YANKEES 8, RANGERS 2
Ryan Dempster was navigating carefully through the New York Yankees’ lineup and he opted to walk Derek Jeter to load the bases with one out in the third inning. But Nick Swisher and a hanging slider proved to be his undoing on Monday.
Swisher’s sixth career grand slam and the 200th home run of his career was all part of a five-run inning and Swisher ended up driving in five runs as New York pounded Texas in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium between the two American League teams with the best records.
Dempster (6-6) began the third with a 2-0 lead, having retired the first six batters he faced. But, Russell Martin led off by lacing a sharp single to right and Raul Ibanez followed with another hard-hit lined single to right.
Ichiro Suzuki then laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Martin and Ibanez.
On a 2-2 pitch, Jeter smacked a split-finger fastball down the left-field line that just hooked foul. Dempster then opted to toss two pitches off the plate to walk Jeter as if he wanted to pitch around Jeter to look for a double-play ball off the bat of Swisher.
But Dempster hung a slider on a 1-0 delivery and Swisher blasted a mammoth shot into the second deck of the bleachers in right to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 4-2 lead on one swing. The crowd of 45,676 let out huge roar as a smiling Swisher rounded the bases.
Meanwhile, 25-year-old rookie right-hander David Phelps, pitching in place of the injured CC Sabathia, tossed a solid five innings to win his first major-league game as a starter.
Phelps (3-3) gave up a bloop two-out RBI single to Nelson Cruz in the first inning and a solo home run to David Murphy to lead of the second inning. However, he settled in and retired nine of the last 14 batters he faced. In addition, he picked off two Rangers base-runners.
Phelps gave up two runs on six hits and a walk while he struck out three in five innings in which he threw 51 of his 78 pitches for strikes.
Newly acquired 39-year-old right-hander Derek Lowe pitched four scoreless innings in his Yankees debut to pick up his first major-league save since he was a closer for the Boston Red Sox during the 2001 season.
The Yankees offense made only Dempster’s third A.L. start of his career a living nightmare.
After Swisher’s grand slam, the Yankees reloaded the bases in the third and Curtis Granderson lofted a deep fly ball in center to score another run.
Red-hot Eric Chavez, who entered the game 9-for-16 with two home runs and five RBIs in his last four games, swatted a monstrous solo home run of his own over the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center to lead off the sixth inning.
Jeter added an RBI double in the eighth, which chased Dempster, and Swisher ended his night with an RBI single to center off reliever Michael Kirkman to close out the scoring.
Dempster was tagged for eight runs on nine hits and two walks and he fanned four batters in six-plus innings.
The Rangers have lost nine of their last 13 games against the Yankees and are 23-45 against them during the regular season since 2004. They have lost nine of their last 10 regular-season games at Yankee Stadium.
With the victory, the Yankees have the best record in the American League at 68-47. They lead the second-place Tampa Bay Rays by 5 1/2 games in the American League East. The Rangers are now 67-47.
- Swisher was 2-for-4 with home run and five RBIs on the night. It was his 15th homer of the season as well as the 200th of his career. In his last seven games, Swisher is 11-for-30 (.367) with a home run and seven RBIs. The hot streak has raised Swisher’s season average to .264.
- Phelps faced what is arguably the best hitting team in the league and pitched exceptionally. Despite throwing 26 pitches in the first inning, Phelps was able to pitch the longest outing of his career in his fourth major-league start. The rookie is 3-3 with a 2.53 ERA. He entered play having not been scored upon in his last seven relief appearances covering 10 2/3 innings. He had given up just three hits and a walk while striking out 14 in that span.
- Chavez hit his 13th home run of the season and he was 2-for-4 in the game. So Chavez is 11-for-20 (.550) with three home runs and five RBIs. Chavez did not play at all in the road series against the Blue Jays because the team faced three left-handers and Chavez was also unable to play due to back stiffness.
