Tagged: Joe Blanton

Warren Courts Dominance To Overturn Royals

GAME 46

YANKEES 5, ROYALS 1

Critics assessing Adam Warren’s first six starts argued that he was ill-suited to start games, he had lost velocity he had as a reliever and he would be more productive in the bullpen. Well, after his past three starts, including the gem he threw on Tuesday, those critics need to just shut up.

Warren pitched one-run baseball into the seventh inning and Mark Teixeira fueled the offense with a double, a home run and four RBIs as New York stormed back into first place in the American League East with a victory over Kansas City at Yankee Stadium.

The Royals’ only tally came in the sixth inning on a one-out solo home run by Paulo Orlando as Warren (3-3) held the Royals to just two hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

The Yankees, meanwhile, jumped on left-hander Jason Vargas (3-2) with two out in the first inning when Alex Rodriguez drew a walk and Teixeira followed with a blast that caromed off the wall of the visitor’s bullpen in left-center for his 14th home run of the season.

Vargas, who was making his first start after being activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, left after four innings yielding two runs on four hits and one walk with six strikeouts.

The Yankees padded their lead in the fifth off veteran right-hander Joe Blanton.

Chris Young reached on a one-out infield hit and Rodriguez advanced him to third with an opposite-field single to right. Teixeira then lined a double into the gap in right-center that rolled to the wall that scored both runners.

Teixeira was able to advance to third when center-fielder Lorenzo Cain briefly bobbled the ball for an error. Chase Headley then scored Teixeira with a sacrifice fly.

That was all the support Warren needed. Justin Wilson got the final two outs in the seventh and the “Twin Towers,” Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, each pitched a scoreless inning between them to seal the victory for the Yankees.

The Yankees are now 24-22 on the season and, as a result of the Tampa Bay’s 7-6 loss to the Seattle Mariners, the Yankees have reclaimed a half-game lead in the division on the Rays. The Royals dropped to 28-17.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Warren, 27, was unable to pitch six full innings in any of his first six starts this season and in all nine of his career starts. But he now has pitched into the seventh inning in each of his past three starts. Despite losing his previous two starts, Warren in his past three starts has allowed only six runs on 13 hits and five walks with 16 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings for a 2.75 ERA and an excellent 0.92 ERA. It appears that when right-handers Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova are activated off the disabled list over the next several weeks, Warren may not be so easy to remove from the rotation.
  • Teixeira’s “turn-back-the-clock” season back to 2011, when he hit 39 home runs and drove in 111 runs, continues. Teixeira’s 14 home runs are second in the American League to Nelson Cruz of the Mariners, who has 17. His 35 RBIs are tied for third in the AL with Cruz. Teixeira, 35, is on a pace to hit 48 home runs and drive in 120 runs. His career high in homers is the 45 he hit in his final season with the Texas Rangers in 2006.
  • Though Rodriguez has not hit a home run since May 16 in Kansas City, he now has a modest five-game hitting streak and he is 8-for-18 (.444) over that span. That has raised his season average to .270. Rodriguez was 2-for-3 with two runs scored in Tuesday’s game.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Other than Headley committing his 10th error at third base this season there is not much to criticize. After losing 10 of 11 games through Sunday, the Yankees have now got off the mat to win two games in a row against the team with the best record in baseball to retake first place. I can’t complain about that.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance to sweep the Royals and win the season series four games to two with a victory on Wednesday.

Right-hander Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.59 ERA) will go to the mound for the Yankees looking to get back on track. Pineda has been blasted for nine runs on 18 hits and one walk with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings over his past two starts  –  losses to the Royals and Rangers.

Right-hander Chris Young (4-0, 0.78 ERA) will pitch for the Royals. Young, 36, shut out the St. Louis Cardinals on six hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six innings on Friday. He also defeated the Yankees on May 15 in Kansas City.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

 

Advertisements

Classic Sabathia Deals Royal Flush To Kansas City

GAME 38

YANKEES 5, ROYALS 1

In the not-so-distant past the Yankees leaned upon CC Sabathia as an ace who could always end a long losing streak. So Saturday was like a casual stroll down memory lane as Sabathia helped his team end a four-game skid.

