Category: Curtis Granderson

The Yankees beat the Angels after Kuroda’s seventh consecutive quality start

Hiroki Kuroda

Hiroki Kuroda

The Yankees edged the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2-1 on Monday night at Yankee Stadium for their third win in four games. Hiroki “Hiro” Kuroda threw eight shutout innings for his 11th win of the season. Kuroda recorded seven strikeouts to improve his season total to 110.

Kuroda has been the best starter on the Yankees this season and should get consideration for the CY Young award at the end of the season. He is currently second in the American League with a 2.33 ERA and is fourth in the AL with a 1.02 WHIP. Kuroda has also only allowed 12 homers in his 24 starts, has allowed zero runs in a start nine times and has limited the opposition to a .226 batting average (eighth in the league).

Kuroda is also deserving of the CY Young because the Yankees would not have anything close to the 60-57 record that they have now without him. He has only allowed five runs in his last 48 innings pitched is a stat that stands out. Put another way, in those 48 innings or seven starts, Kuroda has an out of this world 0.94 ERA. One more stat about Kuroda’s season is that at Yankee Stadium Kuroda has a 1.54 ERA.

A highlight on the offensive side was the Curtis Granderson, who led the majors 84 homers combined in 2011 and 2012, hit his third homer of the season in the seventh inning, which turned out to be the game winner. Granderson now has three homers in six career at-bats against Garrett Richards, who was the starter for the Angels.

In the third inning, Brett Gardner’s single to center drove in Eduardo Nunez. He now has a seven-game hitting streak and his driven in five runs in those seven games. He is not generally thought of as a run producer, but Gardner had two Gatorade showers after his two game winning hits in the series against the Tigers. Gardy is actually fourth on the team with his 39 RBIs.

The Yankees went into the ninth inning leading 2-0, but Boone Logan and David Robertson actually pitched instead of Mariano Rivera because he had pitched in three of the past four games. Rivera had blown saves in three of those games, even though the Yankees ended up winning two of those games. Logan, who had not allowed a run in his last six appearances, allowed a run to score, which caused Joe Girardi to bring in the closer of the future, David Robertson.

David Robertson came in and struck out the final two batters including former Yankee Chris Nelson, after smartly walking Erik Aybar and allowing a cheap double to Josh Hamilton. D-Rob gave the fans at Yankee Stadium some nerves, but it certainly made sense to walk Mike Trout, who is on his way to another possibly MVP season.

There was drama, but all that matters is that the Yankees got the win and they have now won three out of four games for the first time since July 10-13. CC Sabathia, who pitches Tuesday night, will need to continue his solid pitching from his last start to continue the team’s momentum. Before his last start, he had allowed 19 runs in three starts.

The Yankees are now 6.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the second Wild Card spot.

Nova and Granderson helped the Yankees even the series in San Diego

Curtis Granderson

Curtis Granderson

Ivan Nova’s seven shutout innings helped the Yankees beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday in San Diego. He had command of all of his pitches once again, leading him to limit the Padres to four hits, while striking out eight and only allowing one walk.

In his last six starts, he has now allowed two runs or less in five of them. He is emerging at just the right time because CC Sabathia has not been pitching well in his last few starts. Sabathia’s ERA is all the way up to  4.78 after allowing seven runs against the Red Sox, seven runs against the Rays and then five runs and 11 hits on Friday against the Padres.

Sabathia has had by far his worst three-game stretch as a Yankee, so that has obviously made Nova’s recent dominance even more important. The Yankees need Sabathia to pitch like the ace he has been for the majority of his career in order to get in the playoffs as a Wild Card, but Nova has emerged as the de facto number 2 behind Hiroki Kuroda.

Just as important as the stellar start that Ivan “Super” Nova had against the Padres was the performance that Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees in his second game since coming off of the disabled list. Granderson hit a homer just over the wall in right to drive in Alfonso Soriano, which would give the Yankees all the runs that they would need. In the ninth, for an insurance run, Jayson NIx hit a single to right to drive in Granderson after he had singled and stole second.

Granderson, whose 84 homers combined in 2011 and 2012 were more than anyone else in baseball, adds a power hitting outfielder that the Yankees had been desperately missing this season. It is like they have added another hitter that they did not have to trade for at the trade deadline. He will make the offense so much better and is a true five tool player. He combines with Soriano and Cano to form a formidable middle of the order.

The recent additions of Derek Jeter (who didn’t play on Saturday and will not play on Sunday either because of a right calf injury), Soriano and Granderson to the lineup gives them a legitimate offense with multiple power hitters. In regards to Jeter’s injury, Giardi said that he could pinch-hit on Sunday, but he likely will not because he would have to play the field.

