August 2011

CC Guts Out 18th Win As Bosox Strand 16 Runners

GAME 133

YANKEES 5, RED SOX 2

Reporters kept reminding CC Sabathia that he was 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA against the Red Sox this season and he kept saying to them that he had beaten them before and he could do it again.

On Tuesday night, he did just that.

Sabathia bowed his neck and steeled his nerves to throw six tough innings, fanning 10 and stranding 10 baserunners as New York rode its ace lefty to a huge psychological victory over Boston at hallowed Fenway Park with 37,773 in attendance.

Sabathia (18-7) threw a Yankee career-high 128 pitches and gave up just two runs on 10 hits and two walks. But the best part of Sabathia’s performance was how he wriggled out trouble in virtually every inning.

In the second, Sabathia induced Jacoby Ellsbury to hit into a harmless grounder to end the inning with the bases full of Red Sox. In the fourth, Sabathia gave up four hits, including a solo home run by Carl Crawford and an RBI double by Marco Scutaro that brought the Red Sox back into the game at  3-2. But he struck out swinging American League batting leader Adrian Gonzalez to leave two more Bosoz adrift. In the fifth inning he struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia swinging and stranded two more runners.

Meanwhile, the Yankees chipped away at right-hander John Lackey (12-10), who entered the contest with a 3-0 record against the Yankees this season. They did it without most of the usual suspects, too. It came from the crew who normally play off the bench.

In the second inning, Eric Chavez, who is filling in for an injured Alex Rodriguez at third base, followed a Robinson Cano one-out walk and a Nick Swisher single with a bouncing RBI single just past second baseman “Dusty” Pedroia to break the seal on the scoring. I call Pedrois “Dusty” because in his effort to stop the bouncing ball he ate a face full of dirt on his dive.

The Yankees tacked two more runs off a tentative Lackey in the fourth. Curtis Granderson walked and one out later Robinson Cano doubled off  high the Green Monster in left-center to score Granderson with his major-league-leading 123rd run of the season. After Nick Swisher drew a walk, Chavez hit another shot up the middle that Pedroia had no chance on to score Cano and give Sabathia a 3-0 cushion.

After the Red Sox scored what would be their only two runs of the night in the fourth, another bench player shocked Lackey and the Red Sox in the fifth. Francisco Cervelli, who came into the game with only one home run this season and a total of two in his career, blasted a 3-1 Lackey fastball over the Green Monster in left and out onto Landsdowne Street.

The Yankees added a run in the seventh. It started with a bang and some fireworks that cleared both benches and got Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild ejected from the game.

When Cervelli crossed the plate on his home-run gallop in the fifth he stopped at home plate to clap his hands. Lackey promptly hit him square in the back with his first delivery of the seventh. Cervelli immediately yelled out at Lackey and walked towards the mound. He was cut off by Saltalamacchia and home-plate umpire Ed Rapuano and both benches and bullpens cleared.

Calm was restored without any blows struck and Rapuano warned both benches to cut it out drew the ire. Rothschild had some parting words with third-base umpire Mark Wegner and walked away. However, Wegner tossed him from the game.

The question was did Lackey throw at Cervelli on purpose? If he did it was the stupidest thing he did all night. And Lackey, who came into the game with a 5.98 ERA, has been on a first-name basis with stupid in his pitching this season.

Lackey later uncorked a pitch that Saltalamacchia could not handle and Cervelli moved to second. Brett Gardner advanced Cervelli to third on a bunt single. Cervelli then scored on Derek Jeter’s double-play grounder. So if Lackey did hit Cervelli on purpose it was yet another stupid decision because it cost him a run.

Meanwhile, the Yankee bullpen had to navigate the last nine outs to preserve the victory for Sabathia. Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera combined to give up three hits, two walks and hit a batter over the final three innings. However, the Yankees were still able to keep the Red Sox from scoring with more clutch pitching.

Wade got into a one-out jam in the seventh when he walked David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie followed with a single.

Logan was summoned from the bullpen and he gave up a fly ball single to left-center by Crawford on which Ortiz could have scored. But he waited too long at second to see if it would drop. Logan then bowed his neck and steeled his nerves and fanned Saltalamacchia and Darnell McDonald on 3-2 pitches out of the strike zone.

Soriano pitched around a leadoff walk to Ellsbury to pitch a scoreless eighth and Rivera came on the ninth to fend off one last Red Sox threat.

Ortiz led off with a double. Two outs later, Rivera hit Saltalamacchia with a inside cutter in which Saltalamacchia appeared to swing. Wegner awarded Saltalamacchia first base, claiming he did not swing. Manager Joe Girardi erupted out of the dugout and he became Wegner’s second Yankee victim of the night.

Earlier in the inning, Jed Lowrie was called out on strikes on a Rivera fastball that appeared to be out of the strike zone. Lowrie slammed his bat and charged right into the face of Rapuano to argue the call and he was not ejected. Hmm!

Anyway, the hit batter left the Red Sox with the two on, two out and the tying run at the plate in pinch-hitter Josh Reddick. Reddick did slice a lined shot to the opposite field, however, Red Sox Nation went home crying like babies when Gardner reached up and snared the liner for the final out.

Rivera eanred his 35th save in 40 opportunities and it is the 594th of his career, seven saves away from all-times saves leader Trevor Hoffman’s total of 601.

The Red Sox can’t be proud of their effort on Monday. They struck out 13 times and left a total of 16 base-runners on base while scoring just two runs. The Red Sox were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position. The key to game was they missed their opportunities to score while the Yankees cashed in on the much fewer chances they had.

The best news is the Yankees have pulled to within a half-game of the Red Flops, uh, Sox in the American League East. The Yankees are 81-52. The Bosox are 82-52.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Sabathia’s line of 10 hits and two walks over six innings is not very impressive. But it was a very gutsy effort the ace delivered on Monday. Sabathia struck out Gonzalez the first three times he faced him and Gonazalez ended the night 0-for-5, the only Bosox starter who did not get a hit. MVP, huh? Sabathia got the big outs when he needed to and limited the damage in the fourth to two runs. Sabathia might have been more impressive in toughing out this start then he has in his complete-game shutouts.
  • Chavez came through subbing for A-Rod with a pair of RBI singles off Lackey in the second and fourth innings. After missing 2 1/2 months with a broken bone in his right foot, Chavez was hitting just .237 since his return in July. However, in his last four starts, Chavez is 6-for-16 (375). Chavez stands to get some more playing time while A-Rod heals his sore left thumb.
  • Cervelli’s home run was a much smaller version of the Bucky Dent home run in the one-game playoff in 1978. Cervelli was the most unlikely Yankee to homer on Tuesday. His enthusiastic celebration at home plate also goaded Lackey into stupidly hitting him in the back with his first pitch in the seventh. It cost the Lackey and the Chicken Pox, uh, Red Sox a very important run. Letting a bench guy like Cervelli get under your skin is not smart.
  • Logan deserves credit for fanning Saltalamacchia and McDonald in a bases-loaded pressure situation in the seventh.  Logan has not given up an earned run since July 23 against Oakland, a span of 12 appearances. Logan is 4-2 and has lowered his season ERA to 2.60.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Captain let us down on Tuesday. Jeter could have been still favoring his bruised right knee but he went 0-for-5 including his run-scoring double play groundout. In fact he grounded out to the infield in all five at-bats. On the verge of passing the .300 mark, Jeter’s average fell back to .293.
  • Mark Teixiera also flamed out in this game. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and three weak infield popups. Teixeira is so intent on loading up on his back leg and lifting the ball that he pops up a lot, hence his current batting average of .249. Tex needs to stop going down for pitches and start hitting line drives on pitches up in the strike zone.
  • Jorge Posada had no day to write home about either. He was 0-for-3 and ended the Yankees two best rallies in the second and fourth innings by grounding into double plays. He also flew out to left. Posada is hitting a anemic .239 in what likely will be his last season with the Yankees.

BOMBER BANTER

Rodriguez had a cortisone shot administered to his left thumb and he will not play in the Red Sox series. Rodriguez originally injured the thumb diving for a Joe Mauer infield single on Aug. 21, his first game back in the lineup after missing a month with surgery on his right knee. Rodriguez then re-aggravated the injury in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday against the Orioles. Rodriguez may be able to return to the lineup on Friday with the Yankees at home against the Blue Jays.  . . .  Sabathia became the fifth Yankees pitcher to win at least 18 games in three straight seasons and he is the first to do it since Vic Raschi did it from 1948 through 1951.

