Tagged: ESPN2

Suzuki Shoots Down Rangers With Walk-Off Blast

GAME 76

YANKEES 4, RANGERS 6

Two things pretty much describe what has happened with the 2013 New York Yankees: They rarely hit home runs and they have not won a game in the bottom of the ninth inning all season. Well, the Yankees hit four solo home runs and the last one gave them a walk-off victory on Tuesday.

Ichiro Suzuki connected on a 1-2 fastball from right-hander Tanner Scheppers for a lined shot that easily cleared the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center with two out in the ninth as New York brought a paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 41,674 to its feet by defeating Texas.

Suzuki’s fourth home run of the season was only his second walk-off homer of his career. His first came on April 4, 2012 as a member of the Seattle Mariners against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Rivera (1-1) pitched a scoreless ninth inning to get credit for his first victory of the season.

Scheppers (5-1) was saddled with his first defeat of the season.

The game started as a battle between a pair of former Japanese baseball stars both born in Osaka. It was only the 11th time in major-league history two Japanese pitchers have faced each other and the second time for the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda and the Rangers’ Yu Darvish.

The Rangers struck first in the third inning off Kuroda when Leonys Martin lined a 2-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers with one out in the inning.

They added an unearned run in the fourth when an throwing error by David Adams on a ball off the bat of Adrian Beltre and singles by A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman loaded the bases with one out and Mitch Moreland’s slow-rolling fielder’s choice grounder allowed Beltre to score.

The Yankees halved the lead when Travis Hafner blasted his 12th homer of the season, a high-arcing shot that landed in the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center to lead off the fourth inning.

But the Rangers added a run in the fifth when Martin connected for his second home run of the game and his fifth of season to start the frame.

But the Yankees got that run back when Brett Gardner slammed his season-high tying seventh homer of the season deep into the right-field bleachers to start the bottom of the fifth.

Jayson Nix set up the eventual victory with only second homer of the season into the bleachers in left to lead off the sixth.

Darvish, who was less than sharp, was tagged for three runs on seven hits and two walks while he struck six batters in 5 1/3 innings. It was only his second start of less than six innings this season.

Meanwhile, Kuroda yielded three runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk while fanning six in 6 2/3 innings.

With the dramatic victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 42-34 and they remain percentage points ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in second place in the American League East. They also are just 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox and one game back in the loss column.

The Rangers fell to 44-33.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Hafner was 2-for-4 including his solo home run. He entered the game hitting .217 but he is beginning to come around a bit at the plate. In his past six games he is 6-for-24 (.250) with two home runs and five RBIs. He has at least one hit in five of those six games.
  • Suzuki was 2-for-5 with his walk-off shot and it was his second home run in the past week. He hit a home run and drove in three runs on June 19 against the Los Angeles Angels in 6-4 victory. Suzuki is batting .299 in June and has raised his season average to .270.
  • After Kuroda gave up a second home run to Martin in the fifth, Kuroda and relievers Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rivera retired 14 of the final 17 batters they faced and struck out five. Good starting pitching and a very good bullpen is keeping the Yankees afloat in the division this season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • With the Yankees without the services of third basemen Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis, Adams is struggling to recapture the stroke that had him hitting .295 with two home runs and five RBIs in his first 11 games. Since then he is 4-for-46 (.087) with no homers and four RBIs. He was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk on Tuesday. He is hitting .185.
  • Lyle Overbay had a night to forget. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and left a total of five runners on base. He has not delivered a hit in his last nine at-bats and his season average has slipped to .239.
  • Rookie Zoilo Almonte proved he is human. He was 0-for-4, which ended his four-game hitting streak. He is still 7-for-16 (.438) with a home run and four RBIs in his first six games. Manager Joe Girardi has temporarily benched left-fielder Vernon Wells in order to let the rookie play.

