Results tagged ‘ Tim Wakefield ’

Yanks Barely Hang On To Edge Angels To End Skid

Enough is enough is enough
I can’t go on, I can’t go on, no more no
enough is enough is enough

                                                        –  “No More Tears” (Enough Is Enough) by Donna Summer

GAME 69

YANKEES 6, ANGELS 5

With the injuries and the losses seemingly about to bring this proud franchise to its knees the wounded, the wavering and the willing among the New York Yankees summoned just enough strength on Sunday to claim a victory to end their long and miserable West Coast road swing.

CC Sabathia held the Angels scoreless for eight innings, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells proved they do can do more than make outs with runners in scoring position and Mariano Rivera inched to the very edge of the precipice of blowing a save before striking out Albert Pujols with the bases loaded and two outs as New York escaped with a victory over Los Angeles.

In the grand scheme of things in a 162-game schedule this game may not mean a whole lot. But in the moment, both for manager Joe Girardi and his battered and beleaguered ball club,  this one at Angel Stadium was a very special victory.

Sabathia (7-5) served notice early that he was not going to lose without a fight by dazzling the potent Angels with eight innings of pure brilliance, allowing them four miserable little singles and two walks while he struck out six. He even used two double plays to wriggle out of any potential danger the Angels wanted to throw his way.

Even when Mike Trout laced a lined single off the 6-foot-7 left-hander with two out in the sixth inning, Sabathia waved off Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue as if to say “I am going to win this game no matter how much I hurt.”

Meanwhile, the Yankees started off against right-hander Jered Weaver (1-3) as if it was going to be another one of those days where they flood the bases with runners all day and only to have their efforts to score dashed by weak popups or strikeouts.

Brett Gardner opened the game with a double and Ichiro Suzuki drew a walk. Both then advanced a base when Weaver’s attempted pickoff of Gardner eluded Erick Aybar for an error.

But the Yankees struggling 3-4-5 hitters ended the threat when Robinson Cano struck out, Hafner walked and Wells hit into a double play.

But the Yankees somehow put it all together in the third inning.

Chris Stewart walked, Gardner singled to advance Stewart to third and then Gardner swiped second base to set up yet another threat with runners at second and third and no outs.

Forgive the cynical Yankees fans for not being surprised when Suzuki struck out and Cano popped up to shallow left, leaving both Stewart and Gardner where they were.

But on a 1-2 count, Hafner stroked what might have been the biggest home run the Yankees have delivered since Aaron Boone’s solo shot off Boston knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series in 2003.

Hafner lit into a high breaking pitch and sent into the bleachers in left-center for what was only his third hit and his first home run since he hit his 10th on June 5 against his former Cleveland Indians. Further forgive the cynical Yankee fans for not believing what they they just witnessed.

But the inning continued when Wells singled and Lyle Overbay, pressed back into the lineup at first base in the absence of an injured Mark Teixeira, drove him home with a double off the wall in center. Jayson Nix then capped the rally with a lined single to left to score Overbay.

The Yankees had a 5-0 lead. Smelling salts and ammonia must have been used in great quantities all across the tri-state area for the team’s disbelieving fans.

The Yankees added a seemingly meaningless run at the time in the eighth inning off right-hander Jerome Williams when Cano led off with a double, moved to third on a Hafner groundout and scored on a deep fly ball off the bat of Wells.

But this is the 2013 Yankees, after all. So nothing is ever going to be that easy for them, right?

So fast-forward to the ninth with a determined Sabathia on the mound trying to close out his second complete-game victory of the season and a shutout of the Angels at that.

But Peter Bourjos singled and Trout doubled within just eight pitches and Sabathia left in favor of right-handed setup man David Robertson. Surely, this game would end soon or would it?

But Pujols lined a single so hard off Robertson’s back that it caromed all the way to Suzuki in right-field to score Bourjos and end Sabathia’s shutout.

After Robertson got the hot-hitting Yankee-killer Howie Kendrick to strike out swinging, he walked pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck to load the bases.

