YANKEES 6, ANGELS 2
Since 2000 there is only one team in baseball that has a winning record against the New York Yankees and it is the Los Angeles Angels led by manager Mike Sciosia. But after what happened to the Angels this weekend, that record will not stand too much longer.
Brett Gardner, Chris Young and Jose Pirela each hit home runs and left-hander CC Sabathia threw six solid innings on Sunday as New York completed its first sweep of Los Angeles in the new Yankee Stadium in front of a paid crowd of 43,178.
The victory allowed the Yankees to extend their winning streak to six games.
Sabathia (3-7) entered the game with a 5.45 ERA and in the first inning he allowed consecutive solo home runs to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. For Pujols it was the 535th of his career and it allowed him to pass Jimmie Foxx for 17th place on the all-time home run list.
However, Sabathia recovered to retire 17 of the next 20 batters he faced until he was ejected from the game in the sixth by home-plate umpire Dan Bellino for arguing balls and strikes. Bellino subsequently also ejected Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
But relievers Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined to pitch three scoreless and hitless innings while striking out five batters to nail down the victory for Sabathia.
Trailing 2-0, the Yankees scored a run off left-hander C.J. Wilson (3-5) in the third inning after Pirela led off with a double, advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a groundout by Didi Gregorius.
The Yankees tied it and later took the lead off Wilson in the fifth when Young led off with his seventh home run of the season and his first since May 2. In fact, Young entered the game mired in a 5-for-46 (.109) slide that dropped his season average from .306 to .220.
One out later, John Ryan Murphy reached on an opposite-field bloop single and Gregorius followed a lined single to right. Gardner then put the Yankees ahead to stay with a long blast to right on a 2-0 fastball. It was Gardner’s fifth home run of the season.
Pirela led off the seventh inning with a deep drive into the left-field bleachers for his first major-league home run and it extended the Yankees’ lead against Wilson and the Angels to 6-2.
Wilson was charged with six runs on seven hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings. Wilson entered the contest with a 2.44 ERA in 44 1/3 prior innings at the ballpark.
Sabathia, 34, ended his day giving up two runs on five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings.
However, it was his sixth strikeout in the fifth inning that allowed the veteran left-hander to reach a rare milestone. When he struck out Johnny Giavotella looking for the second out of the fifth, Sabathia became the 31st pitcher in Major League Baseball history to reach 2,500 strikeouts. Sabathia, already baseball’s active leader in strikeouts, also became only the ninth left-hander to reach the mark.
With one out and one on in the sixth inning, Sabathia threw a 1-1 slider to Kole Calhoun that Bellino called a ball. Television replays clearly showed that the ball was over the plate and crossed above Calhoun’s right knee.
On the next pitch, Calhoun rapped into an inning-ending double play. As Sabathia left the mound he asked Bellino where the previous pitch was. Bellino said down and, when Sabathia countered by saying the pitch was not down, Bellino ejected him. Girardi hopped over the dugout railing to get between Bellino and Sabathia to pick up the argument and he also was ejected.
It was Sabathia’s first ejection since 2006 and the first of the season for Girardi.
With their victory, the Yankees are now 32-25 and they maintained their 1 1/2-game lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Angels have now dropped five straight games and they are 28-29.
- You have to give Sabathia credit for keeping his composure after allowing two first-inning home runs. It was his first victory since May 16 against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium and his first at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 20, 2013. There is no doubt that Sabathia is no longer the ace that he was. But he proved on Sunday that he can provide the Yankees with quality starts.
- Gardner’s three-run blast was his first home run since he launched another three-run blast on May 25 against right-hander Jeremy Guthrie to cap an eight-run first inning against the Royals at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won that game 14-1. Gardner was a pain in the Angels’ backsides the entire series. He had hits in each game and was 5-for-13 (.385) with a walk, a triple, a homer and five RBIs. Gardner had been slumping ever since taking over for the injured Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff spot on May 20.
- Pirela, 25, has always been considered the best pure hitter among all the team’s prospects. That is why it was odd after he batted .305 in 2014 in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and he hit well in spring training that he only was hitting .200 on May 25. Since then, Pirela is 5-for-11 (.455) and has raised his season average to .268. Pirela was 2-for-3 with a double, a homer, two runs scored and an RBI. He still is very weak defensively, but with Stephen Drew batting .168 he deserves to start against left-handers as he did on Sunday.
Former Gold Glove winner Chase Headley committed his 13th error of the season in the third inning. However, it was later erased by a boneheaded attempt to move up to second base by Trout on a fly ball to right by David Freese. Beltran caught the fly and threw out Trout at second before Erick Aybar could cross home plate, which means his run did not count. So the way I look at it there is nothing to really complain about because the Angels were outsmarted and outscored in the series 22-11. (Right-hander Esmil Rogers handed them five of those runs on a platter in Friday’s nail-bitter.)
Fresh off their two consecutive series sweeps of the Seattle Mariners and the Angels, the Yankees will take Monday off before opening a two-game home series with the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (3-1, 2.76 ERA) will make his second start after being activated from the disabled list. Tanaka was brilliant in limiting the Mariners to one run on three hits with no walks and six strikeouts in seven sharp innings of a 3-1 victory on Wednesday.
The Nationals will counter with right-hander Max Scherzer (6-4, 1.85 ERA). Scherzer is coming offa loss to the Toronto Blue Jays last Tuesday in which he was touched for four runs on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in six innings.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 8, ANGELS 2
There a various scouting reports about certain pitchers that say, “You had better get to him early.” The 2015 version of the New York Yankees obviously are taking those assessments seriously because they did it again at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.
