Results tagged ‘ CC Sabathia ’
The Yankees simply could not hang on to a lead Thursday night. These see-saw battles often end with the team up last winning, which was the case as the Rangers turned them away, 7-6, with a run in the bottom of the ninth inning. After winning six consecutive series, the Yankees had to settle for a split of the four-game set in Arlington, Texas.
CC Sabathia, pushed into starting with Michael Pineda (strained right forearm flexor muscle) going on the 15-day disabled list, set the tone by failing to cling to leads of 3-0 and 5-4. The lefthander has squandered a dozen leads this season, most in the majors.
The Yankees staked Sabathia to a three-run advantage before he took the mound as they jumped on Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a triple down the left field line. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Brett Gardner. One out later, Mark Teixeira connected for the first of two home runs in the game. After a single by Brian McCann and a walk to Carlos Beltran, Chase Headley knocked in the third run of the inning with a two-out single.
It did not take long for Sabathia to lose that lead. He gave up leadoff singles to Delino DeShields and Elvis Andrus and allowed the Rangers to tie the score on one swing, by Josh Hamilton off a hanging breaking ball.
Sabathia entered the game having held left-handed batters to a .189 batting average for the season and no home runs in his past 15 starts. Leading off the second inning, another left-handed hitter, Shin-Soo Choo, took Sabathia deep for a 4-3 Texas lead.
The Yankees gave Sabathia another chance in the third when his catcher, Brian McCann, smacked a two-run home run. Texas tied the score an inning later on an inside-the-park home run by Ryan Rua on a drive to center that Ellsbury played poorly. He dived for the sinking liner and had it get past him all the way to the wall as Rua circled the bases.
Sabathia came out of the game after giving up a leadoff single to Rua in the sixth, but Justin Wilson struck out Choo and induced a double-play grounder from Robinson Chirinos. Sabathia had to be hospitalized after the game because of symptoms of dehydration. The temperature in Arlington was 100 degrees for the first pitch.
Teixeira’s second homer, a solo shot in the seventh, put the Yanks in front again. It was career homer No. 389 for Tex, who tied Hall of Famer Johnny Bench on the all-time list.
A leadoff walk to Chirinos and a wild pitch by Wilson in the bottom of the seventh proved costly. Chirinos had to stop at third on a hard-hit single to left by Andrus off Dellin Betances but scored on a fielder’s choice by Prince Fielder.
The Rangers loaded the bags after that but failed to score. The Yankees also filled the bases with two out in the eighth but did not plate a run as Gardner struck out. Hamilton’s fourth RBI on a two-out single off Andrew Miller (0-2) in the bottom of the ninth did in the Yankees.
Miller, on the mound for the first time since last Saturday, did not appear sharp and was hit hard. Ellsbury made a fence-crashing catch to take down a drive by Andrus. Miller caught a break when a sizzling liner by Leonys Martin hit DeShields running from first to second, but nobody got in the way of Hamilton’s line single that was the game winner.
The Yankees maintained their six-game lead in the American League East with the Blue Jays jumping into second place over the Orioles, whose five-game winning streak ended. Fortified by trades that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price to Toronto, the Jays pose a threat to the Yankees, who have 13 games remaining against the Canadian club this season.
The Yankees’ rotation suffered a severe blow Thursday night as Michael Pineda, who had been scheduled to start against the Rangers at Arlington, Texas, was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained right forearm flexor muscle. This is an injury similar to the one sustained by closer Andrew Miller, who was sidelined for nearly a month, from June 10 to July 7.
CC Sabathia was to start on regular rest in place of Pineda, who has a 9-7 record with a 3.97 ERA. Manager Joe Girardi pushed back the starters one day in the rotation hoping to give them extra rest. So much for that.
Meanwhile, the availability of starting pitchers in the trade market lessened with the deals that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers and David Price to the Blue Jays. The Yankees have been reluctant to swap any of their top prospects for pitching help. The non-waiver trade deadline is 4 p.m. Friday.
The Yanks did add a player Thursday, versatile reserve outfielder Dustin Ackley, who was obtained from the Mariners in exchange for two minor-leaguers, pitcher Jose Ramirez and outfielder Ramon Flores.
