YANKEES 3, RANGERS 0
In his last three starts, Hiroki Kuroda was 0-1 with two no-decisions despite recording an ERA of 2.61. Even though he was pitching a no-hitter through six innings on Tuesday it appeared that Kuroda was headed to yet another no-decision or a loss because the Yankees also were held scoreless through six innings.
But Nick Swisher came through for the second straight night with a big home run, a two-run shot in the bottom of the seventh, and Mark Teixeira followed him with a solo blast of his own while Kuroda ended up throwing a two-hit, complete-game shutout as New York defeated Texas again in the second game of the clash of the two titans of the American League.
Kuroda (11-8) issued only two walks over the first six innings before Elvis Andrus led off the seventh inning with an infield single to shortstop Jayson Nix. Kuroda was able to get out of the inning, stranding Andrus on third. Michael Young hit a solid single into center to lead off the eighth, but he quickly was erased in a double play off the bat of David Murphy.
Kuroda pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record his fourth career complete game and his second of the season.
The Yankees had no trouble getting runners on base against Rangers starter Matt Harrison (13-7). The hard part was getting a timely hit to score one of them.
Harrison kept the Yankees from scoring by stranding seven runners over the first four innings, including three in the third inning when Curtis Granderson flew out to center with the bases loaded.
However, the Yankees finally broke through in the seventh inning when Derek Jeter stroked a one-out single into center. Rangers manager Ron Washington then decided to replace Harrison with right-hander Alexi Ogando.
Swisher battled Ogando for seven pitches into a full count before he tomahawked a high fastball into the second deck of the bleachers in right-field as a crowd of 44,533 fans at Yankee Stadium went delirious.
Before those fans got the chance to settle back into their seats Teixeira smacked a 2-1 fastball about 10 rows deep in the right-field bleachers, marking the ninth time this season the Yankees have hit back-to-back home runs.
Kuroda finished the night having thrown first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 29 batters he faced and he threw 74 of his 109 pitches for strikes (68 percent). Andrus was only the Rangers to reach scoring position as the Yankees backed Kuroda up with a pair of double plays.
It was Kuroda’s first victory since July 23 against the Seattle Mariners.
The victory improved the Yankees’ record to 69-47, two games better than the Rangers for the best record in the American League. The Yankees currently lead both the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles by 6 games in the American League East. The Rangers fell to 67-48.
- Swisher’s home run was his 16th of the season and he is now on a nice little hot streak at the plate. In his last eight games, Swisher is 12-for-34 (.353) with two home runs and 10 RBIs. In his two games against the Rangers, Swisher is 3-for-8 (.375) with two home runs and seven RBIs.
- Teixeira’s home run was 23rd of the season and he still leads the team in RBIs with 77. He now has a eight-game hitting streak in which he is 11-for-32 (.344) with three home runs and five RBIs. He was 2-for-4 on the night and it raised his season average to .260.
- Kuroda has never looked better on the mound for the Yankees. He kept a dangerous Rangers’ attack off-balance all night with his his slider and split-finger fastball. In Kuroda’s 14 starts since May 21, he is 10-2 with a 2.90 ERA. In his two losses he gave up only five runs in 13 1/3 innings, which is a 3.38 ERA. His season ERA is now 3.06, which is eighth best in the A.L.
I could mention Granderson’s flyout with the bases loaded and his two strikeouts but that would be nitpicking. Kuroda was sensational and Swisher and Teixeira came through to give him the support he deserved. The Yankees have a shot to win the four-game series on Wednesday. Things are looking up!
X-rays on Alex Rodriguez’s fractured left hand showed positive results and the brace on his hand will be removed. Rodriguez now will be able to do strength exercises and the Yankees are still targeting a return to action for the third baseman some time in September. Rodriguez has been on the disabled list since July 24. . . . Andy Pettitte was given clearance by team’s medical staff to begin long tossing as he continues his recovery from a fractured left ankle. The Yankees have no timeline for Pettitte’s return but they hope he is able to pitch in September in order to be able to be ready for the postseason.
The Yankees hope to clinch the four-game series against the Rangers on Wednesday.
Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-5, 4.85 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Garcia allowed just two runs in six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday to win his second consecutive start. Garcia is 8-5 with a 4.10 ERA in his career against Texas.
The Rangers will throw right-hander Scott Feldman (6-7, 4.64 ERA). Feldman gave up four runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings on Friday in a loss against the Detroit Tigers. He is 3-2 with a 4.85 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.
