Tagged: CC Sebathia

Yankees head into Oakland with momentum

Gardner displaying his speed.

Gardner displaying his speed.

After winning three out of four games in Seattle against the third place Mariners, the Yankees are now about to start a three-game series in Oakland. Going back to the last day of May, the Yankees have now won seven of their last 10 games, which includes winning six of their last seven games.

The previous series against the Mariners can be considered a success since they won the series and got the victory in the game that Felix Hernandex pitched. The Yankees only scored one run off of King Felix, in the 2-1 victory, but David Phelps had his second quality start in a row.

The final game of the series in Seattle also saw Brett Gardner have four hits in five at bats. He also drove in a run and picked up a steal on his way to being named the American League Player of the Week. He stole his 10th base and already has 27 RBI and six homers, which is one shy of his career high.

In their last three games (two wins), the Yankees’ offense has scored only six runs, but Gardner has eight hits in that span and is on a seven-game hitting streak that has seen his average rise from .256 before the streak to .284. He has consistently been hitting leadoff and is perfect for that role because of his speed and ability to get on base.

In the past four games, the bullpen was another strength since in 8.1 innings they did not allow any runs. This has been a theme basically all season for the relievers. However, the one exception might be Joba Chamberlain.

The Yankees will now face the Oakland Athletics, who are in second place in the AL West, with an impressive 38-27 record. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but lost their last two games to the White Sox. Oakland also has an effective pitching staff as only one reliever has an ERA over 2.57, and they have four solid starters including Jarrod Parker, Bartolo Colon, Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin.

Bartolo Colon (7-2, 3.14 ERA), who had a 4.00 ERA and 135 strikeouts for the Yankees in 2011, will pitch for the Athletics tonight. He is pitching like he is 30 and not 40. CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.74 ERA), the ace of the staff the past few years (Kuroda has been the best pitcher this season), will pitch for the Yankees. He usually pitches better as the temps get hotter, and in his last game he threw a complete game while striking out nine batters.

Here are the pitching matchups for the rest of the series:

Wednesday at 10:05 EST.

Phil Hughes (3-4, 4.80 ERA) vs RHP Dan Straily (3-2, 4.67 ERA) – (Phil Hughes has a 3.44 ERA in away games, which is much better than his record at home)

Thursday at 10:05 EST.

Hiroki Kuroda (6-5, 2.84 ERA) vs RHP Jarrod Parker (5-6, 4.68 ERA)

The Yankees are now two games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East and are tied with Oakland for the wild card. It would be a successful series if the Yankees can win two or three games against Oakland. Phil Hughes and David Phelps will need to continue to pitch well since in Michael Pineda’s first rehab start, he threw 42 out of his 68 pitches for strikes, and his fastball reached 94 MPH. He could be a factor after four or five rehab starts given his success as a rookie with Seattle.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A thrilling Wednesday night of baseball ends with the Red Sox missing the playoffs, with help from the Yankees

The action on Wednesday, September 28th was probably the most exciting evening of baseball in regular season history, and it surely ended well for the Yankees, even though they lost.

The first notable game was the Mets meaningless contest against the Cincinnati Reds, at Citi Field.  It did not have significance for either team because the Reds finished 11 games out of the Wild Card while the Mets finished the season 25 games out of first place, but the game was crucial in determining the batting champion.

Jose Reyes was only percentage points ahead of All-Star left-fielder, Ryan Braun, of the Brewers, before both teams played on Wednesday.  The batting title was very much up for grabs but Reyes did something that some people consider controversial.  He led off the game with a bunt single to give him a .337 average but then asked to be taken out of the game.  Braun “The Hebrew Hammer” went 0-4 in his contest against the Pirates giving him an end of season average of .332, which put him in second place.

I don’t really have a problem with this because Reyes was trying to secure basically the only highlight of the year for the Mets and this was the best way he thought he could accomplish it.  The Mets ended up winning, but if the Mets needed the game to make the playoffs it definitely would have been a major issue if Reyes pulled this stunt.

