Results tagged ‘ Alex Rodriguez ’

Pineda rediscovers his elusive slider

One could certainly say that Michael Pineda cleaned up his act Wednesday. In his prior start, the righthander had a disastrous seven-run inning against the Rangers that included a couple of errors, including one by himself. Very sloppy indeed.

There was none of that in Wednesday’s outing as he pitched the Yankees to a 4-2 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Royals, who have a much more tortuous lineup than that of Texas.

Pineda’s work was part of a complete turnaround by the Yankees in the homestand. As bad as they looked in losing three games to the Rangers, that is how good the Yankees looked in winning three games from the Royals and regaining sole possession of first place in the American League East and reminding Kansas City how much more comfortable it is in the AL Central.

“Baseball is a strange game,” Yanks manager Joe Girardi said in a major understatement. “Over the long haul things balance out, but over a short span things don’t always balance out. Everything begins for me with starting pitching.”

That is where Pineda comes in, following quality starts from Adam Warren Tuesday night and Nathan Eovaldi Monday. Pineda gave up a first-inning home run to Mike Moustakas on a changeup and then slammed the door two outs into the seventh inning before he was victimized by the pitch-count police.

“I wanted to keep pitching, but I don’t have control of that,” Pineda said. “I asked how many pitches I had, and [Girardi] told me 106. So I guess that was it. A starting pitcher goes out every five days so on your day you want to pitch as long as you can, but that is not up to me. We have a good bullpen, so I know they can do the job.”

Girardi is known to be cautious with pitchers, particularly someone like Pineda, who has had two major surgeries.

“Michael has never pitched more than 170 innings in a season,” Girardi noted. “He’s on a pace for 220, 230 innings this year. It’s a long season.”

The key for Pineda was a return of his slider, which was missing entirely from his prior outing. He worked on some mechanical adjustments in his between-starts bullpen sessions. The results were positive. He allowed five hits other than the Moustakas homer and only one walk with eight strikeouts. While Masahiro Tanaka was having a rough injury-rehabilitation start for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at Pawtucket (3 innings, 4 hits, 3 earned runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts), Pineda was pitching like a staff ace in improving his record to 6-2 with a 3.36 ERA.

Brian McCann got the Yankees even with a solo home run in the second off the other Chris Young, and Alex Rodriguez made it 4-1 the next inning with a three-run shot that raised his career RBI total to 1,995 to break Lou Gehrig’s AL career record. The long ball resurfaced for the Yankees in the series. They totaled six home runs in their six-game losing streak. They homered eight times in the three games against KC.

Pineda worked out of tight spots in the fourth and fifth innings and stranded two runners on base each time. He was particularly impressive in the fifth after Carlos Beltran misplayed a liner by Paulo Orlando into a double and Alcides Escobar singled. Pineda bore down and struck out Moustakas on a slider (no changeup this time) and Lorenzo Cain on an even nastier one.

An errant throw by shortstop Didi Gregorius led to an unearned run off Dellin Betances in the eighth (his stretch of unearned runs this season has reached 26 innings over 23 games), and Andrew Miller handled the ninth for his 14th save.

But as Girardi pointed out, it starts with the starter, and Pineda was every bit the good one.

Awakened offense & CC end 4-game slide

With one swing of the bat in the fifth inning Saturday night, Chase Headley gave the Yankees more runs than they had scored in each of the prior four games. The two-out, three-run home run off a 3-2 changeup from Royals lefthander Danny Duffy broke a 1-1 game and sent the Yankees toward ending that four-game losing streak.

Headley’s fifth home run of the season was more than welcome to CC Sabathia, who has suffered from lack of run support this year. The 6-foot-7 lefthander rewarded all his teammates with his finest start of the season for his second straight winning decision.

Before Headley’s bomb, the Yankees’ only run was the result of three walks and a sacrifice fly (by Carlos Beltran). They did not get a hit until the fourth inning, a bloop singe to left field against an overshift by Stephen Drew, in keeping with the recent offensive drought. In the previous four games, the Yankees’ run totals were 1, 1, 2 and 2.

The Yankees showed a healthy sign when with two outs in the fifth Mark Teixeira and Beltran singled. Headley took care of the rest, jumping on a full-count lollipop from Duffy, who has struggled this year (5.87 ERA).