Sabathia yielded just one run in seven strong innings and Chase Headley blasted a two-out, three-run home run in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie as New York evened their three-game series with Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.

Sabathia (2-5) limited the hot-hitting Royals to just six hits with no walks and five strikeouts to win his second consecutive start after beginning the season 0-5.

“Hopefully I can just keep this going,” Sabathia told reporters. “I feel good, I’ve got no problems. Hopefully I can just keep going out there and give us a chance to win.”

The Yankees managed a run off left-hander Danny Duffy (2-3) in the third inning and it was scored without the benefit of a hit. Duffy walked Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira to load the bases with one out. Carlos Beltran then delivered a sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

But the Royals replied in the bottom of the inning. Omar Infante singled, Paulo Orlando reached on a bunt single and Alcides Escobar loaded the bases with a hard-hit single to center. Mike Moustakas then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to score Infante.

The Yankees then managed to get to a struggling Duffy with two out in the fifth. Teixeira and Beltran each singled and Headley followed by driving a 3-2 change-up from Duffy into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.

“We’ve had opportunities and we just haven’t driven anybody in,” Headley told reporters. “That’s going to happen throughout the course of the season. Tonight, it was nice to be able to come through with that swing.”

Duffy was charged with four runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts in five innings.

Sabathia, with help from right-hander Dellin Betances in the eighth inning and left-hander Andrew Miller in the ninth, held the Royals scoreless the rest of the way. The Royals did not have a base-runner reach base after Moustakas reached on a fielding error by Jose Pirela with one in the ninth.

Sabathia, Betances and Miller combined to mow down the final 14 batters they faced and only three balls reached the outfield  –  none of them after the sixth inning.

Rodriguez clubbed the 664th home run of his career and his 10th of the season with one out in the ninth inning off veteran right-hander Joe Blanton.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 22-16 and they extended their lead in the American League East over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays to two games. The Royals dropped to 23-14.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • In his first six starts, Sabathia was 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA. In his past two starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Sabathia, 34, has allowed just four earned runs on 12 hits and two walks with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings. It appears Sabathia has been able to mix in his change-up more to keep right-handed hitters off his fastball. He also has developed much better command of all his pitches and he is keeping batters off balance. He needed only 85 pitches to get through seven innings on Saturday.
  • It is no secret that Headley has been struggling at the plate this season. He came in batting only .229 with four homers and 14 RBIs. But if Headley, 31, can somehow get more consistent at the plate he could be a big help to the lower part of the batting order. Headley hit .262 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 58 games with the Yankees last season. He already has five homers and 17 RBIs in 38 games this season.
  • Beltran, 38, was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI and it extends what has been a very hot May at the plate for the veteran outfielder. After batting a miserable .162 with no home runs and seven RBIs in April, Beltran is hitting .327 with two homers and nine RBIs halfway through May.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

After losing four in a row, including a 12-1 drubbing by the Royals on Friday, it was good to see Sabathia throwing so well against what has been a hot-hitting club. Headley’s big home run came with two out and a two-strike count. That clutch hit gave Sabathia all he needed to beat the Royals. No complaints here.

BOMBER BANTER

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will travel with the Yankees to Washington, DC, on Monday and throw a third bullpen session. If all goes well, Tanaka, 26, could be sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment. Tanaka has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 29 with tendinitis in his right wrist and a strained right forearm.  . . .  The Yankees on Saturday recalled right-hander Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned right-hander Jose Ramirez to the same club. Ramirez, 24, was charged with four runs on three hits and two walks in an inning against the Royals on Friday. Mitchell, 24, was 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts with the RailRiders.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have an opportunity to win the rubber game of the three-game series with the Royals on Sunday.

Left-hander Chris Capuano, 36, will make his season debut with the Yankees and his first start. Capuano suffered an injured right quad in his second start in spring training on March 11. The Yankees re-signed the veteran after he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the team last season.