Ackley, 27, batted .215 with 22 runs, eight doubles, one triple, six home runs and 19 RBI in 85 games and 186 at-bats this season for the Mariners. In 584 career games over five major-league seasons with Seattle, the left-handed batter has hit .243 with 42 homers and 201 RBI in 2,012 at-bats. A native of Winston-Salem, N.C., who was a University of North Carolina teammate of Yankees pitcher Adam Warren, Ackley has played second base (282 games), left field (207), center field (71), first base (18) and right field (2) in the majors.
Ramirez, 25, made three relief appearances for the Yankees this year and was not involved in a decision with a 15.00 ERA in three innings. The righthander was 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in 11 career games totaling 13 innings with the Yankees.
Flores, 23, made his big-league debut with the Yankees in 2015 and batted .219 with three runs and a double in 12 games and 32 at-bats. The left-handed batter had three stints with the Yankees (May 30-June 10, June 21-23 and July 3-8). At Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Flores hit .286 with 43 runs, 11 doubles, seven homers and 34 RBI in 73 games and 276 at-bats.
Mark Teixeira saw his share of blazing fastballs last week. At the All-Star Game in Cincinnati, he faced the Reds’ hard-throwing Aroldis Chapman and ended the game by swinging through a 103-mph heater from the game’s hardest thrower.
So after that, what is a 98-mph fastball to Teixeira? Mariners reliever Fernando Rodney, another of baseball’s muscle men among pitchers, got ahead in the count 1-2 on Teixeira with 98-mph gas with two out in the eighth inning Sunday. Rodney then made the mistake of throwing the same pitch in the same location on the next delivery, which Teixeira crushed to right field for a home run that broke up a tie game and sent the Yankees toward a 2-1 victory.
There were an abundance of contributions Teixeira made to this victory, which increased the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to four games over the Orioles, who moved into second place Sunday and will arrive at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to open a three-game series.
Teixeira had two other hits in Sunday’s game, both singles, including a knock in the sixth inning off Felix Hernandez that sent Brett “White Shoes” Gardner to third base from where he scored on a clutch, two-out single by Carlos Beltran, who was fresh off the disabled list, that tied the score. Tex also made a dazzling catch leaning over the railing behind first base on a ball hit by the dangerous Nelson Cruz for a big out in the top of the eighth.
The home run was Teixeira’s first hit off Rodney in 10 career at-bats against the righthander, who lost his closer job last month and has been used in a set-up role ever since. Tex’s play on Cruz helped the Yankees’ set-up reliever, Dellin Betances, get through the eighth in which he allowed two walks. The homer created the winning decision for Betances (6-2), thanks to Andrew Miller’s 1-2-3 ninth for his 20th save.
Although he was not involved in the decision, CC Sabathia had his second straight encouraging outing. He gave up one run, six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in six innings. Pitching for the first time in 11 days, Sabathia appeared strong despite the 92-degree heat. CC worked both sides of the plate, utilizing the cut fastball he has been working on and a hard-biting slider.
Sabathia’s only troublesome inning was the fifth when he gave up singles to Jesus Montero and Chris Taylor, who were sacrificed to third and second bases, respectively, by .158-hitting catcher Mike Zunino.
Austin Jackson singled to center for one run as Taylor stopped at third. He stayed there, too, as Sabathia came back to strike out Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano, who had combined for four home runs and seven RBI over the previous two games. Justin Wilson stranded a runner at third base in the seventh before the late-inning combination of Betances and Miller did their magic.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi talked with Sabathia before the All-Star break and reminded him of his importance to the staff both as a performer and a motivator.
“He is the one guy who has been there,” Girardi said, referring to pennant races among pitchers in the rotation. “We need him to be big for us. The ability is there. It has been a matter of consistency of pitches. He expects to do well and works hard at his trade. He understands this is his time of year.”
Teixeira continues to be a prime candidate for Comeback Player of the Year honors. His 23 home runs and 63 RBI exceed his output in those categories for all of last year (22 homers and 62 RBI in 123 games). Of his 23 home runs this season, 12 have either tied the game (four) or given the Yankees the lead (eight), and of his 74 hits this season, 40 have gone for extra bases (17 doubles, 23 homers).
Another Comeback Player of the Year candidate, Alex Rodriguez, singled in the first inning for his 3,023rd career hit to tie Lou Brock for 24th place on baseball’s all-time hits list. A-Rod is batting .320 in 41 games and 147 at-bats at home this season . . . Over his past 15 games since June 16, Beltran is batting .340 with six runs, five doubles, three home runs and eight RBI in 15 games and 50 at-bats . . . The Yankees have a 6-1 record this season in games started by former Cy Young Award winners.
