Results tagged ‘ Adam Dunn ’

Mo’s blown save costs CC a needed victory

It was not classic CC Sabathia Wednesday night, not Cy Young Award winning Sabathia. But it was not chronic CC Sabathia, the what’s-going-on pitcher we have watched over the past month, either. Yet if ever there was a time to see Sabathia approach the pitcher Yankees fans have come to know and love, it was at the end of this disappointing trip.

After four consecutive starts in which he allowed more than five runs (seven or more in three of them), Sabathia limited the damage to three runs in 7 1/3 innings. The Yankees gave him a quick lead of 2-0 in the first inning on a two-run home run by Alfonso Soriano and pushed it to 4-0 in the fourth on Eduardo Nunez’s first home run of the season.

CC has had a nasty habit of giving up leads this year, and while the White Sox came close when Sabathia departed the game the Yankees’ advantage was still intact albeit down to one run. It was Mariano Rivera of all people who would give up the lead in the ninth for only his third blown save in 38 opportunities this year.

That cost Sabathia the chance to even his record at 10-10. He gave up his 25th home run of the season, a solo shot in the fifth inning to Gordon Beckham, who had a strong series. CC seemed to tire in the seventh although his pitch count was manageable (86 for the game). He allowed three straight hits at the start of the seventh that made the score 4-3.

The Yankees could have supplied more support offensively but had another poor night hitting with runners in scoring position. They were 1-for-13 in the clutch during regulation as they stranded 10 base runners, eight in scoring position.

Beckham, who was 6-for-12 (.500) with two doubles, one home run and two RBI in the series, was behind Chicago’s comeback. After Rivera got the first two outs on harmless fly balls, Beckham lined a double to right-center. Mo got two quick strikes past pinch hitter Adam Dunn before the slugger punched a single past a diving Alex Rodriguez at third base and into left field for a single that scored Beckham with the tying run.

Another hard-luck loss for Kuroda

What more could be asked of Hiroki Kuroda? He has been the Yankees’ best starting pitcher this year and deserves a better record than 10-7, which it fell to Tuesday night after losing yet another close game. This time, it was 3-2 to the White Sox, who ended a 10-game losing streak Monday night and did something Tuesday night that the Yankees have not done since July 11 and 12 – win two games in a row.

The Yankees have lost 13 of 19 games since then and are averaging merely 2.94 runs per game in that stretch. That leaves a tiny margin for error for pitchers, even one such as Kuroda who has a 2.45 ERA. The Yankees have failed to score three runs in 10 of his 23 starts.

White Sox starter Chris Sale knows all about lack of run support. The 2.47 runs per start he has gotten is the poorest in the major leagues. The lefthander pitched into the eighth inning and got the victory to improve his record to 7-11 despite a 2.83 ERA. This was only his second victory in 12 starts since May 17. He was a bit erratic (four walks, one hit batter). The only run he allowed came on a two-base wild pitch in the first inning. Alfonso Soriano, who scored on that wild pitch, had a good night with a single and two fine defensive plays in left field. The Yankees did not get another run until the ninth on a two-out single by Brett Gardner.

In any one-run loss, a missed scoring opportunity becomes magnified, and that was the case in the third when Gardner was thrown out at the plate on an errant call by plate umpire Alan Porter. Had Gardner slid instead of trying to score standing up, would Porter have made a different ruling? We’ll never know.

The White Sox got all their runs off Kuroda after two were out. Conor Gillaspie singled home Adam Dunn from second base in the fourth inning that tied the score. A wild pitch by Kuroda put Dunn in scoring position. Paul Konerko, one of the slowest runners in the league, averted an around-the-horn double play in the sixth as the go-ahead run scored. Alejandro De Aza won an eight-pitch at-bat in the seventh and doubled in what proved the deciding run.

The Yankees dropped to 2-5 on the trip and have gone eight series without winning one. Since they last won a series July 5-7 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees have lost five series and split three.

Derek and the new kids on the block

We tend to think of Derek Jeter as a perennial kid. His enthusiasm for the game is infectious. But there is no changing the clock. The Captain is 38 years old, which is twice the age of one of the two baseball phenoms who have entered the major leagues this year, outfielders Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals.

Both were on display Tuesday night in Kansas City at the All-Star Game where few teenagers have had the opportunity to compete. Trout was at Yankee Stadium Friday night with the Angels for the start of a three-game, weekend series and invoked Jeter several times in talking about his “homecoming.” The New Jersey native visited the old Yankee Stadium as a youngster, but this marked his first time playing on the Bronx patch.

