Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’

Yankees miss chance to take over 1st place in AL East

It was feast or famine for the Yankees during their four-game series at Houston’s Minute Maid Park against the American League West-leading Astros. The Yankees came back from being shut out Thursday night to post a late-inning, come-from-behind victory Friday night behind the native Texans duo of Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Young. The Yanks out-slugged Houston Saturday night in a home run derby of the major leagues’ power leaders only to manage a meager two hits Sunday in failing to fortify Michael Pineda’s route-going effort.

Sunday’s loss turned the series into a split and cost the Yankees a chance to take over first place in the AL East because Tampa Bay also lost. There is quite a logjam in this division. Only one game separates four teams with the Orioles tied for second with the Yankees and the Blue Jays a half-game behind both of them. Only the Red Sox, eight games out of first place, seem buried at this point.

The good news Sunday was Pineda, who recovered from a God-awful game last week at home against the lowly Phillies when he could not get through the fourth inning and was hammered for eight runs and 11 hits. The righthander bounced back with eight strong innings Sunday in which he gave up three runs – one of them decidedly tainted – and seven hits with no walks (always a good sign with him) and eight strikeouts.

Unfortunately, Astros starter Collin McHugh was slightly better. He hurt himself with a wild pitch in the third inning that led directly to a run on a single by Brett Gardner, whose adventures in the outfield the next inning allowed the Astros to tie the score. Gardner and left fielder Garrett Jones had miscommunication on a fly ball to left-center field by Carlos Correa that fell between them. Gardner inadvertently kicked the ball as well with Correa rounding the bases. The official scorer ruled a double for Correa and a two-base error for Garnder.

A couple of years ago, I took a friend of mine who is a Mets fan to a game at Citi Field on a day the Yankees were out of town and not scheduled. The Mets’ starting pitcher that day, making his major-league debut, was Collin McHugh. Seated behind us were about a dozen of his friends and relatives from Georgia, and what a treat they got. McHugh pitched a two-hit shutout over seven innings before coming out of the game. The Mets did not score for him, however, and eventually lost the game, 1-0, to the Rockies.

McHugh never pitched that well for the Mets again and he was traded to Colorado for infielder Eric Young Jr. The Rockies eventually placed him on waivers from where the Astros scooped him up. He was 11-9 with a 2.73 ERA last year for an Astros team that lost 92 games and with Sunday’s victory improved to 9-3 albeit with a 4.51 ERA this year. Some pitchers take a while to develop.

Gardner’s single and one by Alex Rodriguez in the sixth was all the offense the Yankees could muster against McHugh, who was in position to win when the Astros broke the tie on a triple by Evan Gattis in the seventh and got a tack-on run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Jason Castro.

Just the night before, the Yankees had been in a home run derby contest against Houston. A first-inning grand slam by Brian McCann and a second-inning, two-run shot by Chris Young created a 6-0 lead for Masahiro Tanaka, who like Pineda had been coming off a poor outing (five innings, 10 hits, seven runs-five earned) in a 12-4 loss to the Tigers at Yankee Stadium.

Unlike Pineda, Tanaka did not rebound. The six-run bulge was gone by the fifth inning as he was touched for home runs by Correa, Chris Carter and Jose Altuve. The Japanese righthander looked shell-shocked when he left the game after five. His teammates rebounded for him. Mark Teixeira thrust the Yankees back in front with a two-run double in the eighth. Chase Headley led off the ninth with a monster of a drive to left-center off lefthander Tony Sipp to complete the comeback behind nifty relief work by winning pitcher Chasen Shreve (5-1), Justin Wilson and Dellin Betances (sixth save).

A third straight comeback was not in the cards for the Yankees Sunday.

Young & Eovaldi do a Texas two-step for Yanks

A couple of Texas natives had big nights deep in the heart of their home state Friday night for the Yankees.

Houston native Chris Young ended the Yanks’ 15-inning scoreless streak at Minute Maid Park by clouting a three-run home run in the seventh off previously untouchable reliever Will Harris to turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead that was upheld by three Yankees relievers.

The rally created a winning decision for starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi (7-2), who worked six strong innings under the watchful eye of fellow Alvin, Texas, native Nolan Ryan, who was seated in the front row behind the plate alongside his wife, Ruth. The Hall of Famer rejoined the Astros organization last year after leaving the Rangers.

Pitching in his home area for the first time, Eovaldi followed his sturdy outing Old-Timers’ Day with another solid performance in front of scores of friends and relatives in the crowd of 37,748. The righthander allowed two runs, five hits and two walks with six strikeouts in six innings.

And yet he was in position to be on the losing side in the game because Astros starter Vincent Velasquez was even better over the first six innings. He held the Yankees to three hits with only one base runner getting beyond first.

One out into the seventh, however, the Yankees made their move. Singles by Carlos Beltran and Garrett Jones prompted Houston manager A.J. Hinch to bring in Harris, who entered the game with a 4-0 record and 0.78 ERA. With no left-handed bat on the bench, Yankees manager Joe Girardi stayed with Young, who rewarded the skipper by putting a charge into a 1-1 cut fastball for his ninth home run of the season.

Young’s numbers this season are lopsided. He leads American League hitters against left-handed pitching (.379, eight doubles, four home runs, 10 RBI in 66 at-bats), including two hits off Dallas Keuchel, who shut down the rest of the Yankees Thursday night. Against righthanders, however, Young was batting only .177 going into Friday night’s game. By going 3-for-4 against righties, Young improved his stats to .210 with two doubles, five home runs and 13 RBI in 100 at-bats.

Minute Maid Park has become a home away from home for Young. In 25 career games there, he is hitting .410 with seven doubles, one triple, nine home runs and 33 RBI in 105 at-bats with 14 multi-hit games. It marks his highest career average in any major league park.

Young, a graduate of Houston’s Bellaire High School, extended his hitting streak to nine games since June 18 during which he has batted .471 with three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI in 34 at-bats. Over the span, Young has raised his season batting average from .220 to .271.

Once the Yankees moved in front, Girardi turned to his pen, which did a superb job. Chasen Shreve struck out the side in the seventh. After a two-out walk by Justin Wilson in the eighth, Dellin Betances was called on for a four-out save, which he handled perfectly with two strikeouts.

Brett Gardner continued his hot hitting with a double and a single and is up to .294. With Tampa Bay losing, the Yankees moved to a half-game of the first-place Rays in the American League East.

Nova good as new in return from TJ surgery

A homestand that began so promisingly and then seemed to fall apart ended on a very high note Wednesday for the Yankees as Ivan Nova made a triumphant return from Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow 14 months ago.

The Phillies, owners of the worst record in baseball, threatened to complete a embarrassing sweep of the Yankees behind veteran Cole Hamels, who seems to be auditioning for a variety of clubs in need of a quality starter. Nova followed disappointing starts by CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka with 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball against a team that had scored 22 runs over the previous two games.

Yankees pitchers were banged around for 34 runs and 44 hits in three straight losses. Nova’s outing was just what they needed, not that they could have expected it from him. Pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery do not often have so impressive a first outing as did Nova in a 10-2 victory over the Phillies.

The Yankees gave their teammate some working room by jumping out to a 5-0 lead off Hamels by the fourth inning, a continuation of their offensive combustibility throughout the homestand in which they scored 60 runs in eight games, an average of 7.5 runs per game. On the 5-3 homestand, the Yanks batted .351 with 19 home runs to offset a staff ERA of 5.50.

As for Nova, his ERA is 0.00. In his first start since April 19, 2014, the righthander allowed three hits and two walks. He had only one strikeout but kept the Phillies off base with routine outs. Center fielder Brett Gardner had nine putouts behind Nova.

Gardner also continued his ferocious hitting with an RBI single, a walk and two runs. On the homestand, he had 17-for-36 (.472) with three doubles, one triple, four home runs and 10 RBI. Gardy scored 12 runs and raised his batting average 30 points to .292.

Everybody on the Yankees hit Wednesday except for Carlos Beltran (0-for-5; there is always one player who doesn’t get to the dance floor). After missing two games because of a stiff neck, Mark Teixeira banged out three singles and knocked in two runs.

Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, Chris Young, Didi Gregorius and Jose Pirela had two hits apiece. Hamels was gone after five innings in which he allowed five runs, eight hits and three walks, and the Yankees piled it on against two Phillies relievers.

Finally, the Yankees were able to put a net over infielder Maikel Franco, who was 0-for-4 after having gone 6-for-8 (.750) with 10 RBI and five runs over the two prior games.

The Yankees are 12-4 in their past 16 home games since May 25 and have outscored opponents, 115-67, during that time. Nova’s stint was the longest stretch of scoreless innings by a Yankees pitcher in his season debut since Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez pitched eight innings of one-hit ball April 26, 2002 against Tampa Bay.

The victory coupled with the Rays’ loss to the Blue Jays inched the Yankees to one game of first-place Tampa Bay in the American League East.

Gardner back to catalyst form on homestand

Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner were a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the batting order for the Yankees the first month of the season. But since Ellsbury went on the 15-day disabled list May 20 because of a right knee strain, Gardner seemed lost without his partner.

Going into this homestand, Gardner was in a 94 at-bat stretch in which he hit .223 with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and 12 RBI while watching his season batting average slide from .291 to .262. He has turned it around the past three nights at Yankee Stadium, however, climaxed by a 4-for-5, three-RBI performance Friday night that has pushed his average back up to .277. And not surprisingly, the Yankees won all three games with Gardner back in catalyst mode.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was at a loss before the game to explain the club’s seesaw season during which they have had seemingly equal stretches of good and bad play. One thing the skipper did say that what the Yankees do when things are going good is “not giving extra outs and hitting home runs.”

They adhered to that axiom in the 7-2 victory over the Tigers. Three home runs, including Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit, against former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander powered the Yankees to their third straight victory and kept the Detroit righthander winless at Yankee Stadium in four career regular-season decisions. As for not giving extra outs, well, they came close to that but were able to rectify their lone error with a snappy play at the plate to defuse a potentially productive sixth inning for the Tigers.

The Yankees had just taken a 4-2 lead on a two-run home run by Gardner (No. 7) in the bottom of the fifth. The Yanks’ two prior homers were solo shots by Rodriguez (No. 13, career No. 667) in the first and Didi Gregorius (No. 3) in the second. In only his second start of the season after coming back from a right triceps injury, Verlander was not of Cy Young vintage.

Ian Kinsler started the sixth against Adam Warren (5-4), who had yet another strong night as a starter (8 IP, 7 H, 2R-ER, 0 BB, 7 K), with an infield single. Miguel Cabrera, who had struck out in his first two at-bats against Warren, lined a single to right field, sending Kinsler to third.

Yankees third baseman Chase Headley failed to handle right fielder Carlos Beltran’s relay for an error, but he atoned for that immediately when he retrieved the ball behind the bag and threw home to nail Kinsler at the plate on a fine tag by catcher John Ryan Murphy. Cabrera took second on the play but died there as Victor Martinez fouled out to Headley and Yoenis Cespedes grounded out.

The Yankees then pulled away with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth. Gardner was a significant part of both rallies. He got the seventh inning started by bunting for a single with one out and eventually scored on a wild pitch. In the eighth, Gardner’s two-out single to left scored Chris Young, who had doubled.

Young entered the game as a defensive replacement in center field for rookie Mason Williams, who jammed his right shoulder sliding back into first base on a pickoff attempt by Verlander in the fifth inning. Williams was examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, but no further tests were ordered.

Big homers by Gardner & Beltran spark Yanks

Miami is the only one of 30 major league teams that CC Sabathia does not have a victory against, a situation that remained after his start Thursday night. While Sabathia failed to get that first winning decision over the Marlins, he avoided being tagged with a loss, thanks to his teammates.

The Yankees came back from a 3-1 deficit with two outs in the sixth inning against Miami starter Mat Latos when rookie Mason Williams lashed his second double of the game to right-center and Brett Gardner followed by driving a 2-0 pitch to right for his sixth home run to knot the score.

The Yankees had tried to give Sabathia a big cushion with a first-inning rally that fizzled after Gardner, Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez all singled to produce a run. A one-out walk to Brian McCann loaded the bases, but Carlos Beltran struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out to shortstop.

Sabathia followed the lead of Michael Pineda Wednesday night by retiring the Marlins in order the first time through the batting order, but unlike Pineda, who also did that a second time through the lineup, CC’s no-hit bid ended in the fourth when Dee Gordon hit a liner into the right field corner and legged out a triple. After Adeiny Hechevarria struck out, Christian Yelich grounded out to second with Gordon crossing the plate with the tying run.

The Marlins took the lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Mathis. In the sixth, Giancarlo Stanton clocked his 25th home run on a drive to left off a 1-0 pitch. Sabathia did not walk a batter and struck out seven, but he was looking at a possible ‘L’ before the Yanks’ two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth.

They had Latos on the ropes several times but let him wiggle free. The Yankees stranded six base runners in the first three innings and eight through five.

Beltran, who heard his share of boos from the crowd of 38,239 at Yankee Stadium when he left five runners on base combined in the first and fifth innings, got the fans on his side in the seventh when he broke the tie with a two-run home run to left off reliever Mike Dunn.

Rodriguez also singled in the fifth for his second hit of the game and career No. 2,999. He lined out to right field in the sixth and got one more at-bat in the Yanks’ four-run eighth as they pulled away toward a 9-4 victory.

Hungry to see A-Rod get his 3,000th hit, fans booed Sam Dyson heavily when he walked him on four pitches, none of which was anywhere near the strike zone. It was the second straight walk for Dyson, who ended up being charged with four earned runs in one third of an inning. McCann’s third hit of the game drove in a run as did Chris Young with a double and Stephen Drew with a sacrifice fly.

Rodriguez got payback when he scored from third base on a wild pitch.

CC ejected from his 1st Stadium win since 2013

CC Sabathia finally ended his Yankee Stadium drought and was ejected from a game for the first time in nine years all in the same afternoon. It was an altogether pleasant day for the Bombers, who extended their season-high winning streak to six games and completed a three-game sweep of the Angels.

It was the second consecutive series sweep for the Yanks, who took three in a row last week at Seattle. Sabathia said later that he wanted to get his money’s worth in griping with plate umpire Dan Bellino, who tossed the big fella as he came off the mount in the middle of the sixth inning for complaining about balls and strikes calls. Manager Joe Girardi sprung out of the dugout in his pitcher’s defense, and he was soon gone, too.

The Yankees had taken the lead the previous inning with a four-run outburst against lefthander C.J. Wilson (this was a day for initials on the mound) and would go on to a 6-2 victory, the first for Sabathia at the Stadium since Sept. 20, 2013 in an inter-league game against the Giants. In the interim, CC was 0-6 with a 9.42 ERA in 28 2/3 innings in the Bronx. He reached a milestone in the fifth inning with a strikeout of Johnny Giavotella, career No. 2,500 for the lefthander.

Sabathia got off to a shaky start. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols touched him for solo home runs one pitch apart in the first inning. CC settled in nicely after that and kept the Angels scoreless on three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. Girardi said later that he intended to have Sabathia go back out for the seventh inning, but Bellino had other ideas when CC mouthed off about pitch location. There seemed to be a lot of griping about the umpiring in the whole series. Major League Baseball may want to take a closer look.

Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless inning apiece to get CC back in the victory column at home.

Once again, the long ball came to the Yankees’ rescue. Three more home runs Sunday gave them six in the series and 74 in 57 games. The Yankees have homered in 14 of 16 games with a total of 27 since May 22. They have 15 homers in their past six home games and 38 in 25 games at the Stadium this year.

Jose Pirela, who had doubled and scored on an infield out in the third inning, cracked his first major-league home run in the seventh. Chris Young had tied the score with a solo homer leading off the fifth. Following one-out singles by John Ryan Murphy and Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner drove a 2-0 pitch to right for his fifth jack of the year and a 5-2 Yankees lead. The Yankees are 33-11 when Gardner has homered in his career. Pirela’s maiden shot two innings later was icing.

The six-game winning streak is the Yanks’ longest since a six-gamer July 1-6, 2013. They have won a season-high six straight home games (since 5/25), their longest home winning streak since winning six straight Aug. 20-31, 2013. Their last longer winning streak at home since a seven-gamer Sept. 15-22, 2012. The Yankees’ fifth series sweep this season was their first sweep of the Angels in a series of at least three games since July 29-31, 2003 at Anaheim (3-0) and their first such sweep of the Halos at the Stadium since Aug. 29-31, 1995 (3-0). The Yankees are 11-3 in their past 14 games against Los Angeles.

Just like American Pharoah, Yanks go wire-to-wire

Fresh in the Yankees’ minds was the memory of the Angels turning an 8-1 game into an 8-7 game with a six-run rally in the ninth inning Friday night, so the Yanks broke out of the gate much the same way American Pharoah did a few minutes earlier at Belmont Park in ending a 37-year drought of Triple Crown thoroughbred winners.

The Yankees flat-out mugged Garrett Richards, who failed to make it out of the first inning. They quickly loaded the bases on walks to Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez book-ending a single by Chase Headley. American League RBI leader Mark Teixeira got his 44th on a fly ball to center field.

After Richards wild-pitched Headley home, Brian McCann launched a two-run home run to right. The Yankees weren’t finished, either. Carlos Beltran re-started the rally with an infield single against the shift. Didi Gregorius also singled on a flare to center. Center fielder Mike Trout’s throw to third base trying for Beltran hit the runner in the back, which also allowed Gregorius to get to second. First baseman Albert Pujols tried to trap Gregorius off second on a ground ball by Stephen Drew, but shortstop Eric Aybar missed the tag, as the replay showed, which reversed the umpire’s call and loaded the bases for the Yankees.

Richards had a brief reprieve when he struck out Ramon Flores, but Gardner in his second at-bat of the inning lined a single to right field for two more runs, a 6-0 Yankees lead and the end of the line for Richards. The Yankees tagged on another run in the second inning off lefthander Cesar Ramos on successive singles by Teixeira, McCann and Beltran, the last of which was actually hit off another lefthander, Hector Santiago.

Now the question was whether this seven-run lead would hold up without an onslaught similar to the previous game.

Benefiting from all the runs was Adam Warren, who has not had a bevy of run support this year. The righthander retired the Angels in order the first time through the batting order. Aybar was the Halos’ first base runner on an infield single leading off the fourth. Headley made a diving, back-handed grab of a scorching line drive by Trout, which proved an important out because Warren walked the next two batters to load the bases. He got out of the jam by getting David Freese to ground into a double play.

Santiago, normally a starter, brought some order to the Angels’ pitching with 3 2/3 shutout innings in which he allowed two hits and struck out three. Los Angeles got on the board against Warren in the fifth, although the inning could have been uglier after a leadoff double by Matt Joyce and Warren hitting C.J. Cron with a pitch. A sacrifice fly by Johnny Giavotella accounted for the run. Trout got the Angels a second run in the sixth with a home run, his 15th, to right field.

Warren nearly made it through seven innings. A two-out walk in the seventh ended his night, but he evened his record at 4-4 with lefthanders Justin Wilson and Chris Capuano mopping up. The Yankees had only one hit from the third through the seventh but picked up another run on a bases-loaded walk to Teixeira (RBI No. 45) in the eighth.

And this time the visiting ninth was tame, thanks to Capuano’s perfect inning with two strikeouts.

Angels put a devil’s scare into Yanks in 9th

Stuck in a 0-for-22 slump, Stephen Drew was benched for two games on the recently-completed Yankees’ West Coast trip and speculation was ripe that he might lose his second base job. He had two big hits in a come-from-behind, extra-inning victory for the Yankees in Seattle to give manager Joe Girardi more reason to stick with him and opened the homestand Friday night with two home runs in an 8-7 victory over the Angels.

Drew got pushed to the side a bit as the game took a weird turn at the end. Who would have thought with the Yankees up by 8-1 entering the ninth inning that Dellin Betances would get in the game and be in a save situation? And come close to blowing it?

Esmil Rogers faced five batters, did not get any of them out, and all of them scored. One hit was tainted. Chase Headley, shifted to first base in what seemed a blowout, and second baseman Jose Pirela let a popup drop between them for a single by Grant Green.

Betances did not stop the bleeding right away. He gave up a hit and two walks and, finally, an earned run for the first time in 27 appearances and 29 2/3 innings. His strikeout of Kirk Neuwenhuis was the first out of the inning — to the ninth batter! A force play at second ended Betances’ scoreless season and put the potential tying run at third base, but he ended the debacle of an inning by striking out pinch hitter Carlos Perez.

How many times have you seen it? A player hits a foul home run and despite cries from the crowd “Straighten it out,” invariably makes an out on the next pitch. It almost never happens that the hitter does indeed straighten it out.

Drew did so, however, in the second inning in jumping the Yanks out to a 2-0 lead over the Angels’ Jered Weaver. Batting with two out and a runner on first base, Drew, who showed some signs of life offensively in the recent series at Seattle, hit a loud foul near the right field foul pole. You figured at that point that might be his shot.

Then on the next pitch, Drew put another charge into the ball and it made it over the right field wall on the fair side for a two-run home run. Call it a Yankee Stadium homer if you want (it landed maybe two rows over the fence), but a homer is a homer.

Another Stadium homer came two innings later from a more regular source of power — Mark Teixeira. It also came after two were out and barely cleared the right field barrier. It was No. 17 for Tex, who is now one behind American League leader Nelson Cruz of the Mariners. Teixeira also raised his league-leading RBI total to 43.

Speaking of RBI, Alex Rodriguez took over sole possession of second place on the all-time list with No. 1,997 on a two-out single in the fifth that scored Brett Gardner, who had tripled to left-center one out earlier. A-Rod, who had four hits and is batting .284 with 11 homers and 28 RBI, has a ways to go to catch the career RBI leader, Hall of Famer Henry Aaron, with 2,297. Only 300 RBI to go.

Drew connected for his second home run, a two-run shot, with two out in the sixth that sent Weaver to the clubhouse. Fans got excited an inning later when Drew batted with the bases loaded, but he grounded out.

Considering how Drew has struggled — he is still well below the Mendoza line with a .173 batting average — the two-homer, four-RBI game offers some encouragement for the future.

Nathan Eovaldi (5-1) was rolling along for five innings until he lost the plate in the sixth and walked the bases loaded. Chasen Shreve kept the damage to a minimum with one run on an infield out and got a big strikeout of Eric Aybar to end the inning.

Drew at center of two huge late-inning rallies

Just a few days ago, it appeared that Stephen Drew was in the process of losing his job. He was benched for the last two games in Oakland only to resurface at second base Monday night in Seattle where he reached base twice with a walk and a single.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has continued to be supportive of Drew, who has spent the past two years well below the Mendoza line with a sub-.200 batting average. Girardi’s patience paid off Tuesday night when Drew avoided another hitless game with a two-out double in the ninth inning off Fernando Rodney to tie the score.

Drew’s RBI hit followed a clutch, pinch-hit single by Brian McCann that sent Chase Headley, who led off the inning with a walk. Had a pinch runner been used for McCann the Yankees might have gotten a second run on Drew’s double, but McCann had to stay on the bases because he had batted for John Ryan Murphy and would have to stay in the game to catch, which he did.

How satisfying was it to watch the third blown save in 17 tries for Rodney, who is such a showoff on the mound whenever he gets a save? Very.

Even more satisfying was the Yankees pulling out a 5-3, 11-inning victory in dramatic fashion. A three-run home run by Garrett Jones broke a 2-2 score, but the Mariners rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning on a single by former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano off Andrew Miller, who then faced major-league home run leader Nelson Cruz with two on and struck him out.

It Drew who re-started the Yanks’ 11th-inning rally following a double play with a single to right. After Brett Gardner doubled, Jones went deep on a 2-0 pitch from lefthander Joe Beimel into the right-center field bleachers.

Much was made entering this series about the offensive struggles of Cano, who nearly a third of the way through the season is hitting below .250 with only two home runs. The same could have been said about another Mariners player with ties to the Yankees, but Austin Jackson looked like anything but a struggling player by reaching base six times on two doubles, two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch.

Three of Jackson’s hits came off Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was nearly tagged with the losing decision that would have sunk his record to 2-8. To avoid having Sabathia face Jackson a fourth time, manager Joe Girardi took out the lefthander with two out and two on in the sixth inning.

Jackson handled reliever David Carpenter the same way he had Sabathia and doubled to center to score what looked for a while as if it would be the deciding run.

Jackson reached base a fifth time when he walked to lead off the ninth against Dellin Betances and quickly stole second. Cano had a chance to be the hero for the Mariners, but Betances blew him away with 98-mph petrol and kept Jackson at second base as the game went into extras.

The ninth-inning Yankees rally took Sabathia off the hook. He dealt with base runners throughout his 5 2/3 innings (nine hits, two walks) but let in only two runs as the Mariners stranded seven over the first five innings. It also spoiled Mike Montgomery’s shot at a victory in his major-league debut. The Seattle lefthander allowed one run and four hits in six innings, and that run was somewhat tainted. It was scored by Gardner, who had walked on a disputed fourth ball that replays showed he had actually gone too far around on a checked swing. Manager Lloyd McClendon and catcher Mike Zunino were ejected later in the inning for arguing a similar call in Alex Rodriguez’s favor.

CC got annoyed with Kyle Seager for trying to bunt a runner home from third for the third out of the fifth, but frankly I thought it was a smart play on Seager’s part. Sabathia may not like it, but his poor mobility should be tested more often by opponents. CC is lucky most major leaguers do not know how to bunt.

Rockets’ red glare for Memorial Day victory

It looked as if the Yankees took a cue Monday from the Rangers — after Texas left town. The Rangers scored 30 runs in a three-game sweep of the Yankees that included third-inning rallies of seven runs Friday night and 10 Saturday afternoon. The Yanks put on such a show in the first inning Monday against the Royals, who came to town in first place in the American League Central.

Yankees hitters reacquainted themselves to the cozy right field porch at Yankee Stadium with four home runs in the first two innings off Kansas City righthander Jeremy Guthrie, who was absolutely dreadful to the Yanks’ delight.

The Memorial Day crowd of 36,031 had barely gotten comfortable in their seats when Brett Gardner led off the first inning with a double and Chase Headley drove the next pitch into the right field bleachers. A single by Alex Rodriguez and a walk to Mark Teixeira set the table for Brian McCann, who knocked a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall to make the score 5-0.

And the Yankees were not finished. Far from it. Two outs later, Guthrie hit Didi Gregorius with a pitch and allowed a single to Slade Heathcott. Gardner got his second extra-base hit of the inning and the Yankees’ third home with a three-run blast for 8-0. Another three-run homer, by Stephen Drew, ended Guthrie’s day before the first out of the second inning.

Guthrie faced 16 batters and let 13 of them reach base with 11 of them scoring. Now the Yankees know how the Rangers felt over the weekend.

“We have been through some tough and ugly losses lately, so that early lead was important,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That is why baseball is more unpredictable than any other sport. We have been through this from both sides.”

This one was as upside as it gets. Nathan Eovaldi pitched into the eighth and limited the Royals to one run, and the Yankees kept pouring it on toward a 14-1 final. Headley got his third RBI of the game in the fifth inning, and Heathcott added two more runs in the seventh with his first career home run, the fifth of the game for the Yanks, all of which were hit to right field. Heathcott’s dinger came off Greg Holland, one of the toughest relievers in the majors.

“We needed this,” Heathcott said. “We hit a bit of a bumpy patch the last week or so. It was nice that we kept scoring and putting together good at-bats the rest of the game.”

Heathcott, just up this week from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help the Yankees get through the loss to the disabled list of Jacoby Ellsbury, has been the rare scent of fresh air lately. He is batting .455 (5-for-11) with a double, a homer and three RBI and has fared well defensively in center field.

His Yankees teammates did not play any games after his first major-league homer, perhaps cognizant of his hard-scrabble road to the majors following off-field issues of substance abuse. The former top prospect was dropped from the 40-man roster by the Yankees, drew no interest elsewhere, re-signed a minor-league deal with them and was returned to the roster last week.

“Guys were giving me high-fives,” Heathcott said about the reaction in the dugout. “It was great to see the veteran players — McCann, CC [Sabathia] — congratulating me. It was an awesome feeling. I was thinking, ‘Is this real?’ It’s a blessing just for me to be here.”

Heathcott was even able to get the milestone ball from a group of fans in the right field stands.

“It’s something my son [Eddie] will enjoy some day,” he said. “I thanked the fans for bringing me the ball. I gave them some balls and t-shirts. I have thought about this ever since I was six. I was just thrilled. I am thankful to everyone who had a part to helping me get to this point.”

It was also an eventful day for Jacob Lindgren, a lefthander who made his big-league pitching debut with two scoreless innings of relief (no hits, two walks, two strikeouts).

“What noticed when Lindy came into the game was that all the bullpen guys were on the outside bench,” Girardi said. “I liked seeing them pulling for him.”

Every player in the majors recalls vividly similar experiences they had to connect themselves with what Heathcott and Lindgren did Monday.

This was indeed a Memorial Day to remember.

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