Against a lineup that totaled 12 runs and 17 hits the night before, Sabathia was masterful, even in the inning in which he allowed a run. The Royals loaded the bases on three straight singles in the third, an inning that might have been a disaster, but a sacrifice fly by Mike Moustakas was the extent of the damage. CC kept the other runners on base with strikeouts of 3-4 hitters Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer.

Sabathia used his fastball inside to right-handed hitters and his slider to left-handed swingers in limiting the Royals to six hits and no walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. Over the years, he built a reputation as a breaker of losing streaks, and Sabathia did that precisely Saturday night.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a shutout inning of relief to preserve the victory for Sabathia. Miller lost a shot for a save when Alex Rodriguez made the score 5-1 with a home run in the top of the ninth.

There were other positive signs as well, such as two hits apiece by Beltran and Drew. Didi Gregorius, who entered the game late as a defensive replacement, got to bat in the ninth and ripped a double down the right field line.

If the Yankees are going to maintain their lead, now two games, in the American League East, they are going to need contributions across the board.

Yankees’ bats falling silent

So where has all the Yankees’ offense gone?

They began this trip with an 11-run, five-homer game, but in the next four games — all losses — the Yankees have mustered all of six runs. Their longest losing streak of the season has been the fault of a sputtering offense.

The first two games of this stretch they hit nothing but singles. In Thursday night’s finale at St. Petersburg, their only run came on a ninth-inning home run by Alex Rodriguez, who also scored their only run Friday night in a 12-1 shellacking by the Royals, who looked every bit the American League pennant winner they were in 2014.

The opener of the three-game series at Kansas City was actually a tight game until the sixth inning. It was a 2-1 game until KC sent 11 batters to the plate that frame and scored six runs. The Royals tacked on four more runs in the seventh to make it a blowout.

One start after tying David Cone’s franchise record for strikeouts by a right-handed pitcher in one game with 16, Michael Pineda punched out only one batter, and that was not until the 21st hitter he faced in the game. Ironically, it was KC center fielder Lorenzo Cain, who had a double, two singles and a sacrifice fly in his other at-bats for a five-RBI game.

Cain also made the defensive play of the night with a sprinting catch in right-center to rob Brian McCann of a potential extra-base for the second out of the sixth inning. It came between a single by Mark Teixeira and a double by Carlos Beltran, so it proved a huge rally killer.

Pineda lacked the hard slider that characterized his previous stint, and he threw far fewer changeups. He was charged with five runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings in sustained his first losing decision of the season.

This series portended to be a battle of the bullpens. Kansas City entered play with the lowest ERA among relief staffs with the Yankees ranked third. Clearly, the Royals won Round 1. They got 3 1/3 scoreless innings from two relievers in support of starter Chris Young.

Meanwhile, the Yankees’ pen surrendered seven earned runs and six hits in 2 2/3 innings.

The aggressive Royals made an abundance of contact all night. Only two batters struck out for the Royals, who bashed out 17 hits — seven of them for extra bases (five doubles, two triples). Joining Cain in the hit parade were Mike Moustakas with four hits (a triple, two doubles and a single) and Omar Infante with three hits (two singles and a triple).

Perhaps the Yankees would have been wise to take notes.

Yankees’ scoring stops after 1st inning again

For a while there, it looked as if the Yankees would just shove the Rays aside and not worry about them anymore by winning six of the first seven games against Tampa Bay this year. After the past two nights, however, the Rays have demonstrated that they have no intention of going away.

For the second straight night, the Yankees could not muster an offense beyond a two-run first inning, a lead their starting pitcher in each case failed to hold. Adam Warren followed Nathan Eovaldi in allowing the Rays to come back Wednesday night, this time by a 3-2 score, which brought Tampa Bay back to two games behind the Yankees in the American League East.

Just as in Tuesday night’s game, Tampa Bay’s starter was wild at the beginning. Nathan Karns walked the first two batters on eight pitches and threw a ninth straight ball on the first pitch in the at-bat of 3-hole hitter Alex Rodriguez, who eventually flied out to shallow center field.

Singles by Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann made it 2-0 Yankees, but once again they failed to break the inning wide open as Carlos Beltran was called out on strikes and Stephen Drew, playing his first major-league game at third base, flied out to center. Karns settled down after that and got through five innings, although he needed a strong throw from center fielder Kevin Kiermaier to cut off the potential tying run in the fifth by gunning down Teixeira at the plate.

