Results tagged ‘ Dustin Moseley ’
The Yankees are dipping into their 2009 formula in the 2010 post-season. Late-inning heroics characterized their championship season last year, and the Yankees have come from behind impressively in three of the four playoff games this time around.
It doesn’t get better than what they pulled off Friday night in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Down 5-0 entering the seventh inning and looking as dead as ace CC Sabathia did in falling behind by so much so early, the Yankees showed the Rangers they simply will not fold so long as they have some at-bats left.
They forced four Texas relievers into submission in a five-run eighth inning that featured five hits and two walks. Seven consecutive batters reached base before the Rangers got an out that inning, and the out was a ball caught at the wall in right field that missed by a matter of feet being a three-run home run for Jorge Posada.
The Rangers still have yet to win a post-season game in their handsome ballpark, and the Yankees still haven’t lost a road game in this year’s tournament. They showed Texas how much they will fight to get another trip to the World Series.
The Rangers were not out of the game by any means after the Yankees took the lead. It was still a one-run game, but the Rangers hurt themselves with a huge rock in the bottom of the eighth. Kerry Wood walked Ian Kinsler on four pitches, an open invitation to Texas to get back in the game. Kinsler got himself picked off, which is inexcusable in that circumstance.
The Yankees failed to get an insurance run in the ninth by stranding Derek Jeter, who led off with a double. Texas became the first team to beat Mariano Rivera twice in the same season this year and posed another threat in the ninth when pinch hitter Mitch Moreland led off with a single and was bunted to second. Mo shut the door, however, as the Yankees finished off a victory that can have major consequences on the rest of the series.
They have already accomplished what they needed to do by winning at least one game at Rangers Ballpark In Arlington and have a chance to go home 2-0 if they can win again Saturday. To lose on a night when Sabathia was not his usual self could be a crushing blow to the Rangers, who could have put a ton of pressure on the Yankees by winning the first two games at home and having Cliff Lee start Game 3 at Yankee Stadium.
Game 1 turned into a bullpen game, and the Yankees got five shutout innings combined from Rivera, Wood, Joba Chamberlain and Dustin Moseley. The winning decision went to Moseley, which was appropriate. Too often, such a job gets unrewarded because of the timing of the scoring. Moseley’s two hitless innings with four strikeouts kept the Yankees in position to turn things around, which they did in their usual patient, persistent manner.
The end of the 2010 season in the American League turned out to be anti-climatic. We have the wild card to thank for that. Then again, the Yankees are thankful there is a wild card because that is how they got into the post-season tournament this year.
Their fate was probably sealed Friday night when rainstorms in Boston forced a postponement and set up a day-night twin bill Saturday at Fenway Park. Players and managers hate doubleheaders, be they consecutive games or the separate-admission variety. It is tough enough to win a ballgame on any given day let alone trying to win two.
Say this for the Red Sox. They waited more than three hours Friday night before banging the game, which was an acknowledgement that they knew the Yankees surely did not want to play two games in one day with home-field advantage in the playoffs hanging in the balance.
The Yankees’ 8-4 loss Sunday gave the AL East title to the Rays, who had the edge over the Bombers by having won the season series between the teams. Tampa Bay didn’t have to win at Kansas City and trailed by two runs entering the ninth inning. The Rays rallied for two runs that inning on a double by Carlos Pena and pulled it out in the 12th with the deciding run scoring on an error by former Yankees infielder Wilson Betemit.
A point of irony for the Yankees was that the losing pitcher Sunday was Dustin Moseley, the same guy whom manager Joe Girardi replaced with Phil Hughes a week earlier against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in a must-win situation. After Saturday’s 8 ½ hours of baseball, Moseley was the only reliable arm Girardi had at his disposal for yet another must-win game.
The Yankees showed some resiliency by coming back from a two-run deficit on J.D. Drew’s first-inning home run to tie the score on Nick Swisher’s 29th homer in the second and an advantage-taking run in the third. Drew dropped a fly ball in right by Mark Teixeira, who wound up on second base and then scored on a single by Alex Rodriguez.
