Results tagged ‘ Cy Young Award ’

A-Rod has not earned starting nod

Alex Rodriguez has had a hard time getting in the Yankees’ starting lineup the past two weeks. Thursday night in Game 4 of the Subway Series seemed to be his best chance of cracking into the lineup because Bartolo Colon was the starting pitcher for the Mets.

To say A-Rod has owned “Big Sexy” in his career is a huge understatement. In 52 career at-bats against Colon, Rodriguez has batted .442 with seven doubles, one triple and eight home runs.

Yet when manager Joe Girardi posted his lineup, there was no Rodriguez in it. For the second straight night, the designated hitter role was filled by Gary Sanchez, the Yankees’ prized catching prospect who was recently recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sanchez got his first major-league hit, a single to center field in the seventh inning, as part of a 1-for-4 game Wednesday night in the Yankees’ 9-5 victory.

Sanchez had two more hits Thursday night in the 4-1 loss to the Mets that turned this year’s Subway Series into a push as each club won two games. Sanchez scored the Yankees’ run in the seventh. He doubled with one out off Colon and scored on a two-out single by Aaron Hicks off reliever Jerry Blevins. Sanchez beat out an infield single in the ninth off Mets closer Jeurys Familia (38th save) to bring the potential tying run to the plate before Rob Refsnyder grounded into a game-ending double play.

Otherwise, it was all Mets, due largely to Colon (10-6), the 43-year-old marvel who gave up one run, six hits and no walks with one strikeout in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (9-8) had one bad inning in seven — the fifth — but it was a brutal one.

Kelly Johnson led off with a Yankee Stadium right field porch home run. One out later, Curtis Granderson doubled to left-center. Eovaldi then made a pivotal mistake on a check-swing grounder to the mound by Alejandro De Aza by throwing to second base in an attempt to cut down Granderson, but he slid back into the bag safely, costing the Yanks a possible sure out at first base.

After Neil Walker lined out, Jay Bruce, obtained earlier this week in a trade from the Reds, made his first contribution to the Mets with a three-run home run to right-center. Bruce had been 0-for-10 with four strikeouts since joining the Mets before that homer, his 26th, that raised his National League leading RBI total to 83.

Girardi acknowledged that Rodriguez’s statistics against Colon were “tremendous,” but also pointed out “most of those numbers came many, many years ago.”

Indeed, A-Rod ran up those stats against Colon in the previous decade while he was winning three American League Most Valuable Player Awards against a pitcher who copped an AL Cy Young Award, in 2005 with the Angels. Girardi added that when Rodriguez last faced Colon, in 2012, he was 1-for-6.

As frustrated as Rodriguez may be, at 41 he has not shown much at the plate to warrant his playing regularly. A-Rod started the first five games after the All-Star break and batted .188 with one home run and one RBI in 16 at-bats. He has started once in the past 12 games and struck out four times in that game. Rodriguez has one hit, a single, in his past 19 at-bats as his season batting average has shrunk to .204 with nine homers and 29 RBI in 216 at-bats. He has been stuck at 696 career home runs since July 18.

In defending his decision not to start Rodriguez against Colon, Girardi said most of his problems have come against right-handed pitching. True enough, A-Rod is hitting .196 against righties this year. Wednesday night, he also sat against a left-handed starter, Steven Matz, but Rodriguez has not exactly lit it up against lefties, either (.219).

Girardi denied that he was being told by the front office not to play Rodriguez, who is under contract through the 2017 season. And despite reports suggesting that the Yankees have discussed releasing Rodriguez and eating the $27 million due him over the remainder of his contract, general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio there have been no such talks.

“First and foremost, you just have to flat-out admit, it is not easy to eat — meaning release — that kind of money,” Cashman said. “It’s not something you come to a quick decision on. You see players — and I don’t want to name them because they are still playing — but there are players around the game who are on big contracts that have been well-below-average players now for many years, not just a year. Alex hit 33 home runs last year. This is a bigger media market and more attention, and there is certainly a tempest about what should be done. All I can tell you is, slow down a little bit and here is the counterarguments: There is a very large financial commitment through next year on a player of Alex’s caliber that was productive as early as last year.”

