Results tagged ‘ White Sox ’

Yankees’ Post-Rivera Bullpen Still Looks Talented

This season’s ninth innings are going to seem very strange for the New York Yankees.

For the first time since 1997 the team will not have the benefit of the greatest closer in baseball history.

Mariano Rivera was the gold standard of the modern era one-inning closer and won’t it be odd not hearing “Enter Sandman” reverberate throughout the Yankee Stadium?

Rivera leaves taking his major-league 652 saves and career ERA of 2.21. He also removes the security blanket that managers Joe Torre and Joe Girardi had that made them so successful. Opponents will enter the 2014 season extremely happy that No. 42 will not be in the Yankees’ bullpen.

The question is who will take Mo’s place?

Though no promises have been made, David Robertson will have the opportunity to fill the biggest shoes in baseball.

Robertson, 28, like Rivera, is a product of the Yankees’ minor-league system and he has been Rivera’s set-up man for the past three seasons.

In four full seasons and parts  of a fifth, Robertson has compiled a 21-14 record with a sparkling 2.76 ERA. Last season, Robertson was 5-1 with 2.04 ERA and superbly set up Rivera in his final season.

The big question is can the former University of Alabama closer handle the job at the major-league level. Robertson has a mere eight saves in 18 chances in the majors.

When handed the role in 2012 when Rivera injured his knee early in the season, Robertson faltered and was replaced by Rafael Soriano. That experience leaves enough doubt about him heading into the new season.

But Robertson has the goods to close. He can bring a low- to mid-90s fastball, a cutter he learned from the master Rivera and a knee-buckling curveball. The only question is can he keep his pitch counts down to get through a clean ninth inning consistently?

Rivera’s lifetime WHIP (Walks and Hits to Innings Pitched) was 1.00, which is excellent. Robertson is sporting a career WHIP of 1.25, which is not great for a reliever. However, his WHIPs over the past three seasons have been 1.13, 1.17 and 1.04.

The 1.04 WHIP from last season is a career low. That is closer material. So Robertson stands as the No. 1 candidate as of today.

The Yankees still could sign a closer before spring training opens. But that is not looking likely.

The best closer on the market, Grant Balfour of the Oakland Athletics, signed a two-year deal with his former team the Tampa Bay Rays. Former Rays closer Fernando Rodney, 36, was excellent in 2012 but regressed in 2013 with 37 saves and 3.38 ERA and a high WHIP of 1.34.

In addition, the Yankees have already spent a lot of money on free agents this offseason. Can they afford to add more?

A more likely scenario would be a trade packaging some players in return for an experienced bullpen pitcher who can set up and close out games. Stay tuned.

The Yankee bullpen also will be without some other familiar names in 2014.

The Colorado Rockies signed left-hander Boone Logan to a three-year deal. The Detroit Tigers signed right-hander Joba Chamberlain to a one-year deal.

The Yankees did sign veteran left-hander Matt Thornton, 37, from the Boston Red Sox. Thornton has some heavy mileage on him but he provides the team a quality left-hander who has had experience as a set-up man and closer.

Thornton has a career record of 32-42 with a 3.53 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP and 23 career saves. He was 0-4 with a 3.74 ERA in 60 games with the Chicago White Sox and the Red Sox last season. He will essentially replace Logan as the team’s main left-hander.

The Yankees also have a holdover in right-hander Shawn Kelley, 29, who was 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA in 57 games with the Yankees last season. The former Seattle Mariner essentially made Chamberlain obsolete after recording 71 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings with his devastating slider.

Kelley and Thornton are likely to be Girardi’s main seventh and eighth inning options this season.

The Yankees also have high hopes for right-hander Preston Claiborne, 26, who was impressive in the early stages of his rookie season.

Called up in May, Claiborne did not issue a walk in his first nine appearances. On July 28, Claiborne was 0-1 with a 2.06 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 29 games. However, the wheels came off the wagon quickly and he was 0-1 with a 8.80 ERA in his last 15 games.

The Yankees still believe the big Texan nicknamed “Little Joba” can pitch as he did in his first 29 games in the major leagues. As long as Claiborne is attacking the strike zone to get ahead he can be a huge weapon for Girardi this season. Claiborne has a very high ceiling and spring training will determine just how far he can go in 2014.

Speaking of high ceilings, the reliever to watch this spring will be left-handed specialist Cesar Cabral, 25.

A Rule 5 draft pick in 2011, Cabral was competing for a job with the Yankees in 2012 when he suffered a fracture of his left elbow in his final appearance of spring training and he missed the entire 2012 season.

His rehab also extended into 2013. In 30 games in three stops in the minors, Cabral was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA. But he had 43 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings. He was called up to the majors when the rosters expanded on Sept. 1 and he made his major-league debut on Sept. 2.

Cabral ended up 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in eight late-season games, striking out six in 3 2/3 innings. Lefties hit .125 off him.

It looks as if the Yankees have found a gem in the young lefty. Cabral enters 2014 as almost a shoo-in to make the team to give the team a lefty specialist they have lacked since Clay Rapada injured his arm in spring training last season. Mark my words, Cabral is something special.

The other two spots in the bullpen are up for grabs. But the Yankees have a lot of options to fill those spots.

Should Michael Pineda claim a  spot in the starting rotation and join CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda, one obvious choice to fill out the bullpen is David Phelps.

Phelps, 27, has served as reliever and spot starter for the past two seasons.

In two seasons he is 10-9 with a 4.11 ERA in 55 games (23 starts). His ERA is inflated because he been less successful as a starting pitcher the past two seasons. Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild would like to see Phelps resume his role in the bullpen because of his versatility and effectiveness.

Phelps does not possess a crackling fastball but he does have extreme confidence in his stuff. He throws strikes and his control is excellent.

Along with Phelps, the Yankees used rookie right-hander Adam Warren as a long reliever and spot starter last season. Warren, 26, responded with a 3-2 record and a 3.39 ERA in 34 games (two of them starts).

Warren enters spring training in the running for the No. 5 spot in the rotation but could very well end up as the long man out of the bullpen again. Unlike Phelps though, Warren has a mid-90s fastball and he has been better as a starter.

The same can be said for 26-year-old left-hander Vidal Nuno.

Nuno won the James P. Dawson Award in 2013 for being the most impressive rookie in spring training. He then went 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before making his major-league debut as a reliever in last April.

He was 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in five games (three starts) before a strained left groin sustained on May 30 shelved him for the rest of the season.

Nuno is a soft-tosser but he has exceptional control. His ability to fool hitters with his breaking stuff makes him a good possibility as a No. 5 starter if he is impressive again this spring. He also could become a third lefty as a long man in the bullpen.

At the very least, Nuno could return to Scranton and be ready for fill in as a starter or reliever for the Yankees should they need to replace an injured pitcher. Nuno is an excellent insurance policy for Girardi.

