Results tagged ‘ Bobby Valentine ’
The Yankees could not have picked a better time to win their first game of the season when they trailed after eight innings. They had been 0-58 in those situations this year before Tuesday night when they fashioned a tremendous comeback for a 4-3, 12-inning victory over the Red Sox.
On a night when the Orioles pulled off a 1-0 victory over the Rays and James Shields (two-hitter, 15 strikeouts), the Yankees needed a come-from-behind victory to maintain their one-game lead over Baltimore in the American League East. And they did, with the guy who tied the score with a dramatic home run in the ninth inning knocking in the deciding run in the 12th.
Raul Ibanez was doused with a bucket of Gatorade after his clutch hit that brought the Yankees all the way back to clinch at least a tie for the division crown. Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller walked Francisco Cervelli and Curtis Granderson on eight straight pitches after two were out before yielding a single through the left side to Ibanez, who was allowed to hit despite facing a lefthander. It was an at-bat that might have been given to Andruw Jones, but he has struggled in the second half.
It all comes to Game 162 Wednesday night, for the Yankees against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium and for the Orioles against the Rays at Tropicana Field. The Yankees can win the AL East with a victory over Boston. Baltimore needs to beat the Rays Wednesday night and for the Yankees to lose to the Red Sox to force a one-game playoff Thursday at Camden Yards. That is what was so huge about the Yanks’ overtime victory Tuesday night.
Say this for David Phelps: he did his job. The rookie righthander took Ivan Nova’s place in the rotation and pitched into the sixth inning. He was touched for two first-inning runs but left with the score 2-1, keeping his teammates in a game they desperately wanted to win.
The Yankees kept pounding out hits but could not push another runner across the plate until the bottom of the ninth. The Red Sox made it 3-1 in the top half on a solo home run by James Loney off Rafael Soriano.
It looked grim for the Yanks, but they got a huge hit from their best pinch hitter to get even. Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey, who was sidelined for three months of the season due to right thumb surgery, gave up a leadoff single to Granderson and then served up a tasty, 1-2 fastball to Ibanez, who crushed it for a game-tying, two-run home run.
Pinch hitting may be a National League specialty, but Ibanez has some NL service time in his career. He is batting .320 with two home runs and seven RBI in 25 at-bats as a pinch hitter for the Yanks this season.
The Yankees looked like they would complete the comeback that inning when Derek Jeter lined a double into the right field corner with one out. An intentional walk to Nick Swisher and an unintentional walk to Alex Rodriguez loaded the bases. Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine made the move to Mark Melancon, who failed so miserably in the closer role earlier this season while Bailey was on the disabled list.
Not this time, though. Mark Teixeira, who had a miserable night, flied out and Robinson Cano grounded out to push the game into extras. Teixeira was 0-for-6 and grounded into two double plays. The Yankees had 16 hits but left 14 runners on base. Derek Lowe, who got important outs in a big victory Sunday at Toronto, supplied shutout innings of relief to earn his first victory with the Yankees.
And for all those critics of Yankees manager Joe Girardi for letting CC Sabathia pitch eight innings Monday night to spare his bullpen, how does that decision look now? He got 6 2/3 innings of relief combined from six pitchers. Ironically, the pitcher warming up in the pen at the end of the game was the same one who was supposed to start, Nova.
Two hours before the scheduled first pitch Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium and rain is falling steadily. The last thing the Yankees want is to have to play a split-admission doubleheader Wednesday. Tuesday night’s game is bound to have a late start. The Yanks will do whatever is in their power to get this game in.
A pal of mine suggested that the Yankees could wait until the Orioles-Rays game was over before deciding whether to play. If the Orioles lose, the Yanks would win the division and could care less about Wednesday. Playing two games wouldn’t matter in that case. But if the Orioles should win, the Yankees would want to get Tuesday’s game in at all costs.