After possibly his last game with the Mets before leaving for greener pastures as a result of the Wilpon’s financial problems, he ends his stellar season with his batting crown, 101 runs scored, 181 hits, 16 triples and 39 steals.  However, this was only the beginning of the evening’s madness.

It seemed like there would be a one-game playoff between the Red Sox and Rays for the Wild Card, since it did appear as if Boston and Tampa would both lose, to the Orioles and the Yankees, respectively.  However, the Yankees bullpen, and the Baltimore’s Robert Andino, who drove in 10 runs against the Red Sox this season, did their part in allowing the Rays to win the Wild Card without the one-game playoff.

Some Red Sox fans might accuse the Yankees of tanking the game, since they were winning 7-0 at the end of the seventh inning, but then allowed seven runs to the Rays in the eighth and ninth combined, but there is not a problem with them playing the game like it was Spring Training since they had nothing to play for.  They earned this right after locking up the best record in the American League about a week ago.

Rookie Dellin Betances, who went to Grand Street Campus high school in Brooklyn, got the start, not allowing any runs in two innings.  I had been pitching out of the bullpen since being called up but this was valuable experience for him.  The Yankees would send out a grand total of 11 pitchers, but none of them would allow any runs until the seventh pitcher, Boone Logan (3.46 ERA), gave up three runs, which was in turn his worst outing of the season.  Luis Ayala pitched until there was one out in the ninth an surrendered three runs as well, to make the score 7-6.

Corey Wade, who was a very valuable under the rader signing by Brian Cashman, would come in to try and lock down the save.  Dan Johnson would be the first hero of the night for the Rays as he slammed a home run to right field, to put the game into extra innings.

The Yankees offensive star of the game, who drove in more than half of their runs, was Mark Teixiera.  He hit two homers (his 39th) for a grand total of five RBI (his 111th), but was taken out as were all of the starters except for Brandon Laird and Eduardo Nunez.

This is when the night started getting really dramatic because Scott Proctor was the final pitcher for the Yankees.  This gave the Rays the best chance at winning because he has struggled this go around for the team as well as when the pitched in the Bronx in 2007.  Just about at this point the Red Sox game was entering the ninth inning as their closer, Jonathan Papelbon, entered the game with a 3-2 lead.

For fans of the Yankees and Rays this turn of events definitely gave off optimism.

Proctor kept everybody in suspense while not allowing any runs during his first two innings, but right on cue he allowed a homer to Rays star Evan Longoria, in the 12th inning, that just barely cleared the fence and would start a celebration at Tropicana Field.  Seven of the runs that the Rays scored were off pitchers who have been productive for the Yankees most of the year so the talk of tanking the game is not really valid.

Only about three minutes later, Red Sox nation went from hoping for a one-game playoff to missing the playoffs altogether.  Papelbon has recently not been very reliable in save situations and this trend would continue.  Nolan Reimold (.247 average) hit a run scoring ground-rule double to tie the game, and the next batter, Andino, hit a single near Carl Crawford, scored Reimold and starting a celebration as if the Orioles made the playoffs.

It seemed like Crawford could have caught the ball, and he also did not give a very valiant throw to home in an effort to throw out Reimold, but he was just making sure that Boston ended their collapse in style.  They ended September with 20 losses, which is a worse September than the worst team of all-time the 1962 Mets, and they have the Orioles to thank for not winning the Wild Card as a result of five or of their last six games to them.

This was an exhilarating night of baseball as the National League Wild Card came down to a similar situation as well.  The Braves ended their collapse, which was almost as historic as the Red Sox one, and the St. Louis Cardinals seized the Wild Card spot and a first-round meeting with the Philadelphia Phillies.

After resting the starters for a portion of the game, and giving the reliable bullpen trio of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera the day off the team should be ready for the AL Central champion Tigers and Justin Verlander on Friday.  It is imposing to have to face Verlander who has a 24-5 record, a 2.40 ERA, 250 strikeouts and has not lost in more than 10 starts.

