Results tagged ‘ Alex Avila ’
Phil Hughes was working on a terrific streak of retiring batters hitting with runners in scoring position before Miguel Cabrera’s two-run double in the fifth inning knocked him out of Tuesday night’s game.
Opponents were hitless in 23 consecutive at-bats with runners in scoring position against Hughes over his past five starts. The Tigers’ two runs off Hughes in the fourth inning were on a home run by Cabrera and a double by Jhonny Peralta that scored Brennan Boesch from first base. The 22nd straight out Hughes got with a runner in scoring position was Alex Avila on a grounder to first that stranded Peralta.
All that ended in the fifth as Hughes struggled with a lofty pitch count. Singles by Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson gave the Tigers runners on first and third. Hughes made it 23 straight batters retired with runners in scoring position when Omar Infante lined out to shortstop Derek Jeter. But Cabrera followed with a liner into the left-field corner for a two-run double and a 4-2 Detroit lead.
That was all for Hughes, who toiled for 102 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. It was the briefest outing for Phil since he also went 4 1/3 innings June 20 at Yankee Stadium in a 10-5 loss to the Braves. He had previous success at Comerica Park (3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in four career starts), but not this time. Hughes did not walk a batter and struck out three but gave up eight hits.
Cabrera has been a thorn in the Yankees’ side over the years. In 38 career games against the Yanks, Cabrera is batting .370 with 10 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs and 37 RBI in 138 at-bats. This year, the Detroit third baseman is batting .355 with four doubles, five home runs and 11 RBI in 31 at-bats against the Yankees.
The Yankees came close to taking Hughes off the hook with a ninth-inning rally that eventually fell short as the Tigers held on for a 6-5 victory, their sixth in a row. The Yankees’ second loss in two nights at Detroit was their 12th in the past 18 games and eighth straight loss in one-run games.
It would have been a very satisfying finish if the Yankees had completed the comeback. There is no more annoying situation to watch in baseball than Jose Valverde closing out a game. He is the anti-Mariano Rivera, taking forever to deliver the ball and going through all sorts of gyrations. Why it is that umpires let him get away with all that stuff is beyond me to comprehend.
So to see him have to sweat through what should have been a cookie of a save was a pleasure. The key at-bat was a nine-pitch duel won by Raul Ibanez, who walked with two out to push Eric Chavez, who had singled with one out, into scoring position and bringing the potential tying run to the plate.
Ichiro Suzuki, whose run-scoring double in the seventh was his first hit with a runner in scoring position since joining the Yankees, got another clutch hit with a single to center to score Chavez. Russell Martin ripped a double to the wall in left to score Ibanez and make it a one-run game.
Third base coach Rob Thompson did the smart thing to stop Ichiro at third because left fielder Quintin Berry got to the ball quickly and returned it to the infield swiftly. Five years ago, a coach might have sent Ichiro but not now. Curtis Granderson had a chance to put the Yankees ahead but popped out and is now 0-for-10 in the series against his former team.
An eight-inning run the Tigers scored off Joba Chamberlain proved vital. It came on a two-out single by Dirks, Detroit’s 9-hole hitter who had three hits and two RBI.
The Yankees had 11 hits, but only one in 12 at-bats from the first third of the order – Granderson, Jeter (who got the hit) and Robinson Cano. Nick Swisher had two doubles and a single. Chavez, moved up to the 5-hole after a three-hit game Monday night, had two more hits, including his 11th home run. Suzuki had his first multi-hit game for the Yankees.
One of the characteristics of the Yankees over the past two decades has been their ability to get to another team’s closer while other teams rarely get to their closer. While Mariano Rivera has set the major league record for saves and pitched as superlatively in postseason play, teammates have regularly roughed up his counterparts on the other side.
Jose Valverde was almost the latest victim Sunday night in Game 2 of the American League Division Series, a 5-3 Detroit victory that evened the best-of-five series at one game apiece.
The hard-throwing righthander was 49-for-49 in save opportunities during the regular season, but the Yankees had him on the ropes in the ninth inning. There was even an indication that the ghosts who used to roam the old Yankee Stadium have indeed made the trek to the north side of 161st Street in the Bronx.
