Carlos Beltran, who played key roles in the Yankees’ victories at Toronto Friday night and Saturday, was at the center of a negative situation in the third inning Sunday. His failure to catch a fly ball to right field kept the inning alive for the Blue Jays, who went on to score three runs.
Beltran lost Troy Tulowitzki’s drive in the glaring sun at Rogers Centre with the roof open as the ball glanced off his left hip. It was originally ruled an error by official scorer Marie-Claude Pelland-Marcotte, who eventually reversed her decision and credited Tulowitzki with a double.
The scoring change had a major effect on Luis Severino’s pitching line. After the Beltran play, which occurred with two out, Severino gave up a single to Josh Donaldson that scored the game’s first run and a long home run to center field by Jose Bautista (No. 28) for two more runs. Donaldson’s hit was the only one in 22 at-bats with runners in scoring position for the Blue Jays in the series.
Had Pelland-Marcotte not reversed her ruling, all the runs against Severino’s record would have been unearned. Instead, they were earned and in my opinion deservedly so.
Such a play is an example of an age-old argument about who is responsible for a hitter reaching base in that circumstance. Talk about creating a team error for such situations has been going on since at least the 1960s, but Major League Baseball has always been reluctant to make any change. And for good reason, I say. Official scoring rules dictate that responsibility for base movement falls on an individual pitcher or fielder. That is an essential part of scoring a baseball game. A team error would be a copout for an indecisive scorer.
Fact is, it would be unfair to charge Beltran with an error when the elements made it impossible to see the ball. Such plays have been called hits regularly. The argument that Severino should not be penalized because he gave up a routine fly ball does not wash because the sun made it uncatchable. He still needs to get a third out and compounded the situation by giving up run-scoring hits to the next two batters. Those runs looked pretty earned to me. (One scoring rule that really irks me is when a pitcher is not charged with an earned run because of an error when it was he who made the error.)
Severino certainly recovered from that damaging inning and gave up only one hit and two walks with six of his nine strikeouts from the fourth through the sixth. The Yankees also got quality relief work by Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren but did not overcome what happened in the third inning.
The final was 3-1 Toronto with the Yankees’ only run coming on a solo home run in the sixth by Jacoby Ellsbury, who showed signs of coming out of a prolonged slump with a 5-for-14 (.357) series with a triple, a home run and two RBI.
So for all the strong work Severino has shown in his three starts he remains winless (0-2) despite a 3.18 ERA. On the other hand, Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchison has a 12-2 record despite a 5.06 ERA. Hutchison has benefit from the largest run support of any starter in the American League (more than seven runs per game), although he did not have a bunch of runs to work with Sunday. The righthander limited the Yankees to two hits other than the Ellsbury homer and one walk with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
Winning two of the three games in Toronto took some of the sting out of being swept at home last weekend by the Blue Jays for the Yankees, who come home back in first place in the AL Ease by a half-game over the Blue Jays. These teams will face each other seven more times in September, so nothing definitive would have been settled this weekend anyway.
Yet even in losing four of the six games to the Jays over the past two weekends the Yankees displayed effective pitching with a 2.67 ERA over 54 innings against the majors’ most productive offense, an extremely positive development.
No matter what happens Sunday, the Yankees are guaranteed to depart Toronto in first place in the American League East. They assured themselves of that by following Friday night’s exhilarating come-from-behind victory with a thoroughly commanding triumph Saturday that let the Blue Jays know they are in for a fight.
Masahiro Tanaka, in what was probably the most important start of his brief career in North America, gave the Yankees precisely what they needed Saturday with a route-going performance, his first complete game of the season and fourth of his career. The Yankees beat Toronto at its own game with home runs by Carlos Beltran (No. 12) and Mark Teixeira (No. 31) doing in Marco Estrada, who had shut them out for 6 1/3 innings last Sunday at Yankee Stadium.
This series has been a turnaround set for the Yankees, who have out-homered the Jays, 3-0, and beat two of the pitchers who shut them down last weekend.