However, in 11 starts against the Yankees during his career Verlander has a 4.00 ERA.  CC Sebathia will be pitching Friday night for the Yankees so this will be a classic match-up of aces.  The Yankees actually have not played the Tigers since May but they split the six-game season series against them.  The Yankees definitely need to take advantage of the games that Verlander is not pitching and if they can do that they should come away with a a trip to the ALCS.

Yankees clinch 17th AL East championship as Posada gets his one shining moment

With the win over the Tampa Bay Rays the Yankees were able to win their 17th American League East Championship.  They were able to do it after winning both games of the double header 4-2, combined with the Red Sox losing to the Baltimore Orioles.

This was Boston’s third loss in four games to the last place Orioles, who have done a great job of playing spoiler during the last two weeks of the season.  It is not very likely that the Red Sox will blow a 2.5 game lead with six games remaining but anything is impossible for them since they have lost 12 out of their last 15.  The Yankees have continued to help Boston by beating Tampa but the Red Sox have not been able to take advantage in the last few days.

It was very fitting that a member of the Core Four, Jorge Posada (who is 40), who rightfully got relegated to the bench with Jesus Montero’s arrival, was able to contribute a pinch-hit, two RBI, single to shallow center, that drove in Greg Golson and Mark Teixiera.  After having been such an important member of the Yankees since 1998 he was able to have a positive signature moment to join the two other members of the Core Four on the Yankees.

(I am sure this was an extra special moment for Posada because this game winning hit somewhat erases the incident of asking out of a game in which he was originally scheduled to hit ninth in the order.  At that time he was having trouble internalizing that he was not the player he once was, and he also deep down wanted to still be catching since he is a proud person, but now he has it in his head that he will be the best pinch-hitter he can be for the team.  His .239 average is not what he would like it to be but he has had some clutch hits towards the end of games since having his full-time DH duties taken from him.)

The members of the Core Four are Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte.  However, Pettitte retired before season to be with his kids in Texas leaving the number at three.  Jeter’s signature moment was slugging his 3,000th hit over the fence at Yankee Stadium, on July 9th during a 5-5 game, and Rivera’s was just this past Monday, when he picked up his 602nd save with a strikeout with his signature cut fastball to become the all-time leader over Trevor Hoffmann.

Being able to pop the champagne in the clubhouse after the win must have been a great feeling for catcher, Russell Martin, who had spent his previous five seasons with the Dodgers, and all the rookies because this was their true welcome to New York moment.  This is because they were able to celebrate but then hear from Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Granderson, Sebathia and the other veterans that more is expected.

Sebathia was able to get back on track only allowing two runs in his 7.1 innings.  He was able to strike out six batters while allowing seven hits and two walks.  The two runs he allowed were solo home runs by the light hitting Kelly Shoppach and Sean Rodriguez.

The Yankees ace was coming of two starts in a row where he was not able to last his normal workmanlike seven innings pitched.  They were not that bad by normal pitchers standards but they were worse than the elite level that he is accustomed to.  He allowed four runs in less than six innings pitched in his last start and in his start on September 10th he gave up eight hits and four walks.

Sebathia has pitched very well this season sporting a sparkling 3.01 ERA, with the chance at a 20 win season and the Yankees will need starts like this one in the playoffs.

The Yankees will either play the Detroit Tigers or Texas Rangers in the first round of the playoffs who are both very solid teams.  However, considering the Yankees pitching staff at the beginning of the season not many thought that they would have clinched the division with a week to play, over the Red Sox, especially ESPN who predicted across the board that Boston would win.

ESPN has a bias for the Red Sox but they can not entirely be blamed for unanimously choosing them before the season given that after Sebathia their rotation consisted of question marks Ivan Nova, Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett.  Phil Hughes was not a question mark but did not at all live up to his stellar 2010 first half of the season that led to him being named an All-Star.

