videoNEW YORK -- There is a young outfielder in the New York Yankees clubhouse these days, a September call-up named Jose Pirela, and when -- or if -- he finally gets into a game, he will be the 57th player to have appeared in a Yankees uniform this season, eclipsing by one last year's franchise record for players used in a single season.

That tells you all you need to know about how much of a role injuries played in the imminent collapse of the Yankees' 2014 season. If you thought their 2013 clubhouse was a baseball MASH unit, well, this one was every bit as bad, and might still turn out to be worse.

Still, until the fourth inning of Friday night's 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, when Jacoby Ellsbury felt something grab in his right hamstring, there was still a chance, however slim, that the Yankees might yet overcome the injury bug and survive to play at least one playoff game this October.

[+] EnlargeJacoby Ellsbury
AP Photo/Kathy KmonicekJacoby Ellsbury is just the latest Yankee to get injured.
Well, those chances are now slim and none, and like my old pal Don King used so say, slim's out of town.

The Yankees survived the loss of four of their five starting pitchers, including their erstwhile ace, CC Sabathia, and the sensational Masahiro Tanaka. They weathered the continual lineup absences of Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. They shrugged off the loss, last week, of Martin Prado, a replacement for a replacement, who had played well until falling victim to a season-ending appendectomy.

Despite all that, they have remained alive, albeit barely, in the hunt for the second AL wild card, and with their third straight win Friday night, their E# -- that is, elimination number -- is holding steady at six, with nine games to play.

It is not a great chance, but it is still a chance.

But not without Ellsbury. The $153 million center fielder may not have had an MVP-caliber season relative to the rest of baseball. He batted .271 with 16 home runs, 71 RBIs and a .747 OPS -- but relative to the rest of the Yankees' lineup, he was Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. He was the team leader in RBIs, had the highest batting average in their everyday lineup, and, with 39 stolen bases, was the Yankees' leading base stealer by nearly double over his closest rival (Brett Gardner, 20).

And he was having a hell of a night Friday before he pushed it a little too hard trying to beat out a double-play ball in the fourth.

He had homered -- a two-run shot deep into the right-field seats -- in the third to wipe out a 2-1 Jays lead, and the grounder that ended his night, and probably his season, scored two more runs to provide the rest of the scoring in a 5-3 win.

But what does it matter to a team to gain a victory but lose an offensive spark plug?

To this team, it means pretty much everything, since aside from Ellsbury, Gardner and newcomer Chris Young, the rest of the offense has misfired all season.

That is why there was little joy on manager Joe Girardi's face or mirth in his voice when he met the media after the game, because he knew better than anyone that on this night, the Yankees had lost much more than they had gained.

He didn't quite have all the bad news -- Ellsbury had been taken for an MRI and there was neither a diagnosis of the severity of his injury nor a prognosis for his return -- but when asked if he was concerned that he might have lost Ellsbury for the remainder of the season, Girardi said, "Well, I think that’s a distinct possibility. Any time a guy comes out and grabs his hamstring, you’re always concerned. It's not what you want. We just lost Prado, and Jake had swung the bat extremely well tonight. He’s a huge part of our offense. It's not what you want, but we have to deal with it. That’s all we can do."

The problem is, the Yankees are running as short of bodies as they are of games.

Presuming Ellsbury is gone -- and that is a safe presumption -- it means more playing time for Young in left, with Gardner in center and Ichiro Suzuki, whose 40-year-old body does not allow him to play effectively every day anymore, in right. Beltran, both slumping and in pain from a bone chip in his elbow, is the backup outfielder. Anything else gets cobbled out of Zelous Wheeler and Chase Headley, both infielders by trade, and of course, Pirela, who was issued No. 67 but really should have been given 57. (That one currently belongs to Rich Hill, a rarely used lefty reliever who became a necessity when the Yankees decided to cut bait on Matt Thornton).

It has been scotch tape and mirrors all season for this club, and somehow those makeshift remedies were holding it all together, but now it looks like it will finally come apart, for the last time.

