Tagged: Dexter Fowler

Rookie Solarte Ignites Yankees To First Victory

GAME 3

YANKEES 4, ASTROS 2

There was a popular TV game show in the 1950s and 1960s called “To Tell the Truth” in which two impostors would join a real guest to try an fool a panel. At the end of some probing questions the host Bud Collyer would say “Would the real (name) please stand up.”

After the first two games of the season where they looked like impostors, the real New York Yankees decided to stand up on Thursday.

Rookie infielder Yangervis Solarte, who was making his first major-league start, sparked the victory by going 3-for-3 and Ivan Nova and the Yankees bullpen held the Astros without a hit after the fifth inning as New York finally defeated Houston in front of a paid crowd of 26,348 at Minute Maid Park.

Solarte, 26, had a hit in all three innings in which the Yankees scored.

With one out in the third inning and the Yankees trailing 1-0, Solarte followed an Ichiro Suzki single with his first major-league hit  –  a single  –  to advance Suzuki to third. Brett Gardner then tied the game with an RBI single.

After Derek Jeter walked to load the bases, the Yankees took their first lead of the game and the three-game series when Carlos Beltran scored Solarte on a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees padded their lead in the fifth when Solarte delivered a one-out double and Jeter scored him on a two-out single to right in which Astros first baseman Marc Krauss chose to cut off a throw from Alex Presley in right that appeared it might get Solarte at the plate in order to tag out Jeter rounding first base too far.

The Yankees took a 3-2 lead into the seventh when with two out Suzuki doubled to the wall in left-center off right-hander Brad Peacock and Solarte lofted a towering popup between the mound and home plate. Astros catcher Carlos Corporan allowed the ball to drop to score Suzuki and give Solarte his first major-league RBI.

Nova (1-0) was credited with the victory, although he did not have much command of any of his pitches.

The Astros scored a run in the first inning off Nova on a back-to-back singles by Dexter Fowler and Robbie Grossman and Nova hit Jason Castro with an 0-2 pitch to load the bases with no outs.

Jose Altuve then plated Fowler on a groundout.

After the Yankees took a 3-1 lead off left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (0-1) in the fifth, the Astros added another run off Nova after a leadoff double by Jonathan Villar and an RBI single by Fowler, who was 6-for-12 with a home run, five runs scored and two RBIs in the series.

Fowler’s RBI single would end up as the Astros’ final hit of the evening, however.

Nova left in the sixth having been charged with two runs on six hits and five walks while he struck out one in 5 2/3 innings. He also hit two batters.

Nova managed to limit the damage by recording 12 groundball outs, including four double plays.

Obervoltaer also pitched 5 2/3 innings, yielding three runs on five hits and one walk. He fanned five batters.

The Yankees’ bullpen trio of Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson preserved the victory by retiring all 10 hitters they faced, five of them on strikeouts.

Robertson pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save of the season as the new Yankees closer replacing the legendary Mariano Rivera.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The legend of Solarte was already the talk of the spring after he was 18-for-42 (.429) with two homers and nine RBIs. The 26-year-old Venezuelan claimed the final roster spot over veteran Eduardo Nunez and he very quickly made an impression in his first start. I would say that he can relax now that he has his first hit and RBI out of the way but the kid has shown no nerves at all. Can we call him “Never Nervous” Yangervis?
  • Suzuki drew a start in right-field despite the fact there was a left-hander starting and he took advantage by going 2-for-4 and scored a pair of runs. Suzuki got hot at the tail end of the spring, going 9-for-26 (.346) in his final nine starts. It seems like it is carrying over to the regular season.
  • Jeter’s RBI single in the fifth gave him 3,318 hits of this career, which puts him just one behind Paul Molitor in eighth place on the all-time hits list.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Nova was erratic all evening with his command. His fastball was riding up in the strike zone and his curve had catcher Francisco Cervelli diving all over for it. He threw only 47 of his 88 pitches for strikes. But Nova survived with his ability to induce ground balls and the four double plays behind him really saved his victory.
  • Gardner, Jeter, Suzuki and Solarte combined for all of the Yankees seven hits. That means the batters hitting in the No. 3 spot through the No. 7 spot (Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, Cervelli and Brian Roberts) were a combined 0-for-18 in the game.
  • Teixeira and Soriano followed up on their combined 0-for-8 game on Wednesday with another 0-for-8 night on Thursday. Soriano was 0-for-12 in the series with four strikeouts.

