Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’

Yankees heed manager’s message

Yankees manager Joe Girardi could not have made it more clear before Wednesday night’s game. He said the players know the situation they are in, that they need to win games, “and we need to start tonight.”

Coming right up, the Yankees might have said. They did not let a disastrous first inning when they ran into two outs on the same play set the tone for the evening and went on to beat the Red Sox, 5-1.

Hiroki Kuroda earned his third straight victory with seven solid innings while his catcher, Brian McCann, had a four-hit game and drove in three runs. It was McCann who helped the Yanks ignore the sight of Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner being thrown out in a failed double-steal attempt when he connected off Boston starter Anthony Ranaudo for a two-run home run in the second inning.

McCann singled to lead off the fifth when the Yankees made it 3-0 on a sacrifice fly by Jacoby Ellsbury, who sure looks comfortable in that leadoff spot. Ellsbury tripled with one out in the seventh and scored on a single by Gardner. After a fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases for McCann, he singled again to pump the Yanks’ lead to 5-1. A second RBI was snuffed out when Carlos Beltran was thrown out at the plate. It’s a pretty good sign for a team that can get three players thrown out on the bases and still win the game.

“Sometimes you get a little too over-aggressive,” Girardi said. “I wasn’t happy with two guys getting thrown out, but that mistake didn’t cost us dearly.”

The Yankees could use some good signs these days. Kuroda provided a big one. He struck out five of the first seven batters and finished with eight punchouts in seven innings. He did not walk a batter, although he did hit one who came around to score in the sixth on a double by Brock Holt, the only one of the four hits off the Japanese righthander that went for extra bases.

“Hiro had a great sinker and split,” Girardi said. “He had fatigue issues in the second half last year, and we have tried to do some things [additional rest] this year to get him to this point.”

Girardi placed his own emphasis on this game by going to his 1-2 punch in the bullpen with Dellin Betances working the eighth with a four-run lead and David Robertson the ninth in a non-save situation.

The Yankees picked up a game on the Athletics and the Tigers in the wild card chase but still trail them by four games, are 3 1/2 behind the Mariners and even with the Indians. The post-season remains very much an uphill climb with several clubs to step over, but for this night anyway the Yankees did not take a step back.

More adventures on the basepaths

The Yankees’ adventurous base running continued Wednesday night. This episode was even worse than Tuesday night when the Yankees at least scored at some point in the inning.

A promising start to Wednesday night’s game came to a sudden end when Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner, who each had singled with one out, combined on a caught-stealing double play. The throw from catcher Christian Vazquez was to second trying for Gardner, the trail runner who stopped before reaching second in the old high-school play mold. Jeter inched off third as Gardner got in a rundown that involved four throws. But when Gardner was finally tagged out, Jeter had gone too far off third to make his way back and was tagged out as well.

The Yankees need to be aggressive to generate an offense, but careless base running does not help. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead against Red Sox righthander Anthony Ranaudo in a more conventional manner in the second inning when Brian McCann crushed a 0-2 fastball for a two-run home run.

Yanks off to grim start in homestand

It was not the way the Yankees wanted to open the homestand. Starting pitcher Shane Greene, who has pitched well overall for the Yankees, did not have it Tuesday night and left the game in the third inning trailing the Red Sox, 6-0. That put the Yankees in uphill-climb mode the rest of the game and they finished on the south side of a 9-4 score.

And matters got no better after the game when manager Joe Girardi revealed that Martin Prado has an aching left hamstring and will be examined Wednesday by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad. Prado had two more hits and is batting .292 since coming to the Yankees.

Yet he was also part of the questionable base running that cost the Yankees dearly in the fifth inning when they were putting together a sustained offense. Carlos Beltran got a bad read on a fly ball, and Prado, one of the most alert players in the majors, made a rare rock that put a cramp in the Yankees’ rally.

