Results tagged ‘ Cy Young Award ’
The 2015 Hall of Fame election was one for the ages. For the first time in 60 years and for only the fourth time in the history of the voting that dates to 1936, as many as four players got the nod from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in this year’s election. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio are a classy quartet and proved so in Wednesday’s press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
Johnson and Martinez were particularly amusing discussing their time pitching at Yankee Stadium as opposing players. The “Big Unit,” of course, also wore the pinstripes for two seasons, although he readily admitted those were not the finest hours of his career. However, he conceded that he had a whale of a time.
“I won 34 games over those two seasons, but I didn’t pitch as well as people wanted,” Johnson said. “But to be able to sit down in the dugout and talk to Yogi Berra about the old days, to have Whitey Ford ask me to sign a jersey and then sit down and chat about pitching, what could have been better? To get to know Reggie Jackson really well and begin a long friendship, it was great. Reggie texted me [Tuesday] and said, ‘How did you get more votes than me?’ That’s Reggie.”
Johnson, who won five Cy Young Awards and was the co-Most Valuable Player of one of the most exciting World Series ever played (in 2001 for the Diamondbacks against the Yankees), has stronger memories of pitching against the Yankees than for them. He recalled the first time he was scheduled to pitch at the Stadium for the Mariners in 1992 he was followed into the park by Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver, then a Yankees broadcaster.
“I played college ball at the University of Southern California under the legendary coach Ron Dedeaux, who always referred to a player on the team as ‘Tiger,’ probably because he couldn’t remember names,” Johnson said. “So ‘Tiger’ became a sore of alumni sign. I was coming into the Stadium that day and I heard someone shout to me, ‘Tiger, Tiger.’ I knew it had to be a USC alum, and sure enough it was Tom Seaver. He wanted to know why I was carrying my own bags on a night when I was pitching. We became good friends after that. How can you not cherish such memories?”
“You were lucky,” Martinez chimed in. “You have no idea what it was like to pitch at Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox.”
Martinez was one of those Boston players Yankees fans loved to hate. The more abuse they could heap on him the better, but the diminutive righthander was never bothered by it. He eventually made New York his baseball home as well later with the Mets but saw a major difference between the two fan bases.
“I learned a lot while coming over to New York as a visitor with the Red Sox and also coming later on and dressing in the uniform of the Mets,” Martinez said. “In Queens, fans are wild, they’re happy. They settle for what they have. The Yankees fans do not. It’s ‘Win or nothing. Win or nothing.’
“Yankees fans were really good at trying to intimate you. As the opposition, they wanted to intimidate you. But deep in their heart, they appreciate baseball. They appreciate everything that you do. They recognize greatness. And they’re gonna boo you and they’re gonna call you, ‘Who’s your daddy?’ They’re going to chant until you just go away.”
I pointed out at the press conference a footnote that Martinez is the first pitcher under six feet in height to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 41 years since Whitey went in with his teammate and pal, Mickey Mantle, in 1974. I added that today Pedro stands as tall as the 6-foot-10 Johnson.
They were equals in effectiveness. Johnson’s 4,875 career strikeouts are second only to Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 and the most by any lefthander. The Unit’s five Cy Young Awards are two shy of Roger Clemens’ record, and his four in a row with Arizona from 1999-2002 matched a similar run by Greg Maddux, who was elected to the Hall last year, from 1992-95. Martinez led his league in earned run average five times and had a career 2.93 ERA, remarkable considering the era of offensive explosiveness in which he pitched.
And was there ever a pitcher in baseball who excelled equally as a starter and a reliever more than Smoltz? As a starter, he won a Cy Young Award (1996), and as a closer he won a Rolaids Relief Award (2002). He had moved to the bullpen while recovering from elbow surgery. Talk all you want about Dennis Eckersley, but he did not have the career as a starter than Smoltz did. And after three years as the Braves’ closer Smoltz returned to the Atlanta rotation and led the National League in victories in 2006.
