Susan Lulgjuraj has been a sports reporter for more than 10 years, covering the Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Phillies, Little league and everything in between. Susan also grew up a New York Yankees fan and sat with the Bleacher Creatures for many years.

Author Archives: Susan Lulgjuraj

ARod on the road to 3,000 hits

arodmiami

Courtesy of Getty Images

I’m going to the Yankees game tonight. If Arod is still not at 3,000 hits, I may go tomorrow too.

It’s no secret that I don’t hate him – or many others here at IIATMS. So, I am looking forward to ARod getting his 3,000th hit. Not for me. Not for baseball. But because I think it would be good for ARod.

He needs three more hits to get that elusive mark. Just 28 players have reached that plateau in MLB history.

There has been no fanfare. No crazy marketing push. No ARod to 3K.

And that’s OK.

I think ARod has turned the corner this year. He has said the right things, which is likely calculated, but what ARod has really done this year is shown the non-robot side of him. He teared up when he tied/surpassed Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. He has been one of the biggest cheerleaders in the Yankees dugout even while not playing.…

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Joe Girardi faces big test in Miller’s DL stint

Having two good – if not great – bullpen options makes being a manager look easy.

There’s not a great formula needed when you have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitching in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Pitch them both in either inning, it hasn’t really mattered.

But things got curious over the last couple of days with Joe Girardi’s decisions. First, he said Betances off on Wednesday, and promised he didn’t plan on using him even though the Yankees were off on Thursday. Betances threw 14 pitches the night before.

Sure, there is a long stretch of games coming up, but Betances is not going to be needed in every game in this stretch.

Then, it was announced after yesterday’s game that Andrew Miller was headed to the deal with a forearm muscle strain. There goes the closer, but the Yankees have Betances sliding into his spot in the ninth.

Yet, the worrisome part is that Miller stated to reporters after yesterday’s game that his issue didn’t occur suddenly.…

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This could be an interesting week for the Yankees

I feel like we have been here before. The last couple of the seasons the Yankees had a solid start with different players coming through in the clutch.

And, then, things fell apart – or more that it just stays even.

New York has lost 7 of its last 8, and won just two games on its recent nine-game road trip. These two days off this week may very well be needed as it starts a six-game home stand followed by a seven-game West Coast road trip tomorrow. Their next day off is not until June 4.

This coming week could be an important one in the Yankees season. Two months in, and things start to potentially show how the Yankees are going to play for the rest of the season.

In 2013, the Yankees were 30-18 on May 31. Starting on June 1, they finished the season 54-53, a mediocre team.

Last season, New York was just average the entire time with a few moments where it looked better than just OK.…

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ARod’s ‘marketable milestones’ take away his rights

The Yankees brass has made its intentions known without having to show it off on their high-def scoreboard.

When Alex Rodriguez hits home run No. 660 to tie Willie Mays for fourth all-time, their celebration will be tame. No red carpet. No champagne bottles. No commercials or special t-shirts. No, he will not get the “DJ3K” treatment.

Several outlets have reported how the Yankees are going to fight back against Arod’s special contract where he is supposed to receive what can be an extra $30 million for his milestone home runs – $6 million for each. Just don’t call them milestones. Seems the Yankees aren’t interested in that.

However, the New York Post story left me a bit baffled. According to their very special sources with knowledge of the situation, ARod would sign over his image rights and associated branding for $6 million a home run.

Really? Why?

I’m not thrown back by the Yankees wanting to keep the money in the battle over the contract.…

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The expectations of ARod in 2015

Alex Rodriguez crushed one Wednesday, home run number 656 of his career. Rodriguez sits fifth all-time for career home runs and needs four more to tie Willie Mays.

Two home runs already from Rodriguez might be more than many were expecting from the slugger. Over the last five years, Rodriguez has had multiple hip surgeries and faced a lengthy suspension as his play followed a downward track.