The first of two home runs by Jed Lowrie, a two-run shot in the fifth off Moseley, changed the course of the game. The Yankees came unglued in the sixth, which began with a bunt single off Royce Ring by David Ortiz against the shift. A walk and a wild pitch by David Robertson preceded Ryan Kalish’s RBI single. The Red Sox went into the same running act they pulled on Mariano Rivera last week and swiped four bases, included a double steal in which Kalish scored from third.
A couple of late Yankees rallies fizzled as they looked as if they had accepted their fate. The major league season never seems as long as it does in Game 162. The field is filled with a lot of weary arms and legs, especially when playing the day after having endured two 10-inning games in as hostile environment as there is for the Yankees.
The Yankees didn’t lose the division title Sunday anyway. When a club finishes a season one game out of first place, any single loss over the course of the schedule can be attributed. Take your pick. Considering all the missed opportunities, Saturday night’s setback ranks pretty high on any list.
There is no point in looking backward now. The Yankees will get a much needed day off Monday and can get down to the business of looking ahead to the Twins and Target Field for the AL Division Series that begins Wednesday. There was speculation that the Yankees secretly hoped to play the Twins so that they would not have to face the Rangers’ Cliff Lee twice in a best-of-5 series.
I do not buy that. Despite some of Girardi’s maneuvering in the final month that often made it seem that a game here or there was being sacrificed, I believe the Yankees were sincere in saying they wanted to take the division. You do not want to put negative thoughts in players’ heads about holding back anything.
The reality is that Girardi has a club with age issues at several key positions. Once the Yankees had clinched a post-season berth, he had to be sure his players would be at their soundest with regards to health in October.
The Yankees and Twins both limped their way down the stretch. The Yanks lost eight of their last 11 games and the Twinkies eight of their last 10. Based on recent history, the Yankees certainly have had an edge over the Twins, who are 16-45 (.262), including 4-25 (.138) at Yankee Stadium, since Ron Gardenhire, an annual AL Manager of the Year candidate and perhaps the favorite this season, took over Minnesota’s reins in 2002. During that period, the Yankees also eliminated the Twins in the ALDS of 2003, ’04 and ’09 by winning nine of 11 games.
The Yankees also had a history of playing well at the Metrodome, the Twins’ former home. This season, the Twins moved into the new Target Field, an open-air facility that could present a weather challenge this time of year. The forecast for the coming week calls for sunshine and temperatures in the 70s in the daytime and 50s at night.
The Yankees won the 2010 season series, 4-2, and were 2-1 at Target Field where they batted .271 with 10 doubles, one triple and two home runs and pitched to a 3.46 ERA. The two home runs were both game winners – on the same day, May 26. Derek Jeter homered in the sixth inning for the only run in the continuation of a suspended game due to rain the day before. Swisher unlocked a 2-2 score with a ninth-inning blast in the regularly-scheduled game.
The Yankees could use similar heroics in the ALDS.
If Javier Vazquez was pitching Wednesday night for a spot on the Yankees’ post-season roster – and he almost certainly was – it was not an ideal audition in Toronto. The Yankees showed they placed value on the game by starting an 80-percent A-list lineup on the night after clinching a playoff berth.
Manager Joe Girardi decided to hold Andy Pettitte back to Friday night at Boston and handed the ball to Vazquez, who began the season in the rotation but eventually pitched himself into the second tier of the bullpen because of too many outings that resembled this last start. The Blue Jays jumped on Vazquez for seven runs and 10 hits, including three home runs, in 4 2/3 innings. Javy walked two batters, threw a wild pitch and had no strikeouts, but at least he did not hit any batters as he did in his previous appearance Sunday night when he plunked three Red Sox in a row.
Girardi still has decisions to make about his post-season staff, but it would appear the locks are starters CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett and relievers David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera. Assuming that the Yankees will go with an 11-man staff, that would leave two openings with the candidates being Vazquez, Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Dustin Moseley, Ivan Nova and Royce Ring.
