Tagged: Steve Donohue

Yanks Barely Hang On To Edge Angels To End Skid

Enough is enough is enough
I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no
enough is enough is enough

                                                        –  “No More Tears” (Enough Is Enough) by Donna Summer

GAME 69

YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5

With the injuries and the losses seemingly about to bring this proud franchise to its knees the wounded, the wavering and the willing among the New York Yankees summoned just enough strength on Sunday to claim a victory to end their long and miserable West Coast road swing.

CC Sabathia held the Angels scoreless for eight innings, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells proved they do can do more than make outs with runners in scoring position and Mariano Rivera inched to the very edge of the precipice of blowing a save before striking out Albert Pujols with the bases loaded and two outs as New York escaped with a victory over Los Angeles.

In the grand scheme of things in a 162-game schedule this game may not mean a whole lot. But in the moment, both for manager Joe Girardi and his battered and beleaguered ball club,  this one at Angel Stadium was a very special victory.

Sabathia (7-5) served notice early that he was not going to lose without a fight by dazzling the potent Angels with eight innings of pure brilliance, allowing them four miserable little singles and two walks while he struck out six. He even used two double plays to wriggle out of any potential danger the Angels wanted to throw his way.

Even when Mike Trout laced a lined single off the 6-foot-7 left-hander with two out in the sixth inning, Sabathia waved off Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue as if to say “I am going to win this game no matter how much I hurt.”

Meanwhile, the Yankees started off against right-hander Jered Weaver (1-3) as if it was going to be another one of those days where they flood the bases with runners all day and only to have their efforts to score dashed by weak popups or strikeouts.

Brett Gardner opened the game with a double and Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk. Both then advanced a base when Weaver’s attempted pickoff of Gardner eluded Erick Aybar for an error.

But the Yankees struggling 3-4-5 hitters ended the threat when Robinson Cano struck out, Hafner walked and Wells hit into a double play.

But the Yankees somehow put it all together in the third inning.

Chris Stewart walked, Gardner singled to advance Stewart to third and then Gardner swiped second base to set up yet another threat with runners at second and third and no outs.

Forgive the cynical Yankees fans for not being surprised when Suzuki struck out and Cano popped up to shallow left, leaving both Stewart and Gardner where they were.

But on a 1-2 count, Hafner stroked what might have been the biggest home run the Yankees have delivered since Aaron Boone’s solo shot off Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in 2003.

Hafner lit into a high breaking pitch and sent into the bleachers in left-center for what was only his third hit and his first home run since he hit his 10th on June 5 against his former Cleveland Indians. Further forgive the cynical Yankee fans for not believing what they they just witnessed.

But the inning continued when Wells singled and Lyle Overbay, pressed back into the lineup at first base in the absence of an injured Mark Teixeira, drove him home with a double off the wall in center. Jayson Nix then capped the rally with a lined single to left to score Overbay.

The Yankees had a 5-0 lead. Smelling salts and ammonia must have been used in great quantities all across the tri-state area for the team’s disbelieving fans.

The Yankees added a seemingly meaningless run at the time in the eighth inning off right-hander Jerome Williams when Cano led off with a double, moved to third on a Hafner groundout and scored on a deep fly ball off the bat of Wells.

But this is the 2013 Yankees, after all. So nothing is ever going to be that easy for them, right?

So fast-forward to the ninth with a determined Sabathia on the mound trying to close out his second complete-game victory of the season and a shutout of the Angels at that.

But Peter Bourjos singled and Trout doubled within just eight pitches and Sabathia left in favor of right-handed setup man David Robertson. Surely, this game would end soon or would it?

But Pujols lined a single so hard off Robertson’s back that it caromed all the way to Suzuki in right-field to score Bourjos and end Sabathia’s shutout.

After Robertson got the hot-hitting Yankee-killer Howie Kendrick to strike out swinging, he walked pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to load the bases.

Exit Robertson and enter Rivera looking for his 24th save in 25 chances in what would be his last appearance at the “Big A.”

Rivera seemingly restored order by retiring Aybar on a bounce-out to Overbay at first that scored Trout but left two out.

However, neither the “baseball gods’ or the Halos were quite through toying with the fragile psyche of the Yankees  –  not to mention their fans who just cleared their heads from the salts and ammonia from the five-run outburst in the third inning.

In quick succession, Alberto Callaspo floated a single into right to score two runs, pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe plopped a bloop single to left to put two runners on with two out and Bourjos followed with a feather-soft looper to left to score Callaspo.

Yep, the Angels managed three hits off the great Rivera but none of them could have broken a pane of glass and they came off the bat as if the ball were struck with wet newspapers.

