Results tagged ‘ Brian Bruney ’

Nova Dazzles Chisox As Yanks Claim Tie For 1st

GAME 110

YANKEES 7, WHITE SOX 2

For a team still labeled as a team without quality starting pitching, how odd is it that the New York Yankees can claim to have the best No. 6 starter in baseball?

The 24-year-old rookie right-hander without a starting spot, Ivan Nova, sparkled and shined brighter than ever under the lights of U.S. Cellular Field on Thursday to make a bold statement that he does not want to sent back to the minors again. It would be a crime if he was.

Nova (10-4) gave up only one run on six hits and no walks and struck out a career high 10 as New York completed a four-game road sweep over Chicago for their seventh straight victory and claimed a share of first place in the American League East with the Boston Red Sox.

Since his recall on July 30, Nova has given up three runs on 12 hits and one walk and struck out 16 in 14 2/3 innings over his two starts. Recalled initially to fill in as a starter for a makeup doubleheader game on Saturday, Nova pitched so well against the Orioles last week he was given another start against the White Sox. Now that he has pitched brilliantly again, what will the Yankees do?

Manager Joe Girardi calls it a good problem to have but it is a problem just the same.

While Nova was dazzling the Chisox hitters, the Yankee offense got untracked early against White Sox starter Philip Humber (8-8).

With one out in the second inning, Robinson Cano hit a Humber fastball on a line down the left-field line and into the White Sox bullpen for his 18th home run and his second in two games.

The White Sox got a little help from Nova to score a run in the third to tie the game. After Alejandro De Aza reached on an infield single, the Yankees called for a pitchout as De Aza attempted to steal second. However, Nova threw high and to the left of catcher Russell Martin and it allowed De Aza to reach second safely.

Brent Morel singled to advance De Aza to third and De Aaza scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Juan Pierre.

The Yankees ended up taking the lead for good in the sixth on the bat and legs of Brett Gardner.

Gardner doubled to right to lead off the inning. Derek Jeter put down a sacrifice bunt to advance him to third. Curtis Granderson hit a one-hop smash right at Adam Dunn at first. Dunn stepped on the bag and fired immediately to home to catch a sliding Gardner, but Gardner slid into home plate just before A.J. Pierzynski applied the tag.

The Yankees tacked on two more runs and chased Humber in the seventh. Cano singled and Nick Swisher drew a walk. One out later, Jorge Posada singled to right to score Cano and advance Swisher to third. After right-hander Jesse Crain replaced Humber, Martin lofted a deep sac fly to center to score Swisher easily.

The Yankees turned the game into a rout by jumping on former teammate Brian Bruney for three runs in the ninth. Swisher and Eric Chavez started the inning with singles. One out later, Martin connected for a tape-measure three-run home run into left-center. Martin ended up with four RBIs and it was his first multiple RBI game since June 29 against the Brewers at Yankee Stadium.

David Roberston completed the eighth inning for Nova and Hector Noesi finished up in the ninth, though he was touched for a solo home run by Dunn.

While the Yankees were winning in the Windy City, former Red Sox starter Justin Masterson and the Cleveland Indians were beating the Red Sox at Fenway Park, 7-3. By virtue of the Yankee victory and the Red Sox loss the two teams are now in a tie for the lead in the A.L. East with identical 68-42 records.

That will set the stage for the weekend series in Boston when the Yankees will take on the Red Sox in a pivotal three-game weekend series.

The White Sox loss was their sixth in a row and they are 52-58 and fading fast in the A.L. Central.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova is 10-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 18 starts. He is the only rookie starter in the majors who is six games over .500 on the season and the Yankees are 13-5 in games in which he has started. His last loss was on June 3 against the Angels. How can you send this kid to the bullpen or the minor leagues? The answer is you can’t. Nova has become a much better pitcher because he is using his slider more effectively. That has made his fastball and curve less predictable. Nova also is showing unwavering confidence.
  • Martin’s home run and four RBIs are an encouraging sign. He hit .292 in April but injuries sent him reeling at the plate. He batted .200 in May, .185 in June and .200 in July. It is early but he is batting .273 in August and showing signs of breaking out of his long slump. In his last 11 games he is 12-for-41 (.293) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
  • Cano is on a tear of his own. In his last nine games he is 14-for-32 (.438) with two home runs and 13 RBIs. His recent streak has raised his season average to .301, the first time he has been at the .300 mark since July 14. He now has 18 home runs and 75 RBIs on the season.
  • Chavez, who was 2-for-4 on Thursday, is proving to be a very valuable replacement for Alex Rodriguez at third base. In the seven games he has started since coming off the 60-day disabled list on July 26, he is 9-for-28 (.321) with a homer and six RBIs. More importantly, Chavez is playing Gold Glove-quality defense. When Rodriguez returns, Chavez and Eduardo Nunez will make up part of a very good bench heading into the playoffs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Why carp about the team when it ties a season high with its seventh victory in a row and they claimed a share of first place in the East? Nova was just sensational.

BOMBER BANTER

Nova’s great pitching has left Girardi uncommitted about what the Yankees will do with him. The Yankees only have three bench players (Nunez, Chavez and Francisco Cervelli) heading into Boston. The Yankees would like to add outfielder Chris Dickerson to the roster. But that would mean they would have send a pitcher to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. It could be Nova or it could be Noesi. Beyond that, will Nova get another start next week? Girardi is not going to say for now.  . . .  Rodriguez worked out for 33 minutes at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, Fl, on Thursday and he reported no problems. It was the first field workout for Rodriguez since he was placed on the 15-day DL after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. It is unclear how long Rodriguez will need before he is activated.

ON DECK

Well, this is the big one. The series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park will determine who is first place to begin next week.

The Yankees will start 38-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.30 ERA). Colon gave up two runs on five hits in five innings on Sunday in a victory against the Orioles. He is 7-8 with a 3.89 ERA in his career against the Red Sox.

The Red Sox will counter with left-hander Jon Lester (11-4, 3.17 ERA). Lester gave up only two runs on four hits over eight innings over the White Sox on Sunday. He is 8-1 with a 3.56 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

Yankees Have Few Holes Left To Fill For 2010

The Winter Meetings in Indianapolis are over and the New York Yankees were pretty busy during that time. The welcomed free agent pitcher Andy Pettitte back into the fold, acquired center fielder Curtis Granderson and traded away pitchers Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, Ian Kennedy and their No. 1 young outfield prospect in Austin Jackson. They also will have a chance at looking at the first pick in the Rule 5 draft, outfielder Jamie Hoffman. But where does General Manager Brian Cashman go from here? Let’s take a brief look position by position:

CATCHER

The Yankees have Jorge Posada signed for two more seasons and after his 2009 season it looks like he is healthy again, still productive with the bat and adequate enough in the field. The Yankees chose to let Jose Molina go as a free agent and it is not likely he will be back in 2010, The Yankees were very impressed with the way Francisco Cervelli played when Posada and Molina were hurt and he would provide a cheaper and younger option to Molina. In the minors, the Yankees have two great prospects in Jesus Montero and Austin Romine. Montero has been mentioned in potential trade talks for Toronto Blue Jays’ ace Roy Halladay. But given the deal that sent Jackson to the Tigers for Granderson, Cashman may be leery about trading the second best blue-chip prospect in the Yankees’ system. With Posada getting older it would seem unwise to trade either at this point.
FIRST BASE

The Yankees are set here for another seven years with Mark Teixeira proving to be everything the Yankees could have hoped for when they signed him as a free agent last winter. Finishing second in the Most Valuable Player voting showed Teixeira’s value to the Yankees. Nick Swisher will remain as his primary backup but that could change if Cuban-born Juan Miranda makes the team in the spring. If Hideki Matsui is not signed to be the designated hitter, Miranda may be given a shot to replace him as well as be a backup at first.
SECOND BASE

There was a rumor going around Robinson Cano might be traded but it does not seem likely that it would be possible. Cano is still just 27 and he is signed for another two years. He is also coming off a bounce-back season where he hit .320 with 25 home runs and 85 RBIs. The Yankees do not have anyone in their system to replace him. So if the Yankees were to trade Cano they would have to look at getting a second baseman back in a trade or through free agency. Orlando Hudson would be a possibility as a free agent but he is not the hitter Cano is though he is a Gold Glove fielder. I do not see any changes here.
SHORTSTOP

