YANKEES, TWINS 3
Just six days ago the Yankees raised eyebrows when they called up 22-year-old first baseman Greg Bird. After the performance he put on Wednesday in place of the injured Mark Teixeira it is now clear just why they called him up.
Bird not only hit one two-run blast for his first Major-League home run, the rookie added another two-run homer that proved to be the game-winner as New York completed a sweep of Minnesota in front of a paid crowd of 38,066 at Yankee Stadium.
With right-hander Nathan Eovaldi pitching a perfect game through five innings, Bird provided him with some early support by connecting in the fourth inning on a 0-1 change-up from right-hander Ervin Santana and launching it into the second deck of the right-field bleachers to score Carlos Beltran, who had singled, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Eovaldi and the Yankees, it was not enough.
The Twins not only broke up the perfect game in the sixth inning. They also sent nine men to the plate and took the lead.
Chris Herrmann started the uprising with a one-out bloop single behind third base. Shane Robinson followed with a hard-hit single to left and Aaron Hicks advanced both base-runners on a groundout.
Eovaldi walked Brian Dozier to load the bases and Joe Mauer followed with a two-run single to right. Eovaldi then walked Miguel Sano to reload the bases and Trevor Plouffe scored Dozier on an infield roller between home plate and third base.
Santana was sailing despite giving up the two-run homer to Bird in the fourth. He held the Yankees to two runs on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts through 5 2/3 innings until he walked Beltran in the sixth inning.
That allowed Bird to come up to the plate. Santana threw him 1-0 fastball and Bird laced it on a high line drive into the Yankees bullpen in right-center to allow the Yankees to reclaim a 4-3 lead.
After Bird rounded the bases and headed into the dugout most of the Yankees fans were on their feet urging the rookie to take his first Yankee Stadium curtain call. After some fevered encouragement from his teammates, Bird came out to tip his cap to the crowd quickly.
“We’re just trying to win games here and anything I can do to help, that’s all I’m trying to do. Nothing more, nothing less,” Bird told reporters.
Eovaldi (13-2) ended up collecting his eighth victory in a row and he is undefeated his past 11 starts. He was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Santana (2-4) pitched 7 2/3 innings but took the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
With the Yankees bullpen without the services of Andrew Miller after he pitched in two consecutive games, left-hander Chasen Shreve and right-hander Dellin Betances combined to preserve the victory for Eovaldi by each pitching one scoreless inning.
Betances threw perfect ninth and struck out two batters to earn his eighth save of the season in 11 chances. His two strikeouts gave him 101 on the season and he became the first Yankees relief pitcher to ever strike out 100 or more batters in two consecutive seasons.
With the three-game sweep the Yankees also completed the season series with the Twins at 5-1. Since 2002, the Yankees have a record of 69-27 against the Twins – a .281 winning percentage for the Twins. That percentage is the worst in baseball for any team against any opponent (minimum 50 games).
The Yankees also also have won six of their past seven games and they are now 67-52 this season. Coupled with the loss by the second-place Toronto Blue Jays to the Philadelphia Phillies the Yankees have extended their lead in the American League East to two games.
The Twins fell to 59-61.
- I could tell when I saw Bird’s spring during the exhibition season that he was going to be something special. You can see why he has a combined minor-league average of .282 with 48 home runs in just over 1,200 at-bats. His swing is similar to former Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud and he might end up as a similar type of hitter. The question will be what do the Yankees do with Bird as long Teixeira is playing first base and Alex Rodriguez is the designated hitter?
- Eovaldi was simply lights out for five innings and then he ran into a lot of bad luck. Only one of the four hits was hit hard. But he did make things worse by walking Dozier and Sano. Now that Eovaldi is succeeding with his split-finger fastball, he is becoming a very good pitcher. Despite the great run support he has received, Eovaldi has earned his 13 victories.
- Betances stepped back into the closer’s role and did not miss a beat. If Betances had pitched better during spring training and early in the season, he would have likely been the closer. But you can’t argue with Miller’s 27 saves in 28 chances. Of the two I suspect teams fear Betances more. But they both are pretty devastating.
- Rodriguez ended an 0-for-18 slide on Tuesday with a grand slam home run that proved to be the game-winning hit. But on Wednesday it was back into a funk for the DH. He was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. His season average has now dipped to .259.
