Results tagged ‘ Eddie Murray ’
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has been beset by questions from some reporters about why he is not using Ichiro Suzuki as his leadoff hitter, even though the point was made clear at the time of the trade that brought the Japanese outfielder from Seattle that he would bat in the lower third of the order.
Still, queries persisted because Girardi was toying with the lineup because the absence of disabled third baseman Alex Rodriguez left the batting order a bit too left-handed, and the manager was trying to figure out ways to break up all those lefty hitters. One idea was to use Curtis Granderson in the leadoff spot, an experiment that fizzled, so Jeter went back to the top spot.
When Ichiro got hot during the past homestand, the issue came up again. You would have thought by now that these people would have realized that the Yankees already have a pretty good leadoff hitter. Suzuki certainly was a sensational leadoff hitter in his prime years with the Mariners, but he is putting up nowhere near the numbers that Jeter is this season.
Despite turning 38, Jeter is having the caliber season he enjoyed 10 years ago. DJ hit the first pitch from lefthander Francisco Liriano Tuesday night for a home run, his 12th of the season. It was also his 3,256th hit, which pushed him past Eddie Murray into 11th place on the all-time list. No. 10 is Willie Mays at 3,283.
Jeter is now exactly 1,000 hits behind career leader Pete Rose, who also reached Jeter’s total at age 38 but played until he was 45. Jeter’s contract with the Yankee runs through 2013 with a player option for 2014, the year he would turn 40. Whether DJ will keep playing well into his 40s remains to be seen, but he has always cared more about winning games than personal goals.
I have always thought Rose’s coolest record is that he played on the winning side in the most games – 1,972. Jeter is at 1,525 victories, so he would have to play probably five more years for a legitimate shot at besting that mark.
But when it comes to leadoff hitting (and Rose was awfully good at that, too), Jeter is having a terrific season. He is batting .396 with five home runs in 111 at-bats leading off games with a .412 on-base average and a .613 slugging percentage. That gives the Captain an OPS of 1.025 in those situations. For his career leading off games, Jeter is a .356 hitter with 29 home runs in 873 at-bats with a .403 on-base average and a .523 slugging percentage for a .926 OPS.
Overall in his career, Jeter is batting .311 with 99 home runs in 3,972 at-bats as a leadoff hitter. He has batted most often in the 2-hole (5,348 at-bats) where he has hit .315 with 135 home runs. There is not that much of a difference. Jeter is clearly just as good batting first as batting second.
Unfortunately Tuesday night, after Jeter’s homer they did not do much else. They got a second run in the first inning, but for the second straight night they failed to keep that 2-0 lead. Their only other run in the 7-3 loss was a solo home run by Russell Martin in the seventh. The past 10 home runs for the Yankees have come up with the bases empty. The last home run they hit with a runner on base was Aug. 16, a two-run shot by Andruw Jones.
It was a bases-loaded home run by Kevin Youkilis in the fifth inning off Ivan Nova that shot the White Sox toward the victory. The Sox have been beating the Yankees at their own game with six home runs the past two games. DeWayne Wise, who was let go by the Yanks when they dealt for Suzuki, had four hits for Chicago and is 6-for-10 (.600) in the series. The Yankees kept their four-game lead in the American League East because the Rays’ five-game winning streak came to an end in a 1-0, 10-inning loss to the Royals.
With each game it seems Derek Jeter reaches another milestone. He hit a pair of them in the first inning alone Monday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field in a four-hit game that was the highlight of an otherwise disappointing game for the Yankees. They blew leads of 3-0 and 6-5 with the White Sox using four home runs to construct a 9-6 victory as the Yanks’ lead in the American League East fell to four games over Tampa Bay.
Jeter led off the game with a single, which he does a lot. DJ is hitting .391 in 110 at-bats leading off games in 2012 and .355 in 872 at-bats for his career. The hit was career No. 3,252 for Jeter, who tied Nap Lajoie for 12th place on the all-time list. Jeter eventually scored on a two-out single by Mark Teixeira. That was career run No. 1,844 for Jeter as he tied Craig Biggio for 13th place on that all-time list.
