Tagged: Omar Vizquel

Jeter’s 4 Hits Backs Tanaka As Yanks Club Chisox

GAME 49

YANKEES 7, WHITE SOX 1

For the paid sellout crowd of 39,142 at U.S. Cellular Field on Sunday they witnessed the last of one great era and the precipice of a new one wearing Yankee gray.

Those who came to pay tribute to Derek Jeter in his final game in Chicago witnessed him contribute four hits, including a rare triple, and two RBIs and those who came to see rookie sensation Masahiro Tanaka saw him pitch one-run ball for 6 2/3 innings against the White Sox.

So the bridge from the past to the future was featured prominently as Jeter and Tanaka helped lead New York to a four-game series split with Chicago.

Jeter thanked the fans for their cheers and their tributes by posting his first four-hit game since Aug. 20, 2012. He also topped it off by hitting his first triple since the 2011 season as part of a seven-run, 10-attack that was the undoing of right-hander Andre Rienzo (4-1) and the two relievers that followed him.

Meanwhile, Tanaka (6-1) bounced back from his first loss in the major leagues on Tuesday to the Chicago Cubs to hold the Chisox to one run on five hits and two walks while he struck out six before he tired in the seventh inning. The 25-year-old right-hander has now posted quality starts in all 10 of his starts this season.

The Yankees made it easier for him by jumping on Rienzo for four runs in the second inning.

Yangervis Solarte started the frame by shooting a bad-hop grounder past second baseman Gordon Beckham into right for a single. One out later, Ichiro Suzuki singled up the middle and Brian Roberts loaded the bases by drawing a walk.

Brett Gardner then stroked a two-run single and, after a throwing error on Rienzo that allowed Roberts and Gardner to move up a base, Jeter rapped out an RBI single. Jacoby Ellsbury capped the rally with a sacrifice fly that scored Gardner.

The Yankees added a run in the fourth when Jeter hit a two-out triple into center and he scored when Rienzo uncorked a wild pitch.

Rienzo was touched for five runs on seven hits and two walks while he struck out seven batters in five innings.

Jeter came through again for the Yankees in the sixth off right-hander Javy Guerra when Alfonso Soriano led off the inning with a double and Jeter ripped a two-out single up the middle into center to score Soriano.

The White Sox scored their only run of the day in the bottom of the sixth off Tanaka when Tyler Flowers laced a leadoff double over the head of Gardner in left. Later in the inning, Conor Gillaspie slapped a two-out bloop single that scored Flowers to spoil the shutout bid.

Roberts capped the scoring with one out in the eighth inning off White Sox right-hander Scott Carroll by blasting his second home run of the season into the bleachers in right-center.

So after the Yankees lost 10 straight game at U.S. Cellular Field in a streak that began in 2012, the Yankees were able to recover to win the final two games of the four-game set for a split.

With the victory the Yankees boosted their season ledger to 26-23. They remain in second place in the American League East, two games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The White Sox fell to 25-27.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • After going 0-for-5 on Saturday, Jeter bounced back in a big way in his final game at U.S. Cellular Field. His 4-for-5 game raised his season average from .259 to .275. There is no doubt that Jeter is not the player he once was. But it is nice to know that the Yankee captain is still capable of games like this every so often in his final season.
  • After getting knocked around for four runs (three earned) on eight hits against the Cubs, Tanaka told reporters he would make the necessary adjustments in his next start. The reporters then asked him how he would do it and he replied by saying, “Watch me.” It appears he made those adjustments because there were only two really hard hit balls off him on Sunday. He did appear to tire in the seventh inning, when he issued his only two walks to Adam Dunn and Alejandro De Aza.  But he lowered his ERA to 2.29. He is amazing.
  • Along with Jeter, the only other Yankee starter to have a multiple-hit game was Soriano, who posted a pair of doubles. Soriano needed a good showing because from May 18 through May 22, Soriano was 0-for-13 with seven strikeouts. Since getting a pinch-hit single against the White Sox on Friday, Soriano is 4-for-9 (.444). He was dropped in the batting order on Sunday to the seventh spot behind the rookie Solarte.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Mark Teixeira (batting fourth) and Brian McCann (batting fifth) combined to go 0-for-8 in the game with four strikeouts and they stranded three runners apiece. The fact that the Yankees scored seven runs in the game without a significant contribution from two of their three top run producers is saying a lot. Both Teixeira and McCann need to step up their games in the absence of outfielder Carlos Beltran.

