New York Yankees: May in Review

IMGP3381What is this 2013?

It feels like another Yankee is placed on the disabled list every day. New additions this month included Shawn Kelley, Carlos Beltran and CC Sabathia. These are names this team can go very long without.  Kelley hit the shelf with a strained lumbar spine (back tightness).  Just when he was looking ready to come back, the tightness resurfaced to make it more than a 15-day loss.  Sabathia hasn’t looked good all year, and has been diagnosed with degenerative knees. He’ll be out until at least July because of it.  Beltran was given 2 weeks to work out discomfort from a bone spur on his elbow.  At the end of those 2 weeks, season ending surgery could be necessary.

After the injuries to key players, there is real concern with the lack of power in this offense.  Tex, Beltran and Alfonso Soriano are the only real power threats, but Soriano has been in a season long slump and of course Tex and Beltran have missed significant time.  And without the power, you need guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to get on base and make things happen. When they get on, they usually steal.  But after the final week of the month, Ellsbury’s hot April had turned into a big time slump.  A nice surprise has been the hitting of Yangervis Solarte, but even he has hit a skid, something we all saw coming for the 26-year-old rookie.  Brian McCann needs to start hitting for this team.  His adjustment time is over.  Two months are enough for the all-star catcher.  Interestingly enough, Ichiro Suzuki is hitting at the clip of how his career has gone, over .300.  This is a guy that was supposed to be a 4th outfielder, pinch runner.  But injuries have created situations for the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and he’s doing his best to help in the field, at the plate and on the base paths.

It was a very up-and-down month for the bombers.  They showed something winning 2-0f-3 on the road against the great pitching staff of the St. Louis Cardinals.  But they were also held to less than 2 runs 8 times (1 win).  To be fair, they only lost 2 of the 9 series (3 splits).

Best Starter: Masahiro Tanaka – He takes the award again, and not by default.  The MLB rookie continues to dominate.  He dropped his first game (and it wasn’t a horrible start) and bounced back with two huge performances to move his record to a stellar 8-1 before June.  His ability to go deep on top of his great pitching has helped stopped long losing streaks, and solidified a less than perfect rotation.

Best Reliever: Dellin BetancesSo this guy has found it big time.  All he does is come in and shut people down for 1-2 innings a la Mariano Rivera in 1996.  He’s struck out a ridiculous 56 batters to just 9 walks in nearly 33 innings of work.  And he’s also electrified the Yankee Stadium crowd much like Joba Chamberlain did when he first made it with the big club.  If the 26-year-old is on the mound, you’re not leaving your seat.

Best Hitter: Mark Teixeira – Early in the month we were all thinking that the wrist was healed and Tex was primed.   The power was back.  He was playing basically everyday. But unfortunately as the month ran down, the wrist became an issue.  Inflammation meant missing a few games at the end of the month, and a trip to the surgeon.  He was told it was okay, and returned after missing 3 straight games.  But in the 6th inning of the game, Teixeira left and is now back to “square one” with the injury. (UPDATE: Teix did make his return on June 3rd against the Athletics.  He drove in 2 runs, including a go-ahead solo homer batting right-handed.  The issue has been when batting left-handed.)

Biggest Surprise: Chase Whitley.  Who? The rookie is a huge reason why the Yankees are still hanging around the top of the American League Division.  The 25-year-old righty doesn’t have a win in 4 starts, but he should.  His last two performances were worthy of the W, but the pen and offense didn’t help him, leaving him with an 0-0 record and a 2.37 ERA. (Honorable Mention: John Ryan Murphy – the young backstop made us all expand on the J.R. and he started hitting.  He doesn’t play often backing up the All-Star McCann, but when he does, boy oh boy is he hitting!  In limited action, Murphy is hitting a scorching .348.)

Record vs AL East: 11-9

Overall Record: 29-26 (2nd in the East)

It took a big month from the Toronto Blue Jays and Edwin Encarnacion (16 homers last month), and .500 record to bump the Yankees from 1st to 2nd after May, but considering all the injuries and inconsistency, you’ve gotta be happy to be over .500 for the season.

 

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Season Ends on a Sweep Note

It came too soon, and it’s not the win they wanted to end their season on, but the Yankees wrapped up the 2013 campaign with a 5-1 win over Houston.

The baseball god’s didn’t want the season to end, sending this one into extras.  David Huff got the call to start the finale, and went a solid 5 innings of 1-run ball.

The bombers tied the score in the 8th on the strength of a Curtis Granderson RBI single.  And to extras the Astros and Yankees went.  Fast-forward to the 14th, when the Yanks struck.  Mark Reynolds led off with a solo homer to put New York ahead.  A few batters later Eduardo Nunez finished off a nice stretch to end the season with a 2-run double.  JR Murphy capped off the scoring with an RBI single.

David Robertson finished it off in the bottom of the 14th, giving the Yankees the season ending sweep.  Matt Daley picked up his first career win, throwing 2-shutout innings in extra innings.  A good week for Daley, as he came in after Mariano Rivera was lifted one final time on Thursday.

The Yankees end their season at 85-77, and tied for 3rd place with Baltimore in the American League East.  It’s a 10-win drop-off from last season’s AL East crown for the bombers.

Stay tuned for my full 2013 recap, as well as my post season preview and predictions.

Yanks Pour it On

A two hour plus rain delay couldn’t stop the Yankees, who picked up a 9-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Phil Hughes got the start, but was unable to continue after the lengthy delay. David Huff came in when play restarted, and went 5 2/3 innings to pick up his second win in relief. He’s the first Yankee to go at least 5 innings in relief and win since 1977. The lone run Huff surrendered was a solo homer to Sox first baseman Paul Konerko.

Already up 1-0, the bombers put up a crooked number in the 4th. A-rod, Vernon Wells and Curtis Granderson would all get on to load the bases with no outs. Then consecutive by Mark Reynolds, Austin Romine, Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano would drive in 6. Two more were tacked on to give the Yanks 8 runs, and seal the fate of the game

The Yankees needed a laugher like this because with the 9-0 lead, New York was able to give Jeter, ARod, and Soriano a few innings off. It also gave two of their September call-ups a shot at their Major League debuts. Reliever Cesar Cabral struck out his first batter faced, and 22-year-old catcher JR Murphy picked up his first career hit.

It was a good bounce back from a bad loss to Baltimore on Sunday. The win also assured the Yanks of leapfrogging the loser of Cleveland/Baltimore.

Hiroki Kuroda goes in game two of the series, looking to get past his recent struggles.