New York Yankees: Shawn Kelley

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.”

Notes: Kelley too honest for his own good

August, 14, 2014
Aug 14
BALTIMORE -- We all know that honesty is the best policy. Unless, of course, you're a fan of a team on which one of the players has the nerve to tell the plain, unvarnished truth.

Such is the case of Shawn Kelley, who had the double misfortune of allowing the game-winning home run to Adam Jones in Wednesday night's 5-3 Orioles win over the Yankees, and then giving an honest assessment of his team's chances to win the American League East.

[+] EnlargeShawn Kelley
Joy R. Absalon/USA TODAY SportsShawn Kelley hangs his head after giving up the game-winning home run.
When informed that the Yankees were now eight games out of first place, and asked if he felt as though time was running out on them, Kelley said, "That’s where we are? Well, I think we were more looking at that second wild-card spot. That’s a little bit better number that seems a little more achievable at this point. But we got to win every day. We got to go out there and we got to win series and we got to win in our division. We didn’t get it done. We didn’t take care of business."

No one but the most blindly-partisan fan could take issue with any part of that statement. Eight games is a lot to overcome with just 43 to play, and with an offense that has averaged just under four runs per game (3.98) and a team whose run differential -- the difference between runs scored and runs allowed -- is now minus-31.

Perhaps realizing that his words could come back to haunt him, or worse, Kelley quickly recovered when asked if he believed the division title was out of reach.

"Not to me," he said. "I don’t think anybody else in this locker room would say it’s out of reach."

Well, actually, one already pretty much had. If Shawn Kelley thinks he had a rough Wednesday night, wait until he sees the next couple of days.

Girardi seeing things: Yankees manager Joe Girardi was adamant that home plate umpire Gerry Davis had gotten it wrong when he called Stephen Drew out for running out of the baseline in the seventh inning. In fact, he was so convinced of it that he came racing out of the dugout to continue arguing the point after the original argument was over, and wound up getting himself tossed from the game. After the game, he was still as hot about the play as ever.

"Gerry was wrong. Gerry got fooled," Girardi said. "The catcher was on the right side of the line, the first baseman was on the left side of the line, and he said the runner was outside the line. Well, the runner was not outside the line. But it appeared, it looked funny, because it looked like he had to throw around him because the first baseman and the catcher were not on the same side. So he told me to go check, so I went and checked. And I came back, I was right, and I let him know."

Well, I checked, too, and so can you. And it shows Drew was clearly running inside the baseline, on the infield grass, for the last 10 yards or so, and Davis was well within his rights to call him out for interference. And incidentally, that play is not on the list of reviewable plays, so Davis' word was the last word on the subject.

"I can't tell you that that's going to make a difference," Girardi said. "But it's a runner and maybe we score a couple of extra runs and it's a different game."

Cervelli: Blame me: Dellin Betances gave up the home run, but Francisco Cervelli took the bullet. The Yankees catcher said he called for the wrong 0-1 pitch to Jonathan Schoop in the eighth inning that turned into the game-tying home run.

"I put down the wrong finger," Cervelli said. "I take that shot. It’s my fault."

Should he have called a fastball instead of a slider?

"Yeah," he said. "Or I don’t know. Something. Anything. But that’s my fault."

Betances, for his part, said, "That pitch I hung. It didn't do much. It was a terrible pitch and he put a good swing on it."

Notes: Losing games, not ground

June, 30, 2014
Jun 30
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have lost six of their past eight games, so that has buried them in standings, right? Nope, they have only lost one game, because the Toronto Blue Jays have lost five of their past eight.

The Yankees are two games out of first place.

"We are all going through are issues, there is no doubt about it, in the division," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the team's latest loss, an 8-5 defeat to the Boston Red Sox. "As I said, it is probably going to come down to the end and it is going to be who handles the injuries the best. Obviously, we need to play better. I'm sure every club in our division says that."