The Yankees’ All-Stars corrected themselves Wednesday night and were major factors in a 5-4 victory over the Athletics that turned into a nail biter in the last inning.
One night after going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and grounding into a double play, Mark Teixeira clubbed two home runs (Nos. 21 and 22) and made two sparkling plays in the field. He leaned into the Yankees’ dugout to snare a foul by Billy Burns for the first out of the seventh and made a sprawling stop of a hot grounder by pinch hitter Josh Reddick and dived into the bag for the final out of the eighth.
Dellin Betances, who gave up the home run to Brett Lawrie in the 10th inning Tuesday night that sent the Yankees to a 4-3 loss, was back in his familiar set-up role Wednesday night and set the A’s out in order in the eighth with two strikeouts before the Tex web-gem on Reddick.
Andrew Miller returned to his closer role after coming off the disabled list but had a wire act in the ninth as Oakland turned it into a one-run game on a two-run home run by Marcus Semien with one out. Miller struck out Burns for the second out, but a throwing error by third baseman Gregorio Petit put the potential tying run on second base. Petit got a second chance on a ground ball by Ben Zobrist and got the final out of Miller’s 18th save.
For the second straight night, Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the bullpen early in taking out his starter after 5 1/3 innings. CC Sabathia, who gave up two runs, seven hits and two walks with one strikeout, got his first winning decision in five starts since June 7, although his ERA is still a hefty 5.47. Bryan Mitchell finished the sixth for Sabathia, and Justin Wilson followed with a perfect seventh.
Another important substitution by Girardi was putting Stephen Drew into the game on defense at second base in the top of the seventh. Drew came to bat an inning later and won a nine-pitch duel with Fernando Abad by smacking his 12th home run of the year, not a bad total for a .179 hitter. It proved to be the difference in the game.
Jacoby Ellsbury also came off the DL and was back in the leadoff spot. He had an infield single in four at-bats. Brett Gardner dropped back into the 2-hole and reached base three times on a single and two walks.
An interesting situation may have opened up for Gardner. The Royals’ Alex Gordon, who was voted by fans as the starting left fielder for next week’s All-Star Game at Cincinnati, was carted off the field at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night after suffering a left groin strain, the severity of which will be determined by an MRI Thursday. If Gordon has to be replaced on the American League roster, Gardner stands a chance at making the team. He and Tigers left fielder Yoenis Cespedes are two outfielders among five Final Vote candidates, so it would behoove Yankees fans to get Gardner as many votes as possible to improve his chances at being picked for the squad by AL manager Ned Yost of the Royals.
Fans may cast their votes until 4 p.m. Friday. To receive the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote mobile ballot, text the word VOTE to 89269 (USA) or 101010 (Canada). Message and data rates may apply. Up to five messages may be received following your vote. Text STOP to opt-out at any time. For help, text HELP. Voting is also open on Twitter as well Friday, using the hashtag #VoteGardy. Voting is very easy at yankees.com, so please visit that site.
Miami is the only one of 30 major league teams that CC Sabathia does not have a victory against, a situation that remained after his start Thursday night. While Sabathia failed to get that first winning decision over the Marlins, he avoided being tagged with a loss, thanks to his teammates.
The Yankees came back from a 3-1 deficit with two outs in the sixth inning against Miami starter Mat Latos when rookie Mason Williams lashed his second double of the game to right-center and Brett Gardner followed by driving a 2-0 pitch to right for his sixth home run to knot the score.
The Yankees had tried to give Sabathia a big cushion with a first-inning rally that fizzled after Gardner, Chase Headley and Alex Rodriguez all singled to produce a run. A one-out walk to Brian McCann loaded the bases, but Carlos Beltran struck out and Didi Gregorius popped out to shortstop.
Sabathia followed the lead of Michael Pineda Wednesday night by retiring the Marlins in order the first time through the batting order, but unlike Pineda, who also did that a second time through the lineup, CC’s no-hit bid ended in the fourth when Dee Gordon hit a liner into the right field corner and legged out a triple. After Adeiny Hechevarria struck out, Christian Yelich grounded out to second with Gordon crossing the plate with the tying run.
