May 2012

Ibanez, Yankees Finally Hit Wall To Overtake Halos

GAME 50

YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5

Throughout their three-game series with the Angels the Yankees have banging their heads against a wall in trying to get hits at the wall off outfielders Mike Trout and Peter Bourjos. It took them three games but they found an answer.

Raul Ibanez laced a one-out triple over Boujos’ head and off the wall for a triple and Nick Swisher followed a sacrifice fly to Trout in left that scored Ibanez with the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning and New York held on to edge Los Angeles on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.

Earlier in the game, the Yankees torched Angels starter Ervin Santana with five runs in the third inning as Curtis Granderson smacked a three-run home run safely over the wall in right field for his 16th home run of the season. Robinson Cano followed two batters later with a two-run shot of his own – again nowhere near the gloves of the Angels’ outfielders.

Staked to the 5-1 lead, Yankees starter Ivan Nova was unable to hold it for long. The Angels struck for four runs of their own in the fourth inning on a two-run homer by Trumbo and a two-run double by Trout.

But Nova (6-2) was able to complete 6 2/3 innings and pick up the victory, giving up five runs on eight hits and and three walks and striking out two batters.

Santana left after five innings, also surrendering five runs on six hits and two walks and fanning four.

Reliever Hisanori Takahashi (0-2) took the loss as the Yankees snapped the Angels’ season-high eight-game winning streak.

Rafael Soriano made things interesting in the ninth by giving up a one-out walk to Alberto Callaspo and a single to Albert Pujols. But he was able to get Trumbo to fly out to left to end the game and earn his sixth save in as many opportunities.

With the victory the Yankees improved to 27-23. The Angels fell back to .500 at 26-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Ibanez was 2-for-4 on the night, including his clutch triple off Takahashi in the sixth. Ibanez was 4-for-11 (364), drove in a run and scored three in the series. Ibanez is hitting .288 in May with six home runs and 16 RBIs. He also has held his own in the outfield even though the Yankees do miss Brett Gardner’s defense.
  • Swisher’s sac fly must have been some form of retribution for him for the out-and-out thievery that Trout and Bourjos pulled on him on Tuesday. Despite going only 2-for-11 (.182) in the series, Swisher was able to drive in a run in each of the three games and he now has a team-leading 32 on the season.
  • Cory Wade redeemed himself after giving up that walk-off game-winning home run to Trumbo in the ninth on Monday. He retired all four batters he faced and struck out three of them. He came on the seventh after Boone Logan had surrendered two-out singles to Kendrys Morales and Trumbo. Wade struck out Howie Kendrick on a 3-2 pitch to strand his 21st and 22nd inherited runners of the season. Wade has not allowed a single inherited runner to score this season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Though Nova was the winning pitcher he is still having trouble keeping the baseball in the yard. The home run Trumbo hit in the fourth was the 13th he has allowed this season in 10 starts. Nova succeeded in this game by wriggling out of trouble. He loaded the bases with no one out in the first but gave up just one run on a sac fly by Trumbo. He also benefitted from some good defense behind him by Cano and two double plays got him out the third and fifth innings.
  • Eric Chavez had a rough night. He went o-for-4 including hitting into a double play, a strikeout and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Chavez ended April with a .321 average but he is struggling mightily at the plate on the May. He is hitting .213 with no home runs and four RBIs this month.
  • The Yankee offense took a long siesta after Cano’s home run in the third inning built their 5-1 bulge. For the rest of the game the Yankees were 1-for-21 (.048) and the one hit was Ibanez’s well-timed triple. By contrast the Angels were 10-for-27 (.370) after the third inning. It is a miracle the Yankees pulled the game out.

ON DECK

The Yankees will take Thursday off as they head to Detroit to continue their nine-game road trip by starting a three-game weekend series with the Tigers on Friday.

The Yankees will call upon ace left-hander CC Sabathia (6-2, 3.66 ERA). Sabathia is coming off a two-run, seven-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday. He is 16-12 with a 4.46 ERA in his career against the Tigers, including the eight innings of two-run ball he threw at them for a victory on April 29.

The Tigers, meanwhile, lost starter Doug Fister to injury and they called up left-hander Casey Crosby from Triple-A Toledo to make a start. Crosby, 23, was 4-2 with a 4.26 ERA at Toledo. This will be his major-league debut.

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.

 

Kuroda Becomes Road Warrior, Blanks Athletics

GAME $7

YANKEES 2, ATHLETICS 0

The Yankees’ weekend trip to Oakland should be called the  “Road to Redemption.”

First, Mark Teixeira’s long slumbering bat came to life and on Sunday the fabled right arm of Hiroki Kuroda started to pay dividends outside of the Bronx.

Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings to end a three-game losing streak and collect his first road victory of the season as New York blanked Oakland for a three-game sweep at o.co Coliseum.

Kuruda (4-6) entered the contest 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA away from Yankee Stadium this season, but he shut down the Athletics sputtering offense on just four hits and one walk while striking out three batters to win his first game since May 11 at home against the Seattle Mariners.

Meanwhile, the Yankees put up just enough runs against rookie left-hander Tommy Milone (6-4) to win their eighth consecutive game at o.co Coliseum, a streak that dates back to July 2011. Milone had entered the contest 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA at home this season.

Designated hitter Andruw Jones put the Yankees on the board early by blasting a first-pitch fastball from Milone over the wall in left-center to lead off the second inning.

That run stood up until the seventh inning, when the Yankees tacked on an insurance run with two outs. Curtis Granderson singled to right and Teixeira followed with a double off the wall in right-center that scored Granderson. Teixeira began the series in a terrible slump and was 8-for-14 (.571) with three home runs and eight RBIs in the series.

