Tagged: Yu Darvish

David Phelps’s rocky fifth inning led to the Yankees losing to the Texas Rangers

Derek Jeter swinging.

Derek Jeter swinging.

The 4-2 loss by the Yankees to the Rangers in Arlington, Texas, was their third consecutive loss after winning seven of their first eight games after the All-Star break. The Yankees were not able to overcome the offense not performing and the four runs that David Phelps allowed in the fifth inning. Phelps only allowed two hits before the fifth inning.

Phelps pitched six innings, allowed four runs, eight hits and one walk. He had a 2.96 ERA over has last eight starts to lower his ERA from 4.53 to 3.77, but the four runs that he allowed raised the ERA to 3.89. Phelps had been locating pitches very well while mostly limiting mistake pitches that hurt him.

In the fifth inning, Elvis Andrus’s single to left scored Chris Giminez to make the score 2-1. Then, with Alex Rios on first and Andrus on third, Adrian Beltre doubled to left to score Andrus and tie the game. With the bases loaded, J.P. Arencibia’s single scored Rios and Beltre. All of the runs in the inning came with two outs.

“I was throwing strikes all night, and I almost threw too many strikes,” Phelps said. “It is just frustrating. Arranibia, I have faced him a lot, he put a good swing on a decent pitch, you gotta be better than that. I feel like I have a good chance with a lefty up there. It’s on me tonight. I’ve got to go out and set the tone in the first game of the series.”

Joe Girardi said that the losing streak is due to a lack of offensive production. They have scored a combined 10 runs in their past three games. “We didn’t score much tonight, which is one of the reasons,” Girardi said. “Hopefully we come out and score a bunch of runs tomorrow.”

The Yankees only went three for 16 with runners on base, which, in addition to Phelps’s fifth inning, led to the loss. The Yankees could have scored enough runs to get Phelps the win, but the offense was anemic once again. The Yankees had 11 hits and the Rangers only had nine, but the Yankees were 0-6 with runners in scoring position. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner went a combined six for nine with three extra base hits, but the rest of the lineup was five for 28 with eight strikeouts.

Derek Jeter‘s double in the third tied him with Carl Yastrzemski for seventh place on the all-time hits list. His single in the seventh inning put him in sole possession of seventh place on the all-time hits list. Jeter needs 10 more hits to tie Honus Wagner for sixth place. Many consider Jeter to only be behind Wagner when considering the best shortstop of all-time. Once Jeter passes Wagner sometime in August, he will retire with the only players ahead of him being legends Tris Speaker, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose.

“You know, it’s quite an accomplishment,” Jeter said. “It’s tough to enjoy when you lost the game but yeah, I’m pretty sure when this season is over and done with, I’ll look back and get a chance to realize how special it was.”

The only runs for the Yankees came from two Brett Gardner swings. In the third inning against Yu Darvish, Gardner hit his 11th homer of the season, and in the fifth inning, he slugged his 12th homer. Gardner now has four homers among his five hits in 12 at-bats against Darvish. Gardner’s previous career high in homers was eight, which he set last year. Darvish, who is third in the American League in strikeouts, had a 5.32 ERA in his last four starts, which proves that the Yankees were able to help him get back to his dominating form.

Brian McCann struck out with runners on second and third with two outs in the seventh. He had an opportunity to tie the game with a single since the Yankees were losing 4-2. McCann went 0-4, with two strikeouts and was 0-2 with runners in scoring position. The Yankees are counting on him being a productive hitter in the middle of the lineup, but he is only hitting .214 in the last seven games.

The only other offensive highlight for the Yankees was that Francisco Cervelli’s single to center in the fourth gave him a 10-game hitting streak.

It is important that the Yankees acquire another outfielder like Alex Rios from the Rangers because Ichiro Suzuki is only three for his last 38. The Yankees are currently on his no-trade list, which means that he would have to agree to the trade.

The Yankees will not face pitchers the caliber of Darvish in their next two games against the Rangers. On Tuesday game, Brandon McCarthy, who has a 1.45 ERA in three starts with the Yankees, will start for the Yankees, and Nick Martinez, who has a 4.73 ERA, will start for the Rangers. The Yankees need to win these next two games since the Rangers have the worst record in baseball.