BOMBER BANTER

Rodriguez drew the ire of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman after he sent out a Tweet on Tuesday indicating that his hip surgeon had cleared him to begin playing minor-league rehab games. Cashman responded angrily by telling ESPNNewYork.com:  “You know what, when the Yankees want to announce something, [we will]. Alex should just shut the [expletive] up. That’s it. I’m going to call Alex now.”  . . . Meanwhile, the Yankees are fearing the worst in sending first baseman Mark Teixeira to specialist on Tuesday to look at his ailing right wrist. Teixeira’s wrist did not respond as the team had hoped to a cortisone injection last week. Season-ending surgery is a very real possibility. Teixeira has hit .151 with three home runs and 12 RBIs in 15 games this season.  . . .  The Yankees elected to keep right-hander Ivan Nova on the roster after his impressive start against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday. They are not sure what his role will be but Nova will stay nonetheless. The Yankees currently have 14 pitchers on the roster, leaving them only three bench players.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Rangers on Wednesday.

Andy Pettitte (5-5, 4.20 ERA) will start for the Yankees. The 41-year-old left-hander was raked for nine hits and five runs in 6 2/3 innings against the Rays on Thursday. He is 6-6 with a 4.53 ERA in the past 10 seasons against the Rangers.

The Rangers will counter with right-hander Justin Grimm (6-5, 5.57 ERA). Grimm allowed three runs on three hits in five innings to win his sixth game of the season against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday. The rookie has never faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by the YES Network.

 

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Rainout Forces Yankees-Dodgers Doubleheader

GAME 70

YANKEES VS. DODGERS (Postponed Rain)

Heavy rain on Tuesday prevented the start of what would have been the opening game between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Yankee Stadium.

It would have been the Dodgers’ first appearance in the Bronx since the 1981 World Series and the first visit for Dodgers manager Don Mattingly to the new stadium.

The game has been rescheduled as part of a day-night, split-admission doubleheader for Wednesday.

BOMBER BANTER

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman announced on Tuesday that corner infielder Kevin Youkilis has been scheduled to undergo surgery for a herniated disc in his back and he will be sidelined for a minimum of 10 to 12 weeks. The procedure will be performed Thursday by Dr. Robert Watkins in Marina Del Ray, CA. Youkilis, 34, played in just 28 games this season after signing a one-year, $12 million contract in January. He was batted .219 with two home runs and eight RBIs. The Yankees’ immediate options to replace Youkilis at third base include Jayson Nix, David Adams and Reid Brignac until Alex Rodriguez is cleared to return after rehabbing from hip surgery. But Cashman said the team will be open to “other options.”  . . .  The Yankees also placed first baseman Mark Teixeira on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and designated right-hander Chris Bootcheck for assignment and recalled right-hander Adam Warren and selected the contract of outfielder Zoilo Almonte from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Teixeira complained about his right wrist and left Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth inning. He was sent to New York on Sunday and an MRI indicated inflammation in the wrist. He was administered a cortisone shot and the Yankees placed him on the disabled list in order to allow him to rest the wrist. Manager Joe Girardi said he is absolutely sure that Teixeira will be back in 15 days. In the meantime, Almonte, who just turned 24 on June 10, gives the Yankees a switch-hitting outfielder. He was hitting .297 with six home runs and 38 RBIs for the RailRiders this season. Warren was only sent out because the team needed a pitcher for the series against the Angels after Warren pitched six innings during their 18-inning loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday. Warren, 26, is 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA in 12 games with the Yankees this season. Bootcheck, 35, pitched two innings against the Angels on Friday and gave up one run on two hits and two walks in two innings of relief.

ON DECK

The Yankees have shifted their pitching plans for Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Former Dodger Hiroki Kuroda (6-5, 2.78 ERA) will face the Dodgers for the first time since he left them as a free agent after the 2011 season. Kuroda earned a no-decision after giving up just two runs on two hits and two walks in eight innings against the Athletics last Thursday. He won 41 games in his four seasons with the Dodgers.

Kuroda will be opposed by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2, 2.85 ERA). Ryu was roughed up against the Arizona Diamondbacks last Wednesday, yielding three runs on 11 hits in six innings. Ryu has never faced the Yankees.

In the second game, Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Hughes has been up and down all season and his start last Wednesday against the A’s was a downer. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings and he gave up three runs on four hits and five walks. Hughes has never faced the Dodgers.

