Results tagged ‘ Francisco Liriano ’

Yankees Succumb To Pirates’ Late 4-Run Rally

GAME 1

PIRATES 6, YANKEES 5

Chris McGuiness capped a four-run rally in the seventh inning with an RBI single as Pittsburgh came from behind to defeat New York in both teams’ Grapefruit League opener at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, FL.

Duke Welker (1-0) pitched one inning of relief to get credit for the victory. Chase Whitley (0-1) was hammered for four runs on three hits, a walk and he hit a batter in one inning plus to get tagged with the loss.

Five batters before McGuiness’ game-winning hit, Tony Sanchez cranked a three-run homer off Whitley to turn a 5-2 Yankees’ lead into a tie.

Right-hander Ivan Nova started for the Yankees and he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings, however, he did not have much command. Nova surrendered two hits and two walks and had to be replaced by right-hander Bruce Billings in the second innings because he had reached his pitch limit.

The game was played in front of announced crowd of 6,870, which is a record for exhibition opener at McKechnie Field, the Pirates’ spring home since 1969.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The late rally overshadowed what was a great day for two of the Yankees’ three high-priced free agents who started the game. Jacoby Ellsbury collected an infield single and two walks and he scored two runs. Catcher Brian McCann was 1-for-2 with an RBI single in the first inning. The third free agent, Carlos Beltran, was 0-for-2.
  • The Yankees also received key offensive contributions from shortstop Yangervis Solarte and outfielder Ramon Flores. Solarte, 26, a minor-league free agent out of the Texas Rangers’ organization, slugged a two-run home run in the second inning off veteran right-hander Edinson Volquez. Flores, 21, followed McCann’s RBI single in the first with an RBI single of his own off left-hander Francisco Liriano.
  • The Yankees’ pitching was shaky most of the day, but one pitcher did shine despite the gloomy windy and overcast game conditions. Right-hander Dellin Betances, 25, pitched two scoreless innings, giving up one bloop single and striking out two. Betances, a former top pitching prospect as a starter, is opening eyes as a reliever.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Whitley’s first spring outing was a disaster. After pitching a scoreless sixth inning, Whitley, 24, gave up a single, hit a batter and then was tagged for a wind-aided three-run home run by Sanchez. After walking Chris Dickerson he was replaced by Preston Claiborne.
  • Claiborne, 25, did not help matters much by surrendering a walk and the game-winning RBI single to McGuiness. After pitching in 44 games with the Yankees in 2013, Claiborne is being counted upon to shore up a Yankee bullpen that lost closer Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan and Joba Chamberlain.
  • After collecting four hits in the first two innings, the Yankees managed to rap out just three more hits the rest of the game. The also hit into a pair of double plays.

ON DECK

Derek Jeter will begin his final spring training on Tuesday as he makes his first start against the Pirates at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Right-hander David Phelps, one of four competitors for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, will get the start for the Yankees. Phelps, 27, was 6-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 22 games (12 starts) last season.

The Yankees also should play most of what will be their projected starting lineup for the 2014 season. They also will wear their regular-season pinstripe uniforms.

Right-hander Charlie Morton will start for the Pirates. He was 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 20 starts last season.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast live by the YES Network and on a delayed basis at 9 p.m. by the MLB Network.

 

Nuno Looks Sharp As Yankees Defeat Seminoles

EXHIBITION GAME

YANKEES 8, FLORIDA STATE 3

Vidal Nuno fanned three and gave up only an infield single in two innings and Ramon Flores homered while Dean Anna and JR Murphy each stroked RBI doubles as New York defeated the Seminoles in an exhibition game on Tuesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL.

Nuno, 26, who is one of four pitchers vying for the team’s No. 5 starter role, threw 17 of his 26 pitches for strikes and did not walk a batter in earning credit for the victory.

The Seminoles drew a huge contingent of fans among the announced crowd of 7,708 and the colors of garnet and gold lined the upper decks of the stadium.

The contest marked the team’s first meeting against Florida State since 1958, when the Yankees defeated the Seminoles 7-3 in a game played in Tallahassee, FL.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston entered the game for the Seminoles in the fifth inning as a defensive replacement in left field. He was 0-for-2 in the game with a groundout and a strikeout.

Winston told reporters after the game that baseball is just as important to him as football and that he would not mind pursuing a career in both sports as Bo Jackson and FSU alumni Deion Sanders did.

BOMBER BANTER

Manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Tuesday that newly signed free-agent starter Masahiro Tanaka will make his Yankee and spring training debut in relief on Saturday in a game at Steinbrenner Field against the Philadelphia Phillies. Girardi said CC Sabathia will start the game. He will be followed by right-hander Hiroki Kuroda and then Tanaka. Each pitcher is expected to go two innings and throw about 35 pitches. The idea to feature the three starting pitchers in one game, Girardi said, was that of pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Girardi indicated that the three will pitch in a normal rotation after this first outing.

ON DECK

The Yankees officially open their Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field in Bradenton, FL.

The Yankees will start with right-hander Ivan Nova, who is coming of a 2013 season in which he was 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 23 games (20 of them starts). Nova was the Yankees’ hottest pitcher in the second half of the season. He was 7-2 with a 1.73 ERA after July 5.

The Pirates will counter with their 2013 Opening Day starter in left-hander Francisco Liriano, who was 16-8 with 3.02 ERA in 26 starts last season.

The Yankees are scheduled to play three of their high-priced free agents, catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Each are expected to play about four or five innings.

The Pirates will play their projected starting lineup, including former Yankee catcher Russell Martin and All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

Gametime will be 1:05 p.m. EST and the game will be broadcast by MLB Radio through KDKA-FM in Pittsburgh.