Brian McCann slugged a two-run home run and Brett Gardner laced a two-run single as New York scored six runs in the first inning to dump Los Angeles to win their fifth straight game.
The Yankees sent 11 men to the plate and knocked out right-hander Garrett Richards (5-4) after only two-thirds of inning.
McCann’s home run was his ninth of the season. Chase Headley also scored on a wild pitch by Richards and Mark Teixeira lofted a sacrifice fly as Richards was charged with six runs on five hits and two walks.
Right-hander Adam Warren (4-4) was the beneficiary of those runs. He started off pitching three perfect innings and ended up throwing 6 2/3 innings of two-run baseball. He gave up only four hits, walked three and struck out two to even his season record.
In his past five starts, Warren is 2-3 but he has yielded only 10 runs on 23 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings for a 2.70 ERA.
The Yankees added a single run in the second inning after Teixeira and McCann stroked one-out singles off Cesar Ramos. Carlos Beltran slapped a bloop single to right to greet left-hander Hector Santiago to score Teixeira.
They added a run in the eighth inning off right-hander Cam Bedrosian after they loaded the bases with one out and Bedrosian walked Teixeira. It was Teixeira’s second RBI of the game and the 45th of the season, which leads the American League.
The Angels scored a run in the fifth off Warren as Matt Joyce doubled and C.J. Cron was hit by a 0-2 pitch. After Carlos Perez advanced Joyce to third on a flyout, Johnny Giavotella lofted a fly ball that left-fielder Ramon Flores caught at the base of the wall for a sacrifice fly that scored Joyce.
Millville, New Jersey native Mike Trout added the Angels’ second run leading off the sixth inning with an opposite field blast to right off Warren for his 15th home run of the season.
Left-hander Justin Wilson pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the Yankees but the toast of the paid crowd of 40,086 was left-hander Chris Capuano, who pitched a perfect ninth inning and struck out two.
On Friday evening, the Yankees led the Angels 8-1 in the ninth and right-hander Esmil Rogers and right-hander Dellin Betances combined to give up six earned runs before they could get the final three outs to win the game 8-7.
Capuano had other ideas and the Yankees were able to nail down the victory in front of a national television audience without any ninth-inning drama.
The Yankees ran their season record to 31-25 and they Yankees increased their lead over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East to 1 1/2 games. The Angels fell to 28-28.
- McCann, 31, had a stretch in which he hit four home runs in four consecutive games from May 25 through May 29. But McCann was 2-for-14 (.143) with no homers since then. His 2-for-5 game raised his batting average to .255 and he now has nine home runs and 35 RBIs. McCann has hit 26 of his 32 home runs with the Yankees at home.
- Teixeira’s two RBIs extended his RBI streak to five straight games of at least one RBI. His one-out single in the second inning extended his hitting streak to seven games. During that stretch Teixeira is 7-for-27 (.260) with three homers and 10 RBIs.
- Warren finally got some run support after losing to the Oakland Athletics 2-0 in his last start. Warren has been the team’s most consistent pitcher behind right-hander Michael Pineda over the past month and any thoughts the Yankees might have had to moving him to the bullpen are currently on hold.
The offense chased Richards in the first inning and Warren pitched his fifth consecutive quality start. The defense also was superb with Didi Gregorius turning in a gem taking away a ground-ball hit from Albert Pujols with a diving grab in the first inning. Headley made a diving stop of a liner off the bat of Trout in the fourth and Flores held Giavotella to just a sac fly in the fifth with a great grab at the wall in left. So the Yankees turned in a complete spanking of the Angels. No negatives here.
The Yankees will have a chance on Sunday to sweep the three-game weekend series against the Angels.
Left-hander CC Sabathia (2-7, 5.45 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia, 34, gave up two runs on nine hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday. He has not won a game at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 20, 2013, a span of six starts.
Veteran left-hander C.J. Wilson (3-4, 3.55 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Wilson, 34, yielded five runs in six innings in loss to the Rays on Tuesday and he has 5.48 ERA in his past four starts.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 8, ANGELS 7
It is always considered a moral strength for those who have so much to do charitable acts of kindness for those who have so little. But some of the New York Yankees pitchers on Friday took that sentiment too seriously.
The Yankees scored eight runs for Nathan Eovaldi while right-handers Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances gave most of them back but New York managed to hold on to beat Los Angeles by a single run in front of 40,310 paid at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees took an early and decisive lead on right-hander Jered Weaver and the Angels on a pair of two-out, two-run homers by Stephen Drew and Mark Teixeira in the second and third innings, respectively.
They added another run off Weaver (4-5) in the fifth – again with two out – on an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez that scored Brett Gardner, who had tripled earlier in the frame. It was Rodriguez’ 1,997 career RBI, which allowed him to pass Barry Bonds for second place on the all-time RBI list.
The Yankees added a pair of runs in the fifth to chase Weaver from the game.
Brian McCann led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout. He then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat Didi Gregorius. Drew followed with solo home run, his second of the game and his seventh of the season.
Weaver, 32, left he game and was charged with a season-high seven runs on nine hits and no walks with two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.
Eovaldi (5-1), meanwhile, was cruising through the first five innings, holding the Angels scoreless on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts until he completely lost command of the strike zone in the sixth inning.
He walked three of the first four batters he faced, throwing five strikes and 12 balls, which ended his evening.
Left-hander Chasen Shreve came on and allowed an RBI infield groundout to Kirk Nieuwenhuis before ending the threat by striking out Erick Aybar.
