Tagged: Scott Kazmir

Tex Hits Two Homers But Drew’s Blast Downs A’s

GAME 84

YANKEES 5, ATHLETICS 4

Sometimes an insurance run in the late innings is just a meaningless addition to the score. Other times it ends up being the difference between winning and losing.

Stephen Drew’s two-out solo home run in the eighth inning on Wednesday off left-hander Fernando Abad proved to be in the latter category.

Mark Teixeira hit a pair of solo home runs and CC Sabathia pitched into the sixth inning but Drew’s home run proved to be the difference as New York edged Oakland in front of a paid crowd of 41,626 at Yankee Stadium.

Though the Yankees trailed 2-1 heading into the fourth inning, they got a break when left-hander Scott Kazmir was forced to leave the game with tightness in left triceps.

Athletics manager Bob Melvin sent in right-hander Evan Scribner and Teixeira greeted him by blasting a 1-2 high and outside fastball deep into the bleachers in right-center for his 21st home run of the season to tie the game at 2-2.

The Yankees were able to take the lead for good in the same inning when Chris Young drew a walk and John Ryan Murphy singled to left-center. After Young stole third and Murphy was able to advance to second on a wild pitch, Jose Pirela launched a one-out sacrifice fly to right to score Young.

The Yankees added to their lead in the sixth inning when Teixeira led off with almost a carbon-copy drive into right-center on a 2-2 high outside fastball from Scribner for his 22nd home run of the season. It also was his second two-homer game of the season.

Drew, who entered the game in the seventh inning as a defensive replacement at second base for Pirela, then added his 12th home run of the season in the eighth to give the Yankees a nice 5-2 cushion heading into the ninth.

But closer Andrew Miller, who was just activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day after not pitching since June 9, show some rustiness in the ninth inning.

Mark Canha stroked a one-out single and Marcus Semien followed with a two-run homer into the left-field bleachers to bring the A’s to within a run.

After Stephen Vogt reached second on a two-base throwing error by third baseman Gregorio Petit, Miller retired Ben Zobrist on a groundout to Petit in which Teixeira had to make a long stretch that barely nipped Zobrist.

Sabathia (4-8) did have a rough second inning in which he was touched for five hits. Josh Phegley and Canha hit back-to-back one-out RBI singles to score Oakland’s only two runs until the ninth inning.

Sabathia was charged with two runs on seven hits and two walks with one strikeout in 5 1/3 innings for his first victory since June 7 against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium.

The bullpen trio of right-hander Bryan Mitchell, Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances held the Athletics hitless and scoreless for 2 2/3 innings before turning the game over to Miller in the ninth.

Despite Miller’s struggles in his first game back, he still was credited with his 18th save in 18 opportunities this season.

Scribner (2-2) took the loss after yielding three runs on four hits and one walk with three strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings. He leads all relievers in homers allowed this season with 11.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 45-38 and they remain two games ahead of the second-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The Athletics dropped to 39-48.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira’s potential American League Comeback Player of the Year run continues. His 22 home runs matches his total from all of last season and he still leads the league in RBIs with 61. In addition, Teixeira made several sparkling plays in the field. His selection to the American League All-Star team was well deserved. His is one of the main reasons the Yankees are in first place in the division.
  • Give Drew some credit for a nine-pitch at-bat against Abad with two-out in the eighth. His 12th home run of the season proved to be the decisive run in the game. Drew may be hitting an anemic .179, but his 12 home runs and his steady infield defense have somewhat up for it.
  • Betances was victimized on Tuesday by a 10th inning home run by Brett Lawrie that lost the game for the Yankees. But he got back on the horse in the eighth on Wednesday and looked very sharp. He struck out Billy Butler and Lawrie and retired pinch-hitter Josh Reddick on an outstanding fielding play by Teixeira.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

There was not to much to complain about on this night. Sabathia was unable to get through six innings and Miller did look shaky in the ninth. But you have to give Miller a mulligan on this one. The Yankees are in first place and Teixeira is leading them.

BOMBER BANTER

In addition to Miller, 30, the Yankees also activated center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury from the disabled list on Wednesday. Ellsbury, 31, started the game and was 1-for-4 with an infield single. He had been on the disabled list since May 20 with a strained ligament in his right knee. To make room for Miller and Ellsbury, the team optioned right-hander Nick Rumbelow and outfielder Ramon Flores to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Rumbelow, 23, was 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA in four appearances. Flores, 23, was hitting .219 with no homers and no RBIs in 32 at-bats.  . . .  Third baseman Chase Headley was held out of the game on Wednesday with inflammation in his right calf. Headley is listed as day-to-day. Petit started in Headley’s place and was 0-for-4.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance to claim the rubber game of the three-game series against the A’s on Thursday.

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (4-3, 3.94 ERA) will start of the Yankees. Tanaka pitched much better in a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. He yielded three runs on six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in six innings.

The Athletics will counter with right-hander Jesse Chavez (4-8, 3.20 ERA). Chavez lost to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday after giving up four runs on nine hits with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Mission Possible: Mr. Phelps Holds A’s At Bay

GAME 66

YANKEES 7, ATHLETICS 0

In his previous four starts, David Phelps was 0-4 with a 6.57 ERA and he was shelled for 13 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts. Despite facing the first-place team in the American League West and their ace, Phelps on Friday posted one of the best starts of his career.

Phelps pitched 6 2/3 innings of two-hit baseball and the Yankees were able to get three runs on the board in the first two innings against Sonny Gray as New York broke a seven-game road losing streak against Oakland in front of a sellout crowd of 36,067 at O.co Coliseum.

Phelps (2-4) set the tone early by retiring the first 10 batters he faced until he walked John Jaso in the fourth inning. He only allowed a one-out bloop single to Derek Norris in the fifth inning and a two-out double to Jed Lowrie in the seventh before being replaced by Dellin Betances.

Phelps ended up walking three batters and striking out four in his 6 2/3 innings of work.

He got all the support he really needed in the first inning when the Yankees jumped on Gray (6-3) for three consecutive singles by Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ellsbury’s single not only extended his major-league-leading hitting streak to 17 games, it also drove in Gardner with the game’s first run. Mark Teixeira followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center to score Jeter.

In the second inning, Brian Roberts reached first on an infield single, Kelly Johnson drew a walk and Gardner slapped an opposite-field single to left to score Roberts.

