Tagged: Mike Moustakas

Pinpoint Pineda Posts Win As Yankees Sweep KC

GAME 47

YANKEES 4, ROYALS 2

After giving up 12 runs (nine of them earned) in 11 1/3 innings in his past two starts, Michael Pineda was just determined to re-establish himself as the as the ace of the Yankees staff. On Wednesday, Pineda rediscovered his slider and held the hot-hitting Royals to just a single run.

The Yankees used Pineda’s strong effort over 6 2/3 innings and Alex Rodriguez stroked a three-run home run in the fourth inning to lead New York to a sweep of Kansas City in front of a paid crowd of 32,734 at Yankee Stadium.

Pineda (6-2) held the Royals to six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts to snap a two-game personal losing streak. The Royals’ lone run off Pineda came in the first inning on a one-out solo home run by Mike Moustakas, his fifth homer of the season.

The Yankees were able to tie the contest in the second inning on a leadoff home run off right-hander Chris Young (4-1) by Brian McCann. It was McCann’s sixth home run of the season and now 25 of McCann’s 29 homers hit as a Yankee have come at home.

Young entered the contest having given up just one earned run in his past four starts. But the Yankees were able to break the 1-1 tie against Young in the fourth on a leadoff double by Brett Gardner, a walk to Chase Headley and Rodriguez’s 11th home run of the season and the 684th of his career.

The three RBIs also allowed Rodriguez to pass Lou Gehrig on the all-time RBI list at 1,995. Rodriguez is in third place on the list and he is just one RBI behind Barry Bonds, who is second.

Young was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings of work.

Once again the “Twin Towers” of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller closed out the game in the final two innings to nail down the sweep.

The Royals did score an unearned run off Betances in the eighth after Lorenzo Cain drew a walk and later stole second. With one out, Kendrys Morales topped a slow roller to the right of second base. Didi Gregorius fielded it but threw wildly past Mark Teixeira at first for an error that allowed Cain to score.

It was the third unearned run Betances has allowed the season but he still has not allowed an earned run this season. Morales’ infield single was the first hit Betances had allowed in the past 31 batters he had faced.

Miller pitched a perfect ninth to remain 14-for-14 in saves on the season.

The sweep of the Royals allowed the Yankees to claim the season series with the defending American League champions four games to two.

The victory also improved the team’s season record to 25-22 and  –  combined with Tampa Bay’s 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners  –  the Yankees have a 1-1/2-game lead over the Rays in the American League East. The Royals, who now have lost four straight games, are 28-18.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Pineda, 26, wobbled a bit in the middle innings but he was able to get out of a major jam in the fifth inning that was crucial to the Yankees winning the game. With Paulo Orlando, who had hit a one-out double, on third and Alcides Escobar on second after a single and a wild pitch, Pineda was able to strike out swinging both Moustakas and Cain with sliders that broke out of the strike zone. With his effort on Wednesday, Pineda lowered his season ERA to 3.36.
  • Rodriguez now has 11 home runs and 26 RBIs on the season, which is second on the club in both categories to Teixeira. Rodriguez was 2-for-4 in the game and also extended his hitting streak to six games. In that span the 40-year-old designated hitter is 10-for-22 (.455), which has raised his season average to .276. That as high as his batting average has been since April 20, when it was at .286.
  • Headley may have committed his 10th error of the season on Tuesday but he still can play some excellent defense at third base. He proved it in the first inning on Wednesday when he took base hits away from both Escobar and Eric Hosmer. Escobar hit a one-hop bullet to Headley’s left but Headley was able to glove it on a short hop and throw out Escobar. Hosmer later hit ball well to Headley’s right because he was shifted against the left-handed batter. However, Headley was able to dive to his right and glove the ball behind him. He then righted himself and barely nipped with the throw as Hosmer slid head first into the bag. If those two plays are not made than Moustakas’ home run would have made a multi-run inning likely. So defense DOES matter.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Gregorius committed his sixth error of the season and cost the team a run but it is hard to quibble with the Yankees after they were all but left for dead when they lost 10 of 11 games entering this series. They not only got off the mat, they also swept a team that had the best record in baseball at the time. The Yankees three starting pitchers in the series, Nathan Eovaldi, Adam Warren and Pineda, combined to yield just three runs on 18 hits and two walks in 20 innings against the hottest offense in baseball. Amazing!