A major goal of the Yankees is to win home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs, which is definitely possible. They are tied with the Rangers for the best record in the American League and own the tiebreaker over Texas because they won the season series. If the Yankees win home-field advantage, they would open the postseason against the Wild Card team Sunday at the Wild Card club’s field. If the Yankees win the AL East but are second to Texas in record, they would open the AL Division Series Saturday at Detroit. If they finish tied with the Orioles atop the AL East, the Yankees would travel to Baltimore for a one-game playoff for the division title. The winner would advance to the ALDS. The loser would play the Athletics in the Wild Card Playoff Friday.
Got all that?
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine’s lineup for Tuesday night had both Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia in it. The Sox took a lot of heat from people around the Orioles for the Triple-A type lineup it fielded Monday night in a 10-2 Yankees victory. Valentine sat Ellsbury because he has struggled recently against lefthanders, and the Yankees were starting CC Sabathia, against whom Ellsbury is a career .214 hitter. Pedroia was out with a fractured left ring finger. He was not supposed to play Tuesday night but talked himself into the lineup if for no other reason than to shut up the Orioles.
The Red Sox have been the longest-running soap opera in the major leagues this season.
Sabathia earned his 15th victory and reached the plateau for the eighth time and sixth season in a row. CC is the only big-league pitcher with at least 15 victories in each of the past six seasons (2007-12). He is the first Yankees pitcher to reach 15 victories in four straight seasons since Ron Guidry (1977-80). Sabathia is also one of six Yankees pitchers to do so in each of first four years with club and the first since Allie Reynolds did it in six consecutive seasons (1947-52). CC went eight innings to get to 200 innings for the sixth straight season (2007-12) and seventh time in his career, joining the Marlins’ Mark Buehrle as only lefthanders to reach the plateau each year since 2007.
So maybe a little dose of Fenway Park was all Nick Swisher needed to get his bat going again. Buried in slumps covering 28 at-bats (no hits) and 43 at-bats (two hits), Swish came to Boston where he had hit .429 with three doubles, three home runs and 12 RBI in 21 at-bats this year. On top of that, he was the Yankees’ leading hitter against the Red Sox overall this season with a .444 average, three doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI in 36 at-bats.
Following a leadoff walk to Derek Jeter, Swisher lined a first-pitch fastball from Jon Lester off the Green Monster for a double. It was Swisher’s first hit since Sept. 2. He had been hitless for the road trip before that at-bat.
It appeared at that point that the Yankees would be off and running against a downtrodden Red Sox team that is playing out the string of a disappointing season. But the Yankees got only one run out of the situation on an infield out by Robinson Cano. Lester loaded the bases with a pair of walks after two were out but got Curtis Granderson on a foul pop to first base.
The Yankees continued their pattern of scant run support for Hiroki Kuroda in the early going. They wasted a one-out double by Jayson Nix in the second inning. Lester walked the first two batters in the third, then after a visit and tongue lashing from manager Bobby Valentine came back to get two strikeouts and an infield out.
Swisher’s bid for a second double, in the fourth, was snuffed out by third baseman Pedro Ciriaco, who has tormented the Yankees all season, mostly with his bat. The rookie made a diving, back-handed grab of Swisher’s hard grounder down the line, and first baseman James Loney made a nice scoop to complete a beauty of a play that Nick could have done without. The Yankees were hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position and left seven on base over the first four innings.
Ciriaco’s 16th hit in 33 at-bats (.485) against the Yankees was a leadoff double in the third inning to start a two-run rally that thrust the Red Sox into the lead. He crossed to third on an infield out to the right side and scored on a single against a drawn-in infield by Jacoby Ellsbury. A steal of second base by Ellsbury with two out put him in position to score on a single to right by Dustin Pedroia.
The Yankees had a chance over the weekend to bury the Red Sox but failed to do so. Boston took two of the three games to get back to .500 (51-51). While the Sox are still in last place in the American League East they got the deficit below double figures (9 ½ games).
The Yanks were able to overcome a 2-0, second-inning deficit and push Sunday night’s game into extra innings. The way the Yanks’ offense has hummed this season, two runs is almost like being shut out. Russell Martin drove in both Yankees runs with his 12th home run and a single. The Yanks stranded 10 base runners in losing a series at home for only the fourth time this year.
