New York Yankees: Bartolo Colon

Girardi: Bartolo a sad case

August, 22, 2012
Joe Girardi was asked for a reaction to the news that Bartolo Colon, briefly a Yankee sensation for the first half of last season, had been banned by MLB for 50 games after having tested positive for testosterone.

"It’s sad,'' he said. "The idea behind the testing is to keep everything fair and to keep people from doing things. I mean, it’s sad. It’s not good for our sport.''

Girardi said the news was especially affecting since he managed Colon last year. "Obviously, there’s a relationship there so it probably hurts a little bit more, because you appreciate what they’ve done for you and you have a liking for them,'' he said.

And asked whether the recent spate of drug positives, which includes another former Yankee, Melky Cabrera, was evidence of the effectiveness of baseball's drug-testing policy, Girardi said, "I think so. I think it’s working. Hopefully there’s a point where we won't have to deal with this, but I don't think that’s ever gonna happen. Everyone’s always trying to get ahead. You see it in the Olympics. And athletes know exactly when the Olympics are played. Every four years.''

First, Melky, now Bart ...

August, 22, 2012
The good news is, as far as we know, Bartolo Colon has not tried to create any fake websites to trick MLB investigators. The bad news is another former Yankee has tested positive for testosterone. Colon joins Melky Cabrera as ex-Yankees in trouble.

Of course, you could see this Colon situation coming from a 3,000 miles away. Last year, Colon's success always seemed fishy.

From 2006 to 2010, Colon pitched a total of 257 innings and not many of them were very good. In 2010, he didn't even pitch in the majors. In 2011, at 38, he fired 164 1/3 innings, many really good ones, leading to a 4.00 ERA. It was too good to be true, it seemed.

He had a unique surgery with a doctor who said there was "no smoking gun." He didn't fail any tests, so everyone had to take Colon and his doctors on their word. Now, you can decide.

Colon has admitted cheating, joining Cabrera as Bay Area players who have been on the wrong side of 50 game suspensions. For the Yankees, they cut bait without this ever being their issue.

W2W4: Yankees at Athletics (May 26)

May, 26, 2012
Sabathia Stats To Watch For
We’ll see if CC Sabathia’s slider is back to its usual form.

Sabathia did not have his best slider in his last start against the Reds. He threw 27 of them and only 12 were for strikes, by far his lowest success rate with the pitch this season.

Sabathia typically gets a hitter to chase a slider out of the strike zone about 40 percent of the time, but the Reds went after only two of 17 thrown out of the strike zone.

Also of note: right-handed hitters are hitting .302 with a .389 on-base percentage in his last three starts.

Colon Stats to Watch
Bartolo Colon has been up and down in his 10 starts with the Athletics. His fastball, which he throws nearly 90 percent of the time, has had both success and failure. He had a four-start stretch in April in which he allowed two runs or fewer each time, but he has allowed 17 runs and 35 hits in 19 innings in four May starts.

If the good Colon shows up, the Yankees' work-the-count approach will be tested. Colon has been a strike-thrower, particularly to right-handed hitters. He has faced 114 righties this season and not walked one yet.

That may change against Alex Rodriguez, who had a three-homer game against Colon and ended up homering against him four times in a row in 2005. Rodriguez is 4-for-10 against him since the four-homer barrage, but the two haven’t faced each other since 2007.

Jeter Bounce-Back Day
It was a rare struggle for Derek Jeter on Friday, with three whiffs in five at-bats.

Jeter missed on six swings in that game, the most misses he’s had in a game since June 26, 2010 against the Dodgers.

Three For Three
The Yankees have hit three home runs in each of their last two games, doing so Friday in a ballpark where it is tough to hit home runs.

If the Yankees went for three home runs again, they would be the first opposing team to hit three home runs in back-to-back games in Oakland since the Rangers did so in 2008.

It would also give the Yankees their second three-game three-homer streak of the season. They also did so from April 19 to 21 against the Twins and Red Sox.

Stewart Hit Watch
Fluke or not, when catcher Chris Stewart gets a hit, the Yankees tend to do well. The Yankees are 5-1 this season in games in which Stewart has gotten a hit, their only loss coming in Stewart’s last start against the Reds.

