Results tagged ‘ All-Star Game ’

Yanks have major workload after ‘vacation’

SAN DIEGO — Carlos Beltran quickly reminded reporters that at 39 he is not the oldest player on either All-Star squad. American League teammate David Ortiz of the Red Sox is 40, the same age as Beltran’s Yankees teammate, Alex Rodriguez. National League pitcher Bartolo Colon of the Mets is older than all of them at 43.

“I’m great, man,” Beltran said. “I feel happy. I feel blessed. I’m 39 years old. Most of the guys here, other than Bartolo and David — I’m the third oldest player in the All-Star Game. Just being able to be here is gratifying and, for me, it’s motivational.”

Beltran certainly earned his ninth All-Star selection with a strong first half in which he has led the Yankees in all three Triple Crown categories — batting average (.299), home runs (19) and RBI (56). Relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller earned their All-Star berths as well.

Considering the Yankees only played .500 ball (44-44) to the break it is a credit to all three that they earned the trip here to Petco Park, one of baseball’s most striking facilities in the city with the most pleasant weather in the United States.

The AL earned home field advantage in the World Series with a 4-2 victory. Betances and Miller were among the 10 pitchers AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals employed in the game. Betances gave up a hit and threw a wild pitch in the seventh inning but did not allow a run and had two strikeouts. Miller had a rougher time of it in the eighth. The lefthander loaded the bases on two hits and a walk with two out and needed relief from the Astros’ Will Harris, who ended the threat with a called strikeout of the Cardinals’ Alemys Diaz.

The All-Star break is baseball’s vacation, even for those who travel to the game. Beltran’s nagging hamstring limited him to no more than one at-bat. It was doubtful that he would play the field, but he actually manned right field for the sixth and seventh innings as a replacement for the Red Sox’ Mookie Betts. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has gotten Beltran at-bats as the designated hitter, which has relegated a slumping A-Rod to the bench. In his only plate appearance, Beltran flied out to center field.

Once vacation is over, however, the Yankees have to get back to the business of trying to work their way into contention for the AL East title or at least one of the wild card entries. They are 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Orioles in the division and 5 1/2 back of the second wild card berth. They have quite a few clubs to climb over to accomplish their annual goal of reaching postseason play.

“It has to happen,” Beltran said. “It has got to be this; it has got to be in the second half. We have to find a way to play better, man. I know I have said this all through the first half, but I do believe we have what it takes to compete and be contenders in our division. But we have to show it. We haven’t shown it yet.”

Beltran also recognizes that the upcoming homestand after the break that includes visits by two division leaders (Baltimore and NL West leading San Francisco) after a series with rival Boston could be a do-or-die stretch of games. Already there is debate about whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers at the non-waiver trade deadline of Aug. 1. Beltran and the Yankees’ No Runs DMC trio of relievers that also includes Aroldis Chapman could be helpful to any contender should general manager Brian Cashman decide to move any of them for needed prospects.

“I’m prepared for anything,” Beltran said. “I love where I am, but at the end of the day, we understand that we don’t know what route the team is going to take. I do believe that home stand will be an important one.”

Gregorius sparks Yankees’ comeback victory

The Yankees showed signs of life Thursday night in a 5-4 victory over the Indians in the first game of a four-game series leading into the All-Star break. It represented a change on the trip in that the Yanks lost the series openers in both San Diego and Chicago to clubs inferior to Cleveland, which has a comfortable lead in the American League Central.

The Yankees went on to lose each series to the Padres and White Sox and would like nothing better than to reverse that against the Tribe and their formidable rotation. Former AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who was named as a replacement pitcher on the AL All-Star squad, was to start Friday night against Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Chad Green, who pitched so well last Sunday in a 6-3 victory at San Diego that he replaced Nathan Eovaldi in the Yankees’ rotation.

The Yankees overcame a 2-0 deficit by striking in the middle innings with two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth against Trevor Bauer (7-3). Ivan Nova, who improved to 6-5, gave up solo home runs to Jason Kipnis and rookie Tyler Naquin in the third.

