Results tagged ‘ Justin Smoak ’

Cano’s Temper Leads To Sad Departure To Seattle

Some Yankee fans got together and attempted to ship some baby pacifiers to Robinson Cano. How appropriate!

Temper, temper, Robbie! Tsk! Tsk!

Cano, 31, as you all know by now, got pissed off when the Yankees offered outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury an eight-year, $169 million contract and took his bats and gloves and run off to the Great Northwest for a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners.

Hope you did not let the clubhouse door hit you in the rump on the way out, Robinson.

To be clear, it is a shame that a marvelously talented player like Cano has decided to leave the Yankees. He was the best player on the team the past two seasons and his durability was welcome in a disastrous 2013 season that saw the Yankee roster look, at times, like an Independent League All-Star team.

Cano also had a point in looking at Ellsbury’s career statistics compared to his own and conclude that the Yankees were “low-balling” their monetary offer to him. They never really budged off the $175 million they were offering.

But after the excessive deals offered to Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols and Carl Crawford over recent seasons, teams are learning that mega-year contracts for boatloads of cash is not a wise idea. A-Rod has been playing on reputation alone for the past three seasons. Pujols is a walking physical wreck and Crawford is one of the worst fiscal mistakes the Boston Red Sox ever made.

If Cano and his agent Jay-Z had been realistic in the first place with their opening offer it would have been smoother sailing. But they sought $305 million, which would have been a record contract. No team was willing to shell out that much cash for Cano and he had to know it.

Once the Yankees zeroed in on seven years at $165 million the gauntlet was laid. But the chief rivals for Cano, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Detroit Tigers stepped out of the process.

The Dodgers signed Cuban star Alexander Guerrero to play second and the Tigers traded slugging first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers in exchange for All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman felt he was in the catbird seat at that point because Cano, at the time, had no other offers. Overtures by Cano’s people made to the New York Mets were turned aside so Cano and his agents came back to the Yankees and lowered their demands to $240 million.

The Yankees, appreciative of the semblance of reality, still were not too keen on extending the contract past eight years and, with no other bidder in sight, they smartly held the line at about $175 million.

The whole situation blew up after ongoing talks by the Yankees with free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran had broken down. The Yankees shifted gears away from Beltran and they signed Ellsbury for a tidy sum. When Cano read about the monetary details he pitched a hissy fit.

Cano’s father, Jose, issued a statement to the effect that the “Yankees were obviously not interested in keeping Robinson.”

That could not be further from the truth. Cashman and the Yankees were hoping that any offer Cano might have received from other teams could be brought back to the Yankees to give them a chance to match or top it. Now $240 million looks to have been a problem but the Yankees could have extended a year and increased the offer to $200 million.

But Cano did not give the Yankees a chance and he had to shop himself to the Mariners to get what he what he was seeking.

Fortunately, Cano had a willing partner in Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, who has made his career on just two things: turning out lousy clubs year after year and miscalculating the value of young prospects he has in his system and ones he has acquired in trades.

Let’s look at the Mariners most recent history.

Since 2004, the Mariners have been a losing franchise. They have been below .500 in all but two seasons and have not finished better than second place in the American League West in any of those years.

After the departures of stars like Ken Griffey Jr., A-Rod, Randy Johnson and manager Lou Piniella at the beginning of the new century this franchise has languished, boasting only outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and right-handed ace Felix Hernandez as true stars.

Zduriencik tried to seed the team with prospects by making trades, such as the 2010 deal he made to trade All-Star left-hander Cliff Lee.

The Yankees thought they had a deal for Lee in place, offering their No. 1 prospect Jesus Montero, right-hander Ivan Nova and second baseman David Adams. But Zduriencik balked at Adams because he was recovering from a severe ankle injury. He asked for shortstop Eduardo Nunez instead.

Cashman said no and Zduriencik turned around and shipped Lee to the Texas Rangers for their top prospect, first baseman Justin Smoak.

Smoak, 27, has been an absolute bust. In 2011, Smoak hit a scintillating .234 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs. In 2012, he floundered like a real flounder at the Pike Street Market.

He hit just .217 with 19 homers and 51 RBIs. Last season he batted .238 with 20 homers and 50 RBIs. A budding Mark Teixeira he’s not.

He is currently listed on the teams 2014 depth chart as a backup to journeyman Logan Morrison, who is a career .249 hitter with a grand total of 42 major-league home runs.

Then there is Zduriencik’s 2012 deal acquiring Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi from the Yankees for right-handers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos.

The Yankees decided to ship out Montero because they had determined he would never become a major-league quality defensive catcher and he would either have to move to another position or become a designated hitter to succeed in the majors.

The Mariners found out the hard way that the Yankees were right. Montero batted .260 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs in 2012, but he started only 55 games as a catcher.

In 2013, Montero not only lost his job as a catcher but he was sent back to the minors after hitting .208 with three home runs and nine RBIs in 29 games. He also suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee that shelved him for most of the season.

Montero, 24, is listed behind Mike Zunino on the team’s depth chart.

This is the team Cano has decided to grace with his presence.

Good luck!

It could be 10 years before Seattle ever gets close to competing with the Oakland Athletics, the Los Angels Angels and the Rangers in the division, much less compete for a playoff spot. Cano does not solve the team’s weak hitting in the outfield and infield, with the exception of third baseman Kyle Seagar.

The pitching with King Felix is competitive enough but the rotation lacks depth and the bullpen is a disaster.

Another point is that over the 10 years of Cano’s contract, a lot of young prospects will be brought up to follow his example. Let’s hope they cover their eyes when Cano raps a easy grounder to an infielder, who boots the ball but still nails him because Cano was loafing out of the batter’s box.

Let’s also hope they are not watching when he drops the bat at the plate thinking he has a home run and gets tossed out at second base because he did not run hard. That is a Cano trademark that manager Joe Girardi played off casually to the media but it chafed his chestnuts to the core.

Speaking of home runs. Robinson, you won’t be hitting as many of those in spacious Safeco Field. Your home run totals should drop back to the 20 to 25 mark or so because you line most of your shots.