One very intriguing bullpen possibility for the Yankees is former top prospect starter Dellin Betances, 25.

The 6-foot-8, 260-pound right-hander flamed out as a starter in 2012 when he recorded a 6-9 record and 6.44 ERA with 99 walks in 113 1/3 innings at two minor-league stops. The Yankees made him a reliever in 2013 and he was much better.

Betances was 6-4 with a 2.68 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 84 innings at Scranton. He cut his walks to just 42.

He was called up in September and had a 10.00 ERA in six games late in the season. But the Yankees believe he has potential to be a dominant reliever in the major leagues is he continues to harness his control. He has mid-90s fastball and his power curve is getting better.

Betances enters this spring as a dark-horse bullpen candidate with the tools to become an excellent reliever someday and perhaps a future closer.

The same can be said of right-hander Mark Montgomery, 23, the team’s current No. 11 prospect.

Montgomery has a 93-mile-per-hour fastball but his biggest weapon is a drop-off-the-table slider that has shot him through the minor-league ranks.

In 2012 he struck out 13.8 batters per nine innings as he advanced through Double-A Trenton. He also led the organization in saves. Last season, Montgomery was 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 40 innings at Scranton.

He will get an opportunity to show his progress this spring but he likely will start the season in Scranton. The Yankees still see him as a future setup man or closer. He may get his shot sometime in 2014.

Another minor-leaguer worth watching this spring is 24-year-old right-hander Chase Whitley, who spent most of last season at Scranton.

Whitley was 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings in 29 games. The Alabama native also showed some ability as a starter late in the season.

In five late-season starts, Whitley was 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA. The Yankees will evaluate him this spring and determine what role he might be best suited. But his solid numbers in the minors indicate he is on track to make the major leagues in a few years.

One interesting aspect of the candidates I have mentioned so far is that seven of them (Robertson, Claiborne, Phelps, Warren, Betances, Montgomery and Whitley) were originally drafted by the Yankees. Two others (Cabral and Nuno) are products of the team’s minor-league system.

The other two candidates (Thornton and Kelley) were signed as a free agent and via a trade, respectively.

Although the Yankees’ position players in the minors are progressing slowly. The same can’t be said for the starters and relievers they have been developing the past few seasons. That is a testament to the scouting department and general manager Brian Cashman.

The Yankees need to continue that development as they move forward.

The biggest testimony to that progress will be if Robertson seamlessly settles in as the team’s closer. He may be replacing a huge legend. But if anyone can do it, it  is Robertson.

A lot is riding on Robertson;s right arm and the Yankees are very hopeful he can meet the challenge.

 

Rivera Halts Late Rally As Yankees Sweep Chisox

GAME 139

YANKEES 6, WHITE SOX 5

If Yankees manager Joe Girardi wants to have a conversation after the season with Mariano Rivera just to make sure he really wants to retire who could blame him. The 43-year-old future Hall-of Fame closer has shown no signs of his age or lost an of his effectiveness.

Rivera came with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning on Wednesday and “Mo’ed” down all four batters he faced for a rare four-out save to propel New York to a three-game sweep of Chicago in front of a paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 36,082.

The Yankees actually were cruising with a 6-1 lead behind CC Sabathia in the top of the eighth when Girardi pulled him with Alexei Ramirez on second and Paul Konerko on first after he singled with one out.

Little did Girardi and the Yankees realize that the usually reliable David Robertson would have a meltdown that allowed the White Sox to climb back into the game.

Avisail Gracia greeted Roberston with an RBI single to left to score Ramirez and, one out later, Dayan Viciedo drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases.

Josh Phegley followed with a two-run single to left and Marcus Semien, who was making his major-league debut, ripped an RBI single up the middle to bring the Chisox to within a run of the Yankees and send Robertson to the dugout.

Rivera came on to strike out Alejandro De Aza looking to shut the rally down and he then pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 41st save in 46 opportunities this season.

Sabathia (13=11) pitched 7 1/3 string innings to run his career record against the White Sox to 19-4. He gave up three runs on five hits and four walks while he struck four in his longest outing since Aug. 7.

Other than the two runs, Sabathia was charged with in the eighth, he only gave up a single run in the first inning when Garcia stroked a two-out, opposite-field double to drive in Gordon Beckham, who had drawn a one-out walk.

The Yankees, however, tied it with two out in the bottom of the first when Robinson Cano blasted his 26th home run of the season to right-field off right-hander Erik Johnson, who was also making his major-league debut.

The Yankees added four runs in the fourth inning off Johnson (0-1) as Alex Rodriguez led off with a lined single to center and Ichiro Suzuki reached first when Johnson’s throw to first base pulled Jeff Keppinger off the bag for an error.

Lyle Overbay followed with an RBI single and, one out later, Brett Gardner laced a two-run triple off the wall in left-center. Cano then capped the inning by driving in his 91st run of the year by scoring Gardner on a sharp comebacker off Johnson that was scored as an infield single.

Johnson, 22, was charged with five runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks while he fanned one batter in six innings. That one batter was Suzuki, who struck out with the bases loaded and two out in the first inning.

The Yankees added what looked to be just another tack on run in the seventh inning off right-hander Daniel Webb, who was the third player for the White Sox who was making his major-league debut.

Derek Jeter drew a leadoff walk and Cano advanced him to third with a lined single to right for his third hit of the night.

Alfonso Soriano then scored Jeter with a sacrifice fly to deep right for his 91st RBI of the season and his 40th in just 37 games with the Yankees. That run actually ended up being the margin of victory for the Yankees, who managed a home sweep of the Chisox after they swept the Yankees in a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field a month ago.

With the victory the Yankees improved to 75-64 and they remain in third place in the American League East eight games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. However, they are just 2 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for a wild-card spot. The last-place White Sox fell to 56-82, assuring them a season below .500.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano is red-hot at the plate at just the right time for the Yankees’ playoff push. He was 3-for-4 on Wednesday with a pair of singles, a home run, a run scored and two RBIs. Since Aug. 2, Cano is 42-for-117 (.359) with five home runs and 21 RBIs. Soriano is providing him with a lot of protection in the cleanup spot and he is getting better pitches to hit as a result.
  • Gardner has also been on fire of late. He was 2-for-4 with a single, a triple, a run scored and two RBIs on the night. In his past nine games, Gardner is 12-for-35 (.343) with six doubles and a triple, eight runs scored and four RBIs. His triple on Wednesday was his eighth of the season, which is a career high.
  • Sabathia actually pitched creditably after going through a stretch in which his ERA was an incredible 7.33 in his past nine starts. Sabathia has managed to win four his past five starts but he has been getting by with more run support than he received earlier in the season. The Yankees are hoping he can turn in a very good September to get the team into the playoffs.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Robertson’s outing was very jarring because he was rocked for two runs on three hits and a walk in just one-third of an inning. Robertson had only given up one earned run over his past 29 1/3 innings covering 17 appearances since June 19. Considering his season ERA is still 1.88 after his outing on Wednesday I doubt Girardi will lose sleep over it.
  • Suzuki was 0-for-4 and did allow Johnson to escape a bases-loaded jam in the first when he struck out on a pitch that actually bounced in the batter’s box at his feet. He did not get a ball out of the infield and he is just 1-for-9 in his past four games and is hitting just .182 in his past 10 games.

