Results tagged ‘ Brandon Inge ’

CC fails to match up against Verlander

The Yankees took an aggressive approach against American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander in the first inning, and it paid off for a 2-0 lead in Game 3 of the AL Division Series.

Derek Jeter went after the first pitch and singled through the middle. Curtis Granderson took the first pitch for a ball, then fouled off two pitches before driving a triple to left-center that scored Jeter. Detroit’s Comerica Park is a bit of a triples yard. There were 44 three-baggers hit there in the regular season. Only Denver’s Coors Field and Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium had more, 49 apiece. Playing at Comerica for the Tigers, Granderson led the AL in triples with 23 in 2007 and 13 in 2008. Curtis had 10 triples this year, third in the league.

Speaking of triples, the Elias Sports Bureau reports that Jorge Posada , who tripled in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, became only the second 40 year-old to triple in postseason play. The other was Hall of Famer Joe Morgan, who was also 40 when he did for the Phillies in Game 5 of the 1983 World Series against the Orioles at Philadelphia.

Alex Rodriguez remained hitless in the series but made contact to get Granderson home with a groundout to third base. The two-run lead was a nice way to get CC Sabathia started, but the lefthander was not at the top of his game. The hope was that he could settle in at some point, but his difficulty in throwing strikes pushed his pitch count up so that he was one pitch shy of 100 in five innings.

Three double plays saved CC, who walked six batters (one intentionally) over five innings. He had no more than four walks in any one start this year. One of those double plays scored a run, in the third inning when the Tigers tied the score. Ramon Santiago, who singled in the other run that inning, put Detroit ahead, 3-2, in the fifth with a double. In both cases, Santiago drove home Brandon Inge, the 9-hole hitter who batted .197 this year and has had scant career success against Sabathia (.190 in 58 at-bats) but who doubled and singled off him the first two times up.

Even worse than Inge against Sabathia is Jhonny Peralta, who has one hit in 17 career at-bats (.059) in regular season play. Sabathia came out for the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Don Kelly on a well-placed bunt. Peralta, who had grounded into a double back in the second, got a different kind of double this time, one off the wall that scored Kelly. CC was gone after Alex Avila sacrificed Peralta to third before having to face Inge a third time.

Verlander, meanwhile, just got stronger. Brett Gardner bunted for a single leading off the third but was erased on a double play. Verlander, whose fastball hit triple figures several times, struck out the side in the fifth and added two more punchouts in the sixth after Jeter had led off with a single.

Sabathia and Verlander, whose Game 1 start was suspended because of rain, were the first pitchers to start Games 1 and 3 of a postseason series since Kevin Brown for the Padres in the 1998 National League Division Series against the Astros. The previous time it occurred for an AL pitcher was Oakland’s Dave Stewart in the 1989 World Series against the Giants. There was a 12-day gap between Games 2 and 3 in that series because of an earthquake. Sabathia was the first Yankees pitcher to do it since Hall of Famer Whitey Ford lost Game 1 of the 1956 World Series at Brooklyn and came back on two days’ rest to win a complete game in Game 3 at the Stadium.

Yanks limp out of Detroit

It’s official. The Yankees are in a funk. Until Thursday, they had been the only team in the major leagues that had not lost three games in a row. Now they are not. Their first three-game losing streak came at the hands of the Tigers, who had lost seven straight games after dropping the first game of the series Monday night.

The Yankees threw away Thursday’s game, a 6-3 loss, literally. Two of the three errors they committed led directly to three runs, the deficit in the game. The Yankees’ offense was pretty active with 10 hits, including 3-for-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position, but were overtaken by a Detroit club that had only four hits.

A.J. Burnett continued the run of Yankees starting pitchers going deep into games with a seven-inning outing, and only two of the five runs off him were earned. However, one of the errors was his errant pickoff throw in the first inning that put Don Kelly, who reached base because Burnett hit him with a pitch on a count of 0-2, at third base from where he scored on Brennan Boesch’s sacrifice fly.

The Yankees took the lead in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez, who started as subs for resting Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Chavez had to leave the game, however, after suffering a bone fracture in the small toe of his left foot running out his first triple in four years. Chavez was headed back to New York to see club physician Chris Ahmad and may have to go on the disabled list.

That meant Rodriguez had to come into the game as a pinch runner, the first time he had such an assignment since his rookie season of 1995 with the Mariners when he spelled Tino Martinez. A-Rod, who had been on the bench not only resting his body but also a 7-for-50 (.140) slide, wound up with two hits and scored two runs, so maybe he is working himself back to form.