Milone gave up two runs on eight hits and two walks and he struck out three in 6 2/3 innings.

Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out Seth Smith swinging as the tying run at the plate, to earn his fifth save in as many opportunities on the season.

The A’s, meanwhile, suffered their fifth straight loss as the Yankees racked up their fifth straight victory.

The Yankees’ season record now stands at 26-21. The A’s fell to 22-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • For as bad as Kuroda has been in his last three starts, he was exceptional against the A’s. He faced the minimum through the first four innings and he did not allow a runner to reach second base until the seventh inning. He also pitched out of a jam in the seventh with Coco Crisp on third and Smith on first and one out by striking out Kila Ka’aihue and retiring Josh Donaldson on a routine fly ball. With his eight shutout innings, Kuroda lowered his ERA from 4.56 to 3.96.
  • Teixeira was 2-for-4 in the game with two doubles, including the one that padded the Yankees’ lead in the seventh inning. Manager Joe Girardi even entrusted him by batting him third in the lineup after he has spent most of the season batting fifth. Teixeira entered the series hitting .226 and he leaves with his average up to .254.
  • Jones’ home run was his fifth of the season and his first home run since May 11 against the Mariners. Oddly, that was the same game in which Kuroda won his last game. Perhaps it is something in the combination that is at work here.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Yankees loaded the bases in the first inning against Milone when Derek Jeter led off with a single, Granderson walked and, one out later, Alex Rodriguez singled sharply to right-field. However, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher popped up weakly to end the threat. The Yankees are one for the last 30 at-bats with the bases loaded.
  • In addition, the Yankees were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position in the game. Swisher struck out swinging at a pitch in the dirt with two on and one out in the third inning and he left a total of five runners on base in the game.
  • Advancing runners has also been a problem. In the second inning, Jayson Nix followed Jones’ home run with a double. However, Chris Stewart failed to advance him when he popped up a bunt. In the third, Teixeira led off with a double and Rodriguez grounded out to third and failed to move him up. This is why the Yankees struggle to get runs across.

BOMBER BANTER

Jeter’s single to lead off the game gave him 3,155 hits in his career and he passed Royals Hall-of-Famer George Brett to claim 14th place on the all-time hits list. Next up on the list is Cal Ripken, who is in the 13th place with 3,184 hits.  . . .  Starting catcher Russell Martin was held out of Sunday’s game with a stiff neck. Stewart caught Kuroda instead. The Yankees do not think the condition is serious and they hope Martin will be able to play on Monday.

ON DECK

Having swept Oakland, the Yankees head on to Anaheim for a three-game series that starts on Monday.

Phil Hughes (4-5, 4.94 ERA) will return to pitch in front of family and friends at Angel Stadium, which is near where he was born. Hughes has won three of his last four starts and beat the Royals on Tuesday, giving up just two runs on five hits in six innings. He is 3-2 with a 7.61 ERA in his career against the Angels.

He will face Angels right-hander Jered Weaver (6-1, 2.61 ERA). Weaver gave up just one run in eight innings against the Athletics on Wednesday, but he did not get a decision in what ended up as a Los Angeles victory. Weaver is 5-2 with a 4.79 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

Game-time will be 9:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Tex Makes His Mark With 2 Homers To Bash A’s

GAME 46

YANKEES 9, ATHLETICS 2

He has been booed. He has been vilified on New York talk radio. He even has been demoted to seventh in the batting order. But on Saturday, Mark Teixeira extended what he hopes is a stretch where he can reclaim his place as one of the most feared hitters in the American League.

Teixeira went 4-for-5 including two home runs and drove in five runs to lead New York and ace left-hander CC Sabathia to a decisive defeat of Oakland at o.co Coliseum.

Teixeira began his assault on the Athletics in the third inning when he launched a 2-2 fastball from Bartolo Colon (4-5) deep into the bleachers in right-field to break a 2-2 tie.

He followed that with a two-out, two-run single in the fifth off Colon to increase the Yankees’ lead to 6-2.

After leading off the seventh inning with a single, Teixeira completed his best day of the season with a one-out, two-run home run into the left-field seats off A’s reliever Graham Godfrey to give the Yankees their winning 9-2 margin.

Meanwhile, Sabathia (6-2) was able to give the Yankees seven solid innings.

Jonny Gomes touched him for an RBI single to right to score Jemile Weeks in the first inning, which gave the A’s an early 1-0 lead.

After Robinson Cano tied it up for the Yankees with his seventh home run of the season and his second in two games, the Yankees pushed across another run in the third inning on a RBI single by Derek Jeter.

However, Josh Reddick greeted Sabathia with a leadoff home run in the bottom of the third inning to knot the game at 2-2.

Though Sabathia did struggle early with his command, he ended up giving up just the two runs on seven hits and two walks and he fanned four batters to snap a personal two-game losing streak.

Colon, who pitched for the Yankees last season, was rocked for six runs on 11 hits and no walks and three strikeouts in six innings of work.