Four Tampa Bay relieves held the Yankees to three hits over the final four innings with seven strikeouts.

Warren gave back a run in the first on Steven Souza’s sixth home run of the year and the rest of the lead in the second on doubles by Logan Fosythe and Asdrubal Cabrera (his 1,000th career hit) and a single by Joey Butler. Warren also settled down after that and retired the last 10 batters he faced in a row through the seventh. Andrew Miller struck out the side in the eighth, but the Yankees could not strike back.

After slugging five home runs plus two doubles Monday night, the Yankees have had no extra-base hits since then. All 10 of their hits Wednesday night were singles as were all eight of their hits Tuesday night. Singles can score runs, of course; after all, four did the past two nights, but all came in the first inning and no RBI hits of any kind after that.

Drew’s appearance at third base probably means that Rodriguez can hang up his glove. A-Rod’s 39-year-old legs have started to feel heavy, so full-time designated hitter duty is his lot.

In the meantime, that team in the rearview mirror no longer seems so distant.

Yankees have plenty of pop at the Trop

Tropicana Field was where the Yankees began to turn their season around last month with a three-game sweep of the Rays to get back to .500 after a 3-6 start. Good times at the Trop continued for the Yankees Monday night, who made sure they would leave St. Petersburg after Thursday night’s game still in first place in the American League East.

The 11-5 victory pushed the Yankees’ lead over Tampa Bay to four games. It was a satisfying triumph in many ways but probably mostly for CC Sabathia, who ended a 13-month losing streak. The big guy earned his first victory since April 24, 2014 at Boston. CC had been winless in nine starts since with seven losing decisions, although he spent much of that time on the disabled list because of a knee injury.

The Yankees’ offense exploded against Rays righthander Alex Colome, who had allowed only one home run all year until the Yanks connected off him four times. Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran had solo shots, but the big blows were a pair of two-out, three-run home runs by Chase Headley in the fourth inning and Brett Gardner in the sixth. Colome watched his ERA climb from 1.80 to 5.63.

Mark Teixeira, who had a four-hit night, smacked the Yankees’ fifth home run of the game in the ninth off reliever Erasmo Ramirez, a two-run shot that was the only one hit with less than two out.

Sabathia, who has had a recent history of giving up leads, was hard pressed to gag the 9-1 spread his teammates had opened up before the seventh-inning stretch. The Yankees had averaged only 2.27 runs per game in support of Sabathia before Monday night and made up for that big-time.

The winning decision, the 209th of Sabathia’s major league career, tied Vida Blue for 24th place on the all-time list of left-handed pitchers’ victories.

Sabathia got off to a shaky start. He walked the first two batters on nine pitches and gave up a one-out double to Logan Forsythe that scored a run to negate A-Rod’s first inning jack (career No. 662). CC caught a break when Steven Souza, thinking Gardner might catch Forsythe’s drive, tagged up at second base instead of playing it half-way down the line and was unable to score ahead of shortstop Didi Gregorius’ blistering relay to the plate that nailed the runner.

CC settled down after that and retired 11 batters in a row before surrendering his second hit, a one-out single in the fifth by Asdrubal Cabrera, who was erased on a double play. By that time, the Yankees had a 5-1 run lead that grew the next inning on Gardner’s homer.

Sabathia shows signs of tiring in the seventh in allowing solo home runs to Forsythe and Joey Butler and an unearned run, but his teammates kept pouring it on to make sure the run support was sufficient.

There were plenty of positive signs for Yankees hitters. Teixeira raised his batting average from .212 to .239. Headley had four RBI. Beltran’s 2-for-5 game continued his heating-up May in which he is batting .324 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in 37 at-bats following an April in which he hit .162 with five doubles, one triple and seven RBI in 68 at-bats.

The 14-hit assault helped the Yankees to a 4-0 mark at the Trop and 6-1 overall against the Rays this season.

Yankees survive late push by Orioles

Man, did Carlos Beltran ever need that. The slumping slugger with the .187 batting average entering Friday night’s Yankees-Orioles game came through big-time in the third inning with a bases-loaded double to pad the Bombers’ lead to 5-0.

