Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’
Curtis Granderson received the Heart and Hustle Award from another Yankees center fielder, Mickey Rivers, before Tuesday night’s game at Yankee Stadium. Granderson, the Yankees’ current center fielder, is the team’s representative for the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s annual award to honor active player who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
The MLBPAA formed 30 committees comprised of alumni players with established relationships to each club. One player from each major league team is chosen by the committees based on the passion, desire and work ethic demonstrated both on and off the field. As the season draws to a close, fans, all alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners.
Previous overall winners were Craig Biggio in 2006 and ’07, Grady Sizemore in 2008, Albert Pujols in 2009, Roy Halladay in 2010 and Torii Hunter in 2011.
The final winner for 2012 will be announced Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the 13th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York. The event is the primary fundraiser for the series of free Legends for Youth Baseball Clinics, which impact more than 10,000 children each year. Two of my favorite people in the game, Dave Winfield and Rusty Staub, will be honored at this year’s dinner. To purchase tickets for the event, visit http://ow.ly/ch395.
The Yankees are having a rough afternoon on the bases Sunday. Three runners were thrown out on the bases in the first three innings.
Derek Jeter circled too far around first base after he singled home Eric Chavez to give the Yanks a 3-2 lead in the second inning and was out on first baseman Albert Pujols’ toss to second baseman Maicer Izturis.
In the third, the old high school play completely backfired for the Yankees and ended up in an embarrassing double play. Robinson Cano was on first base and Alex Rodriguez on third with Mark Teixeira at the plate.
With the count 2-2 on Tex, Cano wavered off first. Pitcher Jered Weaver threw over, and Cano got trapped in a rundown. He tried to avoid being tagged so Rodriguez might have a chance to score, but Izturis tagged Cano and threw home to nab A-Rod.
Much has been made of the awful start Albert Pujols got off to in the American League this year. The Yankees would have loved if his troubles had continued while they are on the west coast, but the three-time National League Most Valuable Player started heating up a couple of weeks and has kept it up against the Yankees.
Pujols even victimized Andy Pettitte Tuesday night, which was a career first. They are familiar with each other from their time together in the NL when Pujols was with the Cardinals and Andy pitched for three seasons with the Astros. They have also opposed each other in inter-league and post-season situations.
All told, Pettitte had faced Pujols 32 times, including a first-inning at-bat Tuesday night at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, without hitting a home run. Pettitte had held Pujols to a .207 average with three walks. All that ended in the third inning when Pujols, facing Pettitte in a game for the first time in five years, drove a 1-0 cut fastball deep to left field for his eighth home run of the season.
That homer meant that Pettitte’s former teammate, Roger Clemens, remains the pitcher against whom Pujols has the most career at-bats (35) without taking him deep.
Pujols’ first homer off Pettitte was a two-run blow in a three-run inning that also included an RBI triple by Mike Trout, who is having a terrific series. Trout homered and scored two runs in the Halos’ 9-8 victory Monday night and continued pestering the Yankees both offensively and defensively in the middle game of the series, a 5-1 Angels victory, their eighth straight as they went over .500 (26-25) for the first time since they won the season opener.
Trout, all of 20, made a sensational, leaping catch in left field to rob Nick Swisher of a home run in the second inning. It was that kind of night for Swish, who was robbed of another extra-base hit leading off the seventh on a wall-crashing grab by center fielder Peter Bourjos. Swisher did drive in the Yankees’ run in the fourth when he singled home Raul Ibanez, who had doubled.
Pettitte pitched into the eighth inning for his third straight start. He came out of the game that inning after Pujols reached him for a leadoff single. Mark Trumbo, who won Monday night’s game with a walk-off home run, also homered off Pettitte in the sixth and was the batter after Pujols, so manager Joe Girardi made the move to the bullpen.
Pujols eventually scored on a one-out single by Howie Kendrick off Cody Eppley. As late as May 14, Pujols was still batting under .200 at .197, but in 60 at-bats since then Phat Albert has batted .333 with two doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBI to raise his average 41 points to .238.
It was a gritty outing by Pettitte, but he was bested by Dan Haren, who also pitched one batter into the eighth. His best moment came in the third when he struck out Robinson Cano looking with the bases loaded.
Cano got a second chance in the ninth when the Yankees again had the bags full with two out against hard-throwing Ernesto Frieri, who walked two batters and hit one. Cano struck out once more, this time swinging.
The Yankees problems in those situations are well documented. They are hitless in their past 15 at-bats with the bases loaded and have merely one hit in their past 34 plate appearances with the bags juiced.