In other words, the division stinks, so don't abandoned ship just yet.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Beltran
AP Photo/Kathy WillensCarlos Beltran had a hot bat Sunday in the Yankees' 8-5 loss.
Carlos looks healthy: Carlos Beltran went 3-for-4, finishing just a triple shy of a cycle.

"Hopefully, it gets him going," Girardi said.

His home run in the fourth was career No. 366, moving him into a tie with Lance Berkman for fourth on the all-time switch-hitting home run list. Mickey Mantle has the most with 536.

Beltran has been dealing with a bone spur in his right elbow and tightness in the forearm.

Kelley's struggles: So what happened to Shawn Kelley?

Kelley walked two batters and gave up a bloop two-run single to Dustin Pedroia in the fifth.

"I don't know," Girardi said. "He struggled tonight. He didn't look sharp. It is hard to say."

Gardner streaking: In his past 23 home games, Brett Gardner is batting .344 (31-for-90).

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 6, Mariners 3

June, 13, 2014
Jun 13

SEATTLE -- The last time the Yankees pulled off a sweep in Seattle, the manager's name was Torre, the catcher's name was Girardi and the shortstop's name was -- well, you already know.

That was 15 years ago, a long time between sweeps and, in the eyes of the Yankees, something that was long overdue.

Well, the wait is over. Thursday's 6-2 win over the Mariners completed the Yankees' first sweep here since August 1999, and they did it with a rookie pitcher who wasn't even a starter until a month ago and an offense that has been missing in action. Now, on to Oakland!

Who are these people?: The Yankees had not scored more than four runs in a game all June. In fact, the last time they did was May 28, when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 in St. Louis, but facing a pitcher (Roenis Elias) who had stifled them at Yankee Stadium six weeks ago, the bats came to life early, scoring two runs each in three of the first four innings.

High-speed Chase: In his best big league performance to date, Chase Whitley worked quickly and efficiently, needing just 82 pitches to get 23 outs. Manager Joe Girardi inexplicably pulled him with two outs and no one on in the eighth. Whitley allowed two runs on five hits, one a solo homer by Logan Morrison in the second -- the first home run Whitley had allowed all season in the majors or minors -- walked none, struck out six and retired the last nine hitters he faced. Whitley has not walked a batter in his past four starts, a stretch of 114 batters.

Jeter en fuego: Suddenly, Derek Jeter is red-hot at the plate, singling in each of his first three at-bats Thursday, the last a two-run single in the fourth that gave the Yankees a 6-1 lead. Jeter is 8-for-20 on the road trip (.400) and has 10 hits in his past 28 at-bats (.357). Jeter was also 7-for-12 (.583) with four runs in this road series, his last trip to Seattle -- where his big league career started in 1995. Maybe it's the coffee; he's a big Starbucks guy.

Jacoby Jack: The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0, first-inning lead when Jacoby Ellsbury drove an Elias fastball into the right-field seats with Jeter aboard. It was Ellsbury's fourth home run of the season and extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Larceny: Ellsbury leaped high to take an extra-base hit away from Robinson Cano -- and a run away from the Mariners -- in the fifth inning, snagging Cano's long drive that was hit almost to the identical area of the park as his home run off Masahiro Tanaka Wednesday night a step or two in front of the fence with a runner on first to end the inning.

Hip check: Ellsbury -- who was spied with a large ice pack on his left knee after Wednesday night's game -- was removed in the seventh inning and replaced in center by Brett Gardner, who moved over from left. It was announced that Ellsbury left the game with right hip tightness, an injury he first suffered last weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.

Faked you out!: Just moments after entering the game, Gardner deked everyone in the park -- especially the Mariners' Mike Zunino -- by leaping up against the center-field wall but not immediately acting as if he had made the catch. Zunino went into his home run trot but had to turn back to the dugout when Gardner suddenly produced the ball as the crowd groaned.

Welcome back, Sori: The slumping Alfonso Soriano, who had not played since Saturday against the Royals, celebrated his return to the lineup with a double that was absolutely scorched into the left-field gap, scoring Jeter (single) and Ellsbury (walk) to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead in the third.

