A four-run lead in the ninth inning wasn’t exactly unfamiliar territory for Dave Robertson.
“That’s a situation I’ve been in before,” Robertson said. “It’s usually one where, if I walk a guy, Mo comes in.”
Of course, there was no Mo tonight. It was the first time CC Sabathia had ever started a game for the Yankees without Rivera being on the active roster, and it was a game the Yankees badly needed to win after a three-game losing streak and the stunning news of Rivera’s injury.
In the clubhouse before the game, Rivera addressed the team.
“He just said, ‘Don’t feel sorry for me, I’m going to come back’” Robertson said. “‘We’re a good team, injuries happen, let’s turn it around, get stronger, go from there.’”
In a ninth inning worthy of the Yankees closer, Robertson struck out the side — he joked that Rivera could have done it on eight pitches — and the mood in the clubhouse was back to normal after the game. Truth be told, the mood was pretty much back to normal before the game. Rivera made sure of that. When he showed up today with a smile on his face and a comeback on his mind, a weight seemed to have lifted.
“Everyone knows how hard Mo works,” Derek Jeter said. “It’s a challenge for him. He’s going to accept that challenge, and he’s going to go out there and do whatever it takes to get back on the field. It’s great for us to hear that, but then again, we can’t sit around and wait for him.”
Tonight the Yankees began the process of moving on.
• Sabathia was terrific. He’s won four straight and pitched into the eighth inning each time. Tonight he gave up two runs in the first, but pitched the next seven innings scoreless. “Just making sure that I was getting the ball down with two strikes,” Sabathia said. “I left the ball up to Alex Gordon and to Dyson (in the first inning). I was in good counts, just not making pitches when I needed to.”
• The game hinged on the seventh inning. Bruce Chen was pitching well, but Eduardo Nunez’s two-out, go-ahead triple seemed to spark the Yankees offense. Chris Stewart added and RBI single before Jeter delivered the big blow with a two-run homer. “I think (Nunez) put pressure on him,” Stewart said. “We started to see some pitches, he started elevating some, and we took advantage of it.”
• Speaking of that seventh inning, the home run was Jeter’s fifth of the season. He hit six all of last year. Jeter’s hitting .404 after another two-hit game. “I don’t think about it one minute,” Jeter said.
• Mark Teixeira hit his seventh home run in 20 at-bats against Bruce Chen. He added a single off Chen later in the game. “It’s really all about that I see him well,” Teixeira said. “There’s certain guys that you just really see the ball out of their hand. You see their pitches break, you see the spin. Other guys it’s the opposite. It doesn’t matter if they throw it right down the middle. You don’t see it well, your timing’s off and they just own you. That’s a lot of what baseball is all about is just timing and seeing the ball.”
• Teixeira’s home run was his first since April 21.
• Robertson said he wasn’t thinking about Rivera when he came into the ninth inning. Not really, anyway. “I wouldn’t say I really thought about it, but I knew I had to get three outs, finish the game,” he said. “Going to be like that, I guess, from now until the end of the season. I can’t sit there and dwell on it, just got to go out an throw as well as you can. That’s it. We don’t have him anymore, and it stinks, it really does.”
• Rafael Soriano was getting loose in the eighth inning so that he could come in if Sabathia got into trouble, but Girardi said his plan all along was to let Robertson handle the ninth. “We wanted to get him a little experience in that sense,” Girardi said. “But he also hadn’t worked in three or four days and you like to keep your relievers going. We thought we’d get him in there.”