After losing six of seven games in which they were outscored 34-15, the Yankees have now won four in a row and have outscored the opposition by a count of 26-10.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season ledger to 25-21. The A’s are 22-25.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira told reporters on Wednesday that he was through trying to put balls in play to raise his average and he was going to return to his old approach of just hitting for power. The results seem encouraging. In his last two games, Teixeira is 6-for-10 with three home runs, a double, two singles, seven RBIs and three runs scored.
  • Jeter drove in two runs and had two hits in the game. The two hits gave him 3,154 career hits, which ties him with Kansas City Royals Hall-of-Famer George Brett for 14th place on the all-time hit list. Jeter’s 2-for-4 day raised his season average to a team-leading .342.
  • Cano was 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and a single, he scored three runs and he raised his batting average over the .300 mark to .302.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Curtis Granderson did not have a red-letter day. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a walk. When he did draw that walk in the seventh inning he was caught stealing by Oakland reliever Jordan Norberto. He also grounded out to end the eighth inning and left the bases loaded. He stranded a total of six runners in the game.
  • Sabathia was far from his ace form on Saturday but you do have to give him credit for holding the A’s scoreless after Teixeira’s solo home run in the fourth. Over the next four innings, Sabathia gave up just two hits and no walks and he retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced.
  • Chris Stewart has been Sabathia’s personal catcher for all but one start this season and he was picked up off waivers because of his defensive prowess. However, he committed a passed ball in the fourth inning and he now has five this season in 94 innings behind the plate. In 460 1/3 innings catching with the Giants in 2011 he had two passed balls.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance to sweep the A’s in their three-game series on Sunday.

Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (3-6, 4.56 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Kuroda, 37, is coming off two disastrous starts in which he has given up 10 runs in 10 1/3 innings. He is 0-1 with a 7.50 ERA in his one start against the A’s in his career.

The A’s will call upon ace right-hander Tommy Milone (6-3, 3.75 ERA). Milone gave up just one run on five hits in seven innings in a victory against the Angels on Monday. He has never faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 4:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Yankees Go West Then Go Deep To Down Oakland

GAME 45

YANKEES 6, ATHLETICS 3

In the 1850s, newspaper editor Horace Greeley coined the phrase “Go West, young man” and some 160 years later the struggling Yankees took his advice on a road trip to Oakland. They seemed to have left their troubles back East.

Sparked by home runs from Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher and getting a solid seven innings out of right-hander Ivan Nova, New York won its third game in row after dropping six of their previous seven games by downing Oakland at o.co Coliseum on Friday.

The Yankees shook off the remnants of a horrible hitting slump to pound Athletics starter Tyson Ross (2-5) for six runs (three earned) on 11 hits and two walks in just 4 1/3 innings.

Curtis Granderson started the scoring with a one out single off Ross in the third inning. One out later, Cano lined a ball into center-field that ticked off the glove of Coco Crisp for a two-base error that scored Granderson. Teixeira followed with a two-run blast into the right-field bleachers.

Two innings later, Cano opened the frame by blasting a high drive over the wall in center-field for his sixth home run of the season. One out later, Raul Ibanez doubled to left-center and Swisher clubbed a 3-2 pitch to the opposite field in left for a two -run homer and ended Ross’ evening early.

Meanwhile, Nova was able to limit the damage from the A’s.

He surrendered a one-out solo home run to Josh Reddick in the fourth inning and a leadoff home run to Kila Ka’aihue in the seventh. The A’s other run scored in the fifth on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kurt Suzuki after Josh Donaldson and Daric Barton led off the inning with a single and a double, respectively.

But Nova (5-2) managed to end a two-game losing streak, giving up the three runs on six hits and one walk while fanning four batters.

Boone Logan pitched a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his fourth save in as many chances.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 24-21. The A’s fell to 22-24.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira’s home run was his sixth of the season but it was his first since May 14 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Teixeira also doubled in the game in the fifth inning but was thrown at at third base trying to stretch it into a triple. It was his first multi-hit game since that same game on May 14. Could this be the turning point for the slumping slugger?
  • Swisher doubled in the second inning to break an 0-for-13 drought and then he homered in the fifth. Both hits were to the opposite field and the home run was Swisher’s first home run since he hit a solo shot against the Royals in Kansas City on May 6. Swisher is hitting only .194 this month and has been slumping even worse that Teixeira has.
  • Nova, other than giving up the two home runs, actually pitched quite well. He used his curveball effectively to keep the A’s off-balance and he let his defense help him out when he needed to get out of jams. He threw 101 pitches and 63 of them were strikes (62 percent).

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • During the 2011 season, Nova surrendered 12 home runs in 165 1/3 innings. This season, including the two home runs he gave up on Friday, Nova has allowed 12 home runs in 56 innings. At this pace, Nova would give up more than 40 homers. He has to do a better job of keeping the ball in the yard.
  • On May 4, Derek Jeter was hitting .404. On Friday, Jeter was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and his season average has dipped to .339. Jeter is only hitting .287 for the month and, more importantly, he has only one home run and three RBIs over the same period. Jeter has been swinging and missing at a lot of sliders off the outside corner and out of the strike zone low.
  • For those who might think the team’s runners in scoring position problem is a thing of the past, think again. The Yankees were 2-for-10 with RISP on Friday. They had the bases loaded and one out after Ross walked Granderson intentionally to face Alex Rodriguez in the fourth inning. Rodriguez promptly rapped into an inning-ending double play. If this problem is not fixed soon it will haunt this team for the rest of the season.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game weekend series with the A’s on Saturday.

On the mound for the Yankees will be nearby Vallejo, CA, native CC Sabathia (5-2, 3.78 ERA). Sabathia has lost his past two starts are starting the season 5-0. He is 7-8 with a 4.96 ERA in his 22 starts against Oakland in his career.

The A’s will counter with former Yankee right-hander Bartolo Colon (4-4, 4.09 ERA). Colon won his start Sunday against the Giants despite lasting only five innings. He struck out seven and he allowed only two earned runs. He is 3-5 with a 6.94 ERA in the last 10 seasons against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 4:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

A-Rod’s 2 Homers Back Pettitte As Yankees Romp

GAME 44

YANKEES 8, ROYALS 3

When the Yankees were in the midst of losing six of seven games, Alex Rodriguez took much of the criticism for an extended power outage that only Conn Edison could rival. But with two mighty swings of the bat on Wednesday, Rodriguez put the power outage to rest and boosted Andy Pettitte and the Yankees to a victory.

