Results tagged ‘ Brandon Morrow ’

Nova could pitch his way out of rotation

Ivan Nova’s hopes of being in the Yankees’ rotation in the postseason were probably dashed Thursday night when he could not get through the fifth inning at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Of course, the Yankees have to get to the postseason first, which was not helped by their losing to the Blue Jays, 6-0.

Nova gave up four earned runs, six hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He was wounded by a two-run home run by Brett Lawrie in the third inning and a two-run double by Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth. The extra-base hits raised the season total against Nova to 87, the most yielded by any pitcher in the majors this season and by any Yankees pitcher in their history. The previous club mark of 86 was set in 1989 by Andy Hawkins, but he pitched 38 more innings than Nova.

The struggling outing came on the heels of a start five days ago when Nova pitched only 2 1/3 innings against the Athletics at Yankee Stadium and allowed three earned runs and five hits. The righthander’s earned run average has bloated to 5.02. Over his past 11 starts, Nova is 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA. He has allowed 75 hits, including 11 home runs, in 60 innings over that stretch.

Toronto starter Brandon Morrow was in complete control in his seven innings as he got 13 outs in the infield to go with three strikeouts. Brad Lincoln and Darren Oliver supplied a scoreless inning apiece as the Yankees were shut out for the sixth time this year. Robinson Cano had three hits and Russell Martin two, but the rest of the batting order went 0-for-22.

The Yankees wasted an opportunity to gain ground in the American League East on the Orioles, who were not scheduled. The Yankees’ lead over Baltimore is down to one game again with six games remaining for each team. The Blue Jays are doing a good job of playing spoiler. Toronto split a four-game series with the Orioles before beginning a four-game set against the Yanks with a victory.

With the race as close as it is, the Yankees cannot speak openly about postseason play. If they do qualify for the playoffs, the Yanks are likely to go with a four-man rotation. Nova’s recent starts would appear to put him behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte.

Mo will go for save No. 602 in final homestand

The Yankees wheezed their way to the end of a 4-city, 11-day, 10-game trip through Baltimore, Anaheim, Seattle and Toronto and were lifeless in Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Yanks were 4-6 on the arduous trip with four walk-off losses but had a couple of highlights with Mariano Rivera earning career saves Nos. 600 and 601 to tie Trevor Hoffman’s major-league record.

Mo can try to make the record his own at Yankee Stadium where the Yankees will play eight games over the next seven days on the last regular-season homestand of the season. To say it will be good to get home is a major understatement.

With the Rays continuing to encroach on the Red Sox’ lead in the wild-card race and pushing Boston 4 ½ games behind the Yankees in the American League East, manager Joe Girardi had the opportunity to rest some players Sunday, which he did by giving three regulars the day off. Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira weren’t even used in pinch-hit situations as the Yankees went down meekly to Brandon Morrow, who pitched eighth brilliant innings, and Frank Francisco, who worked the ninth for his 16th save.

Against Morrow, the Yankees scratched out only four hits – three of them in the infield – and a walk while striking out eight times. Eduardo Nunez, who played second base as Robinson Cano was the designated hitter, had three hits, including a double off Francisco in the ninth, but was thrown out on the bases trying to stretch his second hit into a double. Nunez was the only one of the Yankees to get to second base, which he did twice.

Freddy Garcia had his third straight poor outing and was undone by two home runs from Adam Lind, who had a monster series (6-for-12, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBI, 3 runs). Garcia did not get through the fifth inning. He has allowed 15 earned runs and 21 hits, including six homers, in 12 1/3 innings (10.95 ERA) over his past three starts in which his season ERA has swollen from 3.09 to 3.77.

Garcia’s early exit allowed Girardi the chances to see some relievers who are auditioning for postseason roster spots. The most impressive was lefthander Raul Valdes, who began the year with the Cardinals and was claimed off waivers by the Yankees Aug. 16 and pitched at Double A Trenton. He entered the game in the sixth with one out, the bases full and Lind at bat. Valdes got him looking at a third strike and retired Edwin Encarnacion on a ground ball to end the threat. It was one bright spot in a gloomy day for the Yankees.

Too much Bautista

Single, double, walk. That’s not an ideal way for a pitcher to begin his first major-league start. The Yankees staked Ivan Nova to a 1-0 lead Monday night at Toronto in the top of the first only to have the rookie righthander threaten to give it away and more by loading the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning.

Nova got a huge boost from Brett Gardner, whose strong throw home after catching a medium fly ball by Vernon Wells nailed Fred Lewis at the plate for a double play that thwarted the rally. Nova handled the third out himself by striking out Adam Lind.

It turned out to be an impressive debut by Nova at a time when the Yankees could use some help in the rotation with A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez struggling. Nova eventually lost the lead in the third on a two-run home run by Jose Bautista, which is no crime. After all, Bautista leads the majors in homers with 40. The Yankees tied the score again in the sixth, but Bautista took David Robertson deep in the eighth to create a final score of Bautista 3, Yankees 2.

Bautista was in the middle of things a lot in this game. Leading off the sixth, he took umbrage to a pitch up and in from Nova, which led to some jawing between the two and benches emptying but no punches thrown. Nova retired Bautista in that at-bat, but the Toronto right fielder gained a measure of satisfaction with the bomb off Robertson and celebrated with a pointedly slow trot.

Other than the first home run by Bautista, there was much the Yankees could like about Nova’s first start. He stayed cool after the first-inning jitters and gave up six hits and one walk with three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Manager Joe Girardi pulled Nova after he gave up an infield hit to Wells after the Bautista confrontation. It was as much to calm the young pitcher down and have him leave in a positive frame of mind rather than simply an early hook.

The Yankees were actually fortunate to have kept this game close. Toronto starter Brandon Morrow, who came within one out from a no-hitter in a 17-strikeout game against the Rays earlier this month, was overpowering and had 12 strikeouts in six innings. Both his walks came back to haunt him. Morrow walked Nick Swisher with one out in the first, and one out later Robinson Cano doubled him home. With two down in the sixth, Morrow walked Cano, who scored on a double by Jorge Posada.

The Yankees had trouble sustaining an offense. They hit into three double plays.

In a way, the umpires had a worse game than anybody. Plate ump Jerry Meals had several beefs with players over his ball-strike calls, which came to a head in the sixth when he ejected Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar and then did the same to manager Cito Gaston. Swisher and Curtis Granderson also had issues with Meals.

In the third, Bautista home run might have been a solo job except that Escobar got an infield single on what was a questionable call at first base by umpire Mark Wegner. Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira struggled to keep his left foot on the bag as he stretched for shortstop Eduardo Nunez’s throw. TV replays seemed to verify Teixeira’s claim that he toed the bag, but Wegner ruled otherwise.

It was not the best way for the Yankees to open their series against the Blue Jays, who they will face eight more times before the end of the season, including the final series in the last week of September. The Yankees lost a game, but it looks like they may have found a pitcher.

Strategy still works for Yanks

As Pete Seeger used to sing, “When will they ever learn?”

There it was again, in the eighth inning Sunday at Toronto, as weird a single frame as the Yankees have played this year. A manager decided it was a good idea to walk Mark Teixeira to load the bases and face Alex Rodriguez using strategy designed to create a force at every base and keep the possibility of a double play in order.

Except for one thing – this has never worked. It didn’t this time, either, even though for the first time in eight plate appearances the past two years when A-Rod batted in such a situation he made an out. The Yankees got a run out of it anyway because Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor bounced a splitter for a wild pitch that allowed Brett Gardner to dart home from third with the tying run. Rodriguez, 7-for-7 with three homers and 18 RBI in seven previous at-bats after free passes to Teixeira, was called out on strikes before Robinson Cano picked him up with a two-run single.

This was no run-of-the-mill manager who made this call. Cito Gaston won two World Series for the Jays in the early 1990s. Yet somehow he fell for the bait as so many do, even worse at a time when Teixeira has no business being put on base under any circumstances. This is the same Teixeira who is hitless in his past 12 at-bats, had a 1-for-14 series with seven strikeouts and is hitting .211 two months into the season.

The book on the Blue Jays is to get into their bullpen, which did not work for the Yankees in the first two games as they managed no runs and three hits in seven innings against Toronto relievers. But everything fell apart for the Jays pen in the eighth after starter Brandon Morrow hit Francisco Cervelli with a 1-2 pitch. Morrow was the third Jays starter to perplex the Yankees, who were held to four runs in 23 innings (1.57 ERA) by starters in the series.

Lefty Scott Downs used his first delivery to smoke Gardner on the right hand. Derek Jeter’s RBI double was one of four hits the Yankees had in 32 at-bats (.125) with runners in scoring position in the series. Cano’s eventual game winner was the last as the Yankees scored more runs in that inning – four – than they had in the previous 30 – three.

Before that, though, was a disputed strikeout of Nick Swisher that so infuriated Yankees manager Joe Girardi that he leaped out of the dugout hatless to argue with plate umpire Bruce Dreckman and got tossed. Confusion reigned in the bottom of the inning when Mariano Rivera answered acting manager Tony Pena’s call to the bullpen only to find out when he reached the mound that Damaso Marte was the reliever summoned. Mo had to wait until the ninth to notch his 13th save.

A-Rod got off a terrific line in the manager’s office watching the last inning on TV with Girardi after he was lifted in the field for Ramiro Pena in the ninth due to a tight groin. The first ball was hit sharply on the ground to Pena, who made the play. “That would have popped the groin right there,” Rodriguez said.