- Lowe, 39, was released by the Cleveland Indians after a July 31 start in which he was blasted for seven runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Royals in Kansas City. The Yankees officially signed him on Monday and he paid immediate dividends by throwing four innings of two-hit, no-run baseball in his debut. Lowe will slot in as a long reliever while Phelps pitches in place of Sabathia.
This was a game the Yankees were supposed to lose. Sabathia is on the disabled list and Phelps had not gotten past 4 2/3 innings in any of his previous starts. But the Yankees were able to put up eight runs on the Rangers and they coasted to a huge victory over a sure-fire playoff team. There is nothing negative to say.
When Lowe was signed and added to the roster the Yankees optioned right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Igarashi gave up three runs on three hits in two innings in Sunday’s 10-7 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays and he has no record an 18.00 ERA in his four appearances with the Yankees. . . . Mariano Rivera threw off flat ground on Monday at Yankee Stadium with pitching coach Larry Rothschild looking on. But manager Joe Girardi said there is 99.9 percent chance Rivera would not pitch for the Yankees this season. Rivera has been on the disabled list since May 3 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The Yankees will continue their four-game home series against the Rangers on Tuesday.
Hiroki Kuroda (10-8, 3.24 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Kuroda gave up three runs on 10 hits and fanned five in 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision the Yankees rallied to win over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday. Kuroda lost in a pitcher’s duel with fellow countryman Yu Darvish on April 24 and he is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA against the Rangers lifetime.
The Rangers will counter with left-hander Matt Harrison (13-6, 3.31 ERA). Harrison gave up four runs on eight hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings against the Red Sox in a no-decision on Wednesday. Harrison was tagged with five runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Yankees. He is 2-2 with a 4.76 ERA against them in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by My9.
The New York Yankees have reached the halfway mark of the season and they are comfortably in first place in the American League East. This is despite some injuries to some keep players such as Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Michael Pineda, Brett Gardner and Joba Chamberlain. As we do every year, let’s look at the individual components of the team and issue grades for the first half.
RAFAEL SORIANO (2-0, 1.72 ERA, 19 SAVES)
DAVID ROBERTSON (0-3, 2.42 ERA)
BOONE LOGAN (3-0, 3.54 ERA)
CORY WADE (0-1, 5.79 ERA)
CLAY RAPADA (2-0, 3.00 ERA)
CODY EPPLEY (0-0, 2.53 ERA)
D.J. MITCHELL (0-0, 3.38 ERA)
The New York Yankees season could have very easily ended on May 3 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera was shagging balls during batting practice, as has been his custom his entire career, when his right knee buckled as he reached the warning track. Rivera went down in a heap and the Yankees lost the best closer in the history of the game for the rest of the season.
However, on May 22 the Yankees ran off a record of 28-11 and they moved from tied for last place in the American League East 5 1/2 games behind to first place in the division and five games ahead.
The starting pitching was a big reason why. The starters who struggled in April pitched better. But there was something else that kept the Yankees going without Mariano Rivera.
That something was Rafael Soriano.
Soriano, 32, was signed by the Yankees for $12 million a season over three seasons in the winter of 2011. Soriano had just come off a season in which he saved a league-leading 45 games in 48 chances with the Tampa Bay Rays and compiled a 3-2 record with a 1.73 ERA.
But why pay so much for someone who would not close games?
General manager Brian Cashman quickly pointed out publicly the signing was not his idea and he disavowed it. But after the Yankees lost out in trying to sign left-hander Cliff Lee the front office figured that with Rivera, Soriano and David Robertson that the Yankees could shorten the game to overcome their starting pitching deficiencies.
On paper, it made sense. In practice, it did not work out entirely as planned.
Soriano was hit hard early and often at the start of the 2011 season. The fans quickly turned on him for his seeming uncaring attitude as he pitched worse and worse. Then he ended up on the disabled list for two months with soreness in his right elbow. The fans also do not like players drawing rich contracts while rehabbing injuries.
