Yankees run out of dramatic comebacks

The Yankees went nearly half the 2015 season before they won a game in their last at-bat, which had not occurred since Derek Jeter’s walk-off hit in his final game at Yankee Stadium last September. Then to start off the Fourth of July Weekend, the Yankees pulled off back-to-back walk-off victories over the American League East rival Rays.

Friday, it was the powerful swing of Brian McCann, whose three-run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning sent the Yankees to a 7-5 triumph. Saturday, it was the churning legs of pinch runner Jose Pirela, who raced from second base to home to score on an errant throw to first base by pitcher Brad Boxberger to complete a 3-2 victory.

It appeared as if the Yankees would wrap that game as a shutout up without batting in the ninth, but Dellin Betances was tagged for a two-run home run by Steven Souza in the top of the inning that tied the score. It was only the second blown save this season by Betances, who has done a solid job in the closer role while Andrew Miller has been on the 15-day disabled list. It was the first home run Betances allowed since Aug. 13 last year at Baltimore by Jonathan Schoop, a 54-game stretch covering 59 2/3 innings.

There would be no such comeback Sunday, however, as the Rays ran with an early lead, built on it and ended a seven-game losing streak by coasting, 8-1. The Yankees managed only three hits – all for extra bases, including Alex Rodriguez’s 16th home run, which accounted for their scoring.

This game got out of hand in the eighth inning when the Rays staged a four-run rally that began when Pirela, Saturday’s hero, made two errors on the same play. He had just entered the game at second base after having pinch-hit for Stephen Drew the previous inning. A bases-loaded walk by Chris Capuano added to the unsightly frame.

One positive showing from the bullpen was another impressive outing by Nick Rumbelow, who retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the ninth.

Yankees starter Ivan Nova hurt himself with a throwing error that cost him one of the four runs he allowed in five shaky innings. After two impressive outings since coming back from Tommy John surgery, Nova had his first ineffective performance, although the Yankees were still within reach until the eighth.

In Nova’s past two starts, Yankees batters have had just three hits while he was on the mound – one Sunday and two last Tuesday night at Anaheim. Nova is 0-5 with a 4.71 ERA in his past six starts against Tampa Bay dating to June 23, 2013 after having gone 6-1 in his first nine career games (eight starts) against the Rays.

Tampa Bay starter Erasmo Ramirez (7-3) held the Yanks in check for six innings. He did walk three batters, hit one and committed an error, but the A-Rod homer (career No. 670) was the only damage the righthander suffered. Since joining the starting rotation May 14, Ramirez is 7-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 10 starts and 54 innings.

The Yankees scored only one run for the fourth time in their past seven games and one or less for the fifth time in their past 10 games since June 25. From May 19 through June 24, they were held to one or fewer runs just twice in 33 games (none May 31 at Oakland and one June 15 at Miami). Rodriguez is finding the Stadium quite comfortable. In his past nine home games since June 19, A-Rod is batting .406 with seven runs, one double, four home runs and 12 RBI in 32 at-bats.

Equally as comfortable at the Stadium, unfortunately for the Yankees, is James Loney. The Rays first baseman, who had a two-run single off Nova in the first inning, is a career .402 hitter in 112 at-bats at Yankee Stadium. He ranks third among visiting players with a minimum of 50 at-bats at the Stadium behind only Justin Morneau (.433 in 60 at-bats) and Kurt Suzuki (.411 in 56 at-bats). In 55 career games against the Yankees in all venues, Loney is batting .340 with an .857 on-base plus slugging in 212 at-bats. That is Yankee Killer stuff.

The Yanks may have failed to pull off a sweep but they maintained a hold on first place in the AL East by 1 ½ games over the Orioles and two over the Rays and Blue Jays.

Tex & Mac get the fireworks started early

How many times can a team lose a game and still win? Well, for the Yankees Friday night, twice. They looked beaten in the eighth inning until Mark Teixeira tied the score with a three-run home run for their first scores of the night. They also appeared headed for defeat when the Rays scored two runs in the top of the 12th inning, but the Yankees were not ready to call it a night.

They chipped away for a run on a leadoff walk to Brett Gardner and one-out singles by Alex Rodriguez and Teixeira before another three-run homer, this time by Brian McCann, got the Fourth of July Weekend of fireworks off to an early start.

