest at 1-1.
Hughes then gave up a second solo home run to David Wright in the sixth inning, which put the Mets into the lead for the first time in the weekend series. With the two home runs he surrendered on Saturday Hughes has been nicked for 15 home runs in 68 innings this season.
Hughes left with one out in the in the seventh inning having been touched for six hits and two walks and he struck out six.
A bullpen combination of Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Clay Rapada pitch scoreless ball through eight innings and Rafael Soriano pitched around a walk and single in the ninth to get pinch-hitter Jodany Valdespin to fly out to earn his ninth save of the season in as many opportunities.
With the victory the Yankees imroved their season record to 32-25 and they remain a half-game out of first place behind the Rays in the American League East. The Mets fell to 32-28.
- For all the talk about how horrible the Yankees’ starting rotation was in April, Hughes has shut those critics up with his recent spate of good outings. In his last seven starts, Hughes is 5-1 with a 3.47 ERA. After missing most of the 2011 season with weakness in his right shoulder, Hughes is beginning to show the form he showed in 2010, when he was 18-8 and made the All-Star team.
- Teixeira would also like to forget about April be he hit just .244 with three home runs and 12 RBIs that month. Since then, Teixeira has hit eight home runs and driven in 23 runs. This is despite the fact Teixeira has hit just .171 over his last 10 games.
- Granderson’s home run in the eighth put him in third place in the major leagues with 18, trailing Adam Dunn with 19 and Josh Hamilton with 22. Granderson has also been mired in a horrific batting slump this month. He is hitting only .161 in June and has struck out 10 times in 31 at-bats this month.
- Although he is having a fine season for the Yankees, Ibanez was a big disappointment with the bat on Saturday. He was 1-for-3 but he hit into a double play in his other two at-bats and the first one came with the bases loaded. Ibanez has been one of the few Yankees to hit pretty well with runners in scoring position but he is 0-for-10 this season with the bases loaded. Ouch!
- The bottom of the order was totally useless on Saturday. Nick Swisher (batting seventh), Eric Chavez (eighth) and Russell Martin (ninth) were a combined 0-for-9 in the game and they struck out three times. Chavez, who flew out twice, was the only one of the three to get a ball out the infield.
- Swisher’s 0-for-3 night snapped a modest six-game hitting streak in which he was 8-for-21 (.381) with a home run and five RBIs. Swisher has only 17 walks this season after drawing 95 last season. He also has struck out 46 times this season, which is a high total for him.
It seems Brett Gardner is good about teasing us with his imminent return from the disabled list only to disappoint us again. After playing in a rehab game at Class A Charleston, Gardner reported feeling pain in his right elbow on Saturday morning and he is now sidelined indefinitely. Gardner will be sent to Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, FL, for an evaluation early next week. He also will visit with Dr. Timothy Kremchek in Cincinnati. Gardner had three at-bats and played five innings on Friday. He was expected to play again on Saturday and rejoin the team on Monday in Atlanta. Manager Joe Girardi said Gardner likely will not rejoin the team until some time after the All-Star break. . . . Kuroda said that he will be able to make his next scheduled start on Wednesday in Atlanta. Kuroda was struck in the left foot by a line drive off the bat of Daniel Murphy on Friday and Kuroda left the game for precautionary X-rays, which showed just a deep bone bruise. . . . Rodriguez’s RBI single in the first inning marked the 1,917th RBI of his career, which ties him with Eddie Murray for seventh on the all-time list. Meanwhile, Rodriguez’s hit scored Jeter with his 1,800th run, moving him past Ted Williams for 17th place on the all-time list.
The Yankees will go for a sweep of the weekend series for bragging rights in the Big Apple against the Mets.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.78 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Yankees. He is coming off a stellar 7 1/3 inning performance against the Rays in which he gave up just two hits and struck out 10. He has won three of his four starts at Yankee Stadium this season and he is 8-5 with a 3.69 ERA in his career against the Mets.
Opposing Pettitte will be fellow left-hander Jonathon Niese (4-2, 4.11 ERA). Niese struck out 10 in a victory against the Cardinals on Sunday. He did not allow a run in his six innings of work. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS and locally by the YES Network.