This was a unique pitcher, and as I told John on the phone Tuesday when I notified him of his election as the BBWAA secretary-treasurer, “Unique players go to the Hall of Fame, and they go in right away.”
He told me that he was relieved and mentioned a breakfast we had together at the Stadium one Sunday last summer with David Cone and Lee Mazzilli and the talk was about the Hall of Fame. “I had just seen what that induction weekend was all about as a broadcaster for MLB Network as I watched my old buddies [Maddux and Tom Glavine] give their speeches,” Smoltz said. “I just wanted to low-key it after that and not get too caught up in it. So it’s quite a special feeling right now.”
Smoltz was courted by the Yankees as a free agent after the 2001 season, but he chose instead to stay in Atlanta. Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson took the new class of elected players to dinner Wednesday night at ‘21’ in midtown Manhattan. That is precisely the place the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner would have wined and dined Smoltz to seal a deal to come to the Bronx.
Biggio grew up on Long Island and played football and basketball at Kings Park High School in Suffolk County. He was a Yankees fan whose favorite player was Thurman Munson. Yogi was a coach with the Astros during his estrangement period from the Yankees and encouraged Houston officials to move Biggio from behind the plate to second base where his career took off.
Among his 3,060 career hits were 668 doubles, the fifth highest total in history and the most by a right-handed batter. Think of it, more than the likes of Honus Wagner, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron or Paul Molitor, now that is distinctive.
Idelson visited with Yogi in New Jersey over the past weekend, and the first words out of the legendary catcher’s mouth was, “Is my man Biggio going to make it?”
That was the day before we counted the ballots and discovered that we could tell Yogi a resounding “Yes.”
Masahiro Tanaka did not walk off the mound Sunday grabbing his right elbow, which was the best development of the day for him and the Yankees. Making his first start in 10 weeks after being treated for a partially-torn ligament in his elbow, Tanaka showed no ill effects of the injury and gave the Yankees encouragement about his status for next season.
The only negative aspect of the Japanese righthander’s outing was that he failed to go at least six innings for the first time in 19 starts. Manager Joe Girardi made the move to the bullpen after 5 1/3 innings. Tanaka was on a tight pitch count considering the circumstances, so when Edwin Encarnacion hit a ground single to right field against the shift on Tanaka’s 70th pitch the skipper felt he had seen enough, most of which was good.
“Pretty darn good,” Girardi said, then referring to catcher Brian McCann added, “Mac said his stuff was the same [as before he got hurt]. Now we’ve got to get him ready to start Saturday [at Boston]. His first pitch was 92 [mph]. I don’t think I was prepared for that. We haven’t had a lot of good news lately, so this was welcomed.”
Tanaka got off to a shaky start as he allowed hits to the first two Toronto hitters, but the run that scored on a double play proved the only one he would allow. He was touched for five hits and again displayed superb control by not walking a batter (he did hit one) and had four strikeouts. His splitter was on target as eight of the 16 outs he recorded came on ground balls.
“Overall, I was satisfied,” Tanaka said through a translator. “I wanted to check how well the elbow responded. I was able to go pretty strong. I was relieved. Gradually, as the game went on I stopped worrying about it.”
When Tanaka did walk off the mound, he did so with a 2-1 lead. The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the first on the first of two McCann home runs in the game and went ahead in the fifth on a homer by Brett Gardner, his 17th this season and No. 15,000 in franchise history. Both bombs were off Toronto’s hard-throwing starter, Drew Hutchison, who could not get through the fifth inning.
The Yankees attacked the Blue Jays’ bullpen in the seventh. Back-to-back doubles by Gardner and Derek Jeter off Todd Redmond accounted for one run, and McCann knocked in two more by greeting lefthander Daniel Morris with his second homer of the game and 22nd of the season.
Jeter kept up his torrid home stand with his fourth straight two-hit game, the first Yankees player 40 or older to do that and the first in the majors since the Braves’ Chipper Jones in 2012. DJ is 8-for-17 (.471) with three runs, two doubles, one home run, three RBI and a stolen base on the home stand.