Didi Gregorius, who has been the Yankees’ most consistent hitter the past two months, began the comeback in the fifth with his 10th home run. Chase Headley and Rob Refsnyder followed with singles, and a two-out knock by Brett Gardner tied the score.

The same group chased Bauer in the sixth. One-out singles by Starlin Castro, Gregorius and Headley put the Yankees in front. A sacrifice fly by Rob Refsnyder and a two-out single by Jacoby Ellsbury increased the Yanks’ lead to 5-2.

The Indians were not finished at that point, however. It took the No Rums DMC unit of the bullpen to calm matter after the Tribe’s Carlos Santana and Kipnis laced doubles off Nova, who let in the second run of the inning with a wild pitch.

Dellin Betances finished that inning with two groundouts and withstood a two-out single and stolen base by Naquin in the seventh before Andrew Miller supplied a 1-2-3 eighth and Aroldis Chapman collected his 17th save by helping himself with a stretch at first base to take a throw from Castro for the final out. Indians manager Terry Francona challenged the umpire’s call, but it was upheld after a video review.

The Yankees are doing quite well in that element of the game. They successfully overturned both of their manager’s challenges Thursday night and have overturned two calls in three of their past six games, going 2-for-3 Wednesday at Chicago and 2-for-2 last Saturday at San Diego. Before to this stretch, the Yankees had lobbied twice in the same game on only one occasion since the review system was implemented for the 2014 season and were 1-for-2 April 14, 2014 at Toronto. The Yanks had not won two challenges in a game until this stretch.

Since June 28, the Yankees have overturned eight of their past nine replay challenges and 13-of-20 (65.0%) this season (three stands, four confirmed). From 2014-15, the Yankees had a major-league best 77.6% success rate on replay challenges (58 challenges, 45 overturned), leading the majors in success rate in both seasons.

With his 10th homer, Gregorius established a career high. His previous best was nine last year in 155 games, 70 more than the Yanks have played in ’16. Gregorius has homered in four of his past eight games. He has multiple hits in five of 10 games since June 27 and is hitting .381 with nine runs, three doubles, four homers, seven RBI and two stolen bases in 42 at-bats. Since June 14, Gregorius has produced a slash line of .369/.384/.655 with 18 runs, four doubles, one triple, six home runs, 18 RBI and three steals in 21 games and 84 at-bats to raise his season average 30 points to .296, its highest level since April 12 when he was hitting .333.

Gregorius is the fourth Yankees shortstop to hit at least 10HR before the All-Star break (since 1933, when the All-Star Game was first played). The others were Derek Jeter, who did it six times (1998-99, 2002, ‘04-05, ‘09), Roy Smalley (1983) and Frankie Crosetti (1936).

Gregorius is also one of five major-league shortstops hitting .290 or better with 10 home runs. The other four were all picked for the All-Star Game: the Indians’ Francisco Lindor, the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez, the Dodgers’ Corey Seager and the Giants’ Aledmys Diaz.

Teixeira not overwhelmed by all the heat

Mark Teixeira saw his share of blazing fastballs last week. At the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, he faced the Reds’ hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman and ended the game by swinging through a 103-mph heater from the game’s hardest thrower.

So after that, what is a 98-mph fastball to Teixeira? Mariners reliever Fernando Rodney, another of baseball’s muscle men among pitchers, got ahead in the count 1-2 on Teixeira with 98-mph gas with two out in the eighth inning Sunday. Rodney then made the mistake of throwing the same pitch in the same location on the next delivery, which Teixeira crushed to right field for a home run that broke up a tie game and sent the Yankees toward a 2-1 victory.

There were an abundance of contributions Teixeira made to this victory, which increased the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to four games over the Orioles, who moved into second place Sunday and will arrive at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to open a three-game series.

Teixeira had two other hits in Sunday’s game, both singles, including a knock in the sixth inning off Felix Hernandez that sent Brett “White Shoes” Gardner to third base from where he scored on a clutch, two-out single by Carlos Beltran, who was fresh off the disabled list, that tied the score. Tex also made a dazzling catch leaning over the railing behind first base on a ball hit by the dangerous Nelson Cruz for a big out in the top of the eighth.