BOMBER BANTER

With a left-hander on the mound in Oberholtzer, manager Joe Girardi elected to sit left-handed hitters Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson and shift Gardner to center and the leadoff spot. He inserted Suzuki in right, made Beltran the designated hitter and played Soriano in left. He also used Cervelli behind the plate and put Solarte in at third. Girardi said the day off for Ellsbury was planned because of his abbreviated spring nursing a sore right calf.   . . .  The Yankees announced on Thursday that the “Core Four” will take part in the ceremonial first pitch for the team’s home opener on Monday against the Baltimore Orioles. Pitchers Andy Pettitte and Rivera will throw the opening pitches to catcher Jorge Posada and Jeter.

ON DECK

The Yankees travel to Toronto to open a three-game weekend series with the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre beginning on Friday.

There also will be a bevy of Japanese media on hand as Masahiro Tanaka (2-0, 2.14 ERA) will be making his major-league debut with the Yankees. Tanaka, 25, struck out 26 batters in 21 innings this spring, most of them with his world-class split-finger fastball.

The Blue Jays will start right-hander Dustin McGowan (0-0, 3.86 ERA), who will be making his first major-league start since Sept. 26, 2011. McGowan, 32, missed all of the 2012 season and he pitched in 25 games in relief for the Blue Jays last season.

Game-time will be 7:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

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Astros Silence Yankees Bats To Post Another Win

GAME 2

ASTROS 3, YANKEES 1

When the Yankees ended spring training knowing they were starting the season with the lowly Astros it seemed the perfect way to start the season with a completely revamped starting lineup. After what happened on Wednesday the Yankees should be careful what they wish for.

The Astros scored a pair of early runs against Hiroki Kuroda and the Yankees  –  for the second straight evening  –  could not muster an offense as Houston defeated New York in front of a paid crowd of 23,145 at Minute Maid Park.

Dexter Fowler, who is 4-for-8 in the series, had a hand in both Astros runs off the right-handed Kuroda (0-1).

Fowler ripped Kuroda’s second offering in the first inning into the center-field bleachers to give the Astros an early 1-0 lead. Two innings later, Fowler laced a one-out triple to deep center and he scored on RBI grounder off the bat of Robbie Grossman that was misplayed by Mark Teixeira.

Kuroda gave up two runs on only there hits and one walk while he fanned five batters in six innings. But he could have sued the Yankees hitters for nonsupport.

The Yankees offense just could not push any runs across against Astros 23-year-old right-hander Jarred Cosart (1-0).

Cosart shut out the Yankees on four hits, he did not walk a batter and he struck out three in his five innings of work.

They did not fare much better against the four relievers who followed Cosart.

The Yankees did finally score a run in the seventh inning after Brett Gardner drew a leadoff walk from left-hander Kevin Chapman and Brian Roberts followed with his third consecutive single to advance Gardner to third.

Manager Joe Girardi pinch-hit for Kelly Johnson with rookie Yangervis Solarte and, in his first major-league at-bat, Solarte hit into a double play that scored Gardner.

The Astros got that run back in the bottom half of the seventh when Matt Dominguez touched right-hander David Phelps for an opposite-field home run into the right-field bleachers. In the first two games of the series, the Astros have hit four home runs and the Yankees have none.

Right-hander Josh Fields pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save of the season.