BOMBER BANTER

Masahiro Tanaka gave up three runs on four hits and two walks with three strikeouts in three innings on Wednesday in his second rehab start with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the Pawtucket Red Sox. Tanaka threw 62 pitches and reported no issues with either tendinitis in his right wrist or tightness in his right forearm. It is not clear if the Yankees intend to activate Tanaka from the disabled list or whether he will be asked to make a third start.

ON DECK

The Yankees will begin their first West Coast road trip of the season on Thursday when they open a four-game weekend series with the Oakland Athletics at o.co Coliseum.

Northern California native CC Sabathia (2-6, 5.47 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia, 35, was charbroiled for six runs on seven hits and one walk in only 2 1/3 innings against the Texas Rangers on Friday.

Sabathia will be opposed by 24-year-old right-hander Kendall Graveman (2-2, 6.04 ERA), who blanked the Rays on three hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings on Friday.

Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.

 

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Classic Sabathia Deals Royal Flush To Kansas City

GAME 38

YANKEES 5, ROYALS 1

In the not-so-distant past the Yankees leaned upon CC Sabathia as an ace who could always end a long losing streak. So Saturday was like a casual stroll down memory lane as Sabathia helped his team end a four-game skid.

Sabathia yielded just one run in seven strong innings and Chase Headley blasted a two-out, three-run home run in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie as New York evened their three-game series with Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.

Sabathia (2-5) limited the hot-hitting Royals to just six hits with no walks and five strikeouts to win his second consecutive start after beginning the season 0-5.

“Hopefully I can just keep this going,” Sabathia told reporters. “I feel good, I’ve got no problems. Hopefully I can just keep going out there and give us a chance to win.”

The Yankees managed a run off left-hander Danny Duffy (2-3) in the third inning and it was scored without the benefit of a hit. Duffy walked Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira to load the bases with one out. Carlos Beltran then delivered a sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

But the Royals replied in the bottom of the inning. Omar Infante singled, Paulo Orlando reached on a bunt single and Alcides Escobar loaded the bases with a hard-hit single to center. Mike Moustakas then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to score Infante.

The Yankees then managed to get to a struggling Duffy with two out in the fifth. Teixeira and Beltran each singled and Headley followed by driving a 3-2 change-up from Duffy into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.

“We’ve had opportunities and we just haven’t driven anybody in,” Headley told reporters. “That’s going to happen throughout the course of the season. Tonight, it was nice to be able to come through with that swing.”

Duffy was charged with four runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts in five innings.

Sabathia, with help from right-hander Dellin Betances in the eighth inning and left-hander Andrew Miller in the ninth, held the Royals scoreless the rest of the way. The Royals did not have a base-runner reach base after Moustakas reached on a fielding error by Jose Pirela with one in the ninth.

Sabathia, Betances and Miller combined to mow down the final 14 batters they faced and only three balls reached the outfield  –  none of them after the sixth inning.

Rodriguez clubbed the 664th home run of his career and his 10th of the season with one out in the ninth inning off veteran right-hander Joe Blanton.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 22-16 and they extended their lead in the American League East over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays to two games. The Royals dropped to 23-14.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • In his first six starts, Sabathia was 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA. In his past two starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Sabathia, 34, has allowed just four earned runs on 12 hits and two walks with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings. It appears Sabathia has been able to mix in his change-up more to keep right-handed hitters off his fastball. He also has developed much better command of all his pitches and he is keeping batters off balance. He needed only 85 pitches to get through seven innings on Saturday.
  • It is no secret that Headley has been struggling at the plate this season. He came in batting only .229 with four homers and 14 RBIs. But if Headley, 31, can somehow get more consistent at the plate he could be a big help to the lower part of the batting order. Headley hit .262 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 58 games with the Yankees last season. He already has five homers and 17 RBIs in 38 games this season.
  • Beltran, 38, was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI and it extends what has been a very hot May at the plate for the veteran outfielder. After batting a miserable .162 with no home runs and seven RBIs in April, Beltran is hitting .327 with two homers and nine RBIs halfway through May.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

After losing four in a row, including a 12-1 drubbing by the Royals on Friday, it was good to see Sabathia throwing so well against what has been a hot-hitting club. Headley’s big home run came with two out and a two-strike count. That clutch hit gave Sabathia all he needed to beat the Royals. No complaints here.