You can also kiss goodbye having your number retired in Monument Park. That would have made you the first Dominican so honored. You also will not pass some the greats of the game on the franchise’s offensive categories list. You also will miss out on the division tiles, playoff games and championship rings. Lucky you got that 2009 ring squirreled away. That will be the only one you get.

It is shame you let your temper get the better of your good judgment.

Now you will be booed when you come to Yankee Stadium on April 29 with the rest of the no-name band you are hanging with these days. That is a shame, also.

You were a magnificent player and you really were a benefit to the Yankees with your skills as a hitter and a fielder. Those skills will be wasted in losing efforts much like the 2013 season you suffered through.

But you still can count your precious money after the game. Enjoy it because it obviously means more to you than winning.

Adios, amigo!

 

Yankees Sink Mariners After ‘King Felix’ Exits Early

GAME 39

YANKEES 4, MARINERS 3

The epic showdown between former American League Cy Young Award winners Felix Hernandez and CC Sabathia on Tuesday may have ended in what could be scored a draw. But the New York Yankees ended up victorious by virtue of a technical knockout of Hernandez.

Trailing 3-1 when “King Felix” abdicated the mound, New York rallied for three runs in the seventh inning off the Mariners’ bullpen to defeat Seattle in front of a paid crowd of 41,267 at Yankee Stadium.

Reliever Shawn Kelley (2-0) bailed Sabathia out of a jam in the top of the seventh with runners on first and third and one out by striking out Kelly Shoppach and retiring former Yankees’ 2012 playoffs legend Raul Ibanez on a flyout to get credit for the victory.

Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his 624th career save and his 16th save in as many chances this season.

Mariners left-hander Charlie Furbush (0-2) was saddled with the loss.

Lyle Overbay, who in some way “caused” Hernandez to leave the game, and Robinson Cano keyed the crucial rally in the seventh.

Chris Nelson led off the frame with a bloop single to center off right-hander Yoervis Medina and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Austin Romine struck out swinging, Mariners manager Eric Wedge summoned Furbush.

Brett Gardner drew a walk and Cano followed by lacing a 3-2 slider off the base of the wall in right-center to score Nelson and Gardner to tie the game at 3-3.

Wedge elected to have Furbush walk Vernon Wells intentionally but Furbush also ended up walking Curtis Granderson  –  who was activated from the 15-day disabled list and was playing in his first game of the season  –  to load the bases.

That brought up Overbay, who had stroked a two-out double off Hernandez in the sixth to plate the Yankees’ first run of the night. After working the count to 3-2, Overbay laced a line drive to deep center that easily scored Cano with what proved to be the game-winning run.

Hernandez had been in control against the Yankees much of the night. However, a misplay by Hernandez that led to a collision with Overbay in the fourth inning doomed him.

With one out and Wells on first, Overbay hit a bouncer that just eluded a dive by first baseman Kendrys Morales but the ball was gloved by second baseman Robert Andino, who double-clutched and threw to Morales at first base. However, Hernandez also came over to cover first and was standing in the baseline behind Morales when Overbay collided with him, striking the back of Hernandez’s left knee.

Though first-base umpire Alan Porter originally called Overbay out, the umpiring crew discussed the play, ruled Hernandez was guilty of obstruction and awarded first base to Overbay.

Hernandez noticeably limped and stretched out his back throughout the rest of his outing until he was removed after six innings. The 27-year-old ace yielded one run on five hits and two walks while he punched out eight batters.

The Mariners, meanwhile were able to build a 3-0 lead on Sabathia.

They scored an unearned run in the third when, with one out ,Overbay committed a fielding error on a ball off the bat of Michael Saunders. One out later, Kyle Seager ripped a double to the wall in right-center to score Saunders.

They padded their lead in the sixth when Shoppach slapped a first-pitch single to the opposite field in right and Ibanez, who hit three dramatic late-inning home runs for the Yankees during the 2012 playoffs, showed the fans what they were missing when he roped a two-run home run into the first row of the bleachers in right-field.

Sabathia left in the seventh having given up three runs (two earned) on a season-high 10 hits and two walks but he also fanned season-high 10 in 6 1/3 innings.

With the come-from-behind victory the Yankees are now 8-2 in one-run games this season.

The Yankees have also won seven of their past eight games and they improved their season record to 25-14. They also extended their lead over the second-place Baltimore Orioles to two games in the American League East. The Mariners are now 18-21.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Though Overbay committed his second error of the season and misplayed another ground ball by Ibanez that was ruled a single, his contributions at the plate have been huge all season. He was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and he is hitting .256 with six home runs and 24 RBIs. In fact, his RBI total is only one behind the team leader, Cano, who has 25.
  • Cano came through in the clutch against a left-hander on a night the Yankees ended up 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. Cano was 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs. The two hits pushed his season average back over the .300 mark at .306. He came in hitting .299.
  • Rivera remains perfect in saves this season and he needed only 11 pitches to close out the Mariners in the ninth. The Yankees bullpen trio of Kelley, David Robertson and Rivera held the M’s s off the board over the final 2 2/3 innings to extend the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 23 2/3 innings, which extends back to May 5.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Sabathia did not pitch well in this game. The Mariners had at least one base-runner on in every inning against him except the first inning. In the fourth they loaded the bases with two out, but Sabathia escaped the jam by fanning Saunders swinging.  Sabathia left in the seventh having thrown 112 pitches.
  • Granderson had a rough return to lineup having to face Hernandez. It showed. Granderson grounded into a double play in the first, struck out swinging in the fourth and hit into a fielder’s choice in the sixth. But he did draw a key walk in the seventh against Furbush that set up Overbay’s game-winning sac fly.
  • Romine also had a rough night. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and he is now hitting .071. Romine also misplayed a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Brendan Ryan in the eighth inning. Robertson earlier had walked pinch-hitter Dustin Ackley on four pitches to open the inning. Romine fielded the bunt and tried to throw out Ackley at second instead of taking the sure out at first. But Ackley beat the throw. Robertson escaped the jam by striking out Saunders and retiring pinch-hitter Justin Smoak on an unassisted double-play liner to shortstop Jayson Nix.