The game looked like a lost cause for the Yankees when the Tigers pushed across a run in the top of the ninth on a two-out single by Don Kelly, a defensive substitute for right fielder Magglio Ordonez. That bolstered Detroit’s lead to 5-1, and out of the pen came Valverde, who pitched to a 2.24 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings in the regular season.
Nick Swisher woke up the crowd with a leadoff home run. Jorge Posada followed with a drive to left-center and plodded around a field muddy with late-inning rain showers for a triple. How unusual was that? Posada has only 10 triples in 6,092 career at-bats and had none in his previous 407 at-bats in postseason play.
Russell Martin worked a walk, and the joint was really jumping. Andruw Jones hit the ball hard to right, but Kelly made a fine running catch. Jones had to settle for a sacrifice fly, which made the score 5-3.
Valverde struck out Derek Jeter on a 95-mph fastball. Then with Curtis Granderson batting, one of those ghosts that Jeter always used to talk about coming out in the late innings of games at the Stadium may have been at work. The game appeared over when Granderson hit a foul ball near the Tigers’ third base dugout. Catcher Alex Avila slipped on the wet dirt as the rain was falling, and the ball fell free. No play, official scorer Howie Karpin rightfully ruled.
But it continued the at-bat for Granderson, who walked. That brought up Robinson Cano, who had driven in six runs in Game 1. There was drama aplenty with each pitch as Cano fouled off three straight mid-90s fastballs before hitting a hard grounder to second base for the final out.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland admitted after the game that he actually considered walking Cano intentionally, which would have loaded the bases for Alex Rodriguez, who is having a brutal series (0-for-8, 1 walk).
“You know what; I thought about it,” Leyland told reporters. “But the other guy [Rodriguez] has been known for the dramatics, and I figured it’s wet, it’s slippery, one gets away, one run is in, something like that would happen, a ground ball, a ball slips I just couldn’t do it. Hit a ball in the infield, you get him over there and somebody throws it away, the game is tied. But it did cross my mind.”
That shows how much respect there is in the game now for Cano. The last time these teams met in the ALDS five years ago, Leyland called the Yankees, “Murderers Row plus Cano,” which he meant as a compliment to the second baseman who was off a .342 regular season in his second year in the big leagues but was batting seventh or eighth in the order. Now Cano is a 3-hole hitter who has a three-time Manager of the Year thinking about walking him to face a guy who has hit 629 career home runs.
Miguel Cabrera played the Cano role for the Tigers with a home run, two singles and three RBI, which was plenty of support for starter Max Scherzer, who held the Yankees to two hits in six-plus innings. The Yankees made a last stand against the Tigers’ closer, but not even a shove from one of the ghosts, be it the Babe, Lou, Joe D. or the Mick could create a different ending.
PHOENIX – It was anything but a 1-2-3 inning for David Robertson, who got a 1-2-3 result in the second inning of the All-Star Game Monday night at Chase Field. Called on early because the Red Sox’ Josh Beckett was hurting, Robertson had plenty of support from his teammates in getting through the inning in his debut All-Star performance.
For all the heat Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez are taking for not coming here, it was good to see three Yankees on the field when Robertson came into the game to join starters Robinson Cano at second base and Curtis Granderson in center field.
Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista made a stunning, sliding catch in the right field corner on a foul drive by Braves catcher Brian McCann, the Most Valuable Player of last year’s All-Star Game at Anaheim, Calif.
Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman, who was Robertson’s teammate with the Yankees for a couple of months last year, lined a single through the middle. Robertson needed assistance from Cano to get out of trouble. As Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday looked at a 3-2 cutter down the middle for a called strike three, Berkman tried to steal second, but he slid off the bag with Cano alertly tagging him after taking the throw from Tigers catcher Alex Avila. That completed a strike-‘em-out, thrown-‘em-out double play.
Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, still swinging for the fences the night after his close loss to Cano in the Home Run Derby, connected off Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee for a leadoff home run in the fourth inning. The American League’s first 11 batters were retired in order before Gonzo’s homer, the first in an All-Star Game since 2008 at Yankee Stadium, by another Red Sox player, J.D. Drew, in the seventh inning. Two innings earlier, Holliday, then with the Rockies, homered for the National League.
The AL jumped on Lee for two more hits, singles by Bautista and the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, before Lee was lifted by NL manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants for Nationals righthander Tyler Clippard. Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre lashed a single to left, but a strong throw by the Astros’ Hunter Pence cut down Bautista at the plate.
Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, who has been booed regularly here for two days, heard his first cheers when he followed singles by the Mets’ Carlos Beltran and the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp for a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth off Rangers lefthander C.J. Wilson. It was the first All-Star home run by a Brewers player for Fielder, who was the captain of the NL in the Home Run Derby and had incurred Arizona fans’ wrath for not putting the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton in the competition.
Three stolen bases helped the NL scratch out a run in the fifth, by which time Granderson and Cano had come out of the game. Each had grounded out twice. Yankees catcher Russell Martin was the only AL position player who did not get into the game, a 5-1 NL victory.
The good news is that the Yankees will have six players on the American League roster, four in the starting lineup, for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. The bad news is that several deserving players from the Yankees will not be making the trip next week to Arizona.
Let’s start with the positive. The Yankees will make up three-quarters of the AL starting infield for the third time in franchise history with second baseman Robinson Cano, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter.
The only other time the Yankees had three infielders elected to the starting unit was for the 2004 game at Minute Maid Park in Houston with Rodriguez, Jeter and first baseman Jason Giambi.
The Yankees also had three starting infielders in 1980 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, but only one – shortstop Bucky Dent – had been elected by the fans. Graig Nettles started at third base as a replacement for injured George Brett of the Royals. The Brewers’ Paul Molitor was voted the starter at second base but had to be replaced due to injury as well. The Angels’ Bobby Grich was added to the roster, but the Yankees’ Willie Randolph started the game at the position.
This will mark the 10th time that the Yankees have had at least three infielders on the All-Star roster. First baseman Mark Teixeira’s failure to make the squad this year cost the Yankees the chance to have four infielders overall for the third time. The Yankees had four infield All-Stars in 2002 at Miller Park in Milwaukee (Jeter, Giambi, 2B Alfonoso Soriano, 3B Robin Ventura) and in 1939 at Yankee Stadium (1B Lou Gehrig, 2B Joe Gordon, 3B Red Rolfe, SS Frankie Crosetti). Giambi and Soriano were starters in 2004 and Gordon in 1939.
Other years in which the Yankees had three All-Star infielders were 1950 at Comiskey Park in Chicago (1B Tommy Henrich, 2B Jerry Coleman, SS Phil Rizzuto), 1957 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis (1B Moose Skowron, 2B Bobby Richardson, SS Gil McDougald), Game 1 in 1959 at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh (Skowron, Richardson, SS Tony Kubek), Game 2 in 1959 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles (Skowron, Kubek, McDougald) and 2006 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh (Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez).
Yankees catcher Russell Martin had led in the voting until the last week when he was passed by the Tigers’ Alex Avila. At least Martin made the team as an alternate. His handling of the Yanks’ pitching staff has been superb.
Mariano Rivera was an obvious choice for the staff despite his blown save Sunday, which ended a 26-save streak against National League clubs in inter-league play.
Now for the head-scratching stuff – why no Teixeira or CC Sabathia? And has anyone other than Yankees fans been paying attention to the season David Robertson is having?
Tex fell out of the balloting lead at first base last month behind the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, an admitted Most Valuable Player Award candidate, but still ran a strong second in the voting. The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera cannot compare with Teixeira defensively and trails him in homers, 25-17, and RBI, 65-56, but his .328 batting average is 80 points higher than Tex’s.
Now, here’s the rub. Teixeira has been invited to participate in the Home Run Derby. Nice. He can’t be on the team but he can fly all the way to Phoenix and take part in an exercise that could ruin his swing. Ask Bobby Abreu or David Wright about that? Say no, Tex.
All Sabathia has done is lead the AL in victories with 11 and posted a 3.05 ERA. Oh, that’s right. Pitching victories do not count anymore. I guess that’s why there was room for Felix Hernandez on the staff. The word is that CC pitching Sunday before the Tuesday night All-Star Game hurt his chances of making the team. Dumb reason.
To his credit, AL manager Ron Washington of the Rangers said nice things about Robertson when Texas was in town and that he was given him strong consideration. With so many other Yankees on the team, Robertson didn’t stand much of a chance, particularly since every team needs to be represented. When you see the Royals’ Aaron Crow in the pre-game announcements, think of Robertson. Crow, also a set-up reliever, is Kansas City’ lone representative.