A strong candidate for both Cy Young Award and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award consideration in the American League before he got hurt, Tanaka improved his record to 13-4 with a 2.47 ERA and to 6-1 with a 1.69 ERA in seven day-game starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tanaka is one of four pitchers to have made his first post All-Star Game appearance in September after being named to an All-Star squad that season, joining the Indians’ Ray Narleski in 1956, the Astros’ Joaquin Andujar in 1977 and the Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz in 2013.
No sooner had Jacoby Ellsbury reached first base with a leadoff single in the third inning Wednesday night at Detroit that I said to myself, “Anyone else on this team want to help this guy?”
Ellsbury had accounted for both Yankees runs in Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss with solo home runs and opened Wednesday’s game with a single and a stolen base but was stranded at second base.
I do not claim any penchant for mental telepathy, but I may have transmitted something across to the rest of the Yankees because all they did an entire turn through the batting order that inning was follow Ellsbury’s lead and reach base with hits.
It was a manager’s absolute dream as Joe Girardi watched each player he placed in the lineup knock his way on base. Ellsbury’s speed got him a second steal as he outran a pickoff. Derek Jeter brought him home with a double as the parade began, followed by a single by Martin Prado, a double by Mark Teixeira and singles by Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Chase Headley, Brett Gardner and Francisco Cervelli. Not only did the Yankees get nine hits in a row but also eight straight with runners in scoring position, which in some cases this year has been a series worth of clutch hits.
And that was no tomato can on the mound off of whom the Yankees got nine consecutive hits, two shy of the Rockies’ major league mark against the Cubs in 2010. The Detroit starter was none other than 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price, who entered the game with a 10-5 career record against the Yankees.
Price never did get an out that inning. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus yanked him for another lefthander, Blaine Hardy, who gave up two more runs on sacrifice flies by Ellsbury and Jeter as the Yankees swelled their lead to 8-0.
Remember how excited the Yankees were Monday night when they scored eight runs against the Royals with James Shields starting? Well, this time they scored that many runs in just one inning.
Ellsbury certainly looks comfortable back in the leadoff spot where he batted most often in his years with the Red Sox. Girardi has had to use him in the 3-hole much of this year because of the inconsistency and injuries to Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran.
Usual leadoff man Gardner was out the first two games of the trip because of a right ankle bruise. He was back Wednesday night but dropped to the 8-hole because of his career problems against Price (2-for-20 entering play).
With two hits, two stolen bases and an RBI over his first three plate appearances, Ellsbury definitely was a table setter. Yet for a change he had plenty of support.
As appreciative as Girardi for all this offense was Yanks starter Shane Greene, who did not give up a hit or a run until the fourth inning. The righthander did not pitch as it he had a huge lead but rather as if the score was close, the best approach for a pitcher to take.
Green gave up two runs, five hits and one walk with a hit batter and eight strikeouts in seven innings to remain undefeated in eight starts since July 21 and improve his record to 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA.
The big-inning victory also did the Yanks quite a bit of good in the standings. They picked up a game on the Orioles in the American League East and now trail by six and sliced a game off the deficit for the second wild card spot to 2 1/2 games behind the Mariners and two behind the Tigers.
When the Yankees-Tigers series began, all the talk was about Detroit’s rotation. The Tigers had lined up against the Yankees three former American League Cy Young Award winners in Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander and a 13-game winner in Rick Porcello.
Guess what? None of them notched a victory.
Talk centered on the Yankees’ staff after it limited one of the AL’s top offensive clubs to merely six runs over 39 innings in winning three of the four games. The only game Detroit won, a 4-3, 12-inning matchup, did not provide a victory for their starting pitcher, Price, who was out of the game in the ninth.
Yankees starters, meanwhile, were 2-0 with an ERA of 0.99 as the rotation gave up only three earned runs in 27 1/3 innings. Not that the Tigers’ crew was bad. The Detroit starters combined for a 2.42 ERA, which any manager will take over a four-game set, but it was just not a match for the Yankees.
