Tagged: Randy Choate

Ellsbury Shines As Yankees Clip Cardinals’ Wings



Since May 3, Jacoby Ellsbury has been struggling at the plate. So much so that his season average dipped from .346 to .259 entering Wednesday’s contest. By the time the game was over Ellsbury seemed back on track.

Ellsbury was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored to lead a seven-run, 12-hit attack to help Hiroki Kuroda and New York take a three-game series over St. Louis in front of a paid crowd of 45,267 at Busch Stadium.

The Yankees scored four runs in the third and three in the fourth against right-hander Shelby Miller and Ellsbury had a hand in both rallies.

With one out in the third, Brett Gardner drew a walk and Brian Roberts followed with a single up the middle. Ellsbury then scored Gardner with the game’s first run with a single to right-center as Roberts hustled into third.

Ellsbury stole second without a throw from catcher Yadier Molina and Brian McCann walked on four pitches to load the bases because Miller was pitching around him to face rookie catcher John Ryan Murphy.

But Murphy spoiled the strategy by delivering a single to center to score both Roberts and Ellsbury and Ichiro Suzuki capped the scoring by beating out a potential double-play grounder to score McCann.

With two out in the fourth and Kelly Johnson on first base after a single, Roberts doubled into left-center and Ellsbury scored both of them with a lined single to center. Ellsbury then stole second, again without a throw from Molina, and McCann followed with a single to right to score Ellsbury, giving the Yankees a 7-0 lead.

Miller (6-4) was charged with seven earned runs on nine hits and two walks with one strikeout in five innings.

Kuroda (4-3), who has spent most of major-league career as a pitcher who has received very little run support, suddenly has an abundance of runs provided by his teammates.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals took advantage of Kuroda’s desire to limit walks and keep his pitch count down by teeing off on Kuroda’s fastball.

The Cardinals managed to score single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth and they chased Kuroda from the game in the sixth when Matt Carpenter laced an RBI double off the wall to score pinch-hitter Jhonny Peralta from first with two out.

Kuroda yielded three runs on nine hits with no walks and three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

The Yankees bullpen quartet of Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances, Adam Warren and David Robertson were knocked around a bit, giving up four hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings. In fact, after Warren was chased by a two-out double by Carpenter, Kolten Wong greeted Robertson with an RBI single, his fourth hit in five at-bats on the night.

But Robertson ended the eighth by striking out Matt Holliday looking.

Then in the ninth, Robertson was touched by a leadoff single by Allen Craig and he walked Molina to bring up the potential tying run.

But Robertson ended the night with a flourish by striking out in succession John Jay, pinch-hitter Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 28-24. They are in second place in the American League East, three games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The Cardinals fell to 29-24.


  • Ellsbury’s night also included an impressive sliding catch of a sinking line drive off the bat of Craig in the second inning. Ellsbury is an extremely talented player who was responsible for carrying the team through the first month of the season. He now has at least one hit in four of his past five games and is 7-for-20 (.350) with a homer and seven RBIs in that span.
  • Murphy was 1-for-5 in the game but that single drove in two big runs with the bases loaded in the third inning. It raised a few eyebrows when manager Joe Girardi had him batting fifth in the lineup. But the 22-year-old rookie is batting .357 with a home run and eight RBIs in limited playing time behind McCann.
  • Give Roberts credit for doing well in the second spot in the order replacing a resting Derek Jeter. Roberts was 2-for-4 with a double and a walk and two runs scored. Roberts also extended his hitting streak to five games and he is 7-for-19 (.368) in that span. He has raised his season average to .248.


  • It was hard to judge whether the Cardinals were knocking Kuroda around or if he was losing his competitive edge because he had such a big lead. Kuroda is 4-3 and he has not lost a start since May 1. But his ERA is hovering now at 4.57 and his highest ERA since he came to the United States was in his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 when it was 3.73. The Yankees need him to pitch better.
  • The Yankees had a chance to extend their lead in the eighth when they loaded the bases on right-hander Sean Maness. But left-hander Randy Choate struck out Gardner and Roberts smacked a 3-0 pitch to Carpenter at third and ended up in an inning-ending double play. The Yankees have to stop coming up empty in bases loaded and no out situations.
  • Robertson looked a little shaky in yielding two hits and a walk but he made up for it with recording all four of his outs on strikeouts. The Yankees know that comparing Robertson to Mariano Rivera is not fair but it is inevitable. The fact that Robertson has one blown save in 12 tries and a 2.20 ERA in 16 appearances is pretty darn good.