Shreve and rookie left-hander Jacob Lindgren pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively, while the Yankees added a run in the seventh off left-hander Edgar Ibarra on a double by Rodriguez, his third hit of what was a four-hit night, and an RBI single by pinch-hitter Chris Young.
Then the real drama began when Rogers was summoned by manager Joe Girardi to get the final three outs after Angels manager Mike Scioscia had removed Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Aybar from the lineup.
Johnny Giavotella opened the “House of Horrors” inning with a single and Tyler Featherston, who had just entered the game for Aybar and was 1-for-29 on the season, doubled to left.
Grant Green, who had replaced Trout in the batting order, then hit a pop-up between newly inserted second baseman Jose Pirela and Chase Headlley, who had been shifted from third base to first base.
Neither player made the catch and the ball just landed harmlessly between them to score Giavotella.
Rogers then uncorked a wild pitch to allow both Featherston and Green advance and later walked Efren Navarro, who had replaced Pujols, to load the bases. Kole Calhoun then lined a single up the middle to score Featherston.
Girardi replaced Rogers with Betances, who entered the game with 0.00 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings.
David Freese greeted the right-hander with a two-run single to center. Matt Joyce walked to reload the bases and Chris Iannetta drew a bases loaded walk to bring the Angels to within two runs at 8-6.
After Betances was able to strike out Niewenhuis for the first out, Giavotella rolled into a fielder’s choice to short that allowed Joyce to score to narrow the margin to a single run.
Beatances then righted the ship just in time to fan pinch-hitter Carlos Perez with the potential tying run on third to gain credit for his second save of the season, though he would likely tell you that he did not deserve it.
Rogers was charged five runs on four hits and a walk facing five batters and he did not record a single out.
Betances ended up giving up his first earned run of the season on the Giavotella fielder’s choice.
Girardi appeared to lose some more of what little hair he had and the hair he did have grew visibly grayer in the ninth. But, in the end, the Yankees were able to send the Angels to their third consecutive defeat while the Yankees won their fourth straight game.
The Yankees lead the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by a half game in the American League East and have a 30-25 season record. The Angels dropped to 28-27.
- Drew entered the game with the lowest batting average of any qualifying player in Major League Baseball at .165 and yet he was 3-for-11 in the three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. His 2-for-4 night with two homers and three RBIs give him a .173 average with seven homers and 19 RBIs. Drew is just very lucky that Pirela is batting a weak .237 and top prospect Rob Refsnyder is scuffling on defense at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees dropped second baseman Brian Roberts on July 28, 2014 after he hit just .237.
- Texeira is on a real roll during the Yankees’ four-game winning streak. In those games, Teixiera is only 4-for-16 (.250) but he has three homers and eight RBIs. Teixiera is now batting .240 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs. The 17 homers are second in the majors to Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners, who has 18. The 43 RBIs lead the American League.
- Rodriguez’s 4-for-5 night raised his batting average from .270 to .284. He now only needs nine more hits to reach the 3,000 hit mark of his career. On May 5, Rodriguez was batting .227. Since then he is 32-for-95 (.337) with five homers and 12 RBIs.
- Eovaldi, 25, was largely very good on Friday. His split-finger fastball was a devastating pitch for him and kept the Angels off balance. However, he had a 5-0 lead heading into the sixth inning and imploded. He has pitched into the seventh inning in only four of his 11 starts and he is going to have to do better than he did against the Angels. He is 5-1 but it has more to do with his run support than his pitching.
- Rogers, 29, actually has been worse as a right-hander out the bullpen than David Carpenter, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday. With his dreadful showing on Friday, he is 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA in 31 innings over 17 games. With Carpenter gone, the Yankees have only two right-handers in the bullpen (Rogers and Betances). It appears that with starter Ivan Nova on the way back that right-hander Adam Warren is headed back to the bullpen real soon. It also may be a good idea for Rogers to keep his bags packed.
- Betances was bad but I actually fault more both Headley and Pirela for allowing that pop-up to drop. That also is a product of Girardi shifting players out of position. It also is not wise to rest a Gold Glove first baseman (Teixeira) when your second baseman (Pirela) is wearing a glove for no particular reason. Still, Headley needed to take charge to call that ball and he did not. It is just a microcosm of the mental and physical errors this team has made on defense. It just has to stop.
McCann was able to start on Friday because both an MRI and CT scan done on his sore right foot on Thursday were negative. McCann said that the soreness in his foot ran up to his calf and forced him to leave Wednesday’s game in the second inning. However, the 31-year-old catcher said he was fitted we new orthodics for his right arch and he was able to play on Friday. He was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and he scored a run. . . . The Yankees said on Friday that Michael Pineda’s turn in the rotation will be skipped, citing they want to cut the right-hander’s workload after he pitched just 76 1/3 innings last season. Pineda, 26, will not pitch again until June 12 against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Pineda is 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA this season. Girardi told reporters that Pineda was injured and that it only was a concern about the 70 1/3 innings he already has logged.
The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Angels on Saturday.
Warren (3-4, 3.75 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Despite the fact that Warren held the Oakland Athletics to just two runs in seven innings on Sunday, he lost because the Yankees did not score him any runs. Warren is 1-3 in his past four starts despite posting a 2.70 ERA in that span.
The Angels will counter with hard-throwing right-hander Garrett Richards (5-3, 3.26 ERA). Richards is 2-1 despite yielding 13 runs (11 earned) in his past 18 1/3 innings over his past three starts.
Game-time will be 7:15 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by FOX Sports.
