Results tagged ‘ Jason Bay ’

RBI Single By Yankees’ Hot ‘Stew’ Cooks Mariners

GAME 63

YANKEES 2, MARINERS 1

With the home run much less part of their arsenal the 2013 New York Yankees have had to rely on solid pitching from its starters and bullpen, a timely hit or two to claim a late lead and utilizing the best closer in baseball history to win games. That formula worked to perfection on Sunday.

Right-hander David Phelps matched the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez pitch-for-pitch, Chris Stewart hit a two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth inning to break a 1-1 tie and Mariano Rivera ended his career at Safeco Field with his 37th save in 39 tries against the Mariners as New York edged Seattle in front of a paid crowd of 43,389.

Stewart’s game-winning hit in the ninth off reliever Yoervis Medina (1-2) was set up by a leadoff walk by Ichiro Suzuki and a sacrifice bunt by Jayson Nix that moved Suzuki into scoring position. Stewart followed one out later by slapping a 1-0 pitch into left-field and Suzuki was able to beat the throw from left-fielder Raul Ibanez with ease.

David Robertson (4-1) got into a jam in the eighth inning by giving up a leadoff double to Alex Liddi and a sacrifice bunt by Brendan Ryan that advanced Liddi to third. But Robertson escaped further trouble and earned the victory by striking out Jason Bay and and Nick Franklin.

Rivera gave up two singles and a walk in the ninth inning but he earned his 23rd save in 24 opportunities this season by inducing Michael Saunders to fly out to left with two on and two out.

Phelps, however, deserves a lot of credit for holding the Mariners to just one run on three hits and three walks while he fanned six in six innings of work. In his past two starts, Phelps has given up one run on four hits and seven walks with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings.

Phelps held a 1-0 lead going into the second inning, but Kelly Shoppach touched him for a one-out double to left. Phelps then issued a costly two-out walk to Liddi before Ryan swatted a roller deep into the hole at short upon which Reid Brignac was unable to make a play, allowing Shoppach to score the tying run.

The Yankees, meanwhile, got to Hernandez early by pushing across a run in the top of the second.

Nix led off the frame with a single to center and he later stole second. One out later, Stewart dropped down a perfect bunt single to advance Nix to third. Brett Gardner, who would end up 4-for-5 in the game, then delivered a lined single to center to score Nix.

Hernandez yielded just the one run on five hits and two walks and he struck seven batters in seven innings.

With the victory the Yankees claimed three of the four games against the Mariners and they improved their season record to 37-27. They Yankees remain in second place in the American League East 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. The Mariners fell to 27-37.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Stewart’s value is going far beyond that of a great defensive catcher with a career .217 batting average. Since being pressed into a starting role due to a broken right hand suffered by starter Francisco Cervelli, Stewart has been contributing much better with the bat than was expected. He was 2-for-4 in the game to raise his season average to .276, which is second to only Gardner on the team.
  • Speaking of Gardner, the 29-year-old center-fielder is hotter than Hades with the bat. His 4-for-5 day raised his season average to a team-best .284. Since May 24, Gardner is 23-for-63 (.365) with three home runs and 11 RBIs. He has failed to get at least one hit in only two of his past 17 games and has a seven-game hitting streak.
  • Phelps is beginning to settle in nicely as the team’s No. 5 starter and it is doubtful we will be seeing Ivan Nova reclaim that spot anytime soon. Other than his terrible outing against the New York Mets on May 29 when he only lasted one-third of an inning, Phelps is 3-1 with a 2.60 ERA. He has given up just 13 runs on 31 hits and 17 walks with 40 strikeouts in 45 innings covering his other seven starts.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Mark Teixeira had a real tough day at the office. He was 0-for-5 with four strikeouts and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Teixeira is now hitting just .167 in his first 10 games. But, at the same time, Teixeira has also delivered three home runs and eight RBIs.
  • Robinson Cano did reach base in the eighth after being hit by pitch and drew a walk in the ninth, however, he was 0-for-3 in the game. Cano is in a huge slump since May 31 in which he is 4-for-34 (.118) with one home run and four RBIs. That slump has lowered his season average from .292 to .272.
  • Brignac is a good defensive shortstop and he does have value as left-handed hitter. But Brignac was 0-for-4 on Sunday and he is just 4-for-29 (.138) without a homer or RBI since he joined the Yankees. It would be nice if Eduardo Nunez would get over that nagging oblique injury so the Yankees can cut Brignac loose.

BOMBER BANTER

It would not be a day with the Yankees without an injury to report. Corner infielder Kevin Youkilis missed Sunday’s game due to a recurrence of lower back stiffness. Youkilis re-injured his back on Saturday when he slid into first base to record an out of Ibanez in the second inning in the Yankees’ 3-1 victory over the Mariners on Saturday. Manager Joe Girardi hopes Youkilis will be able to return to the field on Tuesday. He is listed as day-to-day.

ON DECK

The Yankees will take the day off on Monday before resuming their West Coast road trip against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday.

Red-hot left-hander CC Sabathia (6-4, 3.74 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia gave up four runs on seven hits and a walk while he fanned nine batters in a complete-game victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. Sabathia is 8-9 with a 4.50 ERA against the A’s in his career.

Former Yankee right-hander Bartolo Colon (7-2, 3.14 ERA) will oppose Sabathia. Colon surrendered one run on eight hits and two walks while striking out four in seven innings in a victory against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. Colon is 3-7 with a 6.84 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

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

 

Pettitte Handcuffs Mariners To Notch Win No. 250

GAME 62

YANKEES 3, MARINERS 1

When Andy Pettitte came up to the New York Yankees in 1995 anyone could have spotted quickly there was something different about him as opposed to most young pitchers: He was driven to succeed and he would battle with every ounce of strength he had to win.

Some 18 years later he displayed those same qualities against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday and it was something special to see.

Pettitte (5-3) completely shut down the Mariners on one run on just three hits to notch the 250th victory of his career as New York defeated Seattle in front of 38,250 fans at Safeco Field.

The 40-year-old left-hander did not walk a batter and struck out six to pass Vic Willis for 43rd place on the all-time victory list. Pettitte needed only 85 pitches and he threw 59 of them for strikes, which is a tidy 69 percent rate.

The Yankees, meanwhile, got a pair of RBI singles from Jayson Nix to make a loser out of left-hander Joe Saunders (4-6).

With the game tied 1-1 in the top of the fifth inning, Ichiro Suzuki drew a leadoff walk and, one out later, Chris Stewart singled to center. After Brett Gardner hit into a fielder’s choice that erased Stewart, Nix slapped a two-out opposite-field single to right to score Suzuki with what proved to be the game-winning run.

The Yankees chased Saunders in the seventh inning when Gardner lofted a one-out double into right-center.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge replaced Saunders with right-hander Danny Farquhar and Nix greeted him with a line-drive single to center that scored Gardner.