BOMBER BANTER

The White Sox paid tribute to Jeter in a 30-minute pre-game ceremony and awarded him a plague bearing soil from shortstop at U.S. Cellular Field collected three days ago to honor all the shortstops who played there and all of those happen to be in the Hall in Fame. Jeter’s name was on the large plaque along with the names of Luke Appling, Pee Wee Reese, Luis Aparacio, Cal Ripken Jr., Lou Boudreau, Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, Robin Yount, Omar Vizquel and Phil Rizzuto. The White Sox also chipped in with a check for $5,000 for Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.  . . .  Right-hander Michael Pineda reported no issues on Sunday after throwing 28 pitches in live batting practice on Saturday. Pineda, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 4 with a strained muscle in his upper right shoulder, is next scheduled to pitch in s simulated game on Tuesday. He hopes to be able to return to the Yankees in early June.

ON DECK

The Yankees will travel to Busch Stadium for a Memorial Day matchup to begin a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rookie right-hander Chase Whitley (0-0, 1.00 ERA) will make his third start for the Yankees. Whitley held the Cubs to one run on six hits and a walk while he fanned three in 4 1/3 innings of a game the Yankees rallied to win 4-2 in 13 innings on Wednesday.

The Cardinals will send to the mound right-hander Michael Wacha (3-3, 2.54 ERA). Wacha was cruising having shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks on two hits and three walks in six innings. But he settled for a no-decision when he was forced to leave the game after taking a batted ball off his right elbow. The injury was not serious and he was cleared to start on Monday.

Game-time will be 4:15 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

 

Advertisements

Ellsbury Homer Rallies Yanks Past Chisox In 10

GAME 48

YANKEES 4, WHITE SOX 3 (10 INNINGS)

The Yankees seemed to have developed a pattern of looking absolutely helpless at the plate until the opponent’s starter leaves the game. Then they tie up the game on the team’s closer and later win it in extra innings. For the second time in four days in Chicago that is exactly what they did.

Jacoby Ellsbury stroked a one-out single and later scored as part of a three-run rally in the ninth to tie the game and then blasted a two-out solo home run in the top of the 10th as New York got off the deck to defeat Chicago on Saturday in front of a paid crowd of 33,413 at U.S. Cellular Field.

For eight innings the Yankees could do little with left-hander John Danks, who held them to a two-out double by Mark Teixeira in the fourth and a pair of two-out singles by John Ryan Murphy and Brendan Ryan in the eighth. Danks did not walk a batter and struck out four.

The White Sox offense, meanwhile, scored all three of their runs in the first inning off left-hander Vidal Nuno on singles by Adam Eaton and Gordon Beckham, an RBI double by Dayan Viciedo, a sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn and an RBI groundout off the bat of Alexei Ramirez.

Nuno, however, settled down and held the Chisox to no runs on six hits and one walk while fanning five over the next 6 2/3 innings.

Dellin Betances (3-0) pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts to earn the victory in relief. David Robertson, who was victimized by a single by Viciedo and two-run home run by Dunn in the bottom of the ninth on Friday to blow his first save of the season, gave up a single but struck out the side in the bottom of the inning for his 10th save in 11 chances.

After White Sox closer Ronald Belisario gave up the one-out single to Ellsbury in the ninth, he struck out Teixeira. But Alfonso Soriano laced an opposite-field double to left that scored Ellsbury.

With the Yankees down their last strike, Yangervis Solarte followed with opposite-field RBI single to left, Ichiro Suzuki walked and pinch-hitter Brian McCann scored Kelly Johnson, who was pinch-running for Solarte, with a looping single into left-center.

White Sox right-hander Zach Putnam (2-1) came on in the ninth and retired Brett Gardner on a strikeout and Derek Jeter on a groundout. However, Ellsbury laid into a 1-0 splitter and drove the ball just over the wall in right-field for only his second home run of the season in what proved to be the eventual game-winning hit.

Four days ago, the Yankees were shut out on four hits and two walks in seven innings by Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzjia at Wrigley Field only to rally for two runs in the top of the ninth off Cubs closer Hector Rondon. They later scored two runs in the 13th inning on a wild pitch and an RBI single by Murphy and ended up winning the game.

The victory on Saturday halted an embarrassing nine-game losing streak for the Yankees at U.S. Cellular Field that dated back to the 2012 season.

Perhaps the game-changing play occurred in the bottom of the second inning after Nuno had given up three runs in the first inning. Marcus Semien led off the frame with a single and Adrian Nieto followed with a lined single into right.

Suzuki fielded the ball and threw towards third as Semien rounded second. But Jeter cut the throw off and ran towards Nieto, who had rounded first base too far. Jeter shuffled a toss back to Ryan. Nieto changed course, ran around Ryan and was called safe by second-base umpire Tom Woodring ash e touched the base.