The division title is all the more special for the team and the fans given that they were able to overcome lack of production and professionalism from Burnett, only a few solid starts from Hughes while Garcia, Colon (who should be Comeback Player of the Year) and Nova (who should be Rookie of the Year) vastly exceeded expectations.

Yankees are in good shape as Boston is in panic mode, as they have 3 set up for awards

As the Yankees make their way back east to play the Blue Jays in Toronto they are officially on cruise control heading into the playoffs as they are in first place by 4.5 games over the Red Sox, as Boston is crumbling to the finish.  The Yankees should also have three players receivers hardware at season’s end and possibly a fourth.

The Bronx Bombers are basically firing on all cylinders but the Red Sox are hoping to finish the season as the Wild Card qualifier.

The Red Sox are 2-9 in their last 11 games and that last loss was to the Rays in the first game of their critical four-game series against Tampa.  The Rays are now only 3 games out of the Wild Card spot with 13 games left to play and they have a realistic chance of qualifying if they can win at least two more games in Fenway.   Tampa, on the other hand, is 8-3 in their last 11 games and is surging down the home stretch just like the Tigers who have won 12 straight games.

Manager Joe Girardi’s team could play a role into who makes the playoffs, the Red Sox or the Rays, since they play the Rays in Tampa the last three games of the season.

Three of the major reasons that the Yankees are in the position that they are in are Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova and Curtis Granderson.  These players should be a shoe in for post-season awards along with CC Sebathia who will certainly finish in the top five of the CY Young voting.

At the beginning of the season, everybody thought Granderson would contribute and be a solid all around player but nobody could have predicted that he would be able to be deserving of the American League MVP.

He has been able to continue his turn-around since last season’s meeting with hitting Coach Kevin Long, last August, in Texas, by being the top hitter in baseball since that time along with Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays.  However, since Granderson plays for a playoff team he is more deserving of the award.

Granderson has played gold glove caliber defense in center-field and he has also drastically improved his hitting against lefties, since his average is .274 this season against them compared to .234 in 2010.  The only part of his arsenal that would slightly take away from his MVP candidacy is his low .265 average but all of his other statistics across the board are MVP worthy.

The Grandy Man, as radio announcer John Sterling refers to him, is second in the AL with 39 home runs, is in a three way tie at 111 RBI with Robinson Cano and Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox, is second in the league with 10 triples, is 12th in the league with 24 steals and in the runs scored category he is in first place by a grand total of 17.

It is unheard of that a player who is in the top three in home runs and RBI is also second in triples and has the amount of steals that he has.  That seems to be evidence right there that he should be the MVP.

The Yankees would be nowhere near where they are in the standings right now without Granderson.  What makes him even better is that he was able to drastically improve his weakness since last season and that he is so helpful with his Grand Kids Foundation around the community.

The other players that are in line for awards are both pitchers.

Even though Nova started seven games last season, he did not pitch enough innings in 2010 to not still be considered a rookie in 2011.  It sure seems like it helped Nova getting a feel for the big leagues last season as he has blossomed into a number two starter this season.  Last season the knock against him was that he pitched well the first one or two times through the order, but then in the fifth inning he would falter and lose his command.

This season he has been a much improved starter as he 15 wins and would have a chance for a 20 win campaign if not for getting sent to the minors for most of the month of July as a result of Phil Hughes’ return.  Unlike A.J. Burnett he is not flustered after allowing one or two early runs, in fact he is usually able to dominate for the duration of his start after doing so.

He has a very respectable 3.81 ERA, but in 10 starts since July 1st he has only allowed more than three earned runs once.  Ivan “Super” Nova has also gone 14 starts without picking up a loss, since the beginning of July, picking up 11 wins in that time period.  During his winning streak he has passed Hall of Famer, Whitey Ford, among other less heralded Yankees.

The above statistics should definitely add up to Nova winning the Rookie of the Year because he has been pitching well beyond his years especially during his history second half of the season.