David Robertson pitched two-thirds of an inning of the eighth and Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the side, to earn his 22nd save in 23 chances this season.

The Yankees opened the scoring with two outs in the first inning when Mark Teixeira doubled to left and Robinson Cano stroked a looping single into right to score Teixeira.

The Mariners managed to tie the game in the fourth against Pettitte, but it was a missed opportunity by Nix that allowed it to happen.

Jason Bay led off the frame with a single to left and Kyle Seager followed with a lined single to right.

Kendrys Morales, who left the game after this at-bat because of a back injury, then rolled a potential double-play ball to short that Nix bobbled. Nix was able to get a throw off to first to retire Morales but Michael Morse made Nix and the Yankees pay when he lofted a sacrifice fly to center to score Bay.

The Yankees won their fifth out their past six games to improve their season record to 36-26. They remain in second place in the American League East 1 1/2 games ahead of the first-place Boston Red Sox. The Mariners dropped to 27-36.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • In his first start off the 15-day disabled list on June 3, Pettitte ran out of gas in the fifth inning and surrendered three runs to the Cleveland Indians that left the game tied at 4-4. Pettitte was determined not to let that happen again. He retired the first nine batters he faced and in six of the seven full innings he pitched he retired the side in order. This was Pettitte at his best and it bolsters the depth of the Yankees’ starting rotation.
  • Though Nix’s misplay did ruin Pettitte’s shutout, he more than made up for it at the plate by going 2-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base and two RBIs. Very quietly Nix has been one of the hottest hitters on the Yankees since May 24. In that span, Nix is 15-for-44 (.341) with a home run and seven RBIs. Nix may not be a superstar but he is a solid ballplayer. You get a professional day of work out of him and you hardly know he’s there.
  • Gardner is settling in nicely as the leadoff hitter after hitting only .252 in April. Gardner was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a run scored and is 19-for-58 (.328) since May 24 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. In fact, Gardner has 26 RBIs, which is fourth on the club, and he is doing it from the leadoff spot.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Kevin Youkilis drew a walk in the sixth inning, which extended his streak of reaching base in all 23 games he has played at Safeco Field. But he was 0-for- 3 in the game with two strikeouts and double play grounder. Since Youkilis’ return from the disabled list on May 31, he is 4-for-28 (.143) with no homers or RBIs. His season average has sunk to .239.
  • David Adams got a start at third base but his recent troubles at the plate are continuing. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and his season average has now dipped to .217. The Yankees opted to send out outfielder Brennan Boesch in order to keep Adams but it is looking like Adams needs more work at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

ON DECK

The Yankees will complete their four-game weekend series with Seattle on Sunday.

Right-hander David Phelps (4-3, 4.17 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Phelps is coming off what could be the best start of his career on June 4 against the Indians. The 26-year-old hurler gave up just one hit over six shutout innings. Phelps also is 1-0 with 0.00 ERA in his career against the Mariners.

But Phelps draws ace right-hander Felix Hernandez (7-4, 2.58 ERA). Hernandez won his last start on June 4 but gave up four runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox. Hernandez is 8-5 with a 2.99 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

Six-Run Barrage Allows Hughes To Sink Mariners

GAME 60

YANKEES 6, MARINERS 1

The last time Phil Hughes faced the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on May 15 he gave up seven runs, six hits and two walks in just two-thirds of an inning. He was in the clubhouse before some fans had returned to their seats with their hot dogs and popcorn.

But Hughes got a huge measure of revenge against the Mariners on Thursday at Safeco Field in Seattle.

Hughes pitched seven-plus innings of dominant baseball while the Yankees sent 11 men to the plate and strung seven consecutive hits together against veteran right-hander Aaron Harang to score six runs as New York cruised past Seattle in front of paid crowd of 18,776.

Hughes (3-4) held the Mariners to just three hits and a walk while he struck out seven heading into the eighth inning. But Hughes opened the frame by walking Kelly Shoppach and Yankees manager Joe Girardi replaced him with Preston Claiborne.

After a fielder’s choice grounder off the bat of Brendan Ryan erased Shoppach, Jason Bay slashed a one-hopper that skipped between Kevin Youkilis’ legs for an error. Boone Logan replaced Claiborne and was greeted by an RBI double by Kyle Seager that scored Ryan with Seattle’s only run, albeit an unearned one.

Meanwhile, the Yankees staked Hughes with all the runs he really needed in the third inning off Harang (2-6).

Jayson Nix opened the frame with a single to left, the Yankees first hit of the game. One out later, Brett Gardner executed a perfect hit-and-run singe to right to advance Nix to third. Then Robinson Cano lined his 15th home run of the season deep into the bleachers in right-field.

Mark Teixeira followed two pitches later with his third home run in only his seventh game of the season.

Travis Hafner singled and Youkilis doubled him to third before Vernon Wells blooped an RBI single over the head of second baseman Nick Franklin to score Hafner. Ichiro Suzuki closed out the scoring and ended Harang’s evening with a lined single to left that scored Youkilis.

Harang was tagged for six runs on eights hits and he struck out three in 2 1/3 innings. The pounding raised his season ERA to 6.70.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge replaced Harang with Blake Beavan, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma earlier in the day. The right-hander shut down the Yankees over the final 6 2/3 innings on a single hit, a leadoff single by Hafner in the eighth inning.

With the victory, the team’s fourth straight, the Yankees are now 35-25 and they remain in second place in the American League East, 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. The Mariners dropped to 26-35.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • This was the fewest hits Hughes has allowed in a start since he limited the Minnesota Twins to only two hits on Aug. 11, 2011. Though Hughes has been wildly inconsistent this season, he looked dominant in this start because he kept his pitches out of the middle of the plate and he did not get bogged down in deep counts. Hughes lowered his season ERA to 4.80.
  • Cano’s home run was his first since one he hit against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on May 30. Cano entered the game mired in a 2-for-20 (.100) skid dating back to May 31. Despite the slump, Cano still leads the Yankees in home runs (15), RBIs (39) and batting average (.280).
  • Teixeira is off to a great start from a power standpoint. He has three homers and eight RBIs in his first seven games. Of course, he also has struck out 10 times in his first 22 at-bats and his season average is .227. But the Yankees will overlook the punchouts and low average because they certainly need his power.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The only hitter in the lineup who did not record a hit in the game was Austin Romine, who was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he did not get a ball out of the infield. The Yankees knew when they recalled Romine from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre they were getting a good defensive catcher with limited offensive skills. Romine is confirming that assessment because he is hitting an anemic .146. He had the distinction of making the first and third outs in the Yankee’s six-run third inning.
  • Youkilis’ third error of the season in the eighth inning ended up costing Hughes a potential shutout. If Youkilis had stopped Seager’s grounder it would have resulted in an inning-ending double play.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees selected left-hand-hitting third baseman Eric Jagielo, a junior at Notre Dame, with the 26th pick in the first round of the amateur player draft on Thursday. Jagielo, 21, was named the Big East Player of the Year in 2013 and he hit 13 home runs in the Cape Cod League last summer. With the 32nd pick in the first round, the Yankees selected 6-foot-7, 255-pound outfielder Aaron Judge out of Fresno State. Judge, 21, batted .369 with 12 home runs and 36 RBIs for Fresno State this season. With their final choice of the first round at No. 33 the Yankees selected left-hander Ian Clarkin from James Madison High School in San Diego. Clarkin, 18, was 9-2 with a 0.35 ERA this season.