Another sellout crowd at Rogers Centre of 46,630 had little to cheer about as the Yankees increased their lead in the division to 1 1/2 games (three in the loss column). The large crowds have conveyed a playoff atmosphere, which may be why Beltran has played so huge a role in the first two games.
After all, Beltran is among the greatest postseason players in major league history. In 51 postseason games and 180 at-bats, Beltran has batted .333 with 45 runs, 13 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 40 runs batted and 11 stolen bases. His OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) in postseason play is an incredible 1.128.
It began back in 2004 when a late-season trade sent him from Kansas City to Houston where he hit eight home runs in 12 games combined in the National Leage Division Series and NL Championship Series.
Mets fans glumly recall that Beltran took a 3-2 breaking ball from then rookie Adam Wainwright for the final out of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, who went on to win their first World Series in 24 years in a five-game victory over the Tigers. What Mets fans tend to forget is that Beltran batted .296 with three homers and four RBI against St. Louis.
Playing for the Cardinals in 29 postseason games over the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Beltran hit .306 with nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI. He finally got to the World Series in 2013 and hit .294 with three RBI, but the Cards lost in six games to the Red Sox.
If the Yankees can get to postseason play this year, they can thank Beltran for what he has done the past two games. His three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning Friday night off Aaron Sanchez was a game-winner, and Beltran got the Yankees off on a positive note Saturday with a first-inning solo homer off Estrada.
Beltran’s homer Friday night was the Yankees’ first go-ahead, pinch-hit homer when trailing in the eighth inning or later since Jorge Posada hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth Sept. 9, 2009 against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The previous Yankees player to hit a go-ahead pinch-hit homer on the road in the eighth inning or later was Don Mattingly July 24, 1994 at Anaheim, a three-run shot that erased a 4-2 deficit.
Beltran, who also doubled Saturday, extended his hitting streak to 10 games during which he has batted .375 in 32 at-bats. During Beltran’s 16-game on-base streak (since July 26), he is batting .346 with 10 runs, six doubles, five home runs, nine RBI and eight walks in 60 plate appearances.
It was still a 1-0 game in the fifth when it appeared the game was getting out of hand for Tanaka. He loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around an opposite-field single by 9-hole hitter Ben Revere with the power portion of the Jays’ batting order coming up.
The crowd got excited when Josh Donaldson lifted a high fly to left field but had to settle for a game-tying sacrifice fly. Tanaka bore down to strike out Jose Bautista on a nasty splitter and retire the equally dangerous Edwin Encarnacion on a soft infield fly.
Tanaka’s effort was rewarded the next inning when Teixeira, getting a day off the field as the designated hitter, lauched a home run to right field. Rookie Greg Bird played first base and got his first major-league hit, a single to left in the eighth, after Teixeira got his second RBI on a single that scored Chris Young, pinch running for Beltran, who had doubled with one out. John Ryan Murphy doubled and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the ninth.
Tanaka was masterful the rest of the way as he set down 15 of Toronto’s last 16 batters to give a weary bullpen a needed blow.
Well now, look who is back in first place?
In a stunning turn of events, the Yankees, who were staring at the possibility of yet another shutout loss to the Blue Jays, kicked over the table with a four-run eighth inning to cool off Toronto before a packed house at Rogers Centre.
The crushing blow for the Yanks came from Carlos Beltran, who came off the bench to bat for Chris Young once lefthander David Price was replaced on the mound by righthander Aaron Sanchez. Beltran, 0-for-3 previously as a pinch hitter, was overmatched by two 97-mph fastballs from Sanchez but in an old-school approach shortened up on the bat and made solid contact with another 97-mph heater for a three-run home run that headed the Yankees toward a 4-3 victory.
The Yankees had runners on base in seven of eight innings against Price but did not put any of them across the plate until the eighth when Chase Headley followed one-out singles by Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann with his second double of the game to end a 33-inning scoreless drought against Toronto pitching. Next came Beltran and soon the Jays’ 11-game winning streak was history.