Soriano did come back and ultimately was given the seventh inning as Robertson owned the ninth and Rivera was king of the ninth. Soriano finished the 2011 season with a 2-3 mark and a gaudy 4.12 ERA. He saved two games and blew three others.
Soriano then surprised a lot of people by deciding not exercise his opt-out clause in his three-year deal. He was getting paid good money to pitch the seventh inning and he figured it was more advantageous for him to stay. As far as Yankee fans go, they may have enjoyed booing him, but Soriano saved the Yankees’ season by deciding to stay.
When Robertson failed in his first attempt to close for Rivera on May 9 against the Rays and then ended up on the disabled list for a month with a left oblique injury, Soriano was reborn as a closer. He is also proving to be very good at it.
Since he has taken over, Soriano has saved 19 games out of his 20 opportunities and erased the team’s fears they could not win without Mo.
The fans? They booed him unmercifully at Yankee Stadium when he blew his only save on June 10 against the Mets. Tough crowd.
Yankee fans should be hoisting this man up and celebrating him because Soriano will be a big component of the Yankees’ run in the playoffs. They certainly do miss Mo but they have to be thankful they have a replacement in Soriano who has saved 91 games out of 99 chances since the 2009 season. That is a 92 percent success rate.
The Yankees actually have other more pressing bullpen issues. They revolve around Robertson, who came off the 15-day disabled list on June 15.
In the 11 appearances Robertson, 27, has made beginning on June 15, he is 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA. That is a far cry from the Robertson who made 13 appearances before May 9 and was unscored upon in his first 13 innings of the season with 23 strikeouts.
The Yankees need Robertson to settle back into his groove and just, well, be Robertson again. We will see how it unfolds after the All-Star break.
The injuries to Rivera and Robertson have meant that Boone Logan has pitched in more games and for more innings than he has been used since he was acquired by the Yankees in 2009. The most innings he ever pitched in pinstripes was the 41 2/3 innings he pitched last season in 64 appearances.
But because Logan is no longer the lefty specialist in the bullpen he is being used more often and for longer stretches. Logan, 27, has already thrown 29 2/3 innings and made 41 appearances.
The strain is beginning to show. Logan’s ERA for the first three months was excellent: He was 2-0 with a 2.54 ERA on June 30. But in July, Logan has been scored upon in all four of his appearances and, if anybody deserved an All-Star break it was Logan.
The hope is that Logan will bounce back in the second half and pitch like he did before June 30. The Yankees need Logan to be good in the seventh inning so the Yankees can use Robertson in the eighth and Soriano in the ninth. Logan will be a big key to the Yankees in the second half, no doubt.
Manager Joe Girardi has been praised, and rightfully so, for his ability to maximize a bullpen. This season he has proven what a skill it is.
The Yankees found a lefty specialist in side-armer Clay Rapada during spring training and Rapada has been excellent as getting left-handers out since the 2012 season began.
Rapada, 31, is holding left-handed hitters to a .150 average this season. Amazingly, Rapada is retiring right-handers also. They are hitting .227 off him. But Girardi has wisely tried to keep Rapada as a specialist as much as he can this season.
The Yankees also got lucky when the Texas Rangers waived 26-year-old side-arming right-hander Cody Eppley early in the season. The Yankees claimed him and sent him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Recalled on April 20, Eppley has provided Girardi with a righty specialist to twin with Rapada.
The results have been very good. Eppley is holding right-handers to a .231 average. Much like Rapada with right-handers, Girardi must keep Eppley away from dangerous left-handed hitters. Overall, Eppley has done an excellent job and he and Rapada have strengthened what already was an excellent bullpen.
That can’t be said of Cory Wade, however.
Wade, 29, was picked up off waivers from the Rays in 2011 – much like Eppley was this season – and he put together a great season. Wade was 6-1 with a 2.04 ERA last season and drew a lot of praise from Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
But 2012 has a been nightmare for Wade.
He compiled an ERA of 1.69 in April and an ERA of 2.92 in May. But in June, Wade hit the skids and he has not recovered.
