Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’

Awakened offense & CC end 4-game slide

With one swing of the bat in the fifth inning Saturday night, Chase Headley gave the Yankees more runs than they had scored in each of the prior four games. The two-out, three-run home run off a 3-2 changeup from Royals lefthander Danny Duffy broke a 1-1 game and sent the Yankees toward ending that four-game losing streak.

Headley’s fifth home run of the season was more than welcome to CC Sabathia, who has suffered from lack of run support this year. The 6-foot-7 lefthander rewarded all his teammates with his finest start of the season for his second straight winning decision.

Before Headley’s bomb, the Yankees’ only run was the result of three walks and a sacrifice fly (by Carlos Beltran). They did not get a hit until the fourth inning, a bloop singe to left field against an overshift by Stephen Drew, in keeping with the recent offensive drought. In the previous four games, the Yankees’ run totals were 1, 1, 2 and 2.

The Yankees showed a healthy sign when with two outs in the fifth Mark Teixeira and Beltran singled. Headley took care of the rest, jumping on a full-count lollipop from Duffy, who has struggled this year (5.87 ERA).

Against a lineup that totaled 12 runs and 17 hits the night before, Sabathia was masterful, even in the inning in which he allowed a run. The Royals loaded the bases on three straight singles in the third, an inning that might have been a disaster, but a sacrifice fly by Mike Moustakas was the extent of the damage. CC kept the other runners on base with strikeouts of 3-4 hitters Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer.

Sabathia used his fastball inside to right-handed hitters and his slider to left-handed swingers in limiting the Royals to six hits and no walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. Over the years, he built a reputation as a breaker of losing streaks, and Sabathia did that precisely Saturday night.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each pitched a shutout inning of relief to preserve the victory for Sabathia. Miller lost a shot for a save when Alex Rodriguez made the score 5-1 with a home run in the top of the ninth.

There were other positive signs as well, such as two hits apiece by Beltran and Drew. Didi Gregorius, who entered the game late as a defensive replacement, got to bat in the ninth and ripped a double down the right field line.

If the Yankees are going to maintain their lead, now two games, in the American League East, they are going to need contributions across the board.

Yankees have plenty of pop at the Trop

Tropicana Field was where the Yankees began to turn their season around last month with a three-game sweep of the Rays to get back to .500 after a 3-6 start. Good times at the Trop continued for the Yankees Monday night, who made sure they would leave St. Petersburg after Thursday night’s game still in first place in the American League East.

The 11-5 victory pushed the Yankees’ lead over Tampa Bay to four games. It was a satisfying triumph in many ways but probably mostly for CC Sabathia, who ended a 13-month losing streak. The big guy earned his first victory since April 24, 2014 at Boston. CC had been winless in nine starts since with seven losing decisions, although he spent much of that time on the disabled list because of a knee injury.

The Yankees’ offense exploded against Rays righthander Alex Colome, who had allowed only one home run all year until the Yanks connected off him four times. Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran had solo shots, but the big blows were a pair of two-out, three-run home runs by Chase Headley in the fourth inning and Brett Gardner in the sixth. Colome watched his ERA climb from 1.80 to 5.63.

Mark Teixeira, who had a four-hit night, smacked the Yankees’ fifth home run of the game in the ninth off reliever Erasmo Ramirez, a two-run shot that was the only one hit with less than two out.

Sabathia, who has had a recent history of giving up leads, was hard pressed to gag the 9-1 spread his teammates had opened up before the seventh-inning stretch. The Yankees had averaged only 2.27 runs per game in support of Sabathia before Monday night and made up for that big-time.

The winning decision, the 209th of Sabathia’s major league career, tied Vida Blue for 24th place on the all-time list of left-handed pitchers’ victories.

Sabathia got off to a shaky start. He walked the first two batters on nine pitches and gave up a one-out double to Logan Forsythe that scored a run to negate A-Rod’s first inning jack (career No. 662). CC caught a break when Steven Souza, thinking Gardner might catch Forsythe’s drive, tagged up at second base instead of playing it half-way down the line and was unable to score ahead of shortstop Didi Gregorius’ blistering relay to the plate that nailed the runner.

CC settled down after that and retired 11 batters in a row before surrendering his second hit, a one-out single in the fifth by Asdrubal Cabrera, who was erased on a double play. By that time, the Yankees had a 5-1 run lead that grew the next inning on Gardner’s homer.

Sabathia shows signs of tiring in the seventh in allowing solo home runs to Forsythe and Joey Butler and an unearned run, but his teammates kept pouring it on to make sure the run support was sufficient.

