Results tagged ‘ Jon Rauch ’

Two Older Yankees Sink Mets While Night Is Young

GAME 70

YANKEES 4, METS 3

When the Yankees signed 40-year-old Raul Ibanez and 35-year-old Eric Chavez practically on the eve of the beginning of spring training it appeared the older battle-tested veterans might have been just an afterthought.

But on Saturday night the two lefty swingers were front and center as they powered the team back from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 lead in practically the blink of an eye in the seventh inning as the Yankees stunned the Mets and the largest crowd to ever attend a game at Citi Field.

Mets right-hander Chris Young was cruising heading into the seventh inning but Ibanez cracked a line-drive three-run home run just over the wall in the corner of right-field that tied the score and sent Young packing for the night. One out later, Chavez stroked his first career pinch-hit home run to the opposite field corner in left off reliever Jon Rauch (3-7) that gave the Yankees their final margin of victory.

Lefty specialist Clay Rapada (2-0) struck out Kirk Niewenhuis with two runners on base in relief of starter Ivan Nova to get credit for the victory.

Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save in 15 chances.

The Yankees entered play leading the major leagues in home runs with 106 and they have scored 52 percent of their runs this season via the longball.

Young, however, baffled the Yankees over six scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out four.

But Yoong opened the seventh by walking Mark Teixiera one pitch after catcher Josh Thole dropped a foul tip. Nick Swisher then lined a single into right that Lucas Duda misplayed into a double. It was the 1,000th hit of Swisher’s career.

Ibanez then laced a first-pitch fastball at the knees on a line just over the right-field wall. A huge portion of the sellout crowd of 42,122 erupted in cheers as Ibanez circled the bases with his 11th home run of the season.

Those cheers reached deafening levels one out later when Chavez, pinch-hitting for Rapada, tomahawked a shoulder high fastball on the outside corner and it carried over the wall in left. It was Chavez’s fifth home run of the season.

Up to that point, the Mets seemed intent on ending Nova’s streak of 16 road starts without a loss and 11 straight victories.

Niewenhuis led off the third inning with a line-drive opposite field home run similar to Chavez’s to give the Mets an early lead.

One inning later, the Mets took advantage of some uncharacteristic shoddy Yankee defense to push across an unearned run.

Scott Hairston reached on a fielding error by Alex Rodriguez to open the inning. Omar Quintanilla followed with a double to center and Thole plated Hairston on an infield groundout.

Nova was further frustrated by the Mets in the sixth when some logical strategy backfired on the Yankees and him.

With two out and Daniel Murphy on second with a double, Nova chose to walk Thole intentionally and pitch to a weak-hitting Young. However, Young foiled the strategy with his first hit of the season, a solid lined single to right, that scored Murphy and chased Nova.

Nova gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks and he fanned seven batters in 5 2/3 innings. But he Yankees’ rally managed to keep his road winning streak intact.

With the victory, the Yankees tied the road portion of the Subway Series and they clinched the 2012 version of the series by winning their fourth game against the Mets in five contests.

The Yankees’ season record improved to 41-28 as they snapped a three-game losing streak. They also moved 2 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Baltimore Orioles in the American League East. The Mets fell to 39-33.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Ibanez was originally signed to just be the team’s left-handed designated hitter. But the right elbow injury sustained by Brett Gardner that has sidelined him since mid-April has meant Ibanez has had to play more in the outfield. That, in turn, has allowed manager Joe Girardi to use Rodriguez at DH more and play Chavez in the field. The results have been good as Ibanez has 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. Chavez, meanwhile, is hitting .267 with five home runs and 10 RBIs.
  • Boone Logan deserves major kudos for his work in the seventh inning. Logan was brought into the game with the potential tying run in Jordany Valdespin on third and one out and lefty swingers Duda and Murphy due up. Logan fanned both batters swinging and ended the threat. Logan is having a fine season. He is 1-0 with a 2.73 ERA and he leads the team in holds with nine.
  • The bullpen as a whole was as good as always. Rapada, Cody Eppley, Logan, David Robertson and Soriano combined to pitch 3 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, giving up two hits and two walks and striking out an amazing eight Mets. Though Robertson walked two batters in the eighth, he ended up striking out the side.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • The “Big Four” power bats of Curtis Granderson, Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Teixiera, who were batting two through five in the order, respectively, were a combined 0-for-9 with a pair of walks against Young. That is a big reason why the Yankees’ offense sputtered over the first six innings.
  • Derek Jeter botched a routine potential double-play grounder off the bat of Hairston in the second but it did not cost the Yankees because Nova got Young on a strikeout with the bases loaded. But Rodriguez’s error in the fourth did cost the Yankees a run. This is unusual for the Yankees, who lead the major leagues with the fewest errors (29 including the two on Saturday) and in fielding percentage.
  • To add to Rodriguez’s woes, he was 0-for-4 on the night and three balls did not leave the infield. His batting average has now dropped to .265 and he is hitting a woeful .219 this month.

