YANKEES 3, MARINERS 1
When Andy Pettitte came up to the New York Yankees in 1995 anyone could have spotted quickly there was something different about him as opposed to most young pitchers: He was driven to succeed and he would battle with every ounce of strength he had to win.
Some 18 years later he displayed those same qualities against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday and it was something special to see.
Pettitte (5-3) completely shut down the Mariners on one run on just three hits to notch the 250th victory of his career as New York defeated Seattle in front of 38,250 fans at Safeco Field.
The 40-year-old left-hander did not walk a batter and struck out six to pass Vic Willis for 43rd place on the all-time victory list. Pettitte needed only 85 pitches and he threw 59 of them for strikes, which is a tidy 69 percent rate.
The Yankees, meanwhile, got a pair of RBI singles from Jayson Nix to make a loser out of left-hander Joe Saunders (4-6).
With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki drew a leadoff walk and, one out later, Chris Stewart singled to center. After Brett Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Stewart, Nix slapped a two-out opposite-field single to right to score Suzuki with what proved to be the game-winning run.
The Yankees chased Saunders in the seventh inning when Gardner lofted a one-out double into right-center.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge replaced Saunders with right-hander Danny Farquhar and Nix greeted him with a line-drive single to center that scored Gardner.
David Robertson pitched two-thirds of an inning of the eighth and Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the side, to earn his 22nd save in 23 chances this season.
The Yankees opened the scoring with two outs in the first inning when Mark Teixeira doubled to left and Robinson Cano stroked a looping single into right to score Teixeira.
The Mariners managed to tie the game in the fourth against Pettitte, but it was a missed opportunity by Nix that allowed it to happen.
Jason Bay led off the frame with a single to left and Kyle Seager followed with a lined single to right.
Kendrys Morales, who left the game after this at-bat because of a back injury, then rolled a potential double-play ball to short that Nix bobbled. Nix was able to get a throw off to first to retire Morales but Michael Morse made Nix and the Yankees pay when he lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Bay.
The Yankees won their fifth out their past six games to improve their season record to 36-26. They remain in second place in the American League East 1 1/2 games ahead of the first-place Boston Red Sox. The Mariners dropped to 27-36.
- In his first start off the 15-day disabled list on June 3, Pettitte ran out of gas in the fifth inning and surrendered three runs to the Cleveland Indians that left the game tied at 4-4. Pettitte was determined not to let that happen again. He retired the first nine batters he faced and in six of the seven full innings he pitched he retired the side in order. This was Pettitte at his best and it bolsters the depth of the Yankees’ starting rotation.
- Though Nix’s misplay did ruin Pettitte’s shutout, he more than made up for it at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base and two RBIs. Very quietly Nix has been one of the hottest hitters on the Yankees since May 24. In that span, Nix is 15-for-44 (.341) with a home run and seven RBIs. Nix may not be a superstar but he is a solid ballplayer. You get a professional day of work out of him and you hardly know he’s there.
- Gardner is settling in nicely as the leadoff hitter after hitting only .252 in April. Gardner was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored and is 19-for-58 (.328) since May 24 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. In fact, Gardner has 26 RBIs, which is fourth on the club, and he is doing it from the leadoff spot.
- Kevin Youkilis drew a walk in the sixth inning, which extended his streak of reaching base in all 23 games he has played at Safeco Field. But he was 0-for- 3 in the game with two strikeouts and double play grounder. Since Youkilis’ return from the disabled list on May 31, he is 4-for-28 (.143) with no homers or RBIs. His season average has sunk to .239.
- David Adams got a start at third base but his recent troubles at the plate are continuing. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and his season average has now dipped to .217. The Yankees opted to send out outfielder Brennan Boesch in order to keep Adams but it is looking like Adams needs more work at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees will complete their four-game weekend series with Seattle on Sunday.
