Category: Freddy Garcia

Yankees offense fell flat against Toronto, need a win today before attempting to sting the Rays

The Yankees had a chance to push their lead in the American League East to 5 games, with 10 games remaining, but Brandon Morrow pitched eight dominating innings for the Blue Jays in their 3-0 victory.

This loss, in a game where Freddy Garcia was only able to pitch 4.2 innings, closed out their three city road trip where they only went 4-5.  Luckily, the Red Sox are 2-8 in their last 10 games so the Yankees did not lose ground in the standings.  The Red Sox now only have a two game lead in the Wild Card over the Rays after losing three out of four in the series that ended on Sunday.

Morrow only gave up four hits in his eight innings and has owned the Yankees offense this season pitching to a 1.74 ERA in three starts.  However, the Bronx Bombers did not exactly send out the A lineup as Eric Chavez replaced Mark Teixiera at first, Ramiro Pena was the shortstop giving Derek Jeter the day off and Chris Dickerson got a rare start as Curtis Granderson didn’t play as a result of having a very low career average against Morrow.

All-Star second-baseman Robinson Cano got half the game off, as he was the Designated Hitter and Eduardo Nunez got the start at second base.  Nunez was the only player who really showed up on offense as he improved his average from .254 to .261 with his three hits.

Another troubling sign about this game, in addition to the offensive ineptitude, was that Garcia had his third consecutive subpar start.  He only gave up three runs, but Girardi took him out at the right time since he gave up five hits and three walks including two solo home runs to Adam Lind.  In his two previous starts Garcia had allowed five and seven runs, respectively.  Hopefully this is not a sign of what is to come as he will be needed to be relied upon as the fourth starter in the playoffs.

The Yankees bullpen continued to be a bright spot as they were lead by Luis Ayala who pitched 1.1 perfect innings, and Raul Valdes who pitched 1.1 innings, only allowing one hit in his first appearance for the team.

The imminent Comeback Player of the Year, Bartolo Colon, who was the other pre Spring Training signing to a cheap contract, also struggled mightily in his last start, on Saturday, against the Blue Jays.  However, this was not totally unexpected as he has a 7.99 ERA and a .327 BAA in five starts against Toronto this season.  He should be the Yankees number three starter in the playoffs.

If Manager Joe Girardi would have trotted out all of his regulars they could have had a 5.5 game lead over the Red Sox heading into their makeup game against the Twins, in the Bronx, on Monday afternoon.  It is impossible to win when you don’t put any runs on the board and having all the normal starters playing would have surely helped the offensive attack.

However, this was the last chance for Girardi to give some of his injured players a day off as the rest of their games down the stretch are all critical.  It is almost guaranteed that the Yankees will win the division, since they are up by 4.5 games with 10 games left but it is important to go into the playoffs with momentum.

In today’s matinee tilt against the Twins A.J. Burnett will be pitching who comes into the contest with a 5.20 ERA and 10 wins.  He is lucky to have that many wins as Colon has eight wins but a very respectable 3.81 ERA.  This should be Burnett’s last start of the season as he has mysteriously received a few extra starts since Girardi decided to stick with the six man rotation.

The Twins rookie, Scott Diamond, who is from Ontario, Canada, will be pitching for the Twins.  Diamond went to SUNY Binghamton, in upstate New York, which is not known for producing professional baseball players.   He has made only five starts after coming up from AAA Rochester and has one win with a 3.94 ERA.

Minnesota is the worst team in the American League so the Yankees need to win this game before the Tampa Bay Rays invade the Bronx for three games.  The Yankees are in as strange position during the series with Tampa since sweeping the series will drastically help the Red Sox win the Wild Card.

Also, on Saturday, Granderson became the only Yankee besides Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth to have had seasons of at least 20 doubles, 10 triples and 40 homers.  He has joined exclusive company as those are three of the best players of all time.