Not that it went all that smoothly before the Yankees celebrated. Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning, but Andrew Miller did another high-wire act in the ninth as a walk, a single and a wild pitch gave the Blue Jays runners on second and third with one out.
With a sellout crowd of 46,689 in the enclosed Rogers Centre creating a postseason atmosphere, Miller truly earned his 26th save by striking out Ben Revere and Troy Tulowitzki, two of the recently-acquired players through trades that have transformed the Jays into serious contenders.
The Tulowitzki at-bat was a chamber of tension climaxed by his swinging and missing the 12th pitch, a hard-breaking slider. The Blue Jays had been 13-0 in games started by Tulowitzki although the Yankees have handled him for the most part. In four games against the Yankees over the past week, Tulowitzki is 2-for-17 (.118) with one home run and two RBI.
Beltran’s 11th home run of the season made a deserving winner of Ivan Nova (5-4), who had one bad inning, the third, when the Blue Jays had three of their five hits off the righthander and all their runs on a fielder’s choice by Tulowitzki, a double by Jose Bautista and a sacrifice fly by Edwin Encarnacion. Nova gave up only two hits in his other six innings.
So the Yankees take a half-game lead into Saturday’s game at Toronto and are two games up on the Jays in the loss column. What a difference a single inning can make.
The Yankees will stage a special pregame ceremony celebrating Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit prior to their 1:05 p.m. game Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Gates will open two hours before the first pitch at 11 a.m. and fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 12:30 p.m.
Rodriguez became the 29th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau with a first-inning solo home run June 19 off the Tigers’ Justin Verlander. He is the third player hit a home run as his 3,000th career hit, along with Wade Boggs in 1999 and Derek Jeter in 2011.
A-Rod also joined Jeter as the only players in franchise history to reach 3,000 hits while playing for the Yankees and the only ones to reach the plateau at the Stadium, original or current. With the hit, Rodriguez became one of only three players to collect at least 3,000 career hits and 600 home runs. The others are Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.
The charter flight from Cleveland to Toronto Thursday night got a whole lot cheerier for the Yankees, thanks to an 8-6 victory over the Indians that ended a five-game losing streak and provided a renewed sense of confidence heading into a three-game series against the Blue Jays, who have won 11 games in a row and sit in first place in the American League East by a half-game.
For the first time in more than a week, the Yankees got a big night from their 1-2 hitters, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, and the offense supplied ample support for their pitching. Nathan Eovaldi extended his personal winning streak to seven games with 5 1/3 serviceable innings, and Andrew Miller rebounded from his first blown save of the season two nights ago to notch save No. 25.
Ellsbury ended a 0-for-19 slump by going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Gardner reached base four times in five plate appearances with three singles and a walk, drove in three runs and scored one. At the bottom of the order Stephen Drew was on base four times (home run, double, safe on an error, walk), scored four runs and knocked in two.
Brian McCann, who accounted for the Yankees’ only run in Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Indians, was back with his power stroke in the first inning Thursday night with another home run, a three-run jack this time, that gave the Bombers a rare early lead in games over the past week.
McCann connected with two out off Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer to score Ellsbury and Gardner, who made it seem like old times by reaching base together on a single and a walk, respectively.
McCann became the fifth catcher in the modern era (since 1900) to hit at least 20 home runs in nine-or-more seasons (2006, ‘08-’14). He joins a group that also features Mike Piazza (11 times: 1993-2002, ‘06), Johnny Bench (11 times: 1969-75, ‘77-’80), Yogi Berra (10 times: 1949-58) and Gary Carter (1977-80, ‘82, ‘84-’87). McCann also joined Piazza and Berra as the only catchers to hit 20 or more homers in at least eight consecutive seasons.
Twice the Yankees opened up four-run leads over the Indians only to have the Tribe scratch back within striking distance. They even got a run off Miller in the ninth before he settled matters.
Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.36 ERA in 58 2/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .254 batting average during his winning streak. It was also his sixth straight victory on the road with a 3.57 ERA in 30 innings. Against AL Central clubs this year, Eovaldi is 6-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 39 innings.
It was a rough major-league debut for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre callup Greg Bird, who spelled Mark Teixeira at first base and was hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts. But he had some good cuts and played well enough in the field to enjoy that flight to Canada with the rest of his new teammates.
It has worked so far for Luis Severino. Maybe it will as well for Greg Bird.
It, of course, is being thrown into the major-league fire. Severino, the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, has supplied two strong starts since his call-up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help a rotation that is without Michael Pineda, who is on the 15-day disabled list and will make an injury-rehabilitation start Sunday at Double A Trenton.
Bird, one of the Yankees’ top hitting prospects, was recalled Thursday and was inserted into the lineup for the series finale at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Bird will play first base and bat seventh in manager Joe Girardi’s lineup. The move gives a break to Mark Teixeira, who has been struggling this month with a .175 batting average, two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.
With the designation for assignment of Garrett Jones for the second time this season, the Yanks were without a legitimate back-up first baseman other than Brendan Ryan, who also fills in at the other three infield positions. Bird, who is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, is a pure first baseman who was batting .301 with six home runs and 23 RBI in 34 games at SWB following his July 4 promotion from Trenton where he hit .258 with six homers and 29 RBI in 49 games.
The Yankees certainly can use a jolt in the offense that has gone sour lately with only nine runs scored in the past six games, the last five of which have been losses to drop them out of first place in the American League East by one game to the Blue Jays, who won their 11th straight game Thursday on the eve of a three-game series against the Yankees at Rogers Centre.
First place no longer belongs to the Yankees, and they have no one to blame but themselves. The scoring deficiencies continued Wednesday night as they managed only four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Indians. That is nine runs in the past seven games for the Yanks, who dropped out of the top spot in the American League East for the first time since July 1.
The Blue Jays pushed their winning streak to 10 games with yet another resounding victory over the Athletics, 10-3, to nudge a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the standings. While it is true that the Yankees still have one fewer loss than Toronto they now have two fewer victories that the juggernaut they will face again this weekend at Rogers Centre after completing the three-game series at Cleveland Thursday.
The Yankees have no beef with their pitching, which once more kept them in the game. CC Sabathia, back in his former stomping grounds at Progressive Field, went six innings the night after the Yankees needed eight pitchers to get through a 16-inning loss. He gave his teammates needed length and quality as well.
Sabathia was touched for nine hits but only two runs as the Tribe stranded seven base runners and had 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position in his time on the mound. But with the Yankees scoring only one run Sabathia was hung with the losing decision that dropped his record to 4-9.
Brian McCann blasted his way out of a 0-for-16 slump with a home run in the second inning, but Indians starter Danny Salazar did not run into trouble again until the seventh but worked out of it. With runners on second and third and one out, Salazar retired Didi Gregorius on a pop in front of the mound and struck out Chris Young.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have pinch-hit for Young in that spot with Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not start, but chose not to. I cannot second-guess the skipper there. Ellsbury was benched for good reasons: he is in a 0-for-19 slide and is hitting .178 in 118 at-bats since coming off the disabled list July 8 as his season batting average has plummeted from .324 to .260.
Salazar walked Brett Gardner and Chase Headley with one out in the eighth, but Cody Allen came on and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into a double play. The Yankees’ only threat in the ninth was when McCann reached first base on a third-strike wild pitch. John Ryan Murphy ran for him but was stationary as Carlos Beltran lined out to left and Gregorius struck out.
The Yankees had another solid defensive game, especially Gregorius at shortstop who has been the lone shining light in this dreary stretch of five straight losses. But he took a 0-for-4 collar as part of the slender offensive showing.
