April 2011

Swisher Drives In Four As CC, Yankees Unravel Chisox

GAME 22
YANKEES 12, WHITE SOX 3
It’s not like the life of the party Nick Swisher to take so much time to show up for one. But when the veteran right-fielder does he makes a grand entrance.
Swisher broke an 0-for-19 slide with a two singles, his first home run of the season and four RBIs to lead New York to an easy 12-3 victory over Chicago on Thursday and a split of their four-game home series.
The Yankees broke out of a slump of their own in the fifth inning. In the first three games of the series, they had managed to score five runs on 13 hits. Thanks to four consecutive walks and a Robinson Cano sacrifice fly in the third inning, they took a 2-0 lead without the benefit of a hit.
But they pounded Jackson (2-3) for four consecutive hits to knock him out of the game and they added three hits and two walks off reliever Tony Pena to increase the lead to 8-0 and they never looked back.
CC Sabathia (2-1) pitched seven innings and gave up three runs (none of them earned) on seven hits and one walk. He fanned six to extend his career record against the White Sox to 17-4.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 14-8 and they have a 1 1/2-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The White Sox dropped to 10-16.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • Swisher began the game hitting .208 and had not hit a home run all season. He drove in a run in the third on a bases-loaded walk, had a RBI single and scored in the six-run fifth, singled in the sixth and finished with a two-run home run to the second deck in right-field in the seventh. The hitting spree raised his average to .237.
  • Handed an 8-0 lead, Sabathia cruised to his second victory. A throwing error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez on what would have been the third out of the seventh inning allowed the White Sox to score three unearned runs. Since April 23, Yankee starting pitchers have given up six earned runs on 31 hits and nine walks over 43 1/3 innings with 31 strikeouts. That is a collective ERA of 1.25 over the past six games.
  • Brett Gardner started off the six-run fifth inning with a leadoff solo home run off Jackson. It was his third home run of the season. He added a walk and a single, scored three runs and stole a base. Here is a strange anomaly: Gardner has three home runs and four steals this season.
  • Curtis Granderson hit leadoff for the first time in his Yankee career and he walked, tripled and drove in two runs. He and Swisher combined to drive in half the Yankee runs.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Nunez started at shortstop to give Derek Jeter a night off and he did not distinguish himself in the field. He made two errors on the night. Jeter has committed only one error all season. However, Nunez was 2-for-3 with two singles and a walk, stole a base and scored three runs.
  • Now that Swisher has ended his slide, the attention now shifts to Jorge Posada. Posada was was 0-for-4 with an RBI on a bases-loaded walk on Thursday. He now has not had a hit in his last 15 at-bats. He is hitting only .130.
  • It is a real picky point but the Gardner, Nunez and Granderson each failed in the fifth inning with the bases loaded. Gardner and Granderson struck out and Nunez popped out to shortstop. By that time they had to have been tired after a 33-minute inning in which the team scored six runs.
BOMBER BANTER
Mark Teixeira did not start and was unavailable to play on Thursday because of a jammed right shoulder that he sustained diving for a ball in Tuesday’s game. Teixeira played Wednesday night but left in favor of Eric Chavez in the eighth inning. He is listed as day-to-day.  . . .  Right-hander Phil Hughes will visit a specialist in St. Louis to confirm if he is suffering what is called thoracic outlet syndrome. Dr. Robert William Thompson will examine Hughes and determine if TOS is causing the pitcher’s fatigue in his arm. If the diagnosis is confirmed Hughes would have to have surgery to remove a rib and would be lost for the rest of the season.  . . .  Veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood was 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA before he made his third minor-league start at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. But he did not fare well. Millwood gave up six runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in two innings. However, the Yankees have only until May 1 to recall Millwood or release him. General manager Brian Cashman said they are looking at Millwood as a starter but they also could ask him pitch in the bullpen as they did earlier in the season with Bartolo Colon. 
ON DECK
The Yankees will begin a three-game weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium on Friday.
The Yankees will send to the mound right-hander Freddy Garcia (1-0, 0.69 ERA), who has pitched two consecutive games of shutout baseball over six innings in his first two starts as a Yankee. In the last 10 years, he is 6-5 with 6.10 ERA against the Jays.
The Blue Jays will start left-hander Ricky Romero (1-3, 3.00 ERA). Romero gave up only two runs on five hits and fanned 10 over seven innings but still lost to Tampa Bay in his last start. He is 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Colon Dazzles Like Colon Of Old As Yankees Down Chisox