With the opening of the New York Yankees spring training camp in Tampa, FL, we will now look at each position on the team to assess their chances in 2015. After a disappointing 2014 season with a roster riddled with significant injuries the Yankees have reshuffled the deck with a lot of fresh faces to join some old ones. Let’s look at them.
Mark Teixeira, 34 (.216,22 HRs, 62 RBIs, 123 games)
There was a time not long ago that Teixeira was considered to be among the best players at his position and he was a feared hitter in the middle of Yankees’ lineup.
But the past three seasons Teixeira has had to deal with a series of injuries that have rendered him ineffective when he did play and unavailable to play for long stretches. He has played in only 138 games in the past two seasons largely because of a wrist injury he suffered in March 2013.
Teixeira was taking batting practice before an exhibition game for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic when he tore the sheath in his right wrist. Rather than surgery on the wrist, Teixeira elected to rehab it and come back to play for the Yankees in May of 2013.
However, after 15 excruciatingly painful games Teixeira had to admit he needed surgery and 2o13 ended up being a lost season after he hit just .151 with three homers and 12 RBIs.
So Teixiera entered 2014 hopeful that after the surgery in July and a chance to heal slowly that he would be back to averaging the 37 homers and 114 RBIs he put up for the Yankees from 2009 to 2012.
After a cautious spring things looked good when Teixiera displayed his old power and he was producing offense for a very weak Yankees’ lineup. There also were some hints along the way that things were still not right with the wrist.
Early in the season he suffered a calf strain that shelved him for two weeks and then there were short stretches where Teixeira had to admit to manager Joe Girardi that he could not play because wrist was sore.
Many MRIs and cortisone shots followed and Teixeira learned from doctors that the wrist surgery was successful and the soreness was normal. But it pained Teixiera that he could not suit up and play. Even more, he also could not produce the power and runs the team needed when it so badly needed it.
Teixeira was not able to generate much for the Yankees in the second half, hitting only five homers after the All-Star break. He also struggled from the right side of the plate, where he managed just four of his 22 home runs.
There also were signs of fatigue from not being able to work out over the winter as he would have liked because of the surgery. He also suffered through a ribcage injury, a left lat strain and an injury to his left pinkie finger.
The problem for Girardi and the Yankees was exacerbated by the fact that the Yankees had precious little power at all and there was no one on the roster who specifically was designated to play first base behind Teixiera in 2014.
As a result, the Yankees were forced to use eight other players when Teixeira was sidelined: Kelly Johnson (23 starts), Brian McCann (11), Chase Headley (6), Francisco Cervelli (5), Scott Sizemore (1) and Carlos Beltran, Brendan Ryan and Austin Romine were moved there during games.
None of these players had any significant experience at the position and it showed.
Teixeira has always been considered among the best fielding first basemen in baseball. He has five Gold Gloves to his credit, including three of them won with the Yankees. But even that skill left Teixeira to some degree last season.
After averaging 4.3 errors a season over 10 seasons in the major leagues, Teixiera committed six in just 116 starts in 2014.
The Yankees do have to be asking themselves if Teixeira is in a permanent decline due to advancing age or can he somehow regain his health enough to produce the 39 homers and 111 RBIs he produced in 156 games in 2011.
The other problem Teixeira has had to face is his sinking batting averages.
From his second season with the Texas Rangers in 2004 through his first season with the Yankees in 2009, Teixiera never hit below .281 while hitting all those home runs and driving in all those runs.
But since 2010 Teixeira has never batted above .256. Teixeira even understood this and tried to correct it in 2012. But he gave up when he realized that he was signed in 2009 by the Yankees to a eight-year, $180 million contract to hit a lot of home runs and drive in a lot of runs no matter where his batting average landed.
So Teixeira continues to take a pull-happy approach and utilize an uppercut swing designed to elevate the ball over the short porch in right-field. That is why he receives a pretty steady diet of breaking pitches and a lot of pitches on the outside corner that are harder for him to pull. Hence, the lower batting averages.
At this point, the Yankees open camp hoping that Teixeira is healthy and the wrist is no longer an issue. After all, both David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays were able to put up great numbers in their second season after similar wrist surgeries. The same should hold for Teixeira.
The Yankees, however, do have a fallback position for Teixeira in 2015 to make up for the grievously stupid mistake they made of not having an experienced backup in 2014.
The Yankees were able to acquire veteran first baseman and outfielder Garrett Jones from the Miami Marlins in December as part of a five-player deal where the Yankees shipped infielder Martin Prado in exchange for right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.
Jones, 33, is a left-handed hitter with power who hit 15 homers and drove in 53 runs in 146 games with the Marlins last season, primarily as their starting first baseman (122 starts).
Much like Teixeira, Jones is not looking to win a batting title. He has averaged .253 in his seven major-league seasons. But he also has hit 117 home runs in that span, including a career-high of 27 for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012.
So Jones gives Girardi and the Yankees some flexibility if Teixeira can’t answer the bell for a game or two this season or is simply in need of a day off. Jones’ power also means the Yankees won’t suffer as much of a dropoff without Tex.
It is first time the Yankees have had a creditable backup for Teixeira since the Yankees had outfielder Nick Swisher, who the Yankees allowed to walk as free agent after the 2012 season.
The Yankees attempted to trade for Jones in the past when he was with the Pirates but were not successful. The reason general manager Brian Cashman wanted Jones so badly is because he has a swing tailor-made for Yankee Stadium’s shorter dimensions in right field.
“Obviously, his left-handed bat is made for our ballpark,” Cashman told reporters. “You saw us go through a season last year where we didn’t have a legitimate backup first baseman. Now we do.”
