Results tagged ‘ Doug Fister ’

Nunez becoming object of target practice

Pitchers seem to be taking aim at Eduardo Nunez this year. Nunez, who is holding down the shortstop position until Derek Jeter can return to the Yankees from the disabled list, was knocked out of a game for the second time in a week after being hit by a pitch in the second inning Friday night by the Orioles’ Miguel Gonzalez.

A week ago Friday, Nunez was plugged in the right biceps by the Tigers’ Doug Fister at Detroit and had to sit out the next two games. This time, it was a fastball to the right wrist that got Nunez on the last type of night (42 degrees at game time) a player wants the ball to hit him, not that any player ever really wants to be hit.

Nunez clearly was in a lot of pain but after being treated behind the plate by trainer Steve Donohue remained in the game, at least briefly. Nunez gave it to the old college try and went to his position at the start of the third inning, but after making one practice throw indicated to the dugout that he could not continue and was replaced by Jayson Nix.

Also under the weather, pardon the pun, Friday night was Andy Pettitte, whose was supposed to start Saturday against the Orioles but was pushed back to Tuesday night or perhaps Wednesday night during the Yankees’ inter-league series against the Diamondbacks. Pettitte is bothered by back spasms. Andy said he felt something in his back in his last start and had some treatment afterward, but the back tightened up during the night Thursday. At this point, the condition does not appear major, just a reminder that the lefthander is 40 years old.

Phil Hughes will start in Pettitte’s place Saturday with Hiroki Kuroda scheduled to start Sunday night’s series finale.

Nunez latest Yankees casualty

The Yankees’ return to Detroit Friday turned out just as negatively as their last visit when the Tigers completed a sweep of the 2012 American League Championship Series. An erratic Ivan Nova failed to last five innings, and the Yankees could not solve Detroit lefthander Drew Smyly, who provided four perfect innings of relief for Doug Fister with five strikeouts.

Prince Fielder did the most damage with a pair of home runs for five RBI. His three-run shot off Boone Logan in the fifth wiped out a 3-2 Yankees lead. Fielder’s two-run blow off Sean Kelley in the seventh opened up a five-run Tigers spread. Kelley had also yielded a solo homer to Alex Avila the previous inning.

The Yankees are hoping to see more of the Ivan Nova of 2011 when he was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and less of the Ivan Nova of 2012 when his ERA bloated to 5.04 despite a 12-8 record. The Yankees got the Nova who struggled last year. The righthander fell into deep counts throughout his outing and was up to 96 pitches by the time manager Joe Girardi made the move to Logan with two down in the fifth inning.

Andy Pettitte apart, Yankees starting pitcher has been inconsistent. The rotation will make its first full turn with Phil Hughes being activated to start Saturday at Comerica Park. The Yankees originally planned to have David Phelps start at Detroit while Hughes was to make an injury-rehabilitation start at Triple A Scranton.

The Yankees’ offense was limited to a three-run fifth. Fister wild-pitched one run home. The other two runs were courtesy of Kevin Youkilis’ first home run with the Yankees. The former Boston villain has been the Yankees’ hottest hitter in the first week of the season, batting .375 and slugging .688.

The worst news of the day was that Eduardo Nunez had to leave the game after being struck in the right bicep with a pitch in the fourth inning from Fister, who had also hit Brett Gardner with a pitch in the third. Nova plucked Miguel Cabrera, the last batter he faced, in the bottom of the fifth.

Jayson Nix took over at shortstop and is likely to play there again Saturday. X-rays on Nunez were negative, but such a nasty bruise on his throwing arm won’t heal immediately. Shortstop has been the steadiest of positions for the Yankees since Derek Jeter took over as the regular in 1996, but that is not the case now. Jeter, by the way, just began soft tossing in his rehab in the extended spring training and is not expecting back for several weeks, which makes the absence of Nunez critical at this point.

So what happens if Nix should get hurt Saturday and Nunez is unable to throw? Girardi said he would use catcher Francisco Cervelli as an emergency infielder, not that the skipper wants to see that scenario.

It was good to see Brennan Boesch get a nice hand from the sellout crowd of 45,051 while the other Yankees players were booed during pre-game introductions at the Tigers’ home opener. Boesch played the past three seasons for Detroit and was a crowd favorite. He got his first hit with the Yankees, a single in four at-bats, and made a fence-crashing catch in right field to rob Fielder of a potential extra-base hit in the third inning.