GAME 21
YANKEES 3, WHITE SOX 1
When Bartolo Colon was told he would pitch in the bullpen for the team Tony Pena managed this winter he asked Pena to give him just one start. On the basis of that start Colon turned in so many good outings he made the New York Yankees this spring.
And on the basis of three good outings out of the bullpen Colon has now turned in two quality starts for the Yankees.
Colon scattered seven hits, gave up only one run, walked one and struck out six over eight innings and Robinson Cano provided all Colon needed with a two-out, three-run, first-inning homer as New York finally beat Chicago on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
Colon (2-1) used a moving two-seam fastball to draw four strikeouts looking and registered as high as 96 miles per hour on the stadium radar gun to harken back to his days as the American Cy Young Award winner of 2005.
White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (1-3) settled in after giving up the home run to Cano and pitched seven innings. He gave up six hits and two walks and struck out five.
Mariano Rivera, who blew his last two save opportunities, pitched a perfect ninth to earn his eighth save of the season and 568th of his career. He has won or saved all of the Yankee’ home victories this season.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 13-8 and they are 2 1/2 games up on second-place Tampa Bay in the A.L. East. The White Sox fell to 10-15.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • Colon was sensational and he now has completed a stretch for Yankee starters that began with CC Sabathia on April 23 in which the starters have pitched 36 1/3 innings, gave up only six runs on 24 hits and eight walks and they have fanned 25 batters. That is an ERA of 1.49. The Yankees began the season with what was termed suspect pitching. What suspect pitching?
  • Cano’s homer was the sixth of the season and his third in his last four games. He also took over the team lead in RBIs and he is tied for third in the AL in RBIs with 18.
  • Andruw Jones started in left field in place of Brett Gardner against his former team and he was 2-for-3 in the game. He raised his season average to .316 in limited play.
  • Rivera erased any doubt of a sudden loss of ability by closing out the White Sox in the ninth. Rumors of his demise are greatly exaggerated. He is 8-for-10 in save chances and he has 2.31 ERA. No problem here.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Once again the the Yankee offense took a long siesta after Cano’s home run. They managed just three hits the rest of the game. In the series against the White Sox they are batting .149 (13 for 87) and scored a total of five runs. All of the runs have scored on home runs.
  • Colon figured out a great way to avoid having Rafael Soriano blow a lead for him in the eighth inning. Colon entered the eighth having thrown only 91 pitches. He needed only eight pitches to retire the Chisox in order in the eighth. In his last two outings, Soriano has given up three runs on four hits, two walks, one hit batter and his ERA has risen to 8.68.
  • Nick Swisher is in one of the worst slumps of his career. Swisher was 0-for-3 with a walk and fanned once. His average has dropped .208 and he still does not have a home run. Swisher’s last hit was a single in the fifth inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 20. He has not had a hit in his last 18 at-bats.
  • The bottom three batters had not a lick of luck against Buehrle. Jorge Posada, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson were a combined 0-for-9 with one strikeout.
BOMBER BANTER
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen got in an early shower when he was ejected from the game after the bottom of the first inning for arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Todd Tichenor. Tichenor called Paul Konerko out on a knee-high pitch to end the first inning. Guillen immediately started yelling at Tichenor until he was ejected. Guillen then left the White Sox dugout and threw another tirade at Tichenor. It was Guillen’s first ejection of the season and the 26th of his career.  . . .  Francisco Cervelli, who is on a rehab assignment for a broken right foot he sustained in spring training, was 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI as the designated hitter for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday. Cervelli will catch a game for Scranton on Thursday and he could be activated by the Yankees on Friday.
ON DECK
The Yankees will go for a series split with the White Sox on Thursday.
They will pitch their ace, CC Sabathia (1-1, 2.73 ERA). Sabathia threw eight innings of three-run baseball as the Yankees thrashed the Orioles 15-3 on Saturday. In his career he is 16-4 with a 3.82 ERA against the White Sox.
The White Sox will counter with right-hander Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.88 ERA). Jackson was on the losing end of a 9-0 shellacking by the Detroit Tigers last week and has given up 23 hits in his last two starts. He is 2-5 with a 4.83 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat at the mike. The game will also be telecast locally by the YES Network.