Right-hander David Phelps (4-3, 4.17 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Phelps is coming off what could be the best start of his career on June 4 against the Indians. The 26-year-old hurler gave up just one hit over six shutout innings. Phelps also is 1-0 with 0.00 ERA in his career against the Mariners.
But Phelps draws ace right-hander Felix Hernandez (7-4, 2.58 ERA). Hernandez won his last start on June 4 but gave up four runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox. Hernandez is 8-5 with a 2.99 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
Hear people talk about going to heaven
Grab a little bit of heaven right here on Earth
Troubled times lead to healing times
I was sad now I’m feeling fine
It’s the taking and the giving that makes this life worth living,
Makes this life worth living
– Lyrics to “State of Mind” by Raul Midon
GAME 3 – AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
YANKEES 3, ORIOLES 2 (12 INNINGS)
There have some memorable home runs in Yankees’ history: Bucky Dent in 1978, Reggie Jackson in 1979 and Aaron Boone in 2003. How about adding a pair of them from Raul Ibanez in 2012?
Yankee manager Joe Girardi – summoning up all the courage of his convictions – sent Ibanez to pinch-hit for a player who is fifth on the all-time home run list in Alex Rodriguez with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning and Ibanez delivered a huge game-tying line-drive home run to right on the first pitch from Orioles closer Jim Johnson.
Three innings later, Ibanez led off the bottom of 12th inning with a high-arcing, no-doubt-about-it blast on the first pitch from left-hander Brian Matusz into the second deck in right-field of Yankee Stadium as New York became the first team this season to defeat Baltimore in walk-off fashion.
The come-from-behind victory on Wednesday also turned the momentum of the series clearly to the team in pinstripes as the Yankees have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and the next two games will be in their backyard. They will have a chance to punch their own ticket to the American League Championship Series with a victory on Thursday.
The Yankees have also proven to be a bit of a thorn in the side of the Orioles in extra innings this season. After the Orioles lost their first two extra-inning games of the regular season to the Yankees, they ran off a streak of 16 straight to finish 2012. But they have now lost a third game in extra frames to the Yankees and this one really stung because the O’s were two outs from victory in the ninth.
As with all of the three games of series, the Yankees and Orioles got locked into another pitchers’ duel between 37-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda and 28-year-old rookie right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.
Both were brilliant. Both would have been worthy victors. But both left the game empty-handed.
Kuroda was tagged for a pair of home runs from two Orioles’ rookies, Ryan Flaherty hit one with one out in the third and Manny Machado posted his leading off the fifth.
Other than those two mistakes, Kuroda proved to be worth every bit of the $10-million, one-year contract to which he was signed this winter. Kuroda only gave up the two runs on five hits, one walk and two hit batters while he fanned three in 8 1/3 innings.
However, the Yankees had another difficult time trying figure out Gonzalez. In his two regular season starts against the Yankees, Gonzalez was 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in the Bronx.
In this contest, the Yankees only got to Gonzalez in the third inning when Russell Martin lined a one-out double off the wall in the left-field corner and Derek Jeter lined a high fastball into center-field that Adam Jones misjudged into a triple.
Gonzalez, along with Darren O’Day pitching a 1-2-3 frame in the eighth, shut down the Yankees cold until the ninth. Gonzalez surrendered just the one run on five hits and no walks while he fanned eight Yankees in seven innings.
The ninth began with Johnson, who gave up a game-winning home run to Martin and five runs (four earned) in Baltimore’s 7-2 loss in Game 1, retired Suzuki on a routine fly ball to left.
Girardi then stunned the paid crowd of 50,497 by sitting Rodriguez, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in the game and 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the series, and sending up instead 40-year-old outfielder/designated hitter Ibanez to face the right-handed Johnson.
Girardi figured that the lefty-hitting Ibanez had a better chance of pulling Johnson’s “bowling-ball” sinker out to right-field than Rodriguez had hitting the same pitch to the deeper dimensions in left – especially with a swirling wind blowing out stronger to right.
