Astros’ Keuchel quiets hot Yankees bats

The Yankees found out for themselves Thursday night that the surprising Astros are for real. The Yankees had won seven of nine games at Houston’s Minute Maid Park before this game, which was all Astros behind the pitching of Dallas Keuchel.

The lefthander, who sports a mountaineer’s beard that has spawned hundreds of fake beards worn by Astros fans in his starts, tossed a six-hit shutout in spoiling the start of the Yanks’ seven-game trip to Houston and Anaheim.

The Yankees had 97 hits in their previous seven games, an average of nearly 14 hits per game, but they did not get a runner past first base against Keuchel until the ninth inning when they staged their only rally in the 4-0 loss. Alex Rodriguez singled to center with two out and became the Yankees’ first runner in scoring position when Mark Teixeira walked on four pitches. Keuchel fell behind 3-0 in the count to Carlos Beltran before giving up a hard single to left that loaded the bases.

After doing next to nothing against Keuchel for eight innings, the Yankees actually had the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth. Astros manager A.J. Hinch stayed with Keuchel rather than bring in a righthander what with four left-handed hitters on the Yankees’ bench in Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Garrett Jones and Didi Gregorius. Keuchel then put down the uprising by getting Jose Pirela on a force play.

Pirela played left field, the first time he has played in the outfield as a pro, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to go as right-handed as possible against Keuchel. Stephen Drew, back from paternity leave, played shortstop and was the only left-handed batter in the lineup.

Keuchel retired 15 batters in a row from the fourth until A-Rod’s hit in the ninth. The walk to Teixeira was the only free pass issued by Keuchel, who set a personal best with 12 strikeouts. Rodriguez and Chase Headley each struck out three times against Keuchel. Beltran and Chris Young managed two hits apiece off Keuchel.

He led the American League in complete games last year with five. This was the third complete game of this season for Keuchel, who was the AL Pitcher of the Month in both April (3-0, 0.73 ERA) and May (4-1, 2.62 ERA). He is 2-2 with a 3.15 ERA this month and 9-3 with a 2.17 ERA for the season.

The home run derby that was anticipated by the league’s two leading slugging teams (the Astros have 107 homers, the Yanks 98) did not materialize. Yankees starter Adam Warren held George Springer, Carlos Correa and Danny Valbuena in check for the most part, but last year’s batting champ, Jose Altuve, had a big night with two doubles, a single, two stolen bases and three runs. Evan Gattis drove in two runs with a single and a double. Preston Tucker also doubled in a run, and Colby Rasmus added a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees did not help themselves defensively. Errors by Warren, Drew and catcher John Ryan Murphy all played parts in Astros rallies. Houston maintained its five-game lead in the AL West while the Yankees fell 1 1/2 games behind the Rays in the AL East and only a half-game ahead of the Orioles and Blue Jays.

Hall to honor 11 Yanks legends among WWII vets

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will salute the ballplayers who served during World War II and honor the contributions of a modern baseball pioneer’s legacy with two special recognitions during the annual Awards Presentation at Hall of Fame Weekend Saturday, July 25, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

The Hall will recognize all the players who served in World War II, with United States Navy Secretary Ray Mabus speaking on behalf of all military branches as America marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. More than 500 major leaguers joined the military during World War II, including Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller, who enlisted in the Navy just days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941; and Hank Greenberg, who re-enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942 after being drafted and serving in the Army in 1941 before being honorably discharged Dec. 5, 1941.

Thirty-six Hall of Famers – more than 11 percent of all Hall of Fame members – served during World War II, including eight players with the Yankees: Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Johnny Mize, Phil Rizzuto, Red Ruffing and Enos Slaughter. Other Hall of Famers with Yankees connections who served during WWII were executives Larry MacPhail and Lee MacPhail and manager Bob Lemon.

The rest of the Hall of Fame roster of World War II veterans were Feller, Greenberg, Luke Appling, Al Barlick, Willard Brown, Nestor Chylak, Mickey Cochrane, Leon Day, Larry Doby, Bobby Doerr, Charlie Gehringer, Billy Herman, Monte Irvin, Ralph Kiner, Ted Lyons, Stan Musial, Pee Wee Reese, Robin Roberts, Jackie Robinson, Red Schoendienst, Duke Snider, Warren Spahn, Bill Veeck, Ted Williams and Early Wynn.

