It is not entirely true that the marquee matchup Tuesday night of the Yankees’ CC Sabathia and the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez, a couple of former American League Cy Young Award winners, did not materialize. Each had impact in the game. It is just that the outcome occurred after they had departed.
Neither starter was involved in the decision, although for a time it seemed that Hernandez would be the winner and Sabathia the loser. This was a game that ended up decided by the bullpens. In that case, it is no contest against the Yankees these days.
Shawn Kelley took over for Sabathia in the seventh with the score 3-1 Mariners, runners on first and third with one out and retired Kelly Shoppach on a strikeout and Raul Ibanez on a fly to left. After a botched attempt for a force on a sacrifice bunt gave Seattle runners on first and second with none out in the eighth, David Robertson worked another of his Houdini tricks by striking out Michael Saunders and getting pinch hitter Justin Smoak to line into a double play. Mariano Rivera provided a spotless ninth to make it 16-for-16 in save opportunities this season.
The relievers’ 2 2/3 combined innings extended the pen’s current scoreless streak to nine games covering 23 2/3 innings. The relief corps has pitched to a 0.77 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .161 batting average with seven walks and 36 strikeouts over that stretch.
One of the three runs off Sabathia, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, was not earned due to an error by first baseman Lyle Overbay that led to a run in the third. Overbay would atone for that bobble in the seventh with a sacrifice fly that unlocked a 3-3 score. Overbay had doubled in a run to get the Yankees on the board in the sixth against Hernandez, who came out after that inning because of back spasms. That was the opening the Yankees needed.
Seattle’s bullpen was not the support system for King Felix that the Yankees’ was for CC. Yoervis Molina gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to Chris Nelson and wild-pitched him to second base. One out later, lefthander Charlie Furbush walked left-handed batting Brett Gardner and yielded a two-run, game-tying double to right-center by lefty-swinging Robinson Cano, the Yankees’ only hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Furbush walked Vernon Wells intentionally to get at another left-handed batter, back from the disabled list Curtis Granderson, and walked him quite unintentionally. Overbay, also swinging from the left side, put a charge into a 3-2 fastball for a drive to deep enough center to score Cano with the go-ahead run. The Yanks’ pen handled matters from there.
The other two runs off Sabathia, who walked two batters and struck out 10, came on a home run in the sixth by Ibanez, who returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time since he was a 2012 postseason hero for the Yankees. CC enjoyed when Ibanez poked homers to right field last October against the Orioles and Tigers but not at all when he found his favorite area for homer No. 4 this season.
No one at the Stadium was expected to cheer Ibanez when he homered against the Yankees, but the reaction from the crowd of 41,267 to Ibanez when he first came to the plate, in the second inning, was curious to say the least.
Considering the dramatic impact of his heroics seven months ago, it was somewhat surprising that Ibanez received such a tepid response from the fans, who applauded politely but with few of them standing. There were even some sounds of boos, although that might have been chants of “Ra-oool.” You can never tell when guys have names that rhyme with “boo.” Think of Moose Skowron or Lou Piniella or Goose Gossage, for example.
Rivera could see Ibanez in the dugout in the ninth and was determined to keep him there. Ibanez was in the hole two batters away when Mo ended the game.
Umpires have often been the center of attention often this year, which is never a good thing. The best umpiring is that which you don’t notice. Umps are a lot like closing relief pitchers or housecleaners in that nobody pays attention to the job unless it is done poorly.
Reversed calls have become a norm in the game these days. The umps were at it again Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium, although the play in question did not figure in the scoring. With a runner at first base and one out in the fourth inning, Lyle Overbay hit a ground ball in the hole between first and second bases. Mariners second baseman Robert Andino made a nice play stopping the ball, left his feet and turned for a possible play at second and then threw to first where both first baseman Kendrys Morales and pitcher Felix Hernandez were covering.
Morales gloved the ball and tagged the bag ahead of Overbay, who had to try to make his way around Hernandez. The umpires huddled to discuss the play because the rules do not permit them to view it on videotape replay. Each manager had a point to make.
Seattle’s Eric Wedge contended that Overbay was already out by the time he made contact with Hernandez, which was true. However, the Yankees’ Joe Girardi insisted that Overbay had slowed down as he approached the bag because Hernandez was standing on it. This is known in baseball as obstruction, and that was the call the umpires eventually agreed upon. Overbay came back onto the field, and the Yankees had a rally going – until Hernandez struck out Ichiro Suzuki and Jayson Nix, that is.
