Results tagged ‘ Don Kelly ’

When Yanks don’t homer, they don’t win

For a while there Saturday night at Detroit, it appeared that the Yankees would win a game this year without hitting a home run. In fact, it was the element of base running that seemed to be in the Yankees’ favor. In the end, though, their lack of coming up with hits in critical situations had them looking at their 12th winless homerless game.

I know you are tired of reading this (no more than I am tired of writing it), but the Yankees’ troubles with runners in scoring position and with the bases loaded continued in the 4-3 loss. They left 12 runners on base – nine in scoring position. Nick Swisher’s two-out, RBI single in the eighth inning was the Yankees’ only hit in 12 at-bats with runners in scoring position, which dropped their season average in clutch situations to .222.

In the ninth inning, Jose Valverde blew a save opportunity and seemed to be handing the Yanks the game in a bizarre performance. Valverde threw 29 pitches, only 13 of which were in the strike zone. He walked two batters, hit two and was lucky to get away with yielding only one run on a bases-loaded walk to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees were 0-for-2 with the bases loaded that inning and are now 9-for-57 (.158) in those spots for the season.

The Yankees used their legs to score. Robinson Cano alertly took third base on a single to center by Teixeira in the sixth and was able to score on an infield out by birthday boy Raul Ibanez, who turned 40. Tigers reliever Octavio Dotel bobbled a pepper shot by Ibanez in the eighth that cost him a shot at the lead runner as Teixeira went to second with two out. Swisher’s hit followed to tie the score.

Meanwhile, the Tigers hurt themselves on the bases. Prince Fielder, on second base with none out in the third inning, failed to advance to third on a grounder to his left and ended up getting stranded. Miguel Cabrera, also on second with none out an inning later, was thrown out at third foolishly trying to advance on a ball in the dirt that Yanks catcher Russell Martin retrieved quickly.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland probably absolved Cabrera since the third baseman hit two titanic home runs to center field, one off Hiroki Kuroda in the fourth and another off Cory Wade in the eighth. The closest the Yankees got to a home run was an opposite-field drive by Teixeira in the fourth that was gloved over the wall by left fielder Don Kelly.

A Yankees bullpen that has done yeoman’s work since the injuries to Mariano Rivera and David Robertson last month let this one get away. David Phelps gave up two singles and Boone Logan a sacrifice fly to Omir Santos that won it for Detroit the night before Justin Verlander will take the mound against Phil Hughes in the rubber game of the series.

A disturbing episode in Saturday night’s game was an exchange between Yankees manager Joe Girardi and plate umpire Bob Davidson. The skipper got the thumb right after Davidson tossed hitting coach Kevin Long for griping about a called strike to Curtis Granderson in the seventh. The Yankees’ brass seemed to have a point since replays indicated the pitch was low. It came in a critical at-bat with one out and runners on second and third and the Yankees trailing, 2-1. Granderson eventually struck out.

Girardi was ejected for the second time this season and 12th time as Yanks manager, so this was nothing new. However, I have rarely seen Girardi as ferocious as he was in the argument with Davidson, whose fuse seemed awfully short. It was decidedly a sign of frustration on Girardi’s part.

Everybody on short leash in Game 5

Just as in Detroit in Game 4 of the American League Division Series when A.J Burnett loaded the bases with three walks, Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not hesitate in making a call to the bullpen when Ivan Nova was wavering early on in Game 5.

The Tigers struck for back-to-back home runs (by Don Kelly and Delmon Young) in the first inning for the first time in their postseason history. When Magglio Ordonez led off the second with a double, Phil Hughes began warming up for the Yankees. While Hughes answered the call to the pen, Nova answered the wakeup call by getting out of the inning without any damage with two groundouts and a strikeout.

That’s the beauty of winner-take-all games in the postseason be they Game 5 in the ALDS or Game 7 in the Championship Series and World Series. Both teams have their backs to the wall and must pull out all stops. There can be no worrying about saving anyone for the next game. You’ve got to get to the next game first.

Sure enough, Girardi brought in Hughes at the start of the third inning. Considering how Nova had worked out of difficulty in the second, the move seemed premature. Obviously, the manager saw something lacking in Nova’s stuff and made the switch to Hughes, who when used in relief can just air it out.

Hughes’ fastball was clocked at 94 mph as he chalked up two quick strikeouts. Delmon Young, who has been a tough out in this series (3 home runs), got a long single on a drive off the right field wall, but Hughes got the Tigers’ most dangerous hitter, Miguel Cabrera, to ground into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Doug Fister, who was battered by the Yankees in Game 1, was proving a tougher customer this time out. The righthander mixed speeds well on his fastball and added a cutter with late life. His breaking stuff was less effective, but he was keeping the Yankees off balance.

You remember all that stuff about Burnett being on a short leash in Game 4? Well, every pitcher on the Yankees had the short rope in Game 5. After Hughes gave up a single with one out in the fourth, Girardi summoned Boone Logan, who gave up a hit before retiring Jhonny Peralta on a fly to right and striking out Ramon Santiago.

At that point, CC Sabathia began throwing in the bullpen – very interesting.

Yanks’ team effort gets ALDS back to Stadium

The Yankees couldn’t have asked for a better way to stay alive in the American League Division Series and get back to New York for the deciding game Thursday night. The 10-1 victory over the Tigers Tuesday night that squared the series at two games apiece was truly a team effort.

