YANKEES 3, ROCKIES 1
With the Yankees limited in the amount of offense they can produce their pitching becomes even more important. On a day when their ace CC Sabathia could only go four innings because of a one hour and 59 minute rain delay, five relievers stepped up to shut down the Rockies in the final five innings.
Robinson Cano sparked the offense by collecting his 1,500th career hit before the rain delay and he extended the Yankees’ lead to 3-1 with a solo home run after the rain delay as New York took the three-game road series against Colorado in front of a rain-drenched paid crowd of 40,972 at Coors Field on Thursday.
Adam Warren (1-0), who came on in the fifth inning in relief of Sabathia, pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to get credit for his first major-league victory.
Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis (1-3), who gave up two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three in four innings, took the loss.
Mariano Rivera came on to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to post his 13th save in 13 chances this season. It is the longest consecutive save streak for Rivera since he saved his first 28 opportunities in 2008.
The Yankees took advantage of a one-out walk to Jayson Nix by Francis in the first inning to take an early lead.
Nix advanced to second on a slow bounce-out by Cano and he scored an RBI single by Vernon Wells, who was 5-for-12 (.417) with a homer and three RBIs in the series.
The Rockies tied it in the bottom of the inning when Troy Tulowitzki laced a one-out single to advance Dexter Fowler to third and Carlos Gonzalez launched a sacrifice fly to left that scored Fowler just ahead of the tag of catcher Chris Stewart on a perfect throw from left-field by Wells.
The Yankees reclaimed the lead in the fourth when former Rockie Chris Nelson led off with a double to left and Lyle Overbay advanced him to third on an infield groundout. Stewart then sent a deep fly ball to right-center that scored Nelson without a throw.
Then, as they have this entire series in Denver, the elements became downright nasty after Sabathia dispatched the Rockies in order in the bottom of the fourth. In fact, Sabathia retired the final 11 batters he faced before the long rain delay ended his outing early.
Sabathia gave up just the one run on one hit and a walk and he struck out two batters.
Right-hander Adam Ottavino replaced Francis in the top of the fifth after the rain delay and with two out Cano launched a 2-0 hanging breaking ball over the wall in right field for his ninth home run of the season and his 20th RBI, which both lead the team.
The Yankees bullpen took over from there.
Warren pitched a perfect fifth inning but walked Fowler and Tulowitzki in succession with two out in the sixth. But Boone Logan ended the threat by striking out Gonzalez swinging.
Rookie right-hander Preston Claiborne then ran into difficulty in the seventh with two out when Jordan Pacheco and Josh Rutledge hit back-to-back singles. However, David Robertson came in to strike out pinch-hitter Todd Helton swinging.
Robertson walked Young to begin the eighth and Young later stole second. But Robertson got out the inning by striking out Fowler, retiring Tulowitzki on an infield grounder and striking out Gonzalez swinging.
Rivera then closed out the ninth. The bullpen collectively gave up no runs on three hits and three walks while fanning three in five innings of work.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 20-13 to climb into a three-way tie with the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles for a share of first place in the American League East. The Rockies dropped to 19-15.
- Cano entered the series 0-for-8 and was retired in his first at-bat before his milestone single off Francis in the third inning. Cano then got to Ottavino with his ninth home run of the season. Though the Yankees have been ravaged by injuries that have limited the offense, Cano has been providing solid production early in the season.
- Wells also was 2-for-4 and he also drove in a run. He had three RBIs in the series and he has 16 overall. Manager Joe Girardi is going to be hard-pressed to find at-bats for Wells when Curtis Granderson returns this month, which is a shame because Wells looks like he has recaptured his old All-Star form at the plate.
- Everyone knows what a weapon Rivera has been his entire career. But he is making in huge statement in what will be his final season. Rivera is perfect in saves and he has given up only three runs on 12 hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. His ERA is 1.88.
You can’t complain about this one. After getting shut out on only four hits in the opener, the Yankees silenced a powerful Colorado offense in a hitters’ park by allowing just three runs on eight hits in the final two games. They just shut them down and won with timely hitting. They also took a share of first place. Bravo!
Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez was held out of a third straight game due to nagging tightness in his left ribcage. Heavy rain before the game prevented Nunez from being able to get on the field to work out and take some swings to test the injury. Girardi said he hopes Nunez might be available to play on Friday but he remains day-to-day. . . . Girardi did tell reporters that he believes reliever Joba Chamberlain will be activated on Tuesday when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. Chamberlain was sidelined with a mild right oblique strain.