The Museum will also pay tribute to the legacy and contributions of former Reds, Cardinals and Senators outfielder Curt Flood, whose test of the reserve clause via the United States Supreme Court in 1970 laid the groundwork for the advent of free agency several years later. Major League Players Association executive director Tony Clark will speak on behalf of Flood’s challenge of the system and contributions to the Supreme Court case that led to free agency.

A three-time All-Star and seven-time Gold Glove Award winner in center field, Flood petitioned the Court to allow him to choose his employer instead of being subject to a trade. Flood sat out the 1970 season. That year the Court ruled against Flood in a 5-to-3 decision. His efforts inspired pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally to pick up the fight five years later when they challenged the reserve clause through the players’ right to binding arbitration in 1975. Flood passed away in 1997.

These two special recognitions will join the Museum’s annual presentation of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence and the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Dick Enberg, the television voice of the Padres, will receive the Frick Award. Tom Gage, who covered the Tigers for the Detroit News for 36 seasons, has been selected the Spink Award winner by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Now in its fifth year, the Awards Presentation takes place at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 25, at historic Doubleday Field, the day before the 2015 Induction Ceremony.

Admission for the Awards Presentation is free. The one-hour ceremony precedes the Hall of Fame Parade of Legends, featuring Hall of Fame members in a Main Street parade through Cooperstown.

The Class of 2015 at the Hall of Fame features Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martínez and John Smoltz, who were all elected to the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in January. More than 50 Hall of Famers are scheduled to be in Cooperstown to honor the Class of 2015 at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 26, at the Clark Sports Center, which is one mile south of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

For more information on Hall of Fame Weekend, please visit http://www.baseballhall.org/visit/hall-of-fame-weekend.

Nova good as new in return from TJ surgery

A homestand that began so promisingly and then seemed to fall apart ended on a very high note Wednesday for the Yankees as Ivan Nova made a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow 14 months ago.

The Phillies, owners of the worst record in baseball, threatened to complete a embarrassing sweep of the Yankees behind veteran Cole Hamels, who seems to be auditioning for a variety of clubs in need of a quality starter. Nova followed disappointing starts by CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka with 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against a team that had scored 22 runs over the previous two games.

Yankees pitchers were banged around for 34 runs and 44 hits in three straight losses. Nova’s outing was just what they needed, not that they could have expected it from him. Pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery do not often have so impressive a first outing as did Nova in a 10-2 victory over the Phillies.

The Yankees gave their teammate some working room by jumping out to a 5-0 lead off Hamels by the fourth inning, a continuation of their offensive combustibility throughout the homestand in which they scored 60 runs in eight games, an average of 7.5 runs per game. On the 5-3 homestand, the Yanks batted .351 with 19 home runs to offset a staff ERA of 5.50.

As for Nova, his ERA is 0.00. In his first start since April 19, 2014, the righthander allowed three hits and two walks. He had only one strikeout but kept the Phillies off base with routine outs. Center fielder Brett Gardner had nine putouts behind Nova.

Gardner also continued his ferocious hitting with an RBI single, a walk and two runs. On the homestand, he had 17-for-36 (.472) with three doubles, one triple, four home runs and 10 RBI. Gardy scored 12 runs and raised his batting average 30 points to .292.

Everybody on the Yankees hit Wednesday except for Carlos Beltran (0-for-5; there is always one player who doesn’t get to the dance floor). After missing two games because of a stiff neck, Mark Teixeira banged out three singles and knocked in two runs.

Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, Chris Young, Didi Gregorius and Jose Pirela had two hits apiece. Hamels was gone after five innings in which he allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks, and the Yankees piled it on against two Phillies relievers.

Finally, the Yankees were able to put a net over infielder Maikel Franco, who was 0-for-4 after having gone 6-for-8 (.750) with 10 RBI and five runs over the two prior games.

