Results tagged ‘ Chad Moeller ’

Yanks just outnumbered

If there is any evidence needed that games in Sept. 1 when rosters may expand beyond the 25-player limit become unwieldy and perhaps unfair, sent a tape of Friday night’s game between the Yankees and Rangers to commissioner Bud Selig, who would have to sit through 5 hours, 12 minutes like the rest of us had to do.

Rangers manager Ron Washington used 11 pitchers in 13 innings, none of whom got more than nine outs and four of whom got only one apiece. A bullpen that populated makes a mockery of late-inning matchups. Yankees manager Joe Girardi used eight pitchers, but all of them were in uniform prior to Sept. 1.

The Yankees did previous little against Texas’ revolving door of relievers and lost, 6-5, on the second of two home runs by Nelson Cruz on first-pitch swings, a fastball in the 13th off Chad Gaudin. The other bomb by Cruz tied the score in the eighth on a slider from Joba Chamberlain.

Julio Borbon, playing center field for injured Most Valuable Player Award candidate Josh Hamilton, drove in the other four Texas runs on two infield outs and a two-run double. Making contact was not the Yankees’ specialty as they struck out 15 times and stranded 18 runners, leaving the bases loaded in three innings, including the 13th. They had three hits in 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position and none in nine at-bats in those situations over the final eight innings.

The Rangers’ parade of relievers held the Yankees scoreless after the sixth. The Yankees got a runner to third base in each of the last two innings but couldn’t get a ball out of the infield when they needed it. Chad Moeller doubled and was sacrificed to third by Brett Gardner in the 12th, but Derek Jeter, who suffered through a 1-for-7 game, grounded out to first and Colin Curtis struck out.

In the 13th, one-out singles by Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano off Scott Feldman put runners on the corners. Jorge Posada, in a pinch-hitting role one day after having tests for a mild concussion, hit a line drive but it was right at the second baseman. Curtis Granderson walked, loading the bases, and Feldman went to a full count on Moeller, who got a ball to the outfield but it was the third out.

The Yankees didn’t complain about all the relievers thrown at them. They were upset with themselves more about the loss than the issue the commissioner should be exploring. Games down the stretch of a pennant race should not resemble spring-training games.

Posada condition dampens walk-off win

This was going to be an uplifting post about a walk-off home run that prevented a disastrous end to what began as a very promising homestand for the Yankees. On precisely one year to the date of his previous game-winning home run, Nick Swisher squared up a 2-and-0 fastball from Orioles closer Koji Uehara and turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.

This was the fourth walk-off victory of the year for the Yankees, who made a habit of these finishes in 2009 with 15. A.J. Burnett got the whipped-cream pie out and delighted the remains of a Yankee Stadium crowd of 44,163 who had not witnessed a scene so familiar last year since May 17 when Marcus Thames clocked Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The Yankees were still celebrating among each other when word came out during manager Joe Girardi’s post-game news conference that catcher Jorge Posada was undergoing tests at New York Presbyterian Hospital for concussion symptoms. That he was not in the lineup set off no signals because Posada is often rested in day games that follow night games.

It was not until the seventh inning when Francisco Cervelli batted for himself with two out and runners on first and third and the Yankees trailing by one run that some of us in the press box suspected that Posada was not available at all because this was an obvious pinch-hitting situation.

Jorgie took a foul ball by Nick Markakis off the left side of his mask Tuesday night. He mentioned it after the game to Girardi but did not seem overly concerned until he reported to the Stadium Wednesday and told the manager that he had trouble sleeping because of severe headaches. That’s when alarms sounded, and Posada went through a battery of tests and was sent off to see a neurologist.

This is no Sissy Mary. This is Jorge Posada, who is probably the toughest guy in the room. When he gets hurt, it is usually something pretty serious. Jorgie played a game with a bone fracture in his right foot before going on the disabled list in mid-May.

Concussions are nothing to fool with. The Mets have been without left fielder Jason Bay since July 25 when he collided into a wall at Dodger Stadium. Twins first baseman Justin Morneau suffered a concussion July 7 when he got hit in the head by a knee while sliding into second base and may not play again this season.

At this point, it would appear unlikely that Posada would make the 3 -hour flight from New York to Dallas that the Yankees have scheduled Thursday night even if the test results are in his favor. Air travel is one of the worst things for a person with concussion symptoms. The Mets made that mistake last year with outfielder Ryan Church, who never fully recovered from two concussions.

