Tagged: Jered Weaver

Yanks Thank Heaven After Halos’ 9th-Inning Scare

GAME 55

YANKEES 8, ANGELS 7

It is always considered a moral strength for those who have so much to do charitable acts of kindness for those who have so little. But some of the New York Yankees pitchers on Friday took that sentiment too seriously.

The Yankees scored eight runs for Nathan Eovaldi while right-handers Esmil Rogers and Dellin Betances gave most of them back but New York managed to hold on to beat Los Angeles by a single run in front of 40,310 paid at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees took an early and decisive lead on right-hander Jered Weaver and the Angels on a pair of two-out, two-run homers by Stephen Drew and Mark Teixeira in the second and third innings, respectively.

They added another run off Weaver (4-5) in the fifth  –  again with two out  –  on an RBI single by Alex Rodriguez that scored Brett Gardner, who had tripled earlier in the frame. It was Rodriguez’ 1,997 career RBI, which allowed him to pass Barry Bonds for second place on the all-time RBI list.

The Yankees added a pair of runs in the fifth to chase Weaver from the game.

Brian McCann led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout. He then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat Didi Gregorius. Drew followed with solo home run, his second of the game and his seventh of the season.

Weaver, 32, left he game and was charged with a season-high seven runs on nine hits and no walks with two strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Eovaldi (5-1), meanwhile, was cruising through the first five innings, holding the Angels scoreless on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts until he completely lost command of the strike zone in the sixth inning.

He walked three of the first four batters he faced, throwing five strikes and 12 balls, which ended his evening.

Left-hander Chasen Shreve came on and allowed an RBI infield groundout to Kirk Nieuwenhuis before ending the threat by striking out Erick Aybar.

Shreve and rookie left-hander Jacob Lindgren pitched scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively, while the Yankees added a run in the seventh off left-hander Edgar Ibarra on a double by Rodriguez, his third hit of what was a four-hit night, and an RBI single by pinch-hitter Chris Young.

Then the real drama began when Rogers was summoned by manager Joe Girardi to get the final three outs after Angels manager Mike Scioscia had removed Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Aybar from the lineup.

Johnny Giavotella opened the “House of Horrors” inning with a single and Tyler Featherston, who had just entered the game for Aybar and was 1-for-29 on the season, doubled to left.

Grant Green, who had replaced Trout in the batting order, then hit a pop-up between newly inserted second baseman Jose Pirela and Chase Headlley, who had been shifted from third base to first base.

Neither player made the catch and the ball just landed harmlessly between them to score Giavotella.

Rogers then uncorked a wild pitch to allow both Featherston and Green advance and later walked Efren Navarro, who had replaced Pujols, to load the bases. Kole Calhoun then lined a single up the middle to score Featherston.

Girardi replaced Rogers with Betances, who entered the game with 0.00 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings.

David Freese greeted the right-hander with a two-run single to center. Matt Joyce walked to reload the bases and Chris Iannetta drew a bases loaded walk to bring the Angels to within two runs at 8-6.

After Betances was able to strike out Niewenhuis for the first out, Giavotella rolled into a fielder’s choice to short that allowed Joyce to score to narrow the margin to a single run.

Beatances then righted the ship just in time to fan pinch-hitter Carlos Perez with the potential tying run on third to gain credit for his second save of the season, though he would likely tell you that he did not deserve it.

Rogers was charged five runs on four hits and a walk facing five batters and he did not record a single out.

Betances ended up giving up his first earned run of the season on the Giavotella fielder’s choice.

Girardi appeared to lose some more of what little hair he had and the hair he did have grew visibly grayer in the ninth. But, in the end, the Yankees were able to send the Angels to their third consecutive defeat while the Yankees won their fourth straight game.