However, the base umpires conferred with crew chief Jeff Nelson and reversed the call, saying that Nieto had run out of the baseline to avoid the tag of Ryan.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura came storming out of the dugout to protest the call but he ended up being ejected from the game by Woodring.

With Semien at third and one out, Nuno then fanned Leury Garcia and he escaped any further damage by getting Eaton on a flyout.

The Yankees ran their season record to 25-23. They are second place in the American League East, two games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The White Sox fell to 25-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • After breaking a dreadful 1-for-27 slide with two late hits against the Cubs in the 13-inning game on Wednesday, Ellsbury promptly went through an 0-for-11 skid before singling in the ninth and homering in the 10th on Saturday. It is hard to say that Ellsbury’s slump is over. But after his average hit a peak of .346 on May 3 he is now hitting .263. He needs to get it going again because the  Yankees feed off his ability to get on base and to steal bases.
  • McCann is another guy who has underachieved with the bat this season. After hitting a three-run home run in the first inning in Friday’s game, McCann came back with a very important pinch-hit, two-out RBI single to tie the game in the ninth. Though McCann is hitting just .227, he is third on the team in RBIs behind Teixeira and Solarte, who are tied with 25 apiece.
  • Betances recorded two more strikeouts in his one inning of relief to give him 49 Ks in just 28 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old right-hander is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA and batters are hitting a lowly .153 off him this season. It is safe to say that Betances is becoming what the Yankees had hoped Joba Chamberlain would become eventually. Eventually never did come for Joba.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Danks, 29, is a decent veteran pitcher but he has not recorded double-digit victories or posted an ERA below 4.33 since 2010. He also entered this game with a 3-4 record and a 5.64 ERA. So why were the Yankees able to get only one hit in seven innings and three in eight innings? You can understand why they would struggle against Samardzjia and Chris Sale but not Danks. There is no excuse.
  • Gardner and Jeter, who were batting in the first two spots of the batting order, respectively, ended the day a combined 0-for-10 with a strikeout (Gardner), a weak popup and three weak grounders. It is hard to get an offense going when those two are struggling to get on base.
  • I was all ready to give up on Nuno after he yielded three runs and five hits to the first eight batters. But he retired 17 of the next 20 batters he faced and he held the White Sox to three runs in order to give the Yankees a chance to tie it in the ninth. Nuno is 1-1 with a 4.38 ERA in his seven starts this season. Given the current state of the Yankees’ rotation, the Yankees still need him.

BOMBER BANTER

Brian Roberts did not play in Saturday’s game due to a bruised knee he sustained fouling a ball of his right knee in the fourth inning of Friday’s game. Roberts stayed in the game but was replaced at second base in the ninth inning by Ryan. Ryan played in his place on Saturday and he was 1-for-4 with a run scored. Manager Joe Girardi told reporters that the injury was not serious and Roberts was available to pinch-hit on Saturday.  . . .  Jeter on Saturday passed Luis Aparacio for second place on the all-time games played list at shortstop by playing in his 2,584th game. Jeter also became the all-time leader in games played at the position in the American League. Omar Vizquel is the all-time major-league leader at shortstop with 2,709 games. The Yankees have only 115 games left so Jeter, who has announced this will be his last season, will not have a chance to pass Vizquel.

ON DECK

The Yankees will try to earn a split of the four-game weekend series with Chisox on Sunday.

Masahiro Tanaka (6-1, 2.39 ERA) will try to bounce back after his first major-league loss on Tuesday. He yielded four runs (three earned) on eight hits and a walk in six innings to the Cubs, who won 6-1.

The White Sox will start right-hander Andre Rienzo (4-0, 4.00 ERA). Rienzo held the Kansas City Royals to two runs on five hits and two walks with eight strikeouts in six innings in a victory on Monday.

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

 

Yankees Know It’s Unwise To Bet Against Jeter

It is hard enough to win games with a full roster in the American League East. It is difficult when your team is riddled with crippling injuries. It becomes darn near impossible when the team loses its heart and soul.

That is pretty much what the New York Yankees lost last season without its future Hall of Fame shortstop and captain Derek Jeter.

The team has spiraled downward ever since Jeter broke his right ankle in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers in 2012.

The Yankees were swept in that series and they stumbled to a tie for third place in the division with the Baltimore Orioles and missed the playoffs for only the second time since 1994, the season before Jeter made his major-league debut.

Jeter, 39, tried to get back on the field for the 2013 season. But each step forward led to two steps back.

During spring training, the Yankees brought Jeter along slowly, not allowing him to play in the field until the third week of exhibition games. However, it was obvious in watching Jeter run out the batter’s box that he was just not right.

He favored the left ankle and had none of the usual spring in his step.

