Results tagged ‘ Dustin Pedroia ’

Aggressive play on bases proves costly

The Yankees ran themselves out of a potentially big inning in the first Sunday night and did so with two of their best base runners. Carlos Beltran, who singled with one out, was at third base and Jacoby Ellsbury, who followed with a double, was on second when Alfonso Soriano hit a fly ball to center field.

It appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly as Beltran trotted toward the plate. As it turned out, it would have been better if Beltran ran a bit harder. Ellsbury also tried to tag up, and that was where the run was lost.

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a strong throw to third base that cut down Ellsbury before Beltran crossed the plate, nullifying the run the Yankees thought they had. In hindsight, Ellsbury might have been better off staying at second base. That way, Beltran would have scored easily with Bradley throwing to third base. Yet aggressiveness on the bases is a big part of Ellsbury’s game. It took a perfect throw to get him. Bradley unfortunately unleashed one.

While the Yankees were playing without Derek Jeter, the Red Sox were without their spark plug, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who returned to Boston to have his painful left wrist examined. Pedroia jammed the wrist last week. The condition worsened to the point that he could not complete batting practice before the game and was scratched from the lineup.

Sabathia suffers birthday blues

In the future, CC Sabathia might be better served if he took his birthday off. Sabathia, who turned 33 Sunday, has made four starts in his career on his birthday and has yet to win. As a birthday boy, Sabathia is 0-2 with two no-decisions and a 7.48 ERA in 21 2/3 innings.

The lefthander got an early birthday present from his teammates, who took a 3-0 lead off Ryan Dempster in the first two innings. Sabathia gave it back and more, however, when the Red Sox scored four runs in the third on an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia and a long, three-run home run by Mike Napoli off a 1-2 fastball.

An inning later, Sabathia hit the leadoff batter and gave up three straight singles that resulted in two more runs for Boston. Jonny Gomes led off the fifth with a towering home run, the career-high 23rd off CC this year. Sabathia lasted one batter into the sixth but got one more birthday gift from his teammates when they rallied to tie the score in the seventh and get him off the hook.

But Sabathia could not be pleased with having squandered the early lead and failing to post a winning decision for the third straight start, a stretch during which he has allowed 13 earned runs in 18 innings (6.50 ERA) with 24 hits allowed, including five home runs. Sabathia’s record stayed at 9-8, but his ERA rose to 4.37. His career record at Fenway Park is 3-4 with a 4.93 ERA.

Stormy night for Kuroda

The rain that was expected before Sunday night’s game didn’t start falling until after the fifth inning. After David Ortiz led off the sixth with his 10th home run to push the Red Sox’ lead to 3-0 and Mike Napoli singled, rain came down hard during Stephen’s Drew at-bat and after he flied out to left field play was interrupted.

For the second straight start, the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda was paired with an unbeaten opposing starter. Last Tuesday night at Citi Field, it was the Mets’ 5-0 Mike Harvey in a game the Yanks eventually lost in the bottom of the ninth inning on the first blown save of the year by Mariano Rivera. Sunday night Kuroda was pitted against Boston’s 8-0 Clay Buchholz, who has mounted a Cy Young Award candidacy in the early going.

The Yankees managed two measly singles off Buchholz in the first five innings as their offensive malaise continued. Kuroda had a stretch of 10 consecutive scoreless innings end in the fourth as the Red Sox scratched out a run on successive singles by Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz and an infield out by Mike Napoli for his sixth RBI of the series.

The Red Sox jolted Kuroda with leadoff home runs in the fifth and sixth, respectively, by Jose Iglesias, his first of the season, and Ortiz. The two home runs in successive innings equaled the total Kuroda had allowed in his previous four starts covering 24 2/3 innings.

Play resumed but only momentarily. Boone Logan took over for Kuroda and finished the top of the sixth. Andrew Miller was announced as the Boston reliever for Buchholz but did not throw a pitch as another thunderstorm hit merely four minutes after the resumption of play. Back came the tarp. The crew got the infield covered in time as a storm of somewhat violent proportions resulted in cascades of water soaking Yankee Stadium.

The Red Sox’ 3-0 victory in the rain-shortened game was the seventh loss in the past eight games for the Yankees, who have totaled 15 runs over that stretch for an average of only 1.88 runs per game. By taking the series, 2 games to 1, Boston increased its lead in the American League East to three games over the Yankees, who dropped into third place, a half-game behind Baltimore.

The only good news for the Yankees was that catcher Chris Stewart found out that he does not have a concussion. Stewart was scratched from the starting lineup because of light-headedness and underwent a CT scan and other tests at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Stewart’s status will be re-evaluated Monday when the club also has a decision to make about how to create space on the 25-man roster for Andy Pettitte, who is expected to come off the disabled list to start the opener of a three-game series against the Indians.