The Yankees lead the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by a half game in the American League East and have a 30-25 season record. The Angels dropped to 28-27.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Drew entered the game with the lowest batting average of any qualifying player in Major League Baseball at .165 and yet he was 3-for-11 in the three-game series against the Seattle Mariners. His 2-for-4 night with two homers and three RBIs give him a .173 average with seven homers and 19 RBIs. Drew is just very lucky that Pirela is batting a weak .237 and top prospect Rob Refsnyder is scuffling on defense at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The Yankees dropped second baseman Brian Roberts on July 28, 2014 after he hit just .237.
  • Texeira is on a real roll during the Yankees’ four-game winning streak. In those games, Teixiera is only 4-for-16 (.250) but he has three homers and eight RBIs. Teixiera is now batting .240 with 17 home runs and 43 RBIs. The 17 homers are second in the majors to Nelson Cruz of the Seattle Mariners, who has 18. The 43 RBIs lead the American League.
  • Rodriguez’s 4-for-5 night raised his batting average from .270 to .284. He now only needs nine more hits to reach the 3,000 hit mark of his career. On May 5, Rodriguez was batting .227. Since then he is 32-for-95 (.337) with five homers and 12 RBIs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Eovaldi, 25, was largely very good on Friday. His split-finger fastball was a devastating pitch for him and kept the Angels off balance. However, he had a 5-0 lead heading into the sixth inning and imploded. He has pitched into the seventh inning in only four of his 11 starts and he is going to have to do better than he did against the Angels. He is 5-1 but it has more to do with his run support than his pitching.
  • Rogers, 29, actually has been worse as a right-hander out the bullpen than David Carpenter, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday. With his dreadful showing on Friday, he is 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA in 31 innings over 17 games. With Carpenter gone, the Yankees have only two right-handers in the bullpen (Rogers and Betances). It appears that with starter Ivan Nova on the way back that right-hander Adam Warren is headed back to the bullpen real soon. It also may be a good idea for Rogers to keep his bags packed.
  • Betances was bad but I actually fault more both Headley and Pirela for allowing that pop-up to drop. That also is a product of Girardi shifting players out of position. It also is not wise to rest a Gold Glove first baseman (Teixeira) when your second baseman (Pirela) is wearing a glove for no particular reason. Still, Headley needed to take charge to call that ball and he did not. It is just a microcosm of the mental and physical errors this team has made on defense. It just has to stop.

BOMBER BANTER

McCann was able to start on Friday because both an MRI and CT scan done on his sore right foot on Thursday were negative. McCann said that the soreness in his foot ran up to his calf and forced him to leave Wednesday’s game in the second inning. However, the 31-year-old catcher said he was fitted we new orthodics for his right arch and he was able to play on Friday. He was 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and he scored a run.  . . .  The Yankees said on Friday that Michael Pineda’s turn in the rotation will be skipped, citing they want to cut the right-hander’s workload after he pitched just 76 1/3 innings last season. Pineda, 26, will not pitch again until June 12 against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Pineda is 7-2 with a 3.33 ERA this season. Girardi told reporters that Pineda was injured and that it only was a concern about the 70 1/3 innings he already has logged.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Angels on Saturday.

Warren (3-4, 3.75 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Despite the fact that Warren held the Oakland Athletics to just two runs in seven innings on Sunday, he lost because the Yankees did not score him any runs. Warren is 1-3 in his past four starts despite posting a 2.70 ERA in that span.

The Angels will counter with hard-throwing right-hander Garrett Richards (5-3, 3.26 ERA). Richards is 2-1 despite yielding 13 runs (11 earned) in his past 18 1/3 innings over his past three starts.

Game-time will be 7:15 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by FOX Sports.

 

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Tanaka’s Sharp Return Gives Yanks Sweep Of M’s

GAME 54

YANKEES 3, MARINERS 1

Based on Masahiro Tanaka’s final rehab start last week and the fact that he had not pitched in a major-league game since April 23, expectations about his return were low and he was placed on a pitch count of 80 to 85.

Based on the results the Yankees received, Tanaka did not need 80 pitches because he dominated the Mariners over seven innings as if he were in midseason form.

Tanaka held the Mariners to one run on three hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in an ace-like performance that allowed New York to complete a three-game sweep of Seattle on Wednesday at Safeco Field.

Tanaka (3-1) needed only 78 pitches (58 of them for strikes) to wade through the Mariners lineup as if he was carving up a Thanksgiving turkey.

Trailing 1-0 to the Yankees, the Mariners scored their lone run off Tanaka in the third inning on a leadoff triple by Brad Miller and an RBI double off the bat of Dustin Ackley. After Mike Zunino struck out, Logan Morrison singled to left and rookie left-fielder Ramon Flores made a perfect throw to home plate to nail a sliding Ackley to keep the game tied.

Tanaka did not allow another base-runner to reach base for the next 4 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old right-hander retired the final 13 batters he faced and struck out five of them. His nine strikeouts are a season high.

The Yankees were able to take an early 1-0 lead on right-hander Taijuan Walker (2-6) on Mark Teixeira’s 16th home run of the season to lead off the second inning. It also was Teixeira’s second home run of the series and his 19th at Safeco Field, which leads all opposing players.

In the fourth inning, the Yankees were able to break the 1-1 tie on a leadoff walk Walker issued to Alex Rodriguez and a two-out, two-run home run deep into the bleachers in right-field by Garrett Jones, who had a three-run home run in the 11th inning on Tuesday that gave the Yankees a 5-2 victory.

It was only Jones’ third home run of the season but he is on a stretch where he has 10 hits in his past 22 at-bats (.455) with three homers and eight RBIs.