There were plenty of positive signs for Yankees hitters. Teixeira raised his batting average from .212 to .239. Headley had four RBI. Beltran’s 2-for-5 game continued his heating-up May in which he is batting .324 with four doubles, two home runs and seven RBI in 37 at-bats following an April in which he hit .162 with five doubles, one triple and seven RBI in 68 at-bats.

The 14-hit assault helped the Yankees to a 4-0 mark at the Trop and 6-1 overall against the Rays this season.

W’s continue to elude CC

If nothing else, CC Sabathia gave the Yankees length Wednesday night. Other than that, quite frankly, there was nothing else.

Sabathia pitched one out into the seventh inning, but once again he came up empty, even against longtime Yankees patsy Mark Buerhrle. The Yankees have not given Sabathia much run support this year, and while manager Joe Girardi claims CC could have two or three victories by now that 5.45 ERA says otherwise. It has gotten to the point that the Yankees need to score six runs for CC to win a game. True. It can happen. Look at Buerhle. His record is 4-2 despite a 6.00 ERA.

Toronto leads the league in runs scored, and the Blue Jays had their hitting cleats on again with 12 knocks in a 5-1 victory that ended several streaks. The big one from the Jays’ point of view was the 12-game losing streak Buehrle had going against the Yankees over the past 11 seasons. The lefthander allowed one run over five innings and is now 2-12 in his career against them.

The big one from the Yankees’ point of view was that of five straight winning series by dropping two of three in Toronto. It was still a good trip overall at 4-2 but somewhat dissatisfying because the Yankees were 3-0 at one point leaving Boston. They kept their hold on first place for the 14th straight day since April 23.

Another streak stopped was the lossless stretch by the rotation as Sabathia became the first Yankees starter to suffer a losing decision since he was beaten by the Mets April 25 10 games ago. The rotation had been 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in the past seven starts since Masahiro Tanaka went on the disabled list.

Sabathia’s record now stands at 0-5 as he has gone winless for 13 months. The lefthander took the mound with a 1-0 lead, but he gave it up in the second inning by hanging a breaking ball to 9-hole hitter Ezequiel Carrera, who grounded a two-run single to right field.

A balk by Sabathia in the fourth inning led directly to another run on a single by Chris Colabello, the Triple A Buffalo call-up who had four hits Wednesday night and was 6-for-8 in the series.

Russell Martin, a one-time batterymate of Sabathia, had an even more productive series against his former team. He homered in the seventh inning in his second straight 3-for-4 game. Martin also had the game-winning hit as a pinch hitter Monday night. He was 7-for-9 in the series with two doubles, two home runs and three RBI. Martin, who also scored three runs and stole a base, entered the series batting .227 and finished it hitting .286.

The only positive streak that continued for the Yankees was that of Jacoby Ellsbury (1-for-4), who has hit in nine straight games. Infielder Jose Pirela, who sustained a concussion in spring training, was activated and doubled and singled his first two times up. Pirela took the place of fellow infielder Gregorio Petit, who was placed on the DL because of a bruised right hand, a result of being hit by a pitch Tuesday night.

A-Rod’s 660th homer a game winner

Obviously, the best thing about Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run, which tied him with Willie Mays for fourth place on the career list, was that it was a game winner for the Yankees. A-Rod admitted that he was disappointed when he saw that his name was not in the starting lineup Friday night at Fenway Park as manager Joe Girardi decided to load up on left-handed hitters against Red Sox righthander Justin Masterson.

The Boston starting pitcher was out of the game by the time Rodriguez got a chance to swing the bat in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter against another righthander, reliever Junichi Tazawa. The score was tied. The count went to 3-0. The green light was on. A-Rod swung at the next delivery and drove a smoking liner over the Green Monster for his first career pinch homer and a 3-2 Yankees lead, which held up thanks to the 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

It was an eventful way to start off the trip, a victory over division and traditional rival Boston on a chilly evening at Fenway where A-Rod’s major-league career began 21 years ago. Again, the bullpen came through with four scoreless innings of one-hit, three-strikeout relief. Miller secured his ninth save to preserve a winning decision for fellow reliever Esmil Rogers, who pitched a shutout seventh.

CC Sabathia went the first six innings and was dependable if not spectacular. The lefthander allowed only two runs but caught big breaks when potential RBI doubles bounced over fences to keep two other runners from scoring. Sabathia walked two batters and struck out three and remains winless for the season.