Recap of Yankees vs. Blue Jays, Rivera sets another record

The Yankees were able to beat the Blue Jays in convincing fashion, 7-3, Wednesday afternoon.  With the win, the Bronx Bombers won their third series in a row.  The game was also filled with two milestones, one noteworthy, and the other one was not nearly as memorable.

Mariano Rivera, whose 572 saves are second only to the 601 that Trevor Hoffman has, became the first pitcher in baseball history to make 1,000 appearances on the same team.  In this category, Hoffman is second since he appeared in 902 of his 1,035 games with the Padres.  This proves how durable and valuable Rivera has been to the Yankee organization.  He has been an integral part in the organization making the playoffs 15 times, and winning five World Series championships.  His cut fastball is a phenomenon in it of itself because hitters know it is coming but they still can’t hit it.  Rivera pitched the ninth, in a non-save situation, and allowed one hit in an otherwise perfect outing.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Yankees bats were able to come alive against Jo-Jo Reyes unlike Tuesday night when they only scored one run in seven innings off of ace Ricky Romero.  They scored five runs of Reyes, highlighted by two run blasts by Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones.  With this shaky performance Reyes tied the record for most consecutive starts without a win.  This was his 28th start in a row without a win, dating back to 2008.
Curtis Granderson was able to continue his impressive hitting off of lefties, hitting a double to right field scoring Derek Jeter.  He was also able to get on base again in the third inning via a single of Reyes, and was able to score off of Teixeira’s home run.  Ever since last August when he received the special instruction from Kevin Long, he has been like a totally new hitter, especially against lefties.  Last season he only had a .234 average and four homers against lefties, but so far this season he is hitting .296 with eight home runs against southpaws.
Freddy Garcia and the three relief pitchers were able to successfully limit the production of Jose Bautista who did not have any homers or RBI.  This is key when facing the Blue Jays because Bautista is their only true power threat.  They have had trouble finding anybody that makes sense to give him protection batting cleanup, having recently put Yunel Escobar and Juan Rivera behind him in the lineup.
Garcia had yet another solid start after giving up three runs in 6.1 innings.  The Blue Jays had eight hits off of him but not giving up any walks proves that he didn’t hurt himself which is key.  This was his second quality start in a row and it is safe to say that he has surpassed expectations so far.
With expensive offseason addition Rafael Soriano, who is likely out more than two months with an inflamed ligament in his right elbow, the new end of the bullpen combination of David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless 2 2/3 innings.  Brian Cashman is probably thinking “I told you so” right now because he was never truly in favor of the signing.
All of his acquisitions are doing well right now, and one who had a monster game after previously struggling was Andruw Jones.  He started the season hitting well but had only been hitting 2 for 22 in his last eight games played.  However, he was able to show some of the power that he often displayed earlier in his career hitting two home runs, driving in four runs, while going a perfect three for three at the plate.
The Yankees were even able to steal three bases off of Jose Molina.  They now have Thursday off as the team travels to Seattle for their first west coast trip of the season.  They have three games each against the Mariners, Athletics and Angels and on Friday they will face rookie Michael Pineda who has been one of the best pitchers in the American League so far.
Right now, the Yankees (27-21) are only ahead of the Red Sox (27-22) by half a game in the AL East, and the last place Orioles are only 3.5 games behind.  This will likely continue for some time because the Orioles and Blue Jays are both solid but likely will not contend for the playoffs come September.

>Lineups, pitchers and analysis for Game 3 against the Red Sox

>Freddy Garcia (2-2, 2.61) vs. Jon Lester (4-1, 2.96)

