Results tagged ‘ American League East ’
It is clear by now that the Yankees did not enjoy reading all spring about how they were on the downside and that the Blue Jays were gearing up after a busy off-season to take control of the American League East.
All the Yankees have done is to take out their ire on the Blue Jays. The Yankees have Toronto to thank mostly for their being perched atop the division, which has been a customary spot for them since 1996. But this year with all the injuries and the scouring of what some might call the scrap heap, the Yankees were expected to topple down the standings.
Except that they have just refused to do that.
The Yankees’ 7-2 victory Saturday raised their record against the Blue Jays this year to 8-1. The Yanks are 19-15 against all other teams combined, so their record against Toronto is essential to their place in the division. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, are the only team in the AL East with a sub-.500 record (17-26) and have fallen 10 games out of first place, a far distance from where so many prognosticators forecast them.
Sure, the loss to injury of shortstop Jose Reyes and pitcher Josh Johnson has derailed Toronto some, but what club has had more devastating injuries than the Yankees? They have had 13 players on the disabled list, including seven regulars among position players and three of their starting pitchers.
That is how David Phelps, Saturday’s winning pitcher, got into the rotation and, who knows, he just might stay there. The righthander struggled with fastball command but found reinforcements in breaking pitches and posted his third straight quality start. Phelps allowed one run, six hits and three walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings to even his record at 2-2. His ERA has dropped from 5.56 to 3.83 over those three starts.
With Phelps’ fastball unpredictable, catcher Austin Romine said, “We had to mix things up.”
“I didn’t have a good curve and was not ahead in the count enough to use my changeup” Phelps said. “I had a good slider, which helped.”
Another huge help was a pickoff play in the first inning after Phelps walked two batters with one out. After striking out J.P. Arencibia, Phelps and shortstop Jayson Nix combined on a pickoff of Jose Bautista at second base for the third out of the inning.
“I knew we had a chance because I could see he was taking a big lead,” Phelps said. “That was a big play. It might have been a different inning without that the way I was stuggling, you never know.”
It looked as if it might be one of those days where the Yankees had to nickel-and-dime it for some runs when Brandon Morrow got them out in order in the first two innings. Robinson Cano had other ideas. He followed an RBI single by Brett Gardner in the third with a home run and supplied another two-run homer two innings later.
“You get the runs behind you and guys make plays behind you, and it gives you confidence that you can get the job done,” Phelps said.
One day after the middle of the lineup was nonexistent, the big bats came alive. In addition to Cano’s two bombs, Travis Hafner crushed a solo shot off Darren Oliver in the eighth.
The Yankees’ dominance of Toronto, particularly at the Stadium, goes back more than just this season. They have won nine straight home games over the Blue Jays dating to Sept. 19, 2012, 20 of the past 24 games and 23 of the past 28. The nine-game home winning streak ties their longest against the Jays of June 21, 1979 to Sept. 17, 1980. The Yanks have won the home season series against Toronto for the 10th consecutive year.
The Yankees are 18-0 when scoring first this season and remain the only team yet to lose when scoring the game’s first run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the streak is an AL record and the longest stretch of its kind by any club since the 1992 Mets started the year 18-0 when scoring the first run of the game. This is the Yanks’ longest such streak at any point in a season since 19 straight May 7 to June 6, 2011.
This is a much different Indians team the Yankees will face Monday in the makeup doubleheader at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Then again, the Yanks will be different, too. After all, three of the players in their lineup April 9, the last time the Yanks faced the Tribe, are currently on the disabled list – Kevin Youkilis, Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli.
When the final two games of the scheduled four-game set with the Indians were rained out, the Yankees were 4-4 and the Indians 3-5. Well, look at them now, each atop its division. This is something out of 1998.
The Yankees, alone in first place in the American League East by one game over Baltimore, are 19-11 since leaving Cleveland, have won eight of their past 10 series and are riding a five-game winning streak, all on the road. The Indians are 17-10 since they last faced the Yankees. The Tribe’s record dropped to 8-13 by April 28 when Cleveland fell into last place in the AL Central, but the Indians have gone into resurgence by winning 12 of 14 games since then to move into a first-place tie in the division with the Tigers. The Indians have not lost their past seven series, with five victories and two splits. They last lost a series when the Red Sox swept a three-gamer April 16-18 at Progressive Field.