ON DECK

Well, in Act One we had four hit batters (five if you count the one Granderson was hit with that Rapuano had his head up his hind end and missed), two ejections and a bench-clearing incident. What will Act Two of the this three-act play between the Red Sox and Yankees bring on Wednesday?

The Yankees will count on 24-year-old right-hander Phil Hughes (4-4, 6.46 ERA). Hughes was on a three-game winning streak and looking like the 18-game winner he was in 2010. However, he allowed six runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Athletics last week. But Hughes did not lose the game because the Yankees rallied from a 7-1 deficit to win 22-9. Hughes is 2-4 with a 6.25 ERA lifetime against the Blowsux, uh, Bosox.

The Sox will counter with right-hander Josh Beckett (11-5, 2.43 ERA). Beckett gave up four hits and fanned four in his last outing against the Rangers. Beckett is 13-7 with a 5.37 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.

Garcia’s Grit, Swish’s Swat Propel Yanks Over O’s

GAME 132

YANKEES 3, ORIOLES 2

Freddy Garcia had to wait 22 days for his start on Monday at Camden Yards because he sliced the index finger on his pitching hand in a kitchen mishap at home.

The 34-year-old right-hander was activated from the 15-day disabled list and then proceeded to carve up the Orioles’ batters with his Swiss Army knife assortment of pitches. Nick Swisher provided a two-run home run in the fourth inning to support Garcia as New York managed to salvage a four-game series split with Baltimore in a set truncated a game on Saturday by the arrival of Hurricane Irene.

Garcia (11-7) obviously came off the DL none the worse for wear. He allowed only two hits, walked one and struck out four over the six innings he worked. His only blemishes were a two-hit double he gave up to Adam Jones in the first inning and a Mark Reynolds solo home run with one out in the fifth.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ hitters scratched out a run off Orioles right-hander Alfredo Simon (4-7) in the first inning when major-league runs scored leader Curtis Granderson drew a one-out walk and Mark Teixeira doubled off the right-field wall to score Granderson for Teixeira’s 100th RBI on the season. Teixeira, who his 35 home runs and 100 RBIs with 30 games left in the season, has now hit at least 30 home runs and driven in at least 100 runs in eight consecutive seasons.

Swisher added to Garcia’s lead in the fourth. Robinson Cano reached first on a one-out opposite-field single off Simon (4-7). Swisher followed by hitting a hanging curveball on the first pitch into the rightfield bleachers for his 21st home run of the season, his third in the series and his fifth this season against the Orioles.

Garcia, meanwhile, mixed his slow breaking pitches, an occasional fastball and his devastating split-finger fastball to keep the Orioles off balance and prevented them from making solid contact. He retired 11 batters n a row between Jones’ double in the first and Reynolds’ home run in the fifth. Garcia threw 56 out of 88 pitches for strikes (64%) and issued his first walk with two out in the sixth to Nick Markakis.

The Yankees’ shutdown troika of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera each pitched an inning of relief. Robertson, however, gave up his first home run of the season in the eight inning, a solo shot by J.J. Hardy.

But Rivera pitched a perfect ninth inning to record his 34th save in 39 opportunities this season. It also was the 593rd of his career and he trails all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman by only eight.

With the victory, the Yankees recorded their 80th win of the season against 52 losses. They are now within 1 1/2 games of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Orioles’ record fell to 53-79.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Garcia’s effort, on the heels of the exceptional outings by Bartolo Colon and Ivan Nova on Sunday, seems to have righted the Yankees’ rotation after some less than stellar efforts from Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. Garcia joins Nova and Sabathia as starters with at least 11 wins. In Garcia’s 20 starts this season, 16 of them have been quality starts. That is not bad for a free-agent signee originally tabbed to be the team’s No. 5 starter.
  • Swisher loves hitting at Camden Yards and against the Orioles in any park. In the series, Swisher was 4-for-13 (.308) with three home runs and five RBIs. He has hit six home runs in his last seven games. Since the All-Star break, Swisher is hitting .298 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs.
  • Teixeira’s double in the first drove in his 100th run. Only teammate Alex Rodriguez and St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols have current streaks of more consecutive seasons with at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. Rodriguez has done it in 13 straight seasons, but more than likely will not do it this season. Pujols has done it for 10 consecutive seasons and he needs 22 RBIs this season to make it 11.
  • Robertson’s home run he gave up to Hardy points up just how effective he has been this season. It was the first run he has given up on the road all season and it was the first home run Robertson has surrendered since Aug. 28 of last season. Robertson entered the game as the reliever with lowest ERA in the majors at 1.20. It went up some to 1.22 after Monday’s outing. Robertson did strike out two batters in the inning and he now has 81 on the season. That translates to an astounding 13.7 strikeouts per nine innings.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Nothing to really criticize in this game. Garcia was great, he got some run support and the bullpen did its thing minus Robertson’s oops homer to Hardy. He deserves a Mulligan because he been great all year.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees played the series finale without the left side of their infield. Alex Rodriguez was back in New York getting an MRI on his sprained left thumb on Monday and he could miss the the upcoming three-game series with the Red Sox. Manager Joe Girardi said the thumb injury needs time to heal and Rodriguez is day-to-day. Meanwhile, Derek Jeter sat out a second straight game after he fouled a ball off his right knee in the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday. But Jeter was moving around better and he could be ready to get back in the lineup on Tuesday.  . . . Both left-handers Damaso Marte and Pedro Feliciano have incurred setbacks in their rehabilitation in the Gulf Coast League and they will be shut down indefinitely. Both relievers will not pitch for the Yankees this season. Feliciano likely will have shoulder surgery that will shelve him for the entire 2012 season.

ON DECK

The Yankees open an important three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park beginning on Tuesday.

The Yankees will begin the series with ace lefty CC Sabathia (17-7, 2.99 ERA). Sabathia gave up three runs on seven hits and one walk in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision loss to Oakland on Aug. 24. The media has inundated us with Sabathia’s 2011 statistics against the Red Sox. He is looking for his first victory, suffice it to say. He is 6-9 with a 4.19 ERA against them lifetime.

The Red Sox will counter with overpaid free-agent flop John Lackey (12-9, 5.98 ERA). Lackey is 7-1 in his last nine starts and won his last start against the Rangers. But run support for Lackey was the key. He gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings. He is 8-8 with a 4.67 ERA in 21 starts against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by MY9.

Granderson Makes MVP Case At O’s’ Expense

GAME 131

YANKEES 8, ORIOLES 3

When reporters ask Curtis Granderson about his chances to win the home run title this season, he claims he has no chance because he really is not a home run hitter.

Well, on Sunday night all he did was hit a pair of home runs and drive in four runs to take the major-league lead in home runs and RBIs as part of a five homer barrage that gave rookie sensation Ivan Nova and New York the runs they needed to defeat Baltimore.

Granderson flashed his MVP credentials early with the Yankees trailing 2-0 in the third inning and Eric Chavez on second and Brett Gardner on first. Granderson ripped a 1-0 pitch from left-hander Brian Matusz and deposited it into the bleachers in right-centerfield to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

The home run was his 37th of the season, which tied him with Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the major-league lead in home runs. The three runs batted in broke a tie with Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez for the major-league lead in RBIs with 106.

Granderson hit a solo home run in the seventh inning off a second left-hander, Mark Hendrickson, for his 38th home run of the season and his 107th RBI. Many of the Yankee fans in the crowd of 37,528 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards erupted into chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP” as Granderson crossed the plate.

Nova (14-4) did not look sharp early in giving up a run in the first on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones in the first and an RBI double to rookie Ryan Adams in the second. The Orioles then touched him for a tying run in the third inning on another sac fly from Jones to score J.J. Hardy, who led off the inning with a ground-rule double and advanced to third on a groundout before Jones delivered the tying run.

The Yankees then continued to use the longball in the sixth inning against Matusz (1-7).

Mark Teixiera stroked a one-out single and Robinson Cano followed with his 23rd home run of the season to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead. But the Yankees did not stop there.

Nick Swisher chased Matusz from the game with his 20th home run of the season.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter called in Chris Jakubauskas to finish the inning and Andruw Jones greeted him with a tape-measure blast into the left-centerfield bleachers to give the Yankees a comfortable 7-3 lead.

Nova used that run support to pitch into the eighth inning without giving up any more runs to record his rookie-best 14th win and he extended his unbeaten streak to 11 games. Nova is 10-0 with a 3.52 ERA over that span and he has now won his last seven starts.