BOMBER BANTER

Girardi dropped a bombshell when he announced on Wednesday that right-hander Phil Hughes has been shifted from the starting rotation to the bullpen in favor of left-hander David Huff. Hughes, 27, is 4-13 with a 4.86 ERA in 26 starts this season. He has lost 11 of his past 13 decisions and he has a 6.12 ERA since August.  Huff, 29, has compiled a 2-0 record with 1.13 ERA in 16 innings covering seven appearances with the Yankees, most of them in long relief. Huff is scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s game against the Red Sox as part of the four-game home weekend series.  . . .  Right-hander Ivan Nova was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for August on Wednesday. Nova, 26, was 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his six starts and he is coming off his first major-league complete-game shutout in his last start against the Orioles on Saturday.

ON DECK

The Yankees’ hopes to win the A.L. East hinge on their four-game weekend series with the Red Sox that starts on Thursday.

Nova (8-4, 2.88 ERA) will be starting for the Yankees and he is the team’s hottest pitcher of late. Nova held the Orioles to three hits, walked one and struck out five batters in what was his most dominant start of the season. Nova is 2-2 with a 4.85 ERA in his career against the Bosox.

Nova will be opposed by right-hander Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.18 ERA). Peavy held the White Sox to two runs on five hits and a walk in seven innings to win his last start on Saturday. However, Peavy has had no luck against the Yankees. He is 0-4 with a 3.86 ERA lifetime against them.

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

 

No Sale! Yanks Cash In 5 Late Runs To Sink Chisox

GAME 138

YANKEES 6, WHITE SOX 4

Through 7 1/3 innings on Tuesday the White Sox were sailing along behind left-hander Chris Sale and boasting a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 edge. But the wind got let out of their “Sale” and the Yankees got off the poop deck for an epic, exciting come-from-behind victory that kept their playoff hopes alive.

Curtis Granderson stroked a one-out, pinch-hit RBI single off left-hander Donnie Veal and, one out later, Eduardo Nunez laced a two-run double off right-hander Matt Lindstrom to cap a five-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning as New York stunned Chicago in front of a raucous paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 33,215.

Sale, a two-time American League All-Star, had held the Yankees to an unearned run on only three hits through 7 1/3 innings until Derek Jeter slapped a 0-1 pitch into center that ignited the miracle comeback. Robinson Cano followed by lining a 1-2 pitch off the base of the left-field wall for a double to advance Jeter to third and chase Sale from the game.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura replaced Sale with right-hander Nate Jones and trade-deadline sensation Alfonso Soriano greeted Jones by lofting a 0-2 slider into center-field to score Jeter and Cano. Alex Rodriguez followed with a single to center on a 3-2 slider to advance Soriano to third.

Ventura replaced Jones with Veal and Granderson, batting in place of Vernon Wells, lined a 3-1 pitch into center to score Soriano with the tying run.

After Veal struck out Mark Reynolds on a 3-2 fastball, Ventura brought in his third reliever of the inning in Lindstrom to face Nunez.

Nunez then slapped a 1-1 fastball down the left-field line to score Rodriguez and Granderson as what was left of the huge throng stood on its feet and cheered as if the Yankees already had clinched a playoff spot. Nunez stood at second base and raised both arms to celebrate his heroic hit.

Mariano Rivera came in the ninth to earn his 40th save with a perfect frame, striking out two batters and punctuating the grand evening with a called strike three on pinch-hitter Leury Garcia.

Boone Logan (5-2) pitched a perfect eighth in relief to earn the victory. Jones (4-5) took the loss.

The game was very much a pitchers’ duel between the Chisox ace, Sale, and Yankee right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.

The White Sox opened the scoring in the first inning when Gordon Beckham blasted a one-out double off the left-field wall and Alexei Ramirez then reached on a fielding error at short by Nunez.

Adam Dunn then singled to center to score Beckham.

The Yankees resorted to some rare base-running trickery to score the tying run in the second inning.

Wells singled up the middle and advanced to second on an error by Beckham when the second baseman kicked the ball into left-field. One out later, Nunez reached first on a fielding error by third baseman Conor Gillaspie allowing Wells to move to third.

With two out, Yankees manager Joe Girardi rolled the dice and had Nunez break for second and stop midway between first and second base. When catcher Josh Phegley threw the ball to Beckham at second base, Wells broke for home and he slid in ahead of the return throw to Phegley from Beckham.

But the White Sox reclaimed the lead in the fifth off Kuroda when Alejandro De Aza singled and stole second. Beckham then drew a walk on 11 pitches. Ramirez scored by De Aza and Beckham with a triple into the left-field corner.

De Aza padded the lead to 4-1 with one out in the seventh inning when he cranked a solo homer into the short porch in right-field. That also ended Kuroda’s evening.

Kuroda was charged with four runs on seven hits and two walks while he fanned seven in 6 1/3 innings.

Sales yielded three runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk while he struck out six in 7 1/3 innings.

The victory improved the Yankees’ season ledger to 74-64 and kept them within eight games of the first-place Boston Red Sox in the American League East. However, the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Cleveland Indians, which allowed the Yankees to move back ahead of the O’s in third place in the division.

The Yankees also have climbed to within two games of the slumping Tampa Bay Rays for a wild-card playoff spot.

The White Sox, who have gave up eight runs in the fifth inning to the Yankees on Monday and five runs in the eighth inning to the Yankees on Tuesday, are now 56-81.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • The only reason Nunez was in the game at shortstop was because with Sale on the mound Girardi elected to insert Jeter as the designated hitter and have Nunez play shortstop to get seven right-handed hitters into the lineup. Despite his fielding error in the first, Nunez was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a stolen base and two RBIs in the game. Nunez was hitting a paltry .219 on Aug. 6 but he is 25-for-75 (.333) with a home run and 13 RBIs since then. He also has raised his season average to .255.
  • Soriano’s amazing run at the plate since he was acquired by the Yankees on July 26 continued on Tuesday. He was just 1-for-4 but that single drove in two huge runs in the eighth inning that drew the Yankees to within a run of the Chisox. Soriano is hitting .261 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs in his 35 games back in pinstripes.
  • Jeter entered the game with just four hits in his past 27 at-bats. He responded by going 2-for-3 and a run scored on Tuesday. In his two games against the Chisox, Jeter is 4-for-7 (.571) with two runs scored and two RBIs. The Yankees also took note that Jeter seems to be running much better on his formerly fractured left ankle.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

The Yankees can’t be happy with Kuroda’s recent pitching slump, which continued on Tuesday. But they have to be pleased that the team mustered the wherewithal to put together that amazing eighth-inning rally when they so desperately needed a victory to keep pace for a wild-card spot. The Yankees snatched victory out the jaws of defeat and this one possibly may carry them for the next few days.