On Johnson’s first delivery, Ibanez managed to put the barrel of the bat on the low fastball and lift it up on a line about five rows back into the bleachers in right as the fans in the stadium and the Yankees in the dugout went into delirium for getting to the closer, who led the American League with 51 saves this season, in two games this series.
Johnson had only given up three home runs during the regular season. He now has given up two critical longballs (to Martin and Ibanez) within four days to the playoff-tested Yankees.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ bullpen was doing a number on the powerful Orioles’ lineup.
Lefty Boone Logan came in to relieve Kuroda with one out in the ninth and struck out the lefty-swinging Jim Thome, who along with A-Rod are the only two active players who have 600 or more home runs.
Yankees closer Rafael Soriano came on to strike out the righty-swinging Mark Reynolds and he also contributed a scoreless 10th inning.
Right-hander David Robertson (1-0) pitched two scoreless frames in the 11th and 12th to set the stage for Ibanez’s heroics in 12th.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter elected to use Matusz (0-1) in the 12th after he pitched a perfect 11th. Matusz was thought to be among the Orioles’ best young starters when the season began but he was banished to the bullpen, where he became e a specialist against left-handed hitters like Ibanez.
But Ibanez stepped to the plate looking for a fastball up in the zone so he could drive it out and Matusz obliged him. The sound of the bat striking the ball was all you needed to hear because it struck flush on the sweet spot and the ball rose majestically into the thin 62-degree, low-humidity air.
Wind or no wind, it was obvious to the Yankees and to Matusz where it was going. The only doubt was how far back into the second deck it would land.
Ibanez tossed his helmet as jogged around third and headed toward home plate. His thrilled teammates were there to pound him about as hard he hit the baseball. Matusz turned away the second the ball was struck and trudged slowly to the dugout – his head down and with the look of a defeated punch-drunk fighter wearily stumbling to his corner after yet another crushing knockout.
For the veteran-laden Yankees, who have participated in 17 of the past 18 postseasons, it was just another day at the office. But destiny laid her precious hands on their backs and provided them with a gentle nudge to yet another classic postseason victory.
For the young and cobbled-together Orioles, who have not been in a postseason since 1997, it was a cold slap in the face with some serious reality. Another defeat will mean this magical trip to the big dance will end up with them as wallflowers again.
If you want to beat the Yankees you had better beat them when you have a chance. The Orioles have had chances in all three games to do just that. But they failed twice.
That is twice too many.
- Give Girardi credit for doing something most managers would never do in benching Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth. But give Ibanez even more credit for coming through with another pair of clutch hits for the Yankees. On Sept. 22, Ibanez entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth and stroked a solo homer to tie it at 5-5. He later tied the game again with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 13th as the Yankees rallied from a 9-5 deficit in the top of the 13th. The Yankees won the game in the bottom of the 14th, 10-9. On Oct. 2, Ibanez pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth with one on and no outs and he hit a two-run shot that tied the game against the Boston Red Sox at 3-3. Ibanez later won the game, 4-3, in the bottom of the 12th with a two-out, opposite-field single to right. Ibanez had a lot to do with the Yankees winning the division and he now is poised to become the big hero of the ALDS. He becomes the first player in postseason history to hit two home runs in a game in which he did not start.
- Kuroda, minus the two solo homers, was absolutely amazing in his 8 1/3 innings of work. Those who thought the Yankees’ starting pitching would be their undoing in the series were dead wrong. CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Kuroda have combined to give up only seven runs on 20 hits and three walks and struck out 15 batters over 24 innings. That is an ERA of 2.62 and a WHIP (Walks and Hits to Innings Pitched) of 0.96.
- Jeter entered Game 3 hitting .444 (4-for-9) and added to that by going 2-for-4 with a clutch RBI triple to raise his average to ,462 in the series. On a team where a lot of productive hitters are coming up small in the series, Jeter is not resting on his 216-hit regular season.