Rodriguez swatted a pair of home runs and drove in three runs and Pettitte continued to show he lost nothing in retirement as New York blasted Kansas City for a series-clinching victory at Yankee Stadium.

Rodriguez followed a solo home run by Curtis Granderson and a walk to Mark Teixeira with a lined shot into the left-field bleachers off rookie left-hander Will Smith (0-1), who was making his major-league debut.

The home run was Rodriguez’s sixth of the season and his first in 52 at-bats. He also had only driven in only one run since May 6.

Two innings later, Rodriguez hit a high-arcing blast over the wall in center-field to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead and provided Rodriguez with a total of 60 career multiple-homer games.

Pettitte (2-1) took it pretty much from there. He pitched seven-plus innings and gave up two runs on seven hits and one walk and he struck out eight batters.

The only two hits that were hit hard were solo home runs by Billy Butler in the fourth inning and Mitch Maier in the fifth. The rest of the hits consisted of three infield hits and two bloop outfield singles.

With the victory, Pettitte is 13-3 against the Royals and he has won nine straight decisions against them in his last 13 starts.

Despite the fact the Yankees again struggled to hit with runners in scoring position – they were 1-for-6 on the night – the team managed to get runners across in other ways in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Jayson Nix opened the inning reaching after being hit with a pitch from reliever Luis Mendoza. Derek Jeter followed a bunt that he legged into a single and Nix and Jeter both advanced when third baseman Mike Moustakas threw wildly past first base for an error.

Granderson drew a walk to load the bases and Teixeira also walked to score Nix.

After Rodriguez bounced to third to force Jeter at the plate, Robinson Cano, facing lefty reliever Jose Mijares, hit a smash up the middle that was grabbed by Joey Giovotella to force Rodriguez at second as Granderson scored.

After Mijares hit Nick Swisher with a pitch to reload the bases, reliever Luis Coleman came in walked Andruw Jones to force in the third run of the inning.

The Yankees managed to extend the lead to 8-2 by bringing nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs on just one infield hit, three walks, two hit batters and an error.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their record to 23-21. The Royals dropped to 17-26.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Rodriguez told reporters before the game that he discovered something he was doing wrong in his last at-bat on Tuesday night and that he thought he was about to “go off.” He backed it up with his two home runs and three RBIs on Wednesday. Rodriguez is hitting .281 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs.
  • For those who thought Pettitte should have remained at home in Texas, he is proving them wrong with every start. In his three starts, Pettitte has a 2.53 ERA, a WHIP of 1.08 and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. He also has worked into or beyond the seventh inning in all three of his starts. So is he too old at age 39 to be pitching?
  • Granderson’s home run was his first since May 15 when he hit one against the Baltimore Orioles. In his previous five games, Granderson was 1-for-12 (.083) with six strikeouts. He is hitting .256 with 14 home runs and 25 RBIs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • I hate to criticize on a such a good night but Russell Martin was 0-for-4 including a strikeout and hitting into a double play. He also left seven men on base. He is hitting .173 of the season with no sign of improvement in sight.
  • Swisher was hitless in his two at-bats and he is does not have a hit in his last 13 at-bats. In his last nine games, Swisher is 3-for-32 (.094) and his season average has dipped to .236.

BOMBER BANTER

With his three hits on Wednesday, Jeter now has 3,152 career hits, which ties him for 15th place on the all-time hits list with Paul Waner.  . . .  Outfielder Brett Gardner and reliever David Robertson will travel to Tampa, FL., on Thursday to begin rehab assignments. Gardner, however, will not likely swing a bat until Monday. He has been on the disabled list since April 19 with a strained right elbow. Robertson has a strained left oblique muscle and he is targeting a return from the disabled list on June 1.

ON DECK

After playing 16 games in as many days, the Yankees get a day off as they travel to Oakland to open a three-game series with the Athletics on Friday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (4-2, 5.69 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova has struggled of late, giving up five earned runs in his last two starts. But he also fanned 12 batters against the Reds on Saturday. He will be making his first career start against the A’s.

Oakland will start right-hander Tyson Ross (2-4, 5.73 ERA). Ross allowed just two runs over six innings but took the loss on Saturday against the Giants. He is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 10:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Yankees Break Through Bad Karma To Edge KC

GAME 43

YANKEES 3, ROYALS 2

Stop the presses! There is earth-shattering news out of the Bronx on Tuesday! Reserve the Canyon of Heroes for a ticker-tape parade in New York City on Wednesday!

The Yankees have finally won a major-league baseball game!

It was not pretty but it still counts. Phil Hughes pitched a solid six innings and the Yankees pushed across two runs with the bases loaded in the fifth inning as New York defeated Kansas City to break a slide in which the team had lost six of its last seven games.

Hughes (4-5) gave up just two runs on five hits and two walks and fanned seven batters to pick up his third victory in his last four starts. A bullpen combination of Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada shut down the Royals for two innings and Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.

The Yankees, trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, picked up a run on a solo home run off the bat of Robinson Cano, his fifth of the season.

They then loaded the bases against right-hander Luke Hochevar (3-5) in the fifth inning. For the past week or so, having the bases loaded for the Yankees has been an advantage to the pitchers they have faced because they had failed miserably in scoring even a single run.

But on Tuesday it worked out quite differently.