- John Ryan Murphy has been hitting well (.282) when he starts to give Brian McCann a rest. But Wednesday was not one of those days. He was 0-for-3 and struck out all three times.
Right-hander Michael Pineda will make a second rehab start on Friday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday. Pineda, 26, has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 30 with a right forearm strain. He is 9-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 19 starts. Girardi said the he hopes this will be Pineda’s final rehab start and they would to activate him before Sept. 1.
The Yankees will play host to the Cleveland Indians for a four-game weekend series that begins on Thursday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.57 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova defeated the Blue Jays on Friday, limiting them to three runs on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts in seven innings.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-1, 2.84 ERA) will be making only his second start of the season for the Indians coming off shoulder surgery. Tomlin yielded two runs on five hits with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Twins on Saturday.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 8, TWINS 4
Great Major-League players soar to amazing peaks and yet they also can sink to some really deep valleys. The valley Alex Rodriguez was in entering Tuesday’s game was approaching the width of the Grand Canyon, having not gotten a hit in 18 at-bats and riding a 3-for-39 slide until he came to the plate in the seventh inning.
All of that changed with one big swing.
Rodriguez laced a 1-0 fastball into the Yankees bullpen in right-center for his 25th career grand slam to lead New York to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Minnesota in front of 38,007 fans at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez’s 25th home run of the season and his first since his 40th birthday on July 27 came off right-hander T.J. Graham (0-1), who had inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam from left-hander Ryan O’Rourke.
O’Rourke entered the seventh protecting a 4-1 Twins lead but Chase Headley led off with a pinch-hit single and Brendan Ryan drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. One out later, O’Rourke also walked Brett Gardner on a 3-2 pitch to set the stage for Rodriguez’s heroics.
Rodriguez already had passed former Yankee great Lou Gehrig for the most career grand slams with No. 24 on Sept. 20, 2013 against the San Francisco Giants. No. 25 put the Yankees in the lead for the first time since the fourth inning and received a fevered request for a curtain call from the crowd, which Rodriguez obliged.
The Yankees added three more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning off Graham to pad their lead to four runs. Headley keyed the rally with a two-run double and Jacoby Ellsbury added an RBI single.
Rookie right-hander Nick Rumbelow (1-0), who was just called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier in the day, allowed an RBI single in the seventh but completed the inning by striking out Aaron Hicks to earn his first Major-League victory.
Left-hander Andrew Miller pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and struck out three to earn his 27th save in 28 chances this season.
The game began as a pitcher’s duel between Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia and Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
Sabathia opened the game by throwing 4 1/3 innings of perfect baseball and he held a 1-0 lead after a one-out ground-rule double in the fourth off the bat of Carlos Beltran and the first Major-League RBI on a single by Greg Bird, who was in the lineup replacing an injured Mark Teixeira.
However, Sabathia allowed a one-out free pass to Trevor Plouffe in the fifth. One out later, Eduardo Escobar singled to right and Kurt Suzuki followed with a double down the left-field line that scored Plouffe.
However, Escobar was thrown out at the plate on a perfect relay from Garder in left to shortstop Didi Gregorius to catcher Brian McCann, who tagged Escobar for the final out of the inning.
The game remained tied until the top of the seventh when Sabathia issued a leadoff walk to Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano hit his next offering into the first row of the left-field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season and his third against the Yankees.
After Sabathia retired the next two batters, Escobar and Suzuki chased him from the contest with a pair of singles. Shane Robinson then greeted Rumbelow with an RBI single that extended the Twins’ lead to 4-1.
Sabathia, 35, was charged with four runs on five hits and three walks and he struck out five batters in 6 2/3 innings. Sabathia has not won a game since July 8 at home against the Oakland Athletics, a stretch of six starts.
Pelfrey, 31, was charged with one run on five hits and one walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
The Yankees have rebounded from a five-game losing streak to have posted five victories in their past six games. They are now 66-52 on the season and they have maintained their one-game lead in the American League East over the second-place Toronto Blue Jays.
The Twins have fallen under .500 to 59-60.
