YANKEES, TWINS 3
Just six days ago the Yankees raised eyebrows when they called up 22-year-old first baseman Greg Bird. After the performance he put on Wednesday in place of the injured Mark Teixeira it is now clear just why they called him up.
Bird not only hit one two-run blast for his first Major-League home run, the rookie added another two-run homer that proved to be the game-winner as New York completed a sweep of Minnesota in front of a paid crowd of 38,066 at Yankee Stadium.
With right-hander Nathan Eovaldi pitching a perfect game through five innings, Bird provided him with some early support by connecting in the fourth inning on a 0-1 change-up from right-hander Ervin Santana and launching it into the second deck of the right-field bleachers to score Carlos Beltran, who had singled, to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately for Eovaldi and the Yankees, it was not enough.
The Twins not only broke up the perfect game in the sixth inning. They also sent nine men to the plate and took the lead.
Chris Herrmann started the uprising with a one-out bloop single behind third base. Shane Robinson followed with a hard-hit single to left and Aaron Hicks advanced both base-runners on a groundout.
Eovaldi walked Brian Dozier to load the bases and Joe Mauer followed with a two-run single to right. Eovaldi then walked Miguel Sano to reload the bases and Trevor Plouffe scored Dozier on an infield roller between home plate and third base.
Santana was sailing despite giving up the two-run homer to Bird in the fourth. He held the Yankees to two runs on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts through 5 2/3 innings until he walked Beltran in the sixth inning.
That allowed Bird to come up to the plate. Santana threw him 1-0 fastball and Bird laced it on a high line drive into the Yankees bullpen in right-center to allow the Yankees to reclaim a 4-3 lead.
After Bird rounded the bases and headed into the dugout most of the Yankees fans were on their feet urging the rookie to take his first Yankee Stadium curtain call. After some fevered encouragement from his teammates, Bird came out to tip his cap to the crowd quickly.
“We’re just trying to win games here and anything I can do to help, that’s all I’m trying to do. Nothing more, nothing less,” Bird told reporters.
Eovaldi (13-2) ended up collecting his eighth victory in a row and he is undefeated his past 11 starts. He was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Santana (2-4) pitched 7 2/3 innings but took the loss after giving up four runs on seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
With the Yankees bullpen without the services of Andrew Miller after he pitched in two consecutive games, left-hander Chasen Shreve and right-hander Dellin Betances combined to preserve the victory for Eovaldi by each pitching one scoreless inning.
Betances threw perfect ninth and struck out two batters to earn his eighth save of the season in 11 chances. His two strikeouts gave him 101 on the season and he became the first Yankees relief pitcher to ever strike out 100 or more batters in two consecutive seasons.
With the three-game sweep the Yankees also completed the season series with the Twins at 5-1. Since 2002, the Yankees have a record of 69-27 against the Twins – a .281 winning percentage for the Twins. That percentage is the worst in baseball for any team against any opponent (minimum 50 games).
The Yankees also also have won six of their past seven games and they are now 67-52 this season. Coupled with the loss by the second-place Toronto Blue Jays to the Philadelphia Phillies the Yankees have extended their lead in the American League East to two games.
The Twins fell to 59-61.
- I could tell when I saw Bird’s spring during the exhibition season that he was going to be something special. You can see why he has a combined minor-league average of .282 with 48 home runs in just over 1,200 at-bats. His swing is similar to former Blue Jays first baseman John Olerud and he might end up as a similar type of hitter. The question will be what do the Yankees do with Bird as long Teixeira is playing first base and Alex Rodriguez is the designated hitter?
- Eovaldi was simply lights out for five innings and then he ran into a lot of bad luck. Only one of the four hits was hit hard. But he did make things worse by walking Dozier and Sano. Now that Eovaldi is succeeding with his split-finger fastball, he is becoming a very good pitcher. Despite the great run support he has received, Eovaldi has earned his 13 victories.
