New York Yankees: Washington Nationals

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 4, Nationals 1

June, 17, 2012
6/17/12
4:50
PM ET


Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: That if the Yankees were in the National League, they might go 162-0. Sunday's 4-1 victory over the Nationals not only completes a three-game sweep in D.C., but makes it three straight sweeps over three pretty good NL teams -- Mets, Braves, Nationals. And the Yankees have got six more with the NL this week.

Capital punishment: The best in the AL versus one of the best in the NL looks like a mismatch all weekend.

Nova a knockout: Ivan Nova pitched his third straight gem, working into the eighth inning, allowing seven hits and just one run on Adam LaRoche's homer leading off the second. Over his past three outings, Nova has worked 22 2/3 innings and allowed just two earned runs for an ERA of -- wait for it -- 0.79. Sick.

Rockin' Robby: Robinson Cano just crushed a 2-0 fastball from reliever Tom Gorzelanny over the left-center-field fence to give the Yankees a little breathing room in the seventh. Cano's 12th homer of the season made it 3-1 Yankees.

Just dandy: Curtis "I'm not a home-run hitter" Granderson belted No. 21 into the Nats' bullpen leading off the fifth inning to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Only Adam Dunn and Josh Hamilton have more. Grandy also had a first-inning double that, because of the Yankees' nagging RISP problems, went nowhere. Of course.

Daily double: With the Nats threatening in the fourth inning -- first-and-third, one out -- Nova got a huge double play on a smooth-as-silk pick and toss by Cano on Danny Espinosa's one-hopper.

Sacrificial lamb: Nova laid down two successful sacrifice bunts, although the first one, in the fourth inning, looked like he hit it by accident. By the sixth, however, Nova had it down pretty good. He can use it again over the weekend at Citi Field against the Mets.

Cold-Rod: Even with a day off Saturday, Alex Rodriguez was just 4-for-22 on the road trip (.182), although one of those hits was the grand slam that tied Lou Gehrig last Tuesday in Atlanta. But A-Rod had some bad at-bats Sunday, especially in the seventh inning, when he chased high and away on what would have been ball four and struck out.

Mitt malfunction: The Yankees' fourth run scored on a passed ball charged to Nats catcher Jhonatan Solano, on a ball four to Andruw Jones, allowing Mark Teixeira to score from third. On the next pitch, another one got past Solano, allowing Jones to move to second.

Bryce is right: Bryce Harper rebounded from his horrendous five-K Saturday with a ringing double off the right-center-field fence in the third, a single in the eighth, and an on-the-money peg home on Derek Jeter's lineout to center, holding Andruw Jones at third.

Bully!: Teddy Roosevelt got hosed in the Presidents' Race again, this time by a most-unsportsmanlike Thomas Jefferson, who elbowed him out of the way just before the finish line. TR is now 0-474 in the daily scandal.

What's coming: A column on Nova, who threw the kind of game Greg Maddux would have been proud of. Plus, any available update on Nick Swisher's fitness for Monday night's game against the Braves.

Monday: Yankees open a three-game series at home against the Atlanta Braves, who they swept out of the Ted just a few days ago. The pitching matchups: CC Sabathia (8-3, 3.70) vs. LHP Mike Minor (3-4, 6.01) Monday night; Hiroki Kuroda (6-6, 3.43) vs. RHP Tim Hudson (4-3, 3.90) Tuesday night; and Phil Hughes (7-5, 4.50) vs. RHP Tommy Hanson (7-4, 3.32) on Wednesday afternoon.

One thing the Yankees still can't do ...

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
11:48
PM ET
... is win a game without hitting a home run. And on Friday night, they were soooo close!

Actually, undoubtedly they can win without hitting one out of the park, because had Curtis Granderson not jumped on Tom Gorzelanny's 3-1 fastball with two out in the ninth and deposited it in the Nationals' bullpen, they still would have won this one. They just haven't done it yet this season.