Happy Birthday to Former Yankees Outfielder Bob Cerv
May 5, 1926- Former Yankees OF Bob Cerv (1951-1956,1960-1962) was born. The New York Yankees signed outfielder Bob Cerv in 1950. He played for them from 1951-1956, before being sold to the Kansas City A’s after the end of the 1956 World Series. He hit a pinch hit HR in the 5th game of the 1955 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He had his best MLB season in 1958 with the Kansas City A’s, hitting .305 with 38 HRs and 104 RBIs, despite playing with a broken jaw. He was named to the 1958 AL All-Star team. Bob finished 4th in the AL MVP ballot voting, which was won his former Yankees teammate otfielder Jackie Jensen, now the Boston Red Sox. He returned to New York in May of 1960, in a trade that saw former Yankees starting 3B Andy Carey go to the A’s. In the 1960 World Series, Bob hit .357 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, until an ankle injury forced him out of Game #7.
The Yankees lost him in the 1960 AL player expansion team draft to the Los Angeles Angels. He returned to the Yankees in May of 1961 along with veteran AL reliever Tex Clevenger for Yankee pitchers Ryne Duren, Johnny James and rookie OF Lee Thomas. Bob was the 1961 roommate of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, having a exclusive view of the their HR chase. He hit .271 in 57 games. The New York Yankees sold Bob Cerv in June of 1962 to the new NL expansion team, the Houston Colt 45s, who would release him in July. Bob was always a good outfielder and hitter for the Yankees, but he could never could break into a fulltime position in the New York outfield. Bob Cerv was up with the Yankees each year from 1951 to 1956, but he never appeared in more than 56 games in a season. He hit .341 in 1955 and .304 in 1956. In three World Series (1955-1956,1960) Bob appeared in 10 games for the Yankees finishing with .258 BA with 1HR and 1 RBI. His final Yankees career totals were a .266 with 26 HRs with 118 RBI's in 379 games. At the end of his MLB career Bob went to spring training camp with the New York Mets in 1963, but leg injuries forced him to retire from the game. Later Bob became a college head baseball coach at Sioux-Empire College in Hawarden, Iowa until his retirement.
Yankees outfield of Future? 1951 New York Yankees Spring Training camp photo:
Jackie Jensen, Mickey Mantle, Bob Cerv. 1950 photo: Bob Cerv and Joe DiMaggio
On the night Mariano Rivera crashed to the warning track, there was a real attempt to put such an injury into perspective. Could there be a more devastating injury than a Hall of Fame closer, lost for the year, when he’s already near retirement age, and his team is desperately trying to get on some sort of roll to live up to World Series expectations?
“Today, it seems like no,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Mo is Mo.”
The impact of Rivera’s injury goes well beyond the here and now, but the truth is, there are few teams in baseball better equipped to handle such an injury. The Yankees have a former league-leading closer in Rafael Soriano and arguably the game’s best setup man in Dave Robertson. If they choose to make the move, they could slide Phil Hughes out of the rotation and into a bullpen role in which he’s had success.
“You get the jitters either way coming into a game,” Robertson said. “It’s just a matter of making your pitches and doing it quickly, getting the guys out. You can’t let runners get on base. It’s a lot different now. We don’t have Mo behind us anymore, so I’ll have to tighten up when I get into a game.”
Girardi has said both Robertson and Soriano will get some save opportunities, though it seems that he might lean more toward Robertson for the time being. How many teams would have those two as their second and third string options in the ninth inning?
“I talked to the pitching coach and I said, ‘You can use me any time you want,’” Soriano said. “I’ll be ready for you guys.’”
Girardi said that, for now, there has been no discussion about putting Hughes into a setup role. Hughes has been shaky out of the rotation, but back in 2009 he was dominant in the eighth inning, and putting Hughes into the bullpen mix could again give the Yankees three proven, go-to relievers in the late innings. Girardi didn’t dismiss the idea, but he said he wouldn’t cross that bridge until he had to. There will be no discussion of who comes out of the rotation until Andy Pettitte is ready to join the rotation.
For now, the bridge to cross is an unexpected one. Barring a stunning recovery, the Yankees are facing a season without the greatest closer of all-time. It’s a stunning development for so many reasons, but the Yankees just might be physically prepared to handle it. Robertson certainly looked up to the task last night.