Yankees players were unaware of the Posada situation after Wednesday’s game. It was sobering news to all as well it should be.

“Obviously, we don’t want to lose anyone, and Jorge’s a crucial part of this team,” said Alex Rodriguez, who started the ninth-inning comeback with a leadoff single. “So we have to hope for the best right now.”

The Yankees embark on a 10-day, nine-game trip through Texas, Tampa Bay and Baltimore. The Rangers and Rays are playoff-bound teams, and the Yankees discovered that under Buck Showalter the Orioles have gotten tougher.

“This was an important win for us,” A-Rod said. “To get swept at home is unacceptable.”

Yet it very nearly happened. After sweeping a four-game set from the Athletics and taking two of three games from the Blue Jays, the Yankees needed Swisher’s 26th home run, a jolt over the left-center field fence, to avoid losing three in a row to the last-place Orioles.

Impressive ensemble pitching by the young Orioles staff quieted Yankees bats until Swisher’s blow kept the broom in the closet. Post-game merriment was muted once Posada’s condition became known. The Yankees are headed for the backstretch of their season having to rely on Cervelli and fellow backup Chad Moeller, who a week ago was in the minor leagues.

“If I got to do it, I got to do it,” Cervelli said. “I have been learning a lot here.”

The Yankees are skipping Phil Hughes for a turn in the rotation and will go with Javier Vazquez, Burnett and Dustin Moseley in Texas. They were clinging to the hope that they would not have to skip their catcher as well.

A personality win for Burnett

A.J. Burnett’s start Wednesday night was a start, the Yankees hope, a start back to respectability. He had been absolutely dreadful since his previous victory six starts ago July 28 at Cleveland. Only for the confidence of his manager, Joe Girardi, did Burnett remain in the rotation.

Unlike his five starts in August when Burnett posted a record of 0-4 with a 7.80 ERA, he broke out a fastball with muscle and a breaking ball with bite. A.J. wasn’t perfect, by any means, and quite frankly was lucky to leave the game on the winning end of the score, thanks to shoddy fielding by his opponent, Oakland starter Brett Anderson.

The Athletics have booted balls all over the infield in this series. Anderson’s mishandling of a toss from first baseman Daric Barton in the second inning cost the A’s the third out of the inning and opened the gate for a three-run Yankees rally. Curtis Granderson alertly scored from second base on the play. Anderson walked Nick Swisher to load the bases for Mark Teixeira, who singled in two more runs.

That gave Burnett a 4-0 lead, but he quickly gave two back in the fourth on a home run by Kevin Kouzmanoff. The A’s closed to 4-3 in the fifth, and some rumbling could be heard in the Yankee Stadium crowd, here-we-go-again kind of stuff. Burnett held firm, however, and was treated to appreciative cheers as he walked off the mound at the end of the sixth.

“When he gave up runs, he came back and got some outs,” Girardi said. “I liked his approach. The big thing for me was the quality of his pitches.”

Except for eight strikeouts, Burnett’ pitching line was ordinary (six innings, six hits, three earned runs, two walks, one home run), unless when compared to some of the unsightly numbers he put up last month. It was a step forward, a baby step perhaps, but a step in the right direction nevertheless.

It was also a victory, which always feels nice.

“It was a personality win,” Girardi said, using a phrase he heard from Don Zimmer. “Zim used to say when a guy was struggling he needed a personality hit. You always want to feel like you’re contributing.”

Burnett joined CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez as pitchers with at least 10 victories, the first time in 11 years that the Yankees have had five pitchers reach double figures in victories in a season. The 1999 team featured Roger Clemens, David Cone, El Duque Hernandez, Hideki Irabu and Pettitte.

Speaking of Pettitte, he had a good bullpen session before Wednesday’s game and barring complications will next pitch a simulated game Saturday. 

Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera held the 4-3 score for Burnett. The game featured a strange twist near the end when Jorge Posada, batting for Francisco Cervelli, was ejected by plate umpire Dana DeMuth for arguing a called third strike. It was total snappage by Jorgie, who showed up DeMuth by pointing repeatedly at the area around the plate.

It was good for Girardi that Chad Moeller was around as a third catcher. His contract was purchased by the Yankees Wednesday as rosters expanded.

“I had already pinch-hit for [Eduardo] Nunez, so I needed [Ramiro] Pena to play third base,” Girardi said. “He’s our emergency catcher, so if Chad hadn’t been here I would have had to be creative.”

