Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’

Tex, CC vow to be back this month

Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are determined to return to the Yankees before the regular season is completed. Tex joined CC on the 15-day disabled list Friday, retroactive to Aug. 27, which allowed the Yankees to recall pitcher Nick Rumbelow from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Teixeira, who is back on crutches while dealing with a right shinbone bruise, told reporters before the game against the Rays that he plans to return to the club at some point this month. General manager Brian Cashman said, “We are looking at weeks,” when talking of Teixeira’s time away, but the All-Star first baseman vows it will be only two.

“There’s progression now,” Teixeira said. “There’s going to be a build-up, from walking to jogging and running, making sure I can do everything. That’s why I’m back on the crutches, really letting the whole thing calm down and starting from scratch. Hopefully this weekend, I’ll be off the crutches and getting into walking again. There’s no permanent damage. It’s just a really bad bone bruise, worse than we first expected. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully we have two months of the season left, so there’s plenty of time for me to get healthy and come back.”

Sabathia, disabled since Aug. 24 because of inflammation in his right knee, pitched a four-inning simulated game, which impressed manager Joe Girardi, who said the lefthander is a candidate to return to the rotation Wednesday night against the Orioles.

“I felt good,” Sabathia siad. “No pain. I tested it pretty good as I would as if I was in a game, so I’m excited.”

The Yankees’ 13-8 victory over the Red Sox Wednesday at Fenway Park was the 800th of Girardi’s managerial career (722 with the Yankees since 2008, 78 with the Marlins in 2006 when he was the National League Manager of the Year). Girardi is one of 10 active managers with at least 800 victories. The others alphabetically are the Giants’ Bruce Bochy, the Mets’ Terry Collins, the Indians’ Terry Francona, the Pirates’ Clint Hurdle, the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, the Athletics’ Bob Melvin, the Angels’ Mike Scioscia, the Orioles’ Buck Showalter and the Royals’ Ned Yost.

More tests for Teixeira’s ailing right leg

Mark Teixeira had hoped to be healthy enough to play in Boston, but while the Yankees were preparing for Monday night’s series opener at Fenway Park their first baseman was headed back to New York for more tests on his right leg.

Teixeira injured the leg Aug. 17 when he hit a foul ball off an area near his right shin. He has started one game and totaled three at-bats since then. Tex has been able to swing a bat — he takes BP regularly — but has difficulty running. When he awoke Monday and was still in pain, Teixeira decided another round of tests was needed.

Rookie Greg Bird has been playing first base in Teixeira’s place and entered Monday night’s game batting .255 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 51 at-bats. Yankees manager Joe Girardi also said using Alex Rodriguez at first base is no longer out of the question, which would not be the case if Teixeira were healthy. Since April 27, Rodriguez has played only two innings in the field (one at third base and one at first). A-Rod has worked out at first base the past three days. He was back in the lineup Monday night as the designated hitter after having made only two pinch-hitting appearances over the weekend in Atlanta with the DH prohibited in National League parks.

CC Sabathia, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of right knee inflammation, has resumed throwing on the sidelines. General manager Brian Cashman was quoted as saying that Sabathia would return to the rotation immediately upon his reinstatement from the DL.

The Yankees’ 20-6 victory over the Braves Sunday marked the second time this season they scored at least 20 runs in a game. The other was a 21-5 victory July 28 at Texas when they had a seven-game lead in the American League East that has since been overtaken by the Blue Jays. The Red Sox are the only other team that has scored 20 or more runs in a game this season — a 22-10 victory August 15 over the Mariners at Fenway Park.

The Yanks are one of 18 major league teams since 1900 that have scored at least 20 runs in multiple games in a season and just the second since 2001 (the Phillies did it twice in 2008). The Yankees have done it five times — three times in 1939 and twice apiece in 1931, 1949 and 1999. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was only the third time since inter-league play began in 1997 that an AL team scored at least 20 runs in an NL ballpark.

The Yankees’ nine-run seventh inning was their third time scoring at least that many in an inning in the past 31 games (nine in the seventh Aug. 4 against the Red Sox, 11 in the second July 28 at Texas).