It did not take Jeter long to break the tie with Lajoie with an infield single in the third for his 3,253rd career hit which left him only two behind No. 11 Eddie Murray. The Captain still has a way to go to catch the 12th-place guy in runs, Mel Ott, at 1,859.
Teixeira returned to the lineup after sitting out the weekend series at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox to nurse a sore left wrist. Curtis Granderson singled in a run in the second as the Yanks took a 3-0 lead against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, who was surrounded by base runners in his brief time on the mound.
Considering that Floyd allowed five hits, four walks and a hit batter, the Yankees should have done better than to just knock him out of the game one out into the third inning, but they stranded eight runners over the first five innings against Floyd and left-handed reliever Hector Santiago.
Freddy Garcia was cruising along until he hit a wall with one out in the fifth. After getting his eighth strikeout for the first out of the inning, Garcia put the next five batters on base. DeWayne Wise started Chicago’s comeback with a two-run home run off his former teammate. Wise had been a valuable utility outfielder for the Yankees before he was designated for assignment last month to create roster space for Ichiro Suzuki, who was acquired from the Mariners.
Garcia was replaced after loading the bases on a single and two walks. Manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen using Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Joba Chamberlain, but after a force play and two singles the White Sox had taken a 5-3 lead.
Jeter led the Yankees’ comeback with a home run, his 11th, leading off the sixth, crawling one hit behind Murray. It was also Jeter’s 251st home run, which pushed him past Graig Nettles into ninth place on the franchise list. Ironically, it came on Nettles’ 68th birthday. The Yankees added two more runs on singles by Teixeira and pinch hitter Casey McGehee.
Chamberlain’s continuing troubles cost the Yankees the lead in the bottom of the sixth. He had given up a run-scoring single the previous inning and was taken deep by Gordon Beckham that tied the score again. Opposing hitters are batting .455 against Chamberlain, whose ERA swelled to 9.45.
Other relievers had problems, too. Boone Logan was touched for a two-run home run by Alexei Ramirez in the seventh inning and Derek Lowe yielded a solo shot to Adam Dunn in the eighth.
Jeter got even with Murray in lifetime hits when he doubled with two out in the seventh for his fourth hit of the game and 3,255th of his career. Cap leads the majors in hits with 167, five more than he had all of last year, and ranks third in the majors with 51 multi-hit games, six more than his 2011 total.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez combined on a couple of milestones in the first inning of Saturday night’s Subway Series game as the Yankees jumped out to a 1-0 lead against the Mets.
Jeter ended a 0-for-17 slump with a leadoff single to center off Mets righthander Dillon Gee, who had trouble with the rubber on the mound and balked Jeter to second. After Curtis Granderson lined out to first baseman Ike Davis, Rodriguez hit a ground single through the middle to score Jeter.
It was A-Rod’s 1,917th run batted in of his career, which tied him with Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for seventh place on the all-time list since RBI became an official statistic in 1920. Rodriguez is only seven RBI behind another Hall of Famer, Jimmie Foxx, in sixth place.
The run for Jeter was career No. 1,800, which placed him above Hall of Famer Ted Williams into 17th place on the all-time list. Next up is No. 16 Carl Yastrzemski, yet another Hall of Famer, with 1,816.
Once a player gets to those levels on these lists, nearly everyone they pass is a Hall of Famer. Except for Pete Rose, that is.
Something a coach told me years ago has always stayed with me. “There’s nothing like a little competition,” he said.
That’s one thing about baseball. Even in an era of guaranteed contracts, each player is always playing for his job. There always seems to be somebody right behind your back waiting for a chance to take your place.
Perhaps that thought hit Phil Hughes this week when the Yankees recalled Ivan Nova from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to pitch the evening portion of Saturday’s dual-admission doubleheader against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Nova pitched well, too, which was no surprise considering he was the team’s second leading winner at the time he was optioned to make roster space for Hughes, who has been only okay since returning from the disabled list.