The dog days of August are begging to take their toll on Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the 3-4 hitters whose turnaround seasons from suspension and injury, respectively, were primary reasons the Yankees had been in first place for the better part of six weeks. A-Rod is batting .162 with two doubles and two RBI in 37 at-bats this month and Tex is hitting .175 with two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.
At the top of the order, Ellsbury and Gardner, who had been the catalysts earlier in the year, are a combined 3-for-39 (.077) with zero runs scored or stolen bases in the losing streak. There is no mystery as to what is sinking the Yankees right now. It is all right there in those unsightly statistics.
In conjunction with 2015 HOPE Week, the Yankees will conduct a back-to-school supplies drive at Yankee Stadium Wednesday, Aug. 19, prior to their 1:05 p.m. game against the Twins.
Beginning at approximately 11 a.m., Yankees players, alongside students from an elementary school in New Jersey, will collect donations at a table outside the Gate 6 entrance at the corner of 161st Street and River Avenue in the Bronx.
Fans are asked to donate new or gently used school supplies, especially backpacks, binders, notebooks and markers, with all items to be given to students from a nearby Bronx elementary school.
Fans who make a donation will be entered into a raffle for a chance to win prizes including Yankees tickets and autographed HOPE Week baseballs. The first 2,500 fans to donate will also receive a commemorative HOPE Week pin.
The seventh annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) will be held from Aug. 17-21. The initiative is a unique week-long community program that brings to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities. Since its inception in 2009, the Yankees have recognized more than 30 different 501(c)3 organizations as part of HOPE Week.
Each day over the five-day stretch, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, surprising honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments. Outreach will often take place away from the Stadium to allow the Yankees to connect personally with individuals in settings that highlight their greatest successes.
This year’s event will mark the fourth year that all of the organization’s U.S.-based minor league affiliates will hold their own HOPE Weeks, allowing the initiative to reach five additional cities and touch more than two dozen additional individuals and groups.
HOPE Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture. Fans can learn more about the initiative and nominate inspirational individuals for HOPE Week recognition by visiting the official website at hopeweek.com.
All things considered, the Yankees might have been better off just getting shut out for the third straight time rather than playing past midnight in a 5-hour, 4-minute marathon and emptying their bullpen only to lose in 16 innings, 5-4, to the Indians.
It was a grueling way to start a trip, even if the game did come after an off day, the Yankees’ last until Aug. 27. Indians relief pitchers retired the Yankees’ last 14 batters in order and came away with the victory on successive singles by Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley off Brandon Pinder, the Yankees’ eighth pitcher of the night. The Yanks’ fourth straight loss reduced their lead in the American League East to a mere half-game over Toronto, although they still have a two-game spread in the loss column.
Of all the pitchers for the Yankees to run into at a time when they have had trouble scoring was Carlos Carrasco, who had pitched nine innings in each of his previous two starts and allowed only one run overall.
The zeroes continued to pile up for the Yankees, who ran their scoreless streak to 31 innings before Stephen Drew led off the sixth with his 14th home run to cut the Indians’ lead to 2-1. Two innings later, another leadoff homer by Carlos Beltran (No. 10) tied the game against Carrasco.
It was far from an offensive outburst, but the Yankees at least did not roll over in a whimper as they did against the Blue Jays over the past weekend at Yankee Stadium. Back in Toronto, the Jays extended their winning streak to nine games, so the Yanks could ill afford another weak offensive effort.
Another embarrassing streak for the Yankees was that prior to the 10th inning Tuesday night they had not had a hit with a runner in scoring position in 21 at-bats over six games, their longest such drought in 48 years.
So how satisfying was it for the Yankees to watch Chase Headley line a 3-2 fastball from righthander Bryan Shaw to right field for a two-out, bases-loaded single? Very.
Actually, Didi Gregorius ended the Yankees’ 0-fer with runners in scoring position two batters before Headley with a single that filled the bases. Drew grounded into the second out of the inning at the plate before Headley came through in the clutch. Headley did not start the game because of general soreness in his legs, a sign of August in the major leagues.
