YANKEES 6, BLUE JAYS 3
With the bases loaded and two out in the eighth inning, the Yankees had Raul Ibanez striding to the plate carrying an 0-for-11 mark this season with the bases loaded. Well, after Monday’s game he is now 1-for-12 with a grand slam home run.
Ibanez’s dramatic blast off Jason Frasor broke a 2-2 tie and gave New York a hard-fought victory over Toronto to win their seventh of their last nine games in front a paid crowd of 42,819 at Yankee Stadium.
David Robertson (1-3) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to pick up his first victory of the season. Rafael Soriano came in the ninth to get the last two outs to notch his 23rd save in 24 chances this season.
With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, Alex Rodriguez stroked a one-out single to left off reliever Aaron Loup (0-1) and advanced to second a passed ball by J.P. Arencibia. Robinson Cano then hit a single up the middle that second baseman Kelly Johnson was able to keep in the infield for a single.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell removed Loup in favor of Frasor, who hit Mark Teixeira in the right foot on a 2-2 pitch to load the bases.
Nick Swisher, who struck out looking with the bases loaded and two out in the first inning, did the same thing in the eighth, leaving it all up to Ibanez.
Frasor got behind in the count 3-1 before serving up a room-service fastball that Ibanez was able to drive deep into the second deck in right-field for his 12th home run of the season. It was also his 10th career grand slam but his first for the Yankees.
The Yankees broke out to an early 2-0 lead on the Jays on the strength of an opposite field solo home run with two out in the second inning by Russell Martin and Rodriguez and Cano hit to back-to-back one out doubles in the third inning off Jays starter Henderson Alvarez.
However, the Jays were able to claw back against Yankees starter Phil Hughes on a two-out solo home run by Adam Lind in the fourth and Edwin Encarnacion blasted a one-out double to the wall to score Jose Bautista from first to tie the game up in the sixth inning.
Hughes gave up two runs on four hits and three walks and struck out four over seven innings.
Alvarez coughed up two runs on five hits and four walks and struck out a career-high six batters in his six innings of work.
With the victory the Yankees improved their major-league-best record to 55-34. They also hold a commanding nine-game lead over the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Blue Jays dropped to 45-45 in last place in the division and trailing the Yankees by 10 1/2 games.
- After slumping through June, when he hit only .162 with two home runs and seven RBIs, Ibanez has started off July going 8-for-25 (.320) with a home run and five RBIs. Ibanez is hitting .242 with 12 home runs and 40 RBIs on the season and he is playing more games in left-field than he was expected to play.
- Cano’s RBI double in the third inning extended his hitting streak to a career-high 19 games. During that span, Cano is 31-for-75 (.413) with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Cano is hitting .321 with 21 home runs and 55 RBIs this season. Cano also made a spectacular play on a hard-hit ball off the bat of Colby Rasmus to lead off the seventh inning. The ball caromed off the glove of Teixeira but Cano was able to grab the carom and throw to Robertson covering first to nip Rasmus.
- Rodriguez popped up to first with the bases loaded and two out in a 10-8 loss to the Angels on Sunday but he was 2-for-4 on Monday and scored two runs. Rodriguez has actually collected hits in seven of the last eight games in which he has started and is 11-for-35 (.314) during that span. He may not be hitting for much power but he has raised his season average to .273.
- Swisher was 1-for-4 and left a total of seven runners on base in the game. After hitting a robust .321 with four home runs and 14 RBIs in June, Swisher is slumping badly in July. He is 7-for-37 (.189) with one home runs and five RBIs. He also has struck 14 times in his 37 at-bats.
- Derek Jeter had an unusual 0-for-4 night and only got one ball out of the infield. Jeter entered the game with a modest four-game hitting streak but he is still hitting .364 in his last 10 games and .340 in July.
- Dewayne Wise was inserted into the game in the ninth for Ibanez in left-field as a defensive replacement. However, Wise kicked away the ball on a bloop single off the bat of Arencibia in the ninth that allowed Johnson to score a run and force Soriano to get the last two outs while those batters represented the potential tying run.