Stephen Drew, who grew up in Georgia, went 4-for-4 with three runs, one home run, four RBI and two walks Sunday at Atlanta. He became the third Yankees player this season to reach base safely six times in a game. The others were Brett Gardner (three hits, three walks July 28 at Texas) and Jacoby Ellsbury (four hits, one walk, one hit by pitch May 3 at Boston. Drew and Chase Headley (3-for-3, three runs, one double, one home run, four RBI, two walks) were the first pair of Yankees teammates to each get three hits, three runs and four RBI in the same game since Aug. 23, 1999 by Tino Martinez (4-for-6, three runs, four RBI) and Scott Brosius (4-for-6, 4 runs, six RBI). Also in that game, Girardi was 4-for-6 with a career-high seven RBI.

Eovaldi answers Girardi’s call to step up

With CC Sabathia going on the disabled list Monday because of inflammation in his right knee that could scratch him for the rest of the season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called for other starters in the rotation to step up.

Let it be said that Nathan Eovaldi stepped up.

Eovaldi had nothing to show on his record for his eight formidable innings in the 1-0 victory over the Astros Monday night that sent the Yankees back into a first-place tie with the Blue Jays in the American League East.

Birthday boy Brett Gardner (32) scored the only run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran, who played in his 1,000th AL game. Beltran has also played in 1,269 games in the National League and became the sixth (and only active) player to play at least 1,000 games in each league. The others: Bob Boone, Vladimir Guerrero, Fred McGriff and Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Dave Winfield.

The Yankees had relief pitcher Oliver Perez to thank for this one. The lefthander who wore out his welcome with the Mets years ago faced three batters, walked each one (one intentionally) and threw a wild pitch before Beltran sent everyone home with a fly ball to deep center field off righthander Chad Qualls.

The winning decision went to Andrew Miller (2-2), who pitched the ninth inning in continuing the string of zeroes Eovaldi set up.

Although he was stuck with a no-decision, Eovaldi remained undefeated in 12 starts since his last loss June 16 at Miami. The hard-throwing righthander went into triple digits several times in lighting up the radar gun and was at his best in getting out of tight spots.

Eovaldi showed the sort of grit Sabathia has been known for by pitching out of four jams in his scoreless duel with Houston starter Scott Feldman, who also fashioned eight shutout innings.

After a first inning in which Astros hitters watched three fastballs clocked at 101, 100 and 101 from Eovaldi, two one-out singles put him to his first test, which he passed with flying colors by striking out Chris Carter and Hank Conger.

That in itself is not remarkable considering Houston has struck out more than 1,100 times already this season. The Astros have the lowest team batting average (.240) in the AL but the most home runs (169). It is often feast and famine for the Stros, who swing and miss a lot.

Two of the three walks Eovaldi issued came in the fifth, but he ended the threat by getting Marwin Gonzalez on a ground ball to second base. Houston threatened again in the sixth when Carlos Correa led off with a single and Colby Rasmus walked. A sacrifice bunt by Carlos Gomez advanced the runners, but Eovaldi saw to it that they went no farther.

Rookie first baseman Greg Bird fielded a hard grounder by Evan Gattis and caught Rasmus wandering too far off second base to get the second out before Luis Valbuena ended the inning with a flyout to center.

In the eighth, a wild throw to first base by Chase Headley for his 20th error put Correa at second base with one out. Eovaldi set down Rasmus and Gomez on routine fly balls. In the Gomez at-bat, Eovaldi hit 100 on the gun with his 106th and 107th pitches. Remarkable.

Eovaldi has always been a hard thrower, but he has developed into more of a pitcher this year for several reasons, beginning with using his power to work his fastball inside. He has gotten ahead in the count regularly to make use of his split-finger fastball and has been working on a slider, which Girardi felt was the best he has seen all year from him.

Over his past 12 starts, Eovaldi is 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 73 2/3 innings that has dropped his season ERA from 5.12 to 4.00. He is 5-0 with a 3.08 ERA in 12 starts at Yankee Stadium covering 73 innings.

The Yankees had several chances to give Eovaldi a lead. In the second inning, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew singled with none out, but Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a fielder’s choice, Gardner struck out and Alex Rodriguez flied out.

Drew’s hit brought his batting average to .200 for the first time since his fifth at-bat of the season April 8 when he was 1-for-5. It came in his 227th plate appearance. Alas, Drew was hitless in his next two at-bats to fall back to .199.

Brian McCann, who reached base in all four times up with three singles and a walk, began three innings with singles, including the seventh when he crossed to third on a single off the right field wall by Beltran. Unfortunately, the slow-legged catcher tried to score on a fly ball to center but was thrown out at the plate by Gomez.

