Tagged: Jeff Mathis

Late Homers Allow Yankees To Reel In Marlins

GAME 66

YANKEES 9, MARLINS 4

On a night that Alex Rodriguez moved to within one of the 3,000-hit plateau it was a pair of two-run homers hit by Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran that brought the Yankees back from a 3-1 deficit to a huge victory at Yankee Stadium.

Gardner smacked his home run in the sixth inning to tie it and Beltran added his in the seventh as New York added four more runs in the eighth to sink Miami on Thursday and earn a split of the four-game home-and-home series.

Rodriguez singled to drive in the game’s first run in the first inning and he added a one-out single in the fifth off right-hander Mat Latos to give him 2,999 career hits.

His RBI single followed back-to-back singles by Gardner and Chase Headley and Gardner scored to give left-hander CC Sabathia an early 1-0 lead.

However, after Sabathia retired the first nine hitters he faced, Dee Gordon led off the fourth with a triple and scored one out later on an infield groundout by Christian Yelich.

The Marlins claimed the lead in the fifth as Jeff Baker singled and Justin Bour reached after being hit with a pitch. Baker advanced to third on a deep fly ball by Donovan Solano and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Mathis.

Giancarlo Stanton padded the Marlins’ lead to 3-1 when he connected for his major-league-leading 25th home run of the season with one out in the sixth.

But the Yankees managed to tie the game in the bottom of the frame after Latos had retired the first two batters. Mason Williams laced a double to right-center, his second double of the night. Gardner then followed by lining a 2-0 fastball into the Yankees bullpen in right-center for his sixth home run of the season.

Latos was then removed from the game and he was charged with three runs on nine hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Sabathia also left having also yielded three runs on five hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in six innings.

The Yankees took the lead for good in the seventh inning against former Yankee left-hander Michael Dunn (1-4).

Brian McCann slapped a one-out single to left and Beltran connected on a high 3-2 fastball and he drove it deep into the first level of the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.

Left-hander Chasen Shreve (4-1) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to get credit for the victory in relief.

The Yankees were able to add four more runs in the eighth off right-hander Sam Dyson on an RBI single by McCann, a wild pitch, an RBI double by Chris Young and a sacrifice fly by Stephen Drew.

Dyson drew the ire of most of the paid crowd of 38,239 by walking Rodriguez on four pitches, spoiling an opportunity for those in attendance from seeing his potential milestone hit.

The Marlins added a run in the ninth off right-hander Chris Martin on an RBI single by Mathis.

The victory allowed the Yankees to improve their season record to 36-30. They remain one game behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. The Marlins fell to 29-39.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Gardner’s home run was his first since June 7 at Yankee Stadium against the Los Angeles Angels. He was 2-for-5 with a single, a homer, two runs scored and three RBIs. He raised his season average to .265 and he now has six home runs and 30 RBIs.
  • Beltran is definitely making positive strides at the plate after a horrible start that had him batting .162 in April. Since May 8, Beltran is 34-for-113 (.301) with five homers and 17 RBIs. It was his first home run since May 30 against the Athletics in Oakland. He is batting .250 with five homers and 26 RBIs on the season.
  • Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with two singles, a walk, a run scored and an RBI and he has raised his season average to .278. In his past 30 games, A-Rod is batting .317 with four homers and 14 RBIs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Sabathia actually pitched well but the Yankees sputtered on offense through the first five innings until they exploded for eight runs in the final three innings. Every starter had at least one hit except Drew. So this was a really good victory for the Yankees and I do not see any negatives.

ON DECK

The Yankees will play host to the Detroit Tigers for a three-game weekend series that begins on Friday.

Right-hander Adam Warren (4-4, 3.78 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Warren gave up three runs on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Right-hander Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.60 ERA) will make his second start of the season after being activated from disabled list. Verlander surrendered two runs on three hits and two walks with two strikeouts in five innings in a no-decision against the Cleveland Indians on Saturday.