I will be real brief here: Derek Jeter. Seriously, Jeter is signed to a deal that expires after the 2010 season but the Yankees chose not to negotiate a new deal with Jeter because he is coming off one of his better seasons. He won the Silver Slugger, a Gold Glove and finished third the MVP voting. But the Yankees will certainly look to keep their “franchise symbol” player for the rest of his career. So there are no real worries here.
THIRD BASE

Compared to last spring, the Yankees are exhaling a great sigh of relief they have Alex Rodriguez signed to a long-term contract like Teixiera. A-Rod overcame a heated steroid controversy and hip surgery to re-establish himself as one of the best players in the game. His postseason also exorcised a lot of past demons. A-Rod has no worries going into 2010 and he can honestly say he won a championship.
RESERVE INFIELDER

The Yankees chose to let Jerry Hairston Jr. go as a free agent. They have not precluded re-signing him. But they do have other options. Reports say the Yankees might be interested in free agent Mark DeRosa, who can play all the positions Hairston can except center field and has a better bat. The Yankees also have a homegrown alternative in Ramiro Pena, who is 24 and hit .287 in 115 at-bats with the Yankees last season. Pena can play second, short and third and plays them all very well defensively. If the Yankees are looking to cut payroll, Pena might be the choice here and let the pricier Hairston and De Rosa go elsewhere. The Yankees also have a minor-league reserve candidate in Eduardo Nunez, who is 22. Right now it looks like Pena and Nunez will battle for the job this spring with Pena the odds-on favorite.
RIGHT FIELD

Nick Swisher took over this position last year when Xavier Nady went down with a ligament tear in his right elbow in early April. He is just 29 and it looks as if he has found a home in New York. Though he hit just .249, Swisher more than made up for it with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs. He also walked 97 times and had an on-base percentage of .371. The Yankees no longer have Nady on the roster and he is a free agent. The Yankees could seek to bring him back at a cheaper price and shift Swisher to left if they did not re-sign Johnny Damon. They also might consider Nady as a cheaper option to use at DH if they do not re-sign Hideki Matsui. But Nady will draw a lot of interest from small-market teams looking for cheaper alternatives to add power rather than bidding on high-priced stars like Jason Bay and Matt Holliday. The Yankees are likely to let Nady go.
CENTER FIELD

The trade for Granderson last week was not a total shock. It had been talked about since November. But it is not often a world championship team trades for such a talented outfielder. Since the incumbent Melky Cabrera and backup Brett Gardner were known for their defense, Granderson is not really much of a defensive upgrade. With the bat, it is a different story. Granderson hit 30 home runs and drove in 71 runs as a leadoff hitter for the Tigers last season. The Yankees see his left-hand stroke as perfect for the short porch in right field in Yankee Stadium and 40 home runs may be possible. But Granderson also is a career .208 hitter against left-hand pitching and he strikes out twice as much as he walks. So patience is not a Granderson virtue. 
LEFT FIELD

Melky Cabrera, right now, is the team’s left fielder. For those tired of seeing runners take advantage of Damon’s arm, this might be a blessing. Cabrera has an arm that would make runners think twice about trying score on him in 2010. He also bounced back nicely from a dreadful 2008 season to hit .274 with 13 home runs and 68 RBIs. But either of two things happen: The Yankees sign Damon or Matsui as free agents and they become the primary DHs or Cabrera is used as trade bait for whatever the Yankees might be looking for such as Halladay. Because is just 25, he has great trade value and could be dealt. But if the Yankees sign Matsui, Cabrera would likely stay put because Matsui, in the Yankees’ view, may not be able to play the outfield anymore on his bad wheels. But if Damon is signed instead, Cabrera looks to be relegated to a backup outfielder or in prime position to be traded. The Yankees have a lot of options here.
RESERVE OUTFIELDER

Gardner, 26, looks to be the No. 1 candidate here. But the acquisition of Granderson most adversely affected him. Gardner entered 2009 as the Yankees starting center fielder. Now he looks to be, at best, a off-the-bench player in 2010. The trade of Bruney to the Washington Nationals also brought worse news: Gardner will have competition for the job in the spring. The Yankees acquired outfielder Jamie Hoffman from the Nationals. The Yankees had asked the Nationals to select Hoffman so they could
trade Bruney for him. Hoffman, a former hockey player, brings that tough mentality with him to the diamond. Hoffmann, 25, split most of this season between Triple-A Albuquerque and Double-A Chattanooga, batting .291 (104-for-358) with 69 runs, 23 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs, 64 RBIs, 15 stolen bases, 54 walks and a .390 on-base percentage. If Hoffman fails to make the roster the Yankees will have to offer him back to the Nationals for $25,000. So Gardner will have a major fight on his hands.

STARTING ROTATION

The signing of Pettitte to a one-year deal for a reported $11.5 million last week means the Yankees will have their postseason trio of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Pettitte back next year. The rest of the rotation is on flux but Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes are slotted as the No. 4 and No. 5 starters, at this time. With the Yankees, according to Cashman, “kicking the tires” at free agent John Lackey and possible trade target in Halladay, the Yankees have made no secret they are looking to add a starter. However, any trade for Halladay could mean the Yankees lose either Hughes or Chamberlain as well as prospects such as Montero. The Yankees have also made some moves to make sure they have some depth in the rotation. They decided to tender offers to right-handers Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. However, at the same time, they did not tender an offer to Chien-Ming Wang, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.  The Yankees have said they would like to keep Wang but $4 million is the lowest amount for which they can sign him and they are unsure of when he will be able to pitch. His agent said Wang is ahead of schedule and could be ready on May 1 but the Yankees would rather sign him to lower contract with incentives. The Yankees also could use Alfredo Aceves as a starter next season depending on whether he is needed there more than in the bullpen. There also is speculation that the Yankees’ search for another starter could be a way to move Chamberlain a more comfortable role as the setup man — a job he used to have.

BULLPEN

This area of the team is the strongest on the team and the reason why Cashman felt he could safely trade away Bruney and Coke. Mariano Rivera is set as the closer and the Yankees are happy with the way Damaso Marte pitched in the playoffs last season. They also like the development of 24-year-old right-hander David Robertson last season. Aceves was dependable as a long man for the most part last season and could return to that role. The Yankees also have Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, youngsters Mark Melancon and Michael Dunn to audition for jobs. They also could have Chamberlain back if they make a deal for a starter. Gaudin and Mitre can also slide into bullpen slots. This is the place of least worry on the club. All are under contract and there appears to be plenty of depth. Do not look for anymore deals involving these players and I doubt Cashman is looking to add another arm unless it is another left-hander to replace Coke.


Yankees Deal For Granderson Looks To Be Dead For Now



WINTER MEETINGS
DAY TWO

General Manager Brian Cashman had hardly broken the seal on his honor bar macadamia nuts in his Indianapolis hotel suite before the Yankees had already made news with rumors swirling about that outfielder Curtis Granderson was heading to the Bronx.
According to FOX Sports the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks were proposing a three-way deal that would send Granderson and two Diamondback prospects to the Yankees. The Yankees, in turn, would send lefthanders Phil Coke and Michael Dunn and top outfield prospect Austin Jackson to the Tigers.
The Tigers would ship righthander Edwin Jackson to the Diamondbacks and the Tigers would receive young starter Max Scherzer. The Diamondbacks would also receive righthander Ian Kennedy from the Yankees.
FOX Sports did say the discussions hit a snag Monday night and that one of the teams rejected the deal.
For Cashman’s sake, let’s hope it was him.
The reason is that any discussions about trading a potential star prospect like Jackson would have be treated with caution. Jackson is simply the future centerfielder for the Yankees and Cashman already rejected one deal for Jackson last July.
When Cashman asked the Mariners their price for lefthander Jarrod Washburn and he heard Jackson’s name mentioned, Cashman shut down talks right there. Despite the Yankees need to replace Chien-Ming Wang in the rotation at the trade deadline, Jackson was a price too high to pay.
Now, it appears, Cashman is pulling the plug on this deal because Jackson may be too high a price to pay for Granderson.
In addition, it is hard to see the sense in trading the two best lefthanded relievers in the organization behind Damaso Marte. Coke pitched reliably for most of the 2009 season and only lost his No. 1 status to Marte in the playoffs because Marte was pitching well.
Dunn, a former outfielder converted to relief pitcher, is a young lefthander with potential. He was the Yankees lone representative in this fall’s Futures All-Star Game. 
Lefthanders are a scarce commodity in baseball and the Yankees might want to hold on to Coke and Dunn because Marte has some mileage on him and there is no guarantee he will stay healthy in 2010.
The loss of Kennedy also would seem odd considering that Cashman is seeking potential starting rotation help this winter. If the old adage “you never have enough pitching” is true dealing Kennedy would only make sense if the Yankees had given up on him.
There are reports that talks on this rumored deal could resume Tuesday. My guess would be that Cashman is looking to make this deal without Jackson included. If the Tigers insist on Jackson they may have to look for another trading partner.
The Yankees could use Granderson’s bat to replace Johnny Damon. But because Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner are excellent defensively, Granderson would not add much to the defense. He also is woefully bad as a hitter against lefthanders. 
Since the Yankees do not have a righthanded hitter to platoon with Granderson, he and his sub-.200 average would have to slog through an entire season of futility against lefties. 
So perhaps this deal might be dead. Let’s hope so. The Yankees could do a lot better and they need to keep Jackson, Coke and Dunn.
NUMBER 99 GONE