BOMBER BANTER

Granderson returned to the lineup since breaking his right forearm on his first at-bat of spring training on Feb. 24 and he batted fourth and played left-field. In order to get Granderson on the 25-man roster the Yankees optioned rookie left-hander Vidal Nuno to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre a day after he won his first major-league game in first major-league start by pitching five shutout innings against the Cleveland Indians.  . . .  It would not be the Yankees if on the same day they get one player back (Granderson) they possibly lost another for a period of time. Designated hitter Travis Hafner, 35, did not play in Tuesday’s game because of tendinitis in his chronic problem right shoulder. An MRI taken on the shoulder was negative but Hafner did receive a cortisone injection for the inflammation. He is listed as day-to-day.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game home set against the Mariners on Wednesday.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (2-2, 4.43 ERA) will get the call for the Yankees. Hughes is coming off his second straight victory, but he gave up six runs on seven hits and two walks while he struck out three against the Kansas City Royals on Friday. Hughes is 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA against the M’s in his career.

Hughes will be opposed by right-hander Hasashi Iwakuma (4-1, 1.74 ERA). Iwakuma, 32, gave up two runs on four hits and punched out nine in seven innings in a victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday. In his two starts against the Bronx Bombers last season he was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Millwood Spoils Pettitte’s Grand Return To Yankees

GAME 34

MARINERS 6, YANKEES 2

On Sunday, a veteran pitcher who had pitched in World Series and had a lot of past glory in the major leagues came out of nowhere and won a game.

Unfortunately, it was not Andy Pettitte.

Kevin Millwood (1-4) pitched seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball and two Mariners who entered the game hitting hitting under .208 hit two-run homers as Seattle spoiled the celebrated return of Pettitte with New York at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees did the 37-year-old journeyman Millwood a big favor by hitting into three double plays and going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Their only two runs in the game came on bases-loaded walks fifth and eighth innings.

Meanwhile, the 39-year-old Pettitte (0-1) matched Millwood zero for zero and had a not allowed a hit until there were two outs in the fourth.

Pettitte walked former Yankee mega-prospect Jesus Montero on a 3-2 pitch and Justin Smoak followed with a line-drive blast into the left-field bleachers for a two-run home run. Smoak entered the series hitting .173 but was 6-for-12 against the Yankees in the three games.

In the sixth inning, Pettitte began showing signs he was tiring after 573 days between his last start in the 2010 playoffs.

Dustin Ackley led off with a single to center and the mighty Casper Wells strolled to the plate. Wells entered the game batting .207 with no home runs and one RBI. He had a career total of 15 major-league home runs.

On a 2-2 offering from Pettitte, Wells swung late to protect the plate and he ended up hitting a ball that quickly was spinning foul into the right-field corner until it struck the foul pole. Wells could not placed it any better if he was standing five feet from the pole and thrown a ball against it.

The partisan Yankee crowd of 41,631 in attendance led out an audible gasp as the ball made an unmistakeable doink sound when it struck the pole.

Pettitte later that inning gave up three consecutive singles that loaded the bases. However, Pettitte induced Mike Carp into hitting a sharp grounder to Mark Teixeira at first . Teixeira stepped on first and fired home to catcher Russell Martin to nail a sliding Montero at home plate for an inning-ending double play.

Pettitte left after recording one out in the seventh inning. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks and struck out two. It was encouraging enough to Pettitte and manager Joe Girardi.

“It felt like I never left,” Pettitte said. “It’s frustrating, and obviously I’m disappointed in getting the loss. The guys gave me a chance to get right back in the game and get me a run, then I go back out and give up a two-run homer. You can’t do that. I got a little careless with a few pitches, and it cost me.”

“I thought he was pretty good,” said Girardi. “You look at the first five innings, and he really only gave up the one hard-hit ball and got a ton of ground-ball outs. He used pretty much all his pitches. And they hit some balls hard in the sixth, but to get us into the seventh inning, that’s pretty good.”

With the loss the Yankees fell to 19-15. The Mariners are 16-20.

 

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • For those who believed Pettitte would embarrass himself on Sunday they owe the left-hander a big apology. Pettitte showed upper 80s velocity and good movement on his pitches throughout his outing. Strength and stamina were going to be issues for him and it showed in the sixth. But this was an encouraging first step and the Yankees just might have an exceptional starting rotation this season. That is bad news to their American League East rivals.
  • The Yankees got runners on base (six hits and six walks) and they should have scored a lot more runs. Give Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez for collecting two hits apiece. Swisher is hitting .275 and Chavez is hitting .316 in a limited bench role.
  • Martin and Robinson Cano deserve credit for having the patience to draw bases-loaded walks. Martin got his from Millwood in the fifth and Cano got his from Charlie Furbush in the eighth. Too bad that was all the damage the Yankees could muster for Pettitte.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • With two on and one out in the third inning, Derek Jeter hit into a inning-ending double play.
  • With the bases loaded and one out after Martin had drawn his walk to bring the Yankees to within a run at 2-1, Jeter hit into another inning-ending double play.
  • With two on and one out in the eighth, Curtis Granderson struck out.
  • With the bases loaded and two out after Cano drew his walk to bring the Yankees to within 6-2, Teixeira struck out with the bases loaded.

Need I say more?

ON DECK

The Yankees open a short four-game road trip with a two-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.02 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. He is coming a two-run, seven inning victory over the Rays on Tuesday. He is 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA in his career against the Orioles.

The Orioles will start ailing right-hander Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.09 ERA), who is nursing a right knee injury. He was scratched from his start on Thursday and he hopes to be able to pitch on Monday. He is 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

For Starters, Hughes Ends Up Besting Mariners

GAME 33

YANKEES 6, MARINERS 2

A few weeks ago it looked like Phil Hughes was headed to the bullpen after he started the season 1-4 with a 7.48 ERA. On Saturday, Hughes looked like he actually belonged in the rotation all along and there is no doubt he is going to stay there for a long time.

Hughes pitched 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball and he got two RBIs apiece from Raul Ibanez and Jayson Nix as New York defeated Seattle at Yankee Stadium for their fifth victory in their last six games.

Hughes (3-4) carried a shutout into the seventh inning until Mike Carp belted a two-out solo home run to center-field. Hughes left with two out in the eighth having given up six hits and one walk and struck out four batters for his second straight victory.