Yankees 20-17, 13-10 at home
Derek Jeter SS .267
Curtis Granderson CF .281
Mark Teixeira 1B .252
Alex Rodriguez 3B .254
Robinson Cano 2B .252
Nick Swisher RF C .222
Andruw Jones DH .229
Russell Martin C .245
Brett Gardner LF .259
Red Sox 19-20, 8-11 on the road
Jacoby Ellsbury CF .301
Dustin Pedroia 2B .253
Adrian Gonzalez 1B .325
Kevin Youkilis 3B .240
David Ortiz DH .284
J.D. Drew SS .238
Jed Lowrie RF .325
Carl Crawford LF .213
Jarod Saltamacchia C .203
One through five in the Yankees order is status quo but Posada is out of the lineup a day after he said he needed a “mental day”.  It is unclear if Posada has the night off because of his horrible stats against Lester or because of his actions from Saturday.  At least Posada has handled himself better today than yesterday since he said all the right things to Girardi today.
“I just talked to Girardi, and I kind of apologized to him. Just had a bad day.  Had a bad day yesterday.  Reflecting on it and stuff, everything, all the frustration just came out.”
 
Swisher and Jones move up from the bottom of the order, but it is somewhat confusing that Martin is batting eighth because he should be hitting sixth based on his stats compared to Swisher.  The Red Sox will have Saltamacchia doing the catching instead of Varitek who was behind the plate last night.  The Yankees failure with the runners in scoring position has continued in the first two games against the Red Sox, so hopefully they will be able to flip the switch against Lester.  This will be a challenge against Lester, but maybe he will pitch more like he did in his last start against Toronto, where he gave up five runs, than his six dominating starts before that.  Also, Garcia will need to hold the Red Sox to three runs or less and the Yankees must play fundamental baseball in the field.

>Yankees look to correct their mistakes to defeat the rival Red Sox

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The Yankees come off a very disappointing series against the Royals where they lost two of three.  The Red Sox got swept during their two game set against the Blue Jays in Toronto.  Starting Friday night, at 7:05, they will play three games in the Bronx and the Yankees hope they can keep Boston in last place.  Boston is 6-11 on the road so far, but after getting of to a 2-10 start they have rebounded to win 15 of their next 25 games.   
So far this season, the Yankees have had three games against the Red Sox, losing two out of three in the beginning of April. John Lackey recorded one of the wins for the Red Sox in that series but unfortunately the Yankees offense will not have the privilege of facing him this weekend.  Lackey, who the Yankees scored six runs off of in that loss, has only recorded three quality starts out of seven and has a dreadful 8.01 ERA.  In this series the Yankees will face the Red Sox three best pitchers.  
In tonight’s game the resurgent Bartolo Colon, who is coming of his worst start of the season against the Rangers, will face Clay Bucholz.  Bucholz has dominating stuff but is off to a somewhat weak start based off his 4.19 ERA.  He is coming off two solid starts but has struggled throughout his career against the Yankees allowing 22 runs in 31 and two-thirds innings.  During the Saturday game, on FOX, the aces will square off as CC Sebathia (3-2, 2.89) and Josh Beckett (2-1, 1.99) will take the hill.  ESPN will have the game on Sunday, as Freddy Garcia (2-2, 2.61, 1.31 WHIP) will match-up against Jon Lester (4-1, 2.96, 1.22 WHIP).  The battle tested Garcia is coming off a start where he only allowed one run and continued to show signs of the pitcher he used to be whereas Lester struggled in his last start against the Blue Jays. 
A major issue that needs to be corrected is that they have 12 errors in their last seven games, and on the season they are 11th out of 14 teams in team defense.  The major culprit has been Eduardo Nunez who has five errors in only 10 games played.  Defensively they well have to play fundamental baseball while throwing to the right base if they want to win this series.  The Yankees have six players with at least two errors so far. 
In addition, the Yankees could really use their bats to wake up with the increased temperature.  Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have all recently been struggling at the plate.  Posada, whose best years are behind him, has at least contributed six home runs so far, but has a dreadful average of .162 and in his last seven games only has three hits.  Rodriguez and Teixeira have been more productive but they need to go back to forming the lethal three-four combination that they were last season. 
Swisher, one of the players looking for a turn-around was interviewed today on 1050 ESPN Radio and is optimistic.  He said that “I feel strong and confident and I will turn it around soon.  We have K Long right in our corner, the hitting guru in all of our eyes.  We feel great right now, confident in our abilities and we hope everybody else does too.” 
Swisher (.218 so far) proved that he can succeed as a Yankee because he is coming off an All-Star season in 2010, so hopefully his hard work with Kevin Long will pay-off.  If he can come up with a clutch hit late in the game, or even a game winner in the bottom of the ninth and get another pie thrown at him from A.J. Burnett, that will really help his psyche going forward. 
Along with the continued success if the Yankees pitching staff, the offense needs to come through with greater regularity with runners in scoring position in order to win the series.  The number of ground balls and double plays by the Yankees offense to this point has been unacceptable and hopefully this changes this weekend.       
If the Yankees can win two out of three, with the first two being the most likely, this series can be considered a success.  Winning two out of three would equal a split of the six game home-stand, which would be somewhat of a disappointment.  Winning four out of five would have been expected but the Yankees underperformed against the Royals.  Hopefully they can correct their shortcomings against the rival Red Sox.
(Unfortunately I could not upload my post from yesterday because the site was down until early this afternoon.)

