Nets rolling since last meeting with Knicks

    Monday, January 21, 2013, 2:43 PM [General]

    NEW YORK -- In a Martin Luther King Jr. Day extravaganza, the Knicks and Nets will take center stage at Madison Square Garden in a matinee showdown between two of the Eastern Conference's elite.

    Since their last meeting at the Garden on Dec. 19, 2012, a lot has happened and the Nets have gained four games in the standings on their intra-city rival.

    The last meeting could be considered the low point of the season for the Nets. They dropped to 13-12 after their 11-4 start and the Knicks put on an absolute clinic. Brooklyn couldn't stop Tyson Chandler and the pick-and-roll, leaving Nets fans to wonder if they truly could compete with the likes of the conference’s best.

    A couple of days later -- and after another 1-2 stretch for the Nets -- Avery Johnson was fired.

    Since that point, Brooklyn has gone 10-2 under P.J. Carlesimo and is once again in striking distance to the top teams in the East.  The Knicks, on the other hand, have gone 6-7 since Dec. 19.  Both teams have been hamstrung by injuries, but it's really taken a toll on the Knicks more than the Nets. New York is currently on a two-game winning streak, but overall this has been the toughest stretch for the Knicks all season.

    A recent string of rest, however, could help the Knicks’ older roster. Following their Jan. 13 win over the Hornets, they traveled to London and defeated the Pistons on Jan. 17. Monday’s game against the Nets is their first contest since returning from England. New York won’t play again until Jan. 24.

    This game should be a lot more competitive than the last matchup. It is also the last regular-season meeting between these two teams. The NBA certainly made a big mistake by scheduling all four Knicks-Nets rivalry meetings this early in the season. Be that as it may, this game could give both fanbases a barometer of where their teams stand and where they could be headed.

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    Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012, 7:45 PM [General]

    Yankees fans, did you ever think you would see this picture? Comment away.

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    Live Blog for the Wednesday Matinee

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012, 12:57 PM [General]

    The Yankees ace, CC Sabathia, is having somewhat of an un-Sabathia-like season. He's already done two stints on the 15-day disabled list, which is strange being that between 2007-2011, he averaged exactly 240 innings pitched and 34 starts per season. He's had stretches where he hasn't been great, yet he does boast an impressive 13-3 record with a somewhat high, but not overly concerning 3.44 E.R.A in 21 starts. When you even delve deeper into the numbers though, he's given up three or more earned runs in 12 of his 21 starts, as opposed to 2011, when he gave up three or more earned runs in just 14 of 33 starts.

    He just hasn't gone on that Sabathia run in 2012 where he carries the rotation, is the stopper and the official ace. Last season between June 25 and August 1, he had eight starts where he went 7-1 and boasted a 1.01 E.R.A. and he seems to have had a run like that in him every year since he joined the Yankees in 2009.

    “It would be huge because we have other pitchers that have been throwing well,” Joe Girardi said before the game when asked about Sabathia going on a hot stretch. “He's obviously our ace. This time of year with the things we are going through and how tight the race is, that would be huge.”

    The D.L. stints have most certainly derailed his rhythm, but coming off this latest injury, he looked wonderful in his return to the mound. In a game that the Yankees needed to win, Sabathia did his job, going 7.1 innings, while allowing only one run and stiking out nine in his August 24th win against the Indians.

    “My concern was that when he went back out there, his command and that was really good,” Girardi said. “Then two days after his start how was he going to feel. The fact that he felt good and didn't have any of the symptoms that he had before was really reassuring for us.”

    It is essential for the Yankees that Sabathia is the ace that carries them through one of the toughest stretches, navigating through division rivals as they set their sights on another division title down the stretch. He has been good in August with a 3-0 record and a 2.74 E.R.A., but a good start against the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon giving the Yankees some much needed length would really go a long way for his confidence and the team.

    A couple of Pregame stats

    CC Sabathia has never lost to the Blue Jays in a Yankee uniform (6-0, with a 2.41 E.R.A. in 7 starts). 

    Jayson Nix is amazing against the Blue Jays this season .400 (10-for-25), seven runs scored (he has 21 total for the season).

    Let the live blogging begin:

    Bottom 9th

    Swisher lines out, Cano strikes out and Jones pops out to end the game. Jays win 8-5. Day off coming and the Yankees need it. They are 3-6 versus the White Sox, Indians and Blue Jays in the last three series. Wow!

    The Yankees are now 0-47 when losing after eight innings. They are just two up in the loss column to the Orioles who are coming to town this weekend. The Yankees just lost a series at home to a team that shouldn't have even sniffed a series victory. The Jays have been dreadful in August. However, the Yankees have not been much better.