It is amazing that the Yankees got seven runs out of their offense with Mark Teixeira nursing a sore right wrist, Jeter sitting out to rest and slumping Alfonso Soriano and Yangervis Solarte held out of the lineup. McCann even started his first professional game at first base. But it all worked. Solarte was benched after hitting just .152 since his nine-game hitting streak was stopped on May 15. So Johnson moved to third, which opened first base for McCann.  . . .  Teixeira will have his right wrist examined on Thursday by Dr. Keith Raskin, who performed Teixeira’s surgery to repair the torn sheath in the wrist in the offseason. Teixeira will also have precautionary ultrasound. However, the Yankees are saying the stiffness and soreness are normal after this type of surgery and Teixeira is expected to be back in the lineup soon.


The Yankees will have Thursday off and they return home to begin a three-game weekend series against the Minnesota Twins on Friday.

Left-hander Vidal Nuno (1-1, 5.49 ERA) will start for the Yankees coming off what was his best start of season on Saturday. Nuno gave up three runs in the first inning to the Chicago White Sox but did not give up another run in the following six innings. Nuno walked one and struck out five.

Veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco (2-5, 6.12) will get the nod for the Twins. Nolasco has lost his past two starts and was shelled by the San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Nolasco was tagged for seven runs on nine hits and a walk in  4 2/3 innings.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.


Roberts, Yankees Score 3 In 12th To Shuffle Cards



The New York Yankees seem to have a penchant lately for ending up playing in extra-inning games and they are starting to figure out the way to win them, too.

Brian Roberts laced a bases-loaded RBI single with one-out in the 12th inning to break a 3-3 tie and the Yankees went on to add two more runs as New York won its third extra-inning game within the past six days by downing St. Louis in front of a paid Memorial Day crowd of 47,311 at Busch Stadium.

Heading into the 12th inning, the Yankees had managed just one hit since the fifth. But they managed to load the bases on left-hander Randy Choate.

Jacoby Ellsbury started it by drawing a walk and stealing second base. Choate then hit Brian McCann with a pitch and Yangervis Solarte advanced them a base with a sacrifice bunt.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny then chose to have Choate walk Ichiro Suzuki intentionally to load the bases and Roberts made Matheny pay for the strategy by slapping an 0-1 pitch into left-field to score Ellsbury.

Pinch-hitter Alfonso Soriano, facing right-hander Jason Motte, then lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score McCann and Brendan Ryan followed with an RBI single to left to score Suzuki.

Despite being victimized by an RBI double off the bat of John Jay to score Jhonny Peralta with an unearned run in the bottom of the 12th, David Robertson closed out the game to earn his 11th save of the season.

Alfredo Aceves (1-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the Yankees to earn his first victory since he returned to the team this season.

Choate (0-2), who originally came up in the Yankees’ organization, was charged with the loss.

The Yankees actually held a 3-1 lead after scoring two runs off Cardinals starter Michael Wacha in the fifth after Suzuki drew a leadoff walk and Roberts followed with a single.

Kelly Johnson, who was starting in place of an injured Mark Teixeira at first base, then rolled a single up the middle to score Suzuki. One out later, Bret Gardner scored Roberts with a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees scored the first run of the game in the first off Wacha when Gardner walked, Derek Jeter singled and Ellsbury scored Gardner with an RBI single.

Wacha was charged with three runs on four hits and two walks and two strikeouts in seven innings.

The Cardinals tied the game in the bottom of the first off right-hander Chase Whitley when Matt Carpenter opened with a triple off the wall in right and Kolten Wong followed with an RBI double to right.

Whitley settled in and pitched extremely well until the sixth when Matt Holliday hit a double off the top of the wall in left. Matt Adams advanced Holliday to third with a single and Whitley loaded the bases by hitting Yadier Molina with a pitch.

Reliever Preston Claiborne came on and gave up a RBI groundout to Allen Craig that scored Holliday and a sacrifice fly to Peralta that scored Adams to tie the game at 3-3.