Hughes also continued a trend the rotation started at the beginning of the six-game homestand on Tuesday. The starters since Tuesday are 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA.

Former Yankee Hector Noesi (2-4) gave up five runs on six hits and struck out four over seven innings to take the loss. But he actually pitched much better than his line indicates. He was undone by pair of two-out doubles in the second inning and a pair of home runs.

With Mark Teixiera on second with a double and two outs, Ibanez looped an opposite-field double into the left-field corner to score Teixeira. Russell Martin, who was one for his last 16 at-bats, followed with a double off the wall at the 408-foot mark in center-field to score Ibanez.

Nix then completed the four-run explosion with an opposite-field fly ball into right that landed in the first row of the bleachers for Nix’s first home run with the Yankees.

On Friday, Nix learned that when Eric Chavez was activated from the seven-day disabled list it would be Eduardo Nunez sent to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre and not him. Manager Joe Girardi then decided to start Nix at shortstop on Saturday in order to give Derek Jeter a rest from the field by utilizing him as the designated hitter.

Ibanez continued his hot hitting in the fourth inning when he slammed a high and outside 3-2 fastball into the monuments in center-field for his seventh home run of the season.

Ibanez hit a three-run home run off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez on Friday that led the Yankees to a victory by the same 6-2 score. Since May 5, Ibanez is 9-for-22 (.409) with four home runs and nine RBIs.

Boone Logan pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and he picked up his second major league save – his first since he was pitching for the Chicago White Sox as a rookie in 2006. Logan, however, did give up a run in the ninth inning when Carp followed a one-out single by Kyle Seager with a hit that originally was ruled a home run to right. but the umpires used television replays to reverse the call to a double that scored Seager.

Logan struck out the next two batters to preserve the victory for Hughes and the Yankees.

With the victory, the Yankees improved to 19-14. The Mariners dipped to 15-20.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Hughes has managed to remake himself as a starter. He has basically junked his cutter and he is using his change-up more sparingly, which means he using his fastball and curve more. The results in his last two starts show it is working. Hughes has given up four runs on 12 hits and two walks and he has struck out 11 in 14 1/3 innings over his last two starts. That is an ERA of 2.51 and a WHIP of  0.98.
  • Ibanez could not be any hotter if he poured gasoline over himself and lit a match. From primarily the seventh spot in the batting order Ibanez is hitting .282 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. He also is making life miserable for good right-handers like James Shields and Hernandez, who are looking for a soft spot in the Yankees’ batting order and they are not finding it in Ibanez.
  • Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an opposite-field RBI single off reliever Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth inning to give the Yankees a 6-1 lead. Cano is hitting .429 over that span.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Curtis Granderson had a bad day at the office. He was 0-for-4 with two weak infield rollers to first and two strikeouts. Though Granderson is hitting .264 with 11 home runs and  20 RBIs, he also has struck out a team-leading 37 times in 129 at-bats. That is a pace just over one out of every four at-bats.
  • Cano had an uncharacteristically bad moment in the field in the third inning. With one out and Justin Smoak on first, Munenori Kawasaki lofted a fly ball in shallow right. Cano tracked the ball and then stopped at the last moment, allowing the ball to drop a few feet behind him. Right-fielder Nick Swisher, however, bailed Cano out with a quick throw to second that beat Smoak to the bag for a rare 9-4 fielder’s choice putout.
  • Alex Rodriguez also had a bad day at the plate. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. It snapped his five-game hitting streak and lowered his season average to .287. A-Rod came into the contest hitting .406 in his previous nine games.

BOMBER BANTER

On Saturday, the Yankees honored legendary catcher Yogi Berra on his 87th birthday with a ceremony before the game. Berra was presented with a cake and former Yankee left-hander Ron Guidry drove Berra in a cart around the stadium so he could be saluted by the 43,954 people in attendance.  . . .  Though it was not much of a secret, Girardi announced on Saturday that rookie David Phelps would return to the bullpen as a long reliever. Phelps was 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in his two starts. But he did not make it out of the fifth inning in either appearance.  . . .  The Yankees announced on Saturday they they have claimed left-handed reliever Justin Thomas off waivers from the Boston Red Sox. Thomas has posted a 7.71 ERA in 4 2/3 innings with the Red Sox. He was designated for assignment on Thursday. The Yankees will send Thomas, 28, to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

ON DECK

Because of the significance of Sunday’s game, this regular blog feature will be expanded into a complete report which will follow shortly.

 

Yankees Trade Montero, Land Pineda And Kuroda

One axiom of Major League Baseball is pitching comes at a very steep price.

Yankee fans found just how steep on Friday when general manager Brian Cashman swung a pair of deals that netted the Yankees two starting pitchers and a very good pitching prospect and it cost them their No. 1 prospect and potential Rookie of the Year in Jesus Montero and right-handed starter Hector Noesi.

Though the trade is not official, the Yankees apparently have agreed to ship off Montero and Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for 23-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda and and 19-year-old right-hander Jose Campos.

Right after the rumor of that deal surfaced, the YES Network reported that the Yankees reached agreement on a one-year, $10 million contract with 37-year-old free-agent left-hander Hiroki Kuroda.

Pineda burst upon the baseball landscape when he emerged as dominant starter during spring training in 2011. In five games (four starts), Pineda had no record but had a 2.12 ERA and struck out 14 batters in 17 innings, which earned him a ticket to begin his rookie season as the Mariners’ No. 2 starter behind “King” Felix Hernandez.

Pineda got off to a marvelous start, too. Pitching for perhaps baseball’s weakest offense, Pineda was 6-2 with a 2.30 ERA after his first 11 starts as of June 1. He was so impressive he was selected to pitch for the American League in the 2011 All-Star Game.

However, the combination poor offensive support and a heavy workload of innings combined to trip up Pineda in the second half. In his final 11 starts, the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Pineda went 2-8 with a 4.74 ERA.

For the season, Pineda was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and struck out 173 batters in 171 innings pitched. He only walked 55 batters and ended the season with a WHIP of 1.10. He was generally considered as second to only the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson among rookie starters with the Yankees’ Ivan Nova very a close third.

