Results tagged ‘ Derek Jeter ’

‘Ghosts’ can’t save Yanks on Derek Jeter Day

There was a moment in the first inning Sunday when those ghosts that Derek Jeter used to talk about in the old Yankee Stadium seemed to have found their way to the north side of 161st Street.

Jeter, on first base after a leadoff single, successfully avoided a tag by second baseman Omar Infante after fielding a ground ball by Martin Prado that might have started a double play. Infante then dropped the ball and in flipping it toward second base in an attempt for a face-saving force play hit Jeter in the back. All hands were safe.

Could the Yankees be on their way on Derek Jeter Day to a much-needed victory against the American League Central-leading Royals? Were the ghosts of Ruth and Gehrig and Joe D. and the Mick there to guide them through this special day?

Unfortunately, as it turned out, the answer was no. If there were ghosts out there, they were the wrong ones. The Yankees did not score that inning or the next or any of the innings as Kansas City came away with its second shutout in three days without getting an earned run either time.

“We lost those two games, 1-0 and 2-0, with none of the runs being earned,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s the frustrating point.”

Sunday’s loss was due in part to the Yankees playing well below their captain’s standards. Starting pitcher Shane Greene, who has displayed problems when having to throw to bases, was entirely responsible for the KC run in the second inning when he threw a relay to first base into right field. Girardi argued that Nori Aoki was out of the baseline running to first, but Greene’s throw was so wild that the umpire said there was no chance for a play.

The next inning, right fielder Carlos Beltran dropped a fly ball by Alex Gordon, who came around to score despite stumbling near third base because Beltran’s relay home was so far up the first base line that catcher Brian McCann had no shot at Gordon.

This was not the type of baseball that Jeter has embodied over the years for the Yankees, who cannot afford defensive mistakes when their offense so often struggles. They were limited to four hits, all singles, by four Royals pitchers Sunday and got only three runners as far as second base.

Jeter spoke after the game about the strange situation of being honored as a retiring player and yet still having to play. “You appreciate all the support, the nice things people say, but by the same token you still have to play a game,” Jeter said.

The Yankees are going to have to play the game a lot better if Jeter’s final games are to reach into October.

Jeter still playing despite retirement party

Gerald Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter. (New York Post photo)

Gerald Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter.
(New York Post photo)

Derek Jeter saved the best for last. Another ceremony at Yankee Stadium, this one to commemorate the 20-year career of the shortstop who now holds many of the legendary franchise’s records, was drawing to a close.

Microphone still in hand, Jeter began walking off the field and said into it, “We got a game to play.”

Perfect. Sure, it was nice to have his parents, his grandmother, his sister, his nephew and a slew of old teammates and pals on the field to celebrate his impending retirement. But the actual fact will not occur until the last game of the 2014 season. The Yanks had a game Sunday afternoon against a Royals team they are competing against for a post-season berth, and Jeter was in the lineup.

That is what Jeter has always been about. As his former manager, Joe Torre, said before the game, “Derek was always ready to play every day. A manager knew he could count on him.”

Torre was among those closest to Jeter back at the Stadium for the ceremonies, along with former teammates Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Tim Raines; Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson; former trainer Gene Monahan; MLB Network broadcaster and former infielder Harold Reynolds and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred.

The Yankees had a few surprises for DJ by trotting out Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Dave Winfield and hoops legend Michael Jordan. The Steinbrenner family presented several gifts, including a Waterford Crystal tower with Jeter’s No. 2 atop it and a check for $222,222.22 donated to his Turn2 Foundation.

“It’s hard to believe 20 seasons have gone by so quickly,” Jeter said to the sellout crowd. “I want to take a brief moment to thank the Steinbrenner family and Mr. George Steinbrenner for giving me the opportunity to play my entire career with the only organization I wanted to play for.

“I thank my family and friends for all their support through the good times and more importantly through the tough times. All my managers, coaches, trainers and teammates current and former, I have been blessed to play with the best. I would not want to compete without you guys.

“Thank you fans for helping me feel like a kid the past 20 years. I got to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and there is only one of those. I have loved what I have done and loved to do it in front of you. From the bottom of my heart thank you very much.”

Not much syrup, all on the mark and to the point. This is the Jeter all of us have watched and heard for two decades. What began Sunday was not just the passing of 20 years but that of an era. The Yankees’ most recent dynastic run of championships started in 1996, Jeter’s rookie season. What is harder to believe is that one of these days he will be in one of those seats for guests at Yankee Stadium events.