The Yankees, however, were unable to solve Walker other than the home runs by Teixeira and Jones.

Walker held the Yankees to three runs on five hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in eight innings. Tanaka was just a bit better.

After Chris Capuano allowed a leadoff single to pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano and struck out Miller in the eighth, manager Joe Girardi summoned closer Andrew Miller for a five-out save.

But the Mariners made it uncomfortable for the 30-year-old left-hander when pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks reached after being plunked on the right foot by a 1-2 slider and Zunino walked to load the bases.

Miller, nonetheless, struck out Morrison after falling behind 3-0 and got Austin Jackson to bounce into a force out to leave the Mariners scoreless and strand all three base-runners. Miller was able to pitch around a two-out infield single by Kyle Seager in the ninth to earn his 17th save in 17 chances.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 29-25 and increased their lead in the American League East to 1 1/2 games over the idle second-place Tampa Bay Rays. The Mariners have now dropped eight consecutive home games to the Yankees dating back to 2013 and they also have lost five straight games overall. Their record dropped to 24-29.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The Yankees got Tanaka back at the perfect time. On May 12, the Yankees were 21-12 and seemingly undeterred by Tanaka’s absence. But from May 13 through May 31, the Yankees were 5-12. Tanaka’s performance gave the Yankees a sweep of the Mariners and seems to have broken a string of some really weak starting pitching performances. Tanaka now teams with Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren give the Yankees a much stronger rotation.
  • Teixeira is just having an amazing season and his 16 home runs and 41 RBIs projects out to 48 home runs and 123 RBIs for the season, barring any setbacks. The 48 home runs would top his previous career high of 43 he hit with the Texas Rangers in 2005. The 123 RBIs would be the most he has collected since he drove in 122 in his first season with the Yankees in 2009. That also was the last time the Yankees won a World Series.
  • There is a very good possibility that Jones’ recent surge has earned him more playing time. Girardi may choose to play Jones in left with Brett Gardner in center and Carlos Beltran in right against right-handed pitchers until Jacoby Ellsbury returns late this month. That would leave Flores on the bench. But he could be used as a defensive replacement for Jones late in games.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Ellsbury was injured on May 19 and Gardner became the team’s leadoff hitter on May 20. He started that stretch of games batting .291. Gardner was 0-for-4 on Wednesday and is now batting .271. In those 14 games as the leadoff hitter, Gardner is 12-for-54 (.222) with 16 strikeouts and only two stolen bases. The upshot is that Gardner is pressing to get on base, he is striking out more and he is less aggressive on the bases when he does reach base. The Yankees really need Ellsbury back badly.

BOMBER BANTER

In a shocking move, the Yankees on Wednesday elected to designate for assignment right-hander David Carpenter to make room on the roster to activate Tanaka from the 15-day disabled list. Carpenter, 29, was 0-1 with 4.82 ERA in 22 appearances. On Tuesday, Carpenter was summoned to pitch to Jackson in the sixth inning with two out and runners at first and third of a 1-1 game and surrendered an RBI double that gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead. The Yankees eventually rallied to tie the game in the ninth and won it in 11 innings. Carpenter was acquired along with left-hander Chasen Shreve on Jan. 1 in a trade with the Atlanta Braves for left-hander Manny Banuelos. With Carpenter’s release the Yankees have five lefties in the bullpen in Miller, Shreve, Capuano, Jacob Lindgren and Justin Wilson.  . . .  Catcher Brian McCann left the game after grounding out in the top of the second inning with continued soreness on the bottom of his right foot. McCann, 31, was replaced by John Ryan Murphy and now is scheduled to have an MRI on Thursday when the team returns to New York. McCann is batting .248 with eight home runs and 33 RBIs in 45 games this season.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a day off after their West Coast swing and they will open a three-game weekend series at Yankee Stadium with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

Eovaldi (4-1, 4.40 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Eovaldi, 25, yielded three runs on 11 hits in a shaky 4 2/3 innings in a game the Yankees eventually won against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday.

Right-hander Jered Weaver (4-4, 4.08 ERA) will start for the Angels. Weaver, 32, gave up three runs on nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings to defeat the Detroit Tigers 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.

 

Roberts Hits First Yankee Homer To Sink Halos

GAME 32

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.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • 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.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • 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.

BOMBER BANTER

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.

COMMENTARY

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.

ON DECK

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.

 

Yanks Barely Hang On To Edge Angels To End Skid

Enough is enough is enough
I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no
enough is enough is enough

                                                        –  “No More Tears” (Enough Is Enough) by Donna Summer

GAME 69

YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5

With the injuries and the losses seemingly about to bring this proud franchise to its knees the wounded, the wavering and the willing among the New York Yankees summoned just enough strength on Sunday to claim a victory to end their long and miserable West Coast road swing.