For seven innings, the Yankees seemed to have brought the lethargic offense they experienced on the recent trip to Houston and Anaheim home with them as longtime nemesis Chris Archer put them through the paces. The righthander, who has never lost to the Yankees, kept that record intact with 6 2/3 brilliant innings in which he allowed three hits and three walks with a hit batter, a wild pitch and eight strikeouts.

Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier saved a run with a leaping catch in front of the wall to rob Stephen Drew of an RBI, extra-base hit in the third inning. That was as close to scoring as the Yankees got until the eighth when Chase Headley and Rodriguez singled with one out off Kevin Jepsen and Teixeira smoked a 1-0 fastball from the righthander for his 20th home run.

For the Yankees, Nick Rumbelow came up big out of the bullpen in the top of the eighth after Chris Capuano had given up singles to the first two batters of the inning. Rumbelow retired Joey Butler on an infield fly and then got Evan Longoria on a fly to right and James Loney on a ground ball to third base.

Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson also pitched well in relief before the Rays got to Adam Warren and Chasen Shreve for two runs in the top of the 12th. Things looked dismal at that point, but the Yankees proved to have another comeback in them.

The Rays had scored twice in the first inning off Masahiro Tanaka, who allowed a third run in the fifth. Overall, it was an encouraging night for the Japanese righthander, who was off two bad starts but rebounded with six innings of three-run, six-hit, one-walk, five-strikeout work in six innings. But this was a game that had more to do with the end than the start.

Yankees, A-Rod settle dispute & get 3,000th-hit ball

The Yankees and Alex Rodriguez had a good day Friday on the eve of the Fourth of July. They amicably resolved their potential dispute regarding the designated hitter’s entitlement to bonus monies under the provision of his player contract covering historical statistical accomplishments.

As part of the resolution jointly announced Friday by Major League Baseball and the Major League Players Association, Rodriguez and the Yankees have agreed that $3.5 million in charity contributions will be made by the club, with $1 million going to the following charities that have long enjoyed the support of one or both: the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa, Fla., and Pitch In For Baseball; and $2.5 million going to the MLB Urban Youth Foundation, which will use the money to further programs and initiatives aimed at increasing youth participation in baseball, particularly in cities.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will determine the initiatives to be supported by the $2.5 million contribution after consulting with Rodriguez and taking into consideration the focus of his past charitable contributions.

In addition, Zack Hample, the fan who retrieved Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th hit June 19, presented the ball to A-Rod at a press conference before Friday night’s game. The Yankees also donated $150,000 to Pitch In For Baseball, a charity which Hample has supported since 2009 that is dedicated to maximizing the ability to play baseball in under-served communities.

Founded in 2005, Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) collects and redistributes new and gently-used baseball and softball equipment to communities in need across the globe. To date, PIFB has distributed equipment and uniforms to more than 80 countries worldwide and more than 450 communities around the United States, which has impacted more than 500,000 children in need. Based in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, PIFB is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. To learn more about Pitch In For Baseball, visit http://www.pifb.org.

With a solo home run in the first inning of the Yankees-Tigers game at Yankee Stadium Friday, June 19, Rodriguez became the 29th player all-time to reach the 3,000 hits plateau. He was the second player to record his 3,000th career hit with the Yankees, joining Derek Jeter, who did it July 9, 2011 against the Rays. They are the only individuals to have reached the plateau at the Stadium – original or current.

Yankees at home for 4th of July Weekend

The Yankees return home Friday night for the first of six games at Yankee Stadium against the Rays (Friday-Sunday, July 3-5) and the Athletics (Tuesday-Thursday, July 7-9). Fourth of July Weekend is always special at the Stadium, conjuring up memories of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech in 1939 and Dave Righetti’s no-hitter against the Red Sox in 1983.

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth July 4, 1939

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth July 4, 1939

Prior to Friday night’s 7:05 game against Tampa Bay, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will add a pregame set at the Stadium to its previously announced Atlantic Coast Tour summer schedule. The 360-person Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform a brief medley of patriotic songs from the field before singing the national anthem. The Choir, which was founded more than a century ago, has performed at World’s Fairs, inaugurations of United States presidents and in concert halls around the world. It is dedicated to the universal language of music that has the power to bring joy, peace, and healing to its listeners. Made up strictly of volunteers, the Choir typically tours just once every two years.

Cap Night, a Stadium tradition of more than 45 years, will also take place Friday night. The first 18,000 in attendance, 21 and older, will receive a Yankees cap, courtesy of Budweiser.

Dellin Betances Figurine Night will be Wednesday night, July 8. The first 18,000 in attendance for the 7:05 game against the Athletics will receive a Betances figurine, courtesy of P.C. Richard & Son.

