Results tagged ‘ Drew Stubbs ’

Teixeira off to hot start — in June

It was only natural for attention to be focused on Mark Teixeira when he came off the disabled list late last week. The Yankees were floundering after a double series sweep by the Mets and stuck in a five-game losing streak, their longest of the season. Teixeira had been on the DL due to a right wrist injury the type of which pretty much wiped out Jose Bautista’s season a year ago with the Blue Jays.

Some Yankees fans were a bit too harsh on Teixeira as he struggled in his first two games with merely one hit in nine at-bats (.111) and seven strikeouts. One of the game’s most prominent switch hitters has been a notoriously slow starter during his career and even though the calendar switched over to June this past weekend it was very much like April for Teixeira.

Well, he is back to swinging as if he already had two months of major-league at-bats under his belt. One night after he gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead with his eighth career grand slam, Teixeira opened up a 4-0 advantage in the third inning Tuesday night with a three-run home run off Scott Kazmir. That makes seven RBI in two days for Tex. Beat that for production.

“I hope so,” Tex said after the game about whether he is ready to go on a roll. “I am trying not to get too high about it just the way I try not to get too low when things aren’t going well. The win is what is important. A three-run homer early is great for a starting pitcher.”

It was just the sort of run support David Phelps needed as he negotiated his way back from a dismal prior start against the Mets last week when he couldn’t get out of the first inning. The righthander rebounded with a one-hit shutout through six innings but with four walks to go with his seven strikeouts Phelps’ pitch count reached 102.

An infield single by Drew Stubbs in the third inning was the lone hit off Phelps, who lowered his ERA to 4.15. He nearly lost a shot at a winning decision when he walked the first two batters of the fifth, which resulted in a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Whatever the message was, Phelps received it as he set down the next three batters and followed with a 1-2-3 sixth.

“Even before Larry came out, Chris [catcher Stewart] told me to go for the center of the plate and let the ball behave however it does,” Phelps said. “The point was to throw more strikes.”

“He kind of ran the game,” Indians manager Terry Francona said of Phelps. “He mixed everything up, and we didn’t have anything to show for it. We made him work. We took our walks. We couldn’t push any runs across. It’s rare that you get one hit and look up and see a bunch of pitches like that. He did a very good job of not giving in, mixing things up, elevating and cutting.”

The Elias Sports Bureau was at it again. Phelps became the first Yankees pitcher to throw at least six scoreless innings in a start immediately following a start in which he recorded one out or fewer since Jim “Catfish” Hunter in 1978. Hunter allowed six runs without getting an out July 27, 1978 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Indians and then tossed eight shutout innings in his next start Aug. 8, 1978 against the Rangers.

Things got a bit tight for the Yankees in the seventh inning when Joba Chamberlain was stung for a three-run home run by Stubbs after two were out. Boone Logan got the final out of that inning before David Robertson danced out of a two-on, none-out situation in the eighth aided by Nick Swisher lining into a double play. Mariano Rivera finished it off with a perfect ninth with two strikeouts for his 21st save.

Robinson Cano got a half-day off as the designated hitter with rookie David Adams getting his first start at second base. Both took a collar, however. Lyle Overbay had another quiet night in right field, at least defensively. He made some noise offensively with a double in the third and scored on a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

Rainout worked to Yanks’ advantage

The Yankees were not happy about having to play two games Wednesday in Cincinnati. They agreed to play the dual-gate doubleheader rather than lose an off-day Thursday, but to their thinking the Yankees and Reds should have played Tuesday night instead of being rained out.

Conspiracy theories were rampant, especially since the Reds’ scheduled starter, Johnny Cueto, was down with a stiff neck, and although it rained all day in Cincinnati the weather cleared up after 6 p.m., an hour and 10 minutes before the scheduled first pitch.

As it turned out, however, the two games in one day proved a blessing for the Yanks. It allowed manager Joe Girardi the opportunity to rest a couple of veterans, first baseman Mark Teixeira and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, in the afternoon game. This put a bat in Jorge Posada’s hands, which was a good thing, and a glove on Ramiro Pena’s left hand, which was not such a good thing.

Let’s concentrate on the positive, shall we? The toughest thing about inter-league play for an American League club is that it loses one of its regular players, the designated hitter, which is prohibited in National League parks. Posada had gotten three plate appearances in the first four games of the trip to Chicago and Cincinnati just at the time when he was getting hot at the plate.