ON DECK

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

Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (6-4, 2.59 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Kuroda is coming off a rain-shortened 3-0 loss against the Red Sox on Sunday. He is 2-2 with a 2.70 ERA lifetime against the Mariners.

The Mariners will counter with journeyman right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (0-1, 13.50 ERA). Bonderman yielded seven runs on nine hits, three of them home runs, in 4 2/3 innings against the Twins on Sunday. He is 3-9 with a 5.62 ERA against the Yankees in his career.

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

 

Yankees ‘Martinize’ Mets In 9th For Bronx Sweep

GAME 59

YANKEES 5, METS 4

Amid all the chatter about the struggles of Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez and talk about the team not hitting with runners in scoring position, Russell Martin was slumping worse than any of the Yankees and it was something he was suffering through silently.

He went to hitting coach Kevin Long and they worked on some adjustments and quietly they have been paying off since May 20. For the Yankees those adjustments looked golden on Sunday but for the Mets they were a source of some painful heartbreak.

Martin blasted a huge two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to draw the Yankees to within a run of the Mets at 3-2. Two innings later, Martin led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a walk-off solo home run that gave the Yankees a home Subway Series sweep over the luckless crosstown Mets.

The Mets, who had led the game since the second inning 3-0, surrendered the lead in the bottom of the eighth but managed to tie it in the ninth by putting a run across off closer Rafael Soriano for his first blown save of the season.

So the Mets sent reliever Jon Rauch to the mound in the ninth and Martin managed to battle him into a 3-2 count. Rauch hung a slider and Martin deposited the mistake into the seats in left-field for his second homer of the game and his eighth of the season.

A sellout crowd of 49,010 at Yankee Stadium rose to its feet cheering as Martin headed around third toward a sea of pinstripes waiting at home plate to greet him. But Martin mistimed his leap and stumbled across home plate with the run that nonetheless gave the Yankees a huge leg up on their annual six-game home-and-away series with the rival Mets.

Boone Logan (1-0), who rescued Soriano from a first-and-third with one out jam in the top of the ninth by striking out pinch-hitter Josh Thole looking and retiring Kirk Nieuwenhuis on a hard-hit grounder Robinson Cano saved from rolling into right-field  to score the tie-breaking, got credit for the victory.

Rauch (3-6) was saddled with the loss.

The late-inning drama overshadowed a superb effort by Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese, who had shut out the Yankees through 6 2/3 innings only to be hurt by a throwing error by David Wright on a grounder off the bat of Andruw Jones. Three pitches later, Martin was able to shoot a lined shot to the right-field wall over the glove of a leaping Scott Hairston. The ball struck the padding of the top of the wall in right-field and was caught by a fan in the first row for a home run.

So Niese ended the day having given up two runs (neither earned) on seven hits and one walk and he struck out six batters.

Meanwhile, the Mets used a combination of well-placed hits, some questionable umpiring and an error to bat around in the second inning against Yankees starter Andy Pettitte.

Hairston led off the frame with a double to left-field. One out later, Vinny Rottino rolled a ground ball just past Jayson Nix at short to score Hairston to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead.

Pettitte then threw a 3-2 pitch to Omar Quintanilla that looked to be over the plate at the knees on the outside corner. However, home plate umpire Mike Muchlinski called it a ball. Then Mike Nickeas rolled a ball up the middle and Cano – in his haste to turn a double play – had the ball carom off his glove for an error that loaded the bases.

No. 9 hitter Jordany Valdespin, who entered play on Sunday hitting .133, then inside-outed a ball just past Teixeira at first to increase the Mets’ lead to 3-0.

Pettitte walked Andres Torres but got out of further trouble by striking out both Jason Bay and Wright swinging.

Pettitte recovered to pitch three scoreless innings but left the game after six innings because of a bruised pitching hand he sustained when he bare-handed a hard-hit one-hopper off the bat of Hairston to open the inning. Pettitte completed the inning but left the game to have some precautionary X-rays.

He gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks and he fanned eight.

The Yankees, meanwhile, down 3-2 in the eighth, preyed upon the departure of Niese, the weakness of the Mets’ bullpen and some more shoddy infield play.

Derek Jeter opened the inning against Mets reliever Bobby Parnell with a slow roller to Quintanilla at short. The ball rolled under his glove and into shallow center while Jeter legged it into second base with an infield single and an error. Curtis Granderson followed with a sharp single to right that advanced Jeter to third.

The Mets inexplicably decided not to deploy a shift on the lefty-swinging Teixeira and he made them pay by rolling a ball up the middle to score Jeter with the tying run and Granderson advanced to third.

Rodriguez then gave the Yankees their first lead of the day by blooping a well-placed single into shallow right-field just out of the reach of Valdespin to score Granderson.

However, the lead was short-lived when Lucas Duda greeted Soriano in the ninth with a double over the head of Granderson in center and slumping first baseman Ike Davis followed a double of his own to the wall in right-center.

After Quintanilla grounded into a fielder’s choice in which Nix deftly threw to third to nip a sliding, pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy singled to right and Soriano was replaced with Logan.

Logan’s escape from the one-out jam set the stage for Martin’s heroics in the bottom of the ninth.

The Yankee have now defeated the Mets in 52 of 87 contests in the Subway Series and it gave them their first home sweep of the series since 2003.

The Yankees are now 34-35 on the season and they remain a half-game back of the Rays in second place in the American League East. The Mets dropped to 32-29.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Martin served notice that his season-long slump is definitely over. Martin was 2-for-4 with the two home runs and three very important RBIs. As of May 20, Martin was hitting .168. Since that time, he is 15-for-47 (.319) with four home runs and 10 RBIs. He has raised his batting average to .216 and .222 is his season high.
  • Logan bailed out Soriano and the Yankees with some excellent clutch pitching in the ninth to retire Thole and Niewenhuis with the go-ahead runner at third and one out. Logan has not been scored upon since May 20, which spans 3 1/3 innings in his last eight appearances. He has been scored upon in only four of his 29 games this season and his season ERA is now 2.66.
  • Clutch eighth-inning singles by Teixeira and Rodriguez are welcome sights to Yankee fans after watching them largely fail in those situations in the first two months of the season. Rodriguez had an RBI in each of the three weekend games and he has six RBIs this month after driving in only eight runs in May. Teixeira had only 20 RBIs on May 22, since then he has 16 in his last 18 games.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Nick Swisher wins the “Bonehead Player of the Game” award handily. With two on and no outs in the second inning he took it upon himself to bunt to get the runners over despite the fact the Mets could have chose to walk Jones intentionally to pitch to Martin and Nix to get out of the jam. But he compounded that mistake by bunting the ball right to Niese, who threw Rodriguez out at third by a country mile. Swisher later grounded into a double play after Cano had singled in the seventh. Swisher was 0-for-4 in the game and his season average fell to .247.
  • Cano’s error in the second inning really hurt Pettitte and the Yankees. In what could have been at least a force play and at most a double play, the Yankees got nothing and Valdespin followed with his two-run double. A Gold Glove second baseman has to make that play. It was only Cano’s third error of the season but, boy, did it hurt.
  • Soriano was 9-for-9 in save opportunities until Sunday. The run he gave up was his first since a May 10 game at Yankee Stadium against the Rays. Soriano, who spent a portion of  2010 on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder, blew three saves in five opportunities last season.