Mark Teixeira led off with a single and he was able to advance to second on an error by right-fielder Jeff Francouer. Hochevar then grazed Russell Marrtin with a pitch and Dewayne Wise followed with a sacrifice bunt he was able to leg into a single.

Knowing the Yankees were hitless in their last 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, a paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 37,674 took out their four-leaf clovers, St. Christopher medals and rabbit’s feet and prayed for an end to the misery that has befallen their team.

Derek Jeter answered those prayers by looping a 2-2 pitch from Hochevar into right to score Teixeira with the tying run. Curtis Granderson followed with a slow roller to first that scored Martin and the Yankees had their first lead in the series against the Royals.

Of course, all major slumps are very tough to break and after Cano was walked intentionally to load the bases again, Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez struck out looking. So they were 2-for-7 with RISP in the game? So what? They won!

Hochevar gave up three runs on six hits and three walks and struck eight in 6 2/3 innings.

The Royals scored their first run in the third inning on a one-out RBI double by Humberto Quintero, which followed a leadoff single by Irving Falu. The Royals added a run in the fourth on a two-out solo home run off the bat of Francouer.

With the victory the Yankees climb a game above .500 at 22-21. The Royals are 17-25.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • I very much like the way Hughes pitched in this game. He was aggressive early in the count with his fastball. The Quintero double was on a very bad 0-2 pitch that was over the plate. The home run by Francouer came when he fell behind 2-0 and he had to throw a fastball. Hughes’ best pitching came when he walked the bases loaded in the sixth with two outs. He was able to get Falu on a flyout to left to preserve his victory. In his last four starts, Hughes is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA and he has struck out 23 batters in his last 25 2/3 innings.
  • Soriano is settling in nicely as the closer. He is 3-for-3 in save opportunities and he is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA on the season. He has also posted 12 scoreless outings of his 16 appearances this season. He may not be Mariano Rivera but he still is pretty good.
  • When Cano last faced Hochevar in Kansas City on May 6 he hit a grand slam home run that led the Yankees to a 10-4 victory that split the series. Cano has six hits off Hochevar in his career, three of them home runs and two of those have been grand slams.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

It is not good to dwell on the negative when there has been so much negative associated with the team this month. We are not going down that road.

BOMBER BANTER

Rivera paid his first visit to the Yankees clubhouse on Tuesday since he suffered his torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee on May 3 in Kansas City. Rivera is walking without the aid of crutches but he will not undergo knee surgery until he is first treated for a blood clot in his right calf and he strengthens his right knee.  . . .  The team entered Tuesday’s game 6-for-72 (.083) with runners in scoring position in the past nine games and they were also just one for the last 21 at-bats with the bases loaded until Jeter singled with the bases loaded on Tuesday. Their last hit with bases loaded was Cano’s grand slam off Hochevar on May 6.

ON DECK

After the ticker-tape parade and the presentation of the key to the city by the mayor, the Yankees will play the rubber game of their three-game set with the Royals.

Left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-1, 2.51 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Pettitte, 39, is coming off a vintage performance on Friday against the Reds in which he pitched eight shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out nine in only his second start of his 2012 comeback. In the last 10 seasons against the Royals, Pettitte is 8-2 with a 3.80 ERA.

The Royals are starting 22-year-old left-hander Will Smith, who will be making his major-league debut. He was 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. I guess manager Ned Yost figures why not throw a rookie because the Yankees’ offense may be in no condition to do much damage to him.

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

 

Pettitte Blanks Reds As Yankees’ Hitters Snooze

GAME 39

YANKEES 4, REDS 0

It took 39-year-old Andy Pettitte to figure out what a starting pitcher with the New York Yankees has to do win a game when his team’s hitters are incapable of hitting with the runners in scoring position and are spending most of the month in the baseball equivalent of the Heimlech Maneuver: You pitch your freaking butt off and throw a shutout.

In his second major-league start since coming out of retirement, that is pretty much what it took as Pettitte twirled eight innings of scoreless and surgical baseball, giving up four singles, walking one and striking nine to win his first game since a July 8, 2010 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Pettitte (1-1) flashed vintage form on Friday to navigate his way though a Reds lineup that has been struggling just as much as the Yankees have lately as New York blanked Cincinnati in an interleague game at Yankee Stadium.

Pettitte’s lone run of early support came in the fourth inning when Curtis Granderson led off the frame with a lined single to center. Robinson Cano followed with a hard bouncing single to right that momentarily bounced of the glove of Jay Bruce. Granderson reached third base easily, however, in a scene all to familiar to Yankee fans, Cano was cut down trying to stretch the hit  on a throw from Bruce to shortstop Zack Cozart.

Alex Rodriguez was able to score Granderson with a slow roller to Cozart at short.

At the precise moment Granderson touched home plate, I thought it appropriate for the game to be halted so the Yankees could actually savor a moment where they actually No. 1 scored a run and No. 2 actually held a lead in a major-league game. At the very least, the mayor should have presented the team with a trophy or something.

But, the Yankees’ problem with scoring reared its ugly head again in the sixth inning and they actually made right-hander Bronson Arroyo (2-2) look a whole lot better than he actually is.

Derek Jeter led off the inning with a lined single to center. Granderson followed with a ground single up the middle and Arroyo walked Cano to load the bases with nobody out. The majority of the 42,015 in attendance who were Yankee fans knew it was not a time to celebrate yet. The Yankees showed them just why.

Rodriguez hit a ball that smashed off the glove of third baseman Todd Frazier but Frazier was able to recover in time to cut down Jeter with a throw to catcher Ryan Hanigam at the plate for the first out. Raul Ibanez followed with a bouncer to first baseman Joey Votto, who fired home to easily force Granderson before he could reach the plate. Nick Swisher then hit a lazy pop fly to Cozart in shallow center to end the threat.