The Yankees got Sabathia off the hook in the seventh when his catcher, Brian McCann, tied the score with a two-out, RBI single, a rare clutch hit for the Yankees on a night when they stranded 12 base runners. Their first run was also delivered with two out, on a double by Carlos Beltran in the first inning.

The Red Sox took the lead in the fourth on Allen Craig’s first home run of the season. But it would be another home run that altered the course of the game for the Yankees.

Yanks’ lineup leaning left at Fenway Park

Red Sox fans dying to boo Alex Rodriguez out of Boston will have to wait until late in the game Friday night if Yankees manager Joe Girardi should use A-Rod as a pinch hitter.

The skipper rolled out an all-left-handed batting order against Red Sox righthander Justin Masterson for the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park. Girardi decided to use Garrett Jones as the DH over Rodriguez, who bats right-handed and has two hits in his past 17 at-bats, a .118 stretch that has lowered his season batting average to .232.

Switch hitters Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Chase Headley will be batting from the left side along with teammates Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius and Jones. Even the Yankees’ starting pitcher, CC Sabathia, is left-handed, although he will not bat.

The computer got Rodriguez. Left-handed batters are hitting .275 in 51 at-bats against Masterson while righties are hitting .194 in 36 at-bats off him. Rodriguez is a career .250 hitter (3-for-12) with three strikeouts against Masterson.

Girardi to give rotation additional rest this week

Yankees manager Joe Girardi mentioned earliet this season that the Yankees would rest the starting pitchers by going to a six-man rotation. The first such situation will occur in the upcoming three-game series witj the Rays at Yankee Stadium starting Monday night.

Girardi said before Sunday night’s finale of the Subway Series with the Mets on ESPN that the Yankees plan to call up Chase Whitley from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre to start the second game of the series Tuesday night. Masahiro Tanaka, who was originally scheduled to start Tuesday night, will start Wednesday afternoon’s game instead. The rest of the roration will get an additional day off because Thursday is an open date. Michael Pineda, the original scheduled starter for Wednesday, will now start Friday night in Boston on six days’ rest.

Whitley has made three starts for SWP and has a 2-0 record with a 2.12 ERA. The righthander, who had been a contender during spring training for the fifth starter’s role that was won by Adam Warren, allowed four runs and 13 hits with six walks and 13 strikeouts in 17 innings without allowing a home run.

Girardi made a change in Sunday’s lineup in sitting down center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, whose right hip tightened in Saturday’s 8-2 loss to the Mets. Ellsbury made a spectacular, lunging catch to rob Eric Campbell of an extra-base hit in the fourth, one inning after he grounded into a run-scoring double play in which he hustled hard to try to avoid getting doubled up. Girardi replaced Ellsbury with Chris Young in the eighth inning. With the Yankees six runs down, Girardi did not want to tax Ellsbury any further.

Young started in center field Sunday night and was in the 2-hole as Brett Gardner took Ellsbury’s usual spot at leadoff. Once again, Didi Gregorius was out of the starting lineup against a left-handed starter, in this case the Mets’ Jonathan Niese. The shortstop has a history of problems against lefties. This year, Gregorius, batting just .212 overall,  is 2-for-12 (.167) against lefthanders and hitting .225 against righthanders. For his career, Gregorius is a .260 hitter against righties and a .183 hitter against lefties. Stephen Drew shifted to shortstop with Grtegorio Petit playing second base.

As part of an initiative between Major League Baseball and ESPN to bring atention to Little League teams around the country, a team from Police Officer Michael Buczek Little League in the Washington Heights section of Manhatttan made an appearance on the set of ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. The youngsters were also invited down to the field at the Stadium to watch  the Yankees and the Mets take batting practice before the finale of Round 1 of the 2015 Subway Series. Following batting practice, the Little League team also had the opportunity to interview Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia. The group was provided with tickets to the game,  goodie bags and food vouchers.

Tale of 2 pitchers favors Mets over Yanks

Saturday was a tale of two pitchers at Yankee Stadium. There was just too much Matt Harvey for the Yankees and not enough CC Sabathia.

Harvey, who grew up in Connecticut as a Yankees fan, pitched as if he had lifted the entire Mets team on his shoulders. He came within one out of a complete game and paid the Yankees back for ending his team’s 11-game winning streak Friday night. The 8-2 victory improved Harvey’s record to 4-0 and dropped Sabathia’s to 0-4.

“I didn’t give us a chance at all,” Sabathia said. “I was missing spots. Everything was up. I couldn’t keep the cutter down. I couldn’t find a rhythm.”