Joe Girardi conservatively took Nova out after the seventh inning after he had only thrown 85 pitches. However, that makes sense when he has David Robertson for the eighth and Mariano Rivera for the ninth inning. They form one of the best eighth and ninth inning combos in baseball and in this game Robertson allowed only one hit in the eighth for his 25th hold and Rivera struck out Alexi Amarista to help him record his 35th save.

Before the game on Friday, Trevor Hoffman, who previously held the record for saves in a career, presented Rivera with a customized beach cruiser. He has received a gift from every opposing team that he has faced this season as they are respecting his greatness during Rivera’s last season. It was fitting that Rivera’s gift in San Diego was given to him by Trevor Hoffman.

It was unfortunate that the Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays won on Saturday which prevented the Yankees from gaining ground on them in the Wild-Card race. In order for the Yankees to win the series in San Diego they need Phil Hughes to rebound from the five runs that he allowed against Tampa in his last start.

The Yankees are now 3.5 games out of the Wild-Card, but even though they were 2.5 games out on July 20, they have a more realistic chance of making up the games now because of their much improved offense.

Curtis Granderson will make his return to the Yankees

Granderson with AAA

Granderson with AAA

Curtis Granderson, who suffered a fractured right forearm as he was hit by a pitch the first game of spring training, will be called up from the team’s AAA affiliate, the Scranton RailRiders, today. He is one of 10 players currently on the disabled list.

It appears that Ben Francisco is going to be the player who will be designated for assignment once Granderson officially gets called up. Francisco deserves to be the outfielder to lose a spot on the team as he was only hitting .128 with one homer in 39 at bats. He was brought in after Granderson’s injury in spring training, but Francisco has not produced offensively as the Yankees had hoped.

Actually, Vidal Nuno, who pitched five shutout innings in the second game of the doubleheader yesterday, will be sent back down to the minors. Granderson’s return will improve the outfield depth and also mean that Travis Hafner will not have to play everyday at Designated Hitter.

The Yankees will now have four outfielders for three spots. Brett Gardner, (.252 and 5 steals) Ichiro Suzuki, (.254, 8 RBI and 5 steals) Vernon Wells (.299, 9 homers and 22 RBI) and Granderson (.232, 43 homers and 106 RBI) are the four outfielders who will be competing.

In five rehab games with the Scranton RailRiders, Granderson hit .400 with one homer and three RBI. This display proves that there is no point using his solid hitting in the minors instead of with the Yankees. During his game with Scranton on Monday, Granderson went 1-3 while playing left field for the RailRiders.

Wells has proven to be a great find by Cashman since the team desperately needed another outfielder coming out of spring training and he has basically been about to revert to the All-Star form he showed with the Blue Jays. He was injured for most of his time with the Angels.

He has been the team’s center fielder the previous three seasons, and has hit more than 40 homers in each of the past two seasons, so he deserves to play nearly everyday in the outfield. An added benefit is that Granderson played the three outfield positions in AAA, which gives Joe Girardi some flexibility. By virtue of his start to the season, Vernon Wells should continue to play everyday in left field.

That leaves Gardner and Ichiro to split time for the remaining outfield spots. Ichiro currently does not have a hit in his last 12 at bats, which should lead to the speedy Gardner getting more of the playing time. The Yankees also need Gardner to wreak havoc on the base paths like he is capable of doing. The outfield trio of Wells, Granderson and Gardner will give the Yankees a solid mix of power, defense and speed.

The only thing that Granderson will have to try and do is to limit his strikeouts since he had 195 last season.

Granderson will officially be back in the lineup tonight batting cleanup and playing left field.

Ivan “Super” Nova excels once again as the Yankees division crown is imminent

Not very surprisingly Ivan Nova was able to pick up his 16th win of the season, after pitching 7.2 scoreless innings only allowing six hits in the 5-0 win against the Rays, during a season in which he deserves the Rookie of the Year.

Remarkably, Nova still has not lost a game since June  3rd, which includes eight straight starts where he recorded a win and also four other wins during that time period.  He also had three no decisions, where the team picked up one win and he Tuesday’s win would have been his 17th  but he did not receive much run support in his September 14th start where the team lost to the Mariners.

It is also worth noting that if Nova did not get sent down to AAA Scranton for three weeks in July as a result of Phil Hughes’ return from the disabled least he could easily have two or three more wins.

With his victory over the Rays he cemented himself as the number two pitcher on the staff.  However, this victory where Curtis Granderson was the offensive star yet again, in what should be an MVP season for him, actually helped the rival Red Sox.  Boston lost to the Orioles last night, but since the Yankees beat the Rays, the Red Sox are still two games ahead of the Rays for the Wild Card.