Whitley yielded three runs on eight hits, he struck out two and did not walk a batter in five-plus innings.

The game remained 3-3 until the Yankees were able to score three in the 12th, although Molina came within inches of winning the game off Aceves in the bottom of the 11th when he sent Gardner to the wall in left. But Gardner leaped and grabbed the ball off the top of the wall to rob Molina of a potential home run.

The game was delayed in starting by a one hour and one minute rain delay.

With the victory, the Yankees’ third in a row, the team’s record improved to 27-23. They remain in second place in the American League East just 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The Cardinals are now 28-23.


  • When manager Joe Girardi said in spring training that Roberts would be the team’s every day second baseman this season a lot of eyebrows were raised because of Roberts’ long history of injuries. But give the 36-year-old veteran credit for playing well for the Yankees so far. Roberts was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored to extend his modest hit streak to three games. Roberts is 4-for-10 (.400) with a home run, two RBIs and four runs scored in that span. His season average is up to .241.
  • Once again the bullpen turned in another stellar performance after Whitley left in the sixth. Claiborne, Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances, Aceves and Robertson held the Cardinals to an unearned run on two hits, no walks and four strikeouts in seven innings of work. Betances retired all six batters he faced and fanned two. The bullpen has been the strongest part of the team all season.
  • Despite giving up the lead in the sixth inning, Whitley, 24, turned in another very good outing. In his three starts (all of them won by the Yankees), Whitley has yielded four runs on 16 hits and three walks with nine strikeouts in 14 innings. That is an ERA of 2.57 and a WHIP (Walks-and-Hits-to-Innings-Pitched) ratio of 1.22. With CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda on the disabled list, Whitley is providing quality starts and giving the Yankees a chance to win those games.


With Whitley’s good work, the bullpen’s great effort and the offense waiting for the perfect chance to win the game, you can’t really criticize anything. Oh, the offense could have been better but the Cardinals do have an excellent pitching staff. The Yankees are going to have to earn victories against them. They did in this game.


Teixeira was scratched from the lineup on Monday with stiffness in his surgically repaired wrist. He began feeling the stiffness after the Yankees’ extra-inning victory in Chicago on Saturday and he told Girardi about it on Monday morning. No tests have been scheduled and Girardi said Teixeira is day-to-day. Johnson started at first base in place of Teixiera, who is hitting . 248 with nine homers and 25 RBIs, and was 1-for-4 with an RBI.  . . .  Outfielder Carlos Beltran took 15 swings from both sides of the plate with a fungo bat at Yankee Stadium on Monday and reported no issues with his right elbow. Beltran is has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 13 with a bone spur in the elbow and he is hoping to avoid having surgery to remove it. Beltran will take some more swings with a regular bat on Tuesday and he could progress to taking batting practice off soft tosses on Thursday.  . . .  Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith and the Cardinals honored Jeter in a pre-game ceremony in which Jeter was presented cuff links with the likeness of Cardinals legend Stan Musial and a check for $10,000 for Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation.


The Yankees will continue their three-game series with the Cardinals on Tuesday.

Hometown boy David Phelps (1-1, 3.18 ERA) will pitch in St. Louis for the first time as a major-league player. Phelps grew up in the area and attended high school there before attending Notre Dame. Phelps, 26, is coming off a hard-luck loss to Chris Sale and the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. Phelps gave up just two runs on six hits and a walk while he fanned eight in seven innings. But he lost the game 3-2.

Right-hander Lance Lynn (5-2, 3.60 ERA) will start for the Cards. Lynn yielded two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out six in six innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday. But he did not get a decision in a game the Cardinals later won.

Game-time will be 8:15 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by MY9.