Perhaps it was just coincidence, but in his first mound appearance since Nova worked himself back into the rotation mix Hughes resembled the pitcher he was in 2010 when he won 18 games. Hughes had his most muscular fastball of the season and seemed to pitch with a renewed purpose Tuesday night at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field.
Granted, the White Sox don’t exactly throw Murderers’ Row out there, but even they got a couple of runs off Cy Young Award candidate CC Sabathia Monday night. Not against Hughes, though. Phil limited the Chisox to three singles through six innings before rain halted play. He did not walk a batter and struck out four while throwing an economic 65 pitches.
Hughes could have probably given the Yankees another inning or two except for the weather brains at the Cell who ordered the field covered before the game in preparation for thunderstorm activity that did not surface for hours. If not for the 45-minute delay despite not a drop of rain before the first pitch, the teams might have avoided another delay when the rain finally arrived with a vengeance in the middle of the seventh inning and finished off Hughes’ night. And everyone else’s as the Yankees posted a rain-shortened, 6-0 victory.
Derek Jeter, star of the current HBO documentary about his quest for 3,000 hits, got the ball rolling in the first inning for the Yankees with a leadoff single for career hit No. 3,021 that pushed him past Rafael Palmeiro and into 24th place on the all-time list. Jeter, who scored on a two-out double by Robinson Cano, got another hit in the third, a double, for No. 3,022, which left him one hit behind No. 23, Hall of Famer Lou Brock.
Mark Teixeira moved to the top of another career list when his two home runs that brought his season total to 31, one behind American League leader Juan Bautista of the Blue Jays. Tex won a 10-pitch duel with White Sox starter John Danks in the third inning and homered from the right side of the plate.
Batting left-handed against White Sox reliever Jason Frasor in the seventh, Teixeira turned around a 94-mph fastball for another home run. It marked the 12th time Tex has homered from each side of the plate in the same game, which established a major-league record. Teixeira had previously been tied for the mark with Hall of Famer Eddie Murray and Chili Davis.
Teixeira reached the 30-homer plateau for his seventh consecutive season and his third with the Yankees. He is only the fourth player to surpass 30 in each of his first three seasons with the Yankees, joining Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Alex Rodriguez.
The long ball was a major part of the Yanks’ offense as Russell Martin cracked his 11th home run of the season and his first in 22 games and 82 at-bats since June 29.
While it is a bit early to talk about the year 2012, the Yankees have agreed to play exhibition games at 1:10 p.m. April 1 and at 7:10 p.m. April 2 next year at the Marlins’ new ballpark in Miami. The Yankees are old hands at this. As far back as 1965, they opened the old Houston Astrodome with an exhibition game.
About 25,000 tickets will be available for the April 1 game and 30,000 for the April 2 game. The Marlins’ 2012 season-ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets to the two exhibition games. A limited number of tickets will go on sale to the general public next spring. The ballpark, located near downtown Miami, is around three-quarters complete, according to the Marlins.
Shades of Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, the Yankees have two players battling each other for the home run title. With his 31st career multi-home run game, Mark Teixeira moved into a three-way tie with teammate Curtis Granderson and Blue Jays right fielder Juan Bautista for first place in the American League homer race.
Teixeira connected from both sides of the plate Wednesday night in the Yankees’ 12-4 victory over the Rangers. It marked the 11th time he has done that, tying Hall of Famer Eddie Murray and Chili Davis for the most in major-league history. Since the other two are retired, Teixeira has a good chance to take sole control of this record at some point.
That Teixeira is a contender for the home run title is no surprise. He tied the Rays’ Carlos Pena for the league lead in his first year with the Yankees in 2009 with 39 and his as many as 43 one year, in 2005 for the Rangers. Bautista, of course, led the AL a year ago with 54 homers, so he is no stranger to this activity.