 

Stewart’s 3 RBIs Boost CC To Win Over Twins

GAME 11

YANKEES 8, TWINS 3

It is not easy replacing a popular player, particularly when he is really loved by Yankee fans. But Chris Stewart may have taken his first big step on Tuesday in helping those fans get over the absence of backup catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Stewart stroked a bases-loaded single to drive in two runs that gave the Yankees the lead as part of a four-run third inning as New York’s sputtering offense came alive to support the solid pitching of CC Sabathia and New York defeated Minnesota at Yankee Stadium.

Stewart was claimed off waivers from the Giants on the final day of spring training by the Yankees and, because Stewart was out of options, the team opted to send Cervelli to Triple-A.

Trailing 3-1 entering the third inning, Andruw Jones started what proved to be the winning rally with a one-out single off Francisco Liriano (0-2). Curtis Granderson followed with a single down the right-field line that was bobbled by outfielder Trevor Plouffe and both runners moved up a base. Eduardo Nunez then slapped a ball in the hole at shortstop that Jamey Carroll could only knock down and Jones scored.

Liriano then issued his fourth walk in 2 1/3 innings to Brett Gardner to load the bases and Stewart chased the left-hander from the game with a lined single down the left-field line that scored Granderson and Nunez.

Derek Jeter capped the four-run eruption with a sacrifice fly reliever Mark Maloney to score Gardner.

Much like he had in his first two starts, Sabathia (1-0) struggled early in the game, giving up a solo home run to Josh Willingham in the second inning. With one out in the third, he gave up a single to Alexi Casilla, committed a balk to put him at second, pinch-hitter Clete Thomas then doubled to drive in Casilla and Carroll followed with a RBI single to score Thomas.

But after that point, Sabathia turned into the CC that Yankee fans are used to seeing. He retired the next 13 batters in a row until he walked Plouffe with two outs in the seventh. He did not allow another hit and left after giving up just the three runs on four hits and one walk and he struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings.

It was only the Yankees’ third quality start for their pitchers in the first 11 games.

Liriano, meanwhile, has now turned in three horrible starts in a row. He was hammered for five runs on seven hits and four walks and struck out two batters in only 2 1/3 innings. Liriano has now surrendered 17 runs (15 earned) in 11 1/3 innings over three starts. His ERA is now a stratospheric 11.91.

With the victory the Yankees are 6-5 on the season. The Twins are 3-8.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Mark it down that the first official Sabathia sighting was in the fourth inning of tonight’s game with the Twins. Sabathia settled in once he got the lead and shut down the Twins through the eighth inning. After throwing 59 pitches in the first three innings, Sabathia made it to one out in the eighth needing only 52 more (33 of them were strikes). Sabathia is habitually a slow starter who hits his stride in the summer months.
  • Last night the top part of the order carried the offense, going 8-for-16 but the team scored only three runs – all in the first inning. Tonight it was the bottom of the order that carried the team. Jones (batting fifth),  Granderson (batting sixth), Nunez (batting seventh), Gardner (batting eighth) and Stewart (batting ninth) were a combined 9-for-19 (.474) with three walks, they scored all eight of the Yankees’ runs and drove in six.
  • Gardner is very quietly have a very good season at the plate. He was 2-for-2 with an RBI double and two walks, a stolen base and he scored three runs. Gardner is hitting .321 early in the season and he is looking like he does not want to be taken out of the lineup against left-handers. Gardner also made a great diving catch off the bat Willingham to end the Twins’ two-run rally in the third inning.
  • Stewart is a career .203 major-league hitter with only 13 RBIs. On Tuesday, he was 2-for-4 with three RBIs. Stewart added an RBI single in the seventh off reliever Jeff Gray to his two-run single in the third that proved to be the game-winner. Realistically the Yankees only want Stewart to shine as a defensive catcher and they do not care what he hits. But I am sure they appreciated his effort at the plate.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • It is pretty safe to say that the Yankees are looking from big things from Alex Rodriguez after he missed 63 games last season and he is coming off a very good spring. Well, the Yankees are still waiting because he was 0-for-4 on Tuesday and it dropped his average to .227. with one home run and two RBIs.
  • A-Rod was batting fourth and the Yankees are still the only team in baseball who have not gotten an RBI from their cleanup hitter this season. Rodriguez and Robinson Cano have shared that spot this season. Cano was 1-for-5 in the game and is hitting .239 with no home runs and one RBI.
  • Hopefully the Yankees will only see the Sabathia who pitched so well after the third inning. Early in the game, Sabathia was having problems with fastball command, as he had in first two starts. With the effort Sabathia won his first game and lowered his ERA to 5.59. Needless to say, there is a lot of room for improvement in that ERA.

BOMBER BANTER

Home-plate umpire Greg Gibson was a busy man on Tuesday. He not only ejected Twins center-fielder Denard Span for arguing a strike call in the third inning, Gibson also gave the heave-ho to manager Ron Gardnehire right after Span. From the replays, it appeared that Span had a legitimate complaint. Sabathia’s first pitch looked well of the plate inside. But the Twins should not be too upset because they benefitted from the very odd strike zone of Gerry Davis on Monday.

ON DECK

The Yankees will play the third game of the four-game home series with the Twins on Wednesday.

The Yankees will send 37-year-old right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (1-1, 2.63 ERA) to the mound. Kuroda is coming off eight scoreless innings in his Yankee Stadium debut against the Angels last Friday. Kuroda only gave up five hits, walking two and striking out six. He has never faced the Twins.