The financial considerations are for the front office to worry about. That is not the manager’s concern. He has to put the players in the lineup that give his team the best chance to win. It has been some time since Rodriguez fit into that equation.

I remember years ago talking to a manager who had an aging superstar on his team. The manager said, “The best piece of advice I got from a managing mentor of mine was not to argue with your general manager over the 25th player on the roster and try not to let a star fall on you.”

It is one of the most difficult assignments for any manager, to find a way for a player well past his prime to maintain his dignity while dealing with severely diminished skills.

Also missing from the lineup was Mark Teixeira, who had a big game Wednesday night (three-run home run, two walks, hit by a pitch). The HBP by Matz left Tex with a bruised left shin.

Earning a return to the rotation was Luis Severino, who got his first victory of the season for not allowing an earned run in 4 1/3 innings in relief of Chad Green, who was optioned to SWB. Severino will start next Tuesday night at Boston.

Yanks’ recent surge may continue without Chapman

Calm down, Yankees fans, Monday’s trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs for Adam Warren and three prospects is not the start of a fire sale.

No pun intended.

The debate about whether the Yankees will be buyers or sellers come the non-waiver trade deadline Aug. 1 can continue to rage while the club keeps trying to prove it will be a contender for post-season play.

Chapman won over Yankees fans with his triple-digit fastball readings, zooming as high as 105 miles per hour last week, but this was a deal general manager Brian Cashman had to make. He had a player who cost him relatively nothing (four lower-level prospects) and was highly sought after by contenders in need of a quality closer. The Yankees had an able successor to Chapman in Andrew Miller, who of course was also his predecessor and won the Mariano Rivera Award as the American League’s best reliever in 2015.

So Cashman had a huge chip in Chapman, who was 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and 29 saves. The lefthander made it clear to the front office that he intended to enter free agency at the end of the 2016 season, so the Yankees had good reason to shop him. They had made incorrect calculations about second baseman Robinson Cano and reliever David Robertson in recent years and watched them bolt New York without getting anything in return.

No one can be sure how good a trade is until all the players involved make it to the majors, but Cashman appears to have acquired plenty of talent in the swap. Warren, of course, is known to Yankees fans as an able swing man who was a vital cog on the 2015 staff. I frankly admit that I did not like his being traded to the Cubs, although any deal that brings an everyday position player such as a Starlin Castro for a pitcher is a plus.

Warren did not pitch especially well for the Cubs and had been optioned to Triple A, but I believe his reunion with Yanks pitching coach Larry Rothschild will be beneficial.

The key ingredient in the deal from the Yankees’ standpoint is shortstop Gleyber Torres, the consensus top prospect in the Cubs organization. The Yankees currently have a solid shortstop in Didi Gregorius with Jorge Mateo highly touted in the organization, but players often shift off shortstop in the minors. By the time Torres is ready for the big time, a position will be found for him. The Yanks already have the example of Rob Refsnyder.

The Yankees had keen interest in the native Venezuelan three years ago but were outbid by the Cubs. Torres will remain on the Class A level for now as he was assigned to Tampa as was Rashad Crawford, one of two outfielders in the deal, along with Billy McKinney.

Crawford is similar to Gregorius in that as a left-handed batter he did better this year at Class A Myrtle Beach against left-handed pitching (.321 in 81 at-bats) than against right-handed pitching (.234 in 248 at-bats).

McKinney, who was assigned to Double A Trenton, is a former first-round draft pick of the Athletics who went to the Cubs two years ago in the multi-player trade for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Dan Straily. Also going from Oakland to Chicago in that deal was Addison Russell, now the Cubs’ regular shortstop who was voted on to the National League All-Star team this year by fans. Such progress is what the Yankees are hoping will come out of this trade, but there are no guarantees.

Remember something else. Chapman, who said he loved playing in New York, could always come back to the Yankees as a free agent. So in many ways this is a win-win deal for the Yanks.

They have done fine without Chapman the first two nights of a three-game series at Houston with Miller closing out both victories, 6-3 Tuesday night and 2-1 Monday night.