Fond farewell?: If it's true, as Girardi hinted, that John Ryan Murphy might soon be headed back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre so that Francisco Cervelli can be reinstated, Murphy made the most of what might have been his last Yankees start for awhile. The catcher formerly known as "JR" had two hits -- a single and a double -- and scored a run. Overall, he is hitting .310 with one home run and eight RBIs.

Kelley's back: … but is his back OK? In his first outing since going on the DL with a lumbar spine strain on May 7, Shawn Kelley faced three hitters in the ninth, and all three hit the ball hard. Stefen Romero sent Ichiro Suzuki to the wall for a leaping catch to start the inning, and, after Dustin Ackley and Morrison smacked back-to-back doubles -- accounting for Seattle's third run -- Girardi pulled Kelley and had to go to David Robertson, who struck out the last two batters he faced to earn his 16th save.

Tomorrow: Game 1 of a three-game series against the Athletics in Oakland, California.

Pitching matchups for the weekend series: David Phelps (1-4, 4.88 ERA) versus RHP Sonny Gray (6-2, 2.83) on Friday, Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12) versus LHP Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20) on Saturday and Vidal Nuno (1-2, 4.97) versus RHP Jesse Chavez (5-4, 3.04) on Sunday. The first two games are at 10:05 p.m., and the finale is at 4:05 p.m.
SEATTLE -- The Yankees have reinstated Shawn Kelley, who has been on the disabled list since May 7 with a lower back strain, for tonight's game, and optioned RHP Matt Daley to Triple-A Scranton.

Kelley, who was 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA at the time of his injury, made two rehab appearances over the weekend and is expected to resume his duties as the setup man for closer David Robertson.

Wounded Yankees healing nicely

May, 30, 2014
May 30
NEW YORK -- The Yankees got nothing but good news from three of their injured regulars today. Mark Teixeira, who had missed three games with inflammation in his surgically-repaired right wrist, declared himself fit and ready to play this afternoon and was promptly inserted back into the lineup for tonight's game against the Twins, batting cleanup and playing first base.

Reliever Shawn Kelley, out since May 7 with a lower back injury, threw 25 pitches off a mound this afternoon for the first time since going on the disabled list and reported himself to be pain-free afterward.

And Carlos Beltran, on the DL since May 13 with a sore right elbow from an old bone spur, took 50 batting practice swings, 25 from each side of the plate, and was positively jubilant in the Yankees clubhouse afterward.

"I'm happy, honestly," said Beltran, who thought he was headed for in-season surgery when he first felt the injury. "These last few days have been tough, but right now, I'm good. I'm relieved."

Joe Girardi could not give a timetable for Kelley or Beltran to return, but did say he expected both to need some time in rehab games before they could be reactivated. Beltran will take BP again Saturday and Kelley will throw another bullpen Sunday, after which the Yankees will make a decision about what to do next with both of them.

“"No, I don't think we're out of the woods," Girardi said about Beltran. "I think he has to go through rehab games where all types of things happen; where you swing and miss, or you get fooled, or you get out in front of a ball. I think you're going to have to go through some of that. And you could go through rehab games, and you still may not know. The only way to find out if we can get him into games is if we get him in games."

Girardi said that when he returns, Beltran will be used primarily as a DH in the beginning, with Ichiro Suzuki and Alfonso Soriano splitting time in right field.
ST. LOUIS -- For a second consecutive day, Mark Teixeira is resting his inflamed right wrist. Teixeira said he is not concerned the injury is serious, but the Yankees might hold him out on Wednesday so he will receive four days off before playing Friday, when the Yankees return to the Bronx to face the Twins.

"It could make sense to give him Wednesday off, too, because then he gets Thursday off, too," Girardi said.

Teixeira said his surgeon, Dr. Keith Raskin, is "99 percent sure" that this inflammation is from overuse and completely expected. Teixeira will visit Raskin on Thursday for an ultrasound test. Teixeira possibly could play Wednesday, but the Yankees usually like to be conservative with such injuries.