He is confident in his skills but not cocky.  A few weeks ago it made more sense to allow Colon to start the second game of the playoffs but now since Nova has been so consistent, and has proven to be able to pitch under pressure he should be the number two starter.

The only statistic that would make it somewhat of a toss-up at this point is that he has a 4.42 ERA at home but a 3.26 ERA at home this season.  However, Colon excels even more on the road as his ERA sits a 2.96 but at home it is 4.24.  Nova has been more consistent recently than Colon so he should get the edge and that high ERA at home by Nova is more a result of his shakier first half.

Colon is the third pitcher who is destined for a postseason award and that would be the Comeback Player of the Year.

This is by far his best season since his healthy season in 2005, when he received the CY Young award (best pitcher in the league), for the Anaheim Angels.  The reason that he did not pitch during the 2010 season was because he had right shoulder pain and damage to his rotator cuff, ligaments and tendons.

He returned to the Yankees this season on a cheap minor league contract and his been one of the best bargains in baseball.  He has an excellent strikeout to walk ratio as he is 128 K’s to only 36 walks. That is more than a three to one ratio.  He has had so much movement on his pitches that he has greatly resembled his 2005 form at times.

Colon had a five-game stretch from July 19th to August 11th where he allowed two runs or less in every start.  He only has eight wins but because of his 3.55 ERA that number could be more like 13 or 14 but he has not gotten enough run support in some of his starts.

It is remarkable that he has been able to pitch 152 innings this season without breaking down besides for a few starts like the two games on August 17th and 23rd where he allowed five runs.

He has dominated in two out of his last three starts and the Yankees will be able to count on him in the playoffs to pitch a quality start, in the first round of the playoffs, which will most likely be against the Detroit Tigers or Texas Rangers.

These three players have outperformed expectations but one player lived up to them in every way is CC Sebathia.  He was the ace of the staff coming into the season and has had an even betters campaign than last year when he finished third in the CY Young voting.

Sebathia has a 19 wins, 216 strikeouts with a 2.93 ERA but will likely not win the CY Young because of the even more outstanding seasons that Jared Weaver and especially Justin Verlander are having.  Verlander, the Tigers ace, has 23 wins, 238 strikeouts and 2.36 ERA.

Sebathia has also been nominated by the Yankees for the Roberto Clemente award for his philanthropic efforts through his PitCChing in Foundation, which he founded with his wife in 2009.  An example of his work in the community is that last week the foundation donated 1,700 backpacks filled with school supplies to 3rd – 5th grade students at P.S. 106 in the Bronx.

These four players described above have been outstanding overall for the team this season helping to lead the Yankees into the playoffs and possibly another World Series championship.

CC Sebathia looks to prevent the losing streak from reaching four tonight in Anaheim

After the Yankees (2.5 ahead of the Red Sox in AL East) lost last night to the Angels 2-1, behind a dominating eight innings by Jared Weaver, who gave up three hits including Jesus Montero’s third home run and sixth RBI in six games, CC Sebathia will pitch looking to get the Yankees back on track.

Weaver is one of the top five starters in the American League, sporting a 2.44 ERA and 187 strike outs, so his dominance of the Yankee lineup is not that surprising even though he was coming off two shaky starts. The Yankees will possibly face Weaver twice in the playoffs so if this happens they will need to figure him out before the postseason starts.

There were two major positives to take out of this game.

One was the aforementioned Montero continued to jolt the offense by supplying power and average out of the Designated Hitter spot.  It seems like he will positively affect the Yankees down the home-stretch of the season in a similar way that Joba Chamberlain did out of the bullpen in 2007.

The second is that Bartolo Colon (3.55 ERA) bounced back from a month of August where he was not nearly as dominating as in previous months.  He had three rocky stars in August, where he allowed four runs or more three times, but he bounced back with a vengeance limiting the Angels offense to zero earned runs in seven innings.