The Yankees are 12-4 in their past 16 home games since May 25 and have outscored opponents, 115-67, during that time. Nova’s stint was the longest stretch of scoreless innings by a Yankees pitcher in his season debut since Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez pitched eight innings of one-hit ball April 26, 2002 against Tampa Bay.

The victory coupled with the Rays’ loss to the Blue Jays inched the Yankees to one game of first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.

An appropriate “-30-” for 2 Yankees favorites

Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre both wore uniform No. 30 as players with the Yankees. In newspaper parlance, “-30-” means “end of story.” There is no more honorable end of the story for a former Yankees player than to have a plaque in Monument Park dedicated in his honor, which was bestowed on each of these fan favorites at Saturday’s 69th Old-Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium.

They took separate paths to this special day as representatives of two distinctively different eras in franchise history and then joined together on manager Joe Torre’s coaching staff in the 1990s and 2000s to help steer the Yanks through a renewed period of glory.

Randolph’s plaque had been publicized as a prelude to the annual event. The one for Stottlemyre, however, was kept a secret from the former pitcher and pitching coach who has been battling multiple myeloma for the past 15 years. The Yankees could not be sure whether Stottlemyre could make the trip to New York from his home in Issaquah, Wash. His wife, Jean, worked with the Yankees behind the scenes to make a reality the idea conceived by principal owner Hal Steinbrenner.

“This is beyond a doubt the biggest surprise I’ve ever had,” Mel said to the crowd. “Today in this Stadium, there is no one that’s happier to be on this field than myself. I have been battling a dreaded disease for quite some time. I’ve had so much help from my family and I can’t say enough about you people, how supportive you’ve been for me over the years.”

For a man who grew up in Brooklyn, Randolph came full cycle with this ceremonial day. He has touched so many parts of baseball life in New York City from the sandlots and high school in Brownsville to second base and the third base coaching box in the Bronx to the manager’s office in Queens and now to that hallowed area beyond the center field wall at the Stadium.

Accompanied by his parents and surrounded by many former teammates and pupils, Randolph gave a moving speech to the crowd assembled for the Yankees’ annual reunion.

“I began living my dream at [age] 21,” he said, “and I am still living it at 61.”

Randolph came to the Yankees from the Pirates as an added player in a trade and quickly established himself as the regular second baseman under manager Billy Martin, another former Yankees second baseman, in 1976 when the Yankees won their first pennant in 12 years. Willie went on to play on World Series championship teams in 1977 and ’78 and on another Series team in 1981 that lost to the Dodgers. As a Yankees coach, he won four more rings in 1996 and from 1998-2000 and for clubs that played in the 2001 and ’03 Series.

The New York City connection was not missed on Randolph, who has long taken pride in his place in the city’s baseball history. With Saturday’s ceremony, he added to that legend in becoming only the sixth native New Yorker to receive a Monument Park plaque along with Hall of Famers Lou Gehrig (Manhattan), Phil Rizzuto (Brooklyn), Whitey Ford (Queens) and Joe Torre (Brooklyn) and owner Jacob Ruppert (Manhattan). The plaques for Randolph and Stottlemyre bring the total to 35 in Monument Park.

While success seemed to follow Randolph during his playing career, it eluded Stottlemyre after his rookie season of 1964 when he went 9-3 as a midseason callup and started three game of that year’s World Series in the Yankees’ losing effort against St. Louis.

“This is such a shock to me because that era that I played in is an era for the most part the Yankees have tried over the years to forget a little bit,” Stottlemyre said. “We went from being in the World Series in 1964 to fifth in 1965 and dead last in ’66. With a successful organization like the Yankees, they want to forget those years, I think, as fast as they possibly can. It does me a lot of good for something like this to happen because it tells everybody that I really was here.”

Stottlemyre, 73, was the ace of Yankees staffs during those down years and was a five-time All-Star who was 164-139 with a 2.97 ERA over his 11-season career (1964-74) with three 20-victory seasons and 40 career shutouts. After coaching stints with the Mariners, Mets (including the 1986 World Series title year) and Astros, Stottlemyre joined the Yankees as their pitching coach and won Series rings with them in 1996 and from 1998-2000.