"I would love to play [Wednesday], but we'll see how it feels," Teixeira said.

Teixeira said the first day off helped.

Notes: Michael Pineda (upper back) threw 28 pitches in two innings in an extended spring training game. Girardi said Pineda will throw again Sunday in an intrasquad game. He will make 50 to 60 tosses, Girardi said. ... Carlos Beltran was "extremely excited," according to Girardi, after he swung a real bat. Beltran (bone spurs) will take Wednesday off and then do some tee-and-toss. ... Shawn Kelley (back) threw long toss on Tuesday and felt fine. ... The Twins' Phil Hughes is lined up to start Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Minnesota has yet to officially name their Sunday starter.

Kelley won't be back soon

May, 24, 2014
May 24
CHICAGO -- Shawn Kelley won't return until at the end of the first week of June, according to Joe Girardi.

Kelley is still not throwing due to his strained lumbar spine. Since he is now been out nearly three weeks, Girardi thinks Kelley will need two weeks to prepare once he is healthy enough to throw.

However you look at it, Kelley's return is a ways away.

Notes: Shawn Kelley still hurting

May, 13, 2014
May 13
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees' pitching staff is in total disarray. They don't know who is going to start on Thursday. They don't know who will relieve on Tuesday.

On Monday, the short bullpen was the Yankees' downfall in a 9-7 loss to the New York Mets.

Alfredo Aceves, Matt Thornton and Preston Claiborne allowed five runs in the final three innings.

Adam Warren and Dellin Betances needed rest because of how much they have been used recently, and the Yankees were also without regular eighth-inning man Shawn Kelley.

Prior to Monday's game, Kelley said he thought he would be ready to pitch. After the Yankees' bullpen implosion, manager Joe Girardi revealed Kelley's back is still not healed.

“He came in after BP and he is still not right,” Girardi said. “I thought we would have him today. He does not have the flexibility to finish his pitches.”

Girardi said Kelley is not slated for any new tests. Kelley hasn't pitched since last Tuesday. The team could place him on the DL retroactively on Tuesday.

Old eighth-inning guy: If Thornton had been successful in the eighth, David Robertson would have reported for work a little early on Monday.

“I was going to use a four-out save with Robertson tonight,” Girardi said.

Instead, the pen blew it and Robertson never appeared in the game.

Tex: I'll be back: Mark Teixeira vowed he will play Tuesday. Teixeira did not start Monday because of tiredness and tightness, but he pinch-hit in the ninth inning and singled. Girardi felt that if Teixeira didn't have the injury he would have reached second base on the hit, which possibly would have changed the inning.

"I was hoping we'd win 7-0 and I wouldn't have to be in there today," Teixeira said.

Ichiro's ailment: Ichiro Suzuki was out for Monday's game because of a bad back. He hurt it making a sliding attempt on his knees during Sunday's game in Milwaukee.

"Tonight I just couldn't go," he said.

Suzuki said he didn't think the DL was a possibility at this point.

Ace in play: Aceves pitched out of the bullpen Monday but threw just 18 pitches, leaving Girardi to believe Aceves could still start on Thursday. If not, GM Brian Cashman said Chase Whitley would make the start at Citi Field.

Captain Hits: Derek Jeter had his first three-hit game since Sept. 30, 2012 in Toronto.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Angels 3

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
NEW YORK -- With three RBIs from rookie catcher John Ryan Murphy and 4⅔ scoreless innings from the bullpen, the New York Yankees evened their series with the Los Angeles Angels with a 4-3 Saturday afternoon win at Yankee Stadium.

Murphy's two-run single tied the game in the second inning, and his first career home run gave the Yankees the lead in the fifth.

Big day for the pen: For the third time in the past four days, the Yankees' bullpen was called on early in the game. The results Saturday were good, with four relievers combining to get 14 outs without allowing a run.