Detroit played some small ball in the sixth inning and tied the score after Ramon Santiago bunted Kelly to second base on a two-out single through the middle by Boesch, who topped off a big game in the eighth with a solo home run off lefthander Boone Logan.

The critical play came in the three-run seventh when the Tigers took control of the game. Burnett lost a 9-pitch duel with Victor Martinez, who singled to center leading off, then walked Magglio Ordonez and hit Ryan Raburn with a pitch to load the bases with none out. Brandon Inge broke the tie with a sacrifice fly, but Burnett should have been out of the inning after getting Santiago out on a bouncer to second baseman Robinson Cano playing in and Kelly on a grounder to short.

Nunez had all the time in the world to throw out Kelly but sailed his peg over first baseman Mark Teixeira. Two runs scored on the error, the second of the game for Nunez and his fifth in 22 innings in the field. For a backup infielder who is supposed to supply solid defense, this is unacceptable. Expect infield coach Mick Kelleher to work with Nunez to correct this part of his game.

Another coach with his work cut out for him is hitting coach Kevin Long. It is not a good sign when two of the three .300 hitters on the club are bench players – Nunez (.385) and Chavez (.303). Cano had two hits Thursday to get back over .300 (.303), but the Yankees had 6-for-32 (.188) with runners in scoring position and left 30 runners on base in the series.

A-Rod has role in winning rally

Sometimes it’s a scratch hit or a flare that can snap a player out of a slump and get him going on a hot streak. Maybe that’s what the chopper of an infield single in the ninth inning Monday night at Detroit was for Alex Rodriguez.

It has been tough sledding for A-Rod the past couple of weeks since he was sidelined briefly due to a strained left oblique. Rodriguez had five hits in 38 at-bats (.132) since the injury and had his batting average fall from .366 to .260 before his rally-extending single in the ninth that helped set up the tie-breaking hit by Nick Swisher.

It was just the kind of contribution A-Rod needed to feel a part of a Yankees victory, 5-3, that sent the Tigers to their seventh straight loss. Never one to take his at-bats into the field, Alex has been his usual superb self at third base. He has also been out for early hitting every day trying to find ways to work out of this recent slide.

Rodriguez said during the past homestand that he had become conscious of the oblique as he hit and in avoiding tweaking it again developed bad habits at the plate. His hit was on a high chopper that Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge failed to glove on a short hop and pushed Mark Teixeira, who had walked, to second base.

The single gave the Yankees renewed life in an inning that came close to ending before it began. Curtis Granderson, in his return to his former stomping grounds, led off the ninth against Tigers closer Jose Valverde with a walk in a 12-pitch at-bat in which the Yankees center fielder fouled off seven pitches.

Granderson further frustrated Valverde by stealing second base – almost. Grandy had it swiped, but he slid past the bag and was tagged out by shortstop Jhonny Peralta. Teixeira’s four-pitch walk re-started the inning for the Yankees, and A-Rod’s hit kept the line moving.

Nick Swisher, batting in the 5-hole for injured Robinson Cano, unlocked a 3-3 score with a single to center. Texeira beat the throw to the plate from Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson as Rodriguez raced to third. A-Rod scored an insurance run on a passed ball by Alex Avila, who otherwise had a good night with a pair of opposite-field home runs off Bartolo Colon.

Colon continued the Yankees’ stretch of quality starting pitching despite squandering a 3-0 lead. He lasted seven innings, one more than opposing starter Justin Verlander, with an economic 97 pitches. Avila’s two homers were among seven hits off Colon, who did not walk a batter and struck out seven.

It was the third consecutive impressive start for the 2005 American League Cy Young Award winner who is on the comeback trail after missing all of the 2010 season. As a starter, Colon has a 2.49 ERA with 19 hits allowed, three walks and 20 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. He has become a major part of a rotation that over the past 14 games has pitched to a 2.54 ERA and a 7-2 record while the Yankees have gone 10-4.

A.J. gets an ‘A’ in 1st outing

Perhaps the best thing that happed for A.J. Burnett Saturday came while he was sitting on the bench after an impressive first inning in which he retired the Tigers in order with two strikeouts. The Yankees struck for three runs against Brad Penny, Burnett’s former teammate with the Marlins, right off the bat and then hung another three spot the next inning on Mark Texeira’s second three-run home run in two games.

A 6-0 cushion in the second inning was just what someone like Burnett, who is atttempting to come back from a horrendous 2010 season (10-15, 5.26 ERA), needed to help his relax in his first start of the year while still battling a nasty cold.

A.J. faced a threat in the second when Miguel Cabrera led off with a double to right-center. Last year, that might have set Burnett off, but he gathered himself and struck out Victor Martinez and Brennan Boesch on impressive fastballs that were all the more effective because of the twilight. A wild pitch allowed Cabrera to reach third base, but that was as far as he went as Jhonny Peralta flied out to center.

Austin Jackson got the Tigers on the board with a home run in the third, and they put a rally together in the fifth after Boesch, Peralta and Alex Avila all singled with none out for a quick run. Brandon Inge was credited with a sacrifice despite clearly bunting for a hit, and a walk to Jackson loaded the bases.

Burnett kept the damage to a minimum as Will Rhymes grounded to Teixeira at first base for a run to cut the Yanks’ lead to 6-3. Burnett held it there by striking out Magglio Ordonez.

It was a sound effort for Burnett, whose chances for a victory improved even more when his new catcher, Russell Martin, homered with two on in the sixth to boost the Yanks’ lead to 9-3.

Swish sent

Nick Swisher got what he wanted. As weird as this whole process is in voting for the final spot on the All-Star team, Swisher cannot be faulted for his unabashed campaigning. The system practically begs for it, and there was perhaps no more willing a contender than Swisher.

A year ago, Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge and Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino formed an alliance called “Bran-Torino,” a takeoff on the Clint Eastwood flick, “Gran Torino,” in which each doubled his vote total.

Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, Swisher’s main challenger for the 34th spot on the American League squad, engaged in a similar alliance with Reds first baseman Joey Votto. This could have spelled big trouble for Swisher because Votto was a wire-to-wire winner for the National League Final Vote. In the end, Youkilis could not ride the coattails sufficiently enough to catch Swisher, who finished with somewhere in the vicinity of 9.8 million votes.

What Swisher had going for him was his own Twitter account of more than 1.2 million followers and the support of the Yankees organization, most demonstratively by his own general manager, Brian Cashman, with two personal appearances this week with Bronx youth groups tied to the “Send Swish” campaign.

For a while there, I thought Swisher’s campaign was becoming a distraction. He went into a mild slump in late June going 3-for-20 (.150) over five games just as he was telling people he’d love to go the All-Star Game. But he kicked it into gear this month, batting .393 with three doubles and a home run through Wednesday night.

The process has been criticized in many circles, but I do not have a problem with it. For one thing, it brings publicity to the All-Star Game, which is okay with me. I have always liked the All-Star Game and feel it serves a useful purpose for baseball as a public-relations engine.

I can remember in the 1970s when some American League players (Carl Yastrzemski comes to mind) year after year begged out of the game. No wonder the National League kept kicking their butts, a pattern that has reversed itself in recent years. When the proceeds of the All-Star Game were tied to building up the players’ pension fund, it was an insult for a player to turn his back on the game.

Swisher’s attitude is refreshing, as far as I’m concerned. I like the fact that a player made no bones about the fact that he saw a rare opportunity to make the team and went for it. His numbers (.298, 14 home runs, 48 RBI) warrant his inclusion. Let’s just hope AL manager Joe Girardi gets his guy in the game or we’ll never hear the end of it.

GM making the rounds for Swish

Nick Swisher may not have a stronger supporter for his “Send Swish” campaign than his own general manager. For the second consecutive day, Brian Cashman will be joining with youngsters in the Bronx Thursday to stir up votes for the right fielder in the 2010 All-Star Game Final Vote.

Wednesday, Cashman was at the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Clubs on Randall Avenue on Swish’s behalf. Cash will be at the Madison Square Boys and Girls Club’s Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse at 1655 Hoe Avenue to make one final voting push for Swisher, one of five candidates for the 34th spot on the American League squad for the All-Star Game July 13 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

Voting for the final spot ends at 4 p.m. Thursday. Swisher fell behind Kevin Youkilis Tuesday but move back ahead of the Red Sox first baseman Wednesday. Youkilis sustained an ankle injury Tuesday night at Tampa Bay, but it is not believed serious, so he shouldn’t miss much time.

The Red Sox have formed an alliance with the Reds and first baseman Joey Votto to boost their vote total. The same strategy worked a year ago when the Phillies and Tigers combined forces to get Philadelphia’s Shane Victorino and Detroit’s Brandon Inge onto the respective squads.

Swisher has no such “partner” in his quest, so it is up to Yankees fans to get him over the hump. Yankees fans are urged to “Send Swish” to the 2010 All-Star Game by voting an unlimited number of times for him at yankees.com.  Supporters of Swisher who vote online will be entered to win tickets to an upcoming Yankees game and a signed Nick Swisher baseball.  Fans are also encouraged to check out Swisher’s video at yankees.com where he reaches out to all his fans, with his bags packed, ready for a trip to the All-Star Game.

Vote now. Time is running out.

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