Curtis Granderson, activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, was thrown right into the fire as the starting left fielder and cleanup hitter against the Mariners and Felix Hernandez at Yankee Stadium to open the homestand following a 6-2 trip through Denver, Kansas City and Cleveland.
Granderson played all three outfield positions during his injury-rehabilitation stint at Triple A Scranton. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he will use Granderson in each spot, although it appears that left field will be the one where he will play most often. Brett Gardner has done an outstanding job in center field during Granderson’s absence, and Girardi noted that while he has played some left field Ichiro Suzuki is more comfortable in right field.
Center field with the Yankees is one of the sexiest positions in baseball, yet Granderson told reporters before Tuesday night’s game that he is fine with his new surroundings. Just being back in the major leagues is satisfying enough for Granderson, who enjoyed being back at the Stadium where he was also visited by Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Players Association. Granderson is the Yankees’ player representative to the union.
Granderson is among several Yankees individual players with good career numbers against King Felix, who entered the game with an 8-5 record and 3.08 ERA in his career against the Yankees. The righthander has been especially tough at the current Stadium with a 4-1 mark and 1.13 ERA.
Granderson is a .273 hitter with two doubles, one triple and two home runs in 55 at-bats against Hernandez. Others with good numbers are Robinson Cano (.366, 2 doubles, 2 homers in 41 at-bats) as well as Ichiro (.400) and Jayson Nix (.500) in a limited number of at-bats. Ichiro is 2-for-5 and Nix 5-for-10.
Missing from the lineup will be designated hitter Travis Hafner, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder that has been sore for several days. The Yankees hope the situation is not serious, but Hafner has had shoulder problems in the past. Vernon Wells, who had manned left field while Granderson was out, was in the lineup as the DH.
CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees in the matchup of former Cy Young Award winners. This is the pairing of Sabathia, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2007 with the Indians, and Hernandez, the 2010 AL winner. It marks the fourth time former Cy Young Award winners will meet at the current Stadium after the winning the award. The others were Sabathia against Lee June 16, 2009, Sabathia against Roy Halladay June 15, 2010 and Sabathia against Johan Santana June 20, 2010.
Sabathia took a 12-4 record and 2.46 ERA in his career against the Mariners into the game. He has won each of his past eight starts against Seattle dating to Aug. 13, 2009 with a 1.20 ERA in 60 innings over that stretch.
The unfortunate side of the Granderson transaction is that pitcher Vidal Nuno, who got his first major-league victory in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader at Cleveland, was optioned to Scranton to create roster space. It was the obvious move because having pitched five innings Monday Nuno could not be used for several days. The lefthander, who pitched eight scoreless innings in two appearances for the Yankees, made a strong impression and will be in Scranton’s rotation to get innings and be available if the Yankees need pitching help down the road, which they almost surely will.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Nuno and righthander Adam Warren became the second pair of Yankees pitchers to earn their first career victory and first career save, respectively, in the same game. The others were Alan Closter (victory) and Fritz Peterson (save) July 25, 1971 in the second game of a doubleheader at Milwaukee. Warren was also the winning pitcher of the Yanks’ victory Thursday at Denver. Elias points out that he and Nuno marked the first pair of Yankees pitchers to earn their first major-league victories on the same trip since Matt DeSalvo and Tyler Clippard in May 2007.
The Yankees shut out their opponent in Game 2 of a doubleheader after being shutout in Game 1 of the DH for only the second time in the past 37 years. They also turned the trick on May 12, 2010 at Detroit, dropping Game 1, 2-0, and winning Game 2, 8-0. The Yankees are 4-0 in games immediately following a shutout loss this season, and have gone 30-9 (.769) in such games since 2008 when Joe Girardi took over as manager.
The New York Yankees Foundation will be the host of the third annual New York Yankees/New Era Pinstripe Bowl charity golf tournament, sponsored by UnitedHealthcare, Monday, May 20, at Westchester Country Club in Rye, N.Y.
Net proceeds from the event will benefit the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Pediatric Cancer Center, Tourette Syndrome Association of Central New Jersey, Boomer Esiason Foundation Fighting Cystic Fibrosis and UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation. More than 400 individuals have participated in the tournament the past two years, and in excess of $200,000 has been raised for charity.
