YANKEES 2, ATHLETICS 1 (10 INNINGS)
If you took a poll on New York sports talk shows on what Yankees has had the most disappointing season the result would come back Russell Martin. Of course, if you took a poll on who the most popular Yankee is on Friday you would come out with the same result.
Martin, suffering through a season in which he has been struggling with a batting average that is 32 points below his career low of last season’s .237, hit the second pitch he saw from left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle and parked it well into the bleachers in left-field as New York took a walk-off victory in 10 innings over a stunned young Oakland squad.
Martin’s home run, his 16th of the season, allowed the Yankees to maintain their one-game lead over the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. It also gave the Yankees a bit of payback on an Oakland team that swept the Yankees in four games in Oakland and the all the games were one-run games.
The Yankees actually thought they had the game won after CC Sabathia shut down the A’s on four hits and two walks and he struck out 11 over eight innings. However, Rafael Soriano gave up a one-out home run in the ninth to pinch-hitter Brandon Moss to tie the game at 1-1.
It was only Soriano’s fourth blown save if the season but two have them have come against the A’s.
The Yankees had forged that slim margin in the fourth inning off starter Jarrod Parker.
Nick Swisher opened the frame with a single to right and one out later Alex Rodriguez slapped a single to left-center to advance Swisher to third. Curtis Granderson then scored Swisher with a sacrifice fly.
Parker then shut down the Yankees, giving up one run on six hits and no walks and he struck out seven.
Doolittle (1-1) relieved Parker in the ninth and he threw a scoreless inning to push the game into extra innings.
David Robertson (2-7) came on for the Yankees in the tenth and retired the side in order to earn the victory in relief.
Martin then strolled to the plate and he picked out a fat 0-1 fastball up in the strike zone and blasted into the seats to bring most of the paid crowd of 40,759 at Yankee Stadium to its feet and the Yankees’ players racing out of the dugout to celebrate with their beleaguered catcher.
Doolittle is a very aptly named gentleman because the pitch he threw to Martin did do very little except hang up in the sights of the veteran Martin.
It was only the Yankees’ third walk-off victory of the season. One came against the Mets in June and the other came in April against Tigers.
Even with the walk-off heroics of Martin, the actual story of the night was the return to dominance of Sabathia.
The 31-year-old left-hander has not won a game since Aug. 24 and he had to be placed on the disabled list on two occasions this season. In his last two starts, Sabathia had given up nine earned runs on 14 hits and two walks over a span of 13 innings. There was concern that Sabathia was concealing an injury because his velocity had dropped.
But from the opening pitch on Friday, Sabathia was crisp and clean with his pitches.
He walked the second batter of the game in Jonny Gomes but did not allow a hit until Stephen Drew’s single up the middle in the sixth inning. His 11 strikeouts were the most he has recorded since he fanned 12 Tampa Bay Rays in a loss at Yankee Stadium on June 7.
So with the playoffs just on the horizon, the opposition might want to think again about discounting the health of Sabathia.
The victory gives the Yankees a record of 87-63 on the season. They have now won six straight games and eight of their last nine contests. The A’s, on the other hand, fell to 85-65.
- Sabathia did tire a bit in the eighth. He gave up a one-out single to Drew, a two-out single to Collin Cowgill and he hit Gomes with a pitch to load the bases. But he got out of the jam by inducing Josh Reddick to hit a weak fly ball to left. He had struck out Reddick in his three previous at-bats. This was vintage Sabathia and it should give manager Joe Girardi more confidence in his ace as he looks toward the playoffs.
- There is now visual proof Ichiro Suzuki is not just red hot with the bat. He is lucky, too. Suzuki was 2-for-3 in the game and one of his hits was a tapped comebacker to Parker on the mound in the third inning. But the ball rolled up Parker’s right arm and fell into his A’s jersey, preventing him from making a play on Suzuki. Since Sept. 6, Suzuki is 20-for-38 (.526) with eight RBIs and eight runs scored.
- After kind of stinking up the joint in his three games against the Blue Jays, Rodriguez came through with two hits against the A’s. His hit in the fourth inning to advance Swisher to third was huge because it set up Granderson’s scoring fly ball that gave the Yankees’ their 1-0 lead. The power may not be there but Rodriguez is getting key hits.