It is a tough break for Robertson, but he is no more deserving than Sabathia, so it is hard to say he was snubbed. A lot of people don’t like the baseball rule about All-Star Games having to have players from each team, but I think it is a good thing. The 2012 game is supposed to be in Kansas City. It would be a shame if someone from the Royals was not on the team.
Each club no matter where it is in the standings has someone who deserves All-Star recognition. That the Yankees have so many is a testament to the terrific season the team is having.
With three days remaining in the fans’ balloting for the Major League All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix, the Yankees remain in first place in five of the nine positions for the American League squad. Make sure to get your vote in to ensure your favorite Yankees make the trip to Arizona.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson are just about locks at second base and in the outfield, respectively. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have substantial leads at their respective positions of shortstop and third base, and Russell Martin is still the leader of the pack among catchers.
Cano’s vote total of 4,724,816 is second among all AL players to only Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, who has 5,263,840, and well ahead of second-place second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox at 2,979,181.
There is a race heating up in the outfield for the third spot alongside Bautista and Granderson (4,582,419). The Rangers’ Josh Hamilton has 3,173,000 votes, which is only 121,325 ahead of the Red Sox’ Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees’ Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner ranked eighth and ninth, respectively, among outfielders.
The Yankees are trying to nail down three-quarters of the infield spots. Jeter has 3,392,128 votes and a 506,350-vote lead over second-place shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians. A-Rod’s total of 3,735,406 is 800,033 ahead of third base runner-up Adrian Beltre of the Rangers. At first base, unfortunately, the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez with 4,014,722 has moved out to a 937,480-vote head over Mark Teixeira, who is tied with Bautista for the AL home run lead.
Martin, trying for his first All-Star starting assignment, has gotten a huge break with the injury to the Twins’ Joe Mauer and has a 434,527-vote edge over the Tigers’ Alex Avila. Boston’s David Ortiz is a runaway leader at designated hitter with 4,237,014, more than two million higher than his closest competitor, the Rangers’ Michael Young. The Yankees’ Jorge Posada is running third with 1,453,385.
Fans may cast votes for starters up to 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club web sites, including Yankees.com, online or via their mobile devices with the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint, which offers English- and Spanish-language versions of the online ballot as well as audio CAPTCHA functionality for the visually impaired. Voting runs until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 30.
The Yankees are still leading in five positions of the American League voting for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix. There are eight days remaining in the balloting for fans to make sure a large contingent of Yankees players qualify for the AL starting lineup.
Second baseman Robinson Cano is the second leading vote-getter among AL players with 3,664,498 behind only Blue Jays right fielder Juan Bautista (4,156,940). Cano’s lead is more than a million votes over runner-up Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox.
Also leading in the infield are shortstop Derek Jeter and third baseman Alex Rodriguez. Despite being on the disabled list since June 14, Jeter has totaled 2,654,040 and is ahead of the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera (2,242,157). A-Rod has 2,876,537 votes and leads by more than half a million over the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (2,307,380).
Curtis Granderson ranks second among the outfielders with 3,473,227 votes, followed by the Rangers’ Josh Hamilton (2,400,408). Granderson has more than 1.2 million more votes than fourth-place Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox for one of the three starting spots. Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner are eighth and ninth, respectively, among the outfielders.
The other position leader for the Yankees is catcher Russell Martin with 2,226,797, leading the Tigers’ Alex Avila (1,730,511).
Mark Teixeira was leading early in the voting at first base but has since been passed by the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez, who continues to lead, 3,017,960 to 2,407,665. Jorge Posada (1,120,830) is running a distant third in the designated hitter voting behind leader David Ortiz (3,116,578) of the Red Sox and runner-up Michael Young (1,760,195) of the Rangers.
Fans may cast their votes for starters up to 25 times exclusively at MLB.com and Yankees.com – online or via their mobile devices – with the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint, which offers English- and Spanish-language versions of the online ballot as well as audio CAPTCHA functionality for the visually impaired.
When the in-stadium phase of balloting concludes Friday, June 24, fans will have the opportunity to cast their ballots exclusively online at MLB.com and Yankees.com until 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 30.