Jones came to the major leagues as an outfielder and he is not considered a skilled fielder at first base. He committed 13 errors there last season. But even with the defensive shortcomings it is good to know he can play the position for significant stretches if he is needed.
Jones’ versatility also makes him a potential backup in right field for Beltran, who also went through a injury-plagued 2014 season that was derailed by a bone spur in his right elbow. Jones has started as many as 78 games in a season in the outfield in his career and Girardi would be comfortable playing him there if he is needed.
In addition, Jones is the odds-on favorite to be the team’s primary designated hitter this season. Because of Jones’ defensive shortcomings he is a natural DH because the Yankees would love to have his power bat available on a team that desperately needs it in 2015.
Behind Jones the Yankees may be doing some experimentation this spring with third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
The 39-year-old veteran might see some work at the position this spring since Headley is projected to start the season as the team’s third baseman. Though Rodriguez did move from shortstop to third base when the Yankees signed him as a free agent in 2004, he has never played a single game at first base in his career.
So it remains to be seen how A-Rod will fare at first base. But his former Rangers teammate Teixeira made the switch in 2003 and became proficient. The jury is out on Rodriguez being able to make the same switch at this advanced stage of his career.
And even should he be successful in making the switch, he will not be playing the position much with Teixeira and Jones ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Yankees also were very pleased with what they saw of McCann in the 11 games he started at first base in 2014. McCann, 31, showed good reflexes and some defensive skill at the position.
However, he would just be an emergency candidate in 2015, although we could see the Yankees eventually shift McCann to the position when Teixeira’s contract expires after the 2016 season.
The Yankees also have a potential replacement for Teixeira in their minor-league system named Greg Bird.
The 22-year-old former high school catcher for Baltimore Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman in Aurora, CO, has flourished as a hitter ever since he was moved to first base.
Bird, who bats left-handed, hit a combined .271 with 14 home runs and 43 RBIs in 102 games between Class-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season.
Bird takes a very patient approach to the plate and he led the minor leagues with 103 walks in 2013. The Yankees believe he has the ability to hit for both power and average at the major-league level.
Bird was the sensation of Arizona Fall League in 2014. He was named the AFL Most Valuable Player representing Scottsdale this winter. The Yankees have issued him a non-roster invite to spring training.
Realistically, Bird has no shot of making the team. But he will get his first chance to see how he measures up against some of the best in the game. He is ticketed for Double-A with a promotion to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season possible.
In any event, Bird gives the Yankees a solid young player who could be a productive first baseman at the major-league level.
Kyle Roller, 26, hit .300 with 26 home runs and 74 RBIs in 125 games between Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2014. His 26 home runs actually was the not only the best minor-league total, it was also the best in the entire organization.
Unlike Bird, Roller takes more of an all-or-nothing approach to the plate as his 289 strikeouts in his past two minor-league seasons would attest. Though Roller does have very good power from the left side, his path to the majors is blocked.
He also is a non-roster invitee to spring training. He likely will end up at Scranton for another season but could see a temporary call-up should the Yankees need a backup first baseman.
OVERALL POSITION ANALYSIS: GOOD
Because of Teixeira’s declining batting average and injury problems, he is no longer considered among the elite first basemen. Having said that the Yankees still do need a healthy Teixeira in 2015.
They need the more than 30 home runs and 100 RBIs he produced from 2004 to 2011. Only one other first baseman did that for a longer period of time and that was Albert Pujols.
If you throw in Teixiera’s sparkling defense and his ability to save his fellow infielders errors, you have the makings of a quality first baseman. However, Father Time seems to have caught up with Tex.
He begins the spring with a lot to prove this season. The Yankees hope he is up to the challenge. They see him as a player who will fill either the fourth or fifth spot in the batting order so they do have a lot riding on his health.
Having a quality backup like Jones available makes the Yankees feel a whole lot better have the parade of players they out there in 2014. Though his defense is nowhere near that of Teixeira’s, Jones gives the Yankees a productive power bat to deploy at first should Teixeira for some reason be unable to play.
Bird appears to be a potential star in the making if he continues to develop as he has in the minors. It gives the Yankees some hope when the Teixeira era at first base finally ends.
NEXT: SECOND BASE
YANKEES 9, ANGELS 2
San Diego native Vidal Nuno invited 50 family members and friends to come to see him pitch against the Angels on Wednesday night. What they got to see was the 26-year-old left-hander pitch one of his best major-league games.
Nuno (1-0) pitched into the seventh inning and yielded just one run-on four hits and one walk and the Yankees took advantage of two errors to score five runs in the first inning as New York beat Los Angeles in a series in Anaheim, CA, for the first time since 2004.
Nuno, 26, entered the game with no record and 4.50 ERA in his three previous starts. But he held the Angels high-scoring offense to only one run that scored in the third inning after back-to-back singles by Howie Kendrick and C.J. Cron and a RBI fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Erick Aybar.
The Yankees, meanwhile, got an early break off left-hander Hector Santiago (0-6) after Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a single when right-fielder Collin Cowgill ran into center-fielder Mike Trout just as he was about to catch a routine fly ball off the bat of Derek Jeter for an error on Cowgill that left Ellsbury at third and Jeter at first.
Santiago then walked Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira made the Angels pay for the error by delivering a two-run double down the left-field line.
One out later, Yangervis Solarte lofted a sacrifice fly to score Beltran and Brett Gardner followed with an infield single in which Santiago hit Gardner with the ball and it rolled down the right-field line to allow Teixeira to score.