Jeter then singled to load the bases but Gray escaped further trouble by getting Ellsbury on a fielder’s choice in which Johnson was cut down at home plate and Teixeira flew out to left.

Ellsbury and Teixeira began a run of 13 consecutive batters Gray was able to retire until Ichiro Suzuki reached on an infield single with two out in the sixth. The final five outs Gray recorded were on swinging strikeouts.

But Gray was charged with loss after yielding three runs on seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings.

The Yankees were able to turn the game into a rout by scoring four runs in the eighth inning off veteran left-hander Jeff Francis  –  all of them scoring with two outs.

After Teixeira and Brian McCann hit back-to-back one-out singles, Suzuki, Roberts and Johnson all stroked two-out RBI singles. On Roberts’ single Suzuki was able to score from first when the throw from right-fielder Brandon Moss caromed off Norris’ glove at the plate for an error on Norris.

Betances retired all four batters he faced, two of them by strikeout. Fellow rookie right-hander Jose Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth to allow the Yankees to claim their fourth straight victory.

The Yankees improved their season record to 35-30 and they are in second place in the American League East, 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The A’s fell to 40-27.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Phelps had been a major disappointment as a replacement starter when Michael Pineda was placed on the disabled list and his past two starts were dreadful. But on Friday he was very good despite the fact he walked three and threw 45 balls among his 102 pitches. Phelps used his cutter and his slider to keep the A’s hitters off balance. His only “stress” inning came in the fifth when he walked Lowrie and gave up the bloop single to Norris. But he got out of the inning by getting Andy Parrino to fly out and he struck out Kyle Blanks.
  • Ellsbury continues to roll along on his hitting streak. He was 1-for-4 with a walk and he drove in a run on Friday. He is now 25-for-67 (.373) during the streak with two home runs an 12 RBIs. Ellsbury is now hitting .290 with four home runs and 30 RBIs and he leads the team in stolen bases with 18. He has been the Yankees’ most consistent player on offense and, if you add his excellent defense, he has been the team’s best all-around player.
  • Jeter returned for the last time to the field where he made his iconic “flip play” in the American League Division Series in 2001 and he celebrated it by going 2-for-4 with a run scored. Jeter is red hot at the plate in his past four games. He is 9-for-18 (.500) with two RBIs and five runs scored in that span. That has raised the 39-year-old team captain’s season average to .275.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

In their past four games the starters have yielded only five runs in 29 innings for an ERA of 1.55 and the team has scored 20 runs. The defense has also been exceptional. The Yankees need to start piling up victories if they want to be contenders and they doing just that.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees signed veteran right-hander Heath Bell to a minor-league contract and he was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre. Bell, 36, compiled a 1-1 mark with a 7.27 ERA in 13 games with the Tampa Bay Rays this season. After being released by the Rays, Bell signed with the Baltimore Orioles. However, he opted out of his minor-league deal with them after posting a 4.22 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. Bell has recorded 168 saves in 590 games with the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, the then-Florida Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Rays.   . . .  Pineda, 25, has not resumed throwing and manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Friday that the right-hander likely will not return until August. Pineda is on the 60-day disabled list with strain of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder. He had to be scratched from a June 1 start in an intrasquad game after feeling soreness in the shoulder muscle.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game weekend series with the A’s on Saturday.

Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (4-4, 4.12 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Kuroda held the Kansas City Royals to two runs in seven innings on Sunday but ended up taking the loss because the Yankees offense snoozed to the tune of going 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Left-hander Scott Kazmir (7-2, 2.20 ERA) will pitch for the Athletics. Kazmir threw seven shutout innings to defeat the Orioles on Sunday. He beat both Kuroda and the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 3, giving up two runs and striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings.

Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Tex Guns Down Tribe With Another Big Home Run

GAME 58

YANKEES 4, INDIANS 3

Yankee fans were very worried that when Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup on May 31 that he would get off to the same slow starts he always did in April. Well, after hitting a grand slam home run on Monday, Teixeira added a three-run shot on Tuesday.

So much for that slow-start theory.

Teixeira connected on a 3-1 change-up off left-hander Scott Kazmir with one out in the third inning to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead and David Phelps pitched six innings of one-hit shutout baseball to lead New York to another victory over Cleveland in front of a paid crowd crowd of 36,208 at Yankee Stadium.

Teixeira’s second home run in as many nights followed a leadoff double by Lyle Overbay, an RBI single by Ichiro Suzuki and a single by Jayson Nix off Kazmir (3-3). Teixeira laced a line-drive just inside the foul pole in left to give him two home runs and seven RBIs against the Indians in the first two games of the series.

Meanwhile, Phelps (4-3) redeemed himself for his previous start against the New York Mets on May 30 in which he was tagged for five runs (four earned) on four hits and two walks in only one-third of an inning in what was easily the worst effort of his major-league career.

Phelps only allowed a hustle infield single to Drew Stubbs with one out in the third inning. Phelps walked four and struck out seven in an 102-pitch outing before giving way to right-hander Joba Chamberlain in the seventh.

The Indians were able to rally against Chamberlain, who issued a leadoff walk to Carlos Santana before he retired the next two batters. Mike Aviles then stroked a single to center and Stubbs clubbed a home run to right that just cleared the wall into the bleachers.

Left-hander Boone Logan then came on to strike out Michael Bourn swinging to end the inning.

The Indians did manage to put the first two batters on in the eighth against right-hander David Robertson. Jason Kipnis drew a leadoff walk and Michael Brantley dumped an opposite-field single to left.

But Robertson induced former Yankee Nick Swisher to line into a double play and Santana grounded out weakly to end the Indians’ threat.

Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth, striking out the first two batters, to record his 21st save in 22 opportunities this season.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 33-25 and they remain tied with the Baltimore Orioles for second place in the American League East, 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. The Indians fell to 30-28.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • After going 1-for-9 in his first three games back from the disabled list, Teixeira is 3-for-6 with a walk and two home runs and seven RBIs in his two games against the Indians. The Yankees were hoping that Teixeira’s return would add a legitimate power threat to the middle of the order and he has done just that. Teixeira also has hit homers on both sides of the plate. His grand slam on Monday came while he was batting left-handed. His three-run shot on Tuesday came batting right-handed.
  • Phelps may have walked too many batters and he got mired in some deep counts that forced him to leave after six innings. But he was absolutely determined not to give an inch to the Indians’ batters. Phelps was a hard-luck 1-0 loser to right-hander Justin Masterson and the Indians on May 13. If you discount his awful outing against the Mets on May 30, Phelps is 4-2 with a 2.77 ERA in his other six starts this season.
  • Suzuki, who batted leadoff and started in center-field in place of Brett Gardner, extended his hitting streak in the past games in which he has started to 10 with a 1-for-3 night. Suzuki has had at least one hit in each of 10 starts since May 25 and is 13-for-35 (.371) in that span. That has raised his season average from .238 on May 25 to .262.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Though the return of Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis on May 31 should be helping Robinson Cano. It pretty much has had the opposite effect. Cano was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and he hit into an inning-ending double play in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. In the past five games with Teixeira and Youkilis available to play, Cano is 2-for-17 (.118) without either an extra-base hit or an RBI.
  • Vernon Wells has been pretty much useless to the Yankees dating all the way back to May 15. He was 0-for-4 on Tuesday with a strikeout and he is 7-for-61 (.115) with no home runs, 1 RBI and 12 strikeouts since May 15. Wells, 34, is not getting the high fastballs he was smashing earlier in the season and he is being fooled by breaking pitches out of the strike zone.
  • Chamberlain was roughed up for the first time since he came off the disabled list on May 28. It was a bit curious why manager Joe Girardi had rookie Preston Claiborne warming in the sixth but elected to use Chamberlain for a second consecutive night instead to start the seventh inning. Claiborne deserves to be used in the seventh and it would allow Chamberlain to get some rest between outings.

BOMBER BANTER

Many of the Indians were angry over the balls and strikes calls of home-plate umpire Tony Randazzo throughout the game and it culminated with the ejection of Aviles after he made the final out against Rivera. Aviles was angered by a strike-one call that he thought was low. After he flew out he followed Randazzo toward the third-base dugout and was ejected. Indians manager Terry Francona also had some harsh words for Randazzo but was not ejected.  . . .  Chris Stewart returned to the starting lineup after missing two games with dizziness. Stewart was 1-for-1 with a walk and he also threw out Brantley at second base as part of a “strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out” double play in the fourth inning. Stewart has nailed seven of 14 potential base-stealers this season. Of course, Stewart did pull a base-running blunder in the third inning when he rounded second base too far and got thrown out in a rundown.  . . .  Suzuki’s RBI single in the third inning was the 2,654th hit of his major-league career, which ties with him Ted Williams for 72nd place on the all-time hits list.  . . .  Eduardo Nunez sustained another setback in his bid to return from a left oblique strain, which landed him of the 15-day disabled list on May 12. Nunez was unable to swing a bat without experiencing pain and his return will be delayed further.

ON DECK

The Yankees will go for a sweep of their three-game home series against Cleveland on Wednesday.

Left-hander CC Sabathia (5-4, 3.71 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia is coming off what was his best start of the season on Friday, a one-run, 10-strikeout performance over 7 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. Sabathia is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA against his former team.

Sabathia will be opposed by right-hander Corey Kluber (3-3, 4.36 ERA). Kluber struck out three and walked one but had his outing against the Tampa Bay Rays cut to just two innings because of rain. He has no record and 1.80 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Teixeira, Gardner Lead Yankee Uprising Over Tribe

GAME 57

YANKEES 7, INDIANS 4

Though Andy Pettitte’s return from the disabled list on Monday was not exactly what he would have had in mind the New York Yankees got just what they were looking for from Mark Teixeira in his recent return to the lineup.

Teixeira cranked out a grand slam home run off Justin Masterson in the third inning and Brett Gardner added a two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning that broke a 4-4 tie as New York finally got its offense out of neutral to defeat Cleveland in front of a paid crowd of 40,007 at Yankee Stadium.

Teixeira’s home run, his first of the season, came after the Yankees loaded the bases on back-to-back singles by Reid Brignac and Austin Romine and a four-pitch walk of Gardner. After Robinson Cano hit into a force out of Brignac at home, Teixeira slapped a lined shot into the first row of the right-field bleachers to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead.

However, Pettitte found it difficult to hold the lead in the fifth inning. The 40-year-old left-hander, who had not started in 18 days due to a strain in his left trapezius muscle, gave up a lined double to Drew Stubbs and an infield single to Michael Bourn.

Mike Aviles scored Stubbs on a sacrifice fly to shallow center that Cano caught off balance and was unable to get a sliding Stubbs on his throw to home plate. Pettitte then gave up consecutive four-pitch walks to Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds before Carlos Santana drove in two runs to tie it at 4-4 on hard-hit ball that ricocheted off the glove of third baseman David Adams and bounded into the stands for a ground-rule double.

That ended Pettitte’s night. He yielded four runs on seven hits and three walks while he fanned three batters over 83 pitches in 4 1/3 innings.

But the Yankees bailed out Pettitte by rallying the sixth inning off Masterson (8-4), who had defeated the Yankees on a 1-0 complete-game shutout on May 13.

Ichiro Suzuki led off the frame with a walk and he took second on a groundout off the bat of Adams. After Brignac struck out, Romine bounced a hard-hit grounder off Masterson’s right bicep for an infield single.

After Romine stole second, Gardner delivered a lined single up the middle to score Suzuki easily but Masterson probably cost himself a run by cutting off the throw to the plate by Bourn that likely would have beat Romine.

The Yankees finally chased Masterson in the seventh inning when Travis Hafner, who is mired a horrible batting slump like most of the Yankees, cranked out a one-out solo home run into the bleachers deep in right-center for his ninth home run of the season.

Masterson was charged with seven runs on nine hits and three walks while he struck out five in 6 1/3 innings.

Meanwhile, the Yankees relied on their bullpen to close out the game.

Shawn Kelley (3-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory.

Mariano Rivera, the last of the Yankees’ four relievers they employed in the game, pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 20th save in 21 chances this season.