Registration and lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by a 1:30 p.m. shotgun start for the scramble-format tournament. A cocktail reception, dinner and an awards presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. For more information, fans can call (646) 977-8400.
This year’s event includes Yankees alumni and broadcasters, football Giants alumni and select head coaches from Big East football and basketball teams.
Among those scheduled to attend are Yankees president Randy Levine; general manager Brian Cashman; former Yankees players Ralph Branca, David Cone, John Flaherty, Ron Guidry, Pat Kelly, Lee Mazzilli and Mickey Rivers; former Giants players Mark Bavaro, Luke Petitigout and Amani Toomer; Rutgers head football coach Kyle Flood; Syracuse University athletic director Dr. Darryl Gross; Syracuse head football coach Scott Shafer; Princeton head basketball coach Mitch Henderson; CBS sportscaster Don Criqui; WABC-TV weatherman Bill Evans; Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum, ESPN analyst Jesse Palmer; WPLJ Radio personality Scott Shannon and New Era Cap Company chief executive officer Chris Koch.
Westchester Country Club offers two championship golf courses and a nine-hole executive course. The West Course continues to be a regular location for professional golf events, including the Westchester Classic, Buick Classic and most recently, The Barclays, the first of four stops on the FedEx Tour. Westchester Country Club was also the site of the Senior Players Championship in 2011.
The New Era Pinstripe Bowl will take place Saturday, Dec. 28, at Yankee Stadium, pitting a team from the Big East Conference against a representative from the Big 12 Conference.
Reigning World Cup and European champion Spain will play the Republic of Ireland June 11 at Yankee Stadium. Spain is ranked No. 1 in the world by FIFA, having won the most recent World Cup in 2010 and each of the last two European Championships in 2008 and 2012. Ireland, led by manager Giovanni Trapattoni, participated in Euro 2012 and narrowly missed qualification for the 2010 World Cup.
Yankees Universe members will have special opportunity to participate in a Pre-On-Sale for the soccer match from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, May 15. This Pre-On-Sale opportunity will provide YU members with a chance to purchase tickets for this match before they go on sale to the general public, subject to availability.
When purchasing tickets you will be required to enter a predetermined password. Please make certain that you enter your password as it appears, as the password is case sensitive. The password can only be used beginning at your designated Pre-On-Sale time. If you have any questions regarding your predetermined password, please call (212) YANKEES. Click the “Buy Tickets” link and enter the password you received in the e-mail.
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As part of your Pre-On-Sale opportunity, we will be offering two all-inclusive ticket and food packages:
Legends Club Package #1
This special ticket package starts at $449.50 per ticket and includes:
A Ticket for a prime seating location in Sections 22-29.
Access to the Legends Club with all-inclusive food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Entry through the private Suite Entrance.
Legends Club Package #2
This special ticket package starts at $329.50 per ticket and includes:
A Ticket for a prime seating location in Sections 17B-21B.
Access to the Legends Club with all-inclusive food and non-alcoholic beverages .
Entry through the private Suite Entrance.
Additionally, if interested in securing one of the exclusive Luxury Suites for this event, please call (212) YANKEES to reserve your spot in line.
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This is a much different Indians team the Yankees will face Monday in the makeup doubleheader at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Then again, the Yanks will be different, too. After all, three of the players in their lineup April 9, the last time the Yanks faced the Tribe, are currently on the disabled list – Kevin Youkilis, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli.
When the final two games of the scheduled four-game set with the Indians were rained out, the Yankees were 4-4 and the Indians 3-5. Well, look at them now, each atop its division. This is something out of 1998.
The Yankees, alone in first place in the American League East by one game over Baltimore, are 19-11 since leaving Cleveland, have won eight of their past 10 series and are riding a five-game winning streak, all on the road. The Indians are 17-10 since they last faced the Yankees. The Tribe’s record dropped to 8-13 by April 28 when Cleveland fell into last place in the AL Central, but the Indians have gone into resurgence by winning 12 of 14 games since then to move into a first-place tie in the division with the Tigers. The Indians have not lost their past seven series, with five victories and two splits. They last lost a series when the Red Sox swept a three-gamer April 16-18 at Progressive Field.