Exit Robertson and enter Rivera looking for his 24th save in 25 chances in what would be his last appearance at the “Big A.”

Rivera seemingly restored order by retiring Aybar on a bounce-out to Overbay at first that scored Trout but left two out.

However, neither the “baseball gods’ or the Halos were quite through toying with the fragile psyche of the Yankees  -  not to mention their fans who just cleared their heads from the salts and ammonia from the five-run outburst in the third inning.

In quick succession, Alberto Callaspo floated a single into right to score two runs, pinch-hitter Brad Hawpe plopped a bloop single to left to put two runners on with two out and Bourjos followed with a feather-soft looper to left to score Callaspo.

Yep, the Angels managed three hits off the great Rivera but none of them could have broken a pane of glass and they came off the bat as if the ball were struck with wet newspapers.

Trout then got Girardi and the Yankees reaching for the Rolaids when he drew a walk to load the bases. The paid crowd of 41,204 did not know if they were witnessing a cruel close to Rivera’s career in Anaheim and a proud team about to commit “collective baseball suicide” by blowing a 6-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

That left Rivera to face the Angels legendary Pujols.

It was as if Rivera had said to himself, “Enough fooling around.” There was no mystery in what pitch Pujols would be getting and he got three of them.

First, a 94-mile-per-hour cutter for a called strike. Then a 94-mph cutter Pujols could only foul off. Then as the crowd stood, the runners took their leads and Girardi and his team swallowed their hearts, Rivera delivered his final 94-mph missive plate-ward and Pujols swung hard for horsehide and only came up with California air for strike three.

As Stewart raced out to congratulate Rivera, the 43-year-old future Hall of Fame closer did not smile. He knew it was a victory but he would have to admit it was more of an escape.

But this Yankee team will take it.

Despite the fact they had lost five games in a row. Despite the fact they had lost 13 of their previous 20 games. Despite the fact the lineup looks like the Yankees are playing a split-squad game in Dundin, FL, in March, the Yankees are still 38-31 on the season.

They are in third place in the American League East behind the first-place Boston Red Sox and the second-place Baltimore Orioles. But they are a mere two games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.

The Angels are in even worse shape. They are 30-39 and are 11 games out in fourth place in the A.L. West.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • It was nice to see Sabathia basically take the team on his back and carry them to victory despite what happened in the ninth. The team ace is supposed to stop the bleeding and that is exactly what Sabathia did on Sunday. If the Yankees could ask anything more of the 32-year-old left-hander it would be for him to string together about four or five more just like them.
  • Hafner’s home run was a big hit for him just as much as it was for the Yankees. Hafner, 36, began May hitting .318 with six home runs and 17 RBIs. But he hit just .179 in May and was hitting an anemic .111 in June. His demise may not be over but the Yankees still need him to provide power and production in the middle of the lineup. He is now hitting .221 and he is lot better hitter than that.
  • The unsung hero of this team has been Nix. All Nix did on Sunday was deliver three of the Yankees’ nine hits, he drove in a run with a two-out hit and he started a nifty 5-4 double play off the bat of Aybar in the fifth inning that erased a situation of two runners on with no outs. Nix is hitting .259 with a homer and 19 RBIs. But his numbers don’t tell the whole story of how he gets clutch hits, is solid in the field and he plays the game wisely.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

I do not care that the Yankees’ three best pitchers (Sabathia, Robertson and Rivera) nearly blew a lead in the ninth and that Reid Brignac was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play to lower his season average to .182. This win was needed and it erases a lot of very bad play on this road trip.

BOMBER BANTER

There was some good news and some and potential bad news about Teixeira’s sore right wrist. An MRI taken in New York indicated only inflammation and no tear in the sheath that he sustained in March. Teixeira was given a cortisone injection and he will be re-evaluated by the team’s medical staff in New York on Tuesday. There is a good possibility that Teixeira will have to be placed on the 15-day disabled list but Girardi is happy to know he does not need season-ending surgery on the wrist at this time. Teixeira was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game when he complained about soreness in the wrist. Overbay will play first base until Teixiera returns to the lineup.