In compliance with Major League Baseball’s 26th-man rule for doubleheaders, the Yankees recalled infielder Corban Joseph from Triple A Scranton. He was in the starting lineup for the first game, playing first base and batting seventh. In the second game, Yankees rookie pitcher Vidal Nuno will make his first major-league start, the first lefthander to do so for the Yankees since Chase Wright April 17, 2007 in a 10-3 victory over the Indians at Yankee Stadium. Nuno will be the first lefthander other than CC Sabathia or Andy Pettitte to start a game for them since Kei Igawa May 9, 2008 in a 6-5 loss at Detroit.
Nuno will be opposed in the second game by Indians righthander Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.70 ERA), who will make his first career start against the Yankees. They have lost three of four games year when the opposing pitcher had made his first career start against them. The losses were in games started by the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin April 18, the Astros’ Lucas Harrell April 29 and the Athletics’ Dan Straily May 5. Their lone victory was in the April 17 game started by the D-backs’ Wade Miley.
Okay, it is time now to forget all this stuff about how the American League East is not just about everybody chasing the Yankees and the Red Sox. After a lot of talk in pre-season publications that the division will have a different look and that the traditional rivals aren’t the teams they used to be, well, take a lot at the standings. The reconstituted Red Sox are in first place, and the pieced-together Yankees are right behind them.
The Blue Jays? The team that brought to Toronto all that star power from the Marlins trade plus the acquisition of last year’s National League Cy Young Award winner (R.A. Dickey) and the signing of last year’s NL batting champion, Melky Cabrera (I don’t care what Bud Selig says; Cabrera had the highest batting average in the NL in 2012), is at the bottom of the AL East with the third worst record in the major leagues.
The Yankees kept Toronto in its place with their first four-game sweep of the Jays at Yankee Stadium since Sept. 18-21, 1995, which was the rookie season of Mariano Rivera, who made it 9-for-9 in saves this year by wrapping up Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Dickey. That makes it both of last year’s Cy Young Award winners that the Yankees beat in a week’s time. They defeated the Rays’ David Price, the 2012 American League winner, five days earlier at St. Petersburg, Fla.
All those warning signals that went up when the Yankees started 1-4 out of the gate seem silly now that they won 14 of their past 19 games with contributions coming from just about everyone on the roster, particularly from some guys other clubs couldn’t wait to rid themselves of.
Take Sunday, for example. The Yankees had only four hits, but two of them were home runs off Dickey by Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay. During spring training, the Yanks signed Boesch after he was released by the Tigers and Overbay after he was released by the Red Sox. The Angels were willing to eat more than half of what was left of the sizeable contract of Vernon Wells, who has batted .379 with three homers and six RBI in seven games against Toronto this year, six of them Yankees victories.
Overbay entered the game with a 1-for-14 (.071) career mark against Dickey but ended up going 2-for-3. His third homer of the season, a two-run shot in the seventh with two out, turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead that was held up by the relief work of Boone Logan, David Robertson and the great Rivera. The long ball has haunted Dickey (2-4, 4.54 ERA), who has yielded five home runs in 36 innings.
The Yankees came from behind in all four games of the series and won two games by one run apiece and the other two by two runs each. They are 9-1 in games decided by two runs or less, 4-0 in one-run games and 14-1 when holding opponents to four runs or less.
Phil Hughes remains winless this season despite a good, six-inning outing in which he gave up seven hits and a walk (intentional) with nine strikeouts. One of the two runs he allowed was the result of three soft, two-out singles in the fourth. Hughes was once again plagued by an elevated pitch count (111), but for the first time since Aug. 7 last year he did not give up a home run in a start at Yankee Stadium. He had allowed a total of 10 homers over his previous six starts at the Stadium.
Rivera now has the highest saves total in one month for his career and has converted 32 saves in a row at the Stadium since the start of the 2011 season. Overall, the bullpen has been sensational. Over the past six games, the relief corps has held opponents to three earned runs, three walks and 11 hits in 17 innings with 24 strikeouts and a 1.59 ERA.