Nova was touched for seven hits and two walks and he fanned seven batters over seven innings before he landed into a bit of trouble in the eighth. Hardy led off the frame with a single and Nick Markakis drew a walk.

Manager Joe Girardi elected to call on right-hander David Robertson. Robertson has been sensational this season in escaping bases-loaded jams and he must have been chomping at the bit to show talent that off. He immediately gave up a sharp single to right to Adam Jones that loaded the bases with no outs.

But Robertson protected Nova’s 8-3 margin by striking out the next three batters  — Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds and Ryan — swinging. “Houdini” as the Yankees call Robertson did it again. Hector Noesi pitched a perfect ninth and the Yankees had themselves a victory they badly needed.

The Yankees remain two games in back of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East chase with a season mark of 79-52. The Orioles fell to 53-78, 28 games out a first in the basement of the division, again.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • There has been a lot of buzz lately about Granderson pushing his way to the top of the MVP race. In August alone, Granderson is hitting .313 with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs. Voters are also being swayed by his 121 runs scored with 31 games left to play and the fact he is leading the A.L. in triples (10) and he is playing an excellent defensive centerfield. Bautista’s candidacy is slipping because the Jays are not in the pennant chase. So that leaves Granderson and Gonzalez of Boston to battle it out in the last month.
  • Cano had his 17-game hitting streak snapped in the opener of the split-admission doubleheader. So he merely started over with two hits in the nightcap, including his 23rd home run. The two-run shot in the sixth also gave him 95 RBIs on the season, which is fourth best in the A.L. In fact, Granderson, Teixeira and Cano own the first, third and fourth spots, respectively.
  • Nova is growing into a place where he can be considered the second-best pitcher on the staff behind CC Sabathia. Nova, unhappy about the way he was pitching on Sunday, went down into the clubhouse between innings and noticed he was dropping his arm slot. He made the adjustment and from the fourth through the seventh innings, he gave up only one hit, which was immediately erased by a double play in the fourth, and a two-out walk in the fifth. Nova is making a late run at A.L. Rookie of the Year.
  • The three consecutive home runs by Cano, Swisher and Jones in the sixth was the first time the Yankees have accomplished it since May 20, 2009, when the Yankees did it, ironically, against the Orioles. That time Cano and Swisher also went deep along with Melky Cabrera.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Yankees can be a vexing team. In the first 20 innings of this truncated five-game series with Baltimore, they had been outscored 16-5 and shutout completely in the Sunday opener before they finally got their offense untracked. The Yankees losing four of their past five games cost them first place and two games to the Red Sox. When you are playing weak teams like Oakland and Baltimore you have to beat them. The Yankees did not do that and it cost them dearly.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees rested Alex Rodriguez in the second game of the doubleheader as they had planned. However, Derek Jeter also had to be scratched just before the game started because he sustained a bruised right knee in the first game by fouling a ball of his knee in the first game on Sunday. Rodriguez is being bother by a sprained left thumb he sustained in the first game he returned from the disabled list. Both may miss Monday;s finale with the Orioles.  . . .  The war of words in the wake of the Yankees’ frustration that the Orioles would not schedule a doubleheader on Friday knowing that Hurricane Irene would definitely wipe out Saturday’s game extended into Sunday. The Orioles are a lousy team and have been for some time with waning fan support. They look forward to big gates with a large contingent of Yankee fans when the Yankees come to town. The bottom line is they refused to schedule a Friday doubleheader because very few fans would have attended the Friday day game. So the Orioles are content in knowing they will make a few more bucks by dragging the Yankees back to play a one game on Sept. 8 before the Yankees are scheduled to fly to Los Angeles to begin a series on Sept. 9. So when you are not dealing with adults, it is hard to make logical arguments.

ON DECK

The Yankees complete their weekend babysitting the Orioles in their sandbox on Monday.

The Yankees will activate 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (10-7, 3.16 ERA) from the disabled list to make this start. Garcia has not pitched since Aug. 7 because he sliced his right index finger in a kitchen accident at his home. He is 5-7 with a 4.07 ERA in his career against the Orioles.

The Orioles will start right-hander Alfredo Simon (4-6, 4.30 ERA). Simon gave up only one run over eight innings in a victory over the Twins in his last start. He is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

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

 

Yankees Set Grand Slam Mark To Overcome A’s

GAME 128

YANKEES 22, ATHLETICS 9

Tick, tick, tick.

You could almost understand how badly Oakland manager Bob Melvin wanted to get his team to Boston on Thursday before the Yankees’ offense exploded.

Boom! Boom! Boom! Too late, Bob.

The Bronx Bombers, who lost the first two games of the series to the A’s and trailed 7-1 in the bottom of the fourth inning, lived up to their nickname by blasting a major-league record three grand slams in a game as they finally got tired of leaving runners on base and pounded Oakland in a wild and wacky game at Yankee Stadium.

After Russell Martin hit what seemed like a harmless solo home run in the fourth off A’s starter Rich Harden, Robinson Cano began the “slam-fest” by jerking a Harden 0-1 pitch into the bleachers in right-center in the fifth to bring the Yankees to within a run. After Nick Swisher doubled, Harden was removed after giving up six runs on 10 hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings.

Taking advantage of the wildness of lefty Craig Breslow and righty Fautine De Los Santos in the sixth, the Yankees again loaded the bases. Martin hit a 1-1 De Los Santos fastball to the opposite field on a line into the first row in the bleachers in right-center. Just like that the Yankees had turned what was a 7-1 deficit into a 10-7 lead. It was Martin’s fourth two-homer game of the season and it was his third career grand slam home run.

Martin, who began the day hitting .232, ended up with a career-best six RBIs and was a perfect 5-for-5 to raise his average to .243. The five hits were also a career best.

The Yankees continued to pour on runs in the seventh, sending 12 men to the plate and scoring six runs to extend their lead to 16-7. A’s rookie pitchers Jordan Norberto and Bruce Billings combined to give up three hits and walk seven batters in the inning.

An inning later, the Yankees scored another six runs, highlighted by Curtis Granderson’s bases-loaded shot to right-center off Billings that made baseball slam history. It was Granderson’s 36th home run of the season and his five RBIs in the game allowed him to overtake Boston’s Adrian Gonzlaez for the major-league top spot in RBIs with 103.

To add insult to further insult to the A’s, the next batter, Andruw Jones, belted a tape-measure home run deep into the second deck in left off reliever Brian Fuentes to complete the scoring for the Yankees.

The Yankees had opened the first two games of the series against the A’s by going a horrendous 2-for-23 (.087) with runners in scoring position, leading to a 6-5 loss on Tuesday and a 6-4 loss in 10 innings on Wednesday.

They even began this game as they did the first two games by leaving the bases loaded with only one out in the second and the fifth inning. On both occasions, it was Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter who failed to get a ball out of the infield to end the threats.

However, the Yankees parlayed 21 hits, a season-high 13 walks and a hit batsman to actually have 17 plate appearances with the bases loaded. They ended the game 10-for-21 (.467) with runners in scoring position.

It is good thing, too.

The game did not start well for Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes. Hughes did not have command of his fastball and he was lit up for a run in the first, a run in the second and he had given up a pair of runs in the third before he was removed with two on and two out. However, Cliff Pennington greeted reliever Cory Wade with a first-pitch home run to right to extend the A’s lead to seven.

Hughes gave up six runs on seven hits and no walks and fanned five in 2 2/3 innings. But the Yankees’ offense and the A’s generous relievers took Hughes off the hook.

Reliever Boone Logan (4-2), who faced four batters and fanned all four, was credited with the victory. De Los Santos (2-1), who won in relief on Wednesday, was tagged with the loss.

The game, which was delayed at the start by rain for an hour and 29 minutes, took four hours and 31 minutes to play in front of a sellout crowd of 46,389.