If the trade is completed, Pineda will join the 24-year-old Nova in the Yankees’ 2012 rotation.

Campos is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander from Venezuela was 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA in 14 starts with the Mariners’ Class-A Everett team. Campos struck out 85 batters while walking only 13 in 81 innings last season and he is considered one of the best young pitching prospects in the Mariners’ system.

As ardent Yankee fans know, the Mariners were offered Montero and Nova two seasons ago in exchange for left-hander Cliff Lee. But Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik got very greedy and tried to push Cashman into including shortstop Eduardo Nunez in the deal and Cashman balked. The Mariners then shipped Lee to the Texas Rangers in a package that included first baseman Justin Smoak.

Montero was slated to be the Yankees’ primary designated hitter and a backup catcher in 2012 after he burst upon the scene in a September callup and hit .328 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 61 at-bats. Montero’s power and hitting drew comparisons from scouts to the likes of Mike Piazza and Manny Ramirez.

The doubts about Montero surrounded the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder’s ability to become good enough to be even a passable defensive catcher. Some scouts feel his long-term future was as a DH or first baseman.

Noesi had been a starter throughout his career with the Yankees but spent his rookie season in 2011 pitching mostly in the bullpen. Noesi was 2-2 with a 4.47 ERA over 56 1/3 innings in 30 games (two starts). The Yankees had maintained that Noesi was going to be strictly a starter this season. If he did not make the starting rotation this spring he was slated to pitch at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

If the deal is finalized, Noesi would join Hernandez, Jose Vargas and youngsters Charlie Furbush and Blake Beavan as starters for the Mariners.

With the signing of Kuroda, the Yankees have ended more than two-month search for pitchers to bolster their rotation. Just this week the Yankees opted not to sign free-agent right-hander Edwin Jackson, whose agent Scott Boras was seeking a four-year, $60 million contract that the Yankees believed was too pricey.

Kuroda, 37, was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA and he recorded 161 strikeouts in 202 innings over 32 starts last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Osaka, Japan is 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in his four seasons in the major leagues, all with the Dodgers.

With the addition of Pineda and Kuroda the Yankees are now overloaded with seven potential starting pitchers.

Pineda and Kuroda will slot in the rotation behind ace left-hander CC Sabathia. Nova, who was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in his rookie season, would seem to have the inside track on a spot. Phil Hughes, who was 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 2010 but was hampered with a right shoulder injury last season, would be the odds-on favorite to win the fifth spot if he is healthy this spring.

That leaves 35-year-old right-handers A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia in a very tenuous position.

Burnett suffered through his second straight subpar season, recording a mark of 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA. Burnett’s wildness and lack of command does not lend itself well to the bullpen and he still has two years and $33 million owed on a five-year contract he signed with the Yankees in 2009. The Yankees have offered to pay $7 million of Burnett’s contract to any team willing to take them off their hands but they have received no takers.

Garcia was signed last season as a free agent and he was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA over 26 appearances (25 starts). The Yankees re-signed him for $4 million in December and he now looks to be an insurance policy against an injury to any of the starters before the season starts. He likely will end up in the bullpen as a long reliever and spot starter.

The trade and the free-agent signing also would allow the Yankees to keep all five of their best pitching prospects – Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, D.J. Mitchell, David Phelps and Adam Warren – at the Triple-A level to continue their development.

The only real downside is the loss of Montero as the team’s designated hitter.

The Yankees are set at catcher with Russell Martin signed for another season as the starter. Francisco Cervelli and rookie Austin Romine will battle this spring for a backup role with the loser likely headed to Triple-A.

With the loss of Montero it is unclear how the Yankees will handle the DH spot. They could rotate it among starting players such as Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher, which is something manager Joe Girardi prefers to do. That would mean bench players such as Nunez and outfielder Andruw Jones could be used to spell the resting regulars.

They also could use the righty-swinger Jones and lefty-swinger Eric Chavez, if he is re-signed as a free agent, in a platoon at DH.

However, in either case, Montero’s spot on the roster would have to be filled. That would seem to indicate that Cashman may intend to use Burnett in a trade to fill that spot with someone who could serve as a DH and play the outfield. It seems unlikely, put still possible, the Yankees could choose to bring back 40-year-old Jorge Posada for another season.

Posada reportedly has decided to retire rather then field offers from other teams.

STAY TUNED

Wilson, Darvish Top Yankees’ Winter Shopping List

With the disappointing loss to the Detroit Tigers in the American League Divisional Series a distant bad memory, the New York Yankees will look to reconstruct a championship caliber team for the 2012 season. To that end let’s look at what possible moves the Yankees might make to improve their roster. It might seem like a daunting task. But it sure could be worse. Think how tough a time the Boston Red Sox will have rebuilding without general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona.

PART 1 – Starting Pitching

PRIORITY NO. 3 – Finding help with free agents or trades

Looking at the New York Yankees’ starting rotation you have the possible loss of CC Sabathia, the return of injured right-hander Phil Hughes, the return of severely underperforming and overpaid right-hander A.J. Burnett, the sophomore season for rookie surprise Ivan Nova and the likely release of free agents Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon.

Even if Sabathia somehow decides to re-sign with the Yankees, they will still likely need another starter to add behind the ace left-hander and Hughes, Burnett and Nova. So that begs the question: Will general manager Brian Cashman be looking to spend big bucks to add another starter or two to the Yankees for the 2012 season?

That seems likely given that the Yankees were so hellbent on signing left-hander Cliff Lee last winter. But Lee spurned a better contract offer to sign for less money to pitch with the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite the fact Lee thought he was joining a super rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, the Phillies got no father than the Yankees did in the playoffs and Oswalt was allowed to become a free agent.

This season the Yankees obviously will be focused on getting Sabathia to remain in pinstripes. Sabathia has two days to decide to stay with the Yankees for the four years and $92 million left on his contract or opt out and look for a more lucrative deal. Most baseball insiders believe Sabathia, never being accused of being foolish, will opt out to seek a longer term on his contract and more money.