Beginning on June 16, Wade gave up a home run to Ian Desmond of the Washington Nationals in a game the Yankees won 5-3. Since then, Wade has given up 16 runs in his last 8 innings covering his last seven appearances. Wade’s ERA has ballooned to 6.48 and he has been sent back to Scranton to try and get his groove back.
The Yankees filled out their bullpen just before the break by calling up Triple-A starter D.J. Mitchell to be the long man in the bullpen now that Freddy Garcia is being used as a starter to replace the injured Andy Pettitte.
Mitchell, 25, has a 2.45 ERA in 3 2/3 innings covering three appearances. Mitchell was 5-4 with a 5.36 ERA at Scranton in 14 starts but Mitchell may have more value as a reliever in the majors because he has the best sinking fastball in the organization.
The Yankees would like to use him in situations they might need a double play. But Mitchell is strictly a long man for now.
To replace Wade, the Yankees picked up veteran right-hander Chad Qualls off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Qualls, 33, is 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 3 1/3 innings over three games. That is certainly a step up from what the Yankees have been getting from Wade. We will see if he continue to pitch well in the second half.
Overall, this has been one of the best, if not the best, bullpens in baseball this season despite the loss of Rivera.
Girardi was able to slide Soriano into the closer’s role and he has Robertson and Logan to pitch in setup roles. Plus he can mix and match with the righty-lefty combo of Eppley and Rapada. Wade is the only reliever who has been a major disappointment but Qualls was picked up to fill his role until Wade finds it again or not.
RIVERA: I (for Incomplete)
QUALLS: I (for Incomplete)
MITCHELL: I (for Incomplete)
DAVID PHELPS (1-1, 6.46 as a reliever)
RYOTA IGARASHI (0-0, 22.50 ERA)
David Phelps began the season in the bullpen as the long reliever and he actually pitched much better than his ERA indicates. He was shelled for three runs in back-to-back appearances against the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox in late April.
But Phelps, 25, is more suited as a starter and is thought of that way by the organization. After two starts in place of Freddy Garcia in early May, Phelps was sent back to the bullpen when Pettitte was activated on May 13. He stayed until June 2, when he was shipped to Double-A Trenton to get his arm in shape to become a starter.
However, before the process could be completed Pettitte was placed on the disabled list with a broken tibia in his right leg and CC Sabathia had to be shelved because of a groin injury.
Phelps was recalled and pitched out of the bullpen until he was pressed into a start against the Rays on the Fourth of July. Phelps struck out eight batters and gave up only one run in 4 1/3 innings in his best performance of the season.
Now Phelps has been sent back to Trenton to complete the process of building up his pitch count so he can start. It is unclear when Phelps might return to the Yankees or what role he will assume. My guess is we have seen the last of Phelps as a reliever, barring an injury.
Igarashi was called up to fill a spot in the bullpen on May 25 and pitched poorly in the two games in which he pitched. He was sent back to Scranton and was recalled again on June 8 and he gave one run in his one inning of work against his former Met teammates.
Igarashi, 33, is 1-1 with a 2.63 ERA and three saves at Scranton this season. He is there for depth purposes but the Yankees could do better. Igarashi does not appear to be the answer for the Yankees based on what he has done in three games.
PHELPS : I (for Incomplete)
IGARASHI: I (for Incomplete)
The Yankees have some veteran relievers at Scranton, including Igarashi.
Kevin Whelan 28, is the main closer and is 3-0 with a 3.55 ERA and 12 saves.
Meanwhile, left-hander Juan Cedeno, 28, is 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA and former Red Sox right-hander Manny Delcarmen is 2-4 with a 3.86 ERA.
The most impressive young relievers the Yankees are developing are Preston Claiborne, 24, and Chase Whitley, 23.
Claiborme was just promoted to Scranton after going 2-2 with a 2.22 ERA and saving five games at Trenton.
Whitley is 5-4 with a 4.22 ERA in 27 games in Scranton.
Both are right-handers.
