Results tagged ‘ Brandon Laird ’

Pettitte roughed up by former team

The Astros, appearing at Yankee Stadium as an American League team for the first time, had a rude welcome Monday night for former teammate Andy Pettitte. Houston stunned the crowd with a three-run rally in the first inning after two were out.

Pettitte spent three seasons (2004-06) with the Astros before returning to the Yankees in 2007. In his only previous start against Houston June 11, 2010, Pettitte earned his 200th career victory. Recent call-up Austin Romine got his first start of the season behind the plate for Pettitte.

The noise began off Pettitte with a two-out single to center by Brandon Laird, who got into 25 games for the Yankees in 2011, the year that Pettitte retired from the game only to come back to the Yankees the following season. Chris Carter singled sharply to left, which brought up Pettitte nemesis Carlos Pena.

You would think that a free-swinging, left-handed batter like Pena would be a pigeon against the left-handed Pettitte. Not so. Pena took a .326 batting average with six home runs in 43 career at-bats against Pettitte into the first-inning plate appearance and improved on it with a line single to right for Houston’s first run.

Andy continued to struggle as he walked Ronny Cedeno on four pitches, which loaded the bases. Carlos Corporan, the Houston catcher, drove in two more runs with a double to right. Even the third out of the inning, a liner to shortstop by Matt Dominguez, was well-struck. Pettitte got off to a shaky start in the second when he hit Robbie Grossman with a pitch, but that was rectified when Jose Altuve grounded into a double play.

Pena struck again in the third with two out as he tripled off the center-field wall. It was his third career triple in 45 at-bats off Pettitte and raised his career average against him to .356. Pena was stranded, however, as Cedeno flied out to left to end the inning.

If most of these Astros names sound unfamiliar, you are not alone. Houston has the lowest payroll in the league and entered the game with a 7-18 record, the worst in the AL. The Astros did not look that bad against Pettitte. They scored two more two-out runs in the fourth inning on successive, RBI doubles by Altuve and Brandon Barnes. Pettitte had not allowed more than three runs in any of his previous four starts.

He departed in the fifth after giving up a one-out double to Cedeno on a ball that hit the third base bag, hopped over Jayson Nix and down the left field line. Both runners Pettitte left on base upon his departure ended up scoring on a wild pitch by Adam Warren and a two-run homer by Corporan, who had four of the Astros’ 17 hits in their 9-1 victory.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him without his slider,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s a swing-and-miss pitch for him, but it wasn’t there for him.”

“Not to give us a chance to win this game makes me sick to my stomach,” Pettitte said.

Pettitte’s ERA grew from 2.22 to 3.86. It was that kind of night for Andy.

A-Rod a late scratch with sore surgical knee

While Yankees manager Joe Girardi was letting his bullpen handle Wednesday night’s season finale, he planned to put out his regular lineup against the Rays because of the wild-card race that has gone down to the wire between Tampa Bay and Boston.

However, before the game Alex Rodriguez was scratched due to a sore right knee, the same one that he had surgery on in July that shelved him for 38 games. A-Rod was originally slated to play third base and bat fifth. Girardi went with September call-up Brandon Laird at third and batted him ninth moving everyone else up one spot with Swisher batting fifth.

Girardi recently flip-flopped Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira in the third and fifth spots in the order against right-handed pitching. Against Tampa Bay lefthander David Price, Girardi returned Teixeira to the 3-hole and batted Cano cleanup, which could also be the plan in the postseason.

Tex put a dagger into the Rays’ playoff hopes by belting a grand slam in the second inning to give the Yankees and rookie starter Dellin Betances a 5-0 lead. It was Teixeira’s first homer in 33 career at-bats against Price.

Tampa Bay got off to a shaky start as the usually sure-handed Ben Zobrist booted a ground ball by Cano that gave the Yankees an unearned run in the first inning. It was Zobrist’s first error at the position in 66 games.

Girardi also made some news with the announcement – frankly that almost everybody suspected – that Ivan Nova will start the second game of the American League Division Series after CC Sabathia works the opener. The identity of the third starter is still to be determined.

Yanks in middle of Red Sox-Rays fight

While they have clarified their postseason situation by clinching the American League East title and guaranteeing home field advance in the Division Series and League Championship Series, the Yankees nonetheless find themselves in the middle of a race for a playoff berth.

The wild card slot is still up for grabs among two of their AL East competitors, the Red Sox and Rays, and the long-shot Angels of the AL West. The Yankees continued Boston’s September slide with a 6-2 victory in the afternoon portion of the split-bill doubleheader Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Rays won at home against the Blue Jays to move to a half-game behind the Red Sox in the wild-card standings.

Had the Red Sox lost the night game Sunday, the nine-game lead they held over Tampa Bay Sept. 4 would have completely evaporated. The Red Sox may have saved their season by overcoming a 3-0, first-inning deficit and winning, 7-4, in 14 innings on Jacoby Ellsbury’s third home run of the day to retain their one-game lead for the wild card.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Rays because they have to play the Yankees in their final three games at Tropicana Field while the Red Sox finish up at Baltimore. So the Yankees are still involved in this mix. In the meantime, they are getting a lot of positive vibes about their pitching as they prepare for the postseason. After Freddy Garcia pitched six shutout innings Saturday, A.J. Burnett turned in his best performance in more than two months in the Sunday matinee.

The Stadium crowd of 49,541 bestowed a standing ovation on Burnett as he left the mound with two out in the eighth inning after limiting the Red Sox to two runs and five hits – two of them home runs by Ellsbury, who had three of the hits off the righthander. Burnett walked two batters and struck out six and for a nice change of pace he did not hit a batter, throw a wild pitch or allow a stolen base.

This was an A.J. Burnett start out of 2009, his first season in pinstripes when he was 13-9. His curve was a huge weapon Sunday as Burnett got his record back to .500 at 11-11. It was only his third victory in 15 starts since June 29 but his second straight winning decision. The timing could not be better.

CC Sabathia, who threw a simulated game Sunday and declared himself ready to go, will start Game 1 of the ALDS Friday night at the Stadium against an opponent yet unknown. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has yet to reveal his postseason rotation but Sabathia in Game 1 is a given.

It is also expected that Ivan Nova, Sunday night’s starter who pitched 6 1/3 innings and got a no-decision, will get the ball in Game 2, although that is not a certainty. Burnett and Garcia are in a competition for the other postseason starting assignments with Bartolo Colon and Phil Hughes, who will make their cases in the Tampa Bay series.

The Yankees solved Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball Sunday behind veterans Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Brett Gardner and Jeter, who bunted for hits in the first inning, each scored without a hit. Gardner came home on an error by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jeter on a wild pitch to put the Red Sox in an early, 2-0 hole.

Posada, batting cleanup for the first time since 2009, hit his fourth career homer off Wakefield, a two-run shot in the third. The crowd ate it up, and Jorgie responded with a curtain call. What a far cry from that May 14 Yanks-Red Sox game when Posada objected to batting ninth and asked out of the lineup. Talk about ancient history.

Jeter added two more hits, a single and a double, that brought his batting average to .300 for the first time since after the second game of the season when he was at .333 on 2-for-6. Jeter was batting .260 when he came off the disabled list July 4. He has hit .338 since then. As late as Aug. 10, the Captain was hitting .271. Over his past 37 games, he has batted .372. DJ got to .299 twice late last month but dipped as low as .292 Sept. 17. Jeter’s current hot streak covers six games in which he has 11-for-22 (.500) with 2 doubles, 1 home run and 4 RBI.

The Yankees’ clinching gives Girardi a chance to rest regulars and give youngsters a chance to get some major-league experience. Perhaps the most pleasant aspect in that regard Sunday was the defensive work at first base by Brandon Laird, who made several sparking plays.

In the nightcap, the Yankees got outstanding relief work until Scott Proctor came on in the 14th and gave up a hit and a walk before Ellsbury connected. Unfortunately, the Red Sox bullpen had an even better night as they held the Yankees to one hit over eight shutout innings.

It was another extra-inning loss for the Yankees, who are 4-11 when going past the ninth, the worst record in the league and the third worst in franchise history, trailing only the 1-9 record of 1933 and the 3-9 of 1949.

The Yankees finished the home season with a 52-29 mark, tied with the Rangers for the best in the AL. The regular-season attendance of 3,653,380 and average of 45,107 per game led the AL, which marked the ninth consecutive season that the Yankees have drawn the most fans at home. This year’s 20 sellouts were the most in the three-year history of the current Stadium.

Sloppy field produces sloppy play

At about 2:30 Wednesday morning, some 15 minutes after a game that started at 11:08 Tuesday night ended, Yankees manager Joe Girardi joked that perhaps his team and the Orioles should have just stayed on the field at Yankee Stadium and played another game. That might not have been a bad idea the way Wednesday turned out for the Yankees.

The game had the look very much of the second games of regular doubleheaders when managers have to rest some regulars. The lineup Girardi trotted on to the field Wednesday contained only two regulars, third baseman Alex Rodriguez and right fielder Nick Swisher, leaving the skipper with a bench of players who had combined for 10,294 career hits (including 1,387 home runs) and 24 All-Star Game selections.

Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner eventually entered the game as pinch hitters or runners and remained in the field, but they were not enough to prevent a 5-4, 11-inning loss to the Orioles that ended the Yankees’ six-game winning streak and ran their record in extra-inning games to a disturbing 4-8, including 1-3 against Baltimore. Those are the three of only four games the Orioles have taken from the Yankees in 17 meetings this year. They have one more game remaining, a rainout makeup (what else?) Thursday at Camden Yards. The weather forecast in Baltimore also calls for rain, as if these teams haven’t seen enough of that in the past fortnight.

The water-logged conditions at the Stadium resulted in some pretty sloppy play. The Yankees committed four of the six errors in the game, including two by shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who has 18 in 97 games. An error by September callup Brandon Laird in the second inning allowed a run to score.

A mix-up in communication between Rodriguez and Nunez in the third let a player reach base and turned into a run when Nolan Reimold homered later that inning. Nunez’s second boot ignited the Orioles’ rally in the 11th when they went ahead on a single by Mark Reynolds, an unlikely hero (1-for-6, 4 strikeouts). That was Baltimore’s only hit in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position as they stranded 13 base runners.

It was another mixed-bag of an outing from A.J. Burnett, who gave up four runs and seven hits and threw three wild pitches in six-plus innings. Burnett’s wild pitch total for the season is up to 23, which ties the club record set by Tim Leary in 1990. Burnett is winless in his past four starts and has only one victory in 12 starts since July 4, a period in which his ERA has gone from 4.05 to 5.27.

On the plus side, A-Rod drove in more than one run for the first time in 18 games since June 25 with his first-inning double that plated two. Jesus Montero continued his impressive start with a two-run single off the right field auxiliary scoreboard in the fourth for the Yankees’ other runs. The rookie is batting .353 with two homers and five RBI in 17 at-bats over his five games.

Appendectomy fells Pena

It was not the happiest of birthdays for Yankees infielder Ramiro Pena, who turned 26 Monday while being in the hospital. Pena underwent an emergency appendectomy and had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Pena’s injury leaves the Yankees a bit skinny in the infield. They recalled Brandon Laird from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but his flight to Tampa was delayed so the Yankees were short-handed in the opener of the four-game series at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. With Alex Rodriguez on the DL after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Eduardo Nunez is playing regularly at third base, so Pena had been the Yankees’ utilityman in the infield.

There has been something of an epidemic of appendectomies this year. Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday and White Sox designated hitter Adam Dunn had their appendixes removed earlier this season. While recovering from rotator cuff surgery, Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain also had an appendectomy.