YANKEES 3, ASTROS 2
Sometimes it takes a couple of Lone Star State boys to take care of some Texas-sized problems. On Friday both right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and outfielder Chris Young did just that for the Yankees at Minute Maid Park.
Houston-born Eovaldi threw six innings of two-run baseball and Houston-born Young’s three-run home run with one out in the seventh gave New York a hard-fought comeback victory over the Astros in front of a paid crowd of 37,748.
Though Eovaldi (7-2) pitched well, the Astros were still able to touch him for single runs in the third and sixth innings.
Hank Conger laced a one-out double to left-center in the third inning and one out later Carlos Correa scored him on a single to center.
The Astros added a run in the sixth on a one-out infield single by Jose Altuve and a stolen base, which set up a two-out bloop RBI single to center by Evan Gattis.
Meanwhile, right-hander Vincent Velasquez held the Yankees scoreless for six innings on just three hits and one walk with two strikeouts.
But the Yankees got a one-out opposite-field single from Carlos Beltran in the seventh and Garrett Jones followed with a bloop single to right.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch replaced Velasquez with right-hander Will Harris, who entered the game with a 0.78 ERA.
Young, who attended nearby Bellaire High School and entered the at-bat 41-for-103 (.398) with eight home runs at Minute Maid Park in his career, blasted a 1-1 fastball well into the left-field bleachers to give the Yankees their first lead in the four-game series.
Left-handers Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson and right-hander Dellin Betances held the Astros hitless the rest of the way to preserve the victory for Eovaldi, who attended nearby Alvin High School just as Hall of Fame right-hander Nolan Ryan did.
In fact, Ryan (who was in attendance at the game) and Eovaldi are the only two products of that high school to play Major League Baseball.
Betances threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to earn his fifth save six chances this season.
Velasquez was charged with two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings but Harris (4-1) was charged with the loss.
Eovaldi held the Astros to five hits and two walks while he struck six to record his second consecutive quality start.
With the victory the Yankees improved they season record to 40-34 and they climbed to with a half game of the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Astros dropped to 43-33.
- Young added a single the eighth inning to end his evening 3-for-4 with two singles, a homer, a run scored and three RBIs. He now is 43-for-105 (.410) at Minute Maid Park. He also extended his hitting streak to nine games. In that span, Young is 17-for-34 (.500) with two homers and eight RBIs. Though Young’s role is primarily to hit against left-handers, injuries to outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Mason Williams have forced the Yankees to use him in an everyday role and Young is responding.
- Eovaldi surpassed his career high in victories with the decision and in his past two outings he has yielded four runs on eight hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts in 12 innings. That has lowered his season ERA to 4.81. It also has saved his job because right-hander Adam Warren has been shifted back to the bullpen.
- Betances came in the eighth with two out and pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez on first after Wilson walked Luis Valbuena. Though Gonzalez stole second, Betances fanned Gattis to end the threat and then pitched a perfect ninth to earn his fifth save in place of injured left-hander Andrew Miller. Betances is 4-1 with a 1.21 ERA and has 61 strikeouts in just 37 1/3 innings.
- The rookie right-hander Velasquez had never made it past the fifth inning in any of his three previous starts. But once again the Yankees were unable to solve a pitcher they had not faced before and made him look better than he really was. The Yankees could not lay off his fastball up and out of the strike zone and subsequently they popped up and flied out 11 times in the first six innings.
- Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann combined to go 0-for-8 in the game. With Alex Rodriguez out the lineup resting, the two just could do nothing right at the plate. Among Teixeira’s outs was a strikeout and a crucial double play he hit into with Brett Gardner at first in the sixth inning. The twin-killing came on a 3-1 pitch.
The Yankees will continue their four-game road series with the Astros on Saturday.
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (4-3, 3.17 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Tanaka is coming off his worst outing of the season last Saturday when he gave up seven runs (five earned) on 10 hits in five innings against the Detroit Tigers. Tanaka has never faced the Astros.
The Astros will send out left-hander Brett Oberholtzer (2-1, 2.81 ERA). Oberholtzer had a no-decision on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels. He yielded two runs on four hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. Oberholtzer is 0-2 with a 4.96 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 4, ANGELS 3
He heard the whispers. At age 33, Brian Roberts was sporting a .213 batting average on May 1 and the team that once counted on All-Star second baseman Robin$on Cano was not getting much production out of its winter free-agent signing. It was time for Roberts to show what he could do.
Roberts did just that by blasting the first pitch he saw from Ernesto Frieri deep into the right-field bleachers in right with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning to break a 3-3 tie as New York edged Los Angeles on Tuesday in front of a paid crowd of 40,106 at Angel Stadium.