With the dramatic victory, the Yankees remain a game back in the American League East to the Boston Red Sox. Their season record is now 78-50. The A’s dropped to 59-71.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • After hitting .292 the first month and slumping for three months partially due to a back injury, Martin is having an August to remember. He is hitting a robust .318 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs. In May, June and July, Martin hit four home runs and drove in 21 runs. With the day of his career on Thursday, Martin has 17 home runs and 59 RBIs on the season.
  • Granderson is also having a mega-month in August. He is batting .321 with eight home runs and 25 RBIs. What’s more, Granderson scored four runs in Thursday’s game and he is laying waste to the field in the runs-scored category. Granderson now has scored major-league-best 119 runs. His next-closest competitor is Jose Bautista of Toronto with 93.
  • If you think Martin and Granderson are hot, how about Cano? Cano now has a 16-game hitting steak in which he is 24-for-68 (.353) with four home runs and 18 RBIs. Cano has raised his average to .304 and he has 22 home runs and 93 RBIs on the season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • With CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon struggling, Freddy Garcia on the disabled list and A.J. Burnett getting lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, the last thing the Yankees needed was a poor start from Hughes. Hughes entered the game with a 3-0 record and a 1.37 ERA in his last three starts. But he regressed badly in this start. The Yankees desperately need Hughes to pitch well down the stretch to have any hope of competing in the playoffs.
  • Jeter is having a great month. With his three hits on Thursday, he raised his season average to a more Jeter-like .299. However, Jeter had four at-bats with the bases loaded in the game and he failed to deliver a run in three of them. He hit a comebacker to Harden in the second for the third out. He grounded out to second in the fifth to end another inning. And in the eighth he struck out swinging for the second out just before Granderson’s record grand slam. Jeter left a total of nine men on base in the game. He did walk with bases loaded in the seventh.
  • Mark Teixeira was the only Yankee starter who did not have a hit in the game. He was 0-for-4 with two walks, he scored a run and drove in a run in the first inning on a groundout. Teixeira’s season average dropped to .246 and he is hitting .233 for the month. Teixeira is a career .282 hitter but he is gong to fall well below that mark this season.

ON DECK

The Yankees are in Baltimore to begin a five-game series over the next four days with the Orioles. However, Hurricane Irene is expected to disrupt the series with a day-night doubleheader scheduled for Saturday.

The Yankees will open the series on Friday with the Yankees’ version of baseball pinball, A,J. Burnett (9-10, 4.96 ERA). Burnett has tilted to the tune of a 1-4 record and a 6.93 ERA since June 29. He only lasted 1 2/3 innings in last start against the Twins on Saturday and left the game with some angry words directed at manager Joe Girardi. He is 12-5 with a 4.93 ERA against the Orioles in his career.

The Orioles will counter with newly acquired right-hander Tommy Hunter (1-1, 6.20 ERA). Hunter allowed six runs on 10 hits in 8 1/3 innings in a no-decision the Orioles lost 9-8 in 12 innings. Hunter is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

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

Nova Extinguishes Flames To Shut Out Twins

GAME 125

YANKEES 3, TWINS 0

For five innings the Twins and Yankees seemed to be not getting the whole ABC offense thing of (A) get them on, (B) get them over and (C) get them in. They each did OK on the A and B part but neither could pull the trigger on C.

Fortunately, for the Yankees, the Twins never did get it and the Yankees found a way to win utilizing some timely offense and geting great pitching from rookie right-hander Ivan Nova and their bullpen.

New York managed to shut out Minnesota at their home in Target Field on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 41,242 and a national television audience watching on TBS.

Nova (13-4) held the Twins hitless through three innings until Joe Mauer stroked a lined single to right with one out in the fourth. He was promptly erased in a double play.

But over the next three innings, the Twins kept mounting threats against Nova only to be stymied.

In the fifth, the Twins got a leadoff single from Jim Thome and Danny Valencia lofted a fly ball that dropped between and rolled past Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher for a double. Using his wicked slider, Nova was able to strike out Rene Tosoni and Matt Tolbert and Drew Butera rolled out to end the threat.

In the sixth, Mauer smashed a two-out single and Jason Kubel drew a walk. However, Nova shut the Twins down by striking out slugger Jim Thome.

In the seventh, Valencia opened the inning with a single to center. But Nova retired the next three batters on flyball outs.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could not seem to get a big hit when they needed it off starter Nick Blackburn or reliever Anthony Swarzak.

In the first inning, Jeter led off with an infield single and reached second on a passed ball by Butera. Curtis Granderson then drew a walk. However, Mark Teixeira rolled into a double play and Alex Rodriguez, playing in his first game since before the All-Star break due to right knee surgery, bounced out to short.

In he next inning, with one out Blackburn walked Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner in succession to load the bases. On the final pitch to Gardner ,Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and the Twins’ trainer sprinted to the mound and Blackburn left the game with what was termed a lateral forearm strain.

Swarzak entered the game and promptly struck out Eduardo Nunez and Jeter lined out to end that threat.

The Yankees then did not get a hit or walk off Swarzak over the next two innings but they did load the bases with two out in the fifth off left-handed reliever Phil Dumatrait. However, Dumatrait was able to get Rodriguez to pop up weakly to end that threat.

Through five innings, the Yankees were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and they had left seven runners on base, including two innings in which they left the bases loaded.

But the Twins ran out of miracles in the sixth. Robinson Cano lashed an opposite-field double to start the inning. Swisher hit a long fly ball to left that Tosoni caught but Cano was able to tag up and reach third. Cano then scored on a sacrifice line drive smash to center by Russell Martin, his fourth RBI in the three games he played in the series.

The Yankees padded the lead in the next inning by using some fast legs and powerful wrists.

Facing reliever Jose Mijares with one out, Granderson stroked a lined shot off the very top of the wall in right-center and the ball rolled back towards the infield between center-fielder Ben Revere and right-fielder Jason Kubel. By the time Revere got on his horse to retrieve the ball and relayed a throw to Trevor Plouffe, Granderson was heading for home plate. Granderson beat the throw from Plouffe and the tag of Butera for an inside-the-park home run. It was Granderson 35th home run of the season and the third inside-the-park home run of his career.

Teixeira followed with his 34th home run of the season. This one was the traditional over-the-fence kind that landed in the left-field bleachers.

The Yankees protected that 3-0 margin with Nova and bullpen. Nova pitched seven innings and gave up only five hits and one walk and he fanned five batters for his ninth victory in his last 10 starts. He is 9-0 with a 3.48 ERA in those starts. Since his demotion to Triple-A in July, Nova is 5-0 with a 3.55 ERA.

David Robertson continued the Twins’ offensive frustration in the eighth. Robertson gave up singles to Revere and Mauer (Mauer’s third hit of the game) sandwiched by a strikeout. After fanning Kubel for the second out, Robertson walked Thome to load the bases. However, Robertson, who is called “Houdini” by his teammates because of how he escapes bases-loaded jams, got Valencia to hit a routine fly ball that Swisher caught in medium right to end yet another threat.

The Twins left nine runners on and they were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on the day.

Mariano Rivera was called upon to close out the game out and he did that by pitching a perfect ninth. He fanned the last two batters to collect his 33rd save in 38 chances and No. 592 in his career.

With the victory, the Yankees’ record improved to 77-48 and they also maintained their half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Twins lost three of the four games in the series and fell to 55-71 on the season.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Martin had a good series offensively and defensively. He was 4-for-10 with two home runs and four RBIs. He was 1-for-2 on Sunday with walk, a single and his sac fly scored what was the eventual winning run. Martin also played exceptional defense behind the plate. He called good games for Hughes and Nova, deterred the Twins on the bases and blocked balls in the dirt that saved runs from scoring. Martin stopped two balls in the dirt for Nova with a runner on third in the fifth inning on Sunday. Martin won a Gold Glove in the National League with the Dodgers in 2007.
  • Granderson’s fast feet set him apart from the other candidates for A.L. Most Valuable Player and he showed that skill off on Sunday with his inside-the-park home run. That home run ties him with Toronto’s Jose Bautista for the major-league lead in homers. Despite going 0-for-4 on Saturday, Granderson was 6-for-16 (.375) in the series with a home run and three RBIs. Granderson is tied with Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder for the major-league lead in RBIs with 98.
  • Teixiera’s home run was his second in the series and he also pulled into second place in the American League to Granderson in RBIs with 95. Cano is fourth with 87. Teixiera was 5-for-12 (.417) in the series with two home runs and six RBIs.
  • Nova is pitching far beyond what anyone expected from a 24-year-old rookie. To be sure, Nova has received a lot of run support in his starts. But on Sunday he proved he could win games without it. He pitched five innings of a scoreless game, an inning with a one-run cushion and one with a 3-0 lead. Four of his five strikeouts in the game came with runners in scoring position. That tells you all you need to know about Nova. He is very quietly pitching himself into position to start in the playoffs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • In four previous times in which he played his first game coming off the disabled list, Rodriguez had homered in the game. On three occasions, it came in his first at-bat. But that did not happen on Sunday. A-Rod was 0-for-5 and he committed a misplay in the field, though it was not scored an error. To his credit he did make a great play in scooping a bunt attempt by Revere and barely nipping him at first in the sixth inning.
  • Teixeira’s double play grounder in the first and Nunez’ strikeout with the bases loaded in the second really set the early tone in the game. It truly looked as if the Yankees would not score a run because they kept shooting themselves in the foot. They did finish the game 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and they left 10 runners on base.
  • It is amazing how Robertson is able to load the bases and escape without giving up a run. However, there is nothing wrong with 1-2-3 innings. As it is, Robertson threw 27 pitches in the inning. It is a good thing the Yankees do not play on Monday because Robertson likely would be unavailable to pitch.