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

 

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Ichiro Drives In 5 As Yankees Clip Blue Jays’ Wings

GAME 112

YANKEES 10, BLUE JAYS 3

When the New York Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners they were just expecting some great outfield defense and some singles and some steals at the bottom of the batting order. It is now beginning to look like they have a top-flight RBI man instead.

Suzuki drove in five runs to lead a late-inning seven-run assault on Toronto pitching as New York put away a badly depleted Blue Jay team on Friday at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Suzuki gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in the second inning by driving in a run beating out a potential double-play grounder. He added a two-run single in the eighth inning and a bases-loaded two-run double in the ninth inning. Suzuki, who had only 28 RBis when he was obtained on July 23, has driven in 11 runs in his last 11 games and nine and his last four games with the Yankees.

Meanwhile, veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-5) pitched six solid innings to pick up his second straight victory. Garcia gave up two runs on four hits and struck four against a Blue Jays team missing Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia and Adam Lind.

The Yankees built an early lead on Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero in second inning after Robinson Cano led off the frame with a single and Romero walked Andruw Jones.

Jayson Nix attempted to bunt the next pitch and it rolled just out in front of home plate. But Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis threw the ball past third baseman Omar Vizquel and into left-field to allow Cano to score and Jones to advance to third. Suzuki followed with a grounder that forced Nix at second but Suzuki beat the relay to first and Jones scored.

The Yankees added a run in the following inning on a leadoff single by Nick Swisher and a one-out RBI single by Cano.

Romero ( 8-9) then shut down the Yankees over the next four innings on just one hit. He left having given up four hits and three walks and struck out two over seven innings.

Kelly Johnson proved to be Garcia’s big nemesis. He struck with one-out solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to halve the Yankees’ lead at 2-1. Two innings later, he followed a bunt single by Yunel Escobar and a lined single by David Cooper with a double down the right-field line that scored Escobar to make it 3-2.

But Garcia ended the threat by striking out Vizquel and inducing Mathis to tap back to the mound.

The game stayed 3-2 until Steve Delabar’s first offering in the eighth inning in relief of Romero was tagged by Mark Teixeira for his 22nd home run of the season.

With two out, Nix and Russell Martin each dunked in a pair of bloop hits and Suzuki followed with an RBI single up the middle to break the game open at 6-2.

The Yankees added four runs in the ninth off rookie reliever David Carpenter and Brad Lincoln. Suzuki culminated the scoring with base-loaded liner that Rajai Davis lost in the lights and it was scored a double.

With the victory the Yankees have now won three games in a row and are 66-46 on the season. They remain 5 1/2 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The reeling Blue Jays have lost four in a row and are in last place in the division with a record of 53-59.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Suzuki has had at least one hit in 16 of the 17 games he has played with the Yankees. The five-RBI night tied a career high and it was the third time in Suzuki’s career he achieved the feat. But it was the first time since the 2004 season. He also started his first game in center-field since the 2008 season and he has now started in all three outfield position since coming to the Yankees. He was acquired to provide speed, defense and a consistent bat at the bottom of the order and he has done all three very well.
  • Teixeira’s home run was the second straight game in which he has delivered a home run in the eighth inning on the road. Teixeira and Eric Chaez combined to hit back-to-back solo home runs to turn a 3-2 Yankee deficit on Thursday into a 4-3 victory over the Tigers. It was the first time two Yankees had hit consecutive home runs in the eighth inning or later to win a game on the road since Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle did it during the 1955 season. Teixeira extended his team-leading RBI total to 76.
  • Garcia is never going to be confused with Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander, but he put in another solid effort to win his second straight start. In his eight starts since replacing Andy Pettitte in the rotation, Garcia is 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA. The 35-year-old right-hander has been valuable as a placeholder for Pettitte.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I can’t think of much to complain about. Garcia pitched well and the offense has scored 31 runs and notched double-digits in hits over the team’s last four games. Perhaps they can put that stretch of nine losses over 12 games behind them now.