- Sabathia did pitch well but the Yankees never seem to score runs until after he leaves the game. It happened again on Tuesday. Though Sabathia is 4-9 with a 5.23 ERA, he has a 3.38 ERA in his past three starts. He also pitched deep into the seventh inning on a night the Yankees needed length from their starter after rookie right-hander Bryan Mitchell left Monday’s game with a nasal fracture in the second inning.
- Rodriguez has always seemed to thrive on the big stage in the Bronx, NY, and he did again on Tuesday. It is not clear of his prolonged slump is over but he came up with a huge game-winning hit just when it was needed. With Teixeira nursing a bruised right shin the Yankees need Rodriguez to provide power and drive in runs. Though his season average has fallen to .261, he is second on the team in homers (25) and third in RBIs (67).
- Headley came off the bench in the seventh and provided a single that began the four-run uprising in the inning and then he added a two-run double in the eighth to extend the lead to 7-4. Since the All-Star break, Headley os batting .327 with one home run and 20 RBIs. His clutch hitting has been overshadowed by McCann, Teixeira, Rodriguez and Beltran but he has been producing a lot under the radar.
- Just as they did last night with right-hander Kyle Gibson, the Yankees allowed Pelfrey to lull their bats to sleep with a steady diet of breaking pitches. Fortunately for the Yankees, the Twins eventually have to use their bullpen and it is a powder keg just awaiting a spark. In the past two nights, the Yankees are 12-for-32 (.375) against Twins relievers and they scored 10 runs on them in seven innings.
The Yankees placed Mitchell, 24, on the seven-day concussion disabled list after he sustained a small nasal fracture on a line drive off the bat of Eduardo Nunez in the second inning of Monday’s 8-7 victory in 10 innings. In addition the Yankees also optioned right-hander Caleb Cotham, 27, to Scranton and recalled Rumbelow and selected the contract of left-hander Chris Capuano from the same club. Manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Tuesday that it is possible that Mitchell could pitch in seven days depending how his recovery goes. . . . Teixeira, 35, was held out the lineup on Tuesday with a sore right leg after he fouled a pitch off himself in the sixth inning on Monday. Both X-rays and a CT scan indicate Teixeira has a deep shin bone bruise. But Girardi said it is unlikely to result in Teixeira being placed on the disabled list. Bird, 22, started in his place on Tuesday and was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
The Yankees can sweep the Twins in their three-game home series with a victory on Wednesday.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (12-2, 4.26 ERA) will start for the Yankees riding an eight-game winning streak. Eovaldi yielded four runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings in a victory against the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.
The Twins will counter with veteran right-hander Ervin Santana (2-3, 5.66 ERA). Santana, 32, was rocked for five runs on eight hits and two walks in six innings in a no-decision against the Texas Rangers on Friday.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 4, ROYALS 2
If winning games is fun then the New York Yankees’ charter plane to Cleveland must be a barrel of laughs.
Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells each homered and drove in two runs and Hiroki Kuroda pitched into the eighth inning as the New York swept the three-game series against Kansas City and extended their winning steak to five games in front of 29,515 fans at Kauffman Stadium.
Kuroda (5-2) collected his third victory in his past four outings, limiting the Royals to two runs on six hits and one walk while he struck out one batter in 7 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Cano gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the day in the third inning.
With the Yankees trailing 1-0, Chris Stewart stroked a one-out single to left and, one batter later, Cano connected with the first offering from Royals right-hander Ervin Santana (3-2) on a two-run blast into the bleachers in right-field for his 10th home run of the season.
Cano was using a pink bat as part of Major League Baseball effort to bring awareness on Mother’s Day for breast cancer research and an eventual cure.
Right after Cano gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead, Wells laced a 1-0 fastball from Santana down the line into the left-field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season.
Wells added another run for the Yankees in the fifth. Brett Gardner slapped a one-out opposite-field double to left. One out later, Wells singled to left to plate Gardner.
Santana gave up four runs on eight hits and he fanned four in 6 1/3 innings.
The Royals scored both their runs off Kuroda on the strength of leadoff doubles.
Jarrod Dyson led off the first inning with a double down the right-field line and he advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Alcides Escobar. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon.
Elliot Johnson led off the eighth with a double off the wall in right-center. He advanced to third on a flyout to deep center by Dyson and he scored on an infield groundout off the bat of Escobar.