BOMBER BANTER

X-rays on Pettitte’s left hand showed no damage but the hand was bandaged as a precaution. Pettitte said his hand was bruised and swollen but it would not prevent him from making his next scheduled start in Washington against the Nationals on Saturday.  . . .  Right-hander Freddy Garcia rejoined the team on Sunday after attending his grandfather’s funeral in Venezuela. He was activated from the bereavement list and reliever Ryota Igarashi was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

ON DECK

The Yankees will embark on a six-game road trip that starts in Atlanta with a three-game series that opens on Monday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (7-2, 5.09 ERA) will open the series on the hill for the Yankees. Nova limited the Rays to one run on four hits in eight-plus innings in what may have been his best major-league outing. Nova has never faced the Braves.

The Braves will start right-hander Randall Delgado (4-5, 4.26 ERA). In his last start, Delgado gave up one run on two hits over 6 1/3 innings against the Marlins. He walked one and set a career high with seven strikeouts. Delgado has never faced the Yankees.

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

 

Kuroda Shines As Yankees Go Deep On Santana

GAME 57

YANKEES 9, METS 1

With Johan Santana opening the first game of the 2012 Subway Series at Yankee Stadium on Friday, pitching for the first time after throwing his historic franchise first no-hitter, there was a big buzz among the sellout crowd of 48,566 before the game started.

Unfortunately for Santana and the Mets it was the opposing pitcher who ended up commanding centerstage.

Hiroki Kuroda tossed 3 1/3 innings of perfect baseball and 5 2/3 innings of no-hit baseball and ended up shutting out the Mets on just one hit for seven innings while Santana was racked for four Yankee home runs – two by Robinson Cano – as the Yankees downed the Mets in lopsided laugher.

Kuroda (5-6) lost his perfect game in the fourth on a fielding error by Derek Jeter, but he extended his no-hitter into the sixth inning until Omar Quintanilla stroked a 3-2 pitch for two-out double to the left-centerfield wall. If Kuroda had pitched a no-hitter it would have marked the first time in major-league history a pitcher who had thrown a no-hitter in his previous start had his team no-hit by the opposing team in his next start.

Kuroda issued a two-out walk to Lucas Duda in the seventh and then was struck in the left foot by a line-drive off the bat of Daniel Murphy. But, in a night when nothing seemed to go right for the Mets, Alex Rodriguez caught the carom out of the air to retire the side.

Kuroda left the game for precautionary X-rays on his foot, which showed only a contusion and no fracture. But Kuroda’s availability for his next start is in question because he left the stadium on crutches.

While Kuroda was mowing down the Mets, Santana was having trouble with the command of his pitches and he paid dearly for it in both the second and third innings.

With two out in the second inning, Rodriguez drew a walk and Cano followed by smacking a first-pitch fastball into the right-field bleachers for his 10th home run of the season.

A similar scenario played out for Santana in the third – only it got much, much worse.

With two out, Rodriguez singled sharply to left and Cano again blasted the first pitch he saw – this time a hanging slider – which landed in a nanosecond in the second deck in right-field.

To add to Santana’s agony, Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones followed Cano with solo home runs and the Yankees had a commanding 6-0 lead with Kuroda keeping the Mets dancing like marionettes.

Kuroda ended up with a season-high seven strikeouts and he threw 52 of his 91 pitches for strikes to give the Yankees their 50th victory over the Mets in the history of the 85-game Subway Series, which dates back to 1997.

Santana, meanwhile, left after five innings having been pounded for six runs on seven hits and one walk and he struck out five batters. It was a far cry from his magical no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals last Saturday.

The Yankees added three runs in the seventh inning off rookie right-hander Elvin Ramirez.

The Mets, on the other hand, broke up the shutout on two walks and an RBI double by Duda off reliever Ryota Igarashi, who was just called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.

With the victory, the Yankees improved their season ledger to 32-25 and they moved ahead of the slumping Baltimore Orioles in second place in the American League East, a half-game behind the Tampa Bay Rays. The Mets dropped to 32-27.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • I said this in my recent team analysis and it bears repeating: Kuroda appears to have turned the corner on his season since he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings at home against the Twins on April 18. Since that time, Kuroda is 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA in his last nine starts. Kuroda has been a victim of low run support. Going into Friday’s game he was the worst supported pitcher in the American League this season at just over two runs a game. Mets outfielder Jason Bay summed up Kuroda best after the game when he told reporters: “I faced him a few times when he was with the Dodgers. He’s always been, from what I’ve seen, pretty good. But that was by far the best I’ve ever seen him.”
  • Cano’s two home runs are an extension of a recent power surge. He hit only one in April and he had four as of May 18. In his last 15 games, he has hit seven. Cano now has 11 home runs, 29 RBIs and he is batting .293, which is second on the club to Jeter.
  • Cano, Swisher and Jones hitting consecutive home runs in the third inning was the first time the Yankees have done that since Aug. 28, 2011 against the Orioles and the same trio hit them and in the same order. But here is an odd stat: When Swisher hit his home run it was only the second time this season the Yankees have hit back-to-back homers.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Jeter had a night he would like very much to forget. He was on the hook until Quintanilla’s double with his error in the fourth as spoiling a potential perfect game for Kuroda. At the plate, Jeter was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he hit into an inning-ending double play in the sixth with the bases loaded. Jeter has gone hitless in his last 17 at-bats and his average has dropped to .314.
  • The Yankees were forced to bring up Igarashi because Freddy Garcia was placed on bereavement list on Thursday due to the passing of his grandfather in Venezuela.  Igarashi, 33, was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays on May 29. By the looks of him in the ninth inning, he perhaps should go back on waivers. He gave up a run on a hit and two walks and he struck out two. He threw 27 pitches in the inning and looked like he was afraid to throw strikes.