They got a big monkey off their back by winning a possible elimination postseason game for the first time since Game 5 of the ALDS in 2001 against Oakland. Their offense broke out with an attack featuring double digits in hits and runs, and they put on a defensive clinic in the field. The best part was that there were so many players who contributed.

Start with A.J. Burnett, who wasn’t even supposed to start in this series after a regular season in which he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA. A rain-forced suspension of Game 1 meant that Yankees manager Joe Girardi needed a fourth starter and he went with Burnett, who made up for a lot of disappointment this year with 5 2/3 innings marred only by a Victor Martinez home run.

Oh, A.J. had his scary moments, mainly in the first inning when he walked three batters. He was saved by Curtis Granderson’s lunging grab of a drive by Don Kelly as the Tigers left the bases loaded. Giradi had Cory Wade warming in the bullpen and might have pulled Burnett’s right there if Kelly’s blast had gotten past Granderson.

The center fielder made another run-saving play in the sixth when it was still a close game at 4-1 with a diving catch in left-center to rob Jhonny Peralta of a potential extra-base hit that would have scored at least one run. The AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate also doubled in a run in the top of the fifth.

Granderson was part of an ensemble lineup that banged out 13 hits, none over the fence as the Yankees enjoyed a game of sustained offense. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira broke out of slumps with singles in the six-run eighth inning. Rodriguez, who was 0-for-12 before that, added a second hit that inning, which could be a sign he is ready to get hot. Nick Swisher also got a hit with a runner in scoring position for the first time in 29 career postseason at-bats.

Derek Jeter drove in two runs with a double that got the Yankees out in front in the third inning. Jorge Posada reached base by getting hit with a pitch and scored. Russell Martin singled twice and walked and scored two runs. Robinson Cano had two more RBI to raise his total in the series to eight. Jesus Montero came off the bench and got hits in his first two career postseason at-bats.

One night after giving up a game-winning home run, Rafael Soriano retired the four batters he faced, followed by Phil Hughes and Boone Logan each working a perfect inning as the bullpen set down the last 10 Detroit batters in order, six on strikeouts.

So the importance of the Yankees’ winning the home field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs will come into play Thursday night behind Ivan Nova, the Game 1 winner, against Doug Fister, the Game 1 loser, at Yankee Stadium, which is ready to rock the team into the AL Championship Series.

Yanks limp out of Detroit

It’s official. The Yankees are in a funk. Until Thursday, they had been the only team in the major leagues that had not lost three games in a row. Now they are not. Their first three-game losing streak came at the hands of the Tigers, who had lost seven straight games after dropping the first game of the series Monday night.

The Yankees threw away Thursday’s game, a 6-3 loss, literally. Two of the three errors they committed led directly to three runs, the deficit in the game. The Yankees’ offense was pretty active with 10 hits, including 3-for-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position, but were overtaken by a Detroit club that had only four hits.

A.J. Burnett continued the run of Yankees starting pitchers going deep into games with a seven-inning outing, and only two of the five runs off him were earned. However, one of the errors was his errant pickoff throw in the first inning that put Don Kelly, who reached base because Burnett hit him with a pitch on a count of 0-2, at third base from where he scored on Brennan Boesch’s sacrifice fly.

The Yankees took the lead in the fourth inning on RBI hits by Eric Chavez and Eduardo Nunez, who started as subs for resting Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Chavez had to leave the game, however, after suffering a bone fracture in the small toe of his left foot running out his first triple in four years. Chavez was headed back to New York to see club physician Chris Ahmad and may have to go on the disabled list.

That meant Rodriguez had to come into the game as a pinch runner, the first time he had such an assignment since his rookie season of 1995 with the Mariners when he spelled Tino Martinez. A-Rod, who had been on the bench not only resting his body but also a 7-for-50 (.140) slide, wound up with two hits and scored two runs, so maybe he is working himself back to form.

Detroit played some small ball in the sixth inning and tied the score after Ramon Santiago bunted Kelly to second base on a two-out single through the middle by Boesch, who topped off a big game in the eighth with a solo home run off lefthander Boone Logan.

The critical play came in the three-run seventh when the Tigers took control of the game. Burnett lost a 9-pitch duel with Victor Martinez, who singled to center leading off, then walked Magglio Ordonez and hit Ryan Raburn with a pitch to load the bases with none out. Brandon Inge broke the tie with a sacrifice fly, but Burnett should have been out of the inning after getting Santiago out on a bouncer to second baseman Robinson Cano playing in and Kelly on a grounder to short.

Nunez had all the time in the world to throw out Kelly but sailed his peg over first baseman Mark Teixeira. Two runs scored on the error, the second of the game for Nunez and his fifth in 22 innings in the field. For a backup infielder who is supposed to supply solid defense, this is unacceptable. Expect infield coach Mick Kelleher to work with Nunez to correct this part of his game.

Another coach with his work cut out for him is hitting coach Kevin Long. It is not a good sign when two of the three .300 hitters on the club are bench players – Nunez (.385) and Chavez (.303). Cano had two hits Thursday to get back over .300 (.303), but the Yankees had 6-for-32 (.188) with runners in scoring position and left 30 runners on base in the series.

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