This start by Colon should cement his name as the winner of the Comeback Player of the Year after missing the entire 2010 campaign because of a rotator cuff injury.  After this game against the Halos he was probably thinking back to 2005, which was the last time he picked up hardware being named the Angels second CY Young recipient.

The Yankees were in position play their third consecutive extra inning contest, after losing two in a row to the Orioles, but the Angels scored in the bottom of the ninth off of a Maicier Izturis sacrifice fly that drove in Jeremy Moore, who pinch ran for Alberto Callaspo.  The run was charged to Aaaron Laffey as he gave up Callaspo’s single but Luis Ayala gave up the sac fly.

Sabathia is the pitcher the Yankees want to stop this three-game losing streak as he is also in the top five in CY Young consideration this season.  He is coming off four straight quality starts, has 19 wins and a 2.97 ERA but will be pitching behind a lineup with some notable absences.

The somewhat fragile Alex Rodriguez in not playing and is being replaced by Eric Chavez.  Nick Swisher whose elbow is hurting will be replaced by the infielder, Eduardo Nunez, in right-field.  Also, the Yankees received some troubling news as Francisco Cervelli was originally in the lineup but now is not because of concussion symptoms and is being sent for an impact test.

Nobody has any idea how Nunez will handle playing right-field especially after making so many errors at second/short but he is able to be productive at the plate.

The Yankees need another vintage Sebathia start to help them end their losing streak and hopefully their offense will pick up where it left off against Angels starter Dan Haren.

Haren is having a solid season for the Angels with a 3.20 ERA but in his start in the Bronx earlier this season he allowed four runs in 6.2 innings.

An advantage that the Yankees should be able to capitalize on is that the Angels offense is weaker than in years past, as nobody is hitting higher than .290 (Howie Kendrick), or has more than 80 RBI (rookie Mike Trumbo).  However, the Angels have been playing potent baseball recently as they are only 2.5 games behing the Texas Rangers and 7-3 in their last 10 contests.

Yankees took care of business against Lackey, try to defeat the imposing Beckett who they traditionally hit well against

CC Sebathia finally had a quality start against the Boston Red Sox, helping the Yankees win 5-2, improving their season record to 3-10 against Boston.  He had help from the bullpen as they got into some jams but never surrendered a run.

Another positive about this game was that Mariano Rivera, who has struggled against the Red Sox in the past, allowing a run in his last appearance against them, picked a save while allowing one hit.

Eric Chavez had his best game production wise since the beginning of August as he had two run scoring singles, in the first and fourth innings, respectively, almost single handedly giving the Yankees all the offense they would need.

In addition to Chavez’s RBI in the top of the fourth, Robinson Cano, hit his 36th double, which drove in Robinson Cano.  That was Cano’s 96th RBI, which places him third on the Yankees and fourth in the American League.

The Red Sox would score their only runs of the game in the bottom of the fourth innings as the speedy Carl Crawford, hit his 10th homer of the season, and Marco Scutaro hit a double to left scoring a run.

In the bottom of the fourth CC Sebathia had a clutch strikeout to end the inning and the Yankees would go on to score another run, off a rare homer by Francisco Cervelli, in the bottom of the inning.  Cervelli’s actions upon returning to home plate were regrettably as he should have waited until he got back to the dugout to celebrate.

However, this was only Cervelli’s third home run of his career, so possibly the reason he displayed his usual enthusiasm was because he got caught up in the moment.

Crawford made an impressive catch up against the Green Monster, on a ball hit by Robinson Cano, for the first out of the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth Sebathia gave up a double to Jed Lowrie and the Yankees were lucky a run didn’t score because David Ortiz is extremely slow.  He would strike out Saltalamacchia, who likely has the longest last name in baseball, to avoid any damage.

In the bottom of the sixth, with Sebathia still pitching, with 110 plus pitches, Chevez was able to show his gold glove form from earlier in his career by fielding a short hop and making a strong throw to Mark Teixiera at first. Sebathia was in true workhorse form tonight as he threw 128 pitches through six innings only allowing two runs.  This proves how much confidence Joe Girardi rightfully has in him.