That is why Girardi could not really revel in the pitching of Hiroki Kuroda, who gave the Yankees his usual 6⅔ steady if unspectacular innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, or his bullpen, which -- Shawn Kelley's Thursday night flameout nothwithstanding -- seems to be getting healthy again, with Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren combing for 2⅓ innings of scoreless, one-hit ball.

Nor could he really celebrate the play of Derek Jeter, who in the first two games of his final homestand is 4-for-8 with a home run, plus a terrific heads-up play to trap Jose Reyes off second base in the first inning.

Lots of good things happened for the Yankees on this night, but the manager couldn't seem to set aside the one bad thing that happened to them, because he knew that is the one that is likely to finally derail what is left of his season.

"You could hit Ells anywhere and he’s going to be productive," Girardi said. "That’s the type of player he is. He’s got great speed. He’s really a smart baserunner. He knows how to steal bases, knows how to get himself into scoring position. He’s a great player. Offensively, defensively, there’s nothing this kid can’t do and he’s meant a whole lot to our club.”

Despite his history of injuries, Ellsbury played 149 games this season, and any Yankee fan would have signed on for that when the season began, especially after he missed 10 days of spring training with a calf injury. But now, 149 games will not turn out to have been enough, and the Yankees can only hope he will be all the things he was for them this year, next year.

Right now, he's just one more entry on a long list of players who broke down before his team reached the finish line.

Which probably means that a young man named Jose Pirela, who has never set foot on a big-league ball field, may be about to. And when he does, he will make Yankee history.

But, as Girardi has had to say way too many times this season, not the kind that you want.

Ellsbury, Jeter, Yankees again beat Buehrle, Jays

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

NEW YORK -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees kept Mark Buehrle winless against them for more than a decade, sending the Toronto Blue Jays to their season-worst sixth straight loss, 5-3 Friday night.

New York won its third in a row to preserve its faint AL wild-card hopes.

The cheers for Jeter kept getting louder and louder during his final homestand, and fans chanted his name throughout the ninth inning.

Jeter delivered two singles, giving him back-to-back multihit games for the first time since late July. The retiring captain later hit a long fly that really got the crowd hollering before it was caught on the warning track.

The 40-year-old shortstop also alertly tricked speedy Jose Reyes off second by bluffing a throw to first, trapping him in a rundown.

Ellsbury homered, doubled and drove in three runs.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
NEW YORK -- The are few things that guarantee a Yankees victory quite like the sight of Mark Buehrle on the mound for their opponent. He hasn't beaten the Yankees since April 10, 2004, and in the 10 years and five months that have passed since that win, he had lost 11 consecutive decisions.

Now, make that an even dozen. The Yankees got three RBIs out of Jacoby Ellsbury -- who they then lost to a hamstring strain apparently suffered in the fourth inning -- another strong starting performance out of Hiroki Kuroda, and some clutch pitching out of the bullpen to win their third straight and breathe another day of life into their rather remote chance of playing in October.

Steadying influence: Before the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called Kuroda "the one constant" in his rotation for the past three seasons, and "a true professional"; Kuroda was both of those once again tonight, weathering a two-run, 23-pitch first inning to last into the seventh, allowing seven hits and three runs (two earned), striking out seven and walking none. At 40, Kuroda has been the only consistently reliable starter the Yankees have had for the entire season. He has now started five times against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, and won all five.

Ells-buried: A long two-run homer into the right-field bleachers by Ellsbury gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the third. Ellsbury hit a 1-1 Buehrle fastball that loitered in at 84 mph with Ichiro Suzuki on base for his 16th home run of the season and team-leading 69th RBI.

Ouch-bury: Ellsbury added his 70th RBI on a fourth-inning fielder's choice grounder that scored two runs when Jose Reyes threw the relay past first baseman Adam Lind, but apparently injured himself on the play, because he did not return to center field for the top of the fifth. Chris Young went in to play left and Brett Gardner moved to center. Late in the game, the Yankees announced Ellsbury had suffered a right hamstring strain and would undergo an MRI.

