Tagged: Alex Cora

Vazquez Dazzles Before Injury As Yanks Edge Mets


Just another day in the life of the New York Yankees. They have won 26 games and for each game there is an injury — or so it seems.
Much-maligned right-hander Javier Vazquez pitched six dominant innings of one-hit shutout baseball against the New York Mets but he left the game with a finger he bruised bunting as the Yankees went on to edge the Mets Friday night 2-1 at Citi Field.
Vazquez (3-4) only gave up a bloop single to Angel Pagan with one out in the fifth inning, as he struck out six batters and walked two. The Yankees breathed a huge sigh of relief after the game when X-rays on Vazquez’s right finger showed no fracture.
Kevin Russo, making his first-ever major-league start, backed up Vazquez with a two-run double in the seventh inning off 39-year-old Mets reliever Elmer Dessens (0-1). 
Mariano Rivera, making his first appearance after consecutive games in which he blew a save and lost a tie game, pitched a shaky ninth inning but hung on to record his eighth save of the season.
With the victory the Yankees ran their season record to 26-16 and snapped a three-game losing streak. They are still four games in back of the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The Mets are 20-23 and are seven games back in last place in the N.L. East.

  • Vazquez was really brilliant in his first start since May 12. In his last 13 1/3 innings, Vazquez has given up just two runs on eight hits and four walks and he has struck out 14 batters. That is an ERA of 1.26. His ERA after his fifth start on May 1 against the White Sox was 9.78. Give pitching coach Dave Eiland credit for helping Vazquez turn his season around in a big way.
  • Russo, 25, a native of West Babylon, N.Y., took advantage of his first start of his career with his first major-league hit  — a single off 35-year-old Mets starter Hisanori Takahashi in the third inning. Then Russo took advantage of a sloppy fielding play by Mets second baseman Alex Cora. Francisco Cervelli followed Nick Swisher’s leadoff single with a bouncing ball to Cora that was a tailor-made double-play ball. However, Cora air-mailed his toss to the right of shortstop Jose
    Reyes and Swisher and Cervelli reached third and second, respectively. Russo then followed with his game-winning double down the right-field line to score both runners.
  • Give Russo some additional credit for playing his first major-league start in an unfamiliar spot: left-field. Russo, who primarily is a second baseman, was inserted into left-field because the Yankees are short on outfielders with Curtis Granderson on the disabled list and Marcus Thames nursing a sprained ankle. Russo handled his three chances in the outfield flawlessly before leaving the game in the bottom of the seventh inning for Randy Winn.
  • Alex Rodriguez followed his miserable 0-for-4 with three strikeouts against the Rays on Thursday night by going 2-for-3 with a walk. Rodriguez raised his average to .295 on the season.
  • Joba Chamberlain also seemingly has recovered from his two shaky most recent outings. Summoned in the bottom of the seventh inning with one out and runners on first and second, Chamberlain ended the threat by striking out David Wright looking and Angel Pagan swinging. He also pitched a perfect eighth inning.

  • The Yankee offense seemed totally flustered and bewildered by veteran Japanese League left-hander Takahashi for the first six innings. All they could muster off a pitcher making his first major-league start was five hits and a walk. The soft-tossing lefty struck out five batters — including Derek Jeter, who struck out twice in his three at-bats against him.
  • There has to some minor concern about Rivera now. Though he did record the save, Rivera gave up back-to-back doubles to Jason Bay and Ike Davis with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. In his last three appearances, Rivera has given up five runs (three earned) on five hits and one very costly walk to Jim Thome of the Twins in three innings of work. His last 1-2-3 outing was on May 14 against the Twins.
  • Mark Teixeira, after showing signs of having a monster May, has now fallen right back into the same kind of slump that plagued him in April. As of May 17, Teixeira had raised his average to .a season-high 224. In his past four games he is 1-for-16 and his average has slipped back to .209. He was 0-for-4 against the Mets on Friday including hitting into a double play in his first at-bat.

The Yankees’ victory on Friday was their fifth consecutive win over the Mets dating back to June 14, 2009 and they are undefeated in all four games played at Citi Field.  . . .  The Yankees feared the worst when Vazquez left the game with a bloody right index finger. But X-rays showed only a bruise and Vazquez said he is sure he will be able make his next scheduled start.  Vazquez, who is an exceptionally good hitter for a pitcher, successfully put down two sacrifice bunts in the game. The second one off Dessens was successful despite the fact the ball caught Vazquez on the tip of his right index finger.  . . .  Thames, who has not played since he left Wednesday’s game against the Rays with a sprained left ankle he suffered stepping on his bat while running to first on a single, has progressed enough that he was available to pinch-hit on Friday. Thames ran and took fly balls before Friday’s game and said his ankle felt fine. Manager Joe Girardi elected to keep him on the bench and played Russo in left-field instead. Russo later made that decision pay off with his game-winning double in the seventh inning.  . . .  Curtis Granderson, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin, is going out on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Louisville beginning on Saturday. Girardi said Granderson will play about five or six games with Scranton and the Yankees hope to have him back in the lineup by late next week if all goes well.  