The victory for the Yankees halted a spell in which the Yankees had lost seven of their previous eight games. The Yankees are 32-25 on the season and they, along with the Baltimore Orioles, gained a half-game on the idle first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Both teams are 2 1/2 games back in second place. The Indians are 30-27.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira’s home run was a welcome site for manager Joe Girardi and the fans, who have seen this team struggle to score runs over the past two weeks. It was only the second hit of the season for the 33-year-old first baseman but it was a big one. Teixeira, who rarely shows much emotion on the field, actually pumped his right fist when he realized the ball had reached the seats.
  • The bullpen of Kelley, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Rivera shut down the Indians over the final 4 1/3 innings on one hit and two walks while they struck out five. Despite the fact the bullpen blew two 1-0 leads late to the New York Mets at Citi Field a week ago, the bullpen remains the strength of this team.
  • Give Romine credit. Pressed into service because Chris Stewart is recovering from dizzy spells due to severe dehydration, Romine was 2-for-3 plus a sacrifice bunt and he scored two runs. He was .100 entering Sunday but in his past two starts he is 3-for-4 to raise his season average to .154.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Pettitte looked rusty after 18 days of inactivity and it caught up to him with two outs in the fifth inning. The Yankees did not send Pettitte out for a rehab start and they limited his side sessions in the belief that it was too much work for the veteran left-hander. Pettitte was sharp early in the game so perhaps he just needs to regain some stamina to pitch longer into games.
  • The Yankees opted to keep Adams on the roster and he failed to reward them in this game for their decision. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he misplayed two balls in the game that could have been caught but were not scored as errors. Adams was hitting .324 on May 24 but is 5-for-31 (.161) since then and his average has dropped to .242.

BOMBER BANTER

When the Yankees activated Pettitte on Monday they opted to send outfielder Brennan Boesch back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and they started veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay in right-field. It was Overbay’s first major-league start in the outfield. He was 1-for-3 with a single and a walk at the plate and he fielded his position flawlessly before leaving the game in the eighth inning when Suzuki was shifted from left to right and Vernon Wells was inserted in left.  . . .  Stewart was available to play after missing two games due to dizziness. But after having tests at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital that were negative, Stewart said he is ready to play and is suffering no ill effects.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game home set with the Indians on Tuesday.

Right-hander David Phelps (3-3, 4.65 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Phelps, 26, is coming off the worst outing of his career. He was tagged for five runs in just one-third of an inning against the Mets last Wednesday. Phelps was the loser in the 1-0 game Masterson won on May 13 in his only appearance against the Tribe.

Veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir (3-2, 5.13 ERA) will start for Cleveland. Kazmir is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his past two starts. In 16 starts (17 games) against the Yankees, Kazmir is 7-6 with a 3.34 ERA.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Hafner’s Four RBIs Ruin Ex-Indian Mates’ Opener

GAME 7

YANKEES 11, INDIANS 6

For 10 seasons Travis Hafner played for the Cleveland Indians and  –  when he was healthy  –  he drew loud cheers with his prodigious power and consistent run production. But the Indians elected to cast him aside last winter and the New York Yankees decided to give him a chance to recapture some of his old magic at age 35.

On Monday, Hafner returned to where he still makes his home and he had a big hand in spoiling the Indians’ home opener.

Hafner went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs and an ice-cold Robinson Cano rediscovered his stroke for a double and pair of solo home runs as New York laid a heavy war club all over Cleveland in front of a sellout crowd of 41,567 at Progressive Field.

During the pregame introduction of the players Hafner, nicknamed “Pronk,” drew a nice ovation from his former home fans. But those cheers quickly turned into stunned silence with one out in the first inning when Hafner launched a 2-0 fastball off starter Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1) over 400 feet clearing the wall in centerfield for a three-run home run.

Hiroki Kuroda (1-1), making his second start and admittedly not 100 percent after getting nicked on his right middle finger by a line drive off the bat of Shane Victorino of the Boston Red Sox last Wednesday, struggled through a 33-pitch first inning that yielded three runs to the Tribe on three hits and two walks to knot the game back up.

But Hafner provided the Yankees with a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the day in the third. Cano slapped an opposite-field double to lead off the inning and one out later Hafner delivered an RBI single to center to score Cano.

Kuroda, though not at his best, was still able to settle in to keep the Indians scoreless until he left the game in the sixth inning. Kuroda ended up surrendering just the three runs on five hits and four walks while he struck out six batters.

The Yankee offense, meanwhile, was able to continue to tack on runs against Jimenez.

Cano, who entered the game hitting .130, led off the fifth inning with a home run to left-center. One out later, Hafner drew a walk and Jimenez was removed from the game in favor of right-hander Matt Albers.

After Vernon Wells singled to right and Hafner was able to thunder into third, Ichiro Suzuki scored him with a bloop single to right.

Jimenez was charged with seven runs on seven hits and three walks and he fanned four in 4 1/3 innings.

With two out an inning later, Cano blasted the first offering he saw from Albers into the right-field seats for his second home of the game and the his second of the season. The rout was pretty much on after that.

The Yankees added three more runs in the seventh off veteran left-hander Rich Hill to increase the margin to 11-3. The team that supposedly was so decimated with injuries to their best hitters ended the game with 13 hits and the Yankees have scored 18 runs on 26 hits in their past two games.

With the victory the Yankees improved their early-season record to 3-4. The Indians fell to the same record.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Hafner entered the game hitting .350 and he ended up 2-for-3 with two walks, three runs scored and four RBIs. Hafner is now batting .391 for the Yankees with two home runs and six RBIs. For those Yankees fans who believed that the Yankees were dead offensively without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson may want to  rethink that position.
  • Cano busted out of his six-game funk in a big way. He was 3-for-4 with a double, two home runs, four runs scored and two RBIs. The good news for Yankee fans is that Cano started hitting the ball the opposite way instead of trying to pull everything and making easy outs.
  • Wells, 34, is another reclamation project that is paying big dividends for the Yankees. Wells entered the game hitting .294 and went 3-for-4 with a walk, a run scored and a stolen base. Wells is now hitting .381 with two home runs and four RBIs. All of Wells three hits on Monday were hit to the opposite field. In 2012 Wells posted the worst statistical average of any player hitting to the opposite field.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Granted, Kuroda was not sharp as his four walks would indicate. But you have to give the 38-year-old right-hander some credit for pushing through a difficult start with command issues as a result of his bruised middle finger on his pitching hand. After the first inning, Kuroda only gave up two hits until he was removed with one out in the sixth inning.
  • Shawn Kelley is trying manager Joe Girardi’s patience. He entered the game with two out in the seventh inning and held a 11-3 lead when he started the eighth. He ended up giving up a double, a two-run home run to Mike Aviles and a triple and allowed a third run to score on a wild pitch. In 5 1/3 innings of work over four appearances, Kelley has coughed up six runs on seven hits and three walks. He also has been tagged for three homers.
  • Joba Chamberlain is also walking a fine line. He entered the ninth inning sporting a 21.60 ERA and ended up walking two batters and needing 29 pitches to get out of the ninth unscored upon. However, Girardi had Mariano Rivera get up to warm up in the bullpen and Girardi was not pleased.