However, like Granderson said, the Yankees just need to concentrate on winning their games, and let the chips fall where they may, until they have clinched the division/home field advantage.  However, since they will surely have clinched before the series with Tampa next week the Yankees will be in position to rest some regulars since they will have nothing to play for.  It is better to go into the postseason with momentum but if everything is locked up the veterans could use a day of rest to “help” the Rays win.

An Eric Chavez RBI single and Granderson’s three RBI double, that scored Chavez, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner, in the second inning, would give the Yankees all the runs that they would need.  They scored those runs off of Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis (4.55 ERA) who is in his sophomore season and is not pitching like he did during his rookie year.

Granderson would also go on to hit his 25th double of the season, off of rookie Tampa reliever Dane De La Rosa, and knock in his 119th RBI of the season, on a single in the fifth.  This would be the second time that he sent Gardner across the plate and, in the process, sent him into first place in the American League by three RBI over Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez who has 116.

Both relievers did their part for the Yankees as Boone Logan and the even more reliable Luis Ayala pitched a combined 1.1 innings and the only blemish was Logan’s walk to Jose Lobaton, who pinch hit for Kelley Shoppach.

Another highlight of this game was that Derek Jeter passed Chicago Cub great Cap Anson, who played even before the Yankees existed, in the end of the 19th century, to move into sole possession of 19th place with 3,082 on baseball’s all-time hit list.  Jeter’s two hits gave him a 12-game hitting streak, to up his average to .296 and increase his odds of having his 12th season hitting .300 or better.

However, some disappointing news came to the forefront about none other than A.J. Burnett.  It was revealed that he did in fact complain to Joe Girardi about being pulled from a game in which he did not even last the required five innings to qualify for the win.

In a game that the always classy Mariano Rivera would pick up his record breaking 602nd save because the bullpen did their job, Burnett felt the need to act like a high school pitcher yet again and whine about being taken out of a game in which he nearly allowed a hit (nine) to half of the batters he faced (22).

Thankfully that has to have been Burnett’s last appearance of the season.  It is hard to believe how he was actually able to control his pitches at times while striking out eight batters, while not being able to command his pitches at all the rest of the time, but he is just a feast or famine type of pitcher.

The Yankees, who are in first place by six games with nine games to play, have a magic number of three games until they clinch the division.  That means any combination adding up to three of Yankee wins, or Red Sox losses, would make the division crown official.

The Yankees play a double header against the Rays today.  This means that if they win both games, behind Ivan Nova (Phil Hughes was originally scheduled to start) and ace CC Sebathia, and the Red Sox lose to the Baltimore Orioles, they will have clinched the division.

This could conceivably happen because the Orioles have been successfully playing spoiler down the stretch, having gone 6-4 in their last 10 games, which is a big improvement from their .416 winning percentage.

Hughes, who has a 6.00 ERA, likely, will not be in the postseason rotation.  He has pitched better since coming off the disabled list in July, dominating in some starts, but in others he has reverted back to his ways from April having allowed six runs or more three times in his last 10 starts.  Hughes has not resembled his form from before the All-Star break in 2010 so he does not deserve to be in the postseason rotation over CC Sebathia, Nova, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

It was just reported that Hector Noesi will in fact be starting the afternoon game instead of Hughes because of his back spasms.  This move makes sense because there is no need for Hughes to further injure himself.

The Yankees are in a position that they have rarely found themselves in before in that with each win over the Rays they will be helping the Red Sox in their quest not to nosedive out of the playoffs.  It definitely seems like the Wild Card race could go down until the last three games of the season when the Yankees head to Tampa, and the Yankees could lock up the division during this series against the Rays which ends on Thursday.

After defeating King Felix, Yankees announce they will be helping those in need

The Yankees can be praised for their play on the field, the last two games, as well as their actions off of it.

First of all, the Yankee have won their last two games, the first one against the Mariners, in the series opener against Felix Hernandez, who is one of the best pitchers in baseball.  This was a clutch win for the team as it put them four games ahead of the Red Sox and it proved that they could beat a top flight starting pitcher as they were three hit by Jared Weaver in the Angels series.  They had an offensive explosion off of last year’s CY Young winner as Mark Teixiera hit his 37th homer, Chris Dickerson hit a two run blast for his first of the season and Robinson Cano hit a three RBI double in the seventh in the 7-3 victory.

Phil Hughes had his second start in a row where he allowed two runs or less as he only gave up one run in six dominating innings of work.  It seems like he is rounding into form just in time for the playoffs.  He walked three batters which is a little high but all that matters is that only one runner crossed home plate.  Hughes should definitely have a role in the playoffs but that might be out of the bullpen as it seems like the starters might be CC Sebathia, Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia.