OVERALL POSITION GRADE: B+
There are whispers that Rivera is progressing well in his rehab after surgery on his right knee and that he might be able to pitch this season. That would be bad news to the teams in the A.L. East staring up out of a huge hole in which the Yankees have placed them.
Whether Rivera returns or not the Yankees have an exceptional bullpen that rarely coughs up leads late in the game.
Soriano has 19 saves after 81 games and he has been sensational as Rivera’s stand-in.
There are some concerns before the second half begins.
Both Robertson and Logan need recapture their early-season form. They both have a long enough track records in the majors that they should be able to rebound. Robertson just needs to regain command of the strike zone and Logan just needs rest after absorbing a huge workload in the first half.
Logan leads the American League in appearances and that is an aberration from what Girardi and Rothschild would like from him. But Rivera’s loss impacted Logan the most and he has been forced to pitch a lot of innings and it is catching up to him. Hopefully, the rest over the break rejuvenates his valuable left arm.
The Yankees also have to hope that Wade rediscovers his karma in the minors. Most of the karma he has been exhibiting on the mound these days is bad.
Rapada and Eppley have proved to very valuable specialists and they have been impressive in the first half. They just have to continue to do what they have been doing.
Qualls is a place-holder for Wade and Girardi seems to trust him.
Mitchell can be valuable as a long man but Girardi rarely calls on him. His sinker could have some value in the second half and he is the one reliever that can give Girardi a lot of innings out of the bullpen.
The biggest hope for the second half has nothing to do with any of the pitchers I mentioned.
The Yankees just sent Joba Chamberlain out on a minor-league rehab stint. Because Chamberlain, 26, is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2011 and a severely displaced fractured right ankle, the Yankees were not really expecting much out of the big right-hander.
But if all goes well in his extended rehab stint, Chamberlain could return to the Yankees within a month. That would be a big boost to the Yankees and it should make Logan really smile.
Yankee fans may have forgotten that Chamberlain was 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 games before injuring his elbow last season. If he can get back to that level, Chamberlain could a valuable piece to the bullpen in the sceond half and heading into the playoffs.
The Yankees also had high hopes for former Seattle Mariners closer David Aardsma in the second half. Aardsma, 30, was coming off Tommy John surgery himself last July and was making his final rehab appearances when he suffered a setback and had to be shut down.
Aardsma underwent some tests and is consulting Dr. James Andrews, who performed his surgery, about what his next step will be. But it looks doubtful Aardsma will be able to help the Yankees this season. That is a shame.
But the way the Yankees’ bullpen has been gong this season, they may not need him. The return of Chamberlain, however, could be a real big boost.
YANKEES 5, METS 4
Amid all the chatter about the struggles of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez and talk about the team not hitting with runners in scoring position, Russell Martin was slumping worse than any of the Yankees and it was something he was suffering through silently.
He went to hitting coach Kevin Long and they worked on some adjustments and quietly they have been paying off since May 20. For the Yankees those adjustments looked golden on Sunday but for the Mets they were a source of some painful heartbreak.
Martin blasted a huge two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to draw the Yankees to within a run of the Mets at 3-2. Two innings later, Martin led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off solo home run that gave the Yankees a home Subway Series sweep over the luckless crosstown Mets.
The Mets, who had led the game since the second inning 3-0, surrendered the lead in the bottom of the eighth but managed to tie it in the ninth by putting a run across off closer Rafael Soriano for his first blown save of the season.
So the Mets sent reliever Jon Rauch to the mound in the ninth and Martin managed to battle him into a 3-2 count. Rauch hung a slider and Martin deposited the mistake into the seats in left-field for his second homer of the game and his eighth of the season.
A sellout crowd of 49,010 at Yankee Stadium rose to its feet cheering as Martin headed around third toward a sea of pinstripes waiting at home plate to greet him. But Martin mistimed his leap and stumbled across home plate with the run that nonetheless gave the Yankees a huge leg up on their annual six-game home-and-away series with the rival Mets.