CC Sabathia held the Angels scoreless for eight innings, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells proved they do can do more than make outs with runners in scoring position and Mariano Rivera inched to the very edge of the precipice of blowing a save before striking out Albert Pujols with the bases loaded and two outs as New York escaped with a victory over Los Angeles.

In the grand scheme of things in a 162-game schedule this game may not mean a whole lot. But in the moment, both for manager Joe Girardi and his battered and beleaguered ball club,  this one at Angel Stadium was a very special victory.

Sabathia (7-5) served notice early that he was not going to lose without a fight by dazzling the potent Angels with eight innings of pure brilliance, allowing them four miserable little singles and two walks while he struck out six. He even used two double plays to wriggle out of any potential danger the Angels wanted to throw his way.

Even when Mike Trout laced a lined single off the 6-foot-7 left-hander with two out in the sixth inning, Sabathia waved off Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue as if to say “I am going to win this game no matter how much I hurt.”

Meanwhile, the Yankees started off against right-hander Jered Weaver (1-3) as if it was going to be another one of those days where they flood the bases with runners all day and only to have their efforts to score dashed by weak popups or strikeouts.

Brett Gardner opened the game with a double and Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk. Both then advanced a base when Weaver’s attempted pickoff of Gardner eluded Erick Aybar for an error.

But the Yankees struggling 3-4-5 hitters ended the threat when Robinson Cano struck out, Hafner walked and Wells hit into a double play.

But the Yankees somehow put it all together in the third inning.

Chris Stewart walked, Gardner singled to advance Stewart to third and then Gardner swiped second base to set up yet another threat with runners at second and third and no outs.

Forgive the cynical Yankees fans for not being surprised when Suzuki struck out and Cano popped up to shallow left, leaving both Stewart and Gardner where they were.

But on a 1-2 count, Hafner stroked what might have been the biggest home run the Yankees have delivered since Aaron Boone’s solo shot off Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in 2003.

Hafner lit into a high breaking pitch and sent into the bleachers in left-center for what was only his third hit and his first home run since he hit his 10th on June 5 against his former Cleveland Indians. Further forgive the cynical Yankee fans for not believing what they they just witnessed.

But the inning continued when Wells singled and Lyle Overbay, pressed back into the lineup at first base in the absence of an injured Mark Teixeira, drove him home with a double off the wall in center. Jayson Nix then capped the rally with a lined single to left to score Overbay.

The Yankees had a 5-0 lead. Smelling salts and ammonia must have been used in great quantities all across the tri-state area for the team’s disbelieving fans.

The Yankees added a seemingly meaningless run at the time in the eighth inning off right-hander Jerome Williams when Cano led off with a double, moved to third on a Hafner groundout and scored on a deep fly ball off the bat of Wells.

But this is the 2013 Yankees, after all. So nothing is ever going to be that easy for them, right?

So fast-forward to the ninth with a determined Sabathia on the mound trying to close out his second complete-game victory of the season and a shutout of the Angels at that.

But Peter Bourjos singled and Trout doubled within just eight pitches and Sabathia left in favor of right-handed setup man David Robertson. Surely, this game would end soon or would it?

But Pujols lined a single so hard off Robertson’s back that it caromed all the way to Suzuki in right-field to score Bourjos and end Sabathia’s shutout.

After Robertson got the hot-hitting Yankee-killer Howie Kendrick to strike out swinging, he walked pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to load the bases.

Exit Robertson and enter Rivera looking for his 24th save in 25 chances in what would be his last appearance at the “Big A.”

Rivera seemingly restored order by retiring Aybar on a bounce-out to Overbay at first that scored Trout but left two out.

However, neither the “baseball gods’ or the Halos were quite through toying with the fragile psyche of the Yankees  –  not to mention their fans who just cleared their heads from the salts and ammonia from the five-run outburst in the third inning.

In quick succession, Alberto Callaspo floated a single into right to score two runs, pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe plopped a bloop single to left to put two runners on with two out and Bourjos followed with a feather-soft looper to left to score Callaspo.

Yep, the Angels managed three hits off the great Rivera but none of them could have broken a pane of glass and they came off the bat as if the ball were struck with wet newspapers.

Trout then got Girardi and the Yankees reaching for the Rolaids when he drew a walk to load the bases. The paid crowd of 41,204 did not know if they were witnessing a cruel close to Rivera’s career in Anaheim and a proud team about to commit “collective baseball suicide” by blowing a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

That left Rivera to face the Angels legendary Pujols.

It was as if Rivera had said to himself, “Enough fooling around.” There was no mystery in what pitch Pujols would be getting and he got three of them.