BOMBER BANTER

Jeter’s hit in the eight inning was the 3,315th of his career and moved him ahead of Eddie Collins in ninth place on the all-time hits list.  . . .  Wells’ steal of home in the second inning on Tuesday was the first of his career and it was the Yankees’ first since Mark Teixeira pulled it off against the Oakland Athletics on June 1, 2011 on an attempted pickoff throw by catcher Kurt Suzuki on Rodriguez at first base.

ON DECK

The Yankees can repay the Chisox for their sweep of the Yankees last month in Chicago with a sweep of them on Wednesday.

Left-hander CC Sabathia (12-11, 4.91 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Sabathia gave up five runs for the sixth time in his past nine starts on Friday against the Orioles but he still was able to win the game. He is 18-4 with a 3.64 ERA in the past 10 seasons against the White Sox.

The White Sox will start right-handed rookie Erik Johnson, who will be making his major-league debut. Johnson was a combined 12-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 24 starts at Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. Johnson is 23 years old and he is rated as the team’s No. 2 prospect by MLB.com.

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

 

Yanks’ 8-Run Deluge In 4th Drowns Hapless Chisox

GAME 136

YANKEES 9, WHITE SOX1

They had to be wondering when  -  or even if  -  it was ever going to stop. What started out as a just a trickle became a torrent and there was nothing but dark angry clouds overhead.

I am not talking about the paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 40,125 that had to brave a one-hour and 53-minute rain delay and halted the game with one out in the top of the second inning. I am speaking about the Chicago White Sox during the Yankees’ eight-run bottom of the fourth inning as 13 batters came to the plate in a frame that took 32 minutes to play.

New York rode that eight-run explosion  -  the team’s largest run total of any inning this season  -  to a comfortable thrashing of last-place Chicago in a Labor Day matinee.

The Yankees began the inning with a 1-0 lead with which Derek Jeter had staked them on an RBI single following a leadoff double by Brett Gardner off left-hander Jose Quintana (7-5) in the bottom of the first.

Alex Rodriguez opened the fourth with a double off right-hander Dylan Axelrod, who replaced Quintana after the rain delay in the bottom of the second. Vernon Wells then reached on an infield single and Curtis Granderson drew a walk to load the bases.

Mark Reynolds opened the scoring with an infield single that scored Rodriguez. Austin Romine followed with a two-run single to center and Gardner stroked his second double of the day to score Reynolds and advance Romine to third.

Jeter scored Romine on an infield roller to third and, one out later, Alfonso Soriano laced an RBI double to left to score Gardner and advance Jeter to third.

After Rodriguez walked to reload the bases, White Sox manager Robin Ventura lifted Axelrod in favor of right-hander Jeff Petricka.

Wells grounded into what appeared to be a routine inning-ending double-play ball to Adam Dunn at first. However, Dunn’s toss to second base was behind shortstop Alexei Ramirez, which allowed Jeter and Soriano to score and left Rodriguez safe on the error at second.

That gave the Yankees a 9-0 lead over a White Sox team that had swept them in a three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago from Aug. 5-7.

Veteran left-hander David Huff (2-0) relieved starter Phil Hughes after the rain delay with one out in the second inning and pitched 5 2/3 innings of one-run baseball to gain credit for the victory.

Paul Konerko connected for a solo home run  -  his 10th of the season  -  with one out in the seventh to account for the only run for the Chisox.

Huff yielded five hits, walked none and fanned three batters to pick up his second victory with the Yankees.

Axelrod, on the other hand, was shelled for eight runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks and struck one in 2 1/3 innings.

The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 73-64 and they are eight games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in fourth place in the American League East. However, the Yankees are just three games back in the wild-card standings. The White Sox fell to 58-80.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Jeter entered the game hitting .167 in the 11 games in which he played this season. But Jeter broke through by going 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Jeter also looked good advancing to third on a fly ball to right off the bat of Robinson Cano in the first inning. Jeter’s two hits raised his season average to .196.
  • Gardner was 2-for-5 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. In his past four games, Gardner is 7-for-17 (.412) with five doubles, five runs scored and two RBIs. The hot streak has raised Gardner’s season average to .273 and he has eight homers and 45 RBIs out of the leadoff spot.
  • Huff, 29, has been excellent since he was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Aug. 16. In his five appearances, Huff has given up just one run on six hits and a walk while striking out 10 batters in 16 innings of work. That is an ERA of 0.56 and a WHIP of 0.43. If Hughes loses his starting spot it most definitely will be given to the left-hander.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

After Sunday’s disastrous bullpen meltdown and after being swept this same White Sox team a month ago, it was good to see the Yankees put the game away early. The Yankees can’t afford to let teams think they still have a chance to win when they have a lead. They nailed the door shut and got the White Sox to give up early. I have nothing critical to say.

BOMBER BANTER

After being called up and being sent down five times in a 10-day period, Preston Claiborne was recalled  -  likely for the rest of the season  -  from Class-A Tampa on Monday by the Yankees. The Yankees now have 31 players on their expanded September roster, including 11 relief pitchers. Claiborne, 25, is 0-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 37 appearances with the Yankees this season.  . . .  Left-hander Cesar Cabral and catcher J.R. Murphy both made their major-league debuts on Monday for the Yankees and Murphy’s insertion into the game as pinch-hitter in the eighth inning for Robinson Cano set an all-time record for the Yankees when they used their 52nd player of the season. Murphy, 22, collected his first major-league hit in that pinch-hitting appearance, drilling a hot shot to third that was scored an infield hit. Meanwhile, Cabral, 24, pitched a scoreless eighth inning, giving up one hit and striking out two batters. Cabral, a left-hander, missed all of the 2012 season after suffering a stress fracture in his left elbow in his final appearance of spring training.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game series with the White Sox on Tuesday.

Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.89 ERA) will get the nod for the Yankees. The 39-year-old right-hander has been blasted for 12 runs in his past two outings and needs to get back to his previous form for the Yankees to have a shot of winning a playoff spot. Kuroda is 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA in his career against the Chisox.

The White Sox will counter with left-hander Chris Sale (10-12, 2.99 ERA). Sale set a franchise record with his fourth start of 12 strikeouts or more in a victory over the Houston Astros. He has a personal high of 193 strikeouts for the season. He is 2-0 with 0.49 ERA in his career against the Yankees.

