May 2010

Cervelli and Burnett Bust O’s, Yanks Take Series

Call the New York Yankees “butter” right now, because they are certainly on a roll.

 

Tonight the Bronx Bombers continued their winning ways and beat the Baltimore Orioles by the same score they beat them by last night, 4-1. They have won 15 of their last 18 home series, extended their winning streak to three games, and have now won eight of their first nine series this season.

 

Only three other Yankee teams in history (1928, 1939, and 2003) have won eight of their first nine series, so obviously the 2010 group is standing out and has gotten off to a magnificent start.

 

A pair of plays and players stood out tonight…

 

Francisco Cervelli

 

 


Cervelli was on fire tonight! 

This youngster did a wonderful job filling in for Jorge Posada, who is battling a balky right calf muscle. Francisco Cervelli was 3-for-3 with a triple, a bunt single, and two runs scored.

 

Not bad at all.

 

The Cisco kid was also playing amazing defense, making a beautiful catch to end the top of the fourth inning. Garrett Atkins popped a foul, high-fly ball toward the Yankee dugout. Cervelli kept his eye on the ball the whole way and falling stomach-first over the railing, made the putout.

 

Manager Joe Girardi actually caught Cervelli and bench coach Tony Pena nearly got toppled as he landed practically on top of him. It was a huge out, because there was a runner on third and the game was tied 1-1 at that point. That brilliant play prevented the O’s from going ahead, which certainly could have changed the complexion of the game.

 

I noticed as Cervelli rounded second base he flipped off his helmet. I guess he had to, since it is much bigger than a normal helmet. Because the young catcher has sustained multiple concussions in his career, he has to wear that funny-looking headpiece.

 

It makes him look like Gazoo from “The Flintstones.” Or maybe “Dark Helmet” from “Spaceballs”…

 

 


Does his helmet look like Gazoo's or Dark Helmet's...? 

At any rate, Cervelli stole the show tonight. A few hits, a pair of runs, and a web gem. Not a bad night at the office. He must keep up the good work, especially since Posada has been hurting.

 

 

A.J. Burnett

 

 

 


 
AJ Burnett is 4-0 this year 

Once again, A.J. Burnett came out dealing like a man on fire. (Had to change it up; the “blackjack in Vegas” line is actually getting old, but that’s a good thing!)

 

The number two hurler tossed 7 1/3 innings tonight and gave up only one unearned run on five hits. He walked just two batters and he struck out eight.

 

Last week Burnett started against these same Orioles and only struck out four hitters. He seemed to be pitching to contact a lot more and was a lot more effective; he got a lot of fly ball outs and also induced a few outs on the ground. Tonight however, he was striking more batters out with a fastball, which was dancing all over the strike zone.

 

Burnett did not rely so much on his breaking ball tonight, but when he did throw it, he got the ball to move nicely. Girardi said after the game his curve ball was “outstanding, he used it effectively, and it had great depth.”

 

Could not have said it better myself.

 

The top of the third was really Burnett’s only hiccup. He allowed a run on a throwing error, but quickly settled down. With runners on second and third and no one out, he struck out Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and Matt Wieters–all swinging–to get out of the inning without any further damage.

 

Maybe instead of “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett” I should call him “Harry Houdini-Burnett.”

 

 


AJ Houdini-Burnett got out of a huge jam in the third 

Now with a record of 4-0 and ERA of 1.99, Burnett’s next start will come Sunday night against the Red Sox. He has not had much success in the past vs. Boston, but after tonight he may have given us all a reason to have more faith in him.

 

He is off to the best start he has ever gotten off to in his career. And by the way, he hasn’t allowed an earned run in each of his last four starts. 

 

Other Notes:

 

–Derek Jeter started at the designated hitter spot tonight while Ramiro Pena got the nod at short. Jeter was 1-for-5 but Pena had a sacrifice fly and two RBIs in the game.

 

He knocked in his first run in the bottom of the third, bunting and reaching on an error to drive in Brett Gardner and give the Yanks the lead. His sac fly came in the eighth to give the Yankees’ their 4-1 lead.

 

–Greg Golson got called up today and Mark Melancon was optioned back to Triple-A. Golson didn’t have an at-bat tonight, but he made a nice catch in center field to rob Miguel Tejada of extra bases. A HUGE play and a great catch!

 

–Alex Rodriguez has not been hitting well lately, but he was 0-for-2 on the night with an RBI bases loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth. Even when he isn’t killing the ball, he is still helping the team win.