The Yankees will continue their eight-game road trip in Kansas City with a weekend three-game series against the Royals.
Right-hander Phil Hughes (1-2, 3.60 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Hughes is coming off his best outing of the season on Saturday when he blanked the Oakland Athletics over eight innings on four hits while punched out nine batters. Hughes is 4-1 with a 5.51 ERA in his career against the Royals.
The Royals will counter with former Rays right-hander Wade Davis (2-2, 4.75 ERA). Davis held the Chicago White Sox to one run over six innings on Sunday but he did not get a decision. He is 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 3, ROCKIES 2
After watching Joe Girardi manage the Yankees on Wednesday night you are kind of left to wonder what he will do next. Will he alternate right-handed and left-handed pitchers by playing them in left-field? Will he have one of his pitchers pinch-run and attempt to steal a base? Or will he bat CC Sabathia in the cleanup spot on Thursday?
Girardi batted starting pitcher David Phelps in the eighth spot in the order and used outfielder Vernon Wells at third base in the ninth inning but somehow it all worked out for New York to edge Colorado in front of a paid crowd of 40,148 at Coors Field.
Pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch narrowly beat out a infield grounder with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to allow Wells to score the tie-breaking run and as the Yankees ended a two-game losing streak.
Wells led off the ninth with a ground ball deep in the hole at short. After Wells stole second, Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt (1-1) then walked Lyle Overbay.
Ichiro Suzuki laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Wells and Overbay into scoring position and the Rockies elected to walk Jayson Nix intentionally to load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Travis Hafner struck out. But Boesch followed with a ground ball to the left of third baseman Nolan Arenado. The rookie third baseman dove, got up and fired the ball to first but first-base umpire Phil Cuzzi ruled Boesch safe on a close play that allowed the eventual game-winning run to score.
David Roberston (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to get credit for the victory.
Because Eduardo Nunez has been sidelined with tightness in his left ribcage and Girardi had elected to use Hafner to pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Nelson, Boesch stayed in the game in right-field, Suzuki shifted to left-field and the left-fielder Wells – who had never played a single inning at any level of baseball at third – played there in the ninth.
Wells even made a nice stop on a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez and threw him out at first to record the second out of the inning behind closer Mariano Rivera.
Rivera did give up a two-out single and a stolen base to Michael Cuddyer but he induced a routine flyout to center from Wilin Rosario to save his 12th game in as many chances.
The Yankees actually took an early lead in the game off right-hander Juan Nicasio when Wells hit a two-run homer to left with one out in the first inning.
The Rockies knotted it in the second when Rosario laced a one-out double to right-center and Todd Helton followed with a two-run blast of his own off Phelps that landed in the second deck in right-field.
Nicasio gave up two runs on two hits and one walk and struck out five in five innings.
Phelps, making only his second start of the season, pitched a brilliant six innings, surrendering two runs on three hits and one walk while striking out four batters.
Girardi elected to bat Phelps eighth and catcher Austin Romine ninth because he did not want to pinch-hit later in the game for Phelps with a left-handed hitter with left-handed hitters Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano to follow. Whatever the reasoning the result was a victory for Girardi and his Yankees.
The Yankees improved their season record to 19-13. The Rockies fell to 19-14.
- Wells entered the game in a 3-for-23 (.130) slide over his past six games but stepped up with a 3-for-4 night with a homer, two singles, a stolen base, two runs scored and two RBIs. Wells also played a flawless third base in the ninth to make Girardi look good. Wells, 34, is batting .287 this season with seven home runs and 15 RBIs.
- Phelps was simply sensational in his second start. Other than the double by Rosario and Helton’s homer, Phelps held the Rockies to a two-out single by Josh Rutledge in the sixth inning and a one-out walk to Dexter Fowler in the third. He pitched to the minimum three batters in four of his six innings and he threw only 87 pitches.
- The Yankees’ bullpen also was superb. Preston Claiborne posted another impressive 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout in the seventh and Robertson and Rivera each pitched a scoreless inning for the victory and the save, respectively. After not pitching well the first week of the season, the bullpen has been doing great work in the past month.
- Girardi will never admit it but the injuries are really hurting the offense. After scratching out four hits and not scoring a run on Tuesday, the Yankees managed only six hits and scored three runs on Wednesday. They were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position, which includes Wells’ homer and Boesch’s RBI single.