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

 

‘Super’ Nova Helps Yankees Bring Padres To Knees

GAME 109

YANKEES 3, PADRES 0

It would have been easy for the Yankees to have given up on 26-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova after a disastrous 2012 season and when he started 2013 with a 1-1 record and a 6.48 ERA after four April starts. But their patience with the 6-foot-4 Dominican is being rewarded now.

Nova (5-4) hurled seven shutout innings while striking out eight and Curtis Granderson blasted a two-run homer in the seventh inning on Saturday as New York blanked San Diego in front of a sellout crowd of 44,184 at Petco Park.

Nova held the Padres to just four hits and a walk while he strung together a stretch of retiring 15 straight Padre batters to win his first game since July 10.

The Yankee offense, meanwhile, struggled initially against right-hander Tyson Ross (2-5).

Ross held the Yankees hitless through the first 4 1/3 innings before Lyle Overbay stroked a one-out opposite-field single in the fifth.

The Yankees did not score until Alfonso Soriano opened the seventh inning with a bloop single to shallow center. Granderson followed with his second home run of the season, a long, high drive that reached the bleachers in right-center, to give Nova and the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Ross gave up the two runs on only three hits and three walks in six-plus innings while he fanned a season-high nine batters, mostly recorded with a devastating slider.

The Yankees managed to tack on a run in the ninth off right-hander Dale Thayer after Granderson opened the inning with a single, stole second and he scored on a two-out single by Jayson Nix.

The Yankees’ bullpen came through with two shutout innings to close out the victory for Nova.

David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth and Mariano Rivera came in to hurl a perfect ninth for his 35th save in 37 chances this season. It also was his first save that he has ever recorded at Petco Park in what will be his final season.

The victory improved the Yankees’ season ledger to 57-52 and they remain in fourth place in the American League East, 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox. The Padres fell to 51-60.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Nova finally got some run support, although it did come late in the game. Nova pitched well but had lost his past two starts because the Yankees did not score him any runs. Since coming off the disabled list on June 23, Nova is 4-3 with a 2.15 ERA in nine games, six of them starts. It looks as if Nova has regained his 2011 form when he was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA.
  • Granderson looked absolutely overmatched in the fifth inning when he struck out swinging on a slider from Ross that ended up in the dirt. But he bounced back in the seventh by driving a high fastball into the seats in right-center with Soriano aboard. Granderson, 32, had been 0-for-6 since be activated form the disabled list before going 2-for-2 with a stolen base, two RBIs and two runs scored in his final two at-bats.
  • While Rivera deservedly is getting all the accolades in his final season, Robertson’s brilliance in the eighth inning is being overlooked. The 28-year-old right-hander’s scoreless eighth gives him a string of 16 2/3 scoreless innings covering 17 appearances dating back to June 19. He has lowered his season ERA from 2.93 to 1.79 during that span.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

With Nova pitching brilliantly, the bullpen doing its usual great job and Granderson providing the team with much needed power there is not much to complain about. This is the way it was supposed to be before all the injuries decimated this team.

BOMBER BANTER

Shortstop Derek Jeter did not play in Saturday’s game and will not play until Monday at the earliest due to a right calf and leg injury. Manager Joe Girardi did not know if the injury was related to the Grade 1 quadriceps injury that landed Jeter on the disabled list on July 12. He will continue to receive treatment for the injury and the Yankees are hoping he can avoid going back on the disabled list for a third time this season. Jeter is hitting .211 in five games with the Yankees. Eduardo Nunez replaced Jeter in the lineup on Saturday and was 0-for-3 with a walk.  . . .  Right-hander David Phelps has a sore right elbow and was scratched from a rehab start scheduled for Double-A Trenton on Sunday. Phelps was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 5 with a right forearm strain. Phelps is 6-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 games (12 starts) this season with the Yankees.  . . .  Girardi told reporters on Saturday that if Alex Rodriguez is available to play with the Yankees on Monday he will be penciled into the lineup against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. Rodriguez walked in all four of his plate appearances and scored a run for Trenton on Saturday as part of his rehab assignment from left quad strain. However, it is possible that Rodriguez could draw a suspension from Major League Baseball before he is able to take the field on Monday.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance to win the rubber game of the three-game series with the Padres on Sunday.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.58 ERA) will start for New York. Hughes gave up five runs on nine hits in four innings in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 28. Hughes has never faced the Padres in his major-league career.

Hughes will be opposed by former Yankee right-hander Ian Kennedy (3-8, 5.23), who will be making his debut with the Padres. Kennedy was obtained in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks before Wednesday’s trade deadline. Kennedy allowed three runs on six hits in six innings in a loss to the Rays on July 30. He has not faced the Yankees.

Game-time will be 4:10 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.

 

‘Pronk’ Bonks O’s In Ninth, Wells Wins It In 10th

GAME 44

YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 4 (10 Innings)

Some teams are built with a lot of money. Some teams are built with a collection of players with special skills. But successful teams are built with lots of players who have heart.

The 2013 New York Yankees are a team with an awful lot of heart and that was on display Monday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Down 4-3 with one out in the ninth inning and Orioles closer Jim Johnson on mound, Travis Hafner blasted an opposite-field home run into the bleachers in left-center to tie it and Vernon Wells laced a game-winning RBI double in the 10th inning as New York came from behind to down Baltimore in front of a paid crowd of 24,133.

Hafner and Wells embody the heart of what has been called “The Replacements” and they provided the Yankees with the clutch hitting just when they needed it.

The Orioles took a 3-2 lead away from left-hander CC Sabathia and the Yankees in the bottom of the seventh inning when Nick Markakis slapped an RBI double to left-center to score Alexi Casilla and J.J. Hardy followed one out later with an RBI double down the right-field line.

The Orioles made their 2012 wild-card run largely on the strength of their incredible 24-6 record in one-run games. But 2013 is looking like a much different season for them.

Johnson, who had entered the game having blown his last two save opportunities, fell behind Hafner 3-1 when the 35-year-old designated hitter sent a belt-high outside fastball into the 80-degree evening air and by the time it landed Johnson was hanging his head in disbelief.

David Robertson (3-0) came in to pitch a scoreless ninth inning that sent the game into extra innings, where the Orioles posted an incredible 16-2 record in 2012.

What a difference a year makes!

Ichiro Suzuki opened the top of the 10th with a line-drive double into the right-field corner off right-hander Pedro Strop (0-2)

Wells, who entered the game as pinch-hitter in the eighth inning then picked on a 1-2 hanging slider from Strop and slashed it to the base of the wall in left and the ball bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double that scored Suzuki.

After Austin Romine bunted Wells to third, Brett Gardner was retired on hard grounder and Strop walked Robinson Cano intentionally.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter replaced Strop with left-hander Brian Matusz to face Hafner. But Hafner spoiled the strategy by slashing a 0-1 slider into right for a single to score Wells with an insurance run.