- If there was not a left-handed pitcher scheduled for Game 4 for the Orioles, it might have possible that Rodriguez might have been benched altogether. I am not so sure he should not be benched anyway after his 1-for-12 (.083) start. Rodriguez has not really shined in the postseason over the past three years and he looks clueless at the plate in this series.
- Curtis Granderson pulled another one of his disappearing acts in this game. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Granderson is 1-for-11 (.091) with six strikeouts in the series. On two occasions on Thursday, Granderson struck out on just three pitches. He and Rodriguez seem to be having a contest going on who can stink it up the most in the series.
- In a game in which the Yankees needed him to hit well, Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 and he saw only 11 pitches. Cano is again being too aggressive at the plate and he is basically getting himself out by hitting pitches that are not in his wheelhouse. Cano is 2-for-12 (.167) for the series but he does have three RBIs.
Jeter fouled a pitch from Gonzalez off his left foot in the third inning two pitches before he legged out his RBI triple. However, Jeter hobbled throughout the rest of the game in noticeable discomfort and was removed in favor of Jayson Nix in the bottom of the ninth inning. It is not clear if the injury will force Jeter to miss Game 4. . . . Injured closer Mariano Rivera threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game 3. Rivera was not introduced but drew a loud standing ovation as the strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” blared from the public address system. Rivera was shelved after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 3 in Kansas City. Rivera, 42, has said he will return to pitch for the Yankees next season.
The Yankees can advance to the ALCS with a victory over the Orioles on Thursday.
The Yankees will send 26-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes (16-13, 4.23 ERA) to the mound. Hughes struggled in September, giving up at least four runs in four of his six starts. However, he is the team leader in victories this season. In his four starts against the O’s he was 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA.
The Orioles will hand over their dying hopes to journeyman 31-year-old lefty Joe Saunders (9-13, 4.07 ERA). Saunders started September off 2-0, but he wound up failing to win in three of his last four starts. He did defeat the Yankees at Camden Yards in his only start against them on Sept. 8.
Game-time will be 7:30 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS.
YANKEES 8, ORIOLES 5
Little ball has its place but the longball has always been the Yankees’ bread and butter. That marvelous power was proudly on display on Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez and Steve Pearce each blasted Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen for home runs as the Yankees put Baltimore in a 7-0 hole after 5 1/2 innings and New York got a solid six innings out of Phil Hughes to take back sole possession of first place in the American League East.
Martin began the power surge in the top of the fourth after Chen hit Nick Swisher with his first offering of the inning and Robinson Cano then drew a four-pitch walk. Rodriguez struck out but Chen started Martin off with two pitches low and out of the strike zone.
Forced to throw a strike, Martin blasted Chen’s “hit-me-hard” high change-up a dozen rows deep into the bleachers in left-field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.
One out later, Andruw Jones singled and Pearce turned around an inside first-pitch fastball into a towering drive to left-field that sailed over the outstretched glove of Nate McLouth at the wall and landed in the first row of the seats. McLouth tried to sell to the umpires that a fan interfered with his attempt to catch the ball but replays clearly indicated McLouth’s glove was over the wall and the fan in the first row did not reach into the field of play.
Nice try, Nate. But cheaters never prosper.
One inning later, the Yankees practically sent Chen crying back to his native Taiwan.
Derek Jeter led off the inning with an opposite field single to right, part of another huge three-hit night for the Yankee captain.
Two outs later, Rodriguez connected on a high fastball and drove it majestically over the bullpens in left-center for his 16th home run of the season and his 300th homer as a Yankee.
It also ended Chen’s evening. In Taiwan, they would say to Chen “zai ken,” which means goodbye.
Chen (12-9) entered the game 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in his three starts against the Yankees this season. He left the game having been ripped to shreds for seven runs on six hits (three of them that covered quite a bit of real estate) and one walk while he struck four in 4 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Hughes (14-12) was shutting out the Birds over the first five innings until a Swisher error on a ball off the bat of J.J. Hardy opened the floodgates in the sixth. McLouth followed a with a double off the wall in right and Adam Jones then homered to plate Baltimore’s first three runs.
