Tagged: John Lannan

Yankee Reserves Come Up Big To Beat Nationals

GAME 14

YANKEES 8, NATIONALS 5

During a time when a lot of the starters are struggling with hitting this spring the non-roster and minor-league players who dominated the Yankees’ lineup on Thursday were the ones who came up big.

Bill Hall drove in two runs with a double in the third inning and New York’s spring reserves scored four runs in the seventh inning off Washington’s John Lannan en route to a Grapefruit League victory over the Nationals at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.

Brett Marshall (1-0) got credit for the victory in relief. Lannan (0-1) gave up six runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk in four innings and he ended up taking the loss. Adam Warren retired the last batter and picked up a save.

The Yankees mounted a 13-hit attack led two hits by Hall and Justin Maxwell and Hall and Jose Gil each drove in two runs.

There were two significant injuries incurred during the game. Nationals starter and former Yankee right-hander Chien-Ming Wang had to leave the game in the third inning with a strained right hamstring after he lost his balance fielding a Russell Martin grounder and stumbled awkwardly over the first-base bag.

In the fourth inning, Yankee shortstop Ramiro Pena left after spraining his right ankle as he slid into second base on an unsuccessful steal attempt.

The Yankees snapped a three-game losing streak and improved their spring record to 6-8. The Nationals are 5-6.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The Yankees were losing 3-2 with Lannan beginning his third inning of work in the sixth when the Yankees greeted him with five consecutive hits. Jayson Nix singled, stole second and scored the tying run on a RBI single by Gil. Doug Bernier advanced Gil to third on a bunt single and Maxwell scored Gil on a single to left. J.R. Murphy followed with a single to right to score Bernier. Maxwell then scored the fourth run of the inning on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Zoilo Almonte. Nix is the only player involved in the rally who had started the game.
  • The Yankee reserves turned the game into a rout with two more runs in the seventh. Brandon Laird, who reached base on an error by shortstop Andres Blanco, scored on a passed ball by catcher Jhontan Solano. Dewayne Wise, who doubled in the inning, later scored on a sacrifice fly by Gil, giving the Yankees an 8-3 lead.
  • Michael Pineda made his third start of the spring and there were some mixed results. Pineda pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk while he fanned four batters. The good news was that Pineda was able to throw about 10 change-ups and his slider was virtually unhittable. The velocity on his fastball, however, reached only 91 miles per hour, down considerably from his 2011 average of 94.5, which ranked fifth in the majors. The Yankees refuse to talk about it, but the lack of velocity has to be a concern at this stage of spring training.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Three of the left-handers competing to become a potential second lefty in the bullpen pitched in the game and none of them were exactly sharp. Clay Rapada did not give up a run in 1 1/3 innings and has a 0.00 ERA this spring. However, he walked two and gave up a hit before inducing Chad Tracy to ground out with the bases loaded in the fifth.
  • Juan Cedeno opened the sixth by issuing a leadoff walk to Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth followed with a double. Then with one out, Steve Lombardozzi hit a sacrifice fly to score LaRoche.
  • Michael O’Connor opened the ninth with a 8-5 lead and promptly issued a leadoff walk to Roger Bernadina and one-out single to Mark Teahan to bring the tying run to the plate. After O’Connor retired Tracy on a grounder to advance Bernadina and Teahan, manager Joe Girardi summoned Warren to close out the game.

BOMBER BANTER

With Eduardo Nunez still nursing a bruised right hand for the past 10 days, the injury to Pena is not good news. Pena said he hopes to miss only two or three days by Girardi said he is not so sure about that. No tests are planned on the ankle and Pena will be re-evaluated in Tampa, FL., on Friday.   . . .  It appears doubtful that veteran right-hander Fraddy Garcia will be able to pitch in his next scheduled start because of a bruised right thumb and index finger.  Garcia was struck on the hand on a grounder off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays in the fourth inning of a game on Wednesday. The Yankees think Garcia just has a bad bruise and they do not believe the injury is serious.

ON DECK

The Yankees will complete a two-game home-and-away series with the Nationals at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday.

Ace left-hander CC Sabathia is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees. He will be making his third start of the spring. The Nationals will start former Oakland left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who has not given up a run in his two previous appearances spanning seven innings.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay and locally live by the YES Network.