Wasn't a shutout: Edwin Encarnacion got the Jays on the board in the first with a two-run homer that rang the pipe that serves as the left-field foul pole on a 2-0 slider from Kuroda. It was Encarnacion's 33rd home run of the season and the fourth he has hit off Kuroda in 24 career at-bats.

Capt. Cool: With help from an absentminded Reyes, Derek Jeter made a heads-up play that erased a Toronto runner from second base in the first inning. Reyes had led off the game by lining Kuroda's second pitch into the right-field corner for a double, and when Jose Bautista smoked a one-hopper that Jeter snagged at short, it appeared Reyes would hold up. But he began to break for third before Jeter released the throw to first, and the Captain alertly held the ball and fired to Chase Headley, who tagged Reyes out between second and third after a brief rundown. What looked like a big break for the Yankees, however, went for naught when Encarnacion followed with his two-run homer.

First dud: The first three Yankees to face Buehrle got hits -- a leadoff double by Ellsbury, a line single by Jeter and an RBI single by Brian McCann -- but the rally stalled there when Mark Teixeira tapped back to the mound for a 1-4-3 double play and Carlos Beltran struck out looking.

Jolly Rogers: Esmil Rogers got arguably the biggest out of the game when, after walking Bautista to load the bases following a single by Anthony Gose and a ground-rule double by Reyes, he got the dangerous Encarnacion to bounce into a forceout to end the seventh inning and preserve the 5-3 lead. Adam Warren also pitched in with two big strikeouts to end the eighth, and threw a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.

The first days of Pompey: Rays left fielder Dalton Pompey, a September call-up, collected his first big-league hit, a line drive to right-center just over a leaping Stephen Drew's glove, with one out in the second.

Tomorrow: Game 3 of this four-game series matches Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.55) and RHP Marcus Stroman (10-6, 3.80), first pitch at 4:05 p.m.

Jacoby Ellsbury strains hamstring

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

NEW YORK -- Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury left Friday night's 5-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays in the fifth inning with a right hamstring strain apparently suffered while he was running out a grounder in the bottom of the fourth.

Ellsbury was at Columbia Presbyterian Hospitsal in Manhattan getting an MRI during the postgame clubhouse session and was not available to reporters. The Yankees said the results of the MRI will not be known until Saturday.

But manager Joe Girardi did not seem optimistic about Ellsbury's chances of playing very much, or even at all, as the Yankees try to salvage a wild-card berth in the final 10 games of their season. Asked if thought Ellsbury was lost to him for the season, Girardi said, "Well, I think that's a distinct possibility. Any time a guy comes out and grabs his hamstring, you're always concerned. He's a huge part of our offense.

"It's not what you want, but we have to deal with it. That's all we can do.''

Ellsbury had hit a two-run home run, his 16th of the season, to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the third inning and drove in the Yankees' fourth run on the play on which he was injured, a grounder to shortstop that became a force out at second. But Ellsbury was safe at first when Jose Reyes' throw sailed wide of first, allowing a fifth, unearned run to score.

Ellsbury, who is batting .271, leads the Yankees with 70 RBIs.

(Read full post)

Notes: Two starts for Masahiro Tanaka?

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka threw in the outfield before tonight's game, and Joe Girardi said all systems were still go for the Japanese righty's return to action Sunday afternoon in the series finale against the Blue Jays.

In fact, not only will Tanaka make one more start this season; Girardi said if all goes well on Sunday, Tanaka will make another start, probably next Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway in the second-to-last game of the season.

And that, Girardi said, should be enough to tell the Yankees what they need to know about Tanaka going forward.

Asked for the countless time why the Yankees are risking throwing Tanaka this year rather than allow his partially-torn ulnar collateral ligament the entire winter to recover, Girardi said, "Because we feel that if his arm is going to be OK, its going to be OK. And if it’s not then we want to have it done so you don’t miss parts of two seasons, in a sense."

"It," of course, is Tommy John surgery, and it is the Yankees position that if Tanaka is not OK after Sunday, or a second start, they would proceed with the surgery in October, costing Tanaka all of 2015 but probably giving him enough time to come to 2016 spring training fully recovered.

