Category: Jorge Posada

>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 need to score runs for their ace

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In the first game against the Boston Red Sox on Friday night the Yankees troubling patterns continued which prevented them from winning the game.  They ended up losing 5-4 in a game they should have been able to win based on a strong start by Bartolo Colon. 
In the seventh inning with the game still tied Robinson Cano had the chance to convert a double play he bobbled the throw to first.  He never got the throw off and if he did Kevin Youkilis might have never hit his two run home run to make the score 5-2.  Little miscues like that go a long way towards winning or losing  and if he would have finished off the double play it is likely that Joba Chamberlain does not give up that home run. 
The Yankees ended up having some success against the Red Sox bullpen scoring one run off of Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon but they could not capitalize effectively with runners in scoring position, once again.  The offense left eight runners on base and Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira need to start to produce for the Yankees to win.  Curtis Granderson has proven to be a clutch hitter and has completely turned it around since last August but the rest of the lineup needs to do the same. 
Chamberlain can partly be blamed for this loss, but his two earned runs were the first runs that he has given up after having gone six scoreless innings.  He should not have allowed the home run but the offense is more at fault for this loss.  They spoiled yet another solid pitching performance by a starting pitcher.  This loss hurts even more because the Yankees are now 1-3 against the Red Sox who are only three games behind them in the standings, at this point. 
It is important that the Yankees win the next two games so that they can salvage a split in this six game home-stand.  They want to win as many games as possible against the Red Sox because this will likely be a three way race between the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees.     
Tonight, in a game televised on FOX, at 7:10, CC Sebathia will look to outduel Josh Beckett this time.  Earlier in the season, the Red Sox ace got the upper hand, so hopefully Sebathia can help give the Yankees a much needed win.  The offense will hopefully find a way to play small ball, as well as hit the ball out of the park, and get hits with runners in scoring position, in order to give CC his fourth win of the campaign.   

>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.)

>Nova Records Second Win in a Row and Yanks Look to Start a Winning Streak

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Ivan Nova dominated once again in the Yankees 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Friday night.  The offense did not bounce back but Curtis Granderson continued his hot start to the season.  However, a win is all that matters, and the Yankees came away with one
Nova had his longest start of his career, pitching into the eighth inning for the first time, where he recorded one out and then was taken out.  He allowed one run but it was unearned because of Mark Teixeira’s error and only two hits during arguably his best outing of his career.   The Yankees could not have asked for any more from Nova over the last two weeks where he has pitched 19 innings over his last three starts and only allowed three earned runs.
He appears to be a starter who might be counted on for the long haul because four of his six starts have been solid.  Nova’s confidence will help him when he goes through a dry spell because he will be able to remember early in the season when he pitched well.  His strikeout to walk ratio of 18 to 16 does not seem promising at first glance but he is not really a strikeout pitcher, and in two out of his last three starts he has allowed two walks or less. 
The combination of Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera gave Nova his third victory while only allowing one hit combined in one and two-thirds innings.  If Soriano and Rivera continue to pitch like they are capable they will likely have been the most successful set up and closer combination in baseball by the end of the season.  Soriano now has nine “holds” and is inching his ERA back to respectability after a rocky start to the season.
Granderson pushed himself back into first place in home runs in the American League with his two upper deck home runs.  Derek Jeter hit a single to leadoff the game and Granderson drove him in with his first home run, and then he hit a solo shot in the seventh.  On the flip side, Brett Gardner, Jorge Posada and Mark Teixiera failed to record a single hit.  The Yankees have scored the highest percentage of runs of the long ball out of any team in baseball and this was the theme once again.
In the second game of the series, the best bargain in baseball, Bartolo Colon, faces Derek Holland who only has a 4.66 ERA.  Nick Swisher replaces Bret Gardner in the lineup, while Andruw Jones gets his second straight start against one of his former teams.  Posada needs to start to string together some hits so that he can justify his spot as the Designated Hitter, since his average currently sits at .149.
  

>Issues Entering a Seven Game Road Trip

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As the Yankees enter a seven-game road trip, against the Tigers and then the White Sox, they have proven that the two game skid from early last week has not affected them.  They have now won four of their last five games, against the Blue Jays and White Sox, and have proven to be a resilient team because they are winning without Phil Hughes or much contribution from Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Brett Gardner or Nick Swisher.

A positive sign is that the back end of the bullpen has bounced back after a few shaky performances by Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano.  Rivera was not like his normal dominant self, giving up blown saves on April 19th against the Blue Jays, as well as April 24th against the Orioles.  Luckily, the Yankees were able to come back in extra innings to win against Baltimore but the performance was still slightly alarming.  Soriano has had somewhat of a surprising start to his Yankee career considering his utter dominance from last season.  This continued when he allowed one run and two runs, respectively, in Yankee losses to the White Sox on the 25th and 26th    

However, these struggles by Rivera and Soriano were never that much of a concern because Soriano and especially Rivera’s track record has been outstanding.  Rivera is most likely the best closer of all time and Soriano was an All-Star and led the league in saves last season.  Soriano has recently returned to respectability recording consecutive holds during the eighth inning, on Saturday and Sunday, only giving up a hit and a walk combined.  In three appearances since the 24th Rivera has gone onto only allow one base hit while converting three saves.

Those two players have broken out of their mini slumps but four players on offense could use some intervention from hitting Coach Kevin Long.  Curtis Granderson met with him last August in Texas to revamp his swing and since then he has hit 22 home runs, which is the 3rd highest total in baseball behind Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki. 

Gardner seems to be showing signs of a turn-around having five hits in his last eight at bats, with a home run and a stolen base.  His .200 average is still not where it should be but all the Yankees can ask for is for him to continue hitting the way he has the last four games.  Gardner plays excellent defense and is able to catch many fly balls that other outfielders are not able to.  Swisher had a breakout year last season and is only batting .218 so far.  He showed signs of last season’s form with on April 28th against his former team, the White Sox, hitting three hits and his first home run of the campaign.

The last two struggling Yankees are Jeter and Posada.  It is hard to tell whether it is their advanced age catching up to them, a prolonged slump or a combination of the two.  Jeter is 36 while Posada is 39, and that is what might be causing them to produce stats much less than their career average.  Jeter is hitting .242 with only six RBI and is hitting ground balls at an alarming rate.  Posada is only batting .133 but his six home runs is slightly encouraging.  However, a slugging percentage of .387 and 12 RBI so far is not typical production form a Designated Hitter.  Hopefully Long can tweak something with their swing to help them getting on base and produce runs like they are accustomed to.

This probably will not happen but it would make sense to bat Jeter seventh or eighth in the lineup.  He is only 51 hits away from joining the 3,000 hit club, which will be a major accomplishment, so he will probably continue batting leadoff until then.  This will give him as many opportunities as possible but afterwards I would bat him seventh or eighth.   Once he moves down in the order it would make sense to leadoff Gardner since he has so much speed. This would be best for the team. 

A change that was made which was a very smart decision by Joe Girardi was hitting Granderson second in the lineup.  This should continue for the foreseeable future because he is currently not showing any flaws in his swing, while hitting for power and average.

The pitching matchups for the series against the Tigers at Comerica Park sees Bartolo Colon face Justin Verlander, CC Sebathia matches up against Brad Penny, Freddy Garcia takes on Max Scherzer and A.J. Burnett battles Rick Porcello.  I could see the Yankees winning three out of four with the loss coming on Wednesday against Scherzer.  Even though Garcia has the much lower ERA he showed signs of ineffectiveness and loss of control in his last start. 

Tonight the Yankees are facing Verlander, who is one of the best pitchers in the American League, but Colon has pitched like an ace so far, so it seems like the game could be a pitcher’s duel.  The Yankees will have the edge if the game gets to a battle of the back end of the bullpen.