BOMBER BANTER

Manager Joe Girardi try to play down the incident between A.J. Burnett and himself that occurred when Burnett was removed from Saturday’s game after only 1 2/3 innings. Burnett shouted an obscenity at Girardi as he left the mound and later Girardi and Burnett both disappeared down the dugout tunnel. Girardi insisted there was no riff and he did hear Burnett say anything after he left the mound. He also said the two did not cross paths in the clubhouse. But Burnett appears to be on very thin ice of being the odd sixth man in what will be a five-man rotation. Burnett gave up seven runs on five hits and three walks in his short stint on Saturday. In addition, Burnett has won only one of his his last nine starts dating back to July 4. In those outings, Burnett is 1-4 with a 6.93 ERA. He was 10-15 with a career-high 5.26 ERA in 2010. To say that the Yankees made a mistake giving Burnett an $82 million contract in 2009 is an understatement.  . . .  When the Yankees activated Rodriguez from the disabled list they sent down left-hander Aaron Laffey to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Laffey made his debut with the Yankees on Saturday and gave up two runs on five hits in three innings.

ON DECK

Off winning three out of four from the Twins and posting a 5-2 road trip, the Yankees will get a day off on Monday. They will host the Oakland Athletics in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium starting on Tuesday.

The Yankees will open the series with right-hander Bartolo Colon (8-7, 3.54 ERA). Colon lost his first start since July 19 as he allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks in five innings against Kansas City. He is 0-1 with a 5.17 ERA in August. He is 8-4 with a 2.80 ERA against Oakland in his career . Two of those wins came in his two starts against them season, including a May 30 complete-game, four-hit shutout in Oakland.

The A’s will counter with Brandon McCarthy (6-6, 3.74 ERA). McCarthy gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks in five innings in a victory against Baltimore in his last start. He is 1-0 with a 7.36 ERA lifetime against the Yankees He has not faced them this season.

Game-time will be at 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by MY9.

 

Martin’s Bat, Hughes’ Arm Muzzle Poor Twins

GAME 123

YANKEES 8, TWINS 1

Watching the Twins play the Yankees the past few years is like watching the Washington Generals play the Harlem Globetrotters. You just knew Meadowlark Lemon would always get the best of that bald, fat guy trying to grab the basketball from him.

At Target Field, on a picturesque Midwest Friday evening, the same kind of scenario played out.

Phil Hughes (4-4) pitched 7 2/3 innings of dominant one-run and two-hit baseball, Russell Martin hit two home runs and Martin and Mark Teixeira drove in three runs apiece as New York best Minnesota for the 21st time in their last 24 meetings since the beginning of the 2009 season.

Hughes gave up a solo home run to Trevor Plouffe, the second batter he faced, in the first inning and then he silenced the Twins bats so soundly that could you practically hear the crickets over the 41,328 people in attendance. After Hughes issued a leadoff walk to Jason Kubel in the third inning, he retired 14 Twins in a row.

The Twins managed a Plouffe leadoff walk in the seventh and they actually added another runner when Kubel walked with two out in the inning. But Hughes escaped any damage by inducing Danny Valencia to ground into a forceout.

The Twins did manage a second hit by Luke Hughes with one out in the eighth, but Yankee right-hander — with relief help from Boone Logan — left the game having walked three and striking out two. Hughes threw 70 of his 106 pitches for strikes, a rate of 66 percent. In his last three starts, Hughes is 3-0 with a 1.37 ERA.

He and A.J. Burnett both have been rumored to be candidates to move to the bullpen because the Yankees have six starters and they prefer a five-man rotation. But Hughes served notice on Friday that he not only should stay in the rotation, he might be the Yankees’ best choice for a No. 2 starter.

Meanwhile, after trailing 1-0 early to the Twins, the Yankees began their assault on Twins starter Kevin Slowey (0-1) in the third inning of what was Slowey’s first start of the season.

Martin opened the inning by swatting the first pitch from Slowey down the left-field line and into the first row of the bleachers, the ball avoiding a leaping attempt at the wall by left-fielder Rene Tosoni.

The Yankees added another run in the fourth on a bloop leadoff double by Teixeira and a lined RBI double off the wall in right-center by Robinson Cano.

The Yankees added a pair of runs in the fifth on a double by Granderson that drove in Brett Gardner with Granderson’s major-league-leading 96th RBI of the season. Teixeira followed with a sacrifice fly to left that Derek Jeter scored upon by narrowly evading a good throw by Tosoni and a lunging tag by catcher Joe Mauer.

The Yankees broke the game wide open in the fifth and chased Slowey from the game when Martin followed a Jorge Posada’s two-out single with another home run, this one to deep into the bleachers in straightway left. It was his 15th home run of the season. The two-home run game was the fourth of Martin’s career and his third such game with the Yankees this season.

Slowey ended up giving up six runs on nine hits and one walk and struck out four batters over 5 2/3 innings. In their last two games, the Yankees have scored 12 runs on 19 hits and two walks in 10 2/3 innings against the Twins two starters in the series — Brian Duensing and Slowey.

The Yankees tacked on a pair of runs in the ninth off reliever Anthony Swarzak on leadoff infield single by Jeter, a walk to Granderson and two-run double down the right-field line by Teixeira.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to an American League-best 76-47 and they maintained their half-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in the A.L. East. The hapless Twins stumbled to a mark of 54-70.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Martin continues to excel after he gets a day off. Nine of his home runs have come in games after he was rested. His 3-for-4 evening (He also singled in the fifth) raised his season average to .232. He now has 15 home runs and 52 RBIs on the season. After hitting .292 in April, Martin slumped to hit .200 in May, .185 in June and .213 in July. But Martin is hitting a solid .269 in August and he seems to have put his toe and back injuries behind him.
  • In his two games against the Twins at Target Field, Teixeira is 4-for-7 with a home run and three doubles and he has driven in five runs. The RBI spurt leaves in third place in the majors with 94, two behind Gramderson and one behind Phillies slugger Ryan Howard.
  • Granderson had another one of his stellar all-around games. He was 2-for-3 with a double, a single, two walks, a run scored and an RBI. He even stole his 23rd base of the season, which puts him in 10th place in the American League. Granderson is by far the Yankees’ Most Valuable Player of 2011. He also might take home league honors if he keeps up his current pace. In his last 10 games, Granderson is hitting an unbelievable .395 with six home runs and 10 RBIs.
  • Hughes appears to have kept his spot in the rotation on the basis of what how has pitched in his last three starts. Though it would be nice to have Hughes in a bullpen that already includes David Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera, he is more valuable as the No. 2 starter on this team with the playoffs looming.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Eric Chavez was 0-for-5 with two srikeouts but that would be nitpicking. This was a good win for the Yankees because it combined great pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees decided on Friday to place right-hander Freddy Garcia on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 8 and claimed left-hander Aaron Laffey on waivers from the Mariners and he will be activated on Saturday. To make room on the 40-man roster for Laffey, the Yankees designated veteran catcher Gustavo Molina for assignment. Garcia sliced a finger on his right hand at his home last week and he was unable to throw his split-finger fastball effectively enough to make a start this weekend. Instead, Garcia will throw a rehab start on Monday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and the Yankees hope the 34-year-old right-hander will be able to make a start next Saturday in one of the day-night doubleheader games scheduled against the Orioles.  . . .  Alex Rodriguez is ready to play this weekend but it likely will be on Sunday. Rodriguez ended a minor-league rehab stint and returned to the Yankees on Thursday. However, the Yankees want Rodriguez to continue his workouts to strengthen his knee and improve his conditioning. Rodriguez has been out since undergoing surgery on July 11 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

ON DECK

The Yankees have already clinched at least a split in their four-game series with the Twins. They can win the series on Saturday.