Hughes, Yankees Catch Rays With Their Shields  Down

GAME 151

The Tampa Bay Rays’ nickname for starting pitcher James Shields is “Big Game.” It refers to their perception that he seems to step up in the crucial contests and pitch well.
Well, on Tuesday night the New York Yankees turned “Big Game” Shields into “The Hunted” and put up five runs on the right-hander in the first inning. From there Yankees starter Phil Hughes and the New Yorkers cruised to another victory over the Rays.
Hughes (17-8) entered the game as the top run-supported pitcher in baseball at 7.72 runs per game and the Yankees made sure he had plenty of runs to work with to vanquish Tampa Bay. They forced Shields (13-13) to pitch to nine batters and throw 42 pitches in scoring five runs before the some fans had even bought their first hotdog. 
Nick Swisher ignited the onslaught with a solo home run to right-center, his 27th home run of the season. 
A walk to Teixeira and an Alex Rodriguez single set up Jorge Posada’s two-out RBI single to center to score Teixeira. Lance Berkman followed with a line-drive double to center-field to score Rodriguez and Posada.
Last night’s hero with five RBIs, Curtis Granderson, kept his hot streak going with a single to center to plate Berkman and Shields was only left to ponder a more fitting nickname of “Big Deficit”
Hughes was nicked by a solo home run by Matt Joyce in the second inning, a two-out RBI single by Evan Longoria in the third and a two-out RBI single by Carl Crawford in the seventh, which came off Javier Vazquez after Hughes left the game with Jason Bartlett on second.
But, otherwise Hughes managed to keep the Rays from doing any big damage to get back into the game. Hughes gave up three runs on only four hits but he did walk five and fanned six over 6 1/3 innings.
But the Rays mostly did damage to themselves by stranding 10 base-runners in the game. They loaded the bases with two out in the fourth inning and Ben Zobrist grounded out to Teixeira at first to end the threat.
They also loaded the bases on Vazquez and Joba Chamberlain with one out in the eighth inning and the tying run at the plate. However, Chamberlain struck out pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe swinging on a 3-2 slider and John Jaso lined out to Granderson in center.
Chamberlain earned his third save of the season in a night where the offense allowed manager Joe Girardi to rest both Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera.
The big blow in the game for the Yankees actually came with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning with Teixeira on third and Rodriguez at first. Rays manager Joe Maddon, who double-checked this time to make sure he was warming up, brought in side-winding lefty Randy Choate to face Robinson Cano.
Choate made Cano look silly on a swing at a slider that ran a foot out of the strike zone and he was up in the count 1-2. However, Cano somehow connected with another slider and looped it into left-field.
Crawford only had one play to make and dove for the ball headlong but it dropped and rolled past him. Teixeira scored easily and Rodriguez scored all the way from first to put the game away.
Drek Jeter added a run in the eighth by following a two-out double by Brett Gardner with a double of his own to score Gardner.
The victory is important to the Yankees for many reasons. Most important, the Yankees assured that the Rays will leave Yankee Stadium on Thursday night without the lead in the American League East. 
With the loss by the Boston Red Sox to Baltimore on Tuesday, the Yankees also reduced their postseason Magic Number to just three.
The Yankees also have a shot to sweep the series, which would mean by virtue of winning the season series with the Rays, the Yankees would win the division title if both teams end up tied after 162 games.
That would give the Yankees home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
They also pushed their major-league-best record to 92-59 and they lead the Rays by a more comfortable 2 1/2 games. 
It any event, it left “Big Game” Shields to ponder his even bigger disappointment.

  • Hughes was not as sharp as he was last week at Tropicana Field because he had no command of his curve. But he dusted off his change-up and the Rays helped him out by making outs with runners on base. By battling into the seventh inning, Hughes earned his 17th victory.
  • It was nice to see Berkman get into the act in the first inning with his two-run double. Since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 1, Berkman is hitting .360.
  • Jeter extended his hitting streak to 10 games and he is 14-for-45 (.311) during that stretch. Though Jeter likely will end up with the worst batting average of his career, it is good to see he is rounding back into form before the playoffs begin.
  • The Rays have no clue when it comes to getting Cano out. For the season, Cano is hitting .393 against them with four home runs and 14 RBIs. Using lefties against him does not seem to help much. He is hitting .383 against Rays left-handers. His two RBIs give him 104 on the season, which is second on the team to Rodriguez, who has 112.

  • Vazquez was pressed into relief duty due to the unavailability of David Robertson, Wood and Rivera. He had not pitched since Sept. 10 and it showed. He faced only six batters and he gave up three hits. There is a remote possibility that Vazquez might not even make the playoff roster.
  • Teixeira was 0-for-3, which continues his slide since he broke his right little toe on Aug. 31. However, to be fair to Tex, he did draw a walk and reach on fielder’ choice and score two runs. He also narrowly missed a home run to right-field off Shields.
  • Rodriguez was 2-for-4 and scored two runs but his pitch selection on the night was not so good. Rodriguez swung at four pitches from Shields that were at his ankles. I know it is good to be aggressive but taking a Vladimir Guerrero approach is not going to work for A-Rod. Rodriguez is more effective when he is more selective and works the count in his favor.