BOMBER BANTER

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will travel with the Yankees to Washington, DC, on Monday and throw a third bullpen session. If all goes well, Tanaka, 26, could be sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment. Tanaka has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 29 with tendinitis in his right wrist and a strained right forearm.  . . .  The Yankees on Saturday recalled right-hander Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned right-hander Jose Ramirez to the same club. Ramirez, 24, was charged with four runs on three hits and two walks in an inning against the Royals on Friday. Mitchell, 24, was 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts with the RailRiders.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have an opportunity to win the rubber game of the three-game series with the Royals on Sunday.

Left-hander Chris Capuano, 36, will make his season debut with the Yankees and his first start. Capuano suffered an injured right quad in his second start in spring training on March 11. The Yankees re-signed the veteran after he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the team last season.

He will be opposed by right-hander Edinson Volquez (2-3, 3.19 ERA), who is coming off a rough outing against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. Volquez, 31, gave up four runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts in a no-decision.

Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Whitley Chases What Matters: First Victory In KC

GAME 60

YANKEES 4, ROYALS 2

In his major-league debut on May 15 against the New York Mets, Chase Whitley drew high praise from former Atlanta Braves right-hander John Smoltz, who was providing color commentary of the game for the MLB Network. After the way the rookie pitched against the Royals on Friday, now Yankee fans can see what Smoltz noticed.

Whitley pitched seven solid innings in his longest start of his career and he went on to earn his first major-league victory behind the hitting of Brian McCann as New York edged Kansas City in front of a paid crowd of 23,418 at Kauffman Stadium.

Whitley (1-0) yielded two runs on five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out three in his first outing to last more than five innings. Whitley threw 51 strikes out of 87 pitches for a 59 percent strike ratio, keeping the Royals off balance with his fastball, slider and change-up.

Meanwhile, the Yankees were able to break a 1-1 tie in the third inning, keyed by a one-out, bases-loaded, three-run double off the bat of McCann.

Jacoby Ellsbury opened the inning with a single up the middle off veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (2-6). Brett Gardner then looped an opposite-field single into left and  –  one out later  – Guthrie brushed the right shoulder of Mark Teixeira with a pitch to load the bases.

McCann then stroked an outside fastball into the left-field corner to clear the bases and hand Whitley and the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

Guthrie was charged with four runs on six hits and one walk while he fanned two in seven innings of work. He has now winless in his past 11 starts dating back to April 9.

Dellin Betances tossed a scoreless eighth and David Robertson threw a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save in 16 chances this season.

The Yankees took an 1-0 lead in the second inning when Teixeira led off by lining a single to right off Guthrie. Yangervis Solarte drew a one-out walk and Brian Roberts provided a two-out RBI single to center to score Teixeira.

However, the Royals were able to tie it up in the bottom of the second when Alex Gordon laced a one-out double into the right-field corner and Salvador Perez followed with an RBI single to left.

The Royals did close to within two runs in the fifth when Gordon led off the frame with a single and stole second. One out later, Lorenzo Cain bounced a ball into left-center that he was able to hustle into a double.

However, Whitley ended the threat by retiring Mike Moustakas on a groundout and Alcides Escobar on a flyout.

The 24-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 15 as the Yankees lost starters CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda to injury in quick succession. The converted reliever did not get a decision in his previous four starts despite the fact he is sporting an excellent 2.42 ERA.

With the victory the Yankees have won two in a row and they improved their season record to 31-29. They also were able to pass the Baltimore Orioles to claim second place in the American League East six games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The Royals, who have now lost 21 of the past 31 games to the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium, fell to 29-32.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Whitley may end up being more than just a fill-in starter until Sabathia and Pineda are expected to return in July. His first five starts  –  and particularly this one  –  prove that Whitley deserves to stay in the rotation as long he continues to pitch this well. David Phelps is 1-3 with a 4.19 ERA in six starts and Vidal Nuno is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts as replacements. Whitley has simply been more impressive as a starter than they have, period.
  • McCann has been a major disappointment at the plate this season after entering the season as a career .275 hitter with 20 or more homers in the past six seasons. But his big three-run double showed he is willing to hit the ball where it is pitched to beat the extreme shifts teams play on him. Since May 27, McCann is quietly resurrecting his hitting. He is 14-for-33 (.424) in that span to raise his season average to .231.
  • Roberts entered the game in a 1-for-14 (.071) funk that dates back to May 31. But his two-out RBI single gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead. The Yankees have been really disappointed with the production they have gotten from the free agents (Ellsbury, McCann, Roberts, Carlos Beltran and Kelly Johnson) they signed this past winter. They all need to really start picking it up soon.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

After the team went through a horrendous four-game losing streak while the Blue Jays were red hot, they finally seem to have some life back in them. So after getting a huge victory out a pitcher they had not planned to use at all this season things may be finally falling into place. It’s about time, too.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the Royals on Saturday.