Boone Logan (1-0), who rescued Soriano from a first-and-third with one out jam in the top of the ninth by striking out pinch-hitter Josh Thole looking and retiring Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a hard-hit grounder Robinson Cano saved from rolling into right-field to score the tie-breaking, got credit for the victory.
Rauch (3-6) was saddled with the loss.
The late-inning drama overshadowed a superb effort by Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese, who had shut out the Yankees through 6 2/3 innings only to be hurt by a throwing error by David Wright on a grounder off the bat of Andruw Jones. Three pitches later, Martin was able to shoot a lined shot to the right-field wall over the glove of a leaping Scott Hairston. The ball struck the padding of the top of the wall in right-field and was caught by a fan in the first row for a home run.
So Niese ended the day having given up two runs (neither earned) on seven hits and one walk and he struck out six batters.
Meanwhile, the Mets used a combination of well-placed hits, some questionable umpiring and an error to bat around in the second inning against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte.
Hairston led off the frame with a double to left-field. One out later, Vinny Rottino rolled a ground ball just past Jayson Nix at short to score Hairston to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.
Pettitte then threw a 3-2 pitch to Omar Quintanilla that looked to be over the plate at the knees on the outside corner. However, home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski called it a ball. Then Mike Nickeas rolled a ball up the middle and Cano – in his haste to turn a double play – had the ball carom off his glove for an error that loaded the bases.
No. 9 hitter Jordany Valdespin, who entered play on Sunday hitting .133, then inside-outed a ball just past Teixeira at first to increase the Mets’ lead to 3-0.
Pettitte walked Andres Torres but got out of further trouble by striking out both Jason Bay and Wright swinging.
Pettitte recovered to pitch three scoreless innings but left the game after six innings because of a bruised pitching hand he sustained when he bare-handed a hard-hit one-hopper off the bat of Hairston to open the inning. Pettitte completed the inning but left the game to have some precautionary X-rays.
He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks and he fanned eight.
The Yankees, meanwhile, down 3-2 in the eighth, preyed upon the departure of Niese, the weakness of the Mets’ bullpen and some more shoddy infield play.
Derek Jeter opened the inning against Mets reliever Bobby Parnell with a slow roller to Quintanilla at short. The ball rolled under his glove and into shallow center while Jeter legged it into second base with an infield single and an error. Curtis Granderson followed with a sharp single to right that advanced Jeter to third.
The Mets inexplicably decided not to deploy a shift on the lefty-swinging Teixeira and he made them pay by rolling a ball up the middle to score Jeter with the tying run and Granderson advanced to third.
Rodriguez then gave the Yankees their first lead of the day by blooping a well-placed single into shallow right-field just out of the reach of Valdespin to score Granderson.
However, the lead was short-lived when Lucas Duda greeted Soriano in the ninth with a double over the head of Granderson in center and slumping first baseman Ike Davis followed a double of his own to the wall in right-center.
After Quintanilla grounded into a fielder’s choice in which Nix deftly threw to third to nip a sliding, pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy singled to right and Soriano was replaced with Logan.
Logan’s escape from the one-out jam set the stage for Martin’s heroics in the bottom of the ninth.
The Yankee have now defeated the Mets in 52 of 87 contests in the Subway Series and it gave them their first home sweep of the series since 2003.
The Yankees are now 34-35 on the season and they remain a half-game back of the Rays in second place in the American League East. The Mets dropped to 32-29.
- Martin served notice that his season-long slump is definitely over. Martin was 2-for-4 with the two home runs and three very important RBIs. As of May 20, Martin was hitting .168. Since that time, he is 15-for-47 (.319) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. He has raised his batting average to .216 and .222 is his season high.
- Logan bailed out Soriano and the Yankees with some excellent clutch pitching in the ninth to retire Thole and Niewenhuis with the go-ahead runner at third and one out. Logan has not been scored upon since May 20, which spans 3 1/3 innings in his last eight appearances. He has been scored upon in only four of his 29 games this season and his season ERA is now 2.66.
