YANKEES 4, RED SOX 0
TAMPA – With all the dark clouds that seem to be swirling around the Yankees’ spring training camp – both literal and figurative – the skies always seem to part widely to allow in bright sunshine when they beat their most bitter rival. That is exactly what happened on Wednesday.
Left-handed camp sensation Vidal Nuno tossed five scoreless innings while the Yankees sent nine men to the plate in a four-run second inning against Felix Doubront as New York shut out the punchless Bostonians at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Nuno (1-1) is a 25-year-old pitcher who was released by the Cleveland Indians and discovered by team scouts pitching for the Washington Wild of an independent league. And all he has done this spring is throw up zeros, including five shutout innings against the Yankees when he was loaned to the World Baseball Classic champion Dominican Republic team for an exhibition game on March 6.
On Wednesday he did the same to Red Sox with a five-pitch assortment including a fastball, curveball, slider, cutter and changeup. Nuno allowed just two hits and a walk while he struck out one in a sparkling 63-pitch outing.
Meanwhile, the Yankees’ offense got to Doubront in the second inning.
Juan Rivera opened the frame with a single and newly acquired outfielder Ben Francisco doubled him to third. Jayson Nix scored Rivera on a sacrifice fly and Chris Stewart followed with an RBI single to score Francisco.
Thomas Neal and Melky Mesa each singled to load the bases and Doubront then dug a deeper hole for himself by uncorking a wild pitch to allow Stewart to score.
Brett Gardner drew a walk to reload the bases and Eduardo Nunez closed out the scoring another sacrifice fly to plate Neal.
Five Yankee relievers combined to hold the Red Sox scoreless in the final four innings, limiting them to just two hits and no walks.
The victory improved the Yankees’ spring record to 10-15. The Red Sox fell to 13-12.
- As impressive as Nuno has been this spring with his tidy 0.68 ERA, it is unlikely he will make the team’s Opening Day roster. Nuno is considered a starting pitcher and the Yankees have six starters ahead of him. There is a very slim possibility he could be used as a second left-hander out of the bullpen while Clay Rapada recovers from bursitis in his left shoulder. But the Yankees seem to be learning toward using Josh Spence in that role. Believe me, though, Nuno has made an impression and will get a chance with the big club at some point in 2013.
- The Yankees’ four-run second inning is pretty much how the Yankees will have to do a lot of their scoring in the regular season. They scored three of their four runs on a wild pitch and two sac flies. Such is life without power for the Yankees in 2013.
- Francisco has been a doubles-hitting fool this spring between his stint with the Indians and the Yankees. His double against Doubront in the second was his eighth double of the spring and those doubles account for all but three of his 11 hits. He is hitting a cool .333 and he likely will make the team a platoon corner outfielder.
- Perhaps Kevin Youkilis was too jazzed up facing his former team. He was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and he failed to get a ball out of the infield. Youkilis drew a lot of “Youk” calls from the paid crowd of 10,801 but it seemed most of them were from Yankee fans while Red Sox fans booed or were silent.
The game was played amid a solid blanket of heavy clouds but it could not compare with the gloomy news about shortstop Derek Jeter. After feeling soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle on Tuesday, Jeter was a late scratch from a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, FL. Jeter downplayed the soreness, saying it was something doctors told him to expect. But Jeter’s availability for Opening Day is now in question after he was administered an anti-inflammatory injection on Wednesday. General manager Brian Cashman said the soreness in Jeter’s left ankle is not serious but that he might have to open the season on the disabled list. If that is the case, Nunez would start the season at shortstop. . . . Ace left-hander CC Sabathia threw 92 pitches on Wednesday against a minor-league lineup at the team’s complex in Tampa. Sabathia is scheduled to open the season April 1 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. . . . Former Yankee right-hander Chien-Ming Wang worked out for the team at the team’s complex on Wednesday. Wang, 32, is a free agent who is drawing interest from a number of major-league teams after he pitched for Taiwan in the WBC. Cashman said the team has no vacancies in the rotation but they would be willing to offer Wang a minor-league deal to pitch at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees will stay at home to play host to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
Right-hander David Phelps will continue his quest to make the rotation in his sixth start of the spring. He will be opposed by right-hander Liam Hendricks.
The Yankees will also welcome back WBC Most Valuable Player and All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano back to the lineup.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast live by the YES Network and on tape-delay by the MLB Network.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
YANKEES 4, RED SOX 1
On a night where Japan’s Hajime Motegi hit a walk-off two-run blast in the bottom of the ninth to beat Taiwan, 2-0, in the International Bracket of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, two of the team’s major-league heroes were putting on a show on the big stage at Yankee Stadium.