 

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Nationals Come From Behind To Nip Yankees In Ninth

GAME 17
NATIONALS 6, YANKEES 5
Derek Norris blasted a one-out, bases-loaded single in the ninth to score Nyjer Morgan from third base with the game-winning running run as Washington came from behind to down New York on Saturday at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL.
Yunesky Mara (1-0) pitched four innings to get credit for the victory. Adam Warren (0-1) was the losing pitcher.
The Yankees have lost four consecutive games and their spring record is now 6-9-2. The Nationals are 9-5.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • A.J. Burnett looked very sharp in his four innings of work in his third spring start. He gave up a single to Adam LaRoche in the second inning and Michael Morse followed with a two-run homer to tie the game. Otherwise, Burnett was very good. He struck four and walked none and he lowered his spring ERA to 2.00.
  • Jorge Vazquez is an out-and-out hitting machine. He was 3-for-3 in the game (accounting for half of the Yankees’ six hits), including his third spring home run. Vazquez connected off Nats starter John Lannan for a two-run home run to left-center in the fourth inning. He previously victimized Lannan with a two-out RBI single in the first.
  • Robinson Cano opened the Yankees’ scoring in the first with a two-out flare RBI single to left that scored Eduardo Nunez. Cano also blasted what originally was called a triple to center-field in the sixth off Maya. However, it clanked off Roger Bernadina’s glove and the hit was changed to a three-base error.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Once again, minor-league pitchers coming in late in games are giving up leads, runs and victories. Warren entered the game in the ninth and was victimized by a two-base throwing error by Nunez. Manager Joe Girardi summoned lefty Robert Fish to face Rick Ankiel. Ankiel bunted pinch-runner Morgan to third and Fish then hit Bryce Harper with an 0-2 pitch. Fish tried to induce a double play from Alberto Gonazlez but he ended up walking him intentionally. Girardi then summoned right-hander Daniel Turpen to face the lefty Bernadina. However, Nationals manager Jim Riggelman sent the right-handed-hitting Norris to pinch-hit. Turpen got ahead 0-2 and —  instead of wasting a pitch — he grooved a pitch over the plate that Norris hit to the wall in left-center to end the game.
  • Nunez and Ramiro Pena really hurt the Yankees with a pair of failed bunt attempts. Brett Gardner opened the seventh inning with a double but Nunez not only could not advance Gardner with a bunt, he stuck out. In the eighth inning, Pena came to the plate after Gustavo Molina had walked and Vazquez singled. He failed to get two bunt attempts down and ended up being retired on an infield pop out.
  • As it has been all spring, the Yankees lose when they do not hit with runners in scoring position. They were 2-for-11 in the game on Saturday.
ON DECK
The Yankees return home on Sunday to face a Minnesota Twins split squad. The Yankees will send Freddy Garcia to the mound for his third start and he has yet to be scored upon in five innings. He will be opposed by Scott Baker of the Twins.
Game-time will be 1:05 EDT (remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour) and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

Was Wang’s Start Well Grounded?

NATIONALS 3, YANKEES 2

Joe Girardi threw down the gauntlet. The question is did Chien-Ming Wang throw enough pitches down on Wednesday night to save his job.

Ironically, Wang’s mound opponent John Lannan kept enough pitches down to induce even more ground outs from the Yankees to hold on for a 3-2 victory for the worst team in baseball. Their record is now 17-45.
All Yankee eyes, however, were trained early on former ace sinkerball specialist Wang. After winning 19 games in both 2006 and 2007, Wang suffered a lisfranc sprain in his right foot last May, when he was sporting a gaudy 8-2 record.
The Yankees, counting on him to assume the No. 3 spot in the Yankees retooled 2009 rotation, could not have foreseen that Wang’s foot troubles would still be putting him on shaky footing at this juncture of the season.
He entered Wednesday with an ERA over 14. He had been blasted for 23 earned runs in just six innings spanning his first three starts. Placed on the 15-day disabled list, the Yankees medical staff determined that Wang’s foot problems caused him not work out his lower body enough in the offseason, leaving Wang with weakness in his hip muscles. That contributed to an altered delivery and Wang’s pitches did not sink.
After working the hip muscles back into shape, Wang began a minor-league rehab stint that brought him off the disabled list — but not back into the Yankees rotation. Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland wanted Wang to work out of the bullpen before they granted him a rotation spot.
Wang responded with three excellent relief stints. He pitched 8 innings, gave up 9 hits and just two runs. Wang walked only two and struck out seven — enough to convince Girardi that Wang was ready to replace Phil Hughes in the starting rotation.
But after three starts, Wang is 0-2 with an ERA of 8.76. Yet, after Wednesday night’s performance, the Yankees are cautiously optimistic that Wang may be on the way back.
On closer examination his 91-pitch five-inning stint was not as bad as the six hits, two walks and three runs he surrendered. For a more positive view you have to look at Wang’s outs.
Of the 15 outs Wang recorded, 10 were ground-ball outs. Two outs were fly outs but only one of those left the infield. He struck out the others. His catcher, Jorge Posada, was very encouraged. He told MLB.com: “I thought he threw strikes with all of his pitches and looked a lot better in the strike zone. I thought he used both sides of the plate and was a lot better. Coming out of the things he did, I’m very positive.”