- Clutch eighth-inning singles by Teixeira and Rodriguez are welcome sights to Yankee fans after watching them largely fail in those situations in the first two months of the season. Rodriguez had an RBI in each of the three weekend games and he has six RBIs this month after driving in only eight runs in May. Teixeira had only 20 RBIs on May 22, since then he has 16 in his last 18 games.
- Nick Swisher wins the “Bonehead Player of the Game” award handily. With two on and no outs in the second inning he took it upon himself to bunt to get the runners over despite the fact the Mets could have chose to walk Jones intentionally to pitch to Martin and Nix to get out of the jam. But he compounded that mistake by bunting the ball right to Niese, who threw Rodriguez out at third by a country mile. Swisher later grounded into a double play after Cano had singled in the seventh. Swisher was 0-for-4 in the game and his season average fell to .247.
- Cano’s error in the second inning really hurt Pettitte and the Yankees. In what could have been at least a force play and at most a double play, the Yankees got nothing and Valdespin followed with his two-run double. A Gold Glove second baseman has to make that play. It was only Cano’s third error of the season but, boy, did it hurt.
- Soriano was 9-for-9 in save opportunities until Sunday. The run he gave up was his first since a May 10 game at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. Soriano, who spent a portion of 2010 on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, blew three saves in five opportunities last season.
X-rays on Pettitte’s left hand showed no damage but the hand was bandaged as a precaution. Pettitte said his hand was bruised and swollen but it would not prevent him from making his next scheduled start in Washington against the Nationals on Saturday. . . . Right-hander Freddy Garcia rejoined the team on Sunday after attending his grandfather’s funeral in Venezuela. He was activated from the bereavement list and reliever Ryota Igarashi was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees will embark on a six-game road trip that starts in Atlanta with a three-game series that opens on Monday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (7-2, 5.09 ERA) will open the series on the hill for the Yankees. Nova limited the Rays to one run on four hits in eight-plus innings in what may have been his best major-league outing. Nova has never faced the Braves.
The Braves will start right-hander Randall Delgado (4-5, 4.26 ERA). In his last start, Delgado gave up one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings against the Marlins. He walked one and set a career high with seven strikeouts. Delgado has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 9, METS 1
With Johan Santana opening the first game of the 2012 Subway Series at Yankee Stadium on Friday, pitching for the first time after throwing his historic franchise first no-hitter, there was a big buzz among the sellout crowd of 48,566 before the game started.
Unfortunately for Santana and the Mets it was the opposing pitcher who ended up commanding centerstage.
Hiroki Kuroda tossed 3 1/3 innings of perfect baseball and 5 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball and ended up shutting out the Mets on just one hit for seven innings while Santana was racked for four Yankee home runs – two by Robinson Cano – as the Yankees downed the Mets in lopsided laugher.
Kuroda (5-6) lost his perfect game in the fourth on a fielding error by Derek Jeter, but he extended his no-hitter into the sixth inning until Omar Quintanilla stroked a 3-2 pitch for two-out double to the left-centerfield wall. If Kuroda had pitched a no-hitter it would have marked the first time in major-league history a pitcher who had thrown a no-hitter in his previous start had his team no-hit by the opposing team in his next start.
Kuroda issued a two-out walk to Lucas Duda in the seventh and then was struck in the left foot by a line-drive off the bat of Daniel Murphy. But, in a night when nothing seemed to go right for the Mets, Alex Rodriguez caught the carom out of the air to retire the side.
Kuroda left the game for precautionary X-rays on his foot, which showed only a contusion and no fracture. But Kuroda’s availability for his next start is in question because he left the stadium on crutches.
While Kuroda was mowing down the Mets, Santana was having trouble with the command of his pitches and he paid dearly for it in both the second and third innings.
With two out in the second inning, Rodriguez drew a walk and Cano followed by smacking a first-pitch fastball into the right-field bleachers for his 10th home run of the season.