Umps go 1-for-2 in early calls

The Yankees loaded the bases in each of the first two innings of ALCS Game 1 but failed to score with each frame ending with a close play for the third out. One call by an umpire was correct. One was not.

Tigers starter Doug Fister walked Derek Jeter to begin the home first and issued two more free passes after two were out. Alex Rodriguez hit a hard grounder that shortstop Jhonny Peralta gloved with a back-hand stab. Peralta threw to second for a force on Raul Ibanez. The play was close, but second base umpire Sam Holbrook got it right.

The second inning was another story. Two-out singles by Russell Martin, Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki had the bases jammed again. Ichiro’s hit was in the infield, which is why Martin could not score. Robinson Cano then hit a one-hopper to the mound that caromed off Fister’s body to Peralta, who threw to first base to get the final out.

Or did he? First base umpire Rob Drake called Cano out, but video replays clearly indicated that Cano’s foot was on the base before the ball was in first baseman Prince Fielder’s glove. A crucial call went against the Yankees.

Ichiro named AL Player of the Week

Ichiro Suzuki was named the American League Player of the Week for the period ending Sept. 23. It marked Ichiro’s fourth career weekly honor and his first with the Yankees. The previous time he won the award was for the period ending Sept. 26, 2010 with the Mariners.

Suzuki batted .600 with three doubles, two home runs, five RBI, seven runs and six stolen bases in six games and 25 at-bats. For the week, he led all players in batting average, hits, steals and on-base percentage (.630), was tied for second in total bases (24) and ranked third in slugging percentage (.960) and tied for fourth in runs.

The center piece of the week for Ichiro was Wednesday’s split-admission doubleheader sweep of the Blue Jays. In the day game, Suzuki had a double among three hits and scored two runs as the Yanks beat Toronto. In the night game, Ichiro had 4-for-4 at the plate and on the base paths. His double in the eighth inning knocked in the deciding run of a 2-1 victory.

It was the second time in his career in which Suzuki collected at least four hits and four stolen bases in a single game (previously accomplished July 20, 2004 against Boston). Ichiro was the first player in the majors to do it since the Rangers’ Julio Borbon Aug. 15, 2009 and the first Yankees player since Rickey Henderson had five hits and four steals April 11, 1988.

It marked the first time that Ichiro recorded at least three hits in each game of a doubleheader and he became just the seventh Yankees player to do so since 1969 (last by Derek Jeter in 2008). After going 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, three RBI and two runs in a 10-7 victory over the Jays Thursday to complete a three-game sweep, Ichiro helped lead the Yankees to their seventh straight victory Saturday, going 3-for-5 with two walks, a homer and three runs in the 10-9, 14-inning triumph over the Athletics.

Other noteworthy performances last week included the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera (.346, 4 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI), the Rays’ Jeff Keppinger (.440, 11 H, 1 HR, 3 RBI), the Indians’ Carlos Santana (.308, 3 HR, 8 RBI) and the Tigers’ Doug Fister (shutout over the White Sox Sept. 22).

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.

Nova 2nd rookie to start do-or-die playoff game

Ivan Nova’s victory in Game 1 of the American League Division Series was technically a relief appearance because of the rain suspension, so Thursday night he was becoming only the second rookie to start a winner-take-all postseason game.

The only other was Phillies righthander Marty Bystrom in Game 5 of the 1980 National League Championship Series at Houston. Bystrom was not involved in the decision, an 8-7, 10-inning Philadelphia victory. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and allowed 2 runs (1 earned), 7 hits and 2 walks with 1 strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.

Frankly, Yankees manager Joe Girardi would take that from Nova, who held the Tigers to 2 runs and 4 hits with 4 walks and 5 strikeouts in Game 1, a 9-3 Yankees rout. Their bullpen is pretty fresh all things considered, thanks to the length they got from A.J. Burnett in Game 4 at Detroit.

