YANKEES 4, PIRATES 3
The Yankees’ hitters must have gotten an early wakeup call on Sunday because they came out blazing against the Pirates.
The Yankees scored three runs in the first inning and added a run in the second and then they let Hiroki Kuroda and their bullpen hold it as New York extended its winning streak to four games with a victory over Pittsburgh in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.
Kuroda (3-3) was touched for a run in the first inning on a one-out solo home run off the bat of Neil Walker but he settled in after the Yankees came back to give him a 4-1 cushion.
The Yankees jumped on hard-luck right-hander Charlie Morton (0-6) when the first five batters he faced reached base.
Brett Gardner drew a leadoff walk and Derek Jeter followed with a perfectly placed bunt single. Morton then loaded the bases when he hit Jacoby Ellsbury with a curveball.
Mark Teixeira stroked a two-run single and Brian McCann scored Ellsbury with a RBI single.
The Yankees added a run in the second inning on a leadoff single by Kelly Johnson, who later stole second and reached third on an error by catcher Tony Sanchez. Gardner then scored him with an RBI double.
Unfortunately for the Yankees, their bats promptly went to sleep after Gardner’s double. Morton went on to retire 16 of the 17 batters he faced. The only batter who reached, Zoilo Almonte singled with two out in the fourth inning, was picked off first base by Morton.
Morton was charged with four runs on six hits and on walk while he struck out six in seven innings.
Kuroda was touched for two runs in the fifth when Sanchez led off with a home run into the left-field bleachers. Clint Barmes then doubled and he scored one batter later on an RBI single by Walker.
Kuroda left after giving up three runs on six hits and two walks while he fanned seven batters in six innings.
The Yankee bullpen combination of Matt Daley, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren and David Robertson held the Pirates scoreless on one hit over the final three innings to seal the victory for the Yankees.
Robertson pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief to earn his eighth save in eight chances this season.
PIRATES 5, YANKEES 3
Reserve utility player Josh Harrison broke a 3-3 tie with two out in the seventh inning with a home run as Pittsburgh salvaged one game of the three-game series with New York in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader.
Gerrit Cole (4-3) yielded three runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out eight in six innings of work to earn the victory. Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth to earn his sixth save of the season.
Reliever Alfredo Aceves (0-2), who came in relief of left-hander Vidal Nuno in the seventh, was charged with his second loss in the past eight days.
Nuno yielded three runs (two earned) on six hits and one walk and he struck out five batters in six innings.
Despite splitting the doubleheader, the Yankees – with a season record of 23-20 – pulled into a half-game lead in the American League East over the Baltimore Orioles. The Pirates are now 18-25.
- Kuroda was hardly at his best. But he did pitch much better than he has previously this season. Kuroda had much better command of his slider, which made his fastball and split-finger fastball much more effective. After winning two of his first three starts, Kuroda was 0-2 with a 5.10 ERA in his past five starts.
- Teixeira extended his hitting streak to eight games in the opener and managed to end the day one RBI in back of Yangervis Solarte for the team lead in RBIs with 22.
- Gardner has been on a hitting tear that began on May 3 and he has not stopped. In his past 15 games he is 20-for-58 (.345) with two home runs and 10 RBIs. He was 3-for-7 in the doubleheader and has raised his season average to .297.
- Manager Joe Girardi basically gutted the Yankees’ offense in the second game by holding out Jeter, Ellsbury, McCann and Alfonso Soriano. I understand that he needed to rest McCann (as the catcher) and Ellsbury (due to his recent illness). My only quibble is he could have balanced it so that two of them played in one game and two the other. In the second game, Johnson batted cleanup. Huh?
- Aceves, 31, may be quickly paving his way to being designated for assignment of he does not get his act together real soon. In his past four appearances, he has yielded eight runs on nine hits and three walks in six innings. That is an ERA of 12.00 and a Walks-To-Innings-Pitched (WHIP) ratio of 2.00. Pitchers who get shelled in relief do not stay in a Girardi bullpen for long.
- Solarte and Brian Roberts cost Nuno and the Yankees a valuable run in the second inning when Solarte made an errant throw after fielding a Starling Marte grounder and Roberts then dropped a potential double-play relay from Solarte one out later which would have ended the inning. Instead, Chris Stewart, of all people, drove in a run with a two-out single.