Ticket specials will run on Saturday, July 4 (Youth Game), Sunday, July 5 (Youth Game), Tuesday, July 7 (Military Personnel Game), Wednesday, July 8 (Military Personnel and Student Game) and Thursday, July 9 (MasterCard Half-Price, Military Personnel, Senior Citizen, and Youth Game).

For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

Dave Righetti July 4, 1983

Dave Righetti July 4, 1983

The homestand will also feature the following promotional item and date:

Saturday, July 4 – Yankees vs. Rays, 1:05 p.m.
Yankees Fathead Day, presented by sweetFrog, to the first 18,000 in attendance, 14 and younger.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at (877) 469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at (800) 943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call (212) YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

‘Behind the Seams’ explores draft from Yankees’ view

The link below is for another episode from Yankees Productions’ Telly Award-winning series Behind the Seams. With cooperation from general manager Brian Cashman, assistant general manager Billy Eppler, domestic amateur scouting chief Damon Oppenheimer and the Yankees’ entire baseball operations department, Yankees Productions was granted access to the Draft Day “War Room” and captured the inner workings of the 2015 Major League Baseball First Year Player Draft from the team’s perspective.

Behind the Seams: The Draft

http://m.yankees.mlb.com/nyy/video/topic/70621508/v200346783

Yanks salvage finale of 3-4 trip

Years ago when the Angels scheduled 4 p.m. games at home, they liked to start Nolan Ryan. As if trying to hit the strikeout king’s blazing fastball was not hard enough, try doing it when it is twilight time.

The situation bode well for the Yankees Wednesday with the 4 p.m. start at Anaheim because their starting pitcher was Nathan Eovaldi, who grew up in the same home town as Ryan (Alvin, Texas) and throws nearly as hard. In fact, Eovaldi dialed up one of his fastballs in the game all the way to 100 mph.

Yet it was the not the strikeout fest that might have been expected from Eovaldi, who got the winning decision in the Yankees’ 3-1 victory, not because he was overpowering but rather because he had an effective breaking ball and kept Angels hitters off-balance for most of his 5 1/3 innings. The Yankees won three games on the seven-game trip, and Eovaldi (8-2) was the winning pitcher in two of them.

The Yankees had scored only one run in each of their previous three games and had the same total for the first five innings Wednesday before Garrett Jones drove a 0-2 fastball from Matt Shoemaker to right field for his fifth home run. The Yanks filled the bases in the eighth but came away with only one run on a single by Didi Gregorius, but that would be insurance enough thanks to solid work by the bullpen.

After Eovaldi walked two batters to load the bases with one out in the sixth, Chasen Shreve doused the flames by getting Erick Aybar on an infield fly and David Freese on a grounder to Chase Headley, one of eight assists by the third baseman in the game. He also drove in the Yankees’ first run with one of his three hits, a two-out single in the third inning.

Shreve followed with a scoreless sixth before his left-handed partner, Justin Wilson, took over in the eighth. After two quick outs, Wilson was taken deep by Mike Trout, whose 21st homer accounted for Los Angeles’ only run.

Dellin Betances came on at that point for a four-out save (No. 7), although it got dicey in the ninth with two walks. The big guy finished it off with a strikeout of pinch hitter C.J. Cron. The Angels were hitless in 23 at-bats with runners in scoring position in the series, which makes it amazing that they won two of the three games.

The Yankees moved into second place in the American League East by a half-game over the Rays, who were nearly no-hit by the Indians Wednesday night. Tampa Bay travels to New York to face the Yankees in a three-game series over the 4th of July weekend

After hot homestand, bats turn cold on road

First place in the American League East was all theirs for the taking Tuesday night, but the Yankees failed to take advantage of losses by the Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays by suffering the same fate.

For five innings, it appeared as if Iva Nova would drive the Yanks back to the top of the division. In his second start since coming back from Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow, Nova took a shutout into the sixth inning. He wiggled out of danger in the first two innings as the Angels were hitless in five at-bats with five runners in scoring position and stranded five runners, three of them in scoring position.

Then in the sixth, the Angels struck quickly and deeply as Nova was tagged for back-to-back home runs by Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar for the first runs the righthander had allowed in 12 innings this year.

The blows offset the solo home run Mark Teixeira hit leading off the second inning against Angels starter Andrew Heaney, who allowed only one other hit through seven innings and earned his first major league victory. Other than Tex’s 19th home run, the Yankees had only five other base runners on a single by Brett Gardner, two walks, an error and a wild-pitch third strike. None of them got past first base with the Angels turning three double plays along the way.