BOMBER BANTER

After missing two starts at shortstop, Eduardo Nunez returned to the starting lineup and he was 0-for-4 but he did drive in a run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly. Nunez has been sidelined with a bruised right biceps after he was struck by a pitch by Tigers right-hander Doug Fister on Friday.  . . .  While the Indians and their fans saw Hafner wearing Nick Swisher’s old No. 33 for the Yankees on Monday, Swisher was wearing No. 33 for the Indians in his first meeting against the Yankee team he played for the past four seasons. Swisher played first base and batted fourth for the Tribe and he was 1-for-3 with two walks and a run scored.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their midweek four-game series with the Indians on Tuesday.

Left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.13 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Pettitte was in vintage form in his first start of the season, limiting the Red Sox to one run on eight hits over eight innings last Thursday. Pettitte is 5-4 with a 3.87 ERA in the past 10 seasons against the Indians.

He will be opposed by right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who is making his first start of the season replacing injured left-hander Scott Kazmir. Carrasco is 10-15 with a 4.93 ERA in 33 career major-league starts. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA against the Yankees.

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

 

Girardi’s Indecision Allows Morales To Strike Again

GAME 18
ANGELS 8, YANKEES 4

Manager Joe Girardi thinks to walk switch-hitter Kendry Morales, then he thinks to bring in right-hander David Robertson for Damaso Marte and then he thinks to let Marte throw a 3-0 pitch to Morales with the game on line.
The result was not pretty.
Morales blasted a two-out three-run home run to give the Los Angeles Angels a 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
It was Morales’ second game-winning home run of the series. In the three weekend games against the Yankees, he was 7-for-10 with two home runs and six RBIs.
Scott Kazmir (2-1) pitched 5 1/3 shaky innings but still was credited the victory. Javier Vazquez (1-3), who has the distinction of losing half the Yankees’ games this himself, pitched horribly again and was the loser.
The Yankees’ record dropped to 12-6 and they fell 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East standings. The Angels evened their season record to 10-10.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • It is hard to win a game with only three hits, but two of the Yankees’ hitters came to play on Sunday: Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.
  • Cano blasted a solo home run in to the right field stands of Kazmir in the fifth inning to make the score 5-4. Cano now has five home runs and 14 RBIs on the season, both of which lead the team.
  • Posada came up in the second inning after Cano had been hit by a pitch and drilled and two-run home run that gave the Yankees an early 2-0 lead on Kazmir. Posada has four home runs and 11 RBIs on the season.
  • Derek Jeter drove in the third run in the second inning by beating out a attempted double play that scored Marcus Thames from third base. Thames had the only other hit in the game for the Yankees with his double off Kazmir after Posada’s home run.
  • Left-hander Boone Logan and right-hander Alfredo Aceves did their job by shutting down the Angels after they had scored five runs off Vazquez. Combined the pair pitched to nine batters and gave up only one hit. That hit was a single by — you guessed it — Morales.
THE NEGATIVES

  • This loss is squarely on the shoulders of Girardi and his indecision in the seventh inning. This is very similar to the loss in Game 3 of the A.L. Championship Series to the Angels. In that game, Girardi replaced a perfectly dominant David Robertson in bottom of the 11th inning to have Aceves pitch to Howie Kendrick and Jeff Mathis. Both Kendrick and Mathis doubled and the Yankees lost the game 5-4.
  • Vazquez is actually very close to becoming the Yankees’ next version of Ed Whitson, who came to the Yankees in 1985 after a 14-8 record and a 3.24 with San Diego Padres. Whitson was 10-8 with a 4.88 ERA that season and was booed so heavily in 1986 he was sent to the bullpen with an ERA of 7.54. An angry fan actually followed Whitson home after one bad outing and Whitson was quickly traded back to San Diego at midseason.
  • In his three losses, Vazquez has given up 17 runs on 19 hits and eight walks in 14 2/3 innings. That is an ERA of 10.43 and a WHIP of 1.84. 
  • Marte entered the game with a perfect ERA but it was immediately apparent that Marte entered the game without any control. He walked left-hand hitter Bobby Abreu on fi
    ve pitches and hit right-hand hitter Torii Hunter with his second pitch, which lit the fuse in the seventh inning. After forcing Abreu at third an a Matsui slow roller, I was sure that Girardi would have Marte walk Morales so Robertson could come in to pitch to Juan Rivera, who was 2-for-9 in the series and batting 90 points lower than Morales. But I was wrong.
DIAMOND NOTES

Girardi said after the game: “I screwed up, in a sense. I could have done it (walked Morales). Your first instinct is sometimes your best.”  . . .  Bobby Abreu owes Javier Vazquez a nice Christmas card every year. His home run in the third inning was his 10th home run off Vazquez in just 72 at-bats.  . . .  Yankees DH Nick Johnson was not in the lineup on Sunday but said his lower back stiffness was getting better. Johnson said he hopes to play Tuesday when the Yankees open a series with the Orioles in Baltimore.  . . .  The loss on Sunday broke the Yankees’ series winning streak at five. If they had won they would have set a franchise record.  . . .  The loss also means the Yankees have now lost three of their last four games.  . . .  The Yankees stopped to visit the White House on Monday to meet with President Barack Obama. The president honored the Yankees for their 27th world championship in a ceremony in the East Room. He said, “This is a team that goes down to spring training every year expecting to win it all — and more often than not, you guys get pretty close. Of course, if I had [Mariano] Rivera, I’d get pretty close too.” Obama is a devoted fan of his hometown Chicago White Sox. The Yankees presented him with pinstriped No. 27 jersey signed by the team and he posed with the team holding the championship trophy.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees move to their last series in a long 11-day road trip by opening a series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Phil Hughes (2-0, 2.19 ERA) will start for the Yankees. In his last start on April 21, he no-hit the Oakland A’s for seven innings before settling for a 3-1 victory. He is 2-2 with a 6.82 ERA against the Orioles in his career.
The 3-16 Orioles will counter with their ace, Kevin Millwood (0-3, 3.38 ERA). Millwood gave up four runs on six hits and three walks in a loss to the Mariners on April 21. In nine career starts against the Yankees Millwood is 2-4 with a 4.86 ERA.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast locally by the MY9.

