YANKEES 2, ATHLETICS 1
The last time the Yankees won a game, Masahiro Tanaka pitched eight innings to defeat the Minnesota Twins 3-1 on May 31 on his way to being named May’s American League Pitcher of the Month. So on Thursday all Tanaka did was pitch six gutty innings to defeat Oakland to begin June.
Tanaka weathered a home run from the second batter he faced, John Jaso, in yielding five hits and one walk while striking out four as New York ended its four-game skid to edge Oakland in front of a paid crowd of 44,346 at Yankee Stadium.
The A’s deliberately tried to press Tanaka (9-1) in the fourth and fifth innings after they could manage just Jaso’s homer off the right-hander. They decided to take pitches until they got to two strikes and shortened their swings on two strikes to foul off tough pitches.
Tanaka was forced to throw 26 pitches in both the fourth and fifth innings. The A’s did manage to post a pair of two-out singles in the fourth by Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes before Jed Lowrie struck out on nine pitches. In the fifth Tanaka yielded a leadoff single to Stephen Vogt and a two-out walk to Coco Crisp but Jaso popped out weakly to end the threat.
The strategy was clear: Get Tanaka’s pitch count up to attack him in a weakened condition or force him out of the game so the Athletics could attack the Yankees’ bullpen, which has been leaking like a sieve during the Yankees’ seven-game homestand.
But the strategy did not work.
Tanaka left after 104 pitches and six innings with the lead.
Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and David Robertson did not yield a run in the final three innings to give the Yankees a 2-5 record during the homestand. Both of the victories were Tanaka’s.
However, both Warren and Robertson had to complete their innings with the potential tying run standing on third base as they recorded the final out.
Warren began the eighth by giving up singles to Crisp and Jaso and even uncorked a wild pitch to allow both runners to advance. But he escaped any damage by striking out Josh Donaldson, retiring Moss on a liner to right and fanning Cespedes.
Robertson had to earn his 13th save in 15 tries this season after Vogt muscled a bloop one-out single to center and pinch-runner Craig Gentry stole second base.
Alberto Callaspo hit a hard grounder that ticked off Robertson’s foot and bounded toward first baseman Mark Teixeira. Teixeira alertly fielded the ball and was able to retire Callaspo with a toss to Robertson covering first base.
“I was probably the happiest guy in the stadium that the ball hit me,” Robertson told reporters after the game. “I felt even more fortunate that we get an out of it.”
Robertson then finished the game by striking out pinch-hitter Derek Norris.
Tanaka and the relievers were working within a slim margin of error because the Yankees’ offense again sputtered against left-hander Drew Pomeranz (5-3).
The Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the second when Brian McCann singled and reached second when the left-fielder, Moss, allowed the ball to scoot past him to the wall for an error. Alfonso Soriano, who had been mired in an 0-for-16 slide with eight strikeouts dating back to May 25, then delivered an RBI single to right-center that scored McCann without a throw.
Brett Gardner later gave the Yankees a lead they ultimately would not relinquish with a leadoff home run in the third inning on Pomeranz’s first offering. The home run, a no-doubter that landed in the second deck in the right-field stands, was his fourth of the season and his first since May 17.
From that point on, the Yankees did absolutely nothing with Pomeranz for the rest of the afternoon.
The 25-year-old left-hander did not allow another base-runner until the sixth when Jacoby Ellsbury drew a one-out walk. The Yankees only “hit” off Pomeranz after the Gardner’s blast came with two out in the seventh when Crisp lost Soriano’s fly ball to center in the sun and it was scored a double.
Pomeranz was charged with two runs on six hits and one walk and he struck out seven in seven innings of work.
However, he could not outduel Tanaka, who lowered his American League-leading ERA from 2.06 to 2.02.
“I don’t think it was my best performance for the season,” Tanaka told reporters through a translator. “But given the fact that our team was in a little bit of a funk, and that we were facing one of the best teams in the league right now, I’m really happy to contribute to the team’s win.”
With the victory the Yankees climbed back over the .500 mark to 30-29. They are third place in the American League East and they trail the first-place Toronto Blue Jays by six games. The A’s are 37-23.