Wang, however, got no support from the offense. Once again, a young pitcher the Yankees had not seen before dazzled them with 88 mile-per-hour fastballs and even slower sliders and changeups. Lannan (4-5) completed 8 1/3 innings, giving up just four hits, one walk and striking out four batters. 
Other than home runs by Robinson Cano in the fifth and Johnny Damon in the ninth, Lannan actually killed more Yankee Stadium infield dirt worms than Wang. He recorded 15 ground ball outs. He only allowed four flyball outs to the outfield in a totally dominating display of pitching artistry.
Alex Rodriguez summed it up to MLB.com: “It’s the first time we’ve seen him. He threw the ball in and out very well, changed speeds, threw strikes and didn’t walk anybody. If you throw strikes against us, you’ve got a chance.”
The Yankees actually mounted a heroic comeback attempt in the ninth inning. Johnny Damon greeted Lannan with a line-drive home run into the first row of “Damon’s deck” in right for his 14th home run. That made the score 3-2. 
After Nick Swisher flied out to left, Mark Teixeira sliced a single into left field. Girardi went to his bench to summon Brett Gardner to pinch-run. Nationals Manager Manny Acta then went to his bullpen to summon closer Mike McDougal, who has not recorded a single save since being named the team’s closer three weeks ago. Of course, there have not been any save opportunities accorded him.
Alex Rodriguez strode to the plate with a chance to save the Yankees night. Gardner increased those chances by stealing second and third base during the at-bat. The steals meant that A-Rod would only need to hit a fly ball of some length, a base hit or slow grounder to score Gardner with the tying run.
But McDougal, calculating those odds, decided to pitch around A-Rod and walked him to set up a potential double play. That, however, was also a potentially risky gambit given Cano was  on deck.
Cano was 4-for-4 against the Nationals last night with 2 RBIs, including a double that gave the Yankees a lead they did not relinquish. McDougal dug in on the mound. But so did Cano in the batter’s box.
The first eight pitches was an epic battle with Cano fouling off tailing fastball after tailing fastball. McDougal, looking for the double play, kept the pressure on by unleashing all 97 mph in his arsenal.
Cano only needed to make good contact and stay out of the double play. But, on pitch nine that is exactly what he did. He rolled a two-hopper to shortstop Cristian Guzman, who relayed to second baseman Anderson Hernandez for one and Hernandez fired to first baseman Nick Johnson for the back-breaking final out.
Gardner’s efforts were left unrewarded and the Yankees for once failed in their typical late-inning rally.
But, looking for the silver lining, Wang may be on his way back and the Yankees pitching staff may be taking shape. 
CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Wang seem set now as Girardi told MLB.com about his thoughts on Wang: “We wanted to see some good things out of him, and I think we did tonight. Hopefully, it’s good for him. From the naked eye, I saw some pretty good pitches, and the ground-ball outs are a real good sign.”

The onus now shifts to Joba Chamberlain, who pitched only four innings in his last start. Perhaps Phil Hughes may replace Chamberlain (3-1, 3.84 ERA) if he continues to have problems with his command and pitch count.

He will take the mound tomorrow against another pitcher the Yankees have never faced, Craig Stammen, who
is 0-2 with a 5.86 ERA.
Gametime is 1:05 p.m. EDT.