Mariano Rivera, who entered the evening a perfect 16-for-16 in saves this season, pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th, punctuating his 17th save by striking out Chris Dickerson swinging to push the Orioles’ current losing streak to six games.

Believe me when I say that this one really hurt the Orioles.

Sabathia, who was 19-4 with a 2.90 ERA in his career against the Orioles including two victories in the 2012 playoffs, was unable to keep any of leads the Yankees kept providing him with throughout the evening.

Cano opened the scoring with a solo home run  -  his American League-leading 13th of the season  -  off former Yankee right-hander Freddy Garcia with one out in the first frame. David Adams followed with a one-out homer of his own, his first in the major leagues, in the second inning.

But Chris Davis reclaimed a share of the A.L. lead in homers with his 13th home run off Sabathia with one out in the bottom of the second.

Two innings later, Markakis tied it up at 2-2 with a one-out RBI single to score Steve Pearce, who led off the inning with a double.

But Lyle Overbay promptly untied it for the Yankees in the seventh with a leadoff home run in the bleacher sin right center off left-hander Troy Patton.

Sabathia then ran out of gas in the seventh and surrendered the lead to the Orioles.

Sabathia gave up four runs on 11 hits and he struck out two in 6 1/3 innings. Garcia, meanwhile, yielded two runs on three hits and two walks while he fanned two in six innings for the O’s.

The Yankees extended their winning streak to three games and, combined with the loss by the Boston Red Sox to the Chicago White Sox, they extended their lead in the American League East to 1 1/2 games. The Orioles fell to 23-21 and they are now a whopping five games behind the Yankees in third place in the division.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Hafner’s dramatic home run and RBI single in the 10th must have Yankee fans saying “Raul who?” because Hafner is making them forget how important Raul Ibanez was to the Yankees during the stretch drive and in the playoffs last season. Hafner is hitting .267 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs.
  • Wells, another reclamation project courtesy of general manager Brian Cashman, knew his playing time would be reduced when Curtis Granderson returned but he is proving to be very valuable off the bench. With his game-winning double in the 10th, Wells is hitting .267 with 10 home runs and 24 RBIs, which is third on the club behind Cano and fellow “Replacement” Overbay.
  • Adams’ rookie legend may be growing by leaps and bounds in just five major-league games. Adams was 2-for-4 including his homer. Adams also made some sterling plays in the field, which is surprising because he is not considered to be a good fielder. Adams is 6-for-18 (.333) with a home run and two RBIs and is looking like he might be staying long after Kevin Youkilis comes off the 15-day disabled list.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Sabathia was just not very sharp at all in this game. In his past two starts, Sabathia has given up 21 hits and two walks in 12 1/3 innings for Walks and Hits to Innings Pitched (WHIP) of 1.82. The Orioles used an opposite-field approach against the left-hander and they burned him repeatedly with it. Sabathia is also paying for a dip in velocity in his fastball.
  • Granderson is struggling at the plate and it may be a byproduct of rushing through his rehab in just five games. Granderson was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and he did not get a ball out of the infield. He is 4-for-19 (.211) without a home run and an RBI in five starts.

BOMBER BANTER

First baseman Mark Teixeira reported on Monday that he took his first at-bats in a simulated game in Tampa, FL, and he was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. It was the first at-bats for Teixeira since he tore the sheath in his right wrist in March. Teixiera is hoping to play in his first game of the season by June 1 but that timetable may be a bit too optimistic.  . . .  Both Youkilis (back) and Alex Rodriguez (hip) took ground balls and batting practice at the team’s spring complex on Monday as both rehab their injuries. Manager Joe Girardi said that Youkilis likely will not be activated before the Yankees return home in a week. Though Rodriguez was able to take ground balls at third base on Monday, his timetable has not changed. He is expected back some time after the All-Star break.  . . .  The Yankees entered the day with a all-time major-league best 18-0 record in one-run games this season and they were within two outs of losing their first one-run game. But Hafner’s homer and Wells’ RBI double allowed them to extend the mark to 19 games.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their three-game road series with the Orioles on Tuesday.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.88 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Hughes will have to better on Tuesday because he is coming off what he called his worst major-league start on Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners. Hughes lasted only two-thirds of an inning and gave up seven runs on six hits and two walks. He is 6-5 with 5.47 ERA lifetime against the Orioles.

Baltimore is countering with right-hander Miguel Gonzalez (2-2, 4.58 ERA). Gonzalez is being activated from the 15-day disabled list after he sustained a troublesome blister on his right thumb. He is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in his career against 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.

 

Overbay’s 5 RBIs Make Royals Look Like Paupers

GAME 34

YANKEES 11, ROYALS 6

Mark Who?

It is getting to the point that Yankee fans may forget their injured first baseman Mark Teixeira because his replacement Lyle Overbay is doing so well in his absence.

Overbay was 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs on Friday to lead 16-hit attack as New York outslugged Kansas City in front of a paid crowd of 24,521 at Kauffman Stadium.

Though starter Phil Hughes (2-2) was staked to 4-0 and 5-3 leads, he was unable to hold onto it in the fifth inning when Alex Gordon followed back-to-back bloop one-out singles by Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain with a two-run double just over the outstretched glove of left-fielder Vernon Wells on the warning track to tie the game at 5-5.

However, the Yankees had already scored five runs off former Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Wade Davis (2-3) on a pair of two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Overbay in the second inning and an RBI double off the bat of Overbay in the fourth.

So the Yankees opened the sixth with a double off the right-field wall by Suzuki and a soft lined single to center by Jayson Nix that advanced Suzuki to third and chased Davis from the game.

Royals manager Ned Yost replaced Davis with left-hander Bruce Chen and Overbay greeted him with a double off the top of the wall in center-field that scored Suzuki that broke the 5-5 tie and gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night.

Chris Nelson followed with a two-run single to right, his first RBIs as a member of the Yankees.

The Yankees went on to bat around against Chen and add two more runs in the inning to extend the lead to 10-5 and dash any hopes the Royals might have had about another rally.

Hughes was the winner despite giving up a three-run home run to Jarrod Dyson in the second inning  -  which broke Hughes’ 22-inning homerless streak entering the contest  -  and a solo shot to Mike Moustakas in the sixth.

Hughes gave up six runs on seven hits, two walks and one hit batter while he struck three in 5 2/3 innings.

But the Yankees pounded Davis for seven runs on seven hits and two walks while he fanned three in five-plus innings of work.

The No. 5, 6 and 7 hitters  for the Yankees  -  Suzuki, Nix and Overbay  -  combined to go 9-for-13 (.692) with two home runs, four doubles, eight runs scored and seven RBIs.

With the Yankees’ bullpen short because Preston Claiborne, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera were unavailable to pitch, the team got a strong effort out of right-hander Shawn Kelley.

Kelley pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings and struck out six of the seven batters he faced. Boone Logan pitched a perfect ninth to close out the game.