They also won the game before down the west coast in Anaheim on 9/11 by the score of 6-5.  There was a very fitting tribute before the game as first responders and a survivor threw out the first pitch to Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada who were all prominent members of the 2001 Yankees team.  Rivera picked up his 599th career save and is now only three saves away from passing Trevor Hoffman as the all-time leader and cementing himself as officially the greatest closer in baseball history.

Eric Chavez, Jeter and Cano each picked up two hits for the Yankees while Curtis Granderson led the team with two RBI as a result of his deep home run.  They were the offensive players that helped end the losing streak.

The Yankees close victory was a key one because it ended the four game slide and before the 6-0 loss to the Angels on Saturday they had previously come on the short end of three straight one run losses.  Even though they were in first place the whole time it was critical to start this winning streak to put some distance between them and the Boston Red Sox.

David Ortiz even came out and said that they are in panic mode since they are 2-8 in their last 10 games and the surging Tampa Bay Rays are threatening to become the AL Wild Card instead of Boston.  The Red Sox could be on their way to collapsing in a similar way that the Mets did in 2008 as they went 5-12 to end that season.

A.J. Burnett will pitch for the Yankees tonight so the bullpen should be ready to do their job.  Luckily, the Mariners have  a pitcher named Charlie Furbush taking the mound who is struggling almost as much with a 4.84 ERA.

As previously stated, the Yankees made positive headlines off the field, once again, saying that they will donate $100,000 to support the  rescue/relief efforts in association with Hurricane Irene.  Of that $100,000, half will go to the Salvation Army and the other half will go to the Red Cross.  In addition, they will be making a $25,000 donation to support the rescue/relief of the Texas wildfires.

Baltimore edges the Yankees in 11 after another shaky outing by Burnett

This was their fourth rain delay this season against the Orioles who came out on top 5-4 in extra innings over the Yankees in a game that featured six errors and 13 relievers.

Baltimore and New York’s starters each struggled giving up a combined eight runs.  Zach Britton who had been one of the Orioles better starters of late gave up all of the Yankees runs on five hits and four walks.

A.J. Burnett did not really do enough to deserve another start in this six-man rotation that should turn into the standard five-man one.  He allowed four runs on seven hits, with four walks and a homer.  This start proved again how unreliable he is since he allowed two runs in his start last week against the Red Sox but in his two starts before that one he allowed a combined 16 runs.

Burnett gave up a two run homer to Nolan Reimold, his ninth of the season, who is only hitting .231.  It is truly hard to fathom how Burnett gave up two runs by the Boston offense but could not limit the paltry Baltimore offense.

It seems like Hughes can be counted on to pitch more consistently than Burnett especially since he only has one win in his last 10 starts while Hughes has shown some dominance since coming off the disabled list.

The offensive stars for the Yankees were Jesus Montero and Alex Rodriguez as they drove in all of their four runs.  Rodriguez had a two-run double to deep center which drove in Russell Martin and Nick Swisher in the opening stanza, and Montero (5 RBI in 5 games) singled to deep right center which plated Rodriguez and Andruw Jones.

In the bottom of the sixth shortstop Robert Andino fielded a shot hop cleanly and it appeared that he would throw out Jesus Montero but Andino would receive an error because his throw to first sailed into the Yankee dugout.

In an effort to get the lead before the game was potentially called because of rain Manager Joe Girardi sent in Robinson Cano and Mark Teixiera.  Curtis Granderson was inserted into the lineup after Teixiera which would make a very imposing seven, eight and nine to round out the order.  Granderson hit a double to the wall in the seventh which had the potential of being a triple but he tripped after rounding first base.

However, his double to lead off the inning would go to waste as he would be stranded at third keeping the score at four. The Yankees squandered an opportunity to put the game away in that inning.

In the top of the eighth David Robertson dominated like normal but this time he struck out the side.  He used his cutter to perfection.

In the ninth inning Clay Rapada would pitch for the Orioles and he is very deceptive on left handed pitchers because he is a side arm pitcher.  The umpire went to the mound to try and force Rapada to put his foot on the rubber but it appeared as if his foot stayed off the rubber for the rest of the at-bat against Cano.  Rapada would get Granderson to fly out to the catcher and with that Buck Showalter would make yet another pitching change.

Pedro Strop would come into the game becoming the Orioles seventh pitcher on the afternoon.  Strop, a converted shortstop, has a 3.09 ERA in 10 appearances, two for the Orioles and eight for the Rangers.  He would get Eduardo Nunez to ground out to Andino at short to force extra innings in a game filled with errors.

To start the “free baseball” Hector Noesi struck out Chris Davis to give him five on the afternoon, as well as a grand total of 20 in his last 40 at bats.  Noesi would go on to strike out the side as he has filled his role adequately in relief this season.