But if the Yankees were to wait until next February or March to see him pitch in a game, it could cost him part of 2016 as well. "We think it’s a risk worth taking," he said.

Tanaka is expected to throw between 70-75 pitches on Sunday.

Beltran back: Girardi said he believed Carlos Beltran, whose wife Jessica suffered a miscarriage earlier this week, would benefit emotionally from returning to action tonight, so he penciled him into the lineup in the No. 5 slot as the Yankees DH.

"I woulda used him yesterday if I felt there was a spot pinch-hitting," Girardi said. "And sometimes, for athletes, for anyone, it’s good to get back out there, to doing what you’re used to doing, and living that normal life. Obviously he’s going out there with a heavy heart and we’ve got a heavy heart with him, but hopefully it helps getting him back out there."

No place like home: Tonight's starter, Hiroki Kuroda, has a 6-3 career record and 4.09 ERA vs. Toronto in 10 career starts, but he has never lost to the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, going 4-0 with a 2.36 ERA in his four starts at home. Kuroda has beaten the Blue Jays twice already this yea, going 6-1/3 innings and allowing three runs in a 5-3 Yankees win at the Rogers Centre on June 25, and allowing four runs in 5-2/3 innings of a 6-4 Yankees win here on July 25. But the No.'s 2 and 3 hitters in the Toronto lineup, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, have four and three home runs off him respectively.

Ten and counting: It's been well-document but worth mentioning again that Toronto starter Mark Buehrle has not beaten the Yankees since April 10, 2004. In the interim, he has lost 11 consecutive decisions to the Yankees and is 1-13 with a 6.14 ERA against them in 20 career starts. On the bright side, his only victory against the Yankees came here at Yankee Stadium -- well, actually across the street at Yankee Stadium 2.0 -- 125 months ago when Buehrle was a member of the Chicago White Sox. Naturally, the only player on the current Yankee roster in that game was Derek Jeter, who went 1-4 in that 7-3 Chisox win.

Shawn Kelley: Joey Bats bush

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
NEW YORK -- While the rest of the world was apparently watching a baseball fly over the leftfield fence in the eighth inning of Thursday night's Yankees-Blue Jays game, Shawn Kelley was watching the man who hit it.

And he did not like what he saw: Jose Bautista, who hit the two-run shot that momentarily tied the game, shouting obscenities out toward the field, watching the flight of the baseball, and slamming his bat down when he saw it land in the seats.

"I didn’t understand the extent of that emotion, I guess," said Kelley, who was bailed out by Chris Young, Antoan Richardson and Chase Headley in the bottom of the ninth. "I guess I maybe took it a little bit personal like it was directed toward me. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t, but I don’t feel like that necessarily is the right thing to do in that situation. I honestly felt disrespected. I didn’t do anything to deserve it.”

Kelley said, however, that he chose not to confront Bautista on the field Thursday night.

"I don’t think there’s any point in that," he said. "We’re both competitive and we’re both competitors and we’ve still got three games, so I could be back out there again facing him. I’m not trying to start a big stir or personal battle with him or with our teams or start any drama. I just, I was a little bothered by the way it went down last night, and I felt like it was OK for me to say something.”

Manager Joe Girardi, who in the past has said that the best way to put an end to home run demonstrations is simply not to allow home runs, said he did not see Bautista's antics and could not adequately make a judgment on them.

"I was paying attention to [Brett Gardner] in the outfield," Girardi said. "It’s maybe something I need to look at. I did not see it because I was hoping the ball wasn’t going to go out, and Gardy acted like he had a chance.”

But even without seeing the play, Girardi seemed not to think it was as big deal as it appeared to be to Kelley.

“People are always going to take exception to when they feel that they’re being shown up," Girardi said. "I understand that. Sometimes players do it intentionally, but most of the time they don’t. It’s become accepted in our world that you can do things when you do things well in sports. Years and years ago, it wasn’t accepted. So, the game has changed. But I’d have to see it to really understand it.”
NEW YORK -- They remain five games back in the hunt for the second AL wild card and their number for October elimination is six with just 10 games to play, but the Yankees will try to keep hope alive in Friday's Game 2 of this four-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Carlos Beltran, who missed a couple of games after his wife, Jessica, suffered a miscarriage earlier in the week, is back in the lineup. And for those who are concerned about such things, Laz Diaz is tonight's home plate umpire.

Here's the Yankees lineup that will face LHP Mark Buehrle, who has not beaten the Yankees in more than 10 years:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Beltran DH
Brett Gardner LF
Stephen Drew 2B
Chase Headley 3B
Ichiro Suzuki RF

Hiroki Kuroda RHP

Fantasy Now: Masahiro Tanaka

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19


Injury analyst Stephania Bell talks about expectations for Masahiro Tanaka's Sunday start.

Jeter not ready to ring down the curtain

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19

NEW YORK -- There will be at least one more curtain call for Derek Jeter, and that will come when the curtains close on the Yankee Stadium portion of Jeter's career in the Yankees' final home game next Thursday night.

But there was an occasion for another on this Thursday night, not a ceremonial one but a real one, an old-fashioned bound out of the dugout and wave your hat at a stadium full of cheering people type of curtain call because you've just done something really good.

Jeter did something really good, and really rare, in the sixth inning of Thursday night's 3-2 Yankees win over the Toronto Blue Jays, which became a walk-off win because Jays slugger Jose Bautista saw Jeter's solo blast and raised it with a two-run shot to tie the game off reliever Shawn Kelley in the eighth.

[+] EnlargeDerek Jeter
Alex Goodlett/Getty ImagesDerek Jeter hit his first HR of the season at Yankee Stadium in the sixth inning of the Yanks' 3-2 walk-off win.
But that did not diminish what Jeter did, or what the Yankee Stadium crowd saw, two innings earlier.

What he did, and what they saw, was hit very likely the last home run he will ever hit, at Yankee Stadium or anywhere. Considering how rarely he hits the ball out of any ballpark -- that was just his fourth home run of the season and first in 158 at-bats -- and how long it has been since he hit one out of Yankee Stadium (he last hit one in his home park on July 28, 2013, a stretch of 298 at-bats), the sight of Jeter lining a rare R.A. Dickey fastball deep into the lower left-field seats was a mental snapshot to be preserved by everyone who happened to be there to see it.

And if any accomplishment on a baseball field called for a curtain call, that was it.

But Jeter, in a most Jeter-like gesture, passed up the opportunity to bask in the glory of the moment, preferring instead to try to build on it.

“I heard 'em cheering," Jeter said. "But [Brian McCann] was in the middle of his at-bat, so I don’t want to distract anyone that’s hitting at the time."

So while Jeter was clearly happy with his home run -- he bumped every fist in the dugout with the smile and gusto of a rookie, and in a nice gesture, Brett Gardner slipped behind him and removed the batting helmet from his head and tucked it into its cubbyhole -- he had no interest in detracting from the business at hand.

McCann hit the first pitch he saw on the ground for the second out of the inning, deflating the crowd and defusing the moment. Still, at that point in the game, Jeter thought McCann's at-bat every bit as important, if not more so, than his. The home run gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, but there were still three-plus innings left to play, and runs to be tacked on.

“Hey, it’s another game," he said. "I’m trying not to think about it being the last homestand. We still have a week left. We’re trying to win games and I’m going to go out there and play hard like I’ve always done my entire career until we’re out of games."

Even as the days wind down on his fabulous career, Jeter is still playing in the moment, looking neither ahead nor backward, still treating every game as if it were his first in the big leagues, or the last of a World Series.

Despite the Yankees lagging badly in the race for the second AL wild-card spot, otherwise known as winning the privilege of traveling across the country to get beaten by a better team in a one-game playoff, Jeter still comes to the park outwardly brimming with optimism.

On the afternoon of the first game of his final homestand in the Bronx, Jeter played his daily game in the infield during batting practice, in which he calls out situations to the other Yankees infielders, and then plays official scorer, deciding if the ensuing play was a hit, out or error.