- It is real easy to get down on Soriano because he blew the save. However, Soriano has been overused of late and it showed in his work on Friday. In addition to giving up the home run to Moss, Soriano gave up two-out walks to Derek Norris and Drew before striking out pinch-hitter Seth Smith swinging. Soriano actually warmed up on Thursday but could not go because he had pitched in six games in the previous seven days, including both games of a doubleheader on Wednesday.
- Robinson Cano is back to hitting like a rockhead. He was o-for-4 in the game with two strikeouts and he also hit into an inning-ending double play in the sixth inning. Cano is fouling off pitches he normally crushes and he is starting to swing at some pitches out of the strike zone again. It pains me to see him getting himself out by not having the discipline to hit only the pitches he can hit squarely. His season average has dipped to .297.
- Despite his sac fly RBI, Granderson struck out in all three of his other at-bats. His 179 strikeouts are a new career high and he has earned every one. Every time you see the change-up heading for the dirt at home plate you just know Curtis is going to swing and miss it.
Girardi chose to play Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and allow Derek Jeter to rest his bone bruise on his left ankle as the designated hitter on Friday. . . . Jeter laughed when ESPN’s Rick Reilly blew up a national story that said Jeter would consider playing for another team. Reilly twisted what Jeter was saying to him about Peyton Manning having to leave the Indianapolis Colts to play for the Denver Broncos. Jeter said that if the Yankees decided they did not want him anymore and he still wanted to play he would have to look elsewhere. Reilly made it seem if Jeter wanted to leave, which is not the case.
The Yankees will continue their three-game “Payback The Punks” series with Oakland on Saturday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.85 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. If Nova is anything like he was in his last start, the A’s are in trouble. Nova came off the disabled list to throw six innings of two-run baseball and he struck out eight Rays in one of his best outings of the year. Nova is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA lifetime against the Athletics.
Nova will be opposed by left-hander Travis Blackley (5-3, 3.36 ERA). Blackley is taking the place of Brett Anderson in the rotation and this will be his first start since Aug. 29. He is 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA as a starter. Blackley has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 10, BLUE JAYS 7
Let’s make this perfectly clear. This game on Thursday is not going to go down as a Yankee Classic. With both teams combining for 17 runs on 18 hits, 13 walks, two hit batters, an error, two wild pitches and two passed balls, it likely could be disseminated without the expressed written consent of the either team.
But it was a victory for the Yankees and they will take it.
Ichiro Suzuki continued his hot hitting by driving in three runs and Nick Swisher blasted his third grand slam of the season as part of seven-run fourth inning as New York outslugged Toronto to give themselves a one-game lead in the American League East over the idle second-place Baltimore Orioles.
Phil Hughes (16-12) did not so much win this game as he did not lose it. He gave up four runs on four hits and three walks while he struck out nine batters in five innings to collect his team-leading 16th win of the season.
The Yankees, meanwhile, had to wait out soft-tossing left-hander Aaron Laffey (3-6) to throw a pitch within a neighboring area code of the strike zone before they drove him out of the game in the fourth.
The Blue Jays held a slim 2-1 lead in the fourth when Laffey issued a leadoff walk to Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson reached when second baseman Kelly Johnson treated his routine grounder as if it was a hand grenade.
Laffey then issued another one of the five free passes he handed out on the evening to Casey McGehee to load the bases for Suzuki, who started the night 7-for-8 in the series and had homered in his first at-bat off Laffey to lead off the third inning.
Suzuki brought most of the paid crowd of 40,511 at Yankee Stadium to their feet with a two-run double that gave the Yankees their first lead of the night. Little did they know they would hold the lead for the rest of the night.
Manager John Farrell mercifully ended Laffey’s evening in favor of right-hander Brad Lincoln. However, unlike the vehicles that sport his name, Lincoln was neither original or inspired.
Lincoln walked Jayson Nix to refuel the bases to full and he put it in gear to face Derek Jeter. But Jeter stroked a lined single into right to make it 4-2.
Lincoln then wished he could have put the whole thing in reverse or hit the brakes when Swisher smacked a fat 2-1 fastball into the third row of bleachers in right-center over the auxiliary scoreboard to put a serious dent in the Blue Jays’ night and give the Yankees what they thought might be some breathing room so they could rest up for their weekend series with the Oakland Athletics.