After the Royals drew to within two runs, Gordon doubled off Kuroda. Manager Joe Girardi replaced Kuroda with right-hander David Robertson, who retired Billy Butler on a routine flyout to end the Royals’ threat.
Mariano Rivera came in to pitch a scoreless ninth to save his 14th game in 14 tries this season and it was his 28th consecutive save against the Royals, which dates back to the 1998 season.
With the victory the Yankees are now 22-9 since April 7 and they remain in first place in the American League East one game in front of the Baltimore Orioles with a 22-13 season mark. The Royals, who have now lost six of their past seven games, are now 18-16.
- Cano is way ahead of his home-run pace of 2012, a year in which he set a career high with 33 home runs. Cano leads the team in batting (.311), runs scored (22), doubles (10), home runs (10) and RBIs (23).
- Wells hit only nine home runs in 77 games with the Los Angels Angels last season. Wells is second on the club in batting (.295), runs scored (19), home runs (9) and RBIs (20).
- Kuroda pitched another gem to become the first Yankee starter to win five games. Kuroda also leads all Yankee starters in ERA (2.31) and Walks To Innings Pitched (WHIP) (1.05).
- Though the Yankees’ No. 9 through No. 4 hitters were a combined 9 for 19 (.474), the No. 5 through No. 8 hitters were a combined 0-for-16 against Santana and relievers Tim Collins and Greg Holland.
- Third baseman Chris Nelson was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and since he has joined the Yankees on May 4 he is 5-for-29 (.172) with no home runs and two RBIs in eight games.
- Jayson Nix was 4-for 6 with two walks in the first two games of the series but on Sunday he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. When he did reach base on a two-base throwing error by Mike Moustakas in the fourth inning he was doubled up off second after Nelson lined out on a diving catch by Dyson in center-field.
The Yankees on Sunday elected to place shortstop Eduardo Nunez (left ribcage tightness) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 6 and he will be eligible to activated on May 20. To replace Nunez on the roster the Yankees bought the contract of infielder Alberto Gonzalez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Gonzalez, 30, previously played for the Yankees from 2006 through 2007 after being acquired as part of the Randy Johnson trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last week in a trade for a player to be named later. He is career .241 hitter and also has played with with the Nationals, Padres and Rangers. . . . Right-hander Ivan Nova experienced discomfort in his right side while throwing at the team’s complex in Tampa, FL, and he will not be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. Nova, who has been on the disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps, was being considered for a start in the team’s doubleheader on Monday. It is unclear how long Nova will remain on the DL. . . . Reliever Joba Chamberlain three 30 pitches in a bullpen session at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday and he is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league rehab game for Scranton on Tuesday. Chamberlain has been on the disabled list since April 28 with a right oblique strain. . . . Chamberlain and Rivera apologized to each other on Sunday after a intense shouting match erupted between the two on Saturday. Rivera was conducting an interview with reporters in the dugout during batting practice while Chamberlain apparently was shouting up to family members in the stands. Rivera asked Chamberlain to be quiet and Chamberlain took exception to it. Both players said it was an exchange in the heat of the moment and all has been forgiven.
The red-hot but limping Yankees will be in Cleveland on Monday for day-night doubleheader as part of a makeup of two rained out games against the Indians on May 10 and May 11.
The Yankees will open the doubleheader with right-hander David Phelps (1-1, 5.02 ERA). Phelps, 26, is coming off a six-inning no-decisoon against the Colorado Rockies in which he yielded two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out four. Phelps is making his third start of the season but he has never faced the Indians.
The Indians will counter with ace right-hander Justin Masterson (5-2. 3.67 ERA). Masterson is 2-2 with a 5.91 in his past five starts after starting the season 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA. Masterson is 3-3 with a 3,00 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 12:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
Rookie left-hander Vidal Nuno (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his first major-league start in the second game. Nuno, 25, has pitched only once for the Yankees, tossing three shutout innings against the Houston Astros on April 29. Nuno was 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts at Scranton before he was recalled on April 28.
Nuno will be opposed by right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.78 ERA). Bauer is being called up from Triple-A Columbus to make this start. He is 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in four outings at Columbus.
Game-time will be determined and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 3, ROYALS 2
A pitcher losing command of one of his best pitches is like a skilled surgeon trying to work without a scalpel. But that is what happened to Andy Pettitte in his two previous starts. He did not have a feel for his signature cutter.