Here are some news and notes updates on the Yankees:
- Buster Olney of ESPN reports the Yankees are within a week of signing a left-handed hitting veteran to be the team’s primary designated hitter in 2012. The choices have narrowed to Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Raul Ibanez. The Yankees are familiar with Matsui and Damon. Both of them were integral to the team’s 2009 championship season. Ibanez, 39, has apparently told the Yankees he would take less money in order to play for them in 2012. But there are also indications that the prices the players are seeking must come down before the Yankees are ready to make a deal. The Yankees’ one-year, $10 million contract offer to Hiroki Kuroda and the $4-plus million offered in a one-year deal to Freddy Garcia (which in retrospect was a mistake) have limited what the Yankees can spend on a DH to replace the bat of Jesus Montero, who was traded to the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Michael Pineda.
- Newsday reported that the Yankees signed a minor-league deal with veteran utility man Bill Hall, who played for the Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants last season. Hall, 32, hit a combined .211 with two home runs and 14 RBIs in 62 games with both teams. Hall’s main calling card is his versatility. He can play second, shortstop and third base and all three outfield spots. With the Yankees’ signing of Hall they will not have the roster space to re-sign Eric Chavez, who was an infield backup with the Yankees last season. Chavez, 34, hit .263 with two home runs and 26 RBIs in 58 games with the Yankees last season.
- As expected, MLB.com ranked lefty starter Manny Banuelos and right-hander Dellin Betances as the top two prospects in the organization. Banuelos, 20, started 20 games at Double-A Trenton and seven games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was a combined 6-7 with a 3.75 ERA with a 125 strikeouts and 75 walks in 129 2/3 innings. The Yankees marvel at his fastball, curve and change-up arsenal but he needs another full season in the minors to harness his control. Betances, 23, made 21 starts at Trenton and four starts at Scranton and was a combined 4-9 with a 3.70 ERA and 142 K’s and 70 walks in 126 1/3 innings. Betances has much better velocity on his fastball than Banuelos and he has a good power curve. However, Betances’ change-up needs work and he also will have to throw more strikes in 2012. The Yankees’ No. 3 prospect is 19-year-old Gary Sanchez, who now replaces Montero as the team’s catcher of the future. Sanchez hit .256 with 16 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBIs in 82 games in the Sally League. Scouts project he will hit for better power and average and he already possesses top-flight defensive skills.
- Also of note in the rankings: Jose Campos, who was acquired in the trade that brought Pineda from Seattle in exchange for Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi, was ranked fifth behind outfielder Mason Williams. Campos, 19, led the Northwest League in strikeouts and ERA. He was 5-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 85 K’s in 81 1/3 innings. The right-hander will be making his first appearance in a full-season league in 2012 and he could progress quickly on the basis of his 95-mile-per-hour fastball and an excellent curve.
- A day after prosecutors brought extortion and stalking charges against a woman centered around an extramarital affair, the wife of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman filed for divorce. Mary Cashman filed the paperwork in a court in Stamford, CT, on Friday. Neither party would comment publicly. Last Thursday, Manhattan prosecutors charged 36-year-old Louise Neathway with harassing Cashman and threatening to harm his reputation if Cashman did not pay her $30,000. A source close to the family said the Cashmans have been living apart for the past year. This leads me to two observations: No. 1, it is gratifying to know that Cashman has been able to function well as a G.M. during all this personal upheaval. He has done a fine job of improving the Yankees, particularly the starting pitching. No. 2, if you took out the name Cashman and substituted the name Alex Rodriguez in the story than it would have been reported on the Yankees.com website. But because it was someone in the front office, it was not mentioned at all. That seems like an odd double standard. This is similar to Rangers manager Ron Washington failing a drug test and never being punished by the Rangers or Major League Baseball. Again, a double standard!
- This is the first offseason I can remember that no impact free agents signed with American League East teams. Yankee fans may have been stunned by the lack of Yankee offers to top-flight free agents like Albert Pujols, Cecil Fielder, Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, C.J. Wilson, Mark Buerhle or Japan’s Yu Darvish. But the other teams in the AL East whiffed at signing those players also. Boston was hamstrung from a payroll that is settling close to the mark in which they would have to pay a luxury tax to the league. The Jays lost in the posting process for Darvish. The Rays can’t attract top free agents because of their substandard facilities and a shoestring budget. The Orioles seem to be stuck in reverse as an organization and they are limited in what they can do. So you can make a case that the signing of Kuroda and the acquisition of Pineda was the two best moves involving AL East teams this winter and both of them were moves by the Yankees.
YANKEES 9, INDIANS 2
To anyone who has been watching CC Sabathia pitch this season, there is no doubt — except for a very biased manager in Texas — that he is an All-Star pitcher. All you have to do is poll the Cleveland Indians delegation on Tuesday night.
Sabathia toyed with his former team by shutting them out over seven innings and striking out 11 for his ninth victory in his last 10 starts and Curtis Granderson blasted a pair of home runs as the Yankees gave the Indians an old-fashioned whupping at Progressive Field.
Sabathia (12-4) struck out double-digit batters for the second consecutive start and for the 25th time in his career as he became the first pitcher in baseball to record 12 wins.