The Yankees will get a well-deserved day off on Monday before flying to Chicago to open a two-game series with the Cubs on Tuesday at Wrigley Field.
Rookie right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (6-0, 2.17 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Tanaka is coming off his his first major-league complete-game shutout, which he threw against the New York Mets on Wednesday. He gave up only four hits, did not walk a batter and struck out eight. He also beat the Cubs by shutting them out for eight innings ay Yankee Stadium on April 16.
Veteran right-hander Jason Hammel (4-2, 3.06 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Cubs. Hammel surrendered five runs on five hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings in loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in his last start on Thursday. He also took the loss to the Yankees on April 16 at Yankee Stadium.
Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by MY9.
YANKEES 7, PIRATES 1
On a day when David Phelps was struggling with his command and his pitch count was exploding the Yankees found a time-honored way to dispatch the Pirates: Break out the home-run ball.
Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann connected for a pair of two-run home runs and Zoilo Almonte, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano each added solo shots as New York deep-sixed Pittsburgh in front of a national TV audience and a paid crowd of 47,353 at Yankee Stadium.
It was only the second time this season the Yankees have hit more than three home runs in a game and they tied their season high with five set against the Boston Red Sox on April 12.
Despite his struggles, Phelps (1-0) managed to pitch five shutout innings, yielding five hits, three walks and a hit batter while striking out five. Phelps did not have a single 1-2-3 inning but kept the Pirates off the scoreboard by wriggling out of jams.
He escaped a two-on, no out situation in the second by retiring Gaby Sanchez on a flyout and striking out Jordy Mercer and Tony Sanchez. He did the same thing in the fifth by striking out Neil Walker, getting Andrew McCutchen on a flyout and Pedro Alvarez on a groundout.
He also gave up three hits in the fourth, but he escaped without giving up a run thanks, in part, to a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play when Ike Davis struck out and McCann threw out Starling Marte attempting to steal second base. Gaby Sanchez then stroked a two-out double and Mercer followed with a single to right but Soriano nailed Sanchez with a perfect throw to McCann.
Four of the five home runs came off Pirates right-hander Edinson Volquez (1-4), who had given up just one homer in his first five starts but has surrendered eight in his past four starts. he was charged with five runs on six hits and struck out three in 6 1/3 innings.
Teixeira opened the barrage in the first inning by following a one-out single by Derek Jeter with his ninth home run in just 23 games after coming off the disabled list on April 20.
Almonte, who was a late addition to the lineup because Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from the lineup due to flu-like symptoms, hit Volquez’s first delivery in the third inning deep into the second deck in right-center for his first home run of the season and only the second of his major-league career.
Dellin Betances relieved Phelps and the sixth and he was greeted on his first pitch with a line-drive homer into the left-field bleachers by Marte to account for the Pirates’ only run of the day.
Gardner got the run back by stroking his third home run of the season to lead off the sixth inning, making the score 4-1.
Soriano added his sixth home of the season to lead off the seventh and McCann capped the scoring by cracking a two-run shot, also his sixth of the season, with two out in the eighth off right-hander Vin Mazzaro.
The Yankees have hit 25 home runs in just 20 games at Yankee Stadium compared to 13 home runs in 21 games on the road.
After going through a stretch of losing four games in a row earlier this week, the Yankees have now won three straight and Yankee pitchers have given up just one earned run (Marte’s homer) over the past 27 2/3 innings.
The Yankees improved their season record to 22-19 and they also climbed into a tie with the Baltimore Orioles for first place in the American League East, one game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Pirates dropped to 17-24.
- To put Phelps’ struggles in perspective, he threw 25 pitches in both the first and second innings and 26 in the fifth. His breaking pitches were diving out of the strike zone and the Pirates were not looking for anything but fastballs. But give Phelps credit for keeping the Pirates scoreless and he now owns a 1-0 record and a 2.93 ERA in his three starts in place of the injured Michael Pineda.
- McCann looks like he is beginning to be heating up with the bat. He was hitting .209 on May 6 but since then he has had at least one hit in six of his past seven games. In that span he is 8-for-28 (.286) with two homers and five RBIs to raise his season average to .225.