And, remember, the Yankees are doing all of this with five regulars out of the lineup. Francisco Cervelli last week joined Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira on the disabled list, and Kevin Youkilis with an ailing back may not be far behind. This should have been the time that the Yankees were the most vulnerable, but they have stayed near the top of the division standings while the Blue Jays have stumbled to the bottom.
The tightness in the scores of this series indicated that Toronto was not exactly blown away by the Yankees, but the losses continue to mount with a 9-17 record looking fearfully like a team pretty much buried before the first month of the season is completed. The Jays can moan all they want about the loss of All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes, but the Yankees have shown that injuries to key players do not have to be crippling.
The news keeps getting grimmer for the Blue Jays, who after all their off-season moves had been considered favorites to win the American League East. Toronto went into Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium with a 9-14 record and last-place standing in the division and had to scratch the scheduled starting pitcher, Josh Johnson, because of tight right triceps.
Inserted into Johnson’s spot was lefthander Aaron Laffey, whom the Blue Jays signed earlier in the week off waivers from the Mets. Laffey made two starts and two relief appearances for the Mets and had a 7.20 ERA in 10 innings during which he allowed eight earned runs and 16 hits but was not involved in a decision.
Johnson is the second player in the major, off-season trade with the Marlins who has gone down with an injury. Shortstop Jose Reyes is expected to be lost for up to three months with a severe ankle injury. Johnson has not exactly been lighting it up for the Jays this year. The righthander, who led the National League in earned run average three years ago, is 0-1 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts. Johnson has allowed 28 hits in 19 2/3 innings.
With Kevin Youkilis still unable to play due to persistent back stiffness, Yankees manager Joe Girardi continues to toy with his batting order, particularly against left-handed pitching. Friday night, he moved Jayson Nix into the 2-hole, which is not a bad thought considering the way Nix has hit against left-handed pitching this season (.316) and against Toronto the past two seasons.
Nix, who has done a solid job as a backup shortstop and third basemen, spent the 2011 season with the Blue Jays and batted only .169 in 136 at-bats. The Yankees signed him for a utility role in 2012, and Nix has given his former club headaches ever since. With two hits Thursday night, Nix lifted his average against the Blue Jays this year to .417 in 12 at-bats and over the past two seasons to .370 with five doubles, three runs batted in and 12 runs scored.
Vernon Wells, who spent 12 seasons with the Blue Jays before he was traded to the Angels in 2011, has also wreaked havoc against his former club. Wells connected for his seventh home run of the season Thursday night, a majestic shot over the center field wall. In four games against the Jays this year, Wells had batted .421 with five runs, three home runs and four RBI in 19 at-bats.
Over an 11-game stretch against Toronto dating to Sept. 19, 2011, Wells has been a .340 hitter with nine runs, four doubles, five home runs and 10 RBI in 47 at-bats. It may not get any easier for the Blue Jays. Wells has batted .444 with three home runs and three RBI in seven day games this year. The Yankees have day games against Toronto Saturday and Sunday.
Nice weather has finally reached the area. You could tell the difference with all the home runs hit at Yankee Stadium Thursday night. Though it cooled off somewhat in the latter innings, a game time temperature of 65 degrees signaled the possibility that the ball would carry much better than in previous homestands when temperatures barely got out of the 40s.
Over the first four innings, five baseballs left the yard. Hiroki Kuroda, who handled the Blue Jays with ease last week at Toronto, was down quickly, 3-0, on a two-run home run in the first inning by Edwin Encarnacion and a solo shot in the second by Brett Lawrie. Encarnacion’s blow made up for a terrible series last week at Rogers Centre in which he was hitless in 12 at-bats.
But just as quickly, the Yankees struck back with the long ball against Mark Buehrle, a good sign for the team against a lefthander. Southpaws have been tough on the Yanks, particularly lately with Kevin Youkilis out of the lineup. He did not play again Thursday night because of continuing back stiffness.
Vernon Wells hit a towering drive over the center field wall leading off the second inning for his sixth home run, which tied him for the club lead. Temporarily, that is. Robinson Cano thrust the Yankees in front in the third inning with a three-run shot to right. Cano’s seventh home run this season was career No. 184, which tied him with Charlie Keller for 18th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. Next up in 17th place at 185 is Paul O’Neill.