The Yankees stranded eight runners and were a combined 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Do not blame this loss on Kuroda. Unlike CC Sabathia in the the season opener, Kuroda, 39, held the Astros to just two runs in six innings. This has been the story of Kuroda’s major-league career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Yankees. He pitches well and he does not get the run support to show for the effort. That is why his career record is 68-71 and his ERA is a sparkling 3.40, the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher from Japan.
  • Roberts did his part for the offense. He was 3-for-4 with three singles that helped ignite scoring opportunities that his teammates failed to capitalize upon. Roberts, 36, is trying to re-establish his career after suffering through four seasons marred by injury. The early results show that he still has a lot left in the tank.
  • The Yankees managed just seven hits and Brian McCann and Roberts combined to post seven of them. McCann, 30, was 2-for-4 with a pair of singles. McCann is 3-for-8 with an RBI in the first two games hitting out of the cleanup spot. The five-time Silver Slugger award winner looks very comfortable at the plate in the early part of the season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano, batting fifth and sixth, respectively, were a combined 0-for-8 in the game, they struck out five times and they stranded seven base-runners. If you need to point at the two biggest culprits in the Yankees’ demise in this game you need to look no further than this pair. Soriano actually swung and missed at two pitches that hit the dirt and one of those pitches nearly hit him. In the first two games Soriano is 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.
  • The Yankees have had a history of not being able to hit pitchers they know little about and Wednesday’s game was another example. Cosart was making only his 11th major-league start and his first against the Yankees. The Yankees managed to get their first hit and base-runner with one out in the third inning on Roberts’ single. McCann added a two-out single in the fourth. Then Gardner and Roberts hit back-to-back one-out singles in the fifth. But Johnson into a fielder’s choice and Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out and Cosart left the game without yielding a run.
  • The inning that defined the evening is the eighth. Carlos Beltran led off with a double against right-handed reliever Matt Albers. However, McCann, Teixeira and Soriano all struck out swinging. Futility is contagious.

BOMBER BANTER

Former teammates Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Mike Stanton were among the guests who honored Jeter before the game with a ceremony marking his impending retirement. The Astros presented him with a pair of pinstriped cowboy boots emblazoned with his No. 2, a huge Stetson hat and a free stay and golf lessons at a golf resort operated by Astros owner Jim Crane. The Astros players all came out of the dugout to give a standing ovation to Jeter before he took his first at-bat. Jeter tipped his batting helmet to the crowd.

ON DECK

The Yankees will try to salvage one game and some of their pride in the final game of the series with the Astros on Thursday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (2-1, 3.66 ERA in spring truing) will make his 2014 debut after ending the 2013 season as the team’s best pitcher in the second half of the season. Nova, 27, was 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA last season.

The Astros will counter with24-year-old right-hander Brett Oberholtzer (0-2, 11.00 ERA). Oberholtzer was 4-5 with a 2.76 ERA in 13 games (10 of them starts) with the Astros last season.

Game-time will be 8:10 EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

 

 

Astros Flip Script To Take Opener Over Yankees

CC Sabathia continued his fine work from spring training with six strong innings and Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira led a newly retooled Yankee offense as the New York downed Houston in their season opener at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Oops!

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GAME 1

ASTROS 6, YANKEES 2

Somehow the Astros did not get the memo on how Opening Day was supposed to go.

The Astros scored six runs in the first two innings off CC Sabathia, including home runs by Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes, as Houston rolled to an Opening Day victory over New York on Tuesday in front of a paid crowd of 42,117 at Minute Maid Park.

Sabathia (0-1) was tagged for four runs in the first and two more in the second before he settled in and pitched four scoreless innings to save the bullpen. Meanwhile, Astros starter Scott Feldman (1-0) held the Yankees in check by using a series of slow-pitch softball speed pitches.

Feldman held the powerful Yankee lineup to no runs on two hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. The 31-year-old right-hander entered the contest with a career record of 51-56 with a 4.59.

