Posted on: September 22, 2011 5:51 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2011 6:48 pm
NEW YORK -- Now that the Yankees have won the American League East, do they care who joins them in the playoffs?
Most of them won't say. Russell Martin just did.
"Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome," Martin told reporters Thursday afternoon.
And why is that?
"Because I hate the Red Sox," Martin said.
This could become more than just rhetoric, because the Red Sox come to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series starting Friday night. With both the Angels and Rays beginning play Thursday just 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race, the Yankees could hurt the Red Sox's chances if they can beat them this weekend.
Not surprisingly, the Yankees rested five of their regulars in Thursday night's game against the Rays. Manager Joe Girardi said he plans to rest regulars in the six games that remain, but he also said the Yankees intend to keep playing hard. He said he'll play 6-7 regulars in each game.
"As you will see, I'm not taking my foot off the gas, and I don't expect our guys to, either," Girardi said. "I'm just not going to play guys 12 days in a row."
The Yankees have played every day this week, with a doubleheader Wednesday. They don't have another off day until Thursday, with the playoffs beginning the next day.
Girardi said that CC Sabathia, who wasn't able to get his 20th win Wednesday, almost certainly won't make another regular-season start. Sabathia's day to pitch would be Monday, and that would leave him off schedule to start Game 1 of the playoffs. So Sabathia will probably throw a short simulated game instead.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 12:41 am
Edited on: September 2, 2011 1:09 am
BOSTON -- This was never going to be the defining week for the American League East superpowers.
Short of a major injury, nothing that happened was going to change the course of this season for either the Yankees or the Red Sox, and nothing was going to help much in deciding whether this year goes down as a success or failure.
More than eleven hours of baseball in three days, and they proved nothing?
At least the Yankees can go away thinking they got something out of it. They got a series win over the Red Sox for the first time in five tries this year, they got a CC Sabathia win over Boston for the first time in five tries this year, and they scored some runs off Josh Beckett for the first time in five tries this year.
"I don't know how much it'll help us [down the road]," hitting coach Kevin Long said. "But you put good thoughts in your mind."
The Yankees would like you to think that Thursday's 4-2 win was a major turning point for troubled starter A.J. Burnett, and their comments Thursday night would strongly suggest that Burnett will make the cut (and that Phil Hughes will go to the bullpen) when they cut from six starters to five.
Burnett gave up two runs, got one out in the sixth inning, and left with two runners on base. But manager Joe Girardi used words like "great" and "outstanding" to describe his performance, and catcher Russell Martin insisted that Burnett "just looked like a different person."
Is it possible that Burnett, who in three years as a Yankee has never shown any ability to sustain success, could pitch so well in September that he could become a postseason factor?
Theoretically, he could. But how well would he need to pitch, and how many times, for the Yankees to feel any confidence in using him in a playoff game?
"It's one step," pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. "It's a good one. Give him a lot of credit."
Give the Yankees a little credit. They were the team that had more on the line in this series, and they were the team that got something out of it.
And the Red Sox?
It's not like these three games exposed any great weaknesses. They lost Tuesday because they left 16 runners on base, and they lost Thursday because Alfredo Aceves walked one batter and hit another, and Daniel Bard made a bad pitch to Martin (who turned it into a two-run double).
Even then, they loaded the bases in the ninth inning against Mariano Rivera, who had to throw his best pitch of the night to strike out Adrian Gonzalez to end the game.
"I don't think there's a team better than the other," Martin said. "Each day, it's going to be the team that plays the best in that game."
The Yankees were a small bit better on two days this week, the Red Sox on one.
Does that mean anything? Not really.
By October, this series will be long forgotten.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 8:27 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 10:20 am
NEW YORK -- Never happened.
It's the last thing you expect to hear.
Baseball has been played for more than 100 years. By this time next month, there will have been 200,000 major-league games.
In fact, if you believe the folks at baseball-reference.com (and I see no reason why you shouldn't), the actual number of games through Wednesday will be 199,589.
"Everything's happened," Russell Martin was saying Thursday.
Well, maybe now.
I have to admit, I never would have thought three grand slams in a game was a record. I guess I would have guessed that it tied a record, since it's hard to imagine a team hitting four.
But three? Yeah, that had to have happened, once in those 199,580 games.
Turns out it hadn't.
"Pretty amazing," Martin said. "This game has been played for a long time. Pretty much everything has happened."
It was easier to believe that no Yankee had 3,000 hits, until Derek Jeter did it earlier this year, than it was to believe that no big-league team had hit three grand slams, before the Yankees did it Thursday against the A's.
Robinson Cano hit one. Martin hit one the very next inning. And then Curtis Granderson hit one.
And when he did, the crowd went nuts . . . but not because anyone knew it was a record.