Thursday’s 1-0 victory behind rookie Shane Greene and in front of a sellout Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,013 was a nice finishing touch. Greene pitched one batter into the ninth and scattered five hits and three walks with five strikeouts to improve his record to 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA. He as yanked in the fifth inning of his prior start at Boston but this time came close to his first complete game in the majors. Maybe next time.
“We won” is the best thing Greene took from the game. He is a man of few words and at times seems overwhelmed by his surroundings in the majors — except when he is on the mound. The righthander utilized an effective sinker-slider mix with an occasional four-seam fastball that was never more valuable than in the sixth when it produced a pivotal double play against Victor Martinez, the second half of the Tigers’ 1-2 punch behind two-time AL Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera, who was rested until the ninth inning Thursday when he batted as a pinch hitter in the ninth against David Robertson (31st save) with a chance to do damage and ruin Greene’s effort.
Cabrera batted with runners on first and second with none out. He hit a hard grounder past Robertson, but it was gobbled up in front of second base by Brendan Ryan, who stepped on the bag and threw the ball to first base for another crucial double play. Fans gasped when Don Kelly lofted a fly ball in shallow center before Stephen Drew, starting at shortstop for a resting Derek Jeter, put it away for a satisfying final out. Also bailing out Robertson in the Kelly at-bat was catcher Francisco Cervelli, who made two terrific stops of balls in the dirt to keep the potential tying run at third.
Drew was also responsible for the game’s only run with an opposite-field double to left in the fourth off Porcello. The new mix of players up from the minors and the result of trades has given the Yankees a burst of freshness.
“It has changed the complexion of the team,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have gotten better defensively, and pitchers are giving us more innings.”
Greene’s work allowed over-loaded Shawn Kelley, Adam Warren and Dellin Betances a needed day off. The Yankees had been sputtering at home this year but have turned that around since the All-Star break with 10 victories in 14 games.
“We have talked about needing to play better at home,” Girardi said. “We are doing all the little things. These are the best four starts in a row that we have had all season. Their pitchers were the guys being talked about, but our pitchers did a great job.”
Those of us in the press box had to be on the alert Wednesday night. I cannot recall a time when so many foul balls were hit in our direction. That’s usually a sign of hitters being unable to get around with the bat against a pitcher with exceptional stuff.
It came as no surprise because the pitcher was Justin Verlander, the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner who has had something of a star-crossed season this year. Verlander entered the game with a surprisingly high ERA (4.66), but he seemed the ace of recent vintage this night.
When not fouling pitches back on a regular basis, the Yankees were making out after out against Verlander until Jacoby Ellsbury broke up his no-hit bid with a two-out single to center field in the fourth inning.
Chase Headley, who has been a fine addition to the Yankees, finally got through to Verlander with one out in the fifth with a drive into the second deck in right field for the third baseman’s second home run since joining the Yankees and ninth of the season.
That made the score 1-1. The Tigers had touched Chris Capuano for a gift run in the first inning. Rajai Davis reached first base on an error by Derek Jeter and second on a wild pitch by Capuano before there was an out. Davis crossed to third on an infield out and scored on Miguel Cabrera’s flyout to the warning track in right field.
Capuano got help from Ellsbury to keep the game tied in the sixth. The center fielder leaped high to glove J.D. Martinez’s drive to right-center at the top of the wall in front of the Yankees’ bullpen for the third out of the inning.
Capuano more than held his own against Verlander. The lefthander had eight strikeouts, twice as many as his opponent into the seventh inning, and only one walk. He came out of the game after giving up two-out singles by Andrew Romine and Ezequiel Carrera in the seventh. Adam Warren retired Davis on a grounder to the right side for the third out. Capuano has pitched to a 2.48 ERA in 19 inning since joining the Yankees.
It was a shame he was out of the game when Brian McCann’s 13th home run gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh. Capuano had pitched well enough to earn a victory, but the run put Warren in place for the winning decision instead.