When X-rays indicated an additional break in the ankle, Jeter was placed on the 60-day disabled list and the usual critics and naysayers came out of the woodwork claiming Jeter was too old to play shortstop and that he would never be the same.

Jeter took that as a challenge and tried to come back on July 11. However, that comeback was short-circuited when he suffered a mild strain in his left quad running out a grounder in his first game back. He went on the 15-day disabled list with quite a bit of frustration after being so sure he was ready.

Activated on July 28, Jeter showed the Yankees just a hint of what they were missing when he went 2-for-4 with a home run against the Tampa Bay Rays.

That comeback was ended just three games later when an examination on Aug. 3 indicated Jeter sustained a Grade 1 strain of his right calf. He was placed on the disabled list for a third time.  This was pretty much par for the course when it came to many of the Yankees returning from injuries in 2014 only to wind up back on the disabled list.

Just ask Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez. Jeter had a lot of company on the team’s sickbay.

Jeter returned to the lineup on Sept. 1 and that comeback lasted just a total of seven games. Jeter re-injured his surgically repaired left ankle and, after a few days to assess the injury, Jeter offiicially was shelved for the season on Sept. 11.

The 13-time All-Star ended up playing in just 17 games batting .190 with a home run and seven RBIs. One big wasted season filled with frustration for a player who has always prided himself on playing every day since he became the team’s starting shortstop in 1996.

He also had to abandon any hope of potentially being able to surpass baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, who amassed 4,256 hits. Jeter was ahead of Rose’s pace at the same age entering the 2013 season. If Jeter had any intention of playing long enough to break that mark it is went up in smoke last season.

Yankee fans received a bit of a jolt when the Yankees signed shortstop Brendan Ryan to a two-year, $5 million contract on Dec. 2. It raised some eyebrows because some Yankee watchers thought it signaled that the team might be making the move to replace Jeter with the 31-year-old veteran.

But the Yankees quickly squelched any talk about that because Jeter. who was scheduled to play under a player-option contract in 2014 worth $9.5 million, was handed a one-year, $12 million deal by the Yankees. You do not replace a shortstop by offering him more money than his contract specified.

Jeter revealed to reporters on Nov. 14 that his ankle has healed and that he was “100 percent sure” that he would return to his role as the every day shortstop for the Yankees in 2014. Jeter said he was only working on strengthening his body for the coming season and was not worried about his ankle at all.

Of course, he did admit that although he wants to play every day, he is sure that he will get some at-bats as a designated hitter, which is fine with him.

The naysayers still do not believe that Jeter can come back at his age and play at the same level he did before the injury. That is fine if they think that, Jeter says.

Jeter will just have to prove them wrong as he did in 2012 when he led the majors with 216 hits after he hit a career low .270 in 2010 and spent the first half of the 2011 season hitting around .250. Many baseball experts thought Jeter was done then. But after adjusting his swing rehabbing a calf injury during the All-Star break, Jeter raised his average to .297 by season’s end.

The lesson: You may not want to give up on a guy who has five championship rings and career total of 3,316 hits.

The only real question about Jeter will be his ability to field such a demanding position at an advanced age. Players such as Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel have done it, but for some reason the ankle and leg injuries Jeter sustained last season give some people pause.

However, whatever range Jeter once had, he lost a long time before the ankle injury. Though Jeter has been awarded five Gold Gloves, including one in 2012, number-crunching gurus have been criticizing him since he won his third award in 2008.

Jeter’s defensive strength has never been totally about range. It is his sure-handed playmaking on the balls he does reach. In 2012, he handled 506 chances and committed only 10 errors. He also formed what has to be the franchise’s best double-play combination in history with second baseman Robinson Cano.

Yankee fans know the difference when Jeter is not in the lineup too. Eduardo Nunez has struggled most of his career playing the position and fans even dubbed him “Eduardo Scissorhands.”

With Jeter’s injury troubles, you would think that Nunez, 26, would have been able to take advantage of the opportunity and make his own mark at the position in 2014.

Unfortunately for Nunez, he could stay healthy and he regressed with his bat. Nunez batted .260 with three homers and 28 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 90 games. In 75 starts at shortstop, he committed 12 errors, which pretty much played himself out of a job when the Yankees signed Ryan on Sept. 10.

Ryan started all 17 of the Yankees’ remaining games in 2014 and batted .220 with a home run and one RBI.  He committed only one error in those games and he is generally accorded to be one of the better fielding shortstops in baseball though he has never been awarded a Gold Glove.

According to FanGraphs Ryan recorded 22 defensive runs saved in 2010, 18 in 2011 and 20 in 2012.