Throughout all those World Series triumphs from 1996 through 2009 and up to today Jeter has been the constant thread. Sunday was chosen by the Yankees to celebrate that career, but as Jeter plainly put it that career is not over yet.

As team captain, Jeter is the first to break from the dugout onto the field at the start of home games. He went into his similar trot Sunday, but when he reached his customary position at shortstop and turned around he noticed that he was the only player on the field.

His fellow starters had stayed back so that their captain could take center stage in front of the fans who have adored him all these years. Jeet then made a come-on gesture with his glove for the guys to get out there with him. Another Jeter trait: he has never believe he could do it alone. Once again, he was saying, ‘We got a game today.’ “

Derek Jeter banner unveiled in Great Hall at Yankee Stadium

Derek Jeter banner unveiled in Great Hall at Yankee Stadium

Yanks come back from Ortiz blasts

Judging from crowd reaction, there is probably no opposing player Yankees fans enjoy watching make out than David Ortiz. Loud cheers accompany every strikeout or batted ball that settles in a Yankees’ fielder’s glove.

And this has happened with the Red Sox noted designated hitter more times than you might think. Although he entered Thursday night’s game with a .310 average and 42 home runs in his career against the Yankees, Ortiz was a .241 hitter with eight home runs at Yankee Stadium.

Ortiz improved those numbers in his first two at-bats against Chris Capuano with a couple of home runs in staking Boston to a 3-0 lead in the third inning. With two out in the first, Ortiz ripped a lazar of a line drive off a 0-1 fastball that just cleared the wall in right field.

Two innings later with one out and a runner on first, Ortiz jumped on a first-pitch slider that hung and got stung into the right field bleachers. Ortiz’s 46th multi-homer game raised his season total to 32. There were no wild cheers in the stands either time, just a collection of ooohs and aahhs that such demonstrative displays with the bat from an opponent can generate.

And that explains why the cheers are so loud at the Stadium when he makes an out.

When it came to loud cheering, Derek Jeter earned that in the bottom of the third with a booming drive to the warning track in center field for a two-run double off Red Sox righthander Brandon Workman that cut the margin to 3-2.

It was the 540th two-base hit of Jeter’s career, which tied him with Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Joe Medwick for 32nd place on the all-time list. More cheers were to come when Jeter raced home to tie the score on a two-out, ground single to right-center by Carlos Beltran.

Yankees fans finally got to shout at Ortiz in the fifth. One out after he gave up a tie-breaking homer to another left-handed hitter, Brock Holt, Capuano was spared another encounter with Ortiz and was replaced by lefthander Rich Hill, who used a tantalizing, 75-mph curve to strike him out to the absolute delight of Yankees fans.

Yankees heed manager’s message

Yankees manager Joe Girardi could not have made it more clear before Wednesday night’s game. He said the players know the situation they are in, that they need to win games, “and we need to start tonight.”

Coming right up, the Yankees might have said. They did not let a disastrous first inning when they ran into two outs on the same play set the tone for the evening and went on to beat the Red Sox, 5-1.

Hiroki Kuroda earned his third straight victory with seven solid innings while his catcher, Brian McCann, had a four-hit game and drove in three runs. It was McCann who helped the Yanks ignore the sight of Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner being thrown out in a failed double-steal attempt when he connected off Boston starter Anthony Ranaudo for a two-run home run in the second inning.

McCann singled to lead off the fifth when the Yankees made it 3-0 on a sacrifice fly by Jacoby Ellsbury, who sure looks comfortable in that leadoff spot. Ellsbury tripled with one out in the seventh and scored on a single by Gardner. After a fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases for McCann, he singled again to pump the Yanks’ lead to 5-1. A second RBI was snuffed out when Carlos Beltran was thrown out at the plate. It’s a pretty good sign for a team that can get three players thrown out on the bases and still win the game.

“Sometimes you get a little too over-aggressive,” Girardi said. “I wasn’t happy with two guys getting thrown out, but that mistake didn’t cost us dearly.”

The Yankees could use some good signs these days. Kuroda provided a big one. He struck out five of the first seven batters and finished with eight punchouts in seven innings. He did not walk a batter, although he did hit one who came around to score in the sixth on a double by Brock Holt, the only one of the four hits off the Japanese righthander that went for extra bases.