- Cano is not helping the Yankees at all in this road series. In the first two games he is 0-for-8 with two strikeouts and he has only managed to get one ball out of the infield. Cano’s season average has dropped to a rather pedestrian .305 after he began May hitting .327.
- The decision to bat Phelps eighth and Romine ninth really did not yield any results from them. Phelps struck out swinging twice and Romine also fanned swinging his first two at-bats and then he later grounded out. Though the Yankees won I am not sure Girardi will elect to have his pitcher bat eighth again.
Nunez felt tightness in his ribcage and was held out of Wednesday’s game and it is unlikely he will play on Thursday. Nunez sustained the injury on Sunday and has now missed a total of six games due to a series of injuries this season. . . . Right-hander Ivan Nova gave up two runs in four-plus innings in an extended spring training game in Tampa, FL, on Wednesday and said he felt much better than expected. Nova, 26, who is on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right triceps, yielded five hits and three walks while he struck five Toronto Blue Jay minor leaguers. Nova is hoping to be activated on May 13 but the Yankees have not set a date for his return.
The Yankees will attempt to win the three-game series with Colorado on Thursday.
Sabathia (4-3, 3.31 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia only gave up two runs on six hits in six innings against the Oakland Athletics on Friday but he took the loss because the Yankees did not score him any runs. In his career against the Rockies, Sabathia is 2-1 with a 5.97 ERA.
The Rockies will counter with left-hander Jeff Francis (1-2, 7.27 ERA). Francis surrendered four runs in five innings in a no-decision against the Rays on Friday. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 3.10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 6, ROCKIES 4
On a day the New York Yankees celebrated its living legends on their 65th annual Old-Timers’ Day at hallowed Yankee Stadium, it was 24-year-old Eduardo Nunez — the youngest player on the roster — who delivered the game-winning hit and it was 41-year-old Mariano Rivera — the oldest player on the roster — who closed the game out in the ninth.
Nunez stroked a one-out RBI single off reliever Matt Belisle (5-3) in the seventh inning to score pinch-runner Chris Dickerson from second to break a 4-4 tie as New York downed Colorado on Sunday and won the three-game series from the Rockies.
Colorado actually enjoyed a 3-0 lead in the game on the strength of solo home runs by Ty Wigginton and Chris Ianetta and a sac fly by Todd Helton off Yankee starter Ivan Nova in the first five innings. The Rockies, meanwhile, were cruising behind 24-year-old rookie right-hander Juan Nicasio, who had retired the Yankees in order for the first four innings.
Nicasio eeven opened the fifth by retiring Alex Rodriguez on a flyout to right. But after having thrown 62 pitches and facing a 2-1 count on Robinson Cano, Cano broke up a potential Nicasio no-hit bid with an lined opposite-field single to left. Five pitches later, Swisher broke up Nicasio’s potential shutout bid with a two-run blast into the right-field bleachers for his ninth home run of the season.
Four pitches after that, Jorge Posada erased Nicasio’s lead with his eighth home run of the season, a rope that landed in the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center. So within a span of 10 pitches, the Yankees finally formally introduced themselves to the rookie.
However, the Yankees’ own rookie pitcher Nova was unable to hold on to the tie in the sixth. Wigginton connected on a 3-2 pitch for his second solo home run of the game off Nova and the Rockies reclaimed the lead.
But, the Yankees chased Nicasio from the game in the bottom of the sixth witha bunt single by Brett Gardner, a stolen base by Gardner and a walk to Curtis Granderson. Belisle entered the game and retired Granderson at second on a comebacker to the mound. But Alex Rodriguez tied the game with a ground single into left to score Gardner.
That set up the Yankees’ seventh inning. With one out, Posada drew a walk off Belisle. Then All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki booted a hot smash grounder off the bat of Russell Martin for an error. Dickerson was then sent in to pinch-run for Posada and he scored after Nuuez slipped a bouncer through the hole between third and short to score Dickerson with what would prove to be the winning run.
Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees an insurance run in the eight inning when he led off with a solo shot to left off left-hander Mark Reynolds, Teixeira’s 23rd home run of the season, tying him Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista for the major-league lead.