The big knock on Ryan is that he is a career .237 hitter with 19 home runs and 187 RBIs in seven major-league seasons. He is no threat to take Jeter’s job at shortstop but he gives the club some excellent insurance at the position.

However, Nunez’s days with the Yankees appear to be numbered. The team seems to have given on him completely. So Nunez enters 2014 in a position where he should not be looking to buy a home in the tri-state area around New York City.

The Yankees already trimmed the roster of versatile infielder Jayson Nix on Dec. 2 when he was not tendered a contract offer for the 2014 season along with rookie infielder David Adams and right-handed pitcher Matt Daley.

Nix, 31, spent two seasons with the Yankees as backup infielder. Like many of the Yankees, Nix suffered a broken left hand in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 21 in which he was struck by a pitch by knuckleball right-hander R.A. Dickey and missed the remainder of the season.

Nix batted .236 with three home runs and 24 RBIs in 87 games before succumbing to the injury.

The Yankees signed free-agent infielder Kelly Johnson to a one-year, $3 million contract, which means the 32-year-old veteran could figure in the mix to play second base.

Johnson has also played first and third base and the outfield. He also, unlike Ryan, Nunez and Nix, bats left-handed.

The Yankees are not exactly rich at the shortstop position in the minors at this point.

Addison Maruszak, 26, batted .254 with four home runs and 32 RBIs in 94 games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He is not considered as a prospect for the big leagues.

Former first-round pick Cito Culver, 21, is not making much progress in the minors. Though Culver can flash some leather with the glove the offensive part of the game has eluded him up to this point.

Culver hit a combined a combined .248 with nine home runs and 34 RBIs in 120 games in two stops at the Class-A level in 2013.

The Yankees, it is safe to say do not have another Jeter waiting in the wings to take his place.

So it is a good thing that Jeter is saying he is healed and will be ready to go when camp opens in February. He is the one player the Yankees can’t afford to be without in 2014. They need his bat, they need his glove and they need his leadership by example.

Expecting him to be the fresh-faced kid that 20-plus homers and drove in 90 runs in his heyday would be expecting way too much, But the Yankees will take the numbers he put up in 2012 when he hit .316 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs.

Betting against Jeter has never been a safe bet before and may not be a wise one now.

 

Andy Just Dandy As Yankees Stay Atop A.L. East

GAME 147

YANKEES 4, BLUE JAYS 2

Since June 27, Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been dreaming about the return of all five of his starters, including 40-year-old left-hander Andy Pettitte. On Wednesday afternoon he got his wish and what he got had to exceed even his expectations.

Pettitte threw five scoreless frames, giving up four hits and two walks in a workmanlike 75-pitch outing, as New York put up three runs in the first inning and made them hold up to defeat Toronto in the opener of a day-night doubleheader at Yankee Stadium.

Pettitte (4-3) was making a comeback from a broken left fibula he suffered on a hard-hit comebacker by Casey Kotchman of the Cleveland Indians on June 27. Held to a pitch count of about 70 pitches, Pettitte stranded six Blue Jays by inducing ground ball outs to escape any damage. He also struck out three batters.

His most impressive inning was his last in which he retired Rajai Davis, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie in order using only seven pitches.

The Yankees’ offense got busy early off Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez (9-13).

Ichiro Suzuki opened the frame with a solid single to right. Nick Swisher followed with a lined single up the middle and Robinson Cano scored Suzuki with line-drive double that Rasmus misjudged in center-field and allowed to bounce off the wall.

Alex Rodriguez scored Swisher and advanced Cano to third with an RBI grounder and Curtis Granderson drove in Cano with a sacrifice fly to center.

The 3-0 margin held up until the eighth inning when David Robertson again got smacked around by the Blue Jays.

Lawrie greeted him with a double off the wall in left-center and he advanced to third on a seeing-eye single by pinch-hitter J.P. Arencibia that got past Jayson Nix at shortstop and rolled into left-field.

Pinch-hitter Kelly Johson then slapped a single into left to score Lawrie.

Robertson fanned Moises Sierra looking but veteran Omar Vizquel doubled into the corner in right to score Arencibia and advance Johnson to third.

Robertson fanned Adeiny Hechavarria looking and Girardi chose to bring in closer Rafael Soriano for what would be his sixth four-out save of the season.

Soriano walked rookie Anthony Gose to load the bases but Davis was retired on a sharp sinking line drive to left that Suzuki made a sliding grab on and barely held onto as the ball rolled up his right arm.

The Yankees added a crucial insurance run with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning off Blue Jays reliever Darren Oliver.

Suzuki started it by slapping a bloop ground-rule double just inside the line in shallow left-field that was just out of the reach of a diving Gose.

Swisher followed with a hot smash that snuck under the glove of Lawrie at third base and rolled into left to plate Suzuki.