BOMBER BANTER

It is possible that left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano could be added to the Yankees’ expanded roster in September. Feliciano has not pitched since the 2010 season with the New York Mets because he underwent surgery for  torn rotator cuff. On Friday, Feliciano made his second rehab appearance for the Yankees’ rookie Gulf Coast League. Feliciano was signed to a two-year $8 million deal prior to the 2011 season but he has not pitched a single game for the Yankees. He is 22-19 with a 3.31 ERA over 459 appearances over his eight-season career.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their weekend road series with Blue Jays on Saturday.

Ivan Nova (10-6, 4.81 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Nova has a lot to prove after giving up seven runs on 11 hits on Monday against the Tigers. He is 0-3 with a 8.36 ERA in his last five starts. Nova is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA against the Blue Jays in his career.

The Blue Jays will counter with left-hander Aaron Laffey (3-2, 4.39 ERA), who pitched briefly for the Yankees last season. Laffey gave up four runs on six hits in his last start, a victory over the Oakland Athletics. He is 0-1 with an 11.74 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Sabathia’s Gem Coming Off DL Leaves Jays Blue

GAME 90

YANKEES 6, BLUE JAYS 1

When CC Sabathia was placed on the 15-day disabled list after a June 24 start against the Mets with a strained left groin, the Yankees were 43-28 and 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. After Sabathia completely shut down the Toronto Blue Jays for six innings on Tuesday the Yankees are 56-34 and lead the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by 9 1/2 games.

Nothing can be better than stretching your division lead with your ace on the shelf, except when you get your ace back and win your eighth game out your last 10.

Sabathia shut out Toronto on four hits and a walk and struck out six over six innings and Andruw Jones hit a three-run home run in the second inning to stake him to an early lead as New York clinched its three-game series with a victory over Toronto in front of a paid crowd of 44,975 at Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia (10-3) entered the game with a 12-3 career record against the Blue Jays and he was 7-0 in his last eight starts against them.

Jones provided all the runs Sabathia really needed when he followed a leadoff single by Robinson Cano and a walk to Nick Swisher with a line-drive shot into the left-field corner bleachers off left-hander Brett Cecil (2-2) for his 12th home run of the season.

Sabathia, meanwhile, was mixing his fastball, slider and change-up to throw 66 strikes in 87 pitches (76 percent).

Cecil settled in after Jones’ homer and held the Yankees to just two more hits before he left having given up three runs on six hits and two walks while he fanned five batters in his six innings of work.

However, the Yankees took advantage of the Blue Jays’ inexperienced bullpen in the seventh inning.

Jayson Nix opened the frame with a leadoff single off rookie right-hander Sammy Dyson. After failing to get a bunt down, Chris Stewart bounced a high hopper down the left-field line past third baseman Brett Lawrie and the ball rolled into the left-field corner.

Nix was able to score on the double and Stewart advanced to third on an errant throw from left-fielder Rajai Davis.

Derek Jeter then laced a double down the right-field line to score Stewart.

Curtis Granderson reached on a single and Mark Teixeira drew a walk to load the bases. Then Alex Rodriguez completed the Yankees’ scoring by driving in Jeter on fielder’s choice groundout.

The Blue Jays spoiled the shutout by scoring a run in the eighth off reliever Chad Qualls on a leadoff double by Jeff Mathis, a flyout by Davis that advanced Mathis to third and he scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Colby Rasmus.

Qualls, who currently has a 6.75 ERA in his 6 2/3 innings of work with the Yankees, started off the ninth by giving up a leadoff double to Edwin Encarnacion and a one-out walk to Yunel Escobar.

Manager Joe Girardi then pulled Qualls in favor of left-hander Clay Rapada, who then botched an attempted bunt by rookie Anthony Gose for an infield single that loaded the bases.