The Marlins took the lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Mathis. In the sixth, Giancarlo Stanton clocked his 25th home run on a drive to left off a 1-0 pitch. Sabathia did not walk a batter and struck out seven, but he was looking at a possible ‘L’ before the Yanks’ two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth.
They had Latos on the ropes several times but let him wiggle free. The Yankees stranded six base runners in the first three innings and eight through five.
Beltran, who heard his share of boos from the crowd of 38,239 at Yankee Stadium when he left five runners on base combined in the first and fifth innings, got the fans on his side in the seventh when he broke the tie with a two-run home run to left off reliever Mike Dunn.
Rodriguez also singled in the fifth for his second hit of the game and career No. 2,999. He lined out to right field in the sixth and got one more at-bat in the Yanks’ four-run eighth as they pulled away toward a 9-4 victory.
Hungry to see A-Rod get his 3,000th hit, fans booed Sam Dyson heavily when he walked him on four pitches, none of which was anywhere near the strike zone. It was the second straight walk for Dyson, who ended up being charged with four earned runs in one third of an inning. McCann’s third hit of the game drove in a run as did Chris Young with a double and Stephen Drew with a sacrifice fly.
Rodriguez got payback when he scored from third base on a wild pitch.
CC Sabathia finally ended his Yankee Stadium drought and was ejected from a game for the first time in nine years all in the same afternoon. It was an altogether pleasant day for the Bombers, who extended their season-high winning streak to six games and completed a three-game sweep of the Angels.
It was the second consecutive series sweep for the Yanks, who took three in a row last week at Seattle. Sabathia said later that he wanted to get his money’s worth in griping with plate umpire Dan Bellino, who tossed the big fella as he came off the mount in the middle of the sixth inning for complaining about balls and strikes calls. Manager Joe Girardi sprung out of the dugout in his pitcher’s defense, and he was soon gone, too.
The Yankees had taken the lead the previous inning with a four-run outburst against lefthander C.J. Wilson (this was a day for initials on the mound) and would go on to a 6-2 victory, the first for Sabathia at the Stadium since Sept. 20, 2013 in an inter-league game against the Giants. In the interim, CC was 0-6 with a 9.42 ERA in 28 2/3 innings in the Bronx. He reached a milestone in the fifth inning with a strikeout of Johnny Giavotella, career No. 2,500 for the lefthander.
Sabathia got off to a shaky start. Mike Trout and Albert Pujols touched him for solo home runs one pitch apart in the first inning. CC settled in nicely after that and kept the Angels scoreless on three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. Girardi said later that he intended to have Sabathia go back out for the seventh inning, but Bellino had other ideas when CC mouthed off about pitch location. There seemed to be a lot of griping about the umpiring in the whole series. Major League Baseball may want to take a closer look.
Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless inning apiece to get CC back in the victory column at home.
Once again, the long ball came to the Yankees’ rescue. Three more home runs Sunday gave them six in the series and 74 in 57 games. The Yankees have homered in 14 of 16 games with a total of 27 since May 22. They have 15 homers in their past six home games and 38 in 25 games at the Stadium this year.
Jose Pirela, who had doubled and scored on an infield out in the third inning, cracked his first major-league home run in the seventh. Chris Young had tied the score with a solo homer leading off the fifth. Following one-out singles by John Ryan Murphy and Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner drove a 2-0 pitch to right for his fifth jack of the year and a 5-2 Yankees lead. The Yankees are 33-11 when Gardner has homered in his career. Pirela’s maiden shot two innings later was icing.
The six-game winning streak is the Yanks’ longest since a six-gamer July 1-6, 2013. They have won a season-high six straight home games (since 5/25), their longest home winning streak since winning six straight Aug. 20-31, 2013. Their last longer winning streak at home since a seven-gamer Sept. 15-22, 2012. The Yankees’ fifth series sweep this season was their first sweep of the Angels in a series of at least three games since July 29-31, 2003 at Anaheim (3-0) and their first such sweep of the Halos at the Stadium since Aug. 29-31, 1995 (3-0). The Yankees are 11-3 in their past 14 games against Los Angeles.
The Yankees will take the opportunity with open dates on their schedule Monday and Thursday of next week to skip Michael Pineda one turn in the rotation. Manager Joe Girardi said before Friday night’s game against the Angels that there is nothing wrong with Pineda physically and that the move was based on avoiding overtaxing the righthander.