Dellin Betances had to do a dance act in the eighth when he came in and walked two batters to load the bases but ended the threat with a strikeout. Miller surrendered a one-out double but followed that up with two strikeouts to put the Astros away.

CC Sabathia pitched into the seventh and had a strong outing in ending a personal four-game losing streak with his first victory in seven starts since June 16. Sabathia was touched for solo home runs by Marwin Gonzalez in the first and Evan Gattis in the seventh but allowed only two other hits over 6 2/3 innings. All three Houston runs in this series have come on homers.

Yankees hitters have been kept in the yard both nights, but they banged out 13 hits Tuesday night, including three by slumping Jacoby Ellsbury and two apiece by Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Castro.

Monday night, the Yanks overcame tormentor Dallas Keuchel. There were some tense moments in the bottom of the ninth when Houston had runners on first and second with one out before Miller got Carlos Gomez on a game-ending double play.

Michael Pineda gave up a leadoff home run to George Springer on the righthander’s first pitch of the game but limited the Stros to four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts through the seventh.

Keuchel, who is not having the AL Cy Young Award season he had a year ago, had a one-hit shutout working with two out in the fifth when Gregorius doubled and Chase Headley tied the score with a flare single to center field, which made the Yankees’ third baseman the all-time hits leader among players from Colorado.

Headley singled to right leading off the eighth and scored the go-ahead run on a booming double to center by Austin Romine. Betances pitched a perfect, three-strikeout eighth before Miller earned his eighth save.

The victories pushed the Yankees’ record four games over .500 for the first time this year. They have won eight of their past 10 games and 10 of their past 14. Their record has improved every calendar month (8-14 in April, 16-15 in May, 15-12 in June, 13-9 in July). If this keeps up, the Yankees may seek help in trades rather than trying to help others.

For Green, different opponent, different result

Chad Green made an important discovery Friday night that the Cleveland Indians are not the San Diego Padres. It did not take long, either. The first two Tribe batters, designated hitter Carlos Santana and second baseman Jason Kipnis, took Green deep, and the righthander only got in deeper after that.

Two more home runs were on the way. Before the first inning was over, Lonnie Chisenhall had added a two-run bomb to right that made the score 4-0, and it was all downhill for the Yanks from that point on as they fell, 10-2.

Just last Sunday, Green had impressed the Yankees with six forceful innings (three hits, one run, no walks, eight strikeouts) to the degree that they added him to the rotation and sent Nathan Eovaldi to the bullpen. Green’s first major-league victory came against the Padres, who reside in the basement of the National League West. Friday night, Green was up against the Indians, who reside in the penthouse of the American League Central.

Green settled down somewhat in the second inning in retiring the side in order with two strikeouts. But he could not keep the ball in the yard in the third and yielded his fourth homer of the game, a two-run shot to left-center by Mike Napoli that dug the Yankees into a 6-0 ditch.

That is not the score you want to try to erase against the likes of a Corey Kluber, the 2014 AL Cy Young Award winner who Iooked very much like the pitcher he was that season. The righthander pitched eight innings and other than a solo home run to Brian McCann allowed four other hits and no walks with eight strikeouts.

Two of those hits off Kluber were a double and a single by red-hot Didi Gregorius, who lifted his season batting average to .300. The Yankees got their second run in the ninth off Joseph Colon in his big-league debut on doubles by Carlos Beltran and McCann. The Indians made it a five-homer night when Kipnis connected again, off Anthony Swarzak in the seventh, for his second home run of the game and third of the series.

The euphoria that ran through the clubhouse after Thursday night’s victory dissipated with another distressing loss that kept the Yankees’ record below .500 (42-44), which means they will not finish above par before the All-Star break.

When in doubt, hit a runner on wayward path

The bullpen is supposed to be a major strength for the Yankees this year. The trade for Aroldis Chapman from the Reds added the game’s fiercest flame thrower to a back end of the pen that already featured last year’s 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Chapman is serving a suspension until May, but the Yankees feel protected in the interim because of the presence of Betances and Miller.