One of his pitching disciples, Andy Pettitte, escorted Stottlemyre to the infield as the last player announced among the returning Old Timers that included Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Goose Gossage, Ford and Torre as well as Bernie Williams, David Cone, Roy White, Paul O’Neill, Don Larsen, Lou Piniella, Gene Michael and Dr. Bobby Brown.

“I thought they forgot me,” Mel said. “There was no one left in the dugout. They sure know how to keep a secret around here.”

It is a secret no more. The Monument Park plaque is all either new member of the collection needs to know about his worth to a grateful organization. As a final tribute, the Yankees’ starting pitcher in the regularly-scheduled game against the Tigers was Nathan Eovaldi, the current wearer of uniform No. 30.

Gardner back to catalyst form on homestand

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the batting order for the Yankees the first month of the season. But since Ellsbury went on the 15-day disabled list May 20 because of a right knee strain, Gardner seemed lost without his partner.

Going into this homestand, Gardner was in a 94 at-bat stretch in which he hit .223 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBI while watching his season batting average slide from .291 to .262. He has turned it around the past three nights at Yankee Stadium, however, climaxed by a 4-for-5, three-RBI performance Friday night that has pushed his average back up to .277. And not surprisingly, the Yankees won all three games with Gardner back in catalyst mode.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was at a loss before the game to explain the club’s seesaw season during which they have had seemingly equal stretches of good and bad play. One thing the skipper did say that what the Yankees do when things are going good is “not giving extra outs and hitting home runs.”

They adhered to that axiom in the 7-2 victory over the Tigers. Three home runs, including Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit, against former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander powered the Yankees to their third straight victory and kept the Detroit righthander winless at Yankee Stadium in four career regular-season decisions. As for not giving extra outs, well, they came close to that but were able to rectify their lone error with a snappy play at the plate to defuse a potentially productive sixth inning for the Tigers.

The Yankees had just taken a 4-2 lead on a two-run home run by Gardner (No. 7) in the bottom of the fifth. The Yanks’ two prior homers were solo shots by Rodriguez (No. 13, career No. 667) in the first and Didi Gregorius (No. 3) in the second. In only his second start of the season after coming back from a right triceps injury, Verlander was not of Cy Young vintage.

Ian Kinsler started the sixth against Adam Warren (5-4), who had yet another strong night as a starter (8 IP, 7 H, 2R-ER, 0 BB, 7 K), with an infield single. Miguel Cabrera, who had struck out in his first two at-bats against Warren, lined a single to right field, sending Kinsler to third.

Yankees third baseman Chase Headley failed to handle right fielder Carlos Beltran’s relay for an error, but he atoned for that immediately when he retrieved the ball behind the bag and threw home to nail Kinsler at the plate on a fine tag by catcher John Ryan Murphy. Cabrera took second on the play but died there as Victor Martinez fouled out to Headley and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out.

The Yankees then pulled away with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth. Gardner was a significant part of both rallies. He got the seventh inning started by bunting for a single with one out and eventually scored on a wild pitch. In the eighth, Gardner’s two-out single to left scored Chris Young, who had doubled.

Young entered the game as a defensive replacement in center field for rookie Mason Williams, who jammed his right shoulder sliding back into first base on a pickoff attempt by Verlander in the fifth inning. Williams was examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, but no further tests were ordered.

A-Rod’s 3,000th hit also his 667th home run

In his previous quests for landmark hits such as his 500th and 600th home runs, Alex Rodriguez went days without achieving them as at-bat after at-bat piled up. Not so with his 3,000th hit, however.

A-Rod wasted no time in becoming the 29th member of the major leagues’ 3,000 Hit Club Friday night when he hit the first pitch he saw from Detroit’s Justin Verlander for an opposite-field home run with two out in the bottom of the first inning. Rodriguez’s first big-league hit was 21 years ago as a rookie with the Mariners.

His 3,000th hit was also his 667th career home run. The only players other than A-Rod with 3,000 hits and more than 600 home runs are Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Willie Mays.

