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What the Yankees needed on Andy Pettitte Day Sunday at Yankee Stadium was, well, Andy Pettitte.
Another nostalgic ceremony to retire Pettitte’s No. 46 and install a plaque in Monument Park honoring his pitching career with the Yankees was barely over when CC Sabathia gave up a two-run home run to Indians first baseman Carlos Santana in the first inning in what turned out an ominous day for the big lefthander.
There was no one warming up in the bullpen in the third inning when Sabathia had to come out of the game because of an injury to his surgical right knee. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to rely on a couple of Scranton shuttle guys, Nick Rumbelow and Branden Pinder, to get through the middle innings.
A chant of “Andy Pettitte” from the bleachers sprung up several times from fans with fond memories of his grim determination on the mound over an 18-season major league career, all but three of them with the Yankees, that included an additional 276 1/3 innings of postseason work that produced a 19-11 record and four World Series championships.
“I just don’t remember ever going out there and feeling like I’m going to step on this mound and absolutely dominate this team because I am so good,” Pettitte told the crowd earlier. “I know some of the great players have felt like that. Every game at the big-league level, mentally, I had to be into it every pitch. It seemed like if I let my focus down for one inning, it was going to be a three-run inning. I needed every ounce of focus and energy to be successful.”
The Yankees had coaxed Pettitte out of retirement once before, in 2012. Too bad they could not do it again Sunday.
The only work for Pettitte Sunday was getting through a well-constructed speech in which he thanked his family, former teammates, the Steinbrenner family and even us writers, whom he said treated him fairly over the years.
Joining him on the field for the pregame ceremony were fellow Core Four partners Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter and Saturday’s honoree Jorge Posada as well as other former teammates Bernie Williams, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez and Hideki Matsui; former trainer Gene Monahan; former executive Gene Michael; Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and former manager Joe Torre; managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and vice president Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal.
“We experienced some amazing wins, some heartbreaking losses,” Pettitte added. “Through it all, this place has become home to me and my family.”
Sabathia was supposed to be Pettitte’s successor as the senior voice on the pitching staff, but he has been slowed down by a knee that has been operated on twice and which was drained twice over the past two months. Sabathia admitted to Girardi that he felt discomfort while warming up but did not say anything until he was interrogated by his manager on the mound.
“It has been a watch for us all year long as we knew it would be,” Girardi said. “For him to say something on the mound it had to be pretty sore.”
Sabathia, who was to undergo an MRI exam late Sunday, has not been himself most of the season. He is 4-9 with a 5.27 ERA, and his record could be worse if the Yankees had not come back from trailing in games to get him off the hook eight times, including Sunday when they tied the score in the seventh inning on a two-run double by Carlos Beltran.
A comeback victory was not forthcoming, however, as Francisco Lindor finished off his second straight three-hit game with a solo home run off Dellin Betances in the eighth inning that held up for a 4-3 victory for the Indians, who were 5-2 against the Yankees this year.
It was almost as painful a game for the Stadium crowd of 46,945 to watch as it was for Sabathia. This was an absolute walkathon with Yankees pitchers combining for 10 walks (four by Sabathia) and the Indians for six. Despite all those free base runners the Yankees allowed, the score stayed close because the Tribe was 1-for-10 (.100) with runners in scoring position and left 11 on base, which would have been more if the Yanks had not turned four double plays.
Sabathia’s injury, which general manager Brian Cashman said would likely put him on the 15-day disabled list, botches plans the Yankees had of going to a six-man rotation with the return from the DL of Michael Pineda, who is scheduled to start Wednesday at the Stadium against the Astros.
The idea was to give an additional day of rest to all the starters, but that will have to go on hold for now. The Yankees could return Adam Warren to the rotation, but as well as he has pitched in relief they are reluctant to do that. The more likely choice for a sixth starter would be Bryan Mitchell, who was on the seven-day concussion list after being struck in the face by a batted ball Aug. 17. Cashman said Mitchell may pitch a simulated game this week.
All these pitching woes and the possibility the Yankees could drop out of first place put a damper on the special day for Pettitte, who might have been a big help had he been able to don a unifiorm.
Andy Pettitte’s Monument Park plaque
ANDREW EUGENE PETTITTE
NEW YORK YANKEES 1995-2003, 2007-2010, 2012-2013
A FIVE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION AND THREE-TIME ALL-STAR, PETTITTE WAS A MODEL OF CONSISTENCY IN THE YANKEES ROTATION FOR 15 SEASONS, GOING 219-127 (.633) AND TYING THE FRANCHISE RECORD OF 438 STARTS.