Perhaps I am making a big assumption about Burnett, who has been horrid in the second half, but the Yankees will need four starters. There has been some good talk about Nova, but he is a rookie with no post-season experience. As inconsistent as A.J. has been, his track record is superior to the others, including Vazquez, who did not advance his case in the 8-4 loss to the Blue Jays.
There is a good chance the Yankees will take several looks this week at Ring, who spent most of the year at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but has big-league experience and would give Girardi a second left-handed option out of the pen along with Logan, an option most managers would love. Ring retired the only batter he faced Wednesday night. The most impressive inning from an auditioning pitcher was by Mitre, who struck out the side in the eighth.
Vazquez needed to prove he can be an effective innings soaker but was little more than a punching bag and put the Yankees in a 7-0 hole in the fifth. Like many other games this September, the Yankees had to go uphill throughout the evening.
Toronto lefthander Brett Cecil shut them down for five innings before making the mistake of hitting Robinson Cano with a pitch after Alex Rodriguez had homered leading off the sixth. That’s 14 seasons of at least 30 homers and 100 RBI for A-Rod. The Yankees tagged Cecil for two more runs, but the rally died on a double play. The Jays hung on to improve Cecil’s record against the Yankees this year to 4-0 with a 2.67 ERA, which is Roy Halladay territory.
The loss ruined the Yankees’ opportunity to move ahead of the Rays in the American League East standings. Tampa Bay maintains a one-game edge in the loss column.
Okay, now Yankees manager Joe Girardi can rest all the regulars he wants and not have to hear any questions about it. The American League East title is still the Yankees’ ultimate goal, but they have clinched a playoff spot, which is the first step.
Now it’s strictly between them and the Rays, who also clinched a post-season berth and remained a half-game ahead of the Yankees in first place, to determine the division championship. The Red Sox are officially out of the picture after having threatened to get back into the wild-card mix as recently as last Saturday night.
All year long, Girardi has said the Yankees and Tampa Bay would take this race down to the wire, so here they are. The Yankees placed their foot on the accelerator Sunday night by starting Phil Hughes over Dustin Moseley and overcoming a blown save opportunity by the normally invincible Mariano Rivera by returning the favor to Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon.
After hitting a pothole Monday night in Toronto, the Yankees rode the reliable left arm of AL Cy Young Award candidate CC Sabathia Tuesday night to win handily against the Blue Jays with Rivera returning to form by nailing down the final two outs.
An indication of how much the Yankees wanted to erase that magic number came in the third inning when Nick Swisher, who has whacked 28 home runs this season, laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved Derek Jeter to third base. The captain led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Kyle Drabek. Swish’s bunt made it possible for Mark Teixeira to score Jeter with a fly ball.
Up by four runs in the ninth and with runners on first and second with none out, Brett Gardner bunted down the third base line for a single that loaded the bases. It led to a score on Greg Golson’s first career run batted in.
This was 1960s National League stuff. The Yankees were not going to rely on the long ball, not against a Toronto club that leads the majors in home runs. In fact, the Yankees did not have an RBI hit in the game. Their six runs were the result of three sacrifice flies (Teixeria, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano), a fielder’s choice (Jeter), an infield out (Golson) and a bases-loaded walk (Rodriguez).
Sabathia personified the staff ace with 8 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit, eight-strikeout pitching to improve his record to 21-7 with a 3.18 ERA. Travis Snider’s 12th home run was the lone blemish. No other Blue Jays hitter got to second base until the ninth inning when Snider singled and Yunel Escobar walked. CC kept Juan Bautista in the yard for the first out before Girardi brought in Mo to finish it off.
Rivera had said last week that he didn’t think the Yankees would overdo it celebrating clinching a post-season berth. Wrong. The champagne and beer were spraying in the visitors’ clubhouse at Rogers Centre after the game. It was only a sip, however. The rest of the week will determine whether the Yankees will be able to gulp by taking the AL East title.
Let’s not go so far as to call it a panic move. It is fair to call it recognition by Yankees manager Joe Girardi that his team is in trouble. It does not take a Rhodes Scholar to figure that out. Having lost 13 of their past 19 games, falling out of first place and having the Red Sox breathing down their backs, the Yankees needed a quality pitching effort more than anything Sunday night, and Phil Hughes is certainly a safer bet than Dustin Moseley.