The Yankees won a rain-shortened game on Wednesday for their fifth win in six games

David Phelps throwing a pitch against the Blue Jays

David Phelps throwing a pitch against the Blue Jays

The Yankees won a rain-shortened 2-1 4.5 inning game against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium. The game was official because the Rangers had finished batting in the fifth inning. It was the fifth win in six games for the Yankees since the All-Star break ended. The Yankees have now won two dramatic games in a row as Chase Headley hit a walk-off single in the 14th inning on Tuesday.

The rain delay started at 8:46 and the game was not called until 10:35. The grounds crew had trouble getting the tarp on the field because the severe storm came on all of a sudden, which caused the infield to not be playable when the rain stopped. After allowing one run and three strikeouts in five innings, David Phelps has now impressively allowed two runs or less in each of his last five starts.

(I felt) good,” Phelps said. “I thought my command was pretty good. I stayed away from the middle of the plate for the most part.” Since before his two runs or less streak began on June 24, he has lowered his ERA from a mediocre 4.35 to a much more respectable 3.77. He was able to out pitch rangers starter Yu Darvish, whose 2.92 ERA is ninth in the American League.

Darvish, who is in his third season with the Rangers since coming over from Japan, allowed both of his runs in the third inning. Francisco Cervelli, who was on third after hitting a double and being advanced to third on Brendan Ryan’s groundout, scored on a balk by Darvish. Cervelli, who went 2-2, has given the offense a boost when he has played since he has a .379 in his last nine games.

Brett Gardner scored the Yankees second run two batters after Cervelli crossed home plate for the first run. Gardner hit his 10th homer of the season, which is his career-high and already two more than he hit all of last season.

Gardner credited his increased power to working with hitting coach Kevin Long. “Just being more aggressive, working with Kevin Long and trying to stay consistent,” Gardner said.

For Phelps, the most important out that he recorded ended up being his last one. Leonys Martin was on third base, but then Phelps was able to get Chris Gimenez to foul out to Cervelli and Rougned Odor to strikeout swinging.

On July 23, 1999, 15 years ago, Derek Jeter had a walk-off hit in extra innings against the Cleveland Indians. During Tuesday’s game, Jeter added to his long list of accomplishments by  passing Lou Gehrig for sole possession of 1st place on the Yankees all-time doubles list.

Coming into the fourth game of the series, at 1:05 p.m. on Thursday, the last place Rangers have lost 26 of their past 29 games. The Yankees, who are now three games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East and half a game behind the Seattle Mariners for the second Wild Card, will look to win their second series in a row.

Brandon McCarthy will pitch for the Yankees and the struggling veteran righty Colby Lewis will get the start for the Rangers. McCarthy, whose season ERA is 4.63, has an outstanding 1.96 ERA in three July starts, which includes two with the Yankees.

Masahiro Tanaka will improve the Yankees’ rotation this season and in the future

Masahiro Tanaka pitching in a game for the Golden Eagles.

Masahiro Tanaka pitching in a game for the Golden Eagles.

After much speculation, the 25-year-old Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka has officially joined the rotation of the New York Yankees. As of January 21, he was reportedly down to the Chicago Cubs or the Yankees. Tanaka has signed a seven-year deal that is worth $155 million. The contract includes an opt out clause after the fourth year.

Hideki Matsui, who played outfield for the Yankees for seven seasons and was MVP of the 2009 World Series, reportedly called Tanaka on the Yankees behalf to try and recruit him, according to the YES Network. Tanaka will be the third current Yankee from Japan, joining Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda. The other four players from Japan that have played for the Yankees are Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa, Ryota Igarashi.

His stats while playing for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Nippon Professional Baseball, which is Japan’s version of Major League Baseball, are outstanding. In seven seasons, starting at age 18, he compiled a 99-35 record, 1,238 strikeouts, only 275 walks and 53 complete games. Two seasons that stand out are this past season and his 2011 season. In 2011, he had a 19-5 record, an unbelievable 1.27 ERA in 226.1 innings and 241 strikeouts. This past season, Tanaka had 24 wins without a loss, matched his outstanding 1.27 ERA from 2011 (he will not come close to this ERA in 2014), only allowed 168 hits in 212 innings, while striking out 183 batters and only walking 32.

If Tanaka can have about a 3.20 ERA and 15-17 wins that would be a great first season away for the Yankees. He will have to adjust to a smaller baseball, a different strike zone and more talented hitters in the American League. However, since he is 25, he will be a key piece this season as well as in the future because CC Sabathia will turn 34 in July and Hiroki Kuroda is likely in his last season before he retires.