“It is just a matter of innings,” Girardi said.
Pineda, who has a 7-2 record with a 3.33 ERA, was the winning pitcher Monday night at Seattle and was originally scheduled to make his next start Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium against the Angels. CC Sabathia will make that start instead on his normal rest. With an off-day Monday, Masahiro Tanaka can start Tuesday night against the Nationals with an extra day’s rest. Pineda’s next start will be pushed back to next Friday night at Baltimore.
Girardi noted that a right shoulder injury last year reduced Pineda’s workload to 76 1/3 innings, that he did not pitch in the major leagues at all in 2013 while recovering from right shoulder surgery and has never pitched more than the 171 innings he logged in his rookie season of 2011 with the Mariners when he made the American League All-Star team. Pineda has thrown 70 1/3 innings this year and is on a pace to pitch in more than 200 innings for the season.
Brian McCann was back in the lineup. The catcher had to come out of Wednesday’s game in Seattle because of a sore right foot. X-rays and an MRI were negative. McCann was fit with orthotics and declared himself ready to go after a round of batting practice.
Just a few days ago, it appeared that Stephen Drew was in the process of losing his job. He was benched for the last two games in Oakland only to resurface at second base Monday night in Seattle where he reached base twice with a walk and a single.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has continued to be supportive of Drew, who has spent the past two years well below the Mendoza line with a sub-.200 batting average. Girardi’s patience paid off Tuesday night when Drew avoided another hitless game with a two-out double in the ninth inning off Fernando Rodney to tie the score.
Drew’s RBI hit followed a clutch, pinch-hit single by Brian McCann that sent Chase Headley, who led off the inning with a walk. Had a pinch runner been used for McCann the Yankees might have gotten a second run on Drew’s double, but McCann had to stay on the bases because he had batted for John Ryan Murphy and would have to stay in the game to catch, which he did.
How satisfying was it to watch the third blown save in 17 tries for Rodney, who is such a showoff on the mound whenever he gets a save? Very.
Even more satisfying was the Yankees pulling out a 5-3, 11-inning victory in dramatic fashion. A three-run home run by Garrett Jones broke a 2-2 score, but the Mariners rallied for a run in the bottom of the inning on a single by former Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano off Andrew Miller, who then faced major-league home run leader Nelson Cruz with two on and struck him out.
It Drew who re-started the Yanks’ 11th-inning rally following a double play with a single to right. After Brett Gardner doubled, Jones went deep on a 2-0 pitch from lefthander Joe Beimel into the right-center field bleachers.
Much was made entering this series about the offensive struggles of Cano, who nearly a third of the way through the season is hitting below .250 with only two home runs. The same could have been said about another Mariners player with ties to the Yankees, but Austin Jackson looked like anything but a struggling player by reaching base six times on two doubles, two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch.
Three of Jackson’s hits came off Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who was nearly tagged with the losing decision that would have sunk his record to 2-8. To avoid having Sabathia face Jackson a fourth time, manager Joe Girardi took out the lefthander with two out and two on in the sixth inning.
Jackson handled reliever David Carpenter the same way he had Sabathia and doubled to center to score what looked for a while as if it would be the deciding run.
Jackson reached base a fifth time when he walked to lead off the ninth against Dellin Betances and quickly stole second. Cano had a chance to be the hero for the Mariners, but Betances blew him away with 98-mph petrol and kept Jackson at second base as the game went into extras.
The ninth-inning Yankees rally took Sabathia off the hook. He dealt with base runners throughout his 5 2/3 innings (nine hits, two walks) but let in only two runs as the Mariners stranded seven over the first five innings. It also spoiled Mike Montgomery’s shot at a victory in his major-league debut. The Seattle lefthander allowed one run and four hits in six innings, and that run was somewhat tainted. It was scored by Gardner, who had walked on a disputed fourth ball that replays showed he had actually gone too far around on a checked swing. Manager Lloyd McClendon and catcher Mike Zunino were ejected later in the inning for arguing a similar call in Alex Rodriguez’s favor.
CC got annoyed with Kyle Seager for trying to bunt a runner home from third for the third out of the fifth, but frankly I thought it was a smart play on Seager’s part. Sabathia may not like it, but his poor mobility should be tested more often by opponents. CC is lucky most major leaguers do not know how to bunt.