“Hiro had a great sinker and split,” Girardi said. “He had fatigue issues in the second half last year, and we have tried to do some things [additional rest] this year to get him to this point.”

Girardi placed his own emphasis on this game by going to his 1-2 punch in the bullpen with Dellin Betances working the eighth with a four-run lead and David Robertson the ninth in a non-save situation.

The Yankees picked up a game on the Athletics and the Tigers in the wild card chase but still trail them by four games, are 3 1/2 behind the Mariners and even with the Indians. The post-season remains very much an uphill climb with several clubs to step over, but for this night anyway the Yankees did not take a step back.

More adventures on the basepaths

The Yankees’ adventurous base running continued Wednesday night. This episode was even worse than Tuesday night when the Yankees at least scored at some point in the inning.

A promising start to Wednesday night’s game came to a sudden end when Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner, who each had singled with one out, combined on a caught-stealing double play. The throw from catcher Christian Vazquez was to second trying for Gardner, the trail runner who stopped before reaching second in the old high-school play mold. Jeter inched off third as Gardner got in a rundown that involved four throws. But when Gardner was finally tagged out, Jeter had gone too far off third to make his way back and was tagged out as well.

The Yankees need to be aggressive to generate an offense, but careless base running does not help. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead against Red Sox righthander Anthony Ranaudo in a more conventional manner in the second inning when Brian McCann crushed a 0-2 fastball for a two-run home run.

Yanks off to grim start in homestand

It was not the way the Yankees wanted to open the homestand. Starting pitcher Shane Greene, who has pitched well overall for the Yankees, did not have it Tuesday night and left the game in the third inning trailing the Red Sox, 6-0. That put the Yankees in uphill-climb mode the rest of the game and they finished on the south side of a 9-4 score.

And matters got no better after the game when manager Joe Girardi revealed that Martin Prado has an aching left hamstring and will be examined Wednesday by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad. Prado had two more hits and is batting .292 since coming to the Yankees.

Yet he was also part of the questionable base running that cost the Yankees dearly in the fifth inning when they were putting together a sustained offense. Carlos Beltran got a bad read on a fly ball, and Prado, one of the most alert players in the majors, made a rare rock that put a cramp in the Yankees’ rally.

After Beltran led off the inning with a single, Brian McCann bunted against the shift and dunked a roller to third base for a single. Up came Prado, who had homered off Boston’s Joe Kelly in the third, and hit another rocket to left field that perplexed Yoenis Cespedes as well as Beltran apparently.

Beltran looked as if he thought Cespedes would catch Prado’s drive which went behind the left fielder. Beltran then pranced to third base and stayed there. Meanwhile, Prado, seeing the ball get over Cespedes dashed around first base thinking double all the way and did not notice until it was too late that McCann was at second base because he could not have advanced with Beltran at third. Prado ended up getting tagged out in a rundown. A bit hit became a big out due to hesitant base running.

“It looked like we were getting to [Kelly], and we gave them an out,” Girardi said.

The Yankees clearly had Kelly on the ropes. He walked the next two hitters to force in a run and got lucky when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was standing in the right spot to glove a smoking liner by Jacoby Ellsbury. Upon video review, an inning-ending grounder by Derek Jeter was reversed to an RBI single, but Brett Gardner was called out on strikes.

There can be no reviews of ball/strike calls. If so, Gardner might not have been punched out. He was so sure plate umpire Tim Timmons’ strike-three call was wrong that he slammed his helmet and bat in disgust, which only served to get Gardner ejected.

“I have more self control than that, but I was frustrated,” Gardner said. “I was frustrated by some of the calls in my first two at-bats when I struck out. I felt like it was way outside. He threw me out of the game before I even spoke to him.”

I do not care how justified Brett may be in protesting a borderline call, there is no way a player can get himself thrown out of such a game. For a team like the Yankees hanging by a thread in trying to qualify for a post-season berth, a player, especially one batting third in the order, getting tossed because he lost his temper is inexcusable.

The result was that Gardner was out of the game and Stephen Drew was in. Anybody like that exchange?

The game also featured a statistical rarity. The Yankees did not have a fielding assist. Boston made only one out on the ground, and it was an unassisted play at first base by Mark Teixeira. The Red Sox struck out 12 times and made the other 14 outs in the air.