Russell Martin picked up his second hit of the contest to lead-off the bottom of the 10th, but the next three batters would get out in order.  Martin was the only Yankee who played the whole game to come away with two hits and he also had his second consecutive game with multiple hits.  After pinch hitting for Ramiro Pena, Granderson got a hit in two out of his three at bats.

Nunez came away with an error after failing to pick up the fast short hop by Matt Angle.  That was the fourth error of the game and committing so many miscues makes it difficult to win games, but the wet conditions certainly don’t help.  Joe Girardi left Noesi in one inning too long as he threw a wild pitch to Reimold and the feast or famine Mark Reynolds hit an RBI single.

Eduardo Nunez had the chance to be the hero in the bottom of the eleventh and make up for committing his 18th error, but Girardi decided to replace him with Eric Chavez with runners on first and third.  This strategic move proved to be an instance of over-analyzing because Chavez would ground into a fielder’s chance to end the game.

The Yankees offense should not have been held scoreless for six innings off of an Orioles bullpen that features the previously mentioned converted shortstop, a reliever making his fourth career appearance in Zach Phillips and four who all have more than a 4.15 ERA.

A reason for only scoring four runs in 11 innings is that they did horribly in clutch situations once again.  Four players including Swisher, Cano, Montero and Chavez left runners on base with two outs and overall the team left nine runners on base.  It is very important to drive runners in with ducks on the pond and in this game the Yankees could not convert off of mediocre pitchers.

It also would have helped if Martin would have thrown out some of the base stealers as three of the five stolen bases off of him came around to score.  If he would have thrown out two or even three of them that might have caused a different outcome.

Burnett is now the first pitcher in history to have eight games in his career with three wild pitches.  The Yankees

The Yankees will try and win the series (3-1) tonight behind Ivan Nova who strong candidate for Rookie of the Year.  He has now gone eight consecutive starts with a win and has not picked up a loss since June 3rd helping him to a remarkable 15-4 record.  Nova does not crumble under pressure and he has even improved his pitch location and execution after allowing one or two early runs.

They are 8-2 in their last 10 games helping them stay 2.5 games ahead of Boston.

Yankees hope to have more fans today after winning a game that ended at 2:05 a.m.

After a 4 hour and 3 minute rain delay, and about 1,000 brave souls in the stands, Phil Hughes was finally able to throw the first pitch in a game that the Yankees would not win until 2:15 a.m.

For the second run of the game, Francisco Cervelli hit a long fly ball just in front of the warning track and it appeared that the left-fielder what make the catch.  However, as a result of all the wind and rain, the ball went in and out of Matt Angle’s glove, so he advanced to second and Jorge Posada scored.  Posada had earlier hit a solo homer so he had scored both of the runs through five innings.

The error by Angle would be the first of three Orioles’ miscues during the game but only one error would lead to an unearned run.

Hughes cruised through the first five innings, keeping the Orioles off the scoreboard while only allowing three hits.  This proves that he was able to locate his pitches well but it was not all that promising that he had thrown 91 pitches to that point.

In the top of the sixth, the second to last batter Hughes would face was Matt Wieters and he would hit a long home run to deep right that scored the possible Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero.  Hughes rebounded well, especially considering the conditions he was pitching in, after allowing 12 runs combined in his last two starts.

The Yankees would score all of their runs off of Orioles starter Tommy Hunter.  He was acquired by the Orioles in a July 30th, pre deadline deal which would send Hunter and Chris Davis to the Orioles and Koji Uehara to the Texas Rangers.

In the bottom of the sixth inning Mark Teixiera singled to right for his 102nd RBI, which scored Derek Jeter after he had singled earlier in the inning.  Finally, in the bottom of the seventh inning the usually light hitting duo of Cervelli and Brett Gardner would hit back-to-back homers to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead, and close out the scoring. 

Cervelli hit only his fifth home run and fourth this season, during his 180 game career with the Yankees as the back-up catcher. However, this was a disputed home run that can be compared the Jeffrey Maier incident back in the first-round of 1996 playoffs since that was against the Orioles as well.

This play can not exactly be compared with the famous play in 96 that helped the Yankees win the playoff game because Angle was not planted under the ball like Tony Tarasco was on Jeter’s homer.  There were much less than 1,000 drenched fans at the stadium at this point, and the ball just so happened to touch the hands of two people as they were reaching over the left-field wall. 

Corey Wade would get his second win in his last four appearances out of the bullpen, once again proving to be a gem of a signing by General Manager Brian Cashman since he only has a 2.05 ERA, and nobody really made a big deal when he was acquired.  Mariano Rivera would lock-down his 39th save of the season in order, and is now only four saves away from overtaking Trevor Hoffman as the all-time leader.     