Javy back in rotation

Yankees manager Joe Girardi made a 180-degree turn about his rotation Wednesday as he announced that Javier Vazquez would return to the starting unit Saturday against the Blue Jays. Just the night before, Girardi had said he would leave things as they are. He was just following the credo of managers that they reserve the right to change their minds.

Girardi may have held back his decision for several reasons, the most obvious being that he needed to talk first to Dustin Moseley, whose spot in the rotation Vazquez is taking. There is also a possibility that Girardi thought that he might have another pitcher coming. Rumors were rampant that the Yankees were on the verge of acquiring a starter with speculation centering on Dodgers lefthander Ted Lilly.

Later details Wednesday suggested that Los Angeles would hang on to Lilly, whose waiver claim reportedly was awarded to the Yankees, because the Dodgers doubted they could get prospects in return equal to the draft picks due them if Lilly becomes a free agent. Lilly, who pitched for the Yankees in 2001, ’01 and ’02, is 5-1 with a 3.29 ERA since going to the Dodgers July 31 with infielder Ryan Theriot from the Cubs in a trade for three minor leaguers.

Vazquez pitched well in two long relief outings (1-0, 2.00 ERA) in which he allowed two runs, four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in nine innings. Vazquez credited a mechanical adjustment in his delivery suggested by pitching coach Dave Eiland with increased velocity on his fastball and a revival of his changeup.

With rosters expanding to 40 Sept. 1, Girardi has a few more players at his disposal. The Yankees recalled pitcher Jonathan Albaladejo and outfielder Greg Golson from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and signed SWB catcher Chad Moeller to a major league contract. To create roster space for Moeller, the Yankees transferred relief pitcher Damaso Marte to the 60-day disabled list. First baseman-designated hitter Lance Berkman was also reinstated from the DL.

The issue of extra players on rosters this time of year can be a thorny one. Some managers, particularly those on teams in contention, do not consider it fair that opponents going nowhere in the standings can have an effect on the race because of additional players with which their teams are unfamiliar.

“I understand you want to give young players exposure to the major leagues,” Girardi said. “But I think they should designate X amount of players for each game. That would make it fairer.”

Name game

There are eight players in the major leagues whose first names are Chad – and half of them are in the Yankees-Phillies series. The Yankees have three Chads – pitcher Chad Gaudin, outfielder Chad Huffman and catcher Chad Moeller – and the Phillies one – pitcher Chad Durbin. The other Chads are with the Diamondbacks (pitcher Chad Qualls) the Dodgers (pitcher Chad Billingsley), the Mariners (pitcher Chad Cordero), and the Cubs (infielder Chad Tracy).

Huffman is the newcomer among the Yankees’ Chads. He was called up Sunday from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and had 1-for-4 that afternoon in a 9-5 victory over Houston, his hometown. Gaudin returned to the Yankees May 26 after he had been designated for assignment by Oakland. He pitched in 11 games, including six starts, for the Yankees last year. Moeller, who was recalled from Scranton May 20, also played in 41 games for the Yankees in 2008.

Prior to Moeller’s joining them, the Yankees had only one player in their history with that first name. Outfielder Chad Curtis batted .263 in 340 games with the Yankees from 1997 to 1999 and is best known for hitting two home runs in Game 3 of the 1999 World Series against Atlanta at Yankee Stadium.

In addition to three Chads, the Yankees also have a Chan – Ho Park, the Korean pitcher.

Groin still issue for A-Rod

Perhaps it would have been better if Alex Rodriguez had not tried to play Thursday night. You can’t fault Yankees manager Joe Girardi because it is always a good feeling to write A-Rod’s name in the fourth spot of any lineup card.

Yet in coming out of the game before even coming to bat, Rodriguez left the Yankees with a utility infielder as their cleanup hitter. A-Rod admitted after the game that he felt cramping in his right groin during batting practice and that the tightness was still there 10 minutes before game time. The usually cautious Yankees decided to have A-Rod give it a try, but when he barely moved to make a play on Adam Jones’ grounder in the hole that became an RBI single, it was time for a move.

Ramiro Pena took over and was 0-for-2 with a sacrifice, the first by a Yankees cleanup hitter since Bubba Crosby in 2004 in a game that went extra innings after he had replaced Jason Giambi. Rodriguez experienced stiffness in the groin last Sunday in Toronto and came out of the game for the last inning. After a day off Monday, Rodriguez was back in the lineup Tuesday and Wednesday nights and was 2-for-10 but fielded his position without incident. Now he is headed back to New York to see what the doctors say.