The home run was Teixeira’s first hit off Rodney in 10 career at-bats against the righthander, who lost his closer job last month and has been used in a set-up role ever since. Tex’s play on Cruz helped the Yankees’ set-up reliever, Dellin Betances, get through the eighth in which he allowed two walks. The homer created the winning decision for Betances (6-2), thanks to Andrew Miller’s 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.

Although he was not involved in the decision, CC Sabathia had his second straight encouraging outing. He gave up one run, six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings. Pitching for the first time in 11 days, Sabathia appeared strong despite the 92-degree heat. CC worked both sides of the plate, utilizing the cut fastball he has been working on and a hard-biting slider.

Sabathia’s only troublesome inning was the fifth when he gave up singles to Jesus Montero and Chris Taylor, who were sacrificed to third and second bases, respectively, by .158-hitting catcher Mike Zunino.

Austin Jackson singled to center for one run as Taylor stopped at third. He stayed there, too, as Sabathia came back to strike out Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano, who had combined for four home runs and seven RBI over the previous two games. Justin Wilson stranded a runner at third base in the seventh before the late-inning combination of Betances and Miller did their magic.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi talked with Sabathia before the All-Star break and reminded him of his importance to the staff both as a performer and a motivator.

“He is the one guy who has been there,” Girardi said, referring to pennant races among pitchers in the rotation. “We need him to be big for us. The ability is there. It has been a matter of consistency of pitches. He expects to do well and works hard at his trade. He understands this is his time of year.”

Teixeira continues to be a prime candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors. His 23 home runs and 63 RBI exceed his output in those categories for all of last year (22 homers and 62 RBI in 123 games). Of his 23 home runs this season, 12 have either tied the game (four) or given the Yankees the lead (eight), and of his 74 hits this season, 40 have gone for extra bases (17 doubles, 23 homers).

Another Comeback Player of the Year candidate, Alex Rodriguez, singled in the first inning for his 3,023rd career hit to tie Lou Brock for 24th place on baseball’s all-time hits list. A-Rod is batting .320 in 41 games and 147 at-bats at home this season . . . Over his past 15 games since June 16, Beltran is batting .340 with six runs, five doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 15 games and 50 at-bats . . . The Yankees have a 6-1 record this season in games started by former Cy Young Award winners.

A-Rod’s homer leads to bullpen formula

The timing of Alex Rodriguez’s 19th home run of the season Friday night could not have been better. A-Rod drove a 1-0 pitch from left-handed reliever Joe Beimel (0-1) into the Yankees’ bullpen with one out in the seventh inning that unlocked a 3-3 score.

The round-tripper, career No. 673, allowed manager Joe Girardi to utilize his winning bullpen combination by bringing in Dellin Betances to work the eighth inning and closer Andrew Miller the ninth. Each did his job and the Yanks had a 4-3 victory over the Mariners in front of a Friday night, sellout crowd of 47,086 at Yankee Stadium.

Home runs made up a big part of both club’s offenses. Kyle Seager took Masahiro Tanaka (6-3) deep twice to account for all of Seattle’s runs. Tanaka allowed only three other hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings to earn his second consecutive victory.

Chris Young continued his torrid hitting against left-handed pitching with a home run in the second inning and a double in the fourth, both off Seattle starter Mike Montgomery. Young scored the Yanks’ second run on a single through the middle by Chase Headley in the fourth.

Against left-handed pitching this year, the righty-swinging Young is batting .365 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 14 RBI in 85 at-bats. Against righties, Young is a .178 hitter with four doubles, five home runs and 13 RBI in 129 at-bats. With switch-hitting Carlos Beltran on the 15-day disabled list, Young and lefty-swinging Garrett Jones have formed a nice platoon in right field.

Rodriguez also had a part in the Yankees’ fifth-inning run that had tied the score. He led off with a single and after a walk to Mark Teixeira came home on a single by Brian McCann. A bigger inning was thwarted as Young flied out and Headley grounded into a double play. The Yankees made seven outs in a row before A-Rod’s tie-breaking homer in the seventh.