Laffey’s line read five runs given up (four earned) on just two hits but five walks and he struck out three in three-plus innings.
However, in his effort to get five innings in for his victory, Hughes surrendered a two-run home run to to rookie Moise Sierra in the bottom of the fifth.
The Yankees got those two runs back in the bottom of the frame off reliever Brett Cecil on RBI singles by Nix and Jeter to make it 10-4.
After Derek Lowe pitched two shaky but scoreless innings, manager Joe Girardi called upon Cory Wade to pitch the eighth.
Wade spent most of the season at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because he was unable to get anyone out consistently at the major-league level this season. That should have been a huge red flag for Girardi.
Wade opened the third by giving up a solo home run to Johnson that still might be traveling. A single, a strikeout and a double later and Wade was gone in a New York minute. Joba Chamberlain then allowed a an RBI single to Brett Lawrie and a Mike McCoy drove in another run on a fielder’s choice groundout to make it 10-7 .
Chamberlain then gave up a single to Edwin Encarnacion to bring up the tying run in Adam Lind. I bet Girardi loved this part of the game.
Fortunately, Chamberlain got Lind to fly out to medium right and David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth to collect his second save of the season.
It’s a good thing, too. Whew!
With the victory, the Yankees have now officially righted themselves and have won seven of their last eight games. Their season record improved to 86-63 and they have but 13 contests left to play. The Blue Jays are pretty much sucking on the tailpipe of their own Lincoln after having been swept in the series and they are now 66-82.
- All Suzuki did in the three-game series was go 9-for-12 (.750) with a home run, three doubles, four stolen bases, four runs scored and four RBIs. About the only thing he did not do was deliver margaritas in the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar. Girardi has chosen to keep Suzuki in the lineup against left-handers because Andruw Jones seemingly has not gotten a big hit since Memorial Day.
- Swisher struck out three times and walked in the game. However, his grand slam was the biggest hit of the game and it was a game the Yankees needed to win badly. Swisher hit a franchise record-tying 10th grand slam of the season and it was his third. It also was the seventh grand slam of his career. Swisher now has 21 home runs and 83 RBIs on the season. He has hit at least 20 home runs and driven 80 runs in all four of his seasons with the Yankees.
- Hughes tied a franchise record when he struck out four batters in the fourth inning. Hughes struck out in order J.P. Arencibia, Adeiny Hechavarria, Anthony Gose and Lawrie, however, Hechavarria reached first on one of the two passed balls charged to Russell Martin on the evening. A.J. Burnett also did it for the Yankees on June 24, 2011 against the Colorado Rockies.
- The Yankees scored 10 runs but Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 with a walk. That snapped his modest four-game hitting streak and pushed him under the .300 mark this season. Cano is having an unusually quiet September, hitting just .279 with three home runs and eight RBIs.
- Wade had pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in his two appearances since his Sept. 1 recall but he was tagged hard by the Blue Jays. Wade is 0-1 with a 5.84 ERA on the season after he was 6-1 with a 2.04 ERA for the Yankees last season. It is not likely Wade will make the postseason roster and his days with the team appear numbered.
- Martin’s two passed balls give him seven on the season, which is the most he has been charged with in any of his major-league seasons. The Yankees still rave about his defense but it is hard to imagine the Yankees will re-sign him after he thoroughly flopped at the plate this season.
Mark Teixeira took swings in a batting cage at Yankee Stadium before the game on Thursday and he will travel to Tampa, FL, on Monday in order to rehab his left calf strain in some Instructional League games. Teixeira is targeting a Sept 27 return date so he can get in some game action before the playoffs. . . . The Yankees elected not to activate Brett Gardner on Thursday although the move is imminent in the next few days.
The Yankees open a three-game weekend series against the A’s beginning on Friday and they have some payback in mind after they were swept in Oakland.
The Yankees send to the mound left-hander CC Sabathia (13-6, 3.63 ERA). Sabathia has allowed nine earned runs in his last two starts covering 13 innings. Though the Yankees say he is fine, Sabathia has not pitched well since his return from the disabled list with left elbow soreness. He is 8-8 with a 4.80 ERA lifetime against the A’s.
Oakland will start right-hander Jarrod Parker (11-8, 3.51 ERA). Parker allowed two runs on seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in seven innings in a victory over the Orioles on Saturday. He is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his one career start against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.