McCann’s walk in the ninth was the third given up by Perez and loaded the bags for Beltran, who spared Girardi from having to use Mark Teixeira as a pinch hitter with the huge sacrifice fly.

Starters must step up while Sabathia mends

It was not that long ago that Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke of CC Sabathia’s value during a stretch run because of all the pitchers on the staff, especially in the rotation, he had by far the most experience with dealing with the pressure of that time of the season.

There is a good chance now, however, that Sabathia’s presence as the Yankees head into September will be nothing more than as a consultant or cheerleader. The 6-foot-7 lefthander was placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday because of inflammation in his right knee that cut short his start Sunday to 2 2/3 innings in an eventual loss to the Indians that knocked the Yankees out of first place in the American League East when the Blue Jays bounced back from a 5-1, first-inning deficit to beat the Angels, 12-5.

Sabathia sounded confident that he would be able to pitch again this season, but the reality is that he has pitched all season on a damaged knee that has undergone two surgeries and finally gave out after two drainings and a cortisone injection over the past two months.

What this does to Girardi’s plans of using a six-man rotation to give an extra day’s rest to his starters is to scrap them. “We will not need a sixth starter every turn through the rotation,” Girardi said.

The Yankees re-signed lefthander Chris Capuano to a major-league contract after his third designation for assignment over the past four weeks. The lefthander could be used as a spot starter at certain junctures.

Adam Warren, who began the season in the rotation but has done a splendid job in late-innings relief, will remain in the bullpen. So, too, will Bryan Mitchell, who is scheduled to pitch a simulated game Tuesday in his first time back on the mound since Aug. 17 when he sustained a broken nose after being struck in the face by a line drive off the bat of the Twins’ Eduardo Nunez.

Girardi credited Sabathia, who has a 4-9 record and 5.27 ERA, with gutting his way through 24 starts this season with that knee.

“He is a real competitor and was extremely gutsy,” Girardi said. “He took the ball every fifth or sixth day and gave us everything he had. Now the other guys are going to have to step up.”

The stepping up had to begin Monday night with Nathan Eovaldi taking an eight-game winning streak against an Astros club that is leading the AL West by four games and just won three games in a row against the Dodgers, including victories over Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the last two games.

Mark Teixeira, still hobbled by a bruised right shin, took batting practice for the first time since hurting the leg a week ago, and had no problems swinging the bat but is still unable to run at full strength. Teixeira said he could be available as a pinch hitter, but Girardi may wait to use Tex in the field until Friday night when the Yankees open a three-game series at Atlanta.

The set against the Braves and the second Subway Series Sept. 18-20 at Citi Field against the Mets present Girardi the question of whether to use Alex Rodriguez in the field in preparation for the possibility of the Yankees playing in the World Series.

A-Rod has been exclusively a designated hitter most of the year. He started two games at third base and one at first base but has played only two innings in the field (one at third, one at first) since April 27. Girardi said he has no plans to start Rodriguez in inter-league competition but added, “If we have to double switch in the National League ballparks, then all bets are off.”

Too bad Pettitte was not warming up

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.”

Andy Pettitte

Andy Pettitte

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

HOPE Week: Vacations for cancer patients

HOPE Week concluded Friday with a visit by Yankees pitchers CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova and Adam Warren and infielders Brendan Ryan and Greg Bird, who surprised Frank Squeo at Rockland BOCES in West Nyack, N.Y., to bake cookies with him and his family.

Squeo, 47, was diagnosed with Stage III testicular cancer in 2007. During the months that followed, he began his fight against cancer, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. Just as troubling to Frank, there were many children who were battling their cancer alongside of him – kids who did not know a life beyond hospitals or their disease. Frank promised himself that when he overcame his illness, he would do something to help these children.

In 2012, the Rockland County resident founded Baking Memories 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that sells chocolate chip cookies during the holiday season. The sales from those cookies fund all-expenses-paid vacations for the families of children with life-threatening illnesses to Give Kids the World Village, an Orlando, Fla., resort designed specifically for children with disabilities and illnesses.

While on their vacations, children and their families have the opportunity to visit any of the Orlando-area amusement parks and receive VIP treatment. If a child falls ill on the trip or is too sick to go out, the amusement park of their choosing brings the excitement to them at the resort.
Strictly by word of mouth Frank and local volunteers sold more than 3,000 batches of cookies during their first holiday season in 2012. They were able to more than double their sales in their second season.