    CC needed to be the stopper and didn't give the Yankees what they needed. The Yankees offense left an entire team of players on base today and were awful with runners in scoring position. Code Red! Code Red! This team is truly in trouble.

    Hope you enjoyed the live blog. I had fun and I'll do it again soon!

    Top 9th

    Jon Lane just tweeted that the Yankees are 16-19 in one run games this season and are 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position today. Brutal!

    To add to Jon's point, Buck's bunch in Baltimore is 24-6 in one run games this season and have won 13 in a row.

    Joba Chamberlain now in the game with the bases loaded. I thought he was only coming into low leverage situations. This is a huge spot for Joba. He's got to go to him here...not really by choice, but he has to go to him.

    Double by Yunel Escobar who is having himself an unbelievable game. Four hits in his five at-bats with five RBIs. It's now 8-5 Jays in Escobar's third four hit game of the season. Andruw Jones had a play on it. He dove for the ball, but it pops out of his glove. Very similiar to the play earlier, but to the other side of his body. Could he have made the play? Yes. Do I blame Jones? No.

    This game very well could be over.

    The Blue Jays had a seven game losing streak coming into this series and 2-11 in their last 13 coming into today's game. This is also a team that hasn't won a series since July 27-29 when they took two of three to Detroit. If the Yankees can't come back in the bottom of the ninth, they are going to lose a series to this pretty bad Blue Jays team sans  Jose Bautista. Things are not looking good right now for the Bombers.

    Bottom 8th

    Raul is cool as he leads off the inning with a double. Good start as the Yankees are on the comeback trail. The Yankees are 0-46 this season when losing after eight innings. Not a great stat at all!

    Our research director at YES, Jeff Quagliata, just IM'd me that in fairness they were 2-50 last season when losing after eight. Very true, but the 0 sounds a lot worse.

    Russell Martin hits a hot shot to third that would have normally been an out, but he gets a gift as the ball hops off the bag and goes into left for the gift double. Ibanez scores on the play and the Yankees are still firmly in this game. No outs with Martin on second. This is their opportunity. It's now 6-5 Jays.

    Bad at-bat for Ichiro! Can't drop the bunt down to get Martin over to third and then hits a blooper to center. Rasmus makes a great catch, but still the runner goes no where.

    In what might have been the last legitimate opportunity for the Yankees, Eric Chavez strikes out and then Derek Jeter flies out after an eight pitch at-bat. Martin left at second. He was stranded there with no outs. Tough break.

    Top 8th

    The Yankees again struggling with runners in scoring position. They are now 2-for-13, with seven left on base. That could certainly be their undoing today.

    With that Yunel Escobar leads off the inning with a double. He's certainly having himself a game. Three hits now and three RBI.

    Kelly Johnson bunts one past Derek Lowe for a base hit. The Jays are set up with runners in scoring position and no outs.

    Boone Logan in the game to work to Colby Rasmus, the hero of Monday night's game.

    Logan gets a huge strikeout of Rasmus for the first out of the inning. Here comes Girardi again, playing the bullpen game. Eppley now in the game to face Mathis and the double play is still in order.

    My colleague Jon Lane, just made a good point. Eppley coming in here, in a big spot. Has Joba moved down on the pecking order? Methinks he has. Rightly so, he's given up 15 hits and seven earned runs in 6.2 innings since his return.

    SAFETY SQUEEZE! Mathis drops it down, gets thrown out at first, but Escobar scores extending the Blue Jays lead. A very nice play there by Farrell and the Blue Jays. 6-4 Jays. A very big insurance run right there for Toronto.

    Bottom 7th

    Jon Lane just asked me, "No hot cocoa with your ceremonial ice cream?" To which I responded, "Too hot." The hot cocoa will be back soon enough. I don't want to rush it just yet!

    Doing my Chevy Player of the Game duties right now. I'll be back ASAP.

    Aaron Lupe now in the game. Farrell going with the lefty on lefty matchup with two outs to face Curtis Granderson.

    Lupe wins the battle. There is a reason lefties only hit .154 against him this season.

    Top 7th

    Russell Martin now behind the plate and Eric Chavez moves to third base. Sabathia needs a quick inning.

    Cody Eppley up in the bullpen. Sabathia at 98 pitches through 6.2 innings.

    Pitch number 99 for CC yields an awesome defensive play in left by Ichiro. Adam Lind hit a hot shot to left and with the sun in Ichiro's eyes, he leaped and made a great catch to end the inning. Sabathia under 100 pitches, will he come back for another inning?

    Ichiro continues to prove all of his doubters wrong. He can still play.