Kevin “The Buffoon” Kennedy was back at it again on Tuesday night. First, of all, he will not let go of Jeter’s acting job to reach first base on a hit by pitch last week in St. Petersburg. He has brought it up Rays telecast the past two nights.
Tonight, he was back at it again because he claimed Jorge Posada faked getting hit by a Shields pitch in the third inning. I watched the replay several times and I could not tell either way. In that case, I defer to the umpire’s judgment.
Not Kennedy.
He cries like the same saddled-shoe wearing, pom-pom waving Rays’ fan he always is in the booth. Fortunately, the Yankees did not score that inning. That makes Posada’s so-called “acting” a moot point to me.
Not Kennedy.
He wants replay and challenges to be used in baseball. Of course, the first time it is used to cost the Rays a victory he likely will do an about-face on the subject or say the camera angle was not conclusive, etc.
He is always a through-and-through homer and the having to listen to his mindless drivel for two nights has literally made me want to vomit. 
I only have one thing to say to him: Kevin, the Rays won the game last week so the Jeter play did not hurt your team. Move on. Get a life. There is still so many umpire strike zones to bitch about and you can cry about so many other more important things for those poor little Rays from Cowtown, USA.

Yankee fans were very worried about the Yankees as they began their four-game series with the Rays. Now they feel better after two wins by a combined score of 16-9. They go for the series clincher on Wednesday.
On the mound will be right-hander A.J. Burnett (10-13, 5.08 ERA). Burnett held the Orioles to three runs on six hits in seven innings on Friday, but he ended up with a no-decision. Burnett has actually pitched better than his September ERA of 4.50 may indicate. He is 12-6 with a 3.16 ERA lifetime against the Rays.
The Rays will counter with right-hander Wade Davis (12-9, 4.19 ERA). Davis yielded two earned runs on six hits in seven innings against the Angels on Friday. But he was saddled with a no-decision. He is 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA against the Yankees this season.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

Yanks Honor Steinbrenner, Sheppard With Walk-Off Win



The New York Yankees paid tribute to their longtme public address announcer Bob Sheppard and their iconic owner of 37 years George Steinbrenner on Friday night.
The somber Yankee Stadium ceremony with roses, videos and speeches then gave way to a game that echoed a game played 31 years ago after Thurman Munson had died.
The Yankees, who never led the game until the end, received a game-tying solo home run from Nick Swisher in the eighth inning. Then Swisher won the game in walk-off fashion in the ninth inning with a single to right to score Curtis Granderson from second as the Yankees honored two legendary greats with a 5-4 victory over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.
Much like Friday, the game on Aug. 6, 1979 against the Baltimore Orioles the score ended up 5-4 on a two-run single by Bobby Murcer, who also homered earlier in that game.
Swisher, like his other Yankee teammates, stepped to the plate with two out and two on in the ninth inning sporting a simple GMS patch for Steinbrenner over the interlocking NY over his heart and a microphone patch on his left sleeve to honor Bob Sheppard. 
Granderson had led off the ninth with a single to right off Rays reliever Randy Choate and he advanced to second on pinch-hitter Ramiro Pena’s sacrifice bunt. Choate walked Brett Gardner and Rays manager replaced Choate with Dan Wheeler.
Wheeler struck out Derek Jeter and Maddon then replaced Wheeler with right-hander Lance Cormier. Swisher worked the count to 2-1 before lacing a single to right. Right-fielder Gabe Kapler’s throw home actually beat Granderson but the ball skipped past catcher Kelly Shoppach and Granderson slid into home with the winning run, much to the delight of the 47,524 fans in attendance.
Mariano Rivera (3-1) pitched a scoreless ninth to pick up the win.
The victory extended the Yankees’ lead on the Rays to three games in the American League East. The Red Sox, by virtue of their second straight loss to the Texas Rangers, fell 6 1/2 games back.