Girardi also has the option of using CC Sabathia out of the pen against a left-handed batter who likely would not have seen him since most of the Tigers’ lefty hitters were in platoon situations. I would also not be surprised if Joe used either David Robertson or Mariano Rivera and perhaps even both to pitch two innings.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland remained adamant that Game 3 winner Justin Verlander, the AL Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player candidate, will not pitch in Game 5. Yankees fans may think that is a ruse, but I believe him. Verlander did his job, and Leyland doesn’t want to tax his ace who was still throwing 100 miles per hour in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

Besides, the Tigers have Game 2 winner Max Sherzer, who shut out the Yankees for six-plus innings at Yankee Stadium, available as a long man should Game 1 loser Doug Fister falter. That is not chopped liver.

The Yankees were playing a winner-take-all ALDS Game 5 for the seventh time and the first since they lost to the Angels in 2005. It was the Yanks’ ninth deciding game in the best-of-5 format, also including the AL Championship Series of 1976 and ’77, both against the Royals.

Thursday night was the Yankees’ fourth Game 5 in a best-of-5 series at home. They had won the previous three: 1976 ALCS against the Royals, 1981 ALDS against the Brewers and 2001 ALDS against the Athletics. Overall, the Bombers are 5-3 in Game 5 of best-of-5 series and 11-10 all time in winner-take-all games, including 6-7 in Game 7s. They are 8-6 in ALDS games when facing elimination.

Rain may have helped Yanks this time

When the Yankees and Tigers opposed each other in the American League Division Series five years ago, a rainout proved a benefit to Detroit, which went on to win the series. This season, a suspended game due to rain in the ALDS may prove to have been in the Yanks’ favor.

It is too early to tell after one game, naturally, but the Yankees moved a step up on the Tigers after Game 1, which took two nights to complete because of inclement weather. The Yankees had their bats in full gear against Detroit’s Doug Fister and won big, 9-3. On a night when the sellout crowd of 50,940, a record at the current Yankee Stadium, chanted “M-V-P” every time Curtis Granderson came up, Robinson Cano proved he is in the same category with a six-RBI game.

The chief danger in opposing the Tigers in a best-of-5 series was the task of having to face AL Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award candidate Justin Verlander twice. The rain that forced the suspension of Game 1 after 1 ½ innings Friday night changed all that. Verlander will have only one shot at the Yankees now, and maybe only if he starts Game 3.

Of course, CC Sabathia can only pitch once in the ALDS for the Yankees. But Ivan Nova besting Fister, who was 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA after coming to Detroit from Seattle in a July 30 trade, gave the Yankees an edge. It takes a lot of pressure off Game 2 starter Freddy Garcia. Manager Joe Girardi said after the game that his plans call for Sabathia to start Game 3 and A.J. Burnett if there is a Game 4.

Fister was first hurt by Cano with a run-scoring double in the fifth that the Yankees thought might have been a home run. By the time Cano hurt the Tigers again, Fister was out of the game. With runners on second and third and two out in the sixth, Fister froze Brett Gardner with two fastballs. The righthander then went with a breaking ball, which only served to speed up the bat of Gardner, who punched a single to center for two runs and a 4-1 lead.

Fister lost if after that, yielding a single to Derek Jeter and a walk to Granderson. Despite having lefthanders Daniel Schlereth and Phil Coke in the bullpen, Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in righthander Al Albuquerque to pitch to the lefty batting Cano, who crushed a 0-1 slider for a grand slam to right. Leyland defended his decision by pointing out that Albuquerque, who was 6-1 with a 1.87 ERA in the regular season, had not allowed a home run all year and permitted only three inherited runners to score and held lefty hitters to a .177 batting average.

It was Cano’s seventh career postseason homer (third in the ALDS) and the first postseason salami for the Yankees since Ricky Ledee in Game 4 of the 1999 AL Championship Series against the Red Sox. Beginning with Tony Lazzeri in the 1936 World Series, the Yankees have hit 11 grand slams in postseason play.

Maybe Leyland knew something after all about Cano against lefties because Schlereth gave up an RBI double to him in the eighth. Cano’s six RBI tied the franchise record for a postseason game, joining Bobby Richardson in Game 3 of the 1960 World Series against the Pirates, Hideki Matsui in Game 6 of the 2009 World Series against the Phillies and Bernie Williams in Game 1 of the 1999 ALDS against the Rangers.

Nova was, well, super, as the crowd likes to chant. He pitched six innings of shutout ball before the Tigers got two runs in the ninth when Luis Ayala allowed a pair of inherited runners to score. The move to Ayala did not work. The move to Mariano Rivera did. He ended the game by striking out former teammate Wilson Betemit.