>Preview of the Yankees series against the Royals

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The Yankees begin a three game series tonight at 7:05 against the Kansas City Royals. 
The Royals, find themselves in second place in the AL Central with a 18-16 record, have outperformed expectations to this point.  The Yankees – with their sloppy defense, pitching issues and the underperforming Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner and to a lesser extend Derek Jeter – can be satisfied with being tied for first with a 19-13 record.
For the first game of the series Freddy Garcia will face Kyle Davies.  He was drafted by the Braves and was traded to the Royals in exchange for Octavio Dotel on July 31st, 2007.  Davies has been a starting pitcher for Kansas City since then never really living up to expectations.  Part of his claim to fame is giving up Alex Rodriguez’s 500th career home run.  Since his rookie season, in 2005, he has compiled a 40-51 record, with a 5.46 ERA.  So far this season he has a 1-4 record, a 7.32 ERA, a less than mediocre WHIP of 1.77 and has allowed 11 runs in his last two starts.  In addition, Davies has a 10.00 ERA in four road starts this season.
Garcia has not pitched as well as Bartolo Colon, who was the other veteran right hander who the Yankees took a chance on, but the Yankees could not have asked too much more of him thus far.  He is coming off a season where he had 12 wins and a 4.64 ERA for the Chicago White Sox, and so far it seems like he will improve on those numbers if he stays healthy.  Garcia has a 1-2 record, a 2.88 ERA and a respectable 1.32 WHIP.  He is coming off his worst start of the season, where he allowed four runs in seven innings, but he recorded his highest strikeout total of eight. 
The Yankees will have the pitching edge in their favor, and their offense should be able to score many runs off Davies.
So far this season the Royals have been lead by two players who have previously played for the Yankees and one who has played with the Mets.  Melky Cabrera, who played for the Yankees from 2005-2009, has hit .283 so far with three home runs, 21 RBI and three steals.  Wilson Betemit, played with the Bronx Bombers from 2007-2008 with limited success, is hitting .309 with 16 RBI.  Jeff Francoeur, played for the Mets in 2009 and most of 2010, is leading the Royals in home runs with eight, and is also sporting a .302 average with 24 RBI.  It is hard to believe that this will continue since Francoeur often gets off to fast starts and then cools down. 
Other players to watch out for include former highly regarded third base prospect Alex Gordon who has a .309 average (now playing left field/first base), Billy Butler who his hitting .294 with three home runs, and the recently called up Eric Hosmer who was blistering AAA pitching to the tune of a .439 average.  However, they lack any established stars or any players that hit for true power. 
On Wednesday, Bruce Chen will pitch against A.J Burnett, which upon first glance appears to be a fairly even pitching matchup.  However, Chen’s career stats are worse than his 3.59 ERA so far this season and over 12 starts he has a 6.71 ERA against the Yankees.  He has not faced many lineups with the Yankees’ power so far either.  Burnett is coming off a start where he only allowed two earned runs but was hurt by errors in the field.
The final game of the series will see Ivan Nova start for the Yankees (3-2, 4.08) and Sean O’Sullivan (1-2, 3.41) take the hill for the Royals.  Nova is coming off three solid performances in a row, while O’Sullivan has down the same but not with the dominance of Nova.  A troubling sign for O’Sullivan is that he has allowed the same number of strikeouts (14) as walks on the season.
The Yankees will send out their normal lineup of Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada, Russell Martin, and Brett Gardner to start the series. 
Kansas City is only 3-8 so far this season on the road and that is a sign of a team that is not truly as good as its record indicates.  It would be a disappointment if the Yankees don’t sweep or win two out of the three games against the Royals.  They will be able to do this if they can limit their errors, drive in runners in scoring position and continue the solid pitching.             

>Offense falls flat but Liriano is intriguing

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Francisco Liriano pitched the first no hitter of the season for the Twins on Tuesday.  He was an intriguing pitcher for the Yankees to acquire after Cliff Lee went to the Phillies and Andy Pettitte retired, and now his name comes to the forefront again.  
Against the Tigers, on May 4th the Yankees lost a game where Max Scherzer flat out dominated and they were not able to play small ball in order to score any runs in the 4-0 loss.  It was only the second two game losing streak of the season.  Freddy Garcia allowed one run in the second, and three in the third, but bounced back to pitch effectively for the next four innings.  For his last two starts Garcia has pitched more like the average pitcher that he has been the last two years, and less like the excellent pitcher that he was with the Mariners early in his career.
The offense needs to figure out how to put some runs together because they only scored two runs when they faced a mediocre Brad Penny, and then got shutout against Scherzer.  They are a little too reliant on the home run, having scored the highest percentage of their runs in the league off the long ball.  However, it is likely that they will be able to capitalize during a matinee game when they face Rick Porcello, to close out the series against the Tigers.  He has pitched better recently after a sluggish start to the season but he has struggled to live up to expectations.  The Yankees are only hitting .255 collectively against Porcello in a limited number of at bats.  The Yankees should be able to put some runs on the board off a young pitcher still trying to find himself.
 
Bartolo Colon is pitching brilliantly to start the season but his history with injuries suggests that this might not be able to last the whole season.  Since Phil Hughes will be out recovering from his shoulder inflammation injury for six to eight weeks, and possibly longer, it will be necessary for the Yankees to explore all options for a pitching upgrade.  Even though Colon did not pitch at all last season it seems like he will be more reliable than Garcia because of his command and confidence on the mound.  Colon has not shown any signs of slowing down, continuing to show stellar control during his first start in May where he did not allow a single walk, so it seems like he might be trusted to stay in the rotation the whole season.
The no-hitter by Liriano was by far his best start of the season since he now has an ERA of 6.61 with more walks than strikeouts.  However when healthy he has proven that he has the ability to dominate American League hitters like he did last season and in 2006, when he was an All-Star.  He is a slight injury risk so the Yankees should wait until the middle of July to see if he is able to stay healthy and pitching effectively.  Liriano is only 27, so he is entering the prime of his career and there is a chance that the injury bug is behind him.
Garcia could be effective as a long man out of the bullpen if the Yankees do acquire Liriano after the trade deadline.  If the Yankees can get his services without having to give up the stars of their minor league system in Miguel Montero, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances or Andrew Brackman they should make the deal.  If forced to give up one of the “Killer B’s” I would give up Brackman since he seems to have the least potential for excellence.  If they have to include Ivan Nova then they can call up somebody like Hector Noesi to take his spot.  The Twins might be encouraged to make a deal like this, for Nova and a position player because they would not want to lose Liriano for nothing.  A rotation of Sebathia, Liriano, Burnett, Hughes and potentially Banuelos next season would be very effective.   
A factor in the Yankees favor is that Scherzer is from Morristown, New Jersey, which is not far from the Bronx, so even though the game is in Detroit, he will likely have a lot of nerves facing his hometown team.