It was a tough loss for Nova, who scattered eight hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. A nasty curve served him well in the game until he could not keep the ball in the yard. Adam Warren, back in the bullpen after having done a good job as a starter, did his part in keeping the Yankees close with 2 2/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit, one-walk, two-strikeout relief.

The bats have turned cold on this trip, which ends Wednesday. After a homestand in which they batted .351 with 19 home runs and averaged 7.5 runs per game, the Yankees through six games on the trip are hitting .192 with five home runs and are averaging 2.5 runs per game. Of the Yankees’ 15 runs on the trip, nine came in one game.

LED lighting coming to Stadium in 2016

The Yankees announced a pending partnership with GigaTera and PLANLED to install light emitting diode (LED) field lighting at Yankee Stadium prior to the 2016 major league season. The new energy efficient lighting system will be just the second of its kind to be used in a MLB stadium. The other is Safeco Field in Seattle.

“We are always looking for better ways to conserve natural resources at Yankee Stadium and are thrilled to be able to partner with GigaTera and PLANLED to install state-of-the-art LED field lighting at our venue,” Yankees vice president of stadium operations Doug Behar said. “These new lights will not only help us reduce our carbon footprint but also showcase all of the world-class events that take place at Yankee Stadium in the most pure and natural lighting that currently exists.”

The initiative continues the Yankees’ efforts in promoting a sustainable environment. Since opening the current Stadium in 2009, the organization has made a dedicated commitment to establishing impactful environmental practices – including renewable energy, composting, water conservation and sustainable purchasing – and to educate fans about the importance of environmental stewardship.

“We are pleased and honored to be selected as the lighting partner of the Yankees and to have the opportunity to provide the most advanced stadium lighting system to the most prestigious franchise in sports history,” KMW/Giga Tera chairman Duk Yong Kim said. “Our SUFA X system will achieve dramatic energy saving while enhancing the visual experience for the players, the fans at the ballpark and TV viewers at home.”

Added PLANLED CEO John Hwang: “Yankee Stadium will display the future of sports lighting, implementing the research applied design strategy that has been developed in partnership with distinguished researchers, thought leaders, lighting designers and research & development engineers.”

Earlier this month, the Yankees received the 2015 Environmental Leadership Award, presented by the Green Sports Alliance and which recognizes a sports team and venue that best exemplifies the practices of promoting a sustainable environment. Green Sports Alliance members represent nearly 300 sports teams and venues from 20 different sports leagues and 14 countries across the world.

For more information on Yankee Stadium’s green initiatives, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Yankees miss chance to take over 1st place in AL East

It was feast or famine for the Yankees during their four-game series at Houston’s Minute Maid Park against the American League West-leading Astros. The Yankees came back from being shut out Thursday night to post a late-inning, come-from-behind victory Friday night behind the native Texans duo of Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Young. The Yanks out-slugged Houston Saturday night in a home run derby of the major leagues’ power leaders only to manage a meager two hits Sunday in failing to fortify Michael Pineda’s route-going effort.

Sunday’s loss turned the series into a split and cost the Yankees a chance to take over first place in the AL East because Tampa Bay also lost. There is quite a logjam in this division. Only one game separates four teams with the Orioles tied for second with the Yankees and the Blue Jays a half-game behind both of them. Only the Red Sox, eight games out of first place, seem buried at this point.

The good news Sunday was Pineda, who recovered from a God-awful game last week at home against the lowly Phillies when he could not get through the fourth inning and was hammered for eight runs and 11 hits. The righthander bounced back with eight strong innings Sunday in which he gave up three runs – one of them decidedly tainted – and seven hits with no walks (always a good sign with him) and eight strikeouts.

Unfortunately, Astros starter Collin McHugh was slightly better. He hurt himself with a wild pitch in the third inning that led directly to a run on a single by Brett Gardner, whose adventures in the outfield the next inning allowed the Astros to tie the score. Gardner and left fielder Garrett Jones had miscommunication on a fly ball to left-center field by Carlos Correa that fell between them. Gardner inadvertently kicked the ball as well with Correa rounding the bases. The official scorer ruled a double for Correa and a two-base error for Garnder.