Hiroki Kuroda turned in yet another stellar outing on the mound and Ichiro Suzuki homered twice as New York sent Boston packing from the Bronx, N.Y. on Sunday looking up out of a huge 13 1/2-game hole with just 41 games left to play.
Kuroda (12-8) gave up only a one-out solo home run to Adrian Gonazalez in the seventh as he shut down the listless Red Sox offense on just four hits and no walks over eight very breezy innings.
The 37-year-old right-hander ran his scoreless-inning streak to 16 2/3 innings before Gonzalez connected with his meaningless solo shot. Kuroda is 8-2 with a 2.73 in his last 20 starts dating back to May 27.
Meanwhile, the Yankees chipped away at the Red Sox’ disappointing ace Josh Beckett (5-11), scoring single runs in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings.
The runs in the fourth and sixth came on the sixth and seventh home runs of the season from Suzuki, marking his first multi-homer game as a Yankee. After Suzuki’s second home run of the night, many in the paid crowd of 48,620 chanted “Ichiro, Ichiro” until the 37-year-old veteran came of the Yankees’ dugout to take a curtain call.
The Yankees opened the scoring with Derek Jeter leading off the game with a ringing double to the wall in center, the first of three hits on the night for Jeter. With two out, Curtis Granderson stroked a lined double off the right-field wall to score Jeter.
Two innings later, Jeter again opened the inning with a ground-rule double to center off Beckett. Nick Swisher drew a walk and both Jeter and Swisher pulled off a double steal. Jeter then scored when a pitch from Beckett to Robinson Cano bounced in the dirt and eluded catcher Ryan Lavarnway, allowing Jeter to score easily.
Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth, punctuating the victory by retiring Gonzalez by striking out him swinging. Soriano saved two of the three games in the series and he has 31 saves in 33 chances this season.
With the loss, the Red Sox’s nightmarish August continues. They are 6-12 this month and they now trail in the wild-card standings by 7 1/2 games. If it is not time to stick a fork in the Bosox it is not far away.
With the victory, the Yankees improved to an American League-best record of 72-49 and they are five games ahead of the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East. The Red Sox are now 59-63 and their playoff chances are about as bright as former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson winning the 2012 presidential election as the Libertarian candidate.
- In the absence of CC Sabathia, Kuroda has turned out to be a true ace over his last 20 starts. Kuroda retired 16 of his 24 outs on 12 ground balls and four strikeouts. Out of his 112 pitches, 75 (67 percent) were strikes. He could not have looked in more command against the Red Sox if he were throwing from a La-Z-boy recliner.
- Suzuki came to the Yankees with only four home runs but he now has three in his 26 games with the team. On his current pace, Suzuki possibly could become the 11th Yankee to reach double digits in home runs. The Yankees lead the major leagues in home runs with 189. Suzuki also has only failed to record at least one hit in just two of his starts since he was acquired on July 23.
- Jeter was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored. The three hits give him 163 on the season, which leads the majors. Though he had his 13-game hitting streak snapped on Saturday, Jeter is hitting .351 with two home runs and 11 RBis in August. His season average is now .321.
Nothing to say here. Any win over the Red Sox is pretty much devoid of negatives.
Mark Teixeira, who has been sidelined throughout the three-game Boston series with a sore left wrist, hopes to return to action on Monday. Teixeira took ground balls on Sunday wearing a compression brace on his wrist. Teixeira missed games from July 31 through August 2 with the same problem and took a cortisone shot to ease the pain. . . . Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano threw a scoreless inning for the Gulf Coast Yankees on Saturday and there is a strong possibility he could pitch some for the Yankees in September. Feliciano signed a two-year contract with the Yankees before the 2011 season and he has not pitched an inning for the Yankees because he had to undergo surgery to repair a torn capsule in his left shoulder.
The Yankees travel to the Windy City to play the Chicago White Sox in a three-game series beginning on Monday.
Veteran right-hander Freddy Garcia (7-5, 4.68 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Garcia is 5-3 with a 3.69 ERA in his eight starts replacing left-hander Andy Pettitte in the rotation. In his last time out, he gave up two home runs to Josh Hamilton but still beat the Texas Rangers for his third straight victory. Garcia is 5-5 with a 4.46 ERA in his career against the Chisox.
The White Sox will counter with right-hander Gavin Floyd (9-9, 4.43 ERA). Floyd notched his first career victory in Toronto and only his second road victory of the season by downing the Blue Jays in his last outing. He is 2-3 with a 6.07 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 2
Monday’s New York versus Baltimore pitching matchup of 25-year-olds was marked by some very stark contrasts.