The Angels will counter with right-hander Jason Marquis, who will be making his 2012 debut after making two rehab starts at Double-A New Britain. Marquis missed two weeks of spring training after his 7-year-old daughter was seriously injured in a bicycle accident. Marquis is 1-0 with a 2.70 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.

 

Twins Claim Rare Victory Over Yankees In Bronx

GAME 10

TWINS 7, YANKEES 3

Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau combined for six hits and three RBIs as Minnesota defeated New York on Monday at Yankee Stadium.

Carl Pavano (1-1) gave up three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out six batters in his seven innings of work to get credit for the victory. Freddy Garcia (0-1) gave up five runs on nine hits and fanned five in 5 2/3 innings to take the loss.

It was only the Twins’ sixth victory in 34 contests against the Yankees in the Bronx since Ron Gardenhire became the team’s manager in 2002.

The Yankees’ season record evens out at 5-5. The Twins are 3-7.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • It looked like the Yankees were going to blow out Pavano and the Twins when they answered the Twins’ two runs in the first with three of their own. Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson opened the inning with a pair of solo home runs and tied the game after just four pitches. Then after an infield hit and error put Alex Rodriguez at second base, Mark Teixiera stroked a one-out single to right-field to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead. It was all downhill from there for the Yankees.
  • Jeter, Granderson, Rodriguez and Teixeira combined to go 8-for-16 in the game but it only translated to just the three runs. That has got to be a first for the Yankees.
  • Granderson made a spectacular running catch in the seventh inning to rob Morneau of an extra-base hit and prevent Mauer scoring another run. Granderson was shading Morneau to right-center and still was able to flag down the fly ball to left center just before he hit the wall. He received a standing ovation from most of the 40,216 fans in attendance.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • For a pitcher who is not guaranteed a spot in the rotation, Garcia better start pitching better. The 35-year-old right-hander has now given up 13 hits and three walks in 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts in 2012. That is an ERA of 6.97 and a WHIP of 1.55. Although Phil Hughes is 0-2 in his first two starts, Garcia has pitched worse. With the emergence of David Phelps as a long man out of the bullpen, it is not a sure thing Garcia will be shifted to there when Andy Pettitte is activated in May. He could be traded or released.
  • One reason the Yankees might not have scored more runs despite the fact that the top of lineup hit .500 is that the bottom of the lineup was a combined 1-for-16. The one hit was a one-out single by Raul Ibanez in the NINTH inning. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin and Brett Gardner were a combined 0-for-11 against the Twins.
  • This is one game the bullpen did not do its job of keeping the Yankees in the game. With the Yankees trailing 5-3, Cory Wade gave up three consecutive hits in the seventh inning, including an RBI double by Danny Valencia and an RBI single by Clete Thomas. The Twins padded their lead to 7-3 and it gave the Yankees a much bigger hole from which to climb out.

BOMBER BANTER

Michael Pineda threw a successful bullpen session on Monday at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, FL. Pineda, 23, is on the 15-day disabled list with tendinitis in right shoulder. He is scheduled to throw another bullpen session in about three days but he is not expected to pitch for the Yankees until sometime in May.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their four-game home series with the Twin on Tuesday.

Ace left-hander CC Sabathia (0-0, 6.75 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Yankees. Sabathia will try to harness his fastball command, which has cost him in his last two starts. Sabathia gave up four runs on eight hits in six innings against the Orioles on Wednesday in his last start. He is 14-8 with a 2.98 ERA against the Twins lifetime.

The Twins will counter with left-hander Francisco Liriano (0-1, 10.00 ERA). Liriano has had subpar outings against the Orioles and Angels, walking five batters in his nine innings of work. He is 1-3 with a 3.08 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

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

 

Williams Keys Yankees’ Comeback Against Twins

GAME 22

YANKEES (SS) 6, TWINS 4

TAMPA – The Yankees got a small glimpse of their future on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner  Field and they have to be very happy with what they saw.

Mega-outfield prospect Mason Williams broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning with an infield single and Mark Teixeira followed with a fielder’s choice groundout that scored an insurance run as a New York split squad rallied from a 4-1 deficit to score five runs in the inning to down Minnesota in Grapefruit League action.

Wiiliams, 20, is the Yankees top-rated outfielder after a season in which he hit .349 with three home runs, 31 RBIs and 28 stolen bases in 68 games with Single-A Staten Island in the New York-Penn League. On Friday he was called upon to pinch-hit for Curtis Granderson in the seventh with the game tied, one out and runners at second and third after Ramiro Pena laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance them.

Williams slapped a hard grounder to second baseman Pedro Florimon and Florimon’s desperate throw home from his knees was too late to get Nunez sliding in with the tie-breaking run. With that hit, the 6-foot, 150-pound centerfielder, has a perfect 1.000 batting average with hits in his only two at-bats.

Ivan Nova (1-2) pitched seven innings to get credit for the victory. But it was one of those “Tale of Two Cities” outings for the 24-year-old right-hander. He opened the game in the “best of times” by pitching four perfect innings, striking out four and retiring four other batters on routine infield grounders.

But Nova’s “worst of times came in the fifth and sixth innings, when he was hammered for four runs on seven hits, which left the Yankees on the wrong end of a 4-0 score.

Unfortunately for Nova, Francisco Liriano was just as good or even better than he was. Liriano shut out the Yankees for five innings on four hits and one walk while striking out five.

The Yankees collected one run off Twins right-hander Jeff Manship on a leadoff home run by Pena in the sixth.