In compliance with Major League Baseball’s 26th-man rule for doubleheaders, the Yankees recalled infielder Corban Joseph from Triple A Scranton. He was in the starting lineup for the first game, playing first base and batting seventh. In the second game, Yankees rookie pitcher Vidal Nuno will make his first major-league start, the first lefthander to do so for the Yankees since Chase Wright April 17, 2007 in a 10-3 victory over the Indians at Yankee Stadium. Nuno will be the first lefthander other than CC Sabathia or Andy Pettitte to start a game for them since Kei Igawa May 9, 2008 in a 6-5 loss at Detroit.
Nuno will be opposed in the second game by Indians righthander Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.70 ERA), who will make his first career start against the Yankees. They have lost three of four games year when the opposing pitcher had made his first career start against them. The losses were in games started by the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin April 18, the Astros’ Lucas Harrell April 29 and the Athletics’ Dan Straily May 5. Their lone victory was in the April 17 game started by the D-backs’ Wade Miley.
Hey, remember when the Yankees signed Hiroki Kuroda, which prompted questions about whether he could handle the American League? It was a legitimate concern. I recall years ago Lou Piniella telling me to beware of the records of pitchers on teams from southern California.
“The ball doesn’t carry well in night games in Los Angeles and San Diego,” Sweet Lou said. “A lot of those guys go elsewhere and their good numbers don’t transfer well.”
Kuroda was only so-so in his four seasons with the Dodgers, a 41-46 record despite a 3.45 ERA, so it was fair to wonder how he would do in a league that has an extra hitter in the lineup and in a division – the AL East – that has hitter-friendly venues and some dangerous lineups.
Is anyone questioning Kuroda now? Probably not even Piniella.
The Japanese righthander may have been the Yankees’ most reliable pitcher last year and has been their top starter this season as well. Kuroda improved his 2013 record to 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA Sunday in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory over the Royals. After the Yankees overcame a 1-0, first-inning deficit with a three-run third powered by a two-run home run by Robinson Cano and a solo shot by Vernon Wells in successive at-bats off Kansas City starter Ervin Santana, Kuroda did not allow another run until the eighth, his last inning.
It was not an overpowering outing by Kuroda, who had only one strikeout, but it was no less formidable. Kuroda got 16 outs in the infield and kept the Royals hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position. KC would make it 0-for-4 in the eighth when David Robertson retired Billy Butler on a fly to center stranding a runner on second base.
Kuroda is now 21-13 with a 3.13 ERA during his time with the Yankees. His adjustment to the AL has been extraordinary.
The Yankees’ sweep of the Royals ran their winning streak to five games heading into a makeup doubleheader Monday at Cleveland. It was a far more pleasant experience at Kauffman Stadium this year than last for Mariano Rivera, who was honored by the Royals in a pre-game ceremony featuring Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. Rivera, who tore up his left knee in KC last May, earned his 15th save in 15 opportunities this season and his 29th in a row against the Royals. Mo was 37-for-39 in save chances against them in his career.
In addition to his ninth home run, Wells had two other hits, both singles, and a stolen base. Wells has had a strong trip, batting .360 with three home runs and seven RBI in 25 at-bats and overall is hitting .295 with 20 RBI. With Curtis Granderson close to returning to active duty with the Yanks, Wells promises to give manager Joe Girardi some headaches trying to figure out how his outfield will look on a daily basis.
Considering all the difficulty Girardi has had dealing with an abundance of Yankees injuries, he probably won’t mind that challenge.
As anticipated, the Yankees placed shortstop Eduardo Nunez on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to May 6, because of a left oblique strain and purchased the contract of veteran infielder Alberto Gonzalez from Triple A Scranton. To create room on the 40-man roster for Gonzalez, the Yanks transferred first baseman Mark Teixeira to the 60-day DL.
With Nunez still hurting, the Yankees were in need of infield help because they have a makeup doubleheader against the Indians coming up Monday at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Gonzalez, 30, was reacquired by the Yankees Thursday from the Cubs in a trade for a player to be named or cash.
Gonzalez batted .217 with one home run and two RBI in 23 at-bats for the Cubs. This is his second tour with the Yankees. Gonzalez, a utilityman whose primary position is shortstop, was with the Yankees for parts of the 2007 and ’08 seasons and hit .152 in 66 at-bats. A .241 career hitter over seven seasons, Gonzalez has also played for the Nationals, Rangers and Padres.