The inning that A-Rod was in the field was a weird one for A.J. Burnett and essentially responsible for his first loss at Camden Yards in six career decisions. The righthander somehow made it into the seventh despite struggling with his command all night. Burnett yielded only one walk but gave up eight hits, hit two batters and crossed up catcher Chad Moeller into committing two passed balls. Actually, A.J. hit three batters in the first inning, but Nick Markakis swung at and missed the pitch for strike three that eventually hit him in the foot.

Advice to opposing teams: if you’ve got a pitcher ready for his first major-league start, throw him against the Yanks. Rookie Jake Arietta’s victory marked the fourth consecutive time the Yankees have lost to a pitcher making his big-league debut.
 
 

Another Beltway babe

It didn’t receive all the attention another young pitcher’s big-league debut in the Beltway did this week, but Jake Arietta had every reason to be proud of himself Thursday night. The Orioles took a glimpse into their future by bringing up the righthander from Triple A Norfolk to make his first major-league start.

Okay, so it wasn’t Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals’ first pick in the 2009 first-year player draft. Arietta was the Orioles’ fifth-round choice in 2007 out of Texas Christian University. But it wasn’t the Pittsburgh Pirates the pitcher faced, either.

Arietta drew the reigning World Series champion Yankees first on his big-league dance card, and the kid did all right. It helped somewhat that Alex Rodriguez came out of the game after an inning, which made Ramiro Pena a cleanup hitter.

The Orioles gave Arietta a 2-0 lead in the first inning off a wild A.J. Burnett, who had not allowed an earned run in 16 previous innings against Baltimore. Robinson Cano got the first of four hits off Arietta, all for extra bases, with a double in the second and scored on a triple by Curtis Granderson. Arietta kept Granderson at third by getting Marcus Thames on a liner to the box.

A leadoff walk to 9-hole hitter Chad Moeller was a mistake, and Derek Jeter made the rookie pay for it with a double to tie the score. Jeter eventually scored as well to give the Yankees the lead, but Arietta held them in check after that. His final test came in the sixth when he struck out Marcus Thames with the bases loaded.

Three runs, four hits, four walks (two intentional), six strikeouts in six innings was Arietta’s final line, and after the Orioles regained the lead in the fifth he had a shot at his first big-league “W.” It wasn’t Strasburg, but it wasn’t bad. Someone go tell Bob Costas.

 

Inter-league sked gives Posada time

Jorge Posada will go through catching drills with bench coach Tony Pena Thursday at Camden Yards. Posada worked out there Tuesday and took a break Wednesday. With Posada able to get into the lineup as the designated hitter, there is no hurry to get him back behind the plate. Backup Francisco Cervelli has done a good job as Jorgie’s backup, and the Yankees have a third catcher, Chad Moeller, up for the time being.

While there is no stated timetable for Posada’s return to catching, but the Yankees essentially have 12 days before they need to have Jorgie able to catch if they want to keep him in the batting order. Another round of inter-league play is coming up, but with the Yankees home beginning Friday night with series against the Astros, Phillies and Mets Posada can still continue to be the DH.

After that, the Yankees will travel to Phoenix and Los Angeles where the DH will not be in effect. Look at June 21, the first game against the Diamondbacks, as the target date for Posada to get back behind the plate. He has been struggling since his return from the disabled list after three weeks because of a hairline fracture in his right foot, batting .130 in 23 at-bats with one RBI, which came Wednesday night on a fielder’s choice.

Back in the real AL East

After a 6-1 homestand against two last-place teams, the Yankees were thrust back into the American League East rumble Friday night under the dome of Rogers Centre. This time the numbers 6-1 reflected the final score that did not go the Yankees’ way.

It was the Yankees’ first up-close look at Toronto, the latest point in a season that these teams faced each other for the first time. The Blue Jays have been bludgeoning the ball, and Friday night was no different. A.J. Burnett was reached for three home runs, two by league leader Juan Bautista, one of the surprise stories of the year.

The two bombs, which raised his season total to 18, was part of a perfect night for Bautista, who also walked and doubled, scored three runs and drove in three. Bautista never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, which he did in 2006 with the Pirates. Last year, he hit 13, but 10 came in September and October. Bautista was just as powerful the first two months of this year as he was the last two months of 2009.