Sabathia gets Yankees back on track

Subway Series hangover over. A little dose of CC was a big help.

In this case, the CC wasn’t Canadian Club whiskey but a pitcher named Sabathia, who not only righted the Yankees Friday night but also himself. The lefthander found his rhythm early amid hot and humid conditions and rang bells on the velocity pole he had not reached previously.

“I hadn’t seen a lot of 94s until tonight,” manager Joe Girardi said after the Yankees’ 4-1 victory over Boston that ended their five-game losing streak and got Sabathia his first winning decision in six starts since April 27.

Sabathia hit 94 miles per hour on his fastball occasionally and was regularly between 91 and 93 mph with his heater. CC talked after the game more about location than velocity but admitted he felt more like himself than he has for a while.

“It just felt good to get us back on the right track,” Sabathia said. “I always feel like it’s my responsibility to go out and have a good game and give us a chance to win, especially after what happened to us against the Mets.”

Sabathia was not part of the Subway Series sweep, but the five-game losing streak began on his watch with a poor outing last Sunday at Tropicana Field in an 8-3 drubbing by the Rays. Friday night was a different story.

“This is the kind of game we’re used to seeing from CC,” Girardi said. “This is almost where he is every year since he has been with us. When the weather warms up, he gets on a roll.”

Sabathia not only registered a few more ticks on the radar gun but had the bite back on his slider, the pitch he used for six of his 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. The only run he allowed was in the seventh on doubles by Dustin Pedroia and Mike Napoli. CC did not walk a batter.

“Anytime he was in a fastball count, he’d go to his breaking ball or his changeup to keep us off stride,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “He didn’t compound an issue by issuing a base on balls.”

Speaking of walks, the Yankees drew four of them off Jon Lester, twice as many as they had in the four games total against the Mets. Mark Teixeira started the Yankees’ two-run second inning with a walk. After Vernon Wells doubled, the Yankees scored on a single by Jayson Nix and one out later on a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

That would be all the support Sabathia would need, but the Yankees pushed across two more runs against Lester, who had defeated them back on Opening Day, on RBI singles by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth and Brett Gardner in the seventh.

It was also important to see Mariano Rivera get back on the bike again. Three nights after his stunning loss at Citi Field, Mo withstood singles by Pedroia and David Ortiz in the ninth to nail down his 19th save in 20 tries and 36th in a row at Yankee Stadium.

Age-old combination comes through again

The Yankees reached into their storied, recent past Thursday night to produce their first victory of the 2013 season. After being shoved around for two games by the Red Sox, the Yankees used some old-fashioned muscle and one of the most illustrious pitching tandems in the history of the game to get into the ‘W’ column.

Mariano Rivera began his farewell tour of the major leagues with a save of an Andy Pettitte start in the Yankees’ 4-2 victory. Mo got cuffed for a run, but he finished off the Red Sox to preserve Pettitte’s 246th career victory. Andy was in turn-back-the-clock mode with eight strong innings in which he allowed eight hits but only one run and one walk with three strikeouts. He was aided by three double plays, one of which he turned himself stylishly.

It was the 69th time that Rivera saved a victory for Pettitte, the most by a starter and reliever since the saves rule went into effect in 1969. Yet it was the first time for the duo since July 2010.

“You feel pretty secure when that guy comes in from the bullpen,” Pettitte said. “I’ll savor this season as much as I can.”

Pettitte has not said whether this will definitely be his last roundup. He was talking about savoring Rivera’s career finale which got off to splendid start Thursday night. Mo toed the rubber in a big-league game for the first time in 11 months and looked as if he had never gone away.

“It didn’t feel much different from other first games of the season for me, except that I had a long wait between them,” said Rivera, whose 2012 season ended last May in Kansas City. “There was a lot of emotion, but you have to control that. There were some times when going through therapy and the pain I wondered if I could come back, but my desire and passion for the game motivated me.”

Believe it or not, Mo got squeezed a bit by plate umpire Mike DiMuro, who I thought erred by calling a 2-2 cutter to Dustin Pedroia across the plate a ball that should have been strike three. Rivera eventually walked Pedroia, who scored on a one-out double by Jonny Gomes. Rivera then retired Will Middlebrooks on an infield grounder and struck out rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. looking to notch career save No. 609.

Francisco Cervelli supported Pettitte with good work behind the plate including a recovering stab for a runner trying to score on a wild pitch and a home run off the bullpen wall in left-center. Brett Gardner also homered as the Yankees used last year’s scoring method to good use. Lyle Overbay’s two-out, two-run single in the second gave the Yankees their first lead of the season, and they did not squander it.

“It was an important game,” Pettitte said. “You never want to get swept in your opening homestand.”