Francisco Cervelli got intentionally thrown at to lead off the top of the seventh.  In some ways he had this coming as he clapped emphatically when stepping on home plate after his home run.  A pitcher should never intentionally throw at a hitter, but what Cervelli did is against the “code” of baseball.

The Red Sox almost regretted hitting Cervelli because he wound up on third with nobody out after Gardner bunted for a single.  This almost ignited a brawl, however, the benches emptied but nothing materialized.  Unfortunately, Jeter would go on to hit a double play right to Dustin Pedroia at shortstop to end any kind of momentum.  That scored a run but they should have had much more.

The Yankees got lucky a second time with David Oritiz running as he stopped at third on Crawford’s single to left field.  Logan would then strike out Saltalamacchia, which would be Jared’s second strikeout with men on base.  Logan would go on to pick up back-to-back strikeouts as Darnell Macdonald would swing at a pitch high and outside, to end the seventh inning.

Nick Swisher continued his recent hot hitting, which mirrors how he raked during his All-star campaign last season, as he hit a single in the eighth just inside the foul line to send Cano to third.  This culminated a 3-3 game for him. After Posada walked to force the bases loaded, Cervelli could not continue to give the Yankees any more magic as he grounded out to Pedroia to keep the score 5-2.

In order to catch the towering fly ball hit by Marco Scutaro, in the bottom of the eighth, Brett Gardner had to use all of his blazing speed to catch up with the ball.  It was almost a SportsCenter top 10 worthy catch.

The Red Sox would threaten to score in the ninth, as Ortiz smacked a double to shallow right and Saltalamacchia got hit by a pitch, but as stated above, Rivera was able to limit their scoring opportunity.

John Lackey gave up four earned runs, but five overall, during the game.  The Yankees should have scored more but that was the minimum amount that would have been acceptable against Lackey what has been struggling the whole season.

However, tonight the Yankees will not have the privilege of facing a pitcher who is not living up to his contract.  Josh Beckett has an 11-5 record, a 2.43 ERA and is a CY Young candidate just like Sebathia (and the likely winner Justin Verlander).  If Sebathia had not struggled so much in his first four starts against the Red Sox he would probably be even with Verlander right now.

Phil Hughes has pitched very well in five out of his seven starts since coming off of the disabled list, so, if he can deliver a quality start the Yankees will have a great chance since Beckett has a 5.37 career record against the Bronx Bombers.

Derek Jeter is 0-9 in his last two games, while missing the last game of the Orioles series because of a minor injury, but hopefully he can get back on track tonight against Beckett, who he is hitting .282 against for his career.

One of the Yankees top prospects, catcher Jesus Montero, will join the Yankees from AAA Scranton for the series finale.  He is more known for his offense than his defense behind the plate.

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 allow 6 runs once again, but this time come just short in extra innings

Trevor Cahill (4.13 ERA), who is coming off an All-Star season, in 2010, limited the Yankees to two runs through six innings, and the Bronx Bombers could not score enough runs off of the Athletics bullpen to prevent losing the game, 6-4 in extra innings, one day after the earthquake.

Robinson Cano upped his hitting streak to 15 in the fourth inning with a double between the centerfielder and right fielder that went to the wall.  Later in the inning, with runners on second and third, Eduardo Nunez came up and hit a ball that bounced on home plate and dribbled ahead.  He did not run thinking it was foul and was called out.  He was mystified but the umpire was correct.

Francisco Cervelli was the next batter and he is somebody in particular who usually seizes the moment with ducks on the pond, but this time he did not convert.

However, Cervelli would make up for his blunder in the bottom of the fourth by throwing a bullet to Cano at second to get out Scott Sizemore who was trying to steal.  Sizemore’s single was only the Athletics third hit of the game off of Sebathia, who rebounded well after a rocky first inning.