In every one of their 38 victories, the Yankees, who lead baseball with 97 homers, have hit at least one long ball, a stat which rightly or wrongly has made their failure to hit well with runners in scoring position seem that much more prominent.

But until Granderson's shot -- his 20th of the season -- the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Nationals was accomplished with some unusually timely hitting (4-for-8 w/RISP and 1-for-1 with the bases loaded) and some unusually sloppy defense by the Nats.

The Yankees scored two runs in the third inning on RBI singles by Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher , and four more in the seventh on, believe it or not, a bases-loaded single by Derek Jeter, which turned into two runs when Nats shortstop Ian Desmond threw the ball away. Then Granderson followed with a two-run double to left.

The entire inning was a perfect example of hitting in the clutch, and the perfect answer to those of us who have been asking all season long if the Yankees are too reliant on the long ball.

"I don't care as long as we win them," Joe Girardi said. "A homer is a hit too, you know that? Eventually everyone will believe that."

Just as everyone will eventually believe the Yankees can actually win a game without one. That is, if they ever do.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 7, Nationals 2

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
10:07
PM ET
Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: Both the AL East-leading Yankees and the NL East-leading Nationals came in riding six-game winning streaks, but somebody's 0 had to go, and tonight it was the Nats', thanks to some unusually timely hitting by the Yankees and some unusually sloppy play by the Nationals.

That's why they call them the Bronx Bombers: The Yankees were one out away from achieving something they had yet to do this season, win a game without hitting a home run, but they just can't help themselves. With two outs in the top of the ninth, Curtis Granderson relocated a Tom Gorzelanny pitch to the Nationals' bullpen to account for the Yankees' final run.

Grandy's Dandy: Not only did Granderson bust the game open with an opposite-field double that drove in the fifth and sixth Yankees runs, plus hit the home run that kept The Streak alive, he also ran down Adam LaRoche's sixth-inning blast to dead center, hitting the wall just after making the catch.

Throwin' Philth: Phil Hughes was a K machine tonight, equaling his season high in strikeouts -- eight -- in the first 5 2/3 innings and finishing with nine in six innings, in which he allowed just one run and six hits before being lifted for pinch-hitter Robinson Cano. But the biggest out(s) Hughes got came in the third inning, when with the bases loaded and one out, he persuaded Ian Desmond to rap into an inning-ending double play. And Hughes finally got through a game without allowing a homer.

I got off the couch for this? Cano's day off ended when he was called upon to hit for Hughes, but Nats manager Davey Johnson had reliever Brad Lidge walk him to load the bases in front of Derek Jeter, who singled in a run and went to second on a throwing error that resulted in another Yankees run.

First to 40: That would be Nick Swisher, whose third-inning single knocked in Mark Teixeira for his team-leading 40th RBI, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Alex Rodriguez, on first after his own RBI single, tried to go to third on the play and was caught in a rundown for the final out of the inning.

First Lou, now Jimmie: Quite a week for A-Rod, who caught Lou Gehrig on the all-time grand slam list Tuesday in Atlanta, and Jimmie Foxx on the all-time RBI list in the third inning tonight. A-Rod's single scored Jeter and gave him 1,924 career RBIs, good for a share of sixth place on the list. Next up: Stan Musial with 1,951.

The fix was in: Teddy Roosevelt was on the verge of winning the Presidents Race, run every game here between the Mount Rushmore Four, until he was intercepted just before the finish line by someone in a giant lobster outfit. And, of course, George Washington won. Again. Well, it is his town. Might've been different in Oyster Bay. I'll be taking this up with the Chamber of Commerce.

Tomorrow: Friday's birthday boy, Andy Pettitte (3-2, 2.81), makes his first start as a 40-year-old, facing RHP Jordan Zimmerman (3-5, 2.91) in the middle game of the series, first pitch at 1:05 p.m.

Pregame notes: D-Rob, Gino, Swisher

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
6:40
PM ET
WASHINGTON -- David Robertson is officially back in uniform and ready to go tonight, and Joe Girardi said there would be no restrictions on his use as the set-up man for closer Rafael Soriano. But Girardi did indicate there might be some flexibility to the way he uses Robertson now that he's off the DL.