Monday’s scheduled twin bill will be a single-admission doubleheader. The first game will start at 12:05 p.m. with the second game to start approximately 20 minutes after the end of the opener. It will mark the Yankees’ first traditional doubleheader since May 3, 2007 when they swept the Rangers at Arlington, Texas, and their first against the Indians since taking both games Sept. 22, 1998 at Yankee Stadium. Since 2000, the Yankees have gone 14-1-16, getting swept only once – July 17, 2006 at the Stadium.
It had been speculated that Ivan Nova might come off the DL to start one of the games of Monday’s doubleheader, but the righthander injured his left side while recuperating from right triceps inflammation and will not be activated. David Phelps, who had already been tabbed to start the first game, will share the bill with lefthander Vidal Nuno.
Since 1914 when Mother’s Day was first recognized nationally, the Yankees have combined to go 57-47-2 on the holiday. They played on the road on Mother’s Day for the fifth time in the past seven years and against the Royals for the first time since 1997, a 3-2 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday also marked Yogi Berra’s 88th birthday. The legendary catcher with 10 World Series rings and three American League Most Valuable Player Awards was born May 12, 1925 in St. Louis. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972 and inducted with Early Wynn and Sandy Koufax.
You can turn the panic button off regarding Andy Pettitte. Perhaps a dose of Kansas City was all the lefthander needed.
Pettitte has had a lot of success against the Royals over the years, although it is only fair to point out that Kansas City had been a downtrodden franchise for much of that time. This is a different Royals team this season with Kansas City threatening to be a contender in the American League Central. Nevertheless, they looked like the same old Royals against Pettitte, who bounced back from two awful games to post a 3-2 victory, his first winning decision in four starts since April 19.
That improved Pettitte’s career mark against the Royals to 15-3 with a 3.40 ERA, including 9-2 with a 3.11 ERA at Kauffman Stadium.
The cut fastball that had abandoned Pettitte in his recent starts made a triumphant return as Andy pitched seven strong innings against a much meatier lineup than the Royals had in the past. He gave up five hits, including Billy Butler’s fourth home run, walked only one batter and struck out eight.
Pettitte pitched well in situations, a signature strength of his. With runners on first and second and one out in the second, Andy got two soft groundouts to avoid damage. He gave up an infield single to Eliot Johnson leading off the third. Johnson was able to steal second because of a ball in the dirt. It proved a big steal. He came around to score on two groundouts. But that and Butler’s bomb were all that marred the sort of effort we have come to expect from Pettitte but what had been missing of late.
Pettitte’s ERA over his past three starts was 7.04 and over his past two 9.64. Ouch! Even worse was his statement after a dismal game against the Athletics that his cut fastball was nonexistent. When a 40-year-old pitcher makes such an admission, there is cause for serious concern. But to his credit, Pettitte kept working between starts to find the lost pitch, which he rediscovered to help the Yankees win their fourth straight game and maintain first-place standing in the AL East.
The bullpen came through again with shining colors. David Robertson struck out the side in the eighth (the Royals have struck out 21 times in 17 innings in this series), and Mariano Rivera withstood a two-double to make it 14-for-14 in save situations this season. Vernon Wells, whose two-run home run in the fifth had given the Yankees the lead, ran down Mike Moustakas’ drive to left-center for the final out.
As much a patsy as the Royals have been for Pettitte so have the Yankees been a nemesis for James Shields, who had one of his better games against them but was a loser for the 15th time in 22 career decisions. The righthander was hurt not only by Wells but also by a throwing error by Moustakas, his third baseman, that allowed Chris Nelson, who doubled, to score with two out in the third inning.
Shields also hurt himself by hitting Chris Stewart with a 1-2 pitch to begin the fifth inning. Stew scored on Wells’ home run. Jayson Nix entered the game with two hits, both home runs, in four career at-bats against Shields and added two more hits, a double and a single. Nix has done very well spelling Eduardo Nunez at shortstop on this trip.
The best news, naturally, was the return to form of Pettitte, whose 249th career victory tied him with Hall of Famer Vic Willis for 45th place on the all-time list. Next up in 44th place is another Hall of Famer, Bob Gibson, at 251.