So it was a decided downer that a shaky inning by Betances in the eighth Tuesday sent the Yankees to their fifth straight Opening Day defeat. The Astros came back from a 2-0 deficit against Masahito Tanaka for a 5-3 victory. Betances was tagged with the loss, but this one probably should have an asterisk. The three runs he allowed that inning were all not earned, although that was because of an error that Betances himself committed. But that errant throw occurred on a disputed play yet one that is not reviewable by observing video replays.

You have seen this play plenty of times. A runner heading from the plate to first base runs on the grass, which forces the pitcher to elevate his throw to first base. In this case, Betances’ high toss sailed past first baseman Mark Teixeira, which allowed Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a single and stole second base, to score the tie breaking run. Betances walked a batter and struck out another subsequently but gave up a single to Luis Valbuena that sent home two more runs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi got into a heated argument with plate umpire Dana DeMuth, who at least agreed to confer with his fellow umps,but the safe call on Carlos Correa’s dash to first on the squibling grounder fielded by Betances stood.

As I watched the play unfold, I though that the best thing Betances could have done was just throw the ball at Correa. Had the ball hit him while he was clearly on the grass, Correa almost certainly would have been called out. I have advocated this for years and even suggested it should be practiced in spring training (with runners wearing protective gear naturally).

Girard even acknowledged that had Betances done that Correa would have been called out, “but is that what we want?” the manager wondered.

Well, you want an out in that situation, and spearing the runner apparently is the only way to get it if a video replay is not available for a second look. Girardi said DeMuth told him he did not think Correa’s path impeded the first baseman’s ability to make a play. Really? With the height of Betances’ throw over Correa, the only chance for the Yankees to get an out there would have been if Wilt Chamberlain was playing first base.

Correa, the American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, was all over this game. He mishandled a grounder that had the potential for an inning-ending double play that opened the door to the Yankees’ first two runs on Starlin Castro’s two-out double in the second. Correa’s home run off Tanaka in the sixth, the righthander’s last inning, tied the score at 2. And there was Correa in the middle of all the commotion in the eighth.

The winning decision went to 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who had a 23-inning scoreless streak against the Yankees stopped but got 12 consecutive outs from the fourth through the seventh to keep Houston in the game. Didi Gregorius made it 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff home run, but the Yankees did not get a base runner after that.

Johnny Barbato, the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp, made his major league debut in the eighth. He hit Astros designated hitter Preston Tucker on the right wrist with his first pitch, then settled down and retired the next four hitters, three on strikeouts.

The Yankees’ offense had a subdued game. The first three hitters were a combined 0-for-10, although Alex Rodriguez managed to steal a base on those 40-year-old legs.

Too bad Castro was not here last October

The Yankees did not have to contend with all the rain that washed out Monday’s scheduled season opener, but the weather Tuesday was not conductive to baseball. Such is baseball in April.

The sun shone bright across Yankee Stadium, but the game time temperature of 38 degrees was the coldest for a Yanks’ opener since April 8, 2003 against the Twins when the thermostat at game time read 36 degrees.

Things heated up for the Yankees in the second inning as they finally broke their scoreless streak against the Astros’ Dallas Keuchel, the 2015 American League Cy Young Award winner. The lefthander pitched 22 shutout innings against the Yanks last year, including in Houston’s 3-0 victory in the AL wild card game.

Keuchel blanked the Yankees in the first inning, but a bobbled double-play ball by shortstop Carlos Correa, last year’s AL winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, opened the door for the Yankees to get on the board as Starlin Castro made a positive first impression with a two-run double.

Following a one-out single to center by Carlos Beltran and a walk to Brian McCann, Shane Headley hit a grounder near the bag at second base. Correa may have taken his eye off the ball for a moment in planning to tag the bag and throw to first base to complete what would have been an inning-ending DP. Instead, he lost the out at second and nearly the one at first base as well, but Marwin Gonzalez saved the wild throw to get an out there.