After Beltran led off the inning with a single, Brian McCann bunted against the shift and dunked a roller to third base for a single. Up came Prado, who had homered off Boston’s Joe Kelly in the third, and hit another rocket to left field that perplexed Yoenis Cespedes as well as Beltran apparently.

Beltran looked as if he thought Cespedes would catch Prado’s drive which went behind the left fielder. Beltran then pranced to third base and stayed there. Meanwhile, Prado, seeing the ball get over Cespedes dashed around first base thinking double all the way and did not notice until it was too late that McCann was at second base because he could not have advanced with Beltran at third. Prado ended up getting tagged out in a rundown. A bit hit became a big out due to hesitant base running.

“It looked like we were getting to [Kelly], and we gave them an out,” Girardi said.

The Yankees clearly had Kelly on the ropes. He walked the next two hitters to force in a run and got lucky when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was standing in the right spot to glove a smoking liner by Jacoby Ellsbury. Upon video review, an inning-ending grounder by Derek Jeter was reversed to an RBI single, but Brett Gardner was called out on strikes.

There can be no reviews of ball/strike calls. If so, Gardner might not have been punched out. He was so sure plate umpire Tim Timmons’ strike-three call was wrong that he slammed his helmet and bat in disgust, which only served to get Gardner ejected.

“I have more self control than that, but I was frustrated,” Gardner said. “I was frustrated by some of the calls in my first two at-bats when I struck out. I felt like it was way outside. He threw me out of the game before I even spoke to him.”

I do not care how justified Brett may be in protesting a borderline call, there is no way a player can get himself thrown out of such a game. For a team like the Yankees hanging by a thread in trying to qualify for a post-season berth, a player, especially one batting third in the order, getting tossed because he lost his temper is inexcusable.

The result was that Gardner was out of the game and Stephen Drew was in. Anybody like that exchange?

The game also featured a statistical rarity. The Yankees did not have a fielding assist. Boston made only one out on the ground, and it was an unassisted play at first base by Mark Teixeira. The Red Sox struck out 12 times and made the other 14 outs in the air.

Ellsbury stays at top of Yankees’ lineup

As hot as Jacoby Ellsbury has been, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided not to mess with him and kept the fleet center fielder in the leadoff spot Tuesday night as he returned to the lineup after not starting the previous two games because of a sprained left ankle. Brett Gardner, who has been the Yankees’ leadoff hitter most of the season, was in the 3-hole for the first time this year.

“I left Jake in the 1-hole,” Girardi said before the game. “My concern when they both were going well was they are both going well, why move them? I put Jake in the 1-hole when Gardy got hurt. He did extremely well so I’ll leave him there and put Gardy third.”

Over his past 12 games, half of them batting leadoff, Ellsbury hit .467 with eight runs, two doubles, one triple, four home runs, 11 RBI and six stolen bases in 45 at-bats. Ellsbury was primarily a leadoff hitter during his years with the Red Sox. He has done well atop the lineup this year as well, batting .313 with a .361 on-base average in 31 games and 131 at-bats.

Gardner has batted leadoff in 101 games and 401 at-bats and hit .264 with a .340 on-base percentage and all 16 of his home runs, five of which have come leadoff off games. Gardner’s increased power gives makes him more of a candidate for the 3-hole than he had been perceived to be prior to this season.

With Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira beset with injuries this season, Ellsbury was called on to fill in as a 3-hole hitter, but he did not do as well as when he batted leadoff. He hit .277 with a .342 on-base percentage, eight home runs and 44 RBI in 305 at-bats over 93 games.

In addition, Ellsbury’s more daring base running would seem to serve him better in the leadoff spot. Girardi’s original decision was based on the fact that Ellsbury had more experience hitting third than Gardner, who has developed into one of the game’s premier leadoff hitters.

Regardless of where they have hit in the order, Ellsbury and Gardner have been the Yankees’ most consistent hitters. It will be interesting to see how long Girardi stays with this alignment.