The Yankees brain-trust executed yet another admirable gesture by saying that anyone who had bought a ticket to the game, but decided not to attend because of the adverse conditions, can exchange this ticket for any 2012 game. 

Both teams have a very fast turnaround as last night/this morning’s game ended only about 10 hours and 45 minutes before today’s game is scheduled to start.  It does not really make sense that they played the game last night, since there was such an increased chance for injury, but the Yankees got the win to keep them 2.5 games ahead of the Red Sox, which is the bottom line. 

 Joe Girardi is sending out what looks like a Spring Training lineup on first glance, but when one looks at it more closely it makes sense to give many starters a day of rest after the marathon like game last night.  There is also only one more off day before the playoffs begin.  Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera and Brett Gardner will all be getting the game off.  Their replacements will be Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Greg Golson, Brandon Laird and Andruw Jones.

Jesus Montero will also be getting another start after his two homer game where he was the savior on Monday.  Hopefully he will be able to lead the offense along with Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez and Jones 

A.J. Burnett will get the start for the Yankees and it will be interesting to see if he will be able to defeat the elements after having a much needed respectable start against the Red Sox on Thursday where he allowed two runs in 5.1 innings.  Girardi said two days ago that he will keep Hughes and Burnett in the rotation for at least on more turn so we will see how Burnett performs against a much less imposing lineup.      

If Burnett allows three runs or less then that will make Girardi’s decision interesting but if the allows more than three then Hughes should remain in the rotation because Burnett is too much of a question mark. 

Zach Britton will take the hill for the Orioles and he held the Yankees offense scoreless during seven innings 10 days ago.  Britton has likely been O’s most reliable starter of late only allowing three runs in his last three starts.  In his career against the Yankees, which only includes three stars he has a 3.77 ERA, but this season on the road his ERA sits at 6.32, which is nothing to write home about. 

It seems like the elements will play a role in the game once again because it has been raining off and on all morning.  Nobody knows how much the rain will affect Burnett but it is possible that he will be able to limit the Orioles like he did against the Red Sox since their offense is much less potent.      

Yankees winning streak is halted at three, they need a victory over Lester to win the series

The Yankees were able to score five runs off of Josh Beckett, four of them earned, which should have been enough to win but Phil Hughes would allow a total of six runs during the Yankees 9-5 loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

Hughes pitched well through the first four innings only allowing two runs, but that was not good enough as he turned in his third underwhelming start since coming off the disabled list.  He has had five starts where he allowed two runs or less but he still needs to find that consistency that he had the first-half of last season.  Having three starts where he has allowed more than five runs is not going to cut it.

Even though Hughes has been somewhat feast or famine since coming off the disabled list, he should still be the one to stay in the rotation over A.J. Burnett.  I hope for the best, but I don’t think it is very likely that Burnett allows four runs or less against the Red Sox tonight.  The one major factor in Burnett’s favor is his mammoth contract but Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi need to realize that it is more important that the Yankees are able to count on their starting pitcher.

Burnett has allowed 16 runs in his last two starts and part of the reason that he was signed before the 2009 season was because he had dominated the Red Sox while pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays.  In eight starts with the Blue Jays he had five wins and 2.56 ERA, but in eight starts for the Yankees against Boston he has zero wins and an 8.71 ERA.  Even if he somehow allows three runs his should be his last start of the season.

Hughes gives the Yankees a realistic chance of hurling in a dominating start but the same can’t really said for Burnett at this point.  It might make sense to call up Dellin Beances, Manny Banuelos or Adam Warren to see how they do during a spot start, if Hughes does not pitch a quality start when he toes the rubber next.

Putting one of these three top pitchers from AAA Scranton in the middle of a playoff race might be a little risky but it is worth a shot since they have so much potential.  If Hughes does indeed falter again, the Yankees would have no better option besides taking rookie Hector Noesi out of his long-relief role and giving him a start.

Based on how he has performed this season in the Bronx and for Scranton it is likely that Noesi would pitch well if given a chance to start, but he has been a valuable asset in his current bullpen role.  However, if Hughes is kept in the rotation like he should be, and he does not allow three runs or less in his next start something has to be done.

Derek Jeter was the offensive “star” for the Yankees as he was the only player with more than one hit, driving in Eduardo Nunez for the first run of the game in the top of the third, and also adding another single later in the game.

During the fifth inning in Tuesday’s game Francisco Cervelli hit a solo home run, but when he led off the fifth inning during Wednesday’s game he was only able to hit a fly ball to Crawford.

Hughes gave up Ortiz’s 28th homer with two outs in the fifth inning to deep center field to give the Red Sox a 4-1 lead.  Ortiz has been on fire recently bringing a 10 game hitting streak into Thursday’s game, with six multiple hit games and 11 RBI during that time period.