Meanwhile, Sabathia’s mound opponent, Carlos Carrasco, endured a nightmare second inning in which an inning-ending double play was not completed. It ended up costing Carrasco and the Indians five runs as the Yankees sent 10 batters to the plate in the frame.
Carrasco (8-5) gave up a one-out single to Nick Swisher in the second and he then issued walks to Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner to load the bases. Francisco Cervelli hit what appeared to be a routine double-play ball to Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera recorded the out at second but rookie second baseman Cord Phelps bounced his relay throw to first and first baseman Carlos Santana was unable to glove it, allowing Swisher to score the first run of the game.
Derek Jeter followed with a two-run double to the wall in center-field that scored Posada and Cervelli. Granderson then followed with his 24th home run of the season into the right-field bleachers to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead.
Granderson later led off the fourth inning with an even longer blast to right for his 25th home run and his third in the past two games.
The Yankees added three runs in the eighth inning off reliever Chad Durbin but Sabathia was in control and really did not need all that support. He gave up just five hits and walked two and left having thrown 100 pitches, 69 of them for strikes.
The Indians scored two runs in the ninth off Yankees rookie right-hander Lance Pendleton.
With the victory the Yankees improved their American League-best record to 51-33 and they remain 1 1/2 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East. The Indians fell to 45-39.
- It is pretty obvious that the Rangers’ manager, Ron Washington, should be required to take another drug test after leaving Sabathia off the All-Star team. His reasoning: Sabathia was sixth on the players’ ballot and he wanted to choose Rays lefty David Price and his own lefty C.J. Wilson instead. Sabathia is 12-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Price is 8-7 with a 3.56 ERA and Wilson is 8-3 with a 3.09 ERA. Considering that Sabathia entered Tuesday’s game with a 8-1 record and a 2.90 ERA in his last nine starts, Washington has to be on the crack pipe again. Sabathia is pitching on Sunday, which will not make him eligible to pitch in the game anyway, but he deserves the selection because he has a bonus clause in his contract. Washington is scum. Is this Cliff Lee negotiations payback?
- Granderson continues his marvelous 2011 season. He is 4-for-9 (.444) in the series with three home runs, a single, four runs scored, a walk and four RBIs. His 3-for-6 night raised his season average to .278 and he has 25 home runs and 62 RBIs. It is a good thing the fans voted him to start the All-Star Game. Washington likely would have chosen Nelson Cruz instead.
- Jeter collected two hits in the game and he now has 2,996 for his career. He remains four short of the record with the Yankees scheduled to play four games at home against the Tampa Bay Rays before the All-Star break. There is a good possibility his 3,000th hit could come at home in that series.
- All the Yankee starters, except for Cervelli, registered multiple hit games. The Yankees pounded out a total of 17 hits. They bombarded Carrasco for six runs on 10 hits and three walks in only four innings. The beating could have been worse, too. The Yankees left 11 runners on base.
There was absolutely nothing to criticize in this thrashing. They got dominant starting pitching from their ace and they scored nine runs. This is about as good as it can get for a team looking to win a championship.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera remains day-to-day with a sore right triceps. Rivera, 41, played catch before the game and reported improvement. But he said he likely would not pitch unless it was an emergency. . . . Eric Chavez, 33, continues to have problems with injuries, even when he is on the disabled list. The Yankees said Chavez suffered a strain in his abdominal muscle following a workout in Tampa, FL. He is flying to New York for further tests. Chavez, who has been on the 60-day disabled list since May 6 with a fractured left foot, also was slowed last week with a back strain. He was hitting .303 and was a valuable reserve at first and third base. . . . Manager Joe Girardi said the Yankees will likely rest Jeter on Wednesday since he is just coming off the disabled list.
The Yankees will play the rubber game of the three-game series with the Indians on Wednesday and it will be an important day for the starting rotation.
The Yankees will start 25-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes (0-1, 13.94 ERA), who was activated off the disabled list with inflammation his right shoulder and will make his first start since April 14. He is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA against the Indians.
The Indians will send right-hander Justin Masterson (6-6, 2.85 ERA) to the mound. Masterson earned his first victory since April 26 in his last start on Friday. He gave up one run on four hits in eight innings against the Reds. He is 1-2 with a 3.80 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.
nder Colby Lewis (12-13, 3.72 ERA). In the ALDS against the Rays, Lewis pitched five scoreless innings but he did not get a decision because — stop me if this sounds familiar — the bullpen gave up the lead late to the Rays. Lewis did not face the Yankees this season but he has a 6.89 ERA against them in three career starts.
kees will be starting A.J. Burnett in Game 4. He was awful for most of the season with the Yankees. He was 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA. The Rangers will counter with Tommy Hunter in Game 4, who was 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA.
a secret ballot among his fellow players for his service to baseball, on and off the field. Mark Teixeira, a member of the association’s executive board, made the presentation. Granderson beat out fellow finalists Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols.