Results tagged ‘ DeWayne Wise ’
The Yankees encountered a severe bump in the road in Chicago. The previous time the Yankees faced a division leader, American League West-leading Texas, they took three of four from the Rangers at Yankee Stadium. The AL Central-leading White Sox proved stiffer competition in sweeping the three-game series at U.S. Cellular Field.
It marked the first time the Yankees were swept in a series of at least three games by the White Sox since Chicago won a four-game set June 15-18, 2000 at the Stadium. The Yanks were swept in a series of at least three games at the Cell for the first time since Aug. 6-8, 1991. The sweep shrunk the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to three games over the Rays.
They were beaten at their own game by the White Sox, who outhomered the Yankees, 7-4, in the series. The Chisox got homers from seven different players, including Alex Rios’ blow off Phil Hughes that unlocked a 1-1 game in the sixth inning in Wednesday night’s finale. Three of the Yankees’ homers were by Derek Jeter, who homered in three straight games for the first time in his career.
The Captain’s dinger with one out in the sixth that tied the score was the only blemish on an overpowering outing by Sox starter Chris Sale, 23, a legitimate AL Cy Young Award candidate who improved his record to 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA. The 6-foot-6 lefthander gave up three hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, including Ichiro Suzuki three times and Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Casey McGehee twice apiece. Jeter was the only Yankees hitter that Sale did not fan. Overall, the Yankees struck out 15 times.
It was a tough loss for Hughes (12-11), who allowed five hits and two walks with five strikeouts in seven innings. He gave up a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Kevin Youkilis that scored Gordon Beckham, who had led off the inning with a double.
DeWayne Wise, who tormented his former teammates throughout the series (7-for-14, one home run, two RBI, two runs, one stolen base), bunted for a single that sent Beckham to third. The hit proved a gift because video replays indicated that first base umpire Bill Welke blew the call and Wise should have been called out. It didn’t affect the game, however, because even if Wise had been out Beckham would have crossed to third base anyway and have been in position to score on the Youkilis fly ball.
The White Sox entered the set coming off a disastrous series at Kansas City where they were swept and played shabbily. Clearly, they returned to form against the Yankees and raised their lead in the AL Central to two games over the Tigers.
The Yankees meanwhile get their first day off in 20 days Thursday. They sure can use one.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been beset by questions from some reporters about why he is not using Ichiro Suzuki as his leadoff hitter, even though the point was made clear at the time of the trade that brought the Japanese outfielder from Seattle that he would bat in the lower third of the order.
Still, queries persisted because Girardi was toying with the lineup because the absence of disabled third baseman Alex Rodriguez left the batting order a bit too left-handed, and the manager was trying to figure out ways to break up all those lefty hitters. One idea was to use Curtis Granderson in the leadoff spot, an experiment that fizzled, so Jeter went back to the top spot.
When Ichiro got hot during the past homestand, the issue came up again. You would have thought by now that these people would have realized that the Yankees already have a pretty good leadoff hitter. Suzuki certainly was a sensational leadoff hitter in his prime years with the Mariners, but he is putting up nowhere near the numbers that Jeter is this season.
Despite turning 38, Jeter is having the caliber season he enjoyed 10 years ago. DJ hit the first pitch from lefthander Francisco Liriano Tuesday night for a home run, his 12th of the season. It was also his 3,256th hit, which pushed him past Eddie Murray into 11th place on the all-time list. No. 10 is Willie Mays at 3,283.
Jeter is now exactly 1,000 hits behind career leader Pete Rose, who also reached Jeter’s total at age 38 but played until he was 45. Jeter’s contract with the Yankee runs through 2013 with a player option for 2014, the year he would turn 40. Whether DJ will keep playing well into his 40s remains to be seen, but he has always cared more about winning games than personal goals.
I have always thought Rose’s coolest record is that he played on the winning side in the most games – 1,972. Jeter is at 1,525 victories, so he would have to play probably five more years for a legitimate shot at besting that mark.
But when it comes to leadoff hitting (and Rose was awfully good at that, too), Jeter is having a terrific season. He is batting .396 with five home runs in 111 at-bats leading off games with a .412 on-base average and a .613 slugging percentage. That gives the Captain an OPS of 1.025 in those situations. For his career leading off games, Jeter is a .356 hitter with 29 home runs in 873 at-bats with a .403 on-base average and a .523 slugging percentage for a .926 OPS.
Overall in his career, Jeter is batting .311 with 99 home runs in 3,972 at-bats as a leadoff hitter. He has batted most often in the 2-hole (5,348 at-bats) where he has hit .315 with 135 home runs. There is not that much of a difference. Jeter is clearly just as good batting first as batting second.
Unfortunately Tuesday night, after Jeter’s homer they did not do much else. They got a second run in the first inning, but for the second straight night they failed to keep that 2-0 lead. Their only other run in the 7-3 loss was a solo home run by Russell Martin in the seventh. The past 10 home runs for the Yankees have come up with the bases empty. The last home run they hit with a runner on base was Aug. 16, a two-run shot by Andruw Jones.
It was a bases-loaded home run by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth inning off Ivan Nova that shot the White Sox toward the victory. The Sox have been beating the Yankees at their own game with six home runs the past two games. DeWayne Wise, who was let go by the Yanks when they dealt for Suzuki, had four hits for Chicago and is 6-for-10 (.600) in the series. The Yankees kept their four-game lead in the American League East because the Rays’ five-game winning streak came to an end in a 1-0, 10-inning loss to the Royals.
With each game it seems Derek Jeter reaches another milestone. He hit a pair of them in the first inning alone Monday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field in a four-hit game that was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing game for the Yankees. They blew leads of 3-0 and 6-5 with the White Sox using four home runs to construct a 9-6 victory as the Yanks’ lead in the American League East fell to four games over Tampa Bay.
Jeter led off the game with a single, which he does a lot. DJ is hitting .391 in 110 at-bats leading off games in 2012 and .355 in 872 at-bats for his career. The hit was career No. 3,252 for Jeter, who tied Nap Lajoie for 12th place on the all-time list. Jeter eventually scored on a two-out single by Mark Teixeira. That was career run No. 1,844 for Jeter as he tied Craig Biggio for 13th place on that all-time list.
It did not take Jeter long to break the tie with Lajoie with an infield single in the third for his 3,253rd career hit which left him only two behind No. 11 Eddie Murray. The Captain still has a way to go to catch the 12th-place guy in runs, Mel Ott, at 1,859.
Teixeira returned to the lineup after sitting out the weekend series at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox to nurse a sore left wrist. Curtis Granderson singled in a run in the second as the Yanks took a 3-0 lead against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, who was surrounded by base runners in his brief time on the mound.
Considering that Floyd allowed five hits, four walks and a hit batter, the Yankees should have done better than to just knock him out of the game one out into the third inning, but they stranded eight runners over the first five innings against Floyd and left-handed reliever Hector Santiago.
Freddy Garcia was cruising along until he hit a wall with one out in the fifth. After getting his eighth strikeout for the first out of the inning, Garcia put the next five batters on base. DeWayne Wise started Chicago’s comeback with a two-run home run off his former teammate. Wise had been a valuable utility outfielder for the Yankees before he was designated for assignment last month to create roster space for Ichiro Suzuki, who was acquired from the Mariners.
Garcia was replaced after loading the bases on a single and two walks. Manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen using Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, but after a force play and two singles the White Sox had taken a 5-3 lead.
Jeter led the Yankees’ comeback with a home run, his 11th, leading off the sixth, crawling one hit behind Murray. It was also Jeter’s 251st home run, which pushed him past Graig Nettles into ninth place on the franchise list. Ironically, it came on Nettles’ 68th birthday. The Yankees added two more runs on singles by Teixeira and pinch hitter Casey McGehee.
Chamberlain’s continuing troubles cost the Yankees the lead in the bottom of the sixth. He had given up a run-scoring single the previous inning and was taken deep by Gordon Beckham that tied the score again. Opposing hitters are batting .455 against Chamberlain, whose ERA swelled to 9.45.
Other relievers had problems, too. Boone Logan was touched for a two-run home run by Alexei Ramirez in the seventh inning and Derek Lowe yielded a solo shot to Adam Dunn in the eighth.
Jeter got even with Murray in lifetime hits when he doubled with two out in the seventh for his fourth hit of the game and 3,255th of his career. Cap leads the majors in hits with 167, five more than he had all of last year, and ranks third in the majors with 51 multi-hit games, six more than his 2011 total.
Sheesh! I cannot leave this team for a minute. I was in Cooperstown, N.Y., the past four days for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend, and the Yankees end up losing each day to the Athletics by one run. What a stunner.
Okay, let’s settle down. Not even the Yankees could have stayed as sizzling as they have been in recent weeks. Credit Oakland with some first-rate pitching and defense against the Yankees, who continue to have trouble hitting with runners in scoring position that caught up with them against the A’s.
Now it is off to Seattle where they will welcome a new teammate. Ichiro Suzuki will walk from the home clubhouse to the visitors’ quarters at Safeco Field. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman pulled off the deal for one of the game’s hitting machines at the cost of only two 25-year-old pitchers, D. J. Mitchell and Danny Farquar.
With Brett Gardner out for the remainder of the season and Nick Swisher out of the lineup in recent days with a strained left hip flexor, the Yankees were in need of outfield help. They have designated DeWayne Wise for assignment to make room for Ichiro, who burst on the American scene in 2001 by winning both the American League Most Valuable Player and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Awards, a feat accomplished by only one other player, Red Sox center fielder Fred Lynn in 1975.
The question of the day, naturally, is how much does Ichiro have left at the age of 38? He was a magnificent player in his first 10 seasons in the majors as the first Japanese-born position player. He piled up one 200-plus hit season after another. That streak ended last year when he fell under .300 (.272) and 200 hits (184) for the first time. In 95 games and 402 at-bats this year, Ichiro has 105 hits and is batting .261.
The hope, of course, is that Suzuki will be rejuvenated by getting onto to a contender and that he will be helped by making hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium his home over pitcher-friendly Safeco.
Howard Lincoln, the Mariners’ chief executive officer, said late Monday afternoon that Suzuki had recently requested a trade.
“On behalf of our ownership group and everyone in the Seattle Mariners organization, I thank Ichiro for the great career he has had here in Seattle,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent, Tony Attanasio, approached [team president] Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him. Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future. He felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop.
“Ichiro will be missed. He owns a long list of Major League Baseball and Mariners club records, has earned many prestigious awards, and in my opinion, he will someday be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know that I speak for all of Ichiro’s fans, here in the Pacific Northwest, around this country and also throughout Japan, in wishing him and his wife Yumiko the very best as he continues his baseball career with the Yankees.”
Suzuki is a .322 career hitter in the U.S. with 2,533 hits, including 295 doubles, 79 triples and 99 home runs. He has scored 1,176 runs and driven in 633. Ichiro has a .366 career on-base average with 513 walks, plus 438 stolen bases. Since his American debut 11 years ago, he has 330 more hits than any player.
Ichiro will become the sixth Japan-born player in Yankees franchise history, joining Hideki Irabu (1997-99), Hideki Matsui (2003-09), Kei Igawa (2007-08), Hiroki Kuroda (2012) and Ryota Igarashi (2012).
Suzuki has won two AL batting titles (.350 in 2001, .372 in 2004) and has led or tied for the major-league lead in hits seven times (2001, ’04, ‘06-10), which is tied with Ty Cobb and Pete Rose for the most such seasons. Ichiro is the only player to do it in five consecutive years. He finished first or second in his every season from 2001 to 2010 and placed ninth in 2011.
In 2004, Suzuki totaled 262 hits to set the all-time modern era (since 1900) single-season hits record. Along with his 242 hits in 2001 and 238 hits in 2007, Ichiro owns three of the top 20 single-season hits totals in major-league history. He had at least 200 hits in 10 straight seasons from 2001 through 2010, tying Rose for the most 200-hit seasons in a major-league career.
Suzuki’s 2,533 career hits in the States are the most by any player through his first 12 seasons. At the conclusion of all but one of his 12 seasons, Ichiro has held the distinction of having more hits to start a career than any other major leaguer. The lone exception occurred after his third season, when only Lloyd Waner (678) had more hits than Suzuki’s 662 (according to data at http://www.baseball-reference.com).
Ichiro has made 1,790 starts as an outfielder (1,525 in right field and 265 in center field) and has a career fielding percentage of .992 with just 33 errors in 4,181 total chances. He has won 10 Gold Gloves for fielding. The Yankees now have two of the six outfielders to have won 10 or more Gold Gloves. The other is 10-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones. Willie Mays and Robertp Clemente won 12 each, and Al Kaline and Junior Griffey 10 apiece.
Prior to playing in the majors, Suzuki spent nine seasons (1992-2000) with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s Pacific League was named the league’s MVP three times (1994-96). He hit .353 and led the Pacific League in batting average for seven straight years (1994-2000).
It is as impressive a resume as a player can have. The question remains, how much is left in that tank? We shall find out.
There is always concern whether a pitcher who has had success in the National League can transfer that to the American League where lineups tend to be deeper because of the designated hitter rule. This is particularly true in the AL East where pitchers get very little margin for error. Go ask Javier Vazquez or A.J. Burnett.
The issue came up when the Yankees signed Hiroko Kuroda in the off-season. The Japanese-born righthander was a sturdy if unspectacular starter with the Dodgers who had a 41-46 record and 3.45 ERA over four seasons in Los Angeles. I can remember Lou Piniella saying years ago that teams needed to be careful when acquiring pitchers from the Dodgers because their statistics are aided greatly by the conditions at Dodger Stadium where the dimensions are deep and where the ball does not travel well in the damp southern California air, especially at night.
So along comes Kuroda, who seems to have turned that theory upside-down. Yankee Stadium, with its cozy right-field porch and other hitter-friendly amenities, is hardly a pitchers’ dream, but Kuroda has pitched better in the Bronx than he ever did in Chavez Ravine.
His latest success story at the Stadium was Wednesday’s rain-shortened, 6-0 seven-inning victory. Kuroda gave up a double and three singles, did not walk a batter and struck out five in improving his record to 9-7 with a 3.46 ERA.
In 11 starts at Yankee Stadium this year, Kuroda is 7-3 with a 2.68 ERA and has held opponents to a .219 batting average with seven home runs and 21 RBI in 270 at-bats. Just think; in his years at Dodger Stadium, Kuroda was barely a .500 pitcher with a 20-21 record and 3.43 ERA.
The Yankees wasted no time in providing Kuroda a comfort level as they struck for four runs in the first inning off Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero. On a day when figurines of his likeness were distributed to fans, Mark Teixeira followed a double by Derek Jeter and a run-scoring single by Nick Swisher with a home run. One out later, Robinson Cano doubled and came home on a single by Andruw Jones.
Cano ran his hitting streak to 21 games, the longest for the Yankees since Jeter had a 25-gamer in 2006 from Aug. 20 to Sept. 16. Cano is batting .402 with 14 runs, six doubles, six home runs and 20 RBI during the streak.
The rally guaranteed that the Yankees would extend their team steak of games in which they have scored three or more runs to 42, a franchise record and six shy of the major league mark by the 1994 Indians.
Jayson Nix, who played for the Blue Jays last year, got his second straight start against Toronto and kept up his assault on his former team. Nix, who played shortstop as Jeter was the DH, has 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles and three runs this year against his old mates.
It was part of a good day for the Yanks’ bench. DeWayne Wise, who spelled Curtis Granderson in center field, had a double, a single and two RBI.
The Yankees finished the 5-1 homestand with their eighth series sweep, one shy of last year’s total. It was their third series sweep at home this year. The others were June 8-10 against the Mets and June 25-27 against the Indians.
The Blue Jays, once considered contenders in the American League East, fell two games under .500 and into last place, 12 ½ games behind the division-leading Yankees. Toronto had 1-for-25 (.040) with runners in scoring position in the series and lost two position players. Outielder Jose Bautista was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of a left wrist strain. Third baseman Brett Lawrie bruised his right calf tumbling into the photographer’s well next to the visitors’ dugout. It has been that kind of year for the Blue Jays, who lost three starting pitchers to injury in the same week last month.
The Yankees are off to the West Coast for a four-game series at Oakland and a three-game set at Seattle, and I am off to Cooperstown, N.Y., for the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend.
What a way to start the second half. The Yankees’ come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over the Angels Friday night was satisfying in so many ways, not the least of which was the effort of Russell Martin, who had a miserable first half at the plate but who got the second half off to an encouraging start with perhaps his best all-around game of the year.
Yes, I can hear the snickering out there. Martin didn’t have to do much to have his best game, but his manager, a former catcher himself, saw a lot he liked just a few days after the two had talked things out behind closed doors. Joe Girardi decided not to pinch-hit for Martin when it appeared called for in the bottom of the eighth inning and was rewarded for the call as Martin hit a broken-bat single to right field to drive in the deciding run.
“I feel a lot better than I did before the game,” said Martin, who took a .179 batting average into the game that rose slightly to .181 with the hit. “I was hoping he wouldn’t pinch-hit for me, but if he did I would have understood.”
Girardi had sent Alex Rodriguez up to bat for Martin in the ninth inning last Saturday night at Boston in a blowout loss to the Red Sox. A message? Perhaps. Girardi did not say. Friday night was different, however.
“I had no thoughts of pinch hitting for him,” Girardi said. “I liked what I saw of him tonight.”
That included Martin’s work behind the plate. He threw out three runners on the basepaths and guided Hiroki Kuroda through six innings of one-run, two-hit pitching before Mark Trumbo put the Yankees in a hole from which Martin and Mark Teixeira eventually helped the Yanks escape.
Teixeira, who also had some glum times early in the first half, had a monster night with two home runs and five RBI. Think of the damage the Yankees can do if these two guys get back on all cylinders.
I don’t know if anyone from Kansas City was watching Friday night’s Yankees-Angels game, but they would have seen why Trumbo was one of the sluggers Robinson Cano chose over the Royals’ Billy Butler for the American League team in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Trumbo, who beat the Yankees with a ninth-inning home run May 28 at Anaheim, pounded a drive into the bleachers in left-center field at Yankee Stadium for a three-run home run that cost Kuroda the lead in the seventh inning. Trumbo’s 23rd home run of the season was as impressive a blow as any he hit at Kauffman Stadium Monday night in the event that stirred the passion of Royals fans who booed Cano for two days there because of their perceived slight of Butler.
Kuroda, who beat the Angels in the Yankees’ home opener in April and was trying to get the second half off to a similar start, entered the seventh working on a two-hitter with a 2-1 lead. Albert Pujols, who has righted himself since that terrible start back in April, began the inning with a single to left-center.
Kuroda asked for trouble by hitting Kendrys Morales with a two-strike pitch prior to having to face Trumbo, who has become one of the most feared hitters in the majors. The long home run off Kuroda made it five consecutive games against the Yankees for Trumbo.
The Yankees had taken away the 1-0 lead Eric Aybar provided with a home run in the third when Teixeira connected for his 16th home run in the bottom of the inning. Scoring ahead of Tex was Derek Jeter with career run No. 1,817 to push him past Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski into 16th place on the all-time list.
The Yanks wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the sixth when Curtis Granderson led off with a triple on a failed diving catch attempt by Angels center fielder Mike Trout but died at third as Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano could not get the ball out of the infield.
The seventh was nearly the same, but again C.J. Wilson worked out of trouble. Nick Swisher led off with a double to left and crossed to third on Andruw Jones’ flyout to the warning track in right field. Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo made a good recovery on a tricky grounder by Martin to get the second out and Jayson Nix struck out leaving Swish stranded at third.
All that changed in the eighth after the Angels had increased their advantage to 5-2 on doubles by Trout and Pujols. Trumbo made a strong bid for another homer, but Swisher caught the ball on a leap in front of the right field auxiliary scoreboard.
The Yankees struck quickly in the bottom of the eighth against lefthander Scott Downs, who had allowed only one earned run all season in 30 innings but ended up allowing four runs that cost his team the game. Jeter doubled, Granderson walked and Teixeira went boom again, a three-run bomb that tied the score.
Even after two were out, the Yankees were not done. Downs’ last batter was Swisher, who walked. DeWayne Wise ran for Swish and got a big stolen base. With first base open, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had Raul Ibanez walked intentionally after the count got to three balls.
I must admit that I expected Eric Chavez to hit for Martin in that spot. Chavez grabbed a bat and went back to the cage because he had told he would hit for Jayson Nix if Martin kept the rally going. Martin did more than that. The Yankees truly hope he can continue along that line.
One of the strengths of the 2012 Yankees is how they have overcome injuries. Much has been made in this weekend series at Fenway Park about the makeshift lineups that manager Bobby Valentine is throwing out there because of injuries to key Red Sox players, but the Yankees have not been exactly running on all cylinders, either.
And yet the Yanks have the best record in the major leagues just past the midway point of the season, due in large part to the contributions of players filling in for those on the disabled list. What better example could there have been than the matinee of Saturday’s split-admission twin bill with Freddy Garcia and Andruw Jones reaching back into their past glory to put their stamps on a 6-1 victory.
Garcia, who was banished from the rotation three months ago, has been given a second chance as a starter with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on the DL, and he has responded with two straight quality starts. The righthander pitched into the seventh inning for the first time this season in his longest start (6 2/3 innings) over a calendar year and held the Red Sox to five singles, a double and two walks with five strikeouts to post his first victory as a starter this year.
Granted, Boston’s lineup won’t make anyone think of its 2004 or ’07 World Series champions, but Garcia had the kind of stuff that might have handled those squads as well. Freddy’s fastball was in the upper 80’s, which made his breaking stuff more effective. Considering that Pettitte will be out probably until around Labor Day, Garcia could become a fixture in the rotation for a while.
Jones, who along with Raul Ibanez has made up for the nearly season-long loss of left fielder Brett Gardner, supported Garcia with two solo home runs and a splendid play at the base of the Green Monster in the sixth inning that became a stylish double play at the expense of Adrian Gonzalez.
One day after winning a game without hitting a home run, the Yankees left the yard four times Saturday afternoon. Jones was part of two back-to-back homer innings for the Yankees. He followed Nick Swisher’s three-run bomb in the first with a home run and went yard again in the fourth in front of Jayson Nix, who played shortstop to give Derek Jeter a half-day off as the designated hitter. Swisher’s homer ended a hitless stretch that had reached 17 at-bats.
The Yankees’ four-run first gave Garcia a comfort zone. Unlike teammate Hiroki Kuroda, who blew a 5-0, first-inning lead Friday night in a game the Yanks eventually won, 10-8, Garcia protected the early bulge. The only run he allowed came in the fourth on successive singles by David Ortiz, Gonzalez and Mauro Gomez.
Jones added another solo homer in the nightcap, a sloppy, 9-5 Yankees loss in which they committed four errors. Three more first-inning runs, on Mark Teixeira’s 15th home run, makes it 14 first-inning runs for the Yankees in five games this season against Boston. Phil Hughes failed to hold the lead, and one-day call-up Cory Wade continued to have problems as the Red Sox batted around in both the sixth and seventh innings to produce seven runs.
Garcia and Jones are just two examples of players who have plugged holes for the Yankees. Cody Eppley (2.74 ERA), who pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, has been an effective situational right-handed reliever in the absence of Joba Chamberlain and while David Robertson was on the DL. And the panic the Yanks felt at first following the knee injury to Mariano Rivera back in May has subsided with Rafael Soriano stepping in for 20 saves in 21 opportunities.
Think also of the recent career week of reserve outfielder DeWayne Wise and the season-long steadiness of veteran corner infielder Eric Chavez and you have the ingredients that have kept the Yankees from tumbling down the standings despite the injuries they have sustained.
The Yankees have squandered their opportunity to bury the Rays in the American League East standings and need to win a pitching mismatch in Wednesday’s series finale to avoid getting swept. Recent Triple A call-up David Phelps has the assignment in the Fourth of July pairing with Tampa Bay staff ace David Price.
Tropicana Field remains a horror house for the Yankees, who have lost nine straight games at St. Petersburg, Fla. Tuesday night’s 7-4 loss ended the 12-game winning streak on the road for Ivan Nova, who lost away from Yankee Stadium for the first time since June 3 last year at Anaheim.
For the second straight night, the Yankees broke out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning only to have the rally end prematurely because of a double play. This time the twin killing was embarrassing because Robinson Cano obviously lost track of the number of outs and was doubled off first base on a routine fly ball to center field.
Also for the second straight game, Derek Jeter led off with a double. Curtis Granderson followed with a double off first baseman Carlos Pena’s glove as the Yanks got on the board immediately. One out later, Cano singled home Granderson as the second baseman extended his hitting streak to 10 games.
All this came against James Shields, one of the top starting pitchers in the American League but who has always had trouble with the Yankees. The righthander won Tuesday night but is 6-13 with a 4.58 ERA in his career against the Yankees while he is 74-55 with a 3.90 ERA against all other teams.
DeWayne Wise, whose role with the Yankees has certainly grown over the past week, raised the advantage to 3-0 with a leadoff home run in the third on a drive that slammed off a catwalk on the Tropicana Field roof in right field.
Nova had a chance to make history with this start, the 50th of his major league career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the highest winning percentage for a pitcher through his first 50 big-league starts was the .795 for Roy Oswalt, who was 31-8. Nova went into the game with a 26-6 (.813) career mark. He could have broken the record with a victory (.818) or no-decision (.813), but the loss dropped his winning percentage to .788.
The Yankees’ defense let Nova down in the third as Tampa Bay took the lead. An error, a tough one, was charged to catcher Russell Martin for failing to hold onto the ball after taking the short-hop throw from Wise in left field following a collision at the plate with Elliot Johnson, who scored on the single by B.J. Upton.
That plate umpire Sam Holbrook reversed his call convinced the official scorer to reverse his as well. Holbrook had called Johnson out but then made the safe sign after seeing that the ball had come loose. So Martin had to be charged with an error even though it was a difficult play. The catcher seemed to recognize his error when he was observed saying to Wise in the dugout after the inning was over, “My bad.”
Nova lost the lead when he gave up a two-out, two-run single to Jeff Keppinger. The Yankees regained the lead with a two-out rally in the fourth on a double by Raul Ibanez and a single by Eric Chavez. But Nova failed again to produce a shutdown inning as Sean Rodriguez put Tampa Bay ahead once more with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth.
The Yankees had an opportunity to tie the score in the sixth, but Cano was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first base on a double by Ibanez but was victimized on a fine relay from right fielder Ben Zobrist by Rodriguez to catcher Jose Molina. Video replays indicated that Cano perhaps got his hand on the plate before the tag, but the ball surely beat him and Holbrook was right on top of the play.
Conversely, the Rays’ base running was key to their scoring two tag-on runs in the seventh. With runners on first and third and one out, an errant throw to second by Martin on a stolen base by Upton allowed Jennings to score and Upton to get all the way to third from where he scored on a two-out single by Zobrist.
There is no getting around the fact that it was a messy game for the Yankees. Nova could not hold a 3-0 lead, the Yankees committed three errors and allowed the Rays to steal five bases, plus Cano’s brain cramp and Martin’s slump reaching 0-for-23 proportions. The trip that was supposed to be the chance for the Yankees to put space between them and the rest of the AL East field seems to be in reverse.
It comes as no surprise that Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano was named the American League Player of the Week for his outstanding hitting last week when he batted .414 with two doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI in 29 at-bats over seven games.