Pettitte was so efficient (96 pitches) that Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not have to use any other reliever but Rivera.

“It really helped with the trip coming up to only have to use one guy out of the pen,” Girardi said or Rivera, who will now take his tour on to Detroit and Cleveland.

“He will understand how he is appreciated around the game,” Girardi added. “What we have seen here has been pretty special for a long time.”

Hand bruise forces early exit for Kuroda

From the when-will-they-ever-learn department: Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda reached with his pitching hand to try to snare a line drive up the middle by Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino in the second inning. The ball skimmed off Kuroda’s fingertips and into center field for a single.

Kuroda was examined by trainer Steve Donohue but remained in the game – temporarily. The righthander walked one batter and hit two others with pitches over the next four batters. After the second hit-by-pitch, to designated hitter Daniel Nava, that forced in Boston’s second run, Yanks manager Joe Girardi decided to remove Kuroda. Cody Eppley did an efficient job of keeping the damage to a minimum by getting Dustin Pedroia to ground into an inning-double play.

Pitchers are warned constantly about the dangers of trying to catch a ball with their bare hand, but most cannot help themselves because it is an instinctual maneuver. The risk of a serious injury to their pitching hand is not worth attempting such a play. Roger Clemens was frequently guilty of this, but using one of the game’s freaks of nature as an example is unwise thinking.

Relax, there are 161 games to go

There was very little good for the Yankees in their 2013 season opener, a dismal 8-2 loss to the Red Sox on a day that began with unseasonably warm weather and deteriorated into a cold, rainy affair. Yankee Stadium, which swelled with 49,514 people, the most for a season opener at the current facility, was practically empty by the ninth inning.

Take solace, Yankees fans, there are still 161 games remaining, so leave us not get carried away by one dreary game. The Yankees are starting the season behind the 8-ball with regulars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson plus starting pitcher Phil Hughes on the disabled list.

Monday’s game featured six players who made their debuts in pinstripes – Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells, Ben Francisco, Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay and Sean Kelley – and two players in the starting lineup who are normally on the bench – Eduardo Nunez and Jayson Nix.

Francisco Cervelli, back with the Yanks after spending most of 2012 in the minors, knocked in both Yankees runs with a double down the left-field line in the fourth inning. When the key to the offense in a game is the 9-hole hitter, chances of winning are pretty slim. A Yankees rally in the seventh petered out after Boston lefthander Andrew Miller followed two walks with strikeouts of Nunez and Robinson Cano. Righthander Andrew Bailey then came in and struck out Youkilis.

Cano looks pretty naked in this lineup and saw an abundance of pitches out of the strike zone, which is likely to be a regular occurrence until Granderson and Teixeira return to provide some protection or if Youkilis and Wells return to their former RBI form.

“The new faces are going to have to step up,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted. “This is a different type of lineup than we have had in recent years, there is no doubt about it. “We are going to have to score runs in different ways.”

With so much firepower on the DL or lost to the free-agency defections of Nick Swisher, Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin, the Yankees will not be relying on the long ball as they did a year ago when they smacked 245 home runs.

The Yankees still consider pitching a strength, but their rotation ace, CC Sabathia, was down in velocity and struggled to get through five innings. The Red Sox batted around in the second inning against Sabathia, who allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. With his fastball topping out at 91 miles per hour, CC did not have blow-away stuff or crispness on his slider.

Girardi mentioned that Sabathia’s velocity is usually down early in the year. “That is common among power pitchers,” the skipper said. “We’re used to seeing a big difference in velocity from CC from April to June.”

“It takes time to build up arm strength,” Sabathia said. “I had trouble finishing off hitters. With two outs [in the second inning], you’re always one pitch away from ending the inning, but I let it get away from me.”

Youkilis, who started the game at first base and moved to third in the seventh, and Cervelli combined on a fine play to get the second out of the inning at the plate, but Sabathia then yielded RBI singles to Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia. Even though it was so early in the game, the 4-0 deficit seemed ominous considering the shell of the Yankees’ current batting order.

Opening Day problems are part of Sabathia’s DNA. Monday was his 10th Opening Day start, the past five with the Yankees. He is 0-2 with a 7.43 ERA in Yanks openers and 1-2 with seven no-decisions and a 5.80 ERA in all openers.

This was the fourth loss in the past five Opening Days for the Yankees, whose overall record in season lid-lifters is 63-47-1, including 35-15-1 at home. They had a chance to set a record for consecutive home-opening victories but had their streak end at 11 games to remain tied for the mark with the Mets, who won the same total of home openers from 1971 through ’89.

Here is an interesting item researched by the Elias Sports Bureau. The Yankees’ lineup Monday marked the first time since 1992 that it did not contain a switch hitter. That was the last Yankees team to finish with a record under .500 (76-86).