 

–Mariano Rivera did not pitch tonight, because of that “discomfort” he spoke about after Friday’s outing vs. Chicago. Joba Chamberlain (playing the role of “Joba the Heat”) came in and slammed the door for the second time in as many games.

 

Chamberlain now has three career saves. He isn’t doing badly as an understudy, but he can’t get too comfortable in the closer role. Rivera will probably be back by Friday.

 

–Before the game, Jeter mentioned that his favorite food to eat in a restaurant is chicken parmesan. I guess I’m a man after his own heart–that is my all-time favorite dish!

 

–The Yankees are now 18-8, 10 games above .500. If Tampa Bay loses to Seattle tonight, we are dead-even and tied for first place in the AL East.

 

–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees look to sweep the O’s. Andy Pettitte (3-0, 2.12 ERA) will lead the Yanks into battle against David Hernandez (0-3, 4.55 ERA)

 

 

I’d also like to take this moment to remember Ernie Harwell, the famous broadcaster, who passed away tonight. He is a legend with the Detroit Tigers and from everyone’s testimony, he was a wonderful person with a great soul.

 

R.I.P. Mr. Harwell. I wish you peace. My heart goes out to his friends, family, and every baseball fan he touched in his life.

 

R.I.P. Ernie Harwell 

Vazquez To Be Skipped, Girardi Made the Right Move

To borrow a line from Spike Lee: Joe Girardi, you did the right thing.

 

 


Javier Vazquez is missing a turn in the rotation 

Before the New York Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night, the Yankee skipper announced that Javier Vazquez would skip his next turn in the rotation. Vazquez’s next start would have come Friday night in Boston against the Red Sox but because of his inability to pitch effectively, he has been bumped.

 

With an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees will start Phil Hughes on normal rest Friday in Vazquez’s place. They will then use CC Sabathia on Saturday afternoon and pitch A.J. Burnett on Sunday night.

 

Heading to Detroit after the series in Boston, Vazquez will make his next start on Monday night against the Tigers.

 

Vazquez has only made one start this season that has been worth anything. On April 20 he notched his only win of 2010, a game in which he scattered six hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings of work against the Oakland Athletics. In that start he walked three batters and struck out six.

 

Other than that game, Vazquez has basically been a ghost.

 

 


Javy has been a ghost, or a non-factor this year 

In his other four starts this season, Vazquez is 0-3 and the Yankees did not win any of those four games. Right now opponents are hitting .337 against the Yankees’ number four starter and his ERA is currently at an inflated 9.78.

 

The Yankees have only lost eight games this year. Half of those losses came on days Vazquez pitched.

 

Girardi had no choice but to skip Vazquez. His numbers this season are so poor and every team he has faced has decimated him, even the weakest ball clubs. The Chicago White Sox, who have the lowest team batting average in the majors with .227, feasted off Vazquez this past Saturday and touched him up for five earned runs over just three innings.

 

It’s obvious that something is not right with this picture.

 

Although Boston is not playing well at the moment (as they are currently sitting in fourth place in the American League Eastern Division standings) it was wise for Girardi to pass on him pitching at Fenway Park. If Vazquez were to go out and get Boston massacred, his confidence level would drop even further than it is now.

 

It’s not like he hasn’t lost big time to the Red Sox before (insert 2004 ALCS reference).

 

Vazquez picthed in the Yankees' losing effort in the 2004 ALCS 

 

Last night on Daily News Live (a program in which all the New York Daily News writers sit and discuss sports) the reporters brought up the idea of trading Vazquez back to the National League for another pitcher. One writer suggested dealing him to the New York Mets for Jenrry Mejia, a 20 year-old righty from the Dominican Republic.

 

Mejia is a reliever for the Mets, so I’m not sure if this move would solve the Yankees’ problem. His numbers are not bad; he is 0-1 but has an ERA of 0.90. Plus, he has only given up one earned run in the 10 innings he has pitched this year.

 

I suppose if they actually went ahead with this idea, they could move Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation and plug Mejia into his bullpen spot. But Chamberlain is too unpredictable, even in the bullpen. Plus, the Yankees will most likely not give up on Vazquez so soon.

 

 


Vazquez for Mejia??? 

However, the off-season move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Atlanta Braves and brought Vazquez to New York is so far looking like a terrible one. At this point, Brian Cashman might not admit he made a mistake in making the trade. His faith in Vazquez might not be gone just yet, and he probably still feels the scuffling pitcher can turn it around.

 

In the past, Cashman has been known to believe in a lot of the deals he makes. 