But they batted around on Manship (1-1) and right-hander Jared Burton in the seventh. Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano pitched a pair of scoreless innings to salt away the victory. Soriano got credit for a save.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their spring record to 11-9. The Twins fell to 12-10.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Besides Williams, the Yankees’ hitting star of the day was Eduardo Nunez, who was 3-for-3 and he keyed the seventh-inning rally with a huge two-run double off Manship that drew the Yankees to within a run at 4-3. Nunez is hitting a red-hot .412 this spring despite missing the first two weeks with a bruised right hand.
  • Pena is quietly having a good spring with the bat. He homered and put down a perfect sac bunt in the game and he is hitting .300. However, Nunez will likely win the backup middle infielder role he won from Pena last spring and Pena looks to be headed back to Triple-A for the second straight season.
  • As advertised, the Yankees’ bullpen protected the lead in the eighth and ninth innings. Rivera needed only seven pitches to dispatch the Twins. Soriano pitched a perfect ninth with a strikeout to close it out. As good as last year’s bullpen was the 2012 version has the potential to be even better.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Manager Joe Girardi probably regrets ever saying that Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia would compete for the No. 5 spot in the rotation because it must have given Nova a false sense of security. In 19 2/3 innings over five starts, Nova has given up 16 runs (15 earned) on 23 hits and five walks. After giving up 13 home runs last season, Nova has been tagged for five home runs this spring. With Hughes pitching well and Andy Pettitte returning in May, Nova might want to start pitching better real soon.
  • Granderson and Alex Rodriguez have been having the best springs amongst the regular starters. But on Friday they combined to go 0-for-6 with three strikeouts. They probably can be forgiven for their troubles because they were facing a very tough left-hander in Liriano, who has 2.00 ERA on the spring.
  • Andruw Jones was 0-for-3 and he is having another subpar spring with the bat. he is hitting just .176. But Jones had even a worse spring in 2011 and it worked out OK for him. So I doubt Girardi is too concerned with him.

The Bomber Banter and On Deck features will be posted with the Yankees’ report on the second split squad game against the Phillies.

 

Bosox Rally In Final Two Frames To Tie Yankees

GAME 20

YANKEES 4, RED SOX 4 (9 INNINGS)

If the quote “a tie is like kissing your sister” applies than the Yankees probably feel like they lip-smacked the ugliest sister they have in the Red Sox.

Jason Repko laid down a suicide squeeze bunt to score Ryan Sweeney with one out in the ninth inning as Boston overcame a 4-0 lead in the final two innings to tie New York on Wednesday night at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL.

If Yankee fans want a culprit for blowing the big lead, look no further than right-handed reliever Cory Wade. Wade gave up three runs on four hits (three of them long doubles) in a less-than-stellar two-thirds of an inning.

Juan Cedeno struck out Josh Kroeger with a tying run on second to end the eighth, however, he ran into trouble in the ninth by allowing a leadoff single by Sweeney. George Kontos entered the game and after one out, Mike Aviles slapped a double off the left-field wall to setup Repko’s squeeze bunt that tied the game.

The Yankees built their four-run lead with two runs off Red Sox starter Aaron Cook in the fourth inning, keyed by a RBI double by a red-hot Curtis Granderson and RBI single by Andruw Jones.

They added two runs in the fifth off of former Yankees right-hander Ross Ohlendorf. Brandon Laird led off the frame with a double, Jose Gil singled to right to advance Laird to third. Then with one out, Doug Bernier rolled a single into right to score both runners.

Yankees right-hander Adam Warren started the game and pitched an excellent four innings. Warren, 24, blanked the Bosox on two hits and no walks and he fanned three.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Originally the Yankees had announced David Phelps would start. But Warren pitched instead and he looked sensational. Warren is 0-0 with a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 innings spanning four appearances this spring. The Yankees obviously have no room for Warren with seven pitchers vying for five starting spots but Warren will be part of the “Fab Five” starting for Triple-A Empire State with Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell and Phelps.
  • Granderson’s RBI double raised his spring average to .393. Granderson has six doubles, a triple and a home run among his 11 hits and he is slugging at a .786 clip this spring. For those of you who might have thought that 2012 was a fluke you had better think again.
  • Bernier is 31 and there s no way he will make the team with Derek Jeter, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena ahead of him on the depth chart at shortstop. But he has had a sensational spring in the field and he is hitting .364. If Bernier ends up staying with the Yankees he will play at Triple-A Empire State.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Wade, 28, has given up four runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings over his last two appearances. That has forced his ERA to balloon to a very ugly 7.04 this spring. Wade was integral to the Yankees’ bullpen last season, recording a 6-1 record and a 2.04 ERA. But with potentially two starters being shifted to the bullpen when Andy Pettitte returns in May, Wade might be out of a job if he does not turn it around soon.
  • The Raul Ibanez spring hit meter is still stuck on two. Ibanez was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and his average has dipped (and we do mean dipped) to .054. That means the Yankees are paying Ibanez a whopping $2.25 million per hit. Where do I sign up for that gig?
  • The spring “Siesta Award” will have to shared by Jones and Eric Chavez. Chavez singled to lead off the second but was picked off first base by Cook. After Jones drove in Granderson with his single in the fourth inning he was promptly picked off first by Cook also. Getting caught napping is embarrassing enough but worse when it s the Red Sox. Wake up, guys!

