Results tagged ‘ Eric Aybar ’
What a way to start the second half. The Yankees’ come-from-behind, 6-5 victory over the Angels Friday night was satisfying in so many ways, not the least of which was the effort of Russell Martin, who had a miserable first half at the plate but who got the second half off to an encouraging start with perhaps his best all-around game of the year.
Yes, I can hear the snickering out there. Martin didn’t have to do much to have his best game, but his manager, a former catcher himself, saw a lot he liked just a few days after the two had talked things out behind closed doors. Joe Girardi decided not to pinch-hit for Martin when it appeared called for in the bottom of the eighth inning and was rewarded for the call as Martin hit a broken-bat single to right field to drive in the deciding run.
“I feel a lot better than I did before the game,” said Martin, who took a .179 batting average into the game that rose slightly to .181 with the hit. “I was hoping he wouldn’t pinch-hit for me, but if he did I would have understood.”
Girardi had sent Alex Rodriguez up to bat for Martin in the ninth inning last Saturday night at Boston in a blowout loss to the Red Sox. A message? Perhaps. Girardi did not say. Friday night was different, however.
“I had no thoughts of pinch hitting for him,” Girardi said. “I liked what I saw of him tonight.”
That included Martin’s work behind the plate. He threw out three runners on the basepaths and guided Hiroki Kuroda through six innings of one-run, two-hit pitching before Mark Trumbo put the Yankees in a hole from which Martin and Mark Teixeira eventually helped the Yanks escape.
Teixeira, who also had some glum times early in the first half, had a monster night with two home runs and five RBI. Think of the damage the Yankees can do if these two guys get back on all cylinders.
I don’t know if anyone from Kansas City was watching Friday night’s Yankees-Angels game, but they would have seen why Trumbo was one of the sluggers Robinson Cano chose over the Royals’ Billy Butler for the American League team in the All-Star Home Run Derby.
Trumbo, who beat the Yankees with a ninth-inning home run May 28 at Anaheim, pounded a drive into the bleachers in left-center field at Yankee Stadium for a three-run home run that cost Kuroda the lead in the seventh inning. Trumbo’s 23rd home run of the season was as impressive a blow as any he hit at Kauffman Stadium Monday night in the event that stirred the passion of Royals fans who booed Cano for two days there because of their perceived slight of Butler.
Kuroda, who beat the Angels in the Yankees’ home opener in April and was trying to get the second half off to a similar start, entered the seventh working on a two-hitter with a 2-1 lead. Albert Pujols, who has righted himself since that terrible start back in April, began the inning with a single to left-center.
Kuroda asked for trouble by hitting Kendrys Morales with a two-strike pitch prior to having to face Trumbo, who has become one of the most feared hitters in the majors. The long home run off Kuroda made it five consecutive games against the Yankees for Trumbo.
The Yankees had taken away the 1-0 lead Eric Aybar provided with a home run in the third when Teixeira connected for his 16th home run in the bottom of the inning. Scoring ahead of Tex was Derek Jeter with career run No. 1,817 to push him past Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski into 16th place on the all-time list.
The Yanks wasted a prime scoring opportunity in the sixth when Curtis Granderson led off with a triple on a failed diving catch attempt by Angels center fielder Mike Trout but died at third as Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano could not get the ball out of the infield.
The seventh was nearly the same, but again C.J. Wilson worked out of trouble. Nick Swisher led off with a double to left and crossed to third on Andruw Jones’ flyout to the warning track in right field. Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo made a good recovery on a tricky grounder by Martin to get the second out and Jayson Nix struck out leaving Swish stranded at third.
All that changed in the eighth after the Angels had increased their advantage to 5-2 on doubles by Trout and Pujols. Trumbo made a strong bid for another homer, but Swisher caught the ball on a leap in front of the right field auxiliary scoreboard.
The Yankees struck quickly in the bottom of the eighth against lefthander Scott Downs, who had allowed only one earned run all season in 30 innings but ended up allowing four runs that cost his team the game. Jeter doubled, Granderson walked and Teixeira went boom again, a three-run bomb that tied the score.
Even after two were out, the Yankees were not done. Downs’ last batter was Swisher, who walked. DeWayne Wise ran for Swish and got a big stolen base. With first base open, Angels manager Mike Scioscia had Raul Ibanez walked intentionally after the count got to three balls.
I must admit that I expected Eric Chavez to hit for Martin in that spot. Chavez grabbed a bat and went back to the cage because he had told he would hit for Jayson Nix if Martin kept the rally going. Martin did more than that. The Yankees truly hope he can continue along that line.