The other Toronto home run was by Edwin Encarnacion, the 9-hole batter who is batting .210 but has eight home runs. The Jays have a few guys handing around the Mendoza line – Lyle Overbay .224, Adam Lind .218, Aaron Hill .198 – but they are hitting the long ball. Toronto’s 94 home runs lead the AL by a 17-jake margin over the runner-up Red Sox. By contrast, the Yankees have 61 home runs, none Friday night.

Burnett has a history of success at Rogers Centre with an overall record of 22-10 there, but it was 22-8 before he returned there wearing a Yankees uniform. He is 0-2 with a 7.24 ERA in two starts for the Yankees there this year and last.

Lefthander Brett Cecil, a Maryland native who grew up a Yankees fan and admirer of Andy Pettitte, stared over his glove for eight innings and allowed one tainted run and five hits with one walk and five strikeouts. The Yankees might have been shut out if Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells hadn’t played Chad Moeller’s flare to center from a single into a double. Moeller eventually scored from third base on a double play.

This was a much different Cecil than the Yankees saw last year when they tagged the lefthander for 10 earned runs, 16 hits including three home runs, and eight walks in eight innings for an 11.25 ERA. Cecil is now 6-2 with a 3.43 ERA and the top winner on an impressive rotation that includes two other five-game winners, Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero, who will start Saturday.

The Jays’ problem of late has been closing games. They blew two ninth-inning leads to Tampa Bay earlier this week. Jason Frasor had a five-run cushion in the ninth and withstood a leadoff walk to preserve the victory. The final out was a fly to left by Robinson Cano, who also struck out twice and fouled out as his 17-game hitting streak ended.

Toronto’s 10-9 record against AL East teams features a 6-0 mark against the Orioles, so the Jays have feasted off Baltimore pitching as much as the Yankees, who definitely had a wakeup call Friday night. They are back in the real AL East, not for what passes for it these days at Camden Yards.

Hughes keeping pace with Andy

It made a nice story Monday when Andy Pettitte improved his record to 7-1 leading to speculation that he may be the choice of his manager and former battery mate, Joe Girardi, as the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star Game July 13 at Anaheim. That’s a real feel-good piece right there.

There are still five weeks to go, but Girardi, who will be the AL manager as his reward for winning the World Series last year, may find himself having to choose between two of his starters because Phil Hughes is right up there as a candidate for the assignment.

Hughes has become every bit of a feel-good story for the Yankees this year as Pettitte. The righthander returned to the rotation this year after serving as the setup reliever for Mariano Rivera in 2009 and has answered every question about making the transition in a positive manner.

Additional affirmative reports were furnished by Hughes in Wednesday night’s 9-1 victory over the Orioles. He gave up one run and six hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings to equal Pettitte’s 7-1 mark. And a tale of the tape shows that Hughes and Pettitte are neck and neck in the fight for rotation supremacy.

Pettitte has the edge in ERA, 2.48 to Hughes’ 2.54. Each has allowed 18 earned runs, but Pettitte has pitched 1 2/3 more innings with 65 1/3. Everything else belongs to Hughes, who has allowed 10 fewer hits, 47-57, one less home run, 4-5 and has struck out 23 more batters, 64-41.

Sentiment would favor Pettitte, naturally, who despite a long and exemplary career has been to the All-Star Game merely twice and has never started one. Hughes would be making his first trip to the Midsummer Classic but would be no less deserving.

“If it were today . . .,” Girardi said, diplomatically not completing the sentence.

That’s a headache he will have to deal with down the line. If Pettitte and Hughes keep pitching the way they have, the manager won’t mind popping the aspirin.

And if Robinson Cano keeps this up, he just might be batting cleanup in Anaheim. Robbie hit his 12th home run and had two singles in extending his hitting streak to 16 games, during which he is batting .471 with eight doubles, three home runs and 19 RBI in 68 at-bats. Cano’s improved discipline at the plate is not reflected so much in walks (13), but swinging regularly at strikes and making excellent contact, to the tune of .373 with a .632 slugging percentage.

Jorge Posada came off the disabled list and was the designated hitter. Girardi had been concerned about Posada’s running ability coming off a hairline fracture of the right foot. That was satisfied by the way Jorgie ran around the bases to score from first on a double by Curtis Granderson in the Yankees’ four-run second inning. Posada had 1-for-3 with a walk.

The roster move for Posada of optioning DH-first baseman Juan Miranda to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was an indication that Posada will be used more often as a DH, at least for the time being. The Yankees are keeping Chad Moeller as the third catcher, another indication that they will ease Posada back into action behind the plate. Posada will also wear an additional protective device on the front of his cleats.

 

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