Five years ago, the rainout of Game 2 at the old Stadium worked in the Tigers’ favor. It was made up the next day with a 1:10 p.m. start. After Mike Mussina blew a 3-1 lead, the Yankees went down meekly in the late innings as twilight approached against the 100-mph stuff of Joel Zumaya. In Detroit, Kenny Rogers eked out his revenge against the Yankees with seven shutout innings in bearing Randy Johnson in Game 3, and the Tigers wrapped up the series the next day by pounding Jaret Wright.

Five years later, a much different scenario may emerge.

Let’s play ball — again!

And so the visiting team takes the field. What a strange way to start a ballgame. No singing of the National Anthem, either. Of course not; the game had already started. In addition, the game time temperature dropped about 20 degrees in one inning, but that was almost 24 hours later.

Such were the sights and sounds of the resumption of Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and the Tigers Saturday night at Yankee Stadium. And when was the last time Jorge Posada was the first batter of the night. The unusual circumstances were due to Game 1 being suspended because of rain Friday night. Pitching lines of the starters, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, were read by official scorer Jordan Sprechman. They were replaced by Doug Fister and Ivan Nova, respectively.

Fans who had to drive home disappointedly in the rain Friday night were back in their chillier seats for the first pitch Saturday night. The weather forecast had been similar to that of the night before, which brought to mind horrendous scenarios had there been another stoppage. It rained much of the afternoon. The Yankees were able to take batting practice but not the Tigers. The mercury kept dipping until it fell to 55 degrees by the time Posada led off the second inning with a single. It was October baseball all right.

The Stadium crowd warmed up when Russell Martin doubled. Things quieted down when Posada was caught in a rundown on a grounder to third by Brett Gardner. After balking the runners to second and third, Fister struck out Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson. Nova retired the Tigers in order in his first inning as everyone seemed ready to settle in for some postseason ball.

Rain invades ALDS, suspends Game 1

It was somehow fitting that following a regular season in which 22 Yankees games were affected by inclement weather that the postseason would, too. But the first game?

Game 1 of the American League Division Series between the Yankees and Tigers Friday night at Yankee Stadium was suspended because of rain in the middle of the second inning with the score 1-1 and will resume at the point of the suspension beginning at 8:37 Saturday night.

“We’ve been through this all year long,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s not what either club wanted. Both clubs have to deal with it. The one thing I probably learned as much as any other, you cannot fight Mother Nature.”

The dream matchup of the Yankees’ CC Sabathia against the Tigers’ Justin Verlander will have to wait, perhaps to Monday night at Detroit. Girardi said that Ivan Nova will pitch Saturday night and Freddy Garcia in Game 2 Sunday. Similarly, Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he will stay in rotation with Doug Fister resuming Game 1 Saturday night and Max Scherzer to start Game 2 Sunday.

There is nothing definite about when Sabathia and Verlander will work again but if so it will probably be at Comerica Park, so Yankees fans lost the marquee pairing. The break for each team is that neither Sabathia nor Verlander will start more than one game in the best-of-5 ALDS.

Sabathia struck out the first two batters before giving up a home run to Delmon Young, but the Yankees figured out a way to get a run off Verlander without a hit in the bottom half. Derek Jeter struck out but got to first base on a wild pitch. A walk to Curtis Granderson and two groundouts sent Jeter around the bases.

The change in pitchers may affect the Tigers more than the Yankees because Leyland’s lineup was set for a lefthander in Sabathia and now will oppose a righthander in Nova. Both Detroit pitchers are righthanded, so the change doesn’t affect the Yankees.

“That’s the one little dilemma probably, but it will work out,” Leyland said. “I’m going to keep my lineup in there and see how the game plays out. I’m not going to start pulling guys out and change my lineup in the bottom of the second inning. My lineup will be the same when we take the field. I do feel bad for the national audience and the fans that were here tonight. Certainly, it was really a marquee matchup. That’s a little said, but that’s the way it is.”

The only tickets valid for Saturday night’s resumed game are tickets for ALDS Home Game 1. Fans holding tickets for ALDS Home Game 2 originally scheduled for Saturday night must use them for Sunday’s game. There will be no refunds or exchanges for tickets to ALDS Home Game 1 or ALDS Home Game 2.

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