The Yankees starter was a right-hander who spent six years in the minors before a breakthrough 2011 season and he entered the 2012 season having won 12 consecutive games. The Orioles starter was a left-hander who was rushed to the majors a bit too soon and he paid for it by ending his 2011 season having lost nine consecutive games.
The result was Ivan Nova of the Yankees scattered 10 hits over seven innings in winning his 13th straight game and Brian Matusz (0-1) of the O’s gave up four runs on six hits and four walks in four innings as New York got back on track and defeated Baltimore at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Derek Jeter sparked the offense with four hits, including an RBI double in the fourth, and executed a perfect sacrifice bunt in the sixth and a textbook hit-and-run single in the eighth. Andruw Jones added a solo home run in the sixth inning as the Yankees broke a 0-3 start with an 11-hit attack to win their first game of the season.
The Yankees avoided starting the season 0-4 for the first time since 1973.
The Yankees also extended a streak of 18 consecutive victories in games in which Nova has started.
Though Nova gave up a lot of hits, he got tough with runners on base. The Orioles were 6-for-11 (.545) with the bases empty and were 3-for-15 with runners on against Nova. They also were 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
The Yankees are now 1-3 on the young season while the Orioles fell to 3-1.
- Nova pitched with steely confidence on Monday and did not allow the pressure of having base-runners on in every inning except the first get to him. He also struck out seven batters by liberally using his breaking pitches. Nova is on a mission to show his 16-4 record was not a fluke or only a product of a lot of run support. He is off to a good start after a spring in which he recorded a 8.06 ERA.
- Jeter, like most of the Yankees, loves hitting in Camden Yards and it showed with his 4-for-4 night. Showing his ability to use all fields, Jeter had a single to left, a single to center, a single to right-center (on a hit-and-run play) and a double to the right-field corner. Jeter raised his average from .231 to .412 in one night.
- Manager Joe Girardi started Jones in left in place of Brett Gardner for the second straight game against a left-hander and Jones delivered a home run to left off Orioles right-hander Darren O’Day’s first pitch of the sixth inning. Jones now has 421 career home runs.
- Whatever book the Yankees have on how to pitch Matt Wieters they are going to need to revise it in a hurry. Wieters was 4-for-4, including a solo home run in the second inning, a double and two singles. The Yankees previously had some success in getting Wieters out but it looks like 25-year-old catcher is becoming the good hitter he was predicted to be when he was in the minors.
- The Yankees have a way of making things more difficult on themselves even in victory. The Orioles recorded three double plays on Monday and two of them came with the bases loaded. The third one came on a strange double-steal play in the third inning. With Jeter on second and Robinson Cano on first and Alex Rodriguez up with a 3-2 count, Girardi sent both runners. Rodriguez struck out and Wieters threw out Jeter at third easily.
- The No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup – Nick Swisher, Cano and Rodriguez – were a combined 1-for-11 and left a total of 14 runners on base. As a result, though Jeter was 4-for-4, he scored only one run and that was driven in by Mark Teixeira in the first inning on a two-out single.
While the game was going on the Yankees also were monitoring Andy Pettitte’s start for Class-A Tampa in a Florida State League game on the road against Clearwater. Pettitte gave up one run on two hits and struck out two in 3 innings of work. Pettitte, who threw 26 of 32 pitches for strikes, said he felt good about his outing. The 39-year-old left-hander, who hopes to be ready to pitch in the major leagues in May, will make his next start for Tampa on Sunday. . . . Yankees catcher Russell Martin and Orioles second baseman Robert Andino ended up in a heated discussion after Monday’s game. Martin apparently was upset with what he believed was Andino relaying pitch location from second base to the last two batters in the ninth with Mariano Rivera on the mound. Andino took exception to Martin’s accusation and he had to be restrained by Orioles first base coach Wayne Kirby. Girardi summed it all up later by saying “Boys will be boys.”
The Yankees continue their series with the Orioles with their fifth game of a six-game season-opening road trip on Tuesday.
Freddy Garcia, 35, will make his 2012 debut after a 12-8 season and 3.82 ERA in 2011. Garcia was 2-0 with a 4.35 ERA in four starts against the Orioles last season.
He will be opposed by 26-year-old left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who will be making his major-league debut after spending four seasons pitching for the Chunichi Dragons in Japan. Chen, a native of Taiwan, was 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA in five spring starts for the Orioles.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.