    Bottom 6th

    Girardi doesn't pinch hit Eric Chavez for Nix. Nix rewards him with a double off the fire throwing Delabar.

    Ichiro strikes out on three flaming fastballs.

    Chavez now pinch hitting for Chris Stewart. He grounds to first, moving Nix to third, but it might be too little, too late. It's all up to Jeter now to get that tying run across.

    Jeter strikes out swinging to end the inning. Yankees are 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position today. The leadoff double by Nix is wasted.

    Top 6th

    Sabathia out on the mound. Through five innings he actually lowered his E.R.A. on the season from 3.44 to 3.33. His five strikeouts in the game have been mostly on his impressive slider that's loaded with movement today.

    Andruw Jones almost makes a great diving catch in right. I thought he had it, but the ball came out as he was diving. Great call by Angel Hernandez. I think that's the first time I've ever said that in my life.

    After the leadoff single, Sabathia gives up a two run home run to Yunel Escobar and that ball was crushed to left. It's now 5-4 Jays. I just can't get a pulse on Sabathia. He looks unhittable for a majority of the game and then gave up that cookie. Very strange outing to this point.

    That home run was Yunel Escobar's first home run in twenty career at-bats versus Sabathia. It was a hanging slider. Sabathia's slider was spot-on all day, up until that one that is.

    CC now throws a slider to Sierra that makes the young player look pedestrian.

    The third and the sixth innings have been the two innings in the game that have put him on the wrong side of the decision right now. Like the third, Sabathia threw a lot of pitches. His pitch count was in a good way coming into the inning and then he went out and threw 30 pitches. Not really his best stuff today, but CC has battled and keeps getting his terrific slider past hitters. He strikes out the side in the sixth, all on swing and miss sliders. Can the offense bail him out once more to give CC his 14th win on the season? We shall see.

    Bottom 5th

    Just got my ceremonial ice cream midway through the game and just like that Happ and the Jays go 1-2-3. I blinked and the inning was over. Happ now at 100 pitches through five innings. He won't be around too much longer. Kind of like my ceremonial ice cream.

    Top 5th

    Another ho-hum, eight pitch, 1-2-3 inning for CC Sabathia. Sabathia doing what an ace should do. He had a very rough third inning, but has bounced back by throwing two consecutive quick innings for a total of 17 pitches. Sabathia now at 61 pitches in five innings. With numbers like that, he should have the legs to go deep into this game. That after a 25 pitch third inning. Wow! Very impressive!

    Bottom 4th

    Happ seeing it from the other side of things as the Yankees work their fourth walk of the game. Jayson Nix leads off the inning with the walk and as you know nothing good can ever come of that.

    Ichiro with a double. Runners now at second and third with no one out. Ichiro's sixth double as a Yankee. He had 15 with the Mariners. He is also now hitting .291 since coming to the Yankees in is 35th game in Pinstripes.

    Chris Stewart pops one out in foul ground to the catcher. Bad out right there!

    Farrell calls for the intentional walk to Derek Jeter issuing a challenge to Nick Swisher. It sets up the double play with one out, but they are loading the bases for Swisher.

    Happ dials it up another notch and strikes out Swisher for the second out. It's up to Cano to get some runs on the board here and pad the lead. It was second and third with no one out and now it's bases loaded and two outs. This would be a boost to Happ and the Jays if they can get out of this unscathed.

    Cano strikes out to end the inning. In fact, he looked pretty terrible the entire at-bat. Shocking that Cano is now 3-for-19, a .158 average with the bases loaded this season. Two of his three hits are grand slams, but still very ugly numbers.

    Cano is now 0-for-his-last-9 after being 9-for-15 before this mini cold streak.

    Top 4th

    A much needed, nine pitch, 1-2-3 bounce back inning for CC Sabathia after the Yankees gave him back the lead. The Blue Jays went back to the free swinging bunch we saw from the first two innings as opposed to the team that worked counts in the third and scored three runs.

    Bottom 3rd

    Happ was crusing, but gave up a couple of walks. After a wild pitch, the runners moved to second and third. Granderson was at the dish with two outs. He reached out and hit a fly ball to left. It was a play that Davis should have gotten to, but it went over his head scoring two runs. The Yankees take the lead again on a double that should have been the final out. Defensively speaking this has been a very sloppy game by both teams.

    With Granderson's three RBIs today, he has 78 on the season. This is the second highest total in his career behind last year's 119 RBI.

    Granderson's three RBIs today also mark the eighth time this season that he's had a game of three or more RBI.

    Top 3rd

    Sabathia gives up his first hit of the game, a leadoff single by Jeff Mathis.

    Jayson Nix playing third base today commits the Yankees second error of the game putting two men on immediately to start the inning. No outs here and this is the first sign of trouble for CC.