Fresh from his scoreless inning of work Tuesday night in the All-Star Game at Cincinnati, Betances handled the eighth inning flawlessly with two strikeouts and an infield out. Miller, on the other hand, had to deal with some drama in the ninth.

The lefthander retired the first two batters on ground balls to third base, but pinch hitter Mark Trumbo lined a two-strike pitch to left field for a single. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon then turned to Jesus Montero as a pinch hitter.

The former Yankees prospect who went to Seattle in the trade that brought Michael Pineda, Saturday’s starter, to the Bronx, has been largely a bust for the Mariners. Called up from Triple A Tacoma eight days ago, Montero had a chance to seek revenge against the Yankees, but he struck out as Miller chalked up his 19th save.

The Yankees held the Mariners’ 3-4 hitters in check. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz were each 0-for-4 with the latter striking out three times.

The Yankees’ victory in their first post-All-Star break game allowed them to open up some ground in the American League East. Their lead swelled to 4 1/2 games over the Rays and Blue Jays. Toronto pulled into a tie with Tampa Bay by beating the Rays Friday night. Meanwhile, the Orioles, who come to the Stadium next week, fell a game below .500 (44-45) with a loss at Detroit. At 49-40, the Yankees are the only team in the division with a record above .500.

Betances does his part in AL All-Star victory

CINCINNATI — American League manager Ned Yost of the Royals came through for Dellin Betances. Aware that Betances never got out of the AL bullpen at last year’s All-Star Game at Minneapolis, Yost told the righthander the seventh inning would be all his Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Betances did his part in the AL’s 6-3 victory that guaranteed home field advantage in the World Series to the league, although that did not help Yost last year as his Royals lost Game 7 at home to the Giants. Blame that on Madison Bumgarner.

The Yankees’ set-up reliever got through the seventh unscathed, much like he has during the regular season. Working with a 5-2 lead thanks to a two-run rally in the top of the inning that was fueled in part by teammate Mark Teixeira, Betances retired Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford on a ground ball to second base. After walking Cubs rookie outfielder Kris Bryant, Betances came back to strike out Giants second baseman Joe Panick, the former St. John’s University standout, and set down Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock on a grounder to third.

In the top of the seventh, Teixeira grounded out to the left side that pushed the Orioles’ Manny Machado to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by the Rangers’ Prince Fielder. Teixeira had a rougher time in the ninth inning as he made the final out of the game striking out on a 103-mph fastball by the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman.

Brett Gardner, the Yankees’ other representative in the game, also had a tough night. He was called out on strikes in both of his at-bats, in the fifth inning against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and in the eighth against former Yankees teammate Mark Melancon, now the closer for the Pirates.

It was also announced during the All-Star festivities the Franchise Four for each of the 30 clubs in a vote of fans. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America took part in setting up the ballot of eight players from each franchise (full disclosure: I was the BBWAA voter assigned to the Yankees).

It should come as no surprise that the Yanks’ Franchise Four were the team’s Mount Rushmore: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. It is pretty hard to break through that quartet. Younger fans may wonder about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera considering all the club records they have, but the other four men helped shape the franchise and are among the most decorated players in baseball history.

For the record, the eight players on the Yankees’ ballot in addition to the four were Jeter, Rivera, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. Believe me, it was hard to leave players like Bill Dickey and Don Mattingly off that list. This was one of those promotions where the Yankees were hurt because of the richness of their history.

There was a nice moment before the game where the four men voted the game’s greatest living players came onto the field — Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. I had three of those players on my ballot but chose Yogi over Koufax in a close call. Some might say that Berra belonged there more than Bench, but even Yogi told me once that he thinks JB was the best catcher who ever lived.

MLB, union to support youth baseball initiative

CINCINNATI — While officials were hopeful that a series of severe thunderstorms that hit this area Monday would not interfere with the Home Run Derby at night on the eve of the All-Star Game at Great American Ballpark, Major League Baseball in conjunction with the Major League Players Association announced plans to allocate $30 million towards a youth baseball and softball initiative throughout North America entitled “Play Ball.”