Manager Joe Girardi used Dellin Betances (first career win), Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and David Robertson in relief of starter Vidal Nuno. The innings weren't all clean (the Angels had runners in scoring position in the seventh, eighth and ninth) but the Angels never did score the tying run.

Bartman in the Bronx? The ninth inning would have been easier if not for a fan near the Yankees' dugout who helped keep Mark Teixeira from catching an Albert Pujols popup with one out and the tying run on base. Robertson eventually retired Pujols on a fly ball to left, but he had to throw six extra pitches to the dangerous Pujols. So maybe this wasn't Steve Bartman, who interfered with Moises Alou at Wrigley Field in the 2003 playoffs.

Kelley responds: It seemed like a meaningless and unnecessary pitching change when Girardi brought Kelley into Friday night's game with two out in the ninth inning and the Yankees down 12-1. But Girardi explained that Kelley had wanted to pitch, since he hadn't been in a game since last Sunday.

There's no way to know whether the three batters Kelley ended up facing Friday helped him in a key spot in the seventh inning Saturday. It didn't look like it when the first six pitches he threw were all out of the strike zone.

But after walking Mike Trout on four pitches and falling behind Pujols 2-0, Kelley got Pujols on a short fly ball to left, then struck out Howie Kendrick to end the Angels' threat and preserve a Yankee lead.

A first for Murphy: Murphy was never a big home run hitter in the minor leagues (his high in any one season was 13, last season), but his first big league homer was both well-struck and well-timed. Murphy blasted Hector Santiago's first pitch of the fifth inning over the left-field fence to break a 3-3 tie.

Murphy has made just three big league starts this season, but he was in the lineup Saturday as Brian McCann got the day game off after catching Friday night. The Yankees also won Murphy's first two starts this season.

Nuno so-so: Left-hander Nuno will need to be better if he hopes to hold onto the rotation spot that fell to him when Ivan Nova was lost to Tommy John surgery. Nuno gave up a first-inning Trout home run, and when the Yankees came back to hand him a 3-1 lead in the second inning, Nuno couldn't hold it.

Girardi said pregame he was willing to let Nuno throw 80-85 pitches, but with Nuno's pitch count at 72 and Pujols due to bat in the fifth, Girardi decided that was enough.

Shift problems: The Yankees' defensive shifts didn't work as planned Saturday. Pujols had two singles that went through the exact same spot on the infield. Then, with a runner on, one out and a one-run Yankees lead in the eighth, the shift basically handed Ian Stewart a bunt single, putting the tying run in scoring position.

What's next: The Yankees and Angels close out the series with an appearance on "Sunday Night Baseball." Masahiro Tanaka (3-0, 2.15 ERA) makes his fifth start. Right-hander Garrett Richards starts for the Angels, with first pitch set for 8:05 p.m.
NEW YORK -- Hiroki Kuroda didn't have much Friday night, but he did have a sense of humor.

After the worst start of his career, Kuroda was asked if it is hard to make adjustments as a 39-year-old pitcher.

[+] EnlargeHiroki Kuroda
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsHiroki Kuroda gave up two home runs Friday night.
"I don't know. This is the first time I've been 39," Kuroda said through his translator, drawing laughter from reporters, after allowing eight runs (six earned) in 4⅔ innings in the New York Yankees' 13-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.

Kuroda didn't offer up any excuses, about the cold weather or anything else. But after four pretty good starts this season, this was a clunker. The Angels hit four home runs, two off Kuroda.

"His stuff was a little flat," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Angels started beating up Kuroda in the second inning. They scored three runs on two singles and a double.

"The key moment was in the second inning," Kuroda said. "With runners on first and third, I got ahead 0-2."

Instead of finishing off Hank Conger for the first out, Conger smashed an RBI double for the first run of the game. From there, Kuroda never found his footing.

In the third, Kuroda was one batter away from escaping without allowing a run. He retired the first two batters before a single preceded Ian Stewart's two-run homer. In the fifth, Albert Pujols went deep, and Kuroda was soon gone from the game.