CC beat himself up almost as much as the Mets did. One start after a strong, complete-game outing at Detroit albeit a loss, Sabathia was rocked for seven runs and nine hits in five-plus innings as his ERA skyrocketed to 5.96. As he walked off the mound in the sixth inning, the 6-foot-7 lefthander was targeted by boo birds, which did not surprise him.

“You pitch bad, you get booed,” he said. “I gave up a lot of two-strike hits. I couldn’t finish hitters off.”

The killer two-strike hit was probably a single by Wilmer Flores that followed a triple by Juan Lagares in the fourth inning. It was a two-out, two-strike hit that made a 2-1 game 3-1 and saved an at-bat for rookie catcher Kevin Plawecki, who got his first major-league home run to make it 5-1.

That spread seemed enormous considering the way Harvey was pitching. Showing no ill effects in coming back from Tommy John surgery, the Mets ace looked like a young Roger Clemens.

The first Yankees’ run scored as Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a double play in the third inning. Harvey walked Brett Gardner after that and then retired 10 batters in a row before Mark Teixeira smacked his eighth home run of the season and third of this series which concludes Sunday night on ESPN with the Yanks’ Nathan Eovaldi against the Mets’ Jon Niese.

Sabathia has been successful in keeping the ball in the yard in his first three starts. He had given up only one home run in 20 2/3 innings. Yet he was stung for three long balls Saturday. Lucas Duda started the parade with a solo shot in the first inning. The two-run blow by Plawecki climaxed a four-run fourth for the Mets, and Eric Campbell went yard to start the sixth.

“CC struggled with location,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He made mistakes up in the zone. I’m not going to make too much of one start. All starters are going to have clunkers. We’ll get him back to work and get him right.”

The Mets do not have to do that with Harvey. He was at 91 pitches at the start of the ninth inning and got two outs quickly. Teixeira then hit a ground single to right field through the shift. Harvey lost a chance for the complete game when he walked Brian McCann. Mets manager Terry Collins felt that at 107 pitches his stud was done for the day.

It was an unseemly sight for Yankees fans as Mets fans drowned them out at the Stadium. That hurt more than the boos.

Singles a rarity so far for Teixeira

Now there is something you do not see every day. Mark Teixeira got a single in the second inning Saturday. Facing the Mets’ fireballer Matt Harvey, Teixeira hit a soft spinner to the left side against the exaggerated shift applied by the Mets and beat it out for a single.

It was Tex’s 13th hit of the season but only the second single. He has become an extra-base hitting machine with four doubles and seven home runs, including a pair of two-run, second-deck shots to right field in the Yanks’ 6-1 victory Friday night.

Teixeira entered the game batting only .218, but his other offensive numbers are monstrous. He ranks fifth in the American League in slugging percentage at .673 and seventh in OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging at 1.006. There is another stat called Isolated Power that measures extra-base efficiency. It is derived by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. Teixeira’s .455 IP was the highest in the majors entering play Saturday.

Yankees pitchers had not allowed a home run in five straight games, the team’s longest such streak since an eight-game run from July 10-20, 2011. Mets first baseman Lucas Duda ended that streak in the first inning with a solo shot to right field off Yankees starter CC Sabathia. It was only the second long ball yielded in 21 innings this year by the big lefthander.

The third homer off Sabathia this year would prove more damaging. It was a two-run shot by Kevin Plawecki, the rookie catcher who was called up to fill in for injured Travis d’Arnau, out with a broken right hand.

Plawecki’s first major league home run and RBIs capped off a four-run fourth inning that might have been worse if not for some dazzling play in the outfield by Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner.

Ellsbury shaded towards right-center against Eric Campbell made a mad dash to left-center field and made a lunging catch to avert a sure double and a possible triple. Lee Mazzilli, who works with the outfielders in spring training, calls that a “turn-and-burn” play.

Not even Ellsbury could come up with the smoking liner Juan Lagares drove to right-center for a triple that broke up a 1-1 score.   CC couldn’t stop the bleeding and gave up a two-out, RBI single to Wilmer Flores before Plawecki went deep.

The inning became more embarrassing for Sabathia when he lost the race to first base covering what became an infield single for former teammate Curtis Granderson. This has been a problem this season for CC, who has slowed down considerably because of his size and surgical right knee.

Gardner saved Sabathia’s bacon with a diving catch in left field to snare a low liner by John Mayberry Jr.

Yanks can’t prevent Tigers from late-inning comeback

The Yankees tried to carry the momentum of an uplifting weekend at Tampa Bay into Detroit, but the regenerated offense failed to follow them. They scored merely one run Monday night, a total seldom enough to prevail against the Tigers’ powerhouse.