BOMBER BANTER

Pettitte will throw a live batting practice session for the Yankees on Friday at their spring complex. The Yankees are also saying that it is possible the lefty could pitch in a spring training game. Pettitte, 39, said he is targeting May for his return to the big leagues.  . . .  Infielder Jorge Vazquez was struck in the right hand on a pitch from former Yankees right-hander Mark Melancon in the eighth inning and he left the game immediately. Vazquez, 29, will have precautionary X-rays done on the hand and it is unclear how much, if any, time he will miss.  . . .  Jeter participated in a full team workout on Thursday and he is expected to start on Friday. Jeter has missed the last seven games with a sore left calf.  . . .  Nick Swisher said his sore groin is improving and he could return to the lineup sometime this weekend. Swisher left Tuesday’s game against the Pirates when he felt his groin tighten up as he ran out a ground ball.  . . .  CC Sabathia gave up one run in six innings in a game against Double-A hitters on Wednesday. He is on track to pitch the opener for the Yankees on April 6 in St. Petersburg, FL., against the Tampa Bay Rays.

COMMENTARY

Once again, Red Sox manager “Booby” Valentine has shown his hindquarters. Manager Joe Girardi informed home-plate umpire Mark Lollo that he did not have any pitchers available to pitch a 10th inning against the Red Sox. Girardi did have Mitchell on the trip but he had thrown a side session earlier because Girardi did not expect him to get into the game. By the typical spring rules, managers are within their rights to end a tie game after nine innings if they do not feel it is in their interest to push a pitcher into throwing too much. Valentine took umbrage because he chose to warm up Clayton Mortensen in the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth. “It was regretful that Mortensen warmed up, though, and then we were told they weren’t going to play extra innings,” Valentine said. “I don’t think that was very courteous.” Courtesy is extended to those who earn it, “Booby.” Your remarks about Jeter and Alex Rodriguez earlier this spring, which were designed to get back to the Yankees, were uncalled for and extremely discourteous. So as far as see it, “Booby,” you can just suck on it. It is so ironic that it is you that are fit to be tied. Welcome to the rivalry you stoked!

ON DECK

The Yankees will play a pair of games on Friday.

The home squad will face the Minnesota Twins at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Ivan Nova, coming off a horrible performance against the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota on Sunday, is expected to pitch for the Yankees in that game. The Twins will start veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay and live locally on the YES Network.

The road squad will travel to Bright House Field in Clearwater, FL., to face the Philadelphia Phillies. Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is scheduled to start for the Yankees. The Phillies will start right-hander Vance Worley.

Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network on tape delay.

 

A.J. Shines Again As Yanks Play ‘Small Ball’ To Nip Twins

GAME 6
YANKEES 4, TWINS 3
Excellent starting pitching, timely hitting and a good bullpen go a long way towards making a team a winner.
A.J. Burnett tossed six innings of two-run baseball, the Yankees scored runs on a sac fly, a groundout and bloop single and the bullpen made up for a hiccup on Tuesday as New York edged Minnesota on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett (2-0) gave up two runs on five hits and two walks and struck out five batters as he ran his record in April with the Yankees to 7-0. Twins starter Francisco Liriano (0-2) gave up four runs on four hits and three walks and fanned five. Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his fourth save in four chances.
The Yankees improved their record to 4-2. They lead the woeful Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox, who are both 0-6, by four games. The Twins, who have only won seven of their last 39 games at Yankee Stadium, dropped to 2-4.
PINSTRIPE POSITIVES
  • Burnett’s work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on his delivery is obviously paying dividends. Burnett has only walked three batters and has not given up a home run in his first 12 innings of the season. 
  • Andruw Jones may have had a miserable spring but he is not carrying it into the regular season. He homered in his first at-bat of the season on Monday against Twins left-hander Brian Duensing. On Thursday, he doubled in the tying run in the fourth inning off Liriano. Jones is hitting .400 in his limited at-bats.
  • Brett Gardner scuffled in his the first five games, but he bounced back in this game. He drew a leadoff walk in the third inning, stole second and advanced to third on a Derek Jeter groundout. He then scored on a Nick Swisher sac fly. In the fourth inning, his bloop single off Liriano scored Andruw Jones with the third run of the frame and the fourth run of the game for the Yankees. It turned out to be the winning run.
  • Derek Jeter entered the game hitting .147 but he contributed a double and single and also drew a walk. The hits raised his average to .238.
NAGGING NEGATIVES
  • It was not a good day at the plate for DH Jorge Posada. In four at-bats, Posada struck out three times — two of those times looking against Liriano. Posada’s average dipped to .182 despite the fact he has three home runs.
  • New catcher Russell Martin also had a rough game. He was 0-for-3 with two straikeouts, despite the fact his groundout in the fourth scored Robinson Cano with the Yankees’ third run. Martin also committed a costly error trying to gun down Alexi Casilla on a steal attempt at second base in the seventh inning. The ball rolled past Jeter and Casilla scored an unearned run for the Twins on a Denard Span groundout.
  • The Yankees were a woeful 2-for-9 (.222) with runners in scoring position. Swisher, Posada and Alex Rodriguez combined to leave a total of 10 runners on base.
BOMBER BANTER
Swisher slid into second base hard on a grounder by Mark Teixeira to break up a potential double play. But when Swisher took out the leg of rookie Japanese second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Nishioka suffered a broken left fibula and he will placed on the disabled list.  . . .  Rafael Soriano apologized to the media on Wednesday for leaving the locker room after Tuesday’s game without speaking to the media. Soriano, who gave up four runs in the eighth inning, said he was mad at himself for blowing a shutout CC Sabathia had pitched over seven innings. On Thursday, Soriano gave up a leadoff single to Joe Mauer but the retired the Twins in order to preserve the 4-3 lead.  . . .  The rainout on Wednesday cost right-hander Freddy Garcia his debut start with the Yankees and it also cost Eric Chavez, Eduardo Nunez and Gustavo Molina starts. Manager Joe Girardi did choose to rest Curtis Granderson on Thursday against the lefty Liriano. But Granderson was inserted as a pinch-hitter in the sixth with a right-hander on the mound he was 0-for-2 in the game.
ON DECK
The Yankees will travel to a town seething with anger and frustration on Friday. The Yankees will open up a weekend road series with the Boston Red Sox, who lost to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday on suicide squeeze bunt RBI by Asdrubal Cabrera in the bottom of the eighth inning for their sixth loss.
In their 2011 home opener the Red Sox are starting right-hander John Lackey (0-1, 22.09 ERA) who was tattooed for 10 hits and nine runs on Saturday by the Texas Rangers over 3 2/3 innings. It was one of the worst starts in his career. Against the Yankees, Lackey is 6-8 with a 4.43 ERA.
He will be opposed by Phil Hughes (0-1, 11.25), who gave up five runs over four innings on Saturday against the Tigers. The Yankees are concerned by a noticeable drop in velocity in Hughes’ fastball. He is 2-3 with a 4.97 ERA against the Red Sox.
Game-time will be at 2:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
You may want to set your DVRs to see if Red Sox manager Terry Francona is lynched by an angry mob if the Red Sox lose.