Get used to some new names as the Yankees called up eight players from the minor leagues with rosters expanding this month. Added to the roster were pitchers Chase Whitley, Rich Hill, Bryan Mitchell, Preston Claiborne and Chaz Roe; catcher John Ryan Murphy and outfielders Chris Young, who began the season with the Mets, and Antoan Richardson. They released pitcher Matt Daley and designated outfielder Zoilo Almonte for assignment. In addition, the Yankees placed outfielder Slade Heathcott (knee surgery) and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (right elbow partial ligament tear) on the 60-day disabled list, which is merely bookkeeping since rosters have expanded from 25 to up to 40.

Yanks blow three-run lead to end 3-4 trip

A trip considered pivotal for the Yankees’ playoff chances did not turn out as well as they had hoped. They got off to a good start with a victory in Kansas City over one of the contenders for post-season play but hit snags in Detroit and Toronto where the Yanks lost each series, two games to one.

Sunday’s finale at Rogers Centre was a major disappointment. One day after sustaining a one-hit shutout, the Yankees bounced back against J.A. Happ to take a 3-0 lead behind Brandon McCarthy, who was rolling along through five innings working on a two-hit shutout.

Before McCarthy could get the third out of the sixth, however, he was smacked for two long home runs by Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista that made it a one-run game. Cabrera’s 16th home run of the season was his fifth this year against his former teammates. Bautista’s 29th homer of the season made it five straight games in which he has gone deep, one shy of the franchise record by Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001. The major league record is eight shared by the Pirates’ Dale Long (1956), the Yankees’ Don Mattingly (1987) and the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. (1993).

Edwin Encarnacion tied the score when he led off the seventh with another bomb of a homer (No. 28), and a shaken McCarthy then walked Dioner Navarro. That turned out to be just as bad as the home runs when pinch runner Steve Tolleson stole second base with two out and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Munenori Kawasaki off Dellin Betances. The play at home was close, but Tolleson sliding head first got his left hand across the plate just before the lunging tag by catcher Francisco Cervelli.

The Yankees had chances after that to get back in the game. They had two runners on with two out in the eighth against Brett Cecil, but Cervelli struck out. In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury, hobbled by a sprained left ankle that was heavily taped, came off the bench and pinch-hit a double to shallow right field with one out. Pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki moved to third as Brett Gardner, who flirted with a cycle, grounded out to the right side.

That brought up Derek Jeter in what was likely his final game in Toronto. A Hollywood ending would have had the Captain trying the score at least with a single or perhaps even putting the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. Instead, he hit a soft liner to Tolleson to end the disappointing trip in which the Yankees were 3-4.

The Yanks wasted several other scoring opportunities. Cervelli tripled with two out in the second before Stephen Drew struck out. Cervelli singled in the Yankees’ second run in the fourth, but he and another runner were stranded when Drew flied out.

Gardner accounted for the other two runs with his 16th home run of the season, the fifth leading off a game, and a triple in the fifth when he continued to the plate on an errant relay by Jose Reyes. Gardner doubled with two out in the seventh but Jeter was out on a pepper shot. Gardner needed a single to complete the cycle, and it might have tied the score in the ninth except he grounded out. He also flied out to left field in the third inning.

While the Yankees had 11 hits, the middle of their lineup was silent as Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. The Yanks had 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees’ loss dropped them nine games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East, and they stayed 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race by failing to take advantage of a Detroit loss with Seattle and Kansas City playing later in the day. Even worse, the Yankees could have buried the Blue Jays but instead allowed Toronto to pull to 1 1/2 games behind them in the wild-card hunt.

Labor Day turns out to be a holiday as well for the Yankees, who have Monday off. Then it’s another crucial nine-game stretch at Yankee Stadium with three-game series each against the Red Sox, Royals and Rays. Time is growing short.

Yanks bounce back and bounce Buehrle again

Things were looking so bad for a while there Friday night for the Yankees that it appeared they might not win a game started by Mark Buehrle. The lefthander, who has not beaten the Yankees in 10 years, looked as if he might end that streak over the first six innings.