He will be opposed by right-hander Edinson Volquez (2-3, 3.19 ERA), who is coming off a rough outing against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. Volquez, 31, gave up four runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts in a no-decision.

Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

A-Rod Starts Red Hot As Yankees Cool Off Phils

GAME 2

YANKEES 7, PHILLIES 4

TAMPA – When it comes to anything positive that Alex Rodriguez does this spring, it will always be couched in very cautious terms. Last spring, Rodriguez was in excellent shape and hit everything in sight but it did not carry over to the 2011 season.

So when Rodriguez hit a screaming line-drive home run to right-center on the first Grapefruit League pitch he saw from Roy Halladay and then followed it up with a single and an RBI double off Joel Pineiro, Rodriguez tried to keep it all in perspective after the game.

“Last year, I stood here and had a really good spring, felt really good and the results during the year weren’t what we all wanted,” Rodriguez said. “[I take it] definitely one day a time. A good start; hopefully the first of many more days to come.”

The same can be said for the Yankees as a whole.

They shook off a two-run home run in the first inning by Hunter Pence, his second two-run shot off the Yankees in two days, to come back to score four unanswered runs as they went on to defeat the Phiilies for the second straight day in the team’s home Grapefruit league opener on Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The Phiilies helped the Yankees by committing four errors in the field. The losing pitcher, Pineiro (0-1), was the victim of most of the misplays.

After Pineiro walked Francisco Cervelli on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded and two out in the third inning to tie the score at 2-2, the Phillies treated the ball like a hand grenade in the fourth.

Justin Maxwell reached base with one out on a fielding error by third baseman Ty Wigginton. Second baseman Mike Martinez then botched a double-play ball off the bat of Derek Jeter that allowed Maxwell to advance to second while Martinez recovered to retire Jeter. Then Martinez made his second error in as many innings on a ball off the bat of Robinson Cano that allowed Maxwell to score the game’s eventual deciding run.

Rodriguez finished off the error-laden rally with an RBI double to the wall in left field to score Cano.

Rookie right-hander D.J. Mitchell (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings behind starter Freddy Garcia to pick up the victory. Young right-hander Chase Whitley got credit for a save despite the fact he gave up two hits in the ninth.

The Yankees have a 2-0 spring record. The Phillies are 0-2.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • A-Rod’s 3-for-3 day illustrated why it is so important to keep the 36-year-old slugger healthy for a full season. When he is locked in at the plate he remains one of the scariest hitters in baseball to face. Rodriguez was limited to only 99 games last season due to a knee injury and later a sprained left thumb.
  • Despite the fact Garcia was tagged for a two-run home run, he still pitched well in his two innings of work. Garcia gave up two runs on four hits. He did not walk a batter and he struck out two. He threw 25 of his 33 pitches for strikes.
  • The Yankees teed off on 6-foot-7, 255-pound right-hander Phillippe Aumont for three runs in the seventh inning to extend their lead to 7-3. Jose Gil blasted an RBI double after Domonic Brown dropped a routine fly ball off the bat of Corbin Joseph for a two-base error. Catching prospect J.R. Murphy and Jayson Nix later added RBI singles to close out the Yankees’ scoring.
  • Clay Rapada, who is in a four-way battle to become the second left-hander in the bullpen, threw a perfect inning of relief and struck out two batters.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  •  Cano pulled a base-running blunder that cost the Yankees in the third inning. With one out and Cano on second and Rodriguez at first, Cano drifted towards second base on fly ball off the bat of Mark Teixeira that dropped out of the glove of shortstop Freddy Galvis. Brown picked up the ball in left-field and threw Cano out easily at third base in an odd fielder’s choice from the outfield.
  • Yankee pitching gave up a total of 12 hits, five of them for extra bases. The one positive is they only walked one and struck out nine batters. The Phillies hurt their own cause by hitting just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and they left the bases loaded in the first inning en route to stranding eight runners overall.
  • Relievers Corey Wade and Kevin Whelan each gave up an earned run in their one inning of work. Wade gave up a two-out, two-run double to Galvis in the sixth and Whelan was touched for RBI out by Hector Luna scoring Lou Montanez in the eighth.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees celebrated their home opener by inviting the George M. Steinbrenner High School band to perform during the pregame show. Haley Swindal performed the national anthem during a flyover by two F18 Hornet jets from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA.  . . .  After a 82-degree day in Clearwater, FL, on Saturday, temperatures dipped to the mid-60s on Sunday in Tampa and a sellout crowd of 10,981 had to brave 20-mph winds blowing from the left-field line to the right-field line.. The wind also played havoc with fly balls for the second straight day, making pop-ups an adventure for both teams.  . . .  Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano are scheduled to pitch a live inning of batting practice on Monday at Steinbrenner Field. Manager Joe Girardi said Rivera will throw one more batting practice session and then will be ready for game action next week.  . . .   Starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pitched a simulated inning on Sunday in preparation for his spring debut Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays.  . . .  Outfielder Cole Garner was sidelined on Sunday with hamstring tightness after homering in the Yankees’ Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies in Clearwater on Saturday. He will be re-evaluated on Monday, Girardi said.

ON DECK

The Yankees will travel to Bright House Field in Clearwater on Monday to take on the Phillies for the third straight day.

Newly acquired right-hander Michael Pineda, 23, will make his Yankee debut as the starting pitcher. David Robertson is among a group of relievers also expected to pitch on Monday. The Yankees also will bring their starting outfield of Brett Garner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.

The Phillies will counter with with veteran right-hander Joe Blanton. Scott Elarton, Austin Hyatt, Brian Sanches and David Herndon also are scheduled to pitch for the Phillies.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network.

 

A-Rod, Tex Hit Homers As CC Cruises To Defeat  Phillies

GAME 24
YANKEES 8, PHILLIES 1
CC Sabathia pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run baseball and Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez connected for back-to-back homers to lead off the fourth inning as New York coasted to a victory over Philadelphia on Sunday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL.
Sabathia allowed only a solo home run to Jimmy Rollins in the sixth inning. He gave up six hits, one walk and fanned five to lower his spring ERA to 3.31. Phillies starter Joe Blanton (1-1) was tagged for eight hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.
The Yankees improved their spring record to 9-12-3. The Phillies are 15-9 on the season.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • If there is any doubt that Alex Rodriguez is locked this spring, he laid rest to it. Rodriguez raised his average to s sizzling .432 with a 2-for-3 day. he now has five home runs and 11 RBIs.
  • It was nice to Mark Teixeira launch his first home run of the spring. Hoping to avoid his annual April slump, Teixeira is hitting .342 on the spring.
  • Brett Gardner looked very comfortable in the leadoff spot and was 2-for-4 with two singles and an RBI. Manager Joe Girardi has not made it official but he could name Gardner as the leadoff hitter and drop Derek Jeter to the No. 2 spot this season.
  • The bullpen looked sensational behind Sabathia. David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Boone Logan combined to pitch 2 1/3 innings of no-hit, no-run baseball and they walked none and struck out four.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Robinson Cano homered for the first time this spring on Saturday but he did not fare as well on Sunday. He was 0-for-3 with three infield groundouts and his spring average slipped to .225.
  • Ronnie Belliard doubled and scored in his only at-bat in the eighth inning. But he also made a careless error in the bottom of the eighth on a routine grounder off the bat of Cory Sullivan. Belliard is running out of time to make the team as a backup infielder and his weight is a real issue in the field.
  • Jeter ended an two-on, one-out situation by hitting the first pitch and rolling into an inning-ending double play. Though Gardner may be more suited to leadoff, Jeter’s penchant for hitting into double plays is more pronounced in the No. 2 spot.
BOMBER BANTER
Former Yankee legend Reggie Jackson finally arrived in camp. He has been recovering from back surgery he underwent in January.  . . .  Russell Martin returned to behind the plate on Sunday after an unscheduled day off because he had a difficult outing catching A.J. Burnett on Friday.  . . .   Lefty Pedro Feliciano (sore left triceps) and righty Joba Chamberlain (strained left oblique) felt fine on Sunday after bullpen sessions on Saturday.  . . .  Boone Logan (back spasms) returned to the mound on Sunday and promptly struck out all three Phillies hitters he faced in the ninth.
ON DECK
The Yankees travel to Port Charlotte, FL, to face the Tampa Bay on Monday.
The Yankees will send to the mound Bartolo Colon in what will be an important start for the 37-year-old right-hander. Colon is locked in a close battle for a spot in the Yankees’ rotation. He will be opposed by young right-hander Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be shown nationally by MLB Network.