Cano also moved up the Yankees’ career RBI list and into the top 10. His 732 RBI tied him with Elston Howard for 10th place. Give Cano credit. This was the time of year with all the injured Yankees that Cano might have felt pressure to do too much and chased bad pitches, but he has displayed patience and is off to a very productive start, batting .322 with seven homers and 17 RBI.
A lot of that has to do with the protection Cano has received in the lineup from Wells (.293, six home runs, 10 RBI) and Travis Hafner (.300, five home runs, 10 RBI), who was on the bench Thursday night with the Jays starting a lefty.
Francisco Cervelli continued the Yankees’ home run parade with a shot off the barrier in front of the left field bleachers. The catcher’s third home run of the season apparently upset Buehrle, who hit Cervelli with a pitch in his next at-bat. After yielding a single to the next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, Buehrle was taken out of the game and said something to Cervelli at third base as he headed for the dugout.
The Yankees are hopeful they can get the other Francisco, Ben, going. Hafner’s designated hitter partner has struggled. He got a hit with a bunt single that was not awarded until an umpire was overruled by one of his mates. First base umpire Chad Fairchild called Francisco out at first base on a bang-bang play. Replays indicated Encarnacion at first base may not have had control of the ball as Francisco hit the bag. Second base ump Jeff Kellogg, the crew chief, huddled the umpires together, and the call was reversed.
It was the proper call, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons didn’t think so. He got ejected by Kellogg after a heated argument. The season has not gone the way Gibbons hoped back in spring training. The Jays, who had been picked in many preseason publications as the favorite in the American League East, are 9-14 and have lost three of four games to the Yankees.
Francisco was just thankful to be standing on a base instead of walking back to the dugout. For all of Gibbons’ screaming, the play was not involved in the scoring. Thanks to the weather in the early innings, this was a home run game, and despite the perception that the Yankees are weaker in the power department their 31 homers are the most in the league.
So where is Russell Martin these days? Oh, that’s right; he took off for Pittsburgh as a free agent in the past off-season because the Pirates came up with a second year in their contract offer. Good for him; I hope he is happy.
I was thinking about Martin during the Yankees-Blue Jays game Sunday at Toronto when Chris Stewart hit a home run in the third inning and threw out Melky Cabrera trying to steal second base in the fifth.
I do not mean to pick on Martin as much as those who kept reporting all winter about how the Yankees blew it by not conceding to the catcher’s contract demands and would regret it. Look at what Stewart and Francisco Cervelli have done so far this year. Does anyone miss Russell Martin all that much?
The Cervelli-Stewart tandem was treated in a few media outlets as some sort of joke during spring training, but the duo have been a major part of the Yankees’ good start that hit a bump Sunday with an 8-4 loss. Stewart was involved in all the Yankees’ scoring innings. He got the Yanks on the board with his first home run of the season, began the two-run rally in the fifth with a single and bunted Jayson Nix to third base with one out in the sixth that preceded the sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead at that point.
In the first two games of the series – both Yankees victories – Cervelli was behind the plate and had 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles and two runs scored. He has gotten the bulk of the playing time of the two catchers, with 42 at-bats to Stewart’s 17, but manager Joe Girardi insists that they are sharing the position. However the breakdown, the catching situation has been in good hands.
Cervelli and Stewart are batting a combined .322 with a .525 slugging percentage, three doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 59 at-bats. Martin? He is hitting .216 with a .353 slugging percentage, three doubles, one home run and three RBI in 51 at-bats. Again, not to pick on the guy, but I cannot remember just when it was that Russell Martin became the second coming of Thurman Munson, which seemed to be an off-season theme in some circles.
Martin had two decent seasons with the Yankees. Last year, he showed renewed power (21 home runs) and had some memorable game-winning hits, including a huge homer against the Mets, but hit .211 for the season. Now I realize that the seamheads who adore the boutique stats don’t make much of batting average anymore, but .211 is still .211, which is not good by any measure.