- Teixeira has hit in seven straight games and is 9-for-25 (.360) with four homers and nine RBIs in that stretch. With Carlos Beltran on the disabled list and McCann hitting well below his normal level, Teixeira has helped the Yankees by providing consistent production in the middle of the order.
The starter pitches five shutout innings, the team hits five home runs and the defense chips in by nailing base-runners at second and at the plate. Despite Betances blowing the shutout there is not much to criticize in this one.
The Yankees’ banged up outfield took another hit when Ellsbury had to be scratched before Saturday’s game. He had only missed one game this season. Ellsbury is day-to-day but the Yankees hope to have him available for Sunday’s doubleheader. . . . Meanwhile, Ichiro Suzuki, who has missed all of this week with a lower-back strain, was used as a defensive replacement in right-field in the ninth inning of Saturday’s game. He is expected to start at least one of two games on Sunday. . . . Although CC Sabathia will be eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on May 26, manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Saturday that he will need more time. Sabathia had right knee drained of fluid and a degenerative change in the knee was treated with a cortisone and stem-cell injection this week by Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, AL. Sabathia is expected to be back in New York on Sunday and he will be re-evaluated early next week.
Because of a rainout on Friday the Yankees will play a single-admission doubleheader against the Pirates on Sunday.
Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (2-3, 4.62 ERA) will pitch the first game for the Yankees. Kuroda, 39, gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings against the New York Mets on Monday before the bullpen imploded after he left. He did not get a decision.
The Pirates will counter with hard-luck right-hander Charlie Morton (0-5, 3.22 ERA). Morton yielded three unearned runs in the first inning and lost to St. Louis Cardinals despite yielding just one earned run on seven hits in six innings last Sunday.
Left-hander Vidal Nuno (1-1, 6.43 ERA) will pitch the second game for the Yankees. Nuno has been a disappointment so far as a No. 5 starter, having given up seven runs (five earned) on four hits and four walks in just 3 1/3 innings against the Mets on Tuesday. He is 1-1 with a 4.94 ERA in his five starts.
He will be opposed by hard-throwing right-hander Gerrit Cole (3-3, 3.76 ERA). Cole was tagged for three runs on seven hits and three walks while he struck out six in 5 2/3 innings of a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday.
Game-time for the first game will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the second game will start approximately 30 minutes after the first game is completed. Both games will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 10, PIRATES 3
TAMPA – All spring, Alex Rodriguez has carried the hardened look of a man on a mission to re-establish himself as one of the elite players in baseball. It seems to be working for him, too.
Rodriguez blooped a RBI single to center in the third inning to tie the game and then cracked a two-out, two-run double to left as part of a five-run fourth as New York went on to rout Pittsburgh 10-3 on Tuesday night in a Grapefruit League contest at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Ageless wonder closer Mariano Rivera (2-0) needed only eight pitches (seven of which were strikes) to retire the Pirates in order in the fourth to get credit for the victory.
Pirates left-hander Erik Bedard (0-1) gave up four runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out three in 3 2/3 innings of work to take the loss. But the Yankees jumped on reliever Jo-Jo Reyes with two out in the fourth to score five runs and put the game out of reach early.
Reyes entered the game with Russell Martin at second and Curtis Granderson on first with two out. But Reyes walked Justin Maxwell to load the bases. He then compounded his troubles by walking Robinson Cano to allow Martin to score the tie-breaking run.
Rodriguez followed with his two-run double and Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones followed with an RBI single and an RBI double, respectively, which chased Reyes from the game.
- It is always a positive sign when Rodriguez is healthy and hitting the ball with authority. The veteran third baseman is doing a great job this spring of hitting the ball where it is pitched rather than pulling the ball exclusively. The result has been a very good spring where Rodriguez is hitting .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs.
- Granderson hit leadoff in the game and was 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. The only regular having a better spring than Rodriguez is Granderson, who is hitting a sizzling .385 and seems primed to follow up on his career season of 2011.
- Maxwell hit .222 in his first spring training with the Yankees in 2011. This spring, he is a totally different player. Maxwell was 2-for-2 after coming in the game in the third inning to replace an injured Nick Swisher, including a clutch two-run double in the fifth inning. Maxwell is hitting a red-hot .429 with five RBIs and three stolen bases. At age 28, Maxwell will not make the Yankees’ 25-man roster at as outfielder but he could be a valuable call-up from Triple-A Empire State during the season.