The Yankees will have No. 99 available to any player wanting it for 2010 because Brian Bruney was dealt to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named. 
Bruney was 5-0 with a 3.92 ERA last season but has been plagued by injuries the past two seasons. Slated to be the setup man for Mariano Rivera, Bruney started the season off well in April. But a sore elbow landed Bruney on the disabled list twice last season and he never really regained his April form.
Though Bruney threw hard, his command was erratic and he quickly fell out of favor of manager Joe Girardi late last season. He was left of the ALDS and ALCS rosters but was added for the World Series.
Cashman said the depth the Yankees built in the bullpen last season simply made Bruney expendable this winter. The Nationals said Bruney will be a back-end option for the woefully bad Nationals bullpen.
PRICE IS RIGHT

The Yankees reportedly offered lefthander Andy Pettitte $10 million and it was rejected by Pettitte and his agent Randy Hendricks. Other reports say that because Pettitte just relayed word through Hendricks he wanted to pitch in 2010 that the Yankees would make their first offer on Monday.
Either way, it appears Pettitte will return to the Yankees in 2010. 
It is sure thing that the Yankees will get into the right price range to please Pettitte. The Yankees also can be pretty sure that Pettitte will not be looking at other teams. If Pettitte is pitching in 2010, it will be the Yankees and no one else.
That limits Hendricks’ bargaining position but the Yankees do not wish to low-ball Pettitte as they did last winter. Pettitte, who made a base salary of $16 million in 2007, had to accept a $5.5 million deal with incentives that paid out $11 million.
The Yankees and Pettitte might settle in at $12.5 million for one last season for the 37-year-old veteran. Pettitte might creep closer to Hall of Fame status with another good regular season and playoff run.
Stay tuned . . . 

Yankees Built Great Bullpen As Season Progressed

THE BULLPEN

Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-Up Man: Phil Hughes
Lefthander: Phil Coke
Righthander: Brian Bruney
Long Man: Alfredo Aceves

Contributors:

David Robertson
Chad Gaudin
Jonathan Albaladejo
Damaso Marte
Edwar Ramirez
Mark Melancon
Brett Tomko
Jose Veras
Steven Jackson
Anthony Claggett

In the first half of the season, the New York Yankees bullpen was very much a work in progress. By the end of the season it was a major strength of the team.
Give some credit for that to pitching coach Dave Eiland and manager Joe Girardi.
Spring training opened with many doubts about the Yankees’ bullpen. There were concerns about the offseason shoulder surgery on Mariano Rivera. There were doubts the Yankees had anyone who could get the ball to Rivera in the ninth. There also were questions on why no major moves were made when the bullpen failed so badly in 2008.
The Yankees broke camp with seven relievers: Rivera, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, Damaso Marte and Jonathan Albaladejo. Girardi had an audition for a long reliever in the spring between Dan Giese, Brett Tomko and Alfredo Aceves but chose Albaladejo for the second season in a row as his final addition to the 2009 pen. The team released Giese and Aceves and Tomko were sent to Triple A.
But April was not kind to this group. 
The Yankees starting rotation did not pitch real well as a group and the team’s offense was missing Alex Rodriguez recovering from hip surgery. Still, the bullpen was contributing to that 13-15 record the Yankees had on May 8 when Rodriguez returned.
Six of the team’s 15 losses were attributable to the bullpen. Phil Coke lost two and Albaladejo, Veras, Marte and Rivera each lost one. 
Eiland and Girardi decided that the bullpen could be better and they started looking for replacements for some of the original seven down on the farm.
Bruney, who looked to be the chosen one as the bridge to Rivera, pitched brilliantly in April until he started having issues with his right elbow. He was placed on the disabled list.
Marte, who had come up with shoulder problems after pitching in the World Baseball Classic, proved that he was not completely recovered from the injury and he was placed on the disabled list also a day after Bruney.
Eiland and Girardi opted for young righthander David Robertson and former starter Alfredo Aceves as bullpen replacements for Bruney and Marte. Tomko was later called up and replaced Robertson in the mix.
But in May, the Yankees continued to have problems with some members of the bullpen. The Yankees chose to option Ramirez back to Triple A on May 19 when Bruney was activated. But Bruney lasted only one appearance before he went back on the disabled list on May 26 and Robertson was recalled again.
On June 16, the Yankees finally decided to designate Veras for assignment for his recurring problems with finding the strike zone. Yankee fans who taken to booing Veras as much as former reliever Kyle Farnsworth, were pleased by the move. Bruney was activated again to replace Veras on the roster.
Meanwhile, the Yankees had called up Phil Hughes to replace Chien-Ming Wang as a starter in the rotation and he did start seven games from April 28 through May 31 with some spotty success. He was 3-2 with a 5.45 ERA.
Wang returned to the rotation and Hughes was shifted to the bullpen — temporarily. The idea was to keep Hughes around just in case Wang needed help out of the bullpen as he built up his arm strength.
But Wang instead landed back on the DL and this time it would be for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. However, rather then use Hughes as a starter, the Yankees decided to keep him there.
It was a great move too because Hughes became the bridge to Rivera that Bruney could not be after his elbow injury. Many Yankee fans circle May 8 when Rodriguez returned as the third baseman for the Yankees climb back into contention in the American League East race.
But you also may want to circle July 3. That is the first time Hughes was used in the eighth inning as the bridge to Rivera. He has had that role ever since and the Yankees bullpen has been sensational from June through September.
The Yankees ran off a 23-8 record from May 8 to June 6 and the bullpen lost only four of those games: Tomko, Aceves, Coke and Rivera.
But from June 6 on, the Yankees bullpen was nearly flawless. From that date on June 6 through July 10 the Yankees were 23-15. The bullpen lost only two of those games.
Tomko and young righthander Mark Melancon came in to pitch early and ended up taking the loss in those games.
The new bullpen cast of Tomko, Robertson, Aceves and Hughes added to holdovers Bruney, Coke and Rivera was proving to be effective. But Bruney did struggle to regain his form after his two stints on the disabled list.
Brian Cashman also made his worst decision of 2009 on July 21. He designated Tomko for assignment and decided to go along with Girardi’s choice and allow Sergio Mitre to become the replacement for Wang after the All-Star break. Mitre failed miserably as a fifth starter and Tomko recorded a 4-1 record with a  2.95 ERA for Oakland. Oops!
But the bullpen came on strong after the All-Star break. The team was 51-37 at the break and was 52-22 after the break. The bullpen lost only five of those 22 games:
Hughes lost one on July 30 and Robertson lost another the next night. Marte lost a game on Sept. 11 and another on Sept. 30. Rivera lost one on Sept 18 to the Mariners on Ichiro’s two-run blast in the ninth to end his consecutive saves streak at career-best 36 straight.
That was it. 
Look at the won-loss records of those in the bullpen:
Aceves 10-1
Hughes 5-1
Albaladejo 5-1
Bruney 5-0
Coke 4-3
Rivera 3-3
Robertson 2-1
Marte 1-3
Melancon 0-1
They combined for a record of 35-13 for a .729 wining percentage. The high number decisions was due to some early departures by Yankee starters and the Yankees’ penchant for coming back to win games late. The team had 15 walkoff wins this season and they also lead the league in come-from-behind victories.
The bullpen was a large part of the reason why.
Rivera led the way with a 1.76 ERA and 44 saves in 46 tries.
But, Hughes actually was even better with a 1.40 ERA out of the bullpen with 65 strikeouts in 51 1/3 innings.
Aceves’ 3.54 ERA is deceiving because he gave up nine runs over six innings in three consecutive appearances in August when he was experiencing fatigue in his arm. He also gave up  three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in a spot start July 9.
But in his 42 relief appearances this season, Aceves held the opposition scoreless in 25 of them. He gave up only one run in another eight games. So Aceves certainly earned Girardi’s trust as long r
eliever this season.
Coke was also better than his 4.50 ERA might indicate. Coke did pitch poorly in April with his ERA for the month reaching 5.73. But on July 4 Coke had lowered his season ERA to a season low 2.97.
But on July 11, Coke gave four runs in a relief appearance against the Angels in Anaheim and  on Aug. 1 he was roughed up for six runs by the White Sox in Chicago. Between those two outings, Coke’s ERA jumped back to 4.98.
In his last 23 appearances of the season he was scored upon in only three and all of those were in August. 
Bruney also has shown improvement since his ERA ballooned to 6.16 on July 29. In August and September combined, Bruney pitched in 21 games and 20 innings with an ERA of 1.80 and 13 strikeouts. He has also walked 13 batters in those 20 innings, which is still a concern. But Girardi thinks Bruney can contribute and he may earn a postseason spot in the bullpen.
Robertson was headed for true stardom this season before a balky elbow in September shelved him until the final week of the season. Robertson drew raves because of his ability to strike out batters despite not having a mid-90s fastball. 
In just 43 2/3 innings pitched this season, Robertson has fanned 63 batters, a rate higher than Hughes and Rivera. He also has showed he can hold a lead in the middle innings.  He was unscored upon in 32 of 45 appearances and in his final 17 appearances he did not give up a run in 14 of those.
If Robertson’s two appearances in the final series against the Tampa Bay Rays shows Eiland and Girardi he is healthy he could supplant Bruney on the postseason roster.
Marte likely will make the roster simply because he adds another lefthander to the bullpen besides Coke. Marte is 1-3 with a 9.45 ERA. But to be fair, Marte did pitch most of the early season with a bad shoulder and spent most of the rest of the season trying to rehab it.
If you throw out a dreadful four-run pounding in 1/3 of an inning at home against the Orioles on Sept. 11, Marte actually had a 1.17 ERA from Aug. 21 until the end of the season and he was effective against lefthanded hitters.
In the first half of the 2009 season, I gave this bullpen a overall grade of C+ because of the struggles of Veras and Ramirez and injuries to Marte and Bruney.
But with the ascension from the minors of Aceves and Robertson and the addition of Hughes and the recovery of Marte and Bruney, the bullpen — including Coke and the always sensational Rivera — just kept getting better and better as the season wore on.
This corps kept the Yankees in games so they could come back and they rarely lost leads in the late innings and allowed the Yankees to hold the leads that they did earn. So you have to give this bullpen an A+ for the second half of the season.
I would give it an overall grade of B+ only because of the early problems that later were worked out and the uncertainty about Bruney and Marte heading into the playoffs. 
But one thing is for sure. The Twins will not like facing this bullpen anyway. Adding Joba Chamberlain to the bullpen mix only makes it that much deeper for the American League Division Series. This bullpen is simply the backbone of this team right now.
MID-SEASON BULLPEN GRADE: A+
OVERALL BULLPEN GRADE: B+