The Dodgers are activating left-hander Chris Capuano (1-4, 5.45 ERA) from the 15-day D.L. to pitch against the Yankees. Capuano, 34, was sidelined with a lat strain in his left shoulder and has not pitched since he gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Angels on May 29. He is 0-2 with a 10.61 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time for the first game is 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

Game-time for the second game will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by MY9.

 

Cano 5 RBIs Key Another Yankee Clubbing Of Tribe

GAME 8

YANKEES 14, INDIANS 1

Robinson Cano entered Tuesday’s game against the Cleveland Indians owning the highest opposing batting average at Progressive Field of players with a minimum of 50 at-bats at .358. After the game, Cano’s average at the stadium went into the stratosphere.

Cano went 4-for-6 with two doubles and a home run and drove in five runs as New York unleashed a torrent of five home runs to back another solid effort from Andy Pettitte to destroy Cleveland for the second straight evening.

The Yankees jumped on Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco (0-1) for four runs after two were out in the second inning, keyed by a two-run single by Brett Gardner and a a two-run double by Cano.

They added a run with two out in the third inning when Ichiro Suzuki cranked his first home run of the season.

Carrasco, as was his pattern all night, got into even more trouble with two out in the fourth when he walked Gardner and Cano followed with a mammoth opposite-field blast into the left-field bleachers to extend the Yankees’ lead to 7-0.

On Aug. 1, 2011, Carrasco drew a six-game suspension and a fine for an incident in which he threw at the head of the Royals’ Billy Butler after Melky Cabrera blasted a grand-slam homer off of him.

On Tuesday, Carrasco’s first pitch after Cano’s home run struck Kevin Youkilis in the left shoulder. Home plate umpire Jordan Baker immediately sprung from behind home plate and ejected Carrasco.

Carrasco left after giving up seven runs on seven hits and two walks and he registered two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

The seven-run cushion was more than enough support for Pettitte (2-0).

The 40-year-old left-hander pitched seven solid innings, giving up only a solo home run to Asdrubal Cabrera to lead off the sixth inning. Pettitte gave up only the one run on five hits and three walks while he fanned three.

Meanwhile, the Yankees showed no mercy on Indians’ pitching by pounding reliever Brett Myers for seven runs on 11 hits over the remaining 5 1/3 innings. Included in those hits was a two-run home run from Youkilis in the sixth, a solo home run by Lyle Overbay in the seventh and a two-run pinch-hit home run by Brennan Boesch in the seventh.

For Overbay and Boesch it was their first home runs of the season and their first as members of the Yankees.

In their past three games, the Yankees have outscored their opposition 32-7.

The victory evened the Yankees’ season mark at 4-4. The Indians dropped to 3-5.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano has had a nice week in just two games in Cleveland. He is 7-for-10 with two singles, three doubles, three home runs, six runs scored and seven RBIs in the series so far. He has raised his season average to .303 and it does not appear that batting second is adversely affecting him.
  • After scuffling in the first seven games, Gardner broke out of his funk to go 4-for-5 with a walk, two doubles, two singles, three runs scored and two RBIs. Gardner entered the  game hitting .167. He and Cano combined for eight of the team’s 18 hits and they drove in seven runs at the top of the order.
  • Pettitte was cruising and likely would have won without all the run support. In his first two outings, Pettitte has given up just two runs on 13 hits and four walks while fanning seven in 15 innings. His ERA is a tidy 1.20 and his WHIP is an excellent 1.13. Does anyone really think he is too old to still be pitching?

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Why quibble with negatives after this team, which many people wrote off after they lost four of their first five games, has won its past three games in routs and has pounded out 44 hits in those contests. Yankee fans need to relax. This team will do fine until Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Curtsi Granderson and Alex Rodriguez get back. Just have a little faith.

BOMBER BANTER

Jeter has begun running at the team’s minor-league complex in Tampa, FL, and he seems to progressing in his rehab from a surgically repaired left ankle. Jeter also took ground balls and hit in the batting cage, but it is still too early for the Yankees to put a timetable on the Yankee captain’s return.  . . .  The Yankees are giving Boesch a crash-course in playing first base and coach Mick Kelleher hit some hard ground shots at him on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Boesch, who has been strictly an outfielder in his pro career, has not played the position since high school. The team is not looking to replace Overbay but they want to extend Boesch’s versatility. Manager Joe Girardi said that he would use Youkilis or Jayson Nix at first before he would put Boesch there but he wants Boesch to learn to play the position in case he is needed.  . . .  The Yankees have re-signed left-hander Clay Rapada to a minor-league contract, and he will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Rapada was designated for assignment last week and was expected to begin the season on the disabled list after dealing with left shoulder bursitis during spring training.