And when he stepped into the cage, he challenged the other players in his batting practice group to their daily game of "total bases," in which the player who runs up the most bases in five swings is the winner. It is a game Jeter rarely wins because it requires hitting the ball into the seats.


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Still, he approaches it as if it is the most fun he will have all day.

That is, until the real game starts.

"It’s a privilege for everybody in this clubhouse to be around that," said Chase Headley, who eventually won the game for the Yankees when his hot grounder got past Adam Lind in the bottom of the ninth, scoring pinch runner Antoan Richardson from third. "Personally, for me, to be able to spend the last two months of his career with him, it’s been neat. To get to know him, to watch him do his thing, you’re not surprised when he does things like that.”

In fact, it had been an odd night for Jeter up until the home run. He had reached on an infield hit in the first inning, when Jose Reyes had trouble getting the handle on his routine grounder to the hole, and he had been slightly embarrassed in the same inning when he half-heartedly took off on a 3-2 pitch to McCann with two out, thinking he had just seen ball four. But plate umpire Jeff Nelson punched McCann out, and Jeter was left hanging, easily thrown out without a slide to complete an inning-ending double play.

But that had been long forgotten by the time Dickey, who lives by his knuckleball, tried to sneak a 3-1 "fastball," clocked at 82 mph, past Jeter, only to see the ball rocket into the seats to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. The shot was an eye-opener coming from a player who has had so much trouble hitting the ball with authority this season that he ranks 149th out of 150 major league players in slugging percentage (.303).

But it was hardly surprising to those who have watched Jeter on a daily basis for most of his 20 big league seasons that in the final days of his career, with the eyes of the baseball world on him, he would come up with one more big moment. At least.

"He just has the ability to do that," manager Joe Girardi said. "I've always said, he’s the guy you want up with the game on the line, in big situations. He’s always had that ability."

To Jeter, of course, it wasn't a particularly big moment, just another moment in a career that has been filled with them, and, he hopes, still has a few more left to be played out.

There's still time for the ceremonial, lifetime achievement award curtain call that is sure to come six days from now. But in the meantime, Jeter is not interested in taking real-life curtain calls, even for moments that would have lesser players bounding up the dugout steps without prompting.

"I’m happy because we won the game," he said. "I can’t worry about what I’ve done up to this point. I’m just trying to have one last homestand here and I’m going to try to play as hard as I can, like I always do, and hopefully there’ll be a few good games left in us."

And maybe even more than one more curtain call for Jeter.

Greene continues to show legitimacy

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
It’s starts like these that make you think the future for Shane Greene with the New York Yankees is pretty good. Greene pitched 6⅔ scoreless innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, lowering his 2014 ERA to 3.24. He has allowed two earned runs in 17 innings in his past three starts, with this being the longest of the three.

Greene averaged 93.6 mph, his second-fastest average fastball velocity in a start this season, which included his fastest pitch of the season, one that reached 96 mph on the Yankee Stadium radar gun.

Greene’s hard-hit rate (how often batted balls are rated as hard-hit by video review) is 13.7 percent, the second-best of anyone who has made at least 10 starts with the Yankees this season (Chris Capuano leads at 13.6 percent).

On Thursday, Greene pitched a smart game. He limited the Blue Jays to only three balls rated hard-hit, a line-drive out by Reyes and two ground-ball singles. He won by keeping the ball on the outer half of the plate, recording 14 outs with pitches to that area (matching his second-highest total this season).

He has prevented Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion from doing damage against him by pitching them carefully. They are 0-for-7 with two walks against him this season, including 0-for-4 with two walks (one of which was promptly erased by a double play).

In fact, it is one of Greene’s most appealing qualities that he has handled middle of the order hitters fearlessly.

The 3-4-5 spots in the lineup are hitting only .204 (albeit with four home runs) in 103 at-bats, with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks against him this season.

What’s also appealing about Greene is that his strikeout, walk and fly ball combination matches that of a pitcher with an ERA right in his vicinity (his xFIP, a sabermetric stat that combines those numbers to estimate an ERA, is 3.37).