Hughes was originally skipped in the rotation and pushed back to Wednesday night at Toronto. That was before the Yankees lost four straight games, however, and started watching the regular season get away from them. A playoff berth is all but assured, but the American League East title remains the stated mission. The Yankees need to get back on track, so never mind for now about Hughes’ innings total.
If he can pitch the Yankees to victory in the regular-season finale at Yankee Stadium and pick up game on the Rays, who lost to the Mariners in the afternoon, Hughes can take the rest of the week off.
For so long we heard about how the Yankees were playing not for the American League East title and not just to clinch a post-season berth, which seemed inevitable only four short days ago. Mariano Rivera was even quoted in the New York Post as saying that the players would not celebrate clinching a playoff spot but to wait until they had clinched the division title.
It is beginning to look as if they wait that long the Yankees would sip any champagne at all.
That was the situation they found themselves in Saturday night after a second straight loss to the Red Sox following two straight losses to the Rays, who have overtaken the Yankees for the AL East lead and are amid playing a string of games against last-place teams while the Bombers are matched against their hated rivals this weekend and next with a stop in unfriendly Toronto in between.
Saturday’s game followed the same pattern as Friday night’s. The Yankees fell behind by a lot early and had to claw back into the game while counting on the second tier of the bullpen to keep matters close. It didn’t work either time.
Not even a pep talk from Tony Dungy could help. I must say that I was a bit skeptical about that. Yankees manager Joe Girardi is a long-time admirer of Dungy and was gratified to have the former NFL coach and current TV analyst say a few words, which centered on the attributes of family, faith and sticking together as a team when the going gets rough.
I admit I don’t know all that much about pro football, but I seem to remember that Dungy was the coach of a Colts team that had a chance to run the table a few years ago but tanked the last game to have players fresh for the playoffs. Was that justified when they won it all? Not to me. Did the Colts win the Super Bowl because they had rested players or BECAUSE THEY HAD PEYTON MANNING?
At least Dungy’s Indianapolis football players had their playoff berth clinched before taking a blow in the final game. The Yankees haven’t clinched anything, although we all know it would take a miracle for the Red Sox to get back into the wild-card mix. Despite winning the past two nights, they are still 5 ½ games behind the Yankees with eight to play.
Yet the reason for that partially has been the Yankees’ lack of going for the jugular by using lineups minus resting veterans and not over-taxing bullpen arms. Sunday’s starting pitcher is Dustin Moseley, not Phil Hughes. Girardi defends his maneuvering by saying that he has managed the same way all season. On that score he is correct, and on that defense the Yankees’ case rests.
Yankees fans surely remember the September collapse the team had in 2000 when a pitching staff breakdown led to their losing 15 of their last 18 games and wheezing to the playoffs with 87 victories. That they ended up winning the World Series has been used as a sign of encouragement for the fans.
But this is a different team – older at many of the positions and a pitching staff with as many growing question marks. The wild card may not be the Yankees’ only ticket to the post-season, which would mean needing to have CC Sabathia win two games on the road rather than giving him the luxury of starting at Yankee Stadium where he has been mostly dazzling for two years.
CC won’t like this, by the way, but Red Sox lefthander Jon Lester improved his Cy Young Award credentials with seven shutout innings in improving his record to 19-8 with a 2.96 ERA.
What seems missing in this series from the Yankees is the passion and grit of a team trying to nail down a playoff spot.
Who knows? Maybe it’s contagious. In the seventh inning, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli leaned over the railing of the Red Sox dugout to try for a foul ball. Cervelli would have crashed to the floor but was held up by Boston pitching coach John Farrell, catcher Victor Martinez and outfielder Daniel Nava. Martinez then lifted Cervelli back onto the field unharmed.
Somehow, I don’t think the Red Sox of old would have done that for Thurman Munson.
The first change of pitching plans as the Yankees begin to focus on the post-season came Friday night. Manager Joe Girardi said that he will not start Phil Hughes until Wednesday night at Toronto. That will be Hughes’ last regular-season start.