Humber Blanks Yanks By Putting Lumber In Deep Slumber

GAME 19
WHITE SOX 2, YANKEES 0
It’s a proven fact. All a team has to do to stop the Yankees from scoring runs is to scour their 40-man roster and throw a pitcher against them they never have faced before.
It happened again Monday night as Philip Humber pitched 6 1/3 innings of no-hit, no-run baseball and Chicago, losers of 10 of their last 11 games, shut out New York at Yankee Stadium.
Humber (2-2), who was making only his sixth major-league start, gave up a walk to Curtis Granderson in the fourth, hit Nick Swisher with a pitch in the fifth and walked Mark Teixeira in the seventh before Alex Rodriguez followed Teixeira’s walk with a clean single to center to break up the no-hit bid.
But the White Sox went on to hold baseball’s top run-scoring team off the scoreboard for only the second time this season. It also spoiled what actually was a very well-pitched game by A.J. Burnett (3-1).
Burnett lost for the first time in 15 starts as a Yankee in April despite giving up only one run on three hits and two walks over eight innings. He struck out two batters.
The White Sox scored their first run off Burnett in the fourth inning when Carlos Quentin led off with a double. He moved to third on infield groundout by Paul Konerko and scored on an infield groundout by Adam Dunn.
The White Sox added an insurance run off Rafael Soriano in the ninth inning on a routine pop-up by Alexei Ramiriez that fell just in back of the mound. After a fielder’s choice grounder by Quentin retired Ramirez, Brent Lillibridge was sent in to pinch-run for Quentin and stole second. He then scored on a Konerko line-drive single to left.
Sergio Santos gave up hits to two of the five batters he faced but still ended up earning his first save of the season.
The Yankees record drops to 12-7. The White Sox improved to 9-14.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • So many times Burnett has been handed big leads and squandered them but he deserved a better fate on Monday. Burnett retired the side in order in five of the eight innings he worked. He threw 108 pitches and 67 of them were strikes. He also kept the White Sox power hitters like Quentin, Konerko and Dunn from leaving the yard. Burnett should really sue the Yankees’ hitters fro non-support.
  • Granderson extended his hitting streak to nine games with a single to lead off the ninth inning. During the hitting streak, Granderson is 15 for 36 (.417) with five home runs and nine RBIs. He also walked and stole base in the fourth inning.
  • For the second game in a row, Brett Gardner made a spectacular catch. In the sixth inning he made a headlong diving catch of a sinking liner off the bat of Juan Pierre.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • For seven innings the Yankees managed to make Humber look like Roy Halliday. Humber is former No. 1 pick of the New York Mets who is only starting for the White Sox because Jake Peavy is on the disabled list. But this should be no surprise because the Yankees have a history of not hitting pitchers they face for the first time. You would have more action in old episode of the “Gilmore Girls” than when the Yankees were at-bat tonight.
Our choke awards for the evening go to the following Yankees:
  1. Teixeira. In the fourth inning with Granderson at second and one out he hit massive popup to second baseman Gordon Beckham. He also struck out looking and — to top off his evening — Teixeira followed Granderson’s leadoff single in the ninth by hitting into a double play started by Konerko.
  2. Jorge Posada. With Swisher at first after being hit by a pitch and one out, Posada promptly hit into a double play started by Konerko. He also struck out and grounded out.
  3. Derek Jeter. With pinch-runner Eduardo Nunez in scoring position with two outs in the eighth inning, Jeter weakly bounced out to the pitcher Santos.
  4. Honorable mention to Robinson Cano: In going 0-3, Cano managed to see a total of seven pitches. He flew out to left on the first pitch he saw in the second, grounded out to Konerko on the second pitch in the fifth and struck out swinging on four pitches in the seventh. The pitch he fanned on was at the bill of his batting helmet. 
  • Rafael Soriano is quickly becoming a target of the boo-birds after another shaky appearance in relief. He gave up two hits and a walk and was only bailed out from giving up more than the one run he did on an inning-ending double play. His ERA is now at 6.75.
BOMBER BANTER
As this blog was the first to report earlier today, Phil Hughes suffered a setback in his attempt to recover from a “dead arm.” Hughes cut short his bullpen session in the afternoon after about a dozen pitches saying that his arm felt as if he thrown more than 100. He will have an MRI on Tuesday and he will also undergo tests to check his blood circulation in his right shoulder. Hughes was hoping to complete his bullpen session to take the next step and pitch in a minor-league rehab assignment starting Thursday. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 15 after posting an 0-1 record and 13.94 ERA in his first three starts. However, he has been dealing with a lack of velocity in his pitches since spring training. Hughes told reporters he is not feeling pain or soreness only fatigue and numbness.  . . .  Left-handed reliever Pedro Felciano is optimistic he will able to pitch this season. Feliciano got word from Dr. James Andrews last week that he did not require season-ending surgery. He was told to rest for about six weeks and then begin a throwing program to buld up strength in his left shoulder. Feliciano has not pitched since a March 9 exhibition game and was placed on the disabled list on Opening Day. Feliciano believes he may be able to rejoin the Yankees some time in late June or early July.
ON DECK
The Yankees hope to awaken their sleepy hitters in time for the resumption of the four-game home series with the White Sox on Tuesday.
The Yankees will start 24-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova (1-2, 7.67 ERA), who has not started a game since April 15. Nova pitched six solid innings in his first start but he has been unable to get past the fifth in his last two. He is 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA against the White Sox.
The White Sox will counter with veteran right-hander Gavin Floyd (2-1, 4.00 ERA), who struck out seven but was in constant trouble in his victory over the Rays in his last start. He is 1-1 with a 4.45 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.

Hughes Unable To Complete Bullpen; Now Off To Doctor

The New York Yankees suffered a setback with its starting rotation on Monday when Phil Hughes was unable to complete his bullpen session.
Hughes, 24, on the 15-day disabled list with what was termed a dead arm, was hoping to begin a rehab assignment later this week. But Hughes stopped throwing after about 20 pitches and reports indicate that Hughes will pay a visit to the team doctor for an evaluation.
Hughes has been a concern to the Yankees since spring training because of a noticeable drop in velocity on his fastball. Hughes began the season on the roster and made three very bad starts. He was 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA before he was placed on the DL.
There was no immediate word on what the exact condition of Hughes’ right shoulder and how long he will be out. 