That’s indicative of the idea that his numbers this season are legit and not a fluke. Games like this show that to be so.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
NEW YORK -- It was a walk-off that never should have been, necessitated by a blown eight-inning lead and facilitated by an error in the bottom of the ninth inning. But a win is a win, and the Yankees simply cannot afford any more losses if they are to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.

Chase Headley's hot grounder scootered through the glove of Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind, scoring pinch-runner Antoan Richardson from third, and the Yankees salvaged a 3-2 win over Toronto, their eighth walk-off win of the season.

But the Gatorade bath was tempered by the knowledge that once again, the Yankees wasted an excellent start, and a rare home run by Derek Jeter, which would have made a nice story to kick off the final homestand of his career.

Second-guesses galore in this one, but none more important than why Joe Girardi wasted his most reliable reliever to get only one out in the seventh, and turn the game over to one of his least reliable relievers in the eighth?

Bats off to Joey: Just four outs from victory, the Yankees blew their 2-0 lead when Jose Bautista crushed Shawn Kelley's 0-2 fastball into the left-field seats with Jose Reyes (two-out single) aboard. Joey Bats' 33rd aboard silenced an already quiet ballpark, which began rapidly emptying from an already inflated announced attendance of 34,279.

A crying Shane: Another outstanding start by Shane Greene, who went two outs into the seventh inning, giving up only three hits (one an infield hit) and a walk, and struck out six. A high pitch count (105) caused Girardi to come get him with two runners on in the seventh, but he escaped damage when Dellin Betances got pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro, noted Yankee killer, to fly out harmlessly to right. Still, his effort went unrewarded when Bautista homered to tie the score in the eighth, prompting the question of why Girardi wasted Betances for one out and only four pitches?

Capt. Cru2h: Jeter had only one hit in his previous 32 at-bats, just three hits in 19 career at-bats off R.A. Dickey, and no home runs since Aug. 1, when he jumped all over a rare Dickey fastball, clocked at 82 mph, and lined it into the left-field seats in the sixth to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. It had been 158 at-bats between homers for Jeter.

Drew first blood: The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a two-out walk to Headley and a double into the right-field corner by Stephen Drew, only his fourth hit in his last 43 at-bats, and first RBI since Aug. 25. Drew also had a single in the seventh, his first two-hit game since Aug. 3.

Diving for gold: Mark Teixeira saved a run in the third inning, when he made a diving stop on Reyes' one-hopper headed for right field, which would have easily scored Anthony Gose from second. But Tex made the pick, rolled over and just nailed the speedy Reyes at first for the final out.

He's no umpire: Jeter was the second out of an embarrassing first-inning double play when he broke for second on a 3-2 pitch to Brian McCann, and slowed up halfway down the baseline when he believed Dickey's pitch to be ball four. Obviously, he was easily thrown out -- without a slide -- after McCann was called out on strikes, and appeared to be discussing the call, somewhat sheepishly, with second base umpire Scott Barry.

Pillar of salt: Jays LF Kevin Pillar spoiled Jeter's party by making a diving catch on Jeter's sinking liner to left leading off the fourth inning, which probably would have gone for a double.

Tomorrow: Game 2 of this four-game series matches Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.81) and LHP Mark Buehrle (12-9, 3.40), who has not beaten the Yankees in more than 10 years. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter began his final homestand for the New York Yankees with one more stroll around the bases, hitting a home run Thursday night in a 3-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jeter homered deep into the left-field seats against R.A. Dickey in the sixth inning, earning a standing ovation from his adoring fans.

After Jose Bautista's tying, two-run homer in the Toronto eighth, Chase Headley sent the winning run home in the ninth with a one-out grounder through the legs of first baseman Adam Lind.

Jeter, New York's 40-year-old captain, ended a 158 at-bat homerless streak with the drive, just the fourth home run of his 20th and final major league season. The ball landed about 10 rows into the stands, and Jeter smiled widely as he circled the bases. He exchanged high-fives with teammates when he reached the dugout, but didn't come out for a curtain call.