Thanks for the memories, Bartolo

January, 15, 2012
Noah K. Murray/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireBartolo Colon as a New York Yankee: It was fun while it lasted.
Bartolo Colon, the Yankees' lifesaver for the first three months of last year, is headed to Oakland, Jayson Stark reports. It is no surprise since there was no room in the Yankees' rotation, and as you may have heard they were a little busy on Friday.

Colon, who will turn 39 in May, went 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 appearances. As you know, he had barely pitched the previous five years.

Even with just 29 appearances, Colon left his mark on Yankees history.

The first great thing about Colon was he came into camp looking the way he did. He was laughing and saying he was going to lose 25 pounds, but I'm not sure he ever got around to it. (OK, I know he didn't.)

Still, it didn't really matter for awhile since he was nearly an All-Star.

Through the All-Star game, Colon was 6-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 90 innings. Everyone expected him to run out of gas, and he eventually did. He never did lose his smile, though. He was like the cat who ate the canary. (I know, I know, he might've really eaten a canary.)

He's a playful guy. I remember once at Citi -- it might've been a game he was starting -- he did that third-grade trick on me, where you walk by someone and tap them on one shoulder and then keep going. He didn't say, "Made you look," but there was a fun aspect to Colon's personality. He was intriguing.

The strangest moment came in May when the New York Times reported the story that Colon used fat and stem cell surgery in some sort of miracle cure for his elbow. The legend of Colon -- maybe a little tarnished after the story -- was further embellished. It added to the great story, even if it could have dampened it. (Since nothing illegal was ever done, as far as we know, I would say it didn't.)

But, of course, the big thing (pun totally intended) was how Colon appeared. Colon looked like anything but a professional athlete. The fact that he was so good even though he was so out-of-shape is a testament to what type of athlete he was. He was also a headline writer's delight, and he will be missed by editors, I'm sure.

Colon's gone, but he left a mark on Yankees history. A big mark.

W2W4: Yankees at Angels (Friday)

September, 9, 2011
Bartolo Colon Stats2Watch4
Colon needs to be wary of the long ball. He’s given up six home runs in his last four starts and historically, Angel Stadium is a ballpark in which he yields long flies-- he’s yielded them at a rate of 1.4 per nine innings in 59 career starts there.

Colon has fared better this season with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate (2.02 ERA in 53⅓ innings) than Russell Martin (4.61 in 91⅔ innings pitched). Whoever is behind the plate will need to figure out a way for Colon to get left-handed hitters out. They are hitting .330 with a .679 slugging percentage against him since the All-Star Break (they were .254/.451 prior).

Jered Weaver Stats2Watch4
Weaver is 3-0 in regular season games against the Yankees at Angel Stadium, albeit with a 4.74 ERA. His home ERA overall this season is 1.87, which took a spike when he allowed six runs in five innings to the Twins in his last start on September 3.
Since that start, Angels pitchers have allowed just seven runs in the last four games, though that’s come against the Mariners and Twins. The Angels won three of those games despite hitting only .198 as a team in them.

Weaver gives up a lot of fly balls and those on the Yankees roster have cashed in. Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson each have a .353 batting average and four home runs in 17 regular season at-bats against Weaver, tied with Hank Blalock and Raul Ibanez for the most home runs against the Angels ace.

Granderson actually had hits in his first three at-bats against Weaver, but has just three hits in 14 at-bats since. He’s 0-for-7 against Weaver since homering against him on April 21, 2009. Granderson’s four home runs against Weaver match Scott Baker for his most against any pitcher.

Rodriguez homered in each of four straight regular season games against Weaver between 2007 and 2009, and Weaver has responded by walking him four times in nine plate appearances since the last long ball.

Rodriguez and Granderson rank 1-2 in slugging percentage both against Weaver and against the Angels as a team. Rodriguez has 68 home runs in 183 games against the Angels. Granderson has 15 in 52, including four in three games at Yankee Stadium earlier this season.