“I was a shortstop and always batted leadoff,” said Trout, who still bats leadoff but now plays center field. “I patterned myself after Jeter, the way he goes about his business and always hustling. I’m the same way. I think that’s the only way to play the game.”

Jeter has now reached the point where he was the role model for players coming into the game. It started six years ago with the arrival of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who proudly wears No. 2 in honor of Jeter.

Trout noted that he was befriended by Jeter at the All-Star Game. While taking batting practice, he turned to the side and saw Jeter and White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn looking at him and making a gesture with their hands over their hearts.

“It was their way of wondering if I was nervous,” Trout said. “I was, but they helped calm me down.”

Trout has something else in common with Jeter. He is a winner. The Angels got off to a 6-14 start that cost hitting coach Mickey Hatcher his job. Since Trout was called up from Triple A and installed in the Los Angeles lineup, the Angels have gone 42-24 entering play Friday night.

CC gets August off to great start

In his previous start, CC Sabathia flirted with a perfect game. He was nowhere near as sharp Monday night but gave a lesson in quality major-league pitching with eight serviceable innings and gave the Yankees a positive start to the seven-game road trip in a 3-2 victory over the White Sox.

Sabathia needed such a performance because after the first inning Chicago starter Jake Peavy, who has struggled with injuries in recent years, was just as stingy. The Yankees got to him in the first on an run-scoring double by Curtis Granderson, who scored one out later on an infield hit by Robinson Cano.

Granderson, a Chicago native with lots of friends and relatives in the stands, doubled again in the third and scored his major-league leading 96th run as Cano grounded into a double play. That would be it for the Yankees against Peavy, who pitched through seven before lefthander Chris Sale added two more scoreless innings.

But Sabathia made the early runs stand up. The White Sox had 10 hits off CC in eight innings, but only one was damaging. Sabathia hung a changeup to Alexei Ramirez, the young shortstop, who drove the ball to left for a two-run home run in the fourth.

Sabathia did not walk a batter, had six strikeouts and was aided by three double plays. It also helped that Adam Dunn, the free-agent bust who is having an unbelievably bad season, came up in critical situations and had no chance against CC.

Dunn was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts as his average slid to .162. He left a runner at second base when he struck out in the sixth and another on first base when he went down on strikes in the eighth. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was forced to use Dunn at first base against a left-handed pitcher because Paul Konerko was unable to play due to a bruised left knee, which was hit by a pitch Sunday. Dunn has three hits in 77 at-bats against lefties this year. That’s an average of .039.

Mariano Rivera finished it off with as emphatic a save (No. 28) as a pitcher can have. Mo retired the side in order on nine pitches, all strikes.

Sabathia’s numbers just keep growing. His record is 16-5 with a 2.55 ERA. In 15 starts since May 19, CC is 13-2 with a 2.08 ERA. He improved his career mark against the White Sox to 18-4 with a 3.63 ERA, including 9-1 with a 3.33 ERA at U.S. Cellular Field. His career record in the month of August is 39-10 with a 3.12 ERA. Over the past seven seasons, his August record is an astonishing 26-3 with a 2.36 ERA.

If not for the Red Sox, Sabathia could collect the American League Cy Young Award right now. Against Boston this year, CC is 0-3 with a 6.16 ERA. Against everyone else, he is 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA. Sabathia has a chance to improve that with his next start Saturday at Fenway Park.

Yanks’ August tune: ‘On the road again’

The Yankees came roaring out of July with victories in their last three games and six in eight to finish the month 16-11, increasing their major-league record for consecutive winnings Julys to 19.

To do as well in August, however, the Yankees will have to be road warriors. The schedule bites them this month as the Yankees will have to play 70 percent of their August games on the road. Over the final 17 games of the month, the Yankees will play 14 away from Yankee Stadium.

The out-of-town odyssey began Monday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field in the first game of a four-game series to be followed by a three-game set at Boston, the first of two such meetings between the Yanks and the Red Sox at Fenway Park this month (the second pushes into Sept. 1).

The Yankees have been no slouches away from home. Their 27-20 record on the road is second only to the 33-21 mark of the Red Sox. The Yanks’ 47 road games are the fewest in the majors as they have 34 of their remaining 56 games (60.7%) on the road.

August has been an august month recently for the Yankees. They have had a winning record in August in 14 of the past 15 seasons. The one exception was 2008 when they were 13-15.

The Yankees had to start the trip without Derek Jeter in the lineup. He was struck in the right middle finger by a pitch Sunday against the Orioles. It was the same finger Jeter injured on a fielding play Saturday night.