The Yankees will hold their breath when he bats but they will have no trouble letting right-hander Phil Hughes take the mound to face the Mets on Saturday. Hughes (5-0, 2.25 ERA) is coming off his worst and shortest outing of the year on Monday against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Hughes gave up five runs in five innings in a game the Yankees eventually won in the ninth inning with a pair of two-run home runs off closer Jonathan Papelbon. Hughes has thrown 2 1/3 scoreless innings in two relief appearances against the Mets.
Hughes will face fellow young Mets phenom, right-hander Mike Pelfrey (5-1, 3.02 ERA). Pelfrey limited the Atlanta Braves to two runs in 7 2/3 innings on Monday. He struck three and walked two. In two previous starts against the Yankees, Pelfrey is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. 
The game is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. EDT and it will be telecast nationally by FOX.

Burnett Extends Mastery Over Mets


After Saturday night’s game it would not have been too odd to see the Mets wave a white flag at A.J. Burnett. After two appearances the Yankees righthander can boast a 2-0 record with a run margin of 20-0.
Burnett (6-4) was even better than he was June 14 in beating Johan Santana 15-0. On Saturday he gave up only one hit and three walks in seven innings and he fanned a season-high 10 batters.
In his two games against the Yankees crosstown rivals he has pitched 14 innings of shutout baseball, giving up just five hits and seven walks and recording 18 strikeouts.
The victory at Citi Field also gave the Yankees four victories in five games against the Mets and they clinched the season Subway Series for the first time since 2003.
Burnett set the tone early by not giving up a hit in the first five innings. His only blemishes were walks to Gary Sheffield and Jeremy Reed in the second inning. Burnett was so dominant that he seemed poised to pitch his second career no-hitter.
Leftfielder Melky Cabrera, filling in for an ill Johnny Damon, aided Burnett’s no-hit cause with two great catches off the bat of Daniel Murphy. The second play in the fifth inning was a leaping over the shoulder grab just shy of the warning track.
But the Mets Alex Cora, leading off the sixth inning, took a hanging 0-1 curveball and smacked it into centerfield for a clean single to break up Burnett’s bid for another no-hitter. Cora had been hitless against Burnett in 22 career at-bats.
The Yankees offense actually was stymied early by Tim Redding (1-3). But Nick Swisher, batting lefthanded, did manage to hit a one-out solo opposite field home run off Redding to stake the Yankees to a 1-0 lead.
But Redding regrouped and retired nine batters in a row until Mark Teixeira reached him for a double off the wall in center sixth inning. The Yankees then quickly put an end to Redding’s night with three consecutive hits on three consecutive pitches.
Alex Rodriguez drove in Teixeira with a hot smash up the middle. Robinson Cano then lifted a fly ball to leftfield that Garfy Sheffield gave up on but the ball landed in fair territory for a double. Rodriguez, unsure whether Sheffield would catch the ball, was unable to score and stopped at third.
But A-Rod’s baserunning caution became a moot point when Jorge Posada, batting lefthanded, chased Redding from the game with an opposite field home run to left to make it 5-0 for the Bronx Bombers.
In 5 1/3 innings, Redding gave up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and two walks. He did strike out six batters.
Burnett and two Yankee relievers took it from there. Brian Bruney pitched a perfect eighth inning and David Robertson did the same in the ninth as the Yankees coasted to their fourth straight victory.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, they were unable to gain ground on the Boston Red Sox, who are in first place in the American East. The Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves 1-0 to remain four games up on their rival Yankees.
But the Yankees did gain another game on third-place Toronto. The Blue Jays were hammered 10-0 by the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies. They now have fallen back to two games behind the Yankees.
The Yankees will go for a rare road sweep of the Mets with righthander Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20 ERA) scheduled to pitch against mets veteran righty Livian Hernandez (5-2, 4.05 ERA). 
Wang has not faced the Mets this season but has a 1-1 record against them lifetime. Hernandez, meanwhile, is 0-3 with a 6.94 ERA lifetime against the Yankees. He got a no decision against the Yankees June 12 after allowing six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. The Yankees eventually won the game 9-8 at Yankee Stadium.
Gametime is 8:05 p.m. EDT and the contest will be televised nationally by ESPN.
NOTES .  .  . Derek Jeter missed a second straight game with flu-like symptoms. Damon and Phil Hughes also have the illness and did not play . . . Burnett pitched Saturday night after serving a five-game suspension for an incident that occurred against the Texas Rangers on June 2. Burnett uncorked a pitch that just missed hitting Nelson Cruz in the head after two Yankees had been hit by pitches from Vicente Padilla. Major League Baseball suspended Burnett originally for six games but later reduced the penalty to five games in return for Burnett dropping his appeal. However, Burnett and the Yankees pitching staff was not inconvenienced at all. An off-day Monday allowed CC Sabathia to pitch on his regular rest Friday night and Burnett pitched Saturday on six days rest. Wang will pitch Sunday on his usual four days rest . . . Former Yankees infielder Andy Phillips has signed a contract to play baseball in Japan.