September is Derek Jeter Month at Stadium

The Yankees will celebrate the career of Derek Jeter during the month of September. Named the 11th captain in team history on June 3, 2003, Jeter is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits (3,445), games (2,723), stolen bases (357), at-bats (11,108), singles (2,581), doubles (539) and hit by pitches (168). He ranks sixth on Major League Baseball’s all-time hits list and has the most hits of any shortstop in the game’s history.

Derek Jeter Day will be Sunday, Sept. 7 at Yankee Stadium. Prior to the scheduled 1:05 p.m. game against the Royals, former teammates, family members and other guests are expected to take part in a special ceremony highlighting Jeter’s career. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by noon.

As part of the day’s celebration, the Yankees will wear a patch depicting Jeter’s final season logo on the left sleeve of their uniform and cap. The patch will be worn by the team from Sept. 7 through the end of the 2014 season.

New Era recently introduced a limited-edition Derek Jeter Collectible Cap Set. The collection includes three hats that celebrate Jeter’s five World Championships, his 3,000 hits milestone and his upcoming retirement. Only 2,014 units have been created and are currently being sold exclusively at Stadium team stores while supplies last.

Beginning Thursday, Sept. 18, Yankees fans will also have the opportunity to purchase a limited-edition Derek Jeter commemorative issue of Yankees Magazine, the team’s official game-day program. The special issue will provide an exclusive look back at Jeter’s career in pinstripes, from his first mention in the publication in 1992 through coverage of the Sept. 7 ceremony.

Among highlights to be featured include a complete retrospective of Jeter’s 20-year career, a Q&A with Jeter and Ernie Banks, his parents’ recollection of his development from young Yankees fan to the franchise’s 11th captain, and a four-panel centerpiece featuring a graphical retelling of Jeter’s career highlights.

The limited-edition commemorative publication will be available for purchase at Yankee Stadium, by calling 800-GO-YANKS [800-469-2657] or by visiting http://www.yankees.com/jetershop.

As part of a special pregame tribute video to be shown at the Stadium prior to Jeter’s final regular season home game Thursday, Sept. 25, a Yankees film crew will be taking to the streets of New York to gather personal tributes and thank you’s from Yankees fans.

The Yankees are also conducting a “One Word for 2” social media campaign throughout September on the team’s official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Each day during the month, players and fans will be featured on each respective platform providing one word that they feel best describes Jeter along with their reasons for choosing it. Fans can tweet @Yankees or visit facebook.com/yankees and instagram.com/yankees to participate.

Tickets for remaining 2014 Yankees home games may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Stadium ticket office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all ticket offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Tickets may also be purchased on Yankees Ticket Exchange at http://www.yankees.com/yte, the only official online resale marketplace for Yankees fans to purchase and resell tickets to Yankees games. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

Yanks blow three-run lead to end 3-4 trip

A trip considered pivotal for the Yankees’ playoff chances did not turn out as well as they had hoped. They got off to a good start with a victory in Kansas City over one of the contenders for post-season play but hit snags in Detroit and Toronto where the Yanks lost each series, two games to one.

Sunday’s finale at Rogers Centre was a major disappointment. One day after sustaining a one-hit shutout, the Yankees bounced back against J.A. Happ to take a 3-0 lead behind Brandon McCarthy, who was rolling along through five innings working on a two-hit shutout.

Before McCarthy could get the third out of the sixth, however, he was smacked for two long home runs by Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista that made it a one-run game. Cabrera’s 16th home run of the season was his fifth this year against his former teammates. Bautista’s 29th homer of the season made it five straight games in which he has gone deep, one shy of the franchise record by Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001. The major league record is eight shared by the Pirates’ Dale Long (1956), the Yankees’ Don Mattingly (1987) and the Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr. (1993).

Edwin Encarnacion tied the score when he led off the seventh with another bomb of a homer (No. 28), and a shaken McCarthy then walked Dioner Navarro. That turned out to be just as bad as the home runs when pinch runner Steve Tolleson stole second base with two out and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Munenori Kawasaki off Dellin Betances. The play at home was close, but Tolleson sliding head first got his left hand across the plate just before the lunging tag by catcher Francisco Cervelli.

The Yankees had chances after that to get back in the game. They had two runners on with two out in the eighth against Brett Cecil, but Cervelli struck out. In the ninth, Jacoby Ellsbury, hobbled by a sprained left ankle that was heavily taped, came off the bench and pinch-hit a double to shallow right field with one out. Pinch runner Ichiro Suzuki moved to third as Brett Gardner, who flirted with a cycle, grounded out to the right side.