His hit appeared to be a game winner since the Yankees had Andrew Miller closing it out. Except for the first time this season the lefthander blew a save opportunity, his 25th. An infield hit by Lindor, a double by Brantley, a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana and a bloop, RBI single by Van Gomes formed the Tribe’s comeback.
Yankees rookie righthander Luis Severino provided another encouraging outing. After a shaky beginning in which he gave up two runs over the first two innings, Severino held the Indians to two hits and one walk after that through the sixth and kept the Yankees in the game. In his second major-league start, Severino showed no signs of being overwhelmed.
The Yankees are having a tough enough time these days without the fans making it harder for them. After suffering their second straight shutout loss Sunday to complete a three-game sweep by the surging Blue Jays, the Yankees watched their first-place hold in the American League East dwindle to 1 1/2 games to Toronto, which remains three games behind in the loss column.
Make no mistake, however. The race in the division has tightened up to a degree that the Yankees could not have expected 12 days ago when they had a seven-game lead and were eight games up on the Jays, then in third place. The additions of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price before the non-waiver trade deadline last month were serious upgrades for Toronto, which the Yanks witnessed first hand during this lost weekend.
And in Sunday’s 2-0 setback they took their lumps literally as well as figuratively. In the first inning after Josh Donaldson hit a long home run to left field off Masahiro Tanaka, a fan threw the ball back onto the field and struck left fielder Brett Gardner on the right side of his head.
“Not at all,” Gardner said when asked if he was upset. “Don’t care. I was just lucky the guy who threw it wasn’t as close as the second row.”
This tradition of tossing back onto the field opponents’ home runs began at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in the 1980s and has been part of the Yankee Stadium experience as well for some time. I must admit that it never made any sense to me. If I were to catch a home run ball in the stands, I would not throw it back onto the field. I would keep it and bring it home to my kids. Why honor a tradition that began with a franchise that has not won a World Series for more than 100 years?
Gardner was kind not to make a big deal out of it. In fact, he even said the fans were correct in getting on him because neither he nor teammate Jacoby Ellsbury did very much at the top of the order in this series. They were a combined 2-for-23 (both hits were singles by Gardner) with two walks and no runs scored in the series.
Less accepting of fans’ behavior was first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was still annoyed after the game that a fan in the box seats interfered with him as he tried to catch a foul ball by Blue Jays designated hitter Chris Colabello in the ninth inning. Colabello eventually struck out, but Tex was still sore about the situation.
“Tell the fans they can insult but not assault,” he said. “I know we just lost three games, and we’re sorry about that. But, please, no assaults, just insults.”
It was that kind of series for the Yankees, who scored only one run in the three games, none in the last two and are in a scoreless streak that has reached 26 innings, their longest in 24 years. The last time the Yankees went this long without scoring was back in the Stump Merrill days of May 15-18, 1991, a stretch of 32 blank innings.
The Yankees were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 12-13, 1999 against the Angels and had played 2,665 games between the consecutive shutout streaks, the longest stretch of not being shut out in back-to–back games in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Yankees began the homestand last Tuesday night with a 13-3 victory over the Red Sox. They scored only four runs in their next 45 innings.
“Just a bump in the road,” Teixeira said.
It was actually more like an enormous pothole. The Yankees wasted several strong pitching performances, including Tanaka’s six-inning stint Sunday in which he allowed three hits and no walks with five strikeouts. Unfortunately, two of the hits were home runs. Joining Donaldson was Jose Bautista with a solo blast in the fourth. The Jays out-homered the Yanks in the series, 6-1.
“It is never a good thing to get swept at home by the team that is chasing you,” Gardner said. “We’ll try to have a short-term memory, regroup on the off-day [Monday] and get back to our game in Cleveland. There are still another six or seven weeks left in the season.”
The Yankees found out over the weekend the rest of the season will be more challenging than they may have realized not that long ago.