ON DECK

The Yankees will lick their wounds, literally, with a day off on Monday before opening a two-game series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (3-5, 4.89 ERA) will pitch for the Yankees. Hughes has been up and down all season and his start on Wednesday against the Oakland Athletics was a downer. He lasted only 4 1/3 innings and he gave up three runs on four hits and five walks. Hughes has never faced the Dodgers.

Hughes will be opposed by left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (6-2, 2.85 ERA). Ryu was roughed up against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, yielding three runs on 11 hits in six innings. Ryu has never faced the Yankees.

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

 

 

Red Sox May Be Baseball’s Version Of The Titanic

TAMPA BAY RAYS 16, BOSTON RED SOX 5
Daisuke Matsuzaka gives up seven runs on eight hits and two walks in only two innings on Monday night. The Rays added five runs off Tim Wakefield and then battered former teammate Dan Wheeler for four more.
The Rays, who entered the game having scored only 20 runs all season nearly matched the total in one night feasting off Red Sox pitching.
The Red Sox are now 2-8. 
This is the team to beat for the American League East title? This is the A.L. champions? Excuse me, I don’t think so.
I have been hearing all this “You can’t judge a team by the way they play in April” talk and “It’s only been 10 games.” But the fact is this Red Sox team is hip deep in flaws and not all of them can or will be addressed in time to right the ship.
For one, the starting pitching is a shambles. Jon Lester is OK and Josh Beckett proved he is capable of pitching better this season but the rest is a disaster area. If you combine the three other pitchers’ totals for the season you have 25 2/3 innings, 44 hits, 14 walks and 34 earned runs.
That is an ERA of 11.92. You can have a lineup full of Carl Crawfords and Adrian Gonzalezes and still not have an offense that can overcome that degree of bad pitching.
Yet the Red Sox are stuck with the big contracts of Matsuzaka and John Lackey and they just signed Clay Buchholz to a huge extension. So looking for some improvement is a lot like bringing a knife to a gunfight and hoping all their guns jam.
Red Sox Nation, never short of quick fixes to their ailing ballclub, have weighed in with a lot of advice: Get rid of Mice-K, fire new pitching coach Curt Young and start Alfredo Aceves. But the Red Sox braintrust knows that their options are really limited.
When you pay top dollar for a Japanese pitcher as they did with Matsuzaka, you want return on investment. The fact is, the Red Sox got nothing but inconsistency out of what they thought was a star pitcher.
Theo Epstein, the executive vice president, general manager and legend in his own mind, should have donned his gorilla suit and high-tailed it after this fiasco. But now that the Red Sox have committed the dollars they are not going to give up on “Homer-san” any time too soon.
They let it be known all winter and this spring that Matsuzaka was available in trade but scouts from the other teams looked at what they were being offered and just laughed. No one wanted him and those that might have contemplated a deal might as well have thought of hari-kiri. Matsuzaka is just pure poison now.
His comments about the Red Sox medical staff and his own penchant to “do it his way” make him a very unattractive acquisition. Sure, they can bite the bullet and release him. But they are still obligated to pay the man. So the Sox are going to try “fix” him before they ever decide to admit they made a mistake in overpaying this stiff.
You ever wonder why the Yankees may no real effort to sign Lackey when he became a free agent?
You are seeing it now. Lackey has been, and always will be, kind of Joe Blanton-type of pitcher. Fierce competitor, yes. But he also is lacking a few bullets in the chamber.  
Look at Lackey’s career numbers and he never struck 200 batters. He also never was among the discussion of the best pitchers in baseball. He just was a tough and gritty pitcher who gave you max effort every time out.
Now that the age has slipped into the 30s and the innings have piled up, what Lackey can give is eroding with every inning. He can’t throw balls past hitters anymore so he has to trick them. But the hitters are catching up with the tricks.
Red Sox Nation can say “put him in the bullpen” or “release his butt.” But the fact is the Red Sox are committed to Lackey for the long term — emphasis on the word long. They signed him to a four-year deal and he is only in his second year.
Nope. John Lackey is not going anywhere but to the mound every fifth day for the Red Sox whether he gets his brains beat in or not. Thinking anything else is like wishing that it ain’t so.
So the Red Sox have to fix Matsuzaka and Lackey before the season really has started.
Then there is Buchholz, who last season was 17-7 with the league’s best ERA for a starter. You just pencil those good numbers in for 2010, huh? Not really.
Pitchers have to prove themselves every season. In 2008, Buchholz was 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA. In 2009, he was 7-4 with a 4.21 ERA. So which pitcher is Buchholz? Is he the guy with the 6.75 ERA or the guy with the 2.33 ERA in 2010?
Maybe you split the difference and get a pitcher who is the 4.21 ERA guy. Right now, his ERA is 7.20 so he has a ways to go to repairing the damage of his first two starts.
All this falls on Curt Young, who replaced John Farrell. Farrell had an established rapport with all these pitchers and now Young is trying to do the same. That takes time and sometimes it can be hard to unlock what is in the mind of a starter.
Young is an excellent pitching coach but he just is not the same guy as Farrell. He has different ways of saying things and doing things. The pitchers will have to adapt to him rather than the other way around. That takes time.
But one is a lead-pipe cinch: The Red Sox are not firing Young. That would not be fair.
So what if the losing continues? What happens if Lackey, Matsuzaka and Buchholz keep getting their brains beat in before the Fenway faithful take their first bite of their hot dogs? Well, I shudder to think of what will happen.
It certainly will get pretty ugly if this continues into May.
One thing is for certain. There is no way that Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee are showing up in Red Sox uniforms. Pedro and Curt Schilling are not coming out of retirement. Even if they did, the Sox would be better off with what they have.
So sometimes in building the perfect ship you end up with some rusty parts you did not see when you were in construction. That may be Theo’s biggest oversight this offseason. The shiny bright new toys obscured what lay underneath.
It was the same way the Titatnic was built and we all know what happened there. The only question now is are there enough lifeboats to get Red Sox Nation off this ship before it hits the bottom of the Atlantic.

