YANKEES 7, BLUE JAYS 6
Mariano Rivera not only reached a personal milestone for himself by recording his 601st save, he rescued a Yankee team that was just happy to get out of Rogers Centre in Toronto with a victory.
Rivera managed to tie Trevor Hoffman for the all-time saves lead and the Yankees got a pair of huge home runs from a returning Alex Rodriguez and a slumping Curtis Granderson to overcome a 6-1 deficit and rebound to beat the Blue Jays on Saturday.
The victory by the Yankees, combined with the 4-3 defeat of the Boston Red Sox by the Tampa Bay Rays, has reduced the team’s magic number to clinch a payoff spot to four and their magic number to clinch the American League East is now eight.
As the early innings unfolded, it looked as if starter Bartolo Colon and the Yankees were going to get crushed by the Blue Jays. Colon was tagged for four runs in the second inning, keyed by RBI doubles by Colby Rasmus and Jose Molina.
The Blue Jays added two more runs and chased Colon in the fourth on a two-run double of the right-field wall by Mike McCoy.
Colon gave up six runs on seven hits and a walk and struck out three in four innings.
Meanwhile, the Yankees could not get a rally going against 21-year-old Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez.
They did have a promising comeback going in the fourth inning when Granderson opened the frame with a walk and Mark Teixeira doubled to the gap in left-center to advance Granderson to third. Granderson then scored when Robinson Cano lofted a sacrifice fly to left-field, which was dropped for an error by Adam Loewen. Teixiera advanced to third and Cano reached second.
Then the Yankees, who have had all sorts of problems scoring runs on this road trip, short-circuited the rally with a colossal base-running blunder.
Nick Swisher smacked a drive into center that was caught by Rasmus. For some reason, Cano ran around third base and passed Teixeira as he was tagging up to score what would have the second run of the inning. Cano was declared out and the Blue Jays escaped the the threat only giving up the one run.
But the Yankees long-slumbering bats awoke in a big way in the sixth. Granderson, who entered the game hitting .176 for the month, blasted a ground-rule double to right. Teixeira followed with a single to center in which Rasmus bobbled to allow Granderson to score and Teixeira to reach second.
Cano was then hit in the right hip with a pitch to put two runners on with no outs.
Rodriguez, who had missed the team’s previous eight games resting a sore left thumb, rocketed a first-pitch fastball into the left-field bleachers for a three-run home run that brought the Yankees to within a single run. For Rodriguez it was his 16th home run of the season and his first using a unique ring on his bat to protect the thumb and a new batting grip separating his top hand from his left thumb.
Alvarez was removed after the sixth inning having given up five runs on nine hits and a one walk and he struck out one batter.
The Yankees bullpen, who have been victimized four times in four different cities by walkoff losses, took over and shut down the Blue Jays for the rest of the game. Scott Proctor, Aaron Laffey, Hector Noesi, Rafael Soriano and Rivera each pitched a scoreless inning. Combined they gave up no hits and one walk and fanned six batters to hold the Blue Jays at bay long enough for the Yankees offense to grab the lead.
They did that in the seventh inning when Derek Jeter led off against right-handed reliever Carlos Villanueva with an infield single to deep short. Granderson then battled Villanueva into an extended 2-2 count in which he fouled off seven straight pitches. On the Villanueva’s 12th offering, Granderson punched a fastball over the center-field wall for his 40th home run and gave the Yankees their first lead of the game.
Laffey (3-2) was credited with the victory. Villanueva (6-4) took the loss. Rivera posted his 42nd save of the season in 47 chances.
The Yankees’ season ledger is at 91-59 and they now lead the Red Flops, uh, Sox, by 4 1/2 games with just 12 games left to play. The Blue Jays are 76-75 and are 15 1/2 games out of first in fourth place in the A.L. East.
- Granderson had a perfect afternoon at the plate. He was 3-for-3 with a bunt single, a double, a home run and he drew two walks. Despite his recent struggles at the plate this month, Granderson is two home runs behind the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista (42) in the major leagues in home runs. His two RBIs drew him into a tie with the Phillies’ Ryan Howard for the major-league lead at 113. He leads Ian Kinsler of Texas for major-league lead in runs scored 131 to 112. So if Granderson can make a big push over the last 12 games, he could still advance his MVP credentials.
- Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a single, a home run, a run scored and two RBIs in his first game back. The thumb was not an issue and Rodriguez said his surgically repaired knee is not hurting him. Obviously, he felt comfortable at the plate. Rodriguez batted fifth for the first time since the 2006 season and it is unclear whether manager Joe Girardi will keep him that spot for the rest of the season and the playoffs.
- Teixeira also entered Saturday’s game in a slump. He was 6-for-35 (.171) in his last nine games. But he showed signs of life with a 2-for-5 game with a single and a double. Barring an extremely hot finish to the season, Teixeira will easily set a season-low batting mark this season. He is hitting just .246.
- Colon is becoming hard to figure out. On July 30, he was 8-6 with a 3.82 ERA. He is winless in his last eight starts and yet his ERA is just a tick lower at 3.81. He also has been good one start and not so good in the next. If the Yankees are to progress in the postseason the Yankees need more consistent pitching from Colon.