Yankees-Twins Washed Out, Series Resumes Thursday

GAME 6
TWINS vs. YANKEES 4 (Postponed, Rain)
Inclement weather in the Bronx, NY, forced postponement of the third game scheduled between the Minnesota Twins and the New Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday.
No makeup date has been announced. That means the Yankees will play the Twins on Thursday afternoon but will not play a late makeup game because both teams have to travel to play day games on Friday.
Manager Joe Girardi also announced that he will skip Freddy Garcia’s spot in the rotation. Garcia was the scheduled starter on Wednesday but now will not pitch until April 15 against the Rangers. Garcia, however, will be available to pitch in the bullpen.
ON DECK
If the weather permits, the Yankees will resume their series with the Twins on Thursday, a game that now shapes up as the rubber game.
The Twins will skip Wednesday’s scheduled starter Carl Pavano and instead will start Francisco Liriano (0-1, 8.31 ERA). Liriano is coming off a performance against the Blue Jays where he was touched for two home runs and five walks in 4 2/3 innings. Liriano is 0-2 with a 3.12 ERA against the Yankees.
The Yankees will counter with A.J. Burnett (1-0, 5.40 ERA), who gave up three runs in five innings against the Tigers for a victory on Saturday. Burnett was 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in two starts against the Twins in 2010.
Game-time will be 1:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

Tex’s 2-Run Shot Puts Yanks On Target Over Twins – Again

AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES – GAME 1
YANKEES 6, TWINS 4

