Hughes’ Inability To Pitch Inside Isn’t Doing Him Any Favors

Hughes 4-13

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

For a season that’s only two weeks and eleven games old, it’s already been an incredibly trying one for Phil Hughes.  After losing a lot of ST time due to another back issue, Hughes returned to the rotation a week ago Saturday and got touched up pretty good by the Tigers.  He made his second start this past Saturday, in place of Andy Pettitte after being skipped over for the top of the rotation after the rain-outs in Cleveland, and turned in an even worse performance, one of the worst outings of his career.

After picking out the flaws in Hughes’ approach in 2012, I thought he would be able to turn things around this season if he improved his fastball command and cut down on his early-count fastball usage in favor of his offspeed stuff to keep hitters off balance.  Not only has he failed to do that through his first two starts of this season, he added another frustrating wrinkle to his game on Saturday when he failed to pitch inside effectively to either right or left-handed hitters.

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Celebrity fans are just like us!

Since it’s an off day and I’m bored, here’s something for you to stare at for a while.

Believe me, it’s mesmerizing.

 

Celebrities, in this case, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, are just like us! They go to Yankee games and yell “Oh no!” when Phil Hughes gives up a home run to an Oriole.

Well, not exactly like us because he’s sitting in the Legends Seats. I went to last night’s game and was freezing my rear end off in Section 413 of the Upper Deck.

Anyway, Happy Monday! Continue reading Celebrity fans are just like us!

This week in Yankee baseball

The second week of the season went quite a bit better for the New York Yankees than the first week did.  The team is holding its own in the standings despite its rag-tag offense. Other than Phil Hughes, the rotation had a good week with Andy Pettitte, C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda all pitching well. It was too bad that there were two postponements in Cleveland as the Yankees could have further enjoyed the soft underbelly of the Indians’ rotation. But otherwise, it was a good week, concluding with a series win against the rival Orioles.

Monday is an off day so the Yankees uniform manager will not have to worry about preparing all those #42 uniform numbers (unless the team wears them on Tuesday—have not heard). And then Tuesday, open a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Stadium.

The first game of that series will feature Ivan Nova (pronounced, “Nover,” up here in Maine) versus Brandon McCarthy. Both pitchers have struggled early in this season (and Nova going back to last season). McCarthy will bring good control and a heavy sinker and is getting a lot of ground balls this season. He also features a cutter and a curve.

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Lineup Vs. Lefties Still Needs Work

Despite having two consecutive games rained out in the middle of a major offensive outburst, the Yankees didn’t miss too many beats this past weekend against Baltimore, winning the series and continuing the positive trends that we started to see last week.  Their top two starting pitchers each threw their best games to date on Friday and Sunday, combining to allow just 1 ER in 17 IP; they continued to get production from their collection of new guys as their injured lineup core mends; Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis continued to pace the middle of the lineup with patience and power, and even Brett Gardner started to show some signs of life at the plate.

There is still one key area on this team that needs to be addressed, however, and that’s the lineup against lefties.  It hasn’t gotten much attention lately as the Yankees have faced a long string of right-handed pitchers, but against Wei-Yin Chen last night Joe made wholesale changes to his lineup card to try and generate some more offense and, save for one inning, his changes didn’t lead to much.

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The Farm Report: 4/14/13 Scranton finally played baseball again!

After battling rain and “unplayable field conditions” due to all the rain, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders managed to finally get on a field and play some baseball. The last time the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate were able to don their uniforms was Tuesday, but on Sunday they managed to make up for some of that, splitting a doubleheader against Buffalo. Trenton picked up a big win, while Tampa lost the rubber game in their series against Daytona. Charleston put together a seventh inning rally to tie Augusta, eventually sending the game into extras, where it will stay until June 13th as it has been called due to rain.

Scranton lost to Buffalo 6-1 in Game 1 (7 innings):
The RailRiders struck first, but a terrible start by Dellin Betances doomed them in Game 1. Corban Joseph started the game with a single to center, scoring on a single by Dan Johnson later in the inning for a 1-0 lead. Betances took the mound and immediately gave up back-to-back singles to Jim Negrych and Anthony Gose. A wild pitch moved the runners and Moises Sierra drew a walk, loading the bases. Betances picked up his first out of the game, striking out Mauro Gomez, but Josh Thole grounded a single to left, scoring two runs. Andy LaRoche did the same, scoring Sierra and moving Thole to second. A walk to Ryan Langerhans juiced the bases again. Betances got Eugenio Velez to pop out to short, but that was enough for Scranton manager, Dave Miley, who called on Josh Spence.