Rodriguez joined former teammate Derek Jeter as the only players to reach the 3,000-hit plateau wearing Yankees uniforms. Four other 3,000 Hit Club members played for the Yankees during their careers: Paul Waner, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs.

A-Rod also became the third player whose 3,000th hit was a home run. The others were Boggs with Tampa Bay in 1999 and Jeter against the Rays at Yankee Stadium in 2011. Rodriguez acknowledged the fans’ applause with a curtain call.

That A-Rod’s 3,000th hit came against a pitcher the caliber of Verlander, a former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, was not a surprise. Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, entered the game with a .357 batting average and four home runs in 28 career at-bats against Verlander.

Yanks to go purple for Alzheimer’s Awareness

The Yankees will celebrate their third-annual Alzheimer’s Awareness Night with the first 18,000 fans 21 and older in attendance for Monday night’s game against the Phillies to receive a purple Yankees cap presented by the New Era Cap Company.

A pregame ceremony at the plate will feature National Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) chief executive officer Harry Johns and Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, who founded the Rita Hayworth Gala in honor of her mother, the late actress and dancer. The annual event, held in both New York and Chicago, is now in its 32nd year and has raised more than $65 million to support the fight against Alzheimer’s. Previous honorees include former Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt and actor/comedian Seth Rogen.

As part of the Yankees’ awareness effort, the team’s grounds crew will wear National Alzheimer’s Association T-shirts throughout the game, and a purple ribbon symbolizing the cause will be painted on the field in foul territory. Throughout June, a public service announcement featuring Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been airing on the Yankee Stadium centerfield video board prior to every home game.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee 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 Yankee Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

Big homers by Gardner & Beltran spark Yanks

Miami is the only one of 30 major league teams that CC Sabathia does not have a victory against, a situation that remained after his start Thursday night. While Sabathia failed to get that first winning decision over the Marlins, he avoided being tagged with a loss, thanks to his teammates.

The Yankees came back from a 3-1 deficit with two outs in the sixth inning against Miami starter Mat Latos when rookie Mason Williams lashed his second double of the game to right-center and Brett Gardner followed by driving a 2-0 pitch to right for his sixth home run to knot the score.

The Yankees had tried to give Sabathia a big cushion with a first-inning rally that fizzled after Gardner, Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez all singled to produce a run. A one-out walk to Brian McCann loaded the bases, but Carlos Beltran struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out to shortstop.

Sabathia followed the lead of Michael Pineda Wednesday night by retiring the Marlins in order the first time through the batting order, but unlike Pineda, who also did that a second time through the lineup, CC’s no-hit bid ended in the fourth when Dee Gordon hit a liner into the right field corner and legged out a triple. After Adeiny Hechevarria struck out, Christian Yelich grounded out to second with Gordon crossing the plate with the tying run.

The Marlins took the lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Mathis. In the sixth, Giancarlo Stanton clocked his 25th home run on a drive to left off a 1-0 pitch. Sabathia did not walk a batter and struck out seven, but he was looking at a possible ‘L’ before the Yanks’ two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth.

They had Latos on the ropes several times but let him wiggle free. The Yankees stranded six base runners in the first three innings and eight through five.

Beltran, who heard his share of boos from the crowd of 38,239 at Yankee Stadium when he left five runners on base combined in the first and fifth innings, got the fans on his side in the seventh when he broke the tie with a two-run home run to left off reliever Mike Dunn.

Rodriguez also singled in the fifth for his second hit of the game and career No. 2,999. He lined out to right field in the sixth and got one more at-bat in the Yanks’ four-run eighth as they pulled away toward a 9-4 victory.

Hungry to see A-Rod get his 3,000th hit, fans booed Sam Dyson heavily when he walked him on four pitches, none of which was anywhere near the strike zone. It was the second straight walk for Dyson, who ended up being charged with four earned runs in one third of an inning. McCann’s third hit of the game drove in a run as did Chris Young with a double and Stephen Drew with a sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez got payback when he scored from third base on a wild pitch.