  • Swisher’s night was magical. He singled to drive in the Yankees’ first run in the third inning. His 16th home run of the season in the eighth inning off Joaquin Benoit tied the game 4-4 and then his game-winner capped off a 3-for-5 night with three RBIs. Swisher raised his average to .303 on the season.
  • Robinson Cano brought the Yankees to within one run in the sixth inning with a solo home run off Rays starter James Shields for his 17th home run of the season. 
  • Jorge Posada followed Cano with a solo shot of his own to tie the score at 3-3. It was the 10th home run of the season for Posada and his first since June 16 against the Philadelphia Phillies.
  • David Robertson started his second half off with a bang. He came on in the eighth inning and faced three batters and struck out all three. Robertson entered the second half with a 5.46 ERA but he has had 19 scoreless outings in his last 22 appearances dating back to May 7 when his ERA was 13.50.

  • This was not a good night for CC Sabathia. Struggling most of the night with command of his fastball, Sabathia gave up eights hits and four walks in seven innings. But he did limit the damage to four runs (three earned) and the Rays scored only two runs off Sabathia when they loaded the bases with no outs in both the fifth and seventh innings.
  • It was an emotional night for Jeter, who delivered a moving speech about Sheppard and Steinbrenner before the game. It showed at the plate, too. Jeter was 0-for-5 and his slump in July continues. He is hitting .178 for the month and his season average fell to .270. That is the lowest his average has been since May 22.
  • Swisher had a great night at the plate but in the field it was not so stellar. He overran and then dropped a fly ball off the bat of Kelly Shoppach for a two-base error to begin the sixth inning.  He also threw a ball badly off-line attempting to nail B.J. Upton taking third on a single by Carl Crawford in the seventh inning.

The Yankees recalled first baseman/DH Juan Miranda from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday and optioned infielder Kevin Russo back to Scranton. Miranda was the DH in Friday’s game and was 0-for-3.  This is Miranda’s second promotion to the club. In18 games, Miranda hit .217 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Russo hit .188 with four RBIs in 29 games with the Yankees.  

The Yankees will have another emotional day on Saturday as they conduct their annual Old-Timers Day at the stadium.
They will go for the series win of the three-game weekend series with A.J. Burnett (7-7, 4.75 E
RA) on the mound. Burnett is coming off two starts in which he is 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA after suffering through a winless June. In his only start against the Rays this season he lost on May 19, giving up six runs in 6 2/3 innings. In his career against the Rays Burnett is 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA.
Burnett will be opposed by fellow right-hander Jeff Niemann (7-2, 2.77 ERA). Niemann is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in his last three starts. He is 1-0 with a 2.93 ERA against the Yankees. He has not faced the Yankees this season.
Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports.

Yankees Wait For Rays To Lower Their Shields


The Yankees played their version of “rope-a-dope” to get the pitch count up on Rays’ ace James Shields and it worked to perfection.
Jorge Posada blasted a two-run home run with one out in the sixth inning off reliever Randy Choate, who had just entered the game after Shields had thrown 103 pitches, as the New York Yankees took a 3-2 lead and went on to thump the Rays 7-3 on Sunday.
A.J. Burnett (1-0) pitched more economically than Shields and he lasted seven innings to pick up his first victory of the season. Choate (0-1) took the loss.
With the victory, the Yankees won the series and ran their record to 4-2. The Rays fell to 3-3.

  • Burnett showed Shields the value of keeping the pitch count down. He threw 92 pitches and gave up only two runs on six hits and three walks in seven innings. Shields had a 2-1 lead but had to be removed with one on and one out in the sixth inning after throwing 103 pitches.
  • Once again, the Yankees feasted on a largely deficient Rays’ bullpen. Choate, Lance Cormier and Andy Sonnanstine pitched 3 2/3 innings and served up five runs on five hits and one walk. 
  • Alex Rodriguez contributed to the attack with two doubles and two RBIs.
  • Curtis Granderson had a very good all-around game, He was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the second to score Rodriguez with the Yankees first run. He also singled off the left-hander Choate, stole second, move to third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch from Cormier to make it 4-2. Granderson also made a fine sliding catch on a sinking liner in the fifth by Dioner Navarro and doubled off Pat Burrell at first base.
  • Nick Swisher connected on his second home run of the season in the eighth inning off Sonnanstine.
  • Mark Teixeira may have struck out all three times he faced Shields but he made the veteran right-hander pay for it. Teixeira forced Shields to throw 18 pitches in his three at-bats.