Top Ten Excuses Why The Red Sox Are Not Winning

The Boston Red Sox were the choice of most experts to win the American League East in 2011. On the basis of their offseason signings of Carl Crawford and Bobby Jenks and the trade for Adrian Gonzalez made them prohibitive favorites on paper. However, with their 8-4 loss to the lowly Cleveland Indians on Wednesday night, Red Sox Nation is in mourning over an 0-5 start. Because their overenthusiastic fans are always capable of making excuses for their team, let’s look at the Top Ten Excuses for the Red Sox 0-5 start.
No. 10 – Hindsight being 20-20, it was not such a great idea to for the team to adopt the Bobby Jenks preseason workout regimen.
No. 9 – Should not have allowed Charlie Sheen to pipe into the clubhouse a videotape of his “Winning” speech on Opening Day.
No. 8 – David Ortiz is about 150 doughnuts below his daily recommended intake.
No. 7 – The other starters are asking Dice-K for advice on how to pitch around .150 hitters.
No. 6 – Jonathan Papelbon strained a cheek muscle practicing his patented stare into a hotel mirror.
No. 5 – Dustin Pedroia is having a hard time arguing with umpires over strike calls because he is shouting into their crotches and they can’t hear him.
No. 4 – Tim Wakefield is ruining clubhouse morale by drowning out Lady GaGa and The Black-Eyed Peas with his Garth Brooks CDs.
No. 3 – With Manny gone the traveling secretary is routinely kicking Kevin Youkilis’ butt.
No. 2 – Terry Francona’s idea to promote team chemistry by having a quilting bee fell a bit short of expectations. 
And the No. 1 excuse why the Red Sox are not winning:
On paper they are good, in reality they suck!