Getting back in the lineup Wednesday as the first baseman, Posada ended up getting the biggest hit of the game, a two-run home run into the teeth of the wind blowing in from right field in the sixth inning that unlocked a 2-2 score. The timing of the hit was ideal, coming directly after the Yankees had lost a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth when the Reds scored two unearned runs off Freddy Garcia, who had another solid outing.

Both runs were the result of two of the three errors Pena made in the game, a nightmare of a performance from a player known for dependable defense. The two errors in the fifth were on wild throws. Pena actually struck Drew Stubbs in the head with his toss to first base. After a single to left by Edgar Renteria moved Stubbs to third, he scored when Pena’s peg to the plate bounced off the chest protector of catcher Francisco Cervelli. Renteria got to third base on the play and was able to score on Fred Lewis’ sacrifice fly to center.

Pena’s third error also came against Stubbs on a grounder between the infielder’s legs in the seventh. Pena got to atone for that one, however, on the next play by starting a double play against Renteria, who was last year’s World Series hero with the Giants.

But the big atonement job was that of Posada, who put Garcia in place for the victory with one inning apiece of strong relief from David Robertson and Mariano Rivera (19th save). Posada’s seventh home run of the season was his first in nearly two months. It ended a drought of 126 at-bats and 145 plate appearances since April 23 at Baltimore.

Yet even without an abundance of long balls, Posada has turned around his season offensively over the past two weeks. In 13 games and 39 at-bats, Posada has hit .436 with a .590 slugging percentage, three doubles, one home run and six RBI. He has raised his season batting average over that time from .169 to .227.

And there is something about wearing a glove that brings out the best in Posada. He is batting an even .500 (6-for-12) with two doubles, a homer and four RBI in games where he has played first base. Just the same, Jorgie will be glad to get off this NL trip and get back to Yankee Stadium so he can get into the lineup as the DH on a regular basis.

Nova maturing with each start

Ivan Nova has gone from the Yankees’ No. 5 starter coming out of spring training to the point where now he is the rotation’s No. 2 starter. His 5-3 victory Monday night at Cincinnati improved Nova’s record to 7-4. Only ace CC Sabathia (9-4) has won more games than Nova.

Armed with a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, Nova overcame a shaky beginning when he gave up singles to the first two Reds batters to fashion his best outing of the season. Nova was quite willing to trade a run for two outs by getting 2010 National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto to ground into a double play. Those were the first two of 15 consecutive outs Nova recorded before Paul Janish ended the string with a two-out single in the fifth. Nova retired nine of the last 10 batters before calling it a game after the eighth for the longest outing of his career.

Nova got 16 outs in the infield and struck out seven batters. Only two outs were to the outfield. Nova recorded 25 outs in eight innings, one more than necessary because Drew Stubbs reached on a third-strike wild pitch in the third. Nova had outstanding control. He did not walk a batter.

With Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon on the disabled list, Nova has been relied on to take up the slack in the rotation and for the most part has come through. He has won three straight starts and lowered his ERA to 4.13. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that Nova has a 7-1 career record in games when he has a lead of more than one run, and the Yankees are 11-1 in those games.

Nova’s blending in a changeup to go with his fastball, curve and slider has been a major factor in his current three-start winning streak. Yankees fans are getting to watch a young pitcher mature with each start.

With victories in nine of the past 11 games, the Yankees are 13 games above .500, their high mark of the season, and stayed within 1 ½ games of the first-place Red Sox in the American League East.

The Yankees got clicking in the first inning against Travis Wood, a last-minute replacement for scheduled Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who had a stiff neck and may start Tuesday night against Yankees rookie Brian Gordon.

Great American Ball Park is known as a bandbox, but the Yankees stayed in the yard and used four singles and a double to produce four runs in the top of the first. Their other run came in the eighth without a hit as Curtis Granderson walked, stole second, continued to third on an error by Janish at shortstop and scored on a wild pitch by reliever Jose Arredondo.

Things got a bit hairy in the ninth when Luis Ayala gave up a hit and Boone Logan hit a batter. Both runners scored, but Mariano Rivera restored order for his 18th save. After setting a three-game series attendance record over the weekend at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the Yankees played to another full house Monday night at Cincinnati. The prime attractions of inter-league play are giving NL audiences their money’s worth.

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