- Betances stepped back into the closer’s role and did not miss a beat. If Betances had pitched better during spring training and early in the season, he would have likely been the closer. But you can’t argue with Miller’s 27 saves in 28 chances. Of the two I suspect teams fear Betances more. But they both are pretty devastating.
- Rodriguez ended an 0-for-18 slide on Tuesday with a grand slam home run that proved to be the game-winning hit. But on Wednesday it was back into a funk for the DH. He was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout. His season average has now dipped to .259.
- John Ryan Murphy has been hitting well (.282) when he starts to give Brian McCann a rest. But Wednesday was not one of those days. He was 0-for-3 and struck out all three times.
Right-hander Michael Pineda will make a second rehab start on Friday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday. Pineda, 26, has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 30 with a right forearm strain. He is 9-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 19 starts. Girardi said the he hopes this will be Pineda’s final rehab start and they would to activate him before Sept. 1.
The Yankees will play host to the Cleveland Indians for a four-game weekend series that begins on Thursday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (5-4, 3.57 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova defeated the Blue Jays on Friday, limiting them to three runs on five hits and one walk with three strikeouts in seven innings.
Right-hander Josh Tomlin (0-1, 2.84 ERA) will be making only his second start of the season for the Indians coming off shoulder surgery. Tomlin yielded two runs on five hits with five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings in a loss to the Twins on Saturday.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 7, INDIANS 1
You ever feel a cooling evening breeze and decide to take a leisurely stroll with loved ones through Central Park? That is pretty much what the New York Yankees felt on Monday as they thoroughly defeated the Cleveland Indians as if they were just taking a walk in the park.
The Yankees erupted to score a pair of runs in each of the first three innings and Hiroki Kuroda threw seven-plus innings of dominant baseball as New York downed Cleveland in their first meeting of the season at Yankee Stadium.
Red-hot Robinson Cano led the offensive barrage against Indians starter Josh Tomlin (3-5) with a two-run double in the first inning and a two-out solo home run in third inning. It was the sixth home run Cano has hit in his last eight games.
Another Yankee swinging a hot bat, Nick Swisher, followed Cano’s solo home run with one of his own to the opposite field in left. It was the fourth time this season the Yankees have hit back-to-back home runs in a game.
Manager Joe Girardi decided to give Curtis Granderson “half a day off” by using him as the designated hitter and starting Dewayne Wise in center-field for the first time this season. Wise responded with a two-run home run off Tomlin in the second inning and an RBI triple in the sixth off reliever Scott Barnes.
Tomlin entered play with a 2-1 record against the Yankees and he had not allowed a home run in his career to the Yankees. The Yankees rose to the occasion and hit three off Tomlin to extend their major-league-leading total to 115.
Tomlin gave up six runs on six hits and two walks and he struck three in only three innings of work.
Meanwhile, Kuroda (7-7) continued his recovery from what was a poor start to the season.
He held the Indians to thre hits and two walks in the first seven innings. But he was touched by a pair of singles by Lonnie Chisenhall and Shin-Soo Choo to begin the eighth.
Clay Rapada came into the game and with one out Jason Kipsis scored Chisenhall with a lined sacrifice fly to right to spoil Kuroda’s shutout.
But Kuroda ended up giving up just the one run on five hits and two walks and he struck out seven.
In his last six starts, the 37-year-old right-hander is 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA and he has not pitched less than six innings in any of those starts.
The Yankees, meanwhile, have now won three games in a row after losing three in a row to snap a 10-game winning streak.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season ledger to 44-28. They also moved three games up on the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Indians fell to 37-35.
- Over his last eight games, Cano is 10-for-28 (.357) with six home runs and nine RBIs. Cano has raised his season average to .302 and he now has 17 home runs and 39 RBIs. His double in the first also came with runners in scoring position. Cano is still last among all the regulars in hitting just .164 with RISP.
- Swisher has been on a hitting binge of his own lately. In his last 10 games since June 12, Swisher is 14-for-35 (.400) with three home runs and nine RBIs. During that span he has raised his season average from .250 to .268 and he still leads the Yankees in RBIs with 46.