Cano’s competition for the award, which he won for the sixth time in his career and the first time since the week of Aug. 22, 2010, were his own teammates, pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and outfielder DeWayne Wise. Kuroda was 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 14 innings and Wise hit .500 with one double, one triple, two home runs and five RBI in 14 at-bats and also pitched two-thirds of an inning and allowed no runs and no hits.
Cano has a busy day Monday. In his role as AL captain of the All-Star Home Run Derby July 9, the night before the All-Star Game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium, Cano named Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder and Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo to the squad along with himself. Cano won the event last year. Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton and Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz had been considered by Cano but both declined to be part of the competition.
Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, the captain of the National League squad, named fellow outfielders Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins. Kemp is on the disabled list and will not play in the All-Star Game but will participate in the Home Run Derby.
The Yankees had a new pitcher in the bullpen Monday night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., for the start of a three-game series against the Rays. Chad Qualls, acquired from the Phillies for cash considerations and a player to be named, was 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 appearances for Philadelphia. He will replace Cory Wade, who struggled in June and was optioned to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Also back in the dugout was outfielder-designated hitter Raul Ibanez, who stayed in New York as the Yankees traveled to Tampa to have a lacerated lip and cracked tooth repaired. Ibanez was hurt while sitting in the dugout Sunday trying to avoid being by a foul ball by White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
What a relief to the Yankees to get a start such as the one Hiroki Kuroda provided Saturday in a 4-0 victory over the White Sox. After two dismal losses that taxed the bullpen, Kuroda pitched seven shutout innings and limiting Chicago to three singles and a walk while striking out 11 to match his career high.
One day after scoring 14 runs the White Sox managed to get only one runner past second base. David Robertson came back strong with a scoreless eighth two days after giving up a home run that cost the Yankees a game, and Rafael Soriano had an easy time of it recording his 18th save with a double-play ball.
It was the first time the Yankees allowed at least 14 runs in a game and then shut out an opponent the very next game since a split-stadium doubleheader June 27, 2008 against the Mets when the Yankees lost, 15-6, at Yankee Stadium in the afternoon and won, 9-0, at Shea Stadium at night.
“You never want your starter to worry about the bullpen,” manager Joe Girardi said. “You want him to think about giving you length every game. But yes, we needed a game like this.”
Kuroda, who has won five of his past six decisions while pitching to a 1.65 ERA, retired 15 consecutive batters from the first inning into the sixth, a stretch that ended when he hit Kevin Youkilis with a pitch the inning after Jake Peavy, a complete-game loser, had plunked Derek Jeter. Kuroda improved his record to 8-7 with a 3.17 ERA in pitching at least seven innings without allowing a run for the fourth time this season, the most for any Yankees starter.
Solo home runs by Curtis Granderson (No. 23), DeWayne Wise (No. 2) and Robinson Cano (No. 19) accounted for all but one of the Yankees’ runs. The other was by virtue of a double by Wise, who had quite a week for himself.
The reserve outfielder earned his way into the lineup over the past six games by going 7-for-11 (.636) with one double, one triple, two home runs and five RBI in raising his season batting average from .133 to .268. He also got two outs as a pitcher Friday night and another big out on a phantom catch Tuesday night with help from an umpire’s oversight.
“I just waited for the opportunity,” Wise said. “I’ve kept working hard in batting practice, trying to keep it simple and not over-stride. It has been a fun week.”
And it was mostly a fun month for the Yankees. They will not be anxious for the calendar to turn Sunday. The Yankees were 20-7 in June, the most victories for them in a calendar month since August 2009 when they were 21-7.
No Yankees player had a hotter June than Cano, who batted .340 with four doubles, one triple, 11 home runs and 21 RBI in 100 at-bats in the month. His home run total was the highest for any single month of his career. Cano has homered in eight of his past 13 games while batting .367 with 14 RBI during that stretch. Cano leads all second baseman in the majors with 19 home runs and a .582 slugging percentage. He has at least one RBI in 10 straight games against the White Sox, the longest such streak by a Yankee since 1931 by a guy named Babe Ruth.