Yankees Score 3 Runs In 11th To Storm Past Orioles

GAME 18
YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 3 (11 Innings)
Denied an early 3-2 victory, the Yankees went to work in the 11th inning after a 40-minute rain delay and scored three runs on infield singles to defeat the Orioles on Sunday.
Russell Martin scored Robinson Cano from third on an infield single and Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson — taking advantage of two Oriole errors — followed with RBI infield singles of their own to give the Yankees a sweep of their rain-shortened two-game series at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Boone Logan (1-1), who retired all four batters he faced, got credit for the victory. Jason Berken (0-1) took the loss.
Both teams had runners thrown out at the plate that could have won the game had they scored. The Orioles tied the game off Marinao Rivera in the ninth on a Brian Roberts double to score Adam Jones. However, on the same play, pinch-runner Robert Andino was cut down at the plate on a throw from Nick Swisher to Cano to Martin.
In the 10th inning, the Yankees had Jeter on third and Granderson on first with one out when Alex Rodriguez sent a fly ball to Jones in center. Jones caught the ball and fired the ball high to catcher Matt Wieters. But Wieters blocked the plate and tagged Jeter to keep the score tied.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 12-6 and they have a three-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the American League East. The Orioles are now 0-4 on the season against the Yankees and they are 8-12 overall, five games out in last place in the division.
PINSTRIPE PRIDE
  • The bullpen’s blown save ruined what was another excellent pitching performance by starter Freddy Garcia. Garcia blanked the Orioles on two hits and two walks and seven strikeouts over six innings. Garcia has opened the season with 12 shutout innings in his first two starts.
  • Jeter seemed to break out of his funk on Sunday with a 4-for-6 game. He scored a run and drove in one and he raised his season average to .257.
  • Granderson extended his hitting streak to eight games and he was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. Granderson is hitting .292 on the season.
  • Cano extended his hitting streak to 13 games the hard way. He was 0-for-4 in the first nine innings but battled reliever Jeremy Accardo to a 3-2 count when the game was delayed in the 11th by rain. He then came back to foul off the first six pitches off reliever Jason Berken before lacing a leadoff double to right. Wieters attempted to throw him out at second. But Cano took off for third and stole his first base of season to get to third with no outs. It set up the winning run.
  • Swisher’s throw and Cano’s relay to Martin to nail Andino was a very good defensive play. However, Brett Gardner made the catch of they day in the eighth inning. With runners on first and third and two out and Luke Scott facing Rivera, Scott lifted a fly ball that Gardner had to race back into deep left to catch over his shoulder. The catch prevented both the tie and winning runs from scoring.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • In his last two appearances, Rivera has blown saves. In his last 2 1/3 innings, he has given up six hits, two walks and three runs. He had been perfect in his previous seven saves chances this season.
  • Joba Chamberlain did not help the cause by getting tagged by a one-out, two-run home run by Mark Reynolds in the seventh inning. Reynolds entered the game hitting .177 and he had only one home run on the season.
  • Despite the great catch, Gardner resorted back to form with an 0-for-5 day at the plate with four strikeouts. Gardner went out of the strike zone to get himself out swinging in the ninth and 11th innings. He is now hitting .140.
  • Swisher also took an 0-for-5 collar and he was 0-for-9 in the series. Swisher is also 0 for his last 10. His average has dropped to .234.
BOMBER BANTER
If you were scratching your head why Rafael Soriano was not used in the eighth inning or to pitch in extra innings on Sunday, fear not. Soriano apparently felt stiffness in his back on Saturday and he was told rest it on Sunday. Soriano said he believes he will be available to pitch on Monday and he does not consider the injury serious.  . . .  Manager Joe Girardi said he did not expect any repercussions from a ninth-inning incident on Saturday when Oriole reliever Josh Rupe hit Martin in the upper back after Martin had hit two home runs in the game. There were no incidents on Sunday. Martin was not injured and he played on Sunday. Girardi said the Yankees’ best answer to the plunking on Saturday was Gardner’s two-run homer off Rupe right after the incident.  . . .  Granderson’s home run was his seventh of the season and he has 21 since he altered his swing on Aug. 14 last season.  . . .  Francisco Cervelli, who is rehabbing a broken bone in his right foot, was 3-for-10 with Single-A Tampa and he could be activated next week.
ON DECK
The Yankees return to the Bronx to begin a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox on Monday.
The Yankees will start right-hander A.J. Burnett (3-0, 4.37 ERA), who is coming off a no-decision in a game in which Rivera blew a save and the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays on Tuesday. Burnett gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and five walks in 5 1/3 innings. Burnett is 2-4 with a 5.58 ERA against the Chisox lifetime.
The White Sox will throw right-hander Phil Humber (1-2, 4.42 ERA). Humber gave up four runs on six hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Humber will be making his first start against the Yankees and his first start at Yankee Stadium.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