    Rajai Davis with an excuse me single to right field. He really stretched to get his bat on that outside pitch from Sabathia. Bases are now loaded and no one out.

    Mike McCoy hits one right to Nix at third, he steps on the bag for the force and throws home as Stewart applies the tag on Mathis for the really sweet double play. Sabathia not out of the woods yet, but a very important play for the lefty ace. Nix with a little redemption there himself.

    On a 3-0 pitch to Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays runners went on a hit and run. A very bold call. Encarnacion getting the green light to swing on 3-0 and the runners going is a gamble, but it paid off as Davis scores to cut the Yankees lead in half.

    And just like that, Sabathia getting behind hitters now and Lind ties it up with an RBI single. Sabathia still in trouble. He's also thrown 20 pitches already this inning.

    Yunel Escobar ropes an RBI double to left. Wow, this outing got ugly in a hurry for Sabathia, who got that all important double play earlier in the inning. A three spot for the Blue Jays.

    CC strikes out Kelly Johnson to end the inning, but the damage is done. All three runs scored that inning were unearned because of the Nix error, but those runs really were on CC. He's now at 44 pitches after three in a game, which he needs to give the Yankees length. 25 pitches thrown in just that inning for CC.

    Bottom 2nd

    J.A. Happ throwing his warmups, seems to have hobbled himself, but he will stay in the game.

    After limping on the mound to start the inning, what does Happ do? Only strikes out the side. The bottom of the order took some weak hacks there to go down 1-2-3.

    Top 2nd

    CC Sabathia's strikeout of Adam Lind in the first was his 150th strikeout of the season. He has now reached that plateau in eight consecutive seasons (2005-2012). He is now at 151 with the leadoff strikeout of Yunel Escobar.

    Another impressive inning for the Yankees ace. 19 pitches, 15 for strikes, in his two innings of work. The Blue Jays are a very free swinging team. This team is taylor made for the likes of CC Sabathia, which is why he's 6-0 in seven starts against them as a Yankee.

    Bottom 1st

    The Captain is now hitting .398 (47-118) when leading off in the 1st inning. He redeemed himself with the bat in the bottom half of the inning with his league leading 176th hit. Just a note, Derek Jeter has not led the league with most hits since he had 219 in 1999. He was just 25-years-old. What an unbelievable feat if he can do it again as a 38-year-old.

    Andruw Jones, hitting in the Yankees cleanup spot with the Jays lefty J.A. Happ on the mound, comes through with an RBI single up the middle giving the Yankees the 1-0 lead. This was a much needed hit for Jones as he was hitting .129 (8-for-his-last-62), with one home run and just four RBI since July 19. That's a 22 game cold stretch for Jones.

    Yankees manufacture another run as Granderson grounds out, but allows Nick Swisher to score. Sabathia now has a 2-0 lead.

    Top 1st

    CC Sabathia came out firing. He got two outs immediately on three pitches. It could have been an even quicker inning, as on his fifth pitch of the inning, Derek Jeter had a ball hit to him that he usually gets. Edwin Encarnacion reached on the E6, but CC immediately got out of inning striking out the cleanup hitter Adam Lind on four pitches. Sabathia threw only nine pitches in the first. So far, so good for the Yankees ace.

    Derek Jeter's error was his ninth of the season.

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    King Felix

    Saturday, August 4, 2012, 4:08 PM [General]

    Enough said.

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    Swisher starting Boston finale

    Sunday, July 29, 2012, 5:51 PM [General]

    Nick Swisher's road to recovery began on Saturday night when he pinch hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, eight days after he strained his left hip flexor at Oakland. The next step comes this evening when he starts in a game for the first time since that July 20 contest on the West Coast.

    “It's exciting, it's exciting,” Swisher said to the media before the game. “I'm the type of guy that I'm not a big fan of missing games, so whenever I can be back in there doing what I can to help the team, I want to be in there.”

    The lineup was put out, and in the series finale, Swisher will be the designated hitter, batting fifth. Again, another step on the road to recovery -- not going full-out playing the field, and just taking somewhat of a precaution.

    “I think I'm going to DH today and move to the field tomorrow,” Swisher said. “I feel pretty good right now. I mean, if they needed me out there, I would do everything in my power to go out there and play it. I feel just today maybe go with the DH, getting back in that game-speed-type atmosphere, and then move out to the outfield tomorrow.”

    Even though Swisher was optimistic about getting back out to the field for Monday's series opener against the Orioles, Joe Girardi said he's “day-to-day,” and they will see how this game goes and how he feels tomorrow.