The Yankees caught a break in that White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko was also missing in action. He, too, was a victim of being hit by a pitch, near the left knee, Sunday against the Red Sox. Konerko is a big loss to the White Sox. He leads them in almost every offensive category and is a .315 hitter with 20 home runs and 60 RBI in 321 career at-bats against the Yankees.

Konerko’s absence was felt right away. Adam Dunn, who has had a brutal year, was playing first base and had the ball hit past him by three of the Yankees’ first four hitters. Dunn, a free-agent bust who is batting .165 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI in 310 at-bats primarily as the designated hitter, got a rare start against a left-handed pitcher. He has only three hits in 73 at-bats (.041) this year against lefties.

And that was no ordinary lefty out there but CC Sabathia, who was starting a stretch in which the Yankees will go with a six-man rotation. After the starts by Phil Hughes Tuesday night and A.J. Burnett Wednesday night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi will insert Ivan Nova Thursday night and give Bartolo Colon an extra day’s rest before his start Friday night at Fenway. Freddy Garcia will also get an extra day’s rest for his start Sunday night after Sabathia’s start Saturday on his regular turn.

More good news for Yankees fans came with the announcement that Alex Rodriguez, who had surgery July 11 to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee, will begin working out Thursday at the minor-league facility in Tampa, Fla. The Yankees hope to have the three-time Most Valuable Player back before the month is out.

Appendectomy fells Pena

It was not the happiest of birthdays for Yankees infielder Ramiro Pena, who turned 26 Monday while being in the hospital. Pena underwent an emergency appendectomy and had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Pena’s injury leaves the Yankees a bit skinny in the infield. They recalled Brandon Laird from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but his flight to Tampa was delayed so the Yankees were short-handed in the opener of the four-game series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. With Alex Rodriguez on the DL after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Eduardo Nunez is playing regularly at third base, so Pena had been the Yankees’ utilityman in the infield.

There has been something of an epidemic of appendectomies this year. Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday and White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn had their appendixes removed earlier this season. While recovering from rotator cuff surgery, Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain also had an appendectomy.

A re-’cycle’-ed lineup

The Yankees’ lineup seemed awfully short Thursday night without Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter in it. Manager Joe Girardi had no second thoughts about giving Jeter a blow even after knowing that Teixeira would be better served with a day off to give his jammed right shoulder time to heal.

Girardi is committed to making sure that Jeter and Alex Rodriguez not wear themselves out with overuse. They are getting to an age (DJ is 36, A-Rod 35) where a day away from the grind is a necessity to keep them fresh for the latter part of the season. As for Teixeira, he is responding well to treatment, but the shoulder is still sore. He said after Wednesday night’s game that it is very uncomfortable to swing a bat, so Girardi did the right thing to play it safe.

Moving into Jeter’s leadoff spot was Curtis Granderson. Brett Gardner had begun the season as the leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching, but the left fielder was fighting a 4-for-41 (.098) slump, so Girardi kept him lower in the order, in the 8-hole ahead of Eduardo Nunez, who got a start at shortstop.

Taking over the 3-hole for Teixeira was Robinson Cano, whom many consider a classic 3-hitter. Girardi was asked throughout spring training about whether he would move Cano, who usually bats fifth, into the 3-spot, but the manager has resisted and for what I think is good reason.

For one thing, what ain’t broke don’t need fixin’. Cano proved a reliable RBI man in the 5-hole last year, and there are worst places to put a switch hitter with power like Teixeira than third in the lineup. Cano has also been effective in the cleanup spot when A-Rod is out of the lineup. The second baseman’s versatility is a great strength for the Yankees.

They have struggled offensively in the series against the White Sox, who have gotten some solid pitching. The Yankees managed to take a 2-0 lead in the finale of the four-game set before they had a hit. Chicago starter Edwin Jackson experienced a bout of wildness in the third inning and walked four batters in a row, the last (Nick Swisher) driving in a run. Cano got the second run in with a fly ball.

The Yankees ended the hitless spell when Gardner opened the fifth with a home run to right. Nunez followed with a double off the left-field wall. Suddenly, the batting order had gained some length. Granderson tripled and Swisher singled as the Yankees hit for the cycle in four successive at-bats. You don’t see that every day.

And that was just the beginning. Cano and Rodriguez made it six hits in a row with a single and a double, respectively, off reliever Tony Pena. The Yankees didn’t make an out that inning until the 10th at-bat, a strikeout of Gardner, after a run-scoring single by Russell Martin and a bases-loaded walk to Jorge Posada had pushed the lead to 8-0.

Did CC Sabathia ever love this? The big guy has been pitching with very little wiggle room all year and enjoyed his first real cushion. Long innings can often work against a pitcher as he waits to get back on the mound. Sabathia started the sixth after a 32-minute bottom of the fifth with a walk to Carlos Quentin but recovered quickly with strikeouts of Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn.