For Roberts is was his first home run in a Yankee uniform and it culminated a night in which Roberts went 2-for-4 with two RBIs in leading a team that lately has been struggling to score runs.
Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who started for the Yankees, once again was denied a victory because of a lack of run support and a major hiccup from the bullpen.
Kuroda pitched his best game of the season, going 7 2/3 innings and having held the Angels to two runs (both unearned) on four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts before giving up a two-out triple to Mike Trout while holding a 3-2 lead.
Manager Joe Girardi summoned Shawn Kelley to pitch to Albert Pujols and for the second consecutive evening Kelley was unable to do what he called upon to do. Pujols laced a full count pitch for an RBI single that allowed the Angels to tie the game.
Despite the failure, Kelley (1-2) was credited with the victory. David Robertson pitched a perfect ninth inning to collect his fifth save in as many chances this season.
Frieri (0-3) took the loss.
It looked as if when the Angels scored two unearned runs off Kuroda in the third inning it was going to be another one of those frustrating nights for the Yankees of late.
Hank Conger opened the frame with a single to center and Collin Cowgill then laid down a sacrifice bunt that third baseman Yangervis Solarte fielded but he threw wildly past first baseman Mark Teixeira for an error.
Erick Aybar and Trout followed with consecutive sacrifice flies to score Conger and Cowgill.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were having problems early with left-hander C.J. Wilson, who entered the game with a 4-0 record against the Yankees as a member of the Angels.
They finally broke through in the fifth inning as Solarte and Brett Gardner hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Roberts then followed with a slow roller up the middle into center that scored Solarte and advanced Gardner to third.
Jacoby Ellsbury then hit into a double play that allowed Gardner to tie the game at 2-2.
The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth inning when Wilson hit Derek Jeter with a pitch and Carlos Beltran singled into center to advance Jeter to third.
It then looked as if disaster would again short-circuit a rally by the Yankees when Teixeira hit a ground ball to third and Jeter was tagged out in a rundown by Conger.
But Alfonso Soriano, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his previous at-bats against Wilson, rolled a single into left that scored Beltran.
Wilson was charged with three runs on seven hits and three walks while he struck out five batters in 8 innings.
The victory by the Yankees ended a two-game losing streak and a stretch in which the Yankees had lost five of their past six games. The victory gives the Yankees a season record of 17-15 and they climbed back into a tie with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East. The Angels fell to 16-16.
- Because Kuroda, 39, had pitched so poorly in his last six starts in 2013 and he was 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in his first six starts of 2014 there were fears that he was washed up and he no longer could be an effective major-league pitcher. He proved that was not the case. Holding the Angels to four hits in the first seven innings is no small feat. Kuroda had command of his slider and his split-finger fastball and he was was able to work effectively on both sides of the plate.
- Roberts’ 2-for-4 evening gives him a modest four-game hitting streak and he is 7-for-17 (.412) with a homer and two RBIs in that span. That has raised Roberts’ season average from .213 to .250. Roberts did hit eight home runs and drive in 39 runs in roughly half a season with the Orioles in 2013 so it is possible that he could hit 16 homers and drive in 78 runs in a full season with the Yankees if he stays healthy.
- Robertson is now 5-for-5 in save opportunities and he is sporting a sparkling 1.13 ERA with seven strikeouts and two walks in eight innings. While no one is saying he is as good as the great Mariano Rivera, Robertson has more than held as own as the team’s closer. The Yankees have only had problems getting him leads late and, when they have gotten late leads, the setup guys have botched them.
- After the five-walk debacle between Kelley and Matt Thornton on Monday night that cost the Yankees a victory, it was not very encouraging to see Kelley give up the single to Pujols that allowed the Angels to tie the game in the eighth. Kelley has to throw strikes and be more aggressive with his pitches in order to be effective in the role Robertson did so well the past four seasons.
- Double plays have been killing the Yankees of late and they hit into two more of them on Tuesday. Ellsbury’s double play did allow Gardner to score to tie the game but it also turned a two-on, no-out situation into a two-out, nobody-on situation. And after Soriano’s single gave the Yankees a 4-3 lead in the eighth, Brian McCann hit into a double play that ended the inning. The Yankees simply have to stop shooting themselves in the foot.
- McCann, 30, ended up 0-for-4 and he did not get a ball out of the infield on Wednesday. McCann is now 3-for-36 (.083) in his past nine games and he seems absolutely perplexed at the plate. He is swinging at pitches out of the strike zone and taking strikes right down the middle. With his season average at .209 he is going to need to wake up soon because he is killing rallies right and left.