With Soriano Signed Is Joba Heading To Trading Block?

The signing of Rafael Soriano was not what the New York Yankees had in mind when the free-agent signing season began. The big prize was supposed to be Cliff Lee.
It was as if Brian Cashman made a date with Jessica Alba but reached to the door only to find Ellen DeGeneres. 
But the Yankees could have done worse than sign Soriano to what amounts to a series of graduated one-year contracts in which Soriano will be allowed to opt out to close with another team.
Soriano, 31, was 3-2 with a 1.73 ERA and led the American League with 45 saves in 48 chances. That is not bad for a pitcher slated to set up Mariano Rivera and certainly an upgrade over Kerry Wood, who claimed that job in August but left to return to the Chicago Cubs.
The Yankees bullpen now looks a bit more formidable with Rivera and Soriano set to pitch the final two innings. The Yankees also signed left-hander Pedro Feliciano to go with young lefty Boone Logan and they still have right-handers David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain.
The question has been raised and the Yankees have answered it: Will Chamberlain be moved back to the rotation now that it appears Andy Pettitte will not likely pitch in 2011? The Yankees have said no.
So the next question is what is Chamberlain’s future with the Yankees?
At age 22, Chamberlain arrived in the Bronx and appeared poised for superstardom after posting a 2-0 record and an 0.38 ERA in 19 games in 2007.
But very soon after the midges in Cleveland drove him and the Yankees out of the playoffs, Chamberlain’s road to become the eventual successor to Rivera took a strange detour.
In 2008, Chamberlain was shifted at midseason to a starter. He finished 2008 with a 4-3 record and a 2.60 ERA. In 2009, he was a full-fledged starter but seemed hamstrung on the Yankees’ very cautious so-called Joba Rules.
He was a disappointing 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA and the Yankees shifted him into the bullpen for the 2009 playoffs rather than use him as a No. 4 starter. He appeared to regain a measure of confidence there and was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in 10 postseason games.
The Yankees, rather than embarrass Chamberlain, allowed him to compete in 2010 for a starting job with four other pitchers. When Phil Hughes emerged as the winner, Chamberlain was shifted back to the bullpen, ostensibly, for good.
The Yankees expected him to resume his 2007 role as setup man for Rivera. That did not work out too well. Chamberlain struggled through stretches of the season and two games became his undoing.
On May 29, Chamberlain entered the game in the seventh inning with a 10-5 lead over the Indians. The Indians rallied for seven runs, four of them charged to Chamberlain, in an eventual 13-11 victory over the Yankees.
On July 10, Chamberlain came in to hold a tenuous 1-0 lead Javier Vazquez had left him against Felix Hernandez. Chamberlain could not retire anyone and ended up serving up a grand-slam home run to Jose Lopez in a 4-1 defeat in Seattle.
Chamberlain lost the setup role to Wood and ended the season 3-4 with a 4.40 ERA. He blew four save opportunities out of seven chances. 
Now what?
If Rivera completes the two years on his contract and Soriano stays to pitch three years and replaces Rivera, Chamberlain’s window to become a closer for the Yankees will have to wait four years and Joba will be a seasoned 29 years old by then.
His window to return as a setup man is possibly two years away. 
Hmmm! 