- Tanaka has bristled at being called the team’s ace but he is proving in his first season in the major leagues that he is every bit the ace the staff has needed. “A true ace stops losing streaks. There’s not another guy we want out there after losing a few in a row than Tanaka,” Teixeira told reporters after the game. The Yankees are 11-1 in his starts and it is hard to imagine where they would be without him.
- Soriano’s two hits, even though one was dubious, hopefully will get him out of one of his worst slumps in his 14 full major-league seasons. The Yankees always knew that the 38-year-old outfielder was a streaky hitter but Soriano has not really had a sustained hot streak this season. He is batting .233 with six homers and 2o RBIs a third of the way into the season. That is not what the Yankees were expecting from him.
- There also may be hope that Gardner will get going again after slumping from May 22 through June 3 on a 9-for-48 (.188) slide. Gardner finished the final two games of the Oakland series 3-for-9. This team-wide hitting slump has been very frustrating to manager Joe Girardi and the pitching staff because it left them feeling they have to be perfect in every inning to every batter on every pitch. It is hard to pitch that way.
Why dwell on the obvious offensive woes. Let’s chalk this one up as a victory thanks to Tanaka and the bullpen. The Yankees just have to hope the bats wake up before the Blue Jays run away with the division.
The Yankees did get one potentially big bat back in the lineup when Carlos Beltran was activated from the disabled list prior to the game and he was inserted into the lineup into the fifth spot at designated hitter. Beltran, who missed 21 games while dealing with a bone spur in his right elbow, was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the game. To make room for Beltran on the roster the Yankees designated for assignment infielder Scott Sizemore. . . . Ellsbury had a two-run home run in the first inning taken away when a video review indicated that the ball struck about three inches below the top of the wall in right-field. Instead the umpires awarded him a double and placed Derek Jeter, who had singled with one out, at third base. Teixeira lined out and Beltran struck out swinging and the Yankees did not score in the inning.
The Yankees are off to Kansas City to open a wraparound four-game weekend series with the Royals beginning on Friday.
Rookie right-hander Chase Whitley (0-0, 2.37 ERA) will try to earn his first major-league victory in his fifth start of the season. Whitley held the Twins to one run on five hits while he struck out six in five innings on Sunday before Robertson blew his second save of the season and the Yankees lost the game.
The Royals will start veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (2.5, 4.00 ERA) who is 0-5 in his past 10 starts. Guthrie gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks while fanning five in seven innings in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday.
Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 7, RANGERS 4
If you want to be the best team in the American League than you want to play the best team in the A.L. and beat their best with your best. New York did just that to Texas on Monday at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX.
CC Sabathia pitched a solid eight innings and Alex Rodriguez homered and Derek Jeter contributed four hits as the Yankees defeated what was a red-hot Rangers team.
Sabathia (2-0) gave up four runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight batters to win his second consecutive start. Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his fourth save of the season.
The Yankees’ offense, meanwhile, made life a living hell for Rangers starter Derek Holland (2-0). Holland gave up seven runs on nine hits and four walks and struck out one in six innings. He is now 0-5 in his career against the Yankees.
The Yankees struck early off Holland, loading the bases in the first inning and Curtis Granderson hit a looping two-out single to center give the Yankees an early 2-1 lead.
After the Rangers scored a run on a Josh Hamilton double-play grounder, the Yankees struck for four runs in the fifth inning, capped by Rodriguez’s 414-foot blast into the left-field seats for a three-run home run to give the Yankees a 6-1 lead.
They added a run in the sixth when backup catcher Chris Stewart hit a one-out double off the wall in left-center and Jeter scored him with a double off the wall in right-center.
Sabathia did surrender a solo home run to Hamilton in the sixth and a two-run double by Craig Gentry in the seventh. But he retired the last five batters he faced on routine grounders before giving way to Rivera.
Before the game, manager Joe Girardi was hoping Sabathia would pitch into the late innings to give a needed break to his overtaxed bullpen and Sabathia did just that, throwing 77 of his 109 pitches for strikes and keeping the Rangers’ power-laden offense at bay long enough for the Yankees to get to Holland.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 10-6 and they are now tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for first place in the A.L. East. The Rangers fell to 13-4.