That brought up Derek Jeter in what was likely his final game in Toronto. A Hollywood ending would have had the Captain trying the score at least with a single or perhaps even putting the Yanks ahead with a two-run homer. Instead, he hit a soft liner to Tolleson to end the disappointing trip in which the Yankees were 3-4.

The Yanks wasted several other scoring opportunities. Cervelli tripled with two out in the second before Stephen Drew struck out. Cervelli singled in the Yankees’ second run in the fourth, but he and another runner were stranded when Drew flied out.

Gardner accounted for the other two runs with his 16th home run of the season, the fifth leading off a game, and a triple in the fifth when he continued to the plate on an errant relay by Jose Reyes. Gardner doubled with two out in the seventh but Jeter was out on a pepper shot. Gardner needed a single to complete the cycle, and it might have tied the score in the ninth except he grounded out. He also flied out to left field in the third inning.

While the Yankees had 11 hits, the middle of their lineup was silent as Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. The Yanks had 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

The Yankees’ loss dropped them nine games behind first-place Baltimore in the American League East, and they stayed 3 1/2 games back in the wild-card race by failing to take advantage of a Detroit loss with Seattle and Kansas City playing later in the day. Even worse, the Yankees could have buried the Blue Jays but instead allowed Toronto to pull to 1 1/2 games behind them in the wild-card hunt.

Labor Day turns out to be a holiday as well for the Yankees, who have Monday off. Then it’s another crucial nine-game stretch at Yankee Stadium with three-game series each against the Red Sox, Royals and Rays. Time is growing short.

All Yanks join Ellsbury in hit parade

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.

Yanks have another ‘big game’ against Shields

James Shields’ nickname is “Big Game,” but the Yankees are the ones who often have the big game when they face him. Such was the case again Monday night as the Yankees got off to a positive start to their significant trip that continues to Detroit and Toronto with an 8-1 victory over the American League Central-leading Royals in a makeup game from a June 9 rainout.

Despite playing without two of their most productive hitters, Brett Gardner (bruised right ankle) and Mark Teixeira (tender left hamstring), the Yankees banged out 13 hits with every member of the lineup contributing to the effort that earned them their fifth straight victory. The barrage included home runs by Stephen Drew, Martin Prado and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ten of the hits were off Shields, who was trailing by only 2-1 going into the seventh inning when the Yanks broke things open with four runs. Prado, who has been red hot lately, started the inning with a home run. In his past nine games, Prado is batting .417 with eight runs, six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI in 36 at-bats to raise his season batting average 12 points to .272.

Singles by Chase Headley and Ichiro Suzuki were followed one out later with singles by Ellsbury and Derek Jeter and a sacrifice fly by Brian McCann. Ellsbury finished off a three-hit, three-RBI night with a two-run homer in the ninth off lefthander Francisley Bueno.

Shields was charged with six earned runs in his 6 2/3 innings. He also walked three batters and committed a costly error that led to a Yankees run in the third inning that was driven in by Jeter on an infield out. The Captain had two RBI in his final regular-season game at Kauffman Stadium where he was warmly received by the crowd of 31,758.

The loss dropped Shields’ career record against the Yankees to 9-16 with a 4.33 ERA in 195 1/3 innings. The righthander was the first of four formidable pitchers the Yankees were scheduled to face this week, followed by the Tigers’ Rick Porcello, David Price and Justin Verlander.

The offensive outburst was a welcome sight for the Yankees, who have struggled with the bat much of the season. And the way Michael Pineda pitched, not all that much offense was necessary.

In his third start since coming back from a right shoulder injury, Pineda allowed one run (on a third-inning solo homer by Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas) and five hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Pineda is 1-0 with two no-decisions and a 2.08 ERA with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings since his return from the disabled list. He has helped fortify a rotation that has been riddled by injuries throughout the season.

David Huff, coming off a victory in relief Sunday, supplied 2 2/3 scoreless innings in support of Pineda, who earned his first winning decision since April 16.

Not to take anything away from this winning streak, but four of the victories came against the going-nowhere Astros and White Sox, but the Royals have proved a legitimate contender for a division title and playoff berth. The Yanks took three of four from Detroit three weeks ago at the Stadium, so there is no reason for them not to feel confident going into Comerica Park.

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