Would it seem possible that the Yankees might see with Rivera still effective, Soriano in the setup role, with the presence of Robertson and no plans to make Joba a starter that Chamberlain now becomes a prime trading chip?
If there was ever a time Chamberlain seemed close to being traded this is it. The Yankees need a starter and there are teams who still are intrigued by Chamberlain’s arm. He can still throw with velocity.
Contrary to reports that Chamberlain lost his fastball when he went to the bullpen, he was regularly hitting 97 mph and above on the gun late last season. The problem with Chamberlain is not velocity.
It seems that his signature slider that devastated hitters in 2007 and 2008 is not staying in the strike zone long enough to get hitters to bite on it. His fastball, no matter how fast it is thrown, is straight and hittable. His curve is an afterthought. He rarely throws it as a reliever.
So somehow Chamberlain has to develop a slider he can throw for strikes or he is going to have some miserable outings.
New pitching coach Larry Rothschild will have that task this spring unless the Yankees unload Chamberlain. That seems more likely in lieu of the fact the Yankees signed free-agent catcher Russell Martin.
That means that the Yankees are going to have to decide which catcher to play at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season: Jesus Montero or Austin Romine. They could rotate and DH one while the other catches or they could simply trade one.
Montero has power compared to that of Mike Piazza. Yankee fans have been salivating over his arrival and want to see him stay. But the Yankees were willing to part with him to obtain Lee last summer from the Mariners.
So why not trade Montero and Chamberlain for a starter now? It seems likely that either Montero or Romine could go before spring training begins. 
The Yankees also have a solid shortstop prospect in Eduardo Nunez who is stuck behind Derek Jeter and slugging third baseman Brandon Laird who is blocked by Alex Rodriguez. They also have young pitchers Hector Noesi, Dellin Betances and Ryan Pope to dangle to teams looking to stock there minor-league system with a starting pitcher.
Unfortunately, the stock of available veteran pitchers does not contain a starter of Lee’s pedigree. What the Yankees are likely looking for a pitcher who can pitch 200 innings, win 12 or more games and it would be a plus if the pitcher had some postseason experience.
The Phillies would love to unload Joe Blanton’s hefty contract. However, the Yankees may not want to pay the Phillies steep price for him. So Cashman may have to look at pitchers like Edwin Jackson or Paul Maholm. Neither of those confer the status of stars but are definite upgrades over Vazquez.
Or Cashman could play wait-and-see and look to make a trade deadline deal for a better pitcher like Carlos Zambrano, who the Yankees would love to pry from the Cubs if they are not in the pennant chase in 2011. 
But with Pettitte out of the picture, it appears the Yankees are in no position to wait long. CC Sabathia is the unquestioned ace. Phil Hughes will look to build on his breakthrough 2010 campaign. 
But what will A.J. Burnett offer? Is Ivan Nova ready as Hughes was in 2010? Do the Yankees really plan to use Sergio Mitre as their No. 5 starter?
This is probably the shakiest rotation the Yankees have had in many years. Cashman knows it needs fixing but it appears the arms to fix it are out of reach for now. But there is still time and Cashman knows his future is predicated on keeping the Yankees competitive.
He can’t afford to wait.