But he certainly rediscovered it on Saturday as he pitched seven strong innings and struck out seven batters while Vernon Wells backed him up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead as New York edged Kansas City in front of 30,910 fans at Kauffman Stadium.
Pettitte (4-2) settled into a groove after allowing Billy Butler to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with a leadoff home run to center-field. After that Pettitte gave up a two-out single to Alcides Escobar and walked Lorenzo Cain in the fifth. But he ended that threat by retiring Alex Gordon on a groundout.
The 40-year-old left-hander gave up two runs on five hits and walk and retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced to pick up his first victory since April 19.
Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of a big mistake by James Shields (2-3) to take control of the game.
Shields hit Chris Stewart on the left triceps on a 1-2 pitch as Stewart led off the fifth. Two batters later, Wells ripped a 3-1 fastball into the left-field seats for his eighth home run of the season that gave the Yankees a lead they would not surrender the rest of the way.
Shields gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks and he fanned five in eight innings of work.
David Robertson pitched in the eighth and struck out the side for the Yankees.
Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and gave up a two-out double to Salvador Perez. But he retired Mike Moustakas on a flyout to Wells in left to earn his 14th save in as many chances this season.
The save for Rivera was also the 70th time in his career he has saved a game started by Pettitte, which is the most for any starter and closer tandem in major-league history.
The Yankees actually took advantage of an error on a throwing error by Moustakas in the third inning to take an early 1-0 lead.
Chris Nelson opened the inning by lacing a double down the left-field line. Two outs later, Robinson Cano slapped a bouncing ball to the left of Moustakas. The Royals’ third baseman dove, got up and threw high and wide of first base to allow Nelson to score from second.
The Royals manufactured a run of off Pettitte in bottom of the third to tie it.
Elliot Johnson reached on a swinging bunt down the third-base line and he later stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout off the bat of Cain.
The Yankees extended their current winning streak to four games and they are now 14-4 this season in games decided by two runs or less.
The victory also allowed the Yankees to claim full possession of first place in the American League East with a record of 22-13. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are a full game out in second place. The Royals, who have now lost five of their past six games, are 18-15.
- In his last two starts, Pettitte was hammered for 11 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits and five walks in 9 1/3 innings. On Saturday, he looked more like the pitcher who was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA before those two dreadful outings. Pettitte had command of the cutter and he mixed his curve and slider to keep the Royals’ batters off balance all evening. The Yankees’ top four starters, Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, and Phil Hughes, are a combined 14-9 this season.
- Wells was 0-for-5 in Friday’s 11-run, 16-hit explosion against the Royals but he bounced back nicely in this game. Wells is currently second on the team with a .281 batting average and has eight home runs and 18 RBIs on the season. It is going to be difficult for manager Joe Girardi to bench him when Curtis Granderson is activated form the disabled list this month.
- Robertson came out the bullpen firing seeds in the eighth inning. Robertson needed only 12 pitches to strike out Escobar and Cain looking and Gordon swinging. In his past four outings, Robertson has not give up a run or a hit and he has walked one while striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings.
How can you complain when the team got a great effort out of Pettitte and the bullpen? Wells hit a timely home run and the Yankees took sole possession of first place. Who said this team would be awful because of all of the injuries they suffered? Not me.
Shortstop Eduardo Nunez missed his sixth straight game because he was unable to shake nagging discomfort in his left ribcage and the Yankees may have to place him on the 15-day disabled list if he is unable to play by Monday’s doubleheader in Cleveland against the Indians. Nunez told trainer Steve Donohue on Saturday that he still is feeling pain when he is doing fielding drills.
The Yankees can use their big broom and sweep the Royals in the three-game series finale on Sunday.
Kuroda (4-2, 3.20 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Kuroda, 38, limited the Colorado Rockies to two runs on seven hits in seven innings but took the loss on Tuesday because the Yankees were blanked. The veteran right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in his career against Kansas City.
The Royals will start former Angels right-hander Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.36 ERA). Santana surrendered three runs on seven hits and one walk in six innings of a no-decision against the Orioles on Tuesday. He is 5-6 with a 5.90 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5
Throughout their three-game series with the Angels the Yankees have banging their heads against a wall in trying to get hits at the wall off outfielders Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos. It took them three games but they found an answer.