Warren’s shining moment came in the eighth when the game nearly came unglued for the Yanks after a dual error by second baseman Stephen Drew on a ground ball by Victor Martinez gave the Tigers runners on first and third with one out. Warren fell behind 3-0 in the count to the next two hitters but came back to set down both of them. He used a pair of 96-mph fastballs to strike out J.D. Martinez and finished off Nick Castellanos on a routine fly ball to right field.
Verlander was gone after seven, and the Yankees pushed their lead to 5-1 in the eighth against lefthander Blaine Hardy. Mark Teixeira drove in a run with a single and was the second runner to score on an errant throw to first base by Romine, the shortstop, on a call overturned after a video replay.
Teixeira turned out a casualty. He cut his right pinky on catcher Bryan Holaday’s spikes and required stitches. Tex will not play Thursday’s series finale and could be lost for even more time.
That was the one negative drawback in an otherwise positive night for the Yankees, whose string of games decided by two runs or fewer ended at 16.
The Yankees came out on the plus side (2-1) of their three match-ups against former Cy Young Award winners, and they now have a winning career record (6-5) against Verlander, who has not beaten them in two years.
Yankees pitching has been particularly good in this series against the Tigers, who lead the AL in batting but have scored only six runs in 30 innings the past three games.
Hiroki Kuroda was hoping to make history Tuesday night in his start against the Tigers and 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price. Detroit is the only team in the major leagues against whom Kuroda does not have a victory. With a defeat of the Tigers, Kuroda could have joined 13 other pitchers who have beaten all 30 big-league clubs.
For a while there, it appeared as if Kuroda would do just that. After giving up a first-inning run on a sacrifice fly by Victor Martinez, Kuroda set down 13 hitters in a row and watched his teammates take the lead on home runs by Brian McCann and Martin Prado and a two-out, RBI double by Jacoby Ellsbury.
Home runs off Price are nothing new. He entered the game tied for the most homers allowed in the AL with 20. Both bombs were solos, however, so the Tigers remained within striking distance. Detroit cut the deficit to 3-2 on a leadoff home run in the seventh by shortstop Andrew Romine, brother of Yankees farmhand Austin Romine.
Kuroda ended up being hurt by the over-shift defensive alignment that has been in vogue this year. Leading off the seventh inning of a one-run game, Victor Martinez hit a soft grounder to the left side where no one was stationed to field it. A weak dribbler became a leadoff single.
Kuroda almost got out of the inning. He retired Torii Hunter on an infield pop and J.D. Martinez on a fly to center. Nick Castellanos kept the inning alive with a single to center. Alex Avila followed with a single to right field that tied the score.
That was Kuroda’s last inning, so he was hung with a no-decision and is still without a career victory against Detroit. The Yanks have another series against the Tigers Aug. 26-28 at Comerica Park, which if his turn comes up would be Kuroda’s last chance to beat them.
Just for the record, the 13 pitchers who have defeated every club are former Yankees hurlers Al Leiter, Kevin Brown, Terry Mulholland, Randy Johnson, Javier Vazquez, Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett, plus Curt Schilling, Woody Williams, Jamie Moyer, Barry Zito, Vicente Padilla and Dan Haren.
Another former Yankees pitcher made a return appearance at the Stadium Tuesday night. Joba Chamberlain, once a near cult figure with Yankees fans and now a setup man for the Tigers, relieved Price with two out in the ninth inning and a runner on first base to face Prado, whom he struck out as the game went into extra innings. Chamberlain was barely recognizable with a thick, black beard, which would have never passed muster with the Yankees’ grooming policy.
The Yankees are amid a stretch of facing three former Cy Young Award winners in a row. They faced the Tigers’ Max Scherzer Monday night (and beat him, 2-1), were paired against David Price Tuesday night and are scheduled against Justin Verlander Wednesday night.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks third time in franchise history that the Yankees have faced former Cy Young-winning starting pitchers in three consecutive games. The most recent period was June 8-10, 2001 when they went 1-2 against the Braves’ Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux. They also went 1-2 spanning the All-Star break in 1999, losing July 11 at Shea Stadium to the Mets’ Orel Hershiser, then going 1-1 July 15-16 against Atlanta’s Glavine and Maddux at Yankee Stadium.