    In the 10 games before the injury, Swisher's bat was heating up. He was 9-for-28, a .321 average, with two home runs and seven RBIs from July 7 to July 19. And even though the Yankees' offense has been very good in his absence, the switch-hitter does create many matchup problems for opponents.

    The problem with most players in baseball, including Swisher, is that they just want to go out and play and sometimes don't think of the long-term consequences of playing through even minor injuries.

    “I think that's my biggest enemy, that's my biggest fight, is me,” Swisher said. “I want to be out there, and sometimes it takes another side or another party to really tell you things that could happen. This is a special year, and I don't want to miss any part of this, and I just want to do what I can when I'm on the field to help this team.”

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    The curious case of Brett Gardner

    Monday, July 16, 2012, 5:58 PM [General]

    The curious case of Brett Gardner continues to be a head scratcher. What initially was supposed to be a 15-day stint on the disabled list, has now turned into months and months of guessing what is wrong with him.

    After four at-bats yesterday in a simulated game, Gardner is sore today and had to be shut down once again.

    "He came up a little sore today, so he's not playing today," Girardi said before Monday night's game. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow and we'll go from there."

    This is something that continues to happen to Gardner and is quite puzzling.

    "It's a concern because it's happened before," Girardi said. "Hopefully he can just get through this and he'll continue to play, but we'll have to wait and see."

    Girardi went on to say, "The doctors have all come up with the same diagnosis, it is puzzling. We expected that he would get through this and our hope is that he'll still get through this, but today he was sore."

    Our own Jack Curry reported that Gardner's agent Joe Bick said that Gardner told him, "If I would have had to take batting practice today, I couldn't have done it." Gardner also said through Bick according to Ken Davidoff of the Post, that Gardner is expected to have an MRI on Tuesday to see about what has been diagnosed right now as a strained right elbow.

    The mystery continues and now it is just the waiting game to see if Brett Gardner will be back at any point this season.

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    First-half awards

    Monday, July 9, 2012, 1:00 PM [General]

    The Yankees finished the first half in strong fashion, taking three of four at Fenway Park against their heated rival Boston Red Sox. The series victory not only gave the Yankees the best record in baseball, but the biggest lead in any division with a seven-game lead over the second-place Orioles, and it also buried the Red Sox to nine-and-a-half games behind in the AL. East. This is a pretty impressive feat considering the team was 21-21 at one point. They subsequently went 31-12 to get to their spectacular mark of 52-33 heading into the All-Star break.

    What's even more amazing is that the Yankees have done this essentially without the services of the greatest closer in the history of baseball, Mariano Rivera, who went down to a season-ending injury shagging fly balls earlier in the season in Kansas City. They also lost the services of starting leftfielder Brett Gardner early one, whose injury was not thought to be serious, but has lingered for several months. Recently, the Yankees lost their ace CC Sabathia to the disabled list for a couple of starts and Andy Pettitte, whose outlook for a return is not as bright.

    They just continue to win and dominate and we'll hand out some awards to some of the deserving individuals who have gotten the Yankees to this point in the season.

    First Half Team MVP
    Robinson Cano
    continues to not only be the most valuable player on the Yankees, but one of the best players in all of baseball. He ended the first half riding a 15-game hitting streak that he will take with him into the unofficial second half of the season. During this stretch he is hitting .393, with 24 hits, five home runs and 16 RBIs. In fact, his hot streak can be traced back to late May when he finally started adding pop to his already gaudy statistics. He has hit 16 home runs since May 22, a 42-game clip. Oh by the way, May 22 just happened to be the day the Yankees went over .500 at 22-21 powered by Robinson's blast giving the Yankees a 3-2 win in Kansas City. Since then the team has never looked back. That is the ultimate definition of a most valuable player.

    Cano is currently hitting .313 with 20 home runs and 51 RBIs, and is still just warming up.

    First Half Team Cy Young Award Winner
    How can there possibly be a winner in this category when the team has had great starting pitching and unbelievable work from the bullpen? Well there definitely is a clear cut winner in this category and the award goes to Rafael Soriano, who certainly can make a case for the MVP award.

    All Soriano has done is move into a no-win situation by taking over for the greatest closer in the history of baseball and thrive. He is 20-for-21 in save opportunities and has a miniscule 1.60 ERA. Since May 10, he has those 20 saves in 24 games, throwing 21.2 innings, striking out 22, walking only seven and in a word has been dominant.

    It's almost like the Yankees haven't missed a beat. You can never replace Mariano Rivera, but Soriano is a huge reason why the Yankees can feel confident that a game is over when winning after eight innings. This is definitely the same guy that the Yankees thought they were getting when they signed him after the 2010 season, when he had a league leading 45 saves with the Tampa Rays.