After striking out in his first two at bats against Beckett, Robinson Cano would hit a double to the Green Monster between the centerfielder and leftfielder, to score Mark Teixiera.  Chavez continued his scorching hitting as he wound up on third after a double (and an error), where Cano and Nick Swisher scored, after hitting a ball into the left corner, which would carom around preventing rookie Josh Reddick from fielding it cleanly.

At the end of the top of the sixth the Yankees edged the Red Sox 5-4 but it was all downhill from there.  Hughes would allow two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, off a double by long time Boston catcher Jason Varitek and Varitek’s run would be charged to him as reliever Boone Logan gave up a homer to left by MVP candidate Jacoby Ellsbury.

Luis Ayala, who had previously proved to have been a solid under the radar pickup by Cashman, gave up a two-run homer to Varitek in the eighth, but those runs would prove to be meaningless towards the outcome of the game.

The offense could not manage even a hit or a walk off of Beckett in the seventh, Daniel Bard in the eighth or closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.  Mark Teixiera did not show up in this game as he was 0-3 while leaving runners in scoring position with two outs twice.

In the top of the eighth, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher hit balls hard that appeared to be singles, but Marco Scutarto and Dustin Pedroia, respectively, fielded the short hops cleanly to get them out.

Gardner is now 6-54 as he could not reach base to keep the game alive with two outs in the ninth inning.  Jonathan Papelbon simply overpowered and outmatched him on three pitches.

Derek Jeter, who has been on a tear since the beginning of August, passed Craig Biggio with his 3,061st career hit.

According to Kim Jones, Jesus Montero will likely start at Designated Hitter in Thursday’s series finale since they are facing Jon Lester and Montero excels against southpaws.  It will help if he could be the everyday DH against lefties because they have not been getting consistent production out of that spot, but it is more important that they get reliable production from their starters for the rest of the season, especially the four and five spots.

Jon Lester will be pitching for the Red Sox tonight.  He has a 14-6 record with a 3.09 ERA, having allowed one run in each of his past three starts.  However, in three starts against the Yankees this season, the Bronx Bombers has solved him as they scored 10 runs in 18 innings (5.00 ERA).

His story is impressive because he was diagnosed with Lymphoma on August 31st, 2006, but he was able to recover fully as evidenced by winning the final game of the 2007 World Series.

Preview of the series against Boston, Yankees need to win the first game

The Yankees play the first of three games against the Red Sox in Boston tonight.  It will be crucial that the Yankees improve upon their dreadful 2-10 record against their rivals to the north, especially since they trail them by 1.5 games in the standings.

Boston comes into this series having won four out in their past two series against the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were out of the lineup last night with minor injuries, but tonight against the Red Sox only Jeter will make his return.  Somewhat surprisingly, with Jeter and Rodriguez out of the lineup, the Yankees are 7-0 this season.  When Rodriguez is out of the lineup and Jeter is playing, a bigger sample size because of AROD’s surgery, the team has a 24-17 record.

This proves how deep their lineup is and that their role players are able to step up like Nick Swisher, who has been on a home run binge recently with six out of his last eight hits being sent out of the park.

In order for the Yankees to continue their modest two-game winning streak, CC Sebathia, will have to pitch like he has against everybody else in the contest tonight.  He has not performed anything like the CY Young candidate that he is against the Red Sox this season.

Sebathia has 199 strikeouts and a 2.99 ERA on the season, but in his last start against the Red Sox he gave up seven runs in six innings.  In his four starts against the Yankees’ bitter rivals during this campaign he has a 7.20 ERA, having allowed 33 hits in 25 innings.  This will need to improve as he is the ace and will be relied upon to defeat the Red Sox in the playoffs as well.

John Lackey will be taking the hill for the Red Sox as his execution has been severely lacking this season compared to when he pitched for the Angels.  Lackey has a 12-9 record, which is not that bad, but he sports an ERA of 5.98.  The Yankees bats should be happy to see that number coming into the game.

Two more factors going against Lackey in this game are that in his career versus the Bronx Bombers, 21 starts, he has a 4.67 ERA, and he pitches worse at home (6.16 ERA) than he does on the road (5.75 ERA) even though neither are numbers to write home about.

On Wednesday, Phil Hughes (4-4, 6.46 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees while Red Sox ace Josh Beckett (11-5, 2.43 ERA) will take the hill.  Hughes’ numbers are not nearly as underwhelming since coming off the disabled list as he has allowed two runs or less in five of his seven starts.  However, in those other two games he allowed an alarming 13 runs combined.  If Hughes can allow three runs the Yankees will be competitive against Beckett.