It wasn't until a few minutes later, when Granderson was already back in the dugout and the news appeared on the scoreboard, that the Yankees knew what they had just done.
"I was like, 'Oh, wow,'" Granderson said. "I was surprised it hadn't been done before."
It does seem crazy, but maybe it's not.
After all, the Yankees had only had three games in all their history in which they'd hit even two grand slams. They hadn't done it at all in 12 years, hadn't done it in this country in 75 years, hadn't ever done it at home.
Some teams go all season and don't hit even one grand slam.
Yes, Fernando Tatis once hit two in one inning, but some players go careers without hitting a grand slam.
Still, if I'd asked you Thursday morning whether any team had hit three grand slams -- in any of those nearly 200,000 games -- you'd have said yes. If you'd asked me, I'd have said yes.
"It's a pretty crazy accomplishment, if you think about it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
I'm trying to think about it, trying to think about how memorable it makes an otherwise forgettable 22-9 Yankee win over the A's.
But I keep going back to those two words at the top.
"Definitely cool," Martin said.
He's right. It's pretty amazing . . . and definitely cool.
Posted on: August 25, 2011 6:54 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 7:06 pm
The Yankees became the first team in major-league history to hit three grand slams in one game, when Robinson Cano, Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson all hit slams Thursday afternoon against the A's.
Cano's slam, off A's starter Rich Harden, came in the fifth inning, when the Yankees trailed the A's, 7-2. Martin's slam, an inning later off reliever Fautino De Los Santos, gave the Yankees a 10-6 lead. Granderson's slam, off Bruce Billings, made it 21-8 in the eighth.
It had been 12 years since the Yankees last hit even two grand slams in the same game, and 75 years since they did it a game at home.
Posted on: June 8, 2011 5:20 pm
Edited on: June 8, 2011 5:55 pm
NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira did it.
He made it back into the Yankee lineup Wednesday, a day after taking a 90-mph Jon Lester cutter to his right knee and going down in so much pain that most watching feared he had broken his kneecap.
"It feels really good," Teixeira said, before adding more realistically, "The pain is still there, but it's tolerable."
Teixeira played Wednesday, but Russell Martin didn't. Yankee manager Joe Girardi said that Martin's back locked up after Tuesday's game.
The Yankees were also without Joba Chamberlain, who went on the disabled list with a flexor tendon strain.
And the Red Sox were without Jed Lowrie, who had an MRI on his sore shoulder/back, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who was sick. Saltalamacchia's absence forced the Red Sox to use Jason Varitek to catch Tim Wakefield, which he almost never does, and it also forced the Sox to make a roster move to add a catcher. Bobby Jenks, who left Tuesday's game when his back tightened up, went on the disabled list, and Luis Exposito was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket.
And meanwhile, Mark Teixeira was back in the Yankee lineup.
Posted on: June 13, 2008 9:21 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2008 9:23 pm
Everyone in baseball talks about the game's catching shortage. Teams are always looking for players who might be converted to catcher. So why would the Dodgers think about moving Russell Martin to another spot?
The answer is they're not -- not yet. But Dodger people will tell you that it's entirely possible that Martin could become their second baseman or third baseman in two or three years, particularly if catching prospect Lucas May (now at Double-A Jacksonville) develops into a big-league player.
Martin is so good behind the plate that he won the National League's gold glove in 2007 (and the silver slugger, too). But he was a third baseman in junior college, and when he was growing up in Montreal, he was a shortstop.
"You've got to realize, I idolized Ozzie Smith," Martin said. "If I saw something he did, I'd go out the next day and try to do it myself. I had to learn to love to catch. I enjoy everything about it now, but I still miss the infield."
Martin has started four games at third base this year, as Joe Torre has tried to get his bat in the lineup on days when he doesn't catch. Torre said he thinks Martin is quick enough (and hits enough) to play in the middle of the infield.
Martin says he'll do whatever the organization asks. But when I asked him what he'd say if they suggested a permanent move to the infield, his eyes lit up.
"I'd change in a heartbeat," he said. "I'd jump at it, for sure."
The Indians have known for a while that Victor Martinez was playing with a bad elbow, which is why they weren't alarmed by his complete loss of power (no home runs in 198 at-bats). But when Martinez joined Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona on Cleveland's disabled list this week, it almost ensured that C.C. Sabathia will be traded next month.
Rogers has a 1.24 ERA in his last four starts, and he would be one of the most marketable Tigers. He's also on record as saying he wants to end his career as a Tiger, a sentiment he repeated today.
"I don't want to pitch anywhere but here," Rogers said.
Rogers has partial no-trade protection in his contract, but as a 43-year-old who strongly considered retirement last fall, he has the ultimate no-trade clause: he could tell teams he would retire rather than accept a deal.
"I don't envision it being a possibility, because I expect we're going to be in this (race) for the long haul," Rogers said.