Phelps (1-3, 4.11 ERA) will start for the Yankees. The right-hander is coming off his worst start of the season on Monday against the Seattle Mariners. He was tagged for six runs on six hits and three walks in six-plus innings.

The Royals will start left-hander Danny Duffy (3-5, 3.05 ERA). The converted reliever will be making his seventh start and he is 2-4 with a 3.27 ERA in those starts. He shut out the St. Louis Cardinals on one hit and one walk while striking out five in six innings on Monday.

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

 

Cano, Wells Deal Out Yankees’ Royal Flush Of K.C.

GAME 36

YANKEES 4, ROYALS 2

If winning games is fun then the New York Yankees’ charter plane to Cleveland must be a barrel of laughs.

Robinson Cano and Vernon Wells each homered and drove in two runs and Hiroki Kuroda pitched into the eighth inning as the New York swept the three-game series against Kansas City and extended their winning steak to five games in front of 29,515 fans at Kauffman Stadium.

Kuroda (5-2) collected his third victory in his past four outings, limiting the Royals to two runs on six hits and one walk while he struck out one batter in 7 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, Cano gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the day in the third inning.

With the Yankees trailing 1-0, Chris Stewart stroked a one-out single to left and, one batter later, Cano connected with the first offering from Royals right-hander Ervin Santana (3-2) on a two-run blast into the bleachers in right-field for his 10th home run of the season.

Cano was using a pink bat as part of Major League Baseball effort to bring awareness on Mother’s Day for breast cancer research and an eventual cure.

Right after Cano gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead, Wells laced a 1-0 fastball from Santana down the line into the left-field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season.

Wells added another run for the Yankees in the fifth. Brett Gardner slapped a one-out opposite-field double to left. One out later, Wells singled to left to plate Gardner.

Santana gave up four runs on eight hits and he fanned four in 6 1/3 innings.

The Royals scored both their runs off Kuroda on the strength of leadoff doubles.

Jarrod Dyson led off the first inning with a double down the right-field line and he advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of Alcides Escobar. He then scored on a sacrifice fly by Alex Gordon.

Elliot Johnson led off the eighth with a double off the wall in right-center. He advanced to third on a flyout to deep center by Dyson and he scored on an infield groundout off the bat of Escobar.

After the Royals drew to within two runs, Gordon doubled off Kuroda. Manager Joe Girardi replaced Kuroda with right-hander David Robertson, who retired Billy Butler on a routine flyout to end the Royals’ threat.

Mariano Rivera came in to pitch a scoreless ninth to save his 14th game in 14 tries this season and it was his 28th consecutive save against the Royals, which dates back to the 1998 season.

With the victory the Yankees are now 22-9 since April 7 and they remain in first place in the American League East one game in front of the Baltimore Orioles with a 22-13 season mark. The Royals, who have now lost six of their past seven games, are now 18-16.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano is way ahead of his home-run pace of 2012, a year in which he set a career high with 33 home runs. Cano leads the team in batting (.311), runs scored (22), doubles (10), home runs (10) and RBIs (23).
  • Wells hit only nine home runs in 77 games with the Los Angels Angels last season. Wells is second on the club in batting (.295), runs scored (19), home runs (9) and RBIs (20).
  • Kuroda pitched another gem to become the first Yankee starter to win five games. Kuroda also leads all Yankee starters in ERA (2.31) and Walks To Innings Pitched (WHIP) (1.05).