Then came the seventh and then went Buehrle. He was working on a four-hit shutout entering the inning but faced four batters without getting an out and left the game in his usual circumstance against the Yankees — trailing.

The five spot the Yankees put on the board in the seventh meant that Buehrle would fail to get a winning decision in his 16th straight start against them, the second such losing streak only to a 19-start stretch by Slim Harriss.

Brian McCann, who came within inches of winning Thursday’s game at Detroit that became a tough loss for the Yankees, got the seventh inning started for the Yanks with a double off the right field wall. Buehrle then gave up his first walk, to Carlos Beltran.

Brett Gardner might have been expected to bunt the runners over, but manager Joe Girardi had him swinging away, and it paid off. Gardner ripped a double to left that scored McCann, and Beltran followed him home on an errant relay by second baseman Steve Tolleson that gave the Yankees the lead.

Matters just got worse for Buehrle, who gave up an infield single to Ichiro Suzuki and after leaving the game watched his catcher, Dioner Navarro, try to pick Gardner off third base and throw the ball into left field.

Jacoby Ellsbury hit a rocket over the right field wall for his 14th home run and a 5-1 Yankees lead. It came off lefthander Aaron Loup, the first he had ever yielded to a left-handed batter in the major leagues. Ellsbury continued his torrid trip in which he is batting .440 with a 1.000 slugging percentage, one triple, four home runs and nine RBI in 25 at-bats.

The Blue Jays made it 5-3 in the bottom of the seventh, but the Yankees went on to win, 6-3, with Chase Headley adding a bomb of a home run to right-center in the ninth. It was an impressive victory for the Yanks coming off Thursday’s low ebb. They moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Blue Jays and dropped Toronto back to .500 at 67-67.

Buehrle’s career record against the Yankees fell to 1-13. Only one other pitcher in major-league history was worse against them, Red Ruffing, who was 1-16 during his years with the Red Sox. Ironically, he was traded to the Yankees and became one of the franchise’s great aces and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967. It was also Buehrle’s eighth straight loss this season. He had a 10-1 record as of June 1 and is now 11-9.

Chris Capuano finally got his first victory with the Yankees. He gave up a home run to Juan Bautista in the fourth but stayed close with Buehrle into the seventh. Errors by Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner were responsible for one of the two runs Capuano gave up in the seventh.

Lefthander Josh Outman, the reliever the Yankees obtained from the Indians Thursday, made his first appearance and allowed a pinch-hit single to Munenori Kawasaki, but David Robertson got a four-out save to get the Yankees an uplifting victory to start the Labor Day weekend.

All Yanks join Ellsbury in hit parade

No sooner had Jacoby Ellsbury reached first base with a leadoff single in the third inning Wednesday night at Detroit that I said to myself, “Anyone else on this team want to help this guy?”

Ellsbury had accounted for both Yankees runs in Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss with solo home runs and opened Wednesday’s game with a single and a stolen base but was stranded at second base.

I do not claim any penchant for mental telepathy, but I may have transmitted something across to the rest of the Yankees because all they did an entire turn through the batting order that inning was follow Ellsbury’s lead and reach base with hits.

It was a manager’s absolute dream as Joe Girardi watched each player he placed in the lineup knock his way on base. Ellsbury’s speed got him a second steal as he outran a pickoff. Derek Jeter brought him home with a double as the parade began, followed by a single by Martin Prado, a double by Mark Teixeira and singles by Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli. Not only did the Yankees get nine hits in a row but also eight straight with runners in scoring position, which in some cases this year has been a series worth of clutch hits.

And that was no tomato can on the mound off of whom the Yankees got nine consecutive hits, two shy of the Rockies’ major league mark against the Cubs in 2010. The Detroit starter was none other than 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price, who entered the game with a 10-5 career record against the Yankees.