Trout then got Girardi and the Yankees reaching for the Rolaids when he drew a walk to load the bases. The paid crowd of 41,204 did not know if they were witnessing a cruel close to Rivera’s career in Anaheim and a proud team about to commit “collective baseball suicide” by blowing a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

That left Rivera to face the Angels legendary Pujols.

It was as if Rivera had said to himself, “Enough fooling around.” There was no mystery in what pitch Pujols would be getting and he got three of them.

First, a 94-mile-per-hour cutter for a called strike. Then a 94-mph cutter Pujols could only foul off. Then as the crowd stood, the runners took their leads and Girardi and his team swallowed their hearts, Rivera delivered his final 94-mph missive plate-ward and Pujols swung hard for horsehide and only came up with California air for strike three.

As Stewart raced out to congratulate Rivera, the 43-year-old future Hall of Fame closer did not smile. He knew it was a victory but he would have to admit it was more of an escape.

But this Yankee team will take it.

Despite the fact they had lost five games in a row. Despite the fact they had lost 13 of their previous 20 games. Despite the fact the lineup looks like the Yankees are playing a split-squad game in Dundin, FL, in March, the Yankees are still 38-31 on the season.

They are in third place in the American League East behind the first-place Boston Red Sox and the second-place Baltimore Orioles. But they are a mere two games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.

The Angels are in even worse shape. They are 30-39 and are 11 games out in fourth place in the A.L. West.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • It was nice to see Sabathia basically take the team on his back and carry them to victory despite what happened in the ninth. The team ace is supposed to stop the bleeding and that is exactly what Sabathia did on Sunday. If the Yankees could ask anything more of the 32-year-old left-hander it would be for him to string together about four or five more just like them.
  • Hafner’s home run was a big hit for him just as much as it was for the Yankees. Hafner, 36, began May hitting .318 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. But he hit just .179 in May and was hitting an anemic .111 in June. His demise may not be over but the Yankees still need him to provide power and production in the middle of the lineup. He is now hitting .221 and he is lot better hitter than that.
  • The unsung hero of this team has been Nix. All Nix did on Sunday was deliver three of the Yankees’ nine hits, he drove in a run with a two-out hit and he started a nifty 5-4 double play off the bat of Aybar in the fifth inning that erased a situation of two runners on with no outs. Nix is hitting .259 with a homer and 19 RBIs. But his numbers don’t tell the whole story of how he gets clutch hits, is solid in the field and he plays the game wisely.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I do not care that the Yankees’ three best pitchers (Sabathia, Robertson and Rivera) nearly blew a lead in the ninth and that Reid Brignac was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play to lower his season average to .182. This win was needed and it erases a lot of very bad play on this road trip.

BOMBER BANTER

There was some good news and some and potential bad news about Teixeira’s sore right wrist. An MRI taken in New York indicated only inflammation and no tear in the sheath that he sustained in March. Teixeira was given a cortisone injection and he will be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff in New York on Tuesday. There is a good possibility that Teixeira will have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list but Girardi is happy to know he does not need season-ending surgery on the wrist at this time. Teixeira was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game when he complained about soreness in the wrist. Overbay will play first base until Teixiera returns to the lineup.

ON DECK

The Yankees will lick their wounds, literally, with a day off on Monday before opening a two-game series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Hughes has been up and down all season and his start on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics was a downer. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings and he gave up three runs on four hits and five walks. Hughes has never faced the Dodgers.

Hughes will be opposed by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2, 2.85 ERA). Ryu was roughed up against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, yielding three runs on 11 hits in six innings. Ryu has never faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.

 

 

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Pettitte, Wells Star As Yanks Spin KC Masterpiece

GAME 35

YANKEES 3, ROYALS 2

A pitcher losing command of one of his best pitches is like a skilled surgeon trying to work without a scalpel. But that is what happened to Andy Pettitte in his two previous starts. He did not have a feel for his signature cutter.

But he certainly rediscovered it on Saturday as he pitched seven strong innings and struck out seven batters while Vernon Wells backed him up with a two-run home run in the fifth inning that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead as New York edged Kansas City in front of 30,910 fans at Kauffman Stadium.

Pettitte (4-2) settled into a groove after allowing Billy Butler to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fourth inning with a leadoff home run to center-field. After that Pettitte gave up a two-out single to Alcides Escobar and walked Lorenzo Cain in the fifth. But he ended that threat by retiring Alex Gordon on a groundout.

The 40-year-old left-hander gave up two runs on five hits and walk and retired 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced to pick up his first victory since April 19.

Meanwhile, the Yankees took advantage of a big mistake by James Shields (2-3) to take control of the game.