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Though the Yankees’ No. 9 through No. 4 hitters were a combined 9 for 19 (.474), the No. 5 through No. 8 hitters were a combined 0-for-16 against Santana and relievers Tim Collins and Greg Holland.
  • Third baseman Chris Nelson was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and since he has joined the Yankees on May 4 he is 5-for-29 (.172) with no home runs and two RBIs in eight games.
  • Jayson Nix was 4-for 6 with two walks in the first two games of the series but on Sunday he was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. When he did reach base on a two-base throwing error by Mike Moustakas in the fourth inning he was doubled up off second after Nelson lined out on a diving catch by Dyson in center-field.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees on Sunday elected to place shortstop Eduardo Nunez (left ribcage tightness) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 6 and he will be eligible to activated on May 20. To replace Nunez on the roster the Yankees bought the contract of infielder Alberto Gonzalez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Gonzalez, 30, previously played for the Yankees from 2006 through 2007 after being acquired as part of the Randy Johnson trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was acquired from the Chicago Cubs last week in a trade for a player to be named later. He is career .241 hitter and also has played with with the Nationals, Padres and Rangers.  . . .  Right-hander Ivan Nova experienced discomfort in his right side while throwing at the team’s complex in Tampa, FL, and he will not be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. Nova, who has been on the disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps, was being considered for a start in the team’s doubleheader on Monday. It is unclear how long Nova will remain on the DL.  . . .  Reliever Joba Chamberlain three 30 pitches in a bullpen session at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday and he is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league rehab game for Scranton on Tuesday. Chamberlain has been on the disabled list since April 28 with a right oblique strain.  . . .  Chamberlain and Rivera apologized to each other on Sunday after a intense shouting match erupted between the two on Saturday. Rivera was conducting an interview with reporters in the dugout during batting practice while Chamberlain apparently was shouting up to family members in the stands. Rivera asked Chamberlain to be quiet and Chamberlain took exception to it. Both players said it was an exchange in the heat of the moment and all has been forgiven.

ON DECK

The red-hot but limping Yankees will be in Cleveland on Monday for day-night doubleheader as part of a makeup of two rained out games against the Indians on May 10 and May 11.

The Yankees will open the doubleheader with right-hander David Phelps (1-1, 5.02 ERA). Phelps, 26, is coming off a six-inning no-decisoon against the Colorado Rockies in which he yielded two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out four. Phelps is making his third start of the season but he has never faced the Indians.

The Indians will counter with ace right-hander Justin Masterson (5-2. 3.67 ERA). Masterson is 2-2 with a 5.91 in his past five starts after starting the season 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA. Masterson is 3-3 with a 3,00 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 12:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Rookie left-hander Vidal Nuno (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his first major-league start in the second game. Nuno, 25, has pitched only once for the Yankees, tossing three shutout innings against the Houston Astros on April 29. Nuno was 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts at Scranton before he was recalled on April 28.

Nuno will be opposed by right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.78 ERA). Bauer is being called up from Triple-A Columbus to make this start. He is 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in four outings at Columbus.

Game-time will be determined and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Pettitte, Wells Star As Yanks Spin KC Masterpiece

GAME 35

YANKEES 3, ROYALS 2

A pitcher losing command of one of his best pitches is like a skilled surgeon trying to work without a scalpel. But that is what happened to Andy Pettitte in his two previous starts. He did not have a feel for his signature cutter.

But he certainly rediscovered it on Saturday as he pitched seven strong innings and struck out seven batters while Vernon Wells backed him up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead as New York edged Kansas City in front of 30,910 fans at Kauffman Stadium.

Pettitte (4-2) settled into a groove after allowing Billy Butler to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with a leadoff home run to center-field. After that Pettitte gave up a two-out single to Alcides Escobar and walked Lorenzo Cain in the fifth. But he ended that threat by retiring Alex Gordon on a groundout.

The 40-year-old left-hander gave up two runs on five hits and walk and retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced to pick up his first victory since April 19.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of a big mistake by James Shields (2-3) to take control of the game.

Shields hit Chris Stewart on the left triceps on a 1-2 pitch as Stewart led off the fifth. Two batters later, Wells ripped a 3-1 fastball into the left-field seats for his eighth home run of the season that gave the Yankees a lead they would not surrender the rest of the way.

Shields gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks and he fanned five in eight innings of work.

David Robertson pitched in the eighth and struck out the side for the Yankees.

Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and gave up a two-out double to Salvador Perez. But he retired Mike Moustakas on a flyout to Wells in left to earn his 14th save in as many chances this season.

The save for Rivera was also the 70th time in his career he has saved a game started by Pettitte, which is the most for any starter and closer tandem in major-league history.

The Yankees actually took advantage of an error on a throwing error by Moustakas in the third inning to take an early 1-0 lead.