The Yankees on Tuesday finally were able to place right-hander Michael Pineda on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder muscle and activated backup infielder Brendan Ryan. Pineda, 27, had to be carried on the 25-man roster as he served a 10-game suspension for using pine tar. Ryan, 32, was shelved in spring training on March 4 after suffering a cervical spine nerve injury. Ryan primarily will serve as a backup to Jeter at shortstop, although he could also be used at second and third base.
Major League Baseball and its teams are now suffering the consequences of what was a planned effort on their part to expand its number of minority umpires by promoting them over more qualified candidates. One such example of that program is Laz Diaz. Another is C.B. Bucknor. If you ask players, coaches, managers and front-office personnel who are among the worst umpires in baseball the names Diaz and Bucknor come up. The reason is they are terrible at calling balls and strikes. Their strike zones will actually “move” from inning to inning and sometimes from batter to batter. Hence, on Tuesday night the Yankees had the bases loaded and nobody out in the eighth inning. Gardner had a 1-0 count on him as Jered Weaver threw a pitch that fell low out of the strike zone. But Diaz called it a strike. Look at the replays and you can clearly see the ball fell below Gardner’s knee as it crossed the plate. Also watch the following inning as two of Kelley’s pitches hit the same plain Diaz had called the strike on Gardner. He called them balls. That is why Girardi argued the strike call to Gardner and why Diaz ejected him. It is also why Kelley questioned Diaz about the calls and he was ejected by Diaz. But baseball needs to get useless pieces of excrement like Diaz out of baseball. Surely there are some minorities knocking on the door of being umpires who can actually see. That would be great for all involved and Diaz can go back to be an a–hole to his nephews and nieces. So the score of Monday’s game should be: Diaz 2, Yankees 1.
The Yankees can win the three-game road series against the Angels on Wednesday with a victory.
Left-hander Vidal Nuno (0-0, 6.87 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Nuno, 26, yielded three runs on five hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings on April 26 to the Angels at Yankee Stadium in his third start of the season. The Yankees need him to pitch better or he may may be replaced by David Phelps or Alfredo Aceves.
The Angles will counter with left-hander Hector Santiago (0-5, 5.01 ERA). Santiago was shelled for five runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings in a loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday. The Yankees scored four run son six hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings to defeat Santiago on April 26.
Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 5, ANGELS 3
Getting runner after runner on base to only leave them there. Getting hits and walks to pressure the pitchers to throw strikes only to not score. That pretty much sounds like a description of a majority of the Yankees’ 24 losses this season.
But, on Sunday, as Yogi Berra might have said, the foot was in the other shoe.
Los Angeles trailed the Yankees by a 4-2 score heading into the fifth inning and they ended up scoring one run in the fifth but left a total of eight runners on base in the last five innings as New York held on to beat the Angels and win a road series at Angel Stadium for only the second time in 10 series played there since 2005.
Mark Teixeira provided most of the offense for the Yankees with a solo home run in the third inning and a two-run shot in the fifth, both coming off losing pitcher Joel Pineiro (2-3). The second home run broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish. Nick Swisher added a solo home run in the eighth inning off reliever Kevin Jepsen to give the Yankees a very important insurance run.
Yankee starter Bartolo Colon (4-3), coming off a dominating complete-game three-hit shutout of Oakland, was not quite as sharp in this outing. He was tagged by a solo home run by Mark Trumbo in the third inning and the Angels followed that up by singling twice and scoring Hank Conger on a sacrifice fly by Maicer Izturis in the same frame to tie the game.
After Teixiera homered again to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead, the Angels responded with two outs in the fifth with back-to-back doubles by Izturis and Erick Aybar to draw within a run but they ended up stranding two runners. Colon then gave up a leadoff double to Alberto Callaspo in the fifth and, one out later, Manager Joe Girardi elected to bring David Robertson.
Robertson set the tone for the bullpen the rest of day. He induced Trumbo to hit a grounder to Derek Jeter in which Jeter threw Callaspo out at third trying to advance. However, Robertson walked Conger and Peter Bourjos to load the bases. But he escaped by fanning Izturis swinging on a 2-2 curve in the dirt to strand three more runners.
After one out in the seventh inning, Joba Chamberlain was brought in to replace Robertson and he promptly gave up two singles sandwiched around a popout by Torii Hunter. But Chamberlain wiggled out of the jam by striking out Howie Kendrick on a 3-2 slider to strand two more runners.