Shields hit Chris Stewart on the left triceps on a 1-2 pitch as Stewart led off the fifth. Two batters later, Wells ripped a 3-1 fastball into the left-field seats for his eighth home run of the season that gave the Yankees a lead they would not surrender the rest of the way.

Shields gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks and he fanned five in eight innings of work.

David Robertson pitched in the eighth and struck out the side for the Yankees.

Mariano Rivera came on in the ninth and gave up a two-out double to Salvador Perez. But he retired Mike Moustakas on a flyout to Wells in left to earn his 14th save in as many chances this season.

The save for Rivera was also the 70th time in his career he has saved a game started by Pettitte, which is the most for any starter and closer tandem in major-league history.

The Yankees actually took advantage of an error on a throwing error by Moustakas in the third inning to take an early 1-0 lead.

Chris Nelson opened the inning by lacing a double down the left-field line. Two outs later, Robinson Cano slapped a bouncing ball to the left of Moustakas. The Royals’ third baseman dove, got up and threw high and wide of first base to allow Nelson to score from second.

The Royals manufactured a run of off Pettitte in bottom of the third to tie it.

Elliot Johnson reached on a swinging bunt down the third-base line and he later stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on a groundout off the bat of Cain.

The Yankees extended their current winning streak to four games and they are now 14-4 this season in games decided by two runs or less.

The victory also allowed the Yankees to claim full possession of first place in the American League East with a record of 22-13. The Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles are a full game out in second place. The Royals, who have now lost five of their past six games, are 18-15.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • In his last two starts, Pettitte was hammered for 11 runs (10 earned) on 14 hits and five walks in 9 1/3 innings. On Saturday, he looked more like the pitcher who was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA before those two dreadful outings. Pettitte had command of the cutter and he mixed his curve and slider to keep the Royals’ batters off balance all evening. The Yankees’ top four starters, Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia, and Phil Hughes, are a combined 14-9 this season.
  • Wells was 0-for-5 in Friday’s 11-run, 16-hit explosion against the Royals but he bounced back nicely in this game. Wells is currently second on the team with a .281 batting average and has eight home runs and 18 RBIs on the season. It is going to be difficult for manager Joe Girardi to bench him when Curtis Granderson is activated form the disabled list this month.
  • Robertson came out the bullpen firing seeds in the eighth inning. Robertson needed only 12 pitches to strike out Escobar and Cain looking and Gordon swinging. In his past four outings, Robertson has not give up a run or a hit and he has walked one while striking out eight in 4 1/3 innings.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

How can you complain when the team got a great effort out of Pettitte and the bullpen? Wells hit a timely home run and the Yankees took sole possession of first place. Who said this team would be awful because of all of the injuries they suffered? Not me.

BOMBER BANTER

Shortstop Eduardo Nunez missed his sixth straight game because he was unable to shake nagging discomfort in his left ribcage and the Yankees may have to place him on the 15-day disabled list if he is unable to play by Monday’s doubleheader in Cleveland against the Indians. Nunez told trainer Steve Donohue on Saturday that he still is feeling pain when he is doing fielding drills.

ON DECK

The Yankees can use their big broom and sweep the Royals in the three-game series finale on Sunday.

Kuroda (4-2, 3.20 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Kuroda, 38, limited the Colorado Rockies to two runs on seven hits in seven innings but took the loss on Tuesday because the Yankees were blanked. The veteran right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.66 ERA in his career against Kansas City.

The Royals will start former Angels right-hander Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.36 ERA). Santana surrendered three runs on seven hits and one walk in six innings of a no-decision against the Orioles on Tuesday. He is 5-6 with a 5.90 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

 

 

Yankees Play ‘Bombs Away’ To Shoot Down Birds

GAME 138

YANKEES 8, ORIOLES 5

Little ball has its place but the longball has always been the Yankees’ bread and butter. That marvelous power was proudly on display on Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Russell Martin, Alex Rodriguez and Steve Pearce each blasted Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen for home runs as the Yankees put Baltimore in a 7-0 hole after 5 1/2 innings and New York got a solid six innings out of Phil Hughes to take back sole possession of first place in the American League East.

Martin began the power surge in the top of the fourth after Chen hit Nick Swisher with his first offering of the inning and Robinson Cano then drew a four-pitch walk. Rodriguez struck out but Chen started Martin off with two pitches low and out of the strike zone.

Forced to throw a strike, Martin blasted Chen’s “hit-me-hard” high change-up a dozen rows deep into the bleachers in left-field to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

One out later, Andruw Jones singled and Pearce turned around an inside first-pitch fastball into a towering drive to left-field that sailed over the outstretched glove of Nate McLouth at the wall and landed in the first row of the seats. McLouth tried to sell to the umpires that a fan interfered with his attempt to catch the ball but replays clearly indicated McLouth’s glove was over the wall and the fan in the first row did not reach into the field of play.