- Cano is easily the most gifted hitter and all-around player on the team. However, along with it comes some pretty bad rockhead plays. Twice on this current road trip, Cano has made serious base-running blunders that have cost the Yankees dearly. This one on Saturday was incredibly stupid. Even if he mistakenly thought the ball was in for a hit, he should have looked to see where Teixeira was on the bases before he ran past him. If the Yankees play this way in the playoffs they can forget winning their 28th world championship.
- During this road trip the Yankees have also been hitting into a lot of double plays. Besides the Cano mistake that was scored as a double play, the Yankees hit into two double plays in the first two innings. One by Teixeira and another by Swisher. It is easy to understand that they are not deliberately hitting into double plays but they are killing the offense when they are not careful on hitting over the ball instead of getting under the ball. It has to stop.
Phil Hughes felt back spasms after he completed his bullpen session on Friday and he will not pitch on Monday as scheduled. A.J. Burnett will pitch against the Minnesota Twins on that day instead. Girardi said the spasms were minor and Hughes likely will pitch against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday or in one of the doubleheader games scheduled for Wednesday.
The Yankees will look to win the three-game series against the Blue Jays on Sunday.
The Yankees will start 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.71 ERA). Garcia was not sharp in his last start on Sept. 11 against the Angels. He gave up five runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings of a no-decision game in which the Yankees rallied to win 6-5. He is 7-7 with a 6.10 ERA in the lat 10 seasons against the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays will start right-hander Brandon Morrow (9-11, 5.23 ERA). Morrow allowed seven runs on seven hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings against Boston. Morrow has allowed five or more runs in four of his last five starts. He is 3-2 with a 4.66 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be at 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 9, MARINERS 3
It takes courage to overthrow a tyrant king who has been so oppressive for the the last three years. But the Yankees did just that on Monday night in Seattle.
“King Felix” Hernandez of the Mariners entered Monday’s game with a 5-0 record and a 1.29 ERA in his last six starts against the Yankees going back to 2009. But Hernandez left the mound having given up six runs in six innings as New York took Seattle to the woodshed and whipped them thoroughly in front of a crowd of 22,029 at Safeco Field.
The key to knocking down the walls to Felix’s kingdom came off a five-run, five-hit fourth inning started by a leadoff home run off the bat of Mark Teixeira, who now has five career home runs off the 2010 American League Cy Young award winner.
Robinson Cano doubled to right and Nick Swisher, back in the lineup after missing three games with elbow inflammation, singled to left. Eric Chavez scored Cano with a sacrifice fly and Brett Gardner scored Swisher with a opposite-field double to left.
Chris Dickerson, making a rare start in rightfield, then delivered the blow that crushed the Mariners and their revered king with a two-run home run to the bleachers in rightfield.
Herenandez (14-12) gave up six runs on nine hits in six innings and he did fan four batters.
The Yankees went three and out in the first two innings off their Seattle nemesis before Gardner singled to lead off the third inning and Dickerson followed with a bouncing single into right that advanced Gardner to third.
One out later, Dickerson stole second and Derek Jeter grounded out to allow Gardner to score the game’s first run.
“Prince Phillip” Hughes of the Yankees was touched for a run in the bottom of the third because of some mistakes of his own. He issued a one-out walk to Brendan Ryan. Later Hughes fell asleep and allowed Ryan an early break on a steal of second base.
One out later, Hughes left an 0-2 pitch over the middle of the plate to Ichiro Suzuki and Suzuki singled to center to score Ryan.
However, despite the mistakes and an elevated pitch count, Hughes (5-5) was able to shut down the Mariners. He gave up only the one run on five hits and three walks and struck out three over six innings to pick up his first victory since Aug. 19 in Minnesota against the Twins.
The Yankees added three runs in the seventh off rookie reliever Dan Cortes, keyed by an 10-pitch at-bat from Cano that culminated in a one-out, bases-clearing double in which Cano tied his career high of 109 RBIs he set last season.
The Mariners added a pair of runs off reliever Scott Proctor in the eighth on a two-run home run by Miguel Olivo. However, by the time Olivo hit the home run, the Mariners’ king was long since removed from his throne.
The victory gives the Yankees a modest two-game winning streak and improves their season record to 89-57. It also increases their lead in the American League East to four games over the Boston Red Sox, who suddenly have much bigger problems looming to their rear.
The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 on Monday and they are now within three games of the Red Sox in the wild-card standings. While the Red Sox are 2-8 over their last 10 games and they have lost five in a row, the Rays are 8-2 in their last 10 games and they have won five in a row.
Could the Red Flops, uh, Sox, be choking on their clam “chowdah?”
- Give manager Joe Girardi a lot of credit for starting Dickerson in right. Swisher was able to play but Girardi elected to start him at first and use Teixeira as the designated hitter. Instead of using the right-hand-hitting Andruw Jones in right, Girardi opted for the left-handed Dickerson and Dickerson was 2-for-4 with a single, a home run and a stolen base. He also made a nice running catch on a drive off the bat of Ryan in the fifth inning.