A similar scenario played out for Santana in the third – only it got much, much worse.
With two out, Rodriguez singled sharply to left and Cano again blasted the first pitch he saw – this time a hanging slider – which landed in a nanosecond in the second deck in right-field.
To add to Santana’s agony, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones followed Cano with solo home runs and the Yankees had a commanding 6-0 lead with Kuroda keeping the Mets dancing like marionettes.
Kuroda ended up with a season-high seven strikeouts and he threw 52 of his 91 pitches for strikes to give the Yankees their 50th victory over the Mets in the history of the 85-game Subway Series, which dates back to 1997.
Santana, meanwhile, left after five innings having been pounded for six runs on seven hits and one walk and he struck out five batters. It was a far cry from his magical no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals last Saturday.
The Yankees added three runs in the seventh inning off rookie right-hander Elvin Ramirez.
The Mets, on the other hand, broke up the shutout on two walks and an RBI double by Duda off reliever Ryota Igarashi, who was just called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season ledger to 32-25 and they moved ahead of the slumping Baltimore Orioles in second place in the American League East, a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets dropped to 32-27.
- I said this in my recent team analysis and it bears repeating: Kuroda appears to have turned the corner on his season since he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings at home against the Twins on April 18. Since that time, Kuroda is 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA in his last nine starts. Kuroda has been a victim of low run support. Going into Friday’s game he was the worst supported pitcher in the American League this season at just over two runs a game. Mets outfielder Jason Bay summed up Kuroda best after the game when he told reporters: “I faced him a few times when he was with the Dodgers. He’s always been, from what I’ve seen, pretty good. But that was by far the best I’ve ever seen him.”
- Cano’s two home runs are an extension of a recent power surge. He hit only one in April and he had four as of May 18. In his last 15 games, he has hit seven. Cano now has 11 home runs, 29 RBIs and he is batting .293, which is second on the club to Jeter.
- Cano, Swisher and Jones hitting consecutive home runs in the third inning was the first time the Yankees have done that since Aug. 28, 2011 against the Orioles and the same trio hit them and in the same order. But here is an odd stat: When Swisher hit his home run it was only the second time this season the Yankees have hit back-to-back homers.
- Jeter had a night he would like very much to forget. He was on the hook until Quintanilla’s double with his error in the fourth as spoiling a potential perfect game for Kuroda. At the plate, Jeter was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he hit into an inning-ending double play in the sixth with the bases loaded. Jeter has gone hitless in his last 17 at-bats and his average has dropped to .314.
- The Yankees were forced to bring up Igarashi because Freddy Garcia was placed on bereavement list on Thursday due to the passing of his grandfather in Venezuela. Igarashi, 33, was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on May 29. By the looks of him in the ninth inning, he perhaps should go back on waivers. He gave up a run on a hit and two walks and he struck out two. He threw 27 pitches in the inning and looked like he was afraid to throw strikes.
Reliever Joba Chamberlain threw 25 pitches on Friday at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, FL. It was the first time Chamberlain has thrown from a mound since he sustained a dislocated right ankle trampolining with his son on March 22. Chamberlain told reporters he intends to pitch for the Yankees this season. . . . Reliever David Robertson will pitch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday in what likely will be at least two rehab appearances. Robertson, who is on the 15-day disabled with a left oblique strain, could rejoin the Yankees in a-week in Washington. . . . Outfielder Brett Gardner appears on track to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in Atlanta. Gardner has been on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.
The Yankees’ home portion of the Subway Series with the Mets continues on Saturday.
The Yankees will start Phil Hughes (5-5, 4.96 ERA). Hughes is coming off his first nine-inning complete game of his career. He gave one run on just four hits and struck out eight against the Tigers on Sunday. He is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in four games against the Mets.
The Mets will start right-hander Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48 ERA). Gee received a no-decision and gave up two runs on seven hits against the Cardinals on Monday. He is 0-1 with 5.14 ERA against the Yankees lifetime.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast regionally by FOX Sports.