First, a 94-mile-per-hour cutter for a called strike. Then a 94-mph cutter Pujols could only foul off. Then as the crowd stood, the runners took their leads and Girardi and his team swallowed their hearts, Rivera delivered his final 94-mph missive plate-ward and Pujols swung hard for horsehide and only came up with California air for strike three.

As Stewart raced out to congratulate Rivera, the 43-year-old future Hall of Fame closer did not smile. He knew it was a victory but he would have to admit it was more of an escape.

But this Yankee team will take it.

Despite the fact they had lost five games in a row. Despite the fact they had lost 13 of their previous 20 games. Despite the fact the lineup looks like the Yankees are playing a split-squad game in Dundin, FL, in March, the Yankees are still 38-31 on the season.

They are in third place in the American League East behind the first-place Boston Red Sox and the second-place Baltimore Orioles. But they are a mere two games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.

The Angels are in even worse shape. They are 30-39 and are 11 games out in fourth place in the A.L. West.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • It was nice to see Sabathia basically take the team on his back and carry them to victory despite what happened in the ninth. The team ace is supposed to stop the bleeding and that is exactly what Sabathia did on Sunday. If the Yankees could ask anything more of the 32-year-old left-hander it would be for him to string together about four or five more just like them.
  • Hafner’s home run was a big hit for him just as much as it was for the Yankees. Hafner, 36, began May hitting .318 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. But he hit just .179 in May and was hitting an anemic .111 in June. His demise may not be over but the Yankees still need him to provide power and production in the middle of the lineup. He is now hitting .221 and he is lot better hitter than that.
  • The unsung hero of this team has been Nix. All Nix did on Sunday was deliver three of the Yankees’ nine hits, he drove in a run with a two-out hit and he started a nifty 5-4 double play off the bat of Aybar in the fifth inning that erased a situation of two runners on with no outs. Nix is hitting .259 with a homer and 19 RBIs. But his numbers don’t tell the whole story of how he gets clutch hits, is solid in the field and he plays the game wisely.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I do not care that the Yankees’ three best pitchers (Sabathia, Robertson and Rivera) nearly blew a lead in the ninth and that Reid Brignac was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play to lower his season average to .182. This win was needed and it erases a lot of very bad play on this road trip.

BOMBER BANTER

There was some good news and some and potential bad news about Teixeira’s sore right wrist. An MRI taken in New York indicated only inflammation and no tear in the sheath that he sustained in March. Teixeira was given a cortisone injection and he will be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff in New York on Tuesday. There is a good possibility that Teixeira will have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list but Girardi is happy to know he does not need season-ending surgery on the wrist at this time. Teixeira was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game when he complained about soreness in the wrist. Overbay will play first base until Teixiera returns to the lineup.

ON DECK

The Yankees will lick their wounds, literally, with a day off on Monday before opening a two-game series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Hughes has been up and down all season and his start on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics 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.

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

 

 

No Bull: Yankees’ Pen Shows Halos How It’s Done

GAME 87

YANKEES 5, ANGELS 3

Within 18 hours, the New York Yankees showed the difference between their team and the Los Angeles Angels.

Handed a  5-2 lead in the eighth inning of Friday, the Angels’ bullpen, behind Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen, imploded and gave up four runs in a 6-5 defeat.

On Saturday, Freddy Garcia left the Yankees with a 4-3 lead after five innings and the bullpen, behind setup man David Robertson and closer Rafael Soriano, held the lead as New York took its second straight game this weekend over Los Angeles in front of a paid crowd of 47,789 at Yankee Stadium.

Garcia (4-2) battled the Angels as best he could, giving up three runs on five hits and five walks and striking four batters before having to leave after five innings having thrown 98 pitches.

The Yankees, who lead the major leagues in home runs, hit two more on Saturday to give them 138 on the season and provide the Yankees with a lead they would not relinquish.

After the Angels loaded the bases on Garcia with two out in the first inning, Alberto Callaspo laced a 2-1 pitch into right-field for a two-run single to give the Angels an early 2-0 lead.

However, the Yankees answered in the bottom of the inning after two men were out and Derek Jeter was still on first with leadoff infield single off Angels starter Jerome Williams (6-6). Robinson Cano extended his season-high 17-game hitting streak by lining a long blast into the depths of Death Valley in left-center that struck the top of the wall and bounced into the bleachers for his 21st home run of the season.

Two innings later, Chris Stewart reached first on a single to center and one out later Curtis Granderson lashed a 2-2 pitch down the line into the right-field bleachers for his 24th home run of the season.

The Angels got one of those two runs back in the fourth inning when Howie Kendrick drew a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a Peter Bourjos groundout and scored on a groundout off the bat of Bobby Wilson.