They might want to pass some help on to Derek Jeter, who is 2-for-19 all-time in the regular season against Weaver, his worst batting average for any pitcher he's had at least 20 plate appearances against (cap-tip to my colleague, Jeremy Lundblad, for the late addition).
Nick of Time
Nick Swisher is 3-for-28 since August 31 and is having trouble sneaking a ground ball through the infield. He’s 0-for-10 when hitting a ground ball in that stretch, and is hitless on the last 13 ground balls he’s hit.

Not So Heavenly
The Yankees went 8-20 in Angel Stadium from 2005 to 2010, but took two of three their earlier this season. Key to that was outhomering the Angels, 5-1.

Fish Tale
The Yankees will get their first look at Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year, outfielder Mike Trout, who is hitting .230 with five home runs through his first 87 at-bats. He’s hitting just .209 with one home run in 43 at-bats at Angel Stadium.

Stat of the Day
Since allowing a triple on an 0-2 pitch to Johnny Damon on July 9, David Robertson has thrown 68 curveballs and not allowed a hit with one. Hitters have shown an inability to resist in the pitch, with which Robertson has gotten 16 outs in that stretch, despite throwing the hook in the strike zone around one-fourth of the time.
If someone had told you back in March that Bartolo Colon, after not being healthy enough to pitch a full season in the big leagues since 2005, would still be an important part of the Yankees pitching rotation in September, you would have been justified in thinking either that someone was crazy, or the Yankees would be hopelessly out of the pennant race.

But Colon is still here and the Yankees are still on track to make the playoffs, even if their 2-0 loss to the Orioles today in the first game of a day-night oubleheader dropped them to 2-1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East.

And the next time he takes the ball, on Friday against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, it will be Sept. 9 and Colon will have pitched more innings (138-2/3 after today) than he had in the 2008 and 2009 seasons combined. (Colon did not pitch in the majors in 2010).

Despite losing his third decision in a row, Colon looked a lot more like the pitcher who amazed the Yankees in the first half od the season than the one who had posted a 7.94 ERA in his last two starts. Colon worked 7-2/3 innings, allowed two runs on seven hits, walked none, struck out four and hit 95 on the gun on his 103rd and final pitch of the day.

"I was throwing every pitch I had today,'' Colon said. "My sinker was my best pitch. I threw it a lot. And my slider was helping me a lot, too.''

After two previous sub-par outings after getting an extra day's rest due to the Yankees' temporary six-man rotation, Colon was back to working on five days rest today, a change he said he welcomes.

"I feel better going every five days,'' he said. "I'm a little older but I've been going on five days my whole career. But if they want to give me an extra day, I'll take it.''

Before the game Joe Girardi said that this would likely be the last time through for the six-man rotation; after A.J. Burnett's start in Boston on Wednesday, the Yankees would reduce the staff by one pitcher. Everyone has a guess as to who that pitcher will be, but no one is doubting who it will not be:

Bartolo Colon, who will soon be pitching in his first September ballgame in nearly three years.

Controversial HR makes difference in loss

August, 18, 2011

The Royals beat the Yankees 5-4 Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium and a long fly ball off the bat of Billy Butler in the third inning turned out to be the difference.

About that, there is no dispute.

About just about everything else, there is no agreement.

Was Butler’s ball, which caromed off a pad at the top of the left-center field wall and bounced back onto the field, really a home run?

The umpires said it was the moment the ball landed on the warning track, and again after retiring to their inner sanctum to watch the replay.

Should Joe Girardi, who vociferously believed the ball was not a home run, have protested?

After the game, he said yes. But at the time of the argument, the Yankees manager chose to defer to crew chief Dana DeMuth, the second base umpire who made the original call.

“I probably should have [protested],’’ Girardi said. “But I figured Dana knew the rule.’’

But the real question is, did the Yankees know the rule?

This is where it gets sticky. According to Girardi, his first base coach, Mick Kelleher, went over the ground rules with the umpires before the first game of the series Monday night and, according to Kelleher, specifically asked about a ball hitting the top of the wall, which is backed by a chain-link fence that protrudes 8-to-10 inches above the top of the padded wall.

“We were under the understanding that it had to go over both fences,’’ Girardi said. “[DeMuth] said no, they cleared that up the first day of the ground rules, it only had to go over the first fence.’’