The Yankee bullpen did the rest. Boone Logan got three outs in the seventh and David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth, striking out two batters. But Rivera needed only 14 pitches — nine of them strikes — to strike out Wigginton, Charlie Blackmon and Ianetta in order to pick up his 20th save in 23 chances. Logan (2-2) got credit for the victory in relief.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season ledger to 45-31. They have won 12 of their last 16 games and they remain a half-game ahead of the second-place Boston Red Sox atop the American League East. The Rockies dropped to 38-39.
- Since taking over for an injured Derek Jeter as the starting shortstop on June 14, Nunez is 12-for-41 (.293) with a home run and five RBIs. He has failed to get a hit in only three of the 12 games he has started. Brian Cashman said it best when he said the Yankees have no interest in potential free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes. The Yankees have Jeter signed for four years and Nunez could be starting for half the teams in baseball now. They are set at the position.
- Swisher continues to improve from the left side of the plate. His home run in the fifth inning was his sixth of the season from the left side. Despite hitting a sizzling .342 right-handed, Swisher is only hitting .203 left-handed. But he has raised his average to .245 by hitting .319 in June with six home runs and 18 RBIs.
- Posada ended a 119 at-bat home run drought on June 22 in Cincinnati after he had hit six home runs in his first 16 games this season. His eighth home run on Sunday came only 11 at-bats after his seventh. Posada may be hitting a woeful .100 with no home runs and just one RBI against lefties. But he is hitting .270 with eight homers and 24 RBIs against right-handers this season.
- After Luis Ayala gave up a single to Ianetta to begin the sixth inning, Logan, Robertson and Rivera were perfect the rest of the way. They threw a combined 42 pitches, 32 of them for strikes. They struck out six of those nine batters they faced and only one ball reached the outfield. Is it any wonder that the Yankees bullpen is No. 1 in the majors in ERA?
- It looked as if it was going to be another one of those games that the Yankees looked hopeless against a pitcher they have not seen before. Nicasio was getting the Yankees out even though he was falling behind in the count to just about every batter in the first four innings. Fortunately, Cano’s single made him work from the stretch for the first time in the game and the Yankees took advantage right away.
- Nunez may be a coming star with his bat and his ability to steal bases, but his fielding is a long way from looking major league. In the first inning, Nunez allowed a sure double-play ball off the bat of Jonathan Herrera to roll under his glove for his ninth miscue of the season in limited starts. Nova pitched out of the jam by retiring the next three batters but Nunez is going to have improve his concentration in the field.
- Martin was one of two Yankee starters who did not get a hit in the game. The other was Curtis Granderson. Martin also committed a throwing error on a steal attempt by Ianetta in seventh inning. That was his fourth error of the season. On the bright side he has caught 29% of base-stealers against him this season, which is right around his career average of 30% for his career.
There were loud ovations for Lou Piniella, Joe Torre and Bernie Williams from the sellout crowd of 47,894 during the Old-Timers’ Day celebration before the game. This was the first time the three had participated in an Old-Timers’ Day since they retired from baseball. But the biggest fan favorite is still 86-year-old Yogi Berra, who drew the loudest ovation when he was introduced. Tino Martinez was the hero of the game with a two-run home run off David Cone to give the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Clippers. The Yankees also honored long-time head trainer Gene Monahan, who is retiring after this season. Monahan threw out the first pitch in the Old-Timers’ game. . . . One player missing from the festivities was Derek Jeter, who is rehabbing a strained right calf in Tampa, FL. On Sunday he took swings off a batting tee and from soft toss but he still has not started a running program. Jeter hopes to begin running this week. There is no set timetable for his return.
The Yankees will have the benefit of another day off on Monday to rest their bullpen, rework their starting rotation and allow Alex Rodriguez to get treatment for his sore right knee. On Monday, the Yankees will play host to the Milwaukee Brewers for the opener of the three-game set.
The Yankees will open the series with 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (6-6, 3.30 ERA), who threw his third straight quality start and his sixth in his last seven starts. Garcia allowed two unearned runs on three hits over seven innings in a victory against the Reds on Thursday. He is 0-2 with a 3.98 ERA in his career against the Brewers.
The Brewers will start Zack Greinke (7-2, 4.77 ERA). The former Royals right-hander gave up just one earned run over seven innings in his last start. He has fanned 10 in his last two starts. Greinke is 2-3 with a 5.67 ERA against the Yankees. He also spurned a potential trade to the Yankees by stating that he did not think he could pitch in Yankee Stadium with his anxiety disorder.
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.