The Yankees added an insurance run in the sixth inning when Alex Rodriguez hit he first pitch of the inning into the gap in left-center for a double and Cano followed with a single up the middle that caromed off the second base bag and rolled into center, allowing Rodriguez to score easily.

Williams gave up five runs on seven hits and one walk and struck out four in six innings.

The Yankees’ vaunted bullpen took it from there.

Cody Eppley pitched two scoreless innings, Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth and Soriano pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two batters, to collect his 22nd save in 23 opportunities this season.

Though the Angels have been one of the Yankees’ toughest opponents over the last decade, the Yankees have now won 30 of their last 45 contests against them.

With the victory, the Yankees have increased their major-league-best record to 56-33 and their lead in the American League East remains at 8 games over the second-place Baltimore Orioles.. The Angels are now 48-43.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano was 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs and is now hitting .315 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs on the season. During his 17-game hitting streak, Cano is 27-for-69 (.391) with six home runs and 19 RBIs. The Yankees are 12-5 over that 17-game stretch and Cano is a big reason behind the surge.
  • Granderson’s home run was his 24th of the season, which puts him in fifth place in the American League in that category. It was Granderson’s first home run since June 30, though he is hitting .281 over that 10-game stretch. Granderson has also struck out 11 times in his 32 at-bats over the last 10 games.
  • Eppley was sensational in his two innings of work. He only gave up a one-out single to Wilson in the sixth. Robertson is also beginning to look more like the Robertson the Yankees were accustomed to seeing before he suffered his left oblique injury. He struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up a single to Bourjos. Soriano has been a revelation in replacing a living legend like Mariano Rivera. Soriano struck out Mike Trout to open the ninth and ended the game by fanning Albert Pujols. This bullpen is just amazing.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I am not going to post any negatives when Garcia kept the lead through five innings, the Yankees got power from Cano and Granderson and the bullpen held the lead late. The Yankees also were 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left only two men on base. Hallelujah!

ON DECK

The Yankees will get out their brooms on Sunday and look for a three-game sweep of the Angels.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (10-3, 3.92 ERA) will take the mound for the Yankees. Nova gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out 10 in six innings in a victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. Nova beat the Angels on May 30 and is 3-1 with a 5.11 ERA in four starts against them in his career.

All-Star right-hander Jered Weaver (10-1, 1.96 ERA) will pitch for the Angels. In his last start on July 7, Weaver shut out the Baltimore Orioles on three hits and one walk and fanned five in eight innings to notch his 10th victory. Weaver is 5-2 with a 4.79 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

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

 

Kuroda Becomes Road Warrior, Blanks Athletics

GAME $7

YANKEES 2, ATHLETICS 0

The Yankees’ weekend trip to Oakland should be called the  “Road to Redemption.”

First, Mark Teixeira’s long slumbering bat came to life and on Sunday the fabled right arm of Hiroki Kuroda started to pay dividends outside of the Bronx.

Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings to end a three-game losing streak and collect his first road victory of the season as New York blanked Oakland for a three-game sweep at o.co Coliseum.

Kuruda (4-6) entered the contest 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA away from Yankee Stadium this season, but he shut down the Athletics sputtering offense on just four hits and one walk while striking out three batters to win his first game since May 11 at home against the Seattle Mariners.

Meanwhile, the Yankees put up just enough runs against rookie left-hander Tommy Milone (6-4) to win their eighth consecutive game at o.co Coliseum, a streak that dates back to July 2011. Milone had entered the contest 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA at home this season.

Designated hitter Andruw Jones put the Yankees on the board early by blasting a first-pitch fastball from Milone over the wall in left-center to lead off the second inning.

That run stood up until the seventh inning, when the Yankees tacked on an insurance run with two outs. Curtis Granderson singled to right and Teixeira followed with a double off the wall in right-center that scored Granderson. Teixeira began the series in a terrible slump and was 8-for-14 (.571) with three home runs and eight RBIs in the series.

Milone gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks and he struck out three in 6 2/3 innings.

Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out Seth Smith swinging as the tying run at the plate, to earn his fifth save in as many opportunities on the season.

The A’s, meanwhile, suffered their fifth straight loss as the Yankees racked up their fifth straight victory.