(Read full post)

Last chance to see Jeter

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have eight home games left, and as their playoff hopes fade, the question of how many of them they will win has been replaced by a more immediate one: How many of them will Derek Jeter play in?

Jeter is in the lineup for tonight's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, playing shortstop and batting second.

But when asked directly if Jeter would play in every one of the Yankees' last eight games at home, Joe Girardi gave an evasive and cryptic reply.

“We’ll just go day by day," Girardi said. "I’ll DH him some. Like I said, I have to do what is right. I understand people are coming to see him, but I have to do what is right for the club.”

Depending upon where you sit on the issue, that means Girardi will either play Jeter every day, or not play him at all. After his recent 0-for-28 skid, Jeter's average is down to .249, his lowest point since early May and the lowest batting average of his career over a full season, 21 points below 2010's .270. He is batting .122 in September, a month he has traditionally excelled in, with a .315 career BA over the final 30 days of a season.

Still, to blame Jeter for the Yankees' failures this season, or to blame Girardi for continuing to play him and bat him second, is ludicrous; there are still three players in the Yankees' batting order hitting worse than he is -- Stephen Drew (.156), Mark Teixeira (.217) and Brian McCann (.234), and his two most likely replacements, Drew and Brendan Ryan, are hitting 93 and 53 points lower than him, respectively.

By the numbers, Jeter has as much right to be in the Yankees' lineup as just about anyone, and by his history, considerably more.

But if you've got tickets to one of the final eight home games of Jeter's career, there is no guarantee that your ticket assures you of one last look.

Tanaka still a go: Masahiro Tanaka threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session this afternoon and reported no issues, which means he's still on to start against the Blue Jays in Sunday's series finale, his first start since suffering a partially torn UCL on July 8.

Beltran returns: Carlos Beltran returned to the Yankees today following the loss of his unborn son when his wife, Jessica, suffered a miscarriage. Beltran was not in the Yankees' clubhouse during media availability, but Girardi said Beltran would be available to pinch hit tonight if necessary.

“My heart goes out to him, and obviously to his family," Girardi said. "When guys go through this, I think sometimes people think we’re immune to problems because we’re professional athletes. We deal with things on an everyday basis and we go through issues, too. That’s the most difficult part. I just want to get a temperature of where he’s at when he comes in today and then we’ll go from there.”

Together again: The battery of Shane Greene and Francisco Cervelli, which was a thing for the first 10 starts of Greene's major league career, resumes tonight after a two-start hiatus while Cervelli was down with migraines. Greene was 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA in his first nine starts with Cervelli behind the plate before getting bombed by the Red Sox for six runs in less than three innings on Sept. 2, which bloated his ERA to 3.88. In the two starts with Brian McCann behind the plate, Greene is 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA. Greene has faced the Blue Jays once this season, allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings to get a no-decision in a 5-4 Yankees loss on July 27.

Knuckling under: Dickey is 6-3 against the Yankees in nine career starts, with a 2.61 ERA. Although the two teams have met 15 times already this season (Yankees lead the series 8-7), this is only the second time he has started against them. On April 5, Dickey held the Yankees to a run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings at the Rogers Centre. Few of the Yankees have good numbers against him -- Jeter is 2-for-17 (.118) and Teixeira is 2-for-13 (.154), but Jacoby Ellsbury is 5-for-12 (.417), and Cervelli is a ridiculous 4-for-5.

Game 152: Yankees (77-74) vs. Jays (77-74)

September, 18, 2014
Sep 18
NEW YORK -- The final homestand of Derek Jeter's baseball career begins tonight with the first of four against the Toronto Blue Jays, followed by four more against the Baltimore Orioles.

And yeah, the Yankees need to win them all to have any hope of giving Jeter one more October.

Here's the lineup that will face Toronto's righty knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tonight:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Jeter SS
Brian McCann DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chris Young RF
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Francisco Cervelli C

Shane Greene RHP



Masahiro Tanaka
12 2.51 135 129
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 70
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .750
ERAH. Kuroda 3.77
SOH. Kuroda 137