Kelleher, recounting his conversation with the umpires, said, “They said, ‘It’s clear and open. Above that is a padded rail, so it has to clear the padded rail.’ It doesn’t make sense to me. The ball never left the ballpark, so how could it be a home run?”

The angriest Yankee of them all was Mariano Rivera, who was watching on television in the clubhouse but raced out to tell Girardi that the ball should not have been ruled a home run.

“What I saw wasn’t what they saw,’’ Rivera said. “To me, matter of fact, the ball never hit the back wall. I mean, that cost us the game. Tie game, you know? I understand we’re all human, but come on. You have replays, and get the call wrong? That’s unacceptable.’’

There was no clarification coming from the umpires. DeMuth refused to speak with a pool reporter seeking comment.

“That’s interesting,’’ Kelleher said.

Television replays seemed to show the ball landing on the wide green pad atop the wall and caroming back against the chain-link fence before returning to the field.

Even Girardi agreed with the umpires’ perception of where the ball landed. What was open to question was the interpretation of the rule.

“I didn’t think it was a home run,’’ Girardi said. “If I’m correct and it’s a double, then it shows a flaw in not knowing the rules. It’s huge, especially if he’s incorrect, because it’s 4-4 and we’re still playing and the pressure changes. It would be a shame to lose a game like that.’’

It was the second home run allowed in the inning by Bartolo Colon, who had his worst outing in more than a month, surrendering five earned runs in five innings. The Yankees had ample opportunities to make up the difference, especially in the ninth inning when they loaded the bases with one out. But they could only manage to sneak one run across, on Robinson Cano’s sacrifice fly, and the game ended when Jorge Posada looked at a third strike with runners on second and third.

“It ended up being a one-run game, and things might have gone differently but it’s hard to say how big that was or how big that wasn’t," said Brett Gardner, who had a pretty good look at the play from left field. “It’s part of the game and we came up short. We fell behind early and we just didn’t win tonight. We been playing some pretty good baseball and you can’t win all of them.’’

Gardner followed that bit of honesty with probably the most significant observation of the night: “I don’t understand why that little piece of fence is there. It probably can lead to a lot of controversy over the years.’’

Colon's worst outing in six weeks is over

August, 17, 2011
Bartolo Colon is out of the game after five innings, having allowed seven hits, five runs and two home runs, although one of them -- a solo shot by Billy Butler in the third that appeared to hit the padding on top of the wall -- was disputed and needed to be reviewed by the umpires. But what was beyond dispute was that this was Colon's worst outing since July 7, when he surrendered 10 hits and five runs to the Rays in a 5-1 Yankees loss. (Colon gave up eight runs to the Blue Jays on July 14, but only three were earned).

Notebook: Granderson, Soriano and Colon

August, 11, 2011

Maybe Curtis Granderson doesn't fancy himself as a home run hitter, but his teammates aren't buying the center fielder's talk.

"He's so full of you know what," right fielder Nick Swisher joked. "He's having such a great year. I couldn't be more happy for him and it couldn't happen to a better guy."

Granderson completed the trifecta of homering in each game of the three-game set against the Angels with a two-run shot Thursday in the Yankees' 6-5 win. It gave Granderson his fourth home run in three games and gave him 32 home runs on the year, extending his career-high.

"Still not (a home run hitter)," Granderson said.

With the Yankees trailing 2-0 in the sixth inning, Granderson swatted a two-run shot to right that tied the game and started the Yankees' comeback. His two runs started a rally of six straight runs scored by the Yankees. He had hit into consecutive double plays in his previous at-bats.

The center fielder has now hit home runs in three straight games for the third time this season and is the now the American League leader in runs with 105 and RBIs with 93. He is tied for the Yankees lead in home runs with Mark Teixeira.

"It's always good to win the series, especially after winning the first one here. Tough team, a team that's looking to go ahead and move themselves up in the American League West, just like we're trying to in the American League East," Granderson said. "Tough battle and it doesn’t get any easier when we have Tampa Bay coming in tomorrow."

THAT GUY BACK-TO-BACK: Rafael Soriano has been lights out in his return from the disabled list, but had yet to pitch in back-to-back games. He finally got his chance Thursday.