For the Minnesota Twins it was a different venue but the result was just the same.
The script also was the the same. 
For the defending champion New York Yankees it was a script they have been following all season long.
Mark Teixeira’s two-run home run with one out in the seventh inning off Jesse Crain (0-1) broke a 4-4 tie and the Yankees bullpen denied the Twins a comeback at their new Target Field to take home-field advantage away in the opener of their AL division series.
The Yankees have now defeated the Twins in 10 of 12 division series games dating back to 2003 and seven in row dating back to 2004. 
Much was made of this series favoring the Twins in their new palacial ballpark that was built to replace the old Metrodome. Much was also made of the fact the fact that the Yankees came into the series reeling with a poor September record and troubles with their starting pitching.
Wednesday night’s contest was labeled a must-win for the Yankees. If that was the case, well, they have done it. Now it will be the media’s turn to try to invent some more pressure to put on the visitors before Game 2.
The Twins were feeling pretty cocky and confident with ace left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound with a 3-0 lead beginning the sixth inning.
They had built that lead off of the Yankees’ Cy Young candidate CC Sabathia (1-0) on the power of Michael Cuddyer and the legs of Orlando Hudson.
Sabathia misfired on a 1-2 pitch to Jim Thome with one out in the second inning and hit him on the right shoulder with a fastball. Falling behind Cuddyer 2-0, Sabathia tried another fastball and Cuddyer was waiting for it.
The first baseman sent the pitch to straightway center-field, over the wall and into the trees that line the batter’s eye to give the Central Division champions an early 2-0 lead.
The Twins added a run in the third when Hudson led off the inning with a solid single. Hudson then turned in a pretty good imitation of former Yankee Johnny Damon in Game 5 of the 2010 World Series.
As Joe Mauer hit a slow roller to Teixeira that ended up being a diving attempt for the bag between the two of them, Hudson saw that although Texeira had recorded the out, he was in no position to throw him out and he scampered safely to third.
On the very next pitch, Jorge Posada was unable to glove a strike thrown to Delmon Young. The ball rolled away from Posada and Hudson came in racing in with the Twins’ third score of the night.
But Liriano finally showed he was human in the sixth. After pitching five shutout innings in which the lefty had given up only two hits, two walks and struck out five, the wheels fell off his bandwagon after he fanned Nick Swisher to begin the frame.
Teixeira, who entered this series with a .220 average with only three home runs and 12 RBIs since injuring his right thumb on Aug. 27 and breaking his right little toe on Aug. 31, blasted a 0-1 fastball down the left-field line for a double. 
After Liraino uncorked a wild pitch, he ended up walking Alex Rodriguez, putting runners at first and third. 
Robinson Cano, the team’s 2010 Most Valuable Player, then laced a 0-1 fastball past Cuddyer into right-field to plate Teixeira with the Yankees’ first tally. 
After Marcus Thames struck out, Posada — seemingly determined to make up for the costly passed ball — laced a line-drive into right-center to score Rodriguez. Curtis Granderson then followed with the death blow to Liriano’s night.
In past years, Granderson would be an easy out for Liriano or just about any left-hander. But after some retooling of his swing by hitting coach Kevin Long, this is not your father’s Curtis Granderson. This one can hit lefties and he did.
Granderson blasted a high majestic rainbow off the large scoreboard wall in deep center for a triple that scored both Cano and Posada and the Yankees had claimed the lead from the Twins as they have in every game the Yankees have beaten the Twins over the years.
Liriano glumly ended his evening sulking on every step he made to the Twins’ dugout.
Surprisingly, Sabathia did not pitch well most of the night. He had been touched for the three runs on four hits and a hit batter and he struck out only three in five innings. But it looked as if Sabathia was on one of his famous rolls after Hudson’s leadoff single in the third.
From that point on, Sabathia had retired 11 in a row with two out in the bottom of the sixth. Then the unthinkable happened to the Yankee ace.
He walked Jim Thome and Cuddyer followed with a line drive that Brett Gardner dove for and caught in his glove. However, the ball rolled out of his glove as Gardner hit the turf for a double. Sabathia then chose to pitch around Jason Kubel by walking him to load the bases so Sabathia could face rookie Danny Valencia, who he had struck out twice in his previous at-bats.
However, sometimes well-thought plans can go awry.
Sabathia threw the third baseman four consecutive balls to allow the Twins to tie the game without having to exert any real effort. The Yankees were stunned. The Twins were even more stunned.
Sabathia escaped further trouble by fanning J.J. Hardy to end the inning.
Fortunately for the Sabathia and the Yankees, Crain was in a giving mood in the seventh. Swisher nicked him for a ground single to center with one out. Teixeira then fought Crain to a 3-2 count and launched a hanging slider high and deep into the fall Minneapolis atmosphere and it curled just inside the right-field foul pole for a two-run home run.
For the 10th time in 12 postseason games against the Yankees, the Twins were the recipients of a fatal dagger. 
The Twins did manage to try to make it interesting by putting two runners on base in the bottom of the seventh with two out. However, David Robertson put down that uprising by striking out Thome on a nasty curveball that disappeared into the dirt as Thome flailed helplessly over it.
In the eighth inning, the Twins tried again to mount a comeback. Kubel drew a walk off Kerry Wood and Valencia followed with a slow roller on which Rodriguez could not make a play. While Wood retired Hardy on a grounder to Cano, pinch-runners Jason Repko and Matt Tolbert each advanced a base.
Manager Joe Girardi summoned Mariano Rivera to close out the inning. And, as he has done so many times before in 15 postseasons past, Rivera did just that. He retired Denard Span on an infield grounder to Jeter.
Rivera then returned in the ninth to record his 40th postseason save. He retired Hudson and Mauer easily to start the inning. But he ran into a bit of a problem with Delmon Young, but believe the TV replays when I say it was not really a problem at all.
Young laced a sinking liner into right-field. Greg Golson, inserted into the lineup that inning as a defensive replacement, caught the ball just before it hit the ground for what appeared to be the third out.
However, right-field umpire Chris Guccione blinked at the wrong time because he claimed Golson trapped the ball and he awarded first base to Young. Girardi went out to argue and t
he umpires huddled with crew chief and home-plate umpire Jerry Crawford.
I guess all six umpires must have blinked at the same time because Crawford upheld Guccione’s call.
With Thome representing the potential tying run at the plate, visions of the poor calls that beset the Yankees-Twins 2010 ALDS popped into the heads of the 42,302 standing-room only crowd at Target Field.
But, lucky for Guccione and the other umpires, Thome popped out weakly to Rodriguez to end the game. So Rivera not only recorded his first ever “four-out” ninth-inning save, he also saved the rear ends of some pretty myopic umpires.
That nervous exhale you are now hearing is that of commissioner Bud Selig.
The whimpers and cries you are hearing are those of the Twins and what could have been but was not to be.
The Yankees will start Game 2 with veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (11-3, 3.28 ERA), who is the winningest postseason pitcher in baseball history. Though he struggled in his last two starts coming back from a strained groin, Pettitte sports an 11-1 record in his last 15 starts against the Twins.
The “must-win” Twins will be using right-hander Carl Pavano (17-11, 3.75 ERA), who collected $40 million from the Yankees by nursing four full years worth of injuries. This also is a rematch of Game 3 of the 2009 ALDS when Pavano pitched very well but Pettitte pitched better and the Yankees swept the series.
Could the same script play out on Thursday? If it does, the Twins might need to nurse some pretty serious self-inflicted injuries of their own.
Game-time will be 6:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by TBS.

Yankees Appear Primed For Yet Another Sweep Of Twins


The New York Yankees come into their series with Minnesota Twins as wild cards, seemingly limping and just about out of gas. Go ahead. Think that. It will just make the Yankees’ dominance over the Twins in recent years look even more impressive. The Twins actually did better against the Yankees this season, They won two games. Of course, the Yankees started Sergio Mitre and Javier Vazquez in those games and neither are starting these contests. So who will win?