    The Comeback Player After an Awful Start Award
    The candidates for this award really reign in the starting rotation. The rotation had a bit of a rough start to the season, but has since picked it up. It was a tough choice on who would ultimately win this award, but Hiroki Kuroda wins the award over Phil Hughes. Hughes himself has had a rebirth after starting the season slow, but Kuroda has started to show why the Yankees signed him in the offseason to be a number two or three starter on a very good staff.

    Kuroda did not end the half well, giving up six earned runs in 5.2 innings pitched in Boston, but the Yankees won the game and it turned out to be a slugfest, so maybe the conditions had something to do with it. Kuroda started the season 3-6, with a 4.56 ERA and was very inconsistent. In fact, there were way more bad outings than good ones. However, since then he has gone 5-1, with a 2.47 ERA in his last eight starts. That ERA is also including his disastrous showing to end the first half in Fenway.

    If the Yankees are going to do some damage in the second half of the season and in the postseason, they will need Kuroda to be the pitcher from the second half of the first half.

    The Ageless Award
    Again this award could have gone to a couple of players, but ultimately the 38-year-old Derek Jeter beat out the 40-year-old Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has been stellar in his comeback, but Jeter essentially carried the team in April and into May. When the Yankees were 21-21 he was truly the lone bright spot still hitting .343 at that point. However, there were times during April and May that Jeter hovered around and above .400 and almost single-handedly winning games offensively while the rest of the bats were in a malaise.

    Jeter has since come back to Earth a bit, but is still hitting .308 before the break and is hitting .378, 14-for-37 in eight July games. He is defying the odds and doing things at his age that no other shortstop in the history of baseball has done. He's playing the position at a high level, while climbing the ranks of the immortals right before our very eyes.

    This Guy Just Wins Award
    What can be said about Ivan Nova that hasn't already been said? He's 10-3 with a 3.92 ERA before the break and all he does is win. People can say all they want that his results are the result of terrific run support, but this guy knows how to win. That is an intangible that can't be taught. Even with the run support argument, Nova has pitched some really huge games for the Yankees over the last two seasons and done it in convincing fashion.

    Over his last 33 starts dating back to June 10, 2011, Nova is 22-3 with a 3.59 ERA, while walking 64, striking out 169 in 215.2 innings pitched. I'm sorry, but 22-3 is 22-3, no matter how much run support you are receiving. That's almost a full season sample size and if he did put those numbers up during the course of a season he would win a Cy Young Award.

    Bottom line is Ivan Nova is a winner.

    The Unsung Hero Award
    This award could be presented to a number of different players on this team. Andruw Jones has 11 home runs in just 127 at-bats essentially off the bench. Raul Ibanez has been a sparkplug at times for a reeling offense. Eric Chavez has been a rock as a backup player. The bench has been amazing for the Yankees. When it came down to it though, the bullpen really has been over and above the best unit on the team for long chunks of time this season. One of the catalysts for this meteoric rise as a unit has been Boone Logan.

    Logan went from an untrusted lefty specialist to a legitimate setup man. He's 4-0 with a 3.77 ERA in 43 games and has given the Yankees some very important innings this season, while getting some extremely huge outs.

    Team Award
    All in all, the Yankees should be proud of the first half output they've put forth. They have put themselves into a position to win another division and make another run for a championship. This team can do some very special things, but they ultimately need to get healthy and get contributions from everyone. Even the players that have had somewhat of a slow first half as compared to their career numbers, they are starting to heat up with the weather.

    They win a team award for getting solid play from all of the separate units, stars and bench players alike. It also helps that this team award is given to the “best” team in the American League heading into the second half of play.

    Follow Joe Auriemma on Twitter: @JoeAuriemmaYES

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    Pitching, pitching, pitching

    Monday, June 18, 2012, 6:13 PM [General]

    The Yankees starting rotation is finally living up to the high expectations placed on them in Spring Training, all while ace CC Sabathia is not having his best stretch.

    As a team in June, the Yankees are a Major League best 13-2. Their bullpen has been tremendous all year and continues to be a rock, even without Mariano Rivera. However, the rotation is finally matching the rest of the staff's high quality of play. In June, the starters are 11-1 with a 1.97 ERA, striking out 104 in 105.1 innings pitched, walking only 26 and opponents are hitting just .224 against them. It's no coincidence that this has all happened while the Yankees are going through their nine-game winning streak. In fact, the pitching staff as a whole has only allowed 18 earned runs for a 1.88 ERA over the nine-game stretch.