But Granderson? Sure, he has shown muscle at the plate in the past. He had a career-high 30 homers in his last year with the Tigers in 2009 and despite a slow start with the Yankees a year ago managed to swat 24. That Granderson is already at 21 a month before the All-Star break is simply amazing.
Tex and Grandy are on a 52-homer pace. The Yankees haven’t had a player hit more than 50 homers in one year since that magical season 50 years ago when Maris slugged 61 and Mantle 54. The 1961 Yankees hit 240 home runs, which stood as the major-league record for 35 years.
With five more jacks, the 2011 Yankees have 103 in 66 games. That’s a pace of 252, which would top the club record of 244 in 2009, the first season of the new Yankee Stadium.
All four Yankees infielders homered in this one, an oddity in itself and especially because two of those infielders were not Alex Rodriguez, who was the designated hitter, or Derek Jeter, who is on the disabled list. Shortstop Eduardo Nunez and third baseman Ramiro Pena joined Teixeira and second baseman Robinson Cano in the home run derby.
The Yankees have been particularly powerful against the Rangers this year with 22 home runs, including six by Granderson and four by Teixeira, in eight games. Granderson did not go deep Wednesday night, but he made an outstanding defensive play in the sixth inning by throwing out Yorvit Torrealba at the plate from center field.
It was a close game at that point, the Yankees holding a 6-4 lead. Had Torrealba been safe, it would have been a one-run game with the potential tying run on third base and Josh Hamilton up. That can get lost when the score turns into 12-4, which happens when a lot of batted balls go over the fence.
As each year comes to a close, baseball writers center on their annual responsibility of voting for the Hall of Fame. Ballots are mailed out to writers Dec. 1 and due back in the hands to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America by a Dec. 31 postmark.
So it is not just Santa Claus who makes a list and checks it twice come the Christmas season.
As secretary-treasurer of the BBWAA, I have conducted the election since 1995, the year Mike Schmidt was elected. I will be busy with Hall of Fame business the next few days but will find time to share some thoughts with Yankees fans about the election. Results will be announced at 2 p.m. Wednesday on bbwaa.com, baseballhall.org, MLB.com and the MLB Network.
The ballot contains 33 names this year, eight of whom spent a portion of their careers with the Yankees, including two of the most popular figures in the franchise’s history, first basemen Don Mattingly and Tino Martinez. Others on the ballot who spent time with the Yankees are pitchers Kevin Brown, Al Leiter and Lee Smith, outfielders Tim Raines and Raul Mondesi and first baseman John Olerud.
Mattingly has been on the ballot for 10 years and has never done better than 28 percent of the vote going back to his first year. To gain entry into Cooperstown, 75 percent is required. Mattingly was at 16.1 percent last year. Martinez, his successor at first base for the Yankees, is a first-time candidate this year. It is doubtful writers will find Tino’s candidacy all that compelling, any more than they did another Yankees fan favorite Paul O’Neill two years ago. Martinez’s goal should be to get five percent of the vote necessary to stay on the ballot, which players must do to stay in contention for the full 15 years of eligibility. O’Neill failed to do that and was dropped after one year.
Brown, whose time with the Yankees was filled with controversy, had a fine career, but New York fans rarely saw him at his best except when he pitched against the Yankees for the Rangers. Yankees fans know Brown for breaking his pitching hand in anger and his implosion on the mound in Game 7 of the 2004 American League Championship, the franchise’s worst moment.
Leiter started and ended his career with the Yankees but had his best seasons with the Blue Jays, Marlins and Mets. His 162-132 record and 3.80 ERA does not spell immortality.
Raines, on the other hand, is an interesting case. He came to the Yankees after years with the Expos and White Sox and was a key role player on the World Series title teams of 1996, ’98 and ’99. With 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases, Raines has some Hall of Fame numbers, but after three years on the ballot he has done no better than 30 percent.
Smith, Olerud and Mondesi had limited time in pinstripes. Olerud and Mondesi are on the ballot for the first time and are not likely to get the five percent of the vote necessary to stay on the ballot. Smith, who pitched in only eight games for the Yankees in 1993, once held the major-record for saves with 478 but has yet to attract even half the vote in eight previous elections.