Yankees Sweep Bosox To Clinch AL East Title

YANKEES 4, RED SOX 2


Champagne sure tastes better when your most bitter rival has to watch you drink it.
The New York Yankees, who began the season by losing eight straight games to the Boston Red Sox, clinched their 13th American League East title in the past 14 seasons, by completing a three-game sweep of the Bosox 4-2 on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees notched their 100th win of the season and beat Boston for the ninth time in their past 10 meetings to even the season series between the two teams at nine apiece. The Red Sox became the first team in major-league history to win the first eight games of a season series and fail to win the series.
Hideki Matsui put the Yankees in front in the sixth inning with a two-out, two-RBI single to right off former Japanese League rival pitcher Takashi Saito. American League MVP candidate Mark Teixeira added a insurance run with his 38th home run of the season in the eighth to give the Yankees their final margin of victory.
Brian Bruney, Phil Coke and Mariano Rivera combined to protect the lead for starter Andy Pettite (14-7) as the Yankees ran their record since May 8 to a major-league best 87-41. 
The Yankees, who refused to celebrate when they clinched a playoff spot last week, did take part in celebrating this achievement on the field with most of the 47,576 fans in attendance at their new cathedral for baseball they christened this season.
The Yankees not only clinched the AL East title, they also will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Andy Pettitte, who pitched six strong innings to get the victory, characterized the mindset of the team. 
“It’s been a while since we’ve won one here, and I think everybody is hungry,” Pettitte told MLB.com. “We’re all trying to push each other and grind through. We want to bring another championship to New York. There’s no better place to win than here.”

After missing the playoffs for the first time in 14 seasons in 2008, the Yankees set a goal not to miss them this season and their manager reflected on that on Sunday.
“I think the way last year ended left a bad taste in all of our mouths,” manager Joe Girardi said. “This organization is used to going to the playoffs and playing deep into the postseason. It was hard for all of us. It gave us all a chance to self-reflect and evaluate what we do, and it has paid off.”

“This is the first goal for us, to win the division,” Derek Jeter said. “That’s why we didn’t celebrate when we clinched a playoff spot, because we had our sights on the division. Now we’ve got to regroup in a week and get back to work.”

With the champagne chilling in the Yankee clubhouse and only one win needed to open it, New York began the day by allowing the Red Sox to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. A wobbly and wild Pettitte walked Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz after Jason Bay singled with two out.
Mike Lowell made Pettitte pay for his wildness by hitting a hot shot off Pettitte’s foot. The ball ricocheted to Alex Rodriguez at third but he was unable to make a play and Bay scored.
The Red Sox added a run in the third after Bay and Youkilis singled to open the inning and Ortiz walked again. With the bases loaded and no one out, Lowell bounced into a double play that scored Bay.
However, Pettitte struck out J.D. Drew and limited the damage. For the next three innings, Pettitte retired nine of the 10 batters he faced and struck out three. The Red Sox would pay dearly for not knocking out Pettitte when they had him on the ropes early.
Melky Cabrera got the Yankees on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third inning off Boston’s retread starter Paul Byrd. Cabrera hit a first-pitch change-up into the second deck in right for his 13th home run of the season.
Byrd, however, continued to frustrate the Yankees with his assortment of off-speed breaking pitches off the edges of the plate. But the Yankees broke through in the sixth  after there were two outs.
Teixeira touched Byrd for a bloop single to center that Jacoby Ellsbury misjudged and Rodriguez then battled Byrd in a 10-pitch at-bat in which Rodriguez lined a single up the middle.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona replaced Byrd with Saito to pitch to Matsui. After a wild pitch that moved Teixeira to third and Rodriguez to second, Matsui slapped a 2-2 inside fastball into right to score both runners and the Yankees took a 3-2 lead they would never relinquish.
Bruney pitched a perfect seventh and two-thirds of the eighth inning before giving way to a huge ovation from Yankee fans. 

“Everybody here was counting on me, and everybody let me know they appreciated it,” Bruney told MlB.com. “I would have loved to look up and give a thank you, but honestly, I had tears in my eyes and I couldn’t. That’s been my moment in baseball right now. It was an awesome feeling.”

Coke then received spirited applause for striking out Ortiz to end the eighth.
The Red Sox then called on rookie flamethrower Daniel Bard to pitch the eighth. Teixeira greeted the young righthander with a fly ball to right-center that dropped into the first row of seats for a home run. Teixeira, who leads the Amerfican League in RBIs with 120, now trails the Rays’ Carlos Pena, who has 39 home runs, by one home run for the American League lead.
Rivera came on in the ninth to record his 4
4th save but he had to endure some shaky play in the field. 
With one out, Drew singled. Victor Martinez was then sent up to hit for Jason Varitek and he hit a soft liner to the left of Robinson Cano at second. Cano tried to make s spectacular spin move to get Drew at second but dropped the ball for an error.
That put the tying run at first in the form of pinch-runner Brian Anderson and the potential lead run at the plate in pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman. But Rivera induced Kotchman to ground out to Cano, who this time conventionally took the slow roller and gunned down Kotchman while the two runners moved up a base.
Ellsbury became the last batter to stand between the Yankees winning and clinching the AL East title. Rivera threw his famous inside cutter on a 1-1 pitch to Ellsbury and the lefthand hitter could only weakly dribble it back to Rivera to the left of the mound.
Rivera carefully scooped up the slow roller and gently underhanded the ball to Teixeira at first and the celebrations and cheers thundered all around the new Yankee Stadium and echoed out across the street to the old cathedral — the one that Ruth built.
It was clear when Girardi picked the No. 27 for himself last season what the goal was and still  is for the Yankees. They have not lost sight of it this season.
“Joe did a tremendous job from spring training,” Rivera said to MLB.com. “He pulled us together, and we stuck together. That’s the only reason why we accomplished all this. The front office did a tremendous job recruiting a bunch of great guys. That, plus what we have, is why it came as natural as this.”
Now the Yankees can prepare for the playoffs.
“It’s a stepping stone to do some special stuff around here,” Pettitte said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to do this and carry it into the postseason.”