The Yankees did manage to tack on three runs off Arroyo with two out in the bottom of the ninth.

Cano launched a long blast into the right-field bleachers for his fourth home run of the season. Rodriguez followed with a single to left and Ibanez closed out the scoring with lined home run into the short porch in right for his eighth home run of the season.

So even though the Yankees did score four runs after losing their previous three games scoring a total of four runs, they were still 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Boone Logan pitched a perfect ninth to close out the victory for Pettitte.

With the victory, the Yankees ended a three-game skid and improved their season record to 21-18. The Reds are 19-19.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Pettitte was absolutely brilliant and manager Joe Girardi – with Mariano Rivera out for the season and David Robertson on the disabled list – rolled the dice and allowed his veteran left-hander pitch eight innings. Pettitte threw 115 pitches and 78 were strikes (68 percent). His toughest challenge was the first inning when Cozart reached second on a passed ball on a strikeout and a throwing error by catcher Chris Stewart. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Drew Stubbs. However, Pettitte struck out Votto and Brandon Phillips swinging to strand Cozart. No other runner reached second base on him the rest of night.
  • Cano had a walk and two hits, including his big solo home run in the eighth. That raised his batting average to .310 on the season. He and Jeter are the only two regulars who are hitting above .300 on the season. Despite the fact the Yankees are struggling as a team to score runs, Cano is hitting a sizzling .459 in his last 10 games.
  • Ibanez continues to provide the team with some dramatic big hits. His two-run shot in the eighth bounced Arroyo out of the game and provided the Yankees with a four-run cushion heading into the ninth. Ibanez has 26 hits and 24 RBIs on the season. The 39-year-old outfielder/designated hitter is hitting .273 with runners in scoring position, one of the few Yankees who is actually doing well in that category.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • In their last six games the team is 6-for-48 (.125) with runners in scoring position, including their 0-for-7 on Friday. On the season this is what six of the main regulars are doing with runners in scoring position: Granderson, .226; Swisher, .209; Teixeira, 205; Cano, .176; Rodriguez, .167; and Russell Martin, .167. Jeter is hitting an even .300 with RISP. You want to know why the offense is misfiring and it is these six guys who are the reason.
  • Swisher was 1-for-4, struck out twice and hit that weak popup that ended the sixth inning and left the bases loaded. Swisher ended April hitting .284 with six home runs and 23 RBIs. But he is hitting .196 with a home run and three RBIs in May, which has dragged his season average down 32 points to .252.
  • Girradi chose to rest Teixeira and Martin and Brett Gardner is still on the disabled list. As a result, the No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 hitters were DH Chavez, LF Dewayne Wise and C Stewart. Against Arroyo they were a combined 0-for-9 with two strikeouts, three weak groundouts, a weak popup and three routine flyouts. This is another reason the team is slumping at the plate.

BOMBER BANTER

Teixeira was rested on Friday because he still has a hacking cough related to an illness Teixeira picked up during the team’s first homestand. Girardi elected to play Swisher at first base and shift Ibanez into right-field on Friday. Teixeira has seen a specialist about the persistent cough and seemed encouraged with he heard. But, though the cough is not getting worse, it has persisted for more than a month. The veteran first baseman is hitting an anemic .228 with five home runs and 20 RBIs this season.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their first interleague series of the season on Saturday against the Reds.

Despite suffering a right foot contusion and a slightly sprained right ankle in his last start against the Baltimore Orioles last Monday, right-hander Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.44 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Yankees. Nova gave up five runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of a no-decision in a game the Yankees eventually won. Nove is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his career against the Reds.

The Reds will counter with right-hander Homer Bailey (1-3, 4.35 ERA). Bailey held the Braves to six hits and one run in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision on Monday. Bailey has not pitched against the Yankees in his career, which usually spells trouble for the Yankees.

Game-time will be 1:-5 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Maryland Native Teixeira Clips Orioles’ Wings

GAME 35

YANKEES 8, ORIOLES 5

For the past four seasons Orioles fans having been booing Maryland native Mark Teixeira whenever he comes to the plate at Camden Yards in some misguided thought that Teixeira owed the city of Baltimore enough that he should have signed a free-agent contract with their team for less money.

On Monday night, Teixeira treated those fans to what they have been missing the last four years by launching a majestic two-run blast in the seventh inning to break up a 5-5 tie to lead New York to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Baltimore.

Former Yankee reliever Luis Ayala (1-1) gave up a leadoff single to Alex Rodriguez, his third single of the game. One out later, Teixeira ripped into a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner and pulled into the right-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.

Reliever David Phelps (1-1) picked up his first major-league victory in relief with a scoreless inning of work. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his second save of the season.

The game was a back-and-forth affair because neither starting pitcher was able to pitch effectively.

The Orioles jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Ivan Nova in the first inning on an RBI single by J.J. Hardy and an RBI double by Adam Jones.

But the Yankees struck back against Jason Hammel in the fourth inning on a two-run double off the bat of Nick Swisher. They added another run in the fifth on a two-out solo home run by Curtis Granderson, his 12th of the season which was hit so hard it landed over the right-field  stands and out onto Eutaw Street.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Nova was unable to hold the lead in the fifth. Nova walked Robert Andino, rookie Xavier Avery then tripled to right-field to score Andino. Then Hardy followed with a his ninth home run of the season to hand the Orioles a 5-3 lead.

But Hammel was unable to hold the lead either.