“I’ll be around,” Rivera said. “You guys don’t get rid of me so easily. I’ll be around, and we will talk. Definitely all my advice and all my heart and all my knowledge will be there.”
Alex Rodriguez has started at designated hitter more than any other Yankees player this season. Today will be his ninth DH start. Raul Ibanez and Derek Jeter have done it five times apiece. No one else has done it more than twice.
“He’s fine,” Joe Girardi said. “Don’t make anything of it. He is fine and I’m just trying to keep him as fresh as I can. If you’ve noticed, I’ve only sat him one time in 26 games. I’ve only had to sit him one time and it’s because I’m able to do what I’m doing.”
Girardi made it clear in spring training that he expected to give Rodriguez regular turns at DH, but it’s still a bit surprising to see it in a third of the team’s games. This will be Rodriguez’s second straight DH start, which Girardi said is in preparation for tomorrow’s day game. With a short turn around, Girardi wanted to give Rodriguez a little bit of rest so that he won’t need a full day off.
Also, Girardi said, the number of DH days will begin to dwindle after Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner come off the disabled list. For now, Raul Ibanez has been playing the field against right-handed starters, which opens some chance for other players to DH. That won’t be the case much longer, and Girardi is trying to take advantage while he can.
• Swisher might play tomorrow, but Girardi said that depends on how he gets through today’s activity and what the training staff says tomorrow. “He’s going to do everything today,” Girardi said. “He’s going to hit. He’s going to do defense. He’s going to run the bases, and we want him to run them pretty hard to see. It’s kind of a test.”
• Gardner is scheduled to hit on the field today. If that goes well, he’ll try to do the same thing tomorrow and could begin a rehab assignment as early as Monday.
• As you would probably expect, Girardi said Dave Robertson will be his closer today. My sense is that Robertson will be the regular closer until his workload gets out of hand, at which point Rafael Soriano will takeover for a day or two.
• Positive report on Eric Chavez, who told the Yankees that his neck is feeling better and the other symptoms have improved. Sounds like the Yankees believe he might be activated at the end of his seven-day stint.
• Girardi on today’s starter, Hiroki Kuroda: “I thought his slider was really good (last time) and I thought the location of his fastball was pretty good. We’ve talked about one of his keys is his sinker, and against a left-handed-hitting club, it’s important to get them on that fastball away from them and get some ground balls.”
• An interesting minor league note: Utility man Ronnier Mustelier has been called up from Double-A to Triple-A. He’s a little old for a prospect, but he hit pretty well last year and was hitting .353/.412/.598 with Trenton. He can play second, third and the outfield. Don’t rule him out completely for a big league role at some point. Could be a useful utility type, especially considering the top hitters in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so far have been limited defensive players (except Kevin Russo, who’s hit pretty well, especially recently).
1930 New York Yankees trade OF Cedric Durst and cash for Boston Red Sox starter Red Ruffing
May 6,1930- The New York Yankees obtained P Charles “Red” Ruffing (1930-1942,1945-1946) from the Boston Red Sox for OF Cedric Durst and $50,000 in cash. Red would led the New York Yankee pitchers in career wins with 231 wins, until the club record was passed by Whitey Ford in 1967, who finished with 236 wins as a Yankee. Also he was a pretty good hitting pitcher for the Yankees hitting .270 with 31 HRs and 213 RBIs. Ruffing will win 273 games during a 22-year MLB career with the Boston Red Sox, Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. He will gain election to the Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 1967.
The tarp is on the field and a lot of rain in the forecast. It’s going to be an erratic day for Phil Hughes to try to show some consistency.
“I want to pitch well,” Hughes said yesterday. “There’s always that, I think. I got off to a slow start, and there’s pressure to prove that you belong here, and that you can help this team win. That’s always the case.”
With Andy Pettitte possibly making his final minor league start this afternoon, Hughes is running out of time to prove he belongs. He showed some positive signs in his previous start — and it’s hard to believe David Phelps has an unbreakable grip on a rotation job — but another bad outing this afternoon could mean a bullpen job for Hughes.