The Yankees will call on right-hander A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.61). The walking enigma actually won his last start, his first August victory in three years with the Yankees. Burnett gave up 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings but allowed only three runs while walking one and striking out one. Burnett, howver, has had some success against the Twins. He is 4-1 with a 3.20 ERA in his career.

The Twins are countering with left-hander Francisco Liriano (8-9, 5.12 ERA). He is the Twins’ enigma. Liriano won his last start but he gave up five runs on nine hits over six innings. He is 0-3 with a 3.77 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

CC Wins No. 17 As Yankees Power Past Twins

GAME 122

YANKEES 8, TWINS 4

CC Sabathia came to Target Field on Thursday to get his pitches back on target.

After the first two innings it looked as if he hadn’t. But the ace left-hander settled down and he left the game after seven innings with a lead to pick up his 17th victory as New York defeated Minnesota.

Sabathia, who entered the game having given up 12 runs over 14 innings in his last two starts, was handed an early 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Brett Gardner sacrifice fly. However, Sabathia handed it right back to the Twins by giving up two runs in the second.

Up to that point Sabathia had been tagged for four hits and a walk. It could have been even worse if a first-inning home run call in favor of Justin Morneau had not been reversed by the umpiring crew on replay as a foul ball. Joe Mauer was on first and it would have been a two-run home run if the call had stood.

But home-plate umpire Brian O’Nora reviewed the call, determined the ball was foul and sent Mauer back to first. Twins manager Ron Gardnehire immediately argued the reversal and O’Nora ejected him from the game. It is the second straight night the Yankees have been involved in controversial home run reviewed by the umpires.

Sabathia (17-7) settled down to retire the last two batters in the second and then 12 of the next 15 batters he faced before he was touched for two runs in the seventh inning. Sabathia ended up surrendering four runs (three earned) on nine hits and a walk and he fanned nine batters.

The Yankees, meanwhile, were much more effective in roughing up Twins left-hander Brian Duensing (8-12).

They reclaimed the 1-0 lead Sabthia gave up in the second when Curtis Granderson led off the third inning with a triple to left-center. He scored when Mark Teixeira blasted his 33rd home run of the season into the left-field bleachers.

The Yankees then again used the long ball to extend their lead in the fifth. Teixera opened the inning with a double down the left-field line. One out later, Nick Swisher blasted his 15th home run of the season into the left-field seats. Andruw Jones followed that with a titanic solo shot, his eighth of the season, into the second deck in the left-field bleachers to give the Yankees a 6-2 edge.

Duensing gave up six runs on 10 hits and a walk and fanned one over five innings.

Sabathia opened the seventh by giving up a single Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Drew Butera moved Nishioka to third with a single to left. Ben Revere plated Nishioka with a single to right and then Eduardo Nunez botched an infield grounder by Trevor Plouffe to load the bases with no outs.

Sabathia gave up a sac fly to Mauer that scored Butera and drew the Twins to within two runs. However, Morneau flew out to right and Robinson Cano saved Sabathia a run — and possibly the game — by making a diving stop of Jim Thome’s hard-hit grounder. Cano was playing deep but had to dive headlong to stop the ball. He got up and threw out Thome to end the Twins’ threat.

The Yankees tacked on two runs in the ninth off reliever Matt Capps. Capps entered the game with two outs in the inning and walked Jones. Nunez doubled to left-center to advance Jones to third. Francisco Cervelli then hit a 2-2 pitch down the line and off third baseman Danny Valencia’s glove to score Jones and Nunez to pad the Yankees’ lead to four.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 75-47 and they maintained their half-game lead in the American League East over the Boston Red Sox. The Twins fell to 54-69.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira reached base four times with a home run, a double and two walks. His home run drew him to within one of teammate Curtis Granderson for second place in the major leagues at 34. Teixeira’s two RBIs on the night give him 91 for the season. Teixeira has not failed to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs in a season since his rookie season in 2003. With nine more RBIs he will have eight straight seasons of hitting those benchmarks.
  • Swisher’s home run was his first since he hit a home run in each part of a day-night doubleheader against the Orioles on July 30. Though Swisher hit a robust .323 in July, He has cooled off considerably in August, hitting .263 with one home run and five RBIs.
  • Granderson was 3-for-5 in the game with a triple and two singles. He also scored his major-league-leading 112th run. He also leads the American League in triples with 10. But Granderson also displayed some fielding prowess with two outfield assists in the first two innings. In the first he cut off a drive in left-center by Plouffe and threw Plouffe out at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. The next inning Granderson had a line drive off the bat of Butera hit off the bottom of his glove, which scored the Twins’ second run of the inning. But, Granderson picked up the ball and fired to Derek Jeter to retire Nishioka, who ran back to first thinking Granderson had caught the ball. Butera was robbed of a hit because the play was scored a fielder’s choice.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Despite Sabathia’s victory, he did not pitch well for the third straight game. In his last three starts, Sabathia has given up 16 runs (15 earned) on 29 hits and two walks in 22 innings. That is an ERA of 6.14 and a walks-to-innings-pitched ratio (WHIP) of 1.41. Command of the fastball seems to be biggest issue. Sabathia is leaving pitches up in the strike zone or missing altogether. It is a concern because the Yankees have just 40 games left in the regular season.
  • Gardner was the only starter without a hit in the game but he did contribute the sac fly in the second that started the scoring for the Yankees. Though he is hitting .295 for the month, Gardner is suddenly hitless in his last nine at-bats.
  • Nunez made yet another error. This one was pretty inexplicable. He caught the bouncer off the bat of Plouffe but dropped the ball as he moved to third to force out Butera. It is his 16th error of the season and he leads the Yankees by far in that category.

BOMBER BANTER

Former Yankee manager and current executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre said Thursday that an umpire misinterpreted the ground rules at Kauffman Stadium in awarding a home run to Billy Butler of the Royals the previous nigh in a game against the Yankees. Butler lined a ball that hit off the left-field wall and was ruled a home run. Girardi disputed the home run and the umpires reviewed the call by use of instant replay. But crew chief Dana DeMuth misunderstood the ground rules in awarding the home run to Kansas City, who ended up winning the game 5-4. Girardi did not protest the game before a pitch was made to the next batter and therefore the call will stand, Torre said. Of course, had Girardi protested the game it still would be a moot point and the Yankees would have just received an apology letter from Major League Baseball.  . . .   Freddy Garcia had his bullpen session pushed back a day to Friday. Garcia, who has a cut on a finger of his right hand, will throw on Friday and it is looking unlikely he will be able to start in the series against the Twins this weekend.  . . .  Alex Rodriguez rejoined the Yankees on Thursday but he was not activated and looks as if he will not play until at least Saturday. Rodriguez has been sidelined since having surgery on July 11 to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

ON DECK

The Yankees continue their four-game series with the Twins on Friday.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-4, 6.55 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Hughes pitched his best game of the season against the Rays last week, allowing two runs in six innings. He is 3-3 with a 4.28 ERA since returning from the disabled list in July. He is 0-0 with a 3.68 ERA in his career against the Twins.

The Twins will counter with right-hander Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91 ERA). Slowey will be making his first start of season because his scheduled start Sunday against the Indians was rained out. He is 1-1 with a 4.56 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

Game-time will be at 8:10 p.m EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Cano’s Blast Dethrones Royals As Yanks Take 1st

GAME 120

YANKEES 9, ROYALS 7

Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball.

Three-run home run.

Twelve pitches from Royals left-hander Danny Duffy pretty much summed up what the Yankees do to pitchers. Robinson Cano simply took advantage of a mistake on the 12th delivery and he sent the ball careening into the fountains in right-center that broke a 5-5 tie and gave the Yankees a hard-fought victory at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night.

Duffy, 22, began the fourth inning having just been handed a 5-3 lead by the Royals.

Brett Gardner opened the frame with a bunt single. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI double to left. Curtis Granderson bunted weakly and Royals catcher Salvador Perez was not able to get Jeter sliding into third. Mark Teixeira followed with a lined single to right to score Jeter with the tying run.

Duffy, who had thrown 78 pitches and recorded only nine outs in his first meeting with the Yankees, really got a major-league education from Cano.

Duffy fell behind in the count 3-1 and was forced to come in with a strike or walk the bases loaded. Cano then fouled off seven consecutive pitches in a grueling, mano-on-chico battle. On pitch No. 90 of the game, Duffy tried a backdoor slider but the pitch was up and caught too much of the plate. Cano swung and, the next thing Duffy knew, Cano was rounding the bases and Duffy was being removed from the game.