Rebuilt Yankees Bullpen Key To Second Half

THE MAKING OF A BULLPEN

PART 1: Trial and Error

The New York Yankees broke camp in Tampa, FL with seven relief pitchers and a hope that what they did last season and throughout the spring was not an illusion. Mariano Rivera was entrenched, as always, as the closer and there were no more questions about his health after his minor shoulder surgery over the winter.
The big question remained: Why was Joba Chamberlain in the rotation when the Yankees needed a set-up man for him. Manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland had faith in Brian Bruney, who had pitched so well last season before a foot sprain cost him four months of the season.
Phil Coke was impressive too. The former starter did well last season down the stretch and he had a sensational spring. Coke showed Girardi he could get both righthanders and lefthanders out and that he came into games throwing strikes.
The rest of the bullpen had some holdovers from last season’s bullpen that Girardi ultimately trusted. Damaso Marte came over in a trade with Pittsburgh as a lefty specialist but he did not perform well. After participating in the WBC in the spring, Marte came up with a sore left shoulder. The Yankees hoped it had healed for him to start the season. He did start the season but he was not healthy.
Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras both had their moments last season. Ramirez was impressive with his change-up and Veras had an impressive fastball and slider combination. But both also had moments when they could be wild. Yankee fans have long been wary of Veras when he was wild.
The last spot in the bullpen supposedly would go to a long relief specialist. Girardi said the candidates were last season’s holdover Dan Giese, late-season call-up Alfredo Aceves and spring free-agent signee Brett Tomko.
But Eiland and Girardi decided to release Giese and send Tomko and Aceves back to Triple A in order to keep Jonathan Albaladejo for the second straight season. Albaladejo, when he is on, is able to get groundouts with his sinking fastball and Girardi likes the mix he brings.
This is the bullpen the Yankees used to back what was arguably the best rotation they have had in years: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain.
But of the seven relief pitchers Girardi selected, only two of those pitchers are still in the bullpen and stayed on the active roster all season: Coke and Rivera. Two of the relief pitchers were placed on the disabled list (Bruney and Marte) and Marte is still rehabbing his shoulder that still has not healed from his work in the WBC.
One pitcher is no longer with the organization at all. Veras was designated for assignment on June 16 and he was claimed off waivers by the Cleveland Indians. His inconsistency has vexed Yankee fans for the last time. 
Edwar Ramirez was optioned to Triple A on May 19 and has not returned. Ramirez was not getting his fastball over enough to make his change-up effective. His wildness led him to have to lay fastballs over the plate and hitters rocked his average fastball enough that Girardi had enough and sent him down.
Albaladejo was optioned to Triple on May 22 but has been back on two other occasions. He was recently recalled when Brett Gardner was placed on the disabled list but he is not expected to stay. The Yankees had wanted him as an extra arm for a limited bullpen and they plan to option him back to Scranton-Wilkes Barre.
PART 2: THE NEW CAST TAKES SHAPE

The Yankees tried a whole new cast of characters to replace the relievers they lost to injury and ineffectiveness. Two young guns were summoned from the minors early in April. Anthony Claggett was one. But he probably wished he never was called up. 
He was called upon to pitch after Chien-Ming Wang had been shelled for eight runs and 1 1/3 innings against the Indians on April 18. Claggett did better than Wang but only slightly. he gave up eight runs in 1 2/3 innings. He and his 43.20 ERA have not been seen since.
Steven Jackson was another. But he never got a chance to pitch and he was eventually optioned back to Scranton and later was placed on waivers. the Pittsburgh Pirates claimed him and he is now pitching for them.
The Yankees then tried David Robertson and Mark Melancon, two young relievers the Yankees believe have a great future in the major leagues.
Robertson has pitched pretty well at times while Melancon has not shown he is ready to pitch yet at the major league level quite yet. After being sent up and down a few times, Robertson is back in the Yankees plans for the second half. Melancon was back at Scranton.
However, Melancon was recalled on July 10 to replace Albaladejo on the roster. He pitched against the Angels on that date and gave up three runs (two earned) and his ERA is currently at 7.71. He has not pitched in a game since. Albaladejo’s ERA is at 5.04 and he has not pitched since July 9. So it is a good bet that Melancon will be sent back to Scranton today and Albaladejo will remain with the team until Marte is ready to be activated.
In May the Yankees tried their two “long-relief” candidates from the spring: Alfredo Aceves and Brett Tomko. Aceves was recalled May 4 and Tomko came up on May 9. Both added a bit of stability to the bullpen.
Aceves only got better over time. Tomko, however, reached a point where he was not pitching much and when he was he was not effective. The Yankees designated for him for assignment July 21 and he likely will be released by the organization.
The last addition to the bullpen happened quite by circumstances and accident. Phil Hughes was called up to replace Chien-Ming Wang in the starting rotation. Hughes did well in his first start but he gave eight earned runs in his third start against Baltimore and after six starts and a 3-2 record and a 5.45 ERA, the Yankees decided to put Wang back n the rotation and Hughes would stay in the bullpen.
Of course, Hughes was expected to be sent back to Scranton to keep his innings up as a starter. But that did not happen. Hughes stayed and Hughes got better and better in the bullpen.
Now he is considered the set-up man for Rivera. Now the once-maligned Yankees bullpen is looking a lot better and a lot deeper.
The revised seven are: Melancon, Robertson, Bruney, Aceves, Coke, Hughes and Rivera.
Part 3: THE BULLPEN STARTS OFF BADLY

The original group of seven relievers, including Rivera, got off to a very shaky start to the season. Remember that on May 8, when Alex Rodriguez returned to the starting lineup, the Yankees had a sub-.500 record of 13-15.
Here is an interesting statistic about the bullpen during those first 28 games. Of the Yankees’ 15 losses, six of them were as a result of the bullpen. Phil Coke, who struggled mightily in April, was tagged with two of the losses. Albaladejo, Veras, Marte and Rivera were charged with the others.
The starting pitchers lost the rest of those games. If you remember, Wang was pitching hurt and he lost all three of his starts. Sabathia was very inconsistent in April and he lost three his starts. Pettitte, Chamberlain and Hughes each lost one.
Part 4: BULLPEN PICKS IT UP IN MAY

In May, with A-Rod back, Tex hitting and the starters pitc
hing a bit better, the bullpen started losing less games and keeping the Yankees in more games. After a  May 7 game in which Rivera lost a tied game to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ninth inning on a Carlos Pena home run, through June 6, the Yankees bullpen only lost a total of four games.
The Yankees record during that stretch was 23-8. The four losses were charged to Tomko, Aceves, Coke and Rivera again. Rivera blew a 7-5 lead to the Rays in the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium on June 6 for his only blown save of the season.
The starters lost the other four games. Burnett lost two and Hughes and Pettitte lost one apiece.
Part 5: NEAR PERFECTION SINCE

Here are the numbers that will prove the Yankees bullpen has been a intergral part of the team’s overall success. Since the Yankees were 32-23 on June 6 when Rivera blew his lone save, the Yankees record has been 28-15. The bullpen has only lost wo of those games.
Brett Tomko, used in relief of a game CC Sabathia was forced to leave early due to biceps tendinitis, lost a game 6-5 to the Florida Marlins on June 21.
Mark Melancon, used in relief of a struggling Joba Chamberlain in Anaheim on July 10, ended up losing to the Angels 10-6.
Since Phil Hughes made his first relief appearance on June 8, it is a safe bet to say it has been the main catalyst in the one of the best bullpen turnarounds in a long time. Experts from all over the spectrum had predicted that the Yankees would not beat the Boston Red Sox in the American League East because of the Red Sox superiority in the bullpen.
Where are those experts now?
Do they still believe the Yankees bullpen is so bad it will cost them the division?
Let’s look at some stats from June 6 (Aceves start on July 9 is not included):
Rivera: 19 games, 19.1 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 19 strikeouts, 0.47 ERA
Hughes: 18 games, 25.2 innings, 13 hits, 2 runs, 6 walks, 31 strikeouts, 0.70 ERA
Aceves: 15 games, 22 innings, 16 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 16 strikeouts, 1.64 ERA
Coke: 24 games, 20.2 innings, 13 hits, 7 runs, 5 walks, 20 strikeouts, 3.05 ERA
** Coke’s ERA excluding a nightmarish outing against the Angels on July 11 when he gave up 4 runs in one inning would be 1.37.
Part 6: BRUNEY SHOWING SIGNS

Brian Bruney has had a rough season. Tabbed as the Yankees set-up man coming out of spring training Bruney wanted to prove right away the Yankees did not need Joba Chamberlain as long as he was around.
He promptly pitched poorly in his first outing, giving up two runs to the Orioles in April 6. But from that appearance until he injured his elbow on April 21, Bruney showed why he was chosen for the role. In seven games he pitched 6.2 innings, gave up no hits, no runs, walked none and struck out 12. 
He tried to come back to the Yankees on May 19. He pitched a scoreless inning but went back on the disabled list. He was activated off the disabled list June 16 but he has not been the same pitcher since his return.
In 10 appearances Bruney pitched 8.1 innings, 11 hits, 8 runs, 8 walks and 7 strikeouts. The ERA during that stretch was a very ugly 8.64. Yankee fans have booed him unmercifully.
But Girardi may be seeing signs of getting his closer back. Bruney last two outing have been good. 1.3 inning, 0 runs, 1 hit and no walks and 3 Ks. Bruney struck out Oakland’s Mark Ellis with runners on second and third with one out. Girardi called it the biggest out of the game.
So if Bruney is in fact recovering from his elbow problems he could add to what already is a strong bullpen. Add a healthy Marte to the mix and the Yankees might have their deppest bullpen since the days of Rivera, Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson and Ramiro Mendoza.

Burnett Hurls Yankees To ‘Colorful’ Victory

YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 4


The victory was not a work of art but A.J. Burnett “colored well between the lines.”
Burnett struck out six in seven gritty innings to give the New York Yankees a 6-4 victory over the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday afternoon.
The victory was the Yankees sixth in a row. It also gave the Yankees their second consecutive home sweep after the All-Star Break. They also have now beaten the Orioles 10 consecutive games at Yankee Stadium.
Coupled with the Red Sox fifth consecutive loss, a 3-1 defeat to the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, the Yankees now enjoy a very comfortable two-game lead in the American League East.
But between getting from point A to point B, Burnett and the Yankees had a strange afternoon in recording that victory. It all started in the bottom of the first inning with the Yankees facing Orioles rookie Jason Berken for the first time.
The Yankees batted around, scoring four runs on five hits and a walk. Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single, Robinson Cano had an RBI infield single and Nick Swisher started his roller coaster afternoon with a two-run single to cap off the inning.
It looked as if Berken was about done before he started. But that is another odd story.
Burnett pitched into and out of trouble all afternoon. He gave up six hits, three walks, uncorked another of American League-leading wild pitches but never broke in maintaining the lead. The Orioles left seven men on base in the first four innings and Swisher was Burnett’s tormentor and savior all within the third inning.
Leading off the third, Brian Roberts lined a ball to Swisher in righfield and it inexcusably clanked off his glove for a two-base error. After a bullet single to right by Adam Jones, the Orioles had men on first and third with nobody out.
Burnett then tried to work some magic. He induced Nick Markakis into a fly ball to shallow left that Roberts could not score on. Burnett then fanned Aubrey Huff.
Then Burnett went to work on Ty Wigginton. Failing to strike him out on a 2-2 pitch that was called a ball and not wanting to walk the bases loaded, Burnett laid a full-count fastball over the plate and Wigginton lined it to deep rightfield.
Swisher, who had gotten Burnett into the mess to begin with, came up with an amazing over the shoulder catch just before he cleated up the rightfield wall Bo Jackson style and preserved the shutout. Burnett greeted Swisher joyfully as he returned to the Yankee dugout.
“I threw out a ‘Dumb and Dumber’ line,” Burnett told MLB.com of his ensuing chat with Swisher. “I said, ‘Then you do something like that and totally redeem yourself.'”

“I was just happy it actually went in my glove,” Swisher told MLB.com. “I was like, ‘Wow, OK, maybe I still can catch it, which is nice.'”
There was to be even further redemption for Swisher in the fifth when Luke Scott lofted a fly ball to deep right that appeared to be close to a home run or a double off the wall. Swisher drifted back, timed his leap and caught it at the top of wall to save Burnett further damage.
Meanwhile the Yankees offense had added a solo run off Berken in the third inning on a Jorge Posada’s 12th home run of the season, a line-drive that landed in the Yankees bullpen in right-center. 
Yep, Berken was ripe for the taking and he was now down 5-0.
But something odd happened, Berken started recording outs and the Yankees stopped taking him deep into counts. From the second inning to the sixth inning, the Yankees had two hits, including Posada’s home run. The Yankees mounted no serious threat and Berken threw just 58 pitches in those innings after throwing 31 in the first inning.
Then Burnett’s string of good luck ran out in the seventh inning. 
No. 9 hitter Robert Andino started the inning off by a bouncing a ball so hard off the plate that he was able reach first without a throw before it came down to Posada. After one out, Jones cue-balled a double right down the third-base line. 
Markakis followed by a lifting a fly ball to moderately deep center that scored Andino and allowed Jones to get to third. Burnett then ended the inning with a strike out of Aubrey Huff but the problem was Burnett uncorked his wild pitch that eluded Posada. So Huff reached first and Jones scored to make it 5-2.
But Joe Girardi had a plan. It was a simple one: Use the bullpen which has been so great since the early June. Phil Hughes pitched a scoreless eighth and the Yankees had Mariano Rivera warming to pitch the ninth. 
The Yankees did manage to add a run in the bottom of the eighth inning off Orioles lefty George Sherrill. A-Rod opened the inning with a single and he later stole his fifth base of the season on five attempts. After Hideki Matsui struck out, Posada doubled to the gap in left and Rodriguez scored to give the Yankees a 6-2 cushion.
Girardi had Rivera sit down as struggling reliever Brian Bruney got loose. Little did the Yankees know just how loose.
Bruney had an eventful inning. He came out breathing fire and knocked the bats out the hands of the Orioles first two hitters: Andino and Roberts. He struck them out swinging at pure heat. But perhaps Bruney was throwing “too hard.”
Bruney then gave up two solo home runs to Jones and Markakis within three pitches.
Exit Bruney. Enter Rivera, who restored order by striking out Huff looking for his 28th save. So it was not the prettiest of victories. But the six-game winning streak?
“That’s six pretty good games right there,” Swisher said to MLB.com.
But Burnett, Swisher and the Yankees did add color within the lines to go a season-high 20 games over .500, the second-best record in the major leagues and the best in the American League. Winning is now becoming a habit.
“We’ve been much better at it [winning], that’s for sure,” Girardi said. “It has been very professional the way these guys have gone about their business. And that’s what you want. Every day, you come in and you expect to win. When you don’t win, you’re upset and you’re shocked. And I sense that about this club.”
The Yankees will attempt to keep their streak alive when the invite in the Oakland Athletics to Yankee Stadium for a four-game set. Yankees ace lefty CC Sabathia (9-6, 3.66 ERA) will start the series Thursday. Sabathia is coming off a very good outing against the Detroit Tigers and their ace Justin Verlander. He pitched seven scoreless innings for his eighth victory in 11 decisions in a 2-1 Yankee victory.
Opposing Sabathia will be A’s righty Vin Mazzaro (2-6, 4.09 ERA), who is coming off a really awful performance against the Los Angeles Angels. The rookie gave up eight runs on 10 hits in three-plus innings. However, Oakland fielders committed four errors so only four of the runs were earned. Mazzaro is also winless in his last seven starts. This is the first time he will be facing the Yankees.
Gametime is 7:05 p.m. EDT.

Halos Bedevil Yankees Again

ANGELS 10, YANKEES 6


Suggestion to Joe Girardi: Petition Major League Baseball to play the Los Angeles Angels in Boston Red Sox uniforms.
It is obvious that the Yankees road grays are not working at Angel Stadium as they lost another game on Friday night 10-6 to a team with it No. 3 and No. 4 hitters just placed on the disabled list.
The Angels seem to play in some alternate universe where Gold Glove infielders make bad throws and drop easy popups and No. 9 hitters hit three-run home runs.
At the very center of it all was Yankees starter Joba Chamberlain, who was handed a 3-0 lead before he threw pitch and he was on the mound in the fifth inning with a 5-1 lead when it all started for fall apart.
In his last three starts, Chamberlain has pitched 13 1/3 innings, given up 16 runs (10 earned) on 27 hits and five walks. His “Halo House of Horrors” fifth inning last night let the Angels back into the game and left the Yankees offense with an impossible task of catching up.
“It’s frustrating — I’m letting my teammates down,” Chamberlain told MLB.com. “It’s kind of embarrassing, too. At the end of the day, we’ve got the second half to get better and I still can’t change the past. I can learn from it and just continue to grow.”