The ongoing Brett Gardner right elbow rehab saga has taken another ugly turn for the worse. Gardner took four at-bats in a simulated game in Tampa, FL, on Sunday and felt soreness in his elbow. Gardner has been on the disabled since April 17 after he injured his right elbow making a diving catch. He has come close to completing two rehab stints before feeling pain in his elbow and having to shut the process down. It is now unclear how long Gardner will be out. . . . Rodriguez was scheduled to play third on Monday but complained a slightly stiff neck and he was shifted to designated hitter. Eric Chavez played third base for the Yankees and was 0-for-3 with a walk. . . . Mariano Rivera said on Monday that it could be possible he may not be out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Rivera told Michael Kay on ESPN Radio that his rehab is going so well that he possibly could return in September.
The Yankees will continue their three-game series with Blue Jays on Tuesday.
CC Sabathia (9-3, 3.45 ERA) will make his first start since he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left groin. As a result, Sabathia was unable to pitch in the 2012 All-Star Game, though he was selected to the team. In his 16 career starts against the Blue Jays, Sabathia is 12-3 with a 3.16 ERA.
Opposing Sabathia will be left-hander Brett Cecil (2-1, 6.75 ERA). Cecil surrendered seven runs in 4 1/3 innings in his last start against the Chicago White Sox. He is 4-3 with a 3.96 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally by MY9.
YANKEES 4, WHITE SOX 2
On a day when the New York Yankees honored its past during its 66th Annual Old-Timers’ Day celebration, 26-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes showed those legends that both the Yankees’ present and future is in good hands.
Hughes recovered from a two-run first inning on Sunday to pitch seven scoreless innings after it, striking out eight and walking just one, as New York earned a split of its four-game series with Chicago with a victory in front of a sellout crowd of 48,324 at Yankee Stadium.
Hughes (9-6) got support for his effort from the red-hot bat of Robinson Cano, who celebrated his selection to start at second base for the American League in the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City, MO, with a tie-breaking two-run home run off loser Gavin Floyd (6-8) with one out in the third inning.
Cano’s 20th home run of the season and his 10th in his last 15 games came on a 3-2 fastball that Cano launched on a line into the bleachers in right-center with Mark Teixeira on first via a walk.
Two innings earlier, Eric Chavez, who was playing third base in place of a resting Alex Rodriguez, blasted a two-run home run of his own, his sixth of the season, following a leadoff single by Raul Ibanez.
Hughes did the rest to earn his seventh win in his last 10 starts with the help of a scoreless inning of relief in the ninth from Rafael Soriano for his 18th save in 19 opportunities.
The White Sox must thought it was their ay when they pushed across two runs against Hughes in the first inning.
Alejandro De Aza started it off with a leadoff double to right. Kevin Youkilis singled to left to score De Aza and he scored from second two outs later on a line-drive single to left by Alex Rios.
But after that frame, Hughes only gave up a back-to-back two-out single and double to Paul Konerko and Rios in the third inning. But he escaped that threat by inducing AJ. Pierzynski into an infield popout.
Hughes also gave up a two-out single to to Pierzynski in the sixth but he fanned Dayan Viciedo on three pitches to end that inning.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were making Floyd throw a lot of pitches. He threw 38 alone in the third inning and he left after giving up four runs on eight hits and five walks and he struck out three in 122 pitches over 5 1/3 innings.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 48-30 and they also stretched their lead over the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East to six games. The White Sox dropped to 42-37.
- Yankee fans are finally seeing the Hughes who was 10-1 before the All-Star break in 2010. In his last 10 starts, Hughes is 7-2 with a 3.27 ERA, a WHIP of 1.17 and 59 strikeouts in 66 innings. The biggest change in Hughes is that he jettisoned his cutter and he now only throws fastballs, curves and change-ups.
- It is hard to figure what was hotter on Sunday, the 95-degree weather in the Bronx, NY, or Robinson Cano’s bat. Cano came up in the first inning with bases loaded and nobody out, but he hit into a double play and the Yankees did not score. But he atoned for it with his two-run blast in the third inning. Cano’s 2-for-4 day raised his season average to .310, the first time he has reached that mark since May 18.