Kuroda has had some weird splits lately. He was 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his past 15 home starts. On the road, he is 0-7 in his past nine starts.

He usually has success against the Angels. Before Friday, he was 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA against Los Angeles. He is expected to make his next start on Thursday at home against the Seattle Mariners.

McCann at first: Brian McCann played first base late in the game, for the second game in a row. Could Girardi be prepping McCann for some starts there in place of Mark Teixeira?

"No, no," Girardi said. "You get a little nervous pulling your catcher and not having an extra catcher."

If John Ryan Murphy were to go down, Girardi would have been forced to use someone unaccustomed to catching if he had taken McCann completely out of the game.

McCann hadn't played first base since high school before Thursday's win in Boston. It wouldn't be a shocker if, at some point this season, McCann picks up a start or two at first base if the need occurs.

Thanks, now goodbye: Bruce Billings chewed up some innings for the Yankees' depleted bullpen. Now, he will likely be sent right back down to Triple-A.

Girardi said he would talk about it with GM Brian Cashman on Friday night. Vidal Nuno starts Saturday, and David Phelps can't be used in relief because he is starting on Wednesday.

Kelley in the ninth: The Yankees were down 11 runs with two outs in the ninth inning when Girardi made a pitching change. He brought in Shawn Kelley, who hadn't pitched since Sunday.

"He just hadn't thrown in a while," Girardi said.

Cool with it: Girardi basically always backs his players no matter what. With the Yankees trailing 8-1 in the sixth inning, there were two outs and men on first and second. Carlos Beltran decided to swipe third. He was safe, but Teixeira didn't run on the back end.

Trying to steal in that situation doesn't make much sense, but Girardi said he was fine with Beltran doing so. He was safe, so it didn't matter.

"If they're going to give it to you, we are going to take it," Girardi said.

It was a pretty close play, but Beltran got in there.

Bullpen 'hiccup' could sink Yanks

April, 19, 2014
Apr 19

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manager Joe Girardi called it "a hiccup," but it was more like a hemorrhage: four pitchers, two innings, eight earned runs.

That was what the Yankees bullpen did Friday night after having strung together seven stellar games and 15⅓ scoreless innings.

A hiccup, of course, is just a momentary annoyance. A hemorrhage is often fatal. Girardi better hope he is right and that what happened to David Phelps, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and, worst of all, Cesar Cabral in Friday night's 11-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays is something that can be cured simply by holding your breath.

Otherwise, it's too scary to contemplate.

[+] EnlargeCesar Cabral
AP Photo/Steve NesiusHow bad was Cesar Cabral on Friday? He lost his job immediately after the game.
After all, any relief pitcher can have an off night. But when just about every relief pitcher that enters a game has an off night, well, that means the entire bullpen has had an off night, and no team can afford to have many of those.

Yes, it's early in the season; yes, it's only one game; and, yes, the Yankees are still 11-7 and on top of the AL East by a game.

But for one night at least, all the preseason fears about the bullpen came true -- in living color -- and probably worse than anyone could have imagined.

Cabral was the worst of all. He faced six batters without getting a single out, allowing three hits, three runs, hitting three batters, throwing a wild pitch and getting ejected after the third hit batsman by plate umpire Joe West, who was probably acting to protect the Rays hitters. Certainly, Girardi had no such intentions; he fully planned to leave Cabral out there as long as possible so as not to have to use Shawn Kelley, his interim closer while David Robertson's groin strain heals.

Cabral was so bad he lost his job. The Yankees announced after the game he had been designated for assignment and would be replaced on the roster by Matt Daley, a right-handed reliever from Long Island.

But Warren, who had been so good Girardi was talking about him as a permanent late-inning reliever, wasn't much better than Cabral. He worked an inning and allowed three runs on four hits, including the back-breaker: Sean Rodriguez's long, two-run home run that turned a 6-5 game into an 8-5 game, effectively putting it out of reach.