Commissioner Rob Manfred made the announcement at Monday’s press conference at which American League manager Ned Yost of the Royals and National League manager Bruce Bochy of the Giants announced their starting lineups, including pitchers Dallas Keuchel of the Astros and Zack Greinke of the Dodgers.

“Accessibility is an essential step toward not only strengthening the connection with fan, but also developing talent at the amateur level,” Manfred said. “Through initiatives like Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, the MLB Urban Youth Academies and the Breakthrough Series, Major League Baseball has provided opportunities for thousands of young people to play the game and showcase their skills. This joint commitment with the MLBPA and its current and former members is a significant step toward expanding our focus on ensuring the future growth and prosperity of our sport.”

The commissioner also singled out Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira for his tireless efforts on behalf of the Harlem RBI youth program in New York. Teixeira, a member of the AL All-Star team along with teammates Brett Gardner and Dellin Betances, attended the new conference with fellow All-Stars Chris Archer of the Rays, David Price of the Tigers, Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs and Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates.

MLB and the PA will also create a 501(c)(3) organization to accept donations from players, clubs, corporations and other interested parties to help fund programs. One of the first major programs under the initiative will be the first Elite Development Invitational, operated by USA Baseball, July 18-30 at the old Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach, Fla. Approximately 150 players, ages 13-16, will participate in the two-week program that will provide player development opportunities to top prospects from minority or underserved backgrounds.

“For as long as the game has been played, generations of major leaguers have been passionate about sharing the game they love with others, especially youth,” PA executive director Tony Clark said. “Many current and former players are already actively involved with programs designed to not only teach the game at the youth level and develop future ballplayers but also help excite the next generation of fans. This initiative will help advance and enhance those efforts. Despite their never-ending determination to preserve and grow interest in baseball, players have long known that reseeding the game at the grassroots level requires the cooperation and support of the entire baseball community. Today’s announcement is great news to all players, and we look forward to working with Major League Baseball to make serious strides to ensure that every kid in the United States and Canada who wants to play baseball has an equal opportunity to do so.”

Two Yankees farmhands made contributions in Sunday’s Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game. Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre outfielder Aaron Judge, the designated hitter for the U.S. Team, had 1-for-4 and scored a run in its 10-1 victory over the World Team. Double A Trenton catcher Gary Sanchez started behind the plate for the World Team and had a double in two at-bats.

Gardner a deserving choice for 1st All-Star selection

Okay, Yankees fans, you can back off the #VOTEGARDY campaign. Brett Gardner did not know when he hit a home run in the first inning Thursday that he had been selected for the American League All-Star squad as a replacement for Royals left fielder Alex Gordon, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list and may be out for as long as two months because of a severe groin strain.

It was not until the fourth inning when word reached Yankee Stadium that AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals had picked Gardner for the team, joining Yankees mates Mark Teixeira and Dellin Betances. By then, Gardy had racked up two more hits in another top-shelf performance that was part of their 6-2 victory over the Athletics.

His teammates had gotten into the act by wearing bald caps in support of their head-shaven left fielder, who was one of five players in the Final Vote Ballot that continues Friday. Yankees fans had been urged to support Gardner, but he was running fourth in the voting. Nevertheless, Yost made the right decision in seeing that Gardner deserved his first career All-Star berth. That does not mean he will be in the starting lineup. The Orioles’ Adam Jones, who was fourth in the fans’ vote, will get that call, but Gardner has his well-earned ticket to Cincinnati for the July 14 game at Great American Ballpark.

With three more hits Thursday, Gardner has raised his season batting average to .303. He ranks fourth in the major leagues in runs (62) and stolen bases (15) and eighth in doubles (21) and on-base percentage (.382). His .489 slugging percentage is a meaty figure for a hitter who usually bats first or second in the order. In 19 games since June 18, Gardner is batting .418 in 79 at-bats with 19 runs, seven doubles, one triples, five home runs, 12 RBI and 12 walks to raise his season batting average 41 points. His 10th home run of the year Thursday lifted his first-inning batting average to .406 in 69 at-bats with 21 runs, six doubles, two triples, two homers, seven RBI, six walks and three stolen bases.

Those are All-Star caliber stats.