The Yankees’ victory was their third in a row and gave Joe Girardi his 500th triumph as manager of the Yankees.

The Yankees also improved to 21-13, which keeps them percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in first place in the American League East. The Royals dropped to 18-14.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Considering that when he signed a huge contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and was later sarcastically nicknamed “Lyle Overpaid” when he did not deliver big numbers there and he was released this season in the last week of spring training by the Red Sox, Overbay should have the moniker “Lyle Underpaid” with the Yankees. All Overbay has done in 32 games (29 starts) is hit .264 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Oh, he has committed only one error at first base while flashing Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position. Geesh! What a pickup for general manager Brian Cashman.
  • Suzuki entered the contest hitting .372 at Kauffman Stadium, which is the highest average for any opposing hitter in history. Well, he raised that average by going 3-for-5 with his second home run of the season, a double, a single, a stolen base, three runs scored and two RBIs. In his past nine games, Suzuki is 12-for-33 (.364) which has raised his season average from .247 to .282.
  • Kelley was absolutely sensational when he came out the bullpen in the sixth inning. Of his six strikeouts, four were swinging and he struck out the first five batters he faced. After being hammered for 10 earned runs on 13 hits and four walks in 10 1/3 innings of work over nine appearances through May 4, Kelley has not been scored upon his last three outings covering 4 1/3 innings. In that span he has fanned nine batters, mostly on his devastating slider.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • Hughes pitched aggressively against the Royals, throwing first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. However, the Royals were able to catch up with his fastball and hit him hard. After pitching brilliantly in his last four starts in which his ERA was 1.93 and he won only one of those starts, Hughes was hammered for six runs and yet he won because the Yankees backed him with a lot of run support. Go figure!
  • The Royals’ pitchers must have really wanted to bear down on Wells and designated hitter Travis Hafner. The two combined to go 0-for-9 on a night the team scored 11 runs and knocked out 16 hits. Fortunately for the Yankees, the rest of the lineup was 16-for-34 (.471), which more than made up for Wells and Hafner.

BOMBER BANTER

The Yankees held shortstop Eduardo Nunez out of a fourth straight game but he was available to the team in an emergency. Nunez, who has been slowed by tightness in his left ribcage, could be available to start on Saturday if he suffers no setbacks throwing and taking batting practice on Saturday.  . . .  Curtis Granderson homered on Friday in his second rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Granderson, who was 1-for-5 in the game, hit his home run in the eighth inning. Granderson started the game in left-field and batted second. The 32-year-old outfielder has been on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left forearm and he could be activated within the next 10 days.  . . .  Because Kauffman Stadium was the scene where Rivera suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on May 5 last season, some of the Yankees decided to have a little fun with the 43-year-old future Hall-of-Famer. Some teammates drew a chalk outline of Rivera on the warning track and placed a sign on the outfield wall lined with stop signs and yellow tape that read “No Mo Zone.” When Rivera strolled out to look at it he laughed and he intends to keep the sign.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their weekend series with the Royals on Saturday.

The Yankees will start veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-2, 4.06 ERA), who yielded four runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in five innings on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. But he loves Kansas City because he is 9-2 with a 3.72 ERA in the past 10 seasons against the Royals.

The Royals will counter with the second former Rays right-hander in a row in James Shields (2-2, 2.52 ERA). Shields threw eight shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox on Monday but he lost a victory when the bullpen allowed the Chisox to rally for a 2-1 victory in 11 innings. Shields in 7-14 with a 4.56 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.

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

 

Cano Collects 1,500th Hit, Homers To Spur Yankees

GAME 33

YANKEES 3, ROCKIES 1

With the Yankees limited in the amount of offense they can produce their pitching becomes even more important. On a day when their ace CC Sabathia could only go four innings because of a one hour and 59 minute rain delay, five relievers stepped up to shut down the Rockies in the final five innings.

Robinson Cano sparked the offense by collecting his 1,500th career hit before the rain delay and he extended the Yankees’ lead to 3-1 with a solo home run after the rain delay as New York took the three-game road series against Colorado in front of a rain-drenched paid crowd of 40,972 at Coors Field on Thursday.

Adam Warren (1-0), who came on in the fifth inning in relief of Sabathia, pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to get credit for his first major-league victory.

Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis (1-3), who gave up two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out three in four innings, took the loss.

Mariano Rivera came on to pitch a scoreless ninth inning to post his 13th save in 13 chances this season. It is the longest consecutive save streak for Rivera since he saved his first 28 opportunities in 2008.

The Yankees took advantage of a one-out walk to Jayson Nix by Francis in the first inning to take an early lead.

Nix advanced to second on a slow bounce-out by Cano and he scored an RBI single by Vernon Wells, who was 5-for-12 (.417) with a homer and three RBIs in the series.

The Rockies tied it in the bottom of the inning when Troy Tulowitzki laced a one-out single to advance Dexter Fowler to third and Carlos Gonzalez launched a sacrifice fly to left that scored Fowler just ahead of the tag of catcher Chris Stewart on a perfect throw from left-field by Wells.

The Yankees reclaimed the lead in the fourth when former Rockie Chris Nelson led off with a double to left and Lyle Overbay advanced him to third on an infield groundout. Stewart then sent a deep fly ball to right-center that scored Nelson without a throw.

Then, as they have this entire series in Denver, the elements became downright nasty after Sabathia dispatched the Rockies in order in the bottom of the fourth. In fact, Sabathia retired the final 11 batters he faced before the long rain delay ended his outing early.

Sabathia gave up just the one run on one hit and a walk and he struck out two batters.

Right-hander Adam Ottavino replaced Francis in the top of the fifth after the rain delay and with two out Cano launched a 2-0 hanging breaking ball over the wall in right field for his ninth home run of the season and his 20th RBI, which both lead the team.

The Yankees bullpen took over from there.

Warren pitched a perfect fifth inning but walked Fowler and Tulowitzki in succession with two out in the sixth. But Boone Logan ended the threat by striking out Gonzalez swinging.

Rookie right-hander Preston Claiborne then ran into difficulty in the seventh with two out when Jordan Pacheco and Josh Rutledge hit back-to-back singles. However, David Robertson came in to strike out pinch-hitter Todd Helton swinging.

Robertson walked Young to begin the eighth and Young later stole second. But Robertson got out the inning by striking out Fowler, retiring Tulowitzki on an infield grounder and striking out Gonzalez swinging.

Rivera then closed out the ninth. The bullpen collectively gave up no runs on three hits and three walks while fanning three in five innings of work.