Soriano retired the Blue Jays in order in the ninth, striking out two batters, to record his 41st save in 44 opportunities this season. What was left probably one-third of the paid crowd of 39,859 from last night’s rainout stood and cheered the clutch victory.

The Yankees, for the moment, pulled back ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East by a half game. Their season record is 83-63. The Blue Jays fell to 66-80.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The Yankees got rolling in May when Pettitte joined CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova and that quartet was 30-5 over a stretch of a month and half before Pettitte was injured. Since then the Yankees have also lost Nova and Sabathia in certain stretches and their 10-game lead on June 18 shrunk to zero. But Pettitte showed he could still compete and he has two more starts to build up his stamina for the playoffs. I think the Yankees are breathing a lot easier than they were a few weeks ago.
  • Suzuki was 3-for-4 with a double and two runs scored to raise his season batting average to .272. His catch on Davis’ sinking liner in the eighth inning preserved the victory for Pettitte and Yankees. With Derek Jeter out of the lineup, Suzuki fulfilled his role as a the consummate table-setter at the top of the lineup and he threw in a game-saving catch to boot. The trade the Yankees made to obtain from the Mariners is starting to pay major dividends.
  • Swisher was 2-for-4 with a huge RBI single in the eighth that made the ninth inning more comfortable for Soriano and the Yankees. Swisher entered the contest in an 0-for-10 slide but he got a big hit when it counted.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The way Robertson is pitching lately has to concern the Yankees some. He was tagged for two runs on four hits two-thirds of inning and he is now 0-3 with a 7.88 ERA in his last 10 appearances. Although his overall ERA is still a respectable 2.98, Robertson has been far more hittable lately and the Yankees need him to shut down teams in the eighth to go anywhere in the postseason.
  • Swisher has played marvelous defense at first base for the most part but he actually made two errors on one play in the third inning. With Davis on first and one out, Lawrie hit a ball well off the bag at first. Swisher should have held the ball but attempted an awkward toss to Pettitte covering first and it rolled to the dugout screen to allow Davis to reach third. Pettitte bailed out Swisher by retiring Adam Lind on an inning-ending double-play ball.
  • The top three Yankee hitters in the lineup – Suzuki, Swisher and Cano – collected all seven of the Yankees’ hits in the game. The rest of the batting order was a combined 0-for-17. That is a big reason why Alvarez stayed in the game for seven innings despite giving up three runs in the first frame.

NOTE: The BOMBER BANTER and ON DECK features will appear in the post from the second game of the doubleheader.

 

Nova Baffles Jays As Yanks Notch Fourth Straight

GAME 113

YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 2

When Ivan Nova struck out 10 Red Sox batters on July 8, he headed into the All-Star break with a 10-3 record and a 3.92 ERA. The New York Yankees had not seen that Nova since – until Saturday.

After going 0-3 with a 8.36 ERA in his last five starts, Nova was looking to turn a page on an ugly chapter of his sophomore major-league season and he did just that.

Nova struck out 10 batters and held the Blue Jays to just two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings as New York got a big three-run home run from newly acquired corner infielder Casey McGehee and defeated Toronto in front of a sellout crowd of 45,582 at Rogers Centre.

The Yankees have now won four straight games.

Nova (11-6) rediscovered the form on his swing-and-miss slider and used it along with his 12-to-6 curveball to keep the Blue Jays swinging mostly at air throughout the day. In his previous starts, his slider spun up to the plate and the 25-year-old paid the price – especially in his last two starts, giving up 16 runs on 21 hits in 10 1/3 innings.

But that Nova was a distant memory and the reliable old Nova re-emerged on this day.

Meanwhile, the Yankees did most of their damage against Blue Jays starter Aaron Laffey (3-3) in the fourth inning and it all happened with two out.

Mark Teixeira led off the frame with a single up the middle and, one out later, Andruw Jones drew a walk. But they remained there with two out until Jayson Nix slapped a lined single to left to score Teixeira and advance Jones to third.

McGehee, who was making only his fourth start for the Yankees since being acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31, hit his first home run with the Yankees into the second deck in the left-field bleachers to expand the lead to 4-0.

Nova retired the the first nine batters he faced, striking out four. However, he gave up a leadoff single to Rajai Davis in the fourth inning, balked him to second and David then scored on a line-dive single to right by Edwin Encarnacion.

The Yankees tacked on a run in the sixth off Laffey when McGehee slapped a one-out double down the left-field line and he scored on a two-out ground-rule double from Derek Jeter, who with that double reached the 150-hit mark for the 17th straight season and he and Henry Aaron are the only two major-league players to have accomplished the feat.