Chris Nelson opened the inning by lacing a double down the left-field line. Two outs later, Robinson Cano slapped a bouncing ball to the left of Moustakas. The Royals’ third baseman dove, got up and threw high and wide of first base to allow Nelson to score from second.

The Royals manufactured a run of off Pettitte in bottom of the third to tie it.

Elliot Johnson reached on a swinging bunt down the third-base line and he later stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout off the bat of Cain.

The Yankees extended their current winning streak to four games and they are now 14-4 this season in games decided by two runs or less.

The victory also allowed the Yankees to claim full possession of first place in the American League East with a record of 22-13. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are a full game out in second place. The Royals, who have now lost five of their past six games, are 18-15.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • In his last two starts, Pettitte was hammered for 11 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits and five walks in 9 1/3 innings. On Saturday, he looked more like the pitcher who was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA before those two dreadful outings. Pettitte had command of the cutter and he mixed his curve and slider to keep the Royals’ batters off balance all evening. The Yankees’ top four starters, Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, and Phil Hughes, are a combined 14-9 this season.
  • Wells was 0-for-5 in Friday’s 11-run, 16-hit explosion against the Royals but he bounced back nicely in this game. Wells is currently second on the team with a .281 batting average and has eight home runs and 18 RBIs on the season. It is going to be difficult for manager Joe Girardi to bench him when Curtis Granderson is activated form the disabled list this month.
  • Robertson came out the bullpen firing seeds in the eighth inning. Robertson needed only 12 pitches to strike out Escobar and Cain looking and Gordon swinging. In his past four outings, Robertson has not give up a run or a hit and he has walked one while striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

How can you complain when the team got a great effort out of Pettitte and the bullpen? Wells hit a timely home run and the Yankees took sole possession of first place. Who said this team would be awful because of all of the injuries they suffered? Not me.

BOMBER BANTER

Shortstop Eduardo Nunez missed his sixth straight game because he was unable to shake nagging discomfort in his left ribcage and the Yankees may have to place him on the 15-day disabled list if he is unable to play by Monday’s doubleheader in Cleveland against the Indians. Nunez told trainer Steve Donohue on Saturday that he still is feeling pain when he is doing fielding drills.

ON DECK

The Yankees can use their big broom and sweep the Royals in the three-game series finale on Sunday.

Kuroda (4-2, 3.20 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Kuroda, 38, limited the Colorado Rockies to two runs on seven hits in seven innings but took the loss on Tuesday because the Yankees were blanked. The veteran right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in his career against Kansas City.

The Royals will start former Angels right-hander Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.36 ERA). Santana surrendered three runs on seven hits and one walk in six innings of a no-decision against the Orioles on Tuesday. He is 5-6 with a 5.90 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

 

 

Overbay’s 5 RBIs Make Royals Look Like Paupers

GAME 34

YANKEES 11, ROYALS 6

Mark Who?

It is getting to the point that Yankee fans may forget their injured first baseman Mark Teixeira because his replacement Lyle Overbay is doing so well in his absence.

Overbay was 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs on Friday to lead 16-hit attack as New York outslugged Kansas City in front of a paid crowd of 24,521 at Kauffman Stadium.

Though starter Phil Hughes (2-2) was staked to 4-0 and 5-3 leads, he was unable to hold onto it in the fifth inning when Alex Gordon followed back-to-back bloop one-out singles by Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain with a two-run double just over the outstretched glove of left-fielder Vernon Wells on the warning track to tie the game at 5-5.

However, the Yankees had already scored five runs off former Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Wade Davis (2-3) on a pair of two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Overbay in the second inning and an RBI double off the bat of Overbay in the fourth.

So the Yankees opened the sixth with a double off the right-field wall by Suzuki and a soft lined single to center by Jayson Nix that advanced Suzuki to third and chased Davis from the game.

Royals manager Ned Yost replaced Davis with left-hander Bruce Chen and Overbay greeted him with a double off the top of the wall in center-field that scored Suzuki that broke the 5-5 tie and gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night.

Chris Nelson followed with a two-run single to right, his first RBIs as a member of the Yankees.

The Yankees went on to bat around against Chen and add two more runs in the inning to extend the lead to 10-5 and dash any hopes the Royals might have had about another rally.

Hughes was the winner despite giving up a three-run home run to Jarrod Dyson in the second inning  –  which broke Hughes’ 22-inning homerless streak entering the contest  –  and a solo shot to Mike Moustakas in the sixth.