Price never did get an out that inning. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus yanked him for another lefthander, Blaine Hardy, who gave up two more runs on sacrifice flies by Ellsbury and Jeter as the Yankees swelled their lead to 8-0.

Remember how excited the Yankees were Monday night when they scored eight runs against the Royals with James Shields starting? Well, this time they scored that many runs in just one inning.

Ellsbury certainly looks comfortable back in the leadoff spot where he batted most often in his years with the Red Sox. Girardi has had to use him in the 3-hole much of this year because of the inconsistency and injuries to Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran.

Usual leadoff man Gardner was out the first two games of the trip because of a right ankle bruise. He was back Wednesday night but dropped to the 8-hole because of his career problems against Price (2-for-20 entering play).

With two hits, two stolen bases and an RBI over his first three plate appearances, Ellsbury definitely was a table setter. Yet for a change he had plenty of support.

As appreciative as Girardi for all this offense was Yanks starter Shane Greene, who did not give up a hit or a run until the fourth inning. The righthander did not pitch as it he had a huge lead but rather as if the score was close, the best approach for a pitcher to take.

Green gave up two runs, five hits and one walk with a hit batter and eight strikeouts in seven innings to remain undefeated in eight starts since July 21 and improve his record to 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA.

The big-inning victory also did the Yanks quite a bit of good in the standings. They picked up a game on the Orioles in the American League East and now trail by six and sliced a game off the deficit for the second wild card spot to 2 1/2 games behind the Mariners and two behind the Tigers.

Yanks end bumpy trip on upbeat note

So when is a 2-3 trip considered good? When it starts out 0-3.

That was the situation with the Yankees at the end of a somewhat bumpy ride through Baltimore and St. Petersburg. They finished in an upbeat fashion Sunday with a 4-2 victory that included a semblance of a sustained offense and an encouraging outing by Hiroki Kuroda.

The victory also lifted the Yankees back into second place in the American League East, albeit a distant second since they trail the first-place Orioles by seven games. The Yanks are also 3 1/2 games behind in the chase for the second wild-card berth.

Kuroda was working on extra rest, which is something Yankees manager Joe Girardi intends to do as often as he can in the season’s final six weeks to prevent the fade the Japanese righthander sustained in the second half of the 2013 season. He certainly seemed to benefit from the extra time off.

Never before at his best against the Rays (2-4, 6.07 ERA) or at Tropicana Field (1-2, 6.94 ERA), Kuroda was in first-half form with 6 2/3 innings in which he allowed two runs and four hits. Pitching to contact (one walk, one strikeout), Kuroda retired 17 batters in a row from the first through the sixth innings.

Kuroda gave up a run in the first inning, and that run looked quite large when Rays righthander Jeremy Hellickson, who has pitched only since last month after undergoing arthroscopic right elbow surgery in January, took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and got the first two out then rather easily.

A walk to Stephen Drew was the beginning of a sloppy inning for Hellickson, his last in the game, as the Yankees strung together four hits — a double by Martin Prado, a two-run single by Brett Gardner that gave the Yankees the lead, followed by singles by Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury resulting in another run. The hit by Ellsbury was his only one on the trip in 20 at-bats but came at a good time. Prado also had a superlative game defensively at second base with eight assists and one putout.

Evan Longoria’s RBI single in the seventh off a tiring Kuroda cut the Yanks’ lead to 3-2, but Shawn Kelley stranded a runner at third before turning matters over to Dellin Betances in the eighth and David Robertson (33rd save) in the ninth, which has become a can’t-miss tandem.

Mark Teixeira made it 4-2 in the eighth with his 20th home run of the season and career No. 361, which tied him with Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio on the all-time list. Nice company that.

So the trip’s finish was far better than the start. The Yankees’ offense continues to be a concern. They averaged merely 2.6 runs per game on the trip and have been outscored by 37 runs this season.

But they come home with some momentum and have a chance to make some headway on the upcoming homestand against the also-ran Astros and White Sox.