The Blue Jays rallied in the eighth for another run off Nova and it again was Davis and Encarnacion right in the middle of it.

Davis opened the inning with a double into center and he stole third. One out later, Encarnacion plated Davis with an infield single and Nova was removed from the game by manager Joe Girardi.

David Robertson ended the inning by inducing a double-play grounder off the bat of Omar Vizquel on Robertson’s first and only delivery of the game.

Rafael Soriano pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his 28th save in 30 opportunities this season.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 67-46, the best mark in the American League. They lead the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by six games in the American League East. The Blue Jays have now lost five straight and they are last in the division and 14 games out.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova’s rediscovery of his slider was the big key in order for him to get back on track. Girardi was very clear in saying that Nova needed to return to form and he did. In his last two seasons, Nova is 27-10 with a 4.17 ERA. His importance to the Yankees going forward is immense. The Yankees simply need him to pitch this way the rest of the season.
  • McGehee’s home run was his first with the Yankees and his ninth of the season. If he hits another homer, the Yankees would have 10 players on the roster who have double-digit home runs. McGehee gives the Yankees an additional power bat from the right side in the absence of Alex Rodriguez. With his 2-for-4 game, a double, a home run, three RBIs and two runs scored he is showing indications he will be a key contributor against left-handed pitching.
  • Jeter’s double put him in elite territory by recording 150 or more hits in 17 straight seasons. Aaron is the only player to have done it. Pete Rose had a run of 16 consecutive seasons going in 1981 but the strike-shortened season left him short with 140 hits. He then recorded a 172-hit season in 1982. So it is safe to say that Rose would have easily put together 18 consecutive 150-hit seasons if not for the strike.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Curtis Granderson was 0-for-3 and had a pair of chances to get a key hit with two runners on base in the fourth and fifth innings and he did not get the ball out of the infield in either at-bat. He popped out to third in the fourth and rolled out to first in the fifth. But the good news was that Granderson did not strike out in the game.
  • Robinson Cano was 0-for-4 with a walk and he did not exhibit much patience in his at-bats other than the walk. He hit two weak grounders and was called out on strikes in three of his at-bats. Cano entered the contest 15-for-37 (.405) in his last nine games with a home run and eight RBIs. He and Jeter are each hitting .315 on the season.
  • Nick Swisher had a rough day in his old No. 2 spot in the batting order. He was 0-for-4 with a walk and he struck out twice. He also failed to get a ball out of the infield. Despite the bad day, Swisher does appear to more comfortable in the No. 2 spot and Girardi looks like he intends to keep him there.

BOMBER BANTER

What started out as a ripple of a rumor turned into a big wave when Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reported Saturday that CC Sabathia was suffering with left elbow stiffness. The Yankees then confirmed it and placed the ace left-hander on the 15-day disabled list. Sabathia first felt some discomfort after an Aug. 3 start against the Seattle Mariners. But the discomfort subsided and Sabathia started on Wednesday against the Detroit Tigers. The stiffness returned and it did not subside. Originally the Yankees were planning to skip Sabathia for just his next start on Monday against the Texas Rangers. However, they later decided to place him on the disabled list and he will be eligible to return on Aug. 23. In the interim, the Yankees are planning to use David Phelps, who is 2-3 with a 2.42 ERA and has made three starts this season, in Sabathia’s place on Monday. The Yankees also agreed to a contract with veteran right-hander Derek Lowe and he will pitch out of the bullpen.  . . .  In keeping with his plan to rest his veterans, Girardi did not start Ichiro Suzuki following his five-RBI night on Friday and he used Jeter as the team’s DH. Suzuki entered the game in the ninth inning as defensive replacement for Jones in left-field.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance for a road sweep of the three-game series against the Blue Jays on Saturday.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (11-9, 4.10 ERA) will get the starting nod for the Yankees. Hughes allowed four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Tigers on Tuesday. He is 3-4 with 4.38 ERA in his career against the Blue Jays.

The Blue Jays will use their third consecutive left-hander in J.A. Happ (0-1, 6.35 ERA). Happ allowed four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings in his first start for the Blue Jays against the Rays on Tuesday. Happ has no record and 3.00 ERA in his one start against the Yankees when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010.

Game-time will be 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Ichiro Drives In 5 As Yankees Clip Blue Jays’ Wings

GAME 112

YANKEES 10, BLUE JAYS 3

When the New York Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners they were just expecting some great outfield defense and some singles and some steals at the bottom of the batting order. It is now beginning to look like they have a top-flight RBI man instead.