Castro, obtained in the off-season from the Cubs in a trade for pitcher Adam Warren, introduced himself to the Stadium crowd with a line drive that raised chalk on the left field line. The double was good for two runs, which seemed awfully comfortable with the way Masahiro Tanaka was throwing early in the game.

The Japanese righthander retired the side in order the first time through the lineup as his elbow showed no ill effects from the chilly weather. The Astros touched him for a tainted run in the fourth inning. Another newcomer, Aaron Hicks, found out what left field at the Stadium is like on sunny days as he misplayed a line drive by Jose Altuve into a leadoff double. He scored on an infield out two batters later, but Tanaka avoided further damage by stranding a runner at third base when he caught Carlos Gomez looking at a third strike.

Alex Rodrigues pleased the crowd with a stolen base in the third, pretty nifty stuff for a 40-year-old.

  

Yanks get home-field advantage for Wild Card Game

The Yankees have the Diamondbacks to thank for Yankee Stadium being the site of the American League Wild Card Game Tuesday night. It was a lost weekend for the Yankees in Baltimore as the Orioles completed a three-game sweep Sunday with a 9-4 victory that put the Yanks’ season record at 87-75.

They would have had to make a plane ride to Houston for the Wild Card Game if the Astros had won their season finale at Phoenix. A two-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the seventh inning unlocked a 3-3 score and sent the D-backs on the way to a 5-3 victory. So the Astros, who ended the regular season with an 86-76 record, will be the visiting team in Tuesday night’s AL Wild Card Game.

Houston was guaranteed the wild card berth when the Angels lost to the Rangers, who clinched the AL West title with an 88-74 mark.

The Yankees have designated Masahiro Tanaka to start Tuesday night against the Astros’ dangerous Dallas Keuchel, who led the league in victories (20), innings (232) and WHIP (1.017) and is among the favorites for the AL Cy Young Award. Keuchel faced the Yankees twice this year, won both games and did not allow a run in 16 innings. This will be the first time in his career that Keuchel will start on only three days’ rest.

While much has been made of the fact that Keuchel is far better at Minute Maid Park (15-0, 1.46 ERA) than on the road (5-8, 3.77 ERA), it must be noted that in his only start at Yankee Stadium the bearded lefthander pitched seven shutout innings with three hits, no walks and nine strikeouts in a 15-1 Houston blowout.

In his only start against the Astros this season June 27 at Houston, Tanaka blew a 6-0 lead and was stung for six runs and seven hits, including three home runs, in five innings (10.80 ERA) in a game the Yankees came back to win, 9-6.

Price is right for Blue Jays

If the Yankees ever get back into first place in the American League East, it will have to be after they leave Toronto. The Blue Jays ensured they will hold the top spot in the division over the duration of the series at Rogers Centre with a 4-2 victory Monday night.

Toronto boosted its division lead to 3 1/2 games (3 in the loss column), which means that even if the Yankees were to win Tuesday and Wednesday nights they would still be in second place upon leaving Canada.

The Yankees ran into David Price, every bit the ace Matt Harvey is to the Mets and moreso. Unlike Harvey, whom the Mets pulled after five innings Sunday night and paid for it when the Yankees pummeled his successors, Price went seven innings and shut out the Bombers on two hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.

There was a time in the eighth inning when it resembled what happened to the Mets in the sixth inning Sunday night at Citi Field as the first three Yankees batters reached base against the shaky Toronto bullpen and put a run across. The turning point may have been a called third strike on Brett Gardner on a pitch at the top of the letters that was borderline to say the least.

Brett Cecil followed that with strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann, which sent the Yankees packing. They got a two-out home run from Greg Bird in the ninth inning off closer Roberto Osuna (17th save) but nothing more in dropping the first game of the series.

In essence, the game came apart for the Yankees in the bottom of the first inning when the Blue Jays scored three times off Adam Warren, who recovered nicely but only after the horses had left the barn. Warren started the game with a single, a hit batter and another single for one run, a wild pitch and an infield out for a second run and a double by Justin Smoak for a third run.

That was more than sufficient support for Price, who had merely one challenging inning among his seven. An errant throw by second baseman Cliff Pennington, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and a walk to Gardner loaded the bases with one out before Price recovered to strike out Rodriguez and retire McCann on a fly ball to center field.