Yankee nemesis Chone Figgins hit a bloop single to left to start the inning. He later stole second and, after one out, he scored on former Yankee Bobby Abreu’s single to left. Abreu then stole second. But as bad as Chamberlain was Friday he had some help from Alex Rodriguez.
Juan Rivera followed with a routine grounder to Rodriguez but Rodriguez threw the ball up the first base line and pulled Mark Teixeira off the bag. Giradi went to the mound with a message for Chamberlain: not to think about the bad defense behind him.

“Get the hitter,” Girardi said he told Chamberlain. “Let’s make sure we concentrate on the hitter and not get caught up with anything else. He left a curveball up and he hit it out of the park.”

Kendry Morales hit the hanging curve to dead centerfield for a three-run home run and the Yankees lead was gone. So was Joba three pitches later after Mike Napoli doubled after Chamberlain fell behind in the count 2-0.
Girardi called on Mark Melancon, who was just summoned from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre to help an overtaxed bullpen. Melancon did manage to get the Yankees out of the fifth but he immediately ran into trouble in the sixth.
A bloop single by Erick Aybar started the inning. Figgins followed with a triple to rightfield to score Aybar. After one out, Abreu singled in Figgins and it was 7-5.
Melancon did induce a double play to get out of the sixth but even more horrors awaited him and Yankees in the bottom of the seventh after the Yankees had pulled a run closer at 7-6.
With one out in the seventh, Napoli popped up to shallow left-center. Derek Jeter was camped under it and it looked like an easy out No 2. But the ball hit off the heel of Jeter’s glove and dropped to the ground for a very embarrassing error.
That error would prove as costly as A-Rod’s.
After Melancon got Gary Matthews Jr. on a groundout, Girardi decided to go to the bullpen for struggling righthander Brian Bruney. Perhaps it was a chance for Bruney to rebuild his confidence after three horrible outings in his last four appearances (4 innings, 8 hits, 4 walks and 5 earned runs for an ERA of 11.25).
Well, if Girardi was trying to boost Bruney’s confidence, it did not work in Anaheim.
Bruney walked — on four straight pitches — Jeff Mathis, who entered the game hitting .198. Aybar followed with a three-run home run that barely made the seats down the rightfield line. The Angles now led 10-6.
“I don’t know how to fix it — I’m trying,” Bruney told MLB.com. “It’s the same thing I say every time. It’s baseball — I don’t try to give up runs, I don’t try to give up hits, I don’t try to walk people. I’m doing my best every time out there, but it’s just not working.”
The Yankees did have a great chance to come back with two out in the seventh inning after Melky Cabrera had singled a run to draw the Yankees to within a run, 7-6. Girardi sent up Jorge Posada to face reliever Kevin Jepsen. 
Jepsen walked Posada to load the bases and Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in lefty Darren Oliver to face pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui. Matsui hit a hanging breaking pitch and drove it to deep rightfield. But it was caught on the short warning track by Abreu to ended the threat.
In this alternate Angel universe Yankees drives are caught and Angel fly balls reach the seats. This to a team that just placed star outfielders Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter on the 15-day disabled list. The Yankees have now lost 15 of their last 20 games in Anaheim. 
The loss, coupled with the Boston Red Sox 1-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals, dropped the Yankees back into second place in the American League East. They are a game in back of the Red Sox.
They will try to battle the “Angels in the Outfield” again this afternoon in a nationally televised game by FOX. Andy Pettitte (8-4, 4.53 ERA) will try to improve upon his last start against the Blue Jays. He gave up six runs and issued five walks in six innings. 
His mound opponent is Jered Weaver (9-3, 3.15 ERA) went seven innings and gave up four runs (three earned) and fanned nine batters as the Angels beat the Rangers on Monday. Weaver is 3-1 against the Yankees but his ERA is 6.11 in five career starts.
Gametime is 4:10 p.m. EDT.

Melkman Delivers Sixth Straight Victory

YANKEES 8, MARINERS 5


It is looking like a bad idea to pitch to Melky Cabrera with the game on the line.
Cabrera singled in the tie-breaking run in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the New York Yankees their sixth victory in a row, an 8-5 nail-biter over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
Cabrera also bailed out reliever Brian Bruney, who entered the eighth inning with a two-run lead and promptly coughed it up, stunning 46,181 fans at Yankees Stadium.
But the Yankees went to work in the bottom of the eighth off reliever Sean White (2-1). Hideki Matsui greeted him with a ringing double to right-center. Nick Swisher then attempted to bunt pinch-runner Brett Gardner to third but placed it so perfectly White could not make a throw to first.
Cabrera then lined White’s first offering to him into right-center for a double to score Gardner, his third RBI of the game. Cabrera now has the most game-winning hits for the Yankees this season, most of them coming in the eighth and ninth innings.
“Melky’s had some big hits all year,” Alex Rodriguez told MLB.com. “He’s really worked hard to put himself in the position to come through for us.”

Bruney’s troubles, however, loomed over the Yankees clubhouse after the game. In three of Bruney’s last four appearances he has not been as sharp as he was in April before he injured his right elbow.
On June 24 against the Braves he sandwiched two walks between two outs trying to protect a 6-3 lead. But he gave a single to Jeff Francouer that scored a run and forced manager Joe Girardi to summon closer Mariano Rivera for a four-out save, which he did by fanning all four batters he faced.
On Sunday night Bruney started the eighth with a slim 3-2 margin. Bruney again walked two batters while getting two outs. Girardi again called in Rivera to pick up a four-out save, which he did to record his 500th save.
On Tuesday it was more of the same for Bruney. Rodriguez had just staked the Yankees to a 5-3 margin in the seventh with a two-run rocket off Chris Jakubauskas that may still be traveling in the Bronx.
Bruney gave up a opposite field bloop single by Franklin Gutierrez, a single to left by Chris Woodward and Kenji Johjima pulled a 1-0 inside fastball down the line to drive in Gutierrez. After a Ronny Cedeno sacrifice put runners at second and third, Girardi had Bruney walk Ichiro Suzuki intentionally to load the bases.
However, Bruney could not prevent Russell Branyan from lofting a fly ball to left to score Woodward and knot the game at 5.
Questions about Bruney abounded the Yankees clubhouse, especially since Phil Hughes pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning on just nine pitches.
Girardi said that even with Hughes impressive stint in the bullpen Bruney will remain in his role.
“Bruney’s our eighth-inning guy,” Girardi told MLB.com. “We need to get Bruney going, there’s no doubt about it. We expect big innings out of him, and he’s done it before. He was doing it early in the year. He’s had an injury, and he’s been shut down for a while, and we have to get him going.”

Cabrera’s heroics spared Bruney (3-0) and the rally gave the 26-year-old righthander, what he might even agree, was the most undeserved victory of the year. Rivera pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 19th save of the season and the 501st of his career.
Rivera also had the distinction of the throwing the first and the final pitches of the game. He was asked to throw the first pitch by the Yankees to commemorate his 500th save he earned Sunday night at Citi Field against the New York Mets.
Cabrera had given the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the second inning after two Woodward errors at third base brought in the Yankees first run. Cabrera lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Jorge Posada.
After the Mariners touched Joba Chamberlain for a run in the third on backup infielder Ronny’s Cedeno home run rope to leftfield seats, Cabrera stepped up again the following inning by hitting a slow roller fielder’s choice to Russell Branyan that scored Robinson Cano to make it 3-1.
However, Chamberlain was roughed up for two more runs in the third inning and the Yankees were tied at 3.
“There’s going to be days when you don’t have the greatest stuff,” Chamberlain said. “You’ve got to go out and compete and keep your team in the game, whether you’ve got your good stuff or you don’t.”