And yet it almost was this time with CC Sabathia on the mound dealing with a hard-breaking slider and a tantalizing changeup to go with a fastball that occasionally rang in the low 90s. It also helped that the Yankees played exceptionally in the field and ran down several well-struck balls to the outfield.

Sabathia faced the minimum number of batters through the first six innings working with a 1-0 lead supplied by Mark Teixeira’s solo home run (No. 4) in the second inning off Alfredo Simon, who kept the Tigers close in not allowing a run after that.

The Tigers did not get a runner into scoring position until the seventh inning when they turned the game around into their favor. Rajai Davis led off with a single and raced to second after tagging up on Ian Kinsler flyout to deep left field. Miguel Cabrera, who grounded into double plays his first two times up, again hit the ball to the left side. Shortstop Didi Gregorius took a chance throwing the ball to second base in an attempt to trap Davis off the bag, but his throw was saved by second baseman Stephen Drew, who was able to get the second out of the inning by throwing to first base to get the plodding Cabrera.

The Yankees decided to walk Victor Martinez intentionally, which made sense with an open base and the designated hitter having hit the ball sharply in his first two at-bats with nothing to show for it. 

J.D. Martinez is no day at the beach, either, and he proved that with a slashing single off Gregorius’ glove in the hole that scored Davis with the tying run. Detroit grabbed the lead on a single up the middle by Yoenis Cespedes. J.D. Martinez headed for third base hoping to draw a throw to allow the slower Victor Martinez to score from second.

It worked, too. Jacoby Ellsbury threw to third base. While J.D. Martinez was eventually tagged out for the third out, Victor Martinez had already crossed the plate with what proved the deciding run.

Do not fault Ellsbury for the move. Cespedes’ grounder hit the lip of the grass behind second base, which slowed the ball down as the center fielder playing deep was charging. I doubt Ellsbury’s throw to the plate was certain to nail Victor Martinez.

The 2-1 Tigers lead would hold up because a familiar figure to Yankees fans pitched out of a jam in the eighth. With runners on first and third and one out, Joba Chamberlain came out of the bullpen to face Ellsbury, who hit the ball hard but into a rally-killing double play. 

There may be some second-guessing about a play before the DP when third base coach Joe Espada held Chase Headley at third base rather than waving him home from second base on a single to center by Gregorius. What Espada could not anticipate was that Davis, the Detroit center fielder, would bobble the ball for a moment before recovering a firing a bullet to the infield. Headley was no cinch to score in that spot, so I cannot fault the third base coach for playing it safe.

Joakim Soria made it 5-for-5 in saves with a scoreless ninth inning as the Tigers improved to 11-2 while the Yankees fell below .500 again at 6-7.

It was a tough loss for Sabathia, who looked a lot like the CC of old in the first complete game for a Yankees starter this season. To hold the Tigers to two runs and seven hits through eight innings is quite a feat. His record fell to 0-3, but the Yankees have every reason to be encouraged.

Yanks having a fielding renaissance as well

Carlos Beltran, who sat out the last two games against the Rays at St. Petersburg, Fla., found someone else in the 3-hole in the Yankees’ batting order when he returned to the lineup Monday night at Detroit.

Not surprisingly, it was Alex Rodriguez, who entered the game leading the Yankees in batting (.316), home runs (4), RBI (11), slugging (.711) and on base percentage (.447). Manager Joe Girardi said he would leave A-Rod in that spot for the time being.

Mark Teixeira drew even with Rodriguez in home runs when he jumped on a hanging splitter from Alfredo Simon leading off the fourth inning. Tex’s fourth bomb of the year was his first batting left-handed. He has been a much better hitter from the right side in the early going. Entering the game, Teixeira was a .286 hitter right-handed with three home runs and three RBI in 14 at-bats and a .125 hitter left-handed with three doubles and five RBI in 24 at-bats.

In addition to their bats waking up against Tampa Bay over the weekend, the Yankees also slapped some impressive leather. They did not commit an error in their three-game sweep of the Rays after having made 11 errors in their first nine games.

The defensive improvement continued Monday night. Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez was robbed twice of hits on catches after long runs by left fielder Brett Gardner in the second inning and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth. Also in the fifth, Gardner made a fine grab coming in on the run to keep J.D. Martinez off base. Gardner found out how it feels to get robbed when Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias made a tremendous play deep in the hole and threw him out at first base.

The Yankees also turned a couple of double plays behind CC Sabathia in victimizing Miguel Cabrera both times.


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