It was a good hitting situation for Beltran. The Yanks had the bases loaded with two out. When the count went to 3-2, there was a chance for a merry-go-round dash if Beltran could find a gap, which he did with a hard line drive to right-center field. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner scored easily on the hit. Brian McCann, who is nowhere near their league as a base burner, gave it the old college try in attempting to score from first base but was thrown out at the plate with catcher counterpart Chad Joseph making a nice swipe tag.

Ellsbury, Gardner and McCann had combined to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the first inning off Miguel Gonzalez. The jack rabbits at the top of the order got things started again as they seem to do almost every night. Ellsbury beat out an infield single (11-game hitting streak), and Gardner doubled to left.

Alex Rodriguez scored Ellsbury with a fly ball to center. After Mark Teixeira lined out for the second out, Gonzalez fell behind 3-0 in the count and served up a meatball to McCann, who drove it into the right field seats for his third home run of the season. Mac has hit 25 homers since joining the Yankees last year, and 21 of them have come at Yankee Stadium.

Adam Warren was coasting along until the fifth inning when the Orioles made their first move thanks to a pair of walks to start the inning. Both runners subsequently scored on a single by Manny Machado and a fielder’s choice. Justin Wilson came in to get the last out of the inning, which removed Warren from consideration for a winning decision.

That left it up to official scorer Jordan Sprechman to decide which reliever was deserving of the victory if the Yankees maintained the lead, which got dicey in the sixth when Jimmy Paredes drove in two runs with a two-out single off Chris Martin.

Sprechman’s choice correctly was Dellin Betances, who got the last out of the seventh and followed that with a 1-2-3 eighth. His record went to 4-0 after Andrew Miller earned his 13th save with a perfect ninth.

The Yankees maintained their three-game lead in the American League East while the Orioles, last year’s division winners, lost their fourth straight game in New York this week to stay in last place.

Front & back combos work again for Yanks

What has become a winning formula for the Yankees — the 1-2 combination at the front of the batting order and the 1-2 combo at the back end of the bullpen — was in evidence again Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner teamed for four hits and three runs, and Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a shutout inning. Toss in two RBI apiece by Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and a decent if unspectacular start from Nathan Eovaldi and you have a 4-3 victory over the Orioles, who are having a rough week in the big city after having lost a two-game set to the Mets.

Ellsbury, who ran his hitting streak to 10 games, and Gardner each singled and scored the Yankees’ two runs in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Rodriguez and a single by Teixeira. A-Rod crushed his 661st career home run in the third off Orioles starter Chris Tillman.

Baltimore kept coming back, however, against Eovaldi. Jimmy Paredes had given the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the first inning with a home run, and after the Yankees went ahead in the bottom half a homer by Caleb Joseph in the third got Baltimore even again. In the fifth, Joseph struck again with an RBI double that once more tied the game. Eovaldi got himself out of further danger with a huge pickoff of Paredes at first base.

Doubles by Gardner and Teixeira in the fifth pushed the Yankees in front for what turned out to be for good. Lefthander Justin Wilson bailed Eovaldi out of a jam in the sixth and followed that with a 1-2-3 seventh.

Now the game was set up for Betances in the eighth and Miller in the ninth. This duo is bringing back memories of David Robertson and Mariano Rivera in similar roles not so long ago. Betances retied the side in order, finishing up with a strikeout of Chris Davis, who took the Golden Sombrero (four Ks).

Miller put the potential tying run on first base with a leadoff walk in the ninth but recovered to get J.J. Hardy on a soft liner to second and pinch hitter Ryan Lavarnway and Joseph on strikes. Miller, who was with the Orioles last year, is now 12-for-12 in saves.

A-Rod gets a mulligan for homer No. 661

You remember the old adage — if at first you don’t succeed try, try again. That applied to Alex Rodriguez Thursday night against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium where in his second at-bat he moved ahead of Willie Mays on the career home run list with No. 661.

That the blow came off Baltimore pitcher Chris Tillman should not be surprising. Rodriguez entered the game 5-for-10 (.500) with three home runs in his career against the righthander. And A-Rod nearly hit his 661st home run off Tillman in the first inning.

After Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner did their customary bit of getting on base with singles, Rodriguez stepped in and hit a drive to deep right field. As fans prepared to cheer what seemed to be a home run, right fielder Delmon Young timed his leap perfectly and caught the ball at the top of the wall. The potential three-run home run instead became a sacrifice fly that tied the score. The Yanks made it 2-1 on a rare single by Mark Teixeira that scored Gardner.