KNOWN FOR HAVING ONE OF BASEBALL’S BEST PICKOFF MOVES, PETTITTE WILL BE MOST REMEMBERED FOR HIS EXTENSIVE OCTOBER RÉSUMÉ, AS HE WENT 18-10 WITH A 3.76 ERA IN 40 POSTSEASON STARTS WITH THE CLUB. IN 2009, HE BECAME THE FIRST PITCHER TO START AND WIN
THE CLINCHING GAME IN EACH OF THREE SERIES IN A SINGLE POSTSEASON.
THE LEFTHANDER RETIRED WITH THE THIRD HIGHEST WIN TOTAL IN FRANCHISE HISTORY, AND HE IS THE CLUB’S ALL-TIME STRIKEOUT LEADER, WITH 2,020. TWICE A 20-GAME WINNER, PETTITTE FINISHED HIS CAREER AS THE FIRST PLAYER TO PITCH MORE THAN 15 SEASONS IN THE MAJORS WITHOUT EVER HAVING A LOSING RECORD.
DEDICATED BY THE NEW YORK YANKEES
AUGUST 23, 2015
With a spent bullpen from Wednesday night’s 14-inning marathon, the Yankees did not have much fortification for Thursday night’s starter, David Phelps. Looking at the 9-3 Indians final, it may be hard to believe that it was a 3-0 game through six innings and all Yankees at that.
Phelps sustained his fourth straight no-decision, and this one really hurt. He pitched very well in spots, wiggled out of danger at other times and was working on a five-hit shutout going into the seventh inning. But when the first two Cleveland batters singled, Yankees manager Joe Girardi decided to make a change. Three batters later, the Yankees’ lead was gone.
Lefthander Matt Thornton gave up an infield single to Jason Kipnis that loaded the bases. Asdrubal followed with a drive into the right field corner for a bases-clearing triple that tied the score and left Phelps with yet another ND. Jacoby Ellsbury’s dazzling catch of a Michael Brantley prevented another Indians hit, but it was a sacrifice fly that gave the Tribe the lead.
Righthander Jim Miller could not stop the bleeding in the eighth when the Indians struck for five more runs on five hits, including two-run home runs by catcher Roberto Perez, who had a strong major-league debut (3-for-4, 1 walk, 2 RBI) and Carlos Santana.
The turnaround was a real shame for Phelps, who has not had much to show for an impressive string of starts. Over his past six outings, Phelps is 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA. Considering the state of the Yankees’ rotation, four-fifths of which have landed on the disabled list, Phelps has proved a real boon for the Yankees.
The Indians’ late outburst only served to illuminate early missed opportunities by the Yankees to pile on to their lead. They left 11 runners on base over the first six innings, twice standing the bags loaded.
A couple of Triple A call-ups were responsible for the Yankees’ offense. Zelous Wheeler hit a two-run home run in the fourth. One inning later, Yangervis Solarte, just back from Scranton with Carlos Beltran on the 7-day concussion list, singled in a run. Derek Jeter had two hits for his 1,000th career multi-hit game, only the sixth major-leaguer since 1900 to reach that plateau. Ichiro Suzuki’s pinch single in the eighth inning was his 2,800th hit in the majors on top of the 1,278 he had in Japan. Suzuki might have been called on to pitch if Miller had been unable to get the third out of the eighth inning.
The loss was a blow to the Yankees going into a three-game set at Baltimore. The Orioles beat Washington to move four games ahead of the Yankees in the American League East standings, which means the Yankees cannot move into first place even with a series sweep the weekend before the All-Star break.
Triumphant was not the word for Andy Pettitte’s return from the disabled list Monday night, but the Yankees triumphed anyway. The lefthander did not survive the fifth inning, retired the side in order only once and squandered a three-run lead in his second consecutive unsuccessful attempt for career victory No. 250.
Pettitte pitched from the stretch a good portion of his 83-pitch outing, his 500th career start, in which he allowed four earned runs, seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts and two wild pitches in 4 2/3 innings. It was by no means classic Pettitte, who was in trouble in nearly every inning. Perhaps it was a matter of rust, but at a time when the Yankees are in search of anything to get through this rough patch Pettitte was simply not his usual self.
It showed mostly in the fifth when he coughed up the 4-1 lead given him two innings earlier by Mark Teixeira’s eighth career grand slam on a liner into the front row of the right field stands off Indians ace Justin Masterson. That was a big blow for Tex, whose name was being smeared all day by talk-radio smart alecks who dumped on him for his slow start (1-for-9, seven strikeouts) after missing seven weeks with a severe right wrist injury.