It has been an eventful few weeks for David Phelps, the Yankees’ lone bright spot Saturday in a lifeless, 7-1 loss to the Angels. He became a father for the first time during spring training. Thursday night at the Welcome Home Dinner, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, who gave the invocation, asked general manager Brian Cashman, “Which one is Phelps? I’d like to meet him.”
“That was awesome,” Phelps said. “My wife has two priests in her family. It is always an honor to meet people who devote their lives that way.”
The Dolan-Phelps connection was based on their shared hometown of St. Louis and Phelps’ background as a Notre Dame student. Saturday, there was another type of Cardinal who was in Phelps’ path, a former Cardinal, that is, by the name of Albert Pujols.
The three-time National League Most Valuable Player in his first year with a new team, the Angels, and in a new league, American, was the first batter Phelps faced Saturday after coming to the rescue of Phil Hughes, who was blasted for six runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. Phelps faced Pujols three times in the game and retired him on each occasion.
Yeah, that’s the kind of streak Phelps is on.
“I’ve rooted for him pretty much my whole life,” Phelps said of Pujols, who doubled in a run off Hughes but remains homerless eight games and 32 at-bats into the season. “He is intimidating. I’ve never met him. We worked out in the same facility in St. Louis but not at the same time. I just left it in Russell’s [catcher Martin’s] hands. I wasn’t going to shake him off.”
Phelps’ mixture of fastballs, curves, sliders and changeups combined to hold Albert in check after he had gotten two hits off Hughes. Phelps lasted for 78 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, a worthy performance from a bullpen long man, which is the righthander’s role for the present.
Phelps opened plenty of eyes this spring when he earned the James P. Dawson Award as the top rookie in Yankees camp and has continued to do so in the regular season. In three appearances covering 8 1/3 innings, Phelps has allowed only one hit, the home run Vernon Wells hit Saturday off a wayward slider in the fifth. Phelps has walked two batters and struck out nine.
The Yankee Stadium crowd treated Phelps to a standing ovation when he came out of the game after retiring the first two batters in the ninth.
“That was awesome,” he said, “especially in a game when we were down. That tells you something about how great Yankees fans are.”
Fans especially like to feel they are recognizing quality in a young player on the rise. There has been a sense in watching Phelps pitch so far this year that he could turn out to be someone very special. Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t want to speculate about whether Phelps would be a starter someday but acknowledged that “he has been a starter his whole career.”
Right now, the Yankees are up to their elbows in starters. They have the current rotation plus Michael Pineda on the disabled list and Andy Pettitte working his legs back into shape. The manager contends the rotation will consist of the five best starters at a particular moment, so there is likelihood for change if a pitcher falters too often.
Girardi was not ready to suggest Hughes is in trouble, but he is 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA. Unlike a year ago, arm strength is not an issue with Hughes. His fastball was in the 91-94-mph range much of the game, but his pitches were up and he fell into a lot of deep counts, pushing his pitch count to 84 one out into the fourth inning when he was relieved after giving up a bomb of a three-run homer to Howie Kendrick.
“Phil got strikeouts [six] up in the zone, but he also got hurt up in the zone.” Girardi said. “They either missed it or got hits. I’m not getting too concerned yet. The arm strength is there. With the spring he had, I expected him to pitch well at the beginning.”
The skipper was delighted to get length and quality from Phelps.
“He hasn’t been phased at all by the situations we’ve put him in,” Girardi said. “He has come into games with men on base, and this time the first batter he sees is Albert Pujols.”
Right, but did Albert know that Phelps had another Cardinal on his side?
Saturday’ game was the eighth of the season for the Yankees and the first in which no runs were scored in the first inning. Each team threatened but neither scored. The Angels got one-out singles from Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols off Phil Hughes, who then struck out Kendrys Morales and Torii Hunter on 94-mph fastballs. Hughes had superb velocity but needed 25 pitches to get through the inning.
The Yankees also had two runners on base in the first inning against C.J. Wilson as Derek Jeter singled off Pujols’ glove and Nick Swisher followed with a single to left. Wilson recovered to catch Robinson Cano looking at a third strike and retire Alex Rodriguez on a fielder’s choice and Mark Teixeira on a check-swing grounder.
For a brief period that inning, there was an awful lot of money on first base where A-Rod was leading off the bag and being held on by Pujols. That was about half a billion dollars’ worth of big-league personnel in one spot.
The Yankees had scored in the first inning of their previous four games for a total of seven runs. Opponents had also scored in four first innings for a total of nine runs.