The Yankees’ lead at all four infield positions in the American League All-Star balloting took a hit in the latest tally released Tuesday in which Mark Teixeira was overtaken at first base by the Red Sox’ Adrian Gonzalez in voting for the All-Star Game July 12 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Gonzalez, the AL leader in batting average, runs batted in, hits and total bases, jumped to 2,027,537 votes, more than 250,000 ahead of Texeira, who has 1,774,024. The Yankees still lead at the other three infield positions with Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
Cano, whose 2,649,737 votes are the second highest overall behind only Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (3,042,091), is running away with the balloting at second base. A-Rod’s lead at third base is more than 300,000 over the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre. Jeter has a 238,000-vote edge over the Indians’ Asdrubal Cabrera and may be jeopardized by going on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday night because of a strained right calf.
However, despite being out of the lineup much of the past week, Russell Martin remains the leading vote-getter among catchers with 1,712,156. The Tigers’ Alex Avila jumped over the Twins’ Joe Mauer, who is on the disabled list, into second place with 1,093,070 votes.
Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson is still a strong second among the outfielders with 2,406,946, a lead of more than 600,000 over third-place Josh Hamilton of the Rangers. Nick Swisher is running eighth and Brett Gardner ninth in the outfield balloting.
In the designated hitter voting, Jorge Posada is running a distant third to the Red Sox’ David Ortiz and the Rangers’ Michael Young. Now that Jorgie is heating up, it is up to Yankees fans to get on his bandwagon, not to mention getting Tex back ahead of Gonzalez.
Fans may cast votes for starters up to 25 times at MLB.com and Yankees.com – online or via mobile device using the 2011 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Sprint up to 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 30.
Rosters will be announced July 3 during the 2011 All-Star Game Selection Show on TBS. Fans around the world will then be able to select the final player on each team via the 2011 All-Star Game Final Vote Sponsored by Sprint.
Detroit’s Comerica Park is supposed to be a pitcher’s park, but don’t tell that to CC Sabathia. The big lefthander continued to have trouble there Tuesday night. The Tigers ended their seven-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory, although Sabathia was not solely responsible for the loss.
The Yankees made some questionable base running decisions that only served to run them out of rallies and take the heat off Brad Penny, whom they had bashed at Yankee Stadium back in the first week of the season. This time, Penny went six innings and held the Yankees to an unearned run.
Detroit went on the attack against Sabathia right from the beginning. First-pitch swinging, Austin Jackson and Triple A call-up Scott Sizemore each doubled. They scored on an infield out and a sacrifice fly, respectively. Sabathia, who said later that he lacked command, got out of jams in the second and third and seemed to settle down until the fifth when Jackson and Sizemore struck again with run-scoring hits.
Give CC credit by holding it there. Yankees manager Joe Girardi ordered Miguel Cabrera walked intentionally with runners on first and third, a move that managers should make more often with hitters of Cabrera’s caliber. Sabathia made his skipper look like a genius by striking out Ryan Raburn and getting Casper Wells on a pepper shot.
It was a still a game there at 4-1, but the Yankees stumbled around the bases too much to close in on Detroit until Mark Teixeira connected off reliever Daniel Schlereth in the eighth for his eighth home run.
An error by Sizemore at second on a grounder by Jorge Posada with one out in the fourth seemed to open the door for the Yankees, who got a single by Andruw Jones and a double by Russell Martin to get on the board. Jones then made the first running blunder by trying to score what would have been the tying run on a shallow fly to right by Brett Gardner.
Yankees third base coach Rob Thompson was down the line and did not signal Jones to run, but he did anyway and got cut down by a wide margin on Wells’ strong throw to the plate-blocking catcher Alex Avila for an inning-ending double play.
It got even uglier in the sixth after the Tigers had gone in front by three runs, not a time to be overly daring on the bases. Robinson Cano, on first base with one out, hesitated a bit on a pitch in the dirt by Penny that bounced to Avila’s left and ended up getting caught in a rundown and tagged out. Posada followed with a single, but he, too, was thrown out on an ill-fated attempt to steal second base.
It all added up to another loss at Comerica for Sabathia, who has not won there since May 26, 2007 when he was still with the Indians. In his past four starts at Comerica Park, Sabathia is 0-4 with a 7.56 ERA. Over that span, CC has allowed 35 hits, including six home runs, in 25 innings, although he kept the ball in the yard Tuesday night despite yielding 10 hits.