After telling Yankees manager Joe Girardi he was good to pitch today, after pitching Wednesday, Girardi used Soriano in the seventh inning and he threw a scoreless frame, ultimately getting the win as the Yankees scored four in the bottom of the inning.

Soriano now has thrown six scoreless innings since his return on July 30 and has given up one hit and struck out five spanning those innings. The single he allowed to Bobby Wilson with one out in the seventh was the first base runner he allowed since his return.

"To me, I feel a lot of confidence right now and I feel very comfortable with the way they're using me and that makes the difference," Soriano said.

HE STARTED? Lost in the heroics of Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera's struggles was another solid outing by Bartolo Colon. Colon pitched six innings and gave up two runs on a home run by Alberto Callaspo. He recorded a no-decision.

While the Angels threatened at times, Colon did his best to keep them at bay, working out of a bases-loaded jam in the second inning. Colon said he had his sinker working well today and said the home run he served up to Callaspo was his only mistake.

Girardi ultimately pulled Colon after six because the Yankees had a long bottom of the sixth inning as they tied the game and Los Angeles made two pitching changes.

The Yankees are 18-8 in their last 26…They are 25-13 in series finales...The Yankees are 11-4 at this stadium against the Angels...They are 13-2-2 in their last 17 series.

Notebook: Rotation, Colon and other notes

August, 11, 2011
Judgment day is coming for the Yankees' starters.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday the Yankees feel they need to get their rotation back to five starters and the plan is to have the rotation set before the Yankees leave for their seven-game road trip starting Monday against Kansas City.

"It's something that we'll continue to monitor and you don't know what's going to happen in the next few days," Girardi said. "You have no idea."

From all indications, and the recent results, the odd man out in the rotation is likely either Phil Hughes or A.J. Burnett. Burnett is 8-9 with a 4.60 ERA and has not won since June while Hughes is 2-4 with a 7.11 ERA, the highest ERA among any team starters. Hughes pitches Saturday against Tampa Bay while Burnett pitched Tuesday and struggled against the Angels.

With no off day upcoming next week, the Yankees will not affect the resting period for their starters when they subtract the sixth starter from the rotation. Girardi said his mind could change in the upcoming days regarding the rotation and whomever gets pulled could be used as a spot starter.

KIND OF A SURPRISE: When the Yankees signed Thursday's starter, Bartolo Colon, it wasn't known whether he would even make the starting rotation, let alone the team. Yet, here is Colon, with an 8-6 record and 3.33 ERA as the season heads down the stretch.

"I can't tell you I really expected him to be like this in August, just because of what he's been through the last four or five years," Girardi said. "And as I said, some of the extra rest, maybe even the (Disabled List) stint, might have helped him recharge a little bit."

Girardi said he believes Colon has been able to sustain his success because he's efficient and the team has been able to get him extra days of rest at times. The manager also thinks Colon's time on the DL with a strained left hamstring in June and July may have helped him stay fresh.

"He’s been the biggest surprise all year for us. Pleasant surprise. Because when he came into spring training we had no idea what we were going to get from him," Girardi said. "When we started the season we weren't sure how many innings we were going to get from him. He’s probably exceeded every one of our expectations. He’s one of the reasons we are where we are."

THAT GUY: Rafael Soriano has been lights out since his return from the disabled list after struggling at the beginning of the season. Girardi said he thinks it takes some time to get adjusted to a new team, as Soriano signed in the offseason, but doesn't have a concrete reason of why Soriano has been so effective in his return to the bullpen.

JORGE GETTING IN: With Jorge Posada now just a bench player, Girardi said he's going to look for days to use Posada as the designated hitter, as well as at first base. Girardi said there is no set game that Posada will play in, but said Posada has to play to try and keep him fresh.

W2W4: Orioles at Yankees (Saturday)

July, 30, 2011
A quick look at what to watch for out of the starting pitchers in today's doubleheader.

Bartolo Colon Stat 2 Watch 4
Colon has had an unusually high degree of success against cleanup hitters this season. They are 9-for-47 with two walks and four ground-ball double plays against him, but most significantly they have no home runs.

The only cleanup hitter to get a hit off Colon in his past seven starts is Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman, who has two.