Stewart had his hands full Sunday with another erratic outing from Ivan Nova, who threw 101 pitches but was gone after giving up a walk and a double to the first two batters in the sixth that the Jays turned into a four-run inning with RBI hits off relievers Boone Logan and David Phelps to regain the lead they would not relinquish again.
The leadoff walk in the sixth was to Toronto designated hitter Adam Lind. I do not know what the Yankees’ scouting report was on Lind, but they sure pitched to him carefully in the series. Lind had five plate appearances and walked in every one, including all four times he stepped to the plate Sunday.
It was nonetheless a positive series for the Yankees, who move on to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a three-game set against another American League East rival, the Rays, who swept the Athletics over the weekend at Tropicana Field.
Despite being booed loudly and repeatedly in the city where he was once a favorite, Vernon Wells will miss Toronto. He had quite series, going 7-for-15 (.467) with a double and two home runs. He also made the defensive play of the game Sunday in the third inning with a fence-climbing catch in left field to rob Edwin Encarnacion of a potential run-scoring, extra-base hit and begin a rally-killing double play.
Gardner also found Toronto to his liking, as usual. He had 5-for-14 (.357) in the series with a double, a home run, a stolen base, two runs and two RBI. Gardner is a .370 career hitter at Rogers Centre with 18 runs, six doubles, six triples, one home run and eight RBI in 30 games.
One night after they received bad news about Derek Jeter, the Yankees got positive news about Andy Pettitte. The lefthander caused concern when he was pushed back a full turn in the rotation because of back spasms. Pettitte made his first start in 10 days Friday night and looked as if he had not missed a beat.
An efficient, 90-pitch effort carried Pettitte one out into the eighth inning in the Yankees’ 9-3 victory over the Blue Jays. Andy helped make a statement of sorts for the Yankees against the Jays, whom many pre-season prognosticators identified as the favorites to win the American League East this year.
Toronto certainly made a lot of major acquisitions that has revved up Canadian fans. A crowd of 40,028 swelled Rogers Centre Friday night, but Pettitte and his teammates showed Blue Jays followers that the Yankees have no intention of disappearing in the division chase. The Yanks also showed that their acquisitions can get the job done.
The Jays are playing without major off-season pickup Jose Reyes, who is out with a leg injury, but the Yankees do not have their regular shortstop, either. Derek Jeter suffered a setback in his recovery from left ankle surgery and won’t be back in uniform until after the All-Star break at the earliest.
The uplifting performance by Pettitte was an antidote to Thursday night’s 12-inning loss to the Diamondbacks for a Yankees squad that dragged into Ontario in the wee hours. Fortunately, Andy flew ahead and was plenty rested for this start. The Yankees handed him a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Travis Hafner and a run-scoring infield out by Vernon Wells. Pettitte gave up half the lead in the bottom half, but by the time Toronto scored again the Yanks had constructed a seven-run lead.
Pettitte scattered six hits, including a thunderous home run to center field by Jose Bautista (no crime there, he can launch them) with one walk and five strikeouts in improving his record to 2-0 with a 2.01 ERA. Pettitte’s 248th career victory gave him an 88-49 mark (.642) with the Yankees following a team loss. That’s the definition of a stopper.
The Yankees gave him plenty of support, a 13-hit assault against Brandon Morrow and three relievers that featured 10 knocks for extra bases. Hafner homered and doubled. Wells and Lyle Overbay added home runs, Brett Gardner a triple, Francisco Cervelli and Ichiro Suzuki two doubles each and a double by Cano, who had three hits in all. The Yankees also took advantage of an errant throw to the plate by Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus with Wells and Suzuki scoring on the play in the third.
It was a satisfying night for Wells and Overbay, who played significant portions of their career in Toronto and were deluged by boos in their plate appearances. They got the last laughs, however, by slamming homers. Wells spent 12 years north of the border and Overbay five. They teamed to continue the Yankees’ strong run by newcomers along with Hafner.
The Yankees have batted .294 as a team with 23 doubles, one triple and 19 home runs in winning eight of their past 10 games. They lead the AL in home runs with 25. Cano has five homers in the Yankees’ 15 games. He didn’t hit his fifth homer of 2012 until the club’s 43rd game. With a 2-for-3 game, Cervelli raised the batting average of Yankees catchers to .314 in 51 at-bats. A year ago, Yankees catchers ranked 24th of 30 big-league clubs in batting at .220 in 542 at-bats.