BOMBER BANTER

Reliever Joba Chamberlain threw 25 pitches on Friday at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa, FL. It was the first time Chamberlain has thrown from a mound since he sustained a dislocated right ankle trampolining with his son on March 22. Chamberlain told reporters he intends to pitch for the Yankees this season.  . . .  Reliever David Robertson will pitch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday in what likely will be at least two rehab appearances. Robertson, who is on the 15-day disabled with a left oblique strain, could rejoin the Yankees in a-week in Washington.  . . .  Outfielder Brett Gardner appears on track to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in Atlanta. Gardner has been on the disabled list with a strained right elbow.

ON DECK

The Yankees’ home portion of the Subway Series with the Mets continues on Saturday.

The Yankees will start Phil Hughes (5-5, 4.96 ERA). Hughes is coming off his first nine-inning complete game of his career. He gave one run on just four hits and struck out eight against the Tigers on Sunday. He is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA in four games against the Mets.

The Mets will start right-hander Dillon Gee (4-3, 4.48 ERA). Gee received a no-decision and gave up two runs on seven hits against the Cardinals on Monday. He is 0-1 with 5.14 ERA against the Yankees lifetime.

Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast regionally by FOX Sports.

 

Colon Comes Off DL To Put Hurting On Mets

GAME 81

YANKEES 5, METS 2

In a season in which the Yankees’ starting rotation has been questioned from Opening Day, Bartolo Colon has been overcoming obstacles and exceeding expectations with every start. On Saturday, the 38-year-old right-hander came off the disabled list and proved to any doubters that are left that he is, indeed, for real.

Colon completely shut down the Mets’ offense over six innings and Curtis Granderson and the Yankees finally solved Dillon Gee the third time through the order as the Yankees won their seventh straight game and their 17th in their last 21 in a nationally televised game at Citi Field.

Colon (6-3) was on a strict 80-pitch limit coming off the disabled list for a strained left hamstring and Colon threw exactly that number of pitches over six innings. He gave up five hits — three of them infield singles — walked none and struck out six in running his personal scoreless streak to 13 innings.

The Yankees, meanwhile, were held in check by the 25-year-old rookie right-hander Gee (8-2), whom the Mets were 12-1 in his starts this season coming into the game. Gee shut out the Yankees over the first 5 1/3 innings on just three hits and one walk and he fanned seven batters, mostly on change-ups.

However, Gee left a juicy change-up in the zone and Curtis Granderson blasted it into the right-field bleachers for his 22nd home run of the season, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Gee then unraveled like a cheap sock after the home run.

Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez followed with singles and Robinson Cano sliced a liner down the right-field line for a two-run triple. Nick Swisher then ended the scoring by plating Cano on a sacrifice fly to deep left.

The Yankees’ bullpen took over in the seventh and Cory Wade pitched two scoreless frames to maintain his perfect 0.00 ERA over 8 innings and seven appearances since he was promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on June 15.

Meanwhile, the Yankees added a run in the ninth on a solo home run from Eduardo Nunez off reliever Tim Byrdak, Nunez’s third home run of the season. Nunez was 3-for-4 in the game, including two doubles. The only time the Mets got him out came when second baseman Justin Turner made a diving stab of Nunez’s line drive ticketed for center-field. In the two games of the series, Nunez is 7-for-8.

The Yankees, meanwhile, used newly reacquired right-hander Sergio Mitre in the ninth and Mitre was touched for RBI groundouts by Jason Bay and Lucas Duda that spoiled the shutout for the Yankees.

With the victory, the Yankees have run their American League-best record to 50-31, a season-high 19 games over .500. They also maintained their 2 1/2 game edge over the second-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. The Mets fell below the .500 mark at 41-42.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Colon’s season has him in line for American League Comeback Player of the Year. These good starts can no longer be called a fluke either. Colon threw 56 strikes out of 80 pitches, a 70 percent strike ratio. He was not severely threatened until the Mets strung together a swinging bunt single by Bay, a bloop single to right by Duda and another infield single by Josh Thole with one out in the fifth. However, the Mets elected to allow the pitcher Gee hit and he bounced into a double play to Rodriguez to end the inning. Before that, Colon had only allowed an infield single to Jose Reyes to leadoff the bottom of the first inning. (Reyes left the game after two innings with a tight left hamstring he incurred trying to beat out the hit.) Colon lowered his season ERA to a team-best 2.88 among the starters.
  • Nunez is making it very hard for Girardi to bench him when Derek Jeter is expected to return on Monday. Nunez’s 7-for-8 hitting the past two days includes three singles, three doubles and a home run. In his 17 starts at shortstop in place of Jeter, Nunez is 20-for-59 (.339). The Yankees have now found out that Nunez is a budding star at age 24 and they need to find him more at-bats.
  • Cano’s two-run triple in the sixth extended his hitting streak to six games and he is 7-for-23 (.304) in that stretch with six RBIs. Cano is hitting .292 on the season.
  • Rodriguez had two singles in the game and he now has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. During that stretch he is 19-for-46 (.413) with 10 RBIs. Rodriguez has raised his season average to .304. from .278 on June 18.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Once again, the Yankees struggled early with a pitcher they have never faced before. Gee kept the Yankees off-balance with his change-up through five innings until the Yankees began waiting on the pitch in the sixth. Gee ended up with seven strikeouts (Granderson, Teiexeira, Rodriguez, Swisher, Russell Martin (twice) and Colon).
  • Martin had a no-contact afternoon. He fanned three times and walked. His batting average has fallen to season-low .223. To say he is slumping would be putting it mildly.
  • Brett Gardner was 0-for-5 in the game and he is hitless in his last 11 at-bats. His batting average has dipped to .267.
  • Mitre’s return engagement debut with the Yankees on Saturday was forgettable. He gave up a leadoff double to Daniel Murphy and walked Angel Pagan. Then he uncorked a wild pitch. Bay and Duda followed with RBI groundouts that scored Murphy and Duda before Mitre retired Josh Thole on a groundout to end the game.

BOMBER BANTER

Jeter was 1-for-2 with a walk in the five innings he played in his first rehab game with the Double-A Trenton Thunder on Saturday night. His appearance drew a sellout crowd of 9,002 fans to Waterfront Park. It was the second-largest crowd in team history. Jeter, who has been on the disabled list since June 14 with a strained right calf, singled to leadoff the game, took third on a double to right-field and scored on a sac fly. Jeter said afterwards that he had no issues running the bases. Jeter could play all nine innings of Trenton’s game on Sunday and then he expects to be activated by the Yankees before Monday’s game against the Indians in Cleveland. Jeter is just six hits shy of the 3,000 mark for his career.  . . .  In order to make room for Colon on the 25-man roster the Yankees were forced on Saturday to send right-hander Brian Gordon to Triple-A Scranton. Gordon, 32, made two starts in place of Colon and was 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA after spending 15 seasons in the minor leagues.

ON DECK

The Yankees are on blazing fire and they look to continue their winning streak on Sunday with a sweep of the Subway Series in Queens.