Bombers Blast 5 Homers As CC Shackles Hapless Orioles

GAME 17
YANKEES 15, ORIOLES 3
If the Baltimore Orioles ever wondered why the New York Yankees are nicknamed the Bronx Bombers they got a front-row seat to view the reason why at Camden Yards on Saturday night.
Alex Rodriguez hit a grand slam home run and drove in six runs and Russell Martin blasted two home runs and drove in four as the Yankees pounded five home runs en route to an easy victory over the shell-shocked Orioles.
CC Sabathia (1-1) was the beneficiary of the run support as he pitched eight solid innings for his first victory of the season. He also ran his career record against the Orioles to 14-2 and 9-1 at Oriole Park.
Brad Bergesen (0-3) was hammered for six runs on eight hits and two walks over six innings and he was saddled with the loss.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 11-6 and they have a three-game cushion over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. None of the other four teams in the division are even at the .500 mark. The Orioles fell to 8-11, four games in back of the Yankees.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • Sabathia actually was dominant in seven of his eight innings. He shut out the Orioles in those seven innings on four singles and no walks and fanned six. However, in the seventh inning, he gave up a leadoff walk to Nick Markakis and a single to Derrek Lee. Then Adam Jones nicked the left-hander for an opposite-field three-run home run to right to get Orioles back into the game at 6-3. But the Yankees’ offense took off from there.
  • Rodriguez opened the Yankees’ scoring with a two-run double in the first inning. He added the 22nd grand slam of his career with two outs in the eighth inning off Josh Rupe to make the score 13-3. A-Rod needs only one more grand slam to tie Lou Gehrig for the all-time lead. His six RBIs in the game moved him past Carl Yastrzemski into 10th place on the all-time RBI list with 1,847.
  • Martin has more than served notice that he has regained his 2007 form at the plate. He now has six home runs, 15 RBIs and is batting .333 on the season. With two out in the top of the eighth inning Rupe hit Martin with his first pitch, which rankled Martin. But he is quickly earning the respect of A.L. pitchers.
  • Posada hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and he now has six home runs among his nine hits this season. 
  • Don’t look now but it appears Brett Gardner may be about to shake his season-long funk. He doubled in the second and hit a two-run home run in the ninth after Martin was plunked to close out the Yankees’ season-high 15-run assault on the Orioles.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Nick Swisher was the only starter who did not register a hit in the game. He was 0-for-4 but he did draw a walk and scored a run. His batting average dipped to .254.
  • Sabathia was rolling into the seventh inning having thrown only an amazing 56 pitches over the first six innings. But he was tagged for three runs on four hits and a walk in the next two innings and he threw 47 pitches over that span. He also did not help his cause by failing to cover first on an infield single by Markakis in the eighth. But Sabathia got out of the inning without giving up a run.
BOMBER BANTER
Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and said that he plans to make a minor-league rehab start in five days. Hughes was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 15 with inflammation in his right shoulder.  . . .  Manager Joe Girardi has set his starting rotation through Wednesday. On Monday, the Yankees begin a four-game home series with the Chicago White Sox. A.J. Burnett will pitch the opener. He will be followed by Ivan Nova on Tuesday and Bartolo Colon on Wednesday.  . . .  The rainout of Friday’s game with the Orioles might have been a big help to Sabathia. Reports are that Sabathia was suffering from chills, a scratchy throat and stomach problems on Friday. Girardi said Sabathia would have pitched despite the flu-like symptoms but that the veteran left-hander felt much better on Saturday.  . . .  With his RBI single in the first inning on Saturday, Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He went to go 3-for-5 in the game with two runs scored. He also raised his batting average to .324.
ON DECK
The Yankees will look to win the rain-shortened two-game series against the Orioles on Sunday before the team returns home.
The Yankees will start 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who pitched six innings of two-hit shutout baseball against the Texas Rangers last Saturday in his first start of the season. Garcia is 4-6 with a 4.46 ERA against the Orioles in his career.
The Orioles will counter with 25-year-old right-hander Jake Arrieta (2-1, 5.06 ERA), who has lasted six innings in three of his four starts this season. He is pitching in place of Chris Tillman, who has tightness in his right groin. Arrieta is 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA against the Yankees lifetime.
Game-time will be 1:35 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Rain Washes Out Yet Another Yankees-Orioles Contest

GAME 17
NEW YORK YANKEES at BALTIMORE ORIOLES (Postponed Rain)

The game scheduled on Friday between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards was postponed due to rain. No makeup date for the game has been announced.
This is the Yankees’ third April postponement and their first on the road. The Yankees had a home game on April 6 with the Minnesota Twins and a April 12 home game with the Orioles rained out. 
Manager Joe Girardi said that Friday’s scheduled starter, CC Sabathia (0-1, 2.52 ERA), will pitch on Saturday against the Orioles. The Orioles also will send their scheduled starter for Friday, Brad Bergesen (0-2, 3.38), to the mound on Saturday.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees made a roster move to shore up their bullpen on Friday. The Yankees recalled right-hander Buddy Carlyle from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and sent right-hander Hector Noesi back to Scranton.
Noesi was called up on April 13 but he has not seen any action this season. Carlyle has a record of 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in five relief appearances this season. To add Carlyle to the 40-man roster the Yankees designated pitcher Jose Ortegano for assignment.