The favorites this time around are second baseman Roberto Alomar and pitcher Bert Blyleven, each of whom came close last year. Blyleven was on 74.2 percent of the ballots cast and missed by five votes. Alomar missed by eight votes at 397, or 73.7 percent.
The only player not to get elected when eligible the year after getting more than 70 percent in the vote was pitcher Jim Bunning. He was on 74 percent of the ballots in 1988 and missed by four votes. The next year, however, with a thicker ballot consisting of first-year inductees Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski and fellow pitching greats Gaylord Perry and Fergie Jenkins, Bunning lost 34 votes and dropped 11 percent in his final year on the ballot. He was eventually elected by the Veterans Committee in 1996.
The most accomplished of the new names are first basemen Jeff Bagwell and Rafael Palmeiro and outfielders Juan Gonzalez and Larry Walker. Palmeiro and Gonzalez will have a rough time.
Despite being only the fourth player in history to get more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, Palmeiro is a long shot because of his positive test for anabolic steroids in 2005, the same year he testified before Congress that he had never taken them. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray, the only other members of both the 3,000 Hit and 500 Home Run Clubs were elected in their first years of eligibility.
Gonzales, a two-time AL Most Valuable Player, showed up in the Mitchell Report as a steroids user, which could hurt his chances for a big vote. After all, Mark McGwire with his 587 home runs has been on the ballot for four years and is hovering at 23 percent.
Bagwell, who had an amazing career (.297, 449 home runs, 1,529 RBI, 1,517 runs, .408 on-base percentage, .540 slugging percentage), never failed a drug test but faced suspicions of possible performance-enhancing aid after he felt in love with the weight room in the mid-1990s. Walker, like Bagwell a National League MVP, had some very good years in Montreal and then some monster years in Colorado. Will the Coors Field effect hurt his chances?
See, this voting stuff isn’t easy. After thorough study, I finally filled out my ballot.
Checks went to Alomar, Bagwell, Blyleven, Walker, Mattingly, Raines, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff and Jack Morris.
My take on Bagwell was that he is innocent until proved guilty. Larkin is following a path not dissimilar to another NL MVP middle infielder who took a few years to get to Cooperstown, Ryne Sandberg. Ask any Yankees fan who watched the 1995 Division Series about Edgar Martinez, who was simply one of the greatest right-handed hitters I ever saw. McGriff, who came through the Yankees system but was traded away, slugged 493 homers the clean way and made a major difference on the only Atlanta Braves team to win a World Series. Morris was the ace of every staff for which he pitched, including three teams that won the World Series – the 1984 Tigers, ’91 Twins and ’92 Blue Jays.
Let the arguments begin. I’ll be back after the election.
On the 31st anniversary of Thurman Munson’s death in a small plane crash, discussion among Yankees fans often centers on why he is not in the Hall of Fame. The answer is simple. He was not elected. The question is: Why?
Munson is one of the strangest cases in Hall of Fame voting, which is conducted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America of members with 10 or more consecutive years of coverage. On the face of it, his credentials are impressive. The hard-nosed catcher earned Rookie of the Year (1970) and Most Valuable Player (1976) honors from the BBWAA, drove in 100 or more runs three times, batted .300 five times, won three Gold Gloves, was named to seven All-Star teams and was one of the centerpieces of Yankees teams that won two World Series.
So what went wrong come election time? For one thing, his career was short. Munson played in 11 seasons and hit .292 with 113 home runs. Hall of Fame voters tend to lose for comparisons when voting. There was one obvious comparison for Munson, and that was Roy Campanella, the Brooklyn Dodgers catcher of the 1950s whose career was also shortened (to 10 years) because of a tragic auto accident that paralyzed him.