Nice try, Nate. But cheaters never prosper.

One inning later, the Yankees practically sent Chen crying back to his native Taiwan.

Derek Jeter led off the inning with an opposite field single to right, part of another huge three-hit night for the Yankee captain.

Two outs later, Rodriguez connected on a high fastball and drove it majestically over the bullpens in left-center for his 16th home run of the season and his 300th homer as a Yankee.

It also ended Chen’s evening. In Taiwan, they would say to Chen “zai ken,” which means goodbye.

Chen (12-9) entered the game 1-1 with a 3.26 ERA in his three starts against the Yankees this season. He left the game having been ripped to shreds for seven runs on six hits (three of them that covered quite a bit of real estate) and one walk while he struck four in 4 2/3 innings.

Meanwhile, Hughes (14-12) was shutting out the Birds over the first five innings until a Swisher error on a ball off the bat of J.J. Hardy opened the floodgates in the sixth. McLouth followed a with a double off the wall in right and Adam Jones then homered to plate Baltimore’s first three runs.

Hughes left after six innings having given up three runs (two earned) on six hits and no walks and he fanned five batters to become the first Yankee pitcher to win 14 games this season.

The Yankee bullpen made it interesting for the 40,681 fans who paid to watch this showdown between to the top top teams in the division.

Cody Eppley gave up a solo home run to Robert Andino in the seventh and closer Rafael Soriano was touched for a solo home run by Manny Machado with two out in the bottom of the ninth. But too much damage had been done to Chen and the Orioles by the Yankees’ bats in the middle innings.

Jeter drove in the game’s sole run that did not result from a home run. He scored Ichiro Suzuki with a two-out single off the glove of Andino at second base that padded the Yankee lead to 8-4.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 78-60. The Orioles slipped to 77-61, one game back in second place. The Tampa Bay Rays are two games back in third.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • So much for left-handers having a huge edge on Yankees. All three homers off Chen were from right-handed hitters. With the three bombs he gave up on Friday, Chen has now given up 25 home runs this season. Six of them have come in his four starts against the Yankees. YES Network broadcaster Michael Kay got to really perfect his signature “See-ya” call in this one.
  • Hughes came through with a solid six-inning effort and gave the Yankee offense plenty of time to tee off on Chen. Hughes bounced back nicely off his loss to the Orioles in his last start. Before that losing outing, Hughes had pitched at least seven innings in his previous four starts.
  • After stinking up the Bronx most of the season, Martin is beginning to show signs of getting hot with the bat. In his last four games, Martin is 6-for-14 (.429) with two homers and seven RBIs. Martin has raised his season average to .204 with 16 home runs and 43 RBIs. The Yankees do need his bat down the stretch.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Swisher error at first base was his first error at the position this season. But it proved to be a costly one. The one saving grace was the Yankees did have a 7-0 lead at the time. It ruined what had been a very good outing from Hughes up to that point.
  • Eppley and Soriano were touched for late home runs, which proved costly to David Robertson and the Yankees on Thursday. The Yankees’ bullpen has been very good about keeping the ball in the ballpark most of the season. It would be a shame if this trend continued during the stretch drive.
  • Curtis Granderson has become virtually useless at the plate and it is beginning to look like he is going to need some time on the bench. He was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Friday and he now has just two hits in his last 17 at-bats (.118) and has struck out nine times. Pitchers lately could practically roll the ball to the plate and Granderson would swing and miss.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees elected to play it safe on Friday and did not start Mark Teixeira at first base. Teixeira, who has missed 11 games with a strained left calf, took batting practice and fielded ground balls, but trainer Steve Donohue recommended Teixeira should rest one more day. He is likely to return to action on Saturday.  . . .  The Yankees may make a change in their weekend rotation plans because right-hander Ivan Nova is ready to return from the disabled list after suffering inflammation in his right rotator cuff. If Nova does make the start it will be in place of right-hander Freddy Garcia, who is Sunday’s scheduled starter.

ON DECK

The Yankees will resume their pivotal four-game series with the Orioles on Saturday.

Ace left-hander CC Sabathia (13-4, 3.42 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Sabathia is coming off a no-decision in his last start against the Rays. But the Orioles are a team that Sabathia has owned throughout his career, He is 16-3 with a 2.97 ERA against them.

The Orioles will counter with journeyman left-hander Joe Saunders (1-1, 4.63), who will be making only his third start for the O’s. He is coming off a game in which he threw six perfect innings and a shutout over 6 1/3 innings. Saunders is 2-1 with a 6.28 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

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.