The Yankees, unlike their attitude when Alex Rodriguez opted out of his contract in 2008, are prepared to offer Sabathia a very lucrative six-year, $160 million contract modeled after the contract Lee signed with the Phillies. But Sabathia will have other suitors, including the Texas Rangers to increase the bidding price.

If the Yankees succeed in bringing Sabathia back into the fold, they will then turn their attention to acquiring a pitcher who they can slot in as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.

TARGET NO. 1 – C.J. WILSON (16-7, 2.94 ERA)

Wilson is a 31-year-old left-hander who was the ace of the American League-champion Rangers. But unlike most 31-year-old starters, Wilson has only two seasons of throwing more than 200 innings behind him because he was a reliever in his previous five major-league seasons, all with the Rangers.

If the Yankees were to keep Sabathia and land Wilson it would a tremendous dual victory for the organization. They would have retained their ace and added a second left-hander to the rotation. In addition, it would be a double blow to the Rangers, who are not exactly swimming in starting pitchers who could pitch on the level of Sabathia and Wilson. Strengthening the Yankees while weakening the Rangers is a definite plus to a front office that is taken a great dislike in the Rangers’ front office over the past two years.

A rotation of Sabathia, Wilson, Hughes, Burnett and Nova does not sound all that bad when you add up their record from last season. That five (understanding that Hughes only pitched 74 2/3 innings) was a combined 67-35 with a 3.81 ERA.

Wilson will command a nice princely sum on the open market because he clearly is the best free-agent pitcher available this winter. In the past three season, the Yankees have not bid on pitchers like Halladay and John Lackey, preferring to either solve their problems from within or signing cheaper free agents like Colon and Garcia.

There is no doubt that Colon and Garcia helped the Yankees during the regular season. They were a liability at crunch time, however.

Colon was 6-4 with a 3.20 ERA and Garcia was 7-6 with a 3.13 ERA in the first half of the season. But in the second half, both pitchers struggled at times. Colon was 2-6 with a 4.96 ERA and Garcia was 5-2 with a 4.45 ERA. Colon pitched so badly he was not even placed on the active roster for the playoffs. Garcia pitched and lost Game 3 to the Tigers.

Neither Colon at age 38 or Garcia at age 35 figure to be back next season.

The Yankees also have a host of young pitching prospects like Manny Banuelos (20), Dellin Betances (23), David Phelps (25), D.J. Mitchell (24) and even Hector Noesi (24), who pitched out of the bullpen for the Yankees. Signing Wilson would give the Yankees an opportunity to bring those prospects along slowly. Banuelos and Betances are easily the most talented of the group and they could use a season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fine-tune their electric stuff.

Of course, some of them can be used in trades if Cashman felt a need to make a deal for a bench player or a veteran pitcher.

TARGET NO. 2 – YU DARVISH (18-6, 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters)

Darvish is a 25-year-old right-hander who stands 6-foot-5 and weights 187 pounds. He is the Randy Johnson of Japan with 276 strikeouts in 232 innings this season.

Even more impressive is that he is 88-33 in his last six seasons with his highest ERA during that period of 2.89 in 2006 when he was just 19.

Darvish has requested that his team owner post his contract in order to make himself available as free agent in the United States. Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters owner Hiroji Okoso indicated his readiness to respect Yu Darvish’s decision earlier this month even though the Japanese baseball season has not concluded.

Darvish’s posting will make the posting of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the winter of 2007 look like a flea-market sale. Darvish is a much more gifted pitcher who challenges hitters with his mid-90s fastball and he has some dazzling breaking stuff to go with it. Darvish has also succeeded on the grand stage, being named as the MVP of Japan’s victory in the last World Baseball Classic.

The Yankees, who have been burned in the past with the signings of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa, are nevertheless intrigued by Darvish. They have had a bevy of scouts in Japan clocking every fastball and monitoring the break on his curve. They see him as a potential ace in the major leagues.

But, if the Yankees are committed to re-signing Sabathia and they decide to make a long-term offer to Wilson, Darvish would be even out of reach of the Yankees deep pockets. The posting fee itself could be double the $100 million the Red Sox paid for Matsuzaka. Then the team that wins the posting must sign Darvish to a lucrative contract which might reach $150 million.

So it looks like Darvish would only come into the Yankees’ sights if they fail to keep Sabathia.

The Yankees would then have to pile their cash to sign Wilson and then offer a rich a posting fee to obtain the rights to sign Darvish. They could only afford that if Sabathia does not come back.

Darvish is Plan B if Sabathia leaves. If Sabathis stays, the Yankees likely will still look to sign Wilson and they will let Darvish go to another team with deep pockets like the Red Sox or Rangers.

TARGET NO. 3 – ROY OSWALT (9-10, 3.69 ERA)

Oswalt was injured in 2011 and he started only 23 games for the Phillies. He wasn’t bad as his ERA indicates.

But he also is 34 years old with 2,154 innings pitched in his major-league career. The Phillies chose to not keep him and he will be probably be the second-most sought after pitcher behind Wilson.

Oswalt is consummate pro with the ability to win at the major-league level with less stellar stuff then what he had in early days with Houston like 2005, when he was 20-12 with a 2.94 ERA and 184 strikeouts. Last season batters hit .280 off of him and he was forced to pitch out of a lot of jams.

Back issues forced him to miss all of July and he even considered retiring after this season. But he did throw four quality starts in his last seven appearances. But when it comes to signing Oswalt as a free agent, he is going to have to have doctors clear him to pitch in 2012 before he ever gets a contract offer.

The Yankees’ interest at this point of Oswalt’s career is unlikely. The Yankees would have to basically strike out on keeping Sabathia and signing either Wilson or Darvish before they would even consider making that move. Oswalt has pitched only in the National League and the Yankees have to be leery of guys like him and Javier Vazquez, who post low ERAs in the NL only to pitch with plus 5.00 ERAs in the American League.

Oswalt is the longest of longshots on the Yankees radar this winter. He has too much mileage, there are injury concerns and you have to consider he has not pitched in the AL.

TARGET NO. 4 – FELIX HERNANDEZ (14-14, 3.47 ERA)

With the Yankees, King Felix has been like Jonah’s whale. They try to reel him in but he slips through the nets every time.