Those were the first two of 14 consecutive outs by Price, who improved his American League Cy Young Award resume with a 17-5 record, including 8-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 69 1/3 innings since joining the Blue Jays in a trade from the Tigers. That is the definition of an ace, which is something the Mets and Harvey have to learn.

Tanaka gem ends home losing streak

It took six tries, but the Yankees finally guaranteed themselves another winning season at Yankee Stadium. At the same time, they saved some face in a long, exasperating weekend against the front-running Blue Jays.

Sunday’s 5-0 triumph behind a determined Masahiro Tanaka was the Yankees’ 41st victory at the Stadium this year, which extended their stretch of consecutive winning seasons at home to 24 (since 1992). It is the longest current winning streak in the major leagues and the most since the Yankees’ big-league record of 47 winning seasons at home from 1918 through 1964.

It ended a five-game losing streak at the Stadium and followed a twin killing Saturday in a miserably long day. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before the game that the team needed a well-pitched game more than anything, and Tanaka gave him all he could have wanted and more.

The Japanese righthander shut down the Blue Jays on four hits and no walks over seven innings and 108 pitches. Tanaka has given up only one earned run in 16 innings against Toronto’s powerful lineup this year.

“Location” was Girardi’s response for why Tanaka has done so well against a Blue Jays team that leads the American League in runs and home runs. “He was down in the zone all day. He had a good splitter, a good slider and worked in a cutter as well.”

Tanaka also helped himself with a pickoff play at second base that nailed Kevin Pillar, who had doubled with one out in the second inning. It was a rough weekend for Pillar, who was 1-for-13 at the plate and ran into his teammate, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who is out indefinitely due to a small crack in his left shoulder blade.

There were contributions all around in the Yankees’ victory that moved them back to 3 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East and ended a personal seven-game winning streak by former National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.

Dustin Ackley, who joined the Yankees in a trade from Seattle only to land on the disabled list because of a back ailment, knocked in three runs with a sacrifice fly in the second and his first home run in pinstripes, a two-run shot in the fourth.

Girardi decided to start Ackley at first base when he found out that Greg Bird, who has played there primarily since the season-ending injury to Mark Teixeira, had faced a knuckleball pitcher only once in the minor leagues. Ackley, on the other hand, had some success against Dickey and continued it Sunday. In 13 career at-bats against Dickey, Ackley is batting .462 with two home runs.

“The simple approach is better,” Ackley said of hitting knuckleball pitchers. “He was running the ball inside. I just looked for the first good one over the plate. The important thing is to get out in front and not stay back and let the knuckleball move too much.”

Alex Rodriguez, who was honored by the Yankees in a pregame ceremony for his 3,000th hit earlier in the season, showed some hustle in the second scoring from third base on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius. A-Rod also drove in a run with a two-out double in the eighth that ended Dickey’s outing.

Brett Gardner, who had a huge day at the plate Saturday (4-for-9, three home runs, seven RBI) took a 0-for-4 collar Sunday but made two outstanding running catches in left field to take away potential extra-base hits from Justin Smoak in the seventh and Matt Hague in the ninth.

“Everybody is relieved that we are going on the road [to Tampa Bay] with confidence,” Ackley said.

Alex Rodriguez with family and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in pregame celebration of his 3,000th hit.

Alex Rodriguez with family and Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost in pregame celebration of his 3,000th hit.

Yankees have fallen into a 2-1 rut

So where was that all that high-powered offense that was expected from the American League’s two most prolific run scoring teams Friday night? The Yankees and the Blue Jays mustered only one run each as the game was pushed into extra innings.

Credit the Yankees’ Nathan Eovaldi and the Jays’ R.A. Dickey with keeping the combustible lineups under control. Solo home runs by Toronto’s Josh Donaldson in the first inning and the Yanks’ Mark Teixeira in the second was all the scoring accomplished in regulation.