The Yankees’ season record now stands at 26-21. The A’s fell to 22-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • For as bad as Kuroda has been in his last three starts, he was exceptional against the A’s. He faced the minimum through the first four innings and he did not allow a runner to reach second base until the seventh inning. He also pitched out of a jam in the seventh with Coco Crisp on third and Smith on first and one out by striking out Kila Ka’aihue and retiring Josh Donaldson on a routine fly ball. With his eight shutout innings, Kuroda lowered his ERA from 4.56 to 3.96.
  • Teixeira was 2-for-4 in the game with two doubles, including the one that padded the Yankees’ lead in the seventh inning. Manager Joe Girardi even entrusted him by batting him third in the lineup after he has spent most of the season batting fifth. Teixeira entered the series hitting .226 and he leaves with his average up to .254.
  • Jones’ home run was his fifth of the season and his first home run since May 11 against the Mariners. Oddly, that was the same game in which Kuroda won his last game. Perhaps it is something in the combination that is at work here.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Yankees loaded the bases in the first inning against Milone when Derek Jeter led off with a single, Granderson walked and, one out later, Alex Rodriguez singled sharply to right-field. However, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher popped up weakly to end the threat. The Yankees are one for the last 30 at-bats with the bases loaded.
  • In addition, the Yankees were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the game. Swisher struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt with two on and one out in the third inning and he left a total of five runners on base in the game.
  • Advancing runners has also been a problem. In the second inning, Jayson Nix followed Jones’ home run with a double. However, Chris Stewart failed to advance him when he popped up a bunt. In the third, Teixeira led off with a double and Rodriguez grounded out to third and failed to move him up. This is why the Yankees struggle to get runs across.

BOMBER BANTER

Jeter’s single to lead off the game gave him 3,155 hits in his career and he passed Royals Hall-of-Famer George Brett to claim 14th place on the all-time hits list. Next up on the list is Cal Ripken, who is in the 13th place with 3,184 hits.  . . .  Starting catcher Russell Martin was held out of Sunday’s game with a stiff neck. Stewart caught Kuroda instead. The Yankees do not think the condition is serious and they hope Martin will be able to play on Monday.

ON DECK

Having swept Oakland, the Yankees head on to Anaheim for a three-game series that starts on Monday.

Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.94 ERA) will return to pitch in front of family and friends at Angel Stadium, which is near where he was born. Hughes has won three of his last four starts and beat the Royals on Tuesday, giving up just two runs on five hits in six innings. He is 3-2 with a 7.61 ERA in his career against the Angels.

He will face Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (6-1, 2.61 ERA). Weaver gave up just one run in eight innings against the Athletics on Wednesday, but he did not get a decision in what ended up as a Los Angeles victory. Weaver is 5-2 with a 4.79 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 9:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Gardner Allows Yankees To Steal One From Halos

YANKEES 5, ANGELS 3


So many times the New York Yankees have lost to the Los Angeles Angels because of the Angels’ daring on the bases. On Monday night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned the tables on his counterpart Mike Scioscia and stole a victory.
With the score tied 3-3 and pinch-runner Brett Gardner on second and Alex Rodriguez on first with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Girardi called for a daring double steal with Hideki Matsui at the plate. 
Catcher Mike Napoli’s pickoff throw eluded third baseman Chone Figgins and rolled into left-field to allow Gardner to score the deciding run as the Yankees defeated the Angels 5-3 in a pivotal game in the Yankees’ quest to clinch the best record in the American League.
The victory gave the Yankees a six-game lead over the AL West-leading Angels for the best record in the American League, five games in the loss column. The victory also extended the Yankees lead over the second-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East to 7 1/2 games. The Yankees magic number for clinching the AL East is now 12 games.
Gardner was happy to have helped the Yankees beat Scioscia and the Angels at their own game. 
“They obviously didn’t put me out there to score on a single,” said Gardner. “They told me to take a chance.”

With one out Mark Teixeira started the Yankees rally when he slammed a ground-rule double to right-field off Angels starter Jered Weaver (15-6). After Weaver seemingly pitched around Rodriguez for a walk, Scioscia summoned left-hander Darren Oliver to face Matsui. Girardi then rolled the dice by replacing Teixeira, who was 3-for-4 in the game, with the speedy Gardner.
Girardi told him to take third when it was possible.
“He knows why we put him out there,” Girardi told MLB.com. “We could leave the other guys out there if we wanted to play station to station.”

On the third pitch to Matsui, Gardner made a dash to third with Rodriguez trailing the play by taking second. Napoli’s throw skipped past Figgins and rolled well into left-field, allowing Gardner to break the tie without a play. Rodriguez moved to third on the error.
“I’ve had to make that throw, and it’s a tough throw,” Girardi said. “You’re taught to throw it to the bag, but it’s hard to throw it there sometimes when there’s nobody there. And it just worked.”