- Sabathia did give up four runs but this was, by far, his best performance of the season. Other than the scratch run he allowed in the first and Hamilton’s home run in the fifth, Sabathia pitched dominant baseball for the first six innings. He hurt himself with a leadoff walk to Nelson Cruz in the seventh and then he gave up one-out doubles to Brandon Snyder and Gentry, who were the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters in the lineup. He is now 11-3 in his career against the Rangers.
- Jeter’s amazing start to the season just keeps getting better by the day. He reached on a infield single in the first, singled to left-center in the second, rolled a single into left in the fifth and then stroked his RBI double in the sixth. His 4-for-5 night raised his season average over .400 to .411. He also has 13 RBIs from the leadoff spot.
- Rodriguez hit his third home run of the season off Holland on an 0-1 fastball that did not get in as far as Holland would have liked. Rodriguez, who was walked in his first two trips to the plate, was waiting for it and sent it into the bleachers in left-center. After a slow start at the plate, Rodriguez has homered twice in his last three games and has driven in five of his seven runs in that span.
- Granderson’s two-run single set the tone for the game because it came after Mark Teixeira had struck out for the second out of the inning with the bases loaded. Granderson hung in against the left-handed Holland to fist a 1-2 pitch into center to score two runs and give Sabathia an early cushion against the Rangers.
- Teixeira entered the game having great success against Holland, who had given up three home runs to him in his young career. But Teixeira struck out with the bases loaded in the first, rolled into a double play in the the third and bounced out to short again the fifth against Holland. He was 0-for-4 in the game coming off his six RBIs against the Red Sox on Saturday.
- With Brett Gardner on the disabled list, Girardi elected to use Andruw Jones in left and insert Eduardo Nunez as the DH on Monday. They combined to go 0-for-8 and Nunez only managed to get one ball out of the infield.
- Jeter made a careless error in the second inning on a ground ball off the bat of Cruz. Jeter lobbed the ball to first and it short-hopped Teixeira and bounced away from him. Fortunately, the error did not hurt the Yankees. Sabathia retired the next two batters and Cruz was stranded at first.
The status of right-handed starter Michael Pineda will have to wait another day. A scheduling conflict will force Pineda to meet with the team physician on Tuesday and he also will undergo an MRI dye contrast test on his ailing right shoulder. The Yankees hope to have the results of the tests later that evening. Pineda, 23, had to halt a bullpen session in Tampa, FL., last week after 15 pitches due to weakness in his shoulder. . . . Freddy Garcia has received a reprieve from Girardi. Garcia will make a start in the weekend home series against the Detroit Tigers, despite an 0-3 record and a 9.75 ERA in his first three starts. Girardi said Garcia will pitch either Saturday or Sunday.
Since Hideki Matsui pretty much retired the nickname “Godzilla” then the second game of the Yankees-Rangers series between two former Japanese League stars should be titled “Rodan vs. Anguirus” if you are up on your 1950s Japanese movie monsters.
The Yankees will start 37-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (2-1, 5.00 ERA). Kuroda, who pitched 11 seasons for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, has been bad, good and then bad again in his first three starts. He gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Twins on Wednesday. He is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA against the Rangers.
Opposing him will be Yu Darvish (2-0, 3.57 ERA). The 25-year-old Darvish, who pitched seven seasons for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, gave up just two hits but walked and struck out five in 6 1/3 innings in a 10-3 victory over the Tigers. Darvish has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 12, RANGERS 4
The Yankees seemed to make their injured captain irrelevant on Tuesday night. Jeter’s replacement at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez, had two hits and drove in the game’s first run and his replacement in the leadoff spot, Brett Gardner, reached base four times, had three hits, scored three runs, drove in one and stole a base.
At the same time, Curtis Granderson continued his MVP season by smacking a double and his 21st home run to drive in four runs and CC Sabathia cruised through seven innings to win his eighth game as New York demolished Texas at Yankee Stadium.
Sabathia (8-4) gave up four runs on eight hits, walked none and struck out six as he won his fifth game in his last six starts. Sabathia can’t complain about his run support either. The Yankees have now scored 12 or more runs in five of his 15 starts this season.
Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez both drove in a pair of runs and Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano each homered as the Yankees chased Alexi Ogando (7-1) from the game with a six-run second inning. Ogando entered the game undefeated with the second-best ERA in the major leagues at 2.10. But in his two starts against the Yankees he has given up 11 runs in eight innings of work.