The Yankees, though they did not get a very good effort from their starter Ivan Nova (12-4), held on the rest of the way to defeat the Royals and claim first place in the American League East from the Boston Red Sox, who split their day-night doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.

Nova was unable to command his pitches and he was hit hard for the second time this season by the Royals. He won despite giving up seven runs on eight hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings. On May 12, Nova gave up eight runs (four earned) on 10 hits and two walks in three innings against the Royals. Nova was 8-1 with a 3.50 ERA since that game at Yankee Stadium.

But the Yankees were able to get to Duffy for eight runs on eight hits, two walks, two hit batters and Duffy fanned three in three-plus innings.

The New York bullpen, which leads the American League in ERA, once again bailed out Nova and the Yankees. Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera pitched 3 2/3 perfect innings to keep the Royals off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

Rivera pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two batters, to earn his 32nd save of the season and the 591st of his career. He needs only 11 saves to pass Trevor Hoffman as the all-time saves leader in the major leagues.

The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 73-44. They are a half-game in front of the Red Sox. The Royals fell to 50-73.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and he is officially on a red-hot tear. He has at least one hit in his last eight games, in which he is 15-for-35 (.429) with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He is hitting .386 for the month and he has raised his season average to .306 with 21 home runs and 85 RBIs.
  • Teixeira saved Nova and the Yankees with another one of his Gold Glove-worthy plays in the bottom of the sixth. Boone Logan had come in to relieve Nova after the 24-year-old right-hander had given up a one-out two-run double to Perez that drew the feisty young Royals to within one run at 8-7. Logan struck out Mike Moustakas for the second out but Alcides Escobar sliced a hard grounder down the first-base line. However, Teixeira dove backwards and to his left to stop the ball, he got up and ran to tag first to end the inning and keep the Yankees ahead.
  • Jeter continued his hot hitting with a 2-for-5 night, including an RBI double and an RBI single. In his two games against the Royals, Jeter is 5-for-10 with two runs scored and five RBIs. He has a modest five-game hitting streak but he is he is 11-for-22 in that stretch and he has raised his season average to a season-high .283.
  • Gardner is also red hot. He was 2-for-5 on Tuesday with a bunt single and a triple and he scored two runs. In his last five games, he is 8-for-18 (.444).

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Nova was just not Nova from the first inning on. Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francouer tagged him for RBI singles in the first. After the Yankees had reclaimed the lead at 3-2 in the third, Nova handed it back by giving up three runs in the bottom of the inning. It included an RBI groundout by Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera’s 16th home run of the season and an RBI double by Francouer. Despite the fact Nova did not pitch well, he did win the game and he leads all rookie pitchers in the majors in wins and win percentage.
  • Designated hitter Andruw Jones was the only Yankee starter without a hit in the game. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Jones’ season average slipped to .240.
  • Though he contributed a two-run bases-loaded single in the third inning and a walk, Russell Martin looked dreadful in his three other at-bats. He struck out looking once and swinging twice. He struck out in the eighth inning against Greg Holland on a awkward half-swing on a 1-2 pitch that was out of the strike zone. This the reason why Martin is still hitting .226 on the season.

BOMBER BANTER

Alex Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a single in the six innings of a rehab game he played on Tuesday night for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the Durham Bulls. Rodriguez singled in his first at-bat and played all six innings at third base. Rodriguez, who is rehabbing from July 11 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, is expected to play one more game with Scranton and then rejoin the Yankees on Thursday in Minneapolis for a four-game series against the Twins.  . . .  Starter Freddy Garcia, nursing a cut on a finger on his right hand, threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. However, Garcia did not throw his split-finger fastball to avoid aggravating the cut. The Yankees have him scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Thursday in hopes he can make a start either Saturday or Sunday.

ON DECK

The Yankees will go for a three-game series series sweep of the Royals on Wednesday.

Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.31 ERA) will get the start for the Bombers. Colon held the Angels to two runs on five hits in six innings and he is undefeated over his last four starts with a 3.18 ERA. He has not faced the Royals this season but is 13-7 against them in his career.

The Royals will counter with a change-up tossing lefty in Bruce Chen (7-5, 4.15 ERA). Chen held the White Sox to one hit and no runs over six innings in his last outing on Friday. He has not faced the Yankees this season but he is 1-5 with a 6.71 ERA lifetime against them.

Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Gardner, Jeter Clear Tables As Yankees Sink K.C.

GAME 119

YANKEES 7, ROYALS 4

The Yankees’ table-setters took things in their own hands on Monday and cleared the tables themselves.

Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter, who hit one and two in the order, combined for five hits and drove in five runs to lead New York to victory over Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.

They also handed starter A.J. Burnett (9-9) his first victory in August with the Yankees in 13 starts and pulled the Yankees into a first-place tie with the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

Gardner and Jeter had actually combined to give Burnett an early 2-0 lead in the second inning when they each smacked two-out RBI singles off Royals starter and loser Felipe Paulino (1-9).

However, the Royals struck back in the fifth inning off Burnett when they strung together three consecutive one-out singles. Former Yankee Melky Cabrera battled Burnett from 0-2 count into a full count before drawing a bases-loaded walk to bring in the first Kansas City run. Billy Butler then laced an opposite-field two-run single to give the Royals a 3-2 lead.

Burnett wiggled off the hook with the help of a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Eric Hosmer that Robinson Cano turned into an acrobatic inning-ending double play.

The Yankees then went back to work on Paulino.

With one out, Jorge Posada singled to left and Russell Martin followed with a single to right. Gardner then hit a high-hopper over Hosmer’s head at first that scored Posada to tie the game at 3-3. Jeter then followed by lacing triple into the gap in right-center that scored Martin and Gardner.

Paulino’s night was over. He gave up a season-high five runs on eight hits and a season-high five walks and fanned four in 5 1/3 innings.

Burnett, meanwhile, gave up three runs on 10 hits and one walk and struck out in 5 2/3 innings.

The Yankees tacked on a run in the seventh inning on a two-out pinch-hit RBI single by Andruw Jones that looked like a routine grounder but the ball hit second base and rolled into center to score Cano. They added another run in the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Mark Teixeira that scored Jeter from second base.

Meanwhile, the Yankees bullpen of Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera preserved the Yankees’ lead the rest of the way, although Soriano surrendered the first run he has given since being activated from the disabled list in the seventh inning.

Rivera pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 31st save of the season and the 590th of his career.

The Yankees’ season record stands at 73-46. The Royals fell to 50-72.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Jeter was 3-for-4 with two singles and a triple, a stolen base, a run scored and three RBIs. In his last nine games, Jeter is 12-for-36 (.333) with five runs scored and six RBIs. His three hits on Monday also raised his batting average to a season-high .283. Jeter is also hitting. 388 in August.
  • Gardner was on base in three of his five plate appearances with two singles, a run scored and two RBIs. He also nearly scored another run on a errant pitch but was tagged out at the plate on a dive by Royals catcher Salvadore Perez to end a bases loaded threat. Since Aug. 3, Gardner is 15-for-41 (.366) with a home run, three RBIs and nine runs scored. Gardner has an on-base perecentage of .418 in the month of August.
  • Rivera looked like himself again after being scored upon in his last three appearances. He was back to the same old nasty cutter-throwing right-hander who breaks bats and strikes out hitters looking. He needed only 13 pitches to dispatch the Royals for his 31st save. Rivera needs only 11 saves to tie and 12 saves to break the mark of 601 career saves by Trevor Hoffman, the current all-time saves leader.
  • Cano had two hits in the game and raised his season average to .305. But Cano’s biggest contribution to the Yankees was his defense. He ranged all over the outfield to catch two fly-ball outs, one extending into foul territory in right. He also was part of two key double plays that ended Royals’ threats. The second one in the fifth ended the inning when he ranged far to his left to stop Hosmer’s hard-hit ground ball. Cano spun 180 degrees while in the air and hit Jeter right at the chest with a perfect throw that resulted in a huge double play that ended K.C.’s three-run rally.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • By almost any measure, Burnett’s outing was not very good. He gave up thee consecutive singles in the second inning, two consecutive singles in the fourth and he hit a stretch in the fifth in which he gave up three hits, walked in a run and a two-run single. He walked only one batter but that was a huge one and he ended up giving up 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He was very lucky the Yankees’ defense kept him out of further trouble.
  • Eric Chavez did not have a very good night at all. He was 0-for-5, he did not get a ball out of the infield and he struck out three times. Chavez’ batting average dipped to .276 on the season.
  • Though he did walk twice, Curtis Granderson was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Granderson has now struck out 128 times this season, which ties him with trade-mate Austin Jackson of Detroit for second in the American League behind Mark Reynolds of Baltimore with 140.