In the series finale, on Thursday, the enigma that is A.J. Burnett (9-11, 5.31 ERA) will take on Boston’s second best pitcher, left Jon Lester (14-6, 3.09 ERA).  Burnett has allowed an alarming 16 runs in his last two starts and deserves to be demoted.  We will have to see as a decision should be coming soon.

It will be crucial that the three starters for the Yankees slow down Adrian Gonzalez (.345 and 103 RBI) and Jacoby Ellsbury (23 homers, 95 runs and 35 steals) who are both having unbelievable seasons.

MVP candidate Curtis Granderson is not hitting well this season against the Red Sox but he does have a solid .318 average against Lackey, for his career.  Cano is hitting .289 during his career against Lackey but is also struggling against the Red Sox this season.  Brett Gardner continues the same pattern as Cano and Granderson.

They Yankees need to at least win this game since most of the team has impressive numbers against Lackey.  Hopefully they can steal one of the others against Beckett or Lester.  They will also need future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera, to not blow a save during this series like he has had somewhat of a propensity of doing in the past.

Yankees split four game set in Baltimore, before their clash with the Red Sox

The Yankees defeated the Orioles, 3-2, behind timely hitting and effective pitching all around by Freddy Garcia as well as the bullpen.  This win gave them a split of the interrupted four-game series against the last place Orioles, in Baltimore.

Freddy Garcia only allowed four base runners during his very solid first start after returning from his short stint on the disabled list.  The only run that he allowed was a homer to the free swinging Mark Reynolds, who can usually be counted on hitting a ball out of the park or striking out.

Garcia has a stellar 3.09 ERA, while continuing his pre disabled list ownership of the American League with his sixth straight start allowing three runs or less.  More impressively, in four of those starts he has allowed one run or less.

Down the stretch their will be a three-way battle between Garcia, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes for the number three spot in the Yankees playoff rotation.  As of now, Garcia should get the edge because he has been battle tested, pitching in many more big games during his career than Nova or Hughes.  Nobody would have thought that Bartolo Colon and Garcia could have been the two and three starters for the Yankes, in the playoffs, at the beginning of the season.

Mark Teixiera got the scoring started in the first hitting a double to drive in Curtis Granderson, for his 100th RBI, which is his sixth season driving in 100 runs or more.  Teixiera continued his recent surge at the plate as he is 6-12 in his last three games

In the fourth inning, Nick Swisher would give the Yankees all the scoring they would need off of Alfred Simon as his homer to deep right drove in Robinson Cano. Six of Swisher’s last eight hits have been home runs which is unbelievable.  He now has a .267 average, with 21 homers and 77 RBI’s, which is a total reversal of fortune from how he was hitting earlier in the season.

The normally perfect David Robertson, who had not surrendered a run in his last 13 appearances, actually gave up a home run to J.J. Hardy, to deep left center, to make the game interesting.  However Robertson, also known as Houdini, would buckle down afterwards, striking out two in the inning while getting the hold.

Mariano Rivera has more saves against the Orioles than against any other team.  That is not all that surprising since they are in the AL East and have struggled for much of Rivera’s career.

He entered the game with a 3-2 lead facing Vladimir Guerrero.  Rivera would tip the ball with his glove, so that Cano could field it near second and make a strong throw to Teixiera at first.  He would go on to retire the side in order like he has so many times during his Hall of Fame career.

Rivera has now been perfect in his last five innings, not allowing a walk or hit during those games.  The last time he faltered was during three games against the Angels and Red Sox.  The Yankees will now be facing the Red Sox for three games in Boston, so hopefully Rivera can start as well as CC Sebathia can dominate the Red Sox.

They now trail the Red Sox by 1.5 games and are 2-10 in the season series.  Sebathia, (17-7, 2.99 ERA) the Yankees ace, has had a CY Young caliber season and would be a lock for the award over Justin Verlander if it was not for his struggles against Boston.

During four starts this season against the Red Sox, he has a sky-high 7.20 ERA, with a 1.72 WHIP and 10 walks in 25 innings.  He will pitch tonight, against John Lackey, (5.98 ERA) who lacks a decent ERA.  Hopefully Sebathia will be able to execute his pitches and pitch well tonight like he has against the rest of the AL East.  He has been a workhorse for the team, throwing at least seven innings in his last 14 starts, receiving the win in nine of those decisions.

The Red Sox and Yankees will clash three more times after this three game set in Boston, and these six games will go a long way towards deciding who gets to win the division and thus face the Detroit Tigers in the first round of the playoffs.

The Yankees were again without the duo of Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez but were still able to win the last two games without them.  There is a chance that both will play during the  series in Boston.

Rivera is now only eight saves away (592) from Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list so he should be able to pass him before the end of the season.