Ogando gave up six runs on six hits and one walk in 1 2/3 innings. The six runs allowed were a career high.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season ledger to 37-28 and they drew to within 1 1/2 games of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Rangers’ record dropped to 36-32.
- Granderson has been hotter than Texas in July in his last six games. He has a six-game hitting streak and is 11-for-27 (.407) during that span with four home runs and 10 RBIs. He is tied with Jose Bautista for the major league-lead in home runs, he is third in the AL in RBIs with 51, he leads the majors in runs scored with 56 and he is hitting .282. You add his speed on the bases and his play in center-field you have a bona fide MVP candidate.
- Gardner has been on a tear of his own since June 4. He is 15-for-32 (.469) with five doubles, two triples, eight runs scored and three RBIs. He has raised his average from .244 to .282, which is a season high. The question is will Gardner remain the leadoff hitter against left-handers while Jeter is injured?
- Nunez entered the game hitting .214 in only 56 at-bats. But he becomes the Yankees’ starting shortstop for a few weeks and he fared very well in his first game. His bases-loaded, one-out single in the second started the six-run inning that doomed Ogando. He later added a another single and he handled all his chances in the field flawlessly. The Yankees actually turned down a trade offer from the Seattle Mariners for Cliff Lee because general manager Brian Cashman refused to include Nunez in the deal.
- Sabathia gave up four runs but he was actually pitching to the scoreboard. In the first three innings, he retired all nine batters he faced in order. But with a 6-0 lead, Sabathia was touched for a two-run single by Michael Young in the fourth and an RBI double by Craig Gentry and an RBI groundout by Elvis Andrus in the fifth. He managed to keep power hitters like Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz from going deep with runners on base to get the Rangers back in the contest.
- Francisco Cervelli was the only Yankee starter to go hitless. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he also hit into a double play. Cervelli has been pressed into service since June 8 as the starter for an injured Russell Martin. He has started all but one game since then. He was 3-for-3 with two RBIs in his first start during that span on June 8. Since then he is 1-for-18 with seven strikeouts. Cervelli has also allowed all but two runners to steal off him this season and he has committed five throwing errors. He is hitting an anemic .176. The question is how long will the Yankees stick with Cervelli when Jesus Montero is hitting .292 at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre?
The Yankees decided to place Jeter on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of his right calf. Jeter sustained the injury in the fifth inning of Monday’s game against the Indians. Jeter thought he could play within a week, but the Yankees team doctor Christopher Ahmad ruled it out suggesting he rest for 10 days. The Yankees recalled infielder Ramiro Pena from Scranton to replace Jeter on the roster. Jeter stroked his 2,994th hit on Monday before he left the game. But his pursuit for his 3,000th hit will have to be postponed. He is eligible to return to the active roster on June 29 when the Yankees host the Milwaukee Brewers. . . . Martin was held out of the lineup again on Tuesday with back stiffness. The Yankees were not happy with Martin’s batting practice session on Monday and decided he needed more time to rest. But they insist Martin is close to being ready after missing six of the last seven games. . . . The Yankees are close to signing a contract with 32-year-old minor-league veteran Brian Gordon, who could be selected to start on Thursday to replace Bartolo Colon in the finale of the series with the Rangers. The right-hander was 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Phillies’ organization. However, Gordon has a contract with an opt-out clause that can be exercised on Wednesday, which would allow the Yankees to sign him as a free agent. The Yankees also have long reliever Hector Noesi and Triple-A starters David Phelps and Adam Warren as candidates to pitch on Thursday.
The Yankees will continue their three-game home series against the Rangers on Wednesday.
The Yankees will start rookie right-hander Ivan Nova (5-4, 4.30 ERA), who gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings in a victory against the Indians on Friday. It was his second longest start, which was against Texas on May 6, when he allowed on unearned run over 7 1/3 innings against the Rangers. He is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Rangers in his career.
The Rangers will counter with left-hander Derek Holland (5-1, 4.41 ERA). Holland is 2-0 with a 3.68 ERA in his last three starts. He is 3-1 on the road this season, but that one loss came against the Yankees. He is 0-3 with a 8.61 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.