Dealing with the Mariners in the past has not been pleasant. The Yankees attempted to deal for Lee when he was pitching for the Mariners in 2010. Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik induced Cashman to include Jesus Montero and Ivan Nova in a potential deal for Lee.

The Rangers, on the other hand, were offering a package including power-hitting first baseman Justin Smoak.

Zduriencik then got greedy and asked the Yankees to sweeten the pot by including minor-league shortstop Eduardo Nunez to the package. Cashman said no and Zduriencik went running back to the Rangers to accept the Smoak package. The fact that Smoak bombed badly for the M’s in 2011 gives Yankee fans a lot of pleasure.

The Yankees, in the long run, were better off hanging onto Montero, Nova and Nunez and all three have bright futures ahead of them in pinstripes.

Any deal involving Hernandez likely will start with Zduriencik requesting Montero, Nunez and either Betances or Banuelos or both. This would the cost of doing business with a team that is desperate to fill the seats with a creditable team building for the future. But the Yankees would be crazy to be locked into this madness unless they were real desperate to replace Sabathia and they had lost both Wilson and Darvish in free agency.

This would be their Plan C and it would have to make sense to Cashman to give up so much talent. But Hernandez is not even 25 yet. So if you are going to deal for an ace it might as well be a young one with talent like the King.

But I do not see this happening. The M’s are building a nice rotation of young pitchers and Hernandez is a big part of that. However, their offense is just dreadful and King Felix could bring a package of young hitters the Mariners could build around. Montero would be a special prize here.

But the odds of it happening are in the 500-1 range. Cashman knows Zduriencik practices legal extortion and Cashman may be unwilling to pay up.

NEXT: PART 2 – Relief Pitching

PRIORITY NO. 1 – Finding a second left-hander or two

Garcia Deep-Sixes Mariners For 16th Straight Loss

GAME 99

YANKEES 10, MARINERS 3

Freddy Garcia looked as laid back as ever on the mound at Yankee Stadium on Monday. But on the inside he was hoping he would not be “The One” to lose a game to Seattle.

Whatever Garcia’s mindset was, his pitching was simply superb as he breezed into the eighth inning and New York’s vaunted offense scored him plenty of runs as the Yankees sent the luckless Mariners to their 16th straight loss, a franchise record for futility.

Garcia (9-7), who won 79 games from 1999 through 2004 for the Mariners, gave up three runs on eight hits and one walk and fanned five batters in 7 2/3 innings for his seventh quality start in his last eight outings. Staked to an early 3-1 lead that ballooned to 8-1 after the Yankees scored five runs off Mariners starter Jason Vargas in the fourth inning, Garcia merely coasted through the game recording four three-up, three-down innings.

Mark Teixeira opened the scoring on the reeling Mariners and Vargas with a one-out two-run home run to left-field, his 27th home run of the season, which ties him teammate Curtis Granderson for second in the American League to Jose Bautista of Toronto, who has 31.

Two innings later, Derek Jeter lined his fourth home run of the season into the first row in the right-field bleachers over the auxiliary scoreboard to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.

The Yankees broke it open in the fourth thanks to four hits from the Yankees and two errors from the Mariners. Eduardo Nunez, Brett Gardner, Jeter, Granderson and Teixeira drove in a run apiece in consecutive at-bats in the inning and the barrage knocked the left-handed Vargas out of the game. Vargas was touched for eight runs (four earned) on seven hits and a walk and he fanned two in four innings as he posted his fourth straight defeat.

The fourth inning was a microcosm of how things have soured for the Mariners this season.

With one out, Russell Martin reached on an error by third baseman Adam Kennedy. Andruw Jones then was safe on what was scored a single when Vargas was late covering first on a grounder to first baseman Justin Smoak. Nunez scored Martin on a bloop single to center and Gardner drove in Jones on a single up the middle.

Vargas then got Jeter to roll a ground ball to rookie second baseman Dustin Ackley but the ensuing play pretty much shows how things have unraveled for the Mariners during this stretch. Ackley chose to throw home to get a sliding Nunez but the ball struck Jeter’s bat and rolled past catcher Miguel Olivo for the team’s second error of the inning.

Granderson followed with a sacrifice fly and Teixiera singled in Jeter to close out the scoring in the nightmare inning for the M’s where four of the five runs scored were unearned.

The game began at 9:02 p.m. EDT because of one-hour and 57-minute rain delay. Of course, the rain of runs the Yankees scored dampened the Mariners’ spirit more than any of the precipitation. It seems that a dark cloud has followed the Mariners to the Bronx from rainy Seattle.

With the victory, the Yankees reached a season-best 20 games over .500 after they failed in their four previous attempts. They are 60-40 at the 100-game mark. The better news was that the first-place Boston Red Sox got tripped up at home by the lowly Kansas City Royals 3-1 and the Yankees have now drawn to within two games of first in the American League East. The Mariners, meanwhile, slipped to 43-59. They were at the .500 mark when their losing streak began.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • For those Yankee fans who believed that Jeter was finished as a productive hitter at age 37, think again. Jeter was 2-for-5 with a triple and home run and drove in three runs and scored two. Since July 20, Jeter is 9-for-22 (.409) with a homer and seven RBIs and he has scored six runs. In fact, Jeter is hitting .324 in July and has raised his season average to .273.
  • Teixeira has been embarrassed by his .240 batting average and has been working in the batting cage with hitting coach Kevin Long. It may be paying off, too. On the homestand, Teixeira is 5-for-16 (.313) with two home runs and eight RBIs. Teixeira was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs against the Mariners. He has 27 home runs and 75 RBIs despite hitting only .243.
  • Garcia was in command most of the night and the run support helped a lot. Garcia was tagged by sac fly by Ichiro Suzuki that scored Justin Smoak in the third inning. The Mariners added a run with two out in the seventh on an RBI single by Smoak. The Mariners chased Garcia in the eighth after an RBI double by Brendan Ryan. Garcia is on pace to win 15 games for the first time since he won 17 games for the White Sox in 2006.
  • Granderson was 1-for-2 with two sacrifice flies, a walk and scored a run. His two RBIs gave him 76 on the season and he is now tied for second in the A.L. with Andre Beltre of Texas. Boston Adrian Gonzalez leads with 82.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

There was nothing that bad to discuss in this game. Garcia pitched effectively into the eighth and the Yankees scored 10 runs. What more could you want?