A couple of years ago, I took a friend of mine who is a Mets fan to a game at Citi Field on a day the Yankees were out of town and not scheduled. The Mets’ starting pitcher that day, making his major-league debut, was Collin McHugh. Seated behind us were about a dozen of his friends and relatives from Georgia, and what a treat they got. McHugh pitched a two-hit shutout over seven innings before coming out of the game. The Mets did not score for him, however, and eventually lost the game, 1-0, to the Rockies.

McHugh never pitched that well for the Mets again and he was traded to Colorado for infielder Eric Young Jr. The Rockies eventually placed him on waivers from where the Astros scooped him up. He was 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA last year for an Astros team that lost 92 games and with Sunday’s victory improved to 9-3 albeit with a 4.51 ERA this year. Some pitchers take a while to develop.

Gardner’s single and one by Alex Rodriguez in the sixth was all the offense the Yankees could muster against McHugh, who was in position to win when the Astros broke the tie on a triple by Evan Gattis in the seventh and got a tack-on run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Jason Castro.

Just the night before, the Yankees had been in a home run derby contest against Houston. A first-inning grand slam by Brian McCann and a second-inning, two-run shot by Chris Young created a 6-0 lead for Masahiro Tanaka, who like Pineda had been coming off a poor outing (five innings, 10 hits, seven runs-five earned) in a 12-4 loss to the Tigers at Yankee Stadium.

Unlike Pineda, Tanaka did not rebound. The six-run bulge was gone by the fifth inning as he was touched for home runs by Correa, Chris Carter and Jose Altuve. The Japanese righthander looked shell-shocked when he left the game after five. His teammates rebounded for him. Mark Teixeira thrust the Yankees back in front with a two-run double in the eighth. Chase Headley led off the ninth with a monster of a drive to left-center off lefthander Tony Sipp to complete the comeback behind nifty relief work by winning pitcher Chasen Shreve (5-1), Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances (sixth save).

A third straight comeback was not in the cards for the Yankees Sunday.

Young & Eovaldi do a Texas two-step for Yanks

A couple of Texas natives had big nights deep in the heart of their home state Friday night for the Yankees.

Houston native Chris Young ended the Yanks’ 15-inning scoreless streak at Minute Maid Park by clouting a three-run home run in the seventh off previously untouchable reliever Will Harris to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead that was upheld by three Yankees relievers.

The rally created a winning decision for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (7-2), who worked six strong innings under the watchful eye of fellow Alvin, Texas, native Nolan Ryan, who was seated in the front row behind the plate alongside his wife, Ruth. The Hall of Famer rejoined the Astros organization last year after leaving the Rangers.

Pitching in his home area for the first time, Eovaldi followed his sturdy outing Old-Timers’ Day with another solid performance in front of scores of friends and relatives in the crowd of 37,748. The righthander allowed two runs, five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings.

And yet he was in position to be on the losing side in the game because Astros starter Vincent Velasquez was even better over the first six innings. He held the Yankees to three hits with only one base runner getting beyond first.

One out into the seventh, however, the Yankees made their move. Singles by Carlos Beltran and Garrett Jones prompted Houston manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Harris, who entered the game with a 4-0 record and 0.78 ERA. With no left-handed bat on the bench, Yankees manager Joe Girardi stayed with Young, who rewarded the skipper by putting a charge into a 1-1 cut fastball for his ninth home run of the season.

Young’s numbers this season are lopsided. He leads American League hitters against left-handed pitching (.379, eight doubles, four home runs, 10 RBI in 66 at-bats), including two hits off Dallas Keuchel, who shut down the rest of the Yankees Thursday night. Against righthanders, however, Young was batting only .177 going into Friday night’s game. By going 3-for-4 against righties, Young improved his stats to .210 with two doubles, five home runs and 13 RBI in 100 at-bats.

Minute Maid Park has become a home away from home for Young. In 25 career games there, he is hitting .410 with seven doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 33 RBI in 105 at-bats with 14 multi-hit games. It marks his highest career average in any major league park.

Young, a graduate of Houston’s Bellaire High School, extended his hitting streak to nine games since June 18 during which he has batted .471 with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI in 34 at-bats. Over the span, Young has raised his season batting average from .220 to .271.

Once the Yankees moved in front, Girardi turned to his pen, which did a superb job. Chasen Shreve struck out the side in the seventh. After a two-out walk by Justin Wilson in the eighth, Dellin Betances was called on for a four-out save, which he handled perfectly with two strikeouts.

Brett Gardner continued his hot hitting with a double and a single and is up to .294. With Tampa Bay losing, the Yankees moved to a half-game of the first-place Rays in the American League East.

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