ON DECK

The Yankees certainly have their hitting shoes on as they continue their four-game set with the Indians on Wednesday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Nova is coming off a poor first outing against the Detroit Tigers last Friday in which he gave up four runs on five hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. Nova is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA against the Indians.

The Indians will counter with former Yankee right-hander Zach McCallister (0-1, 3.00 ERA). McCallister gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks in six innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. He has never faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by the YES Network.

 

No Rave Reviews For Sabathia, Yankees In Opener

GAME 1

RED SOX 8, YANKEES 2

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday was a lot like getting dressed to the nines, renting a limo with a beautiful girl escorting you and taking in a Broadway play only to find out that the part of Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” is not being played by  Philip Seymour Hoffman but by Emilio Estevez.

No Derek Jeter. No Alex Rodriguez. No Mark Teixeira. No Curtis Granderson.

Heck, this production could be called “Death of a Ballclub” and it looked like it was put on by an amateur repertory company in Paducah, KY.

CC Sabathia (0-1) struggled with his command and gave up four runs in the second inning while the depleted Yankees offense could not make up the margin as Boston became the first team since 1986 to beat New York in a home opener in front of a paid crowd of 49,514.

Jon Lester (1-0) pitched five solid innings, giving up two runs on five hits and two walks while he struck out seven batters. The Red Sox bullpen shut down the Yankees the rest of the way on just one hit and two walks.

Newly acquired Shane Victorino keyed the four-run second inning with a two-out, two-run single that gave the Red Sox a 3-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the ninth that closed out the scoring for the Bosox.

The Yankees lone scoring came in the bottom of the fourth inning when Francisco Cervelli stroked a two-out, two-run single off Lester to draw the Yankees to within two runs at 4-2.

But the Red Sox added a single run in the seventh and three more in the ninth.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Though it seems odd to say this, the Red Sox did not exactly rip the cover off the ball against the Yankees. There was a bunt single and four infield hits among the Red Sox 13 hits. The Red Sox got timely hits and they could not have rolled them into better spots. They were more lucky than good.
  • Cervelli has always seemed to have a knack for getting the big hit at the right time and it is starting to look like his 2013 season may be no different. He laced a 1-2 cutter off Lester down the left-field line to score Kevin Youkilis, who led off the inning with a double, and Vernon Wells, who drew a walk.
  • Former Mariners right-hander Shawn Kelley made his Yankee debut and pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out one batter and needing only 12 pitches to dispatch the Red Sox. Kelley was the only Yankee relief pitcher to pitch a perfect inning.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Sabathia has always been a slow starter so it is no surprise that he is 0-2 with a 7.42 over his five Opening Day starts with the Yankees. Sabathia was tagged for four runs on eight hits and four walks and he struck out five in his five innings of work. 
  • Joba Chamberlain’s 2013 debut was nothing to write home about either. He gave up a single and two walks to load the bases with one out. After fanning Jose Iglesias, Jacoby Ellsbury hit an infield single that scored two runs and Victorino followed with a single to left to end Chamberlain’s day. He will be a free agent at the end of the season and he is going to have to pitch better than he did on Tuesday if he wants to reman in pinstripes.
  • With the lefty Lester pitching, manager Joe Girardi elected to bat Eduardo Nunez second and shift Ichiro Suzuki to the seventh spot in the order. Nunez ended up going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and he left three men on base while not getting a ball out of the infield.