Nine of the Yankees’ past 10 games have been decided by three runs or less, including five by one run, and they have lost all of those. For the second straight game, they came back in the eighth inning to tie the score only to lose the game eventually.
Typical of almost any Yanks-Red Sox match-up, there was some weirdness going on. After David Robertson got himself in trouble by walking Jarrod Saltalamachia to open the 10th, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks attempted a sacrifice on a fastball from Robertson that ran in on the batter. The ball appeared to hit Middlebrooks on the right hand. Plate umpire Brian O’Nora fell to the ground because the ball ricocheted off Middlebrooks’ bat and struck him in the left knee.
The ump then pleased the Yankee Stadium crowd of 48,526 by ruling the play a foul ball. That brought Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine out of the dugout to argue what he thought was a foul call. Bobby V. put on a pretty good show and earned his ejection. What got to Valentine was O’Nora’s explanation, which is where the weird part comes in. After all, how can ump call a play when he is on the ground?
“Heard it,” Valentine said. “That’s what I take exception with. No one saw anything. He just heard it. What are you going to do?”
What Middlebrooks did was even better than bunting over the runner. He singled on a 0-2 pitch. Robertson got an out as Ryan Sweeney grounded into a force play, but new Yankee killer Pedro Ciriaco hit a bloop single to right field to drive in what proved the winning run.
Ciriaco, 26, who has bounced all over the majors and minors the past 10 seasons, is hitting an even .500 with two doubles, one triple and six RBI in 22 at-bats against the Yankees this year.
So the Red Sox picked up some hope. They still have to climb over four teams, but there are two months left in the season and nine more games against the Yankees, who now turn their attention to the second-place Orioles, who come to town for a three-game set beginning Monday night.
Hiroki Kuroda continued his success at Yankee Stadium Sunday night, although he was not involved in the decision. Kuroda ended up with a no-decision thanks to his catcher, Russell Martin, who homered leading off the seventh inning and singled with two out in the eighth to drive in Andruw Jones from second base to tie the score.
The Red Sox had taken a 2-0 lead in the second inning on a two-run double by Ryan Sweeney. After that, Kuroda shut down Boston on five hits through the eighth and was supported by four double plays.
With the no-decision, Kuroda’s record at the Stadium this season remained 7-3. He lowered his ERA in home games to 2.63 and has held opponents to a .222 batting average with seven home runs and 23 RBI in 82 innings. Over his past 12 starts, Kuroda is 7-1 with a 2.46 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 84 innings.
Martin has had a miserable time of it this season at the plate, but before a national television audience on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball he had one of his best offensive games with two walks, the home run and the RBI single.
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine should have done some homework before bringing in his closer, Alfredo Aceves, to pitch to Martin. The catcher had 3-for-5 (.600) with a home run off Aceves in his career before that at-bat. So make it 4-for-6 (.667) now.
The scene changed for Ichiro Suzuki Friday night at Yankee Stadium. For the first time he wore a home uniform in his major-league career that did not have ‘Mariners’ across the breast. The pinstripes and inter-locking ‘NY’ of the Yankees seemed to fit him perfectly.
Across the way was the team that is the chief rival of the Yankees managed by the first American to sign Ichiro’s praises. It was during the 2000 World Series that Bobby Valentine, then manager of the Mets, spoke glowingly of Suzuki from the skipper’s time in Japan. Valentine at the time tried to convince the Mets to get in the bidding for Ichiro, but the front office disagreed. Suzuki ended up in Seattle, which turned out to be a very good landing place for him.
Suzuki was embraced by his manager, Lou Piniella, and a city with a sizeable Asian population. Baseball fans throughout North America came to appreciate the fleet-footed outfielder with the penchant for spraying line drives and beating out infield grounders that he totaled more than 200 hits a season for 10 consecutive years.
Valentine recalled before Friday night’s opener of the Yankees-Red Sox series that in his days in the Japanese Pacific League Ichiro’s speed was such that he was a threat to beat out ground balls to the first baseman for hits.
“He was really, really fast,” Valentine said.
That was a long time, however. The Ichiro Suzuki of today is 38 years old. He is still a threat with his speed but not as great as in previous years. It also remains to be seen how he will handle the spotlight on a daily basis. The Mariners team he broke in with, in 2001, won 116 games and was a postseason team that lost to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
The Mariners have not been back to the playoffs since. Except for the All-Star Game at AT&T Park in San Francisco in 2007 when he electrified a national television audience with an inside the park home run and two other hits to earn Most Valuable Player honors, Suzuki has not been on the national stage all that much. You don’t see the Mariners on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball as often as we once did when Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez were still in Seattle.
Ichiro cannot escape the spotlight now. The Yankees are in first place in the AL East and as such a major contender for a possible berth in the World Series. They are hoping Suzuki will be a big part of that quest.
“I’m confident New York is not going to be a big thing for him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “This guy has been there before. He is going to be on nationally televised games a lot.”
It all starts Friday night with the Bleacher Creatures’ roll call, which is something he knows about, even from Seattle. It seems that Yankees fans that came to see them play at Safeco Field did their version of the roll call before those games. Suzuki is bound to appreciate the Stadium version a lot better.
One of the strengths of the 2012 Yankees is how they have overcome injuries. Much has been made in this weekend series at Fenway Park about the makeshift lineups that manager Bobby Valentine is throwing out there because of injuries to key Red Sox players, but the Yankees have not been exactly running on all cylinders, either.
And yet the Yanks have the best record in the major leagues just past the midway point of the season, due in large part to the contributions of players filling in for those on the disabled list. What better example could there have been than the matinee of Saturday’s split-admission twin bill with Freddy Garcia and Andruw Jones reaching back into their past glory to put their stamps on a 6-1 victory.
Garcia, who was banished from the rotation three months ago, has been given a second chance as a starter with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the DL, and he has responded with two straight quality starts. The righthander pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season in his longest start (6 2/3 innings) over a calendar year and held the Red Sox to five singles, a double and two walks with five strikeouts to post his first victory as a starter this year.
Granted, Boston’s lineup won’t make anyone think of its 2004 or ’07 World Series champions, but Garcia had the kind of stuff that might have handled those squads as well. Freddy’s fastball was in the upper 80’s, which made his breaking stuff more effective. Considering that Pettitte will be out probably until around Labor Day, Garcia could become a fixture in the rotation for a while.
Jones, who along with Raul Ibanez has made up for the nearly season-long loss of left fielder Brett Gardner, supported Garcia with two solo home runs and a splendid play at the base of the Green Monster in the sixth inning that became a stylish double play at the expense of Adrian Gonzalez.
One day after winning a game without hitting a home run, the Yankees left the yard four times Saturday afternoon. Jones was part of two back-to-back homer innings for the Yankees. He followed Nick Swisher’s three-run bomb in the first with a home run and went yard again in the fourth in front of Jayson Nix, who played shortstop to give Derek Jeter a half-day off as the designated hitter. Swisher’s homer ended a hitless stretch that had reached 17 at-bats.
The Yankees’ four-run first gave Garcia a comfort zone. Unlike teammate Hiroki Kuroda, who blew a 5-0, first-inning lead Friday night in a game the Yanks eventually won, 10-8, Garcia protected the early bulge. The only run he allowed came in the fourth on successive singles by David Ortiz, Gonzalez and Mauro Gomez.
Jones added another solo homer in the nightcap, a sloppy, 9-5 Yankees loss in which they committed four errors. Three more first-inning runs, on Mark Teixeira’s 15th home run, makes it 14 first-inning runs for the Yankees in five games this season against Boston. Phil Hughes failed to hold the lead, and one-day call-up Cory Wade continued to have problems as the Red Sox batted around in both the sixth and seventh innings to produce seven runs.
Garcia and Jones are just two examples of players who have plugged holes for the Yankees. Cody Eppley (2.74 ERA), who pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, has been an effective situational right-handed reliever in the absence of Joba Chamberlain and while David Robertson was on the DL. And the panic the Yanks felt at first following the knee injury to Mariano Rivera back in May has subsided with Rafael Soriano stepping in for 20 saves in 21 opportunities.
Think also of the recent career week of reserve outfielder DeWayne Wise and the season-long steadiness of veteran corner infielder Eric Chavez and you have the ingredients that have kept the Yankees from tumbling down the standings despite the injuries they have sustained.
I remember covering a Yankees-White Sox game at U.S. Cellular Field May 12, 1996 in which the Yankees fell behind, 8-0, in the first two innings and thinking that a lot of teams would have folded after that. But they didn’t. The Yankees slowly fought back with a run here and two there and took the lead with a five-run sixth inning highlighted by a bases-clearing double by catcher Joe Girardi and went on to win, 9-8. I thought I would never see such a game again.
Five years later, I was in Cooperstown, N.Y., for the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend and was watching a game on television in which Lou Piniella’s Mariners took early leads of 12-0 and 14-2 over the Indians. Lou emptied his bench and came to regret it. Cleveland clawed back to win, 15-14, in 11 innings. This was the year Seattle tied the major league record with 116 victories. If the Mariners had not blown that 12-run lead, they would have won 117 and owned the record all by themselves.
Crazy stuff, right? Neither of those occasions can match what happened Saturday at Fenway Park as the Yankees overcame a horrible start by Freddy Garcia and the inability to solve Red Sox starter Felix Doubront to completely obliterate a 9-0 deficit for an outlandish 15-9 victory.
The game was so lopsided that Fox-TV turned away from it in the seventh with the score 9-1 Boston to telecast the ninth inning at Seattle’s Safeco Field where the White Sox’ Phillip Humber got the last three outs of the 21st perfect game in major league history.
By the time Fox returned viewers to the action at Fenway, the Yankees had closed to 9-5 on a grand slam by Nick Swisher and were still rallying with two runners on base for Mark Teixeira, who had homered in his previous at-bat.
That was the only damage the Yankees did in six innings against Doubront, who gave up only three other hits, all singles, and had seven strikeouts. The lefthander’s pitch count was 99, so you know what happened, of course. Yep, for no other reason he was taken out of the game. Bobby Valentine, say hello to Lou Piniella.
The Yankees wasted no time celebrating Doubront’s departure by attacking Boston’s porous bullpen. They loaded the bases against Vicente Padilla with one out on singles by Russell Martin and Eduardo Nunez and a walk to Derek Jeter.
Swisher went opposite field and cleared the Green Monster for the salami. A double by Robinson Cano chased Padilla, and an error by shortstop Mike Aviles put another Yankee on base before Teixeira, batting left-handed against righthander Matt Albers, also poled the Wall for his second homer of the game, and suddenly it was 9-8.
All that work Tex did in the off-season playing with his swing to consider hitting to the opposite field and against the over-shift he often sees is staring to pay off. He extended his major-league record of home runs from both side of the plate in the same game to 13 times. And Texeira was not done with that second dinger.
He contributed a two-run double in the eighth as the Yankees pushed together two seven-run innings to turn a blowout that had become a nail biter into a blowout again, this time for them. Swisher also doubled in two runs in the eighth to match Teixeira with a six-RBI game. Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez joined Tex and Swish with three hits apiece. Russell Martin, who is pulling out of a season-long slump, had two hits and two RBI.
It marked only the fifth time in club history that the Yankees came back from a nine-run deficit to win. In games like this, however, it is always more painful for the losing team than satisfying for the winning team. The best thing the Yankees did Saturday was to make the 4-10 Red Sox question whether the collapse last September was really a fluke and that perhaps despite a new manager getting back into contention in the American League East may be beyond their reach.
On a day the Yankees learned that Michael Pineda will not be joining them soon, Freddy Garcia suffered another poor start that might have loosened his grip on a spot in the rotation. Manager Joe Girardi continues to support Garcia, but that may be only because Pineda and comeback kid Andy Pettitte are not yet ready to join the club.
Fox-TV talkers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver tried to get Girardi to consider moving David Phelps out of the bullpen and into the rotation, but the skipper wouldn’t bite. I don’t blame him. Phelps got smacked around a bit also Saturday, although not nearly as much as Garcia was, and has found a nice niche in long relief for the Yankees.
That does not change the fact that Garcia has to get his act together. He couldn’t get through the second inning at Fenway Park and put the Yankees into a 5-0 hole that grew to 9-0 through five innings before Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine did the Yankees a huge favor and took Felix Doubront out of a game that went from blowout to nail biter.
Garcia’s ERA after three starts is 9.75 as he has allowed more earned runs (13) than innings pitched (12) and 20 hits. Fortunately for him, Saturday’s game was at Fenway Park where no lead is ever safe, which the Yankees proved with a late-game comeback that actually took Garcia off the hook as the Yankees miraculously took the lead in the eighth inning.
The Yankees got revenge for their forefathers Friday by raining all over the Red Sox’ parade on the centennial of Fenway Park’s opening. On that April 20 date in 1912, five days after RMS Titanic perished in the North Atlantic, the Red Sox beat the Highlanders, 7-6, in 11 innings.
The loss extended their season-opening losing streak to six games in what would become the worst season in the history of New York’s American League franchise. Is it any wonder that after a 50-102 record that the club took on a different name, the Yankees, and a different uniform from the one the 2012 version wore to commemorate the Boston yard’s 100th anniversary?
All the pomp and circumstance fell victim to the reality of the Red Sox today, a floundering team that is trying to recover from that September collapse last year with a new manager who already has alienated some players in his own clubhouse. Bobby Valentine heard his share of boos from the Fenway faithful whenever he walked on the field to make pitching changes.
The Yankees have a long history of ruining things for the Red Sox, and the 6-2 victory Friday was the latest. It got off to shaky start for Boston. The Yanks and Red Sox may have worn replica uniforms of the period but not replica equipment. The second baseman’s glove worn by Dustin Pedroia was a lot bigger than that of his 1912 predecessor, Steve Yerkes, but it could not contain Derek Jeter’s leadoff popup that popped out for an error.
A wild pitch by Clay Buchholz put Jeter in scoring position. Alex Rodriguez drove him in from second base with a single to center. After that, the Yankees clouted five home runs off Buchholz, who has been something of a punching bag for them over the year, and got a strong six innings from Ivan Nova to disappoint a Fenway turnout of 36,770.
Buchholz fell to 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA for this season and 2-4 with a 5.84 ERA in his career against the Yankees, who have batted .314 with a .551 slugging percentage off the righthander. Buchholz has allowed 58 hits, including 11 doubles ad and 11 home runs, and 20 walks in 44 2/3 innings against the Yankees.
There was very little of the usual buzz associated with Yankees-Red Sox games. Two home runs by Eric Chavez and one apiece by Rodriguez, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin quieted the crowd. A-Rod’s homer was career No. 631 as he passed former Mariners teammate Junior Griffey for fifth place all-time. Ahead of him is Mount Rushmore: Willie Mays at 660, Babe Ruth at 714, Henry Aaron at 755 and Barry Bonds at 762. The Yankees are starting to muscle up with nine home runs in the past two games.
Jeter singled in the second inning for career hit No. 3,111, pushing him past boyhood idol Dave Winfield into 18th place on the career list. Next up the ladder at 3,141 is another Hall of Famer, Tony Gwynn.
Nova ran his winning streak dating to June of last year to 15 games. He gave up seven hits, including a home run by David Ortiz, but did not walk a batter, struck out five and limited Boston to one hit in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position. On a day when Andy Pettitte had another good outing in a minor-league start on his comeback trail, Nova at 3-0 with a 3.79 ERA is giving evidence that he does not intend to be the starting pitcher whom Pettitte will replace.