Cano Marks Robinson Celebration With Pair Of Jacks

GAME 9
YANKEES 6, ANGELS 2

In the pre-game ceremony honoring the 63rd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color line in baseball, Robinson Cano — who was named after the icon — handed a bouquet of flowers to Robinson’s widow, Rachel.
After the game, Rachel Robinson should have handed the bouquet back to Cano.
Cano continued his one-man destruction of American League pitching this season with two home runs and three RBIs to lead the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night.
Phil Hughes (1-0), making his first start of the season, pitched into the sixth inning and earned the victory. Hughes gave up two runs on three hits and five walks and struck out six batters. Mariano Rivera, who is the only player in Major League Baseball who wears Robinson’s No. 42, came in to retire one batter to notch his fourth save of the season. 
Scott Kazmir (0-1), who also was making his first start of the season, surrendered six runs on eight hits and three walks in five-plus innings to the loss.
The Yankees won the three-game series with the Angels 2-1 and ran their season record to 6-3. The Angels dropped to 3-7 on the young season.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Cano’s two hits give him six multi-hit games in the nine games in which he has played and he has hit safely in all nine games. Cano is batting .395 with four home runs and nine RBIs. Cano hit a solo home run in the second inning and added a two-run shot in the fifth that chased Kazmir from the game.
  • Derek Jeter, who entered the game hitting .111 in his career off Kazmir, hit a solo home run to lead of the third inning and added a RBI double in the third. Jeter is hitting .333 on the season.
  • Hughes was very good early until the Angels collectively decided to run up his pitch count starting in the third inning. Hughes threw only 28 pitches in the first two innings, striking out four and only giving up a solo home run to Hideki Matsui in the second inning. The rest of way Hughes threw 79 pitches. He gave up only two more hits but he walked five.
  • Curtis Granderson stroked two triples in the game, drove in a run and threw out Matsui at the plate with a perfect throw in the fourth inning.
  • Marcus Thames, getting a start at DH with the left-hander Kazmir pitching, was 2-for-3 with a double and single and scored a run.
  • Joba Chamberlain entered the game in the seventh inning with runners on first and third and one out. He then retired Howie Kendrick on a double play he started to end the threat.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Mark Teixeira did walk three times but he also struck out twice. His batting average dipped to .091.
  • Randy Winn replaced Brett Gardner in left field in his first start of the season. He grounded out three times and struck out and is hitless on the season.
  • David Robertson pitched better than he did his last time he faced the Angels, striking out three of the six batters he faced. However, he uncorked a wild pitch with two runners on and allowed one of them to score on a Kendrick groundout.
  • Damaso Marte gave up singles to Hunter and Matsui to begin the eighth inning, giving the Angels hope when they were trailing 6-2.
  • Chamberlain also faltered in the ninth when he walked Mike Napoli to begin the inning and then gave up a single to Erick Aybar with two outs. If Chamberlain had gotten Aybar out he would have picked up his first save since September 2007. 
  • In defense of Chamberlain, Jeter should have made the play on Aybar’s grounder but it snuck under his glove for a single.
DIAMOND NOTES

The two teams combined to give up 15 hits and 13 walks in the game. There were 29 batters who reached three-ball counts in the game. Kazmir ran up 3-2 counts to five of the 23 batters he faced. Angel relievers ran 3-2 counts on six more batters. So control and attacking the strike zone would not be words with which I would describe the game.  . . .  Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner made it clear that Jeter, Rivera and manager Joe Girardi are not going anywhere. Though the team’s policy is to not negotiate extensions, Steinbrenner told reporters that he would like all three — whose contracts expire at the end of season — to stay with the Yankees.  . . .  The game was telecast nationally by the MLB Network with Bob Costas and former YES Network analyst Jim Kaat behind the microphones. If Yankee Stadium is The Cathedral, listening to Costas do a Yankees’ game is like hearing the pope address the masses. He was magnificent as always and reminded us of the years we missed him when NBC lost the contract to telecast baseball.  . . .  Costas perfectly cast the batting struggles of Teixiera in April by relating the words of T.S. Eliot from his 1922 poem “The Waste Land”:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding  
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing  
Memory and desire, stirring  
Dull roots with spring rain.

THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will play host to the Texas Rangers at the stadium on Friday night. The Yankees will send CC Sabathia (1-0, 3.46 ERA) to the mound for the first time after his flirtation with a no-hitter against the Rays on Saturday. Sabathia is 7-3 with a 4.50 ERA against the Rangers in his career. But this will be his first start against them as a Yankee.
The Rangers will start left-hander C.J. Wilson (0-0, 0.00 ERA), who was pushed back from his start on Wednesday due to food poisoning. Wilson has a 3.24 ERA against the Yankees in 17 appearances, but all of them have been in relief.
Game-time is 7:05 p.m. EDT and the YES Network will broadcast the game locally.