 

But if the season reaches (let’s say) July and Vazquez is not performing, he might be gone before he had the chance to unpack his bags. Just as Girardi had no choice but to skip over Vazquez’s turn in the rotation, Cashman might have no choice but to trade him away because of his ineffectiveness.

 

Adios Vazquez. Hello some other pitcher who can get the job done.

 

Vazquez needs to perform. Otherwise, BYE BYE!!! 

Yankees Take Series From Chicago, Squish White Sox

Talk about a squadoosh.

 

The New York Yankees pounded the Chicago White Sox 12-3 in the rubber game of their three-game weekend series this afternoon. The Bronx Bombers have now won seven of their first eight series this season and dating back to 2009, the Yankees have now won 14 of their last 17 series at Yankee Stadium.

 

 


Curtis Granderson will be out for a month  

Brett Gardner did a nice job of filling in for the injured Curtis Granderson, who yesterday strained his groin running from second base to third. Granderson was placed on the 15-day disabled list and according to manager Joe Girardi will “be out for at least a month.”

 

But in Granderson’s absence, Gardner did just fine going 2-for-4 with a solo home run, two RBIs, a walk, and two runs scored. Girardi said, “Gardner has been playing well and he’s going to need to keep it up because he will be playing centerfield every day for awhile.”

 


 

Brett Gardner was 2-for-4 with a homer today

Gardner took White Sox’ starter Mark Buehrle deep to right field in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run, his first of the year. Earlier on in the first inning, Gardner knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI single to score Robinson Cano.

 

Up 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Cano did some yard work of his own. With two men on base, the hot-hitting second baseman homered to right field, a three-run blast that put the Yankees up 5-0 and basically put the White Sox away.

 

“Red-hot Robbie Cano” is now hitting .387 with nine homers and 21 RBIs this year.

 

 


Robinson Cano is hitting .387 this year 

The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the sixth to widen their lead to 7-0. Nick Swisher joined the home run party and clubbed a two-run bomb to right field, his second in as many games. Swisher now has four home runs on the year and two at home, where he does not seem to hit many homers.

 

Last season, Swisher did not hit his second home run at Yankee Stadium until June 7.

 

In the bottom of the seventh the Yankees exploded for five more runs. Derek Jeter drew a bases loaded walk to score Jorge Posada, and then Nick Johnson cracked a two-run double. Mark Teixeira followed up with a two-run double of his own, giving the Yankees 12 runs on the afternoon.

 

 

Historically, Mark Teixeira hits well in the month of May 

Teixeira went 4-for-5 at the plate today, erasing his troubled April with a great start to May. It looks like the Yankees’ first baseman is keeping his elbow up more and as a result is getting around on some pitches. He is notorious for hitting well in May, so today might be just a small sample of what’s to come.

 

In the top of the ninth with two men on base, Paul Konerko crushed a three-run homer to left field to spoil the shutout and give the ChiSox their three runs in the game. It was Konerko’s 12th homer of the year and he leads the majors in that category.

 

Behind all the Yankee offense today was Phil Hughes, who absolutely puzzled the White Sox hitters. The 23 year-old righty tossed seven strong innings and gave up no runs on four hits. He walked only one batter and struck out six.

 

 


Phil Hughes has been compared to Roger Clemens 

(I’ll just say it) Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas. But in reality, Hughes reminded me today of Roger Clemens. His delivery was very smooth, he was getting ahead of the hitters, and he was mixing his pitches.

 

There is a reason Sports Illustrated once called Hughes “The Pocket Rocket.”

 

Although Hughes was throwing a lot of strikes, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did not think so. In the bottom of the seventh, Guillen got his money’s worth and got thrown out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. Home plate umpire Dan Iassogna called a ball on Gardner, Guillen did not agree, and ultimately got tossed.

 

Ozzie Guillen got tossed today! 

 

Not unusual for a manager like Guillen. However, Hughes was throwing the ball very well, and I’m sure Guillen would be the first one to say it.

 

With the win, Hughes is now 3-0 this season and he has won all three of the starts he has made. He became the youngest pitcher since his teammate Andy Pettitte to win his first three games of the year. Pettitte won his first three games as a 23 year-old in 1996.

 

Now with a record of 16-8 this year, the Yankees will remain at home for the next three games and entertain the Baltimore Orioles. The O’s just completed a weekend sweep of the Boston Red Sox despite dropping their previous two out of three to the Yanks at home.

 

CC Sabathia (3-1, 3.12 ERA) will look to keep the Yankees rolling against Jeremy Guthrie (0-3, 4.70 ERA)

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