Jeter, who was honored before the game and presented with pinstriped paddle board by the Angels, commemorated his final regular-season game at Angel Stadium with his first home run of the season with two out in the second inning to make it 6-0. Many of the announced crowd of 44,083 gave the Yankee captain a standing ovation as he crossed the plate.
The Yankees chased Santiago in the third inning and he was charged with six runs (only two of them earned) on five hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. In his two starts against the Yankees this season Santiago was 0-2 with a 8.10 ERA.
In contrast, Nuno ended up giving up a two-out single to Grant Green in the third inning that advanced Aybar to third and he walked John McDonald to load the bases. But he escaped the bases-loaded jam by retiring Cowgill on a foul popup to Teixeira.
He then retired 12 consecutive batters over the next four innings until Cron led off the seventh inning with a double. After retiring Aybar on a flyout to deep left, he was removed in favor of right-hander Dellin Betances, who gave up a RBI single to Cron in the eighth inning.
But, by that time, the Yankees had padded their lead to 9-1 by scoring three runs off left-hander Nick Maronde and right-hander Cory Rasmus, keyed by a two-run double by John Ryan Murphy and a sacrifice fly by Beltran.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 18-15 and they remain tied with the Baltimore Orioles in first place in the American League East. The Angels dropped to 16-17.
- After Alfredo Aceves pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of CC Sabathia on Sunday it was generally assumed that if Nuno did not pitch well in his outing on Wednesday that Aceves could take the No. 5 spot in the rotation. For now, it appears that Nuno will remain in the rotation because he is 1-0 with a 3.54 ERA. Aceves might be better served by replacing Sabathia and his 5.75 ERA but that is never going to happen.
- Jeter entered the game with a .332 career average at Angel Stadium, the third highest among players with 500 or more at-bats. With his 2-for-5 night Jeter ended the three-game series 5-for-11 (.455), which has raised his season average to .262.
- The decision to call up Murphy to replace the injured Francisco Cervelli was a stroke of genius. The 22-year-old former second-round draft pick is hitting .348 with a home run and five RBIs. In addition, his home run and five RBIs have all come against the Angels. Murphy homered and drove in three runs in a game against the Angels at Yankee Stadium on April 26.
- The Yankees collected 12 hits on Wednesday and the only starter who did not produce one was designated hitter Alfonso Soriano, who ended up 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Soriano has always been a very streaky hitter but he looks terrible at the plate lately. In his past five games he is 2-for-18 (.111). Perhaps he needs a day or two off.
- Even in a victory the Yankees can manage to screw up a bases-loaded, no-out situation. In the fourth inning Murphy singled, Ellsbury doubled and Jeter reached on an infield single to load the bases. But, Beltran hit a grounder to Albert Pujols and Pujols cut down Murphy at the plate. Then Teixeira hit into an inning-ending double play. The Yankees hit into five double plays in the series.
The Yankees have Thursday off before opening a three-game weekend series against the Brewers in Milwaukee starting on Friday.
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (4-0, 2.53 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Tanaka gave up three early runs to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday but ended up with a 9-3 victory. Tanaka has 51 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings this season.
The Brewers will counter with right-hander Yovani Gallardo (2-1, 2.47 ERA). Gallardo was charged with four runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out one in a loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.
Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by MY9.
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 3
He heard the whispers. At age 33, Brian Roberts was sporting a .213 batting average on May 1 and the team that once counted on All-Star second baseman Robin$on Cano was not getting much production out of its winter free-agent signing. It was time for Roberts to show what he could do.
Roberts did just that by blasting the first pitch he saw from Ernesto Frieri deep into the right-field bleachers in right with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 3-3 tie as New York edged Los Angeles on Tuesday in front of a paid crowd of 40,106 at Angel Stadium.
For Roberts is was his first home run in a Yankee uniform and it culminated a night in which Roberts went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in leading a team that lately has been struggling to score runs.
Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who started for the Yankees, once again was denied a victory because of a lack of run support and a major hiccup from the bullpen.
Kuroda pitched his best game of the season, going 7 2/3 innings and having held the Angels to two runs (both unearned) on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts before giving up a two-out triple to Mike Trout while holding a 3-2 lead.
Manager Joe Girardi summoned Shawn Kelley to pitch to Albert Pujols and for the second consecutive evening Kelley was unable to do what he called upon to do. Pujols laced a full count pitch for an RBI single that allowed the Angels to tie the game.
Despite the failure, Kelley (1-2) was credited with the victory. David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth inning to collect his fifth save in as many chances this season.
Frieri (0-3) took the loss.
It looked as if when the Angels scored two unearned runs off Kuroda in the third inning it was going to be another one of those frustrating nights for the Yankees of late.
Hank Conger opened the frame with a single to center and Collin Cowgill then laid down a sacrifice bunt that third baseman Yangervis Solarte fielded but he threw wildly past first baseman Mark Teixeira for an error.
Erick Aybar and Trout followed with consecutive sacrifice flies to score Conger and Cowgill.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were having problems early with left-hander C.J. Wilson, who entered the game with a 4-0 record against the Yankees as a member of the Angels.
They finally broke through in the fifth inning as Solarte and Brett Gardner hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Roberts then followed with a slow roller up the middle into center that scored Solarte and advanced Gardner to third.
Jacoby Ellsbury then hit into a double play that allowed Gardner to tie the game at 2-2.
The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning when Wilson hit Derek Jeter with a pitch and Carlos Beltran singled into center to advance Jeter to third.
It then looked as if disaster would again short-circuit a rally by the Yankees when Teixeira hit a ground ball to third and Jeter was tagged out in a rundown by Conger.