The concern with Tanaka is that he averaged 190 innings a year and threw 160 pitches in nine innings in the championship series this past season. Only about five players in the history of MLB have thrown as many pitches as Tanaka has in their first seven seasons, but if he turns out to be similar to Yu Darvish, the last Japanese import, he will be a great asset for the Yankees.

Scouts have said that he might be better than Darvish, and Tanaka throws a split-fingered fastball that Bobby Valentine has said is the best in the world. (Valentine was the manager of the Mets when the Yankees beat them in the World Series in 2000.) If this is true, then that will definitely translate. Valentine’s word can be believed because he managed in Japan’s Pacific League from 2004-2009 (part of Nippon Professional Baseball), which means that he managed against Tanaka for his first three seasons. Tanaka also has a slider, a four-seam fastball that has late movement, a two-seam fastball and a 71.5 MPH change up in his arsenal.

He should slot third in the pitching rotation behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda, and ahead of Ivan Nova. If Michael Pineda makes the rotation and pitches like he did in the 2011 season when he was an All-Star as a rookie for the Mariners then that will make the rotation even deeper. This acquisition is great news for the Yankees because they couldn’t go into the season with question marks in two spots of their rotation. The Yankees need Sabathia to bounce back from his sub-par season that saw him finish with a 4.78 ERA. He should be able to based on his previous stellar pitching. It will be important for him to increase his velocity a little from where it was last season.

The Yankees have had the best off season in baseball and they needed to make the signings that they have since they missed the playoffs last season. They will not be below the $189 million threshold as a result of this signing, but they saved A-Rod’s contract for this season and contending for the World Series is more important than those monetary benefits.

Here is a video of Tanaka showing off his many plus pitches during a game last season for the Golden Eagles:

The Yankees have received promising news regarding Masahiro Tanaka

Tanaka pitching against the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

Tanaka pitching against the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

Masahiro Tanaka, who is the best Japanese pitcher since Yu Darvish, has officially been posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles as of Christmas day. As a result of the new posting agreement between the MLB and the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan, that lowered the posting fee to a max of $20 million from the previous unlimited amount, the Rakuten Eagles had been going back and forth in the past few weeks on keeping or not keeping Tanaka.

All 30 MLB teams have been notified that the 30-day period to sign the 25-year-old right hander with a powerful arm  began at 8 a.m. ET Thursday, according to MLB spokesman Michael Teevan.  The MLB team that comes to terms with Tanaka will have to give the Rakuten Eagles $20 million based on the deal that was reached two weeks ago. This is much less than the more than $50 million that the Rangers paid for the rights to negotiate with Darvish.

This is great news for the Yankees and basically a Christmas present because they need another reliable starter to combine with CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda. Since they signed Brian Roberts to play second base instead of the higher and longer contract that they would have had to give Omar Infante, it proves that they were banking on Tanaka being posted.

It has been known that Tanaka was the primary starting pitching target for Brian Cashman. He has said that he was not high on Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, who have been the most high-profile free agent starting pitchers and played on the Texas Rangers, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians, respectively, last season.

On Wednesday, the Eagles president finally admitted that Tanaka deserves a chance to play in the majors. Last season Tanaka pitched an almost perfect season for the Golden Eagles. He had a 24-0 regular-season record with an outstanding 1.27 ERA. He has not had an ERA above 1.87 in any of his last three seasons. He pitches with outstanding control and pounds the strike zone with authority as he had 183 strikeouts and only 32 walks last season. In 2011, at age 22, he had statistically his best season with 19 wins, a 1.27 ERA, 241 strikeouts and only 19 walks.

There is a small chance that he could be a bust like the Yankees last Japanese import, Kei Igawa, but Tanaka’s three best seasons were much better than Igawa’s best three seasons in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers and scouts have said that he could be even better than Darvish has been for the Rangers. This past season, Darvish’s third in the MLB, he had 277 strikeouts, only 80 walks and a great 2.83 ERA.

The state of the Yankees rotation is currently questionable without Tanaka. Sabathia is coming off a season where he regressed from his previous ace status, Nova had a very good bounce-back season (3.10 ERA) after a sub-par 2012 campaign (5.10 ERA) and Kuroda followed up an outstanding first-half of the season with a second-half where he allowed five or more earned runs four times. His September ERA was 5.70 and his overall ERA was 3.31.