The Angels got on the board in the second inning on one of the shortest home runs that can be hit in the major leagues. Angels catcher Chris Iannetta lined a first-pitch fastball over the 314-foot sign near the right-field foul pole for a two-run homer. The 315-footer was an opposite-field job for the right-handed hitting Iannetta, who found the fabled right field porch at Yankee Stadium to his liking.
Pujols, who has struggled early on in his transfer to the American League having entered the game batting .222 with no home runs, showed his impressive power in the third inning when he connected on a Hughes fastball above the letters and drove the ball over Curtis Granderson for a double off the center field wall that increased the Angels’ lead to 3-0.
A much longer home run than Iannetta’s ended Hughes’ afternoon prematurely with one out in the fourth. Howie Kendrick got plenty of wood on an 86-mph cut fastball and drilled it into the left field bleachers for a three-run home run. It was Hughes’ 84th pitch, an usually high total less than halfway through a game.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi tinkered with the lineup seven games into the season Friday and got immediate results. Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez were flip-flopped in an effort to make it more difficult for opposing managers to have an advantage by bringing in a left-handed relief pitcher with two left-handed batters, Curtis Granderson and Cano, back-to-back in the order.
Against right-handed starters, Girardi had Granderson batting second, Cano third and Rodriguez fourth. The manager tried something new in the home opener by batting A-Rod third and Cano cleanup. By doing so, Girardi did not have lefty hitters batting in succession. He said he would continue to use such an order against righthanders, even before it produced dividends in a 5-0 victory over the Angels that pushed the Yankees over .500 (4-3).
Rodriguez entered the game batting .174 with no RBI in six games and 25 at-bats. After Ervin Santana began the game with strikeouts of Derek Jeter and Granderson, Rodriguez jumped on a 1-0 fastball and lined a single through the middle. He eventually scored the first run of the game following walks to Cano and Mark Teixeira on Nick Swisher’s bases-loaded double that proved sufficient support of Hiroki Kuroda.
A-Rod kept up his assault in the third inning and connected for a home run to center, his first of the season and career No. 630, which tied him with former Mariners teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth place on the all-time list.
“It was special because Griff and I sort of came up together,” Rodriguez said. “He was both a mentor and a brother to me.”
Rodriguez followed Granderson’s second homer of the season with a single to center in the fifth.
The reason for Girardi’s lineup switch never came into play as the Angels used two righthanders in relief of Santana in a game in which they never seriously challenged. The long-awaited first game of Albert Pujols at the Stadium was something of a dud. The three-time National League Most Valuable Player had a quiet 1-for-4 game. He singled to center in the fourth but was erased on a double play. Pujols also flied out to left, struck out and grounded into a double play.
Rodriguez, a three-time American League MVP, stole the thunder from Pujols.
“The great ones like to measure up against each other,” Girardi said. “Alex worked the middle of the field great.”
Girardi will return Cano to third and Rodriguez to fourth when opponents start a lefthander because the switch-hitting Swisher bats second in that case, which negates the need to move Cano, who was the Yankees’ RBI leader last season but is the lone regular who has yet to drive in a run this season. His time is coming.
Kuroda answered a lot of questions that came up after he got smacked around in his Yankees debut April 7 when he gave up six runs (four earned), eight hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings in an 8-6 loss. As a fly-ball pitcher who benefit from the pitcher-friendly surroundings at Dodger Stadium, Kuroda seemed vulnerable to a different climate at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
Girardi allowed him to start the ninth, but when Bobby Abreu reached on an infield single the manager brought in David Robertson to finish the job. The sellout crowd of 49,386 treated Kuroda to a standing ovation.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Kuroda said, “and I would like to repeat it as much as I can this year.”
Kuroda admitted that he was nervous before his first start at the Stadium and that he was able to relax somewhat after the Yankees gave him the 3-0, first-inning lead.
“I was able to get a really good rhythm going after that,” Kuroda. “I felt I had a good curve, but my split was not 100 percent.”
Maybe not, but Kuroda kept getting the Angels to beat the ball into the ground. The righthander got 10 of his 24 outs on ground balls and six more on strikeouts. He walked two batters and was backed up by two of the Yankees’ three double plays.
“In my previous game, I was too careful trying to hit the corners and had a bad outing,” Kuroda said. “This time, I tried to be more aggressive.”
Yankee Stadium turned out to be more of an ally than expected.
April 11 is an anniversary of sorts for the Yankees. On this date exactly 100 years ago, they wore pin-striped uniforms for the first time. An urban legend grew up that the Yankees went to pin-striped home uniforms in the 1920s to camouflage Babe Ruth’s girth, but that was just a myth.