  • After Teixeira broke out of his 0-for-17 slide on Saturday he was 0-for-4, with a walk and a run scored. Of his three strikeouts, two times he was caught looking.
  • Brett Gardner was 0-for-4 and he failed to get a ball out of the infield.
  • Burnett got off to a rocky start by allowing a Jason Bartlett single, a stolen base, an RBI single by Carl Crawford, a stolen base, a walk and an RBI groundout to Carlos Pena. But after that Burnett gave up only four hits and two walks over the next six innings.
  • Joba Chamberlain relieved Burnett in the seventh and immediately made things a bit too interesting for the Rays by giving up a single, an RB
    I triple and a walk. But he got out of the inning by getting B.J Upton to fly out to left with two runners on and the Yankees held their 7-3 lead.
  • Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth in a non-save situation and gave up a leadoff single and later walked the No. 9 hitter Sean Rodriguez. But he benefitted from a doube play and struck out Jason Bartlett to end the game.
  • In defense of Chamberlain and Rivera, not many pitchers in the bullpen have been getting much work because the Yankees had two off-days last week and CC Sabathia pitched into the eighth inning and Burnett threw seven on Sunday. It is hard to stay sharp when you are not getting regular work.

If there was any doubt that Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg is the worst baseball facility in existence, the bottom of the sixth inning proved it. With one on and two out, Evan Longoria hit a harmless pop-up straight up behind home plate, it struck the “B Level” catwalk and landed in fair territory. By ground rule, Longoria was awarded a single. Burnett, a bit unnerved by the call, walked Pena to load the bases. But he escaped without giving up a run when B.J. Upton popped up to Teixeira without hitting any catwalks to end the threat.  . . .  Second base umpire James Hoye blew a call in the seventh inning when Curtis Granderson appeared to have caught Dioner Navarro’s fly ball on a diving catch. Hoye ruled Granderson trapped it but replays showed the ball hit in Granderson’s glove pocket and never touched the ground. No harm though. Burnett ended the inning by getting Rodriguez to bounce into a double play.  . . .   The Yankees completed their spring training schedule and first road trip of the season. They will fly back tonight to New York, the first time they have been in the city as a team since they won the World Series and their parade.  . . .  The Yankees will host a charity Welcome Home Luncheon tomorrow at noon.  . . .  The team will also have a huge Opening Day celebration planned for Tuesday. The Yankees will receive their World Series rings before the game.

The Yankees will celebrate their 2010 world championship by receiving their World Series on Tuesday before the game. They will receive them in front of the team they beat to advance to the World Series: the Los Angeles Angels. Hideki Matsui, who was the World Series MVP for the Yankees, will receive his ring in an Angels’ uniform. 
Andy Pettitte (0-0), who pitched the clinching Game 6 of the World Series, appropriately will get the start for the Yankees. He will be opposed by Angels right-hander Ervin Santana (0-1).
Game-time is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally by the YES Network and nationally by the MLB Network.

CC Flirts With No-No As Yankees Sting Rays 10-0


CC Sabathia’s date with no-hit destiny will have to wait for another day, but the big left-hander threw a masterpiece on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays just the same.
Sabathia pitched 7 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball and settled for a combined two-hit shutout with David Robertson while the New York Yankees’ hitters were carving up the Rays for a 10-0 victory at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
Robinson Cano led the air assault on the Rays with a two-run home run to ignite the scoring in the fourth and an RBI single in the ninth for three RBIs.
Sabathia (1-0) earned his first victory of the season. Rookie right-hander Wade Davis (0-1) took the loss in his first start of the season.
Both teams are now 3-2 on the young season.