The Yankees did not get their first hit off Feldman until Carlos Beltran slapped a one-out single to left in the fourth inning. Mark Teixeira looped a one-out single to right in the seventh for the team’s only other hit off Feldman.

The Astros did not waste any time against Sabathia when Dexter Fowler led off the first with a double to deep center. He moved to third on a flyout and scored on an RBI single by Jose Altuve. After a stolen base and a wild pitch advanced him to third, Altuve scored when Teixeira’s throw to home on a grounder off the bat of Jason Castro was thrown wide past McCann.

Guzman lined the first offering from Sabathia deep into the left-field bleachers to make the score 4-0. Guzman entered the game with only 23 career homers over the past 2 1/2 seasons.

Hoes opened the second inning with a solo blast of his own. Hoes entered the contest with only one previous major-league homer in 49 games.

The Astros capped the scoring in the second when Fowler laced another double with one out. Altuve later added a two-out single to score Fowler.

The Yankees had two chances to score against Feldman. In the fourth, Beltran singled with one out and Teixeira drew a two-out walk. However, Alfonso Soriano struck out to end the threat.

In the seventh, Teixeira’s one-out single was followed by a pair of two-out walks to Brett Gardner and Brian Roberts to load the bases.

Astros manager Bo Porter replaced Feldman with left-hander Kevin Chapman and he induced Kelly Johnson into a force out to leave the bases loaded.

The Yankees did finally break through in the eighth inning when Chapman opened the frame by walking Jacoby Ellsbury. Jeter then greeted right-hander Chad Qualls with a single to right.

Beltran advanced Ellsbury and Jeter with a groundout and Brian McCann and Teixeira followed with RBI singles.

However, Qualls ended the rally by getting Soriano to hit into an inning-ending double play.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Two big concerns the Yankees had opening the season was how Jeter and Teixeira would fare after both players, who missed most of the 2013 season with injuries, struggled to hit this spring. But Jeter was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored and Teixeira was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.
  • Give both McCann and Teixeira a lot of credit for the their RBI singles. Both decided to hit to the opposite field with shifts on against them and a ground-ball pitcher on the mound in Qualls. If you try to pull outside pitches you end up grounding into the shift. Both recognized that and hit to the opposite field.
  • Both Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno pitched an inning of relief and both were impressive. Betances struck out two in a perfect inning in the seventh and Nuno struck out the side in the eighth. The Yankees are hoping that Betances, 26, and Nuno, 26, will contribute a lot to a completely retooled bullpen that is missing closer Mariano Rivera.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The reality is that Sabathia was NOT defeated by his reduced velocity. Sabathia was beaten because he missed location with his pitches. When he was up in the strike zone he got hammered. When he got the ball down he was successful in the final four innings. Sabathia was making his sixth consecutive Opening Day start for the Yankees and the 11th of his career. He is the team’s ace out of courtesy and you can actually make a case that he is the weakest of the Yankees five starters. Once Yankees fans accept that fact they may just be able to accept Sabathia for what he is at age 33.
  • Soriano can be a maddening player. When he is red hot you can’t get him out. When he is cold he can kill your offense. He killed the offense pretty well on Tuesday by going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a inning-ending double play. Soriano stranded a team-high five runners. Ouch!
  • Though the Yankees were charged with one error they actually were extremely sloppy in the field in this game. McCann overthrew third base trying to nab Altuve. Teixeira’s throw home to get Altuve was to the first-base side of home plate and skipped past McCann. They just did not look sharp in the field with the exception of some fine plays at third by Johnson.

