Results tagged ‘ Andy Dirks ’
CC Sabathia had been every inch of his 6-foot-7 frame the Yankees’ ace down the stretch of the regular season and in the American League Division Series. What better guy to have on the hill to avert an early exit in the AL Championship Series than the big lefthander whose career record in postseason play for the Yanks entering Game 4 Thursday at Detroit was 7-1 with a 3.09 ERA?
Yet after coming within one out of pitching two complete-game victories over the Orioles in the ALDS, Sabathia’s lone outing in the ALCS was nowhere near up to par. He was hit often and hit hard, and his fourth-inning exit trailing 6-0 was a disappointing sight to Yankees fans.
They had been able to rely on him most of the year, especially in that complete-game gem CC tossed six days ago at Yankee Stadium to finally shake the Orioles off the Yanks’ tail. He even had an extra day’s rest because of Wednesday night’s rainout, although that may not have been to his advantage, since it meant Sabathia could not come back and start Game 7 if the Yankees were fortunate enough to push the series that far.
One of the six runs Sabathia allowed in his 3 2/3 innings was unearned due to an error by first baseman Mark Teixeira, but CC was not at the top of his game. The Yankees had not had the lead in this series and trailed right at the beginning of this game as well when Sabathia gave up a run on two-out singles by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young.
The unearned run came in the third, but Sabathia recovered by getting out of a bases-loaded jam. The next inning, however, CC was lit up on two-run home runs by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta before yielding a double to Andy Dirks that ended his day. As bad as 6-0 looked, it could have been a lot worse, considering the Tigers stranded eight runners over the first four innings.
Phil Hughes was working on a terrific streak of retiring batters hitting with runners in scoring position before Miguel Cabrera’s two-run double in the fifth inning knocked him out of Tuesday night’s game.
Opponents were hitless in 23 consecutive at-bats with runners in scoring position against Hughes over his past five starts. The Tigers’ two runs off Hughes in the fourth inning were on a home run by Cabrera and a double by Jhonny Peralta that scored Brennan Boesch from first base. The 22nd straight out Hughes got with a runner in scoring position was Alex Avila on a grounder to first that stranded Peralta.
All that ended in the fifth as Hughes struggled with a lofty pitch count. Singles by Andy Dirks and Austin Jackson gave the Tigers runners on first and third. Hughes made it 23 straight batters retired with runners in scoring position when Omar Infante lined out to shortstop Derek Jeter. But Cabrera followed with a liner into the left-field corner for a two-run double and a 4-2 Detroit lead.
That was all for Hughes, who toiled for 102 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. It was the briefest outing for Phil since he also went 4 1/3 innings June 20 at Yankee Stadium in a 10-5 loss to the Braves. He had previous success at Comerica Park (3-1 with a 1.93 ERA in four career starts), but not this time. Hughes did not walk a batter and struck out three but gave up eight hits.
Cabrera has been a thorn in the Yankees’ side over the years. In 38 career games against the Yanks, Cabrera is batting .370 with 10 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs and 37 RBI in 138 at-bats. This year, the Detroit third baseman is batting .355 with four doubles, five home runs and 11 RBI in 31 at-bats against the Yankees.
The Yankees came close to taking Hughes off the hook with a ninth-inning rally that eventually fell short as the Tigers held on for a 6-5 victory, their sixth in a row. The Yankees’ second loss in two nights at Detroit was their 12th in the past 18 games and eighth straight loss in one-run games.
It would have been a very satisfying finish if the Yankees had completed the comeback. There is no more annoying situation to watch in baseball than Jose Valverde closing out a game. He is the anti-Mariano Rivera, taking forever to deliver the ball and going through all sorts of gyrations. Why it is that umpires let him get away with all that stuff is beyond me to comprehend.
So to see him have to sweat through what should have been a cookie of a save was a pleasure. The key at-bat was a nine-pitch duel won by Raul Ibanez, who walked with two out to push Eric Chavez, who had singled with one out, into scoring position and bringing the potential tying run to the plate.
Ichiro Suzuki, whose run-scoring double in the seventh was his first hit with a runner in scoring position since joining the Yankees, got another clutch hit with a single to center to score Chavez. Russell Martin ripped a double to the wall in left to score Ibanez and make it a one-run game.
Third base coach Rob Thompson did the smart thing to stop Ichiro at third because left fielder Quintin Berry got to the ball quickly and returned it to the infield swiftly. Five years ago, a coach might have sent Ichiro but not now. Curtis Granderson had a chance to put the Yankees ahead but popped out and is now 0-for-10 in the series against his former team.
An eight-inning run the Tigers scored off Joba Chamberlain proved vital. It came on a two-out single by Dirks, Detroit’s 9-hole hitter who had three hits and two RBI.
The Yankees had 11 hits, but only one in 12 at-bats from the first third of the order – Granderson, Jeter (who got the hit) and Robinson Cano. Nick Swisher had two doubles and a single. Chavez, moved up to the 5-hole after a three-hit game Monday night, had two more hits, including his 11th home run. Suzuki had his first multi-hit game for the Yankees.
Freddy Garcia’s history of success in day games has abandoned him this year, just as his history of success otherwise seems to have abandoned him. Saturday at Yankee Stadium was the second consecutive start in which Garcia pitched merely 1 2/3 innings as the Tigers pummeled him for a 6-1 lead.
A week ago in a late afternoon game at Fenway Park, Garcia also lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs. That’s 11 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in day games for Freddy, whose daytime ERA is 29.70. Garcia was 6-2 with a 3.20 ERA in day games last year and had a career record in afternoon play of 55-24, a .696 winning percentage, going into Saturday’s game.
Garcia didn’t light up the radar at better than 87 miles per hour (only one pitch was that fast) and tried to fool Detroit hitters with sliders and splitters that were in the 70s. That worked to get first-inning strikeouts of Brennan Boesch and Miguel Cabrera, but Andy Dirks buried a 0-2 slider that was clocked at 78 mph into the right field seats for his first home run and a 3-0 Tigers lead.
The Tigers struck with two outs again in the second on an RBI double by Boesch and a two-run single by Cabrera, Garcia’s fellow Venezuelan who wears him out (.429 in 28 at-bats, including postseason). As Garcia, whose season ERA is a bloated 12.51, exited the game in the second inning, he heard choruses of boos as well as chants if “We want Andy” in reference to Pettitte, whose next scheduled starts in the minors on his comeback trail is Monday night.
Garcia’s outing continued a tough stretch for the Yankees’ rotation in the early going. Starters have combined for a 6.37 ERA with 140 hits allowed in 106 innings. Opponents are batting .314 with 20 home runs in 446 at-bats against the starting unit. One sign of the starters’ ineffectiveness is that David Phelps, the long man out of the bullpen, made his sixth appearance in 20 games.
In Garcia’s prior start, the Yankees came back from a 9-0 deficit for a 15-9 victory, so 6-1 may not be as hard a climb. Still, the offense cannot be expected to come back from big margins too often.