Starters Colon, Garcia Proving Cashman’s Plan B Working

When the Yankees failed to sign free-agent left-hander Cliff Lee, general manager Brian Cashman immediately launched a Plan B to fill holes in the starting rotation. The Yankees not only lost out on Lee, but veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte chose to retire. To fill in those two spots in the rotation behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, Cashman signed 34-year-old Freddy Garcia and 37-year-old Bartolo Colon. In addition, the Yankees signed 36-year-old Kevin Millwood and 31-year-old Carlos Silva to minor-league contracts. Youth movement? Hardly. But let’s see how these moves are shaping up:

FREDDY GARCIA (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

“Chief” as Garcia is called was part of a group of four pitchers vying for two spots in the Yankees’ rotation in spring training. In truth, he was the least impressive of the group of three after Sergio Mitre was traded in mid-March.
Yet, he was handed the No. 5 spot in the rotation on the basis of his 2010 season in which he was 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA in 28 starts with the White Sox. Garcia had won 12 or more games in seven of eight seasons between 1999 and 2006 before injuries limited him to 23 starts over the next three seasons. But his bounceback season in 2010 convinced Cashman to give him a chance to make the team this spring.
The early returns on the 2011 are promising. Garcia threw a two-hit shutout over six innings in his first start against a good-hitting Texas Rangers team on April 16. He walked two and struck out two and looked in command throughout.
This first effort does not prove that Garcia will continue to pitch this well throughout the season. But it does show that the right-hander still has some gas left in the tank and he could ride the Yankees’ offense to another season of 12 wins or more in 2011.
BARTOLO COLON (1-1, 3.50 ERA)

Colon, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2005, was actually more impressive than Garcia in spring training. However, because he had not pitched in the major leagues in 2010 there were concerns about his durability.
After all, Colon is carrying at least 265 pounds on a 5-foot-11 frame and he had not made more than 18 starts in any season since 2005. He was 3-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 12 starts with the White Sox in 2009 and he was released.
The Yankees decided to sign him after his winter league manager, Yankee bench coach Tony Pena, recommended him on the basis of his ability to throw his fastball at 94 miles per hour and remarkable control.
As a result of his hot spring, the Yankees traded Mitre and placed Colon in the bullpen to begin the season. But when 24-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes faltered in his first three starts and showed reduced velocity, the Yankees opted to put Hughes on the disabled list and Colon was chosen to taken his spot in the rotation.
All Colon did in his first start was give up just two runs on five hits and two walks and he fanned seven in 6 2/3 innings against a very good hitting Toronto Blue Jays team. In 18 innings this season, Colon has walked five batters and struck out 20. That is a pretty impressive ratio for a Plan B pickup off the scrap heap.
Again, one start does not make a season. But Colon is showing that he is able to command the strike zone and get outs against tough teams. It is pretty obvious the Yankees need him, too.
KEVIN MILLWOOD (1-0, 0.00 ERA at Double-A Trenton)

Millwood was baseball’s biggest loser in 2010 and we are not talking about weight. For a very bad Baltimore Orioles team Millwood was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 31 starts. That earned him a ticket to free agency this winter and there were no takers.
The Yankees were interested but Millwood insisted on a guaranteed deal to make the roster. The Yankees declined. With spring training coming to a close, Millwood relented and signed a minor-league deal with the Yankees contingent on him being released if he is not called up to the majors before May 1.
The clock is ticking and the Yankees have just nine days to make an assessment on Millwood. On the one hand, Millwood was very impressive in his first start for the Trenton Thunder. He went seven innings, gave up one hit, walked four and struck three.
There also is the fact that the Yankees have another 24-year-old starter who is struggling. In his first three starts, Ivan Nova was unimpressive and he lost a game in relief to the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
In four appearances, Nova is 1-2 with a 7.63 ERA and his latest start was skipped. Nova will likely get another start before a final decision is made. But the Yankees might call on yet another aging right-hander like Millwood to bail out a struggling 24-year-old kid in Nova.
Tick, tick, tick.
CARLOS SILVA (No Record)

Silva has pitched for the Phillies, the Twins, the Mariners and the Cubs since 2002. He was 14-8 with a 4.21 ERA in his first season as a starter with the Twins in 2004. 
However, he has struggled since he was 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA in 27 starts in an injury-shortened 2005 campaign. After going 24-29 in two ill-fated seasons with the Twins, Silva signed with Seattle.
In 2008, he was 4-15 with a 6.46 ERA in 28 starts and after an injury-plagued 2009 season in which he was 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA, he moved on to the Cubs and picked up some helpful instruction from then-pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Silva actually pitched well for the Cubs in 2010. He was 10-6 with a 4.22 ERA in 21 starts before a right elbow strain shelved him. Silva did not make the Cubs’ 2011 roster, he turned down a demotion to the minors and he was subsequently released.
But Rothschild thinks he still can pitch and the Yankees have offered him a mior-league contract. Currently, the Yankees have Silva pitching in extended spring training in Tampa with the hopes he can begin pitching in the minors soon in an effort to get back to the major leagues.
He is likely a month or even two away from promotion but the Yankees have nothing really to lose in giving him a shot.
BUYING TIME