    “I just think they're pitching the way they're capable and they're making pitches when they have to,” Joe Girardi said before Monday's game against the Braves. “They're locating pitches. They're mixing well and I just think they're on a roll right now. They are feeding off of each other. No one want to be outdone by the guy the night before and it's been really good.”

    Great starting pitching can also mask certain weaknesses with ballclubs. The Yankees offense, while on a power surge and scoring quite a few runs over this current streak, is still having trouble with runners in scoring position. However, that is not the story anymore as the Yankees are winning, and winning convincingly. Bottom line, great pitching trumps all.

    Nick Swisher news
    Joe Girardi told the media on the pregame press conference that Nick Swisher would most likely be unavailable tonight. Yankees director of public relations Jason Zillo addressed the media and confirmed that he would not only be unavailable, but that he tried to take some swings and he wasn't quite there yet.

    Swisher did say that he was going to try again tomorrow to get back on the field. Girardi was positive when he discussed the injury, stating that it was a lot better from the time the injury occurred to present.

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    The Yankees have already won

    Sunday, May 13, 2012, 12:34 PM [General]

    Yankees legend and icon Andy Pettitte is back in the Bronx. After the 2010 season, he swiftly retired seemingly with a lot left to offer the game of baseball. However, he has returned to give the Yankees and the fans everything that he has left in his soon-to-be 40-year-old tank. Pettitte is one of the few players that fans wished they could have seen just one more time in pinstripes, and now he's giving them almost an entire season.

    “There's going to be a real warmth in the stands today about him coming back,” Joe Girardi said about the atmosphere that will be in the Stadium in the series finale against the Mariners.

    For the fans of the Yankees, this is a very special treat. Pettitte is a once-in-a-generation type pitcher for an organization.

    To these people, he is the southern son of a city that appreciates his “awe shucks” calmness. That impassivity is not always welcomed by New Yorkers, however in his case, he is loved for it. How he has handled his business on the field, his killer instinct and his passion have created this love affair between player and city. The five-time World Champion has embraced the pressure that comes along with pitching on the world's biggest stage and has succeeded almost every time he's been called upon to do so. His 19 victories in postseason play are an all-time record and it's also no coincidence that he holds the record for most postseason series clinching victories.

    He's the ultimate model of consistency. The way he plays the game is the epitome of what Joe DiMaggio said about himself in 1951: “There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time, I owe him my best.”

    Pettitte always gives everything he has to his performances and even during his worst outcomes, you always know that Pettitte pitched as if it might be the last game he was ever going to appear in.

    When he was a rookie back in 1995, Pettitte's calm demeanor and larger than life presence almost made him like a veteran. Now, 240 Major League wins later, with 203 of those wins coming with the Yankees, comes back to lend a helping hand on the mound and in the clubhouse. He returns to guide the young pitchers and give the Yankees a much needed boost to a rotation that needs it.

    “I think he can do a lot on the field and off the field in the clubhouse,” Joe Girardi said before Pettitte's first start. “He's a leader; he leads by example; he can talk to the younger pitchers about things that he went through, because you look at our rotation and you've got Nova and Hughes, a couple of young pitchers that there's expectations. Andy's been through that, and I think he can help.”

    He may or may not pitch well in his first start. Pettitte could lose this game being that his last start was Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS, but whatever the outcome is, win or lose, the Yankees and the fans have already won, because Andy Pettitte is home where he belongs.

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    Gardner has setback on road to recovery

    Thursday, May 10, 2012, 6:22 PM [General]

    Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner was on the right road to recovery and was expected to come back to the Yankees as early as today. In two starts with the Triple-A Yankees, Gardner was 3-for-5 with a triple and a run scored. However, after he came out of the game on Wednesday night, he had a setback in his recovery process.

    “After the game last night he came out and he was sore, so as we speak, I believe he's having another MRI," Girardi said. “I can't tell you when he's going to be available to us, but I can tell you it won't be today.”

    Girardi delineated a little more on the circumstance saying, “When he came out of the game he had a little swelling in there. I talked to (Yankees trainer) Stevie (Donahue) about it, and they brought him back and decided to have more tests today. It's in the muscular part; it's not where the bone bruise was.”

    When asked by YES Network's Meredith Marakovits if this was a new injury, Girardi said, “It could be new. He had the bone bruise plus the muscular part before, but the muscular part had healed. He's feeling it in that area and he had some swelling. He played the whole game yesterday without a problem. It was after.”

    Gardner, before the injury, was 9-for-28 this season, with a .321 average and had two stolen bases. He has played a key role with the Yankees since his call-up to the Majors in 2008. His style of game, being an on-base machine at the back of the lineup and a stolen base threat every time he gets on base, just gives the Yankees another weapon on how they can defeat teams. It hasn't just been on the offensive side of the ball that he has impressed. As a left fielder, he is superb. Between Granderson in center and Gardner in left, they cover a lot of ground in the outfield.