Girardi then summoned closer Rafael Soriano, who induced pinch-hitter J.P. Arencibia to hit into line-drive unassisted double play to Teixeira to end the game and earn Soriano’s 24th save of the season.

By scoring six runs on Tuesday, the Yankees set a franchise record by scoring three or more runs in 41 consecutive games.

With the loss, the Blue Jays fell to 45-46, 11 1/2 games behind the Yankees.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Sabathia was in command and likely could have pitched longer if Girardi had not chosen to play it safe with his pitch count. Sabathia is now 10-3 with a 3.27 ERA and still has a very good chance to win 20 games for the second time in his career.
  • Jones was 0-for-9 in his previous at-bats against Cecil until he laid into a fastball and drove it on a line into the left-field seats. Jones has only 28 bats in July and is hitting .286 with five home runs and nine RBIs.
  • Cano’s single leading off the second inning extended his career-high hitting streak to 20 games. In that span he is 32-for-79 (.405) with six home runs and 20 RBIs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • From June 16 through July 7, Cory Wade gave up 16 runs on 21 hits and three walks in six innings for a 24.00 ERA, which got him demoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His replacement Qualls is about to join him if he keeps pitching the way he did on Tuesday. In his six appearances with the Yankees he has given up five runs on 10 hits and two walks in 6 2/3 innings. The fact that he was unable to give Girardi the confidence he could hold a 6-1 lead in the ninth proves all you need to know. He is on a real short leash now.

BOMBER BANTER

In order for the Yankees to activate Sabathia from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday they decided to designate outfielder Darnell McDonald for assignment. McDonald played in four games with the Yankees and was hitless in four at-bats since he was claimed off waivers on July 5 from the Boston Red Sox.

ON DECK

The Yankees will be going for a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.67 ERA) will take the mound for the Yankees. Kuroda surrendered five runs on eight hits and one walk in 7 1/3 innings in his last start on Friday against the Los Angels Angels. Kuroda actually pitched better than the numbers show because he only gave up two runs in the first six innings before he ran out of gas in the seventh. Kuroda is 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA against the Blue Jays.

Left-hander Ricky Romero (8-5, 5.03 ERA) will start for the Blue Jays. Romero gave up only one run on six hits and two walks in six innings against the Cleveland Indians on Friday but lost 1-0 to Justin Masterson. He is 3-4 with a 4.02 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Blue Jays Pack Punch But Rotation Still Looks Thin

As spring training camps open it is time to look at the American League East competition for the New York Yankees. How will the other teams fare as they gear up to dethrone the 2011 division champions? Do these teams have the pitching? Is there enough offense? Let’s see.

PART 2 – TORONTO BLUE JAYS

When you think of the Blue Jays these days, just one name comes to mind: Jose Bautista. The Blue Jays basically rode Bautista to an 81-81 record last season, the first season for manager John Farrell.

Though Bautista was able to slug his way to 43 home runs and 103 RBIs and a .302 average despite being pitched around and walked 132 times, the Blue Jays offense could not cover up problems in the Jays’ starting rotation and bullpen.

This season Bautista figures to have a lot more help with the offense but the Jays were unable to bid successfully for Japanese League star right-hander Yu Darvish. As a result, their pitching remains a big question mark heading into 2012. If they get some good pitching from their starters they could actually be much better than they were in 2011.

STARTERS

Left-hander Ricky Romero begins the 2012 season as the unquestioned ace of this team after compiling a 15-11 record and a 2.92 ERA with 178 strikeouts in 225 innings. Romero’s deadly change-up is his best pitch and he keeps hitters off-balance working off his low 90s fastball. At age 27, he has made great strides in just two major-league seasons.

Once again, right-hander Brandon Morrow will be the No. 2 starter, though he actually would be more valuable as a closer. Morrow, 27, throws high-octane gas but has a habit of missing the strike zone and getting bogged down in deep counts. That raises his pitch count and Morrow tends to tire quickly. Hence, he was 11-11 with a 4.72 ERA despite striking out 203 batters in 179 1/3 innings.

The big disappointment was left-hander Brett Cecil, who was 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 2010 but was 4-11 with a 4.73 ERA in 20 starts last season. Cecil, 25, regressed so badly he was sent back to the minors for a part of the season. Because the Jays have few options for their rotation, Cecil likely will be given another shot to stick in 2012. If he succeeds, as he did in 2010, the Jays will have a solid top three pitchers.

Right-hander Henderson Alvarez came up in the middle of the season and finished with a 1-3 record and a 3.53 ERA in only 10 starts. Alvarez, only 21, is an excellent control pitcher and he could end up making a huge leap forward if he can secure the No. 4 spot this season.

The Blue Jays are also counting on old friend to be their No. 5 starter in Dustin McGowan, who pitched briefly last season for the first time since the 2008 season. Shoulder problems derailed what looked to be a promising pitcher in 2007 when he was 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA for the Jays. The Jays are counting on him bouncing back this season.

The pressure is on McGowan, too. There is little depth behind him.

In short, this Blue Jays rotation looks to be a bit suspect but it has the potential to exceed expectations.

BULLPEN

The most signifcant moves the Jays made was the signing 36-year-old right-hander Francisco Cordero as a free agent and acquiring 28-year-old right-hander Sergio Santos from the White Sox.

Leaky middle relief and the lack of a consistent closer cost the Jays dearly last season.

Cordero likely was signed to be a setup man for Santos despite the fact Cordero nailed down 36 saves in 43 chances with the Reds last season. Cordero was 5-3 with  2.45 ERA with the Reds but he still will to defer to Santos.

Santos came out of nowhere last season to become the White Sox closer with 30 saves in 36 tries and a 4-5 record with a 3.55 ERA. Should Santos falter for any reason, Cordero could easily slide into that role by virtue of his 327 career saves.

The Blue Jays also bolstered their bullpen by adding seemingly ageless left-hander Darren Oliver (who is 41) to a bullpen that already includes steady right-handers Jason Frasor and Casey Janssen. Former starter Jesse Litsch and long man Carlos Villanueva add depth to what now looks to be a strong group in 2012.

STARTING LINEUP

Bautista will not be shuttling from right-field to third base as he has in the past. The reason is the Jays think they have their third baseman for the forseeable future in Brett Lawrie.

Lawrie came up late in 2011 and showed he was ready for prime time by hitting nine home runs and driving in 25 runs with a .293 batting average in only 150 at bats. Projected over a full season, Lawrie’s numbers would approach Bautista’s. So Lawrie bears watching as a star of the future if he isn’t already.

Adam Lind also helped the Jays by slugging 26 home runs and driving in 87 runs hitting behind Bautiista. Though Lind could stand to hit better than the .251 mark he posted, the Jays have to be encouraged that he hit .243 against left-handers last season.

The Jays gave up on second baseman Aaron Hill and acquired Kelly Johnson from the Diamondbacks in a trade of Hill. However, Johnson and Hill are virtually alike in they are both mid-average power hitters. Johnson hit 21 home runs in 2011 after hitting 26 in 2010. Johnson also can steal bases. He swiped 16 last season.

The Jays also traded for troubled Cardinals outfielder Colby Ramus, who rejected hitting advice from coaches in St. Louis while posting a .225 batting average with 14 home runs and 53 RBIs. Because the Jays have failed in developing prospect Travis Snider into a major-league hitter the team has moved on hoping Ramus fulfills his early promise.

Rounding out the outfield is left-fielder Eric Thames, who hit .282 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in just over half a season.

The Jays did seem to strike gold by prying shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Braves. Escobar, 29, hit .290 with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs as a leadoff hitter for most of the 2011 season.

The DH spot likely will go mostly to Edwin Encarnacion, who hit .272 with 17 home runs and 55 RBIs in 134 games last season.

This Blue Jay offense is laden with power but Farrell introduced the concept of the stolen base to the formerly station-to-station Jays. However, the team leader, Rajai Davis, stole 34 bases but is now cast in a bench role so I am not sure how much stealing this team will do in 2012.

The Jays also developed a young catcher in J.P. Arencibia, who had 23 home runs and 78 RBIs in a his rookie season. But even with all that production, Arencibia hit  just .219. He needs some work on defense too but the Jays are hopeful because he is only 26.

BENCH

Davis, a speedster who had hit .284 with 50 steals for the A’s in 2010 fell off to hit .238 for the Jays in 2011. So he is locked in a battle with former Phillies outfielder Ben Francisco for a backup spot.

Though Snider has been a disappointment for the third straight season, the left-handed slugger just turned 24 and the Jays remain hopeful he someday will put it together. He may land back in Triple-A for the 2012 season, however.

Mike McCoy will be the primary infield reserve. He lacks range but is solid at second, short and third.

Jays backup catcher and defensive wizard Jose Molina left as a free agent for the rival Rays so the Jays acquired former Angels catcher Jeff Mathis to back up Arencibia.

ANALYSIS

The Jays figure to hit more home runs and still fewer bases in 2012. It is team that you can shut down if you have good stuff. But it also is a team that can destroy a pitcher who continually falls behind in the count and does not have good stuff.

The biggest weakness on the team looks to be in the thin starting rotation. Romero is the only real quality pitcher because Morrow has yet to take the next step in his development into a starter, Cecil is a biq question mark, Alvarez needs to prove he belongs and McGowan is pitching after three mostly inactive seasons rehabbing after major shoulder surgery.

The bullpen should be improved and both Santos and Cordero have experience closing. The Blue Jays have some good relievers besides them in Oliver, Frasor and Janssen.

With some real improvement the Jays could contend for the division this season. But in this division, their starting pitching could prevent them from staying competitive as the season unfolds.

I see the Jays perhaps creeping over the .500 mark but still finishing fourth.

ON WEDNESDAY – PART 3  TAMPA BAY RAYS

 

Nova, Granderson Outshine Halos’ Rookie

GAME 115

YANKEES 9, ANGELS 3

Redemption.

That is a word that can apply to both Ivan Nova and Curtis Granderson. Nova is the rookie who was sent down to the minors and who is trying desperately to stay. Granderson is the veteran who had a horrible initial season with the Yankees but is making everyone forget because of his sterling 2011 season.

Both Nova and Granderson played key roles Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium as New York raced to an early and lead and coasted to victory over Los Angeles.

Nova (11-4) pitched his third consecutive solid game with six strong innings and Granderson provided the bulk of the offense with a pair of home runs and four RBIs as the Yankees defeated a pitcher making his major-league debut against them for the first time since July, 2004.

Nova, 24, gave up three runs on five hits and three walks over six-plus innings to take the lead in victories among all rookie major-league pitchers. In his three starts since he was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Nova is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA. With Manager Joe Girardi looking to remove one starter from what is a six-man rotation at the moment, Nova is staking a claim for one of those five spots.

Granderson and the Yankees opened the scoring early on 23-year-old Garrett Richards, who was called up from Double-A Arkansas to make his debut. But jitters and a sellout crowd of 46,967 may have played a part as he walked Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter to begin the game. Two outs later, Granderson connected with a fastball from the right-hander and he deposited it into the bleachers in right-centerfield for his 30th home run of the season, which ties his career high set with the Detroit Tigers in 2009.

Richards then appeared to settle down for two innings. But the Yankees added a pair of runs in the fourth when Robison Cano opened the frame with a triple and Nick Swisher drove him in with a single. Eric Chavez then followed with a double off the wall in right-center to score Swisher.

Granderson added a run in the fifth with a one-out solo home run off Richards again, this time it landed in the second deck down the right-field line. Granderson now has has a career-high 31 home runs and 91 RBIs on the season.

Richards (0-1) pitched five innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks and he struck out two.

Nova was touched for a solo home run off the bat of Peter Bourjos in the fifth and he was chased in the seventh after he gave up a walk to Torii Hunter, a single to Mark Trumbo, an RBI single to Vernon Wells that scored Hunter and a walk to Alberto Callaspo to load the bases. Before the sixth inning, Nova had recorded 14 of his 18 outs on ground balls.

Rafael Soriano was summoned from the bullpen to replace Nova. He did allow Trumbo to score but the Yankees gladly gave up the run to complete a Jeter to Teixeira double play. Soriano then retired Jeff Mathis on a flyout to end the threat.

The Yankees meanwhile tacked three more runs on the board off reliever Joel Pineiro. Cano struck the big blow in the seventh with his 19th home run of the season, a two-run lined shot to the opposite field in left-center.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 70-45. They also gained a full game on the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East as the Minnesota Twins defeated Jon Lester and his teammates 5-2 at Target Field. The Yankees now trail by 1 1/2 games. The Angels, meanwhile, fell to 64-53.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova was unable to locate his slider at all. So he was forced to rely on his sinking fastball and curveball exclusively. Catcher Russell Martin said Nova’s stuff was the worst he has had since he was recalled but the decision to scrap the slider showed how much Nova has matured as a pitcher in a short time. His effort means Girardi must decide to trim a starter from between Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett.
  • Granderson showcased his unbelievable revival season to a national TV audience on ESPN. Though most pundits believe Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox is the front-runner for the A.L. MVP award, Granderson is giving the first baseman a run for his money with his magnificent season. To have 31 homers, 91 RBIs, a major-league-leading 104 runs scored and a .275 average with 22 stolen bases in early August is not too shabby.
  • Cano is beginning to rediscover his home run stroke. He has three home runs in his last seven games and he is 10-for-28 (.357) with seven RBIs over that span. Five of his 10 hits have been for extra bases. Cano is batting .343 in August and has raised his average to .299.
  • Soriano is proving his arm is sound after returning from two months on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation. In his five appearances, Soriano has not given up a hit or a run in his five innings of work. He also has not walked a batter and struck out five. His presence deepens the bullpen and takes some pressure off David Roberston and Mariano Rivera.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

There is not much to criticize tonight. Nova pitched well, the offense got untracked early and there were some exceptional defensive plays that helped the Yankees maintain their lead. Breaking their three-game losing streak was very much needed.

BOMBER BANTER

Alex Rodriguez will get back into action on Friday as the designated hitter at a minor-league game in Tampa, FL. Rodriguez, who is recovering from right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, will either play for the Class A Advanced Yankees or the Gulf Coast League Yankees and then play third base in a game on Saturday. The Yankees hope to activate Rodriguez on their road trip to Kansas City that begins on Monday.  . . .  For the third consecutive game, Chavez was inserted as the designated hitter against a right-handed starter instead of Jorge Posada. With Andruw Jones drawing the DH duties against left-handers, it appears Posada, who is hitting .167 in August after hitting .217 in July, is without a defined role on the team.  . . .  Despite blowing his fifth save of the season on Sunday and losing his second game of the season on Monday, the Yankees are not concerned about Rivera. Despite the back-to-back setbacks, Rivera is 1-2 with a 2.23 ERA and 29 saves in his 46 appearances.

ON DECK

The Yankees will try to win the rubber game of theie three-game home series against the Angels on Thursday.

Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.33 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Though Colon lasted only 4 2/3 innings on Friday against the Red Sox, he gave up only two runs on six hits in a game the Yankees won 3-2. Colon beat the Angels on June 5 in Anaheim, giving up three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He is 7-5 with a 3.25 ERA against them since 2001.

Colon will be opposed by Angels rookie right-hander Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.10 ERA). Chatwood has given up 11 runs over 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts. He has just one win since June 25. He has never faced the Yankees before.

Game-time will be at 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised by the YES Network.