“We got more hits and walks in one inning off Masterson than we did the whole game the last time we faced him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, noting that the Cleveland righthander pitched a four-hit, no-walk shutout against them May 13 at Progressive Field.
Pettitte posted a shutdown inning in the fourth, which was good to see, but got into immediate trouble in the fifth when Drew Stubbs led off with a double to right-center. An infield hit by Michael Bourn put runners on the corners. Mike Aviles knocked in a run with a rarely-seen sacrifice fly to second base. Actually, the ball was in shallow center field where Robinson Cano made the catch with his back to the infield and could not get the throw home in time to prevent Stubbs from scoring.
Pettitte got a big second out when Asdrubal Cabrera grounded out and pulled up lame running to first base and had to come out of the game because of a right quad strain. Pettitte lost the plate as he walked Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds to load the bases. Carlos Santana supplied the fatal blow with a smoking, one-hopper past off the glove of third baseman David Adams that bounced into the stands for a two-run double that tied the score and ended Pettitte’s night.
That cost Andy any chance for a winning decision, but his teammates got him off the hook for a possible losing decision when they rallied with two out in the sixth to regain the lead, 6-4, on a two-run single by Brett Gardner. Masterson made a questionable decision to cut off Bourn’s peg home from center between the mound and the plate because the second runner, Austin Romine, a catcher, was quite a ways up the line when the pitcher gloved the ball, a break for the Yankees.
Travis Hafner put the finishing touches on the Yankees’ 7-4 victory with a home run off his old teammates in the seventh. Shawn Kelley (3-0), Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera (20th save) picked up Pettitte with 4 1/3 scoreless innings of one-hit relief.
Ichiro Suzuki was named the American League Player of the Week for the period ending Sept. 23. It marked Ichiro’s fourth career weekly honor and his first with the Yankees. The previous time he won the award was for the period ending Sept. 26, 2010 with the Mariners.
Suzuki batted .600 with three doubles, two home runs, five RBI, seven runs and six stolen bases in six games and 25 at-bats. For the week, he led all players in batting average, hits, steals and on-base percentage (.630), was tied for second in total bases (24) and ranked third in slugging percentage (.960) and tied for fourth in runs.
The center piece of the week for Ichiro was Wednesday’s split-admission doubleheader sweep of the Blue Jays. In the day game, Suzuki had a double among three hits and scored two runs as the Yanks beat Toronto. In the night game, Ichiro had 4-for-4 at the plate and on the base paths. His double in the eighth inning knocked in the deciding run of a 2-1 victory.
It was the second time in his career in which Suzuki collected at least four hits and four stolen bases in a single game (previously accomplished July 20, 2004 against Boston). Ichiro was the first player in the majors to do it since the Rangers’ Julio Borbon Aug. 15, 2009 and the first Yankees player since Rickey Henderson had five hits and four steals April 11, 1988.
It marked the first time that Ichiro recorded at least three hits in each game of a doubleheader and he became just the seventh Yankees player to do so since 1969 (last by Derek Jeter in 2008). After going 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, three RBI and two runs in a 10-7 victory over the Jays Thursday to complete a three-game sweep, Ichiro helped lead the Yankees to their seventh straight victory Saturday, going 3-for-5 with two walks, a homer and three runs in the 10-9, 14-inning triumph over the Athletics.
Other noteworthy performances last week included the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (.346, 4 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI), the Rays’ Jeff Keppinger (.440, 11 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI), the Indians’ Carlos Santana (.308, 3 HR, 8 RBI) and the Tigers’ Doug Fister (shutout over the White Sox Sept. 22).
For all the attention Derek Jeter’s chase for 3,000 hits has received, the bigger story from the Yankees’ standpoint Wednesday night was the return of Phil Hughes after 12 weeks on the disabled list due to a dead arm caused by right shoulder inflammation.
An All-Star and 18-game winner in 2010, Hughes was supposed to be a major piece of the puzzle on the Yankees’ pitching staff this year but raised question marks as early as spring training when the velocity on his fastball barely passed the tepid stage.
The amazing comeback of Bartolo Colon, who will start Thursday night against the Rays at Yankee Stadium, allowed Hughes time on the DL to sort out his problems. It is fair to say that the results of his first start back from injury, a 5-3 loss to the Indians, were mixed.
It was certainly Hughes’ best outing of the season, but that is hardly overwhelming praise since he entered the game with a 13.94 ERA, which is an indication of how poor his first three starts were before he was disabled. The righthander pitched the five innings required of a starter for a winning decision for the first time this year but left the game with the Yankees trailing, 2-0.