"It'll be Robby and Sori in the eighth and ninth, and I'll use (Boone Logan) in the seventh," Girardi said. "(But) there could come a situation too, if you've got left-right-left in the eighth and you've got three right-handers in the seventh, maybe you flip Robertson and Boonie around a little bit."

• Former Yankees trainer Gene Monahan brought his scissors and adhesive tape out of retirement for the weekend while his successor, Steve Donohue, spends the next couple of days at home at his daughter's graduation.

Nick Swisher spent his day at the International Spy Museum in downtown D.C. and came back with a pretty serious-looking book about the history of the CIA, which he actually said he was going to read.

• Significant matchups vs. Gio Gonzalez tonight: Mark Teixeira (.357, 5-for-14, 1 HR), Jayson Nix (.429, 3-for-7, 1 HR), Alex Rodriguez (.250, 2-for-8), Derek Jeter (.167, 2-for-12) Curtis Granderson (.154, 2-for-13, 4 K's).

Phil Hughes has never started against the Nationals but did appear against them one time in relief. He has faced only one of the hitters in their lineup tonight, Ryan Zimmerman, and struck him out in his only at-bat.

W2W4: Yankees at Nationals (June 15)

June, 15, 2012
6/15/12
2:38
AM ET


Phil Hughes Stats To Watch
Hughes was very good in his last start against the Mets, taking advantage of their hitters' tendency to take pitches. He got a season-high 24 called strikes and was able to get a strike on pitches that were on (or just off) the outside edge.

Hughes' home run streak has continued into the season. The road portion of this is an oddity. He has allowed one home run in each of his six road starts this season.

Nationals Park is on the spacious side. On ESPN.com's Park Factors, it checks in just below average for home-run friendliness, ranking 17th. Hughes has allowed home runs this season in two parks that were more pitcher-friendly -- Angel Stadium and Tropicana Field.

Gio Gonzalez Stats To Watch
Though Gonzalez is having great success this season, he'll have to overcome a lack of success against the Yankees. He's 1-4 with a 7.27 ERA in five career starts against them.

Gonzalez allowed one run and two hits in 6 2/3 innings in his debut against them in 2009, but has allowed at least four runs in each of his four starts versus the Yankees since then. His primary issue has been throwing strikes. He has walked 20 in 26 innings against the Yankees.

He has handled Yankees lefties fairly well. Curtis Granderson is 2-for-13 against him (with a home run), Robinson Cano is 0-for-9 and Raul Ibañez is 0-for-4.

Bryce Harper Stats To Watch
We're guessing you'd name Ken Griffey Jr. as the last teenager to homer against the Yankees, but that would be incorrect.

It was actually Ivan Rodriguez, who was a little less than three months shy of his 20th birthday when he homered against reliever Eric Plunk and the Yankees on Sept. 3, 1991.

Harper, 19, will be a formidable foe for Hughes, though he actually has better numbers against lefties (a Boone Logan or Clay Rapada/Harper matchup late in a game will be fascinating). Overall, he's hitting .303 with a .933 OPS, seven home runs and 19 RBI.

Righties have been able to find holes in Harper's swing down in the strike zone, though that doesn't play to Hughes' primary pitch location. He's 9-for-24 in at-bats versus right-handers that end in the upper-third of the strike zone, but 6-for-43 when the at-bat ends in the lower third. That's partly a product of being susceptible to a good breaking ball.

Streaking
With two straight series sweeps, the Yankees have won six straight interleague games. Another win would give them their second seven-game interleague winning streak in as many years. Their longest interleague winning streak, thanks to Baseball-Reference.com, is a 13-gamer, overlapping the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

First Pitch: National Showdown

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
7:00
AM ET


The Yankees are at their high-water mark of the season: six wins in a row, two consecutive series sweeps, a dozen games over .500 and, for the second day in a row, alone atop the AL East.