- Kuroda has been a different pitcher since May 21 when he was 3-6 with a 4.56 ERA. Since that time he has given up just nine runs on 32 hits and 10 walks and struck out 35 batters in his last 42 innings. He has been the Yankees’ best starting pitcher over that stretch and perhaps he really is worth the one-year, $10 million contract the Yankees offered to him this winter.
There was nothing to complain about in this contest. Kuroda was sensational, the offense got rolling early and often and Derek Jeter, Cano and Swisher flashed some serious leather in the field behind Kuroda. This is what makes watching the Yankees a joy.
Besides resting Granderson’s legs, Girardi also chose to rest Alex Rodriguez for the third time this season and started Eric Chavez at third base. In addition, Chris Stewart drew his second consecutive start behind the plate because Russell Martin is still nursing stiffness in his lower back. Martin would have been available to catch in an emergency but Girardi opted to give his starting catcher another day off to rest his back. Martin could start on Tuesday. . . . Cano’s hot streak at the plate corresponds with him also finding out on Monday that he had overtaken Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers in the most recent voting for the starting second baseman for the American League All-Star team. Jeter and Granderson are also in line to start, according to the voting. There are only three days left to vote.
The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Indians on Tuesday.
Right-hander Phil Hughes (7-6, 4.94 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Hughes would much rather forget his last start when the Atlanta Braves pounded him for four home runs in 4 1/3 innings and he became the first Yankees starter to pitch less than six innings in June. He is 2-1 with a 3.52 ERA in his career against the Indians.
The Indians will start right-hander Justin Masterson (4-6, 3.98 ERA). Masterson tossed a complete-game victory in his last outing against the Cincinnati Reds. He struck out nine in that game. He is 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally by MY9.
YANKEES 6, METS 5
With the Yankees you can go from goat to hero in a New York minute.
Robinson Cano committed a crucial one-out error in the sixth that opened the floodgates to a three-run inning that allowed the Mets to tie the Yankees at 5-5. In the eighth, Cano atoned for the error with a solo home run that propelled the Yankees to their fifth victory in six Subway Series contests over their crosstown rivals.
They did it in front of a crowd of 42,364, the largest attendance in the history of Citi Field. That broke the record the two teams set the previous night of 42,222.
Cano’s blast, his 16th of the season, came on a 2-0 tailing fastball from reliever Miguel Batista (1-2) and Cano nearly deposited into the Mets’ giant apple within the batter’s eye in center for a 430-foot shot that seemed to symbolize that the Yankees are the undisputed kings of the Big Apple in 2012.
Boone Logan (2-0) pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings, striking out two batters, to earn the victory in relief. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his 15th save in 16 chances this season.
The Yankees had staked themselves to a 5-1 lead with ace left-hander CC Sabathia on the mound and the team looked confident about a victory heading into the bottom of the sixth.
But Cano’s error that allowed Justin Turner to reach opened up an inning in which nine Met batters came to the plate and Sabathia was unable to finish the frame.
Ronny Cedeno followed the error with a single and after a fielder’s choice an obviously tiring Sabathia walked pinch-hitter Vinny Rottino on four pitches. Andres Torres ended Sabathia’s night with a two-run single that just slipped under Mark Teixeira’s glove and into right field.
Cory Wade entered the game and immediately was tagged for an RBI single to left by Ruben Tejada, who was just activated off the 15-day disabled list just prior to the game, and the game was tied that quickly. Wade walked David Wright to reload the bases, but he struck pinch-hitter Kirk Niewenhuis to keep the game even.
Sabathia gave up five runs (one earned) on nine hits and two walks and he struck out three in 5 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
The Yankee offense, meanwhile, was able to get to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey for four runs in the third inning. Dickey had entered the game with two straight complete-game one-hit victories and he had a scoreless inning streak that stretched to 44 2/3 innings.