Raul Ibanez laced a one-out triple over Boujos’ head and off the wall for a triple and Nick Swisher followed a sacrifice fly to Trout in left that scored Ibanez with the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning and New York held on to edge Los Angeles on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
Earlier in the game, the Yankees torched Angels starter Ervin Santana with five runs in the third inning as Curtis Granderson smacked a three-run home run safely over the wall in right field for his 16th home run of the season. Robinson Cano followed two batters later with a two-run shot of his own – again nowhere near the gloves of the Angels’ outfielders.
Staked to the 5-1 lead, Yankees starter Ivan Nova was unable to hold it for long. The Angels struck for four runs of their own in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Trumbo and a two-run double by Trout.
But Nova (6-2) was able to complete 6 2/3 innings and pick up the victory, giving up five runs on eight hits and and three walks and striking out two batters.
Santana left after five innings, also surrendering five runs on six hits and two walks and fanning four.
Reliever Hisanori Takahashi (0-2) took the loss as the Yankees snapped the Angels’ season-high eight-game winning streak.
Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth by giving up a one-out walk to Alberto Callaspo and a single to Albert Pujols. But he was able to get Trumbo to fly out to left to end the game and earn his sixth save in as many opportunities.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 27-23. The Angels fell back to .500 at 26-26.
- Ibanez was 2-for-4 on the night, including his clutch triple off Takahashi in the sixth. Ibanez was 4-for-11 (364), drove in a run and scored three in the series. Ibanez is hitting .288 in May with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He also has held his own in the outfield even though the Yankees do miss Brett Gardner’s defense.
- Swisher’s sac fly must have been some form of retribution for him for the out-and-out thievery that Trout and Bourjos pulled on him on Tuesday. Despite going only 2-for-11 (.182) in the series, Swisher was able to drive in a run in each of the three games and he now has a team-leading 32 on the season.
- Cory Wade redeemed himself after giving up that walk-off game-winning home run to Trumbo in the ninth on Monday. He retired all four batters he faced and struck out three of them. He came on the seventh after Boone Logan had surrendered two-out singles to Kendrys Morales and Trumbo. Wade struck out Howie Kendrick on a 3-2 pitch to strand his 21st and 22nd inherited runners of the season. Wade has not allowed a single inherited runner to score this season.
- Though Nova was the winning pitcher he is still having trouble keeping the baseball in the yard. The home run Trumbo hit in the fourth was the 13th he has allowed this season in 10 starts. Nova succeeded in this game by wriggling out of trouble. He loaded the bases with no one out in the first but gave up just one run on a sac fly by Trumbo. He also benefitted from some good defense behind him by Cano and two double plays got him out the third and fifth innings.
- Eric Chavez had a rough night. He went o-for-4 including hitting into a double play, a strikeout and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Chavez ended April with a .321 average but he is struggling mightily at the plate on the May. He is hitting .213 with no home runs and four RBIs this month.
- The Yankee offense took a long siesta after Cano’s home run in the third inning built their 5-1 bulge. For the rest of the game the Yankees were 1-for-21 (.048) and the one hit was Ibanez’s well-timed triple. By contrast the Angels were 10-for-27 (.370) after the third inning. It is a miracle the Yankees pulled the game out.
The Yankees will take Thursday off as they head to Detroit to continue their nine-game road trip by starting a three-game weekend series with the Tigers on Friday.
The Yankees will call upon ace left-hander CC Sabathia (6-2, 3.66 ERA). Sabathia is coming off a two-run, seven-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. He is 16-12 with a 4.46 ERA in his career against the Tigers, including the eight innings of two-run ball he threw at them for a victory on April 29.
The Tigers, meanwhile, lost starter Doug Fister to injury and they called up left-hander Casey Crosby from Triple-A Toledo to make a start. Crosby, 23, was 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA at Toledo. This will be his major-league debut.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 5, ANGELS 0
Of all the Japanese starting pitchers who have come to America to play Major League Baseball, Hiroki Kuroda owns the lowest career ERA of any pitcher with at least 12 starts at 3.45. On Friday afternoon, in the Yankees’ home opener in the Bronx, the Angels found out why.