BOMBER BANTER

Before the game the Yankees purchased the contract of infielder Yangervis Solarte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and designated infielder Eduardo Nunez for assignment. The team will have 10 days to trade, release or outright Nunez to the minor leagues. Nunez, 26, was once viewed as the heir apparent to Jeter at shortstop but he was outplayed this spring by Solarte, 26, and Dean Anna, 27.  . . .  The Yankees Opening Day lineup had only one holdover from Opening Day in 2013 and that was Gardner. Last season, both Jeter and Teixeira were on the disabled list and 2013 starters Ichiro Suzuki and Francisco Cervelli were on the bench on Tuesday. The 2013 lineup also included Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, Ben Francisco, Jayson Nix and Nunez.  . . .  The Astros plan to honor Jeter with a special ceremony on Wednesday with former teammates Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens on hand. Jeter announced just before spring training began that this will be his final season.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have to recover from their loss as they play the second game of a three-game seres with the Astros.

Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (11-13, 3.31 ERA in 2013) will make his first start of the season. He was 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA this spring.

He will opposed by right-hander Jarred Cosart, who was 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 10 starts last season. He was 2-1 with a 4.50 ERA this spring.

Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

 

Yankees Utilize Skill, Luck To Orbit Past Astros

GAME 11

YANKEES 9, ASTROS 6

KISSIMMEE – There is an old saying that sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. On Saturday, the Yankees needed a bit of both to down the Astros in a seesaw affair.

Trailing 6-4 in the sixth, Mason Williams hit a sacrifice fly to bring the Yankees to within a run and Brett Gardner stroked a single that center-fielder Dexter Fowler threw into the Astros dugout to allow two runs to score as New York rallied to down Houston at Osceola County Stadium.

The Yankees actually held a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth when Jose Altuve doubled and Jason Castro walked just ahead of Chris Carter’s three-run blast to left off Yankees’ left-hander Manny Banuelos, who was making his first major-league appearance since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2012.

Chase Whitley (1-2) struck out the only batter he faced in relief of Banuelos in the fifth to get credit for the victory. Chris Leroux pitched a scoreless ninth to earn a save.

Jose Cisnero (0-1) was charged with three runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk in his one inning of work to take the loss.

Right-hander Ivan Nova started for the Yankees and he suffered through what was his worst outing of the spring, yielding three runs on eight hits with no walks and five strikeouts in four innings.

The Yankees scored two runs (one earned) off Astros starter Jarred Cosart in the second inning and they added a pair of runs in the third off left-hander Darin Downs on Mark Teixeira’s first hit of the spring, a double, and Kelly Johnson’s first home run of the spring.

The Yankees added a pair of insurance runs in the seventh off right-hander Jake Buchanan on an RBI single by Scott Sizemore and an RBI fielder’s choice by Ramon Flores in which Astros first baseman Telvin Nash started to turn a double play but instead elected to throw home to get a sliding Yangervis Solarte.

But the throw was late and the Yankees extended their lead to 9-6.

The Yankees won their straight Grapefruit League game and are now 7-4. The Astros fell to 3-5.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The most encouraging sign for the Yankees was that Teixeira doubled to deep left batting right-handed. Teixeira, 33, was playing in only his second spring game after undergoing surgery to repair his right wrist. Teixeira was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
  • Johnson is quietly having an excellent spring with his new team. Johnson was 1-for-2 with a home run, a walk, a run scored and an RBI. Johnson is 5-for-14 (.357) with a homer and five RBIs. He also has not committed an error at third base in five starts, even though he has only played 16 major-league regular-season games there.
  • An injury last season stunted the development of Williams and some of his other fellow outfielders also stalled. That forced the Yankees into looking to sign veterans such as Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury to multi-year deals. Williams is showing signs of rebounding after lacing an RBI double in the second and adding a sac fly in the sixth. Williams is rated as the team’s No. 2 prospect behind catcher Gary Sanchez.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • With Nova it always seems to be a step forward and two steps back. Coming off a dominant three innings of shutout baseball on March 3 against the Washington Nationals, Nova was lit up like a bottle rocket from the first batter he faced. Granted, after giving up three runs on six hits in the first two frames, Nova did throw two scoreless innings in the third and fourth and yielded only two hits. His spring ERA shot up from 4.15 to 5.40.
  • Banuelos, 22, could not command his pitches, fell behind batters and paid the ultimate price when Carter launched a titanic three-run shot to left in the fifth. In Banuelos’ defense, he was never expected to make the roster this spring. The Yankees want him to build up his arm strength at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and work on his control. He will likely not fight for a starting job until 2015.
  • Eduardo Nunez is not guaranteed a roster spot and he needs to pick things up a bit. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts on Saturday. He is 4-for-17 (.235) with a homer and two RBIs this spring.