Hughes had been scheduled to start Sunday’s home season finale against the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka, an assignment that will go instead to Dustin Moseley. The Yankees have kept close watch on Hughes’ workload this year so as not to tax his arm. Although they never revealed an innings limit on Hughes, it was believed between 170 and 180. Hughes is at 169 1/3.
This marks the third time this season that Hughes will be skipped in the rotation. The righthander had handled the protective measures professionally.
“The toughest part is dealing with the situation mentally,” Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said. “Pitchers are creatures of habit, and you’re breaking up the routine and have to deal with change. He has figured out a way to handle it.”
As the Yankees get closer to clinching a post-season berth, further changes will be forthcoming. Girardi wants to get first baseman Mark Teixeira some rest. Tex has been playing regularly despite a bone bruise in his right thumb and a fractured small toe on his right foot.
As Yankees manager Joe Girardi continues to gauge how best to configure his pitching staff for post-season play, the assessment of A.J. Burnett was thwarted by a 2-hour, 11-minute rain delay Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett had a nondescript three innings in which he allowed one run, two hits and two walks with two strikeouts in a 51-pitch outing. He gave up the run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria and actually had his ERA drop to 5.05.
If not for the rainstorm that featured quite a light show in the sky for a time, Yankees fans might not have known that Royce Ring was on the team. Once a promising reliever, Ring pitched in his first major-league game since 2008 when he was with the Braves.
The Yankees signed the lefthander as a free agent in January. Ring pitched for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre where he did not allow an earned run in 45 of his 52 relief appearances and held opposing hitters to a .222 average.
Ring was a former first-round draft pick of the White Sox, who traded him to the Mets in July 2003 in the Roberto Alomar deal. Ring was traded again in 2006 to the Padres and in 2007 to the Padres. He pitched in the Cardinals’ minor-league system in 2009. He took a major-league mark of 3-3 with a 4.93 ERA into his Yankees debut.
The hearties in the crowd who stayed through the delay gave Ring a nice round of applause when he departed after 1 2/3 hitless innings. He was stung for an earned run, however, as reliever Dustin Moseley came into the game and promptly gave up singles to Ben Zobrist and Carl Crawford, the second scoring John Jaso, whom Ring had walked. It isn’t often that a righthander relieves a lefthander with two left-handed hitters coming up, but lengthy rain delays can louse up a manager’s pitching plans.
Tampa Bay starter Wade Davis was denied shooting for a no-hitter by the rain. He retired the first seven Yankees batters in order before walking Francisco Cervelli in the third inning prior to the stoppage in play. Upon resumption, righthander Jeremy Hellickson took the mound for the Rays.
If anyone thought the Rangers might not be a force in the post-season assuming they remain in command of the American League West, Texas’ sweep of the Yankees should dispel those doubts and perhaps give the Yankees some doubts of their own. It was the first time the Yankees were swept in a road series this year, and it was not a fluke because the Yankees were outplayed on just about every level.
Texas won the first two games on walk-offs, including one against the invincible Mariano Rivera, and then put on a clinic for pitching and base running in Sunday’s 4-1 victory that sent the Yankees hobbling to Tampa Bay. They are still alone in first place in the AL East but barely, by a half-game. The teams are even in the loss column going into a three-game series at Tropicana Field that begins Monday night.
Cliff Lee looked every bit like the pitcher the Yankees faced in last year’s World Series when he was 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA for the Phillies. The Yankees didn’t get a ball into the outfield against the lefthander until one out into the sixth inning when Eduardo Nunez broke up Lee’s no-hit bid with a single to center. Derek Jeter recovered his inside-out swing for a run-scoring double to right, career hit No. 2,900.
That was all the Yankees mustered against Lee, who was winless in his previous five starts and skipped from his last scheduled assignment due to back spasms that required a cortisone injection. He was a bit wild with three walks, his season high and only the third time in 25 starts this year that Lee walked more than one batter. The third walk, in the ninth to Jeter, prompted Rangers manager Ron Washington to bring in closer Neftali Perez, who struck out the side. Washington used 18 pitchers the two prior games, but Lee kept his manager’s strolls to the mound at a minimum.