Colon has specialized in getting the cleanup hitter to hit the ball on the ground. He's induced 26 ground balls from cleanup hitters (65 percent of balls put into play by them, including one bunt) and given up just three hits, including one to the Orioles' Vladimir Guerrero.

Colon leads the American League in this obscure stat: opposing ground ball percentage from cleanup hitters.

Colon induces ground balls at about a 44 percent rate from the rest of the lineup.

Ivan Nova Stat 2 Watch 4
Be wary of the long ball from Nova, who has won his last four decisions overall, but yielded five home runs in his last three starts at Yankee Stadium.

Opponents are 12-for-42 with seven homers this season when they hit a fly ball against Nova in the Bronx. They are 5-for-34 with one home run when doing so elsewhere.

Chris Tillman Stat 2 Watch 4
Ground balls hit against Tillman tend to find holes, so keep an eye on the Orioles defense behind him, too.

Opponents are hitting .274 when they hit a ground ball against Tillman this season. That's about 50 points worse than they hit on average against a major league pitcher.

But things have been better when Tillman has yielded a grounder recently, with opponents netting just two hits in 15 at-bats against him when hitting one over his past three starts before his demotion to Triple-A.

The issue in his previous start, on May 27, wasn't ground balls, but line drives. He allowed eight against the Athletics.

Zach Britton Stat 2 to Watch 4
Britton last pitched on July 8, allowing eight runs in 2/3 of an inning at Fenway Park. His ERA rose nearly a full point in his last four starts before the All-Star break -- from 3.10 to 4.05.

Britton didn't allow a run in seven innings against the Yankees on May 18. His key that day was getting ground balls. The Yankees put 21 balls into play against Britton that day, including seven with men on base. On each of those seven occasions (including one bunt), Britton got at least one out.

W2W4: Athletics at Yankees (Sunday)

July, 24, 2011
Gio Gonzalez Stat To Watch
After allowing one run in 6 2/3 innings in his first start against the Yankees in 2009, Gonzalez has struggled in his last three outings against them, allowing 14 runs in 14 2/3 innings against them.

Yankees right-handed hitters have feasted in Gonzalez in those last three games, to a .473 on-base percentage. The primary culprit is Nick Swisher, who was 4-for-6 with two walks against Gonzalez in that stretch, including a home run when they last met on June 1.

But in his last five starts overall, Gonzalez has been sharp against right-handers, their on-base percentage against him is just .248, with 32 strikeouts and 10 walks in that span.

Bartolo Colon Stat To Watch
When Bartolo Colon shut out the Athletics on May 30, he was totally locked in. Colon got ahead 0-1 on 22 of the 28 hitters who didn’t put the first pitch in play (he gave up one first-pitch hit). He got to two strikes on 12 hitters in that game, retiring each of them.

The latter is something to keep an eye on. Colon has allowed 12 baserunners with two strikes in his last three starts.

Curtis Granderson skidding
Curtis Granderson is 1-for-14 with nine strikeouts in his last five games, including five in six at-bats against left-handed pitching.

One unexpected quirk about Granderson with a lefty on the mound today. You’d think that his home run success against lefties would be a Yankee Stadium thing. It actually isn’t. Granderson has four home runs in 58 at-bats against lefties at Yankee Stadium this season, six in 57 at-bats against lefties on the road.

Granderson may be due. He’s homerless in his last 30 at-bats against lefties at Yankee Stadium.

Hideki Matsui’s weak spot
Speaking of stat quirks, there’s another one with Matsui. He’s gotten no results this season when hitting a fly ball against a right-handed pitcher. He’s 9-for-20 when hitting fly balls against lefties, 4-for-57 against righties.

Some of that has to do with Oakland’s cavernous outfield, but not completely. Matsui is hitless the last 19 times he’s hit a fly ball against a right-handed pitcher on the road.

Hall of Fame Player Notes of the Day
Bert Blyleven, scheduled to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame today, was 13-19 against the Yankees in his career, his worst record against any AL team. His best win against the Yankees was a three-hit, eight-strikeout shutout in 1986, and the next year, he beat the Yankees twice for the eventual World Series champion Twins.

Faring better was fellow Hall inductee Roberto Alomar, who hit .314 with 14 home runs in 129 regular season games against the Yankees (he hit .217 in a five-game loss to the Yankees in the 1996 ALCS).