- Rivera looked so surgical in the fourth inning it was scary. Here is a statistic that will absolutely floor you. Rivera has not been scored upon in spring training since the 2008 season. Wow!
- Yankees starter Michael Pineda got off to a very rocky start in the first inning. He gave up a one-out single to former Yankee outfielder Jose Tabata and then left a 3-2 breaking pitch up to Andrew McCutchen that was deposited over the left-field wall for an early 2-0 Pirates lead. Pineda ended up throwing 39 pitches in the first inning alone. However, there were two real good signs in his outing: No. 1 Pineda’s velocity rose to 93 miles per hour and No. 2 Pineda settled in and retired the last seven batters he faced, five of them on strikeouts. He struck out the side in the second inning.
- Cory Wade got roughed up a bit in the sixth inning. He gave up three straight singles to Tabata, McCutchen and Neil Walker to surrender the Pirates lone run after the first inning. He has given up three runs on eight hits and a walk in seven innings of work spanning six games. But Wade’s role the bullpen looks to be safe because of the fine work he did for the team in 2011.
- Coming off a day off on Monday, manager Joe Girardi basically played the starting lineup he would have used in the regular season against a left-handed starter with the exception of shortstop Derek Jeter, who was unable to start because of lingering issues with a sore left calf. Then the Yankees lost Swisher to another groin strain in the third inning as he ran to first on a potential double-play grounder then ended up being scored an error. With the veteran club the Yankees have they have to avoid these nagging injuries once the season starts.
The actual headline news of the day had nothing to do with the game. Andy Pettitte arrived at the Yankees spring training complex and threw an eye-popping and electric bullpen session that had even the most cautious Yankee insiders gushing. Pettitte summed it up nicely after the session: “It’s weird to say, but I feel like I never left” Martin caught the 50-pitch session and said, “That’s as good of a bullpen as I’ve caught all spring – from anyone.” Pettitte, 39, who signed a minor-league contract for $2.5 million last week, is now on a mission to build up his legs for the season and he is targeting May 1 for his return to the major leagues. Somewhere do you hear Bobby Valentine and Joe Maddon weeping? . . . Cano returned to the lineup quicker than anyone expected after he was plunked on the left hand by a pitch from Orioles left-hander Troy Patton. X-rays taken after the game were negative and Cano apparently did not experience any lingering soreness. . . . With the Yankees scheduled to play road games on Wednesday and Thursday, Jeter will not return to lineup until Friday, at the earliest. The Yankees are playing it very cautious with their 37-year-old shortstop.
Transmission of this report was delayed by technical difficulties.
PIRATES 7, YANKEES 4
Andrew McCutchen, who signed a six-year, $51.7 million extension earlier in the day, went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs to lead Pittsburgh to a Grapefruit League victory over New York on Tuesday at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, FL.
Right-hander Chris Resop (1-0) gave a run in his one inning of work and got credit for the victory. Phil Hughes (0-1) gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits in 1 1/3 innings of work and took the loss.
Minor-league second baseman David Adams stroked a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run double to bring the tying run to the plate for the Yankees in the ninth inning. However, Melky Mesa popped out against right-hander Daniel McCutcheon to end the game.
The Yankees are 2-2 in spring play and the Pirates drew their mark to 2-2.
- Alex Rodriguez continued his fine work this spring at the plate, drawing a first inning walk and slapping a leadoff single in the sixth inning. It is still early but A-Rod is hitting .800 through the first four games.
- Non-roster right-hander Brett Marshall was the only Yankee pitcher who did not surrender a run to the Pirates. In 1 2/3 innings Marshall did not give up a hit, walked one batter and struck out one. Marshall recovered from Tommy John surgery to post a 9-7 record and a 3.78 ERA at Class-A Tampa in the Florida State League in 2011.
- Francisco Cervelli just missed hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning off left-hander Doug Slaten. A strong 19-mph wind blowing in from left held the ball up and allowed left-fielder Robbie Grossman to haul it in at the base of the wall. The fly ball scored pinch-runner Mesa from third to bring the Yankees to within a run at 3-2.