Phillies’ Bats Literally Bruise Yankees 6-2

GAME 14
PHILLIES 6, YANKEES 2

Jayson Werth launched a three-run home run off Damaso Marte in the fifth inning to help lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 6-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL.
Joe Blanton (2-0) pitched five innings for the victory. Marte (0-1), making his spring debut, took the loss.
The Yankees are now 6-8 on the spring while the Phillies are 8-4.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Francisco Cervelli continued his hot hitting this spring with a 3-for-3 day with a double and two singles. He drove in the Yankees’ first run in the fourth inning with a double off Blanton to score Randy Winn. Cervelli is batting .583 this spring.
  • Nick Johnson added a hit and a sacrifice fly that drove in the team’s only other run in the fifth.
  • Brett Gardner scored that run in the fifth after a triple with one out. Gardner also singled and stole a base in the first inning. He raised his spring average to .240.
  • Despite giving up a run in the sixth inning, Joba Chamberlain pitched his best baseball this spring. In three official innings, gave up two hits and a walk and struck out three. The Phillies agreed to play an additional inning and Chamberlain pitched a perfect seventh and ninth. His spring ERA was lowered to 16.20.
  • Starter Andy Pettitte, who also made his spring debut, did pitch creditably in his four innings of work. He gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four batters.
  • Rule 5 draft pick Amaury Sanit again pitched well in relief. Entering the game for Marte, Sanit struck out two of the three batters he faced and his ERA remained at 0.00 for the spring.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Marte had just an awful day. Coming in to the game in the fifth, he immediately gave up singles to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino and then surrendered the three-run blast to Werth that made the score 5-2. It did not end there, however. Ryan Howard followed with a rocket off his bat that struck Marte in the lower back and he was removed from the game.
  • Pettitte gave up two runs on four hits in the first two innings. But you can probably chalk it up to rust because Pettitte’s first start scheduled last week was rained out.
  • Alex Rodriguez was 0-for-3 and his spring average is now .211.
  • The Yankees were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the game. 
  • Marcus Thames singled in his last at-bat but his average is still at .143 and Winn, despit his single, is batting .167. Both Thames and Winn are battling for reserve outfielder spots on the roster.
DIAMOND NOTES

The Phillies-Yankees game set a attendance record for Bright House Network Field in Clearwater. The announced crowd was 10,640. . . . The Phillies wore their green jerseys and caps to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day but the Yankees stuck with their traditional road grays. . . . Due to the sprained right knee of Placido Polanco, former Yankee Cody Ransom started at third base for the Phillies. He was 1-for-4 and is hitting .294 with three home runs this spring. . . . Gardner, Johnson, Teixeira and Rodriguez were the only starter
s to make the trip. Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada did not make the trip. . . . Manager Joe Girardi said that Marte would be “sore for a couple of days” but dodged a serious injury when he was struck by the hard liner off the bat of Howard. Girardi said he asked Marte if he had Bud Selig’s signature on his back but Marte reportedly replied “No, just seams.” . . . Chamberlain kept his hopes of being the No. 5 starter alive with his strong outing. Challenged by Girardi to step up, Chamberlain responded. After the game, Chamberlain credited Girardi, saying “Sometimes you need a lit bit of a kick in the rear.”
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will host the Tampa Bay Rays at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday night. The Yankees are scheduled to start right-hander Javier Vazquez, who will be making his second spring appearance. Also expected to pitch is Chan Ho Park, a former Phillies reliever signed as a free agent. He will be making his spring debut. The Rays will start Carlos Hernandez.
Game time is 7:05 p.m. and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network.

Five Reasons Why the Yankees Won and the Phillies Lost

I hate to say I told you so but I did tell you so. In my World Series preview post on Oct.28 I predicted the Yankees would win in six games. I also said they would win with their superior pitching. That prediction was an honest one and now let’s look a little deeper for the main reasons why the Yankees beat the Phillies.


No. 1: STARTING PITCHING

In my preview I wrote this:
“Neither the Rockies or the Dodgers have a pitcher of the caliber of CC Sabathia or can boast of a more experienced postseason pitcher than Andy Pettitte.  In contrast, the Yankees might struggle some with Cliff Lee but they could feast on Pedro Martinez, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton.”

This is exactly what happened. Lee was 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the series. Hamels, Martinez and Blanton were a combined 0-3 with a 7.08 ERA. I don’t think I have seen such a great team like the Phillies get this far in the postseason with basically one competent pitcher. But they did.
The Yankees’ trio of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte were 3-2 with an ERA of 4.46. Those numbers may not seem dominant but in the games Lee did not pitch, the Yankee starters were better than the pitcher they faced.
I also wrote this about Pedro Martinez:
Pedro Martinez did pitch well in his only start in the postseason. He went seven innings in a no-decision the Phillies eventually lost to the Dodgers in Game 2. He has the ability to shut down the Yankees. But he also has been beaten many times by the Yankees in the past. Hideki Matsui, Pedro? Remember him?