- Chavez is providing quality defense at third and a potent left-handed bat in the lineup when he starts. In his last seven starts for the Yankees, Chavez is 8-for-23 (.348) with two home runs and seven RBIs. Chavez is hitting .275 with six home runs and 15 RBIs on the season.
- Russell Martin was not hitting well before he re-injured his lower back last week. Since he has returned he has fallen off a cliff. He is 0-for-7 after going 0-for-4 on Sunday. His batting average is now back down to .186 and the Yankees are at a loss as to how to get him hitting again.
- Nick Swisher was 1-for-4 but he struck out three times and he swung at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone or he was fooled into swinging over breaking pitches. Swisher is walking considerably less than he has in any previous season (25) and he is striking out at a rate (60) that could eclipse his season high of 152 in 2006 with Oakland.
- The runners in scoring position bugaboo bit the Yankees again on Sunday. They were 1-for-7 and the one was Cano’s home run. The Yankees fortunately lead the majors with 124 home runs but they are hitting in the .220s with runners in scoring position this season.
Cano was among four Yankees selected to the A.L. All-Star team on Sunday. Cano will be joined by shortstop Derek Jeter, outfielder Curtis Granderson and left-hander CC Sabathia. Sabathia, however, will not pitch in the game because he is on the 15-day disabled list with a mild left groin strain. . . . The Yankees announced on Sunday that they have acquired right-handed reliever Chad Qualls from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for a player to be named or cash considerations. Qualls, 33, was 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 appearances for the Phillies. He gave up 39 hits and nine walks and struck 19 batters over 31 1/3 innings. He was designated for assignment by Philadelphia on June 29 and he is expected to available to pitch for the Yankees on Monday in St. Petersburg, FL. . . . Ibanez suffered a laceration on his lip and chipped tooth unsuccessfully trying to avoid a foul ball in the dugout off the bat of Pierzynski in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game. Ibanez was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital after the game and he was expected to be able to join the team for Monday’s game.
The Yankees will open a seven-game road trip against the Rays and Red Sox beginning with Tampa Bay on Monday.
Freddy Garcia (2-2, 6.39 ERA) will get his first start in place of Andy Pettitte in the rotation. Garcia was 0-2 with a 12.51 ERA in his first four starts of the season and was demoted to the bullpen. In the bullpen, he is 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA and he seems to have regained velocity on his fastball. In the last 10 seasons, Garcia is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA against the Rays.
The Rays will counter with rookie left-hander Matt Moore (4-5, 4.19 ERA). Moore gave up four runs on 10 hits and two walks while striking out five in 7 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. Moore is 1-0 with 0.00 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:0 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 7, RAYS 0
Michelangelo is generally considered the greatest artist of all-time and the Sistine Chapel is living testimony to that greatness. But I truly doubt that Michelangelo could have painted the corners of the strike zone any better than Andy Pettitte did on Tuesday night.
Home plate at Yankee Stadium was Pettitte’s canvas as he craftily dotted a corner here and skillfully used some heavy brushstrokes there on the Rays in 7 1/3 innings of two-hit, no-run baseball and he struck out 10 batters as New York ended up hanging a masterpiece on Tampa Bay.
The 39-year-old left-hander was truly the “Grand Master” as he took command of the game from the opening pitch all the way to his strikeout of Luke Scott to open the eighth inning that ended his night. Pettitte (3-2) gave up only two singles and two walks and no base-runner got past second base as he thoroughly dominated the Rays with his arsenal of cutters, curves, sliders and fastballs.
Meanwhile, struggling catcher Russell Martin broke out of a season-long funk to collect three hits, including a one-out, grand-slam homer off Rays starter James Shields (6-4) in the fourth inning that gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
Shields was undone by a combination of sloppy Rays play and Martin’s well-timed home run.
The Yankees scored two unearned runs off Shields in the first inning aided by a wild pitch, a missed double play and a critical two-out error.