In his decade in the majors, Campy batted .276 with 242 home runs, played on five World Series teams (winning only once, in 1955), drove in more than 100 runs three times, hit .300 three times, was named to eight All-Star teams and was the National League MVP three times. The Gold Glove was not established until 1957, his last season, but he was acknowledged as one of the game’s best receivers and handlers of pitchers. The writers elected him to the Hall of Fame in 1969 in his fifth year of eligibility.
There does not seem to be much difference, does there? Well, there was one major difference between the two, and that was the matter of personality. Munson was popular with many of his teammates, from Bobby Murcer to Lou Piniella to Jim “Catfish” Hunter to Goose Gossage and beyond, but he was not as well liked by writers for the most part.
Munson had a prickly relationship with the press. He was gruff and impatient. Campanella, on the other hand, was one of the nicest human beings to grace a major-league clubhouse. Extremely popular with teammates and the press alike, Campy’s departure from the game left a definite void, and writers felt he was deserving of Hall recognition eventually.
Should how a player treats the press matter in Hall voting? No, and in most cases it doesn’t. Truth be told, Mickey Mantle wasn’t very sweet with writers during his career. Neither were Willie Mays or Hank Aaron or Warren Spahn or Frank Robinson. And BBWAA members could write encyclopedias about how nasty Eddie Murray was to them. Not everybody in baseball is Yogi Berra or Stan Musial or Ernie Banks. Yet the malicious ones were voted into the Hall by writers anyway, so it is not about that.
What did hurt Munson was that perhaps due to his standoffishness with the press he had no one or previous few championing his case other than Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, whose opinion was prejudiced to say the least. The Boss felt his players should have won every award for which they were candidates and berated voters if it didn’t happen, so his campaigning carried no weight.
Munson’s best vote total was his first year on the ballot, in 1981, when he received 62 votes for 15 percent. He never got more than 10 percent of the vote after that. Munson remained on the ballot the full 15 years, which is amazing considering that he annually gathered only 30 to 40 votes.
My own view is that Munson’s chance to make the Hall was hurt by his going on the ballot immediately. The five-year waiting rule that went into effect in the mid-1950s is waved in the case of players who die. When Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972, there was a movement by writers to override the five-year wait and vote him in. A special election was held during spring training in 1973 and Clemente received 93 percent of the vote.
Clemente was a fairly obvious Hall of Fame choice, however, with 3,000 hits, an MVP Award, a World Series MVP and a dozen Gold Gloves, even though his relationship with the press was along the lines of Munson’s.
The five-year waiting period is a good rule. It allows perspective to become part of the equation in evaluating a player’s career. Campanella had to wait five years because he did not die. Munson went on the ballot too soon for his supporters’ good. Had writers been able to step back for five years and then look at his career, I feel that his chances would have been better.
Now Munson’s case falls to the Veterans Committee. As chairman of the BBWAA’s Historical Overview Committee which forms the Veterans Committee ballots, I can tell you that Munson get his day in court and just may make it one of these years.
So who needs Cliff Lee?
Other than the Mariners, that is.
It likely would have been a different game Friday night if Lee had still been in Seattle and on the mound as was originally scheduled before he was traded to the Rangers after a seemingly done deal with the Yankees fell apart.
The Yankees looked like they had the blues over not landing Lee for five innings, but while they did not have the former Cy Young Award winner they did have Phil Hughes, who just might be a future Cy Young Award winner.
With the Yankees’ seventh straight victory, Hughes joined teammates Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia as an 11-game winner, the first trio on the same team to do that before the All-Star break in 11 years since the 1999 Astros. Hughes, coming off a couple of shaky outings since he was skipped a turn in the rotation to avoid overuse, was back to his dominant self.
The righthander, who had five strikeouts and did not walk a batter, gave up four doubles among six hits he yielded to the Mariners but only one in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position, a double in the sixth to Jose Lopez that scored Chone Figgins, whose double ended a stretch of 126 at-bats without an extra-base hit since June 1, which is hard to fathom.