Over his last 12 games Jeter is hitting .521, but as a result of his wild swing at a pitch out of the zone in the fifth he failed at his attempt to finally reach .300.  That is OK because he has been a totally new hitter since coming off the DL, hitting like he did in 2009 when he finished third in the MVP voting.

Jemile Weeks, younger brother of Milwaukee Brewers star Rickie Weeks, who has speed similar to Brett Gardner, led off the sixth inning with what appeared to be a triple, but Cano made a picture perfect throw to nail him at third.  Curtis Granderson started the perfect relay with a strong throw to Cano.

Swisher hit what appeared to be a critical home run in the bottom of the sixth, into the Yankees bullpen, after falling feet away from being the hero last night.  He is one player who did everything in his power to help the Yankees win as Cahill kept the offense off guard to that point.

Sebathia continued his stellar pitching as he retired the Athletics in order in the top of the seventh, on only six pitches.

With Hideki Matsui surprisingly playing left field and not DH, Eduardo Nunez hit a ground ball down the third base line that hit the indentation, for a double.  Cervelli executed a perfect bunt for a single to set the Yankees up for a potential big inning. Cahill was then removed by A’s manager Bob Geren (and Bob Saget look-a-like), and Brian Fuentes would go on to retire the next three batters in order.

With two outs in the eighth inning, and Sizemore coming up to bat, Joe Girardi acted like he was going to bring in David Robertson but decided not to.  He will probably regret that decision as Sizemore got his third hit tying the game at two.

To end the top of the eighth Matsui hit a hard line drive to Derek Jeter, who was able to double Weeks off at second.  However, the damage had already been done off of the usually shutdown Robertson as he allowed a single to Crisp, which scored Sizemore.

The home run barrage over recent games would continue as Mark Teixeira smacked a very deep home run to right-center.  This was the first run Grant Balfour had allowed in his last six appearances and with that mammoth shot he tied Granderson with the team lead.  Posada continued his utter dominance against Balfour as he now five for six against the journeyman reliever.

Rivera would pitch a one-two-three top of the ninth and the Yankees would come to bat in the ninth with a chance at a walk-off victory and for a lucky player to receiver a pie in the face.

Soriano came in to pitch the tenth, but the inning did not start so well as Sizemore got his fourth hit to put runners on first and second.  Crisp delivered a dagger off of Soriano, with two outs, which was his fifth RBI of the evening.

Nick Swisher would hit his third home run in his last two games to reduce the Athletics lead to two runs.  Unfortunately, Andruw Jones would go onto strike out to end the game, meaning that the best the Yankees can do is win one out of three against the fourth place Athletics.

Sebathia has been a true work-horse for the Yankees, pitching seven innings or more in 13 out of his last 14 starts but, on this night, the relatively light hitting Crisp could not be contained.  He is hitting a robust .414 against the Yankees this season, and almost single handedly defeated them.  Crisp has been known for his uniquely amazing name, his 70’s style afro for a short period, as well as his speed but never really for his power.

It is not a good sign that the Yankees have already lost the series to the Athletics, who are 12 games below .500, even though they have a chance to salvage a game tomorrow.  Soriano had his first truly forgettable outing since returning from the disabled list, as he had allowed only two hits and one earned run, in eight appearances since his return.

Granderson had a rare off day at the plate but was one half of the tandem that helped prevent Weeks from getting a triple.  Once again, not hitting with men on base hurt the Yankees, as they had 11 hits but nine runners left on base.  They also did not come through in the clutch four times with runners in scoring position and two outs, with Cervelli being the culprit twice.

It is also disappointing that the Yankees lost after a solid start from their ace while the Red Sox defeated much superior competition in the form of the Texas Rangers, behind their ace, Josh Beckett.  The Yankees find themselves down by a game, needing a win during tomorrow’s matinee game against Oakland, behind Phil Hughes, who has two wins and a 3.87 ERA during his last three starts.