All the damage was in the first inning in which Hughes took a while to get settled. He walked the leadoff hitter, gave up two singles for a run, threw a wild pitch and watched the second run score on an errant throw to third base by catcher Russell Martin.
Hughes gained some composure and got out of the inning without further damage. Despite the Indians getting the leadoff man on base in three of the next four innings, they did not score and stranded eight runners while Hughes was on the mound, a situation that would continue for the Tribe throughout the game.
The Indians left the bases loaded in the sixth inning against reliever Boone Logan with Alex Rodriguez making a sprawling play to his left at third base to glove a hot grounder by Carlos Santana and throwing him out at first base. Another big defensive play that inning was left fielder Brett Gardner’s throw to Martin at the plate on the fly to keep a runner at third base.
Cleveland had six hits and two walks off Hughes, who also hit two batters. His fastball topped out at 93 mph, although he was mostly in the 89-91 range and threw an assortment of breaking pitches and an occasional cutter not relying on it as much as he had in his earlier starts, which is an encouraging sign.
One night after banging out 17 hits in a 9-2 victory, the Yankees managed only three hits in eight innings off the Tribe’s hard-throwing Justin Masterson, including a double by Jeter in the eighth for career hit No. 2,997. Happy to see Masterson leave, the Yankees jumped on reliever Vinnie Pestano in the ninth on singles by Rodriguez and Robinson Cano and a double by Nick Swisher, all of whom scored.
That rally put more of an onus on relievers Logan and Sergio Mitre than Hughes for the runs they allowed late. Logan, still struggling against lefthanders, hit Travis Hafner with a pitch before A-Rod’s run-saving play and gave up the first major-league home run to lefty-swinging rookie Lonnie Chrisenhall in the seventh. The Indians, who stranded 13 runners and had 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position, scored two runs in the eighth against Mitre with a hit and three walks, including one with the bases loaded.
After two straight games in which fielding miscues were major parts of losses, the Yankees had the tables turn in their favor Tuesday night at Cleveland. The Indians’ failure to turn what looked like a sure double play opened the doors for the Yanks to put up a five-spot in the second inning.
Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco, who had not walked a batter in his previous two starts, got himself in trouble with back-to-back walks to Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner that loaded the bases in the second inning with one out. The rally seemed dead when Francisco Cervelli hit a bouncing ball to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Here is where Gardner’s speed comes in. Second baseman Cord Phelps took the toss from Cabrera for the out at second, but Gardner got close enough to the bag to make a takeout slide that forced Phelps to hurry his throw. It bounced in front of Carlos Santana, a catcher by trade who was playing first base. Mark Teixeira would have handled that throw easily, but Santana, essentially out of position, couldn’t make the play.
Nick Swisher scored on the play, which of course he would not have if the third out had been made at first base. Next came the floodgates for Carrasco, who gave up a two-run double to Derek Jeter and a two-run home run to Curtis Granderson that gave the Yankee a sudden 5-0 lead that appeared enormous considering CC Sabathia was on the hill for them.
The Yankees have blessed Sabathia with the most run support (7.5 runs per game) of any starter in the American League this year. After Granderson homered a second time in the fourth inning to make the score 6-0, it marked the 10th time in Sabathia’s 19 starts that the Yankees scored six or more runs.
The score got to 9-0 while CC was in the game, which was for seven innings in which he did not allow a run, scattered five hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts to run his record to 12-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Sabathia’s 12 victories before the All-Star break two years in a row makes him the first Yankees pitcher to do that since Tommy John in 1979-80. Sabathia has won five straight starts and nine of 10.
CC will have one more start before the All-Star break Sunday at Yankee Stadium, which is said to be the reason he was not put on the AL All-Star roster because he would not be able to pitch. But how dumb will it look Tuesday night in Phoenix when the AL squad is announced before the game and Sabathia isn’t standing there with them?
Robinson Cano was named one of the four AL representatives in the Home Run Dereby (with David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez of the Red Sox and Juan Bautista of the Blue Jays against the National League’s Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks of the Brewers, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Matt Holliday of the Cardinals).
Meanwhile, Granderson is having a Home Run Derby of his own in the regular season. Two more bombs giving him three in four at-bats raised his season total to 25 to tie Teixeira for the club lead. Grandy is only five jacks short of his career high, and there are 78 more games to go.