Hughes gave up six runs on seven hits, two walks and one hit batter while he struck three in 5 2/3 innings.

But the Yankees pounded Davis for seven runs on seven hits and two walks while he fanned three in five-plus innings of work.

The No. 5, 6 and 7 hitters  for the Yankees  –  Suzuki, Nix and Overbay  –  combined to go 9-for-13 (.692) with two home runs, four doubles, eight runs scored and seven RBIs.

With the Yankees’ bullpen short because Preston Claiborne, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera were unavailable to pitch, the team got a strong effort out of right-hander Shawn Kelley.

Kelley pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings and struck out six of the seven batters he faced. Boone Logan pitched a perfect ninth to close out the game.

The Yankees’ victory was their third in a row and gave Joe Girardi his 500th triumph as manager of the Yankees.

The Yankees also improved to 21-13, which keeps them percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in first place in the American League East. The Royals dropped to 18-14.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Considering that when he signed a huge contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and was later sarcastically nicknamed “Lyle Overpaid” when he did not deliver big numbers there and he was released this season in the last week of spring training by the Red Sox, Overbay should have the moniker “Lyle Underpaid” with the Yankees. All Overbay has done in 32 games (29 starts) is hit .264 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Oh, he has committed only one error at first base while flashing Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position. Geesh! What a pickup for general manager Brian Cashman.
  • Suzuki entered the contest hitting .372 at Kauffman Stadium, which is the highest average for any opposing hitter in history. Well, he raised that average by going 3-for-5 with his second home run of the season, a double, a single, a stolen base, three runs scored and two RBIs. In his past nine games, Suzuki is 12-for-33 (.364) which has raised his season average from .247 to .282.
  • Kelley was absolutely sensational when he came out the bullpen in the sixth inning. Of his six strikeouts, four were swinging and he struck out the first five batters he faced. After being hammered for 10 earned runs on 13 hits and four walks in 10 1/3 innings of work over nine appearances through May 4, Kelley has not been scored upon his last three outings covering 4 1/3 innings. In that span he has fanned nine batters, mostly on his devastating slider.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Hughes pitched aggressively against the Royals, throwing first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. However, the Royals were able to catch up with his fastball and hit him hard. After pitching brilliantly in his last four starts in which his ERA was 1.93 and he won only one of those starts, Hughes was hammered for six runs and yet he won because the Yankees backed him with a lot of run support. Go figure!
  • The Royals’ pitchers must have really wanted to bear down on Wells and designated hitter Travis Hafner. The two combined to go 0-for-9 on a night the team scored 11 runs and knocked out 16 hits. Fortunately for the Yankees, the rest of the lineup was 16-for-34 (.471), which more than made up for Wells and Hafner.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees held shortstop Eduardo Nunez out of a fourth straight game but he was available to the team in an emergency. Nunez, who has been slowed by tightness in his left ribcage, could be available to start on Saturday if he suffers no setbacks throwing and taking batting practice on Saturday.  . . .  Curtis Granderson homered on Friday in his second rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Granderson, who was 1-for-5 in the game, hit his home run in the eighth inning. Granderson started the game in left-field and batted second. The 32-year-old outfielder has been on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left forearm and he could be activated within the next 10 days.  . . .  Because Kauffman Stadium was the scene where Rivera suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on May 5 last season, some of the Yankees decided to have a little fun with the 43-year-old future Hall-of-Famer. Some teammates drew a chalk outline of Rivera on the warning track and placed a sign on the outfield wall lined with stop signs and yellow tape that read “No Mo Zone.” When Rivera strolled out to look at it he laughed and he intends to keep the sign.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their weekend series with the Royals on Saturday.

The Yankees will start veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-2, 4.06 ERA), who yielded four runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in five innings on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. But he loves Kansas City because he is 9-2 with a 3.72 ERA in the past 10 seasons against the Royals.

The Royals will counter with the second former Rays right-hander in a row in James Shields (2-2, 2.52 ERA). Shields threw eight shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox on Monday but he lost a victory when the bullpen allowed the Chisox to rally for a 2-1 victory in 11 innings. Shields in 7-14 with a 4.56 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

A-Rod’s 2 Homers Back Pettitte As Yankees Romp

GAME 44

YANKEES 8, ROYALS 3

When the Yankees were in the midst of losing six of seven games, Alex Rodriguez took much of the criticism for an extended power outage that only Conn Edison could rival. But with two mighty swings of the bat on Wednesday, Rodriguez put the power outage to rest and boosted Andy Pettitte and the Yankees to a victory.