But Alfonso Soriano, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his previous at-bats against Wilson, rolled a single into left that scored Beltran.
Wilson was charged with three runs on seven hits and three walks while he struck out five batters in 8 innings.
The victory by the Yankees ended a two-game losing streak and a stretch in which the Yankees had lost five of their past six games. The victory gives the Yankees a season record of 17-15 and they climbed back into a tie with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East. The Angels fell to 16-16.
- Because Kuroda, 39, had pitched so poorly in his last six starts in 2013 and he was 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in his first six starts of 2014 there were fears that he was washed up and he no longer could be an effective major-league pitcher. He proved that was not the case. Holding the Angels to four hits in the first seven innings is no small feat. Kuroda had command of his slider and his split-finger fastball and he was was able to work effectively on both sides of the plate.
- Roberts’ 2-for-4 evening gives him a modest four-game hitting streak and he is 7-for-17 (.412) with a homer and two RBIs in that span. That has raised Roberts’ season average from .213 to .250. Roberts did hit eight home runs and drive in 39 runs in roughly half a season with the Orioles in 2013 so it is possible that he could hit 16 homers and drive in 78 runs in a full season with the Yankees if he stays healthy.
- Robertson is now 5-for-5 in save opportunities and he is sporting a sparkling 1.13 ERA with seven strikeouts and two walks in eight innings. While no one is saying he is as good as the great Mariano Rivera, Robertson has more than held as own as the team’s closer. The Yankees have only had problems getting him leads late and, when they have gotten late leads, the setup guys have botched them.
- After the five-walk debacle between Kelley and Matt Thornton on Monday night that cost the Yankees a victory, it was not very encouraging to see Kelley give up the single to Pujols that allowed the Angels to tie the game in the eighth. Kelley has to throw strikes and be more aggressive with his pitches in order to be effective in the role Robertson did so well the past four seasons.
- Double plays have been killing the Yankees of late and they hit into two more of them on Tuesday. Ellsbury’s double play did allow Gardner to score to tie the game but it also turned a two-on, no-out situation into a two-out, nobody-on situation. And after Soriano’s single gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead in the eighth, Brian McCann hit into a double play that ended the inning. The Yankees simply have to stop shooting themselves in the foot.
- McCann, 30, ended up 0-for-4 and he did not get a ball out of the infield on Wednesday. McCann is now 3-for-36 (.083) in his past nine games and he seems absolutely perplexed at the plate. He is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and taking strikes right down the middle. With his season average at .209 he is going to need to wake up soon because he is killing rallies right and left.
The Yankees on Tuesday finally were able to place right-hander Michael Pineda on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder muscle and activated backup infielder Brendan Ryan. Pineda, 27, had to be carried on the 25-man roster as he served a 10-game suspension for using pine tar. Ryan, 32, was shelved in spring training on March 4 after suffering a cervical spine nerve injury. Ryan primarily will serve as a backup to Jeter at shortstop, although he could also be used at second and third base.
Major League Baseball and its teams are now suffering the consequences of what was a planned effort on their part to expand its number of minority umpires by promoting them over more qualified candidates. One such example of that program is Laz Diaz. Another is C.B. Bucknor. If you ask players, coaches, managers and front-office personnel who are among the worst umpires in baseball the names Diaz and Bucknor come up. The reason is they are terrible at calling balls and strikes. Their strike zones will actually “move” from inning to inning and sometimes from batter to batter. Hence, on Tuesday night the Yankees had the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth inning. Gardner had a 1-0 count on him as Jered Weaver threw a pitch that fell low out of the strike zone. But Diaz called it a strike. Look at the replays and you can clearly see the ball fell below Gardner’s knee as it crossed the plate. Also watch the following inning as two of Kelley’s pitches hit the same plain Diaz had called the strike on Gardner. He called them balls. That is why Girardi argued the strike call to Gardner and why Diaz ejected him. It is also why Kelley questioned Diaz about the calls and he was ejected by Diaz. But baseball needs to get useless pieces of excrement like Diaz out of baseball. Surely there are some minorities knocking on the door of being umpires who can actually see. That would be great for all involved and Diaz can go back to be an a–hole to his nephews and nieces. So the score of Monday’s game should be: Diaz 2, Yankees 1.
The Yankees can win the three-game road series against the Angels on Wednesday with a victory.
Left-hander Vidal Nuno (0-0, 6.87 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Nuno, 26, yielded three runs on five hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings on April 26 to the Angels at Yankee Stadium in his third start of the season. The Yankees need him to pitch better or he may may be replaced by David Phelps or Alfredo Aceves.
The Angles will counter with left-hander Hector Santiago (0-5, 5.01 ERA). Santiago was shelled for five runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings in a loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday. The Yankees scored four run son six hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings to defeat Santiago on April 26.
Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 2
When backup catcher Francisco Cervelli was placed on the 15-day disabled list on April 15 and the Yankees recalled 22-year-old John Ryan Murphy instead of Austin Romine it raised a lot eyebrows since Romine had more major-league experience. But after Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium the promotion of Murphy seems to make perfect sense now.
Murphy stroked a two-run single in the second inning and then blasted his first major-league home run in the fifth as he led New York to a nail-biting victory over the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim in front of a national TV audience on FOX Sports 1 and a paid crowd of 40,908.
Murphy was making only his ninth major-league start and his third of the season to allow starting catcher Brian McCann to rest during the day game after playing Friday night. Murphy made the most of it, too.