BOMBER BANTER

As part of the Opening Day ceremonies, the Yankees paid tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting last December in Newtown, CT. The Yankees saluted the first responders to the tragedy and conducted a solemn moment of silence for the victims and their families.  . . .  Rodriguez was with the team for the first time since Game 4 of last October’s American League Championship Series and he told reporters than his rehab from surgery on his left hip is going well. But he did not say when he would be able to return – only that it would be this season. Rodriguez said, “I love when people say, ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you’re old.’ I find it a great challenge.” He declined to comment on questions about the Miami clinic that has been alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of major-league players including Rodriguez.  . . .  Right-hander Phil Hughes threw seven innings in an extended spring training game for High-A Tampa at the team’s minor-league complex in Tampa, FL. Meanwhile, Jeter and Granderson also participated in workouts.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a day off to regroup from their disappointing opener before playing the Red Sox on Wednesday.

Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (1-2, 1.53 ERA) is coming off a career-year in 2012 with career highs in victories, starts, innings and strikeouts. He also had an excellent spring. He is 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA against the Red Sox in his career.

Kuroda will be opposed by right-hander Clay Buccholz (3-0, 0.79 ERA), who is coming of a disastrous 2012 campaign marred by injury and ineffectiveness. He was 11-8 with a 4.46 ERA. He is 2-5 with a 7.19 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by the YES Network and nationally by ESPN2.

 

Cano’s Big Apple Homer Takes Bite Out Of Mets

GAME 71

YANKEES 6, METS 5

With the Yankees you can go from goat to hero in a New York minute.

Robinson Cano committed a crucial one-out error in the sixth that opened the floodgates to a three-run inning that allowed the Mets to tie the Yankees at 5-5. In the eighth, Cano atoned for the error with a solo home run that propelled the Yankees to their fifth victory in six Subway Series contests over their crosstown rivals.

They did it in front of a crowd of 42,364, the largest attendance in the history of Citi Field. That broke the record the two teams set the previous night of 42,222.

Cano’s blast, his 16th of the season, came on a 2-0 tailing fastball from reliever Miguel Batista (1-2) and Cano nearly deposited into the Mets’ giant apple within the batter’s eye in center for a 430-foot shot that seemed to symbolize that the Yankees are the undisputed kings of the Big Apple in 2012.

Boone Logan (2-0) pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings, striking out two batters, to earn the victory in relief. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 15th save in 16 chances this season.

The Yankees had staked themselves to a 5-1 lead with ace left-hander CC Sabathia on the mound and the team looked confident about a victory heading into the bottom of the sixth.

But Cano’s error that allowed Justin Turner to reach opened up an inning in which nine Met batters came to the plate and Sabathia was unable to finish the frame.

Ronny Cedeno followed the error with a single and after a fielder’s choice an obviously tiring Sabathia walked pinch-hitter Vinny Rottino on four pitches. Andres Torres ended Sabathia’s night with a two-run single that just slipped under Mark Teixeira’s glove and into right field.

Cory Wade entered the game and immediately was tagged for an RBI single to left by Ruben Tejada, who was just activated off the 15-day disabled list just prior to the game, and the game was tied that quickly. Wade walked David Wright to reload the bases, but he struck pinch-hitter Kirk Niewenhuis to keep the game even.

Sabathia gave up five runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks and he struck out three in 5 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.

The Yankee offense, meanwhile, was able to get to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for four runs in the third inning. Dickey had entered the game with two straight complete-game one-hit victories and he had a scoreless inning streak that stretched to 44 2/3 innings.

With one out, Curtis Granderson drew a walk, Alex Rodriguez scratched out an infield hit and Cano also walked to load the bases.

Teixeira ended Dickey’s scoreless string by lifting a towering sacrifice fly to right to score Granderson. Nick Swisher then smacked a hanging 2-1 knuckleball into the seats in right-center for the first home run Dickey has allowed this season.

The Yankees added another run in fifth, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically wild Dickey.

Granderson was hit by a pitch and he advanced to second on a wild pitch, Dickey’s first of the season. One out later, Cano singled to left and Granderson scored from third on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Teixeira.

Dickey gave up a season-high five runs on five hits and three walks and he struck out three over six innings. He entered the game as the winningest pitcher in baseball at 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA.

The Mets scored single runs in the third and fifth off Sabathia.

In the third, they took advantage of leadoff walk to Torres and an error by Chris Stewart attempting to nab a stealing Torres at second. Torres then was able to score from third on a sacrifice fly by Tejada.