Kuroda (1-1) scattered five hits – all of them singles – walked two and struck out six batters in 8-plus innings and Nick Swisher provided him all the support he really needed with a two-out, bases-clearing double in the first inning as New York shut out Los Angeles before a sellout crowd of 49,386 at Yankee Stadium.
Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez added solo home runs off Angels starter Ervin Santana (0-2) as the Yankees collected their 14th victory in their last 15 home openers (three of the last four in the new ballpark).
Rodriguez’s home run in the fourth inning was his first of the season and the 630th of his career, which ties him with his former Mariners teammate Ken Grifffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list.
On a day when the Yankees and their fans honored retired catcher Jorge Posada as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch, Kuroda dazzled Albert Pujols and the Angels in his home debut with the Yankees.
After giving up a leadoff infield single to Bobby Abreu in the ninth, Kuroda left the mound to a loud and thunderous ovation from the crowd. David Robertson got the last three outs to complete the shutout.
After beginning the season 0-3, the Yankees have now won four in a row. The Angels are 2-5 on the young season.
- For as bad as Kuroda pitched against the Rays last week, his performance on Friday was a welcome sight. Of the 109 pitches Kuroda threw, 71 were strikes (65%) and he threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 29 batters he faced. He ended up in only 3 three-ball counts and he walked two of them. The 37-year-old right-hander just might be what the Yankees need as a No. 2 starter.
- Swisher came into the game having ended the Yankees’ 10-inning 6-4 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards on Wednesday with a two-run home run. He delivered the big blow in the first inning on Friday after Rodriguez stroked a two-out single and Santana walked Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Swisher slapped a hanging breaking pitch to the wall in right-center that cleared the bases. Swisher now leads the Yankees in RBIs with nine.
- Rodoriguez seemed to shake out of his early-season funk with three hits, including the home run, and he even stole his second base of the season. A-Rod entered the contest hitting .174 and raised his average to .259. The Yankees had been the only team in the majors in which their No. 3 and No. 4 hitters did not have an RBI. Rodriguez’s homer in the fourth ended that drought.
- Cano made a sensational diving stop of a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Abreu in the sixth inning and threw him out easily at first base. Cano was also on the pivot of three double plays that helped Kuroda keep the Angels off the scoreboard all afternoon.
I could quibble and say the Yankees were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position but when you score five runs, play good defense and your starter goes eight shutout innings there is not much negative to say. It was a wonderful home opener.
Manager Joe Girardi opted to flip-flop Rodriguez and Cano in the batting order on Friday. Rodriguez, a right-handed batter, hit third and Cano, a left-hander, batted fourth. Girardi said this would the order in which they would bat against right-handed starters. The change was made to make it difficult for left-handed relievers to navigate the lineup in the late innings. Manager Joe Maddon of the Rays used his left-handed relievers to pitch to Curtis Granderson in the second spot and Cano in the third spot and then brought in a right-hander to face Rodriguez. By switching Rodriguez to third managers can’t do that without having the left-hander pitch to Rodriguez. . . . When Robertson got the final three outs of the game he extended the bullpen’s scoreless streak to 16 1/3 innings. The bullpen entered play on Friday with a 2.11 ERA, the second best in baseball.
The Yankees will continue their three-game home-opening series with the Angels on Saturday.
Right-hander Phil Hughes (0-1, 3.86 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Yankees. Hughes had his old velocity back in his initial start against the Rays but he ended up having to leave the game after 4 2/3 innings having thrown 99 pitches. Hughes is 3-1 with a 6.20 ERA against the Angels in his career.
He will be opposed by left-hander C.J. Wilson (1-0, 1.29 ERA), who gave up one run on three hits and four walks in seven innings against the Twins on Sunday. He is 0-3 with a 3.80 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be nationally telecast by FOX Sports.
YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 4 (10 INNINGS)
If ever Nick Swisher needed redemption it was on Wednesday night and he could not have picked a better moment for it.
After Swisher had struck out looking on a 3-2 pitch with one out and a runner at third in the eighth inning he launched a two-run home run in the 10th inning that broke a 4-4 tie and New York went on to sweep Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Swisher’s blast came off Orioles right-hander Kevin Gregg (0-1). Rafael Soriano (1-0) pitched a scoreless 1 1/3 innings of relief to earn the victory. Mariano Rivera came in to close out the Orioles in the 10th to earn his second save in as many nights.