BOMBER BANTER

The Astros and Yankees welcomed University of Central Florida head football coach George O’Leary to Saturday’s game and he drew a huge round of applause from most of the paid crowd of 5,001. O’Leary led the Knights to a 12-1 record, including a 52-42 victory over No. 5 Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. By the way, UCF is my alma mater and I am darn proud of it!

ON DECK

The Yankees return to George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday as they will play host to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Right-hander David Phelps, who is 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two spring starts, will start for the Yankees. Derek Jeter, who has four hits in his past four at-bats, will start at shortstop.

The Rays are scheduled to pitch right-hander Chris Archer (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast live by the YES Network and on tape delay at midnight by the MLB Network.

 

Cano Collects 1,500th Hit, Homers To Spur Yankees

GAME 33

YANKEES 3, ROCKIES 1

With the Yankees limited in the amount of offense they can produce their pitching becomes even more important. On a day when their ace CC Sabathia could only go four innings because of a one hour and 59 minute rain delay, five relievers stepped up to shut down the Rockies in the final five innings.

Robinson Cano sparked the offense by collecting his 1,500th career hit before the rain delay and he extended the Yankees’ lead to 3-1 with a solo home run after the rain delay as New York took the three-game road series against Colorado in front of a rain-drenched paid crowd of 40,972 at Coors Field on Thursday.

Adam Warren (1-0), who came on in the fifth inning in relief of Sabathia, pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to get credit for his first major-league victory.

Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis (1-3), who gave up two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three in four innings, took the loss.

Mariano Rivera came on to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to post his 13th save in 13 chances this season. It is the longest consecutive save streak for Rivera since he saved his first 28 opportunities in 2008.

The Yankees took advantage of a one-out walk to Jayson Nix by Francis in the first inning to take an early lead.

Nix advanced to second on a slow bounce-out by Cano and he scored an RBI single by Vernon Wells, who was 5-for-12 (.417) with a homer and three RBIs in the series.

The Rockies tied it in the bottom of the inning when Troy Tulowitzki laced a one-out single to advance Dexter Fowler to third and Carlos Gonzalez launched a sacrifice fly to left that scored Fowler just ahead of the tag of catcher Chris Stewart on a perfect throw from left-field by Wells.

The Yankees reclaimed the lead in the fourth when former Rockie Chris Nelson led off with a double to left and Lyle Overbay advanced him to third on an infield groundout. Stewart then sent a deep fly ball to right-center that scored Nelson without a throw.

Then, as they have this entire series in Denver, the elements became downright nasty after Sabathia dispatched the Rockies in order in the bottom of the fourth. In fact, Sabathia retired the final 11 batters he faced before the long rain delay ended his outing early.

Sabathia gave up just the one run on one hit and a walk and he struck out two batters.

Right-hander Adam Ottavino replaced Francis in the top of the fifth after the rain delay and with two out Cano launched a 2-0 hanging breaking ball over the wall in right field for his ninth home run of the season and his 20th RBI, which both lead the team.

The Yankees bullpen took over from there.

Warren pitched a perfect fifth inning but walked Fowler and Tulowitzki in succession with two out in the sixth. But Boone Logan ended the threat by striking out Gonzalez swinging.

Rookie right-hander Preston Claiborne then ran into difficulty in the seventh with two out when Jordan Pacheco and Josh Rutledge hit back-to-back singles. However, David Robertson came in to strike out pinch-hitter Todd Helton swinging.