BOMBER BANTER

Starting catcher Russell Martin left the game in the ninth inning with what Girardi termed as “back stiffness.” Martin was pinch-hit for in the ninth by Dewayne Wise and backup Chris Stewart caught the ninth inning. Because Stewart normally catches CC Sabathia, Martin was not going to start on Sunday. It is unclear how severe the injury is at this time and if Martin will be available to back up Stewart. Martin felt tightness in his lower back during batting practice but played anyway and was 0-for 3 in the game.

ON DECK

The Yankees will attempt to win the rubber game of the road portion of the Subway Series on Sunday.

Sabathia (9-3, 3.55 ERA) will be going for his 10th victory. Sabathia threw his first complete game of the season in his last start against the Atlanta Braves on Monday. He did not face the Mets at Yankee Stadium but is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA against them in his career.

The Mets will counter with knuckleballing right-hander R.A. Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA). Dickey is 6-0 with an 0.18 ERA in his last six starts and he is coming off two consecutive one-hit complete games. Dickey is 3-1 with 2.30 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 8 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by ESPN.

 

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.

 

3 Yankee Homers Help Sabathia Win 19th Game

GAME 138

YANKEES 9, BLUE JAYS 3

There are some games when CC Sabathia pitches it appears he could be sitting in a LaZ-Boy recliner with a beer in one hand and the baseball in the other as he just tosses strike after strike past batters.

Sabathia will tell you that it is never that easy. But on Sunday he pitched two-run ball over 7 1/3 innings to notch his 19th victory and Derek Jeter provided five RBIs as New York pounded Toronto with three home runs to earn a sweep of their weekend series at Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia needed just 111 pitches to strike out 10 batters and walk one and he finished with a flourish, retiring 13 of the last 14 batters he faced.

With the victory the Yankees have now won seven of their last eight games and, as a result of Texas’ 11-4 thrashing of the Boston Red Sox, the Yankees extended their lead in the American League East to 1 1/2 games.

Sabathia (19-7) only struggled in the fourth inning while trying to protect a 4-0 lead. Edwin Encarnacion hit a leadoff bloop single to center, Brett Lawrie walked and Mark Teahen doubled to the wall in leftfield to score Encarnacion. Former Yankee Jose Molina then followed with an RBI groundout to Jeter that scored Lawrie.

The Yankee offense, meanwhile, wasted no time getting started against Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil (4-8).

Brett Gardner led off by drawing a walk and taking second to record his A.L. leading 42nd stolen base. With one out, Mark Teixiera, who returned the lineup after missing two games with a bruised right knee, hit a ball in the hole at shortstop to Mike McCoy. McCoy dove to stop the ball but his throw to first hit the dirt and skipped past Encarnacion for an error that allowed Gardner to score.

Two innings later, Cecil got into to more trouble when rookie designated hitter Jesus Montero led off with his second major-league hit and Cecil hit Gardner with an 0-2 pitch. Jeter then connected on a 1-1 inside fastball and drove it deep into the first level of the bleachers in leftfield for his fifth home run of the season and his first since July 25.

The Yankees tacked on another run off Cecil in the sixth when Alex Rodriguez hit his 15th home run of the season into the first row of seats over the auxiliary scoreboard in right.

Cecil gave up five runs (four earned) on five hits and one walk and struck out three over six innings of work.

The Yankees put the game out of reach with four runs in the bottom of the eighth, started by a two-run home run Nick Swisher off reliever Jon Rauch, his 22nd home run of the season. Later in the inning, Jeter stroked a two-out, bases-loaded single to center as the Yankees batted around in the inning.

The Yankees had pretty much held down Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista in the weekend series. He was 0-for-3 on the day and 2-for-10 with two singles and two RBIs in the series. However, in his final at-bat he got to reliever Rafael Soriano for a solo home run on the first pitch he threw in the eighth replacing Sabathia. It was Bautista’s 40th homer of the season, which leads the major leagues.