I don’t think Pedro wants to see Hideki Matsui in the batter’s box ever again after Wednesday night.
Starting pitching is a key in any series and, though none of the three Yankees’ starters pitched  great on short rest, they pitched well enough to expose the weakness in the depth of the Phillies’ starters.
No. 2: RYAN HOWARD

Someone told me there was this huge first baseman for the Phillies who hit mammoth home runs and was an MVP. I wonder what happened to him because I did not see him. I did see a big guy who hit one home run, drove in three runs and hit .174 with 13 strikeouts in 23 at-bats. But that could not have been Howard. Could it?
Unfortunately, for the Phillies, it was Howard. Though Pettitte gave up an “Oh, by the way” two-run home run to Howard in Game 6, he was MIA throughout this series because the Yankee lefties pitched him consistently outside and made Howard chase pitches out of the strike zone.
Of course, Howard was not the only problem with the Phillies’ offense. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino combined to go 9-for-45 (.200). That is why Chase Utley hit five home but only had eight RBIs. 
No. 3: THE BULLPEN

I wrote the following in my preview:
By miles. Not inches but miles, the Yankees bullpen is better than the Phillies. It could be the one key reason, the Yankees are favored to win the series. The fact that only Cliff Lee can possibly give the enough length in his starts to cover up the Phillies deficiencies in the bullpen is quite telling. The Yankees simply feast off middle relievers and shaky closers. Just ask Joe Nathan of the Twins and Brian Fuentes of the Angels. I would not want to be Brad Lidge in this World Series.

The Phillies’ bullpen gave up three earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in Game 3 and Brad Lidge absolutely imploded as I predicted in the ninth inning of Game 4. Chad Durbin did not help Martinez much by giving up three runs in one-third of an inning in Game 6. So in three of the four defeats, the Phillies’ bullpen did not get the job done.
The Yankees on the other hand got 5 1/3 scoreless innings and two saves from Mariano Rivera. Lefty specialist Damaso Marte retired all eight batters he faced. The rest of the bullpen pitched 10 2/3 innings and that was not to expose the weakness here with Phil Hughes struggling. Give manager Joe Girardi credit. He used his bullpen wisely and it was far superior to the Phillies.

No. 4: THE DH FACTOR

This is not just because Hideki Matsui was named the Series MVP and was 8-for-12 with three home runs and 12 RBIs despite not starting in half the games. Nope. This is also because Matsui was a factor in this series and Matt Stairs was not.
Stairs is another Phillies power threat from the left side. But because lefthanders Sabathia and Pettitte started four of the six games, Stairs only started Game 2 as a DH. He singled in a run in his first at-bat. But he was 0-for-7 after that and was not a factor the rest of the way.
Ben Francisco started two games and was 0-for-7. So the Phillies got absolutely nothing from their bench and Stairs was neutralized by the fact he could not hit lefties well enough to allow manager Charlie Manuel to start him.
No. 5: INTANGIBLES

I warned Manuel about this in my preview:
As long as they have Derek Jeter, they have a chance to turn one slight mistake into a play that can turn a series. You know the Twins and Angels came into the playoffs as two of the most fundamentally sound teams in baseball. Look what happened to them. The Yankees just have a way of waiting for a team to make a mistake and jumping all over it.

Well, even if Manuel had read this, it would not have mattered. But the game-changing and series-changing play was the great at-bat Johnny Damon put on poor Brad Lidge in the ninth inning of Game 4 and the decision to swipe third on Pedro Feliz because the Phillies had no one covering third.
OK, quibble that it took A-Rod’s hit to score him. But, remember this: Damon’s presence at third made Lidge throw fastballs, which is his second best pitch. A-Rod got a fastball to hit because Damon’s daring dash, which could go down in history as the smartest play in World Series history, made Lidge ditch his devastating slider.
You just did not see the Yankees beating themselves at all this postseason but you sure as heck have seen them take advantage of a litany of blunders by the Twins, Angels and now the Phillies. That is no accident either. Good teams do this.
That is just five reasons why the Yankees are the 2009 world champions.