With one out Curtis Granderson singled to right and Shields tossed a wild pitch that advanced him to second. He then walked Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano slapped a one-hopper that bounced off Shields’ glove for a double-play ball that became a single.
In keeping with the Yankees’ 2012 tradition of bases-loaded futility, Mark Teixeira struck out looking and Raul Ibanez dribbled a routine ground ball to shortstop Elliot Johnson. However, Johnson short-armed the throw and the ball bounced off first baseman Carlos Pena’s glove and Granderson and Rodriguez scored.
Then in the fourth, Ibanez drew a one-out walk, Nick Swisher singled sharply to right and Eric Chavez was walked on four pitches.
Martin then stepped the plate after having singled in the second inning to bring his batting average to .200 for the first time since May 5. Down 0-2 in the count, Martin actually swung at a high and outside fastball and he drilled it to the opposite field into the right-field bleachers.
The Yankees added a run in the fifth inning on a one-out double off the right-field wall by Swisher to score Cano, who had led off with a double..
Shields, who has lost three of his last four starts and has an ERA of 5.92 in that span, gave up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks and struck out two in just five innings. In his three starts against the Yankees this season, Shields is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA.
However, this chilly evening in the Bronx belonged to Pettitte. He threw 103 pitches and 70 were strikes for a percentage of 68 percent. He has won three of his four starts at Yankee Stadium this season and his effort tonight drew the Yankees to within a half-game of the Rays and Orioles, who are tied for first place in the American League East.
The Yankees boosted their season record to 30-24. The Rays fell to 31-24.
- Pettitte’s 10 strikeouts were the most he has recorded in a game since 2003. But that really does not tell you just how dominant he was on Tuesday. In one stretch he struck out five Rays batters in a row. The only hits he gave up were a leadoff single to B.J. Upton in the fourth inning and a one-out single by Pena in the fifth. Pettitte lowered his ERA to 2.78, which is the best of all the Yankee starters. It was the 243rd victory of his career.
- Martin’s grand slam was his fifth home run of the season and it was his fourth career grand slam. Martin’s 3-for-4 night raised his batting average to .211 on the season. He has gotten at least one hit in six of his last seven games and he is 9-for-23 (.391) during that span. The Yankees hope his season-long slump is finally over.
- Cano was 2-for-3 with a single and a double. He entered the game in a 4-for-26 slump (.154).
I am not going to dwell on any negatives in a night the Yankees needed to win to move up in the division. Pettitte was spectacular and the Yankees have very quietly won nine of their last 12 games. They are only one game off their pace from last season when they won 97 games.
Hideki Matsui returned to Yankee Stadium wearing No. 35 for the Rays on Tuesday and he received a warm reception from the 40,537 fans in attendance when he stepped to the plate in the second inning. However, Matsui was 0-for-4 in the game and he is 1-for-9 in his career against his former teammate Pettitte. . . . Cano was hit by a pitch from Rays reliever Cesar Ramos in the seventh inning and he was removed from the game in the bottom of ninth inning in favor of Jayson Nix. It is unclear if Cano was injured or if he will miss any time as a result. . . . Yankee manager Joe Girardi made it clear that when David Robertson is activated from the disabled list he will be the setup man for Rafael Soriano. Robertson is recovering from a left oblique strain and he hopes to return in about two weeks. . . . Early balloting indicates that shortstop Derek Jeter and outfielder Granderson are leading at their positions for the 2012 All-Star Game. Cano and Teixeira are in second place at their respective positions. The balloting will end at midnight on June 28.
The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Rays on Wednesday.
The Yankees will start right-hander Ivan Nova (6-2, 5.60 ERA). Nova has won his last two starts despite giving up eight runs in 13 2/3 innings (5.27 ERA). The Yankees scored six runs for him in each of those starts. Nova is 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA in his career against the Rays.
The Rays will counter with right-hander Alex Cobb (2-1, 3.71 ERA). Cobb gave up four runs on nine hits and a walk and he hit two batters in five innings against the White Sox in his last start. He has no record with a 1.50 ERA in his one start against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by the YES Network.