Jeter’s clutch hit helps Yanks end 5-game losing streak

The Yankees ended a disturbing pattern on this trip in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Rays that stopped a five-game losing streak. In the two games at Baltimore that began the trip, the Yankees scored early but failed to add to their lead while the Orioles came back to take each game.

Friday night was different but not in a good way. The Yankees did not give up the lead because they never had one. In fact, they did not score at all.

Saturday was looking like the same thing for a while. The Yanks jumped ahead 2-0 in the second inning against lefthander Drew Smyly on Martin Prado’s sixth home run of the season. Inning after inning went by without the Yankees extending the lead for Shane Greene, who was brilliant with 10 strikeouts in six-plus innings. The Rays scored single runs in the sixth and seventh to tie the score and hang Greene with a no-decision. He was kicking himself for hitting a batter with a pitch to start the seventh. A pinch runner eventually came around to score the tying run.

Then came the ninth, and things started going the Yankees’ way. Brett Gardner led off with an infield single and continued to second base on an errant throw by second baseman Logan Fosythe.

Derek Jeter attempted to bunt Gardner to third base but could not handle lefthander Jake McGee’s high octane gas as the count went to 2-2. Tampa Bay kept its infield tight with the idea that DJ still might bunt despite having two strikes. Nope. The Captain swung away and lined a 99-mph fastball past a diving Forsythe for a single to right-center that brought Gardner home with what proved the winning run.

Pitching for the first time in nine days, David Robertson notched his 32nd save to preserve the victory for Dellin Betances (5-0), who pitched a perfect eighth inning. Shawn Kelley also pitched a shutout seventh as the bullpen had its first strong performance on the trip.

The loss dropped the Rays back under .500 (61-62) after they had gotten to the level level with Friday night’s 5-0 victory, quite a feat for a team that was once 18 games under .500. The last major-league team to go from 18-under to .500 in the same season was the Marlins in 2006 when they were managed by current Yankees skipper Joe Girardi.

He picked a perfect game to put Carlos Beltran back in right field for the first time since May 11 because the way Greene pitched nobody hit the ball to Beltran, who did not have a fielding chance until he caught a drive by Evan Longoria for the first out of the eighth inning.

Beltran’s return to the outfield permits Girardi to go back to his preference of using the designated hitter spot as a way to give players a half-game off. Saturday’s hero, Jeter, was the DH in this one.

Girardi decided against using Brian McCann, who came off the 7-day concussion list, and had Francisco Cervelli behind the plate. McCann had a lackluster workout Friday, so Girardi chose to wait at least one more day before getting his regular catcher back in the mix.

The much-needed victory also guaranteed the Yankees will leave St. Petersburg after Sunday’s game no deeper than third place in the American League East. After the shutout loss Friday night, it created a situation where the Rays could have jumped over the Yankees in the standings this weekend, a prognosis that fell apart with Saturday’s comeback victory.

When a sacrifice isn’t called for

You have to question Brett Gardner’s thinking in the third inning Tuesday night. Light-hitting Brendan Ryan had just led off with a rare extra-base hit, a booming double to left field, and was out there in scoring position for Gardner, the Yankees’ hottest hitter and winner of American League Player of the Week honors for last week.

So what goes Gardy do? Lays one down. That’s right. He drops down a sacrifice bunt to push Ryan to third base. Huh? I have never liked that play unless the batter is a pitcher. You have a runner with good wheels already in scoring position with none out. Why not try to knock the runner in yourself? And if you make an out by at least hitting the ball to the right side the runner will advance anyway.

The play really looked bad when the next batter, Derek Jeter, hit a squibbing grounder to second base against a tight infield for the second out with Ryan having to hold third. Jacoby Ellsbury saved the inning for the Yankees with a liner down the left field line for a double to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

After giving up a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez, Hiroki Kuroda settled down over the next few innings and the Yankees drew even against David Price in the second on Brian McCann’s 12th home run.

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