The Yankees will send out 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (7-6, 3.28 ERA), who gave up just two runs on eight hits and no walks in six innings in a victory over the Brewers on Tuesday. Garcia is 2-1 with a 2.61 ERA in his career against the Mets.

The Mets will counter with right-hand knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (4-7, 3.77 ERA). Dickey was staked to a double-digit lead against Detroit and he was touched for a pair of homers. However, Dickey coasted to an easy victory. Dickey has the only victory the Mets have salvaged this season against the Yankees. He is 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA against the Yankees lifetime.

Game-time will be 1:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised nationally by TBS and locally by the YES Network.

Nova, Bullpen Hold Early Lead As Yanks Tag Mets

GAME 80

YANKEES 5, METS 1

The Yankees rolled into Citi Field on Friday on the heels of a season-high five game winning streak. Their crosstown rival host, the Mets, were feeling pretty cocky after having won six of their last eight games. Someone had to give.

Fortunately for the Yankees, it was Jonathon Niese and the Mets.

The Yankees jumped on Niese for three runs in the first inning on a two-run double by Mark Teixeira and an RBI double by Robinson Cano while Ivan Nova and Yankees’ bullpen made the early lead stand up the rest of the way as the Yankees defeated the Mets for the third time in four games in the Subway Series.

Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson opened the first on Niese with singles and Teixeira followed with an opposite-field double to right to score both runners. One out later, Cano lashed an opposite field double to left to score Teixeira and Nova had a 3-0 lead before he even threw a pitch.

Nova (8-4) was touched for three straight singles with one out in the second inning, culminating with an RBI single by Ruben Tejada to score Jason Bay. But Nova escaped further trouble and finished by giving up just the one run on seven hits and two walks and he struck out three batters.

The Yankees pulled Nova after five innings because they had Nova due up with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning. Manager Joe Girardi chose to use Jorge Posada to pinch-hit and rely on his bullpen the rest of the way. Posada struck out and Swisher grounded out to end the threat.

Niese (7-7) gave up three runs on nine hits and two walks and he fanned seven batters over six innings.

The Yankees tacked on an unearned run in the eighth inning after Daniel Murphy dropped a throw to first on a Russell Martin grounder to shortstop Jose Reyes. Pinch-hitter Brett Gardner bunted Martin to second and Eduardo Nunez, who recorded his first major-league four-hit game, singled in Martin off reliever Bobby Parnell.

The Yankees also added a run in the ninth after a leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson by reliever D.J. Carrasco. One-out later, Alex Rodriguez hit a 450-foot double off the wall in left-center to score Granderson.

Two innings earlier, Rodriguez was involved in a defensive play that may have changed the course of the game.

Reyes opened the seventh by singling off reliever Cory Wade. Justin Turner then lofted a fly to deep center-field and Reyes chose to tag up and advance to second. When Granderson’s throw short-hopped Nunez in shallow center, Reyes decided to head for third. Nunez picked up the ball and fired to Rodriguez at third. As Reyes slid, Rodriguez brushed him on the left sleeve with the tag and home-plate umpire Jerry Layne called Reyes out.

Reyes and third-base coach Chip Hale immediately protested that Rodriguez had missed the tag. Mets manager Terry Collins came out to argue the call and Layne ejected him from the game.

The Yankees’ bullpen consisting of Luis Ayala, Wade, Boone Logan, David Robertson, Hector Noesi and Mariano Rivera combined to give up three hits and a walk and fanned three over the final four innings to preserve the Yankees’ 16th victory in their last 20 games.

With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 49-31 and they maintained their 2 1/2-game lead in the American League East on the second-place Boston Red Sox, who had to rally late to beat the Astros, the team with the worst record in the National League. The Mets, meanwhile, fell back to an even 41-41 on the season.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • With his two RBIs in Friday’s game, Teixeira now has 10 RBIs over his last six games and his 65 RBIs are second in the American League and fourth in the majors. He also drew two walks and scored a run in the game. Though Tex hit nine home runs and drove in 25 runs in June, he ended up with a .213 batting average for the month. He is hitting .244 on the season.
  • Cano was 2-for-4 with a double, a single and an RBI. He now has five-game hitting streak in which he is 6-for-19 (.316) with four RBIs. Cano has raised his average to .292.
  • Nunez is aware that Derek Jeter will be returning to the starting lineup on Monday in Cleveland. But he is not letting it bother him. He had an infield bunt single in the second, an opposite-field double in the fourth, a blop single to shallow left-center in which Cano should have scored on from third and an RBI single in the eighth. Nunez’s 4-for-4 night raised his batting average to .261. In his 16 starts at shortstop in place of Jeter, Nunez is 17-for-55 (.309) with one home run and six RBIs. Of course, he made his share of errors, too. But he has filled in nicely for “The Captain” and shows he has a future as a starter someday.
  • Nova was tough when he needed to be on Friday. In the first inning, he gave up two hits but induced Daniel Murphy to hit into a inning-ending double play. After Tejeda stroked the Mets’ third straight hit off him in the second inning, he struck out Niese looking and got Reyes to ground out. In the fifth, the Mets loaded the bases after two were out but Nova fanned Angel Pagan swinging on a curve in the dirt.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The Yankees kept the Mets in the game needlessly by failing to get big hits when Niese was on the ropes. In the first, Martin and Andruw Jones failed to get a ball out of the infield with Cano at second. Swisher and Granderson left Nunez on second in the second inning when they both struck out looking. Cano hit into a double play with two on and nobody out in the third. Posada struck out with one out and the bases loaded and Swisher ended in the threat by grounding out in the sixth. The Yankees left seven runners on base in the first six innings.
  • Not to belabor the point about not getting key hits in key situations but the Yankees ended the game 4-for-19 with runners in scoring position. That is a .211 average and was the only reason the game was not a blowout.
  • Andruw Jones was inserted into the lineup in left-field to replace the left-hand-hitting Gardner against Niese. Jones was 0-for-3 against Niese including a strikeout looking and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Jones is hitting an abysmal .213 on the season. If the Yankees get a chance to make a deal for a right-hand power-hitting outfielder by the July 31 trade deadline, I suggest they make it and release the useless Jones.

BOMBER BANTER

Jeter left Florida on Friday to join the Double-A Trenton Thunder for a pair of rehab games on Saturday and Sunday. If there are no setbacks, the Yankees will activate Jeter on Monday in Cleveland, where the Yankees will face the Indians. Jeter has been sidelined since June 14 with a mild right calf strain. Jeter is six hits shy of the 3,000 mark for his career.  . . .  The Yankees said it is unlikely Eric Chavez will be activated on July 5 when he is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list. Chavez is on the disabled list with a right foot injury but he is being bothered by a strained back.

ON DECK

The Yankees continue the road portion of their Subway Series with the Mets on Saturday.