Ruth was an athletic figure when he came to the Yankees from the Red Sox in 1920 and did not put on excessive weight until later in the decade by which time the pinstripes had become a major part of the team’s identity.
The Yankees were in their last year at old Hilltop Park on Manhattan’s upper west side and the last season in which they went by the nickname Highlanders when they displayed pinstripes for the first time April 11, 1912, four days before RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic.
Contrary to another myth, the Yankees were not the first ballclub to wear pin-striped uniforms. The Cubs had worn them as far back as 1907. The Yankees returned to plain white home unis in 1913, their first year at the Polo Grounds, but brought back the pinstripes for good in 1915 and have worn them ever since, adding the inter-locking “NY” logo in the 1920s. They were also the first baseball team to wear numbers on the backs of uniforms on a regular basis starting in 1929.
With the Yankees in Baltimore to complete a three-game series at Camden Yards, they could not celebrate by wearing pinstripes because they were wearing road grays, but they will show off the famous home uniforms Friday at Yankee Stadium.
Gates will open at 11 a.m. for the 110th home opener that will start at 1:05 p.m. with the Yankees against the Angels, featuring their prized, off-season acquisition – three-time National League Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols.
Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada will throw out the ceremonial first pitch following a rendition of the National Anthem by Jeremy Jordan from the cast of the Broadway musical Newsies and a Navy F-18 Super Hornet flyover. Another Broadway performer, Paul Nolan in the title role from Jesus Christ Superstar, will sing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch.
The Yankees have a 72-36-1 record in home openers and have won 13 of their past 14, 18 of 20 and 24 of 28. They won a record 11 straight home openers from 1998 through 2008 and are 6-0 all time in home openers played April 13.
The A.J. Burnett saga with the Yankees has finally come to an end. After two seasons that had Yankees fans pulling out their hair on a regular basis, Burnett found a new home. With a surplus of starting pitching, the Yankees were able to ship Burnett to Pittsburgh for a pair of medium-level prospects. They are stuck with paying all but $13 million of what was left on the five-year, $82.5-million contract that he signed before the 2009 season, but the addition-by-subtraction move was worth it to the Yankees.
Burnett was a perplexing figure during his three years with the Yankees in which he was 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA. His 2010 season (10-15, 5.26 ERA) was the worst for a Yankees starting pitcher with more than 30 starts in team history, and 2011 (11-11, 5.15 ERA) wasn’t much better. After coming to the Yankees fresh off an 18-10 season with the Blue Jays when he led the American League in strikeouts with 231 in 221 1/3 innings, Burnett was barely a .500 pitcher in pinstripes.
One of the dangers in assessing pitchers is how they perform against your club. Burnett had been something of a Yankee killer while in Toronto with a 6-3 record and 2.43 ERA in 11 career starts. The Yankees then gave him close to Mike Mussina money but got nowhere near the return that Moose had given them (123-72, 3.88 ERA over eight seasons). Burnett never came close to pitching for the Yanks as well as he pitched against them.
Backers of A.J. point to his victory in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, which was huge, but in his other start Burnett failed to nail down the Series by lasting merely two innings in Game 5 and had a 7.00 ERA for the Series. His dismal showings against the Red Sox over the three years (1-4, 7.29 ERA) caused manager Joe Girardi to figure out ways to avoid pitching Burnett against Boston if he could.
The Yankees came close to a deal with the Angels for Burnett that would have brought Bobby Abreu back to the Bronx as the left-handed designated hitter they had been seeking to platoon with Andruw Jones. But A.J. utilized his no-trade clause which pertained to West Coast teams because he wanted to stay in the east. So instead of playing alongside Albert Pujols and for one of the game’s foremost managers, Mike Scioscia, Burnett chose to accept a deal to the Pirates.
Maybe it will work out for A.J. in Pittsburgh. The manager there, Clint Hurdle, a former catcher, is a great guy. Burnett gets away from the AL East and will face tamer National League lineups minus the DH. Yankees fans should wish A.J. luck even as they cheer that he is no longer at Yankee Stadium. Someone else will have to handle the pie-in-the-face ceremonies after walk-off victories. I nominate Nick Swisher. What do you think?
Robinson Cano celebrated his sixth anniversary as a major leaguer by returning to the lineup Tuesday night at Detroit. He had been kept out of Monday night’s game because of a bruised left palm. Cano’s hand was still a bit sore, but he was anxious to get back to work, which is usually the case when a player is off to the kind of start he is this year.