If the Yankees end up signing Tanaka like it seems like they will and he has a 3.00-3.40 ERA and a similar strikeout to walk ratio, and Sabathia pitches like he did in 2012 with increased weight and Kuroda pitches like he did in the first-half of last season, the rotation could go from a question mark to a reliable one. An adjustment period to new hitters in Major League Baseball is expected for Tanaka.

According to USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale, Tanaka will command an annual salary of at least $17 million. It would make sense if the Yankees offered him a six-year, $102 million contract (or even $108 million). The Yankees need to make sure he knows that he is needed.

The Yankees beat the Rangers behind another outstanding start by Hiroki Kuroda

Mariano Rivera with his cowboy hat and customized boots.

Mariano Rivera with his cowboy hat and customized boots.

The Yankees (54-48) defeated the Rangers (56-46) on Wednesday afternoon in Arlington, Texas behind seven shutout innings from Hiroki Kuroda. This was Kuroda’s seventh start this season where has has limited the opposition to zero runs, and it was his third in his last four starts.

The 2-0 win allowed the Yankees to salvage a split of the four-game series in Texas. They also finished the road trip against the Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers with a 3-4 record. Three wins and four losses is a lot better than two wins and four losses, as Joe Girardi said in his postgame interview. The catalyst in this win was obviously Kuroda, who is now second in the American League with a 2.51 ERA. Felix Hernandez is first in the America League with a 2.43 ERA.

In fact, the Rangers only had runners in scoring position twice against Kuroda. He was able to work out of trouble in the third and sixth innings as David Murphy was stranded at second in the third and Elvis Andrus was stranded at third in the sixth. Austin Romine, who was three for four and had his first multiple extra base hit game of his career, was critical in preventing a run from scoring in the sixth since he threw out Ian Kinsler trying to steal second.

Based on his ERA and very low WHIP (Walks and Hits divided by Innings Pitched), Kuroda should be in the top three in the CY Young. However, he likely will be closer to fifth or sixth because of his low amount of strikeouts and wins. He is currently fifth in the AL with his 1.04 WHIP. However, his 10 wins puts him in a three-way tie for seventh and his 92 strikeouts are 30th highest in the AL. If Kuroda can keep up his current pace he should finish in the top five of the CY Young along with Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Max Scherzer and Chris Sale. Above all, Kuroda gives the Yankees a chance to win basically every time he takes the hill.

On offense, the Yankees were led by Romine whose three hits raised his average from .165 to .193. Romine also scored half of the team’s runs. This was a rare offensive outburst by the back-up, an once heralded prospect, because this was only his second multi-hit game of the season out of 27 starts. The California native is definitely more known for his defense.

The other run was scored by All-Star Robinson Cano, who was one for four, which included his 20th double of the season. Eduardo Nunez and Brent Lillibridge both went 1-4 with an RBI to account for all of the runs in the game. Nunez, who has been a much needed addition to the offense since coming of of the disabled list, is 9-29 or .310, with two Runs Batted In and four runs scored since the All-Star break.

The stellar one two punch of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera did not disappoint once again. Robertson, who is on track to replace Rivera as the closer next season, pitched a perfect eighth inning to lower his ERA to 1.96. Rivera, who received a cowboy hat and customized Yankees boots before the game from the Rangers (this was another one of his pre-game gifts as he plays in visiting stadiums for the last time), allowed one hit in the ninth for his 33rd save of the season.

Tampa Bay will now come to the Bronx for a three-game series. The Yankees are currently three games behind the Rays for the Wild Card.

It appears that offensive help is on the way after the Yankees were shutout by the Rangers

Ivan Nova in spring training.

Ivan Nova in spring training.

The Yankees lost the first game of the series in Arlington, Texas to the Rangers, 3-0, in which all three of their hits were singles. They have now scored two runs or less for the seventh time this month. After a great start to the season as the replacements did better than expected, the Yankees are now 22-29 in their last 51 games.

It does appear that offensive help is on the way as George King is reporting that the Yankees are close to trading for former Yankee Alfonso Soriano. Soriano, who played for the Yankees from 1999 until 2003, was actually traded for Alex Rodriguez after the 03′ season. He has lost a lot of the speed that he used to have, since he stole more than 18 bases in every season between 2001 and 2008, but he has 10 steals so far this season to go with 17 homers and 51 Runs Batted In.

The fact that Soriano is 37 is a drawback but the Yankees desperately need offense. He would be able to replace Travis Hafner at DH, or play left-field since Vernon Wells has also been struggling. Travis Hafner actually has the worst batting average of any player since May 1. He played well for the first month, where he hit six of his 12 homers and finished the month with a .310 average, but now his average has fallen all the way down to .210.