BOMBER BANTER

Alex Rodriguez will play for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday and Wednesday to complete his minor-league rehab and he hopes to be able to join the Yankees on Thursday in Minneapolis to begin a four-game series against the Minnesota Twins. Rodriguez is recovering from a July 11 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in right knee.  . . .  Freddy Garcia hopes to be able to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday but it is unclear if the veteran right-hander will be able to make his next scheduled start on Friday. Garcia had to be scratched from a start on Sunday, though that game was eventually rained out, because of a cut on a finger on right hand. The cut prevents Garcia from throwing his split-finger fastball.

ON DECK

The Yankees can grab a quick win of the three-game series with a victory against the Royals on Tuesday.

The Yankees will send to the mound rookie right-hander Ivan Nova (11-4, 3.85 ERA). Nova is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his three starts since being recalled from Triple-A. He also has not lost in his last eight major-league starts. However, the Royals did beat him on May 12 in Yankee Stadium. He is 0-1 with a ERA of 12.00 against them.

The Royals are throwing a rookie of their own in left-hander Danny Duffy (3-6, 4.97 ERA). Duffy pitched seven effective innings in last Thursday’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. It is only the third time Duffy has lasted seven innings in his 15 starts. He has never faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by MY9.

 

Posada Unleashes Torrent Of Anger On Poor Rays


“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

                                                                 – Dylan Thomas

GAME 118

YANKEES 9, RAYS 2

For Jorge Posada, the 2011 season has been a season-long battle with Father Time and trying to staunch the obvious erosion of his once considerable skills.

But on Saturday, after five games of watching his teammates from the bench without a defined role anymore, Posada got a chance to start at designated hitter and he ended up with three hits including a grand slam home run and six RBIs as New York crushed Tampa Bay in front of a national TV audience.

Posada, who will turn 40 on Wednesday and who is in the final year of what likely will be his last contract with the Yankees, was removed from his left-hand-hitting DH role last Sunday in favor of Eric Chavez. Posada, a switch-hitter, had been removed as the right-hand-hitting DH in May for Andruw Jones because he is hitting .102 against left-handers this season.

But a highly motivated Posada showed manager Joe Girardi and a crowd of 47,804 at Yankee Stadium that he may not quite be done yet.

In the second inning of a scoreless game, Posada came to the plate to a standing ovation with the bases loaded and one out against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson. He stepped in with only one hit in his last 13 at-bats. He smashed a 1-0 fastball into right-field for a single to drive in Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano. That hit gave the Yankees a lead they never relinquished throughout the contest.

The Yankees erupted for five runs in the fifth and chased Hellickson from the game.

Curtis Granderson started it off with a leadoff home run, his 33rd of the season, which ties him with Jose Bautista of Toronto for the major-league lead. After one out, Cano doubled to the wall in right to end the day for Hellickson (10-8).

Nick Swisher and Chavez drew walks from right-hand reliever Brandon Gomes. That brought Posada up with the bases loaded and one out for the second time in the game.

The veteran looked for and got a 2-0 fastball from Gomes and he launched it into bleachers in right-center for his 10th career grand slam, which passed Yankee legends Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle for fifth on the all-time Yankee list. The fans in the stadium stood on their feet and erupted with thunderous applause until Posada came out of the Yankee dugout for a curtain call.

Meanwhile, on the mound, a teammate who also did not have a clear long-term role with the team, was pitching to become a part of the Yankees’ five-man rotation. Phil Hughes entered the game 2-4 with a 7.11 ERA but was 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. He needed to pitch well or he would lose the spot to A.J. Burnett, who is winless in his last seven starts and has an ERA of 6.00 over that stretch.

Hughes (3-4) pitched brilliantly over the first five innings and he ended up giving up two runs on four hits and one walk and he struck six batters in six innings. He gave up a solo home run to Desmond Jennings and Johnny Damon followed with a triple. Damon scored an out later on a infield ground ball to Teixeira off the bat of Ben Zobrist.

It would be pretty hard to banish Hughes to the bullpen with a 2.00 ERA over his last three starts and 13 strikeouts over 18 innings. But Burnett has only made one relief appearance since 2008 while Hughes was the setup man for Mariano Rivera in the second half of 2009 when the Yankees went on to win their 27th world championship.

However, Freddy Garcia may have accidently solved the problem for now. The Yankees announced that Garcia will not make his scheduled start on Sunday against the Rays because of a cut he has on a finger on his right hand that he sustained earlier in the week in a kitchen mishap. The cut is deep, Girardi said, it affects Garcia’s grip on his split-finger fastball. He will miss at least one start.

With the Yankees’ victory they improved their season ledger to 72-45 and they are a game behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. More importantly, the Rays’ loss drops them 8 1/2 games in back of the Yankees in the wild-card chase. The Rays are 64-55.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Posada was 3-for-5 with two singles, a home run, a run scored and six RBIs. Posada is a career .326 hitter with the bases loaded and he improved that with his two big hits today. Posada refused to criticize Girardi for his decision to replace him as the team’s DH against right-handers last Sunday. Posada said it was his poor hitting that placed him into the situation that he was in. After hitting .382 in June, Posada slumped to hit .217 in July and he was hitting .167 in August until Saturday’s game. Posada likely will get another start at DH on Sunday against Rays right-hander James Shields.
  • Granderson’s magical season continues. Granderson has now hit five homers in his last five games. With his home run in his third at-bat on Saturday, he had homered five times in his last 19 at-bats. He is tied for first in the majors in home runs with 33, he is first in the majors in RBIs with 94 and he is first in the majors by a margin of 23 runs in runs scored with 106. He has scored seven runs and driven in eight in his last fives games.
  • Hughes pitched probably his best game since coming off the disabled list in July. He gave up a two-out double to B.J. Upton in the second inning and a leadoff single to Evan Longoria in the fourth over his first five innings and walked just one batter. The most important thing is that his six strikeouts showed he had good velocity on his fastball and he was able to locate it for strikes. Hughes actually has enough time, should he stay in the rotation, to establish himself as the Yankees’ No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

Posada and Hughes did well even though their roles going forward are really up in the air. Jeter made a sloppy error in the first inning but he erased it with a double play on the next batter. So there were no real major negatives today.

BOMBER BANTER

To celebrate Jeter’s reaching the 3,000-hit plateau, the Yankees honored him before the game with a 225-pound crystal and stainless steel sculpture of Jeter doffing his cap with the number 3,000 below. It was commissioned by Sabathia and Posada and it was inscribed “To our captain, leader and friend, congratulations on your achievement, from your teammates.”  Jeter also received gifts from Yankee management as his parents and his sister looked on.  . . .  Alex Rodriguez was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in his second rehab game in Tampa, FL. Rodriguez started at DH for the second straight night. He homered on the first pitch in his first at-bat on Friday. Rodriguez hopes to play a few games in the field with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to the Yankees next week for their series against the Twins in Minneapolis. Rodriguez has been on the 15-day disabled list since mid-July after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.  . . .  The Yankees signed former Yankee reliever Scott Proctor to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Scranton. Proctor, 34, had a 6.44 ERa in 31 appearances with the Braves when he was released on Wednesday.

ON DECK

The Yankees can win the rubber game of the three-game home weekend series with the Rays with a victory on Sunday.

But if you are planning to attend this game, bring your rabbits feet, St. Christopher medals and four-leaf clovers.

To replace Freddy Garcia as the starter, the Yankees have named Burnett (8-9, 4.60 ERA) as the starter. Burnett was pitching one-run baseball into the seventh inning against the Angels on Tuesday but he unraveled and ended up losing yet another start in August. He ended up giving up four runs on seven hits in six innings. Burnett has not won a game in August since he became a Yankee in 2009. He is 12-8 with a 3.45 ERA lifetime against the Rays.

The Rays will start right-hander James Shields (11-9, 2.90 ERA). Shields is coming off his major-league-leading eighth complete game of the season in his victory over Kansas City on Tuesday. Shields is 1-2 with a 1.59 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this season. He is 4-10 with a 4.25 ERA in his career against the Bombers.

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

 

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