- CC Sabathia struggled some with command of his pitches in his spring debut. Sabathia gave only one run but was tagged for three hits in his two innings of work. Sabathia threw 30 pitches and 17 were strikes and he threw first-pitch strikes to only two of the eight batters he faced. Sabathia started off the contest by giving up an infield single to former Yankee Jose Tabata. Clint Barmes followed with a bloop single to right and McCutchen plated Tabata with a sharp single to left.
- Hughes also did not look comfortable in his stint. He allowed Barmes to reach on a two-out single and Barmes scored on a double to the wall in right-center by McCutchen. Hughes threw 24 strikes in his 38 pitches but he was tagged for four hits and he could not complete his allotted two innings. Hughes is competing for a spot in the Yankees’ rotation.
- Although Rodriguez has been excellent this spring, he picked a bad time to make his first out of the season in the third inning. With a run in and Derek Jeter on second and one out, Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira both struck out looking against Resop.
- Texieira was actually charged an error on a bad double-play flip from Robinson Cano in the fourth inning that was knocked loose by Nick Evans hustling to first base and the error allowed Neil Walker to score the Pirates’ third run. Rodriguez then misplayed a McCutchen grounder in the fifth. The Yankees’ defense was not good.
On the play where Teixeira tried a swipe tag on Nick Evans in the fourth inning, Teixeira said he jammed his left thumb. Teixeira did remain the game and he singled in the sixth inning. Though the injury is not considered serious, Teixeira will be day-to-day. He hopes to play again on Thursday when the Yankees head to Dunedin, FL to play the Toronto Blue Jays. . . . Yankee reserve infielder Eduardo Nunez, who suffered a bruised hand when he was hit by a pitch on Monday in a game in Clearwater, FL., hopes to be in the starting lineup on Wednesday.
The Yankees are back home at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday to host the Tampa Bay Rays.
Hiroki Kuroda will make his Yankee debut and his first start of 2012. The Yankees will have their outfield of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher in the starting lineup for the game.
The Rays will start their ace right-hander James Shields, who will be making his first start of the spring. Burke Badenhop, Josh Lueke and Alex Colome are also scheduled to pitch for the Rays.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.
- Even Rodriguez’s outs are hit hard. After his two-run home run, Rodriguez lined out sharply to right-fielder Garrett Jones in the fourth and his scorched grounder in the sixth was flagged down deep in the hole by shortstop Ronny Cedeno and it took a spectacular throw from shallow left to nail him at first.
- Newcomer Chris Dickerson made an immediate impression with his new team. He started in left-field and was 3-for-3, including an RBI single in the fourth to score Nick Swisher and stretch the Yankee lead to 3-1. Unfortunately, Dickerson had to leave the game after his third hit in the seventh inning. He complained of cramping and spasms in his left hamstring. He will be re-evaluated on Sunday.
- Swisher is finding his stroke late in spring. He contributed two hits and scored a run. His spring average is now at .250 after struggling at the plate earlier while recovering from a shoulder injury.
- Ayala, a former major leaguer who is a non-roster invitee, is going to be a tough cut this spring. His ERA is 0.84.
- Though Banuelos got credit for the victory, he did not pitch a very sharp three innings. He gave up two hits, walked three and threw 28 balls in 57 pitches. To his credit, he was not hit hard. But he will have to learn to get his breaking pitches over more consistently.
- The Pirates teed off on Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlain for six hits in 2 2/3 innings but only managed one run off Soriano in the fifth on a Neil Walker sacrifice fly.
- Jorge Posada may want to brush up on the baseball rule book. In the fourth inning, Posada was on second and Dickerson was on first with one out when Eduardo Nunez hit an infield pop-up. By rule, Nunez was automatically called out and the runners choose advance on their own. Pirates catcher Jason Jaramillo lost the ball and it dropped behind him in fair territory. Posada chose to run to third and he was nailed in a double play when Jaramillo fired the ball to third baseman Pedro Alvarez for the easy tag.
- You hate to point out the lack of offense but it is there. Other than Rodriguez, Swisher and Dickerson, the Yankees got two hits from reserves. Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Posada and Eduardo Nunez were a combined 0-for-14.