In descending order, there was Phelps, who faced three batters and gave up a hit that turned into a run, and Thornton, who faced two hitters and allowed a single and got one out only because Yunel Escobar made a baserunning mistake that allowed Derek Jeter to throw him out at third. Thornton, too, got charged with one run in the Rays' three-run seventh.

But the real problem was that neither Phelps nor Thornton ever appeared capable of regaining control of the game once the Rays started threatening. And without Dellin Betances, who worked two innings on Thursday, and Vidal Nuno being saved for a spot start on Sunday, Girardi had no choice but to leave Warren out there longer than he should have, and to even bother going to Cabral.

(Read full post)

Kuroda, Warren, Kelley pitch in vs. BoSox

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
NEW YORK -- Brian McCann was the star on Saturday afternoon, but he wasn’t the only Yankees hero.

Hiroki Kuroda gutted through 6 1/3 innings despite admittedly not having his best stuff, and was rewarded with his second victory of the season.

"I didn’t have my breaking ball today," Kuroda said, through a translator. "I was just trying to get big outs."

[+] EnlargeHiroki Kuroda
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsFar from his best, Hiroki Kuroda managed to beat the Red Sox on Saturday.
Kuroda gave up back-to-back singles in the first inning and needed 21 pitches to wiggle out of trouble. Then Boston's A.J. Pierzynski smacked a 90 mph sinker into the second deck in right field in the second inning, tying the game at 2.

But Kuroda managed to keep the Red Sox at bay over the next four frames. He had runners on base in every inning but the third, but did not allow another run to score until the seventh.

A lead-off walk by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a one-out walk by Daniel Nava prompted Yankees manager Joe Girardi to go to the bullpen. Both scored on a single by Mike Carp off reliever Matt Thornton, but the runs were charged to Kuroda.

"I wish I could have completed that inning," Kuroda said. "Even though I got the win, because I couldn’t finish that inning I feel a little frustrated."

His final line -- four runs on six hits, with five strikeouts and three walks -- wasn't especially pretty, but it was good enough on a day the Yankees hit five home runs. Kuroda is now 2-1 on the season, with a 3.86 ERA.

The back end: Thornton gave up that two-run single in the seventh, but fellow relievers Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley both looked sharp Saturday.

Warren struck out a pair of batters in a 1-2-3 eighth inning. He also pitched a scoreless eighth Friday, and hasn't allowed a run in six relief appearances this year.

Kelley retired the side in order in the ninth, earning his second save of the season, as he continues to fill in for injured closer David Robertson. He bounced back from his previous outing three days ago, when he gave up two runs in the top of the ninth in a tie game against the Orioles and took the loss.

"You always want to get back out there after one doesn’t go your way," Kelley said. "It was nice to get back out there and finish off the win."

Kelley did make an adjustment. "I think I used my fastball a little bit better," he said. "I got a little slider-happy the other night. I got back to using my fastball and setting up the slider."

Deep thoughts: McCann hit two homers Saturday, but Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano and Kelly Johnson all hit one out of the park as well.

For Johnson, it was his third of the season. For Soriano, it was his third, and second in two games.

For Beltran, it was his second, and No. 360 for his career. The 36-year-old moved into a tie for 79th place on the all-time home runs list with Gary Gaetti, just one behind Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio.

Through 12 games, Beltran is now batting .268 with two home runs and six RBIs. Six of his 11 hits have come in the past four games.

"I feel good at the plate," Beltran said. "From the left side actually, I feel like my swing is there. On the right side, I feel like I'm a little bit in between. But that's what happens when you're a switch-hitter, it's hard to keep both sides sharp."

The Yankees will face a left-hander, Felix Doubront, in the series finale Sunday night.

Said Beltran, "Hopefully tomorrow I can find something to get me going."

Joe: No idea who my closer is

April, 8, 2014
Apr 8
NEW YORK -- No Mariano Rivera. No David Robertson.

And for one day, anyway, no Shawn Kelley.