Spence gave up a double to Ryan Goins, scoring three more runs before getting Negrych out to end the inning. The damage was already done, however, as Buffalo held a commanding 6-1 advantage. Scranton had a chance to work a comeback in the sixth, as David Adams lined a single to left and Zoilo Almonte drove a double to the outfield. Dan Johnson drew a walk, loading the bases, but Austin Romine hit into a double play. Cody Johnson struck out ending the inning with Scranton coming up empty as they took the 6-1 loss.

Joseph, Adams, Almonte and Gil Velazquez each went 1-3, with Almonte’s double being the lone extra base hit of the day. Dan Johnson went 1-2 with a RBI. Betances ended the day having lasted just two outs, giving up six runs on four hits, two walks and a strikeout. Ryan Pope did the bulk of the work, going three innings and allowing three hits. Spence lasted 0.2 and gave up one hit, which brought home a couple inherited runners. Jim Miller went 1.2 innings and gave up a hit, two walks and struck out one.

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Kuroda and Gardner lead the way to Yankee victory over the Orioles

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The New York Yankees, behind a complete game shutout by Hiroki Kuroda, and a three-run fifth inning by the Yankees’ makeshift lineup, took the series from the Baltimore Orioles, two games to one. Jayson Nix drove in the first run in the fifth inning off of Orioles’ starter Wei-Yin Chen with a sacrifice fly and then Brett Gardner hit a booming two-run homer to round out the scoring.

Kuroda was magnificent. He had all of his pitches working and induced 21 ground balls in 25 batted balls by the Orioles, allowing only five hits and no walks. Kuroda struck out five and even worked around two errors by the left side of his infield. The Yankees’ starter threw 70% of his 113 pitches for strikes and it was not until the ninth inning when a runner got to second on defensive indifference, did the Orioles get a runner into scoring position.

Wei-Yin Chen matched Kuroda for the first four innings though he was not as sharp as Kuroda. It seemed like Chen was in the middle of the strike zone most of the time and the Yankees could not square him up. Kevin Youkilis just missed a homer in his first at bat. In Brett Gardner’s second at bat, the center fielder fouled off six straight down-the-middle pitches before hitting into a double play.

But the Yankees broke through in the fifth. Brennan Boesch, a surprise starter in place of Ichiro Suzuki, hit his second straight single to lead off the inning. Francisco Cervelli followed with another single to left. Lyle Overbay hit a deep drive to right that allowed Boesch to tag up and go to third. Then Nix hit his sacrifice fly to deep right to score Boesch. Gardner then turned on an inside fastball and hit it a mile. The only question was if the drive would stay fair. It just barely did by bouncing off the top of the foul pole. The Yankees took a 3-0 lead and that is how the score ended.

Robinson Cano did not do much at the plate on this night, but he was terrific in the field and converted a double play in the eighth inning that was spectacular.
This win was all Kuroda. He exploited the Orioles weakness of not being patient a the plate to perfection and never gave them a chance. Kuroda improved his record to 2-1. Chen took the loss and dropped his record to, 0-2. Continue reading Kuroda and Gardner lead the way to Yankee victory over the Orioles

Game Thread: Orioles vs. Yankees, Sunday April 14

The Yankees and Orioles have split the first two games of their series, in a snapshot of what the entire season will be like in the AL East, with no one team in a position to dominate the others. The Yankees don’t need to win today’s rubber match, but it would be good if they did. A win will move them back above .500, and it will also defend their home field. Hiroki Kuroda takes the mound for the Pinstripes. Kuroda has yet to have a good start this year. Now would be a good time for him to get into a groove. Baltimore will counter with Wei-Yin Chen, who has pitched decently in his two starts this year. Use this as your game thread. Enjoy! Continue reading Game Thread: Orioles vs. Yankees, Sunday April 14

Stronger than expected

It would be an understatement to say that the Yankees started the season flat. But all it took was a couple games in Cleveland for the Bombers to start exceeding expectations. Five wins and five losses is far from a hot start, but it leaves the Yankees just one game behind the Red Sox for the AL East lead, and it is precisely the kind of performance the Yankees need to remain in the hunt until Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter return.

Most of the focus has fallen on Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells, new Yankees who have gotten off to unsustainable hot starts to help keep the team competitive, but the best two players on the team have been old hands: Robinson Cano and CC Sabathia. Cano started the season right where he left things off in the playoffs. He was ice cold. Since the opening round versus Boston, however, Robbie has caught fire. He’s put together as strong a 10 games as any in his career, posting a .434 wOBA. If there has been any weakness to Robbie’s game throughout his career it has been his risk to start slowly in the cold months. So far it looks like Cano is getting off to a hot start, and the Yankees will be the beneficiaries. Continue reading Stronger than expected