With one out, Curtis Granderson drew a walk, Alex Rodriguez scratched out an infield hit and Cano also walked to load the bases.
Teixeira ended Dickey’s scoreless string by lifting a towering sacrifice fly to right to score Granderson. Nick Swisher then smacked a hanging 2-1 knuckleball into the seats in right-center for the first home run Dickey has allowed this season.
The Yankees added another run in fifth, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically wild Dickey.
Granderson was hit by a pitch and he advanced to second on a wild pitch, Dickey’s first of the season. One out later, Cano singled to left and Granderson scored from third on a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Teixeira.
Dickey gave up a season-high five runs on five hits and three walks and he struck out three over six innings. He entered the game as the winningest pitcher in baseball at 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA.
The Mets scored single runs in the third and fifth off Sabathia.
In the third, they took advantage of leadoff walk to Torres and an error by Chris Stewart attempting to nab a stealing Torres at second. Torres then was able to score from third on a sacrifice fly by Tejada.
In the fifth, Dickey stroked a one-out single and, with one out, Tejada also singled. Wright followed with a ground-ball single to left and Dickey was able to score just ahead of the throw from Raul Ibanez.
With the victory, the Yankees completed interleague play with a record of 13-5. They entered the 2012 season with the best overall interleague play record since its inception in 1997.
The Yankees improved their season record to 43-28 and they remain 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Mets fell to 39-34.
- Cano has been on a home-run binge of late. In his last seven games dating back to the series finale against the Washington Nationals on June 17, Cano has hit five home runs. All but one of them have been solo shots. With his two hits on Sunday night, Cano is hitting .299 with 16 home runs and 36 RBIs.
- Swisher’s three-run blast in the fourth gave him 11 home runs and a team-leading 45 RBIs on the season. Swisher has been on a tear with the bat this month, hitting .333 with three home runs and 13 RBIs after hitting just .207 in May.
- Logan and the rest of the bullpen continues to shine in the absence of future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera. Logan pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and fanned Josh Thole to start the eighth. Logan has struck 37 batters in 27 2/3 innings and he has lowered his season ERA to 2.60.
- Stewart committed two errors but one actually could have been charged to Cano for failing to scoop a low throw in the third inning. Cano’s error in the sixth also hurt. So the usually slick-fielding Yankees committed three errors and two of them led to four unearned runs.
- Sabathia looked out of sync most the night and the Mets were able to extend innings to get his pitch count up to 112 when he left after 5 2/3 innings. He gave up a nine hits and he walked two. You add those runners and the errors and you can understand why Sabathia ran out of steam early. Cano and the bullpen picked up the slack, however.
- Derek Jeter took an 0-for-5 collar and he clearly was not picking up Dickey’s knuckleball well. He struck out and grounded out weakly twice in his three at-bats against Dickey. The hitless evening lowered his batting average to .305.
Starting catcher Russell Martin did not start on Sunday, a day after developing stiffness in his lower back. However, manager Joe Girardi said he would have been available to play, if necessary. Stewart drew his 13th consecutive start with Sabathia on the mound and was 0-for-4 and committed two throwing errors. Martin is expected to be able to start behind the plate on Monday.
Though the Yankees technically were on the “road” this weekend they won’t have to travel far to open a three-game home series with the Cleveland Indians on Monday.
Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (6-7, 3.57 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Kuroda allowed four runs over seven innings in his first loss in over a month to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. Kuroda has not faced the Indians in his major-league career.
The Indians will counter with right-hander Josh Tomlin (3-4, 5.12 ERA). Tomlin gave up just one in 6 2/3 innings in his last start but did not get a decision in the game. He has not won a game since June 8. He is 2-1 with a 4.26 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN2 and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 9, INDIANS 1
A game of contrasts was on display at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.
The grizzled veterans of the Yankees, led by starting pitcher Freddy Garcia, was calmly efficient in its pitching, hitting and defense. The Central Division-leading Indians, however, are a young team prone to mistakes in pitching and defense and struggling to put together an offense.