It is obvious what the Yankees are doing with Garcia, Colon, Millwood and Silva. They no longer are Michelins but they are solid patched up tires who carry the Yankees further in the pennant chase in 2011.
Cashman knows that teams are not going to shed quality starters in April or May — not when every team believes it has a chance to compete. But teams do fall out of races. Those teams also will look to cut salary in the summer. That is what Cashman is counting on.
Cashman has played this game before. In 2005, the Yankees rotation was riddled with injury and Cashman was forced to fill spots in the summer. He called up a rookie by the name of Chien-Ming Wang. He traded for a veteran right-hander from Colorado in Shawn Chacon and he called up a journeyman right-hander named Aaron Small.
Those three pitchers combined to go 25-8 in 38 starts and the Yankees ended up winning the division title. Small was 10-0 with a 3.20 ERA. So sometimes bargain-basement hunting for pitching has a silver lining.
The Yankees are also bidding for time for their young pitchers. They would love for Hughes and Nova to claim spots in the rotation and hold them. But if they can’t the team can’t just fold up their tents and write off t
he 2011 season either.
They have very high hopes for a trio of pitchers in the minors: 25-year-old right-hander Andrew Brackman, 23-year-old right-hander Dellin Betances and 20-year-old phenom lefty Manny Banuelos. Rather than rush those guys to the majors, the Yankees are going to let them develop at their own pace.
Brackman possibly could be promoted this season but the Yankees would rather he build his arm — three years removed from Tommy John surgery — at the minor-league level.
There is a good chance that Banuelos might get promoted to the major-league club in September as a additional lefty in the bullpen. The Yankees believe using him much like they did with Joba Chamberlain in 2007 could be beneficial to him and not tax his arm unduly.
But, until Cashman makes a deal to acquire a quality starter, the Yankees will look to their geriatric quartet of Garcia, Colon, Millwood and Silva to carry them until the cavalry arrives.
These pitchers may be closer to drawing Social Security than votes for the Cy Young Award but they can help keep the Yankees afloat long enough for the team to stay in the race. Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and Rothschild do not have any other expectations of them than that. Anything above that is a bonus.

Colon Shows Vintage Form As Yankees Clip Jays’ Wings

GAME 16
YANKEES 6, BLUE JAYS 2
Wednesday night looked like “Turn Back The Clock Night” at the Rogers Centre.
Bartolo Colon, making his first major-league start in a year and a half, pitched brilliantly into the seventh inning as he led New York to a victory over Toronto and a split of their two-game series.
Colon (1-1) gave up two runs on five hits and two walks and struck out seven to pick up his first victory of the season. Rafael Soriano shut down a rally in the ninth inning to pick up his first save of the season.
The Yankees, who have been so reliant on the home run this season, actually used more situational hitting to defeat Brett Cecil (1-2). Cecil, who was 4-0 in his five starts against the Yankees last season, was rocked for five runs on six hits and four walks and he struck out four in five innings.
The Yankees improved their season record to 10-6 and the Blue Jays dropped to 8-10. The Yankees maintained their two-game lead in the American League over the Tampa Bay Rays.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • Colon, 37, looked to be in vintage form against a very good hitting team. After giving up a solo home run to rookie J.P. Arencibia to lead of the second inning, Colon retired 12 Jays in a row and seven of them came on strikeouts. Colon also registered consistently at 93 miles per hour on his fastball and it had lots of movement, keeping the Jays hitters off balance.
  • Curtis Granderson tripled in a run in the second inning and smacked a solo home run in the ninth inning. The home run was the sixth of the season for Granderson, which ties him for the A.L. lead with teammate Mark Teixeira. In fact, only the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista and the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitski have hit more home runs than the 19 Granderson has hit since Aug. 1 of last season.
  • Teixeira smacked three doubles in the game, scored a run and raised his batting average to .259 with his 3-for-3 night. 
  • Robinson Cano was 1-for-3 and drove in two runs. He also made two sparkling plays in the field, including a tag-and-throw double play in the sixth inning.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • Though he drove in a run in the second inning on a infield grounder, Derek Jeter was 0-for-5 in the game, including grounding out four times — one of those was a double play. Jeter’s batting average slipped to .219. It is not time to panic yet, but Jeter looks overmatched at the plate.
  • With the Yankees up 6-2 in the ninth, manager Joe Girardi tried to spare the bullpen by using rookie Lance Pendleton to get the last three outs. But Pendleton, who retired all nine batters he faced in his debut on April 15, walked the leadoff batter and gave up a one-out double to last night’s hero Travis Snyder. That forced Girardi to use Soriano to close out the game. Mariano Rivera was unavailable because he threw 28 pitches in Tuesday’s loss.
  • Andruw Jones started in left-field for a struggling Brett Gardner with a left-hander on the mound in Cecil. But Jones struggled himself. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he popped out to the infield three times.
  • Despite the victory, the Yankees were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They scored four of their runs on two ground ball outs and two sacrifice flies. They never seemed to get the big hit with runners on base that would have put the Blue Jays away.
BOMBER BANTER
Alex Rodriguez returned to the starting lineup after leaving one game and missing the opener against the Blue Jays on Tuesday due to a stiff back and oblique. He was 0-for-2 with an RBI on a sac fly and two walks and two strikeouts.  . . .  Phil Hughes, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a “dead arm,” threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday. He said he was encouraged and felt no discomfort. However, he will need to continue playing long toss and some additional bullpen sessions to build his arm enough to begin a rehab assignment. There is no immediate timetable for his return.  . . .   Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli will begin a rehab assignment at Class A Tampa on Thursday and seems to be on target for a return to the active roster in early May. Cervelli has been out since the early part of spring training after breaking a bone in his right foot when he fouled a ball of the foot in an exhibition game.
ON DECK
The Yankees will get a chance to rest their bullpen with a day off on Thursday. The Yankees will begin a weekend series in Baltimore on Friday with the Orioles.
The Yankees will go to their hard-luck ace CC Sabathia (0-1, 2.52 ERA), who is still looking for his first victory of the season. Sabathia was leading when he left in the seventh inning against the Rangers on Sunday but ended up with another no decision. The Orioles may get him on track. He is 14-2 against them with a 2.86 ERA in his career.
The Orioles will counter with Brad Bergesen (0-2, 3.38 ERA), who has had some hard luck of his own. He gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits in five innings of a 4-2 loss to the Indians on Sunday. He is 0-2 with a 5.82 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Yankees’ Super Sub Chavez Torpedos Texas With RBI Hit