OFFENSE

The Yankees are loaded with three hitters who drove in 100 runs and five starters who blasted 24 or more home runs. They also led the American League in runs scored.
Navigating through a lineup with Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Marcus Thames, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner is not going to be easy for Francisco Liriano.
There is power galore and Granderson, Jeter and Gardner can steal bases when necessary. 
The Twins finally told Justin Morneau to shut it down for good on Monday. The first baseman, who was hitting .347 in July was ruled out for the rest of the season with the after-effects of a lingering concussion.
That is a big blow to the Twins, who must rely on catcher Joe Mauer to provide the lion’s share of the offense. He may have hit .327 but he only hit nine home runs and drove in 75 runs this season, reverting back to his early years.
The Twins rely on a simple formula: Get them on, get them over and get them in. That means they are interdependent lineup. Delmon Young is the new Morneau on this team after he hit 21 home runs, drove in 112 runs and hit .298 in a bounce-back season.
The Twins also rely on right-hand hitter Michael Cuddyer (81 RBIs) and lefties Jaosn Kubel (21 home runs and 92 RBIs) and Jim Thome (25 home runs) to provide pop to “get them in.”
Denard Span and Orlando Hudson are the guys expected to get on base. Span hit a miserable .264 but stole 26 bases. Hudson hit .268 and stole 10.
The sad thing for the Twins is left-handers give them fits because Mauer, Thome and Kubel all struggle against lefties. That puts more pressure on Cuddyer and Young to produce. Both have produced against ordinary lefties but neither has hit CC Sabathia well.
DEFENSE

The Yankees and Twins were No. 1 and No. 2 few the fewest errors committed in 2010. The Twins do not have dominant starting pitchers so they emphasize reducing walks, putting the ball in play, letting the defense make plays and not beating themselves with errors.
However, in the American League Division Series in 2009, the Twins kept making a litany of mental errors that eventually cost them the series. It is no accident the Yankees exploited that weakness because they are good at it.
The Twins do not boast a lot of speed but they make the plays in the field. Mauer is exceptional behind the plate. Orlando Hudson is former Gold Glove winner at second and Span has exceptional range in center.
The rest is pretty mediocre and Kubel is just plain awful in right.
The Yankees boast an infield with the Gold Glove winners and second baseman Robinson Cano likely deserves his first for his play this season. Combined Cano, Jeter, Teixeira and Rodriguez committed 19 errors. That is the lowest total for an infield in baseball.
Posada and Francisco Cervelli have not thrown well at all this season and they have not caught many runners. But most of the problem lies with pitchers like A.J. Burnett, who do not hold runners on well.
The Yankees outfield has speed and range with Granderson and Gardner and good arms with Gardner and Swisher (22 assists).
Neither team has a decided edge here but do not be surprised if a Twins error or mental mistake costs them a game in this series.
PITCHING

The Yankees feature a threesome of Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, who are a combined 50-19 this season. The Twins are countering with Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano and Brian Duensing, who were a combined 41-24.
Pettitte beat Liriano twice this season while Hughes and Sabathia did not make a start against the Twins. The pitcher who maybe should be starting for the Twins is Nick Blackburn. He beat the Yankees in the two games the Twins won. But Blackburn is scheduled to pitch Game 4 and that means he likely will face Sabathia. Lots of luck, Nick!
Duensing was in the bullpen when the Yankees played the Twins in May but he did start the first game of the ALDS against the Yankees last season and he failed to win.
Even with the questions surrounding Pettitte, shouldn’t there be questions surrounding Pavano? The former Yankee disabled list malingerer is 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA, however, since July 27 Pavano is 4-5 with a 4.85 ERA.
In September, Pavano was 2-1 with a 6.21 ERA. That hardly bodes well come playoff time.
The Yankees have a big edge here because left-handers will likely start four of the scheduled five games. The Twins just do not have a lineup that can do much damage against Sabathia and Pettitte when they are on their games.
BULLPEN

The Twins have gone through three closers in the wake of the injury to Joe Nathan that has forced him to miss the season.
They began with Jon Rauch and then tried former Angels closer Brian Fuentes. It seems they have now settled on former Pirates closer Matt Capps, who is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 16 saves in 18 attempts.
Rauch is dealing with a sore left knee but is expected to be available. The Yankees know Fuentes all too well from his stint as the Angels’ closer in the American League Championship Series in 2009. Remember Alex Rodriguez?
The Twins also have a solid lefty in Jose Mijares and righties Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. The long man is expected to be Kevin Slowey.
The Yankees have the most successful closer in major-league playoff history in Mariano Rivera. Despite his three blown saves in September, it is hard to believe that Rivera will be anything but exceptional in his 15th postseason.
The Yankees also solidified their bullpen with the trade deadline acquisition of Kerry Wood. Wood has only given up one earned run since joining the Yankees on Aug. 1. Joba Chamberlain has also improved from his horrible mid-season to record a 2.36 ERA since Wood joined the team.
David Robertson and Boone Logan have provided consistent middle relief as well and the Yankees have two solid long relievers in Sergio Mitre and Dustin Moseley.
You have to give a decided edge here to the Yankees, given the presence of Rivera and Wood and the fact that Chamberlain, Robertson and Logan have been so good in the last two months of the season.
BENCH

The Yankees have a solid hitter in Lance Berkman and power in right-hand slugger Marcus Thames. They also have a veteran outfielder in Austin Kearns and speed and defense in the form of infielder Ramiro Pena and outfielder Greg Golson. Cervelli is a solid backup catcher though he likely will not play in the series.
The Twins use a lot of platoons which means their bench players do start at times. They have Jim Thome as a part-time
DH and Drew Butera is the backup catcher but he will not play with Mauer around.
The Twins rotate shortstops in Alexi Casilla and J.J. Hardy and Nick Punto and Danny Valencia at third. The also have outfielder Jason Repko.
The Twins bench is functional but hardly loaded. It is more of a solid bench. The Yankees bench is not a strength but they do not intend to use it much in the opening round. 
So I do not think either team has a true edge here.
PREDICTION: The Yankees will win it in three games.


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