The net result was a third straight beating by New York over Cleveland. The combined scores of the three games is:Yankees 24, Indians 8.
Garcia (5-5) led the way by limiting the Indians to just one run on seven hits and two walks and he struck out six in 6 2/3 innings of work. The Indians were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position against Garcia and 0-for-12 overall.
Meanwhile, the Yankees gave Garcia more than enough support with a season-high 18 hits, led by Curtis Granderson, who was 4-for-4 with two RBIs, Brett Gardner, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and three runs scored and Alex Rodriguez, who was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.
Indians starter Mitch Talbot (7-4) was chased after five innings in which he gave up six runs on a career-high 12 hits and one walk and he fanned two batters. He also was let down by his defense during a five-run fifth inning, in which outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Auston Kearns misjudged fly balls.
With the victory the Yankees are back at a season-high nine games over .500 with a 36-27 record. They remain two games in back of first-place Boston in the American League East. The Indians have now lost 14 of their last 18 games and they are 34-29.
- Garcia bounced back from a poor showing in his last start against Boston to pitch a shutout for six innings. The Indians scored their only run on a Kearns leadoff double in the seventh. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout by Michael Brantley. Garcia evened his season record and lowered his season ERA to 3.60.
- Derek Jeter was 2-for-5, scored a run and drove in a pair. His two hits give him 2,993 for his career, just seven hits shy of the 3,000-hit plateau. Jeter has four games remaining on the homestand to reach the mark.
- Granderson continues to blister the ball. Despite the fact Jose Bautista wrested the major-league home run lead away from him on Sunday, Granderson was perfcet at the plate with a double, three singles, a sac fly, two runs scored and two RBIs. Granderson raised his season batting average to .279.
- After being thrown out twice on the bases on Saturday, Gardner used his speed to maximum effect by igniting three innings in which the Yankees scored. He doubled to lead off the third and later scored on Granderson’s sac fly. He doubled to lead off the fifth and scored on a Jeter RBI single. And in the eighth, he led off with a triple and scored on a Jeter RBI single.
- Russell Martin, returning to the starting lineup after a four-game absence due to back stiffness, probably wished he waited another day to come back. Martin was 0-for-4 including a strikeout and hitting into a pair of double plays. Martin bounced into a double play in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and one out. The Indians also stole five bases on him, though most of them were off the slow deliveries of Garcia.
- Mark Teixeira also was 0-for-4 with a walk in the game. That lowered Teixeira’s season average to .252.
- Rodriguez committed a throwing error on what would have been an inning-ending forceout off the bat of Carlos Santana in the seventh inning. Rodriguez’s throw drew Robinson Cano off second base and loaded the bases. Fortunately for Rodriguez, reliever Boone Logan retired Choo on a soft liner to Jeter.
The Yankees placed starting pitcher Bartolo Colon on the 15-day disabled list on Sunday with strained left hamstring. In addition, the Yankees placed reliever Amauri Sanit on the DL with a right elbow injury. The Yankees recalled right-hander Hector Noesi and outfielder Chris Dickerson from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Colon and Sanit. Colon said he hopes to be back when he is eligible to be removed from the DL on June 27. The 38-year-old right-hander injured his hamstring in the seventh inning covering first base on a grounder by Choo. Noesi is likely to replace Colon as a starter on Thursday in Arlington, TX, where the Yankees will face the Rangers.
The Yankees have already won the four-game series against the Indians and they will go for the sweep on Monday.
A.J. Burnett (6-4, 4.37 ERA) will start for the Yankees. The result of his last start against the Red Sox is classified. Burnett is 3-4 with a 4.37 ERA in his career against the Indians.
The Indians will counter with right-hander Carlos Carrasco (5-3, 4.52 ERA), who is coming off 8 1/3 innings of shutout baseball against the Twins on Tuesday. He gave up three hits, a walk and fanned six. He has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.