The Yankees may want to petition commissioner Rob Manfred to see if they can play games against Texas without a third inning.
For the second straight game, the Rangers teed off against Yankees pitching in the third inning Saturday as Texas sent 14 batters to the plate and scored 10 runs. Friday night, the Rangers had 10 batters come up in the third inning and score seven runs. That made it 17 runs in the third inning over two days.
Despite being down 7-0 Friday night, the Yankees made it a game and lost by a 10-9 count with the potential tying run on first base in the ninth. No such comeback was in the making Saturday as Texas held fast for a 15-4 victory.
The runs against the Yanks were the most in a game since April 19 last year at St. Petersburg, Fla., in a 16-1 loss and their most in a home game since Sept. 22, 2011 against the Rays in a 15-8 loss.
What made Saturday’s game strange was that the Yankees had their specialist pitcher in charge of ending losing streaks of four games or more on the mound. The Elias Sport Bureau reported that CC Sabathia had made four previous starts with the Yankees on a losing streak of at least four games (one in 2009, two in 2013 and one this year). His record in those starts: 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. Sabathia had pitched at least seven innings in each of those four starts (May 8, 2009 at Baltimore, May 31, 2013 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, June 16, 2013 at Anaheim and May 16 this year at Kansas City) and combined for four walks and 29 strikeouts.
Saturday was a whole different story, however. CC got off to a strong start with three strikeouts in the first five batters, but he never made it through the third inning, which got off to a ominous start when he walked the 9-hole hitter, .140-batting Jake Smolinski. The next four batters reached on singles with an error in right field Carlos Beltran contributing to the rally. When a two-run single by Elvis Andrus made the score 5-0, Sabathia was taken out of the game.
Esmil Rogers could not put a tourniquet on the inning. He hit the first batter he faced with a pitch and allowed an inherited runner to score on an opposite-field double by Carlos Corporan. A sacrifice fly by Smolinski and a two-run home run by Shinn-Soo Choo put Texas up by 10-0.
It marked their most runs allowed in a single inning since April 18, 2009 at home against the Indians when Cleveland scored 14 runs in the second inning of a 22-4 Yankees loss. It was the first time the Yankees allowed seven runs in one inning in back-to-back games (or in the same game) since June 19 (seven runs in the fourth inning) and 20 (eight runs in the sixth), 2002 at Denver and the first time at home since June 11 (nine runs in the fifth) and 12 (nine runs in the second), 1907 against the Tigers when the team was still known as the Highlanders and played at old Hilltop Park in Manhattan.
Rogers was charged with three runs in the sixth before giving way to Brandon Pindar, who was victimized in the seventh on a two-run home run by Prince Fielder, who hit two home runs Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were getting nowhere offensively against Rangers starter Nick Martinez, who improved his record to 4-0. The Yankees did not have a hit until the fourth inning when Alex Rodriguez led off with an infield single and advanced to second base on a throwing error by Adam Rosales. A-Rod never got past that base.
Martinez gave up two runs on solo homers by Beltran and Didi Gregorius. Beltran’s third homer of the year extended his hitting streak to 13 games. Gregorius homered for the second straight game. He had a three-run shot Friday night. So after going 205 at-bats without a homer, Gregorius homered twice in four at-bats.
Slade Heathcott, the outfielder called up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre while Jacoby Ellsbury (strained right knee) is on the disabled list, made his major-league debut Friday night and got his first two hits and first run as a major leaguer. Saturday he got his first big-league RBI with a run-scoring groundout followed an RBI triple by John Ryan Murphy.
The losing ways the Yankees experienced on the recent trip when they lost seven of nine games has followed them home. They have lost five straight games, their longest losing streak of the season, and nine of their past 10 games. Their overall record is barely over .500 at 22-21.
Among the more disturbing aspects of the game was another dismal showing by Sabathia at Yankee Stadium. He has not won in the Bronx since Sept. 20, 2013. Saturday was his sixth straight losing decision at the Stadium with a 9.42 ERA in those starts.
“When you don’t pitch well, you get booed,” he said.
It is never a good sign for a club when its mosst effective pitcher is its backup first baseman. Garrett Jones made his first major-league pitching appearance in the ninth inning and got the final two outs. He also walked one batter and hit one, yet his career ERA is 0.00.
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.