  • Sabathia was lights out. He faced 26 batters, retired the first 12, walked only two, struck out five and allowed only four balls to reach the outfield. He was four outs away from his first career no-hitter when Kelly Shoppach lined a 0-1 fastball into left field for a single. Manager Joe Girardi removed him from the game at that point.
  • The defense behind Sabathia was scintillating. Sabathia himself stopped a hot grounder off the bat of Carl Crawford in the fourth inning. In addition there was: (1) Mark Teixeira’s full-out leaping dive to his right to catch Jason Bartlett’s soft liner to end the sixth, (2) Alex Rodriguez’s diving grab to his right and throw to first to nip a speedy B.J. Upton to end the seventh and (3) Robinson Cano’s all-out charge to grab a grounder Sabathia had tipped with his left hand and his rocket throw to retire Willie Aybar to begin the eighth.
  • Cano’s 2-for-5 afternoon raised his batting average to .381 on the season. If there are any doubters about moving him to the No.5 spot in the batting order, chew on this: He also leads the team in RBIs with six.
  • There has been a Mark Teixeira sighting. Teixeira woke up after extending his season hitless streak to 0-for-17, a career worst. He walked in the fourth, he hit a RBI double in the fifth, he singled in the eighth and added a bizarre single in the ninth. More about the bizarre single later in The Negatives.
  • Brett Gardner ran amok most of the day at the plate. He was 2-for-4, walked, singled twice, scored twice, drove in two runs and stole a base. After a terrible spring, Gardner is now hitting .385 on the season.
  • Francisco Cervelli played in his first game of the season and nearly called a no-hitter. So that, in and of itself, is excellent. But Cervelli also blasted a key two-run double in the eighth inning that made the score 8-0.

  • There weren’t many things to criticize but there were a few bad base-running problems in this game: (1) Rodriguez was cut down easily trying to steal in the second inning, (2) Curtis Granderson did not slide at home in the sixth inning and was tossed out at the plate by Crawford and (3) Nick Johnson inexplicably stopped at second on a ball off the wall hit by Teixeira in the ninth. Teixeira was left hung out to dry and was tagged out in a rundown between second and first.
  • Gardner started to dive to catch Shoppach’s sinking liner in the eighth and backed off. Come on, Brett! I am only teasing. On an indoor hard-surface turf field there was no reason for Gardner to injure himself to preserve the no-hitter.
  • Derek Jeter hit into a inning-ending double play with two on and one out in the third. At that point Davis had pitched to one batter over the minimum and struck out three. Davis was making the Yankee hitters look bad up to that point.
  • Robertson came close to spoiling the shutout by entering the game in the eighth with Shoppach at first when he balked him to second. He retired Gabe Kapler to end the inning. Robertson also gave up a double with two outs in the ninth to Ben Zobrist but he got pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro to bounce out to third to end the game.

Kelly Shoppach’s hit on Sabathia’s 111th pitch actually saved manager Joe Girardi some criticism. Girardi revealed after the game that he was taking Sabathia out after eight innings whether he had the no-hitter or not. Girardi said he had reached his pitch limit.  . . .  The last no-hitter in Yankee history was David Cone’s perfect game on July 18, 1999. Girardi was the catcher in that game.  . . .  The last major-league no-hitter was Mark Buerhle’s perfect game on July 23, 2009. The opponent that dat was the Tampa Bay Rays.  . . .  Though the 29,892 in attendance harbored a huge contingent of Yankee fans, if you listen carefully to the soundtrack of the ovation Sabathia received as he left the mound in the eighth, you can actually hear a lot of boos from Rays fans. This shows that the cowbell-ringing brethren represent one of the least mature and enlightened baseball crowds you ever will experience at a game. These are the fans who come more to boo the Yankees than to cheer for the Rays. . . .  Rodriguez’s single in the second inning was his 1,000th hit as a Yankee. He is the 39th player in team history to reach that plateau.  . . .  If the Rays hope to compete in the AL East they better do something about their bullpen. Former Yankee left Randy Choate and Mike Ekstrom combined to pitch 1 2/3 innings of relief and gave up six runs on seven hits and four walks. That is a combined ERA of 32.39. Ouch!

Now that the Yankees have handed the upstart Rays a bitter dose of Yankee reality on Saturday, the 2010 World Champions will go for the series win on Sunday. Right-hander A.J. Burnett will pitch for the Yankees. He will be opposed by Rays’ ace James Shields. 
Last season, Burnett was 4-0 with 1.97 ERA against the Rays. Shields is 1-7 with a 6.00 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time is 1:40 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast locally on the YES Network and nationally by TBS.