The game was nevertheless another example of the Yankees getting length from their starter as CC pitched through the seventh.
Sometimes it’s a scratch hit or a flare that can snap a player out of a slump and get him going on a hot streak. Maybe that’s what the chopper of an infield single in the ninth inning Monday night at Detroit was for Alex Rodriguez.
It has been tough sledding for A-Rod the past couple of weeks since he was sidelined briefly due to a strained left oblique. Rodriguez had five hits in 38 at-bats (.132) since the injury and had his batting average fall from .366 to .260 before his rally-extending single in the ninth that helped set up the tie-breaking hit by Nick Swisher.
It was just the kind of contribution A-Rod needed to feel a part of a Yankees victory, 5-3, that sent the Tigers to their seventh straight loss. Never one to take his at-bats into the field, Alex has been his usual superb self at third base. He has also been out for early hitting every day trying to find ways to work out of this recent slide.
Rodriguez said during the past homestand that he had become conscious of the oblique as he hit and in avoiding tweaking it again developed bad habits at the plate. His hit was on a high chopper that Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge failed to glove on a short hop and pushed Mark Teixeira, who had walked, to second base.
The single gave the Yankees renewed life in an inning that came close to ending before it began. Curtis Granderson, in his return to his former stomping grounds, led off the ninth against Tigers closer Jose Valverde with a walk in a 12-pitch at-bat in which the Yankees center fielder fouled off seven pitches.
Granderson further frustrated Valverde by stealing second base – almost. Grandy had it swiped, but he slid past the bag and was tagged out by shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Teixeira’s four-pitch walk re-started the inning for the Yankees, and A-Rod’s hit kept the line moving.
Nick Swisher, batting in the 5-hole for injured Robinson Cano, unlocked a 3-3 score with a single to center. Texeira beat the throw to the plate from Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson as Rodriguez raced to third. A-Rod scored an insurance run on a passed ball by Alex Avila, who otherwise had a good night with a pair of opposite-field home runs off Bartolo Colon.
Colon continued the Yankees’ stretch of quality starting pitching despite squandering a 3-0 lead. He lasted seven innings, one more than opposing starter Justin Verlander, with an economic 97 pitches. Avila’s two homers were among seven hits off Colon, who did not walk a batter and struck out seven.
It was the third consecutive impressive start for the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner who is on the comeback trail after missing all of the 2010 season. As a starter, Colon has a 2.49 ERA with 19 hits allowed, three walks and 20 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. He has become a major part of a rotation that over the past 14 games has pitched to a 2.54 ERA and a 7-2 record while the Yankees have gone 10-4.
Perhaps the best thing that happed for A.J. Burnett Saturday came while he was sitting on the bench after an impressive first inning in which he retired the Tigers in order with two strikeouts. The Yankees struck for three runs against Brad Penny, Burnett’s former teammate with the Marlins, right off the bat and then hung another three spot the next inning on Mark Texeira’s second three-run home run in two games.
A 6-0 cushion in the second inning was just what someone like Burnett, who is atttempting to come back from a horrendous 2010 season (10-15, 5.26 ERA), needed to help his relax in his first start of the year while still battling a nasty cold.
A.J. faced a threat in the second when Miguel Cabrera led off with a double to right-center. Last year, that might have set Burnett off, but he gathered himself and struck out Victor Martinez and Brennan Boesch on impressive fastballs that were all the more effective because of the twilight. A wild pitch allowed Cabrera to reach third base, but that was as far as he went as Jhonny Peralta flied out to center.
Austin Jackson got the Tigers on the board with a home run in the third, and they put a rally together in the fifth after Boesch, Peralta and Alex Avila all singled with none out for a quick run. Brandon Inge was credited with a sacrifice despite clearly bunting for a hit, and a walk to Jackson loaded the bases.
Burnett kept the damage to a minimum as Will Rhymes grounded to Teixeira at first base for a run to cut the Yanks’ lead to 6-3. Burnett held it there by striking out Magglio Ordonez.
It was a sound effort for Burnett, whose chances for a victory improved even more when his new catcher, Russell Martin, homered with two on in the sixth to boost the Yanks’ lead to 9-3.