The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 84-53. The Blue Jays fell two games under .500 at 69-71 and they are 17 games out in fourth place in the division.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • With the victory, Sabathia became the first A.L. pitcher to win at least 19 games in three consecutive seasons since Dave Stewart won 20 or more games with Oakland from 1987 through 1990. This was also the fourth season Sabathia has won 19 games but he has won 20 or more games only once, which was last season with the Yankees when he was 21-7.
  • Jeter’s five RBIs on Sunday tied a career high. Since he was rested yesterday Kim Jones of YES Network asked if the day off helped him. Jeter would have none of it. He said there were plenty of days he had gotten hits playing in back-to-back games. Touche’.
  • Rodriguez actually was angry when he hit his fly ball to right in the sixth, thinking he had missed it. But the ball carried into the first row of seats just to the right of the scoreboard. It definitely caught the “jet stream” that carries routine flies out. But Rodriguez will take it. It was his second homer since he returned off the disabled list after undergoing knee surgery in July.
  • Swisher continues his hot hitting since May 31, when he had three homers, 19 RBIs and he was batting .213. Since then Swisher has 19 home runs, 60 RBIs and is batting .299 to salvage what was looking like a lost season.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Andruw Jones has been rebounding since help from his mother at the All-Star break. However, he took a step backward on Sunda. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout looking and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Inserted into the lineup with a lefty on the mound, Jones was the only starter who did not reach base. His season average fell to .247.
  • Gardner has been one of the best leftfielders in baseball this season and he has made some sensational catches lately. But he was charged with an error in the second inning when a Mark Teahen line drive skipped off the turf and hit off his right shoulder and rolled into left-center. Gardner was playing centerfield in place a resting a Curtis Granderson. It was Gardner’s third error of the season.
  • Soriano’s hiccup in the eighth inning was the first time he had been scored upon since he gave up three runs in a game against Oakland on Aug. 24, a stretch of five appearances. It appears that, for now, Soriano will remain the most expensive seventh inning reliever in baseball history.

BOMBER BANTER

The much ballyhooed announcement about the starting rotation from manager Joe Girardi was a non-event. Girardi said the Yankees would retain the six-man rotation for at least one more turn. That means the candidates for demotion to the bullpen, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett, will have at least one more start to impress the manager. Hughes will start Tuesday and Burnett will follow on Wednesday.  . . .  Rookie sensation Montero is already making a positive impression in the three games he has started. He followed his game Saturday in which he got his first major-league hit with a two-hit game on Sunday. Montero singled to lead off both the third and fifth innings off Cecil and is batting .300 over that short span. General manager Brian Cashman compared his ability to hit to that of Manny Ramirez, which is high praise.

ON DECK

The Yankees begin a three-game home series against the Baltimore Orioles that begins with a Labor Day matinee.

The Yankees will send 34-year-old right-hander Freddy Garcia (11-7, 3.09 ERA) to the mound. Garcia is coming off a two-hit, one-run six-inning effort against the Orioles in his first start after coming off the disabled list with a cut right index finger. Two of Garcia’s 11 victories this season have come against the Orioles. He is 6-7 with a 3.91 ERA against Baltimore in his career.

The Orioles will start young left-hander Brian Matusz (1-7, 9.07 ERA). In his three starts since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk, Matusz is 0-3 with a 9.56 ERA. He is 2-4 with a 3.65 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

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

 

Twins Get Nicked In Ninth By Swisher’s Home Run

GAME 46
YANKEES 3, TWINS 2

Some have a flair the dramatic and some don’t.
But to Andy Pettitte there is no one better at it than Nick Swisher.
Swisher came up with two outs in the ninth inning of a tie game, guessed change-up and planted the ball far into the right-field bleachers of Target Field to give Pettitte and the Yankees a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Twins — the Yankees second victory over the Twins in about three hours.
Pettitte (6-1) earned the victory by pitching a gritty eight innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and no walks. He struck out four batters to give himself a career record of 11-5 against the Twins. 
Though Pettitte was touched for a tying run in the seventh inning on an RBI double by Delmon Young, Pettitte pulled a “Houdini-like” escape act with runners on first and third and two outs in the eighth inning. Pettitte snared a hot smash off the bat of Orlando Hudson and then induced three-time batting champion Joe Mauer to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Swisher did the rest off Twins’ closer Jon Rauch (1-1). Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 10th save of the season and his second of the evening.
With the pair of victories, the Yankees ran their record to 28-18. That combined with Red Sox completing a three-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays brought the Yankees to within 3 1/2 games of the Rays in the A.L. East. The Twins fell to 26-20 but remain one game ahead of the second-place Detroit Tigers in the A.L. Central.
YANKEE POSITIVES