In less than three years, Frank has processed more than 10,000 cookie orders and sent 10 families to Orlando on their dream vacation. In 2015, they have committed to sending nine more families.

Prior to Friday’s game against the Indians, the Yankees will team with Baking Memories 4 ids to help surprise Noah Diaz and his family with an all-expenses-paid vacation. Noah Diaz is a four-year-old who suffers from a rare heart defect and Kabuki syndrome.

A-Rod’s slam takes bite out of dog days

What a way to break out of a slump. The dog days of August have had their clutches on Alex Rodriguez all month, but he did some major barking of his own with a grand slam off J.R. Graham in the seventh inning Tuesday night that turned a 4-1 deficit to the Twins into a 5-4 lead for the Yankees, who went on to an 8-4 victory to stay one game ahead of Toronto in the American League East.

How bad had things been going for A-Rod? Well, he was hitless in his previous 14 at-bats, had one hit in his past 27 at-bats and was hitting .125 with three doubles and two RBI in 56 at-bats in August.

But the inning was setting up in his favor as Twins lefthander Ryan O’Rourke kept putting runners on base — Chase Headley with a leadoff single and walks to Brendan Ryan and Brett Gardner. Graham was summoned to calm things down, but he threw gasoline on the fire with a flat fastball on a 1-0 count over the heart of the plate that Rodriguez crushed to right-center. The blow increased A-Rod’s major league record for grand slams to 25.

Yankees hitters have a major-league-high 32 home runs of at least three runs (25 three-run homers, seven grand slams. Just one other club has more than 20. The Yanks have scored 34 of 69 runs this month on home runs. Yankees pitchers meanwhile have allowed 3 homers of at least three runs (12 three-run homers, one grand slam).

It was the first home run for Rodriguez since July 27, his 40th birthday, at Arlington, Texas, when he joined Ty Cobb, Rusty Staub and Gary Sheffield as the only players to hit home runs before their 20th and after their 40th birthdays. A-Rod had gone 72 at-bats between home runs, and the timing to end that drought could not have been better.

The salami took Yankees starter CC Sabathia off the hook. He retired the first 13 batters of the game and was in a 1-1 game in the top of the seventh when Minnesota took the lead on a two-run home run by Miguel Sano and added a run on three straight singles later in the inning.

But while Sabathia has not had much run support when he has been on the mound this season he has received it quite often after he has come out of games. Tuesday night marked the seventh time this year the Yankees have come back to score enough runs to spare CC a losing decision. His 4-9 record may be unsightly, but it could be 4-16.

Headley, who got the game-winning RBI in the 10th inning Monday night, was supposed to have Tuesday night off. He came off the bench to start the seventh-inning rally with a single, remained in the game at third base and knocked in two more runs in the eighth with a double. Some day off.

Mark Teixeira did get the night off with a shin bruise. Rookie Greg Bird played first base and got his first major-league RBI with a single in the fourth inning to score Carlos Beltran, who had doubled as part of a 2-for-4 performance that continued his torrid hitting since the All-Star break (.303, 13 runs, seven doubles, six home runs, 12 RBI, 13 walks).

Yet this looked like a Twins night until A-Rod howled back at that August moon.

CC incident incidental to rotation change

Bryan Mitchell starting Monday night instead of CC Sabathia had nothing to do with the lefthander getting into a shouting match on the streets of Toronto during the Yankees’ recent series there. A videotape of the incident made the Internet rounds Monday, but Sabathia was not involved in the brawl that ensued soon after the pitcher was shoved into a taxicab by a cousin and left the scene.

“I think I was definitely lucky the other night that I had friends to push me in the cab, that cared enough to get me out of that situation,” Sabathia told reporters before Monday night’s game. “It was a bad decision on my part.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the decision to start Mitchell and push back everyone in the rotation one day was made after Sunday’s game and had nothing to do with Sabathia’s exchange of harsh words with hecklers in Toronto. Girardi told Mitchell of the change on the charter flight back to New York. Twins manager Paul Molitor confirmed this Monday night when he said his club was notified of the change late Sunday night.

Girardi told reporters before Monday night’s game that he was not even aware of the Sabathia incident until Monday afternoon. The skipper also said that players have to be more careful now than ever before because with the preponderance of cell phones today there is really no such thing as privacy anymore.