Suzuki drove in five runs to lead a late-inning seven-run assault on Toronto pitching as New York put away a badly depleted Blue Jay team on Friday at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Suzuki gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead in the second inning by driving in a run beating out a potential double-play grounder. He added a two-run single in the eighth inning and a bases-loaded two-run double in the ninth inning. Suzuki, who had only 28 RBis when he was obtained on July 23, has driven in 11 runs in his last 11 games and nine and his last four games with the Yankees.

Meanwhile, veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-5) pitched six solid innings to pick up his second straight victory. Garcia gave up two runs on four hits and struck four against a Blue Jays team missing Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia and Adam Lind.

The Yankees built an early lead on Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero in second inning after Robinson Cano led off the frame with a single and Romero walked Andruw Jones.

Jayson Nix attempted to bunt the next pitch and it rolled just out in front of home plate. But Blue Jays catcher Jeff Mathis threw the ball past third baseman Omar Vizquel and into left-field to allow Cano to score and Jones to advance to third. Suzuki followed with a grounder that forced Nix at second but Suzuki beat the relay to first and Jones scored.

The Yankees added a run in the following inning on a leadoff single by Nick Swisher and a one-out RBI single by Cano.

Romero ( 8-9) then shut down the Yankees over the next four innings on just one hit. He left having given up four hits and three walks and struck out two over seven innings.

Kelly Johnson proved to be Garcia’s big nemesis. He struck with one-out solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to halve the Yankees’ lead at 2-1. Two innings later, he followed a bunt single by Yunel Escobar and a lined single by David Cooper with a double down the right-field line that scored Escobar to make it 3-2.

But Garcia ended the threat by striking out Vizquel and inducing Mathis to tap back to the mound.

The game stayed 3-2 until Steve Delabar’s first offering in the eighth inning in relief of Romero was tagged by Mark Teixeira for his 22nd home run of the season.

With two out, Nix and Russell Martin each dunked in a pair of bloop hits and Suzuki followed with an RBI single up the middle to break the game open at 6-2.

The Yankees added four runs in the ninth off rookie reliever David Carpenter and Brad Lincoln. Suzuki culminated the scoring with base-loaded liner that Rajai Davis lost in the lights and it was scored a double.

With the victory the Yankees have now won three games in a row and are 66-46 on the season. They remain 5 1/2 games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The reeling Blue Jays have lost four in a row and are in last place in the division with a record of 53-59.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Suzuki has had at least one hit in 16 of the 17 games he has played with the Yankees. The five-RBI night tied a career high and it was the third time in Suzuki’s career he achieved the feat. But it was the first time since the 2004 season. He also started his first game in center-field since the 2008 season and he has now started in all three outfield position since coming to the Yankees. He was acquired to provide speed, defense and a consistent bat at the bottom of the order and he has done all three very well.
  • Teixeira’s home run was the second straight game in which he has delivered a home run in the eighth inning on the road. Teixeira and Eric Chaez combined to hit back-to-back solo home runs to turn a 3-2 Yankee deficit on Thursday into a 4-3 victory over the Tigers. It was the first time two Yankees had hit consecutive home runs in the eighth inning or later to win a game on the road since Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle did it during the 1955 season. Teixeira extended his team-leading RBI total to 76.
  • Garcia is never going to be confused with Felix Hernandez or Justin Verlander, but he put in another solid effort to win his second straight start. In his eight starts since replacing Andy Pettitte in the rotation, Garcia is 4-3 with a 3.83 ERA. The 35-year-old right-hander has been valuable as a placeholder for Pettitte.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I can’t think of much to complain about. Garcia pitched well and the offense has scored 31 runs and notched double-digits in hits over the team’s last four games. Perhaps they can put that stretch of nine losses over 12 games behind them now.

BOMBER BANTER

It is possible that left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano could be added to the Yankees’ expanded roster in September. Feliciano has not pitched since the 2010 season with the New York Mets because he underwent surgery for  torn rotator cuff. On Friday, Feliciano made his second rehab appearance for the Yankees’ rookie Gulf Coast League. Feliciano was signed to a two-year $8 million deal prior to the 2011 season but he has not pitched a single game for the Yankees. He is 22-19 with a 3.31 ERA over 459 appearances over his eight-season career.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their weekend road series with Blue Jays on Saturday.

Ivan Nova (10-6, 4.81 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Nova has a lot to prove after giving up seven runs on 11 hits on Monday against the Tigers. He is 0-3 with a 8.36 ERA in his last five starts. Nova is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA against the Blue Jays in his career.

The Blue Jays will counter with left-hander Aaron Laffey (3-2, 4.39 ERA), who pitched briefly for the Yankees last season. Laffey gave up four runs on six hits in his last start, a victory over the Oakland Athletics. He is 0-1 with an 11.74 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.