GAME 14
YANKEES 6, RANGERS 5
With Alex Rodriguez out of the lineup on Sunday the Yankees knew they would have their hands full in trying to beat the Rangers. But with Eric Chavez playing for Rodriguez there was no real reason to worry.
Chavez slapped a line-drive single up the middle off Arthur Rhodes (0-1) with two out in the bottom of eighth inning to score Mark Teixeira with the game-winning run as New York edged Texas at Yankee Stadium.
Rafael Soriano (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to get credit for the victory and Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save in seven chances. Rivera now has seven saves and a victory and has had a hand in eight of the Yankees’ nine victories.
The Yankees also established a all-time team record by hitting 27 home runs in the first 14 games of the season, breaking a record established by the 1932 team. Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson each homered off Rangers starter Alexi Ogando.
The Yankees ran their record to 9-5 and they have now established a 2 1/2-game lead over second-place Toronto in the American League East. The Boston Red Sox are in last place, five games out. The Rangers lost the road three-game series to the Yankees and fell to 10-5.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • Chavez is proving in the early season he will be a very valuable player off the bench. He was 2-for-4 with a run-scored as well as stroking the game-winning hit. He is 7-for-15 (.467) in limited playing time this season.
  • Cano opened the Yankee scoring with a solo home run off Ogando to lead off the second inning. Up to that point, Ogando had been unscored upon in 13 innings this season. It was Cano’s fourth home run of the season.
  • Martin continues to impress behind the plate and with the bat. He blasted his fourth home run of the season to left with two out and Chavez on first in the fifth inning to tie the score at 3-3.
  • Granderson’s round-tripper came with none out and Derek Jeter on first in the sixth inning and it gave the Yankees their first lead of the night. It was Granderson’s fourth home run of the season and his first off a right-handed pitcher.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • CC Sabathia started for New York and pitched his worst game of the season. He was tagged for four runs on eight hits and two walks and he struck out six in 6 1/3 innings of work. However, he left with a lead.
  • Joba Chamberlain coughed up the lead with one out in the seventh inning by walking Ian Kinsler and  one batter later Michael Young drove in Kinsler with a long double to right-center.
  • Yankee pitching had a rough night against Young and Adrian Beltre. Young was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Beltre was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBI, including a two-run home run in the first inning. The rest of the Rangers’ hitters were 4-for-28 (.143).
  • After two days of not starting, Brett Gardner was inserted back into the lineup. However, his struggles with the bat continue. He was 0-for-2, hitting into a double play and a striking out. Andruw Jones pinch-hit for him in the seventh inning. Gardner’s average is now down to .140.
BOMBER BANTER
Rodriguez said that he hopes to be able to play in Toronto on Tuesday or Wednesday. He received treatments of ice, heat, whirlpool and sauna for his stiff back on Sunday. A precautionary MRI came back clean and Rodriguez said he does not believe he will have to go on the disabled list.  . . .  The Yankees said that 37-year-old right-hander will make his first start of the season on Wednesday against the Blue Jays. Colon has been inserted into the rotation in place of Phil Hughes, who is on the disabled list trying to build up arm strength. Colon has pitched 11 1/3 innings out of the bullpen and has an 3.97 ERA.  . . .  Manager Joe Girardi said the team was very close to sending Hughes to the minors to work out his drop in velocity. However, Girardi said the team believes it would be better for Hughes to work on his problems outside of game situations.
ON DECK
The Yankees have Monday off and will open a two-game series in Toronto on Tuesday.
The Yankees will send to the mound A.J. Burnett (3-0, 4.67 ERA), who pitched six shutout innings against the Orioles on Wednesday only to be tagged for a pair of two-run homers in the seventh. But Burnett has won each of his three starts and he is 2-4 with 5.84 ERA against his former team.
The Blue Jays will counter with rookie right-hander Kyle Drabek (1-0, 1.93 ERA), who has walked 11 batters over his first 18 2/3 innings. But, he has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his six starts. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in one start against the Yankees last season.
Game-time will be 7:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by My9.
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