The Yankees loaded the bases on Hammel in the sixth on a Robinson Cano double and successive walks to Teixeira and Swisher, which ended Hammel’s night. Ayala induced a ground ball off the bat of Raul Ibanez but it was misplayed into an error by Chris Davis and two runs scored.

Hammel was charged with five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks and he struck out three in five-plus innings. Hammel had previously not given up more than two runs in any of his previous six starts.

Nova left the game with one out in the sixth inning when he came up limping on his right foot after fielding a high bouncing ball off the bat of Wilson Betemit. With two out in the third inning, Nova was struck on the right foot on a ball hit by Nick Markakis but he was able to remain in the game.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record against the Orioles to 5-2 and the season record is now at 20-15. The Orioles dropped to 22-14.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Once again, the bullpen showed its superiority over the Orioles. In the final 3 2/3 innings Clay Rapada, Phelps, Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Soriano combined to shut out the Orioles the rest of the way on three hits and one walk and they struck out six batters. In contrast, the Orioles’ ineffective bullpen gave up three runs on four hits, three walks, two hit batters and struck out two in four innings. Ouch!
  • After his average dropped to .212 last Thursday when he was 0-for-3 against the Rays, Teixeira has a modest four-game hitting streak going with his 2-for-4 night against the Orioles. In that span, Teixeira is 6-for-16 (.375) with a six runs scored and two RBIs. He has raised his average to .231.
  • Granderson’s 12th home run ties him with Adam Dunn of the White Sox for second place in the American League in home runs. Josh Hamilton of Texas leads with 18. Granderson also contributed a sensational running catch to the deepest part of the ballpark on a shot off the bat of Hardy in the seventh inning.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Nova did not pitch effectively because he struggled with his command. He sureendered five runs on seven hits and three walks and struck out four in his 5 1/3 innings of work. Despite the fact he is 4-1, his ERA is now 5.44 and he will need to pitch much better going forward.
  • Weird stat of the game: Despite the fact the Yankees scored eight runs and collected 11 hits they were a miserable 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
  • Derek Jeter entered Sunday’s game with the Mariners having not hit into a double play this season. But he hit into two of them on Sunday and he hit into two more on Monday. So he now has hit into four double plays in his last eight at-bats. He also struck out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and he is 0-for-5 this season with the bases loaded.

BOMBER BANTER

This game could be very costly for the Yankees. Nova left the game with a bruise and a sprain in his right ankle. X-rays of his right ankle taken after the game were negative but it is unclear if Nova will be able to make his next scheduled start. In addition, Rapada had to be helped in to the clubhouse because of a severe viral infection and Ibanez left the game in the ninth inning after being struck on the right elbow on a pitch from reliever Dana Eveland. Ibanez told reporters he thought he would able to play on Tuesday.  . . .  Manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Monday that reliever David Robertson has been unable to pitch for the past four days due to a soreness in his left ribcage. Robertson felt the discomfort after a he threw two-thirds of an inning in a non-save situation against the Rays on Thursday. He is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance to sweep the Orioles in this two-game road series on Tuesday.

The Yankees will have a good shot with CC Sabathia (5-0, 3.51 ERA) starting. Sabathia has won his last five starts and he is coming off his best start of the season. He threw eight innings of shutout baseball and struck out a season-high 10 in beating the Rays on Thursday. Sabathia also owns a 16-2 record and a 2.86 ERA in his career against the Orioles.

His opponent will be left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (3-0, 2.43 ERA). Chen held the Rangers to two runs in 7 2/3 innings in his last start. He has no record and 3.18 ERA after just one start against the Yankees this season.

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

 

Millwood Spoils Pettitte’s Grand Return To Yankees

GAME 34

MARINERS 6, YANKEES 2

On Sunday, a veteran pitcher who had pitched in World Series and had a lot of past glory in the major leagues came out of nowhere and won a game.

Unfortunately, it was not Andy Pettitte.

Kevin Millwood (1-4) pitched seven innings of one-run, three-hit baseball and two Mariners who entered the game hitting hitting under .208 hit two-run homers as Seattle spoiled the celebrated return of Pettitte with New York at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees did the 37-year-old journeyman Millwood a big favor by hitting into three double plays and going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Their only two runs in the game came on bases-loaded walks fifth and eighth innings.

Meanwhile, the 39-year-old Pettitte (0-1) matched Millwood zero for zero and had a not allowed a hit until there were two outs in the fourth.

Pettitte walked former Yankee mega-prospect Jesus Montero on a 3-2 pitch and Justin Smoak followed with a line-drive blast into the left-field bleachers for a two-run home run. Smoak entered the series hitting .173 but was 6-for-12 against the Yankees in the three games.

In the sixth inning, Pettitte began showing signs he was tiring after 573 days between his last start in the 2010 playoffs.

Dustin Ackley led off with a single to center and the mighty Casper Wells strolled to the plate. Wells entered the game batting .207 with no home runs and one RBI. He had a career total of 15 major-league home runs.

On a 2-2 offering from Pettitte, Wells swung late to protect the plate and he ended up hitting a ball that quickly was spinning foul into the right-field corner until it struck the foul pole. Wells could not placed it any better if he was standing five feet from the pole and thrown a ball against it.

The partisan Yankee crowd of 41,631 in attendance led out an audible gasp as the ball made an unmistakeable doink sound when it struck the pole.

Pettitte later that inning gave up three consecutive singles that loaded the bases. However, Pettitte induced Mike Carp into hitting a sharp grounder to Mark Teixeira at first . Teixeira stepped on first and fired home to catcher Russell Martin to nail a sliding Montero at home plate for an inning-ending double play.

Pettitte left after recording one out in the seventh inning. He gave up four runs on seven hits and three walks and struck out two. It was encouraging enough to Pettitte and manager Joe Girardi.