Rodriguez got another chance against Tillman in the third with two out and the score 2-2. This time no outfielder could glove A-Rod’s drive off a 1-1 pitch from Tillman. The ball landed just to the left of Monument Park in left-center field. Teixeira delayed his at-bat so that Rodriguez could make a curtain call to acknowledge the fans’ standing ovation.

Yanks’ starters picking up slack since Tanaka loss

All this talk warranted that it may be about the Yankees’ bullpen has obscured somewhat the work of the rotation. That sense of doom a lot of fans may have felt when Masahiro Tanaka went on the disabled list a week ago must be eased by the work since by the starting unit.

Yankees starters have not lost a game since Tanaka’s departure. Michael Pineda pitched eight brilliant shutout innings at Toronto Tuesday night and in retrospect it might have been better if the righthander had been allowed to go for the compete game. It was a rare blowup by the bullpen that presented unwanted drama for the Yankees.

Manager Joe Girardi had to call on closer Andrew Miller to get his 11th save after David Carpenter allowed the Blue Jays to halve a 6-0 deficit. Former Yankees catcher Russell Martin, who had the game-winning hit Monday night and two doubles earlier Tuesday night, led off the ninth with a home run, and Carpenter gave up two-out, RBI hits to Chris Colabello and Ryan Goins. The Blue Jays eventually brought the potential tying run to the plate before Miller ended it by getting Devon Travis on a fly ball.

The Blue Jays did nothing dramatic against Pineda, who raised his record to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 2.97. Can you spell ace? Pineda gave up five hits and one walk with six strikeouts in eight innings and held Toronto hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position.

It was yet another first-rate effort by a Yankees starter since the bad news on Tanaka was announced. Over the past seven games the Yankees’ rotation has compiled a 4-0 record with a 2.25 ERA in 44 innings and is averaging 6 1/3 innings per start. Yankees starters have not allowed a run over 15 innings in the first two games of the series against the Jays that concludes Wednesday night.

The Yankees provided Pineda a two-run lead before he took the mound from the first three batters, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and doubles by Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez. Ellsbury, who had three hits and is batting .358, added a two-out, RBI single in the second inning. Mark Teixeira made it 5-0 in the fifth with his 10th home run of the season, and the Yankees got another two-out run in the eighth on a single by Didi Gregorius.

All that offense did not seem necessary when Pineda was on the mound but was very welcome when Carpenter struggled to get through the ninth. Girardi would have preferred not to use Miller on a night when Dellin Betances was also unavailable but events dictated otherwise.

A-Rod’s 660th homer a game winner

Obviously, the best thing about Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run, which tied him with Willie Mays for fourth place on the career list, was that it was a game winner for the Yankees. A-Rod admitted that he was disappointed when he saw that his name was not in the starting lineup Friday night at Fenway Park as manager Joe Girardi decided to load up on left-handed hitters against Red Sox righthander Justin Masterson.

The Boston starting pitcher was out of the game by the time Rodriguez got a chance to swing the bat in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter against another righthander, reliever Junichi Tazawa. The score was tied. The count went to 3-0. The green light was on. A-Rod swung at the next delivery and drove a smoking liner over the Green Monster for his first career pinch homer and a 3-2 Yankees lead, which held up thanks to the 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

It was an eventful way to start off the trip, a victory over division and traditional rival Boston on a chilly evening at Fenway where A-Rod’s major-league career began 21 years ago. Again, the bullpen came through with four scoreless innings of one-hit, three-strikeout relief. Miller secured his ninth save to preserve a winning decision for fellow reliever Esmil Rogers, who pitched a shutout seventh.

CC Sabathia went the first six innings and was dependable if not spectacular. The lefthander allowed only two runs but caught big breaks when potential RBI doubles bounced over fences to keep two other runners from scoring. Sabathia walked two batters and struck out three and remains winless for the season.

The Yankees got Sabathia off the hook in the seventh when his catcher, Brian McCann, tied the score with a two-out, RBI single, a rare clutch hit for the Yankees on a night when they stranded 12 base runners. Their first run was also delivered with two out, on a double by Carlos Beltran in the first inning.

The Red Sox took the lead in the fourth on Allen Craig’s first home run of the season. But it would be another home run that altered the course of the game for the Yankees.


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