  • The Yankees have beaten the Twins in 11 of their last 12 meetings. Most of those wins have been one-run victories like the two on Wednesday.
  • Pettitte was in command throughout the game. He threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of the 30 batters he faced. His only three-ball count was the 3-2 count he had on Mauer in the eighth in which Mauer rolled into the key double play.
  • Kevin Russo is proving to be a pretty valuable player and not just as a fill-in while Curtis Granderson rehabs his groin injury. Russo doubled in Francisco Cervelli to tie the game in the fourth inning. He singled and scored the tie-breaking run in the sixth inning. Both hits came off tough left-hander Francisco Liriano. Russo is hitting .294 with four RBIs in only 17 at-bats. He also made a nice catch at the wall in left to rob Mauer of an extra-base hit in the fourth inning.
  • Brett Gardner has been struggling at the plate lately but he did contribute a two-out triple in the sixth inning that scored Russo.
  • Mark Teixeira certainly showed signs of coming around at the plate with two singles and he was robbed of another hit on a diving stab by Justin Morneau in the seventh inning.
  • Robinson Cano was 2-for-4 and he raised his average to .339.
THE NEGATIVES

  • Yankees pitchers are having a hard time keeping Denard Span from getting on base and then keeping him there. In the two games, Span is 5-for-8 with three stolen bases. 
  • Alex Rodriguez nearly cost Pettitte and the Yankees the game in the eighth inning. With Drew Butera at second on a leadoff double, Rodriguez charged Span’s bunt attempt hard in order to cut down Butera advancing to third. However, Rodriguez kicked the ball into foul territory and Span reached safely on the error.
  • Marcus Thames was inserted into the lineup at DH by virtue of his past success against Liriano but he wound up 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
  • Rodriguez was also 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the game.
DIAMOND NOTES

Chad Gaudin has rejoined the Yankees. The Yankees signed Gaudin on Wednesday and put him on the 25-man roster. Left-hander Boone Logan, who had a 5.06 ERA in 13 appearances, was sent back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Gaudin was originally released by the Yankees in spring training after he had 8.68 ERA in four appearances as one of five candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Gaudin later signed with the Oakland Athletics and was released last week with an 0-2 record with a 8.83 in 12 games with the A’s. Gaudin was acquired by Yankees from the Padres in August last season and he was 3-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 games down the stretch, including six starts.  . . .  Alfredo Aceves, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a lower back strain, visited Yankees team physician Christopher Ahmad in New York on Wednesday but there is no timetable for his return. Aceves had to cut a bullpen session short after just a few tosses in Tampa, FL, on Tuesday because of pain in his back. Manager Joe Girardi confirmed on Wednesday that Aceves has a bulging disc in his lower back.  . . .   During the Twins telecast of Wednesday’s game, play-by-play man Dick Bremer urged Twins fans to vote for Justin Morneau as the All-Star starter at first base for the American League. I have no issue with that but he went on to say that Mark Teixeira, who is currently leading the balloting at the position, was “undeserving.” It may come as news to Bremer but the fans are allowed to vote on whatever criterion they choose. It is a popularity contest and has nothing to do with who deserves the honor. So if Teixeira wins the balloting he is “deserving” because he is who the fans chose. By this criteria you are telling me Albert Pujols does not deserve to be the starting first baseman for National League because Ryan Howard has more homers? I do not think Bremer would say Pujols was not deserving unless Morneau was left out. 
THE NEXT GAME

The Yankees will have their broom out at Target Field on Thursday in looking for yet another sweep of the Twins. The Yankees will start Javier Vazquez (3-4, 6.69 ERA), who has been the Yankees best pitcher of late. He has a 2-1 record with
a 1.35 ERA in his past three appearances. He is also coming off a six-inning, one-hit gem against the New York Mets on Friday. 
Vazquez left the game after getting hit on the right index finger on a bunt attempt in the top of the seventh inning. But the Yankees have cleared Vazquez to make the start on Thursday.
He will be opposed by right-hander Nick Blackburn (5-1, 4.50 ERA). Blackburn has won four games in a row, including a game against the Yankees on May 16. In his last start, Blackburn gave up three runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
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