For the second consecutive night, the two teams ended up in extra innings as the Yankees got a two-out, opposite-field single from Curtis Granderson in the seventh inning to tie the game up. Earlier in the game, Granderson had given the Yankees an early 2-0 lead with a two-run home run in the first inning off Orioles starter Jake Arrieta.
However, CC Sabathia surrendered that lead in the second inning when Robert Andino touched him for a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded in the second inning.
Three innings later, Sabathia was given a 3-2 lead when Derek Jeter grounded out with the bases loaded to score Raul Ibanez with the tie-breaking run.
But, once again, Sabathia ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. After singles by J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones, Mark Reynolds stroked a two-out, two-run double to score both runners and the Orioles reclaimed the lead until the Yankees tied it and sent the game into extra innings.
With the victory, the Yankees evened their season record at 3-3. The hard-luck Orioles fell to 3-3 with the loss.
- Swisher’s second home run of the season was certainly heart-warming after he had failed so miserably to score runner from third in the eighth inning. But it also erased a bad play from Eduardo Nunez in that same 10th inning. With one out, Nunez had singled and he was on second with Mark Teixeira batting when he was picked off first base by catcher Matt Wieters. Teixeira managed to hit a bloop opposite field double off Gregg and Swisher erased his bad at-bat and Nunez’s brain cramp with a long blast into the bleachers in right-center.
- The Yankees’ bullpen again was again stellar. Sabathia was unable to give the Yankees a long outing for which they were hoping. Instead he left after six innings after having thrown 112 pitches. But Boone Logan, Soriano and Rivera combined to shut out the O’s on two hits and two walks and struck out four in four innings of work.
- Granderson drove in three runs after having gone 2-for-5 with a home run and a single. Granderson entered the game with a .150 average and had no home runs and no RBIs.
- Robinson Cano turned in a dazzling defensive play in the bottom of the eighth inning. Wieters bounced a grounder up the middle for what looked like would be a single. But Cano ranged to his right to scoop it and he threw off-balance to first base to get Wieters by six strides. The fact that Cano did not win his second Gold Glove last season was a crime.
- Though I am not worried about Sabathia in the long-term, it is still troubling that Sabathia recorded his second straight subpar performance. He gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks, although he did fan eight batters over six innings. Sabathia’s early ERA is at 6.75 but you still have to credit him for battling to keep the Yankees in the game.
- Nunez entered the game as a pinch-runner for Alex Rodrigiuz in the eighth and stole a base. He was later stranded at third when Russell Martin struck out to end the inning. Nunez, however, remains a butcher in the field. Nunez went in to play third base and promptly made a bad throw to first on Ronny Paulino grounder. Fortunately, Teixeira saved him an error by catching the ball and tagging Paulino before he reached the bag. Girradi wisely replaced Nunez with former six-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez in the 10th.
- Though the Yankees were 4-for-10 with runners in scoring position, they still keep failing to get big hits when they have runners on base – particularly with two outs. The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth and they promptly made three consecutive outs, though one run did score on a Jeter groundout. They also failed to push any runs across with runners in scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Yankees entered the game with a bullpen in tatters because David Phelps and David Robertson were unavailable to pitch and the Yankees were unsure whether Soriano would be able to throw because of a cracked fingernail on the middle finger of his right pitching hand. In addition, Rivera had pitched the past two days and his availability was unclear. Because Sabtahia was pitching and the Yankees had an off day on Thursday, they elected not call up another pitcher from Triple-A. Aa result, manager Joe Girardi shifted Phil Hughes into the bullpen just in case he was needed.
The Yankees get a well-deserved day off today and they will host their 110th home opener on Friday against the Los Angeles Angels.
Fan favorite Jorge Posada will be honored and he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium.
Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (0-1, 6.35 ERA) will make his home debut for the Yankees coming off a disappointing road debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. Kuroda gave up six runs (four earned) and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He is 1-2 with a 2.45 ERA in his carer against the Angels.
Kuroda will be opposed by right-hander Ervin Santana (0-1, 7.94 ERA), who struggled in his first start of 2012 also. He gave up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits against the Royals on Sunday. He is 5-5 with a 5.55 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.