The Yankees will activate and start 38-year-old right-hander Bartolo Colon (5-3, 3.10 ERA). Colon has been on the disabled list since June 11 with a left hamstring strain. Colon had won his last three starts prior to the injury. He is 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA against the Mets over the past 10 years.

The Mets will counter with 25-year-old right-hander Dillon Gee (8-1, 3.32 ERA). Gee is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA over his last three starts. He has never faced the Yankees before.

Game-time will be 4:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports.

 

 

CC, Tex Slam Door On Mets As Yankees Claim First Place

GAME 69
YANKEES 4, METS 0

Just when the whispers of doubts about CC Sabathia become audible the veteran left-hander begins to crank it up for a second-half surge. After Sunday’s performance there can be few lingering doubts about the New York Yankees’ ace.

Sabathia pitched eight shutout innings, blanking the New York Mets on just four hits, and got a grand-slam home run from Mark Teixeira as the Yankees won the home portion of the Subway Series with the crosstown Mets in a 4-0 victory.

The win was also significant for the Yankees because their victory coupled with the Tampa Bay Rays’ 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Florida Marlins hoisted the Yankees back into sole possession of first place in the American League East for the first time since April 21.

Only a 22-minute rain delay at the start of the bottom of the eighth inning could stop Sabathia from a complete game shutout he was on track to record. As it is, Sabathia (8-3) won his fourth consecutive start and he is undefeated in his last 14 starts at Yankee Stadium. In the game he walked two and struck out six batters.

Mets ace Johan Santana (6-4) took the loss, giving up four runs on eight hits and one walk and he struck out three batters in what was a shaky outing for the veteran left-hander.

Mariano Rivera came in to pitch a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation to polish off the Mets and give the Yankees a tie in their interleague series with the Mets in 2010.

The Yankees improved their season record to 43-26 and it is the best record in the major leagues. The Mets slipped to 39-30.

YANKEE POSITIVES

  • Teixeira’s grand slam home run in the third inning was his 12th home run of the season and the second in his last two games. The grand slam was also the Yankees’ seventh of the season, which leads the major leagues.
  • Nick Swisher set up Teixeira’s game-winning blow by successfully drag-bunting down the first-base line for a single after Brett Gardner had singled to left and Derek Jeter reached on an infield hit on which third baseman David Wright could not make a play. 
  • Jeter perhaps is showing signs of snapping out of a slump that began on June 2 in which he was 12 for 59 (.203) starting Sunday’s game. His batting average dropped from .307 to .280 during that time. He was 2-for-4 in the game and showed no major problems from the bruised right heel that benched him on Saturday.
  • Jorge Posada also collected two hits, including a 400-foot double off the centerfield wall in the eighth inning. Posada is hitting .291 on the season.
  • Sabathia was good on Sunday but he did have some trouble in the seventh inning when Ike Davis led off the frame with a single to right and Jason Bay, who had ripped two home runs off Sabathia on May 23rd at Citi Field, drew a walk. Sabathia then had to face Rod Barajas, who was 9-for-22 off Sabathia, including three home runs and three doubles. Barajas also had driven left-fielder Brett Gardner to the wall to catch a near home run in the fifth inning. But Sabathia struck out Barajas looking and retired DH Fernando Tatis on an inning-ending double play to end the Mets’ biggest threat of the day.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Despite the victory, the Yankees can’t claim that their hitting troubles are gone yet. Take away the third inning, when they scored all four of their runs on four hits, and the Yankees would have managed no runs on five hits against a Santana who was struggling with the command of his fastball and had abandoned his slider for most of the game.
  • Take away the Swisher bunt single and Teixeira grand slam and the Yankees were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position in the game.  With two on and one out in the second inning Curtis Granderson and Francisco Cervelli flew out harmlessly. In the same situation in the fifth inning Alex Rodriguez hit a foul pop to Barajas and Robinson Cano flew out.
  • The only hitter who failed to reach base all day via a hit or walk was Rodriguez. He was 0-for-4 and his average dipped to .277. Since June 3, Rodriguez has only seven hits in his last 42 at-bats (.167) with no home runs and o
    ne RBI. Yep, one single RBI!
  • Cano took a rare 0-for-3 and his average fell to.367. But don’t worry about Cano’s competition for the major-league lead in batting lead. Cano leads the Twins’ Justin Morneau by 27 points.
DIAMOND NOTES

Manager Joe Girardi told reporters that he removed Rodriguez from the game in the ninth inning merely as a precaution and not because of any recurrence of tendinitis in his left hip flexor.  . . .  Alfredo Aceves, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain, told reporters that he will be heading to Tampa, FL, to resume his throwing program. There is no timetable for his return to the Yankees.
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees are on the way on a six-game interleague western road trip. They begin the first series Monday with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
A.J. Burnett (6-5, 4.33 ERA) gets the call for the Yankees in the opener. Burnett is coming off three consecutive losses. He was ripped for six runs on six hits and four walks in just 3 1/3 innings last Wednesday by the Philadelphia Phillies. In his first six starts Burnett was 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA.. In his last eight starts, he is 2-5 with a 6.36 ERA.  He is 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA in five career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Arizona will counter with veteran right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (2-6, 4.70 ERA). Lopez gave up six runs on 10 hits in seven innings of a 6-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox last Wednesday.  He is 8-8 with a 5.90 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 10:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by ESPN and locally by the YES Network.
 