Robertson walked Young to begin the eighth and Young later stole second. But Robertson got out the inning by striking out Fowler, retiring Tulowitzki on an infield grounder and striking out Gonzalez swinging.

Rivera then closed out the ninth. The bullpen collectively gave up no runs on three hits and three walks while fanning three in five innings of work.

With the victory the Yankees improved to 20-13 to climb into a three-way tie with the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles for a share of first place in the American League East. The Rockies dropped to 19-15.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano entered the series 0-for-8 and was retired in his first at-bat before his milestone single off Francis in the third inning. Cano then got to Ottavino with his ninth home run of the season. Though the Yankees have been ravaged by injuries that have limited the offense, Cano has been providing solid production early in the season.
  • Wells also was 2-for-4 and he also drove in a run. He had three RBIs in the series and he has 16 overall. Manager Joe Girardi is going to be hard-pressed to find at-bats for Wells when Curtis Granderson returns this month, which is a shame because Wells looks like he has recaptured his old All-Star form at the plate.
  • Everyone knows what a weapon Rivera has been his entire career. But he is making in huge statement in what will be his final season. Rivera is perfect in saves and he has given up only three runs on 12 hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. His ERA is 1.88.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

You can’t complain about this one. After getting shut out on only four hits in the opener, the Yankees silenced a powerful Colorado offense in a hitters’ park by allowing just three runs on eight hits in the final two games. They just shut them down and won with timely hitting. They also took a share of first place. Bravo!

BOMBER BANTER

Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez was held out of a third straight game due to nagging tightness in his left ribcage. Heavy rain before the game prevented Nunez from being able to get on the field to work out and take some swings to test the injury. Girardi said he hopes Nunez might be available to play on Friday but he remains day-to-day.  . . .  Girardi did tell reporters that he believes reliever Joba Chamberlain will be activated on Tuesday when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. Chamberlain was sidelined with a mild right oblique strain.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their eight-game road trip in Kansas City with a weekend three-game series against the Royals.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (1-2, 3.60 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Hughes is coming off his best outing of the season on Saturday when he blanked the Oakland Athletics over eight innings on four hits while punched out nine batters. Hughes is 4-1 with a 5.51 ERA in his career against the Royals.

The Royals will counter with former Rays right-hander Wade Davis (2-2, 4.75 ERA). Davis held the Chicago White Sox to one run over six innings on Sunday but he did not get a decision. He is 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Unorthodox Yankees Push Rox Over Cliff In Ninth

GAME 32

YANKEES 3, ROCKIES 2

After watching Joe Girardi manage the Yankees on Wednesday night you are kind of left to wonder what he will do next. Will he alternate right-handed and left-handed pitchers by playing them in left-field? Will he have one of his pitchers pinch-run and attempt to steal a base? Or will he bat CC Sabathia in the cleanup spot on Thursday?

Girardi batted starting pitcher David Phelps in the eighth spot in the order and used outfielder Vernon Wells at third base in the ninth inning but somehow it all worked out for New York to edge Colorado in front of a paid  crowd of 40,148 at Coors Field.

Pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch narrowly beat out a infield grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to allow Wells to score the tie-breaking run and as the Yankees ended a two-game losing streak.

Wells led off the ninth with a ground ball deep in the hole at short. After Wells stole second, Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt (1-1) then walked Lyle Overbay.

Ichiro Suzuki laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Wells and Overbay into scoring position and the Rockies elected to walk Jayson Nix intentionally to load the bases.

Pinch-hitter Travis Hafner struck out. But Boesch followed with a ground ball to the left of third baseman Nolan Arenado. The rookie third baseman dove, got up and fired the ball to first but first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled Boesch safe on a close play that allowed the eventual game-winning run to score.

David Roberston (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to get credit for the victory.