CC’s Dominance Puts Yankees On Brink Of World Series

ALCS GAME 4
YANKEES 10, ANGELS 1


When your getting ripped in the New York newspapers and on sports talk radio shows, Yankees manager Joe Girardi is finding lots of comfort in writing CC Sabathia’s name on his lineup card.
Sabathia (2-0) quelled all the dustup over Girardi’s supposed mismanaging of Game 3 by throwing eight dominant innings at the befuddled Los Angeles Angels as the Yankees won Game 4 of the American League Championship Series 10-1 on Tuesday night.
The victory puts the Yankees up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series and also leaves them within one victory of making the team’s 40th trip to the World Series in franchise history.
For the naysayers who did not think Sabathia should pitch Game 4 on three days rest, the 6-foot-7 lefthander actually pitched just as well as he did in Game 1. In his eight innings of work, Sabathia gave up five hits and two walks and struck out five batters.
“I never had any doubt about me being able to perform on this stage and to pitch well late into October,” Sabathia said to MLB.com. “But it seems like people did. I feel great. You know, hopefully, I can keep it going.”
Sabathia’s only blemish came on a letter-high fastball Kendry Morales muscled for a solo home run to left-center with one out in the fifth inning that drew the Angels to 5-1. That was as close as the Halos would get to Sabathia the rest of the night.
After giving up the home run to Morales, Sabathia gave up back-to back singles to Mike Napoli and Erick Aybar. But Sabathia got Chone Figgins to bounce into a fielder’s choice and Bobby Abreu flew out harmlessly to center to end the inning.
Figgins and Abreu are now a combined 4-for-32 in the ALCS, a .125 average.
Sabathia also wriggled out of a jam in the sixth after he walked Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter singled to open the inning. Sabathia, as he always has this season, remained calm and induced Juan Rivera to hit into a double play and Howie Kendrick lined out to Mark Teixeira.
In Sabathia’s other six innings of work, he only gave up an infield single to Rivera in the second inning and walked Abreu in the first. He threw only 59 pitches in those six innings to retire 18 batters.
In Sabathia’s two starts in the ALCS, he has now pitched 16 innings, given up two runs on nine hits and three and struck out 12 batters. His is 3-0 with a 1.09 in the 2009 postseason.
“He really doesn’t change,” catcher Jorge Posada said. “When he’s down, when he’s up, he’s always the same. He just goes out there and does his job, and that’s all you can ask for. He really doesn’t change at all.”

“He was spectacular again,” Girardi said to MLB.com. “To be able to shut this club down like he did, again, is no easy feat. This is a very dangerous lineup. We had some chances early, and CC kept getting outs for us. We finally broke through and got a couple of runs, and we kept tacking on.”
Meanwhile, the Yankee offense had former Tampa Bay Rays lefthander Scott Kazmir battling with his command and had him on the ropes early before breaking finally through on him in the fourth inning.
The Yankees 2009 version of Mr. October, Alex Rodriguez, started the fourth with a line single to center. Posada followed with a double. 
After one out, Robinson Cano hit a ground ball to Kendrick at second base. Kendrick elected to try to cut off the run at the plate but threw high to Napoli at home, which allowed Rodriguez to slide under Napoli to score the game’s first run.
After Nick Swisher drew a walk, Melky Cabrera ended the Yankees’ recent spate of not hitting with runners in scoring position (totaling 26 at-bats) as he delivered a line single to left that scored Posada and Cano. Swisher moved to third.
“I feel really good, because it was bases loaded and I got a big hit for the team,” Cabrera said.
“We’ve had some frustration with runners in scoring position so far in this series,” Girardi said to MLB.com. “But tonight, we were excellent in those situations from the fourth inning on.”
Kazmir then walked Derek Jeter to load the bases again and then the inning took a very odd turn, courtesy of third base umpire Tim McClelland. Johnny Damon sent a fly ball to centerfield that Hunter settled under and caught.
Swisher raced home ahead of Hunter’s throw with the what would have been the Yankees’ fourth run of the inning but the Angels appealed that Swisher left third base too soon. McClelland surprisingly called Swisher out and the inning was over.
Television replays revealed two things about the play: No. 1, McClelland was looking at Hunter and not Swisher’s feet as the play unfolded. More importantly, No. 2, Swisher did not leave the base before Hunter caught the ball. McClelland’s magical ability to look two places at once and imagine Swisher left too soon cost the Yankees a run.
But McClelland, the longest serving umpire in the major leagues, really topped himself in the following inning.
Before the second McClelland drama unfolded, Mark Teixeira led off the fifth with a single for only his second hit of the series and it broke an 0-for-13 slide. The hit also brought an end to the festivities for Kazmir.
He was replaced by Jason Bulger, who promptly gave up a two-run home to Rodriguez on his second delivery. The 375-foot blast to left for Rodriguez was the third homer and his fourth and fifth RBIs of the series. In the ALCS, Rodriguez is 6-for-16 (.375).
“I will say that in other postseasons I failed, and sometimes failed miserably,” Rodriguez said. “It certainly feels good to come through for my team and help the team win.”

“When I grow up, I want to be like Alex Rodriguez,” Nick Swisher said to MLB.com. “I’ll tell you what, man. I don’t know how it feels, but it’s got to feel like it’s a beach ball coming in.”
Rodriguez now has five home runs in the 2009 postseason, which ties him with Reggie Jackson for second o
n the all-time postseason home run list. Rodriguez only trails Bernie Williams, who hit six home runs in the 1996 postseason.
“He’s been as clutch as anybody could have hoped for on their side,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s a heck of a player. He’s playing his game right now. We’re obviously going to have to do a little better job of making some pitches on him.”
Kazmir, who was acquired by the Angels largely due to his ability to pitch well against the Boston Red Sox and the Yankees, ended up going 4-plus innings, gave up six hits and four walks and four earned runs.
Bulger, after serving up the Rodriguez home run, than gave up a walk to Posada and, as a result, was handed a trip to the showers with Kazmir courtesy of Scioscia.
Darren Oliver came on to restore order but, thanks to McClelland, there was anything but order. After Hideki Matsui struck out, Robinson Cano doubled in deep centerfield and Posada, who had stolen second base, should have scored before Hunter got to the ball. 
However, Posada chose instead to tag up at second base and had to hold at third.
Then the confusion ensued. 
Nick Swisher hit a weak grounder back to Oliver and Oliver threw home to make a play on Posada. Napoli, who had Posada halfway between third and home, ran Posada back towards third base.
Posada was tagged by Napoli as he pulled up at third. Cano, who was unsure of where to go stopped a foot off the bag at third. Napoli tagged him also. The Angels believed they had a double play and the inning was over.
But McClelland said no. He called Posada out but allowed Cano to have third base. Most of the 45,160 bleacher umpires in attendance at Angel Stadium booed McClelland unmercifully for his error in judgment.
It may have been a botched call but since Oliver got Cabrera to bounce into a fielder’s choice to end the inning, McClelland’s bonehead mistake did not cost the Angels a run as it had the Yankees an inning before.
Angels fans still booed McClelland after the inning ended.
But, like a gallon of water to a thirsty Bedoin camel herder, McClelland was let off the hook by some late-inning thunder from the bats of the Yankees. 
Johnny Damon added to the Sabathia four-run cushion in the eighth with a two-run home run off reliever Matt Palmer. 
Palmer became the pitcher who keeps on giving in the ninth, when Rodriguez doubled and scored on a Posada flyout after Abreu’s throw to cut him down at third bounced into the Angels’ dugout, allowing Rodriguez to trot home. 
After two were out, Palmer walked Cano and Brett Gardner followed with a bloop single to center. Cabrera followed with a ringing double to plate Cano and Gardner to cap the scoring and make McClelland’s erroneous calls irrelevant.
Cabrera ended the night 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs.
Now the 2009 Yankees stand within one game of returning to their first World Series since 2003, when they lost to the Florida Marlins in six games. The Angels have a huge hole to climb to prevent that from happening.
Since the ALCS was changed to a best-of-seven format in 1985, 12 of the 16 teams who have held a 3-1 lead have advanced to the World Series.
“You just want to keep going and keep playing well,” Sabathia said to MLB.com. “We’ve been playing good all playoffs. We’ve been having good pitching, playing good defense. You know, we just need to close it out. It’s that time.”
Fellow free agent signee A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA) will get the call from the Yankees to close out the Angels on Thursday afternoon in Anaheim, CA. Though veteran righthander has two no decisions in the postseason, he is sporting an ERA of 2.19 in his two starts.
Angels Game 1 starter John Lackey (11-8, 3.83 ERA) will pitch for the Angels. Lackey is 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA in the postseason but lost Game 1 to Sabathia and the Yankees 4-1, largely due to mental and physical errors on the part of his his teammates on defense.
Gametime is 4:57 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by FOX.