“It felt like I never left,” Pettitte said. “It’s frustrating, and obviously I’m disappointed in getting the loss. The guys gave me a chance to get right back in the game and get me a run, then I go back out and give up a two-run homer. You can’t do that. I got a little careless with a few pitches, and it cost me.”

“I thought he was pretty good,” said Girardi. “You look at the first five innings, and he really only gave up the one hard-hit ball and got a ton of ground-ball outs. He used pretty much all his pitches. And they hit some balls hard in the sixth, but to get us into the seventh inning, that’s pretty good.”

With the loss the Yankees fell to 19-15. The Mariners are 16-20.

 

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • For those who believed Pettitte would embarrass himself on Sunday they owe the left-hander a big apology. Pettitte showed upper 80s velocity and good movement on his pitches throughout his outing. Strength and stamina were going to be issues for him and it showed in the sixth. But this was an encouraging first step and the Yankees just might have an exceptional starting rotation this season. That is bad news to their American League East rivals.
  • The Yankees got runners on base (six hits and six walks) and they should have scored a lot more runs. Give Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez for collecting two hits apiece. Swisher is hitting .275 and Chavez is hitting .316 in a limited bench role.
  • Martin and Robinson Cano deserve credit for having the patience to draw bases-loaded walks. Martin got his from Millwood in the fifth and Cano got his from Charlie Furbush in the eighth. Too bad that was all the damage the Yankees could muster for Pettitte.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • With two on and one out in the third inning, Derek Jeter hit into a inning-ending double play.
  • With the bases loaded and one out after Martin had drawn his walk to bring the Yankees to within a run at 2-1, Jeter hit into another inning-ending double play.
  • With two on and one out in the eighth, Curtis Granderson struck out.
  • With the bases loaded and two out after Cano drew his walk to bring the Yankees to within 6-2, Teixeira struck out with the bases loaded.

Need I say more?

ON DECK

The Yankees open a short four-game road trip with a two-game series with the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.02 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. He is coming a two-run, seven inning victory over the Rays on Tuesday. He is 3-1 with a 3.96 ERA in his career against the Orioles.

The Orioles will start ailing right-hander Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.09 ERA), who is nursing a right knee injury. He was scratched from his start on Thursday and he hopes to be able to pitch on Monday. He is 1-3 with a 6.69 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

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

 

Pettitte Returns To Stare Down M’s And History

In the long and celebrated history of the New York Yankees, there have been only three legendary left-handed pitchers who have come out their minor-league system to attain greatness: Whitey Ford in the 50′s, Ron Guidry in the 70′s and Andrew Eugene Pettitte in the 90′s.

And it is Pettitte, who will be making history again on Sunday when he puts on his pinstriped No. 46 after 573 days in retirement. Yankee Stadium is sold out, the Bronx and the Tri-State area is abuzz and his Yankee teammates can’t wait to see him peer over his glove in that iconic stare into Russell Martin’s glove at about 1:07 p.m. before his first major-league pitch since the 2010 playoffs.

This would all seem like an exercise in futility for a 39-year-old pitcher who had been out of the game this long. After all, it does not happen often and it does not always end up successfully when it does happen.

But something about this time. Something about this man. Something about Pettitte has always been special.

For one thing, Pettitte left baseball after recording an 11-3 mark with a 3.28 ERA in 21 starts in 2010, a season that was truncated by a groin injury that sidelined Pettitte for over a month. But Pettitte recovered from that injury and he pitched twice in the 2010 playoffs and was 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in those games.

So it wasn’t like Andy left baseball with nothing left in the tank. In fact, Pettitte was running on some premium high-test when he decided being home with his family in Deer Park, TX, was more important to him than trying to get a 3-2 slider past Josh Hamilton.

When the competitive juices started flowing in Pettitte this winter and he got a chance to come to the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, FL, the lure of the game was just to much for him to resist. Once the announcement was made that Pettitte was coming back to the Yankees no one really laughed. It was only cheers and smiles.

That is because everyone who knows Pettitte knows that the harshest critic in his life has always been himself. If Andy did not believe he could do it he would not have wasted his or the Yankees’ time by even trying to fool them he could still pitch when he couldn’t. But Andy can still pitch and we will find out just how well on Sunday.

In four minor-league starts, Pettitte was 0-2 with a 3.71 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 19 innings. But those are just numbers because Pettitte was not concerned with numbers. He was focused only on getting his arm and his legs in shape to pitch for the Yankees for the rest of the 2012 season.

So today Pettitte just takes one step of a long journey back. It will not end with a loss or a victory. It is just the beginning for him.

In the Mariners he is facing a roster almost completely made up of players who were in elementary school or in diapers when Pettitte broke into the majors in 1995. In the end, they will tell Pettitte just how much he has left in the game. It is, after all, the hitters who tell a pitcher when he it is time to hang up the cleats. Pettitte hopes that will not be for some time to come.

Yankee fans second that emotion.

ON DECK

Pettitte will face a familiar mound opponent on Sunday.

The Mariners are starting 37-year-old right-hander Kevin Millwood (0-4, 5.88 ERA). Millwood is coming off a game on Tuesday in which he gave up five runs on eight hits and five walks and struck out three in five innings in a loss to the Detroit Tigers. In the last 10 seasons, Millwood is 2-4 with a 4.74 ERA against the Yankees.

Of the Mariners on the roster, Pettitte has only faced Chone Figgins, Ichiro Suzuki and Michael Saunders because most of their players are so young. In the last 10 seasons, Pettitte is 7-8 with a 3.94 ERA against the M’s.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

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