They are, without question, the hottest team in the American League. So what better time could there be than to travel to Washington, D.C., and test themselves against the hottest team in the National League?

Well, how about tomorrow?

Fresh off their sweep of the Braves in Atlanta, which came on the heels of their sweep of the Mets at home, the Yankees will start a three-game series against the NL East-leading Nationals -- who, like the Bombers, are coming off consecutive series sweeps, over the Blue Jays and Red Sox. The Nats have won nine of their last 11, have the second-best record in all of baseball (38-23) and a five-game lead over the second-place Braves.

It might be too early to call this one a possible World Series preview. Or it might not. In any case, it should make for a great weekend of baseball, which just one disappointment: The Yankees will not get to face Stephen Strasburg, who pitched Wednesday and will miss the series.

But they will get a look at 19-year-old slugger Bryce Harper and a couple of pitchers they know rather well, Edwin Jackson and Gio Gonzalez, and one they do not, Jordan Zimmerman.

"I'm excited about it," Joe Girardi said. "They're playing great right now and it's a lot of young kids that seem to be aggressive. They've pitched extremely well. I think they're No. 1 in pitching, No. 1 in defense. They're just playing good baseball, so it should be an exciting weekend."

Alex Rodriguez is particularly interested to get a look at Harper, who he said reminds him of himself at the same age.

"I love big talent. I love unique talent," A-Rod said. "I'm just a baseball fan like you guys are. To see a 19-year-old do some of the things that he's doing, it's pretty darn special. I'm excited to see him."

Rodriguez has obviously watched a lot of highlights, because he was able to break down Harper like a scout: "He's got power, he's electric, a very good baserunner. He reminds me a little bit of Larry Walker as a very good baserunner -- fearless. He's the kind of guy I would pay my money to watch play. I'm sure well after I'm done, I'll be paying my money to watch him play and break all the records."

But one guy A-Rod said he will not mind not seeing live is Strasburg. "I said I'd pay to watch these guys play," he said. "I don't need to be that close."

The Yankees have Phil Hughes going Friday night against Gonzalez, Andy Pettitte going Saturday against Zimmerman and Ivan Nova on Sunday against Jackson.

"They're playing extremely well. We're playing well," Girardi said. "We've got a day to rest up and think about it, and then we'll go at it."

Question: Who do you think is the best team in the National League right now, Davey Johnson's Nationals, or Don Mattingly's Dodgers?

Up now: A bunch of blog items on last night's game, including the Home Run Hitter Who Really Isn't, the starting pitcher pitching like his old self, and the young bullpen coming into its own.

On deck: The fabulous Katie Sharp will have another fine Yankeemetrics post later this morning, and the one and only Andrew Marchand will have an off-day story projecting the performances of some key Yankees off what they've done so far this season. I'll be joining you tomorrow night at Nationals Park to take you through the weekend.

Question No. 2: With David Robertson due to be reactivated tomorrow, which of the relief pitchers would you send down? Cody Eppley? Clay Rapada? David Phelps? Freddy Garcia? Let us know below. (My money's on Phelps). As always, thanks for reading.

Yankees acquire Maxwell from Nationals

February, 2, 2011
2/02/11
3:03
PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell from the Washington Nationals for minor league right-hander Adam Olbrychowski.

Maxwell, 27, has a .201 average in three big league seasons with nine homers and 26 RBIs. He batted .144 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 104 at-bats for Washington last year, and hit .287 with six homers and 21 RBIs for Triple-A Syracuse.

Olbrychowski, 25, was 3-2 with a 3.90 ERA in one start and 31 relief appearances last year for Class A Tampa and Double-A Trenton.

New York cleared a roster spot by designating outfielder Jordan Parraz for assignment Wednesday.

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Jacoby Ellsbury
BA HR RBI R
.282 6 42 44
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 17
RBIM. Teixeira 48
RB. Gardner 56
OPSM. Teixeira .805
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135