Mashiro Tanaka could not hold the 1-0 lead Gardner provided as the A’s struck for two runs in the second inning aided by a catcher’s interference call against Brian McCann. Yet the doubles Tanaka allowed to Billy Butler and Mark Canha that scored the runs were the only hits off the righthander in his 7 2/3 innings.

Tanaka got 19 consecutive outs (although Butler reached base in the fourth on a third-strike wild pitch, one of the rare glitches in Tanaka’s outing). He walked one batter and struck out six to post his first winning decision in five starts since June 9 and brought his ERA down from 3.94 to 3.63. Now he will get some extra rest during the All-Star break. Tanaka also gave some rest to a bullpen that was busy in the first two games in the series as Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia did not get through the sixth inning either night.

With Tanaka mowing down Oakland hitters one by one, the Yankees were able to stay close and skip past the A’s. The Yanks tied the score against Jesse Chavez in the third on a leadoff walk to Jacoby Ellsbury and singles by Gardner and Teixeira.

Ellsbury put the Yankees in front with a two-run single in the fourth, a rally fortified with a double by Cole Figueroa, a Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up who played third base for ailing Chase Headley (right calf inflammation). Figueroa also doubled in the eighth when the Yankees tacked on two more runs on a wild throw to first base by shortstop Marcus Semien, who has committed an astonishing 28 errors in 87 games, which puts him on a pace for 51 over a full season.

In taking the series, two games to one, from Oakland the Yankees have opened up a three-game lead in the AL East over the Orioles, who did not play Thursday. The Blue Jays and the Rays both lost and trail the Yanks by 3 ½ games and 4 ½ games, respectively.

The Yankees now head to Fenway Park for a three-game set prior to the All-Star break. The Red Sox, who once seemed buried in the division (they were 10 games out June 20), are still in last place but have won four straight games and eight of their past 10 to move to 5 ½ games of first and are only a half-game behind fourth-place Tampa Bay. Boston’s recent resurgence and the steady run by the Yankees of late will add some extra juice to the rivalry over the weekend.

Major comeback by Yankees’ All-Stars

The Yankees’ All-Stars corrected themselves Wednesday night and were major factors in a 5-4 victory over the Athletics that turned into a nail biter in the last inning.

One night after going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and grounding into a double play, Mark Teixeira clubbed two home runs (Nos. 21 and 22) and made two sparkling plays in the field. He leaned into the Yankees’ dugout to snare a foul by Billy Burns for the first out of the seventh and made a sprawling stop of a hot grounder by pinch hitter Josh Reddick and dived into the bag for the final out of the eighth.

Dellin Betances, who gave up the home run to Brett Lawrie in the 10th inning Tuesday night that sent the Yankees to a 4-3 loss, was back in his familiar set-up role Wednesday night and set the A’s out in order in the eighth with two strikeouts before the Tex web-gem on Reddick.

Andrew Miller returned to his closer role after coming off the disabled list but had a wire act in the ninth as Oakland turned it into a one-run game on a two-run home run by Marcus Semien with one out. Miller struck out Burns for the second out, but a throwing error by third baseman Gregorio Petit put the potential tying run on second base. Petit got a second chance on a ground ball by Ben Zobrist and got the final out of Miller’s 18th save.

For the second straight night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the bullpen early in taking out his starter after 5 1/3 innings. CC Sabathia, who gave up two runs, seven hits and two walks with one strikeout, got his first winning decision in five starts since June 7, although his ERA is still a hefty 5.47. Bryan Mitchell finished the sixth for Sabathia, and Justin Wilson followed with a perfect seventh.

Another important substitution by Girardi was putting Stephen Drew into the game on defense at second base in the top of the seventh. Drew came to bat an inning later and won a nine-pitch duel with Fernando Abad by smacking his 12th home run of the year, not a bad total for a .179 hitter. It proved to be the difference in the game.

Jacoby Ellsbury also came off the DL and was back in the leadoff spot. He had an infield single in four at-bats. Brett Gardner dropped back into the 2-hole and reached base three times on a single and two walks.