With the victory the Yankees improved to 20-13 to climb into a three-way tie with the Boston Red Sox and the Baltimore Orioles for a share of first place in the American League East. The Rockies dropped to 19-15.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Cano entered the series 0-for-8 and was retired in his first at-bat before his milestone single off Francis in the third inning. Cano then got to Ottavino with his ninth home run of the season. Though the Yankees have been ravaged by injuries that have limited the offense, Cano has been providing solid production early in the season.
  • Wells also was 2-for-4 and he also drove in a run. He had three RBIs in the series and he has 16 overall. Manager Joe Girardi is going to be hard-pressed to find at-bats for Wells when Curtis Granderson returns this month, which is a shame because Wells looks like he has recaptured his old All-Star form at the plate.
  • Everyone knows what a weapon Rivera has been his entire career. But he is making in huge statement in what will be his final season. Rivera is perfect in saves and he has given up only three runs on 12 hits and two walks with 12 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. His ERA is 1.88.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

You can’t complain about this one. After getting shut out on only four hits in the opener, the Yankees silenced a powerful Colorado offense in a hitters’ park by allowing just three runs on eight hits in the final two games. They just shut them down and won with timely hitting. They also took a share of first place. Bravo!

BOMBER BANTER

Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez was held out of a third straight game due to nagging tightness in his left ribcage. Heavy rain before the game prevented Nunez from being able to get on the field to work out and take some swings to test the injury. Girardi said he hopes Nunez might be available to play on Friday but he remains day-to-day.  . . .  Girardi did tell reporters that he believes reliever Joba Chamberlain will be activated on Tuesday when he is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list. Chamberlain was sidelined with a mild right oblique strain.

ON DECK

The Yankees will continue their eight-game road trip in Kansas City with a weekend three-game series against the Royals.

Right-hander Phil Hughes (1-2, 3.60 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Hughes is coming off his best outing of the season on Saturday when he blanked the Oakland Athletics over eight innings on four hits while punched out nine batters. Hughes is 4-1 with a 5.51 ERA in his career against the Royals.

The Royals will counter with former Rays right-hander Wade Davis (2-2, 4.75 ERA). Davis held the Chicago White Sox to one run over six innings on Sunday but he did not get a decision. He is 2-3 with a 3.96 ERA against the Yankees.

Game-time will be 8:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.

 

Yanks Have Jays Feeling Blue On Misplay In 11th

GAME 16

YANKEES 5, BLUE JAYS 3 (11 INNINGS)

Some days you win when you play great and some days you win by sheer luck. On Saturday the Yankees won on a misplay by the Blue Jays.

After blowing a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Yankees pushed across two runs in the top of the 11th inning on a throwing error by left-hander Aaron Loup on a bunt play as New York edged Toronto in front of a sellout crowd of 46,095 at Rogers Centre in Toronto.

Tied at 3-3, Vernon Wells opened the eleventh inning with a single to center and Francisco Cervelli followed with a single to left.

Ichiro Suzuki then laid down a sacrifice bunt to Loup (1-1) but Loup threw wide of third baseman Brett Lawrie attempting to throw out Wells and the ball rolled down the left-field line. That allowed both Wells and Cervelli to score.

Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his fifth save in as many chances this season. Shawn Kelley (1-0) retired the only two batters he faced in the bottom of the 10th inning to get credit for the victory.

But the bullpen really let down Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who entered the game having pitched scoreless baseball through his last 14 innings and he proceeded to throw seven more innings of shutout baseball against the Blue Jays.

He had held Toronto to only two hits and a walk while he struck out six strikeouts and he was leading 3-0 as he opened the bottom of the eighth.

After striking out Lawrie, Colby Rasmus slipped a ground single into right-field and manager Joe Girardi elected to bring in right-hander David Robertson.

The usually reliable Robertson was anything but on Saturday.

After striking out Maicer Izturis, Robertson unraveled and walked pinch-hitter Adam Lind and Rajai Davis followed with a an RBI single that scored Rasmus to end Kuroda’s scoreless inning streak at 21 1/3 innings.

Then Melky Cabrera laced a two-run single to center that scored pinch-runner Emilio Bonifacio and Davis and tied the game at 3-3.

The Yankees scored all their runs off Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle.

Wells opened the scoring by slapping a line-drive solo home run to left that struck the foul screen with one out in the second inning. It was Wells’ second home run in two games against his former team.

The Yankees tacked on a pair of runs in the fifth inning after Jayson Nix singled and Brett Gardner doubled. Robinson Cano drew an intentional walk to load the bases and Kevin Youkilis rocketed a liner just under the glove of Lawrie at third that scored Gardner and Cano.

The Yankees have now won nine of their last 11 games and five of their last six. Their season record is now 10-6. The struggling Blue Jays fell to a convenience store mark of 7-11.

PINSTRIPE POSITIVES

  • Wells obviously is up for this series against his old team. He was 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and an RBI on Saturday. In the first two games of the series, he is 5-for-10 with two home runs, three runs scored and three RBIs. Wells raised his season average to .310 and he is tied with Cano and Travis Hafner for the team lead in home runs with five.
  • Kuroda really deserved a better fate in this game. He was absolutely brilliant for the second consecutive start. In those two starts he has given up one run on eight hits and one walk while he struck out 12 in 16 1/3 innings. He should, by all rights, be 3-1.
  • Youkilis had been in a bit of slump but he at least did come through with a big two-run single in the fifth inning to extend the Yankees’ lead to 3-1. Youkilis is tied with Gardner for third on the team in RBIs with nine.

NAGGING NEGATIVES

  • It is hard to get really down on Robertson because he usually is very reliable in the eighth inning. He just had a bad day at the office on Saturday. His big mistake was walking Lind with one on and two out. That opened the floodgates for Davis’ RBI single and Cabrera’s game-tying two-run single. Robertson entered the game with a scoreless inning streak of 11 2/3 innings dating back to last season.
  • Eduardo Nunez continues to struggle at the plate. He was 0-for-4 and now is hitting .184 on the season.
  • Nunez and Cervelli also get the “Let the Pitcher Off the Hook” Award for Saturday. Nunez popped up to the infield with the bases loaded in fourth and Cervelli hit into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the fifth. They let Buehrle off the hook in two straight frames and it cost the team dearly later.

BOMBER BANTER

Youkilis left the game in the sixth inning with tightness in his lower back he will not play in Sunday’s finale. Lyle Overbay entered the game in the sixth at first base for Youkilis and was 1-for-2. Nix will start for Youkilis at third base on Sunday.

ON DECK

The Yankees will have a chance to sweep their three-game series with Toronto on Sunday.

Right-hander Ivan Nova (1-1, 5.59 ERA) will make the start for the Yankees. Nova held the Arizona Diamondbacks to two runs in five innings in a victory on Tuesday. Nova, 26, is 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA lifetime against the Blue Jays.

Nova will be opposed by right-hander Josh Johnson (0-1, 6.91 ERA). Johnson allowed two runs on four hits and a walk and fanned eight in seven innings in no decision against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. He is 1-0 with a 1.29 in his only start against the Yankees when he was with the Marlins.

Game-time will be 1:07 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.

 

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