Pettitte’s effort was another quality start for the rotation that has pitched to a 2.70 ERA in 66 2/3 innings over this stretch that has pushed the Yanks’ record to 9-6. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are 7-10, so who is chasing whom?
So maybe you cannot chew gum and walk at the same time, or in the case of Orioles center fielder Adam Jones blow bubble gum and field at the same time. An error by Jones in the seventh inning Friday night on a ball he appeared to have caught was the critical play in the Yankees’ 5-2 victory over Baltimore that gave them a share of first place in the American League East with the Red Sox, who were rained out.
The three-run rally that resulted in the Yankees’ fourth straight victory was as weird as it can get. They did not have a hit in the inning. Orioles lefthander Troy Patton entered the game after starter Miguel Gonzalez walked Francisco Cervelli to start the inning. After Brett Gardner sacrificed Cervelli to second base, the Orioles decided to walk Kevin Youikilis, who had three hits, intentionally.
Somewhat surprisingly, Yankees manager Joe Girardi allowed lefty-swinging Travis Hafner to bat against Patton, who made a huge gaff by hitting the Yanks’ designated hitter with a 3-2 pitch that filled the bases and brought up Vernon Wells. O’s manager Buck Showalter brought in righthander Pedro Strop, a Yankees punching bag, to pitch to Vernon Wells. The Yanks’ left fielder got good wood on a drive to center. Jones, a Gold Glove winner last year, made a long run to the warning track to catch up with the ball blowing a bubble along the way. For a quick moment it seemed as if Jones had ended the threat, but the ball clanged off his glove for a two-base error that cleared the bags as the Yankees unlocked a 2-2 score.
This was the same Jones who in Game 3 of last year’s American League Division Series blew a bubble with his gum while tracking a drive to right-center by Derek Jeter that fell on the warning track for a run-scoring triple.
The good fortune continued for the Yankees the next inning with their second triple play since 1969. The Orioles got a rally going against CC Sabathia after leadoff singles by Alex Casilla and Nick Markakis. Manny Machado followed with a grounder to second baseman Robinson Cano, who flipped to shortstop Jayson Nix for what looked like the beginning of a double play. But why settle for two outs when you might get three?
Nix thought he had a shot at getting Casilla going to third and threw to that base instead of first. Casilla got in a rundown and was tagged out by Youkilis, the third baseman, who saw that Machado was midway between first and second and gunned the ball to first baseman Lyle Overbay, who ran Machado toward second and then tossed to Cano to complete the 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple killing.
I ran into WCBS Radio voice John Sterling while leaving the yard later, and he told me in making the call on the play said, “Nix turns and throws to third base, why, I’ll never know.”
I must admit that I felt the same way. The Yankees had a sure double play, and you never know what can happen when a fielder throws behind a runner. Nix ended up making an alert play in spite of its unorthodoxy.
The previous triple play turned by the Yankees was April 22, 2010 at Oakland on an around-the-horn job from third baseman Alex Rodriguez to Cano to first baseman Nick Johnson on a ground ball by Kurt Suzuki. That game was a loss by the Yankees. This one might have been, too, except Baltimore did everything but hand it to them.
The Yankees took advantage of all the breaks the Orioles gave them. The players who scored the Yanks’ five runs all reached base without a hit. Orioles pitchers held the Yankees to six hits but walked six batters and hit two.
Sabathia, meanwhile, was brilliant under difficult situations with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees with a 25-miles-per-hour wind. One of the two runs off CC was not earned due to a balk, which the lefthander disputed. That second run for Baltimore that tied the score in the seventh loomed large until the bottom of the inning when Jones’ glove lost its glove and the Yankees tripled their pleasure.
The Yankees announced their 2013 spring training schedule that features 33 games, 17 of them at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla.
The Yankees will play their first spring game at 1:05 p.m. Feb. 23 against the Braves at Champion Stadium in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Yanks’ first spring home game will be at 1:05 p.m. Feb. 24 against the Blue Jays.