Rodriguez swatted a pair of home runs and drove in three runs and Pettitte continued to show he lost nothing in retirement as New York blasted Kansas City for a series-clinching victory at Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez followed a solo home run by Curtis Granderson and a walk to Mark Teixeira with a lined shot into the left-field bleachers off rookie left-hander Will Smith (0-1), who was making his major-league debut.

The home run was Rodriguez’s sixth of the season and his first in 52 at-bats. He also had only driven in only one run since May 6.

Two innings later, Rodriguez hit a high-arcing blast over the wall in center-field to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead and provided Rodriguez with a total of 60 career multiple-homer games.

Pettitte (2-1) took it pretty much from there. He pitched seven-plus innings and gave up two runs on seven hits and one walk and he struck out eight batters.

The only two hits that were hit hard were solo home runs by Billy Butler in the fourth inning and Mitch Maier in the fifth. The rest of the hits consisted of three infield hits and two bloop outfield singles.

With the victory, Pettitte is 13-3 against the Royals and he has won nine straight decisions against them in his last 13 starts.

Despite the fact the Yankees again struggled to hit with runners in scoring position – they were 1-for-6 on the night – the team managed to get runners across in other ways in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Jayson Nix opened the inning reaching after being hit with a pitch from reliever Luis Mendoza. Derek Jeter followed a bunt that he legged into a single and Nix and Jeter both advanced when third baseman Mike Moustakas threw wildly past first base for an error.

Granderson drew a walk to load the bases and Teixeira also walked to score Nix.

After Rodriguez bounced to third to force Jeter at the plate, Robinson Cano, facing lefty reliever Jose Mijares, hit a smash up the middle that was grabbed by Joey Giovotella to force Rodriguez at second as Granderson scored.

After Mijares hit Nick Swisher with a pitch to reload the bases, reliever Luis Coleman came in walked Andruw Jones to force in the third run of the inning.

The Yankees managed to extend the lead to 8-2 by bringing nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs on just one infield hit, three walks, two hit batters and an error.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their record to 23-21. The Royals dropped to 17-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Rodriguez told reporters before the game that he discovered something he was doing wrong in his last at-bat on Tuesday night and that he thought he was about to “go off.” He backed it up with his two home runs and three RBIs on Wednesday. Rodriguez is hitting .281 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs.
  • For those who thought Pettitte should have remained at home in Texas, he is proving them wrong with every start. In his three starts, Pettitte has a 2.53 ERA, a WHIP of 1.08 and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. He also has worked into or beyond the seventh inning in all three of his starts. So is he too old at age 39 to be pitching?
  • Granderson’s home run was his first since May 15 when he hit one against the Baltimore Orioles. In his previous five games, Granderson was 1-for-12 (.083) with six strikeouts. He is hitting .256 with 14 home runs and 25 RBIs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • I hate to criticize on a such a good night but Russell Martin was 0-for-4 including a strikeout and hitting into a double play. He also left seven men on base. He is hitting .173 of the season with no sign of improvement in sight.
  • Swisher was hitless in his two at-bats and he is does not have a hit in his last 13 at-bats. In his last nine games, Swisher is 3-for-32 (.094) and his season average has dipped to .236.

BOMBER BANTER

With his three hits on Wednesday, Jeter now has 3,152 career hits, which ties him for 15th place on the all-time hits list with Paul Waner.  . . .  Outfielder Brett Gardner and reliever David Robertson will travel to Tampa, FL., on Thursday to begin rehab assignments. Gardner, however, will not likely swing a bat until Monday. He has been on the disabled list since April 19 with a strained right elbow. Robertson has a strained left oblique muscle and he is targeting a return from the disabled list on June 1.

ON DECK

After playing 16 games in as many days, the Yankees get a day off as they travel to Oakland to open a three-game series with the Athletics on Friday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (4-2, 5.69 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova has struggled of late, giving up five earned runs in his last two starts. But he also fanned 12 batters against the Reds on Saturday. He will be making his first career start against the A’s.

Oakland will start right-hander Tyson Ross (2-4, 5.73 ERA). Ross allowed just two runs over six innings but took the loss on Saturday against the Giants. He is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.