It was another solo home run — by Jose Bautista with one out in the 10th off Brandon Pinder — that was the difference in the third consecutive 2-1 game played by the Yankees and the second loss. The other setback was Wednesday night to the Red Sox and Steven Wright, like Dickey a knuckleball pitcher. That flutterball has stymied the Yankees’ offense.

Eovaldi kept his six-game winning streak intact but could not add to it. Same with Dickey, who had won his three previous starts. Since his last loss June 16, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.87 ERA over 53 1/3 innings in lowering his season ERA from 5.12 to 4.15. In 10 starts this season at Yankee Stadium, the righthander is 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 58 innings. He gave the Yankees 6 1/3 quality innings Friday night in allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Dickey remains the one former Cy Young Award winner the Yankees have had trouble with this year, and they will face another one Saturday in lefthander David Price, who was recently obtained in a trade from the Tigers. Dickey pitched seven innings and scattered six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

The Yankees are 6-2 this year in games started by former Cy Young Award winners, who have a combined ERA of 5.48 in those games. Dickey started both of those games the Yankees lost and posted a 1.27 ERA in those starts over 21 1/3 innings.

The loss sliced the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over the Blue Jays, who are nonetheless five games back in the loss column. That is the nail in the coffin in pennant races because a loss cannot be made up so long as the team you are trailing keeps winning.

Still, the Yankees wasted a good pitching effort and used their back end of the bullpen combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in a game they failed to win. It was not the way they wanted to start what may be a critical weekend.

Last shall be first with Yanks’ lineup lately

It has been a bottoms-up situation for the Yankees’ batting order in recent games. Monday night, the six-through-nine hitters in the Yankees’ starting lineup were a combined 7-for-14 (.500) with four runs, one doubles, one triple, one home run, four RBI and two walks in the 6-2 victory over the Rangers at Arlington, Texas.

Sunday, the 6-9 hitters drove in all seven runs in the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the Twins at Minneapolis. Over the past two games, 6-9 in the order are batting a combined .393 (11-for-28) with eight runs, one double, one triple, three homers, 11 RBI and two walks. For the season, the seven-through-nine hitters (not counting pitchers in inter-league competition) rank fifth in the American League with a .649 OPS (on-base plus slugging averages) and have the second most home runs (28).

Third baseman Chase Headley has been as hot as the weather this month. In 17 games in July, Headley is batting .369 (24-for-65) with 11 runs, six doubles, one home run, and 11 RBI in 65 at-bats. He has reached base safely in 15 of the 17 games, has a .400 on-base percentage and raised his batting average 22 points to .268. . . Shortstop Didi Gregorius has also been hot. Derek Jeter’s successor homered and drove in a career-high four runs Monday in his second three-hit game over the past five in which he is 8-for-15 (.533) with three runs, one homer and six RBI to raise his season batting average from .234 to .248. The home run ended a homer-less stretch of 103 at-bats.

Yankees closer Andrew Miller has converted all 23 of his save opportunities this year, which is the longest streak of consecutive saves to begin a stint with the Yankees since saves became an official statistic in 1969 and tied for third longest for any team, equaling those of Huston Street with the Padres in 2012 and LaTroy Hawkins with the Twins over the 2000 and ’01 seasons. The longest is 44 straight saves by Brad Lidge with the Phillies over the 2008 and ’09 seasons. Second is Guillermo “Willie” Hernandez with 32 for the Tigers in 1984, the year he won both the AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Awards.

Alex Rodriguez, who turned 40 Monday, hit his sixth career home run on his birthday to set a major league record. He had shared the previous mark of five with Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Derrek Lee and Al Simmons. A-Rod also became only the fourth player to homer in his teens and his 40s. The others were Ty Cobb (who played from 1905-28) Rusty Staub (1963-85) and Gary Sheffield (1988-2009). Since 1914, Rodriguez is the ninth right-handed batter (10th occasion) to hit at least 24 home runs in his age-39 season or older, and the first since Frank Thomas in 2007 (26 at age 39). The only player to hit as many as 30 homers at 39 or older was Hank Aaron, who hit 40 in 1973 when he was 39. Nine of A-Rod’s past 14 hits have been home runs, including each of his past four hits.

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