Pettitte strong in return as Yankees beat Blue Jays 4-2

The Yankees started their doubleheader by sending Andy Pettitte to the mound for the first time since he was injured in June. He looked sharp in his first inning, striking out Rajai Davis to start. With Derek Jeter out of the lineup for the day game, Ichiro Suzuki took the lead-off position and promptly lined a single to right. Nick Swisher, looking to break out of an 0-10 skid, fouled the ball off his foot but battled back before driving a single to right and putting runners on the corners. Cano followed with a double over the head of Colby Rasmus, plating Ichiro for the first run of the day. Swisher scored on a ground ball by Alex Rodriguez and Cano came home on a sac fly from Curtis Granderson, despite a strong throw by Rasmus, giving the Yankees an early 3-0 advantage.

Pettitte found himself in a little trouble in the second, walking Moises Sierra and allowing a hit to Adieny Hechavarria. With runners on the corners and two outs, Pettitte got Anthony Gose to ground out to first, keeping the Blue Jays scoreless. Davis started the third with a single that deflected off Eric Chavez and Brett Lawrie smacked the ball to Swisher at first. Instead of taking the easy inning-ending double play ball, Swish dropped the ball and flung it towards Pettitte at first. Luckily, no one scored and the next ball was a grounder to Cano who stepped on second and threw out Lind to end the inning.

The Bombers had a chance to add some insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Cano hit a one out single to center, giving the Yankees a baserunner. Rodriguez worked a full count, but watched strike three cross the plate. Cano tried to steal second and looked like he would be waiting on third for Granderson after a bad throw by Jeff Mathis. Instead, the home plate umpire called him out, as Rodriguez had begun to walk to the dugout, interfering with the Toronto catcher’s throw. A leadoff double by Hechavarria gave the Blue Jays a chance to get on the board in the top of the seventh. A nice catch by Chavez in foul territory gave the Yankees their first out and two fly balls to center kept the Yankee lead intact.

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Looking back at the 2012 Tampa Yankees

The Tampa Yankees had a tough 2012, ending the with a losing record (65-70) for the first time since 2005. The Yankees fell behind with a sluggish first half, but looked better during the second part of the season. The return of Slade Heathcott, along with the addition of players like Tyler Austin and Gary Sanchez helped the Yankees rebound towards the end of the year. Other Florida State League teams were not the only thing the Yankees had to battle, as weather (and the Republican National Convention) threw the last couple months of Tampa’s schedule in disarray. On more than one occasion, the Yankees played back-to-back days of doubleheaders in order to stay on track.

Pitching was inconsistent for the Yankees in 2012, excelling in some areas and instances while struggling at other times. Their team ERA of 3.77 put them right in the middle of the pack in the FSL, while they had the second highest WHIP (1.37). They only allowed 62 homers (3rd lowest) and their 1089 strikeouts were second only to Clearwater. They lead the league in walks, however, giving 498 free passes. Nik Turley had a very strong year on the mound for the Yankees, while Brandon Pinder and Mark Montgomery were solid out of the bullpen. It was no surprise that they all saw action for Trenton by the end of the season.

Offense was largely the same story for Tampa, as they were often right in the middle of the FSL. They had a team slash line of .254/.317/.372. Their on base percentage was their real weakness, as it only higher than Charlotte’s. This was in large part to drawing just 382 walks. Despite this, the Yankees had some strong offensive performances. Ramon Flores was a huge presence all season and Kyle Roller gave the Yankees some power with eighteen homers. Roller, along with Turley, made the FSL Postseason All-Star Team.

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Game 147: Take Two, Welcome Back Andy

Yup, we’ll get to see Andy Pettitte take the mound in the first game of a doubleheader today. The Yankees have sorely missed their left handed veteran since June 27th, and Freddy Garcia was hardly a replacement. He’ll be on some sort of pitch count today, so hopefully we get at least 5.0 solid innings pitched. The Blue Jays will send out Henderson Alvarez, who’s having a pretty awful 2012 season. In case you forgot, he’s an extreme contact pitcher with a tendency to generate groundballs. The game starts at 1:05 PM EST on YES. Go Yankees!