“You don’t want someone to take your job?” Joe Girardi said. “Go out and pitch lights out.”
Part of the challenge for Hughes is matching quantity with quality.
His fastball velocity was up last time out, and he seemed to be throwing quality strikes early in the count, but Hughes has not consistently put hitters away. He’s pitched through the fifth inning only twice this season and has yet to pitch through the sixth. To help put away hitters more quickly and easily, Hughes has begun to lean more heavily on his curveball because he trusts it far more than his changeup or cutter, and he believes it’s a more effective secondary pitch.
“Just come out aggressively and throw strikes,” Hughes said. “I feel like my arm strength is really good right now. I just want to hone that in and get some quick outs, and go deeper in the game, and be a little more efficient. … It’s something that I’d like to do, maintain velocity throughout the start, but to do that I have to get some efficient outs and make sure I’m not throwing 25- or 30-pitch innings.”
•The weather doesn’t look good, but Girardi said he’s been told the best window to play ball is from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. local time. That’s why he’s planning to stick with Hughes as his starter rather than having a reliever start the game in anticipation of a rain delay. The longest rain-free stretch might be at the very beginning of the game.
• Nick Swisher is back in the lineup at DH, and Girardi expects him to be in right field on Tuesday. Part of the reason Alex Rodriguez was the DH yesterday is that Girardi was planning to have Swisher DH today.
• Pettitte is scheduled for 90-100 pitches this afternoon in Rochester. Girardi said it’s not a sure thing that this will be his final tuneup. “You’ve got to feel his pitches are where they need to be to compete,” Girardi said. Part of the key is making sure Pettitte was able to bounce back after throwing nearly 100 pitches last time out.
• The Yankees will stay on rotation, which means Ivan Nova will start Tuesday, followed by David Phelps and CC Sabathia.
• Brett Gardner will take full batting practice inside today. Assuming he comes through that fine, Girardi said it’s likely he’ll start a rehab assignment on Monday in Rochester. Girardi said Gardner will likely need two or three games. “Really, it depends on how he feels and how he feels he’s swinging,” Girardi said.
• According to Girardi, Eric Chavez is “doing great” and scheduled to see a doctor on Tuesday. The Yankees expect him to come off the disabled list on Thursday, the first day he’s eligible.
• Mariano Rivera is scheduled to see a few different doctors on Monday or Tuesday. While Girardi said there’s an extremely outside chance Rivera could come back at the end of this season, “I think it’s really doubtful,” he said.
1966 New York Yankees GM Ralph Houk fires Manager Johnny Keane and returns to the Yankees Dugout to run the team
May 7, 1966- After only four victories in the first 20 games of the 1966 American League season, the Yankees Manager Johnny Keane was fired and was replaced by the team's General Manager and former skipper, Ralph Houk. The 1966 New York Yankees would post a 70-89 record; finishing last in American League. Johnny Keane was the wrong manager for the veteran Yankees, replacing the popular Yogi Berra in October of 1964. Ralph Houk deserved to finish last place in 1966, since he was responsible for some of the poorest player personnel moves ever made in the team’s history, including the hiring of Johnny Keane to replace Yogi Berra, while he was the Yankees General Manager (1964-1966).
October 1964, GM Ralph Houk hires Johnny Keane to replace Yogi Berra as new Team Manager
Mo, thank you very much for thinking of me...and all the rest of the other interested Catholics...was very busy all weekend so I have some catching up to do...wonderful readings...I have already bookmarked the web site for further "nourishment"...inherently, I'm a very slow reader so it will take me some time to digest these inspirational messages...but it will be time well spent...great game yesterday...seem as though the mid- bats are alive and well...next series should be a huge test...GO YANKEES!!!:
"...let it be known that as of this date in Major League Baseball history the one, truly honest single season home run record...61 in '61..."