Cano played in his first big-league game May 3, 2005 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., in an 11-4 loss to Tampa Bay. He was hitless in three at-bats but soon established himself and finished the season batting .297 with 34 doubles, 4 triples, 14 home runs and 62 RBI. Cano went into Tuesday night’s game with 1,107 career hits, including 124 home runs. Research by the Elias Sports Bureau pointed out that Cano has the most hits by a player whose primary position was second base since Pete Rose had 1,111 hits over a similar span from 1963-68.
Another gem from Elias is that Cano is one of only three active players in the majors with at least 1,100 hits and 100 home runs within six calendar years of their debuts. The others are the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols (1,159 hits, 250 home runs) and the Rockies’ Todd Helton (1,119 hits, 209 home runs).
May 3 also marked the 75th anniversary of Joe DiMaggio’s first game in the majors. Joe D. is the only Yankees player with more hits (1,185) than Cano in his first six calendar years. The Clipper also had a more productive debut in 1936 with a triple, two singles and an RBI in six at-bats in a 14-5 victory over the St. Louis Browns at the original Yankee Stadium.
When Cano came out of Sunday’s game in the eighth inning, it left Nick Swisher as the only Yankees player who had played every inning of every game. That ended Tuesday night as he was not in the starting lineup, not because of injury but for a rest.
It turned out that the Yankees did not trade a future American League Rookie of the Year Award winner to get Curtis Granderson from the Tigers 11 months ago.
Austin Jackson, a highly-touted prospect in the Yankees’ system, went to Detroit along with relief pitcher Phil Coke in the three-team trade also involving the Diamondbacks Dec. 8, 2009 that brought Granderson to the Bronx and included sending pitcher Ian Kennedy to Arizona.
When Jackson got off to a smoking start for the Tigers as their center fielder and leadoff hitter, Rookie of the Year talk surrounded him for much of the first half. Jackson tailed off somewhat in the second half, although he still had a fine year. It just was not as good as that of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who set a rookie record with 40 saves and was the choice of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the Jackie Robinson Award that was announced Monday.
Felix, 22, was listed first on 20 of the 28 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, second on seven and third on one to amass 122 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. Feliz’s saves total broke the previous rookie mark of 37 by 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners.
Feliz, who had a 4-3 record with a 2.73 ERA in 70 relief appearances, is the first Dominican pitcher to win the award and the third winner from the Dominican Republic overall, joining Alfredo Griffin and Angel Berroa. Dominican-born winners in the National League were Raul Mondesi, Rafael Furcal, Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.
A closer has won the AL award three times in the past six years. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey won in 2009 and Huston Street in 2005. Feliz is the fifth closer honored. The first was the Orioles’ Gregg Olson in 1989. Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti, now the Giants’ pitching coach, was a starter when he won the award in 1981. Feliz is the second Rangers player to win the award. The other was first baseman Mike Hargrove in 1974.
Jackson, who received the other eight first-place votes and was the runner-up in the balloting with 98 points, led all AL rookies in runs (103), hits (151), doubles (34), triples (10), extra-base hits (48), stolen bases (27) and total bases (247). Jackson batted .293, stole 27 bases and scored 103 runs, but he struck out 170 times, a very high total for a player who hit only four home runs.
In the National League, Giants catcher Buster Posey beat out Braves right fielder Jason Heyward for the award. Posey, 23, was named first on 20 of the 32 ballots cast by two writers in each league city, second on nine and third on two to finish with 129 points. Posey hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI and handled a pitching staff that helped the Giants win the NL West title. His 21-game hitting streak from July 4-28 was the longest of the season by a rookie in either league.
Heyward (.273, 18 HR, 72 RBI) received nine first-place votes and was the runner-up with 107 points. Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia (13-8, 2.70 ERA) got one first-place vote and placed third with 24 points. The other two first-place votes went to Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (.273, 19 HR, 85 RBI), who finished fourth with 18 points.
Posey was the sixth NL catcher honored, joining Johnny Bench, Earl Williams, Benito Santiago, Mike Piazza and Geovanny Soto. Catchers who won the award in the AL were Thurman Munson, Carlton Fisk and Sandy Alomar Jr. Other former Giants winners were Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Gary Matthews and John Montefusco.
The victories by Feliz and Posey marked the third time since the award’s inception in 1947 that the winners were opponents in the World Series. The other years were 1981 when Righetti and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela started Game 3 at Dodger Stadium and 1951 when Mays and Yankees infielder Gil McDougald played in all six games of the Series.
It should have happened in 2003 with the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui and the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis, but Matsui lost out to Berroa in a disputed election.