With the game tied at 1-1 after left-hander Hector Santiago balked in a run and runners on second and third in the second inning, Murphy slapped a 2-2 delivery from Santiago to the opposite field for a single that scored two runs and give the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
However, Yankees left-hander Vidal Nuno was unable to hold the lead for long.
Albert Pujols greeted him with single to lead off the fourth inning and Howie Kendrick followed by drawing a four-pitch walk. Erick Aybar then hit a grounder to Kelly Johnson at third.
Johnson retired Kendrick with a throw to Brian Roberts at second but Kendrick upended Roberts and Roberts’ throw to first landed in the Yankees’ dugout for an error that allowed Pujols to score while Aybar was awarded second base.
Chris Iannetta followed with a RBI double to center to score Aybar that again tied the game at 3-3.
With two outs, David Freese singled and J.B. Schuck lofted a shallow sinking fly ball to center that Jacoby Ellsbury made a spectacular diving catch on to keep the Angels from taking the lead.
Nuno was removed from the game with one out and one on in the fifth inning. Besides the two runs in the fourth, he also yielded a one-out solo home run to Mike Trout in the first inning.
Nuno was charged with three runs on five hits and two walks while he struck out four in 4 1/3 innings.
Murphy untied the game leading off the bottom of the fifth with a long drive into the left-field bleachers on the first offering from Santiago (0-4).
After Murphy’s home run, Santiago was tagged with back-to-back singles by Ellsbury and Derek Jeter. Santiago retired Carlos Beltran on a flyout and then was removed from the game, ending up being charged with four runs on six hits and a walk while striking three in 4 1/3 innings.
The Yankees bullpen was able to keep the hot-hitting Angels scoreless the rest of the way. But the Angels did have several excellent chances to score.
Dellin Betances (1-0) replaced Nuno in the fifth and he pitched 2 innings of scoreless baseball with three strikeouts to earn his first major-league decision.
Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and David Robertson shut out the Halos for the final 2 2/3 innings to preserve the victory. Robertson was credited with third save in as many chances this season.
The Angels did have two runners and one out in the seventh inning after a Collin Cowgill single chased Betances and Kelley walked the first batter he faced in Trout.
However, Kelley was able to retire Pujols on a flyout and he struck out Kendrick to end the inning.
The Angels then threatened in the eighth when Iannetta stroked a one-out single and Ian Stewart laid down a bunt single against a exaggerated shift. But Freese flew out and Thornton relieved Kelley and got pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez to line out to right to end that rally.
Robertson yielded a one-out single to Trout and Trout was able to steal second. But Robertson got Pujols on another routine flyout and he struck out Kendrick on a 3-2 fastball to save the game.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 14-10. They now lead the American League East by two games over the Baltimore Orioles. The Angels, who have not been above .500 since they won their first game of the season in 2013, fell to 11-12.
- For years the Yankees have had a “defense-first” approach with their backup catchers. Murphy’s recall from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre indicates that philosophy has changed. Murphy batted .269 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs in 108 games in two minor-league stops in 2013. He has now passed Romine in the pecking order and if he keeps hitting he may eventually make Cervelli trade bait. Murphy is 4-for-13 (.308) with a homer and three RBIs in six games.
- Betances, 26, shut the door on the Angels and was very impressive in his two innings of work. With Trout on second after Betances was called for a balk, Betances retired Pujols on a groundout and then induced a weak infield popup from Kendrick to end the fifth. Betances finished by striking out three of the final four batters he faced with his mid-90s fastball and a knee-buckling curveball.
- Robertson passed his first big test after coming off the disabled list with a strained groin on Tuesday. After striking out Cowgill to open the ninth, Trout singled and reached second on a stolen base after a fan interfered with Mark Teixeira’s attempt to catch a foul ball off the bat of Pujols. But Robertson retired Pujols on a fly ball and fanned Kendrick with a flourish to gain a well-earned save.
- Despite the fact that Yangervis Solarte has been hitting well, manager Joe Girardi elected to started the lefty-swinging Johnson at third against the lefty Santiago and Johnson went 0-for-3 and stranded four runners in the game. Johnson is 3-for-16 (.115) with one RBI in his past 10 games and his season average has sunk to .213.
- Beltran had his four-game hitting streak stopped as he was 0-for-4 on Saturday. Despite his poor showing, Beltran still leads the Yankees with five homers and he is tied with Solarte for the team lead in RBIs with 13.
The Yankees on Saturday continued to shuffle their bullpen in the wake of the suspension of right-hander Michael Pineda. The Yankees selected the contract of right-hander Chris Leroux from Scranton and optioned right-hander Shane Greene back to the same club. In addition, to make room of the 40-man roster for Leroux, the team released left-hander Nik Turley. Leroux, 30, was 0-2 with a 12.79 ERA in two appearances with the RailRiders. Greene, 25, had no record with a 6.75 ERA in two appearances with the Yankees. . . . Yankees infielder Brendan Ryan, 32, will begin a rehab stint on Sunday with High-A Tampa in the Florida State League. Ryan has been shelved since March 4 with a cervical spine nerve injury. The Yankees hope to be able to activate him off the disabled list within a week.
The Yankees will try to win the rubber game of the three-game weekend home series against the Angels on Sunday.
Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka (3-0, 2.15 ERA) will take the mound for the Yankees. Tanaka held the Boston Red Sox to just two runs on seven hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings on Tuesday. Tanaka, 25, has 35 K’s in 29 1/3 innings this season.
The Angels will start Garrett Richards (2-0, 2.52 ERA). Richards surrendered just one run on one hit and four walks with six strikeouts in six innings in a no-decision on Monday against the Washington Nationals.
Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN.