Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’
The All-Star Game will be at Citi Field in a couple of months, and there has been a lot of talk in Flushing about Matt Harvey, the Mets’ impressive rookie, perhaps getting the nod as the starting pitcher for the National League. Not to take any thunder away from Harvey, but it may not be a bad idea if the American League gave serious consideration to the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda as its starter.
Oh, sure, it’s far too early to get into that discussion. One thing is certain: when that topic does become heated, figure Kuroda to be in the middle of it, right up there with Felix Hernandez, Clay Buchholz, Matt Moore, Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and the other All-Star starter contenders.
Say what you want about the Blue Jays’ 17-25 start, but the Toronto lineup is still formidable. Yet Kuroda mowed through it seemingly without breaking a sweat.
“He had all three of his pitches going – fastball, slider, splitter,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He pretty much gave the bullpen the night off. He has been doing that for us all season.”
The first inning was an indication that it might be a special night for Kuroda. Melky Cabrera led off the game with a double. Kuroda then struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and got the third out by gloving a searing line drive by J.P. Arencibia.
“I felt good after those first two strikeouts,” Kuroda said.
Asked how he was able to catch Arencibia’s dart, Kuroda said, “I don’t know.”
After Melky’s hit, Kuroda got 19 consecutive outs before yielding a second hit, Encarnacion’s one-out single in the seventh. Kuroda walked Muenori Kawasaki in the third inning but picked him off. The righthander had five strikeouts in his eight innings, and it was hard to believe that 41 of his 109 pitches were called balls.
Kuroda improved his record to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.99, clearly the best of each in the rotation. He has been a one-man gang against Toronto with 12 consecutive scoreless innings against the Jays. Opponents are hitless in their past 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Kuroda and 2-for-30 for the season. He has pitched at least seven innings without giving up a run in nine of his 42 starts with the Yankees, which matches Hernandez and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw for the most such starts in the majors over the past two years.
The Yankees tied the score right away by scoring off Mark Buehrle in the first inning. Brett Gardner tripled to left-center and scored on a groundout by Robinson Cano. The first of two sacrifice flies by Jayson Nix gave Kuroda the lead in the fifth, and the bottom of the Yankees’ order constructed the bulk of a three-run rally in the seventh.
How about the 3-4-5-6 hitters combining to go 1-for-16 and still the Yankees winning, 5-0? Nix had a 0-for-0 game with two walks and two sac flies, the first Yankees player to get four plate appearances in a game without an official at-bat since Derek Jeter Sept. 12, 2006 against the Rays. Rookies David Adams and Austin Romine had a double and a single apiece, and rookie pitcher Preston Claiborne tossed another scoreless inning (that’s eight now in six appearances). Gardner also walked and singled in a run. It was all nice to see, but the way Kuroda pitched was unnecessary.
Curtis Granderson, activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday, was thrown right into the fire as the starting left fielder and cleanup hitter against the Mariners and Felix Hernandez at Yankee Stadium to open the homestand following a 6-2 trip through Denver, Kansas City and Cleveland.
Granderson played all three outfield positions during his injury-rehabilitation stint at Triple A Scranton. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he will use Granderson in each spot, although it appears that left field will be the one where he will play most often. Brett Gardner has done an outstanding job in center field during Granderson’s absence, and Girardi noted that while he has played some left field Ichiro Suzuki is more comfortable in right field.
Center field with the Yankees is one of the sexiest positions in baseball, yet Granderson told reporters before Tuesday night’s game that he is fine with his new surroundings. Just being back in the major leagues is satisfying enough for Granderson, who enjoyed being back at the Stadium where he was also visited by Michael Weiner, executive director of the Major League Players Association. Granderson is the Yankees’ player representative to the union.
Granderson is among several Yankees individual players with good career numbers against King Felix, who entered the game with an 8-5 record and 3.08 ERA in his career against the Yankees. The righthander has been especially tough at the current Stadium with a 4-1 mark and 1.13 ERA.
Granderson is a .273 hitter with two doubles, one triple and two home runs in 55 at-bats against Hernandez. Others with good numbers are Robinson Cano (.366, 2 doubles, 2 homers in 41 at-bats) as well as Ichiro (.400) and Jayson Nix (.500) in a limited number of at-bats. Ichiro is 2-for-5 and Nix 5-for-10.
Missing from the lineup will be designated hitter Travis Hafner, who was scheduled to undergo an MRI on his right shoulder that has been sore for several days. The Yankees hope the situation is not serious, but Hafner has had shoulder problems in the past. Vernon Wells, who had manned left field while Granderson was out, was in the lineup as the DH.
CC Sabathia will start for the Yankees in the matchup of former Cy Young Award winners. This is the pairing of Sabathia, who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2007 with the Indians, and Hernandez, the 2010 AL winner. It marks the fourth time former Cy Young Award winners will meet at the current Stadium after the winning the award. The others were Sabathia against Lee June 16, 2009, Sabathia against Roy Halladay June 15, 2010 and Sabathia against Johan Santana June 20, 2010.
Sabathia took a 12-4 record and 2.46 ERA in his career against the Mariners into the game. He has won each of his past eight starts against Seattle dating to Aug. 13, 2009 with a 1.20 ERA in 60 innings over that stretch.
The unfortunate side of the Granderson transaction is that pitcher Vidal Nuno, who got his first major-league victory in the second game of Monday’s doubleheader at Cleveland, was optioned to Scranton to create roster space. It was the obvious move because having pitched five innings Monday Nuno could not be used for several days. The lefthander, who pitched eight scoreless innings in two appearances for the Yankees, made a strong impression and will be in Scranton’s rotation to get innings and be available if the Yankees need pitching help down the road, which they almost surely will.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Nuno and righthander Adam Warren became the second pair of Yankees pitchers to earn their first career victory and first career save, respectively, in the same game. The others were Alan Closter (victory) and Fritz Peterson (save) July 25, 1971 in the second game of a doubleheader at Milwaukee. Warren was also the winning pitcher of the Yanks’ victory Thursday at Denver. Elias points out that he and Nuno marked the first pair of Yankees pitchers to earn their first major-league victories on the same trip since Matt DeSalvo and Tyler Clippard in May 2007.
The Yankees shut out their opponent in Game 2 of a doubleheader after being shutout in Game 1 of the DH for only the second time in the past 37 years. They also turned the trick on May 12, 2010 at Detroit, dropping Game 1, 2-0, and winning Game 2, 8-0. The Yankees are 4-0 in games immediately following a shutout loss this season, and have gone 30-9 (.769) in such games since 2008 when Joe Girardi took over as manager.
The Yankees scored more runs in the second inning Friday night at Kansas City than they scored in each of the three games of the recent series at Coors Field. The Denver yard is supposed to be hitter-friendly, yet the Yanks were shut out in one game and scored three runs in each of the next two games. In the second inning at Kauffman Stadium, supposedly a pitcher-friendly facility, the Yankees exploded for four runs off Wade Davis on a pair of two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Lyle Overbay. Go figure.
This was the sort of game expected in Denver. The Yankees broke out for 16 hits, half of them for extra bases, to produce an 11-6 victory, Joe Girardi’s 500th as Yankees manager.
The Royals closed to 4-3 in the bottom of the second as Phil Hughes fell victim to the long ball, which he had avoided in his previous three starts. It came from an unexpected source, too. Jayson Dyson ended Hughes’ 23-inning homerless stretch and a two-year homerless streak of his own with a two-out, three-run blow that was the outfielder’s first home run since 2010 and only his second in 473 career at-bats.
Hughes, who was 1-0 with three no-decisions and 1.93 ERA over his past four starts, was not as effective this time out. A two-run double by Alex Gordon in the fifth inning tied the score at 5, but the Yankees came to Phil’s rescue by putting up a five-spot in the sixth. They chased Davis with a double by Suzuki and a single by Jayson Nix and then did their usual damage against Bruce Chen.
The lefthander has found a home with the Royals, his 10th club, the past few years, but wherever he has been the Yankee have given him trouble. He has a 2-6 career record against them and had his ERA climb to 6.87 in 77 1/3 innings against the Yankees after they had their way with him in this game as well.
Overbay, who had quite a night (4-for-5, five RBI), knocked in his fourth run of the game with his second double. Chris Nelson got his first two RBI since joining the Yankees with a single. He scored on a triple by Brett Gardner, who came home on a single by Robinson Cano as the Yanks went 4-for-4 with runners in scoring position in the inning.
Hughes was toast one batter after yielding a long solo homer to right by Mike Moustakas in the bottom of the sixth. The bullpen was a bit thin after five relievers worked in Thursday’s rain-delayed victory. Shawn Kelley was nothing short of brilliant by striking out the first five batters he faced and six of seven. Boone Logan added two more strikeouts in a perfect ninth. Nine of the Royals’ last 11 hitters struck out.
Ichiro had 3-for-5 to raise his career batting average at Kauffman Stadium to .377, the highest of any opposing player in the park’s 40-year history. This place may not be so pitcher friendly after all.
No shutout this time. After becoming the first team to get shut out in a game at Coors Field this year, the Yankees got on the board right away Wednesday night. Vernon Wells, who has been struggling lately with three hits in his previous 22 at-bats (.136) clubbed a 3-2 fastball from the Rockies’ Juan Nicasio in the first inning for a two-run home run.
The blow, Wells’ seventh homer of the season and his first ever at Coors, scored Brett Gardner, who had singled to lead off the game and stolen second base. It was the Yankees’ fifth steal in 10 innings at Denver.
Lyle Overbay put on a clinic at first base in the bottom of the first inning to save Yankees starter David Phelps from a potential rough beginning. Overbay took part in all three outs with a putout and two assists, both on sure-handed grabs of tough hops. The Yankees could have done a whole lot worse in finding a replacement for injured Mark Teixeira than the stylishly efficient Overbay.
The Rockies got even in the second inning with a two-run homer of their own. After a one-out double to right-center by Wilin Rosario, Todd Helton drove a 3-1 fastball to right field for his second home run of the season.
Come the sixth inning and both team’s pitchers were batting eighth in the order. Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to bat Phelps in the 8-hole to break up the left-handed hitters. It was the first time a Yanks starting pitcher batted in that spot since Aug. 28, 1957 when then manager Casey Stengel hit Don Larsen eighth and second baseman Bobby Richardson ninth against the White Sox.
Nicasio was in the usual ninth spot for pitchers to start the game, but when he came out after five innings Rockies manager Walt Weiss made a double switch and brought in Jonathan Herrera to play shortstop and put reliever Josh Outman in the 8-hole previously occupied by Reid Brignac.
From the beginning Sunday, it was an uneasy outing for Andy Pettitte against the Athletics in the finale of the homestand. The lefthander had trouble at the beginning of nearly every inning. He let the leadoff hitter reach base in the first four innings. In the fifth, the one inning in which he got the leadoff hitter out, Pettitte ended up allowing two runs on Yoenis Cespedes’ fifth home run of the season.
That was one of two long balls yielded by Pettitte. The other was a solo shot by designated hitter Luke Montz leading off the third. Montz had doubled off Pettitte leading off the second. Pettitte pitched out of the stretch almost continually during his 100-pitch outing in which he gave up four runs (three earned), five hits, four walks and hit a batter as his ERA climbed to 4.06.
“The issue is everything,” Pettitte said after the Yanks’ 5-4 loss. “It was just a battle out there. I had no command of my fastball. My release point is floating, and my cutter is nonexistent right now.”
The first run off Pettitte was not earned due to a wild throw to first base by Robinson Cano, the second baseman’s first error of the season. Cano got the run right back in the bottom of the third by following a two-out double by Brett Gardner with a single to center.
Pettitte’s early departure created the opportunity for recent Triple A call-up Preston Claiborne to make his major-league debut. Claiborne was impressive his first time out with a perfect sixth and seventh before giving way to Boone Logan, who ended up the loser for allowing a solo home run to Josh Donaldson in the eighth that unlocked a 4-4 score.
“Those were two important innings,” Yankee manager Joe Girardi said of Claiborne’s work.
The Yankees suffered another injury as shortstop Eduardo Nunez was removed from the game in the fifth inning because of an irritated left ribcage. Results of an MRI were negative. The Yanks hope this will not be an extended injury. They are headed for an inter-league series at Denver where they could be short-handed since pitchers must hit in those games. Jayson Nix will play shortstop and newly-acquired Chris Nelson third base. Nix had been taking ground balls at first base as part of his utility role but will be needed to play regularly with Nunez sidelined.
The Yankees got Pettitte off the hook with three runs in the sixth as A’s lefthander Jerry Blevins faltered in relief of starter Dan Straily against two left-handed hitters. Blevins hung a 1-2 curve to Ichiro Suzuki, who doubled into the right-field corner to drive in one run. After Nix struck out for the second out, Lyle Overbay, who had a strong homestand, won an eight-pitch battle and singled to center to knock home the tying runs.
Overbay, who is batting .368 in a five-game hitting streak with a triple, two homers and six RBI in 19 at-bats, had the Yankee Stadium crowd of 38,134 on its feet again in the eighth when he flied out to the warning track in right-center with two runners aboard for the third out. Gardner’s two-out single in the ninth off A’s closer Grant Balfour gave Cano another at-bat, but after a wild pitch Cano was intentionally walked before Vernon Wells ended the game by striking out.
Another good relief effort came from Shawn Kelley in the ninth after Josh Reddick doubled off Logan to start the inning. Kelley got the next three batters, two of them on strikeouts. Reddick’s hit was significant, by the way.
Reddick did not start Sunday, which was no surprise based on several factors. For one, Reddick bats left-handed, and the Yankees’ starting pitcher was the left-handed Pettitte (oddly, they have never faced each other). For two, Reddick is off to an awful start (.148 in 88 at-bats). For three, he had been worthless at Yankee Stadium. Reddick, a late-inning defensive replacement in right field, had the longest hitless streak of any batter in the history of the current Stadium covering 33 at-bats (22 with the A’s and 11 with the Red Sox), which ended with that double.
With a 2-for-3 game, Suzuki continued his punishment of Oakland pitching. A .328 hitter in 933 career at-bats against the A’s, Ichiro’s 306 hits are the most by an opposing player against the franchise since it moved to the Bay Area from Kansas City 45 years ago.
Through five innings Saturday, Phil Hughes had thrown 86 pitches. I thought here’s another situation in which the righthander cannot moderate his pitch count and that Yankees manager Joe Girardi would have to get his bullpen in gear early.
But lo and behold, Hughes got more efficient with his pitches and came up with three straight 1-2-3 innings to be in good position to get his first winning decision of the season. Phil certainly earned it with eight shutout innings in which he allowed four hits and two walks with a season-high nine strikeouts.
Things got a bit hairy in the ninth when Shawn Kelley gave up a leadoff single, and Girardi did not hesitate to call on Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation. Mo gave up a walk and a hit with a couple of runs scoring, but the 4-2 Yankees final gave Hughes that long-awaited first victory of the season.
“I knew my pitch count was pretty high the first five innings,” Hughes said. “It all starts with the fastball. I got more aggressive with it on both sides of the plate and then I could mix in off-speed stuff.”
Hughes’ 117-pitch effort included an unusually high number of strikes – 82 – and marked his fourth consecutive outing of six or more innings in which he allowed two or fewer runs. He has held opponents to a .223 batting average in that stretch. Over those starts, Hughes had brought his ERA down from 10.29 to 3.60. “I feel like I’m clicking now,” he said.
For the second straight outing at Yankee Stadium, Hughes kept the ball in the yard, something he had not done before his previous start since last August. The long ball will always be a nemesis for Hughes, a fly-ball pitcher (10 of his 24 outs Saturday were in the air), but it is worth noting that all five homers he has allowed this year have come with the bases empty.
Ichiro Suzuki saved Hughes from yielding a home run to the first batter of the game, catcher John Jaso, with a fence-climbing catch in right field. A couple of other drives reached the warning track but stayed out of the stands.
“The consistency of his pitches every inning” was Girardi’s explanation for the turnaround in Hughes since his first two poor starts to open the season. “He mixed in all his stuff the second and third time through the order.”
Hughes’ offensive support came mainly from the bottom of the order – home runs from 9-hole hitter Chris Stewart in the third and 7-hole hitter Lyle Overbay in the fifth off Athletics starter Bartolo Colon and a triple by 8-hole hitter Eduardo Nunez, who scored on a two-out single by Brett Gardner in the seventh. The other run came from cleanup hitter Travis Hafner with a single in the sixth that scored Robinson Cano, who had doubled to lead off the inning against Colon.
That double was career No. 344 for Cano, who broke a tie with Hall of Famers Bill Dickey and Mickey Mantle to take over eighth place on the franchise’s all-time list.
Colon, who was 8-10 for the Yankees in 2011, lost for the first time in four decisions this year despite another good outing (three runs, six hits, no walks, three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings). A control freak of a power pitcher, Colon has tossed 37 1/3 innings in 2013 and walked one batter.
The Yankees are 28-9 in games immediately following shutout losses since the start of the 2008 season (all under Girardi) with victories in both cases this year and 11 of the past 13. . .Hughes, with a 1.93 ERA and 30 strikeouts over his past four starts covering 28 innings, became the first right-handed starter for the Yankees to pitch at least eight shutout innings and strike out at least nine batters in a game since Mike Mussina Sept. 14, 2004 at Kansas City and the first to do so at the Stadium since Roger Clemens June 18, 2003 against the Rays. . .Hafner has at least one RBI in nine of the Yankees’ 10 series this season. . .Stewart entered 2013 with four homers in 351 career at-bats. He has two in 40 at-bats this season. . .Rivera’s 1,064th career appearance tied him with Dan Plesac for sixth place on the all-time games list. . .The Yankees are 17-2 when holding opponents to four or fewer runs and 16-3 when scoring four or more runs.
You would think that after 13 years of displaying one of the strongest outfield arms in the major leagues that Ichiro Suzuki would not be challenged. Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson in the sixth inning Friday night learned what so many before him already knew – that trying to take an extra base on Ichiro can be fruitless.
Suzuki played the carom of Donaldson’s drive off the top of the right field fence perfectly and threw a laser-beam relay to shortstop Eduardo Nunez at second base to nail Donaldson trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin had even more bases in mind as he convinced the umpiring crew to review the play when it appeared that a fan in the right field grandstand may have interfered with the ball, which might have made it a home run. After checking the videotape, the umpires upheld the initial ruling.
Yoenis Cespedes, who went to third base on Donaldson’s long single, eventually scored on a single to right by Derek Norris. A wild pitch by CC Sabathia put Norris on second base, but he at least learned a lesson. With two out, Nate Freiman got his third hit off Sabathia, a single to right. Norris, a catcher with not much speed, respected Suzuki’s arm and did not try to score. CC got out of the inning as Luke Montz grounded out.
As successful as Ichiro was in preventing runs, he could not do it alone. It did not take many for the A’s to come away the victor because the Yankees’ offense was shut down in a 2-0 loss. A.J. Griffin scattered six hits over seven-plus innings, one of them a two-strike bunt single by Brett Gardner, an example of the Yankees’ desperation against the righthander.
Sabathia was taken deep on the first pitch of the game. Shortstop Adam Rosales smoked a first-pitch fastball to left-center for his first home run of the season. Sabathia settled down nicely but needed major help from second baseman Robinson Cano to get out of a fifth-inning jam. With runners on first and second and two out, Cano made one of his patented wide-ranging to the left grabs and across-the-body throws from the left side of second base to throw out Jed Lowrie at first base, a dandy of a run-saving play.
CC threw 118 pitches over six innings and allowed two runs, eight hits and two walks with six strikeouts and a wild pitch. He left on the losing side but had been effective enough to keep the Yankees in the game.
So did Adam Warren, who was one of the few bright spots for the Yankees. The righthander came out of the bullpen and supplied three innings of scoreless, two-hit relief with two walks and four strikeouts.
With a lefthander, Eric Bedard, starting for the Astros Wednesday night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to decide which left-handed hitting outfielder to give the night off. He chose Brett Gardner for two reasons: (1) Gardner could use the blow and (2) Ichiro Suzuki is hot.
Ichiro has really stepped it up this homestand. He entered the game on an 8-for-19 (.421) stretch that shot his batting average up to .268, which was 68 points higher than it was a week ago. With hits in each of his first two at-bats, Suzuki’s average just kept climbing nearer to the .300 level with which he was so familiar in his years with the Mariners.
Suzuki led off the game with a triple off the auxiliary scoreboard in right-center field. He scored moments later on a single to left by Jayson Nix. Bedard, who did not walk a batter in his prior start at Boston despite throwing 91 pitches in three innings, walked the bases loaded with none out in the second.
The first walk was to Travis Hafner, whom Girardi left in the batting order as the designated hitter while using righty-swinging Ben Francisco in right field. The Astros used an exaggerated shift against Hafner, who I think would be smart to consider bunting in those situations. After all, he was leading off the inning, so getting on base is the priority. The Astros were giving him the entire left side of the infield.
The Yankees got only one run out of the rally, on a sacrifice fly by Chris Stewart, who is doing a terrific job in making up for the loss to injury (fractured right hand) of Francisco Cervelli. The Yanks reloaded the bases with two out on an infield single by Suzuki when Bedard and first baseman Carlos Pena miscommunicated on a play at the bag while Ichiro sped to another hit. It proved inconsequential as Nix popped out.
The game was beginning to look like one of those runaways when Robinson Cano and Francisco homered in the fourth inning for a 4-0 Yankees lead. Cano’s homer was career No. 185 for 16th place on the Yankees’ all-time list. He also moved ahead of Elston Howard for 20th place on the Yankees’ career RBI list with 733.
Francisco’s homer was his first with the Yankees, and it must have felt wonderful. He entered the game batting .103 and may just be the odd man out whenever Curtis Granderson comes off the disabled list, which is likely sometime this month.
Making his first start of the season, David Phelps was certainly appreciative of the early run support. The righthander cruised through three innings in pitching to the minimum number of batters and allowing one hit before the wheels started to fall off in the fourth. Phelps was stung for four hits and didn’t help himself by hitting two batters, one of which forced in a run, as the Astros tied the score.
Speed has not been that much an element to the Yankees’ offense this year. It was thought that they would suffer a power outage this season with the loss of several sluggers, but the Yankees continue to lead the American League in home runs with 36, the most recent coming on Lyle Overbay’s solo shot in the eighth inning of Tuesday night’s 7-4 victory over the Astros.
The Yankees’ other runs were due more to their legs than their brawn, which was good to see. They entered the game with nine stolen bases, the second lowest total in the league. They used thefts to help manufacture the first two runs. Travis Hafner got two of his three RBI because of the steals by Brett Gardner in the first inning and Ichiro Suzuki in the third.
Houston starter Philip Humber also helped the Yankees move around the bases by throwing four wild pitches in his six innings. Two came in the fifth inning in which the Yankees scored twice with only one ball reaching the outfield. Suzuki and Jayson Nix beat out infield hits, and a dash to first base by Brennan Boesch averted a double play and resulted in a run as well.
Eduardo Nunez ran from out of his helmet as usual to turn two of his three hits into doubles, the second of which led to a run in the three-run eighth on a single by Chris Stewart. They seemed like pad-on runs at the time, but the Astros rallied in the ninth against Shawn Kelley that prompted manager Joe Girardi to summon Mariano Rivera, who restored order with a strikeout and earned his 10th save.
Hafner and Suzuki also had three hits in the Yankees’ 15-hit assault. Humber’s record fell to 0-6. He is 4-11 since pitching that perfect game April 21 last year for the White Sox at Seattle.
Hiroki Kuroda overcame a shaky first three innings to pitch a four-hit shutout through seven innings. The Astros were hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position over those first three innings and stranded seven base runners. Kuroda found himself after that and pitched to the minimum number of batters through the seventh and is now 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA.
The Astros didn’t score until Chris Carter hit a two-run home run off David Robertson in the eighth. They got two more runs off Kelley in the ninth before Rivera put the finishing touch on a surprisingly strong April for the Yankees, who posted a 16-10 record despite having six regular position players and two-fifths of the rotation on the disabled list during the month.