A-Rod donates bat from 2,000th-RBI game to Hall

The National Baseball Hall of Fame received a donation from Alex Rodriguez of the bat he used Saturday to record his 2,000th career run batted in. The bat will soon arrive in Cooperstown, N.Y., and be added to the museum’s collection. Within a few weeks, the bat will be on display in the museum’s Today’s Game exhibit.

“The Baseball Hall of Fame is the definitive repository for the game’s history,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said. “As records, achievements and compelling stories unfold on the field, we recount them in Cooperstown through the generosity of players, teams and fans who generously donate artifacts associated with those milestones to the museum. We extend our gratitude to Alex for donating the bat he used to record his 2,000th RBI to the museum.”

Rodriguez’s 2,000th and 2,001st career RBI came on the same swing when he homered off the Orioles’ Bud Norris in the sixth inning Saturday at Camden Yards, driving in teammate Chase Headley ahead of him. Rodriguez became just the second player to reach the 2,000-RBI plateau along with all-time record holder. The RBI did not become an official statistic until 1920. Historians studying old boxscores have credited Babe Ruth with 2,214 and Cap Anson with 2,075, but those figures are considered unofficial.

The Hall of Fame’s collection contains several artifacts from Rodriguez’s 21-year big league career, including:

A bat from his 2002 season with the Texas Rangers.
His helmet from his 500th career home run in 2007.
Spikes he wore in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series.
A road jersey worn during the 2009 season.
His spikes from his 600th career home run in 2010.
A home jersey on loan from Rodriguez from his 500th career double.

Girardi spared another tough decision on Pineda

Christian Yelich did Joe Girardi a big favor Wednesday night. Michael Pineda entered the seventh inning with a no-hitter in place against the Marlins but a pitch count that had reached 94.

Considering how cautious the Yankees have been with Pineda, who had Tommy John surgery in 2013 and has not pitched more than 171 innings in professional baseball, Girardi likely would have been forced to make a difficult decision if his pitcher got too far beyond the 100-pitch limit. The manager recalled a game at the Stadium May 10 against the Orioles when he took Pineda out after seven innings when the pitcher had 16 strikeouts, two shy of Ron Guidry’s franchise record.

Yelich led off the seventh by driving Pineda’s first pitch into the Yankees’ bullpen for his fourth home run of the season. End of no-hitter. End of shutout. End of concern for Girardi about his pitcher, who retired the next two batters before coming out of the game to a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 43,048.

“I was in a bad spot,” Girardi conceded. “People questioned me when he had 16 strikeouts with 111 pitches. At some point I would have had to consider pulling him. You can’t let him go forever. It is not a decision you want to make, but it is one you have to make.”

Returning to his normal routine, Pineda was back to his usual self. The slider that was missing from his previous start was back with its hard bite, good enough to help produce nine strikeouts. The only two base runners prior to Yelich’s dinger were on walks, the first coming after Pineda had retired the first 11 batters in order.

Pineda’s previous start June 12 at Baltimore was on 10 days’ rest after the Yankees skipped him one turn in the rotation in an effort to conserve innings. The righthander never got into synch and was roughed up for six runs (five earned) and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.

He was a pitcher much more in command Wednesday night. The Yankees gave him a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out, RBI single by Alex Rodriguez. Carlos Beltran singled home a run in the fifth, but A-Rod was thrown out at the plate trying to get his team another run. With two singles, Rodriguez pushed his career hits total to 2,997.

As impressive as Pineda was, he was nearly stuck with a no-decision when for a couple of minutes in the eighth inning it appeared that Miami had tied the score. With runners on first and third and one out, Dee Gordon hit a chopper to first baseman Garrett Jones, whose throw to the plate was a bit high and up the line. Adeiny Hechevarria was originally ruled safe by plate umpire Dale Scott.

The Yankees called for a review. Replays indicated that catcher Brian McCann tagged Hechevarria on his left knee before his left foot hit the plate. The call was over-turned, so the score reverted to 2-1 Yankees, which held up as Dellin Betances converted a five-out save.

Pineda’s record this year improved to 8-3 with a 3.54 ERA as he continued his dominance against National League competition — 5-1 with a 1.18 ERA in 53 1/3 innings.

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