But through nine games this season, Rodriguez is hitting .286 with a .394 on-base percentage and .571 slugging. Beyond his home runs he has seven RBI and five walks, along with 12 strikeouts.

Adjust some of those numbers for a full 162-game season and we have 36 home runs and 126 RBI – essentially matching his last good, healthy season in 2010.

However, the reality is we don’t know what we are going to get from Rodriguez this year. Signs point in a positive direction if you’re a Yankees fan, but the optimism comes with a warning label.…

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Tanaka looks to rebound against the Red Sox

Tanaka vs TOR 2015

Courtesy of the AP

This early in the season, you want to find positives about the Yankees.

Yet this team has made it difficult with its blunders on defense, mistakes on the base paths and the poor hitting thus far. However, even after all that, one of the biggest topics that New York is going to face this year is the effectiveness of Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees signed Tanaka for $155 million for seven years. Last season, he suffered a partial tear of the UCL of his right elbow, and after his terrible first start of 2015 many have wondered why Tanaka didn’t just get Tommy John surgery since all the cool kids are doing it.

The Yankees have said that Tanaka is still working back and haven’t sounded the alarms just yet.

“This is not totally shocking,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild told reporters. “I think he’s still in the process of building arm strength and everything. His arm strength is not far off.…

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Let’s forget about a closer for a little while

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has yet to name a closer for this season.

Hopefully, it stays that way.

Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are the two big arms for the back end of the Yankees bullpen and Wednesday was a glimpse in how they should be used this season. Girardi brought in Betances, a righty, to face the Toronto Blue Jays’ big right-handed bats in the heart of their order in the eighth inning: Russell Martin, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Miller, a lefty, finished the ninth in order.

Betances didn’t pitch a clean inning, giving up two walks, but he was brought in when New York was down 2-1 in the eighth to keep the Yankees within striking distance. Even though an unearned was given up on Brian McCann’s throwing error, the Yankees still had life, and they took advantage of it the next inning by scoring three runs.

The key is that Betances and Miller knew their roles heading into the game based on the lineup.…

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Game 128 quick recap: McCann can, and did; Yankees 7, White Sox 4

With David Robertson on the mound in the ninth inning, Sunday’s game against the Chicago White Sox felt close to a lock. The Yankees were on the verge of sweeping Chicago.

However, Robertson gave up a home run to Avisail Garcia in the ninth to knot the game at four runs apiece – and thus sent the Yankees to another extra-inning game.

And then …

Brian McCann hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall for a pinch-hit, three-run walk-off shot to give the Yankees a 7-4 win in the 10th inning. The win and the sweep – only it took an inning longer, and the Yankees did it in dramatic fashion.

The win puts New York six games over .500.

The Yankee fell early to Chris Sale, 3-0, with a run in the first and a two-run home run by Conor Gillaspie in the sixth. But the Yankees rallied back in the bottom of the sixth inning with four runs in the frame.…

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Game 125: Trying to get one

After losing two straight to the Houston Astros, the Yankees are trying to win the three-game finale at 1:05 p.m. today. They send Brandon McCarthy to the mound in hopes of ending their losing streak. McCarthy has been a hard-luck loser his last two outings. He have up two earned runs (two unearned in his last start) in each of his last two starts, but wound up losing both as New York was shut out in both games.

New York has lost seven of its last nine games,putting them five games behind the last Wild Card slot.

Before the game, the Yankees called up utility player Zelous Wheeler and sent down pitcher Chase Whitley.

Lineups
New York Yankees
Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Martin Prado, 2B
Chase Headley, 3B
Francisco Cervelli, C
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Zelous Wheeler, DH

Brandon McCarthy, RHP


Houston Astros

Robbie Grossman, LF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Chris Carter, DH
Dexter Fowler, CF
Marc Krauss, RF
Jon Singleton, 1B
Carlos Corporan, C
Matt Dominguez, 3B
Marwin Gonzalez, SS

Dallas Keuchel, LHP

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