Before getting too carried away with Lee’s performances, the Yankees’ lineup Sunday was on the skinny side with three regulars on the bench. Then again, the Rangers played the entire series without Josh Hamilton, their AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate.
Manager Joe Girardi wanted to give Alex Rodriguez a day off before the three-game set on the artificial turf at St. Petersburg, Fla. A-Rod has decent career numbers against Lee: .273 with two home runs and seven RBI in 22 at-bats.
Girardi originally planned to start Nick Swisher, but the right fielder is still bothered by stiffness in his left knee and had to be scratched. As an aside, think of how big Swisher’s two-run, walk-off homer Wednesday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium looks now. Without that, the Yankees would be amid a seven-game losing streak. As it is, they are in their second three-game losing streak in a week. They have not lost more than three games in a row all season.
Also unavailable Sunday was left fielder Brett Gardner, who was removed from Saturday night’s game because of a sore right wrist. He will undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test Monday on the wrist that has troubled Gardner since he was struck there by a pitch June 27 at Dodger Stadium. On that day, Gardner was batting .321 with three home runs, 23 RBI and 24 stolen bases. Since then, he has batted .229 with two homers, 22 RBI and 16 steals.
Dustin Moseley, making a spot start for Phil Hughes to keep his innings total in check, had faced only two batters since Aug. 30, but he hung with Lee for five innings before the dreadful leadoff walk hurt him in the sixth and seventh. Impressive base running by the Rangers fueled both rallies.
After he walked leading off the sixth, Elvis Andrus promptly stole second. He crossed to third after Michael Young flied out to right. On the contact play, Andrus broke for home on David Murphy’s grounder to first and scored ahead of Mark Teixeira’s throw.
Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler was the highlight of the seventh. He led off with a walk and alertly moved to third base on two successive fly balls to right field. Julio Borbon, a real pest in the series, dropped a bunt to the right side and slid into the bag at first to beat Moseley covering for a single that scored Kinsler and gave Texas the lead.
It was the fifth RBI in the series for Borbon, who played center field for Hamilton, and got the Rangers running again with a steal of second. He scored on a hit by Andrus that chased Moseley, and Texas added a run on singles by Young and Murphy off Jonathan Albaladejo.
It was a weekend to make Rangers president Nolan Ryan proud and remind the Yankees the hardship that could face them in post-season play.
Enough of this playoff preview stuff already. That seems to be the theme a lot of writers and broadcasters are taking to describing the Yankees-Rangers series this weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Except that it really isn’t.
Yes, if the season ended today the Yankees and Rangers would oppose each other in the American League Division Series. Yes, there is a good chance the Yankees will win the AL East and the Rangers the AL West. There are still four weeks left in the season. A lot can happen. The Yankees may have to settle for a wild-card berth, which would mean an ALDS date with the Twins instead.
Yet even if the Yankees and the Rangers are destined to meet in the playoffs, this series is no preview. A big to begin with is that Texas is currently without its best player, center fielder Josh Hamilton, who probably won’t play in this series while still recovering from a strained left ribcage. Hamilton just happens to be the leading candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
The Yankees’ rotation is another clue that this is no playoff preview. Does anyone believe for a minute that Javier Vazquez, Friday night’s starter, or Dustin Moseley, the projected starter for Sunday, would be in the rotation for a playoff series? Heck, the way he is going lately, Saturday night’s scheduled starter, A.J. Burnett, may be considered iffy as a post-season starter as well.
Yankees regular catcher Jorge Posada, who has been cleared to play after tests for concussion symptoms were negative, was available as a pinch hitter only and probably just in an emergency situation. Andy Pettitte, one of baseball’s top post-season pitchers, was to report to Texas Saturday after an encouraging start at Double A Trenton Thursday night. The lefthander will need to make one more minor-league start or simulated game before returning for major-league action not before Sunday, Sept. 19, at Baltimore.
It cannot be much of a playoff preview if that many significant players who could be major factors a month from now are missing, so let’s tone down the rhetoric.