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees are likely to activate reserve infielder Eric Chavez from the 60-day disabled list on Tuesday and he could start at third base against the Mariners. Chavez has been sidelined since May 5 with a fractured bone in his left foot. He arrived in New York on Monday after a rehab stint at Class A Tampa to be evaluated by the team’s medical staff. Chavez was 7-for-21 (.333) in six starts for Tampa. Chavez actually healed the foot injury some time ago. But the oft-injured 33-year-old veteran was sidelined for three more weeks by a kidney stone and recurring back issues.  . . .  Alex Rodriguez is making progress in his recovery from right knee surgery and he could return to the Yankees by the second week of August, manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Monday. Rodriguez had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the knee and he was expected to miss four to six weeks.  . . .  Reliever Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect inning of relief on Monday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and he could be rejoining the team soon. Soriano, who has been sidelined since May 13 with right elbow inflammation, was making his first back-to-back appearance during his rehab. The Yankees likely will wait to activate Soriano until Friday when they begin a four-game weekend home series with the Orioles.  . . .  Left-hander Steve Garrison made his major-league debut on Monday in the ninth inning against the Mariners. Garrision was recalled from Scranton to replace Sergio Mitre on the roster when he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder. Garrison, 24, pitched a perfect two-thirds of an inning to end the game. Garrison likely will be sent back to Scranton when the Yankees activate Soriano.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game series with the hard-luck Mariners on Tuesday.

There is more bad news for Seattle since the Yankees will be starting left-hander CC Sabathia (14-5, 2.62 ERA). Sabathia had his seven-game wining streak stopped by the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. However, Sabathia was far from bad. He gave up only two runs in eight innings in a pitchers’ duel against James Shields. Sabathia is 10-4 with a 2.49 ERA against the Mariners in his career.

The Mariners will send Doug Fister (3-11, 3.30 ERA) to the hill. The right-hander gave up four runs in seven innings against the Blue Jays in a loss last week. Fister has received only 25 runs of support in the 15 starts the Mariners have lost with him on the mound. He is 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.

Yankees Sink Mariners With 5-Run Barrage

GAME 51

YANKEES 7, MARINERS 1

Good teams hit with runners in scoring position and they also get more than their fair share of two-out hits. A big reason why the Yankees have lost 23 games this season is because they have done neither very well. On Sunday, they showed the Mariners what can happen when they do both and lo and behold the Yankees won easily.

The Yankees entered Sunday’s series finale with only six two-out hits (accounting for three of the seven runs they scored) and were a woeful 2-for-15 (.133) with runners in scoring position. In the third inning the Yankees racked up three two-out hits and they were 3-for-4 with two outs and runners in scoring position as New York crushed Seattle at Safeco Field.

Leading 1-0 on a second-inning Nick Swisher solo home run, the Yankees had runners on first and third and two out on loser Jason Vargas (3-3) with Robinson Cano up. Cano started a five-run inning by singling to left to score Curtis Granderson. After Swisher drew a walk to load the bases, Andruw Jones put the game away with a bases-clearing double to right. Eduardo Nunez scored Jones with his first career triple and the game was no longer in doubt.

Meanwhile, ace left-hander CC Sabathia (6-3) coasted to his third straight victory. Sabathia gave up a solo home run to Justin Smoak with one out in the sixth inning but otherwise he shut down the Mariners on a total of six hits and three walks and he struck out five over eight innings. Reliever Lance Pendleton pitched a scoreless ninth to finish up for Sabathia.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 28-23 and they remain one game behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Mariners fell to 26-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Granderson remains the hottest Yankee hitter. He was 3-for-5 with two doubles and scored two runs. He also had another ht taken away by on a running catch in the right-field corner by Ichiro Suzuki. Granderson has now raised his season average to .282.
  • Jones, playing in place of Brett Gardner with a left-hander on the mound, came into the game with a total of seven RBIs in 52 at-bats. On one swing off Vargas in the third inning he drove in three runs with a double to the right-field corner. Jones is proving to be a valuable right-handed hitter off the bench.
  • Sabathia looks to be on one of those patented runs where he is nearly unbeatable as the weather turns warmer. In his last three starts, Sabathia has given up just five runs on 20 hits and four walks and he has struck out 17 batters over that same span. He has also lowered his ERA to 2.98.
  • Swisher’s home run was only his third of the season and came from the right side, where he has been hitting much better this season. Swisher believes he is beginning to come around with the bat this season after a 50-game slump. He was robbed of a home run by Mariners center-fielder Franklin Gutierrez on Friday night . He was 3-for-10 in the weekend series.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

There were a few minor issues but when every Yankee starter gets hit, the team does not commit a fielding error and the team’s ace pitches like one, there is nothing really to complain about.

BOMBER BANTER

Phil Hughes threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session on Sunday at Safeco Field and reported no issues. Hughes, who has been on the disabled list since April 15 with right shoulder weakness, threw fastballs, curveballs and change-ups in the session. The plan is for Hughes to rest for two days and throw another bullpen session on Wednesday in Oakland. Pitching coach Larry Rothshild may have Hughes face live hitters over next weekend while the Yankees are in Anaheim.  . . .  Curtis Granderson (with 16) and Mark Teixeira (with 15) are the first two Yankee teammates to have at least 15 home runs in the team’s first 50 games since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris did it in 1961.

ON DECK

The Yankees are off to Oakland for a midweek three-game series against the Athletics.

The Yankees will open the series with 37-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon (2-3, 3.77). Colon faltered in the sixth inning of his last start against the Blue Jays, giving up five runs fueled by three walks. He struck out eight but walked four for his third loss of the season. Colon is 6-4 with a 3.12 ERA in his career against Oakland.

Oakland will counter with ace right-hander Trevor Cahill (6-2, 2.02 ERA). Cahill gave up four runs (three earned) to the Angels on 10 hits and five walks over six innings in his second loss of the season. He is 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA in his starts against the Yankees.

Game-time will be at 4:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

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