Red Sox Seem Ready To Fall Into The Abyss – And I Love It

COMMENTARY


Woe is Red Sox Nation.
There it was in black in white: RAYS 8, RED SOX 2. The Rays completed a rare four-game sweep at Fenway Park on Monday and all of Beantown is abuzz with the same question: What is wrong with our Sawx?
Well, I think I have an answer or two or three. Having watch the Red Sox grow from nothing but a slight annoyance to Yankee fans to Curse-killing “idiots” in 2004 to legitimate foes through 2007, I know just a bit about this team I love to hate.
For one thing they built a team on a pair of fearsome hitters. ManRam and Papi were a pretty fearsome duo but now one is gone and one is showing signs that he can’t do it without steroids anymore.
They also built their team on pitchers like Pedro and Schilling. Those guys are long gone and the new generation may have the credentials to be good. But are they good? 
There was a big lineup once there. Now there is not. They can defend perhaps a bit better. But what difference does it make when your center fielder makes a fabulous diving grab when you losing by six runs?
Such is the state of Red Sox Nation.
Radio talk shows are buzzing, the sports writers are speculating and the fans are ready for Theo, David Ortiz, Terry Francona, J.D. Drew and Mr. Henry himself to walk a plank into the Charles River.
Jerry Remy said it today. He said that player-for-player the Tampa Bay Rays are better at every facet of the game than the Red Sox. Blasphemy? Nope, just a does of reality.
The seeds of the demise of the Red Sox were sown when Manny went off the deep end and forced the team to dump him. Jason Bay was a nicer fellow. He made a nice Band-Aid to patch the wound. But his departure this winter was the clarion call that this team was not going to overpay to keep him.
It is a nice stand to take but, at the same time, the Red Sox were signing free agents like crazy: John Lackey costs $80 million, Marco Scutaro, Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre. The payroll leaped to $160 million but they could not afford Bay. Huh?
Once you decide to pay a player a princely sum it is hard to tell another you won’t. That is a little like being a “little” pregnant. 
Then there was the Mike Lowell debacle. Lowell was a loyal foot soldier for the Red Sox and worked his bones to dust, literally, helping this team win. But the Red Sox wanted Kevin Youkilis at third and San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez at first. It was no secret. 
But Lowell’s deal to Texas went sour because of a thumb ligament and now the Red Sox are stuck with him and his bloated contract on the bench. Theo Epstein is probably cursing the Texas Rangers’ physician for gumming up his master plan. Now Theo is likely sucking his thumb and trying to think where he put that darn gorilla suit.
Then there is that ridiculous mistake of paying a Japanese pitcher way too much money for way to little in return on the mound. Dice-K? It should be DL-K because he has spent so much time on it and collecting hefty checks that Carl Pavano is impressed.
Finally we come to David Ortiz, the 800-pound gorilla in the park. He struggled mightily for two months last season and then sort of got better in June. So the Red Sox front office chose to ignore the signs their star slugger was losing it (like his .249 average) and stuck with him this off-season.
Now Ortiz is hitting .158 with two RBIs batting fifth and it is obvious that the fastballs he used to crush into the Boston night sky are ending up in the gloves of opposition catchers. They are also being thrown by some rather pedestrian pitchers. They are the kind of pitchers that Manny and Papi used to eat for breakfast.
Now these same pitchers are stealing Papi’s lunch money and he is walking back to the dugout like he wants his mother to intercede to get it back.
Nope, this Red Sox team appears to missing a lot. Jacoby Ellsbury is hurt, Cameron has a kidney stone, V-Mart is hitting .212, Drew is hitting .146, Lackey’s ERA is 5.63 and Lester is 0-3 with a 8.44 ERA.
It is only April and there is a chance things will improve for the Red Sox. I mean, the Yankees got off to slow starts in the past and they always came back to wrestle the division away for the Red Sox when it counted.
But the problem is not just the Yankees. It is the Rays. They have proven they can throw their weight around in this division and the Red Sox know very well that if the Yankees and the Rays take a big lead on them that it will be much harder to come back.
Kirk Minihane probably put it best this morning: “But something doesn’t quite feel right about the 2010 Red Sox, does it? I’m having trouble putting a finger on exactly what it is.”

I am not sure even Francona and Epstein know what it is yet. I do know that if they do not find out real soon and fix it, the Red Sox will be playing for 2011. For a Yankee fan like me that just feels great.
Life in third place is just the humbling the Red Sox and their insufferable Nation need.

Nady Signing Raises Doubts About Yankees’ Goals

We have heard all winter that the New York Yankees could not re-sign Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui because of their restricted budget.
That also was the reason why the Yankees passed on “Cadillac” free agent outfielders like Matt Holliday and Jason Bay.
Then we heard that the Yankees were looking at low-cost options like Reed Johnson and Rocco Baldelli. General manager Brian Cashman also said that Xavier Nady was out of the Yankees’ price range.
When Matsui signed with the Los Angeles Angels for $6 million Cashman said Matsui never would have accepted $6 million from the Yankees. Do we know that for sure?
The Yankees, Cashman said, now have only about $2 million to spend on a right-handed-hitting outfielder.
Then the news comes Tuesday that the Chicago Cubs had signed Nady to a one-year contract for a guaranteed $3.3 million with about $2 million in incentives for games played. The deal is pending a physical to determine if Nady’s second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow is progressing on schedule.
Hmmm!
Since when do the Yankees pass on an outfielder who hit 25 home runs, drove in 97 runs and batted .305 in his last healthy season over a meager $3.3 million?
Ever since George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees the team has spent lavishly on free agents. For every signing of a Reggie Jackson and Catfish Hunter there have also been mistakes like Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa.
But Yankee fans never had a doubt that the front office was trying to put the best team it could on the field — until now.
This haggling all off-season with Damon has really been belittling to one free-agent signing the Yankees did not have to regret. 
Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, the self-proclaimed smartest man in baseball, determined Damon was too old and was breaking down at age 32. Rather than satisfy Damon’s demand for a four-year contract, Epstein dealt for Coco Crisp instead.
Four years later Crisp is long gone from the Red Sox roster and Damon is coming off four seasons where he played 141 or more games and averaged 19 home runs, 74 RBIs and batted .285. He also averaged 23 stolen bases.
Oh yeah, Damon has a weak arm in left field and he also has had issues with calf injuries. But he also has been on the disabled just once in 15 major league seasons. Damon also was the man at the plate in the World Series that took Brad Lidge through that long clutch at-bat that led to a single, a steal of second and the grand larceny of third that set the stage for the Yankees comeback victory in Game 4.
But budgets are budgets, I guess. The Yankees can’t afford Johnny.
That still does not explain Nady. Cashman told us he was out of the Yankees price range. Yet he signs for a piddling $3.3 million. What is going on here?
Nady did everything he could to help the Yankees after they traded for him and Damaso Marte in the middle of the 2008 season. In the deal to acquire Nady, Cashman traded the Yankees best outfield prospect in 20-year-old Jose Tabata.
This winter the Yankees traded their best outfield prospect in Austin Jackson to obtain Curtis Granderson.
I find it odd that the Yankees plead poverty on the one hand and on the other hand trade promising outfield prospects away to obtain guys like Nady and Granderson. Then when those veterans get to the end of their contracts we can’t afford to bring them back and the cupboard is bare of prospects to replace them. 
Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the younger prospects in the first place? That way they can be signed for contracts like $2 million until they hit their free-agent years. My point is that I would feel a whole lot better going into the 2010 season with the Yankees trying to adhere to a budget if they had guys like Tabata and Jackson on the roster instead of Brett Gardner, Jamie Hoffman and Greg Golson.
That would at least mean that the Yankees were trying to fill a position of need with some homegrown talent instead of veteran retreads like Reed Johnson and Rocco Baldelli. If the Yankees fail to repeat as world champions in 2010 will Yankee fans exclaim “That is OK. At least they stayed within their 2010 budget”?
I don’t think so. I think Yankee fans will see a young Jackson playing well for the Tigers, a young Tabata progressing to the majors with the Pirates, a veteran Nady pounding home runs at Wrigley Field and a Damon getting clutch hits with whomever he finally signs and ask why aren’t they in Yankee uniforms.
This winter’s events also puts an awful lot of pressure on Gardner too. Though I like him a lot, if he hits .250 or ends up on the disabled list for three months than this whole winter dance of the dollar by Cashman will be wasted without another championship banner to display.
I sure hope Cashman knows what he is doing because it sure is looking gloomy to me.
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