In the fifth, Dickey stroked a one-out single and, with one out, Tejada also singled. Wright followed with a ground-ball single to left and Dickey was able to score just ahead of the throw from Raul Ibanez.

With the victory, the Yankees completed interleague play with a record of 13-5. They entered the 2012 season with the best overall interleague play record since its inception in 1997.

The Yankees improved their season record to 43-28 and they remain 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Mets fell to 39-34.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano has been on a home-run binge of late. In his last seven games dating back to the series finale against the Washington Nationals on June 17, Cano has hit five home runs. All but one of them have been solo shots. With his two hits on Sunday night, Cano is hitting .299 with 16 home runs and 36 RBIs.
  • Swisher’s three-run blast in the fourth gave him 11 home runs and a team-leading 45 RBIs on the season. Swisher has been on a tear with the bat this month, hitting .333 with three home runs and 13 RBIs after hitting just .207 in May.
  • Logan and the rest of the bullpen continues to shine in the absence of future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. Logan pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and fanned Josh Thole to start the eighth. Logan has struck 37 batters in 27 2/3 innings and he has lowered his season ERA to 2.60.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Stewart committed two errors but one actually could have been charged to Cano for failing to scoop a low throw in the third inning. Cano’s error in the sixth also hurt. So the usually slick-fielding Yankees committed three errors and two of them led to four unearned runs.
  • Sabathia looked out of sync most the night and the Mets were able to extend innings to get his pitch count up to 112 when he left after 5 2/3 innings. He gave up a nine hits and he walked two. You add those runners and the errors and you can understand why Sabathia ran out of steam early. Cano and the bullpen picked up the slack, however.
  • Derek Jeter took an 0-for-5 collar and he clearly was not picking up Dickey’s knuckleball well. He struck out and grounded out weakly twice in his three at-bats against Dickey. The hitless evening lowered his batting average to .305.

BOMBER BANTER

Starting catcher Russell Martin did not start on Sunday, a day after developing stiffness in his lower back. However, manager Joe Girardi said he would have been available to play, if necessary. Stewart drew his 13th consecutive start with Sabathia on the mound and was 0-for-4 and committed two throwing errors. Martin is expected to be able to start behind the plate on Monday.

ON DECK

Though the Yankees technically were on the “road” this weekend they won’t have to travel far to open a three-game home series with the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (6-7, 3.57 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Kuroda allowed four runs over seven innings in his first loss in over a month to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. Kuroda has not faced the Indians in his major-league career.

The Indians will counter with right-hander Josh Tomlin (3-4, 5.12 ERA). Tomlin gave up just one in 6 2/3 innings in his last start but did not get a decision in the game. He has not won a game since June 8. He is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by the YES Network.

 

Pettitte’s Masterpiece Renders Rays To Canvas

GAME 54

YANKEES 7, RAYS 0

Michelangelo is generally considered the greatest artist of all-time and the Sistine Chapel is living testimony to that greatness. But I truly doubt that Michelangelo could have painted the corners of the strike zone any better than Andy Pettitte did on Tuesday night.

Home plate at Yankee Stadium was Pettitte’s canvas as he craftily dotted a corner here and skillfully used some heavy brushstrokes there on the Rays in 7 1/3 innings of two-hit, no-run baseball and he struck out 10 batters as New York ended up hanging a masterpiece on Tampa Bay.

The 39-year-old left-hander was truly the “Grand Master” as he took command of the game from the opening pitch all the way to his strikeout of Luke Scott to open the eighth inning that ended his night. Pettitte (3-2) gave up only two singles and two walks and no base-runner got past second base as he thoroughly dominated the Rays with his arsenal of cutters, curves, sliders and fastballs.

Meanwhile, struggling catcher Russell Martin broke out of a season-long funk to collect three hits, including a one-out, grand-slam homer off Rays starter James Shields (6-4) in the fourth inning that gave the Yankees a 6-0 lead.

Shields was undone by a combination of sloppy Rays play and Martin’s well-timed home run.

The Yankees scored two unearned runs off Shields in the first inning aided by a wild pitch, a missed double play and a critical two-out error.