Chamberlain went 5 1/3 innings, gave up 9 hits and three walks and three runs. He struck out batters. Though Chamberlain has pitched less than 6 innings in all but three starts, the Yankees are 10-5 in those starts.
The victory was big because it allowed the Yankees to gain a game on their rivals, the Boston Red Sox, in the American League East. The Red Sox blew a lead of 10-1 that had in the seventh inning to lose to the last-place Baltimore Orioles 11-10. The Yankees are now two games behind the bewildered Bosox.
Wednesday night’s contest against the Mariners will feature a battle of crafty veteran lefties. The M’s will send Jarrod Washburn (4-5, 3.22 ERA) to the mound to oppose Andy Pettitte (7-3, 4.38 ERA).
Washburn snapped a 12-game winless streak his last time out with six solid innings in a 9-3 victory over the San Diego Padres. Pettitte, meanwhile, would like to forget his last outing. He was unable to protect an 8-1 lead against the Braves and had to be removed after just 3 2/3 innings.
Gametine is 7:05 p.m. EDT.
NOTES . . . The Yankees added to their ben
ch by acquiring Eric Hinske from the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for two minor-league players. Hinske, 31, was hitting .255 with a homer and 11 RBIs in 54 games. He adds a lefthanded bat and he can both corner infield and outfield spots. But, Hinske, the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year, will primarily spell Alex Rodriguez at third base when Rodriguez is asked to rest his surgically repaired hip. Hinske as a pinch-hitter this season is 8 for 24 (.333) with five walks. The two minor leaguers the Yankees traded were righthand pitcher Casey Erickson and outfielder Eric Fryer. Erickson , 23, was 3-3 with a 2.25 ERA (mostly in relief) at with Class A Charleston in the Sally League. Fryer, 23, was hitting .250 at Class A Tampa in the Florida State League . . . MLB announced that Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis has retaken a lead over Mark Teixeira to start in the 2009 All-Star Game. Youkilis leads Teixeira by just over 40,000 with two days left in the balloting . . . Derek Jeter leads in the balloting at shortstop by a wide margin over Jason Bartlett of the Rays. Jeter leads all AL vote-getters with more than 2.5 million votes.

Ump Ends Yanks Slump

YANKEES 8, BRAVES 4


Thanks to a blown call by first base umpire Bill Welke on Tuesday night, the slumbering bats of the New York Yankees were finally awoken.
That was bad news for the Atlanta Braves, who would up on the wrong end of an 8-4 score at Turner Field.
The Yankees were tending to their usual business in the top of the sixth inning. That business was recording out after out with nary a baserunner — something they have become quite good at in dropping nine of their past 13 games.
In this one they even went three up and three down in five consecutive innings despite the fact they had knocked — literally —  the Braves starting pitcher out after three innings. No matter, the relief pitcher with the ERA of 5.91 would keep them hitless for two more innings.
Enter Brett Gardner. He actually coaxed a walk out of Braves reliever Kris Medlen, who came on after Yankees starting pitcher Joba Chamberlain lined a shot off Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami’s neck in the third inning.
Gardner was safe on Medlen’s first pickoff attempt and actually — as replays clearly showed afterward — he was safe on his second. But Welke called Gardner out, much to his dismay. Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided that the Yankees have so few baserunners that he should defend the ones that actually are safe.
Welke promptly dismissed Mr. Girardi from the game. But while Girardi might have been angry about the misfortune of the bad call and his team’s plight, he had to be happy of what happened after that.
In the next four innings the Yankees scored eight runs on 10 hits as the Yankees stunned the Braves. The Braves had no idea the passive, flailing hitters of the Yankees could turn so quickly and bite.
“If they’re going to score eight runs after I get ejected, I’ll take the lineup card out tomorrow,” Girardi said to MLB.com, grinning.
No sooner had Girardi left the field tossing out expletives than Francisco Cervelli touched Medlen for his first major-league home run that just cleared the wall in left-center. In one at-bat the Yankees had ended the no-hitter, broke up the shutout and tied the score.
“It’s good for us — they threw the manager out, so we have to do something for him,” Cervelli told MLB.com.
Yankees fans must now send a sincere thank you to Welke for calling Gardner out.
After Chamberlain hit a soft liner to second baseman Kelly Johnson for the first out, the Captain, Derek Jeter, jump-started the offense again with a single. Johnny Damon followed with a bloop single to center. Medlen then decided to walk Mark Teixeira in order to pitch to the ice cold Alex Rodriguez with the bases loaded.
Rodriguez, who seemingly is 0-for-June and whose average had dipped to .207 at the start of the game, made Medlen and the Braves pay for that decision. Down in the count 0-2, A-Rod singled to right-center to plate two runs.
“It was big for me, and it was big for the team,” Rodriguez said to MLB.com. “We needed to break through there  . . . The important thing was that we came to play and we came to win for nine innings.”
The Yankees pop-gun offense finally may have its howitzer back.
Chamberlain (4-2) took it from there, going 6 1/3 innings, giving up seven hits, no walks and two runs — one of those unearned. In his last start, he also gave up three runs in a game against the Washington Nationals. But he lost the game 3-0 because the Yankees could not score.
Other than giving up a solo home run to Jeff Francouer to open the fifth inning and high throw on a bunt by Johnson in the seventh inning that led to two runs, Chamberlain dominated the Braves with his fastball and hammered them with his slider.
“Every outing, no matter good or bad, you’ve got to take a lot from each of them,” Chamberlain told MLB.com. “My last few, I’ve been able to take my aggressiveness as far as being able to throw my fastball. That makes my other pitches that much better.”
Mariano Rivera rescued a rusty and shaky Brian Bruney (one hit, two walks and a run in two-thirds of an inning) to strike out all four men in faced to notch his 16th save of the season and the 498th of his career.
Rivera even got a rare chance to bat in the top of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and two out. He also nearly put some real icing on the cake with line shot that Nate McLouth caught in center field to end the inning.
Damon led the Yankees offense with three hits and an RBI. Teixeira added two hits and an RBI and Nick Swisher homered (13th of the season) and drove in two runs.
“Sometimes it just takes one guy getting a hit with runners in scoring position to change what your club is doing,” Girardi said.
Kawakami, who was perfect through three innings, suffered only a bruise on the left side of his neck, the Braves said after the game. They could only wonder what Kawakami might have done had he been able to stay in the game.
But the Yankees are not giving this victory back. This is the first time since they chased Johan Santana with nine runs in three-plus innings in a 15-0 rout of the New York Mets on June 14 that the Yankees had scored 8 runs in a game. 
In the seven games after that 15-0 game, the Yankees scored a total of just 18 runs and were shut out twice. Seemingly every Yankee hitter was in a slump and no Yankee was able to get a hit with runners in scoring position.
In fact in Tuesday night’s 4-0 loss to the Braves, the Yankees stranded 10 baserunners over five innings, leaving the bases loaded twice.
Thanks to Welke’s bad call that angered Girardi enough to get ejected, those sleeping bats appear to have awoken.  Good thing too.
The Boston Red Sox had won their game to maintain their 5-game lead over the Yankees. The Blue Jays also won. A Yankee loss would have allowed the Blue Jays to take second place. Instead, the Yankees remain in a virtual tie with Toronto.
In the rubber match between the Yankees and Braves Thursday night, the Yankees will send veteran lefty Andy Pettitte (7-3, 4.26 ERA) to face former Boston Red Sox sinkerballer Derek Lowe (7-5, 4.09 ERA). Lowe’s start will break a string of nine consecutive pitchers who the Yankees faced for the first time. The Yankees lost six of those games.
Gametime is 7:10 p.m. EDT.
NOTES . . . Before the game the Yankees reinstated infielder Cody Ransom from the disabled list and designated veteran infielder Angel Berroa for assignment. Ransom started 15 games for Yankees at third base to replace A-Rod, who was recovering from a hip injury. But Ransom su
ffered a serious right quadriceps injury running the bases at Fenway Park on April 24. Ransom struggled in his bid to fill in for A-Rod, hitting just .180. Ransom, who is capable of playing second, third and shortstop will fill in off the bench at all three positions, Girardi said. Berroa. the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year, batted .136 in 21 games with the Yankees after being called up from Triple A to replace Ransom . . . General Manager Brian Cashman actually flew from New York to join the team at Turner Field. He had a closed-door meeting with Girardi. Cashman said he is in Atlanta to help get the Yankees “back on track.” Cashman told MLB.com: “We’re struggling right now, mostly with the bats. It’s not going to last, I promise you that. We’re too good for it to last. The last three weeks of poor play is mostly to do with our offense. We’ve got to get our offense going. We’re pitching real well, but unfortunately, we’re letting that good pitching go to waste.” Cashman also gave a vote of confidence in Girardi and batting coach Kevin Long. “I’m not here to send any messages other than that we’re here to fix problems,” Cashman said.

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