There is an excuse for the Yankees offense in this game since they were facing Yu Darvish, who has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. He allowed two hits in 6.1 innings and has a 2.86 ERA.

Lyle Overbay had another solid game for the Yankees and was the only offensive player who contributed. Overbay, who picked up two of the team’s three hits, has four multi-hit games in his last seven games. Robinson Cano, who was 0-4, had his 12-game hitting streak come to an end.

A missed call by an umpire led to the first run of the game for the Rangers in the first inning. Adrian Beltre hit a single to drive in Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler should have been called out on his steal attempt for the third out. Nelson Cruz, who hit a homer in the seventh off of Ivan Nova that was caught by the Yankees bullpen catcher, could be suspended in the coming days for his role with the Biogenesis clinic in Miami.

Ivan Nova pitched well enough to get his fifth win but instead got his third loss (his is now 4-3). Nova is the team’s second best pitcher right now behind Hiroki Kuroda as he has averaged eight innings in his last three starts and allowed an average of two runs.

Luis Cruz made an outstanding defensive play in the third inning to prevent what would have been a double. He ran far into the outfield near the foul line and made a basket style catch while extending himself to the fullest. He was down for a while but was able to stay in the game.

The Yankees played well on defense, highlighted by Chris Stewart and Cruz, but they need the offense to come up with more than just singles against Alexi Ogando (2.93 ERA) during Tuesday night’s game. The Yankees will also hope that Phil Hughes, who has been very erratic this season with a 4.57 ERA, can stick to his trend of pitching much better on the road than at home.  He has a 3.38 ERA in away games but at Yankees Stadium it is an unacceptable 5.63.

Yankees beat the Rangers behind four homers

Cano and Jeter before the game against the Red Sox a few weeks ago

Cano and Jeter before the game against the Red Sox a few weeks ago

The Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 4-3, on Tuesday night in the Bronx, behind four solo home runs from the offense. It was their third win in their last four games.

With the win over the rival Rangers from the AL West, who the Yankees lost to in the playoffs in 2010, the Yankees are now 5-5 in their last 10 games, and 2.5 games (tied with the Orioles) behind the Red Sox in the AL East, and in a three-way tie atop the Wild-Card standings.

The offense was obviously led by Travis Hafner, Brett Gardner, Jayson Nix and Ichiro Suzuki since they hit the home runs to account for all of the runs that the team scored. The biggest one was essentially hit by Ichiro since he hit the walk-off homer to deep right center in the bottom of the ninth to give the Yankees the victory.

Hafner hit his twelfth homer of the campaign in the fourth inning, Gardner hit his seventh homer of the season in the fifth inning, Nix hit his second homer of the campaign in the sixth inning and Ichiro hit is fourth round-tripper of the season in the ninth. Nix’s homer was only his 10th since the end of the 2010 season.

It was the most clutch home run of the season for Ichiro. In fact, Ichiro is now on a five-game hitting streak and has hit in six of the past seven games. He is an important cog in the offense with the injuries to Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Francisco Cervelli (Kevin Youkilis will not likely come back and AROD is in the middle of controversy with Cashman and could face a 100-game suspension).

This performance by the offense was one that used to happen often the past few years where the homer was a critical aspect of many wins. If Nix and players such as Chris Stewart, David Adams and Zoilo Almonte can hit for some power that will greatly benefit the offense. Almonte has been a much needed boost to the offense since coming up from the minors. He is now hitting .438 after 16 at-bats.

Last night’s game was the 11th major league matchup between Japanese pitchers. The two pitchers are both elite as Hiroki Kuroda has an ERA 2.77 and Yu Darvish, who is in his second major league season after a stellar career pitching in Japan, has a 2.95 ERA.

In Tuesday’s game, Kuroda got the bragging rights because he only allowed two earned runs to Darvish’s three and only allowed five hits to the seven that Darvish gave up. Kuroda (7-5, 3.77 ERA) has now pitched a quality start in his last three starts while holding the opposition to two runs in each of those outings.

This blog post also comes on Derek Jeter’s 39th birthday. Jeter is currently rehabbing in Tampa. He was previously training in the Bronx and during this time I was lucky enough to see him up close before a game against the Red Sox.

When asked what he would give Jeter on his birthday Robinson Cano said, “I would say a card. He has a car, clothes, money and watches, what else can you give him?”