Command Woes, Bloops And Errors Cost CC Dearly

RAYS 6, YANKEES 2


ST. PETERSBURG, FL — You could tell in the second inning that CC Sabathia did not have “command” of his fastball and it would be a long night for the Yankees.
It all unfolded just that way as the Tampa Bay Rays used Sabathia’s poor trajectory, the Yankees’ sloppy defense and the Rays’ entire yearly quota of bloop hits that came in one night to defeat the Bronx Bombers 6-2 at a Yankee-dominated Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.
The Rays tagged — or a better term would tweaked — Sabathia for 10 hits but only an Evan Longoria solo home run in the fifth inning was hit hard. Most of the rest of the hits sounded if the Rays struck the ball with a wet newspaper.
But they found holes, or dropped just out of fielders’ reach or the Yankees fielded them and decided to airmail some tosses to first base to test just how good Mark Teixeira is. The end result was the Yankees maintained the 2 1/2 game lead in the American League East race.
The Boston Red Sox and closer Jonathan Papelbon, given a golden opportunity to take advantage of what the Rays provided them, choked and surrendered a three-run lead on Oakland in the ninth inning and lost to the Athletics 9-8 in 11 innings.
The only team to benefit was the Rays, who were teetering close to edge of division race irrelevancy at 7 1/2 games out in third place coming in. The victory brought them a game closer at 6 1/2. But their chances are running out and a lot is riding on Wednesday’s night rubber match.
The second inning started as you would think it might have when Murphy’s Law is working the Yankees dugout. Ben Zobrist hit a ball to deep short and Derek Jeter threw the ball over Teixeira’s head to put Zobrist at second. Sabathia walked Pat Burrell, who entered the game hitting .226. 
Sabathia fanned Carlos Pena and then inexplicably walked .244-hitting Gabe Kapler to load the bases. The left-hander tried to wiggle off the hook but .223-hitting catcher lofted a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist with the game’s first run.
“It was horrible,” Sabathia said. “This team is too good for me to not even give us a chance. This is definitely frustrating. We’ve been playing well, but you want to continue to play well. These are games in our division that we need to win.”
It was not much better in the third inning. It started with a bloop (what else) single to right by B.J. Upton. Carl Crawford then tripled Upton home. Longoria then rolled a ball to Alex Rodriguez at third and Rodriguez threw the ball high and down the right-field line as Crawford scored and Longoria trotted into second.
Sabathia escaped further damage by overpowering Burrell and .217-hitting Carlos Pena.
After Longoria’s home run in the fifth made it 4-1, Sabathia was pinged to death in the sixth and, again, was the victim of some shoddy defense. Kapler opened the inning with a double and moved to third on a groundout.
Jason Bartlett then followed a pop-up that just eluded Teixeira’s glove and Bartlett was just able to beat Teixeira to the bag for a 90-foot RBI single to score Kapler. Upton followed with a pop fly that hung just inside the right-field line and it bounded off the glove of Nick Swisher for a hometown scoring gift double and a RBI and it was 6-1 and Sabathia’s night of torture was over.
“That’s just part of the game,” Sabathia said. “I’m going to have those games, and that’s when I need to step it up and get outs.”
Sabathia (10-7) lasted just 5 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits, two walks and six runs (five earned. 
“I’ve been getting away with a lot of things, but today was one of those bad nights where I got into bad counts and got behind, and it hurt,” Sabathia said.

In the meantime, the Rays got the pitching performance of the season from former ace Scott Kazmir. Kazmir (5-6) has had nothing but struggles this season with injuries, command, high pitch counts and an even higher ERA. He entered the game with an ERA of 6.69.
Instead he pitched over his head in going 7-plus innings and he gave up four hits and one run. He walked one and struck out four in his longest outing of the season. He had been winless in his previous seven starts.
“He was very good — we give him a lot of credit,” Teixeira said. “He can throw his fastball hard, locating it, and mixed in his offspeed pitches when he had to.”
Sabathia, meanwhile, is tied for the team lead with A.J. Burnett for wins and he has a 3.83 ERA. But the Yankees are 11-11 in his starts this season. He also is a combined 0-2 with a 6.10 ERA against the Red Sox and Rays.
“We could have won a lot of the games that he’s pitched, but we haven’t,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s matched up against guys that have thrown very well against us. But he’s throwing the ball good for us and that’s my concern.”

The Yankees will try to win the series Wednesday night with Joba Chamberlain (6-2, 3.86 ERA) coming off his two performances of the season. On July 19, Chamberlain gave up just one run in 6 2/3 innings in defeating the Tigers 2-1 in New York. He followed that by giving up just two hits and one run in seven innings in beating the Athletics on July 25.
Chamberlain had a no-decision against the Rays on June 7. He allowed three runs on five hits in over six innings in a Yankees 4-3 victory.
The Rays will pin their flagging hopes on Matt Garza (7-7, 3.68 ERA). In his last start Garza alloweed two runs in nine innings as the Rays bested Roy Halladay on Friday night. He is 1-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven career appearances against the Yankees.
Gametime is 7:05 p.m. EDT.