In the eighth Chamberlain walked Conger with one out but induced Bourjos to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Mariano Rivera entered in the ninth inning and gave up a pair of singles to Izturis and Bobby Abreu sandwiched around a strikeout of Aybar. But Rivera got Hunter to end the game by hitting into a 5-4-3 double play started by Alex Rodriguez to strand another runner. Rivera earned his 16th save in 19 chances.
The victory gives the Yankees a 33-24 record and they reached a season-high nine games over .500. They remain a full game in first place in the American League East ahead of the Boston Red Sox in advance of their three-game series at Yankee Stadium that begins on Tuesday. The Angels dropped to 30-31.
- Former Angel Teixeira bit his former club in the butt with his two home runs. The two home runs not only took the team home run lead away from Curtis Granderson, but Teixeira’s 18 home runs leave only two in back of major-league leader Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays. Teixeira has now hit nine home runs in his last 16 games. In that span he is 17-for-65 (.262) with 19 RBIs. Though Teixeira is hitting .258 on the season, he has 18 home runs and has driven in 41 runs, which ties him for the team lead with Granderson.
- Brett Gardner was 2-for-4 and he contributed a two-out RBI double to score Robinson Cano with the game’s first run in the second inning. Very quietly, Gardner was 4-for-7 (.571) in the last two games of the road trip. That raised his average back to .258.
- Cano made a sensational defensive play in the third inning that saved a run and possibly more for Colon. After an intentional walk to Abreu, Boujos and Abreu executed a double steal with Hunter batting. Hunter then hit a bouncing ball over the head of Colon that was headed into center-field. Cano, not only kept the ball in the infield, he barely nipped Hunter at first to end the inning. That play stranded two more Angel runners.
- Robertson may have created most of his own problems in the sixth by walking Conger and Boujos to load the bases, however, his ability to escape from jams is reaching epic proportions. Here is a statistic that indicates how good Robertson is in tough situations. The average reliever prevents 70% of inherited runners to score. In his career, Robertson has prevented 87.5% of inherited base-runners to score. Robertson is also one of only two pitchers in the majors who has pitched at least 100 innings since 2009 and struck out batters at a rate above 12 per nine innings. The other pitcher is Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.
- Give struggling DH Jorge Posada credit for a game in which he was 2-for-4 and raised his average to .178. But Posada also hit into a double play in the second inning and got thrown out on the bases in the fourth trying to stretch a double into a triple. Posada, inarguably the slowest Yankee runner, tried to take advantage of Kendrick’s throw from left field to the wrong base (second). But Trumbo trailed Posada from his first base position to take the Kendrick’s errant relay and threw Posada out easily trying to reach third.
- Francisco Cervelli was given a start on Sunday because starting catcher Russell Martin is in a 1-for-24 slump and his average has fallen to .236. But Cervelli was not much help with the bat either. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. Cervelli in limited play this season is batting a woeful .167.
- Relievers Robertson, Chamberlain and Rivera combined to give up four hits and three walks in only 3 2/3 innings but got out the sixth and seventh with two-out strikeouts and the eighth and ninth with inning-ending double plays. That is an escape act that is too close for comfort in close games. The Yankees were lucky they did not get burned. The Angels were 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the day.
Girardi decided to take advantage of the off day scheduled for Monday by reshuffling his rotation for the week. After Freddy Garcia and A.J. Burnett open the three-game series with the Boston Red Sox, Girardi will start CC Sabathia on Thursday on his regular four days of rest. That will shift Ivan Nova to open the seres against the Cleveland Indians on Friday. The move also will give Colon an extra day of rest before he pitches against the Indians on Saturday. . . . Jeter picked up a single off Pineiro in the third inning and that is his 2,986th hit for his career, just 14 shy of the 3,000 mark. Girardi said it unclear if Jeter will get a day off after playing every game the Yankees have played since May 5. Girardi pointed out that Jeter has gotten somewhat of a break by acting as a DH in six of those games but said he is playing to win. If Jeter feels he needs a day off he will ask for one, Girardi said.
The Yankees ended their road trip 6-3, despite dropping the first two games in Seattle. They now fly home and will have a day off on Monday before opening a big series with Red Sox on Tuesday.
Garcia (4-4, 3.54 ERA) will start the opener. He is coming off a game in which he gave up three runs in seven innings against Oakland in a 10-3 victory. In a previous start against Boston this season, he gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings in a loss on May 15. He is 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA against the Red Sox since 2001.
Garcia will be opposed by left-hander Jon Lester (7-2, 3.94 ERA). Lester has been in a pitching rut of late. He has given up four or more runs in his last fur starts. But he was the winning pitcher over Garcia on May 15 and he is 7-1 with a 3.94 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.