Yankees Hot While Red Sox Rotation In Shambles

COMMENTARY


The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox took different views about improving their pitching this offseason.
The Yankees, having not made the playoffs for the first time in 15 seasons in 2008, decided they needed to dive into the free-agent market with whatever dollars they were saving by shedding the salaries of Bobby Abreu, Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano.
Their effort yielded two of the best studs in the market, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. The pair are 17-10 but the Yankees are 22-16 in their starts. Both have given the Yankees seven or more innings in most of their starts.
It is safe to say that the Yankees latest hot streak is due, in part, to the pitching of Sabathia and Burnett.
The Red Sox, coming off winning the American League wild-card, did not return to defend their 2007 championship. They lost in the American League Championship Series to the division-winning Tampa Bay Rays.
They chose to stick pretty much with the pitching staff they had: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester. Daisuke Matsuzaka and 42-year-old Tim Wakefield were givens. 
But the Red Sox took calculated gambles on a pair of injured veteran free agents: Brad Penny and John Smoltz. That decision now will decide whether General Manager Theo Epstein made the right choice or cost the Red Sox the division and maybe even the wild card.
Penny and Smoltz certainly cost the Red Sox less money. But can the pair help lead them when the Yankees are firing on all cylinders and the Red Sox seem to have blown a tire?
Since the All-Star Break the Yankees have won five straight games while the Red Sox have lost their last four in a row at Toronto and Texas. They are hitting .194 as a team since the break. J.D. Drew is 0 for 22 in the same time frame.
But, even worse, on the same day the Yankees reclaimed sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time since June 8, the Red Sox placed Wakefield (11-3, 4.31 ERA) on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury.
Wakefield, coming off being selected to his first All-Star team, has not pitched since July 8. But because the Red Sox had just sent Buchholz to the minors after a start on July 17, Wakefield can’t return until Aug. 2. But will he be able to return then? I mean we are talking a back injury on a 42-year-old pitcher.
In the meantime, Dice-K has pitched this season like Mice-K (1-5, 8.23 ERA) and it appears that his stint pitching for Japan in World Baseball Classic this spring has put his season in jeopardy. He is currently on the disabled list and he has not pitched since June 19. Even if he does return how effective will he be?
Lester has loads of ability but he has been inconsistent this season. He is 8-7 with a 3.87 ERA. It is up to he and Beckett (11-4, 3.42 ERA) to hold the rotation together until help arrives.
But the injuries to Wakefield and Matsusaka call into question Epstein’s decision to offer bargain-basement contracts to pitchers they knew were coming off injuries. Now it is perhaps coming back to haunt the young GM.
Penny is 6-4 with a bloated 5.02 ERA and he has pitched into the seventh inning only three times in 18 starts and he has not won a game since June 17.
Smoltz, who was carefully brought along through an extended rehab due to off-season shoulder surgery, is 1-3 with a very un-Smoltz-like ERA of 6.31 in five starts. In his last start, he was sailing into the sixth inning with a 2-1 lead.
But home runs from Michael Young, former Red Sox outfielder David Murphy and Jarrod Saltalamacchia buried the Red Sox with a 6-2 deficit and they lost the game 6-3. 
Now the Red Sox have to count on an inconsistent Clay Buchholz. Following his his no-hit late season heroics in 2007, Buchholz was a miserable 2-9 with a 6.75 ERA last season. He was so bad Epstein chose not to include him in any plans for this season’s rotation. Though he pitched well and won his July 17 start is there any guarantee he will not pitch like he did in 2008?
With an offense sputtering and a rotation in shambles, the news that the Yankees have won 18 of the last 23 games can hardly be good news to the Red Sox. More bad news, the Red Sox tailspin has the Tampa Bay Rays just 3 1/2 games behind the Sawx.
Uh-oh!
Even more bad news: Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said it is “unlikely” they will make any deal for ace righty Roy Halladay. So if Red Sox Nation was hoping to bring the All-Star starter over the border to Fenway they will have to look elsewhere for pitching help.
This is not to say the race is over. The Yankees do not feel like they won anything yet. But the Red Sox better recover in a hurry before they bury themselves in what is a very competitive division.
Pinching Pennys and Smoltzes may have cost Theo Epstein a fortune and the Red Sox may regret it for a long, long time.
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