An interesting situation may have opened up for Gardner. The Royals’ Alex Gordon, who was voted by fans as the starting left fielder for next week’s All-Star Game at Cincinnati, was carted off the field at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night after suffering a left groin strain, the severity of which will be determined by an MRI Thursday. If Gordon has to be replaced on the American League roster, Gardner stands a chance at making the team. He and Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes are two outfielders among five Final Vote candidates, so it would behoove Yankees fans to get Gardner as many votes as possible to improve his chances at being picked for the squad by AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals.

Fans may cast their votes until 4 p.m. Friday. To receive the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote mobile ballot, text the word VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages may be received following your vote. Text STOP to opt-out at any time. For help, text HELP. Voting is also open on Twitter as well Friday, using the hashtag #VoteGardy. Voting is very easy at yankees.com, so please visit that site.

Gardner needs fans’ support to make AL All-Star team

Yankees fans have an opportunity to get Brett Gardner on the American League squad for the 2015 Major League All-Star Game July 14 at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. Gardner is one of five AL candidates on the Final Vote Ballot to pick the last player on the 34-man roster.

The competition is stiff, so Gardner is going to need your help. The other candidates are Red Sox shortstop Zander Bogaerts, Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. Considering how aggressive Kansas City fans were this year in voting four of the Royals into the starting lineup, Moustakas presents a major problem to Gardner’s chances of joining Yankees teammates Dellin Betances and Mark Teixeira on the AL team.

So let’s get out the vote for Gardy. Fans may cast their votes until 4 p.m. Friday. To receive the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote mobile ballot, text the word VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages may be received following your vote. Text STOP to opt-out at any time. For help, text HELP.

Voting is also open on Twitter on Friday, using the hashtag #VoteGardy as well. Voting is very easy at yankees.com, so please visit that site.

Gardner deserves to be an All-Star. Yankees fans can make that happen.

Betances was chosen for the AL pitching staff for the second consecutive year. He did not get to pitch in last year’s game at Target Field in Minneapolis. Teixeira was able to make the team as a backup first baseman because the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, who was voted into the starting lineup in the fans’ balloting, is on the 15-day disabled list. The Angels’ Albert Pujols will start instead.

This year marks the first time since 1992 that a player from either New York club is not in the starting lineup. At that year’s All-Star Game in San Diego, outfielder Roberto Kelly represented the Yanks and pitcher David Cone, now an analyst on YES Network cablecasts, represented the Mets. Kelly played three innings in center field and had a two-run double in two at-bats. Cone pitched the fourth inning and retired the side in order with one strikeout. The AL won the game, 13-6.

All-Star balloting on-line only launched

With the Yankees off to a strong start, it is now up to fans to show their support in the All-Star balloting that began Wednesday to select the starters for the July 14 game at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.

Yankees nominees by position are catcher Brian McCann, first baseman Mark Teixeira, second baseman Steohen Drew, third baseman Chase Headley, shortstop Didi Gregorius, designated hitter Alex Rodriguez and outfielders Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. There is even room for write-ins (think Chris Young).

Paper balloting has become a thing of the past as this year’s polling to determine the starting lineups for the American and National Leagues will be on-line only. Fans may cast votes up to 35 times exclusively at MLB.com and all 30 club sites, including yankees.com — on computers, tablets and smartphones — until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time July 2.

“As we launch our annual tradition of All-Star fan voting, Major League Baseball and the Reds look forward to the upcoming celebration of the Midsummer Classic in a city known for its enduring baseball history,” commissioner Rob Manfred said. “Baseball fans represent the heart of our game, and through All-Star balloting, I am proud to bring the best that our sport has to offer to the great fans and community of Cincinnati this summer.”

The pitchers and reserves for both squads will be selected through a combination of balloting by players and choices made by the All-Star managers, the Giants’ Bruce Bochy for the NL and the Royals’ Ned Yost for the AL.

Fans may also access the ballot by texting VOTE to 89269 (United States) or 101010 (Canada) or VOTA for ballots in Spanish. Message and data rates may apply for up to five messages.

The 86th All-Star Game will be broadcast live on FOX. Fans may visit MLB.com during the game to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet.

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