So who exactly is available to pitch the ninth inning for the Yankees on Tuesday afternoon against the Orioles?

"That's a great question," manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday morning.

It's a question he wasn't willing to answer, a question that might not even have a definite answer.

A week into the season, without a blown save or even a run allowed in the ninth, the Yankees are going into a game without anyone who could remotely be considered a closer.

Rivera, of course, retired. Robertson, the anointed successor, is on the disabled list with a left groin strain. Kelley, who earned his first career save in Monday's home opener, is considered unavailable because he has pitched two days in a row and warmed up in the games before that.

Which leaves ...

"We'll see where [the Orioles] are in the lineup," Girardi said.

It's unlikely Girardi would use Adam Warren, because he has pitched the past two days and Girardi doesn't like using relievers three straight days this early in a season. David Phelps has pitched twice in the past three days, and Girardi prefers not to use relievers three times in four days.

That leaves Dellin Betances, a rookie right-hander who had trouble throwing strikes his previous time out, and Matt Thornton, a veteran left-hander who has 23 career saves but doesn't have a great history closing games. And after Thornton pitched Monday, Girardi said he wasn't sure how much he'd be able to get from him Tuesday.

It's not a closer crisis, not when the Yankees still haven't lost a game in the ninth inning this season. But it's not exactly ideal.

CABRAL GETS THE CALL: The Yankees called up 25-year-old left-hander Cesar Cabral to take Robertson's roster spot, giving them three lefties in the bullpen (with Thornton and Vidal Nuno), in a week where they'll face the Orioles (with Chris Davis and Nick Markakis) and the Red Sox (with David Ortiz, Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski).

Cabral impressed the Yankees with 10 scoreless appearances in spring training, but he lost out to Nuno for the final spot in the Opening Day bullpen. Cabral made eight appearances for the Yankees last September, with a 2.45 ERA.

Question 10: Who replaces D-Rob in 8th?

March, 28, 2014
Mar 28
Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton & Dellin BetancesGetty Images/USA TODAY SportsWill Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton or Dellin Betances replace David Robertson as the setup man?
As we count down to Opening Day, Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand will answer 14 for '14 -- the top 14 questions facing the 2014 New York Yankees. The series will run until the eve of the first pitch between the Yankees and Astros on Tuesday, April 1, and will end with both Matthews and Marchand making their predictions for the season.

Question: How will the Yankees replace David Robertson in the eighth inning?

Andrew Marchand: Who will replace Robertson in the eighth inning is a bigger issue than whether Robertson can succeed Mariano Rivera as the closer in 2014. The Yankees do not have an obvious candidate to fill in for Robertson. Out of the gate, Joe Girardi will probably go by committee with Shawn Kelley receiving the first shot, but with anyone in the pen eligible to take the role.


Who will replace David Robertson in the eighth inning?


Discuss (Total votes: 1,404)

Kelley was acquired from Seattle (is it me or do the Yankees make all their trades with the M's?) last spring. He went 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA and made a career-best 57 appearances. He is a strikeout specialist; his 71 ranked him eighth among AL relievers. But at 29, he is still unproven.

Lefty Matt Thornton could get some run here since he is good against righties and lefties. The wild card is someone like Dellin Betances, whose slurve looked great during the spring. To go along with a 95 mph fastball, the New York-bred Betances is an intimidating and intriguing possibility.

Wallace Matthews: This is the great overlooked question of 2014, because losing Mo not only cost the Yankees the greatest closer in history, but also one of baseball's best setup men.

Kelley is the obvious choice because he's a strikeout pitcher and can retire both lefties and righties, and I think he will get the first crack at it. But Betances certainly opened some eyes this spring, and in fact some in the Yankees organization see the 6-foot-8 righty with the 97 mph fastball as future closer material. I happen to agree with them, and what better way to groom a closer than by making him a setup man first? It worked for Mo and Robertson, and I think it will work for Betances. By the All-Star break, I'm guessing Betances will get the bulk of the eighth-inning work.



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