Due to the World Baseball Classic tournament, the 2013 spring schedule will begin nine days earlier than last year. It marks the earliest start to the Yankees’ spring training game schedule in at least 65 years. In addition to 16 Grapefruit League games, the Yankees will also be home against the Dominican Republic’s WBC team Wednesday, March 6.
Home opponents include each of the Yankees’ four American League East rivals – the Blue Jays Feb. 24, the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. March 20, the Rays at 1:05 p.m. March 24 and the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. March 27. The schedule also contains four home night games with 7:05 starting times against the Braves March 5, the Phillies March 13, the Twins March 21 and the Astros March 26. Houston is moving to the AL next year after 51 seasons in the National League.
The Yankees will also be home against the Cardinals March 11, which will mark St. Louis’ first visit to Tampa since 2006. The Miami Marlins will make their first trip to Tampa since 2005 with a 1:05 p.m. game March 15.
Season tickets for 2013 Yankees spring home games are on sale at http://www.steinbrennerfield.com or http://www.yankees.com. Individual-game spring tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 11, at the Steinbrenner Field box office, online at http://www.yankees.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.
For ticket information, fans may call (813) 879-2244 or visit http://www.yankees.com.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report Feb. 12, with their first workout scheduled for Feb. 13. Position players are scheduled to report Feb. 17, with the club’s first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb.18.
This will be the Yankees’ 18th spring training at Steinbrenner Field. The complex was renamed for the Yankees’ longtime principal owner March 27, 2008, following two unanimous resolutions supporting the change issued by the Hillsborough County Commission and the Tampa City Council. The resolutions cited Steinbrenner’s many charitable donations to youth activities, hospitals and the arts, and recognized his numerous extraordinary contributions to the area.
Forget all those scenarios about the different possibilities facing the Yankees in postseason play based on what they and Baltimore and Oakland and Texas did Wednesday. The Yanks did what they had to do Wednesday night for the best-case scenario without any assistance from anyone.
The Yankees are not only going to the playoffs but also as the top seed in the American League with the best overall record. Their convincing 14-2 victory over the Red Sox that completed a three-game sweep gave the Yankees their 13th division title over the past 17 seasons and 18th overall. They also bought some time to rest up for their 51st postseason appearance which will begin Sunday in the AL Division Series at the home park of the winner of Friday night’s Wild Card Game between the Orioles and the Rangers.
For the record, the Yankees clinched the division title while they were still at bat in the seventh inning when the Rays’ 4-1 final over the Orioles was announced. The Yanks were accorded a standing ovation from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,393. Earlier in the day, the Athletics crushed the Rangers, 12-5, to displace Texas atop the AL West and earn an ALDS date with the Al Central champion Tigers.
“We still wanted to win our game for the fans,” Derek Jeter said after the game in which he got his major-league-leading 216th hit. “They have been behind us all year.”
The Yankees may have lost all of the 10-game lead in the division they had built up by July 18 but never relinquished first place entirely. They had at least a portion of the lead for 114 days since June 12, and on the last day they were all alone atop the division and the league.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson combined to drive in 10 of the Yankees’ runs and had two home runs each as the Yankees set a franchise record with 245, besting by one the previous mark set in 2009, the last time they won the World Series.
Cano continued his steamy pace with his career-high ninth consecutive multi-hit game, a 4-for-4 gem that included his 32nd and 33rd home runs, two singles, a walk, three runs and six RBI. The second baseman batted .615 with seven doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 39 at-bats in the nine-game stretched and raised his season batting average an astonishing 20 points to .313.
Granderson, the guy who keeps telling everybody that he is not a home run hitter, smacked Nos. 42 and 43 and drove in four runs to finish the season with 105. Yankees manager Joe Girardi must not think of Granderson as a homer hitter, either, because in pinch hitting for his center fielder with rookie Melky Mesa in the seventh inning denied Granderson an opportunity to tie Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera for the league lead.
By that time, Girardi was substituting freely as if a spring-training game to give as many players as possible a chance to appear in the last regular-season game and receive the fans’ appreciation for a wonderful run that can only get better with a successful postseason that the 2010 edition of the Yankees truly earned.