Hughes entered that inning with a five-run lead, thanks in part to Lopez, the third baseman whose failure to smother a hard grounder by Derek Jeter helped fuel a four-run Yankees rally in the top of the sixth. Alex Rodriguez got his 25th RBI with the bases loaded this season with a sacrifice fly. Even better signs were a two-run triple by Robinson Cano, who has been anything but hot in July (.188), and a two-out, RBI single by Curtis Granderson, who is starting to come around (.333 on the trip).
David Pauley, the former Red Sox righthander who came out of the bullpen to start in Lee’s place, gave up a home run to Mark Teixeira and a single to Rodriguez in the first inning, then retired 13 batters in a row before walking Brett Gardner on a full count to start the sixth. He might have gotten out of the inning if Lopez had been able to hang on to Jeter’s ball, hit so hard that a double play was makeable.
Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu then called on his bullpen, which is always a mistake. The Yankees got to Chad Cordero as the Seattle pen’s league-worst ERA swelled to 4.84.
Teixeira homered from both sides of the plate, connecting from the right side off lefthander Luke French in the ninth. It marked the 10th time Tex has accomplished the feat. The record is 11 shared by Eddie Murray and Chili Davis. Texeira is tied for next best with teammate Nick Swisher, Tony Clark, Ken Caminiti and Mickey Mantle.
It continued a torrid July for Teixeira, who is batting .353 with four doubles, four home runs, 11 RBI and an .824 slugging percentage in 34 at-bats this month to raise his average 12 points to .243. The All-Star break couldn’t come at a worse time for him.
Sometimes, the numbers don’t lie. That is why statisticians keep them. No sooner had I looked up what Alex Rodriguez had done in his career against Twins reliever Matt Guerrier that A-Rod padded those stats big-time. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had just ordered Mark Teixeira intentionally walked to bring up Rodriguez, whose power has been under question this season what with only three home runs in 125 at-bats entering play Friday night.
In came Guerrier, whose luck against Rodriguez had been horrid. A-Rod was 4-for-6 with a double, three home runs and four RBI against the righthander. Two swings later, that was amended to 5-for-7 with a double, four home runs and eight RBI. The grand slam thrust the Yankees into the lead toward an 8-4 victory
It was another late-inning disaster for Gardenhire, whose Twins bit the dirt against the Yankees in all 10 games they played against each other last year, including three in the American League Division Series when Minnesota blew a lead in each game.
Gardenhire is one of my favorite people in the game. I have known him for nearly 30 years. We first met in 1981 when I was covering the Mets and he was called up from Triple A, a prospect from Oklahoma who had been a top college shortstop at the University of Texas. I’d see him periodically when he was on Tom Kelly’s staff as a coach with the Twins and have bemoaned his being the runner-up in AL Manager of the Year Award balloting four times.
But, Gardy, Matt Guerrier for Alex Rodriguez?
“We were aware of the numbers,” Gardenhire said later, “but Matty is our best right-handed setup guy. You have to forget about the numbers and go with your best in that situation. With their 3-4 hitters, it’s pick your poison. We put Teixeira on because we wanted to set up a possible double play and hope A-Rod hits the ball on the ground. It didn’t work out.”
What that move did in costing the Twins the game was also to take Yankees manager Joe Girardi off the hook. He played it by the book in the top of the seventh by bringing in lefthander Damaso Marte to face lefty-swinging Joe Mauer with a runner on second and two out. Mauer promptly singled to center, tying the score. Marte didn’t have any luck against lefty-swinging Justin Morneau, either. Morneau doubled home Mauer to give Minnesota a lead that was to be short-lived as so many seem for the Twins against the Yankees.
With numbers in mind, A-Rod reached heady company with the drive off Guerrier. It was career number 587 for Rodriguez, who passed Hall of Famer Frank Robinson for seventh place on the career list. No. 6 is Sammy Sosa at 609. It was also A-Rod’s 19th career grand slam, tying Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for third place on that list. The record belongs to Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig with 23, followed by the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez with 21.
Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, who followed a double by Juan Miranda with a triple in the eighth, raised his league-leading batting average with runners in scoring position to .769 with 14 RBI in 13 such at-bats.