Game 147 – Andy

Two years ago today, Andy Pettitte made a return from a long stint on the disabled list. Today, history repeats itself. Hopefully, history repeats itself in how well Pettitte pitched in his return two years ago. Just as hopefully, let’s hope the results are not the same as the Yankees lost that game. What can we expect from Andy Pettitte? Who the heck knows. Four innings? Five? Effective? We’ll just have to wait and find out. The plan is for Pettitte to throw 70 pitches. Make them count, Andy.

And remember how that post written earlier today said that the Yankees do no have the luxury of resting regulars? Well, Derek Jeter is not starting this game. Umm…okay. The plan is to play him at shortstop in the second game.  The Blue Jays will be without their starting shortstop too for far different reasons which it is assumed you’ve heard about. That is less of a loss for the Blue Jays than not starting Jeter.

Henderson Alvarez starts for the Blue Jays. Alvarez has thrown two straight quality starts for his team but has not fared well against the Yankees.

The Lineups:

Toronto Blue Jays:

  1. Rajai Davis – RF
  2. Colby Rasmus – CF
  3. Brett Lawrie – 3B
  4. Adam Lind – 1B
  5. Jeff Mathis – C
  6. Moises Sierra – DH
  7. Omar Vizquel – 2B
  8. Adeiny Hechavarria – SS
  9. Anthony Gose – LF

Henderson Alvarez – SP

New York Yankees:

  1. Ichiro Suzuki – LF
  2. Nick Swisher – 1B
  3. Robinson Cano – 2B
  4. Alex Rodriguez – 3B
  5. Curtis Granderson – CF
  6. Russell Martin – C
  7. Eric Chavez – 3B
  8. Raul Ibanez – RF
  9. Eduardo Nunez – SS

Andy Pettitte – SP

The Yankees catch a break with Edwin Encarnacion out of the starting lineup. Joe Girardi has spaced his lineup nicely to make it harder to bring in a lefty reliever as there is no string of lefties in the Yankees’ lineup until you get to Chavez and Ibanez.

Game time is at 1:05 and can be seen locally on the YES Network. Continue reading Game 147 – Andy

Those dang Orioles

A month and a half ago, I was asked on a podcast which team scared me the most in the American League East. The answer at the time was simple: the Tampa Bay Rays. Well, how silly does that look now? The Rays have swan dived in the last week and with two weeks left, do not appear to be much of a threat. The Baltimore Orioles, however, are another story. If the Orioles’ season did not affect the team we cover and care about, it would really be quite an amazing and thrilling story. No one gave them any chance of staying in the race. Everyone felt that the Orioles would fade eventually knowing the starting rotation that team has had to deal with all season. But the Orioles did not fade. The Orioles have stayed right in the thick of things and stand one game back of the Yankees in the loss column.

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The Jones/Ibanez Situation

No less than a week ago, I wrote about Andruw Jones’ declining bat speed. It appears that all that extra play in the outfield had an adverse effect on his bat. His counterpart, Raul Ibanez has been equally terrible. The Yankees essentially forced their aging designated hitters onto the field to cover for Brett Gardner, and hoped these players wouldn’t tire out. The plan didn’t work. Since the All Star break, Jones is hitting just .139/.252/.228 in 119 plate appearances, with just 2 homeruns. Then there is Raul Ibanez, who’s hit .194/.291/.347 in his second half. Over the last month, Continue reading The Jones/Ibanez Situation

Must read: Chip Buck on Yunel Escobar

As you all know by now, Yunel Escobar of the Toronto Blue Jays is a homophobic idot; he’s been suspended for three games for writing “Tu ere maricon” (“You are a faggot) on his eyeblack. Friend of the blog Chip Buck of Firebrand of the AL wrote a deeply personal response to Escobar’s actions. Chip’s a good writer and an even better guy, so this piece is most definitely worth your time.