Yanks fall out of 1st place with 5th straight loss

First place no longer belongs to the Yankees, and they have no one to blame but themselves. The scoring deficiencies continued Wednesday night as they managed only four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Indians. That is nine runs in the past seven games for the Yanks, who dropped out of the top spot in the American League East for the first time since July 1.

The Blue Jays pushed their winning streak to 10 games with yet another resounding victory over the Athletics, 10-3, to nudge a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the standings. While it is true that the Yankees still have one fewer loss than Toronto they now have two fewer victories that the juggernaut they will face again this weekend at Rogers Centre after completing the three-game series at Cleveland Thursday.

The Yankees have no beef with their pitching, which once more kept them in the game. CC Sabathia, back in his former stomping grounds at Progressive Field, went six innings the night after the Yankees needed eight pitchers to get through a 16-inning loss. He gave his teammates needed length and quality as well.

Sabathia was touched for nine hits but only two runs as the Tribe stranded seven base runners and had 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position in his time on the mound. But with the Yankees scoring only one run Sabathia was hung with the losing decision that dropped his record to 4-9.

Brian McCann blasted his way out of a 0-for-16 slump with a home run in the second inning, but Indians starter Danny Salazar did not run into trouble again until the seventh but worked out of it. With runners on second and third and one out, Salazar retired Didi Gregorius on a pop in front of the mound and struck out Chris Young.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have pinch-hit for Young in that spot with Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not start, but chose not to. I cannot second-guess the skipper there. Ellsbury was benched for good reasons: he is in a 0-for-19 slide and is hitting .178 in 118 at-bats since coming off the disabled list July 8 as his season batting average has plummeted from .324 to .260.

Salazar walked Brett Gardner and Chase Headley with one out in the eighth, but Cody Allen came on and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into a double play. The Yankees’ only threat in the ninth was when McCann reached first base on a third-strike wild pitch. John Ryan Murphy ran for him but was stationary as Carlos Beltran lined out to left and Gregorius struck out.

The Yankees had another solid defensive game, especially Gregorius at shortstop who has been the lone shining light in this dreary stretch of five straight losses. But he took a 0-for-4 collar as part of the slender offensive showing.

The dog days of August are begging to take their toll on Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the 3-4 hitters whose turnaround seasons from suspension and injury, respectively, were primary reasons the Yankees had been in first place for the better part of six weeks. A-Rod is batting .162 with two doubles and two RBI in 37 at-bats this month and Tex is hitting .175 with two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.

At the top of the order, Ellsbury and Gardner, who had been the catalysts earlier in the year, are a combined 3-for-39 (.077) with zero runs scored or stolen bases in the losing streak. There is no mystery as to what is sinking the Yankees right now. It is all right there in those unsightly statistics.

Ellsbury gives Yanks boost before Blue Jays series

Welcome back, Jacoby Ellsbury. Oh, sure, he has been back with the Yankees for a month now, but to be honest the center fielder has been quiet at the plate for much of that time.

Until Thursday night, that is. Ellsbury got all of a 2-1 pitch from Red Sox lefthander Eduardo Rodriguez for a home run into the second deck in right field in the seventh inning that unlocked a 1-1 score and sent the Yankees toward a 2-1 victory.

The timing could not have been better. With the Blue Jays running their winning streak to five games on the eve of coming to Yankee Stadium for a three-game series, the Yankees maintained their 4 1/2-game lead over Toronto in the American League East. Friday night’s matchup pits former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey for the Blue Jays against the Yanks’ Nathan Eovaldi, who has the best winning percentage (.846) in the major leagues with an 11-2 record.

CC Sabathia did not have to worry about dehydration with a more pleasant evening humidity-wise and gave the Yankees six strong innings (one run, three hits, three walks, eight strikeouts), and the bullpen trio of Justin Wilson (4-0), Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (24-for-24 in saves) worked a scoreless inning apiece to put this one away.

Ellsbury had combined with Brett Gardner to form a productive 1-2 punch at the top of the order over the first two months of the season but missed 43 games because of a sprained right knee. Since coming back, Ellsbury batted .196 with three doubles, one triple, three home runs and 16 RBI in 97 at-bats as his season batting average shrunk from .324 to .275. He was in a 3-for-25 (.120) slump before getting hits in his last two at-bats of the game.

While his defense in center field has been superb since early July, Ellsbury seemed to be feeling his way back offensively. His fifth home run of the season was certainly hit with authority, and it was good to see Gardner and him teaming up once more. They each scored one of the Yankees’ runs Thursday night.

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