After Matsui struck out, the Yankees pulled another strategic stroke of genius over Scioscia. Scioscia called for Oliver to walk switch-hitter Jorge Posada so that Oliver could face the lefty swinging Robinson Cano.
Cano came into the game 5-for-7 in his career off Oliver. Now he is 6-for-8 because he singled up the middle to score Rodriguez with an insurance run. The Yankees then brought on Mariano Rivera in the ninth and he picked up his 40th save of the season.
“Tonight was [Girardi’s] game, making a great change in putting in Gardy for Tex,” Nick Swisher said to MLB.com. “For him to get that stolen base and come into score, hat’s off to Skip. Think about it — just a great move in general, taking out one of your best hitters and bringing in a speed demon.”

“We knew if there was a window, [Gardner] was going to try to take it,” Scioscia said. “[Shortstop Erick Aybar] was right there, pinching him, [Oliver] was aware, and I really thought we controlled his jump. I thought those guys did a good job. We didn’t finish the play, but the timing of it was in our favor.”

The Yankees actually trailed the Angels early when Vladimir Guerrero slammed a hanging curveball from starter Joba Chamberlain for a home run to left-field to lead off the second inning.

The Yankees answered back in their half of the third when Nick Swisher also blasted a hanging Weaver curveball into the second deck down the right-field line for his 27th home run of the season. Swisher started the homestand with only three home runs at home all season. The home run on Monday gave him three in his past eight home games.

The Angels added in a run in the fifth inning off Alfredo Aceves, who came in to pitch for Chamberlain after he pitched four innings. 

Aybar opened the inning with a ringing double to right-center. Light-hitting Jeff Mathis bunted Aybar to third on a sacrifice bunt. Figgins then followed with a grounder to second that scored Aybar.

The Yankees to
ok back the lead their half of the fifth after Swisher doubled to right and Melky Cabrera walked. Derek Jeter dropped down a sacrifice bunt to get Swisher to third and Cabrera to second. 

Then Cabrera made a bad base-running mistake that cost the Yankees a run. Johnny Damon hit a high-hopping grounder that Figgins moved to his left to catch. But Cabrera, running in the baseline, ran into Figgins and was called out by the umpires for interference and Swisher was forced to return to third base.

But Teixeira saved Cabrera when he smacked a long triple to dead center-field to score Swisher and Damon and make the score 3-2.

Teixeira actually yelled at Mathis behind the plate for interfering with his swing. Teixeira was concerned that if center-fielder Torii Hunter had caught the drive he would have been able to reach on the catcher’s interference. But Teixeira was glad to take the triple and the two RBIs, which pushed his league-leading RBI total to 111.

“He’s been having a terrific season for them,” Scioscia said to MLB.com. “And he’s been doing a lot of things that we saw in half a year for us last year, and he’s obviously had a big impact for those guys.”

Chamberlain pitched somewhat better in his four innings. He surrendered just the one run on four hits, walked none and struck out two. He threw 67 pitches and 41 were strikes as the Yankees continue with their revised “Joba Rules.”

“You find a rhythm and want to continue to go, but we did everything we wanted to accomplish in this start,” Chamberlain said. “I’ll just continue to build and work on everything. It’s just little mechanics here and there, and we’re going to continue getting after it.”

Aceves, at the time in line for his AL-leading 11th game in relief, got some help from Phil Coke in the seventh inning after he issued walks to Juan Rivera and pinch-hitter Gary Matthews around one out. Coke fanned Figgins looking but nearly gave up a game-tying single to Maicer Izturis.

Izturis slapped a 3-2 fastball back up the middle but Jeter, ranging far to his left, snagged it just beyond the second base bag, whirled and pegged an off-balance one-hop throw to first that Teixeira dug out the dirt to preserve the lead.

But, despite the excellent play in the field, the Angels did manage to tie the game in the eighth off Phil Hughes (7-3). Bobby Abreu and Guerrero opened the frame with singles. Hughes then walked Hunter to load the bases.

Though Hughes managed to get Kendry Morales to hit into a double play, Abreu scored from the third with the tying run.

“You’d like to get out of that without giving up a run, but obviously, with the bases loaded and nobody out, the chances of that are pretty slim,” Hughes said to MLB.com. “I knew with the way we’ve been swinging, we’d have a chance to take the lead again.”

Hughes retired pinch-hitter Howie Kendrick on a liner to Teixeira and Girardi cited Hughes minimizing the
damage as a key to the Yankees winning the game in eighth.

The game definitelyhad the aura of what could be a preview the American League Championship Series.

The game, a one-game makeup of a rainout on May 3, drew 44,701. The two teams still have three games remaining in Anaheim in a series that starts next Monday.

“We know the teams that we’re going to hopefully be playing in October, if we get there,” Teixeira said. “The Angels are going to be one of them. You need to measure yourself up against the best.”

The fact that Girardi had Gardner steal this game away from the Angels is something the Yankees can file away for a possible October rematch.