One of Alomar’s seven career grand slams came against the Yankees on July 23, 1999, but his heroics were lost in the story later that day when Derek Jeter beat Alomar’s Indians with a two-run walk-off single in the 10th.

Bartolo through six strong innings

July, 19, 2011
Coming off the worst start of his brief Yankees career, Bartolo Colon has rebounded to throw six strong innings so far tonight, allowing just one run n three hits and striking out eight as the Yankees take a 2-1 lead (Robinson Cano two-run HR in the third) into the seventh inning at the Trop. Colon couldn't get out of the first inning in his last start, allowing eight runs (three earned runs) to the Blue Jays in just 2/3 of an inning at the Rogers Centre on July 14. Although Joe Girardi wouldn't say so, it is likely the 38-year-old with a long history of shoulder and elbow problems was being watched closely tonight. So far, he has passed the audition.

Colon served up fat ones tonight

July, 7, 2011
On a night in Derek Jeter might yet get his 3,000th hit, the Tampa Bay Rays seemed in the process of getting 3,000 hits off Bartolo Colon, and might have if Joe Girardi hadn't yanked him with two out in the sixth.

Through five innings, the big man was uncharacteristically hittable, allowing five runs and nine hits, none of them cheapies. Ben Zobrist led off the game with a triple and scored on Evan Longoria's hard single; two innings later, Zobrist crushed a solo home run into the right-field bleachers (Zobrist's third time up, Colon wisely pitched around him, walking him on four pitches). And in the fifth inning, B.J. Upton homered to left with Casey Kotchman aboard to give the Rays a 5-0 lead.

One out after Colon allowed a season-high 10th hit in the sixth, Girardi replaced him with Hector Noesi. Colon's line tonight: 5-2/3 IP, 5ER, 10H, 4BBs, just 1K.
Through all the injuries and a 1-8 record against the Red Sox, the Yankees are the class of the American League at the halfway point of the season.

With their 5-2 win over the Mets Saturday, the Yankees improved to an American League best 50-31, which puts the Bronx Bombers on pace for a 100-win season. The team has also won a season-high seven games as it heads into the second half of the year.

"I'm pleased with the way we have played," Manager Joe Girardi said. "Our guys have kept at it, we've had some bad series, some tough series we've had to overcome and they’ve done that. I give them a lot of credit, they just go about, they're business-like and they go to work every day."

The biggest factor that most Yankees pointed to as to why they have been the top team in the American League this season is the contributions they have received from players who have filled in for injured starters, or those who are filling key spots in the rotation.

Saturday's game was a perfect example. Bartolo Colon was signed in the offseason and started the season in the bullpen, but after moving into the rotation after Phil Hughes' injury, he's 6-3 with a 2.88 ERA in 11 starts. Colon pitched six shutout innings against the Mets on Saturday.

At the plate, backup shortstop Eduardo Nunez, filling in for the injured Derek Jeter, went 3-for-4 and is 7-for-8 in the Subway Series. He had a home run to give the Yankees a 5-0 led in the ninth inning and has performed admirably while filling in for the Captain.

"I think we're playing well but there's no question there are areas we can improve," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "The good thing is collectively, one through 25, everybody is doing a little bit."

The bullpen is even a better example of what the players are talking about in terms of players stepping up. It has been devastated by injuries, as set-up man Rafael Soriano has missed a significant portion of the season and seventh-inning man Joba Chamberlain is lost for the season with a torn right MCL, yet it's still been one of the best units in baseball.

Unheralded relievers like Cory Wade, who threw two shutout innings Saturday, and Luis Ayala, pitching to a 1.38 ERA, have combined with fantastic seasons from David Robertson and Mariano Rivera to give the Yankees a formidable late-inning lockdown unit.

Add in other key first-half performances like Freddy Garcia in the rotation and Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira's home run explosions, and 100 wins is a realistic goal for the Yankees--even if they continue to struggle against the Red Sox.

"I think we're still working on some things," Teixeira said. "We're not a perfect team, there aren't any perfect teams. I love to see us get completely healthy in the bullpen. Other than that, you gotta feel good with where we are right now at the halfway point."



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146