Because Eduardo Nunez has been sidelined with tightness in his left ribcage and Girardi had elected to use Hafner to pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Nelson, Boesch stayed in the game in right-field, Suzuki shifted to left-field and the left-fielder Wells  –  who had never played a single inning at any level of baseball at third   –  played there in the ninth.

Wells even made a nice stop on a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez and threw him out at first to record the second out of the inning behind closer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera did give up a two-out single and a stolen base to Michael Cuddyer but he induced a routine flyout to center from Wilin Rosario to save his 12th game in as many chances.

The Yankees actually took an early lead in the game off right-hander Juan Nicasio when Wells hit a two-run homer to left with one out in the first inning.

The Rockies knotted it in the second when Rosario laced a one-out double to right-center and Todd Helton followed with a two-run blast of his own off Phelps that landed in the second deck in right-field.

Nicasio gave up two runs on two hits and one walk and struck out five in five innings.

Phelps, making only his second start of the season, pitched a brilliant six innings, surrendering two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out four batters.

Girardi elected to bat Phelps eighth and catcher Austin Romine ninth because he did not want to pinch-hit later in the game for Phelps with a left-handed hitter with left-handed hitters Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano to follow. Whatever the reasoning the result was a victory for Girardi and his Yankees.

The Yankees improved their season record to 19-13. The Rockies fell to 19-14.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Wells entered the game in a 3-for-23 (.130) slide over his past six games but stepped up with a 3-for-4 night with a homer, two singles, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBIs. Wells also played a flawless third base in the ninth to make Girardi look good. Wells, 34, is batting .287 this season with seven home runs and 15 RBIs.
  • Phelps was simply sensational in his second start. Other than the double by Rosario and Helton’s homer, Phelps held the Rockies to a two-out single by Josh Rutledge in the sixth inning and a one-out walk to Dexter Fowler in the third. He pitched to the minimum three batters in four of his six innings and he threw only 87 pitches.
  • The Yankees’ bullpen also was superb. Preston Claiborne posted another impressive 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout in the seventh and Robertson and Rivera each pitched a scoreless inning for the victory and the save, respectively. After not pitching well the first week of the season, the bullpen has been doing great work in the past month.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Girardi will never admit it but the injuries are really hurting the offense. After scratching out four hits and not scoring a run on Tuesday, the Yankees managed only six hits and scored three runs on Wednesday. They were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, which includes Wells’ homer and Boesch’s RBI single.
  • Cano is not helping the Yankees at all in this road series. In the first two games he is 0-for-8 with two strikeouts and he has only managed to get one ball out of the infield. Cano’s season average has dropped to a rather pedestrian .305 after he began May hitting .327.
  • The decision to bat Phelps eighth and Romine ninth really did not yield any results from them. Phelps struck out swinging twice and Romine also fanned swinging his first two at-bats and then he later grounded out. Though the Yankees won I am not sure Girardi will elect to have his pitcher bat eighth again.

BOMBER BANTER

Nunez felt tightness in his ribcage and was held out of Wednesday’s game and it is unlikely he will play on Thursday. Nunez sustained the injury on Sunday and has now missed a total of six games due to a series of injuries this season.  . . .  Right-hander Ivan Nova gave up two runs in four-plus innings in an extended spring training game in Tampa, FL, on Wednesday and said he felt much better than expected. Nova, 26, who is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps, yielded five hits and three walks while he struck five Toronto Blue Jay minor leaguers. Nova is hoping to be activated on May 13 but the Yankees have not set a date for his return.

ON DECK

The Yankees will attempt to win the three-game series with Colorado on Thursday.

Sabathia (4-3, 3.31 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia only gave up two runs on six hits in six innings against the Oakland Athletics on Friday but he took the loss because the Yankees did not score him any runs. In his career against the Rockies, Sabathia is 2-1 with a 5.97 ERA.

The Rockies will counter with left-hander Jeff Francis (1-2, 7.27 ERA). Francis surrendered four runs in five innings in a no-decision against the Rays on Friday. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 3.10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.