- Cano followed a two-hit game on Sunday with a thrre-hit game on Monday. He was 3-for-5 with two doubles, a single, a run scored and three RBIs. After driving in four runs against the Orioles on Sept. 5, Cano was 2-for-19 (.105) with six strikeouts until he broke out of it on Monday.
- Hughes was not great and he was not awful either. He was just good enough to allow the Yankees offense to get to Hernandez and he held the lead until his pitch count reached 99 after six innings. Hughes had trouble with command of his curveball but he was able to keep the Mariners off balance with his cutter and by spotting his fastball.
- Chavez was the only Yankee starter not have a hit among the 14 hits the Yankees accumulated. But, Chavez did have a sac fly in the five-run fifth off Hernandez so everyone did contribute to the offense on Monday. Even slumping Curtis Granderson collected two hits in his last two at-bats.
Well, let’s see: The Yankees won, they beat King Felix and they now lead a large sinking ship in Boston Harbor by four games. Complaining about anything tonight would be silly.
Austin Romine made his first major-league start at catcher on Monday and he collected his first major-league hit off Cortes to lead off the Yankees’ three-run seventh inning. He singled to right and later scored on Cano’s double. Girardi said that he hopes to have Russell Martin back behind the plate on Tuesday. Martin left Saturday’s game against the Angels with a bruised right thumb. Jesus Montero, who made his first major-league start at catcher on Sunday, will likely return to the lineup as the DH. . . . Though Swisher started at first base on Monday he likely will not be able to play rightfield for a few more days because of inflammation in his left elbow. . . . Francisco Cervelli received a negative result on his MRI but Girardi said he will not rejoin the club for the rest of the road trip this week. Cervelli is suffering from concussion symptoms after a home-plate collision with Nick Markakis of the Orioles on Thursday. Meanwhile Alex Rodriguez is still unable to swing a bat because of his sore left thumb. Rodriguez could return in the Seattle series but Girardi is not going to start Rodriguez until he is sure he is 100 percent.
The Yankees will continue their three-game series with the Mariners on Tuesday.
A.J. Burnett (9-11, 5.27 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Burnett is coming off a subpar outing against the Orioles in which he gave up four runs in six innings. He is 2-2 with a 3.80 ERA in his career against the Mariners.
The Mariners will counter with left-hander Charlie Furbush (2-5, 5.87 ERA). Furbush shut out the Angels over seven innings in his last start but lost steam in the eighth and was beaten 3-1. He is 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA at Safeco Field. He has never faced the Yankees.
Game-time will be 10:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
- Jorge Posada blasted his first home run of the spring in the second inning off Braves starter Tommy Hanson. Posada got a ball into a gusting wind blowing to right-field and the ball carried out of the stadium.
- Alex Rodriguez tied the game up in the sixth with a fielder’s choice grounder that scored Andruw Jones from third.
- Rafael Soriano threw one perfect inning and punctuated the outing by fanning two of the three batters he faced.
- Minor-league outfielder Austin Krum made a fantastic diving catch in center-field in the sixth inning on a ball off the bat of Ed Lucas with one out and Jason Heyward at second base. The effort saved a run and Krum received a rousing ovation from the 10,957 fans in attendance.
- Phil Hughes started his third game of the spring and the wind played havoc with his outing because he is a flyball pitcher. Hughes gave up seven hits and a walk in four innings but he did limit the damage to just two runs. One came on a wind-aided home run to right by Jordan Schafer.
- Do not read too much into the five hits and four runs the Braves scored off Garrison. The 24-year-old left-hander was not hit hard. Most of the hits rolled through the infield because they were perfectly placed. The Braves could not have thrown those balls into better spots. It was just a frustrating day for Garrison, who made good pitches and got burned.
- While the Braves had no problem catching balls of the bat of the Yankees, the Yankees had trouble doing the same with the Braves. The Yankees managed only six hits all day off the Braves. This comes a day after they managed just four hits off the Phillies.
s is the only complex in Florida that has a separate line for fans without bags so you do not have to wait for bag and purse searches to get into the park. Disney employees also cheerfully hand out the days’ starting lineups with a free scorebook page with the batters’ up-to-date spring statistics. Employees also hand out napkins to fans at the condiment stations. They also boast a sixth-inning beer special by sending out vendors selling old-time brands like Miller and Old Milwaukee in 16-ounce cans for $3 apiece. Steinbrenner Field, not that it is in lacking as a first-class facility, should take a page from the Disney customer service playbook. . . . Our old friend Melky Cabrera started for the Braves in right-field and had a double and infield single in the game. He began the day hitting .263 this spring. . . . Girardi actually won an argument with umpires in the fifth inning. Troy Glaus, who had a lead-off double in the fourth inning off Sabatha, took Sabathia back to the wall in left-centerfield that was called a home run by second-base umpire Chad Fairchild. However, the ball actually landed on the top of the padding of the wall and Granderson caught it as it bounded back into play. So the umpires conferred and ruled it a double instead.