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, REDS 0
It took 39-year-old Andy Pettitte to figure out what a starting pitcher with the New York Yankees has to do win a game when his team’s hitters are incapable of hitting with the runners in scoring position and are spending most of the month in the baseball equivalent of the Heimlech Maneuver: You pitch your freaking butt off and throw a shutout.
In his second major-league start since coming out of retirement, that is pretty much what it took as Pettitte twirled eight innings of scoreless and surgical baseball, giving up four singles, walking one and striking nine to win his first game since a July 8, 2010 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Pettitte (1-1) flashed vintage form on Friday to navigate his way though a Reds lineup that has been struggling just as much as the Yankees have lately as New York blanked Cincinnati in an interleague game at Yankee Stadium.
Pettitte’s lone run of early support came in the fourth inning when Curtis Granderson led off the frame with a lined single to center. Robinson Cano followed with a hard bouncing single to right that momentarily bounced of the glove of Jay Bruce. Granderson reached third base easily, however, in a scene all to familiar to Yankee fans, Cano was cut down trying to stretch the hit on a throw from Bruce to shortstop Zack Cozart.
Alex Rodriguez was able to score Granderson with a slow roller to Cozart at short.
At the precise moment Granderson touched home plate, I thought it appropriate for the game to be halted so the Yankees could actually savor a moment where they actually No. 1 scored a run and No. 2 actually held a lead in a major-league game. At the very least, the mayor should have presented the team with a trophy or something.
But, the Yankees’ problem with scoring reared its ugly head again in the sixth inning and they actually made right-hander Bronson Arroyo (2-2) look a whole lot better than he actually is.
Derek Jeter led off the inning with a lined single to center. Granderson followed with a ground single up the middle and Arroyo walked Cano to load the bases with nobody out. The majority of the 42,015 in attendance who were Yankee fans knew it was not a time to celebrate yet. The Yankees showed them just why.
Rodriguez hit a ball that smashed off the glove of third baseman Todd Frazier but Frazier was able to recover in time to cut down Jeter with a throw to catcher Ryan Hanigam at the plate for the first out. Raul Ibanez followed with a bouncer to first baseman Joey Votto, who fired home to easily force Granderson before he could reach the plate. Nick Swisher then hit a lazy pop fly to Cozart in shallow center to end the threat.
The Yankees did manage to tack on three runs off Arroyo with two out in the bottom of the ninth.
Cano launched a long blast into the right-field bleachers for his fourth home run of the season. Rodriguez followed with a single to left and Ibanez closed out the scoring with lined home run into the short porch in right for his eighth home run of the season.
So even though the Yankees did score four runs after losing their previous three games scoring a total of four runs, they were still 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Boone Logan pitched a perfect ninth to close out the victory for Pettitte.
With the victory, the Yankees ended a three-game skid and improved their season record to 21-18. The Reds are 19-19.
- Pettitte was absolutely brilliant and manager Joe Girardi – with Mariano Rivera out for the season and David Robertson on the disabled list – rolled the dice and allowed his veteran left-hander pitch eight innings. Pettitte threw 115 pitches and 78 were strikes (68 percent). His toughest challenge was the first inning when Cozart reached second on a passed ball on a strikeout and a throwing error by catcher Chris Stewart. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Drew Stubbs. However, Pettitte struck out Votto and Brandon Phillips swinging to strand Cozart. No other runner reached second base on him the rest of night.
- Cano had a walk and two hits, including his big solo home run in the eighth. That raised his batting average to .310 on the season. He and Jeter are the only two regulars who are hitting above .300 on the season. Despite the fact the Yankees are struggling as a team to score runs, Cano is hitting a sizzling .459 in his last 10 games.
- Ibanez continues to provide the team with some dramatic big hits. His two-run shot in the eighth bounced Arroyo out of the game and provided the Yankees with a four-run cushion heading into the ninth. Ibanez has 26 hits and 24 RBIs on the season. The 39-year-old outfielder/designated hitter is hitting .273 with runners in scoring position, one of the few Yankees who is actually doing well in that category.
- In their last six games the team is 6-for-48 (.125) with runners in scoring position, including their 0-for-7 on Friday. On the season this is what six of the main regulars are doing with runners in scoring position: Granderson, .226; Swisher, .209; Teixeira, 205; Cano, .176; Rodriguez, .167; and Russell Martin, .167. Jeter is hitting an even .300 with RISP. You want to know why the offense is misfiring and it is these six guys who are the reason.
- Swisher was 1-for-4, struck out twice and hit that weak popup that ended the sixth inning and left the bases loaded. Swisher ended April hitting .284 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. But he is hitting .196 with a home run and three RBIs in May, which has dragged his season average down 32 points to .252.
- Girradi chose to rest Teixeira and Martin and Brett Gardner is still on the disabled list. As a result, the No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 hitters were DH Chavez, LF Dewayne Wise and C Stewart. Against Arroyo they were a combined 0-for-9 with two strikeouts, three weak groundouts, a weak popup and three routine flyouts. This is another reason the team is slumping at the plate.
Teixeira was rested on Friday because he still has a hacking cough related to an illness Teixeira picked up during the team’s first homestand. Girardi elected to play Swisher at first base and shift Ibanez into right-field on Friday. Teixeira has seen a specialist about the persistent cough and seemed encouraged with he heard. But, though the cough is not getting worse, it has persisted for more than a month. The veteran first baseman is hitting an anemic .228 with five home runs and 20 RBIs this season.
The Yankees will continue their first interleague series of the season on Saturday against the Reds.
Despite suffering a right foot contusion and a slightly sprained right ankle in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles last Monday, right-hander Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.44 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Yankees. Nova gave up five runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision in a game the Yankees eventually won. Nove is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his career against the Reds.
The Reds will counter with right-hander Homer Bailey (1-3, 4.35 ERA). Bailey held the Braves to six hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision on Monday. Bailey has not pitched against the Yankees in his career, which usually spells trouble for the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:-5 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.