“It’s just one game,” Girardi said. “Don’t make too much of it.”

Yankees fans must try not to.

Monday’s absentees spark Red Sox

It looks like the Orioles were right in griping about Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia not playing Monday night. They were back in there Tuesday night and combined to put two quick runs on the board against Yankees starter David Phelps in the first inning. Ellsbury led off the game with a single and scored all the way from first base on a double to right-center by Pedroia, who then crossed to third on an infield out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Cody Ross.

Postseason scenarios vary for Yankees

Two hours before the scheduled first pitch Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium and rain is falling steadily. The last thing the Yankees want is to have to play a split-admission doubleheader Wednesday. Tuesday night’s game is bound to have a late start. The Yanks will do whatever is in their power to get this game in.

A pal of mine suggested that the Yankees could wait until the Orioles-Rays game was over before deciding whether to play. If the Orioles lose, the Yanks would win the division and could care less about Wednesday. Playing two games wouldn’t matter in that case. But if the Orioles should win, the Yankees would want to get Tuesday’s game in at all costs.

A major goal of the Yankees is to win home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs, which is definitely possible. They are tied with the Rangers for the best record in the American League and own the tiebreaker over Texas because they won the season series. If the Yankees win home-field advantage, they would open the postseason against the Wild Card team Sunday at the Wild Card club’s field. If the Yankees win the AL East but are second to Texas in record, they would open the AL Division Series Saturday at Detroit. If they finish tied with the Orioles atop the AL East, the Yankees would travel to Baltimore for a one-game playoff for the division title. The winner would advance to the ALDS. The loser would play the Athletics in the Wild Card Playoff Friday.

Got all that?

Me, neither.

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine’s lineup for Tuesday night had both Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia in it. The Sox took a lot of heat from people around the Orioles for the Triple-A type lineup it fielded Monday night in a 10-2 Yankees victory. Valentine sat Ellsbury because he has struggled recently against lefthanders, and the Yankees were starting CC Sabathia, against whom Ellsbury is a career .214 hitter. Pedroia was out with a fractured left ring finger. He was not supposed to play Tuesday night but talked himself into the lineup if for no other reason than to shut up the Orioles.

The Red Sox have been the longest-running soap opera in the major leagues this season.

Sabathia earned his 15th victory and reached the plateau for the eighth time and sixth season in a row. CC is the only big-league pitcher with at least 15 victories in each of the past six seasons (2007-12). He is the first Yankees pitcher to reach 15 victories in four straight seasons since Ron Guidry (1977-80). Sabathia is also one of six Yankees pitchers to do so in each of first four years with club and the first since Allie Reynolds did it in six consecutive seasons (1947-52). CC went eight innings to get to 200 innings for the sixth straight season (2007-12) and seventh time in his career, joining the Marlins’ Mark Buehrle as only lefthanders to reach the plateau each year since 2007.

Phelps replaces Nova in rotation

Yankees manager Joe Girardi had a surprise announcement before the Yankees’ final series of the regular season Monday night against the Red Sox. The statistics sheet listed Ivan Nova as the Yankees’ starter for Tuesday night’s game, but Girardi informed the press that David Phelps will make the start instead.

The move was not based on an injury. There is nothing wrong with Nova physically. There has been a great deal wrong with Nova’s pitching, especially in the second half. In truth, Nova has not been the pitcher he was in 2011 when he was a certifiable American League/Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate.

Nova’s earned run average has been below 4.00 only once since April 20. It climbed to 5.02 after his latest outing, a 6-0 loss last Thursday night at Toronto when Nova gave up four earned runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. It continued a downward slide by the righthander, who has allowed 194 hits in 170 1/3 innings.

Since returning from a right rotator cuff injury, Nova is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA and 15 hits allowed in 13 innings. He is 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA and 75 hits allowed in 60 innings in the second half.

Phelps, on the other hand, has been the more reliable performer. The rookie righthander is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA for the season, including 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA and 41 hits allowed in 53 innings in the second half. As a starter, Phelps is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA with 46 hits allowed, 21 walks and 50 strikeouts in 52 innings. Opponents are batting .240 in the second half against Phelps and .309 against Nova.

What this move essentially means is that Nova is out of the Yankees’ rotation for the rest of the year. The regular season ends after Wednesday’s schedule of games, unless there is a playoff for the AL East title, which the Yankees hope to avoid by running the table against the Red Sox while the Orioles lose at least one of the three games to the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Yankees caught a few breaks toward that end Monday night. Mark Teixeira returned to their lineup after missing the past 20 games and 30 of the past 31 because of a left calf strain. Boston was without its table setters, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a couple of flat-out Yankee killers. Pedroia apparently has a hand injury. No one seems to know what is wrong with Ellsbury, who missed six games last week with no explanation.


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