Things got a bit sloppy in the seventh. Nunez’s second error and a balk by Sabathia fueled a three-run White Sox rally, but the Yankees got the runs back in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly by Gardner and a two-run homer by Swisher, his first ending a drought of 89 plate appearances.

That may settle Swish down. He admitted recently that he was trying to hit home runs because he was conscious of not having one yet. That is a dangerous mistake for a hitter. Now he can get back to focusing in on quality at-bats, of which he and his teammates had an abundance to earn a split in the series.

The runs off Sabathia were not earned, so the latest turn through the Yankees rotation was a manager’s delight – three earned runs in 35 1/3 innings (0.76 ERA) and an average of seven innings per start – a combination of quality and depth.

Colon getting stronger as Phil fill-in

More good stuff Wednesday night from Bartolo Colon, who has been a lifesaver for the Yankees in the rotation filling in for injured Phil Hughes. The Yankees may need Colon to keep up his effective work because the other side of the good news-bad news night at Yankee Stadium was the latest word on Hughes’ condition.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game, a 3-1 victory over the White Sox, that one of the myriad of tests on Hughes, who has been on the disabled list since April 15, revealed a low level risk of thoracic outlet syndrome. He will see a specialist, Dr. William Thompson, in St. Louis at a time not yet specified.

The thoracic outlet is the area between the ribcage and collar bone. Thoracic outlet syndrome is a rare condition that causes pain in the neck and shoulder, numbness in the fingertips and a weak grip. Hughes went on the DL because of right shoulder inflammation because of arm fatigue.

“Whenever you’re talking about a circulation problem, there’s always a concern,” Girardi said.

Nevertheless, it is early yet. The extent of Hughes’ circulatory issues won’t be known until he sees Dr. Thompson, but it is doubtful the Yankee can count on the righthander returning soon.

That is where Colon comes in. The 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner hit 95 mph on the radar gun and held his stuff throughout eight innings, the longest he has thrown in a game since Sept. 22, 2007 for the Angels against the Mariners. He even reached 96 mph at one point in the eighth.

“One thing I remember from my playing days when I faced Bartolo is that if he was still in there in the seventh and eighth inning, his velocity went up,” Girardi said. “It was that way tonight. He seems to have an extra gear.”

Colon won his second consecutive start to improve his record to 2-1 with a 2.77 ERA, which is pretty good for a pitcher who was out of the majors for all of 2010 because of knee and elbow injuries.

He was especially excited about having won his first start as a member of the Yankees at the Stadium. Colon used his two-seam fastball primarily to work out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the second inning after the Yankees had given him the lead on Robinson Cano’s three-run home run in the bottom of the first.

Colon’s only other troublesome inning was the sixth. Chicago scored on successive singles by Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn, but the damage was kept to a minimum by Colon, who made it through eight innings one shy of 100 pitches. Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his eighth save.

“Bartolo has been our biggest surprise because we didn’t know what we could expect from him,” Girardi said. “He has been very consistent.”

In addition to Hughes, another health issue that bears watching is the right shoulder of first baseman Mark Teixeira, who jammed it making a diving stop Tuesday night and aggravated it Wednesday night to the extent that is adversely affected his swing. Eric Chavez pinch hit for Teixeira in the eighth inning and remained in the game at first base.

Shift deviation

The Yankees displayed an interesting variation on the old Lou Boudreau Shift in the sixth inning Tuesday night. When he was the shortstop-manager of the Indians in the late 1940s, Boudreau devised the shift against Ted Williams by stationing three infielders to the right side of second base because the Splinter was such a dead pull hitter.

The shift has become commonplace in the game. Yankees fans surely remember that it was used regularly against Jason Giambi. The Yankees also use it regularly against Jim Thome. But here was the twist in the Yankees’ deployment against White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn. They kept shortstop Derek Jeter to the left of second base and moved third baseman Eric Chavez to the right. Normally, the shortstop moves right to leave the third baseman to cover the left side.

I hadn’t noticed it until Dunn hit a foul ball that fell in front of the third base dugout with Jeter giving chase. I thought it was weird that Jeter came so close to catching the ball, since I assumed Jeter was all the way on the other side of second base. I looked around for Chavez and noticed that he was where I thought Jeter had been.

It is an intriguing concept. It sort of makes sense to leave the shortstop in his usual spot, but I checked with a lot of my colleagues in the press box and none could recall having seen that alignment before. I later learned that some other clubs such as the Rays and Red Sox have used the same maneuver.


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