    “We miss him. There's no doubt about it,” Girardi said of Gardner. “The way he was swinging the bat, his defense, the way he puts pressure on defense. We miss his presence in left field, but we've got to find a way to get it done without him, and as I said, I don't know when we're going to get him back -- I don't. I'm sure today will be much more revealing after he goes through the test and he probably is examined by the doctor and maybe see how it responds, how it feels tomorrow, but for right now we don't have him.”

    For the short term, at least until more information comes out on the nature of why Gardner had swelling in his arm, the Yankees will have to continue to make due without their reliable outfielder.

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    Notes: Swisher and Pettitte

    Monday, April 30, 2012, 6:46 PM [General]

    The latest on Nick Swisher

    Nick Swisher spoke to the media before the game on Monday and discussed his hamstring injury that got him pulled from the game on Sunday. He described it as a minor injury, and he felt a pinch in his first at-bat of the game.

    “I took that first swing and kind of felt something bite a little bit,” Swisher said. “Just tried to stretch it out and work through it. It didn't go away. The second at-bat came around and the same thing. I got to first base and just kind of jumped back on a pickoff. I went down to grab my leg and Stevie (Yankees Head Trainer Steve Donahue) and Skip (Joe Girardi) said, 'That's it. We're going to get you out of here.' "

    Swisher is having one of the hottest starts of his career hitting .284, with six home runs, 15 extra-base hits and 23 RBIs in just 21 games. Right now, the Yankees want to let it heal, give it a couple of days and there are no plans to put him on the disabled list.

    “I feel pretty good,” he said. “Game plan (the) next three days (is to) just kind of chill and me and Stevie get to know each other a little bit better. Then get back after it hopefully the first game in Kansas City.”

    The Yankees are going to have Swisher rest for a couple of days before he even swings a bat. He will be receiving treatment on his hamstring, and then once the Kansas City series begins, he may or may not take batting practice depending on how he reacts to the treatment.

    In 2007, Swisher had a hamstring injury in the same leg, but he said that injury felt a lot more severe. Even with that, he was only out for a 10-day period.

    It could very well be a week before Swisher comes back onto the the field, but he wants to make sure that this injury has healed fully before he does.

    “Me and Skip, we've got to get together and get a game plan,” he said. "From what I feel right now, I wouldn't see it being a week.” Swisher would later say, “I just got to do what I've got to do to get back on the field.”

    Andy Pettitte's outing in Tampa

    Pettitte pitched 5.2 innings and allowed six runs -- five earned -- in an Extended Spring Training start in Clearwater, Fla. on Monday afternoon against the Phillies. Those may not sound like positive numbers for the veteran southpaw, but he got his pitch count up to 96 and struck out nine, while giving no one a free pass today.

    He is on the right track and may get one more start before making his debut in a week or two with the Yankees' big club.

    Pettitte was originally supposed to make this start today in Portland, Maine with the Trenton Thunder, however, the weather conditions were a deterrent and the reason he made his start today in Tampa.

    A concern is that he did give up another 10 hits today, which is probably the reason the Yankees want to see one more start out of Pettitte throwing over 100 pitches. Stamina and control were issues he cited after the game in Trenton, which is quite understandable in being out of the game for a full season. However, he should be with the Yankees after his next scheduled start barring a major setback.

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    Roster moves

    Sunday, April 29, 2012, 1:12 PM [General]

    The Yankees are making moves, trying to sure up their rotation and bullpen. Unfortunately, through only 20 games this season, this is a move that needed to be made. At present, the Yankees only have five quality starts, a 6.37 ERA and are only averaging 5.1 innings per start. With numbers like that, the Yankees' spectacular bullpen is bound to be taxed.

    Freddy Garcia, with his 12.51 ERA this season and two consecutive outings of less than two innings per start is on the move to the bullpen. Yankees manager Joe Girardi alluded to the fact that David Phelps is the best candidate to move into the rotation and will most likely make the next start when Garcia's spot comes up.

    D.J. Mitchell was called up to the big club, while Cody Eppley was optioned down to Triple-A after pitching three innings in the bullpen on Saturday. Mitchell and Garcia will most likely take Phelps' role as the long man in the bullpen.

    The Yankees will have to make a decision after Andy Pettitte makes his way back to the Major Leagues. There are several ways the Yankees can go. One is making a full decision on Garcia's future with the club. He is not built for the bullpen and the Yankees have a lot of pitching depth in their system.

    We'll know more over the next couple of weeks, but for now the Yankees have made some decisions that should help the team right now.

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