Granderson had three hits and was joined by seven teammates with two apiece, including Jeter, who raised his career total to 2,996. With only one more game left on the trip, it is looking good that DJ will get to 3,000 at Yankee Stadium where the Yankees return Thursday night for a four-game series against the Rays.
A couple of former Yankees combined to beat their old team Monday night at Cleveland in a 6-3 Indians victory that was a scoreless pitching duel for six innings between A.J. Burnett and the Tribe’s Josh Tomlin.
The key hits in Cleveland’s four-run seventh inning were an RBI single by Shelley Duncan and a three-run home run by Austin Kearns.
Duncan, son of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, played in 68 games over the 2007, ’08 and ’09 seasons with the Yankees and batted .219 with 8 home runs and 24 RBI in 146 at-bats. Kearns was a mid-season acquisition by the Yankees last year and hit .235 with 2 home runs and 7 RBI in 36 games and 102 at-bats. The second of those homers came Aug. 22, and was the last one he hit before Monday night.
An irony is that neither Duncan nor Kearns might have batted that inning had Alex Rodriguez or Brett Gardner been able to catch a foul ball near the left field line by Lonnie Chisenhill. There were two outs and a runner on second base with Burnett holding a 2-0 lead when Chisenhill hit the foul ball.
A-Rod, running with his back to the infield, seemed to have a beat on the ball, so Gardner sort of backed off, but the ball fell free. Chisenhill eventually walked, Burnett’s second base on balls of the inning. That brought up Duncan, who won a seven-pitch at-bat with a flare single to right that made the score 2-1. Burnett lost the lead when he grooved a 1-0 fastball to Kearns, who crushed the pitch and drove it through the wind blowing in from right field at Progressive Field.
It marked the second straight game when a fielding miscue factored in a Yankees loss. An error by shortstop Ramiro Pena proved costly in the Yankees’ 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Mets Sunday at Citi Field.
Curtis Granderson made it a one-run game in the eighth with his 23rd home run, but Corey Wade gave up his first runs as a Yankee in eight games in the bottom half when he gave up a single to Travis Hafner and a home run to Carlos Santana.
It was a whole different game over the first six innings. Tomlin, who improved his record to 10-4, had a no-hitter through six that was broken up by Mark Teixeira’s leadoff single in the seventh. Nick Swisher followed a one-out, infield single by Robinson Cano with a double to left-center for two runs. The Yankees failed to get Swisher home as Jorge Posada and Russell Martin both grounded out.
Burnett entered the seventh working on a two-hit shutout with both hits by All Star Game-bound shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. A.J. seemed more upset after the game about the two walks in the seventh rather than the two hits. He was right, too. Those hits became productive for the Indians because of the walks.
It was a disappointing return for Derek Jeter, who was hitless in four at-bats and remains at 2,994 for his career.
Fresh off an 18-hit attack Sunday, the Yankees came out swinging in the first inning Monday night with the first two hitters, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson, getting singles. Jeter’s hit was career No. 2,994. A walk to Mark Teixeira loaded the bases with none out, and it appeared that the Yankees were headed for a big inning.
Then something strange happened. Alex Rodriguez hit a high fly to medium center field where Michael Brantley positioned himself to make a throw to the plate after catching the ball. Jeter got in position to tag up after the catch, but after taking a couple of steps toward the plate he stopped and apparently was unaware that Brantley doubled-clutched and never did throw the ball as Jeter returned to third base.
Why Brantley held on to the ball is anyone’s guess, but it seemed as if he just decided not to throw because Jeter did not run for the plate. The Yankees still had a chance to do some damage, but Robinson Cano struck out and Nick Swisher grounded out to shortstop. So with a bases-full, no-outs situation the Yankees came up empty.
Indians manager Manny Acta shook up his lineup in an attempt to turn fortunes around for the Indians, who were on a four-game losing streak and had been beaten 14 times in the past 18 games – five by shutout scores. Acta dropped Brantley from leadoff to third with designated hitter Grady Sizemore going in the other direction and also flip-flopped catcher Carlos Santana and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera from second to cleanup.
Cabrera, who is running a close second to Jeter in American League All-Star balloting, batted fourth for the first time this season and knocked in the Tribe’s first run off A.J. Burnett with a single through the hole between third and short in the fourth inning to score Brantley, who had led off with a triple off Swisher’s glove in right-center.
Burnett was pitching to Francisco Cervelli subbing for Russell Martin, who was a late scratch from the starting lineup due to a reoccurrence of back stiffness, which had kept him on the bench for four games before Sunday. That proved a brutal game for Martin, who made six out by going 0-for-4 with two double plays and watched the Indians steal five bases.