Each of the Yankees’ last 15 games has been decided by two or fewer runs. They are 9-6 over that stretch. According to Elias, it is the club’s longest such streak of games with a final margin of no more than two runs. The previous high was 12 straight games by the old Highlanders from Sept. 10-20, 1904. Elias also noted that it is the longest such streak in the majors since a 16-game run by the 1975 Orioles in 1975. At 37-25 (.597), the Yankees have the majors’ best record in games decided by two or fewer runs.
The Nationals claimed left-handed reliever Matt Thornton off waivers from the Yankees. Thornton, who was 0-3 with a 2.55 ERA in 46 games totaling 24 2/3 innings, could have been taken back by the Yankees, but by letting him go they free up some $4 million for next year’s payroll. The Yankees recalled lefthander Rich Hill from Triple A Scranton to take Thornton’s place. Manager Joe Girardi said that lefthander David Huff and Hill will inherit Thornton’s lefty specialist role.
Brandon McCarthy continued his effectiveness in his brief time with the Yankees with 5 2/3 solid innings Monday night in a 2-1 victory over the Tigers. Paired against last year’s American League Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer, McCarthy out-dueled him into the sixth inning.
The only run off McCarthy was not earned because of a throwing error by third baseman Marty Prado in the fifth inning that put Tigers shortstop Eugenio Suarez on first base. After stealing second base, Suarez scored on a single by Ian Kinsler.
Otherwise, McCarthy was brilliant. He worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the second inning with strikeouts of Alex Avila and Suarez and finished with eight strikeouts overall. The righthander allowed five hits and two walks and lowered his ERA with the Yankees to 2.08 to go with a 4-0 record. What an improvement over the 5.01 ERA he had with the Diamondbacks to go with a 3-10 record.
Returning the cut fastball to his arsenal has rejuvenated McCarthy, that and an improved Yankees infield defense. Ground-ball pitchers love it when the infielders are reliable, even at unfamiliar positions, which Chase Headley at first base after Mark Teixeira was a late scratch due to light-headedness.
“I told Headley I might use him at first base when Tex needed a day off,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I didn’t think I’d be telling him that at 6:15, however.”
Girardi has been overjoyed about McCarthy. “He has been huge for the rotation,” the skipper said. “Every start for us has beenb good. He used his curveball really well tonight, more than he has since he has been here. He got a lot of outs with that pitch.”
For his part, Scherzer relied on his defense as well, particularly center fielder Ezequiel Carrera, who is getting a shot following the departure of Austin Jackson to Seattle in the three-team trade that brought David Price to Detroit from Tampa Bay. The Yankees will get Price on their menu Tuesday night.
Carrera’s diving, belly-flop catch in the third inning on the warning track of a drive by Jacoby Ellsbury became a long sacrifice fly instead of a game-breaking, extra-base hit. Brian McCann singled in the second run of that inning.
“That was an unbelievable play,” Girardi said of Carrera. “It kept this a really, really close game. Our guys put good at-bats against Scherzer.”
Poor base running by Prado cost the Yankees a run in the fourth. Brett Gardner got in a rundown between first and second so that Prada could try to score from third base, but he did not move and Gardy was tagged out to end the threat. Scherzer pitched through the seventh but left with the Tigers trailing by a run. Detroit would never find that run, thanks to efficient relief by Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson (30th save).
How many Yankees found themselves over the course of the first portion of the 2014 season asking this question:
“Where would be without Masahiro Tanaka?”
Let’s hope we don’t have to find that out. Yankees Universe held a collective breath Wednesday with the news that Tanaka returned to New York to have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam on his right elbow after complaining of soreness there during the Yankees’ 5-3 loss Tuesday night at Cleveland. Tanaka allowed five runs and 10 hits, both season highs against him, in 6 2/3 innings.