With one out Curtis Granderson singled to right and Shields tossed a wild pitch that advanced him to second. He then walked Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano slapped a one-hopper that bounced off Shields’ glove for a double-play ball that became a single.

In keeping with the Yankees’ 2012 tradition of bases-loaded futility, Mark Teixeira struck out looking and Raul Ibanez dribbled a routine ground ball to shortstop Elliot Johnson. However, Johnson short-armed the throw and the ball bounced off first baseman Carlos Pena’s glove and Granderson and Rodriguez scored.

Then in the fourth, Ibanez drew a one-out walk, Nick Swisher singled sharply to right and Eric Chavez was walked on four pitches.

Martin then stepped the plate after having singled in the second inning to bring his batting average to .200 for the first time since May 5. Down 0-2 in the count, Martin actually swung at a high and outside fastball and he drilled it to the opposite field into the right-field bleachers.

The Yankees added a run in the fifth inning on a one-out double off the right-field wall by Swisher to score Cano, who had led off with a double..

Shields, who has lost three of his last four starts and has an ERA of 5.92 in that span, gave up seven runs (five earned) on seven hits and four walks and struck out two in just five innings. In his three starts against the Yankees this season, Shields is 0-2 with a 7.88 ERA.

However, this chilly evening in the Bronx belonged to Pettitte. He threw 103 pitches and 70 were strikes for a percentage of 68 percent. He has won three of his four starts at Yankee Stadium this season and his effort tonight drew the Yankees to within a half-game of the Rays and Orioles, who are tied for first place in the American League East.

The Yankees boosted their season record to 30-24. The Rays fell to 31-24.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Pettitte’s 10 strikeouts were the most he has recorded in a game since 2003. But that really does not tell you just how dominant he was on Tuesday. In one stretch he struck out five Rays batters in a row. The only hits he gave up were a leadoff single to B.J. Upton in the fourth inning and a one-out single by Pena in the fifth. Pettitte lowered his ERA to 2.78, which is the best of all the Yankee starters. It was the 243rd victory of his career.
  • Martin’s grand slam was his fifth home run of the season and it was his fourth career grand slam. Martin’s 3-for-4 night raised his batting average to .211 on the season. He has gotten at least one hit in six of his last seven games and he is 9-for-23 (.391) during that span. The Yankees hope his season-long slump is finally over.
  • Cano was 2-for-3 with a single and a double. He entered the game in a 4-for-26 slump (.154).

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I am not going to dwell on any negatives in a night the Yankees needed to win to move up in the division. Pettitte was spectacular and the Yankees have very quietly won nine of their last 12 games. They are only one game off their pace from last season when they won 97 games.

BRONX BANTER

Hideki Matsui returned to Yankee Stadium wearing No. 35 for the Rays on Tuesday and he received a warm reception from the 40,537 fans in attendance when he stepped to the plate in the second inning. However, Matsui was 0-for-4 in the game and he is 1-for-9 in his career against his former teammate Pettitte.  . . .  Cano was hit by a pitch from Rays reliever Cesar Ramos in the seventh inning and he was removed from the game in the bottom of ninth inning in favor of Jayson Nix. It is unclear if Cano was injured or if he will miss any time as a result.  . . .  Yankee manager Joe Girardi made it clear that when David Robertson is activated from the disabled list he will be the setup man for Rafael Soriano. Robertson is recovering from a left oblique strain and he hopes to return in about two weeks.  . . .  Early balloting indicates that shortstop Derek Jeter and outfielder Granderson are leading at their positions for the 2012 All-Star Game. Cano and Teixeira are in second place at their respective positions. The balloting will end at midnight on June 28.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Rays on Wednesday.

The Yankees will start right-hander Ivan Nova (6-2, 5.60 ERA). Nova has won his last two starts despite giving up eight runs in 13 2/3 innings (5.27 ERA). The Yankees scored six runs for him in each of those starts. Nova is 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA in his career against the Rays.

The Rays will counter with right-hander Alex Cobb (2-1, 3.71 ERA). Cobb gave up four runs on nine hits and a walk and he hit two batters in five innings against the White Sox in his last start. He has no record with a 1.50 ERA in his one start against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by the YES Network.