Hughes left after six innings having given up three runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks and he fanned five batters to become the first Yankee pitcher to win 14 games this season.
The Yankee bullpen made it interesting for the 40,681 fans who paid to watch this showdown between to the top top teams in the division.
Cody Eppley gave up a solo home run to Robert Andino in the seventh and closer Rafael Soriano was touched for a solo home run by Manny Machado with two out in the bottom of the ninth. But too much damage had been done to Chen and the Orioles by the Yankees’ bats in the middle innings.
Jeter drove in the game’s sole run that did not result from a home run. He scored Ichiro Suzuki with a two-out single off the glove of Andino at second base that padded the Yankee lead to 8-4.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 78-60. The Orioles slipped to 77-61, one game back in second place. The Tampa Bay Rays are two games back in third.
- So much for left-handers having a huge edge on Yankees. All three homers off Chen were from right-handed hitters. With the three bombs he gave up on Friday, Chen has now given up 25 home runs this season. Six of them have come in his four starts against the Yankees. YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay got to really perfect his signature “See-ya” call in this one.
- Hughes came through with a solid six-inning effort and gave the Yankee offense plenty of time to tee off on Chen. Hughes bounced back nicely off his loss to the Orioles in his last start. Before that losing outing, Hughes had pitched at least seven innings in his previous four starts.
- After stinking up the Bronx most of the season, Martin is beginning to show signs of getting hot with the bat. In his last four games, Martin is 6-for-14 (.429) with two homers and seven RBIs. Martin has raised his season average to .204 with 16 home runs and 43 RBIs. The Yankees do need his bat down the stretch.
- The Swisher error at first base was his first error at the position this season. But it proved to be a costly one. The one saving grace was the Yankees did have a 7-0 lead at the time. It ruined what had been a very good outing from Hughes up to that point.
- Eppley and Soriano were touched for late home runs, which proved costly to David Robertson and the Yankees on Thursday. The Yankees’ bullpen has been very good about keeping the ball in the ballpark most of the season. It would be a shame if this trend continued during the stretch drive.
- Curtis Granderson has become virtually useless at the plate and it is beginning to look like he is going to need some time on the bench. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday and he now has just two hits in his last 17 at-bats (.118) and has struck out nine times. Pitchers lately could practically roll the ball to the plate and Granderson would swing and miss.
The Yankees elected to play it safe on Friday and did not start Mark Teixeira at first base. Teixeira, who has missed 11 games with a strained left calf, took batting practice and fielded ground balls, but trainer Steve Donohue recommended Teixeira should rest one more day. He is likely to return to action on Saturday. . . . The Yankees may make a change in their weekend rotation plans because right-hander Ivan Nova is ready to return from the disabled list after suffering inflammation in his right rotator cuff. If Nova does make the start it will be in place of right-hander Freddy Garcia, who is Sunday’s scheduled starter.
The Yankees will resume their pivotal four-game series with the Orioles on Saturday.
Ace left-hander CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.42 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Sabathia is coming off a no-decision in his last start against the Rays. But the Orioles are a team that Sabathia has owned throughout his career, He is 16-3 with a 2.97 ERA against them.
The Orioles will counter with journeyman left-hander Joe Saunders (1-1, 4.63), who will be making only his third start for the O’s. He is coming off a game in which he threw six perfect innings and a shutout over 6 1/3 innings. Saunders is 2-1 with a 6.28 ERA lifetime 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 the YES Network.
“You know that he’s unbelievable when he goes out there,” Girardi told MLB.com. “Let me tell you, it’s nice having him down there.”
hen rocked Rivera with a broken bat bouncer headed for rightfield, but Teixeira dove to his right to stop it and got back to his feet and beat Abreu to the bag for a key first out as Figgins took second.
o second with the Angels’ second sacrifice bunt of the night.