For the time being, the Yankees are terming the injury right elbow inflammation. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list, which now makes four-fifths of the Opening Day rotation on the DL. Ivan Nova is lost for the entire season. CC Sabathia may be also, and Michael Pineda won’t likely be back before August. Hiroki Kuroda, the only member of the Opening Day rotation still a member of the starting unit, better not walk under any ladders.
It is not yet time for Yankees fans to push the panic button despite the dire news. The club won’t know for sure what Tanaka’s issue is until the MRI is studied. The problem is that Dr. Chris Ahmad, the team physician, is attending a major orthopedist convention in Seattle, the same one that has prevented the noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews from examining Sabathia’s ailing right knee to determine if surgery is required.
Tanaka’s next scheduled start was to have been Sunday night at Baltimore, the Yankees’ final game before the All-Star break. The righthander was selected for the American League squad but was not expected to pitch in the game because of the Sunday start. It is unclear now whether he will go to Minneapolis for the game. The AL has replaced him on the roster with Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, which stinks. It should have been David Robertson.
That is the least of the Yankees’ concern at this point. Tanaka, their prize signing in the past off-season, had proved to be every bit as effective on this side of the Pacific Ocean as he was back home in Japan where he was 24-0 last year.
In his first 14 starts for the Yankees, Tanaka was 11-1 with two no-decisions and a 1.99 ERA. He has come down to Earth somewhat in the past four starts in which he is 1-3 with a 4.25 ERA. Tanaka has nonetheless placed himself in contention for the AL Cy Young and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards by leading the league in victories with his 12-4 record, tied for first in complete games with three and ranking second in ERA at 2.51.
Now it is matter of watch and wait to see how serious the injury to Tanaka is. As for the answer to that question, well, figure it out: the Yankees were 13-5 in games started by Tanaka and 31-39 in games started by everyone else.
For five innings Friday night, CC Sabathia was pitching as the ace that Yankees fans have come to appreciate. With a fastball that was in the 90-miles-per-hour range and a devastating slider, the big lefthander held the Red Sox in check. He limited them to one hit and two walks, struck out six batters and got eight other outs in the infield.
It was not vintage Sabathia from his Cy Young Award days when the fastball was more muscular, but it was a cagier and slyer Sabathia who had Boston hitters guessing and oft times wrong. The lone hit to that point was a leadoff double by Red Sox catcher David Ross in the third inning. Sabathia retired the next three batters on ground balls to prevent Ross from scoring.
Then came the sixth inning, and everything went wrong for the big guy. Jonny Gomes led off with a home run off a 1-0 fastball that tied the score. Alfonso Soriano had given CC a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a home run off Jon Lester.
After striking out Dustin Pedroia, Sabathia gave up a single to David Ortiz on an excuse-me, half-swing of a dribbler to the vacated left side of the infield as the Yankees were employing an over-shift on Big Papi. Mike Napoli singled on a soft line drove to center field, but there was nothing soft about Grady Sizemore’s drive off a hanging slider on 0-1 that reached the second deck in right field for a demoralizing, three-run homer.
“I thought he had good command and threw the ball decent,” manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. “He hung a slider, and Sizemore did not miss it. One pitch in a tight game sometimes it’s going to beat you.”
No one welcomed the offensive display more than Lester, who before that inning had watched his teammates score merely one run in his first 19 1/3 innings on the mound this year, which explains why he entered the game with a record of 0-2 despite a 2.51 ERA.
The Yankees tried to get Sabathia off the hook with a two-out rally in the seventh but got only one run on a Kelly Johnson single that chased Lester.
Sabathia’s ERA actually came down from 7.50 but is still an unseemly 6.63 after three starts as his record fell to 1-2. His nine strikeouts lifted his total with the Yankees to 1,017, which moved him past Roger Clemens into 10th place on the franchise’s career list. Next up in ninth place at 1,028 is Al Downing.